Keystone XL Pipeline, Kodak’s Bankruptcy, and Republican Presidential Race

I’m somewhat surprised to see that President Obama has officially gone on record against the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline — blaming his decision on the “rushed and arbitrary deadline” set by Republicans in Congress. The Canadian government is in favor of it, many of our elected representatives in Congress are in favor of it, but Obama is not.

I personally think there are many good reasons to build the pipeline, not the least of which includes the fact that our nation today needs access to more oil and petroleum products, not less. Increased supply in our own backyard will put downward pressure on prices, which will be a boost to our economy.

In addition, the $7 billion investment required to build the pipeline will provide a shot in the arm to the companies contracted to construct it — resulting in jobs, something we can definitely use more of right now. And of course the Iranian shenanigans in the Strait of Hormuz should concern us. I suspect that this issue is not dead, and that it will become even more heated as the election season wears on.

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I have to say I’m not amazed that Kodak filed for bankruptcy this week. This legendary company was unable to compete in the market that it created — digital photography.

The outcome clearly demonstrates how difficult it can be for companies that are invested in a particular technology — in the case of Kodak, photographic film, paper, and chemicals — to leave behind old business models that served them well for many years. The company always seemed to be a step behind the competition, despite the fact that its leaders eventually realized that Kodak needed to embrace the digital world. Kodak has closed 13 factories and 130 photo laboratories since 2003, and let go 47,000 employees — all for naught.

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As you know by now, on Thursday Rick Perry dropped out of the Republican Presidential race, endorsing Newt Gingrich on the way out. I think this will have an impact on Saturday’s South Carolina primary, potentially vaulting Gingrich into 1st place over Mitt Romney. Things are definitely getting interesting.

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On Wednesday we made a field trip to the Mount Palomar Observatory. It was very cold at the top of the mountain, and there was some snow scattered about. Although we were unable to see the telescope, we picked up some literature that described the ordeal that the old timers went through to get the 200-inch mirror to the top of the mountain and installed in the telescope. It must have been something to see.

— Bob