DrumBeat: April 1, 2008

The Accidental Environmentalist: An oil man reconsiders the future of black gold.

Matthew Simmons, head of the Houston-based investment firm Simmons and Company, has made a fortune by investing billions of dollars in the oil and gas industry. Increasingly, though, Simmons has been telling the industry what it doesn’t want to hear—that our planet’s oil is in short supply. Now considered one of the world’s leading experts on the theory of peak oil—which says we are near or have already reached the peak capacity for oil production worldwide—George W. Bush’s former energy advisor foresees a steep decline in oil output and profits. His predictions, outlined in his book Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, took the industry by storm, naming names and contending that Saudi Arabia doesn’t have as much oil as it claims. With barrel prices passing the hundred-dollar mark at the beginning of this year, Simmons’s predictions seem to have more gravity than ever. But, unlike many like-minded thinkers, Simmons believes that current alternative energy strategies are pipe dreams, environmentalists are deeply misguided, and global warming is nowhere close to our largest problem. GOOD sat down with him on the porch of his stately Maine home to get his take on the future of the energy business.

Gas stations look in stores for profits

Oil's rise has been driven by investors snapping up crude futures as a hedge against a falling dollar and inflation. But while gas prices have tried to keep pace, demand for gasoline has fallen, limiting refiners' pricing power.

...That pain travels down the chain to retailers, who base the prices they charge consumers on what they expect they'll have to pay for their next shipment of gas. Many make no more than a few cents a gallon selling gas, a margin that evaporates once credit card fees are tacked on.

Some decide it's not worth the bother. A station in Bushnell, Fla., stopped selling gas entirely a month ago after its owner determined he couldn't make money on it. He's not alone; many refiners have cut back on gasoline production in recent weeks due to low profit margins.

But most stations view gas as a loss leader — something they're willing to take a loss on, or accept a very small profit for selling — under the theory that it will bring people into their store or shop.

Life in the 'Burbs: Heavy Costs for Families, Climate

Although moving to a suburban subdivision was second nature for Michelle, it has been hard for Galileu, who grew up in a high-rise apartment in Brazil.

The larger house and yard require more maintenance, after all. And he's shocked by the high energy costs. The family's January natural gas bill was almost $300, triple what they paid to heat their last apartment. Their summer electric bills are also three times as high.

But Galileu says he can't figure out how to cut their energy costs, or reduce their driving.

Heinberg on 'resilient communities: paths for powering down'

Richard then unveiled a concept which he has been evolving and of which this was the first public airing. He calls it the Resilient Communities Action Plan (a careful assembly of those 4 letters that could so easily have gone horribly wrong). The idea is that it is something that is a companion to the Energy Descent Action Plan, but it is different, it is, in effect, an emergency response plan, a Plan C to the EDAP’s Plan B. It would be created by a working group within a Transition Initiative or a Post Carbon group, and would sit alongside the main plan as an emergency response that could be taken off the shelf when required.

While crisis can equal opportunity, he argued, it may not necessarily yield the kind of opportunity we are talking about here. In the past, crises have produced Hitler, and the kind of insidious undermining of economies that Naomi Klein set out in her (enormous) book Shock Doctrine.

Eco-towns? Britons say no thanks

STOUGHTON, England: The British may be among Europeans most concerned by climate change, but few people in this tiny village in the English Midlands want to be part of their government's latest proposal for a low-carbon future: an initiative called eco-towns.

Minister: Output to fall 1.8Mb/d at existing fields by 2021 - Mexico

The prolific Cantarell field, which accounts for roughly half of Mexico's crude output, will make up 1.01Mb/d of the decline by 2021, according to the diagnosis. The Ku-Maloob-Zaap asset will decline by 295,000b/d by 2021, with remaining fields accounting for 492,000b/d.

Cantarell will decline by 565,000b/d by 2012, with other fields accounting for a 212,000b/d fall in production.

Currently 83% of proven reserves are in fields either already in a state of decline or nearing their inflection points.

High Oil Prices Push Firms in U.S. Up Against Mexican Waters

Emboldened by record prices, oil firms in the U.S. are moving into deep water blocks running flush against Mexico's undeveloped side of the border.

The fresh activity raises the stakes for state-run Petroleos Mexicanos. Mexican oil could flow out of the country as reservoir pressure pushes it toward the nearest wells, a process called drainage.

Mexico's comeback kid

Calderon and his cohorts seek to persuade Mexicans that PEMEX is broken, the reserves running out, and the nation's only hope lies in deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling for what the Calderonistas describe as "The Treasure of Mexico" in a widely distributed, lavishly produced infomercial, will require an "association" with Big Oil. But as many experts, such as Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, son of the president who expropriated the oil in the first place, point out, it is not at all certain that these purported deep sea reserves are actually in Mexican waters.

Russians Draft Tax Breaks for Oil and Gas Companies

The Russian government wants to make it easier for E&P companies to do business within its borders. On March 31, the Russian Ministry of Finance introduced a plan that would allow tax breaks for continental shelf exploration and production.

Braskem optimistic on Venezuela expansion

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem is set to expand into Venezuela and sees its planned investment in two plants there as safe even though ExxonMobil Corp had been involved in the same project before quitting that country.

Express Oil Workers Kidnapped by 'Militant Youths' in Nigeria

Five oil workers have been abducted by "militant youths," reported The Guardian, a Nigerian news source.

Five Express Oil and Gas employees were taken Saturday offshore the state of Ondo of the Nigerian Delta by abductors protesting the "'insensitivity of the company to the plight of the host communities.'"

ANALYSIS: Iraq crackdown strengthens radical cleric and Iran

Cairo - When Iraq's Prime Minister launched an unprecedented offensive to assert his government's control over southern oil-rich Basra last week, he certainly was not planning what came about.

Nuri al-Maliki, his ministers and generals vowed, and still do, to go after militias and 'outlaws' to the end. The main target of the offensive, though not officially declared, has been Mahdi Army of firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

But within days of the offensive, Sadrist militiamen were still keeping their turf and weapons, and giving government troops a hard time. Hundreds of people were killed and injured in the offensive.

A stimulated diesel shortage

Diesel shortages are striking across China from southern Guangdong to the northern Tianjian. Long queues of trucks and cars stretching over one kilometer long have appeared at some gas stations; and at one point, diesel was rationed to 300 yuan (US$42.58) for cash sales - enough for a family car but too small a portion for a truck tank.

The rationing comes as rumors spread that oil giant Sinopec and PetroChina were applying for government approval to increase fuel prices. To quell panic and public concern, the National Development and Reform Commission posted a statement on its website saying price hikes would be unlikely in the short run.

Fuel dealers say customers can't pay bills, lawmaker proposes bill

HARTFORD (AP) - More than 60 days delinquent in paying her oil bill, a desperate Middletown woman recently called Peterson Oil Co., asking for help.

Jim Meehan, president of the Portland-based home heating oil company, said he has other customers who are more than 90 days late in paying their bills. Given the rising price of fuel, coupled with higher food costs and other expenses, many of his customers cannot afford the $1,000 it often costs to fill their oil tanks.

"We try to accommodate. It's tough," he said, adding that some customers owe $1,500 to $2,500 in back heating bills, creating a cash flow problem for his business. "They just have no way of paying it."

Norway to use forests to double bioenergy output

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will double production of bioenergy by 2020 by tapping its vast pine forests and seek to become an exporter of renewable energies to diversify from oil and gas, the government said on Tuesday.

"This is alchemy at its best," Oil and Energy Minister Aaslaug Haga said of the plan to turn forests into what she called "green gold." The scheme would also help Norway reach targets for axing greenhouse gas emissions.

Eight arrested at N.C. Duke coal plant protest

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eight protesters who locked themselves to bulldozers at a Duke Energy Corp coal-fired power plant in North Carolina were arrested on Tuesday, as part of international action day on climate, an environmental group said.

The group was protesting the construction of a new coal unit, which would emit the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Canada Pension Plan dollars to help build U.S. wind farms

Your pension dollars at work: the people who run the Canada Pension Plan have announced their first direct investment in wind power, putting $200 million US into a Connecticut-based venture.

Food price hikes changing U.S. eating habits

The worst case of food inflation in nearly 20 years has more Americans giving up restaurant meals to eat at home. We're buying fewer luxury food items, eating more leftovers and buying more store brands instead of name-brand items.

Record-high energy, corn and wheat prices in the past year have led to sticker shock in the grocery aisles. At $1.32, the average price of a loaf of bread has increased 32 percent since January 2005. In the last year alone, the average price of carton of eggs has increased almost 50 percent.

Worldwide food catastrophe not very far off; 'Solutions' are fueling shortage

In Thailand, farmers are sleeping in their fields after reports that thieves are stealing the rice, now worth $600 a tonne, straight out of the fields. Four people have died in Egypt in clashes over subsidized flour that was being sold for profit on the black market. There have been food riots in Morocco, Senegal and Cameroon.

Last year it became clear that the era of cheap food was over: Food costs world-wide rose by 23 per cent between 2006 and 2007. This year, what is becoming clear is the impact of this change on ordinary people's lives.

Scarce food beginning to cost the Earth

FOOD prices are soaring as the world faces a food shortage.

Around the globe, people are protesting and governments are responding with often counterproductive controls on prices and exports — a new politics of scarcity as ensuring food supplies becomes a major challenge.

OPEC To Hold Informal April Meeting In Rome

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will hold an informal meeting on the sidelines of an oil producer-consumer conference in Rome later this month to discuss whether current oil market developments warrant calling a special session to consider adjusting output, OPEC sources said Tuesday.

Ban on oil speculation proposed

HARTFORD — Heating oil dealers joined U.S. Rep. John B. Larson on Monday to charge that unbridled speculation in energy-futures markets, particularly among investment banks and hedge funds, has resulted in soaring consumer costs.

Larson, D-1, called for legislation in Congress to prohibit the futures markets from speculators who don't intend to actually acquire the petroleum products they're bidding on.

"The hard truth is the system is broken," Larson said. "It's all because of speculation and greed."

Patagonia Without Dams

Chile desperately needs new energy sources. The country is experiencing a severe energy crisis because of drought, a sharp reduction in natural gas imports from Argentina and the global escalation in oil prices. Some power plants, once fueled by natural gas, are now burning diesel fuel, an economically drastic alternative.

Destroying these rivers and the life that depends on them is no solution. Too often, the energy problem in Chile is framed as a choice between building dams or turning to nuclear energy. Solving this crisis responsibly will take a willingness also to explore other renewable sources like solar, wind and geothermal power.

Why cash beats treehugging

It’s all about money this clean-tech business. And don’t ever be fooled into thinking that the big boys with the cash have any other agenda other than to make lots of it.

Democrats Offer Plans for Climate Change

In speeches and papers on their Web sites, the Democratic presidential candidates spell out what they'd do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the country's energy supplies more secure. Both embrace the emission reduction goals that the world's scientists agree must be reached by mid-century to give the planet a chance to avoid irreversible climate dislocation.

Some economists say it's too tall an order. Obama and Clinton acknowledge that they're counting on some technologies that don't exist yet. But both say that their detailed plans, combined with a mighty mobilization akin to the nation's entry into World War II, will get the country on track to lead the world in doing what must be done.

Waste not, want not - and be happier

In 2004, environmental research body the Worldwatch Institute published its annual State Of The World report, claiming 1.7 billion people belonged to a social stratum whose lifestyles are dedicated to the accumulation of nonessential goods: the Consumer Class.

Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute says: "Rising consumption has helped meet basic needs and create jobs. But as we enter a new century, this unprecedented consumer appetite is undermining the natural systems we all depend on and making it even harder for the world's poor to meet their basic needs."

New Zealand: Locals raise awareness of looming peak oil

"WE are the peak generation and we cannot ignore the signs."

We must also prepare for a post-carbon future, said educator Lisa Talbot and Green Party spokesman John Milnes, who were at Wanganui's Majestic Square yesterday to coincide with the global Fossil Fools (Fuels) Day.

Japan Drivers Rush to Gas Stations After Tax Lapses

(Bloomberg) -- Japanese car drivers rushed to fill their tanks after the government failed to renew fuel taxes yesterday cutting gasoline prices by as much as 16 percent at some stations.

Legislators failed to extend the country's 25.1 yen-a-liter (95 cents-a-gallon) gasoline duty, which expired on March 31. A 17.1 yen-a-liter tax on diesel, used mostly by heavy-duty trucks, also lapsed.

Gas stations began slashing prices starting at midnight to lure customers who had been waiting for cheaper fuel. The missed deadline could amount to a 2.6 trillion yen ($26 billion) shortfall in government revenue.

Shell Says Fire at Pipe to Nigeria's Bonny Terminal

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's biggest oil company, said two pipelines were on fire in Nigeria's Port Harcourt area, including one that transports crude to the Bonny export terminal.

A fire was discovered on Shell's Trans-Niger pipeline on March 30 and is still burning, Shell spokesman Rainer Winzenried said in a telephone interview from The Hague today. The pipeline transports oil from the Port Harcourt area to the terminal.

USA 2008: The Great Depression

"Last St Patrick's Day, we were selling Irish soda bread for $1.99. This year it was $2.99. Prices are just spiralling up, because of the cost of gas trucking the food into the city and because of commodity prices. People complain, but I tell them it's not my fault everything is more expensive."

China replaces petrol, diesel oil with bio-ethanol fuel in 10 localities

NANNING (Xinhua) -- South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region became the 10th Chinese locality to have replaced gasoline and diesel oil with bio-ethanol fuel on Tuesday out of environmental and energy efficiency concerns.

Petrol stations in all the 14 cities of Guangxi began to sell bio-ethanol fuel on Tuesday and in two weeks, traditional petrol and diesel oil will be phased out, said Fu Jian, an official in charge of transport with the regional government.

Demands for crackdown on biofuels scam

The "splash and dash" scam involves shipping biodiesel from Europe to the US where a dash of fuel is added, allowing traders to claim 11p a litre of US subsidy for the entire cargo. It is then shipped back and sold below domestic prices, undercutting Europe's biofuel industry.

British Airways profits slashed by Goldman Sachs

British Airways flew into more trouble this morning after investment bank Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock from a "buy" to a "sell" saying lower revenue and oil prices would cut profits by up to 46 per cent.

Oil Giant BP's Role in 'Biggest Environmental Crisis'

BP's decision to tap into the Canadian wilderness is "based on addiction, not reality," says Ann Alexander, senior attorney at the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit environmental group. "Tar sands crude oil is dirty from start to finish. It's bad enough that [BP is] fouling our natural resources here in the Midwest, but it's completely destroying them up in Canada. There are good sources of energy we can turn to that don't involve turning entire forests into a moonscape."

Kenya: Power Providers Eye Thermal Sources to Bridge Energy Gap

Public and independent power providers are gearing their energies towards thermal sources to avert rationing in the wake of depleted power reserve margins.

A three-year consistent boom in the economy has seen Kenya deplete its power reserves to just three per cent and emergency power is / immediately needed to help avert possible rationing.

EU's Piebalgs says grid infrastructure needed quickly for offshore wind energy

BRUSSELS (Thomson Financial) - EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said a maritime grid infrastructure must be developed quickly for the development of offshore wind energy.

Speaking at the European Wind Energy Conference here, the commissioner said without the infrastructure no offshore wind farms can be built.

Nonelectric Hybrid Engines

A new kind of hybrid vehicle could offer reduced fuel consumption to consumers concerned about gas prices. Mechanical engineers in the United Kingdom have developed a novel kind of combustion engine that is able to switch between being a two-stroke and a four-stroke engine. The system, they say, can reduce fuel consumption by 27 percent.

UK: Norfolk Broads 'could be lost to sea in a year'

The Norfolk Broads will be lost to the sea, the head of the Environment Agency has said.

Lady Young, chief executive of the Agency, said that salt water could overwhelm the defences around the Broads in a century or as little as one year's time.

Dmitry Orlov: The Collapse Party platform

If the entire country were to embrace the notion that collapse is inevitable and that it must prepare for it, a new political party might be formed: the Collapse Party. If this party were to succeed in upending the two-party monopoly and forming a majority government, this government would then want to implement a crash program to dismantle institutions that have no future, create new ones that are designed to survive collapse and save whatever can be saved. If, further, this crash program somehow succeeded, in spite of constitutional limitations on government action, and in spite of the inevitable lack of financial resources for such an ambitious undertaking, and in spite of the insurmountable bureaucratic complexity, then I for one would be really surprised!

Barring such surprises, sometimes it is possible for small groups of capable and motivated individuals to succeed where governments fear to tread. And so here are some things that I would like to see taken care of, in preparation for collapse.

Pennsylvania truckers take fuel price protest convoy to state Capitol

HARRISBURG, Pa.: Scores of truckers took to the highways and streets around the Capitol on Monday and blasted their horns to protest rising fuel prices.

As the protest convoy circled the block, about 100 people gathered on the Capitol steps to urge state lawmakers and Gov. Ed Rendell to eliminate Pennsylvania's highest-in-the-nation diesel fuel tax of 38.1 cents per gallon.

Iceland: Truckers Block Roads Again in Protest of Gas Prices

Professional truck drivers used their trucks to block main traffic veins like Ártúnsbrekka in Iceland’s capital region yesterday to protest high fuel prices and force the government into action. They took similar measures on Friday.

Champion Air to go out of business in May

"Our business model is no longer viable in a world of $110 oil, a struggling economy and rapidly changing demand for services," Lee Steele, Champion's CEO, said Monday in a statement.

