Drumbeat: November 16, 2010

Byron King: What the Rioting French Mean for Your Wealth

Neither France, nor the Western world generally, is living in a time of relative prosperity. Not anymore. Maybe not ever again.

Things have changed in this world, probably forever. The economic rise of China has caused an earthquake across history. That, coupled with the self-inflicted collapse of much of the Western way of running capital markets and managing economic growth over the long haul.

In just the past 15 years or so, China has evolved into a nation of immense demand. China has become the key player in a world of fierce resource competition. Look around. Things like energy, minerals, water and food are scarce, and getting scarcer. China is driving a long-term bull market in resources of every sort, from oil to iron, copper to cotton, cement to soybeans.

Crude Oil Declines to Two-Week Low as European Debt Woes May Curb Demand

Crude oil tumbled to a two-week low on speculation Europe’s deepening debt crisis and steps to cool Asia’s economic growth will reduce commodity demand.

Oil slid 3 percent as European ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss aid to Ireland’s banks. The Bank of Korea raised interest rates for the second time this year and the China Securities Journal said the Chinese government will take steps to control rising prices. The drop accelerated after U.S. wholesale costs rose less than forecast in October.

Thanksgiving travel: Brace for a big surge

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- An improving economy is behind an expected surge in Thanksgiving travel, according to a forecast released Tuesday.

Motorist group AAA and IHS Global Insight project that 42.2 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. That would be an increase of more than 11% from last year, when 37.9 million people traveled during the 5-day holiday period.

B.C. shale a priority, says Nexen

CALGARY — The top executive of Nexen Inc. says acquisitions are taking a back seat to opportunities to cash in on its large shale gas holdings in northeastern British Columbia.

“When we look around the acquisition world today, we tend to see a lot of very mature assets on their last legs in mature basins,” CEO Marvin Romanow said Tuesday in a webcast presentation for analysts and investors.

International Energy Agency Says 'Peak Oil' Began in 2006

The International Energy Agency has released its World Energy Outlook for 2010, forecasting for the first time that the global crude oil production peak that so many have long feared, has in fact already been reached—more than four years ago. International demand has since fallen slightly thanks to a recent global economic downturn, but once economies around the world have recovered, the IEA says daily crude production alone will no longer be sufficient to meet their needs.

So is the world is headed for a Mad Max-style apocalypse? Not according the IEA. The 2010 report projects that increases in other fossil fuels like natural gas and tar sands will mostly supplant crude in meeting new demand—with clean, renewable energy sources also making major gains.

A Tale of Two Fuels...

In a post-peak-oil world, an interesting dichotomy is emerging between our two primary sources of energy.

I say post-peak-oil because of a report issued by the International Energy Agency last week. It showed global crude oil production peaked in 2006 at 70 million barrels per day (mbd), and will plateau around 69 mbd through 2015.

Now pay attention to this part, because it's where making money gets really easy...

Competing for the Prize is Part of the Prize

Some companies are betting big that the new Prize -- in terms of sheer billions in wealth available for the taking -- is to be found in the natural gas shales found the world over. That certainly seems sensible if you view the world from the perspective dominant in industry when Daniel Yergin published his seminal book The Prize -- especially with the mounting consensus about Peak Oil, on which even the International Energy Agency now agrees.

But the greater Prize, if you're looking for total value creation potential by companies and for society, is environmental innovation -- for low-carbon energy generation, electric and hybrid vehicles, energy efficiency, and other clean technologies.

Prices for used cars hit a record high

FORTUNE -- New or used? Burdened by a weak economy, U.S. carbuyers are choosing the latter option more and more, helping to drive used-car prices to a record high while holding back new-vehicle sales that are sputtering at roughly two-thirds of the pre-recession level.

Economists have a word for it: Substitution.

Electric car charging station unveiled

The District this morning unveiled its first public, curbside electric car charging station, located at the Franklin D. Reeves Center on 14th St. NW, with two spaces for charging vehicles. Mayor Adrian Fenty was joined by Department of Energy Undersecretary Cathy Zoi and District Department of Transportation Director Gabe Klein for the opening.

The station is the result of a $15 million Department of Energy grant which in the next year will provide 4,600 charging stations in Austin, southern Michigan, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Sacramento, the Bay Area, Washington state and the District.

'Scary Norwegian costs must come down'

The cost of oil and gas exploration and production off Norway is "scary" and must be reduced if the country aims to develop more fields, Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said today.

"Cost developments on the Norwegian continental shelf over the past few years are, in my view, scary. The numbers are too high and pose a challenge," Reuters quoted Johansen telling an oil seminar in the Norwegian capital.

He said rates for rigs were four times what they were in 2003.

"This is a pattern that must be broken," he said.

Reliving a decade of bad news and bad fashion

Mounting deficits. Economic stagnation, high unemployment, and fears of worsening inflation. Peak oil. Calls for a return to the gold standard. Declining American power. Deepening pessimism and an unpopular president.

And what’s with the shaggy hair? High school students look like the cast of That 70s Show.

Which is fitting, I suppose, because it increasingly feels as though we’ve been whisked back more than 30 years and we’re re-living the decade of bad news and bad fashion.

Ethanol subsidy under fire

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- For years, American taxpayers have subsidized ethanol production in a bid to boost the nation's energy independence.

Now a boom in ethanol exports is drawing fresh criticism of that tax credit, which cost taxpayers $6 billion last year.

The United States this year became a net exporter of corn-based ethanol, exporting more than it imports, as a spike in the price of sugar-based ethanol made by Brazil has given U.S. ethanol a leg up on prices.

Nissan's all-electric Leaf sparks quest for plug-in power

REDMOND, Wash. — Someday, millions of electric cars will be on America's roads, gulping down the juice from tens of thousands of charging stations scattered around the country. But "someday" isn't here just yet — which is why I'm so happy I found a space in the parking garage next to an electrical outlet for my Nissan Leaf .

Venezuela Seeks China Aid on Power Projects After Shortages Hurt Industry

Venezuela is in talks with China for 3,000 megawatts of new electricity projects as it seeks to boost production capacity following a crisis earlier this year that forced power rationing to avoid a collapse of the national grid.

Chinese companies may work on at least five projects to build hydroelectric reservoirs and thermoelectric plants in Venezuela as the nation seeks to boost capacity by 18,700 megawatts, Electricity Minister Ali Rodriguez said yesterday in an interview in Caracas, without naming the companies involved.

Venezuela is strengthening ties with China and tapping Russia for help to build its first nuclear plant to diversify power sources. The El Nino weather phenomenon caused drought earlier this year, cutting water levels at the hydro dams that provide 73 percent of the country’s power. The dry period led to Venezuela’s worst power crisis in six years, prompting cuts to production lines at state-run aluminum and steel companies.

Interview with Chris Martenson: "Prepare for peak oil while there is time."

AA: You can’t do anything without energy.

CM: No, you can’t. Even Julian Simon, who had the famous commodities bet with Paul Ehrlich once upon a time… he said: “Energy is the master resource”. That's absolutely right. This is why the United States has the Carter Doctrine, which is about how we are going to control, or make sure that oil flows from Middle East. We do not have any banana doctrines, you know, to ensure the bananas flow, or anything else that is completely replaceable. But energy is not replaceable. So just intuitively we can understand that the data shows good degrees of correlation…

Offshore resources seen as key economic solution

THE IRISH Offshore Operators’ Association has said Ireland’s offshore resources could provide an “important solution” to the State’s economic problems.

The association, which represents the oil and gas industry, says that just two finds off the west coast could make a “big hole in the bill for Anglo Irish”.

Supertanker rates are little changed on ample supply of vessels

The cost of shipping Middle East crude oil to Asia, the world’s busiest supertanker route, was little changed amid an ample supply of vessels.

Charter rates for very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, on the industry’s benchmark Saudi Arabia to Japan route slipped 0.03 point to 62.85 worldscale points, according to the London based Baltic Exchange. Earnings from the voyage gained 3.7 percent to $19,786 a day after plunging last week by the most in five weeks.

China: Diesel shortage spreads throughout the country

The diesel shortage in many provinces and cities has not been relieved. Instead, it is getting worse. According to Economic Information Daily, many institutions on Nov. 15 said the wholesale price of diesel continues to remain above 8,000 yuan a ton, with the price in some remote areas standing close to 10,000 yuan a ton. The wholesale price is dropping far away from the retail price.

"In only one or two weeks, the diesel shortage which was originally only in east and north China has already spread to the whole of China. Diesel prices across the country have increased generally, which has led to a phenomenon of high prices but no sales. The diesel price in some remote areas in southwest China and Sichuan has increased to 8 yuan a liter, equivalent to 9,500 yuan a ton," said Liao Kaishun, refined oil product analyst from C1 Energy Company.

Oman Contract Struggles to Benchmark Middle East Oil Prices

The challenge remains to break market inertia in the Middle East and Asia against futures contracts, a “paper” derivate that prices oil depending on the delivery date. Spot prices or termed contracts can be hedged by betting on a future price of crude. But it’s speculative and the price rally in 2008 to around $150 a barrel illustrates that.

Still, futures contracts and other energy derivative contracts are expected to increasingly play a greater role in oil markets, alongside traditional supply and demand fundamentals, which explains why the DME, backed by the New York Mercantile Exchange, set up its futures Oman contract in June 2007, with the attractive option of offering physical delivery.

Industrial energy conservation drive launched

ISLAMABAD: The Engineering Development Board (EDB) has embarked on an energy conservation programme in the industrial sector and engaged an expert from the Netherlands. The programme has been launched keeping in view the energy crisis, which has adversely affected almost all sectors, particularly the industrial sector, an EDB statement said.

Review: The Impending World Energy Mess by Robert Hirsch, Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling

The Hirsch team identifies two main types of mitigation that they believe could help us deal with this oil-starved future. The first one, administrative mitigation, includes things like carpooling, telecommuting and government-mandated fuel rationing. The second type, which they call physical mitigation, encompasses measures such as using more fuel-efficient transportation; ramping up enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in existing fields that are past their primes; and generating more liquid fuels from tar sands, heavy oil and coal-to-liquid/gas-to-liquid operations.

The authors see administrative mitigation as enabling us to dramatically stretch out existing supplies, and physical mitigation as generating and/or freeing up as much as 30 million barrels per day of additional supply. That comes out to roughly one-third of total present-day global consumption, and it’s what the authors expect will be lost to depletion over the next one to two decades. Because depletion will have a long head start over our mitigation efforts, it will take us a while to pull ourselves out of the red energy-wise. But once we do, with luck we’ll be able to gracefully ride down the final stretch of the depletion curve.

Kurt Cobb: Why I wrote Prelude, a peak oil novel

Every culture lives by its narratives. And, these narratives come to us not just in the form of novels, plays, movies and television shows. They also come in the form of news stories, ideology, religious doctrine, theories that are social, political and scientific, and myriad other works which fall under the category of nonfiction. Over time these narratives become outmoded, and new ones emerge, or at least, the old ones are reworked in light of new circumstances.

Prelude, my peak oil novel, is part of a broader, ongoing process that is developing a counternarrative to the dominant one which is driving our global society toward the brink of social, economic and environmental collapse. At first, counternarratives are voiced by the few who perceive changed realities and try to articulate those new realities in ways that will allow a broader group of people to see them. There is an action plan implied by these counternarratives, but their effect on the actual functioning of society is small at this point. Widespread organized and concerted action for change still lies in the future.

Can Congress Avoid a Climate Science War?

The military’s position is simple, oceans are rising and weather is becoming more unstable, using what we know we must move to ensure a stable geo-political order. The statement draws no conclusions about who is destabilizing the climate, choosing to focus rather on the need for solutions.

Chevy Volt: Motor Trend Car of the Year

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Motor Trend Magazine has named General Motors' Chevrolet Volt its "Car of the Year."

The magazine's editor-in-chief, Angus MacKenzie, called the award one of "the most significant" Car of the Year awards in the magazine's history. Motor Trend has been published since 1949.

Survey: Consumer wariness to limit EV sales

Pike Research today released a survey of 1,042 U.S. consumers that found interest in highway-capable gas-electric hybrids and battery electric cars, with 44 percent of respondents saying they would be interested in a plug-in with a range of 40 miles to 100 miles and a fuel equivalent of 75 cents per gallon.

A battery range of 40 miles suited 83 percent of drivers, with the average being 26.6 miles per day. The Chevy Volt, which is now shipping to early customers, has an electric range of 25 to 50 miles with a gas tank to run a generator to charge the batteries for longer drivers. The Nissan Leaf, shipping later this year, has a range of about 100 miles.

Gazprom of Russia to Drill for Oil in Cuban Waters

MOSCOW — The Russian energy giant Gazprom has joined a growing list of companies that plan to drill for oil in the waters off Cuba, close to the United States but out of reach of its safety regulators.

Cuba produces little oil now, but petroleum experts say the country’s northern coastal waters could hold plentiful reserves, which could help revive the island’s economy and ease its dependence on oil imported from Venezuela. Half a dozen companies have signed deals to work as close as 50 miles off the United States coast, but none from the United States because of the 48-year-old trade embargo.

Oil Declines a Third Day on Speculation Fuel Demand Recovery May Falter

Oil declined for a third day to trade at a two-week low on speculation Europe’s deepening debt debt crisis and government steps to cool Asia’s economic growth will reduce demand for commodities.

Futures fell after the Bank of Korea raised interest rates for the second time this year and the China Securities Journal said the Chinese government will take further steps to control price increases, while European ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss aid to Ireland’s banks. An Energy Department report tomorrow may still show U.S. crude stockpiles fell last week.

“European debt problems have re-emerged, scaring away investors from risky assets such as oil,” said Thorbjoern Bak Jensen, an analyst at Global Risk Management in Middelfart, Denmark. “We expect oil to continue trading in range between $81 and $90.”

Hedge Funds Increase Natural Gas Bets Before Price Decline

Hedge funds raised bullish bets on natural gas futures to a six-week high the day before prices plunged on record inventories and warmer-than-expected weather.

Diesel price decontrol is not on agenda: Deora

NEW DELHI: The government is not considering freeing diesel pricing from its control yet, oil minister Murli Deora said in Parliament on Tuesday.

"Currently, there is no proposal under consideration to fully decontrol the price of diesel," Deora said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

State-owned Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp sell diesel at a rate which is Rs 2.62 per litre below its imported cost, he said.

The Philippines: Oil price hike a ‘highway robbery’ says Bayan Muna

Like the proverbial thief in the night, the oil companies again surprised the public with an oil price increase.

Angola Plans to Ship at Least 51 Oil Cargoes in January, Matching December

Angola’s Oil Ministry has disputed estimates that place its OPEC quota at 1.517 million barrels a day. The ministry has said the information used to estimate the cap is inaccurate and its actual target is 1.656 million.

Maersk Drilling Plans to Order Rig Every Six Months, Chief Hemmingsen Says

Maersk Drilling, which has the second-youngest fleet of oilrigs, aims to order a new one every six months as rental rates rise and competitors buy each other or combine, its chief executive officer said.

Clarity of vision can keep corruption at bay in oil nations

The reasons why one country benefits from minerals while another squanders them are complex and still under debate. But there is growing consensus that it is crucial for citizens and civil society to be able to hold their government to account for the way it manages its natural resources and spends the proceeds.

Studies show that countries with better access to information have better governance scores, higher economic growth, superior fiscal discipline and better credit scores.

Apache Corp to get stake in Australia block-sources

(Reuters) - U.S.-based Apache Corp is set to get 40 percent of Australian exploration block WA 388P as the current partners hand over part of their stakes to reduce drilling costs, three Indian industry sources said on Tuesday.

FACTBOX-Brazil's major deep-water oil discoveries

(Reuters) - Brazil's vast deep-water oil reserves have become a new frontier for energy exploration that could turn the South American nation into a major energy exporter.

Experts believe the country may have more than 50 billion barrels of oil that are buried as much as 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) below the ocean's surface beneath a thick layer of salt in a region known as the subsalt.

Gazprom will continue in November the talks on gas deliveries to China

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) -- Gazprom will continue in November the talks on gas deliveries to China, Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom Board Deputy Chairman, said at a conference, entitled “Gas of Russia.” According to Medvedev, the talks will be held during a visit of the Chinese prime minister to Russia, PRIME-TASS reports.

Medvedev believes that China’s gas market is big enough to consume gas delivered both by Gazprom and other Russian companies. There will be enough room on the Chinese market for gas deliveries of the gas monopoly and “for gas delivered by some Russian companies, which would like to deliver to China the gas they buy from other countries,” Medvedev said.

Gazprom: Europe May Take 10BCM Less Gas Than Contracted This Year

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- European buyers of Russian natural gas may import 10 billion cubic meters less than contracted this year, deputy chief executive of Russia's state-gas firm OAO Gazprom Alexander Medvedev said Tuesday.

Medvedev said the volume of what are known as "virtual exports"--gas paid for under contract but not actually imported by its European buyers--totaled 5 billion cubic meters last year.

"It's highly likely that the volume of virtual exports compared with last year will be more than twice as high," Medvedev said.

Militants kidnap 7 from Exxon platform off Nigeria

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it had detonated explosives rigged to the facility and kidnapped seven local workers. There was no independent confirmation of any damage to the platform.

The group warned of further attacks in the heartland of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

"In the coming weeks, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta will launch a major operation that will simultaneously affect oil facilities across the Niger Delta," it said in a statement emailed to the media.

ExxonMobil Shuts Some Output After Nigeria Attack

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) confirmed Monday that it suspended some oil production in Nigeria after armed attackers boarded an offshore facility Sunday night, the latest in a string of incidents in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region.

The U.S. oil giant released few details about the disruption, but an ExxonMobil spokesman said in an email that "production on the facility has been shut in as a precautionary measure." The spokesman gave no details on the amount of production affected by the incident and didn't identify the name of the field affected.

Iran kicks off 5-day air defense war games

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran kicked off five-day air defense war games on Tuesday to display the country's capabilities in protecting its nuclear facilities from possible attack, state television reported.

