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.

Election results on recreational marijuana – #26

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Results from the fall 2016 elections show spread of recreational marijuana. That means there will be a lot more states to keep an eye on to see how severely the regulations affect in a new industry.

Currently I’m trying to keep an eye on developments in Colorado and Oregon, since they are further along in the experiment of regulating the industry. At this point I’ll also keep an eye on California, which is one of the states which just voted to allow recreational use. Since I live in California, it will be easier to keep an eye on the regulatory environment.

11/8 – Washington Post – Marijuana wins big on election night – Looks like I’ll need to spend a lot more time watching the crushing effect of overregulation on newly legal industries.

Read more…

“Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire” infographic

Silver Roman denarius. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Silver Roman denarius. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Telling the tale of the collapse of the Roman Empire is a challenge even in a full length book. Presenting one slice of the story in an easily read and understood infographic is even more of a challenge.

The Money Project is a blog run by Visual Capitalist which focuses on illustrating complex ideas. Their infographic Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire does a great job of describing how debasement of the currency and the resulting inflation made trade more difficult which in turn contributed to the collapse.

Oh, used with permission of Visual Capitalist.

A great story with many lessons to be learned for anyone willing to think for a while:

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Government decisions helped take down the Roman economy

Roman Colosseum. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Roman Colosseum. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I’ll have two posts describing how bad decisions by Roman Emperors contributed to the economic deterioration in the Empire by their intentional decisions.

First, check out Richard Ebeling on 10/5/16 at Foundation for Economic Freedom – How Roman Central Planners Destroyed Their Economy.

In 58 B.C. (yes, I know that was shortly before the move from a republic to an empire), the Roman government started giving wheat to citizens of Rome for free. As expected, this resulted in masters letting their slaves go free so the government was responsible for their subsistence. In 45 B.C. Julius Caesar figured out that one-third of Roman citizens were getting their food from the government.

Farmers fled to the city to get food for free instead of breaking their back all year long in order to barely have enough to eat. Slave owners turned their slaves free so the central government could feed them instead.

Move forward a few hundred years to see the destruction from debasing the currency along with price controls.

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More on the astoundingly open frontier of mining asteriods

Our solar system with illustrated asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Our solar system with illustrated asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you want to take your mind off the depressing news appearing on the front page of every newspaper every day, stretch your brain to consider the idea of mining asteroids for raw materials to build and fuel spaceships.

11/2 – Visual Capitalist – There’s Big Money to Be Made in Asteroid Mining – The theory is that an entire class of asteroids (the X-type) were once a large asteroid which has gone through several collisions which tore off most of the material leaving a very dense core of valuable metals.  One particular X-type asteroid is thought to hold more platinum that has been mined from planet Earth throughout all history.

The real payoff would be asteroids out in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Resources there are staggering.

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Increasing political danger in Venezuela – #15

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The sinking feeling in my stomach tells me things are going to get far worse in Venezuela in the near future.

10/27 – Reuters at Yahoo news – Venezuela crisis enters dangerous phase as Maduro foes go militant – Article gives a depressing summary of the last few days.

On the same day, four different courts around the country released identical rulings saying the signatures gathered for the recall were invalid. Four courts. Same day. Identical rulings.

The election board said the referendum was off because the signatures were invalid.

Many of the opposition concluded that means they are living in a complete dictatorship.

Read more…

Cool stuff on the open frontier of drone technology

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Three fun articles on drone technology:

  • UND starting classes on setting up a drone business
  • a drone for every Marine squad?
  • drones armed with stun guns
  • autonomous armed drones.

As a bonus, a cool video on how train wheels are made.

Check these out as a refreshing break from the otherwise oh so depressing headlines.

10/19 – Reason – University of North Dakota Offers Class on Starting Your Own Drone Business – Course will have three parts. First, getting pilot certificate and studying FAA regs. Second, studying state of the industry today. Third, develop a business plan for a drone business.

9/30 – Popular Science – Marine Corps Commandant Wants a Drone in Every Squad

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Venezuela slides further into the abyss – #14

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

More on the ongoing human tragedy that is the result of intentional government policies in Venezuela:

  • Infant mortality is soaring
  • Government starts to let go a bit on the widespread  price controls. Unexpectedly, food reappears on the shelves when priced at realistic prices
  • State owned oil company is losing ability to pump oil
  • Government suspends the recall effort, which leads to…
  • Lawmakers start impeachment effort

This is going to get far worse before the massive suffering ends.

