DrumBeat: April 29, 2007

Rebels Bomb Fuel Facilities in Sri Lanka

Tamil Tiger rebels bombed a fuel refinery and gasoline storage facility near the Sri Lankan capital early Sunday, and authorities cut power to the city, officials said. Hours later, the military pounded rebel positions in the north.

As climate shifts, so does definition of security

Growing concern surrounds a new national security threat, an insidious trend that could foster terrorism worldwide and draw our armed forces into messy regional conflicts in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

No, it isn't nuclear proliferation. Nor is it a new brand of religious fundamentalism.

It's global warming.

Carbon-Neutral Is Hip, but Is It Green?

“The worst of the carbon-offset programs resemble the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences back before the Reformation,” said Denis Hayes, the president of the Bullitt Foundation, an environmental grant-making group. “Instead of reducing their carbon footprints, people take private jets and stretch limos, and then think they can buy an indulgence to forgive their sins.”

“This whole game is badly in need of a modern Martin Luther,” Mr. Hayes added.

At Milepost 1 on the Hydrogen Highway

ANY discussion of a future generation of hydrogen cars inevitably leads to the same question: Where will I fill the tank?

EPA Proposal Allows Massive Pollution Increases - New Rule Defies Unanimous Supreme Court Decision

The Environmental Protection Agency today issued a supplemental rulemaking proposal that would allow coal-fired power plants across the country to increase their toxic emissions – thereby crippling a key provision of the Clean Air Act, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Specifically, the proposal would exempt coal-fired power plants from installing modern-day pollution controls when upgrading their facilities and increasing their annual pollution.

Get Congress to pave way for U.S. alternative fuel sites

Our country is facing a severe energy crisis. "Peak oil" was once considered a radical theory, but current research has given it a high degree of credibility. Some believe the peak already may have passed, while others think it will occur between 2005 and 2010. Not only are we running out of oil, we are running out of time.

Ford exec says April sales ‘terrible’ for industry - Hard time explaining’ why they’re so bad; GM starts incentive program

Pipas said the spillover from weaker housing to other areas of the economy and rising gas prices appear to be affecting consumers but added that many of these same factors were also present in March.

“I have a hard time explaining why April is so weak,” he said.

Is Saudi Arabia stealing Iraqi crude via the Iraq/Saudi pipeline?

I recently became interested in the theory that the Iraqi Saudi pipeline (IPSA) was being used by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to pipe Iraqi crude to the KSA to be sold as Arabian light crude.

Go west in the great Canada oil rush of '07

Canada has launched a campaign to attract 100,000 new citizens in an appeal reminiscent of the great colonial migrations of the middle of the 20th century.

World climate panel in Bangkok to recommend nuclear energy

The United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which gathers in Bangkok this week is expected to throw its weight behind nuclear energy as a means of mitigating global warming, media reports said Sunday.

The Honeymoon's Over for Bush and the Saudis

What has happened to the love affair between Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and President Bush? Two years ago, down on the Texas ranch, they were photographed walking hand in hand. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship: Bush dropped his demand for democratization in the puritanical kingdom, and Abdullah did his best to moderate oil prices. The dowry was a new U.S. arms deal for the Saudis. A second honeymoon was scheduled for this month, when Bush planned to host Abdullah for his first state visit.

A Saudi Prince Tied to Bush Is Sounding Off-Key

Bush administration officials have been scratching their heads over steps taken by Prince Bandar’s uncle, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, that have surprised them by going against the American playbook, after receiving assurances to the contrary from Prince Bandar during secret trips he made to Washington.

Japan’s Abe arrives in Saudi at start of Mideast tour

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday on the first leg of a Middle East tour aimed at bolstering Japan’s presence in a region crucial for its energy needs.

Missiles, Oil, and Europe Re-Divided

Moscow is playing a game of "divide and rule" by exploiting Europe's dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies. As the EU's Russia policy is blocked by the Polish government's intransigence, Russia blithely continues to sign more bilateral treaties with individual EU member states, most recently with Greece and Bulgaria.

China dream a nightmare for climate change

At the age of 27, marketing executive Zack Chen is living the modern China dream. Holidays in Europe, modern appliances at home and a high-paying job with a foreign car company.

The problem for the world as it tries to tackle climate change is that more than one billion other Chinese want to be just like him.

Saudi Arabia confirms goal of boosting exports to Asia

In the past, we've noted Saudi Arabia and, more generally, OPEC's recent desire to capture market share in Asia rather than in the United States. Last year, Saudi Aramco boosted exports to China after lagging Angola as the number one exporter to the nation for the majority of the year. They regained their position as the top exporter to China last fall. Last week, Saudi Aramco's VP of Marketing and Supply described Asian demand as a "sleeping giant" ready to wake.

Aramco, Shell refinery hitch

Saudi Aramco and Shell have scaled back crude runs at their 305,000 barrels per day refinery in Jubail due to technical glitches, reported Reuters. The refinery, which focuses on the export market, had just resumed production following a month long routine maintenance break.

Talk of 4th nuclear reactor on Delaware River draws criticism

The last time the federal government considered how dangerous the Salem, N.J., nuclear complex could be, it came to this conclusion: In the unlikely case of a meltdown, 100,000 people in the region would die within one year, with 75,000 injuries and 40,000 later deaths to cancer.

Experts meet on U.N. report: warming can be slowed

After two gloomy United Nations reports on global warming, scientists and governments on Monday begin looking at how to fight climate change with green groups saying the time for bickering is over.

Uganda: Joining walking class due to diesel shortage

I left home on Monday morning, thinking that this week would be just like any other. I stopped at Engen in Bunga, only to be told there was no diesel. I passed by more than eight stations in Kansanga, Kabalagala, Nsambya and Kibuli only to be told the same “no diesel” story.

After Total in Kibuli, my car came to an abrupt halt, as it couldn't run on empty anymore. I abandoned it on the road and joined the walking class on my way to work.

A Tale of Two Crudes

One of the most unusual and interesting developments in the past two months has been the stark divergence in performance between two of the most common crude oil benchmarks in the world--WTI and Brent crude.

Gas reserves can last 3 centuries: Iranian official

Managing director of National Iranian Oil Company has predicted that Iran, which holds the world?s second largest known gas reserves, is able to exploit gas from its gas fields for the next three hundred years.

Chavez and Big Oil gear up for struggle over Venezuela's oil future

Forcing Big Oil to give up control of Venezuela's most promising oil fields this week will be relatively easy for President Hugo Chavez, but he will face a more delicate challenge in getting the world's top oil companies to stay and keep investing.

Chavez aims to meet left's energy needs

President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that Venezuela is ready to become the sole energy supplier to Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Haiti, presenting the countries with his most generous offer yet of oil-funded diplomacy in the region.

Preparing for 'peak oil'

The world has a big problem: It's running out of oil. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, the long-awaited "peak oil" crisis will certainly happen by 2040 - and may be happening right now.

Fortunately, President Bush has a strong energy plan in place that can be easily augmented to respond to concerns in both the oil industry and the global warming community.

"Ban the transport of Bulk/Bottled water"

In Iraq this was necessary in order to reduce the loss of fuel, money, and people.

What if America were to ban transporting bulk/bottled water and rely on tap water? How much saving in fuel would that give us?


Unfortunately, the town 10 miles away from me is on the verge of getting a bottled water plant. There has been nothing there since the sawmill shut down and people are desperate for jobs. I fear that in 20 years, bottled water will no longer be economically viable, but Nestle will still own the water rights, putting a damper on efforts to grow food intensively in the valley below town.

Some places in the grand ole US of A the city tap water is horrible. Old pipes is mainly the problem. I live in North Little Rock Arkansas. My parent's house has decent tap water, but a house I lived in about 8 years ago in the same city about 3 miles away had horrible tap water and I used bottled water to drink.

Putting a ban on bottled water shipments while on the one hand it looks okay as a fuel saver, looks bad as a people saver.

If you are talking about most third world countries the bottled water is safer than what you can get out of the tap if there is a tap to get it out of. If you want to save fuel ban soda pop shiments as well. Or candy, Or fast food. In the end tap water might not be the best drink for you anyway, it depends on your cities water pipe system. I have read reports where the pipes in the eastern seaboard cities are so bad that drinking tap water is considered a health risk.

Oh my god--are you going to ban beer shipments. We need something to console ourselves with in the cold and dark!

Relax.  Don't worry!  Have a homebrew.

-- With apologies to Charlie P.

HAHAHAHAHA! I've had some suprisingly good brews made with some really lousy water.

homebrewing is so easy...... a caveman can do it!
This is just one site , but there are plenty of sites dedicated to homebrewing. And its tasty!
Happy homebrewing!



You're right, homebrewing is easy. If you can make spagetti (and wash the dishes) you can brew beer.

That said, in a post peak world where beer is not readily available, so too are the ingredients that make hombrewing so easy hard to get.

So if you can't buy beer, you can't buy liquid malt extract and pellet hops. What to do?

Okay, growing hops is easy, they're a weed.

Then you have to grow barley. Tough enough. Next you have to malt. Not so easy. Kiln it if you want something other than a light ale. Mash it etc.

Also where are you going to get your yeast? if beer isn't available so isn't yeast. You have to learn to wash and propagate your yeast.

You can make beer, but its not easy (some would say the complexity of making beer led to civilization).
Cider, wine and mead are all much easier.

Case in point, colonial america. Beer was much to difficult and resourse intensive to make. Early American's drank cider and rum (from imported molases). Both are much easier than beer.

I've got 18 liters of wheat beer (wort) sitting on my stove with the immersion chiller. In about another 10 minutes it'll be cool enough to pitch the yeast.
I've also go 1.2 liters of cherry ale in me. It's a holiday here in Japan, the wife is at work, the sun is shining, and I'm living a sweet sweet moment in life.
Sometimes its almost enough to make you forget about peak oil :-)

You make whatever is ideal for your climate. In the UK that is beer from barley [malt]. Most of life on earth would have to go before there was a shortage of yeast. Of course natural or bread yeast will not make a high alcohol brew.

Homebrew is way more efficient than transporting finished beer [in winter anyway - the processing heat is not waste]since you are not transporting 95% water by road. Canned malt being concentrated. I could see homebrew being a practical luxury for ever. Obviously better if you can 'sparge your wort' from barley mash, but I can live with canned.

