DrumBeat: January 29, 2008

Lester R. Brown: Why Ethanol Production Will Drive World Food Prices Even Higher in 2008

We are witnessing the beginning of one of the great tragedies of history. The United States, in a misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity by converting grain into fuel for cars, is generating global food insecurity on a scale never seen before.

The world is facing the most severe food price inflation in history as grain and soybean prices climb to all-time highs. Wheat trading on the Chicago Board of Trade on December 17th breached the $10 per bushel level for the first time ever. In mid-January, corn was trading over $5 per bushel, close to its historic high. And on January 11th, soybeans traded at $13.42 per bushel, the highest price ever recorded. All these prices are double those of a year or two ago.

Valero Port Arthur work to cut runs 100,000 bpd

HOUSTON(Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp Chief Executive Bill Klesse said on Tuesday that throughput at the company's 295,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery will be cut by 100,000 bpd for a coker unit overhaul.

Kirkuk Oil Flow To Ceyhan Stopped; 1.4 Million Bbl Stored

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Oil shipments from Iraq's Kirkuk oil fields into the Turkish Mediterranean export terminal of Ceyhan are still on hold, a local shipping agent said Tuesday at 1000 local time (0800 GMT), following reports that the flow had ground to a halt Friday.

The local shipping agent said total inventories of loadable Kirkuk crude available at store tanks at Ceyhan now stands at around 1.4 million barrels.

Chevron's Kazakh Unit Raises Oil Output With Injector

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp.'s Kazakh venture, TengizChevroil LLP, increased crude oil extraction after starting up a gas injector.

The addition of 90,000 barrels a day brings current capacity to about 400,000 barrels a day, Chevron said today in a statement. Capacity will reach 540,000 barrels a day in the second half when more facilities at the Tengiz field are added.

Alberta's Liberal leader says other provinces should profit from oilsands

TORONTO - With a provincial election call expected soon, Alberta's Liberal leader says he wants to boost Canada's economy by letting other provinces profit from the oil boom.

Gunmen attack shipbuilder in Nigeria

Gunmen riding in two boats attacked a waterside shipbuilding company Tuesday in Nigeria's lawless southern oil region, injuring one person, police said.

The gang escaped with spare parts as the military moved in to restore order, police said.

Energy security: A new buzzword for Europe

Without ensuring its energy security, Europe's ability to be a serious global player is at risk. The answer to the question “is Europe ensuring its energy security?” is negative. If current trends continue, Europe will be more energy hungry and more dependent on unreliable suppliers.

Heavy footprint weighs down U.S. empire

Is the decline of the status of the United States a result of its heavy ecological footprint? A strong argument can be made that the fading of the American empire is fundamentally an environmental issue.

In his book The Upside of Down, Canadian political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon devotes a lot of space to an environmental analysis of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Interesting in itself, it is also meant as a cautionary tale, not only for the U.S., but also for all industrialized nations.

Outside View: Oil firms boom on Iraq war

As ExxonMobil prepares to celebrate what could be a record profit of more than $10 billion for the last quarter of 2007, jubilant company officials and stockholders might want to join in a moment of silence for the more than 1 million war dead in Iraq -- Iraqi and American combined. They paid the ultimate price in a war in which ExxonMobil has had a hand and which we can estimate is responsible for at least $2.5 billion of ExxonMobil's latest profit.

Gulf needs $50 oil to maintain investments

DUBAI: The Gulf states – including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – will keep investments at their planned levels as long as oil remains above $50 per barrel, said EFG-Hermes Holding, Egypt’s largest investment bank.

Price freezes squeeze Chinese farmers

"Prices of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have continued to soar, but the price of rice has not undergone big hikes in recent years," Xu said. "Rice in 2007 only fetched 80 yuan (US$11)or so per 50 kilograms on the market. I don't have much left after labor costs are deducted. It is simply unrealistic to rely on plowing the fields and becoming prosperous."

Australia: Fuel drought as refinery problems cause shortages

MOTORISTS face the likelihood of petrol shortages amid claims oil companies are using refinery malfunctions to exploit consumers by inflating prices.

Shell confirmed yesterday that its unleaded supplies were "tight" after the breakdown of the catalytic cracking unit at its Clyde refinery.

Russia’s Gazprom plans to deliver gas to Israel via Turkey

Russia-based energy giant Gazprom is seeking to extend its business relations with Turkey, with plans to launch new projects to enlarge its delivery area in the Middle East and Israel via Turkey in particular.

Strategic gas field in northeast Russia awaits Gazprom in 2008

MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russian energy giant Gazprom will start developing one of Russia's largest oil and gas fields in the northeast this year, a regional leader said on Tuesday.

The Chayanda gas field in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), with proven reserves of 1.24 trillion cubic meters of gas and 50 million metric tons (about 370 million barrels) of crude, was included in the list of strategic deposits in late 2007.

Shell sparks fears over oil reserves

Royal Dutch Shell is to delay publication of key data about its oil reserves that it would normally have released alongside profits figures being published on Thursday.

The decision has disappointed some analysts, who have been told that the subject will not even be "up for discussion" and which has sparked concern the reserves numbers could be poor.

Kuwait upbeat on oilfield plan

KUWAIT: Kuwait was confident that the country's legislature would pass a long-delayed plan to explore northern oilfields with the help from foreign firms, reports said yesterday.

The northern oilfields, crucial to plans to raise output capacity, have been delayed for years by legislators who say the plan could give foreign firms control over the country's oil wealth.

Kuwait, which has around 10 per cent of the world's oil reserves, plans to raise its capacity to four million barrels per day oil by 2020.

Japan Plans to Support Replacing Petrol With Wood

TOKYO - Japan is set to embark on a five-year plan this year to harness a new form of energy using unused wood biomass to produce auto fuels and other industrial products currently made from imported petrol.

Japan, where two-thirds of the country is covered by forests, can supply a part of alternative fuels made from wood-origin ethanol as well as raw materials for plastic and carbon fibres.

Biodiesel film wins Sundance award

“Fields of Fuel” was chosen for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Film and was presented to Tickell by host William H. Macy. The film’s producer and other crew members accompanied Tickell onstage to accept the award. In his acceptance speech, Tickell said, “May we work together to create a green and sustainable future.”

Australia Rules Out Uranium Sales to India

The newly installed Australian Labor government has reversed a decision by the previous Howard administration to sell uranium yellowcake to India. Canberra has said it will ban such sales to New Delhi until it agrees to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Refiners cut oil use, show world has enough for now

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil around $90 a barrel for three straight months has led refiners around the globe to process less of it, offering further proof the world's immediate needs for crude are amply covered.

A Reuters estimate shows at least 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) is off line as refiners close units that process crude -- allowing oil inventories to pile up as refined product prices lag crude's rally.

Investment Guru Jim Rogers: ‘It Doesn’t Look Like $90 to $100’ Will Be High Enough to Slow Oil Demand (Part 1 of 3)

Three billion, famed investor Jim Rogers pointed out during a recent interview with EnergyTechStocks.com, is the number of people “who weren’t even in the game” in the 1970s, the last time oil prices reached record highs.

On top of that, said the creator of the Rogers International Commodities Index (RICI), in the 1970s there were huge amounts of oil that people knew were eventually going to come on line, whereas today the world’s oilfields are in a state of decline.

Taipower seeking spot coal on concern China will halt exports

Taiwan Power Co., the island's biggest electricity producer, plans to buy coal in the spot market because of concern China will stop exports, a company official said.

The utility issued a tender last week for about 1 million metric tons of coal and may buy more in the spot market, Chief Engineer Tu Yueh-yuan said by phone from Taipei yesterday.

GlobalCOAL coal price index jumps above $100/T

SYDNEY, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Thermal coal prices at Australia's Newcastle port, a benchmark for Asian coal prices, jumped nearly $9 over the weekend to $102 a tonne, data from electronic trading platform globalCOAL showed on its week-to-date index.

The sharp rise in the coal price index comes after reports of China and South Africa halting their coal exports in an effort to alleviate a severe power crisis.

Triple digit oil price regardless of peak (audio)

The real value of oil is "way, way, way above $80" according to a leading analyst. Paul Horsnell, head of commodities research for Barclays Capital, says it is hard to see the price falling below $80, even allowing for a lot of pessimism about the economy, and that the long run price is likely to be in triple digits – but not because of resource constraints. At least not immediately.

In an interview with lastoilshock.comand Global Public Media, Horsnell argued that the market is in a period of 'price discovery', where it was not yet clear how high the price would have to rise in order to bring on additional supplies or reduce demand.

Supergrid could provide 30% of Europe's electricity (audio)

A high voltage electricity grid connecting countries from the North Sea to the Bay of Biscay could provide almost a third of Europe's power by 2030, according to the company behind the idea. The system would improve energy security, cut emissions, and even reduce the price of power at times of peak demand.

Norwegian gas will go to highest bidder (audio)

As the European gas market tightens over the next decade, Norwegian supplies will be allocated on a strictly commercial basis, according to Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Energy Liv Monica Stubholt.

In an interview with lastoilshock.comand Global Public Media, Ms Stubholt stressed that Norway was raising its gas production and would be a "reliable and predictable supplier".

Bangladesh: Priority to the fertilizer plants, instead of the power plants

The Energy and Mineral Resources Division on Sunday asked Petrobangla to give priority to the fertilizer plants, instead of the power plants, in supplying gas in the ongoing Boro season. An inter-ministry meeting, chaired by special assistant to the chief adviser M Tamim, decided that the Shikalbaha power plant would suspend generation, if needed, so that more gas can be fed to the Raujan power plant and gas supply to Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Limited and Karnaphuli Fertilizer Company can be ensured for smooth production.

Acute farm machinery shortage looms, warns Case IH

Buoyant world farm commodity prices, plus the 'sniff of a good season' here in Australia, are the key drivers of looming farm equipment shortages.

With large swags of broadacre equipment imported, any boom in worldwide equipment sales is going to make it hard for Australian dealers to get into production-line queues, particularly in the US.

SAfrica's Sasol says resumes normal fuel production

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Sasol, the world's biggest producer of fuel from coal, has resumed normal fuel production after output was cut due to the country's power crisis.

Hirsch: The WSJ article on a CERA oil decline study

On January 17, The Wall Street Journal published an article entitled New Fields May Offset Oil Drop, reporting and commenting on a study by CERA entitled, “No Evidence of Precipitous Fall on Horizon for World Oil Production: Global 4.5% Decline Rate Means No Near-Term Peak: CERA/IHS Study.” Here are some WSJ article highlights and related comments / questions:

1. "Output from the world's existing oil fields is declining at a rate of about 4.5% annually."

Comment: Because of CERA's established record of marked optimism in oil and natural gas, a prudent observer might assume 4.5% as a lower bound on this extremely important parameter.

People in need forced to beg for heating help

One oil distributor told me on Monday that he’s finding this to be a very difficult heating season. That’s because he’s regularly on the phone with people pleading for some help. In one poignant example, he says, a father was very nearly in tears trying to get a break on his heating bill.

The trouble is that the small-time oil distributor, who is basically a reseller of heating oil, is also feeling the squeeze this winter. The cost of buying the product and the price at which it is sold is tight and therefore all the so-called discounters have to be conscious of all their expenses.

Chinese Power Firms' Margins Hit By Rising Fuel Costs

HONG KONG - Unlike their foreign counterparts, which can comfortably embrace higher demand and reap larger profits during the winter season, Chinese power producers are struggling to make it through the current snowstorm and are expected to see lower profits for the current year.

The heavy snow and sleet have weighted down electricity pylons and cables, blocked national railways, which transport coal to power plants, and forced 7% of the county’s power plants to shut down their turbines, causing power shortages in 17 provinces amid China’s snowiest winter since the Communist Party took over the country in 1949.

Coal shipments continue as power plants shut

Mainland ports were still loading coal for export in defiance of a government ban on shipments, but top miner and exporter Shenhua Group was feeling a pinch from the new policy, sources said on Tuesday.

Tianjin port, the mainland’s third-largest, was still loading coal for export as was the smaller Rizhao port, both on the northeastern coast, port officials told Reuters.

Problems In Black And White For China

HONG KONG - Coal and coal stocks were as hot as China was cold Tuesday, with the country's power plants and transport networks paralyzed by severe winter weather that has killed 24 people and caused about 22.1 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in direct economic losses.

China, which generates 78% of its power from coal, has been striving to increase production in the past few years to keep pace with rising demand for electricity that has been fueled by five consecutive years of double-digit percentage economic growth. The biggest snowfall in 50 years has pressured an already stretched coal market, raising heating demand and blocking deliveries.

All power plants under capacity

Durban - Not a single one of Eskom's coal-fired power stations, which should supply 90 percent of the country's electricity, is operating at full capacity.

Difficulties in coal supply, technical problems or planned maintenance have wiped out a quarter of the utility's capacity.

China's big freeze, Australia’s floods and South Africa's disruptions paint coal bright

It has been described as the dirtiest fossil fuel of all, but with the high costs of oil and natural gas, coal's time is now and it's on a resurgent path with prices surging in the face of shortages and anticipations that no major producers will up supplies in the next two years.

Nepal: Diesel, kerosene crunch worsens

KATHMANDU - A shortage of diesel and kerosene has gripped the country, creating panic in the transport sector, posing a threat to industry and badly hurting low-end consumers.

On Monday, long queues of buses and micro-buses could be seen at Bhadrakali, Naxal and other leading gas stations in the Valley, while the petroleum dealers association said most of the pumps in the tarai and along the major highways remained closed as they had run out of supplies.