The drill followed an announcement by the Iranian Air Force saying its troops earlier this year conducted an exercise at several facilities — from the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, the under-construction enrichment site at Fordo, to the nuclear conversion facility near Isfahan and the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Hydrofracking presents short-term solution with long-term consequences

Last week, the International Energy Agency released its annual report, which noted that peak oil — that point in which conventional oil reserves have been fully tapped and production will begin to decline in the coming decades — came and went around 2006, at about 70 million barrels of oil a day. This is the point of no return, where the economics of dirty energy becomes entirely unsustainable for even the short-term forecast of energy demands. This news should compel all responsible governments to start planning for a green future.

Instead, we are seeing a rise in unconventional practices, such as hydrofracking, here in New York state. Not only could this contaminate our drinking water, but it also gives natural gas developers a competitive advantage at the public's expense.

Oil will run out 100 years before new fuels developed: study

The researchers' calculations were based on the theory that long-term investors are good predictors of when new technologies will become commonplace.

"Sophisticated investors tend to put considerable effort into collecting, processing and understanding information relevant to the future cash flows paid by securities," said Malyshkina.

"As a result, market forecasts of future events, representing consensus predictions of a large number of investors, tend to be relatively accurate."

Globalizing the Energy Revolution

The world faces a daunting array of energy challenges. Oil remains indispensable to the global economy, but it is increasingly produced in places that present big commercial, environmental, and geopolitical risks; greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere; and the odds that the world will face catastrophic climate change are increasing. These problems will only worsen as global demand for energy rises.

Environmental advocates and security hawks have been demanding for decades that governments solve these problems by mandating or incentivizing much greater use of the many alternative energy sources that already exist. The political reality, however, is that none of this will happen at the necessary scale and pace unless deploying clean energy becomes less financially risky and less expensive than it currently is. This is particularly true in the developing world.

China rare earth dominance seen remaining - Van Eck

(Reuters) - Countries outside of China are scrambling to invest in domestic supplies of rare earth metals, but new mines could take 10 years to come on stream, asset manager Van Eck Global said on Monday.

China accounts for 97 percent of world total production of rare earth, which was around 120,000 tonnes in 2008, mining experts say.

Senegal to Build 175-Megawatt Wind Power Parks on North Shore, Soleil Says

Senegal is constructing two wind turbine parks along its northern shore, including a 125 megawatt farm that will come online next year, Le Soleil reported, citing Minister for Renewable Energy Louis Seck.

A second 50 megawatt plant will be built on the northern shore in a different location, the newspaper reported.

Uranium Demand Rising as China `Piles Up' Contracts, Paladin Energy Says

Paladin Energy Ltd., the Australian mining company producing uranium in Africa, expects prices to keep rising as China drives demand for nuclear fuel.

China has “piled up” contracts to import uranium, Paladin Chief Executive Officer John Borshoff told analysts on a call today. “Although they have sucked a chunk out of new production, they are nowhere near their target of acquiring in the vicinity of 45 to 50 million pounds per annum by 2020.”

China Guangdong Nuclear Says Leak at Daya Has No Impact on Environment

Radiation that leaked from Daya Bay nuclear power station, China’s first large-scale atomic generator, poses no danger to the environment, the public or plant workers, said China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group Co.

The leak, detected on Oct. 23, was caused by a fault at a pipeline bearing coolant from the No. 1 reactor, the state-owned company said on its website today. The fault has been fixed since it was found on Oct. 26, Guangdong Nuclear said.

Chile May Develop Geothermal Energy Projects With Bolivia, Efe Reports

Chile wants to develop geothermal energy fields jointly with its neighbor Bolivia, Efe reported yesterday, citing Chilean Energy Minister Ricardo Rainieri.

Record US ethanol exports raise tax issue

US ethanol, subsidised as a homegrown alternative to foreign oil, is being exported in record volumes.

The exports stand in contrast to the goals of US biofuels policy, which seeks to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels in part by offering tax credits to companies that blend ethanol with petrol. The rising tide of outbound shipments will be central to the debate over the blender’s tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year. Exporters’ use of that credit is already drawing objections in Europe.

China seen quietly opening sluice for mega hydro projects

BEIJING (Reuters) - China may have quietly opened the floodgates to build new massive hydropower projects after a near halt due to environmental, immigration and other concerns, as Beijing steps up efforts to achieve clean energy and emissions targets.

Myanmar, China Thailand Agree to Study for $10 Billion Hydropower Project

China, Myanmar and Thailand agreed to study a $10 billion hydropower project that would be Southeast Asia’s largest by generation capacity, the Chinese government said.

Carmakers gearing up for mass market EVs

(Reuters) - When it comes to the outlook for electric vehicles, the auto industry is divided -- there's Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn on one side and everybody else on the other.

A ‘Castle’ Commute, Minus the Royal Coach

The stars of “Castle,” the hit police drama on ABC, posted a series of online videos Monday about trying to go car-free in one of the most car-dependent cities in the world — Los Angeles. Named the Alternative Travel Project, the series aims at encouraging viewers everywhere to give up their cars for at least one day a week.

Energy rebates on appliances don't move water heaters

WASHINGTON — Lured by $300 million in stimulus-funded rebates on energy-efficient appliances, consumers have bought more than 615,000 washing machines, refrigerators and other appliances under the "dollars for dishwashers" program.

But despite rebates up to $425, less than 3% of those consumers bought water heaters — often the second-largest energy hog in the home, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Europe Should Consider CO2 Offsets to Cut Energy Bill, Global Carbon Says

Europe should consider using CO2 offsets that would also reduce natural gas prices when choosing which credits to allow into its emissions market in the eight years through 2020, said Global Carbon BV.

China, India, Russia vow to deepen cooperation

BEIJING (AFP) – The foreign ministers of developing giants China, India and Russia pledged on Monday to step up cooperation in trade, energy and geopolitical affairs including climate change.

FACTBOX - Major nations' plans for slowing climate change

Following is an overview of a U.N. yardstick for curbs and national promises by major emitters of greenhouse gases:

The New Floods and Draughts

Dust storms scour Iraq. Freak floods wreak havoc in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Rising sea levels erode Egypt's coast. Tuvulu and the Seychelles may disappear altogether as hey submerge into the ocean. A comprehensive vulnerability index suggests you move to Scandinavia, Ireland or Iceland as slightly safer places.

How could a guy be stupid if he can name every steer in Texas?

Already having been branded a liar by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, ex-US President George W. Bush's intelligence has now been questioned by Schröder's former spokesman. (...)

"We noticed that the intellectual level of the (US president) was exceedingly limited," Uwe-Karsten Heye, Schröder's former government spokesman, told the television news station N24 on Wednesday in reference to Bush. "As such, it was difficult for us to communicate with him." Heye continued: "He had no idea about what was going on in the world. He was so fixated on being a Texan. I think he knew every longhorn in Texas."


Why are you assuming all the names were correct?

I think he knew every longhorn in Texas

Indeed Heye used the word "longhorn" in the original statement, although "longhorn" is pretty unusual in German. I guess he was rather meaning "Hornochse" (blockhead) but didn't dare to say it.

What does this have to do with the price of oil in Germany?

Germany knows the name of every terrorist in Hamburg.

Agreed. This is marginally on topic at best. If you must post stuff like this, wait until later in the day.

I've suspected for a long time that American's often vore for dumb presidents, e.g., Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, and can't handle someone intelligent like Jimmy Carter. My suspicion will be confirmed if Sarah Palin is elected. Can someone who'se American fill me in why this is he case?

Speaking as an American....,

I wish I knew the answer...,

But, I don't.....

I'm not sure,,, was it JHK who wrote; "You'll vote for me, 'cause I'm dumb like you" ?

My dear departed father-in-law used to say we got the government we deserved.

Ask Darwinian. He is, after all, a Darwinian.

Well, everything in politics is just an opinion, so here is my opinion. Americans, and I suspect almost everyone else, votes for people that think like they do. Hunters and gun nuts vote for people that support guns. Religious pro life people vote for religious people who promise to ban abortions and pro choice people vote for people who support the right to choose.

Of course no one can possibly agree with any candidate on everything so they vote for the one that they agree with most. But I think you would find that the more religious a person is the more they tend to vote republican and the less religious a person is the more they tend to vote democratic.

So people who are less intelligent usually vote republican and more intelligent people usually vote democratic. I just had to throw that in. ;-)

Of course you must have noticed that democrats presidents, Carter, Clinton and Obama seem to be very smart while republicans, Reagan, Bush and Bush seem to be dumb as dirt, especially the last Bush. Then here comes Palin. Need I say more? ;-)

Ron P.

"Every country has the politician it deserves" I was told a long time ago

Always blame the victim. (She had it coming to her.)

I am somewhat offended by the assertion that Republicans are some how a bunch of inbred freaks. I do not consider myself religious and as for as intelligence, I do have earned Masters and Doctorates however I am a republican and have been for decades.

Indeed the Republicans I have known and dealt with Leveret Saltonstall, Endicott Peabody, William Weld et cet were and are highly intelligent and progressive people. In fact when the Democrats of the deep south were trying to maintain a segregated Jim Crow system Governor Peobody's mother (who was also a Republican) was arrested because she was trying to integrate a racially segregated restaurant.

As for the Democrats I have known, in the past year a number of my state's Democratic state senators have resigned for such things as excessive DUI's, sexual assault, and of course the ole reliable taking of bribes. There is also currently local Democratic city councilor who refuses to resign even after a federal jury has recently convicted him of accepting a bribe. Of my state's three previous Speakers of the House (all Democrats) all had left office under a cloud two are convicted felons and the third resigned and is awaiting trial after he was charged with rigging of state contracts.

I prefer to be in the party of Elliot Richardson, Edward Brooke, Bill Weld and Mitt Romney than that of Charles Flaherty, Chuck Turner, Thomas Finneran, Dianne Wilkerson or Salvatore DiMasi.

Arne Carlson, a Republican, was a liberal and one of the best governors Minnesota ever had; he was Republican. So was Rudy Boschwich (sp.) another very fine and Republican Governor. Execpt for Michelle Bachmann, Minnesota Republicans tend to be just as smart as Democrats. Our present governor, Tim Pawlenty, a moderate Republican, is surreptitiously running for president in 2012. He's not especially smart, but you don't need a giant intellect to be an excellent president. For example, I do not think FDR was especially smart, but he was a great judge of people and surrounded himself with a brain trust that were truly some of the brightest men of their time.

When I began working for the state of Minnesota in 1995, Arne Carlson was the governor and I remember thinking that I couldn't wait for him to be out of office as there had to be someone better than him. He drove a hard bargain and the unions had tough times negotiating contracts with his administration. Of course, Mr. Carlson was succeeded by none other than Jesse Ventura and I thought that it just couldn't get any worse than this. Well, I gotta say that his commissioners were very good, but I am not sad to see him gone. Then we got Mr. Pawlenty and again I said that it couldn't get any worse than this. He is certainly no friend of state employees. Ahhh, I find myself yearning for the Carlson administration. Of course two years ago I found a job with Uncle Sam and left state service. I have this uncomfortable feeling that Mr. Obama may find himself a one term president and I could be saying the same things all over again! Oh well, I am just very happy to still have the job I still have.

Hope your weekend in Grand Rapids was fine. Ours over here in Bemidji was pretty good. Just a trace of snow and half way decent temps. Although the deer hunting has been so-so for me.

If you ever find yourself in this part of the state, let me know. I'd like to meet others on this board.


It cuts both ways (R-D), but we were told the same story about candidate G.W. Bush: He wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he would be an 'MBA President', a Presidential CEO who would surround himself with the A-team.

Such as Vice-President Cheney.

And Donald Rumsfeld.

And 'Heckuva Job' Brownie.

Applies to D's as well as R's: President Obama has been mediocre.

I would never vote for a person to be president who has an MBA. I have an MBA in finance (U.C., Berkeley, 1965), and nobody in the MBA program was even remotely qualified for leadership--except for one old fat guy who had been a salesman; he might have been all right.

Engineers make potentially great presidents. Had Hoover not had the misfortune to stumble into the Great Depression, he could have been a great two-term president. Jimmy Carter, a nuclear engineer, was probably the smartest president of the twentieth century. I am about to start writing an alternate-history science fiction novelette in which Jimmy Carter is re-elected in 1980 and then puts the U.S. on a successful transition away from fossil fuels, which is achieved by year 2000.

Obama is worse than mediocre. He has no leadership qualities. He is bewildered. He is like Ethelred the Unready, does not know where to go for good advice, has no idea of how to make deals with Republicans. In the history books I suspect Obama will go down as one of our worst presidents since Warren G. Harding. He is certainly worse than either Bush president, IMO.

The last time I voted for a major party candidate was for Richard Nixon in 1972; I voted for him because I thought he would immediately upon inauguration get us out of Lyndon Johnson's war, the Vietnam debacle. Nixon was not as bad a president as Watergate might make one think. He was certainly better than LBJ with his repeated escalations of the Vietnam war and carpet bombing of civilians in a lost cause. I HATE LBJ.

For the past thirty-eight years I always have voted for minor party candidates and have often voted for Ralph Nader. Now I think Nader is too old, and I'll probably vote for the Green party candidate. I do wish more people would vote for minor party candidates. Of course it does not matter; I think since the Eisenhower landslide Minnesota has always supported the Democratic party candidate. (I might be wrong about that; it is possible but not likely that Reagan carried Minnesota in his landslide election.)

Obama is worse than mediocre. ... has no idea of how to make deals with Republicans.

His problems is that he thinks he can do deals with Republicans, yet their strategy is to allow no deals (other than complete policy surrenders), and then let the public decide he has failed. So I agree about the mediocre part, what really killed him is seeing Republican (and Blue Dog) opposition he did a much much smaller stimulus than the economists recommeneded, and as we've seen there are no do-overs or even mid course corrections allowed.

Yes, Nixon. I remember hating him passionately. Now I wish we had an administration that could accomplish the sort of "liberal" things he was able to do. Started the EPA, did a deal with China etc. Its a real indication of how far on the ideological spectrum we've moved. That a guy formerly thought of as a conservative monster, now looks like a mainstream liberal.


Good on you...I always thought that Ralph Nader would be a breath of fresh air.

Some type of rank or range voting might allow a better variety of people to be able to serve their countrymen...but I think these types of voting concepts would bewilder many people.

While you may hate LBJ, please don't put all the blame on him, since he inherited a war that was the result of events which began to build up after WW II and continued thru Eisenhower's two terms. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger also did some really bad things during the Vietnam War. For example, the secret bombing campaign in Cambodia and Laos, where Kissinger actually picked the targets and set up the deception with flights of B-52's going to other locations than the stated targets. Kissinger's efforts to influence the North Vietnamese in negotiations to end the war were a disaster. Nixon was rather paranoid about the anti-war movement, building an enemies list and authorizing much more than just the Watergate break in. Nixon is said to have had a serious problem with alcohol too. For further background, you can read Seymour Hersh's book, "The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House"...

E. Swanson

Not all Republicans are morons like Bush.
Herbert Hoover was very smart(considered to be the smartest man in the country) AND a Republican.
The problem is their ideology.

Bush is also a plagiarist of the highest rank. If he were a scientist (haha) he would be an outcast immediately.

I prefer to be in the party of Elliot Richardson, Edward Brooke, Bill Weld and Mitt Romney than that of Charles Flaherty, Chuck Turner, Thomas Finneran, Dianne Wilkerson or Salvatore DiMasi.

UMass, it is all about the law of averages. Some Republicans are brilliant and some Democrats are as dumb as dirt. But on average it is the other way around. Of course that is just my opinion and your opinion is different. But I submit our last six presidents to support my case. And I really don't think you can top that.

Elliot Richardson and Edward Brooke were brilliant. Bill Weld was... well... about average and that is being generous. Mitt Romney fits right in there with G.W. Bush.

Your five others are all local Massachusetts politicians and I am sure they were either corrupt or not so great. But I can name you a few dozen local republican politicians from the deep south that were/are even more corrupt.

Ron P.

It is not a matter of who is "smarter" and who is the greater dumb a$$.

Republicans tend to frame their thinking this way: What's good for big business is good for America and to hell with the little guy.

Democrats on the other hand tend to frame their thinking this way: What's good for the little guy is good for us because the little guy (in large numbers) will vote for us and to hell with what big business thinks.

Of course, neither position is a fair and balanced one.
Each party has their heads screwed on in a certain way that is both dumb and smart all at the same time.

Of course, neither position is a fair and balanced one.
Each party has their heads screwed on in a certain way that is both dumb and smart all at the same time.

There is of course a hidden dimension. Lobbying money and organizations. They pull
Republicans to be even more for big business and against the little people. They pull Democrats in the same direction, although its a more unnatural compromise, so end up looking unprincipled. Its mainly the big money that is now driving the system.

I feel your pain.. but somewhat along the lines that Darwinian was saying, I'm more attuned to the issue of the prevalence of our respective groups' Squeaky Wheels. There have certainly been a lot of very stubborn R's taking riotously obstinate stands against the sciences in particular, which doesn't put the group as a whole in the best light, even if loudmouths like Joe Barton and Inhofe don't REALLY represent conservative thought in this country.

As with various religious groups from all sides, we have to decide how to sometimes either reign in or cast out our most damaging extremists, unless we're satisfied being painted with the brush that THEY are dipping in the paints of their own choosing.

I Look forward to meeting in the middle somewhere.. even if I can't stay for long..


It's key to recognise that the core republican voter is old. IIRC the average age of a Fox 'News' viewer is 65.

As this core demographic has got older, senility has set in, to the group as a whole. As the group IQ level has dropped, so has the intelligence of their selections to run for president.

It then becomes a race between the dumbed down republican and the democrat as to which has the nicer hair to woo the apathetic and undecided middle ground. Too often they go with the dumb guy who promises lower taxes, even though they know he's conniving.

Intelligent presidents tend to side with science. Science tell us things that we don't want to hear. Less intelligent presidents tend to side with economists or god. God of course is on our side and economists tend to support the myth of boundless growth. That's my guess.

