Sunday, August 14, 2016

Beach Volleyball And NBC Ratings -- August 14, 2016

My wife is absolutely tired of all the beach volleyball on NBC's coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She asked why?

One word: ratings.

The Wall Street Journal six hours ago:  NBC’s Ratings for Rio Olympics Fall Behind London.
Thanks to Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles, the U.S. is on pace to take home the most gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics. When it comes to television ratings, however, NBC may have to settle for a bronze.
Although the Rio Games are dominating everything else on television, the performance is significantly below the 2012 Summer Games held in London, according to Nielsen. Through Saturday, Comcast Corp. ’s NBC is averaging 27.9 million for the first nine nights, down about 15.5% from the London Olympics, which finished with an average of 33 million viewers. The Games are also off from the 34.2 million viewers the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing averaged.
So far, NBC isn’t delivering the audience it promised advertisers who spent more than $1.2 billion for commercials during the 17-day event. Of particular concern is a roughly 30% drop among viewers age 18-34, a demographic advertisers pay a premium to reach.
Men don't watch the summer Olympics.

If anyone watches swimming and gymnastics, it's women.

So, what does NBC do? Televises late-night bikini-clad women to counter telenovelas. 

The Perfect Storm: China's Economy Slowing; Iran Sanctions Lifted; Price Of Oil Plummets; And Then, That Pesky Little Yemen War -- August 14, 206


August 15, 2016: the original post linked a very recent Breitbart article. The [London] Telegraph also had a similar analysis of Saudi Arabia back in February, 2016. Saudi Arabia is truly in dire straits. This was the headline: Saudi Arabia may go broke before before the US oil industry buckles.
The contract price of US crude oil for delivery in December 2020 is currently $62.05, implying a drastic change in the economic landscape for the Middle East and the petro-rentier states.
The Saudis took a huge gamble last November when they stopped supporting prices and opted instead to flood the market and drive out rivals, boosting their own output to 10.6m barrels a day (b/d) into the teeth of the downturn.
Bank of America says OPEC is now "effectively dissolved". The cartel might as well shut down its offices in Vienna to save money.
Saudi cannot survive on $60 oil. Look how far out we see $60 oil: out to 2020 -- that's four years from now (an important timeframe -- see original post). Historically, Saudi has budgeted for $100 oil, and can probably survive on $80 oil. But $60 oil? Nope. 

Original Post
The perfect storm.

Wow, this is interesting. What do you know? Posted today over at Breitbart.
With China’s economic crash driving U.S. oil prices down to $42 a barrel, Saudi Arabia is the oil-exporting nation suffering the worst economic decline.
The 15,000 members of the six branches of the Saudi royal family have been buying national support with massive social welfare spending. But with the oil price plunging by 60 percent, causing a massive budget deficit, the kingdom’s foreign exchange reserves could be wiped out in four years. [That's how long it takes some kids to finish high school.]
Most analysts have focused on Russia as suffering the worst impacts of the oil price crash. The value of Russia’s oil & gas production is approximately $350 billion per year; it accounts for 20 percent of Russia’s GDP, and equals two thirds of all exports. But even at current prices, Russia will still achieve a trade surplus of about three percent of GDP. As an oil exporter, Russia’s is uniquely self-sufficient and a military exporter.
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand:
Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas sector makes up 45 percent of GDP, funds about 80 of the government’s budget, and accounts for 90 percent of exports. Saudi Arabia’s 2014 budget spending was $294.3 billion, with a $14.4 billion deficit. The 2015 Saudi budget was cut down to $229.3 billion in spending, with an expected $38.6 billion deficit.
But in June with the average price of oil estimated to be $60 a barrel for the year, the IMF estimated that Saudi Arabia’s $745 billion GDP would fall to $649 billion and the nation would post a budget deficit of 20 percent of GDP, or $130 billion.
With international oil prices at $49 a barrel, the Saudi deficit will jump to about $163 billion and Saudi GDP will plunge by another $80 billion, to $570 billion.
And that pesky war:
The IMF also did not make any mention of the added cost of Saudi Arabia’s air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, and its war and invasion of Yemen.
$5000-traffic fines won't be the answer:
Unlike the Russians’ legendary ability to hunker down and rely on their own self sufficiency in food and production, Saudi Arabia imports 70 percent of its food and does not produce military hardware, cars, refrigerators, civil airplanes, ships, or most manufactured consumer and industrial goods. Saudi Arabia’s only real domestic industry is petrochemicals. [They can't even do new solar projects.]
The Saudi Arabian kingdom is in no position to implement severe austerity measures, like Russia. The vast majority of Saudis enjoy their standard of living due to government handouts. [It's one big rez.]
Saudi citizens tend to lack employable skills and are culturally not inclined to work. Of the 30 million residents, only 5.5 million work and 3 million work directly for the government. The small private sector tends to employ foreigners.
Much more at the link.

