Friday, 30 November 2012

08:49 – What is this crap with adults beating infants and small children? There was another one in the paper this morning, this one from Mt. Airy. Fortunately, the kid survived, this time. The mother, 24, and her boyfriend, 20, (not the child’s father) were charged with felony child abuse. I just don’t understand this. Normal people protect children, any child, let alone their own. A normal woman will fight and willingly die to protect her child. What kind of mutant pseudo-human creature injures or kills its own child? The mother and her boyfriend are in jail and will probably go to prison, but that’s just not enough. It seems to me that a more fitting punishment would be to surround them with people with clubs and have them beaten to death. I have a baseball bat right here, and I’d be happy to lend a hand.


I should finish the first draft of the manual for the new simplified CK01B chemistry kit today. Then I’ll make at least one quick clean-up pass through it. We actually have a small batch of the kits themselves in stock. The one backordered item we need to build 100 more is supposed to be shipping to us today. I’d planned to start shipping these kits as of 1 December, and it looks like we’ll just about make that deadline.

48 thoughts on “Friday, 30 November 2012”

  1. As a human I share your outrage about mistreatment of children of course.

    But as a biologist you should not find it so strange. Among many mammals the greatest threat to infants is a new male. Females are not so innocent: in mice the odor of a new male can cause a pregnant female to abort presumable because it is to her advantage to do it preemptively rather than wait for the new male to kill them after birth. The best studied examples of the threat of new males have come from lions and Indian langur monkeys.

    It is kind of a rule of thumb of police and prosecutors to look first for the mother’s new boyfriend in cases like this.

  2. “It is kind of a rule of thumb of police and prosecutors to look first for the mother’s new boyfriend in cases like this.”

    Roger that. And it is also a rule of thumb for cops to look for the current, allegedly estranged male in cases of spousal abuse; I saw wives and girlfriends beaten to a pulp who would be placed in top-secret safe houses get in there and immediately phone the bf or hubby to come get them out. Used to drive us (cops) bat-shit.

  3. @OFD: Nope, hadn’t heard about that. No surprise, really: Different business divisions, each looking at its own strategy. Nothing really wrong with it: AWS does have an incredible infrastructure. Whoever within Amazon decided to commercialize AWS had a brilliant idea – they surely are making a mint with it.

  4. My elder niece’s husband was a cop, and a fairly tough guy all round, but he never got used to the domestic violence cases, some of which made him physically sick. I’m glad he got out of that.

  5. But as a biologist you should not find it so strange. Among many mammals the greatest threat to infants is a new male. Females are not so innocent: in mice the odor of a new male can cause a pregnant female to abort presumable because it is to her advantage to do it preemptively rather than wait for the new male to kill them after birth. The best studied examples of the threat of new males have come from lions and Indian langur monkeys.

    Yes, of course. It’s perfectly natural for a male to kill a female’s children by a different male so that she can devote her attention to bearing and nurturing his own children. It’s even understandable that males of many species routinely kill their own young if they can get away with it because they resent their female’s attention being on the children rather than on him. Even human males are subject to this jealousy/envy. (Which is why, incidentally, it’s a good idea for one man to have multiple women.)

    But what is unnatural is for a female to kill her own child. Biologically, she has a huge investment in each child. That’s why normal mothers will kill (and die) to protect their children. That’s also why, for example, a male grizzly is afraid of a female half his size if she has cubs. And why any sensible man would never threaten a woman’s child and expect her to tolerate it. That’s why whenever some bastard beats a child to death, when the cops arrive I’d expect them to find him dead with a knife in his back.

  6. “… they surely are making a mint with it.”

    Surely. I’d just like to have the interest on Jeff Bezos’s interest for a month or so.

    “…he never got used to the domestic violence cases…”

    Yep. Nasty stuff. And easily the most dangerous calls that a street cop can go on; I have many awful stories. Most folks assume it’s husband-and-wife, but it can just as often be siblings, parents and children, a gay couple, ya just never know. And we learned to always assume that there are weapons in the house and one or more parties are hopped up on booze and/or dope. Separate the parties and keep them outta the kitchen. Boston PD ran a training course that stipulated their officers had to be in and out, successfully, in twenty minutes or less. We laughed our asses off at that one.

    “… it’s a good idea for one man to have multiple women.”

