Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stupid Is As Stupid Does: Boeing Union Rejects Contract; Upset Now That Boeing Looking To Build New 777X Elsewhere

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November 6, 2015: even the unions lose under Obama's ideology; union upset that Obama kills Keystone XL;
The main union for construction workers is accusing President Obama of throwing them “under the bus” by rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) is one of the few labor unions that broke with the majority of Democrats and supported the project, which Obama rejected Friday after a seven-year review.
February 17, 2015: largest Port of Portland shipper, Hanjin Shipping, says sayonara. Can't deal with the unions any more. Could end the Port of Portland as we know it. It will certainly decimate the dockworkers union in Portland.

January 26, 2015: Union membership falls to 100-year low. Daily Signal reports:
Union membership rate fell to 11.1 percent, with just 14.6 million wage and salaried workers maintaining membership.
In 2013, the union membership rate was 0.2 percentage points higher, at 11.3 percent.
The rate of union membership has been on a steady decline over the past three decades.
It grew slightly from 12.1 percent in 2007 to 12.4 percent in 2008. During President Obama’s first year in office, however, it fell once more.
October 7, 2014: Philadelphia gut check -- for Philadelphia school teachers, a lesson in new math and ObamaCare:
In a surprise move Monday, the commission that governs the financially troubled Philadelphia public-school system canceled the teachers union contract and decided educators must contribute to their health insurance for the first time to free up money for classrooms.
October 1, 2014: a federal judge rules that public sector pensions are not protected when a city declares bankruptcy; ruled in the Stockton, CA, bankruptcy proceedings.

January 6, 2014: Machinists union narrowly votes to accept Boeing contract. The Los Angeles Times says the new 8-year Boeing contract underscores decline of union clout.

December 30, 2013: gut-check. Union to vote on whether to accept modest cut in benefits vs keeping jobs. This is a no-brainer. Boeing says if union votes "no," the company will manufacture its composite wing elsewhere (possibly Japan).

Original Post

The Demise of US Unions

Special Section
with minimal comment; the stories stand on their own 

The Real Fairy Tale: California’s second-largest teachers’ union as champion of “social justice”
The online premiere last week of the California Federation of Teachers’ short cartoon, “Tax the Rich: An Animated Fairy Tale,” attracted such a torrent of mockery that the state’s second-largest teachers’ union set the video to “private” on its YouTube channel after a few days. Too late. Narrated by actor and self-described socialist Ed Asner, the video depicts an America devastated over 20 years by the greed of the richest “1 percent.” The video’s lowlight shows a white capitalist fat cat standing on a pile of money, urinating on a black woman’s head. (The video was later edited to remove the urine stream.) [Comment: a major theme of this cartoon was that politicians are bought; Ed Asner's choice for president was re-elected in a landslide in 2012 when this cartoon was posted.]
Peggy Noonan, WSJ:  if union members allowed to vote with their feet ...
By the way, the single most interesting number in the whole race was 28,785. That is how many dues-paying members of the American Federation of State, County and Municiple Employees were left in Wisconsin after Mr. Walker allowed them to choose whether union dues would be taken from their paychecks each week. Before that, AFSCME had 62,218 dues-paying members in Wisconsin. There is a degree to which public union involvement is, simply, coerced.
Labors Face New Challenges -- WSJ: Losses in Wisconsin, California come as ranks of government unions decline.
Organized labor, reeling from blows to government workers in Wisconsin and California elections, is grappling with the prospect of diminished political clout and fewer members in public-sector unions that have formed the core of the movement's power in recent years.
The LA Times take on the Wisconsin vote: Unions were the big losers.
Labor unions, by contrast, suffered a serious blow to their already-waning political clout. The recall made the third election in the space of a year in which labor failed to defeat Walker or a Walker proxy. The unions lost a fight to oust a Republican state Supreme Court justice and fell short of recalling enough GOP state senators last summer to put Democrats in control of the chamber. And now this.
A whoopin', from above:
The headline -- "Walker Survives Recall Election." The story:
With more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, Walker was ahead 57 percent to 42 percent for Barrett, according to early returns tabulated by The Associated Press.
That's not "surviving a recall election." That's a whoopin.'  When I was in high school campaigning for a local candidate, I was told that a 51-49 win was a landslide in many cases. That's when I first learned about point spreads in politics. Yeah, 57-42 is not a "survival"; it's a whoopin.' It's a sad day when even the "AP" is biased.
Union members choosing to vote with their feet
Wisconsin’s government employees are leaving their government-unions in great numbers. This results from reforms of Gov. Scott Walker, including ending the government’s collection of union dues for government-union leaders, and instead recognizing the union members’ right to choose.

What is happening in Wisconsin evidences the necessity of politicians elected to represent the taxpaying public and stop kowtowing to government-union bosses for fear of losing elections. They must recognize government employees’ right to choose and to refuse to collect government-union dues by payroll deduction.

