Drumbeat: March 27, 2010

Analysis: U.S. to Reap Fruits of Deepwater Labor

The Gulf of Mexico is expected to increase oil production over the next several years, largely due to ultra-deepwater field development. The MMS believes oil production could reach 1.8 MMb/d up from 1.3 MMb/d in 2008, but gas production is expected to decline over the next four years.

"The Gulf of Mexico is one of the single largest suppliers of oil and gas to the US market," explained MMS GOM Regional Director, Lars Herbst. "With continued interest and activity in deepwater areas of the Gulf of Mexico, we anticipate that oil production will continue to be strong with a large portion of production coming from projects in deeper water depths."

In the last 10 years, significant discoveries have been made in the ultra-deep waters of the GOM. In 2009 operators announced 14 deepwater discoveries, 11 of which are in 3,000 ft of water or more. In the timeline below, we lay out some of the key deepwater discoveries addressed later in this report.

The Inside Story of the Horse-Drawn Hummer

In Jeremy's post-apocalyptic America, the wealthy will still crave ownership of all things desirable and scarce, but they'll be unable to drive traditional cars because Wall Street's greed will have caused a collapse permanently destroying our economy and ability to buy oil from the Middle East. So what do you do if you still want to lord it over the little people with the ultimate symbol of consumerism gone wrong? You commission your mechanic to convert your Hummer to horse power.

Sitting on oil fields, Iraq still short of fuel

BAGHDAD: Anywhere else, it may seem a colourful exaggeration, but not in Iraq.

Baghdadis take pride in saying you can stick a straw in their city’s soil and spout an oil well. The reason: Iraq is home to seven of world’s 18 ‘super giant oil fields’ — a term for fields that hold 15 billion barrels of oil or more.

Yet in a comedy of sorts, two of Iraq’s most powerful ministries have been bickering since long on what is more crucial to import — diesel or petrol.

Colorado power plant bill clears another hurdle

A Colorado bill requiring Xcel Energy to reduce emissions at its Front Range coal-fired power plants has passed another vote at the state Capitol.

The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources voted 5-2 to back the bill on Thursday, sending it to the appropriations committee for another vote.

BP closing Maryland solar manufacturing plant

BP will close its solar-panel manufacturing plant in Frederick, the final step in moving its solar business out of the United States to facilities in China, India and other countries.

Why are we propping up corn production, again?

And to grow all that corn on that gorgeous land, farmers douse the soil annually with massive amounts of agrichemicals. In terms of synthetic and mined fertilizers, the corn crop sucks in nearly 40 percent of all nitrogen fertilizer applied in the United States, and upwards of 30 percent of phosphorous and potash. (Numbers crunched from USDA data, see table 2). Such voracious use of fertilizers causes all manner of ecological trouble (see our recent series on nitrogen fertilizer, as well as this discussion of the ravages of phosphorous mining).

The Polarizing North Pole

Arctic sovereignty arguably encompasses larger implications for Canadian and American projections of their interests. In terms of claiming territory where there is a high probability of finding natural gas and oil, the Beaufort Sea falls within the two countries’ EEZs. According to the USGS, the Beaufort Sea area alone is estimated to contain approximately 8.22 billion barrels of oil and 27.64 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. For the United States to continue to satisfy its domestic requirements, it becomes imperative to guarantee the most territory possible by having its maritime border run perpendicular to the coast. As for Canada, splitting the Beaufort Sea along the 141st meridian would provide it with a major economic advantage by allowing it to maintain its energy exporting status. This would be especially important since the United States plans to cut back on oil imports produced from Canada’s oil sands in the wake of Canada’s new environmental policies. By securing more oil and natural gas from the Beaufort Sea, new American refineries would replace exports that will not be available from Alberta’s oil sands.

A personal one-child policy?

Even commentators who warn of the evils of overpopulation … only rarely emphasise the notion that we – rather than those in the developing world – might consider doing less of the populating.

Climate author focuses on ‘survival’

Catastrophic climate change is already starting to unravel life as we know it, said Bill McKibben, one of the nation’s leading and provocative environmental thinkers.

“We’re going to have to figure out how to stop focusing our economies on growth and start thinking about survival,” said McKibben, who helped raise awareness about global warming 21 years ago with his book “The End of Nature.”

Earth Out of Sync – Rising Temperatures Throwing off Seasonal Timing

The timing of seasonal biological events, otherwise known as phenology, has been tracked in some places for centuries. Japan’s much-feted cherry tree blossoming has been carefully recorded since before 1400. The trees showed no clear trend in timing until the early 20th century, when they began to bloom earlier, with a marked advancement since around 1950.

The Dawn of a New Epoch?

(PhysOrg.com) -- Geologists from the University of Leicester are among four scientists- including a Nobel prize-winner - who suggest that the Earth has entered a new age of geological time.

The Age of Aquarius? Not quite - It’s the Anthropocene Epoch, say the scientists writing in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. (web issue March 29; print issue April 1)

Scientists Call for 'Climate Intervention' Research With 'Humility'

PACIFIC GROVE, CALIFORNIA—An international group of scientists, ethicists, and governance experts meeting here this week has agreed that research into large-scale modification of the planet is "indispensable" given the "threats" posed by climate change.

"It is thus important to initiate further research in the natural and social sciences to better understand and communicate whether alternative strategies to moderate future climate change are, or are not, viable, appropriate, and ethical," declares a statement by the organizing committee released today at the close of the conference. "Further discussions [on geoengineering] must involve government and civil society."

Dark Optimism

DARK OPTIMISM How do we handle Peak Oil AND climate change? Shaun Chamberlin from UK Transition Towns, energy writer Kurt Cobb, plus Richard Heinberg on renewable hope, with Lester Brown.

You know we are going to run out of civilization's life-blood: fossil fuels. And if we burn what's left, the climate will tip into a mass extinction event. Meanwhile, barking madness seems to be the only growth industry. Is it time for more pills, booze, or end-time religion?

"Soul of a Citizen": Barack Obama, Vaclav Havel and When Small Steps Yield Unforeseen Fruits

I once went for a run in Fort Worth, Texas, in a grassy park along a riverbank. Coming upon a man shaking a tree, I hesitated, then stopped and asked, "What are you doing?"

"It's a pecan tree," he said. "If I shake it enough, the nuts will come down. I can't know exactly when they'll fall or how many. But the more I shake it, the more I'll get."

This seems an apt metaphor for social involvement. Often our efforts may yield few clear or immediate results. Our victories will almost always be partial, as the health care bill exemplifies. But we need to draw enough strength from our initial steps to help us persevere. "You have to begin with small groups," said Modjesca Simkins, a veteran South Carolina civil rights activist told me when she was eighty four. "But you reach the people who matter. They reach others. Like the Bible says, leaven in the lump, like yeast in the dough. It rises somewhere else. "

Pemex Ready to Link Contractor Incentives to Output

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, is ready to offer performance- based contracts to reward foreign contractors that produce the most at its fields as it seeks to stem declining output.

The company may offer contracts linking incentives to oil volumes produced and prices, board member Fluvio Ruiz said today in an interview in Mexico City. Pemex’s board may approve final drafts for the contracts within “a couple months,” Ruiz said.

Mexico is seeking to stem a decline in output and increase discoveries at fields including its $11.1 billion Chicontepec project, where contractors are paid per well and current output is less than a third of its target of 100,000 barrels a day.

Oil Declines on Lower-Than-Forecast GDP Gain, Demand Skepticism

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell for a third day after a government report that the U.S. economy strengthened less than forecast, raising concern that growth in fuel demand may slow.

Oil dropped 0.7 percent as the Commerce Department said fourth-quarter gross domestic product expanded at a 5.6 percent annual rate, less than analysts estimated in a Bloomberg News survey. Gasoline demand is 0.1 percent lower than a year ago, according to the Energy Department.

“There’s growing skepticism as to the strength and sustainability of the economy,” said Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president of energy at MF Global in New York.

Natural Gas Futures Fall to Six-Month Low as Rig Count Advances

(Bloomberg) -- Natural gas fell to a six-month low in New York on surplus fuel inventories, a rising rig count and mild weather that is expected to cut demand.

The U.S. added two natural gas rigs, bringing the count to 941, up 16 percent from a year earlier, Baker Hughes Inc. said today on its Web site. The increase in gas rigs was the 13th in a row. During that time, 190 rigs have been added.

What Can We Learn from an Oil Legend's Portfolio?