Incidentally, beer thrives much better in sulphur polluted air, which is one reason for all the historic good UK beer [and the hard water].

Fortunately, President Bush has a strong energy plan in place that can be easily augmented to respond to concerns in both the oil industry and the global warming community

But in the key areas of R&D and setting energy goals, the White House is leading the way

Let's examine the Bush administration's actions of the past several years. Mr. Bush dumbfounded his global warming critics in January when he announced a goal of producing 35 billion gallons of ethanol fuel in 2017, five times more than previous goal of 7.5 billion gallons in 2012. At the same time, he called for a 20 percent reduction in gas consumption by 2017

Yet he has refused to raise CAFE. Just H O W ? do we reduce consumption by 20% by 2017 ?

I have my plan for half of that:



On to JazzFest soon,

Happy JazzFest :-))


Yet he has refused to raise CAFE.

Likely Congress would throw a hissy-fit if any truly meaningful proposals were made to increase (by government requirement) mileage.

Just H O W ? do we reduce consumption by 20% by 2017 ?

Well now, that is the 4 million bpd question, isn't it? I wonder what gasoline would have to cost to make that 20% happen by demand destruction? I've also wondered for some time what would happen if gasoline was sold (at retail) by auction, as in eBay or one of its many copy-cats. Who would bid $5, who would bid $6? Are the gasoline stations leaving money on the table by having pre-determined prices? We have the technology to implement an auction system... I wonder if it will come about....

Yes, but there was pressure (except from Michigan elected officals) to raise CAFE by small "reasonable" amounts OR just move SUVs out of the "light truck" category and into the "automobile" category :-)

I think my suggestions can save 2+ million b/day and with the aid of higher oil prices even more.

Add sharply higher CAFE and we are almost there !

Best Hopes,


I think US business tax policy is also to blame. You get a 100% this year deduction for trucks /suv's with over 7600 gvw. Buy a fuel efficient one and you must deduct slowly. We nned to stop propping up detriot and favoring oil consumption via the tax system. This should be a no brainer...

The real no-brainer should be that it's way too late for any such changes to have any effect at all.

It would be as cruel as refusing a dying man his last cigarette. Once the poor sod is hooked up to 3 respirators, 2 heart-pumps and a dozen in-vitro tubes, his eyes haven't opened in a month and the morphine doses are at good-enough-to-put-down-an-elephant level, maybe you should just accept it's over. He has Japanese kidneys, his third heart from China and 6 Saudi pacemakers. What did you expect?

Start writing the obituary, and leave him that last cigarette and his last bit of dignity. Sure it's hard, and the women are wailing and all, but we all have to go one day. And even though he was a mean SOB, and many who knew him are more likely to party than to mourn him for even a second, he too did have his moments.

You are very funny :-)

Well, thank you.

But only on Sundays.

My point is serious enough, though: I posted two comments (1, 2) in yesterday's thread, both referring to the same article, that connected a few more dots. For me, at least, I don't think many people understand.

It's clear by now that the housing crisis will ravage the US economy, drag the Dow to new lows and leave millions desolate, unemployed and on the street. However, there always seems to be the hope of a recovery. As every economist knows, the economy moves in cyles of boom and bust, that sort of logic.

What I figured out yesterday is that recovery is impossible in the US for at least the entire next generation. The US loss of its manufacturing base has reached epic proportions in the past 10-20 years. This is justified by "experts" and politicians through the claim that we are moving towards a "knowledge-based economy".

Forget for a moment that there are enormous doubts whether such a thing could even exist, and stick with the numbers: the article states that it's become so expensive to get an education in the US, only 18% of kids finish college, let alone university.

So on our "march" towards that "knowledge-based economy", we are confronted with the fact that we are losing our knowledge base maybe as fast as we are losing our manufacturing base. Ergo: we will have neither a knowledge-based economy, for lack of a knowledge base, nor a manufacturing based economy, for lack of a manufacturing base.

What will we have then?

(I also evoked the Law of Receding Horizons: only an economy with a strong manufacturing base, i.e. a productive economy, is able to offer its children affordable education, which is essential for aquiring knowledge, step 1 towards a knowledge-based economy. In the process of moving from manufacturing to knowledge-based, the economy loses this ability. It is thus a self-defeating process, similar to tar sands, oil shale, ethanol et al)

From Drudge:

Flippers Flop As Housing Market Cools
Apr 29, 9:09 AM (ET)


Foreclosure filings across the United States rose 47 percent last month from a year ago to 149,150 - one for every 775 households, according to statistics from Realty Trac Inc., a foreclosure listing service.

And for the third straight month, Nevada's foreclosure rate led the nation when it rose 220 percent from a year earlier to 4,738 filings, or one in every 183 households.

In Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, one of every 30 homes began the process toward foreclosure last year.

I wonder what percentage of workers in Clark County (Las Vegas) live off the discretionary spending of other Americans, or work for the government?

It seems that housing starts are down, which is followed by completions, and then declining employment. However, this time it appears that employment is not falling like it should. However decreasing shipments of $ to latin america is now the economic indicator of declining employment by illegal aliens who don't get unemployment benefits.


If illegals are underemployed, and Cantarell is crashing what are the mexicans going to do? besides go north

Hi HeIsSoFly,

What will we have then?

I have trouble with the word, economy.

Edit from Merriam-Webster is this definition,

economy: noun:
careful management of material resources

Near Antonyms extravagance, improvidence, lavishness, prodigality, squandering

Antonyms wastefulness

From this it would seem that, What we will have then is Economy. (Just not so good as it used to was)

I too am serious. The commons has been destroyed by the beast with many names, corporatism, capitalism, globalism to give a few. It devours the worlds true wealth including its peoples and defecates dollars in return for the commons. The solid or base economies of markets that sustain have been displaced by hierarchal systems of amassing wealth.

I doubt that tinkering with a false economic sytem will do much good. Not with global warming here and global heating waiting in the wings.

Don't ask me for any realistic solution, I'm just here for the show and the popcorn.

BTW, enjoyed your dying man bit. Keep the punters awake, eh!

Lately I've been thinking of technology as knowledge applied to resources and exchange - a form of culture almost. So you cannot have technology or culture advanced to a different degree than the resources and exchange can support. Jevon's Paradox seems only to apply within a single congruent mix of those factors; it won't apply to dropping our use of fossil energy so much that technology, culture and exchange change to a different congruent state as well. Oil use would not increase, for example, if only the rich had horses and everyone else walked.

What I'm trying to figure out is whether or not the downslope of technology looks like the upslope or whether radically different mixes are possible. Can one have windmills and semi-conductors with a transport mode of horse-drawn wagons, bicycles and some rail? Will there be any high-speed rail or will trolleys be about the best we can do? We cannot have simply a knowledge based economy; someone has to make the donuts and toilets and they will have to be made locally. My head hurts.

cfm in Gray, ME

Today, the Chinese are making the toilets and most of everything else, yes, perhaps even the donut ingredients.

And lo and behold, we wouldn't have any economy left that would merit mentioning if we didn't borrow our money from them. That includes the money we need to educate at leeat the 18% of our kids that still DO get an education. Most of whom will end up as overseeing less-educated burger-flippers.

A knowledge-based economy, and even the very notion and idea of it, is a theoretical monstrosity that kills itself, in and of itself. To put it crudely: such an economy requires the presence of slaves, either domestically or abroad.

Apart from the knowledge based economy or manufacturing based economy, neither of which we will have, what else is there? I see two alternatives:

1/ an agricultural economy, 100 million farmers.

2/ a military economy, with all resources, natural and/or human, directed towards the same goal.

i have a dark feeling about that choice.

Just like the growth economy, the human brain works in one direction only. They are a perfect match.

such an economy requires the presence of slaves, either domestically or abroad.

i don't think it's the economy that requires slaves.
it's civilization it's self, and we were lucky enough to be born at a time where those slaves were replaced by machines run on fossil fuels.

TrueKaiser, I think you are right.

i don't think it's the economy that requires slaves.
it's civilization it's self

I remember some of the city born heads in the 60's deciding to go off to the country and be part of nature...they were back after 3 days, shaking. Yet that is where we all came from. I also read an article that talked of how the human mind adjusts to it's surroundings, viewing the familiar as beautiful even if not very nurturing.

We were lucky to be born now but It would have been nice to have been born wise as well. I've thought for a long time this morsel from an earlier age quite apt for ours:Give a peasant a horse(or a technical civilization) and he will ride it to death.

Looks like back to the fields for me. I would like this communication machine to be still around though. For the rest, I am finding, there is very little that I can not make grow or trade for within a days walk that I actually need. And a lot outside, that days walk, that I can do without.

Of course I just bought a wood stove manufactured in a small city/town under 50,000 (energy efficient of course)about two days walk from here and I imagine they did use a lot of imported fossil fuel in its construction, and I didn't walk there and pack it back myself,

Here is a scary article about how people react to the housing market.


"The day Schwartz reserved his home, the sales staff was raising prices $20,000 after every fifth buyer came inside. The $500,000 house he and his wife were eyeing had shot up to $540,000 by the time they sat down. Somehow, it still seemed like a good deal."

The sales staff were adding value to the home, just because.

Further down in the article it talks about the crazy lending practices where someone was able to put $1,000 down on a $1,000,000 home. This is why the housing market is taking a nose dive off a short cliff. WE did this to ourselves.

Of course we do most things to ourselves, this is just one more in a long line of things that we have done that bite us back in later years.

As the housing market goes through it's corrections, the money lost can mostly be explained as "make believe money" We added value where there was nothing of substance there to begin with, so it is all just paper money gone poof.

What will get hurt the most is the workers making all these houses. As the craftsmen slow to a crawl the lack of funds will trickle down to the rest of the Economy one way or another.

My sister told me this past weekend that she no longer felt any desire to give up smoking. Between the missing bees, the melamine in the human food supply and the new trash to energy plants dumping toxics everywhere in Maine, what's not to like about smoking?

cfm in Gray, ME

Hi Dr.

Ouch. My guess this is a result of the emotional side of "not being able to" stop. (I so much want to jump in here, which is just 'cause it hurts to read this.) The idea of (as you probably know) is not the death itself, it's the debilitating disease that precedes it. Anyway, the brain sometimes talks when the emotions can't (or don't know how to) deal with withdrawal, is what I've observed.

