Friday, December 31, 2010

Possibilities for the New Year

Yeah, I know I'm lame. I don't talk in terms of predictions, but instead think about possibilities. I'm no Nate Silver, so I don't assign real hard numbers. But these are things my seat of the pants instinct tell me there is a 30-50% chance of happening in the upcoming year. My assessments of the repercussions are pure speculation.

Sports
I'll throw a number here (based on nothing). There is a 25-30% that the teams in a certain American city run the table. You know, win the championship in all 4 major North American sports league. I can't mention the city because it is a scientifically proven FACT that I'll jinx it.

OK fun stuff is over, no some sober assessments:
Energy
The oil peak begins to be felt again, as $4/gallon gas has been forecast and some have suggested $5/ gallon by 2012. Energy supplies will become a real topic, but many will blame price gouging, environmentalists and deliberate under-production rather than accept that we've hit a limit. Obama may use situation this to suggest a real energy policy that could redirect a lot of things in the country (think New Deal for energy), the GOP house will obstruct of course and simply scream "drill, baby drill." Depending on events Obama could pivot this to his advantage. The exurbs, despite what the census recorded (remember that was over ten years) will continue their demise that began in 2007-2008.

Climate
I will go out on a limb and say that the wild patterns we have been experiencing will continue to be the new norm. There will be some more unprecedented events. Denial will continue and people will continue to miss that it isn't just based on politics and economic views, but also on emotion, i.e. fear that a dangerous change is occurring, but unwilling to face it.


American Higher Ed.
There will be an orchestrated push-back against those blaming the cancerous growth of administration for financial woes. There will be some troubling developments in enrollments. Institutions and those in them will still deny that cronyism in faculty hiring, grade inflation, declining standards, coverup of criminal activity, and retribution towards critics and whistleblowers exist within the ivy-covered halls.  But look out, I sense a few high profile scandals.
The science of geology, dominated by academic geologists as it is, will continue its stupid, self-inflicted downward spiral. Departments will close or morph into more ridiculous entities and no one will do a damn thing about it.

Politics
Woe will be the Tea Party. Their vaunted fiscal conservatism will be revealed as nothing more than BAU tax cuts for the rich and using the local, state and national treasuries to enrich the wealthy private good, while cutting the public good taxes pay for. Most of the TP will show their true colors as nothing more than the ol' paranoid hate-filled "social conservatives" that are always floating around (the media will catch on by mid-year and act shocked). In-fighting and scandals will emerge, the new House will start pulling Terry Schiavo acts right out of the gate, starting an obvious alienation of the voters that will surprise the punditry.
Palin will devolve into further into a tabloid characiture, Beck will implode, Limbaugh will abide (unless outed).
A new, diffuse but real change will occur, populism of what used to be called the liberal or progressive kind. But since it will not be new-jerk anti-American and have a more working base, the established and inept liberals will at first ignore it, then attack it, then try to co-opt it.


Economy
One word - stagnation. Neither party in Congress will benefit, the GOP will look obstructionist and more fixated on what you're doing in your bedroom, while the Democrats will squander the opportunity to make a coherent statement on what to do. Naturally the pundits will miss this and then try wildly to spin a narrative. Colbert and Stewart will have a field day (or many). On the state level, the GOP will begin to regret their November success.

World Events
Electoral shocker in Ireland. Afghanistan will grind on, but the U.S. pullback will begin. The secret war against al-Qaeda will continue. Said organization will try some major attacks in Europe.
Korea: hopefully no war, but it's possible. Expect some surprises, an early NK success and use of chemical weapons, SK doing most of the ground fighting and the U.S. introducing the use of converted Ohio class subs to launch devastating cruise missile attacks. The latter will prevent NK from capitalizing on their early success. If this war does occur and coincides with the energy crunch, Obama could use it to push needed energy reforms and paint opposition as.....unpatriotic. This will also dominate the year if it occurs.


Local (SE Penn and environs)
Philly will continue to have crime problems. By the end of the year, people statewide will begin to become angry that no economic benefit is coming from the gas boom. Teabaggers will have some nasty infighting. Why? Farm subsidies.  The solvency of a prominent institution in Newark, DE may not be as good as the institutional leaders have been saying, revelations of this will be considered a scandal.

Goodbye 2010

Traveling and power outages weren't conducive to good blogging the past week and a half. There was a lot to say (New Yorkers are storm wimps, Massholes easily weathered the storm; Scrooge was a Teabagger and so on) but I let those slide into the past, blogging should be current in most of the things I blabbed about.

Coming up is that glorious time of hubris when people make grand prediction for the upcoming year based almost entirely on opinions pulled out of their asses. The only difference with me is I'll tell you what I think are possibilities related to the challenges covered in this blog. I know I could get more traffic by confidently spouting predictions for the upcoming year, but if I was to go that route I might as well write a chupacabra conspiracy blog!

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

and now some Strange news for your Sunday.

Yeah, yeah, I posted serious stuff today and violated my weekend rule. What can I say...I had things to say and no time to say 'em before today.

Wonder what they do for "Feats of Strength" in the clink.

Some super Selectric fun in Philly.

Glad they found this, it was keeping me up at night.

Considering it was our clergy*, it could've been much worse.

Delaware's Joe Biden!

Bigfoot and poetry, of course, it all makes sense now.

They're getting desperate for business in Vegas.

What, I can't bring my haggis?!

A little cold for this stunt in Wisconsin you would think.

* are nuns clergy?

Jon Stewart Shows Dems. and Liberals how Populism is Done

Last Monday, Jon Stewart took Senate Republicans to task for refusing to allow a vote on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to proceed until the tax cuts for the wealthy were extended and the bill changed so that it did not pay for the benefits by closing a tax loophole used by foreign corporations. Stewart was particularly incensed by the fact that the Republican party has been using 9/11 for political gain for 9 years now.

On Thursday, he devoted his entire show to the issue, not only attacking the Republicans, but the news media for failing to cover the story and Democrats for going to bat on this. I might add many liberal bloggers and pundits have also been, and still are, AWOL on this.  There has since been some movement, the story being covered by ABCNews on-line and by broadcast, and some Reps are making noise about changing their votes.

