Monthly Archives: August 2014

Tech at Night: Don’t Break the Net

Tech at Night

Don’t break the net by imposing a new, radical regulatory scheme. Internet access should not be a public utility. It has nothing to do with Net Neutrality. It would kill investment and expansion of high speed services to more people. More regulations hurt the little guy more than the big guy. Regulations hinder competition. Fast lanes become more likely. Netflix is just playing games to get a competitive advantage just like every other lobbying business. And once this gets in, FCC will go all out, the same way it always does.

This is a good site, covering a number of myths about the proposed Title II Reclassification, a dramatic step the radicals are pushing for the FCC to do, basically overturning a key concept of the bipartisan Telecommunications Act, and re-regulating the Internet as a phone service. It’s a terrible idea.

Here are some current events that illustrate why we shouldn’t trust the FCC with more power: Unions and other entrenched interests will try to keep it around even when it’s blatantly an anti-consumer subsidy like mandatory blackouts.

When an effort fails, such as Net Neutrality, they’ll just rename it and use whatever means necessary to keep arguing it, forever, independent of any previous arguments.

Federalism is often at risk, as in the case of FCC threatening arbitrarily to overturn state laws banning city-wide socialized Internet.

And naturally whenever FCC does get power, FCC will expand it, as in this case of the COPPA child privacy bill.

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Prediction: Amazon does high bandwidth video and kills it, proving Netflix to be dishonest.

The Google-Obama ties continue to exist.

Cybersecurity is too important for government dominate, and also too fast moving for regulation to control.

Your words have consequences, even online. This is a case of a parent, but this is why kids don’t belong online unsupervised.

FCC is really bad at fairness.

Tor and Bitcoin remain the favorite tools of child abusers, and your tax dollars are likely helping fund Tor.

I don’t think Americans realize how much they’re spending on local channels on their Cable bills, in the form of “Retransmission Consent” fees. They just blame the cable companies even though it’s not their fault. And guess what? These fees are caused by regulation. That’s why I support the Local Choice bill, which lets individual customers decide which …read more    

On Ben Carson, 2016, and Moving On

A cult of personality, while a great song, is a dangerous thing. They can lead normally smart people to do and say some things that don’t seem so smart.

Everyone jumped on board with Dr. Ben Carson when he had the audacity to criticize the president and his Affordable Care Act with the president right there in the room. Not bad, guy. Immediately, the conservative movement jumped on Carson as someone to watch out for. He had a great story – made his way from Detroit to Yale and, in the 80s, was a rock star with some big surgical procedures (included separating twins conjoined at the head after a 22-hour procedure) – and his political commentary spoke with an academic, authoritative voice when it came to the president’s healthcare ideas.

More recently, groups began popping up to get Carson to run for president in 2016 (Dear “Run, Ben, Run”: Stop sending me mail). Carson hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a run in 2016, and his cult grows daily. I call it a cult because criticizing him in some circles is tantamount to criticizing Obama to Democrats.

What makes Ben Carson eligible to be president? What political experience does he have? I don’t dislike the guy, mind you, but in terms of realistic chances of pulling the country (and the world) from the cesspool it’s gone into, what can he bring to the table?

Under a Republican House and Senate, a President Ben Carson can repeal Obamacare… then what? He gives Republicans a chance to escape the whole racist banner Democrats have put them under? Of course not. Carson would just join the ranks of Herman Cain and Clarence Thomas as “tokens” for the Republican Party. Our image wouldn’t change that much with our political opponents.

Then there are statements that can and will be taken as fringe and destroy his chances well before they even start. Like this quote in the Washington Post:

If Republicans don’t win back the Senate in November, he says, he can’t be sure “there will even be an election in 2016.” Later, his wife, Candy, tells a supporter that they are holding on to their son’s Australian passport just in case the election doesn’t go their way.

This cult of personality surrounding the good doctor is too in love with what he says and not with what he will actually be able to do. My biggest fear in …read more    

Oil Simulation, Climate Modeling and the Scientific Method


Part I concerned a WSJ essay by Robert J. Caprara, “Confessions of a Computer Modeler”. In Part II I will share what I know about computer modeling in oil and gas applications, and raise questions about climate modeling.

This is a long post, offered for your reading enjoyment this holiday weekend. I’ll start with the conclusions so we can see where we’re going…


As an oil company engineer, I’ve got a life-sized picture what would have happened if I had:

  • Put a significant dent in the corporateô budget studying and modeling a reservoir system;
  • Spent years convincing management of the model’s validity and the dire consequences of ignoring its warnings;
  • Proposed millions of dollars of new drilling and facilities upgrades based on the model’s conclusions.

Then, when observations deviate significantly from the model’s forecasts, I:

  • Failed to update the model to match observations;
  • Fabricated novel and unprovable explanations of why it was wrong;
  • Told my bosses that I didn’t understand why everyone put so much stock in these models — after all, we understand the “basic physics” –

– I would have been out of a job, that’s what.

As we shall see, there are significant parallels between the type of models used in the petroleum industry and in climate science. A big difference is the money involved: while we’re talking millions to hundreds of millions of dollars in private funds in oil and gas, tens to hundreds of billions of public funds may be required to enact climate “solutions”.

Image from International Reservoir Technologies, Inc.

Modeling Oil and Gas Reservoirs

Disclaimer: No one would hire me to design a model: it’s not my area of expertise. But as a technical manager for an oil company, models have been prepared by others under my direction and supervision. My role requires enough understanding of the process to know its limitations, to ask intelligent questions of the experts, and to make business judgments based on the results.

The goal of modeling is accurate forecasts of future behavior. Reservoir simulations may be built to understand how many wells may be required to efficiently drain a reservoir, or how to enhance recovery with oil with water injection. Without a means of modeling different scenarios, the engineer must resort to guesswork; with sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, guesswork is “sub-optimal”.

Here’s a concise description of the process [We’ll discover the source of this description when we change the subject to climate modeling, in due time. …read more