DrumBeat: December 20, 2007

Oil prices will swamp subprime as market driver

Here's my fearless forecast for 2008: The subprime mortgage mess will be far less important to investors next year than the price of oil.

The reason is simple: We don't sell our homes once a week, but that's about how often we fill up our gas tanks.

Kurt Cobb: Charlie Hall's Balloon Graph

Energy researcher Charlie Hall's balloon graph challenges the notion that alternative energy sources will provide a smooth transition to a post-fossil fuel society. Scale and energy return remain huge obstacles.

Charlie Hall is one the best-known energy researchers you've never heard of. That's because he puts his effort into understanding whole energy systems such as human civilization rather than perfecting headline-grabbing energy panaceas such as corn ethanol. From the early 1980s onward Hall and his colleagues--some of them former students--have been warning that a society hooked on fossil fuels would find itself up against limits not easily breached--probably sooner rather than later.

Big powers in growing competition for oil

The world's big powers are in growing competition to buy oil from top exporters and develop projects in energy-producing states, eager to secure supplies to propel economic growth.

US hits at Chinese oil deal with Iran

The US has complained to Beijing about a new deal between Sinopec, the Chinese state-owned energy company, and Iran, in a sign of the rift between the world's big powers about Tehran's nuclear programme.

India - Refinery issue: farmers get ready for showdown

Farmers having pattas and those in possession of land for several decades without any title deed are getting ready for a showdown and submit affidavits at a sitting convened at Rachapalli panchayat office on Saturday over land acquisition notices served on some of them as the authorities are trying to weaken their agitation through various means.

Inflation on the plate

There is little doubt that growing prosperity is driving up food prices. Products such as corn have been diverted to produce ethanol for fuel. Meanwhile, global warming has hit farm output. Does this mean that we are headed for Malthusian hell? Not necessarily. As in the 1960s, human ingenuity will help us deal with this undoubtedly important problem. More investment and open markets, too, would help. Peak oil? Perhaps. Peak food? No way.

Living on the Fife Diet

Food miles have become a burning issue in the climate debate as campaigners call for people to eat more local food. What happened when a family tried to survive on food only from Fife?

Plant cover in Haiti at two percent: UN official

Deforestation in Haiti, where trees and bushes are routinely felled for cooking fuel, is at crisis level, with just two-percent plant cover now, the UN warned Thursday.

Alon says LA refinery recovering from outage

Alon USA's 50,000-barrel-per-day Paramount oil refinery in Los Angeles has restarted some units after the plant lost power on Wednesday, the company said Thursday.

BG nixes plans to sell Israel natural gas

The $4 billion worth of natural gas that BG Group Plc controls off the Gaza Strip coast will not be sold to Israel as the company officially ended negotiations on Thursday, citing insurmountable differences on several key issues.

Crude Oil Rises on Report Showing That OPEC Shipments Will Drop

Oil prices rose Thursday after an oil tanker tracking firm predicted OPEC oil shipments are falling for the first time since August.

Oil Movements, a British research firm, said it expects crude shipments from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will fall by 230,000 barrels a day to 24.2 million barrels a day during the four weeks ending Jan. 5, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

The report reverses earlier Oil Movements forecasts that predicted oil shipments were on the rise.

Canadian crude oil production increases

Canadian oil companies produced about 422,000 cubic metres of crude oil a day in 2006, up 5.4 per cent over last year, according to figures released Thursday.

Statistics Canada said a 1.1-per-cent decline in the production of conventional crude oil in 2006 was offset by a significant increase in the production of synthetic crude of more than 31 per cent.

Nigeria crude exports rebound to 2.14 mbpd in Feb

- Nigerian crude oil shipments are expected to rise in February, breaking a two-month decline, because of an increase in loadings from the Bonny Light and Bonga terminals, traders said on Thursday.

The February loading schedule is estimated at around 2.14 million barrels per day, up 90,000 bpd from the previous month.

Fire Breaks Out At Kern Oil Refinery

Firefighters said just after 12 a.m. Thursday, a pipe carrying a flammable material at the Kern Oil Refinery near Lamont burst. The liquid inside the tube caught fire.

Pemex Misses Oil Goal as November Output Drops 8.2%

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned Mexican oil monopoly, said daily crude oil production fell 8.2 percent in November from a year earlier as the company struggled with a three-year decline at its largest oil field.

Output fell to 2.9 million barrels a day from 3.16 million barrels a year earlier, Mexico City-based Pemex, as the company is known, said today in a report. Daily production also fell from 2.995 million barrels in October when bad weather caused temporary closures of offshore oil platforms.

Eni to cut petrol prices at some pumps - Italy antitrust

Italy's antitrust authority said on Thursday that oil companies, including Italy's ENI, had committed themselves to lowering petrol prices at self-service pumps.

IOC has new strategy for overseas projects

State-owned Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. says it has adopted an aggressive strategy for its overseas projects.

The company, an official said, has proposed combining upstream (oil and gas exploration) and downstream (refinery) activities while exploring business opportunities abroad.

Dolphins may stop oil exploration

A school of bottle nose dolphins may have put parts of Cardigan Bay off limits for oil and gas exploration, UK energy minister Malcolm Wicks has announced today (Thursday).

Marathon to build clean diesel unit at Canton

Marathon Oil said it plans to build a distillate hydrotreater at its 73,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Canton, Ohio, in 2008 to produce ultra-low sulfur diesel.

FutureGen Squad Ponders Next Move

The power and coal companies in charge of building a $1.8 billion futuristic power plant in eastern Illinois spent Wednesday trying to figure out what to do next.

Developers announced Tuesday that they plan to build the low-pollution plant in Mattoon, about 185 miles south of Chicago. But the group known as the FutureGen Alliance learned hours later the Department of Energy _ their partner and primary financier in the project - questions the cost and wants to restructure the project to avoid further expense.

Now, also lacking the final notice from the DOE that Mattoon is an environmentally acceptable site, FutureGen Alliance Chief Executive Mike Mudd said he isn't sure of his next step.

Biodiesel partners sue Chevron

Vendors have filed more than $6 million in liens against the first large-scale biodiesel production facility in North America as the plant’s once-lauded relationship with oil giant Chevron sours.

Petrobras plans 10 more biodiesel plants

Brazil's state oil company, Petrobras, plans to build 10 new biodiesel plants through 2012 in addition to three it is going to launch next year to meet Brazil's new diesel blending requirements.

Stargazing on the wild side

Here are Saxo’s Outrageous Predictions for 2008:

1. World oil prices to hit $175 even if growth slows

Much of the conventional wisdom on oil has been proven wrong over the past few years, as previously unimaginable new highs in the price of oil have only been a reflection of the strength of global growth, rather than an obstruction in its path. With the weak US dollar and shrinking profit margins for refiners, the end consumer in many places worldwide hasn’t noticed a difference between oil prices at $99 compared to oil prices at $75. Even if global growth slows in 2008, it will continue to move ahead in the emerging markets of the world where marginal energy demand is growing the most. As “peak oil” becomes an accepted principle and supply and demand do a nervous dance, the price risk in energy remains firmly to the upside.

Canada: Holiday spirit's running out of gas

The gas Grinch was giving people the grumps yesterday, and he'll be back today with an increase.

Just days before Christmas -- the most travelled holiday of the year -- a mini fuel shortage is plaguing the city.

UK: Motorists urged not to panic buy fuel

Motorists were last night warned not to panic buy fuel before Christmas after it emerged that shortages were forcing sporadic closures on some forecourts.

Sri Lanka faces 400MW energy shortfall in 2008

Sri Lanka faces a 400 megawatt (MW) energy shortfall in 2008, and an “energy crisis” looms large, unless immediate steps were taken to address problems in the energy sector, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has warned.

The country produced 99.7 percent of its energy needs with hydropower in 1986, but its contribution to generation has dropped “dramatically” to 37.7 percent in 2006 as demand outpaced the development of alternative indigenous resources, the ADB said.

Ontario in an energy crisis

Ontario needs to replace 80 percent of its current generating capacity over the next 20 years, 24,000 megawatts, said Paul Shervill, Vice President of Conservation and Sector Development, Ontario Power Authority. By 2025 Ontario hopes to get 6,300 megawatts of that badly needed power from conservation efforts, he said.

Albania Loan for Power Company

The Albanian government announced on Wednesday that it was giving a €33 million loan to the Albanian Power Corporation, KESH, which is struggling to cope with the high price of electricity imports.

No respite from power cuts on Eid

Most parts of the Valley will reel under dark even on Eid- ul-Azha as there won’t be any improvement in the power supply–hitting the festive celebrations due to the energy shortage and state government’s failure to ask for more from the Northern Grid, top sources told Greater Kashmir.

Uganda: Government power subsidy hits 113b

THE Government’s subsidy on electricity since 2004 has reached sh113b, creating doubt whether the sector is financially-viable.

Pemex deepwater output could reach 174,000 b/d by 2016

BNamericas reports that Mexico's state oil company Pemex could begin deepwater oil production by 2014 in a best-case scenario, the energy ministry (Sener) said in its 2007-16 oil forecast. Sener classifies deepwater as greater than 1,640 feet (500 m). Deepwater production could begin in 2014 with an average output of 19,000 b/d and increase to 174,000 b/d by 2016, according to the forecast.

LNG demand to outpace supply by 2 times until ’15 on plant delays

Royal Dutch Shell, BG Group and Total are among companies that may gain from liquefied natural gas sales as prices of the cleaner-burning fuel climb because of rising demand, a report said.

Demand will outpace supply by more than two times until 2015 because of delayed construction of processing plants, Bernstein Energy said in a report yesterday.

Rising freight rates: trouble for oil firms, cheer for ship owners

The freight bill of India’s oil companies such as state-owned Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, Reliance Petroleum Ltd and Essar Oil Ltd has increased significantly because of a sudden rise in rates for shipping crude oil on very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, a result of a shortage of such vessels.

The hike in ocean freight rates spells trouble for oil refiners who are reeling under soaring crude prices. But it will benefit local VLCC owners such as state-run Shipping Corp. of India Ltd and Essar Shipping and Logistics Ltd. Typically, a VLCC can transport 2 million barrels or about 280,000 tonnes of crude oil in a single journey.

Petrobras sees oil, gas output up 14 pct in 2008

Brazil's state oil company, Petrobras, expects domestic oil and gas production to rise more than 14 percent next year from the average so far this year as platforms that had come on stream with delays in 2006 reach capacity and others kick in.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan sign Caspian pipeline accord

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev oversaw a major new deal on Thursday to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Russia via Kazakhstan.

Iraq power going up, says Pentagon report

But this has only translated into an average of 15.1 hours of electricity per day across the country, with many provinces, including Baghdad, receiving less. Salah al-Din province, north of Baghdad, received the most average electricity with about 19.1 hours per day in November, according to the Pentagon report.

The use of private generators for a home or block is still prevalent, adding to the run on fuels that are in high demand but low supply in Iraq, a result of slow development of both the electricity and oil sectors.

StatoilHydro, Shell to drop Norway power plant

OSLO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Energy groups StatoilHydro and Shell said on Thursday they would scrap plans to build an environmentally friendly gas-fired power plant in Norway, but the Oslo government is now seeking alternatives.

The Norwegian unit of Royal Dutch Shell said the 860 megawatt (MW) plant that was planned at Tjeldbergodden in Norway and which had been intended to capture and store polluting gases, turned out to be too expensive.

Mexico's biggest clean up to transform refinery site

Mexico's oil monopoly Pemex is taking on the country's biggest ever environmental clean-up on land at a former refinery that will be turned into a huge park to mark the 200th independence anniversary from Spain.

Pemex will throw more than $50 million to make a toxic and potentially cancer-threatening site into a park in the north of Mexico City. The former oil refinery operated for almost 60 years until it was closed down in 1991 because of pollution.

The Beer Crisis: Trouble brewing

The hops shortage is only part of the problem. Things are no better for barley, used to make the malt that yeast turns into alcohol. It too has been ploughed under in favour of corn. Crop failures in Australia and Europe, combined with the weak dollar, have made it harder to replace the shortage with imports. Other price increases, of fuel, glass and metal, add to the pressure. Not such a merry Christmas.

Part III: The Price of Biofuels

While chemical engineers, microbiologists, agronomists, and others struggle to find ways of making cellulosic ethanol commercially competitive, a few synthetic biologists and metabolic engineers are focusing on an entirely different strategy. More than fifteen hundred miles away from the Midwest's corn belt, several California-based, venture-backed startups founded by pioneers in the fledging field of synthetic biology are creating new microörganisms designed to make biofuels other than ethanol.

Taiwan: Ethanol gasoline crops to replace biodiesel project

Harvests from two years of trial production of biofuel crops such as sunflowers delivered less than expected as a result of inclement weather and pests.

The New Atomic Age

Nuclear power is making a comeback, and TVA hopes to lead the way with its first new reactors in 30 years. But can it really solve our energy problems?

FedEx profit falls on higher fuel costs

Package delivery company FedEx Corp. said Thursday its fiscal second-quarter earnings fell 6 percent, as the impact of high fuel costs and a weakening U.S. economy overshadowed international growth.

Botswana: Mines pride themselves in low vacancy rate

Other problems bedeviling the diamond mines on the production front, he said were shortage and high cost of tyres, stating that other consumables such as fuel and electricity were emerging as major concerns in terms of prices and potential shortages.

IT leaders share green-tech predictions for 2008

Green tech has flourished in the past year as vendors and customers alike have invested plenty of resources in making their products and practices more energy efficient, less wasteful, and eco-friendlier.