I've also noticed something else. By having the dying responders on his show and allowing them to speak for themselves, and by showing real passion for ordinary people and making the case clearly and simply, he has showed all the puffed-up liberal pundits, bloggers and pols how constructive populism is done.  He and Colbert have been doing it for a while now, and its time those self-righteous posers (like Maher, Moore, Olbermann and most of HuffPo) learn from the these two and stop whining about them.

DADT, WikiLeaks, and Palin - "Meh"

There's a number of subjects in the so-called news that are generating a lot of noise and show, but leave me with a feeling of, "yeah, so" to varying degrees.

First the repeal of  "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". This is truly a big deal for gay service members or those who want to serve, so I'm not trying to discount the importance of it.  And it is making the wingnuts heads explode, which is always fun to watch.  Now I think it would've caused a lot of trouble when I was in back in the '80s, but since people overall today are more accepting of it, my response to predictions of doom is "meh", won't happen. Although again, reading wingnuttery at this level of insanity is always good for a chuckle. You know, if it cuts down on the backwards ass hicks who join, that will be a positive result.

Now on to Wikileaks. Julian Assange is either an evil villain or a brave, persecuted hero, depending on your programmed political beliefs, and the cable leaks are either a viscous crime that will cost lives or the greatest unmaking of government corruption since Watergate. Cool your jets people, its neither. Think of it this way, I have a ton of data on various volcanoes and geological terrane boundaries going back over a decade. Some has been selected and interpreted and the results published in peer-reviewed journals. We can say that's like a well done news story. Now imagine I took the rest of the data, did little or nothing to filter the bad points or sort the data in any meaningful way, and just dumped it on the internet. That's Wikileaks (well sorta, to complete the analogy I would have had to have hacked the data from someone else). The data dump I described is about as close to a research paper. as WikiLeaks is to journalism. Most of what's been released is in the category of "tell me something I didn't already know". Wake me when they actually scoop something.

Finally there's frickin' Palin. Of all the topics I ranting on here, her story is the only one that has absolutely no meat to it. Her story is nothing more than thrice chewed gristle being passed as fillet-mignon. No matter how many worthless analysis pieces crowding out legitimate news are published, no matter how many reality shows she does, no matter how much undeserved praise she gets from ignorant conservatives and hand-wringing from spineless liberals, she is nothing. Every week it seems they publish another poll saying showing something like 60% of Americans wouldn't even think of considering her for president, yet these farces keep pushing this narrative. Enough, I don't care, she's not even worth attacking.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania, Dec. 14

Philadelphia Inquirer
"The Delaware River Basin Commission on Thursday proposed natural gas drilling rules in its four-state watershed that are tougher than those in the rest of Pennsylvania but that promise to do little to stem the intense wrangling over how to regulate the growing industry."

The Wellsboro Gazette
"Former Gov. Tom Ridge talked about how he is working to guide development of the Marcellus shale play in Pennsylvania.
Ridge spoke to 173 people gathered Monday morning, Dec. 6, for the annual meeting of the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce and Growth Resources of Wellsboro. Ridge, 65, is founder and CEO of Ridge Global, a Washington, D.C., advisory firm contracted to assist the Marcellus Shale Coalition." Note: the Marcellus Shale Coalition is a pro-drilling group.

Houston Business Journal
"Net proceeds (of share offerings) are expected to be $52.5 million, used toward the company’s $28.8 million purchase of Marcellus Shale assets in Pennsylvania as well as $18 million in litigation settlements." Litigation settlements...guess legal actions are part of business deals.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Range Resources wants to ensure that it has a steady stream of cash to pay for its 2011 developmental drilling program....Accordingly, Range already has "hedged" more than 80 percent of its 2011 gas production,"

The Tribune Democrat (Johnstown, PA)
"Will gas deposits bring an economic ‘godsend’ or environmental crisis?" Leans toward godsend, with reservations.
Canton (OH) Repository
"Nearly 3,000 working oil and natural gas wells dot Stark County.Energy companies want to see more. Company representatives are asking property owners to sell their mineral rights.... The requests have raised concerns." The comments are goldem lots of poo-poohing concerns by good Calvinish pro-business types. Makes em' look tough!
 
The Ithaca (NY) Journal
"It's only speculation, but properties located close to the border with Pennsylvania that include mineral rights may be selling for more at auction, said Kevin Keough, Broome County's Director of Real Property."
 
Bloomberg News
"Pennsylvania's highway department is slapping weight limits on more roads to ensure gas-drilling companies fix the damage caused by their trucks, but says it will exempt local companies that do not use the roads heavily." Wanna bet the drilling companies will finagel themselves the local exemptions?

Danville News
"Leaders of Pennsylvania housing groups Tuesday implored Congress to quickly back the National Housing Trust Fund so that relief may come fast to the housing crisis in Marcellus Shale-drilling regions, some of which are seeing 350 percent increases in apartment or house rental fees." Hmm, housing was tight and rents high when I worked in Boston, no grants to build more for us there.

Huffington Post
"...New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians came out in force (and in evening dress) to protest the gathering, at which the Energy Association and the Marcellus Shale Coalition hosted after-parties. Governor-elect Corbett favors hydraulic fracturing, a new evolution of an old drilling process which uses high volume toxic chemicals."
  
Bloomberg
 Really? Considering it looks like we're repeating last year's pattern (and its warm in the west and warmer than normal in the Arctic BTW).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Sports Comment: Enough with Whining About Running Up the Score

Growing up way back when (the 70's) in good ol' Houghs Neck, we use to have a term when one side picked for kick ball or street/floor hockey was better than the other: smuck. As in, "those are smuck teams." Haven't heard it in decades, probably anotherBoston English term going the way of hosie.  But while we may have complained about unfair teams, I never heard anyone whining about "running up the score" even if the team were smuck, let alone evenly matched.  Maybe we were different around Boston, but maybe times were different.

