Monthly Archives: December 2015

More deep joy

By David Wethe

(Bloomberg) — The relatively unheralded corner of the oil sector that sends supply boats out to offshore oil rigs may see bankruptcies as the worst crude market downturn in decades spreads.

More than half of the public companies in the offshore supply-vessel industry face a high probability of restructuring or bankruptcy, according to research released Tuesday from the consulting firm AlixPartners.

The vessels are a lifeline to the rigs, hauling everything from pipes to food from shore. The supply boats are custom-made for the oil industry and depend on the rigs for work, Esben Christensen, a director at the firm’s maritime practice in New York, said Monday in a phone interview.

“If the rig market is down or not doing well, it’s very, very difficult to find employment for this type of asset anywhere else,” Christiensen said. “They really go hand in hand.”

Similar to the offshore rig industry, where new rigs continue to be built amid a slump in demand for the equipment, the vessels are facing a glut. There are now more than five supply vessels for each offshore drilling rig, according to AlixPartners. That’s up from roughly three vessels per rig in 2008.

Double Whammy

The offshore industry is facing the double whammy of falling demand from steep costs at the same time that new rigs keep rolling out of the shipyard and add to the global glut of equipment. All that is occurring during the worst crude market downturn in decades. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, is down 40 percent in the past year.

Oil prices may remain lower for longer than many expect after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Dec. 4 that it was essentially lifting its production target for crude. WTI fell 5.8 percent to $37.65 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The amount of debt the companies carry compared with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, which is known as leverage, climbed over the year ended in June, according to AlixPartners. Sustained debt that’s more than four times Ebitda is often a precursor to restructuring or bankruptcy, according to the firm, which looked at 33 publicly traded companies as part of the study.

Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest supplier of offshore drilling rigs, has said the challenging offshore market is expected to last into 2017.

Scientists find link between people impressed by wise-sounding, ‘profound’ quotes and low intelligence

A new study has shown that people who believe in psuedo-profound, intellectual-sounding quotes are less intelligent

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“Woah, that quote is so deep, bro” Photo: AP
Ever get annoyed by people on social media who share ‘profound’ quotes, or use meaningless, intelligent-sounding soundbites in arguments?

A new study has shown that there is a link between these people and low intelligence.

It found that those who are receptive to pseudo-profound, intellectual-sounding ‘bulls***’ are less intelligent, less reflective, and more likely to be believe in conspiracy theories, the paranormal and alternative medicine.

PhD candidate Gordon Pennycook and a team of researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, published a study entitled ‘On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bulls***’.

It mentions the word ‘bulls***’ over 200 times.

They tested hundreds of people to find the link between being impressed by ‘bulls***’ quotes and low intelligence.

Examples of ‘bulls***’ were given, as it is a hard term to define.

Essentially, it means grand-sounding statements which mean nothing – many people post such things on Instagram.

An example was: “Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty.”

Around 8000 tonnes of 12" pipe destined for West Africa to connect an offshore oil field to the the shore. One of three shipments of similar size at Dunkirk and bound for Angola.

Around 8000 tonnes of 12″ pipe destined for West Africa to connect an offshore oil field to the the shore. One of three shipments of similar size at Dunkirk and bound for Angola.

The paper says: “Although this statement may seem to convey some sort of potentially profound meaning, it is merely a collection of buzzwords put together randomly in a sentence that retains syntactic structure.”

“Bulls***, in contrast to mere nonsense, is something that implies but does not contain adequate meaning or truth.”

Pennycook used a website that would randomly generate these pseudo-profound sentences from a string of words.

This website is active, and serves up wise-sounding aphorisms like “This life is nothing short of an unveiling quantum leap of mythic rejuvenation” and “We are at a crossroads of transformation and desire” at the click of a button.

Almost 300 test subjects were asked to rate the profundity of these sentences on a scale of one to five.

They were asked to differentiate between philosophy quotes, “bulls***”, and mundane sentences.

Most recognised the mundane as mundane, but rated the made-up quotes on similar levels of profoundity to tweets posted by Deepak Chopra, a writer.
As well as this. he researchers looked into a number of other personality traits, examining how the participants think about themselves and the world around them.

The paper said that those who were more receptive to the bulls*** statements and who tended to rate them higher were “less reflective, lower in cognitive ability(i.e verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy,) and are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation.”

A thousand years ago

A thousand years ago

It also said they were more likely to “hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.”

As they say, “our findings are consistent with the idea that the tendency to rate vague, meaningless statements as profound is a legitimate psychological phenomenon that is consistently related to at least some variables of theoretical interest.”