Drumbeat: October 31, 2011

Asia faces rocky road in securing energy needs

(Reuters) - Governments in emerging Asian economies will struggle to secure their rising energy needs as rapidly swelling demand in leading consumers China and India outpaces growth in supplies, which is likely to keep oil prices over $100 a barrel.

High fuel costs for importers are threatening their economies as they grapple with rising subsidy bills and inflation.

The fuel burden, with oil imports costing around 5 percent of gross domestic product, is weighing on economic growth, said Richard Jones, deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency.

IEA sees no need for OPEC to cut output at Dec meet

(Reuters) - The IEA does not want OPEC to cut output at a meeting in December as demand for the producer group's oil will be half a million barrels per day (bpd) more in 2012 than it pumped last month, a top IEA official said on Monday.

Gulf Arab oil producers raised oil supply this year to compensate for the loss of output from Libya, where civil war shut down production. Libya's output is recovering, but the International Energy Agency saw no need for producers to cut back, the agency's Deputy Executive Director Richard Jones said.

Oil Declines in New York, Paring Biggest Monthly Increase Since May 2009

Oil fell in New York on speculation demand will falter after the biggest monthly gain in more than two years and a surge in the dollar. Brent’s premium to U.S. crude slid to a four-month low.

Futures fell as much as 1 percent after Japan weakened the yen for the third time this year and a technical indicator signaled prices may have risen too fast. A stronger dollar typically curbs demand for commodities from holders of other currencies. Crude prices at $100 a barrel would be unsustainable, according to the former head of the International Energy Agency. Oil is up 17 percent in October, the biggest monthly increase since May 2009.

Iran’s Khatibi Sees Oil Market Balanced, No Need for Emergency OPEC Talks

Iran’s Governor to OPEC Mohammad Ali Khatibi said supply and demand in world oil markets are balanced and he sees no need for an emergency meeting of the producer group, according to the state-run Iranian Students News Agency.

Asia LNG prices to continue rising-Shell CEO Voser

SINGAPORE, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Oil major Royal Dutch Shell Plc expects prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Asia to continue rising and refining margins to stay under pressure in 2012, its chief executive said on Monday.

"LNG prices are rising and we see this continuing," Peter Voser told Reuters on the sidelines of the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW).

PetroChina to supply 25 pct more gas in winter-spring -paper

(Reuters) - PetroChina Co Ltd , the dominant natural gas supplier in China, will supply 25 percent more of the fuel in the coming winter-spring season than a year earlier, China Petroleum Daily reported on Monday.

Beijing in fresh South China Sea warning

China could again be giving ExxonMobil the jitters after the former reiterated its stance against companies drilling in the disputed South China Sea.

The warning from China’s foreign ministry on Monday comes shortly after ExxonMobil revealed it had struck hydrocarbons in a disputed region off Vietnam.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and adjacent waters," Reuters quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, as saying at a regular briefing.

Suspected suicide bomber attacks Kazakh oil city

(Reuters) - Two blasts ripped through the oil hub city of Atyrau in western Kazakhstan on Monday, prosecutors said, killing one man described by media as a suicide bomber.

Russia's Gazprom to explore for gas in Bangladesh

(Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom , the world's largest natural gas company, on Monday proposed exploring for gas in Bangladesh's onshore fields to cushion an energy crisis that has slowed the country's economic growth, a senior government official said.

Libya oil production at one-third of prewar level

TRIPOLI, Libya — Libya's oil output is almost at a third of its prewar levels, the country's acting oil minister said Monday, adding that the resumption of production was moving quicker than expected.

Output, which virtually ground to a halt during the 8-month civil war that toppled Moammar Gadhafi, has reached 531,000 barrels per day, said Ali Tarhouni, the interim government's oil and finance minister. The OPEC member, which sits atop Africa's largest proven reserves, produced about 1.6 million barrels per day before the war.

Syria to respond to Arab League plan

(CNN) -- Syria is due to respond Monday to an Arab League proposal for bringing more than seven months of violence to an end, Qatar's prime minister said Sunday.

Kansai Elec To Face 9.5% Power Supply Shortage In Feb -Kyodo

Kansai Electric Power Co. (9503.TO) is expected to face a power supply shortage in February of 2.53 million kilowatts, with its supply capacity falling 9.5% short of estimated peak demand during the month when winter heating demand is the highest, Kyodo News reported Monday, citing government sources.

Drilling Debate in Cooperstown, N.Y., Is Personal

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The letter that arrived in Kim Jastremski’s mailbox on County Highway 52 suggested that she stop protesting the possibility of natural gas drilling. It seemed more of a threat than a request.

Computer-generated, unsigned and sent to about 10 other opponents of a practice known as fracking, it compared them to Nazis and said they were being watched while picking up their children at school in their minivans.

Jennifer Huntington’s abuse is more public, like comments online suggesting that people find out where her dairy sells its milk so that they can stop buying it, or the warning that her farm, which has a lease with a gas company, “will fall like a house of cards when your water is poisoned.” She and other drilling proponents have also been called “sellout landowners that prostitute themselves for money.”

Nebraska Seeks a Say on the Route of a Pipeline

With a federal decision anticipated soon on whether an oil pipeline will be allowed to run from Canada through the nation’s midsection, lawmakers in Nebraska are being summoned on Tuesday to an unexpected legislative session over the issue, which has stirred up a level of rancor that few had predicted.

Fukushima Plant Released Record Amount of Radiation

The destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan was responsible for the biggest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history, a study from a French institute said.

The radioactive cesium that flowed into the ocean from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant was 20 times the amount estimated by its owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., according to the study by the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, which is funded by the French government.

Mining Business Risks Summit

Energy costs should continue to appreciate according to Mr. Coxe, because, “85 million barrels of oil get burned up a day. At the margin, the prices have to go up because we have run out of all the low cost sources of supply. Peak oil doesn’t mean we are running out of oil, it means we are running out of oil at $50 bucks a barrel.” As a forecast, “oil prices are likely to stay at about $70 bucks [per barrel of oil] in real terms.” He also believes the spread between the West Texas Intermediate and the Brent will be eliminated within the near future, “the United States and to a lesser degree Canada will not have an automatic competitive economic advantage in competing with Europeans as a result of the distortion of energy prices.”

Eugene aims to halve fossil fuel use

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions that many believe are causing climate change, the city of Eugene has an ambitious environmental goal: cut fossil fuel consumption — including gasoline — in half by 2030.

It’s a tall order in a city where the automobile remains the preferred transportation choice, but a city official says a local trend indicates that the goal may be possible to reach.

Report highlights alternative transportation options for Northwest

The four case studies includes active transportation (cycling, walking, etc) in Whistler, a ride sharing program in the Kootenays, public transit systems in Wisconsin, electric vehicles in use in Terrace, and potential for enhanced passenger rail service between Edmonton and Prince Rupert.

"The truth is we need to ween ourselves off of fossil fuels," said Nikki Skuce, senior energy campaigners for ForestEthics. "So what are some [things] that people are doing that that can work in a rural context and what are some initiatives that residents are taking?"

Carbon Fear And Loathing In Riyadh

A little trip to Riyadh is interesting. There, young western educated planners and cadres are all rigorously indoctrinated, or self-indoctrinated with Postcarbon Sustainability themes and memes. All government agencies are full of them. The holy city of Mecca now boasts an urban rail system able to carry 60 000 passengers per hour, and Saudi railway boomers intend to rival American and Russia railway builders of the 19th century, with 2400 miles of rail track currently under construction. To be sure, the main goal is replacing and substituting oil in the Saudi economy. In their colorful powerpoints, the Postcarbon Prophets of the Kingdom show these rail networks lined by Super Grids fed with clean green energy from huge windfarms and glistening solar power plants, miraculously protected from airborne sandstorm grit and stones. Whatever it is, Future Energy is not oil.

Small Time

Why small cities like Baltimore are poised for success in a hot, thirsty, and oil-starved future.

Building your town from scratch - a Bush Telegraph hypothetical Part 2

An eight member panel of 'founding mothers and fathers' worked with a live audience to establish the location, purpose and population of what rapidly turned into a state capital, set in WA's Kimberley called 'Delirium.'

Then challenges were set involving technology delivery, carbon tax, peak oil, food security and climate change.

World population hits 7 billion

Today, you are one of 7 billion people on Earth.

This historic milestone is rekindling age-old debates over birth control, protecting natural resources and reducing consumption. It also has many wondering whether the Earth can support so many people.

11 challenges facing 7 billion super-consumers

Currently, humans are consuming the equivalent of one-and-a-half planet Earths every year, according to WWF's Living Planet Report. Looking at renewable resources—from fish to forests and carbon to agriculture—the report shows just how far we have surpassed the sustainability of our world. By the time the global population is expected to stabilize at 9 (or maybe 10) billion people in 2050, a total 2.8 Earths will be necessary if 'business as usual' continues. In other words it would take the Earth's resources nearly 3 years to recover from 1 year of human consumption. Not surprisingly, some consume a far bigger share than others: for example, if everyone on Earth consumed as much as the average American, global society would need 4.5 Earths today to live sustainably.

The status quo will save us all

The solution we have been pursuing for decades — sacrifice — is going to work for at least a bit longer.

Of course I’m not talking about self-sacrifice. What good American believes in that goody-two-shoe garbage?

Nor am I talking about the kind of sacrifice they did in the old days, where you have to actually watch a virgin member of your family burn.

What I am talking about is sacrificing your great-great-grandchildren, and their grandchildren, en masse. It’s kind of like how some indigenous cultures suggest we consider the seventh generation in all that we do, only backwards.

Enjoy The Present Golden Age

In particular, I think many people anticipate a future where disease and disabilities are absent or easily curable, and where the human lifespan is elongated and perhaps even unlimited.

On the other hand, I think everyone who thinks they were born too early needs to recognize how lucky they are. There is no guarantee that the future will be better than the present, and there are many plausible reasons to believe that it could be much worse.

Don't Let Oil Zombies Eat Your Brain

Oil ideology is increasingly on display in Canada these days. This past summer's recent meeting of provincial and federal energy ministers in Kananaskis started with a reasonable sounding discussion about needing a national energy strategy, but then ended in a hearty cry of "Oiiiiiil..." based on a rationale that would absolutely fry the planet.

Apparently, oil ideologues, like zombies, are here for a good time, not a long time.

The six natural resources most drained by our 7 billion people

For how long can we realistically expect to have oil? And which dwindling element is essential to plant growth?

Fossil Fuels as the Whale Oil of the Future

Amory B. Lovins, the longtime efficiency guru, has a new book out that analyzes the possibility of converting the nation to almost total reliance on renewable sources of energy. The conclusions may not win instant acceptance, but it is certainly in the running for the best-blurbed energy book of the year.

