Drumbeat: May 25, 2010

BP releases initial Gulf oil spill investigation findings

“I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame,” Tony Hayward, BP chief executive officer, said in a statement. “The honest truth is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures. “A number of companies are involved, including BP, and it is simply too early – and not up to us – to say who is at fault.”

BP (NYSE: BP) also said it has not reached any final conclusions.

Obama going to Gulf Coast on Friday

A senior administration official tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama will travel Friday to the Louisiana Gulf Coast to review firsthand the efforts to counter a disastrous oil spill.

Louisiana Fishermen Helping in Spill Cleanup Report Getting Sick

Some Louisiana fishermen affected by the massive oil spill in the Gulf — including some hired by BP to help in the cleanup — are reporting cases of debilitating headaches, burning eyes and nausea, and some industry and public officials are pointing the finger at chemical dispersants as the cause.

Gulf oil plume darker; not good news, expert says

Live video of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows the underwater plume getting significantly darker. A top oil engineering expert says that suggests heavier, more-polluting oil is spewing out.

The color of the oil gushing from the main pipe has changed in color from medium gray to black. Two scientists noticed the change, which oil company BP downplayed as a natural fluctuation that is not likely permanent.

But engineering professor Bob Bea at the University of California at Berkeley says the color change may indicate the BP leak has hit a reservoir of more oil and less gas.

BP Begins Testing as it Prepares Effort to Stop Gulf Oil Leak

Testing for the so-called top kill will be done within the next 12 hours to 24 hours, BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said on a conference call today. It’s the most complex effort yet to stop the monthlong leak before August, when relief wells can plug it from the bottom.

Over 300 dead birds are likely Gulf spill victims

More than 300 sea birds, nearly 200 turtles and 19 dolphins have been found dead along the U.S. Gulf Coast during the first five weeks of BP's huge oil spill off Louisiana, wildlife officials reported on Monday.

Tissue samples collected eventually will be analyzed to determine more conclusively if the animals were contaminated with oil from the BP spill.

ANALYSIS: Can batteries for EVs be manufactured cost-effectively?

Cutting battery costs is essential

Cutting EV costs is a challenge and until manufacturing volumes ramp up significantly, scale benefits cannot be brought to bear; even with close to half a million EV batteries in their plans for the middle of the decade, Renault-Nissan told the conference that the cost of the battery to the end-customer will almost certainly be prohibitive. So, as well as looking for ways to shave cost throughout the manufacturing process, Renault-Nissan (along with most other VMs it seems certain) will lease the batteries to EV car buyers.

Leasing batteries will be a significant solution

Leasing batteries while buying the car may seem an odd concept to consumers, as the car could well be worthless without the battery; what if you had bought the car but were unable to keep up the payments on the battery lease? Would you lose the car as well or would you actually end up with an effectively worthless asset? This question was not addressed in the conference, but it seems to be an important question which the industry needs to consider. Consumers may baulk at the idea of buying a vehicle on which they do not own a crucial element.

Vermont town eyes landfill site for solar panels

Bennington, Vermont may become one of the next municipalities to put an old landfill site to use as a solar energy array.

A report in the Rutland Herald says that two companies, Encore Redevelopment and Arno Group, are offering a proposal to town officials to deploy solar panels on the site, which three decades ago was a Superfund site polluted by industrial dumping.

Small wind turbines add megawatts to U.S. grid

The installed capacity of the U.S. for small wind turbines--defined as under 100 kilowatts of capacity--grew by 15 percent last year compared to the year before, representing $82.4 million in sales and almost 10,000 new units capable of 20 megawatts of generation, according to the report (click for PDF).

Consumer demand and improved technology are helping fuel sales, but the most important factor was the passage in October 2008 of a 30 percent tax credit for renewable energy systems.

U.S. Deepwater Drilling's Future

The EIA estimates "a vast majority" of projected increases in U.S. production in the near term will come from Gulf deepwater fields similar to the site of the Deepwater Horizon spill, which currently represent about 70 percent of all Gulf oil production. This share is expected to grow in the next few years. A 2009 U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) report forecasting production (PDF) in the Gulf of Mexico shows that as shallow-water production levels have fallen, deepwater production has taken up the slack.

This is the MMS forecast that is linked in the above article:

Geely to be maker of world's cheapest car

Chinese automaker Geely will soon usurp Tata Motors' crown as producer of the world’s cheapest car. Geely is developing its own mini car, called the Gleagle IG, that will be even more affordable than Tata’s Nano. With a $2,250 price tag, it beats the Nano by almost a grand.

New Nuclear Energy Grapples With Costs

John Rowe, chief executive of Chicago-based Exelon, operator of the nation’s largest fleet of nuclear power stations, says the economics of the electricity business have changed sharply in just the past two years, dimming the prospects for a significant number of new nuclear reactors in the United States.

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions in 2009: A Retrospective Review

In 2009, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States saw their largest absolute and percentage decline (405 million metric tons or 7.0 percent) since the start of EIA’s comprehensive record of annual energy data that begins in 1949, more than 60 years ago. While emissions have declined in three out of the last four years, 2009 was exceptional. As discussed below, emissions developments in 2009 reflect a combination of factors, including some particular to the economic downturn, other special circumstances during the year, and other factors that may reflect persistent trends in our economy and our energy use.

US EIA: World Energy Use Seen +49% 2007-35 on Emrg Econ Growth

Strong growth in developing countries will drive energy consumption up 49% from 2007 to 2035, with China and India leading the way, the U.S. Energy Information Agency said Tuesday it its annual International Energy Outlook.

Total energy demand in the non-OECD countries increases by 84%, compared with an increase of 14% in the OECD countries, the report said.

With rising demand the EIA reference case expects the average world oil price to continue the upward trend resumed last year, "with prices rising to $108 per barrel by 2020 (in real 2008 dollars) and $133 per barrel by 2035."

New Yorker: OIL SHOCKS

In an immediate sense, the causes of the catastrophe are technical. . .

But the real causes of the disaster go, as it were, much deeper. Having consumed most of the world’s readily accessible oil, we are now compelled to look for fuel in ever more remote places, and to extract it in ever riskier and more damaging ways. The Deepwater Horizon well was being drilled in five thousand feet of water, to a total depth of eighteen thousand feet. (By contrast, the Santa Barbara well was drilled in less than two hundred feet of water, to a total depth of thirty-five hundred feet.) While the point of “peak oil” may or may not have been reached, what Michael Klare, a professor at Hampshire College, has dubbed the Age of Tough Oil has clearly begun. This year, the United States’ largest single source of imported oil is expected to be the Canadian tar sands. Oil from the tar sands comes in what is essentially a solid form: it has to be either strip-mined, a process that leaves behind a devastated landscape, or melted out of the earth using vast quantities of natural gas.

BP: Tube Siphoned More Oil Underwater Monday

BP PLC spokesman John Curry told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the tube collected some 256,200 gallons of oil on Monday.

The collections were further evidence that a previous estimate of the underwater spill is too low.

Oil companies have a rich history of U.S. subsidies

Some say the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe can be linked to Congress' policy of oil-friendly tax breaks and financial benefits. . .

An increasing number of analysts say the waiver program has pushed drilling into fragile and remote areas where emergency response plans were inadequate.

"If it wasn't profitable for them to do it, then that's a good argument for leaving the oil in the ground," said Robert Gramling, who studies the history of the oil industry at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. The government-subsidized rush to deep-water exploration led to a situation where the industry was doing "things that were technically possible but were beyond our ability to undo them if we find out we have a problem."

Online maps, apps help track oil spill

His idea was to use Google's global-mapping feature to put the massive spill into perspective. His program overlays the size and shape of the spill onto maps of major cities like New York or Los Angeles and also lets users compare it to their hometowns.

See the map and use it to view the spill in relation to your town.

US Justice Official Seeks Higher Spill-Liability Cap

U.S. Associate Attorney General Thomas Perelli on Tuesday will call for an increase in the cap on damage claims that BP Plc (BP, BP.LN) and other companies would have to pay for spills such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

But he will stop short of recommending a specific cap.

Regulators Accepted Gifts From Oil Industry, Report Says

Employees of a federal agency that regulates offshore drilling—including some whose duties included inspecting offshore oil rigs—accepted sporting-event tickets, lunches and other gifts from oil- and natural-gas companies and used government computers to view pornography, according to a new report by the Interior Department's inspector general.

The report—which hasn't been made public by the inspector general but was described Tuesday in an email from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar—notes "a number of violations" of federal regulations and agency ethics rules by staffers assigned to the Lake Charles, La., office of the Minerals Management Service, a unit of Interior that manages the nation's offshore oil and gas resources, Mr. Salazar said in his statement.

BP exploring new option to siphon off spill oil

The London-based company said on Tuesday it had plans to remove a damaged part from the ruptured well and put in place a tube which would capture most of the oil and gas flowing into the sea, calling it the LMRP cap containment option.

BP already has one tube in place which is siphoning off an average 40 percent of the 5,000 barrels of oil the company estimates is leaking out of the well each day.

The company said it would be ready to try to fit the new tube by the end of the month, but in the meantime it would attempt in the next few days to plug the leak using heavy fluids -- the so-called "top kill" option that BP has given a 60 to 70 percent chance of success.

(This option is discussed in Heading Out's post today.)

U.S. Turns Up Heat on BP

While some critics have asked why the White House doesn't take control of the cleanup, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, speaking at the White House Monday, said he wouldn't recommend it. He said the government doesn't have more technology or expertise than the oil giant to deal with the leaking well, anyway.

"To push BP out of the way, it would raise a question: Replace them with what?" said Mr. Allen, who's leading the federal disaster teams in the Gulf. He said he had consulted with leaders of rival oil companies, who told him that BP appears to be doing what they would do.

The Latest on the Oil Spill

THE NUMBERS: It has been 34 days since the first explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig. The spill’s impact on shore now stretches across 150 miles, from Dauphin Island, Ala., to Grand Isle, La., officials said.

THE MONEY: The total cost to BP to date is about $760 million, or $22 million a day, compared with an initial estimate of $6 million a day last month, the company said.

Obama administration conflicted about relying on BP to stop gulf oil spill

"BP is the responsible party, but we need the federal government to make sure that they are held accountable and that they are indeed responsible. Our way of life depends on it," Jindal said at a news conference in Galliano, La., with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

With the realization that images of spoiled beaches and oil-covered animals are likely to become much worse in the coming weeks, the administration is torn between a political imperative -- that it take a hard line with the oil giant -- and a practical one -- that it has no choice but to rely on the company to stop the flow.

Gulf oil spill: White House orders BP to cut use of dispersant by half

The White House directed BP to cut its use of chemical dispersants to break up the Louisiana oil slick by as much as 50% yesterday, reflecting concerns that the clean-up of the spill could be worsening the economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jackson directed the EPA last week to seek out alternative chemicals within 24 hours, but admitted yesterday that BP had continued to use Corexit to break up the spill.

She and the coast guard commander, Mary Landry, defended the use of the chemical, arguing it had prevented a more devastating landfall of heavy crude.

Gulf oil spill: BP ordered to dramatically scale back use of dispersants

We are not satisfied that BP has done extensive analysis of other dispersant options," Jackson said. "They were more interested in defending their original decisions than studying other options.” Jackson said that the Coast Guard, not BP, will make the ultimate decision about the daily amount and manner of dispersant use and that the product could be scaled back by 50% to 75%.

Subsea injections, which had never been administered at 5,000 feet, had been effective and would continue, Jackson said. But the surface applications of dispersant, in particular, would be lessened even as skimming and controlled burns continue.

U.S. Senators, Cabinet Members visit Gulf spill

Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry admits she was not satisfied with the deployment of boom and other resources this weekend as oil migrated into Barataria Bay.

As a result, she says she's ordering a doubling of response teams along the Gulf coast.

Governor Jindal wants her to take it a step further and order additional Coast Guard commanders with decision making authority to the coast to more quickly respond as oil washes ashore.

Protesters demand BP be shut down over oil spill

A group of costumed and semi-nude protesters marched onto the grounds of BP's U.S. headquarters in west Houston Monday morning, calling for the company to be held accountable for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and for the government to act.

BP oil spill pushes Louisiana to desperate, massive 'berm' plan

Increasingly defiant of British Petroleum executives and federal officials, state and local officials in Louisiana say they are prepared to take emergency measures into their own hands to protect the state’s wetlands from encroaching oil from the BP oil spill.

Some marine scientists, however, say that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to dredge sand onto coastal barrier islands to keep the spill offshore may take too long to be effective, could possibly damage the coastal environment, and could undermine long-term efforts to rebuild the state’s eroding coastline.

Feds: Government can’t push BP aside on oil spill

The White House is facing increasing questions about why the government can't assert more control over the handling of the catastrophe, which unfolded after a BP offshore drilling rig blew up April 20.

All of BP's attempts to stop the leak have failed, despite the oil giant's use of joystick-operated submarine robots that can operate at depths no human could withstand. Millions of gallons of brown crude are now coating birds and other wildlife and fouling the Louisiana marshes.

BP is pinning its hopes of stopping the gusher on yet another technique never tested 5,000 feet underwater: a "top kill," in which heavy mud and cement would be shot into the blown-out well to plug it up. The top kill could begin as early as Wednesday, with BP CEO Tony Hayward giving it a 60 to 70 percent chance of success.

Allen said federal law dictated that BP had to operate the cleanup, with the government overseeing its efforts.

BP CEO admits impact of Gulf oil spill underestimated

BP's chief executive Tony Hayward admitted Monday that he had underestimated the possible environmental impact of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hayward, who visited oil-soaked Fourchon Beach Monday, told journalists that he was "devastated" by what he was seeing at Fourchon Beach, one of the few sandy beaches in Louisiana whose vast marchland is now threatened by oil spill.

Nuclear regulation offers a model for oil controls

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has led the interior secretary to propose separating oil regulation and leasing in his department. His proposal does not go nearly far enough. . .

Congress should . . . Sever the connection between leasing and regulation, including taking regulation out of the Interior Department. This is easy to do because the NRC exists as a model of how to do it.

Oil Industry Awaits Federal Spill Report

Oil companies and the oilfield service firms that assist them await the report, due to be released Friday, with concern: A prolonged ban on drilling on the one hand, and the near certainty of expensive new industry standards and safety measures on the other, could take a serious toll on their bottom lines.

The temporary ban on offshore drilling, which went into affect April 20, could easily be prolonged for months or even years, as the U.S. and other nations determine whether to resume full scale deep-water drilling. An extended ban would lead to short-term declines in revenue for the companies involved, which would undoubtedly affect their share prices. Depending on their current resources and positioning within their industry, new regulations might also affect their ability to increase revenue and market share long-term.

Institute formed to work on challenges facing US wind

An independent public-private collaboration, the National Institute for Renewable Energy (NIRE), has been formed to work on solving key scientific and technology challenges facing the US wind industry.

The Texas Tech University System, the Innovate Texas Foundation, and The Wind Alliance unveiled their plan during the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Windpower 2010 conference in Dallas.

U.S. cities face deepening fiscal problems

(Reuters) - Most U.S. cities face worsening economies, and local governments will have to cut personnel or stop construction over the next few years, according to a survey released by the National League of Cities on Monday.

Three in four city officials reported that overall economic and fiscal conditions have worsened over the past year, the league reported, and more than six in 10 said poverty has intensified.

Almost all -- 90 percent -- said unemployment was a problem for their communities and that joblessness has mounted over the last year.

Climate Fears Turn to Doubts Among Britons

A survey in February by the BBC found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,” down from 41 percent in November 2009. A poll conducted for the German magazine Der Spiegel found that 42 percent of Germans feared global warming, down from 62 percent four years earlier.

The lack of fervor about climate change is also true of the United States, where action on climate and emissions reduction is still very much a work in progress, and concern about global warming was never as strong as in Europe. A March Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans believed that the seriousness of global warming was “generally exaggerated,” up from 41 percent a year ago.

Blair lands job with Silicon Valley’s Khosla Ventures.

Tony Blair’s lucrative list of business activities lengthened yesterday with a job as an adviser to a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Khosla Ventures, that specialises in promoting environmentally friendly technology.

Khosla recently raised $1bn from investors to pump into promising technologies aimed at cutting carbon emissions. He is a proponent of ethanol fuel as an alternative to petrol, and he has come in for criticism for benefiting from US government subsidies towards food-based ethanol production.

Heart of Dryness: Reversing the Politics of Water Scarcity from the Kalahari to Suburbia

The dark side of drought and water scarcity isn’t economic stagnation; it is political implosion.[1] Scarce water fragmented society and curtailed liberty. It eroded trust. When drought-struck, the local governments from Atlanta to Los Angeles rationed individual water consumption to one-tenth of what people normally consume each day. [2] It cracked down on private well pumps, claimed and regulated waters for public consumption.

Outside the Kalahari, these political responses are almost universal. Conflict is inevitable, as most recently witnessed in Boston supermarkets as families brawled over the last bottled water. “Other hazards tend to pull people together,” said Michael Hayes, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center, speaking of water’s power. “With a drought, because it’s a limited resource, it tends to drive people apart.

Peter Gleick: Water and Misleading Advertising and Marketing—Where are the FDA and FTC?