Less intelligent presidents tend to side with economists or god.

Hey, even some astronomists are religious.

Herbert Hoover, an engineer, was probably one of the two smartest presidents of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, he listened to the advice of the American economists around him. FDR, on the other hand, paid attention to the advice of John Maynard Keynes, a British economist, who was not well known in the U.S. until the late nineteen thirties or early nineteen forties.

If I were president (Zeus forbid!), I would be very careful in choosing my economic advisors. At most I would choose one from the mainstream, but most of them would be environmental economists, socialists, or steady-state advocates.

Unfortunately, presidents generally let their upper level staff choose which economists get to talk to the President.

Harry Truman, who did not have a college degree, was very comfortable with his Chairman of the Fed. Sometimes they drank whiskey together before lunch. IMHO, Truman was the most effective president and faced the gravest challenges of the twentieth century.

Good point, Don. Obama's problems, IMO, came about b/c he listened to the economics morons around him.

Of course, I am guessing as much as they, but I know I am guessing and I don't pontificate. I will listen to all opinions, and I will give credence to those having the most logical bases. So far as I can see, Government can do some things better than private enterprise. Other things, private businesses are superior. It is just recognizing that when you give someone a profit motive for screwing people over, you have to figure someone is going to get it in the end...

So... some Republicans have been fine. Some Democrats have been heavy handed idiots. Over-inclusive generalizations do not help anyone. I would like to see some cooperation between moderates from both parties... unfortunately I don't see very many moderate Republicans today. McCain's daughter is okay... and there are a few who see things differently as well. Most today either are absolute crazies, dumb as a bunch of toads, or so power mad that they go along with those who are just so they can get elected. The Democrats are not far off that mark, so if you think I am endorsing them forget it. Today I have a real problem finding much difference in the two groups who both eat from the buckets provided by our Corporate Masters.

I agree that Truman was effective. Eisenhower is the most underrated, IMO, facing almost the same problems as HST and dealing with them reasonably well. Also, his final remarks to the country are still important, warning about the dangers of the MIC.



I agree with you. Eisenhower was an extremely effective president--and he did seriously warn us about the Military Industrial Complex. (Maybe he coined the phrase; I don't know.)

The greatest skill a president can have is in sizing up other people. FDR failed with this in the case of Joe Stalin, but FDR was very good at sizing-up Americans.

Talking about greatness, consider Winston Churchill, a good old-fashioned Tory conservative--arguably the most important and indispensible man of the twentieth century. And he was a very good writer too; I've read everything that Churchill has written and books about him, such as those by his bodyguard and his doctor, Lord Moran. There is a very interesting story about the connections between Moran and Churchill, but in the interests of not straying too far off topic, I shall avoid getting into this.

I agree that WC is a very complex and interesting person. Disagree about his importance - he may have created the problem he is most famous for solving by dragging the US into WWI. Short term, it may have 'won' the war. Longer term, it created conditions that led to Hitler and WWII. An excellent example of unintended consequences.

He is a great writer, though.


Eisenhower was an extremely effective president

He had his own exploitable naivete. Near the end of the Truman administration the British came to him to over Mosadeh(sp?) who had nationalized the Iranian oil company. Truman was aghast, and threw them out. But, with a new administration, they came back and played on the Mosadeh is a commie thing. So we backed the coup that put the Shah in power, and earned the hatred of the Iranian people. They all have their weak points, and sometimes someone is able to exploit them.

IMO, came about b/c he listened to the economics morons around him.

Both Summers, and Geithner came labeled as the smartest people in the room. That doesn't always help. Especially if the advice works economically but not poltically. The stress tests etc. did defuse the financial implosion at remarkably minimal governmental cost. But the optics (looks like shoveling money to the bad guys), undermined faith in the entire system. Tea party types have been running with that feeling of betrayal ever since.

And if you remember earlier times, Kennedy hired some real smart cookies, like McNamara. But,then they managed to get us mired into the Vietnam guagmire...

Since when does simply having a college degree indicate intelligence?

re: Howard Gardner "Multiple Intelligences"

This is one of the problems....just one, of the USA. SATs, good university, the right friends, and presto, you too can join the club.

The decline of the structured and stratified class system may be an excellent result of economic decline.
I have a masters degree from a good university, however, the most intelligent and admirable man that I have met, and also had the good fortune to work for had a grade 8 education.

He simply grew up poor and had to make it on merit.

Harry Truman is someone we could use about now.

I'm going to disagree a little about Truman and Eisenhower. I think they both had a tough job but it could have been done better. After WW2 there was a hugh momentum in the US to go after the Russian communists as though they were as bad, or worse, than the Nazis. Churchill was a feverish anti-communist and was agitating against Soviet Russia even before the war. Especially after Stalin died we had an opportunity to make peace with the Russians and end the arms race but both Truman and Eisenhower accepted Churchill's position that we must treat the Russians as enemies more dangerous than the Nazis.

No doubt Stalin was a monster but the politburo acted in incredibly humane and decent fashion immediately after Stalin died. In fact one of the first things they did was send food and medicine to the gulag. No German soldiers were ever released from the gulag while Stalin was alive. They were all home by the end of 1953.

The energy directed by the west against Russia and its allies during the 1950s thru the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 could have been much better spent working out a modus vivendi with communism but capitalist power brokers could not stomach such a threat to their prerogitives existing in the world. Truman had the best opportunity to break that mode and, in my opinion, both failed.

Churchill was right in his detestation of Stalin. FDR was naive about Stalin. Truman inherited an impossible international situation and kept us out of World War III. IMO the Korean war was the right war at the right time and in the right place. Can you imagine all of Korea as N. Korea is today? What a human disaster that would have been. Also, Truman was right to fire Douglas MacArthur, a general who was more popular even than Ike.

Of all these, Churchill was the greatest man. He, more than any other man (including Stalin) was the sine qua non for the defeat of Hitler. Under Churchill the RAF won the Battle of Britain; the Royal Navy won the Battle of the Atlantic (The U.S. was preoccupied in the Pacific Ocean.), and General Montgomery finally beat Rommel, who was deprived of supplies in a very interesting story which is off topic. Churchill, more than any other man kept Hitler away from Mid-East oil. Had Rommel gotten through the British line to the west of the Suez Canal, he would have kept going to the oil fields. With Middle Eastern Oil and command of the Mediterranean, Germany might well have won World War II in 1942 or 1943--long before the U.S. A-bomb was ready.

People for get that in his youth Winston was a Liberal, who 'crossed the floor' more than once. He was elected PM in 1940 because he had cross-party support. We was a great war leader, although mostly for sustaining morale in the face of major defeats. The people and technology and US help won the war in the west, the Russian people and the weather won it in the east.

WInston was loved by most people, but in 1946 he was kicked out in the general election in favour of the socialists.

It may have something to do with the fact that Americans no longer seem to be able to recognize what intelligence is, They also seem to have lost their sense of humor and ability to take criticism as well... We are living in what appears to be more and more of a police state, a society where the parallels to what happened in the Weimar Republic become more apparent each day.

The social context of world in which we now live may appear at first glance to be off topic to the posts here on TOD but I at least feel they are highly relevant. The American people now accept things such as this as normal. Those who object or ridicule the system are considered to be undesirables and pariahs.

(SignonSanDiego.com) — The Transportation Security Administration has opened an investigation targeting John Tyner, the Oceanside man who left Lindbergh Field under duress on Saturday morning after refusing to undertake a full body scan.

Tyner recorded the half-hour long encounter on his cell phone and later posted it to his personal blog, along with an extensive account of the incident. The blog went viral, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers and thousands of comments.

Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a news conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. He said the investigation could lead to prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000.

TSA agents had told Tyner on Saturday that he could be fined up to $10,000. “That’s the old fine,” Aguilar said. “It has been increased.”

TSA chief John Pistole was grilled about Tyner’s case Monday on CNN. “The bottom line is, if somebody doesn’t go through proper security screening, they’re not going to go on the flight,” Pistole said.

God forbid we should make jokes about, or try to insert some humor into this already way too serious world.
I will self censor from now on and will no longer be posting my feeble attempts at humor here.

Best hopes for people not taking themselves so damn seriously.

See, he will be "probed" anyway. Can't escape the probe. The police state will be televised.

Right - and I heard a sound bite this morning I think from that same TSA chief where he said something like (paraphrasing but pretty close):

'we are not going to let any individual or group get in the way of us carrying out our mission...'

(in response to concerns over privacy issues voiced by a traveler's rights group)

Far too many of these pseudo-military entities (both gov't and gov't contracted private enterprises) REALLY can't see the forest for the trees - "we're going to take away a good many of your freedoms... so that we can protect your Freedoms (tm)" WTF kind of logic is that ?

Creepy - that's my one word description of the USA (version 2010).

"I will self censor from now on and will no longer be posting my feeble attempts at humor here."

Stop it, Fred. You're scaring me!


When the back-pressure drifts past 137 gigigiggles, he'll explode.

Actually, Fred, there is NOTHING funny about this. TSA and the DHS are not a joke. The Patriot Act was and is the most intrusive thing ever done by Government in the U.S. And, it is the product of those minions of limited government, the Republicans!

Who take themselves very seriously indeed. And whose legislative priority for the next two years is not making America strong, not seeing the unemployment figures lowered, or the Chinese problem dealt with. No... it is "to make sure that Obama is a one term President." So, screw us. They have their own programs and they WILL make sure Obama fails, even if that means we do.

I get so damned mad I could scream!!!!!


I've only now begun to realize how far this country has fallen.

When you read about the Apollo astronauts, it's like reading about supermen.

There's no vision or leadership left in America. If we decided to be the the top clean energy nation in the world in 10 years - in terms of everything, innovation, manufacturing, installed capacity - we could do it.

But we won't decide that, because we are corrupt to the core.

I sent you a private email, Actually I agree with your point

TSA 'Porno Screeners'


Be sure to read the whole article from Mother, so you can read about the 'BOSS Chair' at the end.


It can always get worse...

You will love this article:


And this...


I didn't see TOD listed on the web site watch list, nor did I see Peak Oil listed as a 'watch term'...

But, if one thinks this document is telling you all you need to know, well, I have a super-giant oil field under the Everglades I'd like to sell you for a song...

There has always been an anti-intellectual strain in American culture/politics. It has something to do with a simplistic version of the democratic ideal - "my opinions are as good as anyone's". Never mind that some people are utterly uninformed as to how the world works, and other people spend great amounts of time and effort to understand the issues - everyone's vote counts the same.

I also think it's related to the peculiar (in the Western world) susceptibility of Americans to religious fundamentalism. Black-and-white, no shades of gray please...

There has always been an anti-intellectual strain in American culture/politics.

I think this is closely similar to the anti-intellectualism exhibited by Mao Tsetung when he sent all the 'pointy headed' academic people out to the collective farms to learn how the 'real world' works (or something like that). Maybe Newt Gingrich and Chairman Mao have more in common than one might think.

I also think it's related to the peculiar (in the Western world) susceptibility of Americans to religious fundamentalism.

we don't have to look back too far to find that just about every colonist to the new world was either a) in the vast majority, what would today be known as a religious fanatic, often persecuted in his home country for his faith, trying to create a kingdom of heaven on earth b) in the tiny minority, a treasure seeker willing to do whatever it took to make a killing (even if it involved killing) to return home with a king's ransom, hence the near eradication of beaver, wolf and bear in new england in the second half of the 1600s, or c) some combination of the two.

literally everyone on the new england coast scraping mud caves in the sides of shoreline hills, and missionaries converting or killing and enslaving natives on caribbean islands in god's name, acted with divine direction and inspiration. agnosticism and atheism in america are relatively new constructs.

in fact, if you were able to go back in time to meet a typical native american, and you were able to ask her to describe her spiritual/religious views, you'd conclude she too was a religious zealot by today's standards.

all this is to say: the anti-intellectual strain and the fundamentalism apparent in 21st century america? these are the basis of the american outlook since even before america existed. don't be mistaken by thinking religious zeal is new; it's what and who we are.

A friend of mine used to say, "This country was founded by religious fanatics, criminals, and lunatics. Takes a long time to get that stuff out of the gene pool."

That was my point - it's nothing new.

I think a lot of the recent (last few decades) religious fundamentalism in the US is a version of cargo-cultism, i.e., things aren't as good now as they used to be, but if we re-enact the patterns of the past (a fake 1950's ideal), things will be fine again. The religious types explicitly express this as, the country, having [supposedly] turned away from God, finds that God no longer is showing us his favor, but if we turn towards God, we'll be prosperous again.

You, ladies and gentlemen, make it hard for a devout christian, who is concened about peak oil to keep returning to this site, since belittling the intelligence of a christian, or any other believer, is BAU for the vast majority of those who post here.

Let me tell you what the Christian message is, and how it is to be lived. It's quite simple: Love God, and love thy neighbor. Love God is simple enough, but love thy neighbor means the following:

. Every man, woman and child is my neighbor, and to the extend it is possible, I must do everthing I can to improve their lives.

. This means I must not use more of the good things of this world than is necessary.

. I must do everything possible to conserve energy, water, minerals, and literally, all things of this earth, because they a God's gift to man to be used cautiously for the benefit of all.

. To the extent possible, I must feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, Oh, just read Matthew: Ch:25 Vs:31 to 46.

. To put it simply, You cannot love God unless you love your neighbor. You cannot love God unless you care for earth, and all that is in it, since that is God's gift to man, and it must not be abused.

Have I succeeded in fulfilling these commands? No, I am a sinner who is still on the journey (even at age 74). But, I am comforted by the words of The Master: "I have come to call sinners". So, I struggle on with the hope that, with His grace, I will do a little better job each day of fulfilling the above.

There is no God....

The Martian

M - I'll have to respectfully disagree. IMHO there is a GOD and a Devil, a Heaven and a Hell. And they all are within each of us. I see numerous examples of this daily. And this is the philosphy of a very devout atheist. And a conservative who fully supports Choice. And one who believes in decrimilizing illegal drug use and supports the death penalty for anyone using a loaded weapon in a robbery. And a Texan with a concelled weapon carry permit who beleives in very strict gun control. And a petroleum geologist who understood PO over 30 years ago, fully understands the foolishness of "Drill, baby, drill" and fully supports drilling efforts in this country.

That should give you enough characterzations to pigeon hole me into the proper classification.

Some of my best friends are devout Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. Believe it or not, some of my profs at U.C. Berkeley were serious Christians too. My favorite writer is Evelyn Waugh, a devout Catholic.


It's not too late to run for the roses in 2012!

Get Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to bankroll you...

'President Rock' is catchy...fits on a bumper sticker, too.

I have always had a strict rule against any stickers on my car...but I could make the exception...

Consider Alan for Secretary of Transportation and Don for Secretary of the Treasury.

H - Thanks again but I don't think there's body armor capable of protecting that trio from TPTB. But at least if Allan and I were both in the White House we know we would eat good. Nawlins boys are typically learning how to cook from momma while others are out playing ball.

I usually avoid the political chats. They're essentially opinion pieces and, since everyone has a right to their opinions I don't see the point of most arguments. I particularly see a huge waste of time debating matters on a R vs. D basis. I think we've reached the point where the political pros have gamed the system so thouroughly that folks can't see the obvious: yes...there are distinctions between conservative and liberal positions but TPTB have so inflamed both sides that folks ingnore how poorly we're being served by our political leaders IMHO.

IMHO there is a GOD and a Devil, a Heaven and a Hell. And they all are within each of us. I see numerous examples of this daily. And this is the philosphy of a very devout atheist.

Sounds very Buddhist to me. They refer to these things as life conditions, and the practice is about getting control of them. But then Buddhism doesn't have a god in the western sense of the word.

Michelangelo knew exactly where God and his entourage resided.
It's all "outlined" in his famous painting right there in plain sight for our denialist brains to see.

As it is written: They have eyes but alas they cannot see.

I'd be pretty surprised to discover that there actually IS a 'Martian', as all that goes. You're just another human, aren't you?

There are those among Christians, Agnostics and Atheists alike who 'know not what they do', and work to slay misperceived enemies.

You gain no points. What would you say to Jimmy Carter? Get into a Theological Brawl, or get to work on the things you both know are essential for our people's chances of getting through this and doing the right thing? Luckily, President Carter is a wise enough man to be the one who'd lead that situation in the right direction.


"... we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is..." - Kurt Vonnegut

“When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be -- I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

~ Wendell Berry

(Berry, a lifelong Baptist, has criticized Christian organizations for failing to challenge cultural complacency about environmental degradation,[8] and has shown a willingness to criticize what he perceives as the arrogance of some Christians. from Wiki)

Berry's novellas on Port William-Nathan Coulter, Memory of old Jack,-are excellent treatments if only for their depiction of family relations.


I do respect your position, your ethics and your beliefs.

Best Hopes for the Best That Christianity can offer,


[You] make it hard for a devout christian, who is concerned about peak oil, to keep returning to this site [TOD], since belittling the intelligence of a christian, or any other believer, is BAU for the vast majority ... here

I think most of us respect the rights of others to believe as they wish.

The problem arises however, when the church, caliphate, or whatever pokes its pedophillic finger into matters of science and matters critical to survival of the species.

For example, the Catholic Church is against birth control.

However many mathematically literate people here have learned to understand the exponential function and what it means in terms of inevitable outcome.

So what do you want us to do? Not talk about the exponential function?

As Galileo muttered under his breath: It moves nonetheless.


Maybe the answer is for devout, but Gaia-conscious Christians to find a new way to express their spirituality that is more in harmony with science and reality.

Maybe the answer is for devout, but Gaia-conscious Christians to find a new way to express their spirituality that is more in harmony with science and reality.

I actually think Christianity can be very compatible with the reality of limited resources. It developed in what was pretty much a steady-state economy. A world where usury was a sin and money-changers parasites. Jesus said rich people can't get into heaven (which, if taken literally, would probably mean all Americans would go to hell, because the poorest of us is rich by the standards of the ancient world).

The vow of poverty seems to be a common element in most major religions. But it's a lot easier when everyone's poor anyway.

Well, the 'Prosperity Gospel' pap in the U.S. seems to be a strong force.


For the second time in four and a half years, you are wrong. What Jesus said (correctly translated from the original Aramaic) is: "It is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than for a piece of yarn to go through the eye of a needle."

"Camel" is the wrong word. In the olden days, both in Hebrew and Aramaic, they left out the vowels when writing things down, and hence mistranslation happens fairly often.

Now I will admit it is hard to thread a needle with a piece of yarn. But 2000 years ago the eyes of needles were bigger than they are now, and it was possible (though difficult) to thread a needle with a piece of yarn. In the olden days they sewed with yarn all the time.

One of my friends is a devout Christian, and when the doctors gave up on her child with meningitis she prayed to the Lord for help and promised that she would dedicate the rest of her life to the Lord if only her son were saved from what seemed like certain death. To the astonishment of all the doctors, the child promptly improved and recovered to full health. She did dedicate her life to the Lord and learned ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic so that she could deeply understand scripture. She is a remarkable woman. And what was her background? She was a physical education teacher and helped teach me the skills of archery.

I'm an agnostic, but stories like these make me wonder.

You are dead wrong about this.

The "kamelon," "kamilon" thing was debunked long ago.

"The comic disproportion between the camel and the needle's eye presented difficulties to the Christian community from the very beginning. Some Greek scribes substituted the Greek word rope (kamilon) for the term camel (kamelon) to reduce the contrast, while some modern but misguided interpreters have claimed that the "needle's eye" was the name of a narrow gate or pass, which a camel would find difficult, but not impossible, to pass through. The fact that this saying has been surrounded by attempts to soften it suggests that it was probably original with Jesus."

People don't want to hear what Jesus had to say, so they pretend he said something else.

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." That statement is brilliant, hilarious, original.

"It is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than for a piece of yarn to go through the eye of a needle." This is a lame bastardization.

And what the hell are you talking about when you say "correctly translated from the original Aramaic"? There are no Aramaic manuscripts. All reports of Jesus' words were written in Greek, not Aramaic. What Jesus "really" said has been lost forever.

Jesus' "hard sayings" reveal that he was an apocalyptic prophet who believed the world was going to end in his lifetime. He wanted his followers to live as if the Kingdom were already present.

And the rich were not to be a part of it.

Geez Mike; (I know, "Geez" isn't really Aramaic, either)

You sound almost as sure of yourself as Don! You could at least treat the fellas to a couple of links if you're going to get all Old Testy and such.. What scholars did this particular 'debunking'?

I mean sure, Camel is more dramatic, but your response sounded like you had a prescribed understanding of the passage and J's intent that had to be met as well. Linkies, pls.


(1) People don't want to hear what Jesus had to say ...
(2) What Jesus "really" said has been lost forever.

You do realize (I fervently hope), that the second statement (2) is logically inconsistent with the first statement (1).

If there is no trustable tape recording of the words Jesus actually spoke (assuming "He" even existed to begin with) then people have no choice in "wanting" or not wanting to hear what He said. They can't because his words were not taped or scribed into a DVD or stored as a You-Tube video. God didn't have the "resources" to build one of them there things back in the day. Indeed what was really said, if at all, was lost soon after it happened.

[ i.mage.+]

You do realize (I fervently hope), that the second statement (2) is logically inconsistent with the first statement (1).

Biblical scholars have been trying to tell that to believers for centuries now.

On the one hand, you have the bible reporting what Jesus "said," in a language he probably did not speak (Greek), but what the bible says he said so displeases his later "followers" that they continually change the manuscripts.

On the other hand, the issue of what he "said" is a wild goose chase, because all we have are copies of copies of manuscripts full of discrepancies, inconsistencies, and interpolations.

If any reading is "true," it is the "difficult" reading. It's hard to imagine a later scribe wishing Jesus had said "camel" instead of "ship's howser" and changing it, but it's very easy to see why this scribe would be shocked by the "original" statement (it is a flat impossibility for the rich to enter God's Kingdom) and softening it so the powers that be don't become dyspeptic. Camel.

Those Biblical scholars are just dead wrong. God guided the hand of the New Testament authors, who did write in Greek. And most of the manuscripts were originally written well over one hundred years after our Savior lived. But the authors were inspired by God to write only the truth. God would not let an error be written as His Word! The Bible is inspired as God's own Word.

Well, at least that's what my Daddy told me. ;-)

Ron P.

Jesus' "hard sayings" reveal that he was an apocalyptic prophet who believed the world was going to end in his lifetime.

If the poor guy was born two thousand years later, he could have been one of the frequent commenters here.

Nah. He'd have his own blog. The frequent commenters would be the disciples. ;-)

Maybe this is too late for anyone to comment, if one is needed. My understanding, taken from bible study, is that the eye of the needle is a phrase denoting the entrance through the city wall. It was so short that camels could not enter without dropping to their knees and crawling. The scriptural understanding being that to get into heaven man must get on their knees.

Could be wrong, but that was where things were in 1967-68, my last year spent studying in a bible school.

B.A., philosophy and history

Definitely wrong, and addressed elsewhere in this thread.

Definitely valid and Mike B does not have the exclusive franchise for interpreting the alleged (but never tape recorded) words of Jesus.

The "camel's gate" thing is by far the most common way of trying to get around eye of needle thing. Far more so than the yarn/rope thing. There's no proof of it at all. No evidence that such a gate ever existed, no other references to it. It's been repeatedly debunked.

OK. You've got to let me post one picture out of fairness.

No such "gate" ever existed where it would be tight for a full grown camel to pass through, right?

(I take it with a truck load of salt anytime anybody gives me the "dope" whether straight dope or twisted ;-)

Maybe this is too late ...

Here's a question for you, if I had not added this comment; would it be correct for you to conclude that no one had read your "too late" post?

There is a difference between logic and fantasies.
Our brains easily give in to fantasies.

Pretty much everyone admits that the gospels were written 100s of years after Jesus disappeared.

So is it logical to conclude that any of the gospel writers could have heard what He actually said, could have remembered it correctly and could have have transcribed it accurately? Or is it all just wild and imprudent fantasy?

Thanks for the theory about the low cut city gate.
It's at least as plausible as any other theory and translation.

One of my friends is a devout Christian, and when the doctors gave up on her child with meningitis she prayed to the Lord for help and promised that she would dedicate the rest of her life to the Lord if only her son were saved from what seemed like certain death.

Don, what about all the other devout parents who also prayed to god to save their children and god didn't listen to them and allowed their children to die horrible agonizingly painful deaths despite those prayers...

The stories I really hate are when there are massive natural disasters like the recent earth quake in Haiti and someones survival is deemed a miracle... What about the 100,000 that god either deliberately killed or didn't really care all that much about, that's one awfully capricious god as far as I'm concerned. Yeah, I know the lord moves in mysterious ways. Sorry I don't buy it!

When Katrina hit America, it was because the infidels needed to be wiped from the Earth. When Pakistan got flooded, it was to test their faith.

The narrator fallacy to all these stories are pretty funny in the end. As with the prayer ones (how to feel like you're doing something by doing nothing), people only remember the coincidental cases where a "miraculous" recovery occurred.

What gets me more is when arrogant families praise their Lord for saving them from, say, a potentially fatal plane crash. Clearly it WASN'T because the pilot was a former fast jet vet and very skilled. And clearly the goose that got sucked into the engine to cause the whole thing in the first place was put there by SATAN instead.

My, how convenient.

Well, clearly it does not matter whether one believes in a god or not. Take away the concept of god and what's left? Life on earth.

I stopped believing the religious dogma at an early age - grade school in a catholic school - when the answer to my question "where did god come from" yielded this reply from a nun: god always was and always will be.

To all the devout christians: try this experiment. Give up god and see what happens. You'll be amazed at how little things change, except that maybe you'll have more time for living, being of help to others... you know, all those christian things.

Faith and hope and trust and love and peace and harmony... sheesh, why in the world are all these different words necessary? Life... it's what happens.

What about all the other devout parents who also prayed to god to save their children and god didn't listen to them?

They didn't believe truly enough.

When you wish upon a star, you gotta wish really really hard.

And make sure to wish for the right thing: [ i.mage.+]

"However many mathematically literate people here have learned to understand the exponential function and what it means in terms of inevitable outcome."

Unnecessarily Snarky, SB. Clearly, he doesn't say anything about the mention of mathmatics being at fault, but instead this very regular lumping of all Christians together into some kind of collective Dunce-cap.

See my Wendell Berry and Jimmy Carter refs above, or maybe Max Planck.. these Christians don't need any lessons from you on science or presentation, and certainly don't deserve to be put in the same class as Joe Barton or Glen Beck.

(Planck was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God (though not necessarily a personal one). Both science and religion wage a "tireless battle against skepticism and dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition" with the goal "toward God!") http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencefaith.html

However, I would sure love to see those Christians who also despise the frauds and ignoramuses to find a way to call them out publicly enough that they are kept apart from those many Christians who deserve our friendship and respect.

or maybe Max Planck.

Or even Newton. Often seeking to know god through the study of nature was the real
thing driving their quest for knowledge. There is some reason why the scientific cum industrial revolution came out of a Chritian society, and not some other. Several ancient cultures were more advanced (such as China or Greece or Arabs), but the conditions for igniting the technological/knowldge breakout just didn't occur.

The problem with Christianity in American is that certain political forces were able to harness/hijack (parts of) it to service their own agenda. Many of those parts have lost sight of the foundational principles of the religion (like compassion for the poor). Other parts have remained true to the vision.

I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable. I was just pointing out what I believe to be a psychological reason for the rise of religious fundamentalism and the invocation of religion into politics in the US over the past few decades. I don't believe it applies to all Christians, just a subset of them.

I recently reflected on how the Hebrew prophets preached that the country's troubles resulted from insufficient fidelity to their God; they called the people to repent and be faithful. But Judea was a small country located between competing empires -- they got stomped on, whether or not they were faithful to their God.

Nowadays, many people calling for citizens to return to religious faith have set themselves up as spokespersons for such faith -- to follow God is to follow them. Baptist preachers of my youth frequently shouted, "Give God the glory!" Somehow, in handing it over, they got it all over themselves.

They got stomped on, whether or not they were faithful to their God.

In the Coen Brothers movie, "A Serious Man", quantum physics Professor Larry Gopnick gets stomped on by the wrath of God the minute that the good Professor charitably changes Clive's test grade from an F to a C-.

Or maybe not.

It's all part of the Uncertainty Principle. Is the tornado a result of God's will or just a random weather pattern or both?

Is Schrodinger's Cat alive or dead or both?
Do we understand the story?
And if yes, what does it mean? What does it mean?

[ i.mage.+]

Venn the truet turns out to be lies
And all hope within dies,
Den what?

If I remember correctly, only _one_ US president had a Ph.D

...presume it means people value 'charisma' over education for their leadership. Thankfully many lately have a Master's.


The next POTUS has a Ph.D. in religious studies. Would this make you happy?

Letters after the name are nothing. Learned subject is everything.

The next POTUS has a Ph.D. in religious studies. Would this make you happy?

Touche! :)

We Americans do not vote for the candidate.

We vote for the TV commercial that happens to have the candidate's name on it.

Let the best TV ad win --and usually it is a fear and flight invoking one that wins.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!

Liberals, Teabaggers and Boehners, Oh boy!

Let's TAKE IT.
Take OUR country back.

Dexter for President.
We need someone who is cold, calculating, cool under fire and into plastics.

check here but I don't know how they got the numbers: Look at Muhammad Ali.


My IQ is so high I know that IQ is meaningless in the real world.

My IQ is so high I know that IQ is meaningless in the real world.

My sentiments exactly. In any case, the notion that "intelligence" can be measured as a scalar, a single number on a one-dimensional scale, is absurd.

Though it must be admitted... IQ tests are a very effective way of measuring how good people are at taking IQ tests.

Caught part of a guest on CNBC this am that said the US is producing more than we are importing in oil???

Do you remember who it was? CNBC puts their videos online, so it should be on their web site.

I saw John Hofmeister on CNBC this morning. The former Shell CEO. He was warning that the Obama administration is blocking companies' access to fossil fuels, and that this would have terrible consequences. Because energy must be abundant, and renewables just don't cut it.

On a total liquids basis, we might produce 50.1% of current depressed demand.

Of course, part of our production is ethanol. Energy value/gallon 60% of gasoline.


Is this the video? The person interviewed, Harold Hamm, CEO, Continental Resources, offers a chart claiming that the US production exceeds imports. He criticizes the Pickens Plan. He makes reference to the Bakken as an example, claiming it represents a "new resource" that will enable the US to continue to burn oil. He says: "we're not running out of oil" claiming that technology will provide more oil, so there's no need for the Pickens Plan to move to using NG...

E. Swanson

Yes, that is the video. However Mr. Harold Hamm, Continental Resources CEO, makes a very serious mistake in the interview. He talks about crude oil but the chart he shows is oil/liquids meaning "all liquids". The chart shows that we produced more all liquids than we imported.

However he is correct that imports do not equal 70% of total use. This year, so far, we have produced about 40% of the crude + condensate we used and imported about 60%. Last year it was about 70% but we have increased production slightly while imports have dropped considerably.

The US is now producing at about our 2004 level but not nearly our 2003 level.

US production in thousands of barrels per day.

2003  5,681
2004  5,419
2005  5,178
2006  5,102
2007  5,064
2008  4,950
2009  5,361
2010  5,467 (average for first eight months.)

Ron P.

Does anyone really know the spare production capacity in the US for crude oil? Probably a top secret clearance required.

I know you were joking Cool one, but that could be a serious question. The answer is zero. Zero because we do not have a national oil company. All our oil is produced by either publically or privately owned oil companies and they are all producing every barrel they possibly can... as far as anyone knows.

And I must correct my figures above. On average, so far this year, we have produced 37.5 percent of the crude oil we consumed and imported 62.5 percent. I just did the math.

Ron P.

Does anyone really know the spare production capacity in the US for crude oil? Probably a top secret clearance required.

It's not a secret. The answer is zero. All the oil companies are producing at capacity. Under the current economic circumstances, there's no incentive for anyone to produce less.

How do you know that the US gov't does not own secret oil wells? That are waiting for military use only?

How do you know the Pink Unicorn Fleet (now in Earth Orbit) isn't going to land on the White House lawn tomorrow, and deliver the secret of cheap, safe, easy fusion energy - with the cure for cancer thrown in as a bonus.

Cool - Actually there are known wells the govt owns that could produce 100's of milions of bbls of oil any time they chose. It's not a secret. It's called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The SPR wells have the highest flow ratings of any wells in the world. And the URR of these reserves are proven down to a very small fraction of a percent. The SPR does not belong to any company or the citizens of the US. It belongs the govt and the govt has sole authority to release that oil to any group it choses. The DOD, for instance.

Was that the original idea behind NPR-A?

IIRC, those reserve estimates were downgraded 90% recently?

Could ANWR be held in reserve?

That was the idea behind the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve - to create a strategic reserve of oil which could be tapped in the event of a national emergency, like war.

The recent downgrading of ANPR by 90% confirms what I would expect from working for companies who drilled several billion dollars worth of wells on the Canadian side of the Arctic - in general, the Arctic region is heavily gas prone, and most of the oil reservoirs have been destroyed by tectonic activity. The supergiant Prudhoe Bay field is an isolated anomaly.

I would expect the ANWR to be similar. It probably doesn't hold nearly as much oil as the US government would like to believe. And the same applies to the reserves the USGS seems to think are in other regions of the Arctic.

This is one of the reasons I believe Peak Oil as upon us - I know too much about some of the areas that the optimists believe are going to save us from Peak Oil. Companies I worked for have already evaluated them, and discovered they weren't as good as they expected.

So what he meant is that "we produce more crude oil than we import"?

What kind of completely misleading statement is that? So the fact that we are now importing lots of very expensive and environmentally-disastrous Canadian tar sands oil is supposed to be viewed a good thing? What kind of crazy twisted logic is that?!?! I'll give the tar sands oil this . . . it comes from Canada, our best friend and closest ally.

Even at the current reduced levels we import more liquid fuel than we produce. And that statistic gets worse every time our needs rise since we cannot grow our domestic oil.

Probably the most relevant metric is the Consumption (C) to Production (P) ratio (of total petroleum consumption). In 2009, it was 205% for the US (18.7 mbpd/9.1 mbpd)--which was down from 250% in 2005 (EIA).

By definition, 100% is of course the dividing line between net importer status and net exporter status. The US crossed the 100% mark in 1948. At the current (2005 to 2009) rate of contraction in the C/P ratio, the US will be back to "Self Sufficiency" status sometime around 2023.

Thanks, only 50% does he remember the 70's

Europe Fears That Debt Crisis Is Ready to Spread

LONDON — European officials, increasingly concerned that the Continent’s debt crisis will spread, are warning that any new rescue plans may need to cover Portugal as well as Ireland to contain the problem they tried to resolve six months ago.

If memory serves, a US senator said that US federal revenue, as a percentage of GDP, is the lowest in 60 years, while federal expenditures, as a percentage of GDP, is the highest in 60 years. And then we have the local and state budget problems, which range from bad to horrific. As they say, what can't continue, won't continue.

But how will the gaps between revenue and spending in these various regions be closed?

For those of us who are still employed, I suppose that there is not much difference between yearend 2005 and yearend 2010, but what will yearend 2015 and yearend 2020 look like?

Anecdotally, I can report that, although my property was reassessed downwards due to falling values, my real estate taxes are, in fact, higher than last year. Just got the bill in the mail.

If the Federal government won't pay for things, and the State government won't pay for things, it's going to fall on local government and communities to pay. 54% of my property taxes goes to funding schools.

I think we're heading for a situation where revenue is going to be squeezed from anyone who is still able to cough up the money. Until one can't do it anymore. And then there will no longer be services.

No Medicaid in Texas?

