DrumBeat: January 18, 2009

Gulf states delay projects to lower costs

Gulf oil producers are delaying some of their projects in energy and other sectors to take advantage of a steady decline in construction costs as a result of the global economic crisis, according to a Saudi financial centre.

Although state-owned oil companies in the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) have sufficient cash to fund planned capacity expansions and new hydrocarbon ventures, some of their projects could also be delayed because it will be more difficult for contractors to obtain credit to finance their work, said the report by the Riyadh-based Jadwa financial and investment consultancy centre.

It said the short-term outlook for oil prices has worsened due to the global financial crisis but has improved in the medium and long term on the grounds higher cost of raising finance will ally with lower crude prices to reduce the attractiveness of non-Opec supply and alternative energy sources.

Cheap oil may delay GCC's shift to clean fuel

Supported by low oil prices, GCC states may continue to use petroleum distillates instead of implementing plans to switch over to clean fuels, a senior analyst with Merrill Lynch has said.

Gustavo Soares, a senior commodity strategist with Merrill Lynch, said with oil prices hitting rock bottoms, it might seem irrational in the short term for the Gulf states to generate power with "anything that's not oil". He said government incentives to switch over to low-carbon energy sources can ensure green energy projects are not abandoned.

Exclusive Interview with Jim Rogers: Inflation Is Coming

You’ve said that over the long term, the US dollar is doomed. What are your thoughts on the British Pound?

Rogers: More doomed. It will disappear sooner. If it weren’t for the North Sea, the British Pound would have already disappeared. It’s more doomed. The UK has been exporting oil for 26 years; within the decade, the UK will be a net importer of oil again, and they have nothing else to sell to the world once the oil dries up.

Arab oil income dips by $108bn in Q4 due to output cuts, low prices

A steep fall in crude prices allied with lower output will cost Arab oil producers nearly $108 billion (Dh396bn) in the last quarter of 2008 but their income climbed to an all-time high through the year, official figures showed yesterday.

Seven Ways to Play Both Oil Scenarios

Right now, world production for oil is about 73.8 million barrels per day (mbd). But apparently we’re not using quite that much and we don’t have anywhere to store the remainder. That is part of the reason that prices have cratered.

Traditionally, OPEC would slow down production. If you can sell oil now for $36 and in June for $51, why pump any now? Save it for later and boost production during higher prices, right?

Well, they are not doing that. Production is still at 99.6% of what was pumped at June’s record highs. The question is why. There are two theories. Generally, oil-producing companies are not the most forthcoming with reliable facts, so it’s hard to confirm either one.

Report: Iran cuts oil supplies to customers

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian media says the country has reduced its oil supplies to Asian and European customers in line with OPEC's latest round of output cuts.

Explosion at fuel depot in Indonesian capital

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Firefighters were battling a blaze at a major fuel storage depot in northern Jakarta Sunday, officials said. No one is believed to have been hurt.

It was unclear what started the fire, but "explosions were heard from the tank," said Afendi, a worker at the Pertamina national oil company fuel depot.

Fear, suspicion plague northeast B.C. community after pipeline bombings

Residents in and around Tomslake, B.C., say months of tension and suspicion about pipeline bombings have driven a wedge between people in the community.

Gunmen attack vessels at Nigeria oil loading platform

LAGOS (Reuters) - Gunmen opened fire on at least two oil vessels at Nigeria's Bonny crude oil loading platform late on Saturday, kidnapping six crew members in what the country's main militant group said was meant as a warning to the industry.

Venezuela's Chavez says Obama has "stench" of Bush

CAMPO CARABOBO, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday Barack Obama had the "stench" of his predecessor as U.S. president and was at risk of being killed if he tries to change the American "empire."

Which Parts of the U.S. Will be Hardest Hit by Global Warming?

It’s difficult to predict which areas of the U.S. will suffer the most from global warming, but it’s safe to say that no regions will be unaffected. Scientists already point to increased severity of hurricanes on the East Coast, major Midwest floods, and shrinking glaciers in the West as proof of global warming’s onset.

Mergers in pipeline as oil industry's fairytale era ends

Oil companies enjoyed record earnings over the last couple of years and have in some cases been spending billions of pounds rewarding investors through share buybacks. Service companies such as Schlumberger and Halliburton have also seen profits soar as steadily increasing crude prices led to a drilling boom that enabled them to charge much higher prices for providing rigs, well work and personnel. Until last year there were huge shortages of equipment, and massive inflation, in the industry. But now that situation is changing fast.

"In my 30-year career I have never seen before so many in the industry - even the most conservative companies - believe so hard in the fairytale of unjustifiably high crude prices," says Fadel Gheit, analyst with Oppenheimer & Co in New York. "We saw a range of mega-mergers in 1998 when the price collapsed to $9, including BP taking over Amoco, Exxon acquiring Mobil, and Chevron buying Texaco, and I would not rule out a similar outcome this year."

A 'moon shot' for Obama

Here's what Obama should do: Embark on a massive drive to build more nuclear and natural gas power plants. In the campaign, John McCain called for 45 nuclear plants, which sounds like a good start.

Nuclear power plants provide good jobs, but that benefit pales by comparison to their larger importance. They provide clean, safe and virtually unlimited electricity for businesses, homes and even cars. More nuclear power would help to free America from dependence on other nations by, for example, eliminating oil-fired power plants and their corresponding pollution.

Unit 4 of Bulgaria's Kozloduy Nuclear Plant Ready for Restart in One Week

The Executive Director of Bulgaria's nuclear power plant at Kozloduy Ivan Genov announced Sunday that the 440 MW Unit 4 could be turned on in a week as long as the Bulgarian government managed to get a permission from the European Commission.

Saudi Arabia to export power in 5 years

(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia will start exporting power to the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the next five years, according to a power expert.

Delivering his keynote address on "Recent trends in power and water supply," Paddy Padmanathan, CEO and president of ACWA Power International, a private power consultant and developer, told a technical seminar organized by Institution of Engineers Pakistan � Saudi Arabian Center (IEP-SAC) in Riyadh on Thursday that both power and water now remained essential commodities like rice and wheat.

Mass. hopes to learn from ’super insulated’ house

Four years later, his two-family condo in Arlington is encased in so much insulation, the builders were forced to switch to extra-long 10-inch screws just to attach it to the roof.

His unique "super-insulation" project costs $100,000, though half of it being picked up by sponsors including NStar [NST]. But Cheimets expects when it’s completed in coming weeks it will save him up to 70 percent on his energy bills, or as much as $4,000 a year.

Gulf states run risk of losing investors

DUBAI — Gulf Arab countries must start publishing timely and detailed economic data to convince investors alarmed by weak oil prices and the global financial crisis that they are still prime targets for investment.

Some Gulf Arab states have not released economic growth data for 2007, let alone late 2008, a situation investors find increasingly unacceptable in such uncertain times.

During the region's six-year oil boom – now a distant memory – patchy economic data posed few questions among investors accustomed to secretive conservative Gulf regimes. They based investment decisions on the strength of oil prices, not the level of transparency.

The $4 billion opportunity off the coast of Gaza

Over the ensuring six and a half years, BG and officials from the Finance and National Infrastructures ministries tried to reach an agreement to pump the gas into Israel. But the two sides could not agree on the price.

Yet even before the talks broke off, the situation shifted dramatically in June 2007 when Hamas violently ousted Fatah from power in the Gaza Strip, claiming ownership of the gas fields off the coast and the proceeds from the sale of the gas.