Consumers can find water “ionizers,” vibrationally charged interactive water, energy enhanced water infused with luck or love, weight-loss waters, super-oxygenated water machines, magnetized water, rhythm-structured water, and on and on. Many of these are described in detail in my new book “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.” They are just some of the magical bottled waters and devices pushed on ignorant consumers or people with real health concerns who don’t know where else to turn for help.

Pseudoscientific claims for bottled waters can be found in brochures, health stores, and magazines, and especially on the Internet. As use of the Internet has exploded, we are seeing a proliferation of websites that make explicit, unsubstantiated, outlandish, and often blatantly fraudulent claims about the health benefits of bottled waters. And we’re sucking it up by the gallon.

Water Number: 115 liters of bottled water, per person, per year. Twenty years ago, Americans drank around one gallon (under 4 liters) of bottled water a year, mostly from office coolers. Today, on average each American drinks around 30 gallons (115 liters) each year, mostly from single-serve plastic bottles that we throw away. Why? There are many reasons, also discussed in the new book. But one of them is intensive advertising and marketing to move us off of tap water and onto commercial products.

Auto dealers’ exemption from new financial rules gains support

As Congress formally began the process of merging Senate and House versions of massive financial regulatory overhaul legislation, the Senate on Monday voted to instruct its negotiators to largely exempt auto dealers from oversight by a new government agency designed to protect consumers from shady lending.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who will be one of the key negotiators on the final bill, opposed the exemption. He noted the strong opposition by top Pentagon officials, who have written senators in recent weeks opposing the amendment. Those officials said the military receives frequent complaints about auto dealers who take advantage of service members.

Rising home sales likely to cool despite low rates

The tax credit is now gone. And economists caution that Americans are facing so many financial obstacles that falling rates alone won't be enough to lift the housing market.

"Although mortgage rates have fallen sharply, the combination of high unemployment, heavy indebtedness and tight credit suggest to us that demand will stumble," said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics.

The big question facing the housing market is what happens now that the government's tax credits have expired.

"What really matters right now is consumer confidence and job growth and home prices not going down much from here," said Josh Levin, a homebuilding analyst at Citigroup Inc. "That really matters a lot more than rates."

Oil falls below $70 as risk aversion returns

Oil fell below $70 a barrel on Tuesday on growing concern that Europe's debt crisis would derail the global economic recovery, prompting investors to sell riskier assets in a flight to dollar safety.

"The fact that the dollar is strengthening is a sign of risk aversion and deleveraging. People are moving away from crude oil," Nunan said, adding that Fibonacci chart analysis showed prices would head toward $66.24.

Venezuela Plans To Lift Oil Output By 300,000 Barrels A Day

This Wall Street Journal article is behind a pay wall but if you copy and paste the above byline into the Google search box it will bring up the entire article.

The country will see "an important jump around the end of the year: about 300,000 barrels a day," Chavez said, according to a statement from the president's office. He didn't say from what fields the new production would come from or what companies may be involved.

Venezuela’s old fields are in terminal decline but the famous “Orinoco Belt Bitumen” is the future hope of Venezuela. I cannot find anything on current production from the bitumen but I suspect it is already underway. And they could very easily produce 300,000 barrels per day but I doubt they could do it by the end of the year.

Venezuela is already set to totally ignore OPEC quotas. In fact they are doing that right now. When OPEC announced deep cuts after the oil price collapse in 2008, Venezuela had cut over 200,000 barrels per day by February of 2009. But last month, according to OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report, they produced slightly more that they produced in July 2008, the OPEC peak. They are now obviously producing flat out. Chavez offers a feeble excuse for ignoring OPEC quotas:

"Yes, OPEC has quotas," Chavez said. "But there are OPEC countries that aren't able to fulfill their quotas because their production (capacity) went down."

Got that? Because some OPEC countries are past their peak and unable to produce their quota, Chavez has elected Venezuela to take up their slack. Chavez’ decision to totally ignore OPEC quotas will likely strains their relations with other OPEC countries, perhaps to the breaking point.

But one can see Chavez’s point. Venezuela has a huge source of new oil now that the price is high enough to make oil recovery from the bitumen economical. And they have an unlimited source of water from the Orinoco River as well as millions of acres of pristine wilderness into which they can dump their tailings. And they also have vast reserves of natural gas for cooking the bitumen.

Venezuela’s oil production peaked in 1970 at 3,708,000 barrels per day and they are currently producing about 1.5 million barrels per day below that number.

A slightly different version of the above article, not behind a pay wall can be found here:
Chavez Says Venezuelan Oil Output Will Resume Growth (Update2)

A footnote: I expect the coming financial collapse to cause oil prices to drop dramatically. Among oil producing nations, especially OPEC nations, it will be every rat for himself. OPEC will likely completely dissolve.

Ron P.

I called the break up of OPEC in 2008, but I didn't account for the financial collapse which put the cartel on CPR. As soon as spare capacity goes away and they can no longer greatly influence the market, their raison de etre is greatly diminished.

Guess Venezuela is following a basic electronics function, FIFO. First In First Out. An apt analogy as this applies to registers.

In our neck of the woods FIFO also means 'Fit in, or F*%k off.' :-)

Your english is very good for a North Korean.

El Jefe is in a panic. Oil has kept him on his throne but a crash is going to kick him out, especially as production has been rocky after his 'nationalizations' and deals with China and Russia.

There is an election coming in September 2010.

Orinoco extra-heavy is not like tar sands but is a gooey molassas/peanut butter like substance and it is buried deep. It's not something that Hugo can crank up and down at will.

The one often repeated mistake is assuming they think like us. They do and they don't. Venezuelans like all the material comforts we do, but they seem to have more solidarity as a community and as a nation. A socialist attitude is inherent and preferred to liberal capitalism. I know, I've lived there, I've been married to a Venezuelana, and yes, they can be as crazy as they say.

No amount of U.S. demagoguery is going to convince the Venezuelans differently. I don't know who gave Chavez the moniker El Jefe, but I'm pretty sure it was meant to create animosity.

I highly recommend traveling through parts of the country, but stay out of Caracas - it's as bad as they say. And, make sure to wear a Canadian flag. Americans will be disparaged as gringo ricos, or worse. I often heard this pejorative come my way under someone's breath, but when I informed them I am Canadianse I became their best friend. I recommend everyone give the Chavez thing a rest, you're repeating propaganda and misinformation - everything the CIA would like you to believe.

It's pretty clear to me that the US failed attempt at a coup was an inept move to try to gain control of the rich resources of this land. It is now mandatory that Chavez be held up as the Great Satan even as Castro had to be when he went against US wishes and, even worse, survived that other infamously and grandly inept attempt at a coup.

But most in the US, including, it seems even many (most?) on this forum, simply accept the official propaganda with not a whiff of skepticism about why this particular leader, out of all the dozens of truly execrable national leaders in the world, is held up for special contempt by the Empire.

Of course, some regular posters here are without a doubt part of the propaganda machine--how could it be otherwise?

Damn, you are on to me Dohboi. How did you find out I was part of the conspiracy?

Anyway, the coup will succeed next time. We have plans, yes we have plans and this time they will work. Well, unless some very smart person like yourself spills the beans and exposes our conspiracy.

Ron P.

And again, it will not be televised.

Thanks doiboy.

"Employees of a federal agency ... and used government computers to view pornography," First the SEC now this, why aren't there filters to prevent this? Is it generally accepted for employees in the US to do whatevert they like?

Is it generally accepted for employees in the US to do whatevert they like?

No, they're generally required to limit their activities to those which reproduce the existing social order.

This is an inflammatory accusation. For all we know, they could have been looking at someone else's baby pictures of the kids in the bath tub. My wife just sent pictures of my 6-year old niece and 2-year old nephew in the bath tub together and they are (hide your eyes) naked from the waist up - she made them sit down. But by U.S. definitions, it's porno!

Its so hard to avoid everything that could be considered pornography these days. Especially in the hypocritical, puritanical U.S. where one can show people being blown away in full blood and gore detail with the CSI team going over the remains in witty banter, but all hell breaks loose should a 34-year old nipple be shown on network TV for 0.8 seconds. It could have been a search that linked to some kind of porno site.

They only bring this crappola up when they are out to lynch somebody.

There was a picture posted in yesterday's drumbeat which would have had TOD banned from my workplace, except we stopped paying the net monitoring subscriptions. (And as the only IT employee left, I would simply re-instate it...).

That said, it spoilt my lunch.

I suspect it was my post and I understand why it might have spoiled anyone's lunch.
To be clear I obviously don't think it is a picture that deserves to be banned anywhere?

Is it a deeply disturbing picture? Yes very much so. I think it underscores the worst that we as a society do to ourselves.

It think it should be posted above every water cooler in every office and above the drive through at every fast food joint across the land.

We all need to be discussing the ugly truth, whether it be our food addictions, our addiction to all kinds of excessive consumption as consumers or our addiction to oil and everything that that entails including the oils spill in the Gulf.

We all need to take a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror and recognize that we have a problem, no, many problems.

Pretending that everything is just fine doesn't cut it anymore!

If you think that picture was offensive then you should see some of the things I've seen first hand, my guess is you wouldn't be able to stop puking.

Was it deeply disturbing? Sure was. But just as comedians glean their best material from their own lives, we need to be introspective. I see this kind of obesity all over the place - it's simply amazing. Of course it is also a metaphor for all the other excesses of our time. We need to see ourselves in stark light more regularly. Thanks you for posting it.


I didn't say I found it offensive, even if it did put me off my lunch. But I was commenting on what is normal workplace policy in the UK on what sort of image is acceptable on-line viewing. The automated software systems do not put images into context (and certainly not swearwords). Of course there is the option to override the software, but sometimes it even bans UK 'broadsheet' media sites on content.

The UK is very politically correct. Obesity is not in itself banned, scanty dressing is frowned upon, the combination would be seen as deliberately provocative and therefore banned as a default. TOD is primarily an oil and energy site. That sort of image is not obviously linked to that topic, even if it did fit the thread.

Ralph, I understand. I also readily admit to pushing the envelope, of what might be considered proper, upon occasion. Often with a twinkle in my eye, though not in this particular case.

On a side note, at one time I worked for a software company, installing their products on customer's networks, usually through remote logon. I actually had a few customers who were accountants in London. Yes, I'd say they were a bit on the conservative side...

Having said that, I did find your comment about reinstating your own privileges should they be revoked rather amusing. Especially since I now have my own business and don't have to worry about what I pull up on my computer screen as long as it doesn't bring a virus into my system.


The UK will never out-politically correct the US. Over there it's "the Fat Controller"... over here, he's Sir Topham Hatt. 8*P

(In best effort British accent) Sir, I beg to differ! (I'm actually reading a British comedy literature novel at the moment, so I have to keep these voices in my head - and my original pedigreed family owned a substantial part of London back in the day but lost it for taking sides with William the Conqueror).

Back to the point... I think Maygar's image is wholly appropriate. The real challenge is not technology, science, or technology, but habits, customs and accepted behaviours (note British spelling ;-). All the rest does not change until we change this aspect, and the way to do it is to shame and exemplify the gross behaviours that are at the root of the consumption and expectations. The times I've heard people of my parent's generation recommend a restaurant because the portions are so large...

As technocrati we tend to get blinders, or have blind spots to the social aspects of the situation. We can be very right-brained and fail to see that "The enemy is us." Maybe I'm the odd one out. I can appreciate a Monet, Manet, or Renoir while appreciating an elegant partial-diff solution, or mathematical elegance (i.e. WHT's work on maximum entropy as I've been going down the same path without 1/10th the mathematical ability).

I don't know if its the chicken or the egg, but you see a common thread here. Large people, large vehicles, large homes, and all are unhealthy. Now don't mistake me for a proselytizer because I've got a lot of catchin' up to do with the health nuts in this province; and the doctor has instructed me more than once to lose weight (curse of the ex-semi-pro athlete I guess, tired of running in circles and pushing oneself to the breaking point daily). In communal life shame is the greatest method of maintaining desired behaviours, maybe we need to be much less politically correct and save the species.

Note, Canada is a close second to Britain in the PC department.

Magyar, I agree we need to have the ugly truth mercilessly put before us like Clock Work Orange. About 20 years ago my wife and I walked into a Sizzler in Michigan to get our dinner before hitting the road for our long weekend trip to Northern Ontario (we cut through MI from SW Ontario). There was a woman of even larger proportions sitting at a table taking up two chairs while the husband and daughter sat on the other side. There were three empty plates on the table and she had #4 before her.

We both lost our appetite, turned on our heals and left. I've never been to an all-you-can-eat place again and probably wouldn't take a ship cruise for the same reasons. We are going to live to rue the day of the all you can eat buffet as a very dark part of our history soaked in gluttony.

But, that doesn't mean people can't eat well. I've just finished reading "A Year In Provence" for the third time and those French know how to eat, and eat well. I think it is the epitome of human civilization to wake every morning and ponder what the meals will be through the day. Not worry or struggle, but just ponder what is in season, which gourmand par excellence is available, and to match it with the appropriate wines and aperitifs, and then to finish the day with the mind, body and soul satiated and resplendent.

I can guarantee one thing, there won't be any DQ ice cream cakes on the menu...

I think it is the epitome of human civilization to wake every morning and ponder what the meals will be through the day.

Many in New Orleans do that every day.

The four seasons are:

- Crab season
- Shrimp season
- Oyster season
- Crawfish season

Soon, perhaps in another week, we will be down to just crawfish season (and that does not start till mid-November !).

We do have a different spirit about it than the French; more lusty and less refined. Often beer instead of wine, and tradition (red beans and rice on Monday, which we do quite well) plays a larger role. Perhaps unfortunately, American size portions (for we once lived in abundance).

The classic discussion while eating is about where and what to eat.

My favorite is when a friend and I went into a "soul food" restaurant. My friend and I were likely the only ones there that used suntan lotion. The special of the day was pig's feet and white beans (quite good BTW). As we ate I told him about the every October truffle specials at Bacco's and the difference between white and black truffles.

So as we ate the world's cheapest foodstuff's, we talked about the world's most expensive food stuff. But it was all New Orleans and all quite authentic.

Best Hopes for Good Eating, and the Four Seasons,


Alan and BC_EE,

Oui, mes amis, a votre santé! bon appétit! ...

et tu tambien (sorry, but my French has got quite poor).

Alan brought up a good point about good food. I know its good when after the meal other good food still smells appetizing and I can think about meals to come.

FYI Alan, black people use suntan lotion. My wife is Jamaican and burns as easily as I do.

There is a strong tendency towards 'individual freedoms' here compared to some cultures, which leads to a 'You ain't the boss of me' attitude, even towards one's boss.

But hey, viewing porn on the company machine.. some countries get to be blase' about affairs and mistresses.. you've got to leave us old puritans with a little bit of pathetic, addictive joy.

For the truly pathetic time/resource wasters, I want to see how many PCs out there in office-land are running Minesweeper and Solitaire right now. (I'm not immune myself, but my video-game porn happens to have a pumpjack at the top of the page)

There may actually have been filters, but what you've got to bear in mind that whilst you can black-list constant-address pornographic sites, on other sites that sometimes contain images that could be classed as pornographic (eg, facebook, newspaper websites disapproving of some starlets dress that they just have to show you, etc) you can at most rely on simple feature detection (large amountss of skin tone pixels, anatomical features, etc) to block naked people. How much overlap there is between partially clothed humans and pictures one would call pornographic (which may not involve nakedness) is debatable. That's sort of the argument against automated filtering on, eg, machines in libraries: the technology can't work reliably for pornographic filtering short of fairly powerful AI that doesn't exist yet whilst there have been cases of filtering companies silently blacklisting websites that anger their business or political agendas. Better to have humans looking over shoulders occasionally to detect unacceptable usage.

This is illustrated by a story from years ago about a lab tech woman who was called in front of the management due to a large number of her web searches triggering the pornography web filter. She was apparently trying to keep up with her specialism of "X"-ray imaging... real kinky stuff :-)

I had a search on XXX genetic syndrome banned by out web filtering...

A very interesting and comprehensive (481 pages) PhD by Dr. Alicia Valero: Exergy Evolution of the mineral capital on Earth

Similarly, for non-renewables, we estimated the resource to production ratio. We came to the important conclusion that vast amounts of energy resources are available on earth, especially of renewable nature. However, we are currently using less than 2% of its potential. On the other hand, we have estimated that the reserves of concentrated fuel and non fuel minerals, which can be practically used by man, represent only 0,01% of the chemical exergy of the earth. Furthermore, their global R/P ratio excluding nuclear materials, is less than 100 years. Hence, humankind is not facing an energy crisis, as many claim, but rather a material’s scarcity.

What do you think about this conclusion?

Looks about right.

Of course, there is also that other part about the impact of overloading sinks with dispersed material.

In the end, we have the familiar dilemma of finding the appropriate mix of government and market driven means to overcome the inertia of habit; in this case the many bad habits that hydrocarbons have facilitated.

One government policy that I would favour would require anyone wishing to hold a valid driver's license to spend one month per year displacing hydrocarbon use in food production. From strategic defecation to pulling weeds, a wide range of opportunities would await the driver.

I haven't read the piece but my initial thoughts are that she is getting the materials part right but she might be underestimating the value to our civilization of the energy density of the energy sources we use.

Plus, we get those low concentration minerals that are left only by using much more energy. Collecting and concentrating the diffuse energy resources available to capture ever-small concentrations of minerals is our fate until the already-extracted metals take less energy to use than the below-ground ones. At that point, we will be dismantling our skyscrapers to obtain their steel.

