DrumBeat: March 29, 2008

'Cheap' $100 Oil Not Going to Curb Demand--Nor Our Energy Dependence (Simmons)

Dubai: While the world frets over rising oil prices, Matthew Simmons, chairman of Simmons and Company International, a US-based investment banking firm, says oil at $100-plus per barrel is "cheap."

The gap between world oil production and demand will keep growing and America's dependence on Middle East oil will continue, he told Gulf News.

Sydney Goes Dark for Earth Hour

A lightning show was the brightest part of Sydney's skyline during Earth Hour, which began at 8 p.m. when the lights were turned off at the city's landmarks. Most businesses and homes were already dark as Sydney residents embraced their second annual Earth Hour with candlelight dinners, beach bonfires and even a green-powered outdoor movie.

Another story about food exporters restricting food exports--causing a rapid rise in food prices, as food importers bid against each other for tight supplies:

High Rice Cost Creating Fears of Asia Unrest
Published: March 29, 2008

HANOI — Rising prices and a growing fear of scarcity have prompted some of the world’s largest rice producers to announce drastic limits on the amount of rice they export. The price of rice, a staple in the diets of nearly half the world’s population, has almost doubled on international markets in the last three months. That has pinched the budgets of millions of poor Asians and raised fears of civil unrest.

Shortages and high prices for all kinds of food have caused tensions and even violence around the world in recent months. Since January, thousands of troops have been deployed in Pakistan to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour. Protests have erupted in Indonesia over soybean shortages, and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs. Food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. But the moves by rice-exporting nations over the last two days — meant to ensure scarce supplies will meet domestic needs — drove prices on the world market even higher this week.

UBS Lowers 
Price of Security 
Seen as 'Cash'
Some Face Paper Losses Of More Than 20% On Auction-Rate Bonds
March 29, 2008; Page B1

One of the world's biggest brokers is about to force its clients to take a haircut on a type of securities that investors had believed to be as safe as cash. UBS AG began on Friday to lower the values of so-called auction-rate securities held by its clients, a move that will be a jolt to customers who had been told they were investing in a "cash alternative." The move is yet another way that the credit crunch that began with subprime mortgages has spread to unexpected places and upended conventional wisdom about the financial system.

The Swiss bank appears to be the first major firm to take this action and is expected to inform clients via their online statements shortly. The markdowns, which will be made using an internal computer model, will range from a few percentage points to more than 20%, a UBS broker said. . . Until now, brokers have told customers who were unable to sell securities in regularly scheduled auctions that the securities retained full value. UBS confirmed that it will mark down the value of the securities, giving clients paper losses on their holdings. UBS isn't offering to buy the securities at the new prices. Beginning in April, UBS will classify the securities as fixed income. . .

Jim Willie and Mike Whitney, Elaine Supkis and Michael Nystrrom are ahead of the curve.

But the "leading edge" is also the "bleeding edge", so be careful, eh?

The US Gov't and it's Banking System are insolvent and in gridlock.

We need $2 Trillion by MayDay. $8 Trillion by August. In cash.

"Viewed from this perspective, what is the Fed's ultimate goal? As Grant correctly points out, savers are being decimated by the Fed's policy of low interest rates, high inflation and a weak dollar. But a nation's savings forms the necessary capital base for productive future investment. Capital investment is required for healthy, long term economic growth.

Asked in a different way, why is the Fed intent on destroying the US economy? "


"It’s crucial to understand that the problem with our society’s reliance on petroleum is not simply that petroleum will become scarce in the future, and will have to be replaced by less concentrated or less abundant fuels. It’s that a huge proportion of industrial society’s capital plant – the collection of tools, artifacts, trained personnel, social structures, information resources, and human geography that provide the productive basis for society – was designed and built to use petroleum-derived fuels, and only petroleum-derived fuels. Converting that capital plant to anything else involves much more than just providing another energy source.

Unless that new source can be used just like petroleum, the petroleum-powered machines we use today will have to be replaced by machines using the new energy source. Furthermore, unless the new energy source can be distributed through existing channels – whether that amounts to the pipelines and tanker trucks used to transport petroleum fuels today, or some other established infrastructure, such as the electric power grid – a new distribution infrastructure will have to be built.


An addendum to the ELM should factor in the rate exports to the U.S. fall when no one accepts our currency anymore.

the ELM should factor in the rate exports to the U.S. fall when no one accepts our currency anymore.

There are several adverse effects originating in Import Land that need to be considered.

Also the ELM should factor in the implications of the 'net energy' of energy alternatives produced in the Import Land.

'Plain Vanilla' ELM is bad enough, with the add-ons 'Net Exports' decline rate can be expected to be somewhat worse!

There's likely to be several 'Liebig minimums' we haven't even considered - yet.

Although "they" may not accept our currency, they will likely demand payment in grain.

I would if I was "them". In a heartbeat.

hardhast, you're forgetting that your [USA's] excess grains will be used to produce a trickle of biofuels!

John Michael Greer is the author of your second quote.

I don't think people understand the importance of the built infrastructure. This is what everyone owns today - the factories and semi-trucks businesses own; the airplanes that airlines own; and the cars both businesses and individuals own.

If the fuel made for this equipment to run disappears, and is not replaced by another fuel that is equivalent, then there is a huge write-off. There is a significant chance of default on most of the debt used to buy this equipment. Businesses had expected to amortize the cost of this equipment over many years. They are likely to find that the equipment is essentially worthless much before its useful life is over. This will cause a huge drop in the net worth of companies.

If, through invention, it becomes possible to buy some new technology (like battery operated cars), car owners will find that their current equipment (cars) has only junk value as trade in. Lenders will have been burned recently, by all the defaults with respect to the old equipment. There is a good chance that the only way the new equipment can be financed is with accumulated savings. This is likely to be a very slow process, if the old equipment can no longer be used for its intended purpose, because of lack of fuel.

That quote by Greer is excellent and spot on. Thats the problem with EROI analysis - it doesnt go far enough. Not only to we need high energy gain to continue our current trajectory, but we need this energy gain TO COME IN THE SAME FORM THAT IT HAS BEEN, namely liquid fuels. If global EROI of oil is around 19:1 (so says Charlie Hall), and declining quickly, I would argue we need a 30:1 gain with equivalent scale in order to transition the infrastructure into something that can use renewables. So we need both high EROI technologies AND enough additional energy surplus (over and above what we need to grow) to make the transition. Greer said it better than I, but basically replacing 20:1 oil with 20:1 wind is only sufficient, once the wind/electric infrastructure is in place. I had to buy a new tire for my truck today - on the way to store I saw people with flame machines and petrochemicals repairing the cracks in the county road - a crew of 10 people and 4 trucks - all this stuff has to stay reasonably constant while we transition to new modes of energy. To do that we need more than we initially had.

I would argue we need a 30:1 gain with equivalent scale in order to transition the infrastructure into something that can use renewables

Ed Tennyson estimated that it would take $250 billion (current $) to electrify and improve speed & reliability of the US rail system enough to displace 67% of current and future US truck traffic.

I estimated $400 billion to displace 85%.

Better (but not TGV) passenger rail would come as a byproduct.

I figured 8,000 miles of "CSX"# type rail (grade separated, 2 tracks regular freight at 60 to 70 mph, one track pax & express freight at 100 to 110 mph). About 24,000 miles of double tracking, better signals, etc. About 65,000 miles electrified of 177,000 miles (80/20 rule).

# CSX has "on the table" a plan to do this from Washington DC to Miami.

Add $20 to $60 billion/year for Urban Rail.

Building new renewables (or nuke) to run this would be trivial.

Best Hopes,


Hi Alan.

When you target 85% are you referring to inter city trucking? [Makes a lot of sense -- most long haul trucking does not involve truly time critical cargoes and it is difficult to believe that long haul trucking is less labor intensive -- other than the initial investment which is born by the railroad, most long haul trucking seems to make very little sense on any basis -- if the cargoes can be delivered to the customer's location!] Short haul -- probably not ever customer is going to relocate so as to have their own siding.

Also, is there work underway on getting a better inter modal hand off between rail and truck for the final delivery? I have not studied this question to any degree, but I have in recent years watched a massive switching yards more or less stripped of track. If we are going to transfer cargo the old way, it seems to me that the switching yards are going to be very busy places.


The goal is to make express rail time and reliability competitive with trucks for those shippers that require that. Canadian National type operations are assumed (scheduled trains several times/day).

An 8,000 mile network (mainly Texas, Kansas City, Minneapolis and to the East plus San Francisco to Tuscon) of 100 to 110 mph express freight trains will add speed and reliability. Even if only a portion of s trip can be scheduled on a semi-High Speed rail line, delivery times improve considerably. 60 to 79 mph service could become "normal" on regular mainlines.

Highway congestion in major cities and 62 mph governors lowers the bar a tad in competing with trucks on speed and reliability.

Until (and it will happen !) customers relocate to a rail spur (or build new ones), intermodal will be required. The number of intermodal locations will increase, and many will be quite small operations. (Does Tuscaloosa Alabama get it's own, or does it uses the intermodal center in Birmingham ?).

In the first years, with diesel only $9/gallon, it will be Birmingham. Later, having it's own intermodal center will make sense.

Ed is working on a model for EMUs# carrying passengers and less than truckload freight (like old days of Railroad Express). Charge sky high freight rates (in comparison to unit cars of coal), but "affordable" to get appliances, small packages, fruit, etc. delivered at the railroad depot of smaller town. Say $21 to deliver refrigerator from big city 200 miles away to RR depot. Merchant or individual takes it from there.

Combine one or two EMUs with less than truckload freight with basic passenger service (decent seats & bathroom, but no dining car, sleepers or lounge) in one or two EMUs and one can make money today in his opinion, if done right. Service 2 to 6 times/day "depending on demand".

# EMU = Electric Multiple Units, self propelled electric rail cars that can operate singly or in trains of any length. Passenger seating could be 66 to 88/EMU.

Basic passenger service, several times a day, going to "big cities" on either end (including airports) as well as small twons along the way could be quite attractive for trips of 80 to 300 miles for a good % of the population (perhaps not a majority).

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,



Now here's a thought - I wonder if intermodal shipping containers could be retrofitted to carry passengers? This could be a way to ramp up passenger capacity quickly, and to integrate freight and passenger traffic.

Not ideal, by any means. But it reminds me a little bit of the Cuban contraptions pulled by a semi - whatever works.

FRA would have a seizure ! *SO* far from current regs, etc.

A few years after TSHTF, who knows ?


Nate, I think you and Gail and Greer et al have it spot on. Now let us estimate the likelihood of a *short term* turnaround in which such energy supplies become rapidly available. All done estimating ;-)?

Longer term, we can probably gradually ramp things up to an extent, depending on economic factors and what else we decide to do - but the question becomes, if we aren't going to make a rapid transition, what do we do in the meantime - do we put everything we've got to trying to build the new infrastructure and in the meantime screw the majority who aren't going to get personal solar or wind, and are going to be left with cars that don't work, and houses that don't heat, and no health care or educational system that can work without fuels, or do we accept an even longer lead time on any transition, and do what we can with what we have to soften the blow for most people, by keeping up lifespan, quality of life and allowing people to live decently - but at the price of a longer time before we can ever run as a high energy society?

I think those genuinely are the choices, and I know which side I personally stand on. But it is a tough decision - and tough stakes, and the price is high either way.



Unfortunately, given our political system here in the US, it is unlikely that any such choice will ever be made. I doubt that we're even capable of making effective major public policy choices any more. Whatever happens will happen by default. Which means that there will be no big, coordinated, well-though-out programs, crash or otherwise. "Business as usual" will continue long past the time when things are no longer "usual". Whatever big government initiatives are eventually undertaken will almost inevitably be wrong. (Corn Ethanol is exhibit A.) Infrastructure and artifacts will deteriorate and eventually be abandonded on a piecemeal basis. Decline will be gradual and inexorable - we will continue to hear "there's light at the end of the tunnel" and "prosperity is just around the corner" until we can't stand it any more, but things will just continue to get worse.

Energy conservation and alternative energy investments will also happen piecemeal, a little bit here, a little bit there. It will never be enough "to allow us to run as a high energy society", but gradually individuals -- and thus society as a whole -- will adapt and adjust to the future reality. That future reality is a society that is much poorer and necessarilly more frugal. As I figure it, if we end up as well off as Costa Rica, we'll have done well - and I see that as probably an overly optimistic hope.

And yes, the majority of people are going to get screwed, big time, along the way. It is not going to be a pleasant or happy time.

The bottom line advice for most people in the US (and this pretty much holds for other parts of the world as well): Get your debts paid off sooner rather than later (while you still can), and own some property free and clear; make investments to the extent that you are able in household energy efficiency and alternative energy; produce as much of your own food as you feasibly can; and in general downsize your lifestyle and live frugally. Don't worry about the fact that the people around you aren't doing the same, yet. They'll be following along soon enough.

There are a number of efficiency improvements that might be implemented through retrofits to existing assets. A highly efficient continuously-variable transmission will improve vehicle fuel economy by about 20%. Regenerative braking, hydro-pneumatic or electric, might yield another 20%. BMW apparently improved the fuel economy of some of their engines by about 15% at least partly by replacing throttles with variable valve lift and timing.

The problem is, there's little interest in incremental improvements. Maybe that will change when shortages become widespread, but individuals would have to spend their own money for efficiency improvements whose greatest benefits would accrue to everyone. Much as with buying a hybrid now, the added cost is borne by the individual, but the majority of the benefit of reduced demand is distributed to everyone, because the price elasiticity of fuel demand is so low. IOW, a small reduction in fuel demand leads to a large reduction in fuel price, which benefits everyone, but the individual who benefits most may be the one who lets others spend money on efficiency but pays less due to the reduced demand that results from the improved efficiency.

I think the point is that none of the infrastructure I own now is improving, incrementally or otherwise. My $1000 pick-up is not developing variable valve timing or a CVT, and I do not plan on replacing it - ever if I can avoid it. To get the benefit of even incremental improvements often means replacing the previous infrastructure, and where does the money for that come from?

if the old equipment can no longer be used for its intended purpose, because of lack of fuel.

That is exactly why I have kept my old car and refuse to buy a new one. In the event fuel gets scarce, I will convert the car's engine to run on natural gas and use it to power a generator, while also using it as a water and space heater.

Ahh, the magic of welding.

I know enough about oxygen sensor loops to at least be able to set the fuel ratios to optimum, and if I set the engine up with a good oil system, it should run several years without a lot of fanfare, as it will no longer need belts or pumps, and its carburetor will be replaced by a microprocessor controlled valve which will inject just the right amount of natural gas to the incoming air.

I don't know that I would assume a large supply of cheap natural gas in your future planning.

Hello Hardhat ~ a friend was telling me about something called "hydrogen assist" (aka Hydrostar) for gasoline engines. Do you know anything about it?

No, I do not know anything about Hydrostar, but anything gaseous and combustible injected into the airstream will richen the mixture and cause the car's computer to correspondingly lean out the fuel to compensate.

My guestimate on likely result of slipping hydrogen into the intake air...

If you add too much, it will likely trip the MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp, or "check engine" ). The correction will be reflected in the fuel trim. Likely, the computer will just "think" the injectors are a wee bit out of calibration, make the compensation, log it as a fuel trim adjustment, and not say much more about it.

I would be careful to only inject hydrogen if the car was running. Loose hydrogen under the hood would be bad news and would likely result in an explosion in an unintended space, likely resulting in a lot of embarassing questions and a need to replace the hood. I would also ensure I had a smooth injection during engine run so as not to confuse the car's computer with erratic corrections.

Anyway, thats just my WAG (Wild Ass Guess) on how a car engine would handle it. I would not think any harm would come of simple injection of additional combustibles, just as I do not see where I could run into anything to damage the engine by feeding natural gas to it, as long as I monitored the exhaust stream and metered the gas appropriately.

Maybe you might want to tinker feeding barbeque gas to a car while watching the fuel trims on a monitor hooked to the car's OBD-II (On Board Diagnostics) port to get a feel for how the engine responds to combustibles in the intake air.

If you are using the car's electrical system to power an electrolysis system to get your hydrogen, I guess you already know you will spend more power splitting the water than you will recover in the engine reuniting it.

Its nice as an academic experiment, as was my experiments using a motor connected to a generator to tinker with the fine points of locking a generator to the grid. At no time did I actually put any net power onto the grid using such an arrangement, as the motor pulled more power than the generator put out.


If you are using the car's electrical system to power an electrolysis system to get your hydrogen, I guess you already know you will spend more power splitting the water than you will recover in the engine reuniting it.

That is precisely what he was talking about, and what I needed to know.
Thank you very much.

I say try building a D9 Cat Bulldozer with a factory powered by PV electric.

Not even addressing the sunk costs that will need to be written off like you say Gail.

Soveriegn Default is where we are going. (and you know it Gail).

Our collective debt cannot fiscally/physically be repaid.

Never. Ever.

That is what Peak Energy boils down to.

Our collective Pensions/401's will be revealed to be worthless.

THat is our future. Plenty of "Stuff" of little value.

(Consumer goods at flea markets will be very cheap)

Why not? Except for gas powered ovens I think most of the machines in factories these days run on electricity. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants are being built that produce on the order of 500MW. We can quibble about how soon they'll be built and how many and such, but in principle you could power a large factory with electricity generated by solar power.

What softens the blow a bit is that the infrastructure doesn't have to be rebuilt overnight. To the extent that X% per year of the infrastructure gets rebuilt using an equivalent that reduces demand for fossil fuels by X%. The value of X being set by the depletion rate I'd imagine. Any idea what percent gets rebuilt each year due to attrition?

mcgowanmc - I really appreciated the illustration in the blog showing the rusting autos in a junkyard as the assets that the Fed is propping up.

I'm pretty thick but I get it now.

Pics worth a thousand words, indeed. 8D

H/T to Elaine Supkis, Money Matters

and yet... the financial market outcomes following the bailout of Bear Sterns have been lower commodity prices and a slightly higher $ (USDX)! WTF! too early for the train wreck? too many hedge funds deleveraging? will u.s. treasuries ever fall? the whole stinking financial system is broken.

Welcome, Fred. Good to have you here.

Overbought retracements.

Bearish triangle forming possible.

It's ferd.

Fred Mertz died in 1966.

And I suspect deleveraging /unwinding as the assets of broken investment houses are taken apart.

"Fred Mertz died in 1966."

Bummer! Here's to second fiddles Fred Mertz, Norton, Barney Rubble, and the Skipper.

Commodities did go down, but are still at elevated levels. The USD went up, but it is back down again, and is almost back at its low.

The Fed thinks it can manipulate markets. When the problem is out of control computer trading, as in the 1987 crash, then an intervention is capable of turning things around. But they are only going to be able to override fundamentals for so long, especially in commodities. And the fundamentals for the US economy are very bad. Really all they're doing, whether it is intentional or not, is allowing the big players to unload their holdings on the "dumb money" that is being suckered in to "buy on the dips" by TV's smiley faces and Fed interventions.

Markets have their own separate internal logic. It involves such things as support and resistance. Also various chart formations, trends, bases and breakouts are important to the market. News events and fundamentals are incidental to market logic and not central to it.

yeah, fortunately, i read jsmineset.com, so i am not easily deterred by the short term idiocy of markets. nonetheless, i am considering a local gold and silver berserker cult to aid AU in its journey to $1650.

"It’s that a huge proportion of industrial society’s capital plant – the collection of tools, artifacts, trained personnel, social structures, information resources, and human geography that provide the productive basis for society – was designed and built to use petroleum-derived fuels, and only petroleum-derived fuels...

Yes--it's a doubly whammy. We've got the massive devaluation of suburbia (JHK) AND the massive devaluation our capital stock.

But, and here's where the debate comes in and what makes it a triple whammy: can anything replace oil (and NG)? I think not, not on the scale we use it. Problem is, we are now starting to eat the bark off the trees (biofuels) and burn the beams in the basement (coal).

The massive devaluation of the capital stock is yet another reason why the nuclear option is a non-starter -- nuclear is heavily dependent on this very capital stock and our current infrastructure. It's as good an idea as building a nuclear power station in Basra.

Anything but a planned, cooperative and collective, orderly retrenchment to sustainability.

Dave - "Anything but a planned, cooperative and collective, orderly retrenchment to sustainability."

I have been considering the notion of sustainability. When you consider industrial societies and modern urban cities sustainability is a fiction. Take my older sister for instance: She recycles and goes to the supermarket with re-usable bags. She feels good about it. But it is a fiction. We're in a crises of epic proportions and

"...one path leads to despair and utter hopelessness.
The other to complete extinction.
Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly"
Woody Allen

Face it, we can ramp up conservation, electric cars, solar hot water heaters but none of it will ever be enough to avoid the consequenceses of overshoot.

Daily luxury cruise ships depart American port of calls full of over-fed complacent Americans who gorge on cheap food prepared by minions of low paid slaves (the luccky ones) from foreign nations.

It would be laughable but it's not...

I don't disagree with you. The road to sustainability involves retrenchment on many fronts: population, industrialization, etc. But where I become, if not an optimist, at least a possibilist, is in believing that after the smoke clears we can find a level at which humanity is able to live more or less in harmony with nature. I don't see some fundamental reason we can't survive as species, at least until a major natural catastrophe ends our story. I still believe brains will turn out to be of some value when we learn how to use them cooperatively.

RE Greer quote:

We are in a position analagous to someone who has been recently laid off (this after a series of pay cuts over the years). This person also has a $200,000 mortgage, $50,000 credit card bill, $3,000 per month expenses such as insurance, car payments etc. etc.

This poor bloke is now being told that he needs to buy a new electric vehicle (or whatever the 'next' technology will be) to save on fuel expenses, buy all new energy saving appliances, super-insulate his house, possibly buy a PV rooftop grid-tied system to save on the electric bill, pay either a tax subsidy for new nuke plants and electrified rail, etc. etc. etc.

Gives new meaning to 'between a rock and a hard place.'


You are entirely correct, it is not possible for an individual with no assets to tackle a problem of this magnitude. Which is why the only way out of this, if there is one, is by a group effort. For example, cities setting up trains and buses that transport your "poor bloke" to work and shopping so that he needn't purchase a car. Perhaps the local utility company would place the PV array on his roof and sell him the electricity it generates. And maybe he'll pay for the electricity and train fare and food with a salary from his new maintenance job at the solar plant on the outskirts of town.

It is not that different from now. No one starts with an empty lot and builds a home entirely by hand. We all rely on a vast number of architects, engineers, craftsmen, chemists, physicists, EEs, bankers, lawyers, clerks and more to come up with the designs and materials and financing for our homes and goods. The problem, as I see it, is that we (as a society) haven't yet made it a priority.

Mulhouse France gets Non-Oil Transportation

I picked Mulhouse France (pop 110,900, metro 271,000) as a example of what could be done to create a non-oil transportation system in a short time (a decade). A town that I could study in more depth (I cannot study them all).

My choice was more or less random in my study of new French tram systems (France has a goal of 1,500 km of new tram lines in the next decade).

Mulhouse got their first tram line in 2006 (start construction 2003 ?), they will have 3 major tram lines (one semi-commuter) (54 km 34 miles) by 2011 or 2012 (some conflict on final completion dates). And arrows that point to future extensions.

This will be more Light Rail than Houston Texas (population 4+ million) will have operational by then.

They will get high speed rail, the Rhine-Rhone TGV, in December 2011.


They have 200 velibs, rental bicycles (free for the first 30 minutes). Rental stations/docks scattered around the city.

Most French cities with trams are encouraging development along the lines, but I have found nothing specific in Mulhouse.

An oil supply emergency in 2012 will no doubt hurt them, but they have a Non-Oil Transportation alternative to fall back on.


But will we ?


Weak economy slows cargo, idles railcars

The nation's top hauler of container rail freight, is parking miles of railcars in Montana and elsewhere because there isn't enough freight to keep them rolling.
Seasonal car storage is common, he said, but the number of cars now idle is exceptional.

Most of the parked cars are designed for intermodal transportation, when containers filled with imported goods are taken off vessels at U.S. ports and then transported by train, truck or both to distribution centers around the country.

For the first two months of 2008, the volume of intermodal rail freight in the United States was down 3.4 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Association of American Railroads, an industry group based in Washington, D.C. Last year, intermodal traffic was flat as railroads began to feel the effects of slowing retail orders and the dollar's decline.

Going to be tough to expand rail capacity when what we've now is going idle.


Another bit of news showing a lack of foresight and planning by Metro's administrators -- five more years until the original cars get replaced. These cars have needed replacement for years. At least we're upgrading the power system so more of the long trains can be run, but apparently the money for a lot of the necessary maintenance and upgrades has to be scrounged up creatively. This area would be nothing without Metro; I just don't understand the absurdity of this (well I do, but...).


The great failing of DC Metro (WMATA) is that they do not have a dedicated source of funding, they must go hat-in-hand every year to 4 different groups of politicians (MD, VA, DC, USA).

It is not so much the competence, but the funding (especially long range funding). One solution held up by a Republican Senator from Oklahoma (any OK readers of TOD, PLEASE call your Senator ! I would protect his hold that increases US Oil use, hurts our economy (increased oil use, repairs & improvements to DC Metro stimulate our economy) and hurts our environment). It is my understanding that 3 or 4 calls from "back home" on any issue gets noticed. 10 calls REALLY get noticed.

Metro is the only major transit system in the country that does not have a significant source of dedicated funding. A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) pending in Congress would set aside $1.5 billion in federal money over 10 years for Metro, to be matched by Virginia, Maryland and the District. The jurisdictions have identified their share, but the bill has been held up in the Senate because of a hold by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)

I note that the 7000 series cars are due to start arriving in 5 years, when the oldest cars will be 37 years old. No doubt the first ones will go to expand the fleet. 40 years is the standard railcar life time (I use ones built in 1923/24).

I would support taking the oldest cars, after 40 years of service, doing minimal maintenance/rehab on them, and mothballing them for future emergency use.

The problems noted in the article are normal for old equipment nearing end-of-life and do not alarm me. DC Metro has higher priorities than scrapping rolling stock before it's end of life.


Over decades since WW II, the ability to design and build more efficient equipment has relied on better understanding of the properties of the materials employed. the use of stronger, lighter aluminum has become common, just as it has in aircraft design. The strength and lifetime is a function of time and varying loads, as fatigue limits are likely to be the cause of failures. Attempting to push the lifetime of a vehicle beyond it's design life is just asking for trouble.

The cracking found in the floors of the cars is a symptom of fatigue failure and means that the cars are becoming dangerous to operate without major repairs. Sure, older cars designed with higher safety factors are still in use, as you describe. The same is true for old DC-3 aircraft build during WW II that are still flying, one reason being that they were slow and their design was much stronger than required. Another problem with DC cars, if memory serves, is that they run on tracks between freeway lanes on some routes. Thus, in winter, they are subjected to the same problems of corrosion due to road salt that can eat away the body on a steel automobile. Aluminum easily corrodes when subjected to salt and this problem tends to be hidden in locations which are not easily accessible for inspection and repair. I think it's probably a bad idea to continue to use these older cars, once they begin to fall apart.

E. Swanson

The design life in 40 years. One component (the floors) may have been specified too thin, or the wrong alloy. If so, rather than spending scarce $$ of new cars too soon, spend a few $ on more frequent inspection.

Unlike you, I think that well maintained rolling stock can, and should be, life extended. Use them in rush hour only service when near end-of-life, but keep them for 45 and 50 years if possible (and if it was a "good car"). Paris kept one series going for almost 70 years.

Mid-life (20 years) life extensions are common. I would consider the value of a second, more extensive, life extension at 40 years. It is likely to be cheaper than new cars.

New Orleans did a very extensive life extension at 67 years on our streetcars.

AFAIK (I have ridden on them) little if any salt gets from the freeways onto the cars (more does drift onto the tracks, which are lower and there 24/7). Salt corrosion of cars has not been mentioned as a problem with WMATA cars. Steel supports for aluminum would not even be considered (see article) if salt was an issue.

Best Hopes for Long Lived Infrastructure,


PS: I saw car #29, our 1897 Ford, Davis & Bacon work car on the tracks yesterday :-)

At least trains don't fall out of the sky when system failure occurs.

Anybody want to talk about American, Delta, BA grounding large parts
of their fleet?

On March 19, 2008, PIA decided to retire its Boeing 747 fleet due to rising fuel costs and placed the aircraft for sale. In the previous month, the airline stored two of its Boeing 747s.


The common connection between refiners curtailing their refinery utilization rate and airlines curtailing their schedules is a problem matching the high input cost of crude and jet fuel versus the volume of refined product and total airline travel that consumers will respectively buy.

This is also probably as much for operational reasons as PIA's 747's were banned from European airspace in November 2006 on potential safety grounds. I would imagine utilisation of these aircraft has dropped considerably.

I'm interested in this from another angle as well. I don't buy new cars: I buy (every 6 to 8 years) a used high end (Cressida, BMW) car with over 100,000 miles on it. I tell myself that these cars are built enough better to compensate for the age. So far so good. I save tons of money and get comfort and standard shift and just shy of 35mpg at 65-70mph. Of course, 15 years is not 40.

Baring an accident, I hope that my 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D (stick shift) will be the last car I ever own :-)

Best Hopes for less than 60 gallons of diesel in 2008,


Alan -be careful for what you wish for...;-)

Reminds me of a trick I used to pull on my students when I was teaching a computer class. I asked how many of them would like to never see their hard drive crash. They all raised their hands. Then I rephrased it: how many of you would like to outlive your hard drive?

May you outlive your car.

I do not believe that "To Live is to Drive".

I could see spending my last 20 years without a car :-)

Best hopes for no car after my 240D,


OTOH, I cannot see living without a hard drive or technological equivalent

Tom Colburn is doing his job quite well thank you. Since this is the DC Metro, its DC and Maryland/Virginia's problem. Given the high cost of doing anything on the coasts, perhaps we could have a Metro in Oklahoma City for the same costs. Localization means just that, local solutions to local problems.....anything involving the federal government will just get screwed up.

Washington DC is *THE* federal city. Under the US Constitution, the various states are responsible for it's welfare. Which is why they do not get a voting Senator or US Representative.

It is a one industry town, and that industry is tax exempt. In lieu of taxes, in order to have a functioning city in which to have our National Capitol, the Federal Government contributes money.

A high percentage of Metro riders are federal employees, I would not be surprised if half were, based on personal observations of rush hour.

In addition, DC Metro saves about 100,000 barrels of oil every day, and that # is growing. The Feds refused 18% federal fudning to save another 20 to 25,000 b/day, although many Oklahoma Interstates were build with 90% federal funding.


Understood on the design life, thank you for the explanation. But despite the funding mess due to the multi-government service area, there have been numerous stories of management incompetence at Metro, ridiculous amounts of overtime pay for employees, long service outages for escalators and elevators, lack of planning for sensing/switching component replacement, etc, etc. Having Dan Tangherlini as interim head appeared to be a spot of hope, but he's moved on to work for the mayor. Maybe Catoe is good; I don't know, never heard him speak.

It's just silly not to have a better more pervasive transit system here -- this city would not be even what it is today without Metro. I think everyone knows that, but making changes for a better Metro seems very difficult -- witness the rail to Dulles debacle.

Best hopes for it not being over 'til it's under!

A high percentage of Metro riders are federal employees, I would not be surprised if half were, based on personal observations of rush hour.

Most are probably federal contractors, not employees.

So are BART's car also experience these issues?
They are as old and the similar design.

Why mothball when you could rebuild the cars? Or will the fatigue issues require considerable rebuilding?

Aluminum is much more susceptible to fatigue than steel. And BART has uniquely aluminum cars (it let them build lighter elevated structures and saved fuel for generations),

The new streetcars we build in New Orleans were built out of 3/8" Corten# plate and are immune to fatigue, and the floors are 3/4"
marine plywood with rubber layment on top. Multiple centuries before they wear out !


# Steel alloy known for it's toughness, corrosion resistance and lack of fatigue.

'The great failing of Metro (WMATA) is that they do not have a dedicated source of funding...'

Alan, first I would like to say that I am in favor of rail transit in cities that contribute something to the US economy.

'The great failing of Metro' is that it was built in the wrong place. DC is hundreds of thousands of government workers, involved for the most part, in make work projects. If 50% of these minor bureaucrats never showed up for work again they would never be missed. My estimate is probably conservative.

I was at Metro from jump street. I know how the management was chosen (ex military), I know that they dont have a clue about running a RR, and they would not be good managers no matter what endeavor they were involved in. Since the ex military managers came from the pentagon they were used to being involved in giant boondogles and carried on as usual at Metro.

As one example...When fare card machine technicians would be dispatched to repair machines they would routinely steal thousands of dollars of cash from the machines. No one reported the thefts, no one mentioned it. Fare card tech were routinely betting thousands of $s on football games and prize fights. This is merely one example. Waste was rampant and I dont see how that has changed because the ex military managers were hiring more ex military to work under themselves...and eventually these underlings were promoted.

So, no, I will not be advising my congress critter to fund Metro. But, if a transit system is built in a productive locale, I will push for funding for it. I do not know why you have chosen Metro as a cause to promote but I believe you are misguided. BTW, you would be over qualified for a Metro manager job and would probably very quickly become disallusioned by what you saw, once inside...I was, and I was not working directly for WMATA.

Ed Tennyson (now about age 90) may have been the last REALLY first rate manager hired by transit authorities. It has NOT attracted "the best and the brightest" for several generations now.

Ed's next to last full time job was starting up operations on the San Diego trolley (back when it was single track, and that was a challenge to get good on-time performance, but he did). SD Trolley was the first modern Light Rail line built in the USA.

His last job was estimating ridership for WMATA. Before the first line opened he estimated ridership for the completed 103 mile system. He was off by 3%.

Ed knows the weaknesses of WMATA well, but he is not as harsh as you. He was hired in retirement by Arlington to 'watchdog" WMATA for a decade. He did say that one primary reason to build DC Metro was so that a skeleton staff could get to the Pentagon without any oil what so ever.

You may not like DC bureaucracy, but a lot of bad things happen if the folks at the Pentagon, SEC, FDA, FAA, etc. do not show up for work. Eliminate the work force first (and I have some sympathy there), and THEN the transit system, but not in the reverse order.

WMATA and BART are the only two major Urban rail systems built in the USA in my lifetime, and DC makes a good "before & after" comparison.


Ed's first job out of college was electrifying 10 miles more of the Reading Railroad (see Monopoly board game). He was also on the staff of the prosecution of GM for getting rid of streetcars (they won, GM paid a $1,000 fine). He gave a presentation to the board of the Long Island railroad on the advantages of 100% electrification as Dwight D. Eisenhower was giving his second Inaugural Address. etc. etc.

Alan, thanks for your response. My feeling is that the US has proceeded too far down this ruinous road to change course. We in America are now governed by a giant bureaucratic system that is on the verge of toppling from it's own weight. Our bureaucuracy has become so bloated that it is bareley able to function on a daily basis, let alone in an emergency such as Katrina, which you are familiar with. A government filled with corruption, poor management, cronyisim, incompetence, nepotisim, and thieves cannot last. Therefore, it does not matter if WMATA fails first or the government fails first, for both will be swept away equally. To me, Metro is another example of what is wrong with America, not an example for what is right.

Some seem to think that adding another layer of management (like Ed Tennyson) or oversight will cure any problem. It is not so for the addition is simply one more layer of management piled on top of many layers of mismanagement. The layer of added management will be stymied at every turn by those incumbents attempting to thwart a movement toward competence. I have been there and I have seen it happen.

Excerpted from a letter addressed to Lord Acton from Robert E Lee...

'I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceeded it.'

Lee, and many Europeans of that era saw the only possible outcome for a republic with unchecked powers...It would become a tyranny...and that is exactly what it has become. It is a laughably incompetent tyranny, but a tyranny non the less. The end of individual states rights left no other alternative possible.

Metro is of no consequence. It is a cold war system built because the TPTB were jealous of the Moscow subway system...another adjunct to the arms race. But still, after all the money that has been wasted on Metro, it does not rival the grandure and beauty of the Russian system. Metro could be replaced by a bunch of parking garages, free bicycles for all, or free cab rides for all, for a lot less money than has been, and will be, spent. Many have fed at the Metro trough, and many more will.

My feeling is that the US has proceeded too far down this ruinous road to change course. We in America are now governed by a giant bureaucratic system that is on the verge of toppling from it's own weight. Our bureaucuracy has become so bloated that it is bareley able to function on a daily basis, let alone in an emergency such as Katrina, which you are familiar with. A government filled with corruption, poor management, cronyisim, incompetence, nepotisim, and thieves cannot last.

One claim of 'the mongumbo guru' was that 25% of the employment in the US of A is 'government jobs'. Cutting back on taxes/government works would then mean less money spent at Wal*mart and increased shoppers at Curb*Mart

All in all - this does not look like it will end well.

But, if a transit system is built in a productive locale, I will push for funding for it.

We're running low on productive locales to build transit systems -- all the manufacturing jobs keep going overseas


D.C. area resident and daily Metro rider*

* I take a bus to and from Metro to reduce my consumption of imported petroleum

"Sydney Goes Dark for Earth Hour"

Yeah, Google's site is "dark" too. Of course, this could be because the contrast on the dark version of the site makes it easier to view as the co-founders fly around in one of their 3 massive, fuel-guzzling private jets. But hey, they care, and that's all that matters, right?

Google Founders Get Yet Another New Jet

Is that envy I detect? Do you want a fuel guzzling private jet too? Perhaps the founders of Google have important business to transact, or maybe they just need to work out some personal issues about power and control. Eventually, they will get a haircut like everyone else, and realize they put their pants on one leg at a time. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Google stock has already received a haircut...and it will continue to get trims as ad dollars fall off.

Envy? Yes it is. I would love to have just one private airplane. Maybe they could just give me one of their smaller ones. I would promise not to be hypocritical and make symbolic gestures like darkening the homepage of my website. I wouldn't be hypocritical, just wasteful. Please, please, please can I have one!!!!

Yes, you can have one!!

If you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, so to speak, you can build your own. Most of the cost of a small home build aircraft is the engine and instruments. You can put several thousand hours of your time into it, which is probably better than sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons or playing golf.


Don't ask where the fuel will come from, though...

E. Swanson

I'm not sure this Earth Hour nonsense will have any more effect than those earth day concerts. I mean the only real way to cause change is through votes and lobbying politicians. Turning off your lights for one hour is like praying for change...symbolic, yet ineffective.

"Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer."

the only real way to cause change is through votes and lobbying politicians.

the voting part is only for entertainment, hire a lobbyist.

you can certainly change things(financially and healthwise) on a personal level by conservation. walk when you can.

the only real way to cause change is through votes and lobbying politicians.

I'd say no. Using the computers, network, and databases - the way people spend their money will have more of an effect.

Looks like the truckers are going to try a strike on Tuesday.

To Protest Fuel Costs, Truckers Plan Idle Day

Who knows, it might take off. The discussions I saw on the Web talked about a 3 day "event". Better get all your shopping done this weekend.

E. Swanson

Before there will be any noticable impact the truckers would need to shut down trucking operations for at least two weeks. The problem for these (independent) truckers is they have 1/4 million dollar loans on their rigs. The corporate trucking firms would gladly take up the slack and then you would see the demise of the "independent trucker" which is probably going to happen anyway.

Once the independents go out of business the foreclosed rigs will be sold bargain basement to large corporate firms and they will then set transportation rates that will put suburban America on its heels until it finally ends up on its ass.

But don't worry...they'll make a lot of money.

Can't really blame the truckers (and I'm not saying your are). A one day strike says "We're dying out here!" Lots more are in deep doo. There's a small Vienamese restaurant around the corner. The owner was telling me some of his cost increases in the last year. But he can't pass most of them on, otherwise he'd lose customers. Got to be the same across the board, especially, but not only, for small businesses.

