Thursday, July 29, 2010
Thought of the Day
Warmie True Believer Jonathan Foley
And let me offer a shout out for the genius who successfully changed "Global Warming" to "Climate Change" even though Climate Change is code for Global Warming. Who doubts that the climate changes? In the past several hundred thousand years, approximately every 100,000 years, our nice, short interglacial period turns into a harsh and long lasting Ice Age, where Canada, Russia, some of Europe and even Manhatten is under a mile of ice, the average temperature is ten degrees Celsius colder and the ocean level has fallen hundreds of feet.
Labels: Jonathan Foley quote
Thoughts on President Obama's Popularity
Keep in mind this is just an average of all the polls, including the ones which skew the results (always in favor of the Democrat) by oversampling Democrats. The most accurate of polls, from Rasmussen, has had the President underwater for months.
Barring some sort of miracle, the trend should remain bad for the foreseeable future and that does not bode well for the 50 or so Democrats who occupy Congressional seats in districts where the majority voted for John McCain.
I can tell you, as a near daily connoisseur of well crafted judicial opinions, Bolton's opinion is lousy. It is impossible to believe it will withstand judicial scrutiny in the 9th Circuit or at the Supreme Court, if necessary.
Meanwhile, the activist decision further riles the majority of the country who supported the law and hates it that neither this administration nor the prior ones for that matter, bother to enforce our immigration laws and seal our porous southern border. Even a wet brain like Chris Matthews can see Bolton's decision, granting a partial temporary injunction, is a disaster (on top of the already looming disaster about to descend on the Democratis up for election in November).
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Friday Night Movie Review--Inception
This movie is I think science fiction. There is a device which allows people to share a dream state and to create the dream (the latter of which I guess we do each time we dream but not in a logical, conscious way). Since this machine does not exist and it is the central organizing plot device, this is not just a somewhat weird thriller like Memento, and the earlier quite good but little seen Following. But it is mostly thriller with a hint of epistemology for us eager for a deeper content types.
It has quite a large, competent cast. The lead, unfortunately, is Leonardo DiCaprio. He is by no means a bad actor (he was excellent and convincing in What's Eating Gilbert Grape) but he is not much of an action hero type leading man, at least by former Hollywood standards. He is certainly not a manly man like Wayne or Gable or Harrison Ford (or our last extant young manly man lead, Russel Crowe). He is more a Jimmy Stewart type, who was excellent, but I never saw Stewart as an action hero type (the Mann westerns possibly excepted). The excellent Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also an unlikely action hero here. The lesser known Brit actor, Tom Hardy, about to become the new Mad Max, is better suited for his role and has to do most of the heavy lifting here. Ken Watanabe, to his credit, does not fall back on his impression of Boris Karloff as Fu Manchu, but is a whole character here. The girls, Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard are both quite good, as are the marks, Cillian Murphy and Tom Berenger, as is good guy at home Michael Caine albeit in more of a cameo than a supporting role.
I won't go into the plot in detail, but will spoil a bit by saying that DiCaprio (whose character is called Cobb, like the baddish guy in Following) and his crew use the dream sharing device to steal ideas from industrialists. Use of the device involves some semi-logical rules for users (time dilation being the most challenging--minutes in reality is hours in dreamland) which create a complex plot with split second timing, elaborate planning, clever improvisation to unexpected problems (and a whole bunch of unnecessary risk taking) to pull off.
Some of the details of the rules of the dream machine are clever, as was the third dreamscape of the big con (all that was missing was the James Bond music). I'm not sure the "antibody" projections made any sense nor the "kick," a sense of falling, which supposedly woke the dreamers, although its use was selective as the plot provided both good and bad times for people to wake up after the kick and only in the plot convenient times did it work. But there was no real sense of dreams during the dreams. Indeed, the chase scene in Mombasa, which was set in the supposed real world of this film, looked as phony and contrived as the Bond like Alpine fortress chases. I don't actually think it is possible to recreate on film the intensely emotional, anti-reality mind movie we create and display, what, 7 times each and every night.
