Drumbeat: January 14, 2010

John Michael Greer: The Costs of Community

I suspect many of my readers have encountered Robert Putnam's widely discussed book Bowling Alone (2000), which traced the collapse of social networks and institutions straight across American society. The implosion of the old grassroots-based party system is simply one example of the trend Putnam documented. Putnam's book sparked a great deal of discussion, some of it in the peak oil community, but nearly all of that discussion fixated on the benefits that might be gained by reinventing community, and left out a crucial factor: the cost.

By this I don't mean money. Communities need regular inputs of time and effort from their members, or they collapse into mass societies of isolated individuals – roughly speaking, what we've got now. Communities also need subtler inputs: a sense of commitment, of shared purpose, of emotional connection, of trust. To gain the benefits of living in community, it's necessary to sacrifice some part of the autonomy that so many Americans nowadays guard so jealously. The same thing is true of those subsets of community already discussed – political parties, for example, or citizens' organizations, or any other framework for collective action that's more than a place for people to hang out and participate when they feel like it.

Peak Moment 159: It's the End of the World as We Know It

Taped in late 2005 before Peak Moment began, this conversation feels eerily prescient about the effects of the 2008 financial collapse. William Stewart reflects on the shadow side of the fossil fuel bonanza, which enabled hyper-individualism and mobility that have shredded our connections to community and place, along with increased violence and dysfunction. Likening our oil-dependent culture to an addict who must first bottom out, he suggests there may be a silken lining after collapse: the possibility of more communal and connected ways of life.

Venezuela power cuts force petrochemical stoppages

CARACAS (Reuters) - Electricity rationing in Venezuela has forced state-run petrochemical company Pequiven to program stoppages at two of its three factories, the company said on Thursday, without specifying what products will be hit.

"They are evaluating which lines of production can be operated in an intermittent manner," Pequiven President Clark Inciarte said.

Deloitte: UKCS Activity Down 35% Overall in 2009

Offshore exploration and appraisal activity dropped by more than 35% throughout 2009, according to the latest oil and gas industry figures released by Deloitte.

The latest North West Europe Review, which documents drilling and licensing in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), reveals that during the last 12 months a total of 78 exploration and appraisal wells were spudded. This is a fall from 121 in 2008 as drilling levels slipped to those last seen in 2004.

Most Norwegians want Arctic drilling study: survey

OSLO (Reuters) - An industry-backed survey published on Thursday shows most Norwegians favor an impact study that could pave the way to open a pristine, fish-rich Arctic area to oil activities and prolong Norway's energy boom.

Global threats in 2010 revealed by report

Underinvestment in energy and agriculture are among the biggest economic threats facing the world in 2010, according to a report.

Harare faces serious water shortages

Harare City Council might be forced to close Prince Edward Water Treatment Plant after pre-liminary assessments showed the two dams — Harava and Seke — that supply the plant have 40 days of water supply left.

The two small dams are there to tide the city through a few months of the driest seasons. The plant relies mainly on continued flow in the Manyame River, normally a perennial river.

Run-off in the upper Manyame catchment has been delayed in recent decades because of the very large number of farm dams on the river’s tributaries.

US to give $1b for six energy projects

ISLAMABAD – US will provide $ 16 million for the up-gradation of Pakistan’s largest hydropower project Tarbela. This was stated by the US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, in his joint press conference with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here on Wednesday.

Core inflation falls by 10.7 percent in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Despite huge challenges of energy crisis, continuing war against terrorism and impact of global economic recession, the core inflation has come down from 18.8 percent in December 2008 to 10.7 percent in December 2009.

Gas outages force people to switch to coal, LPG

LAHORE - LOADSHEDDING of gas and the its low pressure in some areas of the provincial capital continued irking the citizens almost right through the day on Wednesday and they had to resort to alternate sources of fuel for cooking meal.

The residents of some of the worst affected localities are forced to buy liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and coal to cope with the gas shortage.

High utility costs slow down Africa economic growth

The economies of sub Saharan Africa will require huge capital expenditure on infrastructure to sustain the sterling economic growth realised in the last decade.

The huge capital outlay is expected to enhance regional connectivity through improved road networks, energy availability and affordable communication thereby opening up the hinterland for business.

Indonesia oil & gas stalls in 2010

Indonesian oil and gas development is stalling in 2010 with state revenue from the sector falling US$6.36 billion, down 25 percent on 2009, and direct investment falling to $12.18 billion from $13.77 targeted, down from $13.52 billion in 2008.

Kuwait, France Sign Pact to Develop Nuclear Energy

(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait and France signed today a cooperation agreement to develop nuclear energy, paving the way for the emirate to eventually utilize nuclear power for electricity and other peaceful purposes.

“The next step will be starting to discuss and share information in such a way that Kuwait can make its own decision to move forward,” Bernard Bigot, chairman of the French Atomic Energy Commission, told reporters in Kuwait’s parliament. “It’s a long-term process” with no timeframe, Bigot said.

Lawsuit challenges group's effort to get greenhouse gas emissions cap in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest utility, three state lawmakers and other industry groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday to stop New Mexico regulators from adopting a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Stanford study shows gain in African solar-powered irrigation

The dry season in sub-Saharan Africa is a brutal six months of minimal rainfall, widespread malnutrition and community dislocation. However, according to a study by Jennifer Burney, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford’s Program on Food Security and the Environment (FSE), solar-powered drip irrigation systems may provide a viable long-term solution.

China, India, Brazil and South Africa prepare for post-Copenhagen meeting

One month after the Copenhagen climate summit ended in recriminations and and a weak outline of a global deal, key groups of developing countries will meet to try to explore ways to get to agree a legally binding final agreement.

Remember forced savings?

Wes Lane was responsible for making sure you turned down your thermostat.

Can you imagine the outcry today, likely “Socialist!” if Wes knocked on your door and asked you to keep that thing down at 65 during the day and 60 at night?

But that’s the way it was in 1977 in Lake County. Wes was the emergency services guy and the country was certainly going through an emergency.

It's okay to drive a 4x4!

The recent wet summers and snowy winters, that the global warming alarmists of the Met Office failed to predict, have once again demonstrated the usefulness of owning a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The extra traction can be a lifesaver in the dry, wet, mud or snow and on roads that haven't been gritted. Sadly, 4x4s have been attacked by so-called 'environmentalists' using their usual tactics of exaggeration, myths and 'direct action' along with some punitive VED rates imposed by a tax-hungry, anti-car government.

US raises concern over China oil policy

The US has expressed concern to Chinese officials about Beijing's attempts to buy up global oil reserves for the long term.

"We are pursuing intensive dialogue with the Chinese on the subject of energy security, in which we have raised our concerns about Chinese efforts to lock up oil reserves with long-term contracts," David Shear, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday.

...Shear was responding to questions by Republican Roscoe Bartlett, who said he was worried that the Chinese were "aggressively buying up oil all over the world" and might not share it with other countries in the future.

Supply Chain Comment: The Start of Demand Destruction for Oil?

Are we seeing the first phase of demand destruction for oil?

I was talking with a colleague this week about peak oil accelerating the desire of organizations to craft lean supply chains. Research suggests that rising oil prices impact supply chain dynamics in manners that are best understood through total landed cost analysis and network optimization studies.

Some studies, including those published by SCDigest, suggest that oil at $150 a barrel is the tipping point where transportation costs can overwhelm the low labor costs in far away countries; the result is a total landed cost calculation that favors production and distribution facilities close to the customer.

Stephen Leeb: How to deal with the coming economic crisis

Q. You talk about "absolute peaks" in regard to natural resources. Can you explain this?

A. Peak anything is when you are unable to produce more of it. I wanted to get across that it is very unlikely that you're going to reach peak energy or peak oil or anything like it without reaching peak lots of everything else.

That is because you need oil to produce iron ore; you need oil to produce copper; you need copper to produce oil. You need all these commodities to make more water. So when one critical commodity reaches peak, that might be peak for a lot of commodities and you might get to the point that the world can't produce any more commodities. And everything stops. You stop growing at that point or you find technological solutions.

...This to me is the equivalent of a war. The Chinese are winning and we don't even know that we're in a race. Basically war may be too strong a word, but I don't think it is.

We are in the race for our lives and we don't know it. And they are running full steam ahead.

No Peak Oil Here: API's Gerard Touts U.S. Resources, Takes Aim at White House

So what is the state of the energy industry in the United States? If you’re American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard the oil and gas industry is poised to create more jobs – even green ones — and Americans will have plenty of fossil fuels to play with as long as the Obama administration gets out of its way.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Gasoline Prices Revisited

It has been 18 months since we all worried very much about high oil prices. Starting in July 2008 gasoline prices took an historic plunge dropping from a U.S. average high of $4.11 a gallon all the way down to $1.70 in January 2009.

In retrospect this price drop was a good thing for it did more to slow the downward spiraling recession than most people realized. In the last 12 months however, the situation has reversed and the average price for gasoline is pushing $2.80 a gallon. An increasing number of commentators are starting to talk of the return of $100 oil and $3+ gasoline.

CFTC to Propose New Limits on Energy Speculation to Curb Prices

(Bloomberg) -- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will take another step today in its efforts to rein in energy speculation, proposing hard limits on the number of futures a single investor can hold.

Swaps dealers, index funds and commodity traders have been waiting for the proposal since July and August, when the commission held hearings amid concerns that speculators drove oil prices to a record high of $147.27 a barrel in 2008.

US sees non-OPEC oil output growth ending in 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The world will become more dependent on OPEC oil beginning next year as the combined oil output from countries outside of the producer group begins to decline, the U.S. government said on Tuesday.

The Energy Information Administration said in its new monthly forecast that non-OPEC oil supplies will not sustain the 630,000 barrel-per day-increase experienced in 2009.

Goldman Sachs Cuts Forecast for Commodity Returns

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its 12- month forecast for commodity returns following a jump in prices for oil and industrial metals and predicted that gold would reach a record within six months.

Chavez sacks energy minister after rolling blackouts

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has indefinitely suspended rolling blackouts in capital city Caracas just a day after they began, and sacked his electricity minister.

Chavez said that the minister was responsible for mistakes in the way the rationing plan was applied.

Transneft May Halt Oil Supply to Refinery Next Week

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Transneft, Russia’s state-run pipeline operator, may halt oil flows to the Mozyr refinery in Belarus next week after a supply agreement expired.