The beneficiaries of dues collection by the government for the government unions, especially the largest, SEIU followed by AFSCME, are the government-union leaders and careerists, not the union members.

In short, it is not “anti-union” to eliminate dues collection by the government, it is “pro-union member.”

This reform is a major reason why union leaders in Wisconsin, and nationally, are desperately trying to recall Gov. Walker and reinstate automatic dues collection by payroll deduction, whether union members want it or not.
From wiki:
Union membership had been declining in the US since 1954. In 2007, the labor department reported the first increase in union memberships in 25 years and the largest increase since 1979. Most of the recent gains in union membership have been in the service sector while the number of unionized employees in the manufacturing sector has declined. Most of the gains in the service sector have come in West Coast states like California where union membership is now at 16.7% compared with a national average of about 12.1%.

Historically, the rapid growth of public employee unions since the 1960s has served to mask an even more dramatic decline in private-sector union membership. 
Boeing, South Carolina, Union Retaliation
Indeed, were it not for the fact that the once-unionized Boeing employees in South Carolina kicked the Machinists union out of their workplace, the union would likely never have filed a charge against Boeing for locating the 787 work in South Carolina.
Not nice. And just plain weird.

Note: I never in a million years would have posted this special section but after the comments I received following the Wisconsin recall, my contract required that I respond. It was purely a business decision.

14. Stupid is as stupid does. It's not as if the union was not warned about the reality of voting down the contract. The Los Angeles Times reports union members are upset that Boeing is looking for a new site to build their new Boeing 777X after the union voted to reject a new contract:
At issue is the company's hunt for a site to build its newest airliner, the 777X. Ryker and other members of the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 overwhelmingly voted last month to reject a contract that would have cut some pension plans and healthcare benefits but guaranteed the program would stay in the Pacific Northwest.
Since the vote, Washington's largest private employer has been looking elsewhere for a site to build the plane, a potential move that threatens the state economy and the middle class Boeing helped create.
The company's decision reflects the hard realities of the industry and the latest skirmish in the fight for union survival. Boeing says the contract concessions are essential to compete financially with its longtime European rival Airbus, which plans to deliver its own new twin-aisle jetliner next year.
The two companies have been locked in a duopoly of the large jet market since the 1990s and are currently in a dead heat. Last year, Boeing delivered just 13 more aircraft than Airbus, a far cry from its 297-plane advantage in 1989.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Raymond L. Conner laid out the stakes in a letter to workers before the Nov. 13 union vote on the 777X, an essential part of the company's long-term product strategy.
13. Right-to-work state South Carolina wins huge military contract, March 3, 2013. 

12. Indiana, votes "right-to-work" on February 2, 2013; first "rust belt" state to do so. Less than a month later, Chrysler announces huge investment in north-central Indiana. February 28, 2013.

11. From Drudge link, Greece running out of cash:
Greek leaders said that despite their latest bailout of 130 billion euros, or $161.7 billion, they face a shortfall of 1.7 billion euros because tax revenue and other sources of potential income are drying up. A wrenching recession and harsh budget cuts have left businesses and individuals with less and less to give for taxes — and growing incentive to avoid paying what they owe.
As noted many times, I can't comprehend 9 zeroes. So, if a friend, let's call him EUric gave me $162 and then I told EUric I was still short $2 to pay my bills, do you think EUric would a) give me the $2 dollars; b) give me $10 bucks because he's such a good friend; or, c) tell me to pound dirt.

10. Two huge dots today to connect: first, the president has told Bill Clinton to pound dirt; the White House is not going to extend tax cuts. Second, breaking news on CNBC: the White House has just released a presser saying that the US and Germany have talked; the US pressed the Germans that the EU debacle needs to be solved. Connecting the dots: the money raised in new taxes at the end of the year will be transferred (as collateral/backstop) to the IMF to prop up the EU. Money is fungible.

9. Read my lips: no more tax cuts!

8. Wow, the WSJ -- print edition -- is full of interesting articles today. I simply won't have time to post all the links, nor would many be interested. The common theme: "the chickens are coming home to roost" -- in Europe and in the US.
Emissions-free solar and wind energy, on which the UK plans increasingly to rely, are expensive. The government estimates that a planned offshore wind farm project ringing the coast will cost ... [the equivalent of $9,000] for everyhousehold in the country. Conventional energy could provide the same amount of energy at 5% of the cost.
7. Not nice. And just plain weird.

6. The iPad is ubiquitous. This morning, getting off the "73" at Harvard Station, a man that could have been taken for a homeless person (he wasn't), was reading his iPad, the same posture as we used to see folks reading the NY Times.  Speaking of which,  have it bookmarked for its good writing.

5. Speaking of the recall vote, I was not aware that the president had not campaigned on behalf of the unions in the state. Thrown under the bus.

4. Drudge called the race hours earlier than mainstream media yesterday -- although he was off, it appears. He said it would be close. Print media now upset with Drudge. Print media looking more and more like your average blog every day.