China's Three Gorges hits full capacity

YICHANG (Xinhua) -- China's Three Gorges Dam on Sunday reached its designed highest mark, the second time for the world's largest water control and hydropower project to run at full capacity.

Vestas Cuts 2011 Revenue Forecast 8.6% on Delays at German Turbine Factory

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the biggest maker of wind turbines, cut its forecasts for margins and revenue this year after delays in expanding production at its new plant in Travemuende, Germany.

UK plans to halve solar subsidies

(Reuters) - Britain plans to halve state subsidies for solar panel schemes of up to 50 kilowatts (kW) and to impose minimum energy efficiency standards on buildings applying for solar feed-in tariffs (FITs), the energy ministry said on Monday.

Another Solyndra? Electric car battery maker facing financial hardship

A company whose subsidiary received $118 million in stimulus grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy to build new electric car batteries has now been removed from trading on NASDAQ.

EnerDel got an Energy Department grant in early 2010 for battery manufacturing in Indiana but the stock of EnerDel's parent company, Ener1, fell from $4.04 in 2010 to just 9 cents on Thursday. By Friday NASDAQ had pulled the company from its listing leaving the stock at $0.00.

Statoil Says Japan on Its ‘Watch List’ for Offshore Wind Plans

Statoil is refining its floating wind turbine concept while Japan hones plans to install this type of machine off Fukushima following the March earthquake and tsunami that devastated the region and led to reduced nuclear power capacity.

Catastrophic Drought in Texas Causes Global Economic Ripples

AUSTIN — The drought map created by University College London shows a number of worryingly dry areas around the globe, in places including East Africa, Canada, France and Britain.

But the largest area of catastrophic drought centers on Texas. It is an angry red swath on the map, signifying what has been the driest year in the state’s history. It has brought immense hardship to farmers and ranchers, and fed incessant wildfires, as well as an enormous dust storm that blew through the western Texas city of Lubbock in the past month.

The Great Pumpkin: Competitive vegetable growers are closing in on an elusive goal—the one ton squash

To the west, in New Richmond, Wisconsin, a 33-year-old grower named Chris Stevens had used a flower from a 1421 Stelts to pollinate a plant from New Hampshire. Stevens estimated the fruit at 1,541 pounds, but at the 2010 Stillwater Harvest Fest, in Minnesota, it came in at 1,810.5 pounds, a new world record. A Michigan grower came in second. Even South Dakota made the top five.

With climate change, the Great Pumpkin Belt could widen, giving the Ohio Valley stiffer competition from the north, says Andres. Stevens is doubtful that such northerly states are going to overtake Ohio Valley’s lead any time soon. “That’s the number-one weigh-off in the world,” he said reverently. “They have a good chance of holding onto it.”

I recorded a video interview with Max Keiser last week on a recent post I did called The United States' 65 Year Debt Bubble. The post can be found here. The video can be found here. I talk during the second half of the show, but the first part is related.

Thanks Gail.
I liked your quick summary soundbite at the end!

Also caught the discussion of Tony Blair at the front of Keiser's Report.
Anybody any guess what TB's view of the future might be?
From UK's Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/8843606/Tony-Blair-a...

Tony Blair adds Kazakhstan to his growing list of business clients

If Tony Blair is to visit Kazkhstan in his peace envoy role, then this looks likely to be the future for this country


Two explosions have hit the oil city of Atyrau in western Kazakhstan, killing a suspected suicide bomber.

Qantas hit by invisible hand of peak oil

A bit of old news - July 14 - that I just ran into -

Gas driller halts distribution of controversial coloring book

Erich Schwartzel wrote in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Talisman Terry, the "friendly Fracosaurus" star of a coloring book published by Talisman Energy, will no longer explain the natural gas drilling process to youngsters after the company announced plans today to stop distribution of the controversial children's book.

TALISMAN TERRY'S ENERGY ADVENTURE was a 24-page booklet that explained natural gas drilling in kid-friendly fashion. It's message is overt and unapologetic: drilling for natural gas in formations like the Marcellus Shale is smart, safe, and American.

In the coloring book, the same plot of land doesn't look much different in the "Before Drilling" and "After Drilling" illustrations. If anything, the "after" image seems more pastoral: new trees have been planted, a bald eagle soars over the hill, a rainbow has appeared. The Post-Gazette reported on the coloring book last month, and the book's rosy view of the controversial industry was lambasted by critics as dishonest propaganda. (Read the whole article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11195/1160429-100.stm

It was discussed in the Drumbeat at the time. They'd actually been distributing that coloring book for years before the press noticed. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article on it in mid-June, and it got a lot of media attention. Colbert making fun of it on national TV was the death blow.

Ah, thanks Leanan. Seemed familiar but when I saw the link in a quarterly newsletter today, couldn't recall if it was discussed here or not.


Have the developed nations arrived at "peak growth" in equity markets, i.e., peak growth for corporations based in the most mature developed nations and firms? An article to prompt thought exercise:


Of course those who have spent their lives in the financial community see this as a once in a lifetime, even a 'Millennium Event’. The powers in the financial community having completely missed this radical development insist that it will soon change, that stock market returns "always" rebound to far above the return for bonds. Since the birth of industrialism this has been the case.

In 1861, the last time before this most recent 30 years period that bond returns grew faster than stock market returns, the world was still in the infant days of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution was the most powerful and profound change in the wealth producing and wealth consuming patterns of humanity since the birth of agriculture and animal husbandry (and the birth of cities and civiliation as we know it).

Question: Given current demographic and economic shifts in the developed world, shifts which have stalled growth for all the industrialized nations (Japan, Europe, the U.S. and former U.S.S.R), have we now seen "peak equity growth"? Or is this a passing trend, and will stocks soon begin to rebound to new higher levels, once again exceeding the return on debt (bonds)by large amount and for the long haul (as almost everyone in the financial community continue to believe will be the case? Was the last 30 years an aberration, or is the lack of return on equities a sign of a massive and incredible new structure of wealth production and wealth consumption, as was the birth of massive equity growth rates beginning in the 1860's? Food for thought?


I don't pretend to know whether it is happening now, but isn't it bound to happen soon?

Stock market analysts (read 'promoters') always talk about 'history' informing us that US stocks always go up over a certain time frame. But their very narrow definition of 'history' is past stock market numbers. If they took a peek at real history, they would see that the period they are looking at was unusual in a number of regards--it saw the great expanse in use of ff to run industrial output of food, goods, and services. This harvested some 20,000 man hours worth of extremely cheap 'labor' from every barrel of oil, for example. It was also a period when the US ascended to world power status.

Both of those seem to be coming to an end, and will surely not be the underlying reality in the coming decades.

Add to that the increasingly devastating effects of GW, general ecological collapse, the 7 billionth baby...and you have interesting times ahead, indeed.

RC - "...have we now seen "peak equity growth?" I won't speak for other industries but you may have seen me rant about the motivation behind most of the fractured shale drilling activities. The public companies throwing $billions at these plays are doing for a very simple reason: it's the only way to increase equity. While the plays tend to be economical they are not very profitable. Most of the value comes from booking an increase in y-o-y reserves. In general the better of these plays are providing returns around 2/4 to one. As I just pointed out in another post we target deep conventional NG with a minimum of 5 to 1 return. And that's with the relatively low NG prices. But we have no stock equity angle like all the shale players, For us it's all about profit. There just aren't nearly enough conventional prospects left in the US to support all these public oils. They have no choice but to chase the shale plays...it's the only game in town for many of these companies.

To your point about "peak equity". That's where I see the oil/NG industry today. As long as these companies can satisfy Wall Street's demand for reserve replacement it will support their stock valuations. But given the short life of each well and the relatively low profitability I see these companies in more of a holding pattern than growing. Company A would keep drilling even if the results generated no real profit as long as they can drill enough wells to replace their production. I've done such projects more than once for public companies. In fact I once drilled several wells for a company knowing they would be money losers. But they also increased company equity over 200%. Wall Street does work in mysterious ways sometimes, eh?

In essence it can become a wealth transfer mechanism distributing the company's cash flow to the service industry, royalty owners and tax collectors. The shareholders gain mostly from selling their positive equity. Recently Petrohawk was acquired for $12 billion. Their production wasn't worth anywhere close to that. Another shale player acquired them for their undeveloped shale acreage. If we had all the details I would guess we would find Petrohawk to be the most profitable shale player of all times. Not by drilling but by trading away their acreage and cashing out.

So if the source of much of the energy to drive the rest of our economy is approaching peak equity can the rest be far behind?

There was a recent article about the extraction rate of a wellhead in these Shale Oil plays

Given such high rates of depletion compared to conventional fields and the high cost of equipment what's the net return on these drills after 5 years when the output has dropped by 80% ? Do people hop across fields every few years in these areas ? Must leave quite a scar on the landscape given the nature of fracking.

Note : I am assuming a similar extraction rate for NG

WI - Not sure how representative your chart is. First, I've seen no report indicating that the average of all wells in any trend is anywhere close to 1,000 bopd. Some of the better wells...yes. But the average is typical half that or less. I know the Eagle Ford in detail. Have all the production data...good and bad...just a few mouse clicks way. A 1,000 bopd EF well is typically doing 100 bopd or less after 12 months. Your chart indicated almost 6X that rate. Thus I have a credibility problem with it. There may be a play close to that but I would have to see the original data to believe it.

But it does a good job of giving a sense of how these reserves decline. Not sure what you mean by "hop across fields every few years". Maybe have a later drilling phase in the same area? Sometimes but not common.

"Must leave quite a scar on the landscape given the nature of fracking." I think you've been misled by the anti-frac'ng rhetoric. There are no surface scars. Neither the drilling nor frac'ng process permanently damages the surface. Ground water contamination of improperly disposed frac fluids is another matter. While producing all you'll see is a well head, some production equipment and a few tall metal tanks. Usually covers less than 1/2 acre. Often the best maintained area of the land: nice rock pad, well drained, weed free, etc. And after the well has produced? Nothing but a nice clean smooth patch of ground. And a few years after abandonment you can't tell a well was ever drilled there. Wasn't that way 30 or 40 years ago. But this isn't 30 or 40 years ago.

Again, I'm not saying there shouldn't be concern over pollution of the ground water. But that's a different issue than what you mischaracterized.

The graph is from the post Tech Talk - The Niobrara, the Tuscaloosa and the Chattanooga Shales on TOD.

I think you've been misled by the anti-frac'ng rhetoric

Probably, I guess it's hard to distinguish rhetoric from reality nowadays

WI - Guess I didn't look at the graph too close when I skimmed it. I might have ranted a bit about it there...or been shown its validity.

