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.

Amazing capabilities in computer tech

Is that robot telling other robots what parts to pull in an Amazon warehouse? Or is it searching databases to develop your profile before picking which call center operator to connect you to? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Is that robot telling other robots what parts to pull in an Amazon warehouse? Or is it searching databases to develop your profile before picking which call center operator to connect you to? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Here are a few recent reports of astounding things IT and AI can do:

  • Amazon warehouses are so heavily automated it only takes about sixty seconds of human labor to pull, pack, and ship your order.
  • Call centers can construct a profile of you while the phone is ringing.
  • In our society, where if there isn’t video to illustrate and prove a story, the story didn’t happen, it is getting easier to fabricate video.

10/6/16 – CNN – Amazon only needs a minute of human labor to ship your next package – Astounding video to go with the article. I am amazed at the level of automation in their warehouses.

Read more…

Tally of space launches in last two decades

Falcon 9 liftoff, carrying 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Falcon 9 liftoff, carrying 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Behind the Black has tallied the number of space launches by country and by US company, by year from 1998 through 2016.

Mr. Zimmerman provides the tally at Launch industry trends, based on recent history on 1/11. He provides more observations on the trends in the January 13, 2017 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast.

For a more overall view (and under fair use) I added up the launches from 1998 through 2006 and then from 2007 through 2016. I chose a break of 2007 because that is when Lockheed Martin and Boeing formed their joint venture, United Launch Alliance. Here are the long-term trends:

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Oil production in North Dakota drops 1% in November

daily-output-since-2008-1-17

Above graph shows the average daily production in North Dakota statewide and in the Bakken field. Output in November dropped to 1,033,693 bopd from October production of 1,043,318 (revised), a change of 9,625, or down 0.92%.

Mr. Lynn Helms has some observations, reported by Amy Dalrymple, ND Oil Production Stays Above 1 Million Barrels in November.

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SpaceX back in space with successful launch and recovery of Falcon 9 booster

Falcon 9 at Vandenber SLC 4E, ready to life 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Falcon 9 at Vandenberg SLC 4E, ready to lift 10 Iridium satellites into orbit. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

I just watched SpaceX lift 10 satellites into low-earth orbit for Iridium. This will allow Iridium to replace their constellation of communication sats. Another 71 sats will go up, of which 60 more will be lifted by SpaceX.

Here are merely two of the super cool aspects of this launch.

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Update on environmental damage from wind power

WInd farms will soon get 30 year long permits to take out those birds. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub prior to their merger into Adobe Stock.

WInd farms will soon get 30 year long permits to take out those birds. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub prior to their merger into Adobe Stock.

Just a few of the recent articles providing updates on slice-and-dicers damage in general and status of North Dakota wind farms in particular.

  • Wyoming project may get specific permission to kill eagles
  • All wind farms get broad permission to kill eagles for 30 years
  • Massive subsidies for wind power, which is intermittent and unreliable, meaning it is often unavailable when needed
  • Updates on two N.D. turbine farms

12/8/16 – Denver Post – Wyoming wind project may get permit to kill eagles – The Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm, which will start with 500 slice-and-dicers and may expand to 1,000 bird-choppers, could get two critical permits by next month (January).

The first permit will allow destroying eagle nests that are currently unoccupied. I’m guessing that will chase away eagles from the kill zone.

The second permit will allow the facility to kill 14 golden eagles a year for five years. They can also off 2 bald eagles a year for five years.

The slicer farm will have to do mitigation for the golden eagles they expect to kill, but not the bald eagles.

Read more…

The wide open frontier of drone technology

Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Several recent articles reveal research into weaponizing drones:

  • Russian nuke-armed drone sub
  • DARPA trying to develop swarm capability
  • successful test of a swarm
  • converting full size plane into drone with drop-in package

12/8 – Bill Gertz at Washington Free Beacon – Russia Tests Nuclear-Capable Drone Sub – Published reports in Russia indicates their military is developing a drone sub that can travel 6,200 miles, dive to 3,280 feet, and zip along at 56 knots.

Most troublesome is it will equipped to carry a  nuclear weapon, possibly up to the massively huge size of 100 megatons.