But is this sustainable-tech trend a mere green flash in the pan? Hardly. The flourishing world of green technology is driven by true need. Companies are running out of space and power in their datacenters, not to mention struggling with high energy costs. Business leaders, politicians, and consumers alike are becoming increasingly concerned about their impact on the environment.

Nature in the Nixon era

As The Times prepares to endorse a presidential candidate for the first time in more than 35 years, the editorial board will examine the candidates' stances on issues through our own sense of the meaning of some essential American values. How much have The Times' values changed since its 1972 endorsement of Richard Nixon? We'll find out by looking through editorials from that year.

We may drive a Prius, but we live in a Hummer

The big lumbering gas guzzling V8's of the forties and fifties would be driven home to the energy guzzling, thinly insulated, drafty homes of a new suburbia. The cars would last about 5 five years. The homes however would last an average of 75 years.

Running just to stand still

Since its nationalisation in 1938, Mexican oil has been the preserve of Petróleos Mexicanos, a state monopoly. Pemex resembles a poorly run government ministry. Its past three chief executives have all been accused of corruption (though some of these allegations may stem from bureaucratic infighting). It must comply with onerous procurement rules meant to prevent graft, which in practice are merely a drag on getting things done.

This flawed behemoth is now in “a race against time” to compensate for Cantarell, says Fabio Barbosa, an energy specialist at Mexico's National Autonomous University. It is a race that Pemex seems likely to lose. In a document released in December setting out its strategy for the next five years, the energy ministry forecast that total oil production would decline to 2.5m b/d unless policies were reformed, and would remain roughly constant even if the industry were liberalised.

A Viable Rail System Trumps Widening the Freeway

News flash: Widening freeways does not reduce congestion or air pollution. Widening freeways increases congestion and air pollution. The generally accepted definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. How is widening freeways in Southern California not insane by that definition?

Louisiana's natural defenses at risk

Louisiana is losing 24 square miles of its coast each year. Since 1930, 2,100 square miles of land have vanished — an area larger than the size of Delaware. Katrina and Rita further mauled the coast, consuming 217 square miles of it in a three-week period, Ford said.

Louisiana's coast is not just important to local residents. Around 24% of America's domestic crude oil and 19% of its natural gas is produced off the coast of Louisiana, according to the state's Department of Natural Resources.

Jim Rogers: What Peak Oil Will Do for Cotton

Cotton is a good way to buy oil - hear me out. Much apparel has been made from synthetics. Synthetics come from oil. So many textile makers are converting back to natural fibers because oil is at an all-time high. So if you want to buy oil, buy sugar [because it is easy to turn into ethanol], or buy cotton. What I'm buying right now is agriculture.

Fertility rate in USA on upswing

The fertility rate among Americans has climbed to its highest level since 1971, setting the country apart from most industrialized nations that are struggling with low birthrates and aging populations.

...A high fertility rate is important to industrialized nations. When birthrates are low, there are fewer people to fill jobs and support the elderly.

Boomers discover that it's easy being green

In a Christmas shopping season in which former vice president Al Gore won a Nobel Prize for his work alerting the world to the dangers of global warming, more consumers say they are trying to "shop green."

Tom Whipple - The Peak Oil Crisis: Issues

As 2007 winds down, it is good time to review some of the major issues that those of us following the peak oil story are watching closely.

Depletion vs. Production is, of course, the heart of the peak oil story. Every year production from the world’s existing oil fields declines by several million barrels a day. Every year new sources of liquid fuel, new oil fields, more natural gas liquids, ethanol etc., must be found to replace the losses and hopefully to satisfy increasing demand. For the last two years, new supplies have been roughly balancing declines so there has been little growth in world production. Some day soon depletion will get ahead of new sources of oil and other liquid fuels for such an extended period that it will be obvious to all that peak oil has arrived.

The Dreaded ‘R’ Word

What makes the mortgage crisis particularly interesting is its conjuncture with the unfolding energy crisis. It’s taken until now for some chickens to begin coming home to roost respecting the soaring cost of crude oil, as we’re being told that due to high energy prices on the farm, the cost of a box of Fruit Loops and other cereals will double by mid-year.

Yesterday, following the signing of the comprehensive energy bill, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman conceded in a TV interview, “There is real concern out there about the availability of oil in the world.”

EPA rejects states' greenhouse-gas limits on cars

The Bush administration Wednesday derailed an attempt by California and 12 other states to enact the nation's first greenhouse gas-limits on new vehicles.

The efforts by states to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions that are considered a prime cause of climate change are not necessary in light of the energy bill just signed into law by President Bush, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency said.

Oil jumps as U.S. stockpiles fall near 3-year low

Oil prices rallied on Wednesday as a slump in U.S. crude oil stockpiles to their lowest level in nearly three years rekindled worries of a winter supply crunch.

Stranded oil tanker blocks Suez traffic

Traffic in Egypt's Suez Canal was disrupted today after an oil tanker broke down in the waterway, a canal authority official told Agence France-Presse.

The 150,000-tonne tanker, flying the Maltese flag and travelling from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, rammed the east bank of the canal after its navigation system broke down, the official said.

Too early to hike gas taxes - Russia Econ Min

Russia should not raise the mineral extraction tax on natural gas, Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina said on Thursday, in comments that point to Gazprom continuing to pay lower taxes than oil firms.

Siberian refinery makes Euro quality gasoline

Russian oil company Rosneft has begun producing European-standard gasoline at one of its remotest Siberian refineries after the latest in a wave of refinery upgrades across the former Soviet Union.

Nigerian gunmen attack oil, government facilities

Nigerian gunmen attacked an oil industry barge, a jetty and a government building on Wednesday, briefly capturing 18 Filipino crew and fighting with troops, officials said on Thursday.

Violence has been on the increase for the past month in the Niger Delta, where about 2.1 million barrels of crude are pumped every day. Armed rebels say they are losing patience with peace talks launched in June by Nigeria's new government.

Sustainable holidays

With the advent of global climate change and peak oil, rampant consumerism takes on a more threatening aspect. Buying lots of stuff means more and more goods being manufactured and transported around the world, using more and more fuel and producing more and more greenhouse gases.

So the gifts we give to loved ones not only incur costs to our pocketbooks, but also many hidden costs to our planetary life support system, as well as to under-paid and over-worked people in Third World countries.

South Korean oil spill worse than estimated

Nearly 80,000 barrels of oil were spilled from a punctured supertanker off South Korea's western coast earlier this month — about 20 percent more than previous estimates, an official said Thursday.

...That places the spill at nearly a third the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster that sent 260,000 barrels of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound.

The spill — some 2 1/2 times bigger than South Korea's worst previous spill in 1995 — has severely jeopardized the ecosystem and spoiled hundreds of seafood farms in the area, which is also a prime tourism attraction.

Maine college becomes carbon neutral

Tiny College of the Atlantic, with 300 students and only one major, human ecology, has become the nation's first "carbon-neutral" campus, school officials said Wednesday.

The private college said it has offset emissions of 2,488 tons over the past 15 months by investing in a greenhouse gas reduction project in Oregon. The cost: about $25,000.

China: US must be positive on climate

The United States should take a more positive role in tackling climate change while developing nations improve their own domestic energy efficiency, China's chief climate change negotiator said Thursday.

Top climate scientist named "newsmaker of 2007" by Nature journal

The British weekly journal Nature on Wednesday named Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as "Newsmaker of the Year," an award reflecting an individual's contribution to public debate on science.

Re: Running hard just to stand still (Mexico)

In a document released in December setting out its strategy for the next five years, the energy ministry forecast that total oil production would decline to 2.5m b/d unless policies were reformed, and would remain roughly constant even if the industry were liberalised.

I am assuming that they are taling about total liquids. The 2006 EIA numbers are as follows:

Production: 3.7 mbpd
Consumption: 2.0
Net Exports: 1.7

So, they are suggesting net exports of 0.5 mbpd in five years, 2012, assuming flat consumption, which would be a net export decline rate of -20%/year. Note that Mexico is in the "red zone," i.e., consuming around 50% of production at peak. This resulted in the net exports from the UK and Indonesia crashing in seven and eight years respectively.

westexas -- isn't a 20% decline in Mexico about what most of us have expected lately? I don't recall, but that is about what I thought they'd see.

Is this directly alluded to in the MSM?

At least there is some reference to this, but it is still clouded with numbers with no context and murky allusions to "oil nationalism" and the like as our only problem.

When all one has is the world's largest military, every problem looks like a war, I guess.

No real surprises, but IMO the key difference between Pemex and Saudi Aramco is that Pemex has admitted that its best production is watering out. As I said last year, IMO Cantarell and Ghawar are two warning beacons heralding the onset of Peak Oil.

BTW, I think that David Shields has projected a sharper production decline rate, making it likely that Mexico will approach zero net exports not too long after 2010.

Of interest to peak oilers:
I'm just back from the AGU in San Francisco, at his big talk on climate tipping points, James Hansen said "oil is running out...". I wrote down what he said immediately in my notebook. He was arguing that we have to move to renewable energy anyway, so do it sooner and lessen climate change problems. He is desperately afraid of coal. Very longtime lurker, first post.

Thanks for that info, paleobotanist -- and welcome to posting!

I sure do understand Hansen's fear of coal. "Clean coal" is a monumental oxymoron.

It is good to hear that scientists of Hansen's stature are now also speaking out on peak oil and moving the discussion to an immediate shift to renewables.

Did Hansen comment as to whether he sees nuclear power as renewable, or as an inevitable deal-with-the-devil that we'll have to make on our way to renewables?

Once again, thanks -- glad to hear of Hansen's comments.

I hope the MSM picks up on them!

I'm afraid I can't remember if Hansen commented on nuclear. The AGU is 5-days of ~20 parallel sessions of presentations frpm 8 am to 6 pm. Unless I write something down immediately, I can't remember ;^)

Quite understandable! :)

I think that the energy debate will soon enter a kind of "grief bargaining" phase -- our preferred responses will be to do what we have been doing: more liquid fuels and more driving; more war against those who keep "our" oil from us; more coal and an effort to revive nuclear power alongside that.

Culture change -- huge shifts in the way we live and think about our relationship to the planet as a whole -- are needed, and immediately and urgently.

Our political and economic leaders ought to be talking about this culture change daily and with great urgency -- so far they are only talking about how to try to continue business as usual.

I'll make a comment about coal: the U.S. DOE is very interested in carbon sequestration. As it was explained to me, the only way to save the coal industry is to capture the carbon and sequester it. No congressman is going to be able to vote to dump the coal industry. Therefore, carbon sequestration must occur. Sounds great, but what's the problem? Pressurizing the CO2 and pumping it into the subsurface is expensive. If I remember correctly, at current prices it would just about double the cost of the coal.

Welcome in from the dark of lurking.

I recently heard Hansen and he's not a strong advocate for nuclear though he does allude that nuclear may be a viable option.

Here is a link to a recent paper on peak oil (ad his fear about coal):


Ohio is getting ready to design and build a Coal* Gasification plant at the behest of the Department of the Air Force.


Oil jumps as U.S. stockpiles fall near 3-year low

"Of the unexpectedly large drop in crude oil stocks this week, 5.8 million barrels came out of the Gulf Coast. That means the majority can be attributed to fog in the Houston Ship Channel last week," said Tim Evans, energy analyst at CitiGroup Futures Research in New York.

A sideways tanker in the Suez canal, and fog in the Houston shipping channel cause twitches in the price of oil worldwide. Suggests to me, at least, that the our civilization is near the elastic limit. Much more stretching, and we snap.

For want of a nail, a shoe was lost
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost
For want of a horse, a rider was lost
For want of a rider, a kingdom was lost
And all for want of a nail

A rare MSM story on food price inflation...

Food prices soar in America: higher food prices, led by milk, are hitting consumers where it hurts - in the stomach.

Even with gasoline prices soaring, milk still tops gas prices. The nationwide average for a gallon of whole milk is $3.80, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That dwarfs the nationwide average of $2.99 for a gallon of unleaded, according to AAA.

"A lot of basic foodstuffs seem to be going up and dairy products are going through the roof," said John Norris, director of wealth management for Oakworth Capital Bank and food price guru.

Norris said he's cut back his kids' milk consumption to one glass a night. But between work and family obligations, he still drives almost as much as he used to.

"That's the reason I cut down on milk consumption: so I can drive my car," said Norris.

"That's the reason I cut down on milk consumption: so I can drive my car," said Norris.

Ahh, the perfect quote for encompassing the current quest for biofuels.

The "Peak Fruit-Loops" story at top is also interesting. Of course, the cost of any breakfast cereal is mostly packaging and marketing (and profit), so a doubling of price based on grain prices alone would seem unlikely. Fruit-Loops is oats and sugar, but nobody talks about oat prices here. So, for everybody's enlightenment, here is all the oat news you know you need now:


Mr. Norris is described as "director of wealth management for Oakworth Capital Bank and food price guru." Which doesn't exactly sound like a minimum wage job. And he has to ration his kids to one glass of milk a day so he can keep driving?

Maybe Mr. Morris useta originate mortgages for Oakworth Bank.

Speaking of which...the economic news is not looking good today.

Bad news at Bear Stearns

Bear Stearns swung to a quarterly loss Thursday and said it was taking a $1.9 billion writedown due to bad bets made on risky home loans, becoming the latest Wall Street firm to deliver disappointing quarterly results.

Holiday Sales in U.S. Fall for Third Week After Winter Storms

Sales at U.S. retailers declined for the third straight week as storeowners grappled with winter storms and rising gasoline prices that discouraged shoppers during what may be the worst holiday season in five years.

Why the Fed has lost its mojo

Am I really saying that the Fed, which to many people still seems omniscient and omnipotent, has lost much of its mojo? I am. Why should you care? Because if the Fed continues to lose clout, it will be even harder than it is now to rescue the world's financial system when the next disaster strikes the markets. And there's always a next disaster.