Total Union Says Strike Lowers Output at Some French Refineries

(Bloomberg) -- A union representative of refinery workers at Total SA said a strike to protest a possible permanent shutdown at the company’s Flanders plant will continue today, blocking exports of refined products and lowering output at some sites.

EU Formalizes E.ON Probe While Reviewing Settlement

(Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators formalized an investigation into E.ON AG and two of its units over an alleged abuse of their dominant position in the gas-supply market while it considers a proposed settlement in the case.

Kurds’ Boom in North Iraq Imperiled by Oil Dispute With Baghdad

(Bloomberg) -- Outside a newly built go-kart racetrack in Erbil, the capital of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, a poster urges would-be drivers to “feed the need for speed.”

Oil tanker trapped in worst sea ice off east China

JINAN (Xinhua) -- Nine crew members of an oil tanker trapped amid ice off east China coast Wednesday have been evacuated to safety, local authorities said Thursday.

The tanker ran aground after hitting ice 5.5 nautical miles off the Weifang port in the eastern province of Shandong in the Bohai Sea at 10:43 a.m. Wednesday, according to Shandong Emergency Management Office.

The ice pierced the bottom compartment of the 1,000-tonne oil tanker from the eastern province of Zhejiang. There was no casualty or oil leakage.

Carmakers Bet On Electric; See Early Hurdles

DETROIT - Carmakers emerging from a savage crisis hope to lure drivers to electric cars in the coming years, but cost, range and safety considerations mean many are still cautious, holding back from predicting an early sales boom.

As automakers showcased gleaming, futuristic electric cars at the Detroit Auto Show this week -- some of which will be on the road in 2010 -- executives' views varied on how quickly and comprehensively the technology will be adopted. Many sounded a note of caution.

Electric Cars Need Infrastructure

For electric cars to achieve widespread adoption in the years ahead, two things have to happen: a charging infrastructure needs to get built; and people need to buy electric cars. Of these, the hype surrounding the Detroit Auto Show, a veritable electric-car-apalooza, seeks to overcome problems associated with the second while making noises about the first. Who’s making the noise? None other than the Ford Motor Company’s very own...William C. Ford, Jr.

California Approves Standard ‘Crippling’ U.S. Ethanol

(Bloomberg) -- California regulators approved a carbon fuel standard yesterday that the U.S. ethanol industry says will bar domestic forms of the fuel from being used in the nation’s largest fuel-consuming state.

The state’s Office of Administrative Law yesterday approved the implementation of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, or LCFS, which aims to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The regulations will count the emissions created when corn is planted, harvested and ground into fuel as part of ethanol’s carbon output.

“It’s crippling,” said Cory Garcia, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates in Houston. “It makes ethanol produced in the Midwest uncompetitive.”

Masdar begins research and development phase for new solar tower ‘beam down’ facility

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s multifaceted renewable energy initiative, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Japan’s Cosmo Oil Company and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have launched an advanced concentrated solar power (CSP) Central Tower research and development project at Masdar City.

The state-of-the-art, collaborative research project will test an innovative ‘beam down’ technology, which has the potential to convert solar irradiation into electricity in a more efficient way than other technologies - producing a commercially viable ‘beam down’ process would represent a significant breakthrough in (CSP) technology.

Kuwait May Be Interested in Areva Stake, KUNA Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait may be interested in buying a stake in French nuclear-reactor builder Areva SA, the emirate’s state-run news agency KUNA reported, citing unidentified people in the industry.

“Executives at Areva also confirmed to KUNA that the company had sent delegations to Kuwait to discuss future cooperation and Kuwait has expressed an interest in acquiring civil, nuclear energy from the French company,” the news agency said.

Low carbon revolution and the emergence of the green-glomerate

Given how often parallels are drawn between the Industrial Revolution and the emerging low carbon revolution, it is remarkable how little detailed analysis there has been of the similarities that exist between the 19th century phenomenon that provided the foundations for the modern world and the imminent shift in the global economy that represents the last best hope of saving us from the ravages of climate change.

'Greenroads' rates sustainable road projects

Road construction is a more than $80 billion annual industry in the United States. Yet nothing comparable to the LEED rating system for buildings, or the Energy Star system for appliances, exists for highways and roads.

University of Washington researchers and global engineering firm CH2M Hill today unveiled Greenroads, a rating system for sustainable road design and construction. Environmental, economic and social impacts are included. The system outlines minimum requirements to qualify as a green roadway, including a noise mitigation plan, storm-water management plan and waste management plan. It also allows up to 118 points for voluntary actions such as minimizing light pollution, using recycled materials, incorporating quiet pavement and accommodating non-motorized transportation.

Green wedges lost in the woods

The article "We need more green areas, not people" by Rosemary West shows a complete disregard for the affordable housing aspirations of Victorian families and exposes the Green Wedges Coalition as out-of-touch environmentalists.

Are we leading ourselves into starvation?

It’s 2030, and you need a quart of milk. As you saunter down to the bus stop, you fondly remember the days when you could afford a car of your own, before oil hit $350 a barrel after the Israeli-Iranian war.

The bus is late as usual and as packed as ever (public transportation having gone through a renaissance of sorts with peak oil). Upon reaching the supermarket, an odd craving for pineapple overtakes you, before you recall grocery stores outside of Toronto and Montreal haven’t had pineapple for five years. It doesn’t take you long to locate the diary aisle; the supermarket only carries staple foods these days and the place is nearly empty. You can’t decide between 1 per cent or 2 per cent, but it doesn’t really matter. Both cost $20 for a paltry quart. ‘Hell,’ you think to yourself, ‘I can afford it with the tax rebates I get for growing a vegetable garden in the backyard.’

Although the above scenario seems quite implausible right now, odds are the way we produce, transport, and consume food is going to change over the next few decades. Britain recently released a new food security plan, titled Food 2030. However, like Canada’s 1998 food security plan, Food 2030 skips on actual policy and only provides broad outlines for future action.

BIODIVERSITY: A Tipping Point on Species Loss?

Humanity is destroying the network of living things that comprise our life support system. While this sawing-through-the-branch-we're-perched-on is largely unintentional, world leaders can't say they didn't know what's going on: 123 countries promised to take urgent action in 2003 but have done little to stem the rising tide of extinctions in what's known as the extinction or biodiversity crisis.

Global Warming: Is Making Carbon 'SAFE' the Answer?

ScienceDaily — Mandating fossil fuel producers to sequester (bury) a steadily increasing fraction of the carbon they extract would be a simple, effective, and fair way of sharing out the pain of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a leading group of climate researchers.

India Plans $16 Billion Energy-Saving Credit Market

(Bloomberg) -- India, the world’s fourth-largest polluter, plans to start a market to trade energy-saving credits that may reach 740 billion rupees ($16 billion) in five years as it seeks to curb emissions that cause global warming.

Pacific Islanders Bid to Stop Czech Coal Plant

PRAGUE (Reuters) - A small pacific island state's challenge to a Czech coal-fired power plant extension some 6,000 km away on grounds it could harm its environment could open a new front in the fight over global climate change.

Micronesia has filed a plea with the Czech environment ministry using a measure designed originally to settle disputes between near neighbours but which could spur others to do the same when opposing power plants, environmental advocates said.

China's imprints all over Copenhagen talks fiasco

Global warming does not worry China, a fact that partially accounts for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's shabby treatment of President Obama at the Copenhagen climate conference last month.

From the Ancient Amazonian Indians: 'Biochar' as a Modern Weapon Against Global Warming

ScienceDaily — Scientists are reporting that "biochar" -- a material that the Amazonian Indians used to enhance soil fertility centuries ago -- has potential in the modern world to help slow global climate change. Mass production of biochar could capture and sock away carbon that otherwise would wind up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

Trees invading warming Arctic will cause warming over entire region, study shows

Contrary to scientists' predictions that, as the Earth warms, the movement of trees into the Arctic will have only a local warming effect, University of California, Berkeley, scientists modeling this scenario have found that replacing tundra with trees will melt sea ice and greatly enhance warming over the entire Arctic region.

Large Changes in Climate Likely Over Next Century, Daily Carbon Dioxide Measurements Suggest

ScienceDaily — Researchers studying climate now have a new tool at their disposal: daily global measurements of carbon dioxide and water vapor in a key part of Earth's atmosphere. The data are courtesy of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft and confirm the mainstream scientific view that large changes in the climate are likely over the next century.

Major Antarctic glacier is 'past its tipping point'

A major Antarctic glacier has passed its tipping point, according to a new modelling study. After losing increasing amounts of ice over the past decades, it is poised to collapse in a catastrophe that could raise global sea levels by 24 centimetres.

Is Antarctica melting, or not?

NASA notes that one new paper states there has been less surface melting recently than in past years, and has been cited as "proof" that there’s no global warming. Other evidence that the amount of sea ice around Antarctica seems to be increasing slightly is being used in the same way. But both of these data points are misleading. Gravity data collected from space using NASA's Grace satellite show that Antarctica has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002. The latest data reveals that Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate, too. How is it possible for surface melting to decrease, but for the continent to lose mass anyway? The answer boils down to the fact that ice can flow without melting.

Unemployment Weekly Claims Report: Today

MSM usually reports the Seasonally adjusted weekly unemployment data. I have been keeping all the BLS weekly data on an xl spreadsheet for more than a year and the numbers are not as rosy as reported. It is the non-seasonally adjusted data that tells the story.
You never hear the non-seasonally adjusted 4 week Avg data because BLS doesn’t post it. Why? I have added it to my spread sheet.

Today’s data Jan 9th Seasonally Adjusted Initial 444,000 Non-SA Initial 801,086

4 Wk Avg Non-seasonally adjusted initial claims Oct 3 thru Jan 9th


4 Wk Avg Non-seasonally adjusted continuing claims (<27 Wks) Oct 3 thru Jan 2rd


4 Wk Avg Non-seasonally adjusted extended claims (>26 Wks) Oct 3 thru Dec 26th
EUC weekly claims include first, second, third, and fourth tier activity.


4 Wk Avg Non-seasonally adjusted total claims (All) Oct 3 thru Dec26th



Record 3 million households hit with foreclosure in 2009

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Almost 3 million homeowners received at least one foreclosure filing during 2009, setting a new record for the number of people falling behind on their mortgage payments.

RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed homes, reported that one in 45 households -- or 2,824,674 properties nationwide -- were in default last year. That's 21% more than in 2008, and more than double 2007's total.

and that doesn't include the back log of properties that were technically in foreclosure but not processed.

Retail sales end grim year on sour note

WASHINGTON - Retail sales unexpectedly fell in December, leaving 2009 with the biggest yearly drop on record and highlighting the formidable hurdles facing the economy as it struggles to recover from the deepest recession in seven decades.

In another disappointing economic report, the number of newly laid-off workers requesting unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week as jobs remain scarce.

“In the jobs report, the Labor Department said new claims for unemployment rose by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 444,000. Wall Street economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected an increase of only 3,000.”

How much meaning is there to an 8,000 discrepancy when the Seasonally Adjusted Initial claims 444,000 vs Non-Seasonally Adjusted Initial claims are 801,086, an almost 2 to 1 ratio?

Fudge Factor SA=NSA/FF It will be interesting next week when the BLS FF changes from 1.806 this week to 1.35 and 1.064 respectively the next 2 weeks. For future FF values see this and hit submit.


Some of you may recall that I did counsel extreme scepticism regarding the early stories about how great this holiday season was for retailers. Now the truth is starting to come out. These are just the initial figures, too, there will be revisions downward in the months ahead.

We are going to be seeing this pattern over and over again: An initial release of optimistic-sounding statistics accompanied by trumpets and angels singing in the clouds - and then later, more realistic (i.e., pessimistic) statistics progressively revised downward.

Heh. This guy thinks the opposite:

A gift for nation's stores: Holiday sales gain

The NRF report, which covers the two months of the holiday period, followed a somewhat disappointing government report Thursday that showed a surprising decline in overall retail sales in December. The November sales figures were revised higher, to a gain of 1.8%.

Some industry watchers said both reports indicated a modest pick-up in consumer spending.

Further, the unexpected decline in December retail sales could be revised next month to eventually show a gain, said Michael Niemira, chief economist with the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

Niemira said he's hopeful that will happen given that a number of large retail chain reported much better December sales earlier this month.

From a National Retail Federation press release. Consider the source.

These things just seem to be SOP anymore: Over-optimistic initial release (which gets the front page headlines), then progressively worse news in the revisions (which are buried and ignored). Heck, they hardly even need live people in the PR offices anymore, can't they just program a computer to do this automatically?

Well, they did revise November up, rather than down. That's basically the difference between the two reports.

Denninger, however, points out that the numbers would have been much worse except for the increase in gas prices. Which isn't exactly a good thing.

I'd really like to see a report on how online sales are doing.

From my own personal experience - not so good. I've got two online businesses that sell items that (I believe) will be useful in an energy constrained world. My site that sells heavy duty garden tools has been around long enough now that I have graphs of how sales trend over the months. Sales were up until just past mid-year, then they fell back to last years level. Only thing I can figure is unemployment is shrinking the customer base. Fortunately my new business manufacturing a new design clothes drying racks helped fill the income gap.

It's hard to make a living as a small business person. At least I won't get laid off :)

I contributed to your tool sales in 2008, but I have to say I would not buy the rack. By far the best style that I have ever used is the metal folding type, e.g.: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:us5TJH44e1TthM:http://www2.westfalia-...
They hold about 4x more than yours and cost half as much. I have never seen these in the US, so you might consider trying to sell them.

These are actually very common over here, they're great!

According to Denninger, online was up 10%.

And I agree with Biophiliac. I would not buy that clothes-drying rack.

We have three of the racks and they are great to use because of the ability to "spin" and the arm design lets more of our (wood stove dried) air get to the clothes. We can cycle clothes on/off them faster than traditional drying racks.

I also have a couple of the hoes, but haven't used them yet.

Bought them for when I can't get gas for my rototiller. Our heavy clay soil will someday feel their wrath! ;-)

rev. karl

You know, that design does make sense if you have a wood stove.

But I don't have a wood stove, so the whole spinning thing doesn't make much sense.

I live in a small apartment, and I have a rack suited for my situation: a rectangular chrome rack. I like it because it fits in the tub, in case you have things that drip, it holds a lot in a small space, and you can dry sweaters flat on top.

If you garden, get yourself an azada (grub hoe) frome easydigging.com. No kidding, it's the best and most useful purchase I've made in many years. Very reasonably priced.

Preparing a potato bed? No problem. Witch-grass getting away from you? No problem. Once you learn how to operate this thing, it is amazing how much work you can do in a short time. And no petroleum!

Seriously, gardeners, you need to have one of these bad boys in your arsenal.

Azada, eh? The short-handled Spanish azada is an instrument of torture and only the dimwitted Spaniards would use them. (I am one Spaniard, I should know)
Now, the French are a race with brains! The French use the hoe with a long handle, so they can dig away standing up without having to bend their backs, sprain a disc and get on the early retirement list, as our dear countrymen.
Use a short and then a long handled azada for some hours and you'll appreciate the difference.

Another instrument of torture is the Spade. So much so that in Uruguay when they learn to read, in the book there's a drawing of an Eye, a Wing and a Spade: Ojo, Ala, Pala... Ojo a la pala!! Watch Out, A Spade! So the children learn to give the spade a miss from an early age.

We're thinking of two different azadas. The one I got from easydigging has a very long handle - no bending over for me!

I've got an azada too, and I would highly recommend it. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you have to evacuate deep into the bush to survive, sling your bug-out bag over one shoulder, and carry an azada and an axe over the other.

For Christmas I bought my brother the narrow hoe. He's a new homeowner and has some buried sprinklers to fuss with. That narrow hoe looks great for the sprinkler trench.

I've got the wide hoe myself. It's great in the garden!

I was delighted to see this design as it is the same as my mother used to dry my nappies on in front of our wooden stove. It was great as a drier and the rotation helped to distribute the heat.It held a lot, it did not fall over easily and we children loved to fold all the little arms up to put it away! I haven't seen it anywhere since then. It would be easily repaired.

Are they available in Australia somewhere? : )

Wow, great to hear everybody's experiences and thoughts on our tools and racks! I didn't realize that so many TOD members had them.

Many of you answered others questions already, but I'll try to do a wrap up:

* The garden tools (grub hoe, azada, grape hoe, fork hoe) do have very long handles for exactly the reason Santaluciae mentioned. I also had extra-long 45" handles made for 3lb mattocks - these have been a hit with volunteer trail crews in the US because of less back strain.

* The drying rack does indeed have a bigger footprint than the usual rectangular racks. This makes for more air flow and faster drying. But it may not fit comfortably in small apartments. Many customers use it outside on a patio in good weather and inside otherwise.

* For those outside the US, I can send either item by US International Mail. Just go to the website and send me a message to get a shipping quote. I send to AU and NZ occasionally.

It is really great to hear from you all and get feedback. Working alone is a bit too quiet at times. I have daydreams of a big empty building being divided up into small spaces for lots of small manufacturers like me to share the space (and have co-workers to do lunch with). Might be a good use for a deserted Wal-Mart store. Thanks everybody!

Over here on the other side of the Pacific, there are many varieties of laundry rack. (I admire your wood design by the way, those are made of yucky plastic over here and I won`t buy plastic ones because they don`t last.)

One I like to use is two hanger like hooks at the top, a series of metal lightweight bent rods (in the shape of an oval or a rectangle) that suspends 40 or 50 laundry clips (on short lightweight chains). Mine are made of all stainless steel and I hang them on bamboo poles suspended from the ceiling or on a long stanless pole outside or also on some cords I have strung around the room.

In October, 2008, I had a memorable discussion with an acquaintance of mine who professed great faith in the tenents of the Chicago School of Economics (a/k/a Reaganomics, or Supply Side Economics). I tried to pin him down as to what impact all of the layoffs would have on the purchasing power of the American consumers. He said it would not matter, and claimed that greed was still good, and that St. Ronnie was correct.

Do you suppose that the increasing unemployment has a real impact on retail sales? Hm... interesting theory, eh?

Following your friend's line of thinking, I suppose he would say as long as one enriched Wall St bankster bought a gift that cost a million dollars, it wouldn't matter if one hundred thousand working stiffs could no longer afford to buy gifts costing $10 each.

Interesting theory, eh?

It's a jobless recovery don't ya know.

We won't have a recovery until everyone is jobless.

Don't know whether to laugh or cry!


Remember that most of us are "useless eaters."

The Market will make it all happen as per the Chicago School of Economics Shock Doctrine: create crisis, chaos and misery and establish The New Order, The Ownership Society, where one either owns others or is owned by others.

"Useless Eaters" (thanks for borrowing that term, Henry Kissinger) will be not be tolerated.

There are not enough resources for 6-to-10 Billion people to drive cars, have portable wireless communication/entertainment devices, and enjoy the support infrastructure necessary for modern life. Therefore the "Useless Eaters" will be killed or transformed into slaves.

Wow, the 'Useless Eaters'. That's profound, and unfortunately is becoming the case for many americans with no income, surviving on food stamps and the kindness of others to house them. My goal as of knowing that term, is to make sure I remain a 'Useful Eater', because I'm sure the fixings will be a whole lot better.

You got two choices -- make yourself useful to the ruling class or become independent of them. That is, you learn to scrub toilets, wipe fannies and say "yassuh" or you carve yourself out a little piece of turf (it has to be little or someone is going to try and take it from you) and learn to depend upon yourself and live with whatever that brings. It's harsh but that's the situation.

"Join the hustle or be a bum"

When a group realizes they are at greater risk with your death you become a survivor. Your expertise is your survival card.

I don't know where Kissinger came in but the term "useless eaters" came from a particularly nasty little Kraut with a goofy moustache.

December Retail Sales Drop 0.3%.
Retail Sales Sink, Jobless Claims Rise

As I have stated before, there is no recovery in the United States, and there may be no recovery in China. Both upsurges in each country appear to have been the direct result of massive central bank interventions in both economies attempting to keep them afloat. Yet despite the most massive central bank intervention in the entire history of known civilization, there has been almost no cumulative positive effect. Unemployment continues to rise, masked by BLS tricks of moving people "out of the workforce" even as total population continues to increase. Profitability varies, usually bolstered by short term cuts to fixed costs (labor and facilities) but gross revenue streams continue to shrink.