Because today, whining about  "running up the score" in pro sports is all the rage. Players do it, coaches do it and even fans in what you would think to be tough towns like New York and Chicago do it. It seems to have become prominent in the last decade. Maybe its all the Gen Y  and Millenial kids who received trophies for just showing up in order to protect them from any possible self-esteem boo-boo and exposure to the reality of failure in life.Who knows, but its getting pretty annoying. Last week the Patriots destroyed the Jets, answering a week of New York's trash talking on the field. Today they manhandled Da Bears in Chi-town. After both games a furious whine began on the intertubes about how the Pats have "no class" and "run up the score"

WTF people. These are professional athletes getting paid millions. They're supposed to play to win and not let up simply to protect the fans po' widdle feelings. I remember many a shellacking of Boston teams and I blamed them for the debacle, not the other team for scoring, and that includes the '86 Super Bowl, Bears 46, Pats 10 (no one whined about Da Bears running up the score).

Maybe people should worry instead about those with plenty of money screwing over everyone else rather than paying a penny more in tax, or people killing each other (literally) over Black Friday "deals" on some piece of crap they don't really need.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Obama, taxes and the "left"

I'm not to happy about President Obama's tax compromise with the GOP on the tax cuts myself, but the left-wing bloggers, pundits and Democratic pols should take a hard look in the mirror when criticizing him. They continue to demand that he have a backbone and clear message that they have yet to show themselves (boy, that sounds like university faculty). They have repeatedly shown themselves  unable to communicate with the public and arrogantly refuse to do so. Clear and simple political messages are not the same as dumbing down Shakespeare or quantum physics for godssake. Instead, what they do is the equivalent of of doing mathematical analysis of Big Papi's swing when explaining the outcome of a Sox game.  BTW, Maher, Olbermann, Moore, when's your rally? ....crickets.....

I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, progress and reform for the people can't come from the likes of professional students and post-grad policy wonks. It hasn't worked and it won't.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Who's screwing up progress?

Any push for progress and reform against powerful opposition requires competent leadership and a broad base of support among the working and middle classes. The standard bearers for such progress in the US, self-proclaimed liberals and progressives and the Democratic party, have failed miserably.

Recently, outgoing Ohio governor Ted Strickland made this point clear, and he is spot on in his analysis, 'Democrats suffer from an "intellectual elitism" that prevents them from adopting the type of populist tone to relate to voters, he said. And while President Obama had made a series of monumental legislative advancements -- any one of which would have been "historic" in its own right -- he fails to recognize that he is being "slapped in the face" by his Republican critics."I think there is a hesitancy to talk using populist language," the Ohio Democrat said in a sit-down interview with The Huffington Post. "I think it has to do with a sort of intellectual elitism that considers that kind of talk is somehow lacking in sophistication. I'm not sure where it comes from. But I think it's there. There's an unwillingness to draw a line in the sand." ' Ironically. many of those who commented on the article didn't get it, seeing "intellectually elite" as a political spectrum issue (i.e centrist = elite) rather than issue of attitude and tone. More on that later.

Next, take a gander at this little tale and the comments following it.  In short, we have college-level classes where the students act like unruly 8th graders, talking and texting and otherwise disrupting the class. The professors' solution, walking out on the class, may not be the best  but compared to what most of the commentators say it at least shows some backbone. In fact, most commenting propose "solutions" that can be be fairly described as desperate attempts to accommodate assholes in the hope said assholes discover the error of their ways and magically become engaged, polite Rhodes scholars. There is also a fair amount of blame being leveled at the professors for not be entertaining enough to keep the spoiled brats in their classes happy. Simply put, most faculty commentating on this story apparently capitulate simply to avoid standing up for themselves and showing some leadership and responsibility!

Hmmm, so we see the same behavior in both the world of  "official" progressive politics and academia. Which is no surprise, since both are dominated by upper-middle class whites who have led very sheltered lives. Oh, they may be well educated and informed about "issues" on national and global levers, but they are sorely lacking in experiences with ordinary working people and in making tough decisions. When confronted by a gritty world of personalities, competing motivations and ambitions they lack the ability to move past analysis and take action. Thus they become paralyzed. What they call compromise is not true comprise but acquiescence to bullying and as a further consequence they are easily co-opted by ambitious bureaucrats and money-men who will make those tough decisions for them.

IMHO the problem lays with rise of the "New Left" in the 1960s, which saw students and affluent highly educated people as their base, rather than labor. Their support for working people is not due to a belief in the dignity of the worker, but rather pity for those who actually do jobs and leave lives that these "Progressives" cannot imagine.The commentators on the Strickland article cannot comprehend how they can be self-described  "flaming liberals" believing in things that help the average person, yet still come off as arrogant snobs. My experiences with academic liberals, particularly the west-coast variety, was that they believed in things that were good for the middle and working class, but at the same time held working class people in contempt. They believed that the average plumber, cop, fireman, office worker etc. were too stupid to look out for their own good and needed to be told what was best for them.  That, my friends is intellectual elitism in all its glory. Let's be honest, all strata of society, including upper middle-class academics, include people who believe in things not in their best interest.And all strata of society have people who are informed, rational and interested in the common good, even janitors with just a high school education. The latter are turned off by the progressive/liberal leadership not because they are warped by Fox or NASCAR, but because they have been disrespected.

Furthermore, the intellectually elite progressives still see the political paradigm as defined by the conflicts of the 60's and "left"and "right", rather than the emerging one of a narcissism-authoritarian alliance against rationality and the common good.

It appears to be time to move beyond Democrats and old school "liberals" and "progressives" on order to fight this battle.

Will an Oil Crunch Derail any Recovery? Plus the Weekly Marcellus Update

Enjoying the economic recovery? Yeah, not being a Wall St. broker I haven't seen much of one either. Now a number of people have blamed the 2008 crash on the spike of oil prices; I think it may have been a component but there were structural flaws present to begin with in the economy. However, as Lisa Margonelli at The Atlantic reports, once-again rising oil prices may thwart any recovery presently underway. This situation appears similar to the stagflation episode in the 70's, which was due to the various energy crises of the time and responses to them. There are  of-course some major differences between our economy then (much less domestic manufacturing and less sprawl) and economic effects (high inflation, interest rates and unemployment). Nevertheless, there seems to be little room for rational doubt regarding the negative impact an oil price crunch will have on the global economy.

