Blog from April 2001

There are 3 blog entries from April 2001

Government 2306 Critical Paper #2
April 17th, 2001 | View Post
Government 2306
Critical Paper #2
Committee Hearing in the House

Committee Hearing in the House
Energy Resources

As I began listening to the discussions that were taking place in the Committee Hearing, it occurred to me that these people are just that, people. They do not speak as poets or even articulate writers. If we could call these men and women anything at all (besides what they are), it seems that we could call them non-threatening lawyers. These people are simply sitting around discussing current issues that are problems or at least potential problems in regards to Texas as a whole. In this particular case, the topic of interest is energy resources, as that is the committee that I chose to listen to.

What I find so interesting about this committee meeting, or I would assume any of them is the simple fact that these men and women are simply civilly discussing issues that affect my life in one way or another. Perhaps not right now, but at some point in the future, any one of these issues could come into play for me.

The majority of this segment that I found most interesting was on the taxation or lack thereof of the dried up or forgotten oil wells in Texas. I found this topic to be interesting in the meeting because I feel that its points were argued relatively well, and my father is an oil broker, thus giving me an interest in the taxable steps involved in his business. It certainly would have helped to have known more about the bills that these men and women were discussing, but on the flipside, they argued their points well enough that the bills they spoke of were fairly simple to interpret. One of the many topics discussed on the taxation of oil wells is due to oil entrepreneurs that create an oil well, milk it until it is dry or until the oil is unobtainable (if in fact there ever was oil to take from it), and then move on.

If we look at this concept for what it is we must first look at what drilling for oil actually creates. After speaking with Howard Ludlow, my father, on the matter, I was able to get a layman version of what goes on. The actual space that is necessary for drilling these days is no larger then a one hundred foot squared area. An apparatus is setup to drill, which nowadays can be nothing more then a mobile rig on a truck. In older times humans would have to drill within 5,000 ft to obtain oil but as times have changed and we have taken more and more of our precious resource, it has become necessary to drill deeper and deeper. These days a hole of 10,000 ft or deeper is common. As the hole is drilled (about 4-6" in diameter, the drill is threaded in such a way so that the ground waste that it extracts, called the tailings, are removed at the top of the well. They are usually left in a pile nearby the drilling well. Using a little math, a 6" hole at 10,000 ft would create about 2000 cubic foot of waste that is simply thrown to the side.

Now back to the argument at hand. Most all of the large drilling manufacturers at this point will drill until they can drill no longer. Oil or not, we will assume that the drilling process is over. After they have completed their drilling, they will fill in the hole with a special mixture and then cap it off. The excess waste is plowed over and a small hill is all that is left in this area. The problem is that smaller businesses will not always do this and the House has a large problem with this, I suspect mainly for environmental reasons. Once the well is no longer commercially viable to them, they simply move on to another "hole".

The House wants to create a tax that would be imposed on all oil companies which would then set aside a fund for plugging the dry oil wells up so that they do not pose a threat to the environment or to society for that matter. This would not only impose a tax on the general public, this would also impose a somewhat unnecessary tax to the oil companies that are already doing this, Exxon for example. As we hear from Ben Siebry, a representative from the big oil businesses in Texas, we are informed of this liability that these irresponsible oil drillers create. The larger drilling companies have recently come together (as of last summer) to discuss the issue of dry wells being left as they were when the drilling was finished. They have estimated that the amount of money that is necessary for this yearly operation is about $20 million. In turn, they have taken it upon themselves to raise the capital that is necessary but are fairly only able to allocate $12 million. What they are now asking for is to be taxed the remaining $8 million that it will take to adequately clean and plug these drill holes for every drilling business in Texas.

I feel that this is the right thing to do and asking to be taxed to fix an environmental problem is a huge step for any big business to take. The problem that they now face is that there has been another proposal for taxation which would allocate some $48 million towards this project. They feel that this is completely unnecessary and that the extra $28 million will simply be wasted tax dollars that they as businesses will have to spend. I fully agree with them being against this tax as they have taken it upon themselves to remedy the problem. Obviously there are always hidden costs and such involved in the processes and it would be easy for them to simply argue that they have solved their own mess and have now created a solution because if it doesn't work as they planned, they will still benefit and save over $40 million in tax dollars. I also however feel that their tax proposal for $8 million should be taken seriously and that the ins and outs of it should be examined very closely by the House. Perhaps in doing so a compromise can be made or their tax proposal could in fact be very sound in such a case it should be put into action.

