Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Technology

China’s Failing Attempts to Censor the Internet

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 26, 2015:

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Internet censorship czar, Lu Wei, are learning that Princess Leia was right when she said in the movie Star Wars about extending increasing totalitarian political control, “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

When Wei visited Silicon Valley heavyweights last December, he noted that Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had an anthology of President Xi’s speeches on his desk. Included in that book was a speech in which Xi laid out his vision of the Chinese Internet: 

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Internet Freedom to Disappear on Thursday

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Thursday, February 26, 2015:

Ronald Reagan wearing cowboy hat at Rancho del...

Ronald Reagan was right:

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: if it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Tom Wheeler, the current FCC Chairman, doesn’t think that’s funny. He thinks they are his marching orders. Encouraged by his boss, Wheeler is reaching for the biggest hammer in his toolbox to bludgeon the internet into submission and turn it into a utility. On Thursday Wheeler will

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Hoplophobia Rampant in California

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 20, 2015:

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

What is it about California? When the blogger at SodaHead asked his audience: “California has the label – the land of fruits and nuts – Why?,” he got numerous responses, including perhaps the best one: “Someone tipped the continent and everything loose rolled here.”

Many of those loose parts found their way into the state’s legislature, which enacted a bill back in 2007 demanding gun manufacturers “microstamp” their guns before selling them, and then putting off the date of enactment until the technology caught up.

Along the way, the developer of the technology, Todd Lizotte, expressed his great concerns about that technology, writing in 2012 that

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Will this be OPEC’s Final Failed Gamble?

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 18, 2015: 

Cover of "The Prize: The Epic Quest for O...

Six years ago historian Daniel Yergin wrote in The Prize about OPEC’s failed gamble in 1986. The cartel tried to secure its preeminent place among the world’s oil producers by forcing crude oil prices down:

Was the price now poised for a great fall? Most of the exporters [primarily OPEC] thought so, but they expected no more than a drop [from more than $30 a barrel] to $18 or $20 a barrel, below which, they thought, production … would not be economical….

 

Actually, operating costs – the cash costs to extract oil – were only $6 per barrel [at the time], so there would be no reason to shut down production at any price above that.

The cartel was hoping to squeeze out marginal producers, which would result in cuts in supply, allowing it to raise prices at will. It didn’t work then, and it isn’t working now. The Saudis apparently suffer from an appalling lack of understanding about how the free market works.

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Re-fracking Old Wells Is Extending the Fracking Revolution

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 17, 2015:

English: A natural gas well (produces gas only...

A natural gas well

News that the oil industry is importing many of the new technologies developed by natural-gas producers, which led to steadily declining natural-gas prices, was greeted with great disappointment by at least one green group. Upon learning that fracking was not only a long way from disappearing in the face of declining oil prices but was actually on the verge of a resurgence, Sharon Wilson, a Texas organizer for Earthworks, told Bloomberg, “It’s terribly disappointing.”

It might be disappointing to Wilson, but

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Are Earthquakes in Texas Caused by Fracking?

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 10, 2015:

Seismologists from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the U.S. Geological Survey released a “preliminary” report last Friday that a series of minor earthquakes could be explained away as simply anomalies relating to a geological formation they just discovered. This report, however, gave renewed hope to anti-frackers that the earthquakes were caused by fracking activities in the Barnett Shale formation underneath Dallas and the suburb of Irving.

Brian Stump, one of the SMU seismologists, made it clear that any connection to fracking was premature:

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Police Have for Years Used Radar Scanners to See Into Homes

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 21, 2015:

After serving jail time for committing an armed robbery, Steven Denson was out on parole. When he failed to report to his parole officer, authorities, after an intensive search, were about to conclude that Denson was gone for good.

Eventually, however, they found that Denson had opened an account for utilities services in Wichita, Kansas. Police obtained an arrest warrant and went out to see if he was home. It had just snowed and they noted footprints in the backyard and the utility meter spinning, giving them reasonable cause to believe that Denson was home.

