Have a Happy Birthday, George

You might call it President's Day, but the official designation of the holiday is George Washington's Birthday. Go see Frank Fleming at IMAO for the details.

And George Washington would kick Napoleon's ass in a fight any day.


Oil Shocks

I would have been less surprised to learn that bigfoot is real than to read what I did in an op-ed by Yousuf Al-Khuwailit in yesterday's Saudi Gazette.

The article was titled An Impending Danger and was basic boilerplate that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia needs to take steps to become more responsible in its use of energy resources. This is a basic awareness-raising article that people in the US have been used to seeing forever, and was no real surprise to see here in Saudi Arabia. The surprising part was the third sentence of the article:
There are also dangerous indexes that indicate we might become importers of oil instead of exporters within the next two decades.

Saudi Arabia importing oil? The very thought is unfathomable. According to US Energy Information Administration figures and my calculator, Saudi Arabia's daily oil consumption is less than 1/4 of its daily oil production. Those figures are through 2012, but I think the ratio is has not changed much in the last 14 months. There are warnings from Saudi Aramco, the country's oil company, that energy needs in the Kingdom are about to dramatically increase, but to quadruple in two decades?

What does that mean for the United States? The U.S. is currently experiencing an oil boom, with improved methods of gathering (fracking and horizontal drilling) that allow for the exploitation of previously unreachable oil supplies. A country that as recently as 2012 imported over 7 million barrels of oil a day (US EIA figures again-those numbers are coming in handy) is now considering relaxing its ban on exporting oil that has been in place. This is all taking place while an administration that is, if not openly hostile to oil production increases, not going out of its way to be supportive of any fossil fuel industry.

This is a great time for the United States to exploit our resources, and to be ready to expand on our production. Yes, improved technology and alternative sources of energy are nice to have, but when the opportunity to increase jobs, and cut into our normal trade deficit comes along, we should do all we can to take advantage of it.

Ability Is Not Enough

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
                                                                                                             - Calvin Coolidge

Todd Kincannon mentioned on Twitter that Mark Wohlers is the hardest throwing person on the planet. That and the opening of Spring Training put me in a mind to write about Steve Dalkowski, who most likely actually was the hardest throwing person on the planet.

How hard did he throw? Let me put it this way- the man is legendary in baseball circles for the speed of his fastball, despite the fact he never played in the majors. How many people become minor league legends? (I saw Minor League Legends open for Depeche Mode in '94.)

During the course of research to refresh my mind on the stories about Dalkowski, I decided against writing a full post about him, for the simple fact that the post I intended write was already done seven years ago by Steve Treder at The Hardball Times.

Looking again at the story of Steve Dalkowski does bring to mind a couple of questions though. Dalkowski had an amazing gift in his arm, but what came of it? Instead of the fortune and fame a gift like that could have garnered if properly focused, he has become a cautionary tale of what might have been. Perhaps some of his raw ability to throw a baseball was contravened with a possibly below average intellect, but even a desire to succeed resulted in working on his craft instead of relying solely on natural talent would have helped. Maybe if Dalkowski had been able to focus himself to the job of pitching not only when he was on the mound, but also when he was away from the field, we would be reading an entirely different baseball record book today.

Focus is one of the most difficult things to maintain, and there is really no Viagra type pill to keep up motivation. But successful people seem to have the common denominator of tenacious desire to succeed and the wherewithal to do whatever it takes to achieve it. This will to succeed can spill overshadow other aspects of life.

To stay with the sports theme, Michael Jordan is given remarkable natural ability to run, jump and shoot a basketball. So was Allen Iverson. Michael Jordan was known to be the first one at practice and the last to leave. Iverson is best known for whining that his coach expected him to work during practice. Which one do you think has 6 NBA Championships to his credit?

But it is not just on the playing field and practice court that success is created. You must actively avoid harming your chances at success. Treder's article shows how drinking ruined not just Dalkowski's career, but his entire life. Similarly, you see very few CEO's talking like Spicolli or Jay and Silent Bob (okay, just Jay. Silent Bob doesn't really talk much and doesn't sound like much of a stoner when he does.)

While this is a lesson best learned during the formative years of childhood, it is still better late than never. So, people, get it in gear, straighten up and fly right, and don't just dream, but set goals. Once goals are set, get to work. Achievement is a matter of sweat.