Drumbeat: June 10, 2013

Peak oil: preparing for the extinction of 'petroleum man' (interview with Kjell Aleklett)

At the turn of the century, certain sections of the scientific community noticed a small but ominous speck on the horizon. Over the years, this speck has advanced, revealing itself as a hulking great obstacle that casts a shadow of uncertainty over our collective energy future. The speck has been replaced by something nearer and altogether more tangible. We now have an elephant in the room, and its name is peak oil.

So, what is peak oil? In short, peak oil will occur when the extraction rate of this resource ceases to rise. Typically, this point is reached when half or less of a natural commodity has been removed. It is the peak of the bell curve; the point at which the tail is longer than the rise to the top.

Peak Oil - A Simple, Perfect Lie for Politicians

Porter Stansberry writes: Peak Oil was a fantastic lie.

The idea was that our ability to discover and produce higher amounts of hydrocarbon-based energy had peaked and would be forever in decline. This "inevitable" decline in energy production would destroy the modern world, as all the luxuries and technologies that we enjoy today (such as cheap electricity and automobiles) rely on these fuels.

I believe historians will look back and marvel over how we could imagine the world would run out of oil... and the incredible mania that thinking produced in the oil markets in the mid-2000s.

Groups ask "what will come after 'peak oil'?"

Whether it’s challenging each other to see “how low you can go” with the home thermostat in February, or looking at swaths of public turf grass for their potential to hold community vegetable gardens, sustainability and Transition Town groups are popping up all over.

Jon Freise, a national trainer on the subject, told a recent gathering that the Transition Towns movement came out of concerns about three things: Climate change—temperature extremes brought on by pollution, “peak oil”—fossil fuels running out, and economic instability.

The 'Mad Men' of fossil fuels

The name of the popular American television series "Mad Men" comes from the nickname given to those who worked in New York City's advertising agencies in the 1950s. The nickname came from the advertising profession itself whose members felt that one had to be a little mad to work on Madison Avenue, the center of the advertising business.

But, there is nothing particularly mad about the role of advertising in society, and it should really be looked upon as the logical conclusion of the long process of rationalizing modern economic life--a type of economic life which arose simultaneously with the widespread use of fossil fuels.

FSU crude oil exports declined by 5.5 % in last 2 years

Former Soviet Union (FSU) crude oil exports declined from 6.76 mb/d in 2010 to 6.39 mb/d in 2012 (-370 kb/d), or 5.5%, mainly due to a 13% decrease in Black Sea shipments.

WTI Trades Near Two-Week High on Economy; Sudan Threat

West Texas Intermediate declined from the highest closing price in more than two weeks as Chinese economic data trailed estimates and the North Sea Buzzard oil field resumed.

WTI dropped as much as 0.7 percent, halting a three-day advance. China’s industrial output rose a less-than-forecast 9.2 percent last month, while export gains were at a 10-month low and imports dropped, weekend data show. Production at the Buzzard field, the largest contributor to the benchmark Forties crude grade, returned to approximately full pumping rates over the past two days, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified.

U.S. Gasoline Falls to $3.6385 a Gallon in Lundberg Survey

“Regions continue to sort out their refinery issues and refinery comebacks,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Generally, prices continued to edge up in the Midwest and certain other parts of the country, and declined dramatically in the West and to a lesser degree in the Gulf Coast.”

Importers Try to Limit Rupee Impact

India’s fuel retailers, who already make losses on sales of fuel like diesel, cooking gas and kerosene at subsidized rates, expect their losses to widen.

“A one rupee depreciation against the dollar increases under recoveries by 90 billion rupees for the state-run fuel retailers,” said P.K. Goyal, finance director of Indian Oil Corp., the country’s largest fuel retailer by sales and refiner by capacity.

Petroleum minister, Morsi's adviser travel to Qatar to discuss gas needs

An Egyptian delegation arrived in Doha yesterday to secure a natural gas deal, as Egypt continues to suffer from fuel bottlenecks leading to frequent power cuts.

Iraq police avert bomb attack on north oilfield

KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraqi police defused bombs planted at two oil wells near the northern city of Kirkuk on Monday, according to security and oil sources, who said exports to the Ceyhan port in Turkey were not affected.

The bombs were discovered near two wells producing crude from the Bai Hassan oilfield, which is currently pumping around 150,000 barrels per day (bpd), officials at state-run North Oil Company (NOC) said.

Sudan Threatens to Shut South Sudan Oil Over Rebel Support

Sudan threatened to halt South Sudanese oil exports within 60 days unless the neighboring state ends support for rebel groups opposed to President Umar al-Bashir’s rule.

Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said his government has evidence that South Sudan is backing renegade fighters in the western region of Darfur and the southern states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. That undermines cooperation accords signed between the two nations last year and for which a timeframe was agreed in March, he said.

Yemen c.bank exceeds legal cap on govt loans by $1.6 bln

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen's central bank exceeded the legal limit on how much it may lend to the government by 347.9 billion rials ($1.6 billion) last year, its annual financial statement showed.

The disclosure underlines the severe financial pressures faced by Yemen as it struggles to rebuild its economy after years of war and political unrest.

Privatisation of Greek gas firm DEPA fails - sources

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece failed to attract any binding bids for natural gas company DEPA, two Greek officials close to the sale said on Monday, making it unlikely the country will meet privatisation targets under its international bailout.

Athens, which has a binding goal to raise 1.8 billion euros (1.53 billion pounds) from asset sales by the end of September, got just one bid - from Azerbaijan's SOCAR - for natural gas grid operator DESFA, a DEPA unit that it wanted to sell separately.

Gazprom’s Demise Could Topple Putin

No large company in the world has been so spectacularly mismanaged as Russia’s state-dominated natural-gas corporation Gazprom OAO. In the last decade, its management has made every conceivable mistake.

Even so, Russian President Vladimir Putin denies the very existence of a crisis and maintains his support for Alexei Miller, the chief executive officer since 2001. Gazprom’s situation is serious not only because it is Russia’s biggest company by market value, but because Putin is its real chairman. Where Gazprom goes, so does Russia and the Putin government.

More anti-shale gas protesters arrested in Kent County

Anti-shale gas protesters were arrested on Sunday after equipment owned by SWN Resources Canada was damaged, according to a government official.

The reasons for the arrests on Sunday are conflicting, however.

While a government official says the arrests were prompted after protesters damaged equipment, demonstrators say three people were arrested because they were not keeping far enough away from the equipment.

Abandoned Oil Wells Raise Fears of Pollution

LULING, Tex. — Amid the dry weeds on a 470-acre ranch here, a rusted head of steel pokes up, a vestige of an oil well abandoned decades ago. Across the field stand two huge, old wooden oil tanks, one of them tilting like a smokestack on the Titanic.

“Basically I get 61 acres here I can’t do anything with,” said Stuart Carter, the landowner, who is in a legal dispute with the oil producer operating on part of his ranch over who should clean up the site. Mr. Carter fears that the oil well, probably dating to the 1930s, could create a pathway for saltwater or oil to contaminate the groundwater.

Utility economics and the San Onofre fiasco: Further thoughts

A reader, taking issue with my recent post arguing that Edison International's shareholders should bear the cost of the utility's enormous San Onofre debacle, suggests that "basic economics" dictates that all businesses invariably pass the costs of their mistakes on to consumers — so why should Edison be any different?

It's a familiar point, worth splitting into two questions for examination. First, is it true? Second, how does it apply to Edison, which spent roughly $700 million installing faulty steam generators in its San Onofre nuclear plant, resulting in the plant's permanent shutdown?

The answer to the first question is: No, it's not true. Businesses will try to pass on to customers as much of their costs as they can, but competitive forces and legal obligations commonly prevent that.

San Onofre Seen as Latest Setback for U.S. Nuclear Power

Edison International’s decision to abandon its San Onofre nuclear plant in California is the latest blow for an industry already facing questions about its long-term survival.

Edison announced June 7 that it will permanently shut the plant’s two reactors, trimming total U.S. operating units to 100 from 104 at the beginning of the year and 110 at the peak in 1996. The announcement brings to four the number of units permanently removed from service this year, the most for any year since the nation embraced nuclear power.

Ethanol lobby sees red over a yellow gas hose in Kansas

Oil producers say they are just doing the responsible thing - holding firm to a 10 percent maximum blend of ethanol in gasoline, or E10 - because anything more than that can cause engine damage in many vehicles on the road today.

"We are not about to put something out there that we don't think is safe or reliable for the consumer," said Charles Drevna, president of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which represents refiners like Phillips 66.

The EPA has approved E15 for cars made after the 2000 model year. But automakers have not extended their warranties to cover E15 use on pre-2013 models. That leaves only about 12 million of 240 million cars on the road, or about 5 percent, with warranties to use E15, according to a November survey conducted by the American Automobile Association.

"Every automaker with the exception of Porsche said that E15 could void your warranty unless it was a very new car," said AAA spokesman Michael Green.

Will Plug-In Vehicles Win the Long Game?

If there are two major obstacles to an electric vehicle boom, they would have to be cost and style. Plug-in car makers appear dead-set on changing the industry on both counts, as attractive automobiles are being backed up by affordable electric vehicles whose incentives are too good to ignore. It is lending hope to the possibility that electric cars could win the long game.

Scaling Up Solar Power May Demand Updated Electric Grid

(ISNS) -- One hour's worth of global sunlight would be enough to power the world's energy requirements for an entire year. But even if humankind can someday harness solar power to meet global energy needs, there is another problem engineers will have to tackle: integrating solar power with existing electrical networks.

In a new review of existing research, published online in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, scientists warn that this latter challenge will not be easy because solar cells – also known as photovoltaic, or PV, cells – have numerous negative impacts on current systems used to distribute electrical power.

U.K. $39 Billion Tidal Barrage Plan Not Economic: Report

A plan to build a 25 billion-pound ($39 billion) tidal dam-like structure to generate as much as 5 percent of the U.K.’s power doesn’t provide value for money and may pose a risk to the environment, a government report found.

Hafren Power Ltd. failed to show the economic, environmental and technological credentials of the proposed 18-kilometer (11-mile) barrage across the Severn estuary, Tim Yeo, chairman of Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee, said today in an e-mailed statement. The committee “cannot recommend” the project as it stands, he said.

Ocean Thermal Energy Plans $12 Million Share Sale on AIM

Ocean Thermal Energy Plc, a renewable energy company that can produce power from the sea, plans to raise as much as 8 million pounds ($12.4 million) by selling shares on London’s Alternative Investment Market.

In nation's breadbasket, Latinos stuck in poverty

California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, with Fresno County farmers receiving a record $6.8 billion in revenues last year. But the region also consistently ranks among the nation's most impoverished. Sometimes called "Appalachia of the West," it's where families, especially Hispanic immigrants and their children, live year after year in destitution.

This divide causes concern because of what it may foretell as the nation's Hispanic population explodes and the U.S. moves toward becoming a majority minority nation. Census data show that non-Hispanic whites will cease to be a majority somewhere about the year 2043. The shift is largely driven by high birth rates among Hispanics as well as by declines in the aging white population.

Witch hunts in Papua New Guinea linked to jealousy

There is no clear explanation for the apparent uptick in killings in parts of the South Pacific nation, and even government officials seem at a loss to say why this is happening. Some are arguing the recent violence is fueled not by the nation's widespread belief in black magic but instead by economic jealousy born of a mining boom that has widened the country's economic divide and pitted the haves against the have-nots.

"Jealousy is causing a lot of hatred," said Helen Hakena, chairwoman of the North Bougainville Human Rights Committee, which is based in the area Rumbali was killed. "People who are so jealous of those who are doing well in life, they resort to what our people believe in, sorcery, to kill them, to stop them continuing their own development."

Colorado secede? Counties weigh exit plan to form state of 'North Colorado'

In a Thursday news article, the Coloradan website said the state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature has recently passed laws for stricter gun control, greater reliance on renewable energy in rural areas, and restraints on what was perceived as cruel treatment of livestock.

“Our vision and our morals are no longer represented by the state [Legislature] and the current [governor’s] administration, and we think it’s time that we do take seriously what our options are,” said Douglas Rademacher, a Weld County Commissioner. “This is just one of our options, but we will be moving forward with it.”

Good Science, or Bad Sense?

This Retro Report video revisits Biosphere 2, whose goal was to see if humans could sustain themselves in a sealed environment. What was deemed a fiasco had a surprising afterlife.

Police say men came from Virginia to loot in tornado-ravaged Moore

MOORE — Arrested with a truck full of copper wire, scrap metal and other items from homes destroyed by the May 20 tornado in Moore, three men told police they came hundreds of miles — all the way from Virginia — for the sole purpose of looting in the disaster area.

Another resident reported that a $50,000 watch was stolen from his home in Moore.

Nearly three weeks since a monster tornado tore through the city, killing more than 20 and wiping entire homes from existence, Moore police continue to investigate looting in the massive disaster area.

Danube Crests Near Record Level in Budapest

BUDAPEST — The Danube, which normally bisects Budapest as a gently rolling swath of silver, hovered at historic levels Monday, as the Hungarian capital struggled as record floods battered Central and Eastern Europe.

An unusually wet spring has swollen the Danube, the Elbe and several of their tributaries across Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, disrupting rail and road traffic, and causing damage that some preliminary estimates have put at several billion dollars.

Experts Urge Focus on Aquifers in Push for Water From Mexico

As Texas lawmakers say farmers in the Rio Grande Valley are hurting because Mexico is not honoring a treaty on surface water delivery, experts caution that greater attention should be paid to water deep below the surface.

At least 20 aquifers stretch across the United States-Mexico border, said Gabriel Eckstein, a professor at the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and the director of the International Water Law Project. Some are being mined at a record pace, he said.

“I know you have a lot of agricultural interests in the Valley yelling and screaming about water in the Rio Grande; that is going to continue,” he said. But of the 14 million people living within 50 miles of the border, “80 or 90 percent of them get their water from aquifers.”

'No Nile, no Egypt', Cairo warns over Ethiopia dam

(Reuters) - Egypt's foreign minister, vowing not to give up "a single drop of water from the Nile", said on Sunday he would go to Addis Ababa to discuss a giant dam that Ethiopia has begun building in defiance of Cairo's objections.

Speaking to Egypt's state news agency MENA two days after the Ethiopian government flatly rejected a request from Cairo to halt the project, Mohamed Kamel Amr said Egyptians view any obstacle to the river's flow as a threat to national survival.

"No Nile - no Egypt," he said, highlighting the pressure on the Egyptian government, whose popularity is wilting in the face of economic troubles, to prevent the hydro power plant cutting already stretched water supplies for its 84 million people.

Chemical Companies Seek to Limit Federal Green Building

Chemical companies are lobbying the U.S. Congress to limit government use of proposed, tougher green-building codes in the hope that alternative standards may be adopted.