CNN, Fox News, CNBC all have breaking news crawlers all day long. Those crawlers no longer carry any weight. Drudge irritates me by not changing his lead story for days at a time, it seems. But I can be guaranteed when I go to Drudge I will see the headline news that is pertinent to that point in time, even if it's the same headline as twelve hours earlier.

More: the headline -- "Walker Survives Recall Election." The story:
With more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, Walker was ahead 57 percent to 42 percent for Barrett, according to early returns tabulated by The Associated Press.
That's not "surviving a recall election." That's a whoopin.'  When I was in high school campaigning for a local candidate, I was told that a 51-49 win was a landslide in many cases. That's when I first learned about point spreads in politics. Yeah, 57-42 is not a "survival"; it's a whoopin.' It's a sad day when even the "AP" is biased.

3. Just the other day in my morning ramblings I talked about the challenge brick-and-mortar (BAM) stores have in the age of iPhone consumerism. I said BAM can't do much with regard to in-store inventory compared to what is available on the net, but customer service in the BAM stores could make all the difference. So, with that in mind, do you think this 73-year-old distinguished physician will ever visit Barnes and Noble again? I know I won't. But not because solely of this. But it leaves a bad, bad taste in my mouth, as they used to say.

Some months ago, my granddaughter was laying on the floor in the childrens' section in a B&N store; I thought it was cute, and took a photograph of her. I was told by a store employee that in-store photographs were not allowed. As if every kid with an iPhone isn't taking pictures everywhere.

2. The other night my granddaughters, their mom, and grandmother went to the Il Divo concert in downtown Boston. I said I would pick them up when it was over. I could not believe how smoothly things worked out. I arrived in the "immediate area" exactly at the prescribed time. We said we would find each other once we got there.

As soon as I arrived, I called my wife; they had just exited the theater. I said I was two car lengths to the right of the theater. She saw my flashing lights immediately; the four got in and we were on our way.

Two things: first, the Boston drivers were incredibly courteous. The theater was on a four-lane street in downtown Boston. Two lanes to the far left had been turned into a pick-up zone. There were no police or security folks moving traffic. Cars moved into and out of the pick-up zone with little trouble. Folks seemed to leave the third lane open for cars moving in and out, with the fourth (outside) lane being used for steady driving. Chaos is self-organizing.

But what really kept the line of cars moving smoothly -- I am convinced -- were folks using their cell phones to keep in contact. I doubt if anyone had to wait long in front of the theater waiting for someone to find them. I am convinced the cell phone sped up the entire process.

Wouldn't it be interesting if there was an "app" that my wife could put on her phone to immediately locate the GPS position of the cell phone she was calling? Once she dialed my phone number, whether I answered or not, her smart phone would display a map where my cell phone was located. My hunch: the app is already out there. I am just not aware of it.

1. One of the reasons I enjoy investing: it tends to keep me interested in what is going on in the world. If I were not a long term investor in telecommunications, I doubt I would have clicked on this WSJ article about trends in voice usage over cell phones. The generational changes are occurring faster than ever.
In a sea change for consumer behavior, the amount of time spent making old-fashioned voice calls has fallen every year since Apple Inc. introduced the iPhone in 2007.

Carriers are wrestling with a generational shift in the relationship between their customers and the devices they sell. Phone calls simply are no longer the primary reason people buy mobile phones. The shift is so pronounced that Inc. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said at an investor conference Friday that he wouldn't be surprised if some carrier pops up in the next two years with cellphone plans that cover only data, no voice.
In fact, I could see some folks buying a no-contract, throw-away $10 Wal-Mart phone for social calls they make, and never using voice on their smart phone, the "new" data phone. 

On the other hand, prices for data/voice will continue to come down, I think, making the whole discussion moot.

At Least They Won't Have To Deal With US Activists

TransCanada to build ~ $4 billion LNG pipeline to Pacific coast to export to Asia.

Wow, Wow, Wow! The Canary in the Coal Mine....

The other day I posted the likely effects of dropping oil prices on the oil patch. I said that the Canadian oil sands will be affected well before the Bakken. I made that point clearly on at least two occasions. I'm not going to spend time looking for the links; if I run across them I will update the site.

Now, this link to RigZone! Yes!
Growing U.S. tight oil production, particularly from the Bakken oil play, threatens to squeeze the margins of Canadian oil sands projects, and could result in unsanctioned oil sands projects being delayed or cancelled due to the potential for wide and volatile price differentials, according to a May 2012 report by Wood Mackenzie.

The massive growth of North American tight oil production, particularly North Dakota's Bakken play, is placing pressure, and competing directly with Canadian barrels moving south, according to the report. This problem will only get worse as Wood Mackenzie forecasts that North Dakota's Bakken production will double to 1.2 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) by 2015.
The "price points" in the article confirm what I've been posting.

So many, many story angles, but that will have to wait.

However, more fuel for the fire: economic indicators are bad news for the energy sector - Rigzone

Peak Oil? What Peak Oil?


