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.


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.

-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.

-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.

-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:

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!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Generation of Locusts

I like BigThink, where Eruptions! moved to. A lot of thoughtful pieces there. Two I saw in the last few days touched on my biggest source of angst, one me and my peers have felt since the '80s. That is, the baby boomers have pulled the ladder up behind themselves, leaving behind a mess they refuse to acknowledge.

Today, Mark Seddon tell us how the Boomers are leaving behind a broken economic/social  system, both in the US and the UK.

I have been meaning to write a long post on how the Dems lost the working class, basically pinning it on the hijacking of the party by New Left inspired ideology in the early 70's. The New Left apparently wasn't that interested in traditional labor issues, concentrating more on labor issues. Anyway, in one part of an interview Gen. Wesley Clark explains how that ideology has allowed the Republicans to paint the Dems as weak and unAmerican ever since. Add in the fact that the anti-war movement demonized servicemen, most of whom were working class and many of who were drafted, the alienation of the working class towards the Dems is not surprising.

I can go on about this, but right now I things to do.  I'll leave you with one more example, the Conan-Leno fiasco!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Arctic Sea Ice and Bargain Cutters

A couple of interesting items from over at the CG Blog.

First, they discuss this story at the Economist about economic and other effects of diminishing Arctic Sea ice. Considering that this past summer had one of the lowest sea ice covers on record, this is going to become a very important strategic as well as environmental issue. BTW it all relates to the Coast Guard because the CG is America's primary maritime presence in polar regions.

The other story relates to an opportunity to get some new cutters at a bargain. The problem I see is getting Congress to act quickly on this opportunity to save the taxpayers some money.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gas Shale News for the Keystone State, 10/1 edition

The big news is that the Pennsylvania house passed SB 1155, the severance tax on shale gas production. The tax rate is set at 39 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas at the wellhead. Republicans vow to lower the tax before final passage, or stop it altogether, ridiculously claiming that the play is a huge bonanza that the industry will suddenly ignore if there is a slight reduction of their enormous profits.

A CNN story reviews the natural gas and fracking issues and declares in its title that we are witnessing the arrival of Big Gas.

Kerry Gren's blog on WHYY examines the effect of the gas boom on demands for social services, meanwhile the the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority is starting a study to determine affordable housing needs counties affected by the Marcellus Play boom.

Cabot Oil & Gas, a company featured in the controversial Gasland, is accusing the state DEP of waging a "public war" against them.

In any resource boom you can expect to find swindlers and con men, and this one is no exception. The Pennsylvania Securities Commission has sent a cease and desist order to Albert T. McKelvey of Richland to stop selling bogus Marcellus Investments. Now I think they are being a bit hard on him, since he is a fraudulent retire Marine Corps Colonel.