Now the weekly round-up of news on the Marcellus going-ons in Pennsylvania:

Publication focuses on water withdrawal for gas drilling
Clearfield Progress
Originally published Sept. 2009, "Water Withdrawals for Development of Marcellus Shale Gas in Pennsylvania" reflects the latest Marcellus-related regulatory changes enacted by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, the Delaware River Basin Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Gas Pipeline Firm's Plans in Pa. Hit Snag
ABC News
State public utility regulators have been advised to reject an effort by a natural gas pipeline firm that could subject its unregulated pipelines to safety standards, but also help it secure the power of eminent domain on private property.
Study shows wind and gas drilling trends
Daily American Online
Pennsylvania could become the site of an additional 60,000 Marcellus natural gas wells and 2,900 wind turbines by 2030 — developments that may cause significant environmental impacts...
WVIA to broadcast Marcellus Shale program live from Towanda's Keystone Theatre
Towanda Daily Review
The Thursday, Dec. 9 show of WVIA's weekly public affairs television program, "State of Pennsylvania," will be broadcast live from the Keystone Theatre in Towanda and will focus on issues related to Marcellus Shale gas drilling.
Antero Resources to buy Marcellus assets
Oil & Gas Journal
Antero Resources LLC, a private Denver independent, is buying Bluestone Energy Partners, a private company with Marcellus shale acreage in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Marcellus information online
Daily American Online
For the first time Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry production and compliance information is available online as part of the commonwealth’s ongoing effort to make the industry’s operations more transparent, according to the state.

Warren sewage plant gets OK to treat gas-drilling wastewater
Youngstown Vindicator
-The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has granted a final permit modification to Warren to allow its waste-treatment facilities to treat wastewater generated by drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale region....The water will come from wastewater generated from hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale deposits located primarily in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, ...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weird, wild stuff.

Ayup, they put those lobsta pots to good use in the winta downeast.

Angry at technology? Wanna strike back? Have a I got a place for you!

Hmmm, 61 guns in a city block? How many guns does your average paranoid libertarian gun nut in the middle of nowhere have?

They'll probably blame the Irish.

When I was a teenager some friends of my stole cars. Not good, but at least it wasn't this lame.

Move over Socratic Method, Law profs are getting as lazy and susceptible to BS "edumacation" methods as other fields.

CHUPACABRAS are back, this time in Kansas, and in Siberia.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania, Nov 29

94-year-old Bernice Price of Montrose, PA leased her property to drillers for a song, but her grandchildren who shared ownership knew nothing about the deal with Chesapeake, who never got their consent.

The American Law Daily discusses the legal ramification of drilling. leases, environmental impacts and opposition.

The influx of out-of state drill workers is increasing the ranks of hunters in Pennsylvania. Wait a minute, I thought those jobs would be created for Pennsylvanians...silly me.

The Brockway Borough Municipal Authority in Jefferson Co. has filed suit against Flatirons Development, aiming to stop construction of drilling operations until Flatirons shows that water supplies are protected.


AlterNet alleges that drillers in the Keystone State have been dumping cuttings containing radioactive minerals in New York.

Tom Wolfe on the Media and its "Narrative"

One thing that Jon Stewart at the Daily show has been very successful at is skewering the news media for its adherence to a fixed narrative for covering current events.It is nothing new really, as Tom Wolfe wrote in The Right Stuff about the press coverage of the Mercury Seven in the late 50's early 60's:

"It was as if the press in America, for all its vaunted independence, were a great colonial animal, an animal made up of countless clustered organisms responding to a central nervous system. In the late 1950's (as in the late 1970's) the animal seemed determined that in all matters of national importance the proper emotion, the seemly sentiment, the fitting moral tone, should be established and should prevail; and all information that muddied the tone and weakened the feeling should simply be thrown down the memory hole. In a later period this impulse of the animal would take the form of blazing indignation about corruption, abuses of power, and even minor ethical lapses, among public officials; here, in April of 1959, it took the form of a blazing patriotic passion for the seven test pilots who had volunteered to go into space. In either case, the animal's fundamental concern remained the same: the public, the populace, the citizenry, must be provided with the correct feelings! One might regard this animal as the consummate hypocritical Victorian gent. Sentiments that one scarcely gives a second thought to in one's private life are nevertheless insisted upon in all public utterances. (And this grave gent lives on in excellent health.)"

The problem today is that cable news in particular has been taken over by ideological hacks bent on take the narrative concept to an extreme not seen since the 19th century partisan newspapers and never so widely disseminated.

However, there are ordinary rational citizens trying to push back in a true grass-roots fashion. It first began on, of all places, the Daily Show message boards and now has its own site, check it out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wild Weather and Warming Climate

Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.  Lately there has been some more "extreme: weather in North America, extreme because it is not what we expect based on long-term averages. There is a strong differential in temperatures in the continental US, with record warmth in the southeast and cold and snow in the central west and Pacific NW.
From the Weather Channel, Tuesday Nov. 2
Along with advancing cold air there were severe thunderstorms and rare November tornadoes in Illinois. The wild weather year continues.

That's the weather, but what to expect? The world continues to warm. NASA scientists using satellite data for 104 large inland lakes found that on average they have warmed two-and-a-half times the increase in atmospheric temps in the same time period. This past summer's Arctic sea ice melt was not as much as in 2007, but it was still well below the baseline. Amazingly, it is lagging in reforming and the ice extent is below 2007 for this time of the year:
Arctic sea ice extent as 11/21, from the National Snow and Ice Data Center,(click for larger image).
Not surprisingly, a record level of greenhouse gases was reached in 2009, and the threat of methane release from bogs and permafrost made the mainstream news with a report this week of methane bubbling up from Siberian lakes.

