Monday, October 11, 2021

The Energy Market with Unreliables

 The energy market is going to be something that will be on people's minds for a long time because right now there is very poor policy and ideological views driving us to a crisis. There has been a nice little bull run going on over the last few months, and this may not be the crisis. It's something that may immerge here, but it might be 5-10 years from now.

For the longest time I've been a passive index investor, and I still am for a nice chunk of my portfolio, but over the last 18 months I've decided that I'm going to apply my own judgment to the market place and invest accordingly. Over this time I've accumulated a pretty sizeable portfolio of LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) companies, in particular upstream and midstream companies.

Renewable Energy or Green Energy are Unreliables

There is a political push for green energy. It's driven by the moral ideas that green energy is this universally good energy and all the other reliable energies we use like fossil fuels and even nuclear are inherently bad, dangerous and destructive.

As an electrical engineer as trade, I thought I'd shed some realities on the differences between these energy forms as they apply to electricity.

1. A 1 Gigawatt (GW) Coal Power Plant is not equal to a 1GW Solar or Wind Farm

I would like to think that this is an obvious point, even to those that are completely unaware of the scientific basics, but some people don't know much beyond green is good. When we speak of a 1GW of any energy, we're speaking of a designed output value based on an optimal input value - also known as the rated value. 

With a wind farm, we're talking about the expected output with optimal speed of wind. When the wind is too high, wind turbines are typically disabled. In wind speeds that are slower, there is just less output. It's also important to note that the less output is not a linear function necessarily. A 50% reduction in wind isn't necessarily a 50% reduction in output. With friction, and inertia, we'd expect a great reduction in output. Also there is a minimum speed required to get things moving. That's not to say that you need a consistent 50km/h of wind all the time to get rated output. Wind gusts and slows, but in general keeping the blades spinning at an optimal speed is what is desired.

For a solar production, much of the same ideas are in play. Too much good sun isn't bad, there is just the rated value output. Less than good sun is less than the rated output. And ofcourse, there is zero output during the night.

Contrast this with a coal power plant. A coal plant will product 1GW of electricity provided it has the rated input value of coal. Coal is cheap, readably available, easy to transport and store. In effect, a coal plant will produce 1GW of power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Solar productions can have variable outputs that fluctuate greatly within time frames of 15 minutes. Wind isn't quite as variable as solar output, but wind hour to hour can be quite different.

From this you should be able to see that a 1GW coal power plant is a completely different product than 1GW of solar or wind. Even 4GW of solar or wind is still totally different and would create systematic problems with the grid that a reliable 1GW coal power plant would not.

The source of the figures is Alex Epstein's Moral Case for Fossil Fuel. It's important to see visually how the output changes and varies, even over periods of 15 minutes. And at the end of the day these are all AVERAGES for a period of time - not a consistent output - which is what other sources of energy produce such as coal, nuclear and even hydro is pretty consistent.

2. Power isn't just Dumped Onto the Grid

It's important for the average layperson to understand that the grid is a delicate balance between demand load and supply of power. The load on the grid fluctuates throughout the day. It typically follows a regular pattern, but it is variable. Plus, when there is some sort of irregular day (such as a cold snap or a heat wave) you experience a massive uptick in load.

The suppliers of power have to follow this load as it is always changing. You can't just dump all the power you're currently producing on the grid - it has to match the load. The best way to think about it is that the grid is a transportation network, not a storage space for excess energy that can be used at a later time.

When it comes to wind and solar, you just get what you get. You can't increase or decreases output. You cannot follow demand. Power sources like coal, nuclear, hydro, etc have the characteristic of ramping up and down production. A fuel source like natural gas (NG) has the capacity of ramping up and down output at very fast rates.

3. Power Quality Matters

When speaking of power quality, I'm speaking of the characteristics of the power produced and how close it aligns to the targets for the grid. For most places and most parts of the world, it's a nice clean AC sinusoidal wave, 60hz in NA. In some special applications with very high voltages, you may find DC.

It's important to understand that the more variable an output, the less optimal it is to produce a smooth sinusoidal wave. The less smooth the wave is, the more transients are introduced into the grid. The best way to think of these are ripples on an otherwise ordinary wave. In the case of harmonics, which is a load based ripple effect, these ripples can overlap at specific higher frequencies (like 3rd, 5th, 7th harmonics) where there is a very high current flowing.

With a steady output form of power, there is an understanding of the quality produced and mitigation methods rated for the output.