T. Boone Pickens is the quintessential Texas oilman: outspoken, complex and savvy. He began his career as a "wildcatter," drilling in areas not known to contain oil, and eventually formed Mesa Petroleum in 1956, which would grow to be one of the largest independent oil producers in the world before being acquired by a private equity group and renamed Pioneer Natural Resources. During the course of his career, Pickens initiated headline-grabbing takeovers and amassed a fortune of about $3 billion.

And whether it's his decidedly conservative political views, his calls for increased production of wind energy and the promotion of natural gas as an alternative to fossil fuels through the "Pickens Plan," or his belief in "peak oil," which claims that world oil production will soon cross the point of no return and begin declining, Pickens is not without his detractors. But one thing is for certain: The man knows oil. At 81, Pickens may have retired from the day-to-day operations of oil exploration, but when he speaks about energy, people listen.

Venezuela ‘Super Well’ Shows More Gas, Chavez Says

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the South American nation discovered a “super well” that shows an offshore field holds almost twice as much natural gas as originally estimated.

The field may hold as much as 14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, more than the previously reported 8 trillion cubic feet, Chavez said today on state television, without identifying the gas deposit.

Remember Y2K?

Then January 1, 2000, arrived. Nothing of consequence happened. "A few reactors in Japan temporarily lost the ability to monitor their safety equipment; some Australian bus-ticket machines failed to operate; in Delaware, 150 racetrack slot machines stopped working" (Globe & Mail, Jan. 2/10). The world carried on as before, people dismissively shrugged their shoulders and called Y2K a false alarm. But the truth is a cautionary tale worth remembering.

Unbeknownst to most people, the warnings did set in motion a frenzy of corrective activity. Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent around the world to re write old programs or to purchase new equipment. Information technology was energized and experienced a boom in profits. Businesses and governments that bought new computers found that the gain in efficiency quickly paid for their investment. Soaring profits for manufacturers resulted in more research and better products, advancing the technology and the economy as a whole. Not only was a very real disaster averted but the solution brought innumerable benefits.

The environmental warnings we are receiving these days are a mirror of the Y2K event. And in almost every case, the call is for prevention, for taking early action before the problems escalate into crises that cause irreparable ecological damage and incur outrageously expensive costs in dollars, social disruption and human suffering -- if, indeed, the problems can even be solved should we wait too long before attending to them.

Doom and gloom or dimness and despondency?

“The world is coming to a catastrophic end!”

How does that statement make you feel?!

Let’s try “Certain elements of our society are likely to be placed under major stress and perhaps stop functioning optimally.” Feel different about that prediction? Two totally different sentences that could have the same meaning, but certainly do not produce the same emotional response within one. Language is our primary communication method and how we use it determines how well our message gets across.

Will We Ever Know How Much Oil Is Left?

For as long as my father can remember, he claims people have been crying and screaming about peak oil production. He doesn’t seem to believe oil is anything but an infinite resource. I disagree. Unfortunately, neither I nor he nor anyone else on this planet seems to actually know how much oil is truly left in the ground. If we did know, we’d probably have more stable gas prices.

But do we really want to spend what could be limited time trying to figure it out? Or should we just assume we’re on the fast track to emptying our oil reserves?

How China's Stealing Iraq Oil

There are some pretty obvious truths in the energy world today.

The first is that G7 countries have topped out in their oil needs and are switching to alternative energy sources.

The second truth is that most oil demand growth will come from emerging markets such as India, Brazil, and China. They are building roads and car companies, along with their GDP.

The wild card in this scenario is supply.

All over the world, easy-to-acquire oil located in sand domes such as the famous Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia has been running out.

U.S. EPA Proposes to Veto Arch Coal’s Permit for Mine

(Bloomberg) -- The Environmental Protection Agency proposed to veto Arch Coal Inc.’s permit to fill streams and valleys with debris from a mountaintop mine in West Virginia.

Arch Coal, the second-largest U.S. coal company by output, may lose the right to mine the Spruce No. 1 site in Logan County if the proposal is adopted. The mountaintop-removal mining operations, originally permitted in 2007, would bury more than seven miles of streams and threaten 2,278 acres of forests, the EPA said today in a statement.

Of Water, Electricity and the Time of Day

A California study suggests that if people are trained to use less water in the late afternoons, electricity savings result -- and overall water usage falls.

Insulation nation: Cutting the cost of cosy

COSY isn't it?" says Amanda James. We are in the kitchen of a modest terraced house in Sheffield, in the north of England, and James is part of a city council team overseeing the regeneration of this down-at-heel neighbourhood. Apart from looking a little smarter than the other houses on the street, there is not much to distinguish it from its neighbours. The difference will only start to show when the heating bills come in: though gas and electricity prices have soared, this is one property that will still be cheap to keep warm.

The achievement is particularly striking as this is the kind of house that used to be considered beyond help. There are millions like it up and down the UK, many dating from the late 19th century. The walls are solid, just one brick thick, so there is no cavity to fill with heat-insulating foam. The roof space is part of the living area, so there is no simple loft insulation to be done. Even so, by the time the builders had finished insulating the walls and roof, and cutting out draughts, this humble abode had been transformed into an A-rated energy-efficient success story, dubbed the Eco-terrace.

Report: 'Smart' meters have security holes

(AP) -- Computer-security researchers say new "smart" meters that are designed to help deliver electricity more efficiently also have flaws that could let hackers tamper with the power grid in previously impossible ways.

At the very least, the vulnerabilities open the door for attackers to jack up strangers' power bills. These flaws also could get hackers a key step closer to exploiting one of the most dangerous capabilities of the new technology, which is the ability to remotely turn someone else's power on and off.

High School Gardening — for Credit

Starting this week at Princeton Public High School, students can take gym class in the garden.

“I think it’s strangely enjoyable,” said Tim Vasseur, a Princeton sophomore, shovel in hand. “It’s definitely not easy to do or anything like that.”

Advocates for greener schools believe this is the first time public school students will receive physical education credit for garden work. The idea was conceived by Matt Wilkinson, a physical education teacher and a former wrestling coach who also has a background in horticulture.

Landmarks go dark, millions unplug for Earth Hour

The white-shelled roof of the Sydney Opera House fell dark today, one of the first landmarks to turn out the lights in an hour-long gesture to be repeated by millions of people around the world who are calling for a binding pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Taxing CO2 Emissions at Europe’s Borders

Is the time approaching when the European Union will impose greenhouse gas controls on products and services imported from parts of the world that lack such regulations?

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France seems to hope so.

Can Animation Help Stop Climate Change?

British filmmaker Simon Robson has assembled a crack international team of animators to make a collaborative, web-based film that advocates for collective online action as a way to solve the climate crisis.

In Canada, TV Goes Deep on Climate

A rare thing: five hours of television on climate modeling, science, politics, media coverage and more.

California Climate Law Would Add Jobs, Study Suggests

California’s climate change law won’t decimate the state’s economy and will help increase job growth modestly over the next 10 years, according to a state air control group study released this week.

The California Air Resources Board, tasked with monitoring state air pollution levels, projects the law will add 10,000 new jobs to the state by 2020.

Secretary of the Navy to Headline Climate, Energy Conference

As each year passes, signs of global climate change become increasingly evident – average temperature is rising; the polar ice caps are melting as are glaciers in the Arctic, Andes, and Himalayas; permafrost is thawing; sea levels are rising. The potential human implications of these changes are substantial – increased frequency and intensity of severe weather, disruptions in food and water supplies, and forced population migrations, to name a few. At the same time, there is evidence that we’ve reached a peak in petroleum production, the growing cost of which will provide economic incentive to shift to alternative fuels.

The effects of many of these changes will be felt first in the maritime arena – through increased access to the Arctic region and more frequent need to provide humanitarian assistance or respond to regional destabilization. In the years before these effects become truly serious, we need to start thinking about what we’ll want our future naval forces to be able to do and how they might best be organized and equipped to carry out those tasks. This symposium on Climate and Energy Imperatives for Future Naval Forces advances that cause.

U.S. EPA Proposes to Veto Arch Coal’s Permit for Mine

Some climate graffiti--

Industry urged to continue with incentives as Boiler Scrappage Scheme closes

The Boiler Scrappage Scheme has closed after the Government this week received applications for all 125,000 boiler discount vouchers in England. The scheme was launched at the beginning of January with funding of £50 million to upgrade household heating systems and cut carbon and heating bills, as well as give a boost to the heating industry.


