DrumBeat: August 17, 2007

TVA reactor shut down; cooling water from river too hot

The Tennessee Valley Authority shut down one of three units at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant Thursday because water drawn from a river to cool the reactor was too hot, a spokesman said.

The nation's largest public utility shut down Unit 2 about 5:42 p.m. CDT because water drawn from the Tennessee River was exceeding a 90-degree average over 24 hours, amid a blistering heat wave across the Southeast.

"We don't believe we've ever shut down a nuclear unit because of river temperature," said John Moulton, spokesman for the Knoxville, Tenn.-based utility.

UAE to cut oil production for rig maintenance

The United Arab Emirates will shut around a quarter of its oil output for two to three weeks of planned maintenance at two of its largest fields from the end of October, a Gulf industry source said yesterday.

The shutdown will cut output from the world’s sixth-largest oil exporter by around 630,000 barrels per day (bpd), he said. Oil traders in Asia said the total output reduction would be as high as 810,000 bpd as a third field would also undergo work.

International Companies Bid for Cyprus Oil Exploration Licenses

A U.S.-based company and an international consortium applied for licenses Thursday to explore for oil off Cyprus' coast, the Trade and Industry Ministry said.

Why watching war games is a waste of energy

Out of all the West’s worries about the SCO, the greatest should be control of energy supplies. The war games, at the moment, are a showy distraction.

Shell Alaska Drilling Project Blocked by US Appeals Court

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Royal Dutch Shell PLC must further postpone plans for exploratory drilling off the northern coast of Alaska.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also indicated that environmental and Alaska Native groups have a good chance of prevailing in their effort to keep the energy giant out of the Beaufort Sea.

Dutch crown prince warns against prioritizing biofuels over food

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander warned against diverting water resources from food production to biofuels, saying Wednesday that feeding people is more important than fueling cars.

"Biofuels is a great way to support our Western way of life, but it's not a necessity for mankind to survive. Food is," said Willem-Alexander, who chairs the U.N. secretary-general's advisory board on water and sanitation.

Forget biofuels - burn oil and plant forests instead

It sounds counterintuitive, but burning oil and planting forests to compensate is more environmentally friendly than burning biofuel. So say scientists who have calculated the difference in net emissions between using land to produce biofuel and the alternative: fuelling cars with gasoline and replanting forests on the land instead.

Carolyn Baker: The End of the World as we Know it - Hope vs. Mindset

A friend for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration recently challenged me on my incessant hope-bashing stance and gave me some food for thought which has caused me to reframe the concept of "hope" in my own mind in a way that I can live with. What I cannot live with is a definition of "hope" that externalizes it - that fosters denial and a false and naïve anticipation that government, religion, or to quote Lincoln, "the better angels of our nature" will somehow save humanity from slamming with lethal velocity into the brick walls of our own making-climate chaos, global energy catastrophe, planetary economic meltdown, population overshoot, species extinction and die-off - or nuclear holocaust.

Russia: Cashing Out of Gazprom

Due to government manipulation of events, the stock of Russian energy giant Gazprom has quintupled in value over the past three years. Yet Gazprom's own management is now cashing out, heralding deeper problems in the powerful -- yet bedeviled -- company.

Ukraine may face energy crisis by year end

Ukraine may face an energy crisis by the end of the year because Naftogaz Ukrayiny, the national oil and gas company, has failed to accumulate sufficient reserves of natural gas, a top official said Thursday.

The energy game: from Managua to Caracas

At the Third PetroCaribe Summit held in Caracas last weekend, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega made it clear that ethanol diplomacy would not work in his country. He is reported to have told his Summit colleagues that he had said to President Lula that even if they could use all the land in the world to produce ethanol, they could never satisfy global demand, which, according to Mr Ortega, is infinite under the "developmental model imposed by global capitalism".

Good Luck to Energy Advisor of Bangladesh

The energy situation of Bangladesh is critical and getting worse everyday. The massive flood will break the backbone of our economy and will require steady power supply in the months after the flood to recover the economy from ruins. The farmers will need steady power supply during irrigation season, will require adequate supply of diesel and fertilizers. But judging from the present situation it seems highly unlikely that it will happen. The dry season, hot summer will follow when the deficit of power supply will cause tremendous hue and cry as no additional generations are in view. The increasingly declining gas supply situation in Chittagong area will cause impediment to power generation and fertilizer production in the region. Shangu production is going down.

Uranium shortage hits nuclear plans

India’s nuclear energy ambitions have hit a major roadblock as shortage of the raw material — uranium — is threatening new capacity addition and also affecting the performance of the existing plants.

Heat wave prompts TVA rate hike

TVA put an exclamation point after the worst heat wave in North Alabama history with its announcement Thursday that it would temporarily hike rates.

Between October and December, Tennessee Valley Authority will bump electricity costs up by .432 cents per kilowatt hour, which it said will add between $3 and $6 to the typical bill for residential consumers.

The announcement comes as demand for electricity, largely to keep homes cool, is at an all-time high. Temperatures soared Thursday, topping 104 degrees and marking the ninth consecutive day of triple-digit heat.

Father of the compact fluorescent bulb looks back

Consumers with an eye to conserving energy may be snatching those swirly compact fluorescent bulbs off store shelves now, but 30 years ago they were barely a shade away from crazy.

Hurricane Dean likely to threaten Gulf of Mexico

Hurricane Dean, which could strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane over the next two days, pounded the eastern Caribbean islands of Martinique and Dominica as it churned into the Caribbean Sea.

And next week Dean will likely enter the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the region's oil and natural gas facilities, which account for roughly a third of U.S. oil production, the National Hurricane Center predicted.

Officials investigating fire at Pascagoula Chevron refinery

Chevron officials hope to know by Friday how much production at its largest U.S. refinery will be affected by an oil fire at the Pascagoula facility.

Defeating Depletion: Where should our focus be?

Solar and wind power are good alternatives. Denmark is the per-capita world leader when it comes to wind farming, with 18 percent of its power coming from wind power. But before we make an unqualified endorsement, bear in mind that the production of the components used to produce solar and wind power obviously does cause pollution.

Still, while we have cheap fossil fuels at our disposal, we ought to be directing the energies that we have available from them towards massive worldwide investments in solar and wind power, but there is a catch.

United States: Energy in Flux: The 21st Century´s Greatest Challenge - What the shifting dynamics of energy mean for corporations, governments, society and the international community

Thirty-three years ago this autumn, a crisis in the Middle East sent the price of oil soaring overnight from $3 to $5 a barrel, and to $11 within three months. A gallon of gasoline, just 30 cents that summer, skyrocketed to $1.20. In the immediate aftermath of the Arab oil embargo, the Nixon administration took decisive action, extending Daylight Savings time, winning approval for the Trans-Alaskan pipeline, establishing automotive fuel standards—even banning gasoline sales on Sundays. Three decades later, a new energy crisis—again marked by doubling oil prices and metastatic troubles in the Middle East—is upon us. But the backdrop against which it occurs is more volatile and unpredictable than in 1973.

Agri-industrial complex is on the way out, activist says

Americans are becoming disenchanted with industrial agriculture and turning more to farmers markets and locally produced food, said author and activist Bill McKibben.

...He compared industrial agriculture to the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. "It's rotting from within, relying on subsidies from a central government and waiting for a shove to collapse," he said. "It can't continue to rely on cheap fossil fuels."

China's Nanpu Oil Find Shows Pitfalls of Estimating Reserves

The pitfalls of evaluating big oil finds were underlined this week when China's Ministry of Land and Resources certified PetroChina Co.'s Nanpu oil discovery as having half the reserves of market estimates.

The Nanpu block in Bohai Bay's Jidong oil field in northern China was hailed by some analysts as the biggest find in China for decades after PetroChina said in May it could hold as much as 1 billion metric tons of oil equivalent, of which 405.07 million tons were classified as total proven reserves.

Although the proven reserves figure was revised up by 10% to 445 million tons by the ministry on Tuesday, analysts instead focused on the economically recoverable reserves estimate of 86.6 million tons, which is equivalent to 632 million barrels.

Arctic sea ice expected to hit record low

The extent of Arctic sea ice will likely have melted to a record low this September partially due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions, researchers at the University of Colorado said on Thursday.

There is a 92 percent chance that Arctic sea ice extent in September will melt to its lowest level at least since the 1970s, when satellite measuring efforts began, the researchers said. They had predicted a 33 percent chance of a record low in April, but changed the forecast after a rapid disintegration of sea ice during July.

Japanese automakers settle with asthma patients

Asthma patients Friday welcomed a settlement with major Japanese automakers and the government resolving a long row over air pollution blamed for killing more than 100 people in Tokyo alone.

Australian scientists call for ocean network probe

Australian scientists want to string a vast array of probes across the oceans of the southern hemisphere to warn of changes in ocean circulation that may affect the global climate.

Scientists seek new ways to feed the world amid global warming

On an agricultural research station south of Manila a group of scientists are battling against time to breed new varieties of rice as global warming threatens one of the world's major sources of food.

Urban planning needs rethink as climate change looms

According to SIWI, "climate change combined with continuing population growth and expanding urban centres presents a recipe for disaster."

Kuylenstierna suggested one measure would be to "move people from low-lying areas who live close to the rivers, close to the seas."

"These are attractive areas but maybe we have to finally understand we cannot only work against nature," he added.

A new Round-Up has been posted at TOD:Canada.

TOD:Canada continues it's coverage of the developing credit crunch, looking at how the liqidity crisis is playing out in Canada and how the subprime problem in the UK could be even worse than in the US. The mood of the markets continues to be an important factor, causing risk premiums to skyrocket and liquidity to dry up almost overnight. The US dollar is emerging as a beneficiary of the flight to quality, while the yen appreciates due to the unwinding of the carry trade. A rash of hedge fund redemptions is expected at the end of the third quarter.

On the Canadian energy scene, Peter Lougheed warns that a constitutional showdown appears to be shaping up between Alberta and the federal government over development of the oil patch. Dalton McGuinty's decision to close the coal-fired power plants in Ontario is criticised as bad policy, while one municipality holds a voluntary blackout day.

Water remains an issue round the world, as does the evidence of accelerating climate change. Sovereignty, particularly in the Arctic, and security are also becoming more prominent.

Source: Minyanville


Iranian forces shell Iraq's Kurdistan region

Russia, China and Iran warn U.S. to stay out of Central Asia

Russia to Build AK-47 and Ammo Factories in Venezuela

Russian Military Returns to Soviet Bluster

Syria Drops Peg to U.S Dollar

The Post Peak Oil Historian

Russia is taking steps in the face of US policies that Russia considers threatening. It appears that Russia is anticipating decreased US influence in the Middle East after apparent defeat in Iraq. They are positioned to reopen a permanent military base in Syria and assert a naval presence in the area. The blowback from US Administration decisions over the passed 6 years is becoming more and more apparent.


The bottom line is that Russia is manoeuvring to profit from what it sees as an irresistible window of opportunity - the power shift that would follow a US defeat in Iraq, Mr Baev said. "In the envisaged no-holds-barred power play, Russia would not have any allies but could enjoy perfect freedom of manoeuvre and exploit the advantage of not being afraid of any oil crisis."

"Declaring its adherence to pragmatism, Moscow is in fact increasingly adopting anti-Americanism as its guiding political idea." Toying with military bases in Syria was just part of a bigger, bolder bid to challenge US regional and global leadership.

U.S. Marches Closer To War With Iran'


By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

'The Bush administration has leaped toward war with Iran by, in essence, declaring war with the main branch of Iran's military, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which it plans to brand as a terrorist organization.

A logical evolution of US President George W Bush's ill-defined, boundless "war on terror", the White House's move is dangerous to the core, opening the way for open confrontation with Iran. This

may begin in Iraq, where the IRGC is reportedly most active and, ironically, where the US and Iran have their largest common denominators.

A New York Times editorial has dismissed this move as "amateurish" and a mere "theatric" on the part of the lame-duck president, while at the same time admitting that it represents a concession to "conflict-obsessed administration hawks who are lobbying for military strikes". The political analysts who argue that the main impact of this initiative is "political" are plain wrong. It is a giant step toward war with Iran, irrespective of how well, or poorly, it is thought of, particularly in terms of its immediate and long-term implications, let alone the timing of it.'...snip...

'The US has "unfettered" itself for a strike on Iran by targeting the IRGC, and that translates into heightened security concerns. "The United States never branded the KGB [Russian secret service] or the Soviet army as terrorist, and that shows the limits of the Cold War comparison," the Tehran political scientist said. His only optimism: there are "two US governments" speaking with divergent voices, ie, "deterrence diplomacy and preemptive action", and "that usually, historically speaking, spells policy paralysis"...snip...

'No matter, the stage is now set for direct physical clashes between Iran and the US, which has blamed the death of hundreds of its soldiers on Iranian-made roadside bombs. One plausible scenario is the United States' "hot pursuit" of the IRGC inside Iranian territory, initially through "hit and run" commando operations, soliciting an Iranian response, direct or indirect, potentially spiraling out of control.

The hallucination of a protracted "small warfare with Iran" that would somehow insulate both sides from an unwanted big "clash of titans" is just that, a fantasy born and bred in the minds of war-obsessed hawks in Washington and Israel.'...snip...

There is a whole lot of hallucination behind the Bush administration's foreign policy. I keep hoping for adult supervision from that new Democratic majority but there is something holding them back. I think a nice shot of impeachment might clean things up a bit, but I fear Bush would totally act out if called to account.

So wait, you're saying that our innovative policy of Preemptive War and the PNAC's (Project for a New American Censure) desire to create an 'uncontestable US military' is going to have the perverse consequence of both Defining the terms of 'the conversation', as well as practically guaranteeing that someone will emerge with the 'equal and opposite reaction' that even simple physics would seem to predict?


Russia's foreign policy has almost as strong an element of unreality as does the United States foreign policy. Look at Russia. It has a horrible demographic problem and it is going to peak soon in oil production. Where does Putin get off thinking he can elevate the Russian position toward the rest of the world?

Arctic sea ice expected to hit record low ...

92% chance?

Record was already beaten days ago with one month of melting left. Both Area and extension records are history.

/sarconal on/
This is fantastic. Now we can forego repairs on the Alaska Pipeline. We can run tankers directly from Prudhoe Bay to New York/New Jersey via the IFNWP. (Ice Free North West Passage)
/sarconal off/

We can probably really do that now:

I think ship's props would still get too clogged up with Polar Bears.. but soon.

About one month of melting left ... we might even be able to do NE passage too.

Not visible from that rendering are the thousands of polar bears that are starving.

The polar bears are starving, the moose are under serious stress in Minnesota, the puffins are dying, and these are just the big/photogenic species that made the news in the last month or so.



I saw an article a month or two ago - polar bears are so stressed they're coming to land to give birth and biologists ar starting to see polar/grizzly crosses in the wild.

Yeah, but as the dollar tanks, the tankers will head for Japan to get paid in Yen, just like the Iranians do. That's why president Cheney wants to burn Iran: he wants to eliminate their competition with his Halliburton-built North Poil Kingdom of the Future On Stilts. Once we merge with Canada ( http://www.infowars.net/articles/September2006/280906Union.htm ) it will be Us Against the Russkies again, battling and rattling icebreakers over the North.

A little more on Dean...

Stormtrack posted an update late last night. Dean was weaker than expected, but is expected to strengthen. Some models are predicting it will become a Cat. 5.

It's still way too early to determine where landfall will be, but I guess the worst case scenario for the oil industry would be the GFDL model, shown in blue here.

It sure looks to me like it's on the Canterell express.

We'll lose "our" million plus barrels a day, but because Boca Raton is safe, we'll celebrate and oil prices will fall.

Excuse my bitterness. I realize the Fed needs to bail out the banks, especially since this is where I've chosen to keep my money, but I just know the Billionaires of the world are popping champagne bottles everywhere at their triumph over Bernanke.

Who wants to go into business with me selling Greenspan Bubbles? "After a long day of lobbying your Senator for tax breaks, soak in a warm tub with Greenspan Bubbles! Wash that stench of the poor people away!"

The rich are not rich because they are smarter or cleverer -- though many of them are.

It's because they own the money machine.

The old aristocracy of rich landed gentry is gone, as is the "gift" economy of the North American tribes (Kwakiutl, etc.)
The successor to both: the "market economy" --in both its capitalist and "socialist" forms-- seems on track to being the most destructive agent on earth since the K-T boundary event bolide.

The coming dust-up with Iran will force China and India to choose "sides" -- and lo! WWI is living history.

We live in interesting times. I suppose there is a chance for this to come out better than it seems -- if people stop choosing the ways of abuse and violence. And for that to work, we have to give up fear.

Impressively worded, NLNG, a terse summary of the only two drivers of the market, greed and fear.
But if we are able to relinquish our fears personally or at community scale, what are the odds that nations ever will? How would leaders lead without cannon fodder?

It may be that we all have to wait for Armageddon and Jesus to return, or it may be that energy supplies will run out and the market economy will just be history after the manner of Tainter(http://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Complex-Societies-Studies-Archaeology/dp/... ).

Or just possibly, the human brain can claw its way out of the fog of fear -- brain by brain -- and people will choose a different paradigm. They can't be forced to do it; that is for sure.

