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.

Update on military drones

MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during a local training mission June 9, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Paul Ridgeway)

A few recent articles on military drones: New US variations in use, shootdown of military drones in combat zones, anti-drone technology, and increasing exports of Chinese drones.

My observation: the military drone arms race is on.

7/2/17 – UPI – New Reaper drone variant performs first combat mission – The first in a new series of MQ-9 Reaper drones flew its first combat mission. Referred to as the Block 5, the drone dropped a precision bomb (GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions) and fired two missiles (AM-114 Hellfire).

Oddly, the article says targets were ISIS positions but does not identify the country where the strike took place.

USAF Staff Sgt. aircraft armament systems specialist inspects an MQ-9 Reaper at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan Aug. 18, 2014. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained here.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Released)

6/8/17 – Wall Street Journal – American Pilot Shoots Down Armed Drone in Syria – A drone, described as Predator-style, was shot down by a U.S. pilot after the drone fired on a patrol by forces the US supports.

Read more…

Increased interest in “The Overnighters” documentary – part 1 of 3

Flaring of natural gas. A common site in 2012 and 2013, but is rare today. Photo by James Ulvog.

There has been a lot more interest in my posts on “The Overnighters” documentary recently. In particular, my 7/2/15 discussion of Where are they now? Follow up on people you saw in The Overnighters documentary has been getting a lot of page views. It has been running between 100 and 130 views a month for the last six months, with a peak of 217 views in January. Yesterday, 7/16/17, there were 62 views.

While those counts of page views are trivially small for the internet world, that’s a lot of attention to one of my posts, especially one that is two years old.

Did some searches online and cannot find what in particular is driving that growing interest. Did find a few things that I wanted to mention.

“Overnighters” streaming on Netflix in July and

running on lots of PBS stations

Read more…

Average daily oil production in North Dakota down 0.98% in May 2017

Oil production in the state dropped about 1% in May, falling from average of 1,050,476 bopd in April (final) to 1,040,131 bopd in May (preliminary) That is a drop of 10,345 bopd for the month.

Million Dollar Way highlights the NDIC says a shortage of experience workers is slowing down completions.

Article also points out it will take another month to see what impact DAPL will having on the amount of oil shipped by rail. This is a big deal on the revenue realized by producers.

The spread between West Texas Intermediate and what Bakken producers get is about $11 a barrel. That is the cost of transport. The spread is expected to be $6 or $7 for oil shipped through DAPL.

Here are a few graphs to tell the production story:

Average production for state and Bakken only:

Value of monthly production, which seems to have stabilized in the last six months or so:

Read more…

Mali and Central Africa Republic update – 7/1

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Here are a few articles on the ongoing turmoil in Mali. Haven’t noticed much, but perhaps that is because I haven’t been watching closely.

3/3/17 – France 24 – Three jihadi groups active in Mali announce merger – The three groups that have merged include:

  • Ansar Dine
  • Al-Murabitoun
  • Macina Brigades

The new name will be Group to Support Islam and Muslims.

Read more…

More on the downside of unreliable wind power: paying for decommissioning costs

I count 64 turbine towers in that view. Photo by James Ulvog, somewhere southwest of Williston, en route to Denver.

There will be major costs involved in decommissioning wind turbines. Who will pay?

3/8/17 – Stop These Things – Farmers “Hosting” Wind Turbines Faces Massive Clean Up Bills & Other Legal Liability – Legislation is under consideration which would force wind power companies to set aside money to decommission the turbines. At the moment the corporate shells holding the producing assets have nothing set aside. Without some requirement for accumulating reserves, neither the holding company nor the entity’s parents will have any responsibility to clean up the site. There will be no recourse by landowners or regulators to force the then-empty shells to clean up the sites.  That will leave the landowner or the local government or the national government holding the bill for decommissioning.

Disposing of a wind turbine means finding some way to get rid of the toxic blades, the generator containing large amounts of rare earth metals, and 1000 metric tons of buried concrete.

Situation is similarly bad in Australia. Read more…

Still more amazing news from the open frontier of space: several successes and one, um, learning opportunity.

Intelsat 35e Mission” by SpaceX is in public domain – CC0 1.0

It’s been a good month for SpaceX. Three launches and one recovery of an already recycled Dragon capsule. China has demonstrated that rocket science is rocket science, meaning launches don’t always work.

