Fracking “Revolution” continues to be a disaster for investors and more

❝ Steve Schlotterbeck, who led drilling company EQT as it expanded to become the nation’s largest producer of natural gas in 2017, arrived at a petrochemical industry conference in Pittsburgh…with a blunt message about shale gas drilling and fracking.

“The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions,” Schlotterbeck, who left the helm of EQT last year, continued. “In fact, I’m not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change.”

“While hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits have accrued to hundreds of millions of people, the amount of shareholder value destruction registers in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said. “The industry is self-destructive.” [emphasis added]…

❝ “The technological advancements developed by the industry have been the weapon of its own suicide,” Schlotterbeck added, referring to the financial impacts of shale gas drilling on shale gas drillers. “And unfortunately, the industry still has not fully realized how it’s killing itself. Since 2015, there’s been 172 E&P company bankruptcies involving nearly a hundred billion dollars of debt.”

❝ “In a little more than a decade, most of these companies just destroyed a very large percentage of their companies’ value that they had at the beginning of the shale revolution,” he said. “It’s frankly hard to imagine the scope of the value destruction that has occurred. And it continues.”

Our fake president wants to make it easier for this clown show to borrow even more money. When this paper edifice crashes and burns – what do you think will be the effect on the nation’s economy?

Nine of the world’s largest tech firms ain’t anywhere near Silicon Valley


FoxConn data centers

China is now home to nine of the world’s largest public tech companies in terms of market value. They include Alibaba, Tencent, Ant Financial, Baidu, Xiaomi, Didi Chuxing, JD.com, Meituan-Dianping, and Toutiao.

With well over a billion citizens and an ever-growing market, China’s rise in the tech market is understandable. Compared to the United States, the Asian country is outpacing, in leaps and bounds, the number of degrees awarded in science and engineering. This highly skilled labor force is paying off in China’s tech world and its expansion.

Just five years ago the Asian giant had only two of the world’s biggest public tech companies in market value. The United States boasted nine of the largest.

I know all of the rationales Americans – more than any Westerners outside of the UK – roll out to disparage faster and more dynamic growth in Asian countries. I worked for American and British firms sourced significantly from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China over a few decades. Some of the crap excuses worked for a few years; but, in every case, the reason those producers ran right past their Anglo-American counterparts was higher standards, a willingness to invest time and money in education, trained staff to accomplish product development and production more efficiently.

The single best example, nowadays, would be FoxConn – a Taiwan company mostly manufacturing in Mainland China. Ask anyone with knowledge of American manufacturing and assembly experience how long it takes to completely switchover a plant from one product line to another? You’ll get an answer measured in weeks. FoxConn takes hours, perhaps a couple of days. Because they will pay 1500 process engineers to takeover that plant floor and rollout a changeover in that time frame. I don’t know any American firms that can scrape together that many spare engineering staff – or would.

And I don’t know of any state in the GOUSA that’s capable of or concerned about educating engineers or researchers ready to develop similar systems here in the US – or in the UK. Yes, cultures are different in many ways. But, I’m just offering real reasons why we don’t compete.

Chinese have been brewing beer for 5000 years


Funnels used at the ancient breweryJiajing Wang/PNAS

A 5,000-year-old brewery has been unearthed in China.

Archaeologists uncovered ancient “beer-making tool kits” in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It’s the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

For instance, the scientists found a pottery stove, which the ancient brewers would have heated to break down carbohydrates to sugar. And the brewery’s underground location was important for both storing beer and controlling temperature — too much heat can destroy the enzymes responsible for that carb-to-sugar conversion…

The research group inspected the pots and jugs and found ancient grains that had lingered inside. The grains showed evidence that they had been damaged by malting and mashing, two key steps in beer-making. Residue from inside the uncovered pots and funnels was tested with ion chromatography to find out what the ancient beer was made of. The 5,000-year-old beer “recipe” was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The recipe included a mix of fermented grains: broomcorn millet, barley and Job’s tears, a chewy Asian grain also known as Chinese pearl barley. The recipe also called for tubers, the starchy and sugary parts of plants, which were added to sweeten and flavor the beer…

Gotta love it. I think any culture that bumps into natural fermentation – and the products thereof – would have carried on to research and expand uses of the process.

Of course, I’m a devotee. I started my weekly “poolish” a couple hours ago – that will end up in a home-baked loaf of bread Wednesday morning. And my wife brews hard cider every couple of weeks. For a couple of geek hermits, we keep occupied in pretty traditional ways.

What people in 1900 thought the year 2000 would look like

There are few things as fascinating as seeing what people in the past dreamed about the future. “France in the Year 2000” is one example.

The series of paintings, made by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910, shows artist depictions of what life might look like in the year 2000. The first series of images were printed and enclosed in cigarette and cigar boxes around the time of the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, according to the Public Domain Review, then later turned into postcards.

