A Sunday Morning Thought Experiment (Or, Radiohead, I Love You...)

I don't know if you are aware of what the band Radiohead is doing with their new album release, but I love them for it. (Then again I loved them already well before this.) From the G&M:

Radiohead, the seminal British band known for its experimental sound, is now experimenting with something else: a new delivery format. Its first album in four years will be available for download from the Internet in 10 days, the band announced late Sunday night. And the price? Whatever fans feel like paying.

The news was made public on a website at www.inrainbows.com (the name of the new album), which features text links on a psychedelic rainbow background. When you click on a question mark next to the word "Price," you are taken to a page that says: "It's up to you." Clicking on another question mark takes you to another page that says: "No really. It's up to you."

Good on you fellas. This whole thing gets to many bigger points about our consumption culture, supply and demand, ownership rights of content, basic values in democracy, RIAA issues, music as art form versus music as commercialized crap through a middle man that has to sing for his supper, I could go on for hours.

But at the end of the day, this band wants you to hear their music, their contribution to the world. If you can give a dollar, or if you want to give a dollar, marvelous. If you can and want to give $30, marvelous. The value of the music, the information, the data is up to the person who wants that information...and that person's relative means can come into their decision to "consume the art."

Has Radiohead made money in the past that allows them this opportunity? Likely so. Will they make money this time? I hope they do. In my opinion, they already deserve compensation for the quality of their art; the quality of this gesture just adds to their status with me.

How does this tie in with energy? What can we learn from this about our energy future? I will let you all continue my little thought prompt in the comments...other than to say this: "Things do not have to be the way they are."

Servers in restaurants do just fine and they operate the same way. Nothing is REQUIRED but people tip anyway. The cheapskates are cancelled out by those more generous and the server can earn a good living.

IMO it would be a good idea to make the minimun a penny. That would make people enter their credit card info and they'd probably say, "Well I'll pay a buck because it'd be silly to put a penny on my credit card."

I don't think I'm the only person in the world to have chosen not to have a credit card. I've got a debit card only, and it's not international and cannot be used on the internet. Sometimes it does feel like having a credit card would be great, but I have managed so far and really don't feel like making credit companies even richer and more powerful than they are already.

All too true, Jussi. An added benefit of not using a credit card: it makes it a little harder for Big Brother to stick his big nose over your shoulder.

Indeed. Now once I get rid of this damn internet connection, they'll never track me down! :D

A credit card is required to rent a car or a notel room. I'm not required to use the card.

I got a credit card that gives me a free mile for every dollar I spend. So I can go visit my family in California for free. The interest rate and annual fee is horrible but I pay it off every month and get enough free plane trips to make the annual fee worthwhile. I know it allows the NSA to track me down, but I'm not on the lam.

Anyways, the banks need those credit card fees so they can make more toxic mortgages.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

I've never been to America, but from what I've read and heard, it is very much more difficult to live there without a credit card than it is in Europe. I haven't booked a hotel room for some time now, but the last time I did, all they wanted was my name. Flights are the tricky thing: if you want to use any of the "no-frills" airlines, you need a credit card just to book. My answer has been not to fly. Better in so many ways, isn't it?

If I took the train, I wouldn't know which day I'd get home. Scheduled fourteen hours to LA, a five hour layover (which is good. You have a chance to make your connection) and another five hours up the coast. I could drive it in ten hours for sixty bucks in gas or pay almost two hundred for a train ticket. Europe has a train system with bullet trains but I wouldn't know about Finland. If you get homesick, we got a polar bear at the Tucson zoo.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

LOL, that sort of sruck a nerve! When I lived in London my friends called me "the polar bear", and the ones who were more vicious even called me "the polar viper". Just for the record, and this is the 1000th time I say this, we don't have polar bears (or vipers) in Finland.

As for the train services, they're pretty good, but if you're travelling from Helsinki to Lapland, the distance is such that you would probably prefer to fly. Also, connections between the east and the west of Finland are awkward.


We can get some Arizona elk and lash them up to a sleigh.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

What, you don't have reindeer in Arizona??? Elves? Anything fun?

You can still pay in the Internet without a credit card. I believe PayPal, and probably Google Checkout, can get funds directly from your bank account.

Although you might think that making Google or PayPal rich is worse than making the banks rich... I do not.

Frankly I haven't figured out if I could use my Finnish bank account on PayPal etc. I assumed it wouldn't work and have therefore refrained from buying stuff, which is good.

I retain a certain basic principle in using the Internet - I have never paid for anything on it, and never will. If money is required, I don't need it - and the whole Internet is only a click away.

I might add that a great free form and non-commercial (including NO government or corporate money) source of music is wfmu.org.

Sales at the record store have been in a tail spin. And the Artist only gets a buck a CD anyways. People are getting their music off the internet one way or another. Artists can sell their music off their own website for a buck and break even with what the labels will give you so Radiohead isn't taking a big financial risk. The issue is whether RH can get more publicity by giving their music away then they can by signing up with a major label. I would think so.

There's a new business model. Give the music away and make your money on the concerts. And the thirty dollar t-shirts and the five dollar beer. Well new is a relative term since the Grateful Dead has been doing this since before Garcia needed to shave, but now a lot of bands are doing this.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

Can you imagine if The Oil Drum made a blog post only once every four years, and people had to pay to read it?

It would have to be equivalent to The Killing Joke (Monty Python version, of course) for people to cough up any money. Instead, like most infotainment, the flood of products and alternatives has caused a price collapse.

I can imagine you pay a good buck on a book.

I've noticed that book prices printed on books at bookstores have skyrocketed. Most hardbacks are approaching $28 - $30.

Book prices haven't risen much if at all, if you take inflation into account.

What has changed is that people are buying fewer books. 70-80% of Americans didn't buy a book in the previous year. Not a cookbook, not a Harry Potter book, not a celebrity tell-all, not a Bible. Reading is becoming like classical music: a niche interest.

As a result, publishers are becoming more and more conservative. The midlist has practically vanished. I used to spend all my money on books, but I rarely buy them now. There just isn't much that interests me any more.

We have a very good and well stocked public library.

Heheh. I have even posted in my blog about that. Radiohead is also my favourite band. After hearing some of their musics, the other bands seem so naive and amateurish that I can't hear anything else for a while.

For one take, there is the issue of the labels going to die. The internet is going to subtitute them (or has the big potential), and they are going down the plug.

On the other hand, iTunes doesn't seem so well after this move by Radiohead highlighted the big flaw in Apple's strategy: they are *still* too stuck with the labels to porsuit new experiences by the fans and buyers. It's gonna backfire on them (Radiohead went to talks with iTunes for them to distribute the album, but they (RH) required that Apple sold the entire album and not single musics. Apple did not allow such buying experience, and so RH quit them).

Should this be a call for the total destruction of mediatizers? No. It's a one shot thing. It works for Radiohead, as I, being a common eMule music pirate (sue me at will), am really considering paying Radiohead for their music. The amount of respect they showed I think will go well with all of their listeners (out with the rape of paying 15 dollars per album, which is ridiculous). Most will not pay a dime, but I think they'll see good payings too.