We can argue about causes, but the immediate effects are visible to anyone willing to remove the rose colored glasses thrown over their face by the government and the mainstream media. The folks at 33 Liberty are going to do everything they can to keep this "rally" going in the stock market even though actual economic activity out on Main Street continues to falter. Eventually the discrepancy between the market lie and the Main Street reality will become so large that it can no longer be hidden. When it does, the market too will come tumbling down.

The folks at 33 Liberty are going to do everything they can to keep this "rally" going in the stock market even though actual economic activity out on Main Street continues to falter.

Discussion over the dinner table with Sister and Brother-in-Law:

Me: Do YOU think the economy is recovering?

Answer - in wierd unison: "Are you kidding? Just go up to twenty people on the street... they will all tell you, there is no recovery."

The in-laws were not warned the question was coming, b/c I didn't know I was going to ask that until I did. But, they answere in stereo!

So, who are "the folks at 33 Liberty" [The Federal Reserve] fooling? Or, if no one, who are they trying to fool? I have trouble believing those people are stupid... Where is the cheese???

RE: Stephen Leeb

I would also add that we need oil to produce oil to list of commodities affected. (Doom and gloom clouds gathering)

And oil products. Last week a new all-time high for weekly propane prices in the USA.

Re the top link. You can buy up assets, like China does, without regard to human rights etc. Or, you can deploy your military accross the world to secure assets, like the US does, without regard to human rights etc

We are currently securing a lot of Haitian assets with our military.

More like we are securing a lot of Haitian liabilities IMO.

Senator Youri Latortue estimates 500.000 killed. Sorry, no English language link

"More like we are securing a lot of Haitian liabilities IMO."

Yeah right

"What You're Not Hearing about Haiti (But Should Be)"


"It may startle news-hungry Americans to learn that these conditions the American media correctly attributes to magnifying the impact of this tremendous disaster were largely the product of American policies and an American-led development model."

"This "aid" from the Americans, along with the structural changes in the countryside predictably forced Haitian peasants who could no longer survive to migrate to the cities, especially Port-au-Prince..."

We destroyed local rice production. flooding the place with cheap rice from the South.
It would be a good thing for the population and the country if the US brought back the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who the Bush Regime ousted in a coup.
Just saying!

How about the US stop mucking about in other nations and lead by example by creating something that works within the US of A's borders?

Haiti has assets???

Perhaps, when you see someone sitting in the street staring into space and you provide them with water, food, medical aid and tent shelter are you not securing an asset? (Depends on the definition of asset).

RE: U.S. concerns over China's effort to secure oil production. Interesting response by the gov't spokesman. He said the gov't is worried about the Chinese "aggressively buying up oil all over the world" and might not share it with other countries in the future. One might assume that if we're asking the Chinese to share the oil they'll have with the rest of the world the U.S. must be pledging to share some of the 100's of millions bbls of oil that will be produced from Federal lands as well as share the SPR with the rest of the world. Otherwise how foolish would the gov't appear by making such a request of China. Not too farfetched I suppose. After all the U.S. gov't is loaning money to Brazil to help them develop their deep water oil.

After all, if the U.S. isn't offering to share our oil with the rest of the world how foolish would gov't position appear.

Rockman, amazing there was finally a response from the U.S. Govt. showing concern. I was beginning to think they were completely oblivious to China buying up oil contracts.

Of course all they did was whine which will be ignored, but it's a start. Maybe it will dawn on the Govt. that they could do the same thing. Ah duh!

Earl -- I need to do a little reseacrh. Some dormant brain cell way in the back makes think there may be law in place that actually forbids the US from owning such over seas assets. Not sure if that's a correct memory or just a bad dream I had long ago. Seems like something I remember from the 70's embargo days. I'll report back when I know what the hell I'm talking about.

I think that one problem with the military model is that oil tankers are very vulnerable targets, using a variety of weapons, especially submarines. Even if we can use the threat of military force to keep the oil flowing our way, instead of going to the high bidders, all it would take to neutralize our military option would be the threat to torpedo a supertanker off the Gulf Coast.

So, IMO, the Chinese are pursing the more logical strategy.

The Chinese certainly are.

And remember the Somali pirates with machine guns and rocket-propelled granates that seized a VLCC, with 2 mbo on board, last year.

In regard to actions speaking louder than words, while the "official" debate is whether we hit a production plateau this century (Yergin) or next century (Lynch). there are signs that governments are beginning to try to secure access to oil supplies.

I might be wrong but it seems very possible one old obsolete jet fighter loaded with ground attack rockets or one helicopter equipped with the same could sink or burn a crude carrier.

Crude haulers are not warships and sfaik have no design features that help protect them from deliberate destruction.

Even a large work boat such as a fishing trawler or tug loaded with explosives could probably sink one if deliberately crashed into it.

And any one with the cash can buy his own submarine these days from the people who build them to haul cocaine.One loaded with explosives and equipped as a mine should get the job done too.

We may be a lot closer to the edge than we think.The opening shot of WWI is generally accepted as the murder of a single man.

I learn the other day that the Prince was wearing a bullet-proof vest (early model, made of layers of silk). He was shot in the head, unfortunately.

Re: Stephen Leeb, up top:

...This to me is the equivalent of a war. The Chinese are winning and we don't even know that we're in a race. Basically war may be too strong a word, but I don't think it is.

We are in the race for our lives and we don't know it. And they are running full steam ahead.

Leeb is going too far IMO. Equating every competitive situation to war adds nothing to the analysis. The Chinese have nearly 4 times the population of the USA. They have chosen to base their economy on manufacturing because that capitalizes on their huge resource of 1.1 billion people.

Manufacturing is a big consumer of oil and other commodities. So Chinese locking in oil resources is only logical. The USA on the other hand has done all it can to get out of manufacturing and move to a service economy where many of the needed manufactured goods are produced in China or other foreign countries. How then is China's securing resources to keep the game going bad for the USA?

Generally Americans look down on manufacturing and it is even held in contempt in some quarters. They prefer the less polluting enterprises such as finance and other services where they don't have to get their hands dirty.

This fits neatly with status of the dollar as the world's defacto medium of exchange and the ability to effectively tax the world's manufacturing by creating ever increasing mountains of dollars to pay for imported goods.

China and other manufacturers may superficially be winning the game but when they exchange their hard earned production for our funny money, who is really winning?

Their securing commodity resources such as oil to employ their huge population in producing goods for our consumption is hardly winning.

They are in effect indenturing themselves to American hegemony as the dollars depreciate in real value and the difference is collected by the USA.

I agree with your main gist about comparisons to "war" being overblown, however, this gets it exactly backwards:

They are in effect indenturing themselves to American hegemony as the dollars depreciate in real value and the difference is collected by the USA.

Debtor nations (U.S., UK) are the ones indenturing ourselves to the new producer nations (incl. China). Once the producer nations create new markets for their products, or sufficiently build up their own domestic markets, they no longer have much need for our cheap fiat currency. At that point, it is we who will lay prostrate before them.

I agree with Harm.

A manufacturing economy can provide it's own services but a service economy must import it's manufactured goods.

Once the manufacturing base is gone, more is gone than just the buildings and machinery-the skills and the workforce are lost , the trade relationships with raw materials suppliers are lost, the ability to even manufacture the armaments necessary to mainyaining a strong military can be lost.

And exported services are never crtical to the survival of a manufacturing economy so far as I can see.Ten year old computers and software can get the job done.Entertainment such as movies can be recycled endlessly, or foregone altogether.Local universities capable of training medical and other professionals will arise in the manufacturing economy.

I can't think of a single thing that a service economy can provide to a manufacturing economy that is critical to it OVER THE LONG HAUL, including customers.

Otoh a great deal of the stuff a service economy imports is critical in boty the long term and in the short term.

Generally Americans look down on manufacturing and it is even held in contempt in some quarters.

This American spent his entire working life in factories. I love factories. As I watched opportunities for engineers and tradesmen evaporate it was pretty obvious to me that the ole US of A was digging a really nasty hole for itself "Itself" being people like me, an engineer, and many millions of others like me who love to work with their hands.

"The US has expressed concern to Chinese officials about Beijing's attempts to buy up global oil reserves for the long term".

Pardon me for being an English Geologist and therefore gullible as they come, but ... isn't that the "unseen hand of the free market in action?"
To quote from my past, if you can't take a joke, you shouldn't join the Andrew (the Royal Navy to our American friends).

I think that most Americans agree that oil supplies should go to the high bidder, provided of course the US has access to unlimited supplies of low cost petroleum products, which we need to power our "Non-negotiable" way of life.

Nothing new there. World's rich countries always change the rules of the game when others start figuring out how to win.

Robert Heinlein said 'A managed democracy is a great thing, for the managers.'

It seems a (managed) Free Market has some of the same limitations. New Managers are not welcome.

It is the same with the ISO 900x management system it is perfect if you is a manager.

Excellent point Harry. And I do pardon you for being an English geologist (we Texas geologists are generous that way). And yes, Americans like someone having the competitive edge...as long as it's us. Not that I would care for our gov't getting so involved in our oil patch on our this side of the Pond, but loaning money to Brazil seems a tad odd. I would like to think that we've received some sort of right-of-first-refusal on future Bz oil sales but I bet we didn't. But when the Chinese lent money to Bz I'd bet you lunch that they have something along those lines built into the trade.

I have one possible vision for future oil allocation: MADOR: mutually assured distributing of resources. Both the US and China will use their strengths to tie up foreign oil. The Chinese are doing so now by using the Americans $'s (earned in interest by holding our debt) and buying long term oil reserves in the ground. That oil isn't going to be sold to the highest bidder: it will belong to China without paying another penny for it. So even if the US economy is strong enough to out bid other buyers we'll never have access to that oil. But if we still have the upper hand financially compared to the other developed nations then much of the remaining production will be split between us and China. Thus I suspect each side will support each other's position. China needs the US market for their goods. So we'll just be friends....at least until there's only enough oil for one of us IMHO.

China needs the US market for their goods.

Rockman, do you really think we are an effective market for anyone's goods at the present time? And, will we become a better or worse market over time?

One of the posts today noted that $150 oil will pretty much reduce the attraction of overseas labor, and drive manufacturing back to national, (and, IMO, local) focus. What, then, does China do as the US is unable to pay as agreed on our massive debt?

