Thursday, May 3, 2012

Quick Apology

Dear Readers,

             I am very sorry about the images on this site disappearing. I have had technical problems with Blogger that have led to all the images on this site being deleted. I know it's probably kind of glaring seeing all these exclamation mark boxes all over the place, but it's just the way it will have to be.

             I'm too busy to hand delete all the photoboxes in these posts, I barely have time for this blog as it is - however, from now on I will not be posting any images to go with the articles.


                        Jeremy Janson

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"All of the Above" Obamas done oil production no favors

The Tesoro Refinery at Anacortes, Washington. By Walter Siegmund, license C.C. a.s.a 3.0 unported

Before I continue, I must admit a certain amount of shock in having to write this. Then again, perhaps I shouldn't be shocked. Democrat presidents have a long and proud history of taking credit for things they didn't actually do: Clinton gets credit for balancing the budget, something Newt Gingrich achieved and earned himself "resignation in disgrace" at the hands of the House Ethics committee for doing, perhaps why it hasn't been done since. FDR gets credit for New Deal projects that had already begun under Hoover - the most famous of which is the Hoover Dam. LBJ gets credit for desegregation, which was really an achievement of Eisenhower that continued through the time of LBJ. All throughout this century, Democrats have earned credit for doing things they didn't actually do (to be fair, this also includes bailing out "Government Motors" and the big banks.) I really shouldn't have been shocked to see it happen once more, this time with Obama and oil.

But there's a difference: all those other things that Democrats earned credit for, they either only slightly opposed, or even slightly supported. Never has something been so vehemently and destructively harmed directly by a president, not even through Congress with him only behind it, only to end up to his credit when it works against his plans. "Obamacare" was far more the product of Reid and Pelosi then Obama directly, but Obamas conduct with the Bureau of Land Management, and the abusive EPA that Obama himself presides over, comes from him directly. No one but the Chief Executive of the United States Federal Government is responsible for them before the American people, or should be.

Noting that, lets look over the track record of precisely what he's actually done, pertaining to oil production, as Chief Executive:
In North Dakota, 1574 miles from the Oval Office, oil production doubled from 2008 to 2010. North Dakota is one of only three states west of the Mississippi river to not have any BLM lands, the other two being Texas and Washington state. The section of the same oil shale formation in Montana has not been similarly developed, and the BLM owns that land.

Although North Dakotas unemployment is a boom time 3.3%, Montana remains average for the country, despite containing the western third of the Bakken formation. In Texas, the other non-BLM oil containing state, a much smaller shale deposit has been massively developed, helping to stabilize unemployment there to a reasonable five. Lastly, the largest of all the shale deposits, equivalent to seven Middle Easts, contained in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada (all heavily BLM states, with around 40-90% of land area owned by Federal Government as BLM lands) is totally off limits, and even permits issued under Bush are cancelled and replaced with "research leases."

North Dakota, with no BLM lands, would never be directly affected by the Presidents pen, although the pipeline that leads from North Dakota to the Gulf refineries would, and has. In states near North Dakota, especially Wyoming, Iowa, South Dakota and Missouri, manufacturing jobs making the equipment for oil fracking are reasonably abundant, but the amount of equipment coming out of the facilities cannot keep up with demand. Investment to build new fracking equipment factories has been scarce, since with a Federal Government that seems out to get them, and Obama testing the limits of how much a President can do to hurt it, the future of such technology seems uncertain. Just what will Mister President manage to do next? The reality is that the growth of Americas oil industry in spite of Obama proves nothing except that the Presidents powers are, thankfully, limited.

Yet Mr. President has the supreme audacity to claim credit for the doubling in oil in a state he has less authority in, while reducing production by 40% on what he does have authority over and harming the infrastructure. Not directly of course, that would be too obvious, instead he quotes the oil output nationwide, where the progress in North Dakota and Texas outpaces everything else. Than he tells us he wants "all of the above."

A quick note to readers: If you want to know my sources, click on the gray text.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Foxes Gaurding the Hen House

I would like to begin by saying what I am not. I am not an anti-GMO nut, I am not an organics freak, I am not someone who irrationally hates technology, progress and industry. Far from it, I hate those who do. But for once in their sad, miserable lives, they actually have a point about something, and I am an engineer.

Regulation has been a crucial part of our industrial society since around 1900, maybe slightly before. Because of regulation, more soldiers in Iraq have NOT died from their rations then enemy fire, as happened in the Spanish American War. The conditions seen in "The Jungle" are now largely missing. People are living longer. Likewise, because of good Intellectual Property laws, America is the best place in the world to do high-tech and tech-sensitive business.