The real growth in the economy over the past 20 years has been small businesses with less than 20 employees. The franchise systems are a large part of that. When legitimate manufacturing firms shuttered and sent the jobs overseas everyone started opening Subway Sandwich Shops, coffee sales outlets and tanning factories or worse yet they go to truck driving schools and buy tractor trailers. These unfortunate people borrow against the equity in their homes and SBA loans. Why? For the American opportunity to work themselves to death just to keep the doors open or the wheels turning.

These busineses operated on the margins of less than 10% so any downturn or rise in overhead is devastating. When they raised the national minimum wage last year and the dramatic rise in the cost of product a lot of these marginal businesses are on the ropes. If they raise their prices too quickly they lose customers and they go out of business. If they don't raise prices their margins are too low to justify staying in business and they go out of business. The franchisers have already gotten paid so they can afford to see a large percentage of the franchisees fail. This is capitalism.

I worked in the Retail Leasing business for years and I have seen more mom and pops go under the train than I care to recall. But I can assure you that if I had ever tried to tell them the truth that their yarn store would fail they would have fired me. So like a good little capitalist I drew up the triple net leases and then 6 months later I would flinch when I saw the going out of business sales. I was too ashamed to ever contact them!

Corn shortages looming:


Totoneila will be glad to see that, although they haven't gone so far as to put the "I'm feeling unlucky" button up, Google has painted their homepage black for earth hour outreach. No rumors about Tiger Woods snooping around tractor dealerships, though.

High platinum group metal prices leading to catalytic converter thefts:


Russia increases involvement in the Middle East:


(I always love reading pieces from this author, M. K. Bradrakumar - he was India's ambassador to Turkey and Uzbekistan, and he always has an interesting perspective)

Military option for Iran back on the table:


(This is a right-wing Israeli website, so take it with a grain of salt...they predicted an immanent US invastion of Iraq about four times before it actually happened...lots of links to fun jewish singles, though)

Foreign buyers snapping up Florida real estate:


(River - have you seen this down where you are? If you meet any foreign buyers, please tell them that North Florida is a dangerous thicket of inbred rednecks and vengeful minorities and they should stay south of Ocala, please.)

I'm sure I make a poor Leanan...I miss her (snif!)...please come back...we'll behave, won't we guys?

Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will.
I sure could use a vacation from this
Bullshit three ring circus sideshow of
Here in this hopeless fucking hole we call LA
The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.
Any fucking time. Any fucking day.
Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona bay.
Fret for your figure and
Fret for your latte and
Fret for your hairpiece and
Fret for your lawsuit and
Fret for your prozac and
Fret for your pilot and
Fret for your contract and
Fret for your car.
It's a
Bullshit three ring circus sideshow of
Here in this hopeless fucking hole we call LA
The only way to fix it is to flush it all away.
Any fucking time. Any fucking day.
Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona bay.
Some say a comet will fall from the sky.
Followed by meteor showers and tidal waves.
Followed by faultlines that cannot sit still.
Followed by millions of dumbfounded dipshits.
Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will cuz
I sure could use a vacation from this
Silly shit, stupid shit...
One great big festering neon distraction,
I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied.
Learn to swim.
Mom's gonna fix it all soon.
Mom's comin' round to put it back the way it ought to be.
Learn to swim.
Fuck L Ron Hubbard and
Fuck all his clones.
Fuck all those gun-toting
Hip gangster wannabes.
Learn to swim.
Fuck retro anything.
Fuck your tattoos.
Fuck all you junkies and
Fuck your short memory.
Learn to swim.
Fuck smiley glad-hands
With hidden agendas.
Fuck these dysfunctional,
Insecure actresses.
Learn to swim.
Cuz I'm praying for rain
And I'm praying for tidal waves
I wanna see the ground give way.
I wanna watch it all go down.
Mom please flush it all away.
I wanna watch it go right in and down.
I wanna watch it go right in.
Watch you flush it all away.
Time to bring it down again.
Don't just call me pessimist.
Try and read between the lines.
I can't imagine why you wouldn't
Welcome any change, my friend.
I wanna see it all come down.
suck it down.
flush it down.

The preceding is from Tool, "Aenima".

Tool is good.

If I see the morning hours
I'll have one more yesterday
Take life from tomorrow
Cause I've burned out my today

If I get up to the top I know
I'll just go back downhill
Gotta terminal future
And it's time to write my will

Down another glass of courage
And a shot of thorazine...

I Liiiiiiiike It!

From "Corn shortages looming" above:

Analysts on average were predicting this year's corn acreage at 87.387 million acres, down 6.2 million acres from 2007's 93.6 million, which was the biggest corn area in over 60 years.

I read this and had an immediate flashback to this article from February:

Famines May Occur Without Record Crops This Year, Potash Says

Bro, In the neighborhood where the wife and I live we have always had a small % of foreign home owners. I really have noticed an increasing trend in the number of them. It seems most are Indian (or from the sub continent) or East Asians and most are Doctors or other professionals.

I have noticed that a large number of them are regular walkers and I see and greet them when out for walks. They are a positive presence in the neighborhood...they mind their own biz and, imo, are not likely to become cat burgulars or muggers.

I would rather have these well educated and orderly foreigners living in the neighborhood than a bunch of ignorant clowns.

The most disturbance here comes from telemarketers on the land line. I would get rid of the land line but have two computers and dsl set up. The other disturbance is from various religious factions knocking on the door, attempting to get us to join one of their cults. Since there are signs at the entrances stating 'NO SOLICITATIONS' one would think these religion pushers would stay away, but no. I sometimes ask them why they dont rent a store at the mall to sell their product, like other retailers...followed by a blank look.

Thanks for the reply. Actually, I my kids go to an elementary school with lots of foreigners, and they generally are hard working and value education. My daughter's best friends with a girl from Jordan. I was just bemoaning outsiders coming in a driving property values up to levels where the locals can't afford housing, which tends to happen a lot in some of the places I've lived in the South.

Back in Sunnyvale, California, I'd go to the park and there'd be people walking, and playing with their kids, Indians, Chinese, etc., and Caucasians but the Caucasians always turned out to be, when I listened, immigrants from Europe. Americans, actual Americans of whatever ancestry, with American accents, were rare to nonexistent.

There's a lot of culture reclaiming to do.

That being said, where I am is a great place if you're a range steer or a peregrine falcon, but in human terms it's a Kunstleresque moonscape, utterly automobile-dependent, even less a promising place to live than Phoenix.

So, I am making plans to get my butt back to, well, Sunnyvale California, and hope to not have to endure another winter here. So, 6-7 months here of warm weather, but I'd like to get going ASAP.

Here, nobody walks anywhere, unless you're very poor. The homeless are a far greater percentage of the population than anywhere in the SF Bay Area. There are programs I may need to use in the Bay Area, and at least they were there. Here, they are not.

Living here means being utterly dependent on gasoline or diesel, driving long distances, not having work about half of the year, it's ..... just not my cup of tea I don't think.

I really look forward to the bay area again, it's public transportation, being able to ride a bicycle around, etc. Here's to LOW energy consumption.

Culture constantly evolves fleam.

Reclaiming culture implies we can turn back the clock...?

"...bemoaning outsiders coming in a driving property values up..."

Or it could be thought of as greedy sellers driving the price up.

Hello Brother Kornhoer,

In the hopes of holding off those armed with machetes pursuing me across the postPeak moshpit dancefloor: I would like to make it clear that I am Not Happy with any of the sad developments occuring globally. I would prefer infinite growth infinitely, but I realize that is not physically possible inside our planetary petri dish.

Please remember to shoutout Peakoil whenever your favorite yeasty beverage glass reaches half empty!

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

Treasury reveals new plan that will give Federal Reserve broad powers (pdf)

Among the proposed changes: merging of the SEC and CFTC, a creation of a MOC - Mortgage Origination Commission, a new Thrift Charter, and expanding role of the Fed as a 'Market Stability Regulator'. I am still reading the fine print to see if we are screwed or helped. I can't help but be suspicious, but remain hopeful this is something other than the first sign of the nationalization of the banking system.

(here is link to CNN story about the plan)

We. Are. Screwed.

Until you start seeing "Trillions needed", you're not getting the story
or the implications.

All of it an indication of the desperation of TPTB.

Until you see Ten year Treasuries rise to the real level of inflation-

at least 8%, housing stabilize-rent price equals mortgage, and

real wages begin to rise (again, to at least cover 7% inflation,

there will be no solution coming from DC/Wall ST.

There WILL be solutions coming from DC/Wall st - it just depends on whether they are short term or long term in scope and whether they work or not.

Im aware of trillions needed and I do get the story and its implications. My point is that the Fed/Govt have two general paths to choose - let market take most of the pain - steep depression, major consolidation of banks so a few strong ones are left, millions of jobs lost, etc. OR bail people out for making bad choices (collectively) which will feel good for a month or a year but then all faith in our currency will go away. I am hoping for the former or something in the middle. Reading this document (which was presumably created months ago) seems to be more in the middle.

I doubt real wages will rise any time soon, and without increasing energy surplus, the only way for modal real wages (e.g. excluding top few %) to increase again is with fewer wage earners.

"fewer wage earners". Key phrase.

Thank you for your reply.

But as I related to someone on another web site, we had these choices
before 911. It's no accident that we were heading into a Recession
(see Survey Manufacturing Index Chart) then.

But then the Housing Bubble got blown and everyone (or not everyone,
the savers get/got punished) pulled cash from their homes and spent it.

We were bankrupt in 1985 (again see debt charts-debt explodes in '85).

We are now insolvent and the World's Savers and SWF are holding the only
non committed cash.

The Collapse has already happened.

Until we see people like Paulson, Greenspan, Cheney ("So?") in orange jumpsuits

the only change we'll see is more families in soup kitchen lines.

"Now that we have utterly collapsed our banking system, the Fed has to lend and to lend means to produce money out of thin air. If this were still a bubble, this action would be causing great inflation. But money is vanishing faster than the Fed can lend it. The Fed is dropping more and more rules and has been edging into 'no restrictions/no questions asked' more and more and has expanded this from banks that are 'sound financial condition' to not only bad banks but to NON-BANKS. This insane policy will stop the collapse but only at great cost. And it will keep all the bad things going.-Elaine Supkis

Sincerely, James

History has shown that wage increases without productivity increases are inflationary...but, in the 'new economy' since Regan entered office that history is out the window. Real wages have remained flat even with productivity gains while inflation has been held in check by imports. No rescue by rising wages is on the way.

That only leaves falling home prices to meet wages as a solution to the housing backlog and mortage melt down.

Faith in the currency by foreign investors is declining daily. If the Fed remains on it's present course of cutting interest rates we might observe the end of the era of the dollar as world reserve currency. We might see a melt down of the short term treasury bubble. No one seems to recognize that T bubble forming. I believe the Fed is going to take steps to slow the speculation in commodities. The Fed seems to believe, right or wrong, that speculation is driving commodity prices. It must be very tempting for the Fed to whipsaw commodity speculators and destroy paper wealth in that sector, driving more flight to treasuries...can't let those exchange traders be right...or wrong. Aint unregulated capitalisim great? The 'unseen hand' has a hammer and we are all nails.

Some interesting events from yesterday as posted on Mish's site:

'Eye on Commodity Prices
There was an interesting "buzz" on Minyanville on Thursday about commodity prices. Here goes from Minyan Peter:

Three things that caught my eye this morning:

The WSJ reporting that Valero (VLO) is cutting back refining output because of a surplus of supply.
Oil trading flat/down despite the announcement of a terrorist bombing of a major Iraqi pipeline.
The CME announced an increase in commodity trading marginrequirements.
While discrete events, all again raise the question of peaking consumer
commodity prices. Two things to keep in mind:

First, commodity price inflation has been cited repeatedly by the Fed as a concern. And given the view of many that the most recent price rises are a function of rampant speculation (versus fundamental demand) I would not underestimate

a) the pressure placed on the CME to increase margin requirements by banking regulators to curtail speculation

b) how stability in commodity prices (let alone price declines) opens up the Fed's ability to drop short term rates further without pummeling the dollar.

Second, while everyone will likely cheer commodity price declines as the savior of the US consumer, asset deflation, whether in housing, commodities or anything else is like Kryptonite to the banking industry. And don't forget, too, how much lending (particularly M&A related) has been done in the past five years in support of commodity related companies - particularly in Asia.

At least to me, commodity price deflation eliminates any notion of decoupling.'

I read Mish, but he's wrong on a lot of stuff, and this post, in addition to being wrong, was intellectually dishonest, in my opinion.

First, news of the Iraqi pipeline explosion did spike oil prices (they were not flat in response to that news as he said). Prices came down after news came over the wire that exports would not be affected. And anyone with even a dinky knowledge of trading would know that prices would encounter resistance at the recent highs, because people who bought at the recent highs and lost are still out licking their wounds.

Valero is not going out of business--they announced that they were relocating to Asia and elsewhere. As for gasoline inventories, they have dropped sharply over the last two inventory reports, and this was what caused the big jump in oil prices last Wednesday.

The CME announced an increase in commodity margin requirements, but they ALWAYS increase margin requirements in response to increases in volatility (that means: big moves in prices), so this was absolutely nothing new, it had nothing to do with Fed attempts to control speculation or commodity prices, and it wasn't even unexpected by any trader who's been around even 6 months. Believe me, there wasn't a single hedge fund or commodity trader with any kind of a clue who didn't have plenty of money in his account to cover an increase in margin requirements. The rule of thumb is you keep enough money in your account to cover 2x the cost of your positions, so even if they had doubled margin requirements--and they didn't come anywhere close to that--it would have affected few traders.

