Wolf DeVoon

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  1. Self-explanatory in this video. I decided to write a speech, on the off chance of being invited to speak somewhere, someday. https://www.facebook.com/100014970991201/videos/585045462004482/ full text of The Speech at my blog
  2. Among thoughtful friends, it's always good and right to listen and hear an entirely different solution. I'm sure Mr. Adams knows what he's saying. A couple years ago I looked at thorium, and I was involved obliquely in the media circus of Three Mile Island, had the pleasure of speaking to the late Petr Beckmann. In many ways, I'm humbled and happy to have lived in an era of great men and profoundly clever women like the Russian hussy honored here. In the original post, I mentioned that Americans consume 20 million barrels of oil a day, 7 or 8 billion barrels a year, depending on which war we're fighting where. That's not the problem. The problem is how to increase consumption, to encourage the liberty and prosperity of our surging population of penniless migrants and their soon-to-be ambitious descendants, who will multiply like rabbits. Whether coal-fired or nuclear (or both), we need to expand electric generation to power more homes, schools, factories, offices, hospitals, and water works. I've heard some truly psychotic counterproposals about "saving the planet" and consuming less. Solar, wind, Tesla, and Cash For Clunkers were a cheap opening gambit, billions in subsidies. High speed rail upped the price to hundreds of billions. Now they want to kill off petroleum, with TENS OF TRILLIONS of dollars of capital assets deployed, a gigantic network of reliable industrial installations and equipment used in exploration, production, pipelines, refineries, distributors, retailers, 99.9% of passenger road traffic, and a fleet of big rigs delivering food to grocery stores and restaurants, supplies to Home Depot, WalMart, and Victoria's Secret. Without liquid fuels, Amazon, FedEx, and all government operations screech to a halt. It strikes me as cruel, in a John Galt sort of way, that U.S. voters might someday elect people stupid enough to outlaw internal combustion engines and compel their constituents to drive lithium firetraps that ignite if wrecked and have to be recharged every 200 miles, assuming that charging stations are available in Frostbite Falls and Petticoat Junction. The U.S. Dept. of Fairness might have to ration amperage, alternate day even/odd plate numbers, recharging only during off-peak hours, unless you're a privileged public servant with an Exempt tag. A "quick" jolt at Charg N' Go might take an hour or two, depending on battery health. Liquid energy is compact, powerful, available everywhere, and only takes a few minutes to fill up. It liberates 35 million commercial vehicles to go anywhere and work all day -- sales people, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, welders, bulldozers, backhoes, road contractors, ready-mix trucks, front end loaders, dump trucks, tractors, harvesters, school buses, airport shuttles, taxis, limos, ambulances, armored cars, 18-wheelers, and railroad locomotives. Our military is not going to convert its MRAPs, helicopters, F-16s, or patrol boats to run on laptop batteries. Neither will scheduled airlines, fire services, power linemen, or cops. The "green" transportation pipedream is indulged by people who believe that they can wave a magic wand and create wealth. Enormous, vastly capitalized, competitive industrial titans supply refined petroleum as cheaply as possible to keep you independent, rain or shine or sleet -- a sector that employs seven million skilled American workers, not including auto mechanics and auto parts stores who enable the poor to escape mass transit and maximize their privacy and pride, to relocate for a better job in a safer community anywhere that roads exist. No car, no freedom. All my vehicles have been high mileage 4WD that were serviced cheaply in big cities and dinky villages. The heft and power of an old GMC Sierra enables my daughter to navigate gravel roads, curvy two-lane highways, and city streets, rain or shine. In a former life, I used to be somebody, ten years of experience in oil and gas exploration as the business manager of a consulting company. We worked for majors and big independents, interpreted seismic volumes measured in terabytes, picked drilling locations, and assessed projects worldwide. I read well logs, reservoir maps, sequence stratigraphy models, paleo and geochem lab reports, production history, etc, and wrote about reserves valuation. During the past few days, I composed the following to explain a few things about domestic U.S. oil and gas production. It took a while to articulate in plain language what's what and why. There are economic, political, and social ramifications to consider. We are resource impoverished, which explains why our military became an expensive, globally engaged World Cop. ... U.S. PETROLEUM GEOLOGY This is a map from 60 million years ago. There was a shallow continental waterway called The Great Basin that slowly filled with erosional sand and silt deposited in low spots. A meteor smashed into the Yucatan and changed the climate (the "K-T" Extinction). In the fullness of geologic time, tens of millions of years, tectonic pressures rearranged and lifted the Rockies higher. There was a great deal of water erosion, more sand and silt and meandering rivers. Silt settled under coarser sand, and with millions of years of burial heat and pressure the silt became shale, some of it quite thick. The Great Basin is a layer cake with alterating layers of shale and sandstone. Shales have organic molecules that transform with "anoxic" (airless) heat and pressure to become kerogens, precursors of oil and/or natural gas. Buoyant oil migrates up into porous sandstone. A higher, younger shale trapped oil in the sandstone. Hydrocarbon generation is accelerated by igneous hot spots. Recoverable oil columns are determined by thickness of the sand(s), the organic content of the source shale(s), and the subsurface water level. It's not unusual for some water to be produced in an oil reservoir. Conventional production of oil and gas consists of drilling vertically into saturated sandstone in a "fault block" or a nicely rounded "anticline" formed by elastic compression of the layer cake. Because oil and gas exist at great depth, buried under thousands of feet of rock and dirt that were deposited over millions of years, drilling into an oil reservoir the first time often results in a "gusher." In a natural gas field, there is tremendous danger of a blowout. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible operating offshore in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and sank when they lost control of a high pressure gas-capped oil well. Hundreds of workers have been killed or maimed in drilling mishaps, quite a few every year to the present day. It is dangerous work, handling tons of threaded steel pipe sections and correctly balancing the pressure of downhole circulating "mud" to evacuate rock cuttings. Most of the oil and gas plays shown on the Great Basin map were explored and drilled during the past 100 years. Some are kaput as a resource. Believe it or not, there was a spectacular "pinnacle reef" oil play near Detroit and abundant natural gas drilled in 10-acre spacing like a waffle, long before we had seismic surveys. The Southern California oilfield in Signal Hill was drilled so intensively that there used to be dozens of ancient pump jacks on Cherry Avenue, idle and rusting, relics of a dead play. Very large resources in California (Monterey and Santa Barbara) are off-limits by state law and Federal sequestration, never produced. HORIZONTAL FRACKING Cut to the present. The deposits of 60 million years ago haven't changed. There's a limited amount of conventional drilling that still makes sense, in Alberta, Kansas, Oklahoma, on the Continental Shelf, and emphatically in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico -- the largest conventional oil resource in play, produced by multibillion-dollar "floaters" held in a constant sea location through tides, waves, and storms by powerful GPS-controlled thrusters. Although difficult and expensive to exploit, there's considerable undrilled potential in the Deepwater Gulf, thick mature shales and thick sands flushed by the Mississippi River tens of millions of years ago. All the supermajors are involved, and there's an amazing network of pipelines on the Gulf seafloor that pump oil and gas to Houma and Houston. Depending on the economics, it's possible to deploy automated subsea iron to do long term production, so the giant floating skyscraper can be moved to another deepwater drilling project. However, on dry land throughout the onshore Great Basin, there are lots of Mom and Pop drillers and oil leaseholders who own a few old wells that produce 20 or 30 barrels a day with "nodding donkey" pump jacks that fill a tank to be emptied into a truck once a month or so. Among the shrewd, entrepreneurial Texan drillers, there was a fellow who had a clever idea. He decided to drill a well and steer it horizontally, then push a metal "pig" full of bullets into the horizontal leg to perforate the casing and drain more oil, some of it oozing from shale. Thus began the horizontal fracturing revolution. With most of the saturated sandstone already exploited, one of the independents operating in the Denver Julesberg Basin reasoned that they could horizontally fracture their oily shales and a friable chalk layer. They followed up with high pressure water and sand to force larger cracks in the shale and hold the cracks open with chunky sand "proppant." All innovations in the oil business are shared by permit filings and enthusiastic gossip. The price of oil shot to $100 a barrel, a compelling incentive for dozens of small companies to frac. In Oklahoma City another idea was concocted, fracking to produce gas in the Barnett Shale under DFW. Not much more to be said. There was a bidding war for shale acreage, despite falling prices for oil and gas. Hundreds of millions were invested, then billions raised from share offerings. Horizontal wells in the Bakken initially cost $10 million each, to produce $6 million of oil that wasn't separated effectively, diluted with volatile NGLs (natural gas liquids). North Dakota had no rail terminals, no pipelines to ship product to the Gulf Coast. Some of these economic problems were addressed by creative thinking, and money continued to flow into fracking. There was wall-to-wall hoopla in the Oil Patch press. Valuation firms made fat fees certifying billions of barrels of "proved" shale reserves, counting every acre leased as equally rich (!) Unskilled men tramped to North Dakota and were hired to drive water trucks, handle pipe, and risk their lives, paying $2000 a month to snore on a bunk in one of the "mancamps" that were put up as quickly and cheaply as possible. Prostitution and drugs became thriving enterprises. Sheriffs and Tribal cops worked overtime to fill overcrowded jails and hospitals. Sad ending for a lot of people, especially those fracking shale to produce gas in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. The price of natural gas crashed, shale drillers went broke, shareholders revolted, tens of billions were written off, and there was a high profile executive suicide. Three big shale plays became profitable -- Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale in Texas that produced oil, a stone's throw from refineries in Houston, plus the rich Marcellus Shale gas play in Pennsylvania, operated efficiently in close proximity to Washington DC, New York, and Boston, who were eager to build new "clean" gas-fired electric power plants. Horizontal drilling in the Niobrara Chalk raised expectations in Colorado and Wyoming, and the Dakota Express pipeline project will improve Bakken economics $8-$10 a barrel. I'm skeptical about triumphant huzzahs, that America is energy self-sufficient. Government people report funny