Even before now, Monsanto has, in various rulings and court cases such as Monsanto vs. Schmeiser, worn down our IP shield with such distasteful injustices as punishing a farmer for seed spreading on to his land by the wind. (Monsanto vs. Schmeiser.) Now, Obama, in his typical Chicago Politics fashion, has appointed a Monsanto man to head of the FDA.

As an engineer, I think GMO is a technology with tremendous potential to make new lands arable, make soil more usable, make pests less of a problem, lessen the load on irrigation systems, heal livestock diseases when used in feed, and even make food more nutritious. It may also help us understand, in its research use, the complex chemical interactions that make up nanotechnology and mechanics on the molecular level. However, none of this will happen if, in retaliation for GMO misused, the American public is forever turned against it. Monsanto wouldn't care - by then, they will have found more profitable sectors of commerce, just as before they were a chemical company. GMO doing well helps their competitors far more then it helps them.

Mr. President, you cannot let this irresponsible and dishonest company, with a known history of exploiting what little influence it has had, gain greater influence.

A much wiser idea, now that technology is, as it should be, accelerating, would be creating a corporate version of the RICO law to break up corporations with a known pattern of subterfuge of the democratic system. Monsanto could be broken up in to many smaller companies, each carrying the function of the larger firm with only the mildest of effects on the economy. The IP laws could be reset with additional legislative action, while the FDA could be seriously reformed to handle its responsibilities better. Mr. President, as a chosen representative of the Progressive movement, I ask you not to let one of its better accomplishments go to ruin. Mr. President, Monsanto Delinda Est.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

State of the primaries

Our most recent primary, South Carolina. counties won by Romney in orange, Gingrich in purple. Released in to public domain

New Hampshire primary by town. Orange is Romney, Gold is Paul, Crimson Huntsman. Public Domain

Iowa caucus by county. Orange is Romney, gold is Paul, dark green Santorum, dark blue Perry. Public Domain

At this point in the Primary season, all three primaries thus far were won by separate candidates. Iowa was taken by Santorum, New Hampshire by Romney in a landslide, and South Carolina by Gingrich in a landslide. The number of delegates so far per candidate is 31 Mitt Romney, 26 Newt Gingrich, 10 for Ron Paul and 8 for Santorum. 2nd placers include Romney in South Carolina and Iowa, and Paul in New Hampshire.

Prior to this point, there were a whole bunch of shooting star candidates, starting with Michelle Bachmann at the beginning of the year and continuing with Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and then Newt Gingrich. All of them followed nearly the same trajectory, a steep graphed chart for the RCP Polling Average in all 50 states, reaching a peak, and then coming down with the same velocity that they arose, like a little boy throwing a ball. Then, Gingrich took South Carolina, by a landslide, and all the sudden everything changed. What's more, the very last of these trajectory candidates, Santorum, is still on the map and is looking strong in the Florida Panhandle.

Even before this surprising result of three states in three hands, we should've known we would be in for a very different primary season. The historic nature of this election had forced turnout way up. The Tea Party had greatly changed the Republican Party in the last 2 years. Several major candidates (including Gingrich and Santorum) failed to make the ballot in a couple states. Lastly, RNC rule changes made all early primary states proportional representation out to at least 3rd place, bringing the traditional early state landslide to an end. Now, at this moment, we see not a short primary season of the 2004 or 2000 variety effectively ending on Super Tuesday but a protacted 50 state duel between Gingrich, Romney, Santorum and Paul. Paul inevitably wins Virginia, as he is the only candidate on the ballot besides Romney and 60% of Republicans will not vote for Romney under any condition, and so then Paul too shall be right up there with the victors of our three early states.

So what precisely brought us to this point? There is a growing sense in both parties that the same puppet masters control both, and yet there was always a percentage that either refused to accept this conclusion or was comfortable with it. Add in a few Mormons and a few New England moderates, and you have Mitt Romney, the inevitable one.

But this time around, too much had been done, and the Tea Party was too fully aware that it had rescued the GOP from the dustbin of history. Revenge was desired. Many candidates came forward, and the GOP being a new movement with few experienced members, most of them were of fairly low caliber. As a result, they were catapulted with vengeance, recognized, and then forgotten. Eventually they even took on a member of the establishment who sympathized with them, I believe you the reader can figure out who that is. Then something happened with the very last two, Santorum and Gingrich.

In the case of Gingrich, it was finding his old fire as the glorious speaker of the House of Represntatives from 1994-1998. We saw him, in those last days of the election, command the respect that had made him palatable to the Tea Party to begin with. See, Gingrich was never a natural choice, he had BEEN a member of the establishment, and as a result of this fact had to prove himself. Having proved himself, the voters knew how he had proved himself, and when he proved himself once again, he returned.

