October 31, 2005

Ted Olson on Libby and Fitzgerald

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:18 pm

Don Luskin is right–Olson says all that needs to be said (WSJ link may be free this week, but ordinarily requires subscription):

Must officials now fear that they may be prosecuted if they do not accurately recall conversations years later? And that the journalists they talk to will be witnesses for the prosecution? Should journalists caution sources that if their memories of fleeting conversations are less than fully consistent, those memories will be fodder for prosecutors years later?

Mr. Fitzgerald justified his subpoenas on the ground that the journalists were “eyewitnesses to the crime.” But he was unable to establish, and he certainly hasn’t charged, that there was a crime in the first place. If special prosecutors can be empowered to investigate allegations of conduct that isn’t first established to be criminal, and to interrogate witnesses — especially reporters — about memories of distant conversations with sources regarding conduct that isn’t plainly criminal, there is no politically motivated allegation that can’t be turned into a criminal cover-up. So, regardless of how one might feel about the administration or the war in Iraq, the circumstances of this prosecution, and the involvement of reporters such as Tim Russert as prosecution witnesses, ought to give us occasion to pause and consider the implications of Mr. Fitzgerald’s redefinition of “Meet the Press.”

If, as it appears, Fitzgerald is indeed planning to rely on open-court testimony of reporters to convict Mr. Libby, I have to wonder if there won’t be a few cases of cold feet. There should be: If the evidence against Mr. Libby comes from reporters who are compelled to testify from conflicting detailed notes of conversations with Mr. Libby that were at the time supposed to be confidential, what will that do to future reporters’ ability to have any meaningful conversations with government officials?

Outside the Beltway Jammer.

More Real-World Evidence of “Peak Oil” Nonsense

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Environment — Tom @ 1:30 pm

From Michael Fumento at Tech Central Station (HT Instapundit; I deliberately avoided carrying over links embedded in the article to encourage you to visit TCS):

Fill ‘er Up with Oil Sands!

It was a tenet of the late great economist Julian Simon that we’ll never run out of any commodity. That’s because before we do the increasing scarcity of that resource will drive up the price and force us to adopt alternatives. For example, as firewood grew scarce people turned to coal, and as the whale oil supply dwindled ’twas petroleum that saved the whales.

Now we’re told we’re running out of petroleum. The “proof” is the high prices at the pump. In fact, oil cost about 50% more per barrel in 1979-80 than now when adjusted for inflation. Yet it’s also true that industrializing nations like China and India are making serious demands on the world’s ability to provide oil and are driving prices up. So is this the beginning of the end?

Nope. The Julian Simon effect is already occurring.

The evidence is in something called oil sands (also called oil shale), a tar-like substance that can be surface mined as coal often is. The oil is then separated from the dirt using energy from oil or natural gas extracted from the site itself to produce a tar-like goo called bitumen. It’s then chemically split to produce crude as light as from a well head.

Oil sands in a single Venezuelan deposit contain an estimated 1.8 trillion barrels of petroleum, with 1.7 trillion in a single Canadian deposit. In all, about 70 countries (including the U.S.), have oil sand deposits although technology hasn’t yet made them economical for exploitation. Of Canada’s reserves alone, about 255 billion barrels (almost equal to the entire proved oil reserves of Saudi Arabia) is currently considered recoverable. And recovering it they are.

….. The Canadians got in the game when Suncor Energy produced the first barrel of crude from oily sand back in 1967. The joint Canadian-U.S. venture Syncrude has been has been doing so since 1978 and now supplies over 13% of Canada’s oil needs. Oil sands as a whole provide over a third of the nation’s needs, with almost all of the rest going to the U.S. Between pumped oil and oil from sands, Canada is our largest supplier of crude and refined petroleum.

….. Syncrude spent only $15.27 (U.S.) last year in total production costs to produce a single barrel of its low-sulphur “Syncrude Sweet Blend.” Suncor calculates that in 2004 it spent $9.81, although spokesmen for both companies confirmed they use different accounting methods to arrive at their figures. In any case, current petroleum prices of about $60 a barrel hardly need to be sustained for Canadian companies to continue to squeeze liquid gold out of their lands with plenty of money to expand operations.

We’ve only scratched the surface in terms of discovering and exploiting oil sand deposits, along with deposits of oil-containing rocks called oil shale. Still the amount, however huge, is necessarily finite. By one estimate, we may only have about more 500 years of energy from oil sands at current usage rates.

