31 August 2005

**KATRINA** the Aftermath 3.0

The Agony Continues

The human suffering and agony continue. True to form, Americans are stepping up to help in ways too numerous to count. Beyond the immediate human suffering the severe and widespread economic impact is beginning to be felt.

President Bush Opens SPR

Bush White house to announce opening of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in response to the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina. This is good news to relieve upward pricing pressure on unrefined oil prices. However it will do little if anything to relieve pressure on the nations already inadequate refinery capacity . President Bush has the authority as the nations chief executive officer to release the SPR by executive order. President Bush and Congress can do more, and they should do it now.

I have been watching television news programs with some bemusement as talking head after talking head, keeps making the point that our economy is strong overall, and an energy shock probably won't derail the nations overall economic growth. One point that is not getting much airtime, if any, is that our economy has shifted to become a largely consumer driven phenomenon. The average consumer will certainly give more weight to the end price of refined petroleum products, than most of these analysts are.

Gasoline prices of up to or exceeding $3.50-$4.00 a gallon most assuredly will affect consumer behavior. This phenomenon has already been cited by the worlds largest retailer Wal-Mart, as gasoline prices this summer were already exorbitant. If gasoline prices "stabilize" above $3.00/gallon, look for a slow retail Christmas season this year. Another factor to consider is that normally at this time of year is when petroleum refineries are gearing up for heating oil production. A significant portion of those refineries will instead be concentrating on getting back in operation.

What More Should Be Done?

Recognizing that we are largely a consumer driven economy, we must be cognizant that energy shocks pervade the entire economy and persuade the President and Congress to act to minimize the severity of such shocks. The EPA falls under the executive authority of the President. Now is the time he should exercise such authority. The energy bill that was recently passed does little to address these concerns. The President should issue an executive order, suspending the EPA mandates requiring so-called "Boutique" fuels, until such time as we have constructed additional refinery capacity to handle the necessary, and frequent changes in fuel formulation without sending economic shockwaves through the largest economy in the history of mankind. When sufficient refinery capacity is on line, only then we can return to the regime of optimizing fuel blends to local markets.

The EPA has good intentions, but with refinery capacity as limited as it is right now, it is simply a luxury we cannot afford. This includes overriding Californias CARB requirements as well. Thats' what President Bush can do as the nations Chief Executive. It will require substantial political fortitude as the howling-environmental-moonbat-crowd, not to mention the bureaucrats who are invested in the process of making fuel production more complicated rather than less, will have a bloody fit.

Expect lawsuits.

I am convinced that President Bush has such internal fortitude, whether he has the political will is another matter entirely.

Congress Must Act Also

Congress must act now to address the problem of insufficient refinery capacity. Again, the congress must recognize that our economy is now primarily consumer driven. As such they have a duty to enact legislation which enhances this circumstance rather than diminishes it. President Bush should call congress back into session early and have legislation introduced that will significantly ease the burden of the construction of new oil refineries. Create tax exemptions and other additional incentives to encourage the swift completion of such assets. Such legislation must also include the bold step of curtailing or significantly limiting the jurisdiction of the courts to hear the nuisance litigation, certain to be filed by environmentalists, NIMBYs, and BANANAs whose sole purpose it is to impede this plan. Only the congress, as your representative body has the constitutional authority (under ArticleIII) to do so. Again; constitutional authority is one thing, political will is quite another.

Environmentalists, with their usually superficial and emotionally driven analysis, might think that they are helping the environment by blocking such projects, but they are actually hurting the environment by impeding this nations economic progress. This nation has made the greatest strides of any advanced society to lessen its environmental impact and has done so only because it had the economic wherewithal to do so. Take that away by continuing to hurt the heart of the American economy, the consumer; and they risk taking away the economic ability to continue improving the environment. Environmental regulation is a luxury conceived in wealth and executed through bureacracy. We are likely at the point where improving the environment has put sufficient drag on the economy as to impede our ability to continue the progress we have made in improving our environment. In other words, we are likely at or past the point of diminshing returns with regard to the negative impact environmental regulations have on our economy.