My all time favorite band.

I used to read their forum and Thom would post regularly(99% sure it was him, really got on a rant sometimes that reminded me of TOD) and he/they are PO aware and very up on the current issues facing the world.

pablo honey

They should be. They have a link to TOD in their site and a note to "check this out".

Maybe Thorn posts here. Under another name.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

if you have any doubt Thom and the guys are PO-aware you should listen to "Down Is The New Up".


The consumerist culture is a truly new development in the history of human philosphies. This is the first culture based on the premise that Greed is Good, although there have been bouts of materialism in the last hundred and fifty years of the species existance on this planet, this is the first to totally abandon any spiritual values for one of the Deadly Sins.

It seems to me that we are suffering from an attitude problem as much as anything. Yes, the population has grown so that we are running short on absolute quantities of many physical substances.The average American uses 25 bbl/per year per capita in oil and gas, the average Canadian 26/bbl.

Is our actual standard of living going to decrease by cutting our energy useage? When its doing things like insulating windows, doors and attics or driving a hybrid coupe or sedan to the marina to play with your boat, rather than driving a chrysler SUV with a 440 cubic inch engine all the time so you can tow the boat to the lake one weekend a month doesn't strike me as a decrease in quality of life even though the absolute btu gasoline energy use is decreased by at least 1/3rd. And yet, according to the people that judge GDP as a product of BTU use, a person is at least 1/3rd more impoverished.

Although my example is a lot more extreme than real life for many people, the same is true for replacing a gas water heater with an on-demand electric water heater, which I did last week.I should pay off the cash difference within two years, but although its saving energy, its not going to decrease my lifestyle by using fewer BTU's.

The same is true through all areas of my life. I can only wear one pare of pants at one, and need no more than 3 or 4 pair, I own probably a dozen pair. I can sleep in only one bed, with only one woman (except in my vivid fantasy life) I own too big a house, with too much storage for stuff I use only occasionally. Although I'm middle class, I'm fantasticly wealthy by the standards of either history or half the people on the planet.

Because, what is real wealth? Loving people and being loved by them, having a decent diet, access to heatlth care and stimulating art and ideas, reasonable clothing and the money and freedom to travel is my definition, and I'm there as are most of us, pretty wealth, although impoverished by the standards of greed. Bob Ebersole

Although my example is a lot more extreme than real life for many people, the same is true for replacing a gas water heater with an on-demand electric water heater, which I did last week.I should pay off the cash difference within two years, but although its saving energy, its not going to decrease my lifestyle by using fewer BTU's.

With our prices around here it's 1.6x more expensive to heat water with electric resistance. Now, the pilot light on a typical tank is about $75/yr. If you're a big user it's impossible to save money. If someone else had to install the system then you'll likely never save money.

In my case we went with a 19 gallon electric tank - $20/yr to keep the tank warm and $60/yr heating water. That's compared to $75/yr to keep the gas tank warm and $15/yr heating water. It was 1/3 the cost of having a gas tank installed (because I'll cap and take out gas pipes; but not rig up a new gas tank).

Note that in our case the GHG emissions are about constant even though we're using 1/4 the energy that we were before.

The nice thing about electric is that when we go to time-of-day electricity pricing then our electric water heater gets 30% cheaper by only having it turn on at night and 19 gallons is so big that'll easily work.

What kills me is just how easy it is to sprawl and live in a mansion; compared to a more sustainable option. Unless you're out in the country and willing to build your own home - in the city it's a fortune to bash down / renovate a 1920's home and build something energy efficient. If you want to do a co-housing/eco-village sort of thing you're talking custom homes and are paying 30% more even if you're building 1,100 sq-ft instead of 1,500 sq-ft and that's before you can even add PV or solar water heating.

My wife recently posed a question wondering what we can do with $5k to live our values in a way that is visible to the neighbours and I've not found a way yet.

PV array - need to spend at least $10k, more like $20k
Solar water heating costs about $5k, payback >100 yr
EV a car is $20k minimum just for the conversion; and more
for my vision of a series hybrid with a 4hp battery
Build that co-housing village - >>$1M; payback infinity

The cheapest thing to do is sell the home; move to somewhere else in surburbia and split the home so that we get 1,000 ft and there is a 400 sq-ft bachelor apt perhaps. But even that's 10's of thousands to move and passive solar wouldn't really be an option without signif. modifications....

My wife recently posed a question wondering what we can do with $5k to live our values in a way that is visible to the neighbours and I've not found a way yet.

Assuming you are in a North american car dependant suburb right now, don't want to move, and are looking for "showpiece items" how about:

- Going with a "greener" car i.e. a late model Toyota Echo. If you need other fuel burners use scooters or small motorcycles.

- Expanding the veg. garden into the front yard, or if that seems too extrememe at least loose the grass and grow your herbs and medicinals there, they can be made to look quite decorative.

- Dry laundry with a clothesline

- Install rain barrels on your downspouts

- Get more involved with a local environmental group that speaks to your concerns, if you can't find one that does that... start one.

- Facilitate running as many "Green Party" folks as possible in your next municipal election...

My wife recently posed a question wondering what we can do with $5k to live our values in a way that is visible to the neighbours and I've not found a way yet.

Depending on where you live, and if you have a fireplace, put in a wood burning stove or stove insert. It is so much more enjoyable heating your home with an efficient wood stove instead of gas or electric. Plus, if you cut and split your own wood, your neighbors will definitely notice.

There's a couple of reasons I did the on-demand water heater besides the price. I'm often gone for a couple of weeks at a time, and I spend zero for a pilot and zero for hot water storage when I'm gone. And that's substantial.

I live in a house that was originally built in 1895 as a carriage house, and modernised into an arts and crafts house in 1924. The hot water heater was inside, taking up a good part of my kitchen because of the geometry, which I wanted for a kitchen table. This gave me the space I needed without an add-on, and so if I consider the extra $400 as against moving plumbing and adding on a little shed, its already more than paid for itself.

You're right about the cost of adding insulation and tightening up the house. My solution is to have window units for air and ceiling fans and only leaving them on when I'm home and in the room. I'm 4 blocks from the Gulf and get a wonderful sea-breeze, plus it hardly ever freezes in Galveston. I have a couple of space heaters and mostly just put on a light sweater at home. This though is a batchelor's solution in a semi-tropical climate, it wouldn't work with a wife and kids who were home 24/7 or if I were fixing the place up to sell instead of live in it. Bob Ebersole

Hi Bob,

I'm guessing our home's energy use falls well below that of our neighbours and, contrary to conventional thinking, the harder I work to reduce our consumption, the happier I am. We are a two-person household and our home is a conventional, forty-year old Cape Cod, about 230 square metres in size. As previously noted, it has been extensively overhauled to improve its thermal efficiency, but in terms of its outward appearance, it looks no different than any of its peers.

