Saturday, November 19, 2016

Just A Bit Of Hemingway Trivia -- And The Williston, ND, Connection -- November 19, 2016


November 20, 2016: Reason #1 why I love to blog! Feedback from readers; "first source" information. A reader wrote to tell me that Teddy Jo Paulson, mentioned below, graduated from WHS in 1954. The reader lives outside of North Dakota but her grandparents homesteaded in two of the townships mentioned often in the Bakken.
Original Post
1959: "the dangerous summer" -- Pamplona -- bull-fighting -- Ernest Hemingway.

Sources suggest Teddy Jo Paulson graduated from Williston, ND, high school, the previous year, 1958 (1954, see update above).

From Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir, A. E. Hoetchner, first published in 1966.

Anyone Who Had A Heart

Anyone Who Had A Heart, Cilla Black

DAPL Effect On CBR To East Coast Refineries -- November 19, 2016

Active rigs:

Active Rigs3964185184185

DAPL, CBR, East Coast Refineries, And All That Jazz
Platts: Bakken discounts deepen as competition heats up. Data points:
  • Bakken Blend differentials at terminals close to the wellheads: lowest assessment since December, 2015
  • Bakken Blend differentials closed at: the average of the NYMEX light sweet crude oil contract (WTI CMA) minus $6.25 / bbl
  • factors for that discount
  • a very, very tight Brent/WTI spread -- now 42 cents/bbl; had been about $2/bbl all summer; but, also
  • the return of Louisiana Light Sweet to the midwest market may also be having an impact
  • one trader suggested there was an increase in volumes of LLS heading up the Capline pipeline
  • but Platts: LSS is still too expensive; at least compared to the Bakken; Platts assesses LSS at WTI plus $1.15/bbl
  • LSS: the "champagne of crudes" -- but still, it's unclear the appeal for LSS when Bakken crude, also very, very, is so incredibly cheap
So, take a breath. Re-read the bullets above if still not sure what is being said. Pressing on. Currently:
LSS cracking margins in the Midwest: $3.30/bbl
  • Bakken cracking margins: $6.37/bbl 
  • the margin has grown steadily since August
  • Platts: margin data reflects the difference between a crude's netback and its spot price
  • netbacks are based on crude yields, calculated by proprietary formulas (see linked article)
  • the cost of getting Bakken to this market is $3.48/bbl, compared to just $1.02 for LLS
  • Comments from the linked article:
  • too early to tell what might be happening and what it means in the future
  • recent pipeline reversals between Texas and Louisiana mean more Permian crudes are now capable of reaching Louisiana refineries
  • if price accordingly, Permian oil could displace incremental volumes of LLS from its home market
What does this mean for East Coast refineries, DAPL, Bakken CBR?
  • with current pipeline capacity out of ND typically full, the marginal Bakken bbl often gets to market via CBR; this cost has traditionally set the floor for Bakken's discount to WTI
  • part of the recent downturn in Bakken could be chalked up to an increase in CBR oil to the US Atlantic Coast, as Bakken cracking margins there are AGAIN in the black
  • how long with that last (an increase in CBR out of ND)? depends on DAPL
  • LINEFILL for the DAPL could BOOST Bakken differentials, POTENTIALLY  MAKING THE GRADE TOO EXPENSIVE TO RAIL EAST -- however, Platts: the devil is in the details
  • traders have pegged DAPL tariffs between $4.50 and $5.50/bbl for uncommitted shippers between ND and Patoka, IL; a further $6.50/bbl would be needed to bring the crude south from Patoka, IL, to Nederland, TX
  • if this $11 - $12/bbl pipeline estimated cost were to pan out, it would be more expensive than the $10.20 Platts assumes in its Bakken USAC rail-based netback calculation
Bottom line: your guess on the effect of DAPL on CBR is as good as mine.

The Literature Page

From The New York Review of Books, "The Long Distance Reader," a review of Robert Gottlieb's Avid Reader, c. 2016.  

The Next Big Thing

It was less than a week ago that I suggested that among the "next big things" for entrepreneurs will be the private-public partnership of laboratories testing current and prospective employees for THC (marijuana  use). Entrepreneurs might also find some ideas over at Outrun Change. Pretty amazing. And it's all just beginning.