10/17 – Wall Street Journal – Infant Mortality Soars in Venezuela – The infant mortality rate is soaring so far and so fast that doctors and hospitals are under pressure not to release any data because it reveals the depths of the human suffering in play.

Infant mortality is defined as the number of babies that die before their first birthday. Here is the infant morality rate, expressed in infant deaths per 1,000 live births:

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Yet more news showing why we will continue to have plenty of oil

I don't know who owns those wells, but use this picture as a visual that shale companies in bankruptcy haven't stopped pumping oil. Photo by James Ulvog.

I don’t know who owns those wells, but use this picture as a visual that shale companies in bankruptcy haven’t stopped pumping oil. Photo by James Ulvog.

The concept that one should not bet against human ingenuity is key to realizing we won’t run out of oil and there won’t be a sustained runup in prices anytime soon. A few articles showing why I say that. Articles also show the severity of the catastrophic mistake made by the Saudi government.

  • There is a difference cutoff for the breakeven price of the company Saudi Aramco and the country Saudi Arabia. US shale producers can crank out tons of oil at prices far below what the Saudi government needs to survive.
  • Huge Kashagan oil field in Kazakhstan starts producing
  • US shale producers in bankruptcy proceedings are producing almost as much oil as the they were before prices collapsed. They didn’t close in their wells.

10/17 – Gary Sernovitz in op-ed at Wall Street Journal – Trimming Oil Output Won’t Keep OPEC States Afloat – Main idea I draw from article is that if OPEC reaches a deal to cut production, and if they get Russia to go along, and if the cut is enough to push prices up the amount they want, and if none of the producers cheat, then it still won’t keep the petrostates funded at the level they need to keep all their social programs going.

That is a lot of ifs and even if they all happen, it won’t matter much.

Amongst the many reasons this is the case, two stand out to me.

First, for the history of oil production, the easiest and cheapest oil to come out of a field is the first drawn. After that, the oil gets more difficult and more expensive. The opposite is happening in the fracking fields. The breakeven price is lower today in Bakken, Permian, and elsewhere than two years ago and the breakeven price looks to be going lower. That means the frackers can keep functioning with low prices and thrive with moderate increases.

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Still more on the downside of alternative, unreliable energy sources

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few more updates on the unintended consequences of alternative, unreliable energy sources.

  • Humans want electricity available the instant we want electricity – the challenge of dispatchable energy
  • An overview of the harm from burning corn in our engines

8/9 – Million Dollar Way – Dispatchable Energy – The Demand is Growing

Yet another massive problem with wind and solar energy. You cannot turn it off and on. As in, provide electricity when people decide they want it. That feature is called dispatchable.

Here’s the definition of the term:

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Fun news on the open frontier of space exploration

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

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

The number of private sector companies working to develop commercial exploration of space is amazing, as is the progress they are making. A few fun articles:

  • Blue Origin’s capsule escape test went well; check out the video
  • Orbital ATK successfully launched a Cygnus capsule on their Antares booster.
  • Lots of companies are working in the small sat market, with lots of competition in all sectors of the open space frontier

10/5 – Popular Mechanics – Blue Origin’s Rocket Test Just Went Better Than Anyone Thought Possible – Blue Origin just successfully completed the crew capsule escape test. The capsule’s emergency rockets fired 70,000 pounds of thrust off angle to the flight of the booster to separate the capsule from the booster.

Speculation on Twitter yesterday is the off angle push would topple the booster and require its destruction.

Instead, the booster survived the capsule’s escape, continued climbing to over 200,000 feet, fell back to earth, and successfully recovered two miles from the launch site.

Astounding.

Check out the video. Jump to the 1:07:00 mark for the launch and escape. Watch another five minutes for the astounding recovery.

Amongst the other fabulous details, keep in mind the camera is tracking the booster at 200,000 feet, down through 100,000 feet, all the way to the ground. Amazing.

10/17 – Space.com – Orbital ATK’s Antares Rocket Returns to Flight with Gorgeous Night Cargo Launch Read more…

More North Dakota production information

Previous post showed the oil production in North Dakota through August 2016. Here is some more info on production in the state. Data is extracted from the  monthly “Director’s Report” and historical production data.

Average sweet crude prices for North Dakota oil. This reflects a discount from the West Texas Intermediate due to transportation costs.