This posed a serious problem for both Israel, which obviously was not going to pay a portion of the money to Hamas, and to BG, which was banned by its government from negotiating with Hamas. The Post reported that had Israel and BG reached an agreement on the sale price of the gas, they would have found an alternative arrangement for the transfer of funds to ensure they did not end up funding terrorism.

Today, the estimated $4 billion worth of gas off the Gazan coast is still sitting, untapped, at the bottom of the Gaza Marine gas field. Hamas has not backed away from it claim that it is the rightful owner of the gas, even saying it deserves more than the 10% of the royalties from the sale of the gas, as originally negotiated between BG and the PA.

Nigerian militants abduct crew in attack on Shell

LAGOS (AFP) – Nigerian militants early Sunday attacked a Shell loading vessel in the southern oil and gas town of Bonny and took eight crew members hostage, police and the military said.

Nigeria militants report botched hostage rescue

LAGOS, Nigeria – Militants said Sunday that the Nigerian military botched a rescue mission aimed at liberating two British hostages held captive in Nigeria's restive southern oil region.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in an e-mail message that the overnight mission caused the militants to separate the British victims and move them deeper into the region's vast network of creeks and mangrove swamps.

Czechs send emergency gas to Slovakia

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) - Officials say the Czech Republic is sending emergency shipments of natural gas to neighboring Slovakia.

Slovakia has been among the countries hardest hit by the Jan. 7 cutoff of Russian natural gas shipments via Ukrainian pipelines. Under gas rationing, about 1,000 Slovak companies haven been forced to close down or limit their production since the dispute between Russia and Ukraine erupted 11 days ago. The rationing has allowed Slovakia to still heat

EU Gives Cautious Welcome to Russia, Ukraine Natural-Gas Deal

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union gave a cautious welcome to a deal thrashed out between Russia and Ukraine earlier today that may pave the way for the resumption of natural-gas flows to the continent after almost two weeks.

“We have seen many false dawns in this dispute,” the European Commission said in a statement. “The ‘test’ in this case is whether or not the gas flows to Europe’s customers. Until that point, the wait goes on.” The commission is the executive arm of the 27-nation bloc.

After marathon talks that dragged on until the early hours in Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko agreed the broad outlines of a deal. Ukraine will pay higher European prices for Russian gas from 2010, after a 20 percent discount this year. In return, 2009 transit fees for Russia will remain at last year’s level.

Four functions to avoid another financial funeral

When the world faces almost simultaneously the triple crunch over financial breakdown, peak oil and climate change, a much more directive role for the state is desperately needed. We cannot afford to wait for the glacial pace of adjustment by the markets.

Detroit 3 say they'll need help to go electric

"We are really going to need to partner with the government and the electric companies," Fields said. "The infrastructure is key. If you're going from one state to another, where are you going to plug in, what are you going to charge for it?"

Florida considering options for renewable energy targets

The Florida Public Service Commission recommended last week that one-fifth of Florida's energy supply come from solar and wind power and other renewable power sources by 2020.

More than half of all states already have renewable energy requirements for utilities. In a sweeping energy law passed last year, the state Legislature asked the commission to develop recommendations by February for quotas on how much power generated in this state must be from alternative energy.

Are costly energy bills draining your wallet? Win the power struggle

You can go broke going green.

Solar panels cost tens of thousands of dollars. And who's got the money to buy all new appliances?

Don't despair. There is a lot you can do, right now, with very little cash outlay, to make your home energy efficient and cheaper to run.

Center rates 2008 as 8th-warmest year ever

WASHINGTON — Last year was the eighth-warmest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The world's temperature in 2008 tied that of 2001, according to the center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Preliminary calculations show the world's average for 2008 was 0.88 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average of 57.0 degrees F.

The ranking means that all of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1997.

Debate flares over how to cut greenhouse gases

Attacking climate change through a complex greenhouse gas trading system is a centerpiece of the incoming Obama administration’s energy policy.

But economists and energy analysts of all ideological stripes are saying a better approach to getting a cleaner atmosphere might involve a political dirty word — tax.

Maryland's coastal protection laws addressing rising sea level

"Maryland is ahead of most other states" in planning for rising sea levels, said Jim Titus, convening lead author of a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called Coastal Sensitivity to Sea Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region.

A state law limiting development along the Bay and a law requiring waterfront areas to have living shorelines, with grasses and rocks rather than bulkheads, also protects areas and wildlife from flooding because of rising sea levels, Titus said.

"It's a huge area where ecosystems are likely able to migrate inland because the land will be preserved," he said.

Can Oregon's climate change plan survive a down economy?

Oregon's economy is putting at risk Gov. Ted Kulongoski's aggressive plans for tackling global warming.

The governor's bid to limit Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions arrives before the 2009 Legislature at an awkward time.

Manufacturing jobs are dropping. Electricity bills are rising. Powerful economic interests, including heavy industry and the state's biggest electric utilities, argue that Kulongoski's strategy could boost both of those trends.

New satellite to monitor global warming

KAGOSHIMA PREFECTURE, JAPAN (NBC) - Japan's space agency will launch a satellite next Wednesday that will monitor greenhouse gases and assist in the fight against climate change.

Scientist hopes terra preta will slow climate change

Now, a growing number of scientists want to see human civilizations adopt terra preta again, worldwide - not just as a way to make soil more productive, but as a major tool against global warming.

A U.N. task force on global warming has proposed using the technique, prominently citing research by UGA research scientist Christoph Steiner, who studied terra preta for years in Brazil and now is researching ways biochar might help modern humans.

President 'has four years to save Earth'

Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.

On-Line copy of My Paper


Absent is the supporting Excel file.

A path to the Optimum Economic, Environmental and Energy Policies.

Good for National Security as well.



Do you attempt to model the cost savings due to reduced need for road maintenance, and reduced need for road widening caused by reduced truck traffic?

I/we wanted to, but could not find any good data of the split between wear & tear from trucks (cars = zero) and salt & weather. (Buses and SUVs are so small as to ignore). Any sources/ good estimates out there ?

With BAU, the economy shrinks, employment does not grow beyond current levels and there will be no need for more lanes/roads even under BAU (see USA as 3rd World nation).

Best Hopes,


"(Buses and SUVs are so small as to ignore)." With respect to road maintenance expenditures, it appears.

Alan - In a recent discussion with a guy who works for OKC, he commented somewhat the opposite.

Some background. There is a move to save the railyards just south of the old Union Station. The Station is a historical landmark, but the railyard is not. Other communities around OKC want to save the railyard, but OKC has not been motivated to take up the fight to save them, because the need to replace the old and possible dangerous overhead section of I-40 just south of downtown is their greatest need, and that project is underway or virtually underway. The discussion with the guy from the City was to get their opinion, informally and unofficially, about what the City needed. He opined that the City most needed busses to meet their current needs and the monies to keep the streets where those busses would run in good repair.

If the system were built out as the exurban cities want, this would entail a massive number of miles - I would guess in excess of 100 miles of improved rail - with a limited ridership. The City has considered many other alternatives, and does not favor the commuter rail, at a high cost, much of which would be borne by the residents of the City, just to dump a bunch of folks who do not live there downtown, with most wanting to go someplace else which the existing and planned facilities cannot handle. If it is crammed down the City's throat, which I do not see, it will cause massive expenditures for the improvements to the streets to facilitate the use of busses.

Thus, my question - is your quote above accurate for this sort of circumstance?