ExxonMobil: A Big Opportunity in Big Oil

We estimate ExxonMobil's returns are the best in its peer group with a return on capital of 32% (as of Dec. 31, 2007), reflecting very high returns from its exploration and production operations—which, on the scale of its business (some $129 billion of capital employed) is remarkable. For the past 19 years, we estimate ExxonMobil's shares have outperformed the S&P 500 on a total return basis, yielding 15% annually, compared to 11% for the broader market.

Gazprom plans to export 90 mln tons of LNG annually by 2030

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Russian energy giant Gazprom plans to supply about 90 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually to world markets by 2030, a senior company official said on Tuesday.

By that time, Gazprom intends to hold about 25% of the global LNG market, supplying liquefied natural gas to the United States, Asia and Pacific states and other countries, Valery Golubev, deputy chairman of the company's management committee told a forum on Russia's fuel and energy sector in the 21st century.

UAE PM says panel studies dollar peg, no change for now

BEIJING, April 1 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates prime minister said on Tuesday a committee reporting to him was studying the UAE's dollar peg but that the oil producer remained committed to the fixed exchange rate for now.

PSC Finds No Evidence of Conspiracy on Electricity Prices

The Maryland Public Service Commission announced yesterday that its investigation into the way electricity was purchased for 1.1 million customers in 2005-06 found no evidence that Baltimore Gas and Electric and its parent company, Constellation Energy, colluded to charge higher prices.

Iran sees hope in war of words

You know something is amiss when Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden defends the recent US intelligence finding on Iran, that claims Tehran stopped its nuclear weapon program in 2003, and, in the same breath, alleges Iran has a "nuclear weapons drive".

World food prices soar as Asia consumes more

WASHINGTON: Food prices are soaring, a wealthier Asia is demanding better food and farmers cannot keep up. In short, the world faces a food crisis and in some places it is already boiling over.

Around the globe, people are protesting and governments are responding with often counterproductive controls on prices and exports - a new politics of scarcity in which ensuring food supplies is becoming a major challenge for the 21st century.

World cooling on biofuel solution to climate change

JAKARTA (AFP) - Once a golden promise in the fight against climate change, biofuels are fast losing their lustre as high demand for essential crops drives land clearing and pushes up the price of food.

New pact on climate change best left after US polls: UN

BANGKOK (AFP) - A global decision on how much rich countries should slash their greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade should be made after the United States has a new president, the UN climate chief said Tuesday.

Poor nations fear being left in cold on global warming

BANGKOK (AFP) - Outraged poor nations bearing the brunt of global warming have become increasingly bold in UN-led climate talks, but some worry that recent meetings of large countries are sidelining their voices.

Global warming, global health: Campaign will raise awareness

From deadly heat waves in the Midwest and Northeast to more intense Gulf Coast hurricanes and Southwest droughts, the effects of climate change will have an unprecedented impact on the health of Americans, a report said Monday.

The connection between global warming and public health is the focus of a new campaign announced by the American Public Health Association. "There is a direct connection between climate change and the health of our nation," says the campaign's new blueprint designed to combat the health effects of climate change. "Yet few Americans are aware of the very real consequences of climate change on the health of our communities, our families and our children."

Barron's explains high Oil & Commodity Prices

Too much speculative money in the markets.


TOO good to pass up for first post of April 1st,


When your only tool is economics ...

Every effect seems to have a market-based cause.

(Why is the asteroid heading to Earth? Because the Market Speculators pushed it in that direction.)

More likely there is demand for the comet. Damned apocolypticons.

Re: Pennsylvania truckers take fuel price protest convoy to state Capitol

Anybody know of a site or source for information on the trucker's strike? The MSM may not pay attention.

E. Swanson

There are plenty of MSM stories on this... but here's some info from the source:


Not sure who thought it was a good idea to have a strike on April 1st though...

Mish mentioned it on "Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis".


From searching through google news and on MSM websites, it seems like the most coverage is through local media outlets and news stations. There is coverage, though.

my colleague let off some steam about it here-



New York City approves Congestion Pricing

Still needs state legislative approval.


Best Hopes for less commuting by car,


The ‘Greens’ in Geneva (Switz.) have proposed free public transport (defeated in the voting booth), are working on a very large tax on SUVs in the town (not an initiative yet, don’t know where it is at); a second, amended proposal for free public transport - the first initiative suffered from the fact that they did not specify where the money was to come from, they left it up to the Gvmt. to implement it as they wished, this is possible in Switz., if rather hazardous, as it leaves ppl wondering about all kinds of snarls and problems. ‘They’ are also in the initial stages - or have floated the proposition testing the waters - of a congestion tax. Some quick, dirty, and back-o-the envelope, calcs. and references to other studies and situations, showed:

a) It is very expensive to collect. Calcs showed est. 50% of revenues lost to the collection procedure

b) It will be legally very difficult to enforce, thus collect - much traffic is tourist, or local but foreign (France-EU, Switz is not EU.) Bi-lateral accords, and the Swiss Constitution present stumbling blocks (not relevant in other places)

c) Social objection: tax penalise those who have no choice but to drive, and the poor, some of whom are then excluded from a territory

d) Impact (speculation, for sure): as it is, vehicles in town are obligatory travelers like commuters; the rich; Gvmt. vehicles; service vehicles, etc. The rich will pay in any case, no matter what the price, it will just be another status symbol. And having acquired that perk, they will...drive more! Careen around! Others will be exempted...yet others (employers, biz) will simply shunt the cost to clients and consumers..Final impact.. low.

e) Revenue collected will not permit consequent reduction of the price of public transport. (Something appropriate has to be done with the money.)

In short, it all seems like a lot of trouble for nothing. Not to say it isn’t a good idea elsewhere.

Local conditions have to be carefully analyzed, one solution does not fit all.

Addenda: The motor show in Geneva was as usual a great success. Apparently visitors considered it quite acceptable to be shunted by police to a field way outside the city, to park their car, buy a ticket for bus + entry to the show!

edit: added bold

Re: free public transport

This may have been tried all around the world, but the only reference I have is to the Swedish town of Kristinehamn (pop. 18.000, 4 buses, 200.000rides/year) that had free public transport between 1998-2001.
According to a pre-study of free public transport made by another Swedish town (Luleå) the results were not entirely positive.
Free public transport has lead to lack of respect for the transport system, more vandalism of both bus stops and buses, and more threats and violence against the drivers.

I'd prefer free public transport any day, but sadly some people consider free = worthless, and do whatever they please with it.

Austin also had one year of free rides. They found that the homeless rode to get out of the heat, or to get a nap, groups of kids would board just to act up, etc.

Too bad,


Now here is a policy that addresses the population issue on two levels, (almost thought it was a 4/1 joke).

"Ex-bandits shoot blanks to avoid baby boom"


"...a family planning campaign that awards gun permits for vasectomies."

General Motors to purchase Morgan Hill bicycle company

Car giant takes stake in bicycle industry, acquiring Specialized Bicycles

General Motors has announced the acquisition of Specialized Bicycle Components. The boards of directors of both companies approved the acquisition on Friday. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2008 pending regulatory approval in the US, Canada and Europe. Terms of the all-share acquisition from Specialized Founder and President Mike Sinyard and Merida of Taiwan were not disclosed.

The deal does not include GM acquiring any of the 19 Specialized Concept Stores, a retail formula launched in 2006. All Specialized Concept Stores are independently owned.

"In light of global concerns about climate change, GM has been at the forefront in developing new transportation choices that limit our impact on the environment," said Flora Lopi, GM's vice president, Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. "GM's engineering, marketing and distribution expertise combined with Specialized's branding among cycling enthusiasts make this a winning combination for GM investors and consumers."

More information here: http://www.bikebiz.com/news/29459/GM-takes-Specialized-back-into-all-Ame...

Amazing coincidence that this story would come out on the first day of April.


Yes, yes it is.

Hey Eric, interesting April 1 catch..a bit of precedent

"It was time to reinvent the wheel.… By putting electric bicycles in every garage, we'll improve our quality of life, help clean up the environment, and have a little fun!"
Iacocca said in Electric Vehicle Online Today (2000)

Wonder if they are going this way? GM recently stated that the A123 batts are working out well for the Volt.

Today there are hundreds of tinkerers playing with these and other Nano phosphate packs out of China. Hmmm maybe GM has noticed. This is way past the hype stage as there are quite a few running around the world already.

I actually own one of the original EV global bikes running stock SLA. Not too fast but they climb like a goat.

Ahh yes... the bike put batteries in one hub, then the wheel on the other hub. The Iacocca bikes are no longer made.

I've have 3 seperate electro-bikes ripped off. The past week I've been sorting thought all my bike parts, putting together yet another couple of 'em. Bottom brackets are todays part de jour - but finding the custom rubber bit that keeps out the dirt is a problem.

(the thiefs never got the batteries or the chargers - so the bike was not all that useful)

Sorry to hear that, damn. Why is it the world over if you steal a dollar item you could face anything from doing time to losing a hand but stealing a bike it seems is just good clean fun?

The bike locks in China reminded me of the fugetaboutit NYC logging chain specials. Here a relative had one locked around a tree
in Portland, Or and they lifted the bike right up over the whole thing. It's everywhere.

Anyway they didn't get the batts and that's a big deal now. Typically these new ones may be worth more than the bike. I see some folks are carrying them in their backpacks with some quickconnects.

Good on ya with the bike project. I just laced a Crystalyte 409 up to an old Sierra MTB. ELP or Bust.

eric, do you "cross-lock" your bike? if not may i suggest doing so. using two different types of locks, e.g. a U-lock as well as a chain (square-links) or cable, will usually cause the thief to move on to easier pickings. this is due not only to the added time to disable two locks but also to the fact that most thieves do not carry, at the same time, the different tools required to defeat different types of locks.

I plan on adding AXA wheellocks.

In the case of 2 of the 3 thefts - they broke into the home and took 'em. Now I lock up the bike inside and have added some video cameras (the cheap hackable kind) The other was a 'oh look I just walked out here and now the bike is gone'. I intend to have evidence this time so the cops can say 'do you know the kid - no? Then we got no shot in getting him'

One of the bikes needed new brushes - so odds are *IF* they got a battery/got it working they trashed it from a lack of maintenance.

A lockpick set can be easily made using a portable grinder and some flexible hacksaw blades.

And thieves will carry not a single pick, but a set (which fits on a keychain in a pants pocket), and most locks are staggeringly easy to pick or defeat with practice or a simple shim.

Confer with "Lockpicking for the New Millennium", if you can obtain a copy.

hence, multiple locks. unless your bike is the one the thief just has to have the odds are the prospect of defeating two locks will send the thief on to the next bike. i know all locks can be picked, i'm just trying to give some advice to my fellow commuters concerning ways to lessen the odds of being victimized.

If I had repeats, I'd set up a trap with a very light cable locking the bike up, then await to capture it all on camera, plus calling the cops as soon as he begins, but waiting to capture it all on camera until finally running out and confronting the guy when he succeeds.

But, I'm confrontational like that.. lol.

It is an April Fools joke. See updated articles.

From Orlov "I would like to see the huge prison population whittled away in a controlled manner, ahead of time, instead of in a chaotic general amnesty"

Now that's an interesting take. Remember Sadam released all prisoners at the start of the US invasion.

My suspicion Paulus is that membership in a "Collapse Party" would quickly become grounds for rounding us all up when the time came.

In one of the more memorable passages of The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn notes the irony of people like college professors and physicians being prisoners guarded by thieves, rapists and murderers.

A common criminal is generally no threat to the state but the intellectual - that is a different story.

Let that be a warning to you eggheads. No more intellectual posturing!

Heh. Unfortunately, as a state becomes more controlled, it is true.

Or the carefully build-up strategic assets will be confiscated. Luckily I'm not in the US, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm "safe"

When he says "whittled away in a controlled manner" he doesn't mean putting them in trucks where the exhaust leads into the back of the truck, does he?

In the Collapse Party you'd think that would be the platform. We can't let them out, and we can't afford to keep them in, what do we do? Hmmmm...

Orlov is practical, as usual...Of course none of these suggestions will be implemented. I have excerpeted only the first sentence from each paragraph (subject).

1) I am particularly concerned about all the radioactive and toxic installations, stockpiles and dumps.

2) I am also worried about soldiers getting stranded overseas — abandoning its soldiers is among the most shameful things a country can do.

3) I would like to see the huge prison population whittled away in a controlled manner, ahead of time, instead of in a chaotic general amnesty.

4) Lastly, I think that this farce with debts that will never be repaid has gone on long enough. Collateralized debt will evaporate once the value of the collateral is too low to secure the debt: if the house has no water, cannot be lit, heated or reached by transportation, its value is effectively zero, and so is the value of the mortgage.

He'is very practical. For example @3, he proposes to decriminalize drugs. This would open the way for growing industrial hemp, which I believe will prove an essential crop post peak. Hell, there is no solid reason to lift the ban on this crop now!

Many people already grow hemp on a commercial basis. Unfortunately, the stalks are usually discarded, and not used for fiber. I suppose that growers do not take the law into consideration when profit is involved. I often wonder that they don't have more respect for the law...After all, they have many roll models in political life to look up to. Interestingly, the thc content of the commercial crops has increased over the years...There must be some scientific explanation.

When collapsing, Gvmts release prisoners, as they will not directly harm the powers in charge and/or because keeping up the prisons is financially, materially, impossible; or because ‘revolutionaries’ demand, or enforce release, with their new power.

One man’s criminal is another’s freedom fighter (political prisoners), one man’s criminal is socially oppressed and enslaved, e.g. pot smoker forced to work assembling computers, rather than an ugly drug dealer... Orlov, I suppose, fears the ‘criminal impulses’ or criminals, defined as those convicted/imprisoned, and would prefer not to see them released ‘en masse’ as a rampaging force.

On the one hand, OK, given the stellar no. of prisoners in the US, and the likely incapacity of US society to absorb them in one go; gradual measures would seem to be indicated, get them working, etc.; on the other hand, in another world, US prisoners would be no threat...(besides a tiny % of hard core effed up sociopaths ...)

The lesson from history is that is that kind or preparation *never* takes place, because it means that the Controllers - despot, dictator, king, governing power, elected officials in a democracy, etc. are called on to relinquish control gradually, which can't be done.

I have a son-in-law that is a detective lt. on a local police force. He has made a career of hanging around the black community busting small time drug dealers. He thinks he is doing a service for the community. I don't. I advised him long ago to go into the fire service if he wanted to do something for the community. He likes what he does and told me once that 'it is fun and it is what I love to do.'

When all the black guys that my son-in-law spent his life putting in jail are released, he will be out of work. Not only that, he will be a well armed, FWO, enraged because his life work and his job are gone. I have no sympathy for him but will come to the support of my grand kids.

Repeat this story a million or more times for all the cops that will arise one day to a totally new world...They could be a bigger problem than the released small time drug dealers.

And I have a son who wants to be a cop and will not listen to becoming an EMT/paramedic/fireperson - even if we pay for the training.

Where's the "beat head against wall" smiley?


Clearly, he needs the experience of being roughed up by a bent cop, and then the pleasure of hitting the blue wall when he tries to complain....

You have raised a valid point. We have a vast military police state. If the assertion that large central and local governments fail we will have a vast, disenfranchised and well armed insurgency on our hands.

Will we see a return to the days of paying "tribute" to lawless thugs?

I can't find the original article but I would think that if 2 million ex cons are on the streets your son in law will have plenty to do.

That's provided that we still have the tax dollars for functioning police departments. It's my impression that one result of the failures of so many bond auctions of late is that, in part, many cities, counties and states are going to have serious budget problems. Magnify that by the loss in revenue due to decreasing property taxes (Real Estate Ponzi scheme) and overall economic freak out, and we'll be lucky to have Barney Fife patrolling the neighborhood on a scooter.

SubKommander Dred

Most jurisdictions only re-assess ever few years, and if assessed valuations go down, they'll just raise rates so they are revenue-neutral. Collections are more likely to see an immediate impact.

I get the impression that many people who believe in Peak Oil see a positive side to all this: that a down-sized economy/world will result in more "tightly knit" communities.

One word of caution about "tightly-knit" communities: conformity usually becomes the #1 priority... way ahead of (the - I suspect - much hoped for) social intimacy. From small things things, like who your friends are and what your political points of view may be, to far more serious issues, like why is the paint on the back of your house chipping?.. why do you have those flashy window curtains?.. why don't you come and join in the usual social events? Etc..

Just a thought.

One reason (of several) I love New Orleans.

Social intimacy (we talk to strangers on the streetcar, waiting in line, etc.) and a near absence of pressure to conform socially :-)

Best Hopes for the Big Easy,


That sounds lovely and we've got two inches of new snow - got a spare bedroom available, should I happen to wander south a thousand miles or so?


That's because you're not in a small tightly-knit community... you're in a large laid-back one.

How are things down there? Much improvement? I hear different versions.

It is more tightly knit that you might suppose. 2 degrees of separation at most.

About a year I ago I was stopped (this was when they were just starting to enforce the traffic laws again) for making a left turn under a "no left turn sign". A motorcycle cop stopped by the squad car and then left. The squad car cops came up and said that they heard I was a good guy and I did not even get a warning ticket.

LOTS of strings of social connections with a third of a million people now.

The surface is much better now, no one I know of is living in a tent inside their gutted home, FEMA is now moving people out of poison trailers. Parts of the economy are back, others are gone. People have now adapted to lack of services (which are returning) and suffering. Compassion exhaustion.

Lots of construction workers with 10 years experience building Phoenix, etc. come to New Orleans on their last dime because they heard we have work and knowing nothing about the city. Local contractors put little or no value on that type of experience (and locals are now hiring mainly local contractors). They then start pounding the street, sleeping in their cars, and damming the city. I have been cold to them, for they did not come to help and bring little of value. My charity is reserved for the locals.

OTOH, many former volunteers have moved here and are welcomed with open arms.