Read more…

Tally of planned launches for 2017

Ariane 5 on pad for VA227 launch. Credit: Arianespace.

Ariane 5 on pad for VA227 launch. Credit: Arianespace.

I’m constantly amazed at the activity in space. Maybe I’m just slow to catch on but there is a lot of work getting stuff into orbit.

Spaceflight 101 reports their tally of planned space shots in their post Spaceflight101 Launch Calendar.

I will modify their tally by adding another 15 launches by China as reported by GBTimes, China to attempt close to 30 space launches in 2017. Behind the Black explains that China is somewhat secretive about their space plans, so they don’t announce all their expected launches.

Previously mentioned the tally of actual launches for 2016.

In other news, Behind the Black reports India considers going to Jupiter and Venus. Their first manned flights are planned for 2024. BtB also reports Arianespace wins two contracts, aims for a dozen launches in 2017. Article guesses that Arianspace is getting these contracts because SpaceX has a backlog longer than their current capacity can deliver timely. Article indicates SpaceX needs to up their launch rate to stay competitive.

So, here is the list of planned launches. I also include the lift vehicle. That data is useful for me in order to keep straight what rockets belong to whom.

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Update on cost to Penn State for that abomination in their football program. Massive cumulative amount is in the range of a cost of doing business.

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). Fisher Fine Arts Library building. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). Fisher Fine Arts Library building. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The sexual abuse in the Penn State football program has actually had a large dollar cost for the University. Will look at that in a moment and then consider the magnitude of the cost in relation to revenue.

This is in addition to the minor, now-in-the-distant-past, merely-a-cost-of-doing-business penalty paid by the football program itself.  See my previous discussion: NCAA agrees to restore Penn State’s wins. Apparently sanctions for covering up child molestation are merely temporary in addition to being mild.

Financial costs to date

As for the university itself, the AP at USA Today reports Penn State abuse scandal costs approach a quarter-billion. Reported costs are up to about $237,000,000. That’s in the range of a quarter of a billion dollars.

Here is my recap of the costs mentioned in the article, summarized in the way I put them together: 

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Tally of space launches in 2016

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Antares booster on launch pad. Courtesy of Orbital ATK. Used with permission.

Here is a list of actual launches in 2016. Next post will describe the planned launches for 2017.

Parabolic Arc – USA, China Led World in Launches in 2016 – Supercool article describes the launch successes and failures in 2016, including a tally of launches by country and life vehicles. Recap of status of all the US players.

I pulled the tally of attempts and successes, including the launch pad failure of a Falcon 9 as an attempt, even though it didn’t get off the ground and thus is not actually an attempt:

Read more…

An illustration why mining asteroids would be lucrative. Also, a startup to provide world-wide ‘net access

Courtesy of Adobe Stock

Courtesy of Adobe Stock

Amazing things going on in the world of private space exploration:

  • One asteroid in the asteroid belt has massive amounts of ice; why that is important
  • OneWeb is moving forward with plans to launch a constellation of small sats to provide access to the internet across the planet

12/16 – Tech Times – Dwarf Planet Ceres Is Full Of Water: Biggest Asteroid in Solar System Was An Ocean World – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has taken images of dwarf planet Ceres and determined it does in fact contain massive amounts of frozen water.  The polar regions of the asteroid contain layers of ice from 30 to 300 feet thick.

This is a really big deal because water is critical for space travel. Obvious use is hydration of astronauts and food preparation. Not so obviously, the H2O can be broken down into oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for propulsion.

Combine that idea with the cost of getting anything into orbit, which is somewhere north of $100,000 a pound. More on that in a moment. A gallon of water to drink could cost something in the range of a million dollars, give or take, to get into orbit.

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North Dakota rig count trending up in late 2016

Drilling rig in North Dakota during October 2013 to go along with previous two pictures. Photo by James Ulvog.

Drilling rig in North Dakota during October 2013. This was taken same day as previous two pictures. Photo by James Ulvog.

The rig count is slowly increasing. Not a dramatic increase and nothing like the high point, but a noticeable change from the mid-20s in the spring and the 30s during the summer and fall.