When it launched the scheme, the Government claimed the Boiler Scrappage Scheme would help sustain work for 130,000 installers and over 25 UK-based boiler manufacturers and would cut household energy bills by between £200 to £235 a year and save in the region of 140,000 tonnes of CO2 per year – equivalent to taking 45,000 cars off the road.

See: http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/industry-urged-to-continue-with-...


Modern gas boilers in the UK are a disaster. This scheme was just another piece of UK 'pork barrel' politics organised by Mandelson who is seen as the king of sleaze in the UK.

Here is some truths:

Old systems were convection circulated, new are pumped.
Old had cast iron heat exchangers/pilot lights and 'never' failed. New ones fail after 1 - 2 years as they are stuffed with electronics.
In the UK the public are not allowed to fiddle with anything, so we are hostage to a pool of 'experts'. Finding a reliable technician is like finding a good value lawyer..
'New systems are much more efficient' - this is a lie. The only energy improvement is the extraction of flue gas heat. They use 24hr electrical power, intermittent pump + ignition electrical power.
Old pilot light boilers warmed the hot water tank sufficiently that hardy souls did not require continuous water heating - so 100% efficiency in the pilot light.

Here is the real deal:


And a real market survey here:


Hi pondlife,

We have a three story home with one loop per floor and water is circulated by a single Grundfos pump that draws 55-watts. If we assume an average usage of 6 hours per day, its consumption is about 10 kWh per month. That doesn't strike me as unreasonable, given that a standby pilot light consumes between 250 and 500-watts of natural gas, or as much as 4,380 kWh per year. Also, bear in mind a pilot light does not transfer 100 per cent of its heat to the cylinder as roughly half is lost up the flue.

I have no first-hand experience with European models so I can't personally speak to their reliability, but I've owned two high efficiency boilers over the past fifteen years and never had any issues. Our current boiler is fitted with a fairly sophisticated Tekmar control system and this device has cut our space heating and DHW costs by several hundreds of dollars a year (in the UK, they're sold under the kanmor name; see: http://www.kanmor.com/kaneng.html). And, FWIW, my mom had a condensing boiler installed by British Gas several years ago and hasn't reported any problems thus far.

With gas supplies critically low this winter and the long-term outlook somewhat bleak, the scrapping of 125,000 G-rated boilers seems prudent, IMHO.

Addendum: One other thing to note -- a standard boiler flue can result in significant heat loss. Conditioned air is continuously drawn up the flue due to differential pressure (i.e., the "stack effect") and the rate of flow increases rather dramatically on cold, windy days. A condensing boiler that vents horizontally through the wall has minimal vent related losses.


In the UK the public are not allowed to fiddle with anything, so we are hostage to a pool of 'experts'. Finding a reliable technician is like finding a good value lawyer..

Yes, that makes it a lot more expensive, and you are always at the mercy of the skills of whoever you can find to do the work.

The building inspectors around here (Alberta, Canada) have found that they seldom have trouble with homeowner wiring. The homeowners are very cautious and do everything very carefully. It may not be exactly right but it will be close. The inspectors really have to watch the tradesmen, though, because if they get behind schedule they start to take shortcuts, make mistakes, and just hide things rather than trying to fix them.

I used to enjoy explaining to British immigrants how to convert Canadian 120 volt kitchen outlets to 240 volts so they could plug in their British kitchen appliances. The look of horror and fear on their faces was particularly enjoyable. You could do this because the Canadian standard was to bring 240 volts out to a duplex outlet and then split it into two 120 volt circuits. It was quite easy to replace the two 120 V outlets with one 240 V British socket.

Americans also used to get upset with this because they don't wire US kitchen outlets the same way. I had to explain to them that the way they wired kitchen outlets in the US was illegal in Canada. That's the great thing about standards, there are enough of them for everybody to have a different one.

British standards are particularly whacko. I used to tell them, "Look, we only use plugs like yours for electric clothes dryers. Why don't you just switch to the Swiss plug because it's a lot smaller, simpler, and easier to use? You can fit three of them in the space of one British plug." But that's not the British way of doing things.

On the tie in with climate change and the Y2K non-disaster. I was all to aware of the issues concerning Y2K, because of being first a programing student in '81. I followed the news and even did a bit of preparing for the worst. When nothing happened much I was not fooled into thinking that nothing would have happened if we had not had such a massive effort to stop it from being so bad.

But that was not the case with the general public, and that leads to a problem with crying wolf. We all know the story, but in that story the child was lonely, not what we are seeing here. We would have to rewrite the story, to this " The boy sees the wolf and cries out in help, and when the villagers get there, the wolf has hidden away. And the the next night the same things happens the villages come and the wolf has hidden. On the last night the boy cries for help the villagers don't come and the wolf laughs after finishing off the young morsel of a boy. "

We see ourselves crying wolf and then the disaster being a non-starter several times, both in the polution cries of tree huggers 30 years ago, and in the Y2K of 10 years ago, and even in the Peak Oil movement, (which got hit with an economic false flag event, which hides the true crisis). Time and time again, we yell loud and when people come running to our aid the danger is not there, and they assume we have been lying. But the danger has been hidden either because of other factors, or because the danger is smart and does not want us to stop it.

What we as crying people in the dark of night have to do, Is change how we cry out, we have to gather pictures of the things looming in the shadows and take care to cry in the right way for help.

Yesterday there was a link to PBS's NOW program talking about Gas Fracking and water concerns for several areas of the country. Media that we have access to these days can record the dragon, and when we call people to help us, and they see no dragon, we can show them proof of the dragon. We are fighting on several fronts.

One is our own actions, and the cumulative actions of everyone else piled onto the problem. And the other is that those Powers that Be in the BAU companies who don't want us to change and take away their profits.

If we change our actions, but the BAU folks just call us silly cry babies, we lose the ability to change more people. We need to make the BAU folks want to change because it will in their best interests to change, and then we can have them help us change others on a more massive scale.

Water issues will be a game changer, BAU will break when the water systems of the natural world break, is there a way to chagne the course of the BAU folks so that they want to change?

I see the death of a lot of people because they can't get enough water being here faster than Peak Oil being a universally known. I can see that there will be massive movements away from climate change issues, all the while the water issue kills people, only because Y2K did not happen the way we all claimed it would IF we DID NOT do something.

Gloomy cold weather, spring is hiding and I can't plant, and I want to be able to help people and see them telling me they aren't worried and going back to their TV Shows and BAU. sighs.

BioWebScape designs for a better future, even if I only help myself because no one else listened to me crying wolf.

Well, Charles, I was going to post a commentary tentatively entitled Something Evil This Way Comes connecting a lot of dots on Sunday's DB...but I've got too much going on to pull it off.

I have reached the point where I don't care what people do or don't do. Let me give you an example: There is a vacation house on the parcel adjoining one of ours. It's 34 acres and has a pond. We've known the people and their family for over 30 years and are good friends. He is a private consultant and business has been bad for the last tear and a half and they need "money."

Although they love their place here, they are starting to consider selling it because they like the urban area where they live better than the boondocks. He totally believes in BAU. Period. He is uninterested in discussing anything which contradicts or challenges this view. He (and his wife) rejects the idea of selling their urban house and living full time here. They'd have to give up friends, church, networking with peers and on and on. I understand this.

But, if I and others are right, he will end up in a world of hurt in the end and will have lost his one easy chance to survive rather nicely, albeit not fancy or impressive. (I've been very clear that I would be there for them for anything they need.)

Now, what is ironic is that he will have to carry the paper if he does sell, opening himself to the possibility of counting on income that may stop at any time forcing him to foreclose...if he has the money to hire a lawyer. In the mean time he would again enter a world of financial trouble with no options left!

I prepared a long letter to him outlining the pros and cons of this possible action. Ultimately, I said, "F it." He's a mature adult and I didn't want to place myself in a position of propagandizing for moving here if it might turn out that they totally hate it here.

To close with what I said in the beginning; there isn't much point in trying to turn people around to see the light.


What does he want for it?
Spoke with Hometown Realty. They just sold a place at the bottopm of my hill, 1 acre, fronting on the highway, with like a doublewide or something, for 90K. Sucker. I guess he's betting prohibition won't be repealed in Nov.
Got to stomp my brakes to get a flatlander off my license plate yesterday :>)

Hi Mike,

He hasn't made up his mind yet. My guess is he will wait until they are broke and then expect to sell is in a few weeks. I don't know what they'll ask. During the boom he could have gotten over $400k.

