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Wildcatting: A Stripper’s Guide to the Modern American Boomtown
Susan Elizabeth Shepard. BuzzFeed
… It’s not the charm that brings dancers to Whispers, though. We’re in Williston, North Dakota, because oil companies are here working to extract the abundant natural resources of the region, and to do so, they require many men to work for them. Female company is far less abundant than the petroleum resources of the Bakken Formation. It is mobile, though, so here we come, the next sign of a boomtown after the oil and the men.
… The psychological principle of intermittent rewards explains the addictive appeal of gambling and Twitter. You might get a treat and you might not, and you never know, so you keep trying to see what happens next. It is the most American behavioral phenomenon..
Mineral extraction economies activate this neural mechanism: wildcatting, prospecting for gold — gambles that may pay off. Today it’s no longer the individual who makes these scores, of course, it’s corporations, but the work and opportunity draws those with nothing to lose but the trying. … every time there’s a mining boom, it plays out thusly: Someone finds a valuable resource. People hear about it and flock to the area. These people are mainly men. The newly populated area is lawless and lacks the civilizing influence of family life. Among the first women to show up are prostitutes. For a while, everyone makes money and has fun. Or some people do, some gambles pay off. Then the resource dries up or its price drops, and the gamble isn’t profitable anymore, and the town eventually dries up or turns into a tourist attraction — or San Francisco, if it’s lucky. Because our brains are wired to want to continue taking that chance, everyone keeps gambling, no one thinks the boom will bust. It will. It always will..
… I became a traveling stripper somewhat late in my career, mainly because I spent a very, very long time stripping my way through college. It was just after my 18th birthday when I started dancing, and it was another year and a half before I enrolled at the University of Texas in the winter of 1996. In the summer of 2005, I took my last final and received my English B.A.
(25 July 2013)
Recommended by AM who writes, "This is an amazing piece. Maybe I’m grading on a curve because I didn’t expect such thoughtful and articulate writing from a stripper" -BA
Reports of the Death of Peak Oil Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones
A week or so ago, there was a mini-flurry of blog posts announcing that peak oil was dead. Thanks to shale oil, tar sands, heavy oil, deepwater oil, and all the other kinds of oil that the peakists didn’t know about, the world was now practically drowning in the stuff.
The whole thing was very strange for several reasons.
First, the peak oil community not only knows about all those kinds of nonconventional oil, its forecasts have always included them in minute detail. The question isn’t whether they exist, it’s when production declines in existing mature fields will outpace the modest amounts of new oil we’re getting from nonconventional sources and new drilling technologies.
Second, the world isn’t drowning in oil. There’s no dispute that shale oil has ramped up over the past few years, but it’s added only a couple of million barrels a day to worldwide production and it’s likely to start declining pretty quickly (within five or ten years or so). It’s really not that big a deal on a global scale.
Third, peak oil has never been only about the exact date that production of oil hits its highest point. It’s been about how long production will plateau; how steep the subsequent decline will be; how expensive it will be to extract nonconventional oil; and how much oil prices will spike up and down as demand bumps up permanently against supply limits.
(25 July 2013)
George Mitchell, a Pioneer in Hydraulic Fracturing, Dies at 94
Douglas Martin, New York Times
George P. Mitchell, the son of a Greek goatherd who capped a career as one of the most prominent independent oilmen in the United States by unlocking immense natural gas and petroleum resources trapped in shale rock formations, died on Friday in Galveston, Tex. He was 94.
… Mr. Mitchell’s role in championing new drilling and production techniques like hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is credited with creating an unexpected natural gas boom in the United States. In a letter to President Obama last year, Daniel Yergin, the energy scholar and author, proposed that Mr. Mitchell be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
(26 July 2013)