The U.S. Green Building Council, which received $3 million from Google, Inc. (GOOG) last year to promote non-toxic materials, has proposed updating its voluntary but widely used Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards to give credit to builders that avoid chemicals that pose health risks. Members of the Washington-based council are voting this month on the updated protocols known as LEED 4.

Invasion of the Beetles, and a Rancher’s Revenge

“Having a resort in Montana with no trees is a big problem,” Mr. Lipson says. So rather than watch the bugs turn the land into a tinderbox for wildfires, the Lipsons decided to take steps to stop the beetles in their tracks. In the process, they found a way to turn their ravaged wood into something useful: a material for making accessories for Apple products. Their story offers lessons in adapting when an environmental crisis hits and, more broadly, how to be resilient in the face of adversity.

The mountain pine beetles that descended on the Lipsons’ ranch have coexisted with pine trees for millenniums, but as temperatures have risen in recent years, the insect’s range, population and winter survival rate have grown. The beetles now inhabit trees from Southern California all the way up to the Northwest Territories of Canada and as far east as South Dakota.

Potentially 'catastrophic' changes underway in Canada's northern Mackenzie River Basin: report

Canada's Mackenzie River basin -- among the world's most important major ecosystems -- is poorly studied, inadequately monitored, and at serious risk due to climate change and resource exploitation, a panel of international scientists warn today.

In a report, nine Canadian, US and UK scientists convened by the US-based Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, say effective governance of the massive Basin, comprising an area three times larger than France -- holds enormous national and global importance due to the watershed's biodiversity and its role in hemispheric bird migrations, stabilizing climate and the health of the Arctic Ocean.

The panel agreed the largest single threat to the Basin is a potential breach in the tailings ponds at one of the large oil sands sites mining surface bitumen. A breach in winter sending tailings liquid under the ice of the tributary Athabasca River, "would be virtually impossible to remediate or clean-up," says the report.

Australians are waking up to why coal matters - US environmentalist

Bill McKibben, the US environmentalist, has insisted that a looming election defeat for Labor will do little to alter growing activist pressure on Australian superannuation funds and businesses to withdraw funding from fossil fuel companies.

McKibben, whose Do the Maths lecture tour of Australia concluded with an appearance in Brisbane on Sunday, told Guardian Australia there was increasing momentum behind the anti-coal movement, despite a clear polling lead for opposition leader Tony Abbott, who has pledged a “blood oath” to repeal the carbon pricing scheme and scrap various clean energy initiatives.

Hurricane Risks Rise as Coastal Populations Grow

Populations along the coasts are growing exponentially, which could mean problems when it comes to hurricane season.

According to 2012 United States Census Bureau data, the nine states with the highest population density are all located along the East Coast. NOAA's State of the Coast research indicates that coastal populations will continue to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the country, with an expected increase of 37 people per square mile for shoreline counties and only an 11 person per square mile increase for the United States as a whole. From 1970 until 2010, coastal populations have risen by 39 percent.

Ganges, Nile and Amazon seen suffering more floods from climate change

OSLO (Reuters) – Climate change is likely to worsen floods on rivers such as the Ganges, the Nile and the Amazon this century while a few, including the now-inundated Danube, may become less prone, a Japanese-led scientific study said on Sunday.

The findings will go some way to help countries prepare for deluges that have killed thousands of people worldwide and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage every year in the past decade, experts wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Amazon forest fire risk to increase in 2013

(Phys.org) — University and NASA researchers predict that the severity of the 2013 fire season will be considerably higher than in 2011 and 2012 for many Amazon forests in the Southern Hemisphere. The outlook is based on a fire severity model that produced a successful first forecast in 2012.

Energy Agency Makes Case for Climate-Wise Energy Steps

The International Energy Agency today released a helpful report that charts four climate-wise (if fairly familiar) actions countries can pursue to make a difference in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. There’s a low bar to entry, the agency noted, saying these steps “can deliver significant emissions reductions by 2020, rely only on existing technologies and have already been adopted successfully in several countries.”

Hike in inflation ignites food insecurity

KARACHI - High inflation, skyrocketing transportation fares, climate change and bad governance are causing food insecurity in Pakistan, according to a latest study.

How do you feed 9 billion people?

An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population – projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century – in the face of climate change.

Pakistan is an agriculture country, where farmers grow enough food but due to bad governance, those people who grow food are food insecure. Uncontrolled high inflation and transportation rates have caused an alarming rise in food items' prices, while climate change has been hitting Pakistan, causing droughts and floods. The floods had destroyed crops standing on lacks of acres within last decade in Pakistan while droughts have reduced crop productions in rain-irrigated lands.

IEA: Carbon emissions from fuel usage hit new global record

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world's carbon dioxide emissions from fuel consumption have risen to a record level. It warns that despite increased renewables usage climate change will "not go away."

Global carbon dioxide emissions hit a new record in 2012, standing at 31.6 billion tons, the IEA reported Monday.

The agency said the energy sector accounts for about two-thirds of global emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, which scientists say are fueling climate change.

IEA warns global temperature rise set to double target

The IEA warned that delaying efforts to limit climate change “would result in substantial additional costs to the energy sector and increase the risk of assets needing to be retired early.”

It also warned “the energy sector is not immune from the physical impacts of climate change”, signalling threats from extreme weather, as well as more gradual changes such as rising sea levels.

Amid Data Controversy, NSA Builds Its Biggest Data Farm

As privacy advocates and security experts debate the validity of the National Security Agency's massive data gathering operations, the agency is putting the finishing touches on its biggest data farm yet.

The gargantuan $1.2 billion complex at a National Guard base 26 miles south of Salt Lake City features 1.5 million square feet of top secret space. High-performance NSA computers alone will fill up 100,000 square feet....

...NSA does provide some measure of the computing power at its new data farm in Utah. It requires 65 megawatts of power, enough for 65,000 homes. It also has its own power substation. In fact, Davis of the NSA says, the availability and relatively low cost of power put Utah at the top of the list for the center.

That much power generates so much heat that the computers will fry without 1.5 million gallons of cooling water a day.

Yikes,, yet another gross misallocation of resources deemed neccessary by a paranoid imperial polity, or just BAU? Matters little, I guess.

Listened to this much earlier.

This is the closing paragraph in the transcription

Despite its capacity, the Utah center does not satisfy NSA's data demands. Last month, the agency broke ground on its next data farm at its headquarters at Ft. Meade, Md. But that facility will be only two-thirds the size of the mega-complex in Utah.

Millions of people using incredible bandwidth to transmit untold magnitudes of absolute garbage. And Big Brother wants to record it all, in case it might be useful to prop up a system who's fate is already sealed anyway. It's a hierarchy or idiocy.

EDIT: Thinking about it further, all of this data will eventually disappear - there is no way to store even a fraction of it in any long-lasting way. This is a giant fortress erected to fight of entropy, destined to fail.

Yeah, there is a bit of a hopeless aspect of it. No matter how much money the government spends to spy, cheap data products will keep making the amount of data generated by ordinary people so big it swamps the spying.

That was a very enlightening comment. Is has me wondering how many petabytes of the same "keyboard cat" video, repeated over and over, they are already storing.

I post as much non-personal crap to "social network" sites as I have time.
It's a bit of a game at their expense: I'm curious to see how much they can take before they go pear shaped.

Idiocracy: 2006, directed by Mike Judge (King of the Hill) and starring Luke Wilson.

The film tells the story of two ordinary people from the present who take part in a top-secret military hibernation experiment, only to awaken 500 years in the future in a dystopian society full of extremely dumb people. Advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism have run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid society devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights.

Sounds like the short story "The Marching Morons", by Cyril Kornbluth. A small number of intelligent humans control the world from an underground bunker in Australia, and try to keep the idiots everywhere else from doing themselves too much harm.

That might be one way of overwhelming the system, million of bots talking gibberish with each other using all those special words which get you flagged.

From CSS Insight via International Business Times via Slashdot: 6.6 billion mobile phones will be in use by 2017 and if tablets are included mobile devices will then outnumber people.
Imagine the resources used by the manufacture, transport, and infrastructure to support the billions of devices, and the e-waste.
Two links to follow one story, time to clear cache, cookies, temp files....

"That might be one way of overwhelming the system, million of bots talking gibberish with each other using all those special words which get you flagged."

I just ran across a link someone posted to site called "Troll the NSA" where they hope to screw with the system with massive amounts of emails containing key words.

Information at a certain point becomes useless if there can be no sense made out of it - and they're likely to just wind up with a useless mess that would take decades of analysis just to parse out the events of a single day. I'm not sure how familiar most non-USA folks are with our sets of expressions but we use a hell of a lot of explosive and shooting terms in every day speech from "bombing" tests to "nuking" pizza and calling people a "straight shooter."

I was watching NOW w/ Alex Wagner the other day and she was talking about gun background investigation legislation and she started saying "It's by no means a silver bullet..." at which point there was this flash of "oops" and she had to back peddle - it's so built in that even when talking about trying to fix the problems behind mass shootings we go to "silver bullet" references.

I used to have a signature to my emails about 10 years ago containing words like terrorism, bomb, anthrax etc. Just to give the guys a load of extra work.

The other day I got the idea to have regularily occuring "talk about terrorism" days. Send emails, make facebook updates, talk on the phone etc, and discus planning of terrorist attacks. Just false made up conversations.

They'd soil their undies when they discovered that you have an Arab girlfriend. The source of radicalization! Of course once they realize they're dealing with a wiry ginger Swede...

Just in case you thought the mail was safe ...

Feds: Postal Service photographs every piece of mail

A high-tech computer system that captures images of “every mail piece that is processed” by the United State Postal Service was critical in helping federal agents track the Texas woman arrested today for allegedly sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

According to FBI Agent James Spiropoulos, investigators accessed a Postal Service computer system that “incorporates a Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) program which photographs and captures an image of every mail piece that is processed.” Agents were able to obtain front and back images of about 20 mail pieces that had been processed “immediately before the mail piece addressed to Mayor Bloomberg.”

A similar analysis of 40 mail pieces that were processed “immediately before and after the mail piece addressed to President Obama” showed that several of those letters listed addresses in two Texas cities near New Boston.

A high-tech computer system that captures images of “every mail piece that is processed...

Seraph, I was not aware that the postal service would save the images after they had sorted the mail. No wonder the stamp prices are so high as they have to pay for the fancy computers and data storage.

What is next? GPS in every vehicle...?

"What is next? GPS in every vehicle...?"

Isn't there already GPS in every 'Smart phone'? If car pooling ever succeeds, there will be several GPS receivers in every vehicle will become the 'new normal'.

"What is next? GPS in every vehicle...?"

The mandatory "black box" goes into effect in 2015. On-star seems to be standard on GM products.

As for the GPS part, there is still no law requiring one to have a cell phone, with or without a GPS unit. (the GPS isn't really needed as they can triangulate your signal if you are in an overlap area between two towers.)

I expect that soon a law will be passed to require everyone to have a cell phone "for emergencies." This will follow rule changes that make it easier for the telco's to drop their land line services. (Verizon is already planning to not replace what was washed out be Sandy.) This will use the precedent laid down by Obama-care; not having a cell-phone will incur a tax to compensate emergency services having to run around and find you, or some such excuse.

Sometime after that you will be required to keep your phone with you at all times, again "for emergencies."

After people get used to that, then it will "be suggested" that you notify the authorities if you are leaving cell phone coverage, telling them both where you are going and when you expect to be back.

A few years after that, you will have to ask permission before leaving cell phone coverage. This will probably be like the permit system already needed to go onto certain "public" lands.

So yes, it's a simple straight-forward progression, all in the name of protecting your safety.

You are already in trouble if you leave your phone at home or switched off when suspected of an ill deed. The argument being that you were trying to avoid being tracked.


Paranoia, anyone?

I do have a cell phone around here somewhere, I only put money in it when I'm going to be travelling. I had to do that when they started taking out the pay phones.

No paranoia this is for real.

1. I have a telephone with security to stop theft, I can't use it myself.
2. I want a cheap to maintain car not a lot of gadgets.
3. If I install expensive copyrighted software on my computer I expect it to send information to the copyright owner so they could charge money for a copy I never would have bought for the price they want.
4. Stores want credit cards so they could use statistics to track exactly what I buy.
5. Government agencies eavesdrop on electronic communication and I guess large companies may benefit to get information about companies in foreign countries at least for military equipment.
6. In some countries it is common praxis for police to give people an they want to put in prison an offer they can't refuse at least if they are poor or hate a government. I once turned down one these suspicious e-mails and told them they where scammers trying to put people in jail. It have however been worse once upon a time before then debt prisons where in use.

If Nazists or communists come to power today they would have a lot of tools to track what people do. If large companies are able to get the laws they want ordinary people will get poorer and poorer. In Sweden even though differencies in salaries are low most of the assets are collected at a small portion of people. Basic problem is the contract law which protect the one who earn money. The part who earn money on a business agreement may force the other part to pay the money they should have earned on the business agreement if the other part break the agreement and this is trap for most people.

You don't really need the government to explicitly make a rule. People will do their bidding instead, Mothers nowadays can't imagine not giving one of those shiny galaxy phones to their kids, not picking up your phone for two rings is also enough to get the BP of your folks elevated. When you have such a society why do you need surveillance laws ?

That's the beauty of the system, it coddles you into making choices that you'd resist violently when forced upon you through some law.

Except that somewhere in there the shale gas and oil bubbles pop, along with the auto loan bubble, there are millions of families on the move with no permanent homes, GM has gone bankrupt without another bailout (they are not a bank after all). The drought and fires will continue and the storms of various types will increase in strength and quantity. This system will be overwhelmed by chaos. So yes, somewhere on a disk will be the irrelevant email you sent last week about something even you don't care about anymore. I'm not saying what they are doing is right, only that Big Brother's dreams will be undone by real events too.

Anybody else think it would be fun to make a bunch of viral kitty videos and associated texts and tweets that all have the 1000 most common NSA Tag words in them, to make this insane adventure implode on itself?

Ok, it might be fun, but it would just make them that much more paranoid and controlling.

So, who has some novel thinking for how to make the fearful and paranoid elements throughout our culture actually feel more courageous and confident? Hmm?

I saw SECRET WARS last night, with Scahill and Goodman taking questions.. I think we need some massive acts of random and brilliant kindness to counter these waves of insecurity and violence..

Have you smiled at your vicious circles today?

So, who has some novel thinking for how to make the fearful and paranoid elements throughout our culture actually feel more courageous and confident? Hmm?

Smother them with love notes?

Dear folks at the NSA,

I just wanted to tell you that I hold all of you in the very highest regard! I love the incredible sense of security that I get from knowing you are studying every line of text I have ever produced. That you are listening to every conversation I have, even if it is a wrong number. I get goose bumps from the thought that you follow me around day and night wherever I might go just to keep me safe from all the evil in the world! You guys are just the best! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Warmest regards!