Failure to take such bold political steps now, as outlined above is certain to incur the risk of harming our environmental and economic well being through the misfortune of a diminished economy. -SpinDaddy

Update 31AUG05 1356 hrs: Thxs to the Dummocrats website for linking here....also from the excellent must-read-everyday-dummocrats-site is this link with some tremendous pictures of the damage. -Spin

30 August 2005

**KATRINA**the Aftermath 2.0

As the hours pass, and the scope and significance of the devastation wrought by Katrina becomes more evident, the more horrific the impact becomes.

So of course, the usual suspects are starting to pipe up with horsedookey such as this, where commentators in der Spiegel are blaming the Katrina disaster on us for failing to bow and scrape at the feet of the Kyoto prototcol. HT to Drudge. I'm certain that their US domestic counterparts are not far behind in this. Has anybody seen Cindy Sheehan? Michael Moore? Have they started blaming Bush and red state America for Hurricane Katrina like this fool Jurgen Trittin does below?

At this point I'm not so sure that the Marshall plan was money well spent. Can any of these leftist handwringers cite for this blogger ANY evidence of a mechanism by which the Kyoto protocol might have prevented this??

"...The toughest commentary of the day comes from Germany's Environmental Minister, J├╝rgen Trittin, a Green Party member, who takes space in the Frankfurter Rundschau, a paper owned by the Social Democrats, to bash US President George W. Bush's environmental laxity. He begins by likening the photos and videos of the hurricane stricken areas to scenes from a Roland Emmerich sci-fi film and insists that global warming and climate change are making it ever more likely that storms and floods will plague America and Europe. "There is only one possible route of action," he writes. "Greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced and it has to happen worldwide. Until now, the US has kept its eyes shut to this emergency. (Americans) make up a mere 4 percent of the population, but are responsible for close to a quarter of emissions." He adds that the average American is responsible for double as much carbon dioxide as the average European. "The Bush government rejects international climate protection goals by insisting that imposing them would negatively impact the American economy. The American president is closing his eyes to the economic and human costs his land and the world economy are suffering under natural catastrophes like Katrina and because of neglected environmental policies." As such, Trittin also calls for a reworking of the Kyoto Protocol -- dubbing it the uncreative title of "Kyoto 2" -- and insisting that the US be included..."

Insisting?!!

By what means do you propose to enforce such insistence Herr Trittin? Americans might only make up 4 percent of the population and may indeed be responsible for a quarter of the emissions; in exchange for that, we are, by an order of several magnitude, more productive than the average european who seems to split their time going to and coming from holiday, and striking because they do not have enough vacation time. In other words they are usually pissed off by Americas very existence and having to strike for more vacation time. All the while, resting under the protective umbrella of US military forces, at a cost of untold billions (trillions!?) since WWII.

Again Herr Trittin, by what mechanism do you suppose this so-called Kyoto2 agreement would prevent such an occurence?? The reason Katrina will stack up to be a much more devastating event in human and economic terms than Camille in 1969 (even though they are roughly the same meteorologically) is because after Camille we recovered in such vigorous fashion and the area has built back up even greater than before. It has absolutely nothing to do with a lack of American participation in the Kyoto protocols. Not one erg.

Jurgen; I have a news flash for you baby, the planet has been warming since the end of the last ICE AGE!!!! It has nothing whatsoever to do with SUVs or Kyoto!!

Fool.

Would Herr Trittin impose some sort of UN zoning laws to tell us where and how to develop here? Guess what Jurgen? We will recover and rebuild AGAIN. It is ingrained in the American psyche as much as it is in the socialist-pan-european psyche to sit around, smoke cigarettes and complain bitterly about how unfair it is to have to strike for more vacation time.

Perhaps a good way for us to begin to recover would be for us to husband our resources a bit by say pulling all American troops off European, and Korean soil. We could send 1/3 to the gulf coast, 1/3 to Iraq, and 1/3 to the border with Mexico. What do ya' say Jurgen? We can start tommorrow.