Re: frac'ng in the NE. Early on I tried to explain to my Yankee that they shouldn't be too worried about the actual frac'ng process causing any problem. It can happen but rarely. The real danger was improper disposal of the produced frac fluids...really very nasty/dangerous stuff. I speculated that the source might be "midnight haulers": tanker trucks hauling the nasties to disposal sites but instead dumping them in a field at 2 AM. Turns out I was wrong. Apparently the major source was local municipal treatment centers dumping the untreated nasties back into the environment. The disposal companies were paying them a fee to take the nasties. It was interesting that once the story broke that it was locals doing the dumping there was a significant lack of reporting. Turns out both NY and PA passed laws making it illegal for the municipalities to take anymore frac fluids in. Same day the new law went into affect, NY lifted that state ban on frac'ng.

But the harm has been done. From what I've been reading it's getting pretty nasty between folks who have leased their lands and ones who don't have mineral rights. The local mineral owners are looking at 100's of $millions in royalty payments with the non-mineral owners worrying about losing their livelihood from their land. Even down to death threats.

Folks can have their opinions about the risk from drilling/frac'ng. But there have been tens of thousands of wells frac'd in Texas and you would be hard pressed to find many non-mineral owning property owners with complaints. Our land owners are extremely protective of the property. They won't hesitate to sue the pants off of you. And the Texas Rail Road Commission isn't shy either about enforcement. But I think the time for a rational discussion has long passed in the NE. Emotions are running too high on both sides IMHO.

Here's what I don't get:

"The real danger was improper disposal of the produced frac fluids...really very nasty/dangerous stuff."

In what sense can it be considered safe to produce these nasty dangerous fluids at all? Presumably they go somewhere, even in Texas where landowners are/were prudent or wised-up enough to make sure it wasn't their property that was contaminated. Maybe there is an acceptable land or waterway to contaminate with these extra toxic materials, or maybe they become harmless through processing? I know it's a bit of a loaded question, but it's one that I think people who come around looking for answers to broader questions based on ethics (or maybe just a long-view of self-interest), are asking. How does can we justify these massively toxic digs outside of a desperate, dead-ender style exploit? Or are concerns overblown?

Frac fluid basically consists of water and sand. The mysterious chemicals they talk about are typically something you might find in toothpaste or household cleaning products. The problem is that the fluid that comes back up the well from the frac job is contaminated with crude oil and other fluids from the producing formation, so you don't want them to dump down the nearest sewer.

The best solution is to inject the fluid into a deep formation a mile or so underground. Put it back where you found it.


Appreciate teh clarification on the fluid substance. It sounds so simple when you put it that way. Needless to say the waste products from the household drain - cleaning products, etc, are disruptive in their way on the ecology of rivers/streams/soil etc. When you talk about volumes many orders of magnitude larger, well, all things in moderation. A good healthy bio layer can absorb a trickle, but our ecological buffer is already against the ropes.

To hear Rockman tell it, the processes and logistics of extracting oil and gas from fracture sources are complex to the point of unpredictability - you don't know what's going on down there until you drill it. Why should we assume the same complicated factors of material, pressure, flow, and whatever else are not as complicated when we are talking of pumping liquid back into these holes, and more-so because we expect all that sludge to remain happily buried indefinitely.

It's safe to assume that there's much less financial incentive in looking at the problem of storage in the same complicated way that we look at extraction. When talking about extracting resources, all kinds of scientific and analytic thinking are engaged, with create models, charts and graphs, and the nitty gritty about how much, where, when, etc, discussed in detail, but when it comes to dealing with the toxic outcome, it's "just put it back where you found it". It wasn't like that when we found it, and the eventual outcome of all that waste is as chaotic and unknowable as BAU - i hope you enjoy the paradox.

just my opinion, but a full hearing on our energy problem here on TOD would include the same rigorous analysis of the permanent cost to the bio-layer, that we apply to the economics and resources of PO. Not to bleed at the heart too much, but that system is more critical to our existence than even the economy, or the energy supply chain.

Putting household cleaning products down the drain does have a disrupting effect on the rivers the waste goes into. However, oilfield waste products are injected, not into an oil producing formation, but into deep formations which usually contain salt water. There are lots more of those down there than oil fields, and it is pretty easy to determine if they have an impermeable cap rock sealing them from leaking to the surface. Besides that, the waste products of the oil industry are not very toxic compared to those of the nuclear industry, for instance.

The oil industry has been doing this for a long, long time, and the parameters are well understood.

Putting household cleaning products down the drain does have a disrupting effect on the rivers the waste goes into.

My drain leads to a pretty sophisticated water treatment plant. It can certainly handle saline water. I don't know how they deal with heavy metals...

Are you sure that your water treatment plant can handle saline water. It's difficult to take the salt out of water short of using a reverse osmosis process, and if you do that you may as well put the treated water back into the drinking water system because reverse osmosis will take all the bacteria, viruses, and everything else out as well.

Most likely they would just dump the salt water into the river and call it good enough. Hopefully it's not enough salt to kill the fish.

Good question - we're not quite at the point of Las Vegas, which recycles all of it's wastewater.

As best I can tell, we haven't had to deal with it, so there's no active program for that contaminant. A long list of others, including heavy metals as it turns out, but not salinity.

Thanks for explaining. I wasn't aware that storage in underground salt water reservoirs was the standard means of disposing of industry waste-water. Is the same true of tar sands, do you know?

When you say the parameters are well understood, well that's relieving, and it's somewhat reassuring to hear that all that toxic sludge compares favorably to the nuclear industry, if in quality although not in quantity. But I think there's a bit of incrementalism and rationalization going on here concerning impermeable rock layers and terminal underground reservoirs and etc.

Just the amount of confidence in asserting what is known about the safety and permanence of waste and disposal that doesn't match the rigorous analysis and uncertainty involved in extraction. So we know that the toxic mess stays in these salt reservoirs for a 80 years, but what about 5000? History is full of scientifically verified certainties that turn out to be not true, or only temporarily true, especially in applied applications under commercial pressure.

These impermeable caps for example: the term sounds like a specially crafted jargon like: "clean coal", "natural gas", "abundance concept". I don't doubt that rock that's impermeable to water exists, but a whole neat cap of it, with no cracks or irregularities that isn't going to do anything unexpected in the next couple thousand years - yea right - not saying its impossible, just that it's not an absolute. And I understand there's gonna be some resentment towards implying that industry standards for storage and disposal are not as solid as they say, but people have a right to be skeptical. It isn't ignorance to ask and ask again.

When talking about unconventional drilling, ROCK will tell you little is understood about the actual formation down there until the drill is complete, and then you only know because you're invested in how much of the stuff comes out. There's little industry incentive to measure how much sludge is seeping through into various aquifers or migrating laterally or upward because of pressure through cracks in a supposedly impermeable rock cap. I've read of the Marcellus shale that there's no impermeable rock layer over any of it, but no doubt the industry is going to claim that it's safe to pump the sludge down there because they've been doing it for a long, long time in Texas. What about longer time-frames on these storage wells? What about the effect of pushing water into millions of cracks and crevices that formerly held gas or oil? There's some correlation between underground water and earthquakes that's being explored. Geology is still developing the big picture of these kinds of effects and interactions. So while I'm sure there are fairly stable, safe reservoirs for storage, but there are also storage that seems safe but isn't, or that is poorly researched, or is just plain old illegally used as well. It's all well and good to say "when it's done right", but the reality is a lot more complex.

It's the same general idea with spills and accidents and mess-ups, I know the industry track record is good relatively speaking, considering the amount of work that is done, and that the industry resents being villain-ized over the point percent that F up. They say, well goddammit, had they been doing it right, like the rest of us, there's no problem! But they didn't do it right and they don't, and it keeps happening. That percent that F up do actually represent the impact of the industry. Not to mention that the whole industry is largely unaccountable for what's going on in the atmosphere. That cost alone may be intolerable.

Anyway, I hope you can appreciate that skepticism towards assurances has some merit, and that outcome cannot be the measure of accountability when the stakes are what they are.

Wastewater from oil sands plants is typically injected into deep formations. It's standard operating procedure in the oil industry.

You have to realize that there is already a lot of oil down there, so injecting a bit of oily brine into a formation that already contains a large amount of oily brine is not going to make a lot of difference. Companies are just putting it back where they found it.

Toxic is a relative concept. Most of it is no more toxic than the oil in people's engine crankcases, and if you've seen an old car drip oil onto the street next to a stormwater drain, you're seen an environmental hazard of similar seriousness.

This is why Rockman has to treat the rainwater on his oilfield sites as hazardous waste and send it to a water disposal system to be injected into deep formations. Car owners are not subject to the same regulations, but maybe they should be.

It's toxic sludge because that's what you get in the engine crankcase of an old car. In the next rainstorm, that oil is going to be washed down the drain into the nearest river. Storm sewers don't go through a sewage treatment plant

The oil industry has a pretty good idea of what is under the ground. The problem that Rockman has is that almost all of the oil has been produced and he is drilling around in marginal corners of old oil fields looking for oil that has been missed by people who are less canny than him. If you are injecting water for disposal, it's simpler. You just find a nice, tight formation which is completely understood, and inject it. If a little bit of oil seeps back up, which is unlikely, it doesn't really matter because there are thousands of natural oil seeps which are doing the same thing.

A lot of oil formations are not fully sealed and leak oil like sieves, but that is something that nature is fully prepared to deal with. Anywhere you find natural oil seeps, you will also find oil-eating bacteria that will reduce it to dirt.

thanks for the good intel on the subject. interesting and the reason i come here.

Chrome - It's done very easily (though not cheaply) in Texas: the nasties, including salt water, are injected back into the earth thousands of feet down into salt water reservoirs never to return to the surface. Been required by Texas law for decades. All very well documented and certified.

The concerns aren't overblown. But folks don't seem to understand the process. It costs me around $6/bbl to get rid of any fluid via injection well. This is why the companies were willing to pay the municipal treatment facilities to take the nasties. BTW: a plant manager in Texas would go to prison for doing that here. Consider a frac'd well flowing back 100,000 bbls of fluid. That could cost $500,000+ to dispose in an injection well. We'll probably never hear what the Yankee plants were paid but I bet it was a small fraction of the proper disposal cost.

