Sunday, January 19, 2014

Food For Thought

I've been updating the data at "new wells reporting, back in the "early" years. Three things jump out:
  • some really pathetic wells compared to what operators are reporting these days
  • a real hodge-podge of locations being drilled as operators delineated the Bakken
  • some operators that no longer exist, having been bought by current operators
If folks thought the Bakken was good in the early days, they will be amazed how far we have come. It is absolutely striking to scroll through some of the data at the linked site, going back to the "early" days, back in 2010. 
A Note to the Granddaughters

I'm reading another wonderful book, Athens: A Portrait of the city in its golden age, Christian Meier, c. 1993. I will post notes at the literature blog (but haven't done much with this book yet).

I recall my reading list in first and second grade. I loved to read; I have no idea what attracted me to reading. I don't recall my parents reading a whole lot to me: they had their hands full with four children when I was in first grade -- I was the oldest.

I don't recall what I was interested in during the later elementary school years, But I do recall the wonderful library in the northwest (?) corner of that huge study hall in Central School (our "junior high" which I suppose is now called a "middle school"). That Central School was torn down years ago; Williston Middle School is now collocated with the high school, but I digress.

In middle school I was fascinated with classical Roman and Greek history, and Carl Sandburg's biography of Abraham Lincoln. [Amazon's reviews bring back wonderful memories.] I also remember the wonderful biography of Albert Schweitzer that I read, but do not remember the author.

I think the only two "things" I lacked in my high school education was a) a good physics teacher; and, b) a Greek literature teacher. And perhaps, a good Shakespeare literature teacher. But short of that, I can't say enough about the excellent education I received in Williston. I've mentioned more than once my wonderful middle school Latin instructor and my junior year in high school chemistry instructor.

[My college roommate could recite long passages from Greek plays and from Shakespeare plays; he was educated in a small rural school in Tea, South Dakota.]

I do not recall what book I first read that left such an impression on me regarding Pericles and the golden age of Athens, but I assume that's why I am really enjoying Christian Meier's book on Athens; it probably rekindles some of the dying embers of what little I remember from my early reading.

I am reading Athens very, very slowly. I don't have a South Lake, Texas, public library card because our address is outside South Lake. So, I bike the 5 miles most week days to the library and read a bit of it.

Friday, I came across this very interesting paragraph, p. 48:
Max Weber speaks of the "growing demand on the part of a society accustomed to absolute satisfaction of its needs for order and protection (police) in  all areas of life." But government does not stop there. A great amount of regulation becomes necessary and is often supplied to excess. it comes into being partly to sustain and legitimize governmental power and partly as a result of increasing specialization. Ultimately, it culminates in the separation of state and society. This trend of specialization can be resisted, but reversing it would be difficult. Political centralization does not necessarily produce a strong foreign policy.
Wow, talk about insight.

Max Weber was a German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist but most of that paragraph was written by a modern-day historian, Christian Meier.

Parsing that paragraph, the individual points:
  • a society accustomed to absolute satisfaction of its needs for order and protection
  • in all areas of life
  • a great amount of regulation is necessary
  • governmental regulation is often supplied to excess
  • excess governmental regulation is driven partly to legitimize governmental power
  • excess governmental regulation is driven partly due to increasing specialization
  • ultimately it culminates in the separation of state and society
  • specialization can be resisted, but reversing it would be difficult
  • political centralization does not necessarily produce a strong foreign policy
I was particularly caught by the comment about the "separation of state and society." Both George W. and Mr Obama have been criticized for being out of touch with "America." Certainly the developers of ObamaCare were grossly out of touch with "America."

Weekend News

The New York Times

The top story, above the fold, to the right: patients' costs skyrocket; specialists' incomes soar.
the article makes three points:
  • physicians have become entrepreneurs running multi-million-dollar businesses
  • health insurers pay "way more" for procedures that listening and prescribing
  • physicians have learned from lawyers
That last bullet. Years and years ago I opined that physicians would do better if they charged "billable hours" like the lawyers do. The insurers never played along. Physician-entrepreneurs have done one better:
The high earning in many fields relates mostly to how well they’ve managed to monetize treatment — if you freeze off 18 lesions and bill separately for surgery for each, it can be very lucrative,” said Dr. Steven Schroeder, a professor at the University of California and the chairman of the National Commission on Physician Payment Reform.
I may have missed it but it does not appear that ObamaCare or "the Affordable HealthCare Act" was mentioned anywhere in the article. There were no efforts to control costs in that trainwreck of a bill. Oh, there it is, well into the article, but The Times suggests ObamaCare will only make things worse.

The Wall Street Journal

This was linked yesterday, but it shows up today as the lead story in Saturday's edition of The WSJ: health exchanges see little progress on uninsured. It appears that most folks who signed up for ObamaCare were the ones that had their previous insurance canceled by ObamaCare. One big shell game.

EU climate targets to stop short of ambitions. Canada withdrew from the Kyoto agreement. The EU is backpedaling. And President Obama pulled miracle-worker John Podesta off "climate" to save the NSA spy network. The good news for the EU, and I cannot make this up, "the EU is on track ot meet its target of cutting CO2 emissions by 2020 -- thanks partly to an economic downturn."

Putin says gay visitors are welcome in Russia -- just "leave the children in peace."

The Los Angeles Times

My wife visited Santa Monica yesterday. She reports that it has become an incredibly beautiful area rivaling much of the other "hot spots" in Los Angeles. Santa Monica is where the famed "Route 66" (not I-10, in that area) ended, at the Pacific Ocean. One can drive that I-10 to the end, right into the ocean (almost).

If you want to read about sports and entertainment, The LA Times is the place to go. That's about all they feature. Along with wildfires due to the drought.


This business story: does the rule for saving 10% of one's income for retirement still apply? The answer:
Depending on when you start saving for retirement, you may need to be saving 40% or more to help you get by when you stop working.


A pretty slow news day. And we have one more day of this long weekend. Bah! Humbug! I'm off to see the granddaughters: we have a huge day planned.

Another Entrepreneurial Story Coming Out Of Williston

Years ago I was stationed in England, a few miles northeast of London.

I remember how surprised I was one day when I called a broker to set up an account. He told me that they were so busy they were not taking new accounts. I had never, never heard of that before. Can you imagine Charles Schwab coming on television to say his firm will accept any new accounts because they are simply too busy!

I was reminded of that experience when reading the story Don sent me earlier this morning. An entrepreneur looks to be highly successful by delivering food for Williston restaurants. She is already very, very busy but wants to set up arrangements with some of larger, more-recognizable franchises.
Munchies Food Taxi has been operating for about three weeks, and word of mouth and social media advertising have Cook and her delivery drivers hopping.
She has four chain restaurants that are interested in having Munchies deliver, but the businesses are already so busy that they’re still figuring out how they would handle the additional volume. Customers have told Cook that once she adds more restaurants, she’s going to be flooded with orders.
Another very interesting story coming out of the Bakken.