Saturday, October 31, 2015

Weekend Update On Global Warming: Antarctic Ice Thickening; Tons Of Snow To Dump On Mt Ranier -- Kennedy Clan Notified; Silly Season In New Hampshire -- October 31, 2015

I was ready to head for bed but I felt compelled to provide a "shout-out" to the Kennedy clan in Boston that if they want to see snow, they might want to book a flight out west. IceAgeNow is reporting that they're expecting tons of snow on Mt Ranier overnight:
Four meters of snow in just four days!
As of yesterday morning, NOAA was predicting between 122 and 162 inches of snow (10 to 13½ FEET!) on Mt. Rainier at higher elevations.
Combined with 65 mph winds and temperatures in the 20-30 degree Fahrenheit range, wind chills will drop to near zero Fahrenheit.
Farther north, 10,000-foot Mt. Baker was forecast to get 70 inches (almost 2 meters) of snow in the next 3 days.
Snow levels will start high but will drop to as low as 4,000-feet by Sunday.
As most folks know, the Kennedy clan told their grandchildren back in the 20th century, that they might not ever see snow again. For the Kennedy clan, Mt Ranier is in the United States, in Washington. State. Not DC.

Cold, too.
NASA: Antarctic Ice Is Getting Thicker
No Explanation For The Incredibly, Horrendous Rise In Sea Levels (0.3 Millimeter/Year)

By the way, speaking of cold, it turns out that the Antarctic is not melting. [This is not news for regular readers of the blog; this is old news. But this is about as definitive as it gets.]

NASA is reporting: the Antarctic is getting thicker, not thinner. NASA is also reporting they have no explanation for the "fact" that the earth's seas are rising ... 0.27 mm per year.

Yes, you read that correctly: the earth's seas, according to NASA:
  • are rising about  0.30 mm per year; and,
  • they have no explanation for this incredibly, horrendous rise.
At this rate, 100 years from now, the seas will have risen 30 mm = 3 cm = 1.18 inch.

Yup, 1.18 inch. How about if  everyone who lives on the beach just step(s) back 1.18 inch when building new structures?

Memo to self: remember to check the popsickle stick rulers I placed in the beach last summer next time I get to southern California. 

Okay, So It's Getting Colder
Let's Keystone Everything -- New Hampshire


January 5, 2016: Massachusetts lawmakers are told there is no chance in hell that the state will meet state-mandated global warming emissions controls. The Boston Globe reports:
State officials say they hope to meet the law’s requirements, but they say it will be far easier if lawmakers help out by passing a bill that would compel utilities to sign long-term contracts to buy hydroelectric power from Canada.
Environmental advocates insist the state has fallen behind and needs a major course correction — not just action on the hydro plan — to meet the law’s requirements. They also note that even if lawmakers pass a hydroelectric bill, the expensive power lines might never get built. They would probably pass through New Hampshire, where the proposal remains highly controversial.
New England does not want
  • more transmission lines from Canada's hydroelectric plants;
  • more natural gas pipelines
  • more CBR; or,
  • wind turbines off-shore.
That pretty much leaves the Henry-David-Thoreau-wood-burning stoves used before the Civil War, and wood chips from South Carolina. 

Original Post
Regular readers know this story. New England doesn't want the pipelines that would bring them natural gas to heat their homes during the winter. There was talk of buying Canadian hydroelectricity but that would require high voltage transmission lines, which I guess they are calling the "Northern Pass."

But modern-day Henry David Thoreaus (Jerry Curran and Catherine Corkery) don't want those transmission lines -- even if they are buried. The Concord Monitor is reporting this nonsense.

Only in America.

Hey, let's come back next spring and see how this all works out.

Shock And Awe? Probably Not

Is it just me, but does sending 50 combat troops to the Mideast to take on ISIS sound like something you would do if you were president?

Random Note On Dividends; Random Note On New Ethanol Plant In Iowa -- October 31, 2015

Update on dividends. I think everyone has wondered when the majro oil companies would start cutting dividends. Finally, a major oil company is cutting its dividend and by a huge amount: from 21 cents to 5 cents a share -- Marathon (MRO) announced the cut. On the other hand:
Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest oil explorer, declared a quarterly dividend on Wednesday that will raise the 2015 payout for the 33rd straight year.
Within hours of Exxon’s announcement, Chevron Corp. disclosed a payout that will boost its annual remittance for a 28th straight year.
Oil producers as diverse as Britain’s BP Plc, Norway’s Statoil ASA, and ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroleum Corp. of the U.S. are following the same track, maintaining or lifting dividends while curtailing other investments. Dividends have been viewed as sacrosanct because yield-hungry investors rely on oil stocks to generate income.
It really is quite impressive: in 2010, XOM paid 44 cents quarterly; the company is currently paying 73 cents.