On a separate note, it will be interesting how a new administration will address this issue, where state laws are clearly in violation of federal laws.

The Political Page

I remain fascinated by the 2016 presidential election. This is an incredibly interesting article over at Indy100, on so many levels: a Clinton aide explains why Hillary lost. Surprisingly, it seems to be "right-on-target." If the Clinton understood the issue, the question remains, how or why they were unable to address the issue appropriately. In hindsight, one can come up with answers to that question. 

EV Sales -- FWIW -- Only For The Archives -- November 19, 2016

A reader sent me the link to this article asking whether plug-in EVs are still relevant?

My reply to the reader:
I really liked this article. About 2/3rds of the way through, I had to check the source of this article. I generally try to read an article before knowing where it was printed -- to try to keep an open mind.

But as I got about 2/3rds of the way through, I knew this was probably not published by Breitbart. LOL.

The one paragraph in that very long article that stood out:
Regardless what the energy picture is in the U.S. therefore, the rest of the global market is pushing ahead on an endeavor that now sees the U.S. in third place globally, though it started as the leader.
The endeavor: electrified car agenda. The leaders, globally: Europe and Asia. In third place: America.

I guess I could write a lot, and I thought about writing a lot at the blog regarding the US EV story, but for me the bottom line is this: before the 2016 election, the plug-in EV story was becoming irrelevant with the glut of gasoline / oil. With the results of the 2016 election, the US plug-in EV story has become irrelevant.

Years ago, at Barnes and Noble, among the computer-oriented periodicals, the breakdown was about 99% PC-related; it was hard to find a magazine devoted to Apple. Almost every one of those PC-related magazines has now disappeared; the PC is pretty much irrelevant as far as "excitement" and "innovation" is concerned. The computer-oriented periodicals at Barnes and Noble are now almost all about Apple, the last time I looked, several months ago, at least here in north Texas.

I assume the same for EVs.
The meme/trope that EVs are environmentally better than conventional gasoline ICE-powered automobiles is simply untrue. 

It will be interesting to see US EV industry in 2018.

The Literature Page

I've long forgotten how I first stumbled across Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Nigel Nicolson, by their son Nigel, c. 1973.

I had forgotten the year it was published. I graduated from college that year. Two or three years earlier I had met the "love of my life." We talked of marriage but our relationship did not survive the geographic separation. I do not recall if she recommended the book to me or whether it was something she said to me that led me to the book some years later.

I've only read the book once, but it had a great influence on my subsequent reading, and perhaps subconsciously on subsequent relationships.

That period of my "literary life" was brought back to me with an essay in this week's edition of London Review of Books: "A Little Talk in Downing Street," by Bee Wilson, after her reading of the new book by Stefan Buczacki, My Darling Mr Asquith: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Venetia Stanley, 464 pages, released in April, 2016.

The essay was a delight to read. One photograph accompanied the essay, a photo of Margo Asquith and Venetia Stanley at the Scott-Sackville trial, 1913.

It took a bit of work to find details of the Scott-Sackville trial.

The essay begins:
How do you sign off an email? How, when writing to someone who is more than an acquaintance and less than an intimate, do you show that you mean well without being intrusively familiar?
There is no common scale to draw on. You can make someone uncomfortable by sending them ‘xox’ in a work email when all they expected was a ‘cheers’.
A late friend of mine always signed off ‘all good wishes’ – I felt that hit the right convivial-but-distant note. I started borrowing it, then ramped it up to ‘all best wishes’, fearing that ‘good’ might be interpreted as lukewarm, but now I am mildly regretting the inflation.
I rattle out yet another round of doubly superlative ‘all best wishes’ and feel like Tchaikovsky giving the direction pppppp in his Symphony No. 6 when ppp would have done just as well. But it’s also possible to dial things down too far until a sign-off becomes an insult. The Twitter account ‘Very British Problems’ cites the problem of ‘receiving an email ending in “regards” and wondering what you’ve done to cause so much anger’.

In the age of letter-writing, deciding how to start and finish was so much simpler. In 1926, Fowler listed the various ways to end a proper letter:
  • Yours faithfully: To unknown person on business.
  • Yours truly: To slight acquaintance.
  • Yours very truly: Ceremonious but cordial.
  • Yours sincerely: In invitations & friendly but not intimate letters.
But that didn’t solve every dilemma. In an age of ritualised courtship and repressed emotions the difficulty was more likely to have to do with intimate letters than those written to business acquaintances.

