Posts Tagged ‘feng-shui’

Frisson d’Avril

April 1, 2017

The yin water Rabbit month ended earlier this week (on Monday or Tuesday, depending on your location under the rising new moon), but feng shui misfortunes persist for those whose star-crossed destinies are in clash with the Year of the Fowl.  Case in point: Park Geun-hye, dowager queen of Hell-Joseon.

Four years and three months after being elected, the same Park Geun-hye who vowed to become a “public welfare president” and “a president for unity” was incarcerated on March 31 as a suspect in 13 criminal charges, including bribery. The arrest warrant, which was issued by Seoul Central District Court 21 days after the Constitutional Court removed Park from presidential office, is based on a number of charges against her, including the acceptance of a 43.3 billion won (US$38.6 million) bribe from Samsung.  “Since the main charges have been established and there are concerns about the destruction of evidence, we grant the grounds for detention, its necessity and its significance,” Judge Kang Bu-yeong said.

Prosecutors managed to back up their charge that Park received 43.3 billion won from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (in jail under investigative detention) in return for government rulings that helped him inherit management rights over the Samsung Group.  Their evidence included the notebook of Park’s former aide, Senior Secretary for Economic Affairs Ahn Jong-beom (in jail awaiting trial) and several text messages exchanged by Samsung staff who were discussing financial support for Choi Sun-sil’s daughter Jung Yu-ra.

Prosecutors are very likely to file charges against Park before April 17, which marks the beginning of the official election period [stipulated under Korea’s Constitution].  Prosecutors are also likely to speed up their investigation of Samsung and other chaebols, including Lotte and SK, who have come up in the investigation of Choi Sun-sil.

Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin

Two years ago, the handwriting on the wall which foretold Park’s downfall was literally there to be seen  –hiding in plain sight in her presidential palace.  But the message was written in the language of images rather than in Hangul or Roman characters.  I blogged about this cryptic portent in January 2015, parsing the symbolic meaning of imagery depicted in a scenic backdrop that formed part of the stage set for Park’s New Year’s message to the Korean people.  In retrospect, given what we now know about Choi Sun-sil’s control over the presentation of Park’s public persona, it’s clear that the iconic symbols crammed into the landscape were almost certainly chosen by Choi herself as a coded message to the business executives she was shaking down:  the president’s treasure bowl is to be filled through the three Blue House aides portrayed as grazing deer.

So, because Korean history inevitably repeats itself, I’m not at all surprised that the ROK is once again submerged in a tsunami of scandalous corruption.  Lee Myung-bak‘s Republic of Hyundai was briefly succeeded by Lee Jae-yong‘s Republic of Samsung, and now something else will be hastily cobbled together to masquerade as governance in the southern provinces.  In a waning Yin Fire year, Earth and Metal are signs of Korea’s future.

 

Gorilla in the Room

March 10, 2017

It has all the “elements” of an ominous feng-shui prophecy in the ancestral homeland of the domesticated fowl: carelessness with yin Fire destroys yang Fire Monkey in the southern capital of an ancient kingdom.  But this ain’t no accident, and it’s no laughing matter either.

Film buffs with the hottest ticket in Ho Chi Minh City were left running for safety after a giant model of King Kong went up in flames at the sizzling Vietnam premiere of the rebooted horror classic.  The blaze began as a glamorous announcer welcomed Communist Party officials, diplomats and celebrities to the screening of ‘Kong: Skull Island‘ on Thursday night.  A torch discarded by a fire dancer apparently ignited part of the stage, and the flames quickly spread to the scenery and backdrop.  … The fire was extinguished after five minutes.

Although some jaded Saigon cynics immediately dismissed Kong’s trial-by-fire as a Hollywood PR stunt, Lunghu believes that there’s a bit more to this spectacularly minor episode than mere capitalist marketing.  Instead, use a deeper perception nurtured by the Dao to understand this fifteen minutes of infamy as a feng-shui warning to the 300-pound gorilla of East Asia (the PRC) from the communist guerrillas of the yin Fire South: the Viet Cong. … Or vice versa.