Now if we could get every US citizen to send hundreds of notes like this all day long to them I think they would just be so happy and contented.... Heck maybe we could convince everyone with an internet connection or a cellphone anywhere in the world to do the same.

With all due respect, Fred, I'd say sarcasm isn't the most novel kind of thinking that we've got available to us, and neither would be these insincerely saccharine postcards.. but I actually am serious in my request, while I may have been remiss in not starting the ball rolling with some real world examples.

Too bad for now, I'm off duty. Someone else can chime in if they like. Ball's in your court.

Kill em with kindness, or worry ourselves to death, one of the things I've been at least somewhat comforted by is, despite the vast expenditures, and the unbelievable (and unconsitutional) intrusiveness, these idiots don't seem to actually be able to prevent much of anything.

All the recent high profile incidents were either undetected and/or thwarted by common citizens. Undetected - Boston (followed by detection by a guy looking in his backyard at his boat). Thwarted - NYC Times Square, Underwear Bomber, et al.

Given their incredible ineffectiveness, I'm not so sure Fred's is such a bad idea. By tying up their Goliath web in knots it might provide breathing room for the common folk to actually interdict real threats.

Just a thought.

NSA data centre, the biggest collection of pron and kitty videos in the world.


It would be far more effective if everyone would encrypt their emails before sending them. The processing power needed to decrypt all of the emails would bust the NSA's budget a trillion times over. Stop sending your emails on postcards and put them in security lined envelopes. Pretty Good Privacy???

Do you use PGP?

Symantec owns PGP. NSA 'owns' Symantec.

The NSA already has most of your private encryption key (courtesy of Microsoft). Decryption is trivial. Quantum chips for that purpose are already operational.

Morpheus: ... they are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys.

Please, Seraph, or anyone else, do the world a favor by demonstrating the weakness of PGP by cracking the following message and posting it here:

Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.8 for non-commercial use





That looks remarkably like what my wife said to me this morning, thankfully I am a little hard of hearing in the mornings.

Yes, but I have only been able to convince one other person to use it with me.

Wired had stories about techniques to try to be anonymous on the web. Use "burner" phones, Tor and proxies. And yes your friends would have to do the same. And the NSA hacks the hackers.
The banks attach a code number to your spending transactions and catagorize your patterns and sell them. Do you use a credit/debit card at The Liquor Emporium and use the ATM at a Casino? Your insurer and employer likely can find out.

Google, nor anyone else, does not target me with ads related to my searches or purchases, so I appear to be doing something right.

Hi Blue
I don't get the ads either and the story at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse was from several years ago. I looked briefly and didn't find the story about bank tracking, their site has grown and I don't have the bookmark to or title of the story.
I'm sure that you know every swiped and scanned card leaves a trail. I use cash at places that take your card away to scan it like bars and restaurants. Target Stores wanted to scan my drivers liscense to buy a six pack of beer, I declined. "Rewards Cards" too. A friendly cashier gave me a card and activated it without an application. But use it once with a credit or debit card and I'm in another database.
So, It's not ads, just the data mining.

I do all point-of-sale purchases with cash. I only use a card to purchase things online. I use gift cards (thanks for the suggestion TOD) loaded with cash in a store to purchase a few things online that I can not locate any other way. The only time I use ATM's is to activate a new card by making a deposit. I switched stores and declined reward cards for years before I too encountered a friendly cashier. I get ID'ed every time I buy gold but never when I buy silver. As for the Internet it helps tremendously to have a dynamic IP address through a satellite, a proxy or two, disabling browser cookies and changing email address periodically. The Internet surly leaves the easiest trail to follow.

Don't use Tor, it's used by all kinds of "unwanted" people. For piracy, child po*n, illegal betting and stuff like that, all that traffic will end up passing through your computer. A person in Germany was arrested because they found his computer routing all kinds of traffic and he had no clue.

I don't think more and better secrecy gets us anywhere but deeper into the hole.

You have to invert the game, starve the beast, or better yet, give its hunger no purpose.

As it says IIRC in the art of war, the first step is to undermine your enemy's will to fight.

As it says IIRC in the art of war, the first step is to undermine your enemy's will to fight.

Wolf-Pac ... get money out of politics, get money out of NSA contracting, and the will to fight will be gone because there will no longer be a massive profit in it.

The NSA must have spam filters or else they'd get clogged up with automated spam.

Which suggests you should always include terms in your messages popular with spam filters so your message gets dumped before being incorporated into their database.

Of course, that leaves the problem of how to get the message past your intended recipient's spam filter...

Another 'gift' from the NSA ...

NSA Cryptologic Quarterly

(S//SI) In maintaining the official version of the attack, the NSA made use of surprisingly few published SIGINT reports - fifteen in all. The research behind the new version which follows is based on the discovery of an enormous amount of never-before-used SIGINT material. This included 122 relevant SIGINT products, along with watch center notes, oral history interviews, and messages among the various SIGINT and military command centers involved in the Gulf of Tonkin incidents. Naturally, this flood of new information changed dramatically the story of that night of 4/5 August.

(S//SI) Two startling findings emerged from the new research. First, it is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. Through a compound of analytic errors and an unwillingness to consider contrary evidence, American SIGINT elements in the region and at NSA HQs reported Hanoi's plans to attack the two ships of the Desoto patrol. Further analytic errors and an obscuring of other information led to publication of more "evidence." In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on 2 August.

(S//SI) The second finding pertains to the handling of the SIGINT material related to the Gulf of Tonkin by individuals at NSA Beginning with the period of the crisis in early August, into the days of the immediate aftermath, and continuing into October 1964, SIGINT information was presented in such a manner as to preclude responsible decision makers in the Johnson administration from having the complete and objective narrative of events of 4 August 1964. Instead, only SIGINT that supported the claim that the communists had attacked the two destroyers was given to administration officials.

... Result: Vietnam War - 50,000 soldiers killed - 250,000 wounded

Halberstam's "Best and the Brightest" gives a pretty good detailed account of the supposed gulf of Tonkin incident. Ultimately it played the same role in the Vietnam war as the WMD claims that preceded the invasion of Iraq. Simply put it was the excuse to take the action that was already planned. If there hadn't been a gulf of Tonkin incident another ploy would have been dreamed up.

Although any intelligent observer would have been able to deduce the falseness of the WMD claims, in the Gulf of Tonkin case, we pretty much had to take the word of the experts who had access to the data.

Regarding "Peak Oil - A Simple, Perfect Lie for Politicians" - How ironic that the article itself is so full of lies!

First, he more-or-less defines PO correctly as a decline in the production rate, but then he immediately equates that "running out" and producing the "last barrel".

Later he posts a graph of lower 48 production starting in 2005, knowing full well that the lower 48 peaked in the early 1970's, with the question "Does this look like Peak Oil?". No, it looks manipulation to me.

Stansberry paid the SEC $1.5 million for fraud. It didn't even slow him down.

People are strange.

I think Porter Stansberry might be a robot created as a goof. It takes careful coding to be so comically stupid.

Meanwhile, did you catch that Peak Oil is not just a lie, but a "self-serving" one? How, pray tell, am I gaining from it?


Porter Stansberry should be mocked, ridiculed, and laughed at. Nothing more.

I resisted the urge to even go to the article. Echoing in the back of my head was the wise micro-haiku..

'Don't Feed..'

Interesting article from the NYT that warns taking vitamin supplements not only won't help you, it's actively harmful.

Don’t Take Your Vitamins

To neutralize free radicals, the body makes antioxidants (good). Antioxidants can also be found in fruits and vegetables, specifically in selenium, beta carotene and vitamins A, C and E. Some studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower incidence of cancer and heart disease and live longer. The logic is obvious. If fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, and people who eat fruits and vegetables are healthier, then people who take supplemental antioxidants should also be healthier. It hasn’t worked out that way.

The likely explanation is that free radicals aren’t as evil as advertised. (In fact, people need them to kill bacteria and eliminate new cancer cells.) And when people take large doses of antioxidants in the form of supplemental vitamins, the balance between free radical production and destruction might tip too much in one direction, causing an unnatural state where the immune system is less able to kill harmful invaders. Researchers call this the antioxidant paradox.

Hi L,

re: Vitamin Supplements

I read this information the other day and also saw an interview this spring by an oncologist who said the same. He also felt the single best thing any individual could do for health/diet is take a low-dose aspirin everyday.

Now, do I send this on to my extremely unhealthy in-laws who pack a tackle box full of supplements and medications? I probably won't. Hard to beat the old golden rule of moderation in all things plus a sensible healthy diet which for us fluctuates seasonally.


There is a vast amount of research on vitamins and supplements on the Internet. No one should diss them without doing due diligence!! The same thing applies to illnesses; there are often alternatives with fewer adverse effects than big name pharma medicines.

I'm 74 1/2 and still fell trees, buck them up and split them (we heat with wood; about 2 1/2 cords a year). I have a 2 acre garden and orchard. I also do all the work at our rental house and much more. I take a ton of various supplements including specific vitamins. A number of our friends died years ago or can't do squat. Am I lucky? Good genes? Or, is all the stuff I take? I don't know but I'll keep taking all the stuff I do which, by the way, includes things like curcumin and milk thistle.

A good site for alternative or natural product research is http://www.greenmedinfo.com


It's probably all the work you do that keeps you going.

The body is the only machine that wears out if you don't use it.

"The body is the only machine that wears out if you don't use it."

Try telling that to a 45 year old stone mason. Again...one of those things to be taken in moderation.

Vast amounts of research or just parrotted claims of effectiveness? If one can't follow the references to a study with a control group and a double-blind, it's probably best to ignore the source altogether.

I've been following the supplement culture since learning the role of the liver in grade school and becoming concerned about the dozen-or-so pills that my father took each morning (all supplements). The problem is that people buying the supplements don't have a clue about what medicine is, how it works, or even how to read the research that tests its effects and effectivenss. (Hint: An anechdote about a healthy 74 year-old who takes supplements is not evidence for their effectiveness.) If your doctor has recommended that you take a supplement for some reason, fine, the chances are that your doctor knows better than you. Otherwise, you're just guessing and, as the research is beginning to show, probably doing more harm than good.

A decent blog that touches on supplements from time to time is http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/. Literature (blogs, podcasts, etc.) produced by the skeptical movement, which promotes critical thinking, is something worth looking into for anyone who thinks they know enough to self-medicate with supplements. It certainly humbled me.

They mention selenium, beta carotene and vitamins A, C and E - but there are many other supplements, and surely they do not all work the same. Vitamin is a very poorly defined category.

Taking any advice on such a broad category is going to miss crucial distinctions.

I eat meat, but not just any meat..

I drink dairy and eggs, but avoid almost all the industrial products.

Vitamins can swing as far to the harmful as they can to the helpful.. and like Juicing and Nuclear Waste, the extremes grow out of the process of homogenizing and over-concentrating specific components together into superdoses.

As Papa used to say,
'You can drown in milk'

I can't help but recognize that somewhere behind this there is also a desire to increase control over supplements by regulatory agencies (and therefore the corporations that have captured them). Science and politics and money all get mixed together.

On the flip side...as the article points out, the vitamin industry does not necessarily have our best interests at heart.

So why don’t we know about this? Why haven’t Food and Drug Administration officials made sure we are aware of the dangers? The answer is, they can’t.

In December 1972, concerned that people were consuming larger and larger quantities of vitamins, the F.D.A. announced a plan to regulate vitamin supplements containing more than 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin makers would now have to prove that these “megavitamins” were safe before selling them. Not surprisingly, the vitamin industry saw this as a threat, and set out to destroy the bill. In the end, it did far more than that.

Well of course not - no industry has our best interests at heart, that is the nature of a corporation. We must have our own best interests at heart, but if the supplies we need to treat ourselves are not available then we're out of luck.

This is similar to the discussion of being able to save seeds rather than being wholly dependent on a couple of giant corporations that have managed to block all competition so that they alone can supply the necessities of life.

That's kind of the point. Like Paracelsus said, "The poison is in the dose."

We're somewhat protected when we get vitamins and minerals from food. It's nearly impossible to eat so much of anything that we OD on vitamins. Supplements make it far too easy. It might also be that the ratio of nutrients matter; in nature, you don't find single vitamins in isolation.

While it's true vitamins are a broad category, I find the overall pattern very striking. Time and again, they think some nutrient is the key to health, test it, and find supplements are actually harmful. At first, the theory was that multivitamins often contain iron, and the mortality numbers were being skewed by people with undiagnosed hemochromatosis. Then there was the theory that people who take vitamins assume they don't have to eat healthy, and therefore have worse diets than those who don't take supplements. I think the handwriting is on the wall now: for most people, taking vitamins shortens your life.

We have a professor who broadcast on health matters for many years. He always maintained the only thing supplements do is change the colour of your urine. A waste of money is how he categorises them.

(Full disclosure: I bought a pack of Brewer's Yeast today. It's the only supplement I buy, and I buy one pack maybe every two years. And it is natural, kinda. I've seen them harvest it at the brewery. The yeast-rich sludge comes out of the bottom of the tanks and coats a giant steel drum which is heated and rotates very slowly. The sludge steams and dries out as it turns and knives scrape it off the drum into bags. It looks like dark brown wood shavings peeling out of a plane. Thereafter it gets debittered and pilled for consumption. I buy the bitter yeast if I can find it. The less processed the better IMO. You soon get used to the taste.)

My dad used to say something similar: "All vitamins give you is expensive urine."

But years and years of studies suggests it's more than that. It's not just changing the color of your urine, it's hurting you.

As a result of vitamin industry lobbying, a bill was passed that forbade the FDA from regulating vitamins.

A little more than a month later, Mr. Proxmire’s bill passed by a vote of 81 to 10. In 1976, it became law. Decades later, Peter Barton Hutt, chief counsel to the F.D.A., wrote that “it was the most humiliating defeat” in the agency’s history.

As a result, consumers don’t know that taking megavitamins could increase their risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten their lives; they don’t know that they have been suffering too much of a good thing for too long.

There is more than regulating vitamins behind this though. The FDA would like to be able to regulate all manner of alternative health supplies.

All of this discussion brings to my mind ole Dr. Jerry Rubin's fundamental diet rule:

"Don't eat anything that people haven't been eating for at least 1,000 years"

Eh, I think that's a red herring. The FDA was brought into the discussion only because Americans tend to think the FDA protects them from products that aren't safe and effective. Or at least safe. "If multivitamins were bad for you, wouldn't they be banned?"

It's the science I'm interested in. Particularly since many links have been posted here in the past claiming megadoses of vitamins and minerals are the answer to a variety of health issues (one or two by me, I confess). There's a tendency to think, "Well, what could it hurt? It's only vitamins." That may be very wrong-headed.

