Saturday, June 30, 2007

Yep. Buffalos Live On

L2si: It'a All in the Comeback:
"Speaking of bison, I should also point out that -- dire predictions aside -- I can get in my car and drive 20 minutes to Buffalo Overlook, which provides nice view into a valley where one of Colorado's many herds of these magnificent animals live."
True story.

Adaptation: Copacabana closes its doors

I know that this is a strange thing to blog about, but I do it anyway. :
"'What are you going to do?' said John Juliano, taking a break from setting up shop on the club's penultimate evening. 'Like anything else in life, you're born and you die. We'll try to find another spot by the fall.'"
Life is increasingly about adapting to change. Nothing stays the same like it has in the past. Things change. Situation change. Faster than ever before. If you cannot adapt, improvise and overcome, you will be left behind. (Yes, I know I quoted a Marine motto, but it is so applicable to life on planet earth, that I use it with pride.) There are going to be waves of change. Roll with it or be washed up on the shore.

Pension Plan wins telecom bid

Does this Canadian pension plan story strike anyone as strange?
"BCE Inc., Canada's largest telecommunications company, said Saturday it has reached an agreement to be bought by a group led by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan for C$51.7 billion (US$48.5 billion), in the largest takeover in Canadian history.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board in cooperation with U.S.-based Providence Equity Partners and Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC won out over several other bidders in a cash deal that will take the company private, BCE said in a statement.

'It is gratifying to see that BCE's Board of Directors shares our vision for this initiative, and we are honored to lead the largest buyout transaction in Canadian corporate history,' Jim Leech, senior vice-president of Teachers' Private Capital, the investment wing of the pension plan, said in the statement."
Maybe it is just me.

Decoupling or CoFactors?

I've come to expect more from Chronicle reporter Brett Clanton. And yet, he disappoints in this latest piece on gas prices:
"Yet oil analyst Tom Kloza argued this week that gas prices 'decoupled' from crude this spring and summer as separate factors began to impact the price of each. His response to $70 oil?

'Big deal. It does not mean that you will be paying more at the pump this summer,' he said."
Why can't the readers handle the fact that gas prices are more complex than the costs it takes to produce the product they desire so much? I imagine it is the lack of basic economic knowledge by the public that led to these results when asked questioned on the subject:

At a time when millions of Americans are focusing on energy issues and policies, a new survey finds that most U.S. adults have a fundamental lack of knowledge regarding energy demand and supplies and the role of America's oil and natural gas companies. In fact, when presented with 20 multiple choice questions, on average more than 25 percent of respondents said they were "not sure," and in many cases people chose the response that is farthest from the correct answer.

Test your Energy IQ here with the answers here.
I got 80% right and the incorrect answers were in close proximity to the correct ones.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Media and Ethics

A "Mistake". Um yeah.
ST. PAUL, MINN. Former St. Paul Pioneer Press publisher Par Ridder has acknowledged taking confidential information from his old employer to his new job as publisher of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

In videotaped testimony played Monday in Ramsey County District Court, Ridder acknowledged copying confidential financial documents from his Pioneer Press computer onto a portable computer drive and taking them to the Star Tribune.
I would never hire nor work with such a guy. If someone came to my company with confidential information on a competitor, I would walk him to HR and have him disciplined and possibly fired. And this was done at the highest reaches of the newspaper's management. Unbelievable.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Green prince leaves a giant CO2

Poor Prince Charles, first forced to cancel a vacation due to being green-mailed, and now being held accountable for his carbon footprint:
"THE Prince of Wales has been found wanting in his efforts to save the world from global warming. Charles and his royal household have generated more than 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide in the past year, according to an independent audit.

The prince will this week announce that he and his household are carbon neutral – but campaigners claim this is “greenwash” because, instead of cutting his emissions, he is simply paying to offset them."
That is the problem with claiming to be green. People are seeing through the carbon offsetting game. They expect you to reduce your carbon emissions. Imagine that! Expecting people to have the deed follow the words.

Scientist Implicates Worms in Global Warming

Will there be a trial?
Jim Frederickson, the research director at the Composting Association has called for data on worms and composting to be re-examined after a German study found that worms produce greenhouse gases 290 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Worms are being used commercially to compost organic material and is in preference to putting it into the landfill. The German government wants 45% of all waste to be composted by 2015.