    No it’s not. You’ll never convince me of this. Not in a million years.

    “…when the cops arrive I’d expect them to find him dead with a knife in his back.”

    Nope. Different world now, Bob; the females are often way flakier than the males in these cases and couldn’t care less what happens to their children, as the case you mentioned illustrates.

  7. Oh, I know it’s different nowadays, but my point is that from a biological perspective it shouldn’t be. Women who kill their children or stand by and do nothing while their children are killed are psychopaths.

  8. ” Women who kill their children or stand by and do nothing while their children are killed are psychopaths.”

    Agreed.

  9. ” Women who kill their children or stand by and do nothing while their children are killed are psychopaths.”

    Agreed.

    +1

  10. Awesome article on AWS and Netflix. That is a lot of trust for Netflix to put into AWS.

    I am still trying to figure out how Netflix gets 36+2 hard drives into this case:
    https://signup.netflix.com/openconnect/hardware
    That is an amazing amount of heat. Plus, 100 TB in a single case! I maintain that Netflix can put their entire library in 100 TB but my guys do not agree.

  11. Say, let’s do the math, shall we? The typical movie is what, one-and-a-half to two GB, right? A TB would be somewhere between 500-700 movies. So 50,000 to 75,000 movies. I don’t think there ARE even that many, so Lynn is correct and needs to immediately fire his innumerate guys.

  12. Depends on resolution and compression. Uncompressed 30 fps 525 NTSC runs about 94 GB/hour. Uncompressed 30 fps 1080p runs about 556 GB/hour. ISTR that Netflix’s streaming library runs to something like 100,000 movies/episodes. If you assume that they average one hour for each title and that the HDTV/SDTV split is 25:75, storing all that uncompressed would require something like 20,000 TB.

    Of course, they do use compression. IIRC, the best quality Netflix streaming on SD stuff is about 1 GB/hour and on HD stuff is about 2.3 GB/hour. Under the same assumptions, that’d be only 132.5 TB.

  13. Even with that hardware there are a huge number of simultaneous streams going. Takes a whole lot to move that much data at once.

  14. Not to mention we have three computers, two Wiis, one Roku and one Blu-ray that can all do Netflix. I know we’ve had three going at once at some time.

  15. We have a Western Digital TV Live-Plus box connected to the tee-vee and also have a 3TB drive plugged into it. I was streaming from the Windows 7 box but now am trying to figure out how to do it from the external drive without scrolling through hundreds of video and video-related files (WD lists the videos but clicking on them does nothing) and/or stream them from the Ubuntu 12.10 machine I’m on right now. Anyway, none of it has been, shall we say, intuitive, since the Win box went down. But I love a puzzle. Not.

    Not when I deal with frigging puzzles all day at work, many of them unnecessary. Speaking of which, they are now moving all the racks of clusters out of the raised-floor data center down the hall from my “office,” and across the river to the gigantic labyrinthine main site. The empty space will be leased to another large corporate enterprise up here that deals with healthcare. We wonder if we will also be moved across the river; which has pluses, among them, proximity to the cafeteria and ATM machine, more opportunity to “network” with other drones and geeks, and more feminine pulchritude on view, which we sure as hell haven’t had up to now where we’ve been.

  16. [snip] But what is unnatural is for a female to kill her own child. [snip]

    The flaw in your argument is that many of the females in these cases are, in a clinical sense, out of their minds. Either from some chemical error in the brain or from this or that currently popular narcotic, they’ve just tuned out reality, instinct, etc.

  17. Not to mention we have three computers, two Wiis, one Roku and one Blu-ray that can all do Netflix. I know we’ve had three going at once at some time.

    I think the limit is two devices in use at once. I’ve used Netflix Steaming upstairs on my PC while my daughter was watching cartoons on the TV downstairs. I think I tried it on my Nook Color at the same time and was told I was using it on too many machines at once.

  18. It depends on your membership level. I think with streaming-only or one-disc plans you get two simultaneous devices usable for streaming. With higher disc plans you get more.

  19. I would really like to get Saturday mail delivery stopped dead forever. So far this week, I have received 57 separate pieces of mail, of which only 3 require action on my part. The rest constitute unrequested material of all types.

