Friday, October 30, 2009
If this guy was my defense attorney, I'd hang myself in my cell and save everyone the trouble. It's actually a little disturbing that he's allowed to "debate the science" without any background in physics, chemistry, or any background as an arson investigator or fire scientist.
Wikipedia has a concise, but detailed rundown of the whole affair.
North Dakota passes La. as 4th largest oil-producing state | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Top Stories | News and Weather for New Orleans | wwltv.com
- BBC report on blowout. Looks like the BOP can't completely close. Usual method of repair is a sidetrack/intercept well (very time consuming)
Article XI : To Preserve and Protect:: Same Rigs in Australian Blowout Suggested for Offshore VirginiaAustralian blowout. w/nice illustration of what that spill would look like off the coast of Florida
New York has taken such an interest about what chemicals are used in Hydrofracking (PDF).
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
"If you ask can I protect the city, the answer is no. Can I reduce the risk? Yes. "We can develop better early warning systems, better evacuation plans, better levees to hold back most of the water, but we cannot stop levees being overtopped and the city flooded." He declined to say whether this meant the city should be abandoned altogether and relocated inland. "That is outside my brief," he said.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Apple joins Chamber of Commerce exodus over climate change scepticism | Environment | guardian.co.ukAs fluffy as this may sound, this is a portent of bigger battles between companies that have historically benefited from externalized costs and those that seek a more accurate reflection of the true production costs.
He called us idiots, he called us corrupt," said Sherman, the California lawmaker. "I do have to thank this guy for his insults. He caused us to wake up from being completely asleep." He had a hell of deal going (US taxpayers funding his business), but he's so goddamned greedy, he's screwing it up. He just can't help himself.
There's no doubt that Obama's spending is causing international concern about the dollar. But just as important is the new status quo of "too big to fail" for the financial sector and what that means for various aspects of Federal Reserve policy. The implicit government guarantee of a few GSEs was an important factor in the financial crisis. There's now an explicit government guarantee of every large financial institution on Wall Street. Almost two years after the Bear Stearns debacle, there are still no plans by the government to unwind or repudiate that guarantee. He also makes a very good point that the current trend may have overplayed itself, at least in the short term.
There was a lot of give an take on issues relating to that over the centuries, but the balance started to change in the late 90's. Congress passed a bill to make bankruptcies much tougher. Bill Clinton vetoed that bill after Hillary implored him to because of the devastating effects on single parents.
Later on, under the guise of preventing fraud, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act and George W. Bush signed it into law. Left-leaning Democrats complained it was a step on the road to Debt Slavery. One of the crooked Democrats that voted for it was none other than William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson. How many of his constituents got screwed over by that Bankruptcy Bill, especially after Katrina with (truly) underwater mortgages?
William Jefferson loved debt slavery right from the start:
About the same time, Jefferson launched one of his earliest ventures, in the rent-to-own appliance business. that was, like others that would follow, a joint project with several siblings, in this case brothers Mose and Bennie and sister Betty, a former School Board member who is now a city assessor. Through Jefferson Interests, a company they founded, the group acquired four REMCO stores starting in the early 1980s, after Jefferson had joined the Legislature.
Some called the business predatory. In 1986, Rudy Lombard, one of Jefferson's opponents in his second bid for mayor, noted in debates that some public-housing tenants in Algiers late on payments had complained of being "harassed and intimidated" by REMCO officials.
Lombard also ripped Jefferson for sponsoring a bill that would have allowed theft charges to be filed against renters who did not return appliances on time. Jefferson denied sponsoring such a bill at first, but the next day he conceded he had when reporters confronted him with the evidence.
You'd be hard pressed to find a Democrat who worked harder against the interests of his constituency than $Bill.