Oh yeah, Jurgen by the way when can we expect all those Lufthansa cargo planes to come swooping in loaded with European caring an compassion?!! The Memphis airport is open we could stage them all here, and truck the relief supplies down I-55.

Jurgen? ??

Hello; Jurgen??

Jurgen??

Anybody seen Jurgen? -SpinDaddy

Update 30AUG05 1647 hrs: Good thoughts here at the Below the Beltway Blog (cool blog handle by the way), re: oil prices and Katrina. -Spin

UpDate 30AUG05 2051 hrs: Katrina has blown out of Memphis now. She really just grazed us, we were very fortunate that she had diminshed significantly upon landfall. Our damage was mostly downed trees.KatrinaMemphis2

Also MLGW says about 75,000 are without power. We are so lucky compared to those to our south. This homeowner was not so fortunate, but again compared to where Katrina made landfall, this is very minor. Katrina Memphis -Spin

29 August 2005

**KATRINA** the Aftermath

It is looking better and better for our beloved New Orelans as each hour passes. At this time she has weakened to Category 2, and is mostly past New Orleans, and is moving North at a pretty good clip. This will help to lessen the impact on the vulnerable crescent city. Now she is headed toward Jackson, MS and the vulnerable Pearl River basin and from there she looks to be coming here to Memphis.

Stephen Green over at the VodkaPundit has some excellent thoughts on the American attitude to adversity in general, and how we always, always suck it up and git'r done. His observations are dead on. We rise to the occasion everytime from the Revolutionary War, to the War between the States, WWII, to 11SEP01 to Katrina, to whatever comes next. It is an inextricably intertwined trait of the American spirit.

Find good links here too HT to the InstaPundit.

The ugly part of the aftermath will be in the drudgery of the clean up and the likely months long impact on energy prices as petroleum production, and refining capacity is restored. Too easily panicked oil traders are likely to wet their pants yet again and drive prices through the roof.

Everything I am reading keeps indicating that a lack of refinery capacity rather than shortage of supply is driving the tightness in the market right now. Why are we not building new refineries right now? I've heard Cheney mention tight refinery capacity several times in speeches going back at least a couple of years; why are we not all over this like a cheap suit?? It is time to put environmentalists, and NIMBYs in their place and get on with the business of easing this bottleneck, before it takes the wind out of the US economy.

Meanwhile keep praying for our beloved New Orleans. -SpinDaddy

28 August 2005

**KATRINA** East Coast and Southern Region ALERT

Hurricane Katrina has reached a Category 5 rating; and is at this time, poised to strike the Greater New Orleans area. All those in the affected area should heed the call of authorities and evacuate to higher ground immediately.

Those of us not directly in the coastal areas to be affected, should prepare to help with water, food and clothing donations. If Katrina brings a significant storm surge up the Mississippi river along the low lying French Quarter or into Lake Pontchartrain on the Northern edge of the city and the levees breached; losses could be devastating. If this scenario unfolds it will be a months, if not years long ordeal affecting that region.

Also bear in mind that one of the biggest industries in New Orleans is petroleum, already offshore oil well personnel are being evacuated. Expect further significant spikes in fuel prices to follow. Gulf oil makes up 25% of Amercas supply, an already strained fuel market is about to be severely tested.

BUY FUEL NOW and get as much as you can, fuel cans etc. as $2.60/gallon will probably look like a bargain in the weeks to come. This Dept of Energy website explains the importance of WX in the price and availabilty of Fuel and Katrina is setting up to put one in the bullseye of this scenario.

NOAA Katrina website info Here

Accuweather.com Here

-SpinDaddy

23 August 2005

The Wal-Mart-High-Fuel-Price Cycle

The Ironic Press Release Claim

From the if-it-wasn't-so-pathetic, it-would-be-funny dept. Wal-Mart blames high oil prices and thus high gasoline prices for negatively impacting sales this quarter.

