Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chilly weather

Not much to blog about lately, I have a limited scope of work for
blogging because I don't blog about the most important things in life:
family, work etc, and lately I don't really care about politics (we're
firmly on the 'we're going to have to nuke them from orbit path', so,
down the hatch!). All that leaves is travel blogging, the weather and
scatological topics, and I've been hesitant to write about where I'm at,
especially if I am north of Veracruz, up in eruption of sudden machine
gun battle territory.

That just leaves scatological themes, such as the ever insightful TJIC
being out of action due to as they say on tv; irregularity. The key
insight I could suggest was whatever you do, don't take medicine for
stomach problems, just go somewhere you have line of sight access to
a bathroom, drink liquids and rest. Also, enjoy the weight loss, the
only way I've been able to lose any weight the past few years is to
dance with Monteczuma.

So blogging will probably continue being light, until I get some
insight into some other topic, or a muse comes to visit, but lately
I've been fairly unamused.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bucket List

If taking a dump on a mexican bus while riding from Poza Rica
to Veracruz was on my bucket list, it's scratched off now. I
made the mistake of ordering something for lunch that wasn't
what I thought it was.

I asked for Steak Pimientado, which I translated as pepper
steak, a piece of hamburger with pepper. In Poza Rica, that
is translated as flank steak with black pepper, plus enough
spicy pepper that I was sweating on the back of my head. I
dove into the baked potato for some relief, it was just as
spicy if not spicier.

All in all, a very mistaken lunch, especially since I had
to take a 5 hour bus ride back to Veracruz. Not a good place
to have a tumultuous stomach, but I survived. The strange
thing is the toilet seat on the bus is spring loaded, so it
does a "no time for sargeants" salute when you get up. Adding
in the bumps on the road, the net acceleration wanted to turn me
into a toilet launched projectile.

The buses in Mexico are pretty good, the ADO Platinium
and GL buses are nicer than most planes now, and bus frequency is
similar to a good train system. There were no nice buses available
for this trip, I expected to be seated on a 1950's era school bus
with people carrying chickens, but in reality it was just the same,
slightly more crowded and without free headphones. I took a coworker's
advice and bought a 2nd child ticket for half price, and that gave me
enough room to take a nap.
buses available

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tubing the interwebs

The weather down here in southern Mexico has been very cool,
lows down around 14-15 deg C. The houses here are just cinder-block
boxes with a thin film of paint and stucco, so the weather inside
feels remarkably similar to the weather outside with a time delay
due to the thermal capacity of the building. Last night it was
warm until 1 am even though it was pretty cool outside by then, but
by 6 am it felt pretty frosty inside.

I've got several presentations for work this week, plus lots of stuff
to write, but I can't seem to drink enough tea to clear out the cobwebs
today, so I'm pretty much just tubing the interwebs. A poor sort of tubing
without a 2nd tube containing an icechest of beer.

Reading Sharon over at smART, she's poetic even when describing getting out
of the hospital.

On the ride home I just looked out the window and watched the lights from the chemical plants shimmering in the dark across the Ohio River. When I was a little kid coming home from North Hills Passavant finally, I remember having the same thoughts…

What is it like to be just one light shining across the water like that, at night


It's always scary reading about being in the hospital. I hope she gets better soon.

....It's now 30 minutes later and I haven't even managed to open powerpoint.
Apart from the bitter cold 60 degree temps last night, we got a good scare
coming in the door. We opened the gate to the carport/patio area when we
arrived home and found the skytv remote inside by the gate. I was pretty
certain it meant we had been robbed of our few meager possessions (everything
is still in the shipment) and they dropped the remote when trying to lift the
tv over the wall.

I crept around the house turning on lights, with my finger ready to be
extended into pistol position (bang bang, take that fargin iceholes).
Everything was still there, unassembled sams club desk, undecorated
charlie brown christmas tree, crappiest borrowed sofa in the world
(borderline better than nothing, but thanks!) and satelitte tv/sams club
LCD TV. It turned out that a friend visiting yesterday had accidentally
picked up the remote in her purse, returning it
on a late-night ninja through the gate mission.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Houston Parking trap - Mexican Consulate

We had to go to the Mexican consulate in Houston a couple of times
this week. The rules for going to the Mexican consulate are: don't
bring any electronics or cell phones, the begging guy outside wants
money not food and most importantly, don't park in the Houston City
Parking lot at the corner.

The first time I went, I didn't see the entrance to the public lot,
and there are 5 or 6 people flagging to park in private lots. I grudgingly
paid $8 to park in one, and I had to make a trip back to the lot to bring
out a handful of cell phones and gadgets.

The next day we made attempt number two for the visa and I parked in
the public lot for 50 cents per hour. I paid an hour, we went in and
came out 45 minutes later to find a ticket. They gave me a ticket because
I had reversed into the spot (as I almost always do). I saved $8 on
the flag wavers, but paid $35 to the cocksuckers at the city.

Since there is a faggot meter maid parked in the lot, I'd assume almost everyone
gets a ticket for something. I paid the ticket, but I liberally sprinkled
bad karma on the check.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Medal of Honor

One good side-effect of President Obama being in
charge is the press is less in the tank against
the military. The American network (mostly cbs+Oprah)
showed a 60 minutes interview with SSgt Giunta, the
Medal of Honor winner.

If you get a chance to watch it you should. SSgt
Giunta was very modest, he said 'I haven't given
anything, Sgt Brennan gave everything.'

Where do we get such men?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Good luck America

I couldn't vote today, as an expat without any local residence
it doesn't seem possible to absentee vote anywhere, but my good
wishes go with those in the tea party that seem to agree with what
I want; as small a federal government as possible, almost all government
should be within rock throwing distance.

I've tried explaining to foreigners our political system, how
America really was better than most places, and that's not just
nationalism. Unfortunately our current government isn't better,
it's not any better than Europe, and really just the dollar being
the reserve currency separates us from Mexico, where most of the
population lives in un-airconditioned cinderblock shacks, and are
the hardest working people in the world because if they don't work
they won't eat.

Our only hope is to try to dial back the clock as far back as possible.
People have to be self reliant. The government should be as the founding
fathers intended, small and mostly powerless. If most of the power and
the rights are reserved for the people, then they will be self sufficient
or starve.

The founding fathers were an amazing group, they had been educated post-
enlightenment, but still classically educated so that they knew the
dangers of too much central power. That their system worked until the
20th century as intended shows how smart they were. We don't need another
revolution, or another constitution, we just need to follow the one we have
more closely, without interpretation from liberal judges.

The first step on that road are the tea partiers running for election right
now, and people like Governor Christie in New Jersey. Hopefully the
great country of the usa will rise from it's current problems, and I won't have
to spend my declining years shaking a wrinkled fist at the CNN on the TV
from somewhere far south of I-10.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Multivax

I signed up last year for emails from Casey Research, they
send out a monthly email called "conversations with Casey".
It's mostly on investing in gold and commodities, and diversifying
into other countries before the fit hits the shan.

Always interesting and they've been right so far, gold I bought last
year is up 30%...even more interesting this month they mentioned their
interest in scifi writing and linked to Speculator's Fiction

They included a link to an Isaac Asimov short story, from the 50's but
still excellent and it's called the Last Question.

You can go read it and access the MultiVax at the same site.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All your factories are belong to us

Over at the Belmont Club, wretchard points out the chinese
professor ad.
It's a pretty effective ad for me, it brings to mind the book "The Good Earth",
one generation builds, the next generation squanders.