Our 12-month rolling electricity usage currently stands at 10,369 kWh; at the end of the next billing cycle, assuming temperatures remain seasonal, I hope to get this number below the 10K mark. Our propane consumption (cook top, dryer, BBQ and fireplaces) averages a little less than 0.25 litres per day and our heating oil consumption has fallen to 830 litres/year.

We're also fairly conscious of our water use and during the winter months we average between 80 and 90 litres/day. There's nothing too far out of the ordinary at work here -- basically, low-flow showerheads, low-flush toilets, a stingy BOSCH dishwasher and equally miserly front-load washer. In the summer months, our consumption typically falls in the range of 150 litres per day due to additional outdoor uses, but even at that, we're still running at about one-fifth that of the average user.

I could conceivably do more (e.g., add solar panels for DHW production or a rain water collection system), but given our rather modest needs, it would be hard to justify the added expense (as some may recall, I do pre-heat my laundry water with a standard garden hose).

I'm extremely fortunate to live in country as blessed as Canada and there's certainly nothing I lack in terms of personal comfort and physical well-being. It does sadden me that we squander our natural resources so needlessly, especially when compared to other nations who enjoy a standard of living not unlike our own. There's really no excuse why we can't do better... MUCH better.


I would like somebody to give me an example of a human culture that is both rich and non-consumerist.

I believe "consumerism" is part of human nature and that if we have the where-with-all, we will consume. It all goes back to FOOD.

I think Nathan John Hagens would agree with you--because that's the way a lot of us crazy-assed people are wired--hence the term homo economicus...

but in this Sci Am piece, you'll see not everyone rolls like that:


I love RH. It's not like I can play an instrument or anything, but if I were able to make music good enough to sell, I'd give it away. Here are my reasons:

The whole modern music business has a history of rapine and plunder, from the sheet music and edison cylinder days up until now. It would feel great to give it away!

Would I as an artist really need to make millions of dollars (or die trying to) to be happy? If I could play an instrument well I'd be so fsckin happy I'd play for folks all day for free, just feed me. Honestly, a decent living is all I'd ask, no need for the stress of an "indecent" one.

Now we get more esoteric....

Music is our language. Beyond a decent living for the artist, I'd feel dirty taking more. And I'd gladly release books, tapes, etc., for a reasonable price showing people *exactly* how I play this or that, no more guesses or supposedly accurate transcriptions of riffs that aren't.

Any halfway decent artist can make a killing on lessons anyway. Don't get me started on music teachers, let's just say they make good money.

Now, I'd like to suggest that bands/artists will eventually come around to what I'll call the "religion" model. No one will charge me a dime to become, say, Catholic. If I WANT to, I'm welcome to buy those Catholic candles, St. Chris medals, all kinds of Catholic stuff. Same goes for other sects and churches. The basics are free and then one is free to pay or not pay for the frills as one likes. With radio, music started going this way. (Those of us old enough will remember the "album shows" on FM radio late at night, with a pause for you to turn over your tape!) It's just going more this way lately with internet as the new radio.

PS I have no idea why the band calls itself Radiohead but that name sure works on a number of levels.

Radiohead was a music from Talking Heads that they really loved. Nothing more than that.

Yeah music lessons is a living. Some who can
teach can't perform for squat and some who are
miraculous on a stage can't teach anything
except maybe to friends.
Musicians are different. They make music 'cause
they have to. Some really can't do anything else.

I know musicians everyone on this board has
heard and shelled out for their funeral expenses
Plenty of others you've all heard who scrabble
day to day.

You are always always allowed to tip the band.
And if you got an event, a party, an occasion,
get some live music. Talk to someone whose
music you like and find out just how cheap they
work. Give them a little money and enjoy.

old hippie
its true of any kind of real artist, that they make their music because the have to, just as any real painter paints, writer writes or sculptor, makes objects. If you've ever received the priviledge to make some real art you know what I mean, it comes from a realm that transcends the intellect. In fact, sometimes the more a person can say about a piece the less he/she "knows" the piece.

I've got a friend named Cleveland Turner thats a found objects sculptor thats almost a perfect embodiment of this. He's an outside artist, a folk artist who lives in Houston about 2 miles from the ASPO Convention if anyone wants to go meet him during the conference. He's illiterate, I'm sure many people would consider him mentally disabled. But Google him, he's called the Flower Man, Houston and check out his house/art installation he's got a national reputation. Cleveland can no more not make art than the mocking bird in the tree next door could live without singing.

The reason I bring up the Flower Man is creativity. Creativity can't be forced, it seems to come up from a well, a cenote', in every human. Most people just walk around it. I personally can access the same place with meditation sometimes, but as I said, its out of my control, but my friend Cleveland lives there and so do a group of guys like Radiohead .

And i think being to tap into this unconcious source is going to be the secret that gets the world through peak oil. So call that technomisticalcornucopianism (sarcanol alert) Bob Ebersole

I think exactly the same thing.
In my better moods.

Its a tension thats been there for a while...

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Ladies of The Canyon (1970)

I slept last night in a good hotel
I went shopping today for jewels
The wind rushed around in the dirty town
And the children let out from the schools
I was standing on a noisy corner
Waiting for the walking on green
Across the street he stood
And he played real good
On his clarinet, for free

Now me I play for fortunes
And those velvet curtain calls
I've got a black limousine
And two gentlemen
Escorting me to the halls
And I play if you have the money
Or if you're a friend to me
But the one man band
By the quick lunch stand
He was playing real good, for free

Nobody stopped to hear him
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he had never
Been on their T.V.
So they passed his music by
I meant to go over and ask for a song
Maybe put on a harmony...
I heard his refrain
As the signal changed
He was playing real good, for free

They aren't the first to try this. There are gourmet restaurants that operate this way: you pay what you think the meal is worth. Supposedly, most people pay more than similar restaurants charge for similar meals. Presumably because they don't want to be thought cheap.

It's different online, of course, where people are anonymous. But Stephen King did this for his serial. Riding the Bullet, I think it was. He threatened not to finish writing it is he didn't get enough contributions. There were a lot of freeloaders, but people who wanted to read the whole thing paid extra to make up for them.

In the case of music, the artists get so little of the money that they may actually make more more selling direct...once they have an audience.

I dunno, it's kind of a microcosm of our economy. It used to be that if you had talent, you could make a reasonable living: as an actor, or musician, or baseball player, or writer, etc. Now you have a very few who make obscene amounts of money, while most of the rest can't make a living at it.

This is a small volley across the bow of the conventional 'market' system. I won't go so far as to say that Radiohead is adhering to ecological economics principles (e.g. full cost pricing), but this theme of 'what its worth?' could challenge the system. How we value music which we basically get for free is a very small example of how we value ecosystem services, fresh air, biodiversity, etc.

Of course, we very quickly run into Garret Hardins Tragedy of the Commons.

