The Yanks Are Coming, Again

John Hinderaker over at Powerline caught something that I should have. It happens. He quotes the Science and Environmental Policy Project’s The Week That Was:

Mr Hilton discusses the highly successful UK petrochemical firm Ineos. The firm may invest €2 billion (£1.76 billion) expanding its European petrochemicals capacity, possibly in Belgium. But location is only part of the issue. As Mr. Hilton states:

Once you have built a major chemical complex, your main (in many ways, your only) worry is the cost of the raw material you need to feed into it. This can account for half or more of total production costs, and is similarly crucial for other energy ­intensive industries such as refining, iron and steel, glass, cement and paper.

Until a few years ago Europe and America paid more or less the same amount for their petrochemical feedstock — the US had a slight advantage but not so great after transport and other costs had been factored in. (Middle East plants, sited right by the oilfields, did have such a price advantage but lacked scale.)

This is no longer the case thanks to the fundamental changes across the Atlantic. The Marcellus field, which spreads over several states and is just one of many in the US, produces 15 billion cubic feet of gas a day which is almost twice the UK’s entire consumption. But the result is that US prices have disconnected from the rest of the world and the subsequent feedstock prices have given American chemical plants so vast a price advantage that, on paper at least, there’s no way Europe can compete. It is staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, not now, but in a few short years, unless it can find some way to get its raw ­material costs down to American levels.

Thus far, the effect has been muted — and the European industry has had a little time — because the US petrochemical industry was originally not built for indigenous US gas and oil supplies but instead located near ports and configured to process supplies of oil from the Middle East.

But this is changing fast. There has been virtually no big petrochemical investment in Europe in the past decade whereas in the US since 2010 some $85 billion of petrochemicals projects have been completed or are under construction. Spending on chemical capacity to 2022 will exceed $124 billion, according to the American Chemistry Council, creating 485,000 jobs during construction and more than 500,000 permanent jobs, adding between $80 billion and $120 billion in economic output. After years where chemical capacity has run neck and neck with Europe, the American industry is about to dwarf it.

Makes all the sense in the world, when one thinks about it. And it’s true all through the energy sector. When I started this blog, we, in America, were paying about $5/gallon for gasoline (mostly slightly less) while Britain was paying about £4/Liter, if I recall. The BBC says they are now paying £1.19/Liter while we are paying ~$2/Gallon. But there are almost 4 liters in a gallon, and while I don’t remember what the pound was worth 6 years ago, I suspect it was considerably more than $1.28. And while we’re OK on Gasoline, we’re pretty much awash in Natural Gas, to the point that we are using it to replace coal in electrical generation, because it burns cleaner, while exporting coal to China.

So often I say here that America was built on abundant (and increasingly cheap) energy. I don’t usually document it because it seems pretty obvious to me, but it really is. Think about why such companies as Amazon, which are really little other than overgrown mercantile houses (in itself a concept we pioneered a hundred and fifty years ago with such firms as Sears, Roebuck, and Co.) both started and prospered so mightily here.

This will, I think become obvious quicker in chemical plants (do remember that the fertilizer we use on crops, another field that the US/Canada dominate, are products of chemical plants). Fracking is going a long way towards making America competitive with anybody in the world, again. And if you combine that with the traditional American propensity for innovation, well, the limits of our return become hard to discern.

We’re Doomed, Doomed I Tell You.

From Philly.com

Seventeen years after the Year 2000 bug came and went, the federal government will finally stop preparing for it.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would eliminate dozens of paperwork requirements for federal agencies, including an obscure rule that requires them to continue providing updates on their preparedness for a bug that many feared would afflict computers at the turn of the century.

The Pentagon will also be freed from a requirement that it file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed about 1,200 man-hours every year.

“We’re looking for stuff everyone agrees is a complete waste of time,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House. He likened the move to the government “cleaning out our closets.”

Deregulation is a major ambition of President Trump’s agenda; he has signed more laws rolling back his predecessor’s regulations than the combined total of the three previous presidents since the process was established by the 1999 Congressional Review Act.