June 6, 2012: Even CarpeDiem has picked up this story

Later, 10:40 p.m., RigZone has the same story.  The American company that could be the winner? ExxonMobil.

Original Post

How many story angles from this one story? Meet the oil shale eighty (80) times bigger than the Bakken.

Before we get to the linked story, some data points about the Bakken.

Regarding the Bakken:
  • USGS/NDGS estimate: 4 billion bbls recoverable oil, 150 times greater than original estimate
  • oil company's old estimate: 20 billion bbls recoverable oil
  • oil company's new estimate: 24 billion bbls recoverable oil
  • oil company's newer estimate (based on Pronghorn Sand): 50 billion bbls recoverable oil 
Now, from the linked story:
But as great as the Bakken is, I learned last week about another oil shale play that dwarfs it. It’s called The Bazhenov. It’s in Western Siberia, in Russia. And while the Bakken is big, the Bazhenov — according to a report last week by Sanford Bernstein’s lead international oil analyst Oswald Clint — “covers 2.3 million square kilometers or 570 million acres, which is the size of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico combined.” This is 80 times bigger than the Bakken.
and, continuing:
... a play 80 times bigger like the Bazhenov would imply 1,920 billion barrels. That’s a preposterous figure, enough oil to satisfy all of current global demand for 64 years, or to do 5 million bpd for more than 1,000 years. ... it looks like they’ll still be working the Bazhenov long after ... the Peak Oil crowd realizes there’s more oil out there than we’ve ever imagined.
Now about those story lines:
  • the Bakken is still the "gold" standard for unconventional oil
  • lessons learned will be exported to Russia
  • axis of oil continues to shift away from Saudi Arabia
  • summer melting in Siberia makes it more difficult to drill in the summer, but global warming just in time to make Siberian winters a bit more tolerable for roughnecks
  • geographically right next to country that will need this oil most: China
  • peak oil? what peak oil?
  • anything but good news for alternative energy sources on supply/demand basis
  • another blog authored by one of my granddaughters, or perhaps one will be a petroleum engineer working in Russia
With regard to "the Bakken is still the 'gold' standard":
  • the Forbes article is a major business magazine in the US
  • the headline for the article mentions the Bakken
  • the photograph of the drilling rig is a Bakken rig
  • the face shot is that of Harold Hamm, the "face of the Bakken"

Chesapeake In Talks To Sell Pipeline Subsidiary -- $4 Billion Deal

Just the headline tonight. I'm sure we will hear more about this over the next couple of days.
The second-largest U.S. natural gas producer is discussing selling all of its interests in Chesapeake Midstream Partners LP as well as other pipeline assets, Bloomberg reported.

Random Update on Building Permits From The Heart of The Bakken

A reader sent the following comment, but I know not everyone reads comments:
I see Williston is once again posed to beat or break last year's building permits.

According to the city of Williston building deppartment site, the city has issued twice the $$$ amount in building permits/projects compared to last year.

So far as of May 31st, close to $120 million...last year at this time they had close to $60 million. I think Williston will definately hit the $400 million mark this year!

This is truly incredible. I would have thought by now things would have started to level off. In fact, I think I posted that a year or so ago (if not, I certainly thought it) that five years into the boom, things would be very, very busy, but at least leveling off. It appears I am wrong.

I can only imagine Dickinson is studying the situation closely (and I say that positively, with no sarcasm). With Whiting's Pronghorn Prospect being compared to the Sanish up north, this should be quite a year for all. 

A huge "thank you" to the reader for helping me out with all the data; there is simply too much for me to follow.  

Whiting Has a New Corporate Presentation

The presentation includes a "new" slide: the sweet spots in the Bakken, slide 18.

In one sense, the "Bakken sweet spot" slide doesn't provide anything we didn't already know: some spots are better than others. But in another sense, I am somewhat surprised: there are a lot more sweet spots than I would have thought. A lot more. But they are discreet, which again, in a continuous reservoir, is counter-intuitive.

The presentation includes Sanish Field area gathering system and Robinson Lake gas plant -- slide 21.

The presentation includes Pronghorn Field area gathering system and Belfield gas plant -- slide 22: note -- Whiting is calling their Pronghorn Prospect the "Pronghorn Field" which has been noted earlier. NDIC will address this nomenclature, if I recall correctly. There is an NDIC-designated Pronghorn oil field near Alexander/Watford City, in McKenzie County.

The proposed pipeline parallel to and well south of I-94 is of special interest. This is where Chesapeake controls a lot of acreage.

Slide 23 shows up to 1.292 million bbls of takeaway capacity by the end of 2013. Whiting suggests we have 1.102 million bbls of takeaway capacity by the end of 2012. Currently, "we" have 690,000 bbls takeaway capacity.

CLR Has a New Corporate Presentation

Link here.