The gift economy is what comes to mind. Good for them to try. It will probably work too, because there are enough people that appreciate the direction. Worrying about freeloaders is "business as usual". Working with those who want to move into the new paradigm is more important.

cfm in Gray, ME

marguerite manteau-rao

What the Professor describes here is a phenomenon that is here to stay, and will only get bigger and bigger, starting with digital content of any kind. It is on everybody's lips in the (Silicon) Valley where I live. I looooove the concept. So elegant. Kind of like NPR pledge drives. Don't ask me why, but my mind went straight to utility curves. We all have different things that make us happy, and the same thing will score differently along the happiness index depending on who consumes that thing. This is making my head spin! There are so many angles, so many scenarios that can ensue.

What nobody's mentioned so far is that "free" distribution of music on The Internet requires 24/7 servers with 24/7 air conditioning, but more importantly, requires highly reliable 24/7 phone service to every consumer, who must also buy a new computer at least every ten years (computers don't last longer)

Take the number of consumers, divide by ten, and that's how many computers must be landfilled every year, to support "free" distribution of music on The Internet.

If we assume that eventually, all Chinese will count as "consumers," China must landfill one billion divided by ten = 100,000,000 computers a year, every year, until forever. Assuming population and standards of consumption don't grow, of course.

The Internet is an energy-consuming monster. Of course it is far less so than doing all the same stuff physically in person, but since that's physically impossible, it's not a good point of comparison.

The Internet is an energy-consuming monster, compared with how we got along before fossil fuels.

Computers and internet will exist with or without free music downloads.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

The Internet requires computers that are always turned on (routers,) which always have a live connection to all other routers in the world. To the extent that any router is turned off or not connected, even for just a moment, its part of The Internet simply doesn't exist.

In the 1980s little islands of always-on routers existed, but only in the military-industrial complex, the computer industry itself, and in computer departments of universities.

As fossil fuels dwindle, these islands will shrink back down to their 1980s size, and eventually, disappear altogether.

Ad-hoc networks, such as FidoNet, which don't require always-on connectivity, became available to consumers before The Internet, and will disappear after The Internet does.

FidoNet was like the Pony Express of computers. When you sent mail by FidoNet (or UUCP if you were an academic) your computer called the next computer at 3AM, and then it called the next computer, the next day at 3AM. Your mail got to its destination in a few days, god willing.

But all this stuff is ultimately doomed. When a society runs down to 1800s levels of fossil fuel, and has long since depleted the cheap raw materials required to make cheap computers for consumers, of course there will be no such thing as a cheap computer for consumers.

To the extent that computers help the military kill people, they will stick around in one form or another for a long time, however.

The military is famously "behind the curve" re: computer technology, because they care so much about reliability. It's likely that as time goes on, they will rely on increasingly primitive computer technology, precisely because reliability is more important to them than throughput.

I don't buy this. Too doomish. Electricity is far easier to substitute than transportation fuel. We'll run out of gas much much before the net goes out.

And even if it does, I don't think it is the end of the world. People will just stop having access to information. Is it good? Bad? Don't know. People seem too propagandized for having a clue even with the net turned on.

I agree that elecricity will continue to be a big part of life for most of us, but services that depend on widespread always-on electricity to consumers (such as The Internet) must stop existing, as bits and pieces of the electrical grid go intermittent or shut down.

In the future, people will still use computers to send messages, but it will become a lot more dodgy, something for hobbyists.

I suspect you are correct. It's not so much that we couldn't afford to keep the net up if we really wanted to. It's that when TSHTF, we won't want to.

If people are losing their jobs/losing business, they'll have to cut back on expenses. Including Internet access. People may no longer have the money to maintain the web sites that make the net so useful and entertaining, making Internet access less valuable. Many of the most popular web sites are corporate (Google, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay). If they're not making money, they'll shut down. When their computers die, people may just drop off the net rather than buy a new one.

As people and web sites drop off the net, even those who can afford it may decide it's not worth it. It may seem impossible...but as others have pointed out, a lot of people gave up their phones during the Great Depression.

People may have given up their phones during the Great Depression, but people went to the movies almost compulsively to escape the cold hard reality of their lives. The same thing will happen in the future - people will want an escape.

The Internet is already replacing television and movies as the escape-of-choice. I don't think people will want to give up their Internet escapism so readily, even in the face of hard times.

I think they will. I think the trend will be toward more permanent and "standalone" entertainment. You see this is the choices of the American poor now. Playstations are really popular among the poor. That may seem odd, given how expensive they are. But they are good value for the money. Buy the system and a few games, and you're entertained for weeks or months. When you're tired of your games, you can swap them with your friends' games, and play for months more.

Compared with going to the movies, renting movies, or buying a computer and paying for monthly Internet access, it's a bargain.

I was born before Al Gore invented the internet. We didn't know how deprived we were. The internet is an energy hog with always on routers but I don't see it going away. First, they can make more energy efficient electronics. Moore's law means electronics of the same performance becomes more energy efficient. Second, we can run it off solar electricity like the googleplex is already doing.

I can see the electric grid going away and all of us living in offgrid houses or complexes but the internet isn't disappearing. Too damn addictive.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

I agree that types of "standalone" entertainment will become more prominent. However, going to the movies (during the Depression) afforded one a social experience - everyone laughed or gasped or cried as one group. There was a feeling of sharing an experience.

Video games are excellent at escapism. However, they are notoriously bad at creating a shared experience (beyond a few people playing together). Online multiplayer games offer mostly combat-oriented shared experiences - much different than the escapism of a movie or a book.

In my opinion, humans require shared experiences in the face of difficult times. Movies offer a cathartic escape and shared experience with large groups. Video games offer a much more limited cathartic escape and shared experience with small groups. For example, when was the last time you heard about a video game that was a romantic comedy?

So, while I agree that video games will have a place in future escapism, they lack a communal shared experience (such as posting to a blog like TOD). Something else will need to fill that need. It is possible that video game developers/publishers will begin to make communally shared experiences, but I doubt it. The industry is getting more narrow every year (i.e. games must be sequels or based on a movie). There has been some innovation with communal experiences, but not very much.

(Full disclosure: I have worked extensively in video games and movies. Perhaps this skews my perspective.)

The Internet is not a shared experience. It only offers the illusion of one.

This is true. In the spectrum of shared experience, the Internet falls somewhere between movies and video games. Interestingly, books offer even less of a shared experience than video games - they are the ultimate personal escape.

My disagreement with your end-of-the-Internet premise was an attempt to explain how I thought shared experiences (even if only illusory) would be important, and that video games do not fulfill that need as well as the Internet. Something else could fulfill the need for shared experience other than the Internet, though I don't see video games doing so.

In the spectrum of shared experience, the Internet falls somewhere between movies and video games.

Disagree. The Internet may be interactive, but it's not really social. There has been some really interesting research done on this. Turns out, we need to see people in person. It doesn't register as a social experience otherwise. Which may explain why people who use the Internet a lot are prone to depression.

Books used to be shared experiences, as did TV. Everyone read the same ones, and talked about them.

Now we have far greater choice, which means we no longer have that common culture. People don't read books any more. And they don't watch the same TV shows, if they watch TV at all.

