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Gas explosion & mainstream news: beauty of photos & subversive comment sections

by fairleft Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 01:01:16 PM EST

The only thing beautiful about the internet mainstream 'news', aside from the visuals, are the subversive anti-corporate-rule comment sections. The gas line explosion catastrophe near San Francisco provides an excellent example. Though distracted by the beauty of the images emerging from the U.S.'s latest man-made tragedy, I did manage to find perfectly well-informed anonymous speculation in a comment section, on our industry-controlled regulatory nightmare and why things too often go boom in the night:

[Reuter's] Four dead in San Francisco suburb gas line inferno


An industry that is self regulated or largely gets to write its own regulations and provide its own oversight thanks to generously funded lobbying efforts.
aging infrastructure with maintenance/replacement cycles driven by profit considerations
things that go boom in the night.

Over the past decade there has been a flow of reports and articles written independent of the gas industry that chronicle the increasing obsolescence of transportation (pipeline) infrastructure. So this and future deadly accidents should not come as a surprise.

. . .

And yes, it is still too early to be certain as to the cause of this explosion, but given past history of the gas industry and pipeline accidents, I'll go with the odds for now.

"What the hell's going on, this guy/gal some kind of TROLL?!"

Here are some links (not from the mainstream press) to support the comment's main point:

Critics fume over lack of natural gas pipeline oversight

This week [of July 30, 2010], a fracture in an Enbridge Energy pipeline released nearly a million gallons of oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek, Mich. The accident is drawing attention to the obscure Department of Transportation agency responsible for the regulation and oversight of the country's 2.3 million miles of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines: the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA.

A review of PHMSA records shows familiar ties between industry and regulators. A former legal counsel for the company responsible for the spill currently heads the oversight agency. In the last year, PHMSA has granted more than a dozen safety waivers to the companies it regulates. These waivers, industry observers say, have saved companies millions of dollars, but might have put people and property at risk.

Spills and explosions reveal lax regulation of powerful industry

But, yeah, it is still too early to speculate, I suppose. But no, the ecstacy of self-regulation and a submissive mainstream press, this is our permanent fate imposed by our now permanent government. Will the mainstream press even engage in speculation such as that above? Well, it may, but when it does it is temporary and therefore ineffectual, and must be forgotten - `Don't dwell on the free market's imperfections or you're fired!' - in the next mainstream 'news' distraction.

We, the peons, had better just accept our lot in life - whether it's to die in a preventable man-made inferno or to strike it rich in a million-to-one chance lottery - in a wealth-rules new feudalism.

While watching this on the local TV stations for a while last night (I live about 10 miles from where this happened) I noted that local news is now nothing more than the equivalent of me with an internet connection and the ability to use search engines. The "newscasters" have no knowledge beyond an average person on the street, about half of their video feeds were coming from youtube uploads and photo posts, and they were relaying comments from twitter.

All they add is a guy holding a microphone for the interview with the fire chief. I'd also argue that the helicopter video feeds add nothing when people are uploading close-up videos to youtube 10 minutes after they take them.

They did allow some eyewitnesses on TV who ripped on Pacific Gas & Electric along with rumors that someone in the neighborhood "had been smelling gas on the street for the past week." So I'll give them credit for that.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 01:49:28 PM EST
was a Special Report from the MillMan News Network®.

Stay tuned to this blog for further, on scene, updates of this continuing story.


Actually, as you say, that's not far from the truth these days.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 02:13:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweet MillMan. But what did you expect? All the news staffers were trained in internet use in their bedrooms, just like most all of us.

More important, if the "smelling gas" turns out to be true. You can bet that even if not true, this is telling evidence about the potential for repeated and dangerous infrastructure failures.

Having spent several decades in direct high-level contact to PG&E, i don't doubt it. And believe me, PG&E owns the energy politics in California.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 03:06:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm . . . now you've got me really stumped MillMan! I've been trying to figure out the significance of your moniker for awhile now. I was pretty sure you resided somewhere in the Bay Area from the pics you've posted. But where oh where would that be? At first I thought maybe you were a Mill Valley man, but no, that's further than 10 miles from SSF. Could it be you're the Millbrae man; nope, that's less than 10 miles. Milpitas? Millennium Man? MillMan, MillMan, wherefore art thou?
by sgr2 on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 06:35:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not only true - it has always been true.

Before the Internet you didn't even get the Internet part - just some inane 'analysis', a bit of 'anchoring' to tell you what to think, and the person-with-delusions-of-career-prospects-on-microphone-to-camera.

This is still the BBC's main model. And if you watch News24 for any extended period, you'll see there's so little actual news they can only fill the space by repeating themselves over and over.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Sep 11th, 2010 at 08:12:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, while my age was in the single digits in the 80's, I do recall the local news channels doing at least a small bit of real journalism. That ended by the early 90's when they had switched to the infotainment model. But at the time we were still dependent on them for delivery of interviews and video of goings on around the planet. Now - to see them having to work from the same resources as me, with somewhat less skill - it's all kind of amusing and pathetic. When I was a kid the news stations were a bit godlike to me, as they were how I knew the world.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Sep 15th, 2010 at 01:41:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Man dies when Sacramento County house explodes
Man killed, 4 injured - gas leak suspected
December 25, 2008


PG&E Ignored Federal Advisory About Pipeline Coupling That Caused Home Explosion
January 19, 2009

http://www.ranchocordovapost.com/2009/01/19/pge-ignored-federal-advisory-about-pipeline-coupling-tha t-caused-home-explosion/


by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Sep 10th, 2010 at 10:26:50 PM EST

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