statistics, counting all grades of crude and NGLs as "Total Liquids" with a misleading conversion of gas as Oil Equivalent. We're producing more than we did ten years ago, but if you unpack the numbers, we upgrade tar from Canada, and much of our domestic production comes from Deepwater GOM and dreary Kern County in California. For a time I worked at a news organization. I had to put my hand up to say stop the presses, because they were about to publish exaggerated reserves that a shale operator plumped on the road to an initial public offering. Their goal was a sky high multiple, backed by institutional investors and Wall Street underwriters, everything predicated on being acquired by a supermajor who needed to book the exaggerated reserves. Exxon's acquisition of XTO inspired a $100 billion scramble for US shale acquisitions and joint ventures by Reliance (India), CNOOC (China), Total (France), BG Group (UK), Statoil (Norway), Royal Dutch Shell (NL-UK), BP (UK), Talisman (Canada), Mitsui (Japan), BHP (Australia), and US stalwarts Chevron and ConocoPhillips. Bottom line. Forget about current Energy Dept stats, true, false or fudged. The future of shale fracking is no different than conventional production. Depletion is a one-way street. We're mining dry the high-priced onshore crumbs of a resource 60 million years in the making. Private correspondence from a sharp colleague in 2012: "The unique aspect of newly booked reserves from fractured reservoir is how quickly they disappear from the books: 60% to 90% reduction in the first 12 months. So for CHK to just maintain a zero proven reserve growth, they need to drill more wells during that period. Wall Street doesn’t tend to hype a stock that isn’t showing growth. So in addition to replacement wells, CHK has to drill even more wells to show reserve growth. But by drilling those additional wells, they then have to drill more replacement wells for those rapidly depleting wells within the following year." Check out Google Finance, set the chart to 10 years, and see what happened to CHK. If you recall, I mentioned that I wrote financial articles about oil exploration and production. For three months in 2010, my weekly column appeared opposite Paul Krugman in an Abu Dhabi business magazine, posted online in English and translated into Arabic for the print edition. They paid me 35 cents a word, which made it worthwhile to sit in a coffee shop and scribble something in longhand, then type it up and send it off. Here's an example of my penmanship that describes how oil and gas deals are often -- uh -- negotiated. Consider that our 4th, 5th, and 7th Fleets are ushering supertankers past adversaries and pirates to deliver oil to Japan, Korea, and Germany, who have none, zero, totally dependent on imports, and to North America from West Africa and Arabia. We're a net oil importer. EXXON'S $4 BILLION KOSMOS OFFER REJECTED In October of 2009, I noted ExxonMobil's offer to buy privately-held Kosmos Energy's 24% interest in Ghana's Jubilee oil field. Based on Tullow maps and well data, I deduced that Exxon was using a medium term $100 per barrel price model to determine how much to bid for the Kosmos stake. No surprise, it matched oil forecasts by T. Boone Pickens, Goldman Sachs, and former CIBC World Markets chief economist Jeff Rubin. Kosmos promptly accepted the Exxon bid, in a straightforward move to monetize their Jubilee asset. They were out of pocket less than $1 billion funded by Warburg Pincus and Blackstone Capital Partners. Exxon's $4 billion offer would give them a $3 billion profit and zero their risk of development and doing business in Ghana. Kosmos previously reduced their risk by farming out stakes to Anadarko and Tullow, who did the actual work of drilling and discovery. Clever little Dallas-based Kosmos had achieved what all E&P "minnows" hope to do -- get a license, bring in experienced operators, then flip it to a supermajor. Except the wheels fell off and Exxon's offer died. Who, why, and what killed the acquisition is a convoluted story. It starts at a racetrack in Dallas involving Texas politicians, a Federal class-action settlement, and a silly "monte carlo" statistical reserves head fake that propelled attorney James C. Musselman from obscurity to VIP status at a White House state dinner for Ghana's President John Agyekum Kufour. Musselman got his start in the oil business as an investor in Triton Energy. He became its CEO in 1998 when Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team and chairman of private equity firm Hicks Muse Tate & Furst bought a big speculative stake in troubled Triton Energy. Musselman's job was to pump up valuation and sell the company, which he succeeded in doing in 2001, after reporting an operating loss of $383 million. Hess paid a 50% premium to Triton shareholders to acquire the Ceiba field in Equatorial Guinea. Musselman and his team were deemed geniuses and briefly worked for Hess, until Hess had to declare a $530 million impairment charge and write down 70% of the Triton reserves they paid $3 billion to own. But that's not how it played in Ghana, nor in Dallas where Musselman and his ex-Triton team founded a new company, Kosmos Energy, in 2003. They were touted as West Africa experts with a new project negotiated by Craig S. Glick, who left Hunt Oil with insider knowledge of the West Cape Three Points block in Ghana. Hunt acquired 2D seismic data totalling 2,225 km and 264 square kilometres of 3D. They drilled and logged two deepwater wells. Those wells were immediately east of the future Jubilee discovery. When Hunt Oil quit Ghana in 2001, the story gets a little bizarre, clogged in multiple layers of state secrets. Before he became President of the United States, Gov. George W. Bush was co-owner of the Texas Rangers, which he sold to Hicks. After he left the White House, Bush bought a house in the exclusive Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, down the street from Musselman's $6 million mansion. It seems likely that they knew each other in 2003, when Bush met Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufour in Dakar and urged him to do business with a US partner. Two of Kufour's trusted associates laid the groundwork for a deal with Kosmos. Dr. Kwame Barwuah Edusei, a medical doctor practicing in Washington DC, and George Owusu, a self-styled Ghanaian oil broker living in Houston, formed a company called E-O, rather hilariously registered at a chicken farm near Accra. Kosmos and E-O entered into a written agreement signed by Edusei for E-O and Glick for Kosmos, covering future exploration, production and other revenue: Kosmos 86.5%, Ghana National Petroleum Company 10%, E-O 3.5%. The agreement stated that Kosmos would carry E-O and additionally pay them $250,000 upfront. Kufour appointed Edusei ambassador to Switzerland in August 2004 (to open a numbered account?) and later appointed him Ghana’s ambassador to the White House. Owusu became Kosmos Energy's Ghana representative. Owusu's Kosmos salary, perks and other graft may have totalled $2 million before he ran afoul of anti-corruption due diligence by Anadarko. President Kufour, after serving two four-year terms, had to step down in 2009. He and his cronies did everything possible to grease the wheels for Kosmos, Anadarko, and Tullow, signing off on low royalties, 100% off-loading for export, and token involvement of GNPC. President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush made a 3-day goodwill visit to Ghana in February 2008, meeting all 30 tribal chiefs, promising US development aid, and stumping for Kufour's New Patriotic Party, hoping to upstage and deflate perennial opposition presidential candidate John Atta Mills. In September 2008 there was a gala White House state dinner to honor President Kufour and Kosmos boss Jim Musselman. In Ghana, NPP newspapers and radio stations celebrated their fabulous new oil wealth, thanks to Kufour and Kosmos. All for naught. Social democrat and former national tax commissioner John Atta Mills was elected president of Ghana by a razor-thin majority, after an odd ballot re-run in a remote rural constituency. His first act in office was to appoint a special advisor on energy policy, Tsatsu Tsikata, long-serving patriarch of GNPC who was put in prison and tried for "causing financial loss to the state" when Kufour came to power in 2000. His trial lasted eight years and Tsikata was pronounced guilty, then pardoned when Mills won the 2009 presidential runoff. Tsikata flew to Houston and visited Anadarko to pick up their Foreign Corrupt Practices file on E-O and Kosmos Ghana. Then he flew to New York and retained Morgan Stanley as financial advisors. Next on the agenda was a $10 billion line of credit from China. George Owusu's and E-O's assets were seized and Kosmos put under investigation. In 2010, Tsikata flew to China six times, negotiating with CNOOC. When Kosmos Energy filed a request to sell its interest in Jubilee to Exxon, the new Ghana government's reaction was slow and comical. In due course, the Energy Ministry said, they would vet ExxonMobil and consider their suitability to partner a Ghanaian oil company. But we intend to produce Jubilee gas first, before oil production, because our country needs more electric generation, and we will be working with expert government engineers from Trinidad and Tobago (!) Your $4 billion Exxon deal is imaginary and illegal. The only buyer Kosmos Energy could talk to was Tsatsu Tsikata. -------------------------- One more item that I didn't write about, because it was exasperatingly tawdry. I had a big file of oil and gas frauds, involving billions bilked from investors in Canada, England, the U.S., and from China's state-owned flagships. A friend talked me out of publishing an article to shame the guilty, because I might be sued for defamation. The case of SEC v Gurgainers was typical of small scale shenanigans, and shows how common it is for pipsqueak oil and gas promoters to fail with other people's money. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, Plaintiff vs. STAR EXPLORATION, INC. JAMES T. GURGAINERS, Defendants and STAR GEORGETOWN 1 JOINT VENTURE STAR MINERAL ROYALTY 1-A, LP STAR MINERAL ROYALTY 1-B, LP STAR DISCOVERY, LP STAR HAMILTON 2 JOINT VENTURE LAGNIAPPE OIL & GAS LEASES, LLC STAR EXPLORATION LEASING, LLC DISCOVERY DRILLING, LLC DISCOVERY RIGS, LLC TERRA FERMA OPERATING, LLC STAR FINANCIAL INTERNATIONAL, LLP 1 AP.COM, INC., Relief Defendants STATUS REPORT BY THE RECEIVER $5,227 recovered from the bank accounts of the receivership entities $5,802 recovered from an insurance company as a return of unearned premium $35,000 recovered from the sale of James Gurgainers house in Alexandria, Louisiana (mortgage payments Mr. Gurgainers made on the house using investor funds) $15,000 recovered from the sale of a 2006 Chevrolet truck $10,000 recovered from the sale of two Sea Doos seized from Mr. Gurgainers house (the Sea Doos were purchased with investor funds) $12,729 recovered from the United States Treasury as a tax refund With limited resources in the receivership estate, the Receiver has made protection of the drilling rig, which is the most significant asset in the receivership estate, his top priority. As a result, to date the Receiver used $30,746 of the monies recovered to pay for insurance on the drilling rig and $5,000 of the monies recovered to pay for security of the rig. -------------------------- You know what's worse? W&T Offshore was one of the very best, most diligent, careful and successful operators using jack-up rigs in shallow water near the Gulf coast. A contractor on one of their rigs saw a little accidental spill of 10 barrels while drilling. He filed suit and threw W&T into the jaws of regulators, because "whistleblowers" get paid big money in civil suits, often millions, depending on how deep the victim's pockets are. It crippled W&T for a minor incident that a busy drilling crew failed to report instantly to the Feds. They had other things to do, with a couple thousand feet of pipe in a high pressure formation that kicked twice. Something else