You know, there have probably been half a dozen hurricanes that struck the Yucatan in the last decade, very few of which went on to cause systemic problems with Cantrell. Lets not hype up the danger, shall we? Any hurricane that comes from the Carribean would have to cross over several hundred miles of land just to strike, and it wouldn't have enough time to power up again before it ran aground in Mexico for a second time.

In the other hand, if it slips through the slot between Yucatan & Cuba (as some models predict), then all the platforms off the TX coast will be sitting like bowling pins in front of a bowling ball. How many of those can stand up to a Cat 5? We may find out next week.

I'm talking about a Cantrell strike only. Of course, you took the opportunity to 'hype it up' even further by suggesting its going to strike the oil producing regions of Texas. Since when were you a weather man?

Many of the models have Dean doing just what WNC is suggesting. Suggesting is not hyping. All he did was to just point out, without claiming to be a weatherman, that there is this possibility, which there clearly is.

A lot of our pollyannas on TOD have been getting real touchy lately.

Apparently you aren't a weatherman either, are you? Pay attention to the changing plots, and maybe take the log out of your own eye before you criticize the speck in someone else's.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

After it swamps Cozumel it will weaken and the leading edge won't do much but stir the surf off the western edge of the Yucatan. But again who knows.

It is days like this where we all get jumpy thinking of doom and gloom, or the other side, Non-doom and Non-gloom, or maybe a mix of the two, that we all get a little testy.

I have written disaster Sci-Fi for almost 30 years, mostly short stories, a few book length stories where aliens do a number on us and it is not ourselves that did it. I like watching "end of the world" type movies. I guess you can call me a Hard-Core doomer. But again we don't really know how it will all end up till after the dust settles. We only give our Personal "best guesses" with whatever our normal leanings are, doom or non-doom, or a mixture. Most people can't stay at the edge of their seats for more than a few days, really only a few hours without going a little nuts in the process.

If you find yourself wanting fuss and fume at someone, step back and don't post for a few minutes, let the steam burn off. It helps keep things civil around here.
Best wishes, Charles.

You guys both missed the biggest target. If this thing ploughs into OilmanBob's backyard and takes out Texas City, you might as well get out your bicycle.

> but I just know the Billionaires of the world are popping champagne bottles everywhere at their triumph over Bernanke.

I doubt that very much since despite the discount window rate cut, bond spreads continue to rise across the board. Real estate inventories are still climbing, as well as deliquencies and forclosures. Lending standard are still tighting and new LBOs are coming a fading memory. In the grand scheme, its meaningless.

A Truck Stop Perspective

Yet another truck driver, shut down for the night. He looked like Mr. Clean, minus the earrings. He took a seat in one of the booths as I was helping a customer. The customer left, and I remarked, "I'm amazed that people with bank cards still don't know how to use them at the pump!" I was frustrated because I'd had a day full of high-maintenance customers (you know who you are).

"I avoid credit cards like the plague," said Mr. Clean after the customer left. "It's just a means to track you and control you."

Okay, I thought, another nut-job. They come in all shapes and sizes on the interstate. But still, I couldn't resist. "What makes you say that?"

He looked at me in a direct way, as if taking my measure. "When the economy collapses, they are going to tighten everything down to control the population." He looked out the window serenely, as if what he said was obvious to anyone but an idiot.

I paused, wondering where he was coming from. I decided on an oblique approach. "I hope you're wrong, but the feces is going to hit the fan soon."

Mr. Clean turned his pale gaze back on me and smiled wolfishly. "Yeah, I think so. And the Mexicans are being set up to take the blame."

I pondered this as I help the next batch of customers. What the hell? I thought.

"What the hell?" I said as the customers (thankfully not Mexican) trailed out the door. "I know there's a lot of finger-pointing at the Mexicans, but you can't pin it all on them!" I didn't like what he was saying, but I sensed he might be on to something.

"Sure." He made his hands into a steeple, his elbows on the table. "It's not me doing it. It's the Establishment."

"Listen," I said rather heatedly, "there's gonna be a whole lotta people coming up from Mexico in the next few years, like it or not, and they're willing to work. Seems to me that's what this country was built on."

"Oh yeah, I agree. But they're gonna take the fall."

A new batch of customers stole my attention, and I didn't notice when Mr. Clean left. But his words echoed in my head for a long time...

I think about that, too. I have a feeling it could get very bad, even for legal immigrants.

McCain complained yesterday that his stance on immigration is killing him. The other politicians have noticed, no doubt, and see it as a warning shot across the bow.

Your truckstop perspectives are great. It shows the general population has the feeling something is brewing, but cannot pinpoint what it is exactly.

And, yeah, when oil exports from Mexico dry up and an "emergency influx of immigrants" make it across the border, they will for sure get blamed for a lot of problems.

I am living with my parents. When we got here 30 years ago it was all white. About 10 years later more blacks started moving into the area. Now it is a mixture of White, Black and Hispanic. Down the road in the Area's center (Levy is the Area, one of those small towns that got swallowed about 70 years ago to form North Little Rock) there are half a dozen store fronts in spanish, very little english in the signs until you get inside. Mom and Pop places, when I get extra money to go out to eat I show up and order things. Being a Chef I also grocery shop a lot in the ethnic shops, and like the prices of fresh produce in these mom and pops a lot better than at Wal-Mart. Plus the produce is treated right and I get better product. Wal-mart or Kroger's think soft and spongy Jicamas are still usable, the hispanic stores the Jicamas never stay out that long, and are priced way lower than the so-called cheaper Wal-mart.

The USA proud to call itself a melting pot, is just going to boil over with scapegoating soon, which is what has generally happened in the past, but this time it is going to come at a time when we really REALLY need to be working together to make it through the next hurdle.

My hispanic nieghbors know me. And I won't blame them for anything more than I'd blame anyone else.

Edit. Ps. Jicama is a root crop grown from Texas- to the Tropics, Lots of good uses and stays crunchy even after cooking, one of the best snack veggies I have found, kids love it.

Misfit, great post, thanks. I find it astonishing how many people, like your Mr. Clean, think there is some grand conspiracy behind everything. Nothing, they believe, could simply be as it seems to be on the surface. Some evil force, they believe, is conspiring against us all. Bad things are always caused by bad people, how could it be otherwise?

There must be some psychological phenomenon that explains all this, some innate characteristic of the human psyche. I haven't a clue as to what it is however.

Ron Patterson

There must be some psychological phenomenon that explains all this, some innate characteristic of the human psyche.

There is, and it's not just human. It's been observed in rats and other mammals as well.

The mammalian brain was made to see patterns. That's why, in most ways, we are smarter than the fastest computer. Seeing patterns lets us take shortcuts that pure logic won't allow.

The drawback is we sometimes see patterns that do not exist. Moreover, we need that illusion of control and predictability that the patterns, real or not, provide. They've done some fascinating experiments with rats, dogs, etc. They go crazy if you shock them at random. But if there's some kind of pattern - a light flashing first, say - they're fine.

Anxiety is the state of impending loss of control. Present in all mammals, of course but highly expressed in human beings. Manipulation of anxiety allows the controllers -- whatever the government may be, and there is always some government-- to remain in control. Modern technology has honed this to a fine art, and whether Ron Patterson believes there is a "conspiracy" or not, there is definitely a meeting of certain minds at the upper echelons of government, corporate governance and media. One might say they "breathe together" even if they don't conspire.

Yes: a "respiracy," not a conspiracy. In Econ they call it informal collusive oligopoly.


i figure for the last couple of decades the central bankers + money has been the most cohesive - globally inclusive group ever on the planet; & that ever will be.

The drawback is we sometimes see patterns that do not exist. Moreover, we need that illusion of control and predictability that the patterns, real or not, provide.

You just summed up religion in general in those two sentences.

Exactly. Even rats exhibit so-called "superstitious behavior."

They were doing research that involved training rats by giving them a food reward when they pressed a bar. But something went wrong, and the rewards started being dispensed randomly.

The researchers found they had a room full of rats who had been trained to do a variety of different, random behaviors. Standing on their hind legs, spinning around in circles, staying in one corner of their cage, etc. Whatever they happened to be doing when the random award arrived, they kept doing. Since they were doing it more often, chances were they were doing it when the next random reward arrived. It was self-reinforcing.

Ah. So the greater complexity of superstition/religious behaviour in humans may simply be an emergent aberrant side-effect of our more evolved pattern-recognition, and probably inevitable. It would be entertaining to observe if, y'know, it wasn't threatening the planet.

I find it astonishing how many people, like your Mr. Clean, think there is some grand conspiracy behind everything.

And yet, history has many 'conspiracies' of one group VS another group.

A grand conspiracy means there is a main root to strike at VS various groups all trying to take advantage of another group for their own benefit. One controlling group divorces them from the common therefore making that group 'less like you'. Less like you means more of a willingness to 'attack them'. If it is a group of legitimate businessmen using the laws to screw over others - well, that could be YOU grabbing the brass ring one day eh?

And I have no doubt 'Mr. Clean' is right - any class that has little rights will fall under attack as they have less tools to defend themselves. The 'detention centers' seem to exist, and the US has used such places in the past. If filled with 'lawbreakers' who's gonna complain much?

I have felt the same way for over a year now. The average Joe is seeing his money buy less, health care insurance go away, pensions getting reduced or eliminated. The Chinese are too far away to blame and the only way to tie china to Americans woes are to admit that buying stuff made in china is the problem- and this is to comes to close to blaming the average Joe.
No the Mexicans, illegal or not, are easily identified and are close. They work hard for their money in jobs that most people don't want. I have yet to see a carload of white people show up looking to work here, but I do turn away Mexicans.
Yes the Mexicans will take the blame before the whites will fight with them over rakes, hoes, and shovels for work.

I think the turning point will be when the American citizens do want work those jobs that "nobody wants."

I've always been curious about these jobs that Americans don't want.

Here in Western PA we don't have much in the way of an immigrant population. The lawn care/landscapers and child care (watching kids in the home) are all locals, as are all the workers in the construction trades. (I guess the closest we get to an underground economy is Amishmen are used quite a bit for framing and roofing work. The have a religious exemption and an employer doesn't need pay Social Security or Workers Comp on them.)

We don't really have the back breaking agricultural field labor jobs, so maybe it isn't a full comparison to other parts of the country. (Admittedly, though, I am aware of a local garden center that has farms growing landscaping plants and they do use seasonal migrant labor from Mexico. The owners says the Mexicans are very good workers and strong as bulls.)

My larger point should be that ever since the Depression of 1982 (when we had 25% unemployment locally), people get by here as they can.

The "jobs Americans don't want" are, not too surpisingly, those where the wages have been slashed by employers who have cheap illegal immigrant labor available.  There are plenty of places where the hotel rooms are made up and the lawns are mowed by people of European ancestry.  What these places have in common is no influx of illegals.

The Mexicans are not innocent in this.  They may work hard, but they also drive drunk at several times the native rate (a "cultural thing" according to the Raleigh News and Observer), commit crimes at a much higher rate, achieve poorly in schools and demand lots of expensive ESL classes.  All of this amounts to a subsidy of tens of $billions per year.  They mostly remain stuck in low-wage occupations, so if they ever become eligible for Social Security they will be heavily subsidized by the non-Mexican US population.  Naturally, millions of US voters resent this (and the malfeasance on the part of our elected officials who refused to enforce the law).

Lots of Mexicans are about to go home, and rightly so.

The Mexicans are not innocent in this. They may work hard, but they also drive drunk at several times the native rate (a "cultural thing" according to the Raleigh News and Observer)...

I assume by "native" you mean Americans of pure (more or less) European descent and not Native Americans.

Most Mexicans are mestizos - a racial mixture of European invaders with the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Genetically speaking, their ancestors' grain base has been corn. Other grains, and the alcohol made from them, are not part of their deep culinary history. Like Native Americans who "cannot hold their liquor" many Mexicans who drink are at the mercy of their genetic heritage; they cannot easily tolerate the alcohol.

Of course, we Americans don't easily assign similar biased attitudes to immigrants who are, for instance, lactose intolerant due to their heritage. I guess it's just not so in-your-face.

True enough, but that "bias" against ethanol as opposed to lactose intolerance probably has more to do with the tens of thousands of innocent Americans who are killed or maimed by drunk drivers annually - a minority of whom are aliens.


The Mexicans are home in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. In case you've forgotten, the land in these states was stolen from Mexico in 1845.

The social security and income taxes by Documentationally Challenged persons is still coming out of their checks. Since they don't exist and the employer's don't buy insurance, I bet a thorough audit of the payrolls and payroll taxes of companies that use them like the chicken industry will reveal that the companies are just keeping the money, not that the worker's aren't paying their share.

The Mexicans are good people, they are here because they want to work. They send money home because the love and want to support their families. You complain about a high drnking while driving rate, but is it any higher that young American men of the same age and class?

Mexicans are good neighbors, I'm concerned if anyone gets scapegoated and persecuted. I do sometimes think its better to be compassionate than right.

Bob Ebersole

Hi Bob,

I figured you'd weigh in on this one too. Thanks for your comments.

(You know me formerly posting as Xokiawitl - a story for another time)

Well stated, Bob.

Exactly how was Texas 'stolen' from them? I seem to recall a war of independence that was fought for very justifiable reasons...but I guess the will of people 150 years ago doesn't matter when compared to the will of 20 million current illegal aliens!

Mexico fought a war of independence from Spain.

The U.S. fought a very different war-- "the Mexican War"-- to annex the territory the Mexicans thought was theirs.

Naturally, the rightness or wrongness of all this depends on who tells the story, and upon which version the hearer of the story chooses to believe. No doubt some of the new "Mexicans" really wanted to be part of Texas. I don't think there was a vote, or even a poll

You missed a war.

The Texans rebelled when the military dictator Santa Ana overthrew the Constitution of the United States of Mexico and fought under Gen. Houston (see Alamo) until they captured Santa Ana after the Battle of San Jacinto (said battle field largely now under water due to subsidence from oil & gas production) in a woman's dress.

The Republic of Texas was a free and independent nation for a decade with French and British embassies in Austin, a small navy, etc. Sam Houston was their first President and Mirabeau Lamar the second.

Best Hopes for Texas history,


The Texan rebellion was a setup. Stephen Austin was sincere in his desire to obey the laws of Mexico, but the Tennessean hustlers who flooded in after him, including some of my ancestors, had no intention of converting to Catholicism for long. Or accepting Mexico's ban on slavery. The existing Mexican population there was sincere in wanting to overthrow the tyrant Santa Ana, but they made the mistake of trusting whitey, which seems to have happened a lot back then. The victorious Anglos betrayed them and ran them out of power, one institution after another.

All this was practice for the theft of California and Hawaii by greedy Yankee hustlers in fake revolutions. Why can't we be as honest in our murderous greed as Mongols or Nazis? They had no self-serving morality claiming that their crimes created broad prosperity for all, they simply stole everything they could hold and expected their descendants to die in battle keeping it. That's why we can't deal with the Mexicans being as sneaky now as we were in 1835. They can now use our old lies of market utility against us.

Best Hopes for Being Hoist on our Own Petard

people use various points to illustrate their own points and own hypothesis, the reasons are pretty complex.

The Indians controlled most of Texas until after the US Civil War. The oldest two towns in the state, San Antonio and Bexar, were Spanish towns originally. After the revolution from the Spanish, Moses Austin and son, Stephen F. Austin got a contract from the new Republic of Mexico to start bring in Americans, but they were supposed to be Catholic and without slaves. The settlers who came under that bunch were ready to lie for free land grants, but they weren't the only Empresarios. There was a big grant east of the the Nueses River given to Irish direct from Ireland. There were also a lot of illegal American squatters, and from other places too. Jean LaFitte was a frenchman from the Carribean, Haiti if I recall right, and his settlement of pirates at Galveston were from all over.

Basicially it was anarchy. Sam Houston was a periodic drunk from Tennesee, but was part of the Andrew Jackson political machine and had been in the US Congress. The Bowie brothers were slave smugglers Davy Crockett turned up for the Texas revolution, and was another former Congressman. And a large minority in Txas opposed joining the United States at all, including Moises Baker, the progenitor of James Baker's family.

Everbody, including the Mexicans from the San Antonio area hated Santa Ana, who was the warlord who granted Texas independence after his capture at the battle of San Jacinto. Santa Ana started the racism BS, and blamed everything on the Anglos and threatened to exterminate them. The Anglos said their reason for revolting was because Mexico had renigged on making Texas a seperate Mexican state.

I really think rabid nationalism is a disease. The reason I brought up the territorial claims of some Mexicans was to stop this "illegal" nonsense we hear from the jingoists. The vast majority of Latinos who migrate here are poor people who want to work, who love their families and make good friends and neighbors. They speak Spanish, but its a legal language in Texas, our earliest records are in Spanish. Times are really tough in Mexico on anybody who wants to advance their station in life, so they come north. If you want to blame somebody, blame the people who hire them and the hard life from the oligarchs in Mexico and the US who exploit them. Bob Ebersole

Thanks Alan :)

Santa Ana fought the Battle of San Jacinto while wearing a woman's dress? Where is Monty Python when you need them.