    Just after my dad died, I kept track of 14 days worth of mail that my parents received, and reported it here. I cannot find that entry, and I did not keep a copy myself of the figures (unusual for me), but they received magazines and newspapers to which they had subscribed, and I weighed it all and the gross weight was amazing—something like 200 pounds. I do not subscribe to anything, so everything outside of those 3 pieces of mail is unsolicited. There is no junk mail in Germany (through the post office) and 3 pieces a week—or less—was about the norm for mail there.

    At the very least, there needs to be an opt-out here for unrequested mail.

  20. Hi Chuck W, nope, junk mail should be paying the same rate as first class mail. Yet another thing that our idiot Congress hath mandated.

    Nobody answered my question on how they get 36 hard drives in that box. The box is 19 inches wide, 24 inches deep and 8 inches tall. With a motherboard, two power supplies and three PCI cards (network and two sata), there is no way that they are getting 36 drives in there!

  21. I would really like to get Saturday mail delivery stopped dead forever.

    I think they ought to go to a 3 days a week delivery for home. Have businesses get MWF delivery at their offices or 5 days/week at a PO Box. Fill in homes on TuThSa and MWF.

  22. With a motherboard, two power supplies and three PCI cards (network and two sata), there is no way that they are getting 36 drives in there!

    First, the motherboard is a micro-ATX. The SATA card is a short card, so it doesn’t need a lot of space. The power supplies are the two black things on the front left. They are not using network cards per se, but two 1000baseT to fiber optic adapters – they are the two ports in the lower center. The Hitachi drives are 1x4x5.8, so they are pretty compact.

  23. “But I never have understood why naturists wear shoes.”

    “Cuz they’re not *completely* nuts.

  24. Lynn McGuire says:

    Nobody answered my question on how they get 36 hard drives in that box. The box is 19 inches wide, 24 inches deep and 8 inches tall. With a motherboard, two power supplies and three PCI cards (network and two sata), there is no way that they are getting 36 drives in there!

    Well, I mentioned the Backblaze blog some months ago, and the article you posted also quotes them. What is more, Backblaze puts 45 hard drives, not just 36, into a 4u case, although their case is custom-built (as is the Netflix case). This article shows more about how the case is packed with stuff, than does the Netflix link.

    http://blog.backblaze.com/2009/09/01/petabytes-on-a-budget-how-to-build-cheap-cloud-storage/

    Backblaze has done an amazing amount of research and tracked failure rates of drives, eventually choosing 5400rpm ones over 7200. They even list their preference in drives and will sell you a case and help you build your own, if you want.

  25. Speaking of Backblaze, this is an interesting article

    http://gigaom.com/cloud/how-to-add-5-5-petabytes-and-get-banned-from-costco-during-a-hard-drive-crisis/

    It has been impossible to escape the fact that hard drives have not just been temporarily hurt by the Thailand floods, but inventories and supply lines appear to have been permanently damaged for the long-term. Backblaze even posits that hard drives are no longer commodity items. I am paying between 1.5 and 2 x the price for drives that I did before the Thai flooding. What is more, small capacity drives are now impossible to come by. Last time I was in Fry’s they had ONLY 2 and 3Tb available in 3.5″ drives—nothing smaller (not that it mattered; I love big drives). And I have been relegated to buying laptop drives from the Internet, as Fry’s does not offer laptop drives at competitive prices to Internet sources, nor do they have the broad selection of sizes and manufacturers that they used to have.

    Last drives I purchased (both physical sizes) were made in Malaysia. I’m guessing one thing that happened, is that drive manufacturers are not rebuilding in Thailand, but using their other already-established manufacturing locations to get back into the business. And they seem in no hurry.

    Backblaze was banned from Costco, as they tried various ways to feed their 14-a-day hunger for new drives. To the present, their former suppliers are not able to provide their needs, and they are even buying external backup devices and removing the drives to meet the demands of their business.

    When you talk about the breakdown of society, one element that I believe will be involved, is a growing inability for business to provide for the needs of other businesses and the general public at large. The long-term hard drive shortage and now the Twinkie shortage (buy Bimbo–pronounced “Beembo”–from Hispanic markets) are just two examples. There will be more.

  26. Thanks for the backblaze articles! They are great! I now understand what they are doing to store all those drives in a single case.

    If I believed in offsite storage and our upload bandwidth could handle it, I would try them out. My LAN backup is 1.5 TB and growing 30 GB per month. I am in the middle of swapping out my backup drives (3 internals and 7 externals) to 3 TB. I should be complete by the end of next year. Maybe.