I don't think shared experiences are as important as you do. Well, they are, but people don't value them. They don't go to movies so they can watch with other people. They go because they want to see the movies. Hence the peasants who sell their blood or use the grocery money to buy movie tickets - unbeknownst to their families.

And I think the Internet will prove to be relatively fragile, at least as a source of entertainment. In many places in the US, you still can't get broadband, which limits the entertainment appeal. I think a lot of the companies invested in Internet entertainment are betting on future growth, and when that goes away, so will they.

I could also see people who do have broadband going back to dialup to save money, or just sticking with their cell phones. And if less people buy it, it will become less available, since ISPs are in it for the money.

It were not best that we would all think alike; it is the difference of opinion that makes horse races.

- Mark Twain, "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"

I'm not sure of the difference between people reading the same books and then talking about them, and people reading on the Internet and then talking about it. The "talking about" can occur both on the Internet and in person. So, to me they appear similar. Same for television shows and something like YouTube. So, if books were shared experiences then the Internet can also be a shared experience, although perhaps more fractured, considering the vast number of websites (e.g. not everyone is reading "Future Shock" at the same time and then discussing it).

Additionally, in a darkened theater or movie house, one does not really "see people in person", but one does have a very strong sense of shared experience via the general "presence" of others (mostly sounds, perhaps smells, but very little sights of others). This is part of the "experience" that makes seeing a movie in a movie house different than seeing it at home (the larger screen is also a part of the experience, as is the resolution of the film and the potential lack of interruptions in the viewing).

I don't think shared experiences are as important as you do. Well, they are, but people don't value them. They don't go to movies so they can watch with other people. They go because they want to see the movies.

I agree and disagree. I agree that people do not value shared experiences as much as in the past. However, I disagree that they go only because they want to see the movies.

Humans have gathered in groups for millenia, usually in dim lighting conditions, to tell stories in a shared experience. Our current incarnation of this is the theater (plays and movies) and, to a lesser extent, television (studio audiences). People may not consciously go out in search of shared experiences, but this does not mean that they are not seeking out shared experiences.

It is why it is much more interesting to watch a movie or see a play with others. Even watching a movie with one other person dramatically increases the enjoyment. Discussing a book or idea with someone else (collaboration) is also about creating a shared experience. It is part of our heritage, tradition, and development as a species.

It is possible that the Internet will prove to be fragile. However, the history of humans has shown that new forms of entertainment supplant older forms of entertainment and are rarely given up unless replaced by something better, although this could just be an aspect of the growth paradigm. Additionally, in a future world that becomes more local, the Internet will allow continued contact with the larger world in a very inexpensive manner.

I'm not sure of the difference between people reading the same books and then talking about them, and people reading on the Internet and then talking about it. The "talking about" can occur both on the Internet and in person. So, to me they appear similar.

They may appear similar, but they are not. Putnam (the Bowling Alone guy) often writes about this. The brain does not perceive it as a social experience unless it's in person. And online interaction is not at all like in person interaction. They are still trying to figure out exactly what the difference is, but seeing the other person's face seems to be key.

Even watching a movie with one other person dramatically increases the enjoyment.

But you can do that at home. And more and more people are. They don't want to go to the theater where a bratty kid will be kicking the back of your seat and throwing popcorn in your hair, or the couple in front of you is talking throughout the show. They aren't selling more movie tickets these days; the growth is coming from rising ticket prices, and the profits from ever-earlier DVD sales.

However, the history of humans has shown that new forms of entertainment supplant older forms of entertainment and are rarely given up unless replaced by something better, although this could just be an aspect of the growth paradigm.

Exactly. If not for peak oil, I would agree with you 100%. But peak oil is going to be a game-changer.

Additionally, in a future world that becomes more local, the Internet will allow continued contact with the larger world in a very inexpensive manner.

Agreed. But it still may not be an expense the average person will pay for. Even now, many people access the net only from the library.

I don't think the net will collapse overnight or anything. Rather, when someone is foreclosed on and loses his house, he's just not going to bother with Internet access in his new digs (whatever they are). Or when someone's computer dies, they may want a new one, but not have the money - or the credit - to buy it. People who maintain blogs like this one out of their own pockets may not be able to afford it any more, making the net less enticing. If things get really bad, the government may take over sites like Wikipedia, censoring them and making them much less appealing. The net may shrink in much the same way as it grew, though probably not as fast.

I also think cable TV as we know it may be going the way of the dodo.

They may appear similar, but they are not.

I think we agree, but allow me to rephrase what I said to confirm.

If one reads a book and then talks about the book in person with someone else, is this similar to one reading something on the Internet and then talking about it in person with someone else? I think it is.

And, I agree with you that online interaction is not similar to in person interaction.

But you can do that at home. And more and more people are.

Yes. My point was that humans crave shared experiences in response to your point that you "don't think shared experiences are as important as [I] do". And, people may not be going to the theater as much, but people are also feeling less connected. A large part of people feeling less connected could be because they still need shared experiences, but aren't having enough of those shared experiences.

If things get really bad, the government may take over sites like Wikipedia, censoring them and making them much less appealing. The net may shrink in much the same way as it grew, though probably not as fast.

I also think cable TV as we know it may be going the way of the dodo.

What you write could be what happens. However, I think that the Internet allows more freedom to more people, and they will fight to maintain that freedom. Cable television may disappear, but I think it might be replaced by even larger numbers of home-made entertainment "channels" offered for free (or offered, like Radiohead, for donations). In my mind, this is what true freedom in entertainment would evolve into. Of course, that is also assuming the past growth paradigm continues, which is suspect.

If one reads a book and then talks about the book in person with someone else, is this similar to one reading something on the Internet and then talking about it in person with someone else? I think it is.

The difference, I think, is that people tend not to share Internet experiences. If you talk to someone about a movie you have both seen, it's likely to be a much more engaging conversation than if you tell someone about something you saw on the net and he did not.

However, I think that the Internet allows more freedom to more people, and they will fight to maintain that freedom.

I am not that sanguine. How many people fought to maintain net neutrality?

If you talk to someone about a movie you have both seen, it's likely to be a much more engaging conversation than if you tell someone about something you saw on the net and he did not.

I would agree with that, but it doesn't seem a fair comparison - one is something both have seen, the other is something that only one has seen.

As for net neutrality, I think it was and is a phantom that has never existed. When the largest search engine in the world (google) censors search results for the country with the largest population in the world (China), I think it is safe to say that net neutrality does not exist when it can be trumped so easily by free market principles.

However, you are correct that very few fought to maintain the last vestiges of net neutrality. It is interesting what things people care about enough to resist. And what they don't.

You're assuming that many people knew.  The Digital Millenium Copyright Act wouldn't have passed a referendum either.

I am assuming something much worse than that. I am assuming that many people did not care to know.

Knowledge is not something that one awaits passively. One must actively seek knowledge. Many do not actively seek knowledge.

In the US, at least, people care to know about the foibles of celebrities, but not much about broad ramifications of change - whether those are peak oil, climate change, net neutrality, or corporate-favoring copyright changes.