Medicaid is the health lifeline for more than 3 million of the most vulnerable Texans, but some Republicans, including Gov. Rick Perry, are talking about opting out of the program as a massive state budget shortfall looms.

There is some discussion in the article of just dumping the whole problem of medical care for the poor on county governments. I wonder if we might be seeing a "race" between various state governments to see who can do the best job of cutting government benefits to the poor, perhaps with the idea of forcing them out of state.

To return to one my questions above, I would amend it to read as follows:

But how will the gaps between revenue and spending in these various regions be closed, and can the gaps be closed without (perhaps violent) civil unrest?

Very good questions, Westexas. I do not have the answers to your questions. Nobody does.

About 2020 and 2030, all we can do is SWAGs at best.

Don -

What do you think will be the outcome (short term vs. long term) of the "re-energized" debt crisis in Europe.

Can you provide a summary of your understanding of what's going on over there - some articles I read on this are relatively short and to the point and others are extremely in depth... so I've been left wondering if this is a relatively simple matter or one that is hopelessly complex ?

Seems to me that there are similarities between the attitudes of certain factions in this country (banking on the failure of government and doing whatever they can to facilitate that failure) and certain (Goldman etc.) financial players who are betting on the failure of european states (Greece as exhibit A) - wouldn't seem too far fetched that they would pull whatever levers they can behind the scenes to nudge (or shove) these states toward failure.

The best source to answer your questions is The Automatic Earth (automaticearth.blogspot.com). They post many interesting articles on these topics by financial journalists. Of course the journalists disagree among themselves, so you will probably not get any definitive answers to most of your questions.

As much as I dislike Perry, I wonder if he, probably unintentionally, may be on the right track regarding government programs. It's not if, but when, entire government programs are going to be virtually eliminated.

I bet the health care industry cries foul. They probably want all that state and Fed money, since they will treat these folks in emergency rooms. It could be a bad problem down the line. I wish people would exercise and get health care the old fashioned way though. walk and ride bikes. I wish the health care debate would talk about health care as a personal act of diet and exercise, leaving major medical to the insurance industry/government to work out in a fair manner.

That's like cutting off your legs to lose weight.
Great idea..in theory.

WT - The story I’m getting from some Austin power brokers (who can easily be detected as fibbing: their lips are moving.): there is a plan developing to rid the state of non-productive individuals and individuals who are the primary strain on our resources. If these tales have any validity, we may have just seen the beginning of Phase I: the development of a law similar to the AZ law allowing state officials to enforce immigration laws. The brag is that they’ve developed a protocol that will prevent fed intervention of this new law. And that to potentially getting rid of Medicaid which would induce the poorest of our society to relocate out of state. It would certainly be deemed a cold blooded way of dealing with developing resource constraints. But how effective would it be? Probably to a significant degree. Unfortunately.

Two ways to deal with the weakest least productive segment of your society. Either educate and support their efforts to improve their lot or just eliminate them. I suspect long term economic weakness resulting from PO will lead the cruel option to be favored.

The return of an old sign?

The next legislative session will certainly be "interesting."

I see the Chamber of Commerce has a degree of consistency over the years in their values

Two ways to deal with the weakest least productive segment of your society. Either educate and support their efforts to improve their lot or just eliminate them.

VERY disappointing, ROCKMAN

There is absolutely no reason for such a statement.
I would rather see the world reduced to an egalitarian Maoist dystopia then have it turned into a Nazi death camp run by psychopathic egomaniacs enriching themselves with the blood-soaked possessions of their victims.

Many here assume that the survival of the individual as a 'producer' is the lesson of Darwin but it is survival of the species that is the paramount.

I can't imagine a less likely survivor of Peak Oil than the millionaires, politicians, media personalities and capitalists who tower over the masses like the dinosaurs towered over the small early mammals.

The human race can survive without their ilk.

Two ways to deal with the weakest least productive segment of your society. Either educate and support their efforts to improve their lot or just eliminate them. I suspect long term economic weakness resulting from PO will lead the cruel option to be favored.

There is a third way, try something completely different for a change.

Peter Victor - Managing without Growth


There is a presumption in your statement that someone experiencing financial problems is the "weakest, least productive segment of society." I would like to remind everyone that it is all to easy for even hard-working, capable productive people to be struck down through a variety of circumstances and no fault of their own, e.g. losing a job due to downsizing and economic depression, medical bills driving on to financial problems, a crisis with a family member, getting wiped out by a business suddenly going under due to the economy, etc.

We're going to have to re-think our social contract. And no, it is not SOCIALIST to examine and perhaps rethink our social arrangements. Either we believe we all have a role to play in helping our neighbors, or it becomes a case of "too bad for your luck - I've got mine!" The well-to-do may not think so, but we are ALL in this together. If enough people sink into the abyss it will come back and bite all of us in the rear. Accelerating economic collapse as more people are knocked out of the economy and increasing social instability will affect even those in the privileged classes.

Peak Oil is going to challenge A LOT of things, including how our civilization regards matters of social and economic justice. When we help our neighbors, we are also helping ourselves.

And when world oil production declines the real fun will begin. Anyone for a ten year depression?

Ten year depression ... why can't anyone get their head around a 2000 year depression?

i'd argue: 'stagnation', 'recession' and 'depression', as they have come to be understood, are exceptionally misleading terms. developed by economists in the last 150ish years, these terms suggest that periods without significant positive output growth or even negative output growth are anomalous, when in fact, a sustained period of significant positive output growth is what is anomalous in history. only recently have nations even had the capacity to reliably estimate gdp.

All of those terms also imply a situation which is temporary.....


Slight correction spring_tides:

...revenue is going to be squeezed from anyone (in the middle class and lower) who is still able to cough up the money...

Now that might not be all that bad if ALL of that money went exclusively to fund programs needed by the middle / lower class (note this would not include wars of predatory capitalism nor propping up failed Wall Street financial "industries").

Of course that's socialism or something...

I stand corrected ;)

Anyone - and including corporations as people - who can afford an attorney (or congressperson) can, of course, get their portion of the tax burden reduced.

Leaving a larger percentage to be distributed amongst the rest.

Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget
Today, you’re in charge of the nation’s finances. Some of your options have more short-term savings and some have more long-term savings. When you have closed the budget gaps for both 2015 and 2030, you are done. Make your own plan, then share it online.

Ain't hard. I've got a 293 B surplus in '15 by sparing the people and taxing the rich.
2/3 taxes, 1/3 cuts.
(But he does not mention the) Founders’ endorsement of taxing the rich to support the general welfare. Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote approvingly in 1811 of having federal taxes (then limited to tariffs) fall solely on the wealthy, which meant that “the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings.”

Keep the current rates, except for the wealthy, and raise gas taxes to cover the shortfall. Realistic? Of course not. There are tons of simple solutions, none of which will be implemented. We are a divided country which has failed to elect people who have the long term interests of the country in mind. The Republicans vowed to starve the beast. Now that the beast has been starved, what now? The beast will devour its own young.

Cut out contractors, slash the military except salaries for the working men and women, the tax break on employer health coverage, take all the taxes back to Clinton, end Bush tax cuts > 250K, add bank tax, carbon tax, millionaire tax, take off entire SS cap. Had to go with the modified Simpson Bowles POS, but the Times still has a limit on SS cap, 90%, and I want to end it totally, so maybe that will do it. Creates a surplus, I did, I did.

Not many cuts to the people; not even farm subsidies. No change on SS ages. I'm so nice I didn't even means test SS.
Power to the peep hole.
Thank you for your vote.
Don't forget to eat a millionaire today.

They didn't give me a payroll tax on robots and a 99% bracket for billionaries as options.

We have 230 Generals for the Army, 208 for the Air Force, 60 for the Marine Corps for a total of 498.

We also have 363 Admirals in the Navy.

If you have 861 generals and flag officers, you need things for them to do. Alternatively, if you reduce their number, you can shrink the military.

I favor forced retirement of all military and naval officers at age 53. It is hard and rare for old officers to learn new things.

I favor forced retirement of all military and naval officers at age 53. It is hard and rare for old officers to learn new things.

One wonders how Hitler's attack on France would have faired in some alternate history where the French had followed that advice.

That is a very good question.

Not really.

Germany in 1940 outnumbered the French by more than 2 (young man aged 18-39), compared to only 1,4 at the beginning of WWI in 1914. And also in 1914 France was saved only by the fact, that Germany had to fight a 2-front war agains them and Russia at the same time. This was the true reason the French where finished even before the first shot. Suppreme German technology and tactics (especially large tank corps) add to the mess for the "Grande Nation"...

Frances mistake was not the relative lack of manpower (outnumbered by 2:1 doesn't mean a whole lot), but rather that they tried to fight WW1 all over again. The Germans just went around them.

Quite so. DeGaulle understood tank warfare. If he had been in command instead of the senile General Petain, Germany would never have gotten far beyond the Rhine.

That was an interesting exercise. I cut military spending, and increased taxes on the wealthy, also raising the eligibility age for Social Security. Oh, and added a Carbon tax, and a National Sales tax.

Ok, I'll never get elected...

I ended up with a $326Bn surplus in 2015, and a $1,443Bn surplus in 2030. I left Foreign and Internal Aid alone, as well as future military programs, but cut the size of the military, pushed taxes back to Clinton-era, kept the elderly off Medicare until 70, and introduced a Carbon Tax.

"I think we're heading for a situation where revenue is going to be squeezed from anyone who is still able to cough up the money. Until one can't do it anymore. And then there will no longer be services."

The squeeze is on here. One section of my property was reassessed this year at more than twice its previous value, more than double 2 year comps, and 190% of the price we've had it listed for, for 3 years. Add to that an increase in the tax rate of 1 mil. When I appealed to the tax office, one lady suggested I sell the property. I thought the guy waiting behind me was going to come over the counter.

The commisioners approved a new $10+ million primary school (financed with debt of course), for a county of less than 10K permanent residents. The commisioners that approved the school were voted out. County employees got a <2% pay raise last year.

Most real estate sales here have been forclosures, tax and fire sales, in a county where the #1 industry has been real estate/building for the previous 20 years. The banks set up a big tent in town where every few weeks they have a "Real Estate Clearance Extravaganza" auction.

The consensus among the local PTB is that growth will return soon. "It always has!"

Sorry for the anecdotal rant ,,,,,, but DAYUM!

Back to work.....

That's really sad, and frightening, and infuriating.
But I think that is indeed the future. Basically, this sort of economics lesson has been learned by anyone who has lived for very long in any developing resort community. As the resort 's real estate base is developed all the available housing for the poorer folks (the same folks who provide all the skut-work services) disappears. They are forced by escalating housing costs to move further and further away and commute further and further distances in order to work their low wage jobs upon which the resort depends.

I think this same scenario will gradually work its way out in all the areas of the country that remain economically viable as Peak Oil bites deeper. Real estate taxes and real estate values will rise and force the lower income groups out. Their properties will then be bought up by the people who are wealthy enough to be able to flee the declining sections of the country. For example: as Las Vegas collapses, the lucky ones with enough wealth will relocate to more viable areas in the north east, raising property values there and displacing many current residents.

A lot of senior citizens run into this. They have their homes paid off, and think they're set. But the taxes rise so high that they can't pay them on their fixed incomes. The yearly property tax might be more than they paid for the house.

"A lot of senior citizens run into this."

This is happening here a lot. Many of the locals here, "oldtimers", were farmers who lived very frugal lives, worked other jobs, incured little debt, and payed off their land and homes years ago (while paying their taxes, social security, medicare, etc). They now are too old to farm, so they lose their ag deductions, their property taxes go up to non-ag rates, their savings have been ravaged by "conservative investments" and their "fixed incomes" are declining in real terms. They can't even sell their land because speculators have killed the market. The perfect storm for old folks in the last decade of their lives. Some have children with jobs out of the area, sometimes community members help out, though many are relying on food banks that they used to support.

I see this reaching epidemic levels in the next decade. Community and family are the only hope for many.

I think most people would be doomers with their own version of my own retirement exercise.

Burger fries and a soda when I was in high school (1980s): about US$1.99
Today: about US$7

My full retirement pension might reach 50to60% of my current salary. If that above example holds for overall purchasing power, at retirement I will _only_have_25%_of_my_purchasing_power as today.

How many TODers can survive comfortably only able to purchase 1/4th of what they can today?

Fixed incomes? Who has a fixed income anymore? Most of the retired folks I know have declining incomes! And increasing taxes, food costs, energy costs, etc... ( but there is no inflation - right?)
With the Fed holding the interest rates artificially low all the retired people that have anything other than SS are getting virtually nothing in interest on their savings. So they have to use the savings to pay the bills. When peoples saving start to run out in large numbers, then I think you will see some type of major uprising in this country.
And neither the damn democrats or damn republicans are doing a damn thing about Bernanke and his rob the poor to give to the filthy rich!
If I wasn't too old and worn out, I'd be leading a charge on Washington DC with pitch forks or their modern equivalent.

Pitchforks VS A-10 Warthog.

We all live at gunpoint;
Taxes are collected at gunpoint.
Cars are registered at gunpoint.
Foreclosures vacate at gunpoint.

Massive financial fraud is rewarded.
Peasant sacrifices balance the loss.


Combine job loss (or simply stagnant wages), loss of the mortgage interest deduction, increasing taxes, increasing food and fuel costs. If you cannot sell then you are out on the street. If property values fall enough will that make up for the loss of the mortgage interest deduction and the higher tax rates? How will the inability to determine title impact?

Eventually environmental change will drive many out of the south west as you point out - although maybe that comes a bit later, and how many will be wealthy enough to change housing prices in other markets?

It all sounds like chaos to me. Imagine a nation with plenty of housing stock where no one can afford to live in them. The houses stand empty while people live in Hoovervilles - how long could that be stable?


Who said anything about, stable?

Obviously, these scenarios simply will not work extrapolated out to their logical extremes. I sure don't know where it all leads.

But think about this. I'm pretty sure I heard on the news the staggering statistic that something like 80% of all mortgages in the Las Vegas area are underwater. And something like 20% are underwater nationwide. What happens when too many are defaulted upon and end up owned by the banks, who then cannot resell them into a non-functioning housing market? Then what happens when too many of the balance end up owned by local governments when homeowners who were formerly "free & clear" end up losing their titles to sheriff's sales for failure to pay unpayable back taxes?

What then?

Hoovervilles indeed; with a huge percentage of the housing stock owned by either the banks or the government.

I'm sure I'm missing something here:-/

Yeah, me too. It's really unclear how this plays out - it's a recipe for major social unrest. In the end I have to assume those dwellings in areas that are survivable will be occupied.

The national situation is a lot less bad than Las Vegas' situation.

About 35% of homes are rented, i.e. 65% are "owned". Of the "owned" homes, about 40% really are owned and have no mortgage or HELOC.

Therefore, 20 x .65 x .60 = 7.8% of households have a mortgage under water. Of course the 7.8% is heavily concentrated in the southeast and southwest where the most new construction was done.

Counties are going to run into the problem of having to deal with many people defaulting on their land taxes. What will county governments do with a bunch of foreclosed on properties? If the land is still under a mortgage, the banks will be on the hook for the taxes. Watch how the banks weasel their way out of this, or at least try to.

What a mess! We will end up with tent cities on the outskirts of towns that are full of empty houses.

I think a kind of ghettoization will occur where local government will be unable to enforce taxation, where services are cut, where property ownership becomes opaque to those outside the area.

I especially liked the bit about raising the 'valuation' to 190% of what you have not been able to sell it for. The same mentality will tell you that you can have lots of oil when demand is strong enough... just raise the price! Abiotic real estate to go with abiotic oil! Great!

Great Rant!!!! 10+


It seems that there have been too few 'non-distressed' sales since 2007 to calculate good comps, so the county is using comps from the bubble years (2000-2005) to make their assessments. I don't mind paying a fair tax rate on my land, mind you, and we'll make do, but I plan to maximize my future use of all available county and other govt. services. May as well make them work for it, initiate a feedback loop. At this rate we'll qualify for a WIC card.

The one good thing about California's prop 13, is that the property tax is based on the lower valuation of (purchase price escallated by 4% annually), and the most recent annual assesment. They do the reassesments every year, you don't have to raise a stink. Mine prop taxes have gone down very significantly in the past few years. Of course the flip side is that the public school system is doomed!

I think we're heading for a situation where revenue is going to be squeezed from anyone who is still able to cough up the money. Until one can't do it anymore. And then there will no longer be services.

I posted something to that effect several months ago, but most of the responses rejected that idea. But you know if the money is not politically reasonable to get at the Fed or State level, it will fall to local districts. I think we are at the front edge of what will be huge increases on property, sales taxes and tolls for roads and bridges. Per your prop. tax bill it's already happening in your area. Your property has lost value, but you are paying more. That doesn't make any sense, unless one takes into account the Feds and States are broke and borrowing furiously to stay afloat.

I'm amazed that peak plateau oil has had this much negative effect on the economy. Now imagine the ride down as oil will begin to descend from peak at some near future point in time. Then the scenario you laid out will really begin to increase costs to those that can afford them on a collosal scale. We'll be screaming about our basic bills while all we hear is, "We're not asking more from you than we are from anyone else." Well, thanks for nothing! But like you say, at some point people will simply tap out and the revenue will not be there for basic services, and we can only hope that doesn't include water and water treatment.

Here in my town of tyler, texas we defeated an $85 million school bond issue by 71 votes. This came two years after an earlier issue of $125 million was passed after being defeated at least twice previously.
The former mayor wrote in the local paper the day after its defeat that he "couldn't believe the people would not vote in favor of this bond because it would not increase their tax rates".
This may be true, but it does nothing to prevent the local appraisal district from raising the appraised values within the county. My various properties within the county are at least 20% above market value. It now requires three months rent on each property just to pay the taxes. Throw in another month for insurance and that leaves 8 months to cover repairs, maintenance and vacancies. Landlords are stretched just above bankruptcy.
If there are any suckers, uh I mean buyers for my properties at 10% below appraised value please let me know.

Europes debt crisis is spreading. Europe crisis will probably result in a war for control of assets.

