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 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: 

Read more…

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:

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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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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…

14 wells on one site southwest of Williston, the Atlanta wells – part 2 of 2

14 well pad next to Missouri River with Williston in distance. Photo by James Ulvog.

14 well pad next to Missouri River with Williston in distance, looking northeast. To find the pad, look for the light horizontal patch to the left of the bridge after the road crosses the left side of the river. Photo by James Ulvog.

Previous post described a well pad southwest of Williston that holds 14 working wells. These are referred to as the Atlanta wells.

I got some great pictures of the site from the air and from the ground on my recent trip to Williston.  Million Dollar Way just updated the production information for the 14 wells. So, decided to bring all that info together.

If you want to find this mega-producer, the address is 4750 141st Ave. NW, Williston. If you want to drive there, be advised the road off the 85 shown on Google maps isn’t there anymore. You will need to take a nearby side street. Coordinates are 48.109623, -103.729930 if you want to look them up on Google maps.  The pad is north of the Missouri River and west of the US 85 bridge over the river. 

Statistical data

The Million Dollar Way has been following these wells for several years. Check out this post for background and production data:

Here is some statistical data for the wells.

Read more…

14 wells on one site southwest of Williston, the Atlanta wells – part 1 of 2

14 wells on one pad, southwest of Williston. Photo by James Ulvog.

14 wells on one pad, southwest of Williston. Photo by James Ulvog.

There is one site southwest of Williston that holds 14 working wells. They are referred to as the Atlanta wells. Check out the photo above and following.

If you want to find these things, the address is 4750 141st Ave. NW, Williston. Coordinates are 48.109623, -103.729930 if you want to look them up on Google maps. It is immediately to the north of the Missouri River close to the bridge on U.S. 85 crossing the river. 

On my trip to Williston over Thanksgiving 2016 I was able to take some aerial pictures since I flew in on United flight from Denver, meaning we flew in to Williston from the south. I was also able to drive out to the site and take pictures from a public road immediately north of the site.

Six wells on east side of pad. Photo by James Ulvog.

Six wells on east side of pad. Photo by James Ulvog.

Read more…

Employment activity picking up in Bakken

'Spose that more of those things are why employment is picking up in North Dakota? Photo by James Ulvog.

‘Spose that more of those things getting to work is why employment is picking up in North Dakota? Photo by James Ulvog.

A few indications appear that employment may be trending up in Williston and the surrounding area. Also, the direction of people moving into and out of the state finally shifted to net out-migration in 2016.

12/18 – The Million Dollar Way – Job Shortage Looming in The Bakken – Pointer to following article describing an uptick in hiring for oil jobs in Williston. Biggest specific increase is for fracking crews, which need around 45 or 65 people for each crew.

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If you like having gas for your car, food in the stores, and turning lights on after dark, here’s good news: Outlook for energy looking brighter.

Gonna' be seeing more of those in North Dakota soon. Photo by James Ulvog.

Gonna’ be seeing more of those in North Dakota soon. Photo by James Ulvog.

Outlook for energy production in the US is getting better and better. Might want to get out your sunglasses.

  • Low oil prices have spurred innovation amongst US drillers; file this under unintended consequences for OPEC.
  • Breakeven prices in US shale approaching that of OPEC producers; ponder that the breakeven price for Saudi Aramco is not the same as breakeven price for the Saudi government.
  • Overview of news in 2016 for oil & gas; good news for companies that survived the year.

12/2 – Tyler Morning Telegraph – Saudis awakened a sleeping giant when they declared war on fracking – Editorial says the Saudis made a serious mistake waking up the slumbering giant of fracking land. The artificially high prices allowed the frackers to get started. The artificially low prices forced them to innovate, cut costs, and start producing at breakeven points competitive to the OPEC giants. Not a good move.

Wouldn’t it be grand if that paragraph was the four-sentence history of fracking?

Production costs are half what they were two years ago.

Read more…

Surprise! Ancient humans were violent.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

There seems to be a vague consensus in our society that ancient peoples were peaceful and contented in their gathering and hunting.  Only in recent times have humans become greedy, war-like, and violent.

Some recent articles have challenged that assumption. That these reports are noteworthy demonstrates the bias that exists claiming only in relatively recent times have we humans become mean and hateful.

Read more…

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