    When you talk about the breakdown of society, one element that I believe will be involved, is a growing inability for business to provide for the needs of other businesses and the general public at large. The long-term hard drive shortage and now the Twinkie shortage (buy Bimbo–pronounced “Beembo”–from Hispanic markets) are just two examples. There will be more.

    Jerry Pournelle maintains that the dark ages are not when one has forgotten how to make stuff. He maintains that the dark ages are when you forget that you could make stuff. Sadly, the growing complexity of our society may be heading that way.

  27. We’re probably a ways off from an actual ‘Dark Ages,’ which weren’t actually dark, by the way; lots of good stuff going on. That would involved a real total breakdown of the current order, which is possible, of course, but not probable. More like a travel back in time to the year 1900, with no widespread Grid or electrical power anymore and a stronger emphasis on agricultural production. Doesn’t look like anyone is gonna do anything about revitalizing our local and regional rail systems, though, so we may be headed back to the inland waterways and canals, and learning how to generate power from rivers and steam again, which is where my dad and granddad worked for a while here in Nova Anglia.

  28. I’m a lot more optimistic than you are. What I see coming is a general impoverishment. That’s already happened, of course, but few people are yet aware of it.

    I think we’ll continue to have pretty much everything we’re used to now, just less of some of it. I don’t see any serious problems in terms of food supply, electricity and other utilities, and so on. As I’ve said repeatedly, we’re in really good shape to grow our way out of this, particularly given our huge reserves of cheap energy. The coming bad years are going to be just a blip for the US and Canada. Worse elsewhere, much worse.

  29. Sort of related to the above…

    I’ve been looking at, of all things, sandwiches at Jerry Coyne’s site (don’t dare call it a blog in his hearing.) I don’t understand how the guy has dodged a coronary, but take a look at the sandwich here:

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/delicatessens/#comments

    If I put a centimetre of meat in a sandwich I feel really guilty. If you stopped building McMansions and passed on the insano sandwiches and 28 oz porterhouse steaks there’d be plenty for everyone, and a lot of cardiologists and diabetes specialists would be out of business.

  30. I think I’m with RBT on this. Sure, there’s the potential for serious collapse, eg, EMP attack, but even with launching from a ship just off our coast, lofting half a ton a couple hundred miles up is a non-trivial task. The realistic threat of decline is from the boot of government continueing to kick sand in the gears.

    The US has lots of natural resources, a lot of educated people, a decent if declining manufacturing base, and good if neglected infrastructure. I’m pretty sure that if we could just kill every politician and bureaucrat the country would be roaring within years. Now, about that first step…

  31. That’s some great socialist/communist/redistributionist/leveler thinking there, Miles_Teg. There’s never “enough” once you get the over-consumers to cut back just a bit because the non-productive always want — that is, need or deserve more.

    Your dietary information is also about 180 degrees off. Throw away the bread and the mayo and double the meat and vegetables if you want a better diet.

  32. I hope you guys are right but am sorta preparing for my own scenario, just in case. If we keep the juice and the Grid going, then that makes things just that much easier, but if we lose them, and start having distribution problems of all kinds of goods, then it will be very hard for most people.

    That sandwich, by the way, IS kind of insane. I love meaty deli sandwiches, which I haven’t had in years now unless I make them myself, but that amount of meat is crazy. Why even bother with the bread? Just because we CAN do something insane doesn’t mean we HAVE to.

  33. Steve, I don’t think you understood what I was saying. That’s no biggie, as a lot of people don’t understand what I’m saying, sometimes including me.

    My main point was that people should eat healthier, especially people who already eat too much. I can, just barely, get through a 12-14 oz steak + chips + veg. But only if I’m really hungry. So I think the sandwich at Jerry’s deli is just nuts, as is the 24 oz porterhouse that seems standard at many American steakhouses. No one needs that much meat in one sitting, unless perhaps you’re an Olympic weightlifter or a Sumo wrestler. Speaking of which, a club I’m a member of offers the “Sumo Challenge”. 1 kilogram of steak and a litre of beer in one sitting (40-60 minutes) and the plate has to be clean at the end. Just nuts.