I'm guessing that he was trying to disguise himself and escape. I had read that he dressed as a common soldier while trying to escape but was betrayed by his expensive undergarments, but that may have been a sanitized account.

The Mexicans are home in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

No, they aren't.  The descendants of the Native Americans who lived in those areas didn't go to Mexico and then come back.  The Aztecs made war on tribes to the north and took prisoners for human sacrifice; they were invaders.

I've visited NM, and stayed in accomodations on a rez on I-40.  The Native Americans are distinguishable from Mexicans at a glance.

In case you've forgotten, the land in these states was stolen from Mexico in 1845.

In case you've forgotten, Mexico fought a war with the US, lost it, and accepted payment for the territory.

The social security and income taxes by Documentationally Challenged persons is still coming out of their checks. Since they don't exist and the employer's don't buy insurance, I bet a thorough audit of the payrolls and payroll taxes of companies that use them like the chicken industry will reveal that the companies are just keeping the money

I bet you'd be wrong.  Unless they are participating in a document-checking program like Basic Pilot, the companies cannot tell if they have been given anything other than a valid or invalid SSN.  Failure to pay SS taxes would be penalized with large fines.  Use of stolen SSNs doesn't result in deportation because the IRS doesn't talk to DHS.

The other thing is income taxes.  I have read that it is common for illegals to claim 6 deductions on their (fraudulent) W-4 forms, because the IRS doesn't automatically check for less than 7.  Nonresident alien spouses are not allowed as dependents per all the hits I got.  They don't pay taxes, and their expenses are paid by the US taxpayer.  Both these illegals and their employers are leeches.

The Mexicans are good people, they are here because they want to work. They send money home because the love and want to support their families.

That must be why so many of them left jobs in Mexico, and why abandonment of spouses left behind in Mexico is such a big problem.

Mexico is a country with vast resources.  Why not fix Mexico instead of creating new problems by bringing all its dissatisfied people here?

You complain about a high drnking while driving rate, but is it any higher that young American men of the same age and class?

"Among Hispanic-American men born abroad, Mexican Americans have a low rate of abstention and a rate of heavy drinking six times that of any other national subgroup....."

The upshot is that these people are not merely a drain on the American taxpayer, they are a physical danger.  Our government is derelict in its duty by failing to keep them out.

Engineer poet,

I know you really aren't interested in the truth, but the United States provoked the war in 1845 by sending troops south of the Nueces river, which is the river at Corpus Christi. That was the traditional boundry between Texas and Mexico. But that boundry was pretty fluid, Texas was mostly indians., and those indians were decimated by disease. The reason that the white southern culture were able to move in to East Texas was the big die-off in the Hasinai, or Caddoes, the name Texas is from one of their major subgroups, the Caddoes. As an example of how fluid these boundries were, General Zaragosa, the hero who whipped the French at the battle of Puebla on May 5, 1863 was born at the Presidio (fort) of Goliad during Spanish Texas times.

One of the biggest reasons that the Mexicans encouraged settlement was Comanche raids. Those guys raided as far south as the Yucatan, but were based on the high plains. There reservation is in Okahoma near Ft. Sill. The other reason was the Apaches, who were pushed into New Mexico. The Caddoes that are left live in Lousiana or Oklahoma, and all the other tribes and bands either converted to Mexicans or married in with the black people except the Alabama Coushatta with a reservation near Woodville and the Tiguas and Kiowa Apaches at El Paso.While the Mexicans let indians be come Mestizo when they decided to put on shoes and speak Spanish.

But what can I say, you've pretty well shown your racism and ignorance of history. You blame the Mexicans for not paying taxes, which is a lie as they can't file and get their money back. You refuse my evidence that the employer's of illegal aliens are the actual criminals, stealing social security andincome tax withholding. The contractors that won't buy insurance on their illegal employees are the people that are ripping off our hospital districts . As far as drinking too much, i'm more worried about Dick Cheney getting drunk and shooting his lawyer, or the coverup of George W. Bush's drunk driving and dope arrests when he was a kid, and coming out the monday after Katrina with a red nose. The guys around the corner that drink a sixpack on Friday after a long hard week aren't nearly as big of a threat But I think we're agreed that the govenment isn't doing it duties in any number of areas. Bob Ebersole

racist, n.:  Someone who's winning an argument with a liberal.

You blame the Mexicans for not paying taxes, which is a lie as they can't file and get their money back.

This excuses them from paying taxes that a US citizen in the same job would have to pay?  Sounds like an excuse for law-breaking to me.

You refuse my evidence that the employer's of illegal aliens are the actual criminals, stealing social security andincome tax withholding.

A three-part falsehood!

  1. You cited no evidence.
  2. I did say "Both these illegals and their employers are leeches."  Most of them would self-deport if they could not use stolen SSNs.
  3. The illegals are definitely breaking the law.  They committed a crime by entering the US against the law, and fraudulent use of a social security number is a FELONY.  If our government actually applied the punishments on the books, these "undocumented workers" could be locked up for years.

Some employers are wholly innocent.  Save for those participating in Basic Pilot, unless the IRS sends them a "no match" letter to inform them that the employee SSN does not match the name, they may have no inkling that they are employing an illegal alien.  Refusing to hire someone based on ethnic appearance or other traits is unlawful discrimination (which even a cursory check will confirm).

The contractors that won't buy insurance on their illegal employees are the people that are ripping off our hospital districts .

Wrong.  A contractor may not be able to afford insurance (which is skyrocketing in price due in part to uncompensated care for... illegal immigrants!).  We owe charity care to citizens, we do not owe care to illegal aliens.

Citizens have flocked to apply for "jobs that Americans won't do" when illegals are removed from jobs at e.g. meatpacking plants.  Removing the illegals from the area has many positive effects:

  • It reduces public expenses for charity health care and law enforcement.
  • It opens up jobs for citizens, reducing unemployment.
  • It reduces traffic on roads, pressure on housing, consumption of fuel and many other things.
  • It reduces crime and increases social capital.
  • It helps to reduce the concentration of wealth.

The "negatives" are that the price of lawn care, restaurant meals and the like may go up a bit.  I think this is a good thing, because the people who eat restaurant meals (like me) shouldn't be subsidized by increased taxes and lower wages for the people who make them, or would be making them if they still had jobs.

I'm against illegal immigration (and excessive legal immigration) for the same reason I'm against subsidies and mandates for corn ethanol:  they both conceal and shift costs away from those people who should be bearing them.

The Mexican's pay their taxes. They are deducted and their employers then don't send them in, the employers are the persons who are guilty of not paying taxes. The Documentationally Challenged cannot file their tax returns and receive their refunds and have social security credited to their accounts. You are maintaining that the "illegal" immigrants are the responsible parties because they allow their employer's to steal? Does that mean that every crime victim is realy at fault because they allow the perp to do it? That sure seems like what you are arguing.

If you go to a lumber yard and see a contractor pick up a brown skinned man who doesnt speak good english, the guy isn't supposed to suspect his work status? How about the floor contractor at Walmart?, or the guy cleaning dangerous chemical tanks in a refinery for $8 an hour that can't read the hazard labels ? Nobody is supposed to use good sense?
How about the roofing contractor who doesn't buy workman's comp insurance because he knows his worker's can't complain when they get hurt?

The US is full of people who exploit the labor of the documentationally challenged and anyone else they can. If the jobs weren't there, the immigrants would not come. Guatemala and Honduras aren't full of Mexicans.
Bob Ebersole

It's not the employers. It's the IRS. The IRS has billions of dollars in unclaimed refunds, and probably a good deal of it belongs to immigrants who can't file returns.

The IRS knows identity theft is going on, because they see dozens of workers using the same social security number. But they have no incentive to reveal this, because the whole scam is very profitable for them. The illegal workers benefit, the employers benefit, the government benefits. Only the poor schmucks whose identities are stolen suffer.

Read all about it here:

The secret list of ID theft victims

The illegals are definitely breaking the law. They committed a crime by entering the US against the law, and fraudulent use of a social security number is a FELONY. If our government actually applied the punishments on the books, these "undocumented workers" could be locked up for years.

Ok, so you're a very strict law and order guy. We get it. And a poet.

And these brown people deserve to rot in jail for the crime of trying to feed their families. Sure, whatever.

So what's your take on the Shrubco criminals currently running this country into the ground? Think any of them should rot in jail for illegal warrentless wiretaps, or for lying us into an illegal war of aggression against a country that was no threat to us whatsoever and which has resulted in upwards of a million dead Iraqis just to name a few of their many crimes?

Did it really chap your ass when convicted criminal Libby got to walk, law-n-order guy?

Ok, so you're a very strict law and order guy. We get it. And a poet.

I have a hard head
I guess you wouldn't understand
All implications

And these brown people deserve to rot in jail for the crime of trying to feed their families.

Most of them had jobs which fed their families before they left home.  The burden of providing for those who don't ought to fall on the extraordinarily wealthy elites (which now include the world's richest man, cell-phone monopolist Carlos Slim), not middle-class US taxpayers.

So what's your take on the Shrubco criminals currently running this country into the ground?

Two years ago, I was of the opinion that they ought to be removed from office and tried for treason.

Did it really chap your ass when convicted criminal Libby got to walk, law-n-order guy?

Yes.  That and the refusal to answer subpoenas should have had Republicans handing up articles of impeachment, let alone the Dems.  Next question?

Ok. Your pro "preventive war" comments on another thread had me pegging you as a neocon so I thought you'd be an apologist for the neocon criminals running this country. My bad.

Most of them had jobs which fed their families before they left home.

Got any proof of that? Personally, if I'm gainfully employed I'd be unlikely to risk my life and freedom to seek employment elsewhere. Maybe those pesky Mexicans think differently.

Duplicate (deleted)

Got any proof of that?


Personally, if I'm gainfully employed I'd be unlikely to risk my life and freedom to seek employment elsewhere.

They do it for more money and because they're being pushed.  The elites are encouraging emigration because remittances are "free money" and they don't create any need to change the broken system which gives them such a cushy life at the top.  It's no way to create a strong middle class and productive economy which would challenge their power.

The best thing we could do for these countries is force them to reform.  But if we disregard the rule of law here (including immigration law, but not disregarding the Constitutional allocation of powers) we have no authority and may go down the tubes ourselves.

Yes, there are some racists who are against illegal immigration. This does not mean that everyone who oppposes ILLEGAL immigration is a racist. Got logic? Or did you skip that class and take Demagoguery 101 instead?

Let me give you a great example. One of my sons is marrying a first generation American girl whose mother and father are legal immigrants from Mexico. Our families are best of friends. And her father is hugely outspoken about how he opposes illegal immigration. He hates it and opposes it very strongly. Wow, a Mexican immigrant against illegal immigration! Imagine that! He MUST be a racist neo-con (according to the likes of you) though. Right? RIGHT? Actually, he's a moderate Democrat. Go figure.

You and your stereotypes disgust me.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Yes, your proof does one thing which shows that not every "conservative" or "libertarian" is in fact racist, only some (and they've usually got "science" in tow to back it up...) Aside from that I see no reason why it couldn't work the opposite direction, say a moderate Democrat who is a racist, which, umm, is what you described--but forgive me, my definition is wrong because--wait now I'm confused.

Engineer-Poet may like ESR, but is he racist? Who knows, or cares? "Racist" is just a word, like "God". You can define it narrowly, or broadly. People can decide for themselves how to define it... Conservatives who forcefully take "anti-minority" positions (black people are more violent than white people, brown people drink, rape and thiefingly plunder the middle class--and even crash into my car while I'm eating at a restaurant, the nerve, etc...) will often, yes, be accused of being racist by "liberals"--someone thank E-P for reminding me!

I don't think E-P is a racist, I'll take his word for it. He just is weeping a little baby tear for his poor wittle middle cwass. ESR is certainly a racist. Now if Engineer Poet responds to this and argues IQ, we may in fact find out if my taking his word was a good idea... He is certainly a techno-optimist cornucopian who is a dogged defender of the middle class (maybe aiming for the Lou Dobb hotseat, or maybe just merely the editorial dept of space.com.) Remember everyone, that's all that counts here on TOD is where you rack up in the "peakoil cult"--from Fail-Safe Dystopian Doomer to Immortality Utopian Rapturist, with Abraham and everything in between for dessert. Ah, if we can discuss a Mexican's proclivities to drink, then I can lower-the-discussion further (until E-P responds to this and proves me wrong.)

I'm just saying. Politically, everyone is a fucking idiot, so I'm never surprised when I hear anything anymore... I certainly won't be surprised to any response to this, and I hope no one responds, but alas, that's never enough to get what one wants.

But what can I say, you've pretty well shown your racism and ignorance of history.

Does this add to your racism list?

Update 1:13 AM: And with Google deleting videos critical of Islam, I have exactly zero reasons to support Google by directing my reader's eyeballs to them. So much for "don't be evil", eh?

Note to Google: Fuck yourself with a rusty saw blade.

Thank you for showing that you agree with the moonbat claim that Islam is a "race".  (The idea of physically changing race when you convert in or out of a religion boggles the mind; what kind of loon do you have to be to make or even imply that claim?)

Thank you for showing that you agree with the moonbat claim that Islam is a "race".

I asked "Does this add to your racism list?" Not at all what you offer a 'thank you' statement.

I'd look forward to your public apology, but given your ego, a statement of 'I was wrong' won't be forthcoming.

what kind of loon do you have to be to make or even imply that claim?

The kind of loon that is named Engineer-poet it would seem, what with your implied statement you offer a 'thank you' for.

Please feel free to go back to the egosphere where you can control what people say. Don't let the TCP socket hit you as it closes on your way out.

Thank you for the unsubstantiated innuendo.

Or perhaps you did not know that YouTube was ignoring complaints about jihadist videos on their site at the same time that criticism of Islam (including the very verses cited by the jihadists to support their claims of holy backing for their cause) were being deleted?  Did you or did you not intend to lend support to YouTube's actions by labelling the condemnation as "racist"?

Please feel free to go back to the egosphere where you can control what people say.

You can only respond to my pointed observations with slurs?  If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

I do sometimes think its better to be compassionate than right.


You must really be some sensitive "poet".

Elsewhere I've seen you laud the virtues of preventive war and here your nonchalant dismissal of millions of Mexicans the vast majority of whom are decent hard-working people just desperate to feed their families is pretty cold-blooded.

Tough love is my thing
Mexican kleptocracy
Needs to be fixed first.

sure thing, "poet".

All the argument about historical rights to territory simply illustrate the basic principle that Might Makes Right. And following this principle, if the Mexican immigrants overwhelm Anglo-Americans at the ballot box and do a de-facto re-taking of the American Southwest, this will be 'right' as well.

Tell them to Google "charge of the light brigade" LOL

I didn't put much stock in that "jobs Americans don't want" stuff until I talked to a minster from south east Nebraska a while ago. He said they had migrants and I was, like, WTF do you mean migrants. He said they were working in the fields, baling hay, etc. I said "Where are the local kids?" He said "They don't do that sort of work any more". "How do they get money?" "There parents give it to them."

This completely flabbergasted me. When I turned 12 I was a farm hand for hire and I worked every chance I got. I just can't envision kids not getting up out of the house and going to work. Its unnatural.

Leanan, it would be nice if it were so easy to do as to say. I worked on dairy farms and corn plantations during summers when I was in hs. Daylight to dark for .50c per hr and even for one that was young and in good condition it was very hard work. Shower, eat dinner (so tired that eating dinner without falling asleep was challenging), directly into bed for another 4am wake up and another long very hot day, 6 or 7 days per week (hybrid corn waits for no one, nor do cows). I dont think it would be possible for middle age people that have never done this type of work to suddenly decide to do stoop labor picking veggies in the broiling sun without lots of heat strokes and/or heart failures. Maybe it could be done if the people doing the work were acclimated to it slowly...say, working just a couple of hours per day to start and gradually working up to full time.

If they need the money, they'll do it.

Actually, a lot of the jobs illegal immigrants are taking are ones Americans are willing to do. Construction and meatpacking, for example. The difference, of course, is how much they are paid to do it, and the benefits (or lack thereof).

And the main issue with farm work (which I know is hard, because I've done it) is not the labor, but the temporary nature of the work. Yes, it's grueling, but there are many Americans who are willing to do it, and the pay is actually pretty good these days. What people don't like is that it's only a few weeks, then you have to move on. It's a tough way to live, especially if you have kids. Even the immigrants don't like it. (Which is one reason more and more of them are doing other jobs like construction.)

Many Mexican immigrants were drawn to Central Florida to pick oranges, cut ferns, and pick various veggies. As you point out the Mexicans have now moved into more construction jobs and are willing to work these jobs for less money. Even that picture in now changing for the Mexicans are getting more organized and, in some cases, are getting pay equal to that of anglos doing the same construction work. I do not have a problem with this situation but I am no longer in the work force (but I could be if the need arises).

The problem I have with it is that it allows employers to shift the costs of labor onto taxpayers. They ignore safety rules, because they know their workers can't complain. And if someone gets hurt, they just dump him off at the nearest emergency room, where taxpayers pick up the tab.

Right. It is the slave class they lost with the Civil Rights movement. The immigrants cannot vote. They cannot complain to the police. They cannot read/write. They have no rights and never will. It's perfect! (unless you believe in equality and justice).