Seven of the more than 50 paperwork requirements the White House eliminated on Thursday dealt with the Y2K bug, according to a memo OMB released. Officials at the agency estimate the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government.

Yeah, it’s a silly story, but you know, its something that happens in all organizations. We get in habits, and no matter how irrelevant, we keep on, keepin’ on. Most of the time, it does little to no harm and might build respect for tradition, but in large part, it’s kind of silly. As Doug Powers said.

The people working in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Horse & Buggy Administration are feeling a little nervous about their jobs right now.

In other news, all from Powerline, this time.

But one is far superior

Of Course

 

 

 

Grenfell Tower

So let’s try to unpack this horror a bit, shall we? I happened to watch it almost in real time (on Sky) and I was appalled as it went up. As I said yesterday, it reminded me of the WTC more than anything – essentially all the heroism in the world from the emergency services (and they were, as always) of very little utility, the effects were more like the actions of a particularly malevolent god than anything else.

The best general write up I’ve read as to underlying causes was, not surprisingly on The Conservative Woman. In the immense comment stream, it degenerates a bit into partisan backbiting. Well, what doesn’t these days?

But here’s what I think I know.

  • It’s a high rise (24 stories) with one staircase and two elevators. Not uncommon, there or here, but one must always remember that once you get past roughly 10 floors the fire department is restricted to internal access. 150 feet is about all mobile equipment can reach.
  • Supposedly it was constructed to contain fire, reinforced concrete construction, fire doors and such. Normal stuff, not all that expensive, usually effective. Failed here.
  • A cladding was applied to the building, for appearance and insulation. Some reports say it was not fire resistant. It’s possible it wasn’t, but apply enough heat and almost anything will burn. What appeared to happen here is that fire got behind the cladding and into the insulation. I’ve heard that insulation described as Celotex (may or may not be true), but almost all insulation will either burn or melt, and if it does behind the cladding, it will form a flue (much like a chimney) and heat will rise very quickly feeding the flames. That is what the fire looked like on TV.
  • No sprinklers. May or may not have mattered in the public spaces. Which is all that is usually required. If they had been installed in the apartments may well have contained it, and most also have an automatic alarm, both local and fire department, which would help. Apparently, this building grandfathered the requirement, but best practice would have seen them installed.
  • No (or inaudible) local fire alarm. Inexcusable, in my mind at least.
  • Open windows. England has little air conditioning, and none here, so windows were open, increasing draft for the fire. Well, not really a lot you can do about that.
  • Lots of immigrants in the building. Not a big deal, maybe, but cultural practices do matter. May have been lots of flammable artifacts about, prayer rugs, this, that, and the other. I have also seen immigrants here cooking over open flames (improvised firepits and such) very dangerous in a multi-story building. Don’t know, but might be worth looking at. Also were firedoors kept shut? Canada, for instance, requires that the door to a connected garage have an self-closing mechanism.
  • One that will surprise Americans. There are reports of an exploding refrigerator. That’s something that just doesn’t happen here. Why? Because we use CFCs for refrigerants. If they leak and burn, they can cause phosgene poisoning, but the systems are sealed and pretty much bulletproof. Never, not once, in the last 50 years have I heard of a problem. Europe is different. They use Isobutane, essentially what we call LP gas. Yeah, the same stuff that we use in our barbecue grills, and sometimes stoves and furnaces where natural gas is not available. I won’t have it in my house for any reason, not least because, unlike natural gas, it is heavier than air and will accumulate, and a very small spark (static electricity from a woolen rug, say) can set it off. The other thing is, it’s a small molecule (unlike CFCs) and much harder to seal permanently. LP is every bit as flammable as acetylene that is used for welding, in fact, Oxy-propane is very often used for cutting torches because it burns hotter. Now get a leak in your refrigerator, and a spark in the thermostat, and you have an explosion, and not a small one. Why do they do this? Because the EU has banned CFCs for environmental reasons (we’ve changed our formulations too. The new ones aren’t as effective, but less damaging to the ozone layer).¹

Overall, this was a systemic failure, old Murphy was working overtime. The problems just piled one on the other, and as a result, likely more than a hundred people are dead and died horribly. If I understand the building was council owned (rather like an overpowered city council combined with the zoning board) and managed by a (no doubt connected) non-profit. Strikes me as plenty of room for corruption to sneak in as well, although I have no proof of anything like that. But the one thing we know about bureaucrats is that they can almost never be forced to take responsibility for anything. I doubt anything different than that here.

