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.

The incredible wealth of Mansa Musa, the ancient emperor of Mali

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.

Map of Mali courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.

Barron’s suggests Mansa Musa, the Emperor of Mali in the 1300s, was the richest man who ever lived.

(This discussion is cross-posted from my other blog, Attestation Update. The article is brought into this blog because previous discussions addressed the tragic civil war in Mali. Mansa Musa provides background to the rich history of the country.)

Since I firmly believe that I am richer today than John D. Rockefeller was back in 1916, I would also insist that I am, right now, richer than Mansa Musa was in 1324. But that isn’t the point of the story. I’ll mention travel costs momentarily.

The 7/23 article from Barron’s gives a glimpse into ancient finances by wondering Who Was the Richest Person Who Ever Lived? / The Emperor of Mali lived on top of a 14th century Goldmine so prolific that it probably made him the richest person who ever lived.

Musa Keita I is referred to as Mansa, or Emperor, Musa. He was born somewhere around 1280 and died somewhere around 1337. He was the ruler of the Mali Empire which stretched across Western Africa.

Consider the economic resources in the area: gold and salt.

Read more…

More news on the damage from solar power

For those panels to pay off, the regulators need to keep rules in place for a decade or two. Not a good bet. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

For those panels to pay off, you are betting the regulators will keep rules in place for a decade or two. Not a particularly good bet. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com


Two articles last week on disruptions from solar power. Illustration why it’s not wise to make it decade-long bet on residential rooftop solar. Also, a video surveillance system that might, perhaps allow getting an accurate count on the tally of bird deaths at Ivanpah.

7/26 – New York Times – Why Home Solar Panels No Longer in Some States – Friendly suggestion for your consideration: Don’t place $20,000 on a 12 year bet that politically driven government regulators won’t change the rules.

The story of one specific man in California is used to illustrate the danger of betting on stability in government rules.

In California, electricity rates have been structured so that there are four tiers of consumption. To punish heavy residential electricity users, prices in tiers three and four are steep, running as high as $.36 a kilowatt-hour for tier 4 with PG&E. To protect most folks from rising cost of electricity the lower two tiers were set low, resulting in a cross-subsidy. Read more…

Astounding new technology has arrived. Astounding old technology is fading away.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Production line for that world-changing plane could possibly close in a few years. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Ponder the remarkable contrast. We see phenomenal breakthroughs in space exploration almost weekly. On the other hand, the production line for the 747, the plane that opened up world travel to the masses, is slowing down and could be shuttered in a couple of years.

7/26 – Satellite Today – Sky and Space Global Details Vision for 200 Satellite LEO Network – The company, Sky and Space Global, plans to put 200 nanosatellites, or cubesats, into a low Earth orbit to provide a worldwide communications network. It is categorized as narrowband, providing only voice and messaging along with data forwarding.

Company estimates the cost for constellation of 200 satellites will be somewhere in the range of $120M up to $160M.

Read more…

The long, deadly, anti-human shadow of Malthusian thinking. A 200 year trail of evil.

In my reading and thinking over the years, I have learned anytime Malthusian ideas surface in a discussion those ideas will inevitably be wrong. More often than not, they are immoral as well.

After considering Matt Ridley’s discussion of The Long Shadow of Malthus, I now realize that Malthusian ideas are often evil as well.

This post is a review of Prof. Ridley’s published article. If you want a longer version that shows in more detail the suffering, misery, and needless deaths caused by followers of Malthus, check out chapter 11 of his book, The Evolution of Everything.

The core of this school of thought holds that the planet will not be able to sustain whatever growth in population is taking place at the moment. As a result, it is mandatory that us bright people (that’s you and me) limit the increasing population of those people. As the professor says:

It centres on the question of how to control human population growth and it answers that question by saying we must be cruel to be kind, that ends justify means. It is still around today; and it could not be more wrong.

Thomas Malthus wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798.

The consequences of his ideas were extended until they

…inadvertently gave birth to a series of heartless policies — the poor laws, the British government’s approach to famine in Ireland and India, social Darwinism, eugenics, the Holocaust, India’s forced sterilisations and China’s one-child policy.

Check out the article for the long shadow.

Here are a few shameful examples of the harm and suffering intentionally created by Malthusian disciples: Read more…

A few more signs of energy recovery

Where crude oil goes for refining so we can have the gas to drive our cars. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub

Where crude oil goes for refining so we can have the gas to drive our cars. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.

There are some signs that oil production is slowly recovering. Productivity improvements continue. Hints that the US has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia.

7/1 – The American Interest – Frackers Fix Their Fatal Flaw – A report from Reuters indicates several drillers have figured out how to ease the extreme drop in production early in a shale well’s life.