Two deeper TFS benches:
  • 21128, Charlotte 2-22H, 1,396 boepd IP, Banks field, in the heart of the Bakken;
  • 19286, Sunline 11-1TF-2SH -- 1,023 boepd IP, Clear Creek, in the heart of the Bakken;
Bakken development plan: at least 9 wells per spacing unit (slide 10).

Nine (9) New Permits -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA

Daily activity report, June 5, 2012 --
  • Operators: CLR (3), Corinthian (2), BEXP (2), Hess (2)
  • Fields: Alger (Mountrail), Frazier (Divide), Hawkeye (McKenzie), North Souris (Bottineau), Corinth (Williams)
CLR has a permit for a wildcat in Billings County.

One producing well was completed:
  • 21577, 1186, MRO, Ernest Charchenko 14-33H, Dunn
Ten wells released from "tight hole" status:
  • 19466, 242, Oasis, Chicken Creek Federal 44-35H,
  • 19614, DRL, Oasis, Christianson 5404 14-34H,
  • 20062, DRL, XTO, Christiana 21X-6B, 
  • 20684, 27, Baytex, Bragg 32-29-160-98H,
  • 21048, 1,867, Oasis, Caspian 5693 43-1H,
  • 21061, 1,006, Whiting, Crane Creek State 11-16TFH, 
  • 21142, DRL, Oasis, Horse Creek Federal 5004 42-35H,
  • 21368, 217, CLR, Overland 1-8H,
  • 21507, 1,365, BEXP, Sam 30-31 1h, 
  • 21823, 1,430, MRO, Ben Reckard 44-22H,
Permit expired:
  • 19147, EXP, Hess, Edward 28-1H, 
Three Whiting wells in Stark County were approved for "tight hole" status; two of them targeting the Pronghorn Sand formation: Mork Trust, Solberg, and Talkington.

A huge "thank you" to  Connie who writes often with great links but doesn't want me to post her comments:

There's Nothing I Can Do About It Now, Willie Nelson

How Good Is the Bakken? How Much Better Is It Getting?

I've just updated Blue Buttes oil field, one of the older fields in the Williston Basin. When you click on the update, notice the the change in IPs over the past two or three years.

Then look at some of the cumulative production figures.
  • 20591, 2,656, Helis, Jones 4-15/22H, t4/12; cum 48K 4/12: 48,000 bbls by the end of the month in which it was completed
  • 18973, 2,579, Helis, State 1-16/21H, t10/10; cum 308K 4/12;  over 300,000 bbls since it was completed less than two years ago
Do you think Helis has cracked the code for completing Bakken wells in Blue Buttes?

And, then how about this string of Hess wells?
  • 18013, 842, BR, Mathistad 2-35H, t7/09; cum 124K 4/12;
  • 18053, 467, Hess, BB-State-151-96-3625H-1, t10/09; cum 144K 4/12;
  • 18104, 1,113, Hess, BB-State A-151-95-1615H-1, t11/09; cum 250K 4/12;
  • 18105, 860, Hess, BB-Federal A-151-95-0910H-1, t2/10; cum 201K 4/12;
  • 18218, 615, Hess, BB-Federal-151-95-0817H-1, cum 199K 4/12;
  • 18250, 1,230, Hess, BB-Federal B-151-95-2122H-1, t5/10; cum 160K 4/12;
  • 18271, 547, Hess, BB-Chapin A-151-95-0403H-1, t1/11; cum 106K 4/12; 
Those wells fairly old by "Bakken boom" standards. And some of these wells are going to keep producing for 30 years -- albeit at a declining rate. I think this something a lot of folks keep forgetting: once production comes on line, day-in, and day-out, these wells are putting oil into the pipelines.

Rationally, "we" know that CLR says the EURs of their wells will average 603,000 bbls for the better Bakken, but one doesn't really get a feeling for what that means until one sees specific wells that have produced 300,000 bbls in 18 months, or a string of wells that will probably all come close to hitting 300,000 bbls in 36 months with some exceptions. And, again, these are "older" wells.

Look at the change in IPs from "then" (two years ago) to now.

Six Profitable Large Cap Stocks Poised for Growth -- And Several More Links From Seeking Alpha -- Yes, There Is Some Bakken Here

Link here. It's an extremely eclectic list which suggests the author is ... well, eclectic.

Two of the six ... drum roll ... Continental Resources and EOG.

Disclaimer: this is not an investment site; see disclaimer and welcome. This is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold securities.

Another one on the list: Facebook. It's counter-intuitive, but I agree. Facebook is going to be very, very interesting. I think by the end of the month, others will see why.

KOG gets a full page to itself at SeekingAlpha here

Elsewhere at SeekingAlpha, KOG is mentioned.

No, I don't own any shares in KOG. It is just coincidental that I'm finding these articles as I go through my bookmarked sites.

Oasis is mentioned here, by the same eclectic author noted above, in the very first link.  And yes, I'm an investor in Oasis, not a trader.

