First, thanks to all those who sent “get some rest, you deserve it” notes about yesterday’s “day off.” There was one dissenter, and as I’m married to her, she carried the majority. I wound up laboring on domestic stuff, including a few things I’d been neglecting. So it wasn’t all that restful. But I’m back, nonetheless.
Physics weenies never completely let go of the mindset. That’s certainly true of me, as the title of this piece implies. As a sometime writer of science fiction with an enduring interest in space travel and the creation of extrasolar habitats for Man, Newton’s Third Law of Mechanics has been one of my betes noires for many years. I’m not alone in that regard; many an SF writer has found it necessary to quietly omit all consideration of the Third Law in telling a tale that includes or implies travel among the stars.
But the old maxim that “action must equal reaction” has application to more than just the motion of bodies in space. It certainly pops up in political and social currents. Anywhere some group, however motivated, attempts to bring about a departure from the existing order of things, it’s just about guaranteed that a reaction against that divergence will spring up. Whether the “action” or the “reaction” will prevail depends upon whether the “action” group can contrive to dissipate the “reaction’s” force against other items.
There are several such scenarios before us as we speak.
Possibly the angriest topic currently in the public eye is this business of public facilities and “transgender rights.” Before I launch the main assault, allow me to say that prefixing any other word to the word rights appears to create an inherent contradiction. It’s a bit like the term “social,” which appears to invert the meaning of any word to which it’s prefixed. (Cf. “social welfare,” “social security,” and “social justice.”) But that’s a subject for a separate screed.
What’s most remarkable about the “transgender rights” phenomenon is that the Left, which has embraced this as its latest Cause, has provoked a recoil so quick and sharp that for the first time in decades it appears to have seriously wounded itself with its chosen initiative.
Bill Whittle catches the meat of the thing:
No one, not even a deaf man, could miss the fury in Whittle’s voice. That fury is well distributed over America. Evidence for a massive backlash against this new Leftist sally is everywhere. Nor is it being expressed in words alone; ask the board of directors of Target.
Clearly, here we have a reaction that the Left cannot disperse harmlessly. Perhaps it didn’t expect so sharp a recoil. In either case, it’s unwittingly made public restrooms and school locker rooms into an election-year issue – a first for these United States.
Another, even more interesting case, concerns the Obama Administration’s attempt to “sneak one over the corner” as regards immigration and border control policy:
On Thursday District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas found that Obama Administration lawyers committed misconduct that he called “intentional, serious and material.” In 2015 he issued an injunction—now in front of the Supreme Court—blocking Mr. Obama’s 2014 order that rewrote immigration law to award legal status and federal and state benefits to nearly five million aliens.
When 26 states sued to block the order in December 2014, Justice repeatedly assured Judge Hanen that the Department of Homeland Security would not start processing applications until February 2015 at the earliest. Two weeks after the injunction came down, in March, Justice was forced to admit that DHS had already granted or renewed more than 100,000 permits.
Justice has also conceded in legal filings that all its lawyers knew all along that the DHS program was underway, despite what they said in briefs and hearings. One DOJ lawyer told Judge Hanen that “I really would not expect anything between now and the date of the hearing.” As the judge notes, “How the government can categorize the granting of over 100,000 applications as not being ‘anything’ is beyond comprehension.”
Judge Hanen wasn’t about to stop at a mild reproof:
As a result, Judge Hanen ordered that any Washington-based Justice lawyer who “appears or seeks to appear” in any state or federal court in the 26 states must first attend a remedial ethics seminar on “candor to the court.” He also ordered Attorney General Loretta Lynch to prepare a “comprehensive plan” to prevent such falsification.
This is unprecedented. It gladdens the hearts of many to whom the “Department of Justice” had begun to seem the first explicitly Orwellian department. It also provides hope that the “Operation Fast and Furious” case and the snowballing investigation of the several felonies of Hillary Clinton might receive the treatment they deserve. And it is entirely a reaction to the steady buildup of presumption on the Left that “as long as we’re in power, we can get away with anything.”
It isn’t often you see the death of a major worldwide industry. Last week I saw the death of the “Big Oil” economic model. It just died at the hands of Texas oil frackers who have developed a new “disruptive technology” that has made obsolete all the pillars of technology underpinning large, vertically integrated oil companies. More importantly, the same is true of all the petro-states that nationalized Big Oil’s assets in the 1960s to make all the state oil companies around the world today.
I found this out doing my day job last week as a Defense Department quality auditor visiting a mid-sized oil service company diversifying into federal contracts. The meeting was about issues with the contract they won and touched on others they have bid on. As a side bar at lunch the following points about their main business came up:
- Oil field spending has died. Rig count in the USA is the lowest it has been since 1940.
- One oil rig controller company these folks worked with saw a year over year drop of 72% in its business.
- Another company they supplied had their “Cap-X” budget drop from ~$400 million for 2015-2016 to little over $30 million for 2016-2017.
- One drilling company they supplied went from 120(+) new wells last year to _12_ this year.
- This supplier sold a lot of copper tubing for “frack-log” drilling. That is the drilling of holes in good oil-bearing rock without fracking rock for oil immediately — and here is the new part — to take advantage of a new long-flow fracking technique.
The conclusion is that at this point the big oil/petrostate business model is dead. The Saudi’s gamble that they could kill the Frackers with low prices has turned out to be a nightmare, for the Saudis. Not only have they lowered the price beyond anything that the oil states can sustain, but it’s likely that prices will never return to levels that big oil and the petrostates need to be viable.
Add to that that wildcatters with leases are quietly drilling but capping rather fracking wells means that the frackers can bring production back online as oil prices rise. This fracklog is going to be the petro states nightmare for a long time, more than likely decades.
The long term pattern, of course, will be marginal increases in crude oil extraction in response to marginal increases in world oil prices: a stabilizing reaction, exploiting technological advances made here in America, to the attempts of the OPEC states to preserve their dominance of the oil market.
If you’re not cheering and clapping wildly over this, your hands must be occupied and your mouth full.
That Newton guy was one smart cookie, wasn’t he? Whether or not he perceived the action / reaction couplings in society, they’re there for anyone with eyes to see. Indeed, we can count on them, though we cannot count on the forms they’ll take or the secondary couplings they’ll evoke.
One that could easily escape notice is the “prepper / off-grid” movement that’s quietly gaining adherents. It’s not uniform. On one end, we have the purists who seek total independence from any political or social institution, such that they could live out their lives without ever interacting involuntarily with anyone else. On the other, we have those who merely want to “make sure of a few things:” these stock adequate provisions with which to withstand short-term dislocations in food, water, fuel, and power supplies. There are many stances between those two. What they share is a determination to prepare for some or all of the possible calamities that could befall a complex society dependent on general good will among men. They’re reacting against Leftist pinpricks such as Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and the perennial riots that occur in whatever city the World Economic Forum or the Group of 20 chooses for its next conference. The level of alarm those pinpricks have generated equals the level of overall preparation among us.
On that note, imagine that the upcoming Democrat and Republican National Conventions are completely disrupted by riots and mass protests. Imagine that Barack Hussein Obama, to whom the requirements and constraints of the Constitution are nuisances to be waved aside, should make use of the chaos to declare martial law and suspend all elections “for the duration of the emergency.” Obama isn’t very bright; his love of power and position could easily blind him to the magnitude of the reaction that would cause. Even if he should sense the possibility, he could rationalize it away: “Our allies in the media will tell the people that it’s all for the best while the army and the police maintain order and disarm the troublemakers.”
How do you think you’d react to that, Gentle Reader?