    If people don’t want to work for a living I’m perfectly happy to watch them starve, but that doesn’t mean that I’m happy with people who can barely afford them buying fancy cars and McMansions. I’m not in favour of taking stuff from people to give to the poor, but I do think that if people are trying to improve their lot and working as best they can then the rest of us should be glad to help. If you don’t think that way, well, I don’t agree with you. I’m not a socialist, communist or anything else like that. You’re reasonably smart so you should know better.

  34. a lot of people don’t understand what I’m saying, sometimes including me.

    Heh. I sometimes assert that I’m a genius, an utter genius, at expressing myself badly. But instead of mere misunderstanding, I generally cause feuds.

    Sumo Challenge

    Er, what else is there besides the kilo of meat? I routinely eat more than that at a sitting, if I’m just eating meat. Conceded, I’d have a hard time with the beer; I’m not a teetotaler but in practice I don’t drink, so a litre of beer would put me down. I suppose I could leave the beer for last, then chug it just before the hour was up, then collect my winnings, then pass out.

    You’re reasonably smart so you should know better.

    Allow me to quote my wife (no date provided for this quote; it’s been repeated ad infinitum since we got married):

    You are so dumb! I can’t believe it!

    Who do you think I’m going to believe, you or someone has known me for ten years and who married me?

    (Trick question. Obviously I’m going to believe you. If my wife is right and I’m as dumb as she says I am, then she has to be dumber than me to marry me, and do you think I’m going to listen to anything from someone that dumb?)

  35. http://www.hellenicclub.com.au/city/documents/SumoRules.docx

    THE CHALLENGE
    • 1KG RUMP STEAK with your choice of chips and vegetables or chips and salad + 1 JUG OF STRICKLANDS 1842 Beer in 45 minutes!!!
    RULES
    • 45 MINUTES TO FINISH THE CHALLENGE.
    • YOU MUST EAT EVERYTHING ON THE PLATE INCLUDING SIDES.
    • YOU MUST FINISH THE ENTIRE CONTENTS OF THE JUG OF 1842.
    • YOU CAN NOT LEAVE YOUR TABLE DURING THE CHALLENGE.
    • YOU CAN NOT VOMIT DURING THE CHALLENGE.
    • THE CHALLENGE STARTS WHEN BOTH THE STEAK AND BEER ARRIVES AT THE TABLE ALONG WITH A STAFF MEMBER TO START THE CLOCK.
    THE WINNER
    • GET’S THEIR PHOTO ON THE FAMED BOARD.
    • A FREE SUMO CHALLENGE SHIRT VALUED AT $35.
    • AUTOMATIC ENTRY INTO FUTURE EATING COMPETITIONS.

    THE LOSER
    • FAIL AND GET YOUR PIC ON THE SHAMED BOARD.

  36. The one thing we have, which the Dark Ages never did, is a LOT more people. We have gotten used to a level of commerce that provides for their needs—rather than people providing subsistence for themselves—and I think that will continue to drive commerce in a way that it did not exist in the Dark Ages, or even in the beginnings of European settlement in this country. I lived through the recession of ’74, when retail business just plain stopped. I have not seen a repeat of that ever again. Even during the recent great recession, malls were always quite busy, although shops did close, but new ones took their place almost immediately. I expect the future to be that way, because it was my grandparents who could stop buying altogether and sleep at nights. The younger generation will buy what they need and not be scared into hoarding things—including money.

    Look to Japan for our likely economic future. We are already on the path that has given them 2 decades of near zero growth, not much return on investment, but a sustainable and enviable lifestyle, and everyone able to make a living and feed their families. Everybody is making a living, but no one is making a killing, which—up to now—has been the requirement for US business. That day is coming to a screeching end.

    One thing I disagree with, is the idea that our natural resources can give us a leg up. The world is now connected in a way that prices for natural resources are set by global markets. The fact that they are located here gives us no advantage except closer transportation, for the price of those resources for domestic uses will be set by world markets, and we will have to pay that rate, even though they are located here. This bit about the Middle East drinking their own oil will never happen. First of all, only a tiny percentage of US oil imports comes from the Mid-East; most comes from Canada, Mexico, and S. America. So, even if we stopped importing the entire 6% of Mid-East oil, or whatever it is, it will not affect the price those countries get, and there will be PLENTY of world demand to keep them busy and rich into the future, for as long as they have oil to pump.

