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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Treat Your Gentry Well

Nothing says entitled quite so much as personal road a from ones homes to ones office on public property. Move over, King Louis, California has a brand new Sun King.
How convenient... Plans reveal Elon Musk's tunnel under L.A. will actually go from his office to his Bel Air homes
If the tone of the foreign press is a bit catty not to worry. The domestic press abounds with praise and platitudes. Example: "Digging tunnels is a laborious process and the billionaire plans to develop new drilling technology that would dig and reinforce tunnels as it goes along." It should be noted that Musk is the owner of a second hand tunneling machine and not a designer of anything mechanical but why split hairs?
Should anyone be surprised by this?
"His Boring Co. has applied for an excavation permit to extend its electric-vehicle tunnel in Hawthorne into Los Angeles, connecting the South Bay, Westside and San Fernando Valley, city officials said, according to Daily Breeze. Although the city's Bureau of Engineering did not release details of the permit request, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has supported the plan."
Applied for an excavation permit? Can anyone apply for one of those permits? Sounds so routine, something akin to seeking permission to build a chicken coop behind the garage. As a matter of fact it is quickly become routine for servile elected officials of both parties on both coasts to issue permits to develop public land as his lordship pleases.
From the Baltimore Sun;
( Governor Larry ) Hogan announced his support for the project on Thursday. He posted photos of himself, Rahn, Boring Co. executives and Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh touring the fenced-off site near the intersection of Maryland 175 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Hanover where the tunneling is expected to begin. Administration officials said they will treat the hyperloop like a utility, and permitted it in the same way the state allows electric companies to burrow beneath public rights-of-way. “We have all sorts of utilities beneath our roadways,” Rahn said. “In essence, this didn't need anything more than a utility permit.”
Of course. What else, pray thee tell? A written contract? Legislative approval? Liability insurance?
The state is giving exclusive use of 10.2 miles of state owned right of way to a single company and it's put in the same category as laying fiber optic cable.

Got that? It will be built entirely with private money presumably for the purpose of making money yet with no bidding process, no legislative action and evidently no bonding requirements to protect the taxpayers.
A Maryland Department of Transportation representative on Wednesday told Capital News Service it would not disclose those details citing "confidential commercial information," and also indicated that no public dollars were being spent on the project.
Again, the detail are confidential. No cronyism here!
Lest readers score the proposed Baltimore to Washington hyperloop a fait accompli there is one sticking point. The gullible state of Maryland owns just 10.2 miles of the approximate 35 mile Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The remainder is federally owned and before this hyperloop to nowhere is begun someone in the media should ask the obvious. First, where are you going to put the dirt? A 12 foot diameter bore 10 miles long should yield about 225,000 cubic yards of dirt. Sure that problem is solvable but should not the solution be announced up front? Second, will the Boring Company be required to post performance / decommissioning bonding? Without bonding the taxpayers bear the entire risk of a very risky project. What is the state's cut of the action in the off chance the project does make money?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Silicon Valley; Where Cronyism Meets Capitalism

Alas, Uber the iconic if not somewhat dirty faced transportation wunderkind is merely a taxi service or so ruled the European Union's highest court. In rather direct prose the court wrote Uber, “must be regarded as being inherently linked to a transport service.” In other words it's a natural litter mate of Yellow Cab and Checker Cab companies and, oh God forbid, subject to the same rules and regulations as everyone else. Probably we can expect similar challenges to Uber's "technology platform" status stateside and it's been reported that Uber is the subject of a federal investigation probably owing to its theft of trade secrets from Waymo. Tsk,Tsk.
Elsewhere in Washington the FCC headed by Ajit Pai shot down in cold blood the Obama era Net Neutrality rule much to the consternation of Netflix and Google who labeled the action "misguided". It is probably a good indication that a minority has arrived when an administration's two most visible members ( Pai and Nikkei Haley ) are the most slandered in the popular media. Both know the value of Machiavelli's advice to the Prince:
“ One should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved.”
The only guiding principle coming from Big Tech appears to be "What's in it for me?" To date Elon Musk has captured $4.9 billion in federal subsidies which makes Solyndra's $550 million bankruptcy look like penny poker. His Tesla Motors is facing a lawsuit from the state of Michigan because Tesla has not followed the franchise rule that every other auto manufacturer must as called for, according to Michigan, by the interstate commerce clause. To his supporters it's the "dormant interstate commerce clause" an anachronism that should br judicially euthanized. Now I do have a libertarian bent and you are better off listening to even a bad lawyer than me but that said let's add a bit of historical context. In the glory days of FDR's New Deal and the Agriculture Adjustment Act one Roscoe Filburn had the temerity to grow 12 bushels of wheat above his allotment which was intended for his own use. Not since the Teapot Dome scandal! He was fined for that transgression and the Supreme Court agreed..
Roscoe Filburn was a farmer in what is now suburban Dayton, Ohio[5] who admitted producing wheat in excess of the amount permitted. He maintained, however, that the excess wheat was produced for his private consumption on his own farm. Since it never entered commerce at all, much less interstate commerce, he argued that it was not a proper subject of federal regulation under the Commerce Clause.
In July 1940, pursuant to the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1938, Filburn's 1941 allotment was established at 11.1 acres (4.5 ha) and a normal yield of 20.1 bushels of wheat per acre. Filburn was given notice of the allotment in July 1940 before the Fall planting of his 1941 crop of wheat, and again in July 1941, before it was harvested. Despite these notices, Filburn planted 23 acres (9.3 ha) and harvested 239 more bushels than was allowed from his 11.9 acres (4.8 ha) of excess area.[6]
The Federal District Court ruled in favor of Filburn. The Act required an affirmative vote of farmers by plebiscite to implement the quota. Much of the District Court decision related to the way in which the Secretary of Agriculture had campaigned for passage: The District Court had held that the Secretary's comments were improper. The government then appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which called the District Court's holding against the campaign methods which led to passage of the quota by farmers a "manifest error". The court then went on to uphold the Act under the Interstate Commerce Claus.
Again context. Even at today's wheat prices ( about $4.25 per bushel ) Filburn's ill gotten gain would amount to about $80. Law is law but Musk's supporters would have us believe that law is archaic.
Unrelated to Michigan's attempt to abridge Musk's right to do as he damn well pleases another issue has arisen. Google, Uber, Lyft and of course Tesla want' to use the power of the federal government to impose on the states standards for autonomous vehicles. All of a sudden the interstate commerce clause should no longer be dormant.
We are facing an opportunity to expand the options for transportation by car by also making it smarter and safer,” said committee chairman, U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
But engineers must first shield vehicles from cyber attacks and said self-driving cars must operate seamlessly in bad weather — two significant challenges for the auto industry, said Mary (Missy) Louise Cummings, director of Duke University's Humans and Autonomy Lab and Duke Robotics.
"I am decidedly less optimistic," she told the panel. Self-driving cars are "absolutely not ready for widespread deployment, and certainly not ready for humans to be completely taken out of the driver’s seat."
"Consistency, thou art a jewel,” Shakespeare.
By all means let's make our cars safer and smarter but just for good measure let's allow Silicon Valley to develop artificially intelligent congressmen and senators who can get in out of the rain.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Energy Drill

How quickly things change! I first began writing about the Utica Shale more than 7 years ago and as the above chart illustrates the US has moved into the lead in global hydrocarbon production. A perusal of the International Energy Agency's data shows the United States is first in the world in both in oil and natural gas production. Parenthetically it ranks second in coal production in spite of the best efforts of Obama's EPA and its 8 year war on that solid hydrocarbon.
How is this possible? The peak oil theory posited the uninspiring assertion that readily recoverable oil deposits has been declining since about 1975. But how, nearly half a century later, do oil and gas set new production records every year? The quick answer is hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Very basically fracking is the process where after small explosions fracture the rock containing the oil or gas water is forced into the fractures to expand them. The water contains sand which holds the fractures open allowing the gas or oil to escape and be brought to the surface. As stated, fracking is the quick answer as it is employed in the majority of drilling operations but with very little publicity the oil and gas industry has become high tech.
How high tech? High enough that drilling the horizontal leg is done with the aid of a mouse; a mouse that sends signals to the CPU in the drilling head 10,000 feet below the surface. With the new technology come new drilling strategies. In the day when George C. Scott and Faye Dunaway were drilling for Oklahoma crude the trick was to find the pools where the oil that had seeped from the stone had collected. Today grids are mapped out and drilled horizontally. This post in a shale blog caught my attention.

Eclipse can’t help it–they keep setting new world records for the longest lateral (horizontal) wells drilled–in the entire world! It began last year when Eclipse drilled what they call their first “super lateral” Utica well in Guernsey County, OH–the Purple Hayes, at 18,500 feet long (see Eclipse Res. 1Q16: Drills Longest Shale Well Ever! “Purple Hayes”). Since that time, the Purple Hayes well has consistently been the #1 oil producing well in the state. Earlier this year Eclipse drilled a new longest-ever well, also in Guernsey County, the Great Scott 3H well at 19,300 feet long (see Great Scott! Eclipse Drills New Longest Lateral in World – in Utica). And now, Eclipse has drilled yet another record-breaker in Guernsey County. Last Friday the company reported it has drilled the Outlaw C 11H, a Utica well that is an incredible 19,500 feet long horizontally (total measured depth of 27,750 feet). That’s 3.7 miles long! 