British Literature 2322 Extra Credit
April 12th, 2001 | View Post
British Literature I English 2322 T-TH
April 12th, 2001
The Reality of Shakespeare's World
Extra Credit Paper

Shakespeare in Love

I found that Shakespeare in Love was a fantastic interpretation of sixteenth century London as we have studied in class. In addition to the movie representing the time period quite well, I feel that the script and especially the actors did a wonderful job of telling the story of Mr. Shakespeare.

In order to analyze this movie, I think it must be stated that the movie touches on more subjects than just Shakespeare's life and playwriting career. It depicts very emotionally the idea that women were not part of the theatre, and were certainly not to dress up as men as Viola does (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). Of course, I say that this is emotional because it depicts how a person, especially of this time, could be so fascinated with the idea of acting that they could risk not only embarrassment to themselves but even punishment. As we progress into the movie, we learn that Viola is to marry a Lord under the blessing of the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth. As we discussed in class, regarding Anne of the Thousand Days, when you are to be married under consent of the King or Queen, you are married. It is not necessarily a topic up for discussion. It is in this regard that movie strongly depicts how powerful love can be, and perhaps should be. While Viola is already engaged in breaking the law acting under the name of Thomas Kent, she has an affair with Shakespeare which despite a previous ruler, Henry VIII, was not a pleasantly looked upon event at this time, especially regarding the woman. They did an exquisite job depicting the severity of these actions in the play and make the thoughts of the consequences between the characters seem very real.

I reviewed parts of the movie on the DVD and also with some friends of mine who had seen the movie before to try and find errors in it. Not so much errors of speech, but rather anachronisms, something that I always try to look for in movies not set in this time period. In a two-hour movie I was only able to find two of these with the help of my girlfriend. I have studied Shakespeare before in my day both independently to an extent, and more so in classes. As trivial as it may seem, I have been told that Shakespeare did not write his plays with regards to scenes and much less acts yet in the movie this is used. I checked up on this and it seems to be a solid fact. After doing some research, I also discovered that another anachranous part of this movie was the discussion of tobacco plantations, which did not get going until the early to mid 1600s. Fortunately enough this information coincided with my History class and since the movie takes place in the very late sixteenth century, I find it difficult to believe that tobacco plantations in the new land would have been a discussion.

The Paintball Gun
Story circa April 4th, 2001 | View Post
This was an absolutely ridiculous idea from the get-go, but somehow Dave G and I thought it would be fun. Since we were both making pretty good salaries and really not having much to pay for other than rent and bills, we were buying all sorts of random toys for around the house.

One afternoon we took off to Academy and came across some paintball guns. Thinking paintballing might be something we could get into, we each bought a gun, an over-sized hopper, and a box of paint. Of course the problem with having a paintball gun is that you inevitably want to shoot it. And once you shoot it, you inevitably want to shoot it at something. And after that milestone, you inevitably want to shoot at someone.

Dave and I got the idea that we would each get to shoot the other person one time. Dayna happened to come over and was more than happy to bear witness to this. We drew to see who went first and Dave lost. He marched over to a tree in our backyard, probably about 20 yards away and turned his back to me. I calked the gun, told him I was going to fire, and shot him square in the back. He got a huge welt as we expected, but was otherwise fine seeing on how he knew he was about to return the favor.

I marched over to the same tree and turned my back to Dave. He fired, but his first shot missed me! This actually only made my situation far worse as I could literally hear the air from the paintball whizzing by my head. The apprehensiveness of being shot from such a close distance was terrible. Finally Dave took aim again and fired. He hit me square in corner of my right ear. It stung terribly and the entirety of my head and ear were covered in water-based paint.

I have no idea what Dayna thought of all of this, but she happily watched on.