This was all predicted before. The politician I most agreed with
was Ross Perot. He often sounded crazy to average people because
he presented things in a way that required a knowledge about how business,
systems and history work. His craziness has proved prescient. That
great sucking sound of jobs leaving happened, the jobs first went to
Mexico, then to China.

Other countries are playing mercantilism chess
while the USA is playing hope and change checkers, and we're
most likely fucked. I doubt the outcome will be like the chinese ad because
even though we owe more than we can ever repay the idea of
strategic default is slowly percolating up from the worst deadbeats,
to not so deadbeats, to middle class people caught in the housing
bubble and in 5 years it will be national policy.

If we default against a weaker rival that is powerless it won't be
a big deal. If we default against the most populous and powerful country
in the world it will be more a pimp/ho situation of "where's my money
bitch?" Probably better to strategically default now and start over
while we've got the military strength to stop angry collection agents.
Sort of a My Bodyguard technique. I don't have your money now, but if you'd like to complain please
speak to my friend the US Navy.

Thankfully here in Mexico we're able to watch some usa channels,
but we don't have to watch any political adds. it's all too depressing
for me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You can't go to waffle house again

I'm stuck in houston, i missed a flight back south
when the connecting flight had a mechanical problem.
Continental gave me a hotel voucher for a hotel, but
a shuttle from a different hotel came cruising up and asked
me if I have a voucher, if so I could use it there. Pretty
creepy, but sounded like a good deal and meant i wouldn't have
to stand on the curb anymore like a cheap hooker.

Continental gave me vouchers for meals tool
Since there's a waffle house in front of the hotel, and
when I worked in north lafayette 20 years ago, I ate
there almost every day that I wasn't offshore. Unfortunately
it wasn't too great, not as good as I remember. Doh, I wasted
a continental voucher.

Not too bad though I guess, compared to the book "the Road",
a waffle house sandwich would be much appreciated in post apocalyptic
america. I read that book on the flight up, and it scared the shit
out of me. worse than "IT" from stephen king. Made me miss
a night's sleep scary. Great book though.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New country song

I was just passing through the security theater line
here in IAH, where everyone goes through the motions of being
safer, but a 4 year old could think of ways to get a weapon
through. The guy behind me grabbed his stuff off the conveyor,
and holding his shoes and his belt in one hand, a plastic bag and
a computer in the other and supporting his other bags under his
arms. He dropped it all on a chair and said "Fuck it. I ain't
gonna fly anymore."

Which hit exactly what everyone in the line was feeling too, and
would make a really terrific country song:

I got my belt and my boots in a grey plastic tray
my bag's in another one, sent on it's way
an overpaid security guard is telling me to wait,
I used to like traveling, but I'm beginning to hate
Fuck it. I aint gonna fly anymore.

Crappy little seats that are too small to sit
It's raining hard outside my cigarette won't stay lit
Six dollars a drink for stale old beer
the pilots up front probably too drunk to steer.
fuck it...etc.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Keep Looking Up!

Watts up with that had a post pointing out that
Jupiter will be at opposition and at the closest approach to earth for
the next 12 years on the night of the 21st/22nd. He dedicated the post
to Jack Horkheimer who apparently died last month.

Dang.

When I was in school I always tuned in to whatever show was on
pbs at 10 pm so that I could see the Stargazer show at 10:30.

Jack Horkheimer's enthusiasm got me to learn most of the northern
hemisphere sky and always look up when I walk outside at night.
It's a comforting feeling that no matter where I am in the world I can
look up at night and see familiar stars and constellations.

...always, keep looking up!

taxes



I've been reading the debate over on the Big Picture blog in
the comments about tax rates. Should they raise taxes, or just for
the "rich" people. I strongly believe that people will work less at higher tax rates. I know I don't work more for more money at my current tax rate. (Meaning
my real job that I make my salary for I'll work as hard as it takes, if someone offered me money to go to a rig and work I wouldn't even though I have in the past)

But I don't think our problem is a receipts problem that needs new taxes
but a spending problem. You can look at the above table, and see that with the tax cuts revenue decreased $145 billion from 2000 to 2004, spending increased $503 billion. Even with this glut of spending (Iraq, Afganistan, bloat) by 2007 the
deficit was only $160 billion and decreasing by $70B per year. If not
for the crash, we'd be in surplus now. So no new taxes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rivers rising



The main effect of the storm was delayed by a day. There was 200 mm of
rain up in the hills above Cordoba and all of it is flowing down into
the rivers feeding into the Jamapa River. They are evacuating the subdivisions
close to the mouth of the river, using school buses, boats and helicopters.

Where's the US navy, it would be a good moment for some marine helicopters
to show up.

To help send money to the Mexican red cross:

http://www.cruzrojamexicana.org.mx/pagnacional/index.jsp

Friday, September 17, 2010

Storm over

The rain has stopped and the storm seems past.
Someone is already out in the surf playing, and
the major problems outside seem to be trees down.
The satellite loop shows the storm starting to
dissipate over land. Good riddance

The hotel has some damage, part of the entry way
was ripped off and the skytv satellite isn't working.
I'd expect wherever the storm came ashore could be pretty damaged,
here there is Cat 1 damage and we're 30 miles south of landfall,
I hope everyone is ok where it came ashore.

Looking more carefully at the map here, the beach faces northeast,
so I need to rotate any wind directions I gave 45 degrees.

I'd give pretty crappy ratings to the news here, they barely
mentioned the storm until it was 3 hours from landfall, then
after it made landfall they were saying it's just the eye and much
worse is coming. (probably true for the people just north of landfall,
but not for here) That got the hotel to bring everyone down to the lobby,
if there was any real danger they were 3 hours too late.

No Salgan!



The palm trees outside look exactly like the graphics that the
cbs new station used to use in New Orleans when there was a
hurricane watch, it always scared the heck out of me when I was
small....a hurricane is watching me? Yikes!

Local news is saying that we're seeing hurricane force
winds here in Veracruz boca del rio. The only recommendation
they are giving is don't go outside, the eye is touching the coast
and wind may drop off.

tv report:
Trees are down everywhere and electricity is out in some subdivision.
Some streets are flooding, with half a meter of water. "its an extreme situation"
and some palm trees are projectiles.

Wind is due east, blowing straight down the boulevard parallel to the coast.

The news is interviewing people going out to buy food, "si no compramos tortillas
falta para comer". Zero preparation here. Of course I have to walk downstairs
in a few minutes, if the hotel says they have no food then all I have is a
pack of almonds. doh.

Hurricane Blogging, Karl, 11 am

Power just blinked off and came back on, i think the hotel
is on a generator now, the lights seem dimmer and the wifi
signal is almost zero. Hopefully the generator has diesel
for several days.

The government is now saying to stay in place if you're in
a strong structure. I think they are missing the idea of a
forecast that would have said yesterday to be ready to go to
a shelter. There's a problem with the coverage we get in the
USA, sensationalism from the weather channel and news ('we're
all gonna die'), but here it's too far the other way, they are
talking about preparations and the center of the storm is almost
onshore. The real problem will be flooding of already full rivers.

Here the wind appears to be from the southeast, the waves are
mostly blown down and flat, any crests are swept up by the wind
in a flash of spray. The corridor outside is filling up with water
from blowing rain, and the satellite tv is down, other than that
and the power, not much effect. If no more posts that means the
lights went off.

