November 4th, 2014

#4442: Ahh, to hell with it.

I had a good post written about Lena Dunham and the foofooraw over her memoir, and a mis-click shitcanned the whole thing. I closed the barn door after the horses got out (removed the bookmark bar from Pale Moon so that I can't click on the link to the utterly fucking useless Pale Moon release notes again) but LiveJournal did not see fit to autosave the draft, so it's gone.

I don't want to wade into the muck and mire of the story to re-create what I wrote, so I am merely going to continue on where I was, and pretend the rest of it didn't happen.

* * *

Ace puts up a post of three harsh critiques of the Obama administration.

The last one mentions that he's registered Democrat who "votes independent". That's code for "I choose to vote Democrat in every election, which is what makes me independent. I always pick who I think is the best candidate. I'm not like those Rethuglikkkan zombies who vote how they're told and vote straight party ticket!"

This time, however, he's voting Republican because he wants to send Democrats a message, and that's just fine; he is allowed to vote however his conscience dictates, and if his conscience dictates that six years of pure Democrat rule has fucked things up, the conclusion seems obvious. "If Dems keep the Senate," he says, "the election will further entrench a corrupt government and further erode America's strength and influence."

Except that even changing leadership of Congress won't fix anything. The GOP has as much interest vested in status quo as the Democrats; though they differ on a few specifics, by and large GOP=Democrat=Government Party, and we're stuck with this horseshit.

I must go vote myself once this post is done. I'm doing it more for the local elections than the national, but I'll do my part--fat lot of good it does me.

* * *

Karl Denninger makes an interesting observation about the price of oil.

"Despite all the screaming from various quarters about how Saudi Arabia's big producer, Aramco, simply could not produce more oil and therefore price was a simple matter of declining supply into robust demand," he says, "uh.... Yeah, pull the other one."

The last sentence of that quote is a link to an article titled "U.S. crude oil sinks to two-year low as Saudi Arabia cuts prices".

See, Saudi Arabia can produce more oil, and has been able to do so all along. They merely have not because they understand the basic laws of supply and demand: rising demand and a fixed supply means higher prices and of course anyone who is selling anything wants to get as much money as he can for it.

But of course when prices rise, other actors will try to get into the market because there's so much money flowing around, which is why all pricing is a balancing act: you don't want to set your prices too high, because that limits demand and encourages competition. You don't want to set them too low, because you want to maximize profit. But when you have a strong position you can forego high profits by lowering your prices until your competition is bankrupt, at which point you then dictate market price.

This is why OPEC was formed, and this is why there was a price shock in the 1970s.

Saudi Arabia understands that the shale oil boom in the US is bad news for them, because it means we could (potentially) stop buying their oil. They therefore have decided that keeping the taps open into softening demand--thus lowering the world price of oil--is in their best long term interests. Flood the world market with oil and drop the price into the basement, thus making it economically impossible to produce shale oil...and once the shale oil producers go out of business and they're no longer producing, raise the price again.

But people who advocate the theory of "peak oil"--which is to say, that the salad days of the 1980s were when oil was the cheapest it will ever be, and from now on oil production must decline due to diminishing reserves--claim that Saudi Arabia's decision to place an artificial limit on their production of oil was in fact a physical limitation, and that simply is not so. Saudi Arabia merely found it expedient to allow people to believe that they could not produce more--such beliefs, in the marketplace, will naturally force oil prices higher--so they would not labor to disabuse anone of such beliefs.

Denninger adds:
Saudi Arabia is doing what cartels do -- they're playing with the price on the market by selling at whatever price is advantageous to them, and meeting the demand that shows up at that price. Demand that, incidentally, many have said they can't meet -- a claim that has now been proved to be obviously (and outrageously) incorrect.
The problem with the price of oil in the world is not that we are running out, because we're not. It is entirely political.

We could, in fact, hurt Saudi Arabia a lot worse than they're hurting us simply by changing the rules for imported oil. Add a tariff, for example. Look: our government spends lots of money on supporting the prices of sugar and milk; why couldn't we offset that by taxing oil imports? If the government were to tax oil imports such that it never costs less than about $85 a barrel to import the stuff, our domestic producers could make money hand over fist at that price. The price of gasoline would remain relatively stable around $3 a gallon (though we would need more domestic refining capacity) and as a bonus we'd stop sending all that money to the middle east.

Gas doesn't get any cheaper than it is now under that plan, no--but we keep more of our money here, and we stop enriching people who hate us. More importantly oil prices will be stable and we can expect a robust energy economy well into the future.