I doubt a bank will loan on it since, although the house is code, there is no power or water. Power is available from my property but it would cost a ton of money (aside from the distance) since I'd want it all underground. Then you throw in maybe $15-30k for a well (I would NEVER grant any water rights to my well.). In any case, a buyer would have to have a lot of up-front money. In addition, the house is not suitable for anyone with kids so they'd have to figure in the cost of an addition.

Finally, even with the pond, it's not a good property on which to grow dope (plus I'd turn in any growers).


I was in the snow yesterday in Mendo, at Sunset Gap above Potter Valley.
45 minutes on a dirt and snow covered road.
But beautiful.

Say Pal...

When you going to stop by at our place on your expeditions? Heck, I'm only 15 minutes off the un-named state highway you keep going up and down.

FWIW, they are predicting snow at my elevation on Wednesday and Wed. night. Great, the stone fruits are in full bloom and the apple and pears are close to coming out. The plums bloomed and are leafing out but they are tough suckers. But, the real deal is that Wed was going to be a COSTCO run day. I love spending $600-1k in one day at one place! Use that BIG cart and fill it up! Hoooya!! (wish this were a joke)


Well, NOAA says....

We are at 3,086 feet and my wife just informed me there is no way in hell that we will drive the 1 ton 4x4 on that kind of a trip. She who must be obeyed has spoken!


Your neighbor might reconsider his situation. Those vacation/retirement developments around here in Western NC are in serious trouble. I happened to bid on a lot which had been foreclosed in one of those gated communities and won the bid. I paid about 17% of the amount that the first buyer paid back in late 2005. There are several other lots for sale in the development at present, thus I would expect that the prices will fall for them as well, if the sellers can find buyers.

I also have a bid in on another lot in another high end gated development, the bid being less than 5% of the first selling price in 2005. The developer went under back in 2007(?) and almost all sales since then have been banks foreclosing on people who bought at ridiculous prices. There may even have been some fraud in some of the last purchases just before the developer went under. It turns out that the company was a national outfit that had about 24 other developments which also went under.

In the next county, there is another development which covered 6500 acres and included a golf course in the plans. Thru a massive promotion, they sold many of the lots over a single weekend. That development went bankrupt too. The folks who bought into these developments were left with unfinished roads and the amenities weren't built as well. Worse, there appears to be a glut of expensive vacation dream houses already available on the market just now, as the spring rush to sell to the tourists ramps up, so the demand for new developments is likely to be constrained until the previous ones sell out.

I think the real estate boom that produced these vacation developments for second homes has ended and it's too late to cash in on that fad. If the price of fuel creeps up this summer, the fad won't return even if the rest of the market for real estate picks up. Best of luck luck to your neighbor...

E. Swanson

I have friends that know all to well that something is afoot, either they have always been active or their jobs have been impacted and they have learned via the hard way what all the issues are. I know that they have little bits of story to tell others and sometimes little bit of an issue is all you will have to work with as far as getting them on the path to seeing the bigger issue.

One of my methods of getting to know strangers when I play pool with them is to claim that I play pool to LOSE.

It strikes most people really hard in the gut, that they would met someone that has a philosophy of playing to LOSE. It makes them question my sanity and opens up for me to manipulate the conversation toward my goals of letting them know there is another way to live life, not as king of the hill, but as someone willing to go out of their way to help others and to help how we all live a better life. It does not always work, but I have been getting better able to convince more people by changing the rules they are used to dealing with.

Putting people in unfamiliar waters makes them depend on you to explain yourself, or at least puts them on their guard where they are looking for answers and that allows them to have the mental pathways open for change.

It also allows me to see what sort of person they are very quickly. I have a lot of Street Rep now in some areas because I don't act like the regular person everyone sees. Not all of my Street Rep is good I will admit that.

I guess working so close to a lot of the issues of Homelessness and crime and punishment, and trying to help as many people as I can puts me in places that can be very dangerous. I have been for years training my people skills, but also my combat skills, without firearms. I don't need a gun to scare someone, I can do that with my voice, or a look. I have been in places where guns were out and the tensions were running high. In 2007 hanging around downtown Little Rock was a dangerous time in the city for the homeless and the common citizen who lives on the fringes, not the burbs.

I used to always carry a walking stick, and when I was hanging out in a crowd, I'd go off to the edge of it, find a Pole or Concrete column. Then I would play kill the enemy, with a stave you can do a lot of fancy hand work and stuff that looks very dangerous. Especially if you are good enough to gets within an inch of something over and over again without hitting it. I've handled a stave for over 10 years, and muscle memory is fine tuned, even when I don't pick one up in months. Unless you want to shoot me from afar, if you were to get within 6 feet of me, you are in my reach. It all came in handy when dealing with the homeless community, most homeless are harmless, but there are a lot of people who hang with the homeless that prey on them. I have made it a point to let the predators know I am walking amoung you and willing to defend others.

A good friend told me I was crazy and she told me to be careful. And I am, I have grown good at threat assessment. But I grew up in a military household and was aware of some of these issue long before I actually started doing it for non-profit living.

I guess that is where the joe-sixpack I don't care about others, I'll live a BAU lifestyle really make me mad and make me a gloomer person ( a mild form of a doomer ). To many people are going to crawl back to the burbs and die at the hands of the gangs and the street people.

The end will not be easy for the street people, but they have lived closer to the edge and will prey on the middle class city dwellers real fast if something were to hit the US hard.

The new influx of the Foreclosed/ jobless middle and under class( poor but housed/jobbed ) into the homeless ranks have really impacted a lot of cities, I have seen it here in Little Rock in the last year. They are lost, and in some cases, they get further victimized by the people that prey on the regular homeless.

I have areas because of other issues that I can't go into in Little Rock and there aren't anyone out there helping these people. Glommy thoughts for a saturday in spring.

BioWebScape designs for a better future (safer, fed, housed, and lots less NIMBYs)

Thanks for sharing all that, Charles. That was fascinating. And thanks for looking out for other people down on their luck :-)

It strikes most people really hard in the gut, that they would met someone that has a philosophy of playing to LOSE.

And they would be right ... there is nothing more pointless than playing pool to lose (other than playing pool at all perhaps). There is no way to play to lose - and even if you could - there is no satisfaction for the opponent. What total hippie silliness indeed.

His logic in losing you might want to ponder that a minute or two.Small kindness can open many doors losing by one ball can be just as successful as winning by one ball.In high school football we had a very popular team mate that if you ran him against the slowest guy on the team he would lose by a step and if you ran him against the fastest guy on the team he would lose by the same half step.As players we knew he would do his job but it would leave the coaches shaking their head.

Try to stretch your mind a little, Cargill.

There are a number of times you play to lose.. in some stores, selling some items as a Loss Leader will bring in customers who will also buy your cash crops once they're there.

The Hippies were right, especially about the value of silliness.


..in other words, sometimes you have to spend money to make money.. prime the pump.

Winning is entirely a matter of knowing just what it is you want to win.

There are a number of times you play to lose.. in some stores, selling some items as a Loss Leader will bring in customers who will also buy your cash crops once they're there.

Possibly the "best" non sequitur on the DB today.

Try to stretch your mind a little, Cargill.

Being condescending towards people who have a different point of view ... really attractive look as well. I repeat (for the slow ones) - playing pool to lose is both a logical and logistical impossibility - and as a metaphor it has even more limited value.

You either play to win or you don't play to win. If you don't play to win, but play to have fun, can't you call it playing to lose? There will always be a winner and a loser in games. By going the route of claiming to play to lose, you can disconnect yourself from the frustrations of losing when you are always playing to win.

Has the total mindset all these years of "Winning is Everything" gone this far down the road that we can't think about anything else?

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

You either play to win or you don't play to win. If you don't play to win, but play to have fun, can't you call it playing to lose?

No you cannot ... and you (and others it seems) are now moving the goalposts - because I called you on it. Playing to "not win" may well mean playing casually and for fun - nothing wrong with that, and I've done it myself. In fact every time I play pool I play casually, just for the fun and camaraderie ... same in golf and all sorts of other stuff I do (either sober or otherwise).

But playing to lose is another mindset altogether. It would involve bad shots, and potting the black at the first opportunity ... totally different kettle of fish altogether. So playing "not to win" can be amusing, but playing "to lose" is another country indeed. Isn't that totally obvious? Sheesh.

You either play to win or you don't play to win. If you don't play to win, but play to have fun, can't you call it playing to lose?