So, yes, it's very easy to justify because it can be done without generating devastating environment damage. I have a difficult time understanding, for all their talk about protecting the environment, how my Yankee cousins allowed this to happen. As I said, both NY and PA had to pass laws making it illegal for the municipalities to dump this crap back into the streams. It's been illegal in Texas and La. for many decades. As I just told someone: in La. any rain water that falls on my drill site (which is typically ringed by a short dike in wetlands area) can't be pumped off the drill pad over the dike. It has to be hauled off to a certified disposal facility...RAIN WATER. About a year ago I paid $80,000 to have rain water hauled off one of my drill sites...RAIN WATER...not frac fluid

And there's the big problem: ignorance. I've seen your posts...you obviously have a good head on your shoulders. But you had no idea of how we properly dispose of frac fluids in Texas. But why would you? With the millions of words put out by the MSM have you ever seen one mention of injection wells safely getting rid of the nasties? For months all the MSM did was inflame the situation with stories of frac jobs reaching the surface and contaminating the fresh water. Did you once see a story explaining that this was physically impossible? Yes...absolutely impossible. Companies struggle to get a fracture to propagate 100' vertically. And often fail. And folks were terrified by the MSM over the prospect of a frac being propagated upwards many thousands of feet.

But as I pointed out way back then: ground water can be contaminated during the frac process. The nasties pumped thousands of feet down can reach the surface if the casing isn't cemented properly. Or if the casing splits up shallow and the nasties pumped straight into a fresh water aquifer. This has happened in Texas and La. But it's a very rare occurrence. Unfortunate for sure but that's the nature of any industrial endeavor...nothing is 100% risk free. But it's also very easy to tell if this happens. And when it happens in Texas the operator gets hit with a big fine and an even bigger environmental cleanup bill. And probably a significant civil judgment paid to the land owner. Thus companies try really hard to not screw up.

And now folks are so afraid of frac'ng I doubt there can be any reasonable discussions between the surface owners and the mineral owners who are equally afraid...afraid of not earning the 100's of $millions in royalty payments. IMHO the damage done by the MSM can't be repaired. This issue will amount to a civil war between folks up there. And war is seldom beneficial. Except for the MSM. I'm sure they are waiting anxiously for the first home to be torched or drive by shooting. From what I'm reading this may not be too far in the future.

And one last rant about my favorite disconnect. I spend 100's of $thousands every year injecting produced salt water. If I spill salt water on the ground I pay dearly for it. But up north millions of pounds of salt are dumped on the roads (and washes off into the fields) every winter. Who's wrong: Texas laws or Yankee highway maintenance crews?

Oh, dear. Millions of pounds of road salt, cough, cough, >:O ?

"...annual salt use [for roads] has fluctuated from 8 million to 12 million tons during the past 20 years, with year-to-year fluctuations depending mainly on winter conditions..." (Link, PDF, emphasis added.) And this is apparently somewhere around two-thirds of salt production.

As the astrophysicists say, "What's an order of magnitude between friends?" Then again, the "b" and the "m" are fairly close together on the keyboard so it can happen to anyone ;)

It might be entertaining to calculate how many barrels of salt water 10 million tons of salt would make, at typical concentration levels you would encounter, and the disposal cost for that number of barrels. Of course, in the real world, that would trade off against the alternative cost of more-or-less shutting down the economy and imprisoning most people in their houses for the duration of winter in the northern half of the country, and against that it'd probably be too utterly trivial to notice. Such is life, always tradeoffs, nothing ever 100% utopian.

Paul - Yep..tradeoffs. The problem comes from who's benefiting and who isn't. In the NE there is a war brewing between land owners with mineral right and landowners who don't own mineral rights. The tradeoff risking potential environmental problems is acceptable for the folks who'll receive 100s of $millions in royalty payments. But not at all acceptable to folks who won't get a penny from the Marcellus production. Even if the risk is only 1 in 10,000 why would a non-revenue receiving land owner want to accept it? For the good of their neighbors or the good of the energy consumers in their state? But what about the farmer's neighbor who thinks there's a 1 in 10,000 chance of the farmer's pesticides hurting his family? Should that farmer be banned from using pesticides? Who should make that decision?

BTW: in Texas any salinity over 25,000 parts per million has to be disposed down certified injection wells. Many oil field produced water are over 200,000 ppm....nearly at saturation. So 10 million tons = 20 billion pounds. Just a WAG but I would say 50# of salt to make a typical bbl of oil field brine. So that's 400 million bbls of brine. Cost about $6/bbl to have someone dispose of it so $2.4 billion. But if you have a lot of salt water to dispose you would drill your own disposal well on your lease. That drops the cost to around $0.30 per bbl so about $120 million. But such disposal wells cost around $800,000. A good one can take 20,000 bbl per day. So it would take about 50 years to get rid of 400 million bbls. Or one year with 50 wells that would cost you $40 million plus $120 million in operational costs.

IOW: big bucks

Do you do any water recycling?

hey, there you are. Was going to continue our conversation, but the thread was getting long.

You said:

"This argument started with my contention that an involuntary return to full reliance on farming as a way of life (as opposed to hobby farming, or temporary sabbaticals on the farm) would be disastrous for most people, condemning them to lives of much harder work, uncertainty and relative poverty. Let's focus there."

Well, I agree with you that a sudden reversion to feudal slavery would be pretty disastrous. But my original point was that to avoid a fully regressive return to a life of authoritarian poverty, it would be desirable to return to an agrarian style of living based on the more educated, egalitarian, and prosperous models of farming from history.

Practically speaking, getting off the couch for 10 hours a week to manage a garden plot or some chickens, goats, sheep, or alpacas, would improve, not diminish the standard of living of your average suburban family. Your status-quo upholding suburbanite already spends a good portion of time maintaining a well-trimmed square of dandelion free lawn - the largest cultivated product in the US and a huge water suck I might add. Instead, he/she should be gardening.

Converting 1 half of the paved area of any suburb into agricultural land would create a small but valuable intellectual and practical buffer against starvation, should any significant shortage occur. It would also improve communities at all income bracket, and provide healthy, communal activities and experiences that are significantly lacking in modern American life.

And a few points to add to the earlier discussion:

True, education in cities had more to do with the manipulation of abstract symbols and figures, and this lent itself to a more thorough self documentation, so naturally the books tell us that education was only availble in the cities. Oral and country culture is full of ridicule for the abstract learning of elite city dwellers, on the other hand. Education in the country had to do with remembering oral things, and counting without paper, as well as how to do things with your hands, and cognitive awareness of time cycles and planetary rhythms, and what to eat and what not to eat, and all other kinds of practical knowledge that is useless in city life, but on which city life depended for its existence. That is until the industrial revolution in farming and energy began to wipe it out. But in spite of automation of so many rural roles, the "uneducated" intellect is a powerful and persuasive idea and force in our culture, and that spirit comes originally from the practical culture outside of the elite, educated urban lifestyle.

Also true, many American Natives are classically thought of as hunter/gatherer, but by classical definitions hunter/gatherers simply moved to where the food was. Our understanding of hunter/gatherer culture has become more interesting. We now recognize that the hunter/gathering cultures in America were conducting huge land management projects that are somewhat comparable to our modern industrial farming in scale, inferior in certain measures like per capita yield, but on another level far superior in maintaining diversity and wealth of resources, in sustainability, and in ability to maintain and support a healthy culture. The reason invading Europeans didn't recognize the sophistication of the Native farming system was that we Europeans had come to define farming in precisely the authoritarian terms that you have suggested to be the definitive quality of all farm experience - basically as production slavery.

According to a more sophisticated understanding of native practice, the American Natives were indeed farmers, and in keeping with my side of this debate, I'd include them in the category of satisfied, well-maintained, prosperous and educated kind, which I populated much of the unofficially documented human past.

It's this kind of 'wild' farming, along with the more domesticated farming (which I also maintain had a fairly rosy history in spite of the poverty and misery of some cases in some ages), that I think would be particularly useful in avoiding the kind of sudden reversion to authoritarian culture that you and I agree would be a disaster for the poor and middle classes.

But how to convince them of it? To some extend lethargy and inactivity are the trophies of our age. A return to agriculture is going to involve some involuntary action. Maybe a gentle shove - a few small food price or supply shocks, but also some good priming, and healthy encouragement might work. Showing it on TV, teaching it in school, etc. Any career or lifestyle which contributes to, or participates in cultivation of domestic or wild agriculture and farming is in my view a desirable outcome at this point. Farmer is a viable model that should be presented to modern human.

And it's already happening to some degree. See the food network getting people into organic and diverse foods. See rooftop gardening and urban farming. Lots of kids I know are doing the backyard gardening thing. Lots are brewing their own beers and wines. The town I live in has a housing district that is half communal farm/garden, half suburban houses. You can pick corn and fruit and find eggs. Good stuff.

We seem to be talking at different points about different things: about full-time agriculture; history; and part-time agriculture.

I agree that part-time vegetable gardening is a great thing: satisfying and healthy. It seems plausible that it would increase world-wide farm production potential, and improve resilience against damage to world-wide food production (e.g., from climate change). In the US it might increase export potential (as well as biofuel production potential).

I see no need to think about coercion. If part-time farming is truly needed on a large scale at point in the future, it can be implemented fairly quickly. In the mean time, we can promote it.

As to history and full time farming...

agrarian style of living based on the more educated, egalitarian, and prosperous models of farming from history.

That doesn't sound realistic. The wealthy in agricultural societies were a very small minority. Spread around the wealth, and the average income goes up only slightly.

The thing about hunter-gatherer/wild farmers: it's not scalable. North America was a big place, supporting a pretty small group of Native Americans - what was the population at it's peak?

glad we have some common ground. Part time agricultural employment "should" be pretty standard for most people, as it was 100 years ago. I believe that voluntary agricultural employment would be healthy for most of society.

"If part-time farming is truly needed on a large scale at point in the future, it can be implemented fairly quickly. In the mean time, we can promote it."

Here's where we may have different points of view. I think we're past that point. I think the culture isn't volunteering because they don't know what's good for them. They need to be coerced, in my opinion. That's OK if you don't agree, it's a good debate to have.

To your point about hunter gatherer/wild farmers being unfeasible, yea, I agree that population would have to take a massive hit for us to live like Native Americans did. What I was saying though is that we can specifically cultivate wild farms in corridors in and around our cities and suburbs and even extend fingers of wild land through farms in corridors. Again, this is already taking place to some degree, but it needs to be a greater effort. We tend to think of national and state parks as islands in the sea of America, but it ought to be somewhat reversed, with our farms and cities existing in a sea of cultivated wild lands and corridors. IMHO as a national project this would align a spectrum of political and social interests, and require a sophisticated combination of new and old tech that would produce all kinds of employment, and most importantly would focus the bulk of our economic energy where it should be - on protecting and developing new aquifers and new sources and channels of fresh water, as well as developing a thick healthy soil layer - basically agriculture. It would also revive the culture somewhat, which in my opinion is shell shocked into passive, overstimulated submission.

The population of Native Americans at its peak is highly debatable. Recent proposals are that it was much larger than previously thought - 18 million or more. European disease did the bulk of the work in clearing the continent. Maybe they would have held it otherwise.

I think the culture isn't volunteering because they don't know what's good for them.

Well, that's the role of promotion and education.

They need to be coerced

For their own good? Why? There are plenty of ways for people to enage with their neighbors, and buy organic food. The unique thing here is, I assume, that you feel that we need to produce more food right now. That's not clear to me. It seems to me that famine is caused by local problems, and producing more food in the US won't help much.

we can specifically cultivate wild farms in corridors in and around our cities and suburbs and even extend fingers of wild land through farms in corridors.

That sounds attractive. I guess I'm not clear on why it's not happening now. Is there a downside?

a sophisticated combination of new and old tech that would produce all kinds of employment

That's sounds negative. Would such wild farming require a great deal more labor than conventional farming?


I guess it comes down to the definition of coercion, whether you think it always results in negative consequences, or whether it can be in the best interest of a party to be convinced through strongly negative experience to do what is in their best interest. Have you read Quitters Inc, the old Stephen King story?

About more food, I'd say you're right, it's not more food that's needed immediately, although the quality and diversity could improve a lot - many varieties of food are being wiped out by big monocrop corporations. It's the intellectual wealth - the collected knowledge that it takes to produce food from the ground that's important. There's quite a bit to know, and it's cumulative, so the more you do it, the better you get. I'd say a good buffer of knowledge about local food production would be invaluable no matter what the immediate future brings.

About cultivating wild lands, it is already happening to some degree, with farmers in some areas given incentive to provide a portion of their land as habitat for endangered animals and such - it's just that the way it's being done is in some ways a bit coercive, top down, gov't regulation style, with tax incentives, but it's not organically motivated. The rationale shouldn't be that we're protecting the spotted ibis, but that we're protecting the human being. Course the endangered species agent has done a lot of good so nothing against that. Anyway, some farmers have really gotten into it, but it doesn't seem sustainable to me as gov't regulation and tax funded incentive.

It needs to be happening on a much more coordinated scale, as a social investment/public works kind of thing. The association of interests is natural, but it needs an incentive beyond just the passive appeal to elite aesthetics like Sierra Club and etc. That's old school divisive politics. It needs to be a kind or renaissance of local interest in foraging, hunting, farming, etc. If urban and suburban culture can be convinced to participate, then it becomes part of the culture, and it'll roll on its own steam. In fact this is how urban culture used to be - people supplemented with gardening, but also hunting and fishing. Course it was in the interests of big production to stamp self sufficiency out however possible, which is why the polluting and poisoning of rivers and streams and soils, and the corruption of urban culture is such an endemic problem - there's profit in it. Reducing access to natural, renewable sources of food and etc is big business - or at least it's allied with it, so there's little incentive to stop it. Against that kind of evil the best weapons are education and media, but as you see, these are also bought and sold by big players. So it's a bit of a war on.

Wild farming would take a lot of labor to get going in areas where the wild land has been wiped out or the land and water have been sufficiently distorted. It would require both less work and more skill to maintain IMO than conventional. A lot of it simply involves having people invested in the land, knowing it, and how to use it and what it needs, etc. I spent a day in the Sierras last week digging up mushrooms - a friend of mine knows a hot spot where the yellow chanterelles come up in droves - huge yellow tusks hiding under the pine needle blanket - way too many to gather. Also many other edibles - a real wonder, it's not common to find an area that prolific. The place is right near to a campground where the ground has been tamped down for camping. No mushrooms there. Suppose someone decided to plow it all under, would they even know the resource they were destroying? They do eco impact studies increasingly, but they aren't terribly comprehensive. On the other hand, if someone knows the land they could simply say: this is where all the mushrooms come from.

In CA the state park budgets are being cut massively, and there's a lot of outcry, but the issue is kind of weird to me. A lot of this money goes to car parks and pavements and campgrounds and water pipelines and other facilities that have more to do with what the administration thinks visitors want in wild parks - probably wireless internet next. There's some sense to it because if people use the parks, they are more likely to protect wild areas in the political season. But it's much less effective than it could be IMO if that money were spent on developing nativist wilderness experience for school kids, or advanced wild survival experiences for adults. The parks are treated like museums or strip malls when they should be more like interactive games. Course a lot of state money goes to rangers who keep an eye on things and can report logging or other destructive and illegal activity and that's good.

I'd say the big job around new technology should surround massive water projects, desalination and etc, as well as management, to shuttle water around and get it going where it is needed, restoring and improving on certain natural systems. Transport should be put underground. And etc. Anyway I'm an idealist and I go on too much :)

What the heck - sounds good to me.

Re coercion: I don't see proper pricing as coercion. I also think pigovian taxes and careful planning and regulation are just dandy.


appreciate the clear and informed illumination. it's true I didn't know about the laws in Texas regarding disposal. I had some idea about the groundwater issue, but it's bring up - people don't know, and the highest form of ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about. Is the highest form of ignorance better than the lowest form of intelligence? That's also worth asking :)

This here:
"I have a difficult time understanding, for all their talk about protecting the environment, how my Yankee cousins allowed this to happen."

Well, one could point to the perfect storm of across-the-board lobbying against regulation by powerful industry players. Same reason there aren't there national regulations in place that are as good as they've got in Texas.

I'm sure, the particularities of geological formation have a good deal to say about environmental impact, and the logistics of proper storage and disposal, and also a state's interests will have their own impact on regulation, ie farmers might simply decide that even a miniscule risk is too great in their sphere. The battle lines are drawn, and IMO there could be an advantage to these sides having it out if its managed properly. When everything is too cozy then there's no balancing interest - in Texas the farmers and landowners won their regulatory rights.

Had the MSM broadcast the dangers to the shrimp fisheries of deepwater drilling in the GOM, maybe that mess could have been prevented as well. To the extent that it enforces good practice a strong opposition might put pressure on the drills to conduct themselves responsibly. Agree with you that if they go to all out war then it's worse for everyone. But IMHO war over resources is a sign of the pressure on for diminishing resources, the yoy increases, as you say. Shortages could be the MSM's fault too, not joking, I could be convinced ;)

Of course a national regulating framework with flexibility for both geological and state conditions would be absolutely sane, and the fed ought to be involved to some degree in these feuds between mineral and land rights in states, because the commercial pressure is from outside the state, or nation even.

And there's also the greater good beyond the local and state to consider. Contamination of local resources effects everyone to some degree, and the cumulative effect of energy production can't be overlooked either. National and international regulation should be standard. But the industry has a money pointed at Uncle's head. I get the CATO institute releases, and have some idea of how ruthlessly these game players are.

The irony is that the big 'cabal' players are making their case against oversight based on the same genuine outrage at inconsistent, contradictory regulation that you are expressing. But unlike you, they are disingenuous - they crossed the line past caring about reality long ago. All they just care about is winning within the narrow parameters that define their profitable existence. They resent being overseen by legislators who have been put in place by an ignorant electorate who themselves have been misinformed and manipulated into senseless putty by the MSM, which is in turn controlled by big 'cabal' players. It's stooge circus, and the biggest stooges have become saboteurs because they're tired of their own game! Meanwhile the stage is crumbling.

But it seems to me that there is a double think going on even in the practical end of the industry - from you (pardon me, done here with respect to your POV):

"For months all the MSM did was inflame the situation with stories of frac jobs reaching the surface and contaminating the fresh water. Did you once see a story explaining that this was physically impossible?"

"But as I pointed out way back then: ground water can be contaminated during the frac process."

OK then, I know your annoyance with the MSM is justified, and I'm doing here what they do, which is to create a poor representation of your good technical POV. I know you're talking about two different things - one being storage, and the other being the frac itself. But it has to be said that technicalities are completely irrelevant when your ground water is polluted. Both points are true - fracs are safe, and they aren't. It's the spectacular exceptions that prove the case in the court of public opinion.

Poeple are willing to believe the MSM against frac, because the stories re-enforce what they already know about the energy industry - it's dirty in practice, clean only in theory and advertisement. All the industry whitewashing today only underscores that point. I remember when British Petrol became Beyond Petroleum, in the National Geographic, like 20 years ago, LOL. IMHO the industry would do better having someone stand up on TV and say what you said to me about frac waste, including the part about how it's mostly safe, except when it's not, and how regulation will help, as long as it's comprehensive and fairly applied across states, industries and practices. But even a measured and practical accounting tells us that more toxic disasters are inevitable.

In many ways the uninformed public have it right. Disasters may be rare, but they're often permanent, and they are definitely cumulative when we're talking about the persistence of toxins and pollutants in our biosphere. It's not a question of who was supposed to regulate or what went wrong, or the proper way to do things, it's about the scale of potential calamity in proportion to the weight of culpability. Your NY or Texas plant manager might go to jail for the rest of his/her life for violating regulation, but we're talking about destroying huge areas of land and water for use, in many cases permanently, or with unknown long term ramifications. It doesn't matter what the punishment is. It's too great a responsibility for any plant manager, or anyone else to have. It's a systemic failure to even allow a potential catastrophe on this scale. The instinct to block it all has a good portion of the right, even if the reality at this point is that we have no choice but to continue.

People see fly ash disasters in coal states, and massive contamination in the GOM, and their rivers aren't safe to use anymore, and their lakes are contaminated and the ocean is full of dead zones. The energy companies certainly don't include events like these in their promises. Even with perfect regulation and no mistakes made, oil, gas and coal get burned by industry and manufacture, which contribute their own set of toxins into the system as well. Year over year the place becomes more hostile to life, while profits get thicker. No matter how properly conducted any component of it is, the total effect of the system is destruction, yoy. Texas for example might have no problems with ground water contamination from fracs, but the state is drying up just like the glaciers and poles are melting off. As you say, "it's all very well regulated and certified in Texas", but IMO this will make a good epitaph on our planetary gravestone.

There is a right and wrong on this issue. The answer is: Yankee road crews are wrong to salt the roads. They're wrong to pave them too. Frac and waste management co's are also wrong. So are the car manufacturers. And the consumers. Rightness and wrongness can be calculates with deadly accuracy once you're willing to consider a potential self inflicted extinction. All these interests are wrong until they conspire towards a sustainable habitation of the planet.

But who is the biggest villain of them all? That remains to be seen although there are some obvious candidates. I suspect it all has to do with some primitive expression of human nature being hard coded into the system we've created, and that it will have to be dismantled and reformed quite soon - both the system and human nature - it's happened before. Just how this goes down is the big question we want to answer in the reality-based community.


For those who want to read the full report the chart is from this report published by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources

Ron P.

Thank you for that link.