No wonder Bush was dancing to the drums, someone is blowing smoke up his bunghole, that must have felt good. He's happy moving to paraguay once he's done screwing up the US and it's time to dance.
Lets obscure fuel prices or the war with immigration, the other hot button. Well done George, well done. In hindsight you might go down as the worst president in the history of the US.

We need Alan for president!
best D

For sure Bush is running neck and neck with Truman in world, if not, US history.

A recent study concluded that use of biodiesel would actually increase greenhouse gases. Whether this study would be applicable to ethanol, I don't know, but I think we should be skeptical about claims that ethanol will do much to cut greenhouse gases. Khosla says it will cut gases by 20%. Even if true and even if we converted our entire corn crop to ethanol, the total reduction in gases would be minimal. Right now, we're using 25% of the corn crop to make a 3% contribution to liquid fuels.

While I am not opposed to higher CAFE standards, they would work extremely slowly in making such impact because of the time required to replace the fleet. We need to people to cut their consumption right now regardless of kind of vehicle they drive and we need people to decided to purchase vehicles with higher miles per gallon now if they are in the market.

There are only two ways to make much of an impact on fuel consumption, higher prices through taxation or rationing.

Bush's critics are only dumbfounded in the sense that they were simply appalled at how incredibly disingenous Bush's plans are.

However, as bad as Bush's plan is, I think we would be hardpressed to find anyone in congress with a plan that is much better; at best they will come up with some sort of lame increase in CAFE standards. And people like Senator Levin won't even do that.

So, really, we're just back to fiddling while the earth burns.

Oh, and I guess a third approach is if peak oil really kicks in big time and the shortage of oil forces a reduction in consumption whether or not we have planned for that or not. In which case, the increases in prices will go to OPEC, Russia, the rest of the exporting countries, the oil companies, the terrorists, and the trade deficit. If we fail to plan, the world and geology will plan for us.

On a related note, did anyone else here read the article in Sierra Magazine about a confab between various energy "experts" about what to do about global warming? What struck me mostly about the transcript was how Khosla hijacked the discussion to focus on biomass as a significant part of the answer. He stated that he was generally against subsidies but would make an exception in the case of ethanol. What a coincidence.

"There are only two ways to make much of an impact on fuel consumption, higher prices through taxation or rationing."

My votes for rationing. With gas at 3.09 here in Motown today people were filling the roads, revving their engines and squealing their tires at every opportunity. A fella riding what he claimed was a $55,000 custom hog broke down at the end of my block. Curious, I asked him what the mileage was. He said he didn't know! As bad as the economy is around here it seems people still have plenty of money to BURN. Besides where would those extra tax dollars go? Fund another invasion?

Obviously, the writer for the Baltimore Sun has not read the GAO report. According to the section "What GAO Found",

[T]here is no coordinated federal strategy for reducing uncertainty about the peak's timing or mitigating its consequences.

Hi Alan,

I imagine if you have an affinity for Django you will have seen the Youtube clips of him, but maybe not this of Gypsy kids.


Maybe it also holds a vision for the other half of your plan...more do it oneself lifestyles?

Hope you enjoy JazzFest.

Hi Crystalradio

I have been wondering for some time, how the battle of Britain was won on the dancing floors.

How was it done? Give me a hint.

Hi Swede, I couldn't pick just the right word for that hint so I've thrown the thesaurus at you with:

The Battle of Britain was won on the dancing floors by the valleviation, amusement, animation, bliss, charm, cheer, comfort, delectation, delight, diversion, ecstasy, elation, exaltation, exultation, exulting, felicity, festivity, frolic, fruition, gaiety, gem, gladness, glee, good humor, gratification, hilarity, humor, indulgence, jewel, jubilance, liveliness, luxury, merriment, mirth, pleasure, pride, prize, rapture, ravishment, refreshment, regalement, rejoicing, revelry, satisfaction, solace, sport, transport, treasure, treat ... and wonder of these occasions.

We Canadians are a dour lot but youse guys down there are rapidly closing the dour gap.#;-)

Get a load of these lyrics:...Knees up mother Brown, knees up mother Brown, don't get a breeze up, knees up knees up, knees up mother Brown!...think about them a bit for their cryptic meaning. After something like that wouldn't you, in enthusiasm, rush right out jump into your Hurricane or Spitfire and go shoot down a Messerschmidt or two?

That explains it. I have no further questions.

That's a nice vid.
In Chicago we have Alfonso Ponticelli and Swing Gitan.
Also Andreas Kapsalis with his unique severed-tendon technique.
Steve Gibons sitting in for Stephanie Grapelli.
And I've left out some good ones.
Gypsy music is alive and well.

makes me want to burn my guitar

Unique severed-tendon technique?...I just guess it would be!!! Alive and well but just a little mutilated at times?:>o I will do a search.

President Bush has a strong energy plan in place that can be easily augmented to respond to concerns in both the oil industry and the global warming community

Actually, he does have a strong plan. It's called a dictatorship. If he's willing to direct the EPA to act directly contrary to a unanimous ruling of the Supreme Court [see Leanan's link to EPA Proposal] and Congress and American people allow that, then it's game over.

cfm in Gray, ME

do we reduce consumption by 20% by 2017 ?

Easy: instead of trying to achieve a 20% reduction from current levels, try to achieve a 20% reduction from projected 2017 levels. So, make sure the projected levels are really high like... yearly average % gain seen from 1985 through 2005 extrapolated then to year 2017. Since the country had large yearly energy increases in the 1985 through 2005 timeframe, the 2017 projected level will be sky-high; competition from China alone should price the USA out of that level of consumption.

Fuel efficency and the ScangaugeII

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Scangauge for my car, to help me optimize my mpg, and now have some data to report.

The Scangauge is a device that allows me to monitor innumerable parameters of the automobile's operation, act as a trip computer, and can read/clear engine trouble codes. It plugs into the OBDII plug that is standard in most cars built after 1996 and mounts on the dash with Velcro.

An obvious caution is that YMMV (your mileage may very). I am driving a 2005 Toyota corolla with 20,000 mile on it, over relatively flat terrain, in excellent weather conditions.

I have always been a relatively conservative driver, no jackrabbit starts and no racing to a stoplight just to slam on my breaks. Using the odometer and gas pump reading, I was getting 34 to 36 mpg for each tank full to start with. Using the Scangauge I was able to increase that to 38 to 40 mpg for a tank of gas. The potential exists to increase that number up to 45 to 50, or more!!!

The biggest impediment to increasing my mpg are speed limits. They are to high!! The sweet spot for millage is between 50 an 55 mph. At that speed, the average mpg is 52. The limited access highway I do most of my commuting on, has a speed limit of 65 mph, at this speed, gas mileage is 42 mpg. The traffic and congestion on this road moves at 70 mph during normal commuting hours, so doing 55 isn't really an option. I want to save gas, but I don't want to cause an accident, or be the victim of road rage.

My test was to take the car up to the selected speed, set the cruse control then reset the trip computer to average the mpg for a particular run. I did the test on a Sunday afternoon, so traffic wasn't an issue. Each run was about 10 miles long.

55 mph = 52 mpg
65 mph = 42 mpg

That is a pretty significant difference. I thing a higher mpg could be archived using the pulse and glide technique instead of cruise control. Pulse and glide is what I use when not on an interstate or limited access highway.

The advantage of having real-time data displayed is critical to increasing and optimizing you mpg when not at cruising speeds. Just using good driving habits, or a normal trip computer, is just about useless. The Scangauge comes into its own when it is set up to display the following parameters: 2 second average mpg, throttle position, % engine load and gallons per hour. This real-time feedback lets you optimize your behavior when not at cruising speed.

The obvious way to get maximum mpg is to keep your foot off the gas pedal and brake. In other words, glide as much as possible. It's simple advice to give, but tough to do without the constant reminder provided by the real-time display.

Another really tough skill is accelerating. I had read that some Prius owners drive with their shoes off. Now I understand why. Trying to get optimum mpg while accelerating is really tough with shoes on. You need just the right amount of pressure on the pedal to keep the car accelerating, while not sending the mpg into the toilet.


Interesting experiment. I have heard similar stories about software to track their home energy use; as soon as you can easily measure it, you start paying attention to it and figuring out ways to reduce it.

I don't own a car, but I wish I did just to try it out this scanguage.

Can you explain pulse and glide? It sounds like an uncomfortable way to travel. How low does the speed drop while you are gliding before you pulse again?

Here is the link where I read about it:

Thanks for posting this.
Need to support your (and Alan's) vote for lowering speed limits. One thing we have to learn is to stop beating our cylinder heads against the aerodynamic 'wall' all the time. Mileage really starts to fall off over 55. Modern vehicles too. Using the gauge will confirm this. If the posted is 55 people will go 60 ect. Now folks are guzzling along at 80mph and more. Combining trips, utlilizing seats, and slowing down can save millions of barrels of transportation fuels.

I use the pulse and glide technique whenever feasible and keep the speed under 60mph. On a recent 1200 mile roundtrip (yes we multi-tasked) in the northwestern U.S. with hills I averaged 59.8 mpg in our gen 2 Prius. The average temp was about 55 deg F.

The Prius has no tachometer but if it did it would show that you can get a very high (engine on) 'gear ratio' while 'feathering'. A slight release of the throttle with a light return (on sustained freeway runs for instance). Then there are 3 engine off modes, glide when possible to make black (no engine, no electric motor, no charge) or green arrows (regen) then over to orange arrows (light throttle on battery only) as long as possible and back to 'pulse' (those pink arrows).

I use pulse-and-glide (aka "boost and coast") in my diesel.  I typically boost to 70-75 MPH at the crest of a hill and then coast down the hill.  I re-engage the transmission at about 60 MPH.  I climb hills at a steady 65 MPH.  I use the "tiptronic" feature of the transmission to keep it in top gear throughout (downshifting wastes fuel).  Needless to say, I can't use this when there's much traffic (unless the downhills are pretty steep).

The reason this saves fuel is because the engine friction rises rapidly with speed (the piston/cylinder side forces are roughly proportional to RPM squared).  Going down a hill with the engine at road speed creates more friction, and requires more energy, than with the engine idling out of gear (engine off would be better, but I couldn't get a stick shift).  If the car had some way to store energy other than kinetic and gravitational potential energy (e.g. ultracap hybrid), that would work too.