7/3/17 – Space.com – Back Again…Again: SpaceX’s Dragon Makes Historic 2nd Splashdown A Dragon capsule that had previously been recovered from a trip to the International Space Station has just returned from the ISS a second time and successfully landed in the Pacific Ocean.

This is the first successful reuse of a Dragon capsule.

 

SpaceX’s cameras can track the Falcon 9 until after start of 2nd stage. Fantastic live feed. “Intelsat 35e Mission” by SpaceX is in public domain – CC0 1.0

7/5/17 – Space.com – Three Launches in 12 Days! SpaceX Lofts Heavy Communications Satellite

Read more…

Fire destroys Hedderich’s, a combination museum and antique store in Williston, N.D.

Photo by David Ulvog. Used with permission.

In a tragic loss to the beautiful downtown area of Williston, the approximately 120 year old Hedderich’s building was gutted by fire on July 10.

The building had been used as a department store until 1988 but in recent decades was a combination museum and antique store. The current building was constructed in 1918 (I’m not sure how that gets the age to about 120).

Photo by David Ulvog. Used with permission.

 

Visible condition morning after the fire

Read more…

More on the downside of unreliable solar power: Paying to get rid of excess electricity.

Photo by James Ulvog.

There is so much excess electricity from solar power that sometimes California has to pay utilities in other states to take it. Also, what will we do with all those panels when they wear out?

6/22/17 – Los Angeles Times – California invested heavily in solar power. Now there is so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it – There are two non-negotiable physical laws that undercut the value of solar power.

First, electricity must be used the instant it is generated. Second, solar power is generated when the sun is bright not necessarily when the electricity is needed.

Some days, there is so much solar power in California that “we” have to pay utilities in Arizona to take the electricity in order to keep from overloading the grid in California.

Read more…

Nevada joins the list of states allowing sales of recreational marijuana with heavy taxes on sales – #29

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Haven’t had an update on regulatory oversight of the recreational marijuana market in a while. With Nevada now allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, it is time to check out the regulatory world.

As readers of this blog already know, I am watching developments in Colorado and Oregon for the newly state-legal recreational use of marijuana. Just as a reminder, my interest is not in marijuana. My curiosity is focused on how much trouble a burdensome and expensive regulatory structure will create for a newly legalized industry.

My hypothesis is the heavy-handed regulations will be crushing and severely restrain a new industry.

11/29/16 – Brew Bound – Beer Volumes Declining in Markets Where Recreational Cannibas is Legal – Consumption of domestic beer is declining in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. The business word used is that beer is ‘underperforming’, meaning sales are lower than would otherwise be expected.

Article says the 18-25 demographic is consuming more recreational marijuana and less domestic beer.

Read more…

The massive economic and environmental impact of fracking.

Wells being drilled by that rig have long since gone into operation and contributed their share to increased US production.

The impact of fracking is massive. Large increases in production of natural gas and crude oil has created a long list of favorable economic and environment impacts.

7/6/17 – Victor Davis Hanson at National Review – The Fracking Industry Deserves Our Gratitude – Prof. Hanson provides a fast survey of how much fracking has improved the American economy. Fracking is the combination of horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing.

The impact of fracking is staggering.

Ten years ago eeeeeeverybody knew for an absolute certainty that Peak Oil was here and we were about to run out of oil. The Secretary of Energy was wishfully musing that gasoline would rise from $4 to $10 a gallon.

In the last five years, gasoline prices are down about $1.50 a gallon, surge in natural gas production displaced coal consumption which has reduced our CO2 output by 12% in the last decade (surpassing the EU in cuts), and reduced our oil imports by five million barrels a day.

Let me rephrase that part about CO2…

Read more…

Happy Birthday America!

Silhouette of charging Union soldier. “Happy Birthday America” by Steve Corey is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Two hundred forty-one years ago today marked the start of this wonderful, fantastic, heaven-blessed, messy, delightful, powerful, flawed, and glorious experiment called the United States of America which has delivered unimaginable levels of freedom to hundreds of millions of people here in the US of A and contributed massively to the freedom of hundreds and hundreds of millions more around the world.

Happy birthday America!

If you want a really short description of this day, consider a photo of a sign on a store’s door I saw while browsing the ‘net:

Closed on July 4

in observance of

Brexit 1776

If you are looking for a brief description of the string of events which led to signing the Declaration of Independence and the follow-on events leading to full independence, Read more…

More articles on the downside of intermittent power

The heat on that rooftop during a hot day degrades performance.   “Solar Panel” by Marufish is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A few articles over the last month on the substantial problems from trying to rely on intermittent power sources.

