"Hey, man, you want some big sticks?"
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In the "we're going to see record gas prices this year" department:
The Libya mess is raising world oil prices.
It's already up about $2 per barrel since Thursday.
Must be all those nasty speculators, because after all it's never a supply issue.
As for that last one, here's the explanation:
The most common benchmark for crude oil is West Texas Intermediate on the futures market. That crude is "glutted, in serious oversupply," she said. "But U.S. refiners use many other crudes, some of which have been jumping on Middle East tensions."What it doesn't say is that US refineries primarily use "light, sweet" (LS) crude rather than the stuff we pump out here, because our primary use for oil in the US is to make gasoline, and LS crude oil is rich in the fractions used to make gasoline.
We've got plenty of oil on hand, but it's oil that takes more work to make into gasoline. And there hasn't been a new refinery built in this country since 1970. There is probably technology out there that would make it profitable to mine asphalt for tar and turn that into gasoline, but taking a machine designed to do A and converting it to do B is a hell of a lot more expensive than just building a new machine that can do B right out of the box.
Chemistry (and organic chemistry in particular) is far from being my forte, but at least I know enough to understand that an oil refinery is not some magic box into which you can put whatever complex hydrocarbons you happen to have, and then turn a tap and get gasoline out the other side. An oil refinery is a very large and complex machine; it has a certain range of inputs it can accept, and if you try to go beyond that you're only going to gum things up.
Since our refineries are built to use LS crude, the US sells most of its oil on the world market and buys LS. It's kind of idiotic, but if you primarily want to make gasoline, it makes sense to use LS instead of heavier oils. You end up with less stuff left over that way, which either has to be stored or disposed of.
Or fed into hideously expensive catalytic cracking machines--these use ceramic beads rich in rare-earth metals to break apart long-chain hydrocarbons. But the most economic catalytic processes--again--are built around gasoline production, and as far as I know there aren't many processes which can make heavy oils into light oils in an economically viable fashion. (Something like turning vaseline into gasoline.)
But the entire world economy is in a slump, and there's less of a market for the stuff we pump from the ground. Even though other countries are just fine with using the heavier stuff to make gasoline and diesel--and plastics and heavy oils--they simply don't need as much of it because everyone's economy is struggling.
So, yeah, we've got crude coming out of our ears...but because of ever-stricter environmental regulations, NIMBYs, and ecological groups, we don't have refineries that can economically process it into gasoline. We need to buy LS crude, just like everyone else does--and the result is high gasoline prices.
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I was going to put the Escort into mothballs until I get a job. Its insurance is up on the 12th and right now, without income, I can't really justify maintaining two vehicles; and the Escort is leaking oil badly enough that I can't go too far with it.
But gas is $3.36 a gallon right now, and that price is only going to rise once the EPA's stupid "summer formulation" rules kick in. Gas will be over $4 a gallon before July, unless I am greatly mistaken; it would behoove me to keep the Escort operational and fix the goddamned oil leak ASAP.
BTW: I have been the only person saying this, but if you look at the economy of the past several years you can see that the housing bubble popped right when gas was hideously expensive. High energy prices triggered the economic collapse.
I bring this up because I want to point out that high energy prices aren't going to do us any favors now. The economy is struggling as it is, under an enormous public debt load, confiscatory taxation, and unprecedented regulatory compliance costs; the only thing that allowed "the summer of recovery" was that energy wasn't hideously expensive.
The Democrats don't care: they like it when energy costs a lot, because they can afford it and their environmental policies are built on "less consumption" even though the costs of that lowered consumption is borne by the middle class and the poor. We're the ones who have to struggle to make ends meet and who have to deal with high unemployment while the rich Democrat politicians live like kings.
The GOP is scarcely better. The GOP at least understands the role that high taxation plays in unemployment; but the GOP isn't even planning to do anything about the regulatory burden and its efforts at debt reduction would be laughable if they weren't so tragically pathetic.
This Ace of Spades post does not help my mood one whit.
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"If we can get all state Democratic legislators to flee to Illinois, the other 49 states will be in a lot better shape."
...it's true, and although the notion makes me cringe, I see the wisdom of it. What the hell--Illinois is already permanently fucked up; what more harm could a couple hundred extra Democrat politicians actually cause?
More and more, it seems as if the de facto position of the Democrat Party is that the public has two functions in the United States:
1) Pay taxes; and
2) Give legitimacy to Democrat policies by electing Democrats.
Certainly the voters are not supposed to think for themselves or anything. If the voters elect non-Democrats, the Democrats seem to believe they can take their toys and go home.
Have Republicans ever tried this kind of nonsense? I find it hard to believe they haven't; but you can bet that if they did, the Democrats and the media would all be excoriating them for "standing in the way of the will of the people".
It's important to note that the Democrats are always worried about the will of the people, and they desperately want nothing more than for the peoples' voices to be heard...until that voice turns anti-Democrat. Then the people turn into idiots who can't wipe their own asses, that voice needs to be stifled, and that will must be overturned (usually by a handful of judges).
Not exactly "democratic", if you know what I mean. But--to borrow a phrase from The Ref--the day that I'm convinced that the Democrats have actually begun to care about the good of the public (as opposed to lining their own pockets and taking care of their cronies) I'll stick my own dick in my ear.
* * *
Speaking of "taking care of cronies" today is election day in Chicago. So next week it'll be "Mayor Rahm Emanuel" and nothing will change, except that things will probably slide even further into the shitter.
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The little finger that I broke in 2003 has begun to hurt.
It's right in the joint where the ORIF was done, too; it feels as if someone's sticking the damn pin back in. The pain woke me up this morning.
Fortunately it's not constant; it just goes zing! once in a while. It's still annoying.
Could be arthritis, I suppose. That finger took a beating--first being broken, then getting operated on and having a pin sticking out of it for six weeks, and so on.