“Operator, will you help me place this call.” The opening line of a Jim Croce song reminds me of the days when my aunt was a Bell telephone operator – one of those women without whose assistance one could not make a telephone call to a town 15 miles away. Telephone operators in those early days had their fingers on the pulse – and the actual wires carrying the conversations – within their domains.
The confluence of birthrate and technology
IA teenage girl pulls out her smartphone, and flicks her finger a few times at the screen. A message flashes in a thought bubble to let her know her crescent and chai tea have been paid.
“War on coal” ends, water is the new target
I woke early Tuesday morning, to the sound of July thunder, and the splattering of humungous raindrops on the roof above my pillow. In my childhood memories, the lake ice is becoming unsafe to walk on. Soon it will turn to crystals that tinkle in the waves of a light spring breeze. One morning soon, the first loon of the year will issue the celebratory call announcing open water.
Continue reading “War on coal” ends, water is the new target
“Poverty-stricken” Shell Oil offered $2B taxpayer handout to set up in Pa.
Shell Oil Co., a child of Royal Dutch Shell – the latter reportedly the largest oil company in Europe and second largest company in the world – is thinking about building an ethane cracker plant in Monaca Borough, Beaver County, 30-some miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Pa.
The proposed plant would be used to “crack” ethane from natural gas derived from wells drilled into the Marcellus Shale in the southwestern region of the state. The cracking process results in ethylene, used mostly in making plastics.
The plant will benefit from Act 16 of 2012, a bill the Pa. General Assembly adopted to exempt the giant firm from paying state income and property taxes for 15 years. Continue reading “Poverty-stricken” Shell Oil offered $2B taxpayer handout to set up in Pa.
Some Marcellus-related companies may be boosting profits by importing illegal workers
A newspaper story Thursday reported a federal indictment against a Texas-based company accused of bringing illegal workers to Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale fracking fields.
Coincidentally, workers in West Virginia are staffing road-side positions, protesting the practice of some Marcellus-related companies bringing out-of-state workers to take jobs for which local workers are available.
“We have a lot of people trained to do the work,” Stephen “Vern” Montoney, of Randolph County, W.Va told me last week.
Sometimes it takes us all
Wind power, a Pennsylvania state politician recently said, is accomplishing one thing: spending taxpayer money.
But there is growing evidence it is doing other, more positive things, such as creating jobs and supplying the electrical grid – with considerably less risk than the Keystone State’s other burgeoning energy source.
Replacing humans with machines not necessarily a cost savings
The Messeder Space Pod (for want, at present, of a better name) finally is ready to go. My co-pilot in life and other travels went visiting her sister a couple months ago, and came home in love with an r-Pod, a small (18-foot) camper trailer not much bigger than the original space capsule that carried Astronaut Alan Shepard from Cape Canaveral to a wet spot in the Atlantic Ocean.
Renewable energy has jobs for the future, now
Amid the political posturing about the nation’s unemployment rate, two encouraging tidbits surfaced in the news flow this week.
The first item was that rising unemployment numbers might well indicate increasing numbers of jobs. Counter-intuitive, but true.
The second item to grab my ear was there are plenty of new jobs in the renewable energy industry, particularly for anyone interested in climbing 300-foot high wind-power towers to maintain the turbines.
And interested also, possibly, in moving from where they live to where the jobs are. (There was a time in this nation’s history when it was normal to move one’s residency for promise of income.)
For instance, Oklahoma has been beneficiary of a boom in wind-power generation, with small, jobless towns gaining treasure in much the way northern tier Pennsylvania towns have benefited from the Marcellus Shale … Read it all …