Friday, September 30, 2005

Blogroll edits completed (?) this weekend.

I've been very lax in updating the 'ol blogroll. There are a number of sites I peruse on a daily (and if bored, hourly) basis that I have not included. To those who have kindly linked to me and were wondering when I would be reciprocating, I will try to rectify my abject shame this weekend. I am not worthy...

Ok, I've fleshed it out quite a bit more, (over 3x larger). If there is anyone I forgot that feels they oughtta be on the list, or if there is a bad link anywhere, lemme know. I made the edits under the influence of sinus meds so it is entirely possible I forgot something (or someone) important.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rita Offshore Damage (updated)

A total of 23 rigs are damaged due to Rita, Rigzone has a database here:

UPDATE: 9/29/05 1:28 CDT

Chevron's Typhoon TLP Production platform has broken away from it's moorings and has capsized and is adrift. Chevron insists that a drill ship did NOT hit the rig.

Monday, September 26, 2005

If only I could express myself the way this guy can...

This guy apparently has ran across the British twin of Cingular......and has some choice words about it.

Warning, the language is a bit "adult oriented", moreso than I would post here under normal circumstances.

(Hat tip, found this via Clayton Craymer's place and this site)

Biomass or Biomess? Are Biofuels more costly than they are worth?

There is a new study out that was conducted jointly by UC Berkeley and Cornell that gives lie to the idea that biomass derived fuels and fuel additives are good for the environment. Ethanol, the favorite of Donks and treehuggers everywhere is one of the worst. It requires between 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 TIMES the amount of fossil fuel to make than is produced depending on the biomass source. Biodiesel is even worse requiring between 127% and 218% of the fossil fuel to make. Using waste that would normally be discarded to make these products, like used cooking oil and lawn waste etc., if it can be done with minimal additional fossil energy input is one thing, but growing these crops for the express purpose of making fuel from them is just plain STUPID!


Interesting little quiz found over on PubliusTX...

Here is my score:

You are a Social Moderate
(56% permissive)
and an Economic Conservative
(80% permissive)

You are best described as a: Capitalist

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.
loc: (24, 112)
modscore: (48, 34)
raw: (4532)

the plot puts me on The Donald's hairline above his left eye....

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hurricane? What Hurricane?

OK, so maybe that is being a bit flippant, but a large part of the Houston/Harris County area dodged the bullet. Maybe it was a game of chicken and Rita flinched. We never saw sustained winds over tropical storm strength I do not believe, and we've gotten more rain out of a nasty thunderstorm. Unfortunately, Beaumont/Port Arthur took a real beating instead. That just happens to be refinery alley. I am curious to see just how high gas goes.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Definition of Insanity

There is a saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Despite the experience during and after Katrina when 5% of the nation's refining capacity was offline and prices spiked to $6 for a gallon of gas in places and despite the (admittedly muted) discussion on the media concerning the wisdom of placing so much of this startegic infrastucture in harm's way, Motiva in it's infinite lack of wisdom has decided to double it's Port Aurthur plant's output to 570,000 barrels a day of refined gasoline. This news is reported at the same time that that plant is in the boresite of a catagory 5 hurricane. Am I the only person that sees a problem with this plan?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A new Generation...err... generator....

My neighbor, who will be riding it out with his ex's parents, a couple in thier 90's, as house guests, mentioned he had a decent sized generator. I figured I'd pay him a visit and ask if he'd consider a monetary arrangement to let me plug in once in a while to keep the freezer and fridge cold. He told me no...but offered to sell me a (much) smaller (but still adequate for that purpose) one he had bought and never used. Knowing new ones of a similar size were selling for $700 bucks, I was skeptical it was worth it... I kept asking him how much. He hemmed and hawed and eventually told me to make an offer. I thought I lowballed him with $50, expecting to dicker some, but he accepted without even flinching. Damn, shoulda offered $25.....

Keeping the powder dry....

This weekend is probably going to be a real BITCH. Rita is coming to visit and we all KNOW just how nasty she can get. In case any looters decide to take advantage of the situation however, they are going to be met with a nasty suprise. I paid a vist to my handy dandy Gander Mountain across the freeway from me and stocked up on ammo, cleaned, inspected, and dry fired the guns and filled the magazines of the semi-auto with a tactical load of alternating semi-wad cutters and hollow points. The .357 has hollow points in it too with another couple of boxes of ball to back that up. I breifly contemplated the purchase of a generator. Gander Mountain had several they had just got in when I got there. But in the end, I decided that I can survive a couple of days on what I got and what I plan to stockpile. Let somebody else lay down $700 bucks for a puny 1 kw generator that they MIGHT use once. If it gets too bad, I'll drive up to Livingston and stay with my mom for a day or two. I'll blog as allowed on how things go.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Kuwait seems to think there is a market for a new refinery in the US.