A very odd place if one opens one's eyes. Still struggling to retain our identity.

Best Hopes,


Katrina was cat 3 when she made landfall. What do you intend to do when the Cat 6 hits? No such thing? There will be. Rebuilding & repopulating NOLA is foolhardy. Sad but true.

What's the actual point of this comment?

Alan gives us example after example of a city that allows people to be connected and human with each other. Clearly it's worth it for people who are part of that culture, or join it and find a great way of approaching life that many other Americans hardly know is even a possibility, as attested by the root of this thread..

Any of us might 'catch a bus' tomorrow, but there are far more wasted infrastructure dollars holding Vegas together for far less cultural return.

re: "Sad but true" .. and enough of that 'Hate to rain on your parade' stuff. Truth is a moving target.


What's the actual point of this comment?

Alan gives us example after example of a city that allows people to be connected and human with each other. Clearly it's worth it for people who are part of that culture, or join it and find a great way of approaching life that many other Americans hardly know is even a possibility, as attested by the root of this thread..

The point is that a century of watershed mismanagement along the Mississippi has ruined the delta buffer zone between the sea and NOLA. Warmer water is less dense, allowing the wind to whip up the storm surge to never before seen proportions. The culture of NOLA may be marvelous but it's still stupid to live there. Katrina & Rita were only the warning shots across the bow.



A motorcycle cop stopped by the squad car and then left. The squad car cops came up and said that they heard I was a good guy and I did not even get a warning ticket.

You say "tight-knit", we say "corrupt as hell".

Corrupt ?

That implies money changed hands, none did.

I was recognized for something good that I once did by the motorcycle cop, he saw me pulled over and told the squad car cops who I was, whatever I did.

Perhaps not "Equal justice under the law", but few nuns, men with Purple Heart plates or Coast Guard "swimmers" get tickets either.

I have no objection,


But of course money was involved - the ticket you didn't get. But don't get your panties wedged too tight, I'm just joshin' ya.

How do you know they cant hammer a nail?

The culture of quality construction is simply not there. We have some bad contractors here, but we also have many good ones.

The majority of work is repair of older, very well built structures that were original built to last 200+ years. The details of construction have nothing in common with buildings designed to last 20 years before major repairs.

Those few that worked building multi-million dollar custom homes have worthwhile experience.

Union trained workers are also valued. Phoenix tract builders, not.

And no one uses a hammer anymore, just nail guns :-)


I thought it was just staple guns, on the new stuff...

Sometimes they'll even try to weld 2X4s together

The culture of quality construction is simply not there.

The building material (if wood) is fast growing, lower fiber density.

Lots of things like particle board.

I think most of us are painfully aware of that.


I think not. Most people seem to crave the romantic side of things and forget the dark things that go on in remote places.

Then you haven't been paying attention.

There is often concern expressed about what happens if you don't fit in. Without considering cultural issues, the lightly-populated southern or midwestern rural areas of the country might seem like good peak oil hideaways.

But many of us here are atheists, or at least not very religious. Can we really fit in, in the Bible belt? Many of us are liberal, and might not fit into conservative southern small towns when TSHTF.

And what if you can't "pass"? You can pretend to be a Christian conservative, but if you're black or Asian, you can't pretend to be white.

Fear of racial or religious strife is frequently expressed here. We're not entirely joking when we mention the possibility of a future that involves burning evolutionists in the town square.

Even if you are homogeneous with the local demographics...it takes a long time to assimilate into a small town. For decades, generations, you'll be the newcomers.

The issue also arises when people think about moving to other countries. Maybe peak oil will be easier to weather in France or Costa Rica or the Ukraine. But you'll be a foreigner, no matter how well-assimilated, and that might not be a good thing when TSHTF.

Stadtluft macht frei

That assumes, of course, that the cities continue to exist. Your fears about small town life are as nothing compared to what you should be fearing about life in a collapsing city.

I don't think that's at all clear.

In collapses past, people clustered closer to the cities as the end neared. Probably because that was where the last vestiges of civilization were. Where the army/police were. Where the food was handed out.

You are absolutely correct! I experienced this personally. Even though my parents were from a small farming community in Louisiana I never fit into that community. Why? Because my dad was in the military and we traveled a lot...I became much more liberal from a very early age because I was exposed to many cultures, attended school with blacks and Asians, and realized that different was not necessarily bad. I was exposed to many things that local farm kids in La were not, including sci fi, sushi in Japan, different religious beliefs that made more sense to me than Christianity, so-called 'free love' in N Europe, etc. When, on occasion, I would attend a year of school in the small La community, I was not accepted. I did not like the prejudice that I saw there and I suppose that my feelings were apparent, although I never spoke about them. Neither did I attend church, so that was another strike. I was tolerated, but not accepted.

If an outsider moves to an area with strict religious beliefs, overt discrimination, anti-intellectualisim, and anti everything else, they are never going to fit in unless they profess the same beliefs. Then, they still will not fit in, but they will be allowed to remain if they don't speak out against local custom and practice. As an interesting aside...their children will be accepted.

This might sound like a whinning post, but it isn't. What would your reaction be to seeing a black man hanged from a RR trestle by the KKK? I saw that happen and much more, but could not say anything for fear for the life of myself and my relatives.

The reason that many people settle on the coasts of Florida is that the coasts are melting pots. There are people from everywhere and all are accepted, or, at least ignored, and not judged so much for their beliefs. If one travels 20 miles inland in Florida, well...the rules are different there.

...melting pots. There are people from everywhere and all are accepted, or, at least ignored, and not judged so much for their beliefs.

Good observation. I've also noticed that some of the people tucked away in the more progressive cities, or in a University, are not really aware that racism still exists.

I've personally experienced this. I was adopted, and my adopted parents are Caucasian. After I turned 18, I managed to track down my birth family, who live on a reservation. I have since spent my summers there. But for some reason, no matter how I try to explain it, my adopted parents just don't seem to understand why I am reluctant to bring them to the reservation to meet 'everyone'.

It's not like there's blatant and extreme racism or hostility towards Caucasians.. but there is a absence of trust for, and general uneasiness around "white people". The same could probably be said of white-black relations in certain parts of the American south.

As a side note. The reservation happens to sit on a small amount oil and gas, and a large amount of coal. Up until the latest hike in gas & food prices, the 'royalities' from these resources have made Peak Oil a particularly hard sell ("energy crisis? Matt, what energy crisis? There's tons of the stuff left, and we own it!" )

May I suggest Stockton, IA? lol

I dont think theres a single person there that gives a damn what his/her neighbor is doing or not doing. I also think the entire town is atheist. My parents still live there (separately) and they are atheists, all my friends that live there and their families are atheists as well. However, everyone in the town is white (pop. 182 as of 2000 census) so that may be a problem for minorities. But the mayor is very nice and his wife has been making delicious peanut butter cookies for us local kids for the last 10 years! ^_^

If TSHTF for real, to the point where my expertise (IT) is no longer of any economic value, I'm sure I'll end up back there tending the fields and listening to my dad remind me how little I know about farming and how rough it can be. =)

spudw, thanks a lot for the info. When GW causes the oceans to rise enough to force me to slip on my hip waders, maybe I can join you in Stockton, IA? I sure as hell will not be going to any southern, hard shell protestant community! :)

BTW, I am a decent truck gardner...but, probably not up to your dad's standards.

That is quite tiny, but Davenport is just down the road - are you sure that is remote enough?

Yea I live in Davenport and 90% of the people here in town have never heard of Stockton. Not knowing it exists is remote enough for me! ^_^

I actually live across the street from work in downtown Davenport right now, trying to save money and spare myself the expense of having a car. I guess the point I was trying to make with Stockton is that there are so many lil towns like that, and they are all different. Some are REALLY different (ever been to Utah?) and some are exactly what you would expect.

Don't you think northwest Iowa is a lil too remote?

Would you subject those views you expressed to inquiry or are they mere snobbery meant to denigrate those that are still subject to denigration?

Didn't mean to be denigrating. It goes both ways. Christian conservatives often have a hard time in the liberal northeast.

One of my friends moved to the northeast from Kentucky. She did what you do in Kentucky when you move to a new area: she joined a church. She is actually not religious at all, but that is how you establish a social life in Kentucky. Everyone thought she was nuts, and she soon found out why. Only religious fanatics went to church regularly in her new town. She didn't meet anyone she actually wanted to associate with in church, but she didn't really know any other ways of making friends.

The ironies abound in our little world. Here the paragons of liberal virtue are down to denigrating poor whites from literally the backwaters of the country and calling it "progress." I found it ironic that when I lived in Louisiana (Calhoun St. Uptown) that those I would find most politically similar were some of the worst people in that state, and that the liberals I met were those I found most personally agreeable.

Liberals in Louisiana? They should be protected by the endangered species list.

If you want to get a strong dose of denigrated poor whites, spend some time around Jena.

Interesting--the "find a church" method of finding friends was my parents' method, but feels inappropriate to me. [Most churches aren't "real" enough to me]. At the risk of starting an off-topic thread, where DO liberal north-easters [?] go to meet up with generic-random-other-people? Date sites? Bars?

A lot of people meet through work. The office appears to take the place of church for a lot of things. Most larger offices have sports leagues, exercise classes, charitable groups, etc. And people will go out drinking together after work.

Community groups are also popular. For some reason, people seeking dates often join the local ski club. There are a lot of singles groups, too, including some for people who are looking for friends, not romance. Taking night classes or volunteering for a charitable or political group is also a good way to meet people who share your interests.

And there's the big chain book stores, like Barnes & Noble, that have cafes. You can often tell if someone shares your interests by what section they are browsing.

And of course, there's the Internet. A surprising number of my friends have met their spouses through online dating.

(One of them even dated a major league baseball player for awhile. That surprised me. I'd never have expected a guy like him to be trolling for romance on Match.com.)

Well, there are a lot of rural areas in the northeast that are traditional, church-going regions. Some are even Appalachian in culture. New York State, for instance, may be considered urban northeast by most, but is in fact a very agricultural state with vast hinterlands where a person could walk 50 miles without crossing a road (from Long Lake to Keene for instance, or Long Lake to points west and so on). And the people in the hills along the southern tier have more in common with West Virginians than New York City dwellers. Western New York farm towns are more midwestern in tone than some might imagine. The people in the north country have a lot in common with New Englanders and Canadians. And all of these rural areas are very conservative. A Red State hidden inside a blue state. Many of these little places are friendly, some are poverty stricken. But in most, church still plays a central role in the community (although people who don't go to church, like me and my left wing redneck friends, are still welcome. There are plenty of unexpected places to hide out in this country, and some of them don't share that stereotypical small town closed-mindedness that I hear so much about. The town I live in has a strong sense of community, colorful characters, people who still gather to play banjos, lots of rural poverty, but also most are a friendly and eager to help neighbors, but otherwise show a kind of ive and let live, "mind your own business" orneryness that I kind of like.

It seems to depend somewhat on the individual and his/her communication and social skills. I moved into a very small (pop. 1500) and probably inbred ranching community in rural Utah 15 years ago. My (now ex) husband and I purchased the most expensive house in the area, were not Mormon (atheist in fact), and lived next to a family whose relatives settled the area with Brigham Young. We skiied, rode bicycles, and voted democrat...talk about fish out of water! BUT, we didn't hide and in short order we were accepted and found the people extremely helpful and generous. So I believe it's important, as an outsider moving into a small community to make an effort..not to be like the residents, but to be accepting of them and 'non-threatening'. Obviously, this won't always work when dealing with certain biases but I think it goes a long way.

There's no right or wrong place to be; urban versus rural. It all depends on where you're most comfortable. I prefer rural living and will always draw upon the negative aspects of urban living to support my decision.

I can certainly attest to that. I've had the personal experience of growing up in the west and then moving to a small community in Louisiana for a few years in the early eighties. I recall once meeting my wife and a some of her co-workers at a local eating establishment for beer and burgers. Across the room there was a G.I. (black) with his family having a bite to eat as well. A woman that was with us noticed the black family and suddenly began to retch af if she were choking on her food. When I asked her what was the matter she gave me a ten minute racial rant. As I soon discovered most of the people I encountered down there shared that view.

America "the melting pot" with pent up religious firebrand and just below the surface racism will become more radicalized as the influence from a large and powerful central government wanes.

Personally I wouldn't go anywhere near the south or midwest.

One reason that New Orleans does not get along well with the rest of the state of Louisiana.


I soon discovered most of the people I encountered down there shared that view.

That's a crock! I have lived in the south all my life (rural and small town Alabama). I encountered such situations in the 50s and 60s, and even into the 70s but never since then. Over a quarter of the population down here are black. If everyone acted in such a manner, they would retching all the time. Also bi-racial couples are everywhere down here now. No one ever gives them a second glance. All my family are native Southerners and at family gatherings the subject is never brought up. Blacks have often been in attendance at our outdoor barbecues. At my son's funeral, we had one of his best friends as a pallbearer, a young black man. My son's (a different son) stepson, who is 21, has dated black women and brought them to our house.

I expect racism to rise again during the collapse but it will be just as bad in the North and West as in the South. But it is simply not present now. These are times of plenty and people behave more civilized in such times.

Ron Patterson

But it is simply not present now.


But I agree it will get worse.


I don't BS TtheD. Of course racism is present, among a few, in private. But it is NEVER discussed publicly. You would never hear people at restaurants making racist statements that could be overheard by the folks at tables nearby. I have not overheard a racist statement in a public place is so many years I cannot recall. You may call that BS but that would be because you haven't a clue as to what the hell you are talking about.

Ron Patterson

"You may call that BS but that would be because you haven't a clue as to what the hell you are talking about."

Or, alternatively, maybe he's had a different experience than you. Did you ever think of that?

Seriously, I, as many others, value and enjoy your input here, but I gotta say that I've really noticed that you do not handle disagreement at all well. You are one prickly sunnuvagun.

It's always "you're absolutely wrong", or "you're completely delusional", or "utter nonsense", or "you don't know what the hell you're talking about", or whatever. No shades of gray whatsoever.

Why not just say "I disagree, and here's why", or "that hasn't been my experience". Is it possible that you're experience is not the bottom line? Maybe?

It's all anecdotal anyway.

This is meant to be constructive criticism, honest.

Have any Muslims been to one of your BBQ's?

Only one. His name was Rashied Ali. He was a Pakistani with a British passport who worked with me in Saudi Arabia. He came to Huntsville on ARAMCO business and we had him over for a cookout. My wife forgot and put bacon over the baked beans. That is how she always cooks them. He peeled the bacon back and helped himself to the baked beans. We were the best of friends but I lost touch with him after I left ARAMCO.

While in Saudi Arabia I often went to a Saudi friends house. We drank wine and sadiki but never ate together. (Sadiki, "friend" in Arabic, is rather like vodka. It is distilled from fermented sugar.)

But what were you implying TtheD?

Ron Patterson

I agree with your assertion that racism against blacks is MUCH lower than even when I was younger (only 29 now), but racism against Muslims is still racism.

The few times I've been in the south the last couple of years I still hear the N word and some bad jokes here and there, but bring up the middle east or religion or whatever it takes to get them going, and they'll talk your ear off about how "all them towel heads just need to be nuked" or whatever.

Hate is hate. They just have a different target now.

Tell me I'm wrong.

BTW- I in no way meant to imply that YOU are racist. I very much respect your opinion and contributions to TOD.

BTW- I in no way meant to imply that YOU are racist. I very much respect your opinion and contributions to TOD.

You called my post "BS". That don't sound like respect to me. Most folks would say you were calling me a Bullshitter! Of course you have every right to do that. After all, I called joemichaels post a crock. Because that is exactly what it was. He painted a picture of the South that has not existed in over thirty years.

Ron Patterson

Holy shit Ron,

You have one hell of a nerve accusing anyone of disrespect.

Yes Sgage, I do have a lot of nerve. But as I said it is T the D's every right to call me a bullshitter. But it really pisses me off when someone tells damn lies about the South then another says I am bullshitting when I call that assessment a crock.

Sgage, I am proud, damn proud, of the racial progress we have made in the South. And when someone implies that we have made no progress at all, it just gets under my skin. That is all.

Ron Patterson

I can understand your feelings, believe me. It's just that "the South" is a very big thing, and it's just possible that you haven't experienced every corner of it, and perhaps others have had different experiences. You should by all means describe your experiences, but I don't think it's useful to confront people that have had different experiences with "you don't know what the hell you're talking about".

Also, speaking as a Northerner, please believe me when I say that I know full well that the South has no monopoly whatsoever on any flavor of racism/bigotry/prejudice/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

I know how stuff can get under one's skin. And I don't put down your pride or anything else. It's just that it's really complicated, and we all tend to get pretty snappish. What I'm saying is that you are often (at least it seems to me) extremely dismissive and disrespectful of other people's observations and opinions, and when you accused whoever of being disrespectful, my knee jerked, and so, my response.


- Steve

I agreed the south has made great strides, amazingly gigantic monumental strides, even in my short time on this planet. But you can't go around making broad statements like "racism simply doesn't exist anymore" without expecting a rebuttal.

Also, not quite sure why you keep attacking ME. Do you not believe I heard what I heard?

I called BS on your claim that racism is "simply not present now" when from my own ears I have heard racist statements against multiple races in the past three years when visiting the south.

In fact I had a spirited debate with a man, very successful and repsected in his community, as he went off about "nuking all them towelheads" and the "disgusting injuns" whose arrowheads are found all across his property.

The worst part? Every one of his dozen or so employees (males 18-26) were nodding their heads after everything he said.

Just because you are not present to witness racism, does not mean it doesn't exist. If I have seen it, multiple times, in the few weeks I've spent in the south I feel justified in claiming BS that "racism is simply not present now."