Just to make sure, however, one of the officers pulled out his

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Chris Hughes – Just the Man to Resuscitate The New Republic

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 12, 2014:

Chris Hughes at Hacking Education event

Chris Hughes

Chris Hughes is so smart that he once was caught reading the French author Honoré de Balzac, in the original French. He led a pampered life, first attending and graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and then moving on to get a BA degree at Harvard University.

His roommates at Harvard were Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg was fooling around with a computer program that would link Harvard students together online when Hughes suggested that the program be extended to other schools.

When Facebook was officially launched, Hughes became Zuckerberg’s spokesman, making himself wealthy in the process. In 2008, he helped a virtually unknown senator from Illinois get elected president by running a social network website for him called

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The New Republic Magazine: New Format, Same Old Socialism

English: Chris Hughes Website

Chris Hughes, The New Republic’s new owner

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, December 9, 2014: 

 

The announcement late last week by top staffers at The New Republic (TNR) magazine that they were resigning to protest its “new direction” was met with rejoicing on the Right and consternation and anger on the Left.

In his subscription newsletter, Gary North called it “great news,” noting that the magazine had “always been a mouthpiece of the American left.” Wrote North:

The disappearance of The New Republic is part of a trend. Part of the trend is the shift from printed to digital communications. The Left has not made the transition. The other part is the shift away from traditional American liberalism.

On the Left, establishment journalist Dana Milbank, a graduate of Yale University (where he was a member of Skull and Bones), and later the author of a polemic biography of Glenn Beck, took it personally. He attacked TNR’s new owner, Chris Hughes, calling him “a dilettante and a fraud.” He explained the reason for the mass exodus: 

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Gun Sales Triple on Black Friday

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, November 30, 2104:

The national media were full of reports from retailers of Black Friday consumers driving sales to record levels, with some retailers estimating sales jumping 15 to almost 40 percent over last year. Consumers not only took advantage of specials being offered the day after Thanksgiving, but in many cases even shopped on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps foregoing a little turkey and football in the process.

It’s called Black Friday for a very good reason:

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George Mitchell: the one man most Likely Missing from Thanksgiving Day lists

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 28, 2014:

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a safe bet that Americans, in compiling their list of blessings for which they were most thankful on Thanksgiving Day, didn’t put George Mitchell at the top. It’s even safer to bet that most Americans don’t even know who he was, or how his life has made life better for nearly every American today.

The Economist had it right: “Few businesspeople have done as much to change the world as George Mitchell.” The founder of Mitchell Energy & Development Company located in Galveston, Texas, Mitchell was responsible for drilling more than 10,000 natural gas wells and, in the process, resetting the world’s energy equation.

Although he passed away over a year ago at the age of 94, Mitchell’s advances in fracking technology are continuing to delight American drivers with

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Taxi Union Flexes Its Muscle, Shuts Down San Francisco International Airport

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, November 20, 2014: 

International Terminal of San Francisco Intern...

International Terminal of San Francisco International Airport

Stung by increasing competition from ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, independent taxi drivers in San Francisco — where Uber got its start in the summer of 2010 — decided to do something about it: They joined a union. And the first thing that union did was what unions always do: They conducted a “work stoppage” — right in front of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) — with more than 600 taxis blocking traffic, honking their horns and flashing their lights from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday night, while refusing to pick up passengers.

Most unions are wont to picket employers, hoping to blackmail them into

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Fracking Boom and the Development of America’s Energy Resources

This article will appear as the cover story in the next issue of The New American print magazine:

Travis Wright’s first impressions of Williston, North Dakota, in January 2012 remain vivid. It was bitter cold and the Walmart parking lot was filled to overflowing with campers and RVs whose owners were using them as de facto homes while working in the oil fields. Once inside Walmart, Travis discovered pallets of goods blocking the aisles as the understaffed nighttime crew of stockers simply couldn’t keep up with demand. He quickly learned to do his shopping in the middle of the night when the lines were only 30 minutes long. He learned later that this Walmart in Williston was the highest-grossing one in North America. The local economy was booming to such an extent that even paying $17 an hour for entry-level jobs, store officials couldn’t find enough employees to work for that amount.