The only reason I know this is because the Passat TDI trip computer has a Scangauge style 2-second average MPG readout built in.  It is really something to watch your trip-average MPG go up 2-3 tenths of a MPG just from coasting down a long hill.

BTW, Alan:  I'm listening to WWOZ now.  Great stuff, as good as WEMU!

I'm going to have to disagree with a couple of points. First, the frictional losses from cylinder sideloads and such may increase as you say; this will depend upon a lot of factors that aren't too important. The biggest losses are from pumping; air through the cylinders, oil and water, and all those accessories. The famous 'Jake brake' made by Jacobs and used on big trucks eliminates the air spring effect of the cylinders by venting them. If you turn off the ignition and open the throttle [don't do this unless...} going down a hill you will get a sense of this effect. Add 20:1 compression and the right valving and you can stop loaded truck. Cylinder friction is pretty tiny on modern motors and probably far exceeded by pumping losses.

The pump and coast method is a compensation for having a too big motor in the first place. There is a sweet spot of output for any given engine. Variable valve timing is a way of broadening that spot, but for normal engines ther is a speed and load that most efficiently utilizes the capability of a given motor. Because of hills and winds and acceleration, cars have engines way too large and lightly loaded to perform well at highway speeds. By loading the engine to an efficient level of cylinder charge and then shutting it off or idling, we can improve the situation. Using it as an intermittent generator and then drawing down the battery is another strategy which balances one inefficiency against another.

Orrrrr.... you can use a half liter motor designed to run flat out at its efficient point, put it in a light car, adjust the aerodynamics and gearing and just take your time on hills. Europe after the war was home to a host of suchlike vehicles being run flat to the floor and getting over 50 mpg all the time. VW's prototype 300cc diesel streamliner has pushed that envelope well into three figures. Probably get you 50 miles on a liter of olive oil.

If that Corolla had a motor half the size - as many cars in Japan do - it wouldn't need the 'pump and dump' tactic. At 55 mph on a level road the aero load can be as little as 8 hp, with another five or so to run the AC and onboard cappucino makers. Bigger cars may need 15hp. Keeping the motor turning and lit on the size of motors we use can consume about as much as actually pushing the car along. This is why the 500 cu in V8 in my old International truck would get 15 mpg uphill or down, empty or full; the load was irrelevant unless you towed a couple of tons to get it interested in actually working for a living.

More important than friction is the thermal loss from having so much combustion chamber area. This is why the tactic of running four out of eight cylinders on a V8 - random firing - works so well. You are only losing heat out of half as much area and loading the cylinders at a more efficient level. Friction doesn't change much if at all, but thermal efficiency rises. These are thermal engines after all.

The big frictional problem is air resistance, which rises as the CUBE of speed. For most traditional auomotive shapes the 'wall' is about where convoy speed and Reagan put it - 50mph. At 30 mph rolling drag and such will predominate but after 55 you better call an aerodynamicist or get a big motor and fuel to run it.

All this stuff was worked out in the thirties. Stay home. Ride a bike. Take the train. Solar thermal storage. Local production. Oh, such hardship!

Orrrrr.... you can use a half liter motor designed to run flat out at its efficient point, put it in a light car, adjust the aerodynamics and gearing and just take your time on hills. Europe after the war was home to a host of suchlike vehicles being run flat to the floor and getting over 50 mpg all the time. VW's prototype 300cc diesel streamliner has pushed that envelope well into three figures. Probably get you 50 miles on a liter of olive oil.

Well the Honda Insight has a 3 cyl. 1 litre engine, pretty close, and is very aerodynamic. It has the MPG readout built in for the positive 'bio' feedback of regulating the gas foot. I've found that there is little difference, barring head or tailwinds, between about 55 and 65 mpg. Honda Insight owners tend to be a fanatical lot in terms of obsessing on these details. The biggest hit on mpg is the winter gas formulation combined with cool wet weather. My mpg drops from lower 70s in summer to lower 60s in winter.
At 1875 lbs the Insight gains most of its economy just from the weight. Estimates are that 10% can be attributed to the hybrid aspects. Probably not cost-effective, but a good experiment for Honda nevertheless. I'm looking forward to whatever Honda will come out with next in terms of hybrid or simply ultra-high-mileage cars.

If I remember correctly the insight has an aluminum body and really low drag coefficient. I test drove one once, nice car. But when I compared the initial cost to the mpg the corolla won.

The final factor for me not buying a Prius or Insight was that the local Honda and Toyota dealers were just such abusive, annoying, jerks. I bought the corolla used from a local Hertz dealer. Got it for below blue book value and there wasn't even a salesman involved. Just a couple of clerks to process the paper work.

It's probably a good idea to point out to those who don't already know that Honda no longer sells the Insight. Apparently, it wasn't a great economic success, since gaso wasn't so expensive during the time it was on the market. I think they were selling less that 1000 a month in the USA, so they discontinued it. A great pity. I would love to have one. I did, in fact, try to buy one last year, but no dice, they were out of production. I wound up with a Toyota Yaris instead, and I get about 45 mpg. That's not bad as moder cars go, but I'd certainly prefer to be getting 65 mpg.

Maybe when gas gets to over $5 a gallon, Honda will bring back the Insight. I won't hold my breath though.

By the way, I live near the Mexican border and I visit there frequently (mainly to get dental work). I've noticed the VW Lupa on the roads, and have seen the Mercedes Smartcar for sale (but so far not be driven on the streets). Maybe I should go car shopping south of the border too.

Hi Oz...

There was a news story around 6m ago that Honda were going to put the Insight hybrid setup into the 2008 Honda Fit (as it just happens to dimensionally slot in without modification). Of course, since the Insight is rather old now... one would hope for several generational improvements even...

Now that really would be a great hybrid car.

Haven't read any recent updates on this story though...

There are always trade-offs:

About a month ago I hit a deer in my '02 Corolla. I was likely still going around 40MPH at impact - the deer flew to the side of the road and stayed there. I was surprised that the car still drove just fine the rest of the way home, although it did take $2800, mostly insurance, to put it back in spec.

As much as I'd like a 100 MPG "tin can with wheels", if that was what I was driving that night I probably wouldn't be here typing this today...

Your car wouldn't have survived, but you would. Airbags can handle much more than 40MPH and a deer.

The biggest losses are from pumping; air through the cylinders, oil and water, and all those accessories. The famous 'Jake brake' made by Jacobs and used on big trucks eliminates the air spring effect of the cylinders by venting them.

Yes, it absorbs the energy of compression and dumps it with the characteristic machine-gun sound, so the energy is not returned.  The reason this is necessary in the first place is that the friction of the engine itself is not very high at low speeds.

If you turn off the ignition and open the throttle [don't do this unless...} going down a hill you will get a sense of this effect.

I no longer have a car with a throttle and a stick shift (I have neither), but I tried that when I did.  The pumping losses are maximum with a partly-opened throttle, because full throttle reduces the losses from intake vacuum.

Cylinder friction is pretty tiny on modern motors and probably far exceeded by pumping losses.

In my experience, this depends a lot on the engine.

Hi All,

Well...this may be the time to ask.

I have a friend who *has to* purchase a car. "Argue" as I might, I see how she needs it, as the alternatives aren't safe for her situation, really. (Anyhow...she's doing it, one way or the other.)

So, my q is: what would you advise her? She's thinking of new, though I always thought "used" was a better deal.

In any case, could you make recommendations in each category?

Good fuel economy, I guess. And by good I mean something in the ~50mpg category. Either a Prius or a VW diesel.

New: Toyota Yaris. I wouldn't pay a premium for a hybrid unless I could plug it in at night.

Used: small compact cars like the Elantra, Tercel, Civic. I did a building for a car dealer last year. He only sold used Hondas and Acuras, saying that cars were so good these days that a decent car with 40 - 60K was a great deal.

Echo or Yaris. Any model year are the best bang for the buck and fuel economy. "Pre-owned" aka "barely driven off the lot" can save a few thousand.

Orrrrr.... you can use a half liter motor designed to run flat out at its efficient point, put it in a light car, adjust the aerodynamics and gearing and just take your time on hills.

Two words: Forced Induction

Lets you run a smaller engine, but get the same power out of it.

Those of us old enough remember the "Free wheeling overdrive" transmissions in the 50's - Particularly on the Studebakers. Driven conservatively they would give 40-50 MPG with the big flathead 6 cylinider engines.
Free wheeling transmissions are now illegal - As is coasting down hill with the transmission in neutral in most states.
Those driving big full size pickups from need or want can significantly increase their gas milage by installing an auxillary transmission behind the one the vehicle came with (1 to 3 gear ratios). Cruise 70+ MPH at 20-30 MPG with the engine turning about 1200 RPM. Can require LOTs of shifting in hilly country or with strong head winds - About like the new cars that have 5-6 or more speed transmissions, only their reason is using a small engine and having to keep it reved up to make enough power.

I'd never heard of that. I find it fascinating that a law was past that effectively lowers the gas mileage of all cars.

With more modern designs, involving computer controls and governors, it could probalby be brought back in such a way that it safe to use.

Freewheeling/coasting is 'effectively' illegal in the UK too, since it is described as a bad technique in the UK highway code. This is not mandatory but is considered as a reference in negligent driving cases etc. Never mind that automatic gearboxes have reduced engine braking, so are semi coasting to a stop anyway. I used to do it all the time with a manual. As a cyclist, you are used to looking ahead for gradients, cnoditions ahead etc.

Inflating tyres to the max rating on the tyrewall will probably save 5%, but in a bump your insurance company will walk away laughing, while the police wiould grab your collar...we live in dumb, litigatious society

I remember my dad having either a studebaker or rambler in the 50s, do't remember which, but it had a little device where you could dial in the speed limit, and then it would buzz if you went over. Since I have a little bit of a lead foot and am constantly having to remind myself to slow down (as all the other traffic roars past), this would be a useful thing to have. But I've never seen such on any car made since then, nor have I even found such a device as an accessory to be added.

There are plenty of devices to evade police radar so that people can violate the speed limit. That tells you something.

Might this mean that where older US Highways paralel Interstate highways, and don't have a huge number of toplights, they may be the better choice of routes?

"or be the victim of road rage."
Jeez, doesn't driving suck? It's a wonder any of us put up with it.

What is it at 45 mph ??