In the case of Santorum, many people still did not accept Gingrich. He was still dirty, and lets face it, he made many questionable decisions and pseudo-decisions, including support for the Individual Mandate at the federal level, which he calls "a tactical decision against HillaryCare" [divide and conquer?], his decision to support TARP, which is probably more then anything else his university professor side coming out, and his decision to continue supporting social conservatives despite hardly being a role model for them, which, in Georgia, is called winning your election. Being a real politician, he doesn't come out looking real clean. For these malcontents, Santorum and Paul were the remaining choices, and Paul is considered by many to be of questionable judgement and temperament, leading to a vote by elimination for Santorum. Combine some social conservatives and Iowa farmers, and you have Santorum.

Ron Paul voters, of the typical kind, are simply too unique to be explained in this small space. However, in addition to his regular supporters, Ron Paul has received an edge from both malcontents of the kind that supported Santorum, and states where, in this remarkable election, two of the major candidates did not make the ballot, and Romney is still not accepted.

But aside from all of this there is the simple fact that the election is now on. The trajectory candidates were around when there was still time to find someone new - that time is gone. We, the Tea Party, can't replace shooting stars anymore. We are at our last chance. The time is now, the election has begun.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pipelines and Spoiled Brats

Obamas decision to reject the Keystone Pipeline was very disturbing in two ways: first, because it was precisely what was not needed right now here in America, and second because it shows our President to have no understanding what he is doing or why. At a time when the number one issue should be jobs, and the Keystone would not only provide these jobs in terms of construction and further development of the new oil shale fields that are Americas fastest growing industry right now, but also provide demand for manufactured goods like steel and foundry items from the suffering East and Midwest, our President, already facing a potentially difficult reelection, has decided that he will give up the last chance he has to make his reelection a cakewalk. If the economy booms, then none of the assorted clowns currently running for GOP candidate will even have a chance against him, but alas for Obama, this is one boat he has missed. His reason for this dismal choice for both himself and his country: the claims of some environmentalists.

Now the ball is in Canadas court. An alternate pipeline could run from the same locations in Alberta westward to a small, undeveloped port on an inlet 70 miles long called Kitimat in British Columbia. Not only would it carry oil to China, but it would also carry oil along the well developed Inside Passage seaway to the Puget Sound for refining at Anacortes, WA and the American market. But here, again, the Greens are not satisfied.

So why, precisely, are they not satisfied? The biggest reason they are not satisfied, though it is not the only reason, is because it will "delay the development of non-carbon energy sources." Now for environmentalists in America today, this means wind and solar. Wind is extremely unreliable, and solar is astronomically expensive. What's more, the fact that solar can operate off-grid gives it a natural niche market outside of the regular electric grid, so if it can't be successful with substantial government subsidies plus a niche market, then you know it really stinks. Wind, of course, is unreliable, and a smart grid that would make it more reliable by sharing power from different geographic points would also be so susceptible to electromagnetic storms from space as to naturally be completely destroyed and take months to rebuild every 8-10 years. The alternative proposition of battery farms would be outlandishly expensive and require constant maintenance. How precisely something that requires constant input of material resources can be "sustainable" is quite beyond me.

Another reason they're not satisfied is because extracting tar sands is energy intensive. This charge is true. However, extracting oil from shale by current methods is not energy intensive, and as shale drilling becomes more and more common (tar sands is slightly older technology) the less expensive energy cost will be a deciding factor in terms of switching away from tar sands production to shale production. Right now, the massive expansion of shale drilling, especially in North Dakota where unemployment is only 3.5% (and lower near Williston) as a result, has driven up the cost of purchasing equipment for shale drilling. This is a good thing in the long run as it means more capacity will be available in the future, but in the short run means that shale is unlikely to replace any existing production until this bottleneck is widened. In the long run, this capital cost will be gone and shale will replace tar sands, especially since just the (much smaller far southern tail) of the Bakken Formation in North Dakota contains at least 3.65 billion barrels of oil, and I suspect that this analysis by the USGS was understated partially by pressure from the Obama administration and paritally by laziness, or as the report puts it: "They also combined their findings with historical exploration and production analyses to determine the undiscovered, technically recoverable oil estimates." The first rule of engineering is if you want to be lazy, always understate your result so that nobody cares.

Then there is simply the old environmentalist hatred of economic development. This is somewhat connected to the very last concern of environmentalists to be listed here, but this really is where I begin doubting the character of environmentalists as people. The reality is that, far from being some Garden of Eden, the third world is a place where illegal loggers destroy rainforests, poachers with machine guns kill off endangered species, massive sprawling cities come up over night and coal plants put mercury and radiation in to the air by the bucket full. It is also a place where in Monrovia, Liberia, the people poop on the beach, allowing untreated human sewage to go straight in to an aquifer while also stinking up the air and despoiling a beautiful 5-mile strip of pristine sand. The problem with environmentalists is they expect the full regulatory ability of a first-world country without the society or, frankly, resources, that made it possible. In short, they are spoiled brats.