We can already see the beginnings of the Salvage Society starting as people around the world pick over garbage dumps and thieves steal copper and aluminum from abandoned (and sometimes not abandoned) buildings and transmission lines.

Stages of Technic Societies

But before we have fully become a Salvage Society, we move into what Greer calls Scarcity Industrialism. We will still have machines doing a lot of work because fossil fuels, though getting more expensive in real terms, will still be available in large quantities and will do things human or animal labor can't do (i.e. running an airplane). But increasingly human labor will do more and more jobs.

I call the period we have entered the Scarcity Economy. However, it should be noted that one of the few things that will not be scarce is human labor. We are going to have so much of that available we will pull our hair out trying to figure out ways to use it all, if only to keep down civil unrest.

Again, I haven't read the paper so please treat my comments about her conclusions as off-the-cuff remarks.

But increasingly human labor will do more and more jobs.

aangel, I agree with your observation that we are going to struggle to find work for people. We are currently in a situation where many potential employers, both large and small, are reluctant to add workers. The only way out for many, is to "start your own business" despite the low odds of succeeding in this economy. One hundred years ago, people might have retreated to the family farm to wait out the economic downturn but that is no longer an option for most. You may no longer be drawing a paycheck but there are still bills to be paid and food to put on the table.

So, my guess is that as long as there is some semblance of a social safety net -- and the politicians don't have any choice but to keep this going as long as they can, frayed as it might become -- there won't be a rush to replace machine labor with human labor. That isn't going to happen until people become very desperate.

I largely agree with you...especially because we still will often have the machines readily available to do the work and the fuel to run them. It will take quite a few years before a company using a significant degree of human labor will viably be able to compete against a company that still has machines and fuel.

I make this caution repeatedly in The UnCrash Course in the session on Skills. Many participants see the end game — lots of human labor in our future — but miss the part between now and then, the transition period. They believe, mistakenly, in my view, before the session that industrious hands and creativity will be sufficient to carry them through. I point out several other factors I think they should consider.

Long before we get there, the economy will have gone into a death spiral.

The economy runs on the assumption that there will be more and more of pretty much everything pretty much every year. Even with oil just leveling off for a couple years, we have the deepest global recession since the great depression. As the realization starts dawning on more and more people, especially people on Wall Street, that endless growth is not in the cards, all investment capital will vanish.

There will be no more money to do pretty much anything.

We got merely a distant whiff of that in '07. The next bumps down will get more and more brutal and affect more and more people.

Don't get me wrong--Having a wide array of skills is a really good idea. But pretty much all interactions that require any significant sums of money will be severely curtailed, IMVHO.

I believe this may already be happening, at least in some industries. In the Southern US there used to be highly automated textile mills that have gone belly up because of foreign sweat shops that could undersell them with ultra-cheap labor, even though their factories were not so automated. I don't know about other industries and probably need to research the textile mill angle. This is the story I got when I used to live in the South.

I dabble via a small at-home business in the design / packaging / labelling game ... and this week I attended an Australian Manufacturing Conference (Trade Show). A staggering array of machines to do just about everything (from printing, binding, producing and mailing books, through to bagging sawdust, milling steel, sorting fruit, sealing milk bottles, to cutting, frying, packing, and labelling potato chips). All of these machines are high tech, very expensive, and all designed to eliminate all forms of human labour, and of course human foibles.

But the elephant in the room for all these buyers and sellers remains "China" (as a somewhat generic term for cheap labour in all SE Asia countries). Australia's manufacturing competitiveness HAS to rely on the elimination of labour from the equation - you cannot compete paying $20.00+ per hour versus ... whatever a low-level Chinese factory worker gets paid.

I don't know where it's all going at all.

...their global R/P ratio excluding nuclear materials, is less than 100 years...

Is it even worth looking into an analysis done on a 100-year threshold? How much does this really mean? Isn't it sensible to stop looking very hard for stuff - and therefore not log much in the way of reserves - once one has found "enough" for many fewer than 100 years? (As an extreme example, a retailer probably won't have much in the way of accounts receivable even just a few minutes into the future, but that hardly means Walmart is sure to be out of business by tomorrow morning.)

Will this be the end of BP?

I would think that even though industry owns Govt, public cries of outrage and retribution will force real and punitive action to pay for the mess just beginning to unfold.

The crumbs under the carpet does not seem to be working anymore. (I guess it depends on the mud and garbage shoot)


I have thought this for some time. Useful assets folded into a rival company and the bills laid at the feet of you-know-who. Good chance.

Highly Doubtful. If the US launched an all all attack on BP's assets, BP would just fold up shop in the US and retreat to its vastly profitable foreign assets. Its very unlikely the US is going to attack BP's assets anyway. This will end where it always has, years in the court system. BP may try to do everything it believes can right the situation, but that won't stop certain groups from demanding it all. Congress however, probably won't take much direct action in light of the recession. Crippling the one industry (because they;d never be able to limit their destructiveness to just BP) that still employees a huge amount of people in the midwest would kneecap the country for a decade or more.

GregTx you are right on the money. Plus, BP will do fairly well, all things considered. The fix is on. This is old news, already posted on TOD, but worth scrutiny:


Agreed. BP, even in the US, is not a single company, but a set of companies, some that are real businesses (eg, BP Exploration Inc) and some that are merely holding companies. Such a structure can provide a great deal of protection to assets. Note that where the details of the various lawsuits have been published, the list of defendants with "BP" in their name is lengthy: BP Exploration, BP America, and BP PLC to start with. Proving negligence on the part of BP Exploration sounds more and more like it's going to be straightforward; proving it for the holding companies will be much more difficult.

What if this stuff shows up in the British Virgin Islands? Would not a British citizen living on the island then have cause of action against BP in EU court? I know the EU role in member nations environmental issues is still being developed, but I know they have studied oil spills and incidents in particular? Something tells me BP is not going to be able to hide as easily on this one.

IANAL (although I admit to an odd fascination with the "logic puzzle" aspects of the law in some individual cases), but it seems to me that this would be difficult at best. In addition to establishing that the EU court had jurisdiction (rather than a BVI or UK or US court), so far as I know the EU and UK laws on the limited liabilities of holding companies are similar in spirit to those of the US. Which is to say, absent evidence the holding company was directly involved in the operations of the subsidiary, they have no liability beyond the assets represented by the shares they hold.

If the government wants to go after a company that company is toast.

The reason nobody will go after companies is because the companies own government(s).

America is still a superpower, it has not only lawyers and courts but a very large economy, large physical and financial resources, allies all over the world and massive military capacity ... with combat experience. The USA could snuff out BP and all of its underlings in a heartbeat and there is nowhere for that company or its 'executives' to run and hide to. All that is lacking is the will.

BP is running and hiding right now! The Gulf effort is a gaggle of contractors, the 'executives' in the media are expendible fronts. If the spill continues BP's public face will vanish. BP knows what can happen if the stars are not in alignment even if the hopeful citizens don't.

BP trades in dollars and these dollars reside in banks worldwide. See how the IRS stripped secrecy from European (Swiss and others) banks to illuminate tax evaders. The world banking system would sell out BP in a nanosecond, particularly if there is some 'help' on the way from the Federal Reserve or the Treasury Department.

If the US can 'rendition' cab drivers and academics it can certainly do the same with business executives. Six months incommunicado in a tropical hideaway under terrorism 'suspicions' and said executives would be pleased to sign over every single asset they have under their control including their own underwear and socks. Rendition and suspension of habeas corpus are perfectly legal under current US law, all that is required is for the President to name a person or organization a threat to national security.

The only obstacle is the lack of seriousness on the part of the current administration.

EDIT: the administration will indicate its seriousness when it rams a $5 or $6 per gallon gasoline tax through Congress. It's past time to get at the root of the problem.

The USA could snuff out BP and all of its underlings in a heartbeat and there is nowhere for that company or its 'executives' to run and hide to. All that is lacking is the will.

Well ... even the mighty USA is subject to national state sovereignty and international law ... unless you are envisaging crack US troops occupying drilling rigs and banks all round the world. A fairly silly statement - on the face of it.

"crack US troops occupying drilling rigs and banks all round the world"

It is a silly vision, given that the US is owned by the owners of those banks and rigs. But it is quite a fantasy of justice. These folks are engaged in enormously damaging activities and should be seen as global criminals.

Of course, most Americans are complicit to a greater or lesser degree. Perhaps sending some of those troops to SUV sale rooms?

If the government wants to go after a company that company is toast.

By definition - corporations are creatures of The State. It used to be corporations had limited lifespans and purposes and The State used to be able to shut 'em down.

This is absolutely correct. The United States government holds every single corporation that does business in that country by the entrails.

The government allows corporations to act in their own interest rather than otherwise. The long period of neglect and the disfunction of government suggests that corporate interests are inviolable. This is a fiction.

Governments operate at the next level of authority relative to businesses. The connections by treaty, tradition and policy exchange are far stronger than the connections of corporations to governments or to each other. Great Britain sent its soldiers to die in Iraq alongside Americans for historical and political reasons, not for Halliburton or Bechtel.

BP could possibly survive an all- out legal and finance assault by the US government by repositioning some of its assets to North Korea ... but BP and all the other corporates lurking on American soil are strictly subordinate to the diktat of government. Overseas corporates are also subordinate as those governments would certainly choose to cooperate with Washington rather than shelter corporates who - in this instance - do not have any standing in public opinion.

Once the oil start washing ashore in the UK, France, Spain and Scandinavia there will be no safe haven for BP.

"Beyond Petroleum" - what rich irony is unfolding there!

I'm sure you meant, "Beached Petroleum".

All this indignant outrage about the spill is hilarious. Is anyone on this site really surprise that an off-shore well finally broke?

Space Shuttles, Nuclear Power Plants, Toyota Priuses, and Off-Shore oils wells will fail again.

This spill is not even close to causing the same environmental devastation that burning 85 millions barrels of oil, unknown quantities of coal, and of course, all that "Clean Burning Natural Gas" causes. The only bummer is that the well isn't in the middle of the Potomac.

Well, I'm glad someone finds something about this "hilarious."

Just because there are grander tragedies unfolding around us, it does not make this a non-tragedy.

End of BP? Remember the slow, televised, train wreck of Exxon and the Valdez? Exxon's demise seemed such a certainty that even Exxon was selling off prized assets, like semiconductor companies that were hugely profitable ( Zilog etc) .

Newsflash, Exxon is still here and BP is a magnitude larger even in todays dollars.

Wait for BP stock to drop a bit more and then buy.

So the Dow is now down well below 10,000. Is the drop in oil price just following that, or is there an independent dynamic affecting oil?

My gut says the markets sense a hard contraction is in the works. This combination can't be good news.

Neither. Oil is not just following the equities market and there is no independent dynamic affecting oil. There is a dynamic affecting oil but it is far from being independent of the general market. The dynamic that is affecting the equities market is the very same dynamic that is affecting the oil market. That dynamic is the fear of a total economic collapse.

If the economy collapses then the demand for oil will collapse as well. It is as simple as that.

Ron P.

Speaking of collapse...

A Parable - The Lizard and the Fire

Fire season has usually started by now and burning brush is not only unsafe but also illegal. However, we have had unusual weather this winter (in fact we had snow flurries this past Saturday in coastal northern California). In any case, yesterday was a burn day and I had some new brush to burn.

Toward the end of the burn, a lizard came up and tried to go through the ashes. Like other animals, even lizards know where "home" is. I shooed it away but it kept trying to go "home." The last I saw it was on the edge of the ashes looking toward where it wanted to go.

This reminded me of how society is responding to the ongoing collapse. Rather than accept that the old paradigms which lead to the collapse have failed, people keep returning to those very paradigms. They are trying to go "home" but "home" no longer exists.


Ron: To me it appears that the economy is entering the beginning of a period, hopefully fairly short, of deflationary depression. The ZeroHedge Fund sent out an alarming warning that their opinion is that in 6 to 9 months, the reduced availability of money will force the government(s) to use everything in their playbook to create inflation. The likely result would be, of course, hyperinflationary depression. Not much better, but not as bad for the little guy. Also, it monetizes the national debt, effectively defaulting but without the honesty involved in just saying, "Hey! We're broke. Can't pay you. Sorry about that."

I don't have any idea with this does to various safety nets, pensions, social security, or anything else. I would say we are heading somewhere we have never been, and it is a scarey thing to anticipate.

Good luck to you and yours.




It won't to to that url unless you post it with "alert" running into "major" with no line or space between.
For those who need to know, QE means quantitative easing programme. Printing money, in a word.

Craig, thanks for the post. The economy scares me to death right now but I know that hyper inflation must eventually take over all the economies of the developed world. That is regardless of the current deflationary period. When more money is borrowed than can possibly be paid back then that debt will automatically be inflated away. That is the only option.

Here is your link fixed so that it works.

Bob Janjuah: "This Is An Uber Bear Early Warning Alert...Major Risk Asset Sell Off Will See S&P Into 800s...The Fed Will Start New $5Tr QE Program"

It is really quite easy to post URLs this way. Just type:
[a href="Your URL Goes Here"]Your Title Goes Here[/a]

But replace the brackets [ brackets ] with chevrons < chevrons >. And don't forget to put a space between the a and href. And the quotation marks must be the simple kind "quotation" not the other slanted kind as in “open then close quotation marks”.

Ron P.

Thanx, Ron! I will use that.


BTW - that article is nonsense. Anyone who thinks that QE will do much of anything other than change a few interest rates simply doesn't understand the operations of the monetary system.

Not that the economy might not collapse, of course - but it won't be for the reasons he says.

...the reduced availability of money will force the government(s) to use everything in their playbook to create inflation. The likely result would be, of course, hyperinflationary depression.

I still fail to see the mechanism by which a serious inflationary spiral gets started. Somehow, the government has to put large amounts of money in people's hands. Not debt, which is what much of current policy is trying to do, but actual money that can be spent and need not be repaid. As Milton Friedman originally noted, dropping big enough bails of cash into people's yards from helicopters eventually works. But such an approach meets my criterion: no one has to repay the bundles of cash.

Labor is as a much a "good" in the economy as anything else, and an inflationary spiral requires that the price for labor increase along with everything else. I would argue that the transmission mechanism in the late 70s was multi-year union contracts. Guaranteed raises of 5% per year drove the wage side; there were enough union jobs that even non-union companies had to go along in order to keep their best employees; then businesses added the increased labor cost to the price of their goods. Classic spiral. But unions are a lot smaller and a lot less powerful than they were 30-40 years ago.

Show me the mechanism that is going to drive median and below wages up along with other prices and I'll buy rapid inflation as a possibility. Without that, I just don't see it happening.

I still fail to see the mechanism by which a serious inflationary spiral gets started. Somehow, the government has to put large amounts of money in people's hands.

How's this for a mechanism. China/Japan stops buying US debt/bonds. Interest rates on bonds climb because no one want to purchase our risky debt. As both the interest rate and the amount of US debt grow to unsustainable levels, we are left with a simple choice. Default or inflate. We will inflate by essentially printing money to send off to China and Japan to repay our debt. Its pretty simple to inflate the currency and increase the money supply. A couple of keystrokes and we pay off our entire debt to China, easy as that.

Precisely my view. The initial problem will be the deflationary wave now beginning; as debt becomes untenable, lenders will pull out and no one will purchase our debt. The bubble in bonds pops, and inflation begins as the gov't, knowing it cannot pay and not wanting to do the honest thing and simply default, primes the pump and starts printing dollars like crazy. We would have inflation now, except that all the money went to the wealthy, who purchased bonds! Strangely ironic, IMO.

It is actually the velocity of money that creates inflation. Right now, it is staying in the hands of the "haves," who hold it. Give to the poor the money that was given to the wealthy in the past 2 years, and inflation would be in the 33% range already. Not that they spend money more or less wisely; just that they spend it. That would drive inflation!

Again: the bubble today is US Bonds!

Good luck to us all!


Give to the poor the money that was given to the wealthy in the past 2 years, and inflation would be in the 33% range already. Not that they spend money more or less wisely; just that they spend it. That would drive inflation!

But now you're back to exactly the question that I originally posed. Describe a plausible policy -- ie, fits within current statute or is likely to be passed by Congress and signed by the President -- that puts a large and steadily increasing stream of spendable cash into the hands of the poor and middle class.

No one doubts that an ongoing helicopter drop will create inflation. My question is how such a drop could plausibly be arranged. The "ongoing" is an important qualifier. If you do it once, you've devalued the currency. That's a quite different thing than an inflationary spiral. Countries manage devaluations on a relatively routine basis without triggering inflation.

One gray swan to make it more interesting though. Last time the USA had rapid inflation, Richard Nixon slapped on price controls. That kinda sorta hides the problem temporarily as long as international trade is not terribly important, since in that case you're forcing domestic firms to eat it. You cause shortages but they may be bearable at the outset. And that's more or less how it was in Nixon's day.

But here's the kicker - times have changed. The moment inflation takes off, gasoline and diesel take off with it, 'cos oil is mostly imported these days. And maybe speculators, fearing the worst (with some justification given the nature of politicians), assist the takeoff - they can, after all, move prices in the short term. So maybe, in a panic, you slap on price controls à la Nixon - but foreign oil sources and foreign speculators are simply outside Uncle Sam's jurisdiction. So the fuels become so unavailable that 1970s even-odd rationing and the like don't help a bit. So maybe after everything grinds to a halt you (mostly) take the controls off again. Either way, the tourist "industry" and a raft of other things tank.

