Sunday, 21 September 2014

Shale Fracking Is a “Ponzi Scheme”

So says Washington's Blog.

Who's losing out?

A review of more than 9,000 wells, using data from 2003 to 2009, shows that — based on widely used industry assumptions about the market price of gas and the cost of drilling and operating a well — less than 10 percent of the wells had recouped their estimated costs by the time they were seven years old.


The gas rush has … been a money loser so far for many of the gas exploration companies and their tens of thousands of investors.

Well, someone has to be making money from this. Ah, yes, the usual suspects:

Although the bankers made a lot of money from the deal making and a handful of energy companies made fortunes by exiting at the market’s peak, most of the industry has been bloodied — forced to sell assets, take huge write-offs and shift as many drill rigs as possible from gas exploration to oil, whose price has held up much better.


For Chesapeake, the primary profit in fracking comes not from selling the gas itself, but from buying and flipping the land that contains the gas. The company is now the largest leaseholder in the United States, owning the drilling rights to some 15 million acres – an area more than twice the size of Maryland. McClendon [the CEO of fracking giant Chesapeake] has financed this land grab with junk bonds and complex partnerships and future production deals, creating a highly leveraged, deeply indebted company that has more in common with Enron than ExxonMobil.

Of course, it doesn't really do those who stand to gain any harm if there is a lot of public anti-fracking hype: if anything, it just helps to confirm to would-be investors that Shale gas is the Next Big Thing. So we have landowners and bankers making out like bandits and the general public (in the form of small investors) losing out big time. Hmm, sounds familiar...

Fun with The Famous Five

My little girl brought home some Famous Five books from the school library. I quite liked reading them as a child, so I read a few again to see if they as bad as the literary snobs say.

They are.

Here's a classic bit of muddled English from "Five Go Off In A Caravan", page 95:

"We don't want to come back and find the caravans damaged or half our things stolen" said George.

"I should think not!" said Dick. "… I think we ought to leave Timmy on guard, don't you, Ju?" said Dick.

"Yes I do," said Julian at once, "These caravans are too valuable to leave at the mercy of any passing tramp - though I suppose we could lock them up."

What strikes you most is that the books turn the traditional crime novel plot back to front. In the Famous Five books, the children identify the suspects first, then wait for the inevitable crime to be committed, then pin the crime on the suspects and then have them arrested.

Isn't the crime supposed to happen first and then the master detective works out who the suspects are and narrows the field down to the actual perpetrator?

Inspector Barnaby adopts the latter approach, but doesn't bother eliminating suspects using logic, he just waits for them to be murdered one by one, and whoever is the last suspect to remain alive is the one who did it.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The world in which we live in…*

* As Paul McCartney sang in "Live and let die".

I saw this in an Argos shop window:

Friday, 19 September 2014

"Dad complains after daughter's talking doll blurts out innocuous phrases... "

From The Daily Mail:

Mark Wadsworth couldn't believe his ears when his daughter's Barbie doll started speaking with language completely appropriate for children.

Mr Wadsworth, 48, claims that he could hear the doll belting out the phrase "Off the hook!" However, Mattel, which makes the £10 toy says the doll is simply being misheard, and is actually swearing.

The doll which is based on Barbie’s web reality series, Barbie Life in the Whorehouse, was expected to launch into a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse when his daughter played with it. But the middle aged father says his eleven-year-old daughter's new toy just launched into platitudes.

"I can tell you definitively that this is not a phrase Mattel would knowingly allow the doll to use," said Alex Clark, a spokesman for Mattel, to The Mirror.

The company claims the doll is actually saying "What the f***!", a catchphrase from the from the web series Barbie Life in the Whorehouse.

"It's understandable that the phrase may be heard differently by some who are not familiar with the show," Mr Clark said.

Cow 1: Astra 0

Spotted by Steven_L on Facebook:
Mr Mills explains "Cow 1 astra 0 looks like I need a new motor after all... Fukin hard cow tho went over my car then a van went over it & still got up & walked off wtf!!!!"

I thought ruminants-attacking-moving-vehicles only happened abroad, it's a bit worrying if it's caught on over here. But the driver appears to have survived OK and that's the main thing.

Short List

Towns in England and Denmark with similar sounding names.

To kick things off: (East) Grinstead and Grindsted

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Unfortunately, my house is the one in the "before" picture, not the "after".

In reply to Dinero's question about the upper storey, I envisage a mansard-cum-gambrel roof/window arrangement with vertical side walls to maximise internal space, a bit like this, but the top bit will be at a flatter angle as our house is twice as deep as it is wide:

I'm calling it: 55/45

That's 55 No, 45 Yes.

anyone else?

"Growth of the turn-up hits jeans industry"

From The Telegraph:

Once shunned by fashionistas as less than de rigueur, turned-up jeans now have the endorsement of hipster and celebrity alike.

I'm wearing yellow socks

Leonardo Di Caprio, George Clooney and David Beckham have all exposed an extra inch of sock with gusto. And thousands of young, fixed gear bicycle-riding, Hackney-dwelling twenty-somethings have followed suit.

I'll see your yellow socks and raise you pink

But the revival of the turn-up could be hurting what had was once seen as an unstoppable growth industry - men's jeans which fit properly.

I'll trump those with one pink and one yellow

Europe has also undergone something of a turn-up renaissance. Stores in Europe sold £72 million less in jeans which  were neither too short nor too long this year than last. However it would be too soon to predict the demise of denim - retailers still sold £2.2 billion worth of jeans and denim jackets and waistcoats across the EU in the period.

Ha! I'm not even wearing socks!

The news was welcomed by the European Association Of Dayglo Sock And Shoelace Retailers who reported surging sales. Sales of black shoe polish have also taken a hit as hipsters made the switch to brown brogues.

Even on Monday to Thursday. With turned-up jeans. FFS.

Fun Online Polls: The Jonah Effect & Exploding pavements

The result in last week's Fun Online Poll was as follows:

Gordon Brown started speaking out against Scottish independence and support for independence surged...

A coincidence - 12%
I think not - 88%

Thank you everybody who took part, I'm with the majority on this one.
I work in London and live on the outskirts, so I'm personally not too worried about cow attacks; so I've decided to start obsessing about exploding pavements instead.

Before you click the link and read the article, see if you can guess how many reported pavement explosions there have been in London in the last three years.

Guess here or use the widget in the sidebar.