We label the weather patterns this year as "extreme" or "wild" or simply unusual because they are outside the expected climactic norms (this does not require them to be record breaking BTW). Of course if these weather patterns continue, they would soon constitute new norms and a new climate. This is what we could expect with continued global warming, extreme years punctuated with "normal" years (see this older post).

But what about the possibility of abrupt climate change? The next IPCC report could be dramatically worse, and reports of methane release are indeed alarming because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and would accelerate warming. We just had a very snowy and/or cold winter in 2010, which could be due to warming in the arctic as sea ice loss in the arctic would shift atmospheric circulation.

Unfortunately, we can not answer the question with confidence and probably will not know it until we are several years or more into an abrupt shift. If it is the case, I expect to see denialism ramp up, not be defeated because denial is not just economic driven propaganda, but a human reaction to threatening news.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peak Coal (?) and Regular Keystone Marcellus Update

Well we're back to regular Monday Marcellus updates, but first there some interesting news surrounding coal supplies. Now when people talk about coal, we generally hear about abundant coal resources and or about the mountaintop removal controversy. But coal-burning is a major producer of electricity and China has been consuming enormous amounts of the black stuff. Now Phys.Org relates ,"A report entitled 'The End of Cheap Coal,' published in the journal Nature by Richard Heinberg and David Fridley, suggests we may reach peak coal in the next two decades." Now 20 years sounds like a long-time, but Peak Oil will create more demand for coal and increased coal usage will add more CO2 to our overloaded atmosphere. And another energy peak coming on the heels of a potential oil crunch doesn't bode well for a BAU global economy. The WSJ adds that China is considering capping domestic coal production due to worries about depleting reserves. The Chinese appetite for coal is so big and supplying them then so profitable, that even countries where coal use is argued about quietly export it to China. Unless fusion becomes a reality soon, we may see our energy intensive civilization hit the wall this decade.

Now onto the latest news from the Marcellus Play in Pennsylvania. This will be short since I did an update just a few days ago.

Now we hear a lot of numbers tossed around for the number of jobs that are supposed to be created, usually with no additional details. For a change, the Lebanon Daily News reports a more modest number and attributes the potential jobs to a specific company: Calfrac Well Services Corp of Calgary plans to "hire more than 200 people for a new complex being built in southwestern Pennsylvania to serve Marcellus Shale wells..." Of course, questions remain regarding what the positions are and whether those being hired will be experienced industry workers from elsewhere. 


Energy and environmental insurers see a potential boom in their business from Marcellus development. 


Another driller is selling its Marcellus assets - EOG Resources reached a $405 million deal to sell 50,000 acres to Newfield Exploration Co.,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Surreal and strange Sunday, Nov 21

Who cares about Peak Oil, income disparity and climate change, we have Bridaplasty!

But wait, we may face PEAK CHOCOLATE.

Beware of naked baby photos - especially if you're an illegal immigrant!

Yes, terrorists would attack by running in camo through the Lincoln Tunnel. Are we shocked that Florida is somehow involved with this stupidity? Or maybe you can spot a terrorist bomb cuz they would let ya know by puttin' that thar strange non Mericun writin' on it.

It's so good to see that some college students still use the library.

So women in Boise are really dumb?

If you're gonna dine and dash, why not skip Denny's and go for the best?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania, Nov 20

Running behind this week, so just a quick round-up:

Encana Oil and Gas is ending operations in two NE Pennsylvania counties (Luzerne and Columbia) after determining that determining that further development is not viable.

Williams Partners LP will be buying Cabot Oil & Gas' Marcellus assets for $150.

Chevron will buy Atlas for $3.2 billion, which means the big boys are getting into the Marcellus, or so it appears at the moment.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission has approved new safety regulations for gas drilling in Pennsylvania, which means nada if Governor-elect Corbett decides not to enforce them.

If Pittsburgh has its way, nobody will drilling within the city limits.

If you want to buy a home closer than 300 feet from an active or planned drilling site, you won't be able to get a FHA backed mortgage to do it.  Which likely means that vets won't be able to get a VA loan either.

Halliburton is providing a description of fracking chemicals in use, but says the disclosure is not in reponse to an EPA supoena.

A Tribune-Democrat: Editorial: Marcellus Shale-A boom at what cost? The election is over, but the issues remain.

Monday, November 15, 2010

That didn't take long...

The media loves to build something up and then tear it down, as the Tea Partiers are finding out. A poll that out today shows that most Americans don't share the narrative that discontent and anger is all about the deficit, 56$ worry most about jobs and the economy. That story disappeared pretty quickly, gotta keep the narrative going a bit longer, but eventually they'll find that they're no longer the media darlings.

It also seems the TPs are the jealous type, or more accurately the psycho-bitch Fatal Attraction type.  Seems they're a tad bit upset that the Claremont Institute had an orientation for freshman GOoPers at the same time the TP Patriots were having one, and according to the Hill they decided to harass and threaten their new found love for daring to even look at another interest group. I believe this is what is called narcissistic rage.

Ahh, but they all are firmly united on their goal of balancing the budget by slashing spending across the board, with no exceptions...except this and this and this...

Of course, Matt Taibbi already showed that they're full of shit so none of that should surprise us.

BTW, there's now an interactive tool that you can use to engineer a reduction of the deficit!

Friday, November 12, 2010

IEA admits Peak Oil, say we already passed it.

The International Energy Agency notes in its 2010 World Energy Outlook that crude oil production peaked in 2006, as shown in slide 8 from their press release:

click for large image

Interestingly, Kenneth Deffeyes and Matthew Simmons both stated that PO arrived in December 2005. In another interesting find, Nafeez Ahmed relates that Dr. Colin J. Campbell, formerly of BP, has written that oil production peaked between 2005 and 2008. One notes when looking at the above graph that the IEA makes a big assumption, i.e. overall crude oil production will remain constant due to fields yet to be developed or yet to be found! In fact, if you look at the same graph in the report itself, you'll find that if you add in just "fields to be developed" conventional crude still declines, the only thing that keeps it constant is an increasing amount of oil fields "yet to be found"!