It would be nice to be able to look only at the science. I would like to hear about other vitamins beyond the ones they studied here. They are not all anti-oxidants I don't believe.

Empirical science is key but clearly an ongoing process of discovery.

Our doctor, a researcher at local university and into complementary and alternative medicine, suggests only low-dose aspirin and vitamin D. Claims hard to get enough of the latter here in mid-west, even in summer and even if we fore-go sunscreen. Anyone know of a good source to check this claim out?

Is there good science behind the % daily requirement ratings found on food packaging? Or whatever the published figures are for natural foods? Not that I pay much attention to it anyway, but if those figures for my diet totaled up to 100% per day (on average), would that be a good indication that supplements would be redundant even if they weren't harmful?

They used to be called MDR's, Minimum Daily Requirements. This was basically the amount of the vitamin deemed necessary to prevent deficiency diseases/symptoms, based on various studies.

Now they call them RDA's, Recommended Daily Allowances, and sometimes you'll see "% Daily Value" on the package. I don't know how they arrived at the newer figures (whether they are conservative numbers or more speculative), but there was some recognition that the optimum level of, say, B vitamins was something more than that required to prevent beri-beri.

If you have either 0.90 or 1.86 children go for that statistical recommendation. If not I'd suggest just listening to what your body tells you.

You also have to take chirality into account. Many organic molecules come in left- and right-handed forms, but usually only the left-handed form is used in the body. Right-handed forms are ignored.

But factory-produced molecules come in left- and right-handed forms equally. So theoretically you need to take a double dose if you're using factory-produced products.

However I know a scientist won the Nobel prize for figuring out how to produce only left-handed molecules, so maybe they've licked the problem at factory level. I haven't been keeping up with the research.

There's a tendency to think, "Well, what could it hurt? It's only vitamins." That may be very wrong-headed.

Well, it might not be only vitamins. I buy a brand of vitamin C "with rosehips" and I know someone who is allergic to rosehips. As someone further down this thread told us, his supplements contained shell fish products and some people are allergic to shell fish. The vitamincfoundation dot org web site touts their "China free" product, the implication being that Chinese manufactured vitamin C may be tainted. Sure enough, an internet search for "china tainted vitamin c" shows up some serious allegations. So, the question then becomes, how pure are the supplements you are taking and how do you know they are not tainted? How much efforts was made to ensure that the supplements used in this study were of the highest quality and absolutely untainted?

Alan from the islands

I treat articles like this the same way I treat articles that say peak oil is dead. A few questions come to mind:
1)Who did the research?
2)Who funded the research?
3)What was the objective of the research?
4)Who benefits from these findings?
5)How is the public expected to react to these findings?

I am a little surprised that we here on this site, who discuss mass manipulation of the public using mass media ad nauseum, would blithely accept one article like this. As recently as May 23rd, I posted a comment in the May 22nd DB quoting from a book by Irwin Stone. Using Google's advanced search to search theoildrum domain for "Irwin Stone" (include the quotation marks) brought it right to the top along with the three other posts in which I have mentioned Stone. Part of the quote reads

In nearly all the mammals, ascorbic acid is manufactured in the liver from the blood sugar, glucose. The conversion proceeds stepwise, each step being controlled by a different enzyme. The mutation that occurred in our ancestral monkey destroyed his ability to manufacture the last enzyme in this series -- L-gulonolactone oxidase. This prevented his liver from converting L-gulonolactone into ascorbic acid, which was needed to carry out the various biochemical processes of life. The lack of this enzyme made this animal susceptible to the deadly disease, scurvy. To this day, millions of years later, all the descendants of this mutated animal, including man, have the intermediate enzymes but lack the last one. And that is why man cannot make ascorbic acid in his liver.

I find this an extremely elegant idea. It seems that Steve Hickey and Hilary Roberts in their book "Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C", explore the defective mechanism to suggest that the optimum intake of vitamin C for a healthy adult would be about 2,500 mg per day taken in at least five doses over the course of the day, that is, 500mg every 3 hours. I would say the science behind varying doses of vitamin C, to match the requirements of an individual under various levels of physical or mental trauma, is pretty solid.

The late Dr. Robert F. Cathcart who last practised in Los Altos, California, developed a method he called "Titrating To Bowel Tolerance" to determine the adequate oral intake of vitamin C for individuals suffering from various illnesses brought on by viruses or bacteria. He also documented procedures for preparing ascorbate (vitamin C) solutions for IV administration.

In the case of vitamin D, I am guided by Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Biophysics, Director, Biologic Effects of Light Research Center, Boston University Medical Center. I have watched an entertaining one hour video presentation of his ("Vitamin D and Prevention of Chronic Diseases" on youtube). I am also just listening to another youtube video of a presentation by Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H. from the same conference at UC San Diego. Not nearly as engaging. The take away is that:

1) A healthy adult Caucasian can easily synthesize over 20,00 IU of vitamin D in less than an hour of exposure to sun in the middle of the day.
2) At certain latitudes it is not possible to synthesize ANY vitamin D during the winter months.
3) The levels of vitamin D supplementation that produce "toxicity" are ridiculously high.

In light of the amount that can be synthesized in a healthy individual, exposed to the mid day sun, what would constitute a mega-dose of vitamin D for someone who hasn't been exposed to the right type of sunlight for weeks or even months?

I am very sceptical about that article having done a internet search for 'vitamins "where are the bodies"'and read some of the stuff that came up.

Isn't it here, on this very web site, that we repeat the adage that, "it is difficult to get a man to understand (believe) something, when his livelihood depends on him not understanding (believing) it"?

Alan from the islands

I don't see anyone "blithely accepting one article." Many of the replies argued against it.

As for me, it's just a summary of something I have been taking note of for years: studies have repeatedly linked multivitamins and other supplements with higher mortality, even though people with healthier lifestyles are more likely to take them. The huge vitamin industry probably dwarfs any other interests in this issue, yet the studies keep coming up snake eyes for them.

As for varying individual needs...well, that's kind of the point. No doubt that some individuals benefit from supplements. People with deficiencies, like the malnourished kids you see in those "Save the Children" ads. People who for some reason cannot absorb enough nutrients naturally (such as those who have gastric bypass surgery). People who have genetic abnormalities that affect digestion.

But that doesn't mean healthy, normal people benefit from supplements. Just because some is good, doesn't mean more is better. It might be quite the opposite.

I've been on a mega vitamin regime for 35 years, and I am 65 and bagging 14's still.
Never had health insurance, and live on a ranch.

It is a bit more complex than stated.

You realize, of course, that one is a very small sample size, and not statistically significant.

The increase in mortality/cancer diagnoses range from 3% to 17%, depending on the vitamin, so you would not expect to notice it on an individual basis.

You are also still fairly young. Most of these studies focus on older adults - older than you, at least by the end of the (often very long) studies, since young people are not likely to die of cancer or heart disease.

Like Todd, most of my peer group is not in nearly as good of shape as I am.

And like rapamycin and aging, I'm not arguing with the data.
I'm just saying that supplements (often used in drug effective doses) have their place in the quiver.

Point taken. I guess I discounted the possibility of " taking note of' stuff "for years". I must point out that I only take vitamin C, vitamin D and occasionally vitamin B12, D being normally present in fairly large amounts under ideal circumstances and C when I am sick or wounded, based on what I've read about it's wide range of roles in healing.

I also like to think along the lines of "who benefits"? Vitamins and supplements are largely non-patentable, naturally occurring substances so, the barriers to entry to becoming a supplement manufacturer are reasonably low. No chance of mega-profits being gained or lost in that business. On the other hand, the money involved in the pharmaceutical business and health care is obscene. There are a huge number of people who's livelihoods would be threatened if vitamins and supplements "work as advertised" and knowledge of that efficacy became common knowledge.

So as customary with me these days, whenever I get a "message", I automatically question the motives of the messenger and what they have to gain from delivering the "message". Colour me cynical!

But that doesn't mean healthy, normal people benefit from supplements. Just because some is good, doesn't mean more is better. It might be quite the opposite.

With what passes for a modern western diet, I'd guess that supplements would be the only way some people will get anything other than protein, carbohydrates and oils in their bodies. I've seen people order lunches and specifically ask for no veg or order a burger and remove the lettuce and tomato before eating it. Just a stroll through the average supermarket or convenience store will reveal how much sterile, denatured, salty, sugary, fatty stuff, is being passed off as food. No wonder all sort of illnesses are on the rise.

Alan from the islands

Not only that...there's evidence today's lettuce and tomato are nowhere near as nutritious as the lettuce and tomato our forefathers ate. One, the soil is depleted from modern agricultural practices. While NPK are replaced via chemical fertilizers, the trace minerals often are not. Two, fruits and vegetables are washed more thoroughly than they used to be; we used to eat a certain amount of dirt with our food.

However, that doesn't mean artificial supplements are necessarily the answer.

If BAU continues, I think the next big thing will be tailoring medical care to individuals. Gary Taubes pointed out that the fear of cholesterol comes partly from early studies that did not filter out people who had a certain genetic defect that produces both high cholesterol and early heart attacks. It skewed the results.

Iron is among the most deadly of supplements, but it could be that people with hemochromatosis are skewing those results, and iron is fine, even beneficial, for others.

I don't think we're at "peak genetic science" yet. And more and more, it's looking like one size doesn't fit all. What's good for one person may do nothing for another, or even be outright harmful.

Supplements can cause major problems in some people. I happen to be one of them.
I used to take a multivitamin and Glucosamine/Chondrin(SP) tablet every day - I was was having brain "fog" and other problems that I was hoping to help reduce or get rid of. Then some one suggested fish oil tablets. I started taking one fish oil and one flax oil tablet a day instead of the multivitamin and G/C tablets. About a month later I got hauled to the hospital in an ambulance (a first for me at 72) with the right side of my body paralyzed. Docs said I had a mini-stroke & wanted me to take all kinds of Medication. I deferred even though they predicted that I would soon have a major stroke if I didn't. I had 12 more of the mini-stroke symptoms (each episode lasted about an hour) and a couple more trips to the ER.
Then in working with a good neurologist I was able to discover the the "stroke symptoms" were some type of reaction to the fish oil pills! Since stopping taking any supplements I have not had any more of the "stroke symptoms". I then looked at the bottles that I still had of the multivitamins and G/C tablets. Surprise - Both contained shell fish products. They were the damn things that were causing all the brain fog and other problems that I had been having for years. I no longer have any of those problems as I no longer take any supplements.
My guess is that I could probably eat a fish sandwich and it would not have any adverse effects on me, BUT I am never going to do so and take a chance - even though I love (and always have) fresh water fish and sea food of all kinds.
I was lucky! If you are taking supplements on your own (not under doctors direction) and are having problems, do think about stopping taking them for a month to see if things improve?

Thanks for posting this. I read it with a great deal of interest since I am starting to get older and prefer natural products to pharmaceuticals.

Its probably worth keeping in mind that the vast majority of Pharmaceuticals are isolated and derived from Natural Products. Nature has had millions of years to evolve a wide range of pharmacological compounds.

Take aspirin (willow bark) and penicillin (mould) for example.

The reason why pharmaceuticals are produced synthetically is because its much more cost effective to do so (raw material cost and yield).


For years we've read Prevention which seems well ahead of MSM in summary reporting of empirical findings related to supplements, phyto-chemcicals, anti-inflammatories, anti-oxidants, etc. Many years ago they "got" the idea of evolution-based functionalism (e.g., free radicals might serve a purpose, most organisms in the mouth and gut are not bad).

Despite the ads (which pay for paper and ink, and feed people's wild presumptions about what the magazine is about), they generally caution against multivitamins and supplements. Avoid high doses certainly, but they also question the efficacy of normal doses, and lately, the need for them at all. They do promote new discoveries, but they usually give a sense of whether there's any empirical research behind them (e.g., they tend to avoid reporting the misused "clinically tested" claims). But they highly recommend getting all vitamins and nutrients through whole foods. Vitamin D does seem to be one of the key problem areas.

I'm dubious of all N=1 claims of, "I take mega doses and haven't been sick a day ..." (the Russian Roulette survivor heuristic?)

It's hard to cut through all the crap when it comes to reports and postings about food and nutrients. After >40 years of trying to make sense of all this I've come to trust (a bit more than other sources) the Rodale group.

I can hear some saying, "Now what has this to do with energy descent?" My sense is that real-soon-now we'll be back to getting almost all our nutrients only from locally grown foods. And it might be useful to pre-familiarize ourselves with how to do that. And if there are any essential supplements we might decide to trade for (e.g., vitamin D?).

There's also the "illusory superiority" cognitive bias. Americans seem to live in Lake Woebegon, where all children are above average. ;-) 93% of Americans think they are better than average drivers. Something like 75% of women think they are more attractive than average. Most college professors think they are above average teachers. And, yes, we all think we're healthier than our peers (both in behavior and results).

I do think one of the next big things will be the organisms that live naturally in and on the human body. Some fascinating research is being done how gut biota differs among the obese vs. the slender, the diabetic vs. the non-diabetic, etc. We may have evolved to consume a lot more fermented foods than we currently do.

And I do think this is on-topic. Food has been discussed here from the beginning - everything from how we're going to feed 9 billion people to whether the dietary changes imposed by peak resources will be beneficial or harmful.

Have you noticed that studies about diet and health reverse themselves every decade? I ignore these types of studies because they appear to be commercialism.

Nah, what happens is the MSM get hold of a bit of early research about a minor effect or slight bias, then declare that this is the next super cure or super killer.

The basics have never really changed. Varied moderate exercise, varied moderate food intake, good genetics.

The message is constantly changing.

First there were no vitamins.

Then it was take your daily vitamin supplement because you are not getting enough.

Then it was take megadoses of vitamins because regular supplements did not supply enough.

Currently it is stop taking vitamin supplements because they are bad for you. Instead eat and prepare healthy food to get your allotment of vitamins.

Every bit of this is marketing shouting, "Buy my product!"

That last part certainly isn't. Preparing healthy food is pretty much a money-loser for the big players in the game.

Gary Taubes argues that that is one reason the US government came out in favor of a high-carb, low-fat diet back in the '80s. While some industries opposed it - the beef industry, for example - for most big food companies, high-carb is a gold mine.

The profit margin is obscene on carbohydrates - at least, the kind big food sells. Wheat kernels and flour are dirt cheap, but breakfast cereal, cookies, muffins, etc. are not, and that markup is profit city. Similarly, raw potatoes are cheap, potato chips, french fries and the like are marked up for a nice profit. It's harder to do this with foods like beef or green beans.

I also think it's wrong to assume that all this research is being driven by a profit motive. Some is, sure, but as Taubes also points out, some of the wrong-headedness happened because doctors were so eager to find something that would help people.