And yes, the pseudo pious virtue signaling, blame passing, and all those games have already started. Not to mention the wingeing about how we don’t have enough money.

¹ ISOBUTANE

Rep Scalise, and an Attack on the Republic

(Photo: Shawn Thew, European Pressphoto Agency)

[I have some things to say about the Grenfell Tower fire in London, but it won’t be today. So far, I start thinking about it, and I just sit here and cry, not least because of the parallels to the WTC back on 911. The worry over my niece that was working in lower Manhatten that day still haunts me, and the pictures from this disaster bring it all back, terribly strongly. Maybe tomorrow.]

So, let’s talk about something perhaps more evil. The assassination attempt on Steve Scalise and a bunch of other Republican Representatives. Lots of time I don’t agree with any of them, you know that, but they are our elected representatives, and we should assume they are doing what they think is right. That goes for the Democrats as well. We are a representational republic, if you don’t like what they do, vote against them.

The weapon was apparently an AK 47 variant, not that it matters, it could have been anything including a bolt action. Much of the problem was that while I suspect many of these guys have carry permits, who carries a gun at baseball practice?  I don’t, you don’t, I doubt anybody does, but yesterday it would have been a Godsend.

That said, Rep Scalise being there likely saved us from a massacre, as leadership, he is entitled to security. And a couple of very brave Capitol Police officers saved the day. I don’t know whether they took the gunman out or the responding locals did, but they at least bought time for that response.

It’s no easy thing to go up against a rifle with a handgun, but Special Agent David Bailey and Special Agent Crystal Griner are beyond doubting real American heroes. Agent Griner was apparently wounded in the attack and we obviously wish her all the best. Both agents were as well as two others, and we pray for them all.

The perpetrator is dead, which is a good outcome, as Jonathon Turley reported earlier today the penalty for attacking Congressmen with intent to kill, ranges from 25 years to death, as it should. This was not a terrorist attack, at least as we generally perceive them. He was a 60-year-old supporter of Bernie Sanders, and opposed virulently both Trump and Clinton. As usual, he was likely just crazy, not that the current environment doesn’t aggravate that. None of this rebounds to Senator Sander’s fault, it is purely the responsibility of the perpetrator. Sen. Sanders released a statement which said this.

 

Fair enough, you will all remember that Senator Sanders also defended Ann Coulter’s right to speak at Berkeley. I almost never agree with him, but he’s an honest and an honorable man.

We are already, unsurprisingly seeing the attack turned into partisan politics, especially by the press, which seemingly will do and or say anything to get noticed these days. Which of course is why they have become irrelevant in the first place.

But it is time, indeed it is well past time, to cool the rhetoric in this country some. The witchhunt and the defenses against it are becoming much too likely to precipitate violence, and as we saw this morning, that is not in any of our best interest. We don’t need to agree, but we do need to agree to act civilly, if we don’t this will become the precursor of who knows what. I was asked today by a British friend whether we are getting ready to kick off Act 4 of the “Cousin’s Wars”. My answer was that I hoped not, but I feared we are.

The AG Testifies, Higher Education, and a Report Card

Welp, I was going to talk about the Attorney General’s testimony to the Senate intelligence committee, but I couldn’t manage to keep my mind on the nonsense being spewed about. Lucky for us that Toni Williams could.

Today, Trump Administration Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss colluding with Russians or Russian interference in the 2016 Election or whatever whale excrement the Democrats are trying to peddle this news cycle. The Senators, especially Ron Wyden (Moron-OR) and Kamala Harris (Fool-CA), showed themselves to be disrespectful, small and bitter. It was so sad.