Open today's paper. On page A-2, William Jefferson is now getting a dose of his own medicine. He's being nailed under the Bankruptcy Bill he voted for. I'm sure he got lots of campaign contributions for doing it at the time, but now he's fucked. Good for him. Poetic justice.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
In order to become a P.E. you need to graduate with a Bachelor's of Science* in Engineering from an ABET-accredited university. You'll generally have about 100 credit hours worth of math, science, and engineering out of 120-ish total for your diploma.
Then, you take the Fundamental of Engineering exam (FE Exam). I took and passed the FE a few weeks before I graduated in Spring 2006. The FE is only given twice a year, so as long as your school certifies that you're going to graduate on time, you're allowed to take it the semester you graduate. Tulane, despite having many graduates in Biomedical Engineering who don't have a full load of thermodynamics, hasn't had a student fail the FE in over 30 years. That's partially because it's graded on a state-by-state curve (thank you, LSU students, for anchoring down the scores!).
Once you pass the FE Exam, you become a EIT/EI. Engineer In Training (EIT) is a more common term, but Louisiana uses Engineer Intern (EI).
You then gain experience while working under a licensed Professional Engineer for usually 4-5 years. I've been very fortunate in that I work for a firm that's got the best reputation in town for over 50 years and I've had the opportunity to work in several different industries (mining, oil & gas, commercial, etc.) under several different P.E.'s and gain some great experience.
I was originally planning on taking it as soon as possible, but I'm pretty much settled into taking it in October of 2010. I've recently learned, however, that Louisiana technically only requires 3 years, 9 months of experience, due to the exam being scheduled only twice per year (April/October) and once per year for less common exams (nuclear, industrial, etc.). I could, if I chose to, take it in April of 2010, about 6 months from now. Unfortunately, that April date is very close to another busy day for me. I'd also have only 6 months to study for it (a full year studying about 10-20 hours a week to prepare is recommended).
I've asked around and from what I can tell, Mechanical Engineering and Civil/Structural are the two most difficult subjects. Mechanical Engineering is extremely broad; I like to describe it as 'everything that moves.' The three main subjects on the Mechanical P.E. exam are Thermo/fluids, Machine design, and HVAC/Refrigeration. If the exam were just on fluids, I could probably take it in my sleep, but I've done virtually no HVAC work. It takes learning a huge amount of material to pass.
Anyway, that's what I'm considering now. I'm probably going to take it in October 2010, like I was planning. The only consideration I might have is I might want to study as much as I can and just take a stab at it in the spring. If I pass, I pass and if I fail, I know what to study. It's $255 to take the test, plus $100 to LAPELS, so I'm not sure I want to take it just for kicks.
* There are other ways to become a P.E., but I'll stick with the most common route. This is how 90+% of new P.E.'s go. See NCEES for more.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I'd say there are about two exceptions: Ron Paul (R-TX) and Alan Grayson (D-FL). Ron Paul has been at it for a while. Alan Grayson won a red district and has recently made the news for "Democrat with Balls"-style.
Paul and Grayson have teamed up on an "audit the Fed" bill. Some of the testimony has been very impressive:
Even some conservatives are giving him credit.
Other Republicans are scared stiff of a Democrat that actually stands up for what he believes in. Grayson is being attacked with unsourced allegations of antisemitism (in Florida? Please).
My favorite fighting words of Grayson: Republicans want to ban bacon!
Take the time to listen to some of his speeches and judge for yourself.
*Title Reference and stolen photo. More Huey, please.
UPDATE- One More:
Alan Grayson quotes Huey Long.
UPDATE 3- Yet more. Reublicans running scared...
I tried to get Oprah an Olympics and all they gave me was this lously meaningless medal. Warmongering, pro-torture, U.S. President inexplicably awarded a prize for "Peace"
It's the last thing he really needs.
It's a joke.
I'll point out that there's a big divide between the hard science-based Nobels and the awarding of the "soft" category (economics, politics) awards. Albert Einstein never won a Nobel prize for relativity. The science panel wasn't sure the theory was valid, so they awarded it to Einstein for his work on the photoelectric effect.