Karl, 9:30 am

Note to self: Don't open the window in a hurricane.
I tried to crack open the window and stick my cell phone
out to film the surf. The wind looks calm because I'm in
the lee of the hotel, but as I crack open the window the
curtains were sucked out and billowed out towards the sea.

I got them back in, but it was a struggle, sort of a Lucille
Ball type fight, when I let go with one hand to push the window
shut a different piece of curtain went out the window.

The surf is laying down somewhat and the wind has changed from
an oooooo to a higher pitch, more like steel groaning. Spooky.

Not much on Mexican TV about the storm, they're still using up
their footage of the independence day parade. Different from US
news reports where it would be 24/7 stories on this 'possibly very
dangerous storm". (ok, i take that back, they just announced it's
category 4 and the whole state of Veracruz is on alert, a little bit
late to go on alert.)

Hurricane Blogging, Karl, morning update

It's 8 o'clock in the morning, the wind is moaning
awoooooooooooooo, and the waves are higher than the
breakwaters that extend out perpendicularly from the beach,
but the waves are spent by the time they hit the seawall,
and that's 15 feet high, so no big deal.

The latest center update is 60 miles away, and the center should
pass 30 miles north of here. Looking out of the hotel to the
south out of the lee of the structure, the wind looks like
it is from the SSW, which means the center is almost due north
from here.

Hopefully the worst is past and things should be
nice and calm by lunch. There is one outlier on the models
that show the storm approaching the coast, then dribbling
back east. That would suck.

It's kind of neat watching the waves build up, the spray blows
off the top then it curls over. It's especially neat being
30 feet higher up inside a cinderblock building with internet
and hot coffee.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hurricane Blogging, Karl

it's 12:30 am and a pretty good squall is passing here in
Veracruz, wind sounds like it's 30-40 mph and the waves are
marching against the seawall in long white parallel lines.

Hurricane Blogging




I'm in Mexico and strangely enough there's hurricane headed right
here. I've been watching weatherunderground when the hotel's
internet is up, and as usual the projected track is behind the model
response. Eg. An outlier model points off the main forecast, then the
other models start to agree with the outlier, then they adjust the
forecast track. The key learning is when just one model points in your
direction and you have an easy option to leave and go to Mexico City
or Little Rock...then start to make plans to go there.

In theory the forecast takes it north of here enough that it will just
be windy and rainy, but the drumbeat from the surf is getting louder
by the hour, by morning the waves will be crashing on the seawall.

It's a big hotel, built up high and pretty sturdy looking, at this point
probably safer than being on the road at night, so I'll hang out here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

bloglinks gone

I took off all links to other blogs, blogrolling.com is triggering
a malware warning from google chrome. Not that anyone would notice,
this really is just a note to remind me to learn the real way to post
a blogroll, blogrolling appears to have issues.

Feliz Compleanos a Mexico

September 16th is the 200th anniversary of the "Grito of Dolores"
that started the the war of Mexican independence from Spain.

My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen by three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once… Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government! Death to the gachupines![3]


Reading the wikipedia entry for the war of Mexican Independance,
it sounds like the Spanish were more relentlessly evil in fighting
the rebels; Hidalgo who delivered the Grito was executed by the
Inquisition. I'm not sure if the spanish were more evil than the British
or just more competent at putting down revolution, but like the Indian
independence movement, the independence of the USA depended partially on
the British not being relentless and evil. (If the British had put more
effort to capturing and executing leading rebels in the first 2 years
when the continental army lost almost every battle, the revolution might
have fizzled.)

Anyway, the celebrations of the night before the Dia de la independenca
are on every channel on TV here and I should go out and drink beer, but I
have to catch a bus in the morning. (Nice bus with flat screens showing
movies, no chickens or goats)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A test, Government sucks

I blogged about some recent travel woes last week
and posted by accident on my old blog url, complaining specifically
about orbitz.com and continental. Strangely enough Orbitz
posted a comment, then apologized and gave me a voucher.

I can see that my blogs have power over time and space now,
so as an experiment, I'd like to say that I think Obama is doing
a poor job as president, and the government sucks. Can I please
have a non-obama voucher?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Katrina Revisited

e're in the New Orleans area for a few days and
it's the 5th anniversary of Katrina. We didn't see
much riding through town, it looks like NO east is still
pretty beat up looking though.

Watching the coverage of Katrina from a local news perspective
made me go back to see what I wrote at the time, and it made
me think I would have done a better job as governor or mayor
than those dodos did.


Mayor Nagin just ordered a mandatory evacuation, by
reading the legaleze version of the order instead of saying
more plainly it is time to leave, and if you don't leave no
one will come rescue you.

Hopefully it wasn't poorly executed and too late.

Governor blanco just mentioned that President Bush called to
make sure there was a mandatory evactuation.

She keeps mentioning being blessed, and she keeps repeating
herself and mentioning flying in and looking at the traffic.
Instead of a governor she is really just a traffic reporter
and a bad one at that.

I voted for Bobby Jindal, and I wish that fast talking guy had
won.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Airport floor blogging

I'm traveling from europe back to the western hemisphere
and my laptop's battery died. There are power plugs in one
of the houston terminal b corridors of despair, but non are
near a chair so I must sit indian style on the ground, looking
like an unjolly budda.

I did miss a flight yesterday and get stuck in Rome. The
other option was waiting six hours then flying standby to spend
the night in Newark. For some reason I chose Rome over Newark.
I did a nice hike from the Vatican to the Pantheon, then
through all the fori and all the way south to some
(caracella?) pretty impressive ruins of a giant bathhouse.

I then walked back around towards the vatican following the Tiber.
A pretty good walk, it's possible to see almost all the sights of
Rome on an extended walking tour. it took me 4 hours total, including
gawking time. Rome isn't my favorite city, it's too frenetic, but
a nice quiet walk along the river certainly does raise it up on my
list of best places.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pre-Cambrian consensus

An interesting article in the NYTimes today on pre-cambrian animals
and geology. I remember from my freshman biology class the Cambrian
explosion, when all the different animals first appeared in the fossil record.
The NYTimes article shows how that record was changed, that now the
Ediacaran period has been added to the geologic timesscale before the
Cambrian, and some complex precambrian animals have been found.

The irony is the first discoverer of these animals submitted the information
to a conference and scientific journals, but was rejected.

Sprigg was excited by both the unusual appearance of the fossils and by their age, which he believed to be the beginning of the Cambrian, and made them the oldest animal forms yet seen. But despite their potential importance, Sprigg’s discoveries were ignored at an international geology meeting and his paper describing the fossils was rejected by the leading journal, . Sprigg moved on to other, more rewarding pursuits in the oil, gas, and mining industries.

This is the way that science should work, new physical information should eventually
cause the theories to be rewritten. What shouldn't happen is a consensus view should
prevent the collection of new information for 50 years. Even something that is very proven, such
as geological history can be updated with bette information. I don't think the NYtimes
noticed the irony, their normal website is all global warming, all the time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vacation - Napoli and Sorrento


We went to Napoli
and sorrento on
vacation last week,
and we got to see
Pompeii, Capri
and the Amalfi
coast.

[view of Vesuvius
from Sorrento]



It's too hot in southern Italy to actually go outside during July, but we did anyway
leading to our visit to Pompeii being like the bataan death march.