Reflect deeply upon this.

 

Mea Culpa

February 3, 2017

Waking The Dragon sincerely apologizes for the unprecedented accuracy of its feng-shui predictions (thus far) in the Year of the Fowl.  As always, the key to “successful” feng-shui prognostication is the preemptive construction of vague, broad, wide-ranging and sweeping statements about possible future events in every corner of the globe.  That way, at least a few “predictions” are almost certain to “come true,” permitting the soothsayer to take credit for being correct.  But still: this is way, way outta control.  Let’s review:

Fowl “Self-Penalty”

Wife’s TV clip poses new problems for France’s Fillon

 

Rabbits in clash with the Fowl

 

The East Under Tai Sui’s Glowering Gaze

 

Discredit Where It’s Due

Back in the day (a half-decade ago), I jokingly claimed that Waking the Dragon had somehow become “an uncompensated, unacknowledged strategic brand advisor to the Russian Federation.”  I made that quip after (at least) two instances in which my blogposts were followed by the eerie echoes of subsequent events in the wild, weird world of neo-Soviet Russia.  Somewhat more recently, I indulged in extended musing on the ways in which literary narrative can shape adversary intent … and how intelligence agencies can thus gain greater insight into the minds of their foes.  Little did I realize that an unintended audience was paying more attention than the intended one, and that –in some ways– I may have been ghostwriting a few chapters of the game plan for a truly improbable presidential campaign.  Truly ironic, given the theme of that post.

Therefore, although I’m continuing to organize and refine my thoughts concerning the cultural implications of narrative form and its uses in shaping mass opinion, the Neighbors are going to have to work quite a bit harder to learn my conclusions.  It won’t be handed to them on an earthenware platter labelled “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.

Out.

 

Fowl Play

January 24, 2017

Winter Solstice –> subsequent full moon –> subsequent new moon = Lunar New Year.  January 28 2017 marks the beginning of the Year of the Fowl (elsewhere known as the Year of the Rooster or Year of the Chicken).  In the unceasing alternation of yin and yang, the Year of the Yang Fire Monkey will give way to the Year of the Yin Fire Fowl.  Because Yin Fire has feminine characteristics, it is not appropriate to refer to this year’s particular poultry specimen as a rooster … perhaps not even as a capon.  Thus my choice of the gender-neutral term Fowl.

 

jiaxing_fowl_1

I’ve decided not to use the word “Hen” because of the dismissively pejorative sense in which it is often used by a certain category of person.  Furthermore, the word Fowl is more broadly inclusive, permitting us to evoke such related species as quail, pheasants, turkeys, ducks, cormorants, geese, cranes, storks, and swans.  Thus we move our minds and imaginative vision beyond the familiar domestic barnyard into the great outdoors, with its woodlands, prairies, tundra, marshes, streams, ponds and lakes.  Under the vast sweep of the endless sky, flocking fowl of all descriptions fly from place to place in search of forage and their ancestral nesting grounds.  Most will never end their days in a bubbling bath of mushroom wine sauce.

But let’s take it from the top: first the Celestial Stem, then the Earthly Branch.  This year’s stem is Ding [ 丁 ] (meaning “an individual”).  Ding is governed by the yin Fire element and is therefore associated with the South direction.  Yin Fire is the weaker form of fire, manifested in small light sources such as candlelight, starlight, torches, stoves and sparks. The association with fire gives Ding a visual affinity with colors such as red, orange, pink and purple. It is the fourth in the sequence of ten Celestial Stems, and is thus almost halfway through the celestial cycle.  For feng-shui soothsayers it is the yin Fire element that constitutes Ding‘s most influential attribute.  According to your neighborhood Daoist seer, interaction between the year’s Celestial Stem element and its Earthly Branch element is what causes the manifold terrestrial phenomena that we see unfold before our eyes as the year progresses.