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I used to own shares in MDU. It was one of the first companies I ever invested in, but sold it some years ago. It has really held up well in this latest downturn -- see SeekingAlpha.com --  and makes one wonder whether it might not be a good time to get back in for the long term.

North Dakota #1 in Growth in 2011 Among All US States

Link to CarpeDiem.com.
...the "economic miracle state" of North Dakota led the country last year with a whopping growth rate in real GDP of 7.6%, more than five times the national average of 1.5%, and almost three percentage points higher than No. 2 Oregon's growth of 4.7%. On a per-capita basis, North Dakota also ranked No. 1 in the country with a 6.17% increase in its 2011 per-capita real GDP, compared to a 0.73% national average, and a 4.47% increase in No. 2 West Virginia.
Oregon in the #2 place is very, very interesting. I would not have expected that, to say the least. It would be interesting to compare Oregon's port revenue and growth with that of Washington State. [See first comment which sheds light on Oregon's source for GDP. Click here for the link in the comment.]

Also from the same site: Can we finally put "peak oil" to rest?
... higher prices for oil will increase the incentives to: a) find more oil, b) conserve on the use of oil, and c) find more substitutes.  And that's exactly what's happened recently in response to higher oil prices - domestic crude oil production reached a 14-year high in March, and the share of rigs drilling for oil (vs. natural gas) set a new record high of 70% last week.  
And then Mark Perry lists a number of astounding examples of how American businesses are replacing ever expensive fossil fuel with alternate and renewable sources. Very, very interesting.

Added later: I love the subject at this link: remember the North Dakota to Texas energy renaissance. With the Mississippi Lime in Kansas it pretty much completes the span from border to gulf (South Dakota needs a bit more action).

A Note for the Granddaughters

My worldview of the American success story was pretty much influenced by How the Scots Invented The Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything In It, by Arthur Herman.  It would be one of five books I would take to a deserted island.

Since reading that book, I am forever finding more examples of the Scots in the world. From The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean, by David Abulafia, there is a great section on the Jewish-Muslim history in the Mediterranean at the end of the first millenium (900 - 1050).
... in the eleventh century one group of Jews rebuit the Ben Ezra synagogue, only by ladder, into which they threw and stuffed their discarded papers and manuscripts. They wished to avoid destroying anything that carried the name of God; by extension they did not destroy anything written in Hebrew characters. It has been well said that the Genizah collection is 'the very opposite of an archive,' because the aim was to throw away documents without destroying them, in effect burying them above ground ...

These manuscripts came to the attention of scholars in 1896 when a pair of Scottish women brought to Cambridge what appeared to be the Hebrew text of the Wisdom of Ben Sira, or Ecclesiasticus, previously known only from the Greek version preserved in the Septuagint, and consigned by the Jews ... to the non-canonical Apocrypha. 
A Cambridge, the Reader in Talmudic, arranged for the sale of the contents, bringing back about 75% of the entire "waste-basket." It took one hundred years to sort out the waste paper.

Later in the same chapter (nothing to do with the Scots):
There were many references to Muslim merchants, who were often entrusted with goods being sent overland (there was heavy land traffic along the North African coast); this was because many Jews had scruples about travelling by land on the Sabbath, which was difficult to avoid when accompanying a caravan. Travelling by sea on the Sabbath was less complicated, so long as one did not set out on the Sabbath itself. Perhaps it was this simple fact, their religious preference for sea travel, that made the Genizah Jews into such enterprising merchants willing to traverse the Mediterranean.
Finally, there is a long section later in the chapter on the business practices of the Muslim and Jewish merchants, constrained by religious laws, that should impress Harvard MBAs, and perhaps even help modern-day entrepreneurs get around bureaucratic nonsense.


If I taught middle school social sciences or high school history, I would, of course, assign the entire class the required textbook, but I would divide the classes into four or five groups and assign each group to read an additional book such as the two referenced above, and others such as TR's Winning of the West. It would be their responsibility (with guidance) to find short sections in the reference material to expand on the required text. I have immense joy sharing such trivia as the above stories with my granddaughters at breakfast (as we work on the crossword puzzle together) or on our walks home from school. It is quite amazing what they can bring to the conversation. The five-year-old asks very, very perceptive questions. Last night she asked me what "catheters" were when overhearing one of those "old-person" commercials while watching reruns of The Rifleman.