to think about. The world didn't begin 60 million years ago, nor was North America always where we are accustomed to locating it on a world map. It was part of an equatorial supercontinent, joined with Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa -- one giant blob called "Gondwana." When I moved to Missouri, we pushed dirt around to build a house and discovered a snow white sandstone layer -- beach sand that was 400 million years old. Sea levels have changed many times in Earth's geologic history, and shales were repeatedly buried and cooked. There's a shale in Australia that's three billion years old. I mention it to conclude that our best bet for oil in the future is ANWR and coastal California. There's not much future in fracking progressively thinner, less productive Great Basin shales. I wouldn't be shocked if the U.S. decided it would be easier to invade Venezuela than risk holy hell in groovy Monterey or happy smiley Santa Barbara. Sad situation. The U.S. was the world's #1 conventional oil producer before and after World War II, enabled us to build tens of thousands of ships and aircraft, to mobilize and transport millions of U.S. troops around the world, equipped with heavy weapons, fuel, and food. In 2003, we had to ask Germany and Japan to help pay for the Iraq War. America had joined the ranks of "oil beggars." There's an old rig offshore Huntington Beach and, believe it or not, an onshore rig covered in tin to disguise it, in Beverly Hills. Together they produce 500 barrels a day, with a 94% "water cut," producing more formation water than oil. New horizontal shale wells in Texas share the same fate -- except they cost more and decline a lot faster than conventional straight holes. Ain't nobody drilling shale to frack it anywhere on this map of known global oil. .
  3. Oh. Victor Hugo didn't have a typewriter. Ayn Rand didn't have a computer to edit on the fly. Both used pen and ink, which I think partly explains their style.
  4. Bartenders should not attempt to lecture anyone about oil. I've heard Sean Hannity shout it at least a hundred times, that America is energy independent! We have more oil and gas than any other country in the world! We can push Putin into bankruptcy by exporting U.S. oil and gas to our allies in Western Europe! Jeez. Item One. Domestic production of conventional crude has been in slow decline since 2005. Horizontal shale fracturing in North Dakota is not a profitable business at $50 a barrel. We do not have the world's largest oil reserves. Not second, third, fourth -- or even tenth largest. It would be nice to drill offshore California, but that's politically verboten. We import oil from Canada, Arabia, and (oops) Venezuela. America is not the world's largest producer. We're the largest consumer, over 20 million barrels a day, about 1/4 of all worldwide oil production. Item Two. Natural gas is not oil. Same situation. U.S. conventional production is in decline. Horizontal gas fracturing is upside down financially, roughly $100 billion in debt. Most of the sweet spots have been drilled and exhausted, with the exception of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. New York and California banned shale drilling. World class conventional gas reserves are in Siberia and offshore Persian Gulf (shared 50/50 by Qatar and Iran). Item Three. France, Germany, and Britain are not allies. They are beggars, no oil or gas in the ground. Britain drilled the North Sea to death, depends on Holland for natural gas, and was forced to import LNG from Qatar in frozen winter, when the Dutch pipeline failed. Norway is exploring their northern Arctic shelf for a reason. Europe is screwed, after exhausting all the low-hanging fruit. European oil leases in Africa have always have been difficult to produce. Corruption, crime, and tribal wars are constant threats. Drilling rigs have been attacked. Item Four. The price of oil is rising because Venezuela and Libya have been destroyed, plus U.S. sanctions against Iranian exports. When the price of oil goes up, demand goes down. We stop driving. No fancy dinners out. We make decisions like that as individual citizens in a free society. Others are less free. Japan and South Korea have no oil or gas, totally dependent on imports. 600 million people in Europe and the Far East are supplied by a fleet of supertankers from Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Our 4th, 5th, and 7th Fleets usher Middle East supertankers through the threats and guns of adversaries and pirates. The world's grisliest conflicts including both World Wars were fought over oil. Item Five. The one and only U.S. energy resource worth talking about is coal. If our future is firetrap electric cars, then coal-fired power plants are the only hope of affordable electricity generation. Wind and solar are subsidized show pieces that require costly maintenance and replacement of unreliable parts made in China. However, abundant coal power is not a full solution to our energy needs. We have a huge fleet of diesel tractors, harvesters, bulldozers, dump trucks, and big rigs that are NOT going to work with batteries. Commercial passenger aircraft need jet fuel, and our military is the largest consumer of refined products on Earth. Bunker fuel powers oceangoing container trade, tankers, tug boats and barges. Every pump, engine, elevator, and axle needs lubricants. Poor Hannity, a big oaf who can't dance and needs a radio script and staff to function at all. Sean could be right about oil -- we could ship supplies to Europe -- if we suffer severe global warming, no need for winter heat, and a ban on all air travel, mining, beef cattle, road traffic, and industrial production. That's not going to happen. Solar Cycle 24 has been quiescent and the trend is tilting toward global cooling again, just like the 1970s, when Royal Dutch Shell funded East Anglia's Climate Centre to study the dire threat of everybody freezing to death, because global oil and gas reserves were small. They still are. We've already consumed half of the world's