A Bigger Problem Than ISIS ?

In the language of hydraulic engineering, the process eroding the foundation is known as “solutioning.” If that problem is not addressed, what happens next is “piping”: water begins to travel between the voids, moving horizontally beneath the dam. To illustrate, American engineers have devised a triangular chart. The process begins, at the apex, with solutioning, advances through cavity formation and piping, and ends with core collapse and, finally, dam breach—like a Florida sinkhole opening up, unannounced, beneath a shopping center. Engineers jokingly refer to the chart as the “triangle of death.” Schnittker told me, “Once piping begins, there is no going back. In twelve hours, the dam is gone.”

→ The New Yorker

Why Your Phone Battery Is Rubbish

What about the rest of us? Can we expect our gadgets to last longer than a day any time soon? “As long as our batteries are based on a chemical reaction, we will have huge limitations,” Buchmann says. “The health of a battery is almost like the health of a living organism or human being. We have to take care of it.” Limer says: “I don’t think things will change much in 10 years. A realistic future to hope for is one where even in extreme heavy use you can get through a day without losing your battery.” Right now, he adds, what we have is “a battery stalemate”.

→ The Guardian

That Time I Tried to Buy an Actual Barrel of Crude Oil


On how to buy, store and trade an actual pint of oil. Hilarious :

If gold is the equivalent of a pet rock, then I can confidently say that oil is the equivalent of playing host to a herd of feral cats; it demands constant vigilance and maintenance. If gathered in sufficient quantities, it will probably try to kill you, or at least severely harm your health.

• • •

The ideal oil storage trade works something like this: Buy the crude and immediately agree to deliver it at a later date, thereby locking in the difference between the spot and futures prices for what is, in theory, a riskless profit. In 2008, when the forward price of oil vastly eclipsed the spot price, this kind of arbitrage could net a hefty return.

A true oil storage trade therefore required an early buyer. The usual suspects—think Glencore and Trafigura—wouldn’t dream of touching my puny amount oil, of course. So I looked further afield, all the way to my ex-colleagues, who I thought surely must still harbor those long-ago dreams of owning Black Gold.

→ Bloomberg

China in Africa: A Modern Story of Colonization?

However China’s increased presence in East Africa has gradually raised concerns about the economic development of these countries as well as the environmental and social sustainability of their natural resources; what remains unclear is whether China’s recent FDI in East Africa has any real intention in helping to promote economic growth and development in these countries. In recent times, China has undertaken multiple investments in sub Saharan Africa that most people believe is due to China’s search for natural resources to feed its industrial output. But it has not always been the case.

→ Economonitor

The Fall Of King Coal

Even as Massey polluted the environment and exploited its employees, Blankenship cast himself as the true savior of West Virginia workers, who he claimed were being stifled by radical environmentalists perpetuating the hoax of climate change and by government bureaucrats imposing job-killing regulations. Increasingly he entered the political fray, spending millions to promote his anti-government philosophy.

Above is the one-time mountaintop estate of this gangster.

→ Mother Jones

Apple, Amazon, Tesla and the Changing Dynamics of the Car Industry

The baby boomer generation romanticizes cars. Most boomers can recite the horsepower and other engine specs of every car they have ever owned. For the tail end of Gen X (my generation) and Millennials, a car is an interruption between Facebook and Twitter. We know the brand of speakers in our car, but if asked would have to google its horsepower. We feel little romanticism for our cars and have much higher brand loyalty to Apple and Google than to GM or Ford.

→ Institutional Investor

Who Is Saudi Arabia Really Targeting In Its Price War?

Follow-up on the previous article, this one from Arthur Berman for Naked Capitalism :

Prolonged low oil prices will prove that tight oil plays need at least $75 per barrel to break even. When oil prices recover to that level, only the best parts of the tight oil core areas will be competitive in the global market. As production declines from expensive tight oil, oil sand and ultra-deep-water plays, inexpensive Saudi oil will gain market share.

Saudi Arabia is not trying to crush tight oil plays, just the stupid money that funded the over-production of tight oil. Too much supply combined with weak demand created the present oil-price collapse. Saudi Arabia hopes to prolong low prices to benefit their long-term needs for market share and higher demand.

→ Naked Capitalism