If you're playing for fun, you're playing to win, but if you lose, you slap your opponent on the back, say, "Good game, man!!" and buy him a beer.

Unless he won because you did really badly, in which case you say, "Oh, man, I can't believe you beat me with such a pathetic shot!", at which point he slaps you on the back, says, "That's okay, you'll do better next time", and buys you a beer.

If you want a fun game, you have to play someone as good as you, or slightly better. I mean, it's really all about sharpening your skills, not beating someone for the umpteenth time, or vice versa.

In cards I am good enough to count cards and know what is in the other three player's hands just by knowing what is in mine. I can think outside the box of winning, If I want to I can win, but what is the point of winning?

Tell me why you play to win, Cargill? Do you play to win so you can feed your own ego. I have a big enough ego as it is, I don't need to feed it any more than I already do. Winning is not as satisfing as helping someone else feel better about themselves.

But I will say this about pool, there is always someone better than you are, most times anyways, though you might never ever play them, they are out there. I once was playing a guy who has been the State APA champion. He always said hi to me, but we had never played, though we had made several dates to play, something always got in the way.

Then one day we finally got set up for a game, and knowing that he is likely so much better than me, I told him my philosophy about playing to lose, and his response was a whole lot like yours.

I broke, and sank the 8 ball (in 8 ball) without sinking the cue. I won the game. Though I did play to lose I broke how I normally break when playing alone.

We played out the balls, as I am talking to him and just trying to get to know him and understand his issues.

Then on the next game, I don't take the easy shots, I play the harder shots, ones that I am not sure I can sink. I let him play how he wants to. In the end there is only one ball left, the 8. He can win, but misses it. I don't try to win, I miss it as well, giving him another chance to win. He misses again, but the shot left to me is a sure win and he drops the 8 in the pocket and goes away mad that I won 2 games in a row, all because he is a state champion and I am just a lowly player.

His anger was fed by his own need to win at all costs. I played as well as I could and still give him a good game, but I did not want to win, did not play as good as I know I can, I wanted him to win, yet he did not.

Playing to lose seems counter to everything you have been taught in life, but it is understanding that you don't have to win, the goal is to have fun and thinking about winning all the time, does not give you any statisfaction that is worth its own merit.

I know several people who think the same way you do, or at least a lot like you do. That I am crazy and sick in the head, for saying what I do. If I really wanted to win, I could in a lot of games, but that is not my goal in general.

Playing is a fun thing, playing where everyone feels good about the game is better, even if you know you could win, letting the other person or team win can give you more pleasure if you understand that you don't need to win to be happy.

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

One of my methods of getting to know strangers when I play pool with them is to claim that I play pool to LOSE.

It strikes most people really hard in the gut, that they would met someone that has a philosophy of playing to LOSE.

Yeah, I can understand how it might freak people out. There are other people who do this, too, you know. They play to lose until you get overconfident and you've got all your money riding on the game. And then they take all your money away.

My brother was one of them. He made a lot of money at pool in his younger days. Then he got into oil trading, and it was pretty much the same thing.

Smiles, it reminds me of a shirt I have, it's a cotton long sleeve button down the front kind, Nice shirt, but I got it for free somewhere, Greg Norman (whoever he is) but the logo on the left pocket is a line drawing in several colors of a shark. One of the places I used to practice pool at (going in about 4 times a week for several months in a row) I'd wear it a lot. The girls (bar tenders and waitresses) would introduce me as their resident pool shark.

I've had several guys point out to me that they were better than I was. The two fellows that have done this. One did not want me to use my own stick instead of a house stick, so to make it fair to him, I only used the front half of my stick, which weighted about 6 ounces (I don't have the stick anymore, it was stolen in a robbery). He wanted to play me for bragging rights. He won the game, but I almost beat him, I played well but did not want to win, though I also did not want to lose badly, but I wanted him to have his bragging rights. He was one of those homeless predators that I knew about( haven't seen him for a long while though).

Another was a guy that was playing with his date on another table, while I was practicing on the other. I was taking hard shots and not going after easy ones, can't learn if you always go after the easy ones, do the hard things in life you will learn more.

He asked if I wanted to play a game, I said sure, and that I figured he was better than I was, and he pointed out that he Knew he was better than me, because of all the shots I had missed.

But he was a bit full of himself ( I don't mind, I just smiled to myself, at him guessing wrongly about what he saw me doing ). I told him I'd make it real easy for him to win, I'd play with the short stick.

By the end of the game there was one ball left and his turn and he dropped the 8 ball. But he knew I was not the lousy player he at first thought I was.

I don't play for money, soon as I started doing that, I would lose badly, and it gets into dangerous egoville for me, better to stay clear of my ego if at all possible.

BioWebScape designs for a better future, hopesully we will not lose the ability to make good pool tables.

From history we know that you have got it wrong. Urban people survive collapse better than rural folk. See Greer (and all the stories about Argentina etc).

Atleast, your unstated assumption is highly debatable.

Another item, linked on Drudge, for the "People Going Crazy" file:

Road rage, accident centers on Obama bumper sticker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Nashville man says he and his 10-year-old daughter were victims of road rage Thursday afternoon, all because of a political bumper sticker on his car.

Mark Duren told News 2 the incident happened around 4:30p.m., while he was driving on Blair Boulevard, not far from Belmont University. He said Harry Weisiger gave him the bird and rammed into his vehicle, after noticing an Obama-Biden sticker on his car bumper.

I keep wondering how Americans will vent their frustrations in a car-less society. Maybe jousting will make a comeback.

I was not aware that Americans ever engaged in jousting.

Hah! You want a good laugh, go to YouTube and search on "tall bike jousting."

Guess you just don't follow the B movie trail...now do ya?

KNIGHTRIDERS...One of the first for Ed Harris, you know, the guy married to Amy Madigan.


I was not aware that Americans ever engaged in jousting.

Surely you joust! It's the Maryland state sport: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/symbols/sport.html

Speaking as an epee fencer, I say Yes! Bring back dueling with real swords. Not only will it help reduce the excess population -- a rapier or short sword is surprisingly lethal -- but we might get a more polite society. Any time you go the "Sir/Madam, I demand satisfaction" route, there's a risk that the other person will be better at it than you are :^)

Laughs, I'll stick to my staves. The wooden ones would die in a duel with a sword. But I also strength train with a 6 foot 1 inch ID Iron Gas pipe, I've got end caps on it. It would hold it's own in a sword fight.

If the world fell to far down the cliff, making swords and staves would be easier than guns, unless someone remembered the gunpowder formula.

But I vote for a civil society if we can at all have one.

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

Wooden or not, I would be very nervous about a 6- or 8-foot staff in the hands of someone who knew what they were about. Especially out in the open. And against a light-weight blade.

Historically, rapiers, short swords, and variations on them were the civilian urban self-defense weapons of choice in Europe for something over 200 years. Pretty much worthless for anything else, but well suited to that cramped environment. The light-weight blades required a reasonably sophisticated level of metallurgy.

The busiest interchange in the state of Wisconsin has closed. Large cracks in the highway 45 bridge forced it to be shut down. This is located in Milwaukee. The comment section as always is very telling on what people expect. I wonder what these same folks would think if they knew gasoline was about to become more expensive and scarce in the years ahead and that their commute will be unnecessary because so many jobs exist because of cheap energy. The state is building a high speed rail line (at least last i knew) so that is brought up often.

The dramatic step to close the bridge followed the imposition by the DOT of a weight limit for trucks in August.

State officials then also imposed weight limits on two other bridges that serve as connection ramps in the interchange.

The limits failed to slow the deterioration, and in November the DOT moved to replace the bridges immediately. A $15.3 million contract was awarded to Milwaukee Constructors LLC, which started building the new structures in January.

During the construction, sensors installed on the U.S. 45 bridge registered trucks weighing more than 100,000 pounds. Each week, about 1,600 trucks exceeding the 60,000-pound limit went over the bridge, Cannestra said.

The volume of traffic in the interchange made the weight-limit enforcement difficult, she said.

Seemingly moments after the barricades went up Friday morning, County Executive Scott Walker attacked the transportation priorities of Gov. Jim Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, blaming them for the failure to maintain the roadways.


Keep in mind that Milwaukee roads will need 250 (or 163) or so years to fix 'em all up based on the level of funding/activity once chooses as a starting point.

