From energy scarcity to energy abundance

Schematic_cross-section_of_general_types_of_oil_and_gas_resources_and_the_orientations_of_production_wells_used_in_hydraulic_fracturingNewspapers tend to offer good coverage of their city’s main industry.  So if you want financial news, read the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.  If you want entertainment news, read the Los Angeles Times.  If you want political news, read the Washington Post.  If you want news about the oil industry, read the Daily Oklahoman.

It even has an energy editor, Adam Wilmoth, who reported on an eye-opening industry symposium at the University of Oklahoma.  We learn about the impact of new oil production technology–such as fracking, horizontal drilling, and oil shale extraction–which has transformed our energy situation from scarcity to unimaginable abundance.

But some will not like to hear this, especially the point about how, in light of the new superabundance, it’s now not bad for energy consumption to go up.  And, if these figures are correct, there may not be that much economic impetus for alternative energy sources.  Much of the new technology has made oil production more environmentally friendly–there are now only 500 active rigs, pumping far more than the 4,500 rigs in 1981 and the 1,500 rigs in 2014.  But those worried that burning carbon contributes to global warming will be frustrated that economic forces will be working against them.  And we Oklahomans do not like all of our new earthquakes, which are apparently a by-product of the new oil industry.

Still. . .isn’t energy abundance a good thing and better than the alternative?  Or not?

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What Germany is doing for Luther’s 500th Anniversary

Stadtkirche_Wittenberg_Marktplatz_mit_Rathaus_11_CGermany has lots going on for the 500th Anniversary year of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses.  The country has spiffed itself up (though Germany is always pretty spiffy), is sponsoring lots of Luther exhibits, and has launched special non-Luther things to see and do.

Travel writer Rick Steves tells “What’s new in Germany” after the jump.  This includes an exhibit on Luther’s life and times in Wittenberg, an exhibit on Luther’s influence on Germany in Wartburg, and an exhibit on Luther’s global influence in Berlin.

Steves goes on to tell about other good reasons to visit Germany and Eastern Europe in 2017.

At one point, we were discussing sponsoring a Cranach tour this year in conjunction with Lori Lewis and the fans of her Katie Luther opera.  But that possibility has fallen through.  But if you want to be in Wittenberg for the anniversary year, go here. [Read more…]

Jokes about race and sex are out, so religion takes their place

bully-624747_640In the culture of the workplace, it is now taboo to make jokes about race.  Nor can you make jokes about ethnicity.  Nor can you make jokes about disabilities.  Now you can no longer make jokes about sex.  Or gender.  So what can you make jokes about?  Religion.

Those now forbidden attempts at humor at other people’s expense were part of the pattern of bullying and harassment that sometimes took place at work.  Sexist humor often offended women in the office.  Now religious people are feeling the harassment.

So says a British study, reported on after the jump.  Do you think this is happening in the United States as well?  Why do you think workers–usually, ironically, in the jolly spirit of camaraderie–feel they have to find a class of people to target?  [Read more…]

Democrats will filibuster away their power

Claude_Rains_and_James_Stewart_in_Mr._Smith_Goes_to_Washington_(1939)The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, so Democrats are planning to filibuster.  This will trigger the “nuclear option” of Republicans voting to change the rules to eliminate the filibuster when it comes to nominations like this.

Thus the Democrats will “make a statement” that will diminish their ability to stop nominations!  This is an example of the “virtue signalling” that has become part of our culture.  The purpose is apparently for the liberal Senators to show how “virtuous” they are to their liberal base.  But the gesture will just make them even more ineffectual.

In the meantime, as Democrats demonize the distinguished Judge Gorsuch, who models the ideal judicial temperament, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford raises some questions. From an editorial in the Daily Oklahoman:

In a recent floor speech, Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, deftly demonstrated that opposition has nothing to do with Gorsuch’s qualifications. When Gorsuch was confirmed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006, Lankford noted, support was unanimous. “He was seen as a consistent, solid, mainstream, fair judge, which means Senator Joe Biden voted for him, Hillary Clinton voted for him, Chuck Schumer voted for him, Barack Obama voted for him in 2006,” Lankford said. He argued there’s nothing to suggest Gorsuch has “left the mainstream” since that 2006 vote, noting the judge’s opinions have drawn fewer dissents than any other judge on the 10th Circuit. It says much about Democrats’ extreme partisanship that they must now tacitly suggest their most prominent liberal leaders are clueless in order to oppose Gorsuch.

After the jump, an article on the Gorsuch situation and an explanation of the filibuster and its history.

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Bob Dylan archive opens for researchers

800px-Joan_Baez_Bob_DylanIn more Dylan news, the Bob Dylan Archive here in Oklahoma is now open for researchers.  It won’t be open to the public for another two years.  It will then be housed in the Woody Guthrie Museum in Tulsa.  (Read our earlier post on how Oklahoma got Dylan’s archives.)

But the collection has been sufficiently organized and curated to give researchers access to the more than 6,000 manuscripts, tapes, instruments, memorabilia, and unreleased songs.

An article about the opening, including information on how to gain access to the collection, is after the jump. [Read more…]

Why April is the cruelest month

A_view_across_the_desert_landscape_of_Big_Bend_National_Park,_Texas“April is the cruelest month.”  That snatch of poetry always comes to mind when the calendar turns to April Fool’s Day.  But surely April isn’t the cruelest month!  April showers bring May flowers!   April marks the time when Winter is over and Spring has sprung!  So why would the poet T. S. Eliot say that April is the cruelest month?

Well, that is the first line of a long, difficult poem called “The Waste Land.”  It plays off of the legend of the Holy Grail.  When the chalice Christ used for the first Holy Communion was lost, due to a terrible sacrilege, the whole country turned into a waste land.  Vegetation died, turning the land to desert.  Nothing would grow.  Animals stopped giving birth.  Life became barren, sterile, dry.

Eliot was using that legend to explore what he saw as the spiritual wasteland of modern times.  Here too we have lost what is sacred.  He describes our emotional wasteland.  He writes about the sterility and lifelessness of the Waste Land in terms of uncommunicative marriages; a bored typist and a house-agent clerk who engage in unloving, dehumanizing sex; a woman who casually talks about her abortion.

April is the cruelest month, to people like that, because they don’t want the new life that Spring heralds.  They are happy to be spiritually dead.  They don’t want to be born again.  They feel threatened by the rain that could bring new life to the desert of their lives.  They think the prospect of new life is cruel.

In the course of the poem, amidst many other patterns of imagery, we find the motif of “death by water.”  At the end of the poem, a quester is walking in the desert towards the ruined grail chapel.  He has the sense that someone is walking beside him.  (Eliot’s footnote identifies the allusion as pointing to Christ on the road to Emmaus.)  At the very end of the poem, it is thundering and starting to rain.  Soon after he published the poem, T. S. Eliot was baptized.  Water brought life to Eliot’s own personal wasteland.

The most acclaimed, innovative, and radical poet of the modernist movement, who knew the waste land in his own heart, converted to Christianity.

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