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.

Technology changes overtake the iconic Boeing 747

Boeing 747” by allenthepostman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

United will make a big deal of its final flight of a 747 on November 7 with retro uniforms for flight attendants, a stylized ‘70s menu, and entertainment fitting the era.  Forbes reports on  9/19/17:  The Boeing 747 Came In With a Bang And Now It Will Go Out With One.

Delta’s final international flight of a 747 was on September 7. Their final two domestic flights of the 747 were for evacuation of people in advance of Hurricane Irma.

Article describes the launch of the 747:

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More news on the emerging state-legal-federal-illegal marijuana industry.

8/30/17 – Wall Street Journal- Buzz Kill for Pot Farmers: Lower Prices – Estimates are the increasingly legal cannabis business has industry wide revenue of somewhere around $6B of sales a year compared to the tobacco industry with $119B annual sales.

According to companies who track such things, the prices for legal marijuana have been dropping.

A retail company in Seattle offers the pricing of one specific brand as an indicator. It is currently going for $10 a gram now compared to $15 a gram two years ago (9/15), which is a one-third drop.

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The story on Silk Road, an on-line drug bazaar, shows the power of rationalization and self-deception

Cover of “American Kingpin” from Amazon. Used under fair use.

The sad tale of Ross Ulbricht and his on-line drug bazaar called Silk Road is a good study of the outer limits of how far rationalization can carry a person.

It is also a frightening illustration of Jeremiah 17:9. From the New International Version, ponder:

The heart is deceitful above all thing and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Considering the tale of Silk Road is useful for accountants wanting to learn about the outer fringe of the internet and he investigative power of the federal government, believers who would like an illustration of the frightening level of deceit that lives in the human heart, and anyone else wanting to learn more about the dark worlds that normal people will never see.

My posts are gathered into two collections:

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More explanations of virtual currencies and possible applications

bitcoin” by komersreal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Several recent articles provide more background on Bitcoin and other blockchain tools. For your daily brain stretching:

  • Blockchain as a possible tool for fast and cheap international payments
  • China is working to restrict blockchain transactions
  • Central banks ponder issuing of their own virtual currencies
  • Tax status of blockchain transactions and the IRS is out fishing for tax evaders
  • Description of blockchain as being the internet of money, comparable to how the internet moves and stores information

8/28/17 – Journal of Accountancy – Blockchain opens new era for cross-border payments – Moving money from one country to another is time-consuming and costly. There are fees at both ends. It takes several days for the money to arrive. An error in one digit of the routing or account information means the transfer will go astray and take more time and money to locate.

Blockchain offers the opportunity to make international transfers near immediate and at a fraction of the cost.

For an illustration, picture a company paying international vendors. Or an international worker sending part of his paycheck back to his parents in his home country. Or a mission organization moving funds to its many field offices.

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Video shows why rocket science is difficult. More fun news on the wide open frontier of space.

How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster – Elon Musk posted a video of failed launches. You might call this a blooper reel. I prefer to call it:

This is why rocket science is called rocket science.

Enjoy the incidents of “rapid unscheduled disassembly”:

 

(Link: youtube=https://youtu.be/bvim4rsNHkQ00)

As you chuckle at the failed recoveries, keep in mind SpaceX has recovered 16 boosters, reused 2 of them, and has recovered 2 Dragon capsules, having already reused 1.

That, is rocket science.

9/22/17 – Behind the Black – Soyuz launches Russian GPS satellite – In the fun-to-watch race for most launches in 2017, Russia now has a slight lead over SpaceX.

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France has armed its MQ-9 Reapers. Background on MQ-9 drone.

An MQ-9 Reaper, armed with GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided munitions and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, piloted by Col. Lex Turner flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt) (Interpretive text accompanies the official USAF photo.)

Some background on the MQ-9 Reaper, an upgrade to the MQ-1 Predator. Also, France has armed the Reapers it has deployed in Africa.

9/20/17 – Strategy Page – Counter-Terrorism: Up Close and Constantly – France has 6 U.S. made MQ-9 Reapers in its inventory. Five of them are Niger, used for counterterrorism operations in surrounding countries. The remaining one is in France, used for training. Six more are on order.

To improve capabilities, France started loading the MQ-9s with Hellfire missiles. Their Tiger helicopter gunships already use that missile, so they were in stock and the French munitions maintainers already knew how to load and handle them.

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Venezuela continues to spiral downward

Venezuelan flag. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

News out of Venezuela keeps getting worse.

8/18/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s Former Attorney General Flees to Columbia – The constituent assembly removed the Attorney General earlier in the month and last week took over all legislative powers from the Congress. When the government leveled corruption accusations against the now-deposed Attorney General, she and her husband fled for their lives to Columbia.

As an indicator of why she had to get-outta’-Dodge is that the secret police raided her home last week and the government has now banned 60 other prosecutors from leaving the country.

8/26/17 – Hot air – Girls As Young As 12 Turned To Prostitution To Survive Venezuela’s Socialist NightmareRead more…

This is what creative destruction looks like: disruption in the taxi, TV, and retail industries.

If you wish to become obsolete or gain hands-on experience with bankruptcy laws, the above strategy will work well. Cartoon is provided courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Companies and industries that can’t keep up with changes in technology or demographics or the internet are getting hit hard.

A few more hits to the old way of doing things:

  • collapsing price for taxi medallions
  • tricks to hide low TV audiences; gaming the ratings
  • more closures of Sears stores
  • Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy protection

The wide use of Uber and Lyft has affected the taxi industry. As one measure of the technological disruption, consider the price of a taxi medallion in New York. One cannot operate a taxi there without a medallion.