I've never witnessed a rape, a barmitzvah, or a union meeting, does that mean they don't exist?

TtheD, racism exist everywhere. But it probably exist far less in the South than in Philadelphia or New York. OPEN RACISM in public places does not exist in the South. That was what I was implying and I stand by that statement. One can never know what goes on in private and I make no claim to such knowledge.

You seem to be hung up on "towelheads". That is a new word to me. When I was in Saudi the word was "ragheads". And I heard the term several times every day, from blacks, whites, Brits, Filipinos and every other nationality that was not Muslim.

And you have the audacity to suggest that this is a Southern problem. That clearly shows you are biased against Southerners. Good God man, get a clue.

Ron Patterson

Wow, I didn't think this conversation could have gotten any worse.


I didn't invent the word "towelheads", in fact it was the LEAST offensive term he used.

Yes, I have the audacity to say it is a Southern problem. It is also a Northern, Eastern and Western problem.

Until WE realize WE are all ONE people and ALL LIFE trembles in the face of death, we have a problem...

Open overt racism does not exist in the South. That was what I implied even if you interpreted it different. So rant on TtheD. No one can possibly know what goes on in private, or even at private beer parties that liberals like me never get invited. And I claim no knowledge to what goes on at these gatherings. But there used to be, rather openly, KKK gatherings. You never hear of such things these days.

By the way, if you think we have a problem, you should live in a Muslim nation for a few years. When compared to the hatred of infidels (non Moslems) in the Moslem world, we are positively angelic. You simply do not know what racism is until you experience that. And you obviously have experienced that.

And we (the entire world) will NEVER realize that we are all one people. To dream of one world with all people embracing each other in love and understanding is simply a naive dream, nothing more. We are what we are, it is in our genes.

Ron Patterson

I'd be a lot more interested hearing this from a black person. Personally I have seen some pretty clear signs of racism in my time in the south, and to claim that overt racism no longer exists there is just silly. All one has to do is watch an episode of "Cops" (usually filmed south of the Mason-Dixon) to see some overt racism.

Open overt racism does not exist in the South.

Nice blanket statement Ron. Once again, that makes *YOU* Ron, WRONG.

But you are way to pig headded to admit bupkist.

I'd be a lot more interested hearing this from a black person.

I was at a joint table lodge between Prince Hall and FAM. The head of the state prince hall made racism part of his speech.

The neighbors who are a 'mixed couple' feel that some of the interactions with cops are because of race. I've also seen a black female claim to cops that the accuser was racist - a way to get the cops to leave without filing a report that would include her child.

The original tale does not tell the age of the 'open racist' or their medical condition. Folks on the autistic spectrum don't give a damn what other think, same with older folk, and some drugs have a similar effect.

So if I have a choice to believe Ron or what I've seen - I'm gonna add to the "Ron is wrong" posters.

You have, once again, been called out Ron.

This is just silly. Just the other day 3 black men beat up a older white woman with two retarded children in Orlando for not paying a fee for being a white person in a public park.


It may be what is commonly regarded as 'reverse racism' but it's still racism. Wouldn't you say so?

2 weeks before that a noose was found at a HD in Casselberry. The week before that a noose was hung in a tree outside a home in Ocoee.

The reason I moved from Mississippi is because people there were closed minded, and indeed, racist. Not everyone, but it was 'socially acceptable'. At least here in Florida it generally is not.

Ron, you have a really, really, really short memory. I never thought I would hear a statement like 'open racisim in public plaes does not exist in the South.'...From you or anyone that posts to this board.

Is the school in Jena, Louisiana, not a public place? Did 'open racisim' not take place there? The Jena event took place Sept, 2007, how could anyone forget something that happened so recently? Of course, selective memory is not unknown.


'The Jena Six are a group of six black teenagers who were charged with the beating of Justin Barker, a white teenager at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana, United States, on December 4, 2006. The beating followed a number of incidents in the town; the earliest reported was that of three white students hanging painted nooses from a tree at Jena High School in August, after a black student asked permission from a school administrator to sit under it.[1] The Jena Six case sparked protests by those viewing the arrests and subsequent charges as excessive and racially discriminatory. The protesters believed that white Jena youths involved in other incidents were treated leniently. On September 20, 2007, between 10,000 and 20,000 protesters marched on Jena in what was described as the "largest civil rights demonstration in years."[2][3] Related protests were held in other U.S. cities on the same day.'

Well hell, I guess there were some incidents in Louisiana. But by "public places" I was thinking of restaurants, stores and such. A tree? Well, I guess, and the were rather covert, the nooses I mean.

Okay, so there were a few isolated incidents. Sorry about that. I have no idea why there are still a few pockets that little progress has been made.

Ron Patterson

Ron, I traveled to N La about 8 years ago to attend my favorite aunts funeral. The little town is about 30 miles from Jena.

Topic of conversation after the funeral? Why O.J. Simpson was not found guilty and hanged for the murder of his ex wife. That is the only subject that the relatives wanted to discuss. I tried to steer the conversation toward what a great and charitable person my aunt had been and all the good times we had as kids at her house. Not the relatives! They wanted to discuss a California murder case that was tried in 1995...Five years prior to the funeral! I said nothing untill they finally turned to me and asked what I thought.

I said that I believed that the convicted in murder trials are normally sentenced to jail or death. No one said a word. I got up and left...Turned in my rental car and flew home the next day. I will not be going back.

Racisim in the South is not just 'isolated incidents' and occurs in both public and private places. It is ingrained in the people, passed from generation to generation, and if I had not traveled as a child I would be just like those people.

But by "public places" I was thinking of restaurants, stores and such.

And here we go with another custom phrase definition.

Stores/Restaurants - don't they have the ability to exclude people from these places because they are PRIVATE property? Pay property taxes - when do public places PAY vs TAKE taxes?

Just admit you were wrong VS playing the word re-define game Ron.

Okay, so there were a few isolated incidents. Sorry about that.

So you are 'sorry' about racism existing? How very magnanimous of you.

I have no idea why there are still a few pockets that little progress has been made.

Pig headed people who will not admit their ideas were wrong might be a starting point....

I think that Huntsville is far from a typical Alabama city. And I think it has been far from typical ever since the establishment of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

My two cents.

I left there (Alexandria LA) in the early eighties so I hope you're right.

I worked DOD when I was there and we lived in a working class neighborhood. I commuted to and from work with a co-worker that was black. We also occasionally had him over for dinner with his family.

For the most part we got along with our neighbors. When I put my house up for sale the neighbors had a going away party for us. During the barbeque one fellow put it to me straight: "You're not going to sell to any blacks are you?"

"I don't think so." I replied. "I couldn't imagine any self respecting black family would live in this neighborhood."

I have an uncle around Atlanta who got involved in politics back in the eighties and cleaned up his ways. But I'm sure he still has his Grand Wizard Costume tucked away somewhere. (thats no joke)

"I soon discovered most of the people I encountered down there shared that view."

Yes, a crock of poo poo. Deep in the South Mississippi county side growing up I never lived the version of the south that most seem to have that I’m seeing here today. Not until I left for college at a Northeastern school did I see the skeletons in the Northeast areas closet. I think they wished to close their own closet door and label it the South. I was ‘educated’ as to how we lived and behaved in the south. I don’t think that professor liked me by the end of semester; I ruined his lesson plan with first hand truth.

I think the tone is very condescending and arrogant…sorry rant over. I think generally people in the south are warm and friendly to all. Unless you attempt to talk down to them. :-)

I have a first cousin and aunt that live about 30 miles east of Jackson, Miss, and one would be hard pressed to find a more prejudiced bunch. The cousins wife, after we had met, began sending me racial jokes on the net. I told her to stop it and have not heard from her, or any of them, since. Good riddence.

You are right that prejudice exists in the NE, but it is nothing compared to the prejudice that exists in the swath of SE states from Virginia to Arizona. I have spent time in both areas, lots of time, and I know what I have experienced with my own senses.

I am friends with a black volunteer who decided to move to New Orleans with his family. Against my advice, he took family down to Mardi Gras parade in Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish.

Nothing overt, but his kids asked why no one threw them anything and the white kids on either side got lots of throws.

Their main street is named Judge Perez. Judge Perez was the long time political king pin down there and the Catholic Church threatened him with ex-communication if he did not stop opposing integration.

The demographics change dramatically at the Orleans/St. Bernard Parish line.

Best Hopes for More of the Progress we *HAVE* seen in recent decades,


Traditionally, inter-racial couples would move to New Orleans, as well as gays. Much less of that today.

Fear of racial or religious strife is frequently expressed here. We're not entirely joking when we mention the possibility of a future that involves burning evolutionists in the town square.

There have been quite a few Christians in the world who have been "burned in the town square" or some similar equivalent just within the last generation. I don't know of many evolutionists who have met such a fate.

Seriously, the prelude to persecuting a given people group - racial or religious - is to play up how dangerous they are. If you read twelve comments on TOD about how dangerous Christians in the Bible Belt are, with no one really dissenting, then the contrary view is probably closer to the truth; it is the Christians who are likely to be in trouble.

"it is the Christians who are likely to be in trouble."

Oh please! Give me a freakin' break! What do 12 comments in TOD amount to? Nothing. And no one, but no one, ever said anything remotely in the neighborhood of burning anyone in the town square.

Who does most of the "playing up" re: how dangerous a group is. Yep. Christians.

You are spinning the hell out of this in a really weird way. Why do you feel so victimized when it's atheists that are at the bottom of the popularity polls?

I do not personally feel victimized at all. However, what I said about Christians being persecuted and dying for their faith is most certainly true, as they have done so in large numbers in the past and continue to do so in some places today.

"what I said about Christians being persecuted and dying for their faith is most certainly true"

Not in the USA. Ever.

"as they have done so in large numbers in the past"

And as they have killed others in large numbers in the past. But let's not quibble over the box score.

"and continue to do so in some places today."

No doubt. Who is persecuting Christians, and perhaps even harming them, today? Certainly not atheists.

No doubt. Who is persecuting Christians, and perhaps even harming them, today? Certainly not atheists.

Before I respond to this, let me say that I am not trying in any way to associate atheists from TOD with the atheists responsible for running the communist governments of the last 100 years. Having said that, perhaps the majority of the persecution of Christians in recent times has been state-sponsored persecution of Christians in communist countries that propagate atheism as a matter of doctrine. North Korea probably is currently the worst about it.

I'm talking about the US of A, not North Korea. And for sure, Christians get persecuted in some places, Muslims in others, Hindus in others, and on and on it goes.

Now you are the one being close-minded. Try Chinese communists (atheists) who are persecuting Christians (and Muslims) in China itself. There's a nice batch of atheists for you doing what you claim doesn't occur.

The simple fact is that in a world of 6.7 billion people, any sufficiently large group is probably both persecuting and being persecuted somewhere at some time. You might take the advice you gave Ron about racism and apply it to yourself. Pot, kettle, black and all that.

See my response to N-guy.

I'm talking about the US. Not China, not North Korea. Presumably you are a Christian. Do you want to own everything done in the name of Christianity? In all places, in all times? I don't think so.

In this country (USA), Christians are a majority. The president himself claims to be a Christian (though it's hard to see any reflection of the Gospels in his actions).

China is an equal-opportunity persecutor - Christian, Muslim, whatever. It's not an atheist thing, it's a communist power thing.

It seems that every group is persecuted where they are not a majority. In the US, Christians are in charge. And so I found claims of persecution against Christians here a bit strange.

It is in no way analogous to my correspondence with Ron, so kindly don't give me "pot, kettle" stuff.

You are spinning the hell out of this in a really weird way.

Wierd? Naw......

Germans Now Denying The Holocaust™ Telepathically, Say Jews
March 27, 2008
by Michael James in Germany
BERLIN (IFPN) --- Germany's Central Council of Jews (ZJD) has demanded "immediate government action" in response to unsettling findings published in its quarterly social trends report, 'Virulent Anti-Semitism In Germany Today, Issue 1, 2008'.

The report highlights a worrying increase in anti-Semitic sentiment and, more sensationally, the dissemination of holocaust denial "by means of telepathy".

"It's very frightening and something I cannot ignore given my horrific ordeal in Auschwitz , which I miraculously survived by hiding in a chimney until the camp was liberated," says the ZJD's president, Charlotte Knobloch, who is currently suing Google for editorial control of YouTube.


"We know they're doing it," says Stephan Kramer, General Secretary of the ZJD. "They are evading punishment by spreading anti-Semitic propaganda and denying the holocaust without writing a word or moving their lips."


"Just the other day I saw a very relaxed German couple with their children spending our reparations money on ice-cream and hot dogs," says Shmuel scornfully. "They were deliberately and maliciously acting in a way that suggested they were proud to be German, without any sense of shame or guilt. I suddenly felt very threatened by this kind of unspoken anti-Semitism and was overwhelmed by the urge to radio an Israeli F-16 fighter bomber."

Possibly, though face it, we're a fringe group. Mainstream America thinks we're a bunch of nutters. What we think really doesn't matter.

In any case, I was talking about what people here worry about, not necessarily what will actually happen.

I think it's quite possible that when TSHTF, the fracture lines will be different than we expect. We tend to extrapolate from the current situation. That might not be accurate in the light of peak oil. In particular, when things go really wrong, I could see people turning against both science and Christianity. Simply because they didn't work; they didn't save us.

In particular, when things go really wrong, I could see people turning against both science and Christianity. Simply because they didn't work; they didn't save us.

You may be right. In addition to the idea that "they didn't save us", post-modernist type thinking seems to be on the ascendancy these days, and such thinking doesn't mesh well with either science or Christianity.

In addition to science and Christianity, all the experimental systems of economics and governance that have emerged since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution (Communism, whether espoused by Marx, or practiced by Lenin or Stalin or Mao; Liberal, Elected "Free-Market" Democracy, whether as practiced in Europe and the US/North America; or Fascism, whether as practiced by Hitler, Franco or Mussolini) will likely be similarly discredited. (if they haven't already been) And the "Liberal, Elected Free-Market Democracies" will also likely be blamed for being the enablers of the debacle.

Antoinetta III

My wife and I watched an old film the other day called "On the Beach" a 1959 film based on Neville Shutes novel of the same name. In the film the world population is dieing because of nuclear fallout. A US Naval sub ventures to Australia because it is the last habitable place on earth. As the wind carries the radiation and Australia fails the people are faced with extermination they have the evangelists out in force.

With all of the nasty events that are predicted for the next 30 years I can see Main Stream Christianity taking advantage of a frightened population and making a dark revival.

I personally am not merely agnostic. I am an ovowed atheist. It is my contention that if you believe in an all powerful Godhead that let's you conveniently off the hook. After all the "big guy upstairs will look after things. In the meantime I think I'll keep raping this living planet!"

My wife and I watched an old film the other day called "On the Beach"

Prob. the same 'liberal media' that broadcast "The Prisoner" in the weeks after Sept 11th 2001.

Be Seeing you #89506

Catch you later Comrade.

Maybe peak oil will be easier to weather in France or Costa Rica or the Ukraine. But you'll be a foreigner, no matter how well-assimilated, and that might not be a good thing when TSHTF.

One good thing about some countries is that they already have large American expat communities. I know people who have lived in places like France and Costa Rica, and they didn't mention assimilation as a problem.

But many of us here are atheists, or at least not very religious. Can we really fit in, in the Bible belt? Many of us are liberal, and might not fit into conservative southern small towns when TSHTF.

You could move to Sweden? If nothing unexpected happens migration will within a year be open for everybody who can find a job. The reason is both humanistic and part of a policy to attract skilled people in competition with other countries with aging populations.

This is also an issue for us expats. I happen to be in Korea, which considers itself a homogenous culture/people. This, of course, is an idealized, reactionary belief growing out of invasion and annexation by Japan.

Korea is sometimes called the Hermit Kingdom because it was incredibly insular in past centuries. That insularity helped give rise to the above-stated belief system. Adding to this, and the most distasteful aspect, is the focus on bloodlines. Every family has a register of their ancestry. (Tellingly, women marrying into the family are not listed by maiden names.) If one is not of Korean blood, one is not Korean. And by that I mean 100%. This is slowly changing, but the pervasive attitude is still thus.

Calling Korea ethnocentric is being generous. Highly racist is far more accurate. Informally, I have asked class after class over the years what it means to be Korean. I will give an example of a mixed-race Korean and get the answer from a majority of students that they are not, then, Korean. I ask about kyopos (ethnic Koreans either born abroad or raised abroad) and get back that they are, of course!, Korean. Now, the former speaks the language, is Korean culturally and by self-identification, and acts in every way Korean. The kyopo, on the other hand, is about as Korean as I am.

It is all too common for foreign men with Korean women to be verbally and even physically assaulted. The women are treated as if they are trash by such people. Mixed-race children are disdained, isolated and commit suicide and drop out of school at extremely high rates.

Into this milieu I throw myself and my family. In one of the most crowded nations on the planet, with ethnocentrism/racism normal, how wise is it for I and my family to remain here when TSHTF?

This is a very, very serious consideration for us.


how wise is it for I and my family to remain here when TSHTF?

Who knows? History of man's inhumanity to man favors none of us.

Race is a common reason for attacks. Another is the broad 'class' rank - the poor attack the rich.

Another is the broad 'class' rank - the poor attack the rich.

Ah, well, no problem there. I'll apparently be on the aggressors' side by default!


"A cat can have her kittens in the oven and call them biscuits. Doesn't make it so."

I've lived here for 30 years, very active locally, more people know me than I know. They come up to me on the street and I have no clue who they are but they know me. Raised 4 kids here, I fathered 2 and gained 2 in a second marriage. I'm still considered "from away"

A snapshot of small town maine.