Just five centuries till the spigot runs dry! Where are the doomsayers when you need them?

Just to prove that I can be fair, I reduced Fumento’s 500-year supply, which ignores increases in future consumption, by assuming that worldwide oil use will increase 3% each and every year until the 500-year availability at today’s consumption rate is used up. Even then, the oil available from oils sands/shale alone will last almost 93 years.

Fumento’s assumption is too optimistic, as consumption is clearly growing. The 3% annual comsumption increase assumption is probably too pessimistic, because technology will enable us to get more energy out of each barrel of oil over time, meaning that we probably won’t be using 15 times as much oil 90-plus years from now, as continuous 3% compounding would have us assume. So the “real” answer is somewhere between 93 and 500, depending on your assumptions about efficient use. And of course, none of this considers alternative energy sources that might be developed in the interim.

Memo to Peak Oilers: Don’t worry, be happy.

Cornel West and Sylvia Hewlett: Working Hard to Hold Non-Whites and Women Back in Business

Filed under: Biz Weak,Business Moves,Scams — Tom @ 9:55 am

When an African-American child is excelling at school, his jealous friends will often accuse him or her of “acting white.” This poisonous attitude holds kids back and keeps them from achieving their full potential, or worse.

Cornel West (scroll to bottom of page) and Sylvia Hewlett want to take “acting white” from the classroom to the boardroom, and expand the number of ethnic groups poisoned, as this piece from Biz Weak (link requires subscription) illustrates.

When You Can’t Be Who You Are

A new study of minorities in corporations finds that African Americans, Asians, and others are held back by subtle discrimination. Princeton University professor of religion Cornel West and economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett discussed their findings with Senior Writer Nanette Byrnes:

Q: The people you spoke with seem to feel they have to act like white men to get ahead.
Hewlett: There’s this great phrase “bleached-out professionalism.” That describes this shrinkage of authenticity, which in the end is very debilitating and by definition not successful. You just can’t turn yourself into a white guy.

See what I mean?

It’s not about “acting white,” it’s about being professional. Or are only whites “professional”? How racist is that?

Q: What does it mean to act like a white guy?
Hewlett: A lot of Asian executives we interviewed thought that they were way too quiet. African American executives, on the other hand, often felt they came over as too loud, too brash. They felt this loudness labeled them as potential troublemakers.

Earth to Hewlett: When American executives go to Japan, they have to get used to the idea that they don’t even have an imperative verb form in their language. When the boss notices and comments on a desk that’s dirty, it’s just understood that the employee needs to clean it up. Once the American exec figures that out, he or she adapts. If an Asian exec needs to be more assertive to be more effective in a company’s culture, that’s just the way it is, or…. find another company.

Q: Isn’t the superficial sometimes important — the trust inspired by a banker’s suit, etc.?
Hewlett: But a lot of the things they’re talking about you basically can’t change. They feel they’re not allowed to bring their whole self to work. A woman who was in one of our focus groups was 32. She had been promoted three times since business school — a highflier. In her spare time she founded a Girl Scout troop in a homeless shelter. Do you think her colleagues knew about it, or her boss? No. It was kind of her choice, but she said the culture of this company is that if you are on the board of the symphony, it’s O.K. United Way is O.K. But the community involvement of minority professionals is often not on the list.

Am I really supposed to believe that people would look down on another person because of the charities they support? And by the way, how many minority charities are supported by the United Way? (Answer: plenty)

Q: Is it possible white men are getting ahead faster because they’re working harder?
West: There’s no getting around sacrifice, excellence, and quality. We’re talking about style: how one talks, relates, and balances their life. We’re talking about a deepening and refining of values.

I’d like to see the evidence that white men are getting ahead faster in 2005. I’m not convinced, at all. It seems like a convenient assumption that’s 30 years out of date.

Q: What shocked you?
West: The most frightening fact is that 52% of the minority folk don’t have deep trust in their company and the people who run it. We’re already dealing with distrust of the government. We don’t need more isolation.

News flash: At least 52% of ALL employees don’t have deep trust in their company. The social contract version of Corporate America has mostly disappeared. Many bosses themselves, and many of their employees. are having a tough time dealing with it.

To ascribe any of the above to race is absurd. To the extent that non-whites believe it, they hold themselves back. I hope for their sake that they ignore it.

Positivity: Flying Doctors to the Rescue

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:09 am

A nearly 50 year-old organization remains in service: