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Archive for January, 2013

Vortex Tools shares notes on Al Gore’s recent interview with David Letterman.

I recently covered the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera and how many viewed it as Al Gore getting a big oil payday from selling off a green media company.

While Gore has only granted interviews to shows that are likely to be easier on him, the same questions keep coming up. Whether it’s MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart or this clip from “Late Night with David Letterman,” everyone sees the same problem… except Al Gore.

Now I’ll be honest: The video isn’t all that interesting or heated. Gore has never been Mr. Charisma and late-night TV humor depends on you being half asleep, but it’s notable that Gore keeps getting the same questions (and giving the same answers focusing on Al Jazeera’s commitment to good journalism rather than Qatar’s connections to big oil).

Notes by time (as the video –with its unfortunate branding — will likely be pulled at some point):

  • 0:06: Letterman notes that no one could ever find Current TV to watch it.
  • 0:13: Gore cites that he wanted Current to be independent news (it wasn’t).
  • 0:20: Gore cites all the awards Current won (read: consolation prize for crap ratings).
  • 0:45: Letterman notes inherent suspicion over Al Jazeera in the States, asking if it’s “propaganda for Muslims, violence and terrorism.”
  • 1:45: Gore jokingly notes he better Google what Al Jazeera means.
  • 1:56: Letterman questions the conflict of interest in selling Current to a “foe” of climate change.
  • 2:39: Gore laughs off the accusation and refutes the claim.

As long as he stays away from disgruntled ex-Current employees, it looks like Al Gore will be fine.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo shares on Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni’s cardboard bike: the Alfa.  

When I heard Izhar Gafni had designed a cardboard bike, the first image I had in my head was that of a bike on fire—because let’s face it: setting stuff on fire always pops up first—then that of a bike warping in the rain. Well, turns out Gafni thought of that, as the bike is both fire- and waterproof.

Dubbed “the Alfa,” Gafni spent three years perfecting the design. First off, he needed to make it functional. In the same way that paper folded over several times can be quite strong, the bike—made mostly of cardboard folded over repeatedly—can hold up to 485 pounds. After getting basic functionality out of the way, Gafni needed to improve the bike’s looks, as early designs looked like a cardboard box on wheels. Finally, some comfort tweaks were clearly in order, as a cardboard seat doesn’t sound appealing at first thought.

With the design basics out the way, Gafni is now looking towards mass production. Depending on subsidies—and you know what a mess that can be—initial estimates could put the sales price as low as $9. If it does go big, I expect some parent to threaten their kid with, “Mouth off to me again and I shove your bike in a wood chipper.”

For now, you can learn more about the Alfa bike by watching the video below:

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools shares an image of the Bakken oilfield from space.

When it comes to American oil and gas fields, the Bakken in North Dakota is booming with activity. However, as regulations to ban flaring (burning) of gas won’t be made until 2015, currently 30% of all natural gas in the Bakken field is burned. This visual from NASA shows how the Bakken is lit up like a city:

Ceres_logo_green_horizontal

As the Vortex tools capture polluting vapors (allowing oil and gas producers to avoid fines) and recover a greater amount of natural gas liquids, North Dakota—with its high liquids rate in their natural gas—benefits greatly from the Vortex, getting the oil vapor values from the natural gas as opposed to burning those values to atmosphere.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Al_gore_nobel.jpgVortex Tools discusses the sale of Current to Al Jazeera and what people think of Al Gore getting $100 million from an entity with ties to Middle Eastern oil.

When it comes to legitimate creations, former Vice President and green movement face Al Gore was responsible for Current, a media company he launched in 2002 with businessman Joel Hyatt. Their goal was to provide independent news for the 18-34 demographic. Of course, independent news goes out the window as soon as money and ratings are involved, and by the end, Current had little credibility in that area.

What Current was known for was short-lived partnerships, entertainment shows that drew more interest than their (sorta) objective news shows, a painful 2009 (financial issues and two of their journalists – later pardoned – each sentenced to 12 years hard labor for entering North Korea illegally), major format changes in 2011-2012, and, in general, not getting much traction with any of it. Keith Olbermann, freshly booted from MSNBC for the controversy surrounding his donations to Democratic congressional candidates, came on board in 2011, but was fired a year later. Gore and Olbermann sued each other while New York Attorney General / Governor / hooker aficionado Elliot Spitzer replaced Olbermann’s show.

And then, as of January 2nd, 2013, Current was sold to Al Jazeera for $500 million.

Yeah, the Al Jazeera that, up until 2011, was owned by the government of Qatar—a large oil player. Al Jazeera has also had its fair share of worldwide criticism and controversies, as well as having to deal with attacks and censorship.

Gore’s take of the Current sale was $100 million (before taxes), bringing his personal fortune up to $300 million. As others have noted, this means that Al Gore is richer than 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney—a guy grilled for being out of touch with the average American thanks to his personal fortune of $230 million. By way of comparison, pre-green Al Gore—in 2000: the year he lost the presidential election—was worth $2 million.

Reaction from Current staff members was, well… cover your kids’ ears:

On Al Gore not showing up to the press conference announcing the sale:

“Of course Al didn’t show up,” said one high placed Current staffer. “He has no credibility. He’s supposed to be the face of clean energy and just sold [the channel] to very big oil, the emir of Qatar! Current never even took big oil advertising—and Al Gore, that bulls***ter sells to the emir?”

And later:

“We all know now that Al Gore is nothing but a bulls***ter,” said the staffer bluntly.

We do stories on the tax code, and he sells the network before the tax code kicked in?

“Al was always lecturing us about green. He kept his word about green all right—as in cold, hard cash!”

(Although both sides tried to get the deal done before the end of 2012, the sale officially went through in early January, with higher taxes in place. Regardless, the green cash joke is an easy one to make.)