They don't necessarily reverse themselves. A lot of them are contradictory, but if you look at the big picture, we are learning more and refining what we know, and we really are moving toward greater understanding.

The problem with human nutrition is you cannot do rigorous experiments on it. You can't put people in a cage and feed them controlled diets, like you can with mice or rats. And even if you can (some experiments involved people in mental institutions), it turns out it doesn't apply to the general population. If, say, a high-carb diet increases appetite, that won't show for institutionalized patients who can only eat what they are served, but it will be an issue for a normal person who has to pass the donut cart every morning at the office.

A few years back my annual blood test showed me to be borderline anemic. Probably from too much caffeine...
Rather than give up my habit I decided to just try an iron supplement. I was already taking daily B, C and D supplements, so why not?
It took me quite a while to figure out it was the iron that was triggering violent episodes of gastrointestinal mayhem.
And then another learning curve establishing the vit B as the source of chronic tummy woes.
Not a doubt in my mind that stressing out my digestive system that way did far more harm than any benefit I received in terms of a marginal pick-up in energy level.
Supplements are not cost-free if you are taxing your digestive system.

Abram Hoffer has been proposing megadoses of Niacin (Vitamin B3) for years as a treatment for cholestrol problems, arthritis, dementia, depression, schizophrenia and malnutrition, among others. He is very convincing.

When critics point out the lack of clinical trials, he replies that Niacin is so cheap there is no profit in it for the drug companies so they don't fund clinical trials.

Given the many proposed benefits and strong anecdotal evidence, one wonders why the government doesn't fund trials.

They do.

Many of these vitamin studies are done by European universities, presumably via government funding, since I don't see any other "sponsors" listed.

We're paying off our mortgage in less than 5 years


Lastly, we looked at ways we could shrink our utilities. For electric savings, we installed programmable thermostats and lowered the heat temperature and raised the air-conditioning temperature; in the winter we bought mini oscillating heaters (with safety shutoffs) for each bedroom and turned off the heat from 7 p.m. until 4 p.m. the next day; we closed the vents in any room that was not in use (including the basement, attic, bathrooms, and laundry room); as incandescent light bulbs blew out we replaced them with compact fluorescents. All of these changes decreased our average monthly electric usage by almost 50 percent, from around 1,800 to 2,000 kilowatt-hour to where we are now at approximately 1,000 kwh. We also applied a few water conservation rules as well -- opting to take showers at the free gym facilities available at our places of work, enacting "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down," washing all dishes by hand, and purchasing energy-efficient front loads -- that dropped our water bill down to an average of only $25 a month, which is as low as it gets in our area.

We will most likely keep the remaining savings practices we've adopted and possibly work toward reducing our monthly obligations even further. I have been bitten by the energy conservation bug during this endeavor and have pitched plans to include some solar and thermal additions to our home.

It's funny what happens when you play around with numbers. This family apparently built an investment home that they were only going to keep a few years and then sell - but decided to live in it instead. The guy realized that the interest on the mortgage was going to cost him as much as the house itself so they "buckled down" and diverted the majority of their income towards paying the mortgage off early...which came with some positive side effects.

A 4% 30 year mortgage is the bargain of a lifetime. Everyone's financial situation is different but keeping a mortgage at such a low rate seems like a better idea than paying it off early. My mortgage ten years ago was 8% and we might get back up there someday. Or the economy craters (more likely) and you can walk away from your mostly bank-owned home if you need to. I'd rather have $200k in the bank and a $700 a month payment then nothing in the bank and no mortgage. I lose my job and need to get by for a while, no one will loan me anything and all the equity in my house will be worthless unless I'm forced to sell my house.

Imagine historical inflation and a 4% mortgage payment 20 years from now. Your cell phone bill will be higher.

There are two risks possible. One is inflation, for which a long term mortgage would be a fine hedge. The other is deflation...

Today, the risk may be more tilted to the deflation side. As hard as the Fed tries, they cannot seem to get inflation going. Check out the Euro Nations. There, deflation is on the ascendency.

Deflation happens when too few people are earning money to support industries (including service industries), as we see today. There is then insufficient demand for goods to stimulate supply, prices drop and... you have a raging depression.

I do not know what would stop this from happening in a world where the energy needed for recovery is notably in decline.

And, that is why deflation is a greater problem today than inflation is.

Of course, for a few years, we could see some weird inflationary consequences from manipulations, or should the US actually begin printing money in huge volume and using that to pay its bills and debts. That may be sufficient to allow you to pay off that mortgage... though the tax bill and insurance bill might eat up your money so fast you still would not be able.

In any case we are in trouble, and paying off debt is not a bad strategy.


Agreed, Craig. It depends on your world view, it seems. It always baffles me how some folks consider their home in the same light as, say, a car; no big deal if it gets reposessed. "Walk away",, to where? And as things get more dicey, I'm with Stoneleigh on this one, debt won't be forgiven as 'gracefully'; debtors prisons and all that. A few tweaks to state laws, bankruptcy won't be a good option. Any funds in the bank will be forfeit. It's already gotten harder to default on major obligations while preserving much monetary wealth.

If you own your home and are largely self-sufficient, you can cancel your insurance in hard times, be concerned mostly with coming up with the taxes, and pray alot. You may also be able to rent a room or two to those (see above) who decided to just "walk away" (if their credit isn't so screwed they can get a job).

Our plan is to stop feeding a corrupt system; starve the beast...

You cannot cancel insurance as long as you hold a mortgage guaranteeing you will keep it in force.

You will know we are near raging inflation when insurance is billed monthly (or weekly. Daily?)

I can only hope we last another 60 months - that's when my fast pay plan is complete and we own our home free and clear!

Good luck starving that beast! It seems to me that we have many beasties out there today... more than can be handled.


So back to my example...you would rather own your house outright and have zero in the bank or $200k in the bank (or under a mattress or buried in the backyard or hidden in the false bottom of a solar panel?) and a $700/month payment. At $700 a month plus $5k a year for taxes, you have enough money for 10 years if you are 100% self sufficient. If you have no money, you'd need to come up with $50k over those 10 years.

We've been growing a lot more of our own food and wow, it's expensive. I'm looking at a $200 net for our 25x50 blueberry patch, another chest freezer to store everything, a tractor for our few acres of weeds sure would be nice, fertilizer, pesticide, tools, etc.

you would be better to have 200k under the mattress walk away from your house now and in 6 years pay 30k cash for the same house when prices collapse. But who has the balls for that...

"you would rather own your house outright and have zero in the bank or...

Like most things there's probably a balance to be struck here in that you'd want to build out an emergency buffer before starting to pay down the mortgage - you wouldn't run a zero bank balance.

By paying it off early, in the case above, he's saving himself somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 over the course of 30 years. Now that he's payed off the loan, any buffer that he builds will last longer because his expenses are lower. If he decides to continue the 5 year path and bank the extra money then within the next 5 years he'll have enough to weather 30 years of taxes in your scenario. He'd only need to bank a little over 1 year's worth of what he was doing to meet and then exceed your 10 year buffer. He's then not going to get kicked out of his house for missing $2,100 worth of payments after paying $100,000+ towards the mortgage.

So there is a small period where he would be in a weaker position during the payoff period, but the recovery would be swift and multiplied afterward.

My numbers were made up but I think your math is a little off. One year of skipped payments is $700 x 12 or $8.4k. That's a little less than 2 years of the property taxes I mentioned. Those are probably high for that low of a mortgage unless you are in a high tax state.

And the $200k in the bank may earn you some interest. Not today but maybe interest rates normalize at some point and you could get a CD for 4% to match the mortgage payment. Or you could roll the dice in the market. None of us know the future.

I could pay off my mortgage today and still have several years of living expenses (though some in retirement accounts) but I haven't been convinced that it's a great idea. A 4% loan is such an outlier and I like the flexibility of having the liquid cash instead.

For Paulo's comment below, having no mortgage doesn't help much compared to all the other day to day expenses with kids and a family. Not having the monthly payment would not change my financial situation very much.

What about the college student that has to take out $60,000 in student loans...after that is payed off how much have they paid on that loan? Probably about as much as they will make in 20 years...the system is really stacked against the poor and working class..

Today, the risk may be more tilted to the deflation side. As hard as the Fed tries, they cannot seem to get inflation going.

This is something I'm still trying to grasp, i.e. why so much QE is not having the inflationary effect the Fed expected.

Peeing in the ocean would be the basic concept.

To get inflation, you need both an expanded money supply and usage of that expanded money supply. Put another way, the new money has to chase old goods. QE puts money in the hands of very large financial institutions, and they are loathe to invest money right now. That means QE's new cash is either sitting in the electronic vault or is being used to bid on the stock market. QE's new cash doesn't chase old goods, just stock market bubbles. And so QE doesn't cause much inflation.

However, it is a great way to make large financial institutions even more wealthy and powerful. It's almost like they...nah, couldn't be.

Agree...unless the money is moving, it does nothing. Simply propping up a bank balance sheet will not cause inflation.

However...it would appear that there's enough money now in the stock market that it's leaking out into the housing market with institutional buyers/hedge funds snatching up property and driving up the price - so it's starting to creep its way out.

This is something I'm still trying to grasp, i.e. why so much QE is not having the inflationary effect the Fed expected.

Because a lot of people's views of monetary theory is just plain wrong. Ron Paul said that hyperinflation is probably going to happen in the immediate future . . he said that over 30 years ago. The Austrian economists just don't know what they are talking about . . . but that is what happens when you reject empiricism.

(BTW, I don't think the Fed expected high inflation . . . they carefully watching for it and will pull-back if it happens.)

I'm not in any way an "Austrian," but I have to ask: the Austrian school is less empirical than who, exactly?

I don't know why economics is called the "dismal science." Its clearly not a science, and its wildly entertaining.

I'm not in any way an "Austrian," but I have to ask: the Austrian school is less empirical than who, exactly?

Than mainstream economists. Austrians reject collecting data and building models as the way to develop economic theory. Instead they see economics as a series of increasingly-sophisticated logical deductions from several foundational axioms. IOW, economics should be a deductive philosophy instead of a research science.

The Fed stopped reporting the broader monetary aggregates called M4 or L.
These include negotiable money-market securities, such as commercial paper, negotiable CDs, and T-bills. The problem was that they were using a simple sum, failing to weight them properly. However, M4 really is money and it has contracted a lot since 2008. So while Government money has greatly expanded total money has barely remained constant. I've given a link as text to a group that attempts to provide a good measure of M4.
Sorry that this comment is too late to reach many folks.

Many people seem to be puzzled by this.

The Biggest Economic Mystery of 2013: What's Up With Inflation?: Despite QE3, core inflation just hit a 50-year low

That drop in government spending shown on one of the charts in that article is probably one factor.

As others have noted, it's not just the money supply that counts. Velocity counts, too. I think Stoneleigh was right about the basic mechanism, if not on the magnitude.

What we're seeing here is what we saw after the 1929 stock market crash, and what Japan saw after their real estate bubble burst. What happens after a bubble bursts is very different from what happens after an ordinary recession. More wealth was destroyed than government printing presses can replace. The effects linger for years - decades, even. It's 20 years and counting for Japan.

As long as globalization, better governance, improved infrastructure etc allow millions of poor Asians enter the labor market every year, the will be huge deflationary pressure, no matter what the Fed does. Myanmar is the latest country to come online -- population 50m.

If you have enough money in the bank to live for a year, then you are better off using the excess money to pay off your mortgage. What if your bank goes Cyprus or your broker pulls a Corzine? Even if you are covered by FDIC insurance, it could take years to get your money back. The FDIC has 30 cents for every $100 in deposit. It makes no sense to earn 0.5% on a bank deposit while paying 4% on your mortgage. I would keep $60,000 in the bank and use $140,000 to pay off the mortgage.

Money in the bank? Good luck with that.
The banks/government (is there a difference?) will steal your money.


This is what having no mortgage or rent does for you because it matters not one wit what the rate is; it is the obligation that is onerous. You have to cough up a mortgage payment or eventually be forced out of your home.

You are able to work at something you really want to do and not because you have to.
You can quit your job and/or look for another one if the job goes south. Nothing ever stays the same and that includes job satisfaction and company viability.
You can take out a line of credit to buy some really great property if something appears on the market. Then....sell house and move.
You always have cash in your wallet.
Your family is okay if you hit hard times.
You can retire when you feel like it.

And on and on. I can't begin to list the benefits.

My sister lives in the US. I had this discussion with brother-in-law and his main point was that it made better financial sense to never pay off their house due to interest deductibilty. I listed the above plus some other points. Fast forward a few years and they started freaking because of the attacks by so many on 'entitlements'....including interest deductibility and Social Security. He is 70 and still working. I am 57 and retired. I am blue collar. He is the professional with pressed slacks. One has laugh lines and the other has worry lines.

Get rid of any and all debt and you will be free. Cell phone? What's that? Debt is bad and forces people into economic servitude. I repeat...debt is bad.


Re Aleklett interview, a bit strange that Laherrère isn't even mentionned...
Btw, his latest synthesis (oil and gas) below :

Thanks for that.

Re: Colorado secede? Counties weigh exit plan to form state of 'North Colorado'

It had been a long time since I laughed as hard as I did when I first saw this proposal reported in the Denver Post. I spent three years as a budget analyst for the Colorado legislature, and am quite sure that this eight-county "state" would be bankrupt from day one. I'll simply note that the county commissioners whining that the urban/suburban Front Range doesn't understand rural Colorado haven't said a word about the large subsidies those counties receive from the Front Range for schools, roads, and social services. Interesting timing on this -- a couple of weeks ago the Colorado Supreme Court dismissed a case originally filed by rural school districts demanding that their subsidies be increased by a billion dollars per year, or more.

I'm inclined to say, "Cut 'em loose if that's what they want." I can hardly wait to see their first year budget, when they have to explain to the people that "Well, we're a much smaller much poorer state now, so can't afford to have as many nice things. Like school roofs that don't leak. Or bridges."

There is a fine line . . . . are they uber-patriots? Or are they traitors? They are just a bunch of whiners crying because the last few elections didn't go there way.

They're wanting to leave Colorado, not the US. And, of course, they want to make a new state - guaranteed a Red state! Do this in a few ultra-conservative states and you can hijack the US Senate! Let's have 1/4 of Wyoming and part of Montana become a state, then the panhandle of Utah and some of Idaho, plus another 1/4 of Wyoming and some of S. Dakota. Wowsers, we would have a few new Republican representatives plus 8 more Senators (counting the Colorado/Nebraska bunch).

Not traitors though. Traitors would want succeed from the USA. There are some of those around, of course (think Governor Perry of Texas, for instance). But not the ones in this case.


Of course that would be a ridiculous strategy . . . Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and the Dakotas are ridiculously small (in population) states as is. If they do that then we should split California and New York into 10 states each.