Not Looking Good For That Russian Female Swimmer: Tea Leaves

From Time:
Track’s global governing body banned all but one Russian track athlete from Rio after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency found rampant performance-enhancing drug use on the team. And on Saturday that lone [Russian] holdout, long jumper Darya Klishina, was also suspended.
And now we're waiting the outcome of the appeal by the Russian swimmer who took silver in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova had served a 16-month ban for doping. After Efimova competed in the 100-m breaststroke semifinals, she waved a “No. 1” finger in the air.
Efimova was suspended but "on appeal" was allowed to participate in the Rio Olympics. Her case is still being reviewed. My hunch is that if she loses the appeal, the finger wagging will be what "did her in."

If the IOC doesn't do the right thing ... well, it won't be the first time.

The Road To Texas: Even Before They Build It, They Are Coming -- August 14, 2016

I've said this before: I just love this country. It is absolutely incredible what free market capitalism can do.

The second thing I've said is that I would brag about wherever I lived. It just so happens that I live in north Texas and so I do a lot of bragging about north Texas.

But when we lived in Boston for four years, I loved it. If I had all the money in the world, I would have a home in Boston, or along North Shore, or at the tip of Cape Cod.

I love California; if I could afford it and had no family ties, I would move back in a heartbeat and a U-Haul.

I loved North Dakota when I was living there and I still do.

One of the best things about the Bakken boom for me was seeing exactly what a real boom was all about. I also got a feel for the cost of infrastructure. I got to see how challenging it was for counties to keep up with zoning. I got to feel the excitement.

I say all that as a preface to this: I don't think folks in Texas know how fast the DFW area is growing. And I know folks outside of Texas have no idea how fast the state is growing.

I saw that for fourteen days straight when I was taking the two older granddaughters to UT-Dallas for computer camp, soccer, and water polo. Sitting at the Toyota soccer field in Plano one day I happened to mention that to one of the fathers waiting for his son to get fitted for a new soccer uniform. He said that 1,000 people were moving into Dallas every day. I assume he meant the DFW area, but whether it was specifically Dallas or DFW in general, that's a lot of folks. One thousand people a day.

I hadn't given that much thought until today's Sunday edition of The Dallas Morning News. Splashed across the front page this headline: Collin County's traffic time bomb. With a huge photograph of a ten-lane divided highway with eight additional lanes of frontage road, the caption: Central Expressway carries more car than it was designed to handle. And some planners worry that Collin County is behind on preparing for a projected doubling of its population.

I didn't even know where Collin County was, but I guessed. And I was correct. It's north of Dallas. Due north. North of Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Frisco, and then McKinney. I may not have it exactly right, but close enough.

Anyway, enough of this for now. For those interested, here's the link:
About 780,000 people live in the county today. According to estimates, that will increase to 2.1 million by 2054. And it could top 3.4 million by 2070 or later.
Picturing that growth over so many decades may be difficult, but the county is already seeing problems.
Just ask anyone stuck on Central Expressway or the Dallas North Tollway during rush hour. Earlier this year, the North Central Texas Council of Governments forecasted that the amount of hours Collin County drivers would spend in congestion will more than triple in the next 25 years.
Another challenge is that there’s virtually no geographic, bureaucratic or political barriers to the continued push north. And the processes for planning and financing the necessary infrastructure can move much slower than the clip at which Collin grows.
“None of them call us; they just come,” regional transportation director Michael Morris said of the continued influx of people. “Collin County is trying to get out in front of that.”
Webb said it’s hard to articulate just how unprepared cities are for the type of growth that is happening in the county.
“I’m looking at things at a regional and county level and cities generally don’t do that,” he said. “They are looking at things in a cycle of five, 10 maybe 15 years. We’re trying to look at a cycle now of 40 to 50 years to really try to figure out where we need to be.”
Toyota was not even mentioned. North American Toyota headquarters has moved from California to Plano, but apparently, according to my wife, the Toyota move has not yet been completed. That alone is driving a lot of the growth in Plano, they say. 

