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.

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:
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.

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.

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.

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."
 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.