Actually, we in far Northern California/Southern Oregon already have a popular movement to form our own state - the state of Jefferson.


The NPR station out of Ashland OR is called "Jefferson Public Radio" and makes a special point to have service throughout the currently-mythical state of Jefferson.

I'd wager there are similar conflicts in quite a few states where there are significant regional geo/political/cultural differences. Nothing new - the Romans had similar issues....

Very true. There's an upstate/downstate divide in New York - basically the urban vs. rural areas. The rural upstate residents resent NYC, which, in their view, sucks up resources like water, puts restrictions on what they're allowed to do, and is full of welfare recipients grabbing tax dollars.

Some of that is true, but NYC and Buffalo actually bring in more money than they take; it's the rural areas that are being subsidized by the urban areas.

This kind of conflict has been around forever, and is one reason the electoral college is set up the way it is. But many have predicted that the U.S. will not survive peak oil and other looming crises intact.

It might not even take much of a crisis. The Untied States of America argues that countries are like marriages: they fall apart all the time. Three-quarters of the countries in the United Nations were not there 50 years ago.

I'll take the opportunity to defend the West on this -- if you class Idaho as "ridiculously small (in population)", then Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Vermont also fall into that category, as they all have smaller populations than Idaho. An acquaintance of mine, when he wants to irritate people in that part of the country, suggests that if it's appropriate to talk about rolling western states together, there's no real reason other than ancient history not to add Rhode Island to Connecticut; Delaware to Maryland; and roll all of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine together.

We seceded years ago.. we just never told anyone. They'd just fuss and shout, not worth the bother.

(Just watched LINCOLN.. musta put me in a mood.)

You bring up and interesting question; should state be based on population, or on geographic features? A proposal pops up in Washington State every so often to split the state at the Cascades. The state is divided by rainfall as much as anything. East and West are joined by 4 all-season roads; US 2, I-90, US 12, and State 14, and you could toss in I-84 although it's in Oregon across the river from State 14.

The west-siders complain that the east would be broke instantly, which would be true if the east tried to run Seattle style services. What they don't ask is how many of those Seattle services do the easterners really think are essential enough to fund. Instead both sides yell at each other a lot, which both sides seem to equally enjoy.

Although the State of Franklin rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful, it did contribute to the inclusion of a clause in the U.S. Constitution regarding the formation of new states, Article IV, Section III: "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."


Had the U.S. Congress approved, the State of Franklin would have been the nation's 14th state.

AND in the Civil War:

East Tennessee was a stronghold of Unionism; most slaves were house servants—luxuries—rather than the base of plantation operations. The dominant mood strongly opposed secession.[17] Tennesseans representing twenty-six East Tennessee counties met twice in Greeneville and Knoxville and agreed to secede from Tennessee. They petitioned the state legislature in Nashville, which denied their request to secede and sent Confederate troops under Felix Zollicoffer to occupy East Tennessee and prevent secession.

East Tennessee thus came under Confederate control from 1861 to 1863. Nevertheless East Tennessee supplied significant numbers of troops to the Federal army. (See also Nickajack). Many East Tennesseans engaged in guerrilla warfare against state authorities by burning bridges, cutting telegraph wires, and spying for the North.[18] East Tennessee became an early base for the Republican Party in the South. Strong support for the Union challenged the Confederate commanders who controlled East Tennessee for most of the war. Generals Felix K. Zollicoffer, Edmund Kirby Smith, and Sam Jones oscillated between harsh measures and conciliatory gestures to gain support, but had little success whether they arrested hundreds of Unionist leaders or allowed men to escape the Confederate draft. Union forces finally captured the region in 1863.[19]

General William Sherman's famous March to the Sea saw him personally escorted by the 1st Alabama Cavalry regiment, which consisted entirely of Unionist southerners. Despite its name, the regiment consisted largely of men from Tennessee.


"They're wanting to leave Colorado, not the US."

We don't have to admit them. Let them be their own country.

I live in Wyoming and as a raging progressive I disagree with nearly everything going on in Weld county or Wyoming ... permissive fracking, lack of landowner rights, setbacks, etc... but I really do feel their pain in the larger picture. Guns... I grew up with guns and spent a year of my live surrounded by live weapons in Vietnam and still use them as a matter of course today, and let me say that the gun laws that Colorado has enacted would embarrass a junior high student council. Instead of a couple of new laws that make sense 'keep your guns locked up', ' if you have a nutty relative take their guns away, and if they have been evaluated by a mental health professional as nuttier than a fruitcake, report them to the police', ... instead Colo waded out into the weeds with transfers, possession, magazine size, etc etc etc... This is nearly the only topic that I agree with the Wyoming legislature about... and yes we all understand that these counties are not going to do what they are talking about... but a real disconnect exists between the rural and urban counties... and in a larger example all those people who want to give up all their constitutional liberties to be safe from terrorists, and those of us who see terrorism as insignificant and no threat worthy of giving up any degree of rights or privacy. Maybe it is time for two Americas.... and I would have a real problem choosing between the two. Thanks for the chance to rant....

So far this year, we have deaths from terrorism -3; from nitwit with a backhoe poking at building next to an occupied structure -6, Tornadoes in OK, over 30 (lost count, sorry) plus three professional storm-chasers.

have deaths from terrorism -3; from nitwit with a backhoe poking at building next to an occupied structure -6, Tornadoes in OK, over 30

Hey, maybe we could convince the NSA to use their massive computing and data analysis capability to track Tornadoes instead of cellphone conversations...

Don't forget the West, Texas OSHA violation that killed 15 and injured around 200.

I live on a ranch, and guns are part of the tools that are present.
Besides, a well armed proletariat is necessary against sociopathic hierarchies that arise (almost always, if you are paying attention).

"a well armed proletariat is necessary"

a well armed educated proletariat is necessary

Guns seem to be for "adults" what capes are for 5 year olds...they make them think that they're Superman. Just as delusional in its ability to grant powers...ask Micheal Dorner.

That's a good shift of perspective, but I would push it around another time, considering how many folks with higher degrees are struggling now, too.

We need a well ORGANIZED Proletariat, which takes a bit of decent education, and also a Civic Education, where they see everyone as involved in the leadership of the group.

Our worst 'convenience' in this society might be our eagerness to let others do the leading, while we get to skulk away safely out of sight.

As with the NSA stories above, I think people who are insistent that it is their guns that will protect their freedoms are often working with as much anxiety and insecurity as those who wield too much political or economic power, protecting a nation with too much power, to the end that all their confidence is suspended on that 'Super-power', and their own human potential has been undervalued by comparison.

If the first Industrial Revolution had a motto, we like to joke, it would be "If brute force doesn't work, you're not using enough of it."

That's a good shift of perspective, but I would push it around another time, considering how many folks with higher degrees are struggling now, too.

There's a great TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson titled schools kill creativity. It was done in 2006 but it is even more relevant today. If ever there was a time in human history when we need to tap into the deepest wells of creativity, now is that time! Unfortunately the educational system we have built was designed to weed out and stifle any critical and original thinking, let alone deviants who communicate through the arts such as music dance and poetry! What governments, corporations, banks and the NSAs all over the world are doing today make the realities contained in works of fiction such as '1984' seem benign by comparison.

In the next 30 years, according to UNESCO, more people worldwide will be graduating through education than since the beginning of history. More people, and it's the combination of all the things we've talked about -- technology and its transformation effect on work, and demography and the huge explosion in population. Suddenly, degrees aren't worth anything. Isn't that true? When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job. If you didn't have a job it's because you didn't want one. And I didn't want one, frankly. (Laughter) But now kids with degrees are often heading home to carry on playing video games, because you need an MA where the previous job required a BA, and now you need a PhD for the other. It's a process of academic inflation. And it indicates the whole structure of education is shifting beneath our feet. We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence.

Yes, jokuhl, my note above to the NSA was sarcastic but that wasn't my point. It was that at some point we need to draw a line in the sand and literally fight back. The NSA sure as hell isn't protecting us from anything. So I think it is fair play to find a way to bring them to their knees by overwhelming them with useless data. I'm going to bet that if we do, we will find that the number of terrorist attacks will probably even decrease...

I give out when people talk about crime going up, but the numbers are definitely down. And if you go, “The numbers are down”, they go, “Ahh, but the fear of crime is rising.” Well, so f@cking what? Zombies are at an all-time low level, but the fear of zombies could be incredibly high. It doesn’t mean you have to have government policies to deal with the fear of zombies.
Dara O’Briain

True enough, and well put.

I think the contest has to be held on multiple fronts, some which will be direct confrontation, others that use the underhanded tools of light but brutal Ridicule and Social Devaluing, like the YES MEN have done so well. But also, and critically, in ways that invite the People to be invited to be People again, to come to the Park and have a meal and a game with the rest of your people. To be confident, welcome and unafraid. Depending on how that direct fighting goes, it will frequently, like the drones, like the high-level bombing from both sides in WWII, end up just engendering that much MORE destruction, and no particular improvement in our world.

I recall a story of an undercover FBI (?) agent who was embedded in some peace or environmentalist group, and he essentially defected and dropped out of the Security Community, saying he had never felt so supported and loved in his life. So sure, we kind of laugh at the Pollyanna Lovey Dovey stuff.. except that showing genuine trust, vulnerability and compassion has a level of power that can sneak invisibly into humans at every level and in every corner.

Ridiculing the Heart stuff is painfully effective, because we were carefully taught in places like Middle School that our hearts are weak and foolish, and are best hidden and forgotten. The thing is, we all still have our 'hearts', whatever it is, and everything we think and do goes through it.. Our hearts are actually strong and smart, just like 'Women' are strong and smart, despite countless cultural messages that long have fought hard to defy that idea, too. The Weakness and Foolishness is the layer(s) of fear and pain that have been stapled on top of our hearts, generally by someone else's heart that is similarly Stapled over with Resentment and Pain.

It will ONLY be by gradually removing those layers that we will ultimately get out of this cultural mess. (And start to be able to see the alternative to the High Energy western lifestyle) That the Pain and Fear are real and essential are at the core of the flawed system that plays to our Fighting, our Defensiveness, Vengefulness, our obsession with Wealth as a source of security.

".. deviants who communicate through the arts such as music dance and poetry! " This is more than just entertainment, as I say here regularly.. and why I lean on the Picasso line as often as I do.

"Art is the Lie that Enables us to see the Truth."

that's truly inspiring! Thanks!!


Reminds me of Lester Milbrath's Transforming the dominator society in his book Envisioning a Sustainable Society.

After doing much study about why societies/governments/empires collapse, I really don't worry all that much about what our various alphabet soup security agencies are doing. Yes, this stuff pisses me off and I would love to see it stopped, but in the end these people will be caught up by the same forces as everyone else. While they will make some others miserable for a time, their efforts are doomed to fail and will not preserve the institutions they are beholden to for their place of privilege in society.

The best approach is to limit one's use of the systems they are monitoring and ignore them as best as one can. There are so many more important things to work on. I guess you have to decide if trying to preserve the edifices of the society we had is a worthwhile effort. To me there are parts of the system we had worth preserving, but many of them have by now been completely corrupted anyway, and I cannot see putting much effort into a futile effort to fix something that will collapse anyway.

EDIT: Another way to look at it is that the function of this security apparatus is to protect the system that it feeds on, but the biggest threat to that system is not the small number actively trying to destroy it. The big threat is the oblivious millions trying to use that system that simply fails to function properly. A growing percentage of that population is employed doing things that are no longer of net benefit to the society, especially things like security personanel. Perversely, that weight of the security apparatus itself will help to drag it down.

I agree with both of you-- a educated and organized proletariat are needed.
And obviously guns are of little use against the 101st Airborne, or any direct confrontation with a modern state.
However, this will probably be (and is) more asymmetrical, and they are part of the equation.

The gun issue is one where urban and rural America talk past each other. I see little chance that the two sides will agree on what I consider the fundamental problem -- the rules need to be different for urban and rural environments. Discharging a powerful handgun in any part of Boulder is enormously more dangerous to property and bystanders than it is almost anywhere in Wyoming. I'll note that the people who lived here 130 years ago solved the problem rather simply: every farm and ranch hand owned a gun, many of them carried a gun most of the time they were working, for perfectly good reasons, and... they checked them when they entered town. Different circumstances, different rules.

I think rural America has a lot of reasons to be worried about the future, but for the most part they're worrying about the wrong things. IMO, rural America today is facing the largest existential threat they've faced since the 1930s. In many ways it's the same threat they faced then: they are in serious danger of falling into permanent second-class status relative to the urban/suburban areas. If I lived in rural Colorado, my fear wouldn't be that the Front Range is going to take my guns away. No, what I would be absolutely terrified of is that the Front Range will stop subsidizing my schools, roads, and social services (which they do at the state level), the foundation of my economy (eg, a variety of federal support programs), and my electricity and telecommunications services (through both state and federal programs).

Interesting comment. Thank you.


I've lived in the boondocks for a long, long, long time. I think you'd find that most of we old-timers would be quite happy if the government in its various forms went away. The one exception would be fire protection from major fires (many areas where I live have established their own little groups just in case).

It is the newer "city people" who want services and can't believe that people got along just fine in the old days of horses and no power. Yes, life was harder but still rewarding. And, given the state of the world today were they quite self-sufficient and had minimal energy needs.

An interesting note about education: In the early 1950s, the teachers at the one room schools still actually lived at the school
where they taught because the schools were in the middle of nowhere.

As an aside, someone up-thread mentioned that guns are a normal part of rural life. One story I like to tell city people is one time I was in my office and I saw a ground squirrel outside. They cause a lot of problems so I slowly opened the sliding glass door, picked up my 12 gauge and blasted it from inside my office.


Edit - I was thinking about what long, long, long meant. A quick calculation and it's - 12 years rural, 22 years suburban and 40 years in the boondocks. Interestingly, it was in that order.

It is indeed a rural v. urban crosstalk issue. The urban areas need less guns. You don't need them there and they are largely involved in homicides not hunting. The rural areas have a use for guns (although most of it is just recreational). But the way things stand right now, I have to side with the urban people because all they are asking for right now is a few little regulations wherein rural people will still have their guns. Closing the gun-show loophole that allows felons, crazy-people, and wife-beaters to easily buy guns does not at all prevent a sane law-abiding person from buying a gun. The pro-gun has paranoid conspiracy theory mentality about 'them comin to take ma gunz!' that has prevented even common sense things like preventing selling guns to people on the no-fly-terrorism watch-list, preventing putting chemical taggants into explosives, and preventing closing the gun show loophole.

I also think the rural people are in denial about how much harm guns do to them. Just google 'gun accident' every week to learn about kids themselves, their parents, or friends every week. And large numbers of suicides happen all the time because of easy access to guns.

Your last paragraph reminds me of this article from 2005. It's about the high rate of suicide in rural areas.