Two Can Play This Game: Wyoming's War On Wind -- August 14, 2016

From The Los Angeles Times:
Not long after it became clear that the robust winds that blow down from the Rocky Mountains and across the sea of sagebrush here could produce plenty of profit in a world that wants more renewable energy, some of the more expansive minds in the Wyoming Legislature began entertaining a lofty question: Who owns all of that wind?
They concluded, quickly and conveniently, that Wyoming did.
Then, with great efficiency for a conservative state not traditionally tilted toward burdening the energy industry, they did something no other state has done, before or since: They taxed it.
In the four years since Wyoming began taxing power generated by wind turbines, it has collected a little less than $15 million in revenue.
No, that is not much money in a resource state rocked by the simultaneous decline in the prices of coal, oil and natural gas, a state trying to close a budget gap that could reach $500 million.
But now, as one of the world’s largest wind farms is about to begin construction here on a project aimed at providing clean electricity to nearly a million homes in California and the Southwest — potentially transforming this fossil fuel state into a major player in renewables — some powerful state lawmakers are looking to raise those taxes.
And some in the wind industry, which has long benefited from incentives and subsidies, say they are worried. The company that has spent nine years trying to build the wind project says higher taxes could further delay or even halt the plan.
“Just about every legislator we’ve met with asks us, ‘You tell us how much we can tax you before we put you out of business,’” said Bill Miller, chief executive of the Power Co. of Wyoming, which is planning the wind farm. “I just shake my head and say, ‘Zero.’

Tale Of Two States: One Bails Out The Nuclear Industry, The Other Keeps On Truckin' -- August 14, 2016

One of my top-visited pages: It's one of my favorite pages, with the little moving emoji. Whatever.

Now this, from Forbes:
On Thursday,a letter to Governor Jerry Brown of California, about how nuclear energy was essential to fighting global warming, was sent by Dr. James Hansen and the leading climate scientists in the world, plus a long list of environmentalists.
The letter was prompted by a recent announcement by Pacific Gas & Electric Company to close its well-running, low-carbon, low-cost nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon because of political pressure from the state of California and especially its Lt. Governor.
The widespread claim—that dozens of nuclear plants merit subsidies to protect the earth’s climate—has been borne out by reality. At the same time, tax subsidies for renewables, plus low natural gas prices, are making reactors uneconomic in the short term.
New York addressed this imbalance last week when it passed a true Clean Energy Standard that supports both renewables and nuclear. Passage came after all parties acknowledged carbon emissions would go up if even a single nuclear plant closed.
But, strangely, California doesn’t seem impressed by the threat of global warming, even after the state’s carbon emissions jumped when the San Onofre nuclear plant closed from a combination of technical and political reasons. That carbon-free electricity was replaced by natural gas and costly out-of-state purchases.
I love the way Forbes sees this.
California doesn’t seem impressed by the threat of global warming, even after the state’s carbon emissions jumped when the San Onofre nuclear plant closed from a combination of technical and political reasons. That carbon-free electricity was replaced by natural gas and costly out-of-state purchases. 
Dr Hansen should probably talk to to Bill Nye, "the science guy." They both seem to live in the same universe.

Next Up: 9,999,999

From Wellington, Australia, #8,888,888:

Not The "Clock Boy": Cornell University -- "Best Choice For Me" -- Jeremy, 12 Years Old -- Yes, From Texas -- August 14, 2016

My wife spotted this one. My wife, who thinks Texas schools are awful. She thinks Jeremy was home-schooled. From
Twelve-year-old Jeremy Shuler will attend Cornell University this fall.
The preteen genius, from Lubbock, Texas, plans to major in engineering, the same field in which both of his parents work.
"I was excited when I found out I got accepted to Cornell,” Shuler told Texas Tech Today. “It is the best choice for me.”

No, this is not "Clock Boy." "Clock Boy" will be going to Dubai Community College.

The Wart Hog Survives; From Weather.Com: Gulf Of Mexico Hurricane Drought Now The Longest In 130 Years -- August 14, 2016

This is really cool. The deal has been okay'ed! The USAF is finally getting its new tanker. From Bidness.etc:
The US Department of Defense finally granted the Air Force permission to sign two initial contracts with Boeing Co. Thanks to this contract, the airplane manufacturer will start the production of its KC-46 military tanker aircraft. The agreement is expected to be valued at $2.8 billion under which the aircraft manufacturer would manufacture 19 KC-46 aircraft.
And look at this:
The current news would mean a big achievement for Boeing, as its troubled KC-46 tanker project has faced long delays due to technical issues. With the company resolving all its issues last month and conducting a successful refueling test flight for the A-10 Warthog military aircraft, Boeing can now look ahead to initiate full production of the aircraft once it signs the agreement with the US Air Force.
I don't know how accurate this remains, from wiki:
On 23 April 2014, the USAF announced that the KC-46 Pegasus will be based at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas. The base will start receiving the first of 36 tankers in 2016. The KC-135 Stratotanker is currently stationed at this base.
McConnell AFB was chosen because it had low construction costs and it is in a location with a high demand for air refueling. Up to 10 operating bases are to be chosen for the KC-46 fleet. Pegasus crews will be trained at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Altus AFB was also chosen for its limited construction needs and for other training programs for the C-17 Globemaster and KC-135 already at the base.
On 29 October 2015, the USAF announced that Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, was chosen as the preferred alternative for the first Reserve-led KC-46A Pegasus main operating base.
The KC-46As will begin arriving at Seymour Johnson in fiscal year 2019. Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts; and Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana, were named as the reasonable alternatives. The Air Force plans to begin the Environmental Impact Analysis Process (EIAP). Once the requirements of the EIAP are complete, the Air Force will make its final basing decision.
My hunch is that the EIAP will favor the state with the best "political" incentives.