So, according to ND Dept. of Mineral Resources, a "typical Bakken well" falls to about 15 percent of initial production after three years. Is there a comparison somewhere to other (non-shale) production declines over time? Curious how they compare. Apologies if this is a naive or already-answered question. Do they post actual production numbers anywhere?

dovey - All questions are good questions. As you see below I didn't realize that chart was for the Bakken. Hopefully one of our Bakken experts can add more. But I would caution when someone says "typical well". Is that the average of all wells including non-commercial efforts? The average of the better wells? "Typical" is pretty much in the eye of the beholder IMHO.

"...a comparison somewhere to other (non-shale) production declines over time". Not really. In a conventional reservoir, like a sandstone, the decline rate depends upon the reservoir volume and position of the well in the reservoir. But most important is the reservoir drive mechanism: pressure depletion or water drive. In a large water drive reservoir a well might produce for years before showing any decline and then suddenly go into rapid decline (the "water hits"). In a pure pressure depletion drive declines begins immediately. But that DR is a function of how much the well is producing and the size of the reservoir. A large reservoir producing slowly may have only a 10% DR. Or a small reservoir with a high rate well may generate a 90% DR. To make it more complicated some reservoir exhibit a combination water drive and pressure depletion.

In general the fractured shale plays fall into the high rate/small reservoir category. The Eagle Ford Shale field covers hundreds of thousand acres. But it's not really a "field" in the classical sense. It's a "trend". Individual wells might only be draining as little as a thousand acres. And the oil/NG isn't actually coming out of the shale rock but is trapped in the fractures (cracks) in the rock. IOW the rock contains only a very small volume of reservoir porosity per unit volume compared to a conventional reservoir. And that volume isn't distributed evenly. An EF well might come in at 900 bopd. But the very next well over might only come in at 120 bopd. All a function of how many fractures each well intersects. That's why the frac job is critical: it reaches out to fractures the well didn't intersect. It also open the fractures wider allowing for higher/longer flow rates. All pure fractures shale reservoirs are going to exhibit relatively high decline rates. I don't believe the Bakken falls into this category.

Wow - thanks for a very thorough response! Thinking on it again, I realize that this "typical well" plot must be a projection - it goes for 35 years, but they don't have 35 years of data for this type of drilling there, do they?

I wonder what the real data says.

dovey - The truth will come out in several years. It takes about 3-4 years to establish the production trend for any fractured shale well. Early on companies offer "curve fitting" as an estimate of ultimate recover. It's very easy to fudge this approach and be overly optimistic. A company used such curve fitting to offer that their new well MIGHT recover 500,000 bo. The well came on at 940 bopd and did produce 180,000 bo the first 12 months. So you might think their press release was all you needed to know. Maybe you would buy some of their stock. But the press release didn't say a word about what the well was currently producing. But I have access to the production data base just a few mouse clicks away. This well that started at 940 bopd was producing 90 bopd 12 months later. And in another 12 months will be down to around 20 or 30 bopd. How much you want to bet it will produce another 320,000 bo?

Production in all these trends will be variable. There can be a cluster of wells that average 500,000 bo URR and a few miles away another cluster averages 200,000. This is where the "cherry picking" comes in. Maybe I'll use the 500,000 bo cluster as my "typical wells" while promoting my company. Typical in the sense that they are typical good wells.

Thanks Ron. Didn't know that was for the Bakken. Thought it was some generic fractured shale model.

30 years, is, of course, just an arbitrary number. It's only useful because that seems to be some sort of limit as far as investment horizon. We aren't capable of really thinking beyond that.

Global equities may have peaked, but bonds are the biggest bubble of them all. Why anybody would want the counterparty risk of bonds in this environment is beyond me. Moreover, the bond markets are manipulated by central banks, who create digital "money" to buy bonds and artificially support demand, keeping rates low.

The whole thing is going to end in a very ugly manner.

"Or is this a passing trend, and will stocks soon begin to rebound to new higher levels, once again exceeding the return on debt (bonds)by large amount and for the long haul ..."

I tend to look at this question from two angles. First, after a lifetime of observation it appears there is no limit to how much complexity and obfuscation can come out of Wall Street. I've dug down to the differential equations in econ textbooks and the bottom wasn't in sight. Even quantum physics isn't that complicated. I have concluded that economics as an attempt to model human behavior with math, is much closer to religion than science. Also as many others have pointed out, a system that embodies exponential growth while ignoring external costs in a limited world is seriously unhinged from physical reality. You can't come to any reliable big picture conclusion from a strictly econ argument. Therefore I fall back to looking at the physical underpinnings. With the help of the data presented by the good folks here at TOD, spotting the end of cheap oil is a chip shot. Now the only real question is when and how fast.

With that in mind, let's look at the fundamentals a bit. The value of an equity is based on your best assessment of it's future prospects. So basically the entire discussion boils down to your vision of the most probable future. If you see this recession as primarily a balance sheet problem, then you would expect the world's economy to pick up again within four or five years when the hangover has worn off. The past would probably be a pretty good guide in this case. However if you see this recession as the leading edge of a fundamental shift in the cost of a major and mostly unsubstitutable commodity, then you should be out of the market by now. After much thought and research I am in this camp. And for the life of me I still don't know what to do next.

PS I agree with Sachs about the long term prospects for bonds too. The underlying assumptions behind most of those bonds are going to get blown out of the water. I think the bond market is so ridiculous right now because the big players don't know where to run either, so they're just parking their money in a perceived safe harbor.

On the Texas drought article, there are, of course, some rather dire local effects as well as the global effects:


"Life in drought: Parched Texas town seeks emergency fix – Remaining water ‘tastes ugly and it stinks’"

Remaining water ‘tastes ugly and it stinks’"..

My brother-out-law sells industrial water filter systems, Japan and China being a large part of his customer base, but business has been slowing. I suggested he market smaller systems (residential/neighborhood sized). He told me he's gotten several orders from Texas due to drought-caused low quality water, one from a cattle feed lot where the water was making cows sick. Even areas getting some rain are having problems with reduced flows and evaporation, concentrating salts and pollutants in the reservoirs.

At the other end of the spectrum, too much rain is causing problems elsewhere:

Weather changes mean more dead zones for Lake Erie: The problem is an increased frequency of severe storms," Reutter said. "We don't have much phosphorous going into the water normally. I would say 90 percent of the phosphorous goes into the water 10 percent of the time."

The large algae blooms began as a problem at the eastern shoreline of the lake but have spread quicker than expected to the areas of the shoreline around Canada and Cleveland.

"Hopefully this year is an anomaly," said Reutter, though he worries it isn't. "Climate change, warming trends call it what you want. Storms are getting worse and more frequent and nutrients are flowing into the water."

...and massive attempts at fresh water utilization have unintended consequences:

Three Gorges Dam risk to environment"There are many new and old hidden ecological and environmental dangers concerning the Three Gorges Dam," the Xinhua report quoted officials as saying. "If preventive measures are not taken the project could lead to a catastrophe."

Upstream water quality has deteriorated because the flow is now too slow to flush pollution out of the river system.

Li Chunming, the vice-governor of Hubei, reportedly said that tributaries were being affected by more frequent outbreaks of algae.

Reservoirs have the effect of concentating nutrients and pollutants while increasing warming and evaporation.

The problem, of course, is too many people making too many demands on planetary systems and sinks, running smack into climate change. Suggestions that the planet can support 7 billion humans ( or even more) are simply ludicrous. Limits.....

I watched this movie over the weekend :-

"Shall we Gather at the River?"


"A hundred years ago one man wrote a book that changed America. The man was Upton Sinclair. The book was “The Jungle.” It exposed the scandalous rancid health conditions inside the country’s meat processing plants and led to the passage of landmark federal legislation that regulated health and sanitation in meat processing for the first time in our history.

A heart stopping new documentary, “Shall We Gather at the River” has just been released (2008) which exposes a huge health and environmental scandal in our modern industrial system of meat and poultry production. The health and environmental damage documented in today’s factory farms far exceeds the damage that Sinclair could have imagined a century ago. Some scientists have condemned current factory farm practices, calling them “mini Chernobyls.” "

It calls for more regulation - anyone think that has a chance in the current political environment ?

It calls for more regulation

Thus far, every time that I am aware of when there is a food-borne outbreak the present laws/rules IF ENFORCED/USED would have prevented the problem.

The US of A has plenty of regulations. Enforcement of these regulations is the issue.

One of the trends in the last 10-15 years, particularly at the state level, has been a successful effort to "starve the beast" on the regulation side. Anti-regulation legislators often don't have the votes -- and often not even the desire, because safety regulations are popular with the general public -- to repeal regulations. But because of the way budgets are put together, it is often easy to underfund the activity.

Recent example was the listeria outbreak traced to a single Colorado cantaloupe grower. Because funding didn't allow as many government inspectors as needed, legislation was passed at some point to allow growers to hire private inspectors. The farm that was the source of bad melons received an "all is good" report from such an inspector this year. When the FDA got there in the course of the investigation, there were a substantial number of violations.

So what then is the responsibility of the private inspector? In saying all is good, does hew then take on any liability and relive the farmer of it? If he has no liability then what is the point? Professional engineers deal with this all the time - when they sign off on something, they are taking on some level of responsibility - these private inspectors should do the same.

This doesn't get the grower off the hook, of course, but if someone has cleared his product to sell, then you can;t blame him for selling it.

I haven't taken the time to go read the actual statutes, but I believe that this is much like the credit rating agencies: the inspector is providing an opinion, is absolved of liability, and is paid by (in the Colorado case) the grower to offer that opinion. The problems with such an arrangement are obvious.

This is an example of the kind of problem that led me to give up on libertarianism. Yes, ultimately the grower will be driven from the market when the courts get through with him. But that doesn't give the people who died their lives back. There are cases where some coercion avoids harms that can't be undone at reasonable costs to society.

The part that doesn't match though, is that the rating agency is indeed giving an opinion. The "inspector" is supposed to be determining if this meets government standards - a pass or fail.

There are indeed many problems with such an arrangement.

I think a large problem with the US is that many laws/standards are poorly enforced or not at all. Recalling the line from A Few Good Men, who determines which are the "really important" ones, and which are not?

The more regulations that are put onto the production and sale of fresh food, the more the processed foods proliferate, with the attendant health problems.

There is no easy (read cheap) way out.

I think a large problem with the US is that many laws/standards are poorly enforced or not at all.

The laws are also SELECTIVELY enforced. Rich enough/"important" person in the community and you get to skate. (My Uncle and Town Manager drunk driving. Manager was told 'you are too drunk to drive' so my drunk Uncle switched places with him in the car - story per sober Uncle)

There is no easy (read cheap) way out.