One last note is that poorer quality electricity that ends up on the grid must be compensated for in a few ways. One of which is power electronics on the grid to fix it (expensive infrastructure) or (when possible) another generating part of the grid produces an output that can balance things out. 

The Big Energy Picture

With the aggressive push to be green and force the inadequacies onto the grid, there is just unavoidable realities that need to be resolved. This is why I invested in LNG for the simple reality that there needs to be a ramp up, ramp down energy source that is reliable and can be depended on.

Today, most countries are shutting down and decommissioning coal plants for electricity. Even countries that are pro-nuclear and shutting down those plants - and today it's such an over regulated burden to even create a nuclear power plant that no one is building them.

When it comes to the current market landscape, there is a desperate need for NG. The issue that NG faces is that the infrastructure to supply the world isn't there and it's a product that most of the world is using to heat their homes and businesses.

Unless the world is planning to abandon the suicidal hatred of reliable hydrocarbon (fossil fuels) sources, a product like NG is going to be a hot commodity.

Ideally, I'd like a free market where energy sources compete and there can be one or many winners in that market. It doesn't matter to me, as long as it's reliable, abundant and cheap. As an investor, I have to invest in the world as it is and that world will need NG because it's either that or die.

*I'll point out that I didn't discuss other green sources such as biomass or whatever the seems to be the next hot new thing because they're worse than junk as a source of energy.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Answering COVID19 Conspiratards

 



There's a lot to unpack here. "My doctor... vaccinated creates more ammo for the virus to grow stronger and more resistant..." I do admire that his doctor sounds a lot like the anti-vaxx doctors on the internet, but there is much to unpack.

Sometimes I don't grasp the past that well, but I'm pretty sure before COVID19 we had vaccines. I think we had a lot of them. Small pox, measles, yearly influenza, etc. The data shows that we aren't being overwhelmed with super measles or seasonal super influenza that is worse and worse each year. It's not to say that it couldn't happen, but with the data we currently possess on vaccines - it isn't happening.

Plus, if this were a problem - it isn't a vaccine problem. It would be an immunity problem. Let's just assume we went "all natural" and much of the world was infected with COVID19. Well, most of the world would gain the immune response t-cells and antibodies to fight future infections. At this point, is the virus suddenly just going to die off or will it "grow stronger and more resistant"?

I do appreciate that people almost put a volitional component into things to help explain some evolutionary process. We try to stop the virus and bam the virus fights back with a big blow.  If only them fighting words were real.

Unpacking further, what does it mean to be "stronger"? What does it mean to be "more resistant"?

Does stronger mean it leads to more serious illness & death? Does stronger mean it is more infectious? Does it mean more infectious and deadly?

From an evolutionary perspective (attaches the volitional ego to the virus), it doesn't have to lead to more serious illness and death. In fact, it makes a lot of sense to become less deadly. People dropping like flies isn't exactly a good way for the virus to spread around. Nor is crippling them to an ICU bed  very good for the long term evolutionary survival. The more defanged variant is a probable outcome precisely because people will get sick, have symptoms and go around spreading it.

Again, evolution and the virus both don't have volitional characteristics. There isn't a preordained evolutional direction, but the notion that it must lead to a "stronger" variant isn't true. Based on other infectious diseases it stays relatively in the same territory of "strength" or becomes something more defanged - which leads to easier spread.

"More resistant" is an interesting description. More resistant to what exactly? It's not like there is some thing in the virus that is resistant. It's not a property of the virus. Before vaccines and a previous infection, you had no resistance to the virus except a baseline immune response that fights all infections the same way. After vaccines and/or infection, you have resistance to the virus - if we're going to use the term "resistance". The virus will mutate and change over time and evolutionarily the variants that spread best will spread (it's tautological). If the immune response starts to wane, we make new vaccines tailored to prevalent variant - just like the yearly influenza vaccine.

This isn't ground breaking stuff.

There is more that I could go into on this comment, but that one sentence I felt was worth the discussion. We don't have to go into the vaccines are only good for 6 months, as if Israel's coco for coco puffs focus on cases, cases, cases is the only thing that matters - neglecting the stellar performance of what the vaccine was meant to do - separate serious disease, hospitalization and death from a case. Israel is more of an example of politicians treating a runny nose case as equal to a ICU case - which is an example of stupid.





Well, if you were around during this whole COVID thing, you would have known that people were living their life under restrictions. I wasn't allowed to go to visit someone outside my household the entire time (unless it was outside). People were working from home, social distancing, etc. Today, you are allowed to do what you want. I was at a party at someone's house yesterday - as an example. Include in the fact that delta is far more contagious you have more hospitalizations.