Florida Kids Could Grow Up Never Seeing A Hurricane

The old Patrick Kennedy: our kids will grow up never seeing snow.

The new Patrick Kennedy: some Florida kids will grow up never having seen a hurricane. Except on the History Channel. 

This is truly incredible. The story was posted by a couple of weeks ago.

No hurricanes have entered or developed in the Gulf of Mexico since September 2013, a stretch of well over 1,000 days. This streak is now the longest on record, dating to the late 1800s. The last hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico was Hurricane Ingrid, which made landfall in northeast Mexico in September 2013.

For the record: hurricanes gain their energy from the warm waters of the Atlantic. Warm waters. Warm.

Warning! Higher Math Involved

From ClimateDepot. This really is quite incredible. But this, too, won't make the mainstream media because "higher math" is involved:
Antartica is one of the most ice-covered locations in the world, but it is also one of the world’s largest land masses. Previous estimates by researchers placed the level of uncovered land in Antartica at about 1%. However, a new survey in part by NASA shows that this estimate was rather generous and the continent is covered in a lot more ice than previously thought.
Researchers from Cryosphere have shown that only.18 percent of the entire continent is not covered by ice and snow, which is surprisingly low. With this new figure, researchers will monitor this survey over time to see the effects of climate change and global warming.

Remember the panic over Brexit just a few weeks ago? Britain will move to the end of the queue -- so sayeth the president. It now turns out that the "soonest" Britain can exit is ... drum roll ... late 2019.

From The Region That Bans Fracking, Bans New Natural Gas Pipelines
"1,000s" Without Power
Tri-State Blackout

CBS Local is reporting:
As of 6:30 Sunday, about 723 Con Edison customers were without power. JCP&L reported more than 1,000 customers remained in the dark.
In Orange and Rockland counties, about 708 were still without power, and PSEG Long Island said 282 customers were still experiencing outages. PSE&G in New Jersey said more than 574 customers were still affected.
On Saturday, Con Edison crews worked to restore electricity at West 146th Street in Harlem after a primary feeder cable failed during a record-setting demand for power.
From CBS New York:
However, that can’t come soon enough for New Yorkers who lost power, as there are more than 4,000 outages for New York City and Westchester County, according to Con Edison.
The heat is putting a big strain on the power supply.
In Jackson Heights, Queens, residents escaped their hot, dark homes and jammed into a city bus that had air conditioning on high.
From BreakingNews:
New York City and Westchester County Con Edison customers urged to conserve energy after state power grid pushed to limit.
They need to turn on the wind towers.

You know, why didn't I think of that? They need to install electric motors on wind towers to keep them turning when the wind dies down.

A Three-Fer -- This Doesn't Happen Often -- August 14, 2016

A three-fer. This doesn't happen often:
  • a story about the Bakken
  • a photograph taken outside of Williston in The Washington Post 
  • a story that supports the thesis that wind/solar will drive natural gas demand
First things first.

At the link, note the photograph. The story was published in The Washington Post. Apparently the only file photos of the Bakken that The Post has were taken in the winter. LOL.

But more importantly, I'm curious if any Williston reader can identify the general location where the photo was taken. There are buttes in the Williston area, and, if indeed this photograph was taken near Boomtown, USA, this appears southwest of Williston, on the way to Fairview. There is a CBR terminal out in that area.

But now, the real reason for posting this story -- sent to me by a reader, thank you very much.

This story is all about the need for dispatchable energy in light of government-mandated solar and wind energy.
We’re at a time of deeply ambitious plans for clean energy growth. Two of the U.S.’s largest states by population, California and New York, have both mandated that power companies get fully 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030.
Only, there’s a problem: Because of the particular nature of clean energy sources like solar and wind, you can’t simply add them to the grid in large volumes and think that’s the end of the story. Rather, because these sources of electricity generation are “intermittent” — solar fluctuates with weather and the daily cycle, wind fluctuates with the wind — there has to be some means of continuing to provide electricity even when they go dark. And the more renewables you have, the bigger this problem can be.
"The particular nature of ..." LOL. Yes, the "particular nature of wind and solar" --- well, we will get to that in a moment. In fact, now.