My Darling Mr Asquith is a deeply sympathetic and scrupulously researched biography of the socialite Venetia Stanley (1887-1948).
One of its main themes is the complex gradation of affection that could be expressed by different salutations at the start of letters between very posh associates ...
When Asquith wrote to his second wife, Margot (his first wife died of typhoid in 1891), she was ‘my own darling’. But when, as a man in his sixties, he wrote to the Hon. Venetia Stanley, the twentysomething woman with whom he was besotted from 1912 to 1915, he employed fifty shades of ‘darlings’ and ‘beloveds’, ranging from ‘my very own darling’ to ‘most loved’ to ‘my darling of darlings’.
These darlings multiplied across nearly six hundred love letters written by Asquith to Venetia, totalling nearly 300,000 words
On another note, from the essay, it took a bit of work, but I also figured out what "combies" are. It will be interesting if any reader from England is able to confirm the definition of "combies."

Good News For North Dakota; Quiet Tornado Season, But Winter Blasts Begin -- November 19, 2016

Freezing in north Texas, and it's not even winter yet! Getting reading to head out for a soccer tournament:

Do you remember the Kennedy clan worried that their children would never see snow again? LOL. I had completely forgotten that I even had a tag for that story: Never_See_Snow_Again. For the record, and for the Kennedy great grandchildren, at the moment:
  • Akeley, MN: 12 - 13 inches of snow
  • Leader, MN: 20 inches of snow
First 2016 - 2017 winter blast: all predicted by Farmers Almanac this year.

Telstar, The Tornadoes

Back To The Bakken

President Obama put more restrictions on US drilling in the Arctic.
Friday’s announcement fell short of fulfilling environmentalists’ pleas for more enduring protections that would keep U.S. Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific waters permanently off limits, though President Barack Obama could issue such a declaration any time before leaving office on January 20, 2017.
President-elect Donald Trump’s administration can rip up the five-year plan, but substantially replacing it and putting the Atlantic and Arctic back on the auction block would take years because of legally required public comment periods and environmental reviews.
The Bakken is going to be around for 50 years, probably more. The US will simply cede the Arctic to foreign countries.

Also, a new study on sources of high methane emissions is great news for the Bakken, but could become a headache for Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.

Off The Net For Awhile -- Time For Waffles

Breakfast Reading

From the November 24, 2016, issue of The New York Review of Books:
This was one of the better issues.

For those interested in "the human brain," the Herclano-Houzel book is huge. HH was the first person to actually count accurately the number of neurons in the human brain. It is quite a story. But that is just the beginning.

Herclano-Houzel's resume
  • Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, undergraduate, virology
  • Case Western Reserve, Cleveland, OH, graduate studies in the nervous system
  • Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany, PhD in visual neurophysiology
  • Federal University in Rio, assistant professor
Upon returning to the University at Rio, she asked her colleagues, a rather simple question: how many neurons are there in the human brain? The number she was told was 100 billion. She asked for the source for that number. There was no source for that number. No one had actually counted the number of neurons in the human brain. It was simply an estimate based on an outmoded, inexact method of estimating the number of neurons in the human brain.

HH then proceeded to figure out how to do accurately count the number of neurons in the human brain. Precisely. The answer: brain soup.

That was the tool she needed to answer the question: what was the human advantage? How did the human brain become remarkable?

The answer: cooked food.

Along the way, some data points:
  • the human cerebral cortex constitutes 82% of total brain mass, the largest percentage when compared to all mammals, but the human cerebral cortex was found to contain only 19% of the total number of neurons in the brain
  • the percentage of neurons in the human cerebral cortex is the very same as that of the guinea pig and capybara, and miway in the 15 - 25% range found in most mammals
The question arises: how can the human cerebral cortex have expanded so greatly in comparison to the rest of the brain while maintaining a proportion of neurons equivalent to that found in small-brained animals, particularly primates? HH's answer with two hypotheses:
  • it has to do with the absolute number of neurons in the human cerebral cortex; and, 
  • partly in the fact that different scaling rules apply to the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum
  • the scaling rules are constant across all primates: when additional neurons are added to the brain, the cerebral cortex increases in mass at a much faster rate than does the cerebellum
  • this is because the cerebral cortex requires larger neurons than the cerebellum -- neurons that have long-range connections of several centimeters to link different cortical areas; neurons in the cerebellum need to span no more than a few millimeters
Through more discussion it boils down to this: the human advantage comes from no more than strength in numbers.

