Rule Five Friday

2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (1)Let’s talk about energy, as though you might need an additional boost to go along with the refueling aspect of the Rule Five Friday totty.  The young lady pictured here has no connection to the story and to our knowledge is not connected with the energy industry in any way; her appearance here is purely gratuitous.

But who does have a connection to the energy industry in the U.S. today?  Harold Hamm does, and Forbes has his story.  Excerpt:

Two Scotches in, with seats on the floor of Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy CHK -2.7% Arena, Harold Hamm is feeling good. And why not? His hometown Thunder is spending the evening whupping the Philadelphia 76ers. Earlier Hamm announced big bonuses for 2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (2)Continental Resources CLR +0.04% employees, courtesy of record oil production. And a judge’s ruling, revealed that morning, in Hamm’s divorce case suggested the energy tycoon would keep the Continental shares he already owned when he married soon-to-be-ex Sue Ann Hamm 26 years ago. With that chunk of stock, encompassing about $16 billion out of his $16.9 billion fortune, Hamm owns 70% of Continental.

As every wildcatter knows, such is life in the oil patch when you’re on a hot streak. And Hamm’s on perhaps the most epic one in domestic energy history, perhaps save for John D. Rockefeller’s. No one, aside from kings, dictators and post-Soviet kleptocrats, personally owns more black gold–Continental has proved reserves of 1 billion barrels, mostly locked underneath North Dakota. Hamm took the company public in 2007–and shares are up 600% since, as the revolution in horizontal drilling has given America a cheap energy 2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (3)booster shot, fueling factories, keeping a lid on gas prices and adding millions of jobs.

Of course, there are many more barrels locked up under public lands, where our supposed employees in the Imperial City refuse to allow drilling.  But that’s another story.

Hamm seems a character straight out of an Ayn Rand novel; driven, innovative, passionate about his line of work.  He started in the industry at the age of 16, pumping gas in a service station; now he controls more oil than anyone outside of the Middle East.  A pioneer of horizontal drilling, he now has realized a net worth of $16.9 billion- and he’s earned every penny of it.

Why is a man like this not held up as a national hero?  A man to be admired and emulated?  Because he had a single-minded drive to 2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (4)success?  Because he succeeded on his own merits, realized the rewards of hard work and enormous risks?

The Forbes article concludes:

Hubris–almost inevitable when you own 70% of a company–is also a concern. America’s richest oil baron has been catching flak recently for what appears to be self-dealing, including a $340 million purchase by Continental of another North Dakota oil company he co-owned and a five-year, $100 million contract Continental signed with a pipeline firm owned by Hamm and his family. (Hamm says both deals passed muster with the board and will boost Continental’s performance.)

But such headaches will prove ephemeral if Hamm wins his bet and delivers on his promise of unlimited oil and gas. Such results would surely make Hamm one of the 20 richest people in the world. And just as surely 2014_05_16_Rule Five Friday (5)reshape America in the process.

And he will probably be reviled for greed, instead of admired as a uniquely American success story.  Why?

Who is John Galt?

Hamm’s work has the potential to completely reshape the American economy for the better.  He has created thousands, maybe tens of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly.  He has made energy in the form of everything from gasoline to heating oil more abundant and therefore cheaper.  He’s a man worthy of admiration.

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Animal’s Daily News

Leaping Wet BearSome random notes this morning:

Marriage:  It’s Complicated.  No shit.  Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have been wed 22 years later this month.  As of last March our own AnimalMom and the Old Man have passed 67 years of wedded bliss.  Ask any of us, and with the perspective of long, happy marriages we’ll still all say “oh, hell yeah, it’s complicated.”

Mike McCurry Thinks Hillary Won’t Run.  Personally I don’t think Mrs. Clinton is half the candidate many in her party seem to think she’d be.  She’s carrying a lot of baggage – Benghazi, for one, is her baby; she was in charge, she owns it, and if anyone in the GOP has any brains (not something I’d be willing to bet on) they’ll hang it around her neck like a millstone.  She’s not half the politician her husband is, and that’s a fact.

Only 4% of Americans think their intelligence is below average.  Uh huh.

What is college is making people stupid?  Well, 96% of them will think they’re smart.  They be edumacated, after all.