It may be theoretical, since I do not think that the cities who favor the plan will be willing to raise their taxes sufficiently to handle their share of the burden, but "stimulus package" funds might take enough of that burden off the exurban cities for the COG to try to impose the system on OKC, like it or not. Using Dallas system, DART, as an example however, 83% of the sales tax revenues which support DART are spent on operating expenses (for 2004, the latest year I could find). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Area_Rapid_Transit

Where buses outnumber 18 wheel trucks (example city bus routes) they cause a majority of the damage (damage is proportional to the 5th power of the axle weight, with a small adjustment for tire width).

City streets are stereotypically paid for and maintained with city property taxes.

In a nation wide sense, the miles of bus routes are trivial when compared to the miles of truck routes (or streets routinely used by trucks). All interstates. all US highways, most state highways, some county roads and city streets.

I have only briefly driven through OKC, but their built environment seems to be mainly post-WW II. Starting with a "walkable core" (perhaps built around the train station to state capital complex ?) with a streetcar circulator and many bikeways seems a possibility.


Having spent decades driving urban/suburban buses I could definitely say that 18-wheelers out numbered buses at least 100 to 1. There is a lot of that 'last mile' trucking going on along bus routes.

Thanks for the clarification, Alan. With a Metropolitan Area of 6,359 sq miles, OKC is one of the larger cities, area-wise, in the US. The distribution of the population within that area and the mix of various communities leaves the City of OKC (as opposed to the OKC metro area) at a significant disadvantage when it comes to both the cost of the busses and the maintenance of the streets, especially when the operating costs are factored in. The method generally suggested to pay for additional Metro Transit System costs is sales taxes, the single most regressive form of taxation, expecially in a state where even food purchases are subject to sales tax. There is a reduction in income tax to compensate somewhat for the regressive nature of the sales tax, but it is in my opinion insufficient. Even when the operating costs are covered, however, the street maintenance costs remain.

And, yes, OKC is primarily post WW II, and it is easy to drive through and not see the bulk of what is there. Downtown is one destination, with respect to transit to work, but so are the State capitol comples, Tinker Air Force Base, and the I-40, I-44 and I-35 corridors (not to ignore the other freeways, just hitting the high points.)

A downtown circulator is in the later planning stages, rail I think, and once the I-40 overhead is torn down when it is relocated to the south at ground level, the City has some well thought out plans for a more sustainable area close to downtown. The capitol complex is somewhat removed from downtown, and the whole thing is far different from what you would think, given our State's reputation for conservatism, which derives largely from other parts of the State.

There are lot of variables to consider unfortunately. Rather than try and model it, I am wondering if it would simply be easier to compare roads that prohibit trucks (like some parkways) and roads that don't, and use this to try and get a handle on how the maintenance requirements are increased by the presence of trucks.

I am thinking that your best best is to find an engineer at a state highway department who can give you some real-life and uptodate numbers to work with, and help to choose some good roads to use as your sample.

"We cannot afford to wait for the glacial pace of adjustment by the markets."

Are the markets really that slow? In 2007, SUVs were best sellers. A year later, that market was on its knees and the Detroit Big Three in serious trouble. In 2006, everyone knew house prices would keep going up forever because this time it was different. In 2007, the market had a heart attack and fell dead to the ground. In 2006, the world economy was chugging along quite well, but a year later we all feared for our jobs or our pensions if we're retired. In 2006, the Alberta oilsands were on a steady track to 3 million bpd by 2015. Now, if you are optimistic, we might hit 2.5 mbpd by 2020. In 2006, if you had a useful skill, you could get a job without much trouble. Now we are back to university graduates driving taxicabs.

The problem is not their glacial pace, but their volatility. Investing in things like electric or more efficient automobiles cannot be sustained if their is a good chance that the market for oil will fall through the bottom next week. The market finally got the attention of the Big 3, or at least the Big 2 just in time for gas prices to plummet to record lows. Now they wish they had just stuck with gas guzzling SUVs.

Are the markets really that slow?

Apparently the consumer markets aren't that slow, but the industries are. For generations the marketing advertisers have been telling us what we want, what we need to have. What are they telling us now? "Business as usual has failed, but we don't know what else to do, so please help us maintain business as usual."

Brings to mind the lyrics from an old Headeast song:

Save my life
I'm going down for the last time

Eastern Europe braced for a violent 'spring of discontent'

Riots and street battles are set to spread through Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states as inflation, unemployment and racism fuel tension.

Tensions Rise on Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s saber-rattling toward the South has increased in intensity since President Lee Myung-bak took office in Seoul a year ago with a vow to take a tougher stance on North Korea, reversing 10 years of his liberal predecessors’ efforts to engage the North with economic aid. But what made the threat on Saturday unusual, and more worrisome to some South Korean analysts, was the way it was delivered: in a statement read on North Korean television by a uniformed spokesman for the North’s joint chiefs of staff.

Thailand Is Accused of Rejecting Migrants

The reports of harsh treatment come in the context of a huge flow of refugees from neighboring countries in the past three decades that has imposed a social and economic burden on Thailand. Since the mid-1970s, Thailand has been a refuge for millions fleeing conflict and repression in Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos.

Yes, these are long-existing conflicts. But peak oil, climate change, and the financial crisis is going to make things worse. You have to wonder if things are going to go nonlinear, as Stuart used to put it.

As someone who lives about 9 miles from the North Korean border, and who lived through the '94 crisis - where we really did come days away from an attack on Yongbyon - may I just say, "Yaaawn."

1. Kim has been sick. They need to show he is strong.
2. They obviously think Obama is a bit of a wimp and will give a lot away in negotiations, so are betting what they think is a strong hand.
3. This is sooooo typical. Yes, the deliverer was unusual. See #1 and #2.

War with NK will happen if and when China wants it, not before. There is nothing to gain now for China, so no war. Besides, all the resources are in NK. NK is already under Chinese influence. The easiest route to those resources for China is to leverage Kim's health into making NK a more direct protectorate or vassal. I believe this to be China's long-term plan. They have already laid the groundwork for a historical claim to NK. Note that the claim makes no attempt at a claim on SK territory. (There's nothing here but people. China has enough of those.)


The only scenario that I would worry about wrt war between the Koreas would be if/when mainland China decides it must move against Taiwan. They would be assuming that the US would have to devote the bulk of its efforts to protecting S Korea, leaving the Chinese with a free hand in Taiwan. I assume that they would be quite willing to sacrifice N Korea to gain Taiwan.

I look forward to seeing a similarly titled piece - hopefully this year - complete with a list of "flashpoint" US cities, much like the article above.:

United States Braced for a Violent 'Autumn of Discontent'

"We are fed up with living in the (most broke) and most corrupt country," the KABDFG (Kill-All-Bankers-and Disband Federal Government) protest organisers said in a statement.

"We demand the confiscation of all personal assets belonging to: all congress persons in office between 1996-2008, Treasury Secretary Paulson, all Fed Reserve board members in office between 1996-2008, Presidents Bush and Clinton, and each and every bank officer and corporate CEO and CFO who requested and accepted TARP money."

"Either that, or we toast the cities on both coasts"

"No quarter, no mercy, for the criminally incompetent, or just plain criminal, elite"

The "Time Monks" at www.halfpasthuman.com are seeing this type of language in their searches and analysis of language as found on the web.

Using their search spiders and software, the time monks troll the internet for clues on where the world is heading.

For example, 9/11, Katrina, and the Financial Meltdown last fall were all successfully predicted.

To be sure, erroneous or hard to understand predictions have been produced as well.

It is not an exact science.

Telling and interesting nonetheless.

