Free Markets, Free People

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Idiotarian Returns

I believe that we have a replacement for MK-Ultra showing up in the comments section.  It might even be MK-Ultra, since the commenter Dude09 seems similarly dense enough to have a noticeable gravitational field.  Apparently, he was all upset that no one mentioned the wack-job who killed the abortion doctor in Kansas today, and we didn’t put it up on the board as a topic of conversation for the Podcast today.

Since it apparently seems that we have to occasionally re-explain the facts of life to morons, I will do so again.

1. We set up the Podcast topics on Friday.  For the most part, if we didn’t discuss it on Friday, it doesn’t go on the air on Sunday.  It’s not a daily news show.  It’s a discussion about things that have caught our eye over the past week.

2.  We will not always create a post on your pet news story.  Why?  Maybe we didn’t know enough about it.  Maybe we haven’t heard the story yet. Maybe we’re busy.  Or, maybe we just don’t care.  For instance, let’s take a look at my day.  When I got up today, I got dressed and went for breakfast, and then to the grocery store.  Upon my return, I trimmed hedges and bougainvillea, sprayed Roundup on some weeds, and picked up dog crap in the back yard.  Then, I went directly into my office to record the Podcast.  Immediately after that, I worked for 1.5 hours on a client web site.  I scarfed down a quick dinner, during which I first saw an actual news report on the shooting.  I then worked until 9PM on another client web site.  So, here’s a clue, maybe I didn’t blog on your pet story because I have a life, and responsibilities that preclude me from doing so.  I mean, really, do you think we sit around all day cruising the internet and news sites to latch on to your pet story as soon as it appears.  Cripes, most of the time, Bruce writes the stories you see on the blog on the night before they appear.

3. Sometimes, your pet story just isn’t compelling.  Someone went unhinged and shot an abortionist.  So what?  I mean, it’s a terrible tragedy, but what does it tell us about…well…anything?  What conclusions are we supposed to draw?  It’s not like abortionists are getting bumped off on a regular basis.  The last one of these that occured was 11 years ago, back in 1998.  What lessons am I supposed to draw from the fact that some lunatic thinks God told him to kill an abortionist that are in any way substantively different than those I would derive when a crackpot kills his pharmacist because the Venusians sent him a command to do so via the transmitter secreted in his skull?

4.  I really hate peer pressure.  Even if I was inclined to write about a story at some point, having you kite in here and call me an ass because I haven’t done it yet is a sure-fire way to get me to ignore the story completely.  I’ll ignore it just to spite you.

5.  I don’t care what you want to hear about.  I didn’t open up a request line when I started blogging.  I did to write about things that interest me, and beleive me, the abortion issue is way down near the bottom of the list of things that interest me.  If you send me a story, and it interests me, and if I have time, I might write about it.  Or not.

I hope that clears things up.


1,000 Spam Comments You Never Saw

A little milestone to note – since we went to this platform, we’ve had a total of 7,337 comments to posts here.

1,000 of them were spam comments, like those we were plagued with on the old blog platform and drove me crazy. The good news – you didn’t see a one of them. They were all caught by the Akismet plug-in and held for me to gleefully blow away, a duty I thoroughly enjoy.

Much, much better.

~McQ


A New Voice

I‘m going to let him do his own intro (kind of me, eh Jason?) but we’re pleased to have Jason Pye joining QandO as one of our bloggers. Jason comes from great libertarian stock, was the former chair of the Georgia LP and was the New Media guy for the Barr campaign.

He’s a freedom and liberty guy who has much in common with the rest of us.

Welcome aboard Jason.

~McQ


Andrew Sullivan “Misremembers” The Last 8 Years (Update – Sullivan Responds)

Apparently history began for Andrew Sullivan on January 20th of this year:

This much is now clear. Their clear and open intent is to do all they can, however they can, to sabotage the new administration (and the economy to boot). They want failure. Even now. Even after the last eight years. Even in a recession as steeply dangerous as this one. There are legitimate debates to be had; and then there is the cynicism and surrealism of total political war. We now should have even less doubt about what kind of people they are. And the mountain of partisan vitriol Obama will have to climb every day of the next four or eight years.