Indeed. I recently attended a long and fascinatingly detailed talk by one of the leading forensic entomologists in Canada. She said that the most horrific and absolutely insane murders tended to happen in the more remote regions of the country. Strange things sometimes happen in the long, long winters...


Wolf, in YVR BC

I've noticed that myself. If you look at serial killers...the coasts have pretty garden-variety types. Son of Sam, the Hillside Strangler, Ted Bundy.

The really sick ones are in middle of the country. Like Eddie Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer. Maybe it's a backlash against all that wholesomeness.

middle of the country. Like Eddie Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Go Wisconsin!

A nice generalization and argument, but I doubt it holds water.

Montana's notorious Nathaniel Bar Jonah, who disposed a victim in the church spaghetti feed, learned his trade in MA and came west after prison release.

I have noticed a recent marked increase in the number of people going off and shooting a bunch of people in malls, schools, homes, street corners for no apparent reason. I think people are becoming increasingly unhinged, and everybody has guns. Life will get a lot more dangerous from here on out.

I have noticed a recent marked increase in the number of people going off and shooting a bunch of people in malls, schools, homes, street corners for no apparent reason.

On the contrary there's a very good reason the victims have been deprived of the means to defend themselves, don't hear of many mass shootings at gun shows or police stations.

I think people are becoming increasingly unhinged, and everybody has guns. Life will get a lot more dangerous from here on out.

Wolf, was that a forensic psychologist, maybe? (though long winters can certainly make you buggy...)

Oh, no, a genuine forensic entomologist: She studies insects involved with the reduction process of dead flesh (flies and maggots being a big one). Her work is used in many ways, but most especially in ascertaining time of death. The presentation was both fascinating and, well, gross...

Here's her webpage:

Dr. Gail Anderson


Wolf, in YVR BC

Ugh. Hope the presentation was before lunch.

I bet it was an entomologist. That is how you determine time of death. The maggots.

I guess an up and coming job. I read a page turner mystery several years back whose hero was a forensic entomologist. So good I can't recall the name of book or author :).

In "Gorky Park", maggots were used to rid a corpse of its flesh for later study... but I don't think the hero (in the movie played by William Hurt) was an entomologist.

"Strange things sometimes happen in the long, long winters..."

like this ?


Here's a classic article on a similar topic..
10 country do’s and don’ts

Out here, the wave is the primary social currency. Wave at everybody, whether you know them or not. If you see a guy standing by the road holding an axe dripping with blood, smile and wave cheerily. He might be butchering a deer and may choose to share some with you. You could be making meth in your basement, but as long as you wave and look friendly, people will think you are a good Joe.

In Eastern Iowa, its the good ol' 2-finger salute, like a peace sign standing on the steering wheel. But when not driving, the wave is standard.

Which is a good reason to get in the habit of: a) keeping your mouth shut, especially when tempted to express an opinion; b) practicing cheap chic, living as if you were poor, even if you aren't, so nobody envies you; c) being courteous, even to the point of obsequiousness; and d) doing nice things for your neighbors (buying their kid's Girl Scout cookies, lending a hand while they are putting up a fence, etc.)

WNC Observer,

I'm not referring to practicing (or not practicing) common courtesy. When a small group gets isolated from the larger world, strange thoughts seem to begin to run in their minds. Something like "Lord of the Flies," a book that many people - for some reason - related to.

Just a personal opinion... may not even be accurate.

I am astonished! Folks seem to be getting the message. Leanan and I often disagree on what the future holds but her post above, in my opinion, hits the nail on the head. It is time to think about what things will really be like as the collapse unfolds.

As to Lord of the Flies, Golding was a prophet. He, perhaps better than any other twentieth century fiction writer, understood human nature.

William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island's wild pig population. Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.

When it becomes a dog eat dog world, and it most certainly will in most places, our animal instincts will take over. Survival will become paramount and everything else will become insignificant.

Ron Patterson

I'm almost finished reading a book called The Mountain People. (Admittedly, I was skeptical after noticing Margret Mead's review plastered on the front of the book.)

For approximately two years, the author lives with the Ik people of Uganda, whose situation unfortunately goes from bad to worse in a relatively short period of time. Once the energy context changed, social relations within the tribe suffered almost a complete meltdown.

Here's a quote from the author, anthropologist Colin Turnbull. His experience among the Ik shook him (and his view of our evolved human nature) to the core.

It seems that, far from being basic human qualities, they [positive qualities and virtues] are superficial luxuries we can afford in times of plenty, or mere mechanisms for survival and security. Given the situation in which the Ik found themselves as I headed toward them, man has not time for such luxuries, and a much more basic man appears, using much more basic survival tactics. The much vaunted gap between man and the so-called "lesser" animals suddenly shrinks to nothingness, except that in this case most "lesser" animals come off rather well by comparison, displaying many more of those "human" qualities than the Ik did.

Yet the relationship between cause and effect is so undeniable that one does not blame or criticize the Ik; if anything, one admires them for surviving in spite of themselves. It is rather like catching oneself, in middle age, stripped naked in front of the bathroom mirror... The beautiful human, like the beautiful body, seems to be a myth perpetuated by the game of self-deceit, at which humans are so singularly adept. (pp. 32)

A sharp contrast to the author's prior book, The Forest People

Be aware that that book is highly controversial. Turnbull's work and methods have been questioned, and other anthropologists who studied the Ik dispute his claims.

He apparently never learned the Ik language, instead relying on interpreters, some of whom were traditional enemies of the Ik and may have had reason to portray them in a bad light, or simply did not speak Ik very well. He thought the Ik were hunter-gatherers, when they had a long tradition of farming. Half the villages he studied were not Ik at all.

The Ik themselves are still infuriated over how they were portrayed in the book.

Thanks for the heads-up. I'm glad you mentioned this because I was thinking about recommended this book to some friends and family.

What I will say, however, is that those criticisms sound like a load of PC bullsh*t to me. Another case of the PC crowd not liking the conclusions, which automatically makes the research "highly controversial". Much like it is "highly controversial" to point out that a person's race is heritable.

He apparently never learned the Ik language

False. Or at the very least, misleading, because Turnbull DID learn the language. Did he completely master the language? Of course not. But this is a far cry from "he never learned the Ik language."

Half the villages he studied were not Ik at all.

Wrong. Three out of the six villages Turnbull studied were HEADED by non-Ik people (but spoke Ik, were married to Ik, and pretty much considered to be Ik by other Ik). ALL the villages Turnbull studied were Ik (all 7 of the Ik villages were within sight of each other, and were located 2 days walk/climb from the nearest multi-ethnic populace).

He thought the Ik were hunter-gatherers, when they had a long tradition of farming.

If you had read the book, you'd see that this is largely beside the point. The Ik were legally forbidden to hunt. The Ugandan Government created Kidepo National Park in what formerly had been the Ik's traditional hunting/farming grounds. They were displaced. Consequently, they suffered extreme famine. Because the land that they were relocated onto, was not very conducive to farming. During the 2 years Turnbull lived with them, farming proved to be a disaster due to drought. Prevented from hunting, and on land that effectively could not be farmed, they were STARVING.

...other anthropologists who studied the Ik dispute his claims.

Did these authors study the Ik between 1964 and 1967, when they were starving to death? I don't think so. One the of the main themes that emerges from the book, IMO, is that under specific conditions, behaviors change. To study the Ik under different conditions is not the same thing as studying them when they are starving.

The Ik themselves are still infuriated over how they were portrayed in the book.

I'm from of a Plains Indian tribe. Even at our tribal college, very few enjoy reading negative things about our ancestors in the anthropological archives. Just like modern Easter Islander's may not like to be presented with negative portrayals of themselves. This does not make this anthropological research AUTOMATICALLY inaccurate.

Look, I'm well aware of viciousness underlying colonial history, as well as the various anthropological snow-jobs that accompanied it. But I also realize that the PC crowd has a rather nasty habit of using past atrocities to "guilt" modern audiences into disregarding legitimate scientific inquiry.

Thank you, Mathew for bringing up Turnbull's Mountain People. I loved his 'Forest People' back in college and this sounds like a PERFECT book-end for it.

"The much vaunted gap between man and the so-called "lesser" animals suddenly shrinks to nothingness..."

Boy are we going to be seeing a lot of that in the near future.

The more we look like, smell like, sound like, feel like and taste like the people around us the better off we'll be.

I don't think Turnbull's work is scientific at all. I think both his books - The Forest People and The Mountain People - tell you a lot more about Turnbull than about the people he studied. The Forest people were "good," the Ik were "evil." He allowed his personal feelings about them to dictate his findings.

The "PC response" would be to argue that what the Ik did was natural for anyone in those circumstances. That any of us would do the same if we were in that situation.

But there's proof that a lot of what he claimed simply never happened. Including from witnesses who were there at the time.

But there's proof that a lot of what he claimed simply never happened.

Such as?

Have you read the book? You appear to be accusing the author of being a liar. Because Turnbull is careful to only 'categorically' state concrete events that he witnessed firsthand (such as the death of a villager).

You seem to be simply regurgitating others' criticisms. And some of your regurgitations do not even accurately represent the actual criticisms (see above post).

Including from witnesses who were there at the time.

I'm assuming these witnesses are Ik. The Ik, like all people, are not going to be pleased that their tribe was portrayed negatively. This is called bias. It is a bias that is perfectly obvious to anyone outside of the PC crowd.

Turnbull spends the beginning part of the book explaining his personal history, potential biases, feelings at the time, preconceptions, etc. This allows readers to decide for themselves about Turnbull motivations. But one has to have read the book to get this.

A good rule-of-thumb: before criticizing something in a public forum, make sure you have actually read the source. In fact, really the only reason for a person to do otherwise, would be if they had some sort of prior agenda. We see this all the time in media pundits who misrepresent/misunderstand Peak Oil: the nature of the criticisms make it painfully obvious that they never bothered to go back to the actual source and find out what Peak Oil really is (for example, they will say, "Peak Oil is not true, because we're not running out of oil).

In my experience with the small towns in Oklahoma is that people are weary of strangers, but if you introduce yourself and look them in the eye, you aren't a stranger for long. This seems to work the way to the backwoods of Arkansas. Of course, it helps if you have some common interests. Church is more cultural than religious. Many of the guys I know go for the pot luck supper more than the service. Also, too many liberals forget that hunters were the original environmentalists. Its not so much about saving the planet as leaving something for those that come after you, like your grand children. Of course, trying to tell everyone how to live might get a very bad response.

Tedy Roosevelt was a liberal in his time and is idolized in most conservative circles and small towns.

Hello Ignorant,

How about this for a modern day 'Lord of the Flies'?

Cops: 3rd-Graders Aimed to Hurt Teacher

WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) — A group of third-graders plotted to attack their teacher, bringing a broken steak knife, handcuffs, duct tape and other items for the job and assigning children tasks including covering the windows and cleaning up afterward, police said Tuesday.

The plot involving as many as nine boys and girls at Center Elementary School in south Georgia was a serious threat, Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner said.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


Those Georgia kids did a lot of organized intelligent planning to do a stupid thing.

I see the discussions went off into areas I never expected. I KNOW that people hate because of big and noticable differences; but I was referring to the fact that people hate others (who look and think like them) because of insignificant (and often un-noticable) things. Heck, there's so much abuse and/or neglect internally in many families where all the members (?)probably(?) share the same DNA that it makes one wonder why most of us become so vivicous to others... maybe - as in "nature" - too high of a population density per unit area?

I brought it up because I've read several "peaknik" posts (elsewhere) that strongly imply that localized communal farms are the closest things that we'll ever see to Utopia. In my opinion farms will be what they've always been: a practical necessity... nothing more.

Did anyone else see the main article on CNN's web site where a mega-field estimated at 500 BILLION barrels of oil was found just offshore of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico! We're saved!! (Well, for another 10 years or so.)

~Durandal 04/01/08

I can't run my car on April Fuels.

Hi everyone. This is my first post, though I have been lurking here since the beginning.
I hope you enjoy my missive for this day:

Ya’ Better Get Crackin’
– A Collection of Hints and Humor for the Peak Oil Affectionado

When I first became aware of peak oil 5 or so years ago, I did a few things. First, I called my wife to tell her to go ahead and buy that new wool blanket she had been talking about. Then, I went out and bought a bunch of toilet paper and underwear.

Since then, I have thought about PO in a practical way. BTW I think Hanson was an optimist, and the idea is to enjoy the time we have left. I also believe that no man is an island. Any preparations made ahead of time are likely to go to the benefit of others – which is good. Its better to do something rather than nothing. And, its better to go down with a smile rather than a frown!

OK, let’s go, here is what I think we, the peak oil aware, should be doing long about now:

1. Stock the liquor cabinet. This is the highest priority item. I am not kidding! Obvious, no?
2. Make a plan. You’ll find this to be a rather vigorous and spirited endeavor having done #1.
3. Think birth control. This is key to any hope of sustainability. I am too squeamish to get the cut, so I took another tact. Let’s see, I am in my mid-40s, and I’ll live to mid-90s, say… so doing the math for past rates of intercourse and projecting forward, I went out and bought a lifetime supply of “protection.” That is, a box of 12. This actually leaves me with 2 to spare (hey, you never know, LOL). Boy I hope my wife doesn’t read this, I’ll be in trouble… and she’ll be wondering who I am planning to have sex with. As I am.
4. Share The Fuel Usage. Kindergarten stuff. I call this one “STFU” for short. As you might expect, when I point out to people to just STFU I am met with a most hostile response.
5. Think of the arts. The bottom line of energy use reductions is that we will be spending a lot of time at home without power. So, make it fun! Now is the time to stock up on cards, darts, board games, etc. Plus artistic materials. For the musically inclined think of these things: sheet music, strings, picks, sticks, rosin, reeds, springs, felt, etc. And for those inclined in other artistic areas: paint, brushes, sketch pads, canvas, writing implements, and craft materials.
6. Think of Capital Projects. Need a new roof? Is the front porch falling down? Now is the time to attend to these matters as big projects will be getting harder and harder to do.
7. Think “light.” I can live without HVAC, TV, and this and that. When I really think about it, the only thing I would not want to dispense with is light. Fortunately, light can be had for relatively little energy. Its really good bang for the buck for utility and also for security too. I went out and bought a bunch of LED lanterns, candles, and flashlights. Plus a small solar panel (ebay VW solar panel) and a battery bank (Power-It).
8. Stock up on good things. Some things just have an excellent inherent value to them that will be much enhanced post-peak. Things like the following: duct tape, clothesline, hand tools, garden tools, boots, blankets, buckets, tarps, first-aid kits, sharpening stones, etc. I have found excellent hand-operated versions of tools in antique store, e.g. hand-operated drills, grinders, etc.
9. You can’t depend on neighbors. With some thirty pounds of harvestable meat per carcass, you obviously can’t depend on your neighbors for long. Better to get along with ‘em. Actually, if you have been blabbing your yap, “peak oil this…” and “peak oil that…” then its actually the other way around. Your neighbors have every right to expect answers from you bucko’ when the going gets tough. If you don’t have any answers for them, then you better STFU, and
10. Ya Better Get Crackin!!

Oh, Leanan, here is some of my info for you: ENTJ, first-born, Aquarian. Shouldn't I be, like, president or something?


@3. Did you note the expiration date on your "protection"? It has one:-)

Well done; funny and strangely useful, too....

On my list are:

  • extra pairs of favorite running shoes
  • two extra laptops (I prefer Macs so they will be Macbooks)
  • 165W+ solar panels
  • dual-fuel camping stove (this is more for an earthquake; I live in California and my wife and I are putting together our earthquake kit; this stove can run on unleaded gasoline, too)
  • dual-fuel lantern (earthquake kit)
  • personal generator (earthquake kit)
  • solar radio (earthquake kit)

I want one of those "$100 laptops." Because you can power them with a crank or pedal.

Though not mentioned often it would be handy to have lots of goods that can purchased cheaply now but could be difficult to source in future and in demand as trade goods. Some of the almost endless possibilities...

Hand/bath soap (only the wealthy could afford this in days of yore), laundry detergent, shampoo, vinegar (many uses besides salad dressing), tooth brushes, baking soda (for your tooth brush plus lots of other uses), toilet paper, cotton towels, real chamois cloths (these are standard in air crew survival kits, use to bath or wipe ones self and then wash out and reuse-don't laugh, it works), bleach or chlorine, rubbing alchol, bug repellent, as many full propane tanks as can be afforded, quality outdoor grill with high temp side burners, coffee in vacuum cans, peanut butter...lots of it, soda crackers, they can be eaten stale, lots of preserves, tinned butter (from NZ), all natural apple juice, powdered milk, otc pain killers, lots of bottles of aspirin-cheap now but not forever, candles, standard kerosene lanterns and heaters, axes, hand axes, nails, sledges, splitting wedges, etc, etc, etc...

If someone you know has fresh food for sale how will you purchase it if dollars are not accepted? Trade/barter. It is amazing to see how quickly an exchange rate can be established in barter.

Hand/bath soap (only the wealthy could afford this in days of yore), laundry detergent, shampoo,

Buy sodium hydroxide/potasium hydroxide (or read caveman chemistry and figure out how to make in your own lead containers) to make ones own.

vinegar (many uses besides salad dressing)

ethyl alcohol can be converted into this.

tooth brushes

Pig fur + stick would be the old way

bleach or chlorine,

Again, caveman chemistry

rubbing alchol,

Or just plain drink'n kind.

bug repellent

Eat Garlic


(still looking for a reasonable bulk price on paraffin - you can use it for so many thing beyond burning....think "sealing wax")

axes, hand axes, nails, sledges, splitting wedges

As George Ure says - some of the cheapest and most useful metal you can invest in - used hand tools.


http://www.imsbarter.com/ has been buying many of the trade networks.