  • Heavy use of wind and solar in Germany is also destabilizing the grid in Poland and Czech Republic
  • New words to use when discussing intermittent energy:  energy from weather; wind plants (not farms); corporate welfare recipients
  • Effective capacity from energy sources in US (actual output compared to theoretical nameplate rating):  wind 13%, solar 38%, natural gas 87%
  • Solar panels lose output when it is really hot on the roof

2/16/17 – Wall Street Journal – In Central Europe, Germany’s Renewable Revolution Causes Friction / The country’s surplus power, a byproduct of its shift to green energy, is spilling over into Poland and Czech Republic, straining their electrical grids – Germany’s grand plan of Energiewende (meaning energy revolution) involves generating massive amounts of unreliable and unpredictable power from solar and wind sources in the northern part of the country for use in the industry intensive southern region. An additional problem (beyond massive surge and drops in production) is the country does not have enough power lines to transmit the electricity from the north to the south. As a result the power is transferred into Poland and Czech Republic and then in turn transmitted to southern Germany. Essentially the electricity is rerouted a couple hundred miles east before it is routed 400 or 500 miles south.

The complication is that on those days with lots of sunlight and those hours when there happens to strong wind (but not too much) the Polish and Czech energy markets are overwhelmed with surplus energy.

Read more…

If it seems like the economy hasn’t quite recovered in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, it isn’t just your imagination

What economic growth feels like in the Inland Empire. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you are living in California more than, oh, say 15 miles from the ocean, you likely wonder why the statistics saying the economy is going fantabulously well don’t seem to fit with what you see while looking around or what you hear after talking to people.

Two articles explaining why you might be feeling that disconnect, why something just seems off.

First, business activity including employment in the Inland Empire area of Southern California is only now, in early 2017, returning to the level when the recession started.

Second, it isn’t just your imagination that lots and lots of younger people are still living at home when it seems like they should be out on their own. We are talking people who have graduated and are employed.

5/25/17 – Daily Bulletin – Inland business is back to pre-recession peaks – with one big exception.

Read more…

Lots of amazing space news from India and OneWeb. Oh, 2 launches by SpaceX in three days.

Falcon 9 on Iridium 2 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

The news from space exploration is constantly amazing.

  • India is making progress in their exploration efforts, with both their GSLV and PSLV rockets.
  • SpaceX has successful launches on 6/23 and 6/25

6/5/17 – Behind the Black – India successfully launches it first GSLV Mark 3 rocket and Space.com – India Just Launched Its Heaviest & Most Powerful Rocket Yet – The new Mark 3 of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted a 6,913 pound satellite into geosync orbit. Lift capacity is 8,818 lbs. Article says that is double the capacity of the Mark 2.

Nice video of the launch embedded in the Space.com article. Cool to see the solid rocket boosters fall away and watch the sat separate.

Falcon 9 on Iridium 2 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

5/19/17 – Wall Street Journal – Who’s in Charge of Outer Space? – The immediate answer is a document called the Outer Space Treaty. It addresses how things are done outside the atmosphere. That document is 50 years old and did not anticipate private players in outer space. Read more…

Bleak outlook for Venezuela

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

With the supreme court compromised, the president outmaneuvering the congress, all members of the military under the watchful eye of Cuban zampolits (political officers), and the most loyal members of the military allowed to enjoy the spoils, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for either a peaceful solution or near-term end to the massive, intentionally caused humanitarian suffering in Venezuela.

Here are two short comments on the escalating violence and a long discussion of a feature article on the collapse of democracy and the economy.

6/16/17 – AFP at Yahoo News – Venezuela mobs kick, burn thieves in lynching epidemic – What happens when governments take actions that prevent the economy from working and as a result people are starving? Thieves start robbing people of food at gunpoint (money isn’t worth stealing).

What happens when robberies get out control because there is so much disruption and the government can’t do anything to maintain peace and there is widespread suffering? Mobs start lynching robbers.

There were 20 reported mob driven lynchings in 2015, 126 in 2016, and 60 in the first five months of this year.

In one attack on an armed robber, the police were able to pull the near-unconscious man into a police car as the mob cheered having beaten him. Another reporter filmed a robber being set on fire.

Read more…

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