Not saying it can't happen, politicians are stupid that way, especially if the right (i.e. wrong) sort of populism takes hold, but the politician who does it will be playing with matches in a fireworks factory.

That dynamic is the fear of a total economic collapse.

Rather simplistic, and certainly yet more doomer fear-mongering. The equity markets (and the indexes thereof) are a reasonably subtle but accurate aggregation of a lot of information and expectation about a lot of markets. I suggest the Dow Jones will find 8,000 before it finds 12,000, but hardly "total economic collapse" as we know it.

Perhaps money is being destroyed.

Another constraint on the repair and expansion of roads:
Lack of Paint

Excerpts from Lack of Paint article:

A shortage of traffic striping paint is leading to layoffs and could bring some road projects to a halt this spring and summer, officials said Monday, May 24.
. . .

The Associated General Contractors of America said the paint shortage stems from low supplies of several different key ingredients, including titanium dioxide, which makes white paint reflective.
. . .

“In all likelihood, it’s going to impact Ohio, because it’s a nationwide shortage,” said Brian Deery, senior director, highway and transportation division for ACG of America. According to the 33,000-member industry trade group, there is about half as much paint as there would normally be, so states must find ways to ration it effectively.

One strategy to limit paint use is to paint the lane-dividing lines not worry as much about the lines on the shoulders.

This all seems to be tied in with the issue of mineral shortages, as resources deplete, and as oil gets into shorter and shorter supply. The plan to fix a huge number of roads, all at the same time, as part of the stimulus program exacerbated the problem.

I am not sure about forgetting to use the paint for shoulder lines. It is helpful to know where the edge of the road is at night.

"Climate Fears Turn to Doubts Among Britons"

"A survey in February by the BBC found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,” "

Of course, the key word here is "belief".

Never let it be said that facts form the basis of decisionmaking in today's world. It is heading for 90 degrees here today. I can believe all I want that it is cold outside, and dress in my winter woolies, only to end up cooking myself by lunchtime.

If I were to just step outside, however, and make a few basic observations for myself, I would *know* that it is likely to be 'stinkin' hot' today, and prepare accordingly.

Sadly, people today don't know how to do this, and so "beliefs" proliferate and scientific fact, based on meticulous observation, goes ignored.

I remember a while ago, just after the UK election, Johann Hari wrote in the Independent that more than 90% of newly elected Tory MPs didn't believe in anthropogenic global warming. Hari didn't refer to a source.

If what he wrote is true, I find it incredible that several Brits here thought the Tory victory was a sign of things turning around, for the better.

Yeah, there it is again. "Didn't believe in" - as if global warming were a religion, to be believed or disbelieved at will.

If some schmuck on the radio said this morning that the temperature here was 40 degrees F, I could pretty soon establish it as nonsense, as the evidence of my senses would tell me it is closer to 80 degrees.

Trouble is, most people are so far removed from the land, and so wrapped up in the "modern" world, they would barely recognize environmental changes if they got bitten on the rear end by them.

As reinforcement, I think back to a recent posting on Drumbeat regarding kids who never go outside. As far as they are concerned, the temperature is always 72 degrees. (or however the thermostat is set on the central air).

It's as if folks were to get up one morning and say "Today, I've decided I don't believe in Gravity. Let's go for a walk on a 40th story ledge." Yikes....call for the folks in the white coats...

It's as if folks were to get up one morning and say "Today, I've decided I don't believe in Gravity. Let's go for a walk on a 40th story ledge." Yikes....call for the folks in the white coats...

Well, at least you wouldn't be the only one... though I would recommend you call for the folks in the white coats *AND* the big butterfly nets!


Gravity deniers and the gravity of ignorance

Douglas Adams, in his Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, once suggested that falling was akin to an ingrained habit. If you could just forget about falling, you could defy gravity and fly...

Hehe...Dot had some interesting ideas.
"Intelligent Falling" - that's one to ponder with a long drink...


It seems to be pretty universal in the right wing press in the UK to spout this stuff. They seem pretty hostile to anything which might be termed science at the moment. Cultural cognition?


Conservative MPs will do what they are told (for the moment anyway) and what Cameron wants and he seems to be saying more or less what the previous government did on climate change.

1. We have just had the coldest winter in 30 years. People below a given level of scientific education find it difficult to separate out weather from climate. Also, the complication that global warming can also lead to local cooling accentuates this.

2. We have just suffered a massive anti-climate change propaganda barrage from the key players, particularly China and I suspect fossil fuel -funded campaigners in the West in the lead up to Copenhagen. The media has fully backed this campaign by massively exaggerating the all too human failings of a handful of researchers and minor errors in the IPCC report, all in the name of balanced reporting. (The glaring hole in the IPCC report based on hopelessly optimistic fossil fuel reserves of course is not mentioned).

3. In the UK, energy security is now a main stream issue, at least among the educated who actually think about the future. UK is facing a massive shortfall of electricity generating capacity against forecast demand growth (omitting that growth is not going to happen..) and our increasing dependance on oil and gas imports. This has lead to the inevitable conclusion that we will burn more coal (already happening) whilst the awkward fact that we are even more depleted in our coal reserves than oil or gas is currently met with stark disbelief. The net result is that the economy comes before the environment and 'burn baby burn!'.

4. Report after report comes out emphasising the increased cost of, inadequate reliability of, and the delayed deployment of renewable energy supplies. Most of these reports are directly funded by the nuclear industry, but no matter. The result is to further discredit 'environmentalists'.

However, we seem to be shaping up for a scorching summer, so there is hope yet ?

"However, we seem to be shaping up for a scorching summer, so there is hope yet ?"

The one thing nobody seems to be thinking about is what will people do during peak oil power outages, when the air conditioners are no longer operating reliably ?

Pretty soon, real climate observations are going to be entering every living room south of Greenland.

Locations that were marginally inhabitable before the advent of air conditioning, like much of the southern US, will become rather unpleasant for much of the year.

Bear in mind that 'scorching' in this context may be a relative term. Here in the UK the media will typically call any days over about 80F a 'heatwave'. None of the houses of friends and family I know have air conditioning, and neither do quite a few offices. Heating is another matter of course!

When I lived in London during the 1960s, there were newspaper headlines about Guardsmen keeling over from the heat. It was 69 degrees F.

Yeah, but consider that even in July those guys are so heavily dressed as to be comfortable at, oh, maybe 40 degrees F...

Can you imagine Atlanta or Mobile without air con?
They will be back to the agriculture backwaters of their former past.
And without the automobile, the ability for cultural and social fitness will be gone.

I think that is why NASCAR is worshiped in the South-- the automobile was such a liberating force.

Are you sure the worship doesn't come from the circular nature of NASCAR?

Baseball is all diamondy, and hockey and soccer require paying attention to both ends of the ice/field. Too complicated.

NASCAR: 150,000 hillbillies watching 50 hillbillies turn left.


Don't know where you live but the world just went through the fourth warmest Jan-Mar and the warmest March on record.

Yes it was the fourth warmest Jan-Mar and the warmest March on record, but that's on a global scale. On a regional scale there were places that had periods of record cold and/or record snowfall. The point RalphW was trying to make was that people see only the local, immediate weather and discount reports of climate on a global scale. He was not denying global warming if that is what you implying.

Agreeing with points 2-4 but how about

We have just had the coldest winter in 30 years

I rather doubt you can substantiate that assertion, unless you just mean "perceived". For example

The outlook is for 2010 to be the warmest (calendar) year on record. We have already logged the warmest 12 month period in recorded observations just last month.

The average briton follows the trends set by the media, nothing more. They don't actually "know" anything about climate change. That's why those ridiculously over the top accusations on the stolen emails were allowed to pass so easily.

The fact that we are on a small island surrounded by water in a cold part of the world that has frequent (i.e. hourly) changes in weather should probably clue people into the fact that England is not exactly a good barometer of the planet's annual temperature changes.

If it's any consolation, when the papers have finished with this round of climate bashing, that will be old news and the burning summer will make climate change "new" news again. Of course the politicians will still be behind the cycle so nothing will get done... but then that will hardly be "news" to anyone here.

Where is the Gulf oil slick now in relation to the LOOP? How long before it completely envelops the LOOP? What will that do to the US ability to import oil?

This map [PDF] shows the spill and loop.


Looks like 'silver sheen' is less than 15 miles away.

Louisiana to "Go It Alone" on (re)building Barrier Islands

The state has been waiting for permission from Corpse of Engineers (pun intended) to start dredging and creating sand barriers where barriers islands existed in historical times.

[The State of Louisiana Attorney General] Caldwell advised Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, commanding general of the Corps, that under the U.S. constitution the federal government does not have the legal authority to deny a state the right to conduct such emergency operations to protect its citizens and territory.

This is a DIRECT challenge that is likely to go directly to the Supreme Court. If the State of Louisiana starts dredging, will the feds use armed force to stop them (pending a court decision) ?


There is overwhelming local support for this.

Best Hopes for Barrier Islands,


P.S. Not what Obama's political advisers want to see.

I have no knowledge or education that would enable me to answer this question: Will placing new, artificial barrier islands beyond the coastal marsh areas negatively impact the marshes themselves? Do they depend on the energy of waves, the effect of tides? Might this block the oil but still destroy the ecosystem?

And isn't that what the USACE wants to figure out before they allow it?

Is this the first strike of many against the effectiveness of the Federal government, and the subsequent contraction of influence on the States? Me thinks so...

Can someone from the US please tell me how an American qualifies for food stamps? I am trying to get my head around how the number of claimants can have risen so much - is it perhaps because the qualification criteria have been lowered?

Many thanks

I'm pretty sure qualification varies from state to state. Stamps and Coupons have been replaced with Cards, so it is now called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program - SNAP.

Ohio's program factsheet

SNAP is a federally-funded program, administered by the states (the feds will pay administrative costs up to 5% of the benefits paid in the state). Eligibility standards are set by the feds, not the states. It's an entitlement program; if your income and assets are below the limits, you get the benefit. The level of benefit is calculated based on the number of people in the household and household income.

The number of recipients always increases during a recession. First, higher unemployment means that more people meet the income test. Second, in many parts of the country there's a stigma associated with taking "welfare" from the government. When household income gets tight enough, people are willing to take the assistance despite the stigma.

I personally think they should be issued to everyone---
It is going to happen anyway, probably, as we descend.

LOL. And everyone can get a job doing everyone else's washing, and mowing each other's lawns. What a way to run a railroad.

Here is the USDA webpage outlining eligibility requirements.

It looks like some requirements were lowered due to the stimulus bills passed last year. I am sure that with unemployment being so high, lots more people became eligible.

In Michael Moore's new movie "Capitalism - A Love Story", he interviews a couple of US airline pilots who qualify for food-stamps because their pay is so low (less than they would earn in McDonalds).

Funny you mention that movie as I had the misfortune of viewing it recently. I noted the music in the final credits was an english verison of "the Internationale", the early national anthem of the USSR and China and the song of choice of the Communist movement.


Micahel Moore is a joke. The best line in the whole movie was when Moore was standing outside the Stock Exchange on Wall Street, yelling at the exiting traders to explain derivatives to him. He yells at one, "Can you give me some advice?", and the wiseguy yells back "Yeah, stop making movies". That was priceless.

Micahel Moore is a joke

I tend to agree.

Here is a man who has made a very, very handsome living by taking on the 'capitalists' and being on the side of 'the blue collar worker' through his movies. Let's face it, Michael Moore has become obscenely wealthy by promoting the plight of the poor to a benign middle-class audience. He has done nothing else to alleviate their woes. If he really feels so bad for the poor disposed of America why has he not got the balls to stand for election?... errr.... well, it is much more lucrative to make porno-provocative films of 'his people'.

He reminds me of all the Union bosses here in the UK. All earning more than £100,000 per year, chauffeur driven car and up-market London apartment all payed for by those foolish enough to join the unions in the first place. And all the union chiefs are to a man - and it is always men - fat, well suited and well provisioned.

Moore sucks, his films maybe entertaining but he is a fraud.

You guys are piling onto an easy target. His style is coarse and 'unobjective', but you haven't shown me that his message is disingenuous. Why should he run for office to bear his message out? His targets have been pretty consistent, and he's reached a large audience. It's too easy to tap him for being successful at getting these themes across.

If you want to call him a fraud, you should have something to back it up with. So far, it's just name-calling, and makes you look worse for it than him.

Here's a bit from today's site... tell me what you really object to here.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) blocked an effort by a handful of Democrats Tuesday to establish an unlimited cap on damage claims that BP PLC and other companies would have to pay for spills, such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Republican said that eliminating a cap on damage claims "could very well shut out" even the biggest oil companies from drilling in U.S. coastal waters. He said that the cap, currently set at $75 million, "should be much higher" but that "plenty of time remains" to decide on an appropriate threshold.


Sometimes your mouth moves ahead of your brain, bro.

If you want to call him a fraud, you should have something to back it up with. So far, it's just name-calling, and makes you look worse for it than him.

Here's a bit from today's site... tell me what you really object to here.

I object to a man who is making millions of dollars making films - and posting blogs - while posing as the voice of disenfranchised America. He is rich, stupidly rich, and yet chastises the very environment which affords him that wealth. That is the definition of a money-grabbing hypocrite.

Now, if he were a Gandhi, M.L. King or even Jesus Christ I would have time for him. Each of these chaps backed up their words and sermons with action. They lived the life; they were the change they wanted to see.

Moore is just a fat money-grabbing oik who may once have had a message but has since sold out to his wallet. Where is Moore's political movement? All he has is his movie distribution company.

And 90% of radio stations in the USA are right-wing and generate large incomes for a select few. Those same people project all ills of society on George Soros, Michael Moore, Al Gore, and a few others (because people can only keep track of 7 +/- 2 bullet points at a time).

Moore could be an opportunist, but he can also take the heat. Why else would he include the sarcastic comment in his film? He could have easily edited that out. Obvious to me that Moore has always been a chronicler of human behavior, and an adept filmmaker.

You are truly clueless. Now it's a sin to make money? This is America. That is THE standard for success.

If he hadn't made money, you would never have heard of him.

Do you know this, and you're just trying to be cute?

Or are you really and truly this totally...

oh, never mind.

You don't think that getting the word out is a substantial contribution? We whinny on around here about how to challenge BAU, crony capitalism and Robber Barons, and raise uncomfortable issues, while we ALL have to do it from within the system.. and he takes on the Healthcare Industry, The Gun Culture, and Wall Street with direct broadsides, and you want him to emulate Gandhi? Is it a hypocritical dead-end to put a Peak Oil bumper sticker on my Gas car, just because I can't afford to switch over to an EV yet, and can't do everything I need to by bike?

Gandhi he ain't.. but he's generated a lot of discussion and controversy, and done it in ways that has made it available to a Mainstream Audience. He doesn't talk down to working class people.. and if you've heard much of our US 'Public Radio' broadcasting, which aspires to be as classy (but also as accepted by the establishment) as they think the BBC is, then you'll see that finding places where these messages aren't coddled into Country Club Cocktail Chatter is actually a significant accomplishment.

Just slamming his success at making money at it is tossing the baby out with the bathwater. Demonizing anyone with money is a fool's errand.. and it's NOT what he was doing in his latest Romance Story. He's used his money to make more movies that challenge the system.. yes, it sells tickets, but it's also sticking very reliably to the themes he started with Roger and Me.

More people have heard of Moore than all the other contributors here put together. I also can't help noticing that at no point has anyone against him said that his films weren't showing a good bit of truth.

Frankly he can have the money if he can reach that many people with a message that hard to swallow.

Typical conservative .

Wingnuts hate a successful person like Michael Moore (or Al Gore) who tries to be a decent human being because it gives the lie to their belief that you have to be total bastard in life to get ahead.

Their maxim is, 'the only reason to do anything for the money.'

For their whole lives, conservatives sucked up to their 'betters',
to get ahead and it galls them to see a rich guy especially put the lie to their entire worldview.

It drives them insane .

Nicely put.

Obscenely wealthy? You want to define that, then back it up? And how much do you make off of your "Green" business?

...from a guy constantly bragging of his "green" work... sheesh... cannibals, we are.

You're not serious are you ... really? Michael Moore is the most incisive, best, and funniest political author in America - with daylight second. His influence has been enormous, and his books are pure genius. If you do not agree, whom perchance would you nominate?

Shooting the messenger is so easy.

Hey Cargill, for once we agree. As my momma used to say: "Will wonders never cease?" ;-)

Ron P.

Here in Arkansas you almost have to be homeless to get food stamps( plastic card with money for tax free food). With my income of just under $9,000 dollars a year and few expenses I make to much to quailify.

I know people who are homeless who get about 190 dollars a month to feed themselves, but not having fridges tend to run out of the benifit sooner than those that have places to cook and store food.

Getting a well balanced meal with all the needed vitamins and nutrients everyday is hard for most people on or off food stamps, as most people don't know what they should be eating anyway.

I cringe when I see people with bags of chips and bottles of soda pop in their carts. Those things will go bye bye when the collapse happens as they are hardly fit for human consumtion now. Though I guess I can't talk I like bottle beer to much, that is something we might not find all that easy to get either.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Beer would make a great item to barter if times came to that. Neighborhood brewer has kinda a nice ring to it, wouldn't you say?