    As I have said repeatedly, I lived for nearly 10 years in the future, and it is coming to pass here. While I was in Berlin, we had very few choices. You need a new DVD drive for your computer? You have the choice of Samsung, Samsung, or the store brand, which is rebranded Samsung. Every time I step into Fry’s or Best Buy, the number of options I have is reduced by a brand or two. And inventories in Berlin were not reliable year-round. Same here these days. Back when I needed a new scanner, Fry’s had none for almost a month, and finally told me they did not know when they would have more stock. I finally bought from the Internet. In the ’90’s we could get strawberries year-round. No longer. It is seasonal, just like it was when I was a kid.

    If you can find material by economist Steve Keen from Sydney (he charges for membership to his website and blog), I believe his views are far more observant—and accurate—than most other economists today. His projection is that—unless the US dramatically overhauls the banking sector,—it could take 20 years of Japan-like growth to get back to the financial well-being people felt going into the big bubbles of housing and banking in 2007. It will be a long 20 years of small periodic corrections as marginal businesses fail one or two at a time over decades, instead of extinguishing those enterprises quickly that are bound to fail because they only exist because of banking missteps caused by the poor judgment of banks and the investment sector in the first place. Those failures can either play out slowly if nothing is done, or they can be made to resolve themselves quickly, it the banking sector is shaken out.

    IMO, the economy is doing fine—as well as can be expected, given the massively misguided efforts by career politician legislators in DC, and a totally out-of-control banking sector that has actually encouraged people like Mitt Romney to buy profitable businesses, close them, lay off thousands, then sell the company assets, while making themselves as rich as lottery winners. We are never going to see the kind of growth we had in the eighties, nineties, and noughties (up to nought 7) again in my lifetime. But we are not going to starve, and will survive as extended families live under one roof again, a trend which has been growing for the last 5 years or so. That is the only way young people are going to be able to acquire property in the future, in my view—with help from family.

  37. Not oil, Chuck. Natural gas, which is uneconomic to ship if it’s possible to avoid it. Natural gas prices in the US are now something like a quarter of what other countries pay, and that disparity is increasing fast. The cost of energy is a huge percentage of steel and other metals, and of chemicals, both precursors and final products. That’s why you’re now seeing plastics plants (for example) closing down in Europe and the Pacific Rim, and new plants being brought on stream here in the US.

    As I’ve been saying for years, US oil and gas reserves, not to mention coal reserves, dwarf those of Saudi Arabia. No, “dwarf” isn’t a strong enough word. There is simply no way that Europe and the Pacific Rim can compete with the US and Canada, not for the next hundred years, and probably not for the next 500 years. That’d be true even if they were as free-market as the US and Canada are, which with few exceptions they’re not, not by a long shot.

  38. I sure do hope that the USA will do as good over the next 20 years as the Japanese for the last 20 years. That would be awesome given the fact that the Japanese do not have a nanny state and the USA is creating a nanny rivaled by none in the world. There are zero nanny states with 310 million people. The sheer paperwork is going to kill us much less all the bureaucrats. Mr. Obama wants to hire 65,000 new IRS agents just for Obamacare. Can you imagine how many social workers that he will need when 50% of the populace is on food stamps?

  39. It has been impossible to escape the fact that hard drives have not just been temporarily hurt by the Thailand floods, but inventories and supply lines appear to have been permanently damaged for the long-term. Backblaze even posits that hard drives are no longer commodity items.

    I believe that part of what we are seeing is the result of industry consolidation. There are only two significant disk drive manufacturers left. When the floods hit they found that the demand was strong even with high prices. Once the supply caught up neither of them dropped prices since they had learned how inelastic the demand was. My expectation is that capacities and performance will continue to rise and price per GB will drop as they do, but the absolute prices will remain pretty stable. As long as they don’t actively collude they should be sitting pretty.

  40. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    As I’ve been saying for years, US oil and gas reserves, not to mention coal reserves, dwarf those of Saudi Arabia. No, “dwarf” isn’t a strong enough word. There is simply no way that Europe and the Pacific Rim can compete with the US and Canada, not for the next hundred years, and probably not for the next 500 years. That’d be true even if they were as free-market as the US and Canada are, which with few exceptions they’re not, not by a long shot.