PAKISTAN: Wheat price rises, power cuts breeding discontent

Pakistan is also gripped by one of the most severe energy crises in its history, with power cuts for up to 15 hours a day for domestic consumers, and also periodic cuts in piped natural gas, which serves as the primary fuel in many homes.

Islamabad is affected, but the most prolonged cuts are reported in small towns and villages.

Mexico Lawmakers Threaten Walkout Over Energy Reform

(Bloomberg) -- A Mexican opposition party threatened to boycott congressional sessions in a bid to hinder an energy reform package backed by President Felipe Calderon.

Congressman Alejandro Camacho of the Party of the Democratic Revolution told reporters today that lawmakers from his party may walk out or resign over a plan to ``sell Mexico'' by opening up its oil industry to private or foreign investment.

Gaza petrol stations boycott Israeli fuel shipments in protest

GAZA, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Petrol stations in Gaza on Tuesday refused to receive fuel shipments from Israel except diesel for power plants and the cooking gas.

Mahmoud al-Khozendar, deputy director of the Union of Gaza Service Stations Owners, said the decision was made in a protest against Israeli overt reduction of the fuel supplies needed by Gaza.

More help urged for ‘green’ energy

Almost lost in the public debate over coal-fired power versus renewable energy is how to get both kinds of power from the plants where it’s produced to the cities where it’s used.

At issue: how much planning is being given to placing electrical power lines near generating plants that use renewable resources, versus conventional coal-fired power plants.

OPEC Jan Output Trickles Up To 33 Million B/D, Enough For 2Q - Tracker

DUBAI -(Dow Jones)- Crude oil production from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries trickled higher in January, with the group's present output sufficient to meet its share of global oil demand in the seasonally weaker April-June period, tanker tracker Petrologistics said Tuesday.

The data underscore the expectation among oil ministers and analysts that the cartel won't alter its output levels when it meets Friday in Vienna.

Production from the group's 13 members was expected at 32.9 million barrels a day, 100,000 barrels a day higher than seen in December, the Geneva-based consultancy firm said.

The figures for January and December include Ecuador, which rejoined the group in November.

With Eye on US Econ Woes, OPEC Likely to Hold Output Steady

Despite calls by the Bush administration and European governments for OPEC to pump more oil, the cartel may actually look to cut output this spring if signs continue to point to increasing oil supplies and diminishing demand.

OPEC Likely to Deny Bush's Call for Oil, Survey Shows

OPEC, the producer of more than 40 percent of the world's oil, may reject U.S. President George W. Bush's request to increase production and relieve the strain of rising energy costs.

India: Govt set to raise gas price by 16%

NEW DELHI: Government is likely to raise the price of natural gas produced by ONGC and Oil India Ltd by 16 per cent and index it to inflation rate, a move that would result in higher revenues for the two firms

Valero earnings tumble as gasoline margins lag

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp on Tuesday said fourth-quarter earnings fell sharply on lower profits from gasoline production.

Net income in the quarter fell to $567 million, or $1.02 a share, from $1.11 billion, or $1.80 a share, last year.

Profit margins from refining were relatively weak in the quarter as gasoline prices failed to keep pace with oil prices that soared to record levels.

Australia: Petrol companies may get competition

THE competition monitor says it is courting a new independent player to drive down petrol prices.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman, Graeme Samuel, says he has lost patience with the four main oil companies - Shell, BP, Mobil and Caltex - and they will have to separately face the commission over their excuses that refinery breakdowns or maintenance had led them to increase prices.

China's CNOOC says 2008 oil, gas output to rise

SHANGHAI, China (AP): CNOOC Ltd., China's biggest offshore energy producer, said Tuesday it plans to boost capital spending in 2008 to develop new oil and gas fields and raise its production by up to 16 percent.

Iraq cuts off oil supplies to SKorea

SEOUL (AFP) - Iraq has stopped crude oil exports to South Korea in protest at an exploration deal involving Korean firms in Iraqi Kurdistan, officials said Tuesday.

...The dispute has not badly hit supplies because Iraq accounted for less then three percent of total crude imports last year, an energy ministry official said. The shortage was covered by purchases on the spot market.

SAfrica power crisis to wreck growth forecasts: economists

South Africa, which had forecast five-percent annual growth until the end of the decade, will struggle to hit half that figure owing to its electricity crisis, economists warned on Tuesday.

BHP mines silent amid S African energy crisis

BHP Billiton has halted mining at its manganese mines in Hotazel, and its aluminium smelters at Bayside, Hillside and Mozal continue to shed load.

The company says its coal mines are still operating and are prioritising coal supply to Eskom.

South Africa - Today's meeting agenda: cutting demand

Johannesburg - Eskom's Midrand conference facilities will host another emergency meeting today with the country's largest power users and officials from the departments of minerals and energy, and public enterprises, to try to resolve the energy crisis.

Energy crisis 'could hobble infrastructure'

South Africa's critical electricity crunch has raised doubts over whether infrastructure can keep pace with an economic boom while the country prepares to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup tournament.

Swaziland: Cabinet’s urgent meet over energy crisis

CABINET yesterday convened an urgent meeting to review the present threat of a power crisis.

Secretary to Cabinet Sandile Ceko confirmed that of the two items on the agenda was the situation regarding power shrtage, load shedding and related issues. he said the meeting explored medium to long term solutions but were not specific about projects initiated by certain individuals or companies.

20 Questions on Green IT

The data centre energy crisis is continuing to cause concern for our customers around the world. All indications are the problem will continue to escalate over the next five years. If you consider that the energy usage in a data centre is apprx. 30 times that of a regular office space you start to quickly realize the magnitude of the problem.

Area man makes Page One of Wall Street Journal

A Middleville man was featured in a Page One story in Saturday's Wall Street Journal.

Aaron Wissner is apparently part of a small but growing movement of people who believe that oil production has peaked and that as supplies dwindle, chaos will follow.

'Action needed' on home emissions

European governments and the European Commission are being urged to hasten the development of housing that produces no greenhouse gases.

The European Energy Network (ENR), which includes energy advisory bodies across the EU, says better enforcement of green building codes is also needed.

Gates donates 20 mln dollars to help rice farmers: institute

MANILA (AFP) - Bill Gates, the world's richest man, is to donate nearly 20 million dollars for research into helping rice farmers deal with global warming, the International Rice Research Institute said Monday.

The Philippines-based institute said it would use the donation from the Microsoft founder to harness scientific advances and address major unsolved problems in agriculture.

G7 to consider climate change fund: report

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan, Britain and the United States are looking to jointly propose the creation of a special fund designed to fight climate change.

Bush wants climate deal that gives 'none a free ride'

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush called Monday for completing an international deal aimed at cutting global-warming greenhouse gases that involves "every major economy and gives none a free ride."

In his annual State of the Union speech, Bush plugged a US initiative which stresses uses of nuclear power and technology to trap emissions from coal plants that critics fear will undermine UN-led efforts to fight climate change.

Hansen: White House ‘Reviews And Edits’ All Testimony By Government Scientists

In 2006, the government’s top global warming researcher, James Hansen, revealed the government’s efforts to muzzle him from speaking out about climate change. NASA political appointees reviewed all his lectures, papers, and requests for interviews from journalists.

In a new e-mail, Hansen reveals that the censoring is not only happening to him, but to all government scientists. He writes that the White House Office of Management and Budget reviews all scientific testimony to make sure that it’s “consistent with the President’s budget.”

Interesting note from Stratfor.com regarding the Mexican/US border:

Dear Stratfor Reader:

There's an undeclared war on the Mexican/US border between Mexican Federal forces and the drug cartels, with spillover into the United States. . .

. . . The mainstream media isn't giving this story nearly the coverage it merits. Partially they don't understand the implications, and partially it's because the journalists who have covered this story tend to turn up kidnapped or dead.

Badges?! ..... We don't need no stinkin badges!

Moe fan? I happened to listen to a show with that bit in it on my trip this week :-)

'Moe fan' ..... what on earth are you talking about?

The 'We don't need no stinkin badges' thing is the famous line out of the classic movie, 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre', with Humphrey Bogart.

While with Cheech & Chong, it's "Badgers? We don't need no stinkin badgers!"

the phrase has become a cultural icon. and really, it is p/o related but the connection may be obscure. i recommend reading the book by b traven and watching the dvd version of the movie* which includes a documentary on the making of the movie.

you may have trouble finding them (book and dvd) in your mainstream library, i found them at a branch library in a seedy part of town (along with "twilight"). maybe just coincidence.

*bogie wore a wig during the making of the movie, he had lost his hair because of fertility treatments, trying to have a kid with lauren bacall. i know, i know this is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay of topic.

I don't know that I've ever seen a movie with Bogart in it, but I have certainly listened to M.O.E. here and there, and this line pops up during a song called "Mexico".

It also appears in Blazing Saddles in the scene where they are getting a whole bunch of baddies (KKK, Wehrmacht and Mexican Bandits etc) to swear into a posse.

My kids used to be in stitches and quoted it all the time, especially at cub scouts and brownies.

Lou Dobbs has been covering it.

Not that I give Stratfor much credit. They're the ones who predicted oil would be back down below $30 in 4th quarter of 2005.

They've also been predicting the imminent collapse of China...for about ten years now.

Yeah, I e-mail the guys every once in a while and remind them about their failed oil price predictions.

Legalize drugs. End war.

Google Mayan Express ICE CIA

NarcoNews has been covering this and other undertheradar events related to US DEA and ICE corruption and involvement in "The House of Death," as well as resistence on both sides of the border to its militarization.

As for StratFor, the "Drug War" spilled across the border long ago. Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" and Mike Ruppert's challenge to the CIA over its deep involvement in the drug trade should be required reading. The immorality of the USG is very deep and long standing.

Why are there no American Drug Lords?


When did the British Monarchy stop profiting from Opium?

"Two American-registered drug planes busted in Mexico carrying four and 5.5 tons of cocaine are just the "tip of the iceberg" in a blockbuster aviation deal which sent 50 American-registered aircraft to the Sinaloa Cartel, the MadCowMorningNews has learned."


Michael Ruppert did a lot of good research into the CIA involvement in drug-running.

Wind power gone mad

Swedish media reports that a several tonnes heavy wind turbine blade flew off and landed in the surrounding fields. The impact crater was about one meter deep. The actual unit was installed in 2002 and the company that installed it is investigating the accident.
A nearby resident comments that it's scary it happened, given there's about 300 turbines installed in the area that is frequented by people.

No translation available, sorry:

So windmills can fly apart. No real surprise. At least, they don't explode.

This makes the news. One meter deep? Big whoop. Meanwhile, coal kills every day.

Did any leaked Wind manage to get out into the environment?

You forgot the tailings from the wind mines.

Tons of them pushing down on every man, woman and child. Dogs too.

Contaminated with Di-Hydrious mono oxide.

Dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) is really dangerous stuff. Here is the homepage of an organization dedicated to spreading the news about DHMO (http://www.dhmo.org/). You wouldn't believe some of the stuff it can do.

ROFL! Made my day :)

Someone sent that info to the press secretary of one of our ministers a few years back, and a statement was issued about it. Funny stuff! :)


It actually did. The MSM is beating the alarm that 200 milliliters of greasing oil plus other unidentified dangerous substances escaped the environment and contaminated the ground waters.

Among the casualties is a raccoon that had to leave his home because of the contamination, and a reporter that broke her fingernail when writing the story about the accident - the worst in the history of western wind industry.

The authorities are considering evacuating the region. In an emergency meeting the head of the Department of Energy announced that such dangerous accidents are unacceptable and proposed phasing out the whole wind industry, and storing all spent wind turbines in a safe place underground. The industry has to make sure and provide definite proof that no reporters or raccoons will be hurt by the wind waste in the next 1,000,000 years.

In other news, an oil spills continue to be nuisance by killing off wildlife and coating bathers in tar balls. (Not to fully discount the wind power gone mad, it is an amusing read.)

I am not going to look up the definition of "crater," but in my little mind, 3 feet does not qualify - more like a dent in the earth.

More discussion by Mish of the "Jingle Keys Walk Away" phenomenon, where homeowners, who can afford to make the payments on the mortgages, choose not to make the payments and walk away, because the home values are falling so quickly. As I outlined previously, when we add in an assumption of declining net oil exports and a continuing credit implosion, it certainly does seem to me that there is a very high probability that owning non-agricultural real estate is almost certainly a losing proposition almost everywhere in the US, especially in suburban areas.

Banks vs. Consumers

If banks can make "business decisions" to ignore risks, to lend money with no down payment, and fire people at at the first sign of trouble without any remorse, why shouldn't consumers be able to do the same?

Take a look at previous values on homes now being auctioned. Did not lenders make a business decision to ignore insane valuations placed on those homes?

Indeed they did, and one reason was they could securitize the garbage and sell it to pension plans and foreign investors as far away as Norway (see Citibank SIVs Hit Norway Townships). Is Citigroup about to refund Norway townships for the mess it created?

Another reason banks ignored insane valuations is they thought lucrative fees would more than make up for losses on foreclosed properties. They thought wrong.

As a result, lenders became home owners and are now in hock with the auction business.

Home ownership in record plunge

The housing and mortgage meltdown caused the biggest one-year drop in the rate of homeownership on record, according to government figures released Tuesday.

Foreclosures up 75% in 2007

The number of foreclosures soared in 2007, with 405,000 households losing their home, according to a report released Tuesday. That's up 51 percent from the 268,532 homes that were repossessed in 2006.

Of course, one of the consequences of the 'Jingle Key Walk Away" phenomenon is reluctance of lenders to risk capital on new mortgage loans, which of course reinforces the downward spiral.

This is where they are all going (In california at least)



Hello Marco,

Thxs for this link on postPeak Shruburbs; this sad, new architectural and economic cul-de-sac of haphazard community design.

From a Malthusian point of view: the very first time real estate developers proposed cul-de-sacs as optimal layouts--that is when we should have started the reproductive discussion if cul-de-sacs, and other voluntary birth control methods would have been the better choice.

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

This is well worth the look. Pretty scary, and this camp is only 350+ people. PO in earnest; scenes like this to become more common.

The main problem with consumers making "business" decisions is that they are not allowed to -- there is something called law which controls their behavior -- at least as long as the lawyers maintain the upper hand. The job of consumers is to consume, and their (our) decisions are limited to deciding which products to choose to consume, not whether to turn it all back in and go off on some other tack. To do that is strictly un-American. It's what hippies do. The law is distinctly asymmetric in application, and if it weren't, our society would look a lot different. A corporation walks away from a bad decision, the shareholders and customers and suppliers make up the losses and the CEO walks away with a fortune.

A "consumer" who walks away from a bad house loan is saddled with debt for the rest of his life, and is likely to be hounded by the IRS forever. In the old days, you would be transported to Australia or South Carolina for less.

I think, but I am not sure, that the law regarding taxation of "forgiven" loan balances, via foreclosure, short sales, etc., was changed. In any case, I believe that you can discharge the tax liability through bankruptcy (again, I ain't no CPA).

You can discharge IRS debt through a Chapter 7 BK if the IRS debt is old enough. This is why I'm waiting a couple of years to do my own BK.

But, it is certainly a war between the people and the international bankers, and before you write that off as rhetoric, remember that your local banker isn't Jimmy Stewart anymore; he's a combination of rich Chinese and rich Arabs, and your local bank is just the one of their tentacles that's poked into your little town.

I think Halliburton prison camps are a real worry, but they may not happen if Kunstler is correct and the gov't ends up having trouble just answering the phones. Then your local warlord may be a bigger concern in your life.

Your mortgage and IRS debt may put you on the sh*t list with the gov't, but will probably be moot with the local warlord. And it may not matter much to the gov't when say 25% or more of the US population is deeply in debt, living in a tent or old car, and has no hope of ever paying it back. We may actually stave off the Halliburton camps through sheer numbers.

Frankly, my own little opinion is to send that jingle mail, get out now while things are still relatively good, and get used to living rough. You'll have a big jump on things when they really get bad. Do a Ran Prieur and get used to living on next to nothing and get some land or more likely squat some land - what you don't own can't be taken from you.

For BK information the Nolo Press books are good, make sure you read the very latest printings, 2006 or later. The .gov has some useful sites, and there's some stuff on the net. Put serious time into reading all you can, including skimming Craigs List and other sites for what people are really going through. For instance I make sure I make very very little money, because while the law regarding paycheck garnishment is very kind, the actuality is very cruel. Illegal as hell but people are losing all but say 50 bucks a month to garnishments, after working fulltime. Also illegal as hell but being done is car insurance based on credit score, a large part of why I've got a small motorcycle instead of a car.

This is survival, people.... Jingle mail, jingle mail, jingle all the way!

According to others, such as Ilargi on TheAutomaticEarth.com, walking away from a first mortgage does not constitute bankruptcy and the bank is legally limited to claims against the property, not the remaining assets of the one who walks away. However, for second mortgages and HELOCS, this is not the case.
Of course, if true, this is a vital difference that will have an effect on people who are upside down in their homes.


Whether a lender can pursue a claim against the borrower who "walks away" depends on state law. I haven't researched this recently but about 10 years ago when I did there were a number of different kinds of state laws. In some states, the lender on a first mortgage's sole recourse was against the real estate (could not claim against the borrower). In other states, the lender can make a claim against the borrower if the property is sold at foreclosure and brings less than the amount of the loan. Some states require a showing as the fairness of the foreclosure sale price. Other states even allow the lender to decline to foreclose at all and just sue on the loan.

Some states require a Court action before a foreclosure can start, others don't. Time periods between default and foreclosure vary wildly as well.

Of course, if the borrower then files bankruptcy we overlay the federal bankruptcy laws on top of the state laws to determine what happens.

Psunflwr (reformed bankruptcy lawyer)

That's not the only problem you have with your banking system..

According to your old friends at the


"Legislation provides the Federal Home Loan Banks with a
"SUPER LIEN" on any bank assets if a member bank fails. This means the FDIC may not have enough funds to pay depositors after the FHLB
Advances have been paid.

Through her research, she advised, she was fascinated to learn about the FHLBs' "super lien" against the assets of banks to which they make
advances. These rights, she added, including prepayment fees, are
provided by statute and are superior to the rights of depositors and
even to the FDIC after an institution fails.

In general, people expect the FDIC to guarantee the first $100.000 in
deposits for every account. But the FDIC insures the banks, not the
depositors. In other words, depositors will have to hope something will
be left after the FHLB have taken back their loans"

Some of you Americans may have too kiss your FDIC insurance goodbye.

Right now, I think keeping one's savings in a bank is kinda..... well, stupid.

Over on tickerforums there's been a serious discussion on when the bank runs will begin, and these are fairly financially savvy people. I won't post there, since I consider all other forms of investing inferior to silver coins in a buried coffee can. I love to read it though.

I'd really not advise having money in a bank if you can't afford to lose it.

While your talking about bank failures......

Last Saturday I started a thread in the drumbeat about the market turmoil. Some questions were asked about the very dramatic "Net Free or Borrowed Reserves of Depository Institutions" chart posted by musashi.

Well, here comes some explanation via minyanville.com and Mike Mish Shedlock

“Banks in aggregate have now burned through all of their capital and are forced to borrow reserves from the Fed in order to keep lending. “

I suggest reading the whole article.

Countrywide: From bad to worse

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Countrywide on Tuesday reported a loss of $422 million in the fourth quarter and revealed that an astounding one-third of its investment portfolio's sub-prime mortgage loans are delinquent.

The loss threw cold water on Countrywide chief operating officer Steve Sambol's confident assurances to investors in October that, "We view the third quarter of 2007 as an earnings trough, and anticipate that the company will be profitable in the fourth quarter and in 2008." Seen in this light, Countrywide's fourth-quarter loss, compared to a $621 million profit a year ago, is what the numerous class action attorneys circling Countrywide will surely call "an unfavorable fact." Countywide finished 2007 with a loss of $704 million.

Looking at a home as a profit making investment is ridiculous. Over the long run and looking at the country as a whole home prices have tracked very closely with general inflation. In constant dollar terms home prices have been constant or in other words zero return on investment. Where home ownership has been profitable is in the financial sector. You buying a home is very profitable for the bank but worth zilch to you as a profit making venture. The main reason to buy a home is you need a place to sleep, bathe, and keep all your stuff. It has significant utilitarian value if you don't mind paying interest instead of rent. If you have the rare opportunity to own a home free and clear of debt go for it and never get a home equity loan.

Hm, what about the case of negative real interest rates - which IMHO has been the case the last 10-15 years?

I agree that a home will not bring you fortune, but so far it looks like the best way to protect your wealth from the governments' inflation tax.

Traditionally, you pay off the loan and sell the house and keep the equity so you win. If you rent, you pay and never gain anything. It never mattered if the house gained in value just as long as it didn't lose value. My guess is most of us paid more on our mortgages than we lost in value last year. That may end or it may not -- how valuable is having a roof over your head? If new construction slows and home repair materials skyrocket than you better be living in your own home.

Let's see... You pay $900 or $1,000/mo on your house for the mortgage.. So, let's say you're paying rent at that rate instead of mortgage... So, at $900/mo, your house can lose $10,800 a year, and you're breaking even compared to renting. Sounds OK to me!

This is interesting and may suggest a sea change in attitudes.

I never would have believed that an American household would walk away rather than hit negative equity. Most people would , I think , hang on by the fingernails until prised out.

Making a conscious decision to walk away suggests some at least are seeing it for what it is and have decided that the banks are equally culpable.

This is a fault line in the social contract.

''Its capitalism Jim , but not as we know it.''.

FBI investigates 14 firms for subprime fraud

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday said it is investigating 14 companies for possible fraud or insider trading violations in connection with loans made to risky borrowers - and investments spun off of those loans.

Agency officials did not identify the companies under investigation but said the wide-ranging probe, which began in spring 2007, involves companies across the industry - from mortgage lenders to financial firms that bundle home loans into securities sold to investors.

Nobody has yet made any other assumptions than BAU and that Globalisation may yet grind to a halt. I think its called paradigm paralysis:


Jobs for the children of globalisation
By Tim Weber
Business editor, BBC News website, Davos

What do you want to be when you are grown up?
Ever wondered what career advice you should give to your child?
After all, this is the age of globalisation.
Jobs are outsourced and off-shored. Factories are taken apart, shipped out and rebuilt - nuts and bolts and all - in China.
Once upon a time the solution seemed to be straightforward. "Move up the value chain," we were told. Get high-tech skills and let cheap workers in developing countries get their hands dirty.
Apart from the fact that his advice never quite worked for many people in manufacturing jobs, it's also out-of-date.

Even the Rich are concerned:

But if you are worried about your children's future, you are not alone.
The millionaires and billionaires attending last week's World Economic Forum in Davos are just as concerned about their offspring.

Can schools prepare children for the globalised world?
A lunchtime session called "What Job Should My Child Take in a Globalizing Economy?" was completely booked out, filled with mothers and fathers at a loss of what to do.
However, those hoping for clear answers were quickly disappointed.
"Don't tell your child to be an engineer or be this or that, because we have no clue where future jobs will be," warned one participant.
"The world is developing so rapidly, whichever job you recommend now will be out-of-date by the time they are out of university," another chimed in. And all agreed that the notion of a lifelong job with the same company was obsolete

Thanks for the ammo Mud.

I have been saying this to my wife and inlaws and they flat out reject it and call me a bad parent.

Good luck,

the forces of convention weigh in heavily when you have kids at pre university age.

One of mine is doing Chemistry, One likely to do Phys+ Eng.

Just so long as I can get them through without great personal debt, they can then retrain into whatever might work. Thats the plan, anyway

If not, both will fully understand enthalpy , entropy and thermodynamics....and what is happening around them.

That's the key, the debt. At 20K a year for land grant universities, it's getting impossible if you aren't wealthy. Even living close to the bone, its hard to make 10K part time and be a fulltime student.

If you stay out of debt, a degree that prepares you to bounce into other fields seems worth it, but racking up 80-100K debt for a worthless degree(reader, fill in) seems a prescription for misery.

I wonder sometimes if knowing such stuff as electrical power, chemistry, thermodynamics, computer design, and other practical facets of physics is actually useful.

Or does it place one in the not-so-enviable position of being the engineer on the Titanic, knowing the physics of gravitic and displacement and knowing the inevitable before it happens.

My concern with our situation just has me branded as an idiot - a doomer. It got me laid off, as I would not go along with things I felt to be not in the company's best interest.

I can go over the logistic equation: dQ/dt = Q(t)*(1-Q(t)) in all of its elegance, solve this nonlinear differential equation for Q(t), and try to show others the profound implications of this when applied to our finite resources - but all I elicit are yawns and other's attempts to change the subject to something like the Super Bowl.

If I had any skill I would teach to those who do not enjoy pursuing the unbridled truth of cold scientific analyses, I would suggest leadership skills. Those guys were the ones still employed when people like me had to go.

Another occupation sure to be in demand is private security. We will always have the rich, and they will fund to see it stays that way.

As far as I am concerned, I hope my oil stocks do well so I can use the proceeds to develop my solar powered refrigeration systems. There are a lot of new technologies, such as SEMA motors evacuated-tube absorbers, ice bank technologies, new compressor technologies, and alternative refrigerants (R-290, R-600) I want to explore without having to constantly propitiate the "leadership" people.

Hardhat ain't that the fudgin' truth!

Right now in my bathroom, yes, the "reading room" I have a test equipment catalog, full of all kinds of Agilent and Fluke stuff, whee - I drool over it and know what it all does, and even how to build simpler versions lol.

But in my own life, I'd say Tech's a great hobby but meanwhile get an honest job digging ditches to pay the bills. Honestly, the time I spent, and money (which I actually paid back) trying to get a college degree would have been MUCH better spent learning a musical instrument, or how to become an elite tattoist, or something.

Learning how to farm would have been great too, although it'd have been "guerrilla gardening" since I'm one of the hereditarily landless.

Tech is an utter money pit, Einstein was right when he said he'd have been happier being a shoemaker.

Actually the Einstein quote "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking [snip] If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker." is actually stating the opposite: it was physics being actually used in the real world (the atom bomb) that depressed him. My position (currently as an academic researcher/engineer in computer technology) is that life is balance between being socially/financially happy and happy at what you work at. If you're one of the people who can't "clock on whilst leaving your curiosity at home" try and find a job that pays the minimal level you'll accept and find the most interesting job at that level. For example, I might be more secure in physical needs, financially and socially productive as a farmer, but I know I'd hate it, so for the moment I'm not. But I'm keeping one eye on the future in case my job category looks like it might vanish, in which case I'll try and retrain for another job category.

Since my layoff, I took a wholloping dose of screwitol, let my hair grow long, and adopted the hippie lifestyle.

I tried to placate the Corporate Managerial Team, but endless arguments over such trivia as what computer I could have in my cubicle, and which software I would be allowed to use pretty soon convinced me the corporation could care less over whether or not I actually did anything.

I wasn't even allowed to keep a machine I assembled from scrap I recovered from the surplus yard. It was all a power trip.

The corporation executives would pay more for someone to tell me I was not allowed to do things, than for me to do them.

The executives didn't like technical clutter in their corporation. Like my wealthy neighbor, they live in a spotless house - no tools. If they need anything, its just a cell call away. All they need is a cell phone, and outsourcing that does anything they ask for their dollar.

I linked the SEMA motor in my post, as I consider this design to be absolutely revolutionary, yet when I try to promote this, I am taken about as seriously as I take Orbo technology. I dream of what I could do knowing the thermodynamics of refrigeration and air handlers - and what I could do with these motors as part of the compressor and fan designs. But it remains a dream. Which I hope to instantiate on my own house if my oil stocks will give me a decent return.

I realize America is not yet in need of the kind of work we can do, hence we see the kind of disdain for techie types both you and I note. By the time our skills are needed, there will be neither the time nor the resources to do the work. Its frustrating. The grave gets closer every day for me, but the "homebuyer" still considers the appearance of the bathroom faucet more important than the reliability of his water supply.

This paradigm is not new. One never misses the water until the well runs dry. The well has not run dry yet. I fear that by the time the well does run dry, there will be no resources to construct alternatives, the resources expended on today's friviolities.

The one saving grace for me is that by that time, I should be resting comfortably with God. God knows I wanted to help.

Now, How about them Cowboys?

Good points hardhat, but its what they WANT to do. And if you cant do that at 18, then it will be downhill all the way thereafter.

And this young generation may be one of, or even the last to get a chance to do what they want to do.

Hell knows how all this will pan out over time. Could be The Chemist gets a job at a local bio fuels plant in rural Scotland generating enough bio diesel to keep the local Earth Marines mobile against marauders!

Better still, she distills hooch...That way she will be an asset and the Earth Marines will stick around.

As for the Phys + Eng, He is also a handy absailer and those wind towers may need the midges scraped off the blades...*

* Midge splat can reduce a blade's efficiency enough to be of concern.

Still, the only advice I can try and give is:

Keep Fit
Travel Light
Stay out of debt
Be flexible
Keep your friends
Work is work and a garbage collector is more important than a CEO.
Forget the mortgage, 2.4 kids, weekend bbq, long commute to a productivity pod death-trap lifestyle

It is always hard to see the future. I studied physics because I loved it with no idea of how I'd be employed. Eventually I fell into an area of x-ray spectroscopy that has supported me and my family for many decades. Not only that but I love what I do. I've been at times a software programmer, instrument designer, applications scientist, technical writer and more. Now I travel around to all sorts of labs around the country and teach them about our narrow niche of analysis and help them with their analytical challenges.

My impression is that the top 25% or so of new graduates will be employed or will start companies or will somehow be active. It is the rest that are more dependent on boom times for jobs and that get hurt in the down times.

I studied engineering because I loved it. So much so that I never had time for family.

You are probably right about the 25% of new graduates being employed, as there seems to be a real glut of people trained in scientific areas today. It appears to be such a waste to see other young people pursuing the course I did, learning skills there is no market for.

Its my fault. I tried to make my hobby into my profession.

Like Fleam noted, I need to get an "honest job" in flipping burgers to support my hobby of seeing just how efficient I can make combined heat and power systems.

It was fun while it lasted.

As an engineer from the old school (class of '67), I could not in good conscience recommend to a high school graduate that he/she become an engineer. It's simply too much drudgery and toil to first get the degree, and then once one has the degree, one is faced with a highly unstable job market, plus increasing downward pressure from 'imported' (i.e, H1B visa) engineers. In the US at least, the future does not look too rosy for someone with a technical degree. Plus, most engineering, as practiced today, is hardly what I would describe as 'fun'.

The fact that there are many technical problems to solve doesn't mean squat. The relevant question is: how much money is going to be spent toward solving those problems and how much of the effort to solve them is going to be outsourced or done by 'imported' engineers?

Quite frankly, I'm at a complete loss as to what postive advice I could give to any young person (other than don't trust anything the government tells you). But I suppose that's not very positive, is it?

I truly dread to think what the year 2040 is going to look like, and I'm glad I'm not going to be around to see it. Unfortunately, my son will.

[drunken rant follows]

As someone who designs electronic devices (digitally controlled power supplies), I only half agree with your post. I actually have fun with my job. On the other hand, I know that any people-herder (managerial type, finance type) makes a lot more money than I do. While I wish that being a techno-peasant was important, really, there are a lot of others who could do the same thing I do. And, given global communication, being a designer is like being a singer--only the best need apply, because the best design is likely to prevail. And no-one wants to have the 5th best design.

I feel that technical skills, whether electronic, agricultural, or anything else (building things, making things, fixing things, etc), are of less value than managing people. It seems to me that the holistic thinkers (mentioned in previous posts here on TOD) win out in modern society.

Apparently, people are more complicated than machines, and controlling people is a more valuable skill.

[side note -- I'm not at all willing to criticize cheaper workers elsewhere. I figure they have the right to fight me over whatever scraps/niche markets are left. I just wish that I personally was obviously more valuable than them.]

The future is in the hands of people who control other people. Young people should consider this. Management is probably a good goal. That said, a manager who actually understands what his subordinates are doing could conceivably be more effective. A minor in reality might come in handy.

I really really wish that our politicians had a minor in reality.


Having some 'basic' skills in fixing and building stuff, however, should leave you always able to earn a meal, and very likely able to do far better than that.

People skills are, of course, very worth having as well. But as long as we live under rooftops, have electrical and mechanical devices around us, and use tools, then tinkerers and handy people need not starve.


I was thinking along those same lines, Jokuhl.

Being a California resident living through Gray Davis' electrical energy fiasco, I saw just how fast price for electricity would skyrocket once the supply was threatened.

Right now, me peddling my skills is akin to trying to peddle a jerry can of gasoline in front of a filling station. I can stand there for days and nobody wants it. If a gas crisis hits, I can get damned near anything I want for my can.

I figure as long as we can sustain our throwaway society, there is no use for my skills. Our stuff is designed elsewhere, built elsewhere, and imported to America for however long it lasts, then disposed. This will go on as long as our dollar is strong and foreign countries will ship us their goods for our dollar.

If TSHTF, then I am apt to have little competition if China will not answer the cellphone call from USA because our currency is no good. During a collapse scenario, many businesses go under, leaving their products in the field unsupported. If I can support some of them, I think I will survive.

You were way too polite towards the managerial stuff... a manager that does not understand what his/her subordinates do is MUCH WORSE than an engineer managing people. At least you can learn managing people on the fly, using common sense and your basic social skills. But you can't learn electrical engineering or software development if all what you knew well in your life has been word-joggling.

Unfortunately case #1 covers maybe 90% of the staffs in corporate America, case #2 covers less than 1% leaving just 8% for the "sweetspot" of managers that actually know (and care) about how the people below them do what they do.

People management is a hard job. TOD is full of analytical types aka management problems, such as myself, and thusly there is shared opinion on this. I thought that way, too, until I was in charge for a while ... now I have great sympathy for those who had me as a resource back in the day, 'cause I's a hassle :-)

I see the MER is now out at http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/mer/inter.html

No new record production for October (close but no cigar). Besides a single month does not have much meaning in the context of surrounding months of production as it did for 2005. It fell short by about 170,000 BPD.

Schoolhouse Rock and the indoctrination of exurban expansion

I'm a genX'er who grew up on Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock cartoons. For nostalgia's sake I was showing my children some of these videos on youtube and found one I had completely forgotten about called "Elbow Room". The basic educational point of this cartoon is that Americans need lots of space and we apparently have a natural disdain for higher density living. It glosses over the destruction and displacement of the native americans with one line and a benign arrow through a hat. It ends with the suggestion that if we ever again have to live with density, we'll just colonize the moon. I had forgotten how much my generation has been brainwashed from birth.
Here's the link:

I grew up in the 70's and 80's as a cul-de-sac prisoner. I was trapped by a freeway on one side and busy connector roads on the others. There was absolutley nothing for a child to do that did not require a car trip (other than watching MTV and commiting acts of petty vandalism). I just find it so hard to believe that so many of my cohorts who grew up this way are now moving out to the suburbs and exurbs with their families just as their parents did and exposing themselves to long commutes and no exercise and exposing their children to the same doldrums and tedium that we grew up with.

I just find it so hard to believe that so many of my cohorts who grew up this way are now moving out to the suburbs and exurbs with their families just as their parents did and exposing themselves to long commutes and no exercise and exposing their children to the same doldrums and tedium that we grew up with.

I don't. I'm reading a book now, about what makes a house a home. It's more a psychological thing than an architecture thing. It argues that we're sort of imprinted in childhood as to what feels like "home" to us. Some people go for the complete opposite (like my boss, who grew up in a row house in urban Boston, and now refuses to even consider a lot smaller than five acres, because he doesn't want to see or hear his neighbors). But most of us try to recreate the home(s) we grew up in, one way or another.

It also argues that the American suburb is a recreation of our rural past. Instead of the back 40, we have the backyard.

What's the title of the book you're reading?

I can't remember. I'm not very good with titles. I'll check later.

It's called House As a Mirror of Self: Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home.

Not really the kind of book I usually read. It popped up when I was looking at books on small homes and downsizing for some reason, and something in the descriptions and reviews made me buy it.

I don't know if it's still in print but you might try:

Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski

There was an interesting chapter on how designers like Ralph Lauren manipulate our perceptions of "home" to sell their products.

Thanks for getting back on that. Is it a credible read?

It's kind of an odd duck. Techie types find it kinda new-agey, while new age types find it too scientific.

I haven't finished it yet, but so far, I'm finding it interesting. It's sort of an interest of mine: designing for people, rather than designing strictly for utility.

Sounds interesting. The Amazon preview has text about the size of the fine print on credit card agreements. Maybe I'll see if it's available at Borders when I go into Temecula today.

Re: designing for people - I agree. People come first or at least ought to. I believe our systems ought to be designed to enhance and strengthen the mind and body rather than dumb us down to the mewling masses. I realize that's normative talk but what the hell.

The design of computer systems really needs to be done with a strong emphasis on to how to encourage trust. I was very impressed with Linus Torvalds' Google presentation about Git, his source code management tool. He emphasized that in the end we tend to congregate in groups of five or ten people and these are the people we trust. Git allows source code aggregation in a manner than encourages this kind of group. It's a very clever scheme.

I also was surprised to discover how crasty he is. Wonderful! There aren't many people who would throw scats at the the Google audience.


By the way. Thank you Leanan. Day after day after day after day you keep Drumbeat going with interesting articles. It's a great news feed and always a daily read.

Be sure to catch the MadTV (Public Schoolhouse Rock) and Simpsons parodies, like Dysfunction Junction.

Even if they were off the mark about Lebensraum those shows were great fun for basic grammar and math. I used to get a laugh by suddenly blurting out stuff like "Five Ten Fifteen Twenty Twenty-Five Thirty."

Not exercising is a choice. the automobile is a factor, but there has to be some accountability.

You also grew up with truly crappy cartoons. The cartoons in the 50s and 60s were far superior, as evidenced by the fact that people of all ages still love to watch them today, while cartoons from the 70s and beyond are all instantly forgettable.

When I was growing up in the 70s they showed the Merrie Melodies along with all the new stuff. Loved it all - kids aren't too finicky about having fun, you know!

The WB cartoons were really witty, I agree.

The cartoons in the 50s and 60s were far superior, as evidenced by the fact that people of all ages still love to watch them today,

I'd say the crap of the 50's was not preserved because it didn't make enough money to cover preservation expenses.

That and the cost of making new, VS making almost pure profit by reselling paid off material helps to keep the better older material in circulation.

Thus, by obserservation of the TV alone over time, your statement is true.

You are right that there is a sorting-out process, though I suspect less of the "crap" has been truly lost than anyone imagines. Acetate film can last a very long time, and stuff sits in warehouses because it's not worth anybody's time to sort it and get rid of it.

However, "cost-cutting" was not invented yesterday. The general idea is to remove craftsmanship. Over the years, less and less was redrawn between successive frames, less and less was put into the art, and the number of frames per second was cut down (to what seemed as low as eight or even, occasionally four or six.) Cartoons tended to become overly simplified, stilted, and jerky.

The process changed tracks once computer animation arrived. In the big productions, we get more motion and complexity, but so much is filled in by semi-fixed algorithms that maybe it's still unconvincing, only for different reasons. The Saturday morning stuff is mostly awful, as many of the cost-cutting methods that worked with hand drawings also reduce computer time. After all, as with the explosive growth of 'reality' TV, if people will gladly watch rubbish in order to escape the emptiness of their consumer minds, why pay even an extra penny to produce good stuff?

It never got better than Rocky & Bullwinkle...

It never got better than Rocky & Bullwinkle

My all time favorite scene was when Boris threatened to shoot Rocky down with an anti-missile-missile, so Rocky counters with an anti-anti-missile-missile-missile, then Boris counters that with an anti-anti-anti-missile-missile-missile-missile, and then Rocky counters that with an anti-anti-anti-anti-missile-missile-missile-missile-missile.

Pretty cleaver commentary on the arms race, especially for the early 60s.

My favorite is when Bullwinkle is trying to sell a pile of rocks he does not want. No matter how much he lowers the price on the sign he can’t get rid of them. Finally, Rocky has an idea to get rid of them. The next scene all the rocks are gone, along with the sign, and the scene shifts to Boris and Natasha in a room with a bunch of rocks and a sign that says do not take rocks. “Boris, why did you take these rocks?” Natasha asks. Boris replies, “it was the principle I had to take them.”

My wife gave me a stocking stuffer at Christmas, 50 episodes of "The Beverly Hillbillies".
The irony of Jed's maladjustment to life in the "Hills", from the viewpoint of peak oil is something most TODer's can appreciate.
As a matter of fact I think I recognize a few of you here from the series!

Highlight from an early episode finds Jethro in the foyer wondering where the "dadburn music is coming from" after the doorbell rings.

Some of the cartoons we watched in the 50's and 60's were much older. I'm thinking especially of the Fleischer Brothers work done in the 30's and 40's. A few constantly rebroadcast 'toons were from the '20's. And a lot of it racy enough and suggestive enough to be X rated.

Brilliant stuff. Rotoscoped Cab Calloway was how I found out about jazz.

Hmm, I do not love 50's or 60's cartoons, and I'd take the 90's Eek the Cat over any of them any day.

A recent story in the Washington Post was titled Region's Builders Rein In Visions: With Real Estate Downturn, Projects Scaled Back, Scrapped. It carried this quote from a developer:

"The outer fringes slow down first," he said. "Loudoun County is going to slow down before downtown Washington, or areas in Fairfax and Tysons. Good locations are still good locations."

Thirty or forty years ago, the conventional wisdom was that the central cities would be the first to suffer in a development slowdown. The low density outer fringes were the go-go areas, where costs were cheap and demand seemed unslakable.

That conventional wisdom has completely reversed. Furthermore, no one sees that as remarkable.

Phineas: The "colonize other planets" thing seems to be almost the flip side of the "the world was created in seven days 6000 years ago" thing. I have heard this colonization comment from otherwise intelligent persons and I wonder where it is coming from. IMO this fantasizing about the mythical power of technology and science gives scientists a bad name, just like Catholic priests and TV evangelists give religion a bad name.

It actually made sense in the mid-'70s, when "Elbow Room" was made. We were at peak oil USA. We had expanded for two hundred years, and it seemed obvious that it would only continue. The recently ended Apollo program seemed like the first step into space, not a pinnacle we would not reach again.

People laugh at the old Twilight Zone and Star Trek shows...but at the time, they seemed reasonable. Colonizing other planets by the 1990s, flying cars like the Jetsons, etc. My grandfather was alive when the Wright Brothers took their first flight, and he lived to see the moon landing and the space shuttle. I expected similar advancements in my lifetime. I thought I'd see technological wonders he never dreamed of.

It didn't work out that way. This is a big reason why I am no longer a techno-cornucopian.

And I think very few Americans these days expect to colonize space. It's really amazing how that has changed since the '50-'70s.

Mayor Rudy, yesterday in Florida, PROMISED to put a man on mars.

Yeah, but when Bush promised the same thing, people just laughed at him.

And putting a man on Mars is a far cry from colonizing it.

I remember "Elbow Room". And going even earlier, we had a bunch of these books for kids, you know, the ones with dogs playing in trees and driving cars and stuff, Dr. Seuss stuff (I think Seuss's anti-German stuff from WWII was too cute to be actually evil lol) and we had two, one was Ann Can Fly, about a little girl who learns to fly the family airplane, and the most pernicious, You Will Go To The Moon. That was about a kid who well, goes to the moon. It's a popular tourist destination, like going to camp, you know. You climb rings on the wall with your hands, drive around in a little moon car and hop higher than on Earth in your little space suit. It was really cute. Especially the beginning part showing the 3-stage rocket using more energy than the output of a small country to get you up there.

From Professor Emeritus Dr William R Catton Jr in his ground breaking book 'Overshoot'.

'The energy expended in two decades by a vast labour force of Egyptians stacking up some 2,300,000 blocks of stone (each weighing about two and a half tons) to form the Great Pyramid of Cheops was less than the energy released in a few minutes by three stages of a Saturn V rocket propelling men toward the moon.'

re: "Putting a Man on Mars."

I shot an awards event for American Geographic Society, honoring both Neil Armstrong and (name?!) the explorers who took a bathysphere to the depths of the Pacific. They said it's no big deal getting to the bottom of the ocean, lots of guys have done that. The award is for coming back.



You say this typing on a computer, posting to a website, while I answer you in real time from thousands of kilometers away?

I think there has been absolutely amazing technological progress in the last 30 years. Huge swathes of society have been revolutionised by it. Just because it wasn't in a way we expected in the 70s doesn't mean it isn't something to behold with a little humility and wonder.

We largely abandoned areospace and concentrated on cyberspace because it offered more opportunity. But there is no reason areospace couldn't once more take the lead. Some may argue that it is already happening as people who made fortunes in IT are now ploughing those fortunes back into areospace ventures.

Will we ever colonise Mars? I don't know, but it isn't outside the realms of human possibility.


This is a gem, you have got it. I can remember going outside to watch our first satellite Echo, just a giant mylar balloon to bounce signals off. Now I have a dish for TV and a second dish for high speed internet. I never would have thought I'd have that tech on my roof. Downlink maybe but not uplink. I can remember going to a neighbors house to see an actual color tv, it was a Dumont I think. I remember watching the first televised murder, Jack Ruby killing LHO live. Now I live in a little owner built house on my own land, heat with wood and garden and I am totally connected to the whole world 24/7. I remember the advent of instant on. No more waiting for the vacum tubes to heat up, some enterprising engineer came up with the idea to keep the heater strings live at all times, sucking power 24/7, because when I turned it on it had to be right there, imagine having to wait for it to heat up. That's when the cats declared that the tvs were theirs, radiating heat all the time. Everyone got to watch the cat fall off the tv set.

I also remember the taste of tear gas, and the sound a billy club makes hitting your head in Chicago in 68. What a long strange trip it's been.


Stock up on gas masks and helmets, as the tear gas, rubber bullets, and riot clubs break out of the demonstrations and into your neighborhoods.

What happens when demonstrators have decided to buy SWAT riot gear too? Body armor, face masks, and re-breathers? It's amazing how long a SCUBA tank will last at 1 atmosphere.

Once the public wakes up and stops being helpless demonstrators and refuses to be kept in their "Free speech" zones, decides to stand up instead of backing down in the face of tear gas and rubber bullets, I fear that things will get bloody. That's when the riot police will break out the real guns, then all hell will break loose.

I'm scared.

You say this typing on a computer, posting to a website, while I answer you in real time from thousands of kilometers away?

Yes, I most certainly do. The End of Science is real.

To gauge how today's technological marvels stack up against earlier ones, just flick on Nick at Nite and watch any of those family sitcoms from the 1950s. When Ozzie and Harriet made their television debut on Oct. 3, 1952, they didn't have Internet access or a cellphone, but their living conditions were otherwise very close to those of today's middle-class families.

They had indoor plumbing, electric lights, a car, television, telephone, refrigerator, blender, vacuum cleaner, and probably an automatic laundry washer and dryer. If a time machine magically transported the Nelsons to a typical middle-class household in 2000, they would find most of the technologies of ordinary life improved in quality but otherwise familiar.

They'd recognize the telephone and need only a second to realize we now use push buttons instead of rotary dials. They'd recognize the television even if, like most everyone else these days, they'd have trouble programming the VCR. They might be startled by the gas mileage obtained by a modern automobile, but they would have no trouble knowing how to drive one. Picking up the morning newspaper, they might be puzzled by references to AIDS and genetically modified food but would understand references to nuclear power, air conditioning, plastics, jet airplanes, rockets, radar, and even computers.

Yet now suppose that a time machine magically transported Ozzie and Harriet half a century in the opposite direction. As viewers of the PBS series The 1900 House can attest, even middle-class existence at that time was extraordinarily arduous. Without the benefit of penicillin, even a small cut could prove fatal. Life expectancy at birth was but 47.3 years, compared with 68.3 years in 1950. Most doctors lacked any scientific training, and the bottles in their bags contained little more than alcohol and opiates. Lack of refrigeration, poor sanitary conditions, and adulteration meant millions died from spoiled or tainted food, while epidemics of scarlet fever, yellow fever, and smallpox offered constant reminders of life's fragility.

What people don't seem to realize is that it would be FAR EASIER to colonize the ocean floors and build massive amounts of underwater habitations. Compared to what would be involved in colonizing another planet, that would be a piece of cake.

It would also be an incredibly stupid thing to do, and costly beyond imagination - which should give one a clue about what interplanetary colonization would be.

I don't buy the conspiracy theories that American never really went to the moon, but it's amazing that in the 1960's it took 8 years from JFK's speech to Neil Armstrong on the moon, and now 40 years later going to the moon seems impossible. In 2004, Bush made a modest goal of returning someone to the moon by 2020, or twice as long as it took Apollo.

I think with regards to the moon it's been there and done that. space was also apart of the cold war race.

The 'been there, done that' factor set in even before the Apollo program was over. The biggest drag since then, and it's an obvious one, is the launch costs. The Space Shuttle was supposed to address that but it was flawed from the start and the victim of a series of bad compromises.

Gravity is still a hurdle. When I went to engineering school I looked forward to learning all about it. One of my biggest disappointments was the realization that "it is what it is" and though we can measure it and predict what it does, we have virtually no understanding about "why" it works as it does. That knowledge will only come to us through advanced physics and, without short-term payback, nobody wants to invest in that.

When you look at virtually all science fiction they seem to have magically solved the problem, but the reality is we are probably centuries away from understanding it and being able to control it.

Actually, I find that suburban/exurban pattern ridiculously easy to believe.

Consider the 24/7 racket and sleeplessness of high-density housing, with pile-driver "music" pounding away into the wee hours. Consider the enticing windfall profit from holding land in a growing area. Consider the overpowering grayness of dense European cities at any season but high summer.

Most of all, consider the Bubble Wrap Generations, starting with yours, thoroughly trained to pay a million bucks for a penny's worth of "safety" or "precaution". And, hoo boy, is the "city" ever seen as "unsafe". Objective danger matters not, what counts is any perception of even the most minuscule risk.

'We' can't have it both ways. If we're to live in irrational terror of our own shadows, forever cringing in tinfoil hats from "toxins" in every morsel of food, "predators" behind every tree, "cancer" emanating from every cell phone, then anything perceived to entail "risk" is out. Mencken once said, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." The Left has long found this politics congenial to its anti-business agendas, but here, it backfires.

Of course, let's be fair. In the old days, parents were still reluctant to let even teenagers use the bus or train. There were no cell phones available to track them in real time. So they were merely prisoners of a block or three rather than of a cul-de-sac. Where they did run freer, there was real danger, as they are perfectly capable of causing grievous harm, but cannot meaningfully be held responsible.

'Our' real problem is that times have changed - or, rather, 'we' have changed the times, as social change is not merely a weather front that arrives unbidden. Long enough ago, most teens would have been apprentices of some sort, interacting with adults and receiving feedback, too busy to get into more than a moderate amount of trouble. The Bubble Wrap paradigm now dictates that for their own "safety", they must live in rigidly age-segregated idleness, unless they just happen to possess a chauffeur ("soccer mom") plus the skills needed to participate in a manically overscheduled sports program, or they are old enough to slave away at McD's and have a way to get there and back.

Oh, and LOL, the amusing and poorly produced cartoon is so far off about the Moon that it's not even wrong. That Lunar colony will not have a single micron of 'elbow room'. Oppressive Bubble Wrap "safety" regs will ensure that hours upon hours will be needed to check, recheck, and double check the space suit or vehicle prior to going out. In effect, everyone there will be jailed for life in a tiny set of cramped El Cheapo tunnels. It will be even worse than the Antarctic scientific stations, where even now the residents are virtually prisoners.

In the old days, parents were still reluctant to let even teenagers use the bus or train. There were no cell phones available to track them in real time. So they were merely prisoners of a block or three rather than of a cul-de-sac.

IME...that's not true. My parents grew up in the inner city, and rode their bikes and took the bus all over the place. Sometimes my dad didn't even come home at night (his parents didn't notice; they had five other kids). I did the same, though I was supposed to tell my mom where I was going first. (I often didn't bother.)

Friends of mine who were kids in the '50s and '60s talk about how they would go to professional baseball games after school. They'd walk or take the bus, and get in free for the late innings. These days, a lot of parents are hesitant to take their kids (because of the rowdiness), let alone let them go by themselves.

I really think American kids are living in a much smaller world than they did only a few years ago.

Where I grew up it was mixed housing, not the uniform multi-story stuff I tend to associate with "inner city". That might make some difference, as might the size of the city.

Not too many could fail to come home and have it go unnoticed, although there were always the parents who didn't care so long as their kids were out of their hair. In the last year or two of high school there was often a more freedom, but, of course, by that age, it's less of an issue as most of today's cul-de-sac kids are driving anyhow.

Riding bikes was done, but it was problematical. If you rode down the sidewalk "safe" behind the row of parked cars, then you were guaranteed to get nailed sooner or later at a corner or driveway by a turning driver, as you often could not see each other (which is why I cringe at posts here advocating what are in effect sidewalk bike lanes.) If you rode in the street there was no room for error, as East Coast streets are narrow, designed for horses and buggies (which is why I cringe at posts here advocating tightly cramped streets.)

I grew up in the 70s too and you walked or rode bikes, and once you were 10 you rode the bus. Mom never drove us anywhere because Dad took the car to work. Occasionally Mom had to do some shopping and we'd walk to the supermarket and take a car of stuff home, just roll it on home then one of us got to take it back.