At 45 MPH my trip computer reads upwards of 60 MPG.  3400 lb car.

Could one of the editors please comment on the article "A Tale of Two Crudes". I found the article very interesting but I lack the expertise to critique it effectively. I don't disagree with the article's conclusions--that gasoline inventories are dangerously low and we had better start seeing a rapid increase in crude imports and refining or we'll see trouble this summer. However, the analysis leading up to that point seems contadictory to me. What are others thinking? Thanks.

I was at the grocery store this morning. (I like to go early in the morning, when traffic and crowds are minimal.) There's a man and his son in front of the store when I get there. The kid is maybe 12, and is whining. He's upset because Dad has to go to the ATM, which is one of those little kiosks at the back of the parking lot. He wants his dad to drive to the ATM. It's probably less than 50 yards, and the kid thinks it's too far to walk.

Dad says it's not worth starting the truck. The kid, hoping to change his mind, goes over to their truck and opens the door. The truck is parked in the middle of the lot, so it's a very short walk from the truck to the ATM...but the kid still wants to drive, because "It's too far."

We're doomed.

Come down to JazzFest next weekend ! :-))

And bring your comfortable walking shoes.

I am taking the streetcar there, just 7 blocks from the drop-off to the front gate. And miles of walking inside the Fairgrounds (our horse racing venue).

Enjoy the coming doom with beautiful music, friendly people, wonderful food ...

Best Hopes,


I have seen "The End of the World as I Know It"; and it ain't so bad that a good party won't help :-)

I fear it would take an awful lot of fossil fuels to get to New Orleans from here.

And... I hate jazz.

Love New Orleans seafood, though.

There is MUCH more than Jazz at Jazzfest ! Musically, zydeco, blues, gospel, Mardi Gras Indians and any other music with strong roots in south Louisiana. Jerry Lee Lewis is hardly Jazz and he is here this year.

The food is juried and it is as difficlut to get food accepted by JazzFest as it is a musical act. Some poepl ignore the music entirely and just enjoy the food, arts & crafts and lectures.

One can stream the Jazz Tent from the best radio station on the planet.


Listen On-Line is in the upper right corner.

Give it a try for an afternoon and see what you think :-)

Happy JazzFest !


No, the best radio station on the planet is wfmu.org - which should not be unknown there, as they helped WWOZ out after Katrina.

Truly, at that level, the differences are trivial. But DC, NYC, and Boston share more with each other than with New Orleans, Austin, or San Francisco. In the end, the home team has a certain sentimental attraction which cannot be overcome.

O’ dear… you Americans and your “best on the planet”… this reminds me of your “World Series”… where nobody else in the world takes part!! (-:

As if you have experienced radio around the world (yes, Expat… I know you live in Germany now…)

Having lived in UK, Australia, NZ, and Canada… and travelled the breadth of USA… I can truly say the best English language radio station I have listened to is…

Radio National in Oz… http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ … a wonderful mix of arts, science, culture, discussion, world music, drama…

and where “news/current affairs” is relegated back to its original and correct place… headlines once or twice per day…

Please let there still be Internet streaming radio post-Peak!!! I can't live without my weekly fix of Philip Adams on Late Night Live (RN); Loose Ends (R4, UK) and Kim Hill (Radio NZ).

Or the Super Bowl winners declared "World Champs"... I guess I could invent a card game, teach it to my wife, and have a 50% chance of being "World Champ", LOL.

Some of us think that the best radio station in the world is the BBC World Service. It is certainly the most listened to.

It is certainly the most listened to.

Then by that standard Budweisser is the best beer in the world and McDonalds is the best resturant.


this reminds me of your “World Series”… where nobody else in the world takes part!! (-:

Not true! There's Canada.

Unless they're the 51st state. Have we annexed them yet? ;-)

It's tempting. I could jump in the Subaru and cruise on over. 508 miles each way, according to Google Maps.

508 miles? That's nothing!

google maps tells me it is 5652 miles, and would take around 30 days! (Not sure whether my car could cope with steps 28 and 29, but that step 44 is a real doozy!)


Don't take that route!!! You would come on shore in Boston, and the traffic is terrible. I would come on shore in Jacksonville if I were you.

That's hilarious! Someone at Google has a sense of humour.

Amusingly enough, I tried the route from here to Glasgow and it routes me through Boston as well. Has Google not heard of the car ferry to Newfoundland? If you ask me swimming from the east coast of Newfoundland would be much more reasonable. And, no matter what Google says, I'm not going to swim to Le Havre to get to the U.K.! Heck, there's no need to rent a car at all, I'd just swim directly to Glasgow. They really should update their maps.

We decided to go to the Wiener Dog Races instead. Then had dinner down the highway in Gruene. Though I have no doubt NOLA would have provided better fare. It has done so in the past.

And, I'd think steps 28/29 should have sent you to the Chunnel. Fares from £49 one-way, according to the website.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

What is so stark to me (during my re-integration process back into American life) is how different the children are in the US, compared to Japan. Japanese children can be spoiled too, especially in single child families. But.... but, they just don't whine and cry like American children.

On a tangential note, I didn't see this (WSJ editorial) linked to yesterday:
The Mirage of Energy Independence

But probably the cheapest source of diversification in transportation is still conservation -- using taxes or tougher federal mileage mandates to increase the fuel economy of cars and trucks.

What is so interesting about the above is that the author is Doug Wilson, founder of Townhall.com, a website normally thought of as "conservative" on most issues and probably not a favorite site for many TOD regulars.

That such a source would be embracing higher taxes or higher CAFE standards shows that you never know where you might find political allies.

This timely article called Breaking you kid's whining habit from CNN.com today. Here's the lead:

When it comes to torture, we could all learn a thing or two from kids. Who knows better than they how to extract most anything they want within minutes of applying the technique? I'm talking about whining, of course -- that grating mewling that causes us to do anything (anything!) just to make it go away.

Nice, contemporary theme.

I got the impression, while visiting Japan some years ago to perform as a member of a group in the National Cultural Festival, that Japanese children may be less rigidly segregated from adults than American children. For example, at some of the evening receptions, children of ages down to 7 or 8, maybe even 6, were present. In the USA, children usually do not attend receptions of that sort, especially in bigger cities. Partly they are highly unwelcome, partly it's hysterical parental paranoia that the world will come to an end if bed-time is not adhered to absolutely, never mind the cost in depriving the children of valuable or even once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

I wonder whether the US practice of near-absolute age segregation, which is surely abnormal as compared to historical practice, contributes to the problems. How can one learn how to behave in society when one is isolated from it nearly all the time?

I wonder whether the US practice of near-absolute age segregation, which is surely abnormal as compared to historical practice, contributes to the problems.

My suspicion is that you are correct... the partitioning of the family in the US, enabled btw by the luxury afforded by cheap energy, is much greater than in the Asian societies with which I am familiar.

Perhaps, at a time significantly after P.O., if the one room schoolhouse returns with mixed-age education, and "home" is defined as mixed-generation units and even very extended family units, that American society might have children whose indulgences are not tolerated.

I've often wondered if the hyper-polemics we see on websites is just the continuation of this eternal infantilism...

It is so fascinating to watch Japanese children, young children, act independently and responsibly out and about in the city. Sure, the little ones ("akachan") cry, etc., but that is what babies are supposed to do. But.... within a year or two after learning to walk the Japanese children are pretty much treated like everyone else. Yes, they are smaller and less capable in many senses, but they are expected to be a responsible member of society. Grade school children ride the train alone, etc.

To me, the most fascinating thing about P.O. is not the geophysics (though it is interesting), but the social ramifications. Once oil and natural gas (and maybe even coal) are sufficiently depleted to make the energy/capita number say half of what it is today, I wonder what society will be like.

I'm from Hawai`i, where the culture is strongly influenced by the large population of Japanese descent. (Originally brought over to work on the sugar plantations at the end of the 19th century.) One thing I find very different about the mainland is that kids are often not invited to weddings, etc. In Hawai`i, children are always invited to weddings, including babies. You just assume when you invite someone that their kids are coming, too.

I should move there then cuz if my kid can't come, neither can I.

'...the US practice of near-absolute age segregation....'

This is a very real point, and it has been going on for at least a generation. There were many things which were interesting about visiting Germany in 1982, and one of the most striking was how people of different ages were just people - a grandmother might enjoy the latest pop music, while a 12 year old really liked listening to traditional music. A trivial example, of course, but one easy to explain - since in the U.S. in 1982, music tastes tended to be strictly stratified by age.

In my opinion, it is again part of the mystery of the U.S. - though at least partly explainable by marketing, there is something larger at work. Why do parents, who enjoyed themselves in utterly normal ways when 17 years old, turn around and then try to forbid the same for their 17 year olds? The hypocrisy is stunning, and yet critical in some strange fashion.

All part of a puzzle, but there is no question that Americans have become very isolated among themselves, in ways that now seem to be normal for those living in the U.S.

Hi expat,

Good point, except that...well, is it really music? :)(Now, I mean. Not 1982.)

re: "music tastes tended to be strictly stratified by age."

It was just an example, but a decent one, since music is something we all understand, but also something which has been very heavily marketed.

There is a rigidness in the demographic aspects of society in America which tend to be easy to overlook.

In part, and this is striking when you actually start to think about it, it is because America has taken segregation into entirely new areas. For example, in places like Florida or Arizona, the number of retirees who have moved from other regions numbers in the millions - and those retirees, speaking very broadly, have removed themselves from the life of the communities where they lived before, and from their children's daily lives too. And these retirees will likely die there - essentially unnoticed. This is unimaginable in Europe. For that matter, this would have been fairly unimaginable in America for much of its existence.

The effects of such segregation can be considered profound - young adults live in one area, parents with children in another, older people in yet another area - with fairly weak bonds between these 'phases'. No one has a connection to a larger whole, everyone can see themselves as either unique or part of a coherent yet limited 'whole,' while ignoring both the past and the future.

This is not an attempt to spark much debate, actually, as this is a very broad discussion. But for whatever reason, American society has managed to move very far from what other people living in other societies today consider normal. Americans feel, almost fanatically, this is because America is undisputedly the pinnacle of human achievement. Many people I have known from other societies find America's human barrenness difficult to understand. Since often these people come from Third World countries, it is easy to dismiss their observations from a typical American perspective - after all, anyone coming from a land without Pizza Hut or Starbucks or Baskin Robbins is obviously envious of America, and this envy warps their perspective.