    Well, I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell that coal will ever again be used to generate energy at anything but diminishing levels in the US and Europe, barring some scientific discovery that cleans its emissions. And I will be very surprised if natural gas plays any role in energy production, beyond its current use at manufacturing locations—primarily for heat processes. We may have those resources, but we won’t use them.

    That leaves oil, and my guess is that for the next 20 to 30 years, we will continue competing for its use as the prime source of energy. I think there is a better chance of nuclear and farm products producing energy than natural gas.

  41. Natural gas in the USA is now being used for truck and locomotive fuel as either CNG or LNG. Either are half the price of diesel and dropping as diesel continues to rise in price. Seeing as diesel to natural gas outside the USA does not enjoy that price advantage, this is unique to the USA and may become an incredible manufacturing advantage. Bob is right, all of the new plastic plants are being built in the USA. They were going to Qatar but the instability of the middle east is really worrying people for a 20 year investment.

    Did you know that the USA is now exporting natural gas to Mexico and Canada? Shocked me.

    BTW, over half of the natural gas (dry gas only, no liquids) wells are shut-in. There is that much excess capacity out there. Chesapeake and XTO alone are sitting on incredible amounts of natural gas.

    There is only one natural gas vehicle available out there, the Honda Civic GX. Dodge is releasing a dual fuel truck in Jan. Both run on CNG. The problem is the tanks are very expensive as they are made of carbon fiber but they can take up to 7,500 psia of pressure.

  42. The big question is fracking. Is the EPA going to ban fracking until it has been “studied” to death? If fracking is banned then the current economic climate in the USA will come to a swift halt and death. There are over 500,000 jobs in fracking and rapidly growing. These are high paying jobs, mostly blue collar at $30 to $50/hour. Plus overtime. They are all out at the boonies and the people are having trouble finding lodging, etc.

  43. SteveF says:

    What the heck are you talking about, Chuck? Ref http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/16/electric-plants-coal-natural-gas_n_1208875.html

    Well, I was talking about overall energy production and consumption and whether there was anything there that would make our economy grow more rapidly than others; but somehow it has turned into the topic of natural gas for electricity.

    But even so, if you read that article, the guy at Carnegie Mellon notes that the advantage of using natural gas for electric production is evaporating, and the trend of adding more such plants is slowing. The implication of the headline does not match the article—which is nothing new.

    And I’m looking at other EIA figures: we have just recently reached—again—the natural gas production levels that peaked way back in the ‘70’s. So we have been here before.

    Thus I stick by my original point that there is nothing in terms of natural resources that gives us any special advantage over other places in recovering economically—if that is even what we need. I have pointed to economists who rightly maintain that our economy by 2007 was built on 2 bubbles: one real estate; and another banking. Few deny these bubbles existed, although many in Europe deny that it happened there and is at the root of their problems. Should the US even have been where it was economically in 2007? Is not the current economy more appropriate than one built on the effect of dramatically inflated bubbles?

    I could go on with examples of how we have not even used the resources we have, so why would we start doing that now? We are sitting on more oil than Saudi Arabia, but have we tapped it over my lifetime? Nope. We use Canada’s and Mexico’s, instead. My stepson, who was once headed for a geology degree has told me that we possess the largest iron ore reserves in the world in Michigan alone, while Wisconsin and Minnesota add even more. Steel producers in Japan and Europe have been screaming about an iron ore shortage for their mills. With the largest reserves in the world, should we not be the largest exporters in the world? Not even close. Canada often exports more than we do, and we are both way down on the list, although the two of us have been neck-in-neck over the years.

    Two other items while I am at it. I do not subscribe to the view that a thing has to be intercontinentally transportable for global markets to affect its price. Water has long been something that is not generally transported across continents, but the price has gradually been equalizing around the world—going up in price even where water is super-abundant. Same equalization will happen with natural gas, whether it is transported between continents or not. It is definitely run through long, long intracontinental pipelines in many places around the world.

    And I do not agree that low energy prices are the only path to a prosperous future. Just because it once was, does not mean it is eternally mandatory for any and all prosperity. The US is not lacking in ingenuity, and even if we are suffering educationally, we will survive internationally. The Germans have increased exports even when their currency was appreciating dramatically. We can do the same and we don’t need no damned cheap worthless dollar to do it.

    Enough, as I have an early morning again tomorrow.

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