Meanwhile over on different places that wear the "government sucks" colored glasses (vs the 'its the end of oil' glasses of TOD):

Translation: The US Government can't afford to fix the road system they have allowed to rot (probably don;t remember how anyway) and so we're all going to go back to living in the 19th Century and hope we can still compete with the rest of the world living in the 21st Century.

No matter the observer - they all see the roads as needing work. The WHY seems to be the only point for debate.

Well, look at the roads. Lots of them are falling apart, not just that one interchange. If they're going to continue being used even somewhat as they are now, then they do indeed need fixing, and a 163 year cycle simply won't cut it. They would still need fixing even if considerable freight were shifted to rail, although in a few spots the number of lanes to fix could be reduced. If they're not fixed, then it will indeed begin to look a lot more like the 19th century (for example, forget those newfangled high efficiency cars that are ridiculously low-slung to improve aerodynamics - they'll bottom out on potholed mud roads.) And the bit about non-motorized pretty much makes it explicit, since the 20th century was very much about motors, at least in those parts of the world that didn't remain in the 19th.

That leaves only the question of whether, as stated in your quote, the rest of the world will be living in the 21st century. The range of answers to that runs all the way from The Singularity at one end to Mad Max at the other. Since it's hard to make predictions, especially concerning the future, the probability is vanishingly small that anyone will choose the correct answer, though those who turn out by chance to have chosen it will no doubt blow their own horns loudly if they are still around when the time comes...

[Oh, I was forgetting - as usual, there was no shortage of funds for Brewers Stadium. Corruption and fecklessness are certainly not unique to Louisiana, although the picture of hundreds of buses fecklessly left behind in the flood instead of being used to evac carless people was priceless. There's never money for vital infrastructure and the like, but even the sky's no limit when it comes to Palaces Of Moronic Entertainment.]

Paul, at the risk of veering off topic, I don't see much difference between Mad Max and The Singularity. Both represent a kind of capitulation -- one savage, the other sterile. Whatever happens going forward, I would hope that we retain at least a shred of our humanity.

Good point, I hadn't thought of it quite that way. Sort of like politics too, seems like if one goes far enough to the extreme left or to the extreme right, it gets hard (except maybe for the True Believers) to tell the difference.

so we're all going to go back to living in the 19th Century and hope we can still compete with the rest of the world living in the 21st Century.

Of course, the rest of the world will be back there with us... or should we plan on moving to, where is it that will be in the 21st Century again?



I wonder what these same folks would think...if they knew...that their commute will be unnecessary because so many jobs exist because of cheap energy.

I assume that's a rhetorical question, but in that case the paper would have to close comments lest their server catch fire. However, if it ever does get that bad, hardly anyone will be able to afford to use the Governor's proposed rail projects either, especially the expensive high-speed stuff (40 to 60 cents per mile in Japan; the semi-high-speed Acela ain't cheap either.)

Motorized transportation in any sort of enclosed vehicle conforming to the vast thicket of current-day government regulations is bound to be prohibitively expensive under any sort of "crash" conditions, pun intended. So if it ever gets that bad, a lot of elf'n'safety will simply have to go out the window along with everything else. (What will really happen is that the moralizers won't allow the regs to be changed, so everyone will simply be in violation all the time, as is the case in poorer parts of the world now.)

I've been thinking of investing in the Cardium oil play of central Alberta, but this article has given me pause.

Cardium Oil Stock Valuations
by Keith Schaefer, editor, Oil & Gas Investments Bulletin
March 24,2010

"Aftermarket on Wednesday March 17, one of the Calgary oil and gas boutique securities firms, Peters & Co., issued an updated Cardium report which in a nutshell said: They estimated decline rates on wells were higher than expected (meaning the production levels of the wells dropped faster than expected) … which means operating costs are higher as costs get amortized over a smaller production base … and once you factor in the very high land costs recently paid by some companies, the break even on “full cycle”, or all-in costs, in some of the Cardium plays (and there are several) were up to $75/bbl in some cases."

Personally I think the only safe investment is in land, Stocks are going to fail with time, and what you get in the end might be money and some worthless paper. But land will be able to at least provide you a place to rest your head at night. But if you know how to live off the land, it might provide you future food and a place to put up shelter.

Owning land is the only place I'll put money that I have to spare for investment, and then once I have the land, I can buy the other stuff to go on it, like tools and books and seeds.

Though I have a place to live right now, my parents own it and when they die I might not be able to stay, I hope to stay on it, as it is paid for free and clear, but the way things will be in the future I have started to not count on owning it in the future. I would only consider myself an owner of land if I had the title deed on the land myself.

We don't want to have a future where someone else moves into your country and tells you to move by force of arms off your land, but it might come to that in the future.

Sighs, gloomer saturday.

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

Somehow you will have to pay the property tax on the land to prevent the government from forcibly evicting you.

Yeah there is that. On this house with the value as it stands I can foot that bill within my current income. It's under $500 a year. Though that could change, and then I would have to recalulate.

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

Isn't it just about time for the annual prognostications on hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico?

Colorado State University usually issues their initial forecast around April 7. Well, they do a preliminary forecast in December for the following year (it called for an above-average year in 2010), but early in April is the first of their bimonthly forecasts.

Yes. Yawn.

Re: Summary paragraphs from "Why are we propping up corn production, again?" Up top:

So low-quality meat and sweetener, a shoddy alternative car fuel, an agrarian crisis visited upon our neighbor to the south ... that's more or less the corn crop. The 6 percent going to "other" use reflects mainly industrial-food ingredients: stuff like starches that end up in everything from ketchup to mac 'n cheese. Another small fraction goes to extremely low-quality liquor.

This is what we're getting out of 32 million hectares of mostly prime farmland and billions of dollars in annual subsidies? It's time to start thinking about how to encourage more diversified, lower-input forms of agriculture. It's not that we need to grow no corn; it's just that we can't afford to keep growing so damned much of it.

I sometimes like to take a stupid agrument and run with it just to show how crazy it is and this is one them.

Taking the last sentence first: that we can't afford to keep growing so damned much corn. Really? Who is the we? City folks I suppose who in fact grow no corn at all. The author surely isn't referring to farmers, like myself, who grow corn because it is the most profitable crop.

I can't afford to grow anything else. I've tried asparagus. Just a short 50 row will yield so much asparagus that you can't give it away. I would have to open a canning factory to store it if I planted the whole farm in asparagus.

I've tried tomatoes too. Same story. A small plot the size of a house will yield so many tomatoes that they will rot before you can pick them. And you can't give them away when in season. Again I'd need a canning factory if I planted my whole place in tomatoes.

The same is true for just about any vegetable you can name that is not a grain. That is why corn is grown. It is easy to store and keep if dried. And there is a year round market for it locally.

He calls corn fed pork, beef and chicken low quality meat. Pray tell what is higher quality meat? Range fed cattle? Wild boar? Wild chicken? I don't think so.

He leaves out dairy products and eggs and jumps to a sweetener. The sweetener has a market due to higher priced sugar. I have no love for HFCS, being diabetic. But regular sugar and too much carbohydrates also cause diabetes along with a genetic propensity which I have. If you eat sugar or HFCS you will get fat, diabetes or both. With HFCS it just happens faster according to a recent Princeton study.

People get fat and diabetic because they eat too much. Blaming the food that they refuse to stop eating is silly. It is like saying the devil made me do it.

One reason I favor ethanol is because of the ill effects of HFCS.

Ethanol is of course the "shoddy alternative car fuel". Please let us know what the better alternative car fuel is. Everyone is looking for it.

Ethanol exists because currently there is no better alternative car fuel that is compatible with the structural mandates of vehicles on the road and the liquid fuel distribution system. If there were we would be using it. No liquid fuel alternative is going to be as good as gasoline. So saying it is shoddy without offering a comparison alternative fuel is not a serious position to take.

As for the agrarian crisis to the south, Mexico brought that on themselves. Corn prices are much higher in Mexico due to small farm operations, poor land and poor weather resources. Mexico has visited an immigration crisis on the United States so lets call that one even.

The remaining point of his argument is subsidies which has some validity. But ethanol/corn subsidies are not the only subsidies for fuel and food in the system. In fact the system is ripe with subsidies for fuel which I have ranted about many times. And the USDA food stamp program is a huge subsidy for food which benefits many urban critics of corn subsidies. But as long urbanites get the subsidy, I guess its okay.

The author leaves the impression that it is okay to subsidize food with food stamps, labor with unemployment benefits, petroleum with the oil depletion allowance, drilling incentives, the SPR, and Wars for Oil Security, but if corn farmers get a subsidy too it is one straw too much.