I've done ZERO in-store shopping, and plan to keep it that way. I don't have time to go drive 30 minutes just to GET to the store, spend even more time there, and then spend another 30 minutes to drive home. That is a complete waste. I'll spend the $5 on shipping for each gift.

Ditto, except that I did go to a few small independent shops at my small town and buy some locally-made handcrafts. A much better choice than the Chinese-slave-labor-pollution-spewing-factory-made stuff at Sprawl-Mart!

The pattern in recent years is that the MSM report glowing sales around Thanksgiving. Evidently to attract advertisers. Then they tone down the sales forecast as Christmas approaches. After Christmas, the news is that sales were down or didn't keep pace with inflation. Being an atheist, it warms my heart to hear of another failed Christmas season.

I love Christmas! But what I love is the traditions, not the rampant consumerism.

All of our ornaments and stuff were hand me downs from family, or bought once and used for literally something like 20 years. The old records were taken out and played. We sang carols at school and at home and any other time a kid could be gotten to sing carols, which was pretty often, looking back. We made Christmas cookies.

A Christmas with togetherness and traditions and one present each is far far better than one with gobs of stuff in place of love.

And actually making presents rules. I once whittled a set of drumsticks for one of my younger sisters - sure a pair was maybe $3 in the store but I sure as hell didn't have the $3.

The only purchase that I have made is a new Gateway desktop computer for my wife. Her old HP finally gave up and croaked. Office Depot had the GW on sale for half of what I paid for mine about 18 months ago and mine has turned out to be a very good machine.

The grand kids will get cards with real cash in them. Everyone else will get a card...or coal and switches. :)

Hi River,

I'll take the card, thanks :)

Until I was about 8 years old, Xmas was plentiful, exceptional, dizzy-making food, such as roast chicken, 4 vegetables, 3 desserts, etc. (With small, no cost gifts for us kids, a tree, songs, etc.) Then my parents started to earn money in proper jobs, and the beribboned packages started to pile up. And up!

40 some years later, I have returned to the same system. With one difference: I will give 10 small sums to 10 charities, because within the Swiss system, my gift makes me a ‘member’ and the association (non profit) can use me and all its other members for clout. (I am also available for advice.) Its the best compromise I could come up with for this year. As this ain’t a cooking board I won’t post the menu.


"NEW YORK (AP) - This might have been one of Wall Street's most dismal years in a decade, but that hasn't stopped bonus checks from rising an average of 14 percent."

Four of the biggest U.S. investment banks - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. - will pay out about $49.6 billion in compensation this year. Of that, bonuses are traditionally estimated to represent 60 percent, or almost $30 billion."

Newsflash: Santa has dementia. Naughty and nice lists mixed up.

And yet, it is absolutely unthinkable that we should raise income taxes even a little bit on these parasites.

Mr. Norris is described as "director of wealth management for Oakworth Capital Bank and food price guru." Which doesn't exactly sound like a minimum wage job. And he has to ration his kids to one glass of milk a day so he can keep driving?

Maybe he has a really big car, or drives long distances. Let's not be so judgmental.

"Maybe he has a really big car, or drives long distances. Let's not be so judgmental."

I can't really tell if that was a joke or not (I suspect it is), but there's obviously something more wrong if the guy can't pony-up $6 or so a week for more milk.

From an NPR story this morning:

Food packaging giant General Mills says it expects higher food and energy costs in the coming year. The maker of Cheerios, Yoplait and Pillsbury posted a slight increase in net income for the recent quarter and sales that were better than expected. But higher prices for basic ingredients like corn and wheat means reducing discounts to customers. It also shrunk the size of its cereal boxes and increased the average price of its cereal. The company's CEO says consumers did not notice.

That dude needs to get a better research group. We noticed.

Damn straight I noticed. The same Family Size box of cereal I buy shrunk 5 oz. in one week, but remained the same price. THAT is a type of inflation that is ignored in the gov stats.

The same Family Size box of cereal I buy shrunk 5 oz. in one week, but remained the same price. THAT is a type of inflation that is ignored in the gov stats.

From the CPI FAQ:

"If the selected item is no longer available, or if there have been changes in the quality or quantity (for example, eggs sold in packages of 8 when they previously had been sold by the dozen) of the good or service since the last time prices had been collected, the economic assistant selects a new item or records the quality change in the current item."

So shrinking packages are noticed by government statistics just as they're noticed by customers.

I, for one, get irritated at a company when they shrink packages instead of increasing prices. I'd rather pay 10/9x than get 9/10x; saves on trips and packaging, if nothing else.

On the other hand, you can no longer buy the old 25 cent mini potato chip packages. You have to get the 3 ounce plus packages for $1.29.

Dragonfly, it's ignored in the CPI because of the hedonic adjustment -- it's a better quality cereal.

"..did not notice.."

This of course being the euphemism for

'We got away with it. They're still buying our cardboard boxes full of pre-sweetened cardboard'

The sad part being that 'There's no food in your food!' as Joan Cusack said in 'Say Anything' (right?)

Go back to oatmeal, brothers and sisters. Stop buying air.


They mention stuff like Froot Loops because they are an American staple. You can throw some sugary stuff in a box at your kids in the morning and give 'em their sugar high in place of love.

This is why Snackables/Lunchables are also so popular - lots of hidden sugar, get a good high off 'em after starving all day with nothing for breakfast but Froot Loops and they're in a package all ready to go that a 3-year old can figure out, just toss 'em that in place of love.

Love as in giving a damn and cooking proper food.

And this is why a banker values his gas-guzzler more than MILK for his kids whom he probably hardly knows.

Yeah, I grew up with the same addictions, but my Mom was working us away from it, even early on. I was anemic until Mom read in some hippy-dippy mag that I 'Should' be snacking anytime I was hungry, and it should ONLY be from a fruit bowl.

Next doc's visit, I was completely 'Normal'.. it's a miracle!

But I still have cravings for Poptarts, and would love to snag a box of Apple-Jacks sometime, if they still exist.. Food issues go deep.

Actually I'm old enough, mid-40s, to have grown up with the old way of doing things, Mom actually made us eggs and toast, oatmeal, etc. Dad would fry bacon, we ate breakfast together, it was great. Dinner was baked chicken, cassaroles, it just friggin' ruled.

Then as our family disintegrated and we became poorer and poorer we went to all packaged foods wherever possible, anything you could throw at the kids without giving a shit about them. We lived on stuff like Kraft mac and cheese, made with no milk and if we were very lucky, a can of tuna mixed in.

This was by far not the cheapest food, but it was by far the one way to keep the kids from starving with the smallest possible amount of love or care.

And this is how Americans live now. Kids all around us were growing up the same way (except for the weird uber-religious ones who weren't allowed to play with us) and basically I saw a whole society decay all around me.

So when I say Americans are going to pitch a major freak when Froot Loops double in price, it's because they really will. It will take a HUGE rebuilding of society before moms will make their kids eggs and toast in the morning and the family will eat breakfast together.

I'm not that keen on breakfast cereal or Pop-Tarts. But I love Kraft macaroni and cheese. My mom actually didn't serve it very often. It was a very occasional treat.

Nowadays, macaroni and cheese is really big. They sell it at fast food places (fried into little cakes, so you can eat it on the go). There are restaurants that only serve mac and cheese. There are recipes for making it from scratch everywhere. It's on the menu in tony gourmet restaurants, made with five different kinds of biodynamically produced cheese, and topped with crabmeat or caviar.

But I like plain ol' Kraft. Everything else tastes bland in comparison.

I even donated several six-packs to the local food drive. It's what I would want if someone was giving me food. (At least when I was a kid - I try to eat healthier now.) The only kid I knew who didn't like Kraft mac and cheese was the one whose mom used to mix wheat germ and shredded veggies into it to make it healthier. Once she had it made the normal way, she loved it.

Hi Leanan,

Yes, it's one of those truisms that kids like plain food, esp. mac and cheese (or pizza).

Since we're talking brand names here, have you tried "Annie's"? Better than Kraft, believe it or not. Comes in both organic and non-organic versions. Annie's is about as healthy as it gets. I think the price is comparable - it's frequently on sale.

Good mac and cheese is GOOD.

This was (a) not enough (b) not made with milk. OR butter. Or any extras just the nuclear-orange cheese powder and water and (c) just not all that satisfying after not eating all day. Yes we wolfed it down. Sure. But it's one of those "poverty foods" I've had trouble reconciling with.

I'm sorry but it was many years before I was able to eat mac and cheese again.

But it is good, done right, you can make it from scratch, it's not hard to do at all.

I don't know if I've seen Annie's in the stores here. Kraft also makes an organic version, though.

I actually don't eat macaroni and cheese very often these days. It's too much work and takes too long. :)

But I am storing more food these days than I used to. (Hey, the government recommended it, even though they're worried about bird flu, not peak oil.) Boxed mac and cheese is not ideal, since it has to be cooked, but it will last indefinitely.

I actually don't eat macaroni and cheese very often these days. It's too much work and takes too long

Ha ha ha ha! You must either eat out, eat out of a can, or eat frozen stuff a lot! Since I've moved to my farmette last year 95% of my meals are homemade from scratch. I'm preparing some homemade biscuits and gravy as I type. I must confess, however, I am a sucker for Kraft four cheese mac n' cheese.

I do eat a lot of frozen stuff. Fresh food goes bad too quickly, so even when I buy fresh, I end up freezing it, because I can't eat it all.

I am trying to cook more. I just find the whole process very tedious. Especially when it comes to things like waiting for water to boil. I tend to wander off, forget about the stove, and come back when the water's almost boiled dry. I prefer cooking methods that you can forget about for awhile. The microwave and the toaster oven will shut off automatically. The crock pot is very forgiving. The stove and the oven are a pain.

One could probably "Kraft" a pretty funny story about archaeologists from the 45th century coming across a box of mac & cheese during a dig, and fixing themselves a meal.

If they were real unlucky they would find a can of spam next to it.

Hi Bob,

re: "oatmeal".

For the benefit of the listening audience (esp. those in DC) - did you know (I'm sure you do, Bob) - it's really easy to make your own snacking-type cereal and/or muesli? that doesn't need to be cooked, even. (Just add - whatever liquid.)

Use "fine cut" raw organic oats. Available at your local food co-op. Add whatever dried fruit (cut up, if necessary), nuts (cut up if necessary) and...a few rice crispies :)? Fine cut oats can be eaten raw. (Or, you could always heat it up, if you like.)

It is a joke. But, it really isn't a joke that between driving and parking on one hand and people's children on the other - it's often hard to tell where people's priorities are.

The green PC response might be that the guy should get his kids off of cow's milk anyway and go to Soy milk. Of course it is probably more expensive..... can't win.

Soy milk better than cows milk? Not necessarily, even if the soy milk is organic. Locally produced organic milk may be better than industrial-organic soymilk that consumes far more energy for production and transport. But on the other hand, there IS all that bovine flatulence. Quelle dilemma!

Soy milk, if buying the Walmart brand, is $2.44 for 1/2 gal in Arkansas. If you buy a 2-pack at Sams you can normally get 1 gal for $5.20 or so. More expensive than standard milk, but it's on par or sometimes cheaper than organic cow milk.

Hi Durandal,

Is this Walmart brand organic?

How much does it cost to make soy milk yourself?

A lot of different greens out there though, ET.

We're using Raw Milk and unpasturized/unhomogenized Dairy products, Cheese, Yoghurt, etc..

Rice milk might be OK.. but as said yesterday, I'm not buying processed Soy foods these days. (Except Fermented, as with Tempeh and Shoyu sauce.)

" Soybeans come to us from the Orient. During the Chou Dynasty (1134 - 246 BC) the soybean was designated one of the five sacred grains, along with barley, wheat, millet and rice. However, the pictograph for the soybean, which dates from earlier times, indicates that it was not first used as a food; for whereas the pictographs for the other four grains show the seed and stem structure of the plant, the pictograph for the soybean emphasizes the root structure. Agricultural literature of the period speaks frequently of the soybean and its use in crop rotation. Apparently the soy plant was initially used as a method of fixing nitrogen.3 "

From the fringy edges of the Outer Rim..
Bob the Hutt

ps.. Our Daughter, at 4.5 has never had an ear infection. Ever.

EDIT- adding one more para from lower in the linked doc.

" Soybeans are also high in phytic acid or phytates. This is an organic acid, present in the bran or hulls of all seeds, which blocks the uptake of essential minerals-calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc-in the intestinal tract. Although not a household word, phytates have been extensively studied. Scientists are in general agreement that grain and legume based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries.5 Analysis shows that calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc are present in the plant foods eaten in these areas, but the high phytate content of soy and rice based diets prevents their absorption. The soybean has a higher phytate content than any other grain or legume that has been studied.6 Furthermore, it seems to be highly resistant to many phytate reducing techniques such as long, slow cooking.7 "

(Phytic Acid.. Which is why you also want to soak your oats overnight, preferably with whey or yohurt before cooking and eating it..) bob

Of course, there is always the other side in a foodfight:


From charts contained on pages 30-34 of Food Phytates (edited by Rukma Reddy and Shridhar Sathe, CRC Press, ISBN # 1-56676- 867-5):

 Poison  % Phytates by mass
 soy milk
 durham wheat
 whole wheat bread
 wheaties cereal
 corn muffin

A typical portion of breakfast cereal consists of two ingredients, cereal & milk. The proportions: three-quarters of a cup of Wheaties weighs 22.5 grams. One-half cup of soymilk weighs 122.5 grams. Ergo, the wheaties contain 342 milligrams of phytates. The soymilk contains 135 milligrams of phytates.

and then also:

"Recent investigations have focused on the beneficial effect of food phytates, based upon their strong mineral-chelating property...The beneficial effects include lowering of serum cholesterol and triglycerides and protection against certain diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, renal stone formation, and certain types of cancers."