The "soft" awards tend to go for "trendy" subjects. Probably the worst overall call was giving the guys behind Long Term Capital Management a Nobel Prize in economics (they almost took down the entire global marketplace not long after). As many on the right have pointed out, giving the award to the likes of Yassir Arafat didn't exactly help out the award's prestige. To their credit, there was a brief time that it looked like the Oslo Accords could be the equivalent to the Camp David Accords. Not long after that, though, Arafat was back to blowing up school buses.
Many on the left screamed when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. "Irony is dead," was the quote. Christopher Hitchens has demolished anything that was left of his legacy (other than horrible, pointless bloodshed).
We'll see how this award turns out in a few years.
UPDATE- More to ponder:
Why Obama's Nobel Prize is Good for America. By Bill O'Reilly.
Why the Nobel Peace Prize Should Go to Nuclear Weapons
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Here's the Presentation [PDF]. It was put together for Acadiana Business Magazine and is all about the Louisiana's oil industry.
As I've pointed out before, there's a huge amount of infrastructure off the Louisiana coast. At least $100 billion dollars in offshore infrastructure. Simmons points out that offshore is the most important "Parish" in the state. The heart of Gulf of Mexico Oil production is in South Louisiana. All of the major support bases and logistical centers, as well as the pipelines and a good chunk of the refineries are in Louisiana.
There are a couple of slides I'll steal that I think are important because they illustrate a point far better than I can in words:
Production Scorecard, From Matthew Simmons
One of the realities of offshore fields is their incredibly short lifespans. They are incredibly prolific for a couple of years and then the pressure gives out and the field depletes. Cognac peaked at 72,000 barrels/day 5 years after first oil. 10 years after that it was 17,000 barrels/day. Today, it's roughly 2,000 barrels/day. Since words don't really describe it as well as pictures, here's a few more slides I'll highlight:
NOTE: Curves from Simmons & Co.
What do the curves all have in common? Quick peaking fields with harsh declines (>10%/year sometimes, 4-6%/year is industry average). Because of that, 90% of the production comes from less than 10% of the fields. There are a lot of platforms out there that are only kept around because their abandonment costs are so high [not entirely true; a lot have extended leases on life thanks to subsea fields or pipeline stations for deeper fields]. Trace amounts of pollutants are one concern (see the Brent Spar for an idea of what I'm talking about), but I think the bigger issue is the hazard to marine traffic. The Gulf of Mexico has two of the biggest ports in the world (NOLA and Houston). Some of these platforms are only a couple thousand feet of major shipping lanes, which is like threading the needle for the really big, really unmaneuverable oil tankers and cargo vessels. There have been some minor collisions and some major near misses, but so far there's been no major accidents.
Another of his points I don't totally agree with: Louisiana's oil infrastructure is very old, which is true, but it tends to be pretty well cared for and Katrina was, in some respects, a blessing in that a lot of old equipment got replaced and upgraded. Rust isn't as big a deal as it could be. He raises the specter of having to rebuild or expand the LOOP. I've heard of the latter, but I've never heard of anyone saying the LOOP was rusting away.
One of the major subjective assertions he makes, that I happen to agree with, is that the demographics of the Louisiana oil industry, in terms of the aging workforce, might be the WORST IN THE ENTIRE GLOBAL OIL INDUSTRY. There's some young engineers that have been hired since the 2000-era boom and some old guys who survived the cutbacks in the 1980's, and almost nobody in the middle. Not a day goes by without more older engineers going into retirement. A company can keep a stable headcount, if you're lucky, but you'll never be able to keep the experience and talent level the same. The oil industry is paying a price for firing so many workers at the end of the oil bust. The business people thought the Gulf was a "Dead Sea" and these workers would no longer be needed. Oops.
Louisiana's oil industry has had several obituaries written for it, but it's not dead yet. When things are said and done, Louisiana will still be playing a major role in bringing energy to the nation, no matter what form that may come in.