Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

More background on the distress of middle east oil producers

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Low oil prices continue to create distress for several governments in the Middle East who need high prices to provide enough goodies to keep the populace happy. Also, some background on the war in Yemen. Last article describes the exploitative labor system called kafala.

8/29 – Strategy Page – Yemen: The Message From Iran is Clear – Deep background on the war between Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and rebels in Yemen (Shia).

Iran (Shia) is backing the rebels, providing lots of smuggled munitions and supplies, including ballistic missiles. The vendors to the Saudis caution there is a chance that a ballistic missile could hit a target. Iran is providing propaganda support, which is effective. There is a lot of fighting.

Read more…

Information on nuclear weaponry for future reference

Minuteman II on static display at March Air Base Museum. Photo by James Ulvog.

Minuteman II on static display at March Air Base Museum. Photo by James Ulvog.

I’ve been wanting to put some data on nuclear weapons in print (Yeah, in print isn’t correct, but in pixels just doesn’t sound right).

That way if I want to make reference to some of this info in the future I can point to an unclassified, unverified source for that information. Somewhere in the back of my brain I might remember something I was told on the record so I want to have something in print I can point to instead.

Also, found an article I found disturbing, yet of interest. First the disturbing article:

2/6/16 – The Economist – What lurks beneath – India is hoping to officially commission its first SSBM (a nuclear sub carrying missiles, or SSBN) this week. China reportedly has 4 second-generation SSBNs.

Both countries are trying to dominate their nearby ocean to provide safe operating space for their SSBNs. Article says both their boomers are noisy. That means for the moment they are easy to find.

Just to ponder. Number of SSBNs:

  • 4 – China
  • 1 – India

Article has a graph showing the estimated number of nukes held by India, Pakistan, and China. My interpolation of the graph, rounded to nearest 5s:

Read more…

Vast range of top level domains

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Just in case you were wondering, here is a list of the domain name extensions I found that are available at GoDaddy, excluding several that are recognizably related to a specific country. Probably missed a few.

First, the old standbys:

.com
.org
.net
.info
.edu
.gov

 

Then there are the massive volume of new ones:

Read more…

Forward progress on open frontiers is not a straight line: launching rockets is in fact rocket science.

In terms of space flight, that photo shows the old-style rocket science. Image of JCSAT-16 is in public domain, courtesy of SpaceX.

In terms of space flight, that photo shows the old-style rocket science. Image of JCSAT-16 is in public domain, courtesy of SpaceX at Flickr.

There is a reason the phrase “rocket science” is the standard reference point for something that is overwhelmingly difficult and deadly dangerous.

First article describes SpaceX’s loss of a rocket and payload. Second article describes the huge financial reward for that huge risk.

That photo shows the brand new stage of rocket science, recovering the first stage booster. Image of JCSAT-16 is in public domain, courtesy of SpaceX.

That photo shows the brand new stage of rocket science, successfully recovering the first stage booster. Image of Falcon 9 from JCSAT-16 launch is in public domain, courtesy of SpaceX at Flickr.

9/3 – Business Insider – SpaceX and NASA have released full statements about Thursday’s rocket explosion – here’s what they said – On September 1, a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX exploded on the pad during the loading of fuel for a standard test firing of the engines in preparation for launching a communications satellite for Facebook. The rocket and payload were both destroyed.

Read more…

Crew camps in Williston back in the news

September 2015 photo of remote man camp by James Ulvog

September 2015 photo of remote man camp by James Ulvog

The city decided to approve a new set of rules to shut down all the crew camps. The operators are fighting back. Lots of news in the last few weeks with the September 1 deadline having arrived. Mayor proves in his public comments that he is engaged in protectionism, favoring two classes of housing providers over one other.

8/23 – Williston Herald – Commission is unanimous: Crew camps end Sept. 1 With the second reading, the law becomes official that crew camps within the reach of the Williston Commission must close by September 1, the buildings removed by May 2018, with the land reclaimed by August 2018.

8/29 – Williston Herald at Dickinson Press – Williston crew camp court fight to continue – Three companies that own crew camps will continue to fight in federal court.

Target Logistics says they have offered several compromise ideas to the city Commissioners, none of which have been revealed in detail.

Read more…

Cool stuff on the open frontier of technology: commercial drones, merchant ships without crews, and tiny satellites.

