Twitchy Telepathy

One of the cool things in sports is mind-melding with your team. Knowing where your receiver is likely heading is of course key, but there is also planning a play, in real-time. Sometimes you can just feel someone specific is watching you for a signal of what to do next. Such signals have to be very subtle for the defense to miss them, and be readable 20 to 40 yards away.

In the LA summer league, we were playing with a friend of Michelle from college, Frankie. I was taking a dead disc from out of bounds and walking back to the field to restart play. The stack was already setup, but I could feel Frankie’s eye on me, looking for a set play. I twitched my head slightly to the left; just a tiny thing that the defense would not notice. As soon as the defense tapped in to restart play, I stepped way out to the left and broke the mark with a beautiful curving flick. I sent a floater to give Frankie more time to read and make the catch but it wasn’t necessary. Frankie burst out of the stack with a hard sprint to the area I had indicated, catching his defender completely off-guard; Frankie actually had to slow up a bit at the end for the disc to come down.

A similar event was with one of Michelle’s traveling teams. I was pretty much retired from competitive play, but they were doing a beach tourney in LA, so I tagged along for some 3rd string, backup handler work. This play was also with a dead disc, out of bounds on the right side of the field, a few steps from the endzone line. The defense can do a nice job here because the space is so small. As I walked up to the line I could again feel one guy was intently watching me, hoping for a signal. I went again with the head twitch to the left, but this time I used an overhead scoober throw: a tricky one to throw but you can float it to space nicely and by going over the mark it completely destroys their endzone defense. As soon as the disc was tapped in, I quickly faked a backhand throw to the force side; that tiny endzone corner that people try to hit but is easy for the defense to disrupt. Then I rose up and did a no-look scoober over the mark, lofting it high so my receiver had more time to make the catch: an important factor in both beach games (the sand slows down runners) and for the ‘just in case he didn’t see my signal’ situation.

He made a huge fake cut to the force side: basically a big jump for the first step. That got his defender moving a bit to my right for a bit of separation, which is all you need in beach play. My receiver then used that big first step/leap as his dig-in for the true cut to my left. Once again I didn’t need to have floated it; the receiver was there in a heartbeat for an easy catch. As we lined up for the next point he grinned at me and said “I think that’s your best throw” which isn’t true, but felt really good anyways. 😉

The Munich Miracle

A throw I’ve rarely tried has long been on my ‘gotta have’ list: the inside-out backhand break-mark throw. While we were living in Munich, we started playing pickup Ultimate again, and even a few tournaments. It had been years since I retired from Ultimate and it felt great dusting off the throws again! Pickup plus lots of drilling brought my throws back up to the Masters tournament level and I was just loving the game there. Once I worked my way back into shape, the other side often used the “don’t let Larry get the disc” strategy; a real mark of respect that I still had game. There were many memorable throws, and beers, at the English Garden pickup & beer stand field! The best was pulling off the dream shot.

I had gotten the disc around mid-field, on the far right sideline. My friend Toby knew exactly what I wanted, which was a simple, straight huck to the receiver on my right. Toby correctly faded hard to that side and shut down that option entirely. But he was slightly out of position for a break-mark throw to the left. My lizard hindbrain connected the barely-open throw to the left with a new receiver playing that day. We’d only done a bit of warmup throw&catch, but he impressed me as someone who knew what he was doing, and he was sprinting towards the far-left endzone corner. Mister lizard and the master brain simultaneously reached the same conclusion: try the inside-out break mark. My receiver did have a lengthy defender on him, and they were already nearing the front of the endzone, so making a catchable throw, in-bounds, that the defender couldn’t reach, was going to be really tough. Muscle memory kicked in at that point: I couldn’t even see the receiver. All I could do was fire at where his last trajectory looked like where he was heading: the back-left cone of the endzone. Fortunately the defender was on the inside; unfortunately, that left me with a target area about 3 steps in diameter, with tricky timing. The disc went out of bounds across the left sideline, then curved back in towards the back of the end zone. Blam! I hit him head-height, on his last-possible step to stay inbounds. The defender made a good play, but just couldn’t reach the corner over the receiver. I tend not to show much emotion when playing but I couldn’t keep in a primal scream of pleasure at pulling off the tricky, dream-world throw. 😉

The Frozen Rope

The fastest, straightest & longest throw I’ve ever done in 25+ years, or seen live, and a great example of body memory in decision making. This was after the wrecked knee incident, so I’d done a lot of practice work to turn me from a receiver into a thrower, but my athleticism was still limited, so we were only doing a local league in Berkeley. The night lights made reading a distant receiver’s speed difficult, but I caught a glimpse of Michelle in heavy traffic, making a deep cut.

This is a bad throwing choice. She’d be out of the endzone soon, with a lot of bodies in the way, and the range was a risky ~70 yards in the first place. But sometimes your body ‘feels’ it is do’able, outside the stream of conscious thought, and pulls the trigger before you can tell it “bad idea.” And that disc just moved! Flat & straight, cutting thru traffic before people can react. I could just make out Michelle trying to reach it, and I started to curse myself. She’d have to layout to make the catch, the disc was almost out the back of the endzone anyways, and Michelle doesn’t routinely layout. But without a second of hesitation, Michelle made a great dive and used her famous trailing edge catch to snag the disc, dragging her feet to stay in bounds! People just stared. 🙂

Hawaii throws

Michelle’s team had snagged an invite for the highly desirable Hawaiian Kaimana tournament! They always have a Spirit team for pickup players without a team, so I tagged along. I was still in the intense training phase as I converted myself to a handler, and I was feeling my oats; eager to try my stuff against top players from around the globe.

Things started very rocky! We went a few days earlier for some beach vacation time and I signed up for surfing lessons. I got up on my first try, thanks to the agility drills I’d been doing for months. But… Paddling the board back out into the surf was overworking my poor rugby shoulder to the point where I was worried about being able to use the arm during the tourney and needed to stop. The instructor thought I was wussing out, but when he realized how big the tourney is, he offered to redo the lessons after the tourney; nice guy! Then things went further downhill… 

They allow you to camp on the state beach for the duration of the event; very cool! But as we headed over to the tourney, walking hand in hand, poor Michelle’s little toe got stuck on my sandal as we turned the corner. I snapped it like a twig… Michelle is her own type of crazy, so she decided to just jam her foot into the cleats before the swelling started, then just not take the shoe off! 

Hawaii gave me four favorite throws to savor. An elegant, bang on target scoober felt just perfect as I threw it, and it was the perfect use case for a scoober: up & over several defenders and into the gut of a cutting receiver in the end zone. The disc had perfect spin and turned over at just the right spot to make it an easy catch. Which the receiver promptly dropped! Turned out he had been ‘competing’ last night to win the party; that is, be the last one to leave. He was too tired & hungover to even warm up!

The two throws that actually worked were both full field hucks (deep throws); plays that we had set up. The first was the longest, cleanest inside-out backhand I’ve ever thrown. We took the disc off a pull and set our offence. A very simple play: I stayed back as a dump, the handler faked a look at an incoming cutter to freeze the defense, then the real cutter started a dead sprint to the endzone. I got the disc back about 10 yards from our own endzone and took a short windup, using a technique I learned from Jordan and Mark. I cranked that disc hard, ripping it across my gut and snapping for the curve. You can often instantly feel if a throw is good or not and this one felt amazing. I was on the right third of the field when I threw; the disc went out of bounds on the wide side, then started to curve back in after passing the half-field marker. My receiver was just booking it himself, but I started to worry a bit; he had a long way to go and the disc had already started the curve back inside. Full credit to the receiver though! He said he could make it; he just needed to know where I was going to place it. I told him I’d put a big curve on it to give him a little more time, I was targeting the exact middle of the endzone, and it would come in from his left. I held my breath for the final few seconds. The disc was going a few yards deeper into the endzone than I had planned and dropping fast; it looked like it was going to hit my teammate in the legs, not the chest. He made a great decision: instead of bending down and trying a low catch, he slid into the catch on his knees, and the disc smacked hard into his gut for the score.

The other huck was also a called play. We had a receiver with good ups so we set a simple huck & chase. I took the pull just outside our end zone and immediately ripped a backhand throw. Really pretty throw. Flat as a pancake, an easy read and going fast enough to beat out the defenders. Our guy did a simple straight up sprint and the disc dropped nicely, a few steps inside their end zone, for the score. Nothing fancy, but one of the defenders walking back muttered “nice rip” as I went by. Getting a matter of fact statement like that, from a Worlds-level player, meant a lot to me! 

CO2 & 30 Trillion Horses (a thought experiment)

This piece is about a YouTube video that claimed to have proof that climate change is a myth. It accuses Greens of only quoting small samples of time to show climate change. It also covers the ‘500 scientists’ letter/scam to the UN. 

Let’s see if we can agree on what time period is relevant. Here is the past 1,000 years of the two most important variables: temperature & C02. It captures the rise of the industrial revolution (the key forcing factor) and is long enough that local minima problems don’t exist. And here is something further back, based on ice cores. And here is one with human population against C02 levels. Sediment data gives us data even further back.

Carbon emissions and human population, 1751-2013. Data are from CDIAC and Graphic: James P. Galasyn


They clearly show long-term trends that break the normal shifts in climate. They also show the root of the problem: exponential growth in population, and the importance of the industrial revolution.

Then let’s try a thought experiment on the climate impact of the industrial revolution. There are 1.4 Billion cars in the world. Assume an average horsepower of 100. That’s 100 Billion horse-equivalents pushing new C02 into the atmosphere, every day. The 7.5 Billion people in the world consume over 21 Trillion kilowatt hours each year; that’s about 27 Trillion more horses pumping CO2 from power plants. There are over 50,000 container ships worldwide, each at 100,000 horsepower. Planes: 39,000 more, also at thousands of horsepower per plane.

So you’re telling me that adding over 30 Trillion horses to our environment, for hundreds of years, will not have an impact?

Let’s try shaving with Occam’s razor. It is clear that somebody is lying on the topic of climate change. But who, and why? The video you forwarded uses the “conspiracy to overthrow democratic governments” theory; that there is a shadow group, worldwide, who is manipulating things to scare people into a global government. Surely if such a group existed, they could find an easier way? And nobody has squealed on them yet, worldwide?

On the other side, we have billionaires and massive corporations who have their entire fortunes tied up in fossil fuels. If renewables take off, they are no longer the richest people on the planet. They provably hire places like the Heartland Institute to pump out misdirection and outright lies to introduce Doubt, just like the same group did for the Tobacco industry about the risks of smoking.

Which group do you think is more likely to be lying? A world conspiracy of scientists forge data in a plot to take over the world? But are exposed by a plucky group of oil companies and billionaires? Really?

Comparing the science on the two sides:
Over 30,000 climate scientists who work at the highest level in the field say climate change is a serious problem.
The most recent counter (a letter sent to the UN) 500 “scientists and professionals from related fields” say it is not.

So let’s look deeper at the two groups. The climate scientists who say “serious problem” had to pass the highest bar in research papers: publishing their work in peer-reviewed journals.

The “not a problem” petition has no bar. Of the 500 signatories, only a handful have a background in climate science, with the majority being writers, engineers and geologists with no direct expertise in the field. Note that this argument says “I’m right because scientists agree with me.” Why then would you believe 500 scientists versus the over 30,000 scientists who say increased C02 equals increased heat”?

The UN letter is headed by G. Berkhout; an acoustics engineer from the oil and gas industry. Of the visible signers, C. Monckton, a prominent denier has a degree in classics, not science. R. Berger is a geologist from the tar sands & shale side of the oil business. Terry Dunleavy is a former journalist, also with no qualifications. Viv Forbes is a geologist from the coal industry.

Their letter is embarrassingly bad. It basically hopes the reader doesn’t know how Google, or basic logic, works. Claiming that palm oil plantations that destroy orangutan habitat means renewables are bad is just stupid when you remember that The Whole Point Is To Stop Burning Things That Generate CO2! The typical ‘windmills kills birds’ forgets to mention that Oil Kills More.

C02 is a very stable molecule, so the effects are cumulative over hundreds of years. Some excess C02 does get absorbed beyond the normal C02/oxygen cycle, but note that a warming ocean can hold less C02. CO2 is also a proven greenhouse gas: it retains heat. Humans ‘only’ add about 29 gigatons of CO2 per year, vs the 750 gigatons moving through the carbon cycle each year, but the thing is, there is nowhere for most of it to go! So 29 GT per year adds up pretty quickly: one hundred years worth is 2,900 GT! And we increase the amount of C02 we produce each year, so the curve is actually worse than that. You can run an experiment yourself to show that CO2 retains heat. Yes, the sun and orbital conditions provide new heat, but because CO2 retains heat, we keep more heat that we used to and it all adds up…

You are right in that models are dependent on data, and thus are more decision aids than facts. The thing is, all major models have been back-validated (also called hindcasting), where you plug in the initial conditions from history, then simulate forward. You get something pretty close, which is the best you can do with a model of chaotic systems. I used to work for DARPA in simulation, so I am always skeptical of models too 😉 But if you run the models without the additional C02 factor, you get something wildly different. So clearly CO2 is important.

You are also right in that it is hard to buck the trend in journals. But there has been 50 years of open debate, and analysis. In the 1970’s there were 42 peer-reviewed papers suggesting a warming trend, and 7 predicted a cooling trend. The most recent literature survey, over the past ten years, shows 13,950 peer-reviewed papers, with a 99.99% chance of humans being the causal factor (24 dissenting papers). That’s 33,690 scientists putting their reputations on the line, not just staying silent out of fear.