Things seem to be heating up on the Korean peninsula - there is a strange deja vu feel to it, like July, 1914. Global financial markets are apparently spooked. Hope nothing more comes of it, but it wouldn't take too many accidents or miscalculations to result in Korea War II.

So, anyone care to speculate on ramifications and consequences?

I'll start. I don't think this will spiral out of control to WWIII. However, I don't think that it will end up being good for Sino-American relations. The Chinese are going to insist that the US and ROK operate a purely defensive posture and don't try to charge north and reunite the whole country; the US is going to insist that the Chinese reign in the DPRK. Neither country is going to like what the other expects, and neither will be able to fully deliver. That isn't good news for their relationship.

It is just possible that this might all end with a re-united, demilitarized, neutral Korea. That would suit the Chinese just fine - actually, that would probably be the best possible outcome from their point of view. Japan would probably be just as happy with that outcome as well. US policymakers would probably view that as a bad outcome, because it boots us off the E. Asia mainland. Some of us would view that as a GOOD thing, however, in the long term at least. Sooner or later the US is going to have to face up to the fact that it can no longer afford to maintain a global military posture, and is going to have to begin the long, difficult process of pulling back to a more compact defensive perimeter around N. America. This could end up being the start of that process.

In terms of energy, the really big danger is that potential troublemakers in other parts of the world, like Iran, might take advantage of America's distraction and being stretched thin to undertake operations that would normally be too risky.

I am amazed at the restraint. I think I know what the US would do about a sunk ship and 46 dead sailors. Same thing we did in 1898. I assume that the US, as guarantors of ROK security, told them that military response was off the table. So they must be satisfied with a trade blockade and a Security Council Resolution.

I'd guess that China will abstain from the UN vote, and everyone will step back from the brink.

That is probably the script they are following at the moment. It is the unscripted accidents that worry me.

I think I know what the US would do about a sunk ship and 46 dead sailors.

Don't forget the Cole, the Liberty, the whole Pearl Harbor incident.

Perhaps we can get a film of the leaders sitting round a campfire talking.

I suspect that in the not to distant future a North Korean sub won't return from patrol. Of course, we won't here about it!

That could be a plan. Unfortunately, all it takes is for one DPRK commander to freak out and open fire, and then things escalate from there - maybe in ways that neither side intended. Once the navies of the two sides are engaged in general free fire against each other, it won't be very long at all before the shells start raining down on Seoul.

Since when is Iran a potential troublemaker? Do you have a list of the countries they have invaded in the last two hundred years?

My only reason for singling Iran out is due to the highly critical nature of oil flows out of the Persian Gulf. I don't think that anyone is worrying about Oman or Qatar shutting down the Strait of Hormuz. On the other hand, the Israelis might feel that with the US preoccupied in Korea, that would be as good as any time to launch their pre-emptive strike. Of course, TS really does HTF after THAT.

But I am not so sure about Yemen.

The wild card of course, in true sense of the word wild, is N. Korea. Are they just trying to push the push the envelope for reasons that only make sense to them, or are they trying to provoke a genuine war? China will try to use any situation to their best advantage, but I cannot see them wanting any sort of real armed conflict. However, we don't know the true extent of their influence o
over North Korea.
As James McPherson said, war is a force of its own, no one can predict what its course will be and what changes will result, so we really have no idea how such an event will play out. Lets hope it doesn't.

The scenario that worries me - and is probably keeping more than a few people in more than a few world capitals up at night - is a series of mistakes or accidents that end up backing Kim in a corner, with him feeling that he might as well risk going out with a big bang as opposed to the certainty of going out with a small bang to his brain. An unintended exchange of fire and a couple of ships sunk on each side might very well be enough to push things over the edge. That could very well happen within the next couple of weeks.

Kim might be figuring that the Chinese will warn the US and ROK off from any advancing north, and so even if the DPRK gets beat up very badly, he can still spin it as "resisting the enemy, and not losing any territory", and thus stay in power. That is very likely the only thing he really cares about. There are, unfortunately, multiple scenarios in his twisted mind where fighting and getting beat up badly are very much preferable to backing down, losing face, and being seen as being weak. That is what makes him so very dangerous.

Pity the poor N. Koreans. I hope there are a few still left when the Kims finally meet their long-overdue demise.

Pity the poor N. Koreans.

Hard not to these days. Kim is one of select breed - Stalin, Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge, Hitler - dictators willing to sacrifice millions of their compatriots for their own self-aggrandizement.

The scenario that worries me ... a series of mistakes or accidents that end up backing Kim in a corner, with him feeling that he might as well risk going out with a big bang as opposed to the certainty of going out with a small bang

He hath no power like he that hath nothing to lose. And the margin of error with megalomaniacs is very narrow.

Korea, episode 2, would not be pretty.

Wouldn't it be something if it isn't PO, overpopulation, or financial collapse that does us in but a war escalating into a nuclear confrontation? I think a conventional war escalating to a nuclear conflict is completely possible in the 21st century. There were multiple times during the cold war where nuclear Armageddon came close.

Are they just trying to push the push the envelope for reasons that only make sense to them, or are they trying to provoke a genuine war?

In what sense?

Are you willing to take, at face value, that 'North Korea has done X' is a true and accurate statement?
(where X can be sinking of a Navy ship, making US Supernotes, some other charge)

Are you willing to take, at face value, that 'North Korea has done X' is a true and accurate statement?
(where X can be sinking of a Navy ship, making US Supernotes, some other charge)


I would be more skeptical, too, if the Cold War was still on-going, but this is 2010 and not 1960. It would surprise me to see this as repeat of the Gulf of Tonkin. Odds are that it is Kim stirring up trouble rather than the U.S. State Department or the Chinese Politburo.

The Chinese have their sights on Taiwan and on securing supplies not on the unification of the Korean Peninsula. The US has its hands full in Central Asia. Besides, for commercial reasons and strategic security (i.e. the insanity of flying nukes), everybody with a sensible bone in their body will want to avoid trouble in the neighbourhood of China and Japan.

My suspicion is on the N. Korean tyrant. I could be proved wrong, of course, but that's the way it looks to me.


I would be more skeptical, too, if the Cold War was still on-going, but this is 2010

And a nice war with a weak enemy who no one really seems to like a whole lot as a distraction from the money/energy/management shenaigans isn't worth pause?

I could be proved wrong,

And how would that be done? What validation could be done here?

The 'evidence' to date that we know - would that be nothing more than hersay and not a good type of evidence if this was an actual trial?

And a nice war with a weak enemy who no one really seems to like a whole lot as a distraction from the money/energy/management shenaigans isn't worth pause?

Sorry, I don't buy it. Obama is a consummate politician, not a nutcase. The president doesn't strike me as the type who would risk full scale nuclear escalation in the Sea of Japan merely for the sake of a war of distraction.

I could be proved wrong,

And how would that be done? What validation could be done here?

Information leaks... especially from bureaucracies. Details would eventually begin to emerge in the press ... e.g. Pentagon Papers, Enron... or even here on TOD from esoteric sources.

That is, if we survive.

Zodak, you are wasting your breath. Died in the wool conspiracy theorists assume almost every disaster, no matter how large or small, is a conspiracy of some kind. They assume all major politicians are conspirators who would knowingly risk everything if one of their very stupid conspiracies were found out. They assume all politicians and/or industrial giants are all nut cases who are capable of pulling off virtually any conspiracy no matter how difficult. I met one yesterday, an older gentleman who once worked for Blackwater in Iraq, who swears that the Deepwater Horizon disaster was planned and carried out by Obama and his cronies.

When you find yourself in a debate with such a person all you can do is walk away, reason is not a tool in their toolbox.

Ron P.

Ron, thanks...

Motto for our dear leader, Kim Il Sung:
"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean the world isn't out to get you."

'nuff said.


Died in the wool conspiracy theorists assume almost every disaster, no matter how large or small, is a conspiracy of some kind.

What is even more interesting is the people who claim there are no conspiracies at all.

One can visit courtrooms and hear how person X and person Y conspired to take life/property from person Z.

Less often you hear of a conspiracy to take liberty. Yet here seems to be a charge of exactly that:

According to two surviving crew members of the Deepwater Horizon, oil workers from the rig were held in seclusion on the open water for up to two days after the April 20 explosion, while attorneys attempted to convince them to sign legal documents stating that they were unharmed by the incident. The men claim that they were forbidden from having any contact with concerned loved ones during that time, and were told they would not be able to go home until they signed the documents they were presented with.

capable of pulling off virtually any conspiracy no matter how difficult

And yet the position of "there are no conspiracies" is not backed up by court cases, paperwork and history.

Still there are people who'd rather scream "Conspiracy Theorist" then actually use logic and history.

What is even more interesting is the people who claim there are no conspiracies at all.

I have never made any such claims and you know it. I have stated over and over again that there are all kinds of conspiracies. But they usually involve only a dozen people or less. The 9/11 conspiracy contained 19 hijackers and perhaps a few more. That was a bunch of Arabs who conspired together.

And yet the position of "there are no conspiracies" is not backed up by court cases, paperwork and history.

Not even a damn fool would say there are no conspiracies. Every undercover sting operation is a conspiracy, carried out by law enforcement personnel. I have stated over and over again, on this list, that conspiracies exist.

Must you just make up damn lies to make your case? Well hell, I guess you do don't you.

Ron P.


We can beat NK, but I don't think we have the spare power to do so with any finesse and I'm pretty sure that the President is aware of this also. A shooting war on the Korean Peninsula would mean full mobilization and The Draft.

No American politician wants to be the one to make that call.

What I find funny reading the threads is the assumption that the US has a choice in the matter.

I suggest you consider that North Korea has out of desperation chosen to take the path of all out war.
We may not have a choice in the matter outside of giving NK huge amounts of aide.

Certainly information on NK is sparse but everything points to this being the end of the line for Kim.
North Korea is now a liability for China not and asset so no help there. We are not responding to threats.
The regime is probably close to a coup or collapse. Its pull the trigger now or never for them.

If so then the US is not in control of the situation NK is and if they are committed to war not a damned thing
we can do about it.

Thats actually what I think is happening NK has chosen to pull the trigger rather than go down.

What do you think China's response would be to Korean War 2.0?

If the US is the ROK's sworn protector and avenger, how would China react if we (the US, that is) went into NK with six-guns blazing?

What kind of a war would it be? Artillery raining down on Seoul? Nukes? Over in a couple of days? Dragging on for years?

Talk about your Black Swan...

I think China will simply close the border till the dust settles. A newly liberated and unified Korea will want to by a lot of chinese goods and services. I think they will pressure NK to stand down but they are not going to give them anything.
Also of course if Korea is unified it means the US troops would be pressured to exit seriously weakening our presence in the region. All kinds of upside for China little downside. So I think they will stand aside.

And like I said if its what I think it is and Kim's going for the suicide mission the Chinese will wash their hands pretty quickly once the real situation is clear. If you want to know whats really happening then watch what the Chinese do or don't do. If its already past the brink they could well simply do nothing having already given up.

As I said I don't think this one is the US's call its entirely in North Korea's hands they are going to do what they plan on doing. I suspect they have some warped plan if the Chinese don't give them lots of support I suspect they will start the war anyway assuming that the Chinese will cross the border and support them when it goes badly ala the first war.

So my best guess assuming NK is really on a suicide path is that its either war or a coup.

Again I repeat the US is simply not in control of the situation its not our call and there is little we can do except support South Korea and make it a fast war so China is not dragged in. If we stand back then China probably will get dragged in if it last too long.

So no one is going to help NK not China and not anyone else they are on their own and either they collapse internally or we see war. The new sanctions alone and probably more on the way makes collapse almost certain. I suspect if war does not start soon we will see a fairly tight blockade. Only at this point are would we really be forcing the issue but I can't see it getting there.

I totally agree that it's not our (the US) call. In any case, we are not dealing with a rational actor, so anything might happen, I suppose.

I'm not quite so sure that China wants to see a Korean War, or would just sit back if the US went in to NK, but maybe. Also not sure how much influence China really has with Kim.

A really serious and biting blockade of NK would put the thing to the test. I mean, NK says that any real response holding them responsible for the sinking of the SK ship would be considered an act of war, and would be met with all-out retaliation. Maybe we're gonna find out.

Just what we need.

I totally agree that it's not our (the US) call.

I suspect Kim wants to ratchet up the foreign threat to bolster his regime. I doubt he plans for it to come to out-of-control hostilities. But, sometimes miscalculations and/or accidents can result in things getting out of control. Perhaps the best (fictional) example is Camelot. A peace treaty was worked out, but a dangerous snake was spotted and the raising of a sword to strike the snake was misinterpreted. So while the US is not calling the shots, our posture could effect the probablity of an incident getting out of hand. You can bet our military contains people who have spent years gaming such situations.

Yes, it is the accidental, unplanned things that concern me. Nowhere in their very elaborate and extensively thought-out plans and treaties did the Austro-Hungarians, or Russians, or Germans, or anyone else, have anything in there about Archduke Ferdinand being assassinated by Princep.

I think China will simply close the border till the dust settles. A newly liberated and unified Korea will want to by a lot of chinese goods and services.

Hey Memmel,

If neither the US nor China are in control of this situation - and I strongly agree this is a real possibility - then I don't see how the Chinese will be able to stand idly by especially if the theatre goes nuclear. Dead people don't buy goods and services from anybody, even the Chinese, and the fall-out would hardly be limited to the Korean Peninsula.

Besides, should the N. Koreans find themselves alone without Chinese support, what would stop them from tossing one of their warheads across the sea on Japan if only to stir the pot? Being a target for a second round of Enola Gays would provoke Tokyo to insist on Washington acting decisively. This type of retaliatory firepower so close to the Sino-Korean border would be a sticky wicket too big for Beijing to ignore, diplomatically and strategically.

This is only one of many possible outcomes all of which are messy.

Once the dogs of war are unleashed it is anybody's guess what will happen next.

There is irony here. Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a rogue state, although a phantom threat in the case of Iraq, could very well turn out to be everybody's nightmare. I would hate to see Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney proven right, but such is the stuff of history as well as fiction.

My hope is that the international community or internal politics in N. Korea will find a way to keep it fiction for now.

The Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times", looms large.


Thats really the problem actually.

It has to be a very very fast war for all parties involved if it stalls then things get nasty quick.

Of course this means the US/SK have to mobilize quickly to get forces in the area to keep it conventional and quick and doing so probably will trigger the war.

I'd argue its in NK interests to get troops into Seoul asap before such a build up so they can get entrenched with plenty of civilians to act as shields and hold out till the Chinese are forced to "help".

I don't see them waiting for a blockade and troop buildup.

I think the only way out is for the US to fold and basically pay tribute but that ain't gonna happen.

O boy, I going to step on very thin ice but Donald Rumsfeld (did I really mention his name twice in one thread?? I must be losing it!!!) said it best:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.

Memmel, here's to unknown unknowns coming to the rescue. Let's hope a N.Korean comrade will dispatch the dear leader before Kim dispatches him and half his countrymen. Self-preservation is a well known force of nature - it has ended more than one brutal dictatorship in history.

Question then arises, is the devil who follows worse than the devil before?

I think its basically down to a coup or war. Given the cult like situation with the leadership a coup would be difficult to pull off it would in my opinion probably result in civil war. That would probably draw in both China and the US and be a worse outcome.

As usual I could be wrong but if I'm right and this is a last ditch effort by Kim to save his regime then it seems that everyone trying to move as fast as possible is the best strategic move. If Kim can get troops into Seoul they would probably fight like devils thinking victory is near. If the US does not move fast he can probably pull it off. Then its bloody street to street fighting. If we try to move in the overwhelming force needed to stop such a move then Kim is forced to move. Sorry to repeat myself but you see even your outcome of a coup is probably not in the US interests either.
Certainly not in Kims interest.

Basically anything except a quick strike to occupy Seoul seems to me like a losing proposition for Kim.
He has to do it and the troops have to hold until China is forced in.

I'd guess a win for him would be for Chinese to mass on the North South Korean border and for him to make and orderly retreat after significant concessions probably even moving parts of the border south a bit.

It would be seen as and immense victory for NK and he would literally be a living god.

With 1 million troops even if they are poorly armed occupying Seoul and basically living off the land if you will they stand a good chance. Really the only issue seems to be to get enough small arms ammunition down there to support a extended urban guerrilla campaign assuming they make extensive use of civilians as shields they are pretty well set up.
Food can be taken if they get cut off so surrounding them is not exactly a victory. All they have to do is force the Chinese in to guard their eventual retreat and broker a very nice settlement they don't have to actually win it.

Not that I crazy ass North Korean dictator but if I was thats what I'd do :)

If the US does not move fast he can probably pull it off. Then its bloody street to street fighting.

That would be strategically unpalatable for the US already with troop commitments maxed out elsewhere. The Pentagon is likely to have a set of war plans already in place to deal with the contingency of a North Korean attack on the south - it's been a real and concrete threat for the past sixty years.

If it is to go to tactical nuclear weapons in short order the obvious question is what will China do?