Thoughtful-BearThen again, maybe young folks don’t need college.  Here are 16 great jobs that don’t require a 4-year degree.  The idea that every youth needs to go to college is a canard; the great failure of our education system nowadays is neglect of the trades.  Carpenters, pipefitters, mechanics and so forth can make a great living and they are honest, honorable trades – we need these people, and should encourage young folks to pursue those lines of work.

On that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Animal’s Hump Day News

2014_05_14_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

A couple of interesting Mittwoch tidbits from the folks at Reason.com this morning.  First up:  U.S. Customs Seize Kentucky-Bound Hemp Seeds.  Not marijuana – hemp.  Excerpt:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have seized a batch of hemp seeds heading from Italy to Kentucky’s Agriculture Department. As of earlier this year, cultivating hemp—a type of cannabis plant related to marijuana in form but not function—is no longer illegal in the United States, ending a hysterical, decades-long ban on growing this totally non-psychoactive plant. But apparently no one bothered to tell customs?

Of course nobody bothered to tell Customs – or perhaps Customs knew and just didn’t care.

What the hell was the problem with hemp, anyway?  Marijuana at least is an intoxicant – although it’s unclear, at least to yr. obdt., why alcohol is legal and marijuana isn’t.  But let’s set that aside for now, and focus on hemp.

My grandfather grew hemp during the First and Second World Wars, and somehow nobody was driven into a cannabis-fueled frenzy.  Hemp has a wide variety of industrial uses, from rope to cloth to paper to biofuels.  But because of it’s relation to marijuana – or more accurately marijuana being a type of hemp – the Imperial Federal government has decided to disallow it’s growth in the U.S.?

Someone explain why that makes any sense.

ThisBig-BearThe second tidbit from Reason is more lighthearted:  Are Video Games Art?   Being a casual gamer myself, and having played games like Skyrim and it’s MMO successor The Elder Scrolls Online, I’d say yes, sure – there is an enormous amount of graphic and literary creativity that goes into these works.  It’s one bright spot in American productivity right now – video games are making their creators a lot of money, and they’ve earned all of it.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearThanks once again to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Take a look at the Fraser Institute’s (A Canadian free-market think tank) report on the economic freedoms enjoyed in North America.  Here’s the money quote:

One of the common criticisms of capitalism is that it allegedly increases income inequality. There is a growing body of literature at the country level that shows otherwise. There has been some state-level work as well. Ashby and Sobel (2008) examined income inequality. They found that both the level and growth of income in the lowest income quintile was positively associated with the growth in economic freedom. They found similar results for the middle quintile and the highest income quintile, but in the latter group only income growth (not income level) was statistically significant. They also found that the growth of economic freedom was negatively associated with the ratio of the highest income quintile’s income share to the lowest income quintile’s income share, meaning that increased freedom was associated with less income inequality.

Read the whole thing – it’s rather disturbing in that the United States is now well behind Canada in term of economic freedom.  (At least one prescient author/philosopher saw this coming many years ago.)

The report speaks to several fallacies of income inequality, while yr. obdt. denies that income inequality is anything but a problem, but is rather an inevitable fact of human existence; what matters is overall standard of living, which is still very high in the U.S. – although it’s slipping.

How have we come to this pass?  Why is this happening?  What has happened to our country?  Who is John Galt?

 

Goodbye, Blue Monday

2014_05_12_Goodbye Blue Monday
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Another long day of travel yesterday, with a late night and an early morning today.  There are occasions in this line of work when I have reason to doubt my own sanity.

Here’s an interesting tidbit from Mark Steyn, wherein he advocates a new “hashtag” (I had to look that up) #bringbackourballs.  Excerpt:

It is hard not to have total contempt for a political culture that thinks the picture at right (Michelle Obama holding up a sign stating “#Bring Back Our Girls”)  is a useful contribution to rescuing 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by jihadist savages in Nigeria. Yet some pajama boy at the White House evidently felt getting the First Lady to pose with this week’s Hashtag of Western Impotence would reflect well upon the Administration. The horrible thing is they may be right: Michelle showed she cared – on social media! – and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

Just as the last floppo hashtag, #WeStandWithUkraine, didn’t actually involve standing with Ukraine, so #BringBackOurGirls doesn’t require bringing back our girls. There are only a half-dozen special forces around the planet capable of doing that without getting most or all of the hostages killed: the British, the French, the Americans, Israelis, Germans, Aussies, maybe a couple of others. So, unless something of that nature is being lined up, those schoolgirls are headed into slavery, and the wretched pleading passivity of Mrs Obama’s hashtag is just a form of Shy Bearmoral preening.