Getting government out of the way of energy production would be a big plus, too. I have to wonder how much of that $73 per barrel production cost comes from government regulations.

* * *

John C. Wright answers a comment in the comment thread of his short story Queen of the Tyrant Lizards, discussing Heinlein's later works:
Heinlein has his Future History stories, that are rock solid hard SF; then he has his juveniles, which are good, and at times great; and then he has his seniles, which are self indulgent rubbish after he was too big to edit.

***

...Of what he wrote after [Stranger in a Strange Land], I think only Glory Road worth reading, and that only if you make allowances for his sexual libertarianism and scoffing at normal norms.

Number of the Beast was his taking a huge swan dive into self indulgence, writing a fan fic about his own fiction. It was as if he had given up on the Final Frontier.
Working on the basement, I came across another box of books of mine, and this one was full of hardcovers--political nonfiction from the early 1990s (about as useful now to me as the 7400 series logic sourcebook I got about the same time) and SF, mainly Heinlein's later works.

As Wright puts it, the "self indulgent rubbish".

Friday, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, I forget what else...and I'm going to donate the whole kit and kaboodle. I just don't care about Heinlein's later works any longer; having grown out of my adolescent tendency to be captivated by sex--the Beavis and Butthead-esque nature of the teenage boy to enjoy reading Dejah Thoris Carter wax rhapsodic for three paragraphs about her tits--I am no longer entertained by most of Heinlein's latter day works, nearly all of which rely solely on sex to retain the reader's interest. (Likewise, Lazarus Long's mother telling him, in post-coital conversation, about her masturbating while thinking about him--Bob, dude, that entire section of Time Enough For Love was f-ing sick.)

Stranger in a Strange Land was awesome reading when I was 18. Today, 29 years later, I have no plans ever to read the book ever again, because time and experience have cast the scales from my eyes and I've come to realize this book is twaddle.

Heinlein deserves his place in the pantheon of SF greats, but not for his latter works. (Especially Time Enough For Love and I Will Fear No Evil. Crimony.)

* * *

I never listened to Car Talk either. I tried once, realized that the show was not aimed at people like me, and never went back.

Og:
Yeah, thankfully, i never listened to npr that much. Boston or wales or miami, i want to drive what i want without some simpering shitbag bitching about it.
He says that in response to another comment regarding the "why you don't need an SUV" flowchart that was once hosted on the Car Talk web site; the commentor said the chart was aimed mostly at people living in Boston.

I commented: "I am adding 'simpering shitbag' to my bag of derisiveness."

Expect to see that one unfurled here soon, just as soon as someone deserving of it comes into view. I do not expect it to take very long, worse luck.

#4443: I think this is why I get depressed after voting.

So today I voted, and as usual I left the poll in a bit of a funk. I voted straight party Republican, even though I know the Democrat machine is going to manufacture as many votes as it needs to re-elect Quinn and Durbin and the rest of them.

So the two amendments to the Illinois constitution, I voted against--both the "victims' rights" one and the "voter discrimination" one.

You see, the latter is pointless as long as we don't require a government-issued photo ID to vote. We already have no discrimination in voting, to the point that illegal aliens can vote. This is an amendment which is completely unnecessary because no one is being turned away from the polls, certainly not based on ethnicity, origin, or any other reason.

The former? Victims' rights are all well and good, but the whole movement sticks in my craw for reasons I have trouble defining. All I know is that if we had true Constitutional carry, lots of these "victims" wouldn't need an amendment to the state constitution because they wouldn't have been victimized in the first place.

Then I got to the rest of the ballot. All judges? NO.

There were three referenda, all of which I rejected:

1) Shall Illinois increase the minimum wage to $10 by January 2015? NO. Illinois is already one of the shittiest states for employment in the country; why make it worse?

2) Shall an additional 3% levy be imposed on people earning more than $1,000,000 per year? NO. If you have to pay an extra $30,000 in taxes because you earned $1,000,000.01 this year, you're going to do your damnedest to make sure you only earn $999,999.99, and the result is less money available for the economy. Besides, as stated on the ballot, the entire purpose of this tax is to feed more cash to the teachers' unions ("education" is the code word) which already get too much of our fucking money as it is. Not just "no" but "FUCK NO".

3) Shall all medical insurance plans be required to pay for birth control? NO. Birth control doesn't cost that damned much, and in the context of a blue state like Illinois "birth control" is merely a code phrase meaning "abortions". Besides, people like a hypothetical a 79 year old woman should not have to pay for birth control. She's not going to get pregnant.

...all of which will win, of course, because Democrat machine. Here in the Illinois S.S.R., you can vote however you please, but the same skunks win every time.