We stayed a few days in Napoli, (best pizza in Italy) then moved down
the coast to Sorrento taking a hydrofoil across the bay. The hotel in Sorrento
was the Plaza that has a rooftop pool. I'd like a service that could pick you up
by helicopter in Pompei and just fly back and drop you in that pool.

Unfortunately there's no service yet, so we took the CircumVesuviano train
back around to Sorrento, which is a pretty hot dust covered crowd leaving
Pompei. Luckily the Plaza is only about 2 blocks from the station, so we were
safely submerged in cool water 15 minutes after getting back.

The key to getting the best experience out of Pompeii is to go to the Archealogical
museum in Napoli first. Our bad luck there was a strike or some protest
that meant it was open, but we'd have to cross a crowd of angry napolitanos to
get in; no thanks. Most of the best mosaics and casts of people killed in Pompeii
were there.

Also I didn't get up to Herculanum and Vesuvius itself. I figure that next time
we come back it will still be here. After our vacation in NYC in August 2001 I
thought we'd have another chance to go to the WTC and go up to the roof, since
it was rained out when we went. But no. In this case we should be pretty safe
that no jerkwad is going to fly a plane into mount Vesuvius (they are welcome to
try though) so we'll go back some day to Napoli to eat the excellent deserts and
go to the museum and up to the volcano.

2012 - Spoilers

[Spoilers ahead, don't read if you haven't seen the movie]

I watched 2012 last night in HD and the movie did have some
fantastic effects, sort of like a giant chase scene with the Earth
in the pursuit role. I thought the plot was similar to deep impact
and day after tomorrow, but the actions of the government officials
were dumber and more venal.

If the big risk is giant tsunamis, and the solution is to build giant Arks
on mountains, why outsource building of ships in the mountains of Tibet
to the chinses? why would the chinese take our money, build the ships
and then not say "screw off" when the disaster happens. And charging
people 1Billion euros for a ticket seems pretty bs too, if I had several billion
dollars I could build a pretty kick-ass submarine for me and my friends
(ok, it could be a pretty small submarine).

But on the gripping hand, our normal government officials are pretty dumb
and pretty venal, and if there is some looming disaster that they know about
and we don't, we're pretty screwed. The government is just stupid enough
to fill the Arks with a bunch of 70 year old politicians and just male soldiers.
So I guess the movie was a true representation of what is likely. Doh.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blues under the tuscan sun


I made the last night
of the Pistoia blues festival yesterday
and i finally got to see Robert Cray live.
A really exelllent show, 5 hours of non-stop
blues. Robert Cray and Jimmy Vauhan both
got a little more than an hour, and
Bob put on a show that demonstrated
why he had top billing.

The Italian blues singers were excellent
too, singing in perfect southern
bluesy english, then speaking in italian
sounded pretty weired. Frencesco
Piu was the best blues singer, just one
man with an acoustic guitar, but he only
had 3 songs.

oh well, back to emilia romagna.

Updated back home, added pictures, links.

The other group that played that has a really big future is Cedric Burnside and
Lightnin' Malcolm from Holly Creek Mississippi. Just a Drummer and lead guitar
and they both sang, but they really tore the heck out of their instruments.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Baby rescued from bathwater

A judge has blocked the deepwater drilling ban, which even
though I'm not a fan of judges doing anything other than say
guilty or not guilty, is a good thing. The blanket ban was a bad
idea because waiting six months just kicks the ball down the field
for 6 months, there's not much technology wise that is going to change,
and just deciding to stop drilling in deepwater is bad for everyone
involved (except maybe the pelicans)

I think that bp is guilty of stupidity and their design and operating decisions
probably caused this disaster, so there's some quick fixes that can allow
drilling to continue on most rigs:

- dual shear rams required on every bop
- Before every well is spudded, a joint of drillpipe needs to be sheared. (Before latching onto the wellhead, stop running riser, run drillpipe in the hole and shear off a chunk. repeat each well using the largest diameter drillpipe onboard)
- once per year all bop's tested on the surface. first test must happen within 90 days.
- test closure of bop's using the ROV's (apparently when they tried to close the shear rams after the blowout using the rov's the piping leaked. It was never tested.
- remote acoustic control of bop's required by 2012
- review all well designs so that they conform with standard best practice (it sounds like a lot, but there's only50 rigs drilling in deepwater)
-cement bond logs required over every section with hydrocarbons or with direct annular path to surface. Or just make it every section. Current law requires logs over the entire wellbore, just add a cbl.
- answer is no for all exemptions that are for saving operating time, eg changing riser mud out when the well is still live, using a single casing string instead of a liner with a tieback, etc.

Even if some of these requirements stop drilling for a little while, the current deepwater ban means they want us to wait 6 months while they make this list, then begin compliance with a list that will be similar. Start now. If the well is dead, pull and inspect all bop components and do a full bop test, install redundant shear rams and test their ability to cut drillpipe. If the bop doesn't pass then that rig is banned until it passes.



Sunday, June 20, 2010

I see blue people

We finally watched avatar yesterday on DVD. There are probably
some watusi tribesmen herding cattle that haven't seen it, but other
than them we were probably the last people to see it. Since it wasn't
in 3D I was expecting a "meh" type response, but I liked it.

The story inhabits a similar universe as Aliens, and even with all the
plot holes that I was expecting from the chatter on the interwebs, JC
got me to buy in and think of the blue guys as the good guys. Hopefully
it will be shown in 3d at theaters again sometime when we're back in
the western hemisphere.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Go USA!

Sky TV wants me to pay more to watch the world cup games, my
all-inclusive calcio (football) package doesn't actually include any
games that I care about seeing. Oh well, I can still follow the game
on espn's gamecast, and since the US just tied england 1-1, I've got
a good feeling about this tournament.

The Saints won the superbowl and it was a cold enough winter to indicate
hell might have a heavy snow if not frozen over completely, so the next
miracle to occur will be when the USA wins the world cup. Yes we can!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Oily pelicans

Watching videos of oil soaked pelicans I'm staring to get annoyed
with the response from both BP and the government. I realize the federal
government can do little now except clench jaws and shake fists, but
they could have allowed more berms to be build to protect the wetlands,
brought more booms in, etc. But that is the response I expect from the feds,
too slow, ponderous etc, and anyone that bets their lives or livelyhoods on
the federal repsonse is a fool. (doesn't matter which gang is in charge)

The thing that is pissing me off today is an article on the oil drum, which
always has interesting articles and commentary and has been following this
disaster in real-time. BP apparently had an incident back in 2003 where
the riser parted and the only thing seperating the well they were drilling and
a massive spill was the Blow-Out Preventers worked. They apparently didn't
learn anything from that and design and build any additional machinery
in case of a similar incident and a massive spill. So they learned nothing from
a very near miss.

In the end it will be a series of failures that caused this accident, bad planning
bad luck and finally the single point of failure, those "pinchers" failed and there
was no backup plan. The result will be we'll end up with the obamafication of the
bp portion of the deepwater production portfolo to pay for this disaster, to the
detriment of both the offshore oil industry in the US, and 3 or 4 years down the
line when we really need that production to prevent $200 oil prices the production
won't be there because it's being shut down and delayed by stopping the permitting
process now.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Early article on the Black Swan

One of the books that has really affected my thinking over the past
few years is "The Black Swan" by Nassim Taleb. The Big Picture linked
to an article from 2002 before the Black Swan was written describing how
NNT made his money. Excellent article, required reading for people with
time machines that will go back to 1996.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

airport bloggin


Picture looking from
St sophia's to the
other monastery
at the end of the
street.