This was hardcore suburbia, hardly anyplace had a 2nd floor, and it had been pretty much all built except for our own street which was older, in the 1960s - ugly buildings, lots of concrete, and eyesores like the "overpass" over the highway. And high speed traffic wherever possible, like separating the shopping mall from half of the population. But we walked and biked all over the place, and it was never thought that Mom should have to take someone to the "rec" center or shopping center to go to the Ben Franklin Store or anything. You just went. And as teenagers we'd walk miles, bike miles, and take the bus miles and miles. A teen who had to have their Mom take them places would have had to be missing their legs or something.

Bubble-wrap generation, I like that.

which is why I cringe at posts here advocating tightly cramped streets

28' wide one way (or even two way >:-) streets with parking on both sides and stop signs every couple of blocks make for slow auto traffic and safe (IMO) mixed bicycle-car traffic.

The risks are more on the arterial streets, but one can bicycle and largely avoid those.

Best Hopes for more, and safer bicycling,


28 feet and parking on both sides? Maybe on the Gulf Coast or in California. Up here, we have that thing called winter, routinely disregarded by bike and transit advocates from the subtropics. Winter includes snow, and that means fuhgeddaboudit. The issue is not the bicycling, it's that once the snow narrows a street like that by another two or three feet on each side (the plows never make it all the way to the edge), a fire engine is not going to get in in a timely manner, nor a moving truck at all. You could disallow parking on one side seasonally, but the practical effect is not stellar. Every winter, my city's officials are shocked anew (politicians never learn) that they can post tickets till the cows come home, and yet mass remains conserved - there's simply no means for half the cars to magically disappear come November 15.

I don't know when you grew up, Leanan, but I often feel sorry for today's kids who have to have someone watching them all the time.

I grew up in a small city in the late 40's and early 50's and was an only child. Still I remember in the summer taking off on my bike in the morning and not coming home until supper. I went places my parents had no idea. It was wonderful! Too bad such childhoods have been lost.

Agreed. I was riding my bike downtown when I heard JFK was shot. That would make me just 8 years old. Something my wife would never tolerate with our boys today. I was riding the bus into the city to protest at 15 or 16, and if no bus, hitchhiking. Yes, I'd have to say where I was going and when I should be expected back. No cell phones. In part because my boys now have cell phones, they are totally unable to plan ahead. Because they can't do that, I had to get rid of my cell phone because I refused to runaround town on a whim. Mean Daddy.

cfm in Gray, ME

I grew up in the 50's in inner city Saskatoon and walked alone to kindergarten aged 4, later in the outer suburbs of Melbourne (Aus) in the 60's, I was free to go anywhere provided it was by foot, bike or bus. You only got driven somewhere if you were sick.

Urban living is fine if you are fortunate enough to be in a socioeconomic class where you can insulate yourself from the many social pathologies present in the modern urban environment. But if you are of the working class, or even lower middle class, urban living (in the US at least) is not fun at all.

And the dangers are hardly imaginary or the result of a paranoid mindset. For example, practically all of my wife's uncles, aunts, and cousins once lived in Jersey City, NJ. However, at present, not a single one remains. Classic 'white flight'. After your car has been vandalized for the third time in a month, after your kid got beat up again on his way home from high school, and after your house was robbed while you went away on vacation.... then you finally get the hint and decide to head for the hills. A perfectly rational decision. Even algae have enough brains to move from the dark side of the rock to the sunny side.

Now, the irony is that over the last several decades the downtown section of Jersey City has undergone extensive gentrification and is now a really nice place, with all sorts of upscale stores and restaurants. The problem is that it is now loaded with multi-million-dollar condos and townhouses that are totally out of reach of the working class. If and when TSHTF, the last place I'd want to find myself would be in one of the less desireable sections of a large US city.

I'm not advocating a return to big cities. There is a big difference between Jersey city and the many semi-urban, moderately dense smaller cities all over the US. The ultra-high density patterns of the 19th century exemplified by Jersey City certainly have their drawbacks. But the answer isn't 1 to 5 acre plots for every signle red-blooded american. I live in a city of about 15000 people that despite Wal-Mart still has lots of amenities within walking distance. I average 100 miles a month on my truck, and rarely need to drive more than 3 miles from my home.

Having lived in Jersey City myself, I marvel that anyone would call it "ultra high density." It is kinda lowish density for a city. It's a mucky place, but interesting if you can get into the mixed-up vibe.

Until Americans get this into their head it is a lost cause.

"Semi urban" sounds like "suburban" to me. Maybe more like 1960s suburbs than 1990s suburbs, which (having grown up in a 1960s Los Angeles suburb) is not really what you want to make the Ideal of All Ideals. Trust me on that.

Coached CYO basketball in Jersey City for, like, ten years(P.S.39 and P.S.40). Jersey City is pretty dense for an American city, (240,000 in 13 sq.mi.) but maybe not like Hong Kong!

Lots of whites still live in JC. And blacks. And Filipinos. And Egyptians. And Chinese. And Indians. Etc., etc., etc. By far the most international culture I've ever experienced.

And the downtown area has many restored and beautiful turn of the century buildings.

Oh, absolutely, some places are indeed objectively dangerous. OTOH, sometimes my eyes would glaze over. People from Allentown, PA wouldn't set foot anywhere in Easton, PA. People there wouldn't set foot anywhere in the New Jersey suburbs of NYC. People there wouldn't set foot anywhere on Staten Island. People there or on Long Island wouldn't set foot anywhere in Brooklyn. Of course, nobody would set foot in Harlem, but the measured crime rate was sky high there...

It's the indiscriminate "anywhere" part that can get a little crazy - the mindset that everything is "too dangerous" even well away from big cities in places where crime rates are relatively in hand. Oh, plus the mindset that any physical activity (or even science lab) is "too dangerous", save for selected sports - such as American football, which always gets a free pass although it ought to top the Bubble Wrap Scale.

Nevertheless, as I originally remarked, there are many reasons why many people do not wish to live in the city. I don't think the would-be social engineers on this board, or elsewhere, will easily change that. Of course, getting crime under control in areas that are actually dangerous, instead of forever making excuses for shiftless piggish thugs whose bloated "special" egos encourage them to feel entitled to pillage others, would be a great start. And getting a handle on the incessant racket, another manifestation of piggishness, would help - in a Tokyo restaurant where fifty people are dining, two or three American tourists readily drown everyone else out.

Observe, too, that many who make the most loud-mouthed public proclamations about the wonderfulness of urban life nonetheless choose sheltered or suburban spots in which to raise their own families. Even most of those who do live in the city are very careful about avoiding the dysfunctional public services. For example, city teachers' unions are very strident about such matters, but their members' kids attend private schools.

Consider the 24/7 racket and sleeplessness of high-density housing, with pile-driver "music" pounding away into the wee hours.

You just named the #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 reasons as to why I wanted to move out of an apartment and into a house. QUIET. PEACE AND QUIET. Nothing drives me into a homicidal rage quite like someone making a bunch of racket when I'm trying to sleep, and you get a lot of that in an apartment. If I'm going to live in an apartment and not feel the urge to beat the daylights out of my neighbors, my apartment better be 100% soundproof.

My apartment complex divides tenants into different sections, in order to minimize that problem. The senior citizens are in one section, the single folk in another, the families in yet another. (A lot of this is done simply by the type of apartment in the building. Families tend to want more bedrooms, seniors tend to like ground floor units, etc.)

I am in the family section, and there is some noise. (Kids playing in the afternoons, the occasional Saturday night party. It drove the old man who used to live downstairs crazy; he was one of those old guys who was constantly yelling at the kids to keep quiet. They moved him to the senior section.) The kids and the party music doesn't bother me that much. I find the noise of the lawn mowers and snow blowers far more aggravating.

What really bugs me is cigarette smoke. If there's a smoker downstairs, I can smell it every time he lights up. Luckily, there has rarely been a smoker in the downstairs unit.

We just make "reasonable accommodations" with each other.

I have a tendency to get up quite early, especially if I am calling Europe. I now know how loud to run the TV when I am fixing breakfast & coffee @ 3 AM.

I am informed in advance of any late night parties (Mardi Gras is coming up), etc. Or if someone needs a mid-day nap.

Routinely talking with your neighbors does wonders for urban livability IMHO.

Best Hopes for Comity,


Although the UK is not like the US (yet), there are aspects where the two cultures have diverged (and some where they have converged) which should give some hope for the future.

First, the divergence:

"In the old days, Parents were reluctant to let teenagers use the bus or train." Maybe so in the US, but I spent 9 years travelling to school by train - one of a group of parents would drop half a dozen of us at the railway station, where we made our own way (30 minutes) to the city, and then change to another (8 - 10 minute) line to get to school. If all went well, then someone would pick us up at the end of the day. If it didn't, then we were expected to catch a bus (or, occasionally, walk - only about 3 miles; we didn't do it that often).
At weekends and school holidays, therefore, we didn't think it a big deal to meet up with each other by train or bus. Our parents reckoned that we knew enough not to get lost.

Now the convergence:

I think you have nailed it with the "Bubble Wrap" analogy. In the UK, it seems as though everything is turning into "You can't do that - 'Health and Safety' (or 'Elf and Safety' as it is increasingly parodied - perhaps the backlash will kill off the idiocy once and for all. Perhaps not.)

And the future?

At a recent school parents' evening, a few of the teachers commented favourably on seeing my son cycling to school. Some of the other children's parents even noticed it.

Changes can be made. You just need to set an example. Eventually, others will follow.

As Alan would say, "Best Wishes for a sustainable reality."


Perfect storm on the global horizon

At present, however, signs of growing disorder abound. Climate stability has peaked and is becoming unstable, as global warming creates chaotic weather patterns. Humanity's ecological footprint now surpasses the carrying capacity of the globe by more than 20 per cent.

Global production of grain peaked around 1985. Natural gas production in North America peaked long ago. Global production of conventional oil has probably peaked, or is about to.

The Genuine Progress Indicator peaked around 1980 and has been declining slowly since then. Fresh water availability has probably peaked. By 2002, some 75 per cent of the world's oceans were fished out or were being exploited beyond capacity. In nature, populations of all species has dropped, on average, by a third since 1970.

Among the world's large water bodies, there are 61 major dead zones. And up to two-thirds of the world's forests are gone – half of that amount has disappeared since 1950. Concurrently, poverty has remained in epidemic proportions and the gap between rich and poor has widened dramatically.

What's at the root of all this muddle? In Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, Donella and Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers say there are two driving forces: population growth and the belief in exponential growth.

Definitely a good read. The general awareness has started.

Re: The Reuters Story on Declining Refinery Utilization (= abundant crude)

Again, let's assume a geometric increase in prices for gasoline/diesel: $2, $4, $8, $16. . .

At each doubling, wouldn't demand--i.e., what people want to buy and what they are capable of buying--decrease?

So, as demand for refined products falls, what happens to the refinery utilization rate?

This would of course normally cause crude oil prices to fall, and there is certainly an upward limit on crude prices, but my fundamental assumption is that world net oil exports are in decline, led by the top five decline. So, IMO we are going to see a series of auctions for declining net oil exports. Before too long, I expect this cycle to cause more inefficient refineries in importing countries to start shutting down for good.

I agree. Refinery closures are coming. Consumers will continue getting a break on gasoline prices (keeping oil demand higher than it would otherwise have been) until we've gone through this process.

But, the U.S. doesn't have enough refining capacity as it is. The question is, will the exporters be able to put gasoline into the U.S. for cheaper than we can refine it here? That will determine who shuts down.

And I don't disagree with the premise. Look at Valero's earnings above. They are not integrated, so lower margins hit them hard (while integrateds made record profits on the back of high oil prices). Over the short term, they won't run quite as hard. Over the longer term, they won't invest in refining capacity. Either way, supply has to tighten up.

Really poor people just don't buy gas. Or buy as little as they can get away with.

Assuming you've got your little Hooverville shack, you can live on $10 a day. I'd love to make $10 a day right now. I think very very carefully about going the 60 miles round trip into town, since that's a gallon of gas in my bike, which is about $3 right now.

Yeah gas may come way down in the US, and still become relatively less affordable. It's called a Depression.

But look what happened to BP. Surely they're integrated?:

BP's Global Refining Margins Sink Almost Four-Fold on High Oil

All of the oil companies showed sharply lower refining margins. But those that produce oil made up for that with sharply higher oil prices. Valero doesn't have oil production to fall back on, so their overall profits were down.

Okay, my mistake. I thought you were implying that integrated oil cos could leverage their feedstock into higher margins on refining, which obviously is not the case for BP.


Which begs the question: what advantage is there in being an intergrated oil these days?

You are seeing it, with the profit story of Valero versus ConocoPhillips, for instance. COP also had poor margins, but outstanding earnings due to the high oil price. The integrateds can benefit from higher oil prices when margins are low. The refiners are at the mercy of margins.

Isn't this sort of what the economists mean by simply dismissing the problem of peak oil? With every increase in cost there will be a decline in demand, until some new steady state is reached. There will always be plenty of oil to serve the existing demand.

The only catch is hiding the destitute populations who no longer are in a position to demand anything -- but that's not an economic or an engineering or even a geological problem -- that's a perceptual problem. It's the job of the media to hide the suffering. So far, it appears that they are very competent in this regard.

That's what's ironic about the Reuters article; there is adequate oil for sale at $90 for light, sweet (more than twice the previous nominal high crude oil price in 1980). But how much light, sweet is for sale at $45?