I would argue that an open debate period of 50 years is enough to come to a working conclusion.

Here’s a longer one: 400,000 years, to capture the Milankovitch cycles and other naturally occurring conditions.

Graph of the Day: Carbon emissions and human population, 1751-2013




Windmills vs Oil: health issues, bird kill, rare earth elements, lithium batteries & cradle-to-grave cost/benefit

There is a valid question on windmills affecting health. So far, nothing definitive has been found. The interesting question is how does wind stack up against oil for health issues?

“It’s not that we don’t believe that people aren’t feeling well or aren’t sleeping well,” […] “What we don’t know is how that is related to presence or absence of a wind turbine.”

My wife, for example, totally hates the sight of wind turbines! I think they look cool in the distance, but are imposing up close.…/can-wind-turbines-make-you-sick/

“[A negative placebo] effect may be driving people’s reported problems is backed up by a 2014 study that pointed out that health complaints are more common in areas with the most negative publicity about the alleged harmful effects of turbines. A large-scale population survey in the Netherlands found that reports of stress and sleep disturbance were more common in areas where the turbines were visible.”

““We were not against the turbines before they went in [but after] we were dizzy, had vertigo like you wouldn’t believe,” […] One theory from residents as to why these effects don’t show up in the studies is that the Vermont mountains funnel the sound in a way that the flatlands of the Midwest do not. Others say some people may just be more susceptible than others to the inaudible noise, like sea sickness.”

” the closer the respondents lived to wind turbines the lower they ranked the quality of life of their environment. The original study found no link between sound levels and these quality of life ratings. Though because there is no baseline data for the sample, […]it’s difficult to distinguish whether respondents were dissatisfied before the wind turbines were installed.

“But it does suggest that there’s something other than sound itself that influences those perceptions,”

Fossil fuels: 52,000 premature deaths per year, costing nearly $5 billion

Workers are 4x more likely to get hurt than the average US worker. Coal particulates: linked to the 4 major forms of cancer in the US, and countless respiratory problems. “Circulatory, respiratory, central nervous system, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and urogenital issues, as well as birth defects are elevated in coal-mining regions.”

[fracking] can introduce unsafe levels of naturally occurring toxins, radioactive materials, and toxic heavy metals into drinking water. Fracking also increases toxic smog composed of volatile organic compounds (VOCs, or hazardous air pollutants). A study published in the journal Science Advances of over 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania over nearly a decade found that women who lived within two miles of a fracking site were more likely to give birth to low-weight babies.

“Chemicals used in the natural gas extraction process and stored in open-air waste pits are hazardous to the lungs, liver, kidneys, blood, and brain.

Exposure to toxic chemicals like benzene and n-hexane from crude oil spills can cause chronic mental, physical, and physiological health effects in local residents and cleanup workers.”

” 12.6 million Americans are exposed daily to toxic air pollution from active oil and gas wells and from transport and processing facilities. These include benzene (linked to childhood leukemia and blood disorders) and formaldehyde (a cancer-causing chemical). A booming fracking industry will bring that pollution to more backyards, despite mounting evidence of the practice’s serious health impacts. Mining operations are no better, especially for the miners themselves, generating toxic airborne particulate matter. “

Sulfur, mercury, car smog on a hot day, I could go on, but to not use wind in our energy mix because some, not all, people are getting headaches and can’t sleep is fixable: we don’t locate them too near people. The far, far bigger health problems of fossil fuels is a much bigger problem that has no solution. If we fold in the health effects of global warming, yikes, do fossil fuels look just terrible.…/can-wind-turbines-make-you-sick/…/the-localized-health…/


Windmills vs oil: birds & resource footprint

Rare earth elements: used 20x more in the oil industry than wind! And much of the extraction industry, including oil, also concentrates radioactive waste 🙂

“Rare earths were in a list of 35 minerals deemed critical to U.S. security and economic prosperity”

  • Protected by the Trump administration, and thus exempted from the trade war
  • Used in oil production, medical equipment, military gear and consumer electronics

Global REE consumption by energy application per year:

  • Fluid Cracking Catalysts: 35,000 (used in the oil industry)
  • Wind Turbine Magnets: 2,000 (the one they are whining about)
  • Transportation: Diesel Additives 200 (oil)
  • Transportation: Hybrid Vehicles 9300 (oil/electric)
  • Transportation: Catalytic Converters 5100 (oil)

Bird Kill: oil kills 6x more each year from waste pits, spills and collisions (even more if you count air pollution deaths), and one research paper ranked turbine kill “biologically insignificant” at a major wind farm on a major migration route.