"Everybody... thinks they can do no harm but they contribute to global warming. People are looking into alternative waste treatments but we have to make sure that we are not jumping from the frying pan into the fire," said Frederickson.
Fried worms. Nice.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hurricane Gas Strategy

This is an example of catastrophe Supply Chain planning. The type that industry is much better at than governments. I see no reason that they cannot work together to get a common-sense approach:
"Gas-station inventories will be raised at least 15 percent five days before storm winds hit Texas and then quickly shifted to evacuation routes two days later."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sex Toy = Green Propaganda

The Greenie propaganda machine cannot even leave sex toys alone:
"Most vibrators, dildos and “love dolls,” for instance — especially the soft, pliable “jelly” type — use some form of plastic. In an effort to make the materials softer and more lifelike, PVC plastics suppliers incorporate one or more members of a family of compounds called phthalates (FAY-lates). To hear some environmentalists tell it, using a vibrator that includes phthalates is akin to bathing in DDT."
Sorry. I have to call call bullshit on that one. The evidence that Phthalates (pronounced thal-eights not FAY-lates you idiot) introduce health risks is very weak to non existent. They only face scrutiny under the theory that it is better to "ban first and gather evidence later." It is fear-based living. Thanks, but no thanks.

Sidewalk Art

OK. This is just plain cool. I am a left brained guy who would never even think of such a thing. I am glad their are right brained guys to create visual masterpieces.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ask Vaclav Klaus About Global Warming

The Financial Times has a fascinating question and answer session with Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic. He fields questions on his climate change skepticism.
Mr. Klaus, I believe, has asked the wrong question, and in doing so, is in danger of under-cutting his main point, which is the danger to personal freedom of a top-down, single-government approach to managing the problem of global warming. Instead of trying to ask, is global warming a REAL problem?, Mr Klaus should ask - and then provide his answer - the question: Assuming global warming is a REAL, global issue, how can we manage this problem on a global scale while also expanding personal freedom and economic welfare? I would be very interested in hearing his response to this question.
Robert Bruegel, Denver, Colorado

Vaclav Klaus: I ask myself several questions. Let’s put them in the proper sequence:

• Is global warming a reality?

• If it is a reality, is it man-made?

• If it is a reality, is it a problem? Will the people in the world, and now I have to say “globally”, better-off or worse-off due to small increases of global temperature?

• If it is a reality, and if it is a problem, can men prevent it or stop it? Can any reasonable cost-benefit analysis justify anything – within the range of current proposals – to be done just now?

Surprisingly, we can say yes – with some degree of probability – only to the first question. To the remaining three my answer is no. And I am not alone in saying that. We are, however, still more or less the silent or silenced majority.

He even makes the link to central planning and socialism.
Years ago I heard people talking about how environmentalism would be used as the lever to usher in global (socialistic) government, because the environment affects everyone. Do you think this is what we are now seeing with the climate issue?
Mark, Lake Charles, US

Vaclav Klaus: Environmentalism is indeed a vehicle for bringing us socialist government at the global level. Again, my life in communism makes me oversensitive in this respect. The argumentation of various environmentalists is very similar to what we used to know in the past.
Interesting fellow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

U.S. Carbon Emissions Fell 1.3%

Woo Hoo! Celebration Time..Come On!U.S. Carbon Emissions Fell 1.3% in 2006:
"U.S. Carbon Emissions Fell 1.3% in 2006

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 24, 2007; Page A14

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped slightly last year even as the economy grew, according to an initial estimate released yesterday by the Energy Information Administration.

The 1.3 percent drop in CO{-2} emissions marks the first time that U.S. pollution linked to global warming has declined in absolute terms since 2001 and the first time it has gone down since 1990 while the economy was thriving. Carbon dioxide emissions declined in both 2001 and 1991, in large part because of economic slowdowns during those years."
But wait:
"China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, figures released today show.

The surprising announcement will increase anxiety about China's growing role in driving man-made global warming and will pile pressure onto world politicians to agree a new global agreement on climate change that includes the booming Chinese economy. China's emissions had not been expected to overtake those from the US, formerly the world's biggest polluter, for several years, although some reports predicted it could happen as early as next year.