Granted the quotes are (not surprisingly) anonymous and promoted mostly on the conservative side of the web, but the sentiments still seem accurate. Even CNN’s Howard Kurtz noted that “there is something unsettling about Gore making off with such a big payday from a government-subsidized channel after making such bad television.”

Since that time, Al Gore has spent some of his earnings on Apple stock. As for Current, Time Warner Cable has already dropped the channel from its lineup for low ratings and an exodus of staff continues. Time Warner has stated that they would be open to Al Jazeera America if it makes sense for their viewers.

In the meantime, let the Al Gorezeera jokes roll.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo looks at 2012’s record high temperatures and how weather maps are changing to reflect this.

It’s official: 2012 was the warmest year for the U.S. in recorded history.

The average temperature was 55.3° F – a full degree hotter than the previous hottest year: 1998. 2012 was also the driest year since 1988, with 61% of the country in drought as of July, adding 2012 to the top 10 worst droughts in U.S. history.

We don't want to see you bathing in the purple rain...

We don’t want to see you bathing in the purple rain…

As a result of this, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology added two new colors – pink and purple (above) – for temperatures over 50° C / 122° F for temperatures that may come in 2013.

By Berto Garcia (Prince) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThat’s right: Aussie weathermen are now predicting temperatures hot enough to be Prince.

The strangest part of all this? In some ways, a record-breaking year heat-wise can actually hinder global warming alarmists where skeptics are concerned, as (much like 1998) the next 3-7 years will likely be in a cooling pattern overall (until the next record heat year). Also, both sides of the climate change debate continue to tout long-term trends – it’s just a matter of how long-term you go.

For now, I deal with a personal pain point that affects me in this: eating my ice cream faster. Brain freeze, you too shall pass.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools looks at AAA and car companies’ concerns over E15 fuel.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has come out against E15 fuel as it could damage your car engine if your car model is older than 2012. So what is E15 and how does it differ from what we currently have?

By Bobak at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons

Clearly this is an older pic (those gas prices are low — even for now)

E15 is a 15% ethanol, 85% gasoline blend and can be used in your car or truck, but not in all those off-road vehicles, lawnmowers and chainsaws you left lying around. (This is not to be confused with E85: an 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline blend that is for use in flex-fuel vehicles.) Although E15 has only been allowed for use since 2010, E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline) has been around for 30+ years and now makes up 90% of the U.S. gasoline market. Approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), E15 is only sold at 10 gas stations in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, but obviously the ethanol market hopes this will grow.

Alongside AAA, car manufacturers disagree (at least for now). Near the end of 2012, five car companies—BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen—stated they would not cover any E15-related damage claim. Here in early 2013, it’s now up to 10 (including Ford, Honda and Mercedes-Benz). Worse than that, some of those car companies have now stated that E15 will void your warranty.

In a recent interview, Lauren Fix “The Car Coach” stated, “The problem is: there wasn’t a lot of testing done.”

Well, that’s actually not true. E15 is the most tested fuel in EPA history and they’ve stated that there’s no difference between E10 and E15. According to Fix, however, “There’s all kinds of damage to emissions systems, fuel systems, and engines.” She also notes that E15 is corrosive to gaskets.

Along with AAA and several car companies, this is not a unique opinion. So if E15 was tested extensively by the EPA, how did they miss this?

According to AAA, the EPA’s “research focused primarily on exhaust emissions and associated components such as catalytic converters. While this research was consistent with the EPA’s mission, it never fully examined whether E15 might damage engines and fuel systems.”

This doesn’t mean the EPA didn’t do their job. It means that E15 hasn’t been around long enough for the major flaws to start showing up (that this many flaws have shown up this early is alarming). It’s the same reason I don’t own a hybrid car – there isn’t enough data on the true cost of maintenance over the car’s lifespan yet.

AAA wants to make it clear they’re not opposed to ethanol though: “AAA believes that ethanol-blended fuels have the potential to save Americans money and reduce the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels. The problem is that available research, including the EPA’s exhaust emissions tests, is not sufficient evidence that E15 is safe to use in most vehicles.”

I can see them wanting to take the neutral approach, but I’ll state that there are plenty of problems with ethanol. Although it’s better for the environment than gasoline, at least when it comes to how mainstream cars are currently made, ethanol is not as fuel-efficient, so even if you pay the same price at the pump, you’re filling up more, and this is before you get into damaged engines and voided warranties…

Additionally, corn ethanol is not nearly as efficient as other ethanol processes (like Brazil’s sugar ethanol), and the standard for U.S. corn ethanol production remains above what can actually be created. There are also issues with how subsidies shape the industry, as well as how few places can use the extensive amount of water used to create corn ethanol.

Finally, corn ethanol detractors have their own share of misinformation. The oft-cited ‘food or fuel’ debate (basically: food costs more because we’re using our crop spaces for ethanol) is inaccurate, as the two don’t directly compete. If corn ethanol is to blame for rising fuel prices, it’s way, way behind a lot of the other contributing factors.

Here’s what we do know: E15 could well be the future of cars, but it’s too harmful and unproven in the present. The fact that it’s sold without these warnings (even minimally) is unfair to car owners who don’t know any better. Thus far, car companies seem unwilling to move towards E15 – especially as it forces them to make parts to deal with the corrosive nature of ethanol – but you know how a government mandate can change things.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Although it’ll be receiving a few more tweaks over the coming weeks, the new SpiroFlo.com is live! We’ve got sections on how the SpiroFlo device provides homes with a faster, better shower with green benefits as well as sections on how the SpiroFlo device removes biofilm in industrial applications. Be sure to come on by and see how shiny it is.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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