“TENORM is NORM in which the concentration or availability of radionuclides has been enhanced by anthropogenic activities such as mining or utilization. Examples include the scale buildup in piping used in oil production that contains elevated concentrations of radium and its decay products, or fly ash from burning coal.” [and REE]

I get why Trump exempted REEs from the trade war: they are used in a lot of important things, not just wind, like laptops, military gear and medical equipment. But that’s why I’d rather he subsidize the US producer; long-term, the world needs a 2nd source of this critical resource, which in turn pressures China to clean up.

This is an interesting paper on the topic: it covers the China and US REE mines, radiation from mining in general and China REE radiation specifically, and uses of REEs overall.

“TENORM is NORM in which the concentration or availability of radionuclides

has been enhanced by anthropogenic activities such as mining or utilization. Examples include the scale buildup in piping used in oil production that contains elevated concentrations of radium and its decay products, or fly ash from burning coal.” And of course REEs.

“Of Bayan Obo’s thorium content, 96%–98% ends up in solid waste, 0.1%–0.5% leaves in exhaustgas, and 0.6%–2.0% goes to liquid effluents”

So it really shouldn’t be a problem corralling the solid waste, but because nobody cares about the environment in China, they have a waste water problem. This is what lets them undercut the US REE mine; the US requires cleaning up.


Another attempt by the oil industry to smear green energy. The rebuttal:

  • Ninety percent of a turbine’s parts can be recycled or sold
  • US company has fielded a process to recycle such blades and is ramping up capacity
  • In other countries that have used wind turbines for decades, recycling blades is required
  • A typical wind project repays its production carbon footprint in six months or less, providing 20 years of zero-emission energy.
  • Compare and contrast recyclable blades to the tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to cleanup abandoned wells in Alberta alone. Add in TERM radioactive waste from oil production, the “largest form of avoidable radiation in America.” Flavor with the $65B to clean up the Gulf oil spill.
  • And if somebody brings up bird kill: yup, it happens. Summary: fewer birds die from wind than from oil!
  • Considered “biologically insignificant”, one paper cites 6,800 deaths out of a migration population of 69,000,000 at one major US wind farm.
  • Canada:
  • Wind: 3,060 bird deaths
  • Oil production: 18,661 bird deaths
  • Wind    (US): killed between 140,438 and 234,012 birds
  • Oil pits (US): killed between 500,000 and 750,000 birds
  • Oil spills: 500,000
  • Power lines: electrocute over 900,000
  • Cats: 1,400,000
  • American skyscrapers: 600,000,000
  • Oil-based air pollution: uncounted but estimated in the millions (birds are unusually susceptible to carbon monoxide, sulfur and particulates).

So, yup, it sucks to be a bird. But they are actually better off with wind than oil…

Windmill and e-car cradle to grave costs

You’re right on some points, but put them in context of building gas powered cars vs e-cars, and the cradle to grave costs, which are about half that of gas cars.

1) Yes, e-cars require production, just like gas cars and everything else in the world. They are only slightly heavier to produce (and dropping) versus gas powered cars, and the resources used to make e-cars are used in everything else too.

Note also that the car industry is betting heavily on e-cars, as by 2025, they expect them to be cheaper to build than a gas-powered car (which also means a lower production footprint). They are already cheaper to operate, so the projected consumer demand is high (‘look honey! It costs less, and we don’t have to buy gas anymore!’). They’re ramping up big time; about 1/4 of the lineup for some major makers will be electric or hybrid. In ten years, 50% of the lineup.

2) The whole point is *not* to burn coal anymore. Yes, e-cars consume power, but if renewables are used, it is a big net win in resource consumption, not to mention carbon production. And given solar and wind now beat out coal for new production plants, and sometimes even gas plants, one can expect much of the grid moving this way. Given they don’t require fuel, oil/coal just can’t compete as the raw technology continues to improve and production scale of economy kicks in. You just need an automated factory and you can churn out as many solar panels as you’d like. India just cancelled two new, huge coal plants because the solar bid came in cheaper!

3) Yes, the recycling costs are too high still. But they are coming down with such strong demand for lithium batteries. They’re the same ones used in your cell phone and everything else, so they are in big demand. Interestingly, lithium batteries are less toxic than most other batteries, but recycling is tough because it is such a reactive metal.