 

sweet-crude-10-16

Here is the value of monthly production based on actual output multiplied by the average sweet crude price rolled into the preceding graph:

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Oil production in North Dakota drops 4.7% in August, slipping below the 1 million level

state-and-bakken-output-10-16

Above graph shows the average daily production in North Dakota statewide and in the Bakken field. Output in August dropped from 1,029,734 barrels of oil per day (bopd) (revised) to 981,039 bopd (preliminary), a change of 48,695 bopd, or 4.73%.

This is the first month with average daily production below 1 million bopd since March 2014.

Here is the average daily production by month since 2004:

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Still more amazing news from Bakken

Workover rig in October 2014. Photo by James Ulvog.

Workover rig in October 2014. Photo by James Ulvog.

In contrast to the horrible news mentioned yesterday from Venezuela, consider the the amazing news from the open frontier of energy production. The benefits produced by fracking just don’t seem to stop.

9/23 – The Million Dollar Way –Update On The Bakkan – Lynn Helms – A few highlights in the article from a radio interview I found particularly fascinating:

  • Production in North Dakota will drop below 1M bopd but Mr. Helms does not expected to go below 900K bopd.
  • Initial production rates had been 1100 bopd but are now running 1500 bopd.
  • Estimated Ultimate Recovery amounts have increased one-fourth.
  • There are somewhere between 8000 and 8500 wells that are good candidates for refracking because they are initially drilled with old technology.
  • This is astounding – a drilling rig today drills an average of 25 wells in a year compared to only 8 or 9 wells as recently as 2009. Imagine the improved IRR.
  • Drilling efficiencies have come from multi-well pads, new technology for bits, new technology promoters, and new technology for mud. Ponder the impact of technology.
Closeup of workover rig. Photo by James Ulvog.

Closeup of workover rig. Photo by James Ulvog.

9/23 – The Million Dollar Way – FAQ: How Much Oil Can One Reasonably Expect That A Bakken Well Will Produce Over The Lifetime Of That Well? – Astounding information.

Read more…

Still more horrifying news from Venezuela – #13

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island, Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The heartbreaking humanitarian crisis in Venezuela just keeps getting worse.

If only they had massive amounts of energy in the ground that they could sell.

Oh, I wonder what economic system caused this massive suffering?

9/4 – New York Times – Venezuelan President is Chased by Angry Protesters – After walking into a crowd during a political rally, the president was run off by the crowd screaming ‘we’re hungry’ accompanied with lots of banging on pots and kettles.

9/20 – New York Times – How Bad Off is Oil-Rich Venezuela? It’s Buying U.S. Oil – I don’t understand the process, but apparently you need to use light sweet crude in order to get thick sour crude out of the ground. Production in Venezuela has dropped so far that since early in 2016 the country has had to import 50,000 BOPD of light sweet from the US in order to maintain production.

Even with that, production is down to 2.4M bopd now from about 2.75M bopd a year ago. That reflects a 1M bopd drop from when Hugo Chavez took over as president in 1998.

9/26 – Fox News – Venezuelan children fainting in school because they are hungry – One very brave teacher is quoted by name. Last academic year about 10 children were absent from her class every day out of 30 students enrolled.

Read more…

More long sentences that work well

Union and Confederate soldier reenactors at Azusa Pacific University on 3/1/14. I do not recall what unit they are with. Photo by James Ulvog.

Union and Confederate soldier reenactors at Azusa Pacific University on 3/1/14. I do not recall what reenactment unit they are with. Photo by James Ulvog.

I previously mentioned some comments by John D. Billings as he told of his experiences in the Civil War. His tales appeared in Hard Tack and Coffee written all the way back in 1887. By the way, the book is only $0.99 in the Kindle version.

Look at the following description of the progress of technology during the war, all in three sentences:

The descendants of Paul Revere diverted a part of their yellow metal from the mills which rolled it into sheathing for government ships, to the founding of brass twelve-pounders, or Napoleons, as they were called; and many a Rebel was laid low by shrapnel or canister hurled through the muzzle of guns on which was plainly stamped “Revere Copper Co., Canton, Mass.” Plain smooth-bore Springfield muskets soon became Springfield rifles, and directly the process of rifling was applied to cannon of various calibres. Then, muzzle-loading rifles became breech-loading; and from a breech-loader for a single cartridge the capacity was increased, until some of the cavalry regiments that took the field in 1864 went equipped with Henry’s sixteen-shooters, a breech-loading rifle, which the Rebels said the Yanks loaded in the morning and fired all day.

For my own study and your enjoyment, let’s pull that paragraph apart:

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