And these retirees will likely die there - essentially unnoticed.

Disagree. It's young and relatively healthy retirees who move to the Sun Belt. Once they reach the point where they cannot be active and independent, they move back home to be with their families.

Older seniors return north

Retirees who flocked to Florida and other warm states are making a U-turn, challenging communities in the Northeast and Midwest that already are grappling with the needs of an aging population.

The older retirees returning north are still just a small share of the seniors who have moved to the Sun Belt, but there will be many more as the population ages.

They usually go back when their health weakens, they lose a spouse or their savings dry up, according to experts on aging. The main reason for moving: to be near family.

Well, I can only speak personally about several relatives from New England and Long Island - they were neither relatively young nor relatively healthy when they moved. And none have moved back, either before dying or before getting unhealthy, though they still may, of course.

But this is in essence a very broad discussion - even assuming for the sake of argument we are talking about about younger and more well off retirees, the numbers who moved was undoubtedly in the millions, and the number who died after moving certainly would make a noticeable dent in the number of deaths in the communities they left.

I will say that this is unlikely to be a long term American trend - but for at least a generation, older people in significant numbers simply 'disappeared.' Much the same way that children 'disappeared' - it is striking how empty America is of children simply playing outside compared to what life was like when I was younger. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the disappearance of children playing outside also seems to have started in the earlier 1980s. And I am not talking about demographic shifts in established neighborhoods in a natural cycle - I am talking about a stunning lack of children playing outside in groups at any time of the year - and in the last ten years, any time when visiting the U.S., it was something which was high on my list of things to discover.

You hear that children's leisure time is much more structured now, and that their parents are afraid to let them play outside.

But I see kids playing outside in groups all the time. I live in an apartment complex, so there are a lot of kids around. They skateboard in the parking lot, play baseball and Frisbee in the yard in front of my building, climb the apple tree outside my kitchen window (this was an apple farm, fifty years ago), ride their bikes and trikes around on the sidewalk, etc. (There's a Big Wheel on my walkway as I speak.)

The complex is segregated, though. Being relatively cheap housing, the residents are a mix of retirees, young families, and college students. The seniors are in "quiet buildings," where they won't be disturbed by rowdy kids. (Though the quiet buildings are interspersed with the family buildings, so it's not like you never see each other. You just don't share any walls with them.)

This is all anecdotal, but essentially, my observations are from 'true' suburbia - Fairfax VA, Carmel IN, and to a lesser extent, Richmond VA and Virginia Beach.

Even in Fairfax, there are some places with a good number of kids playing - they tend to be the apartment complexes in Fairfax City which have a large percentage of Central American tenants, though.

And what different parents have said over the years in these areas (relatives and non-relatives) is incredible - how their children (roughly 6-12 years old) are not allowed to play in the woods (what is left of them, at least), or be out of the house for 3 hours, or even simply romp around with other kids for any period of time.

All anecdotal - all from people who comprise the backbone of suburbia's middle class. This is a very broad discussion, and I completely recognize how limited my view is. But it doesn't change my revulsion at the term 'playdate.'

> anyone coming from a land without Pizza Hut or Starbucks or Baskin Robbins

Like New Orleans ? OK, we have a few Starbucks; one of the 8 coffee shops on Magazine is a Starbucks and there is another around somewhere. Never been inside :-0

Our one and only Baskin Robbins shut down after Katrina and has not reopened. Closer to me (5 blocks) is a new ice cream store with hand made gelatos, sherbets and ice creams. About 18 choices from memory, but I MUCH prefer it :-)

AFAIK, no Pizza Huts.

And multi-generational ties are much stronger here. At an early planning meeting, they asked for the ties of those there. 51% had been in New Orleans for 3 or more generations. One old truism is that a local girl would refuse to move out of state until her mother died.

But newer generations are moving much farther apart (to the other side of town) than has been true historically. And grandparents had weaker ties to their grandchildren before Katrina than previous generations.

The oonly way we could fit half of the population into the 20% of the undamaged housing was by doubling up, and extended families and friends have piled into small houses with VERY high densities ! I still remember the futon commericals that were common post-Katrina !

Our social networks (many types and flavors) have made an essential difference in coping with the recovery. Something that much of America will be sorely lacking post-Peak Oil.

When people are asked "What is the single most essential thing we must preserve about New Orleans in the recovery ?", the #1 answer (by a large margin) is "The way we relate to each other".

That is also one of the main attractions for living here for me.

Best Hopes,


I am guessing that New Orleans and its surrounding suburbs is much like DC and its surrounding suburbs - that is, the city and the suburbs are really quite, quite different.

DC, with roughly 600,000 people, lacks a lot of things that any self-respecting Northern Virginian considers essential for daily living - though DC must have drive through fast food places, I honestly can't think of any, for example. For that matter, parking space for a fast food restaurant aren't all that common either, at least in areas like Adams-Morgan, Georgetown, or Mt. Pleasant.

And over the years, the percentage of Northern Virginians that work in DC has been steadily declining - DC was considered to be a crime and corruption ridden sinkhole, while places like Ballston or Tysons were considered the future of urban development - so much of the expanding federal office space has been outside of DC, fueling development in Northern Virginia (around Dulles, for example). And yes, this development is a very complicated story - for example, DC has height zoning - no building higher than the Washington Monument is allowed - which means that tall buildings like the USA Today towers could be built on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and not in DC.

And these retirees will likely die there - essentially unnoticed. This is unimaginable in Europe

Plenty of old Brits in Spain, and a few Germans as well.


Alan: Yep. Also, somebody should stick up for these American old coots. Who in their right mind wants to die in Detroit or Cleveland? IMO, they are doing the right thing going where the other chronologically old yet still alive Americans go to finish out their term. Their children and grandchildren don't want to babysit them- why should they?

Yes, and this will be an interesting thing to watch over the next decade or two, assuming the trend continues.

Spain is generally much less expensive than northern Europe, and warmer in the winter (in some areas, at least) and drier. Along with EU integration and the euro, and the fact that health insurance and pensions also 'travel,' it is possible to end your life there.

Especially as the population in Germany has two interesting features - it is declining, and it has a skewed structure due to WWII.

However, the numbers are essentially in the thousands (10s or 100s) range, not the millions range as in Florida and Arizona.

And with climate change, the fact that Iberia has been suffering from severe drought (the EU used emergency grain reserves for the first time in its history in 2005) and hotter temperatures may also play a role in reversing the trend. Along with tightening benefit rules - there tends to be a certain populist swelling against people taking advantage of various benefits every now and then, sponsored by a tabloid called Bild.

I may add, the Spanish housing bubble seems to have collapsed in the last week or so - much like in America, there was a lot of 'specuvestment' in Spain. And much of that bubble came from Britain, which has also been experiencing its own bubble, at least on par with America's. I may add, British investment in Florida housing was not trivial either.

Hi expat,

An interesting discussion, thanks.


Why is the article list on the Drumbeat so short today?

a/ Leanan was doing groceries, pay attention!

b/ To encourage some self-resilience, all that hand-to-mouth feeding don't make you strong

c/ It's a very slow news day, surely an ominous omen. The waves are retreating far into the sea


Perhaps all the NY/DC press corp is checking to see if they're in Debrah Palfrey's Rolodex.

It is funny - I know a guy who worked directly for the doofus who got busted on this one. He thought the whole thing was hilarious.

It does raise the question as to why the media and the public at large is so fascinated by stuff that is essentially irrelevant to their lives. I suppose it is because it is irrelevant that people can sit back, relax and watch it without having to worry about how it might have impacts on their own lives...

It does raise the question as to why the media and the public at large is so fascinated by stuff that is essentially irrelevant to their lives.

I think it's a quirk of our Stone Age brains. We eat more junk food than is good for us, because for most of our history, such foods were so hard to get it was difficult to eat too much of them. Similarly, we're interested in people we don't know, because for most of our history, everyone we knew about was relevant to our lives.

That's why poor laborers sell their blood or use the grocery money to buy movie tickets. They'd be better off using the money to feed themselves and their children. But to our Stone Age brains, the beautiful people on the silver screen are as interesting as our neighbors or relatives, perhaps more so.

We as humans do not want to just live; we want to experience life. Unfortunately, most of us live relatively mundane lives and we find that we must experience "life" vicariously through the hero adventures in movies and theater or in the sensational acts of others. Not every one can be James Bond or Hugh Heffner.

Hi Leanan,

Thanks and

re: "We eat more junk food than is good for us, because for most of our history, such foods were so hard to get it was difficult to eat too much of them."

Just for the record, I only eat junk food (and a healthy version of...at that) if I'm up too late scared out of my wits reading TOD.

If you watch over the course of a day, it usually grows.

There's more coming, I'm still working on it. Got a late start this morning, because I ran some errands before getting online.

But the list is usually shorter than average on Sunday. A lot of the mainstream media don't update on Sundays.

Ha ha

Well, as we saw yesterday, there's an 82% chance that kid will never get the education required to figure it out.

But again, not so fast. That still leaves an 18% possibility that he'll train to be an economist.


Leanan, I appreciate your efforts every day.Part of the walking issue is laziness I am sure but it is also more than that. I recently have had to go to a physio therapy clinic after work and have driven home and walked back the eight short blocks (very pleasant in our small town) to the clinic. I don't save more than a few ml of gasoline but I do get the exercise. However someone just walking to the clinic is so unusual that it is worth noting and has been commented on a few times. Walking is just not on anyone's horizon. Since I live on the street the regional high school is on I see lots of kids walking but few adults. At noon and after school there are the few "American Graffiti" boys driving around with bubbler exhausts and big booming sterio systems showing off that they are grown up and have a car. Most live at home rent free and don't seem to have jobs but that is another story. Getting your licence and driving are a way for kids to prove they are adults. The very same reasons that smoking tobacco and MJ, and getting drunk are so popular with kids as rites of passage symbols. Walking is for kids, driving proves you are grown up and so it becomes so ingrained in our minds that it lasts through all our lives. Most of us don't get beyond this behaviour no matter how old we are. And comments such as "You walked here?!!!" actually have a put down effect as if there is something wrong with you or you are too poor to drive. I don't think any programmes or propaganda or rising prices will have much impact on this psyco behaviour. It will only be when people suffer on the income side (lose their jobs) and they just cant afford fuel that they will stop driving fifty feet to the ATM.