This article in today's Chronicle, tends to give lie to the statements by ExxonMobil's VP Kenneth Cohen as reported over on Loren Steffy's blog, Full Disclosure, just a week or so ago. Kuwait is looking for an investment partner in what would be the first new refinery to be built in the US in 30 years. I only hope that Kuwait, and whoever the partner eventually turns out to be, chooses to put this facility far enough from the gulf coast region that it is not threatened by hurricanes. Perhaps Oklahoma or West Texas. Perhaps the Federal Government could invest in the project in order to make sure that excess capacity (unused and kept in reserve) is built and kept ready in case capacity elsewhere is taken offline. Think of it as a strategic refining capacity reserve. This could be a win-win-win scenario. As I said previously, this is a issue of national security. We as a country MUST protect ourselves from the near certainty of economic collapse that would result if a significant percentage of our refining capacity were lost. The only way to do that is to have excess capacity and have it geographically separated to prevent loosing an even larger percentage to accidental or intentional destruction. Given the recent weather reports, in less than a week from today, we may very well find ourselves contemplating the loss of over 25% of our refining capacity at a time when about 5% of that capacity is already offline due to yet another hurricane. How long are we going to be able to whistle past the graveyard before we get dragged into it ourselves? The clock is running and nobody knows when it will run down...

Who says "Cold Fusion" is Dead?

In this month's edition of Advanced Materials and Processes (I'd link to it but ASM International hasn't posted it in thier website yet) there is an article about research going on at Purdue University by Professor Rusi Taleyarkhan. The research involves the use of acoustic cavitation combined with neutron bombardment of deuterated acetone, which is acetone in which most or all of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced with deuterium atoms. In a glass vessel about the size of two coffee mugs, the acetone was bombarded with neutrons as well as ultrasound of a frequency to cause cavitation in the fluid. This reportedly formed cavitation bubbles larger than possible without the neutron bombardment. Additionally, tritium, a third isotope of hydrogen which is unstable and radioactive, was reportedly formed. Neutrons of an energy specific to hydrogen fusion were reportedly observed as well. This experiment is follow-on research which the professor first started at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It is unclear whether the energy released exceeded the energy injected into the reaction. Additionally, this experiment has yet to be replicated elsewhere, so a hefty dose of skepticism is warranted. But this is intriguing to say the least. This is the second form of "cold fusion" that has been reported in the scientific community in recent months. The first was deuterium that was fused on very small scales within the crystal lattice of a piezoelectric crystal. While not exceeding the energy input, it does lend itself to use as a compact neutron generator for such things as oil well logging, etc. Fleischman and Pons might have been hucksters (or merely deluded), but it would appear that this is at least possible at temperatures and pressures that are relatively easily obtainable, if only on a small scale.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Roberts Bingo...

The king of crap (and cat-blogging), Mr. Laurence Simon, has a recurring meme of creating bingo cards. Well it would appear that someone in Senator John Cornyn's office stole the idea. Seems the Senator had 150 special "Crying Wolf" bingo cards printed up and handed them out to the news media covering the Roberts confirmation hearings. None of the media were spotted actually playing....

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Prisoner to Fashion......

According to this Guardian article, a number of cosmetics, especially a number sold in Europe, are formulated with collagen of human origin. This collagen is not made by genetic engineering, it is made by social engineering, specifically it is made from the skin of executed prisoners in China. Whether the manufacturers of these products know of the origin of this material is subject to question. Some, made in China by Chinese companies, not only know, but do not care. They see absolutely nothing wrong with this. Other manufacturers may or may not know of the material's origins. Cosmetics are not the only use for this material. This material is also used by cosmetic surgeons. This is not just an ethical issue, this is one of public health. There is no method to track whether these involuntary donors were screened for any of a few hundred thousand diseases that could be passed in such a manner, especially that material that is implanted and not just made into face cream.

Now, I actually do not have a particular problem with those who are to be executed donating thier organs involuntarily to save the lives of innocent people. It's the least these people can do to repay society for thier crimes. And the use of involuntarily donated skin for things like burn treatment doesn't bother me in the least. But to use this material for skin cream and to do so in a manner such that the users are unaware of the potential risks involved is unconscionable. That is like wiping your ass and then not washing your hands before going back to the kitchen and cutting up lettuce for salads. The people grazing at the salad bar have no idea that they are eating the product of your large intestine. They ASSUMED you took precautions to prevent that sort of thing.

edit: BTW, I could not remember where I found this last night when I was posting, I hate it when people use my stuff without attribution so i try not to do so myself. I want to give a hat tip to John Hawkins over at for finding this.

edit 12-20-05
more chinese dementedness:
Chemical Eggs
Hair based "soy" sauce

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Question of National Security (Updated)

I know there are a number of oil biz people that drop by here. I see the traffic logs. I especially want those readers to pay attention to what I am about to say. NIMBY combined with bad government policy, and economies of scale have put us all in danger of a MASSIVE energy crisis.