Ethanol Production

Note: in reply to the reader who sent me this story, I correct my reply. I mid-read; this ethanol plant is producing ethanol for feedstock for a purpose other than fuel

A reader sent me this story from Forbes:
  • DuPont, the chemicals company based in Wilmington, Del., has begun operations at one of the world’s first commercial-scale advanced biorefineries in central Iowa.
  • The $225 million plant produces cellulosic ethanol from corn husks – the non-kernel parts of corn plants.
  • The cellulosic ethanol plant is designed to produce 30 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol annually but is not expected to operate at full capacity until 2016. The core biofuels technology involved is a bacteria similar to what is used to distill tequila. DuPont has inked a deal to sell the cellulosic ethanol produced at the plant to Procter & Gamble, which plans to use it to make laundry detergent.
Note: this is not the part of the corn husk we eat

However, not knowing anything about ethanol plants, I was curious how this compared with plants that use corn.

Remember the Torrington, WY, plant we talked about earlier this year. That plant used 3.5 million bushes of corn or about 90,000 dry tons. Considered relatively inefficient, it produced 12 million gallons annually. 12 million gallons / 90,000 dry tons = 134 gallons / ton.

The DuPont plant in Iowa: 375,000 dry tons to produce 30 million gallons of ethanol. 30 million gallons / 375,000 dry tons = 80 gallons / ton.

This compares to two other new cellulosic ethanol plants, one in Emmetsburg, IA (20 million gallons of celluosic ethanol annually) and the ohter in Hugoton, KS (25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually).

I am way beyond my comfort zone here; my numbers and calculations may be way off. If this is important to you, go to the source and do your own math.

By the way, that Torrington, WY, plant mentioned above? It is closing; it was found to be not economically feasible once the state tax credit expired. Whatever.

Notes to the Granddaughters

Dots to connect some day:
  • Birdman, the movie
  • "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" -- Raymond Carver
  • Diotima
  • Socrates
  • Plato's The Symposium
  • The Waves, Virginia Woolf

Why I Started Going To McDonald's Instead Of Starbucks For My Coffee -- October 31, 2015; Halloween: A Good Day To Be Thinking About Demons


Later, 12:13 p.m. Cenral Time: two seniors, grandparents, no doubt, have just sat down across from me in McDonald's with their grandson (no doubt), who appears to be about 12 years old. They have all ordered a pancake and sausage breakfast.

When I came in, a bit after 11:00 a.m., I also ordered off the breakfast menu. Very interesting.

Saturday mornings in north Texas belong to "other" breakfast restaurants, but we seldom go any more: the lines are way too long, and the waits are upwards of 90 minutes. Yes, the Texas breakfasts are that good. But now McDonald's has added a new wrinkle.

Something tells me that we will be reading articles at the end of this business quarter about the decision made by McDonald's to offer breakfast all day long.

It's very possible someone is going to look like a genius.

It would have been fun to sit in on the focus groups and the PowerPoint Presentations when the idea of "all-day breakfast" was being pitched at McDonald's.

Original Post 

Okay, this makes my day.

I slept in a bit late this morning. I did some early morning blogging at home, but wanted to go out for coffee.

I'm now sitting in McDonald's -- it's a short bike ride -- and the north Texas torrential rains have dissipated, making it a beautiful day, albeit a bit cool for an  old man riding a bicycle in cut-offs and a blue Hawaiian shirt. But I digress.

I find myself in McDonald's because I quit going to Starbucks about four months ago when Starbucks announced a fairly healthy increase in the price of their coffee. So, on principle alone, I won't go to Starbucks except when there are no reasonable alternatives.

So, here I am -- having just sat down, and almost ready to sip my McDonald's coffee, but I have to wait -- it is wait too hot. But I can nibble on the hash brown now that McDonald's serves breakfast all day long. The hash brown is on the dollar menu, I think. The coffee is 50 cents for seniors, but I think they generally charge me full price -- $1.00 -- I never quibble. The service is outstanding at this particular McDonalds, as it is at the other McDonald's at the other end of the street that I also visit periodically -- the thing they both have in common: the managers are women and Hispanic. But I digress.

But here I am -- having just sat down, and almost read to sip my McDonald's coffee, so I set the cup down and log on. Wi-fi in McDonald's comes on immediately. Sip of coffee.