Which brings us to this year’s Earthly Branch, You [ 酉 ] (meaning “ripe” or “complete”).  In the animal zodiac it corresponds to the Fowl.  The Fowl is a yin Metal element associated with the West direction.  Yin Metal represents the lesser, weaker form of metal, so it is associated with small metal objects: small knives, scissors, garden implements, farming tools or pins and needles … or items made of soft metals like gold, silver, copper or lead (coins, jewelry, plumbing or bullets, for example).

The Fowl (yin Metal) is also one of four “Peach Blossom” animals in the Chinese zodiac associated with heightened sexuality. The other three are Rabbit (yin Wood), Horse (yang Fire), and Rat (yang Water).  Two yin animals, two yang animals: understand?  You may also have noticed that only four out of the five elements are represented among the “Peach Blossom” animals.  That’s because you gotta have yin-yang balance for the heavenly cycle to continue its eternal rotation.  An Earth element presence among the Peach Blossoms, whether yin (Cow or Sheep) or yang (Dragon or Dog), would be like a third wheel on the bicycle built for two.

What does all this mean for 2017?  Well, the Celestial Stem above controls the Earthly Branch below, and thus we have yin Fire above the yin Metal Fowl.  In the Five Elements destructive cycle of relationships, Fire has a controlling/ destructive influence on Metal (fire melts metal).  This is definitely a negative portent for 2017:  the strong of this world will continue to bully and exploit the weak.  It’s scant consolation that the strong will be somewhat weaker this year than in 2016 now that yin Fire has succeeded yang Fire.  That’s because the weak will also be weaker this year: yin Metal Fowl has replaced yang Metal Monkey, a stronger Metal element who was better able to resist yang Fire.

The combination of Fire and Metal in 2017 has prompted some feng shui soothsayers to warn of fire-related disasters initiated by sparks or flame –such as brush fires, lightning strikes, power failures, electrical accidents, explosions or perhaps a towering inferno in a very prominent steel-frame building.  Because Ding yin Fire is associated with the South direction, these possible misfortunes are said to be more likely to occur in southern regions of the globe, southern portions of a nation, or southern areas of a large city.  Houston, do we have a problem?  SDNY?  Perhaps we’ll see.

But wait, there’s more.  The avian presence of a Metal Fowl in the Earthly Branch implies that airborne soft metal (aluminum?) objects are at risk of fire as well.  In this context, rocket and missile launches may not go well.  Some prognosticators go so far as advising travelers to avoid airlines with a red logo (the color of Ding Fire), a bird in their logo (Lufthansa?) or the word “East” in the airline name.  This last proviso seems to rooted in the fact that East is the direction of the Rabbit, who is directly “in clash” with the Fowl this year.  Thus East is “offending the year.”

Jan 25th update: this could really cut down on your travel options, since cursory research indicates that at least 50 air carriers have a bird of some kind in their logo.  Several prominent airlines that don’t use a bird image instead have predominantly red logos:

  • Air Canada (a maple leaf)
  • Avianca
  • Dragonair (a red dragon)
  • Emirates (Arabic script in red)
  • Iberia (a stylized Spanish flag of red & gold)
  • Malaysian Airlines (’nuff said)
  • Quantas (a kangaroo on a red background)
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Swissair (the Swiss flag)
  • Virgin Atlantic

daedong_ck

I’m going to briefly riff off this last point to make a prediction of my own.  In Korean, as in Chinese, the word for East is ‘Dong‘ (pronounced ‘doong’).  Daedong (Great East) Industrial Company, Ltd. is a manufacturer of farm machinery based in Daegu, South Korea.  Their tractors are red (or maybe orange).  Daegu is a political stronghold of Korea’s beleaguered Saenuri party, whose leader is recently-impeached President Park Geun-hye … born in the Year of the Rabbit … in Daegu.  I’m thinking this combination won’t be good for soon-to-be-ex-President Park in 2017, and it won’t be good for Daedong Industrial Company, Ltd either.  The Rabbit month (March) will be when Korea’s Constitutional Court is likely to rule on the validity of Park’s impeachment.