proved oil endowment. Cars are more fuel efficient today, particularly hybrids. Governments wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on "renewables" and mass transport, especially in oil-starved Western Europe and Japan. Adequate U.S. electricity in the future can be generated by cheap, abundant coal. It's not rocket science to scrub emissions squeaky clean and make inert construction materials from ash. We'll need it to deal with mountains of nuclear and biohazard waste. Poland has big coal reserves to keep shivering Brits and Krauts warm in winter. The only thing goofier than Sean Hannity posing as an oil analyst is the BBC. Last night, they broadcast a program on "Saving The World" by refilling empty shampoo bottles, plastic water bottles, fizzy drink bottles, etc. Screwballs in England are carrying empty plastic bottles to a guru with 25-liter tubs of generic shampoo and dishwashing liquid. Evangelists are pitching UK retail chains to install nonexistent vending machines that would dispense name brand products to refill empty plastic bottles. Messy aisles in the grocery store. Consumer product companies would have to cooperate to supply uniformly shaped bulk competitive brands for a monster vending machine, to be designed, built, and serviced by somebody (?) as a public service. Shredding and recycling plastic bottles isn't good enough for BBC. Meanwhile, little Greta from Norway told cheering crowds in London that the world will end unless governments shut down oil production. She's leading a global boycott of education. I grieve for the folly of true believers in climate change. It's an article of faith at BBC that we have to abandon internal combustion engines, kill coal and liquid fuels, walk to work or use an electric scooter in winter, in a thunderstorm, or on a blazing hot summer day, no way to carry groceries and jugs of milk home to feed a family of five. Silly me. Plastic bags and jugs will be outlawed, no refrigeration at home or in the store, no air conditioning, no big rigs to stock a dimly-lit WalMart, no dairy or meat, no mechanized agriculture. Childbirth will be dangerous, medical care filthy, and surgery a rigged dice roll without one-time-use plastics. No utility pumps to push water over the mountains in the California Aqueduct. No sewage treatment or garbage trucks. No fire engines, buses, or digital server farms. That's what solar power implies. A couple of LED lamps at night while you charge your electric scooter. Mistakes of this size are not made innocently, as Miss Rand used to say. The only difference between an industrial society and savages squatting in mud huts is a portfolio of high voltage power distribution, heavy equipment, and widely available refined petroleum products. Whether it's Sean Hannity or Greta Thunberg or the IPCC climate change fakirs, none of them know what it takes to successfully explore for, discover, engineer, lift, separate, transport, refine, and deliver a gallon of diesel, gasoline, engine oil, or cubic foot of natural gas. The "Oil Patch" is a vast pyramid with academic centers of excellence like Texas A&M, Colorado School of Mines, and UT, tens of thousands of geophysicists, geologists, reservoir engineers, seismic processors, software developers, oilfield tool designers, rig manufacturers, semi-submersible deepwater platforms with GPS positioning thrusters and service boats, highly skilled "toolpushers" and drillers, welders, helicopter pilots, safety managers, executives, and lawyers to deal with an infinity of permits, state and Federal reports, and SEC filings. And worse, 80% of all proved oil and gas reserves are owned and operated by Third World "national oil companies" -- hissing snakepits of hereditary princes, bureaucrats, and thieves. They hire contractors and oil service companies to do the actual work of production, field development, reservoir management, secondary recovery (water injection) and processing. Major international oil companies like Exxon, Chevron, BP, and Shell compete against each other to exploit 20% of global reserves. Russian oil companies offered joint ventures and raped all four of the aforementioned majors. The same thing happened historically in Iran, Mexico, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia. US-UK brains discovered oil. It got expropriated. All this financial pain and toil and risk is so you can have a car, a fleet of 18-wheelers, bumper crops in farmers' fields, oceangoing trade, tens of thousands of scheduled passenger flights, and stupid shit on TV, backed by a million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines equipped to defend you with missiles, carrier battle groups, stealth fighters, bombers, and artillery. To hell with the Green New Deal or whatever else the politicians cook up. Vote for rational self-interest and a prosperous industrial society that the men and women of "Big Oil" make possible. They are your neighbors and benefactors, many of whom work for small companies called "independents," over 18,000 of them operating in 32 U.S. states, drilling 94% of U.S. oil and gas wells, responsible for direct and indirect employment of four million workers. Another six million Americans work for international majors and the oil service companies operating offshore in deep water, in overseas deserts and jungles, U.S. ports and refineries, storage facilities, pipelines, specialist steel tube producers, and dependable distribution of diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, heating oil, natural gas and LPG delivered to every city and village, every factory, farm, shop, and construction site, every school and university from coast to coast. You open the refrigerator door, adjust your thermostat for comfort, eat well, drive to work, board an airplane, check into a hospital when necessary, confident that you, your wife and children will survive and thrive, because American oil companies fuel prosperity and highly mobile emergency first responders. Forget about Europe, Sean, unless you plan to move there, which you won't. .