Memmel, to be frank, I'd rather have you, clever as you are, as the crazy ass dictator in Korea than the current killjoy swashbuckling his way through the power circles in Pyongyang. He's smart, unstable, and ruthlessly unpredictable. It runs in the family. He would not be an easy man to oppose in a game of chess. Every move would be a checkmate.

Best wishes for a turn of events soon,


I very much doubt that the US would actually be the first to use nukes - even tactical nukes - no matter what the war plans call for or how bad it gets. I suspect that Obama would veto his generals no matter how much they plead. If need be, we'll load up all the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and Europe and fly them directly to Korea and tell everyone else that we're sorry, but we're needed elsewhere and they'll have to fend for themselves. (Frankly, this part of it could end up being very much a GOOD thing.)

On the other hand, if Kim lets the NoDongs fly, then NK will very quickly become a glow-in-the-dark ashtray. I think that even Obama would have no trouble telling the Chinese that this is what we WILL do, period.

I very much doubt that the US would actually be the first to use nukes.

Couldn't agree more. The US isn't biting at the bit to use nukes and would be doubly reluctant to use them again against an Asian people. Wouldn't look good on its resume.

On the other hand, if Kim lets the NoDongs fly, then NK will very quickly become a glow-in-the-dark ashtray. I think that even Obama would have no trouble telling the Chinese that this is what we WILL do, period.

Beijing understands this. The downside is Kim may want to go out in a blaze of glory.

If need be, we'll load up all the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and Europe and fly them directly to Korea and tell everyone else that we're sorry, but we're needed elsewhere and they'll have to fend for themselves.

Egad, and let the natives work it among themselves. What a concept? Mr. Observer, I agree, this could prove to be a very GOOD thing.


The trouble is, those hoped-for coups all too often never happen at all, or they fail, or they finally do it but much too late. Yes, a few brutal dictatorships have ended that way, almost always far later than they should have done. The list of brutal dictatorships that survived all the way to their demise by other means without a successful coup is a pretty long list, too.

I sure wouldn't hang all my hopes on that.

I think that the Chinese would be far less concerned by a retaliatory nuclear strike on NK than they would be by US troops showing up on the other bank of the Yalu. Frankly, wiping out NK's nuclear capabilities would probably be a bit of a relief for them. At the same time, by standing off to the side the Chinese get to hold the high ground where it comes to global public opinion.

China likely would protest loudly but I seriously doubt they would come to the aid of KN.

If internal dissident high-ranking KN military types did not assassinate the Jonger and sue for peace soon after a war kicked off, the Jonger would likely shoot the line and go for broke...

The short synopsis: Seoul would take a pasting, lots of folks would die, but in the end the majority would be KN folks. KN might very well put us on the ropes for a while, but we would prevail after a fashion. If KN were foolish enough to pop chem, bio, and/or nukes, then the U.S. would smite them. At the very least Pyongang would be leveled, and if they used a nuke, Pyongang would likely be transformed into a glass skating rink.

It would be horrible to see nukes exchanged in anger again after all this time, but maybe that would be a wake-up call to the World's peoples to mend their ways...


What do you think China's response would be to Korean War 2.0?

I suspect that they would make it very clear to the US and the ROK that they understand that the ROK must defend itself, but that there had better be no thought whatsoever of a reprise of McArthur's march to the Yalu. They might make it known that if the Kim regime collapses and N Korea needs to be occupied, their PLA would be available and willing to do the occupying on a transitional basis until a permanent settlement can be reached that results in a unified, demilitarized, neutral Korea.

Or, they might just sit back, stay quiet, and keep their PLA on alert.

That was kind of my point.

I can't see any American administration choosing to go to war on the Korean peninsula. There isn't any political or national interest upside to it.

r4ndom, yep, your point is right on... this is a headache nobody needs right now, except Kim, and no American administration would choose it.

It wouldn't be about the US choosing to go to war on the Korean Penninsula. We are bound by the terms of our "Mutual Defense Treaty" with South Korea. Any attack on SK is seen as an attack on the United States. Had South Korea chosen to declare the torpedo attack on their vessel a redeclaration of war, and respond in kind toward NK, the US would be immediately involved in war through no choice or action of our own.

Runeshade, your point is well taken. America will live up to its treaty obligations. That's a given.

I don't think r4ndom remarks on "choosing" was indicating the nature of America's treaty commitments (or lack thereof), but instead was emphasizing that the United States did not have strategic or tactical reasons to provoke or exasperate bad blood between North and South Korea.

In the game of realpolitik this is not in the US interest except insofar as it protects its partners worldwide. It is not a situation any US administration would deliberately choose to face if given other options.

We are bound by the terms of our "Mutual Defense Treaty" with South Korea.

The US of A has plenty of pieces of paper that "bind" it.

Yet, I'm rather sure one can find plenty of times where the terms various contracts are violated. On the nuke issue the US of A is not to send money to states who have not said 'we have X'....yet aid still flows to those nations. Certain types of tech are not to be exported - yet the exportation happens.

So long as no American is coming home in a casket nothing much will happen.

The US of A has plenty of pieces of paper that "bind" it.

How about this then... the US has something like 39,000 troops currently stationed in South Korea. The US government has estimated that 1,000,000 people would die in the first 24 hours in a war between the Koreas. At least some, if not all of those 39,000 US troops would be included in those casualties. If war broke out between the Koreas, there is no way that we could not get involved. There is more than a paper treaty here, we are already standing in the middle of the conflict zone.

Would solve the unemployment problem.

We can beat NK, but I don't think we have the spare power to do so with any finesse and I'm pretty sure that the President is aware of this also. A shooting war on the Korean Peninsula would mean full mobilization and The Draft.

I doubt there would be time for anything like that. If hostilities escallate to major war/ total war, it has been estimated that NK artillery could destroy Seoul is something like 24hours. I don't think we would wait very long before using tactical nukes to take out the artillery. So the timeframe for major hostilities would be pretty short.

I don't think we would wait very long before using tactical nukes to take out the artillery.

My guess would be the use of cruise-type missles VS the leadership or command and control 1st in an attempt to 'cut the head off of the snake'.

To use nukes 2X times of human history is not good PR.

The U.S. would not consider, let alone employ, nuclear weapons unless KN employed chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons on the ROK, U.S. troops, or Japan or whatnot.

My personal read is that we would not respond with a nuclear weapon to chem and/or bio attacks unless the attack caused grievous (tens of thousands and up) causalities.

We would likely save our nuclear employment as a response to their nuclear employment.

There is even a good chance that we may choose to retlaiate and punish by relentlessly carpet bomb men, women, children, animals, plants, dams, power plants, and about everything else with a relentless, intense, long-term conventional weapons barrage.

Personally, I continually wish for the two Koreas to unify and live in relative harmony. I am not so sure that China would be happy with that outcome though.

The U.S. would not consider, let alone employ, nuclear weapons unless KN employed chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons on the ROK, U.S. troops, or Japan or whatnot.

My personal read is that we would not respond with a nuclear weapon to chem and/or bio attacks unless the attack caused grievous (tens of thousands and up) causalities.

We would likely save our nuclear employment as a response to their nuclear employment.

There is even a good chance that we may choose to retaliate and punish by relentlessly carpet bomb men, women, children, animals, plants, dams, power plants, and about everything else with a relentless, intense, long-term conventional weapons barrage.

Personally, I continually wish for the two Koreas to unify and live in relative harmony. I am not so sure that China would be happy with that outcome though.

Sorry, I don't buy it.

It doesn't matter if you don't buy the idea or not.

History is full of people in power creating or using some kind of event to attempt to keep power via distraction of others with something else.

Wartime presidents tend to benefit from the 'rally round the flag' effect.

The president doesn't strike me as the type who would risk full scale nuclear escalation in the Sea of Japan merely for the sake of a war of distraction.

Every conflict across the globe has that risk. Hasn't seemed to stop 'em has it?

But would a "dear leader" be willing to have a nice conventional battle? What if the battle was 'to defend someone with whom we have a foreign entanglement' - who'd fault 'em right?

Information leaks... especially from bureaucracies. Details would eventually begin to emerge in the press ...

But that will only be 'after the fact'. Usually well after the fact. And again "we" (on the outside) are left with 'is that the truth'.

e.g. Pentagon Papers, Enron..

What a fine conspiracy both of those were eh?

I suppose it could have been fabricated, but there WAS what appears to be exceptionally good forensic evidence, examined by a multi-national panel of experts. If it were GWB still in office, I might lend more credibility to the possibility of fabrication. However, Obama already has his hands full, and I really can't see him wanting to stir things up in Korea right now.

The North Koreans are hungry and the NK government is trying to hold up S. Korea, Japan and the U.S. for massive amounts of food aid. There is some internal succession struggle happening in N. Korea. The whole thing may just be about who gets the ship full of chow delivered to port.

These folks are on providing info and insight on the KN/ROK dustup better than the typical CNN et al articles:



My U.S. military associates have a wait-and-see philosophy: This situation could fade away like other such KN/ROK skirmishes in the past, or things could degenerate...no one knows...

I know at least one person enjoyed the different versions of Angel of the Morning I posted yesterday (but my followup selection caused one person almost to have a psychotic break...can't win them all).

On the cusp of The Big Step Down, and continuing in the same vein (angels, religion) as yesterday, here I've collected various versions of one of my favorite songs, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

First, the master himself with his waltzy, gospelly version:

Next, Lind (guitar), Askil Holm, Alejandro Fuentes, Kurt Nilsen.

John Cale's version gets my vote for best arrangement (and his vocals are excellent, too):

Kate Voegele's version is clear, beautiful:

11 year-old (at the time) Nora Foss al-Jabri's version is remarkable not just because of her age:

But the best version of them all (in my view) is K.D. Lang's. It's the one that reliably gives me goose bumps:

For an extra treat, here is K.D. singing Roy Orbison's Crying (sung solo — and thoroughly divine):

There are many other versions, from Rufus Wainwright to Sheryl Crow to Jeff Buckley to Bon Jovi but I think the above are the best of the ones I've discovered (IMHO).


[Speaking of K.D. Lang's rendition] Cohen's partner, singer Anjani Thomas, said: "After hearing k.d. lang perform that song at the Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2006 we looked at each other and said, 'well, I think we can lay that song to rest now! It's really been done to its ultimate blissful state of perfection'.

Just whose hallelujah is it anyway? (news.bbc.co.uk)

We kick off in the Book of Samuel with David who is, as well as a nifty fighter, a mean harpist. His "secret chord" that "pleased the Lord" is enough to release an evil spirit from Saul, the man he is shortly to succeed as king.

David is said to have scoped out Bathsheba having a bath on the roof.

That done, David spies the beautiful Bathsheba "bathing on the roof" and gets her pregnant. Little good comes of this — Bathsheba's husband Uriah is one of David's soldiers and winds up dead.
Then before you know it, we skip to the Book of Judges and David has become Samson. When we hear the line "she broke your throne and she cut your hair", we all know what happened next — although Hallelujah doesn't depict the part where Samson, his eyes gouged, pulls down a temple killing himself and around 3,000 guests for good measure.


But the best version of them all (in my view) is K.D. Lang's. It's the one that reliably gives me goose bumps

Me, too.

Thanks aangel for this treat. Hallelujah, indeed!

Lang's version is haunting.

Whoa.. what a combo! (KD and Cohen..)
Goosebumps turned right into tears.. magic chord, for sure. Thanks, Andre'.

I think that's a word that translates well beyond the Temple Walls, too. (Literally, "Profanity" is 'In front of the Temple', or implying 'Outside the Temple') It's just not hard to tell what "Hallelujia" is really trying to say. Perhaps an attitude of Grace, both Gratitude and Submission before the greater powers of the Universe, whether we describe them as Chemical or Spiritual forces.. Holy Hell. or Shiva.. or Chinese Dragons, Wondrous and Terrible.

G.F. Handel still gets to ride that same wave, too.

Hi, jokuhl.

I'm a-theist (i.e. without theism) but whatever it is in our brains that gets us in touch with the ineffable is magical. I contact it through nature and art (mostly music). I'm finding a greater capacity to reach it as I peel away the defense mechanisms that I installed during the first half of my life (supposedly the period of "maturation" which more properly could be viewed as "individual protectionism").

But I know that other people access it through religion...different strokes for different folks.

That makes sense to me.

It's interesting to me when I hear church language that reaches into the populace, but manages not to rile those who have been bitten hard by the extremes of religion.. when it gets to serve us with deep Poetry and Psychology, and avoids Idolatry.

And this, in turn, makes perfect sense to me. Hardly a surprise.

You had penetrated our hearts with Your charity, and we carried Your words fixed, as it were, in our bowels; and the examples of Your servant, whom of black You had made bright, and of dead, alive, crowded in the bosom of our thoughts, burned and consumed our heavy torpor, that we might not topple into the abyss; and they enkindled us exceedingly, that every breath of the deceitful tongue of the gainsayer might inflame us the more, not extinguish us.

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions, Book ix

I'm a bit partial to G.F. Handel, too. Hardly a surprise, either.

I too am a fan of Cohen. One of the most interesting performances of one of his religious type songs is found here.


Beautiful...thanks for posting that.

Keep the faith (after PO) from Bon Jovi:
Live from Giants Stadium USA (2001)


Bah, you stole like 3 hours from me last night as went from Angel of the Morning to the Rose, and on and on. By the end of the night I was listening to a translated verison of Umberto Tozzi singing the original version of Gloria at 1 AM.


and comparing it to the English version I grew up with from Laura Brannigan:


I never knew the sentiment from the US version was twisted from the original innocent lyrics of love. 8*)


lol...sorry Runeshade, but it sounds to me like a wonderful way to spend three hours!

P.S. I was up until 1:30am selecting the versions I was going to post today. I was able to hear them all :-)

Yes, thanks for a great set of songs and versions. As the one who kicked off this madness, let me add one more--kind of the polar opposite of the Gloria Runeshade presented


Got past my pyschotic episode quite nicely thanks - but c'mon! elevator music??

However, when it comes to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah I can't can't complain. I've downloaded the sheet music for the guitar and fortunately I have the voice for it - but you won't be seeing that on YouTube.

Now, we'll have to get onto Devo because they were right - scary right...

Maya Rise and Fall:

Scholars have looked instead at combinations of afflictions in different parts of the Maya world, including overpopulation, environmental damage, famine, and drought. "You come away feeling that anything that can go wrong did," says Rice.

They have also focused on the one thing that appears to have happened everywhere during the prolonged decline: As resources grew scarce, the kuhul ajaw lost their divine luster, and, with it, the confidence of their subjects, both noble and commoner. Instability and desperation in turn fueled more destructive wars. What had been ritualized contests fought for glory or captives turned into spasms of savagery like the one that obliterated Cancuén. Says Simon Martin of the University of Pennsylvania Museum: "The system broke down and ran out of control."

Instead of reestablishing order, wars would create greater disorder; instead of one ruler emerging triumphant from a decisive battle, each conflict simply created more pretenders. Victories, instead of inspiring new monuments and temples, were transient and, increasingly, unremarked. Defeats spurred desperate citizens to rip apart their ceremonial buildings, using the stones and fill to build redoubts in hopes of staving off future invaders. Cities no longer rebuilt and rebounded. They simply ceased to exist.

Smaller states tried to assert themselves in the spreading chaos, but none could. Instead, the warring states sought temporary advantage in a land of dwindling resources. The commoners probably hid, fled, or died.

A parable for our own time?


I think once you control for centuries of scientific and technological advance, the possibility to disseminate information in microseconds, the democratization of literacy and some other differences between the Mayan world and ours, then the parable is just perfect for our time.

And yet, somehow all of that utterly fails to account for the fact that we are making all of the same mistakes:

  • Overpopulation: Check.
  • Environmental damage: Check.
  • Famine: Check.
  • Drought: Check.

It would seem our vaunted advances have only enabled us to repeat the same screw-ups, only this time on a global scale, and with a population of a few billions instead of a few millions.

One thing I would say is strikingly different, the Maya "commoners" had three choices: flee, hide, or die. How many people alive today are going to find out the hard way that those first two choices are no longer available?


A parable for our own time?

Very possibly. I've been posting articles regarding the possibility of a double dip recession, and here's one more on bonds that points to harder times ahead.


"There is big money making big bets that at a minimum we we'll have a recession if not a depression that could last for years," said Kevin Giddis, managing director of fixed income at Morgan Keegan. "It's a scary scenario to subscribe to, but that's the current one being batted around."

All of this latest economic news is not surprising to those that ascribe to peak oil, peak credit, peak debt, peak civilization, peak population, etc. Maybe debt and population are yet to peak, but in many other ways we are sliding down away from the peak. Even though these are recessionary times, this is probably the calm before the storm of greater conflict, much like the Mayans, that will only act to hasten the descent.

So, "smart money" is fleeing to Treasuries? That could be the next bubble!

And, when that bubble pops, Goodnight, Irene, and turn out the lights!

Meanwhile, as investors flock to US bonds, liquidity continues to drop, and our deflationary economy drops further. Until, at some point, the Fed stokes up the presses sufficiently to get inflation started! At which time, how is it controlled, and by whom?

Earl, we're in serious trouble!


'Earl, we're in serious trouble!

True Craig, yet I still got a laugh from 'Goodnight, Irene, and turn out the lights! It's like Kramer on Seinfeld said about people with cancer, "And laughing is the best medicine."

Even though these are recessionary times, this is probably the calm before the storm of greater conflict, much like the Mayans, that will only act to hasten the descent.