Considering that oil field discoveries themselves peaked  45 years ago, that second assumption is pretty amazing and fanciful. You'll also note that they still have oil production overall rising, due to an assumed increase in unconventional oil production and constant natural gas liquid supply. In short, the IEA admits Peak Oil exists and has already hit, but then say don't worry, things will work out - somehow. The Oil Drum does a good job dissecting the report and calling BS on their assumptions.  Make sure to check out the comments on unconventional natural gas, i.e. shale gas.


Coming on the heels of a U.S, DoD report warning about PO and another more publicized report from the German military it seems that Peak Oil may be starting to become mainstream, may being the operative word. Considering the human capacity for denial, we will probably not see widespread acknowledgment until we reach a price crunch. Even then, the left wing and right wing will blame it on Big Oil price gouging and over-regulation respectively.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Marcellus News for Pennsylvania

Been a busy few weeks and the news was flooded with pre-election BS. I hope now to get back to a weekly Monday round-up.

Resource Developments:
-People are now beginning the question the meme that shale gas will be a cornucopia of endless energy, jobs and money. Rigzone discusses the sharp drop-off in production that occurs in fracked wells, but holds out for a technological solution.
Business Insider reprints an article from the Peak Oil site The Oil Drum helpfully titled: Here's Why The Marcellus Shale Discovery Will Be A Disappointment. It makes many of the same points as the first piece, but is much more detailed and pessimistic. Definitely worth a close read. Both stories show that doubts over the gas shale hype exist within the industry.
-But the hype goes on, with Penn State forming all sorts of allegedly lucrative partnerships with industry. And the Penn State Cooperative Extension plans to diversify into gas shale ops..

Environmental Developments:
-The state DEP released a preliminary air-quality survey for a small samples of wells. DEP Secretary John Hanger stated, "This short-term study only provides a snapshot of the air contaminants we found at surveyed sites, but the data shows no emission levels that would constitute a concern to the health of residents living near these operations."  Read the full story on PR Newswire
-The Pennsylvania Environmental Council has named Paul M. King president and chief executive officer.
 
Political Developments (Party like its 1886):
-Over at WSJ, there was crowing that a "Red" Pennsylvania will kill off renewable energy and that Governor-elect Corbett will lift that silly Rendell moratorium on drilling in State Forests. That's a reasonable report compared to this nonsense, but at least they admit its all about gorging on finite resources for profit now and damn the future consequences.
-Inside the meeting, Karl Rove acknowledged that the new governor, state legislature and House of Reps will make life easier for drillers by removing many of them there pesky regulations. Folks, remember the Canned Ham when the energy and climate crises hit with full force.
-Peregrine Keystone Gas Pipeline is seeking public utility status that will allow them to take private land by eminent domain to run their pipelines.

Business developments:
-Canadian based Talisman will be reducing its Marcellus production due to low gas prices and focus on the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, which produces more profitable condensates such as propane and butane.
-However, low gas prices won't stop National Fuel from drilling more wells in the Marcellus Play
-National Fuel reports it 2010 earnings, up $8.7 million for the fiscal year.
-Stone Energy also reported its 3rd quarter earnings, For January through September 30, 2010, Stone reported net income of $76.0 million, compared to a net loss of $147.6 million for the comparable 2009 period.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm sorry to tell you this, but our economy has cancer.

A modern, technologically advanced economy is like a human body. It has many different organs that each perform a task necessary for the whole organism to survive. None can survive without a whole and healthy organism, and this requires a delicate management of the system. The problem for the greedy is that in a properly managed  healthy economy (one that benefits all) the opportunities to become very wealthy can be somewhat limited, as innovation and the success of new products are always uncertain. It isalso difficult to rapidly gain excessive wealth, particularly through non-productive activities of the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) sectors when the economy is working well for all sectors.

In a living body, some diseases occur when some organs fail and others when organs operate improperly. This happens in our body economic as well. We also know that sometimes certain cells go into a malignant mode, reproduce rapidly, perform no useful whole body function, consume bodily resources, overrun their organs and spread; in other words cancer.

In 2010 America we no longer produce much of what we use. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our health services are still too expensive and out of reach, emergency response is being cut, acquisition and spread of knowledge is a joke, the flow of money to much of the economy is diminished. The FIRE sector no longer serves a productive capitalist market economy, but exists for its own sake. Since the time of Reagan, we have led an lazy, unhealthy lifestyle (sending our productive jobs overseas), concentrated fat in a few places (income disparity), and consumed a monotonous diet of an economic carcinogen (cheap oil).

A malignancy began in FIRE, aided by a hyperactive marketing organ. We embarked on a runaway-feedback loop as rapid suburban and exurban development generated mortgage and other finance activities and associated insurance activity. To continue the beast required further real estate development and the cycle began to feed on itself.  People involved in FIRE moved to the new exploding exurbs and those who in the past would have worked producing goods wound up serving the exurbs as contractors, retail clerks, and landscapers. Thes people needed to live in exurbia, but instead of wages FIRE produced a sweet diet of credit. Exurbia required huge amounts of transportation to grow and survive, which required increasing amounts and dependence on oil. Exurbs took over local farms, requiring us to move food across state, across country, across the seas, consuming more oil. The FIRE metastasized in the government and media and academia. Those organs began to mimic FIRE, producing less while increasing useless administration. The body failed to notice because it was being drenched in the marketing hormone.

We were diagnosed in 2008. Many have balked at the mild (too weak in turns out) treatments prescribed, favoring the tax cut, tax cut and tax cut woo pushed by Tea Party quacks. The marketing hormone and oil addiction are too strong for many. But the cancer is still there, and it will continue to feed.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another surreal and strange Sunday

North Dakotans must think them urinals are tools of the devil! Either that or its the way NRA members flush.

Sometimes I think I'm too hard on Philly, then again...

Ditto for Jersey ...and Delaware.

Man, people can't even be competent in corruption anymore. Sad thing is, its the kids who suffer.