I check my mail. First e-mail comes from my daughter who sent me this story, saying it reminded her of me: Why I Started Going To McDonald's Instead of Starbucks For My Coffee.

I haven't read the article yet. After I do, I might come back and complete this post. Or not.


It was a short article. I'm back. The writer had three reasons: cost, convenience, and calories. Okay, the third "c" was a stretch: it had to do with McDonald's much more expansive menu which I alluded to above.

Cost, of course, is a no brainer.

That second one, convenience is very, very interesting. At this time of day, the line at Starbucks would be nearly out the door and it would be several minutes of waiting, which in the big scheme of things never bothered me. I read a book while standing in line. But if one has a life and needs to be somewhere, McDonald's will get you there faster.

The writer mentions that it is not uncommon for orders -- especially food orders -- to be mixed up at Starbucks. Yes, that is a problem at the busier Starbucks at the busier times. I have experienced it more times than I care to remember.

But the biggest reason I no longer go to Starbucks (now that price / principle have been addressed) is I could never get any work done there or any reading done there (except while standing in line). I would always try to find a comfortable couch or easy chair and invariably everyone around me would want to talk politics (in Massachusetts) or the housing market (in Grapevine, in the DFW metroplex).

Now I can blog and still have some time to read. The books in front of me today: The Wooden Horse by Keld Zeruneith; and, Memoirs of Hecate County, by Edmund Wilson.

Notes To The Granddaughters

This is really, really cool. I am reading a most difficult book, The Daemon Knows, Harold Bloom, c. 2015. This is Harold Bloom's most recent, and perhaps his last (except for what his estate publishes posthumously). On the surface it is a re-hash of all he has written before, simply packaged with a different theme. It doesn't take long for someone who didn't study literature in an Ivy League college to figure out what Bloom means by "daemon" but it's amazing how difficult it is to explain what he's trying to say.

I read bits and pieces of it periodically. It's too challenging to read more than a few pages at a time every few days or so.

I am also re-reading Zeruneith's The Wooden Horse, and today, coincidentally, I connect the background of Bloom's "daemon" to its origin. The following is taking out of context, so it might be hard to understand but the message is there. From page 372, Aeschylus' Orestes:
In particular, this innocence appears when the chorus resists relating its knowledge of the daimon curse that has ravaged the Atreid family to Kassandra's prophesies in which she gathers together and presents the sins of the past and the horrific deeds to come. In short, the chorus refuses in its own present to couple the past and the future together. That this inevitable sequence of events occurs completely on it own means that hte chorus' insight becomes its fate. It is gradually forced to look the facts in the face, which is why the hmn on the doctrine of suffering assumes a tone of tragicirony, because when it utters these words, the chorus has not yet learned this lesson.
Later in the book, the author notes that Plato argues that Socrates received his knowledge from the gods. Socrates, was, in other words, a daemonic man, page 508.

Later, page 509, daemonic refers to a human being who, touched by the divine (as Odysseus was by Athene), becomes incomprehensible to those around him. And it is very much the case for Socrates that the daimonic aspect applies to his doctrine, works, and life.

The section concludes with a paragraph that out of context will be very hard to understand, but it's worth posting for the archives:
Socrates/Plato takes yet another step in the dialogue's etymological explanation of the content of the words heros and eros, which Socrates/Plato believes have the same roots. His point is that heroes are demigods (either on the paternal or maternal side), who know how to ask questions (erotan, Cr. 398 d) and thus constitute a class of seekers of wisdom. 
A syllogism connecting these statements might be:
  • Socrates is a good man, so he is a daemon
  • he has achieved this goodness by questioning, that is to say by the virtue of eros
  • which makes him into a heros, a demigod, placed as a daimonic mediator between heaven and earth.


I am adding this on August 28, 2016.

The word daemon, introduced to me by Harold Bloom, has always fascinated me. Today while reading Leon Edel's introduction to The Complete Notebooks of Henry James: The Authoritative and Definitive Edition, c. 1987, this passage:
The Demon of Patience: There came a moment in James's notebooks when he began to speak of his "good angel" and to invoke his attendant Genius, using the word in its original Greek sense as a protecting spirit. The Greeks called such tutelary spirits δαίμων -- daimon -- and the poets described them as dwelling on earth, unseen by mortals, ministers of the gods, guardians of men and justice.
Daimons, the Greek philosophers taught, were allotted from birth and for life.