Just eat a variety of foods.

Thanks for the counterpoint.

I'm not sure why the second quote describes Chelation of Minerals as a benefit, unless it's also drawing out unwanted minerals.

As far as Cholesterol is concerned, this is one of the main sticking points that the Weston Price crowd has with a lot of contemporary nutritional theory. To whit;

"The Benefits of High Cholesterol

By Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD

People with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one´s brainwashed mind to fully understand its importance. Yet the fact that people with high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific papers. Consider the finding of Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University, who reported in 1994 that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people with a high cholesterol.1 Supporters of the cholesterol campaign consistently ignore his observation, or consider it as a rare exception, produced by chance among a huge number of studies finding the opposite.

But it is not an exception; there are now a large number of findings that contradict the lipid hypothesis. To be more specific, most studies of old people have shown that high cholesterol is not a risk factor for coronary heart disease. This was the result of my search in the Medline database for studies addressing that question.2 Eleven studies of old people came up with that result, and a further seven studies found that high cholesterol did not predict all-cause mortality either.

Now consider that more than 90 % of all cardiovascular disease is seen in people above age 60 also and that almost all studies have found that high cholesterol is not a risk factor for women.2 This means that high cholesterol is only a risk factor for less than 5 % of those who die from a heart attack. "

.. for what it's worth. It's an interesting article, but I haven't heard enough debate about the Weston Price theories to know how it stands up. Like anything we talk about around here.. we'll see.


Yeah, I think they're talking about unwanted minerals. Like heavy metal poisoning (lead, mercury, etc.).

Not really. One idea was that excess iron in the lower intestine, which might generate free radicals and possibly cancer, is reduced by chelation. Actually, recent research hasn't found reduction in cancer with high fiber diets, but who knows.

Yes, it's really surprising how little science there is that supports the conventional wisdom on diet and nutrition.

It's more likely that, in old people, lower cholesterol in just a symptom of an overall decline in hormone production and not a direct cause of the heart disease.

Phytates are used by seeds (grains and nuts) as a way to store large amounts of phosphorous needed for germination and early survival of the plant. 70-85% of the P in nuts is in the form of phytic acid. Iron in spinach and other veggies is partly tied up in phytates as well. We deal with this by producing an enzyme which deactivates phytates, and there is evidence to suggest that absorption of minerals through the intestine varies depending on the body's need for it.

Eating has always been a compromise. There is also the link/non-link between soy and dementia:


Oh bother...

Yes. It's difficult, and every report seems to contradict the one from 5yrs ago.. I'm a big newbie on the Nutrition front, so it helps to hear a lot of sides and 'yeah, buts'..

Thanks for playing..

What was that scene from that Woddy Allen movie? The one where the guys in lab coats are eating a hot fudge sundae, and one of them says: "People used to think these were bad for you. Little did they know then what we know now!"

Beware of the Weston Price people. I can't vouch for or against them. I have Sally Fallon's book. But I'm beginning to hear some disturbing things about them and their methods.


I personally like butter, lard, meat (and grow and process it all myself) and I don't care for soy; but that doesn't mean I think soy is evil and cholesterol is god's gift.


I sometimes despair that an "egg" like me can understand anything anymore. There are so many mountains of experts out there, and they look scientific to me, that I simply can't comb through them all.

The way they (the Price people) cozy up with Rudolph Steiner makes me uncomfortable.

I'm a distinct anti-mystic.

The jury's still out on the Price Foundation, but it's not looking good from my POV.

I'll have a look.

Some groups promote ideas 'counter' to the general perception (PO?) and a culture develops that gets all precious, defensive and conspiratorial about their 'special wisdom' .. and while extremely annoying, it still doesn't 'necessarily' defeat their actual message.

I grew up on a Prep School campus (Gould in Bethel ME), and I am fascinated by 'Internal and Persistent Cultures' and some of the Siege mentalities that can develop in various institutions.. owing as much to the 'charismatic' founders as to the premise that the group is based upon. (EDIT) AND, I should add, that these cultural features can just as well be beneficial as they can be detriments.

I'm also a Unitarian, and we still get called a cult. Who knows, maybe they're right?


Just anecdotal but I bought Nourishing Traditions a couple of years ago. I don't do everything they suggest (just not up for raw meat!). But I did switch to whole milk yogurt and am making an effort to increase the amount of homemade broth I use. Previously I needed a new crown or a cavity filled every six months and I had a number of teeth with gum recession at a "3" or a "4" (bad). Since switching my diet around, no gum recession, no cavities whatsover. What I am saving on dental bills more than pays for the fresh milk I use for the yogurt and the time it takes to make broth.

There is also the oxalic acid in many greens that bind up the calcium in the greens and render it less available. Like you say, eat a variety of foods.

RE cholesterol: I believe many have developed the opinion that the HDL/LDL ratio is more important than the absolute level of cholesterol.

I thought if you lived in the U.S. the soy comes to you from the gene labs at Monsanto.

Shhhhhhh! I think it's illegal to talk about that in the Empire.

Don't talk about Whole Foods and their Republican/Bush Family links either.....

You can't fool me. It's soy juice. There's no such thing as soy milk, because there's no such thing as a soy tit. -- Lewis Black ...

Because Nudity Sells, one more note on Oats.

Naked Oats -
"Generally considered to have originated in Eurasia, the oat species, Avena sativa, was domesticated relatively late in human history, some 2,100 years ago. Now grown throughout the temperate zone, oats are characterized by a short growing period and wide adaptation to different types of soil, climates and ecological conditions. In China today oats are most often grown in the northern regions and throughout Inner Mongolia, where numerous species and subspecies of wild oats are also found. Though the climate is harsh in the high altitude of Tibet, oats grow in all parts of this mountainous country as well, and wild types of oats are also commonly seen. In contrast to other oat-producing countries, however, the predominant form of oats grown in China has been the hulless variety, Avena nuda, or naked oats."

biofuels would not be driving up the cost of milk and other cow related projects if they just let cow's be cows and not house them in gigantic warehouses in cages barely big enough for them to stand in and force feed them in conveyer belts corn, somthing they did not evolve to eat.. this would also greatly reduce the greenhouse emissions too. not only that but the cows would be healthier and the products we make from them would be too. the only catch is you can't feed as many people that way.

i see what you mean. meat and dairy products are really a concentrated form of fossil fuel inputs.

I'm going to start experimenting with making my own yogurt and cheese; I've already got the yogurt maker on order. It doesn't look all that hard to do.

Not having a cow or goat, the milk will be expensive, but the value added will be my own and not something on top that I need to pay for. I'll be able to buy economically in gallons instead of quarts without worrying about the milk going bad (we don't habitually drink milk, so just need a little for recipies.) Plus, that's just one more re-localizing of a formerly distant source of supply.

If milk goes high enough, maybe I'll need to think about getting a dairy goat sooner rather than later.

Both are easy to make. Lots of guidance on the web. Never needed a yogurt maker. We've used powdered milk for yogurt most of the time. At least at current prices in Kansas City our cheeses cost less than the stuff in the grocery store and tastes better. We've been using the grocery's whole milk and locally produced goats' milk. Grocery for quick cheeses and goat for more complicated recipes that require aging.

I use an igloo cooler for my yogurt. All you really need.
A thermometer is nice, but you can judge the temperature of the milk with your wrist.

I make my own yogurt cheese and cottage cheese with recipes I found on the web. Haven't tried the aged cheeses yet as we can get locally produced cheese here in the Kansas City area.

Both are easy to make.

I've been doing this for awhile. Someone who posts here even buys my yogurt! ;]

It comes right out of the cow's teat, then I skim it and scald (pasteurize) it. I add culture and incubate. The problem here is temp. control. The culture basically heats in the warming oven of our kitchen range. The results vary.

We're finding that reused cultures will tend to deteriorate over time, probably from contamination from the air. The yogurts get more and more sour (though they're still edible).

We're going to try ordering a culture from New England Cheesemaking.

We made yogurt in the oven.

Leave the oven off, but change the wattage of the light bulb in there until you get the desired temperature. (No CFL's)

We bought one small cup of plain Dannon (with active cultures), and put one small scoop of that into cups with whole milk.

Since this was 30 years ago, I forget how long it took to turn into yogurt.

Topped with Smuckers jam.

There are lots of recipes out there for making yoghurt from dry milk which can be purchased more cheaply than liguid milk. I know Costco has 8# containers that make 10 gallons of "milk.". I don't know about places like Sam's Club.


Already have a yoghourt maker - a saucepan (with a little help from the wife) After introducing the culture to the warm milk keep the saucepan in a warm place for 24 hours.

No capital outlay on new equipment.

Mind you like to hear how the cheese goes.

We stick ours in the food dryer.

Blessed are the cheese makers

He shoulda said blessed are the bignoses!

If you can find raw milk, use it. I found years ago that store bought milk had a greater tendency to yield a 'dead' batch of yogurt, presumably because of residual antibiotics that inhibited or killed the yogurt culture. Otherwise, yogurt is very forgiving in the creation process. We used to wrap several half-gallon jars in the warming oven above our wood stove and even through cold nights after the fire had been out, the cultures would 'yoge' just fine.

Our local store now carries local organic milk at a somewhat reasonable price. The label says "no antibiotics", so hopefully that will work.


re: "I've already got the yogurt maker on order."

Can you return it?

It uses electricity, right?

The warming part of making yogurt can be done in an gas oven w. the pilot on, or maybe if no pilot, then...(don't know.) or maybe even a solar oven (haven't tried this, but assume so)

The only point of the "maker" is that it keeps the yogurt warm while in process. (AFAIK).

The only point of the "maker" is that it keeps the yogurt warm while in process.

Yes. It's also convenient, since it comes with little jars that you cap and put in the fridge as single-servings. (At least the ones I've seen.)

But you can make yogurt in a big bowl with a towel on top, and many people still do it that way in Europe.

That's the thing, it needs to be quick, simple and easy. I can make homemade bread from scratch the old-fashioned way, but the way that breadmaking actually gets DONE in my house is with a breadmaker, because it is quick, simple and easy. If I had to do it all the old way, it probably wouldn't get done at all very often, and I'd be back to store-bought bread.

Maybe someday, when neither I nor my wife are any longer working in 8-5 jobs and have all day to work at home and in the garden on feeding ourselves, I'll dispense with all the electric gadgets and go back to the the old ways of doing everything. There's something to be said for getting a head start on as many things as possible, though, even if it is only halfway.

Here's a recipe from Mireille Guiliano. She says she got it in Greece.


1 quart whole or 2% milk
1-2 tablespoons plain yogurt as a start or 1-2 tablespoons of a commercial starter (available at natural food stores)


1. Warm up the milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until bubbles appear around the edge and steam rises from the milk.

2. Pour the warm milk into a large bowl to cool until temperature reaches 110 F on a cooking thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, do what the locals do: the temperature is correct when you can keep your index finger in the warm milk for 20 seconds.

3. Put the starter in a small bowl, add some of the heated milk, and stir until well-blended. Return the mixture to the large bowl, a third at a time, making sure to stir and blend well after each addition. End with a final stir, making sure all is well blended. Cover with a heavy towel and keep in a warm place 6 to 8 hours or overnight (a gas oven with a pilot light is fine, or placing a saucepan of hot water in the over to raise the temperature will help if your home is not warm enough).

4. When set, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours before serving. If thicker yogurt is desired, empty chilled yogurt in a muslin bag or cheesecloth, suspend over a bowl, and drain.

To this thread --

Food miles do eat up energy. Some transfers are obviously lunatic, make no sense in any circumstance, except for the profiteers, who are on the whole only acting in a rational ‘profit’ type scheme, from their position.

I remember about 3 years ago I worked out one example - yoghurt from the UK to the ‘continent’ and vv. and found that the UK exported as much as it imported, all of course in refrigerated trucks, only the brands, flavors, packaging, varied.

Danone France exported myrtille (blueberry) yog. to England, and the Brits exported apple yog. to France! Take it just as a prototypical example, emblematic, even if I can’t work it out again (these things change rapidly..)

However specialization and exchange can’t just be dismissed out of hand - how should trade be regulated or curtailed? Local consumption is good - but how local is local? A beet farmer should survive on beets? And who decides? Who controls?

In the past, before the oil age, limits to transport curtailed world wide exchanges.

Re the food issue, I think a post I just did at an economics blog might fit here.

For context, to this paragraph of mine in a previous post:

"Turning soybean (or sunflower, or rapeseed) oil into biodiesel is a proven, cheap, scalable technology with EROEI > 1. When high enough oil prices make it viable, a huge share of today's agricultural production from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, etc. will be diverted into biodiesel production. Land arbitraging based on profits per acre will then divert land from wheat and corn into soybeans. Food exports will drop, and poor people will be priced out of food."

one of the few Hubbert's Peak-aware, echologically-minded posters there replied:

"the above paragraph presents a problem. The reason why things appear to be "cheap" is because the environmental factors have, to this point, been largely discounted. ... add farming and land-clearing together and you'll find that we're increasing CO2 emissions through our attempts to decrease it! ... Soil degradation is something that people completely overlook. All of this agrifuel production is having a major impact on depleting our soils. This is further exasperated by declining natural gas supplies (increasing costs here); NG is the feedstock for producing our synthesized fertilizers."

to which I replied:

My paragraph above does present a problem even without considering CO2 emissions and soil degradation. I'm saying there will be less food and massive starvation in the next decades, that in effect the world is at peak food now, that 9+ billion demographic scenarios don't stand a chance, that the third horseman is coming driving a biodiesel-powered SUV.

