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Charles J. Armentrout – Ann Arbor
2015 Nov 26


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Obama Decides On Keystone XL

Obama announced at 11:00 Nov 6 in 2015 that the contentious Keystone XL program has been rejected.

This is written minutes after President Obama publicly announced his administration’s rejection of the Keystone upgrade project. LastTechAge has been following this since the original Keystone pipeline was approved, built and immediately called obsolete.

click for list of Keystone XL posts in LastTechAge

The President gave 3 justifications for his rejection of the project

  • Obama rejected the hype from both the far right, far left and shadings in between.

He rejected Right-wing claim that KXL would generate huge job opportunities for the foreseeable future. He is right.  There would be construction jobs, but no long range possibilities of new jobs. The 2010 Keystone line generated few long term jobs, the KXL would probably have generated fewer yet. Obama has already have achieved 5% unemployment in the face of congressional opposition and Congress appears unwilling to pass his legislation to generate job increases as much as 30 times higher than KXL would have.
No worry about true job loss.

He rejected the Left-wing claim that KXL would by itself cause devastating climate catastrophe by encouraging more raping of the Alberta wildlife.  He is right.  The U.S. does not have the power over the Canadian Athabasca fields. We would not even influence the Canadian population, always suspicious of U.S. motives.  Canadians must take care of the Alberta ecological disaster, themselves.  It will be really interesting to watch Trudeau with his new policies.
There will be no test of the climate disaster hypothesis – thank goodness.

He did not address the ground water issue.  We, at LastTechAge, listed this as the top issue for opposition.  KXL had significantly (A) larger pipe line diameters than those used in the current Keystone systems (for more volume flow), (B) thinner pipe walls than the standard used in Keystone (for lower expenses), and (C) oil pressure to push through more fluid than used in the leaky Keystone system. (A) (B) and (C) for the recipe for a disaster. Keystone records show that the intended inspection processes is terribly inadequate, to be polite, for assured aquifer protection KXL was a pending disaster for our Midwest population, but a really nice home-run for the deeply involved Koch brothers, with headquarters in Cushing Oklahoma.
Disaster averted.

  • Obama rejected the argument that KXL was super important to reduce oil prices.

He is right.  His point: oil prices are dropping anyway and he is working hard to get Congress to accept legislation to reduce our total usage, which will reduce prices further. He did not mention, however, the role Saudi Arabia has played by increasing its drain on the nearly exhausted Saudi oil pools. 
Prices will change as they will, independent of KXL reality.

  • Obama rejected the argument that the transport of “dirty crude”  (his phrase) is essential to maintain our energy independence and security.

He is right.  His point was that the goal for reduced oil imports that his administration set for 202o were met in 2015  –  his current policies are working!   He did not mention that the “crude” being shipped is the really dirty DILBIT, the abrasive result from the shale oil fields that is mixed with aggressive solvents to flow more smoothly along pipes but also attacks the walls.
He point out that his administration’s goal is for the U.S. to reduce reliance on oil and gasoline. Keep the oil reserves “in the ground” as he said.  He has legislation into Congress to increase “renewable” energy use, if only the congressmen (and women) will pass it.

An adjunct point is that the KXL oil was destined for the Gulf coast near major shipping ports.  It was never meant for U.S. consumption. If it were, there would have been major upgrades to the refineries in Illinois (where Keystone oil currently goes) and possible new refineries at Cushing, Oklahoma, where Texas oil and Keystone oil both reach. Better oil processing capabilities in the Midwest would mean new oil for our security.
TransCanada will now have to deal with Pacific Canadian ports or the Canadian East Coast ports.  Will Canadians allow it?

President Obama restated his ambition to maintain American world leadership for climate change abatement.  I do not have figures at-hand concerning the relative standing of our regulations vs other countries. But we have actively resisted regulating the various avenues of pollution and are not at the top.  Well, actually it has been our anti-governance Congress that has resisted making changes to secure a clean future for our children – I think Obama deserves a pass on this position.

This announcement was wonderful news and I felt a strengthening of our future directions, if only a little.