Travis — at 6′6″ and 280 pounds, his friends called him Big ‘Un — was also astonished to learn

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The Inevitable Demise of the OPEC Cartel

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Sunday, October 26, 2014: 

English: Flag of the Organization of Petroleum...

Flag of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

Following the death of Total SA’s CEO, Christophe de Margerie, on October 20, OPEC sent this letter to the board of the multinational oil and gas company expressing sorrow over the loss:

It is with the deepest regret that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) learned of the tragic death of Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and Chief Executive Office of French oil major, Total SA, who died when his corporate jet struck a snow plough on a runway at Moscow’s Ynukovo airport late on Monday 20 October.

Missing from the letter was any mention of the demise of OPEC, which has been slowly imploding for years. Recent events have significantly speeded up the process, which

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Robots Everywhere

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 10, 2014:

First generation Roomba (Roomba is a trademark...

First generation Roomba (Roomba is a trademark of iRobot). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next wave of technological robots is here. When the Roomba iRobot made its grand entrance a few years ago, it was considered clever but expensive. Now, however, it is taking a big bite out of the $12 billion annual vacuum cleaner business as its technology continues to improve and its prices come down. According to Roomba, there is

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Robotic Pizza Delivery, Banking, and Now Over-the-road Trucking

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 9, 2014:

Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines

Last month, Mercedes-Benz unveiled its “Future Truck 2025,” an essentially driverless over-the-road tractor-trailer rig that the company expects will revolutionize the trucking industry within the next 10 years, if not sooner. While only a prototype, the company is investing millions in the concept expecting that inside the next decade driverless rigs will be commonplace not only in the United States but across the world.

The advantages are obvious:

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Saudi Arabia Capitulates, Cuts Oil Prices

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, October 65, 2014:

Saudi Arabia’s announcement last week that it was cutting prices to its Asian, European, and US customers by between $.40 and $1.00 a barrel represents a major capitulation and recognition of reality. It also represents a major departure in its role as the leading member of the OPEC cartel, proving once again that every cartel eventually blows up as its members seek their own interests over those of the cartel.

For decades, the role of the OPEC cartel has been to protect the cash flow of its members by manipulating oil prices through changes in production levels. If prices got too high and demand started falling as a result, the cartel would increase the supply of crude to the world markets. If prices got too low, on the other hand, it would gladly restrict those supplies to bring prices back up to a level acceptable to the cartel.

Those days now appear to be over.

By bringing its prices down below prices charged by OPEC member Qatar and non-OPEC member Oman, Saudi Arabia is setting the stage for an international oil price war. Futures traders, who have gotten hammered as crude oil prices have dropped almost 20% since June, are holding their collective breath to see if Qatar and Oman jump ship and reduce their prices as well. Energy analysts like John Kilduff with Again Capital are estimating that crude oil prices will consequently drop to the low $80s, while Fadal Gheit at Oppenheimer is predicting prices dropping into the low $70s. Gheit explained:

It’s both supply and demand. It’s basically the perfect storm that brought all these prices down. You have plenty of supply, which you never thought possible, and all of a sudden demand is shrinking: China is slowing down [and] Europe never recovered.

Gheit is a realist. He stated what every observer already knows: the OPEC cartel “is held together by scotch tape. They hate each other.” Now that the leader of the pack has decided to leave the pack, it’s going to be much easier for other OPEC members to join the fray and drive prices down even further.

Part of that perfect storm is the shale oil fracking revolution that has driven crude oil production in the United States to levels not seen in 50 years. Part of it is Russia’s increase in crude oil production to nearly post-Soviet era records as well. In addition, production from Kurdistan over the next 15 months is expected to more than provide China’s increased demands for energy, thus assuring that world supply will continue, in the short run at least, to outpace world demand.