Interesting times we live in, eh?

zap -- I try to avoid predicting the future but if I remember correctly the US buys about as much from China as the rest of the world combined (or at least the EU). How that relationship changes down the road who knows.

China is actively courting all oil & other resource exporters. "What do you want ? We can build it for you."

900,000 Chinese in Angola building infrastructure, 20 imitation land grant colleges/ag research centers all over Africa, etc.


Good point Alan. I was thinking more about zap's question. Given all the comments re: the lack of capital in the future for US expansion of alts etc you have to wonder about the potential for more local production of goods. While the US might want to expand production capacity of widgets no plan, regardless of how important it might be, won't happen without the investment. What got me focused on this angle was a chat yesterday regarding capital scarcity in the oil patch. NG and especially oil prices are high enough to make many conventional prospects look very good. And there are many very good looking prospects on the market now just begging for buyers. Add that to the fact the drilling costs are the lowest we've seen in years (drilling a well right now that had a cost estimate of $23 million a year ago...current estimate $13 million). I don't know one operator that wouldn't be drilling as fast as possible today IF THEY HAD THE CAPITAL.

Lots of ideas about how deep the cut is in the capital market and what were the causes. But bottom line: regardless of the need for alts, local production, etc can we count on the capital being there? The gov't can print money only so long in most folks opinion. We can still borrow money from China (they've been happy so far since we use much of that money to buy their stuff) but will they loan us money to build factories to compete with their exports???

MADOR .... isn't that .... gasp .... socialism, or worse, GODLESS COMMUNISM?

Actually Harry I would tend to define it as GODLESS IMPERIALISM. Communist only rule the lives of their own citizens. If we and China decide to split the pie between us then the rest of the world will have to take care of themselves the best they can

Pardon me for being an English Geologist and therefore gullible as they come, but ... isn't that the "unseen hand of the free market in action?"

Actually that is the seen hand of government planning/intervention. We rely on the free market model, which notoriously discounts the future, hence we are perfectly happy to let others get it instead.

Its really just a case of people letting their foolish ideology come back to bite um. We get the result we deserve. Not the result we desire.

From the point of view of huge entities (countries and multinational corporations) surely this IS the free market in action. (No one, eg the UN, is ordering China to buy or resource rich nations to sell.) China clearly "desires" the resource contracts more than the other competiting entities. It's the resource distribution INSIDE China falls into the central planning, government-influenced category.

Maybe the Chinese have other longer term concerns than maximising current profit margins as current economists consider central, but that doesn't change the issue.

Link up top: US sees non-OPEC oil output growth ending in 2011

* Higher oil output from U.S, Brazil, former Soviet Union

The US saw a surge in production in 2009 due to several huge GOM projects. There are very few new projects coming on line in ghe GOM in the next few years. I think US post Katrina oil peaked in December of 2009.

Post Soviet Russia plateaued in 2007 but saw a small new peak in 2009. Russia likely peaked in November 2009 however they may still show a small increase, but not much if any.

Azerbaijan has nothing new coming exceot a projected 200 mb/d field coming on line in 2015.

Kazakstan's big Kashagan Field is supposed to come on line late 2012 and 2013. That will be a game changer as far as Kazakstan is concerned.

* Lower production from Mexico, United Kingdom, Norway

So what else is new?

* OPEC share of global oil supply may reach 42 pct in 2011

They are talking about All Liquids here because OPEC's share of world C+C production is currently 42.43 percent. (2009 10 month average.) OPEC's share of world All Liquids production is currently 40.28 percent. (Again, that is a 2009 10 month average.)

The title of the article is a little misleading. As I posted yesterday the EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook showed Non-OPEC peaking in 2010 and beginning its decline in 2011.

Also, Wikipedia's Oil Megaprojects is out with a new update this morning. There appears to be some major revisions however I have not gone over them enough to comment at this point.

Ron P.

Ron, how could you not mention this:


URUMQI, September 19 (Xinhua Zhan-jun) have long to stay in people's minds the Gobi desert in Xinjiang, "barren," the impression that with China's increasing oil and gas exploration and development technologies in recent decades has been "full of the Gobi desert treasure "concept replaced. Today, these pants make an inventory of oil and gas has been, is the benefit of the people in Xinjiang, stimulating economic development in Xinjiang, China's economic and social development afterburner.

In Xinjiang, the "three plus two basins Mountain" in topography, the "two basins" (Junggar Basin, Tarim Basin) is rich in oil and gas resources. The edge of the Junggar Basin in northern Xinjiang Karamay Oil Field is the new China's first big oil field. Since reform and opening, Karamay oil into the rapid development phase. In 1981, crude oil output reached 3.84 million tons in 2002 to reach 10.1 million tons, becoming the first in western China a million tons of large fields. In 2008, Karamay oil field produced a total of 12.21 million tons of crude oil to achieve 28 consecutive years of growth but also to refresh the Daqing Oilfield has maintained a 25-year record of continuous growth.

Then again just when you thought 28 consecutive years of growth proves the fallacy of "Peak Chinese Oil"...

China's reform and opening up, economic construction continued to accelerate, oil demand soared. However, the eastern peak of oil extraction is over, the remaining recoverable reserves are reduced year after year, for every one ton increase in production will have to pay dearly. Have become increasingly prominent in oil supply and demand, prompting policymakers to look toward the western exploration area, the Tarim Basin to invest in the country's largest and hope this piece of the endless vast Gobi Desert, to take over the heavy responsibility borne by Daqing Oilfield, the country's economic development to provide adequate oil and gas resources.

Found this: PetroChina Daqing Oilfield 2009 Crude Output Tad Down On Year

It pumped 40.2 million tons of crude oil in 2008, down 3.6% from a year earlier.

PetroChina has been applying advanced technologies to shore up output from this aging oilfield, which was discovered in 1959, CNPC said.

Daqing was down 3.6 percent in 2008 but advanced technologies kept the decline to .5 percent in 2009. Advanced technologies is code for superstraws that suck the oil out a lot faster. They decrease the decline rate while increasing the depletion rate.

Also this: CNPC Daqing Oilfield 2009 crude output down 0.5 pct y-o-y

China's crude oil output in January-November of 2009 was 173.602 million tonnes, fallen 0.5 percent below the same period of last year. Its dependence on crude oil imports this year is expected to exceed 50 percent for the first time.

It was not only Daqing that was down .5 percent in 2009 but China's total output was also down .5 percent. Add China to the list of countries that have peaked. Yet Chinese demand keeps rising. Their dependence on crude oil imports will rise each year.

What does this mean? Think about it.

Ron P.

Add China to the list of countries that have peaked.

Strange enough, if you google "how many countries past peak" you can open 'energy files' from Michael Smith with a list of countries that are past peak including China. That presentation is from april 2009 and has also some nice graphs which explains very well how geological Peak oil works. It makes understandable that 'last fields do not affect peak; they slow decline'. In that phase the world is now.

The EIA's Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report showed a drawdown of 266 billion cubic feet for the week ending last Friday. That is the second largest drawdown ever. The largest was 274 billion cubic feet according to what I just heard on CNBC. They neglected to say what year that was.

Ron P.

At 2,852 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.

The draw brought natural gas storage back to within the recent historical range. It will be interesting to see what the production decline rate is for 2010. Matt Simmons is of the opinion that we may be facing a supply problem next winter, because of the high decline rates in the shale gas wells (and because of the slow down in drilling).

week of 24 Jan 2008

Natural gas tumbles after supply report

NEW YORK – Natural gas prices tumbled Thursday after a government report showed that even after a frigid two-week winter blast, U.S. stockpiles are still well above average for this time of year.

Since March, natural gas held in underground caverns has remained at the high end of the five-year average. That's because some of the biggest energy consumers, industrial plants and manufacturers, have been in a recession-fueled funk.

Even people turning up the heat at home to battle the elements, and utilities using more natural gas because prices have fallen so far, hasn't been enough to offset weak industrial demand.

"The unseen hand of the free market at work" is really a hidden iron fist, concealed inside the velvet glove of the state. Increasingly, as the invasion of Iraq proved, that great, imperial, military, fist; is making a grab for what's left of the world's oil.

The Chinese military is currently no match for the United States, but in fifteen or twenty years, things will be very different, at least that's what many Chinese have told me. It's not as if they want a military conflict with the United States, they don't. They are quite happy to "just" buy the world and return China to its traditional role as the world's centrum, and given the size of their population and productive capacity, this is a "natural" state for them.

Of course the real problem is how will the ruling elite at the centre of the American Empire react to the growth of China? The last time this happened, I'm refering to the rivalry between The British Empire and Imperial Germany, Europe and much of the rest of the world tore itself apart in two massive, bloody, and destructive, wars. Are we really going to see this happen all over again?

I hope not


Americans are bad at math.

Just as there is a hidden epidemic of people who are functionally illiterate in our country, there is big problem (bigger, by my reckoning) with people who can’t do basic math. There’s no way to function in our society without understanding money, percentages, interest calculation and so on. Yet in a recent government study, less than one in seven American adults ranked “proficient” at math.

Most Americans can't even add the prices of two menu items, then calculate a tip. No wonder we were such easy pickings for the mortgage fraudsters.

And no wonder we don't understand exponential functions...

And then there are the people for whom a billion barrels of oil sounds like a fantastic amount.

Every time someone tries to tell me that our problems are solved because of some find, I simply state that "the world uses 30 every year". The billion thing disappears - when you compare 1 vs 30, then the nature of the problem is much easier to understand.

What problem???

Ever seen any Seinfeld episodes?

your supposed to use the Wizard to calculate your tips...,
not the Wilard.

Hey LeDuck, how's it goin? Don't see you very much since Learsy has been doing financial blogging -vs- his oil conspiracy pieces on HuffPo. Haven't seen KTM for months.
Take care,

I was banned from huffpo. I hated that site anyway.
Don't know what happened to KTM

That is too funny.
At HuffPo, If you comment on just news items it is a freakin free for all and apparently un-moderated. But ya, you have to tread lightly with the bloggers and the afternoon moderators are more lenient (or they get tired).