Newman!

Yeah, try being a geologist if you think job opportunities are scarce and your education was a waste.

Maybe this guy mistook himself for a urinal.

More proof that school administrators lack judgment and overreact.

Chupacabra mystery solved? That what THEY want you to believe! After all, its been sighted in Wisconsin, and THEY try to tell us its a fox.

THEY probably are involved in this cover-up as well.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A more signficant World Series than people think

There are some important things to discuss in our looming and intertwined energy and climate issues, but I don't feel like going there right now.

We're two games into the 2010 World Series and despite the pre-series narrative it's been about hitting and not pitching. The anointed  ones as this post-season began were the Phil's and Yankees, but here we are with San Fran and Texas. Of course, this is not the favored matchup, so the reaction of the national media and casual fans has been, "meh."  Hey, look (slightly) deeper and you'll find a series that is pretty significant for baseball.

What we have is a Giants team that hasn't won a series since they moved to the west coast and Texas, which has never played in, let alone won, a series. One thing is certain, one of these story lines is going to end. This can only be good for the game. Was it good in the 50's when every series was NY vs. NY. No (and NY is evil). Or the 60's when the Celtics won almost every NBA title?  Actually, yes since the C's are #1 and the world should acknowledge it.  But objectively and seriously, neither situation was good for their respective sports.

Competition, unpredictability and new blood are refreshing and exciting. Its a good year for baseball.

(I haven't bothered to look, but I'm sure some yahoos are playing it as the liberals (SF) vs. conservatives (Texas), but those people are idiots.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Satire freaks out writers of the narrative

I wasn't going to say much more on the Colbert/Stewart rallies until after they went down, but the screaming from the whining political/media types is cranking up and deserves some response. There seems to be two flavors, hand-wringing from professional liberals and hyperbolic put-downs from the right, with a dash of "how dare they" from the so-called journalists who give the duo most of their material.
Methinks we have a bunch of people feeling threatened by a live outdoor showing of satire programs.

Here's a rundown of the insanity-
"Is Jon Stewart a communist tyrant? All things considered, we'd have to say no, although Kyle-Anne Shiver of Pajamas Media hears echoes of Soviet repression in the Comedy Central host's plan to hold a "Restoring Sanity" rally in Washington next week." James Taranto, The Politics of Sanity Soviet-style pseudoscience and the American left. Wall Street Journal.


"...I have argued that his type of humor undermines American politics by turning everything into a joke and a source of mockery. My argument is not that we need to respect or idealize our political officials; rather, I believe that by constantly laughing at public figures, we feed a libertarian consensus." Bob Samuels, Why Jon Stewart is Bad for America, Huffington Post

"But for this particular event at this specific point in time, playing it close to the vest can hurt. In fact, to some degree, I think it already has....While there’s often spontanaeity (sic) in the summer, the public tends tend to be more thoughtful when it comes to making fall and winter choices." Frankie Stone, How Stewart/Colbert are Dooming their own Rally, The Wrap Note: spontaneity is misspelled in the original!

"Stewart is something of a coward in that he has never gone deeper with his material. He is a victim, as well as perpetrator, of the smug decadence of the liberal West, which valorizes choice and irony above all else, even trutth" Mark Judge, The Paralysis of Jon Stewart's Liberalism, the Daily Caller


"Please, Jon. There's still time. Cancel the rally. Call in sick. Say you couldn't get a sitter. Even better, say it was all an Andy Kaufman-esque spoof, a multilayered joke-inside-a-joke not only on the politicians and blowhards who hold rallies but on your own audience, which should have known better..." Carlos Lozada, The case against Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity, by a 'Daily Show' fan. Washington Post

"The more I hear Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert talking about their rally scheduled for Saturday on Washington's National Mall, the more I wonder if there is anything that is not a laughing matter in our national life any more." Laughing on the way to the Voting Booth. Stewart/Colbert rally has people approaching Election Day with postmodern mockery David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun


"On Reliable Sources yesterday Time television critic (and friend of Mediaite Office Hours) James Poniewozik said that the risk Stewart is running with this rally is that it may make him appear as though “he’s taking himself too seriously or becoming some sort of messiah figure or a partisan telling people, you know, go forth, my mighty people, and vote XYZ and pursue such and such policies.” Time Critic On Jon Stewart Rally: He’s Risking Being Seen As A ‘Messiah Figure’

Not any Colbert bashing? Maybe they should all attend The March to Keep Fear Alive part then.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another round of Marcellus News

In addition to the latest news round-up, I've added links to Frac Tracker (a watchdog group) and an industry sponsored booster site, Marcellus Coalition. They're an interesting contrast, to say the least.

Politics.
-Pike County is forming a task force to examine Marcellus issues, even though there has not been much in the way of gas drilling operations in the county.
-The PA Senate wrapped up its pre-election business without tackling the severance tax. Maybe we should just allow the lobbyists to pay them openly as consultants. A self-serving pol, nice job if you can get it.
-The Delaware River Basin Commission continues its moratorium on drilling while it continues to draft regulations.
-Corbett and Onorato debated one last time in the Governors race, beating dead horses  as they covered the same talking points as before, including the gas severance tax.
-Corbett knows where his bread is buttered. He has accepted more than $700,000 in campaign donations from the gas industry. Hmmm, can't have any connection to why he totally opposes taxing gas production. For some reason, I just thought of those third-world dictators who take money from foreign companies that plunder their countries.
Marcellus gas excitement is now spilling into Eastern Ohio.

Business
-Well, the gas boom has definitely created jobs - for lawyers.  Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney, a law and "government relations" firm has added some new attorneys and a shareholder to their Oil and Gas / Marcellus Shale Practice.
-Billionaire Philip Anschutz got a few more billions from selling his Appalachian oil and gas assets, or at least his holding company did.
-Atlas Energy continues to expand its operations, output and profits in SW PA.
-Natural gas production from the Pennsylvania part of the Marcellus Play continued to rise in the third quarter of 2010.
-A $10 million dollar grant has been made to improve shortline railroad service to the gas industry. I find it interesting that we are not allowed to spend tax dollars to improve rail service for citizens, but we can give it away to help build rail service for a very rich industry.