Funny how the world works. The largest US oil reserves were all once part of Mexico and still bear Spanish names. A tiny twist of fate and the North American superpower would have been Mexico. And our children would be sneaking across the border to learn Spanish and work double shifts for half pay to send a bit back north to prop up a dying economy based on Pennsylvania anthracite.

California (Los Angeles, San Francisco) is something like the 10th largest economy?

It's better than slavery. The big drawback with slavery was that you still had to give them food, shelter, and clothing, even if they were sick, disabled, or too old to work. That's why many northern slave owners freed their slaves even before slavery was abolished. Far better to have wage slaves. If they can't work because of illness or injury, you don't have to pay them. When they get too old to be productive, send them on their way and hire someone else. Immigration provided an endless stream of cheap labor (before those blasted unions got in the way).

So the problem isn't really Mexicans, it's the lack of class politics.

So who here will cheer for the Zapatistas, the only ones who are arguing that Mexicans will never stop emigrating until there is a revolutionary shift in power? If you're really a non-racist who just wants the Mexicans to stay put, Subcomandante Marcos is the one who wants a sustainable low-tech future.

One Big Union!

So the problem isn't really Mexicans, it's the lack of class politics.

No. The situation is different now. When we were on the upside of the resource curve, immigration was, overall, a good thing. Now that we are on the backside of the curve, it's not a good thing.

I'll cheer for them. And they are not alone in pointing out that Mexicans will not stop emigrating until there is a radical shift in power. Cancel NAFTA. Repatriate our global corporations. If they can't make a living at home they have to emigrate. But we in US will do everything we can to prevent that shift in power, preferring to shoot them at the border if we can get away with it. [That will keep wages low.] But hey, nothing personal, it's just business.

Sustainable, low-tech future? We should be so lucky.

cfm in Gray, ME

Gtrout (Golden Trout, Gila Trout?)--
California is the 5th (or 6th, depending on which day of the week it is) largest economy. 25% of all food is also produced in California-- We have a negative tax flow (we are taxed at higher rates than money allocated, almost all positive tax benefactors are republican red states)---
With the leading tech, food, and Bio in the nation, we could do quite well without the rest of you--

Gtrout (Golden Trout, Gila Trout?)--
California is the 5th (or 6th, depending on which day of the week it is) largest economy. 25% of all food is also produced in California-- We have a negative tax flow (we are taxed at higher rates than money allocated, almost all positive tax benefactors are republican red states)---
With the leading tech, food, and Bio in the nation, we could do quite well without the rest of you--

And how would that be different from externalized costs in offshored manufacturing? They may not be hitting our ER's like injured construction workers, but the lead paint, CO2, and melamine come home to roost just the same.

Because if we don't see the slave plantation, we can pretend that it isn't how we make our profits. Gotta keep the meritocracy myth going, you know.

There's very little difference, but so what? It's not like there are a lot of Americans who support offshoring, either.

The turning point you talk of...will be after they realize there is NO MORE FREE LUNCH.

And that will be after much whining and asking for handouts...only after realizing there is no help will they begrudgingly head into those fields...if the farmers will have them.

It is the middle class that will be most effected by this and they will react as above...slow to come around and complaining the entire way.


Speaking of free lunches...they appear to be going to those who can afford to pay:

The escape of the enablers

Wall Street loves to talk about letting financial markets weed out the weak. But when the Street itself gets in trouble, it sticks out its little tin cup, asking for help. And gets it.

The subprime-mortgage-market meltdown is a classic example of the way small fry get devoured, but the whales of Wall Street get rescued. Here's the deal: People with crummy credit who took out mortgages are being allowed to fail in record numbers. The mortgage companies that made those loans are being allowed to fail.

The Street itself? It's bailout city. Even before the Fed made a symbolic half-point cut in the discount rate, it and other central banks from Switzerland to Singapore were trying to rescue the Street by injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial markets and announcing they will put up more, if needed.

Well, maybe they end up like the Weimar financial geniuses.

The Golden Rule: Those who have the gold make the rules.

Actually, a lot of the jobs illegal immigrants are taking are ones Americans are willing to do. Construction and meatpacking, for example. The difference, of course, is how much they are paid to do it, and the benefits (or lack thereof).


Give this person a website!
(oh wait you have that)

I note that few of the people who complain about the immigrants are willing to pay more for goods/services so that the jobs get better pay/benefits or get the laws on the books enforced.

Yup. It's like that JibJab video, Big Box Mart.

"I avoid credit cards like the plague," said Mr. Clean after the customer left. "It's just a means to track you and control you."

This Awareness indicates that the banking system is prepared to shift their economic banking system into a computerized system wherein all entities would use a card and a number rather than cash, checks or credit. [more]

Think about what that will do to your "relocalization" efforts. RealID, the NYPD report on "radicalization", the Fusion Law Enforcement Centers, Petraeus' divide and gate strategy, Emergency Management Agencies under control of federalized Guard. Hmmmm, I think I'll go out in the yard and build a bigger stone head.

cfm in Gray, ME

People are a whole lot smarter than they let on. When you see TV interviews in rural areas those guys are the ones who can't keep their mouths shut. Most of the sensible people out here are camera shy. They all sense something is wrong and all you have to do is point out a few connections and they look pissed, or scared, or they alternate between the two.

I recently gave this site's URL to the local propane & appliance dealer. He talks to everyone and if he starts putting things together it'll be like a shot of WD-40 on a rusty nut. Its happening one person at a time, whether the mass media is allowed to report on things or not.

Hmm, 2 out of 5 that the texas oil coast, etc. get hit. Worth a short term bet on oil prices?

Oh, and avoid Jamaica.

Click to Enlarge

This image was obtained using Google Earth using the tools given here.

The blue dots are representing the major oil platforms. Click to Enlarge


Looking at all of those model tracks...looks like it is pretty much heading straight for the gulf.

Might want to fill up a few gas tanks this weekend?

And if you live in TX to LA, would be a REALLY GOOD idea to verify your hurricane kit and plans.

BTW, very nice tool Khebab!

Some good news. Latest NOAA track (11 AM) shows Dean going over the center of Jamaica. 7.400' (2250 m) tall mountains there. This will tear apart the eye of a hurricane.

Local weather people say the key item is the interaction of Dean & Jamaica, models developed so far do not accurately model that interaction.

Best Hopes for the Blue Mountains,


Good news for whom? Certainly not for the Jamaicans.

From what I have seen, Dean should be only a Cat 2 when it hits Jamaica. A direct hit on the Blue Mts. (which are on the eastern side of the island) should shelter the populated areas more than a near miss to the south which Kingston et al being on the "bad side" of a hurricane IMHO.

A general rule-of-thumb is that a near miss by the eye on the bad side is as bad as a direct hit by the eye.

Best Hopes for the Blue Mountains,


Each forecast revision seems to nudge the projected track a little farther north, though. It won't take much more of a nudge to have Dean running the slot between Jamaica and Cuba. From there it is a straight shoot through the Yucatan strait into the GOM, and probably as a Cat 4/5 before it even hits the gulf.

I said a couple of days ago that I had a bad feeling about this one.

BTW, Alan, keep that Mercedes topped off, just in case!

It is about 1 gallon below full and I have two 1 gallon jugs of diesel (formerly Mobil 1 oil jugs). A nice thing about diesel is their fuel economy in stop & go traffic. With 8 hours of stop & go traffic I filled up north of Birmingham AL and got 30 mpg (and a side trip to drop off the three people w/o cars I took out). We will have more than 43 hours warning this time which will greatly help the evac.

Another nice thing is that 18 wheeler traffic dies down a couple of days before a hurricane hits and getting diesel is not a problem.

Best Hopes for well maintained old, low mileage Mercedes 240Ds,


I nice set of google earth tools.

Left it hits Cantarell et al. Right it hits Texas and the off shore rigs. Either or and the strategic reserve will need some raiding again given the low stocks.

Reaction of the markets looks invisible for what must currently be close to an evens bet. If we reach Monday and its still on track, what will the price be then?


Its at times like these the idea of the perfectly knowledgeable and intelligent market takes a battering.

Definitely a shift north/east in the new model runs.

BTW, folks, can I ask for a little self-restraint in posting huge images? Link or thumbnail them instead. Remember, there are still people on dialup.

Just to clarify...everything that's been posted to this thread so far is fine. Just wanted to put the request in before the really juicy storm porn starts rolling in. ;-)

I'd suggest that just after it passes Jamaica would probably be the right time to put up the first dedicated story and move it off of drumbeat. By then we will be just about ready to switch into all Dean, all the time mode.

Thanks for remembering those of us who still get the internet by way of "smoke signals" @21 to 26 kbps. John

I'm still Comcast, but every month I look at that bill and sigh. I know someday I'll have to fall back to dialup to save $$. And I won't be the only one. I wonder what I can get on the teevee with that antenna on the roof?

Some of us don't have cable or broadband options where we live. For us, it's either (now down to) 26K on a good day, or wireless.

Rat in the Boonies

Ah, but there are so many bene's to life in the boonies that I will happily give up cable and take satellite any day.

I did.

I'm no expert, but it seems to me from eyeballing the many historic hurricane tracks that I've seen that it is very rare for a hurricane to follow what is pretty much a straight line. Most of them do eventually swerve, and those that head into the Carib. from Africa do usually swerve North. I'm sure there are good reasons for this pattern -- just as I'm sure there are good reasons for the very few exceptions.

If memory serves, Rita was expected to hit the Texas/Mexico border, and it ended up hitting the Texas/Louisiana border.

Seems likely that Dean's future track will depend a lot on its forward motion, which has been pretty quick for most of it's lifetime so far. Unless it slows down it will probably keep barreling forward into Texas/Mexico eventually. But if it slows down it could turn more to the north.

I haven't followed friend Dean as close as some of you, but am I wrong in thinking he went to Cat 3 earlier than expected?

Hurricane Dean Strengthens to Category 3

Hurricane Dean strengthened into a Category 3 storm and tore through the eastern Caribbean on Friday, ripping the roofs from a hospital and homes, and flooding buildings with rain and seawater. A 62-year-old man drowned - the storm's first death.

With 125 mph winds, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season was expected to gain power over the warm waters of the Caribbean, hit Jamaica on Sunday and climb to Category 4 status before clipping Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It was projected to steer into the Gulf of Mexico by Wednesday, threatening the U.S.-Mexico border area.

I don't know if it was earlier than expected. Dean's intensification stalled out yesterday for some reason. (Dry air, StormTrack guessed.) But it got away from that patch of dry air today, and powered up very quickly.

Over the course of today, Dean has jumped from 105 mph winds to 125 mph winds. Note that Cat 4 designation begins at 130 mph winds.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Looks like they area calling for CAT4 by 2AM SAT.

Dean is really basking in those warm caribbean waters.

Dean was already Cat. 4 when you posted this message. :-)

The forecast I posted a couple of days ago indicated that Dean had the potential to strengthen considerably more than what was being "offically forecast" by this point in time. So no, it wasn't totally unexpected, just not widely discussed.

Everyone should be paying attention to this one. It may end up being a false alarm, but there is plenty of reason to be very concerned.

Markets open much higher because the Fed has cut the “Discount Window” rate by 50 basis points.

Fed cuts 'discount window' rate amid 'increased uncertainty'

The US Federal Reserve said Friday it had cut its discount window rate by 50 basis points to 5.75 percent citing "increased uncertainty" in the financial markets.

What is the Discount Window?

It is a rate available only to the 12 Central Banks and to their very best and most reliable customers. CNBC said this morning that only about 190 million dollars per day are loaned from the “Discount Window.” This is largely a symbolic gesture they say but symbolism means a lot to nervous investors.

Ron Patterson

Ron: Classic. "Very best and most reliable customers". Would this by chance be the same "most reliable customers" who are underwater and need help immediately? Since when did "reliable" become interchangeable with "connected". Possibly since Jekyll Island?

Brian, in all seriousness, I don't think Countrywide can walk up to this window and borrow a nickel. The Fed realized that something had to be done and this they could do without changing much of anything else.

Basically this was a move to stop the market crash and not to bail out the credit market. That may or may not come later but this is not it. This move will not help pay off bad loans.

Understand this is not my opinion, it is the line all the talking heads are taking on CNBC this morning. They could be wrong of course.

One more point that is my opinion and my opinion only. There is no such thing as a PPT other than the Fed. But the Fed is a very effective Plunge Protection Team.

Ron Patterson

No such thing as the PPT?

'Monday view: Paulson re-activates secretive support team to prevent markets meltdown
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 12:09am GMT 30/10/2006


Monday view: Paulson re-activates secretive support team to prevent markets meltdown Judging by their body language, the US authorities believe the roaring bull market this autumn is just a suckers' rally before the inevitable storm hits.

Hank Paulson, the market-wise Treasury Secretary who built a $700m fortune at Goldman Sachs, is re-activating the 'plunge protection team' (PPT), a shadowy body with powers to support stock index, currency, and credit futures in a crash.

Otherwise known as the working group on financial markets, it was created by Ronald Reagan to prevent a repeat of the Wall Street meltdown in October 1987.

Mr Paulson says the group had been allowed to languish over the boom years. Henceforth, it will have a command centre at the US Treasury that will track global markets and serve as an operations base in the next crisis.

The top brass will meet every six weeks, combining the heads of Treasury, Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and key exchanges.

Mr Paulson has asked the team to examine "systemic risk posed by hedge funds and derivatives, and the government's ability to respond to a financial crisis".

"We need to be vigilant and make sure we are thinking through all of the various risks and that we are being very careful here. Do we have enough liquidity in the system?" he said, fretting about the secrecy of the world's 8,000 unregulated hedge funds with $1.3trillion at their disposal.

The PPT was once the stuff of dark legends, its existence long denied. But ex-White House strategist George Stephanopoulos admits openly that it was used to support the markets in the Russia/LTCM crisis under Bill Clinton, and almost certainly again after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.'

Okay River, let me reword my assertion. There is no PPT that can do a damn thing about any plunge except the Fed. The market plunged for two weeks, dropping 10% despite the efforts of the PPT. The PPT gave it all it had and the market just kept on plunging.

Then the Fed stepped in with only a symbolic gesture and immediately the market recovers.

Your damn PPT needs to be overhauled because so far it has been a total failure.

By the way, the Dow was up 300 points just a few minutes after the open. Not it is up 80 points. Now 90 points..now... Come on PPT, jump in there and help us out.
Bottom line, the market will do whatever it dam well pleases despite the best efforts of any so-called PPT. Well, that is until the Fed opeans its mouth again.

Edit: Now the Dow is up 60 points. But you get the idea. The Fed needs to do something else, I fear, else the market will keep on plunging. Damn impotent PPT, their incompetence really pisses me off. ;-)

Ron Patterson

Ron, it isnt 'my PPT.' I simply pointed out that the PPT does exist.

I did not say that I thought the PPT was a good or bad idea.

I know that the Dow average went up and that it is now down, based on what the Fed did at the discount window.

I do suspect that the recovery of the Dow yesterday and in some previous days has probably been influenced by activities of the PPT.

I do not think that the PPT will be effective in a long term effort to keep the market from declining and I dont think that the PPT was intended to fight long declines.

Why are you attacking the messenger?

River, I am not attacking you and if you think I am, then I apologize. What I am attacking is the idea that there is some organization out there that can prevent the market from plunging if it so desires. My point is that any PPT may try to change the course of the market but they will fail and fail miserably. That is because buying and selling stocks can only have a temporary affect on the market. Any position opened in equities must, sooner or later, be closed. Then they will have the opposite effect as when they were opened.

Only interest rate changes can change the true economic situation. And even interest rate changes are, in the long run, ineffective. The market reflects the true state of the economy! Nothing will change that. If there are serious problems with the economy, caused by say high oil prices, then no PPT or even the Fed can fix that. But the fact is Fed action can halt a plunge even if it is temporary. Any so-called PPT can do virtually nothing. They are a PPT in name only.

Ron Patterson

Ron, I agree with most of your comments about the economy, the Fed and the PPT. I think that the idea behind the PPT was to make an organization that could stop a horrific one day plunge that was motivated by rumors causing herd fright to kick in...Sort of like giving your kid a 'time out' to calm down and time to consider their actions. In the long view the PPT cannot do anything to stop a slide motivated by bad fundamentals. No offense taken... :)

Ron, you've been extremely rude to many people for the last week. Chill out. Yes you are attacking River. You've been attacking anyone who has disagreed with you the least little tiny bit by getting personal and ugly and it's not becoming of you. I'd always expected better of you and hope to see better in the future but your reactions this week have not been amongst your better moments.

The PPT was conceived of as a way to try to prevent certain market actions from triggering larger reactions. What is going on here is clearly beyond the scope of the PPT except in the most symbolic sense. Do you think yesterday's 300 point rally at the close made any sense whatsoever? Neither did any other analyst who looked at it. Ron Insana even called it "too perfect" and didn't believe it. They'll continue using the PPT at every chance they get. If they can use the PPT to give legs to a rally, they will. If they can use the PPT to stunt a falling market, they will. What's more important here is the scope of the underlying trends. The underlying trends are larger than the PPT and may be larger than the US Federal Reserve. This may be where the Fed has gone wrong. The dollar is now the world's currency and it brings its problems to the entire world. The Fed can no longer try to rescue just the US. The Fed needs to rescue everyone else too, or we might get dragged down the same hole as the rest of the world.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Every techical analyst I know was predicting that rally yesterday.