I'm at munich airport flying back home from Ukraine. Yesterday was a pretty
long day, took a train to Poltava and back in the evening. Everyone else went out
again for a last 4 hours on the town before a 6 am flight, but I p'd out and crawled
into bed for 4 hours of deeply needed sleep.

I just encountered my first really inefficient germans, while struggling through
security before coming through immigration. The security setup was running
like a well oiled barrel of monkeys with a football; taking 1/2 hour to get 1o people
through. Anyone with a close connection was screwed right there. I felt like
yelling 'what kind of germans are you?', but probably not a good idea.








Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kiev blogging

I've been in Kiev, Ukraine for most of this week. It's a nice city that
gives you a scare when you leave the airport, blocks of russian style
apartments that look like they were crappy when they were built. Then they
stop and you have to drive another 20 minutes to the city. Then downtown
is pretty nice.

Very few people speak any english here, but everyone speaks Ukrainian and
Russian. It's still a very low trust society, the hotel bill is paid when you
check in, and to charge something to your room you have to prepay a credit
to your account.

I have had more vodka this week then I've had since LSU. It kind of forces you
to drink the next night too, because the only thing that helps with the hangovers
I've had every day is a beer. I think my liver will fly back to Italy before me, trying
to make it's escape.

The one afternoon I had to play tourist and the weather turned crappy. I got to see
St Sophia and the museum, but it took me two tries to get in. They have a ticketbooth
in the big gatehouse you enter through, with a sign in english that says 50 hrivna
(pronounced "grivna")for a combination ticket. I gave the lady a 50, she gave me 45
back in change and a ticket.

I walked into the courtyard, an older guy was playing a sitar and singing in a really good
voice. When I tried to enter the cathedral, the lady said no, 'need ticket, giftshop'. grr.
I tried in the next building that looked like a giftshop, but it's a crappy museum with cool
amber pieces, but it's all in ukrainian so who knows what that's about. The equally fat
amber museum ladies say 'not right ticket, giftshop' and point to the entrance. I'm steamed
now, the old guy is still playing the sitar, but the music hurts my ears, he's probably
singing about americans that can't get in to see the cathedral. grrr. Back at the entrance
there's a little trailer to the left of the main gate. doh! it's has 6 price options, none
of them total to 50 hrivna, and the unlikely total to see everything is around 200 hrivna.
I give her a 100 and ask for everything and make finger motions that indicate everthing.
She gives me back 60 in change. I wanted to yell what the hell are you giving me, none of
the options total up to the price you charged me. grrr.

I walk back to the cathedral, the guy is still singing, I give him 5 hrivna, expecting him
to switch from his dirge to NY, NY; but he doesn't. The catheral is beautiful. It's one
of the few that weren't knocked down by the soviets, and it looks similar to San Vitale in
Ravenna, just not as old. (11 century vs 5th century.)

Everything here has a bureaucratic feel. Hopefully things will get better. There are a lot
of people here that are beautiful with nice cars, then the 50 and above generation all look
shabbier.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Euro in trouble?

The Instapundit linked to an article talking about the Euro's current
steep decline down to 1.23E/$. When I started to panic two weeks ago,
and decided to send what spare cash I had back home the euro was at 1.33,
by the time I could wire the money and my stupid bank posted it, it was
down to 1.25. Which seemed dire last week, but now I'm happy to have
gotten 1.25 when it looks like the euro is about to fall off a cliff tomorrow,
I've seen links to articles at the Big Picture that say that the 1trillion euro
rescue is being used to rescue fatcat investers, the government is just
holding the tent flap while everyone with money gets out.

Glenn Reynolds also asked what will happen if the Euro breaks up? Well,
my understanding is that euro notes and coins are issued in each country,
so that my Italian euros have famous italian landmarks, and if the euro
cracks up my italian euros would become liras again, german euros would
become deutchmarks etc. I heard this during the crisis a couple of years
ago, and at the time I thought it might be good to go to Germany and take
out a few thousand german euros from an ATM. But too much trouble.

A better plan would be if the euro is really in trouble and goes below 0.8,
then make the germany trip, change dollars for german euros and then
exchange them for DM after the dust settles.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Deepwater Horizon and tuna fishing

The New York times has a good story based on eyewitness accounts to
the deepwater horizon accident. (If a story is non-political, they tend to do
a good job and I'll read it all day, on politcal stories they are slanted too far
to the left)

They have the same problem that all non-oilfield people have, they describe
the operation as:


The job of sinking the well had gone relatively smoothly — extending the well, pipe by pipe, until it punched through to the oil below. Then the crew shoved a final long stretch of pipe deep into the reservoir.
The problem with this description is it implies that the pipe is shoved
into the reservoir, like pushing a straw into mud. The reality is that
each hole section is drilled with a bit, then casing is run into the hole
then progressively smaller bits are used for the next section, followed
by smaller casing. Each string of casing is cemented by pumping cement
down the inside of the pipe, then up the annular space. The shallower
strings of casing have cement that goes all the way back up to the
wellhead on the seafloor. The deeper sections might only
have enough cement to isolate the openhole section of casing.

Then the times goes into the speculation that everyone is making,
and they start off with attacking the cementing company, which just
happens to be haliburton. They were using a foamed cement
that is normal practice for all cementing companies to use in deepwater,
because it is low enough in density to not fracture the formation while
being pumped. I wonder if they publish this speculation just because
it's haliburton, when it's been several years since haliburton sold off
Brown and Root, the object of liberal's ire.

A really interesting link to fishing forum with a post from an eyewitness
from a fishing boat. They witnessed something horrible, and tried to
help but were warned off by bigger boats, but in true coonass fashion:

We stayed a mile off the fire and searched/listened for missing ppl for 4 hours. We saw nothing. 20 or so commercial liners eventually brought Medics and oxygen for survivors. Helicopter came for search and transport. All the other facts you probably already know about; via News. The 11 missing people in 'mind' I hope slipped away in a safety boat, but in reality I doubt they are alive. This is a sad thing to say, but if you would have seen the explosions you wouldn't believe anyone of the 126 would have survived it! I pray for all of them and their families! We left at morning to make our way in, we were 60 miles offshore and gas was running low. We stopped at Elf on the way in and filled the ice chest.

The tuna were busting on top water and we couldn't resist. We left the half way point in hopes to make it home. The starboard motor ran out of gas at the very mouth of the river, but fortunately we had a spare gas tank on board! We made it to Venice at about 3pm on Wednesday and began cleaning the fish.

Tom Clancy at it again

One of the first things I thought of on 9/11 after hearing that
the planes were crashed by terrorists was that those guys copied
the idea from Tom Clancy. Yesterday when the markets went tits
up, and it was explained a fat finger followed by program trading
it seemed like maybe someone else read "Debt of Honor"

"Even as the military mission begins, the cabal engineers the collapse of the American stock market by exploiting flaws in the program trading systems at major brokerages, and then deletes all trade records. With a massive economic crisis, and panic and chaos in America's homeland, it is hoped that America will be too distracted to quickly respond to military adventures."