Texas Facing an Electric Shortage -- For More Bakken, Skip and Scoll

From the print edition, WSJ, page A9, "power shortage vexes Texas."
Texas, which is facing an electricity shortage, should let power prices rise sharply to give companies more incentive to build badly needed generating plants, experts said in a report to state grid officials. 
Data points:
  • in Texas, the grid will be close to the edge this summer
  • rolling blackouts possible if "too many" power plants break down at the same time
  • 25 million residents; second most populous state; second to California
  • Texas: expected to have a 2,500 megawatt shortfall in generating capacity by 2014; represents five large power plants -- wow, natural gas at $2.00 didn't arrive a moment too soon ... 
This paragraph stands out:
The state has an unusual electricity system, in which generators only make money when they actually sell electricity. 
Okay. Google the article for the rest of the story.  Meanwhile:

All My Exes Live in Texas, George Strait

Another One Bites the Dust


Later, 2:10 p.m.: I can't believe no one has called me on this one yet. The WSJ failed to mention that this company below was a start-up under Governor Mitt Romney's administration. The Boston Globe spelled this out very, very nicely. When I posted this, I had not yet read the Boston Globe. A link to the story in the Washington Post. Evergeen Solar and Beacon Power, also under Romney's tenure, went bankrupt, story here.

Again, I don't know why folks think I am against solar power. I am not. I love solar power as much as anyone. As noted below;  I invest in solar power. It has its niche. But anyone who suggests that it's the answer to our energy problem globally is, in fact, quite wrong. The numbers don't add up.

I simply want all energy sources to play by the same environmental rules worldwide.

Original Post

At the risk of offending 75% of my readers, this was too good to simply be an update elsewhere.

From the print copy, WSJ, page B7, "another one bites the dust."
Solar-power company Konarka Technologies Inc collapsed into bankruptcy after spending tens of millions of investor dollars and government grant money to research and manufacture thin strips of sunlight-absorbing sheeting.
Data points:
  • Lowell, Massachussets
  • debts topped more than $10 million
  • the collapse is blamed on inability to find additional money 
"To find additional money"? Okay.

I am an investor in solar just to clear the air. But the video was too good to pass up.

Another One Bites The Dust, Queen
Folks who have not listened to Queen before may appreciate the video below.

Speaking of grants, from the WSJ, pA19: George Washington University is getting $1.9 million (grant from the Obama administration) for a project to reduce health care costs by $1.7 million. The best and the brightest.

A Note for the Granddaughters

I discovered Queen when the Air Force sent me to a remote air base in northern England for several months, and then sent me back numerous times over the course of a couple of years. You have no idea how tired I had become by then of traveling and being away from the family. I've talked about this before. This was where I started my aggressive reading program again.

On the first trip to this remote site, I was "stuck" with BBC on a television that barely carried one grainy station. Interestingly, the first "show" I saw was a Queen concert. Awesome. Queen became, perhaps, my favorite rock group.

Freddie was an incredibly generous person from all that I have read.

It's coincidental that the Queen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this year. Yesterday, someone wrote to say that Norwegians consistently poll as one of the happiest in the world. That may be, but there is something about the British (English, Scots, Irish, et al) that make them very attractive. I understand why Henry James gave up his US citizenship to become a British citizen.

Killer Queen, Queen
Something tells me the other Queen enjoyed this.

By the way, Brian May, on the far right in the still above, is an astrophysicist. From wiki:
May earned a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College in 2007 and is currently the Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University
A "rock star" comes to mind. I will have to mention this to my older granddaughter.

Speaking of which, there is a nice piece in today's Boston Globe in which a 13-year-old semi-finalist in the National Spelling Bee is interviewed. It turns out that when the questions turned to other interests she was asked about Justin Bieber ("pleaaasseee"); she said her favorite music was the Beatles. That surprised the interviewer, noting the young age of the teenage. At the end of the interview, the young girl was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her reply: "Happy." Like Lennon said, she told the reporter.

Tuesday Morning Ramblings -- For the Bakken, Skip and Scroll

8. At the Starbucks at Harvard Square, Cambridge, on the second floor, the staff routinely comes by in the morning to offer visitors a small cup of one of their prestige coffee. Today it's a lemony Ethiopian coffee, and something they do rarely, it was accompanied with a small lemon bar. Life is funny. I used to detest Starbucks. But it's the only coffee my wife will drink (if given the option), and over time, I have become a loyal customer for Stabucks. It is amazing what a quality product combined with great customer attention can do. 

7. Wow, this is turning into Apple rambling today. See several paragraphs below. I talked earlier about all the white MacBooks I still see in Starbucks. Actually, I guess I missed this. Apple sold the MacBook from 2006 to 2011. It was their best-selling Macintosh in history but was "quietly" discontinued and "replaced" by the MacBook Air.  (You really have to appreciate a computer company that discontinues their best selling computer of all time. Apple does think differently. But I digress). The reason I am back to this, is because a most attractive person has coincidentally sat next to me and has one of the new (2011) white MacBooks. Incredible.

6.  Well, this is interesting. See if this makes sense to you. As background, the Boston metropolitan area has one of the best public transportation systems in the US. The system is going broke, mostly because "they" paid for the underground automobile complex (known as the "Big Dig") with public transportation funds.  That's my worldview; others will have a different viewpoint exactly how and why the subway/bus system is going broke. But I digress. The important point is that the system is in deep financial doo-doo.