Of course, there’s another Daedong in Korea, too.  It’s the Taedong River in North Korea, which runs right through the capital Pyongyang.  Since I haven’t looked at the Four Pillars feng-shui birth chart of Kim Jong-un, that’s all I’m gonna say.

Economic Portents

The interaction of Fire and Metal can also be expected to have an influence on human economic activity throughout the world.  Since Fire element controls the Metal element, Metal industries like banking, engineering, computers, automobiles and precious metals might be expected to do poorly during 2017.

On the other hand, Fire industries should prosper: electrical power, entertainment, fashion, beauty, film, and broadcasting may do quite well. The influence of the Peach Blossom Fowl should also assist entrepreneurs in sex and pornography businesses, bars, nightclubs and matchmaking/dating services.  The combination of yin Fire sparks and Peach Blossom should make things hot-hot-hot.

Less obviously, the unseen interaction of Water and Fire may provide an opportunity for investors in Water industries.  This is because Water conquers (quenches) Fire, so Water will benefit from its dominant position during a (weak) Fire year.  Water industries are all about flow: transport, communications, water purification/treatment, shipping, and logistics.

Can investing really be this easy?  Perhaps not.  The lunar calendar divides the twelve months of the year among the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, starting with the tiger in the first month (February, to you Gregorians).  Each of the twelve animals has harmonious relations with some –but not all– of the others.  Animals located 90⁰, 180⁰, and 270⁰ degrees away from each other are in conflict.  The animal directly across the zodiac (180⁰ away) is most severely “in clash” but the two at right angles are also in disfavor.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s the animals that clash with the Earthly Branch that matter most each year.

In the Year of the Fowl, these animals are the Rat (90⁰), Rabbit (180⁰), and Horse (270⁰).  Each of these animals corresponds to a calendar month: March [Rabbit], June [Horse], December [Rat].  The Fowl itself corresponds to September, when it will be in “Self-Penalty.”  These four months supposedly constitute investment “danger zones” when clashes between the Earthly Branch yearly animal and the monthly animals may cause disruption to Fire element price-support optimism.

In my opinion, June doesn’t look too bad, because it’s a yang Fire month with a yang Fire Horse: even if the Fowl and Horse don’t get along, double yang Fire month should support the yin Fire year.  However, December is a completely different story, where you have a yang Water month with a yang Water Rat.  This double yang Water month is quite likely to thoroughly quench the weak and waning yin Fire of 2017.  Investors should probably try to cash out by Halloween in order to avoid a truly frightful holiday season.  The Year of the Double Yang Earth Dog will right around the corner.

 

 

Texas 2-Step

March 14, 2016

Seems like the Year of the Goat all over again.  Even though Tai Sui‘s celestial seat is supposed to be located in the west-southwest during the Year of the Monkey, misfortune continues to befall travelers in and around the annual SXSW festival in Austin.  It’s almost as though the previous year’s Tai Sui has refused to cede full power over human fate to his duly-appointed successor.  If so, this could be an ominous portent.

  • Exhibit One —

Louis Meyers, one of the four founders of the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in 1987, died early Friday of a heart attack in Austin, on the day the SXSW festival opened for its 30th year.  He was 60.  Meyers was the SXSW’s music festival director for its first eight years.  He sold his share in the business to partners Roland Swenson, Louis Black and Nick Barbaro after the 1994 conference.

Louis_Meyers

  • Exhibit Two —

Ibtihaj Muhammad is ranked seventh in the world in the women’s saber.  She earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic fencing team in January and will become the first U.S. athlete to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab (red, white and blue, of course), the head scarf she wears in accordance with her religious beliefs. [But] on Saturday at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, Muhammad was asked by a volunteer to remove her hijab for a security photo and later tweeted that she couldn’t “make this stuff up.”