But according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, soaring demand for coal to generate electricity and a surge in cement production have helped to push China's recorded emissions for 2006 beyond those from the US already. It says China produced 6,200m tonnes of CO2 last year, compared with 5,800m tonnes from the US. Britain produced about 600m tonnes."
Good thing the Kyoto protocol covers China! It doesn't you say. Why then how then could it ever be a success? It isn't you say? And the world is surprised? It is you say? Now "That's Incredible".

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Duh! Sarbanes-Oxley bleeds profits

Duh! Sarabanes-Oxley makes you bleed.:
"Apologists for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act claim that its corporate governance reforms benefit the American economy in a number of ways, including restored investor confidence in the integrity of the capital markets, enhanced corporate disclosures and reduced incentives for corporate management to manipulate stock prices. Unfortunately, these benefits are both intangible and resistant to measurement.

While we thus don’t know whether SOX in fact benefits the economy, we do know that it has imposed a much higher regulatory burden on U.S. public corporations than the law’s sponsors ever imagined. According to The Wall Street Journal, for example, publicly traded U.S. corporations routinely report that their audit costs have gone up as much as 30 percent, or even more, due to the tougher audit and accounting standards imposed by SOX."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dr. Helen: No Touching Allowed!

Dr. Helen: No Touching Allowed!:
"Heck, most adults stay so far away from kids they don't know (or those they do know) for fear of being called a pervert or abuser that many kids lack for adult companionship and mentoring."
This is true. I walk my dogs in the neighborhood most days and most people know me. However, one day I was walking my dogs off my usual route. Two kids three houses away from the street came running towards me to pet my dogs (who could blame them; my guys are the best looking dogs in the whole world). Mom and dad were nowhere in site. Against my better judgment I stopped and let the little boy pet my guys. About that time, mom rounds the side of the house and comes bounding towards me with a worried look on her face and a sharp word to her kids. I did not react in the slightest except to put my biggest smile on my face and calm my dogs who sensed her mood. After a quick chat "Are you from around here?" she asked. I said, "No. I live way over in the subdivision by the water tower. Just taking my guys for a walk to the lake for a quick swim." Then, it was time to go.

I am sure the kids got in trouble for approaching a stranger and they probably should have. So now, if I see a child sans parent, no matter what. I keep going like they are not even there. If mom or dad is there, I ask if it is OK for the child to pet the dogs.

And that is the times we live in. Sad but true.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Steffy Makes Prediction

The Chronicle's perennial anti-business pessimist makes a prediction:
"Somebody should tell the market the party's winding down.

It stands at the end of the bar, ordering round after round, unaware that the bartender is washing up for the night.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index has risen almost 11 percent during the past three months, even as signs have mounted that inflation and interest rates are rising and growth is slowing.

The steady clink, clink, clink of the rising 10-year Treasury bill during the past month is the first tip-off that closing time is nigh."
We'll see if Steffy is wrong about this just like he is wrong about almost everything else.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I Thought James Hansen was Being Silenced?!?

Apparently, James Hansen still has the ability to call the top administrator an idiot. And here, I thought he was muzzled. Top NASA official 'not sure' about fighting global warming:
"James Hansen, the space agency's top climate change scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, called Griffin's comments 'arrogant and ignorant,' according to ABC News."
Wow. The government is doing a great job of crushing dissent!

Kill Your Husband, Get Two Months

I find this to be unbelievable.
"SELMER, Tenn. — A woman who killed her preacher husband with a shotgun blast to the back as he lay in bed was sentenced Friday to three years in prison, but with time served could be released on probation in a little more than two months."
That is not justice. If the genders were reversed, imagine the outrage such a short sentence would bring.

Is Kim Jong ill?

I guess this is just speculation. Still, one can only hope.
"Kim Jong Il, North Korea's reclusive leader, has been so unwell that he could not walk more than 30 yards without a rest, western governments have been told.

Diplomats in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, are increasingly convinced that the 65-year-old dictator needs heart surgery to restore his apparently flagging health. He has had to be accompanied by an assistant carrying a chair so that, wherever he goes, he can sit and catch his breath."
I am not usually in the business of wishing for the death of world leaders, but for this person (thing), I will make an exception.

Steffy Discovers Supply And Demand

It is amazing to read Loren Steffy's columns from time to time. Occasionally, he acts like he understands the free market. Either that or he is reading Brett Clanton.
"We are all here. In the cacophony of commerce that is the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange, each of us stands.