Americans are bad at Math

Part of the problem may be that they learn "Math" in English. Perhaps young children should be given an abacus and taught "Math" in Chinese. A second option might be Hungarian and a Rubik's cube ;-)

"There are those who suggest that mathematics is ‘culture free’ and that it does not matter who is ‘doing’ mathematics; the tasks remain the same. But these are people who do not understand the nature of culture and its profound impact on cognition." (Ladson-Billings, 1997, p. 700)

Linguistic variations in numeration systems impose distinct demands on children learning to count. Children who speak Chinese, Japanese, or Korean need to memorize the first nine number words, the words for powers of ten (ten, hundred, thousand), and the order in which words are said (from the largest value to the smallest) (Fuson & Kwon, 1991). English-speaking children must memorize, in addition, the number words from 11 through 19, and the decade names (twenty, thirty, etc.) through one hundred. Apparently as a consequence of the differences, Chinese children make many fewer errors in saying number words to 19 than do English-speaking children in the U.S. (Miller & Stigler, 1987), and Korean children demonstrate mastery of counting much earlier than do American children (Song & Ginsburg, 1987).

Linguistic aspects of numeration systems have an impact on children’s developing mathematics that extends beyond the rate at which they master the number sequence. By making apparent the values of each power of ten, and their strict correspondence between spoken and written numbers, Asian numeration systems facilitate children’s understanding of base structure, place value, and associated arithmetical computations (Fuson & Kwon, 1991, 1992; Miura, 1987; Miura et al., 1994). Asian children demonstrated understanding the base-10 structure of two- and three-digit written numbers earlier than American first graders and before being introduced to tens and ones in school. When asked to represent two-digit numbers using base-10 blocks, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean children were more likely than children in France, Sweden, and the U.S. to create canonical representations that employ ten-unit blocks (e.g., four tens and two units for 42); in contrast, the U.S. and European children were more likely to use only single-unit blocks (42 units) in their constructions (Miura et al., 1994). Similarly, when asked the value of "carry" marks placed above the tens column in written addition problems, Korean children in second and third grades were more likely than American children to correctly identify it as a value of ten, an indication of understanding place value (Fuson & Kwon, 1992).

Miura and Fuson suggest that differences in Asian and American children’s mathematics performance reflect distinct cognitive representations of number: "for speakers of Asian languages, numbers are organized as structures of tens and ones; place value seems to be an integral part of the cognitive representation" (Miura, 1987, p. 82). English-speaking children are slower to construct these "ten-structured conceptions of number" (Fuson et al., 1997), are more likely to have conceptions based on single units, and are less likely to understand the meaning of individual digits in written numbers.

Hmmm...how would my children do if I taught them all to count in Hexadecimal from the outset? Or something odd like base 7? Good thing I have a watchful significant other to maintain my children's blissful mediocrity.

Reminds me of The Programmyrs Tale

Two toes from each foote he'd removed
A sure sign of hys trade , withal
For the initiates of hys lore
Maun count in hexidecimal. (must)

Hey, when my son was five he would calculate the length of the diagonals of our kitchen tiles by means of the pythagorean theorem and the use a toy frog as a unit of measure. Trust me, you haven't done math till you've figured out the square root of C^2 in frogs ;-) And people couldn't figure out how he was able to take advanced algebra before he got to high school? Neither could I!

How about removing all the calculators and replace them with a slide rule? The fast track to understanding the fundamentals of number relationships and Math.

Yup, that and switching to metric ;-)

I disagree about the metric system helping people understand math.

It is true that it is simpler and easier to work with in actually making calculations but the little bit of extra intellectual muscle developed by doing the extra steps involved in changing inches to feet, etc, is sorely needed a little later on.

Anybody who can't learn fractions and unit conversions is never going to understand math in a meaningful way REGARDLESS.

And in actually measuring things by hand and with the human eye, the metric system stinks.The division marks are too far apart -a millimeter is to big for the smallest graduation but a tenth of a millimeter is virtually invisible.Plus the spaces having identical length marks are four together,making it easy to make a visual booboo.

Eighths , sixteenths, and thirty secondths (if your eyes are still good) are much better suited to the human eye.

And big brother make sure to screw the working man royally-everthing you must handle physically is a little bit bigger or maybe a lot bigger in the common commercial sizes.When hanging sheet rock for instance this makes the work physically far more difficult.

I have to disagree with you about disagreeing with metric.

It may not help them understand math any more than imperial units, but it sure helps you to understand the application on maths and physics to the real world. The fact that various units, like energy, force and power can be calculated from basic units of mass, dimensions etc make it much, much easier to model real world systems and understand what is happening. That is why most engineers and scientists prefer to work in metric. The fact that I can estimate the power in falling water from basic dimensions, without needing to remember correction factors (such as the number of ft-lbs per second in one horsepower= 550, or that one horsepower = 0.707 btu/second) means I can concentrate on the task at hand. Calculating the energy yield of an acre of corn converted to ethanol in imperial units involves more steps, and conversion units than doing the same in metric. As with the physical process itself, the less steps and conversions you have, the better off you are.

Imperial units grew out of convenient units of measure, such as one foot, and that is why they are convenient for a builder, or non builder. The metric system grew as a means of standardising measurements into a coherent system for use in physics and engineering, a task in which it excels. The pyramids could be built equally as easy in metric or imperial, but desigining and analysing a gas turbine or hydroelectric system is far easier in metric.

Absolutely agree about people who can't be bothered to learn fractions etc will not understand math in general, and they are handicapping their own ability in todays world. When the battery on your cellphone calculator is dead, you still need to be able to calculate the tip and split the bill!

Everything that Paul said plus the fact that I still believe that thinking in metric units facilitates the understanding of the fundamentals of number relationships and Math, even fractions
0.5, 0.25, 0.125, 0.0625... ;-)

Metric is certainly more appropriate for engineers and scientists, but I have to agree with mac that imperial is more in tune to human scale. Some measurements are even based on the human body (foot).

Same to me with centigrade versus fahrenheit--C is based on the freezing and boiling temperature of water. I don't know exactly what Fahrenheit was thinking when he devised his scale, but in my experience anything much above 100 degrees F is potentially threatening to human life and same with anything below 0 F, no matter how many clothes you put on (and I live somewhere where we experience both ends of the scale regularly most years).

When Fahrenheit devised his scale, he used 0 as the coldest temperature he could get with ice and salt, and he used 100 as his guess of human body temperature. The freezing point of 32 and boiling point of 212 just fell out from that.

So the high end, at least, was based on (a guess at) a human based scale. Thanks for the info.

I think you could best characterise this as follows:
Imperial units are a collection units that grew intuitively, such as the foot, or horsepower, over several thousand years, but there is no inherent linkage between units describing different quantities (distance, mass, energy, electricity etc)
Metric is a system, that was designed to integrate all these different quantities into a coherent system, that correlates to our base 10 numbering system.

The more technological you get, the more suitable metric is.

I should have made it clear that I am not opposed to the use of the metric system except in two day to day respects-one is that the unit scales are not well suited to the human eye and the other is that poor working jerks got royally screwed when the size of a piece of sheetrock for instance grew ten percent or so-that last ten percent ia a hell of a lot when a fourbyeight foot piece is already a backbreaking disc rupturing killer if you have to handle it day after day all day, as many guys in the trade must do.

Certainly engineering and scienctific work is more conveniently done in metric and you certainly can do a lot of things faster in metric if you must do the calculations by hand.

But there is no other system as the old English system as handy for teaching basic mathematical relationships, conversions, fractions, etc, because the teacher can use real world examples familiar to the young student-at least she can in countries that haven't gone metric with domestic measures of food, etc.

I can calculate easier in metric but due to growing up with the older system it is a lot easier for me to visualize my results by converting back to pounds, etc.

I have heard it said that if you learn a foreign language as an adult youy can not make yourself think in that langiage-you must constantly be translating.My old fogey mind slips back into the English system like a car getting into a deep rut on a snowpacked road-I must constantly be on gaurd to not mix the units-but otoh all thise engineers that lost a space probe a few years ago are probably a lot younger than I am .

Try spending your time on more worthy pursuits like trying to figure out a way of doing calculus using Roman Numerals.

I went to engineering school by first studying physics and chemistry in the metric system. When I started taking upper division engineering classes they were all in Imperial units ( I don't think what we use in the US is exactly Imperial. We have 32 oz quarts). I went to work in a company designing nuclear power systems, all in Imperial units until some bozo decided we needed to put DUAL units on all of our drawings. I've been moderately comfortable working on various technologies since (over 40 years)with whatever unit system fell to hand. You couldn't convince me that one system is better than another for engineering analysis or design. An Indian friend some years ago, during one of our transitions from Imperial to metric thought the whole thing was some form of ancestor worship (Pascals, Watts, Faradays, Gilberts, Newtons, etc).

The Apollo program went to the moon and back without the metric system. I'd say that worked pretty well.

I would like to see a controlled study with Hindi, which has a very wild number system--you basically have to memorize every number from one to 100.

I don't know where you got that from. you only have to memorize till 20 after that hindi actually has definite set of rules for rest of numbers based on difference from last multiple of ten for instance:
21 is ekk-ise
22 is bai-ise
23 is tae-ise
and after 30 becomes:
ika-ttise, Bat-tise, tae-tise etc.

There are some exception to those general rules but even those exceptions also vary from region to region.

One thing that might be confusing westerners is the concept of phonetic merging (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandhi) where the post & pre sounds of back-to-back words are merged to produce a new word. this can create seemingly different words for casual listeners.

Also, In case you are wondering, The Desi in my ID means indian in hindi. I am an Indian living in SF bay area for last decade.

Thanks for the corrections. I should know better than to write things down from very old memories on an international forum full of clever and informed folks.

To a western eye, the sandhi factor does make many forms look irregular (from my source "Patterns of Lanugage" R. Burling p. 53):

23 te-is, 33 te-tis, 43 tet-alis, 53 tre-pan, 63 tre-sath, 73 ti-hattar, 83 tir-asi, 93 tir-anve

So the -3's have roots in te-, tet-, tre-, ti, and tir- with no obvious pattern that I can see. Perhaps this data is from one of those more peculiar dialects you were talking about.

Again, my larger point was that Hindi has a numerical system at least as complex as English, so the idea that "Asians" have simple systems and that this somehow accounts for their greater abilities with numbers is simplistic at best. Indians certainly have distinguished themselves mathematically both in terms of individual genius and in terms of the general (educated) population.