"Either that, or we toast the cities on both coasts"

"No quarter, no mercy, for the criminally incompetent, or just plain criminal, elite"

It never ceases to amaze me when the discontent turn their anger against TPTB towards the poorest and least able to defend themselves. Obviously they aren’t talking about "toasting" Beverly Hills or Georgetown...too many well paid armed defenders there. Rather they'll aim there wrath at the inner which TPTB have no trouble sacrificing as usual. Personally I have no objection to turning towards physical violence if circumstances warrant it. It would impress me much more if these disenfranchised types put their lives on the line and take the battle to TPTB who they wish to punish. Or as that door gunner responded in that old movie when asked “How can you shoot women and children?” Answer: “Easy…you just don’t lead them as much.”

Be nice to keep the combat between the combatants for a change.

It never ceases to amaze me when the discontent turn their anger against TPTB towards the poorest and least able to defend themselves. Obviously they aren’t talking about "toasting" Beverly Hills or Georgetown...too many well paid armed defenders there.

I sincerly doubt Beverly Hills or Georgetown will have any armed defenders in this type of scenario. What do you do when things collapse, go to work or protect your own family? Given the number of "society types" and politicans who are generally rude and obnoxious to their security guards and employees, the problems might just take care of themselves. For some reason I don't think bankers believe they need security guards at home. Kings in the old days had to inspire respect for people to follow them, or get poisoned, now they just sign the paychecks. When the dollar is worthless, what are you going to work for?

Besides, Beverly Hills and its occupants would be no great loss and not put up much of a fight.....it might be a good training exercise.

TODban lives again. I wish it were the case that this wasn't needed, but a number of us were getting frustrated with certain discussions that never seem to end.

It works with at least Firefox 2, Greasemonkey version 0.8.20080609.0, and the current theoildrum.com site, and others have reported that it also works with Firefox 3.

You can get it from here.

As with the original version, it not only blocks banned users, but any responses to the banned users. 'Bench' tweaked the thing to collapse tainted posts instead of hiding them, and I incorporated these changes and made it user-configurable.

I also added an option unrelated to banning which will collapse 'old' (i.e. not "new") messages, and this is also user configurable. This option is useful when there are several hundred comments, most of which you have already seen, and you only wish to see the new ones since you last refreshed the page.

I just uploaded the updated version 20090118.00 that has all of these changes.

Thanks ericy!

I, too, wish it were not necessary, but such is life.

Thank you! I tried to edit the old version to get it to work, but my meager technical skills failed me. The version I've been using only blocks the post of the blocked username, while leaving the replies. This will be a big help.


The only weakness I see with TODban is that it doesn't produce subliminal messages to the user to convince them the banned posts are not only gone, but never existed.

TODban will only keep me out of trouble if I successfully ignore that the inanity is actually still there.

Best Hopes for Ignoring #$@#$!@%!##,


Maybe it's ok to shut out the clamor of the disbelievers here on TOD but if you want a shock look at the drivel in the comments at the end of this :


There is clearly some new assault on reason and science going on here. The first 20 posts were just bile and idiocy.

I don't bother arguing one way or the other for Global Warming (I really haven't read enough about it to be honest), but it is scary reading people's comments about it. Our education systems could obviously do with some serious overhaul.

Any chance the thread collapse feature can be migrated to the mainline site.
I think its fantastic just showing new posts.

It should be builtin IMHO.

With commodity and energy prices slumping there could not be a better time to start investing in alternatives and continued investment in oil exploration.

And yet these are the very things that are being abandoned wholesale. Talk about setting yourself up for another fall!


Depletion marches on.

Based on Deffeyes' model, in the next 10 years, at a conventional crude production rate of 70 mbpd worldwide, we will have used up about one fourth of our remaining conventional crude oil reserves--and a far greater fraction of our remaining cumulative net oil exports worldwide.

I would echo Marco's point that today is a good time to make investments in energy. The potential for oil and gas is today. While day rates are still high, you CAN get contractors - service and drilling/completion folks - and when the worm turns, we will not be able to do so.

Another point I'd like to make is that with the recession, slowdown, depression, or whatever we end up with, there will be a short-term, and possibly very short-term, opportunity to utilize our remaining cheap energy to move into alternatives, whether solar, wind, algae, switchgrass, or better shoes and bikes. If we have to revamp anything, let's at least do a balance between roads and rail, between upgrading power lines and distributed generation, between (whether we accept it or not) "clean" coal and nuclear, etc. We may have only 4 years to make changes to satisfy Hansen, as linked to the Guardian, but folks will survive for some period of time, as will the planet. If we do not start using our available resources, the TEOTWAWKI folks will not even be ready, and none of the rest of us for sure.

One of the possibilities which will stretch all of this is the likelihood that the Brazil offshore, primarily sub-salt, and the Jack # 2 type production barriers will be "solved", and that production will give us aadditional time as well. None of this will be cheap, but it is all possible. It will not stop depletion, and it will reduce our future reserves, but if we get after the other (maybe not so low-hanging) alternative fruit, it will be possible for me to see my great-grandkids, and maybe their kids as well. (and I have only 3 grandkids and hope for fewer than that in great-grandkids.)

Maybe a silly question but...........
Do you have a graph of the grades of oil (world wide) extracted to the peak and the grades of oil remaining. When we have an EROEI graph which explains the cost of extraction and refining of each grade it could help with understanding.

I don't think there is a need for individual country or well breakdown just the overall position would be enough.

You may well have posted one previously and I'm sorry if I've missed it but I think with something like that, I could make my family and friends better understand the predicament we are in.
Thanks in advance.

I would like to recommend a 2 hour documentary that is being broadcast on PBS and can be watched online at the weblink below:


The program is called "The Ascent Of Money". This is a documentary about the rise of money and banking, booms and busts, the nature of financial power (in which at one point it is stated that a thousand people can be in control of a ten trillion dollars) and remarkable commentary about the collapse of Long Term Capital Management, Enron, the recent financial crisis and the emerging importance of China in the financial system.

This is NOT a program about peak oil, but it is fascinating for anyone at all interested in the current financial structure of the world economy. Two of my best spent hours of the year so far watching the program and the sort of programming the networks should be doing.


I just finished watching the show. The ending was really scarey. It was a subtle suggestion that an even bigger collapse is about to happen. Chimerica, the combined China and American economey, may be about to hit a brick wall. The program did not say that but only suggested it.

The Chinese economy has been growing by leaps and bounds but in 2008 China’s Economy Probably Expanded at Slowest Pace in 7 Years. With the continuing collapse of the American economy I predict that in late 2009 the Chinese economy will hit a brick wall. Growth will stop and, like in the USA, will start to shrink. That will mark the beginning of the new worldwide great depression.

Anyway, the program was fantastic and I would advise everyone to watch it. You will learn a lot about money and why nothing can be taken for granted, especially business as usual for the world economy.

Ron Patterson

Thanks for the link. Watched it shortly after you posted.

The end seemed pretty logical considering the rest of the film. Scary ? Well not for me, but maybe for others.

Hope it gets a broad audience. It is worth the (free) viewing time.

Thanks for recommending this program,it sounds interesting.

It's offline right now, I'm getting "Sorry, this video is not available." ..Will it reappear at a later stage?

Paal, I am having no trouble with the video right now. It is loading first time. Ron

thx Ron, I'm still having the same negative response "Sorry, this video is not available."

I've tried with Opera , IE and also via a proxy. Probably (my guess) they sniff out that I'm from Europe, or something. ... although I've seen alot of brilliant PBS programmings in the past. I'll try again later. Cheers

edit : I'm able to watch the trailer-preview.

It probably is blocking foreign IPs. Very common with news video. The BBC does it to us Yanks.