I would agree with that, but it doesn't seem a fair comparison - one is something both have seen, the other is something that only one has seen.

But that is the nature of the Internet. You tend not to have shared experiences, because the content is so plentiful and so diverse.

I would also argue that TV has become a much less social experience. When there were only three networks, everyone watched the same thing. People would go into the office the next morning, and talk about what was on TV last night.

Now, you can't do that. Sometimes the old-timers in my office try, but no one watched what they saw. People are watching obscure cable channels, or pay per view, or playing Nintendo, or renting DVDs instead of watching network television. Even within families, people are watching different things in different rooms, rather than watching the same thing together.

Mark Twain,
I don't know about not being 'common shared experience..."

My older teens addicted to WOW.

Weekends we have groups of kids over-- all on laptops talking, laughing, arguing, playing "together," voices with accents coming thru computers, tv on in background, cellphones going... every so often they go out, play couple holes of golf, or shoot some hoops, then back in to WOW world.

they don't call them the "gaming generation" for nothin

Yes, there have been online multiplayer games that offer shared experiences for a couple of decades. However, the audience is limited, and confined to a small (and, usually younger) segment of the population.

Most of these games are computer games, not video games, so the hardware required would also allow one access to other shared experiences on the Internet.

And, despite this, the groups are still fairly small - not nearly the same number of people in a movie house. But, as you note, there can definitely be shared experiences in smaller groups (in fact, everyone reading and posting comments on TOD are in a shared experience of a small group).

The segment of the population is not so small -- Halo 3 will be played mainly as a multi-player game (and most single-player use will be in a social context), and MS is trumpeting its first-day gross as the largest opening-day gross in history for any entertainment medium ($170 million, US only).

That's well over 3 million copies; each of those copies will be used by a group that probably averages just over 2 people simultaneously and around 4 to 10 people before the initial purchaser sells it; it's not a stretch to guess that 5 to 10% of the 16-60y population of the US will have played Halo within a month of its release.

Some 8 million plus subscribe to WOW worldwide.
but as far as playing together? -- its hard to fit them all in our playroom:-)

3 million copies is significant, but even when compared to something that sells very little - like books - it pales by comparison. The last Harry Potter book (Deathly Hallows) sold over 8 million copies (US) on the first day.

And, I don't consider Halo 3 to be a shared experience. It is a visceral experience with very little depth. It is designed to engage your reptilian brain and shut down all other parts of your brain. I say this as someone who has not only played FPS games, but also developed them.

As always Leanan you are right. Playstations are very popular out here, they always were. You can buy a used on pretty cheap, or trade for an old bike or something, and trade the games around etc.

I have dial-up because the $20 difference between it and high speed access is a large amount of money right now.

Entertainment will become more standalone.

The Internet is a huge energy hog, and even we Peakers who ought to know better, ignore that fact. It's about, I estimate, $50-$100 a month, closer to $100 a month, for the average person to keep a computer, on the internet, workable, etc.

I'm still spending way too much time on the net myself, I should be working on drawing faces and for fun, learning to play this guitar I have. Is the guitar as expensive as the Internet? No where near it! In fact once I'm halfway good, if I get halfway good, I can play with the case out for coins and it will pay for itself. I'd like to see Internet access do that! (People worked just fine before Al Gore invented telecommuting, and made more money back then!)

The poor have their used playstations, a cheap radio to listen to Art Bell, their $1 each Goodwill CDs, and as things downgrade will have their guitars, zithers, accordions, bajos, pianos, etc. I will be one of them. And we'll all be a lot happier.

As for books, reading is dying and will be dead for a long time, until we're back to the level of Honest Abe splitting rails to afford to buy used books. I buy used books now for 10 cents to maybe 2 dollars, for a really good one. Most are in the 25-50 cent range. Do what you can to preserve good used books because they will NOT be made again in our lifetimes.

Books books books. I'm collecting them, because I think that if I'm still alive in 20 years, they will be the one interesting thing in a cannibalistic world with a serious nuclear fallout...

Best Hopes for my Being Wrong!

I think books are good, whatever you believe :)

Warren Buffet and his co-investor have both said that they have never met a long-term successful investor who didn't read a lot constantly. So, if you want to get rich, books seem to help :)

They also make you think, open up new horizons, help you laugh, work as a good conversation pieces, lend themselves to lending (sic), last for ages, some have high re-use value and in a case of emergency, they make a decent quick insulation material. Or one can burn the worst ones for few quick fractions of BTU.

So yes, I'm guilty too of book hoarding. The tally is up to almost 100 this year alone and growing. Not that the amount matters.

Have I read them all? Nope, but that's not how I measure the worth of my library. It's the amount of books in it that I _haven't_ read that matters. Not the other way around.

Minstels, like Pete Seeger are always quick to remind us that the fiddler always got the warmest place by the fire when the only music was music we made ourselves. And I know that this is still true today if you find music making on a small scale. Doomers might want to recommend music lessons.

What does this have to do with energy? Music only exists as an experience. You can store up a hundred copies of a CD, but you only have music if you take the time to play it. And, you can really only listen to one of those copies at a time. Performers come back to the same song and make it real all over again in a new way. Listeners will hear the same song in a different context and get a different experience, or maybe, numinously, crytallize a memory of something that happened when they heard the song previously. With music, everything is passing and never the same twice, like the saying about never stepping in the same river twice.

Our energy use is different. We try to make the river freeze so that we may do exactly the same thing over and over again with no change. If it ain't broke, don't fix it is the kind of thing we might say about a toilet seat or an oil well. Unlike a song, when you use oil, it is gone and you can't play it again in a richer way or a new context. It exist not so much in its flame but in its storage tank, ready for use.

The direction we are heading though makes energy a little more like music. Sticking a windmill in the breeze or a solar panel in the sunshine is catching a flow rather than filling a storage vessel. I would not be too surprised if some people didn't start naming their panels the way Muddy Waters names his guitar. Renewables, like music, give a feeling of participation that you just don't get from stacking up the bones of the Earth in piles for burning.

And, like music, renewable energy is for sharing. If the flow you are tapping gives more than you're using, sharing with your neighbor is a pretty natural thing to do. When you might not think, well, I didn't use all the gas in my tank today, might as well give it away, the thought might cross you mind when your windmill is producing energy at the same rate but your kids have grown and moved. Radiohead seems like they want to avoid being old and in the way. So, they'll just share and help out for a bit. Maybe we'll stop being surprised by this when we are all participating in a flow of energy rather than worrying so much about tommorrow that generosity no longer seems second nature. Pull up a seat close to the fire and sing us a song of wind and sun and rain, maybe just a box of rain like the Grand Coulee....


very insightful post...


Thanks. I'm very interested in in this subject. Bucky Fuller was trying to put his finger on this kind of thing some time ago.


I think the main thing this string has taught me is something about the demographic here at TOD.

Most folks over 35 have never heard of Radiohead. I have, but only because I try to keep up with alternative music, but for my age group that is rare. Most folks I know and work with take the position that no real music has been made since the 1970's, and TimeLife oldies collections and oldies radio give them all they ever need in the way of music.