There is apparently a thriving business, or at least there used to be a thriving business, in buying a medallion and then renting it out to someone who wanted to drive a taxi.

The market for medallions has collapsed. Consider the following graph by Mark Perry, described in a tweet on 7/6/17.

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Updates from Bakken – 1M bopd is new normal; number and size of fracking crews

Natural gas processing plant at Tioga, ND. Photo by James Ulvog.

Interesting articles of late:

  • 1M bopd is ‘new normal’ for North Dakota.
  • Number of fracking crews in North Dakota and typical staffing size for a crew.
  • Cleanup of large leak near Tioga is nearing completion, with planting possible in the spring.
  • Wells fracked early in the boom might be re-fracked for large increase in total production.

9/18/17 – Williston Herald – Million barrels a day is the “new normal” for North Dakota – Graph of production of the last 12 months shows from 29 to 32 million barrels a month, which is around 1 million a day.

In a webinar, Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources said with oil prices, rig count, and number of fracked crews at the current stable level, the production will remain at 1 million a day. He calls it a “soft landing”.

He said production is somewhere in the range of 5% or 6% above the level built into the state revenue forecast. Prices are about 9% below what is built into the budget.

He indicated the consensus is that if the price of West Texas Intermediate goes above $50 there will be increased activity in drilling and completion.

Article provides insight on hydraulic fracturing. There are currently enough crews in place to keep up with the wells drilled by the current count of 56 rigs. Mr. Helms thinks if prices are in the $50-$60 range there will be six more fracking crews put in the field to supplement the 25 currently in place. That will reduce the fracklog.

A fracking crew has somewhere between 45 and 65 staff.

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Ripple effects of marijuana legalization in California

Photo by James Ulvog.

I have seen two amusing ripple effects of soon-to-be-legal recreational use of marijuana in California.

The first impact is visible in hotels. I am sure you have seen the disclosures at hotels that if you smoke in a no smoking room you will be hit with a large cleaning fee charged to your credit card.

I recently stayed at a hotel which had the typical comment of a $250 smoke cleaning fee on the check-in form, which I had to initial.

In the room, there is a sign in the bathroom, which you can see above. Just in case you weren’t aware that smoking marijuana constitutes smoking, the sign reminds you that if you smoke either tobacco or marijuana there will be a $250 cleaning fee.

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Amazing news in the wide open frontier of space exploration

Falcon 9 booster a fraction of second before successful recovery. Now *that* is rocket science. A few minutes earlier it was 120+ miles up in the air moving away from the recovery site.  “Orbital Test Vehicle 5 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

Lots of fun articles in the last two months describing the wide open frontier of space exploration.

  • Ghana puts their first sat into orbit. Yes, Ghana. Very cool.
  • In the GPS world, Japan gets another sat in orbit and an Indian launch fails.
  • SpaceX may have more launches this year than Russia and one commentator thinks SpaceX will be dominant in the launch market for decades to come

7/8/17 – Behind the Black – Ghana launches its first satellite and 223 Live News, Ghana’s first Space Satellite enters Orbit – A cubsate built by university students in the western Africa country was launched from the ISS. The small satellite will take pictures of the country in low- and high-resolution. It will also be able to broadcast the national anthem and other music during national events.

Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to get a satellite in space.

The sat went to the ISS on June 10 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.

How cool!

7/24- Popular Mechanics – Why the First True Spaceliner Will Change Everything – The beautiful DC-3 reduced the time for coast-to-coast travel.

Before the DC-3, it took 25 hours and 15 stops for fuel and repairs to cross the country. With the DC-3, there were only 3 stops for fuel.

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Drop in cross-country travel time using a DC-3

Another post has a comment on how much the DC-3 shrank travel time to cross the country. Here is a description of how much that beautiful bird cut the time:

7/24- Popular Mechanics – Why the First True Spaceliner Will Change Everything – The beautiful DC-3 reduced the time for coast-to-coast travel.

Before the DC-3, it took 25 hours and 15 stops for fuel and repairs to cross the country. With the DC-3, there were only 3 stops for fuel.

(A video of DC-3s in a 2013 flyby follows, if you are interested.)

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More on the capabilities of firefighting aircraft

Found a great resource from CAL FIRE, Firefighting Aircraft Recognition Guide, which provides a photo and background of the fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft in the Cal Fire inventory.

Some of the fun highlights, along with a few more photos:

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Final thoughts on the tale of Silk Road. Part 9.

Cover of “American Kingpin” from Amazon. Used under fair use.

This is the 9th and final part of a discussion of Silk Road, as discussed in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. For the longer story, you may enjoy reading parts one, two, three, four, five, sixseven, and eight.

Other thoughts on the book

If you have previously been following the Silk Road story, you will enjoy the book. It reads like a good detective novel, except it is all true.

The book describes the mutual low opinion held of other federal agencies by the staff of most of the federal agencies that had a part in the investigation. This is not the first time I’ve read of those attitudes or heard of poor cooperation across agencies.

Lack of technical discussion

A couple of the reviews at Amazon indicate there is minimal technical detail in the book. That is absolutely the case.

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The Silk Road perps. Where are they now? Part 8.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This is part 8 of a discussion of Silk Road, as described in American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, written by Nick Bilton. To learn how these three individuals earned an extended stay in federal housing, you may enjoy reading parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven.

Current status:

In good ol’ Dragnet style, where are bad guys now?

Here is the info from the federal Bureau of Prisons website:

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