The reason you can see some PBS video but not others is likely due to copyright issues. Some copyright holders allow their material to be seen all over the world, others have separate deals with foreign distributors.

Trying a US proxy would be the way to test this.

yes Leanan , you are correct as "always", under the PBS/NOVA section at least I'm getting an understandable message.

We're sorry, but due to rights restrictions this program is only available for online viewing in the United States. You appear to be connected to the Internet from outside this area.

If I'm telling you it is raining torrents outside my window ..... then :-)

While I was ultimately successful in watching the video, I did experience a couple of 'Proxy Errors" in the process.

RBM, are you from within the USA ? thx

Oh, yeah I'm US based. Can you find a torrent source ?

thepiratebayDOTorg, search for title of program, go! (its there) (leanan, delete if not appropriate)

I just tried again and am getting the same message as Paal. Strange.

If it's a traffic issue, I would expect a "server busy" message.


Hi pragma,

I kept getting an error message telling me "Sorry, this video is not available", most likely due to, as noted above, copyright restrictions. Thankfully, for we Cannucks and anyone else living outside the USA, this option works: http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=uyMZhkITPWE


Thanks Paul:

I found a few chunks of the program. The longest was 45 min, but I believe the series is two hours long.

Maybe it's time for me to delve into the unknown of proxy servers.



Hi Bob,

This two-part series is broken into two volumes identified by the "01" and "02" prefix within the video title. Each volume contains five chapters roughly ten minutes in length, and if you poke around the Related Videos list you should be able to view the programme in its entirety unless, of course, these clips are removed from Youtube for violation of copyright.


Found them all Paul, thanks!


Study: Electricity Usage Is Down

A new Washington Post analysis shows that local homes and businesses used about 2 percent less electricity in the first nine months of 2008 than they did in 2007. That's a small drop, but for Washington, any drop is significant: Electric power is the region's largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, and in recent years power use has grown rapidly.

nationwide, ng used for generating electricity is also down by about 2% (9 mos.) the entire difference can be accounted for by lower cooling degree days '08 vs '07. washington, dc's cooling degree days were about the same.

the amount of hot air in washington is about the same too, as far as i can tell.

I have been following the peak oil issue for over 3 years and now it has been joined by an economic
crisis. The state and city budget cuts have already caused layoffs in all 15 city divisions,
including the Police and Fire departments.

Besides taking certain actions that may or may not help my family "survive" the coming break
down I have started volunteering to help my city by getting involved with the
CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) as well as the Police Department.

There is a serious problem with volunteering because of timing.
The time it takes to do a background check and train a volunteer can take as long as 6 months.
Add to that the time needed to become proficient at a task places a crimp
in the ability to "help" your community in any sort of useful way.

It is crucial that anyone interested in community "survivability" begin the volunteering process immediately!

The training is FREE and you will be very appreciated!

Thank you for all your information and good luck to all.

D. A. Douthit

My area is also severely impacted by economic problems. I have been retired for awhile and have had several volunteer jobs. The first actually started before I retired. It was helping the late L. F. Buz Ivanhoe as internet liaison for the Hubbert Center Newsletter. He did not own a computer. The second was at a medical library and ended when the library lost its space to a hospital expansion. The third was with the police and has lasted several years. It only took about 6 weeks for me to pass their investigation and I was almost immediately heavy into a computer related job. Later I trained for volunteer patrol which was a little more difficult. The police are particularly vulnerable to the price and availability of gasoline. Like hospitals they must operate 24/7.
-- My latest job is selling used books at the public library. I don't dare quit either job as the police and the library are both out of money and are likely going downhill. Actually I am not inclined to quit as both jobs are far more interesting than staying at home.

Credit crunch bankers ‘have psychiatric condition’

Bankers whose trading in high risk securities led to the credit crunch suffer from a psychiatric condition which blinds them to the prospect of failure, according to a new study.

Research from Edinburgh University, which included interviews with several leading fund managers, claims that they drifted unconsciously into a “paranoid schizoid” state which evokes the delusion that they cannot lose.

The state of mind, which is a normal part of infant development, involves repressing negative thoughts and focusing exclusively on a positive outcome, however unlikely. The dominance of this aspect of fund managers’ characters makes them more detached from reality than other adults.

When confronted with failure, paranoid schizoids often avoid the consequences and blame others.

Studies have determined that 99% of these studies are full of crap.

Hmmmm ... my experience is that most senior managers think that way, not just bankers and traders, that's how they get their jobs ... and most peak oil deniers and climate change deniers think the same way ... probably a very large proportion of the population also thinks that way.

Evolution has provided the human brain with systems that block out negative evidence ... an excellent strategy when everything is growing due to an abundance of energy, not so good for shortage/decline situations.

Darwinian natural selection does not provide for individuals learning from their experience. It eliminates their genes from the gene pool.

I would have to agree in tenor with Brian. The above study basically is measuring extreme cognitive dissonance, which Festinger and others after him have studied and published on for past 50 years.

Optimism and the belief 'How could "I" possibly fail?', is adaptive in our ancestral wiring. Placebo effect, glass is half full, reduced cortisol secretion, strengthening of immune system etc. all some of the physical benefits that 'denying' a (non- fight or flight) threat would have actually helped to cope with such a threat better. It's as if the body knows that something bad is coming and is marshalling its resources - what to do when you are down $50 million on your book when your risk limit is $10 mil? Raising your hand and saying 'boss something is wrong' is often not peoples initial reaction...There are broad parallels to PO.

This paper published in the June 2008 edition would seem to be the report referred to in the news item unless there's a follow-up paper in next issue not currently listed online.

Phantastic objects and the financial market's sense of reality: A psychoanalytic contribution to the understanding of stock market instability (HTML)

PDF version

Haven't had a chance to read it through yet.

yes but ...
.... newer studies have determined that those studies that you refer to here , are 100% crap and thus cancels out their findings.

Nicely put,

Studies have also shown that these fools will only be contrit when shown the rope which will be used to hang them for their stupidity.

??? W ???

when Hamas violently ousted Fatah from power in the Gaza Strip,

This is from the Jerusalem Post article in the DB above. Hamas was elected to power through democratic electoral process that was overseen by 3rd party monitors.

The use of military power against civilians is a war crime and it does not matter if this offense takes place in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Ukraine in 1942. It is the same offense and the perpetrators need to be prosecuted.


Huge gas reserves discovered off Haifa
Three massive gas reservoirs have been discovered 80 kilometers off the Haifa coast, at the Tamar prospect, Noble Energy Inc. announced on Sunday.

Three massive offshore oil reserves discovered off Israel's coast

The Tamar-1 well, located in approximately 5,500 feet of water, was drilled to a total depth of 16,076 feet. The thickness and quality of the reservoirs found were greater than anticipated at the location.

Anything more know about this yet? Size estimates, for example.

As usual you peel back the layers of rhetoric surrounding a war and you find cold hard cash underneath. Religion, terrorism, nationalism all make such convenient covers for "we want the resources they have, and we don't want to pay (or at least pay so much) for it"

looks to me like Israel was a)worried Obama might put an end to such activities (this is supported by the ceasefire going into effect days before Obama takes office). and b)wanted to perhaps "restructure" the gas lease deal (in a Tony Soprano kinda way).

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

reserves ? they haven't tested the 1 (one) well yet. the article states that the deposit could contain 88 standard cubic meters or about 3 tcf. and like many deepwater projects, they havent determined if it is economical to develope.