I have made the exact opposite experience. I have heard a couple of Chinese native speakers mixing up numbers, e.g. saying 34 thousand instead of 340 thousand. One Chinese even told me that Chinese is good for writing poems, not discussing science.

Generally, I think the talk of the Chinese language being better for this or that is BS. The reason that so many Chinese are better in science and engineering is a) they work harder and practice more, and b) we here in the West see a selected sample: only the most gifted and driven emigrate.

I have heard a couple of Chinese native speakers mixing up numbers, e.g. saying 34 thousand instead of 340 thousand.

That's essentially caused by differences in how the Chinese language handles large numbers and how Western languages handle large numbers.

In our languages, we count in thousands, millions, billions, etc. Each one a factor of 1000 more then the previous.

In the Chinese language, they do have a character for thousand (千), but they have a different word for 10000 (万). The next larger word is for 10^8 (亿). And after that is 10^12 (兆).

Because of these differences in the way that the languages handle numbers like this, it is very easy to make mistakes.

Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, and American auto sales up. The Russian economy was showing some signs of life as the Russians stated a goal of paying off their foreign debts within three years.

It may take $4.00 a gallon gas to bring some voluntary conservation measures amongst middle and poorer classes.

Brazil oil production increasing. Brazil oil consumption increasing.

The coldest weather in decades in North America, Europe, and China decreased hydrocarbon inventory surpluses.

Florida bell pepper prices went from $8.00 to $18.00 a box.

20,000 years of global warming since the last Pleistocene glacial maximum. Can't stop the heat. This long term warming cannot be traced to coal mined at Newcastle, England. Oversimplified climate models created insufficient government responses. Rapid population growth and household water consumption growth magnified the effects of periodic droughts.

Frederick, MD stopped issuing building permits during a drought when its city water system was insufficient for demand and water was transported by tanker truck to the community. Later the city built a more efficient water delivery system and started growing again.

"The coldest weather in decades in North America, Europe, and China"

And record high temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic.

Please quit cherry picking data and presenting it as proof of your ideology on this forum.

dohboi -- From my experience everyone cherry picks their data to some degree. Even when they are correct in their assertions. In reviewing drilling projects I actually look forward to folks cherry picking to support their idea. It shows me where they think their case is the weakest. And yes, I've used the reverse approach when selling an idea: low ball the good and highlight the bad (to a degree, of course). And yes, on occassion I've had folks sit across the table from me and offer that my idea had more merit then I was allowing. A risky approach but if you know the other player well enough it can be used.

As long as the cherries are sweet enough?

Pickens latest commercial.



Some report danger of a mini-ice age and reported increasing ice in the polar regions since 2007:

Very little change in the extent of sea ice over the past 30 years

That commentary about sea-ice points to global sea-ice area, claiming that in 2007, the area hit a 30 year maximum. The problem with this is that the Antarctic has experienced a slight cooling trend and sea-ice increased a bit in 2007, most likely the result of ozone depletion. In the Arctic, the trend is obviously downward, although the 2007 minimum has not been repeated.

That commentary also references work by Tsonis et al., who seem to think that their analysis is predictive, when it only compares indices which have no predictive value. Without a physical explanation, there's no way to extend the trends in their analysis, IMHO.

E. Swanson

And of course it is ice volume that is crucial, and that is down pretty much everywhere, north and south, except for a very few glaciers that are in the right position to received increased snow fall.

Anyone who has been following this at all would no that the '07 Arctic melt is an outlier, just as '98 was an outlier for global temps. In my experience, using either as a base line is either deeply ignorant of the data, or is intentionally (trollishly) trying to obscure the real trends by cherry picking.

But antarctic sea ice has only increased a little, and arctic ice down a lot, so the total area ought to be strongly dropping.
If we really are getting cold on land, and warm above water, that means we are storing a lot more heat in the water than usual. Of course that would also make the nearterm average go down.

In any case there is a huge amount of energy in the weather system recently. The San Fran weather lady said she'd never had a forcast like this one to make:
Storm number one 2 inches, storm two 4, storm three 6, and by the end of storm four we could have 20 inches in less than a week! And they say Sacramento with its inadaquate levies is the next New Orleans. Yikess!

The arctic sea ice extent is only down modestly. However, the ice has dramatically thinned. Multiyear ice has all but disappeared from most of the arctic.
It is estimated that the volume of ice is down by 40% in the last 4 decades. At that rate of thinning we should expect a sudden and dramatic collapse of summer sea ice one year in the very near future. 2007 was a precursor, but an outlier. It really depends on the summer season having a weather pattern to break up the disperse most of the ice in one melt season.

Arctic sea ice is as non-linear as most weather systems.

Even if this works it will come too late it seems.


porge, a good watch about how fusion works. Also some graphs with the number of years FF will last ( with 3 estimations of reserves).

'Everyone' has his/her own hopes. There are even geologists who say that gashydrates will be the future of energy supply.

It's the end of the State as we know it..., the end of the state as we know it..., and I feel fine.

The Governor of my state, California, wants to eliminate the GAS SALES TAX and boost the Excise Tax annually for ten years to help balance our state budget. The net effect of this change will save Californians about five cents a gallon at the pump. The average price for a gallon of gas in California right now is about $3.00 a gallon. Unfortunately, this will also cut the amount of money going to buses and light rail by 1 billion dollars.



Don’t worry though, our roads and bridges are being repaired by President Obama.

And to think, I used to be indifferent to Gov. Schwarzenegger. Who needs light rail? California is the land of Hummers and SUVs, and Gov. Schwarzenegger has a few Hummers of his own.

There's an article in the Bee today:

Schwarzenegger plan for gasoline taxes slammed as 'bait and switch'

Administration officials say the switch would help California close a $19.9 billion budget gap by nullifying laws that reserve most of the gas-pump sales tax for transit agencies.

That would free up anywhere from a few hundred million dollars to more than a billion dollars for the state general fund. The total amount is disputed by the administration and transit officials.

Well, given that it is impossible to raise revenues, but OK to shift the source, this sort of thing is to be expected. Move revenue from a source whose flows are earmarked to one that doesn't. Just a stealth way to cut/capture the earmarked funding. In most cases (not this one), I think it is a good idea, one of Califonias problems is the tons of propositions that earmark spending. Anyway to nuke those albatrosses would be a good plan in my book.

More and more states on budget brink

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- California is hurtling into the budgetary abyss -- and it's not alone.

Across the nation, state tax collections in the first three quarters of 2009 posted their steepest decline in at least 46 years, according to a report this month from the public policy research arm of the State University of New York.

Down Under, we had a massive political blue a couple of years ago over a couple of cents/Litre. The difference to the motorist was non-existent and either 'solution' was lost in the day-to-day and week-to-week pricing variability, but they all acted like it was the most important thing in the world. So did many of the writers of the Letters to The Editor, for that matter...

Comedy with a message.
Why is it that the most honest media personalities are always comedians?


I don't know if this is suitable for Drumbeat but here goes:

If one had to organise "emergency supply kits" to keep in the house what would you put in it?
Say you could make up a $50 box or a $200 box to keep under you floor boards for a rainy day when society has temporary breakdowns and you can't even get razor blades or meds or some non perishable foods - what would you keep? I suppose it's all a question of how long you need stuff for and how comrehensive you want the list to be.

I'll bet there are websites dedicated to this kind of thing - maybe someone here knows a good one they can recommend?
It's kind of embarressing to ask as it usually puts you in the 'nut job survivalist' pigeon hole!!

Any thoughts?


Google bug-out bag.

And I think $200 is probably too low. A good water filter will cost more than that.

Report from MSNBC:

"Money is worth nothing right now, water is the currency," one foreign aid-worker told Reuters.

That is only true when you can "trade" water, trade meaning beg, buy, borrow or steal it from someone else. Otherwise, you turn the water into other products, be it food, oil, lumber, hydropower, etc and trade them, which is much easier. It takes (roughly) 500 tons of water to grow a ton of corn, and one ton of water for hydropower (at 100m head) has the energy equivalent of 100 grams of coal, or 200 grams of firewood, so you can see why it is (generally) easier to trade the products.

Water is important, but the situations where you can physically trade useful volumes of water (other than for drinking), back AND forth, between one place or country and another are relatively rare.

That said, many places where foreign aid workers are working are "short" of water, so this comment is not surprising. But this more often a reflection of the local population growing to the point where they have exceeded their local water supply. These places have reached their "peak water", but do not want to accept/impose a corresponding "peak population". If they don't have the ability to do an LA style annexation of other water supplies, and most don't, then the usual consequences ensue, despite the best efforts of the aid workers.

While "water markets" do exist in some regions (e.g. California) we won't be seeing international water futures being traded anytime soon.

Look at the context. The quote is from Haiti, and the topic is emergency supplies.

Sorry Leanan, that is quite a different situation.
I had exactly this discussion last week, with a water professional (I am one) who should have know better, about water being the "oil of the 21st century"

I did say that you can trade drinking water, and that is clearly what is happening there. What I hope is happening, is that part of the aid effort, is to distribute the personal water purifiers, the camping style, that can remove almost everything from the water except salt. Much easier to send those than to send water itself.

Of all the countries in the world to get hit, this would be one of the least able to help themselves..

As I recall, the average person needs to drink about 2 quarts of water a day. That weighs about 4 pounds. There are about 3 million people in Port Au Prince, so that translates into the need for 12 million pounds of water a day, or some 6,000 tons a day, every day. And, there are more people in the surrounding areas as well. With the water system and electric power DOA, where's the fresh water going to come from? Maybe surface water and rain, but that might be polluted. The port is said to be out of action and aircraft aren't likely to bring it in. Even if it were possible to bring that amount of water into the area, how can it be distributed to those in need? I think we are witnessing a big dieoff in progress...

E. Swanson

It's the dry season, and temps are in the 90s.

But they have set up medical tents, and people seem to be calm so far. The buildings that have collapsed have been looted for food, but undamaged stores have been left alone.

The Péligre Dam brings clean water (via its supplied electricity) to a small number of Haitians. Currently, the dam is not supplying power. I don't know the structural status of the dam.

Most Haitian drink dirty water already and there was little or no sanitation previously. It is unclear to me how severely this will affect the healthy survivors but the hospitals do not have power.