Do you mean a trade war? That war has already started.

No, I mean military war like WWII.

Last time Oil was nearing $90, the Greek crisis broke. This time oil nears $90, the Irish crisis breaks, possibly dragging in Portugal. Any bets on Spain next? Are national economies being sacrificed one by one to save the mighty dollar?

The strongest country left in Europe will rule all of Europe soon!

The strongest country left in Europe will rule all of Europe soon!

I'm betting that would be Germany. Although with high oil prices Russia might be a contender (but that is Europe proper, as opposed to the EU).


They (treasury) are borrowing $141 billion a month for the next 6 months. That is $2,630 per month for every taxpaying household in the US.

The Federal Reserve has agreed to buy $600 billion of that.

It appears they cannot leave the sale of their debt open to the established bid process, as yields would go up.

When is it a sovereign debt crisis?


The deflationists argue that we won't see the high inflation to hyperinflation until the Treasury has problems selling US debt to overseas creditors. My theory has been, and remains, that constrained oil supplies are acting as an accelerant in the whole process, like aerial tankers dropping napalm on a forest fire, rather than fire retardant.

A relevant question to folks like you, me and the "Rock" is what happens to the tiny "Band of Brothers (and sisters)" who are among the small number of people in the US who are actually working on the productive, non-discretionary, side of the economy? I think that Kurt Cobb showed it best, when he illustrated 95% of the US economy being dependent on the food and energy producers:



I'm reading Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and will end with Trotsky to try to figure out and then hopefully avoid what happens to us.

There were a lot of smart people in Russia in the 19th century.


Have you read OBLAMOV by Goncharov? Highly recommended. It is a serious and hilarious 19th century Russian novel known mostly to majors in Slavic Languages and Literature. The Penguin edition has the best translation that I know of.


Just looked it over and it looks really good. Will get ahold of it.


"The deflationists argue that we won't see the high inflation to hyperinflation until the Treasury has problems selling US debt to overseas creditors. My theory has been, and remains, that constrained oil supplies are acting as an accelerant in the whole process, like aerial tankers dropping napalm on a forest fire, rather than fire retardant. "

Your accelerant argument is especially good I think since oil is dollar priced. We are to ask the oil exporting countries to accept that which Mr. Bernanke can copiously create with the push of a button for their output....

But with regard to the treasury has problems selling US debt to overseas creditors--- If one thought they didn't have this problem already, one would have to question why they elect to buy the debt themselves??

If the reason is that they don't want to or can't pay the higher yield, then is that not a sovereign debt crisis?



The Treasury Department is part of the executive branch of the U.S. federal government. The Federal Reserve System is really a QUANGO (Quasi Non-Governmenal Organization). The Fed buys and sells U.S. government securities; the Treasury has never done that. What the Treasury Dept. does is to borrow money on the open market when it issues new T-bills, notes, and bonds.

Prsident Kennedy could never keep this distinction straight. He could only remember that the Fed handled monetary policy by recalling that the Fed Chariman's name was Martin. "M" for money and "M" for Martin was the way he remembered the distinction.

Most presidents are confused or ignorant when it comes to monetary and fiscal policy. Ronald Reagan is the only president I know of who majored in economics in college. Throughout his administration one can see the influence of economic thought from the 1920s and 1930s. He claimed not to be a Keynesian, but he used Keynesian advice to stimulate real GDP (under the cover of supply-side economics).

Note that this year the deflationists have been wrong. The Gross Domestic Product deflator (a much more valid measure of inflation than the Consumer Price Index) was up 2.3% last quarter. That is slightly ABOVE the formally announced Fed target for inflation.

I'm pretty sure the fourth quarter of this year will show the deflator rising at more than 2.3% percent because of rising food prices, rising commodity prices--especially oil, but also grains and metals, and also increasingly easy monetary policy from the Fed.

Note that monetary policy acts with long and unpredictable time lags. The current rate of inflation mostly reflects what the Fed did a year ago and even 18 months ago. QE2 will take anywhere from a year to even three years to have much of an impact on real GDP.

Because of these long and unpredictable time lags, monetarists advocate NOT using discretionary monetary policy. Many monetarists would like to abolish the Fed.

It seems like every time I get into a discussion with anyone much more knowledgeable than me (that is a bunch of people) about this issue the conversation starts going into the trees.

From 3,000' above, it seems that the treasury must collect revenues (taxes) and pay bills. The difference must be borrowed for the checks not to bounce. In October that difference was 141 billion, and if you look at the treasury department debt issuance scheduled it is 431 billion over the first quarter of 2011, or 144 billion per month. Now that took some real financial quantum mechanics.

Anyway, so they are asking people to lend them $144 billion a month and the Federal Reserve takes a little over half of that action after calling around and asking the usual suspects how much they plan on buying. Is that not QE2?

Are they scared to put it up for bid afraid the bid to cover will go less than 1.0 or that the rate would go to a more reasonable 8% on the 30 year?

Dudley the head of the New York Fed said they're trying to force people to invest in the stock market and other "riskier" places. Let's play move the bubble.

To me, that seems equivalent to saying "there is so little supply and so much demand for our debt that we had to take half the action just to crowd out the buyers chomping at the bit with $75 billion a month burning a hole in their pockets."

I think I have a concept of fractional reserve banking and the money gets "poof" deposited in the member bank's reserve account so they can leverage loan it.



Large and increasing Federal deficits are highly inflationary. When inflation comes back in a year or so, nominal interest rates will go up but real (adjusted for inflation) interest rates will likely go down and probably will go negative, which is what the Fed wants to happen.

I remember getting a sixteen and a half percent yield on my money market fund in the early nineteen eighties. Because of my excellent credit rating I could borrow at about 12% on my credit card. I borrowed money and put it into my safe money market fund. Made a fair amount of money on the interest rate spread. It was a crazy time, the early years of Reagan's first term.

I guess I see this as more than your run of the mill inflation not that the mathematical result is any different.

But my scenario goes like this: Politicians make promises in War and Peace, fulfilling promises exceeds net revenue, bonds are issued to make up the difference, run out of buyers for bonds, start buying bonds yourself (print money).

Sovereign Debt Crisis.

Sound familiar?



I have no argument with what DS and FF said above.

I find it curious that as Europe takes the first steps towards austerity - backed up with the ECB limiting the output of new Euros (at least for now) - Europeans today are basically being punished for their attempts to balance their budgets.

With the possible exception of England and some smaller Euro countries, the financial situation in the US in the long run is worse than most in Europe. Even the US government has put forth calculations unfunded liabilities in addition to actual debt may be about $200 trillion US.

So it appears more than slightly ironic to me that when the US has publicly announced the monetization of nearly $1 trillion in US debt by next June (including re-investment of expiring mortgage backed securities owned by the Fed), people still ignore the ability of the US to meet debt payments in the future - not to mention individual state debt (which I expect at some point to be mostly backed up by the federal government to avoid state bankruptcies).

One benefit of the Fed buying $1 trillion in debt is that the US government no longer effectively pays interest on that money (all Fed earnings are returned to the Federal government). So the easy way out appears to be working right now.

You are right on the money.

I don't think anybody appreciates how close we are.


I remember those days. Yes, you could get 16.5% on a money market - but inflation was running at almost the same rate. You got taxed on the 16.5% even tho it just kept you up with inflation.

To encourage saving they should only tax the real (after inflation) interest rate. Today I'm getting .25 percent money market - combined with a 2% inflation is a negative return of 1.75%. Well, it may be better than owning a house that's declining in value and needs maintenance.

They don't want to encourage saving.

"To encourage saving "

Don't let Krugman hear you say that, you dirty cash hoarder. Your purpose is to consume. Period. Take out a loan, spend it, then dump what you bought in the trash on your way in the house, and repeat the process again tomorrow. Nothing matters but aggregate demand and GDP.

If this is what Keynesianism has devolved to, it's time for a new system of belief.

Keynes spins in his grave because people like Krugman call themselves "Keynesians."

Keynes was not a "Keynsian" just as Freud was not a Freudian and Marx was not a Marxist.

Truth. But it's so much easier to attack the other side when you give them a suitable label.

The US isn't selling anything to overseas investors for the next 6 months. The Fed is printing money to "buy" all of it.

Interesting points.

The dislocations of the 70s and early 80s caused ramifications that peaked about 10 to 20 years later, in a crime spree of the late 80s/early 90s.

We solved that through mass imprisonment (and, of course, legalized abortion), but just barely. And we spent alot of money doing so, and made alot of financial promises to policemen, prison guards, lawyers, etc. And it seems as though we are just now running out of the money.

We may be in trouble if we do not muster the political courage to extract, from the rich and the corporations, the funds necessary to pay for these public goods. And I see no evidence that we have that courage.

Along those lines, I fully expect, in a similar fashion, the ramifications of the 2008 crash/depression to be fully felt starting around 2020 (unless we totally collapse before then).

This time I'm not fully confident that we have the money. Energy, well, we are swimming in energy. Energy isn't the problem.

Corrupt political and financial structures are the problem, and are, perversely enough, the result of being too wealthy for too long. In fact, what's interesting is how nations like Germany and Japan, which are, relatively speaking, devoid of resources, nevertheless thrive because they are forced to make the necessary investments in capital. Not to mention the fact that they were neutered from a military standpoint and could not fall back on that as a means of controlling the populace or "wealth" creation.

Japan of course has suffered from lack of reform since their crash in '89/90, but the corruption there is not as complete as it is the U.S.

If we're lucky, by 2020, there will be a new generation of politicans eager to end the military complex, reform finance, and focus on other ways to spur domestic job creation and greater wealth equality. If we're lucky.

Except ...
Regardless of how long our commodity wars last increasing numbers of vets will be reaching the end of their tours and rotating back home. Perhaps not as fast as Vietnam because of the longer tours but that simply shifts the problem out a few years.

On top of the homegrown economic nightmare you have to deal with the traditional post war depression as vets start returning into a collapsed job market.

I don't think these guys are going to wait till 2020 to go on a crime spree esp with whats happening in Mexico. The combination of returning American vets increasingly working as enforcers for Mexican cartels is compelling. And of course bilingual hispanic's are well represented in the armed forces esp in combat brigades.


Think about it ...

Good stuff for science fiction novels and stories based on your comment here.

Yeah I'm a science fiction nut actually I guess it bleeds through to real life :)

But seriously we are looking at a Civil War/ WWI style veterans dilemma developing over the next few years.
I don't see crime waiting for 10 years.

Heck the 99rs will be on the street in a few months lets see how many of them resort to crime. I suspect quite a few.


Why don't you write some science fiction stories to make money? The magazine that pays the best (I think) is ANALOG. It is mainly written by, for, and about engineers. It has been in business since about 1930, when it was titled ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION. You can buy a copy at a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

The Mexicans would not trust them. Families or Zs would take priority.


Behind a paywall, but viewable through Google:

China Faces Potential for Peak Coal Scenario - WSJ.com

State-run media reported that Beijing is considering capping domestic coal output in the 2011-2015 period, partly because officials worry miners are running down reserves too quickly to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding economy.

"China accounts for around 14% of global coal reserves but its share of global coal consumption is already over triple that at 47%, which is unsustainable," Hong Kong-based brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said in a report last month.

...Even if no official limits are introduced, China can't keep growing coal output much beyond another decade, analysts say. The mining sector is constrained by chronic infrastructure bottlenecks, especially road and rail, and those coal deposits that are easiest to mine have already been tapped.

Experts are starting to predict when China's coal reserves will run out—a nightmare scenario in a country where 70% of its energy is derived from coal.

According to BP PLC, China can only continue at current rates of production for 38 years before its coal reserves are exhausted. That compares with 245 years in the U.S., and 105 years in India.

That is awesome! In 38 years, we can sell coal to China for megabucks! Don't think they can build enough nuclear power in 38 years to replace coal. This fact may put a dent in China's growing economy.

One of the better presentations at ASPO-DC was a review of British coal reserve estimates (first one late 1860s, very detailed gov't study in 1872 or so and then onward from there till 1950s (or was it 1960s ?)).

Today, there are five active coal mines (collieries) in the UK, all over 50 years old. And fairly good estimates of what coal remains in each of the 5 active mines.

Basically, the end of British coal production is within sight. One can take cumulative production from the date of the various coal reserve studies till today. Add reserves for the 5 mines (<1% of total) and get actual coal produced.

From memory, ALL the reserve studies were way high. twice to five times. They counted coal in the ground that was, for various reasons, uneconomic to mine. They counted too thin, too small a deposit to recover set-up costs, too low quality coal, coal with too much water and gas, etc.

I wonder if China may impose a quota on coal production just as the market imposes it's own quota.

There are a half dozen policies of the Chinese Gov't that support a fear of coal running out. Wind and solar investments, massive hydro build-out, nuke build-out, building high efficiency coal plants, and promising conservation "with an iron hand".

It may not be 38 years.

Best Hopes for Lower Chinese Carbon Emissions,


Yes we are down to 20Mt from nearly 300Mt/year in 1913, when we exported 100Mt (helped pay the large food import bill, and the navy I suppose).
However, there is a widely held British myth (almost universal I find in conversation) that there is still plenty of coal left to mine if we really need it. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut used to say.


I have had the same experience. "The UK has 1000 years of coal etc....".
I might add that the largest UK coal producer is making a loss and may go out of business in the not too distant future.

There is still plenty of coal in Britain, there were 41 years of workable reserves in the Pit I worked at when it was closed down. In Yorkshire Britain largest coal field there are 18 seams unfortunately only 4 are of workable thickness, the remaining 14 are between 1 foot and just under 3 foot which have a combined thickness of about 10 meters, none of which have a cat in hells chance of being worked as they lie between 500 meters and 900 meters underground . The only way they are going to do it is by gasification and I can't see that happening very quickly as I don't see any drilling technology where you can effectively follow a coal seam 2 foot thick horizontally. I might be mistaken and I will most likely be enlightened by one of the readers here.

Heading Out, one of the two founders of The Oil Drum, started out his working life as an apprentice for the National Coal Board (or whatever it was called back then in the UK). Issued a pick that he used flat on his back on (from memory) on a 23" thick seam.

Soon decided to become a mining professor, working on better mining techniques. Recently retired from a University in Missouri. You may wish to query him (I have his university eMail address if you eMail at alan_drake at ju no period conn (written to evade spammer bots with added space and M replaced with nn).


Dear Alan,
I am not really arguing with you, just frustrated that we can't mine what we have left classed as none economic by Thatchers Government what they really mean is unprofitable. We orphaned millions of tons when we closed the pits as I said we had 41 years of reserves at the pit I worked at when it was closed down. This was doable, but the cost of reopening the pit now would make them uneconomical. I know Dave summers work and read it assiduously I think we must be the same age and must have started in the pits at about the same time, Dave being a Geordie started in the Northumberland and Durham coal field, and my self being a Tyke in the Yorkshire coalfield. I also was presented with a pick and shovel when I started down the Pit at 15, those round shovels are round for a reason so you don't catch your knees with them when you are working on your knees. We used to call them Oscars because you were presented with them when we started, work, a bit like Obama getting the Noble Prize, not for what he has done to deserve it, but what he might do, like Dave I became quiet adept at using shovels.

Deep Regards


Yorkshire Miner

US should make peace with Cuba, and setup an offshore drilling agreement.

America's largest industry is war (self appointed police of the world). I'm thinking there must be a few terrorist in Cuba that need to be removed. Or better yet, there must be a report some where that states "Cuba has WMD". This is a new "Born again America". Are you with us or against us? "Make peace with Cuba", it hasn't worked that way since, oh, 12th grade history class. If there is oil under your feet, beware of the bully (I mean addict).

Live long and prosper

I was 6 months old the last time Cuba had WMD. They would have used them, too, if USSR had not blinked and removed them again.

Oh now, let's not get all wrapped up in details and truth. This is America, you know home of the SUV, land of the short memory, a country of way to many taxes and regulations. I'm sure with today’s media we can justify a little invasion.

God Bless American Oil Companies

Survey: Consumer wariness to limit EV sales
Pike Research today released a survey of 1,042 U.S. consumers that found interest in highway-capable gas-electric hybrids and battery electric cars, with 44 percent of respondents saying they would be interested in a plug-in with a range of 40 miles to 100 miles and a fuel equivalent of 75 cents per gallon.

I find that pretty encouraging. 44% is a pretty high number considering EVs have such a negative reputation among many. I wish I knew the exact question . . . if it really asked about a pure EV of 40 to 100 miles, that is very encouraging since 40 miles far shorter than any real EV would be made. For pure EVs, everyone seems to be aiming at around 100 miles. That more than covers a typical day for 95% of Americans and allows for an easy overnight recharge at 240Volts.

Considering that gasoline is still pretty cheap, EVs remain a niche market for the early adopters. But when gasoline prices shoot up, I think people will start doing the math.

Article over on MSNBC about the LEAF. The dude said an hour of charging from 120v outlet is equal to 4 miles of driving. So I figured that was about 1500 watts (seems to be what an outlet in my house can handle). So 40 miles of driving would cost about $1.50 or so?

I'd take a Leaf, but i wouldn't buy one. I'd buy a Yaris and deal with rationing, shortages and riots. The mobs see you cruising around in an electric car and they'd probably attack.

I'd buy a Yaris and deal with rationing, shortages and riots. The mobs see you cruising around in an electric car and they'd probably attack.


Good point.

I'm waiting for new developments in either diesel or hybrid/plug-in hybrid powertrains. If the price is right I will buy, but will make sure to strip off those annoying hybrid and green tags that you tend to see on these cars, lest anyone know I'm driving around a gas sipper.

Well, they're thinking of putting sound makers on the electrics so that pedestrians can be forewarned of their coming. If you made these programmable you could make your electric vehicle sound like a Harley, har har.

You need a stealth electric car (like an old dodge truck) with armor and a gun turret on the top to fend off those angry mobs screaming: "I want my plug-in EV".

They sound like they are saying "I want my MTV" in any case -- go for the stealth effect -- maybe leave out the turret for now.