Looking objectively at the whole thing, I think I ought to go 60-40 for Israel. But their continuous smarminess, sense of entitlement, and doublespeak when they ought just admit that 'somebody is gonna die for his country, and we're out to make sure it's the other guy.' squick me. They are not nice people. I do not like them. And the settler movement is the exact equivalent of bin Laden wanting to re-reconcista Spain.

Let them kill each other. Abraham's god can sort them out.

Yes using military power against civilians is a war crime, but we've all done it so there are no angels on this planet. So don't expect anyone to ignore your missles just because you put them in a church or mosque.

I suggest you look at both the English and Arabic versions of the Hamas websites, I don't have the links sorry. If anything the Israelis should be commended for their restraint. Any other nation would have pushed the Palestinians into the sea at gunpoint. The rest of the world wouldn't care what happens if this happened somewhere other than the middle east. Hell, Hamas probably killed 5X that many when they took over. They are thugs.

Although you and other shrills for Israeli/US colonialism may be clever at spinning the ignorant masses into believing your pernicious Hollywood tapestry you are only assuring one thing.
One day, be it 5 years or 50, a nuke will explode on Tel Aviv. Tell me which is easier to blast and irradiate beyond remission ? 20,000km2 or 640 times that ? Won't that be a worthwhile enterprise and use of our resources and moral capital ?
The only instances of Empires permanently holding territory is where they have completely destroyed the original population. Bummer for you that you missed a few and that they have 100s millions of mates and that your big brother is running out of pocket money for you, eh ?
I'm beyond shcoked - I'm sick to death of the attitude to these people from 80% of my community. Normally 'democratic' and 'liberal' Jews acting like sharks and claiming to REPRESENT ALL US JEWS AND THE WEST.
Yesterday I walked into my local mosque wearing my kippa and gave my synagogue subscription to the reconstruction fund. F*ck 'em - as soon as I see justice I'll re-join but I'm done for now.


"Hamas was elected to power through democratic electoral process that was overseen by 3rd party monitors."

And Hamas started this latest insane war by those missile launches - which have no legitimate military use or targets, it's simply terrorism plain and simple. Therefore, ALL the Palestinians in Gaza who elected Hamas are responsible and unfortunately are NOT "civilians" in this situation. I think of German "citizens" who backed the invasion of Poland.

It truly is insanity, but I am fed up over this tired saw of "civilians" being excluded from effects of war, those insane people elected Hamas and teach their children hatred. This is unfortunately what karma looks like in action. Israel is not faultless and this whole war is a major loss to both sides, but it is very predictable, logical and follows clearly the beliefs of those involved.

The only good I see from this is that hopefully all of us watching this catastrophe learn that we firmly do not want this to ever play out in our neighborhoods.

Hamas was created by Israel to counter-balance the PLO (OOPS !)

Hamas, shortly after winning the election, planned for a vote of changing their charter, granting Israel's right to exist. Israel attacked before that vote could take place. Why ?

Israel was already waging a silent genocidal war against the Gaza with their blockade of all essentials. Hamas was willing to continue the cease fire *IF* the blockade was lifted. Hamas responded to the Israeli aggression/genocide with the only weapon at their disposal.

Israeli civilians, since they elected war criminals (Likud, Begin & Sharon both terrorists and mass murderers of civilians) and ALL serve in the military, so they are NOT civilians, so killing any Israeli is just killing a combatant (by *YOUR* logic, not mine).

Best Hopes for an end to US aid and assistance to Israel,


Not sure if I got censored out of here earlier. But I really object to this anti-Israel venom that gets posted over and over again.

Just the facts.#

# That Israel helped found Hamas is not official, but neither are Israeli nuclear and neutron bombs (using stolen US plans that we never built). Both have been repeated often enough without strong official denials to lend it credence.


The National Socialists got bad press as well - must have been prejudice.

Hamas was created by Hamas, and filled with adult men capable of making their own decisions.

As for your second claim, it is nonsense. At no point has Hamas made any statement even hinting at changing their charter. I challenge you to source that claim.

Your third claim, of "genocide" is ironic, since genocide is Hamas's overt intent. And Gaza was not at all lacking for essentials. The UNRWA was trucking supplies into Gaza nonstop before and during the crisis. The reason Hamas wants the blockade lifted is so they can attack IDF personnel at the crossing points more easily.

Hamas was created by Hamas

And the Bolshevist Revolution was created by Bolshevists, with some help from Imperial Germany.

Per reports that have not been denied (the highest level of "confirmation" available from Israel). SOP would be Shin Bet agent provocateurs found Fatah members and others, brought them together, supplied some money and communication, etc.

At no point has Hamas made any statement even hinting at changing their charter. I challenge you to source that claim

Hamas leader reiterated in the interview his movement’s stand on the “acceptable minimum” in a peace deal with Israel while hinting at the same time that anything acceptable to the Palestinian people in a plebiscite will be acceptable to Hamas which, he said, has accepted the democratic game and will accept its results too...

Yet, he indicated that Hamas position is not rigid. It is ready to accept a common minimum programme acceptable to all Palestinians. “We felt that it is beneficial that Palestinians of all political and ideological hues should meet and subscribe to a common programme. We agreed on a common denominator acceptable to all Palestinian factions… [they] all agree on the following: to establish the Palestinian state within the areas of 1967 on the borders prevailing on the 4th of June 1967 including Jerusalem, right to return - not right to return to the Palestinian State as some in the region explain it but the right to return to the towns and villages taken away from the Palestinian people.”


And Gaza was not at all lacking for essentials.


Barely enough food (staples only) , Not enough electrical power, not enough medicine, not enough clothes, not enough building material for new housing, not enough for employment or economic activity, ...

See Warsaw Ghetto for a comparable, but with more calories.

The reason Hamas wants the blockade lifted is so they can attack IDF personnel at the crossing points more easily.

UTTER fantasy. IDF (or UN if they are too scared) can create a secure checkpoint. They have 42 years of experience.

And to claim that is the ONLY goal of Hamas in opening the borders shows a complete lack of understanding.

Best Hopes for no more US aid to Israel until they change,


Regarding Jim Hanson's recent comments as reported by the Guardian:

It seems to me that politics are dominated by the Religious Apocalyptic meta-narrative, but a strong pseudo-religious secular apocalyptic narrative has developed enough acceptance to be noticed in public discourse.

My guess is that the POTUS will end up as a de facto American dictator soon, as the consequences of our destruction of our own habitat cause fairly rapid continued collapse of our economy and culture.

In addition, the calls for war as a solution to our problems will very likely increase. The need to control key resources will be a matter of survival.

What kind of religious meta-narrative are we developing to act as the glue that binds the USA --and possibly some allies -- together as a nation?

Will Obama continue with the USA-Israel alliance that is barely held together by a vaguely Judeo-Christian Apocalyptic meta-narrative?

Will Obama try to replace this narrative, or to fuse it with the pseudo-religious secular scientific meta-narrative of imminent habitat collapse?

The discussion came up recently on the Killer Ape - Peak Oil list, and seems especially relevant here in the coming few days.

Will Obama try to replace this narrative, or to fuse it with the pseudo-religious secular scientific meta-narrative of imminent habitat collapse?

He will try to fuse them. However, there have always been resource wars, so why should we expect anything different? I truly admire Obama's lofty ideals, but can they prevail against human nature? Try to convince a drowning man (modern society) of the futility in grasping at straws... I think not.

Think of the thousands of hopeful souls who contributed to change.gov, including me. Meanwhile, congress has put together a stimulus package, the transportation portion of which is predominantly roads and bridges. Worse than a bridge to nowhere. Actually, if more of those bridges lead to nowhere, they would help cut our carbon footprint. I am still withholding judgment for a few months, but my guess is that we are going to end up with a lot of very disillusioned supporters.