Ron is correct. The PPT, though it exists, doesn't intervene to stop plunges. It is supposed to look at things like systemic liquidity -- structural reasons for crashes.

I certainly agree. The so-called PPT, and even the FED are pretty toothless at this point.

They can make small symbolic moves...but NOTHING they do can fix the economic unwinding *in progress* globally.

This kind of unwinding will happen over months (with a few big bangs).

And, their meddling does nothing for the folks losing their homes, jobs or getting hammered by inflation in the next 6 months.

Peak: IMO, you might be misinterpreting the purpose of the PPT. The assumption that the purpose of the PPT is to support the overall stock market is IMO without merit. The amounts of money "injected" are certainly enough to help along the individual wealth creation programs of certain players. More than enough.

Nope, I wasn't, I never assumed it could or would and I agree with you. But there is a perception that it will help. Hence, why I say it is toothless.

The FED move is doing exactly the same thing. In fact, most of the big players had thier trade programs set before the public announcement.

Anyone not inside their inner circle, will get obliterated if they hang around too long.

Well if Peak is misinterpreting the purpose of the PPT then so am I. Everything I have heard or read about this orginization is that its sole purpose is a Team to Protect against Plunges in the stock market. Get it, PPT, Plunge Protection Team?

Injecting money in a falling stock market will only hurt those injecting the money unless it is truly enough to turn the market around. But there is a problem there. When the market does rally, because of efforts by the PPT, then a lot of people will see that rally as an opportunity to sell. That will drive the market right back down.

Bottom line, if the fundamentals are causing the market to fall, then any injection of massive amounts of money into that market, will only cause huge amounts of capital loss. Because the market will, soon after the rally caused by that injection of capital, will head down again. Any buying to pump up the market will only help at the instant of purchase. The next day it has no effect whatsoever. If the market heads down again, more PPT action, along with more capital, will be needed.

The market reflects the fundamentals in the economy and nothing can possibly change that except a change in the fundamentals that caused the problem in the first place. Nothing could be clearer than that.

Ron Patterson


It isn't necessarily wrong...it's perspective.

The PPT exists, and can make short term manipulations.

But, it only can do so much against the amounts in play on the main markets.

So, definitely YES, fundamentals drive the market, and PPT makes short term moves which end up mostly in favor of the big trading houses.

No matter what they try to do, it will drift downward...slowly but surely. Until the problems that caused it are gone...and let's see what fundamentals are working against them:

1) Falling dollar
2) Rising inflation (both types)
3) Housing market still collapsing (no bottom in sight yet)
4) Oil prices and gasoline (with new problems on the horizon literally and figuratively)
....hmmm...probably missed some...but that is a pretty nasty list to deal with in the medium term.

BTW, in case it isn't clear...I agree with you, but not many will see the benefits of the PPT.

The so-called PPT, and even the FED are pretty toothless at this point.

a little sarconal ala the movie "Pulp Fiction"

Q: Whoose aircraft is this?
A: It's a helicopter, baby.

Q: Whoose helicopter is this?
A: The Fed's, baby.

Q: Who's the Fed?
A: The fed's dead, baby. The fed's dead.


No such thing as the PPT?

That's right - if there was that would mean there is a conspiracy - and Darwinian doesn't think conspiracies can exist/do anything.

George Stephanopoulos openly admits the PPT exists and had been used by the Clinton administration to manage the LTCM crisis. Paulson admits the PPT exists and is reactivating it and giving it a new central command center (last fall) to manage any emerging risks.

Yet you decide the PPT doesn't exist, Ron? Whatever. Denial runs deep, eh?

The PPT clearly exists. What is not known and will probably never be clearly known is exactly what the PPT does to "manage risk" in the markets. Can't have the poor saps know they are being manipulated now, can we?

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Ron -

You wrote, "I don't think Countrywide can walk up to this window and borrow a nickel"

This is incorrect. Countrywide has a banking sub that CAN indeed borrow via the discount window. Moreover, Countrywide has moved assets over to the bank presumably to use them to get cash via the window.

Countrywide is an excellent example of why the Fed did what it did: they got some extra liquidity to the select few who needed it most.

>One more point that is my opinion and my opinion only. There is no such thing as a PPT other than the Fed. But the Fed is a very effective Plunge Protection Team.

Congress also makes an effective PPT with Bailout Money (ie S&L of the 1980s). Of course there is always the world bank. Sooner or later will see them throwing bailout money.

It looks like there was a news leak late Friday afternoon about the FOMC meeting to cut the discount rate. A bunch of investors jumped on the news and turned around a 300 pt loss in the Dow and made a boat load. Yet not a single soul will be procecuted for acting on inside information.

Ron, Whether or not you believe in the PPT is beside the point, the markets HAVE had someone laying a "Finger on the Scale". I agree with this post from Nouriel Roubini's blog.


"For those of you going on about the PPT, you just don't understand how traders work."

Since I used to trade options - work me through this.

"Well, you got the Margin Clerk behind people banging on their heads and a run was made at it, and BANG to the upside!"

I understand they can make money on a short-covering rally. But here's the point. This was a market that should have crashed on Thursday. Even Cramer admits that. So who exactly threw LONG's in the futures market - when the DOW was down by 340 points???

Whoever "THEY" is ... the ones who can toss that kind of money in the futures market ... it sure isn't any ordinary investor. Either it's hedge funds with massive amounts of cash, prop desks with the same, or some other mysterious source with a ton of liquidity. No matter how you call it, yesterday was a day when the Dow should probably have been down by 800 (at least), and instrad it closed even. No way this is normal trading.

You need to ask yourself one simple question ... why did all the other global markets close down with major losses, and not the US market? It's a glaring anomaly.

Go and plot the data for the EUR/Yen currency pair over the last 48 hours. You're looking at historic events in the financial markets.

[sarconal alert!]

There can't be a conspiracy because the great expert, Ron Patterson, states that there cannot and therefore there cannot be! Got that? Any questions?

[end sarconal alert!]

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

There's strange things going on behind the curtain with the rates:

Curve Watchin'

Inquiring minds may be asking if this plunge on the short end of the curve is a signal the Fed is about ready to cut interest rates. Before we address that question, some curve watchers believe the Fed has already cut interest rates.


Yes, already. David Greenlaw at Morgan Stanley noted that although the Fed Fund rate is officially 5.25%, as a result of various Fed open market operations "the funds rate averaged 4.51% yesterday [2007-08-14], and then opened at 4.75% this morning [2007-08-15]. Indeed, the cumulative average for the 2-week maintenance period that ends today is 5.04% -- well below the official 5.25% target." Greenlaw went on to call this a “temporary” easing of policy on the part of the Fed.

The Japanese government has been encouraging its citizens to act like hedge fund managers...So, they have. If you go to the link below and check out the nikkei-yen tracking chart you will find see how closely the two are linked.


...snip...'I guess PPT was so busy here in the US, they were worn out by the time Tokyo opened:

The Nikkei tanked 5.42% in its latest trading session. Yikes!

The question, which no one can answer with any degree of confidence (that doesn't preclude them sounding confident when they say it), is this: When is this going to be over? And second, how far does $-yen fall?

One thing that seems correlated is the Nikkei (black line) and $-yen (red line), as you can see in the chart below comparing the two price series on a daily basis, though who leads and who follows is always a bit challenging:

Why would this relationship hold? One reason we can think of is all those local-currency traders - we sometimes refer to them as "Japanese citizens". This crowd has been acting hedge-fundesque for a long time, ie, Japanese citizens have borrowed their own currency in droves and sent it packing to places like Australia and New Zealand - just like the hedge fund guys. The difference is the Japanese citizens didn't get an extra 20% kicker to make the trade, as they were happy with the yield differential and the "fact" that this trade would last forever. We are thinking of the public-service advertisement from Japan to its citizens: "This trade is so simple even a hedge-fund manager without gray hair (read 99% of them) can do it and be a hero. Why not you?"

The Japanese government gets its own citizens actively to suppress the yen. Exports boom and all are happy.

Thus once again the most elegant words ever enunciated in the world of economics resonate:

"There's no such thing as a free lunch."
- Milton Friedman'...snip...

You realize Japan is half a day ahead of the US, right? Any action taken by the PPT wouldn't warp backwards in time to affect their market....

Yes, partyguy...I have crossed the international dateline on numerous occasions...And I lived in Japan for almost four years. My post was not about actions of the Fed.

What does your comment have to do with the Japanese Citizens and their heavy involvement with speculation in their own currency? Did you bother to go to the link? The main point of the link is that the Neikki and Yen are tracking very closely and there is an excellent chart showing this. The Neikki (and brokererage analysis) shows that not only hedge funds but Japanese Citizens are selling equities to cover their positions in Yen carry. The unwind of the Yen carry is making the Yen much stronger and causing Japan problems in their export sector since exported product will be more expensive in dollars and eventually other currencies. A more expensive Yen will effect Chinese exports as well because many parts for Chinese end product are made in Japan and shipped to China or made under Japanese license in China. All above factors will effect the price of widgets in the US and around the world...soon.

The Discount Window isn't a shadowy thing, it's been an authentic part of the Fed since the beginning.


Basics: depository institutions with the Fed can put down securities as collateral and take out loans directly from the Fed.

This is at a higher rate than the usual "Fed Funds rate" which is a pseudo-free market rate negotiated between banks daily (and fluctuates), but manipulated by the Fed. Fed funds is just overnight loans. Discount window loans may be for longer terms.

This is clean new money from the Fed---but with an obligation to pay back of course, with collateral the Fed will seize if it doesn't.

The fundamental question is "what collateral is acceptable"? Most likely the Fed has widened this to more kinds of securities that they can't easily sell on the open market but the Fed can decide to take, with some overcollateralization haircut.

No, you can't get a loan from the Fed, and hedge funds can't get a loan from the Fed. But the big banks and investment houses sure can.

In essence: the Goldmans etc will margin call the hedge funds who use them. The hedge funds puke and go under, Goldman is left with the securities, but they were worried about not being able to sell them at any good price, since the hedgies couldn't either. But this way, they can hold on, give them to Uncle Ben as collateral and get some cash and hope to wait until normality returns and the price they get is better.

If it works out, it's a good scam by the banks---they squash their clients, and may profit.

Yes, it's good to be a bank. Heads they win, tails clients lose.

Sure...the "Discount Window" is open to the "best and most reliable customers"...where the h#ll was all that money when New Orleans was falling apart after Katrina.

Alan...feel free to chime in here.

Hehehe! Dragonfly, what part of "the best and most reliable customers" don't you understand?

Ron Patterson

50 basis point cut at the Discount Window was over-reacted to by the cornucopians/bulls, classic bull trap. Just allowed those caught in who's eyes have been opened a chance to escape their positions.

Yep, and gave some cagey short sellers more upside.

Again...this is only a symbolic short-term move by the FED...mostly symbolic.

And, looks like it is working for today's trading.

But the medium term, out 6 months...this will have NO effect. And, in that same window we have several other events to watch for: Oil price spike/shock, massive number of new resets in ARMs, and increasing foreclosure rate. Sometime in that window, expect to see some Job loss and worries from the Big 3 as sales begin to slump.

While I find it interesting to watch the short term gyrations, this will pan out more like 1929 and take months to inflict maximum economic damage except globally this time.

And let's not forget, this symbolic move also damages the USD value. USD/CAD up 1.5 cents today already.

Ron, economics is all about sentiments, emotions and feelings. "reality is not what is real, it is what people think is real"

Economics is not a hard, physical science, but a social science. Hence the uncertainty if we are on our way to a deflationary or (hyper)inflationay state.

So injecting 300 bn by the ECB may have less, or even a contraproductive effect, than lowering rates by 50 percentagepoints for a small, very small, amount of credit. Perception is more relevant to markets then sound fundamentals. For now.

The discount window is not for the best and most reliable, rather the opposite. If a bank cannot borrow enough in the fed funds market from other banks they can appeal to caeser at the discount window. Borrowing from the discount window is the equivalent of asking a family member for a loan. Very bad form, and frowned upon - hence the tiny size of borrowings. This is indeed symbolic gesture intended to reduce the risk of unnecessary contagion, while not supporting bad loans. I think the fed knows we need a recession, they just don't want a steep decline curve.


KJC Read Mish's article today.

Here's a part about the Discount Window.

Moral Hazards by the Fed Continue


And once again the Fed refuses to let the free market work. Bernanke is no better than Greenspan. He proved it today. And the moral hazard of the Fed's actions are if anything likely to accelerate. But they won't work. Here is the key: There is both a decreasing demand for credit and a decreasing willingness to extend it. But there is a hell of a lot of pent up demand for cash. To understand the difference, please see Sudden Demand For Cash.

The psychology towards risk has changed and that is why Bernanke is doomed to fail. He can either let the free markets work, or he can risk letting this play out over 18 years like Japan did. Given his misguided beliefs about the cause of the great depression (more on that in a future post), his path is already laid out.

As for today, a lot of short covering fuel was erased in one fell swoop. But for all those fireworks (as spectacular as they were), the DOW is a mere +120 vs. yesterday. And there is nothing but a huge air pocket below, with economic fundamentals worsening every single day.

There was a good article in the WSJ Explaining the Discount Window

..... Fed officials hope that reducing the penalty rate associated with the window and lengthening the term of loans to 30 days from one further lifts the stigma and gives it a tool to supplement open market operations for reliquefying markets.

Open market operations, under which the Fed buys and sells securities to adjust the supply of bank reserves and keep the federal funds rate on target, primarily operate through a network of primary dealers, some of whom are large banks. Thus, they have only indirect impact as a supply of funds for the thousands of banks that are not active in the money market. The discount window however is available to any bank or thrift, and the terms are easier than for fed funds loans. For example, banks may submit mortgage loans, including subprime loans that aren’t impaired, as collateral, and many probably will.

The article points out how anemic discount lending really is: "Discount lending averaged just $11 million in the week ended Aug. 15. Although that was up from $1 million in the prior week it was puny compared to the billions of dollars the Fed has regularly injected into the financial system through open market operations."

The key change is the lengthening of the loan duration from overnight to 30 days. In reality the Fed did little more than put a Bandaid on a failing dike hoping to shore things up.

Mike Shedlock / Mish

I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. The currency traders are going to be very busy Monday morning.


Deeper problems
The delays at that reactor weren't caused by the bungling of some rogue bad contractor. They're symptomatic of problems in the nuclear renaissance story.

First, it's clear that the 15 years since anyone built a nuclear reactor in Europe have seen a major erosion of the engineering skills needed to build a reactor. Areva may have kept its hand in by servicing the huge fleet of operating reactors in its home country of France, but when it came to building a reactor from scratch, the company wound up working with inexperienced subcontractors in Finland because there just weren't any around with experience. And Finland is a country with four operating reactors.

This is exactly what Alan and I were trying to explain a few posts back about limited ability to ramp up reactor construction. I just didn't expect it to already be a problem. It is going to take time to build up a reactor fleet.

Also check out the limited uranium thread above. India is building a fast thorium breeder. It will be interesting to see how well it works.

Jon Freise

Analyze Not Fantasize -D. Meadows

Construction of the reactor hasn't gone smoothly. Areva and Siemens, the French and German companies building the reactor, have had to reforge legs of the reactor and pieces of the pressure vessel. Substandard concrete has been ripped out and replaced. It's turned out to be harder to manufacture the structural steel plates for the reactor than expected.

As a result, the Olkiluoto 3 reactor, originally scheduled to start producing power in May 2009, is now projected to come on line a year and a half late, in December 2010 [last week delayed again to 2011]. It's also going to be significantly more expensive to build than the $4.1 billion originally budgeted

Nuke can promise, but can it deliver ?


Here's another story:

Desperately seeking uranium

Against the background of the increasing importance of nuclear energy worldwide, French nuclear company Areva is short of raw materials. Experts believe this could presage a shortage of uranium.

The future of nuclear lies in Thorium which is extremely abundant. India is actually doing the most work on it right now, here's a recent story:


Google U-232. Thorium is a pipe dream, unless you willing to expose thousands of workers to lethal doses of radionation. Perhaps they can get away with that in India or China where workers are expendable.

The only reason India is working with Thorium is because they don't have a reliable source of uranium. They lose thier access when they violated their agreement not to use Nuclear tech. and materials to contruct bombs. India does have a large supply of Thorium.

The techonology is in its infacy stages, i'm sure traditional nuclear reactors had scores of safety issues when they first started. Give the engineers and scientist a chance to make the reactor safe before we call say its impossible pipe dream.

>The techonology is in its infacy stages, i'm sure traditional nuclear reactors had scores of safety issues when they first started. Give the engineers and scientist a chance to make the reactor safe before we call say its impossible pipe dream.

Sorry but thats pure Baloney. The US did extensive work on Thorium up until the 1970's. Indian Point (NYC reactor) as well as several other LWR were originally going to operate on Thorium, but changed to use Uranium because of the danger imposed by U-232 and other dangerous daughters produced in the Thorium fuel cycle. The Thorium Reactor was a pet project of adminal Rickover. All of the work done in India is based upon work done in the US decades ago. As I stated earlier, India is looking at Thorium because they don't have access to Uranium. If they found a source of Uranium in India, they would immediately abandon Thorium.