Read more…

More media outlets are catching on to the damage caused by wind power

Nice photo from Palm Springs, but unforunately this is not symbolic of the sun setting on destructive wind power. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before merging into Adobe Stock.

Nice photo from Palm Springs, but unfortunately this is not symbolic of the sun setting on destructive wind power. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before merging into Adobe Stock.

Check out the following articles showing two more media outlets finally catching on to the economic, environment, and wildlife damage caused by intermittent, expensive wind power.

7/19 – New York Times – How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course – Article explains how massive subsidies to renewable wind and solar plants along with brute force efforts to require utilities to buy the expensive electricity is pushing nuclear energy out of business.

The severe disruptions to the grid which are expected as a natural consequence of wind and solar power are now of concern to this author.

Here are just two of the massive distortions from the current push for artificially increasing reliance on renewables.

Read more…

More wind power coming on line in North Dakota

Above party did not speak at hearings which approved 159 wind turbines. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Above party did not speak at hearings which approved 159 wind turbines. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Several articles on the increasing number of slice-and-dicers in the state.

Also, ethanol lobbyists want the feds to force customers to buy more of their food-based power; this is cronyism in action. That customers don’t want to burn more corn in their cars and don’t want the higher prices and don’t want to risk damaging their engines is not a factor in the lobbying.

6/16 – Forum News Service at Bismark Tribune – N.D. utility regulators approve wind farm project – The state PSC approved the Brady Wind Energy Center I near Dickinson. There has been a lot of public opposition to the project for quite some time.

Read more…

Fun news on the open frontier of space exploration – 7-18

Recovery of Falcon 9 after CRS-9 launch. Photo courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr in public domain.

Recovery of Falcon 9 after CRS-9 launch. Photo courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr in public domain.

Yet more jaw dropping news from the open frontier of private space exploration.

  • SpaceX describes their efforts to put a colony on Mars.
  • Their fifth successful recovery of the first stage booster, a Falcon 9, tells me they are making progress on their overarching plan. Oh, and making the effort pay for itself along the way.

6/10 – Washington Post – Elon Musk provides new details on his “mind blowing” mission to Mars – Interview reveals a few more details on SpaceX’s plan for travel to Mars and building a colony there.

This is no longer in the pure fantasy realm. Things have moved so fast that it’s actually a possibility.

Read more…

North Dakota oil production recovers a bit in May 2016

oil production 08 to 5-16

Oil production in North Dakota dropped about 6.3% in April and recovered a little in May, increasing about 0.5%. Here is the average daily production for last three months:

  • 1,111,544 – March
  • 1,041,981 – April
  • 1,047,364 – May

Here are a few graphs that show the picture:

  • Average production by month statewide and Bakken only since 2008 is shown at the top of this post
  • Average production for the state by month since 1990
  • Crude prices by month, which shows a modest recovery
  • Value of monthly production, which show a faint whiff of a hint in the air that maybe production is coming back to life
  • Fracklog, which is the number of wells drilled to depth but awaiting fracking before production may begin

Read more…

This is what the lack of freedom looks like (Venezuela #11)

The cost of freedom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The cost of freedom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

(Cross-posted from my other blog, which was originally posted on 5/31/16.)

This freedom stuff is not just some abstract concept. The lack of economic, political, or religious freedom is ugly and painful.

If you want to see what the lack of economic and political freedom looks like, consider Venezuela today.

5/20 – Yahoo News – Venezuela, where a hamburger is officially $170 – That hamburger priced at 1,700 bolivars is US$170 at the official exchange rate. At black market exchange rates it is about a buck and a half.

Article reports that the middle class is sliding into  poverty. Keep in mind people are essentially paid at the official exchange rate.

Stores that sell anything other than food are closed. Article says nobody is buying anything other than food.

What is going on in Venezuela?

5/28 – New York Times – Venezuela Drifts Into New territory: Hunger, Blackouts and Government Shutdown – The New York Times notices the devastation afflicting the people of Venezuela.

Government offices are only open two half-days each week.

Article says protests at empty grocery stores are turning violent.

The bottler producing Coca-cola products cannot find sugar so it is halting production.

Other suffering this article doesn’t mention:

No toilet paper on the grocery store shelf and no international phone service.

The country’s largest beer producer can’t get enough foreign currency to buy hops so it has stopped making beer.

Water is rationed.

Electricity is only available sometimes and randomly at that.

Infants are dying in hospitals because of lack of medicine and respirators.

Back to the NYT article.

When water is on, people are gathering some in spare buckets for use later. The water (when available) is brownish and is making members of one quoted family sick. Many people say either lack of washing or the water itself is causing illness.

What is the cause of this suffering?

Read more…

Level of human suffering still increases in Venezuela – 10

The country with the more oil reserves that Saudi Arabia is going through the following suffering. Image courtesy of Adobe Stoc.