Our SUVs are here, too. Our summer vacations, our commutes, our trips to the store.

In the pits where crude oil and gasoline are still traded the old-fashioned way, where traders yell and gesture and bite their nails as they match buyers and sellers in an unbridled frenzy of capitalism, we also find our fears, our wants and our insatiable need for fuel.

If you want to know why you're paying more for gasoline this summer, you can find your answer here. It's messy and it's complicated, but all the fervor is, ultimately, about us and our demand for an energy source that's increasingly more precious."
Demand exceeding supply. It is about time Steffy discovered what the rest of us already knew.

The Burdens of Being Green

Telling others how to live from the deck of your catamaran.
"People here have no jobs," Mark Fenn admitted, after taking documentary producers on a tour of his $35,000 catamaran and the site of his new coastal home. "But if you could count how many times they smile in a day, if you could measure stress" and compare that with "well-off people" in London or New York, "then tell me, who is rich and who is poor?"

Actually, Fenn lives 300 miles away and sends his children to school in South Africa. And the locals hardly conform to his insulting stereotypes. "If I had money, I would open a grocery store," said one. "Send my children to school," start a business, become a midwife, build a new house, said others.
Then a follow-up about being green.:
"Contrary to Kermit, it's not that hard being green. It's only hard on the objects of the greens' affection."
Do as I say, not as I do.

H/T Instapundit.

Trade War Watch: China destroys U.S. imports

Trade wars are always destructive. Watch out for this one as it could really affect your life and livelihood.
Raisins and health supplements imported from the United States failed to meet Chinese safety standards and have been returned or destroyed, the country's food safety agency said Friday.

The move comes as China itself faces international criticism, especially in the United States, over a series of scandals that have plagued Chinese food, drugs and other products from poisoned cough syrup to tainted toothpaste and pet food.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Flying to Mexico? Passport?

JimVAT asks what is the big deal to have a passport? After all, Mexico and Canada are foreign nations. Why not have a passport to travel there?
"The Bush administration today suspended some of its new, post-Sept. 11 requirements for traveling abroad, hoping to placate Congress and irate summer travelers whose vacations have been thwarted by delays in processing their passports.

The proposal temporarily lifts a requirement that U.S. passports be used for citizens flying to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Snow, in June

This is not all that unusual for June in Wyoming. I have been there on the 4th of July and seen freak snow in the mountains and 40 degree F days.

It has been a snowy and cold season in Colorado and Wyoming and that is a good thing. That means it will be green when I visit in August instead of the usual brown.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Shale oil's time may have arrived

Is shale oil a bridge: to a renewable energy future?
"Shale oil's time may have arrived
Experts cite new technology, high crude prices

Bloomberg News

Colorado and Utah have as much oil as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Angola, Algeria, Indonesia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates combined.

That's not science fiction. Trapped in limestone up to 200 feet thick in the two Rocky Mountain states is enough so-called shale oil to rival OPEC and supply the U.S. for a century.

Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., the two biggest U.S. energy companies, and Royal Dutch Shell are spending $100 million a year testing new methods to separate the oil from the stone for as little as $30 a barrel. A growing number of industry executives and analysts say new technology and high prices make the idea feasible.

'The breakthrough is that now the oil companies have a way of getting this oil out of the ground without the massive energy and manpower costs that killed these projects in the 1970s,' said Pete Stark, an analyst at IHS, an Englewood, Colo., research firm. 'All the shale rocks in the world are going to be revisited now to see how much oil they contain.'"

The Baby Boomers Want Gen-Y to Grow Up

File this under "how ironic":
"SAN FRANCISCO — From his second-floor apartment at the counterculture crossing of Haight and Ashbury streets, Arthur Evans watches a new generation of wayward youth invade his free-spirited neighborhood.

The former flower child was among the legions of idealistic wanderers who migrated here during the Vietnam War to 'tune in, turn on and drop out.'"
"I used to be a hippie. I wore beads and grew my hair long," he said. "But my generation had something these kids do not: a standard of civilized behavior."