Of course if your willing to sacrifice yourself by becomeing a worker on a Thorium plant so the rest of us can crank up our AC's please feel free to knock yourself out. Some how I doubt you would be willing to expose yourself.

Of course if your willing to sacrifice yourself by becomeing a worker on a Thorium plant

He can't be bothered to do anything more than make a post and run away when asked to clarify, why WOULD he do something 'harder'?

I'd like more information about these Thorium hazards. It was my understanding that these reactors were inheritently SAFER then your typical Uranium reactors, due to the fact that they had little long term radiation problems, and no meltdown potential.

Forgive me, but I think your simply hyping up the known uranium waste byproduct problems into absurd extremes.

>I'd like more information about these Thorium hazards. It was my understanding that these reactors were inheritently SAFER then your typical Uranium reactors, due to the fact that they had little long term radiation problems, and no meltdown potential.

Please go ahead and researh it yourself. Thorium reactors are definately NOT SAFER thn Uranium reactors. The big reason why people suggest that Thorium reactors are "safer" is because it more difficult to produce nuclear weapons using U-233 (although not impossible). A bomb constructed using U-233 is very easy to detect because U-232 gamma emissions. In the case of Dirty bombs, it poses a much greater risk.

The main advantage of Thorium is that its easily to establish reactor breeding cycles compared with the U-238 to PU-239 cycle. Thorium has a higher neutron crosssection than U-238, and is safer in fast breeder reactors because Pu239 can go critical much easier then U-233.

I would trust the Norwegians to both mine and use Thorium in a responsible way. They are contemplating to develop Thorium reactors to make their enourmous Thorium deposits vauble to have something to export when their natural gas is exhausted.

Google U-232. Thorium is a pipe dream, unless you willing to expose thousands of workers to lethal doses of radionation.

Since you gave no specifics, I assume you mean that the gamma emissions of the U-232 decay chain make a thorium-breeder fuel cycle impossible.  To which I can only say...

Bollocks.  The spent fuel is highly radioactive from the fission products.  One of the selling points of the IFR was that the fuel would remain too radioactive to steal easily even after the fission products were removed, and it looks like thorium breeders have a similarly high difficulty of fuel diversion.  If you can't take fissionables anywhere without a heavy shielded cask, that's a good thing.  And the shipping and handling are no more difficult than the spent fuel from any cycle.


The future of the world is Nuts

In Woody Agriculture, crops would be planted only once in a lifetime. The use of woody perennials for agricultural staple commodities production would result in little or no use of tillage, as well as the presence of a permanent cover during both the growing and the dormant seasons. Not only would this lead to a vastly lower rate of soil loss and less runoff into water supplies and aquatic environments, but there would be a reduced need for the fossil fuels consumed in plowing and tilling. In addition, use of pesticides needed for the establishment of annual plants could be sharply reduced. A further important benefit would be the reduction of soil compaction, since far fewer trips through the fields with heavy equipment would be required.

Ridiculous! Have you ever seen the price of hazelnut oil on the supermarket shelf compared to corn oil? In the fall, hazelnuts in the shell sell for about $1.89 a pound. Compare that to the price of whole kernel dry corn.

I think that is mostly because of the sheer volume of corn compared to hazlenuts currently grown. But anyway this guy was comparing it to soybeans. Basically saying if you use dthe same area we use to grow soybeans with hazelnuts, you would get far greater yeilds and not have to worry about soil depletion.

antidoomer, anytime you remove a crop you have to worry about depleting the soil. Surely, you know that.

It looks to me like nuts (almonds in this case) are pretty heavy feeders: 130, 50, and 170 lbs per acre N,P, and K respectively, removed per ton of harvested almonds. You might be able to return a portion of that to the field once you've extracted the oil -- I don't know. But there's no free lunch here.

BTW, this article crowed about a 300% yield increase over soybeans but note that soybeans yield relatively less oil than a lot of other crops.

The difference in this stated in the article is with the nuts, you simply leave the tree in the ground and literally suck the nuts off the tree. With corn/soybeans etc, you're literally pulling the whole plant out of the ground at the end of the harvest. Trees are extremely far better for soils than soybeans/corn surely you can see that?

Yes, I understand the possible benefits of a tree/sod cover -- no doubt better than row crops from a soil erosion standpoint. I'm merely pointing out that nutrients removed are nutrients that must be replaced.

Sorry, I have a couple of agriculture degrees and if I had a nickel for every one of these happy-happy agricultural press releases (which is what this reads like) that I have read, I would be in tall cotton. They always seem to leave "the hard part" out. That's because they are usually thrown together by some wet-behind-the-ears Communications major sent over by the University's PR office. Most of these kids wouldn't know which end of a bull to milk.

I mean, criminy... read the last couple of lines of this thing and tell me that Mr. Andrew Leonard doesn't have his head up his @ss:

Imagine, hazelnut bushes, from sea to shining sea. Next time you're munching on some Cheetos while driving your SUV, think: Woody agriculture made this possible.

What a dork.

Like he said, the future of the world is nuts.

Sounds more like the nuts are already present.

(Badgersett is having a farm field day this weekend - perhaps I'll see you all there)

With corn/soybeans etc, you're literally pulling the whole plant out of the ground at the end of the harvest.

Wrong. The harvest is of the SEEDS - that is what a kernel of corn and a soybean is - a seed. Just like a nut. The roots are not 'pulled out' 'cept in the weird fever dreams of the techno-fixers who want to make bio-fuel outta everything.

The oil of the hazelnut is most like olive oil - thus allowing a localization of a healthy cooking oil in non-olive tree friendly locations.

Trees are extremely far better for soils than soybeans/corn surely you can see that?

Why don't you EXPLAIN how its better VS a handwave?

Basically saying if you use dthe same area we use to grow soybeans with hazelnuts, you would get far greater yeilds and not have to worry about soil depletion.

Is this based on your YEARS of growing plants? Or working with Rutter's cross-breed Hazelnuts?


I think using woody weeds for cellulose rather than nuts for oil may be even more sustainable. The shrubs could be coppiced or lopped to avoid replanting. I think there could be a huge crop failure with girlie crops like corn or canola in the next few years due to drought, insects (or lack thereof in the case of bees) or summer frosts. Woody weeds are survivors but can't survive being gasified at 700C.

I have read a lot of speculation about what might work in terms of cellulose production. Just curious ... is there any merit in using kudzu as a feedstock?

I posted about this last year, even wrote a small essay on my own blog.


Kudzu does not grow year around where there is frost, but growing it can be tricky because it has by it's nature the ability to jump the fence and grow where you don't want it too.

But being an edible plant for humans, it might as well earn better than it's rep as a pest weed needing to be torched off the face of the South.

I don't know anyone that has done any studies of it though. I have wanted to grow it for years, but have not made that final step yet.

As a side note read what all else Kudzu the Pest of the South is good for.


I think most people ignore pests, and don't take the time to find out if they can benefit from them.


Here is to learning more about the other 6,000 to 20,000 edible plants in the world.

My father-in-law brought "Chinese Yam Leaf" home from the supermarket a few years ago. Only leaves and stems - but he planted them in my L.A. garden.

These things are impossible to kill. If you harvest the leaves and stems above ground, the below-ground tubers will just chug out some more in a few weeks. My garden is now a complex yam leaf habitat.

I think this plant is related to kudzu - and every part of it is edible by humans.


Yams or what we know as Sweet potato, has a single heart shaped leaf. Kudzu has a stem and three leaflets. So what does your plant have on it?

A single heart shaped leaf. We eat the leaves and stems, but leave the tubers in the ground, so they can produce more greens. I've been told the tubers are edible too.

"Let them eat kudzu"

Blessed are the squirrels, for they shall inherit the earth.

GFDL model has dean hitting houston.... Do not even look its very scary :/

My question is how much capacity would be knocked out by cat4/5 hitting houston?


The continental shelf is a long way out off Galveston-Freeport, where a hurricane would have to come in. Its very unlikely that a hurricane coming up Galveston Bay would exceed a catgory 3 Houston is 50 miles from the Gulf at the entrance/exit of the Houston Ship Channel, which is at Bolivar Roads. However, the storm surge and flooding are a terrible risk, plus the docks here are the largest landing point for the crude that provides 68% of the US needs. Major gasoline refiners are BP at Texas City, Shell at Deer Park, Exxon at Baytown and the Lyondell Citgo Plant at Pasadena, maybe 10% of the US gasoline refiners and they are all very vulnerable. Storm surge could shut down the Port of Houston for several days, plus the workers will evacuate, paralyzing the whole process.

The LOOP off of Louisiana is the same deal, and it could be shut down too by a big Gulf storm, and even the strategic petroleum reserve is in salt dome caverns near the coast, and will have the same manpower problems.

You can sometimes see upwards of 30 tankers sitting in Bolivar Roads or off the Seawall in Galveston in the shipping lanes, waiting in line to go the final 30 miles up the ship channel. Any hurricane in the Gulf is likely to send them scurrying for another port away fom the projected landfall. It doesn't take a direct hit to really f*** the whole situation. Bob Ebersole

When this monster does hit houston it will be ugly, that's for sure. But if these refineries get knocked out will they be rebuilt at present output?? Why build it back for an amount of oil that won't be there, 2yrs ffrom now?

We might be heading for the cliff of PO in about a week, at least here in the US. The world will catch up in 2yrs.


If Dean, G*d forbid, hits Houston.

The WORLD will feel PO.

Prices for fuels will skyrocket and will be sold to the US/EUROPE at amazing prices and the Poor of the world will go without...further deepening the Post peak impact in third world countries.

eg. will India sell excess gasoline production to us or to Bangledesh which is 250 Million in arrears to them. Especially when prices are high.

Just another phase of Peak Oil. And *IF*, Dean hits a major production or refinining area, the rest of the world will feel it fast.

Why...oil, gasoline, etc are fungible.

They might like to sell us oil but if Houston's inffrastructure is destroyed we won't be able to get it in the pipeline. The pipeline will run dry in a couple of days or sooner if power is down. This will make Katrina look like child's play...

I would think that some early redirecting of shipping assets would be starting to get underway right about now. Anybody seeing anything yet?

And here's another thing to add in your calculations.

It seems that the gasoline supply is very low, close to the min level need to keep the pipelines in operation. When the 'cane hits Houston it might knock out enough capacity ffor a long enough timme that there will be Real Gas Shortages for a while. And this is going to happen in 2 weeks!! Stay home on labor day.....

The only thing I've heard was this, from Reuters:

Transocean Evacuates 11 Workers from its Nautilus Deepwater Rig Off Louisiana Coast due to Hurricane Dean

The company evacuated 11 workers as a precautionary measure. One hundred twenty five workers remain aboard the rig.


Only crewboats and helicopters take personel or anthing else on and off rigs. Crewboats can't operate very well in the Gulf in waves over 10 ft, they don't have the big ones that are in the North Sea.
Helicopters don't like to fly in high winds. So companies are going to slow their operations down starting about now , they don't want anyone out there too long so it would endanger them .Bob Ebersole

I realize that there is a possible linkage between peak oil and the current stock market 'crash' via the gasoline/realestate connection, but the financial unwinding from an overheated housing market was to be expected anyway. As a preview of how unrealized expectations can play themselves out, it is highly instructive, but we had one of these in the dotcom crisis not long ago.

What is far more perplexing is the potential loss that falls on those who assumed their houses had doubled or more while the average wage remained stagnant. When you factor in that over 90% of all buildings out there are functionally obsolete from an energy standpoint regardless of their age and potential structural lifespan, this is small potatoes. I now own a 350K house that I paid 150K seven years ago, and it's not really something any PO aware architect would consider building in this climate. That said, it's no worse than any of the others.

When I look out there or go down the road, how much do I see that has real future value or relevance? Precious little. Was there a well known alternative thirty years ago? You betcha, but it cost maybe thirty percent more to build. My friend's earth sheltered rancho that you couldn't have given away twenty years ago looks pretty good right now - to those who are awake.

But 'they' didn't tell us. They still aren't. Whether the market of the moment values the Dow at 12 or 13 is peanuts compared to the simple fact that almost everything out there is designed for an energy system that wont be around much longer and can't be replaced but only adapted to. What's my house really worth? Maybe ten years rent, or about what I paid for it.

So lets get back to PO and making other plans rather than obsessing over the vicissitudes of financial speculation.

I agree with you 100%. These stock market fluctuations are pretty small potatoes compared with Peak Oil.

Now there is a legitimate concern that if financial markets collapse then there will be no investment funds available for the development of alternative energy or for that matter developing conventional energy sources. I think this concern is misplaced. Because of supply constraints the long-term price trend of oil (and substitutes for oii) is up. That long-term price increase will mean profit opportunities for many, and so long as the Fed is around to keep markets liquid, I think there will be plenty of money to lend for and plenty to invest in energy projects.

It is noteworthy how effective the Fed action of lowering the discount rate has been in reassuring financial markets. What the Fed communicated with this move is: "We're here, we're on top of the situation, and there is not going to be a credit crunch."

Those holding short positions in equities are in a highly vulnerable position, and it would not surprise me to see a scramble for the exits as the shorts have to buy to cover margin calls.

There are things to worry about and things not to worry about. In my opinion, a credit crunch at this time is something not to worry about, because the central banks have the situation well in hand, and fundamental economies (employment, consumer confidence) are in good shape.

Thank you for a breath of sanity, Don Sailorman. Its looking to me more and more that we have passed the peak, even if its only Robert Rapier's "peak lite" , the marginal cost of production is skyrocketing.

The oil business is going to need $20 Trillion in new investment to attempt to stay even on production. The only sane alternative is stop wasting energy.


Its the cheap alternative.
Bob Ebersole

oilmanbob, I respectfully disagree. Over the past few weeks, we have seen coal mine cave ins, bridge collapses, steam pipe explosions, etc, and all of these things are very minor. At the same time they are systematic that our infrastructure is old and starting to fall apart. It will require significant resources to repair and maintain the current infrastructure. It will take significant resources to convert to a brand new (electric rail) infrastructure. Is it do-able? Yes. But please consider this...

Any "solution" will consume a huge amount of resources. At this point though we are reaching peak, oil, gas, coal, etc. One important thing is that that means that half of it is gone. There is only half of it left. For our purposes, that means that the half that is left is half of all there ever was and all there ever will be. We can burn a substantial portion of what is left to re-invent an replacement infrastructure which will extend our way of life in some modestly adapted form. This is a good solution for the next 20, 30 40 years? It may solve our problems for our lifetime. But...

When we are done, there will be nothing left, and what is gone will never return. There is no silver bullet to produce free energy. Even moderate solutions (renewable, sustainable, etc) wind, solar, bio etc, beyond the EROEEI, we have to consider the Energy requirement for the infrastructures. PV may light you house for 40 years, but where will light bulbs and new PV panels come from? Will Electric rail or any other solution going to still be viable in 200 or 1000 years, when everything is depleted? Is it responsible for us to solve this generations problems by burning the resources and then expect future generations to have to solve their own problems but now with none of the resources we have? We need to understand that we don't own the planet, we are merely stewards or shepherds for future generations. We really need to address the core problems of over population and extreme consumption.

I don't know the right answers, but I believe that the decisions and solutions we make will have a profound on distant future generation. I suppose that whether that is a concern or not is a moral issue.


alans plan is B.A.U. Light, any pain caused by implementing it will foster the false view that the situation is temporary. This will result in a huge Upswing in consumption on a similar scale of post ww2 after the short few years of forced artificial scarcity. it would be far better and far cheaper to just drop his plan and directly prepare for similar and perpetually getting worse shortages. Though i do have to admit i would have some satisfaction in seeing the people who were once happy about alan's plan chase him like a lynch mob in a decade or two when they realize it isn't working.

Am I to be President or lynched ? Or Both ?

I will point out that the failed societies of Liberia and Cambodia both made use of their railroads. Homemade rail carts took advantage of the low rolling resistance and mild grades and kept up trade between regions,

In Liberia, locals prevented those that wanted to tear up the tracks for scrap.

The future options are complex and ultimately unknowable. I remain confident that my plans will make things better than they would have otherwise been under almost any future scenario.

Best Hopes,


The US economy is going to have to decline to sustainable levels, which by my back-of-envelope calculations suggests maybe to 25% of present per capita GDP. A massive scale-up of electrified rail transport isn't going to prevent that from happening, but it may help us to level off at that 25% level instead of something far lower. If we do absolutely nothing, then we may very well go far lower, or even crash all the way to zero.

I will agree in some respect with you: It would be misleading and counterproductive to suggest that there is ANYTHING that can be done that will allow us to stay at the present unsustainable level. Unsustainable is unsustainable, thus we WILL decline. The best approach is to be absolutely truthful to people about the reality of coming decline (which means neither off the wall doomer porn nor cornucopian sci-fi fantasies), let them go through the denial and grief process, and then when they have finally made their peace with reality start talking seriously about realistic things we can do to make the best of it.

Decline or Change ?

It depends upon the metric.