"...The largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart, reported last week that sales and profits for the three months ending July 31 were a little worse than expected because "our consumer continues to be impacted by higher gas prices."
The New York Times could barely contain its delight. The economy is slowing down because of soaring energy costs!
..."

The irony of Wal-Mart mentioning this in their financial report is almost too much to take, because Wal-Mart is a huge part of the reason China's economy is growing so.

Right?!!

Virtually every report we hear about the high prices of gasoline mentions increased Chinese demand, in fact a Chinese state run energy company even recently tried to buy Unocal.
DSCN0849

If this is correct; it could be very funny to watch this cycle spool up, as Wal-Mart continues to price it's own customers out of their cars for the want of low prices everyday. It seems the money you are saving by buying your made-in-China-whatever at Wal-Mart, you are giving back at the pump by increasing the circumstance of the Chinese economy. So should people walk to Wal-Mart, will they send a Wal-Mart bus for you?

I challenge you to find more than a few items in any Wal-Mart that are not made in China. I don't know what percentage of Wal-Mart inventory is made in China Inc. but it has to be well over 50%. When I used to go there, the few things I have found there that are not made in China are made somewhere I never heard of.

China is not your friend

I understand the argument that we should engage the Chinese people with commerce as a way of undermining the influence and eventually the power of the communist despots who run the place. I am concerned though, that such an approach has reached the point of diminishing returns, and we continue such approach at our own peril. Apparently the people of China are too timid to do any such thing as put their tyrannical leaders in their place. As we are seeing in Iraq; having a group of people as large as a nation state with sufficient gumption to grasp the concepts and application of Liberty is a rare occurrence indeed. Our Founding Fathers were such a group.

It wasn't that long ago that Wal-Mart used to blow their own horn in commercials about how many of their products were made in America. Their trucks all featured American flags plastered all over the side. Those trucks and commercials have since been quietly retired. What percentage of China's GDP is Wal-Mart singly responsible for anyway?

The shiploads of money (not to mention scrap iron) that we are sending over there are being turned from plowshares into swords. While China has never been particularly aggressive before, that could change. Hotheads in the Chinese military establishment routinely make oblique threats to nuke Los Angeles in the press. Why else are they modernizing their military so? There is no threat to China. So with the money we spend at Wal-Mart, the Chinese are driving up our energy costs and dramatically modernizing their military. Not to mention their abhorent policies of forced abortions, prison labor, organ harvesting, etc.

Hmmmm.

To paraphrase Pogo: "I have seen the enemy, and they is us."

The math goes something like this: We go to Wal-Mart and give them money for say, lawn chairs made in China, Wal-Mart sends part of the money to China for more lawn chairs, the Chinese economy grows, Chinese demand for oil resources increases, the price of our gasoline goes up. And so the vicious "Wal-Mart-high-fuel-price-cycle" goes.

DSCN0847
It's probably not fair to single out Wal-Mart here; it's just that they are the most glaring example, there are plenty of other American companies heavily invested in China, GM for example. But perhaps it is time to re-examine the wide open nature of engaging the Chinese economically. Perhaps placing more emphasis on gaining positive results on the ground in China in the areas of Human Rights and their foreign policy.

The Dark Side

Meanwhile, the Peak-Oil conspiracy theorists would have you believe the jig is up for America, I'm not buying it yet. At this so-called Life-After-The-Oil-Crash site, the author makes a very sophisticated argument, and I don't mean that in a flattering sense, I mean it in the Greek root sense of the word, as in sophistry. There are vast swaths of say, Siberia that have not even begun to be explored,the abiotic or abiogenic process theory wherein oil reserves replenish themselves naturally and generally speaking the cost of energy has gone down, not up over the last century.

There is a good counter argument here in the book The Bottomless Well ; I heard one of the authors, Peter Huber one night on C-Span, and he makes a very compelling argument, that we are not running out of oil.

We do have refinery capacity problems and a too picky and demanding EPA which requires boutique fuels for different markets. A demand that arguably our refinery infrastructure was not designed to handle as the refineries have to basically shut down to change over to the summer/winter blend, and to perform maintenance. And as a result, we see these horrendous spikes in the end costs of the refined products. Such requirements should be suspended by executive order, until such time as refinery capacity is imroved to the point to be able to accomodate this regime.