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Muhammad, the daughter of a retired detective and a special education teacher, is intent on using her time in the spotlight to show the U.S. and the rest of the world that Muslim-Americans should be embraced, not shunned. “I’ve never questioned myself as an American and my position here,” Muhammad said. “This is my home. This is who I am. My family has always been here. We’re American by birth, and it’s a part of who I am and this is all that I know.

  • Exhibit Three —

United Flight 1704 left Newark Liberty International Airport en route to Austin at 6 a.m. Monday.  But it returned to the airport twenty minutes later after the crew on the Boeing 739 reported a strong odor in the cabin.  An investigation is underway on what might have caused the smell, which was described only as strong.

Of course, New Jerseyans know strong odors when they smell ’em: after all, the Bayway refinery in Elizabeth has been stinking up the northern stretch of Turnpike for generations.  So the aircraft cabin stench probably wasn’t merely petrochemical in nature.  Instead, this story reminds me of the two-step test for land navigation in the southwestern U.S.:  If you smell shit, you’re in Oklahoma.  When you step in it, you’re in Texas.

Cow_pie

 

Burning Questions

February 6, 2016

Wouldn’t you say that Sakurajima is just about as far to the west-southwest as it’s possible to travel in the Home Islands of Japan?  It sure looks that way to me.

Kyushu_

So from a feng-shui perspective, it appears that Tai Sui has stirred in his celestial throne just as the Year of the Monkey is about to “officially” commence.  Should we interpret this as an indication that Shinzo Abe, the Diet and the Bank of Japan are pursuing policies that are in conflict with the mandate of heaven?  Probably just a coincidence…

Sakurajima_21060205

Just to be safe, though, Koreans should probably steer clear of Mokpo for the next few weeks.  Park Geun-hye and Kim Jong-un are both playing with Fire these days.

 

Forests of the Night

January 13, 2016

After a week’s reflection on serious matters in Westphalia, it’s now perhaps time to return to a frivolous theme with global implications.  That’s right, it’s time for further feng-shui forecasts concerning hidden geomantic influences that await us during the Year of the Monkey!  When last we visited this topic, I noted that the Monkey is offending the Year in 2016, and listed several commercial enterprises associated with simian imagery which may consequently experience difficulty in the coming year.  Now –while there’s still time to take corrective measures– it is surely appropriate to note the potential dangers that await the Tiger, which is in clash with the Monkey because of its position directly opposite in the Chinese zodiac.

Among the myriad athletic teams (in the United States) which have chosen the Tiger as their emblem, one has already felt the sting of the Monkey’s anger.  I refer to the Clemson University Tigers, who failed in their attempt to win 15 consecutive games and the America college football championship when they were defeated by the University of Alabama ‘Crimson Tide‘ on January 11th.  Many other ‘Tiger’ teams may well suffer a similar fate in the coming year, and the negative influence of the Monkey Year will undoubtedly extend to related feline species such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, panthers, cougars, pumas, and catamounts.  The pain and suffering won’t be confined to the athletic playing field, either: corporations and NGO’s that use a ‘big cat’ name, logo or emblem may also struggle during 2016.  Here are a few big-name players who may wish they hadn’t earned their stripes … or may yet yearn to change their spots:

Singapore merger may be difficult

Singapore merger may be difficult

 

Rigs, refineries, pipelines --what could go wrong?

Rigs, refineries, pipelines –what could go wrong?

 

Not so Grrreat

Not so Grrreat

 

practically anything's possible

practically anything’s possible

 

FIFA & IAAF sponsorship deals?

FIFA & IAAF sponsorship deals?