I now understand why I often feel very alone in discussions of the events of the 1970's energy crisis. Of course, many folks here simply cannot believe the scale of the drop in energy production and consumption in those days. So far, we have seen only "measurement error" scale changes in the 2000's by comparison, with the exception of the North Sea, which has indeed seen a considerable sustained drop since 2000.

The other day, Robert Rapier in one of his best posts recently, said that if we did not choose to act, we are simply compounding what will be a miserable situation for our children. I sighed. Of course, we have been around this track before, and chose to do exactly that in the 1970's and 1980's. There were those then who warned that the North Sea would not last forever, and that putting our fate in the hands of the Persian Gulf nations could lead to a strategic nightmare and eventually, the death of young Americans in the region. Even if the Persian Gulf oil would last in a sustained way for a century, our money would have trouble staying up, and we would finally be bled to death.

The other day, I saw reported that the U.S. dollar had declined some 37% in the last five years. Take crude oil at $82 dollars per barrel, and strike 37% from that, and what per barrel oil price do you get? Robert Bolger, the father of index mutual funds, said that the combined income for the "financial services" industry, an essentially parasitic industry was now more than the combined income of the energy industry. What we are seeing is as much, possibly much more, a money shortage as an oil shortage.

Closing thought: If you asked people to pay what they really thought oil was worth to them, using the Radiohead example, how much do you think most would pay? Anywhere near what it is actually worth? What if they knew if they misjudged the price in what they paid, the next shipment wouldn't arrive for them to use? Now that's a thought experiment.
(edited for correction)

Where I live we have a lot of 'golden oldie' stations on FM.

Why does it continue to hang on?

Because it speaks to the soul...the emotions, of love and the way things once were,of the mystery of puppylove.

I can't stand to listen to the new music,,not the 'new country and western', not rap, not any of the other trash...its more or less 'drug' music IMO...meaningless.

I have never heard Radio Head therefore..but I would assume their lyrics take it back to the 'soul' or spirit of man..

My favorites were also Dylan, and Prine...who put hard questions about us into their lyrics...they simply 'moved' you.

When I hear loud, window shaking , boom boxes in autos(less now as time goes on) then I am wondering just what their goal is..perhaps to make someone look at them....not to speak to the inner person.

How is someone scratching vinyl to make a weird cacophony of sounds making real music? Rap must speak to someone in some way but to me it speaks of ignorant stupidity and brutish behaviour. I hear the MF word enough as it is to not want to dial it up on the radio or in a CD.

Garbage is finally just garbage but real music lives on..hence 'Oldie' stations.

Airdale- I play a banjo,sometimes a guitar and once a fiddle..I also have a clarinet which I am still learning.
Class of '57 music ..as good as it gets in which I include folk,be-bop,R&B,and even rockabilly in its better forms.It spans a huge range and still speaks to my spirit. Lots of todays music speaks to the gutter.

PS. I could be biased,,I usually am.

All this talk of music and oil and 70's nostalgia, well, just have to repost Leanan's link.


I hear Radiohead, but they never hit a chord with me. Not the way other alternative, say Rage, has. They had real innovation, harmony, but I guess they're old hat now.

I agree with mdsolar above, live music will make the comeback, it's the flow, the way each rendition of a song is unique, or that quest for perfection that makes a song magical. One of my kids plays the bar/eatery circuits, trying to play his work, the audience asking for their covers, and the return is a cover they've never heard. I think they like it better. I listen and watch him cutting and mixing and trying to make a new cd. It's lost, the cd, trying to make that perfect copy. Much better, I think, to just take a deep breath, play, and record the outcome.

Airdale, I think Prine cut like a hot knife through the 70's butter in part because of the simplicity of his music. Three simple chords, and some of the most powerful lyrics. Most everyone could sing and play those, and did. His newest album, another gem, stays basically true to that.

Finally, a comment on the constantly on TV, radio, music player. Go in the house, the tv is on, go in the car, the radio is on, go for a walk, the walkman is on. It must be loneliness to a large degree. The tv acts with an etheral glue, pulling your mind to its oblivion. We've never owned one, and raised a family that still was more than abreast of the current culture. That pervasively seeps everywhere. Turn the gadgets off once in a while, make your own music, have your own thoughts. And to myself, turn this computer off more often.

Doug Fir,

I find that when you play an instrument, mostly string I speak of, that you can reach an area being involved with it in such a manner that you find peace and harmony within...and mostly when one is just 'jamming' with others or playing alone...

Its hard to describe but its way beyond the Television and other media...

For me dancing was big,,,both rock and slow mood music,,what they called the 'pops'...

..and why is no one , especially kids,dancing anymore? What have they left behind? No more romance but just a quick roll in the bed and goodbye and f**k you very much, and on to the next one..I think something dies when there is no romance. When the subtle interplay of dating is no more on the scene.

Todays music as far as I can see, does not have this in its aspect any longer...more like..'lets do some drugs , burn our heads out, hack down some X and V..and then wallow in it'...the drugs of today are sadly lacking...kids shoulda stuck with straight weed...Kentucky's second largest cash crop...but meth is devilbane...a bit ago some meth cookers not far away had a pit bull get loose chewed another families old hound to near death in the community...righteously that dog never made it back home but found a fast moving 22-250 in its skull instead,,the cookers likely already have another..and their music sucks BTW..

Airdale-there was a day when the music surely died..I remember it.
and..Not that I am for legalizing mj but at least its not a usually violent drug..witness the 60's

Siwmae (Hiya) Oilmnanbob! The vivid examples you post above, Bob, are going in the right direction, sure. But listen: I live in one of the over-rich countries of the world, and even from my viewpoint, your setup AFTER your significant energy savings leaves me thinking: "Jeez, Bob seems to have an even over-richer life....)

I was down at the do-it-yourself car-breaker's yard yesterday, getting a couple of replacement parts for my partner's just-acquired secondhand car. (We live seven miles apart, for the sake of continuing marital harmony, which means we each have a car. Damn! But at least I go more by bike than by car) The rule in that yard is that all carcases are stacked two high, and no more, for safety. So there I am working on the bottom car of two of what USAmericans might call super-compacts. No wheels on either, just the carcases. I needed to lift the front end to get at a couple of bolts. I'm no weakling, but without jacks I could make not the slightest movement. It came home to me: the truly astonishing amount of weight we haul about with us every time we get behind a wheel, even for the most unimportant journey. This is quite apart from the thousands of barrelsworth of embodied fossil energy lying all around me as casually cast-off metal and glass stuff. You can see, can't you, why I have this near-fanatical hatred of the whole damned SUV idiocy, which is like a still-growing epidemic here -- for just a short while longer (Britain became a net importer of oil and natgas last year; and we have sixty million people crammed into a small island that can support, oh, maybe five million in anything like ecological balance, if we practised a really sophisiticated level of permaculture across our whole landscape; goodbye to the pathologically-obese life, pretty soon here, I think).

