Friday, November 14, 2014

5 Things on a Friday: Fifty Shades of Creepy

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water...

1. Nukes and Shale Win The Day in U.S.-China Climate Deal (Bloomberg)
Natural gas drillers and nuclear power producers can celebrate aggressive new emissions cuts promised by the U.S. and China, even as other parts of the fossil fuels world push back.

Goals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are inevitably bad for companies relying on dirtier fuels like coal and crude oil, which already have been under pressure to clean up operations. The measures announced today provide more support for cleaner-burning gas, which the industry has promoted as the “bridge” to renewable energy such as solar and wind.

I've been wondering all week if this energy deal is in any way related to the fall of oil prices.  Oil has been under $100 this week for the first time in a very, very long time, I think because domestic production is up so much that it has forced the Saudis to defend their position as global production leader and price setter.  Either they've ramped up production in an attempt to make North American production uneconomic, or the "fear premium" that has been baked into oil prices for the past decade-plus is finally starting to erode to a rational level--because American production is up high enough that a shortage of supply in the Middle East wouldn't hurt American productivity.  Regardless, the news is good for the American economy.  That "fear premium" has acted like a tax on global productivity paid to oil producing nations above and beyond the actual market price of their product.  It is more than a little amazing that America's economy is picking up steam at the same time that prices are falling--presumably in the face of rising oil demand--but there you have it.

Nuclear plants have high capital costs but very low costs
per megawatt and zero carbon emissions.
Regardless, this deal with China simply moves America further in the direction it was already headed.  Greens are touting the deal as a breakthrough on climate change, but really, it's a breakthrough for simple economics.  America has lots and lots of natural gas trapped in shale deposits right in the northeast.  That's unbelievable!  Two hundred years of energy right in the heart of America's industrial sector.  We're already using it, cleaning our skies of coal debris at the same time we shift away from imported energy.

Having seen what unrestricted coal use looks like--hint: it looks like the kind of polution that China has in its major cities right now--it makes sense that both nations would want to get away from that kind of future.  We have both the technology and the resources to make it happen, and that's why I think this is less a breakthrough and more of an acknowledgement that rational people can sometimes tackle real problems rationally.

2. Russia plans long-range bomber flights near N.American waters (Reuters)
Russia said on Wednesday it planned patrols by long range bombers around North American waters, a move likely to raise Western concerns after NATO accusations of "provocative" incursions into European air space.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said flights along the border of the Russian Federation and over the Arctic Ocean were foreseen as part of training for long-range operations, according to state agency Itar Tass.

"In the current situation, we need to secure our military presence in the western part of the Atlantic, eastern part of the Pacific Oceans and the waters of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico," he added.

I want to see Obama vs. Putin on PPV in the worst way.
Putin looks like a puncher to me, but I bet Obama has better
speed and footwork.
This thing with Russia concerns me.  It's not so much that I think World War III is right around the corner.  I don't.  It's that in failing to stand up strongly to a dictator, the West is in some danger of returning to a policy of appeasement that is a proven loser.  Mistakes of resolve can cause long-term problems.

3.  Fifty Shades of Creepy 

I'm pleased by how clearly Christian's fundamental creepiness comes across in these trailers.  The power dynamic is obvious and overwhelming.  Here's a guy who has everything, a control freak, taking control of another, weaker person's personality and overwhelming it.  It's abusive.  It even looks abusive.  And they're trying--hard--to make it look anything but.

Sally really liked these books because, I guess, she liked the fantasy of a man who has everything and all he can think about is his girl.  She's on his mind all the time.  That's his superpower; he's pays attention to even the minutest details.  But here's the thing: he's even telling her what to wear and how to eat.  He has to tie her down when the screw.  That stuff... that's actually bad.

I only read the first book, but I thought it read like American Psycho.  I kept waiting for Christian to cut Anastasia's head off with a chainsaw.

4.  Musical Interlude: What Goes Around

5.  Seen on Twitter

Ouch!  Holy crap, that hurts.

Right.  Because you can't sell if folks aren't buying.  This is the downside of paying your own people peanuts.

Sounds like good news.

Gotta show that to my daughters.  We haven't played since we got back from Maine, and I really miss it.   But there just hasn't been time.

Life is busy.  I like D&D, but it's really hard to block out more than an hour with the entire family to sit down and do anything, much less play a tabletop RPG.

That's it.  Gotta teach a history class at my daughter's school today, and as much as I'd like to share the slideshow I'm planning to use, I grabbed most of the images for it off of Google, and I'm pretty sure that republishing them would violate copyright.  I try hard not to do that.  Sally and I are going for a run afterwards.  Tomorrow I've got Tri practice at 8:00, followed by Army at Western Kentucky at noon.

It already seems like a busy weekend, and it's 5:45 am on Friday morning.  What can you do?  Life flies by, and we grab the little moments as we can.

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