Also, commodity prices overall have already come back over half the amount they corrected, and they did it within a few days of the decline! For someone who is representing himself as a financial advisor to paint this as commodity price deflation is irresponsible or insane. Right now, different commodities are showing different types of market activity--corn and oil had buy signals, gold looks like it's setting up for a buy signal, soybeans and wheat look weak. Just because prices may have moved somewhat in sync for a short time doesn't mean that they are being controlled by some single factor.

Also, just because the Fed has expressed concern about commodity price inflation doesn't mean that they are as stupid as Mish in their analysis of the reason for the price increases. Bernanke said in his recent Congressional testimony that price inflation, if we see it, will be caused by rising oil prices. And since Bernanke knows how tightly he's controlling money supply growth, he knows damn well that oil prices aren't rising because of any Fed looseness with money. The Fed is being extremely TIGHT with money, but that won't cure imbalances of supply and demand in oil, and it won't cure the fundamental importance of oil in the world economy.

Mish has been telling everyone for months to get into treasuries. He's a classic Scared White Guy--the kind of guy I kill routinely at the poker tables. He's talking his book, just like everybody else, but the fact that he has to manipulate the truth to back his ideas should show you that his ideas are highly problematic.

Moe, thanks for your take on what Mish had to say. It is sometimes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

As of now I do not have any leveraged positions so inflation is eating me up. I will change that soon. I do have silver and gold that has been accumulated over a long period. I do not expect most commodities to stop rising in dollars. I am reading and learning about timing. I appreciate the book recommendations.

BTW, I am not at all certain that the S Iraq oil pipelines have been restored. The fighting going on in S Iraq is not being reported widely but is hot and heavy.

Moe, thanks for the perspective on Mish. I read his blog and have decided to take a large grain of salt each time. It's good to have another somewhat expert opinion on some of his pronouncements.


Do you get involved in the forex market?

My post on Mish's blog, in response to his Valero comment:

I've been predicting that we would see declining US refinery utilization. Let me put it this way, if US gasoline prices were $10 per gallon, would we see a higher or lower refinery utilization rate?

Note that US crude oil prices have risen (aided by the falling dollar) at an annual rate of over 50%/year since October 1, 2007.

Declining Net Oil Exports Versus “Near Record High” Crude Oil Inventories: What is going on?
(September, 2007)

remember that 100 years ago there was a financial panic nad JP Morgan got the bank heads together and decided which banks were sound and should be helped and which one's shoulden't. The US neds something like that again.


thanks for u'r work , laying out the details & u'r opinions. i heard congressman chuck schuman interviewed on bloomberg & he had a good grasp of lots of specifics for a bill alleviating the foreclosure crisis & the first thought that came to my mind was; will work some & it will be 'catabolic' as in greer's definitions, i. e. prop things up longer, using capital/reasourses along the way.

all these plans leave out oil depletion [ & many big issues such as our debt/china relationship]& when they get going in earnest the plans will fail.

thanks again.

Treasury reveals new plan that will give Federal Reserve broad powers

Goodby, facade of free markets.
Hello, command and control.

Il Duce would have been proud.
After all, he did get the trains to run on time.


Glass-Steagall where were you when we needed you?
You fell victim to the Rubin/Greenspan/Clinton regime and the Goldman Sachs/Treasury revolving door.

"Men are tired of liberty"

What, exactly, would be the source of your "hope" that this is not the "first sign of the nationalization of the banking system" and the consequent transfer of all wealth from the general public to the elite "bankers" and the further development of a re-born medieval system of royalty and peasants?

It looks like the end of anything that could be called "democracy" to me. Maybe that isn't all bad. The European aristocrats had better taste in music than the current crowd.

My signs of hope are comments by Paulson and fed officials that they want the market system to work and cleaning out excess is necessary, bailing out homeowners would be big mistake, etc. Don't get me wrong - we have a many headed chimera we are facing and I am increasingly shifting my odds to a catabolic collapse - but for the moment Im only referring to finance - the deleveraging has already started...eg. higher margins announced this week for futures, etc. If given enough time of stability, the average investor, hedge fund, bank can reduce their leverage without the whole system going under, then the excesses in the economy can unfold naturally - not saying it will be pretty - but that would then give us a decade (with dramatically lower consumption) to figure out the energy and environmental problems, at least the best descent paths.

It does no good to anyone to sit here and type 'we are screwed'. If anyone really believed that, and that there was ZERO possiblity of any other course of action, why would they spend one minute on this or any website? The only answer I can imagine, is that they enjoy the novelty of it, or it increases their perceived relative fitness via spite (can't have what they have so it feels good to rain on their parade, etc.)

You do realize that if 'transfer of all wealth from the general public to the elite 'bankers' actually happens there will be a revolution. GINI coefficient can only be stretched so far before it breaks.

I see the finance problem pretty clearly - but I just don't have any answers, at least from a policy perspective; therefore I root for the middle ground that punishes people for risk but keeps system intact so we still have freedoms.

Thank you very much for your reply, Mr. Hagens. I appreciate any hopeful insights anyone has, and try to avoid falling into the Derrick Jensen black hole of "hope is a narcotic."

Still, I doubt very much if there will be a revolution any time soon, even when the "elite" have taken everything. It didn't happen in Europe for well over a thousand years into the development of the aristocratic system, and even now, a lot of people who have nothing at all support the notion of "royalty."

One possibility of the outcome of catabolic collapse is that the central governments and their media mouthpieces will be able to keep an ever-growing disenfranchised class well-enough fed and entertained that they don't revolt. Even now, on the street you don't see people blaming either the bankers or the Government for the "sub-prime mortgage crisis". Just framing it that way is brilliant -- we have the less poor blaming the more poor for the result of their decisions to buy houses they couldn't afford!

Edited to add this comment from the Automatic Earth (Debt Rattle for Mar 29 just posted)

America is about to hand over even the last few bits of control over its wallet to a group of private bankers. As usual, this happens under the cloak of a crisis; the 1907 crash led to the call for a strong central bank. 100 years later, democratic oversight of the nation's finances is about to vanish in its entirety.


We may not be screwed, but we surely will be changed

Jensen thinks that hope is a narcotic? What a brilliant man. I recall one of my earlier posts on TOD attempting to point out this very idea, despite its lack of novelty. "Religion is the opiate of the masses", after all.

In the end result, what is the difference between "hope", "faith", and "wishing it were so"?

Virtually nothing save for nuance.

You can hope as much as you want that you aren't mortal, and it won't change the fact that we all die.

But with investigation of the personally relevant emotional awareness, critical thinking, and integrated behavior, we discover that our hellish culture of destruction doesn't spring from the knowledge that we are mortal, it rests in the fear of not knowing how to live a meaningful, satisfying, human life in the meantime.

Defeating death can't be done. Learning what it means to be human up until that point, and how to feel about it and act on it, can.

"Hope" is part of what drove us into the hell we are in.

We need empathy, thoughts, and actions to get us out.

My best empathy, thoughts, and actions for our best collective feelings, thinkings, and doings.

710 - Thank-you for expressing the sobering message: Abandon All Hope!

That gives me hope!

'Defeating death can't be done. Learning what it means to be human up until that point, and how to feel about it and act on it, can."

That was worth repeating.


"It does no good to anyone to sit here and type 'we are screwed'."

I said that, and you know it.

How about this.

As long as we think that the people who got us into this catastrophe are
the same ones that are going to get us out, we're screwed.

And it does a lot of good to know that your situation as it currently exists is hopeless.

Once you get there, then other possibilities present themselves.

"I see the finance problem pretty clearly - but I just don't have any answers, at least from a policy perspective; therefore I root for the middle ground that punishes people for risk but keeps system intact so we still have freedoms."

Compromise now with these demons is death.

History is redolent with where we're heading.

All out war.

"I root for the middle ground that punishes people for risk but keeps system intact so we still have freedoms."

And since the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act, you haven't noticed that
our freedoms no longer exist.

We're somewhere around the Magna Carta not being signed yet in terms of personal freedoms.

Don't taze me bro! 8D

Enough on these pesky problems, let’s get to the BIG ONE!

$1000 Trillion in Derivatives.

Mac, a bit off topic but I know that you and I have both warned on TOD of what can happen to US forces in Iraq when the single N-S exit road in/out of Iraq is cut by Iraqi forces.

It has happened. Iraqi military forces sent south to fight Mahdi forces in Basra were intercepted at Nasariya and 'inflicted heavy casualties on them.'

Also, the 4,000 Brit troops at the Basra airport have elected 'not to join in the fighting'...Perhaps it's tea time?

In addition, there is this report, which leaves me to wonder if the repairs to oil infrastructure have really been completed and oil is flowing again...my guess is no with the heavy fighting going on in many Southern Iraq locations.

'The fighting also did damage to Iraq's infrastructure, as well as to oil facilities and pipelines, damage that might run into the billions of dollars.'


In more news from Iraq...

'Analysis: Iraqis' Basra fight not going well

A closely held U.S. military intelligence analysis of the fighting in Basra shows that Iraqi security forces control less than a quarter of the city, according to officials in both the United States and Iraq, and Basra's police units are deeply infiltrated by members of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army.'


'Iraqi police in Basra shed their uniforms, kept their rifles and switched sides

Abu Iman barely flinched when the Iraqi Government ordered his unit of special police to move against al-Mahdi Army fighters in Basra.

His response, while swift, was not what British and US military trainers who have spent the past five years schooling the Iraqi security forces would have hoped for. He and 15 of his comrades took off their uniforms, kept their government-issued rifles and went over to the other side without a second thought.'


Meanwhile, shrub said that all is going well...

His response, while swift, was not what British and US military trainers who have spent the past five years schooling the Iraqi security forces would have hoped for. He and 15 of his comrades took off their uniforms, kept their government-issued rifles and went over to the other side without a second thought.'

Those of us who remember Vietnam are finding this to be 'deja vu all over again'.

Hello ET,

FWIW [too bad our MSM doesn't keep us informed]:

MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by U.S. Armed Forces near Iran's borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.

"The latest military intelligence data point to heightened U.S. military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran," the official said, adding that the Pentagon has probably not yet made a final decision as to when an attack will be launched.
Full credit to LATOC member, TheOzarker, for first posting.

totoneila, I love your posts but please check the date on that story. It seems to be from 2007.

Russian intelligence sees U.S. military buildup on Iran border
17:31 | 27/ 03/ 2007

Print version

MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by U.S. Armed Forces near Iran's borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.

oops-my apologies to all--not enough coffee to get the synapses firing! Been busy watching LATOC go crazy!

FWIW, rumors are flying around Moscow. Word is, US will attack Iran on the 6th of April, 2008. Take this with several grains of salt...We have been hearing this stuff for years...

'Mar 26, 2007, 01:02

WASHINGTON DC, — The long awaited US military attack on Iran is now on
track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 am on April 6, the
Good Friday opening of Easter weekend, writes the well-known Russian
journalist Andrei Uglanov in the Moscow weekly ³Argumenty Nedeli.² Uglanov cites Russian military experts close to the Russian General Staff for his account.

The attack is slated to last for 12 hours, according to Uglanov, from 4 am until 4 pm local time. Friday is the sabbath in Iran. In the course of the attack, code named Operation Bite, about 20 targets are marked for bombing; the list includes uranium enrichment facilities, research centers, and laboratories.'...snip...


'Excerpt from report by Russian news agency RIA Novosti

Moscow, 30 March: Russian intelligence reports indicate that the US armed forces have in effect completed preparations for a possible military operation against Iran, a source in the Russian forces structures has told RIA Novosti.'

'The source did not rule out that in the event of a possible military operation, following a missile strike and the assessment of damage to Iran's armed forces, as well as once the public and political situation in that country after it has been attacked has been analysed, the Pentagon will take a decision on the start of a ground operation.'...snip...

'[Passage omitted: Col-Gen (retd) Leonid Ivashov's 21 March interview, in which he says he has "no doubt" the US will attack Iran; plus numbers on the US naval deployment in the Gulf]'


Russians insistent on U.S. Iran attack


Well...you know...Fallon did just resign!

It does no good to anyone to sit here and type 'we are screwed'.

I disagree. Recognition of the problem is a pre-requisite for a rational response. Right now, we have a systemic financial crisis that is global in scope. ALL possible outcomes lead to a situation that is worse, at least for Americans, than we have today. Some of the possible outcomes are truly horrific.

Even worse, we have an administration that has demonstrated repeatedly that it cares more for enriching friends and big campaign contributors than it does for the welfare of the US. The list of examples is legion: the invasion of Iraq, the reconstruction of Iraq, the response to Katrina, etc. Worse still, the same mindset prevails widely in the other two branches of Congress, as we can see from such things as the Bankruptcy "Reform" Law and the Medicare drug plan.

Paulson is thoroughly a creature of American Crony Capitalism. This is the same guy who repeatedly says he favors a "strong dollar policy", while actively doing things to weaken the dollar. He is, in common parlance, a liar. It is also important to remember that Bernanke, before becoming chairman of the Fed, was Bush's chief economic adivsor. He too is a Crony Capitalist through-and-through. There is virtually nothing this administration has done that hasn't made things worse for America, and Paulson and Bernanke are both "loyal Bushies".