I live in a small apartment with relatively low utility bills (level bill $39 last month), drive a 25 y/o car with low automotive fuel bills (5 or 6 gallons/month). I would like to build my own and go towards zero net utility bills, a bit more storage in a new home but about the same living area.

I eat well, mainly on local foodstuffs (the local cuisine was built on that plus stuff that came in on sail ships and the Mississippi River), have friends and neighbors.

I get to enjoy as much fine live music as I want :-) and the ambiance of a beautiful place.

I am happy and fulfilled despite the post-Katrina misery around me :-)

Compared to my two brothers I use far less resources than they do. And compared to twenty years ago, I use far less today.

Have I "declined" or simply changed ?

Best Hopes for Positive Change,


PS: I understand that it is FAR easier to change voluntarily than to have circumstances force the change upon you. But I am reminded of so many adults that grew up poor that say "We did not know that we were poor".

You've just done in advance what most people in the US are going to have to do in the future, in some form or another. For individuals, it may just be a change, and maybe even in some respects a change for the better. But in terms of macroeconomic metrics, it will most definitely be labeled as a decline.

This is kind of my point too: We have a long list of things requiring huge investments. I am talking about actually re-slicing the GDP pie, and taking a much bigger chunk of it for capital investment. It means not only spending more on capital investment, but LESS on all the consumer junk and government boondoggles -- less above and beyond what we already need to cut back on to bring our trade balance back to something sustainable. Can we do that? If this were WWII and FDR were in the White House and Americans were the people now that they were then, I'd say "probably yes". Now? Probably not.

Agreed from my POV. What tips the US into collective action, and whether it is still within our capacity, is the question that drives so much debate here.

(Annual Expenditure in $ Billion, U.S. 1944 Munitions Prices)

1935-9 $0.3B
1940 $1.5B
1941 $4.5B
1942 $20B
1943 $38B
1944 $42B

NOTE: Figures for 1935-9 are given as cumulative expenditured in the source, annual average expenditure in this table.
Source: Harrison, Resource Mobilization for World War II: The U.S.A., U.K., U.S.S.R., and Germany, 1938-1945, 184.

Now that's growth, and those are 1944 dollars.

From http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/BigL/BigL-1.html

It is noteworthy how effective the Fed action of lowering the discount rate has been in reassuring financial markets. What the Fed communicated with this move is: "We're here, we're on top of the situation, and there is not going to be a credit crunch."[..]

In my opinion, a credit crunch at this time is something not to worry about, because the central banks have the situation well in hand, and fundamental economies (employment, consumer confidence) are in good shape

In my opinion, this sort of comment is right on par with denying peak oil.

Japan's 5 largest banks have lost 12% of their market value in one week, European banks are predicting huge losses over their US asset paper (no matter the ECB's $300 billion injection), the largest US mortgage lender goes belly-up over the default of a mere 1% of its mortgages, there's a bank run developing in LA right now(A rush to pull out cash), but a credit crunch is not something to worry about.

How deep do the losses have to get before we call it a credit crunch? The central banks have the situation well in hand. Yeah, sure.

Financial markets fluctuate all the time without having much effect on the real economy. For example, in the first half of 1962 the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about half of its value. Impact on the real economy: Zip, zero, nada. When there are speculative excesses, then these excesses will get squeezed out eventually--and there will be a lot of tearing of hair in the financial markets. Financial markets are the tail of the real-economy dog.

There are genuine concerns about our infrastructure. But these are nothing new: The electrical grid and our bridges have been in bad shape for the past twenty years; clearly more real investment is needed. Some of this will be forthcoming, and in regard to bridge maintenance I think the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis is a wakeup call. But it would be a huge mistake to leap from that one bridge collapse to the conclusion that the whole Interstate System is falling apart.

Some people keep predicting that our electrical grid will go down. Well, it hasn't yet, and my guess is that it won't for the next dozen years or more. So long as we keep the grid up and electricity flowing I think we can keep the real economy perking along, even though real GDP growth stagnates and goes negative.

Now don't get me wrong: I take Peak Oil very seriously. I think there will be hardships comparable to those of the Great Depression. I think U.S. society is in bad shape to deal with massive structural unemployment, which I see as the most pressing problem to result from Peak Oil. How we respond to the challenges of Peak Oil will make a huge difference, and though I'm not a doomer, I can see where extremely inept policies could cause us to stumble into collapse.

But a liquidity squeeze and the tumbling in price of ridiculously overpriced real estate is nothing to get very excited about. In no way do the problems of 2007 resemble the severe problems of the seventies and early eighties. Back in those days we had prime rates at over twenty percent--now that was a nasty crunch. Currently credit-worthy borrowers can borrow plenty of money at low rates, and I see nothing on the horizon to change this fact. Viable energy companies will be credit-worthy as far as the eye can see, and there is every probability that massive amounts of new credit will flow into the energy industry as the price of oil increases. The market won't solve all our problems, but financial collapse is not one of them.

Over the next twenty years I expect extreme inflationary pressures to result from Peak Oil, and I expect that the Fed and other central banks will eventually succumb to these pressures and allow much higher rates of inflation. The higher nominal interest rates that go along with this (hypothetical) future inflation could be quite a problem, but all that is years ahead of us. For 2007 the prosperous parts of the world are doing quite well, though a few speculators and subprime lenders are being squeezed out. Every hedge fund in the world could collapse this afternoon, and it would have hardly any effect on the real economy.

You wrote a lot, but I don't see that you really addressed his post. The question isn't "does a collapsing stock market always ruin the economy", it's "if the country's largest mortgage lender is threatened by a 1% default rate, and with ARM resets coming in larger and larger numbers, what will happen to the whole financial sector and how will that effect the economy in general?" There are some very real threatening fundamentals here, and it seems like a very real question is, how exactly can the fed prevent all those ARMs from resetting at a higher rate, because if they can't prevent that, then a lot of banks, lenders, hedge funds, and pension funds are going to become insolvent, and that is nothing to shrug off.

If the whole financial system collapses, then the real economy gets into deep trouble. The point is that the problem loans are a tiny part of all the credit out there, and the troubled financial businesses are tiny compared to the whole banking system. Finance runs on confidence, and the Fed (and other central banks) are there to keep confidence in the system and restore it when it is shaken.

Bad loans will go sour. It happens all the time. The magnitude of these bad loans is not such that we should wet ourselves. So there will be a lot more foreclosures, and so real-estate values will go down substantially . . . so what? None of this is a threat to the productivity of the economy as a whole; the main effect is that a lot of paper wealth will be erased.

By way of contrast, Peak Oil is a huge threat to the real economy. Rising costs and decreasing availability of oil is going to do great damage to real GDP, unlike a few hiccups in the financial markets.

Note that if we did not have the Fed to restore confidence and add liquidity, then there would be something to worry about--namely a vicious cycle of worsening financial collapse. But there has not been a general financial collapse in the U.S. since the nineteen thirties--and why? Because the Fed is there and the Fed has the power and the will to prevent a vicious circle of financial collapses from getting going. As I've stated before, there is no limit whatsoever on the amount of liquidity that the Fed can inject into financial markets. Oil is real and tangible and limited and depleting. Money and credit can be created without limit from thin air. The Fed and other central banks are not shy about using their power to avert financial collapse; they have done so and will continue to do so.

And this is why the US will never collapse on its own accord. This is why the world relies on the US for stability. We can alleviate any financial downturn at the drop of a hat. This is why no one on the planet can threaten US dollar hegonomy. Because they are all intertwined in it. And this is why the current administration can be so cocky with the rest of the world. We can bring down the global economy or we can crank it up in a moments notice.

This can go on indefintely as long as the world believes that their future is intimately tied to the US' future. At this point in time, this game of chicken is being won by the US.

Yes, the Fed can inject liquidity to keep the financial system afloat. Or they can keep the dollar afloat. Doing both simultaneously would be a pretty neat hat trick. I doubt that they can do it.


You're right in about all you say, and he doesn't directly address much of anything, but he does end with saying that if all hedge funds would collapse this afternoon, it wouldn't have much effect on the "real' economy (whatever that is these days).

That tells me he doesn't know much about what hedge funds are, or leverage, and so I'll take this over to the Round-Up at TOD:Canada, where finance has more focus, and the discussion of it has more depth.

The real economy is real (physical) capital, real humans doing work and getting paid for it with real income, and real natural resources such as oil.

Hedge funds are no more important to the economy than is casino gambling--which they resemble. If all the casinoes shut down tonight, the economy would notice (especially in Nevada and Atlantic City and on Indian reservations) but it wouldn't be a big deal, because the hundreds of billions in casino gambling are small potatoes.

Hedge funds are about pieces of paper and how much they are worth at a particular moment. Whether they are worth a notional hundred trillion dollars or whether they are worth zero makes very little difference to rates of employment and to real GDP growth.

By the way, I've had my M.B.A. in finance since 1965 and have seen much worse times in the financial world than we have at present. Except for the tight-money crackdown by the Volker Fed in the early 1980s, none of these financial crises had much effect on the real economy--though many individuals were impoverished who had thought themselves wealthy based on unrealistic valuations of pieces of paper.

The financial chickens are coming home to roost, but the rooster crowing does not make the sun rise.

Thanks for your perspective Don. I think it is highly valued on TOD, esp as a "mainstream"-ie academically credentialed- economist who understands PO.

My concern with this is that enables further masking of peak problems and postponement of mitigation. Actions/statements of KSA this September come quickly to mind.

I think financial collapse would aggravate Peak Oil. We need gigantic flows of funds to support the exploration for oil, to support the expansion of nuclear energy, to support Alan Drake's proposals, to build more wind turbines, to keep our bridges from falling down and to keep up our electrical grid up and running without brownouts. With all their fluctuations and excesses, most of the time our financial markets work pretty well. The real estate boom was bound to be followed by a real estate bust, and there is going to be a lot of pain as people lose homes that they never could have afforded to buy with sound financial practices.

I'm willing to stick my neck out with a forecast for real fourth quarter GDP growth for the U.S.: I think it will be about 2.5%. It will be interesting to look back in six months to see what has happened to real GDP growth. The decline in housing starts and slow vehicle sales are keeping economic growth down, but I'd be delighted to see resources diverted from building McMansions into building rail and rebuilding bridges and into the electric utilities industry.

If the financial doomers are right, then we should be going into a recession pretty darn quick. I wonder if any of them will stick their necks out and make a specific prediction for timing and magnitude of a downturn. Eventually, of course, we will have a recession--but in my opinion the financial unrest of recent weeks is not enough to trigger one.

Hi Don,

I like pulling numbers out of a hat:

Over 24 months:

Gold to go nowhere (600-700)
Oil to trade between 50-80
Real inflation to run at 6-8% (which makes me question TIPS, which I otherwise really like ... I do a T-bill, short bond ladder thing myself)
U.S. dollar to hover around 80.
DOW max decline 10K (hence my stupid S&P 500 short bet). I just figured 10K would strip out some of the excess (like Apple at 40 P/E)

I don't know about GDP growth, but it might sink into a little recession for a quarter maybe.

Not too much doom I guess!

Your numbers might be close for the next 18 months, as we all know that all of the stops will be pulled out to keep things on an even keel through election year. 2009 might shape up to be a pretty scary year, though.


I like your experience,knowledge and perspective on the current economic travails. You're a hard man to disagree with, and I like that. That said, today's situation is a bit more unstable because I sense that an exponentially increasing percentage of the movers and shakers are becoming at least subliminally aware of PO and its long term consequences.

The fact that denials are hitting the back pages means it's on the back of many people's minds. The fact that there might finally be a physical limit to growth as we know it is lurking back in the recesses of many a celebrated cerebellum. The stall in Iraq, the stall on Iran, the stall in real estate, the political uncertainty of a lame duck president who doesn't quack very well - all this is leading to a reassessment of the upside potential, which is looking sideways or down. If all you have is sideways or down, T bills look pretty good.

That said, there is a floor, given the underlying market profitability, considering that the market P:E ratios weren't out of order to begin with. Thus, as the older and wiser heads have pointed out, there looks to be a buying opportunity coming up. I don't disagree, but by 2012 the reality of a new energy paradigm will be fully realized.

The optimist side of me sees a wholesale change of direction of capital toward efficiency and alternate energy on a global scale. There is no other side with a future worth contemplating and possibly not worth enduring either. Let's toast the future, and see the good in markets and speculation realizing its limits. It's all good - after they take the stitches out.

The thing is, though, that we need to be making huge investments in things like electrified rail transport, renewable energy (& maybe nukes), enhanced recovery of conventional FF & exploration & extraction of unconventional FF, infrastructure maintenance, etc. I am talking about real reallocation of real GDP here, and a lot of it. Having the financial markets jerking back and forth is not creating an environment conducive to those types of investment decisions.

Get a bigger rooster.

Don, good to "talk" again.

The most potentially devastating problem with derivatives as I see it is counter party risk. If I as a hedge fund manager I believe that I have prudently managed my net exposure by hedging and things start to lock up I am still in a world of hurt. Many of my winning positions and winining hedges are defaulted by my counter parties, but I still have to pay off on my losing positions if I pay our anything to anyone or commit what I believe is still called an "act of bankruptcy." If I pay off I am insolvent even if I have a theoretical net worth. Either way I am probably history even if I was on the right side of the trade.

Multiply that by the whole hedge fund industry and assume [safely] that a lot of leverage [debt] was employed and you have a real problem that goes far beyond the funds.

What we seen until now is only a wee bit of "repricing" of debt that did not deserve the rating implied by the low interest rate. The quality did not support support the price. The interest rates made enabled home ownership at inflated prices by unqualified buyer. Those increased prices which were paid by qualified as well as unqualified buyers. Absent a giant down payment, a qualified buyer isn't really qualified as the assumption is made that the market price will cover almost all of any loan balance. On an lenders books a few small deficiency are just part of the cost of doing business. What happens when if the prime loans start to go bad in volume after the force liquidation of the subprimes.

It is hard for me to be as sanguine as you seem to be about the potential for this to devolve into a long slow disaster.

In the absence of a general financial panic there is no reason to expect the problems of subprime lending to spread to prime lending. So the liars' loans go under and there is a heap more foreclosures--yes, that is going to happen. More foreclosures are going to put downward pressure on the price of all housing--true. But from a weak housing market to generalized financial panic is a huge leap. The point I keep hammering on is that the Fed and the other central banks have the power and the will to prevent a general financial panic, and in the absence of panic the various financial messes will sort themselves out.

My house is worth about ten or twelve percent less than it was a couple of years ago. Now if I were planning to tap into my house like an ATM, I'd find this fact upsetting--but for me and a hundred million others a house is a place to live and not a source of increasing wealth to be tapped into.

I worry a lot more about what Hurricane Dean could do to our economy than I worry about hedge funds going bust. Suppose that all hedge funds and all derivatives vanish--so what? Financial markets got along perfectly well without them not too many years ago. Some big lenders are going to get haircuts, but to the best of my knowledge there is not one single bank in the U.S. that is at risk because of recent turmoil in financial markets.

Don, although leverage varies dramatically, in a total bust the losses by a hedge fund's creditors can be many times the losses by the hedge fund's investors. So if the hedges funds all went belly up tomorrow, the losses would be bound to damage some of the big financials and might destroy the faith that is about all there ever is between an equity market and its next panic.

Also, as you recognize, part of the reason prime mortgages [which are showing greater delinquencies now] are a much better risk is the underlying assumption that a prime borrower in a worst case situation still has the ability to hold on long enough to liquidate at a price that will cover the amount owed or least result in a deficiency they can continue to service.

There were prime loans made where the down payment was roughly zero and if loan was made just before the housing market turned the home owner is already upside down. Do I expect to see prime loans go bad in great numbers? "No or at least hopefully not" In increased numbers? "Yes" With deficiencies that exceed the borrowers reduced ability to service the remaining debt? "Yes" How frequently? "?"

Is someone who a year ago thought their primary residence was going to appreciate 15 or 20 percent a year for the next 5 years and now discovers that they are upside down more or less likely to shop till they drop? "Less" How much less? "? [as soon as people stop believing the median numbers from NAR or the decline starts to look like a mirror image of the advance]??"

I hope you are correct about the big banks. I believe JP Morgan is the canary in the coal mine and it is still singing, but it then again it might be a regional or maybe a bank somewhere in France???


When I got back from Michigan last month I had a bunch
of Canadian dollars I needed to exchange, so I went to the
currency exchange window at the local bank.

Short line. Just one guy in front of me...an Asian guy who was
trying to exchange yen for dollars and he was a little irritated!

He asked the teller, "Why it change?? Yesterday, I get two
huna dolla fo yen. Today I get huna eighty?? Why it change?"

The teller shrugged her shoulders and said, "Fluctuations".

The Asian guy says, "Fluc you white people too!"

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop now. The dollar will have to take a big hit, and soon. Because of the time difference and it already being the weekend in Asia, I wouldn't be surprised if Monday was a pretty "interesting" day in the currency markets.

This was posted one year ago, this month.

Published on 21 Aug 2006 by GraphOilogy / Energy Bulletin. Archived on 21 Aug 2006.
Net Oil Exports Revisited
by Jeffrey J. Brown

A Proposed Triage Plan

I believe that vast expanses of American Suburbia are going to become virtually abandoned in the years ahead. Alan Drake has noted that a good deal of suburbia was so poorly constructed that a lot of it is biodegradable. Alan has outlined how we can go back to what we used to have: electric trolley cars connected to electric light rail lines.