On the other hand, when I go wilderness walking with my Turkish shepherd dog buddy (well, what passes for wilderness in Britain) every single thing I'm going to need for the next couple of days comes with us on my back.

The drastically smaller weight carried -- and hence the energy saved -- is vastly different. Yet sitting up there on the mountain, it comes home to me again just how hugely -- and unfairly -- energy-privileged my life is even then. I'm one of the Pampered Twenty Percent of the world's human population. In my absurd country I'm classed as living below the poverty line. Yet my life is easy, and oversupplied with everything I really need, and quite a few extras, particularly music, wonderful, transcendental music, all day, everyday, freely on tap. To the Abused and Deprived Eighty Percent, I still live like a lolling prince, surrounded by servants and services ad lib, casually drawing down excess energy on demand as if there's no tomorrow. And this is including in the energy reckoning the lo-tech atmospheric-carbon-resequestering work I do to make terra-preta soil for my permaculture garden.

I think I still have a way to go before I've found anything like the truly ecologically-innocent lifestyle. But at least enlightening discussions like this on TOD, which so far you can only find on the net, are awakening me to that fact. Plodding on, hey Bob, as the ultimate storm gathers!

Oh shit! It's time for me to get in my super-compact VW and drive me and 150 pounds of tools and 130 pounds of shepherd dog over to the yard again. The pampered life. Damn! Cofion gorau (Best remembrances), Rhisiart Gwilym

I do have an over-rich, an opulent life, as do almost all of us. Consider some other things:
Say you own a priceless painting-say a Monet original. In order to have the painting you must live in a guarded home, insured to the hilt and after a while its just wall decoration anyhow, just wall decoration that costs you thousands for insurance and guarding and makes your friends identify themselves at the door.

But, if I take a bus to the museum I can see hundreds of wonderful paintings for free or minimal cost, and it doesn't have to dictate how and where I live. So who's more wealthy? The guy who owns the painting, or the guy who donates his paintings to a public space?

We have entirely the wrong attitudes about things and our relationship with them.
Bob Ebersole

How DOES this tie in with energy?

In basic terms it suggests disintermediation, no drive to maximise profits, the desire to do something slightly different. You can see how those types of concept could play into one possible energy future.

However that freedom comes from the position Radiohead are in. If they were unknown it wouldn't work since they would have no fan base to buy their product. The model works because of circumstances.

In similar terms, distributed energy generation, growth-agnostic business models, etc. are only possible because of the structures and capabilities that have been grown through centralisation, economies of scale and the robber barons. As such, ideas which suggest "we'll just replace the existing economic system, go back to an agrarian idyll" miss the point. To be viable it is required that there be an evolutionary route from where we are to where we get to that at all stages is in some way better than what is left behind. That in turn means timing is critical. If you can buy gas for 70cents alternative technologies are certain to be less attractive. If gas is rising 70cents a year, you can transition - at the right time - to alternatives that deal with this key fault.

Given that many of the effects and government/commercial reactions to peak oil can be predicted, it should be possible to delineate alternatives and chains of alternatives that match the evolution of the energy market. What that means is that whole swathes of energy futures are closed off, since there is no route between here and there. Equally, the timescales and durations are important, since change takes time. Relatively simple change, from centralised record companies to band based distribution is taking decades.

Forget considering Peak Oil as a way to get back to some past and consider the opportunities that do, and will, actually exist and what that means for where can go.

Since this thread is about music, and it seems I'm not the only one to feel the urge to post some lyrics, here goes. I'm not a big fan of Radiohead, although they're OK. My favourite musician is Tom Russell, and here's a great (and recent) song by him. I remember immigration, minutemen etc. have been discussed here at TOD before, so it's not totally OT. BTW he lives in El Paso.

by Tom Russell

I‘ve got 800 miles of open border – right outside my door.
There’s minute men in little pick up trucks who’ve decleared their own damn war.
Now the government wants to build a barrier like old Berlin 8 feet tall –
But if uncle Sam sends the illegals home who’s gonna build the wall?


Now I ain’t got no politics so don’t lay that rap on me.
Left wing, right wing, up wing, down wing, I see strip malls from sea to shining sea.
It’s the fat cat white developer who’s created this whole damn squall.
It’s a pyramid scheme of dirty jobs, and who’s gonna build your wall?


We’ve got fundamentalist moslems, we’ve got fundamentalist jews, we’ve got fundamentalist christians-
They‘ll blow the whole thing up for you.
But as I travel around this big old world, there’s one thing that I most fear.
It’s a white man in a golf shirt with a cell phone in his ear.


(sorry about the caps, that was copy and paste)
You can listen to this song, FOR FREE, at

Last March Tom Russell was in Finland and I saw him play a few songs in my local pub. I had planned to talk to him about Peak Oil, but unfortunately there were so many other people willing to talk to him that I didn't even bother trying.

If the economy gets half as bad as many here think it will get, there will be plenty of people willing to build walls, or do anything else that puts food on the table.

Point taken, for sure. But what about the Mexican food? :)

If all the citizens weren't paying the property, state income and and sales taxes to pay for all the costs and services used by the illegal aliens (and the imported "cheap labor" legal ones), they'd be able to pay other citizens to do all the other stuff (because a whole lot less of some things would need doing).

Who's gonna teach your kids, man? Who's gonna run your schools?
Why import drunk drivers and other kinds of fools?
They'll call your hometown "Aztlan" and run you out, not cool.
Who'll patrol your streets, man? Who's gonna run your schools?

OK. And the ongoing destruction of Iraq would probably sort itself. Anyways, I've said countless times, I haven't even been to America. I do hope you enjoyed Tom Russell's music though ;)

OK, first I thought I wouldn't elaborate, but now I feel I must:

Do you, Engineer-Poet, seriously think that your tax dollars go to illegal aliens, or some other "unworthy" recipients? Have you got any idea of what the US annual budget is, and how much of that is spent to actually help people? Seriously, if you consider that the Iraq war (for which there was absolutely no reason) costs about 1 billion dollars a year, at the very least, how come you don't protest against that? Are the Mexicans really the problem?

Where does you money go? Supporting poor Mexicans, or killing shitloads of Iraqis?

You make two errors here:

  1. Trying to change the subject.  Just because the Iraq war is foolish and costly, does not make the cost of immigration (both legal and illegal) to citizens a trivial expense.
  2. Low-skill immigrants of any type are the problem.  A recent study found that the average low-skilled family of 4 paid a total of about $11,000 in taxes, but received over $30,000 in services for a net cost of over $19,000 per year.  An overwhelming amount of illegal immigration is low-skilled (the average Mexican immigrant has an 8th grade education), often has much more than 2 children (or is a single mother with children, implying much lower earnings and taxes) and is responsible for a huge amount of our special expenses such as English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

I don't want my money going to EITHER the Iraq boondoggle or subsidizing culturally hostile immigrants.  The only kind of immigrant I'm interested in is one who makes jobs for Americans, preferably educated Americans (I do have some self-interest).