The basic premise seems to still be that resources are unlimited; if we can just find the right combination of credit infusion and shovel ready jobs, we can continue on with our happy flight through the abundant universe. No real course correction required.

But then I may be wrong and welcome an alternative view.

And yet, when I think of Bush II, I look forward to inauguration day.

This guy thinks Obama's got a plan to rescue the banking industry, and he's going to spring it as soon as he's in office.

It sure looks like something big will happen either this weekend or next week. What it will be is anyone’s guess. My guess is it will somehow involve the government taking on the worthless mortgage securities and other derivatives that are weighing down the banks. This may save the banking system from total meltdown, but it won’t keep the economy out of recession.

Bank bailout: Change is coming

A top adviser to Obama said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the new president will "have a strong message for the bankers."

"We want to see credit flowing again," said David Axelrod. "We don't want them to sit on any money that they get from taxpayers."

They're also talking about creating a Resolution Trust Corp.-type thing for banks.

States like California and NY are going to be in big trouble if Obama doesn't come through with a bailout for states. From what I'm hearing, they're oddly schizophrenic. On the one hand, they're in total panic and expecting layoffs, pay cuts, and budget cuts. OTOH, they're preparing for a huge stimulus. They're expecting that the money will have to be spent within three months on "shovel ready" projects like paving roads. That means they can't hire new people. It will take longer than three months to train them, and they won't need them after the three months are up. So there's talk about getting retirees to come back to work for a few months, and massive overtime for existing employees.

He needs to start by taking a page from FDR's playbook and have a bank holiday. Then he has to at least make a show of going through the books of the major banks and closing down or nationalizing those that are shown to be (most) corrupt and insolvent.

The problem is not primarily lack of $$$ in the system. They've pumped hundreds of billions into the system and most of that is not circulation.

The problem is one of confidence. If banks think other banks are crooked and/or insolvent, they won't work with them. If you find out that the totally corrupt hustler on your block just got a lot of money, are you going to be more trusting of him? I doubt it. You still think he's a hustler and a crook and can't be trusted with your money.

The gov has to at least go through the motions of appearing to clean out the bad (or at least the worst) actors before banks are going to start trusting banks again (much less anyone else trusting them).

A goodly number of high-profile bankers thrown in the can forever would also be salutary IMVHO ;-}

The problem is one of confidence. If banks think other banks are crooked and/or insolvent, they won't work with them. If you find out that the totally corrupt hustler on your block just got a lot of money, are you going to be more trusting of him? I doubt it. You still think he's a hustler and a crook and can't be trusted with your money.

And that goes for the more normal channels for bank financing, selling equities, or bonds. I (and a great many) private investors would love to buy high yielding bank stocks and bonds. But we are too afraid of getting fleeced.

I'll say one thing: that had better be one hell of a speech tomorrow, particularly if it's full of smoke and mirrors. If so, it'll have to carry him for four years.

It will still have to be one hell of a speech if he tells the truth. But Americans are so hungry for truth, it won't need to be as good a speech as in the other case.

Here's some good news on Holdren: watch the speech.


Seems pretty serious, but I haven't finished it. I have learned one thing I didn't know: anthropological CO2 has no C14 while naturally occurring does, apparently, so it's actually an absolute fact that ACC is happening. It's all in the CO2 type.

That destroys any argument a denier can throw out.

Back on topic, we should get a strong statement on climate tomorrow. The litmus tests will whether bio-fuels, at least from corn, are a large or small part of the plan and whether serious levels of intentional demand destruction are there.

This is his chance. If he fails to tell the truth tomorrow, then claims later he now knows the REAL truth, nobody will trust him and he'll be screwed. And so will we.


"It will still have to be one hell of a speech if he tells the truth. But Americans are so hungry for truth, it won't need to be as good a speech as in the other case."

Truth from Obama? Are you serious? Do you know who gave money for his campaign?

Christ... can we just collectively GROW UP from the grade school tactics from the right for the last 16 years?

Meanwhile, congress has put together a stimulus package, the transportation portion of which is predominantly roads and bridges.

I has become clear to me that, the views of Kunstler et al notwithstanding, that TPTB do not want the kind of changes that would be required to move the US (especially the south and west) to a non-car based society. Indeed, even I cannot see how it could be done in any reasonable timeframe (I'm from the UK and love trains but have watched the SF Bay Area "grow" in the past 25 years in a way that makes trains as a solution now impractical).

I believe that they believe that we will be driving electric cars in the future and so investment on highways is still valid. The pressure in this area for more roads to alleviate congestion is still a major issue with the average commuter. We built a society around the car and I fear we are stuck with it.

America if it means anything means "more", and what voting demographic does not want that? Jimmy Carter found out the hard way what the voters wanted.

The basic premise seems to still be that resources are unlimited; if we can just find the right combination of credit infusion and shovel ready jobs, we can continue on with our happy flight through the abundant universe. No real course correction required.

My reading of the man is that he tries to find compromises among the diferent groups. I think this means we will get some projects suitable for a world where BAU isn't expected to be viable, and some projects that will be useful only if something resembling BAU comes to pass. At this point if we were able to force him to choose one vision or the other, rather than trying to straddle both, he would choose BAU. So we will have to soldier on, with the knowledge that only half (or maybe a quarter) of the message has been recieved. This is great progress from where we were a couple of years back, but is far short of what is needed.

I am beginning to think that some future historian is going to pick that "bridge to nowhere" as THE iconic metaphor for the whole "Decline and Fall of the American Empire".

Everything TBTB are doing these days seems to be part of an exercise in building a "bridge to nowhere".

I just have to wonder whether ANY bridge we try to build will be accused of 'going nowhere', even if it's to bridge us to a lower-energy program. We sling BAU around so much.. but it doesn't have to antagonize the idea of having 'Business At All'.. There's going to be business, manufacturing, trade, transport.. there WILL be roads, someone please show me for once how there ever would not be roads and wheeled vehicles traveling on them.

So it would be useful to consider what kinds of business one can personally 'allow' without just calling all of it BAU.

(Not meaning you personally WNC.. just seemed to fit here.)


"...wheeled vehicles..."
The Arab/Islamic world existed for 14 or 15 centuries without wheeled carts, which were well known in the ancient world (e.g. Ben Hur on a chariot ;-) Things can change, again, and maybe not as you might expect.

Given the clearly impish nature of that proposal, I still ask you, in the next century or so what is your real guess as to how we will move things.. unless you are thinking that we will be at the point where possessions will either stay put or fit into a shoulder bag?

Whether it's bikes, carriages or caravans.. Western culture is not going to turn over so thoroughly that we won't be using wheels and roads. The proportions and powertrains will all-too-likely vary a bit, but aside from being simply obstreperous, how would you propose it to be otherwise?

Sure, anything can happen , but it's actually worth looking at our cultural legacy, available technology, and the momentum that will carry us into the next few choices - for making some reasoned guesses at what is at least likely to happen.

The technical specs of the roads vary by type of wheeled vehicle. A road for 10,000 bicycles/hour is VERY different from a multi-lane (10 lanes BTW, 1,000/lane/hr) highway for 10,000 cars/hour.

So simply saying "roads" will be needed is simply not descriptive enough.


Perhaps camels are indeed the answer!

Few things teach you humility like having to tolerate being spat in the face on a daily basis! :)


Mexican collapse? Drug wars worry some Americans


"Retiring CIA chief Michael Hayden told reporters on Friday that that Mexico could rank alongside Iran as a challenge for Obama — perhaps a greater problem than Iraq.