All this doesn't sound good, but I suggest the following mental exercise. Assume you are in England in 1938 and have the opportunity to broadcast a radio message to all Jews in Germany. What will you tell them?
a. "The German government must respect your human, civil and political rights."
b. "In a very short time, the German government will start enslaving and killing you."?

And in contrast to the Holocaust, the coming starvation will not come out of the evil madness of a few. It will be the result of the foreseeable consensus of whole societies. Will you say to Argentines "Don't produce biodiesel, learn to live without fuels, go back to horses and oxen, and keep exporting wheat to the hungry of the world"? Won't they reply "Since when do we have the duty of feeding the world?"

Re CO2 emissions and soil degradation, have in mind that, in contrast with Indonesia and Malaysia, for South America we are talking about agricultural production that is being done now. I'm saying that the oil from the soybean they are currently planting will be turned into biodiesel, and that some of the land they are currently planting with wheat and corn will be turned to soybean. Actually, Amazon deforestation to plant soybean will proceed, but how can you stop it? Again, will you say to Brazilians "Stop clearing land, learn to live without fuels, go back to horses and oxen, because the sea level may rise in 100 years?" Won't they tell you to go straight to the Amazon and enjoy the friendly biodiversity while you can? (i.e. get eaten by a jaguar)

Furthermore, even when biofuels includes corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel, these two are completely different animals. You might be interested in the National Academy of Sciences recent report titled "Water Implications of Biofuel Production in the United States" at
which is commented by Nate Hagens in http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3285
(BTW, Nate is doing a PhD in ecological economics mentored by Robert Constanza.)

I will quote a key point from the NAS report:

"Nitrogen application rates are much lower for soybeans than for corn because soybeans, which are legumes, fix their own nitrogen from the atmosphere. Pesticide application rates for soybean are about half those for corn."
(The key) "index is inputs of fertilizers and pesticides per unit of the net energy gain captured in a biofuel. To estimate this first requires calculation of a biofuel’s net energy balance (NEB), that is, the energy content of the biofuel divided by the total fossil energy used throughout the full lifecycle of the production of the feedstock, its conversion to biofuel, and transport. U.S. corn ethanol is most commonly estimated to have a NEB of 1.25 to 1.3, that is, to return about 25-30 percent more energy, as ethanol, than the total fossil energy used throughout its production lifecycle. The NEB estimated for U.S. soybean biodiesel is about 1.8 to 2.0, or about a 100 percent net energy gain."
"Per unit of energy gained, corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel have dramatically different impacts on water quality. When fertilizer and pesticide application rates are scaled relative to the NEB values of these two biofuels, they are seen to differ dramatically. Per unit of energy gained, biodiesel requires just 2 percent of the N and 8 percent of the P needed for corn ethanol. Pesticide use per NEB differs similarly."

So, while it's clear that the US' corn ethanol way is pure idiocy, the same cannot be said for soybean biodiesel (and even less for sugarcane ethanol, which is not an issue because sugarcane does not compete for land with grain crops.)

Therefore, while NG is definitely an issue, it will actually PUSH the process, because:
a. soybean has less fertilizer requirements, and
b. many of the electric power plants in South America are NG-fired but can also burn diesel oil. Therefore biodiesel will in effect free NG for home, fertilizer, and other uses.

Patzek and Pimental have shown that all "bio-fuels" are net energy losers.

So, externalizing the costs in order to seem on the plus side will appeal to the elites in Brazil and Argentina and here because they can make money on this physical absurdity. It will impoverish and ultimately kill us all, but at least they will be a little, or perhaps a lot, richer for a brief time. Then they, like us, will be dying along with the dying planet.

The techno-fix is not a fix. It is a shell game. It is substituting one unsustainable tech for another. The primary underlying reason for all arguments touting the techno-fix is the need to rebrand capitalism and to make it last longer under the presumption that our system is the best system ever.

This delusion has been applied by every society that ever existed.

The only way to have a "best" society is to measure that society by how well it plays with the environment. If it does not have a closed energy loop, it is defective. If it does not create better soil than it starts with, then it is defective. If it creates poisonous byproducts that are not used in some other process to render them harmless, then that society is defective. If it outgrows the environment's ability to sustain it, it is defective. If it does not encourage biodiversity, it is defective.

All other political, economic, religious, and/or cultural considerations that do not spring from environmental sensibilities are sideshows that will undermine any attempt to rectify the situation.

Patzek and Pimental have shown that all "bio-fuels" are net energy losers.

Wow, that's just a plain ol' lie. Show me a report where they showed Brazil's sugar cane ethanol is a net energy loser? Even the corn ethanol (which i'm not a big fan of, but see it as a stepping stone to cellulosic ethanol) study was suspect using old data:


Brazil's plantations are de facto slave ones. If they had to do things the way they are done in the USA (i.e. mechanized) then their EROEI would not be looking so good. Let's not make Brazil as some sort of model for biofuels, unless you are promoting slavery. Also, Brazil cannot support North America with ethanol since it cannot even cover its own needs completely.

Brazil's plantations are de facto slave ones. If they had to do things the way they are done in the USA (i.e. mechanized) then their EROEI would not be looking so good.

And your evidence for these assertions is?

Even if it is slave labor, if the ERORI is positive, it is positive. Now you can say, "In an enlightened society we don't want to base our life on slavery".... sadly I don't really think we live in a very enlightened society.

Globalization == moving the slaves far away so you don't have to look at their suffering. Nothing is more disturbing than having some half starved waif tap on the glass while I enjoy my steak.

'Slave' labourers freed in Brazil

More than 1,000 labourers have been freed in Brazil by the government's anti-slavery team.

They were said to be working in inhumane conditions on a sugar cane plantation in the Amazon.

An ethanol-producing company which owns the plantation has denied allegations of abusing the workers.

Human rights and labour organisations believe that between 25,000 to 40,000 people could be working in conditions akin to slavery in Brazil.

I read about an ethanol plant, owned by ADM I believe, whose trucks were powered by its own product. Anybody have more data on that?

Human rights and labour organisations believe that between 25,000 to 40,000 people could be working in conditions akin to slavery in Brazil.

"The Brazilian ethanol program provided nearly 700,000 jobs in 2003"

35,000 / 700,000 = 5%

If 5% of Brazil's ethanol is produced by slave or near-slave labour, that's tragic, but it's effectively irrelevant to the energy efficiency or overall sustainability of the process. It's a small enough fraction that paying those 5% a decent wage would do practically nothing to the overall economics of the industry.

and what would a decent wage "do" to the slave laborers ?

never mind that a few (make that a few tens of thousand) individuals are enslaved, the likes of you can continue to drive our damn suv's until they pry your cold dead fingers from around the steering wheel.

and what would a decent wage "do" to the slave laborers?

Provide the only significant economic impact to the Brazillian ethanol industry from having nobody working in "conditions akin to slavery" anymore.

If 5% of Brazil's ethanol is produced by slave or near-slave labour, that's tragic

never mind that a few (make that a few tens of thousand) individuals are enslaved, the likes of you can continue to drive our damn suv's until they pry your cold dead fingers from around the steering wheel.

Did you even read what I wrote before you started ranting?

So, while it's clear that the US' corn ethanol way is pure idiocy, the same cannot be said for soybean biodiesel (and even less for sugarcane ethanol, which is not an issue because sugarcane does not compete for land with grain crops.)

My understanding is that sugarcane does compete for land with grain crops albeit indirectly by displacing crops normally grown in grasslands that can also be grown in previous rainforest land.

Hello, Beach Boy,

re: "sugarcane does not compete for land with grain crops."

AFAIK, this is not actually the case.

We've talked about this before.


Hi Aniya,

I read the link and the closest statement I found was:

"For example, in Guatemala, rainforest land was cleared for coffee and sugar plantations."

Now, I'm not "the" agro expert, but AFAIK rainforest land is not prime land for wheat, etc.

As a matter of fact, my statement that "sugarcane does not compete for land with grain crops" is based on some knowledge about agriculture in the Argentinian, Uruguayan, etc. plains ("pampas"). There wheat, corn, and soybeans can readily replace each other. But no farmer would even think of planting sugarcane.

I'm not so sure but what there wouldn't be some overlap when it comes to maize (corn), though. Maize can be grown in a lot of tropical and semitropical places that won't work for wheat, barley, etc.

Rice is another grain crop with potential overlap. If you can terrace and irrigate, you can grow rice just about anywhere that you can grow sugarcane. Thus, the question as to whether or not there is overlap in this case revolves around the amount of water available - cane needs a little less than rice.

Hi Beach Boy,

Thanks for taking a look at what I looked up (back then). If you have firsthand experience (in general), I like hearing about that (I think others do, as well). I'd be interested in what you've seen "up close".

From the reading I did, it's more like an indirect, and yet still quite real, effect - is the impression I got. When land people use for basic food needs becomes more valuable to say, corporations, for new crops, then those people are displaced (to where?) and the misery/migrant/refugee factor rises. People end up going into the rain forest to attempt subsistence farming.

When the authors quoted below refer to "large-scale agriculture", I was imagining this would be the form of new sugarcane production. On what land that sugarcane would be produced - I don't know.

My guess is that any new non-food use of land in a major way has both direct and indirect impacts. When such a large percentage of the populace is already dependent on subsistence farming and at the same time, do not hold title - this seems to be a recipe for further encroachment into areas previously preserved.

Here's a quote from that link:

The reason these people are referred to as 'shifted' cultivators is that most of them people have been forced off their own land. For example, in Guatemala, rainforest land was cleared for coffee and sugar plantations. The indigenous people had their land stolen by government and corporations. They became 'shifted cultivators', moving into rainforest areas of which they had no previous knowledge in order to sustain themselves and their families (Colchester & Lohmann)."

"Large-scale agriculture, logging, hydroelectric dams, mining, and industrial development are all responsible for the dispossession of poor farmers.
"One of the primary forces pushing landless migrants into the forests is the inequitable distribution of agricultural land" (WRI 1992, Colchester & Lohmann). In Brazil, approximately 42% of cultivated land is owned by a mere 1% of the population. Landless peasants make up half of Brazil's population (WRM).”

The irony is that many nutritionists feel that cow milk is not a desirable food for adults.

Many, if not most, adults cannot properly digest cow milk because of lack of lactase. I stopped drinking milk in my late teens because it began to upset my digestion, likely because my system was no longer producing the lactase.

Can someone tell me why full-fat milk in the USA tastes so bad compared to milk in Europe?

Try drinking organic milk from the Driftless
Region of Wisconsin. Where they still have
small family farms and very rich grass and
Having gotten used to the good stuff, factory
farm supermarket milk tastes like chemical

Wisconsin organic milk and cream has the
further advantage that it can be kept in the
'fridge for weeks. Something tells me that is
how it should be and the supermarket variety
begins as less than wholesome.

I can vouch for this. I'm shocked sometimes at how long raw milk keeps, as long as it's cold.

Here's another shocker: when it starts to "turn," it's still drinkable, though you have to develop a taste for it. It will tend to naturally ferment, like cider. It never develops that GROSS putrid state of decayed pasteurized milk which makes you want to puke.

Still, any milk over a week old here goes to the pigs.

One of my friends has a cat that will only consume milk if it's curdled. (They use raw milk, of course.) They put it in a dish, and the cat won't touch it until it curdles. Then he scarfs it down.


Unfortunately, later, the hallway near the litterbox becomes a Dead Zone. ;]

I'm already wondering what my cats are going to think about my inevitable early yogurt experiment failures. . .

My milk is pasteurized and keeps at least two
weeks. Will eventually curdle but smells fair.
Heavy cream keeps a month or more. When it
curdles, still sweet and tasty.
Can't explain it, been drinking this way 8 yrs

Sweet is how it tastes. First word used by all
first-time drinkers. Organic Valley Dairy,
LaFarge, WI. Horizon good also. Wild Oats house
brand was good, Whole Foods house brand varies,
not all from WI. That's what's distributed in

Traveling in SW Wisconsin you can find milk
with enormous variance in flavor. And mass
market chemical junk. I remember local
farm fresh milk in Chicago but too long ago
to really say what it tasted like.

My guess is that it just depends on what you're used to. I don't care for the milk I've had overseas. To me, it tastes like grass. I can taste the chlorophyll. Ditto grass-fed beef. It has a bite that I don't care for.

I've tried buffalo, and it's much more flavorful than beef. It's like eating meat as opposed to eating something that should taste like meat but under the onions and A-1 sauce and all the other stuff needed to flavor it, doesn't taste all that much.

Me too fleam, I love buffalo.

I live on the Crow Indian reservation during summers. There's always some sort of cookout or barbecue going on, and yet it never fails to amaze me: the younger generations won't touch buffalo meat with a ten foot pole (the tribe keeps a herd up in the Bighorn Mts). Apparently buffalo steak (and hamburger) tastes "gross" and is too strong; instead most kids will only eat cow. For our elders and grandparents, this is a pretty disturbing change to have to witness.

Buffalo was the staple food of Plains tribes for a relatively long time. When you read through the historical accounts (or chat with some of the older adults on the rez), you find that at the dawn of the reservation era, Plains Indians all but refused to eat the cattle they were being offered. They didn't like the taste and they adamantly believed that it made their muscles soft. Of course, the cattle back then was a lot different than the stuff they're selling in supermarkets today.

Amazing how fast we can become conditioned to enjoy the taste of something as unnatural as modern "cow meat".

I guess that bison meat is one way of assuring that you're getting something that has been grass-fed rather than grain fed. I've tried and liked the burgers, never had any steaks or roasts.