Obviously Sullivan can’t think of “legitimate debates to be had” concerning this awful bill (just turn toward the White House, bow and sign). And you have to assume that he doesn’t consider putting this bill together without letting the Republicans participate as a party (not as the ‘picked off three’) a cynical declaration of “total political war”. In fact you have to wonder when he began paying attention to “mountains of partisan vitriol” that presidents have to climb over every day.

Andy, when the opposition party “war” dedicated to undermining a presidency and causing it to fail even approaches that which the Democrats waged against George Bush for the last 8 years, I’ll be first to let you know.  In the meantime, quit whining for heaven sake.  This ain’t bean bag.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan responds to my points about “legitimate debates” and Republican inclusion:

You mean Obama never went to the Congress to talk to the House GOP? That he hasn’t been relentless in including Republicans in the debate? That he didn’t urge over $300 billion in tax cuts in the bill to assuage Republican feelings in the first place?

Of course going to Congress to talk with the House GOP turned out to be more for show than substance. It was made clear, afterward, that while he was polite and at least pretended to listen, little if any of what they asked for ended up in the bill. One reason that’s so is the bill was written by Democrats in Congress, not Barack Obama. If it had been written by Obama and his administration, Sullivan might have a leg to stand on. But obviously his “relentless inclusion” attempt was ignored by the Democratic Congressional leadership and the GOP was shut out of the process to craft the bill.

Concerning tax cuts, as we’ve pointed out here any number of times, transfer payments my be called tax cuts just like a pile of dog feces may be called a rose, but by any other name, they’re still just welfare checks. Those aren’t the tax cuts the GOP asked for and certainly not what the GOP would support.

~McQ


Chevron’s Kern River Basin – Things That Make You Go “Wow”!

As most of you know I took a short trip to beautiful Bakersfield California a couple of weeks ago at the behest of the American Petroleum Institute (who paid for the trip) to tour Chevron’s Kern River Basin oil fields. Here’s a short intro video by API that will get you into the game.

Jeff Hatlin, the guy describing most of the facilities and the area, was a fabulous tour guide. And the rest of the staff there (Jim Swartz, David Boroughs, Carla Musser, Ray Thavarajah, Kevin Kimber, Kelly Lucas and Omer Saleem) took a day out of their busy schedules to acquaint 4 bloggers with a huge asset that has been producing oil for over 100 years. My thanks to all of them.

As you might imagine, the “easy oil” days of yore are long over. As Jane Van Ryan, the narrator of the video, notes, the area was first discovered because oil was literally seeping out of the ground. No more. The oil produced at Kern River is what is known in the industry as “heavy oil”. That means the viscosity is very high. For many years in the early days, its viscosity limited its use to asphalt and roofing tar.

That presents an interesting set of problems when you talk about recovery. You’re trying to pump some pretty thick stuff out of the ground and, as you can imagine, that takes a whole bunch of energy. And the oil doesn’t sit in pools, but is distributed throughout the sand layers. So it seems obvious that the way to address the problem is to find a way to lower the viscosity of the oil and cause it to flow before trying to recover it.  As you might imagine, that’s not as easy as it sounds. The way Chevron has addressed those needs is through steam flooding and new drilling techniques such as horizontal drilling.

You saw Jeff Hatlin talk about how that steam is generated (and you got to see the steam generators in the video) and injected into the ground. In the 20 square miles of the Kern River Basin facility, there are approximately 770 steam injection wells helping the 8,700 production wells bring up the oil from depths of over 1,000 feet. What the steam injection wells have allowed Chevron to do is move the field from its primary production days, when only 5-10% of the oil was being recovered, to a production percentage between 50 to 80% with steam flooding. This enhanced recovery technique has helped Chevron keep the field at an 80,000 bpd production rate when, without it, it would be producing very little oil at all.

Another technique which allows more efficient recovery is the 3D modeling that you saw Dale Beeson talking about.  The model in the video has 155 million cells, each 50′ x 50′ x 2′.  That’s a massive amount of information stored, updated and accessible to the Chevron staff as they plan their next wells.  Much of the data for this model is gathered through 660 “observation wells” drilled strategically over the vast property.  Temperature and fluid saturation are monitored allowing for efficient heat management and the location of the richest oil deposits. It is through the integration of that information plus the nearly 1,000,000 data points gathered through out the field on any given day by other means, that Chevron meets its goal of reducing its production decline in the Kern River Basin to 1% a year.