Putting the current problems in the framework of "Shock Capitalism", there is little reason to expect that TPTB won't use this as another opportunity to further reduce our freedoms and further concentrate wealth in the hands of the few. My belief is that they are hoping exactly for a middle way that lets them suck a little more wealth out of the middle class, while keeping the "bread and circuses" sufficient to prevent actual rebellion. And if rebellion comes, well, they are making preparations for that too, as evidenced by Bush's various executive orders, domestic operations involving the US military, and the use of Blackwater domestically.

One of the reasons Shock Capitalism works is that people are too slow to realize they are being screwed. People are reluctant to recognize that general freedom and prosperity aren't what these guys are working towards. They accept that the loss of freedom and prosperity is a necessary response to the crisis (whatever that crisis happens to be). And so TPTB turn the temperature of the pot up a bit more, and the frogs don't jump out.

Except it isn't that kind of pot. Nous sommes dans un pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdes. (Hehe...I love that quote).

I prefer: 'We are freakin' doomed!' by the Mogambo Guru. Seems more of an attention grabber than 'we are screwed', but it conveys the same message. :)

Craig Roberts made a comment about US GDP and exports and their relationship to manufacturing. "A country whose imports exceed it's industrial production cannot close it's trade deficit by exporting more." Recent numbers he quotes: Current imports 14% of GDP, Current manufacturing 12% of GDP. We are not doomed, we are screwed. Especially when our government considers the making of ice cream "manufacturing." I don't think Blue Bell ice cream ever gets much beyond the US border in the form in which it is intended to be consumed. But it sure tastes good at the factory store in Brenhem, Texas. John

Yes, but contrary to the comments on TOD, the average American could care less. John Mccain has come out publicly and said he will continue the GWB legacy-maybe he will even ramp it up. The result? The guy is way ahead in the polls and the likely next President. IMO maybe a quarter of the populace gives a shit if Wall Street torches the country, so why try to stop the rain? These clowns are doing everything they can to help anyone going long in oil, gold or pretty well any commodity by destroying the US dollar so why not just accept it? Life goes on.

The Republicans were expected to lose more seats in Congress. They were losing in the last election also. Not likely to see the current situation in Iraq to be approved by voters. They may be tired of financing no bid oilfield contracts for Haliburton and building projects for a nation full of people who hate us. Obama's mother was White he seems to be diplomatic enough to inspire people to pull together. The United States might not want to afford McCain's vision of war. In 1776 they complained about being forced to bear the burden of housing British troops.

The Republicans [are] expected to lose more seats in Congress.

That's no problem.

A simple false flag operation can reverse the trend.
Sweep McCannonball into the Whitewash House
and pull many a Repub's in on his coat tails.

Duty calls.
Aye aye sir.
Our's is not to ask why,
Our's is just to do and die.

This is a great comment. I am forwarding it to some of my friends. Thanks.

Here's how far the system is from collapse: Las Vegas is still packed with tourists, and poker tournaments are still packed with amateurs who are paying up to a $20,000 buy-in to compete against people they have virtually no hope of beating.

Every trip I take to LA, the traffic is still heavy. There are still long lines at the bank and the grocery store. There are still long lines of Hummers and SUVs at the car wash closest to my house.

A house on my street got foreclosed after a flipper bought at the top. The house sold to a nice couple within a day of the bank putting it on the market, and I've had people knocking on my door ever since asking if the house is still for sale. And I'm in the Vegas area, where the situation is supposedly hopeless.

The solar contractor I've chosen is busy--there's a wait before I can get my system installed.

Even the lines at my closest Starbucks remain long.

The Fed is providing liquidity. They are not printing gobs of money. Oil prices are going up. The world is not at an end.

Meanwhile, in the background, shades of the Grapes of Wrath loom.

The Ontario, CA tent city is growing. http://www.dailybulletin.com/ci_8277825

Tent City: "They're in survival mode." http://www.knbc.com/news/15600317/detail.html

Yea, I live in LA and it still seems, on the surface, as normal as ever. But there is also a hint of frenzy, there is a subtle shift in the paradigm, there is discontent simmering as the masses struggle to maintain their balance, the status quo, the image of normalcy.


'The Fed is providing liquidity. They are not printing gobs of money.'

if u don't mind [or anyone] the difference???

Here in Waikiki, a new Trump building sold out almost immediately-IMO prime USA RE will do very well as the overall country implodes. In Kailua beach (20 minutes from Honolulu) a $24 million house just sold in three weeks.

Whups, there goes the neighborhood.

(I'm in Kailua in a self-built plywood home, and every time something sells for mega-millions, the tax assessors seem to apply the same value per square foot to all the other places that are just sitting there feeding termites. And this is before the tourist economy implodes! Ay caramba.)

Kailua looks beautiful. Re property taxes, count your blessings-they are a lot higher in Toronto. Florida is on a whole different (worse) level.

Yeah! Life is so bright we're all gonna' need sunglasses.

A hopeful sign of a helpful direction...

Bicycle business is brisk

"We're seeing a lot more people interested in commuting on their bicycles," he said. "I think it's obvious it's gas prices."

Unfortunately, bike choices at present are ludicrous.

First, the dumb BMX was used to replace flagging sales of practical - but market saturated - 10/12 speed derailleur [or hub gear] bikes. Then the idiotic 30 gear boutique money-pits arrived. Nowadays rims and chains are supposed to last months only of regular use. How many modern frames and forks will soldier on for 30+ years?? You need a widget for your boutique index gears? I hope its not over 2 years old, because they re-model them like Microsoft operating systems.

Apparently, it's now back to the 19th century with fixed wheel 'butcher's bikes' as another fad.

If you really want a long life, versatile, easy to service, cheap parts bike then start looking now..because many of the sensible parts stopped being made 10 - 25 years ago! Copy the bikes that were around mid 1980s. Say no to stinking indexing and all that rot.

It needs touring rims, lots of spokes, simple gearing 5-7 max rear, fatter [longer life] chains, and all the spares and tools you will ever need to keep it going.

Because when you go in that bike shop in 10 years time, the yoof at the counter won't have even seen a bike like that, let alone sell you any parts..

Thankfully I have just spent the last year doing just that, and I think I have all the parts to keep me going.

You're describing my store room. BMX good source of cart parts. But vintage cro-moly, the rock of ages.

Amen, brother. Still riding the non-indexed cannondale 12 speed racing bike I bought in '85 and haven't found a compelling reason to replace it yet. It's paint job has gone to hell, but since it's aluminum, that hasn't been a problem from a practical standpoint.

Hello PedalPower,

Since Leanan is still on vacation, maybe this SpiderWebRiding posting cut and pasted from a LATOC thread started by me won't get deleted:

Personally, I think the idea of women giving the recumbent male-railbiker a prolonged lapdance during the long downhill glide back into town could really incentivize the growth of this SpiderWebRiding System. She will save a lot of food calories as opposed to her foot-hiking, the railbike could also carry her loaded backpack, and the additional weight will be a plus for the downhill regenerative recharge cycle. Greatly reduced chance of injury too, such as a turned ankle, or back injury from the heavy backpack load.

Of course, studies will need to be undertaken to determine if the non-pedaling male is subsequently burning more personal calories on the downhill section than the arduous uphill pedaling section. :)

Perhaps some minor speedbumps could be welded onto the downhill railtrack for greater overall caloric efficiency? :)
A humorous posting that railbiking could be much more fun than your standard bicycle!

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

Pedalpower, I was talking last week with a guy on a big ol' awesome Harley, we were talking motorcycles, and having a good old time, then I asked him what he did for a living, and he said something like, "Bicycle shop, business is great" and took off.

Good to see you around, Fleam.

Always enjoy your comments.


Steve LeVine

The Oil and the Glory:
The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune
on the Caspian Sea


Book info link (Amazon):

"... Central Asia as oil lamp and potential powder keg in the realpolitik of the next few years. A complex story rendered comprehensible, with much drama and intrigue."

Okay, help me out here. This was sent by my broker at Wachovia. Not sure if she thought it humorous or what. It was forwarded to her. I'd like to respond with something that maybe she could send back up the trail, if indeed, this is not true. I normally don't respond to these, but this one contained some info I haven't heard before.

RR, Ron, others... what would your response be?

Pardon the length.



I don't know what you guys are paying for gasoline.... but here in California we are also paying higher, up to $3.50 per gallon. But my line of work is in petroleum for about 31 years now, so here are some tricks to get more of your money's worth for every gallon..

Here at the Kinder Morgan Pipeline where I work in San Jose , CA, we deliver about 4 million gallons in a 24-hour period thru the pipeline. One day is diesel the next day is jet fuel, and gasoline, regular and premium grades. We have 34-storage tanks here with a total capacity of 16,800,000 gallons.

Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role.

A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.

When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3)stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some other liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.

One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space . Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.

Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up--most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom. Hope this will help you get the most value for your money.



Gas rationing in the 80's worked even though we grumbled about it. It might even be good for us! The Saudis are boycotting American goods. We should return the favor.

An interesting thought is to boycott their GAS.

Every time you fill up the car, you can avoid putting more money into Saudi Arabia. Just buy from gas companies that don't import their oil.

I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil companies are the best to buy gas from and which major companies import Middle Eastern oil.

These companies import Middle Eastern oil:

Shell........................... 205,742,000 barrels

Chevron/Texaco......... 144,332,000 barrels

Exxon /Mobil............... 130,082,000 barrels

Marathon/Speedway... 117,740,000 barrels

Amoco............................62,231,000 barrels

Citgo gas is from South America.

If you do the math at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION! (oil is now $90 - $105 a barrel

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:

Sunoco..................0 barrels

Conoco.................0 barrels

Sinclair................0 barrels

B P/Phillips............0 barrels

Hess.......................0 barrels

ARC0....................0 barrels

If you go to Sunoco.com, you will get a list of the station locations near you.

All of this information is available from the Department of Energy and each is required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing.

I'm sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300)..and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) .. and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we w ill have reached over THREE MILLION consumers !!!!!!! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!

If it goes one level further, you guessed it ..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. How long would all that take?


That definitely comes under the head of "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic"

Edgy, I find the post absolutely silly. First, the temperature of the ground at the depth where the storage tank is buried will vary slightly from winter to summer but not from day to night. The change is too fast and too little from day to night to affect the ground more than a few inches deep.

Filling your tank up slowly rather than fast will make far to little a difference to be detected. Pumping slowly may cause fewer vapors but because you take longer you still will probably lose just as much. It should be a wash or very close. At any rate the the difference, if any, would be negligible.

And the rest of the post about boycotting companies that import from Saudi Arabia is just silly. We get these emails all the time, about boycotting certain companies because of Chavez, or Saudi, or just to get the price of gasoline down. From time to time they are posted here on TOD and Leanan usually deletes them forthwith. But she is on vacation so this one slipped through. They are not worth a bucket of warm spit and should be ignored.

Ron Patterson

And the rest of the post about boycotting companies that import from Saudi Arabia is just silly.

Right. Silly idea that how you choose to spend your money where would have ANY impact! Best stick to Voting every 4 years where your vote counts.

Eric, perhaps I was mistaken. Perhaps you should buy your gas from Conoco instead of Shell. That will cause Shell to buy a lot fewer barrels from Saudi Arabia and bring them to their knees. That will teach them to mess with folks who know the power of a boycott, and know how to set one into motion with chain letter email.

Hell it worked with bringing down the price of gas by boycotting the majors didn't it? Didn't it???

Ron Patterson

Eric, perhaps I was mistaken.

You are. The only vote you have is where you spend your dollars.

The actual gas-selling is not where the money is in the gas-selling business. The money is in selling the snacks and other crap from the "C-Store".

You are welcome for your education, yet again.

That will teach them to mess with folks who know the power of a boycott, and know how to set one into motion with chain letter email.

*Ohhh Look! A wild snark* Should it be hunted like snipe, then cleaned with a bucket of prop-wash?

Eric, oil is a globally traded commodity so it would only matter if you didn't buy it at all (and were joined in the movement by the rest of the world).

But what is not globally traded is the profit margin in the local C-Store on the bottles of water, bags of chips and other stuff people buy.

I'm all for people taking some form of action like this. Keeps 'em from shooting up the place.

Here's something short and sweet that will actually make a difference in gas usage and energy utilization:

1. Accelerate gradually, don't accelerate quickly.
2. Don't speed.
3. Avoid coming to a complete stop, avoid hard braking, and decelerate gradually.
4. Visit The Oil Drum at theoildrum.com.

These tips may not apply to a hybrid. I find that I get better mileage accelerating quickly so as to take advantage of the electric-assist motor, get up to cruising speed, then find the 'sweet spot' where my mileage indicator is at max. for the speed.

No - an engine loses volumetric efficiency when the throttle plates are closed. Accelerate at 75% throttle in as high a gear as you can pull, but do not let the rpms climb too much or frictional losses will grow too high. If you use too much throttle you'll get into the high-load enrichment system, which will kill efficiency. Look into the BMW eta engine of the 80's which used relatively large displacement engines at low rpms - AMC was doing similar things.

If you do not have a manual trans where you can control this, get a different vehicle.

Here are five more tips that will save money and improve your life.

1. Move to a walk community that is close to work with easy access to mass transit.
2. Learn how to read a bus & train schedule and use them. (Don't be afraid of those people sitting next to you. They're called neighbors. Say Hello!)
3. When you have to drive combine trips.
4. Put one foot in front of the other...
5. After you get comfortable with steps 1 through 4 take the big leap. Put a for sale sign on the family wagon. (this is the scary one. I'm not there yet!)