  5. I think the early church was mystical, until it came to Aquinas. I read his two volume restatement of Aritotle's logic and thought about his defense of transubstantiation, that God could switch the "essence" of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, leaving the "accidents" of visible bread and visible wine unchanged, which echoed Aristotle's epistemology. I concluded that we all make tiny little mistakes. Rand fixed the problem with her Conceptual Common Denominator, etc. Always nice to chat with you, my friend. What I really think is that Miss Rand was primarily a dramatist.
  6. Oh. Theme controls what I do. Not uncomfortable with any topic. Hard to imagine Hugo (and Rand) using pen and ink.
  7. A recent passage from my blog... Baffles me how anyone can believe the absurdity of immaculate conception and virgin birth, resurrection of a dead man, and immortality bestowed by faith.
  8. Yikes. You realize, I hope, that Hugo's theme in "Notre Dame" was fatality (fate).
  9. I regard morality to be a personal question, inquiring What shall I do? There are numerous ethical guidelines, ancient and newly minted, but I'm a little stupid, so I'll stick to the Objectivist canon, i.e., rational self-interest. At the moment, I need to earn money for ordinary survival stuff like food, medicine, and payment of current obligations. It would be nice to hand my daughter money for college. Simple yardstick of right and good. But let's suppose I strike it rich, which is to say discretionary funds sufficient to let me choose how I might like to live out my remaining days. I had a long road trip to the Left Coast while I still had credit cards to burn, and I don't want to go back to California. I don't even want to go to Elko again, however much I like Elko. Long drive through Kansas, Colorado, and Utah. Nor am I convinced that I should tour Milwaukee, witness the wreckage and pine for the past. I don't want to reboot Central America. Don't want to fly to Australia. I lived in Europe several times, know it from end to end and top to bottom. I'd rather not rub elbows with the migrant hordes from hell. Three months in Libya was enough hell to last me two or three lifetimes. Alaska scares me (the cold goes right through me) but it's the right move to make. I'm famous in Fairbanks, and there's a Libertarian Party in Anchorage. Maybe a quick visit in summer, if Alaska has a summer. Okay, on the bucket list, toward the end, weather permitting. A stubborn mystery, something I'd like to do for my own sake. Visit Linda? - no. I'm old and ugly and embarrassed. Attend a writer's conference? - eeeuw. If I had any moral courage, I'd find Ali Massoud. Bucket list item equal to Alaska. Both are a call of duty owed to good men, not something to please myself or remove the burden of a personal ache. So. Where would I like to go? What would I like to do? I made a list of colleges to visit. Drake University, Des Moines. Newman University, Wichita. Hood College, Frederick MD. Defiance College, Ohio. PSU Allegheny Campus, McKeesport. Of all the attractions in the world, it would be thrilling to find a home in a rational world. If it's a leisurely road trip, I can take the dog with me. He likes to ride in cars, jumps right in. Of necessity, all my endeavors will be short. A seminar or two, no possibility of putting down roots. One does not launch a new career at age 70. Hard to accept the fate of health problems and failing competence. That's why I'd like to lecture while I can. I have a lot to say about the future. It's a great temptation to teach a course on filmmaking, but it seems pointless to start something destined to end quickly, a year or two at most, and to what end? The world is full of filmed entertainment, including hundreds of Golden Age movies and thousands of classic TV hours. Kojak and Columbo. The Muppet Show. Hill Street Blues. Get Smart. There's an iron ceiling I should consider. I have very few remaining years to spend. I need to lecture on liberty and justice, foundational American principles under grievous assault. It's a matter of personal honor to stand up for my body of work. Rats. I have to go to Alaska and agitate for secession. Whenever possible, I'll honor Ali in my public statements, hope that he hears it. Bad idea to risk my neck searching Detroit to thank him in person. There are others I'd like to thank and can't. We don't get everything we want in life. Top priority is to promote common law justice and common law liberty, inspire younger people to carry on when I'm gone. www.wolfdevoon.net .
  10. Nice scholarship, of course, but I question the practice of triangulating a story. Snyder always annoyed me. I'm a "discovery" author. There's an outline subject to change, which it often does, because dramatic necessity flows from moments that are impossible to script in advance and which force characters and subsequent tensions and resolutions to shift. Compare 'The Easiest Thing In The World.' If I had to name the first principle of successful writing, I'd say crank out the right stuff at the right time with a network to plug it, publish it, and sell the film rights, not unlike Ayn Rand in her day, but more importantly Rowling's captive bombardment of middle grade classrooms via Scholastic and Suzanne Collins' tween blockbuster franchise Hunger Games topping Harry Potter. I can't count the number of 'help wanted' posts on Upwork seeking ghostwriters to do LGBTQ pulp novels for hire.
