Saturday, March 7, 2015

Oregon Kills Its Own Dysfunctional Health Insurance Exchange -- Moves Everyone To The Dysfunctional Federal Scheme -- March 7, 2015; And Things In Venezuela Get Even More Bizarre

The Los Angeles Times is reporting:
A bill dissolving Cover Oregon, the state's dysfunctional health insurance exchange, has been signed by Gov. Kate Brown.
The measure, which had bipartisan support, transfers responsibilities for the Oregon exchange to the state Department of Consumer and Business Services.
The decision was announced in a nine-word tweet from Brown's account, which said simply: "This afternoon I signed Senate Bill 1 into law." She signed the legislation Friday.
Cover Oregon was plagued by problems almost from its onset. No Oregonian was ever able to enroll online in a private plan under the Affordable Care Act because the state exchange never had a functioning website, forcing insurance seekers to file paper applications.
In April, state officials voted unanimously to switch over to the federal health insurance exchange,, citing the high cost of trying to fix the problematic state marketplace. The Oregon exchange had cost the state $248 million.
So, now we wait to see if Chief Justice Roberts votes to "save" ObamaCare.  Or if the "death spiral" begins, as suggested by Justice Sotomayor.

From The Dysfunctional To The Bizarre

Fox News is reporting:
Venezuela will begin installing some 20,000 fingerprint scanners at supermarkets nationwide in a bid to stamp out hoarding and panic buying, which the government blames for long lines and widespread shortages of basic goods.
The oil-rich nation has been selectively rolling out the rationing system for months at state-run supermarkets along the western border with Colombia, where smuggling of price-controlled goods is a major problem.
On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro said that seven large private retail chains had voluntarily agreed to install the scanners.
"I ask for the the comprehension of all of Venezuela, to understand this problem, because there is a lot of manipulation taking place," Maduro said at the inauguration of a state-run supermarket.

Idle Doodling On A Saturday Evening -- March 7, 2015

Idle doodling on a Saturday night.

Remember the Hartman wells we talked about just a couple days ago (at this link)?

Some folks have wondered how many wells could be sited in a 640- or a 1280-acre drilling unit in the Bakken. 

Separation of those eight wells: 0.21 miles, or 1110 feet. A drilling unit is 5,280 feet wide, and although it's somewhat circular in reasoning, that 0.21-mile separation is about 20% of the width of the drilling unit: eight horizontals in 20% of the width of the drilling unit.

Thus, even without going into whether the 8 Hartman wells in that graphic represent the maximum number of wells that could go in to that same area (maximum number of wells in all formations/subformation, simple arithmetic suggests as many as 40 wells (5 x 8) could fit into a mile-wide (the standard spacing) drilling unit in the Bakken.

This is not new. I've talked about it at length, first mentioning it some years ago. Long-time readers might recall that in a very early presentation coming out of the Bakken, it was said that it might take 48 wells / drilling unit to completely drill out the Bakken -- obviously this density would only occur in some areas of the Bakken and only if the price of oil supported that amount of drilling.

[This, of course, is not quite accurate because of the fallacy of measuring from the first to the last horizontal, but it's close enough for making a general point.]

But you know, it gets even better. What's the horizontal distance between the two middle Bakken Hartman wells above (3-28H and 10-28H)? Hold onto your hat. The horizontal distance between these two middle Bakken wells is 730 feet. Elsewhere in the Bakken, operators are spacing middle Bakken wells at 370 feet -- half the horizontal separation of the Hartman wells. If you don't believe me, check out the Hess wells in section 16-156-93, Alger oil field. Interesting, huh? The two middle Bakken Hartman wells above are spaced horizontally at 730 feet; Hess wells in the Alger oil field are spaced twice as closely, at 370 feet.

Note: the above example is 1280-acre spacing (it could also apply to 640-acre spacing). But note: additional wells (more than the 40) would be placed in the same geographic spacing unit with the "new" overlapping spacing units.