You would get used to the flavor in no time at all if you had to, and the benefits are enormous - for instance, grass-fed beef has similar omega-3/omega-6 fat ratios as fish. The ramifications of just that are huge.

I paid $4.95 for a gallon of whole milk yesterday. Another store in the next town sells it at $5.49.

Gas today was $2.88 for regular.

Time for you to get a dairy goat or cow, airdale! You've got the land and set-up for it.

The EIA’s Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report just came out. They were looking for a draw-down of 138 Billion Cubic Feet. They got instead draw-down of 121 bcf. This week last year the draw-down was 71 bcf and the five year average is a draw of 120 bcf. So the figure was in line with the five year average, more than last year but less than was expected.

Ron Patterson

Hello TODers,

Being priced out of FFs is bad enough for poor countries, but at what price point does non-organic NPK become unaffordable? Can they ramp up urban composting and humanure recycling to fill the nutrient gap organically? Or is Zimbabwe's short-sighted, but high ERoEI harvesting model of stoning elephants to death for their bushmeat, the easiest way to bring tons of converted plant protein back into the urban cluster?

"Potash prices will almost certainly strengthen further in early 2008," says Ms. Mohr.

The three crops using the most potash per hectare planted are palm oil, sugar cane and corn - all benefitting from surging global interest in biofuels.
What megafauna does the world prefer to keep--real elephants or road-going elephantine beasts for our urban jungle? Will Newt Gingrich, now urging his GOP party to go green, come to the rescue of their party symbol by daily riding an elephant around Washington, D. C., or will an SUV be his commuting choice? IMO, at a minimum: He should mount walrus and elephant tusks, and a polar bear skull, on his GMC Denali SUV.

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

The new symbol of the GOP, to replace soon-to-be-extinct elephants: Outline picture of an SUV, with hood up, and a stick man alongside it, holding a gas can, with his thumb out.

Wish I were talented enough to draw it myself, maybe this will inspire somebody.

I could do it, but I don't acknowledge any art technology less than 200 years old, so I'd have trouble doing a nice clean graphic like is being used now.

A computer and graphics tablet don't make money at the swapmeets and farmer's markets, a brush'n'paper, conte' crayons'n'paper, that sort of thing, those make money. Did 500 years ago, do now, will in the future.

Perhaps someone with Photoshop/Paint skill can do one up, I think it would be funny too.

I could probably do it, but a stick figure with a thumb out probably won't work. Stick figures generally don't have fingers. And showing one digit extended in a simplified graphic like that could be misinterpreted.

OK I know how they used to get around that in the 70s - make the stick figure, but then make the fingers/hand a bigger than proportional cartoon hand, so you can see it''s a hitchhiking figure - this was done on stick figures saying "shhhh!" on signs on the bus, for instance - a stick hand would look offensive, but a cartoon hand makes it understandable.

Kinda like how Reddy Kilowatt has a stick body and cartoon hands....

Still not sure it would work. Cartoon hands work when the image is toony in style, or when shown in closeup. The image described is pretty complex, and cannot be shown in closeup. (Or can it? Hmmm.) I think toony hands in that kind of scene would look out of place.

I'll have to think about it...

Stick figures generally don't have fingers. And showing one digit extended in a simplified graphic like that could be misinterpreted.

A horizontal digit is less likely to be misinterpreted that way, and is pretty common for images of hitching (arm twisted so the thumb points away from the body). It requires a dynamic body configuration, though, rather than any sort of passive or slumped one. An out-sized hand will also reinforce that dynamic sense, although you could coopt that if you're trying to lampoon or insult by making it dynamic in a bad way (e.g., leering). That's getting more into cartoon than stick figure, though.

The canonical kerchief tied up on the end of a pole held over the shoulder might work - it's a pretty widely-recognized look, I think, if only from cartoons.

On second thought, either gesture could fit them quite well. . .

To show just how concerned GM is about peak oil and global warming, consider the following:

GM trots out 'Vette with 620 horses

American Supercar
The Chevrolet Corvette has long been known as a superb performance value, offering speed and handling that would cost you twice as much in a European sports car.

With the ZR1, which will be officially unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January, General Motors is taking the Corvette into supercar territory with a supercharged V8 that, GM says, will produce at least 620 horsepower.

In contrast, the base model Corvette is powered by a 6.0-liter, 400 horsepower V8, while the high-performance Corvette Z06 is powered by a 7.0-liter, 505 horsepower engine.

"Chevrolet's goal with the ZR1 is to show that an American supercar can deliver, at a price that trumps exotics that cost two, three, or four times as much - and does so with exceptional driveability," said Chevrolet general manager Ed Peper in a GM announcement.

They didn't say what kind of mileage it would get. My guess is that they'll need to measure it in gallons per mile.

Reminds me of my kids joke while watching a Hummer crawl along in city traffic:

"One gallon of gas...two gallons of gas...three gallons of gas...four gallons of gas...." -- and this continues for as long as the Hummer is in sight.

:) :) :)

CNN ran a news story last night warning that the new energy bill would mean the death of the muscle car. With that Corvette as an example.

If you can buy that one, you wouldn't be scared even by $10/gallon.

The worry was not the cost. The worry was that the new mileage requirements would mean car manufacturers couldn't make them.

They said something about Bush pushing for an exemption. :-P

No need to worry. It will run on ethanol, which is produced from corn and "clean coal". Of course, that will rob the car of 30% of its power, so maybe they'll increase the engine size by another 30%.

I believe that ethanol allows higher compression ratios without knocking, and thus greater engine power. They'll need to increase the gas tank size by that 30%, but the engine will be even more marketable.

Top alcohol dragsters have no problem generating horsepower from ethanol. Combustion chambers pressures in their setup, from the crank driven superchargers, make the use of gasoline impossible.


There are other things to be worried about. . . once gas gets high enough to permanently park many cars, anyone still driving a Corvette around might as well paint the words "shoot me" on the sides.

An Indiana Pacer went to a bar a couple weeks ago and the kids there didn't like his "nice" car. They followed him in a truck as he drove away and started shooting at his car. He didn't have a sign instructing them to do so, either.

Tinsley Is More Careful...

The list of crimes against professional athletes — apparently targeted for their wealth — has grown in recent months.

For a lot of reasons, "Cheap is the new chic."

Orwell observed in his book Homage To Catalonia, that the rich essentially disappeared while the Revolution in Spain was on - a lot left, and those who stayed dressed like the poor.

They started showing up again when their man, Franco, started winning.

That happened in this country too. See the
discussion in J.K. Galbraith, The Affluent
Galbraith is talking '50's. Believe someone who
was there, the effect was more pronounced in the
Recently I have have heard competitive boasting
from rich people discussing how badly they
abuse their domestics. What was once shameful is
now a point of pride. The worm turns.

I've also come across multiple stories about rich people insisting that their domestics never look them in the eye, and flying into a rage if they nevertheless do. Can masters "taking liberties" with female servants be far behind? (That one is probably already going on to some extent, surprised we haven't heard about it yet.)

time has a way of leveling things out. As do 6" knives.

If that's the case, then one thing it would do would be to eventually make recent model high-performance cars highly collectible a few years down the road.

After the 1973 Oil Shock, the back rows of used car lots became crowded with Pontiac GTOs, Dodge Challengers, Chevelle SS's, Mustang Mach Ones, and other all-out muscle cars. At that time these could be had for a song, but now some of the more pristine and desirable examples sell for well into the six-figure range.

I think we are going to see a repeat of the same sort of thing. Gas will not really be a problem, because, they will be too valuable to use as daily drivers and will only be taken for occassional spins or to car shows.

So, if you want to make a good investment, get yourself a Dodge Viper while you still can.

Here's the article:

GM: Emission law may hamper muscle cars

Corvette's chief engineer says the 2009 Corvette ZR1 may be the last in a long tradition of Detroit performance cars, endangered by stronger federal fuel economy regulations and limits on carbon dioxide emissions.

If I recall correctly, GM typcially sells something like 40,000 Corvettes a year, which is but a small fraction of its total vehicle sales. This super ZR1 will be a very small fraction of total corvette sales. While bringing out such a vehicle may show a lack of appreciation for the current energy situation, it's effect on GM's overall CAFE mileage will be miniscule.

I would be far more concerned about all the full-size pickups and SUVs sold by GM. That's what should be targeted for downsizing and gas mileage improvements.

I tend to think in terms of a 'personal CAFE standard', in that I could justify owning such a car (assuming I could even come close to affording it) if I only used it for occassional weekend blasts and off-setted its gas consumption by using something like a Prius for daily driving. While perhaps not idealogically pure, this approach is preferable to owning two full-size cars.

Joule, Vetts, Vipers, et al, are not big sellers but they are great for drawing customers to auto showrooms to look an wish. Once the customers were in the showrooms the sales staff would attempt to sell them more affordable. At least, that used to work, I do not know if it still does with gas prices on the rise.

A biker bud of mine came over from Tampa last weekend in a 2 year old Dodge Ram Hemi crew cab 4 WD that he just purchased for $9,000 cash. The truck looks like new and he said it runs great. Of course, it gets terrible gas mileage but he doesnt drive it often so he doesnt care. I suspect he would begin to care if gas goes up to the $8-10 range.

Then there is another friend of mine, another biker, that drives for an exotic auto transport company. He just delivered the third $500,000 exotic Porsche to the same guy. The guy totaled the first two. I wonder how much his auto insurance costs him? :)

His auto insurance rates now are probably FAR more expensive than say, a week of high performance driving lessons.

The Corvette is an efficiency benchmark for high performance cars, and GM is generally at the top of its class in fuel mileage. The existing 505 hp Corvette Z06 gets similar mileage to a V6 Toyota Camry, and even the 6000 lb. 350+hp GM hybrid SUVs get the same in-city mileage as a 4-cylinder Toyota Camry. GM is betting heavily on electric drive development, which demonstrates that GM is probably indeed concerned about global warming and peak oil.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

DHS finalizing plans for domestic spy satellite program

A plan to dramatically widen US law enforcement agencies' access to data from powerful spy satellites is moving toward implementation, as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff expects to finalize a charter for the program this week, according to a new report.

Chertoff insists the scheme to turn spy satellites -- that were originally designed for foreign surveillance -- on Americans is legal, although a House committee that would approve the program has not been updated on the program for three months.

"We still haven't seen the legal framework we requested or the standard operation procedures on how the NAO will actually be run," House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson tells the Wall Street Journal. Thompson was referring to the National Applications Office -- a new DHS subset that would coordinate access to spy-satellite data for non-military domestic agencies, including law enforcement.


I feel so much safer already.

Oh, I think it could get a lot worse. . .

Agent Johnson: We believe Burns still has the bill hidden somewhere in his house, but all we've ascertained from satellite photos is that it's not on the roof.

The Simpsons - 'The trouble with Trillions'

..from the Episode that brought you..

Smithers: But, sir, what about your criminal charges?
Mr. Burns: Well, if it's a crime to love one's country, then I guess I'm guilty as charged. And, if it's a crime to steal a trillion dollars and hand it over to communist Cuba, then I guess I'm guilty of that, too. And, if it's a crime to bribe a jury, God help me, I'll soon be guilty of that as well!
Homer: God bless America!

LOL ...

And I used to think that Hubble was aimed
at the heavens

Triff ..

They're about to built an earth based telescope that will leave Hubble in the dust.

We got some beautiful pics from the Hubble, but maybe that's not its intended purpose ..... I've done some fine birdwatching through a 20X Unertl target/sniper scope.

Dante at PO.com points out that the EIA, usually the most optimistic of the oil prognosticators, has turned into the most pessimistic.

He also pointed to this perhaps related tidbit:

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said yesterday he will go to the Middle East next month to make the case that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries need to pump more oil.

Good luck with that....

A defaulting sub-prime mortgage borrower could also go to their lender to make the case that the lender should give them more money. I suspect that they would be just about as successful, for just about the same reasons.

Dante at PO.com points out that the EIA, usually the most optimistic of the oil prognosticators, has turned into the most pessimistic.

Indeed. Yesterday's TWIP had a similarly depressing graph, per Nate Hagen's thread:


This is the thing - investment dollars. I don't think that people looking at those 2-3 trillion barrels of various stuff still maybe in the ground have any real idea how EXPENSIVE it would be to get it all out. It may be that all the money in the world would not be enough -- and we don't HAVE all of the money in the world to spend on this.

That exponential curve cannot be sustained for very long, especially once the global economy starts stagnating. Combined with diminishing returns, that should just about do it.

Peak investment dollars -- I hear a fat lady singing.

Concerning the above link "Stargazing on the wild side" that predicts oil to hit $175 a barrel in 2008. He had me going until I got to this prediction"

7. Ron Paul elected President of the United States

I stopped reading after that point.

Ron Patterson

I guess he was dreaming.

That's not "stargazing on the wild side", that's slipping through a black hole into an entire parallel universe.

After looking at all the data, perhaps "they" rig the election to make Ron Paul the captain of the Titanic?

I'd certainly love for Ron Paul to be elected president, but I know it's a long-shot. We'll know soon enough what the chances are after the Iowa and NH polls.

"I'd certainly love for Ron Paul to be elected president, but I know it's a long-shot."

Sounds like you're talking about snipers...Did Ron really say something to the effect that if elected he'd be quickly rubbed out?

But he did put two and two together - if Ron Paul were elected and he pulled us out of the Middle East, oil would go to at least $175 nearly overnight.

I'm baffled by this comment.

Do you believe our being in Iraq is depressing oil prices?

Think about it Larry. He probably means that if we pulled out of Iraq, all hell would break loose between the Sunni and the Shia. They would attack the oil infrastructure and oil production would drop to near zero.