4) The cradle to grave numbers are quite good; 1/2 that of gas cars, including production of batteries, and the coal/oil heavy power used today, so it will continue to get better as the tech improves and more of the grid converts to the cheaper-anyways renewable plants.

5) Wind turbines: they typically pay back their carbon production debt in 6 months, then provide 20+ years of emissions-free service.

How ‘ethical’ is Alberta oil?

A fake “personal note” said their local tour guide in Prague says he learns in school about how “Alberta is the only place you can buy ethical oil”.


“Ethical oil” is a poorly executed front for oil producers. They specialize in demonizing foreigners while hiding their ties to oil. Their sole goal is spreading disinformation on oil sands, climate change and where Canada gets its oil. They try to look like a grassroots movement, but are actually astroturf. See also: their “an open letter to Albertans” scam.

The US is the world’s biggest supplier of oil, so why would ‘Prague’ consider Alberta as the only source? Norway, Scotland, etc. This alone should tell you this is fake news, not a ‘student’.

But let’s take it at face value for a thought experiment: how ethical is Alberta oil?

1) Most of Alberta’s conventional oil is exhausted, so really these guys are shilling for the tar sands, which are the dirtiest to produce and to burn than any other sources.

  • Simply saying that production emissions have been lowered is a deliberate attempt to mislead and doesn’t change the fact they are still the worst.
  • Claiming that ‘they are a fraction’ is also an attempt to deceive. C02 is cumulative, so Canada’s share is actually much larger, as we’ve been cranking longer. We’re also 7th worst of the industrialized countries, so, like, yay…

2) Abandoning oil cleanup commitments is not very ethical.

  • Well north of $50B taxpayer money is required to cleanup existing abandoned wells, and $100B or more for the tar sands.
  • Oil companies have walked away from their obligations.
  • Tar sands are touted as ‘clean’ yet somehow have over one trillion liters of toxic waste ponds and no plan to deal with them!

“Despite years of public promises from officials that the tailings ponds would shrink and go away, they are growing. And in the meantime, troubling gaps are opening in the oversight system meant to ensure the oilpatch cleans up its mess. Alberta has collected only $1 billion from companies to help remediate tailings — a problem that is now estimated to cost about 100 times that.”

3) Unethical oil companies are refusing to pay their taxes, hurting small towns across Alberta. The amount owed has doubled over the past year, to $173M. 

4) And how big a problem is Canada buying foreign oil anyways?

  • Canada buys light, sweet crude from outside the country, as most Eastern refineries are not setup to process bitumen from the tar sands. With peak oil in ten years, and a terrible market right now, it just doesn’t make sense to spend over 5 years and $15B to $20B on upgrades and pipelines just in time for the market to start shrinking. Alberta’s bitumen will be the first hit in that shrinking market, as bitumen is more expensive to produce, to ship, and to process.
  • 54% from the US, and 11% from Saudi Arabia. Why doesn’t ‘ethical oil’ complain about the US? Because they are harder to demonize than Arabs…
  • Canada has imported less oil each year for over a decade, except a spike in 2015.
  • Quebec, which can process bitumen, gets 44% of its oil from Alberta (via pipeline 9).

They are really just trying to get federal funding for a pipeline to a coast to try and reach the overseas oil market by making people angry about ‘them dirty foreigners’ because they can’t make a business case.

The harsh reality for Alberta is that the expensive, high-polluting tar sands projects are no longer a solid long-term investment. Funds like Blackrock ($7 Trillion) no longer invest in oil, so even if the oil market was good, capital investment would still be hard to find. Tar sands projects in particular are vulnerable; they are not very profitable without $90/barrel prices. Today’s oil price? $31/barrel!…/us-oil-production…/index.html…/orphan-wells-alberta-aldp-aer-1……/oilsands-waste-is-collected……/the-alberta…/



Why were so many oil projects in Canada cancelled?

This pro-oil propaganda raises a fair point, but several facts were left out.

1) Since 2015, Quebec went from 8% Alberta oil to 44%, via the reversal of pipeline 9. That’s part of why Energy East was no longer worthwhile.

2) Trudeau stepped in with $4.5B to keep the Trans Mountain pipeline going and ground broke last year.

3) It’s hard to find capital for major oil projects right now. A lot of the above projects were proposed when oil was tickling $100/barrel. You can’t get half that now. And some of the biggest investment groups, like the $7 Trillion fund that BlackRock runs, no longer invest in fossil fuel projects.

  •  Oil project profits pay out over a 30 to 50 year period.
  •  Oil companies predict peak oil in ten years: no new growth.
  •  Growth in public concern for climate issues is risky for long projects.