It Was Fun While It Lasted

From The Wall Street Journal opinion page:
President Obama may love America, but it would be nice if he also loved a few energy executives who could warn him that a serious public-policy glitch is about to blow up on his watch. Oil is overflowing U.S. storage facilities partly because of the 40-year-old export ban. The wave of bankruptcies and layoffs that many have predicted for the U.S. energy sector may finally be coming, but less because of the distressed price of oil than because producers will have to stop producing if they have nowhere to send their output.
Time To Move Somewhere Else

From The Wall Street Journal opinion page:
Chicago voters are left to pick between two unappealing candidates who are battling for the measly one-third of the electorate that hasn’t checked out completely. (Voter turnout in the first round was 34%).
On one hand, there’s Mr. Emanuel, who admittedly inherited a financial mess created from the second Richard Daley to hold the mayoral title, but who seems as hapless now as the day he took control. On the other hand, there’s Mr. Garcia, a man who has many progressive dreams and no idea how to pay for them, and whose best quality is simply that he isn’t Rahm Emanuel.
Local Republicans—the few of us willing to admit our party affiliation in public—couldn’t script a more depressing outlook if they tried.
In a city that is perilously close to bankruptcy, besieged by waves of violence and facing an uncertain future, the two factions fight it out over whether pension contracts should be extraordinarily generous or simply generous.
What will happen in the April runoff is anyone’s guess. The lesson for Chicago residents like me is that maybe it is time to move somewhere else.
Book Review: Chasing Lost Time
Jean Findlay
c. 2015, 351 pages

From The Wall Street Journal: A Proustian Character.  While translating “Remembrance of Things Past,” C.K. Scott Moncrieff was spying for the British in Mussolini’s Italy. From the review:
The supreme figure in the annals of modern translation is C(harles). K(enneth). Scott Moncrieff (1889-1930), the translator into English of Marcel Proust’s monumental seven-volume novel A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. When C.K. Scott Moncrieff began his translation in 1919, Proust, who died in 1922, was still correcting the typescript for “La Prisonnière,” the fifth volume in his vast novel. Scott Moncrieff began translating the novel without knowing how long the completed work would be. Roughly, it turned out, a million and a quarter words and more than 3,200 pages, the whole dealing with some 2,000 characters. Scott Moncrieff spent nine years translating Proust, while simultaneously working on translations of Stendhal, Pirandello and (from medieval Latin) the letters of Abelard and Heloise.
Translations, like lovers, the old saw has it, are either beautiful or faithful, but they cannot be both. In his translation of Proust, Scott Moncrieff went, without hesitation, for the beautiful. Jean Findlay, in her elegant and even-handed biography of Scott Moncrieff, who was her mother’s great-uncle, does not intricately examine the character of her ancestor’s translation. “Chasing Lost Time” does provide a single example of the difference between it and the more literal 2003 translation of “Swann’s Way” by Lydia Davis, one of the six translators who did a recent English version of Proust’s novel for Viking. Here is the last sentence in a paragraph rendered by Ms. Davis: “He [Charles Swann] brushed anxiously against all those dim bodies as if, among the phantoms of the dead, in the kingdom of darkness, he were searching for Eurydice.” Scott Moncrieff’s version of the same sentence runs: “Anxiously he explored every one of these vaguely seen shapes, as though among the phantoms of the dead, in the realms of darkness, he had been searching for a lost Eurydice.” Among other touches, Scott Moncrieff has added the penultimate word “lost,” which does not appear in Proust’s French text. This is known as taking liberties, and the question before any reader is whether they are liberties worth taking.
And more:
Scott Moncrieff seems to have backed into translation, which was to be his literary legacy. One day in a London bookshop he discovered a student copy of the Chanson de Roland and, despite not having Old French, set out to translate it into English. In doing so he discovered that the key to creating a translation that seems natural and even beautiful was assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds in non-rhyming syllables. The sound of a translated text, its cadence, he felt was of primary significance. Once he began his Proust translation, his regular procedure was to read aloud to friends his Englished version of the novel to get a feel for its sound. In this he would have agreed with Robert Frost, who wrote: “The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader.”
Near the end:
Of his own French, Scott Moncrieff remarked: “I know comparatively few French words and no grammar—so when I come to the most frightful howler, like the German musician on whose score a fly alighted, ‘I play him.’ ” Yet he turned out a translation of Proust that most Proustolaters—this reviewer among them—find unsurpassed and probably unsurpassable. The polyglot Joseph Conrad, a friend of Scott Moncrieff’s, held that he preferred his English translation to Proust’s original. Virginia Woolf wrote to Roger Fry that reading Scott Moncrieff’s translation was for her, in Ms. Findlay’s paraphrase, “akin to a sexual experience,” and she apparently lifted a number of his English phrasings for To the Lighthouse. George Painter, Proust’s best English biographer, called it “a masterly recreation of the original.”
A long, long time ago, in my original blog on the Bakken, I discussed the Moncrieff translation; it was a great post. But that post, like many other great posts was deleted in a moment of insanity back in 2009 or thereabouts. Nice to see the Moncrieff story surfacing again.