But the fact is clear, the hospital and ICU are filled up with the unvaccinated - who make up a minority portion of people - and a tiny portion of those 65+.

No one is asking the 'simple' questions because we have the 'simple' data available.



Saturday, September 4, 2021

An Open Letter to Jason Kenney

Dear Premier Jason Kenney,

On September 3th, 2021 you announced that due to the unvaccinated people in this province, the hospital and ICU are filling up. The ICU in particular is reaching max capacity. You also announced that due to this everyone's freedom will be punished. Masks for all. Private businesses that serve alcohol are restricted from serving alcohol after 10 pm and unvaccinated people should limit their group settings (how will that even be enforceable?)

I can't help but feel betrayed. I am a person that went out and got the 'jab' as soon as it was available to me. The Federal Government did a horrible job procuring vaccines, so I waited. I dealt with restrictions and lockdowns longer than I should have. My freedoms were stifled, for the common good of the healthcare system.

And here we are, with a 70% fully vaccinated eligible population and the restrictions are coming back again.

It seems like a recurring theme where the people who make smart choices are always punished for the sake of those that make the bad choices. Their freedom to not get vaccinated is more important, while my freedom gets lost to restrictions, masks, and potential lockdowns. And you also expect me to give them tax dollars that I pay.

I empathize with your laissez-faire approach. I don't want to force people to get vaccinated. I don't want vaccine passports. I do agree private businesses should be able to make these choices.

But if you tie the vaccinated to the unvaccinated, and my freedom becomes attached to their poor choices - you're playing a game of protecting someone's freedoms at the expense of others freedoms. My freedom is not to be tied to them, nor do I recognize it being tied to ICU admissions.

We know that COVID19 treats vaccinated and unvaccinated people a lot differently. Am I going to continuously be tied to the unvaccinated?

I will not be locked down again. I have never protested before on the streets, but this has me to this point. The ongoing restrictions on my life are done now. I'm vaccinated. I'll not put up with them coming back.

So what's it going to be Premier?

Let me be clear, I'm not for vaccine passports, but if you're going to curb MY FREEDOM for the sake of the unvaccinated, then I will take the vaccine passports. If you're tying my freedoms to the unvaccinated and ICU admissions - either lock the unvaccinated down or make more beds.

My freedom is not available to your restrictions.

Sincerely,

NoLasagna

Letter written on September 4 2021

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Alberta COVID19 Doomers Last Offensive

I've been meaning to write something about COVID19 and I wasn't sure what to write about. Through much of this I simply ignored the media and just did my own thing because I can't deal with the high degree of sensationalism and stupidity. I find myself with anxiety as of late because there is literally a force of intellectuals, media and general people that are fighting for the return of strict measures/lockdowns - in a highly vaccinated society. The notion that we could end up right back where we were pre-vaccine is just depressing to me and I hate it. 


On July 28th, the Alberta government announced changes to policy toward COVID19. The next steps were going into place to treat this problem just like every other respiratory virus that we deal with. Immediate stop to asymptomatic testing. No more going out searching for close contacts that may have experienced a runny nose. And by the end of August, only testing if it relates to medical intervention. No more legally required isolation on a positive test. This brought me hope because it eliminated the main item the doomers hung onto: case numbers.


This gave me some hope because this was an action for normalizing lives, but also it defangs the doomers. Now, the doomers are going nuts and it's down to political will. The war is on and will the Alberta government hold tight. 


The doomers are wedging the issue the way they like, on the isolation requirements - as if a fully vaccinated person that gets a runny nose needs to be isolated for 10 days (that means sending your in house family to a hotel for 10 days). But really the main concern is over all the measures that produce the highest amount of cases being removed. They want to go out and find every single case - even though a case today is not the same as a case in March 2020 or January 2021.


Ironically doomers are the most likely to tell people to get vaccinated and outside the other side of the mouth say vaccines are useless - at least when it comes to getting back to a normal life. If there are one group of people to blame for vaccine hesitancy, it would be these people.


Anyway, I've compiled some thoughts on COVID19. It's not so much the disease, but how people have thought about things and just how the culture has a poison epistemology. Much of this is just to express it, and get it out of my head because it does truly annoy me.


Cases, Cases, Cases


The saddest part about all of this is how the goal posts have moved through the pandemic, but worse yet is how the media, intellectuals and just the general population don't understand how the approach to it has changed in a highly vaccinated population. Premier Jason Kenney has explained it quite simply and correctly.


