Daily Archives: May 26, 2010

How Many Nicknames Does It Take To Plug An Oil Spill?

Published May 26, 2010

Blog host Andrew Phelps here. This guest post comes from our new Radio Boston intern, Talia Ralph, who (informatively) lightens up an otherwise sad story.

BP has begun another ambitious effort to plug the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s named something appropriately scary: “top kill,” which involves pumping heavy mud into the gusher to plug up the blown-out well.

Who comes up with these ideas? Is there a point person? And who names them?

While the company experiments, the oil has harmed endangered eco-life, slithered through the Louisiana wetlands and even — gasp — bumped several Florida beaches off the 10 Best Beaches list just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

As an exercise in both wordplay and corporate accountability, we present other actual strategies that BP has considered over the past month:

  • Junk shot: If “top kill,” definitive though it sounds, falls through, this is the back-up plan. This plugging-the-hole strategy involves tossing golf balls, tire bits and rope into the well to stop the oil from spreading, followed by mud and cement.
  • Top hat: File this under “lost cause.” BP attempted to lower a small box over the spill on May 11, after a larger, four-story containment device failed.
  • Hair for oil: Boston blogger and columnist Mike Mennonno highlights a particularly inventive strategy. Salons across the country are sending swept-up hair to the Gulf in the hopes it might be used to clog the hole. After all, as our Hubbub host Andrew Phelps pointed out, “What clogs a drain better than hair?” The hair has yet to be used.
  • Controlled burns: Oxymoronic though it sounds, this strategy was tried early in the game.
  • Nuke it: If all else fails, a nuclear explosion to collapse the leaking oil well is a scientifically — if not politically — viable option. (Seriously.)

Do you have a good idea for stopping this spill, once and for all? Shamwow? (Holds 12 times its weight in liquid!) What would you name your idea? Shout out in the comments.

Listening In On Facebook's Conference Call

Published May 26, 2010

The other day, we discussed the idea of covering Facebook on Radio Boston. Just because it was founded at Harvard, I argued, it’s not a local story. Our executive producer, Iris Adler, replied: Facebook has 350 400 million users. It’s local for everyone.

Good point.

I’m following the company’s teleconference about privacy now (apparently so jammed, another producer can’t get on), and I will post updates here.

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There's No 'H' In Amherst

Published May 26, 2010

I apologize. I grovel. I genuflect to the proud people just off I-91.

In Tuesday’s show, I mispronounced “Amherst.” And not just once. I think I mucked it up about a half-dozen times.

And how did I mispronounce the town’s name? In that dunderheaded inside-Route 128 way, of course. I said, am-HEARST, and not AM-erst, as Amherst should be properly pronounced.

That darned silent ‘H’.

You know what’s especially, deliciously ironic about that? My very own name has a silent ‘H’ in it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to correct people who bulldoze their way through Meghna with a courageous, “Um, hi, meg-HUH-nah.” When really, they should’ve just opted for the simpler and correct, “Hey, MEG-nah.”

(And to think, I love Amherst. I’ve been to Amherst. I’ve got friends who live in Amherst. What other sniveling B-list celebrity mea culpas can I come up with?)

So, Amherstians, I offer you a linguistic olive branch. Since I screwed up your name, for the next 24 hours, you’re allowed to screw up mine.


Update from Andrew: There is some discussion on Twitter about whether to pronounce the ‘H’ when referring to the college. I called the college to settle this: