Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Around the Web

You know what's crazy? The world oil boom that has been going on. This post talks more about it. Do you know where it's not happening? The middle east. This has huge implications on world events and all the strife that is happening overseas. It's happening mostly in Canada, the US, and Brazil. There is more oil here in the United States than in all of the middle east combined. And for all of the efforts to curb drilling in Alaska and in other places, it has been exploding in North Dakota. It is so big there that there is actually a budget surplus. They are considering repealing state income taxes because there is an overflow of money. The state has a real estate shortage, and unemployment is down to 2-3% statewide. You know what else they're good at? Education. People are flocking to North Dakota. Weird, right? You won't see me there, but it's amazing what's happening.

Only a few decades ago the middle east became relevant in global economics because of the huge oil reserves found in those countries. Those countries and their issues won't disappear, but they won't have they same effect on the rest of the world that they do now. 

This article is pretty interesting. It talks about "fracking," and how all of this money went into clean energy, but the real breakthrough came in traditional energy - oil. I'm going to post a good chunk because I know very few of you will follow the link, but it's worth learning about:

Venture-capital investing is inherently high-risk, so it shouldn’t surprise or bother anyone that many of these startups failed -- some rather spectacularly. Solyndra, the solar-cell company, for example, went bankrupt even after receiving a $535 million in loan guarantees from the U.S. Energy Department. But similar failures happened during the dot-com bubble. Remember and its infamous sock-puppet TV ads?

What is worrying is that almost a decade of energy investing hasn’t produced any home runs -- no green-energy equivalents of eBay, Amazon, Google or Facebook. The modest, incremental advances we have seen don’t perceptibly move the needle on the energy problem.

In the meantime, however, a real revolution has happened in traditional energy -- one that poses a serious challenge to companies and investors betting on alternative energy. This breakthrough is arguably one of the greatest advances in energy production since the 1960s. And it came not from a Silicon Valley company, or from MIT or Stanford, but from George Mitchell, the son of a Greek goatherd who immigrated to the U.S.

After graduating from Texas A&M, Mitchell tinkered with a variety of long-known techniques that had never been used in combination. One of these was horizontal drilling, which originated in the 19th century, was adapted for oil production by the Soviets in the 1930s and was perfected by oil drillers in the 1980s. A second idea was to inject fluid into the rock to fracture it into lots of pieces, thus allowing the gas and oil inside to flow more easily.

A third technique that Mitchell tried was adding sand to the water to help prop open the cracks that formed in the rock. Together these approaches, collectively called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” allowed drillers to inexpensively recover gas from tight shale rock.

Not so long ago, many people believed that the cost of oil and gas would rise indefinitely, thus supporting the market for alternatives. Mitchell’s miracle has changed that calculus, much to the chagrin of the Silicon Valley venture capitalists who caught the green-energy bug."

Anyway, kinda neat.

Lastly, there is this article that I shared on Facebook last night that asks the question, are public teachers underpaid? The answer, as you might guess from knowing anything about my politics, is no. It's an interesting article though, and if you read, you'll be ready to respond to all of the annoying Facebook posts about how nobody appreciates teachers and they are grossly underpaid and all that garbage. After posting it last night, a couple people commented at length on it, asking questions that were actually answered in the article itself, not the blurb that's posted in that link. What's interesting to me is how emotional the conversation gets anytime anyone mentions anything about teachers and education. It surprises me that the subject is as touchy as it is. I'm excited to watch Waiting for Superman.

For all of you who made it this far, congrats. I feel like no one ever gets through these politics/current events posts.

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