Eric, I agree that a lot of the items that I listed could be made in a bathtub if one wished to do so. However, my point was that now one can go to a Dollar Store, or equivalent, and buy this stuff for little money for future barter. IOW, why waste my time making this stuff when I can be out riding my motorcycle and having fun. After all, Cheney said that my way of life should not be compromised.

I did attempt to make some condoms out of used shower curtains but had complaints about the stiched seams...I located the seams on the outside.

Pig bristles and a stick? Sounds like a device used during the inquisition.

Blocks of parafin, about 2-4 lb, used to be available from catalogs peddaling high end wood finishing supplies. Don't know if they still sell the stuff. Untill about 30 years ago bulk parrafin could be purchased at many grocery stores. I don't think groceries carry it now. I have a few blocks in the shop.

You can still get paraffin a pound at a time in the canning section of any hardware store.

I usually just lurk, but here's my 2 cents on survival needs....
Knowledge - how to start a fire without matches; how to trap/hunt, skin, gut an animal large or small for food. If TSHTF in a very major way supplies of simple things like matches may well become totally depleted.
So, it might be prudent to start accumulating knowledge and skills as well as supplies now. Later might be too late.

I thought of those however I haven't seen one in person. No doubt it would be adequate for email and word processing tasks. I'm just not ready to give up on a full-powered laptop, however, not just yet.

A recent Macbook uses about 50W and the battery stores 5020 mAh of electricity. A Sanyo 195W solar panel can deliver 1.6 amps in full sun at 120V and a Macbook uses 0.36 amps while charging (amps = power / volts or 44W/120V).

The table below is from http://digitalcrusader.ca/archives/2006/10/household_energ.html.

MacBook - On & Charging 44W
MacBook - On 22W
MacBook - Charging but Off 44W
MacBook - Sleeping fully charged 1W

Given the above, I estimate that when hooking up my laptop to a solar panel (in full sun) the limiting factor will be the laptop recharging circuitry, not the solar panel.

But there's a problem with my logic somewhere because using the math above it would take 13 hours (5000mAh / 360mA) to charge my laptop from a completely depleted state -- and that's not my real-world experience at all. It takes more like three or four hours.

Can anyone see where I went wrong?


Are you losing some of the battery's power to heat?

Hi, 710. It's something in the math for recharging time.

Power = Current x Volts
P = I x V

If a charging laptop takes 44W (charging only), and it's plugged into a 120V wall outlet, the amps is 0.36.

If the battery is 5000 milliamp hrs, then 5 amp hours / 0.36 equals 13 hours of charging time, which is at least triple what actually occurs.

So either the 0.36 is incorrect or the 5 amp hours is incorrect (or both).

Well, P=IxV also applies to the battery - and it's highly unlikely the battery in any compact consumer item will be 120 volts, simply because 120-volt circuitry, built to a proper standard, would make the item rather less light and compact. So the 5020 milliamp hours are at the nominal battery voltage. That might well be 10.8 volts, which would give 54 watt-hours. (The power adapter voltage is usually printed on the adapter along with the UL certification and other info. It is often similar to the battery voltage, but that can vary with the computer's internal charging circuitry.) So, in principle, at 44 watts the adapter should deliver 54 watt-hours to the battery in about 75 minutes, except that (1) the charging rate normally has to diminish as the battery nears full charge, and (2) there are losses during charging, both in the adapter and the charger. At a guess, if it really is 54 watt-hours, you'll be feeding it 70 or 80 watt-hours to charge it fully - at least until, as it ages, the battery capacity diminishes.

Thank you. That's what I was looking for.

The adapter has 16.5 volts and 3.65 amps written on it. The input side has 100V and 1.5 amps listed.

Now everything makes sense.

For others who might be interested, Apple has a good diagram of the charging cycle PaulS described above.

Battery Charging Cycle

Note that on the naïve numbers, that's 150 watts in and 60 out. It's not really that bad, or the thing would smoke and melt down fairly quickly. There are issues of "power factor" and "crest factor" on the AC side which considerably complicate both the AC current measurement and its interpretation. The innards of a small adapter are usually such that the "root-mean-square" (RMS) AC current will be larger than the current computed using 120 volts and the actual wattage. The RMS current determines the heating of the wiring, so regulatory agencies will demand that the label show the highest conceivable RMS current with perhaps an extra fudge factor to compensate for the way people tend to overload AC power strips.

I have a somewhat underpowered laptop, the Asus EEE PC 2G. It is useful in many situations, although not perfect by any means. The charger is rated at 9.5Vx2.315A, so I assume that it runs about 10W - 15W continuous operation. In an emergency, it will certainly be better than nothing. Although not much better without internet access. Ebooks and downloaded anime I suppose.

Bah. Those fuel cookers are for pikers.


The lanterns burn most things 'cept alcohol. The units surge liquid into the mantle and the vaporize, thus blowing out the mantle. I have yet to try the custom alcohol version.

http://britelyt.groupee.net/prod1.html (note how it has 2 loops)

Will burn things like citronella oil so you get light and bug repell'n.

The stoves were not shipping for over a year (but now I have one) Still need to experiment with alcohol to see how well it does.

They can even burn bio-diesel (and I bet if you could pre-heat veggie oil hot enough it would work.)

Roarer burner styles will burn diesel. http://packstoves.net is where I think I bought 'em. She may not have them anymore - they came from India.

Great list...applicable for #3 and #8...an assortment of fossil fuel based toys work for birth control as well.

don't forget reading glasses and a straight edge razor

I plan on getting the snip. In a post-peak world, good healthcare to take care of any females I might share my bed with might be hard to come by. Child birth used to be a good source of death for women, and still can be. Those latex devices expire eventually.

In regards to stockpiling goods for trade, there's a number of discussions on that at my site. Alcohol, soap, tools, etc, etc are discussed.

One thing that isn't always mentioned is that unless you want to be forced to share your stockpile with the town or bandits, that you find a good way to hide your stockpile while still retaining access to it. It's been shown time and again that those with plenty will have their rations raided for the "good of the many." (Whatever that means. I call it mob rule.) People will not appreciate your ability to have forsight. They will simply take.

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

What we are talking about here is being better off than your neighbors without being SEEN as being better off than your neighbors. Tricky to pull off. It means that if everyone around you is starving, you have to be willing to go around more hungry than you actually need to, just so you don't attract suspicion. Thus, you can forget about being TOO much better off than your neighbors; settle for being just a little bit better off, and be happy if you can pull that off.

That's the tricky thing about barter, too. If you seem to constantly have a whole bunch more stuff to trade than anyone else, people start to wonder what else you have stashed away. You need to be able to occasionally pass up a trade, claiming that you don't have anything to swap.

Having stuff that you are producing on an ongoing basis, like eggs or honey or garden produce or firewood or handcrafts, actually puts you in a much better position. The neighbors see that you haven't stashed the stuff, just produced it, and know where it is coming from. They also should understand that if they get their rear in gear, they could produce something too. Might they be tempted to raid and loot? Sure, geese laying golden eggs have been known to be killed by stupid people. There are no guaranteed outcomes in this game.

It's been shown time and again that those with plenty will have their rations raided for the "good of the many."

And thusly the various religious edicts over not poisoning the foodstores. Or preservation methods that are poison - packing fish in lye

"...a bunch of toilet paper and underwear."
What a brilliant post - LOL!

...nd if you run out of toilet paper, you can always wipe your arse on that woollen blanket
your wife bought!

From the WSJ:

Billionaire Cashes In On Offshore Oil Rush

LONDON -- As a buccaneering oil trader, John Fredriksen shipped crude from trouble spots like Iran and used hardball tactics to build up the world's biggest tanker fleet. The son of a welder, this modern-day Onassis is now Norway's richest man, worth at least $7 billion.

He is also one of a new breed of entrepreneurs reshaping the oil business.

Behind a paywall, but as usual, you can get in through Google News. There's a nice graphic of what kind of rig is used for what depth.

Also from the Journal:

Americans Delay Retirement
As Housing, Stocks Swoon Nest Eggs Shrink, Deferring Dreams;
'Freaked Out' Elite
April 1, 2008

A three-decade veteran at International Business Machines Corp., Dick Boice had planned to sell his house, pack up and move to Arizona with his wife, Lauren, to take early retirement. But two months after the January date he set to exit the work world, Mr. Boice, who is 59 years old, is still on the job. He figures he'll stay put for another couple of years.

The Boices had counted on proceeds from the house sale to boost their retirement income. After a year on the market, the roomy colonial in Blue Springs, Mo., didn't move, forcing the couple to cut the asking price by $40,000 to around $250,000. The house remains unsold. Meanwhile, Mr. Boice has watched the value of his 401(k) and individual retirement accounts fall by roughly 20% so far this year, to a combined $240,000.

A half million dollars is not enough to last for a couple wanting a middle class retirement in Arizona. No social security till age 62 (they would be well advised to wait if in good health till age 65). An IBM pension that is NOT indexed to inflation.

Health care till age 65 & Medicare (and still supplemental insurance is needed). His & her cars in Scottsdale (or whereever in AZ), a new house, real estate taxes, etc.

By age 75 to 80, poverty if the world is BAU. Much sooner if inflation, recession, high oil costs, etc. eat into their nest egg.


The following article is poorly worded. I suspect that what they are saying is that current estimated proven reserves will be depleted in 10 years at their current rate of consumption, but in any case it is yet another warning about Russian production, by a Russian:

Russian oil is running out

Russia’s oil and gas reserves are slowly shrinking due to their constable production, says the rector of St. Petersburg Mining Institute Vladimir Litvinenko. He claims that Russia may run out of oil in 10 years and gas in 20 years approximately. 
 The professor noted that the volume of anticipated oil deposits is estimated at 40 billion tones, 25% of which are on the continental shelf. Besides, almost 90% of all discovered in the last century economic reserves of liquid hydrocarbons are already in operation, he added. 


Those numbers are on the money if he is talking about exports. But the west will be sure to milk the declining oil and exports from Russia as evidence of evil political motives since everyone knows there is an infinite supply of both.

hello dissident
AFAIK all Your posts contain an obvious bias which I think You know about. I mean, when I see Your new message I'm already generally aware in which direction it will be :) (and I'm a russian BTW)

Wall Street Fools..

The entire market today fell for Wall Street's trick of posting fake charts April 1st. Despite terrible economic news the Dow apparently climbed 250 points in the first hour of trading.

No link yet for some reason :-)

The market is up because the Sec. of the Treasury stated that the Treasury will allow the Federal reserve to deduct any losses from the Bear Sterns garbage that it has backstopped. There is no longer any risk in the market for the bankers, so the DOW will now go to 20,000.

Paulson acknowledged that this transaction could lead to losses at the NY Fed if those securities lose value, and agreed that in turn, this 'may reduce the net earnings transferred by the FRBNY to the Treasury general fund.'


Treasury = US Taxpayers

Treasury Bad Debt = Increased Taxes For US Taxpayers

The recent move by the Fed to bail out Bear Stearns was illegal. Only the US Congress is allowed to waste the US taxpayers money.

Bush wasn't kidding when he said 'the constitution is just another goddamned piece of paper.'

"Treasury Bad Debt = Increased Taxes For US Taxpayers"

who is going to increase taxes to pay down debt ?

The tax increase comes out of the devaluation of the US currency-a lot easier than raising federal taxes.

Dude: This was a surprise? The only positive is that their strong efforts to trash the US dollar will help oil and commodity investors.

A consumer culture, the number one driver of technology and innovation, is bad for the poor.

Adjusted for inflation, entry-level computers get less expensive every year. This is bad. We do not need computers.

Adjusted for inflation, entry-level automobiles get less expensive every year. This is bad. We do not need automobiles.

We do not need air travel (average trips per capita per year increasing since Wright brothers), we do not need insulation in our walls (keep those old 1950's ranches and their 65% efficiency boilers running), we do not need comfortable shoes, we do not need cordless or cellular telephones.

The greed of the consumer has done nothing but ruin the agrarian society Thomas Jefferson envisioned when he penned our guiding document.

If we had central planning, like China, we could get most of the unproductive, television addicted US citizens back into the fields scratching dirt where they belong. Fifty percent subsistence farming and no less, thats the way.

If the last fifty years has demonstrated anything, its that production selected by independent consumers leads to wanton, chaotic systems like the Internet and soulless, offensive practices like factory farming.

Transportation and its dirty friend international trade has done nothing for the world but spread technologies and ideas into places clearly not ready for them. Stop the sharing.

Finally an article that makes sense!

Except for the bit about China, I think you made the case for the article.

oil-fueled consumer technology is fun, but overall, it is a bust.

I pretty much agree with your post, but where do you get off on not needing insulation in the walls? The less insulation the more need for heat energy, the more time spent providing it, the less time available for doing anything else. I think that everyone needs all the insulation they can afford to install.

Adjusted for inflation, entry-level computers get less expensive every year. This is bad. We do not need computers.

I disagree. Most of our recent (last 10-15 years) efficiency/productivity advancements have come from computers. They are certainly going to be useful for industries we'll still need (solar, wind) where prototyped designs can be modelled on computers. Not to mention weather prediction and a ton of other useful things. I'm not talking Google Data centers here. But still, in a number of situations even the OLPC (with it's 6 watt power envelope) would be useful for a number of post peak tasks. In a post peak world the Internet and laptops will be more energy efficient for information exchange than books and newspapers will be.

Same for cellphones - the device that has really helped smalltime farmers in 3rd world countries (do I have a buyer for my food? When do you want me to come into town? etc.). The roaming communication it allows will make it an industry that will last for some time (because it's still useful, even in horrible situations of dwindling resources.

Cellphones + computers is the future of keeping worldwide communication to local areas cheaply.

"If we had central planning, like China, we could get most of the unproductive, television addicted US citizens back into the fields scratching dirt where they belong."

Eh?!?! YOU go to China, I'll stay here tending my garden and cleaning blued steel utensils. I guess the poor monks in Tibet just wanted to see themselves on TV. Oh, I forgot! They don't have TV.

Those that turned their guns into plow shares plowed for those who didn't. Central planning my tail, perhaps they can find you a nice job mining coal by hand.

That rant was supposed to be sarcasm.

I'll keep my comfy sneakers, base model pickup truck, two laptop computers, televised baseball, improbably breast-heavy chickens, occasional Carribean vacations and bananas from Equador, thanks.

Now I'm confused about the responses. Was it counter-sarcastic agreement? Can an Americanus Modernus really believe technologic advancement fostered by free markets has been a mistake?

"Can an Americanus Modernus really believe technologic advancement fostered by free markets has been a mistake?"

Man, what a loaded question! All the goods and the bads, the winners and the losers, the convenience and the environmental damage, etc. etc. and on and on.

My point being, what is an acceptable cost for "comfy sneakers (from China), trucks, 2 computers, etc., etc. ? Sweat shop labor? Killing the planet? Screwing our children and grandchildren? And does it simply not matter if you don't see that cost immediately and in your own back yard?

But leaving aside issues of "mistakes" and whatnot, occasional Caribbean vacations and bananas from Equador are probably impossible on a sustainable basis. And as good ol' JHK might say, they're probably "off the menu" for most of us soon.

You like your comforts, and for sure so do I, but let's don't confuse them with some sort of entitlement, and let's don't imagine that they'll come easy without cheap you-know-what.

This a direct effect of high oil prices:

Cost leads to drilling for oil in the backyard

The impact of reopened "orphan" wells is very hard to track because it involves thousands of projects. However, looking at the production data, I could not see any increase for California as claimed:


Isn't it the standard claim by cornucopians that price will drive discovery and recovery? Here is an example where reality meets faith and blows it away.

I saw an article about this someplace else, and the amount of oil involved was just plain trivial.

The number of wells mentioned in this article is 5,000 per year, up from 2,000 per year, so that sounds like 3,000 a year more wells, countrywide. If we are talking maybe 10 barrels a day from each well, that would be 30,000 barrels a day, or about 0.6% of US oil production.

Yeah, but I'd love to own just one of those wells... Thirty grand a month would build my Post-Carbon Hacienda in no time...



In years past my least favorite tree has been Ulmus pumila, the Siberian elm. But in recent years I've changed my thinking about this ubiquitous "weed" tree. I've come to realize that what I'd regarded as its faults are actually its virtues.

The Siberian elm grows ferally thruout most of the US. It manages to propagate itself under all sorts of climatic & edaphic conditions. From the mesic Midwest to the semiarid Southwest, U. pumila can be found growing. And it grows relatively fast. Not as fast as hybrid poplars, perhaps, but it's much less demanding of water than Populus species are. And its wood is harder, delivering more heat energy per unit volume (cord) than softwoods do.

Three "organic rains" fall from Siberian elms per year. The first is its seeds, produced in profuse abundance. Blown on the wind, these seeds wind up everywhere, sprouting in cracks in concrete, producing a crop of taprooted weeds in garden beds. These seeds & seedlings are a pain, but squirrels feed on them and squirrels provide a protein source for anyone with a trap, pellet gun or .22 rifle.

The second organic rain produced by U. pumila is the elm beetles. It's more difficult to see the virtue in these pests, so I'll skip them. The third organic rain is the autumn leaves, of course. These can be composted and are an unmitigated virtue.

In years past, my goal had been to eradicate U. pumila from my property. I cut them down, bucked them for cordwood, cussed at how difficult the elm rounds are to split, and derided them for not being as dense & calorific as oak or hickory. As much as I cut them, they resprouted with vigor from the stump and year after year, as I heated my house primarily with elm wood every winter, their biomass increased on the property rather than decreased. This propensity to resprout from the stump I regarded as a great vice, but now regard as a virtue. I don't have to plant elms to replace the ones I cut. I have harvested the same tree (genet) several times over the years. Unless the roots are where I don't want them, I no longer try to kill the tree outright.