I wish we could afford the life we are living.

I agree. That is that we are freaking doomed.

So let me get this straight. The kid was forced to walk 50 yards? Why, that's child abuse! If the authorities find out, no doubt Dad will be prosecuted. He might even have to register as a sex offender.

This is in the same category as people that will circle the parking lot for twenty minutes waiting for a parking spot to open up close to the front entrance. I usually park toward the rear of the lot, get a little bit of exercise, and can get in and out while they are still circling.

Me, too. I tend to park near the back of the lot even if there are spaces up front. You avoid confrontations over parking spaces, and you also keep your car away from other cars, shopping carts, etc.

I always park out in the ends of the car rows while going shopping or whatever I am doing in a parking lot. I never have to worry about a parking space and I don't have to circle and circle hunting for a closer to the door parking space. Which is where some of these kids get their bad habits, Their parents.

Whinning kids don't get their way in my house. I never got things when I whined, why would I forget that lession myself. My 3rd wife, likes to walk, is in fact a faster walker than myself.

It kinda bugs me when I see people acting like kids when it comes to parking close to the door of the store, while they spend hours in the store walking around. But I also have a pet peeve about healthy people parking in the handicapped spaces even if they have a tag allowing them to do so, if they are healthy park out where they won't stop the non-healthy from those same spaces. My second wife, (is still in a wheelchair) hated seeing the handicapped spaces filled by healthy kids of the elderly using their parent's tags to get in the first rows of spaces.

We are still teaching bad examples to our kids. In twenty years we might be fighting over hitching spots for the horses at the town store.

We aren't doomed, it is everyone else, LAUGHS Sickly.

We and our kids are the Bagholders for the Entitlement Generations. The Bucks stops here.

Entitlement whores want life guarantees

I would have to say that many people, if they can, turn themselves into entitlement whores in order to get security...

Almost everything in the states seems to revolve around the sinecure, the search for the guaranteed position. The educational system...

The Nipples of government and big business are going to run dry.. imagine the tantrums the Titbabies will be throwing when their "guaranteed" retirement bennies, health care, etc are taken away from the complacent goofs.

"There will be riots,
riots in the streets
Over food and energy,
across the nation
a chance for folks to meet..."

The way Europe and America did it was to import lots of immigrants to do the jobs the entightlement whores used to do. So you spend money on welfare and save it on payrolls.

Rebuilt Iraq Projects Found Crumbling

In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle.

CNN is also covering this story. They say these rebuilding projects cost U.S. taxpayers $30 billion.

Really makes me wonder whether we will be able to maintain our infrastructure, let alone build all the new infrastructure switching to solar, liquified coal, etc., would require when TSHTF.

Not if the Bush Administration is in charge !

We are justifiably worried about a failure of our potable water supply SO FEMA wants to do a $30 million study to determine if immersion in salt water for week MIGHT be the cause. Over 4,000 leak repairs so far.

Two of four potable water pumps have failed (salt water NOT good for windings) and we are months from repair of the first failure (FEMA would not pay extra for speedy repairs, but I heard company is going to deliver monrhs ahead of schedule anyway. Some people give a damn and THANKS to them). Fire fighting is inhibited in many parts of the city due to low water pressure. FEMA study should start 20 months after Katrina. I have not heard the timetable for completion.

Off to JazzFest !


A friend at work spent time in Mosul working on a sewage treatment plant for a major construction/engineering consulting firm. I remember seeing him get an e-mail from the army officer he worked with. The plant that they had worked so hard to get up and running was being shut down due to lack of parts. The (lack of) security situation made getting parts difficult.

I also think much of the reconstruction was totally screwed by using a top-down, US-centric approach to rebuilding infrastructure. Instead of talking to the Iraqis about what equipment they had, what they were familiar with maintaining, what is locally available, we just ordered stuff from US companies, whether there was a support (repair/maintenance) network for that equipment or not. I don't think that was the only problem with the reconstruction effort, but one component of it, and symptomatic of the way we have treated the Iraqis - as troublesome children who have to be shown how to do everything.

I have this little destilation facility, something very small and it vas usually used for experiments to figure out what kind of taste the Rakija (Serbian national pride, strong drink usually made from fruits) will be if you used different amount of additives such as sugar, potato or what ever the organic mater with lots of stark would do. The volume is 25l, it can create minimal amount of alcohol, which in turn can be used for zippo lighters, lamps and such.
How would you make the fire?

Does Intel fear $100 laptops?

Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) non-profit group, on Thursday revealed big news about his laptop for the poor children of the world. His biggest revelations at a Cambridge press and analyst briefing: The laptop will run Windows, and the group is seriously considering selling it in the United States.

I would be interested in buying one of those. It won't replace my desktop or laptop, but I'd love to have a computer that doesn't need to be plugged in.

it's not intel. it's microsoft, having a cheap laptop that gets millions of people used to linux in the developing world(their only growing market) scares the heck out of them.

He didn't say it will run ONLY Windows or even that it would be optimized for Windows. Of course, that might be a precondition for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and whatever IP agreements the victim country is forced to sign. It WILL certainly run Linux better.

cfm in Gray, ME

Tanker Fire Destroys Freeway Overpass in Oakland, CA

The heat of a dramatic gasoline tanker fire destroyed an overpass and closed two major roadways in the MacArthur Maze at the East Bay access to the Bay Bridge early this morning.

A section of the roadway taking traffic from the Bay Bridge onto eastbound Interstate 580 fell onto the connector that brings East Bay traffic from Interstate 80 to Interstate 880 southbound toward Oakland and San Jose.
. . .
The tanker, which was traveling from I-80 full [80,000 gals] of vehicle-ready gasoline, seems to have disappeared. One Caltrans worker at the scene held up his thumb and forefinger an inch apart to describe how big the tanker is now.

Pretty wild to see the photos. Anyway, for transit geeks like me, it will be interesting to see how well BART handles the crush of transbay riders next week.

The content of the truck was 8.600 gallons of gasoline, not 80 thousand gallons.

So much for the conspiracy theorists who contend that a gasoline [or jet fuel] fire isn't hot enough to melt steel. Just take that tanker and ram it into a building partway down and wait. An small open flame might not do it but if it is a big enough fire, obviously it happens. Now we know. I doubt there is much difference between gasoline and jetfuel in a big fire situation.

A fire inside a building and a fire on a bridge exposed to open air are completely different situations.

And some factoids:


Maximum burning temperature: 980 °C (1796 °F)


Steel is just the element iron that has been processed to control the amount of carbon. Iron, out of the ground, melts at around 1510 degrees C (2750°F). Steel often melts at around 1370 degrees C (2500°F).

OK, jet fuel burns at 980 °C and steel melts at 1510 °C, but steel is greatly weakened at 980 °C - weak enough for a steel structure to collapse under its own weight.

That makes good sense in the case of the bridge collapsing, but it doesnt make sense when you apply to WTC... Screw this, I'm not gonna spend my Sunday arguing 9-11 conspiracies.

Why do I get myself into these debates?? Ughh =(

When I was a kid, I lived near the spot where I-94 crosses the Mississippi river. There was a sharp bend in the road as it approached the bridge, and there were 3 truck rollovers there. Two were gasoline tankers, one was carrying beer.

The fires from the gasoline fire was hot enough to melt the aluminum guardrails on an overpass.

Oddly enough, of the 3 truck drivers, the only fatality was the beer truck driver. Evidently drivers carrying gasoline drive with one hand on the door handle. If they think the rig is going to flip over, they jump out the door. Staying with the truck is apparently not as good a choice as taking your chances with whatever is out on the road.

It's the fast way to get 280,000 cars off the road. But likely the folks will now spend more time running their cars by taking longer routes to and from those places.

The gas station it was headed to might be short a few gallons for a while too. All in all though if it had happened during rush hour or with more cars on the road it would have been a whole lot worse than it was with only the driver getting burned a bit, though that is pretty bad in itself. CHP stated that he was driving to fast and lost control and crashed.

Think of each gasoline tanker truck as a traveling bomb. It is a wonder more of them aren't crashing.


Jennifer Summers, 36, was driving from her costume design job in San Francisco home to the Oakland hills just before 4 a.m. when she saw black smoke and realized the freeway was on fire.

I wouldn't expect people to take transit at 4 a.m. but: live in the Oakland hills and work in San Francisco?!? I used to live in the Bay Area and was astounded that people would put themselves through as much driving as they did. I know one guy who commuted 40 miles each way every day. It's fricking insane.

That's nothing. I knew one guy who lived near Philadelphia and commuted to NYC. It was about three hours, each way.

And many of my coworkers commute from more than 60 miles away, every day.

I wouldn't expect people to take transit at 4 a.m.

I have taken the St. Charles streetcar home MANY times between 2 AM & 4 AM (New Orleans being a city of advanced civilization, we have no closing times for our bars, at the owners discretion). Only two streetcars operating at those hours, so a 30 minute wait between cars.

Fond memories of drunks, etc. sitting down and BSing waiting for the streetcar early in the morning :-)

Last night, home @ 1 AM and people still walking the streets in my neighborhood.

Best Hopes,


Read the Wash Post this morning, for old times sake:

D.C. Area Sees Spike In Rate of Emissions
Carbon Dioxide Increases 13.4% In 4-Year Period

By David A. Fahrenthold
Sunday, April 29, 2007; Page A01

The Washington area is in the middle of a carbon dioxide binge, with emissions of this greenhouse gas from vehicles and electricity users having increased at more than twice the national rate between 2001 and 2005, according to a Washington Post estimate.


Across the area, carbon dioxide emissions increased faster than the population, which grew about 5.5 percent from 2001 to 2005. Environmental groups said that this is an indication that the problem is not only growth but the way in which the region has grown.

"People have moved farther and farther out and drive more and more miles," said Frank O'Donnell, president of the District-based Clean Air Watch. "What it's telling you is, sprawl is causing a big increase in greenhouse gases."


At my brother's fifty party, my mother gave him the PC Guide to Global Warming, written by some guy from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Just about everyone of my sibs and cousins drove a truck or SUV.

Travolta's jets

Now, we all have our thing, our little eco-sin: Some of us still throw away a plastic bottle here and there; some of us drive SUVs. But shouldn't there be open scorn by now for a celebrity who flies his own 707 wherever he likes -- especially scorn from all these green celebrities?