Charles J. Armentrout, Ann Arbor
2015 Nov 06
Listed under   Natural Resources … a post in the thread > Keystone XL
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Time Path – Probability Begins It

The probables in the Potential Future use Bayesian hooks into the events of Now to continuously form Reality

We continue discussing the Time Path, with a closer look at what must be happening when potential events become real events. We examine the natural flow of probable uncertainties that seem to be at play.   In a sense, we try to “clarify” by emphasizing probability, a topic most people find hard to visualize.

Future Now int Past

Fig 1  Time Path visualization. Dots indicate events,

Fig 1 is a visualization image meant to focus the discussion on the structure of time.  Activity flows like this  from right to left in the image.   Click any image for full resolution

  • the Future  is an undetermined swirl of potential actions converging toward events.  Probability is the only reality.
  • the Now  is the focus of where things happen.  Now is the coalescence of probabilities into actualized events or vanished alternatives, the occurrence point where things possible become things actual.
  • the Past  is the record of actual events that have happened.  Happening events push realized ones out of the becoming Now and into the actualized past.
click for a list of our discussions about the Time-path

The Time Path is a  speculative view, developed from my own and many other viewpoints. This is a  post in the Time Path Ontology chain.  I suspect that you should read the previous Time Path posts to get the full visualization.  I am solely responsible for any errors or misstatements.

Is time really like the flight of an arrow?

It certainly feels like we are rushing forwards toward something in the future. Really? Why not backwards into the past, instead?  This is a reasonable question if events truly are “flowing toward the future,” because basic physics allows actions to work equally well forwards or backwards.  We grew up with the imagery of flowing time that it is hard to discard. Continue reading

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Time Path – Exploring the past

How can we know that this Which caused that What?  It depends on how we use the timepath.

We continue where we stopped our discussion in  Time Path – The Flow of Time. and discuss how we identify what happened in the past. The timepath visualization of Fig 1 helps us understand the past.    (Click any figure for full resolution.)

Time path Slice

Fig 1 A vertical slice across the timepath establishes an instant for examination

Our timepath is formed out of the the Past (the unchanging record of events that have occurred) the Now (where possible actions are actualized to the events that form reality), and the Future (the open possibilities for potential actions that could become realized in the Now).

The horizontal direction ( ) is time direction leading from the Now, when such things started, into the Past.   A vertical slice ( | ) separates the timepath into left and right regions.  The perfectly thin slice is an instantaneous 3 dimensional  image of the entire universe.  The moment Now is an example of such a slice.

We start with a quick summary of what the timepath means, then examine how use slices and look at our Past to discover activity patterns.  We will reach 3 conclusions:

  1.  A timepath slice should be an instantaneous view of the universe, but – because every event loses contrast as it moves deeper into the fog of the past – the width along the timepath must increase as we move into the deeper past. Such a 3D separator marks an interval about a specific time in the past so we can label events as before and after.  Our choice of a boundary will effect our judgement of cause and effect.
  1. We cannot identify every last thing that happened on any chosen boundary, so differences in interpretations are inevitable.
  1. Since Now is the beginning of the timepath, it is NOT a “boundary” – it does not divide realized events into before and afterNow is one-sided, having only the entire Past before.

Continue reading

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Time path – the flow of time

What are the Past and Future? What is Now? The time path is interesting

Our experience of time is focused around what we describe as Now.  Before Now, there is no time containing any realized structure, just interconnected potential actions each with variably possible chances that coalesce into becoming the actualized events that are finalized Now.  After Now there are no probabilities for new things to occur.  There is just the past, as a record of events that have already happened.

I hope you are still with me after the twisted language in that paragraph, I have been working on the concept of time for many years.  Human words were not designed to discuss the structure of time, itself, so we will begin exploring what words imply.
Click any image for full resolution.

The path of time

Fig 1:  The time path. Activity flows from future probabilities to realization Now and into the past

Fig 1 is our picture to help focus the discussion.  The flow of an activity is from right to left in the picture, with Now being the focus of where things happen.

