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Sunday, January 25, 2009

More on oil

I should mention that many Americans seem to believe that Saudi Arabia is their primary foreign supplier of oil. As a result, I've provided the EIA information on the occassional blog and mailing list.

Also, some members of the Obama administration are vehemently opposed to Alberta oils sands oil being developed, and want to ban its importation to the US. The oil sands supply about half of the oil from Canada to the US. Oil sands reserves are estimated to be comparable to those of Saudi Arabia, but they require quite a bit of processing to be extracted.

The anti-global warming activists claim that this additional processing is emitting unacceptable amounts of carbon dioxide and the strip mining approach to extraction is irreparably destroying the local environment. Both claims are silly, in my opinion.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

EIA - USA Total Imports of Petroleum (top 8 countries) - Nov 2008

Energy Information Administration (second table, truncated to the top eight countries)
(This link is to the current summary data page)

Total Imports of Petroleum (Top 15 Countries)
(Thousand Barrels per Day)
Country Nov-08 Oct-08 YTD 2008 Nov-07 YTD 2007


A beautiful collection of photos of President Bush

Photographing the President

Thank you, Mr Bush, for being an admirable president.

Alinsky and Obama

The Agitator
Barack Obama's unlikely political education

Ryan Lizza, The New Republic | Monday, March 19, 2007

Democrats’ Platform for Revolution
By John Perazzo, | Monday, May 05, 2008

The Industrial Areas Foundation, founded by Saul Alinsky

Comments on Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals,
including a list of the rules:

Rules for Power Tactics:
1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
3. Whenever possible, go outside of the experience of the enemy.
4. Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.
5. Ridicule is man's most potent weapon.
6. A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside.
12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama live on CPAC/C-SPAN

I'm watching President Obama and his wife along with VP Biden and his wife leave their car and take a stroll to the delirious applause of the crowds. The joy is contagious. Americans sure know how to put on a party!

I hope for the sake of both our countries (and many others as well) that the US under President Obama returns soon to economic prosperity and continues to lead the Free World.

UPDATE: I should point out I only saw about a half hour of the inauguration broadcasts and I don't have any vivid memories of previous ones, so I have no context to judge the character of this inauguration. I do like parades though. ;-)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Peter Foster on gambling and banking

Peter Foster reviews the new book A World of Chance, written by Reuven Brenner, Gabrielle A. Brenner, and Aaron Brown.

A delightful quote:
Sir Ernest Cassel, the private banker to King Edward VII, is quoted in the book as saying, with arresting candour, “When I was young, people called me a gambler. As the scale of my operations increased I became known as a speculator. Now I am called a banker. But I have been doing the same thing all the time.”
Read the whole thing!

Responding to TigerHawk on academics and business

Note: I wrote most of the post below on Jan 17th, but didn't get around to finishing it until now (Jan 25th). It's an elaboration of a comment I left at Tigerhawk.

I'm half-listening right now to a science show on radio. What strikes me is how enthusiastic the scientists are about their cool discoveries, insights, etc. There are a tremendous number of discoveries being made in quite a few fields right now, due to access to data (via sensor networks, robots, etc) that simply weren't available before -- on the ocean floor, on Mars, in large trees, etc. Similar in engineering and business. Any market is being challenged by the ongoing tech revolution, encouraging people to try to do impossible things with occasional success, and to do possible things better. This is fun!

OTOH post-modernism it seems to me has run out of ideas. It's shallow, it's not fun. Academics have to argue that their variant of a speculative theory is better and the other variants are worse. It's rhetoric not substance, and all the big ideas have been picked apart ad nauseum. No fun, just backbiting. Perhaps some of the anti-business bias (not to mention snobbery and disdain) is due to resentment.

I hope that academics in the humanities and social sciences throw out their frameworks and rediscover the joys of poring over and puzzling out the data in their fields. As a side-effect of having more fun in their own fields, they would probably see the fun in other areas -- such as business -- as well.

Texan computer techs need PI licence

My comment in SDA:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blogger Tips and Tricks - Recommended

I'm a novice blogger (though longtime lurker) and just learning how to set up and configure blog stuff. I want a blog roll that I can control, so I searched on Blogger Help, and found Peter Chen's very nice blog, and specific info on how to set one up. Thanks Peter!

HTML/Javascript gadget for blogroll

The Road to Serfdom

Downloadable Reader's Digest version (pdf).

h/t Classical Values

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cringley on Intel's approach to parallel processing

Parallel Universe
By Robert X. Cringley

Cringley's article brings back fond memories of my past studies of parallel computing. I could give comments, background info, and explanations to most paragraphs. Here though, I'll stick to (and criticize) the following:
That may well set a practical limit on the multicore strategy long before we start buying hundred-core PCs.
Does it matter, though? While there may be applications that demand the power of many cores, most people aren't using those applications. Other than hard-core gamers, few people are complaining that their PCs are too slow.
Of the top of my head, I see two major uses for more desktop processing power via multiple cores:
  1. indexing files (names, tags/keywords, contents of documents, images, videos, sounds, etc.) in the background without slowing down user apps (this will drastically reduce the need to create subfolders and the stress of wondering where one stashed that important doc whose name one doesn't quite remember...);
  2. speech recognition, which will permit routine accurate dictation.
These are both available on Vista, but are compute-intensive and are only now becoming somewhat useful on desktop machines.
No doubt there are many more, but it seems to me that on laptops and desktops they will mostly be used to make it easier and more pleasant to create, find, and manage documents, images, videos, etc.

The pervasiveness of slavery

I've been reading Wikipedia's articles on slavery and piracy.  This started with wishing to know more about the Barbary pirates.  

What strikes me is how normal it was up to only a few centuries ago to live knowing that at any moment some group of armed men could come by, loot and destroy your community, slaughter most of the people you know and take the few survivors as slaves.  Having a strong army and lots of reliable allies was good for one's survival and prosperity.

Many of us in the West have forgotten this.  It's become normal here, now, to live on the coast or on the plains or anywhere else in our countries and not have to consider that some group will attack my community to rape, plunder, murder, enslave.  It's just not done here anymore.  And I fear that many of us have forgotten why it's not done here anymore.

A quote from Wikipedia's Barbary Pirates article:

In 1785 two ships (the Maria of Boston and the Dauphin of Philadelphia) were seized, the ships and cargo were sold and the crews were enslaved and held for ransom.[13]

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then the ambassador to France, and John Adams, ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, a visiting ambassador from Tripoli. The Americans asked Adja why his government was hostile to American ships, even though there had been no provocation. They reported to the Continental Congress that the ambassador had told them “it was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave,” but he also told them that for what they considered outrageous sums of money they could make peace.[14]