By the way, this explains the slight change in employment in Williston mentioned in the previous post.

Here is a recap of the North Dakota rig count, all from Million Dollar Way, other than during my trip to Williston in November 2016.

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How a real hero responds when his Medal of Honor is mentioned: “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.”

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The quote above is from Bill Crawford, then a janitor at the US Air Force Academy, when asked by cadets if he was the person described in a history of WWII as having been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery under fire.

Before one of the cadets noted the similarity of names between this WWII hero on the page of the book and the janitor who kept the cadet squadron dormitory clean, Mr. Crawford was unobtrusive, doing his job diligently without any fuss.

The response of a real hero is someone who says some variation of he was just doing his job.

What was ‘his job’?

Well, here are a few articles to check out. I’ll then give some highlights. Read more…

Higher denomination bills still not available in Venezuela. Oh, by the way, socialism kills.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Well, never mind about turning in those worthless bills.

12/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Extends Use of 100-Bolivar Note to Jan. 2 – Since the large denomination replacement bills are not ready, the government graciously and on spur-of-the-moment decided to let people have until January 2 to turn in all their 100 Bolivar notes, each of which is worth about three US cents. By government dictat, the 100 bills will be valid until 1/2/17.

12/19 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Deploys Troops After Weekend Riots – Looting is spreading. Government sent 3,000 soldiers to the state of Bolivar after looting there.

12/30 – Associated Press at Wall Street Journal Venezuela’s President Once Again Extends 100-Bolivar Note’s Deadline – Deadline to turn in all 100 Bolivar bills before they become null and void has been extended a second time. Venezuelan citizens have until January 20 to turn in all the old bills.

The problem? The higher denomination bills are still not ready for distribution.

12/25 – New York Times – No Food, No Medicine, No Respite: A Starving Boy’s Death in Venezuela Focus of the article is not on surgeons who operate on bloodied tables because there is not enough water to wash it off, let alone enough sterilizing solution to make it clean. Neither is the focus on psychiatric hospitals where the lack of medicine’s forces the staff to tie psychiatric patients to their chairs.

That’s the state of medicine in Venezuela, but instead the article focuses on the death of one 16-year-old young man.

Read more…

EPA study: fracking doesn’t contaminate ground water.

Illustration shows the concept but distorts the proportion. Water is usually 500 or 1500 feet down. Drilling is usually 10,000 or more feet underground. That leaves somewhere around 8,000 or 10,000 feet of solid rock separation. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Illustration shows the fracking concept but severely distorts the proportions. Water is usually 500 or 1500 feet down. Drilling is usually 10,000 or more feet underground. That leaves somewhere around 9,000 feet or more of solid rock separation. Distance between oil and water is about 9 times the distance between the water and the surface. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The EPA spent millions of dollars and five years looking for some evidence that fracking causes contamination of ground water. They only found isolated indications of contamination, nothing widespread, and nothing systematic. Yet their report suggests otherwise.

12/13 – The Daily Caller News Foundation – EPA Says There’s No Evidence Fracking Contaminates Groundwater – The EPA spent five years, working with environmental groups, trying to find evidence that fracking causes contamination of groundwater. Even with five years of effort they could not find any evidence or indication of serious risk, only a few isolated incidents.

In spite of that, EPA withdrew a comment from the previous report that there’s no evidence that fracking causes contamination. The reason they withdrew their comment in spite of not been able to find any evidence? They can’t prove the negative that it doesn’t cause contamination.

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Massive experiment to store electricity will add massive cost to consumers

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro Project in Montana is moving forward, having previously received an assessment of no significant impact on the environment from FERC and having just received a 50 year license to operate the facility.

Looks to me like the project will substantially increase the cost of electricity.

Stored water concept

The concept is that electricity generated by wind farms or solar farms when there is no need for the electricity can be sent to the Gordon Butte facility. The otherwise unusable electricity will be used to pump water from a reservoir uphill to a reservoir at a higher elevation. That “stores” the potential energy.

Later, when consumers want more electricity than the slice-and-dicers and wing-toasters can produce, water will be drained from the upper reservoir to the lower reservoir through turbines thus generating electricity from the stored water.

Read more…

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