Maybe the taliban has a trading desk and sold a billion shares of PG causing the
crash. I suggest that americans stay alert. If your broker recently spent 5 months in
Pakistan. has a 'death to the american satan' poster (or at least a serious knee injury
to the great satan poster) and fat fingers, then be alert.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Deepwater Horizon and similarities to Katrina

I'm starting to see some calls in the blogosphere and the news that Obama
should have reacted sooner to the disaster in the gulf. There are some similarities
and some differences between this disaster and when Katrina hit, and in the
same waythat it was unfair how much blame Bush took for Katrina, maybe we
shouldn't throw too many stones at Obama.

For the It's Obama's fault side:

This was a disaster out at sea, in federal waters, no one else had any regulatory oversight
There was no collateral damage like Katrina where the major roads and interstates were
cut at multiple places, the feds had free access all the way to Venice, LA.
There was no raging storm blocking everything.
There was full information available, the people who knew best what was happening were
available for interviews after less than a day at sea.

For the it's not Obama's fault side:

The federal government does not have a magic wand to sooth all hurts instantly.
From where I sit, the leak didn't seem very bad for several days. At first it seemed
like the oil was coming from fuel onboard. (very similar to Katrina, where the storm passed
and everything seemed ok for several hours.)
BP was making noises very similar to the ones fema made before Katrina, 'we're
prepared, we've got miles of booms', etc.


Reading over my partial lists, the key difference here is that during Katrina there
was a bad ass storm that destroyed infrastructure from east of Baton Rouge to
Florida, short of dropping the 82nd airborne into N.O. there wasn't much more
that was possible and due to politcal problems the Governor of LA never asked
for help until later, a requirement for federal troops to come, so really it was a city
and state problem.

The deepwater horizon was a purely federal problem, the states have no input
to safety in federal waters, get only a small portion of money from the 8g fund
and aren't involved in licensing, safety reviews or inspections. The Feds have complete
authority over the operation, can stop drilling, intervene in well designs, after the
fire had full visual coverage of the disaster and had people on the ground while
the disaster was unfolding.

I'm changing my answer, it's Obama's fault.

(I joke, I joke, I kid, I kid, if I offend I'm sorry. I don't think he bears any more responsibility than bush did for the sloppy response to Katrina)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Black Swan comes home to roost

Anthony Watts at What's up with that blog has an excellent
essay with photos showing what happened at the Deepwater
Horizon, some of the best information about what happened out
there, when no one from BP has given any details about what
was going on at the time of the disaster, and I've given up on
speculating because I feel similar to after 9/11; it's hard to believe
such a big rig burned up and sank taking 11 men with it.

What is clear to me is this was a Black Swan. BP's emergency
response plan apparently said there was low risk of pollution and
low risk of a catastrophic accident. The definition
of a black swan is when one is operating in extremistan where large forces,
monetary flows or pent-up pressures are operating. Where on the frequency
axis, if you make an estimate of the rate of negative events you are probably
wrong, with disastrous results, and where the events are 'rare' enough that
we don't really know what the frequency distribution is, or if it has a shape at all.

Where those two axis' collide is the forth quadrant,
where it is dangerous to assume that a low frequency event will be rare
enough to not affect you, and when you are wrong people are killed,
giant structures are reduced to pillars of flame, economic systems destroyed,
cats and dogs sleep together. [This is all covered by Nassim Taleb in
The Black Swan, and more precisely in an essay called The Forth Quadrant,
which has to be one of the most important articles ever published for
free on the internet. I added the dogs and cats]







from NNT's
the fouth quadrant.












The wonderful thing about the oilfield is it is where economics and engineering
geology and mathematics are all applied to create money. There are no evil
shadow organizations needed, just the simple rule that if a project will make
more money than the discount rate plus some stated excess profit taking into
account the probability that you'll get nothing in return, the project is drilled.

...

Before anyone says that the operator (BP) or the rig owner was incompetent
or negligent, the problem doesn't come from the lack of hard work or oversite,
but of thinking that we can operate in the forth quadrant without getting burnt
occasionally. We will get hurt and accidents will happen as long as men dare to
sail the sea in ships, fly to the moon or drill the ocean depths.

.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Guests of the Ayatollah

Today is the anniversary of the Desert One disaster
during the attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran.

A fantastic excerpt from Mark Bowden's book on
this event is here.

How many things would be different if that mission had
succeeded? No 911, gulf wars 1 and 2, no president Reagan?

Here in one paragraph was a key problem with the mission:

The question of what to do with the passengers was relayed all the way to the White House. The president and his staff were deliberately going through the late-afternoon motions of a typical workday but secretly hanging on every update from the desert. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national-security adviser, relayed the unexpected problem of the bus to the president, and Carter agreed that the only thing to do was to fly all the Iranians out that night on one of the C-130s and then return them to Iran when the mission was complete.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deepwater Horizon

Rigzone's report was wrong, the 11 missing men on the deepwater horizon
weren't found, they are still missing.

The rig finally sank as can be seen in this slideshow from the times picayune
in New orleans.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fire on the Deepwater Horizon

There was a blowout and fire out on the Deepwater Horizon
which was working for BP in Mississippi Canyon 252, which is the
Maconda field. From Rigzone, it appears that they've found everyone,
yahoo is still saying 11 men are missing though, so I hope Rigzone is
correct

They were trying to plug and abandon the well after an exploration well,
I'd guess they did a well test and were trying to set a plug afterwards so
that they can move the rig to the next well, and either they swabbed in
a kick by moving the drillpipe up too quickly, or perhaps they thought they had
the well killed after the well test and it bit them in the ass. (I have no idea
what happened, i'm just speculating).

It's interesting to me because it scares the hell out of me, the idea of having to
evacuate from a burning rig is pretty much the worst case for the oilfield. On
land you can just run away, in shallow water maybe swim to land or another rig,
but in deepwater there is usually nothing within miles, and the water is 5000' deep.
To carry out an evacuation and not lose anyone is an amazing feat, and depends completely
on the professionalism of the workers of transocean and bp.

[picture from
Rigzone, better
version there)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

mmmmmm, lunch.

I just had a super good lunch at la tavolaccio, just their ordinary lunch special of
spedinni quatro formaggio for prima piatti and tonnato for secundi, piu patata al forno.

Freaking excellent. Tonnato is veal sliced thin covered in a sauce made from tuna
an mayonaise (i think). spedinni are star shaped tubular pasta that are about the
same size as kraft macaroni and cheese, but just cooked al dente with a white cheese
sauce made from 4 cheeses. Plus a half liter of wine. (doh!)

What I like about italian food is the good food isn't the outliers, I don't think there
are many 4 star italian restaurants serving minute portions of food, but the average
places are so good. Of course, this is where the truckers go too, so there's some universal
law at work of 'eat where the truckers eat'.

Lunch was topped off by a nice coffee. I think the big difference between new arrivals and
people that have lived in italy a while is the way they drink coffee. First of all, there
is a national law that says no cappuccino after lunch (or after any food, depending who you
ask). Second is when I first arrived I saw the tiny espressos and drank them in a gulp.
After a while, the sip of coffee in the espresso cup becomes 4 sips and then the real miracle
is when you realize that there is a fifth sip that include all the sugar that you put in the coffee.
(no sweet and low here).

I don't know how I'll make it back to drinking normal drip coffee. Once we get home I'm
afraid I'll be a tea drinker.