Saudi Arabia’s admission of reality is already having welcome impacts. Gas prices in the United States have fallen to $3.32 a gallon on average, with more than half the states having at least one gas station selling gas for less than $3 a gallon. It’s also pulling the legs out from under the foreign policy justification of adventurism abroad in order to protect the supply of energy which America is now almost capable of providing all by herself.

As prices decline, consumers are able to redirect spending into other areas, helping along the modest economic recovery from the Great Recession. It may also prove to skeptics that, once again, Warren Buffett is right. His much ballyhooed announcement of his purchase of Van Tuyl Group, the nation’s largest US auto dealership chain, should help his company, Berkshire Hathaway, ride the wave of cheaper gas and the consequent willingness of customers to replace their aging fleet of vehicles with new ones.

It is possible, however, that prices may drop too far, causing capital that is currently flooding into the energy exploration business to go elsewhere where it will be treated better in the years to come. As Stephen Leeb, a writer at Forbes, put it: “It takes energy to get energy.” In the early 1950s, it took the energy from one barrel of oil to harvest five barrels. Today, because of improvements in technology, it takes about one barrel to produce nine in conventional fields.

But in unconventional fields – i.e., shale oil fracking – it takes the energy of one barrel of oil to discover, develop, and lift just four barrels, which, according to State University of New York Professor Charles Hall, isn’t enough to keep America’s modern industrial society operating at peak efficiency. The proper ratio, according to Hall, is that one barrel of energy must generate at least five barrels of new production, preferably more.

If the Old Farmers Almanac’s prognostications are correct, the US should enjoy another relatively mild winter, reducing chances of a spike in demand that would drive crude oil prices higher. For the time being then, Saudi Arabia’s capitulation and potential blowing up of OPEC will be enjoyed by American drivers and consumers. In the longer run, however, capital may be redirected away from the oil patch to more profitable areas if the price of crude stays too low, too long. In the meantime, America will once again enjoy the view from the catbird seat.

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Sources:

Commerzbank: ‘OPEC Appears to Be Gearing Up for Price War’

CNBC: Saudi signals price skirmish as oil heads to bear market

Bloomberg: Brent Oil Falls to Lowest Since June 2012 on Ample Supply

The Old Farmers Almanac: 2014–2015 Winter Weather Forecast Map (U.S.)

Forbes: Dangerous Times As Energy Sources Get Costlier To Extract

Auto Blog: Warren Buffet buys largest private US car dealership chain

Fracking Revolution: U.S. Replaces OPEC as World’s “Swing Producer”

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, October 1, 2014: 

 

After reviewing the numbers from America’s oil and gas patches, Per Magnus Nysveen of Rystad, an international oil consultancy in Norway, declared that the United States is now taking on the role of “swing producer” that used to be played by Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC, the oil producers’ cartel.

Those numbers are impressive. Fracking technology has led to a 65-percent increase in U.S. crude oil output in just the last six years and, according to Wood Mackenzie,

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The Privacy Pendulum is Swinging back Towards Freedom

With Apple’s announcement of its new iPhone 6 10 days ago also came the announcement of an upgrade of its operating software – the iOS 8 – that now makes it impossible for law enforcement to break the code and retrieve the phone’s private information, even if it has a search warrant. On its website, Apple said:

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Luddites Foiled Again: low-cost Robots Making Workers more Efficient

This article was first published at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 19, 2014:

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus Fernandez got nervous when his company installed 21 new Universal Robots that were supposed to make his life easier and safer by helping him move parts in and out of its metal-cutting machines. At $20,000 apiece, the robots threatened to replace him altogether, or so he thought: “At first, I had doubts the robots could do what I did, moving the parts around, handling the parts.” But he timed himself against one of them and concluded: “I’m fast, but the robots are faster.” Fernandez accepted the new technology and now operates three of the so-called collaborative machines, reducing labor costs for his company while simultaneously increasing his take-home pay.

Fernandez’s boss, Gregg Panek, president of Panek Precision, Inc., a machine shop in Northbrook, Illinois, said one of the reasons for the improved efficiency is “because

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.