Jaguar

Merc_Cougar

Snow_Leopard_Conservancy

Apple OS X: Leopard-> Snow Leopard-> Lion

Apple OS X: Leopard-> Snow Leopard-> Lion

 

Quaker Oats Co: Aunt Jemima brings the syrup

Quaker Oats Co: Aunt Jemima brings the syrup

 

 

Rhymes With Funky

January 6, 2016

My previous post outlined a few feng-shui highlights that may characterize the Year of the Monkey.  Among them was the observation that “the Monkey is offending the year”: each animal of the Chinese zodiac in its turn is affected by the timeless cosmic forces that shape the earthly destinies of all creatures under heaven.  Feng-shui soothsayers like to emphasize that this phenomenon of potential negative energy applies (in varying degrees) to people born in a Monkey year, Monkey month, Monkey day or Monkey hour –and also to corporate entities founded at such times.  In my unsophisticated opinion, the influence extends even further, also encompassing any corporations or groups that use the name or image of a monkey in their corporate title or logo.  Close relatives of the monkey such as chimpanzees, apes, baboons, macaques or bonobos also fall within this general category.

Therefore, here are some of the organizations that should consider feng-shui countermeasures in the coming year:

Survey says ... don't offend Tai Sui!

Survey says … don’t offend Tai Sui!

 

Return to sender?

Return to sender?

 

Will investors take a bath?

Will investors take a bath?

 

Perish the thought at publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Perish the thought at publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

 

Hanna Barbera can do better

Hanna Barbera can do better

 

Is this Donald Trump's PR co.?

Is this Donald Trump’s PR co.?

 

Obscurity is no defense against cosmic justice...

Obscurity is no defense against cosmic justice…


 

Next time, Tigers in clash with the Monkey…

 

Divine Vengeance

January 3, 2016

I recently awoke from a deep slumber and realized that it’s now the year 2016.  More than that, it appears to be the dawn of a new era  –because I felt no compulsion to conduct a recapitulation of media coverage analyzing Kim Jung-un‘s 2016 New Year message.  The message itself was lackluster, running-dog capitalist lackey reporting was scantier than ever, and wistful sorrow at the passing of Kim Yang-gon clung like a shroud to the entire topic.  Major wire services such as Reuters, Associated Press and Yonhap provided perfunctory reviews of KJU’s New Year’s speech, and Bloomberg deigned to publish 4 brief paragraphs on the story.  Nobody invoked feng-shui to make the observation that with Kim’s yang gone, excess yin in the DPRK may create difficult prospects for the nation during the upcoming Year of the Yang Fire Monkey.

Kim Yang Gon_KJU

Here, at a minimum, is what you need to know to be prepared for the onrushing year, which formally arrives on February 8th:

  • Yang Fire (Heavenly Stem) sits above the Yang Metal Monkey (Earthly Branch) this year.  Fire melts Metal, so it is not an auspicious year.  However, with Fire on top and Metal below, there is reason to hope for optimism, flexibility and progress.
  • Yang Fire symbolizes the power of the Sun, so various aspects of the solar presence may be increasingly prominent this year: photo-voltaic power generation; warming climate; agricultural production; solar flares; astronomic anomalies, and perhaps more.
  • The Metal element of this year’s Earthly Branch will benefit Fire industries, which include energy, entertainment, stock markets, and finance. The Fire element of this year’s Heavenly Stem will benefit Water element industries such as transportation, logistics, shipping, and communications.
  • The heavenly throne of Tai Sui has shifted to the west-southwest.  Be extra careful in places like San Diego, Bordeaux, Bristol, Goteborg, Lisbon, Saarbrucken, Tournai, Mecca, Lhasa, Goa, Palawan, and (above all) Moldova.
  • The Tiger is in direct clash against the Monkey this year.  People born in a Tiger year are in clash against the year during 2016. They are also susceptible to the Three Fire penalty of Tiger, Monkey, Snake.  Corporations using the emblem of the Tiger (or other large cats) will experience difficulty in 2016.  So will the Detroit Tigers.  Perhaps this doesn’t augur well for the Super Bowl LC chances of the Carolina Panthers

 

Carolina_Panthers_logo

Bad Mojo, Mofo

May 22, 2015

Yo.  Peoples:  did I or did I not warn you that Plains All American Pipeline LP was gonna incur bad mojo for stirring up noise and “moving earth” in Tai Sui‘s home turf during the Year of the Goat?  That’s right, I certainly did.  That was in February, as the lunar year began.