I am not saying that would happen, but it could. And I am sure that is what Speek had in mind. After all it is happening in Nigeria.

Ron Patterson

Bingo. The fighting/terrorist activities would spread to Saudi Arabia too.

I'm not sure I agree.

Iran is pretty much NOT bound by the Geneva convention. If the US pulled out of Iraq and Iran pretty much took everything they could reach and DIDN'T overextend themselves... I don't really see any change. Iran would keep pumping. Iran would have Iraq's oil (except for the north), and some would get pumped (the case now). SA would keep pumping.

Iran could choose not to sell to us, but really... it wouldn't hurt. Oil is fungible.

If Iran wanted to hurt us, they could turn off the straights of Hormuz today. Some truck launched SS-22s would pretty much shutdown the straights for 6 months to 1 year while we bombed the hell out of Iran and had to send in the 1st MEF to clear the shoreline.

Iran chooses not to do this. I'm inclined to think they would not be interested in creating that sort of chaos in the future. Contrary to what the media is feeding you, Iran is a country looking at the long term. Pure Chaos is NOT going to work out best for them. Slow, Slow growth on all fronts pretty much leaves them as the new Persian Empire. They can do it if they stay the course. Remember.... Amidihnijan is a trained monkey to distract you from who really runs the country.... he is there to make silly statements and get you all riled up while the people who run the country quietly do what they wanted to do all along.

Is SA a complete house of cards? Well.... maybe. Balsa wood maybe. There is a large group that hates the House of Saud. However, they are Sunnis that hate the House of Saud. The second that Iran tried to tell them what to do, they would turn on Iran like crazed Banshees and get back to hating the House of Saud after those "dirty Shiites" had been driven from their homeland. I don't see Iran getting much traction in SA.

Hi Ron,


re: "He probably means that if we pulled out of Iraq, all hell would break loose between the Sunni and the Shia. They would attack the oil infrastructure and oil production would drop to near zero."

So, is this why the US "can't" get out of Iraq?

What's your view on what "should" happen?

As Dmitri Orlov said, some problems have no solutions.

One of the USA's biggest problems is our knack for making unsolvable problems OUR problems.

i can buy that - in the sense of: who will step into the vacuum? ...and what impact might it have on oil prices?

i can see many answers to the first question that would lead to the second answer being it'd lead to much higher oil prices (for us at the very least)

Some Recovery!

The IEA said in its Highlights of the latest OMR which came out on December 14:

World oil supply rose 55 kb/d in November to 86.5 mb/d as output recovery in Mexico, China and Brazil offset lower OPEC supply.

Well the Pemex Monthly Petroleum Statistics are out and they show a decline of 103,000 bp/d for all liquids and a decline of 94,000 bp/d for C+C in November. If that’s a recovery I would like to know what the IEA calls a decline.

Ron Patterson

Not to worry;exports to USA were up 300m bl/da at 1.63mm bl/da for Nov,highest sinc Aug/06.

Just heard on CNBC

Opec delevries are off by 90,000 bp/d through January 5th. I think they meant the four weeks ending January 5th. It is the first drop in OPEC supply, they said, in five months.

I don't think that is correct because they were down considerably in November due to maintenance in the UAE.

Ron Patterson

Oil Movements has seaborne exports for 4 wks ending Jan 5 at 24.24 vs 24.33 for the 1 mos ending Dec 8.

Just checked my records and, according to the OPEC web site, OPEC production was down 73,000 bp/d in November. Not as much as I thought.

Maven, do you have a link for these seaborne movements. I would like to see the previous 4 and 8 weeks for OPEC.

At any rate I find it astonishing that exports were down in December in spite of the fact that all that UAE oil was back on line.

Ron Patterson

Subsciption only and computer specfic.

Oil Movements tries to project future shipments based on spot tanker charter contracts. Hence, they only measure shipments, not production. And since they are trying to project future shipments, they aren't terribly accurate. They were projecting a big jump not long ago.

Now its -230m bl.I can hardly wait for LLoyds #!!Mkts are thin.

What do you mean by "Now its -230 m bl? Do you mean they have changed their data from being down 90,000 barrels to down 230,000 barrels?

Ron Patterson

Opec delevries are off by 90,000 bp/d through January 5th. I think they meant the four weeks ending January 5th. It is the first drop in OPEC supply, they said, in five months.

I don't think that is correct because they were down considerably in November due to maintenance in the UAE.

Those may well be exactly the same event - remember the difference between production and deliveries.

A tanker takes anywhere from a fortnight to a month to get where it's going (see, for example, here), and time-shifting the production decrease by the tanker time gives us pretty much the timing and magnitude of the delivery decline.

RE: Beer Crisis: Trouble Brewing...

Drats, I hate it when that happens. Some xmas gift...More expensive beer! But, beer does have food value so I think that an increase in beer prices will be reflected in the CPI as an upward movement in core inflation...Since food is included in core inflation...Which means that it will not be reflected in the Feds inflation figures. Which means that those that depend on inflation adjustments to their retirement income are probably going to stop drinking upscale brewery beer and start making their own busthead in their own bathtubs...Yuk. :(

Beer is incredibly easy to brew! Tastier too.

"Homebrewing for dummies" is a fantastic book for those that would like to get started on homebrewing. Highly recommended!!

Note that beer is the source of brewer's yeast. The B vitamins and folic acid from beer are extremely beneficial in moderate quantities. I claim this as a man who drinks immoderate quantities.

Agreed! I'll drink to that!

Commission in turmoil over car emission proposals

The EU's controversial plans to force car makers to make greener cars from 2012 or face fines have caused strong division within the European Commission itself, with industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen said to have boycotted the press conference to announce the proposals on Wednesday (19 December).

Under the plans, cars should emit an average of 130 grammes of carbon dioxide in four years time or be subject to fines rising to €95 per gramme over the limit in 2015.

Practically it is expected to mean that big gas-guzzling cars will become more expensive while smaller more efficient cars will be relatively cheaper.


Germany has already strongly criticised the plans with chancellor Angela Merkel saying "I believe this is industrial policy at the expense of German auto producers."

"We are not satisfied," the chancellor said, with her economy minister Michael Glos even accusing the commission of staging a "war of destruction" against German car-makers.

I hate green vehicles...In fact, you will seldom see a real biker riding a green motorcycle...They are considered bad luck. I have never owned a green vehicle except the Catalina Convertible that my ex wife purchased new just prior to meeting me. That thing was total junk...The top would not go up and down even when it was new. The electrical system has a slow leak to ground which would drain the battery when the car sat for over three days without running. I began keeping a spare alternator, battery and lots of fuses in the trunk. After a while I knew everyone at the dealership on a first name basis...but they couldnt fix the thing. Once, on I95 going back to Maryland from Key West, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a huge cloud of smoke. It was the A/C compressor frying itself. It didnt end till I traded the thing on a new Mercury...A black one.

Moral of this story...I dont think 'Green Vehicle' is a good name for vehicles that run on less energy than the current fleet. How about another name?

So that's why BRG cars live in the garridge.

Exactly, at least on this side of the atlantic British Racing Green has extremely good marketing associations. A 'green' vehicle in BRG would be a good ploy.

Boo-fucking-hoo. Maybe Germany should produce more economical cars to go with that holier-than-thou green energy attitude they have. I wouldn't mind, but they had a great one - The Audi A2 - which they killed off not long ago.

It's nice that we can only go at a pace that we're comfortable with when discussing climate change and energy.

As they say, deal with reality, or reality will deal with you.

Why when this man opens his mouth, I get the urge to wretch?

Bush Says Housing Slump Requires Transparency on Wall Street

Is it the smell of sulphur?

Hugo...is that you?

You've been conditioned, just like Pavlov's dogs

Say... Does the name 'Pavlov' ring a bell?

Hello TODers,

By Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - There's no sign that the drought is getting any better in Alabama.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released its weekly survey today. It shows virtually no change in the arid conditions in the state.

The data shows 49 percent of Alabama in the most severe drought classification. Only the coastal regions of southwest Alabama aren't experiencing some form of drought.

The drought map is virtually unchanged since last week.

In all, about a third of the Southeast is locked in an extreme drought. Forecasters say the dry weather could last into next summer.
Link to US Drought Monitor Map:


I wonder why the severe drought areas are symbolized with red blood color to dried blood colors-- Dept. of Homeland Security satellite geo-mapping nomenclature for future roadmap targeting? I would prefer that FEMA urges a peaceful road migration to the Great Lakes if the drought continues to worsen.

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

Hi Bob,

Always enjoy your posts :^) I don't think folks can or will migrate up here to the north coast. There are no jobs anywhere up here. This is the rust belt. Lotsa brownfields and hulking abandoned factories. And we chop down apple orchards up here to clear acreage for shopping centers. Stay put and pray for rain, or divert a river to your area Georgia, just leave the great lakes be. (rant over);^]


Good news! Just move to Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana or Wyoming and renounce your US citizenship and you will be a tax-free man or woman!


Im sure those people will suffer the same fate as the Montana Freemen or Branch Davidians...

That's all you take away from that story ?

Earthmarines vs Mercs, or as US financier Jay Gould said, "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

Say it properly - Laaa KOu tah. Three syllables but it really sounds almost like three separate little words. Accent on the second syllable.

I like the sound of this - come one, come all, join our rejuvenated tribe. Seems like maybe they know what is coming ... back to the old ways.

And now Mr. Totoneila Sir will have to adjust his prognostications and apologize - not only is there a nation in the upper Midwest, they're the first to declare as well.

I visited Pine Ridgein '91 with a friend who had previously been an family counselor there.

I had a year of sobriety then, following 19 years of practicing alcoholism. The depression in the air at Pine Ridge was palpable. I was told alcoholism was responsible.

The uneasiness I felt then reminded me of the similar feelings I had at the Ononadaga County reservations I visited with my family at a young age where my uncle was from.

More healing needs to occur. I view this withdraw as progress if it is widespread. I am suspicious though, as Mr.Means has much baggage.

I read Russel Means book. I think he is right and I applaud them in their movement.

Yes he has had some baggage but I think it was the right baggage. AIM and all.

Its time they did it their way.

I am related to some who have native American blood and there are still many who live in my area that have such. Choctaw, Cherokee and Chicksaw to name a few.

In my state we did not drive the natives out. There were none living here except for the far western part and they chose to sell without any coercion. It was their choice after the New Madrid earthquake of 1911/12. Some remained.

Kentucky was tribal hunting ground but none wanted to reside here. Ghosts were too numerous they claimed. D. Boone and others then staked it out. Of course the Shawnee north of the Ohio raided here continually and were finally pushed way west over time. Many simply murdered.

Allan Eckert's series of historically correct novels portrays it perfectly. His 'Tecumseh' is a masterpiece.
Tecumseh was a prophet and great leader and predicted the 1911/12 earthquake as well as many other events.

See http://www.allaneck.com/

However I think casinos and gambling is the wrong path for our indian peoples.


ummm, pretty sure you meant 1811 & 1812. Amazing quakes, I guess there was a series of 4 of them, 2 on Dec 16, 1811, and then another one on Jan 23 1812, and then the 'big one' on Feb 7, 1812.

"...nearby sections of the Mississippi River actually ran backwards for a short time." wow.

Remember that old Johnny Horton song about the battle of New Orleans? No wonder them red-coats got so skert.

Incidentally, Airdale, should thank you for Firefox tip- it's the way to go for those of us on dial-up. You might be a cranky old fart but you have improved my life a little.

I haven't read his book, so I may be missing important aspects of his fight. Most of my impressions are from Native friends, many years ago and media reports. I am mindful of being manipulated. I do agree that his cause is just.

There is a dynamic in this story that worries me and that is what the 'baggage' comment was about.
Often times, individuals with a honorable cause become corrupted via there ego. Power, status, possibly money, becomes more important to the individual than the original cause.

Oh well, that's life !

Vaporware awards from Wired. The Tesla ev came in at #9.

10. Steorn Orbo

At the close of 2006, the Dublin-based firm Steorn announced the creation of the Orbo, a magnetic motor device that generates free, constant energy. In other words, a perpetual-motion machine. Steorn claims its technology can be used in everything "from portable music players to cars."

First law of thermodynamics be damned, Steorn planned a public demonstration for July 2007. The display was ultimately cancelled.

The company promises to eventually reveal the Orbo's inner workings, but Wired News reader Randomeis thinks he has it figured out: "It runs on the unlimited supply of VC (venture capitalist) gullibility."

LOL. Poor Steorn. I think they actually believed they had something (as opposed to it being an intentional scam). It would have worked...except for those darned "friction issues." The 2nd Law gets you every time...

There are actually a lot of guys like that in the San Francisco Bay Area, lots of techies so you get lots of pie-in-the-sky types.

I think a lot of them DO believe they're onto something. The ones I've run into sure do.

A lot of the time it just comes down to not understanding electricity, magnetism, or machines, well. Not a good thing when you're fooling around with electricity, magnetism, and machinery.

My theory is that a lot of these folks made their fortune in computer stuff, and they simply don't understand the difference between "virtual" and "actual".

There's this "I made a zillion dollars in software, so now I will develop a moon rocket!" syndrome, most of which crash and burn. Because the real world trumps the virtual every... single... time.

A lot of the time it just comes down to not understanding electricity, magnetism, or machines

Hmmm, actually it's about the fact that we still don't have unification of physics via Unified Field Theory or anything other theory.

nice to see the tesla in there as well. as well as the duke :P

Like clockwork, every few years another one of these too-good-to-be-true perpetual motion schemes gets MSM publicity. And like all of those in
the past, it too will disappear into the obscurity that it deserves.