Although the Senate sees itself as “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body”, it has long been the home of gassy, windbags, pompous dolts, and unctuous twits. Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Patrick Moynihan may have been great Senators, but you wouldn’t want to live with them. Joe Biden and, not to speak ill of the dead, but they know it’s true, Arlen Specter and Ted Kennedy, pompous dolts.

Today, we have John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris and Ron Wyden as Senators on the Intelligence Committee. Dear God, I pray for our Republic. …

Yeah, me too. If you’d like a serious summary, not that Toni is wrong, mind, how about from John Hinderaker. Here is his final paragraph.

The Democrats are making fools of themselves. But that is what their base–black-masked “antifa” hoodlums, the New York Times, the Washington Post–wants, so no doubt it will continue for a while. Eventually, though, they will have to admit that their Russia investigation, an attempt to smear the Trump administration with whatever the Russian government may or may not have done, has come to nothing.

An excellent summary of how our tax money is being wasted on this nonsense. Best quote of the day, from AG Sessions.

This I’m afraid will result has already resulted in investigations and I fear that some people may find that they’ll wish they hadn’t leaked.

I certainly hope so.


A couple of things from the world of higher (?) education. From Chris Queen.

Oxford University – long held as one of the premier educational institutions in the world – is changing one of its core history exams in order to ensure that more women get the highest possible grade on the test.

One of Oxford’s five final-year history exams will be replaced by a paper that can be done at home to try to improve results for female students.

The move, which begins in the next academic year, comes as statistics showed 32% of women achieved a first in history at Oxford, compared with 37% of men.

Under the new exam structure, students most likely will be given similar questions to the existing exam, but rather than completing the test within a specifically designated time frame, students will have several days at home to finish.

University officials say that the “gender gap” was a major factor in considering the new exam, along with the fact that the new format would “reward research skills rather than memorisation, or performance under pressure.”

The decision isn’t without its controversy, however. Even the university admits that the risk of plagiarism grows with a take-home test. There’s no guarantee that students won’t collaborate, cheat, or seek outside help with the exam.

I’m very sure that my friends, including my co-blogger whose history degree is from Oxford, are thrilled with the University cheapening their accomplishment. But as all good leftists know, girls aren’t the equal of boys they need special help, only nasty conservatives think they can do the work without special consideration.

Then there is this, from Steven Hayward.

Colleges are all about teaching “critical thinking,” though in most places that is a mere euphemism for teaching “critical theory,” which is not the same thing. Quite the opposite: “critical theory” is the highly ideologized core of the academic left. And it shows.

News item:

Exclusive Test Data: Many Colleges Fail to Improve Critical-Thinking Skills

By Douglas Belkin

Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.

At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. (See full results.)

At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years. . .

For prospective students and their parents looking to pick a college, it is almost impossible to figure out which schools help students learn critical thinking, because full results of the standardized test, called the College Learning Assessment Plus, or CLA+, are seldom disclosed to the public. This is true, too, of similar tests.

Wonder why I am not surprised.


Just to finish off, a little short one from Ace’s on how a town in Ohio thinks Trump is doing. Follow the link and read the comments,  they’re the best part of AoSHQ.

Interestingly, the conservatives I speak with do not really consider Trump one of them. Rank-and-file Republicans tend to view Trump more as an independent who ran under the Republican banner.

But for the most part, they’re still with him. They appreciate Trump’s “America first” agenda, not because they believe in isolationism, but because they believe the U.S. and its citizens should be the government’s top priority.

The president’s tweets can be as annoying to his supporters as to his opponents, and if there is a common criticism it is that he should tweet less. But his inability so far to overhaul health care, enact tax reform, destroy the Islamic State or “drain the swamp” is largely blamed on overreaching courts and the open “resistance” that appears dedicated to opposing anything Trump wants.