3 states of reality

  • Future (or potential), the assembly of all the possible ways potential events could happen. Reality happens when the amorphous ensemble of possibilities converge into actual events.  So the future is the potential for all that could happen,not a tangible, real condition.
  • Now (or becoming), the location where all the myriad possibilities solidify into real and unchangeable events.  This coalescing of all possible actions into real events has been called the ‘glowing,’ or ‘burning’ edge of time. It is where new actions form and our awareness happens. The flow of time does not stop because there is no firm paved path to walk along.  Time flow occurs because there newly crystallized events that becomes the new Now.
  • Past (or being), the location of fixed reality. The newly forming events push the ones that have firmly happened out of Now. This action generates the sequence we call the time path and forms the “past.”

This picture means that the future is not predestined, that it is the myriad formless ways that things could happen. Continue reading

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Obama, Overtime and Saez-Piketty

Obama’s new overtime rules will change business practice. What does they speak to: injustice, inequality or something else?

The July 1, 2015 New York Times Business section carried an analysis by Noam Scheiber on proposed new Overtime rules, Obama Overtime Rule Scratches the Surface in Helping the Middle Class.

Noam Scheiber, New York Times

Fig 1  Noam Scheiber, New York Times

Obama proposes new Overtime (OT) rules to help to push back the income inequality that has been growing in our country for decades. The Rule raises the threshold for people who may be exempted from additional compensation for more the 40 hours work in any week. These exempt workers are paid by salary, not by time clock records, and are not compensated for any additional work hours beyond the those 40.

Mr. Scheiber’s first comment is very accurate – Obama’s new Rules will have almost no affect on Middle Class income.

This is because it changes how to improve compensation for job related work hours beyond the standard 40  hr/wk. OT pay is not part of a contract, it is fortuitous money that occasionally arrives but cannot be included in a budget.  This rule will do little to nothing to offset the social income pump that shifts money from the lower wage workers into the accounts of the ultra wealthy.

Noam Scheiber ties the lack of effectiveness to the income inequality studies published by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. The analysis ends with a solid discussion of what really is needed to begin addressing our ongoing income shift.   We examine his points with observations to underline his basic conclusions. Click any image for full resolution.

Overtime (OT) Pay

click for our discussions on economic inequality

Currently, a salaried worker who makes above $23,660 may be classified by the company as an exempt employee (not eligible for OT pay).  Let’s examine whether a change would make a difference. Continue reading

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TPP to Piketty – The Slow War

Trans  Pacific Partnership, Retirement Security, and Piketty income inequality are backdrop to slow but very real warfare.

The TPP issue is not an isolated topic but part of deep background to an unspoken but real efforts to change the structure of the American republic.  We discuss it with 2 other issues. Our Outline:  TPPRetirement SecuritySaez Piketty inequality trends

The TPP negotiations are connected to the economic security now and in the future for retirees which is also tied to Thomas Piketty’s results on inequality. Click any image to see full resolution form.

TPP  Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement

The TPP is desperately wanted by Obama and top Republicans.  There has been strong behind-the-scene maneuvering to give Obama fast track negotiation authority.

Barack Obama 2009-2016Barack Obama‘s fast-track negotiation authority has past through the House and Senate. He can now do with it as he wants.  He claims it will boost our trade, increase our net wealth, and be very good for the other signatories.

He may be right about that last point. You might agree with his other points, if you are one of the leaders of our largest corporations, or are the scion of one of our “old wealth” families.

Our Slow Revolution   It is bad for the rest of us, though.  The TPP is the current battle ground in our 35 year (and counting) struggle to convert our populist democracy into an hereditary oligarchy.  There has been much written about the trap TPP represents.

James Surowiecki

Fig 2 James Surowiecki, Columnist, New Yorker

Dean Baker

FIg 3  Dean Baker, Co-director, CEPR

James Surowiecki, Columnist for the New Yorker Financial Page, highlights  the frightening  issue of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), posted his analysis of TPP implications.

Our opposition follows both arguments. Continue reading

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