Vaccines aren't perfect at stopping infections. They're very good, but not perfect. But the reality is that vaccines are more than just an efficacy against infection. The main reason vaccines are produced is how it prepares the immune system to fight the virus. The value of vaccines is that it makes serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID19 very rare. The goal of 'flattening the curve' was to prevent the ICUs from overflowing - in a world where enough people can't get vaccines. Vaccines accomplish this same goal without crippling the economy, nor without taking away the social aspects of being human.


Vaccines separate severe illness, hospitalization and death from cases. The significance and meaning of COVID cases has changed. 


  • March 2020 was a scary time. 

    • High death rates for the vulnerable

    • No known treatment methods

    • No available vaccines

    • No guidance. 

  • The third wave in Alberta was different. 

    • Much of the most vulnerable population was vaccinated

    • Doctors had some treatment methods that saved lives

    • The ICU filled up because people just didn't flat out die

    • Much of the population was unable to get a vaccine

  • Today

    • Highly vaccinated population

    • Easy access to anyone that wants a vaccine (12+)

    • Treatment options, with even better options awaiting approval

    • 85-90% vaccination rate of people 65+ years old.

    • Pfizer is expecting to be ready for 5-11 year old vaccinations in September


Cases are not equal in this sense. A case today doesn't mean the same thing as it did in April and a case in April doesn't mean as much as a case in March 2020. It's also important to recognize case counts today aren't all equal either. An unvaccinated person that gets COVID19 that is sick for two weeks and has severe headaches for months counts as 1 case - just as a fully vaccinated person that is asymptomatic that tests positive is also 1 case.


For those unaware, in Alberta we had our big run of vaccines start in May. We still had restrictions up until July 1st. During that time a lot of people were vaccinated, but still couldn't hang out with people. Numbers trended down to nice daily lows. Now that we're open again, things are trending up again and the focus is on cases. Not that there really is a lot, but it's this trend of up. 


As it has been said by Dr. Hinshaw, vaccines will turn this from a pandemic into an endemic. SARS-COV-2 isn't going anywhere, but instead of some out of control spread that takes over - it's manageable and resembles more of what regular respiratory viruses we have always had.


It's important to understand the goal here and not lose sight of it. There's no goal to get to zero cases. COVID19 is respiratory and too easy to spread. The goal has always been to tame it, so we can all go back to living our lives without fear of serious illness, hospitalization and death. Just listen to Kenney here. It's straight to the point, science based and easy to understand.


https://twitter.com/jkenney/status/1420411178287648772?s=20


Vaccines are Amazing, but Misunderstood

I want to give thanks to Big Pharma for the vaccines because they are one of the few things that came out of this pandemic that are amazing. In particular the mRNA ones which have demonstrated something so amazing that I look forward to the future of what they can do. BioNTech has recently made a malaria vaccine. Awesome.


Vaccines are great and I encourage everyone to go get one as soon as they can.


Pfizer 95% efficacy, Moderna 94% efficacy, Janssen 72% efficacy, AstraZeneca 76% efficacy.


These numbers, for the most part, really don't mean all that much. Efficacy, at least presented in this context, is just the efficacy of infection during clinical trials. Pfizer and Moderna had much during lockdowns, so they're probably not as strong as they show. The reality is that they're all very good and whichever one is first available to you should be the one you get.


But, as I mentioned earlier, a vaccine is more than an efficacy against infection. How effective is it against serious illness? How long does it take to get protection? Do I need one shot or two? A better question, if you were infected what are the chances you'd even have symptoms?


I'm double dosed on Pfizer. Not that I had a choice in the manner. My only choice in the whole thing was whether I wanted to do an mRNA cocktail on my second shot by getting Moderna. Just because Pfizer has 95% efficacy doesn't mean damn all the other vaccines because they have a lower number. They're all great at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death. They're also excellent at preventing symptoms even if you do catch it.


Recently Israel announced that Pfizer efficacy degraded and that things seem to be about 64%. There's some reality to the fact that trials occurred during lockdowns and such - whereas Israel is fully open.The likelihood is that it was never truly 95% in a post-lockdown world. But the main point lost in the media was that that vaccine resulted in 64% asymptomatic infection - in the same Israeli press release. 


Vaccines are doing their job and they're doing an amazing job. And despite the downer news, they're doing exactly what they need to do. Even among the pro-vaccers there seems to be an increasing number of them that believe in the efficacy of masks more than the vaccine.

