Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Energy Question of the Week

If nuclear power is so volatile and dangerous; why is it that none of the Darth Vader wannabee dictators of ass backward countries like Iran, North Korea and China have had a nuclear accident from building their own power plant/weapons refinery that has blown themselves to kingdom come?

Could it be that Jane Fonda was blowing smoke up our collective asses with the China Syndrome and nuclear power is overall much safer than she and Homer Simpson would have us believe?

There have been seventeen “Major” nuclear power accidents in the past fifty-six years. While that is one every three years, we are talking about one every three years or so this is a world-wide list. Sure the ominous fear of the nuclear bogyman is in the back of everyone’s mind but let’s come up with a list of things more dangerous than nuclear power:
  • Operating farm machinery: 350 deaths per year
  • Having Surgery: 500 deaths per year
  • Gasses emitted from everyday appliances: 700 deaths per year
  • Getting shot: 1,500 deaths per year
  • Eating (and chocking on food): 33,00 deaths per year
  • Being in a burning building: 37,000 deaths per year
  • Drowning: 4,000 deaths per year
  • Poisonings/allergic reactions: 8,600 deaths per year
  • Falling down (altitude dependent): 14,900 deaths per year
  • Driving (and crashing into something): 43,200 deaths per year

So there’s 10 ways you’re more likely to die than from having a nuclear power plant nearby.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Race For The Cure: I Haven’t Seen So Many Guys Wear Pink Since The 80’s

So I ran the Race for the Cure on Saturday. Among other things it was a sobering reminder of how much I used to be in shape. Back in college the slowest guy on the team was nicknamed “Chuck” and if he beat you, you got “Chucked”. The slowest guy in the conference went to another school and though we didn’t know his name getting beat by him would have been exponentially more embarrassing.

Given my time on Saturday, that would have happened to me.

Personal Note:
Add Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” to my iPod.
I was supposed to run with my girlfriend (Hi, Sweetie!) but she got a job playing toilet paper Wheel of Fortune at the Quilted Northern booth. So I ran solo.

I started out in the 7 minute pace group and actually hit that pace dead on for the first mile, as designated by a water station. I felt good, I was talking to other people in the pack… but I had no idea where the second mile was. Someone shouted out “Mile 2” at one point but there was nothing designating it as such. I checked my watch and I was a minute slower for the second mile. Still I had no idea where I was going and by the time I got to the second water station I wasn’t sure if this was the REAL second mile.

Having no idea how much further to go I was completely off my pace. Until I passed the Nationwide building on High Street. There were about 100 Harley-Davidson motorcycles all running with their drivers revving their engines as the runners went by.

Is there anything more Genuinely American than that thunderously loud, all-American gas burning, steak grilling flag-waving Harley engine roar? I don’t think I’ve ever been so pumped up at that point of a race in my life. I started running faster.

Then again it may have been I just wanted to not breathe in so many exhaust fumes.

Of course once I was out of earshot of the thunderous rumble I fell off my pace once more because I had no idea how far away the finish line was.

I ended the race nowhere near my 20-22 minute goal which means I should try running more often than say once every two weeks.

After the race I had fun getting all the freebies. I stopped at the Quilted Northern booth first to spin the prize wheel that Krystle was operating. I won the cheesiest prize and was promptly told to “go get me free samples”.

The nice thing was that Value City and The James Cancer Hospital were giving out little tote bags so that made grabbing Tava water and Caribu Coffee samples much easier. Once I had filled both bags with freebies I came back to the Quilted Northern booth and spun the wheel again. This time I won a 6 pack of toilet paper… er, um I mean bathroom tissue. I was quickly told “Bring that over I’m out!” by my girlfriend/both operator.

It was a good time, great weather and over 40,000 people turned out for the event. However, a comedian whom I cannot accurately site right now said it best when he said “I wish they would cure cancer already so we didn’t have to run so many 5k’s!”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I Was Right!

I was right!

Well I was… and I can prove it. You see proving your right on matters of opinion is done in one of two ways:
A prediction that comes true
Someone wiser than you coming to the same conclusion

The latter happened this week when it was confirmed by a consensus of two (the same size as Al Gore’s consensus but much better thought out) that oil prices are a result of supply and demand. I noted this on Monday with my blog “So Oil Prices are High, Here’s How It Should Work” and the next day Dr. Thomas Sowell, PhD in his column “Too Complex? Part III”. Furthermore today Walter E. Williams Professor of Economics at George Mason University properly places the blame for the lack of supply on out ever meddling government!

Does this mean I’m smart enough to have a PhD? Well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusion!

Monday, May 12, 2008

So Oil Prices are High, Here’s How It Should Work

Oil Prices have been on a steady incline specifically since Hurricane Katrina gave us our first dose of $3.00 + gasoline. That was a capacity issue, which eventually was resolved. There are a number of factors involved in how we got to the price of $126 per barrel including:
  • Industrialization of China and India
  • Political strains with Venezuela
  • Speculative buying of oil futures
Now some commentators, more ideological than myself, will claim that the price really shot up after the Democrats took control of the House and Senate in 2007. While a great way of shifting blame, the most immediate wag of the finger is not necessarily the correct one.

The way economics works, as I have learned at the dinner table every day growing up by my father the Economist, as well as 5 semesters at a private Liberal Arts school in Northwest Ohio, is there are two basic factors: Supply and Demand. As supply goes up or down, demand goes the opposite. Ergo if supply is high, there is little demand. If supply is low, there his high demand. These two factors meet at a point called equilibrium.

Right now the oil demand is high, this is represented by the price of $126 per barrel. This is the equilibrium point as the supply and demand have come together at a price that benefits both the supplier and demander.

Now oil has been around for a while. It wasn’t that long ago that oil was only $10 per barrel. So if it is possible to drill for and extract oil for $10 per barrel, it must be extremely profitable to do this at $126 per barrel. Exxon-Mobile shareholders know this is true.

Under normal circumstances the oil companies would then take their profits, knowing that it is still financially worth their while to drill more wells to get more of this $126 per barrel oil on the market. When prices are high for a particular product, it behooves you to sell as much of it as you can.

The consequence of this is when you increase supply, the demand suddenly goes down and all of a sudden your $126 per barrel oil may only be worth $80 or $90. It may seem silly for a company to do this, but by not doing it they run a risk of pricing themselves out of business. Then we would have no oil at all.

Some argue that the supply side of the equation had dwindled to the point that we must seek alternatives. They are half right. The blame for the lack of supply falls on our government. Passed by multiple congresses, and signed by Presidents Clinton and Bush 41 there is a moratorium on US off-shore drilling.

A recent report states that there is enough domestic Oil to run 60 million cars for 60 years. I’m sure Exxon-Mobile, Chevron and Valvoline would love to help provide us with more than enough oil. The free market demands they do it.

However while the invisible hand guides the free market the invisible foot of government trips it up!