I think you are proably right, although sometimes I look at how many very smart, very wealthy, and very powerful people have a highly vested interest in keeping things afloat, no matter what the cost, and I wonder if things couldn't just keep going sideways for few more years.

That being said, you probably saw this on The Automatic Earth:

The world teeters on the brink of a new age of rage:

Also quoted at length on:

Historians will tell you there is often a time-lag between the onset of economic disaster and the accumulation of social fury. In act one, the shock of a crisis initially triggers fearful disorientation; the rush for political saviours; instinctive responses of self-protection, but not the organised mobilisation of outrage. Whether in 1789 or now, an incoming regime riding the storm gets a fleeting moment to try to contain calamity. If it is seen to be straining every muscle to put things right it can, for a while, generate provisional legitimacy.

Act two is trickier. Objectively, economic conditions might be improving, but perceptions are everything and a breathing space gives room for a dangerously alienated public to take stock of the brutal interruption of their rising expectations. What happened to the march of income, the acquisition of property, the truism that the next generation will live better than the last? The full impact of the overthrow of these assumptions sinks in and engenders a sense of grievance that 'Someone Else' must have engineered the common misfortune.


Good article, thanks for the post.

"As a system is pushed farther from equilibrium, the system goes through sudden transitions (these are bifurcations). As the system is pushed further from equilibrium, more and more of these bifurcations can take place until a less articulated state, such as random turbulence, sets in."

This is a partial summary of the work of the late Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine in a wonderful book called "Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life".

I think we are seeing the sudden transitions occuring, but the bifurcations are still somewhat in the future....

Re: U.S. Deepwater Drilling's Future

The MMS forecast PDF (Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Production Forecast: 2009 – 2018 ) shows estimated Maximum Potential GoM 2009 production as 1.215 million barrels/day but actual 2009 GoM production is reported by the EIA as 1.539 million b/d. By December (last month listed) production had risen to 1.715 million b/d. These figures weren't even in the wildest dreams of the MMS in May 2009 when the projections were issued.

Are current US GoM production figures just made up?

I argued in the last drumbeat we are about to find out what the real numbers are right now.

The sharp increase in Federal Water GOM production is the key to supporting the assertion that US markets are well supplied with oil. If its fake then we will know.

several days ago i referred to the following link which explores some interesting facts about how our oil industry has been allowed to operate in the last several decades. http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/05/24/how-much-does-bp-pay-us-for... Forty years ago i ran a minor energy data collection program for a state agency. the oil industry is for the most part a vertically integrated business and there many reasons, mostly profit related, to make things complicated. I read your post yesterday, and agree that sometime in the very near future we will know the real price of petroleum. I would also be interested in your take on the link referenced above. Also, you can bet the CPA's at BP are busy trying to figure out the best way to handle this situation from a tax point of view.

I read your link. My take is the lack of tax money flowing back to the states makes it even harder to know whats really going on in deepwater GOM. Its basically pocket change thus it does not help in trying to sniff out what real production might be. Big picture I don't care so much about the detail as if we are really short on oil we can expect nationalization at some point or something similar. Effectively big oil can and will be absorbed into a military regime in the end.
When push comes to shove control wins over money even in the US. Not that some people won't make out like bandits in the process but in the end the only thing that matters is command and control of the US military.

Right now I really don't have a good way of flushing out whats really happening in the GOM we have had some posts about Thunderhorses production which contradict the claim of a sharp rise in production. Nothing really definite though.

admire your ability to reframe. Would you agree that lax environmental regs, and favorable tax climate has focused the beast on GOM. not many places in the world where a bigger profit can be made. Wonder if the military has a better source of info? over 3000 wells in the GOM. Seems the USA has been exploited and we are going for the puddles now. Ain't free market capitalism great.

Well yes in the really big picture the deep water GOM is simply a strategic military asset. Understand that Mexico has done little to develop its deep water prospects so all that oil is ours for the taking when the time comes.

For the US to fight WWIII which will probably be a series of smaller wars all over the globe I'm guessing it needs 2-4mbd or so of oil. Sorry for the wide range but it depends. And we probably wan't multiple sources. Given that we have the technical ability in place to exploit deep water GOM (unless accidents happen) and assuming we take Mexico's after they collapse the US has almost 2mbd from here to supply the Military and its secure. You don't have to be much of a WWII buff to know that its critical to have the oil or you have lost period.

Venezuela is of course and option but its obviously problematic. The Chinese obviously don't have the oil to fight and any attempt by them to actually try and fight any sort of prolonged war would remove to much oil from their internal economy and lead to collapse. They can protect what they have now but I don't see them as capable of any sort of conventional war much beyond their borders as they simply don't have the oil.

Tin foil perhaps but when push comes to shove at the end of the day what matters is if the US is capable of sustained combat around the globe on a scale similar to WWII. I'd argue we have worked to ensure the oil supply is there for such and effort.

As far as internal US demand for oil well if forced internal consumption could be forced down dramatically well below the current level and the economy still function at least enough to support the military industrial complex. A side effect would be plenty of people willing to join the military so ...

One slight problem with that premise memmel...the GOM gusher illustrates just how vulnerable the oil infrastructure is. Any first-order nation conflict will be comprised of infrastructure attacks even if there is no 'official' war. The US is simply impossible to defend. An USA vs China conflict, even an indirect one, will not be straight forward. If it comes to brute force the game will be at its end.

On a related topic, its quite apparent that the 'war-on-terror' is one-sided because if 'terrorists' were really fighting they would have targeted infrastructure. Remember that weapons like torpedo's were at the height of technology during the second world war but that nowadays any nautical engineer could build one in their garage.

However lately, I am leaning towards the possibility that nations have become largely irrelevant and simply play by the rules that the banking elite lay out. There may be some rogue nations like Iran but its doubtful that they will be capable of withstanding the onslaught.

Have you had any more thoughts about a hypothetical covert use of the SPR? If you did that would the refiners need to be in on the secret as the crude assay sheet would identify the oil as one of the SPR blends - or would a discrepancy only be noticed if there was a major difference in the oil supplied (or some other reason to perform more analysis) with a false but plausible assay?

Just wondering if such a covert use of the SPR is possible.

They now have a web based trading operation in place.

This one is about heating oil.


I'm not finding any mention of the web based system for oil any more.

The have exchange agreements.

However one has to imagine that Federal Oil production and the SPR may well be outside of the box if you will.
The Feds may well have legal cover to manage the relationship between their royalties in kind in Fed waters and the SPR.

Who knows what the US government can do if it trades with itself. My best guess right now is perhaps the Fed has found or used a known loophole surrounding production in the Federal GOM and SPR. If they are using SPR oil to balance things.

One has to think that if its a charade a fairly significant amount of physical oil is needed to play games and keep the market happy. Say perhaps 20-30 million barrels or so moving around.

Who knows. And of course one has to imagine that rules exist to allow non-public moves.

If GOM production numbers are bogus then I have to think there has to be some other source of physical oil to keep the game going.

If the SPR is really involved at some point if its being drawn down one can think that this will stop because of National Security concerns. I'd guess given the recent expansion these would kick in once it was back closer to its old level.

And to be absolutely clear I have absolutely no idea whats really going on however I think I've done a fairly good job of narrowing things down to the point that my concerns about EIA data reduce to production numbers from the Government itself. Its Government numbers which result in questionable government numbers. This result in and of itself is sufficient for me. The intricacies involved in maintaining a charade are not sustainable over the longer term if its all a game so exactly how the game is played if ones being played at all is not that important. Of course details effect timing. But the amount of free oil that can be played with via the SPR is at best 40 million barrels IMHO so if we are running a deficit of say 500kbd then this is blown fairly quickly.

Basically any number large enough to cause the US to play major games is also large enough to ensure such games are short term and eventually fail.

The US is not going to play games over a shortfall of a few 100kbd or so this can be readily made up on the open market sure it would pressure oil prices some but no biggie. If they are faking it then its for bigger numbers on the order of 500kbd or so that cannot be hidden in a transparent market. If so then no amount of games with Fed production and the SPR or whatever might be going on will work for long. Exactly how long depends on the details but its months not years.

Globally we could well be running closer to a 1mbd deficit if so then again its months not years.

Or all the numbers are legit any errors are simply clerical errors and the US is well supplied with oil perhaps not above the five year average but so what if the tanks close to full then its close to full does not really matter in the end where storage is at as long as its above the five year median the market is well supplied errors in books don't matter much as long as the US stays well supplied.

If so given the current conditions I expect the price of oil to steadily break towards the downside and stay low for months regardless of summer driving demand. We just do a repeat of 2008/2009 perhaps with slightly different numbers but we are pretty much certain to enter a recession an see layoffs increase so oil won't be a problem indeed it could be years before oil prices rise again. No telling what the low will be.

So either the US is lying its ass off and the situation is getting ever more dire by the month or oil is done as a issue for the foreseeable future. The economy is going to be weak for years and years and we either have enough oil now or we don't.

I don't know which way things are going to go however I've argued for some time that the break point or the moment of truth if you will is right now and has been going on for a while. If the market is really well supplied then no reason for oil not to go to 60 or lower as the economy remains weak.

If not then everything I've thought of to game a deficit of around 500kbd for the US and 1mbd or so for the world has to end basically now. Plenty of possible games but they all eventually end as we enter summer. The seasonal rise alone is sufficient to blow out any deficit till it simply cannot be covered. If we assume export land and a real steep decline in oil production then absolutely no way can the system be gamed that long. I've figured at most 500 million barrels could be used to game the system globally and thats being very generous so the max possible is about 500 days.
Far more likely is judicious use of 100-200 million barrels of oil perhaps offset by some real demand destruction or something like that. Periodically pulsing the system every few months with 20 million barrels or so is more than enough to overwhelm the JIT nature of oil delivery if its done correctly. The system is fairly easily flooded so it does not take a lot of oil to cause a short term surplus. Of course the market will take these to be indicative of a generally well supplied market not recognizing them as pulses so after each pulse it will be slow to recover.

So all my concepts of what might be happening if its all a big lie basically fall into various store and dump schemes that periodically temporarily flood the market. However at some point the deficit widens to the point that these fail and also of course the oil available to play such games declines. Eventually they fail to work.

Economic games are of course possible given the financial side is even more of a farce its trivial to stock a crisis these days pretty much on demand all you have to do is stop pretending for a bit.

This will help smash prices of course.

But finally I've narrowed down my economic theory if you will to a sort of simple result. Assume your in the middle of a famine and have a wheelbarrow of gold and are looking for food. It does not really matter if the barrow is full of gold half full or you only have a few bricks to exchange for bread you need to find someone willing to part with their bread for a ridiculous price. The same goes for oil if we really have a deficit then eventually the details of our economic system simply does not matter debt/fiat/printing etc etc are all simply irrelevant and you will pay with what ever you have for oil. The details of the monetary system are irrelevant simply all thats needed is someone still willing to trade oil for money. This is the real divergence I'm looking for where all the money in the world basically cannot buy you enough oil period as there simply is not enough oil and way to much money.

When this divergence happens is anyones guess if the US is lying then it should start now if its telling the truth it could be years or even a decade before we hit it. So its basically now or perhaps a decade away. Personally I'm basically hanging out this year to see what happens. Since I'm not wealthy and don't own a home my personal plans are to some extent dependent on how this all plays out.

If its financial then I'd argue we will see a longer term Japanese style deflationary spiral with oil prices relatively low. Not a depression since we can print fiat to our hearts content so a slower downward collapse but relentless. This is the FIRE economy slowly collapsing.

If its resources aka oil like I think it is then its a real collapse of our civilization not just a financial issue. Things get really interesting and out of hand really fast and financials are really just a side show and its wheel barrows of gold or its equivelents for commodities.

Actually US GOM production has not been all that much. The peak, before this year, was 2002. That peak may hold as US GOM production will likely drop for the rest of the year. 2005 and 2008 were big hurricane years. 2006 and 2007 were not so hot either.

US GOM production in thousands of barrels per day.
2002   1,556
2003   1,538
2004   1,462
2005   1,279
2006   1,292
2007   1,282
2008   1,149
2009   1,545
2010   1,611 first two months average.

MMS Gulf of Mexico Production
This site does not give yearly averages. I had to copy and past every "Monthly Total" into an Excel spreadsheet and average them there. That was rather time consuming but since retiring in 2004, time is all I have. ;-)

Ron P.

1611-1149 = 462kbd within spitting distance of my 500kbd requirement to support published numbers.

If its a lie then we are not getting our 2-3 million barrel weekly builds which is resulting in a growing surplus.

I know it does not sound like a lot to us global peak oilers but its enough to make a huge difference in the price of oil.
Which is what matters if your gaming the system.

Basically the US is claiming its able to get all the oil it wants and needs plus produce a 500kbd local production build resulting in a steady build in storage. Without it the current US storage levels are off by a mile we are scrapping along on the bottom not the top.

The key is that its excess uneeded production supposedly directed at the US while we continue to import enough ot meet our needs. We are claiming in a sense we don't need it and its resulted in a nice buffer of surplus storage.

It happens to consist of incredibly expensive deep water oil but thats just a detail :)

Obviously I don't believe it and I suspect that at best the deep water has resulted in flat production.
Remember we have been doing deep water GOM production for a while it did not start yesterday. Assuming a rapid
decline rate 14%+ a year then we would be at best treading water over the last few years if not declining.

Lets assume we are at 1200kbd and the difference is 400kbd.
Thats 2.8 million barrels a week or 134 million barrels a year that might simply not exist.
Its more than the entire surplus the US claims and its dependent on US government numbers.

Heck if they are only fudging by 200kbd then its still off US storage levels would be steadily flat to falling
assuming every other number was right the entire year.

All I'm saying is that this conjecture if you will is very self consistent and everything checks out.
Here it is in basic form.
1.) The US won't lie unless its a issue of about 500kbd.
2.) A bigger problem i.e 1-2 mbd would have failed fast.
3.) 500kbd is a believable lie and results in a nice fake build in the US.
4.) The US can import at low prices with a small cushion of storage to cover itself.
5.) Globally the rest of the world probably has a similar 500kbd real deficit so prices increase.

It all works till it does not. All that has to happen globally is the deficit between consumption and production has to rise by just a few 100kbd and things get stressed fast. I've got other intermediate scenarios along the way but thats the basics.

Now as far as current prices go its esp interesting if the truth is everyone is actually fairly tight on storage with bluffs pretty much all over. Hey the US is bluffing and thats keeping prices low we might as well also. Outside the US its much easier to lie. Thats all well and good.

However the current low prices are a double edged sword once its clear that the low is in for oil then everyone will try and take advantage of the low prices to fill up at the same time. Even if at first prices don't rise some player will find themselves getting even less oil if say the US uses these low prices to fill up storage. Someone else ain't getting that oil. Eventually if they are also bluffing they will be forced to buy.

So if I'm right we should see a bit of a stampede develop once its clear to everyone that the bottom is in.
This probably will destabilize the whole game and leave a few players short on oil facing rapidly rising prices and have to buy in. Perhaps some of the earlier players that stocked up choose to try and set things out assuming prices will fall again just to find themselves short a bit later on.

Basically only one country and my bet is on the US gets to restock then you have a permanent imbalance and shortage moving around the world again. Someone somewhere will be desperate for oil.

So if I'm right then someone somewhere with my best guess being the US is going to make a grab for "cheap" oil and attempt to fill up and its going to upset the apple cart. The bluffs won't matter since someone will grab more than their share to fast and it all falls apart.

Or all the public numbers are true and I'd be surprised if oil can stay at 70 its headin down down down.

Naw, I just don't buy it. I am not saying that the numbers are accurate but they area as accurate as the data and guesswork allows. I just can't see dozens of civil servants in the MMS and EIA deliberately fudging the numbers because their bosses tell them to lie.

If the numbers are wrong it is because the data they receive is wrong, or as may be the case with the EIA and world production numbers, they don't get any numbers from some governments so they just guess. And I do believe those guesses may often be a tad optimistic but not a deliberate lie.

Ron P.

I just can't see dozens of civil servants in the MMS and EIA deliberately fudging the numbers because their bosses tell them to lie.

Why do you think it takes dozens ?

Heck the BLS part of US unemployment stats is obviously a joke and its published with a strait face month after month.
Fudged to hell and back. Hundreds of people worked on Enron numbers how on earth could they be fudged ?
Dozens of federal inspectors are responsible for safety in the gulf how can we have a problem ?
I could go on and on and on ..

And we have a whistle blower inside the EIA.


I think this is a pretty weak argument. Also I seriously doubt its dozens involved in the cumulative report for
all we know the final report is probably generated for just the top brass only one human actually gets the totals.
I have worked on data warehousing projects for companies which is whats used to generate the final reports for companies
and my experience is that these are created right out of the data base and go right to the top no human intervention.

This is probably your "dozens of people".


And more info on the dozen's of people.

Heck stuff is sent to one email address.

Unless someone in the lower ranks actually has the initiative to create their own report for the raw data I seriously doubt many see the totals.


Gulf of Mexico may grow again, perhaps to 2 or even 2.5 million barrels a day, before resuming its decline. This would not be a huge amount relative to world production of crude oil of 73 million barrels a day, but compared to the US's crude oil production of 5.4 million barrels a day, this would be a substantial part. In the absence of deep water drilling, Gulf of Mexico production would likely continue to decline, as it did in the 2003 to 2008 period.

Not only did GOM production increase it did so against a declining baseline over a very short time span.
Or did it ?

You can look at this report.


No sign of the sudden increase in 2009.

Also it seems that BOE are now standard from what I can tell. Most of the deep water fields are mixed gas oil fields not primarily oil. Indeed deepwater gas production is impressive. Who decides how the BOE numbers are converted back to oil ?
Given the shear amount of gas production if someone wants to play games and use some formula to calculate oil production instead of real production you can pretty much get any number you want.

The data is here.


Notice if you spend the time looking that the OGOR oil and gas production volumes are not consistent during the recent spike in oil production i.e the oil/gas ratio suddenly distinctly favors oil even though the geology has not changed at least not in the last few hundred years.



The smoking gun is the change to BOE reporting for the US we thought it was for companies but it looks like the Feds are having a field day with it.

I'll admit I've not dug through all the data its a lot however I've not seen anything that suggests that the sudden spike in oil production is 100% real. Indeed if you look at the last two pdf files its veeery interesting.

Found this one its a good one.



Oil gone wild looks more like something from spring break at Daytona than the deep water gulf.

Condensate/NG/Oil ratios completely out of whack for 2009.

I take back my estimate that production was steady looks to me like it might have declined slightly.

Feel free to actually dig all the data is there explain to me how deepwater very gassy oil wells suddenly become fountains of oil in 2009.

Feel free to actually dig all the data is there explain to me how deepwater very gassy oil wells suddenly become fountains of oil in 2009.

GOM annual production from your link. (MMS) (To get daily production divide by 365.)

2000   428,538,644
2001   437,727,331
2002   455,987,435
2003   462,826,025
2004   434,964,396
2005   383,747,924
2006   390,181,135
2007   386,159,544
2008   361,011,420
2009   506,209,670

As you can see 2009 crude production was only slightly above 2003 production. Then the hurricanes hit. The last two were in 2008 but nothing in 2009. Then in 2009 several new projects came on line, Thunder Horse, Atlantis, and several others.

There is no mystery here! No fountains of oil appeared, just no hurricanes and four or five new projects, some that were delayed because of the hurricanes and other problems. Thunder Horse, for instance, was supposed to come on line in 2005 but was delayed by technical problems (and a few hurricanes) until 2009.

You are looking for a conspiracy where no conspiracy exist Memmel.

I am going to bed now. Any further reply from me will have to wait until tomorrow.

Ron P.

He should do a statistical analysis of this data set.

I bet there is a "hide the incline" conspiracy somewhere in there :)

But Thunderhorse has been down half the time with repeated problems.

No problem show me when Atlantis started production and its actual production rate.


Last article I could find was full production by end of 2008.

And remember all these deep water platforms have to have not only increased but also offset whatever the natural decline rate was/is.

Are the flaring all the NG at Atlantis is it tied back with pipelines ?

Basically to get the numbers Thunderhorse and Atlantis would have had to come online about the same time basically ramped to full production and they would have to be flaring the gas or the NG numbers would have followed.

We know Thunderhorse has been very problematic Atlantis has had its share of problems.

Did everything suddenly just work tm ?

I don't think so.


One major project of BP is Thunder Horse. BP has eight producing wells at Thunder House, with a ninth well starting up in the first quarter of 2009. The field is currently producing at over 300,000 gross barrels oil equivalent (BOE) per day. BP has a 75% interest in Thunder Horse, with Exxon-Mobil (NYSE: XOM) owning the other 25%.

Another major Gulf of Mexico for BP is the Atlantis Development. This is a three-phase project, with the company in the middle of phase two. Atlantis has current capacity of 200,000 BOE per day, and was producing 140,000 BOE per day in the spring of 2009. BP has a 56% interest in Atlantis, and is partnering with BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE:BHP), which owns 44%.

Did you notice the BOE ?? This is not real oil production. If its 3:1 NG:Oil then your talking 26kbd of oil from Atlantis. Good enough to keep production stable but not a spike.

Remember these fields contain a significant amount of gas.

I don't see any real reason to believe the numbers and as I said they are required for the US storage build to be plausible. If they are wrong then no build.

I dug both platform are connected to pipelines so they are not flaring.

So where is the NG and Condensate that matches to claimed oil production ?

I can't find it.

Everything is the press is now reported as BOE which means nothing.

I spent over a hour looking for something that explained the situation to no avail.

Whats funny is BP is awfully silent about 2009 you would think Atlantis would be rocking by then.

This is the last official press release I can find.


I'm missing a crapload of NG/Condensate from Thunderhorse and Atlantis wonder where it is.

Any way I wasted enough time digging around the data is hell to figure out on the MMS site.

Interesting link I found more.


Oct. 2009 - BP is using Transocean's GSF Development Driller II to perform workover operations at the Atlantis field on Green Canyon blcok 743. Operations include temporary abandonment of well DC131 on GC743 (BH - GC744). BP is using a phased development approach, with the first phase tieback to the Atlantis production facility.

Sep. 2009 - Aker Solutions signed a contract with BP to perform subsea construction activities at the operator's Atlantis and Thunder Horse fields in the Gulf of Mexico. The scope of work includes installation of subsea hardware including manifolds, pipeline-end manifolds, jumpers, flying leads and related equipment. The project is expected to start in Q4 2009 and will be executed by Aker Solutions' vessels, the BOA Sub C and BOA Deep C. The Atlantis field covers Green Canyon Blocks 698, 588, 700, 742, 743 and 744 while Thunder Horse covers Mississippi Canyon Blocks 777, 778 and 822 in water depths of more than 5,999 feet (1,829 meters).

This suggest a full field shutdown for some time for both fields.

I suspect the NG I'm looking for is still in the ground. And the oil production numbers are simply bogus.
They never really got them running. I'm beginning to think its not just oil floating around out in the deep water GOM some stinky stuff also.

Looks like BP is sitting on the boondoogle of the century in Atlantis and Thunderhorse and now we have the oil spill.

I suspect the safety investigation into Atlantis thats bound to happen might just uncover more than they suspect.

I should have listened to my own advice, never argue with conspiracy theorists. Any conspiracy is feasible to them as long as it fits their philosophy. That is, nothing is the way it seems, someone is always up to no good and feeding us bad data. All data is fudged in an attempt to make BAU continue forever. Never trust The Powers That Be.

Whoever they are. ;-)

Really, the MMS has no reason to fudge the numbers. They poll the producers and report the numbers they give them. To assume that the MMS has other interest than just doing their job the best they can is really silly. No, it is super silly. These people are just grunts and clerks hoping to get a promotion for doing a good job. When a hurricane hits then the data drops like a rock because the producers tell them they are shut down.

Oh, and here are the Thunder Horse production numbers in thousand barrels per day, beginning in June 2008. They were only partially shut down for one month, June for 2009. And the total MMS numbers for the entire GOM reflect these numbers, up and down as they were reported by BP to the MMS.

Jun	19,979
Jul	40,369
Aug	39,600
Sep	32,706
Oct	58,604
Nov	74,336
Dec	141,647
Jan	167,651
Feb	169,864
Mar	199,134
Apr	233,405
May	223,226
Jun	91,123
Jul	217,696
Aug	211,759
Sep	206,562
Oct	197,179
Nov	141,535
Dec	182,295
Jan	189,429
Feb	196,576

One more point. Thunder Horse is in the Eastern GOM and was largely unaffected by the hurricanes in the Western GOM in 2008. They were shut down only for a few days in September 2008. But they were only ramping up then anyway and very little oil was not produced because of the weather.

Ron P.

Whats funny is BP is awfully silent about 2009 you would think Atlantis would be rocking by then

Current Atlantis production seems to be all under lease code G15607. In February 2010 MMS reported production for this lease number was 122 thousand bpd oil and 78 million cubic feet per day gas. This against a design capacity (supposed to be achieved by start 2009) of 200,000 barrels of oil and 180 million cubic feet of gas a day.

Thanks for the info Undertow. I will now make an Atlantis Excel spreadsheet and keep a graph of their porduction.

Ron P.

Hmm I found 140 kbd of BOE reported for spring 2009.


I found two codes associated with atlantis.



Atlantis G15606 GC 742 6,413 Bp Exploration & Producti GC743 05/12/1998 10/2007 04/2009
Atlantis G15607 GC 743 6,413 Bp Exploration & Producti GC743 05/12/1998 10/2007 10/2007

Found your sweet link.


The best day ever according to this was about 137kbd 10 2009 with about a 40kbd or so build over 2008 but its been up and down.

And Atlantis has been near this since 2008 no huge ramp up in 2009 so its not the source of the big ramp in 2009.

To get the reported build in 2009 you would need thunderhorse plus several other large deep water fields and this 40kbd.
So I still don't see any obvious reason for the sharp increase in 2009.

Atlantis G15606 GC 742 6,413 Bp Exploration & Producti GC743 05/12/1998 10/2007 04/2009
Atlantis G15607 GC 743 6,413 Bp Exploration & Producti GC743 05/12/1998 10/2007 10/200

Forgot about that G15606 because no production was logged against it in January (or is missing?) when I downloaded the database. However I see that production has now been logged against it for February so I don't know what was up in January. In any case the production under G15606 is negligible compared to G15607 (approx 2,500 bpd in February).

So we now know that according to MMS stats, Thunderhorse and Atlantis are considerably under-performing and BHP's Neptune field is an unmitigated disaster. Between just these three platforms that's over 150,000 bpd missing from expected GoM production - yet record totals way in excess of predicted levels are being reported.

I just can't see dozens of civil servants in the MMS and EIA deliberately fudging the numbers because their bosses tell them to lie.

Because the civil servants are all honest and took an oath to be honest?

And where would the whistleblowers go the blow the whistle?

A fine example of what civil servants do when ordered by their boss.

Which is maybe why he allowed the oil companies to fill in their own inspection reports, in pencil, to be traced over by government regulators in pen.

Very interesting data Ron. Thanks. As i sit here awaiting info regarding mitigation of the mess in the GOM, 'top kill",l it is interesting to know that we have jeopardized the entire gulf coast for less than 10 percent of our consumption wants. Technology is great, and someone will figure out something, but we will never solve the human error factor and greed in our nature. We have now essentially (obscenity) up one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet in order to drive our SUV's and play our inane games. Shame on us. Sorry, a little melancholy has drifted in with the oil.

It looks to me like the historical numbers might be OK, but the forecast for 2009 missed the mark by a lot. It may be that they got the timing wrong on the ramp up of new production. They were expecting it later.

Also, some of the increased recovery in 2009 may have been water injection or some other approach applied to declining wells to get their production back up again--I know I heard that discussed. That may not have been anticipated. And 2009 was a good hurricane year.

But The MMS forecast was dated May 2009. By that time ThunderHorse had reached close to capacity and has since subsequently declined. All of the production which came on line or would come on line in 2009 was already known about and is included in the forecast. I just don't believe the MMS could have missed completely what was actually happening at the time never mind in the future.

And let's not forget ace's GoM forecast which was even less optimistic than the MMS forecast and was so incredibly badly out that it must cast serious doubt on any future forecasts produced by ace. If the official numbers are to be believed that is. I still would like to see ace comment on just how he believes he (and the MMS) could be apparently "proven" so staggeringly wrong in just a few months. It just doesn't smell right to me.

And I've still never seen an explanation of the EIA web site listing November 2009 production as around 4.9 million barrels per day for several days (after a balance "adjustment" was applied to PADD3) before it was changed back. Was it just a mistake? How did that happen and shouldn't they comment on it? It's tempting to wonder if the EIA briefly listed the correct figure for November 2009.


Re: Oil Leak In Gulf

I apologize if I haven't been keeping up with this crisis in the Gulf but I have been busy. I met an electrical engineer today who was originally trained in Hungary 35 years ago under the authority of the Former Soviet Union while he served in the Army. (Wasn't military service mandatory?) He mentioned something I had heard about but I have seen little discussion of: setting off a nuclear device to block the leak.

"This country is so political that it is difficult to act during times of crisis. In Soviet Union they would have set off bomb and dealt with the consequences later." Igor (fictional name)

This looks like an international emergency. I would like to see a real leader in office. I didn't vote for him but maybe McCain would have maybe been more decisive and pulled the trigger. Let's utilize some of that good old fashioned nuclear knowhow and quit FNing Around with this mess!


Hi Joe,

This is not the type of well that could benefit from a nuclear bomb.

Although the picture in my mind of McCain and Palin standing side by side next to the button and McCain asking Palin if she would like to push it and hearing Palin saying, "you betcha!", does make me grin.

Joe, never trust a Hungarian with the fictional name of Igor!

Sounds like he might have been one of the Soviets when Hungary was under their rule.
The guy sounds like he's went off the deep end a long a time ago...

Many people here have explained why nuking this leak would only make matters worse.


Just because it yields massive amounts of power, what makes people think this uncontrolled blast will actually close off the leaks?

It seems like genuflecting at the alter of 'Force' for its own sake.. and suggesting that following the brute force path is the only sign of true leadership. It sounds like it's more a desperate than a reasonable solution.

Ok, I'm king for a day and here's my list of questions before using a tactical nuke:

1. What about the pressure differential, is it enough at this depth?
2. Can we ensure enough temperature gradient to liquefy the rock thereby sealing the well?
3. Should we be successful in capping this well in glass, will it hold?
(note I didn't say "indefinitely, I'm gonna throw them a bone here)
4. Radiation levels, c'mon boys what are we dealin' with here...?
5. Should we draw straws for the defense contractor that gets to try out their new toy?

But, we know they have bunker busters that are designed to penetrate levels of reinforced concrete and detonate. So wouldn't the same idea be applicable here? Assuming the device could operate at 5,000 ft depth.

re: setting off a nuclear device to block the leak.

So, instead of having oily shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico, you have radioactive shrimp. This improves the situation how?

"Look dear, we don't need candles for a romantic atmosphere. The cajun shrimp are giving off enough light to eat by."


The U.S. Exports More Corn Ethanol


in the beginning i was aghast of the oil spill. criminal negligence. but now i see the benefits.
gaz-o-leen prices dropping. i think we need a few more oil spills to force the price under a buck.
last hurrah? who cares? no one gets out of here alive.

my take is that big oil wants to buy the chump class off. gaz goez cheap we drive to mickey d's and
get a super sized meal.

all the big boyz are rolling in cash and the good life. mebbe they are cutting us some slack before the slaughter.

remember, the man enslaved to wealth can never be honest. and...there is no limit to human greed and folly. and...the goobermint is run by crooks for crooks.

all shown in the past month concerning the deep water rig in the gulf. they made billions if not trillions, destroyed the gulf of mexico and we get a dollar off for gaz. you read it here on the oil conundrum. all told by trolls and shills.

you may think i am a crack pot. nope. titan, a moon of saturn is covered in hydrocarbons. it has lakes of methane. right now, as we debate the finer points of the planetary debacle, plans are being made to go get that juice.

before humanity does itself in we will destroy more than one world.

even JHK is enjoying the ride down. a trip by plane to a far away city. no tramp steamers for him or riding the rail. i say we all do the same thing. enjoy the ride down. when was the last time
we had a memorial day wekend with gaz going down?

Has anyone seen a fish swim by the video camera? I saw something, but it was too fast to catch. Are they even any fish down there, at least a recognizable fish that does not look like a mutant? I need to TIVO the feed and start watching the NBA Conference Finals.

Seems like lots of eels

Those are not eels.

Those are alien hatchlings deposited in 1957 from an fiery crash of a reported meteor into the Gulf. Inadvertently, we have drilled into the nursery of a species from space that has a lifespan of 1,800 years. This is true, a drinking buddy of mine in New Orleans is a retired alien expedition commander, he confirms it. That is why the government is covering up most all of the undersea video.

Boy, there is not an information source more astute, without bias or compromise, a bastion of virtue and honesty, or truth personified than a drinking buddy. Man, if it wasn't for guys like Cliff Clavin we would be a lost morass of ignoramuses. I hope those entrapped aliens are at least enjoying their new found freedom and maybe they will want to settle in Louisiana, find jobs as farm labor or day laborers, buy a house, raise a family, and then get tossed out of the country like in Arizona.

That would be grand wouldn't it? The American Dream,... expendable cheap labor to mow the lawns, pick the lettuce, nanny for the kids - I bet as eels they are really good at washing floors - and then demonized and ostracized when times get tough. Bet its not as good on the planet they came from! I'll bet they don't even have guns there!

Heard some of them saying, "If only I were Cuban, and had a foot to put on dry land..."

BC, you heard them eels wrong. They said "If only I were on dry land, and had a foot to put on a Cuban. . ."

Aliens are hostile. Haven't you seen all the movies? Besides, here in Louisiana there is no pickable lettuce, and we already have enough alien material oozing in. And if them eels come out of the same pool that's gushing oil, BP will have to top kill them too. More bad PR, more legal maneuvering on the horizon (deepwater). OTOH perhaps the buggers can be used in the next side-show. Do they ingest or excrete hydrocarbons, that is the question? Will the government engage in study or cover up? And so on, ad infinitum, ad naseum.

Most are employed in service industries and construction, not field labor and the like. You are lucky you are in BC, BC doesn't have places that have turned into El Salvador as of yet.

You are lucky you are in BC, BC doesn't have bigots like Floridian as of yet.