Isolated Facts and Stats aren't Science

At this point I haven't really jumped into epistemology, but more the situation on the ground. Why? Because that's what science is. It's the world/nature/reality that we live in and facts come from it. It's not that facts can be isolated from it, but this is what people do.


The unfortunate part is that we have people who are pro-vaccine, want people to get vaccines, but once we start talking about ending restrictions, vaccines aren't that great anymore. We should get them, but they essentially aren't good enough to go back to our normal lives. This is probably one of the bigger aspects of what creates vaccine hesitancy.

So what do I mean about isolated facts and stats? Well take Israel's report that Pfizer is really only 64% effective. Or that the delta variant is 40% more infectious than regular. To isolate it is to strip the real world away from it. The stat and the stat alone is all you conclude from. 64% efficacy came from the real world. It exists in that world and as I said vaccines are more than just an efficacy to infection.


Putting it simply, to conclude simply from an isolated stat/fact and not the complete package of facts is against science. Why? Because it removes the reality from it. The notion that after 6 months, Pfizer is only 64% effective, so shut it down.It negates all the other facts that matter to a complete understanding of the situation on the ground.


I see this in a variety of scenarios, though the vaccine one is probably the biggest assault on the best thing human ingenuity has created during the pandemic. I'm sure you've heard that it is possible to be asymptomatic and transmit. As the assault on vaccine efficacy continues, this point will be brought up more. Wear a mask/lockdown if you're fully vaccinated because you can transmit asymptomatically. It's true that it can occur, the other important fact that is inseparable from that isolated fact is that it's very rare to occur. 



The Future with the Base Rate Fallacy



This is the future of information where manipulation is the goal. You'd almost think that being unvaccinated is the smarter approach. Even in the comments of this Instagram you see a few pro-vaccine comments that just make the claim partially vaccinated is the same as unvaccinated. The first shot is the vaccine and is excellent. The second shot is the booster, but it also comes with the secondary value of an even stronger immune response. Unfortunately idiots on both sides of this issue. 


The base rate fallacy is really simple to understand. As the population becomes more vaccinated (the corollary is that the unvaccinated population shrinks - also as more unvaccinated people catch COVID19 and have immunity) you'll experience more and more cases coming from those that are vaccinated. There is going to be a point where we find that a big chunk (if not the majority) of cases will be from the vaccinated.


This outcome is to be expected. We'll experience anti-vaxxers and pro-vaccine forever doomers claiming the same thing: vaccines don't work. If you can easily identify that this is a base rate fallacy and the data presented, which is true, is more reflective of reality when done per 100k of a population (vaxed vs unvaxed).


For fun, I thought I'd look at the numbers in Ontario relating to this Instagram post. I'll take 12+ just because kids are a low risk population. By my calculation an unvaccinated person is 3.2 times more likely to be hospitalized versus a vaccinated person (unvaccinated: 1.302/100k, vaccinated: 0.407/100k). There is also an important piece of information to provide even more context: the most vulnerable population is vaccinated highly. Over 90% of the population over 65 years of age are vaccinated. These are the people most at risk, the most likely to be suffering from health related issues and will have less of an immune response from a vaccine.


The reality is that it shouldn't be crazy to see higher rates among the vaccinated. It should be expected. And as the unvaccinated population continues to shrink and gain natural immunity from infection, the numbers will continue showing more infection for the vaccinated population. This is to be expected and speaks nothing of the vaccine efficacy.


Here is more data that shows how good vaccines are. Cases are currently booming in the US right now with the delta variant and the media is rolling with break through infections. These graphs are from KFF Policy Watch.


Cases:


Hospitalizations:


Despite how negative the vaccines are being perceived coming out of Israel, you'd think they were next to garbage - at least that's what the anti-vaxxers are celebrating. When you stop looking at raw numbers and look at data broken down per 100k of a group - the picture is much more positive. This is from COVID19 Data Science.




Idiot Justin Trudeau and Janssen


Janssen is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. This is an approved vaccine in Canada. Not one shot was administered in this country. When most people in Alberta in March & April 2021 were wondering when the hell they can get a shot, our idiotic federal government thought they'd continue only importing tiny portions of vaccines and refuse Janssen.


Most of the hesitancy with Janssen is the media harping on a very rare blood clotting side effect - similar to AstraZeneca.Also one place making it in the United States that there were thoughts that the manufacturing process wasn't up to par. This claim proved to be false overtime. Not to mention Janssen is made in different countries.