Plains All American LP will build two new crude oil pipelines in far West Texas and New Mexico to move Permian Basin production to markets [including] a 60-mile, 16-inch State Line pipeline to connect Culberson County output to Wink, Texas, along the Texas-New Mexico state line.

“Moving earth” and major construction projects in the Grand Duke’s south-southwest realm are surefire ways to irritate the year’s cosmic ruler; this will definitely not turn out well.  It’s clear that the U.S. petroleum industry will have to learn its feng shui protocol the hard way.  Which reinsurance provider is currently holding liability policies on Plains All American LP?  Time to double-check your risk management posture!

20150519_Refugio_2

Who’s scoffing now?  Certainly not the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management and the U.S. Coast Guard.

A 24-inch Plains All American oil pipeline between ExxonMobil’s Las Flores Canyon Processing Facility near Refugio [California] and a Gaviota pumping station 10 miles away [burst on Tuesday morning, spilling] an estimated 105,000 gallons of crude.  About 21,000 gallons is believed to have made it to the sea and split into slicks that stretched 9 miles along coast.  A 23-mile by 7-mile area was closed to fishing.

Since 2006, Plains All American and its subsidiaries have reported 199 accidents and been subject to 22 enforcement actions by federal regulators. The accidents resulted in a combined 725,500 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled and damage topping $25 million.  Corrosion was determined to be the cause in more than 80 of those accidents.  Failures in materials, welds and other equipment were cited more than 70 times.  Enforcement cases against the companies resulted in the collection of $154,000 in penalties, according to a federal database.

photo credits: Paul Wellman (O, the irony!)

photo credits: Paul Wellman (O, the irony!)

However, before attributing this particular industrial debacle to supernatural causes, we might as well consider human agency and direct intervention:

Plains pipeline operations director Rich McMichael said Wednesday evening that two of the company’s pumps had problems on Tuesday morning.  He said the pump was shut down at about 11:30 a.m. after employees noticed a “pressure anomaly.”

“At 10:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, we experienced some mechanical issues at our Las Flores pump station on line 901 to Gaviota, causing the pipeline to shut down. We started the pumps at 10:55 a.m. Pacific Time, but were still having trouble with our pumping units.

“The pump at our Sisquoc Station went down at 11:15 a.m. and the operator in our control center shut the pipeline down at 11:30 a.m.  At 12:30 p.m., we received a call from a local first responder reporting an odor in the area.  We immediately dispatched a Plains employee to the pipeline to make a visual inspection, and he confirmed the release at 1:30 p.m.”

Lemme guess:  Plains All American’s pipeline network is fully automated and monitored by a corresponding network of SCADA control nodes.  Pumps, valves, sensors and alarm stations linked by a company-wide ethernet platform that provides an overall view of system flow, throughput, and operating status.  And that ethernet process-control network is air-gapped from the internet … maybe.  Not that it could be hacked or anything.

The Plains pipeline is the only pipeline in Santa Barbara County without an automatic shutdown valve in case of a rupture. Instead, the Plains pipeline must be shut down manually in case of such emergencies. That’s because Plains All American took Santa Barbara County to court more than 20 years ago to restrict the county’s regulatory oversight.  It won.  According to County Energy Division director Kevin Drude, the SCADA equipment of other pipeline operators is so sensitive it can detect the loss of 20 barrels of oil over a 20-hour period.  By contrast, the Plains pipeline leaked about 2,500 barrels worth of oil in a matter of a few hours before the company’s crew manually shut it down.

Oops!  My bad.  Looks like a semi-automated pipeline with a key vulnerability –no automatic shut-down valve.  “All your leetle pipeline is belong to us.

20150520_Plains

Who wants to be the guy that tells Greg Armstrong his computer network has been completely hacked by the Rooskies?  Who wants to tell Californians –or Jerry Brown— that the Refugio pipeline breach is payback for the United States’ Christmas Eve cyberwar attack on the Rosneft/Transneft pipeline at Tuapse?  Better to blame it all on the cosmic forces of feng shui.