Henry James accepted this Graeco-Roman mythology for himself, as we can read in a note he sets down while staying at the Coronado Beach Hotel in California in 1905:
I sit here after long weeks ... in front of my arrears ... and can only invoke my familiar demon of patience, who always comes, doesn't he?
Wow, for me a better understand of daimon, and the mention of the Coronado Beach Hotel takes me back to the first time ever that I visited San Diego. Hmmm.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Roberta Flack

Rigzone Provides Update On Global Oil Production -- October 31, 2015

Rigzone is reporting:
After years of declining output, major oil companies have ramped up crude production this year, just as they are being battered by a plunge in prices due to already excessive supplies. Executives have taken pride in seeing billions worth of investments in new technologies and new fields in places such as Brazil, the North Sea and West Africa kick in and boost output.
Some excerpts from the article:
According to Reuters calculations, oil production from nine of the world's largest oil and gas producers rose a combined 8 percent in the first nine months of the year to over 10 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time since 2013.

The figures include Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly-traded oil company, which said on Friday its production leapt 10 percent over the nine months to 2.3 million bpd, but that its third-quarter profit nearly halved.

France's Total saw a 21 percent increase in oil output in the nine-month period to 1.232 million barrels per day on the back of start-ups and ramp-ups including the CLOV project in Angola and the West Franklin Phase 2 in the UK North Sea.

Global oil output this year is expected to rise by a record 2.4 million bpd from 2014, driven mainly by U.S. shale oil output, Iraq production and Brazil, according to Wood Mackenzie. The growth outstrips an estimated increase in demand of nearly 1.5 million bpd, it said.

But it is not only new production. Oil companies have in recent years invested in technology to squeeze the maximum out of existing fields. The natural decline rate of oil fields operated by Shell decreased to 3 percent per year in 2015 from 4.5 to 5 percent several years ago, according to Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry.
I remember some years ago -- or more accurately, many, many years ago when I read annual reports very closely, companies like XOM were always concerned about increasing production year-over-year.

How things have changed. 

Just How Bad Is It? ObamaCare Premiums In Tennessee Up 36%; Iowa Up 29% -- NY Times -- October 31, 2015

While reading this, remember that nearly half of all non-profit healthcare co-ops created under ObamaCare in 2011 have collapsed due to inadequate Democratic funding. 

There is no possible way to spin this and The New York Times does not:
In Tennessee, the state insurance commissioner approved a 36 percent rate increase for the largest health insurer in the state’s individual marketplace. In Iowa, the commissioner approved rate increases averaging 29 percent for the state’s dominant insurer.
Health insurance consumers logging into on Sunday for the first day of the Affordable Care Act’s third open enrollment season may be in for sticker shock, unless they are willing to shop around. Federal officials acknowledged on Friday that many people would need to pick new plans to avoid substantial increases in premiums.
Wow. 36%. 39%.

Those are just the premiums. And what do these premiums get you? $5,000 deductibles.
“It really shocks me to see these plans with $5,000 deductibles,” Belinda Greb, 56, of Vida, OR, said in an interview. “It becomes an area of stress as opposed to making me feel secure.”
Federal subsidies for low- and moderate-income consumers will keep pace with premiums for a benchmark plan, the second-lowest-cost “silver” plan, Mr. Frank said, and consumers who choose that plan can protect themselves and their wallets.
These, of course, would be the policies that provide the least benefits, the least coverage, the highest deductibles. 

But again, the premiums are the least of their problems, and just the start of their problems.
Imagine thinking you have health care insurance and then finding out you have $5,000 of out-of-pocket deductibles before the benefits kick in.  

The GOP is so fortunate it did not defund ObamaCare. 

The article simply gets worse and worse as it goes one:
Ms. Greb said she was too upset to finish a letter she got recently from her insurer, Moda Health, that said her “bronze” health plan, for which she pays $213 a month after a subsidy of $175, would not be offered through the exchange in 2016.
The company offered her a similar plan that would cost $265 a month if her subsidy stays the same.
The new plan recommended by Moda has a deductible, the amount she must pay for care before the insurance begins to pay, of $5,500, up from $4,250 in her current plan, she said. “People are putting off care because of the expense.”
And insurers are dropping out resulting in less competition, higher premiums and higher deductibles:
But, an administration report said Friday, only one insurer is offering coverage in the marketplace in Wyoming, and consumers have a choice of just two insurers in Alaska, Hawaii, Oklahoma, South Dakota and West Virginia. And that data, current as of Oct. 19, did not reflect the recent collapse of nonprofit insurance cooperatives in South Carolina and Utah.
And this is from The New York Times.

Nearly half of all non-profit healthcare co-ops created under ObamaCare in 2011 have collapsed due to inadequate Democratic funding.