Note: the mainstream media now refers to wind and solar energy as "intermittent" energy -- something we've been doing for quite some time.

Undependable would be another word for wind and solar energy. As well as expensive, unnecessary, fryers, slicers and dicers.

The writers consider all this "ironic":
Now, a new study suggests that at least so far, solving that problem has ironically involved more fossil fuels — and more particularly, installing a large number of fast-ramping natural gas plants, which can fill in quickly whenever renewable generation slips.
The writers also consider this "surprising":
In the study, the researchers took a broad look at the erection of wind, solar, and other renewable energy plants (not including large hydropower or biomass projects) across 26 countries that are members of an international council known as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development over the period between the year 1990 and 2013. And they found a surprisingly tight relationship between renewables on the one hand, and gas on the other.
And as wind and solar increases, fossil fuel demand increases slightly faster (and remember, there was already a lot of fossil fuel in place; it was wind and solar that was "new"):
“All other things equal, a 1% percent increase in the share of fast reacting fossil technologies is associated with a 0.88% percent increase in renewable generation capacity in the long term,” the study reports. Again, this is over 26 separate countries, and more than two decades.
So, if wind and solar increase by less than 1%, the fossil fuel required to back it up appears to increase by 1%.

And for investors, it's an open book test:
The type of “fast-reacting fossil technologies” being referred to here is natural gas plants that fire up quickly. For example, General Electric and EDF Energy currently feature a natural gas plant in France that “is capable of reaching full power in less than 30 minutes.” Full power, in this case, means rapidly adding over 600 megawatts, or million watts, of electricity to the grid.
I guess it's a two-fer for General Electric: building wind farms and natural gas plants to back them up.  An open-book test for investors.

I know it doesn't work quite this way, but the "low-information crowd" won't catch on for awhile, but the "rule of thumb": when I see another 500-megawatt wind farm going up somewhere, I know that another 568-megawattt natural gas plant is going up somewhere. 

Note: this is not an investment site. Do not make any investment, financial, travel, job, or relationship decisions based on what you read here. For the record, some time in the last six months I started buying shares in GE and will accumulate shares in GE on a regular basis, and will leave those shares to our two daughters and their children. 

And, For The Record ... Bernie Sanders Buys His Third Home
A "Modest" Lakefront Summer Home

Even Vanity Fair saw the hypocrisy in this story.

Bernie Sanders now has one thing in common with the millionaires and billionaires and other 1 percenters he so frequently attacked on the campaign trail: he now owns his very own summer home. Vermont magazine Seven Days reported Tuesday that the 74-year-old senator and his wife, Jane Sanders, have purchased a four-bedroom house on the shore of Lake Champlain for roughly $600,000. Jane told Seven Days that they had recently sold a house in Maine that had belonged to her family since the 1900s, and used the proceeds to purchase the new property, which is located in North Hero (population 803, as of the 2010 census). With this purchase, Sanders now owns at least three houses, the others being in Burlington, VT, and Capitol Hill in D.C. Sanders, an outspoken advocate for the working class who spent his 2016 presidential primary campaign railing against income inequality, remains one of the poorer members of Congress, and his net worth is among the lowest in the Senate.
The writer of the article appears to be a lowly-paid journalist who voted for Bernie and now feels duped.

So many story lines:
  • modest...lakefront ---- my wife, a Hillary supporter -- says there is no such thing as a "modest lakefront summer home"
  • "at least three homes" -- because the young journalist didn't want to do all the work it might have taken -- if it was even possible -- to determine how many houses Dick Bernie and Jane own
  • Bernie's net worth among the lowest in the Senate; imagine how the other senators are doing
  • Jane says she sold a house that had been in the family since the 1900s -- oh, give me a break -- in the 1900s, up in Vermont? It was a lean-to...
  • carbon footprint -- just getting there in the SUV every weekend; and then the utilities....
  • you can go to Zillow and see that most houses in the area are between $195K and $520K (making the $600K "modest" lakefront home somewhat pricier than the average); although there are homes from $1.5 million to $3.0 million on some lake front areas
  • among the one-percenters; laughing all the way to the bank 
  • Vanity Fair: famous for its photo-journalism was unable to obtain a photograph of this "modest" lakefront summer home
  • no doubt, there is a wall around this home, also