Why What We Think Is Right Is Wrong: A History of What Really Makes Us Happy

(Jennifer Michael) Hecht employs a similar method of historical comparison to question current attitudes toward the body. She points out mischievously that modern America compares only to ancient Greece and 20th-century fascist regimes in its obsession with bodily beauty and adds that "in the context of most of human history, our idea that a good life includes a lot of physical exercise is bizarre."

Does being beautiful make it easier to look down on the people you are exploiting?


The Canadian Al Gore?

Suzuki, 71, admits that the treatment of his family -- which was split up during internment and forced to move east after the war -- seared him. Even now, as a third-generation Canadian who does not speak Japanese, he said, "I hate looking at myself, hate my eyes, hate all the insecurities" that came from his appearance. From those days, he says, he always felt like an outsider.

But that gave him the strength, he says, to champion unpopular causes -- global warming and other environmental issues -- long before they became fashionable.


Nor does he shrink from daunting predictions: "I think the future for our species is very, very much in question right now. Maybe pockets of people will survive, but it will take heroic measures."

He laments what he considers lost years of opportunity, since scientists' early warning that humankind must reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "If we had done what they said in '88, we would have been so far past the Kyoto targets," he said. "The world would be a cleaner, safer place. Instead, it has taken almost 20 years" to regain momentum.


Registration required

Hello Donal,

Interesting links--thxs. To me, the big paradigm shift, if it ever mitigatively happens, will occur when Tiger Woods is leading the charge to convert golf courses into vegetable gardens. Currently, it seems far more likely that Travolta will fly him to an Eco-Tech Luxo-bunker.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Bob...Long time no Debate LOL

Did you see the interstate collapse from the gasoline fire in California?

This may debunk some 911 theories about the towers ehh?



Yeah, and the WTC fires were on the inside. The heat was retained and it could more easily reach softening point for steel, the point where it couldn't support the weight of the building above. I can believe that two jet planes could take out WTC 1 and WTC 2. WTC 7 I still have a little trouble with...
I wonder how long till some conspiracy nutjob steals a tanker truck and spills it in the basement of a skyscraper? That would be dramatic proof that the conspiracy freaks were wrong.

The problem is not just the melting of steel -- the problem is the symmetrical collapse of 1,2 and 7 into their footprints at free fall speeds. The problem is there was 200,000 tons of steel in the 2 towers and the amount of fuel in those planes was nowhere near enough to heat even a tiny fraction of the steel. The problem is that these were the first three steel-frame buildings to come down because of fire. The problem is that these guys had planned to go into Iraq before 9-11 and needed a pretext -- and it arrived just in time. The problem is that the whole story of the guy in the cave with 19 suicidal hijackers is holier than swiss cheese: no CIA infiltration, no problem getting into the country, no problem training HERE, no problem boarding the
planes, no problem taking control of the planes with BOXCUTTERS, no problem flying 3 of them to their targets, no problem hitting the Pentagon AFTER the towers, and on and on and on. Not a single photo of the airliner hitting the Pentagon? By the way, there are only conspiracy theories about 9-11 -- NO ONE believes it was all an accident. It's a question of which conspiracy you find more plausible based on looking at ALL the evidence.

None of this makes you even a little suspicious? Then I've got a bridge I want to sell you.

I'd be grateful for being pointed to a website with counterarguments to the dissenting 911 theories. I've read some of the dissenting websites and some of the contents is bizarre. But the two arguments below are strictly mechanical (scientific if you prefer).

Re: the problem is the symmetrical collapse

Yes, the symmetric collapse of a building should require a correspondingly symmetric stress applied when weakening the structure.

And - the towers had a weight bearing structure in the middle, (circa) forty steel columns. Those columns was probably incrementally thicker as reaching the bottom. These columns would pierce the mass coming from above, but they didn't. How is that plausible?

Thanks in advance for any comments or links to voices who doesn't find these two (pivotal?) points unexplained.

Try this site:


Basically, any skyscraper will collapse fairly symmetrically. This is contrary to common sense, for many people. People (including bin Laden, in his first attempt) expect towers to fall like trees. But skyscrapers are not trees. They don't fall over, they "pancake." You see this in earthquakes and other building failures, too.

I don't want to get too much into it, because we've discussed it to death before, and this is not a 9/11 site. But with a skyscraper, the floors are the weak point. They are not strongly connected to the walls, because if they were, the building would be too rigid. It would crack in a stiff wind. The floors are designed to hold up the weight of the occupants, furnishings, etc. They aren't designed to hold up the weight of the floors above them. So once one floor fails, and falls onto the one below, it can start a chain reaction, with each floor collapsing onto the one below. The building doesn't fall over, it falls in.

Thank you, Leanan,

I didn't want to wade through all the 9/11 stuff, so I've been just glossing over it. I'm glad you explained a central fact.

I know plenty of people who would buy that bridge - they are the same ones who know that "they" will come up with something to ensure a smooth transition after PO...

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

There's no problem there.  A floor of a skyscraper has a certain load (both static and "live") that it can handle.  This is a fairly small multiple of the weight of the floor itself.  Collapse a couple of floors on top of it, and it falls in; drop those floors on it from 10 feet up, and the impact will take it out at just that free-fall speed (slowed only by the transfer of momentum to the formerly-unmoving floor).  There are no energy-absorbing elements in the floors or the connection to the vertical supports, so there is no way for the structure to survive the shock loads of that vertical impact.

The symmetrical collapse was actually a design feature of the WTC towers.

Controlled demolition is a very time-consuming effort.  Holes are cut in the webs of I-beams.  Shaped charges are placed to slice the end caps, there's often tamping and blocking material to direct explosions and catch fragments, and the whole site is a mess of wiring and detonation cord.  You're asking us to believe:

  1. this was done to the WTC towers...
  2. ... over a weekend
  3. ... without anyone noticing and calling the cops, and
  4. ... with all of the co-conspirators keeping their mouths shut!

Yeah, right.

None of this makes you even a little suspicious? Then I've got a bridge I want to sell you.

You got a bargain price on it, I'm sure.

From 911 Research:

From Sagging Trusses to Leveled Building

The unverified assumptions of the truss theory listed above are the least of its problems. It pretends that a few truss failures would automatically lead to the entire steel building crushing itself. What would be the likely chain of events following a floor failure envisioned by the truss theory?

Let's accept Dr. Eagar's zipper scenario (despite the clear evidence that fires did not cover a whole floor in either tower) and imagine that all the trusses of a floor failed in rapid succession and the whole floor fell. Then what? It would fall down about ten feet, then come to rest on the floor below, which was designed to support at least five times the weight of both floors, the fall cushioned by the folding of the trusses beneath the upper floor. But let's imagine that the lower floor suddenly gave up the ghost, and the two floors fell onto the next, and that failed, and floors kept falling. Then what? The floor diaphragms would have slid down around the core like records on a spindle, leaving both the core and perimeter wall standing.

Truss theory proponents hold that the core and perimeter wall lacked structural integrity without mutual bracing provided by the floor diaphragms. That may have been true in the event of a 140 mph wind, but not on a calm day. Note that the core had abundant cross-bracing, and would have been perfectly capable of standing in a hurricane by itself. And even if one imagines the outer wall buckling without that support, it does not begin to explain how it shattered into thousands of pieces, many of the column sections ripped from the spandrel plates at the welds, and how it shattered so quickly that no part of the wall remained standing above the falling dust cloud.



Any thoughts on how this will affect crude prices/supply in the coming months?

Chavez and Big Oil Gear Up for Struggle

Saudi terrorists were planning 9/11 style attack on oil facilities:


any chance KSA are setting themselves up for a "successful attack" to decrease oil production this summer? (or atleast not expand production, and have the entire world know where their "spare capacity" went?

/me removes his tinfoil hat

Probably not very good for the USA. But possibly beneficial for Latin America.

I consider Chavez a mixed bag. On the one hand, I fear he's setting himself up as "president for life" in Venezuela, in the style of Fidel Castro. On the other hand, I'm happy to see him putting the interests of his country and Latin America before the interests of the USA and its big corporations. And I love the way he puts a bug up Bush's ass.

At least the oil that remains in the ground (rather than being drilled or mined immediately) thanks to his anti-corporate policies is something for future generations to utilize.

I wonder if the oil companies will stick around. Either they leave and Venezuela's oil industry sinks like Pemex or Chavez gives a little and they stay. I am betting on the former.

PEMEX sank....?

sorry unaware as I am currently being paid by them.

Keithster do you have any new stock tips for us?

or a third possibility, they "sink" like aramco

Anyone read this? Just freaking hilarious.I think Peak Energy is going to wipe out Banks in more non-traditional ways than we think

Summary: Bank of Montreal lost $400 million by selling naked calls on Natural gas. Ho Ho Ho. ONe freaking look at the depletion rates should have made anyone scared to be negative on NG. But No! Bank of montreal wanted to make an extra paltry $30 million or so.

"The bank said the energy trading market, primarily natural gas, became "increasingly illiquid" and price swings, or volatility, dropped to historically low levels. The bank also changed the way it estimates the market value of its trading portfolio."

"It's really in the last eight weeks that we have seen the move in the market and it's outside the range of what we have experienced,..."

Why does "illiquid" market decrease volitility? And then it becomes "outside the range". Can someone clarify?

cfm in Gray, ME

I think it's called bullshit.

YOu beat me to it. Are these people Dodos? Or are their shareholders Dodos? NG hit a low of $4.61 in oct 06. It traded as highas 15.00 in Jan 06. From the low in Oct 06 it hit almost $9.00 within 6 weeks!!!THAT is a NON-volatile market? The market had been volatile for 3 years at least. They are just trying to explain away their carelessness.

From mainstream, business media in South Africa - Simple life is solution to a world less crude:

The poor can offer ‘skills for getting by with less and by stretching resource. Funny how there’s always a handy geo-political crisis or act of God or maintenance problem to blame for the oil price going up.

If it’s not Iraq, it’s Iran. Or Nigeria. Or Hugo Chavez. Or a hurricane. Or a pipe burst. Or Iraq again.

But there is growing consensus among geologists, energy analysts and even governments that the cheap, easily accessible oil on which our modern economy depends has reached maximum production and is about to go into permanent decline. Just as everyone in China and India gets the chance to own a car.