I kept a copy of Proust's novel by my bedside for many years, reading a little big every night, but never got through it. Maybe I will start again.

A Note to the Granddaughters

Trader Joe's opened February 20, a couple of Fridays ago, near here, in Southlake, TX. I rode my bike past the store on opening day but did not go in. There were three uniformed policemen directing traffic into and out of the area; temporary barriers were going up and coming down based on available parking in the two-story parking structure.

I did ride by the following day and did stop in for a few minutes. It looked like all the other Trader Joe's I've been in. It's about the same size as the one in Rancho Palos Verdes (on the coast), California, and the one in Rancho Palos Verdes (on Western Avenue) but if I recall correctly, significantly smaller than the new one in San Antonio, Texas, in Alamo Heights.

We stopped by again last night; it was the first time my wife saw it. She loved it; she looks forward to many return visits. It was not a bit busy last night -- a nice experience. I had forgotten how really "unique" their offerings are. It fills a niche that will not compete directly with (HEB) Central Market across the street or the new Fresh Market in the same general area. I had also forgotten how really competitive the prices are at Trader Joe's.

There are no police directing traffic at this particular Trader Joe's any more. By the way, the two-level parking garage is very subtle, and very much like what I see periodically in California. The upper level is slightly above street level, and the lower level is slightly below street level, and "open" to passersby. The store itself is exactly even with the second level. There appears to be more than ample parking.

Parking was an issue that the city required Trader Joe's to address when navigating the permitting process. 

Whiting Seeks Suitor -- Several Media Outlets Reporting -- March 7, 2015

This is the Financial Times link:
Whiting Petroleum, the largest oil producer in the Bakken shale of North Dakota, has hired bankers to seek potential buyers after coming under financial pressure due to plummeting crude prices, according to people familiar with the matter.
Its market capitalisation stood at $5.8 billion on Friday after a 50 per cent fall in its shares over the past 12 months.
Financial advisers have put together a book for Whiting, which they have started circulating to potentially interested parties, said one person with knowledge of the situation. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Whiting, which is based in Denver, was up for sale.
Before the news emerged, several energy bankers had told the Financial Times that Whiting was at risk of needing financial support as the economics of its operations had come under intense pressure as a result of the sharp drop in energy prices.
Regular readers are familiar with Whiting's current activity in the Bakken.

Another Derailment
CBC is reporting:
Several cars have caught fire after a Canadian National Railway train carrying crude oil derailed in northern Ontario, prompting officials to advise nearby residents to stay indoors and avoid consuming water from local sources.
The Transportation Safety Board said 30 to 40 cars derailed four kilometres southwest of Gogama, Ontario, and there were no initial reports of injuries.
Several cars have caught fire, police said, and others entered the Mattagami River System.
We Need To Find Them Jobs
FDR, December 8, 1941