A country with more oil reserves that Saudi Arabia has death-causing shortages of food and medicine. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The humanitarian disaster in Venezuela keeps getting worse. Ponder for yourself what form of government created this crisis since no news reports will make the connection.

6/26 – Slate – How Much Worse Can Venezuela Get? / The country’s problems are profound and complex, with no easy answers in sight. – After the New York Times front page article noticed the humanitarian travesty, even Slate has an article by writers who noticed the suffering.

A few indicators of suffering these authors see? Food riots breaking out all over. Caracas is now the most violent city in the world. The government-owned and run oil company is seeing production drop because of neglect. Lack of medical supplies is causing unknown numbers of death. Dozens of political prisoners are in jail.

Article goes into more detail than usual as to the cause of the suffering. Corruption and general mismanagement are the most notable reasons cited.

The current turmoil is painted as conflict between the government and opposition in the legislature with both sides blaming the other as the cause of the problems. Most of the power is in the hands of the government with little likelihood of early resolution.

Read more…

My new hero: World War II pilot Lt. Louis Curdes, who shot down an American plane

(lousy photography by James Ulvog)


Lt. Louis Curdes, USAAF, was an ace in WWII. He scored victories against the Germans, Italians, and Japanese.

His plane flouted his victories with 7 German flags painted on the fuselage, along with 1 Italian flag, 1 Rising Sun, and 1 American flag.

Wait just a second, I hear you say. An American flag?

Yes, an American flag.

Oh, he received a Distinguished Flying Cross. A DFC for shooting down one of our planes.

Read more…

Timeline of Bakken oil production

ave daily production since 1990

For long-term archive purposes, here is a timeframe for the Bakken boom.

6/28 – The Million Dollar Way – The Bakken Is In Its Manufacturing Stage – Bruce Oksol provides a useful long-term perspective on how Bakken production has developed:

  • 2000: the Bakken boom begins in Montana
  • 2007: the Bakken boom begins in North Dakota
  • 2012: the Bakken hits its stride
  • early 2014: the Bakken setting new records, almost every month
  • late 2014: the Saudi Surge
  • 2015: the Bakken re-trenches
  • 1Q16 taxable sales 50% greater than 1Q10
  • mid-2016: the Bakken bottoms out — at least that is what the tea leaves suggest

For more perspective, here is the average daily production for each of the above years. I calculated the following from data pulled from the state website: Read more…

The overwhelming change you feel today is going to increase. Engage the change.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before they closed their doors.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com before they closed their doors.

The massive volumes of change you see surrounding you everywhere you look isn’t going to stop. In fact the pace of change is going to increase.

Each of us have a choice. Either figure out how to cope with and embrace the change or ignore it.

The cost of ignoring massive change is that you and your organization will get left behind. That doesn’t just mean you will be a laggard as you continue doing next month what you did last year. Instead that means your organization will radically shrink and before you know it, will disappear.

The downsides are serious. There is an upside and it is exciting.

Four articles I’ve seen lately focus the mind. While these articles are written in either the accounting or church context, they also fully apply in the church and accounting context. They also apply to every individual and organization.

This article will be posted across all my blogs because it applies to all of them.

7/7 – Bill Sheridan at LinkedIn – Embrace change or resist it: Only one option is viable.

The odds are really high that tax preparation will be completely automated in the next two decades. Estimated odds are almost as high that both accounting and auditing will be fully automated.

Consider my business and my core tasks of auditing charities. There is a real possibility those types of audits could be heavily automated in 10 or 15 or 20 years. I am not old enough to bank on retiring before that massive change starts eating away the entire audit profession.

Automation will take over an increasing number of tasks. The world of tax, accounting, and audit will be affected. Mr. Sheridan explains the shelf life of education and experience we have is shrinking.

As the Maryland Association of CPAs routinely points out our learning needs to be greater than the rate of change; L>C is their formula.

Read more…

Last 2 zero-emission power plants in California will be shut down.

Natural gas turbine power plant. Replacement power source for 75% of the power from Diablo Canyon nuclear plants. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Natural gas turbine power plant. Replacement power source for 75% of the electricity from Diablo Canyon nuclear plants. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

PG&E agrees to close Diablo Canyon in 2025. San Luis Obispo Tribune reports on 6/21 that PG&E decided not to apply for another 20 year license and will close the two nuclear reactors in 2025.

The massive loss of electricity generation capacity will be replaced by intermittent renewables, both solar and wind. At least that is the company line being feed to the public.

These are the last nuclear power plants in California after San Onofre closed in 2012.

The Diablo Canyon facility provides 9% of the power that is generated in the state. One out of every ten watts.

Here is what I learned by stretching my brain while browsing Wikipedia:

Read more…

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