By husbanding my elms and cutting them before they get so big that the rounds are hard to split, I've come to depend on the Siberian elm for around 80% of my fuelwood needs. A family can heat their home and cook their food on a well managed hectare of elms, I'm convinced. I can think of few other trees that grow so quickly, demand so little care, provide as good fuelwood (when well cured) and are as common as the Siberian elm. Sure, there are other trees that grow quicker but their wood is soft and has little heat value. There are better fuelwoods but these trees grow much more slowly and demand care. As fossil fuels become increasingly expensive, people will need to rethink the "weed" status of the Siberian elm, and come to recognize its apparent vices for the virtues they are, as I have done.

Wow Darwinsdog! I thought I was the only one! And I have found a use for the rain of elm beetles; I move the chicken tractor under the worst affected trees and give the limbs a good shake once or twice a day. It does not seem to change the taste of the eggs. My main gripe is trying to use the little suckering branches for kindling...all those side branches are a pain to prune off so I switched to basketry willow for kindling and I use the little elm suckers for hugelkulture beds.

darwinsdog, is this the same tree known in Central Florida as 'Drake Elm'? Thanks in advance.

After the rash of hurricanes took down several shade trees in our yard I dug out the stumps and replanted with some Drake Elms. They offer dappled to full shade, produce copious seeds, and seem to do well if I water them or do not water. Fast growers and they bend with the winds...important during a hurricane.

Those are chinese elms River. They don't get as big as the siberian ones and are not as cold hardy. Nice trees for FL though.

These seem prolific yet I don't have them on my property? I wish I could have a similar epiphany about box elder trees.

Some homes worth less than their pipes

Real estate brokers and local authorities say once-proud homes coast-to-coast are being stripped for copper, aluminum, and brass by thieves. Much of it ends up with scrap metal traders who say nearly all copper gets shipped overseas, much of it to China and India.

In areas hit hardest by foreclosures, such as the Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, copper and other metals used in plumbing, heating systems and telephone lines are now more valuable than some homes.

Police allege theft-to-order ring in Rust Belt

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The pitch to co-workers or bar patrons, police say, went like this: “Hey, anybody interested in buying a trailer?”

Many were. Big-screen TVs, riding mowers, motorcycles, frozen food and more exchanged hands in what authorities charge was a sophisticated theft-to-order ring in the Rust Belt region stretching from Cleveland to western Pennsylvania.

Leanan, theft to order is not new to the Cleveland to W Pennsylvania area. Have you ever watched the Sean Penn movie 'At Close Range'? Based on a true story, the gang in that movie was doing exactly what you described.

The gang also operated in parts of Md, NY, Va, and Ohio, and they were very organized with warehouses, distribution, etc.

One of their biggest targets was large, expensive farm machinery. But, they stole everything, even looting churches at times.

The gang was eventually broken up by an FBI task force but not before they murdered several witnesses that were scheduled to testify against them in court.

More fun with commodities...

Miners grapple with chronic off-road tire shortage

PARIS (MarketWatch) -- A chronic global shortage of giant off-road tires for earthmovers and mining equipment is having some unusual consequences.

OTR tires are starting to show up on auction sites like eBay Inc, offered for sale at prices that most people pay for a mid-sized car and manufacturers are trying to teach customers how to make their tires last longer. The worldwide shortage of giant tires up to 12 feet in diameter is a reflection of the mining boom that started in the early part of this decade when China and other emerging economies started demanding vast quantities of raw materials to fuel their growth, pushing up prices to unprecedented levels.

This is getting serious on the Carlin Trend; companies are poaching each others orders and the retread guys are almost indistinguishable from bandits! ;>)

Oh, and welcome back; we definitely missed you!

Another day, another marginal flight canceled....

Citing rising jet fuel costs, Continental Airlines said it will discontinue direct flights from Jackson-Evers International Airport (JAN-Mississippi) to the New York City area less than eight months after the flights began.

JAN is an international airport in name only, I think the Concorde landed there once when I was a kid.

That's kinda like the "international performing artist" that once did a gig in Windsor, Ont.

A glimpse through the mists of future-time:



Good to see your name, GWulffe.

'Closed for Business' or 'Bike Repairs' might be the other sign options up there.. guess we'll see.


Will the gas station really be empty (i.e. people stop buying)? Or will there be a long line of vehicles each waiting to buy 5 gallons with their fuel coupons?

Other than that, well done image!

Thanks much, folks.

Yes, I thought about the gas station's empty-ness and decided to simply let people arrive at their own conclusions.

The original photo was taken on 04 Dec 2007, right after a major windstorm swept through the region. (The wind carried away the numbers that had been on the sign, leaving a blank slate for me to use.) The power was out, and therefore many gas stations weren't operating. Of those that were, people lined up to fill gas containers to power their generators for heat and other essentials. Given my PO awareness, the scenes of long lines at working service stations proved rather eerie. In some areas, power was out for five days and more.


Wolf, in YVR BC

Wolf, Great piece of 'street' theater. I know that station and go by there occasionally. Your photo will likely come to mind now. If I can remember I'll get a shot of it when the date rolls around. (If the creek don't rise afore then)

Will $10.00/gal be the point when they finally drop that silly "9/10" nonsense?

I would think so.

Just imagine the cost of adding another digit onto all those plastic signs throughout the country!

On the digit note, I noticed a few months ago that all of the newer gas pumps have FOUR digit dollar places for the totals now. And the price per gallon display now accommodates double digit dollars.

A local station was still using old mechanical pumps until a few months ago. They wouldn't go past $2.99.9 a gallon, and the state had a law about the display of the price being accurate per gallon, so the owner couldn't price it per half gallon, which the pump could be calibrated to do. He found some used digital pumps and put them in. Another story to tell my grandchildren about "the good old days" when gas pumps had whirring mechanical numbers. Maybe about gas pumps at all.

Will $10.00/gal be the point when they finally drop that silly "9/10" nonsense?

Kerosene already is >$10.00 per gallon. I have several kerosene lanterns that I used to use when milking goats long before dawn. I haven't used them in years. Kerosene used to be about half the price of gasoline or less. When I recently looked for kerosene to fill my old lanterns with, I was shocked by how much the price had inflated. They wanted $11.99 for a gallon in a plastic container in a local hardware store. A petroleum product that used to be cheap and useful has now become outrageously expensive and hard to find. The future is upon us.

I think some of that high price has to do with how kerosene is sold at the hardware store. I haven't checked pump prices for kerosene, but I would imagine it would be cheaper since you are not paying for the convienience of having the kerosene in a pre-packaged 1 gallon plastic container.

Go down to the airport and buy some JetA fuel. :)

Durandal writes on April Fools day "Go down to the airport and buy some JetA fuel. :)"

Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel from the Gulf cost costs $2.93/gal this week. You can check that here-


Even that is playing havoc on my line of business.

Hey Wolfee, good to hear from ya.

I see your sig is from BC now.

No more soup for you. LOL

Still waiting for that "Alice Through the Bottleneck" sci fi bit, but I guess you got your hands full for a while.


Yeah, I guess I can't have that soup trucked up to me. ;o)

I'll drop by the next time I'm in town... We'll see how those gas prices go.

Indeed, I'm swamped with thesis work and hardly thinking about fiction at this point...


Wolf in YVR BC


MATS Report: Peterbilt developing environmentally-friendly hybrid and natural gas trucks

Peterbilt announced it will enter full production of its hybrid Model 320 Hydraulic Launch Assist (HLA) truck in the fourth quarter of this year. The hydraulic hybrid is well-suited for vocational stop-and-go applications such as refuse collection, company officials explained at Mid-America. Similar to the hybrid-electric drive trucks, the hydraulic system captures kinetic energy produced during braking and then uses that energy to help launch and accelerate the truck. However, that energy is transferred hydraulically rather than through the use of batteries.

Vast oil potential in Arctic, new data says


A U.S.-based company that has controversially laid claim to nearly all of the Arctic Ocean's undersea oil said Thursday that new geological data suggests a "potentially vast" petroleum resource of 400 billion barrels.

your killing me.
let slip the dogs of war

what if you were to invest your entire retirement savings in aoag ?

I landed in Europe yesterday to make a connecting flight to the Orient. An American traveler near me at the airport said that he spent $20.00 to buy 11.50 in euros.

Before the invasion of Iraq the dollar was worth more than a euro.

With a large percentage of the U.S. grain harvest scheduled to be diverted to ethanol, things might get worse. If the United States leaves their government on autopilot, it might not get better. More citizen education, action, and leadership will be required to make a better world.

Yes, it can get much worse...

'Looming dangers for the dollar' FT 3-31-08


'Sick as a sovereign wealth fund: how better to describe an investor who has done a very large and exceptionally badly performing deal? In the space of just a few months, SWFs from Asia and the Middle East have lost billions of dollars by recapitalising western banks. Such losses, and the rapid fall in the US currency, increase the risk that foreign investors will lose their appetite for dollar assets.'...snip...

'Rejection of dollar assets is dangerous for the US. A short-run risk is that US companies lose an advantage in international commerce: the willingness of their trading partners to price in dollars and so bear all of the currency risk.

A medium-run risk – the most important – is of a disorderly flight from dollar assets that makes Federal Reserve monetary policy ineffective, blunting its sword.

But a long-run risk is that the dollar loses its status as reserve currency. At present, foreigners’ desire to hold dollar cash and bonds as a store of value allows the US to finance its debt at low cost. The loss of that status would mean a permanent loss of wealth for the US.'...snip...

Those Asian and Arab banks knew they would lose money bailing out the US. It was imperial tribute, to protect the empire that in turn protects the wealthy all over the planet. Japan can't send Marines or the CIA to overthrow an elected leftist in South America, Saudi Arabia can't militarily protect its real estate in Lebanon, and some Arab fiefdoms can't protect themselves from their own guest workers.

Of course the US is also beginning to fail at this capitalist maintenance task, but it's unimaginable that anyone else could take its place in the role.

You'll know that things are REALLY bad when 1 US$ = 1 Yen.

WNC - What the hell does that mean? One US $ is no where near one Yen. Close to 100 Yen.

So if the dollar lost 99% of its value, we'd really be in trouble.

However, in the late 19th century the yen indeed was worth about one dollar. It crashed to about 50 to 1 by WW2, and was devalued by the US Occupation authorities to 360 to 1 in 1948, where it remained until Bretton Woods fell apart.

Not yet - but it is getting closer day by day

Article from Platts saying that Haynesville shale gas in north Louisiana may be "almost in the same league with Barnett Shale". It is still too early to tell, though. The article concludes:

But until some solid, repeatable well data emerges, the Haynesville will remain more diamond in the rough than diamond ring. As BMO Capital Markets analyst Dan McSpirit rightly noted in a report last week: "The proof (of Haynesville economics) is in how the wells get drilled and the rates of return such operations yield." He added, "These are early innings. Lasting value creation should be revealed later in the game."

Thanks for the link.

"Chesapeake, which said it had hoped to keep Haynesville secret"

Above caught my eye. They never really said why they desired the secrecy, but I wonder how common withholding such info is.

A smaller co I had invested yrs ago in, National Fuel Gas, just lost a bitter proxy fight because have it all investors wanted more. I stayed with the co not for "stellar gains", but I thought they had a sensible, unique plan. They had some gas reserves, some pipelines serving the northeast, and timberland and saw mills. They selectively harvested hardwood timber, and fed it to their mill, and drilled their gas for their pipelines. The proxy was over selling the timber and drilling like crazy with more debt on expensive directional wells. Mgmt had directional wells, but not enough $ fast enough for the others.

What are the other reasons for secrecy?

That's easy. Gas Prices. A mega field like this would have a downward effect on prices. Don't be surprised to see more of these "secret" gas and oil fields pop up in the future. The oil companies have a vested interest in keeping oil and gas as scarce as they can perceive it to be.

Right. That's why every little 3 billion barrel find in the Gulf is plastered all over every newspaper in the country.

IOC stock prices are set by their expected future earnings, which are based on their reserves. They don't keep reserves secret. They broadcast them to high heaven.

See comment below. But this answer also flies against the smaller producers, of which NFG and CHP are, in elevating their stock price. Which brings them more $ than the marginal amount their find might affect world prices.

Weren't you telling us all about how you only posted facts and not opinion?

Got any facts to back up your claim:

The oil companies have a vested interest in keeping oil and gas as scarce as they can perceive it to be.

Next thing you'll claim is a conspiracy - and well, that won't end well.

Eh its april 1st, I figured what the hell. Keep up the good work you internet forum posting tough guy. ;)

tough guy

The truth is big and scary....keep on posting the wishful fever dreams. Its not like YOU have to take any responsibility to make 'em happen.

Tried to edit the above by removing last question, but anti too fast. In any event, the question is most easily answered not by affecting the price of gas, but keeping nearby lease rates low.

From the Ban on oil speculation proposed article:

"The hard truth is the system is broken," [U.S. Rep. John B.] Larson said. "It's all because of speculation and greed."

Isn't that how the free market system works, you bid up a commodity until people no longer buy it - and then it corrects to where it's stable?

It sounds to me like he's talking about price controls. This sounds like the perverbial "Road to Hell paved with good intentions" scenario.

"It's the financial-services industry in this country that over the last few years has started telling the American people and the Congress of the United States that supply and demand no longer matter," Guilford said.

Isn't the system broke when subsidies are put in place; and/or the information about supply/demand is not the actual supply/demand? It certainly doesn't help to add price controls (note farming in Africa - price controls equate to lower production).

The problem always seems to be fuel costs instead of using less fuel (more home insulation, new windows, plant trees to block wind on your house, etc.).

This was mentioned yesterday and I thought it deserved more attention. If restrictions were placed on US markets wouldn't the speculators just move offshore? Is that how it works?

It's very confusing to me as well. If you want to stop people bidding up a commodity I would think you'd have to affectively put a price control on that commodity ($110 per barrel or something). But this would create a shortage. And doing it to the specific "speculator" would have the same effect, correct? It looks like semantics to me. I have no idea how you would "ban speculation" anyway.

Anyone with more experience on this have some input?

Rep. Markley proposed releasing oil from the SPR during a congressional committe hearing this afternoon.

In the short run, that's definitely the kind of thing which could cap oil prices.

Without speculators there is no liquidity in commodities markets. Both buyers and sellers will have trouble locking in prices so they can plan for the future. Prices will fluctuate wildly. Contracts will have trouble finding a counterparty. The result would be a disaster.

Re: "Life in the Burbs" (top link right now): this was broadcast on NPR's "Morning Edition" yesterday, and today they had another segment about another family, who moved from the burbs to an apartment in the city, where they can walk to work and shops, how much easier it is now and how much time and money they save. (Both families in the Atlanta area.) Really cool reporting, IMHO, except that they NEVER mentioned the possibility that oil may be in shorter supply. The issues raised instead were time, money, and climate change.

Michelle Carvalho's dreamhouse is 3,000 square feet. It has five bedrooms, a two-car garage and a big yard.

The Carvalhos didn't even look for houses near Emory University. There, a new house like theirs could be triple the price. And, Michelle says, buying a house far from her job didn't seem like a problem.

And there's the rub. I live near Emory, and there are plenty of reasonably priced houses (by today's standards anyway) for sale in nice older neighborhoods, perfectly suitable for small families. But yes, you'll find that trying to carry the 'suburban dream' into an urban environment will get a tad expensive.

Frankly I don't understand this obsession with palatial housing. Is it so bad to actually have to share space with family members? Is it a curse to be so close to your neighbor's house that you can talk without yelling? We sure have a strange concept of 'progress'.

Is it a curse to be so close to your neighbor's house that you can talk without yelling?

All too often, yes, it is a curse, absolutely. 'Cause if you're that close you hear everything, at least during nice weather with the windows open even a crack. And these days, too often, everything includes stuff like stereos pounding away their mad drivel until 3AM, which can leave you with a mighty hangover if you have to be at work by 7:30.

Now, in Japan, for example, it is (or at least was) considered extremely rude to make lots of noise like that, even during the day - after all, in order to get along with each other, crammed so tightly, they had to have rules. But Atlanta, or anyplace else in the US of A, ain't Japan.

Plus, the affordable houses in "nice" older neighborhoods tend to be fixer-uppers. They may be well-built, but they're still old and something is always breaking. Some buyers may be OK with that, others may not want the constant hassle and disruption. YMMV.

Plus, the affordable houses in "nice" older neighborhoods tend to be fixer-uppers.

There's no need to put 'nice' in quotes. They are nice. They have schools and shops within walking distance, neighborhood associations, and available public transit. You're correct in that many would be fixer-uppers, but then weigh that against the opportunity cost of a 2-3 hour daily commute.

As far as the noise problem goes I've been pretty fortunate. Loud stereos in adjacent apartments were always a problem, but no such issue with the house. But no, with the kids playing at the nearby playground and the sound of the train whistle as it passes through town, I can't sit back and pretend I'm the only person on the planet. And I like it that way.

By your inclusion of schools in your list, a subset of our current abysmal educational system, "nice" does belong in quotes.

"but then weigh that against the opportunity cost of a 2-3 hour daily commute..."
...I can't sit back and pretend I'm the only person on the planet. And I like it that way."

Well, yes, exactly. And when different people weigh these factors, especially in a society that occasionally seems almost too diverse for its own good, they come up with different answers.

P.S. the quote marks were actually just intended as quotes, sorry for any misunderstanding. However, as 710 points out, the schools are another factor that often needs weighing. The schools serving city neighborhoods, even nice ones, are often problematical. If living in an outlying area avoids private-school tuition for a couple of kids, that offsets a staggering amount of mortgage.