When Katrina hit the LA coast, 5% of the nation's refining capacity was endangered. We were lucky, only minor damage resulted, it could have been much MUCH MUCH worse. Had Katrina hit Freeport, 25% of the nation's refining capacity would have been endangered. the entire south and east sides of town will be underwater up to the 610 loop from an expected storm surge of between 22 and 28 feet AMSL. ALL of the petro-chem complex in and around Baytown, Channelview, and the Ship Channel will be flooded. Power which has been the major stumbling block to getting the LA refineries restarted, will be out for weeks at least. Gasoline spiked to over $6.00 a gallon in parts of the country, and only 5% of the refining capacity was offline. Anybody want to guess what 25% being offline would do to the price of gas? Personally, I don't have that many fingers and toes, and I doubt other many people do either. ('course there is always at least ONE genetic freak in the crowd...)

Another, related, issue is the one of terrorism, which, while that horse has been beaten to a pulp, it bears repeating. Channelview is only about 5 minutes flight time from Hobby airport. A 737 wouldn't even hardly have time to retract the wheels and flaps before being in a position to decimate a huge percentage of our nations petro-chem capacity in one fell swoop.

What has lead to this situation? NIMBY and economies of scale, add to that a lack of coherent energy policy in this country. This country used to have a huge number of small refineries. Over time, a combination of pollution regulations, corporate consolidation, and "Not In My Back Yard" have joined forces to cause many of the smaller refineries, especially the older ones which would have needed massive investment to meet EPA regs, to close and for the larger and newer refineries to instead invest in expanding capacity in the same place instead of building new refineries in geographically separated locations.

So what is the solution? Well, we may be in a unique situation to fix this. Refining capacity is at nearly 100% utilization now, in the very near future, additional capacity will be required. As a nation, we have been given a sneak peek at the possible future impact of loss of refining capacity. We have an administration that actually "gets" the whole energy thing. The Donks are going to have a conniption, but the solution is for the government to put limits as to the size and location of new refineries, and spread them all over the country.

Generally, I don't think government intrusion into the private affairs of it's citizens is a good idea, but in this case National Security Demands it.

UPDATE 9/14/05 12:18 CDT

In today's Houston Chronicle Michael Hedges has an article about how ExxonMobil prevented an additional 5% loss of refining capacity by managing by hook and crook, to keep the Baton Rouge facility running. But here is the money Quote:

The damage to oil and gas production and refining because of the storm has focused attention on the concentration of America's refining capacity in the Gulf region.

"There needs to be a public policy debate about why everything is on the Gulf Coast," Pursell said. "The answer is, nobody else wants it. But we are making a lot of our energy capacity vulnerable to major hurricanes. If America is going to build new refineries, maybe one should be built in Boston."

Couldn't have said it better myself....

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Different kind of Bleg

Last Thursday, as my wife was getting ready to enjoy a long weekend (She was going to take a vacation day Friday and take the kiddo to the zoo.) from the constant grind of work as a legal sectretary at a large litigation firm, she was called into her boss's office and told she was being laid off. I guess Prop 12 is having it's effect in reducing lawsuits. I am not asking for money. (At least not yet..=D) I am asking anyone who knows of a legal secretary position, preferably on the north side of Houston, Spring or The Woodlands to email me at my gmail address. She types 100wpm, has worked as a legal secretary for 15 years, the last four doing insurance defense work for a large firm in the Greenway Plaza area. If this sounds like someone you or someone you know needs on your team, let me know.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

In a word, unhinged.

I try not to beat on horses others in the blogosphere have already turned into a bloody pulp, but I'm just going to have to vent some on this. I can't help myself, the utter lack of intelligence based editorializing infuriates me. Today in the Chronicle, we have Thomas Freidman saying that the war on terror detracted from Katrina relief, without pointing to any measurable fact that would support such a claim. WHAT HOGWASH! Then we've got two pitiful excuses for political cartoons, one from The Palm Beach Post, and another from CP Houston. Let's see if we can actually determine what the truth really is:

Issue 1: The Mayor of New Orleans was notified that he needed to evacuate the city at least 36 hours, some say 48, before the storm made landfall. He did not order a mandatory evacuation at that time.

Issue 2: The Mayor of New Orleans did not follow the city's disaster preparedness plan. Nowhere in the document is the Superdome or the convention center even mentioned, Nor did he roll out city owned and school district busses to evacuate people. Nor did he put food, water, or other disaster supplies in the dome or convention center. He left those people to die. He may not like that being pointed out but it is the truth. He tried to kill those people by neglect.