But what about the much bigger brains of elephants and whales? HH has not been able to get her hands on a cetacean brain, but with incredible difficulty, she did manage to get her hands on an elephant brain.
  • the elephant brain had more neurons than the human brain
  • not just a few more but three times as many: 247 billion to our 86 billion
  • but: 98% of these neurons were located in the cerebellum at the back of the brain
  • this left a mere 5.6 billion neurons in the 2.8-kg cerebral cortex of the elephant brain compared to 16 billion neurons in the human's 1.2-kg cerebral cortex (the human cerebral cortex is less than half the size of the elephant cerebral cortex, but has also almost three times the number of neurons
What are all those neurons doing in the elephant cerebellum? Most likely controlling its 100-kg and highly sensory muscular trunk.
As far as cooking food goes? Homo habilis reached its maximum brain size because its energy source was no different than the non-Homo primates, and there were not enough hours in the day to consume enough calories through foraging.

"Further expansion of the brain required securing more energy from the same type and quantity of foodstuffs. As from 1.5 million years ago that is just what our ancestors achieved by cooking their food.

From The Williston Wire -- November 19, 2016

New fire station and training facility grand opening:
The public is invited to attend the grand opening and dedication of theWilliston Fire Department's Fire Station 2 and Training Tower on Monday, November 28, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. The two facilities are located at 610 58th Street West.
Fire station 2 is Williston's first substation which was built to better serve and protect the growing community. The 4,000 square foot training facility is able to provide all types of training exercises for the 50-plus full-time and 30-plus volunteer firefighters in Williston. A second substation is under construction at the corner of 37th Street West and 32nd Avenue West near the new Williston High School.
Mattress Firm is coming to Williston.

Watford City's Gene Veeder to retire:
After a quarter-century in local economic development, Gene Veeder says he's seen the best and worst of times in Watford City. From the empty storefronts and loss of retail in the early 1990s to the surge of the late 2000s' oil boom, the retiring executive director of McKenzie County's job development authority said what he learned early on helped him in his later years. "You build up your community in the good times because there will be times when you just have to keep struggling to keep things going but a lot of our initiative started when things were pretty tough around here," Veeder said.
Anchor Ingredients Co., LLC, will buy Culbertson Pulse facility.

Village Inn coming to Minot.
Minot residents are anticipating the mid-December grand opening of Village Inn, located at 3816 S. Broadway Street. Known for serving handcrafted burgers, decadent desserts and festive salads, the family friendly establishment plans to create 100 full and part-time employment opportunities before opening its doors. Along with adding new jobs to the Magic City, Village Inn is delighted to serve a fresh and exciting menu to Minot residents.

US Gasoline Exports Surging -- November 19, 2016

From FuelFix, an update on surging US gasoline exports, some data points:
  • Valero Energy Corp shipped excess supplies to Canada instead of Colombia
  • Phillips 66 sent the first gasoline shipment in 16 months to Egypt
  • Mercuria Energy Group is storing 60,000 tons of gasoline blending components produced in India at an offshore site in the Bahamas
  • lower refinery utilization in Latin America + abundant US export capacity = bad news for those foreign refineries
  • US gasoline exports reached 1.07 million bpd, week ended November 4, 2016; first time the figure has topped 1 million bpd (somewhat of an anomaly due to two Colonial Pipeline spills which resulted in closure for six days in October; and in closure for 12 days in September)
    • shipments rose 35% in the week ended November 4, 2016; have almost doubled since the September 9, 2016, Colonial outage
    • the latter move corresponds with a late-August adjustment in how the EIA calculates its export data: the agency shifted to using near-real-time Customs data rather than extrapolating from monthly estimates
  • two other records set simultaneously:
    • US refiners and gasoline blenders churned out 10.5 mllion bbls of gasoline/day
    • Gulf Coast inventories of gasoline climbed to the highest seasonal level ever
  • driving demand slid about 2%

Of Course, By This Time Next Year Medicare As We Know It May Be Gone -- November 19, 2016

But for now, the Medicare premiums for 2017 have been released: link here. This is what I was looking for:
Retirees don't all pay the same Medicare Part B premium. While most Medicare beneficiaries will experience a modest premium increase next year, a few specific groups of seniors will have to pay much higher premiums.