So, today, the front-page, above-the-fold, headline story in the Boston Globe is that the city will no longer charge to ride the "Silver Line." The Silver Line is the bus route that gets one from the city to Logan Airport. Officials are hoping that by offering free rides on the Silver Line, it will relieve congestion at the airport. Okay. The Silver Line costs $2.00 and gets you into the subway system for no additional cost which will take you anywhere in the Boston metropolitan area. So, all those business men and women, in their "Sunday best," on an expense account, will save the $2.00 for an $800 plane ticket, neither of which they would pay for in the first place. For the casual tourist travel, she will save $2.00 for a $400 plane ticket. I could be wrong on this. But for $2.00, there is not a better transportation deal in the Boston area. The deal has gotten better.

The airport will pay the MBTA $100,000, I believe, for this. I don't have the newspaper in front of me.

5. This may seem strange, re-posting a comment (see below) up here in the blog itself, but it's a great comment and I don't want it to get lost; it has to do with Apple again (sorry):
I have a number of Apple products including the Mini. It's my main home media server and my primary way to view TV shows and movies. It's hooked up to our TV in the living room and connected to 6 terabytes of HD storage for music and video. It's small and incredibly fast for what we use it for (we also have an Airport Express in our bedroom and art studio to stream music from it).
To play video we have a free program called Plex (http://plexapp.com/) that manages all of our media and allows us to view all of the media on the Mini from anywhere in the world using the iphone and ipad apps.

While I love the idea of updated macbooks, I'm happy to say I have a four-year-old macbook pro and it still works great, after upgrading the drive to an SSD it's insanely fast. The only "problem" with it is that it still works amazingly well after almost five years so I can't come up with an excuse to buy a new one.
Yes, one of the "problems" with Apple is they tend to "last forever."  I think a lot of readers will appreciate your comments on the "mini." Aesthetically, it's incredible. I would talk about how easy Airport Express is but I've already rambled on this subject too long.

4. Speaking of sports (see below). I called my brother-in-law, an avid golfer, last night to talk about Tiger Woods winning the golf tournament over the weekend. It was another incredible moment in the history of golf. His post-tournament interview included this great exchange:
Q: Do you feel like the "Tiger of old"?
A: I feel like an older Tiger. 
3. Hmmm...the Oklahoma City Thunder -- they certainly surprised me. And I think the Spurs underestimated them. I'm impressed.

2. Speaking of Apple computers (see below), I get a kick out of the increasing number of keyboard docks for the iPad. Over the weekend I saw another such Keyboard at Brookstone at the mall. I'm not sure why one would buy a non-Apple keyboard dock for the iPad. Maybe these docks fit other tablets, I didn't check. What I did notice was that these tablet - keyboard docks were almost identical to net tops. I think net tops had a shorter lifespan than the Betamax.

1. This could be very, very exciting: next week -- Apple may announce upgrades to four of its five non-iPad computer lines. Apple computer has five "computer" lines: two laptops, two desktops, and one mini. The iPad is in its own class.

The MacPro is a tower and for really, really serious computer folks. The chances of me ever seeing an Apple tower under my desk is slim to none.

On the other hand, I have always been intrigued by the "mini." I don't have one and have always wondered who would buy one. I think it's an awesome computer but it doesn't get a lot of press.

The 21.5 inch iMac is incredible. My blog is optimized for the 21.5 inch iMac. I simple love this computer and I would love to get one for my wife this Christmas. This is the one computer that may not get an upgrade.

My workhorse, on the road, is an old -- very old MacBook -- no longer made by Apple. I am surprised to see so many of these old white laptops still in use. Even at Starbucks on Harvard Square, Cambridge, they are commonly seen. But I'm seeing more and more MacBook Airs. If and when my white laptop dies, I will have to get a replacement. If the MacBook Pro is upgraded -- lighter and thinner -- it will probably be my replacement but I keep going back to look at the MacBook Air. So, we'll see.

How Big Is Whiting's Pronghorn Prospect? Dickinson Just Approved a 3,000 Unit Crew Camp

Link here to Dickinson Post.
" ... unanimously approved the Accommodate Dickinson project, which will be located on the northwest corner of East Villard Street and Energy Drive on about 45 acres of land. Accommodate International of Austin, Texas, is the owner and developer. The crew camp would be the company’s first in North Dakota."

RBN Energy -- Record Crude Oil Stocks Sloshing Around

Link here.
According to the EIA petroleum status report released last Thursday for the week ending May 25, 2012, US stocks of commercial crude oil are close to their all time high at 384.7 MMBbl. Stocks have only been higher once since the EIA started keeping records and that was back in July 1990. Right now we are 2 percent below the record. Crude oil stocks are sky high.

Independent Stock Analysis -- Energy Links

Will Brazil double production?

A crash course on the Keystone XL. Phase 4 is still listed as "unknown." I do not know if the Keystone XL gap between Steele City, NE, and Cushing, OK, was always part of the plan.

Saudis unlikely to cut production based on break-even prices.

Saudis could cut production by the end of the summer. Another view. 

Links at ISA.