Speaking of C-span, I was watching late last night as an interesting debate was being conducted on the methodology of measuring the net energy profile of potential agri-derived alternatives (some argue petro-derivatives is more like it) such as soy derived bio-diesel; and corn and switchgrass derived ethanol as replacements for diesel and gasoline respectively. The argument wasn't settled, but this area of research holds promise.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

My opinion; bio-diesel is the best candidate because the diesel powerplant is inherently more efficient than a comparable gasoline engine. Another good reason to pursue agri-derived alternatives is that they could someday mimic the energy density of petroleum products. That is petroleums greatest benefit: energy density. I read somewhere (maybe a Patrick Bedard editorial in Car&Driver) that it takes 800 pounds of lead/acid batteries to equal the energy content in one gallon of gasoline. Also diesel engines extract more energy through the combustion ignition process, as compared to gasoline engines. Diesel fuel is also safer in the event of a crash involving a fuel spill as it has a much lower flashpoint.

Two more important reasons to pursue better diesel engine availabilty and bio-diesel production are that we already have the infrastructure in place to support the movement and sales of diesel, and if America is anything, we are an agri-nomic powerhouse the likes of which have never been seen in the history of mankind.

If we are to wean ourselves off of imported oil; then minimizing the economic trauma of such a transition is imperative and logic would dictate that, already having an infrastructure in place to support bio-diesel would ease the transition by an exponential order of magnitude, unlike the pie in the sky nonsense about a so-called "Hydrogen Economy". I can go get you a bucket of bio-diesel today, you cannot do the same with a bucket of hydrogen; in fact, you couldn't even contain the hydrogen in a bucket for that matter. It would please Thomas Jefferson no end if we were able to leverage our agricultural prowess to avoid foreign entanglements.

Unfortunately, we don't have the latest diesel engine technology available in this country because the EPA and CARB keep imposing ever more stringent pollution standards on diesel emissions. The latest diesel powerplants readily available in the european and other world markets are very, very clean and getting cleaner all the time. But again, the eco-bureaucrats in this country are strangling innovation in this country. It is interesting to observe that were Henry Ford to attempt to produce such a thing as a Model T today he would be completely unable to for the burden of bureaucracy. EPA, NHTSA, CARB, OSHA, etc. would all feast on his carcass like so many buzzards. By the way, a Ford model T was good for a bout 25-30 mpg.

Excellent op-ed piece by Thomas Sowell on this subject where he makes some very good suggestions. Here is another counterpoint on this meme, and another good read here from Real Clear Politics. -SpinDaddy

20 August 2005

Where's SpinDaddy??

Oh man, has it been a long, and tedious summer. This whole "move-back-to-Memphis-thing" has taken waayyy longer than I had imagined it would. The 1st year anniversary of this blog is coming up in a few days so I am back just in the nick of time. There has been so much I would have loved to sound off about but it would be just impossible for me to go back and do so effectively. So I'll just have to get back to it as it comes along. And please bear with me as I struggle to get back into form such as it is.

The biggest hang up was getting back here and, as noted in earlier scattered posts from this summer, finding a rental property that we owned had been thoroughly trashed. My wife and I had already refurbished this house a few years ago, only to have to do it all over again. Litigation is pending, but I am not going to hold my breath. Blood from a turnip and all.