It all very simple. Just drill down 8000 feet, make a hard right and proceed to drill another 18,500 feet which is more than twice the length of the Golden Gate Bridge. Great Scott had something going for it that George Scott and Faye didn't have. It had a computer assisted down hole motor. The video below features the Weatherford Revolution RSS smart drill motor replete with CPU, lithium ion battery, and bi-directional communications with the surface. It's not essential to understand exactly how this gadget works to appreciate the though and precision machine work that goes into it. While Weatherford produced the best YouTube video it's hardly alone. Halliburton and Baker Hughes also produce down hole motors.


In summation Eclipse completed the drilling phase of the well in just 17 days. With the aid of Nine Energy Service, a wireline contractor, it completed 124 fracking operations. Cost of the well was $854 per foot.

Merry Christmas, Private Slovik

Just in time for Christmas! Blue state Democrats, smarting over President Trump's penultimate legislative accomplishment, namely the passage of tax reform, are determined to put a lump of coal in the voters' stockings. What could be more Christmassy than a state Obamacare mandate? Not surprisingly the states most likely to explore a coverage requirement are the nearly dozen running their own Obamacare marketplaces, which tend to have Democratic governors.
Replicating the the wisdom of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi at the state level is fraught with challenges. The state of Washington does not have an income tax and creating one just to poke the voters in the eye might be a bit audacious. In California a new tax would require a two thirds vote by both legislative houses. Massachusetts, on the other hand, thanks to political savant, former Governor Mitt Romney, already has a mandate on the books.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Certainly precocious but somehow I feel she is best viewed from afar.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A LOVE revolution of invectives and trash

  Quoting Madonna at today's rally:
"Welcome to the revolution of love......To our detractors that insist that this march will never add up to anything, f--- you."
  After confessing that she's been thinking about "blowing up the White House," the *star* informed her audience, the Secret Service, the FBI, the American people and the world that, rather than blow up the White House, she would "choose love."
Courtesy Tsilli Pines

Courtesy CBS
  Nice little revolution ya got there.

Slate: the BLM KIND are rioters, looters and violent disrupters.

      Monitoring FaceBook has been quite the job the past few months. 
  One poster actually decried the Trump administration's lack of doing anything about squelching the bomb threats called into numerous Jewish Centers the last few months. This was posted 4 hours after he was sworn in.
  Another wailed that "dumb and mean" people are too much in evidence, referencing this article over at Slate, in which the author claims that Trump has declared "a bracing message implicitly directed to supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement: Your kind is not welcome in Trump's America."
  Since Trump has declared himself a "law and order" president, Slate complains, this means he is anti-BLM:
“The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration,” reads a page on the website titled "Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community." It continues: “President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”
In case it wasn’t clear who and what the Trump administration blames for this “anti-police atmosphere,” the website clarified: “Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disrupter.”
  The author laments that "it was chilling to see such unambiguous evidence of his contempt for those who've protested against police violence...."
  I'm glad to see that the Left is finally admitting that BLM is a group implicitly made up of rioters, looters and violent disrupters.

The truth about Chelsea Manning

  Quite a punk, unwilling to follow orders, eager to say "I can't" and not very willing to actually work hard, according to the personal account of one who entered service with him.
What is not accurate is the false and felonious  image of the U.S. military on which the defense of her conduct has been, at its root, predicated: that somehow everyone in her formative years in the military was practically part of a tribe of 6’2”, overly-aggressive Alpha males pumping testosterone out their pores who ganged up on the smallest in the group and tore her apart out of hyper-machismo intolerance; that War is so brutish and nasty, that Warriors too must be. That is simply not accurate. Chelsea Manning wasn’t being picked on at the Shark Attack when the Drill Sergeants said she had to lift her own bag like everyone else, and she said she couldn’t. She wasn’t being picked on when those Soldiers tried to help motivate her to lift the Jerry Can over her head and even picked up their own and did the exercise again, with her, out of solidarity. And when she faked a choking fit in the middle of the Dining Facility, it wasn’t because someone else was tormenting her – she was tormenting herself.

Women's march goes raunchy

  If you're not exhausted from 48 hours of watching Trump's inauguration, you might make the mistake of tuning into CNN, which is covering wall to wall the numerous persons who have turned out to see celebrities bark cliches, swaying bulging thighs squeezed into stretch pants, unintelligible screams in unison and purpose, then be my guest.
  Newly invigorated (from both the left and the right) from yesterday's festivities, we have the women's march today, including one Ashley Judd talking about her periods, her blood stained pants and Donald Trump having sexual thoughts about his daughter.
  All those comments are incredibly disgusting but I guess what I find most revolting is Judd's "Southern" (read: Black) accent reminiscent of Hillary Clinton's "Ah'm noways tar-ed" speech which was delivered to a primarily Black audience.
  Of course, in Lefty World this would be called "cultural appropriation."
  But then, I guess that's only if you are other than Lefty.
  Warning. Offensive and culturally appropriative language.
  Which are, of course, hallmarks of Lefty World.
  If interested, you can actually read about it here.