Rationalize away, but our food system is seriously distorted due to the subsidies provided,especially for corn and soybeans. Our corn based food system is killing us and our children and we have an epidemic in obesity due to the cheapness of corn products and corn fed animals.

Poor people buy processed corn based crap because it is cheap and even those who know they are killing their children keep buying the stuff. We need to level the playing field by eliminating subsidies for corn or giving subsidies for fruits and vegetables.

Forget liquid fuel alternatives like ethanol. Face reality and move to an economy and a society which emphasizes walking, biking, and public transit. To try to prop up the system with ethanol will just create the illusion amongst the masses that we have actually found a viable long term alternative.

Throwing a complaint into the equation like food stamps is a false comparison. Talk about comparing things that can't be compared.

Farmers who are honest admit that they grow concern for the subsidy. Otherwise, it just would not be profitable.

You have not taken a stupid argument and run with it; you have have taken a good argument and distorted it with nonsensical statements about how people just simply eat too much. It is not just about quantity; it is about the crap that people eat that is made cheaper and more available with massive corn subsidies.

Very few people here would argue that we should continue subsidies for fossil fuels like oil. But that does not justify subsidies for corn. Further, subsidies for fossil fuels represent an additional subsidy for ethanol because it lowers input costs.

And don't get me started about the USDA, which is part of the problem and aids and abets the corn based system.

Where did the author talk about these other subsidies?

...nonsensical statements about how people just simply eat too much...

I dunno. The 16oz burgers and 40oz sugary drinks seem a bit over the top to me irrespective of the exact chemical composition. So does the freezer crammed full of identical boxed pizzas or whatever they were, in one of the heavily promoted Jamie Oliver clips, and those things are not particularly cheap even with corn subsidies. I think the concept of self-discipline went out the window about the same time the hippies took control of and destroyed the education system. Teaching it would have about the same political correctness problems as teaching math or science, namely that you would expose the feckless, stupid, and shiftless for who and what they are, and that's considered a crime.

As to the faddish flapette about HFCS, right now I'm content to consign it to the same shelf as "coffee will kill you", "coffee is a harmless stimulant", "coffee causes cancer", "coffee reduces cancer" etc. etc. with no end in sight. Our biggest surplus is not corn, it's politically energized "studies" to prove how this or that randomly chosen thing is bad for you, no it's not, nyah, nyah, nyah, based on methodologies utterly lost in the statistical noise. Again it's political correctness, who wants to admit that if you choose to eat like a pig, you may end up looking like a pig?

Price fresh fruits and vegetables vs all the crap that passes as food today. I know how expensive it is because I am a vegan. Much cheaper to go down to McDonald's and get a dollar burger or even a Big Mac. Eating meat vs what I eat is a lot cheaper and it is cheaper because the beef and other corn based "food" is heavily subsidized.

It is not just that they use HFCS, it is that HFCS is in everything. If it were used like sugar used to be, maybe occasionally adding a little to your sugar, then yeh, it probably wouldn't be a problem.

And yes, there is the pig factor. But the type of food people eat contributes to the pig factor because the food itself is processed in a way that encourages over consumption. Fat, hfcs, and salt contribute to over eating.

But why the hell should we subsidize corn, anyway? Is this God's food or what. If we insist on having agricultural subsidies, then subsidize veggies, too. It is unfair to those of us who want to eat a healthy diet.

And yes, there is the stupid factor. But our agricultural system makes it even more dangerous to be stupid than it used to be.

Oh I agree with you about the supersize me diets people have. At times I eat bad for me things, but I eat about 6 small meals a day if I am active, and 2 small meals if I am not not active. A small hamburger at mcdonalds fills me up. You would not believe it if you saw my picture, Link to my blog and my picture in my tod profile.

Those pizzas in the Jamie Oliver video were the $1.25 or 4 for 5 dollars at wally-world. Why I know that is that, We help several people go shopping that don't have cars, they shop wherever they want to and buy what they want to. I have tried to suggest eating better and even helping them, but they don't like the fresh vegie foods. You can leas a horse to water, but can't make him drink.

I drink a lot of herbal teas, without sweeteners. I like coffee( best way to get it is chocolate covered espresso beans, bad bad charles ).

As to the HFCS it is processed in the liver, and they know what it does and why it is bad for you. We need a total make over in the food and eating worlds. Education is key, but if you can make them watch a TV reality show that they will watch, you can teach them that way.

The Internet has taught a lot of people things that were good for them. Every positive step is a step in the right direction, take them where you can.

Sure there is a lot of hype and some of it is junk, just like the sex sites online, but we tell ourselves that we have a free and open society, where free speach (US) is good for you. So you will get junk in the informational streams.

I can eat like a pig, I can pig out on Iceburg lettuce, eating up to 20 pounds a day, and won't look like a pig.

LOL, once I posted somewhere about the newest fad diet, the Iceburg lettuce diet, eat all the Iceburg lettuce you want for 6 months and you will be die-ted to a very much lower weight (skin and bones, maybe dry corpse). It was very tongue in cheek, the office was going on a "who can lose the most spring diet".

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

The 16oz burgers and 40oz sugary drinks seem a bit over the top to me irrespective of the exact chemical composition.

Don't you see the connection? Why do people buy those things? Back in the fifties, portions were a fraction of the size they are today. Did Americans suddenly just become gluttons?

I don't buy it. HFCS doesn't just make you fat. There's evidence that it screws up metabolisms so that it makes people feel hungrier. They aren't sated as they would be eating natural food. Sugar is almost as bad.

And it's tied into our crazy industrial food system, that creates a huge surplus, then encourages companies to find a way to get us to eat it. Refined carbs are the most profitable items - in the form of chips, candy, breakfast cereals, cookies, french fries, etc. And there's increasing evidence that these are the worst foods for you - worse than fat, saturated or not. Because they screw up your metabolism, including the part the regulates appetite.

As a result the carbohydrate addict continues to eat because the brain has lost its "satiety thermostat" (due to insulin resistance) and the sensation of being satisfied is never delivered.

When this happens the result is a relatively continuous feeling of hunger usually accompanied by intense cravings for carbohydrates. This combination is the result of control mechanisms that have gone haywire.

....too much insulin circulating in the bloodstream which creates intense hunger, usually characterized as intense cravings for carbohydrates. Intense cravings for chocolates ...... inability to eat a meal without bread .....intense desire for pasta-type dishes or desserts.

.... which leads the body to produce and release even more insulin in the preload and second, adjustment phases. This then makes the hyperinsulinemia worse and this then contributes to increased weight gain and continued, increased carbohydrate hunger.

Remember, the preload phase of insulin release is determined by the amount of carbohydrates eaten at previous meals. Thus, the more this vicious cycle operates,

Once folks are 'hooked' it's relative easy to 'keep it going'. Like the buzz and crash of nicotine addiction I can personally confirm how tough this 'simple carb' feedback loop is to break. Several years back (as a result of some required testing for my work which came in very high) I looked at this and went to some non-commercial websites for help. As a result I shed some 65 lbs. and was able to get my triglycerides and cholesterol back to low levels. Body fat and BMI, became quite low. After two months off of sweets and breads and on to fruits and veggies I went down the first 40 lbs and it got easier to fight the cravings.

I deal a lot with people whose only food comes from food stamps, or soup kitchens. The money you get per month to spend on food only allows you to buy the cheap foods. When one pear costs 75 cents and one sugary candybar costs 2 for 75 cents, people think 2 or 1, then buy 2.

If you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, and take in any HFCS it all goes to fat, even though you only are eating a 2,000 calorie diet, the liver does not use the HFCS as energy like it does with glucose.

Also there are plenty of healthy foods for you to buy, but they cost more than the cheap bad for you foods. If you are on a limited budget, you can't afford to buy healthy. The prices might be cheap at a farmers market, but they are a cash only business, so the poor food stamp getting person has to bypass them, or trade, or have money.

There is some will power related to the issue. But not all of it is about eating to much food, and pushing yourself away from the table, if the food you eat is still bad for you.

Go to youtube and search for HFCS and you will get several videos on it, look for the one with Dr. Lustig, let him explain the dangers, you'll be glad you did.

My dad was an executive Chef before I was born, I was trained by him and learned a lot on my own. I have done meal planning for a Diabetic wife, Done recipe conversions into healthy ones.