We know you have a choice when you fly...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Let slip the Professors of War

Mark Bowden has a profile of General Petraeus over at
vanity fair. Excellent as everything that Mark Bowden writes,
hopefully it's a profile of the next President.

Facing Congress, he didn’t waver. It was the same now as on the day Bush had met with him privately in the Oval Office after the Senate confirmed his selection for what most felt was an impossible mission. The general had said, “Mr. President, this isn’t double-down.… This is all-in.” It was an expression that would be repeated often within his inner circle. They were staking everything on the outcome. There could be no second thoughts, no looking back.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tirana

Well, I'm in albania and tripadvisor was right about the traffic noise
in Tirana, the sound of the cars passing almost overwhelms the sound
of the call to prayer from the mosque down the street. The lack of traffic
noise at 5 am means the morning call to prayer sounded like it was right
outside my window. Too early, I don't think I have it in me to be so devout.

From what I've seen today, the entire country looks like it's under construction,
things are definitely booming. The strangest sight was the number of bunkers,
nearly every house out in the countryside has what looks to be a machine gun
pillbox left over from the communist days when america was going to attack any
day. It did make me yearn for the days of yore when the carter administration
would gobble up small countries and grind their bones for our bread.
[update: they were worried about the soviets invading too. yeah us!]

I'd bet in 10 more years this will look like any other european country that has
a mediteranean seafront. The people here have advantages; everyone speaks
Italian and some english, they'll zoom ahead of the rest of the eastern european
countries.

(updated from vienna)
I walked around Tirana a little
before flying out, the town is much
better looking than Bucharest,
just because the Mayor took the
initiative to have buildings painted
different colors. Same drab
communist buildings...all
dressed up.

Albania will be banging in
5-10 years. (buy now)

Now I'm in Vienna, and after 2 beers ready to pass out. Sono stanco.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Devils at deem and pass

Watching the political machinations in washington as the deemocrats
sneak the healthcare bill through, it looks to me like the economy is going to
have to get much worse before it can get better. They are finally going to
kill the goose that lays the golden eggs of american exceptionalism.

Every country has smart, well educated people with new ideas, but what I think
made america different was that small percentage of innovators that combine
that education, intelligence and new ideas with ridiculously hard work that
in most countries doesn't pay off so it doesn't happen.

Here in italy people are smart, elegant and well educated, but once you reach a certain
level of income one has to pay 45% income tax plus 9% health care tax. If one has
a choice between working hard or going up to the mountains and skiing with other
beautiful people, most people here go for the skiing, the beach, the museum or
the 4 hour lunches.

Another component of america's exceptionalism is fear. If you know that you are
working without much of a net, or the idea of going on hands and knees for a handout
sickens you then working extra hard to make sure that you stay employed and get
ahead is normal. As the government becomes the source of all things, healthcare, mortgage payments, and discount cars it will become much easier to not work extra hard to get ahead but to take up the 'they pretend to pay us so I'll pretend to work mentality'.

These effects will happen much more rapidly than expected, as soon as people start
to get paychecks with less than half of gross income productivity will decline, tax revenues
will then decline leading to higher tax rates with everything spiraling downward pretty fast to
default on a debt that is pretty unpayable at this point anyway. So maybe things will
work out for the best.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Long strange trip

I'm traveling this week and I think I overdid it and have lost
the will to travel ever again. I went to Bucharest-Ploesti-Constanta-
Bucharest-Istanbul-Ankara-Istanbul-Bucharest-Forli and just
today I've been through a security checkpoint 5 times.

I was just so tired that when I checked in here in bucharest I thought
there was a mirror behind the counter, instead it's see-through to the other
side, the girl on the other side of the counter just looked almost like the
girl in front of me with her back turned towards me. Finally, the girl on
the other side of the counter turned around and in a split second before
I realized there was no mirror, it looked to me like the counter girl in front
of me had seperated from her reflection. I guess I'm tired.

But heading home now.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A good beginning

A link from The Big Picture led me to a column from Senator
Ted Kaufman of Delaware that lays out a plan for rebuilding
the financial system. It sounds pretty sensible to me, this whole
idea of Too big to fail should mean a company needs to be broken up
before it fails.

It's too long to excerpt, but here's the highlights:

The Volcker Rule: A Good Beginning
Glass-Steagall for the 21st Century
Size and Leverage Constraints: Cutting the Mega Banks and Shadow Banking System Down to Size

Hopefully something will be done to wind back the clock to the 1970's, if
there's another financial crash I don't think the USA has much left on it's credit
cards to do another bailout.

Monday, February 22, 2010

This sounds bad

Over 50 Turkish commanders held over coup plot

Police in simultaneous operations in eight cities detained 21 generals and admirals, including ex-deputy chief Gen. Ergin Saygun, former Air Force chief Gen. Ibrahim Firtina and Navy Chief Adm. Ozden Ornek. The rest were mostly colonels.

They are also accused of conspiring to plan shooting down a Turkish warplane to trigger armed conflict with Greece in a bid to destabilize the Turkish government. The military strongly denies the allegations.

Erdogan declined to comment Monday on the raids, saying they had been carried out on prosecutors' orders. However on Sunday, Erdogan said his government had not given "a chance to those who tried to fly a course for Turkey outside the law."

I have no idea what the reality is from this article, it's either the Turkish military planning on asserting control again or the Islamist government framing military members, but whatever is happening it sounds bad for Europe and for NATO.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

E pur se muove

The Gormogons have a great post explaining the denialist position
for global warming:

Further, when we hear outlandish statements that cold waves are the result of GW, and that heavy precipitation is the result of GW, and that record snowfall is the result of GW, we really question whether you are stopping to think before you speak to the press. Yeah, some science makes no sense at first: all galaxies are moving away from the others, so that if you pick a random galaxy, every other galaxy appears to be moving away from it? But then you paint dots on a balloon and inflate the balloon...and suddenly the crazy concept is perfectly obvious. We are awaiting these analogies and demonstrations. Because until they arrive, you look foolish.

Maybe if your data checked out. But day after day comes another revelation of a flawed study, or that temperatures stopped increasing, or that something was incorrectly recorded. Maybe you should just stop and start over from scratch with a fresh approach. In football, this is called a punt. Science tries them all the time, but evidently only in other fields.

Hence, in a nutshell, here is what the average Denialist actually believes (and get ready to be surprised at how off-base your assessment of our concerns could be):

Denialists believe that climate science is a new and emerging field, with new discoveries and realizations frequently changing basic assumptions. We understand that observations (in the water, on the ground, in the air) conflict and often indicate a fluid and changing nature. We fully accept that some temperatures may be increasing, that atmospheric composition could be affected by man, and that these have long-term effects which may be disastrous for millions of people.


... and they continue on from there, go read the whole thing.

I'd also add that I agree with the Jerry Pournelle point of view, we don't have enough data, we
should be spending more on data. He often references Bayesian analysis, where as more
data arrives you get a better answer (we use it for decoding noisy communications from
downhole tools)

The warmists are still stuck on the precautionary principle, because there's a risk of something
bad happening we should panic and destroy our economies in the hope of preventing this
bad thing. Even as each drip drip drip of exposed bad data tells me that the bayesian
probability of something bad happening is less and less and the correct thing to do is
gather more data.

I'm not that worried about Co2, and though I think we are close to peak oil production there
are plenty more hydrocarbons available (maybe at higher prices). We should be working
on reducing imports of hydrocarbons and trying to find the economic green energy answer
that solves our energy import answer and not the global warming answer.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Go Saints!