The "cheap" way is what's been done. Non enforcement of the laws on the books.

the inspector is providing an opinion, is absolved of liability, and is paid by (in the Colorado case) the grower to offer that opinion

I'm guessing the liability free pass is part of the law. If so, it is a crap law.

(ponders if anyone has done a list of the "free market" failures like that one?)

In the afterword, Bell treats the book almost as prophecy, drawing parallels between events in the book and subsequent real world developments: "

I always cringe a bit when folks call this stuff "prophetic". None of these consequences are/were hard to predict if one gets one's head out of one's .....well. It goes, once again, to human expectations and denial.

Being able to think through to second and third order consequences is enough, it seems, to make one a "prophet".

If you are going to reference prophetic John Brunner fiction, can I suggest:

Stand on Zanzibar

7 Billion population in 2010, written in 1968. OK its not that difficult to do the maths, but he was pretty farsighted all the same.

Mind, I still have a soft spot for "The Shockwave Rider" and the creation of the computer term "worm".

The consequences of the Three Gorges dammay be massive an unintended, but NOT UNPREDICTED.

They could have asked me. Or the enviornmentalists. Or the hydrologists. Or the millions of egyptians living downstream the dam in the Nile. "We are going to build a massive dam in a big river. Will this mess up the river totally?".

And we would have said "yes".

I will go as far as to say those consequences were intended. They were warned, so they knew. If you do something knowing the consequences, you are doing it intentional in my book. They just thought those effects was a price they were willing to pay for the electricity.

Again it occurs to me that there are colliding trendlines here.

The PTB initiate larger and larger energy-generation projects according to their practise of "predict and provide" -- to provide for an ever-growing population and an ever-expanding economy, the priests of the Infinite Hamster Cult build bigger and bigger dams, more coal plants, more nuke plants, etc. Burn, baby, burn!

But each of these projects is another bite taken out of the biosphere that supports animal and plant life (that includes us). Each project acidifies the oceans and/or pollutes a river and/or diverts water from agricultural lands and/or poisons the soil and/or floods places where people once lived and/or exterminates fish populations etc etc. So they are nibbling away steadily at the fundamental pillars of support for that same population that allegedly "needs" all this extra energy.

What I'm saying is, while predicting and providing for an ever-growing consumer population they are engineering most of the precursor conditions for famine, disease, reduced lifespans and population crash... It's kinda like you're raising a cow, eh, and you figure the cow will grow forever so you need a bigger barn; so you lease your land to the ff mafia to strip for tar sand, to raise the cash to build the barn you're going to need 'cos your cow is growing so fast; but now the cow has no clean drinking water and no pasturage, so how big is it ever going to get?

Don't you end up eventually with a dead cow and a useless barn?

"Don't you end up eventually with a dead cow and a useless barn?"


...so you lease your land to the ff mafia to strip for tar sand, to raise the cash to build the barn you're going to need 'cos your cow is growing so fast; but now the cow has no clean drinking water and no pasturage, so how big is it ever going to get?

That's probably a bad analogy. The oil sands mines start out with oil-saturated boreal forest full of peat bogs suitable mainly for growing mosquitoes, and at the end of the process reclaim it to grazing land suitable for raising cattle.

The Alberta government requires companies to reclaim land to "as good as or better than" original condition, and it considers turning forests and swamps into agricultural land a good thing. OTOH Greenpeace wants the original peat bogs restored, which is a lot harder to do, and it brings back the whole mosquito and black fly issue to deal with again.

Sure. Just how much has actually been reclaimed, and certified as such, relative to how much has yet to be reclaimed.


They have just started to reclaim land. Very little of the land has been reclaimed yet because the mines are nowhere near the end of their operations. In reality, oil sands development is still in its initial stages and the mines will continue to operate hundreds of years into the future.

This is a link to the Alberta Environment Department page on oil sands reclaimation:

Oil Sands Mining Development and Reclamation

Also see the Alberta government site:

Alberta's Oil Sands Reclaimation

Our Challenge
Mining disturbance in Alberta's oil sands region has significant land impacts. Industry is legally obligated to reclaim all disturbed land to a productive state; however, mines are often in operation for decades and reclamation activities on these sites can subsequently take decades to complete.

Our Actions
As the oil sands industry has matured, reclamation efforts are accelerating. About 67 square kilometres are under active reclamation, and significant investment by industry and government continues into better reclamation technology and techniques.

We did the whole marshlands to agri land conversation thing in Sweden one century ago. Now we learnt that those marshlands was a heaven forbio diversity and it was a big mistake to destroy them. Tax money is funded into wetland restoration programs. Yesterdays progress is tomorrows disaster.

Yes it is true wetlands don't produce anything you can make money out of. But do not forget that nature take care of you, if you take care of natyre.

Europe converted most of its forests and marshland to farmland centuries ago. Canada has not needed to do so - it has about the same area as all of Europe but less than 5% as many people - so it still has a a very large area of forest and marshland.

The Canadian oil sands are about about 140,000 km2 in size, or about 1/3 the area of Sweden. However, the mineable area is only about 4800 km2. The remainder of it will not be mined but developed using in-situ techniques, which involve drilling oil wells rather than mining.

The Canadian boreal forests are approximately 6 million km2 in area - over 12 times the size of Sweden and more than 1000 times the size of the mineable oil sands, so the oil sands mines, although they are some of the largest mines in the world, will be insignificant compared to the total area of Canadian forests. They're just a small scratch on the vast Canadian wilderness.

The impact of the mines extends well beyond the immediate open pits. Roads, pipelines, power lines and related infrastructure fundamentally alter the character of the land, fragmenting and disrupting ecosystems. You're left with trees, not forests or wilderness. Talking about square kilometers as though that's the end of it just seems a little narrow.

And for anyone thinking that in situ development is not ecologically devastating, have a look at Death by a Thousand Cuts. (CPAWS/Pembina)


"if in situ recovery of all of Alberta’s underground reserves is allowed to proceed, the area impacted will be vast – approximately 13.8 million hectares (ha), or 50 times the area of the mining zone. This equals
21% of Alberta, or a land area the size of Florida"

And to put this in a larger context, it's not as though the only "scratches" are in Alberta. The boreal forest is under threat in countless other ways in countless other places.

The CPAWS/Pembina paper talks about the oil sands regions as if they were some kind of trackless wilderness. In fact, they are heavily tracked up. It's mostly commercial forest, and the Alberta government has every intention of leasing the forests out to lumber companies and cutting all the trees about twice per century. In addition to that, they have vast resources of natural gas, coal, salt, fertile soil, hydroelectric sites and other assets that people are not going to just leave alone.

There are huge parks and wilderness areas in Alberta (Wood Buffalo National Park, north of the Athabasca oil sands, is bigger than Switzerland), but this is not one of them.

The Peace River oil sands are in a major northern agricultural area that has about as much agricultural land as all of Ontario, and the Cold Lake oil sands are near the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range:

Cold Lake Air Weapons Range

The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) covers more than 1 million hectares (11,600 square km), and is the only tactical bombing range in Canada. Vast, unrestricted airspace with no civilian air traffic and more than 640 targets make it an attractive training area for allied air forces.

I don't think that this is what Greenpeace envisioned as a wilderness.


Your post was basically a recapitulation of western history. If you can't make money out of it...

In our economy, things that are priceless are "evaluated" as worthless.

It is such a stunted and broken system.

Oh well.

Well you never know if those peat bogs play some important role in the ecosystem. To think that replacing them with some mono-culture forest is a good thing is a bad idea. We should desist from fancy geo-engineering ideas as much as possible, it's a chaotic system, you never know which variable you are altering.

You can't replace a peat bog. But you can replace a wet land. Wet lands are net CO2 sinkssince they start accumulating peat. And all the good stuff it does for bio diversity is priceless.

The destruction of the peat bogs them selves are a net CO2 source so it will take a while to retake the CO2 lost to the atmosphere, but if they at least rebuild the wet land, some of the damage is repaired.

As a long time northern bush pilot, I can tell you that the loss of the peat bogs in the oil sands area is a fraction of what is out there. I have literally flown hour after hour over northern wet lands and bogs, with nary a soul in sight. imho, some reclaimed pasture would be a welcome change. With luck, there could even be a break in the mosquitoes and black flies....which are so bad that you would slit your wrists to ease their torment. Man does make an impact, but all impact is not bad by definition. Certainly, with the charcoal production/forest decimation of Europe in times past, as opposed to modern logging and oil extraction, we aren't even in the same ballpark.


Drying intensifying wildfires, carbon release ninefold, study finds

Drying of northern wetlands has led to much more severe peatland wildfires and nine times as much carbon released into the atmosphere, according to new research led by a University of Guelph professor.

The study, published today in Nature Communications, is the first to investigate the effect of drainage on carbon accumulation in northern peatlands and the vulnerability of that carbon to burning.

"Russia, Indonesia and Canada all have abundant peatlands, but they also have been hotspots for intense peat fires in the past decade

Recently, destructive peat fires plagued the Moscow region. In the late 1990s, severe Indonesian fires in drained peatlands released carbon equivalent to 40 per cent of annual global fossil fuel emissions.

Fire is a normal feature of the boreal forests. Under natural conditions, the forests in Alberta burn down about once or twice per century, and have done so for thousands of years. Most of the forests in the Athabasca oil sands area last burned down in massive forest fires during the 1960s.

I envy you who have large swats of unaltered lands. I am a forest guy and have lived my entire life in forest territory, and never set my foot in an unaltered forest.

Officials: Persistent drought could lead to downward spiral, hope remains for winter moisture

While no one can say whether another Dust Bowl will occur or whether New Mexico will one day look like a scene out of "The Book of Eli" where water is scarce and expensive, the current drought has many people on edge.

"We're starting in a much worse condition than we did last year," said State Engineer John D'Antonio, New Mexico's top water manager. "That really is what concerns me. If you get that downward spiral going, then it's harder and harder to overcome that." "You have a lot of things sort of aligned in a negative way that make it really a concern,"...


Texas losing trees to long drought

State foresters are watching insects ravage acres of drought-weakened trees, while city officials are facing millions of dollars in costs to haul away fallen limbs and debris from parks.

"This is just so unprecedented," said Jim Houser, the Texas Forest Service's forest health coordinator for central and West Texas. "We're seeing so many trees die that it's going to affect the forest in a major way."

Forest officials said that some areas might not return to normal for more than a decade.

BTW, trees are a drought alleviator.

Trees inhale and respire moisture and create a more humid microclimate in their immediate area.

The loss of trees in severe drought is a positive feedback disaster.

Replanting should be a high -- very high -- priority for TX.

Trees are for cuttin' down and other manly pursuits.

We don't need your tree-huggin' pinko commie libural sciencey type talk down here.