Death by gunfire is typically thought of as an urban plague, fueled by crime, poverty and drugs.

But rural America also has such an affliction. "Americans in small towns and rural areas are just as likely to die from gunfire as Americans in major cities," said Charles Branas, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "The difference is in who does the shooting."


One of the best Straw Man posts I've seen in a long time! Keep up the good work!

And, Leanan, at least guns do it quick. One neighbor's son hung himself as did the son of someone I know who hung himself in a county jail.


Hung he may have been: hanged he definitely was.

It's not always quick.

There's a local guy around here who always looks like he's robbing a bank in an old western. He has a bandanna over the lower half of his face. He tried to commit suicide by shooting himself, and failed. He just shot the lower half of his face off. It's been a couple of decades now, and he's a pretty happy guy these days, with no desire to kill himself.

That seems to be the case with most people who attempt suicide. It's a temporary thing, and once the crisis passes, they are glad they're not dead. And it can be amazingly easy to dissuade would-be suicides. Something as small as finding the bridge they wanted to jump off of is closed to pedestrians can prevent them.

I am in favor of physician-assisted suicide. If someone really wants to die, and it's not just a passing crisis, then by all means, no need to stick around. But for the vast majority, it's a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

The NYT has published a whole series of articles about suicide. The suicide rate in NYC is very low, and that is largely because of the strict gun laws. Can you still get guns? Of course. Can you do something else, like jump off a building or in front of a train? Sure. But apparently, a lot of people are dissuaded just by not having a gun around at their low points.

They also note the suicide rate has dropped for most demographic groups...except middle-aged males. Apparently because they have been hard-hit by the recession. They've also had articles about economically-driven spikes in the suicide rate in other countries, from the former Soviet Union to today's European countries facing "austerity." Economic distress is a huge factor.

I think clinical depression is frequently present, often in conjunction with some other crisis.

Battery maker Exide files for Chapter 11

Exide Technologies, which makes lead-acid batteries, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying rising production costs, intense competition and the economic downturn in Europe had led to liquidity constraints.

... In 2010, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, one of Exide's then major customers, chose Exide's principal rival Johnson Controls Inc. as its sole supplier of transportation batteries and stopped carrying Exide's products.

... Operations in Europe, which is experiencing a prolonged economic downturn, accounted for about 51.2 percent of the company's worldwide revenue.

Another sign of Peak Cars and their inevitable decline to go with the 27% drop in car sales in Europe. Only the US is stupid enough to keep buying pickup trucks and SUVs boosted by subprime Auto loans.

Careful with your confirmation bias. The article points out that competition has been its problem. And US cars sales are up. Even more so in China.

Sea of Japan methane hydrate survey kicks off

The government Saturday started its first full-fledged investigation to assess the size of methane hydrate reserves in the Sea of Japan.

... After narrowing down areas that appear to be promising, the government plans to conduct drilling for methane hydrate in fiscal 2014 from next April. It also intends to survey waters off Akita and Yamagata prefectures as well as areas around Hokkaido in fiscal 2014 and 2015, agency sources said.

(also) ... Plans are afoot to build a 500-kw geothermal power plant on Okushiri Island off southwest Hokkaido that could start operations as early as fiscal 2016, sources in the central and local governments said. The power station’s output would cover up to 25 percent of Okushiri’s consumption of power, which is currently generated by burning fuel oil.

Although the energy development organization found the proposal unprofitable after drawing roughly 200-degree steam from the two wells at a depth of around 1,600 meters, the local government and business will conduct a new survey of the wells ...

Although the energy development organization found the proposal unprofitable

Desperation over-riding EROI?

Just returned from a week's stay in Budapest where austerity measures are in full swing . Having lived there for the period 1993 to 2008(15 years) continuously and in the last 4 years visiting sporadically I observed what is happening to the society there . Some observations on what I think is a slow collapse:

1. The "For sale" and "For rent " boards are astounding .Up by minimum 50% since 2011 . There are
complete streets with such boards .The same is true for industrial buildings,warehouses etc .
2. Property prices are down by 40-50% and still no activity . Rents down from € 6 per sq/m in 2008 to
€ 2.50 but no takers .
3. Credit has dried up .No new construction and as a result all masons,bricklayers etc have left to
work in West Europe . In the period 2008- 2012 about 400000 to maybe 500000 young people have left
Hungary .If you go out in the villages all you will see are pensioners and old people .
4. In 2008 the restaurants offered the daily special only during lunch . For dinner you had to order
from the menu .Now the daily special is available 24/7 . Prices in the food joints are the same
as in 2008 while they are up by 20 % at the food stores(Aldi etc).
5. The small corner grocery stores did not accept credit cards in 2008 now almost all do .Shortage
of cash customers.
6. The number of Chinese and Hungarian fast food joints is up from 500 in 2008 to 1500 in 2013 . A
friend of mine who runs a sit down restaurant says that all those who lost jobs opened a fast
food joint or a bar .The cheapest , least capital intensive business to get some income stream .
7. The number of car dealers who have closed shop is astounding .Safely to say about 40% down since
2008 .
8. There is an uptick in the aftermarket/replacement parts sales in auto parts .
9. The only places showing consumer traffic were the food discounters(Aldi,Lidl),One Euro shops and
second hand clothing stores(these were almost dying in 2008).
10.The tax rates are the highest in Europe ( 27% VAT and about 40% withholding tax). Having no more
room the Budapest city is hiking property taxes . Considering the high vacancy rates the number
of late payers has increased . Building owners keep lowering rents to get renters so at least
they don't have to pay the tax from out of pocket
11 In the inner districts buildings are crumbling .
12 Most of the small businesses are holding on by the teeth and hoping for "something" to turn the
ship around .When I tell them about the POD(thks Rockman)their jaw drops . No one wants to
believe that the party is over .
For a newcomer/tourist all is normal but to me it reminded of the first step down on the
road to Greer's catabolic collapse theory. Further my earlier view was that collapse would be
"off the cliff" but seeing the situation in Budapest I think there is a lot of space to cushion
this . For example : In 2008 people went to the sit down restaurants now they go to the fast food
joints where you can get a big slice of Pizza and a coke for € 3.50 . Fills your stomach and your
carbohydrate calorie count .One can have a plate of Chinese chicken and rice for as low as
€ 2.00 to whet your appetite .
I think a fast collapse is still possible with a black swan event (war in the middle east,
blowup of the bond market etc) but now more inclined to the catabolic collapse theory.

"8. There is an uptick in the aftermarket/replacement parts sales in auto parts ."

As a business idea I have been thinking about selling new equipment, do repairs and sell spare parts. Either business is good and i could sell brand new or the old equipment wear out and need repairs and spare parts.

Unfortunately I do not sell or repair cars, they always need a constant stream of spare parts. I am an engineer computer/electronics and can't figure a way to implement my business idea in this area. I have a friend with lower education who sell rubber parts and do well, tires always wear out regardless if the car is almost new or old.

12. Most of the small businesses are holding on by the teeth and hoping for "something" to turn the ship around. When I tell them about the POD(thks Rockman)their jaw drops . No one wants to believe that the party is over.

Thanks for the in depth view of austerity in Turkey. No. 12 about sizes it up, hoping for a turnaround, not wanting to believe the party is over.

Moving from a society in which many could afford to dine at nice restaurants to most having to choose cheap fast food is an unfortunate sign of the situation. Also sounds like a bit like Cuba, repairing old vehicles instead of buying new.

I agree with the view of catabolic collapse up to the point of all out revolutions and food riots by tens of thousands in which collapse will speed up.

I think he is referring to Budapest, Hungary.

Hungary, not Turkey, oops.

Yeah, I was about to get very upset with you! >;-)
Though I'll be willing to bet that things are not any better in Turkey either.


Meanwhile just up the road in Austria unemployment is low and Vienna is full of construction sites....

Meanwhile just down the road in Greece the public broadcasting corporation was shut down today. It was announced today and it happened today. (Unlike in the US European public broadcasting corporations are very important institutions.)

This is just more of the privatization and cannibalization of all public institutions and resources for the Hedge Fund plutocrats and Corporate oligopoly.

This really has nothing to do with any reasonable response to limited resources which would mandate MORE public shared institutions and resources not less.

There was a very intriguing article on Counterpunch on rationing in response to Peak Oil/Everything which is inevitable in some fashion whether it is based on price, allowing only the wealthy to enjoy what is left of limited resources or a more egalitarian scheme:


June 11, 2013

Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World
Ration Consumption or Ration Production?

Stan Cox got quite a few folks a bit hot and bothered when his book Losing Our Cool critiqued air conditioning during the middle of the 2010 heat wave. Now, in the middle of massive joblessness and economic downturn, his new book, Any Way You Slice It: The Past, Present and Future of Rationing (The New Press, May, 2013), is based on the assumption that humanity needs to massively reduce consumption if it is to have any chance of surviving.

What is interesting is that Counterpunch is publishing this sort of article when for years Alexander Cockburn and old orthodox leftists were claiming Peak Oil was just a Corporate conspiracy to up prices and install nuclear power plants and there was no problem with shortages just the rich grabbing all the resources...

They did this in a "cut where it hurts" manner. Purpose beeing to demonstrate that the mandated austerity is more than they can carry. It seems to be working, given the debate that followed in the EU parliament.

Vienna is full of construction sites....

Yeah Austria, Germany and probably most of Scandinavia are going to take a little longer to feel the brunt of real austerity but there is no way they won't go through some economic contraction in the not too distant future.
What's happening in Europe is sort of like the onset of hypothermia, the extremities tend to lose circulation first and frostbite sets in. It takes a while for the core to lose all it's heat. Germany seems to be the heart of the economic core. While gangrene is already setting in, in the big toe, which is Greece, the heart is still pumping. Question is for how long?

Dust Bowlification on the rise ...

Amount of Dust Blown Across the West Is Increasing, Study Finds

Based on anecdotal evidence, such as incidents of dust coating the snowpack in the southern Rockies and a seemingly greater number of dust storms noticed by Western residents, scientists have suspected that dust emissions were increasing. But because dust has not been routinely measured over long periods of time, it was difficult to say for sure.

For the new study, recently published online in the journal Aeolian Research, the research team set out to determine if they could use calcium deposition as a proxy for dust measurements.

Brahney and her colleagues reviewed calcium deposition data from 175 NADP sites across the United States between 1994 and 2010, and they found that calcium deposition had increased at 116 of them. The sites with the greatest increases were clustered in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Intermountain West, with Colorado, Wyoming and Utah seeing especially large increases.

The increase in dust erosion matters, the researchers said, because it can impoverish the soil in the areas where dust is being lost. Wind tends to pick up the finer particles in the soils, and those are the same particles that have the most nutrients and can hold onto the most soil moisture, Brahney said.

ZSW engineers build lithium-ion battery able to last for 27 years

Officials at Germany's Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg, (ZSW) have issued a press release describing improvements they've made to lithium-ion batteries. They claim their improvements allow a single battery to be recharged up to 10,000 times while still retaining 85 percent of its charging capacity. Such a battery, if used in an electric car, they note, would allow its owner to recharge the battery every day for 27.4 years.

The newly redesigned batteries have approximately four times the density of current batteries (1,100 Watts per kilogram) and have been designed for use in storing power created by wind and solar farms and also in automotive vehicles.

I sure would like to have such batteries in our solar/wind battery bank!!!

"The newly redesigned batteries have approximately four times the density of current batteries (1,100 Watts per kilogram)...."

What does this mean? Power density? Maybe an energy density of 1,100 Wh/kg?

Four times the density of current batteries would make them 4 times heavier for the same volume which would be nothing to brag about.

Wiki indicates a 18650 battery format is cylindrical measuring 18.6 mm diameter and 65.2 mm high and typically has a capacity between 2200 and 3400 mAh making it a little larger than an AA battery.

Specifications of Panasonic NCR18650A Li-ion battery:

Nominal Voltage: 3.6 V
Nominal Capacity typical: 3,100 mAh
Weight: 45.5 g

Energy density is ((3.6 V * 3.1 Ah)/45.5 g) * 1000 g/kg = 245 Wh/kg.

Maybe the ZSW battery has a nominal voltage of 3.6 V and a capacity between 8.8 Ah and 13.6 Ah.

From the ZSW press release linked in the article:

for example the cells have a power density of 1,100 watts per kilogram, which is also at an international level. The power density quantifies the available power per weight.
In a next stage the researchers and engineers at ZSW want to develop electrodes for large prismatic lithium cells together with partners from industry. “It’s essential to master the currently demonstrated cell technology before going on to produce large cells,” explains Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens.

I read that to mean you can draw 1.1 kW from a kg of battery. Gives an idea of the acceleration you could expect if fitted in an electric car. But storage in Amp-hours is not given.

Ok, but without a specified discharge time, a power density does not mean anything in a battery. Is it 1.1 kW/kg for 1 second, 10 seconds or some other period?

From the ZSW news release on May 22, 2013:

After 10,000 complete charging and discharging cycles with a complete charge and discharge cycle per hour (2 C), our lithium batteries still have more than 85 % of the initial capacity,

If a complete discharge yields 2 C (Coulombs) in 30 minutes, then it was discharged at an average of 1.1 mA. This is much too low for a 18650 battery (the Panasonic NCR18650A battery would yield 11,160 C discharging for an hour), so they were testing their battery chemistry in some other form. A higher rate of discharge might shorten the battery lifetime.

1C is the charge/discharge rate at capacity rating. So 2C rate would be a complete discharge/charge each hour. Fastest economical rates I like to see for Lead Acid (LA) is C/10. ie. 10Amps for each 100Ah but rarely more than 50% discharge. Puekert capacity effect is for LA. Amp/hr reduction at high discharge rates is not as pronounced for Li. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peukert's_law

Thanks for the correction.

World has 10 years of shale oil, reports US

Global shale resources are vast enough to cover more than a decade of oil consumption, according to the first-ever US assessment of reserves from Russia to Argentina.

The US Department of Energy estimated “technically recoverable” shale oil resources of 345bn barrels in 42 countries it surveyed, or 10 per cent of global crude supplies. The department had previously only provided an estimate for US shale reserves, which it on Monday increased from 32bn barrels to 58bn.

My son is four years old, it will last almost until he is done with primary school. If he do high school or maybe a university what should he do then?

I have railway nearby which where in use before the oil age and still is, it will probably continue to be used then the oil age end.

To put things in perspective, we also have 5000 million years of Sun left but can only get so much sunlight in a day.

Kicking the can, 10 years at a time.

Thanks to the exponential function, ten years of oil is only lasting five years these days.

When they say things like "enough oil for 10 years" they mean if all of the oil wells were suddenly to appear, and to pump uniformly for 10 years, the amount extractable would equal all of the use for those 10 years. What is not said is that it is "additional" oil, that use may increase or decrease over time, lengthening or shortening the time needed to use all of it, and that it will be done gradually, over many years, in conjunction with existing conventional wells, oil sands, heavy oil and the like.