Existing Social Security beneficiaries. Medicare premiums are prevented by law from increasing faster than Social Security payments for existing beneficiaries. The Social Security cost-of-living adjustment was just 0.3 percent for 2017. So, the monthly Medicare Part B premium will only increase by a few dollars from $104.90 in 2016 to $109 in 2017 for most existing Social Security recipients.

New Medicare enrollees. Retirees who sign up for Medicare in 2017 will pay the standard Medicare Part B premium of $134 for 2017, up 10 percent from $121.80 in 2016. These new enrollees will pay $300 more for Medicare Part B in 2017 than existing Social Security recipients.
"Because of the 'hold harmless' provision covering the other 70 percent of beneficiaries, premiums for the remaining 30 percent must cover most of the increase in Medicare costs for 2017 for all beneficiaries," according to a statement from the CMS. New enrollees include people who will turn 65 in 2017 and those who were previously covered by group health insurance through their job and elect to join Medicare in 2017.

Both North And South Dakota Drop On "Best States For Business" List -- Forbes -- November 19, 2016

From The Williston Herald:
Development of the Bakken oil fields has successfully positioned North Dakota to rank eighth in Forbes annual best states for business list.
“It’s a fair assessment that North Dakota remains one of the top ten states to do business, contrary to outside reports, North Dakota is still doing very well,” Williston Economic Development Director Shawn Wenko said.
“In western North Dakota, state and local entities have invested billions of dollars in infrastructure in order to keep up with an exploding industry. Energy prices will eventually go up. Oil and gas activity will increase again, albeit probably not as hectic as we saw in 2012-2013.”
Over the past five years, the booming energy industry showed unprecedented job growth at 3.8 percent, income growth at 4.5 percent. State product growth jumped 7.5 percent, and unemployment rates were the best in the nation, averaging 3 percent.
The list at Forbes, in parentheses, the 2015 rank):

1: Utah (1)
2: North Carolina (2)
3: Nebraska (3)
4: Texas (6)
5: Colorado (5)
6: Virginia (7)
7: Georgia (11)
8: North Dakota (4)
9: Washington (10)
10: South Dakota (9)

15. Minnesota (NP - not provided)
19. Massachusetts NP)
24. New York (NP)
30. California (NP)
39. New Jersey (NP)

41: Hawaii (43)
42: Rhode Island (46)
43: Connecticut (39)
44: Alabama (45)
45: Vermont (42)
46: New Mexico (47)
47: Alaska (44)
48: Mississippi (48)
49: Maine (48)
50: West Virginia (50)

Strawman Argument -- November 19, 2016

Straw man.

I've always had problems understanding "straw man" as used in "debates."

One of the problems is that over time, many different types of argument defined as "straw man arguments" have arisen, I think, confusing the original use of the phrase.

Wiki, of course, provides an excellent definition:
A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent..
So, now an example, and this is priceless.

This is a New York Times headline in today's on-line edition: Ford Move, Cited As Win By Trump, Has No Effect On US Jobs.

Perfect straw man argument.

This all had to do with the phone call that was initiated by Bill Ford, chairman of Ford, who called President-elect Trump to simply tell him that the Ford automobile company had decided to keep Lincoln production in Kentucky. That's all that was said in the tweets, back and forth. Nothing was said about jobs.

Trump tweeted that he had received that phone call.

The New York Times provided an example of the perfect straw man: the newspaper gave "the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not advanced by the opponent."

Trump never advanced the argument in that tweet that this saved jobs.

The importance of the call was completely lost on The New York Times headline writer. The amazing thing was that the chairman of Ford felt compelled to call Trump  to tell him that the company had decided to keep Lincoln production in the US.

By the way, within 24 hours, Apple also acknowledged that it might start making iPhones in the US.  Immediately analysts said that Apple would never be able to afford to do that. Maybe, maybe not. That was not the reason the story was important. Again, Trump did not call Tim Cook and ask him if Apple might not manufacture the iPhone in the US; Apple initiated that possibility for whatever reason. T+11.