Panhandler Jonah Lawrence, 25, insists it is residents who need civilizing. "They say, 'Get a job!' " he said. "And I say, 'You got clothes for me? Or a place I can take a shower so I can look for work?' It's so bogus to tell me to get a job if I have nothing."
This reminds me of a certain aging super-lib baby boomer I know who woke up to the fact she needs to save for retirement and is tired of paying taxes. Therefore, she opened an IRA. Good thinking, but indicative of the boomer generation wants all this government, but don't want to pay for it; they want you to pay for it. Nice.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

U-S-A, U-S-A: American Man Shatters World Record for Hot Dog Eating

Finally, the hot dog eating record is owned by an American. It is about time!
Joe Chestnut, 22, of San Jose, shattered the record held by Takeru Kobayashi of Japan by downing 59 1/2 "HBDs" — hot dogs and buns — during the Southwest Regional Hot Dog Eating Championship at the Arizona Mills Mall in suburban Tempe.

Kobayashi's old record of 53 3/4 was set last year at Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, held at Coney Island in New York, said George Costos, who helps runs the regional contests for Nathan's.

Carbon Credits: Abuse and incompetence

Gee, who knew there would be abuse in the carbon credit business?:
"A Guardian investigation has found evidence of serious irregularities at the heart of the process the world is relying on to control global warming.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is supposed to offset greenhouse gases emitted in the developed world by selling carbon credits from elsewhere, has been contaminated by gross incompetence, rule-breaking and possible fraud by companies in the developing world, according to UN paperwork, an unpublished expert report and alarming feedback from projects on the ground."
I guess I wrote about this before.
"I understand that this scheme is meant to factor the carbon replacement cost into energy consumption. But a scheme is exactly what it is. The bottom line is if you have money, you can consume energy. If you don't have money, you cannot. If this is done on a global scale, it will turn into a wealth transfer from the industrialized nations to the non-industrial nations. Such a wealth transfer to the kleptocracies in Africa will not help them achieve economic growth. Also, I can see all sorts of cheating and corruption going on that will render such a program null and void. Who is going to monitor emissions? Will an entirely new government agency spring up to administer such a thing?

The only thing this will accomplish is create another way to move money out the hands of the people and into the hands of these traders and the government."
Sometimes it just feels good to be right.

Gas Price Tipping-Point Shock

More sound economic thinking on the subject of the price elasticity of gasoline.:
"The surprisingly resilient consumption of gasoline is explained by two factors. First, though prices are just shy of the modern inflation-adjusted peak set in March 1981, Americans' incomes have risen over the past quarter-century. The share of the U.S. household budget devoted to gasoline and oil spending fluctuated between 3.4 percent and 3.6 percent throughout the 1960s, rose to 5 percent in 1981 after the two oil price shocks of the 1970s, then fell back to an all-time low of 2.1 percent in 1998. Last year, it was up to 3.8 percent."
I guess I have been a little hard on the press. There are some reporters who understand basic economics. We should listen to them.

Friday, June 01, 2007

So What?:Reliance on foreign gasoline grows

JimVAT says, "So what?":
"Reliance on foreign gasoline is growing
U.S. refineries are unable to meet surge in demand


As domestic refineries hit their limit and gasoline demand continues to rise, oil companies are importing more gasoline from beyond U.S. borders to keep America driving.

Gasoline shipped in from abroad now accounts for more than 11 percent of the total gasoline used in the U.S., roughly double the share of imports a decade ago, according to Energy Information Administration data."
And the most profound part of the article continues (emphasis mine):
After drivers used more gasoline than expected this spring, U.S. refineries, crippled by a spate of outages, could only do so much to boost output. And when oil companies searched for imports to fill the gap, they came up short. The foreign gasoline was heading to other countries that had problems.

That pushed U.S. prices higher.

"Actually, there wasn't enough gasoline to supply the world demand," said Doug MacIntyre, an Energy Information Administration analyst.
So we then see market forces in action (imagine that!):
"When you have prices here that are attractive enough for them, as they are now, then it attracts more imports and that stabilizes and eventually brings down prices," said Sheraz Mian
All I can say is Brett Clanton knows economics and gets it right. He should be the Houston Chronicle business columnist, not Loren Steffy.

Texas gas prices fall

I guess the great gas price conspiracy of 2007 is. over.:
"Texas retail gasoline prices sagged this week after 16 straight weeks of gains took them to record heights, according to a weekly price survey released Friday.

According to the AAA Texas gasoline price survey, regular-grade gasoline retailed for an average of $3.05 per gallon in 11 Texas cities, 3 cents less than last week's average. The national average dropped 4 cents to $3.19 per gallon."