A final technique introduced into the Kern River field in 2006 is horizontal drilling. The 3D modeling helps Chevron exactly pinpoint layers of oil producing sand and using advanced drilling techniques, precisely place the horizontal well in that sand layer. To give you an idea of the efficiency difference, a typical vertical well will produce about 3 bpd of oil. A horizontal well will produce about 100 bpd.

Given all of that, however, there was something else I learned that just blew my mind. While they’re producing that 80,000 bpd of oil, they’re also pumping up 555,000 bpd of water. In fact they joke about really being a water production facility which produces oil as a by-product. That’s more true than you might imagine.

But it also means they must process a half a million barrels of water a day, separate the oil from it and do something with the remaining water. This is where it gets interesting. You heard Jane mention they process and purify some of it through walnut shell filters for agricultural use. In fact, they have about 272,000 bpd in excess that they send through that process and then is sold to California for use in growing all those luscious veggies Californians are so wild about. My guess is that most of California has no idea that’s the case. That avocado you’re enjoying may have been produced with water from Chevron’s Kern River Basin field.

So what do they do with the remaining 231,000 bpd of the water they pump up?  They make steam.  Lots and lots of steam.  And that brings us to something else of which I’m pretty sure the average Californian isn’t aware.  Part of that steam powers up to 20% of the California electrical grid.   It’s called ‘cogeneration’, and Chevron has actually built steam powered electrical plants on the field which are plugged into the California power grid and provide on-demand electricity.  They use the waste steam generated in the steam injection process to power these plants.  Clean energy and highly efficient clean production.

That’s what had me saying “wow” at the end of the trip.  Two critical commodities to California – electricity and water, produced as  by-product of a third critical product, oil.  And all three are produced in a efficient, environmentally friendly way.

If I were Chevron, I’d be telling this story everywhere I could.  It’s not quite the resource-raping, greed-is-king “Big Oil” caricature the media and many of our politicians are fond of painting, is it?


And We’re Live

Bear with us the next few days as we get this beauty up to speed.

We’ll be doing comment moderation for a couple of days.  It’s obviously something I don’t want to do for more than that.  It slows and kills discussion.

We’ll also be trying different colors, themes,  etc. as we go along.  The one thing that you can count on is us fiddling with it until we get it just right.

Your comments, critiques and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

I’m excited about this and look forward to playing with it.

The old QandO blog is found at the sidebar under “previous version” if you’re still having a conversation there.

~McQ


Style Evolves

Don’t panic.

I know that many of you are frightened and confused by change, or by The New.  But, the old software I wrote back in 2004 to run QandO has run its course.

Stoppie...FAIL

Like this motorcyclist's stoppie, the old QandO software is about to come to a sudden end. Hopefully with less road rash.

I wouldn’t rate it a FAIL, like the poor lad’s stoppie FAIL picture here, but, while it may have been OK at the time, the world has moved along, and frankly, I’ve never had time to really keep the software up to date.  Oh, I had plans, but I never had the time to carry them out.

So, in honor of the Obama Era of Change, we’re implementing Change at QandO.  We’re switching over to WordPress as the platform for the Blog.

Now, I’m not sure it will look like this for long.  I basically stole the template I built for my motorcycle blog and transferred it over.  I’m fiddling around with Artisteer for a new template for QandO, but this should at least get us started.

Unlike me, WordPress has hundreds of people all over the world tweaking it, building plugins for it and whatnot, so it has some advanced features.

You won’t notice much of a difference, except that the incidence of comment spam will pretty much disappear.  You will need to have your first comment approved, after which you can comment all you want, but this is another anti-spam measure, to keep the riff-raff out.

You can also subscribe to the blog by creating a subscriber account on the comment pages, and get updated whenever the blog is updated.

I think the move to WordPress will have a lot of advantages for everyone, and I hope you enjoy the new features, such as a WYSIWYG comment editor, with spell checking.

Soon, you’ll forget about the old site.  Which, by the way, is still going to be here, so the old content will not disappear.  You can access the previous version via the link on the sidebar.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new QandO.

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