  11. http://www.lulu.com/shop/wolf-devoon/cocktail/paperback/product-24014364.html
  12. coming attraction, hosted by a friend, $10 a year, www.wolfdevoon.net
  13. The Executive Branch text (free pdf) http://www.lulu.com/shop/wolf-devoon/the-executive-branch/ebook/product-23893023.html The Executive Power (video lecture) https://vimeo.com/299712339
  14. What is it with conservative talk radio hosts? -- such knuckleheads that they feel compelled to use a conjunction after the word freedom when they say liberty immediately after it, as if "freedom and liberty" were two separate constitutional objects, which neither of them was. The U.S. Constitution was a charter of power, and not a word of it was written by Alexander Hamilton, dipshits. He proposed monarchy and won little support, so he left the convention after a single week of attendance. The other delegates from New York said that they had no authority to discuss a national government, only to perhaps consider amendments to the Articles of Confederation, so they quit the secret Philadelphia assembly, too. Where did you get the idea that the Constitution was an "inspired" work of legal or political thinking? It was the result of an endless, shameless, mean-spirited, selfish division among Large States and Small States and Free States and Slave States who fought each other for two months, refusing to agree on anything, except a monstrous claptrap that no one wanted to sign until Ben Franklin urged that this ugly baby was their only hope of salvation, a cobbled compromise among 13 bankrupt competitors who were taxing each other as if they were 13 foreign countries. The produce of agricultural New Jersey was compared to a keg tapped at both ends, taxed by Pennsylvania and New York. Those few who spoke of equality and liberty were kneecapped. Either slavery remained legal, or there would be no constitution of any kind. We have a Senate because Slave States and Small States demanded it, refusing to yield to democracy or a republic based on population. The Massachusetts crew in were corrupt politicians, angling for power. Elbridge Gerry was the father of "gerry-mandering," arguing that state legislators had to retain the privilege of feathering their own nests. The Rhode Island delegates were imbeciles, determined to block passage of anything. Counting slaves as 3/5 of a person for the purpose of apportioning representation in Congress was pure payola to entice the Slave States to ratify, doubling the number of seats they would hold in the lower house, a permanent lock on Federal legislation. Ending the importation of slaves was fine. They were breeding them like rabbits, didn't need to import any more, provided that the Crown Lands were stripped from Pennsylvania, who claimed the frontier Ohio Valley. Any new frontier states would be created in pairs, a new slave state for each free one. Want to know the truth? -- the damn Constitution was a recipe for Civil War -- all the silly anonymous hoopla by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay notwithstanding. The Anti-Federalists in Massachusetts and New York made equally good arguments, and Patrick Henry of Virginia was foursquare against ratification. No one expected the new Constitution to survive more than a few decades, and Jefferson predicted another revolution in twenty years or so. Don't even get me started on the Bill of Rights, which inverted the notion of enumerated, specific powers, opening the way to Hamilton's doctrine of "implied powers" and a measly rump of "preferred freedoms" that gave FDR a wink and a nod to regulate every aspect of commerce and use of private property. The only rights remaining are affirmative action in hiring and college admissions, NFL tantrums, throwing rocks at cops, ridiculing President Trump, humiliating Kavanaugh, and gay love as sacrosanct free expression. Take a look at your wallet, chump. See what is says on your one dollar bill that used to be worth ten times more in purchasing power? It says Federal Reserve Note, an IOU with absolutely nada backing it. There's your "originalist" freedom and liberty, an explicit Article I power to coin money and determine the value thereof, no different than the power to levy trade tariffs, the Federal government's sole source of revenue at its inception and specific cause of the Civil War, wiping out five years of national income and 600,000 true believers in justice, led by officers and gentlemen who dispossessed and waged war on Indians. Mark Levin a constitutional scholar? Hahahahahaha. p.s. - a new video on The Executive Power
  15. I've recorded a series of video lectures to express my ideas about government, the rule of law in a free society, self defense, and aspects of family life. The material is presented as concisely as possible. It's an opportunity to meet me in an intimate setting and to consider whether it makes sense to explore my novels and nonfiction books. I do not expect to do more video. This is it, a lifetime of creative thought. More than once I have wondered whether my ideas will do more harm than good, if widely accepted. In the past, I answered that question by saying that the American Revolutionary War of Independence was perceived as painful by most people. Thomas Paine ridiculed and damned Philadelphia's wealthy Quakers who refused to fight, remained loyal to England, didn't contribute a farthing to advance liberty. I would much prefer to devolve and dissolve the government incrementally, selling off its assets in reverse value, the worst junk first, leaving open the matter of military power to be considered in fine detail, although I would argue for immediate auction of overseas bases. The sensible ancap goal is defense of the United States, to be determined and provisioned by a consortium of commercial enterprises. The videos explain why. https://vimeo.com/user66655576