So far, we are seeing a demand response, i.e., reduced demand through forced conservation, but we are not seeing a positive supply response, i.e., increasing net oil exports year over year.

If nothing else, if you do accept the Peak Oil/Peak Export premise, this at least gives you an opportunity to unload highly energy dependent assets, e.g., rapidly depreciating suburban homes, on the true believers in the Yerginite Community.

WT - were the US refineries that closed in the 90s shut down for good, or just mothballed?

Listened to Bradford's interview with you (available at GPM) yesterday - good show! Going through all of Jason's stuff at the moment.

A couple of points to add to westexas's.

Demand is never really "destroyed." It's lurking there ready to spring back to life should prices ever drop, and thus keeps prices high.

The only way prices can fall from demand destruction is if the demand destruction arises from increases in efficiency. Unfortunately, the recent increase in oil prices tells us that we are not getting more efficient (or at least not fast enough)--we're just losing the bidding war. And the reason we in the U.S. are losing the bidding war is specifically because we're less efficient than other bidders in our use of oil.

Also, there is an economic cost when people lose out in the bidding for oil. The losers in the bidding war lose the productivity they had formerly gained from burning oil, and our entire economy suffers as a result. Even if the usage was inefficient, the loss of the usage is a huge economic problem. Depending on which EIA statistics you believe, the U.S. may have consumed less oil in 2007 than in 2006. If that's true, that represents "destroyed demand" due to higher prices. But it also means our economy lost the value we had formerly gained from that oil use. It's this decline in usage that is causing our economy to contract.

So, peak oil is a tremendous economic problem. Killing consumption through forced conservation arising from higher prices is not the same thing for the economy as increasing efficiency. We need to increase efficiency, and it's a question whether we can increase efficiency fast enough to overcome the oil production decline rate arising from Peak Oil.

Big leaky hot air balloon gas valve on full, Rocky Mountains in sight. Patch and mend ? chuck out Ballast?...Me Tarzan! You ballast!

Demand is never really "destroyed." It's lurking there ready to spring back to life should prices ever drop, and thus keeps prices high.

That is not always true. If, because of high gasoline prices, a person trades in their car on a PHEV, then they are not very likely to trade the PHEV back for a conventional car if gas prices go down, are they?

If someone has brought their job and residence into closer proximity to cut their commute, they are not going to change jobs or houses just because the price of gas goes down.

Many of the changes that people make to adjust to higher energy prices might be theoretically reversible, but they are not very likely to be reversed.

they are not very likely to trade the PHEV back for a conventional car if gas prices go down, are they?

we might not even be ABLE to purchase a conventional car in the future because they just don't make them anymore. new cars in 10 years may all be electric. sometimes I think we won't even care about peak oil in 25 years as oil will already be out of our economy.

does anyone use whale oil anymore for lighting? I don't. I didn't even know they used it back in the day. how people do you think know we used whale oil for lighting?

sometimes I think we won't even care about peak oil in 25 years as oil will already be out of our economy.

And how does the plastics, solvents, pharmacuticals, paints, tires, lubricants and all other sorts of things keep getting made without the oil?

As you've told us, you've sometimes thought on the subject, so why not enlighten us?

(I'll let someone else tackle the whale oil comment)

And how does the plastics, solvents, pharmacuticals, paints, tires, lubricants and all other sorts of things keep getting made without the oil?

we won't have oil in 25 years? news to me? I did not say that.

no, what I was saying is that we will have found alternatives and greater efficiencies so oil won't really matter. we won't even talk about peak oil. PHEVS and EVs could eventually cut our oil demand big time. 50% of oil is used in transportation. we don't need to use oil in our cars. other oil usage will be much more efficient and no more demand from cars means more oil for plastics and etc. very little oil is used in manufacturing compared to transportation.


The first plastic - bakelite - was made without oil or its derivatives. Bakelite is made from phenol (carbolic acid, which can be produced from coal), formaldehyde (which can be produced from methanol - wood alcohol), and sawdust.




I think people here are probably a bit more progressive than most. I've heard plenty of comments from people where I live (Arkansas) that they won't buy any kind of hybrid until they've "proven" themselves. Wait, you mean the 9 years we've had them hasn't been long enough for them to prove themselves? Luddites...

Yes as an ex-Prius owner I can say Joe Six Pack is still waiting for the hybrids to "prove" themselves.

Here's how this works. To me, Tide laundry soap is "proven". Why? Because that's what Mom used. It took me a long time to get over my fixation on what I knew was "proven" and just get whatever's on sale.

And for the average broke American, it makes more sense to get an older car that's fairly good on gas, that's all paid for.

After a certain time I'm going to expect to see "Pretty Dyana's" on the US roads more than hybrids, outside of the few affluent areas.

To be fair, the past thirty years of consumer electronics have repeatedly taught people that products early in their product line are either replaced by significantly better ones in a couple of years, or even "standards" are replaced by incompatible ones leaving early buyers stranded. To me the real question is whether there's a strong reason to believe that PHEV/EV's will improve dramatically beyond their current efficiency.

Durandal- four years ago my friend who is a huge car guy said hybrids would never catch hold because the premium wasn't worth the savings on gas. how times have changed and quickly.

The Blue Whale is a Red Herring, John.

The whales that survived were almost certainly spared from extinction because Geological Oil, in its overwhelming abundance. Along with coal, Petroleum made the transition away from whale-oil the non-issue that it was, unless you were working as a Whaler.

The issue is this next transition, and how we can manage any of it to avoid as much chaos and pain as possible.

The Blue Whale is a Red Herring, John.

The whales that survived were almost certainly spared from extinction because Geological Oil, in its overwhelming abundance. Along with coal, Petroleum made the transition away from whale-oil the non-issue that it was, unless you were working as a Whaler.

The issue is this next transition, and how we can manage any of it to avoid as much chaos and pain as possible.

my understanding is that we went from whale oil to kerosene and then to electricity. I'm sure if the internet were around then there would have been peak whale oil doomers who said our way of life had adjusted to cheap lighting and we would all be in the dark after an economic collapse. they of course probably didn't see the light bulb being invented, which replaced kerosene which had replaced whale oil . even if they did I imagine they said we had to create all this new infrastructure and power plants. where would we get the money during the peak whale oil depression? the light bulb I understand made kerosene useless until airplanes came a long, btw.

most doomers now don't seem to think electricity will be the new alternative fuel.

Maybe because electricity isn't a fuel.

oh sorry. electricity is the alternative energy that will replace gasoline.

"If, because of high gasoline prices, a person trades in their car on a PHEV, then they are not very likely to trade the PHEV back for a conventional car if gas prices go down, are they?"

No, but the trade-in sitting on the used car lot is now more desirable for the next buyer and the (non-existant) PHEV less desirable.

"If someone has brought their job and residence into closer proximity to cut their commute, they are not going to change jobs or houses just because the price of gas goes down."

No, but they are more likely to purchase more fuel for x,y, or z reason, like a trip to grandma's or whatever.

A proposal I think we can all get behind:


Should You Pay More for the 'Privilege' of Driving a Gas-Guzzler?

A new bill under consideration by California's State Legislature would require citizens to pony up for the right to drive one of innumerable gas-guzzling vehicles helping to clog up the state's airways. As reported on by the Los Angeles Times' Margot Roosevelt, the California Clean Car Discount Act (AB 493) - which could become the nation's first "feebate" law if enacted - would impose fees or grant rebates based on a vehicle's emissions production:"One-time registration fees of up to $2,500 would be levied on new gas guzzlers, such as Hummers, Dodge Vipers and Chevy Tahoes. Some cleaner sport utility vehicles, pickups and minivans would be exempt from any charge, while the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and other fuel-efficient cars would get hefty rebates."

An easy solution, in my book, is to have your yearly plate renewal fees based upon Gross Vehicle Weight. That won't necessarily cut down on "gas guzzlers" but the weight of a vehicle makes a big difference in how much damage it causes the road as it drives over it.

I remember back in the late 60s and early 70s yearly license fees were based on vehicle weight. When average car weights dropped fees were based on value of the car since newer lighter cars were more expensive than old gas guzzlers.

Oh, I would love to pass a big SUV in my Prius knowing the owner helped me buy my Prius. I just wish they would make this occur every year to keep reminding people over and over again the folly or the wisdom of their respective purchases. Schadenfreude? Yeh,sure.

You make a good point. The pain should be at the renewal of tags, not at the purchase. The reasoning is that if it's only at the purchase, they want to hold onto the vehicle to "get their money's worth."

Gold and Oil hit all time highs.

"Also note that latest data shows the broad supply of money in the U.S. — formerly known as the M-3 Money Supply — is growing at an annual rate of more than 34%. That's super inflationary!"



This is kinda crazy.....

1 Billion dollar for the first person to solve these problems:

To the first person(s) that solves any of these Problems:

1. Develop a cure for breast cancer.
2. Develop a cure for diabetes.
3. Reduce greenhouse emissions from petroleum powered automobiles by 95% without increasing the cost of a normal car more than 5%.
4. Achieve 150 miles per gallon of gasoline in a 3,000 lb. car, using EPA standards; without increasing the cost of a normal car more than 10%.

#3: Reduce driving by 95%

OK, where's my $1 billion?

Yah. Interesting demands, I 'need' a 1.5 ton car? And the improved mpg isn't going to be worth investing >10% additional for it?..

5. Eat cake and have it too.

eh in all fairness 3,500 pounds is not a gigantic car at all. Something between a Toyota Yaris and Corolla.

It's a Ford Taurus.

ahhh thanks, I suppose a Corolla is 2,500 pounds not 3,500.

Or a Toyota Avalon. The Yaris & Corolla are almost identical at ~2400 pounds.

My 2000 Honda Civic is ~2600 pounds.
My 1985 Honda Civic CRX is ~1800 pounds.
But for your example...

A Corolla is ~2500 pounds.
A Yaris is ~2300 pounds.

True True, I corrected it above. Well I guess a good point is if someone created a 150mpg 3000lb car, then a 1500 pound car would approach 200mpg using the same technology. :)

Look at this one:


Small, but will get you to that non-discretionary job

74 miles to the gallon of diesel.

Sure, 1.5 tons isn't huge.. it just seems like an arbitrary condition to set.


#2 Eat your vegetable and quit loading up on twinkies, french fries, and big macs.

Actually, I suspect the answer is going to turn out to be "don't eat refined carbs." The Big Mac is fine, but don't eat the bun.

And of course, we don't know if they're talking about Type 1, Type 2, or both.

Big Mac® Bun:
Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, soybean oil, canola oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of each of the following: sesame seed, salt, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium chloride, calcium carbonate, baking soda, soy flour, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: distilled monoglycerides, DATEM, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, enzymes, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, guar gum, mono-and diglycerides, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate & sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin. CONTAINS: WHEAT AND SOY


My homemade whole wheat bread:

Whole wheat flour, white bread flour, vegetable oil, honey, salt, yeast

The situation in China is worrying. A few days ago, there was the report that many Chinese power plants had critically low amounts of coal on hand to generate power, and that the railroads were struggling to keep up with demand. Now there is this snowstorm that has snarled all forms of transportation, which imples that supplies at these power plants will be drawn down even further...

The excerpt from "Atlas Shrugged" that always comes to mind (I know, Ayn Rand was an energy cornucopian):

"Account Overdrawn," from "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand:

Winter had come early, in the last days of November. People said that it was the hardest winter on record and that no one could be blamed for the unusual severity of the snowstorm. They did not care to remember that there had been a time when snowstorms did not sweep, unresisted, down unlighted roads, and upon the roofs of unheated houses, did not stop the movement of trains, did not leave behind a wake of corpses counted in the hundreds.

Rand's drivel is rather a non sequitur in this context. The snowstorms in China are a real anomaly and not some evidence of totalitarian history obliteration. In fact, global warming will be leading to more events of snow in Bagdad and freezing temperatures farther south than before. The energy of the storm tracks is increasing thanks to the enhanced available potential energy to the baroclinic instabilities (eddies) that shape them. Warm air gets farther north and cold air gets farther south compared to the more zonal low-energy regime.

Thanks for this. Was wondering WTF.

Baroclinity Wiki Entry

Currently Freezing my arse off in Southern Alberta right now. I haven't seen temps like this around here for what seems like 20 years.

Wunderground Calgary

Here in Ottawa we're expecting rain. January 29th!! Usually the coldest time of the year. Crazy.

Of course, one could take the excerpt (admittedly taken out of context in the novel) as a good example of what happens when we encounter a hard winter with contracting energy supplies.

Atlas Shrugged 2: One Hour Later (Bob the Angry Flower)

Travellers describe China chaos

It is estimated that 500,000 people are stranded in the southern city of Guangzhou as they wait for train services to resume. Paul Surtees was among the crowds on Monday.

"The railway stations in Guangzhou are a scene of horror, with countless thousands of desperate and freezing people besieging them."

It is funny in that I think of Guangzhou as being far enough south that you wouldn't get any freezing people. The climate reminded me of Florida, I guess (of course Florida gets freezing weather from time to time too, so perhaps it shouldn't be that much of a surprise).


Temperatures have plummeted to -43C, and snow is blanketing large parts of Xinjiang province.

Almost 100,000 people have been evacuated after their homes collapsed under heavy snow.

About 60cm (two feet) of snow is covering parts of Xinjiang, according to Wang Zhenyao, a disaster relief official with the civil affairs ministry.

Xinjiang is up in the far northwest corner of the country, but still. -43C is cold no matter where you are.