Environmental
-Those worried about what chemicals are used in fracking water may be interested to know that the use of  treated sewer water is being considered. At least it would cut down on the amount being taken directly from local fresh-water supplies.
-Speaking of water, Consol Energy plans to drill eight more wells near the Beaver Run reservoir, the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County's water supply.
-The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board  has passed a proposal to update drilling regs, but another body needs to give its OK before anything happens.
-The Williamsport SunGazette discusses concerns over water supplies and withdrawals used in the fracking process. 
-Allegheny County health officials have not yet decided whether they need to monitor air quality over Marcellus shale gas drilling operations since they did not find any pollution over the three wells they sput checked.. Well, I guess 3 out of 822 wells sounds like a statistically meaningful sample to them.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What are the Colbert/Stewart Rallies?

Bloggers, pundits and others are trying to get their heads around the (newly re-named) Rally to Restore Sanity and or Fear. Is it straight comedy? A useless gathering of apathy and cynicism? A desperate leftwing plot to .....well I don't know. People are even more clueless about the impact, if any, on anything.

From following the development of these events I can safely say no one knows, as it is an entirely organic happening. It is a true wildcard, maybe even -going out on a limb here- possibly a black swan event.Or it could be nothing at all, though the fact that there will be satellite rallies even at the Everest Base Camp makes me think that isn't the case.

It fits no ones narrative, which is what makes it great.  The current political dynamic in America is still defined by the late 60's and the reaction to it.  Political institutions and the media have artificially kept this dynamic going well past it shelf-life.  Dynamic is actually no longer appropriate, since it is a static, inflexible paradigm and our perceived political/cultural  paralysis is the result of trying to shoe-horn everything into it. Everything event needs to fit a narrative, which the fearful (of all persuasions) need so they believe that they can control the future.

Along comes this thing which resists the shoehorn, angering those who need the narrative to simplify a complex time of change. In the end, no one (even Stewart and Colbert) knows  what it all means. I have no idea and neither does anyone else, especially the writers of the narrative. Hence the anger. In some ways it is the ultimate GenX (which Colbert and Stewart truly belong to) ironic, disrespectful and subversive finger to the boomers' self-centeredness and self importance.

The greatest thing about it is the uncertainty, the reminder that the future is not yet written. Maybe that will be the only result, a reminder that no one can predetermine events and our narratives are really so much BS.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gas Shale News for the Keystone State, 10/11 edition

Fell behind here and there has been a lot of news. However, much of it is election noise, so here are the distilled highlights for the past 10 days:

Pooling-
The pooling concept is not gaining much traction in the state capital yet. I'll post soon on the details and issues of pooling.

Election gas-
Corbett and Onorato continue to quarrel over who gets what from the gas industry. Psst, they both get something. Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone ripped Tom Corbett for his opposition to the tax, citing the contributions he's received from the industry.

Activism and opposition-
Jeff and Jodi Andrysick of Pulteney produced a documentary on the hazards from fracking and wound up on that terror watch list generated by the privatized security apparatus (neo-Pinkertons) the state was using.
In related news, the state's Homeland Security chief  has resigned over said watch list fiasco.
Also, there is now a pro-drilling doc produced as an answer to Gasland.
The Senate has passed a bill allowing local governments to charge citizens for reviewing public documents, which has activists up in arms.

Severance tax-
The severance tax is unconstitutional, at least according to Americans for Tax Reform, a group led by noted anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, who has spent much of his life in various Republican administrations and as a lobbyist.
In any case, the House left Harrisburg until after the election, so there will be no reconciling their tax bill with a senate version until then.
Meanwhile, Gov. Rendell has called for a summit to figure out the severance tax, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation stated in a letter to the Senate that not passing a tax will eventually cost taxpayers billions to cleanup contaminated water.
The Towanda Daily Review has an editorial criticizing the distribution of revenue from the proposed severance tax, saying it does not provide enough to local governments and needs.

Property rights and Royalties-
Judge John Jones of the U.S. Middle District Court  dismissed three cases this week in which the plaintiffs argued their leases violated the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act. Apparently "royalties could be calculated by subtracting from the sales price all but one-eighth of the expenses incurred while moving the natural gas from the wellhead to the marketplace." So in essence the property owners felt they got screwed, but the court say its all legal and in other words all that money you think your going to get from allowing drilling on your land may be just an illusion, since the companies can expense away all the royalties you think you're getting.

Pollution and violations-
The State Police are cracking down on trucks hauling fracking wastes, ordering out of service 140 hauling waste.  208 in total were taken off the road, out of 1,135 inspected.
There was more news on the state DEP going after Cabot Oil and Gas for alleged well contamination. In any case Cabot is doing well, even though prices are down due to the strong production from gas shale and conventional sources.
Seneca Resources Corporation has been fined $40,000 by DEP for filling parts of wetlands in Tioga State Park.
Martin Niverth of the Upper Monongahela River Association, "does not want West Virginia to make the same mistakes in regulating Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling that he believes his home state of Pennsylvania made." Pretty bad when you're used as an example of lax regulation in West Virgina!

Business operations-
Westmont Resources is expanding their Marcellus operations. Anschutz Exploration Corp. will be selling theirs.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday...time for strange and surreal news

No Mulder and Scully, but still a UFO conference was a raging success. "A lot of people do believe in UFOs and ghosts but don't want to admit it," one Karyn Dolan said. Hmmm, yet people have no trouble saying they believe Glenn Beck. She goes on to say, "Eyewitnesses are generally ignored, despite their validity in criminal cases." Methinks she needs to learn how unreliable eyewitness testimony w/o supporting evidence is considered in criminal cases.

Christine O'Donnell is comin' to the University of Delaware for a debate. Sounds like a good fit...

Ahh Oregon....

China's hiring...Bigfoot hunters! $1.5 million is being spent, c'mon Obama, where's the money for Chupacabra research!