Much better to make the battery pack for quick take out, like a power tool battery. Then no problem about range- full new battery in seconds. The battery company owns the battery, makes the improvements, takes the hit on first cost. All you do is pay for using it.

Yes, yes, I know all the problems with that-- and I see way harder ones solved in seconds every day. Yes of course there would have to be standard sizes- A, AA, and AAA, And yes of course there would have to be battery switching stations all over--just like there are gas stations all over, you might have noticed. And yes of course there would have to be a big strong robot battery switcher. and so on and so on. Good grief.

The swap battery is the way to the practical EV, no doubt in my mind.

Meanwhile, back in the workshop, I am modifying a cheap little old Ford Festiva hatchback to take an electric motor, with a switchout lead acid battery pack behind the driver seat. One battery pack at home, one in the car, and one at the lab. I am gonna paint a flaming big sign on both doors yelling "THESUNWAYTOGO". PV panels do the charging, of course.

So much for saving the world tonight, now back to bed.

Venezuela adding 795 MW hydroelectric capacity to 10,300 MW Guri.

In reference to the lead story about Venezuela expanding electrical capacity. A La Nina related drought forced power rationing last year. Good rains this year have ended that. None the less, Venezuela is adding enough thermal power to prevent a repeat while increasing hydropower. (And talking about a Russian nuke plant).
Six hydroelectric turbines (of 20) at Guri are to be replaced with larger units in a $1.3 billion upgrade. Net additional MW - 795 MW

There have been unofficial reports of as many as 9 of the 20 turbines down for maintenance (HIGHLY unusual for hydropower plants).


ATM, Guri is spilling water (letting excess water out, bypassing the turbines) since we are near the peak of the rainy season and the reservoir is full. More water in than the turbines can handle.

Almost all dams are designed for spilling a small % of water (why buy turbines that are used <10% of the time most years, and 0% in dry years ?). However, re-engineering power plants to 1) spill less and 2) provide more peak power is a strong trend. And it is often some of the cheapest renewable power available with no environmental impact (the dam is already there).

The extra 795 MW will enable Guri to provide more peak power (less oil and NG burnt for peakers) and generate more power instead of spilling it during the rainy season. Again, less oil and NG burned.

A new 2,320 MW hydroelectric plant down stream from Guri is due to open in 2012. Plans for a series of dams upstream from Guri were canceled.



Its too bad the Mississippi wasn't developed for my hydro power. The amt of flow this spring/summer/fall has been outstanding. The locks are in place. The drop between the pools isn't great, but got to be enough to make some power (i'm only a few miles from Lock & Dam 7). Its fun going over to the spillways here and watching the water flow out on the other side. To think of how much power that could be produced, yet isn't, makes me wonder if it would just cost too much or not enough potential.

Even way up around Minneaplois its only around 600 foot elevation. A lot of water, but not much head.

The Louisiana Hydroelectric Plant



World's largest bulb turbines (9 m)

Divert about 30% of the Mississippi River + Red River down the Atchafalaya Basin. Maximum head 9' from memory (during spring flood).

The water has been diverted since the 1930s and enough silt has built up so that the Mississippi River "prefers' it's current course over the alternative down the Atchafalaya.

Best Hopes for Hydropower,


An application in August of this year for a 36 MW hydropower plant at Red River Lock #3 in North Louisiana.


A Flash-Phase Transition for the global financial system looks to be very close at hand:


The lit fuse we call Ireland’s is getting very short:

Ireland told: Take EU bailout or trigger crisis – Dublin warned it has 24 hours to make decision


The Greek “financial firewall,” built just last spring by the EU/IMF, is itself now on fire:

Austria Witholds Funds To EU Greece Bailout Package


And here in the USA the too-big-to-fail Banks are starting to disembowel each other in a desperate search for Real Paper Mortages to back their MBS.

Related News:Bonds .Bondholders Gain Standing to Demand Action on More Mortgages

Watching the markets the past week, it is down-right Scary how fast the latest Fed Hopium Fix (i.e. QE2) wore off.

Batten the hatches ;). Time to put down the popcorn, stack some firewood and re-inventory the pantry.

Denninger thinks we're headed for another crackup, this time based in Europe.

I wonder how Iceland is doing these days. I know unemployment has been an issue, but there were concerns about imports (food, clothing, etc.) and the store shelves being bare. I assume they managed to avoid that, or we'd have heard about it.

IMF says Iceland's economy stabilizing


Iceland bit the bullet early, though it's not party time yet.

The International Monetary Fund said it needs more time to gauge the impact on Iceland’s finances of plans to forgive mortgage obligations as the government responds to last month’s protests demanding debt relief. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-15/imf-says-more-time-needed-to-ga...

Debt/mortgage forgiveness? What a concept. Easy to discuss when you aren't the world's biggest economy.

Iceland continues to catch fish and produce aluminum (with renewable energy). Cut back on consumption and they can slowly climb out of the hole their banksters left them in.

Best Hopes for Iceland,


Irish prime minister dismisses bailout rumors

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Ireland is not asking for a big bailout for its banks, despite fears that its financial sector could collapse under the weight of a massive debt crisis.

Speaking to Irish parliament Tuesday, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said "Ireland has made no application for external support."

The Dow is down 200 points.

The horrible truth starts to dawn on Europe's leaders

The entire European Project is now at risk of disintegration, with strategic and economic consequences that are very hard to predict.
In a speech this morning, EU President Herman Van Rompuy (poet, and writer of Japanese and Latin verse) warned that if Europe’s leaders mishandle the current crisis and allow the eurozone to break up, they will destroy European Union itself.
“We’re in a survival crisis. We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union,” he said.

I don't understand the EU.

Those who study history know that Europe's dynamism was actually the result of having so many competing nations and empires. It produced scientific advances and was a surrogate means of population control. Contrast that with say, China, and the differences are obvious.

The EU was a bad idea to begin with and will probably fail even before the U.S. does. At the very least the Euro is toast.

The EU is based WWII and the desire for the countries to not come to war again. The slightly naive idea is that if they are more integrated, it will be less likely they will end up fighting.

Pause for a true appreciation of just how dumb that idea is.

I remember saying back in the 1990s that trying to force countries with wildly differing economies and outlooks together just increases the force of the explosion when it comes apart.

We can only hope it will only be a financial split.

PS same forces at work in the US - watch and learn

No one seems to want to seriously talk about this but the implied correlation of Wall Street stock prices has been at an all-time high. It is above 75% last time I checked which has risen from 40% a couple of years ago.

At 100% correlation, all stock prices rise and sync in complete unison. There is no distinction between buying any specific stock based on anticipated growth in this case. At best all the investor is doing is placing bets on how the entire corporate economy will trend.

It is still at 75% so best case is that you can find 1 in 4 stocks that will buck the tide. But more likely, it's the case that a stock will only show 25% sensitivity.

I think it is one of the most significant odd situations that most people don't understand and don't want to talk about.

The other way to think about it is that stock dispersion is at an all-time low.
The stock market has now permanently turned into a big wind-up toy.

[edit] correlation can go above 100%

Speculators in the stock market (i.e. most of the trading that has been going on recently) are neither bulls nor bears. They are sheep lead to slaughter by the Judas-goat financial-journalist pundits.

Re. the correlation - Too many algorithm bot traders skimming the markets ???

They form unstable positive feedback loops going up or down. You can see the "cracks" appearing by the 549 flash-crashes that hit individual stocks this year (or that hit the entire market like last May).

A Wind-Up Toy .... ?

Or a Wind-Up Timer ?

tick-tick-tick-tick *>-BOOM-<* ????

the implied correlation of Wall Street stock prices has been at an all-time high.

Maybe ETFs are getting too popular? If you buy into the efficient markets hypothesis, then you can't do better than buying the whole market. Get enough investors doing that, and the correlation will go to one!

Here is a returns distributions of the entire market over a number of years. If it starts to narrow, there will be very few big winners. All money is made on timing and when you enter and leave.

Notice the asymmetry in the tail toward losses which I modeled as a real behavior. There used to be some dispersion in return rates but it may ultimately turn into the universal green curve which is maximum entropy based strictly on randomly timed entry and exit points. I tell you, the whole artifice is set up like a random number generator with a built-in extraction ratchet.

This article points out that Ireland did everything right. But it didn't help.

"Ireland has been doing 'all the right things' policy-wise," says Jan Randolph of IHS Global Insight.

The country has stopped spending beyond its means, recently bringing its trade account into balance. A double-digit contraction since the 2008 financial meltdown has boosted business competitiveness. The government has slashed spending and socked away enough that it won't need to borrow in the markets till the spring of 2011.

And yet, what does Ireland have to show for it? Even after two years' worth of sacrifices to the financial markets, the long-feared confrontation with bond investors is at hand. The yield on Irish bonds recently jumped 13 consecutive trading days, bringing them near a back-breaking 8%.

Ermm, so Ireland "did everything right" ??!!.

Thats fine then, but what a shame to see the markets are punishing them needlessly

They're getting punished because Germany came out and said the next bailout may not 100% cover bondholder losses. So there might actually be risk in buying Irish debt that the ECB won't back.

I think Ireland should tell the IMF/Euro Mafia to stick their bailout up their darkest orifice, and then default.

First Pig to leave the table loses the least (as Austria).

If this is the Second Coming of 2008 I think we should be grateful. Hopefully Extend and Pretend dies this winter.

Time to face reality... the sooner the better.

A reported quote by Josiah Stamp, Director of the Bank of England in the 1920's, the second richest man in Britain at the time.

"Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin.
The Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them,
but leave them the power to create deposits,
and with the flick of the pen they will
create enough deposits to buy it back again.
However, take it away from them, and
all the great fortunes like mine
will disappear and they ought to disappear, for
this would be a happier and better world to live in.
But, if you wish to remain the slaves of Bankers
and pay the cost of your own slavery,
let them continue to create deposits."

From farm to market without using roads

ALBANY -- Upstate farmers could have an easier time getting their produce from field to market if a plan involving hybrid refrigerated trucks and barges on the Hudson River comes together. It's called the Hudson River Foodway Corridor, and it's in the earliest stages of planning. The market in this case is the New York metropolitan area, which is a difficult journey if you're hauling produce by truck.
Hunts Point, the cooperative market that handles the bulk of produce and other agricultural items heading into New York City, gets 14,600 truck deliveries each day. Trucks bring in 97 percent of the market's produce, while just 3 percent arrives by rail, according to Joseph Heller, resource conservation and development coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Highland.
Under the proposal being developed by USDA and a number of other agencies, hybrid refrigerated trailers that can operate either with a diesel engine or by being plugged in would be filled by farmers in their fields, then driven to the Port of Albany, where the trailers would be loaded onto barges, about 25 to a barge. Jim Harvilla, senior consultant with Customized Energy Solutions in Endicott, is working on a plan to use heavy-duty batteries produced by Reno, Nev.-based Altair Nanotechnologies to power the trailers while they're on the 17-hour barge trip down the Hudson.

From farm to market without using roads

I'm probably dating myself here, but I can remember my parents taking me and a load of cream cans to the railway station. The big, black steam engine came chuffing up (this is why I remember it - to a little kid a full-on steam engine is an awesome sight and sound), and they loaded the cream cans onto the train. Then old Amos drove up in his team and wagon, picked up all the packages and mail, and took them to the post office. This was in the 1950s, but they replaced steam engines with diesels later on the branch lines than the main lines, and old Amos just liked horses.

So, getting things from the farm to market has always been possible, and at one time it was the standard way of doing it.

Nowadays, though, I think you would use electric trains rather than steam engines. Using hybrid trucks and heavy duty batteries to power the refrigerators is just glossing over the fact that you don't need the trucks at all, or the barges for that matter. It's more efficient to put the produce in refrigerated containers and load them on the nearest train bound for the big city.

Why I Wrote Prelude, a Peak Oil Novel Written by Kurt Cobb

Every culture lives by its narratives. And, these narratives come to us not just in the form of novels, plays, movies and television shows. They also come in the form of news stories, ideology, religious doctrine, theories that are social, political and scientific, and myriad other works which fall under the category of nonfiction. Over time these narratives become outmoded, and new ones emerge, or at least, the old ones are reworked in light of new circumstances.

Has anyone read this? I just ordered it. Hope it is good.

Ron P.

Sharon Astyk likes it. She also says Mr. Cobb has donated some free copies for her to lend out, so people who can't afford to buy it can read it.

I also just ordered the book, based on Sharon's review of it. I have a great deal of respect for Kurt Cobb, and I think he is a fellow Minnesotan. He does write well.

I think he is a fellow Minnesotan.

Not that it matters one bit, but he's not.

Where is he from then? He once sent me a nice long e-mail that said or implied he was living in Minnesota. This was three or four years ago; he may have moved.

I think he is from Michigan. As noted up the thread, here is a link to what I think is one of his best articles, "Upside Down Economics."


I remember that article well; it is most certainly worth rereading. In fact, all of what Cobb writes is worth reading.

Don - Maybe you should have waited for some more reviews to come. I've heard rumors that Kurt conferred to some small degree with some of the biggest oil industry dummies.

Congrats Kurt!!!

I'm planning to buy at least ten copies--keep one and give the rest away to friends and family as Christmas presents.

California to Default on It's Debt (Chris Whalen)

You can't keep spending more than you're making. Don't count on a bailout. They should have legalized pot to collect more revenue!


The pot measure was railed against by the White House and for a number of reasons failed, but I thought it represented a great opportunity to test what would happen if it was legalized. Why not sell it like alcohol is sold with a permit. Tax it like mad, and start paying down the State debt.

It could be done as an experiment for 3-5 years, then depending on how well it worked continue to have it be legal or return to the way it is now. But at least experiment with the possibility.

The "War on Drugs" is a huge waste of money. It just makes pot more expensive - and fills up the jails. America has ten times the per-capita jail population of Canada. Jail costs as much as $30,000 a year.

And welfare costs the same per person. Kind of sad either way. california needs to default to fix the mess in its pensions which are grossly overdone.

$30,000 per inmate per year is an old number.
$100,000 per crazy inmate per year is an old number, too, but I'm lazy.
The prison system is the largest money moving entity in the state of California. The guard's, the most powerful union.
Enforcement is price support.

The war on drugs is a failure. I saw a PBS special on the Lakota Indian Tribe that tried to grow industrial HeMP with 0% THC and the FEDs spent money to wipe out the crop each year.

completely out of line with good economics since like 85% of the Lakota are unemployed and HEMP could be used rather well and produced on the poor quality soil they inhabit.

What a freaking joke this country has become! We have the "nanny state" as the right wing calls it on too many items -- especially drugs. I am not right wing by any stretch of the imagination but holy smokes we are getting out of line.

There were no tax provisions in the bill. It did say various jurisdictions can tax; it didn't tell you taxes still take a 2/3 vote to pass.

Todd may slap me, but I voted no. It was half of the county's economy 5 years ago; more important, now.



Watch out tomorrow when we have lunch :-) But seriously, I can still remember distinctly the day my wife and I drove down the drive of a rental house we had close to town and found two dead people who had been murdered in a drug deal that went bad while we were in the house. (To put this into perspective the house was on a hill in the woods and you couldn't see the drive from the house.) One of the people was the son of some people in another rental house we had.

Dope will eventually be legalized.


I like that prostitution is legalized in the state of Nevada.
If you seek food-stamps, you must look for a job.

California is the future. That generalization has been true for a long time.

Global oil availability has peaked -EU energy chief

The availability of oil worldwide has already peaked, the European Union's energy chief Guenther Oettinger said on Wednesday.

"My fear is that the global consumption of oil is going to increase, but European oil consumption has already reached its peak. The amount of oil available globally, I think, has already peaked," Oettinger told a news briefing in Brussels.

He was presenting a new EU energy strategy for investing 1 trillion euros over the next decade in a common EU energy network, to curb the bloc's dependence on fossil fuel imports.

Commercial Real Estate: The Slow-Motion Cliff Dive Gathers Speed

With all the hub-bub about the foreclosure crisis in residential real estate, commercial real estate (CRE) has fallen off the radar screen of crises. Don't worry, it's still careening off the cliff; the fall is just in slow motion.
No need for a fancy report to see the signs of decay in CRE. Signs of the ongoing CRE meltdown are everywhere--empty storefronts, mall shops and vacant office complexes abound.
The causes are all too familiar: lending standards went out the window, banks loaned too much, buyers paid too much, lousy deals were avidly securitized, cash flow projections entered Fantasyland and unhealthy speculation fed widespread fraud.

What is needed is a new discipline of developmental triage. Places need to be classified as:
1. will struggle along by themselves,
2. will survive if public transit and other low energy economy measures are taken, and
3. should be abandoned to free up resources to save category 2.

Places highly dependent on tourism like Atlantic City and Las Vegas, far flung suburban developments like Antelope Valley, towns heavily dependent on military bases and spending, etc. would fall into category 3.

Scary article. I see no bottom on retail space.

[a] I fear the best solution for those worthless properties will be food production and recovery of recycled building scraps.

[b] OR perhaps there will be no shortage of housing options it seems in the future -- one could convert these units into apartments with lower energy costs.

The newest TSA item, linked on Drudge; now they allegedly want to fondle you inside your pants:


And they don't even buy you dinner afterwards. I wonder if these TSA guys are on retainer by Amtrak.

Ummm...Prison Planet? The Alex Jones show?

Is this the first time drudge has referenced jones? that's a pretty good question imo. as it could mark "tipping point" in right wing media

"And they don't even buy you dinner afterwards."

- Great line -

"And they don't even buy you dinner afterwards."

I thought it was supposed to be dinner and a movie Before, not after!

I think the author lost credibility when he said "child molester". I figure at that point in any article, the hyperbole factor can be hard to judge. ;-)

API reports surprise decline in crude-oil supplies

The American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday reported supplies of crude oil declined 7.65 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 12.