I'm trying to stay awake to watch the superbowl. I have to get up and
work in a few hours but luckily the well has pushed a few hours and I can
at least watch the game at home.

Update 3:45 am: Saints Win! Hot damn. I know it's foolish to follow a
sports team over 4 decades, none of the players are the same, nor coaches,
nor owners. But I'm the same, and all the rest of the fans are still the same,
the fans and the city are what make a team, players come and go, but the
city is still there. Congratulations Big Easy!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Hell freezes over, the ghost of Buddy D. wears a dress

From the times picayune comes the story of the "Buddy D. Dress
Parade", the photos include one of Bobby Hebert wearing a dress
and a blond wig. A parade in honor of Buddy Diliberto who was
a local sports anchor who swore he'd wear a dress when the saints
went to the superbowl.





Image from Buddy's
broads.com












Hopefully Buddy Diliberto is smiling wherever he is. Old flannelmouth
was always a strong Saints supporter by doing strong news reporting and
not just rah rah. (there was plenty of rah rah too though).

He was the first sports reporter in the city to wear a bag on his head when
the Saints went 1-15 and officially became the Aints, and he and Hap Glaudi
were the original TV sports reporters I remember from the early '70's, the
ABC channel would bring in a different face every couple of years, but they
couldn't take the pain of reporting in a city with such crappy teams.

(update)From Peter Finney's column in the Times Picayune some malaprops:

Meaning to say "secondaries,'' he once announced "quarterback Dan Fouts retired today after 17 seasons of terrorizing NFL secretaries.''
And there were those throwaway lines:
"That's a mute point.''
"That's just the chip of the iceberg.''
"The Saints led in time of obsession.''
"If the Saints can make the trade, it will be a good one, like manana from heaven.''
"Old Dominion'' became "Old Dominican.''
When it came to injuries, a player was out with "a torn lee nigament.'' On another day, a shoulder operation might be called one to remedy "a torn rotary cup.''
A visit to Children's Hospital once prompted the observation about "those courageous boys and girls lying there, hooked up to their RVs.''
Buddy D sailed through his sea of squirrels, with passion, with frustration, with optimism, always with a smile.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow day

It's snowing pretty hard here today, starting with the small
granules of snow and building up until huge clumps of snow are falling,
looking like someone overturned several thousand baskets of white
feathers.

Not much seems to be accumulating though on our street, I would
imagine that outside of town there is probably around 6" on the ground,
in town there's bubkus on the roads I can see from our windows.

It would much better if we had some kind of sweets to eat, we're pretty
well stuck inside.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pigs fly, hell freezes over, cats and dogs, etc

The Saints won
last night giving them
a trip to the superbowl
for the first time ever.

I'm the same age as the
saints and it's taken my
entire life to reach the
big game, and it's about
freakin' time.

who dat say dey gonna
beat dem Saints? Who
Dat, Who dat.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thanks again President Bush

I just watched a clunky B-movie called Deterrence, starring Kevin Pollack
as the president of the USA, Timothy Hutton as an advisor and one of the hobbits
from LOTR's as a local redneck. It's a pretty bad movie that I was semi watching
by flipping back to Top Gear to see their space shuttle launch (super cool)

The movie was interesting because it was made in 1999 starring a couple of
left wing actors and written and produced by French guys, yet the premise
of the movie was that Iraq was reinvading Kuwait, we threatened them with
nukes to stop and they responded by launching nuclear bombs at us.

It contained a lot of information that was common knowledge at the turn of
the century, the president of Iraq was Uday Hussein (so we couldn't just wait
for Saddam to drop dead), Iraq was trying for years to get NBC WMD's and they
had them, and were ready to attack Kuwait or the US at any time.

It was just another data point that tells me almost all of the Bush lied meme was just
cynical political posturing by democrats scrambling for power. Things that were common
knowledge in 2000 became hard to track intelligence data points pumped up by
political pressure by 2004.

Bush instead took the much harder decision not to nuke bagdad, or conventionally
bomb them for days or weeks as Clinton did, but invade. I would have nuked them
from orbit, or tomahawked them for months before risking american soldiers, but
Bush didn't. He took the non-cynical more moral decision that I still think will have
long term positive effects, for Iraq at least, even though it cost us a hella lot of money.

Once the glow has fully faded from The One, the comparisons will be even clearer.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Who Dat!

I doubted the saint's head coach a few weeks ago when it seemed like
there was no way that losing 3 games in a row was part of a cunning plan,
but it looks like it was a pretty cunning plan. The Saints beat the cardinals
like a drum 45-14 and they are going to the NFC championship game.

Just beat Dallas or Minnesota, and we're off to the Superbowl.

Go Saints!

The Saints just started playing Arizona, It's already 7-7 and it
looks like both defenses have stayed home and could be a 60 point
game, maybe a great playoff game, but I hope it's a blowout for the
saints.

I'm drinking a white spritzer wine that a friend gave me made up
in Veneto, and opening a bottle of wine is as much preperation as I
want to make for a Saint's playoff game. The first time they went to
the playoffs back in '92(?), they were crushed so completely that the
game beer became consolation beer, and we ended up renting a movie
by halftime.

Hopeful but nervous, excited but frightened. I'm enjoying the Yin and Yang
of saints football, and I don't want to enjoy it sober. Who dat!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cold weather

A column in the timesonline from the UK mentions that the UK Met service
is saying that statistically this will be one of the warmest winters ever. Of course
that's probably averaging in the southern hemisphere, so even after what seems to
me to be the coldest winter since around 1988, when one of the first times that I walked
out onto the flightline I stepped on a frozen puddle, flipped ass over teakettle and
dropped a tech order book that exploded into 1000 pages of FOD.

Hopefully people will start to come to their senses and ignore some of the stupider
climate change nonsense, like switching to 100% windpower that would lead to
periods like last weeks low temperatures killing thousands of people as they freeze
in their houses. High Pressure = low temp = no wind gives the coldest and hottest
days with lowest available power.

We need to be moving away from burning oil and gas for heat, but what we need to
move to for the grid has to be something that can be switched on and off, not waiting
for the breath of god to turn it on and off. There needs to be an intermediate
compromise that doesn't involve name calling, and a technical plan that is less
of trying to appease an angry Al Gore and more of a detailed look at what is available
and what will be available in 10, 20 and 30 years.

Build more nuke plants, study fusion and advanced storage and hydrogen. Instead of
cap and trade that looks like it will just enrich the Al Gores of the world, I'd put an oil
tax at some level below where prices are today, say $75 per barrel. In the USA I'd make
it an import tax. If prices are high it won't have any effect. If prices go low then low oil
prices won't destroy the economics of alternative energy or nuke power, and in the USA
it won't necessarily destroy the american oil industry again. ( or worse than it is right now)

Monday, January 04, 2010

A cunning plan

According to Jeff Duncan at the times picayune, Sean Payton
is an evil genius and losing the last 3 games was part of the plan
for the Saints to win global domination.






link to photo















I'm not buying that, I'll give him yesterday's game, almost no one
played and I turned it off after the 2nd quarter. But I don't
think this is part of a strategy to manufacture a crises and motivate
this time, I think it's a crises and we'll see how good a coach Sean Payton
is if the Saints can win a playoff game. If they follow the current trend
I'll be watching the colts play the vikings in the superbowl.