CBS Sunday Morning, on 8/20/06, had a segment on "tiny houses." They profiled a home designer and builder who specialized in building very small functional homes of about 100 square feet. You can find more information on his website.

What this builder has realized, and what millions of Americans are just beginning to also realize, is that anything over 100 square feet or so per person is not a necessity; it is optional consumption, a want, instead of a need.

The US is not Switzerland, but Alan Drake has described how Swiss per capita oil consumption in the Second World War was about 0.25% of current US per capita oil consumption. They did it primarily by electrifying their transportation system.

I propose a sort of triage operation: "tiny" homes and multifamily housing along electric mass transit lines. In my opinion, it is the only way that we can preserve some semblance of a civilized society. The suburbs are, by and large, a lost cause.

As I have said, as in the movie "The Sixth Sense," for most of us the suburban way of life is dead, but most people don't know it yet, and they only see what they want to see.

I think that we are entering the "Primal Scream" mode, where people will scream that there has to be a way to save our auto centered suburban lifestyle.

I think that we need to be ready with a plan to try to make things "Not as bad as they would otherwise have been," when the majority of Americans realize that we can't have an infinite rate of increase in the consumption of a finite energy resource base. And in my opinion, Alan Drake has the most credible plan. He simply and patiently explains how we used to get around with minimal oil input.

The central banks can inflate the money supply from here to the moon, but they cannot create a single BTU of energy. A severe economic contraction, as a result of the continuing contraction in net oil exports worldwide, is not an "If" event, it is a "When" event. IMO, the vast majority of outstanding debts worldwide will be paid by the creditors, when the debtors can't pay (or pay back the loans with hyperinflated currency).

amen. (edited for brevity)

Interesting article regarding water supply in Las Vegas.


Perhaps in the near future the whole city will have to be abandoned.

I had my highest water bill ever last month, $9. My typical bill is $6 or $7 dollars. I think we use typically use approximately 100/gal per day, but since July was so hot, we ended up watering our plants more than usual. I consider our water bill to be quite a bargain considering we wouldn't be able to live here without out! We visit Lake Mead about once a week for boating. Each time we go there, the water level has visibly dropped.

Supposedly conservation has led to a 500 million gallon savings over last year. I would like to see a sharp increase in the cost of water to decrease usage (likewise an increase in electricity and gasoline costs), but that has the same popularity as suggesting that people obey the speed limit.

Until people really have to pay what these resources are worth, they will continue to use them like there is no tomorrow.

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. -- Thomas Jefferson

Pie Town Dugout: 1940

Before industry and technology gave us sawmills and frame houses, this is how the average person lived in much of the world. The dugout or pit house, with sod roof, log walls and earthen floor, is among the most ancient of human dwellings -- at some point in history your ancestors lived in one. Especially popular among 19th-century settlers in the Great Plains and deserts of the West and Southwest, where trees and other building materials were scarce, dugouts were warmer in winter and cooler in summer than above-ground structures; just about anywhere in North America the ground temperature three feet down is 55 degrees regardless of the season.

The Dugout Soddy

But life in the cabin would have been challenging. When it rained for an extended period, the sod acted like a giant sponge, then leaked big drops of dirty water. Spring and summer would have made their home a haven for insects and rodents. Small wonder at some point they fastened canvas oil cloth on the walls to keep dirt out of the dwelling.

I'm not sure my house is any more obsolete energy-wise than it was when it was built 175 years ago. In most ways it is far less energy efficient than most modern houses (at least until they fall apart). What has really changed the most is our expectations of how warm a house should be in the winter, and how cool in the summer. Sweaters, quilts, sleeping porches, etc. - we need to re-learn how people lived in the past.

Twilight, there are a couple of interrelated problems with your assumptions about your ability to heat your house: modern population densities and the amount of firewood that early Americans had at their disposal.

This link states “In fact, by the late 1700s the average American family consumed between 20 and 40 cords of wood each year.”

Here is a link that documents life in Ipswich, MA and they cite a figure of 15 to 25 cords ("...based on larger eighteenth-century houses. For smaller houses of the seventeenth century, 15 cords per year per house is probably closer.”)

“If the number of commoners in Ipswich in the last decades of the seventeenth century accounted for about two hundred houses, then combined they would have burned about three thousand cords of wood per year – a pile of wood 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 4.5 miles long.”

“Forty cords is commonly used as the volume of cordwood on an acre of New England forest. If two hundred houses each burned fifteen cords of firewood a year and there were forty cords on the average forested acre, then each year 75 acres would have to be cleared for fuel.”

Of course, that was then. No one burns 10 cords of wood per year. In fact, I heat my house in central New Hampshire (a chilly clime) with around 4 cords/year, which I obtain from my own 15 acres of woods.

The average acre of woodland in New England puts on about 3 cords/year, BTW. My land could easily and sustainably supply 10 households, given modern stoves. So let's don't talk about capital, let's talk about interest, as it were.

Which isn't to say that the teeming millions can all burn wood.

When I was researching how large a woodlot I would need to be relatively sustainable for heating my house, the VT forestry department told me that the forests put on about 1/4 to 1/2 cord per year. 4 cords seems awfully high. But there is certainly a lot of deadfall that could be used to heat houses up here without even getting into felling trees (though we may be back to logging with horses).

Well, 3 cords/acre/year was what I learned in Forestry School back in the day. (That would be good ol' UVM Forestry School, by the way! BS in Forest Management and MS in Forest Ecology). I'll say this - I haven't come close to tapping my woodland's productivity.

Just for the record, I actually do log my land with a horse :-) Big ol' Percheron mare. Gets the job done, no problem.

Well, my source was anonymous and over the phone, so I will defer to your expertise and decide I grossly overbought a woodlot (which is okay, I would rather have too much than too little). What's your opinion on logging with horses versus oxen.

Well, I have to agree with you on the too much rather than too little! Perhaps, as the years roll by, you will get a feel for your particular woodlot's productivity. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, on the upside.

As far as horses versus oxen, quite frankly I have never worked with oxen, so I can't give a useful opinion. Horses are faster, though. I can't say I've really thought too hard about all the pros and cons.

I love working with my horse, but this is not a "production" thing - I just pull what I need myself. But there are a lot of folks in VT and NH logging commercially with horses now. Even some folks that do "conventional" skidder work might have a team for cleaning up or tight areas of work. The right tool for the job, is what I say.

Where are you in VT? I miss the Green Mountains sometimes...

I'm a little southeast of Montpelier so not quite into the Green Mountains. But I'm in a fairly narrow valley with ridges on both sides. My woodlot is 60 acres and is on one of the ridges. It has a section of white pine, a middle valley that is predominantly ash and birch and an upper valley that is predominantly maple and beech. I have a Wood-mizer so am learning to skid logs (using a fairly low impact arch pulled by a glorified ATV) to mill into timbers to use to build my outbuildings and do restoration work on my barn. But even with using timbers for building, firewood for heating the house, and firewood for firing my sugaring arch and the sauna, if I am getting 3 cords/acre, I don't think I will make much of a dent in my wood production.

Ultimately I would like to shift from using the Ranger to using horses or oxen to skid logs. How did you get started with horses?

"How did you get started with horses?"

To make a long story short... Fairwinds Farm in Brattleboro does draft horse workshops that are excellent - I whole-heartedly recommend them. They are at fairwindsfarm.org.

BTW, you don't need to own a horse to take one of their workshops. Check 'em out!

I don't for a moment think that our entire population could revert to the methods of the past wholesale. There is clearly not enough wood - and while I do heat with wood (because I have enough), that was not actually in my comment at all. My point was that one way to reduce energy consumption would be to change our expectations of how warm a house must be, for instance. Even if you heat with NG, if you turn the thermostat way down, you will use much less.

The fact of the matter is that I do not see any solutions that can be extended to 6.5M people and work. That is the essence of the problem.

The fact of the matter is that I do not see any solutions that can be extended to 6.5M people and work

What about the minimum German standards for new housing (R-49 walls, triple glazing Low-E, maximum standards of % windows, etc.) arranged in 2+2 4plexs or larger for miniumum exposed area ?

Or PassivHaus standards ?


Could we reduce heating demand to match available wood ?

Best Hopes for maximum efficiency,


Could we reduce heating demand to match available wood ?

A good design would need 'no' wood, as it can make it with passive solar. Add a bit of active solar for hot water (and building heat) and the 'heating need' looks to be addressed.

Oh, and a dope slap upside the head that 'a constant temp of X' is something you can have with the old cheap energy model.


I think it would be very difficult to use only passive solar design. My house is passive solar, but I put in a masonry heater as my primary heat source with a geothermal heat pump as my back-up system. I haven't been through a winter yet in the new house though, but I am hoping to use considerably less than the 4 cords previously mentioned.

One big problem with shifting even to passive solar homes is capital, just like the idea of converting the 230 million cars and trucks in our light vehicle fleet to hybrids. But there are certainly low cost aids to help heat homes with solar and lessen the need for oil, wood, or electricity.

I think it would be very difficult to use only passive solar design.

Not at all. Many homes are being built with the passive solar only for heating.

What you are doing is placing the expectation that the heat will stay constant and the level 'we' are used to.

Go back in history and look at the 'typical room temp' of the past.

One big problem with shifting even to passive solar homes is capital,

Yes. The present housing stock is screwed, no doubt.
The 'lowest cost' I've come to to add solar is to use evacuated glass collectors and radiant floor heating to leverage that solar heat.

Above ground, even passive solar would be very location specific. Here in the northeast, I can't see it happening. If we went to underground, where you are already starting around 50 degrees, maybe. For existing houses with wells (depending on depth) for their water supply, shifting to vertical standing water column geothermal could be done and would save a lot of energy.

At least for us folks in the southeast, I believe that a feasible strategy for sustainable residential heating would be: max energy efficiency retrofits everywhere + passive solar retrofits where possible + efficient wood stoves in rural areas & small towns + PV-powered geothermal heat pumps OR biogas-fueled efficient furnaces in urban areas (primary) and as backup in rural areas & small towns. This formula should work to assure that wintertime interior temps in the southeast can be kept at REASONABLE levels (maybe ~65F?); I'm not so sure about other parts of the country, especially where passive solar is of minimal value and wood is too scarce. People up north might have to reconcile themselves to more like 50-55F, which means wearing plenty of wool all winter.

There was an article about firewood posted around a month ago. Basic point: everyone can't heat with wood, not enough of it. Some people could, though. Turns out that the southeast looks to be best positioned for significant numbers to heat with wood: large forests + mild climate.

Here in WNC, it is almost insane to NOT have a woodstove, at least for emergency heat.

It was not uncommon back then for homes to have had more than one fireplace. Add to that the fact that the fireplaces would have been very inefficient, the houses drafty and uninsulated, and the climate colder, and it is no wonder that they had to burn that much wood just to keep from freezing.

The Franklin stove was a great step forward in efficiency and a GREAT boon to a wood burning nation. Another almost forgotten contribution by this Great American.

Franklin placed the design in the public domain, as he did with all of his other inventions, and refused offers by others to obtain patents for him. He clearly indicated in his writings his preference in such matters: "... as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."

Tales of the origins of the stove mention Franklin's desire to attain a greater degree of domestic comfort, fireplaces having then too many inconveniences. At the time, Philadelphia, where Franklin lived, was the biggest city in British North America and that wood was becoming scarce and costly, given the ever rising demand and the high cost of transporting it. His stove was described by his contemporaries as giving off twice the amount of heat as a normal fireplace for a third of the wood consumed

Best Hopes for Public Spirit and Useful Inventions,


An amercian tradition I find dumb is to have a big heavy chimney outdoors next to an external wall. You heat all that masonry, it stores energy and then it heats the outdoor air...

But they are perhaps PVC fakes? ;-)

The Swedish tradition is to have the chimney in the middle of the house and also use the heat energy to get self draft ventilation. Manny of those houses were converted to oil heating and then pellet burning or back to firewood heating. They are not recommended for ground source heat pumps since the basement and need the "waste" heat to not get damp and the ventilation needs a warm chimney to work.

The next generation of small houses built for oil heating dident realy need such an expensive chimney and forced ventilation were staring to be used. Those were easy to convert to pellet burning, ground source heat pumps or district heating.

Anyway, if you build a heavy chimney take the opportunity for some free energy storage and non electric ventilation.

In the case of pioneer log cabins, the chimneys were often little more than uncemented stones piled on top of each other. Put the chimney in the middle of the cabin and you have a cabin filled with smoke.

Speaking generally, New England fireplaces were more often central while in Southern homes they were on outside walls. You might build a Cape Cod "half" house with a hearth to one side, then add a room on the other side of the hearth later.

In newer American tract homes, the fireplace is often a metal firebox and a double-walled metal flue covered with siding.

So lets get back to PO and making other plans rather than obsessing over the vicissitudes of financial speculation.

They are having a chat over here

Good add'l data.

And at http://www.financialsense.com/fsn/2006.html

Re: UAE story on the field shutdowns, at the top

Sounds a lot like the Prudhoe Bay partial shutdown doesn't it?

I'm guessing, but I suspect that they may have corrosion problems because of rising water production in the UAE.

As I have said a zillion times, these large water drive reservoirs are on their way to where the East Texas Field is now--a skimming operation with a 99% water cut.

I haven't seen much, if any, mention here of the ongoing tragedy at the coal mine in Utah. As most of you probably know by now, three brave men died last night trying to rescue their comrades. I know I speak for all of us here at TOD in wishing all the best for their families and a speedy recovery for those injured. In a world of phony "heroes", these men and their families truly deserve the label.

It's truly sad how few Americans understand that these men gave their lives to keep our lights on.

My limited understanding is that it's risky digging coal 1800' down, that "bumps" are a predictable occurence as the coal columns yield, and that those involved knew all this.
Sure, it's a tragedy. But so are the deaths of the more than one hundred Americans who will die in motor-vehicle accidents TODAY. Mining is dangerous work, but so is construction, and doesn't mining pay a whole lot better?

My limited understanding is that it's risky assuming subprime mortgages, that "bumps" are a predictable occurrence as the ARMs reset, and that those involved knew all this. Banking is dangerous work - but so is mining, and don't expect the Fed to come crashing in with helicopters to save you if you get trapped after a cave-in.

"..these men gave their lives to keep our lights on."

I don't question the heroism of these rescuers, but that statement shouldn't have their context misread as their intention. They died to save their neighbors, to do their duty to their community. Coal miners die in a calculated gamble at a very dangerous profession. They are miners because it's a job and probably an identity for many.. but this is not the engineers juggling fuses and getting electrocuted in the Titanic's engine room to 'keep America lit'.

It IS sad and precarious that we are so blind to what are the 'postponed externalities' that we will be billed for later, and just take the lights and computers running totally for granted today.

Oil, gas up on hurricane worries

Energy futures rose Friday, rebounding from a big drop a day earlier as some new forecasts said Hurricane Dean will turn into the central Gulf of Mexico and threaten oil and gas installations.

News was mixed on the refinery front:

September gasoline rose 3.57 cents to $2.014 a gallon, and heating oil added 2.52 cents to $2.0081 a gallon. Gasoline and heating oil were following oil's lead, but were also boosted by word of a fire Thursday at Chevron's 330,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Pascagoula, Miss., and news of an unexpected equipment shutdown at Valero Energy Corp.'s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery.

Countering that news was an announcement that a 108,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Coffeyville, Kan., that closed after a June flood, is in the process of restarting. The refinery's closure had been blamed for early July gas price spikes in the Midwest.

Chevron spokesman Steve Renfroe said the Pascagoula refinery lost one of its two crude processing units, but declined to say how much gasoline production has been lost. Damage is still being assessed, he said. Dow Jones Newswires reported the unit can process 150,000 barrels of crude per day.

Looks to me like it rained at the north pole last week:


This does not look ANYTHING like I would have expected the North Pole to look like in mid summer.


Compare that to the photos Commander Peary took.

Note the external temperature. Above freezing.
Wow indeed.

If you poke around on that site more you can get graph of temps from 2002 to today.


via this page

Looking at the graphs, I don't think the software designer was planing on above freezing temps.

Norway increased its crude output, but the article also says that condensate and NGL went down significantly. Was this discussed earlier?


This report says Norway averaged 2.296 million barrels per day in July. That is up from 1.866 million barrels per day in June. But June had a tremendous drop after an earlier drop in May.

Norway production in millions of barrels per day
April. 2.427
May.. 2.375
June. 1.866
July.. 2.296

So you see even with that dramatic increase in July they are still down from May and even further down from April. They did a lot of maintenance in June. The April and May figures are from the EIA, C+C. I don't know how close they match to Bloomberg's figures.

Ron Patterson

Thanks very much for the clarification Ron.

Google news talked about China having another mine accident.


What kind of mining are they using that has over 700 miners underground at one time?

The Tennessee Valley Authority shut down one of three units at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant Thursday because water drawn from a river to cool the reactor was too hot, a spokesman said.

I thought the idea was to switch to nuclear power to reduce global warming not the other way around.

In this case, it's the globe heating the nukes.