For the record, I agree with the townspeople, and I’m getting very tired of the nonstop nonsense, both from the Democrats and the never-Trumpers, both of whom are beneath contempt.

Narratives and Terrorism

London police chief Cressida Dick

This is rather bizarre

London Police commissioner says nationalities of eight London Bridge victims tell a proud story of city’s diversity https://t.co/9msx7b7s4Spic.twitter.com/euPEDQknTM

— ABC News (@ABC) June 10, 2017

And yet, they weren’t particularly diverse, they were all from either Europe or the Anglosphere. London is lots more diverse than that. And everybody is aware that London is a world city, indeed it is the oldest of them, going well back into the nineteenth century.

“It’s desperately sad and poignant but among those who died is someone who’s British, there are French, Australian, Canadian, Spanish,” Cressida Dick told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday.

“In terms of our witnesses that we’ve spoken to so far, out of the 300-odd people, there are about 20 different countries of origin. And the London British population comes from all kinds of backgrounds and every kind of faith and ethnicity.”

She said longtime Londoners value this international aspect of the British capital.

“We believe of course that that’s what makes our city so great,” she said. “It’s a place where the vast majority of time it’s incredibly integrated and that diversity gives us strength.”

This is one of those times that what is getting reported is not exactly untrue, but so mundane as to be, “Well, so what?”

What Commissioner Dick did not report on, however, is the diversity of the attackers. Why? I have no idea, maybe because there was none. They like just about every known wolf attack in the last decade or so, were radical Islamists. But it is not PC to say so, so the British authorities won’t. Which has much to do with their inability to stop these attacks. How does one fight something one is afraid to identify. Well, one could establish a proxy.

This is the mayor of London

As always – give me more money. I dislike agreeing with Piers Morgan but he’s right, “What is more important?”

This maybe?

Priorities, don’t you know. Can’t be offending the Muslims, now the Christians that’s an entirely different matter, just ask the DUP.

Tom Blumer has a bit to add:

Sadly, almost no one in the press dares to observe the utter lack of diversity among terrorist attackers. As has almost invariably been the case since 9/11, those who carried out the two most recent UK attacks were Muslims with a jihadist mindset. That combination has proven itself to be the greatest current enemy of genuine diversity and ethnic and cultural camaraderie on earth.

Regarding the Manchester Arena bombing on May 22, which at last count has left 23 victims dead and 119 injured (23 critically), the facts are these:

  • The UK Telegraphreported that“Manchester bomber Salman Abedi took his twisted revenge out of ‘love for Islam’ after being radicalised by (an) Isil (Islamic State) preacher.”
  • 22 others were ultimately detained after the attack, but they were released without charges Sunday morning.
  • On May 24, the BBC described“a triangle of Islamist-jihadist connections between Manchester, Libya and Syria” which also may have influenced Abedi, even if one takes the unlikely view that he acted totally alone without anyone else having the first clue as to what he was up to.

Concerning the June 3 London Bridge attack, which at last count has left 8 victims dead and 48 injured (21 critically):

  • Attackers Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane, and Youssef Zaghba first “mounted the pavement at London Bridge and ploughed into pedestrians, knocking them down like skittles.” Then, after leaving the vehicle, they “began attacking passersby,” and “shouted ‘this is for Allah’, as they stabbed indiscriminately.”
  • 19 others have been arrested in connection with the attack, but 12 have already been released without charges.

Instead of uncritically taking dictation from London’s police chief, reporters like the AP’s Katz might consider looking into whether the quick releases of most of those arrested after these two attacks indicate that post-attack police “roundups” really represent a form of street theater designed to make it appear as if officials are accomplishing something when they really aren’t.

Returning to the main theme, there’s not a lot of precious “diversity” among the attackers because those involved never got the memo that there’s nothing wrong with racial and ethnic “diversity” in a society as long as its members buy into that society’s fundamental values.

The reason they never got the memo is that it hasn’t been sent to new arrivals in the UK and many other western nations for years.

To be honest, until we are willing to again send that memo, and enforce it. This is how life is going to be in the West.

 

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