The notion that a vaccine has rare risks and instead no one can have it - and we must all live in lockdown with no vaccines available is criminal. The refusal by the federal government to import the Johnson and Johnson vaccine annoys me to no end. It's an excellent vaccine precisely because it's one shot and done. I think of all the vaccine hesitant people that we have to convince to show up not once, but twice. One shot and done is amazing. The other big benefit is that Janssen doesn't have the rigorous cooling temperatures that the mRNA vaccines have. This means it works a lot better for rural areas and aren't going to have the equipment to handle mRNA. As well, the roll out of them could be put into the hands of pharmacies because they don't require the low temperature for storage.


That's what is so annoying to me. There were days back in March and April where I'd literally curse "where the hell is my vaccine". If the idiot government is going to control all aspects of this where I can't privately pursue a faccine, why the hell is this taking so long? If I was presented with Janssen as an option, with a chance of a rare blood clot, back in March or April I wouldn't have hesitated for a second.


Authority, Tribalism and the Efficacy of your Mind


This is a rather big topic. The one I've taken away from this whole pandemic is that the anti-vaxxers and the pro-vaccine doomers are one and the same. They have identical epistemology, they look at the world the same and they're equally as stupid. I suppose the pro-vaccine doomers at least think vaccines are worth getting - though they do think one should live in a prison of vaccinated people with no freedoms.


A common theme is that your mind is of no use. You don't have the efficacy to understand. Talking with a doomer, and you present back a more optimistic point of view (hey we have lots of vaccinated people we can get back to normal) they'll say something along the lines of oh, you don't know anything. You're not an expert. You can't even understand. You have to listen to them. This is the way of deferring your mind and your thoughts.


I'm not saying that you, an non-expert, can fully understand things like an expert. The notion that you can't comprehend anything at all that is offensive.  You have the idea of understanding on some level. Maybe not fully in depth, but to a degree. Secondly, one has to use their mind to determine  what experts to listen to. There are a lot of people talking. Plenty of people with agendas. Plenty of people that don't know anything. Experts on infectious diseases with opposite views.


It's important to distinguish between the science "is" and policy "ought". Rarely is anyone talking science in and of itself. Science is the real world. Ought is what one ought to do. It's how you use science to make actionable decisions. So when people say "listen to the science", they're not really talking science, but the ought part.


Looking at Australia, they're locking it down over nothing. Treating people like prisoners. It's not like science is different in Australia. It's not like they discovered something brand new about COVID19 and are not sharing it.They have the exact same science, but they have different moral ideology and goals though. Science is qualified that way. Risk, to them, is not allowed and treating people as nothing more than cattle to be herded is acceptable.


I think the most telling sign of this has been the treatment of Dr. Hinshaw by the progressives in Alberta. Early on they loved her. Things were locked down, businesses weren't allowed to be open. They were cheering. They were wearing t-shirts that said "What would Hinshaw do?" You disagree with a policy of hers: shut your mouth, she's an expert, you will do as she says. Now that she wants to go back to normal. This is unheard of.



Here's idiot box Mayor Nenshi. He has the shirt. About opening up: "height of insanity".


The big takeaway from many people who claim to be for science don't actually care about it. All they care about is whether the policy (politically) is being implemented that they like. And once an expert ally changes their view - they're ready to throw them under the bus. I can empathize with those that are shedding the value of experts when the proponents act like this. Though I don't condone it because information and truth matter.


I think at the very least understanding the difference between science and what one ought to do is qualified by ideology and goals that a person is trying to achieve.


Due to this tribalism we see people turn off their minds, find someone to follow that they like and just roll with that - whether it is the "establishment" or counter culture.


Tying us all together

The reason that there is such a divide politically among the views of COVID19 is the notion before that we should be tied together. Masks are a great example of this. I'm fully vaccinated, and I don't want to wear a mask ever again. But it's not enough for these people that they choose to wear a mask - I have to do it for them. I'm tied to them and I have to do it for them and they have to do it for me.


It's not enough that I'm fully vaccinated, they need to see that security blanket on my face. This is what I mean when I say that people believe more in masks than in vaccines.


Never before has anyone been tied together like this where going to work, wanting to go to your friends house is regulated by everyone else. It's scary.


The Culture of Fear

There are three types of people in this pandemic: normal people that want to get back to normal, doomers that want fear and the anti-vaxxer/conspiracy types that also live a life of fear.

I spent a lot of my time ragging on the doomers - who happen to be pro-vaccine. The reason is that they unfortunately are the dominant cultural force. I have noticed this parallel between doomers and the anti-vaxxers, which is fear. They're both groups deathly terrified. One is terrified of COVID19. The other is terrified of vaccines and the litany of conspiracy theories.