So when I was last able to post with any seriousness, I had posted (what I think was) a nifty roadtrip blogpost. So picking up there; I will fill in as best I can. The house we had in the mountains was on such a treacherous hill that we were limited to a smaller truck because of extremely tight switchbacks in the drive, so that neccesitated multiple trips with U-Haul trailers to make up the difference. Here is another neat picture that didn't make the cut for the post linked above, so by way of catching up and getting back into the blogging game, I will include it here.
I was just getting up to speed with photoblogging when I had to pull the plug up in Boone. Look for much more photoblogging as I get back up to speed, especially in my upcoming series "Things I Do Love About Memphis". Memphis has it's own unique and sometimes maddening set of characters and problems but there is also a lot to reccomend it, and in this series which I shamelessly admit is inspired by blogger extraordinaire Matt Rosenberg of Rosenblog fame and especially his recent travel blog-posts from his recent trip to Michigan with his family, I intend to highlight the things Memphis does have going for it. I used to live and work in the great Pacific NW and reading Matts musings regarding the area make me long for the great Cascade and Coastal mountain ranges. His posts are informative and a genuine delight. I hope that my posts about the offbeat and out of the way treasures in Memphis measure up.

I really-really loved living up in the NC mountains, but the wife missed her family and friends so here we are again. After we got back we have been up to our necks in a hurry-up second renovation.

We had to work to reclaim a wildly overgrown yard, re-paint, new carpet, and the biggest project redo was the hard wood floors.DSCN0695

First starting with the huge industrial unit above, which does a great job but is alo a real strain in the back as it were.

Then came the edging sander. DSCN0701 Again, very effective at removing layers of varnish buildup and other neglect, but not as much fun to use as it looks. Then there was the dust. I emptied all the dust in one pile that eventually was about three feet tall.

Then came touch up work with the Black and Decker Mouse, which took more time than the other two units combined as 80 grit is the most aggressive you can get for a mouse size sander. Then there is follow-up up to about 220 grit. More dust. DSCN0759

Then came the three coats of Urethane. Allow to dry. Cure. Repeat.

Then the next room, the hallway, the next room. Repeat. DSCN0759

So that has been a big part of my summer, not to mention training for and starting a new job.

I did manage to sneak in an airshow in Tunica MS with my son, and an old friend. Great time, got to see lots of neat old airplanes and hear those wonderful old radial engines fire up. DSCN0603 The sound of Freedom. These were air races like those held in Reno NV. But they also had warbirds there as well. DSCN0580

Now that I have my ISP issues settled, I will be back on it in a big way. I have yet to catch up with AlphaPatriot, Joefish and Half-Bakered among other Memphis bloggers, but I intend to when I get some time . For now I'll have my hands full getting back up to speed with the blog, but with my son back in school and most of the home renovation projects done again, I'll at least have time to get back to the blogging.

Thxs to those who have continued to check back in over the last few months. I will do everything I can to make it worth your while.

-SpinDaddy

Could it Be!!?

Can SpinDaddy be back?

This time for sure, no DSL screw-ups?!

Check - check - check....pinging -SpinDaddy

Update:Yeah baby!! Cable modem and ISP rock...death to DSL!! -Spin

11 August 2005

DSL Sucks

Tried to go the DSL route to get back online now that most of the home improvement projects are knocked out (there will be pics soon), my lovely bride received a call soliciting the DSL, and since it was long past time to get online at the new house she bit.

Much gnashing of teeth later and still no reliable service, we're going back to a cable modem. Much faster and more reliable to boot, and for the negligible difference in price it really is a no brainer.

Supposed to get that up late next week. So still blogging from an undisclosed location. Can't wait to get back to it. Much more photoblogging when I return, and more so stay tuned.
-SpinDaddy

03 August 2005

21st Century Definition of Quality

The definition of Quality in the 21st Century is as follows.

I purchase your product; say a DSL ISP service and I DON'T have to call your 800 number to get it to work. I appreciate that you went to all the trouble and razzle-dazzle to pay some poor girl in India $1.75 a week to learn english and try to help me with the problem but really, I mean we can tear Gap Filler material from Spacecraft going 17,000 mph, 22miles up in the sky, we should be able to get an ISP account up and running fairly painlessly.

Right??

I'm being patient, very patient. Faithful readers please do the same.
-SpinDaddy

Update 04AUG05: Okay patience has run out...was told problem would be resolved today; it is not...switching ISP providers. Who needs Ralph Nader? This is the definition of the 21st Century consumer activist. From an undisclosed location -Spin