The temperature of the gas does matter. Here is a story about a bunch of US lawsuits about "warm gasoline" being sold to customers. However, an underground storage tank has a huge thermal inertia. I find it hard to believe that it would change much throughout the course of a day. However, seasonal differences would gradually warm and cool the tank. Oh, and wholesalers do compensate for temperature.

As for evaporation, it is true that gasoline is volatile (has a high evaporation rate). However, in a closed space, net loss of liquid through evaporation only happens until the partial pressure of gasoline in the air space reaches a certain level. Then the reabsorption of gasoline back into the liquid would balance the evaporation into the air. The amount of gasoline in the air space of a typical automobile at equilibrium would be tiny. So, it is maybe something to worry about if you have a large air space, like a storage tank. But I would think the extra weight of always having a half-full tank would burn more gasoline than you're saving from internal evaporation loss.

That dirt is stirred up when storage tanks are refueled sounds plausible to me.

I can't decide if the vapor return issue is significant or not. I read somewhere that untrapped vapors escaping into the atmosphere from gasoline nozzles is a significant source of air pollution, which is why vapor capturing nozzles are required in a lot of places. However, compared to waht a car burns, I would think the percentage loss is tiny. I'm not about to take 3x as long to fill my tank, just to save a couple pennies.

To the guy yesterday who was turned down for a Glock 40 due "bad moral character". You should be thankful they kept you from buying such a useless weapon. In a firefight its a pretty good choice, but for hunting its a lousy choice. What are you planning to do more of post peak? Try getting a 4in 357 revolver and later on a Marlin 1894 in the same caliber. Both will last for decades unless left in salt water and with proper loads (light and heavy) keep you fed for a long time in a SHTF situation.

Also, revolvers and lever actions are much faster to reload when preloaded magazines are empty. The Load/Shoot/Load aspect of a lever action is something always overlooked by the "black rifle" crowd. Once the mags are empty or lost, loading a lever or double action revolver suddenly gets alot faster than everything else.

The 357 is much easier to reload (the catridge) for than the 40 as well, something that will be key post peak. These weapons also have the all important "non-threatening" appearance that will keep you in good graces with any local law enforcement thats around.

Good luck. If you are still having problems join the NRA and try to buy it again. If you are still turned down, give them a call and let the lawyers do their magic. Primary problem with any database, something is always wrong with it.

Opinions on personal hardware are legion.
For the first and last word on tne subject, get this book:

Boston's Gun Bible
Boston T. Party


Going deer hunting with a rifle chambered for .357? Might as well hunt with the .357 hand gun.

Better off with something between .222 and .30-06, good 4X scope and iron sights, muzzle velocity greater than 2800 fps.

Dual use pistol/rifle cartridges are waaay over rated. Penalty falls on the rifle.

I was going to check on buying a gun then realized they make the customer pay the fee, and that $25 or so is almost a week's income for me.

But since I'm headed back to the bay area, not really in the market for a gun right now. I AM working on physical fitness and have some Sabre spray, that stuff is pretty nasty.

Of course this isn't as good as a '06 or 30-30, but if you are going to be spending your time hunting deer you are going to be very disappointed, tired and hungry. A pistol is primarily for defense. The whole purpose of having one catridge for both is lots of ammo so you don't run low. As a rifle, the 357 not the best by far, but winchester 357 loads can get up 1900fps in a Marlin, good enough for 150 yards with a peep sight. 38 special loads work good for head shots at geese, turkey etc. Not very sporting, but if you're hungry..... Alot easier to find than deer and you don't have to waste precious salt to preserve the meat since you'll eat most of it that day.

"Combat weapons" are pretty useless for anything except two legged predators. The obvious exception here being anything in 308/30-06 or a 1911/45. The 223 would just wound the big ones, make a mess of anything small, plus everyone I know who has one says there are very picky about ammo.

'The whole purpose of having one cartridge for both is lots of ammo so you don't run low.'

What you say makes no sense what so ever. Why would one run low on ammo because they chose to use two different calibers, one for handgun, one for rifle? The storage of ammo for the future should have been completed long ago. If one runs out of ammo it is because of their own lack of planning.

'1900 fps in a Marlin with special loads.'

So, one is going to carry a 'special load' for the rifle and a normal pistol load for the handgun? Why not carry a real rifle with the abilities inherent in a high velocity cartridge since one is going to carry two seperate loads? Again, your contention makes no sense.

'combat weapons are pretty useless for anything except two legged predators.'

This is the only thing that you said that does make sense.

'The .223 would just wound the big ones.'

Wrong. I have killed many deer, antelope, several elk, and 2 moose with a .243. I could have used a .223, .270 or .222 to accomplish the same thing. All were one shot kills. The shooting and tuning of a rifle is done from a bench rest on a range. High velocity rifles, no matter the caliber, kill by shock. When the bullet strikes and mushrooms or explodes like shrapnel, it creates huge overpressure in the blood vessels and arteries and usually the animals heart stops immediately. This does not happen with a low velocity pistol bullet that simply punches a hole. It also does not work with a .357 cartridge that leaves the muzzle at 1900 fps, because by the time that bullet travels 150 yards it has shed a lot of velocity. Hunting should be done from a stand or cover, the hunter remaining motionless untill the quary presents itself. 'Scouting the terrain' is done prior to the hunt in order to locate an obvious game trail for the hunter to overlook. The shot is anticlimatic and automatic. Only fools attempt to 'track' a deer or other quary on their turf. A walk in the woods is a fine thing, but it is not hunting.

BTW, more deer have been killed by small game hunters using .22 LRs than all high velocity calibers combined. A behind the ear shot on a deer's head from a .22 will drop it in it's tracks.

Please do not post on subjects that you are not familiar with unless you are preface them with 'I think'. Obviously you are mouthing what you have read in gun rags, written by scribblers attempting to sell guns. You could cause readers of your posts to waste money on useless rifles chambered for pistol cartridges.

38 special loads work good for head shots at geese, turkey etc. Not very sporting

Head shots are a fine sporting thing. But considering the size of the bullet VS the size of the head - the misses and lack of energy dissapation of the round is why the law does not allow for head shots.

.22 cal rimfire VS turkey is legal in some places. But you might be farther ahead to get yourself a spring-powered break-barrel .22 air gun for your small game.

A .243 works VS deer. But the last deer I dropped with a 243 left the copper jacket OUTSIDE the deer after hitting a rib. Most of the lead was inside the deer - a bb sized exit wound on the other side.

The Clean Energy Scam

And now a word from a more widely read MSM publication. Might there be some hope?

But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it's dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.


Time magazine! Hurray!

They also ran this article on Peak Oil.

I did not remember that - I was not then PO aware.


It's not as if nobody predicted this. The true believers in what's called peak oil--a motley crew of survivalists, despisers of capitalism, a few billionaire investors and a lot of perfectly respectable geologists--have long cited the middle to end of this decade as a likely turning point.

I am actually none of these - well maybe motley. Can I still play?


Hello TODers,

My guess is that '3 Days of the Condor' is Moammar Gadhafi's favorite film [what worries him the most]:

'Your turn is next,' Gadhafi warns Arab leaders after US toppling of Saddam
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Why not 'Blade Runner'?

Redford's "And f*ck the Wall Street Journal!" is one of my favorite lines. What an insightfully paranoid and covertly subversive movie.

As I posted before if things get desperate the public won't care about nicities, they will want their leaders to get the oil for them, doing whatever it takes. All you hippy anti war types won't matter. The movie should worry Gadaffi & co.

Sure, everything will be fine-America`s leaders are working overtime worrying about the sheeple-they will just go get them everything they need-a chicken in every pot-those damn hippies don`t understand nothin.

'There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders...' Lord Acton

Itz da 'merkin whey, rite wxman?

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela is sending to China all the oil it previously shipped to a U.S. refinery jointly owned with Exxon Mobil amid a legal battle between the OPEC nation and the U.S. oil giant, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Friday.


Dog Food - freakin' Dog Food

Just bought the monthly 28 pound bag of EVO for the two GSDs.

$62.00 - up from $57.00 last month and $52.00 three months ago.

When I asked I was told transportation costs - and this from the store owner who rides a bike to-from work (and elsewhere). I, on the other hand, had to drive about 15 miles of not-too-bike friendly territory to get the food since EVO is of limited distribution.

Well, at least they (the GSDs) are worth it.


Great charts from Brian Pretti (as usual) re the USA home equity refis http://www.financialsense.com/Market/wrapup.htm

The Bakken formation has been getting some mention outside the usual oil related blogs. While tracking down some of the original sources in search of flow rates instead of the usual reserve estimates I found this in EOG Resources SEC filing:

In Mountrail County, North Dakota, EOG has reported successful drilling from the Bakken Formation. The Wenco #1-30H, in which EOG has a 52 percent working interest, was completed to sales at the end of September at an initial production rate of 1,930 barrels of oil per day (Bopd), gross. Also in Mountrail County, the Austin #1-02H was completed to sales in October at an initial production rate of 2,000 Bopd. EOG has a 100 percent working interest in the well, which is located nine miles north of existing production. This is the northernmost location that EOG has drilled to date. To further confirm the northern extension of the field, following completion of the Austin #1-02H, EOG drilled an offset well, the Austin #2-03H that will be completed in November. Based on shows during drilling, EOG expects the well to produce at a rate similar to that of the Austin #1-02H. EOG has an 81 percent working interest in the Austin #2-03H. In the North Dakota Bakken Play, where it has accumulated over 175,000 net acres, EOG plans to increase drilling activity from six to eight rigs in early 2008.

click on link to
Oct 29, 2007 8-K Current Report 1,065k

The more meaningful numbers would be the production rates at the one year, two year and three year dates.

For example, I've had a couple of wells in Texas that initially tested at close to 1,000 BOPD, with ultimate recoveries of 50,000 to 100,000 barrels.

The Bakken Play increasingly reminds me of the Austin Chalk Play in Texas.

PNM electric integrated resource planning released by email its draft report minus Monte Carlo simulations on Wednesday March 26, 2008.

We were in Brownsville, TX at that time.

PNM seemed long on demand projections and short on resource projections.

All that changed.

Here are three of the more interesting pieces of information presented in the report.

PNM electric generation facilities.

Here's the caption to the above audacious plot.

3.5 Load and Resources Figure 3-5 illustrates the current load and resources balance. It is based on the Load and Resources table shown in Appendix D. The L&R table reflects the existing resources and mid load forecast documented in this report. Through the planning period, existing resources decline while projected demand increases.

I was pleasantly suprised.

Technical people, as opposed to liberal arts and lawyer educated, prepared this first report draft.

If we had economists preparing the report, I am sure that they would tell us demand was equal to supply, because that is what happens with demand destruction.

Actually, economists are right. It is called "Lights Out !"

Best Hopes for Fewer Economists,


Global Food Crisis

The United States (US) is currently using about 9% of its wheat, 25% of its corn and about 15% of its grain in general to produce biofuel.
The world may be seeing the commencement of a re-run - on a possibly 100-fold greater scale - of the man-made World War 2 Bengali Holocaust in which 6-7 million people perished in Bengal and in the adjoining provinces of Assam, Bihar and Orissa under the merciless British “scorched earth policy” when the price of rice doubled and finally doubled again.
The intellectual obscenity is the falsity of the proposition that biofuels represent a “green” solution to fossil fuel burning and the “peak oil” phenomenon
The biofuel-driven escalation of world grain and food prices is the biggest story in the world today - overshadowing the horrendous carnage of the Bush Wars (post-invasion excess deaths in the Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories total 1.7-2.2 million and 3.3-6.6 million, respectively)

Stuck in our cars on the highway to hell

CLIMATE change, peak oil, mounting traffic congestion and planning inertia have given Melbourne a transport headache.
Melbourne embraced the car with astonishing speed. In 1951, only one Melburnian in 10 drove to work, but by 1974 two-thirds did so.
Melbourne is now so dependent on the car that there may seem to be no way out. Yet if it took only 20 years for us to get hooked on the car, perhaps it's not too short a time to cure our addiction.
It's no longer good enough to release new residential land without a transport plan. And it's time someone looked again at our ossified suburban bus system. After all, it's in the outer suburbs that the poorest people now live and, as Ross Garnaut observed last week, that's where the high cost of our addiction to automobility is likely to be felt most acutely.

No kidding. I'm now the proud owner of a motorcycle and a van (that has serious problems to be repaired) while if I were still in the SF bay area, I'd not only be working and making a real living, but I'd be the proud owner of one, maybe two, bicycles. And those gotten used and repaired myself.

I'd have to classify this area as a hyper-suburb of California, and there's some amazing poverty out here. There is no public transpo to speak of, and you at times will see some ragged figure out on Hwy 89, walking, hoping to make it to Prescott 25 miles away. It is a walk of desperation and hunger. Generally someone in a car who's feeling brave will give 'em a ride, so far.

Ace and WestTexas have commented today on an emerging global food shortage. Biofuels are partly to blame. There have also been droughts and bad harvests. You may have noticed that wheat,corn and rice stockpiles have been declining for several years.

I'm thinking things may get dramatically worse in 2-3 years when ug99 reaches India.

