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By Robert Rapier on Aug 23, 2006 with no responses

World’s Worst Businessman

That would be me. I think I do some things pretty well. I think I can communicate, verbally or in print, in a way to convey even complex subjects to a wide range of audiences. I think I am pretty good at ferreting out good claims from questionable claims. I have been told that I am a good debater. Business acumen, however, is not one of my strengths. I have known this for a long time. The first time I bought a new vehicle (I was 19), the salesman asked how much I wanted for my trade-in. When I told him, he said “How about we give you $500 more than that?” A car salesman took pity on me. Of… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 22, 2006 with no responses

Inventory Management

I have been engaged in an e-mail exchange with a journalist overseas who is writing an article on gasoline pricing in the U.S. I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t be any more specific than that. However, I do want to share a couple of responses that I sent regarding some questions of price-gouging. In one response, I commented on the writings of Tim Hamilton and Jamie Court at the FTCR. I have documented their cluelessness in a previous essay: Another Uninformed Consumer Watchdog This time, I was asked about this particular document by Court and Hamilton: Low gasoline inventories set the stage for $4 at the pump in 2006 Their claim is that oil companies are… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 17, 2006 with no responses

Why GM Killed the Electric Car?

I am a big fan of electrifying our transportation grid, but I recognize that we still need to do a bit better on battery storage technology before electric cars can be expected to make serious inroads as the transportation mode of choice. I have not yet seen “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, but a lot of the second-hand information I have seen seems to indicate that the program was killed without much justification. I wish the program hadn’t been canceled, but I wondered if there wasn’t a bit more to the story. Well, today a few more pieces fell into place. Someone at The Oil Drum linked to a post in Google Groups that gave an explanation for why the… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 16, 2006 with no responses

Prop 87 Interview

I was interviewed yesterday by reporter Marc Strassman from Etopia News. There is a brief story, including a link to the interview, at: California Politics Today #631 The interview went in a lot of different directions (not just Prop 87), and it lasted for almost an hour. It went pretty smoothly for the most part. I misspoke on at least two occasions. Once, Mr. Strassman asked about Peak Oil, and said that most studies suggest that it will happen by 2010. I told him that I didn’t think it would be that soon, but I mentioned that the Hirsch report warned that we would need to begin preparations 20 years prior to the peak, and we are certainly within that… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 13, 2006 with no responses

California’s Proposition 87

Introduction I have intended to write this essay for a couple of months, but I have really struggled with what I wanted to write. Voters in California will decide on Proposition 87 in November. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who support this initiative, and even one who helped write the language of the initiative. Therefore, this essay is difficult to write, as it may offend some people whose friendship I value. I have no doubt that this initiative will pass, but I have a lot of problems with the way this campaign is being run, and how oil companies are being vilified in order to win support for this measure. To be certain, oil companies are looking… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 10, 2006 with no responses

Xethanol Story

Xethanol Debunked (Updated 8-11-06 to dissect XNL News Release) In case you didn’t see it, earlier this week the website Sharesleuth.com posted a blistering exposé of Xethanol (XNL: AMEX): Xethanol Corp A recent press release from Xethanol describes the company as follows: Xethanol Corporation’s goal is to be a leader in the emerging biomass-to-ethanol and biofuels industry. Xethanol’s mission is to optimize the use of biomass in the renewable energy field and convert biomass that is currently being abandoned or land filled into ethanol and other valuable co-products, especially xylitol. Xethanol’s strategy is to deploy proprietary biotechnologies that will extract and ferment the sugars trapped in these biomass waste concentrations. Xethanol’s strategic value proposition is to produce ethanol and valuable… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 8, 2006 with no responses

Imagining the Future of Gasoline

The essay below was cross-posted to The Oil Drum. Mr. Khosla is opening up his ethanol ideas to public criticism, which is a good thing for all parties. We have been debating these issues via phone and e-mail for quite a while now, and it is time to open up the debate to a wider audience. Enjoy. ——————- One thing I strongly believe in is the issue of fairness. I enjoy a good scientific debate, and I find that the best debates are those in which opposing sides are honestly presented. With this in mind, below I present Vinod Khosla’s vision of our energy future. If you are like me, you will find aspects of agreement, and aspects of disagreement,… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 29, 2006 with no responses

A Conversation with Vinod Khosla

Introduction and Background In my recent essay Vinod Khosla Debunked, I challenged Mr. Khosla to a written debate on his recent ethanol claims. Mr. Khosla e-mailed me shortly after that essay appeared, and offered to discuss the matter by phone. I wanted to first make sure he understood my objections, so we exchanged several e-mails in which I spelled them out. Finally, he called this morning and we spent about an hour and a half on the phone. There was very little small talk – no chit chat, jokes, or laughter. We got right down to business. I took a lot of notes, and I will try to reproduce the conversation. He encouraged me to report on what we talked… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jul 28, 2006 with no responses

Caught in a Lie

I have seen a lot of claims lately from the pro-ethanol contingent that the ethanol subsidy is actually a “Big Oil” subsidy. That claim is repeated in the following newly published article: Ethanol subsidies won´t lower gas prices, consumer group reports. July 28 — Increased federal and state subsidies for ethanol production will not benefit consumers in the form of lower gas prices, according to a study by a nonpartisan consumer tax group. Taxpayers subsidize the ethanol industry to the tune of $2 billion per year through an ethanol tax credit of 51 cents per gallon and government corn-crop payments, the National Taxpayers Union report said. The report criticized the industry for not being able to compete in the marketplace… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on with no responses

The Demagoguery Continues

I have been watching the news closely to see who would be the first politician to attempt to score political points as oil companies released profits this week. The prize was won by Nevada Senator Harry Reid: Reid: The Republican Congress Puts Big Oil Before Working Families Source: U.S. Newswire WASHINGTON, July 27 /U.S. Newswire/ — The following release was issued today by the Senate Democratic Communications Center: Once again, Big Oil is reporting stunning profits as Americans pay skyrocketing prices for gas. With ExxonMobil today reporting $10 billion in second quarter profits, the second largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company and only the latest of the sky-high profits reported by Big Oil this week,… Continue»