For example, there is talk of boosters. The doomers are getting way ahead of themselves because vaccines are still working great at preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death. None the less, they're so scared that they want everyone to be vaccinated - but it's never good enough anyway. Then you have the antivaxxer conspiracy type hearing the doomers and they're terrified of boosters and it's just groups that feed each other fear.

It's depressingly stupid.

Edit August 13 2021: Alberta changes have been delayed until September 27th. Doomers will continue to get their fuel.

Edit August 30 2021: City of Edmonton reinstates mask mandate. I assume Calgary will be along shortly.

Edit September 3 2021: Alberta institutes mandatory masks in public again. City of Calgary also reinstated state of emergency and masks as well on the same day.

Edit September 4 2021: An Open Letter to Jason Kenney

Edit September 14 2021: Well there hasn't been any news as of late. The ICU in Alberta has surpassed capacity and surpassed the quantity set back during the third wave - when vaccines were not really in the population. Normally I would say that no news is good news. No lockdowns have been done or anything like that. But what is happening is that there is an air of uncertainty. There has been Kenney, who seems to be missing in action, and there is Health Minister Shandro can't/won't answer the question about what is on the table and off the table.

Basically I'm looking for Kenney to come out and say that lockdowns are off the table. I think most people would like to know with certainty that this won't happen. I get the impression that one day, like on a Friday, they're just going to lock it down or something. Kenney will never live it down - so I'd like to think that was never going to happen, but a lot of 'not going to happen' has happened. 

Edit September 15 2021: A whole new area of restrictions and lockdown measures have been put in place. So depressing. Locked down with 70% fully vaccinated population. Unreal.
https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-public-health-actions.aspx

Somewhat of a vaccine passport incoming, but details aren't really understood. Some businesses can opt in and no health measures apply (except masks... grrrr). But it seems like retail/grocery can't opt in.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Math Attacked: Socially Constructed

 


Even though most of my discussion on the 'math attacked' series has been something more than just math related, this particular form of attack honestly has nothing to do with math and is broadly applied to anything and all things.

Merrian-Webster defines 'social construct' as the following:

an idea that has been created and accepted by the people in a society

I suppose this is a fair definition, but on its face it looks rather benign. I want to further unpackage social construct because it comes with big epistemological premises.

What is an idea? In this particular case, idea is a concept. The world out there and trying to understand it is the process of creating concepts. The world has things like rocks, ducks, and trees. The world has natural laws like gravity, friction, and conduction. The world contains spatial properties, causality and time. These are all concepts.

I think on the face of it, one doesn't develop concepts socially. If I were to shipwreck myself on some tropical island alone, the notion that I would never be able to understand this place and develop concepts beyond the ones I already know is laughable. I can learn about this place, discover new things and learn new concepts.

What is really meant by 'social construct' is something more Kantian; do we discover the truth out there or do we create it? Concepts are created by individuals. Duck, tree, and gravity are all concepts that have been created, but are they about things discovered out there in the world or did we create this world and the things in it? The Kantian view is that we know nothing about the real world and it is not possible for us to discover anything - it's created. 

Kant had his particular view of how one creates reality - automatically and preconsciously, but those that use 'social construct' are speaking of something a little different. In this way you automatically create reality based on your social class and power that comes with it. It's a very Marxist view. There are no individuals. We are just automatons advancing our class/group/race/collective struggle against others and the concepts we create are nothing more than for our class/group/race/collective.

This is all that is meant by this. If you take the concept of integrity, this is constructed and constructed to benefit only a specific class of people. Integrity, to those outside this class, is a prison - an inescapable concept prison. Other people may roll with the idea of integrity as contradicting your own moral beliefs. Who's to say that one is better than the other? The only reason we accept integrity as moral uprightness is the power structure in society.

And these thoughts reach into a variety of topics we see manifesting in society such as gender pronouns.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Trevor Tombe: The Liberal Economists

 This is more of a regional post as Trevor is an economist that teaches at UofC in Calgary and comments on local politics. I normally don't have issues with liberal economists. They're generally pretty good on issues. They're liberal in their politics and they agree with all the ends of left-wing politics, but they don't have that hatred of the market that tends to permeate left-wing people in general.

I do run into issues when they're dishonest. This is a larger issue that requires it's own post, but it's sort of the philosophical idea (epistemology) that is working well into our culture. Truth is not a matter of fact, but a matter of political pressure and goals. It's very similar to Marx's view that all society is groups fighting for power and truth is merely a groups power play - nothing more. There is bourgeoisie 'truth' and that truth benefits that group and their power in society. And the same applies to proletariat.