A lot of people have apparently left the city, on foot. Rural areas have not sustained much damage.

The military has the equipment to purify the polluted fresh water. Canada's team is already en route, as I presume some US units are, if not there already. These folks are trained and equipped for doing things without normal ports or airfields.

Doesn't mean people wont' die, and there won't be other problems, but they should be able to get enough water for people to drink. Now, getting damaged sewer systems back into operation will be much harder...

Uss Carl Vinson CVA-70:
It can accommodate 6,250 crewmembers, with a ships crew of 3200 the Air wing is disembarked and will be replaced with Heliocopters.
Her four distilling units can make 400,000 U.S. gallons (1,500 m³) of potable water a day; her food service divisions serve 18,000 meals per day. There are over 2,500 compartments on board requiring 2,520 tons (2.1 MW) of air conditioning capacity (enough to cool over 2,000 homes. all with out F fuels. It also has ship to shore electrical generating capacity, probably not available due to the shallow port accomadations. The crew will no doubt be on water rations and hours.

Marco - take a look at either survivalistboards.com or survivalblog.com and search for what a previous response mentioned - bug out bag. These are often abbreviated as either BOB or GOOD(get out of dodge) bag. You can also get a quick list here: http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/assemble_disaster_supplies_kit.shtm

The quick answer to your question is to first ask how long you want these kits to last. Once you've done that, then you ask yourself what you'd need to get by for that length of time. How much food, water, medical supplies, etc do you need?

Hi Marco;
I think it's a good question.

After 911, when my wife was witnessing the whole thing from a Midtown office tower, I worked up a 'Bugout Bag' for people at work, as my way of chewing over what you might have with you in an office building fire to (Possibly!!) help get you through it, and to preserve a few critical items that there wouldn't be any time to assemble in haste.

I call my creation the 'Hey! Bag' , marked with a yellow Panel and a big, black ( ! ) exclamation mark on it.

I try to keep water, shake-to-charge flashlight, a little cash, some handy tools, a snack bar, handkerchief or simple dust mask, pen and paper, tape, WHISTLE, Mylar Space Blanket, Cigarette Lighter, Matches or Flint and Steel, Candle, Toothbrush, Razor and Floss, Bandaids, Antiseptic, Gauze, Superglue (can be a surgical lifesaver.. also just handy!).

It's not a bad idea to have a somewhat recent CD with your critical documents backed up on it, maybe phone numbers, account numbers like credit card, etc.. this could be a thumb USB drive instead. If you have kids, you might want something like a bit of distraction or entertainment.. a small book, crayons, jacks or marbles.. you might even put in a bit of something like a poem that YOU will get some encouragement or grounding from in a time of severe stress. A picture of mom, a pet rock.

I try to go through it at the equinoxes, just to change out the food and water, and give a moment's thought to what is missing, or what is not needed in there.

It's a good place to have a few wacky nickknacks that would be downright IMPOSSIBLE to grab as well. Paperclips, Safety Pins, a Good little bit of string or light rope, Fork and Spoon, A handful of paper napkins, a flat-folded wad of Duct Tape (there, I said it!)

Anyway, that might spur some additions of your own. Please jot them down here, if you get the chance!

An ounce of Prevention - ( and with WAY less than $200, it can still help a lot!)

Bob Fiske

Oh, one of those 'Blinky LED' bike lights can be good to make you visible in smoke, in the dark, on the street, etc.

So many possibilities..

Of course, there might be times when you don't want to be visible, so buy one you can easily and quickly turn off. ;)

I didn't mean you couldn't do anything with $200 or less. Just that $200 is kind of an awkward cutoff point. I would call it "low-budget" vs. "no budget," maybe, rather than putting a specific number on it.

I do have a "bug-out bag." Not in case of zombie hordes, but in case of ordinary disasters like floods, fire, hurricanes, etc. I am assembling it gradually, and upgrading it as funds and opportunity allow.

Water filter and/or water purification tablets
Camelbak or 2-liter soda bottles
Reusable water bottle
SPF 50 foldable hat
First aid kit
Folding shovel
Combination cup/pot
Mylar blankets
Parachute cord
Sewing kit
Fishing kit
Magnesium firestarter
Freeplay radio (some models can recharge cellphones and the like)
LED crank flashlight (much better than the shake ones, IME)
Emergency food bars, of the sort made for boats

I also have a note reminding me of things to add before leaving - passport and birth certificate, stuff for the cat if she's evacuating with me, clothing appropriate for the season, etc.

You can also buy a pre-assembled kit.

Good list.

Apologies, I didn't mean to sound snyde, guess I read it too fast.. but there are so many preps we CAN make with things we already own, but which would be of no use scattered throughout the jumble drawers. That's all I was saying.

The Radio is a good one.. and the sewing kit.

I also have a few of those 3"x12" 12volt dashboard Solar panels, and one of those with a simple voltage controller could help charge batteries of all sorts.. might not be a bad addition.

Solar chargers are on my wish list, but I haven't bought any yet. They are relatively expensive, and the user ratings are pretty poor. That combination of high price and poor quality is unappealing. I'm hoping technology will evolve to make them cheaper and more effective.

" and become a strange attractor for exotic belief systems that fuse the modern myth of infinite progress with archaic religious visions of immanent evil and apocalyptic renewal."

Seems like a good explanation to me. I mean there are millions of Yanks believing in UFO:s and there are millions of Yanks that are fundamentalist xtian believers.

This Yankie belief in infinite progress is fundamentaly religious.
"God will provide" or "technology will solve it"

Doomsday Deferred: End-of-World Clock Set Back 1 Minute

"We moved it back by just one minute, and what that means is there's great potential for it to move in either direction," Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist on the BAS Board of Sponsors, said at the news conference. Krauss added that for both nuclear weapons and climate change threats there has been "a sea change in attitude, an opening up of possibilities, but not yet a lot of action."

Maybe when the price of gas goes up to $5.00 a gallon in California, then they can move the doomsday clock back another minute.

'Great potential to move in EITHER direction..'

Yeah, hearing this one just gave me a shiver. I think I'll check that 'Hey! Bag' tonight.

CFTC Proposes Position Limits on Energy Speculation (Update2)


“I’m somewhere between skeptical and unconvinced about whether these proposals will have any impact,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “Trying to control speculation is similar to trying to hold back the tide. Usually, money will go where it wants to go.”

Michael Lynch weighing in on speculation in oil futures.

John Michael Greer: The Costs of Community

What he did not mention was the weird, strange high you can get if you are in a committed, focused, suitably purposeful group. I have been involved in groups like that over the years and I can tell you that its very, very, very hard to get off the ground.

Once done it seems to perpetuate itself.

I would agree with you wholeheartedly there. I think it is because you can get a feeling of achievement, that is hard to get on your own, a bit like a sports team, except that it doesn't rely on defeating an opposition.

I would suggest that we now have people turning to the internet for much of their "community" experience, this forum being an example. You could also use things like Second Life as an example, though a very unproductive one. The online communities congregate on the basis purely of ideas and concepts, where as previously there was some sort of distance limitation.

IF transport becomes really expensive, as we expect, it will push a return to localised communities, which I think is a great thing. It may also push some people to focus their energy purely on "online" communities, which may or may not be a good thing. Once upon a time, we played Bridge with neighbours to while away the winter, today, it's online poker -consumes as much time and as little transport energy as Bridge, but not nearly as friendly. Discussion groups like this are intellectually very productive, but you could still be a hermit and not know or care who your neighbours are.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming years.

I would suggest that we now have people turning to the internet for much of their "community" experience, this forum being an example.

I agree. And like you, I don't think it's necessarily a good thing.

I can't remember if Putnam did this research or just reported on it, but according to him, interacting online is not the same as interacting in person. It doesn't have the beneficial effects of meeting people face-to-face.

I also think the internet can work against community, in the sense that you don't have to make the sacrifices that real community requires. Rather than having to get along with people who may have differing viewpoints, you can connect with people who share your views...no matter how few they are, and how far away.

Yup - I have hanged out with libs and cons, hetro and non, women/men, Monotheistic and Yogaric. Nothing works better in depolarizing differences then f2f contact and communication.

Nice point Red. I've found that when blood is involved it breaks boundaries even quicker. Red truly is a universal bond.

That weird, strange high can get very spooky very quickly. In my time I have seen several "committed, focused, purposeful" groups turn into cults.

And that's part of the problem, isn't it. Everything has gotten so edgy...

Oh ya! They either turn into cults or they dissipate into the main reality.

This is kinda like the Struss and Howe Fourth Turning

I like John Michael Greer too, but, is it just me...? or does this guy also remind you of the Unabomber???

It's absolutley just you.

JMG is a very thoughtful, very public guy. He is an apt student of history. He is engaging any and all that want to think through a certain kind of stuff.

Actually, he has nothing in common with the Unabomber. The Unabomber was a disaffected loner, a sociopath. JMG is a jolly good fellow, with a life.

What is your point?

Heh. That's a good one.

Granted. These days, though, it tends to be an acquired taste, and as Sgage points out a little further down, it also has its pathologies.

Niches that speak common languages are popular and easy to access. In a way the internet has demystified a lot of community-niche behavior. So involving yourself can be done with less intellectual stress.

Civic communion is rare.

language - defined as subject matter, mode of dress, type of expected behavior, ect...

big stink in philly, south jersey from refinery "cleaning":

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says cold, stagnant air; temperature inversions, which limit air movement; and the use of wood burning stoves and boilers are expected to boost the concentrations of pollution Thursday, with the highest levels overnight and early in the morning.

As of Sunday, 598 major power plants' coal reserves were down to nine days supply. Coal storages in 205 power plants were down to seven days, according to the National Power Dispatch and Communication Center.

now, not to make a point but....titan, a moon of saturn is covered in hydrocarbons. cry-key!
IT HAS LAKES OF METHANE!!!! i say we build a fleet of space ships and go get it. we already raped this planet, now is the time to rape another ala pandora in avatar. life imitates art.

"it's all good"

A reminder of where we are going:

Item from HuffPo 12.4.2009: Aetna has announced an increase in premiums for health insurance, and anticipates about 600,000 to 650,000 people will have to drop their insurance as a result. Felt it was necessary because last year's profit did notachieve the results and margins they have come to expect.

And they wonder why we think the system is broken.