Reading between the lines, the real problems are north of Guangzhou in Zhengzhou which is a sort of central rail hub kind of like how Chicago used to be.


Traffic on the Beijing-Guangzhou line likely won't be normalized within the next three to five days as snow is persisting in central China, Guangdong railway authorities said.

In Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province, the accumulated snow reached a record 36 centimeters. About 250,000 people went out to clear the snow on Monday, answering a government call made on Sunday.

In the industrial city of Wuhan, in central China, 56 energy-intensive enterprises were required to cut power consumption. It is expected that 240,000 kw of electricity would be saved in that way to meet the power demand of 120,000 households. Further power control measures could be imposed if necessary.

The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) issued a red alert early on Monday for severe snowstorms in the central and eastern parts of the country.

According to the forecast, heavy snow is set to blanket northern Hunan, eastern Hubei, southeastern Henan and northwestern Zhejiang, as well as most areas of Anhui and Jiangsu provinces on Monday.

In addition, freezing rain will pound some parts of Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Anhui and Zhejiang.

The CMA warned local governments and departments to prepare for the coming bad weather. Transport, railway, electricity and communication departments were advised to prepare post-snow clean-ups, while suggesting citizens in these areas should avoid unnecessary outdoor activities.

This is happening during the largest travel holiday in China, when many/most migrant workers make their once or twice a year return to "home".

As the migrant population has grown, the crush has gotten worse. Trains are standing room only, with the most crowded resembling the 2nd Avenue subway at rush hour for most of the day. Vendors sell adult diapers.

Now add weather related disruption to this.

Best Hopes for the weather improving !


About 128 million individual train journeys and 22 million individual flight journeys.

Now what was that about the Kyoto protocol?

The rail is quickly moving to electrification in China. Now just generate the electricity from non-GHG sources.

But even from coal fired sources, the efficiency of standing room only electrified rail travel is high enough to have modest per capita GHG impact.

Best Hopes for less air travel in the PRC,


I have been told by experts that different nations have different ways of stringing electrified wire for railroads (guy claimed he could ID by nation from photos of electrified rail Japanese vs. Russian vs. Swiss vs. Swedish vs. Indian by stereotyped methods). The Chinese may have chosen the "quick & cheap" method since they have had some problems in this storm. Meanwhile the Russians operate the Trans-Siberian north of China w/o significant problems.

There is an excellent WSJ story about the China storm situation story today. The story is titled "China Hits Winter-Storm Snags; Snow, Freezing Weather Slow Food, Fuel Delivery In a Strained Economy" by Gordon Fairclough.

Severe winter storms, which have hit much of China with snow and freezing temperatures, are threatening a national economy already strained by energy shortages and mounting inflation.
The government called for emergency cuts in energy supplies to manufacturing industries to ensure there was enough power to warm homes and keep hospitals, railways, broadcasters and financial system operating. China's decisions could have ripple effects across the world. Many aluminum makers, whose smelters require a lot of electricity, have shut down production in storm-affected areas.
China's move Friday to suspend coal exports-in an effort to speed supplies to domestic power producers, whose inventories have fallen to potentially dangerous levels-has also jolted world coal markets.
Even if the storm ends over the next few days, their impact may reverberate for some time as the nation also contends with coal and power shortages. In an effort to ease shortages, the government has given priority to food and coal transportation.

Anyway, I wish I could quote the whole article, because there are many sentences related to what we talk about here everyday.

It's here.

Behind a paywall, but you can get in free through Google News.

China's move Friday to suspend coal exports. . .

Notice the increasing number of stories about countries stopping energy exports in order to meet internal demand? And we are seeing a similar pattern regarding food supplies.

As I noted on Stuart's thread, Iran, faced with a NG supply/demand imbalance, did not offer to join hands and sing the local version of "Kumbaya" while offering to share their NG. They immediately stopped NG exports to Turkey--and Turkey stopped NG exports to Greece.

Of course, what is ironic about China's move to stop coal exports is that they are highly dependent on imported crude oil.

Westexas, I quoted that line "just for you". Checking whether you were awake or not. :)
Just think if China's economy starts sinking--can you imagine how price of goods inflation would impact us? As well as shortages of their formerly cheap goods which we take for granted? (I'm talking Vitamin C, not inflatable snowmen.)


In a study published in the journal Epidemiology, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day — whether artificially sweetened or regular — was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease.

My ex's step-father got a kidney transplant, which was the result of drinking Coca-cola in massive amounts on a daily basis.

Now, what does he do? The same thing. They should take those kidneys out and give them to someone who won't abuse them.

Thanks for posting that - I've still got one of those things left, so I this will help to "focus the mind" on my present efforts to quit cola.

What, one kidney left?

I had a friend develop pancreatitus, which as he puts it on his web page, "Normally only career alcoholics get". and still apparently has made no connection between his disease and his lifetime habit of heavy soda consumption.

Yup - the other was removed by a Buick. I recommend other methods.

Quitting soda was NOT easy. It's so banal an addiction, it's hard to convince yourself it's even worth the trouble.

FWIW, I decided two or three things for my quitting plan.. also did this with candy bars.

1)Don't have Soda at Meals
2)Only have it at the Movies
3)Find a Substitute if possible. (For me it was Snapple, initially, tho' now it's black Coffee. Is that better or worse? No processed Sugars or Carbonation, at least.)

These were helpful ways to focus the effort, so I could pare away particular times when I knew it was being overused, then I could leave a 'special' situation where I could still enjoy a 'bit' of it, and that I had a sub- to fill it's place, so I'm not just faced with a nagging void.

If you're on DIET soda, all I can say is PLEAAAASE get off it..


Seltzer water is a good way to get the refreshing fizz without any of the other junk. I know that the pH is <7.0, I don't know how good that is for you, but it can't be as bad as any reg or diet soft drink.

Yeah seltzer water is good, expensive but still cheaper than soda. I used to like Gerolsteiner, tasted just faintly of German tourists lol. Of course the stuff is shipped so far, probably better to just have Schweppes or something. And at any bar or soda fountain you can ask for plain fizzy.

I do drink soda, but only when I'm developing a sore throat, or have a full on cold, the rest of the time I don't touch it. I can't think of what's addictive in it other than caffeine.

I gave up on soda about two years ago. Used to drink diet pepsi, thinking zero cals, this is great! Then started to read about aspartame. I drink OJ or water now, or skim milk.

Gun Powder Green Tea, iced, no sugar.
Never liked sugar, maybe missed that survival gene.
Soda is death, as is lot's of fruit juice.
If you are looking for longevity, the number one thing is correct blood sugar.
Of course, other factors may make every calorie you can get into your body important.

Try a fresh lemon cut up in a half-gallon of filtered water in the fridge and left to sit, no sweetener. I got hooked on this as a beverage when refitting a large hot steel ship in the summer sun years ago, it's not bad.

I quit it completely once before, but fell off the wagon by allowing myself one can a day - which sometimes became more than that. It will not be a big deal now that I have a little more motivation, as I hate supporting Coke anyway. We generally are quite food conscious and try to eat healthy, so this Coke thing is actually an anomaly for me and it's about damn time to correct it. Part of the problem is that unless I pack all my food, which sometimes does not happen given the realities of life, it can be damn hard to eat well when I'm at work.

Have you noticed how BIG all the bottles are in the convenience stores? 20oz is the smallest, and no 12oz cans to be found. And I never touch diet anything - I have no need to and I try to avoid poison!

I just went to orange juice (1 gallon, 3.6 l (?)/6 days) plus a bit of apple juice and occasional other fruit juices for variety. Still addicted, but it is healthier now. A fair amount of fructose in my diet.

Best Hopes for Healthier Addictions,


Quitting cola isn't so hard (in retrospect). Some years ago, my wife and I were drinking close to one 2 ltr (64 fl oz) bottle of Pepsi Max per day. Sometimes more.

Fast forward a few years, and a general desire to cut down on caffeine and artificial sweeteners, and cola is now a "once a week" treat. Sometimes less. (And it's always the non-diet version - sugar may rot the teeth, but it's probably still less long-term harmful than the artificial sweeteners could be. At least, in the UK, we don't, generally, get high-fructose corn syrup substituted for sugar).

Steel yourself to succeed for the first week or so, and it soon becomes second nature.


I had a bit of bleeding from the place where my esophagus and stomach meet back in my twenties that required surgery. The doctor listed a dozen things I couldn't have any more and caffeine was one of them - which put an end to my quart of Mountain Dew/day habit. Fifteen years on I don't think I could touch the stuff - I'll buy a Lipton iced tea if I'm on the road, but I prefer Honest Tea with 1/4th the caffeine, and at home I have a flavor of the day herbal tea quarter jar that I start in the morning ...

That whole consumption thing is highly overrated ... and not owning a TV trumps many of these other health suggestions :-)

Unfortunately the story does the usual journalist thing of stating a "two-fold increase in risk" without specifying the underlying risk rate of kidney disease (is it in general 1 in 1000 or 1 in 1000000?) This the important information if you have lots of potential issues to tackle: should I try and deal with cola consumption or sugar or caffeine or vegetables (as I don't have the willpower to do all at once).

On BNN this morning they interviewed a market analyst in the UK about oil and the possible US recession. His take was that there would not be very much demand destruction over all if at all, for oil globally. He pointed out that China was consuming whatever the US doesn't in oil (he also noted that China is no longer an exporter of coal, but now a net importer). As long as the Chinese economy grows at double digit values there won't be a drop in demand for oil.

They also interviewed a natural gas representative. Some interesting info. They expect more drilling next year as inventories are dropping faster than expected, and that prices should soon start to "recover" (go up). This will spark investment for more drilling which has started (on the assumption they will find more gas of course). They also noted that LPG imports into the US was way below expectations.

There has been a plague of small gas wells in Northwest Arkansas popping up, thanks to the shale in the area. There have been numerous articles regarding the topic. I describe them as a plague, as they are noisy, and blights in otherwise pristine forest land.

I recommend that you take action by refusing to use natural gas, any refined petroleum product and electricity.

I'm working on it. It takes time to seperate one's self from humanity without freezing in the winter. You know, securing land that you can build a small home on that is out of city limits so you don't have to build a McMansion (For some reason, 600 sq ft is too small) and heating it with wood from the land that you own and such. In the mean-time, I attempt to buy only organic food, drive as little as possible, keep the heat in my house as low as my room-mates will tolerate, etc, etc.

Of course, so many people proclaim that just because I'm not living in a cave eating nuts and berries that I'm a hypocrite by not "doing enough."

BTW, I thought I smelled some sarconol, so I didn't take offense.

That's very difficult to accomplish immediately, but one way or the other, it IS the only way to go.

westexas - Thanks for the great post which gave me the funniest moment of the day. I could not have said it any better.

They also noted that LPG imports into the US was way below expectations.

Did they say why? Was it because we needed less (lower demand) or because less was available (lower supply)?

National Bank boosts gold target to US$1,500

National Bank Financial has boosted its target on the price of gold to US$1,500 within the next 12 to 18 months as bullion reasserts its status as a safe haven in troubled times.

From the Trickle-down Economics For Oil" department.....

L.A. Times: Fuel fees pump up airfares.

Surcharges are almost half the price of some international tickets.

Flying to Tokyo this spring? United Airlines last week offered a round-trip flight for as little as $400 -- plus $300 in fuel charges.

With oil prices high, fuel surcharges on many international flights have climbed in recent months to nearly half the price of a ticket. U.S. visitors to Spain can expect to pay up to $390 in fuel surcharges for a round-trip flight.

Full story at: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-airfares29jan29,0,5847646.story

The most distant future crude oil contract (currently december 2016) hit an all time high yesterday.


And, I suspect it will again today.

What does that mean? Why now?

The contract traded is for delivery of 1000 barrels of crude in December 2016. As far as I know, that is as far into the future as those contracts go.

Today it traded for as high as $91.29

That's good indication that the market expects things to be tight 9 years hence.

Why now precisely? Dunno. In general the recent sell-off did not affect distant futures. That's why the Fed focuses on them. They are not nearly as noisy wrt day-to-day events.

Cold snap closes Syncrude


"Syncrude Canada has suspended production at its 350,000 barrel-per-day oil sands project after instruments began freezing up due to a bitter cold snap in northern Alberta...It will take several days to restore normal operations"

Man...seems quiet around here...no one has commented on this yet?

I will...wow...that can't be good when instruments freeze up. Production offline for any reason is not good anymore.

McCain and Clinton CNN central tonite.

Ace, when can we have an update on your forecast?

Hey ace!
Where ya been?
Working on anything?

Tonite on Independent lens they are showing a snow-bound part of China.

They pan to the school, pointing out how its the biggest building there. After telling how there are only 3 stores in town.

How are the students dressed in the classroom?

Parkas. Most of 'em were nylon outer layer, puffy type.

(Imagine a US school district where the students inside the classroom in winter clothing would be acceptable)

The translation on the screen:
The search for oil always goes on

Wait a sec - If a bank has negative reserves, does that not violate the 'rules' of a fractional reserve system?


According to the latest biweekly numbers released last Thursday by the Federal Reserve, for the two weeks that ended January 16th American banks had negative $1.3 billion in non-borrowed reserves. This is, historically, extremely unusual; just two months ago they had $30 billion (positive, of course) in non-borrowed reserves. The only reason some banks haven't been shut due to insufficient -- negative! -- reserve requirements is that the Federal Reserve is currently loaning them enough money through the brand new TAF (Term Auction Facility) program (also running in Canada and Europe) to make up their shortfalls.