The U.S. Justice Department said last month that Mexican gangs are the "biggest organized crime threat to the United States." National security adviser Stephen Hadley said last week that the worsening violence threatens Mexico's very democracy."

And the article doesn't even consider Mexico's declining oil production.

Sounds more like a way to get the North American Union that every president since at least Reagan has wanted.

I have read the Islamic law-Sharia approach to financing mentioned here before, but do not recall seeing any "detailed" explanation/examples.

I founf this short article kind of refreshing.

Islam's bank rules might have averted the crises

Big financial institutions have been battered by mortgages gone bad. But a tiny Michigan bank is getting attention in the industry by turning a profit on loans without even charging interest.

Its specialty: financial products that comply with Islamic law. That means no collecting interest, no short selling and no contracts that are considered exceedingly risky.


Islamic finance operations aren't prohibited from making a profit. Far from it. Instead, banks that comply with Islamic law, or Sharia, earn money from fees that are part of the cost of the loan, some paid up front and some over time.



I grew up in Michigan. We always had something called a "Land Contract" that was pretty much what this is. In my day it was mostly seller orr angel financing, whereas here the Islamic bank is giving the seller cash and then writing a land contract.

More power to them, but it's a minor innovation, not major.

Email me at: i_love_to_know(at the rate)yahoo.com to know about islamic laws.

Horses at Work; A Book Review


Even the book review was informative. The noted 1872 epidemic resulted in workmen pulling the St. Charles streetcar in New Orleans instead of horses (steam locomotives had been taken out due to fire risk, and the one year trial of ammonia power was a few years in the future).

A Parallel ?


The parallel was made explicit in this review.

New York City considers mandated bicycle parking

Oddly, from a Portland Oregon link.


Best Hopes for More Bicycle Parking,


I just moved to suburban Cincinnati and am trying a car-free life at least for a while. However I seem to be the only person doing this in my town as no stores and few public buildings have bike racks, let alone indoor or covered bike parking. I have to lock my bike to the cart corrals or whatever you call them, or around whatever posts I can find. Mandatory bike parking would be awesome.

It is a challenge. When I bike to work, I just bring my bike up into the office next to my desk. There are a couple of other cyclists in our building and as best I can tell they all do the same thing, but we are fortunate that our building management doesn't make a fuss about it.

There actually is a bike rack by the side of the building, but to use it I would really need to remove some of the easily pilfered stuff before going inside.

The problem in NY is that many office buildings do not allow people to bring bikes inside.

These ordinances are not all that unusual. Madison, Wisconsin has one as do a number of other small-to-medium sized cities. Of course, it would be a milestone (and a start) for a hardnosed place like New York.

Unfortunately, another side of the coin is that while Hizonner Bloomberg talks well, the place is sliced and diced by many major waterways, and yet nearly all of the major bridges are still forbidden to pedestrians and cyclists. Or at best, last time I checked the Bayonne bridge, they offered phone-ahead reservations randomly at the arbitrary whim of some Port Authority poobah (the idea in general seems to be to avoid even the slightest risk of even the most trivial inconvenience to the bridge police, who are not to be saddled with the unbearable burden of patrolling the walkways, which in many cases exist but were closed in the 1960s.) And good luck changing that, since the two big bridge authorities, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, are both out-of-control laws-unto-themselves, constituted that way in preference to the even worse alternative of having the corrupt, inept, and now and then mafia-infested state and local governments (from both states) fouling up day-to-day operations.

While some people do live and work in the same borough, there are five boroughs, making the odds low. So I'll clap vigorously but with only one hand, until such time as Bloomie or somebody can fix the vexatious problem of access between boroughs, i.e. across the waterways, which might make the mandated parking actually widely useful. Should that eventually happen, I expect it will occur beyond the lifetimes of many reading this.

I guess one ought to treat the passing on of "Best Hopes for xyz" as an eternal vocation.

It's not really that bad, while it can surely be a lot better..

I wasn't a hardcore by any means, and I've biked from Manhattan across the George Washington bridge to NJ, over the Queensboro (59th st bridge) to Queens/Astoria, on the Brooklyn bridge, and some upper Manh. routes into the Bronx using Ped Paths.. so it's not as isolated as you think. But I'm sure it can keep getting a LOT better. While last I saw, they also put a Jog/Bike Path around much if not all by now of the perimeter of the Island of Manhattan.. and the stretch down the Hudson from midtown to Battery Park was two-direction, with lanes for foot and bike traffic.. but I haven't seen it in a few years now.

Over the last year, related to efforts to get Massachusetts to consider long-term energy planning, I cycled to the State House in Boston a half-dozen times or more. I was dismayed to find there's no bicycle parking for visitors / general public offered anywhere around the building. The local gendarmes protecting the building were no help and mostly tell people where they can't park their bicycles - which is mostly everywhere. This is the capital of the state fer crisakes!

Representative Will Brownsberger, who now heads the Transportation Committee, does cycle in from Belmont daily (in good weather I presume) and parks it in his office.

Best hopes for bicycle parking at the State Capital building,

- Dick Lawrence

Government Regulators Aided IndyMac Cover-Up, Maybe Others

A brewing fraud scandal at the Treasury Department may be worse than officials originally thought.

Investigators probing how Treasury regulators allowed a bank to falsify financial records hiding its ill health have found at least three other instances of similar apparent fraud, sources tell ABC News.

In at least one instance, investigators say, banking regulators actually approached the bank with the suggestion of falsifying deposit dates to satisfy banking rules -- even if it disguised the bank's health to the public.

...Meanwhile, IndyMac customers who lost their savings are demanding answers and are further infuriated after learning Dochow was also the regulator in 1989 who oversaw the failed Lincoln Savings and Loan, a scandal that sent its CEO Charles Keating to prison.

Unreal. This guy makes $230,000/year.

Blessed are the Curmudgeons! Keep trying X.

I did like the Monty Python the other day, by the way, but arguments about conformity and bad science can point both ways.

"That guy is so danged contrary, if I heard he'd drownded in the river, I'd set to looking for the body upstream!"

Hello TODers,

Abandoned at Sea: The Sad Plight of the Rohingya

.."They are not allowed to survive," he said....
This dead-weight tonnage into the ocean will eventually be seen as a huge postPeak waste of vital O-NPK and/or survival meat. I dead-reckon that the sausage machines and wood-chippers will most assuredly be dead-headed to this area...

Hello TODers,

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

THE Zimbabwean Government has ordered fraud investigations on eight Members of Parliament, some army officers and Grain Marketing Board officials accused of stealing fertilizer meant for a State-sponsored food production programme, the Zimbabwe Guardian has learnt.
I eventually expect Our Own Public Servants of Congressional members, Military chiefs, and the USDA to eventually behave exactly the same. As posted before: just like water, we will do anything for the Elements N,P,K,S.

Hello TODers,

Is the 'risk premium' now too high for these traders to profit?

When the US becomes as postPeak poor as Bangladesh is now, I expect we will act exactly the same:

Dhaka orders military 'to-shoot-on-sight' any smugglers of cheaper fertilizer and diesel along the border with India.

..The order came on the heels of a Bangladeshi Govt. reduction in prices of agricultural inputs, thus tempting dishonest traders to smuggle these two items out, as the price is higher on the other side of the border.

The BDR commander of the border district of Thakurgaon, Col Shahed Kamal Chowdhury, informed local leaders about the harsh measure at a Sunday meeting. He said the action is deemed essential to check smuggling of the much-needed agricultural inputs.
[Edited by me to improve readability]