Basically this all manifests as people who can't separate politics from anything because everything is a power play and objective reality (facts as they are) may benefit a competing group.

Exhibit A:


What I find most annoying about this tweet is the last sentence. It doesn't follow from the previous point, without the intention of obfuscating the facts on the ground. "Monetary policy is conducted by the Bank of Canada." Right. The sky is blue. Ducks go quack. 

Government deficits, in and of themselves, don't create inflation. In an ideal scenario, the government issues bonds, private buyers in the market purchases them and it's a regular transition of money from one party to another.

This deficit doesn't work this way. The Bank of Canada purchases the bonds the Federal government issues, and that is an injection of new non-existent cash into the market. That's an inflationary act of monetary policy.

I find this very annoying from someone that knows this and purposely muddies the waters. The distinction being made here is that it's just gas prices, and somehow deficits with Bank of Canada bond purchases are unrelated to inflation. He may be correct about gas prices being the main mover here, (he would never say carbon tax as he's a supporter of this in the power structure), but it just so misleading what he presented. 

Exhibit B:

Trevor Tombe: Rejecting equalization spurns a crucial principle of Confederation

This is another interesting piece because it's just a strawman from the start. It's very clear that the UCP has no intention of fundamentally changing the idea behind equalization.  He rants on this about a desire to abolish it.

I find myself saying to myself, with the characterization of conservatives by liberals in Alberta, "I wish they were what you think they are". Literally. The culture in welfare is so engrained in Canadians - the UCP has no desire to remove provincial governments receiving handouts & welfare. The sacrifice of the strong to the weak is the predominant cultural idea in Canada.

The equalization referendum is about exerting some pressure. Being strong doesn't mean bleeding us to death and definitely empathize with this.

I wish this was on ending equalization. The average Canadian hates Alberta. Atlantic Canada the most. They resent everyone that leaves and heads to Alberta to build a life for themselves. It's that culture of hating the successful. It's about hating the good for being good. And they hate Alberta so much they'll stagnate and bleed it.

If only this was about ending it. 

The ironic part about all this, with asserting autonomy, the so called Alberta Firewall - Quebec does it and everyone bows down. Alberta just brings up the idea of it and mocked, scoffed and hated. 

Anyway,

Trevor put down the power plays and focus on just presenting truth as it is.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Reddit, Gamestop and Market Nihilism

 I've been exceptionally busy lately and haven't had the time to really work on any content, but the whole GameStop and reddit thing was too much to not at least discuss. I see a few glaring things that really paint a horrible picture of the state of society - in particular the younger people.

What is happening here is really simple. All these Redditors are buying up GameStop, Blackberry, AMC and other stocks. It's a concerted effort that is driving up the prices of these stocks. All of these companies are weak companies, so we have Hedge Funds moving into short them. Now, if not always, this has been projected as this battle between the regular folks and the big bad Hedgefunds.

A few takeaways:

The Market is just a game

The only thing I can take away from the redditors is that the market is just a game. They don't view investing, taking money to make more money, as anything real. They view it merely as shuffling papers, moving money around and the rich get more of it - while everyone gets screwed.

Investing is a noble act of allocating resources where it is best suited. It is one of the few areas where reason is the dominant proponent of it and hence why it is so derided. One has to choose where to put money that will generate the most output. Short sellers, the true heroes of this story, are the ones that are taking on tremendous risk to keep the market efficient. Resources that go to poor companies, like GameStop, Blackberry, AMC, etc actually take away from the market. People creating cancer cures seem like a better place for money than a failing brick and mortar game shop.

So first take away: the market, investing, is just this game of papers and moving money around.


Reality is just whatever 

GameStop is a brick and mortar game business. It's dying and has no future. It has poor fundamentals and overall not worth much. This is reality. With the view that the market is just a game, is to detach the business from what it really is. What makes GameStop a 30 billion dollar company? Nothing more than the fact that they can chase the price out.

The fundamentals don't change despite this and eventually things will go back to where they belong - not before crushing some.

Conclusion

I didn't have much time for writing this, so I just wanted to keep it simple. The heroes of this story are the hedge funds for shorting these companies. They are making reality based decision making. The redditors are nihilistically approaching the market with nothing, but destruction as their goal.

The Energy Market with Unreliables

 The energy market is going to be something that will be on people's minds for a long time because right now there is very poor policy a...