Bottom line is that, if we can afford the wells and transportation, we can extend the plateau for about 10 years, more or less (probably less). At which time things get interesting.

Be glad we have another ten years (albeit at a price); use those years wisely. Prepare for necessity, for it is not random chance we are talking about here; nor is the eventuality avoidable. For my own part, my plans are for about 5 years, and hopefully 8, to secure a sustainable place for myself and my family.

Meanwhile, as I said, enjoy the moment! These ARE the "good old days!"


I don't see why this is heralded as good news. Ten years is not much time. Seems to me this should push the point that we need to face the coming shortages sooner rather than later; but then "technology will save us"!

There's also the question of rate.

How fast can you get it out of the ground, how long does it take to scale the number of drilling rigs/crews, how fast does technology develop relative to the reduction in prospect quality?

And, of course, just how deep are your pockets to pay for it?

Well, if we use that decade to prepare? In at least a few ways we are. We are in the early days of electric or electric assist vehicles. And the automakers are pushing research and development ways ways to up the efficiency. A few people are moving closer to work/transport. We're clearly not doing this at the proper scale, but at least we are doing it.

Electric vehicles are as old as the ICE automobile. 100 years is not early days by any stretch.

That's a willful distortion, Twilight, and is really disappointing to hear you keep bringing forth this level of argument.

'Natural Foods' are hardly new, either, but the fact that a nation has been eating Spaghetti-O's and their ilk for some three generations now means that the reintroduction of them again in recent years qualifies as 'Early Days'. Their role is part of an active transition.

It's hardly a stretch to use that on Electric Cars, since 'practically noone' has had a Regular Car that runs on Electricity in living memory. They are completely novel on the Roads today, and yet are the only powered vehicles out there that aren't putting toxic fumes into your lungs.

Very few of the electric vehicles out there now can be said to not be putting toxic fumes into our lungs.

Electric vehicle development began at the dawn of the automobile age, and through all this time the relative difference between the two has not improved in the EVs favor. There most certainly has been a lot of development in terms of motors, controllers and batteries even if not for an on-road EV. The issues with the EV are still the same ones, having to do with range and charge time, because they are inherent in the concept of transferring electrical energy into a portable media. That does not mean the ICE is still viable, but it doesn't automatically mean an electric automobile transportation system will be viable either.

Since any electric vehicle could plug into a clean sources like PV Hydro or Wind, then it is only reasonable to distinguish between the end unit's clean functioning, as opposed to the problems with legacy power sources.

To oppose 'Clean EVs' on those grounds is playing with yet another convenient but unnecessary obstacle, when solutions for the grid's pollution problems ALSO have proven alternatives (for vast improvements, not necessarily 'absolute' conclusions) waiting in the wings. As that goes, the EV itself, in operation is producing no pollution. That is a HUGE step forward in reducing air contaminants, especially because it DOES have opportunities to clean up the rest, so to wave it off like that seems very petty to me.

Telling us that we've had EV's since the 1890s is like a PV objector reminding us about nighttime. As a part of the Automonbile market, we are once again, in early days as they give it another go. It's not just the development of the technology that determines its earliness, but ultimately the adoption of this technology by the public.

But enough.. it's really a waste of my energy to think there's a need to explain such things. There's actually work to do.

Also, with EVs - even while they are using those legacy power sources in the meantime, you will have taken the number of tailpipes from the 100's of millions down into the thousands, and regulating several thousand "tailpipes" should be more manageable than 254,000,000ish.

The big benefit here is really in the cities where a high density of cars can affect the air - get the pollution and their attendant noise out of the city and you've got a more pleasant place to be, and also in areas that are prone to stagnation during inversion...valleys, "bowls," etc.

The big benefit here is really in the cities where a high density of cars can affect the air - get the pollution and their attendant noise out of the city and you've got a more pleasant place to be, and also in areas that are prone to stagnation during inversion...valleys, "bowls," etc.

Indeed. And this is why the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been pushing for ultra-low emission and zero emission vehicles. The Geography of California creates many of these 'bowls' the fill up with smog and doesn't blow away at various times of the year. Look up articles on the worst polluted cities in the USA and you'll see more than half of them are in California. And that is despite having smog checks for cars and special gasoline mixtures.

So the push for EVs by many is simply for the zero local emission aspect. And that is a nice aspect. But for me, that is down the list behind things like peak oil, trade deficit, CO2, not sending money to countries that don't like us, being self-sufficient with PV, etc.

This is an example of the "invisible hand of the market" in action.

These are resources - technically but not economically recoverable. And also quite speculative - because most of these formations have never been drilled using this technology.

Only a fraction of the resources can be turned into reserves (produced economically) - like 1% to 10% so this is maybe another 1% addition to global supplies or a fraction of that.

Bakken Resources Inc had a resource report (now taken down) written by Geologist David Boleneus that estimated each 640 acre section contained 12 million barrels of oil in place (contingent resources), but that models of recovery estimated only 480k barrels were recoverable with a 12 stage fracture (proven reserves).

345 billion barrels / 76 Mb/d of C+C = 12.4 years. It lasts 10 years using the production from liquid fuels which includes biofuels and refinery gain.

345 billion barrels of technically recoverable crude oil plus condensate from tight shale reservoirs means the DOE is not considering the cost of getting water to the fraced wells nor the cost of transporting the oil to market.

With the increase in the estimate of technically extractable shale oil to 58 billion barrels, the U.S. is heading for an ultimately recoverable resource (URR) of 300 billion barrels of C+C.

Another thing to consider here is that when we start having to rely on foreign fracked shale oil, that will mean another step up in prices. Right now the current shale oil we use is not too expensive because it right here . . . just a pipeline or train-trip away from a refinery. But when you are relying on fracked oil from Russia, it has to be extracted, then shipped to the coast, and then shipped across the ocean.

Its actually useful that they reported it in years.
At least the general public can understand just how short 10 years actually is.
(unlike QBTU/MMbd/TCF etc)

If there was corn huge crop, it could cause a temporary downturn in corn/farmland prices. Not quite sure how this plays out but it amazes me that could pen an article like this without mentioning the main driving force behind all of this -> ethanol.

US Farmland Appears Dangerously Overpriced, Analysts Say, And Small Community Banks Could Suffer In Any Abrupt Downturn

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said last month that its survey of 219 bankers revealed that the price of farmland in its area, which includes Wisconsin, Michigan and northern Indiana and Illinois plus nearly all of Iowa, jumped 15 percent in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier.

Haven't read Automatic Earth for a long time, is Nicole Foss still calling for a deflation ? And how's the whole inflation/deflation debate going on. Unfortunately I don't see any deflation on the horizon.

Deflation is caused by debt being paid back and/or defaulted. The reason there's no deflation at the moment is that governments are borrowing like crazy, taking up the slack from reduced consumer borrowing.

I think most realistic analyses of the economy agree that there is strong deflationary pressure. It is hidden, for the most part (mostly visible in the real wages earned by most of us) by the efforts of the Fed to monetize the US National Debt.

As soon as the "fresh water" bunch gains power, QE will end, and you will hear demands for 'austerity' in the US. Without going into a diatribe about the differences between salties and freshies (both are nuts, IMO). I personally feel that raging inflation would be a nicer way to go. Either way it will eventually end badly. To me, it is more difficult every day to avoid becoming a doomer.


edit: add that fitzlc has a comment above that is well stated and apropos to this string as well.

Depends where you are located . In Hungary as per my earlier thread,deflation is in force and it is not pretty .

Power from solar nears amount lost from San Onofre

California is the largest producer of solar power in the nation. The statewide electric demand on Friday was about 36,000 megawatts, and solar power met more than 5 percent of the demand for electricity, the agency said.

Best hopes for more solar electricity in California and other states.

Seems true.

Current Solar power to CAISO is approx 2.0GW to 2.1GW ( scroll to bottom of page http://www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html )

My system design has 24 PV panels rated at 250W each for a total of 6000 watts. But they are going to drive Enphase M215 Watt converters for maximum of 24* 215 = 5160 watts. That should put out more power than my house and my EV use. And I'm building it in a way wherein I can easily add another 9 panels or so.

That was five percent during peak solar hours. Look at total energy over 24hours and it will be less. Friday was also the first day of the two day heatwave, so demand was several GW above normal.

Yes utility scale solar plants nameplate is about the same as the now defunct SONGS. But when it was still operating SONGS was generating nearly 24/7. We would need to get close to 10GW to replace the amount of energy in a day from SONGS.

There should be plenty of spare capacity during off-peak hours to replace SONGS. CAISO shows that wind power averaged about 1.3 GW today with a characteristic that complemented the solar power fairly well.

Is A Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring In The Arctic?

"Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures - as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years," Miller said. "As heat from Earth's surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic's carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming."

... NASA's Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) science team is busy analyzing data from its first full year of science flights. What they're finding, Miller said, is both amazing and potentially troubling.

"Some of the methane and carbon dioxide concentrations we've measured have been large, and we're seeing very different patterns from what models suggest," Miller said. "We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher-than-normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze. To cite another example, in July 2012 we saw methane levels over swamps in the Innoko Wilderness that were 650 parts per billion higher than normal background levels. That's similar to what you might find in a large city."

Reds and yellows represent the highest concentrations of methane, and blues the lowest. The methane is released from the topsoil as it thaws.

Man, are we gonna regret messing with the arctic.

Mayor to Discuss Prepping NYC for Warming World

The projections paint an unsettling picture of New York's future: a city where by the 2050s, 800,000 people could be living in a flood zone that would cover a quarter of the land, with temperatures steadily rising.

The average day could be 4 degrees to nearly 7 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to nearly 4 degrees Celsius) hotter by mid-century, the panel estimates in data Pinsky and Holloway discussed Monday. A once-in-a-century storm would likely spur a surge 5 feet (1.5 meters) or more higher than did Sandy, which sent a record 14-foot (4.2-meter) storm tide gushing into lower Manhattan.

And with local waters a foot to 2.5 feet (0.76 meters) higher than they are today, 8 percent of the city's coastline could see flooding just from high tides, the group estimates. Most of that coast is in a relatively undeveloped area near a bay.

The new projections echo 2009 estimates from the climate change panel, but the timeframe for some upper-end possibilities has moved up from the 2080s to mid-century.

"The overall numbers are similar, but we have more compelling evidence now that (a more severe scenario from 2009) is looking like a more realistic possibility now," due to improved computer models and more evidence that some ice sheets are melting, said Radley Horton, a climate scientist with Columbia University's Earth Institute and a researcher with the city climate panel.

In 2009, PlaNYC projected that sea levels would rise by two to five inches by the 2020s. Now, the panel estimates that the sea levels will rise four to eight inches by that time, with a high-end figure of 11 inches. Between 1900 and 2013, sea levels in New York City rose about a foot, administration officials said.

“It will NOT take another 100 years to get another foot,” said Caswell F. Holloway IV, a deputy mayor. Graphic

... Welcome to the Age of Consequences

Report: PlaNYC Progress Report 2013 (28MB pdf)




Fukushima Accident Raised Levels of Radioactive Strontium off the East Coast of Japan By Up To 100X

This study measures the concentrations of the main strontium radioisotopes (90Sr and 89Sr) released into the sea over the three months following the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The samples analysed show the impact of the direct release of radioactive materials into the Pacific Ocean, and indicate that the amount of strontium-90 discharged into the sea during those three months was between 90 and 900 Tbq (terabecquerels), raising levels by up to two orders of magnitude. The highest concentrations were found to the north of the Kuroshio current ...

The concentrations found were up to 85 Bq·m-3 (becquerels per cubic metre) for strontium 90 and 265 Bq·m-3 for strontium 89. These findings point to an increase of up to two orders of magnitude – a hundredfold- in concentrations of strontium-90 in the sea, with respect to the background values for this part of the Pacific before the Fukushima accident, which were 1.2 Bq·m-3.

... "Since June 2011 there have been further large discharges of strontium from Fukushima

Strontium's chemical behaviour is similar to that of calcium, and it can accumulate in organisms, especially in bone.

Climate Change Raises Stakes on US Ethanol Policy

If the climate continues to evolve as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United States stands little to no chance of satisfying its current biofuel goals, according to a new study by Rice University and the University of California at Davis.

The study published online in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology suggests that in 40 years, a hotter planet would cut the yield of corn grown for ethanol in the U.S. by an average of 7 percent while increasing the amount of irrigation necessary by 9 percent.

... The production of one liter of gasoline requires three liters of water, according to the researchers. The production of one liter of corn ethanol requires between 350 and 1,400 liters of water from irrigation, depending on location. A liter of ethanol also translates into 1,600 liters of evapotranspiration (ET) water that might not directly replenish the local watershed suggesting the amount of water required to bring biofuels to market may be prohibitive; they calculated it takes 50 gallons of water to grow enough Nebraska corn to produce the amount of ethanol needed to drive one mile.

Earth may have more oil than anyone thought

There could be a lot more oil and gas out there than we thought. But it's going to cost a whole lot to extract it.

I know where we can get more methane than we would know what to do with. It is gonna be pretty expensive though since it is one Jupiter.

The energy it would take to move a molecule of methane out of Jupiters gravity well is many times more than you could get by burning it!

"Ethanol lobby sees red over a yellow gas hose in Kansas"

So this guy could have bought a yellow hose as requested, or stop selling E15 and contact the media and say Phillips 66 made him stop selling E15. I suspect his E15 sales weren't exactly robust, and he was looking for a scapegoat. Otherwise, how much could a yellow hose have possibly cost him?

I think the problem, not made clear in the article, is that most gas stations, including Scott Zaremba's, use one pump to offer the different blends. Just like you can pick regular, super, or premium at your average gas pump.

Here's a photo of Mr. Zaremba's gas pump:

It would be impossible to offer E15 from a yellow hose without either building a new pump or making one pump E15-only.

"Minimum Fueling Volume 4 Gallons Dispensing Less May Violate Federal Law"



But there's a problem: if you pump E15 into your car, about a third of a gallon remains in the fueling hose when you're done. If someone comes along, switches to E10, and buys a single gallon for their lawnmower, they'll get a third of a gallon of E15 and two-thirds of a gallon of E10. That comes to about 11.7% ethanol, and that might be enough to set your lawnmower on fire.

So the EPA produced a new rule: if you sell E15, you have to require your customers to buy at least four gallons of gas regardless of what blend they're buying.


I wondered about that. I figured there wouldn't be enough E15 left in the hose for it to be a problem, but I hadn't thought about motorcycles and lawnmowers.

Seems like it would be an bigger problem at stations like Mr. Zaremba's. He's offering flex-fuel options with even higher ethanol content, up to E85.