I was also pretty underwhelmed by the question posed by the abrupt ending. In a sense most mystery religions, including Christianity, tend to think of real life as a middle level, a transitory phase before the eternal real life in Heaven or Hell. In this sense, death indeed wakes us up from this brief dream of life to our eternal life. In that sense, the ending was, in context, profound and satisfying. In a non-religious context, it was cheap.
I wholeheartedly recommend this flick, but it is more a sound and light show than a profound meditation on a slice of human eternal truth. Perhaps I was expecting too much.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Second Thought of the Day
Josiah Charles Stamp
Labels: Josiah Charles Stamp
Thought of the Day
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton, sending a chill through the federal government lawyers suing the State of Arizona, on preemption grounds only, vis a vis border enforcement. I'd bet $100 she doesn't stay the start of SB 1070 at the end of the month, because one of the elements for getting such an order is likelihood of prevailing on the merits. I'd bet more than $100, but we're in a lengthy recession.
Good for her for seeing the utter fatuousness of the Obama administration's legal arguments here.
Labels: Susan Bolton quote
Monday, July 19, 2010
Karma--the Black Hearted Version
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
Did I mention he was spearheading the death of science? Why yes, I see I did, and so he was. I try to be Christian about such men's deaths but it's particularly difficult here as his 'right balance' was skewed way away from being honest. Hope Hell's not too hot for you, bud.
Labels: Steven Schneider
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Thought of the Day
Of course, there are still 4 and 1/2 months left before December, 2010, so there's time yet before the deadline. The administration's line that the near Trillion in stimulus has saved or created 3 million jobs is a worse error (to be generous) than any of George Bush's so-called lies.
Labels: Conn Carroll quote
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Thought of the Day
Walter Russell Mead
Labels: Walter Russell Mead quote
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Thoughts of the Day
South Vietnam President Nguyen Van Thieu
The Paris Agreement was served on South Vietnam like a death warrant.
General Cao Van Vien
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, on or after August 15, 1973, no funds herein or heretofore appropriated may be obligated or expended to finance directly or indirectly combat activities by United States military forces in or over or from off the shores of North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia.
I gave Thieu personally three letters from President Nixon committing us, in case of a violation of the Paris agreements by the other side, to come to their assistance. Well, the other side violated the agreements almost from the day they signed them... but we never came to their assistance, because the [Democrat dominated] Congress refused to appropriate the money. The result was, and as each day went by, the South Vietnamese had fewer guns, fewer planes, fewer tanks, diminishing ammunition with which to fight, while the North was being fully supplied by the Soviets and the Chinese. The result was inevitable.
Ambassador Elsworth Bunker
The price paid by the South Vietnamese in their long struggle to remain free proved grievous indeed. The armed forces lost 275,000 killed in action. Another 465,000 civilians lost their lives, many of them assassinated by Viet Cong terrorists or felled by the enemy's indiscriminate shelling and rocketing of cities. Of the million who became boat people an unknown number, feared to be many, lost their lives at sea. Perhaps 65,000 others were executed by their liberators. As many as 250,000 more perished in the brutal reeducation camps. Two million, driven from their homeland, formed a new Vietnamese diaspora.
Labels: A Better War quotes
Thursday, July 01, 2010
The writer/director is Josh Fox, whose only other work is Memorial Day from 2008. He is firmly in the style of Michael Moore, but he is much more endearing than Moore. The music is pretty good. I particularly liked Josh playing the banjo wearing a gas mask, south and west of Pinedale in Wyoming (where I worked as a for real cowboy decades ago). OK, now the bad.
Fox doesn't give much of a personal history other than to describe his parents as hippies. I think it is clear that Josh is a follower, perhaps unconsciously, of the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School whose Marxist members (and the generations who followed) seek to undermine the success and prosperity of America through undeserved and unremitting criticism, kind of a cultural provocation. His documentary is a series of lies, both outright and by omission.