Apparently this new form of wheat stem rust was detected in Iran early this year, having been blown up from Yemen by Hurricane Gonu in 2007. It can be expected to reach India in 2010-2011 after having cross-bred with wild varieties in Iran. India and Pakistan produce 100 million tonnes of wheat per year between them. Crop yields could be reduced by 20% (up to 70% in some areas)

China also produces around 100 million tonnes per year of wheat. However the Chinese have started a crash program to produce strains resistent to the new rust ( a 5-8 year process normally) so will likely be prepared when it arrives in China some time after 2012.

All the experts seem to be talking "when" not if. Apparently these things are fairly predictable in their spread, and they already know that the most commonly grown modern varieties are suceptible.

The likely outcome is a 20 million tonne shortfall for several years while new varieties are breed up. This is enough food to feed 100 million people at 2000 calories per day. If it is not available widespread starvation is possible, which implies that govermnents in South Asia will need to undertake massive aid programs, subsiside food, import wheat from the USA, Canada and Australia, etc.

I would expect ethanol to get some very, very bad press at a time when grain prices have skyrocketed out of reach of the poor due to shortages, and goverments in developing countries are struggling to cope with a food crisis.

More conjecture about attack on Iran could cause much higher oil prices.

Saudi Newspaper: Prepare for radioactive fallout from US nuclear attack on Iran March 29, 2008

The Saudi government is now preparing plans to deal with "any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards" that may arise from an attack on Iran's nuclear reactors. This was reported by a top Saudi newspaper, Okaz
Egyptian report that a nuclear sub has been ordered by Bush into the Gulf,
We don't know what the Saudis told Cheney in private -- or even more to the point, what he told them. But the release of this story now, just after his departure, would seem to be a clear indication that the Saudis have good reason to fear a looming attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, and that they are actively preparing for it.

War with Iran may have begun with Offensive in Iraq March 29, 2008

The United States military offensive against Iran may have begun with a swiftly escalating series of operations directed against the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which had been observing a six month old cease-fire.
Overall, US and Iraqi government forces are expected to continue a general offensive against the Mahdi Army in violation of the six month cease-fire, while claiming Iran is responsible for attacks on US forces. Finally, if a bit of tea reading can be forgiven, Bush's confidence and high spirits this week appear to be of the "I have decided" sort. The relief seen just prior to the Iraq invasion: Where he decided to go to war, so the hard part was over, for him, as he sleep like a baby, having made what was arguably the worst strategic blunder in American history.

New UN Sanctions Make US-Iran War More Likely March 10, 2008

Passage of the third United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran makes a war between the United States and Iran more likely.
It is likely that the Bush administration will now move swiftly, within the next few weeks, to use this authority to create a casus belli for attacking Iran.
While there is some chance of stabilizing the situation early in the sequence of escalating events, this would require the concerted efforts of responsible US, Iranian, and international governing authorities, provided Bush can be persuaded to halt the attacks, the Iranians to limit their response to within their borders, and the rest of the world's governments and populace to respond with sufficient restraint. But history gives small comfort about such a turn of events involving nations with irresponsible leadership and substantial resources.

The relief seen just prior to the Iraq invasion: Where he decided to go to war, so the hard part was over, for him, as he sleep like a baby, having made what was arguably the worst strategic blunder in American history

He could, unfortunately, surpass himself :-(

I wonder about the sudden meeting with Putin. When is it scheduled ?


The meeting between Bush and Putin is scheduled for April 6 to discuss missile defense and the future of US Russian relations.

McCain's comments about Russia are worrying.

Cold War Chill in McCain Remarks on Russia Mar 30, 2008

Senator John McCain made clear this week that for him, Europe ends at the border with Russia.
Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, used his strongest and most bellicose words in describing his views of Russia. He called for throwing Russia out of the Group of Eight, the club that is supposed to be made up of the world’s wealthiest industrialized democracies.
Foreign policy experts say that in many ways, Mr. McCain’s strong words about Russia reflect a chill setting in on the previously warm relationship which President Bush purportedly had with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin.

I said it upthread and it bears repeating again....Fallon resigned for a reason.

Fallon may have resigned but was probably fired by Bush and Cheney for a reason according to the Jerusalem Post.

Washington Watch: Haman is a crybaby Mar 29, 2008

Iran maintains its nuclear program is purely peaceful so Israel shouldn't complain when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says "the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed," and the commander of the Revolutionary Guards declares "the cancerous bacterium called Israel" would soon be eradicated by "radiation."
Cheney's tough talk was echoed by Sen. John McCain, who told Israelis that the Iranians "are obviously pursuing nuclear weapons."
But, according to Cheney, public opinion is meaningless. When told last week by ABC News's Martha Radditz that "two thirds of Americans" say the Iraq war is "not worth fighting," Cheney said, "So?"

She followed up, "So - you don't care what the American people think?"

Cheney replied, "No."
Last week President Bush said Iran "want(s) to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people," particularly in the Mideast, "and that's unacceptable."

He and Cheney are as certain today that Iran is pursuing nukes as they were Saddam was before they decided to invade five years and 4,000 American deaths ago. They may be right this time, but their track record undermines their credibility and undercuts international support for the anti-Iran effort.

That may have contributed to the resignation - probably firing - of Adm. William Fallon, the Centcom commander, who reportedly feared Bush and Cheney were looking to settle scores with Iran before leaving office.
Military action may be the only option left that will neutralize that threat, but it is hard to see how the Bush administration - alone in a world that distrusts it and no longer believes its "axis of evil" claims, and with a bloody record of military mismanagement - can successfully accomplish it.

Rightyo...that was my implication...Fallon leaving is not a good sign...there are no more roadblocks within our military for the Bush/Chen agenda...hitch the wagons...we're going to Tehran!!

Starting a war with Iran is way beyond stupid - it is absolutely insane.

The bulk of supplies for American forces are delivered by ship to ports at the northern end of the Gulf. Iran could interdict those supplies either at the Straits of Hormuz or (more likely) by massive land assaults on the land routes north of Basra. Here is one analyst's view:


Of course, the fallback position is to then use nuclear weapons. If that happens, I hate to imagine the consequences. For one thing, 3 billion asians are going to wake up to the fact that the U.S. will resort to any means to control their energy supplies. And they will immediately start to get serious about defending their interests:


Once radiation starts to fall in New Delhi and Beijing, the American dream will be over.

Bill Lind says from your link dated Mar 26, 2008
that "The purpose of this column is not to warn of an imminent assault on Iran, though personally I think it is coming, and soon."

Lew Rockwell, on March 28, 2008, said

Terrible rumors from Russia continue to swirl around the Middle East that the Cheney-Bush junta has decided to bomb Iran on April 4th or 6th, targeting not only nuclear-power research facilities but ships, planes, antiaircraft installations, and the Iranian pentagon. Apparently the nuclear-power reactor being built by Russian companies will be spared, but not much else. Will it happen? Certainly the neocon hate network is working overtime to make it so. Bush fired the anti-neocon Admiral Fallon. One thing we know for sure: it will be the typical Bush administration snafu, with horrific consequences for the region and the world, not to speak of the Iranian people, and reap much trouble for the US empire. Indeed, it could mark the end of the empire if, as Bill Lind worries, the Iranians in retaliation cut off water-food-ammo supply routes to US troops in Iraq, and, with the help of Shiite militians, capture large numbers of them.

Lind was also writing about a US attack on Iran in October 2006.

"The third and final act in the national tragedy that is the Bush administration may soon play itself out. The Okhrana reports increasing indications of “something big” happening between the election and Christmas. That could be the long-planned attack on Iran."

Waddington of the Washington Times said this on March 30, 2008
Iran's meddling in Iraq

But this weekend the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, blamed Tehran fairly and squarely for the barrage of rockets which have hit the Green Zone over the past week. "The rockets that were launched at the Green Zone," he said, "were Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets," and he added that the groups that carried out the attack were funded and trained by the Iranian regime's Qods Force.
Iran's support for rogue elements in Iraq has increased rather than diminished since Mr. Ahmadinejad traveled to Baghdad this year
It is in this volatile climate that the U.S. searches for a solution to end the Iranian regime's destructive influence in Iraq. Many believe that the solution lies with the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq's Diyala province, which is dedicated to bringing an end to the present Iranian regime
Following Vice President Richard Cheney's trip to the region to obtain greater support for isolating Iran, the U.S. would surely therefore do well to look at the MEK, which has the means and the will to bring about change in Iran, as a solution to this entire crisis.

Fallon has resigned but Petraeus hasn't and is finding reasons for Bush and Cheney to attack Iran.

The temporary replacement for Fallon is his deputy Martin Dempsey.

It is not clear whether Dempsey eventually will get that assignment or stay at Central Command. For now, Dempsey will remain at three-star rank, meaning he will be outranked by one of the commanders nominally in his charge: Army Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad.
Bush is not expected to nominate a successor to Fallon until after Petraeus reports to Congress April 8-9 on his assessment of conditions in Iraq and his recommendations on how to proceed.

Bush is meeting Putin on April 6 and the nuclear power reactor in Iran built by Russia is not a target.

Next, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown will visit Bush on April 16, 2008.
"Bush is expected to press Brown for more robust backing for the US attempt to increase international pressure on Iran to prevent it from obtaining the means to build nuclear weapons."

Bush and Cheney are discussing Iran issues with many world leaders. Let's hope a well planned long term solution is realised.

Petraeus is a lapdog.

Agreed, Bush likes military leaders to say what he wants to hear.

Now, Bush will not allow Fallon to testify about Iraq to Congress in about a week. Surely, the public has a right to hear what Fallon has to say.

March 28, 2008


It is more accurate to say that Bush heeds the advice of generals and commanders who say what he wants to hear. If they don’t, they are soon replaced.
General Petraeus has turned out to be the commander of George W. Bush’s dreams. Having risen through the ranks by serving as an aide to senior Generals, Petraeus was already well-versed in how to be a yes-man. When Bush tells him to put lipstick on a pig, General Petraeus salutes and asks, “What color lipstick, Sir?”
On the other hand, Bush’s choice of Admiral William Fallon to be the Chief of Central Command is a mystery. Oh sure, he came highly recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates described him as “one of the best strategic thinkers in uniform today” (CNN, 1/5/07); but it was pretty clear that he was not going to be Bush’s yes-man--in fact, he hated yes-men. “Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be ‘an ass-kissing little chickenshit’ and added, ‘I hate people like that’.
Thomas P.M. Barnett, expressed the widely held view that Admiral Fallon may be the only thing preventing the lunatics in the White House from starting a war with Iran before they leave office.
Privately, Fallon is said to have vowed that there would be no war with Iran on his watch, “implying that he would quit rather than accept such a policy”
“I know there have been requests, in fact, from members of Congress to have Adm. Fallon testify with Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, and I can tell you that Adm. Fallon will not be testifying”--Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell AP, 3/22/08
“Congress needs to determine immediately whether Admiral Fallon’s resignation is another example of truth tellers being forced to the sidelines in the Bush administration. His departure must not clear the way for a rush to war with Iran.”--Senator John Kerry(D-MA), 3/11/08

It is obvious what is happening. Fallon, described by Sec Def Gates 'he is one of the best strategic thinkers in uniform today'. Fallon has laid the plans for an attack on Iran, which was his job. Fallon objects to attacking Iran which would mean implementing the attack plans he has devised. So, Fallon is resigning or being fired.

Is what we are witnessing a giant stage setting, a giant bluff? Since Iran has refused to cave in to bluffs in the past I do not think that the neo-cons would try another one.

Bush/Cheney said long ago that they are afraid to leave office without reducing Iran's leverage over neighboring countries in the ME. If Iran is left unhindered it will pursue it's current path of selling oil for currencies other than the dollar. That same path brought an invasion of Iraq and a hangman's noose for Saddam.

I believe what is about to happen is self evident. There is an outside chance that what we are witnessing is another bluff, but the odds against that are long.

Speaking of long...it might be a good time to go long oil. I am not an investment adviser...far from it...but this looks like a good play to me. At any rate April 6th is fast approaching so we might find out what is in the works soon.

Bush is accepting Putin's invitation for a meeting in the Russian resort city of Sochi on April 6,...


This is a hastily done, last minute meeting. Iran will be on the agenda. A pre-attack meeting ??

BUT Bush will be in DC when/if he bombs Iran.

NOT April 6th.


Bush would be foolish to be in DC when Iran is attacked. He would be safer in Air Force One. No one knows what cells with what weapons might be in or near DC, ready to move if called upon.

Neither you nor I know when Iran will be attacked, if it is attacked at all. To make a flat statement: NOT April 6th, is not wise.

Another thing to consider is the push in Iraq to subdue the Mahdi Army. I think the timing of the Iraqi/America offensive to cripple the forces of Al Sadr are very much tied to a possible attack on Iran...Because once an attack on Iran begins all hell is going to break loose in Iraq.

As I said up thread...long oil. :)

The Bush administration will probably attack Iran. But the reasons are IMO mostly to do with domestic issues....a war with Iran will be the chance to start gas and food rationing in a big way. Before the economic SHTF and they lose control of the rationing process.

Being deep inside potentially hostile territory is NOT the best place for the Commander-in-Chief when a surprise attack is launched.

Remember, Putin & Co have done some nasties (Ukraine Presidential candidate poisoned, Polonium in London), they control air space and communications to Air Force One in Russia can be jammed. And whose nuclear reactor is under construction in Iran ?

NOT April 6 (local time in Russia).


Are you arguing that investing in contracts is a good way to handle a war risk that if it happens would lead to major disruptions in the oil trade? Why are you sure such contracts will be honored?