Issue 3: Governor Blanco is at least as culpable as Nagin. She was asked to roll out the LA National Guard to assist in the evacuation and taking care of evacuees. She did not. President Bush contacted her and ASKED her to turn control of the NG over to the feds for disaster relief duty. He does not have the authority to wrest control from her, she has to give control. She chose not to do so. She is as responsible for those deaths as Nagin is. BOTH need to be brought up on multiple (in the thousands!) counts of involuntary manslaughter because of thier utter indifference for the lives of the people depending on them.

Issue 4: The people of NOLA that did not leave mainly did so because they were poor and owned no vehicle capable of carrying them out of harms way. The rate of automobile non-ownership in NOLA is 3 times that of the rest of the country. The Mass Transit system in NOLA reinforced that behavior by allowing those without vehicles to live their day to day lives without personal mobility options. The mass transit system cannot carry them out of town however.

Issue 5: The poor in NOLA, like poor all over the country have had decades of exposure to the welfare state. They no longer know how to wipe thier own ASS without the government showing them how, or doing it for them. Like inbred domestic turkeys stupidly staring at the sky and drowning, they sat there waiting on the all powerful government to carry them in out of the rain.

Issue 6: NOLA was besieged by gangsters shooting at first responders. Many of those were likely prisoners that NOLA police let loose because they had no plan to deal with them. First responders have a duty to retreat until it is reasonably safe for them to perform thier jobs. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people died because first responders had to wait for the military to restore civil order before they could do thier jobs.

Issue 7: The simple fact is this. FEMA has never been, nor can it ever be under the constitution we have now, the first responder in a crisis. That role is for the local and state government to perform. FEMA tells everyone that they should not expect FEMA's assistance for at least 72 hours after a disaster strikes. Local and state governments must take charge to prevent as much destruction and loss of life as possible, begin recovery operations and then FEMA steps in. FEMA got there in less than 72 hours, thereby beating thier own stated mandate. But they still had to wait for civil order to be restored.

Issue 8: Much is talked up by our moonbat bretheren about cuts to the Army Corp. of Engineers budget. But the simple fact is this. The cuts were of a study of the feasibility to upgrade the levee system to survive a cat 4 hurricane. It was not due to be complete until 2008. And had the recommendations been greenlighted and completed before Katrina hit, it might still not have been possible for the levees to survive. Katrina was a high order Cat 4. It was a CAT 5 until shortly before landfall, and it is rain combined with storm surge, not wind specifically that would determine the survival of a levee. Hurricane categories do not address how much rain a storm can generate, and the storm surge was that of a Cat 5, not a Cat 4 because it had only recently been downgraded. The fact of the matter is that the primary levee breech at 17th street was a levee that HAD JUST BEEN UPGRADED.

There is plenty of blame to be affixed, but I cannot see where the Federal Government has done anything even remotely negligent here. Feel free to show me where I am wrong.

Monday, September 05, 2005

How do you take the money without getting tangled in the strings?

The other day, LST posted the statement of Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi of the Ministry of Endowment from Kuwait that basically said Katrina was the Hand of Allah smiting the unbelievers and that it is our own fault that we can't take care of the people in NOLA because we spent so much money fighing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today Kuwait pledged $500 million for Katrina relief. I would like to remind Mr. Al-Mlaifi that it was not that long ago that Kuwait had become Saddam Hussein's private beach, and the Kuwaiti women were being systematically raped by his sons. Apparently Mr. Al-Mlaifi does not recall the lists of the Kuwaiti "disappeared" that were found after we took control of Abu Gharib prison. Not to mention the videos of what happened in the "rape rooms". And the gold and jewelry found in Hussein's vaults. I guess saving thier (unclean by islamic law!) bacon was ill advised as well.....

Friday, September 02, 2005

$afeClear Stalled..... somebody call a tow truck...

Yesterday, US District Judge Kenneth Hoyt ruled that we, the citizens were right all along. $afeClear really IS about money, it is NOT about safety, and as such two KEY provisions of the ordinance are null and void.
Quoting from the Chronicle Story:

Hoyt ruled that city regulation of the towing-industry prices is pre-empted by federal law unless the effort relates to safety and doesn't have an unfair economic impact on the operators.

Once motorists chose to have their vehicles taken on a longer trip, they are removed from the freeway and the safety concern no longer exists, Hoyt ruled.

He also held that the exclusive contracts were driven by economics and not safety.

This means that ANY tow truck can tow you, not just the 11 companies that have contracts with the city, This also means that the city cannot regulate the prices they charge because once they are off the freeway, the safety concern is over. And further, that the exclusive contracts were anti-competitive. without that income stream, the free tows, which since the exclusive contracts went into effect were often EXTREMELY SLOW IN COMING, will dry up because the city can't pay for it.