The Washington-based trade group also reported a decline of 1.5 million barrels for gasoline stocks, and a increase of 222,000 barrels of distillates supplies.


against the forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts for a 100,000-barrel increase

Normally I take the API report with a huge dose of salt. But if you take the last two weeks of API reports together, they add up to a decline of 15 million barrels - which even if 2/3rds correct would be huge.

Based upon industrial production and import/export reports, there is some real world indications that the API and recent EIA reports are not flukes - and are reflecting improvement in oil product demand. Not to mention diesel shortages have spread across China, and gasoline supplies in the greater NYC area ran very low recently.

In face of these recent reports, basically the it's hard to see why the price of oil would continue to go down.

But if you take the last two weeks of API reports together, they add up to a decline of 15 million barrels

Actually, they add up to -27.717 million barrels.

November 03, 2010: -12.934 mb
November 10, 2010: -14.783 mb

Thanks for that link, Pollux. With the API historical data, one can compare against EIA and see how much difference there is b/w the two.

Another bullish report, my guess is that those folks shorting oil are going to get whacked.

I wouldn't be too sure the short sellers "will get whacked", at least in the short term. The market can be extremely irrational and unpredictable (particulary over the last couple of days.)

"The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent"

Does anybody know or have an informed opinion as to why the price of oil went down to $82 today?

Are those old devil speculators driving down the price now because they have big short positions?

Because we are falling head first into the worst deflationary depression in history and "the players" are going to cash?

Look at other commodities the past week or two (see recent denninger or mish posts on sugar, soybeans etc) - some people are waking up. Maybe the marketeers are playing some pink floyd...

"Pigman, Pigman
Ha-Ha, Charade you are..."

And hopefully congress sings some WHO ("we won't be fooled again") when the Fed, Treasury and Wallstreet (a.k.a. the axis of evil ;) come threatening armageddon again.

"Does anybody know or have an informed opinion as to why the price of oil went down to $82 today?"

The US is losing the race to the bottom, despite it's best efforts.

LOL - good one ;)

The EU may beat us to the bottom but I would not be surprised if we land harder.

I wonder if the diesel shortages in China told China to reign in their run-away economy. But the market is doing one thing and the diesel shortage is surely another thing. I think some investors are thinking long term, but short term supplies look tight. A lowish price could make things worse in the near term I guess (if supplies are getting tighter).

My WAG is that it is speculators who are selling short with borrowed money. If I'm right, there will be an unusual amount of volatility in oil prices and volumes of futures contracts traded in days and weeks to come.

I have a few thoughts regarding the recent drop in price.

1) I don't believe the majority of traders have a clue regarding the reality of our oil situation. I firmly believe that last weeks draw on products left traders expecting a huge rebound in supplies this week. BAU is the oil inventory numbers SHOULD bounce because we always have plenty of oil. Too much oil actually! lol

2) I don't believe anyone is reconciling the fact that floating storage has fallen off a cliff. Where did all that oil go? I think this explains the builds in oil products all summer long. There is a good chance the world has been using more oil than has been produced over the last 6 months.

3) The majore oil producers clearly over shot on the upside when the recession was just starting. What do you think the chances are these same producers will overshoot to the downside as demand comes back? Think about it, the ability of the world to fully balance the inventory levels of oil worldwide given the volitility in the capital markets just seems all but impossible.

We started predicting large draws in oil a month ago. The Analysts who get paid to follow these patterns called for an increase in crude oil. Tomorrow will provide the answers. I could be wrong, but I am expecting significant draws in the EIA numbers in the morning.

I think Saudi Arabia will gradually cut oil production until the price of oil hits their target of $90 a barrel. KSA is sophisticated enough to do this with subtlety.

This diesel problem in China seems the bigger story about oil. Why in the world is there a shortage? Is the French refinery issue spilling over and having a global effect in diesel supplies? Furthermore, what about the contracting US inventories? IS that real or fiction or are they hiding something? Are we actually experiencing an iteration of a supply crunch, but they are trying to be hush-hush about it to prevent the media from catching on that supplies are once again constrained?

I am not an oil man and just a curious science-minded observer, but two and two are not adding up to 4 right now.

Maybe the diesel problem in China is created as the international price for crude oil rises but the government controlled retail price of diesel remains constant prompting suppliers not to distribute the fuel at a loss. The article, China: Diesel shortage spreads throughout the country, refers to the profit margins shrinking to zero and becoming negative. Like with anti-gouging laws in the U.S. during emergencies, price controls prevent high retail prices but create shortages.

Economically, Chindia is growing fast (~8% GDP growth last I saw) and their oil use has increased quite a bit this year -- China had set at least two monthly refining records in the second half of 2010. They have been refining all out from what I have read. Price controls may be playing a part but demand is clearly increasing.

I don't have an informed opinion, but I just came over here from the NYTimes site. They put up a special section on Energy tonight. Apparently happy times are here again! Headline for the lead article is "There Will be Fuel". The page title is "Energy, and Plenty of It, for Decades to Come".

I could only read the first page, then started gagging and came over to TOD. I'll wait for an analysis here.

Noticed when I logged in that it is my 3rd year anniversary of getting a TOD account.


“Oil and gas will continue to be pillars for global energy supply for decades to come,” said James Burkhard, a managing director of IHS CERA, an energy consulting firm. “The competitiveness of oil and gas and the scale at which they are produced mean that there are no readily available substitutes in either one year or 20 years.”

"The same high prices that inspired dire fear in the first place helped to resolve them. High oil and gas prices produced a wave of investment and drilling, and technological innovation has unlocked oceans of new resources. Oil and gas from ocean bottoms, the Arctic and shale rock fields are quickly replacing tired fields in places like Mexico, Alaska and the North Sea."

OMG. I tasted a little puke in the back of my throat. :-0

Just as it seemed that the world was running on fumes, giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia. In addition, the United States has increased domestic oil production for the first time in a generation.

Wait . . . what?

The oil sands have expanded but not much (and not that they needed to since demand is down). I think the Canadian oil more replaced Venezuela & Mexico. And not a drop of that Brazil oil is flowing.

Am I missing something here? (or is he?)

For the last two decades, the United States has produced less oil each year and been increasingly dependent on imports than the year before. As recently as a decade ago, most experts predicted that the country had only 25 years of gas reserves, and that it would need to import at least half of its needs in the future.

Today the country has reversed both trends, chiefly because of new drilling techniques that have opened world-class oil and gas resources. In 2009, domestic production began to reverse its annual decline for the first time since 1991. The Energy Department expects domestic supplies to grow through 2035, absent a significant decline in oil prices.

Wat? Ambiguously written but do you expect domestic oil production to increase through 2035? I wish I could put in the graphic for a laughing person here.

There is a big difference between oil & gas these days.

“When you add it up,” Mr. Morse noted, “you get something that very closely approximates energy independence.”


The thing that really approximates "energy independence" is called death.

The unemployed are becoming energy independent I presume. As they increase, then we will become energy independent. ouch. And the NYTIMES is becoming shrill for the impossible oil future too. Or am i just a newbie and extremely naive?

I apologize for veering off topic, but I've witnessed some things lately that have left me deeply shaken and I feel compelled to speak out. Much of my firm's work is related to small businesses and there's a natural tendency for business owners to cut costs wherever possible, especially when money is tight. Consequently, these individuals will often undertake their own electrical work or call upon the assistance of friends; in the process, they could be putting themselves and others at grave risk.

One of our crews was to perform a simple lighting retrofit at a pizzeria that should have taken no more than a couple hours. What they quickly discovered shocked them, both figuratively and literally. Fixtures feed by single-strand wire; undersized conductors; brittle, scorched and frayed insulation; no grounds; no L-16s nor anti-shorts and in most cases no junction boxes... "hot" neutrals, and so it goes on. I wish I could share more pictures, but this one should give you a sense of what I speak:

The ceiling tiles have absorbed a good amount of grease over the years, and if a mouse had chewed through one of the wires a fire could ignite and quickly spread through the plenum (there are mouse droppings all over the ceiling, so I know they're present or have been in the past). * We'll likely spend a good day and a half ripping everything out and re-wiring from scratch to bring it up to code.

Key point: If you're a home owner, landlord or small business owner, please leave this type of work to a qualified electrician. And if you are a tenant or prospective property owner, please take a close look at the electrical system and have it inspected if you have any doubts as to its general condition and suitability. And if you haven't done so already, get a smoke detector (or multiple detectors) and keep it in good working order.


* My church hall nearly burnt down because a mouse had chewed through an electrical feed in the kitchen. The only thing that saved it was that the building was occupied at the time and the nearest fire house is a block away and so the trucks arrived within minutes of the call. Thankfully, no loss of life, but over a $1,000,000.00 of damage (btw, had the fire broken out a half-hour before or after it did, the hall would have been empty and, without a doubt, completely consumed).

Who needs a million dollar church?

God, apparently.

Not a church; a three story church hall that also served as the town's community centre and council offices during its earlier days (and the largest dance hall east of Montréal during the war years so I'm told). The fire broke out on the lower level and quickly ran up an exterior wall feed by 100+ year old seaweed insulation (I'm guessing there were no fire stops either). The building suffered extensive smoke and water damage.


That looks pretty good for around here :) I will not let any of the locals touch my wiring. Even in the UK, this will upset the truly professional electricians, I developed a deep distrust of 'qualified' electricians, I had just too many try and kill me. If a professional does the work I always check carefully first.


Thanks for telling me about mouse droppings at the Pizzeria. *Bleah*

But I'm still going to install my own PV system. Don't worry, I pull permits and have it inspected. I built the one at my previous house.

Think twice the next time you order a pizza with "all the toppings". =:O

There's nothing wrong doing electrical work on your own, provided you know what you're doing (and I suspect you do), the required permits are pulled and the work is properly inspected. Sadly, a lot of us get quickly over our heads and either don't realize it or chose to press on, and willingly bend or break the rules. Glad you appreciate the difference.

What upsets me is when I come across something like this and there's a second story apartment with young children. I've been in a house fire (a relatively small one that was thankfully contained to the kitchen) and few of us realize how quickly a home can fill with smoke, how our breathing is impacted and how badly our judgment is impaired. You think you'll act rationally, that you'll remember all the "rules" and that you'll handle the situation intelligently, but theory and reality often move in opposite directions and you realize in hindsight that you're a complete moron (and here I speak only of myself).

Simply put: fire kills and it can kill swiftly. Never compromise safety.


After one inspection, I was told "typical good homeowners job". I asked what he meant. He showed me where I wasted money on materials.

- 3/4" conduit where I could have used 1/2" (my choice to save on pulling hard, less abrasion to the wire)
- Used wire in conduit where I could have used romex
- Too many straps, and all two hole when one would have served
- Over sized conductors (save on resistance losses forever)
- Used commercial grade switches and outlets in a residence
- Used Square D QO subpanel
- Added expansion ring to junction box when there was enough room to squish it in
- Added a separate ground at the sub-panel that code does not call for (but allows)
- Added surge protection breakers to both main and subpanel.
- Used black and red wire instead of just color coding them with tape at either end

Professional electricians use the least materials they can get by with.


Right there is my problem with having a hired guy come in an 'fix a circuit'.. They have to find the 'shortest distance between the two points', figuratively speaking, and so additions and changes often don't get the luxury of being well fit into a system-level approach.

Your examples of "Squishing" and Straps are some of my real peeves about the accepted designs for running electric circuits. I wish Electrical boxes had contact strips of some sort built right into them, and no more 'Twist and Cap'.. all the bending and mashing of wires, making them weaker, more resistive, and essentially limited to very few modifications before conductors are dangerously worn and have to be tossed and replaced..(which few would do, so they age with unknown deterioration under those insulators..) all the while turning j-box after j-box into a jumbled rat's nest of dangerous currentflow.. (EDIT: and I HAVE seen many artfully packed j-boxes, but I still maintain that this is a compromised approach..)

Of course, the alternative is really learning how to DIY WELL, or pay scads to have someone who works to far higher standards than the NEC Minimums.. Not saying it to diss electricians, though. It's the same rigged game as anything that requires a lot of planning, thinking and detailed execution.. but where those corners are so often the first to be cut to remain competitive.


The more I work with 12 to 48 Volt DC offgrid PV systems the less I want to work with 120 to 240 volt AC mixed grid tie systems. I'm also convinced that LED lighting is ready for prime time.


I've got good enough LED sources now so that any of the Dimmed Lighting I've been keeping as Incandescent can basically all switch over to LED, while the rest of the house is doing very well with CFL.. (Yet I'm looking for places to move over to T8's and such as well, .. inspired by Paul's great examples here!)

Thanks, Bob. I'm keenly interested in learning more about your experience with LEDs, especially as it pertains to light quality, colour stability, lumen maintenance, longevity and so forth. I've heard positive things from you and others on this forum and the market is continuing to mature rapidly. Other than refrigeration cases and exit signs, we haven't used LEDs in our retrofit work thus far, but I'm confident that will change with time.

It looks like we'll be partnering with another of the big three lighting manufacturers sometime in the new year and their LED division offers some pretty snazzy stuff (got to finagle a trip to Holland or at least a couple of freebies out of this).


Hey Paul;
Admittedly, while I've pointed out my perspective as a professional cameraman, which makes it sound like I'm going to be highly technical and scientific about it, I'm really more of an impressionist with lighting, so I don't really work in CRI as much as 'Atmospheric Responses'.. Currently, I've picked up a half dozen of these Surface Mounted Warm Whites that are meant to go in Low Voltage Halogen MR-11 sockets, and here in my office, I'll drive them directly from the little 40w Shell Solar Panel out the window.. (I call it my 'Reflected Glory' series) The color looks a little TOO warm, probably 2700, 2800k or so, but no longer has the green cast that Warm Whites would show up with a few years back.

$14, Amazon.. http://www.amazon.com/Holagen-Replacemnt-Camper-Trailer-1110WH/dp/B0027B...

Practically Speaking, CFL's light the house.. but these little highlight areas where the LEDS work are task areas or specialty applications, and so they tend to get a little more notice. But again, as with PV, I find the apparent resilience, the weight and size of these items gives them other advantages that their Fluoro and Tungsten counterparts lack. Can be a little advantageous at home, but then In Production or elsewise out in the Field, (Camping, etc) these advantages amplify their appeal quickly. As much in the quality of this source, as opposed to flashlights, lanterns, candles and even many Fixtures, I find this little 180deg. source from a disk is easy to reflect into a spotted area, or use broadly as is.. there's no heat, and it's easy to place so you don't have glare in your eyes, the most common drain on a light's effectiveness.

Best for now! (I'm off to work on a little VIDEO ROV in my shop that can see MY scary wiring and insulation inside these old walls.. if I do it right, I'll be able to rent the little critter as well!)

Best of luck, Bob, with your renovations and thanks for the link to the amazon site.

I know that you have a discriminating eye when it comes to light quality and how a light source interacts with its environment due to the nature of your work. Lighting being half-art, half-science, this first part is sometimes overlooked as we giddily pour over each new press release.

I've been genuinely impressed by some of the CREE products I've seen and I'm expecting more good things to come, but a little more in-the-field validation would be helpful.


Your picture goes into my album: Montage of the Invisible Hand at Work Again

(Subtitle: Tails of the Wireless Mouse)

Neither France, nor the Western world generally, is living in a time of relative prosperity. Not anymore. Maybe not ever again.

Baloney. In any country in the Western world, I can get enough calories to feed myself for a month from the wages of two hours of menial labor. In most Western countries, I can get a subsistence level of food for free. That's a level of relative prosperity unheard of in human history.

You can argue about whether the average Joe or Jean-Claude can afford a Blu-Ray player and a car, either now or in the future, but that's trivial compared to the incredible wealth of our society measured in the historically-relevant metrics of food, clothing, and shelter.

G-man - I suppose prosperity is like freedom: all in the mind of the beholder. I'm sure it's disheartening to be living in a run down tenament and watch the limos with Wall Street fat cats drive by. OTOH you're not recycling undigested corn out of your crap either. I've only briefly rubbed up against a few of our poorest societies around the globe. But that did serve to recalibrate my concept of "poor". We could and should be doing better for the poorest in the US. But we aren't in as bad a shape as some offer IMHO.

Living in a run down tenement and watching the limos with Wall Street fat cats drive by

They are making the ultimate sacrifice for you.

You simply don't yet understand --which is why we forgive you.

Heaven, you see, is a finite population destination.

Heaven would not be "sustainable" if He let everyone in.
There simply would be way too many souls to feed and not enough cream cheese (with toasted bagels).

And since a rich man cannot pass through on account of the needle's eye and the camel yarn, they who ride in the limos are purposefully making room for YOU.
They are sacrificing their immortal souls so that yours can pass on to the greater glory.

You should thank them, not curse them.

Indeed, a better statement would be that relative prosperity is on the decline per capita. But we should all be thankful for the food and shelter we do have which is darn nice relative to 1000 years ago!

Retire at age 60? Who can afford that? Who’ll pick up that bill? Where’s the money?

The fact that the numbers 60 and 62 are constantly appearing in news reports is the result of confusing terminology, cultural differences and an attempt to stultify the positions of the unions and the Socialists.

In fact, 60 is merely the earliest possible retirement age for workers who have been paying into the system for at least 40 years.

In France, only people who have been paying every month since age 20, without interruption, are able to retire at age 60 with a full allowance.


About Byron King article and :

As a long-time follower of the world oil industry, I was immediately struck by how one key target of the rioters and protesters was France’s petroleum distribution system.

This doesn't represent the reality at all, the fact is that the refineries workers strike started a bit before the strikes regarding the retirement age, and for different reasons, typically the unions perfectly know that the refinery industry in Europe will have to be downsized, due to :
- there is an over capacity
- consumption is on the decrease for end products
- refineries tends to move closer to crude production points (makes perfect sense for producing countries and shipping cost) (for instance Total built brand new ones in Africa)
Already one major one closed down in Dunkerque

And the refineries workers also then "hooked up" on the retirement age strike.

But saying refinieries or petroleum distribution system were a "key target of the rioters and protesters" is completely false. Besides, there were no real riots or violence in these strikes (much less than during 2005 suburbs riots)