And that brings us to our final environmentalist objection: locality. I shall begin by discussing the Canadian pipeline, as it is simply their most egregious abuse. All throughout the internet and journalism, we find various environmentalists and journalists, who know nothing about how development takes place, put up pictures of this pristine, perfect wilderness of tremendous natural beauty (that is, for the record, almost completely contained in an archipelago of Canadian National Parks and Provincial Parks) that supposedly will be completely destroyed by the pipeline and economic development.

To put it bluntly, no it won't. People only think it will because they don't live there. If they did live there, they would know that mountains rise straight out of the sea on both sides of the Kitimat Inlet, making any kind of construction enormously expensive, and that Kitimat is at the eastern end of that inlet and the beginning of a long, and nowhere near as pristine or beautiful, flat typical river valley. It also is located SEVENTY MILES EAST of where most of the wilderness is. In fact, this is why the pipeline is sent so far north instead of simply going to Vancouver - to avoid those eternally annoying in the sense that only an engineer can understand mountains. They would also know that if there's one thing the coastline of British Columbia has an overabundance of, its beautiful, pristine, undeveloped coastline. There are no roads on the coast of British Columbia and Alaska running North-South from the Vancouver Suburbs to Anchorage, Alaska, a distance of 800 miles, the reason why the most common accidental death in Alaska is plane crashes. It also won't because these areas are already protected as parks, both at the provincial and Canadian federal level, and there are far too many flatter, more valuable, riverside pieces of real estate nearer to Kitimat and the pipeline for lobbying by the businesses to even be profitable to them. It is also true that with a tidal range near 20 feet, any oil spill would not last very long but be swept out to sea pretty fast. But environmentalists think their asinine, immature, irrational fears justify the shutting down of an entire part of the world in economic activity, when everything that even can be done to protect that wilderness already is.

The original locality makes somewhat more sense, but only somewhat, to protest. That of course is the lands through the plains that the original Keystone XL would've run through. Of course, unlike BC, there are plenty of roads in the Plains, and even more in Texas. Lots of 2-lane or 4-lane roads going passed corn fields, unused infrastructure, tiny cities and all. This is true. It is also true that the Great Plains aquifer is pretty big, though one could counter that being so big its really not that easy to substantially impurify, and what oil would do is certainly no worse then what farmlands already do with fertilizers and pesticides. Oil also has the advantage over farmlands with their pesticides and fertilizers that it is not generally to the advantage of oil companies for their pipelines to be constantly leaking. It has yet another advantage that increasing land prices may drive the farms with their pesticides and fertilizers out of business. Further, there is the little matter of refining at Wood River, Illinois and Steele, Nebraska, right over the aquifer and the Mississippi River, where oil leaks and all manner of chemical spills are much more likely to happen then at the pipeline, and where the final expansion to Houston and Port Arthur could've eventually replaced those refineries by economies of scale, in the middle of a swamp where bacteria and a chemical-recycling ecosystem already can handle most water purity issues.

Yet even here, the same picture of the environmentalist as a spoiled brat emerges - unshaking, unwilling to compromise, loud, sort of like a toddler. Instead of seeing that some development, even if not constrained by the great mountains of the Kitimat Inlet, is neccesary to finance and safeguard environmental protection, they would rather shout and scream and yell and let everything go to some third world country where no chance exists for proper controls or procedures to prevent what they want to prevent. The result is that for every ton of smog they prevent in Southern California, two tons come across the pacific blown by winds from China, and the prairie starves, and no one even really pays close attention to what they are saying or any way of making a reasonable solution to the problem. There answer is to criticize China, a country doing its best to get out of poverty, who has no special interest in listening to much of anyone who lives on this side of the Pacific. The result also is that eventually, as people become poorer and poorer, the toddler who cried wolf may really get eaten after all.

We'll all be sad that day, just like any parent would be, but it doesn't change the fact that it happened, and that the child is gone forever and not coming back. When you yourself feed on irrationality, don't be too surprised if you eventually get fed to it. Environmentalists with no respect for reason will not be given reasonable attention, and this will be a collective judgement, not an individual one, applied to all environmentalists everywhere, whether they were part of the problem or not. They will not be heard, nor will anyone else about our very real environmental problems.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Evolution of a Meme

When the world-created the mind-numbing abberations of 4chan and reddit, I don't think anyone expected us to unleash a Golden Age of photography and art. Alas, it seems to have occurred!