 The competition from renewables also looks bad for oil in the long run.

  •   India cancelled two huge coal plants: the solar price came in lower.
  •   Europe is moving away from fossil fuels as fast as they can.
  •   China is building both fossil fuel and massive solar farms.
  •   Electric cars are projected to be mass-market cheap in 5 years.
  •   America is even money to go all in on climate policy in Nov.

4) Teck didn’t get cancelled; they walked away. For all the above reasons. Instead, they bought a solar plant. Their press release is quoted in an article below; they stated very clearly that they supported climate change mitigation, and Alberta just doesn’t do that hippy shit  

“Our involvement with SunMine is part of our commitment to taking action on climate change, advancing renewable energy development, and supporting the global transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Don Lindsay, President and CEO. “SunMine will help us gain firsthand experience with solar power generation as we advance the use of solar power at other operations.”

You can’t get clearer than that to see which way Teck is moving, and you can expect more.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Cancelled I Stalled Oil & Gas Projects in Since 2015: Pacific Northwest LNG $36 billion LNG Aurora $28 billion WCC LNG $25 billion Teck Frontier $20.6 billion LNG $18 billion Mackenzie Valley NG $16.1 billion Prince Rupert LNG $16 billion CLOSED Energy East $15.7 billion Grassy Point LNG billion Goldboro LNG $10 billion Northern Gateway $7.9 billion Carmon Creek Sands billion Aspen oil Sands $2.6 billion Dunkirk SAGD $2.4 billion Total: $211.3 billion CANADA ACTION Take Action for Canada's Future'

The Alberta Grasshoppers And The Norway Ants

An open letter to all the recent Albertan open letters on pipelines out east, and the Albertan grasshoppers who wrote them.

This is not about Ottawa. It is not about Saudi oil being ‘less ethical’ than Albertan oil. It is not even about climate change.

It is about the effect of cheap shale oil and cheap electric cars on the long term value of Alberta heavy crude. And it is about the carefree Albertan grasshopper and the plan ahead ants from Alaska and Norway.

The harsh reality is that electric cars and renewable energy power plants are becoming cheaper than oil, fast. Car manufacturers worldwide are planning to switch in about five years to a predominately electric lineup; that is when they think electric cars will be cheaper to both build and run. In about ten years, oil demand will peak, then sharply fall off, because people will switch to the cheaper, cleaner energy source. And Alberta is not yet ready for this incredibly predictable event.

We all knew the Oil Boom days would eventually end. I remember the bumper stickers in the 80’s saying “Please God, let there be another oil boom. I promise not to piss it all away again.” And yet we did.

“Oil is great!” said the Albertan grasshopper, “and people will always need it!”
“But sooner or later” said the ants, “things will change, so let’s all save some money for then.”

Even though Loughheed set up the Heritage Fund in the 70’s, it was quickly gutted, by Alberta conservatives, to keep taxes low and spending high. If we had followed Norway’s model, or even the more conservative Alaskan model, we could laugh at the current oil price crunch. That’s One Trillion dollars that the Norway ants saved up, and Sixty Billion dollars for the Alaskan ants. The Albertan grasshopper has $16 billion.

If we had invested in renewables, we could be Canada’s leader in the next wave of energy. If we had invested in carbon sequestration technology, we could have stretched out the appeal of oil further. Instead, we doubled down on the oil sands, let corporations extract billions in profits and basically pretended the boom days would last forever.

So who’s to blame? Ottawa didn’t cause the shale revolution that flooded US pipelines with better, cheaper oil than our heavy crude. Ottawa didn’t cause people to protest new pipelines in the USA or Canada. If you voted for the conservative policies of lower taxes and lower savings, you caused the problem. If you opted for oil as Alberta’s only economic base, and let oil companies leave with billions of dollars, you caused the problem. If your anger really forces you to leave Canada, then remember you’ll still have to get Canada’s buyin on a pipeline to either coast, so I’m not sure what your plan is here?

The fact is that the tens of billions of dollars and five or more years to create a pipeline out east and a refinery to process oil sands just doesn’t make business sense for a product that peaks in ten years. And the biggest refinery out east has already said they’d keep buying Saudi oil; it is cheaper to buy, cheaper to process, and doesn’t require billions in refinery upgrades.

If your goal is really about getting more oil to the world market, please give up the Saudi argument and be honest about it. Then check the world market for heavy crude. Asia prefers Venezuela oil as it is simply cheaper. The US is drinking the success of shale, and has only limited interest in heavy crude. Europe is going renewable energy faster than anyone. The reason the BC Kitimat Clean pipeline/refinery/tankers project is now seeking a federal handout is that no business wants to invest in something so risky with such a short-term return on investment.