Cool. I love stuff like this. Sometimes folks come close.

Average US vehicle age continues to rise — up to 11½ years

Ruff Boy with a spool of kindling
21 tears old and counting

The combined average age of all light vehicles on the road in the U.S. has climbed slightly to 11.5 years, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation taken Jan. 1 of this year, according to IHS Automotive, a global provider of critical information and insight to the automotive industry…

Registrations for light VIO in the U.S. also reached a record level of 257,900,000. That’s an increase of more than 5.3 million (2.1 percent) since last year and the highest annual increase the auto industry has seen in the U.S. since IHS began tracking VIO growth. New vehicle registrations also outpaced scrappage by more than 42 percent – the highest rate seen since the statistic has been tracked, according to the analysis…

Helping age the fleet is the fact that consumers are holding on to their vehicles longer than ever before.

Looking ahead, IHS forecasts that average age is likely to hit 11.6 years in 2016 but not reach 11.7 until 2018. The rate of growth is slowing as compared to 2008-2013 due to the recovery in new vehicle sales. IHS Automotive has expected this and has been preparing customers and industry leaders in the aftermarket to respond to this slowdown in growth…

Because of improved quality and consumers holding their cars and light trucks longer, vehicles 12-plus years old continue to grow and will increase 15 percent by 2020.

And that – after all – is the point. The critters are built better and last longer. Recalls aside. Between lawyers, insurance companies and politicians running for re-election, recalls are way up. Some of that is from increased complexity. Some from special areas of lousy QC – like airbags.

But, most families are probably like mine. My wife got her first shiny new car ever a year-and-a-half ago. Part of preparation for early retirement. She only drives about 2000 miles per year since retiring.

My 21-year-old pickup had over 200K miles on it when I retired but [1] it didn’t seem likely to self-destruct from wear – now driving about 800 miles per year and [2] only driving about 800 miles per year, it didn’t make sense to buy a new or newish used truck. Ruff Boy, keep on rolling!

Microsoft confronts the DOJ and Congress over global privacy


Some folks think this is up-to-date

American law enforcement officials cannot get evidence located in other countries without the help of foreign governments. But can an American company be ordered by a court to turn over information stored on computer servers located in another country? The Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York will consider that question this week in a narcotics case in which federal prosecutors want access to a Microsoft email account stored in Ireland.

The case raises difficult questions about the reach of domestic law and the Internet’s global nature. It also points to significant gaps in American laws, which do not address how data stored abroad should be treated. Congress passed the Stored Communications Act, the law at issue in this case, in 1986, when few people could have foreseen cloud computing or imagined that businesses would operate data centers around the world that store messages and documents of Americans and foreigners alike.

I certainly hope you don’t think the lazy bastards we elected would keep up-to-date with changing technology and legal responsibility. Some of these clowns still haven’t figured out civil rights or having a commitment to the whole electorate.

Microsoft is asking the court to quash a warrant issued by a federal magistrate judge in December, contending that it cannot be compelled to turn over information located in its Irish data center because American law does not apply there. It argues that to obtain information stored in Ireland, the Justice Department needs to go through the legal-assistance treaty between that country and the United States. Other companies, including Verizon, AT&T and Apple, and public-interest groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed briefs supporting Microsoft’s position.

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, which is fighting Microsoft, argues that going through foreign governments would be far too cumbersome and would allow criminals to evade American law by storing information about illegal activities on foreign servers.

Not much more detail needed. The crux of the case is privacy protection which can affect all of us.

40 percent of parents learn how to use technology from their children

Teresa Correa, University Diego Portales (in Santiago, Chile), conducted in-depth interviews with 14 parent/child sets and surveyed 242 parent/child sets. She found that youth influence their parents in all technologies studied – computer, mobile Internet, social networking – up to 40% of the time. The children’s scores were higher compared to parents, showing that parents don’t necessarily recognize the influence. Parent’s also learned how to use technologies by self-experimentation.

This bottom-up influence process was more likely to occur with mothers and lower socioeconomic families. Similar to what happens among low-income immigrant families, where the children act as language and culture links between the family and the new environment. Digital media represents a new environment for lower socioeconomic families, and the children from poorer families were more likely to receive input about technology from school and friends. This spills over and, in turn, the children teach their parents…

“The fact that this bottom-up technology transmission occurs more frequently among women and lower-SES families has important implications,” said Correa. “Women and poor people usually lag behind in the adoption and usage of technology. Many times, they do not have the means to acquire new technologies but, most importantly, they are less likely to have the knowledge, skills, perceived competence, and positive attitudes toward digital media. These results suggest that schools in lower-income areas should be especially considered in government or foundation-led intervention programs that promote usage of digital media.”

All of which prompts parallel commitments for the same reasons. Teaching children about healthy eating, exercise, even broadening cultural horizons to seed knowledge in parents who may not have had adequate learning opportunities in their own childhood.