Monday, February 27, 2012

The Abyss Peers Back

This is why sometimes I think I'm so shot full of luck I can't deserve it; I get paid to do this.Now, admittedly, I'm pretty leg-weary, and skittering across this iced-over log bridge was a little hairy, but look at this place!Can you imagine - someone pays me to spend a beautiful sunny day hiking here? That a part of my living consists of visiting places just this gorgeous?I try and remember that when I'm sitting a drill rig in a trash dump in the pouring cold rain. Those days? Hell, I don't get paid enough.But let me tell you a little story as you enjoy the pretty pictures.This morning I stopped at the Super 8 Motel comp breakfast to fuel up. The morning was cold, I needed something hot to start the day, and I didn't want to spend the time it would have taken to go across the road to the Denny's or whatever chain crapateria was open at six o'clock.The motel breakfast was belly timber without being particularly good. But to get outside of it I had to spend about fifteen minutes in the same room with a television set to FOX at ear-pounding volume.I generally try and avoid Rupert Murdoch's vanity project just because I've seen enough in snippets here and there to know that I have no patience with it; I prefer my tall tales with heroes or fairies, thanks. But this morning I had no escape.The three avid viewers were a drill crew from Jensen, and they were cheerfully gutsing the nasty waffles and the FOX "news" with equal gusto, and it was something of a revelation to me; I don't think I've ever watched an entire FOX "news" story before.

And this one was one I was somewhat familiar with; gas prices.

Like most geologists, I started out in the oilpatch, and my academic training included a fair bit of petroleum geology, so I know a bit about both the mechanics and the economics of getting dinosaur wine to the fuel pump nozzle. But what came out of the television this morning bore no real resemblance to anything I have ever encountered.First there was a screaming headline about how fuel prices were skyrocketing and might even reach (gasp!) five dollars a gallon by June. Some sort of FOX news numbnut came on to explain to the rubes marks viewers that this was like a tax that hit them right in the wallet. There was a completely gratuitous reference to state gasoline taxes (without the mention that they are typically mandated by law to be used for gasoline-related projects such as roadwork). And something about how the switch to "summer blends" was involved (without mentioning that the summer is high-demand time for fuel as people fly and drive more - I guess FOX doesn't do "supply and demand")Then for the "opinion" portion of the story FOX produced that internationally-respected petroleum economist, Definer Of Civilization's Rules and Leader (Perhaps) Of The Civilizing Forces (as Charlie Pierce likes to call him) N. Leroy Gingrich. The man who personally turned the entire legislative branch of the United States government into a ludicrous raree sideshow in pursuit of a blowjob proceeded to do to the oil industry's pursuit of domestic petroleum leases what Monica did to the 42nd President and just for entertainment threw in some jabs at the Kenyan Usurper's general ickiness.-30-, as Jack Webb said in the movie of the same name; end of story.

Now, I don't pretend to be a brilliant petroleum savant, but where in Spindletop's name in this ridiculous farrago were the CAFE standards, international speculation in petroleum futures, the current fiascos in the Middle East, the drop-in-the-oil-barrel tininess of the "domestic oil leases" relative to U.S. demand, and that perennial Republican favorite, the Magic of the MarketTM?Especially the latter; what's the point of having a Market if it doesn't do what markets are supposed to do - respond to increased demand relative to supply by raising prices?I mean, the entire six minutes or so of supposed "news" left you with the following information; gas prices are going up (why? who knows - magic, maybe, or because Obama hates oil companies), states tax gasoline and that's BAD, high prices are BAD, drill, baby, drill, and N. Leroy Gingrich is an expert on oil production.And the thing is, the three Jensen guys sat there and ate it up. Their comments suggested that what they got - gas prices are going up, states tax gasoline and that's BAD, high prices are BAD, drill, baby, drill and N. Leroy Gingrich as expert on oil production - was what they wanted.Sometimes when you gaze into the abyss for six minutes the abyss peers back, and fuck me with a tri-cone bit if it isn't as fucking stupid as a fucking ginormous bag of fucking hammers.No wonder We Are So Fucked.

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