So what to do about it? Oil is so useful it will have a long lifetime past peak demand, but primarily in long-haul transit and derivatives, and cars will take a long time to age out everywhere. Plan around that: lower sulfur emissions and stretch out the maritime oil market. Lower the cost of oil sand processing.

But really, this time, start prepping for the end of the oil boom. Diversify the economy. Please.

And if you really have to get angry at someone, look in the mirror.

One last note. Climate change. It doesn’t matter if you believe in it, but the fact is most non-oil people now do; over 60% of Americans are now concerned. This means more restrictions globally on oil, coming soon to a market near you. So myth or not, plan for a harsher world view of Alberta oil, which has the heaviest carbon footprint of all oil.

And a side note to the marketing agency coordinating this fraud of an “open letter” campaign. Have your shills do less copy&paste; it is way too easy to tell these letters are all coming from a single source.

My Automated Testing Trail and My Executable Use Cases Approach

I’ve been using automated testing as a development acceleration tool since 1989, where it saved me a lot of grief as a programmer in the super-computing world. I moved my first team to my form of test-driven development in 1990. Since then I’ve tried to advance my testing strategies with each new software project, and as part of my self-development plan, I’ve done two new automated testing lectures each year, for ten years.

My focus is not just lowering the cost of quality for the user via automated testing, but also improving developer quality by better infrastructure, less waste and faster iteration loops.

I’ve been one of the major leaders in bringing automated testing and metrics-driven development into the gaming industry, but not just from a quality perspective. I follow the Lean school of thought; if you attack the quality improvement problem by improving the production processes, you end up with both higher quality -and- faster development times.

    • A summary presentation of my automated testing approach in games
    • Automated metrics collection and aggregation is an under-served portion of the automated testing problem:
    • I co-authored an MMO Engineering textbook, writing the chapters on automated testing and metrics aggregation for online games
    • Overall, I’ve done a dozen industry lectures on accelerating production via automated testing, metrics & architecture
    • As part of my personal growth process, I’ve done at least one talk on a new aspect of automated testing for over a decade
    • At EA, I revolutionized the testing process for The Sims franchise and helped kickstart other testing projects in other studios. We created one of the first fully automated build/deploy/test/measure pipelines in the game industry (2001). My approach changed the game’s architecture to support easy automated testing, which allowed us to support load testing, regression testing and CI/engineering tests via a single test system, and for some games, via a single test client
    • My auto-test approach differs from most: I test and measure at the player experience level, and modify the code architecture to be more testable. This radically lowers the cost of testing and increases malleability as the product shifts over time, and supports the huge amount of iterative development required in interactive systems
  • Before games, I was also responsible for some of the earliest advances in automated testing, and I’ve iteratively improved my techniques with every project since 1989. Specifically, I’ve designed and built testing tools for engineering speed, performance testing in super-computing, and functional/compatibility testing across ranges of super-computing and clustered computing options. In 1990, I created one of the first test-driven development approaches: I had all engineers on the team writing tests (in my custom harness) before writing their code; all code had to pass before checking in, and we also had one of the earliest nightly build systems that ran unit tests, full system tests and performance tests each night. I also designed the load testing system for the HLA RTI 2.0 (the military standard networking engine for distributed virtual worlds used in training simulations) when I was a DARPA contractor in Advanced Distributed Simulation and tightly-coupled clustered computing.
  • My long-term goal is to increase innovation by taking cost, risk and time out of the problems in building interactive systems.
  • This is a test plan (and simplistic functional testing code sample) I did for Blizzard. They described it as the best test plan they had ever seen.
  • My current work in Lean Game Factories is based heavily on my custom automated testing approach for interactive systems. We’ve built a continual deployment pipeline that does the usual unit/functional testing, but also performance testing, on devices and at load, for each code checkin. By tickling the system under test in different ways, we’ve managed to support every part of the game team, in different ways
    • Game designers and monetization teams: a decision aid tool in early analysis (player bots that play through all the content, every night, with automated metrics aggregation on balancing data)
    • Engineering: performance testing (client and server)
    • Upper Management: prediction of progress
    • Daily Management: automated collection of Kaizen-style Waste and Friction metrics (essentially automated Production Efficiency Metrics, including heatmaps of defects and change rates per code module, trended over time, as well as common failures or slow tools that interfere with production)

I can (and do) talk all day about how to improve automated testing and expand the use cases into all aspects of production. But I’ll stop here for now 😉