 

Imagine one of those providing enough bandwidth to allow merchant ships to operate without a crew. Imagine scaling that down to show-box size to allow a company to sell daily images of every spot on the earth. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Imagine one of those providing enough bandwidth to allow merchant ships to sail the world without any crew. Imagine scaling that down to show-box size to allow a company to sell daily images of every spot on the earth. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Technology is advancing at mind-boggling speed:

  • New rules for small drones allow commercial use of drones
  • Drones as bold security guards
  • Cubesats that can count all the cars in all the parking lots of a retailer
  • Research underway for merchant ships that can travel the world without any crew members on board

8/30 – Wall Street Journal – Business-Drone Rules to Take Effect – New rules governing business use of drones up to 55 pounds go into effect this day. Previously, rules required all drone operators to merely register with the feds. New rules allow business use of drones, by licensed pilots, within line-of-site, during the day, with drones under 55 pounds.

Expect more rules to address flight beyond line-of-site, and how to operate when people are underneath the drone.

8/22 – TechCrunch – Drone startup Aptonomy introduces the self-flying security guard – Company has a drone loaded with cameras, lights, loudspeakers, including night-vision cameras. I am sure there will be microphones to pick up sounds and conversations.

It can be dispatched as a remote-controlled security guard.

Read more…

Additional issues at Ivanpah: melting the salt and high winds

Production possible when there is no rain, or clouds, and if the wind isn't blowing too strong. Tilted photo by James Ulvog.

Production possible only when there is no rain, or clouds, and if the wind isn’t blowing too strong. Tilt angle photo by James Ulvog.

In my learning about energy, I’ve picked up on a few more problems with concentrated solar power, which is the design of the wing-toasting facility at Ivanpah.

Keeping the molten salt melted

All those mirrors focus the sun on the top of the tower in order to superheat a liquid, which is then circulated to turbines, which spin, thus generating electricity. The liquid returns to the top of the tower for another superheating.

The liquid?

Molten salt.

The melting temperature of molten salt is in the range of 225° C or perhaps 260° C. Of course my accounting brain doesn’t think Celsius, so I translated those numbers, coming up with something in the range of 437° F or 500° F. Let’s just call that 400°.

My accounting brain can tell that is really hot.

Another thing I have learned is that once the sun goes down the molten salt is allowed to freeze. It would take a lot of energy to keep that much salt over 400 so that it stayed liquid. That means in the morning it is either sludge or solid and needs to be heated above the melting point so it will work.

Read more…

Exquisitely expensive offshore wind farm to begin turning in October

To understand the size and extent of visual pollution, notice the small size of that work basket which would hold many people. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

To understand the extent of visual pollution and danger to navigation, notice the small size of that work basket which is large enough to hold many people. The rails are probably about four feet high. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

New York Times reports on 8/22 that America’s First Offshore Wind Farm May Power Up a New Industry – In a very upbeat puff piece, the NYT describes the Block Island Wind Farm project, which is expected to start producing electricity in October, after construction was recently completed. The turbines will start turning in October and after weeks of fine tuning (to get the phase output from each turbine identically matched and to resolve other technical issues), will start pumping out electricity.

Photo in the article shows the turbines are extremely visible from the island. If you didn’t know they are about 589 feet tall, you might guess the turbines are a half mile or mile offshore. They are actually three miles away.

Read more…

Long sentences that work well

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I want to look at a few samples of the writing of John D. Billings, when he told in 1887 of his experiences in the Civil War. He shared his recollections in Hard Tack and Coffee, currently $0.99 for the Kindle version. Previously mentioned his book here.

Consider the smooth flow of the following two sentences. Yes, two sentences:

Taps ended the army day for all branches of the service, and, unless an alarm broke in upon the stillness of the night, the soldiers were left to their slumbers; or, what was oftener the case, to meditations on home; the length of time in months and days they must serve before returning thither; their prospects of surviving the vicissitudes of war; of the boys who once answered roll-call with them, now camped over across the Dark River; or of plans for business, or social relations to be entered upon, if they should survive the war. All these, and a hundred other topics which furnished abundant field for air-castle-building, would chase one another through the mind of the soldier-dreamer, till his brain would grow weary, his eyes heavy, and balmy sleep would softly steal him away from a world of trouble into the realm of sweet repose and pleasant dreams.

Wow.

Let’s break apart those two sentences.

Read more…

Cool stuff on the open frontier of technology: drones

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

A few articles I’ve noticed recently on the open frontier of drone technology.

7/7 – Behind the Black – Boston Dynamics – Atlas, The Next Generation – The skill of robots.

Astounding. Amongst many items to notice in the video is the lack of an external power supply

6/08 – The Guardian – World’s first passenger drones cleared for testing in Nevada

Read more…

A short (yet long enough to be plenty depressing) history of the New Deal and why it extended the Great Depression

Hunger sculpture at FDR Memorial in Washington DC. A monument to the man whose policies added extra years to the Depression yet who rarely gets credit for the unnecessary suffering. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Hunger sculpture at FDR Memorial in Washington DC. A monument to the man whose intentional policies added extra years to the Depression yet who rarely gets credit for the unnecessary suffering. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

If you want more detail that can be covered in this blog explaining how the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, increasing suffering, and extending the  pain by years, check out Great Myths of the Great Depression By Lawrence W. Reed.

At a mere 47 pages, about 40 pages without the voluminous footnotes, you can get a survey of the destruction caused by FDR and the self-declared wizards who thought they could control all the details of the economy.

Here is a very short summary of the government-extended disaster. Read more…

A few updates on oil prices and production

What's going to happen on oil prices and production levels? I don't have a clue. Trying to find a clue is why I blog. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

What’s going to happen on oil prices and production levels? When will supply and demand balance? My answer above. Trying to find a clue is why I blog.
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Here are a few articles of the last few weeks discussing oil production, possible direction of prices, and possibility of increased turmoil in Middle East.

8/11 – Wall Street Journal – Saudi Oil Output Sets Record Despite Global Glut – Both Saudi Arabia and OPEC hit record production levels in July. Saudi output hit 10.67M bopd, while OPEC hit 33.11M bopd. Eyeball the accompanying graph in the article and you can see output in 2015 and 2016 in total is at the highest level since 2002.

Iran’s output has hit 3.6M bopd, with their announced target of 4M bopd before they will consider discussion to freeze output. Article says speculation says they have likely hit a production ceiling.

Ironically, if Iran and each of the OPEC producers (other than Venezuela) are at maximum production, they might all get together and agree to a production freeze. Not that a freeze while everyone is running at maximum capacity would do any good.

8/11 – Wall Street Journal – IEA: Crude Production to Fall Behind DemandRead more…

Two new wind power farms in North Dakota

Operational condition of wind turbines in California for 86% of the time in first quarter of 2015. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Operational condition of wind turbines in California for 86% of the time in first quarter of 2015. This is a still photo but visual would be the same if this was an hour-long video, other than a few coyotes wandering around wondering why their avian lunch wasn’t delivered to the usual spot. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

More articles on wind power in North Dakota.

  • Background on why wind cannot provide base load of electricity we need to live a modern life.
  • Capacity info for a new wind farm.
  • Capacity for another wind farm and worries from regulators that the increase in power from wind and decrease in power from coal may soon create instability in the electricity grid.

8/5 – Dickinson Press – Power generated by wind adds to grid, but it’s still backup to coal in North Dakota – If you are just tuning in to energy issues, check out this article. It provides background to the idea that the electricity we need all the time is from what is called base load, which comes primarily from coal plants in North Dakota.

Read more…

North Dakota oil production drops 2% in June

Total crude oil production in the state dropped 20,419 bopd, going from 1,047,003 bopd in May to 1,026,584 bopd in June. That is a decline of 1.95%. I’ll make a guess that another month or two will see production cross the one million point.

The Director’s Cut is guessing the low prices, and consequent low rig count, will last through third quarter this year or second quarter of next year.

Just one graph today:

oil production 08 to 6-16

Rig count in North Dakota during summer of 2016

An increasingly rare sight in North Dakota. Not only the active rig, but the flaring as well. Photo by James Ulvog.

An increasingly rare sight in North Dakota. Not only the active rig, but the flaring as well. Photo by James Ulvog.

Here is a recap of the North Dakota rig count. All of the data is from Million Dollar Way. The number of rigs isn’t as important now as it was a year or three ago, but it is still one indicator of activity. One rig today creates a well that produces a lot more oil that a few years ago, and in less time, and at lower cost.

Some older data repeated for context: Read more…

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