The problem isn’t moral preening, although this administration has done plenty of that.  The problem is America’s seeming impotence in the face of vicious, aggressive Islamic savagery.  Boko Haram took these girls, who are almost certainly irretrievably lost into slavery or worse, because they knew neither America nor any other developed Western nation would do anything about it.

The proper response by the Western world would be to hunt these savages down like animals and kill them, but that won’t happen.

And Boko Haram knows that.

Rule Five Friday

2014_05_09_Rule Five Friday (1)Well, it was bound to happen:  Florida Man Demands Right to Marry Computer.  Excerpt:

Chris Sevier, a man from Florida, believes he should be allowed to wed his Macbook.

Mr Sevier argues that if gays should be allowed to marry, then so should other sexual minorities.

Mr Sevier states he has fallen in love with a pornography laden computer.

2014_05_09_Rule Five Friday (2)“Over time, I began preferring sex with my computer over sex with real women,” he told a court in Florida.

This appears to be not a passing holiday romance, but a lifelong commitment.

If gays have the right to “marry their object of sexual desire, even if they lack corresponding sexual parts, then I should have the right to marry my preferred sexual object”, he said.

Well then.

I’ve made my stance on social issues (including marriage) very plain in the past, and will do so again here:  I don’t give a damn what people do, as long as they leave me alone.  With that said, I am of the considered opinion – considered again after reading about the nutbar Chris Sevier – that marriage, to avoid becoming a complete farce, should be limited to consenting human adults.

2014_05_09_Rule Five Friday (3)No matter how societal attitudes towards marriage have changed, it is still universally seen as a statement of deep commitment, entered into freely and willingly (at least in Western countries) by consenting, competent adults.  It’s not, as Mr. Sevier so fatuously complains, just an attachment “to their object of sexual desire.”

So is it “intolerant” to think that it’s appropriate to keep it within the species?

Actually, I suspect Mr. Sevier is attempting some sort of a stunt.   What point he is trying to make escapes us for the moment, but this 2014_05_09_Rule Five Friday (4)doesn’t appear to be a serious person with a serious issue.

On the other end of the tolerance spectrum we have our “allies,” the Saudis; in the Kingdom the founder of a “Saudi Liberals” web site has been sentenced to 10 years in jail, a thousand lashes and fined one million riyals.  Why?  Read for yourself:

His website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, according to Human Rights Watch.

2014_05_09_Rule Five Friday (5)Mind you this is country that does not permit women to vote, drive, or leave their homes without a male relative as an escort.  Raif Badawi, the webmaster in question, originally also faced charges of apostasy – a crime that carries the death penalty in the Kingdom.

Civilized people do not conduct the business of state in this manner; but then, civilization has always been in short supply in this part of the world, at least for the last thousand years or so.

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Animal’s Daily News

Leaping Wet BearNo single issue jumps off the screen at me today, so here are some random tidbits and observations on the passing scene on this fine Thor’s Day.

Harry Reid, utterly predictable:  Every time he opens his mouth, something stupid comes out.  Seriously, Nevada, what the hell?

Putin Backs Off.  He’s up to something.  This guy was a KGB Colonel and would love nothing more than to see the glory days of the Soviet Union come back, and everything he does is calculated to the inch.  He’s figured out some way to get what he wants.

Check Your Usage of “Check Your Privilege.”  Seriously, what is this privilege I keep hearing about?  What did being white get me?  My Old Man was a farmer, later a middle-management type for John Deere – far from a rich guy.  I went to college on the G.I. Bill.  I started several businesses that failed and had a piece of one that sold before I hit on the one I still run today, a one-man consulting operation.  I’m not in the 1% but I sure as hell am in the 10%, and nobody gave me Angry-Bearshit – I worked for every last damn dime of it, and wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for taking some serious risks along the way.  So where did the big advantage of my Scots/Irish/English/German ancestry come in?

Why the hell do people insist on defining folks in groups?  Everyone is an individual, unique in and of themselves, with a host of unique traits and attributes, skills, talents and abilities.  “Race,” to a biologist, is an utterly meaningless construct.  And yet people are goddamn obsessed with it.

Moving on:  Is America’s Air Force Dying?  No – it’s being starved to death.

And, more good news:  Everyone will have armed drones in ten years.  Well, that’s encouraging.

On that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.