Plus, history has shown that the government will loot everything in sight to try to prop up house prices, as it is doing right this very instant and as the election-year candidates are promising to do even more intensively. So unless one goes head-over-heels in a super-bubble location - as some did - a large-ish mortgage may, even now, still outdo any other retail investment, all the more so if the area shows promise of developing some of its own amenities, as many outlying areas have. Even with the recent drop, house prices have still exploded, viewed over any reasonably long time frame.

P.S. the quote marks were actually just intended as quotes, sorry for any misunderstanding.

Not a problem. Guess I'm a bit defensive when it comes to my little neighborhood. :-)

You're right, there are a lot of other factors to consider. My only real gripe was with the people in the original article who were lamenting the lack of affordable housing close to town. What they really meant was that they couldn't afford a life of splendid country isolation close to town. It's rather like saying, "I'd love to live in the city if it weren't for all those... people."

Many of these little neighborhoods collapsed 30-40 years ago when the middle class fled to the suburbs. Now this same middle class sees the advantages of moving back, but only wants to do so on their terms. At least ten small homes in my neighborhood have been bulldozed over the past few years and replaced with faux-chateaus, 80% of which remain empty, priced well beyond what the average buyer can afford. This is one of those inventions of suburbia that I wish had stayed there.

"trying to carry the 'suburban dream' into an urban environment"

kind of sad isn't it ? but wont the carvalho's wake up one day and say what's the point? i hope so, but probably not.

Frankly I don't understand this obsession with palatial housing.

To have room for all of one's junk, of course. Seriously though, I think this goes hand in hand with a kind of suburban nesting that has most of us spending more and more time in the home. For the really well-to-do, going out gets replaced with home theaters, game rooms, and big gourmet kitchens.

Argentine farmers close roads, withhold food

Small farmers complain that they have been unfairly hit by a March 11 presidential decree that hiked export taxes on soybeans from 35 percent to as much as 45 percent, and slapped new duties on other farm exports.

Fernandez says the measure is intended to help stem rising inflation, which officially topped 9 percent last year despite independent projections it went above 15 percent.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the linked info. Withholding food is a mild blowback compared to the multiple blowbacks in this stupid human act:

Amid fears of a rice shortage, communist rebels in Iloilo burned two delivery trucks packed with bags of the grain.

Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City said some 15 New People’s Army rebels in Tubungan, Iloilo, stopped the two trucks in Barangay Balikwa Sunday night, forced the drivers to flee, and poured gasoline over the bags of rice before setting them on fire.
Let's see: wasted gasoline, food, and vehicles ASAP--what idiots!

Also read the link to see why food subsidies won't work: creates instant corruption.

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


Towards Bio-inspired Hydrogen Production Without Noble Metals

Using hydrogen as an energy vector and in fuel cells may provide solutions to the specific energy challenges of the 21st century. Hydrogen production is currently based on the catalytic properties of “noble” metals such as platinum. For the first time, researchers at the joint Laboratoire de chimie et biologie des métaux (metal chemistry and biology, CEA-CNRS-Université Joseph Fourier, CEA's Grenoble site) have succeeded in producing hydrogen with a molecular system that doesn't require a noble metal catalyst. This outcome has important implications for the financial future of hydrogen energy.

most folks here know I've thrown more than half my eggs into the local food basket, so I watch food prices very closely.
My question to you is: with all the talk about airlines taking it in the shorts with high fuel costs, when will the price of air freight food start to rise? At my local co-op I can get bell peppers at a reasonable price, grown in Chile. What gives? Bell peppers can be grown, transported to a plane, flown to the U.S. (pheonix?) trucked to my remote Nor. Cal. village and sold at a profit? They are even cheaper at our safeway.
I know the difference between shipping people and freight.
The Soil Association make a big deal about air miles and food. Forgetting about the ethics of it, when do the economics of it stop making sense?
It's my guess that the air freighted food industry is powered by nothing more than inertia.
I don't know, just looking for a reality check I Guess.

"Oil Execs Grilled Over High Prices"
Big Oil Wants $18 Billion in Tax Credits. Congress Asks: Is that Fair?


Top executives of the nation's largest oil companies appeared before Congress today to explain why they should continue to get billions of dollars in tax breaks, given the current record high prices for oil and gas.

Energy hearings in Congress are on C-SPAN3 right now. So far, we've heard oil majors telling us that peak oil is a myth.

Hearings are over. Congress is basically clueless; there was only limited discussion of peak oil, and a lot of talk about speculative bubbles; even a suggestion by Rep. Markey that we release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to "pierce this speculative bubble"

Sensenbrenner blocked a few questions at the end by objecting to a unanimous consent motion to allow members of congress not on the committee to ask questions.

Another bit of anecdotal evidence about the weakness in the "construction" portion of the economy here in the northeast.

I've been working off and on at a gas station soil remediation project - today was my first day on-site in several weeks after lots of really lousy weather.

Spent about 6 hours on the site, just me (the project geologist) and a guy running an excavator from a local construction company - and in that short amount of time, three workers from other companies (or their own company) stopped by to see if any work was available related to the project we were doing. Two guys offered trucking and / or a source of backfill material / paving / masonry work while another was trying to sell heavy equipment lubricants.

In about 12 previous years of doing this kind of work I can't remember even one other time that other contractors stopped by looking for work. It was usually just the opposite - call for their services and you'd be lucky to get put on their schedule a few weeks out...

But, no worries - the stock market is up about 400 pts. today...

Re PO preparedness, here's an intriguing story from San Diego, CA...anyone have background on this episode?

The wife of a former student of mine (he's in grad school in San Diego) was at a conference last week focused on "Business Sustainability" put on by the City of San Diego in conjunction with UCSD. Many big companies in San Diego were present, as was the mayor and many other local officials.

Most of the presentations concerned conservation with the motivation being environmental preservation. One presentation was specifically about peak oil, suggesting that wider public discussion of PO might actually be catching on.

What she found more interesting, however, was the reaction to the presentation. Things started normal enough. Peak oil was described and defined. Then the presenter began going into some of the effects of peak oil, including the fact that energy as we know it will no longer be possible. She noticed the conference organizers getting a bit nervous at this point. The presenter continued on to describe how governments were overestimating oil reserves in order to deny peak oil has been reached. As this point the presenter was escorted off the stage by the conference organizers, who she quoted
as saying, "Enough, enough."

He says "I find it very interesting that discussions of reducing waste and conservation are completely acceptable if the goal is to save the environment. In this case "we" are in the driver's seat and choosing to make the changes at our own pace. When the changes are forced upon us, however, with peak oil for example, it suddenly becomes an inappropriate topic and uncomfortable to discuss. Those who present change as being necessary, and therefore imply that our current way of life is destined to failure, quickly get labeled as "crazy" and are ignored altogether."

Hello TODers,

Are my suggested "Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK' starting to be built?

A sudden surge in warehouse demand has sparked the biggest speculative industrial construction boom in Tulsa since 1999.

Another possible example in the UK?

Distribution giant Gazeley wants to put up seven warehouses and a rail freight interchange, known as Magna Park, across 135 hectares of countryside between Park Farm, Stanground and the train tracks of the Felixstowe to Nuneaton line.

Recall my earlier suggestion for those that don't own land and have small amounts of cash: get with a farmer to help finance the early purchase of NPK, then split the cost savings [current market $ - early market price] on the day he applies your fertilizer.

'Frightening' fertiliser costs pile pressure on to farmers

The cost of a 2t pallet of 10-10-20 hit €1,100 in some parts of the country this week, as fertiliser prices continued to surge out of control.

Merchants and co-ops have confirmed that fertiliser charges to farmers are to increase again this week, the second such hike in less than a month.

Fertiliser prices have now increased on six occasions since October..

In June-July the prices for potash fertilisers on the spot markets will increase to $700 pt, Oleg Petrov, the deputy director general of Belarusian Potash Company, told reporters in Minsk on April 1.

According to him, triggered by the deficit of the commodity, the prices have been rising faster than predicted. In autumn the prices on the spot markets can increase to $800 pt, Oleg Petrov believes.
Will the world ever realize that we need biosolar mission-critical 'real-asset banks' versus 'ficticious banks'?

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

A friend of mine is traveling in Laos. He was surprised that large towns have a 10pm curfew. Reason is they turn the power off, which they only get a few hours a day of anyway. His major gripe was that he couldn't get a cold beer...if he only knew.

Lighting is a well documented crime prevention method.

(and lo and behold one of my electro bikes was ripped off during an aggressive thunderstorm - power outage suppressed the home made security camera system and the noise of the storm helped cover the sounds of wood splintering under force.)


Algae: 'The ultimate in renewable energy'

"By going vertical, you can get a lot more surface area to expose cells to the sunlight. It keeps the algae hanging in the sunlight just long enough to pick up the solar energy they need to produce, to go through photosynthesis," he said. Kertz said he can produce about 100,000 gallons of algae oil a year per acre, compared to about 30 gallons per acre from corn; 50 gallons from soybeans.

SBS Australia's Insight program covered the Future of the Car last night.


The Insight links are on the left hand side of the page - video and comments.

The program is a combination of short videos followed by discussion with experts and the general public.

One highlight "Petrol prices will triple in the next three to five years"


Hello TODers,

An example of when the 'strike-anywhere match' of sulphur becomes Unobtainium:

The sulphuric acid plant has been shut down for the last one month as the price of sulphur has gone up from Rs.4,000 to Rs.28,500 a tonne during the last six months, TTP sources told The Hindu on Tuesday. As much as 100 tonnes of sulphuric acid is needed for carrying out five chemical reactions and to ensure working of the plant. Operation of the plant has been hit due to shortage of the acid. Efforts to procure acid locally have not been successful and production of titanium dioxide has come to a standstill.
My guess is the I-NPK processing plants easily outbid this titanium processor for any available sulphur. Isn't titanium used to make a durable and sharp razor blade? My guess is that postPeak people will prefer to eat-- growing a beard, or dragging a dull blade across your face is no big deal compared to hunger. Expect women with hairy legs and armpits to be the social norm.

EDIT: Notice the SEVENFOLD sulphur price increase in 6 months! Much faster than the price increase of oil. The rising cost of energy is what is the true root cause of driving these commodity increases-- Moore's Law does not apply. Ever try melting sulphur with strictly human power [no firewood or FFs allowed]?

Melting point 388.36 K
(115.21 °C, 239.38 °F)

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

Thanks, Bob;
Great example of the Complexity in the Simplest of things in our homes..

I'm always looking at the mess of manufactured stuff around me and wondering which materials in them are fairly banal and easy to access or substitute, and which (few?) are precious and difficult to come by, and we just take them all for granted as beneficiaries of this Energy Trust Fund that we were born into..

Bob Fiske

(My 'Lego' -Barrows are getting more like "Erector-set"-barrows these days. I am just a big kid, in love with my SpeedRail collection! I think I'll give the Allen-wrench an Honorary name of Alan-Drake-Wrench. Developing a Velo-Trike with a 'Skin-over-Wood' Fairing like a Kayak! Maybe a Trundle Seat for my daughter..)

Is that "Rumble-Seat"?

I'm confused. I thought there were huge piles of surplus sulfur virtually everyplace oil is refined or H2S is separated from oil or gas. Since you've been looking into this, did those mountains all suddenly disappear? To where? China? Or is the stuff somehow stranded for lack of transportation? Or ... is this simply yet another uninteresting local problem inflicted, this time, by the normal, everyday, routine, obstructive behavior of India's 'licence raj'?

Hello PaulS,

Thxs for responding. My previous links, especially my posting in the March 31 Drumbeat, will help you see that sulphur pricing is rising everywhere because it is so widely used, and new uses or methods are increasing at the same time [ex: acid gas EOR, sulphates for topsoil, pesticides, sulfur concrete, etc].

I was reading about refineries and alkylation products [gasoline additive to reduce engine knocking] and stumbled upon this [30 page PDF Warning] link:

Needless Risk

Highly toxic, hydrofluoric acid has many acute
consequences for human health, as well as the
ability “to kill people on the spot"...

.Of the 148 petroleum refineries in the
United States, 50 use hydrofluoric acid in
their processing or store it on-site. The
remainder use safer alternatives, such as
sulfuric acid.

• These 50 refineries, using and storing 10.6
million pounds of hydrofluoric acid,
endanger more than 17 million people
living in surrounding communities in 20
different states.

• With 12 refineries using hydrofluoric acid,
Texas has more than any state. Louisiana
has five oil refineries that currently use
hydrofluoric acid, and Montana has four.
I would imagine these facilities are eliminating their HF-acid, therefore they are using lots more sulfuric acid, or moving to catalysts--thus their sulphur surplus for other uses is reduced, further driving sulphur pricing. It also helps me understand why alkylates are so expensive.

Hope this helps. I have lots of postings in the TOD archives for more info [Advanced Search Google is your friend].

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


There are probably some good environmental reasons for not making all of it into sulfuric acid, but it's still one of the most abundant elements.

Isn't titanium used to make a durable and sharp razor blade?

They are nice but you can make razor blades from tons of different metals and materials. In the old days they were made of Obsidian. Today they are often made of stainless steal or even better carbon-steel (another marvel of modern technology).


Best hopes for further razor blade technology.

Leanan, thanks for all your hard work! Your posted story on Champion Air bankruptcy is further evidence of peak crude oil and its current impact on the airline industry.

As jet fuel increases and economies slow, consumer spending on air travel will slow. Jet fuel is made from crude oil not from NGLS or ethanol.

Now there's two recent airline bankuptcies - Champion and Aloha

Aloha to two Airlines April 1, 2008

Global Load Factor Falls Mar 31, 2008

GENEVA - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released international traffic data showing that the global passenger load factor (PLF) fell to 73.3% in February. This is 0.6 percentage points below the PLF in February 2007. Moreover it is the most significant drop in the PLF in 4 years.

IATA revised the global airlines 2008 profit down to only $4.5 billion or 0.9% of sales.

With fuel costs rising, the US market in recession and competition intensifying, the only way to limit the damage to profitability will be to take out capacity or squeeze out further efficiency gains. Non-fuel unit costs have been slashed in recent years with gains in labour, aircraft and distribution efficiencies. Airlines already run lean operations so further efficiency improvements will be challenging, but nonetheless critical.
The headwinds facing airlines look too severe to be overcome by squeezing out further efficiency gains. As a result we expect net profits to fall to $4.5 billion. The risks to this number are clearly on the downside.

So they know and yet they remain silent about it to the public:

" I told him about a conversation I had with Secretary [of Energy] Bill Richardson’s assistant, who had just visited the OPEC countries to see exactly how much spare [oil-production] capacity they had left. I said, “When you have someone who is the head of U.S. oil policy call you and [say ‘shit!’] about five times in 20 seconds, this is so much worse than what they’ve warned us about.” "

But I am surprised he admits to this:
" I said, “Between now and the election, if this all breaks out and Bush is misinformed, he can mispronounce every head of state in the world, but this, this will sink you.” And that dragged me into helping create the comprehensive energy plan put forth by Bush when he was running. "

How did that plan go now? Was it something like, continue to allow fuel economy to dip, amnesty for illegals, more H1-Bs, more legal immigrants, less birth control for the country and the world, more tax breaks for oil companies than for alternative energy. Yep, that was a great way to handle Peak Oil.

I usually get a kick out of The War Nerd. He has a good post up on last weeks shoot-up in Iraq, for those of you with a taste for dark cynical humor, along with some good straight up analysis.

I know there are people who passionately believe [that the war was a design to grab Iraqi oil], but it doesn’t have a lick of truth to it.

Wow! My estimation of Matt Simmons has just dropped more than a few notches.

Ditto. I wonder why he thinks we're in Iraq? And the reasons for the myriad gargantuan screw-ups along the way?

“Ditto. I wonder why he thinks we're in Iraq? And the reasons for the myriad gargantuan screw-ups along the way?” Posted by 710

In the beginning, Shrubco’s fantasy was that the fighting would be over in a matter of days, that we would be received as heroes, with flowers thrown at our troops, and all that rot. Had this actually happened, Shrubco envisioned, under the rubric of “spreading democracy” seeing an elected government installed. Via extensive contributions on the part of those large corporate entities standing to reap vast profits (oil related and unrelated alike) both financial and in organizational capacity (donating campaign managers and organizers, admen, etc.) the election of a government favourable to opening up Iraq’s oil to the IOCs, and with sweetheart deals for the latter, was felt to be pretty much assured.

Of course, all this failed when the fighting persisted. Its pretty hard to drill and pump oil when you’re being shot at and cats are running around out in the desert blowing up pipelines and stuff. Less oil is being produced than in Saddam’s time, at least pre-sanctions. Since Simmons is connected to the Bushies, is it possible that he just doesn’t want to face the fact that the whole thing failed?

Antoinetta III

Axis of Evil. GWB is a simple fellow, not the mastermind most people seem to take him for. He's simply being a super duper christian, doing God's work, eliminating what he sees as 'evil'.

Yes, the good gardener, "Being There" and rooting out the weeds that might upset the purity of our democratic paradise. :-)

He may be right - There are so many reasons that could be a factor. With many reasons playing to many peoples pet ideas/projects - Matt might be right.

Scientists in the U.K. have reported evidence that further refutes one theory of global climate change.

In the heated debate over global warming, there is an opposing idea, called the cosmic ray theory, which contends that climate change is simply caused by cosmic rays coming from the sun.

However, researchers at Lancaster University reported in the Institute of Physics journal that there has been no correlation between solar activity and the Earth’s climate.

Reference: - http://lifeofearth.blogspot.com/2008/04/researchers-sun-is-not-cause-of-...