American grocery stores are full of poor choices, and they are cheap, and the good for you foods are not easy to pay for on a limited budget. I tell people (and posted about it a few weeks ago on here) about the $2.00 a day diet plan.

You take $2.00 a day and go to the grocery store and buy your 3 meal's worth of food, and see how healthy you can be with it. Thats 60 dollars a month. Now think that in say Arkansas, you get 160 something in food stamps, max for one person( might be higher but not much). If you can eat healthy on your $2.00 a day diet, then you can on the food stamps.

But think about all the things you can't buy if you only spend 5 or 6 dollars per day on your meals. When you are supposed to eat 5 servings of fruit and vegies or more per day. (I never know what the recommended amouts are, I hardly pay attention to them. I eat pretty much what I want, watching out for cane sugar, and corn sugars( both of them grasses ).

Then they hide those fruit servings in juices, which if you are not careful have HFCS in them, and fruit juice though yummy, can lead to bad things too, as you aren't getting enough of the fibers from the raw fruits.

We need to educate people on better diet choices and better ways to fix meals at home. We need to reform the way america feeds itself, and that fight will be long and hard because the food industry does not want you to be healthy, they just want you to buy their product.

I just got through making a greek salad for sunday's potluck, Mom did not want to go anywhere, so instead of lettuce I cooked some noodles, crumbled some feta, sliced green onions, purple onions, black olives, tomato , several dashs of Basil, tossed with extra virgin olive oil. And slapped my hand and put it away.

BioWebScape designs for a better future, recipes on my blog, you might have to go back a few months or years.

Go to youtube and search for HFCS and you will get several videos on it, look for the one with Dr. Lustig, let him explain the dangers, you'll be glad you did.


Go to youtube or the rest of the Intertubes and you can always find an article or video from somebody or other on how anything you can name will kill you. But then again, the mortality rate in life itself is 100%. So what?

When one pear costs 75 cents and one sugary candybar costs 2 for 75 cents, people think 2 or 1, then buy 2.

Well, yeah. OTOH if one does the math, and I stipulate that seems to be setting the bar high, a candybar is an astonishingly expensive way to buy mainly sugar, several dollars a pound on up. At $200/month the food stamp program was surely intended to be used mainly on basic ingredients rather than on restaurant meals or prepared foods (including but not limited to candybars), which are expensive.

Back when the program was set up, people would have thought eating restaurant meals - or prepared meals, both are mostly the same since restaurants these days mostly use frozen prepacks - nearly all the time to be an astonishing extravagance except for the very well-off. I don't suppose that rationale has changed much, if only because it would be costly to change it, beyond the special cases allowed in some but not all states. If one is not spending north of $4/pound for sugar or flour in prepared form, that might allow - with some difficulty, no doubt about it - for buying some cheap fruit and/or veg (which would have to be mainly in-season, or else stuff like cabbage, squash, and maybe beets more often than one might really like.)

I think this is why I was just reading somewhere on the Intertubes (and I don't know where to find it again here; since you "deal a lot with people whose only food comes from food stamps, or soup kitchens", please do go read it) about heated blog comments that food stamps ought to be cut back because some college students or people living like college students were eating too well on food stamps. This is one place where the poorest people indeed can't possibly win - if they plan and use the food stamps as effectively as is possible, they're eating too high off the hog and the program ought to be cut back, while if they don't plan properly, then, well, they're not planning properly and they need to change their behavior.

N.B. one curiosity with respect to eating on the cheap: even in the Upper Midwest, there are some places with enough immigrants that more-than-token Mexican, Latin-American, or Indian/Asian sections have been turning up in the bigger grocery stores lately. They can be a place to find at least some stuff that would cost an arm and a leg elsewhere. (Food co-ops can be even better, but are often unavailable or inaccessible.) All sorts of beans, rice, etc. for one thing.

And as an idiosyncratic but very revealing example, there's the sizable bag of paprika (not called that in Spanish of course) that costs less than a thimbleful still does in the spices section. It tells me that perhaps many immigrants haven't yet lost their cooking skills entirely, or they are too poor to be able to eat at restaurants all the time and leave the cooking only to the December holidays. Either way they actually have a use for the sizable bag, and irrespective of the proclamations of some of the self-appointed Marxists in these parts, sometimes when there is a use for something, Mr. Market actually does provide...

N.B. it's also a bit annoying that as has happened repeatedly today, people change the subject from the awful choices so many Americans make voluntarily to the choices the very poorest might or might not make because they have to, as if the latter could in any way whatsoever excuse the former...

It's not just Americans.

China faces 'diabetes epidemic', research suggests

China faces a diabetes epidemic, with almost one in 10 adults having the disease while most cases remain undiagnosed, researchers have said.

Tests showed diabetes was more endemic than previously thought, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The American diet is spreading over the world, and so are the health problems that come with it.

The food stamp amount is a hidden one, The max is one value, and the states get to decide how much you get, and that number can be lower, for people who have some income, but really most if it is spent having a place to stay. I just know that no one that I know of gets 200 in foodstamps.

It is choices, but some places don't handle food stamps, The Co-ops, CSAs , or Farmers Markets don't normally take food stamps. I don't know about the local hispanic stores, I know the Indian grocery is a cash or credit, no Food Stamps store with a min of 25$ for credit cards.

There are also homeless people with no where to cook food, so they can't by the good for you kind as easily, as it does not store as well. I hear it all the time, even with middle class people that they don't cook, can't cook, don't know what to cook, and generally let the food made in a factory feed them because it is easy.

It is really a mixture of problems and they don't have a plain one size fits all solution. But the more we know about the issues, the more we can educate people to their better choices.

BioWebScape designs for a better future.


'Dawn of the Anthropocene Epoch? Earth Has Entered New Age of Geological Time, Experts Say'

The scientists propose that, in just two centuries, humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes to our world that we actually might be ushering in a new geological time interval, and alter the planet for millions of years.

Zalasiewicz, Williams, Steffen and Crutzen contend that recent human activity, including stunning population growth, sprawling megacities and increased use of fossil fuels, have changed the planet to such an extent that we are entering what they call the Anthropocene (New Man) Epoch.

There are those that have claimed for many years now that humankind cannot possibly do anything to affect our planet because it is so big in comparison to us. However, the reality is we have had so much influence on Earth, we are in a new epoch, the Anthropocene.

One could argue that the Anthropocene ended when world oil production peaked. The current post-Anthropocene period might be called the "Catastrocene," in which humanity is unable to avert the consequences of the Anthropocene's mass-extinction and carbon-cycle disruption events.

I nominate our era as the "wearesoscrewedocene".

How about 'Yeastinalcoholocene', or 'McMansionhummerocene',
or yours

All of which are more descriptive of this time period.


I'm going with wearenotjustdumberthanyeastwearestupidasf***ocene.

4 more banks shut down Friday

Two in GA, one each in FL and AZ

Desert Hills Bank Phoenix AZ
Unity National Bank Cartersville GA
Key West Bank Key West FL
McIntosh Commercial Bank Carrollton GA

Notice, of course, the announcements are always on a Friday!


They are (almost) always on Friday after close of business because the FDIC needs the weekend to get things in order after taking over a bank. It can't be done overnight. When my bank went under, accounts were inaccessible all weekend. They were supposed to be available again by 5pm Sunday. They missed the deadline, but by Monday morning at 8am, everything was up and running again.

Something to keep in mind, if you think your bank is in any danger of failing. Most people are unaffected, but if you need to withdraw money after work Friday evening, and the FDIC has moved in - you won't be able to.

Something to keep in mind, if you think your bank is in any danger of failing. Most people are unaffected, but if you need to withdraw money after work Friday evening, and the FDIC has moved in - you won't be able to.

That's right. The feds hit the door in a human wave at closing time on Friday, the parking lot is full of rental cars all weekend, and at opening time on Monday morning, the bank is up and running under new management. Many people have no idea what happened. They get a lot of practice so they're very good at it.

Completely painless, except for the bill to the taxpayers.

That there were four shut down gives almost no information about the size of the problem. How large were the failed banks? How ordinary were they? That is, how manny more billions of turn around of bank business is likely to fail?

That there were four shut down gives almost no information about the size of the problem. How large were the failed banks? How ordinary were they? That is, how manny more billions of turn around of bank business is likely to fail?

If you were willing to make an offer to buy one of them, I'm sure they would tell you all that information so you could do your due diligence and make an informed bid. But otherwise, I'm sure they would prefer that you knew nothing.