That's what we get for having lazy, technically illiterate journalists who probably never passed a high school physics course.

Just some quick back of the napkin calculations about Nanosolar and their $1 per watt ($2 installed) solar plant. The 200,000 sq ft plant will ostensibly produce 430 MW per year, at a cost installed of about $900 million. If we had 100 of these plants, we could produce 43,000 MW per year at a cost of about $9 billion. In ten years that would be 430,000 MW of installed solar. According to this article peak electric demand was 789,475 megawatts in 2006. Demand grew at 4% per year between 2005 and 2006, so if we assume a similar growth profile in 10 years demand will be at 1170000 MW. So we could have a little less than 40% of our electricity from solar at a cost of $90 billion if we had 100 of these factories. These figures are very rough, but 100 factories doesn't seem like an insurmountable problem. There are raw material supplies and other issues, but I thought I'd just throw this out there.

You say how much, $90 billion?

And this damn war has cost us how much in lives and how much money. Smarter than yeast?.... we're no smarter than pond scum.

Of course it won't be 1$/watt if you try to install 100 plants/year.

Then again, its a better investment than killing brown people.

arclite, I'm glad to read that Nanosolar has solved the problem due to lack of sunlight for large periods of time. I'm sure that the cost of battery packs to store the juice for later use would have multiplied the stated cost enormously, but now we're saved. HallelujaH!


I worked in Solar for a couple of years. As hamburger helper technology goes, it's OK, but these projections from the industry are hallucinations. As FF costs rise, solar mfr. costs rise. What are they building all these plants with? Wind and solar? How many solar arrays would it take to yield enough energy to construct the plants, deliver the machinery, install the panels, and replace them when they degrade over an erratically short period? Way too many energy inputs that are FF dependant for the corporate spinners to say solar of any type, at any time, will replace or offset worlwide dependence on FF. It will delay the inevitable, but once the oil stops flowing, solar will too.


Things will get harder. For some more than others.

Conquistador of the Useless

Re Iraq. it's a good job we're there. Imagine Saddam still in situ with $100 a barrel oil behind him. A nightmare thought.

yeah, boy, he sure was a serious threat huh? Big scary Saddam -with all those WMD's, or was it connections to Al Queda? or, ummm - oh! it was his gassing of his own people (back in the 80's) - that was the the threat to US security....
yep, all those dead Iraqis, dead and wounded US soldiers - "a good job" - and we've done so well with keeping the power on etc. - oh, and the trillion $ gone - that couldn't have done much building solar plants in the Mojave, or funding electrical storage issues for wind & solar, or giving rebates on hybrids - or electrifying the trains - yep, a good job all around...

but Saddam with money, THAT's the nightmare thought

Weatherman, just how much skin do you have in the game?

I have a nephew who has done multiple tours in afghanistan and Iraq. I have a second nephew -- younger, USMC -- who is home after spending significant time in Iraq.

The war is screwing many of these kids up for life. Suicides are up like crazy among veterans.

These kids learn to call Iraq (and the Middle East) "Injun Country" as if it is a good idea to do a round of genocide over there much like happened on the North American Continent, if you recall your history.

We kill more people in Iraq than Saddam ever did. We imprison and torture more people in Iraq than Saddam did. We also have forced millions to flee as refugees. Under Saddam one could be a Christian and live in peace in Iraq, but now the Christians have basically been killed or have fled and live as homeless refugees.

And the kids we send to fight in Iraq return completely disillusioned or screwed up, with the smell of human flesh burning mixed with white phosphorus, and the sounds and sights of various kinds of torture -- from rape to beatings -- ringing in their ears.

No wonder the suicide rate is so high among returning veterans.

Is this what your snide comment refers to?

Then my question is.

Why did they join?

There is no draft.

We don't 'send them'. They go because thats part of what an army does. They are required to follow orders. They actually are employees of the US government in a manner of speaking.
Has it not always been thus?

So again what did they expect when they joined?

I am not saying yea or nay to the war. I am pointing out that its a volunteer army/navy/whatever. y

In all fairness we have a fair number of troops who joined up or were in when the war wasn't yet a gleam in GWB's eye, that anyone knew about ....

Troops can get called up again for a few years after leaving active duty.

Then we have the misinformation about 9-11, so that a large percentage actually think they're over there to avenge 9-11 or prevent another 9-11 or something.

Then we have an "economic draft" which is why I myself was on the recruiter's front steps the next morning after they raised the age limit. I missed it by about 6 mos. and I can't for the life of me get 'em to sign me up again - I really thought they could fudge things a bit but nope. Now, in my own case, I could end up in Iraq although much more likely I'd be at the AMU, but the economic realities in my own life make signing up quite attractive if I could swing it.

I'd say the biggest factor now is the economic draft.

Then there's the "No one ever thinks it will happen to them" factor. I've been in that seat a few times, and yes, things will happen, even to YOU. And chances are you will not turn into a quivering lump of jelly, but will deal whatever it is that's happening. And live. Or die. The situation over there is very crazy, the movie Apocalypse Now is probably the best movie about how weird things got in Vietnam (which no I did not go to!) and Over There, from what's leaking out in blogs and so on.

But no one ever thinks it will happen to them. They'll just be a file clerk. Or an 11-bang-bang in the nice, clean-cut unit that's never doing crazy stuff, not THEM.....

And when the boys'n'gals come back there will always be a few elitists with latte'-breath calling them babykillers and so on, since You volunteered you volunteered for ALL of it...

Isn't the burden of political responsibility higher on civilian citizenry in the case of a "volunteer" army as opposed to a conscripted army? If we take the notion of civilian control of the military seriously, and we wish to ensure that the executive and legislative branches are held responsible for decisions they make to deploy forces and fund that deployment in our name, I'd argue we need to be more skeptical and critical about decisions about the volunteer military, not less.

In an age of conscription everyone has skin in the game and thus a keen incentive to scrutinize the political leadership's oversight of the military. In the absence of such incentive, if the rest of us wash our hands of the matter, then we have ceded to the executive the ability to deploy the military for purposes that may fulfill personal or partisan needs but perhaps undermine the national interest.

That was what turned the corner in Vietnam - when they started drafting nice, middle-class kids.

Of course. In case you forgot Saddam twice invaded neibouring countries. With $100 a barrel oil he could afford the best WMD's money could buy out of his petty cash. If he supplied China with oil they would have backed him to the hilt, and sold him whatever he wanted.

Saddam twice invaded other countries and got beaten senseless both times. The idea that he might have done something else with oil money is ridiculous, as they were still under sanctions. They could have been taken as a client state into a proxy war, but there is no avoiding that with peak oil, its just a question of who and when.

Your position on this smacks of right wing talk radio ... which I will not miss when the power goes out :-)

A quote I heard of when we invaded, We had him pinned down between two no fly zones, and taking out radar everyother week.

He wasn't so much as the leader of Iraq, as much as he was just the mayor of Bagdad.

And in case YOU'VE forgotten, one of the countries that Saddam invaded was Iran, and he did so at the urging and approval of Uncle Sam, who has had a bug up its ass about Iran since the days of the Iranian revolution. It is quite evident that the US had no problems with Saddam's despotism as long as he was our boy (just as the Shah of Iran at one time was). But once he went off the reservation (so to speak) by invading Kuwait, he immediately went from good-guy to being numero uno on our shit-list.

The US has a long and dreary history of backing the most atrocious tyrannical regimes , as long as they play ball and serve the interests of vested US financial powers. But when they don't, the US suddenly becomes filled wth self-righteous indignation and then claims to champion the cause of democracy.

The hypocricy is so thick, it will smother you.

A quick history of the US and Sadam:
Very informing history.

I don't understand why this is so hard for so many people. Hell, even Ron Paul gets it.

Also, in case you've forgotten there was some murkiness about whether there was a wink and nod from the US when he invaded the SECOND country as well. Wikipedia has a relatively balanced recitation of the facts.

Nothing a few well-targeted Tomahawks couldn't handle.

Wow, that Hall chart is probably the most depressing thing I've seen in a while - I guess I have most of that info already, but seeing it like that shows how unlikely a smooth transition really is. I like solar and wind - but this is really discouraging:

"The worldwide installed capacity of solar photovoltaic cells is 10.9 gigawatts. With the total worldwide installed electrical generating base at 3,872 gigawatts, it would take more than 2,000 years at the current rate of installation (1.74 gigawatts/year) to reach today's capacity. And that's without even considering future growth in electricity demand. If we include the installed base of wind (74.3 gigawatts) and the current rate of wind installations (14.9 gigawatts/year), we can bring the figure all the way down to about 230 years, again without considering growth in demand."

so it looks like coal until we kill the climate and resource wars are inevitable

hey Chimp Who Can Drive, is it too late to join your End of the World cult?

Of course you could have built nuclear fission plants.

What was the scale-up in years for nuclear fission from first commercial installation to significant generation?

I bet it was much much faster than solar, and significantly faster than wind now.

14.9 gigawatts per year (wind increase) is like 4-5 modern nuclear plants for the whole planet. Does that 14.9 GW include duty factors, (wind is 25% or so, versus 90% for nuclear).

If it doesn't then it's more like 2 nukes a year.

Come on. Is that the whole response to a global energy emergency?

China puts a new coal plant (maybe 1/3rd to 1/2 a nuclear plant) every week.

We should, and could be doing at least 40 to hundreds of nuclear plants a year worldwide, until every single coal plant and coal mine is permanently barricaded.

I am not against nukes, I want the lights to stay on - BUT, I don't see the efforts happening yet, and once the SHTF, will there be the resources to scale up (7-10 years lead time per plant?) quickly? and will there be plenty of fuel

the point for me (as a realist) is not that there aren't solutions (although none seem easy), it's that they won't be attempted until (perhaps) too late

I don't see a surge in new nukes in the US yet for example - and isn't England and the US both talking about extending leases on old plants? I have a feeling we are going to have a very tough time just keeping present levels of electrical generation going (esp. once nat gas peaks)

Is the solar and wind TOTAL POTENTIAL, or just INSTALLED BASE? Of course the installed base is going to be tiny right now.

I'm also unclear if the solar bubble is just PVs, or also reflects solar water & space heating, CSP, etc. And there is nothing there at all for geothermal, tidal & wave.

I take it as a given that even if we do all we possibly can do with renewables, it isn't going to be nearly enough to sustain our present economic level; we're going to have to decline, probably to no more than 25% of present per capita GDP at best. However, I wonder about a chart that implies that once the FF are gone, there is hardly any energy of any kind at all. That could happen, but I'm not so sure that it needs be that way.

Re: EPA rejects states' greenhouse-gas limits on cars

[EPA Administrator Stephen] Johnson said action by the states, and therefore the waivers, are no longer necessary because the law signed Wednesday by Bush mandates an average fuel efficiency of cars of 35 miles a gallon by 2020.

That improvement, the first change in the fuel efficiency rules in 32 years, will achieve "the greatest greenhouse-gas reductions in the history of the United States," Johnson said.

Ha ha ha, Ho ho ho, and what about the GHG emissions from fertilizing and sustaining plants for 36 billion gallons of ethanol. This guy Johnson could have resigned rather than cowtow to the idiots in the White House. But that would take the minutest of spine.

California should ignore the EPA, continue towards it's 2009 start for accelerated emissions reduction, and start drawing plans to secede from the Union.

The Governator is not happy. He says he's going to file an appeal.

He was pretty ticked off. Said Bush doesn't take global warming seriously.

There's more of a ruckus over this than I had expected.

Gee, the current Governor of CA doesn't think that GWB takes GW seriously? We'll see who the terminator really is.

This current CA governor just loved all of the Enron execs and just loves to talk big about creating a hydrogen highway to the stars and 'dis an''dat, but I do not believe he is up for a real political fight.

California's governor is big on posturing and posing, but real small so far when it comes to challenging the status quo at all.

He does, however, hate the nurses' unions -- we know that for sure. He thinks that nurses are overpaid and under-worked. Maybe just like most people who actually work for a living.

Just look at his dismal record. Has the guy done anything good -- or just ridden whatever convenient waves to temporary political success he could find?

Let's see CA's current Governor change his own very gross lifestyle and (here is the important part) challenge Californians and Americans to do the same. Let him lead by example.

I think that this is political posturing, which will make it look like most Republicans care about the environment, when really it will only diffuse any efforts to make real change.

Most Republicans -- and Democrats for that matter -- care only about the size of their financial portfolios, and about protecting themselves from any fallout from the violence or pollution that we spread throughout the planet as a matter of course.

American politics is mainly "hype." This seems like a distraction. When it simmers down, we'll be where we would be without the supposed conflict, but with some hollow sense that someone did challenge the status quo, but was properly put in their place.

(End of rant.)

"American politics is mainly "hype." This seems like a distraction. "

Amen...I'm thinking about burrowing into a hole for all of 2008 just to escape the political crap I'll be exposed to.

Beggar: It doesn't matter what you say-people absolutely love the guy. If he was born in the USA, he would probably be President by now. You could make the argument that long-term massive use of roids and groho is a boon to political success in the USA-maybe Canseco should run for Mayor of Miami.

Hear hear on California secession...

Hello TODers;

What do you folks make of the Spread between natural gas and crude oil prices? I understand it is historic premium to crude oil.

I understand GE is selling loads of gas turbines.

I understand the price of nat gas in europe is a third higher than here in the states. Won't that discourage LNG imports into the US?

How much manufacturing cn switch from oil to nat gas?

I understand the spread is normally about 6:1.

It makes sense to me to buy nat gas in the defferred contracts, 5 years out or so where the spread is 10:1.

I'm highly concerned about future rising fertilizer costs, and am looking for a way to hedge. Thank You.