Let's hit the high points. Almost everything he says about federal regulation and law regarding natural gas well production is false. There is no exemption for natural gas producers from the EPA and no recent exemptions from clean water act, etc. Those laws never applied to hydraulic fracing. Wait, I see I've jumped in to the middle too soon. Let's start with the hierarchy of "good" energy sources as the Marxist ecologists see them. Wind, photovoltaic and bio diesel are the good. If you examine them with even a modicum of common sense, you see they are actually bad, as the first two waste money and chop up birds and bats without saving a single erg of our real energy sources. Bio diesel is also pixie dust energy-- a few might use it but it could never power even a little country like Belgium, much less us or the World. Coal and oil are just plain bad (even though they supply about 70% of our energy). Hydroelectric dams are bad, even though they are good, and nuclear power, even though it is good, is considered bad. So that leaves natural gas. Not much too bad to say about it, so of course Mr. Fox paints his tired set of straw bogeymen to make it seem bad.
History. Pump water and sand down a well under pressure and you will create micro fractures in the rock you have drilled through, the sand will prop oven the fractures after the pressure is released and the water mainly recovered. That's hydraulic fracturing. The oil and gas industry has been doing it since 1949. In some shale formations, like the Bakken and Marcellus, only with fracing will the gas actually flow out. Most sane people like natural gas. It burns with better efficiency than coal or oil derivatives. Most of the tight, gas bearing shale formations are from one to two miles down. The drillers go down at least 5,000 feet, sometimes much farther, and then drill horizontally for another mile. Then they frac. The frac fluid is 99.5% water and sand. Just a tiny bit, one part in 200, is chemicals. Most of the chemicals are benign, like salts, sodium and magnesium chloride, guar, soapy lubricants, rust and slime inhibiters, etc. Some are like other chemicals, bad if you get a big dose, harmless in truly tiny concentrations. Most of the frac fluid is recovered but some stays down in the hole, a mile to two miles down under thousands of feet of impermeable rock. The weak link of the chain is in the casing. Modern wells which employ fracing use three casings or steel pipes. The inside one lines the hole from top to bottom. The half mile second barrier protects the deepest of deep water pockets, and the third gets the bore even more safely through the water table just under the surface to perhaps 150 feet down. As BP recently learned, it's a bad idea to put the casing at risk.
But some drillers have blown one or more of the casings, usually with incompletely set cement. The major casing leaks were in Dimock, Pennsylvania (Cabot) and at Divide Creek, CO (Encana, who purchased the well already producing). These were casing ruptures, not frac fluid contamination and unless Josh Fox has a major form of Asperger's Syndrome, he knows that. But one watching this move would not know that. He completely leaves out the cause of the two "spills" he covers and implies they were frac fluids rising to contaminate the surface water. They were not. Injected frac fluid has never contaminated ground water and, moreover, there is little danger it ever will, given the geology of the places the drillers are fracing.
It's really low to pretend that a know cause is something else most people don't know. That's Mr. Fox, liar and manipulator.
The best part of the film is the flaming water from faucets just north of here in Weld County, CO. I know that there are natural natural gas seeps (just as there are natural oil seeps, like the La Brea tar pits) but I don't know what to make of those water wells. It's clearly natural gas in the water (not frac fluid seeping up as Mr. Fox wants us to speculate). The wells in Weld are relatively shallow, not into tight shale and have not been fraced, at least not to any degree like the wells in Pennsylvania and near Pinedale have. There just wouldn't be enough volatile chemicals in the remaining frac fluid to flame up like that. Are those flaming water wells in Weld natural or drilling gone bad? I don't have enough information to make the call, but neither does Mr. Fox. His lack of knowledge doesn't stop him from major misdirection.
Another out and ought lie is that mule deer, pronghorn antelope and sage grouse are endangered and declining in Wyoming. What a crock. You can hunt each of them. The population of pronghorn, for example, around the turn of last century was maybe 12,000. When I was a child it was a big deal to see them. Now there are well over a million. They're all over the place. Endangered, my wide, white ass.
The silly movie The China Syndrome is credited, as much as the Three Mile Island non-disaster, with the demise of new nuclear plants here in America. Josh Fox apparently wants to do the same with natural gas drilling. Why? He lives way down the road from anywhere; does he want to have to use a bike, or a buggy, like the Amish? More likely he wants us to use the bike or buggy and he, the big important movie maker, can use all the fossil fuel he wants, because he needs to travel.
The more I think about this movie, the more I grow to admire books.
Labels: Gasland documentary