Starting from the same birth group, 4chans /b/(random) board, also known as the seventh circle of Hell, as all the "Advice Dog" series, a simple, elegant and professional photograph of a wolf by Montana artist Jeff Vanaugha was cut up, cropped on to a pattern of colored rays and finally, TA-DA!!!:

But wait, there's more! We can't have too much of a good thing right? No, not possible, or as courage wolf would put it, "Get there, get more there!" We had to find more wolf pictures:

Sir Courage Wolf Esquire. This art is wonderful in that nearly anyone can claim it as their own, in this case a Britain and world in a crisis of identity.

Baby Courage Wolf, classic comedic juxtaposition. Did I mention that every one of these, has come in to being (including the original Courage Wolf) since June of 2010?

Insanity Wolf, a classic nightmare image with background clearly conjuring the emotions and thoughts required to contemplate it.

Finally, beyond adding to the great library of Meme, there are modifications of existing images:

Monsieur Le Courage Wolf. It may be art but it is not above the stereotype. It also is nowhere near as popular as the other deeper images that convey a far truer message or at least use better comedic forms. This brings up an important point: are unartistic television shows profitable because its what people want, or because they cost less to make and are more predictable, a crucial consideration for those who will spend money to advertise a product on TV, and they are still tolerable to the audience?

Insanity Wolf in turn became a major meme all its own, inspiring numerous spin offs. In the interest of limited bandwidth, we will largely no longer be showing many additional images. However, nearly all memes originated in similar ways - a first, followed by a second, followed by seconds of seconds, each time taking on the watermark and unique thoughts and emotions of the people who created in anonymity before it. I believe it was Ronald Reagan who once said "You would be surprised what you can achieve in life if you don't care who gets the credit."

Some memes also originated as spoofs of the websites where memes originate. Included are "Pedobear," an image of a "Protection Bear" posted whenever child pornography was posted in a 4chan thread, the joke, of course, being that he must show up for the wonderful child pornography, while his smiling bearish face juxtaposed with a creepy pedophile creates humor too good to buy! Also Redditors Wife, who is constantly being ignored in the interest of Reddit, and the various Pokemon memes (including one of Ash Ketchum as a Hispanic) that obviously spoof the fascination of 4chan users with such ridiculously retarded things - in both cases spoofing the readers as opposed to the site itself.

Lastly, let us consider the Baron Ducreaux, in some ways an expression of the longing in our society for civility, depth, and sophistication as it juxtaposes good manners and rap music:

Centuries ahead of his time, the French court painter Baron Joseph Ducreaux famously painted himself using body language that would not become the norm for another 200 years in imitation, according to the artist, of a Mockingbird. (Painting title: Portrait de l'artiste sous les traits d'un moqueur, translated Self-portrait of the artist in the guise of a mockingbird by This is far from the only unusual painting that the Baron did in his time with the doomed court of Louis XVI, as he experimented often with facial expressions and features as a vehicle for describing personality, a crucial problem in an era before photography and easy travel, when portraits were used to show wealthy women and men their prospective mates. Though his painting are in the Louvre, what likelihood is there that the Barons work could've achieved such notoriety and widespread appreciation without 4chan, reddit, facebook, and the other pathetic wastes of time of the unwashed masses?

Unfortunately, such widespread appreciation has also inspired modification, including famously the Steve Buscemi Ducreux where Steve Buscemis face is inserted in the place of Baron Ducreaux's, but since in doing so the authors have satirized Steve Buscemi's manner and personality, have they not, albeit unwittingly, contributed to Ducreaux's legacy? By satirizing the satire, a new work of art has been born. Andy Warhol, in particular, DESIRED imitation with his simultaneously kitsch and inspiring works on Marilyn Monroe and soup cans, and purposefully sought out the field of advertising as a place to find true beauty.

There is too often a tendency to call putting weird strings and things on paper modern art, when the true modern art is right underneath our noses, evolving, as always, with the modern world. If any of you wish to further inquire about the art of Memes, I would suggest, a specialty news site that analyzes online trends, as a broad-based and reliable source.

All images from, and with clear legal intent, discarded works.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rivers & Navigation

The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Public domain work of Army Corps of Engineers.

Very early in Americas history, before railroads and airplanes and highways successively made America more reachable, there were only two alternatives for transit: the covered wagon/horse and the ship. Even in the 1600's, shipping was surprisingly well-developed at sea, and a trip across the Atlantic often took far less time then a similarly distanced trip across land, while the ship itself could carry far more cargo far more affordably then a similar number of covered wagons. The result was that coastal areas with ports became highly developed centers of wealth, while Appalachia and those areas away from ports became the distinctive "redneck" culture of charming economic ne'er-do-wells we all know and love.

In between theses two extremes were the lands along improvable seaways, and these would prove critical to the further development of America away from the East Coast. The most famous of these is the Erie Canal, built in 1825, from Albany to Buffalo through New York State. Combined with the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal, built 10 years later, linking the Chicago River to Lake Michigan, you had for the first time a true continuous seaway from New York City to the Mississippi River and the vast new lands beyond. The immediate result was a massive outflow of westward settlers, filling out the areas we now popularly know as the Midwest, and creating a market for mail-order goods that would be essential for the further development of the West. In addition, the vast cattle and grain lands of the West supplied the Chicago Stockyards, Chicagos first great manufacturing industry. Lastly and still importantly, the economy of all the great centers of upstate New York was built by cargo passing through the Erie canal.

In more recent years, the Chicago Canal and the Erie canal have both become largely irrelevant due to the increasing draft of freighters, but before they did, the intense increase in interest and investment in Great Lakes Shipping built the iron boat fleets. The iron boats now criss cross all 5 Great Lakes and the rivers that feed in to them carrying Iron Ore from Ontario, Minnesota, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to steel mills in Pennsylvania (through Erie, PA) and Indiana (through the Port of Gary). Stepping in to their place, the brand new Saint Lawrence seaway, easily deep enough for all but the biggest ocean-going freighters, has replaced the Erie Canal running from Lake Ontario to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence along the Saint Lawrence River, and a new steel mill has opened up in Montreal to harness the iron fleets, while grain boats now dock at Duluth, Minnesota and Lake Winnebago (connected through the Winnebago river) to use the Saint Lawrence Seaway to reach Europe. Unfortunately, the Chicago canal has not been replaced, and the Chicago river is too shallow for a canal improvement to be sensible, so it is primarily used by local barges, often carrying iron ore from Tennessee and Alabama to Gary.

In the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, land still largely undeveloped except for the least of uses, even less then agriculture, the Osage river was once targeted for improvement. Many attempts were made to allow ships from the Missouri to access the resource-rich and mountainous regions of the center of the state. The constant turns and rapids of the Osage made it difficult, and finally, the building of a dam at what is now the Lake of the Ozarks without locks ruined the dream of Ozarkian navigation forever. A few wealthy people and vacation homes exist on the Lake of the Ozarks, and very little significant economic activity.

A similar but somehow more lucrative Upper Missouri received major improvements throughout the 1800's and 1900's. Originally ending at Kansas City, where it meets up with the Kansas River, the navigable stretch of the Missouri was extended first to Omaha, and finally to Sioux Falls, Iowa. The region is now a hive of industry and transportation, and used to be even more so. Even with competition from the railroads, the barges were still more useful for many needs, and remain so to this day.

Yet another story of gradually expanding navigation is the Columbia. The navigation head on the Columbia was Portland, Oregon, and indeed for this it was named, from the late 1700's until the late 1870's, where thereafter an intense rapid prevented most further transportation. It was only one unnavigable site, however, and otherwise the river remained well navigable to what is now the Tri-Cities of Washington where the Columbia meets the Snake, and so even in the relatively undeveloped West it made sense to add a couple locks bypassing it. Shortly thereafter, a railroad, one of the oldest in the state, was built from Wallula to Walla Walla, Washingtons' oldest settlement, carrying fresh farm goods and resoures to port to be loaded on to ships and taken downstream, and in some cases even continue north to Alaska where they were needed absolutely and supported the gold rush. Ice also was transported, due to the divergent weather patterns of Eastern Washington (which freezes readily) and Western Washington (which stays fairly warm all year) on opposite sides of the rapids. Finally, in the 1930's, a couple hydroelectric dams were built on the Snake River, and it was realized that with one additional dam navigation could continue to Lewiston, ID; Lewiston, Idaho today is a center of the paper industry due to its location as a transportation center, in the desert halfway between two great timberlands.

Just because a river was unnavigable, however, did not mean it could not be useful for transit. Wagons too benefited form the relatively flat land and easy trails and abundant fresh water and game that even a tiny river provided. Five different wagon trails, to points in Oregon, California, Montana and Utah, all continued along the Platt River through Nebraska, a river known for being too shallow and unsteady even for canoe traffic. Likewise, sometimes navigability is in the eyes of the beholder - many of the rivers Lewis and Clark used are, even today, considered largely unnavigable, while many rivers in Texas, a state usually regarded as being all but without navigable rivers, such as the Trinity were once frequented by steamboats. Starting in the 1830's, short navigable sections of the Chattahoochee, mostly unnavigable that far north, near Atlanta were used for wagon ferries - the ferries have long since been replaced with roads that still bear their names, and they are still many of the most major roads in the city.

Fast flowing rivers, of the sort that are seldom navigable, are also often power sources for industry, and any river navigable or not can be used as a source of water and silt. Silt makes good farmland, and carries downstream minerals like the Gold that was famously panned along the various rivers of Alaska, and also the Diamonds found on the banks of the Ganges that introduced Europe to the Diamond in the 1700's. As a meeting place of navigable deep and broad and unnavigable fast moving rivers, fall line cities such as Hartford, CT, Augusta, GA, Pittsburgh, PA, Trenton, NJ, Baltimore, MD, and the great Industrial center of the confederacy Richmond, VA, where rivers come off a major incline, have been a valuable location for industry. Sometimes though, you can eat your cake and have it too: modern hydroelectric dams provide the same electric power that the old watermill provided mechanically, and can have a concurrent lock for shipping, such as the various dams on the Snake River that bring shipping in to Idaho, often times even making an unnavigable reach navigable.

Georgia has gone the opposite of the Missouri and the Columbia - once home to three navigable rivers, two of them, the Oconee and the Savannah, have been largely cannibalized for irrigation and drinking water. Former ports such as Augusta are no longer reachable to even the most basic of traffic. A movement now exists to do similarly to Georgias last remaining navigable river, the Chatahoochee, which is navigable from Columbus, Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico, despite many dams and improvements made over the years to make river navigation possible, all in the interest of Atlantas (which is not served by the river) literal thirst and growth. In addition, environmentalists in California are trying to bust CA's hydroelectric dams - those don't support shipping, but they do support electric power.

There are also the stories of navigation never completed. A canal project from Washington DC to Ohio was going to create a westward route for shipping traffic from the Chesapeake bay, but was canceled largely because of the availability of the railroad and the Great Lakes system providing too little remaining demand. The Nicaragua Canal was a viable alternative to the Panama Canal that could have potentially served far more local traffic. The latter may still be built simply because the Panama Canal is beyond capacity, the former however will largely not be built because the Potomac River, like the Chicago, is too shallow for modern oceangoing craft.

In general, though, riverine navigation is no longer a priority for modern government infrastructure, and Georgia is frankly a sign of things to come, a world that has largely lost faith in progress and edges more and more to mediocrity and an assumption of good results nearly every day. Less and less are people interested in expanding outside of existing centers and ways, preferring instead to blindly favor what already exists. This combined with radical environmentalism seems to indicate that America, and most of the worlds, days of canal building and extending the great seas to where they are needed are over. It is no wonder that Americas middle class and business base does not grow, as America itself does not grow, favoring only what already exists to the obvious benefit of the current wealthy.

Current Marine Highways of the United States, 2010, public domain work of US-DOT

Monday, October 31, 2011

The EPA versus Arlo Guthrie

It is well understood that pretty much all members of the Guthrie family of musicians are staunch liberals, but when listening to Alices Restaurant tonight, I realized that if Obama wanted to know what is wrong with his whole approach to things, he doesn't even have to talk to a conservative, he just has to talk to ole' Arlo Guthrie:
Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving,
when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't
live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the
bell-tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower
like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin'
all that room, seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they
didn't have to take out their garbage for a long time.

We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it'd be a
friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So we took the
half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW microbus, took shovels and
rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the city dump.

Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the dump saying,
"Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving
before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off into the sunset looking for another
place to put the garbage.

Here you have it, a small naive (and the narrator of Alices Restaurant is VERY naive) gesture of friendship on Thanksgiving, and because no one can be at the dump guarding it, the dump is closed.

We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road
there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was another
pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile is better than two little piles, and
rather than bring that one up we decided to throw our's down. That's what we did, and
drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep
and didn't get up until the next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie.
He said, "Kid, we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage,
and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said, "Yes, sir,
Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope under that garbage."
Not finding any available bureaucracy, they use their common sense outside of the bureaucracy, and do something that seems reasonable. The officer, never available to help them sort this out at the beginning of the story, is now suddenly very very available to sort them out.

After speaking to Obie for about fourty-five minutes on the telephone we
finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down
and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the
police officer's station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the
shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the
police officer's station.
He's available for fourty-five minutes to talk about the "consequences," after the fact, and schedules an appointment to see them in person, having never been available to prevent the problem to begin with. Why? Because it was Thanksgiving, and he's entitled to not talk on Thanksgiving.

Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at
the police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for
being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and
we didn't expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out
and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again,
which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station
there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was
both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said "Obie, I don't think I
can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on." He said, "Shut up, kid.
Get in the back of the patrol car."

And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the
quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of
Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here, they got three stop signs,
two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the Scene of the
Crime there was five police officers and three police cars, being the biggest
crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to get in the newspaper
story about it. And they was using up all kinds of cop equipment that they had
hanging around the police officer's station. They was taking plaster tire tracks,
foot prints, dog smelling prints, and they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour
glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one
explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of
the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not
to mention the aerial photography.

After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put us in the
cell. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your wallet and your belt."
Not only has "Officer Obie" encouraged them to, in the future, lie and cheat when he should've known that without their "kindness" he could have not done his "job", instead of simply giving them a good yelling and telling them to pick it all up, he has to make a scene, bring in all the police cars and airplanes and special teams, do massive investigative work wholly unnecessary to the situation at taxpayer expense, and then, when finished, throw them in jail as a reward for their original honesty and with no seemingly good reason.

And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my
wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you
want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I
said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?"
Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the
toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took
out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the
toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape.
Undertaking more rash and unneeded steps, and adding additional uncomfort to the individuals life, for no apparent reason except the "Precautionary Principle," better known as cowardice.
Obie was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice (remember
Alice? It's a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few nasty words to Obie on
the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back to the church, had a another
thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and didn't get up until the next morning,
when we all had to go to court.
After all these herculean efforts and expenditures, for a long time in jail, the fellows are bailed out.
We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, sat down. Man
came in said, "All rise." We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty seven
eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye
dog, and he sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the
twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph
on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog. And then at twenty seven
eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of
each one and began to cry, 'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case
of American blind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and the judge
wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the
circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to
be used as evidence against us. And we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the
snow, but thats not what I came to tell you about.
Having gone to all this trouble to stack the deck against these young lads for his own personal benefit, his mechanations and manipulations fall apart against a single loose cog in the plan - a blind judge who will not be condescended in to sentencing by fancy pictures and paragraphs, quite a metaphor for our current Academic elites and their tendency to use "settled science" (LOL!) to rule anyone who disagrees with them unfit to speak. Thankfully, the judge can't see, much as the American Redneck was never overtaught to overrespect these dishonest manipulations and crass overreaches. "Blind Justice" indeed. In many ways voters are, when you get right down to it, a judge of elected officials.
They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street, where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected.  I went down to get my physical examination one day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning.  `Cause I wanted to look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York, and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the phsychiatrist, room 604."
Not caring one bit what they put people through or the pride or dignity of anyone, government agencies poke and prod and inspect, and says "yea or nay" without any regard to the humanity or sensible value of what they're looking at. They have their quota, and if it kills them, or anyone else, they'll fill it.
And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill.  I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill.  Kill.  I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth.  Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL."  And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL."  And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

Didn't feel too good about it.
Although his job is to be a Psychiatrist, the shrink at Whitehall Street suspends his duty when he hears what he wants to hear, that being far more important then actually carrying out his job, much like Green Energy and Mass Transit engineers who apply standards and bigotries that would never consider outside of these sectors when analyzing the plans of the environmental left, selling out their professional integrity for the sake of an ideological warpath.
Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections, detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no part untouched.  Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there, and I walked up and said, "What do you want?"  He said, "Kid, we only got one question. Have you ever been arrested?"
Finally, after having jumped through all the hoops, a single malfeasance is found, a single problem or trouble in something that otherwise fits, much like the Cape Wind project in Massacheuttsets. From the link: "The decision signals further delays for the $2.6 billion project, which was under review for about a decade and which has struggled to find financing."
And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice's Restaurant Massacre, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all the phenome... - and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever go to court?"  And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W .... NOW kid!!"
A couple bad answers and the kid finds himself a virtual pariah, all for the minorest and most senseless of violations.
And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there.  Mother rapers.  Father stabbers.  Father rapers!  Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me!  And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me.
Having given a bad answer, the organization, or individual, finds itself in a category that it does not fit, associating with those far worse then it is.
"Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna- know-details-of-the-crime-time-of-the-crime-and-any-other-kind-of-thing- you-gotta-say-pertaining-to-and-about-the-crime-I-want-to-know-arresting- officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say", and talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there, and I filled out the massacre with the four part harmony, and wrote it down there
Doesn't this sound a whole lot like the Healthcare Bill, you know, the one we have to "pass to find out what's in it?" (Madame Pelosi) And then, finally, of all great and horrible humiliations and slanders and acts of true hypocrisy:
They have the gall to ask have we fixed ourselves, when they were the problem all along, when they have no right to judge, when they have done far worse things to this country then refusing to buy health insurance or keeping the lights on too long. But it's all us, it's never their fault, they're above being at fault, above the law, above manners and procedures, above morality.