Besides, trees are expensive and - oh the humanity - might add to "the deficit"...

Better to organize a state sponsored prayer vigil and leave your replantin' programs in DC where they belong.

Catskill -

There's only one Texan that's man enough to handle all that tree and brush clearin'

Thanks, Seraph. Another choke-on-the-tea moment. You do have a great talent for finding the "oh, so appropriate" funnies.

Edit: ... and great articles/references


Thank You :-)

Aaaah yes - miss the good ole days with the Shrub... Life seemed so much simpler back then...

As they used to say, that boy was "all hat and no cattle"...

Trees are for cuttin' down and other manly pursuits.

Monty Python- Lumberjack Song

That is hilarious - thanks for posting that FM !

OK I will edit my post: Trees are for cuttin' down and other fashionable pursuits.

Thanks for reminding me how much I love Python - haven't watched much of their stuff in far too long...

A local pecan grower in our Central Texas community with a pecan orchard of 70,000 trees lost 12,000 trees and 36,000 of the remaining trees had significant damage from the drought. It will take years to come back from such a loss.John

Concerning the two articles about Libya up top:

The estimates of total output of 531,000 bpd and expected exports of 350,000 bpd per those articles agree to tanker shipping plans and schedules for November. Libya is probably exporting about 250000 bpd as November starts but will ramp up to about 450000 bpd by month's end - for an average of 350000 bpd.

That would still be less than one-third of peak exports early on in 2011, about 1.35 mbpd.

Curiously while the IEA article states that "Gulf Arab oil producers raised oil supply this year to compensate for the loss of output from Libya, where civil war shut down production" - OPEC as a group failed to increase exports to 'compensate' for Libya. In other words, the gain in OPEC output was not exported and used internally within OPEC. It is believed that mostly the increased internal use was due to seasonal summer demands - such as for air conditioning and water processing.

In fact, per the latest report from tanker tracker 'Oil Movements', OPEC as a group has actually reduced exports by roughly the same amount that Libya has recently increased theirs.

And I bet those over pumped Saudi wells are collectively breathing a huge metaphorical sigh of relief.

Well, the little snow storm blew through my area (Boston burbs) over the weekend. 24 hours without power or heat. My kids thought it was fun, sleeping on the floor in front of the wood burning stove and using an oil lamp. The power is back on now, and life goes on like normal. The store still has fresh fruit from some other continent and the school is worm again without too much concern. I wonder how they will like it when they are my age, and we are seven steps down the other side of this plateau? I guess the world oil market will still be "well supplied" at some level of output and price. Good luck to them, they will need it.

"Good luck to them, they will need it."

They'll need more than luck. Best to begin teaching them the skills they'll need to make it in an energy/resource/income constrained world. Instructing and enculturating them in an unsustainable lifestyle now will certainly mean a steeper learning curve and reduced adaptability later. Just a suggestion....

that's a good idea but a bit risky. if one of them tells a teacher or a parent of a friend on what your teaching them, depending on what it is, you may get a nice but not so friendly visit from child protective services. remember we are still inside and under the rules of the 'current' system, what you see as preparing the kids for the days where they have to learn to stay warm without electricity and healthy(or as much as you can be) with out running water etc. can and will be seen by those who are not looking that far ahead as purposeful child abuse.
it's a very thin edge you have to walk since learning and teaching the skills to survive in a world where society is far less complex and ordered can and in any other circumstance. is looked upon by those who do not see the current system as coming to a end as weird behavior at best and child abuse at worst.

I was thinking along the lines of getting them envolved in Boy/Girl Scouts (religio-militarist indoctrination?), or a local transition group (leftist undesirables?), or cycling (putting them in extreme harm's way?), or growing a kitchen garden (pissing off the neighbors, legal action from the homeowner's association?) and canning food (putting them at risk of botulism?).

Perhaps teaching them networking and communication without texting (depriving them of critical skills?), making them walk to functions (risk of muggings?), camping, hiking, fishing, hunting (hypothermia, lions, tigers, bears, OH MY!). Even teaching them critical thinking skills can lead to subversive behavior, questioning authority, even terrorist tendencies...

Thoughtless of me :-/


I was thinking along the lines of getting them envolved in Boy/Girl Scouts

ah, if you do that make sure the group is one of the ones that do proper camping and not the trailer camper type. what i thought of when you wanted to teach them how to survive when what you went through is the normal, was that you would be taking them out yourself for camping in the winter in bad weather with barely whats needed. or purposefully turning off the heat in the house or something like that. remember in a lot of cities and towns the codes for a 'safe' environment for a child include running water facilities(flushing toilets), working or turned on furnace in the winter, etc.

and i know your trying to over exaggerate it but do be careful which boy/girl scout troop you take them too. some are more aligned with the christian church then others. also i was trying to point out that there are some parents and teachers that over react too.

or a local transition group (leftist undesirables?)

funny but might actually be a serious concern later if what is being done with the ows movement spreads to other groups they deem subversive. remember we are in a transition time when a old system is dying and new ones are starting. the old system will attempt to kill the newer ones to stay in power.

or cycling (putting them in extreme harm's way?)

only if you don't force them to wear a helmet :P in all seriousness get them to ride as much as possible. give them bikes when they want them for gift's.

or growing a kitchen garden (pissing off the neighbors, legal action from the homeowner's association?)

I know your trying to be funny but this is actually a serious concern. people have been brought to court over garden's being deemed 'too large'(basically just barely big enough to cover a large percentage of your food bills if your a veggie eater) by the city due to zoning laws. if your neighborhood has a home owners association it might even result in you loosing your house.(breaking contract or agreement.)

Perhaps teaching them networking and communication without texting (depriving them of critical skills?), making them walk to functions (risk of muggings?), camping, hiking, fishing, hunting (hypothermia, lions, tigers, bears, OH MY!). Even teaching them critical thinking skills can lead to subversive behavior, questioning authority, even terrorist tendencies...

now your being just plain silly and dismissive. while I would be the first to force kids to talk rather then text(annoys me to no ends seeing two teenagers texting each other when they are sitting at the same table). depending on the weather or area yes you 'may' be viewed by other people in your neighborhood as irresponsible and considering it only takes one or two calls to get investigated by child protective services, i am only warning you of the risks. remember your talking about the age where teachers are sued three ways to Sunday if they even hold a kid's hand.

again camping and hunting and fishing are fine, just be careful when you do it if you go as far as the survivalist kind(taking minimal shelter and tools forcing you and them to use the camping area to provide the rest) you might get a few questions. when i was in boy scouts the higher ranks that did this had to sign waivers and the like saying the troop is not responsible for any harm that may come to them and they did not let the younger kids participate either it was always the older teens. if you do this with young kids 'expect' to see some of their friend's parents or school teachers talking to you..

as for critical thinking, yes do so. BUT you would be a fool to dismiss that counting current trends in the united states, we will either relativity soon, as in the next decade at the least couple of decades most likely but still well within their lifetime. have a authoritarian regime, either in the far right libertarian corporate run and controlled system or some religious theocracy and the like. this may put them in trouble with those regimes as they will be in the groups questioning and fighting. it is the right thing to do in my mind though you as a parent must realize that the road you put them on will not be a safe one in the long run. your choice really since you shape their future in a equal amount to their own influence.

but by no means ignore the fact that what you do has risks, you don't live alone. you live in a community and that community does and will for some time view the views here as extremist and wrong. as long as you hold the views of this site as more accurate facts then the views of the outside world you will always be living a double life until the facts here become common knowledge. until then you 'will' have to try your best to comply with the out side world's rules and regulations no matter how badly you want to turn your whole yard into a mini farm to supply your food needs and put up windmill's or solar panels..

Would someone be kind enough to explain 'Home Owners Associations' to me. It seems to be a big thing in the USA but coming from the UK I am used to buying a house then I can do what I want and the neighbours aren't able to interfere, at least if I stay within the law.


Homeowner association

A homeowner association is a corporation formed by a real estate developer for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling of homes and lots in a residential subdivision. It grants the developer privileged voting rights in governing the association, while allowing the developer to exit financial and legal responsibility of the organization, typically by transferring ownership of the association to the homeowners after selling off a predetermined number of lots. It allows a civil municipality to increase its tax base, but without requiring it to provide equal services to all of its citizens. Membership in the homeowners association by a residential buyer is typically a condition of purchase; a buyer isn't given an option to reject it. Some homeowner associations hire and retain property management companies. The board of directors is responsible for the retention of these companies.

They even tell you what colors you can paint your house and what kind of curtains you can have, trying to maintain the value of the homes in the neighborhood. They have a set of covenants you must abide by, such as not being able to sublet your property, what kind of grass and plants you must have, etc. Little boxes...

However, one of the few things that the HOA can't do is tell you whether or not, or where, you can put one of the little satellite TV dishes. Some years back, in order to encourage the growth of satellite service as an alternative to cable, the FCC issued an order overriding any such state, local, or HOA laws and rules.

Here is an article about HOA's and solar power, might be useful:

The third tip is that, if you are not sure whether or not you can install solar panels in your neighborhood, either ask the Board of Directors, or hire an attorney! You will need to get the best advice possible before you spend the money and time for a solar array. Most people will say that even if your lawyer says you can put up solar panels, you should still check with the regulating body in your association. Many times, the Board of Directors is merely reactionary to complaining voices. They may not be adverse to solar panels, but some loud-mouthed neighbors could be!

As with landlords, you will likely be able to negotiate with the Board of Directors to allow solar panels in your area, particularly if they are not specifically disallowed. If the governing body of your HOA appears to be resistant, be prepared with positive facts about solar energy and the overall savings and environmental impact of switching to renewable resources. You should also consider getting support from like-minded residents in the subdivision. They can back you up when you make a presentation to the governing body.


Some states and counties have laws, preventing HOA's from prohibitting solar panels. I believe Califonia is one of them.

There are laws, and then there is reality. Whether it be solar panels, antennas or clotheslines, HOA's can make your life miserable even if the law is on your side.

And the best part of all... The homeowner gets to pay a monthly/yearly fee.

In the Atlanta area, Home Owners Associations are pretty much standard in the "nicer" neighborhoods. We have lived in four different neighborhoods; three had homeowners associations. The neighborhood where I live now is older, and does not have a homeowners association. (It has a lot of rented houses and university students.)

Homeowners associations are associated with groups of houses in a "subdivision". The "subdivisions" are built with long snake-like streets with few outlets to major streets. This makes public transport difficult, because a person often needs to walk over a mile to get to the outlet, when busses presumably would run, if they did. The layout of the subdivisions means that there are no small stores nearby--only houses that look pretty much the same, and sell in the same price range.

The monthly HOA fees collected pay for swimming pools, playgrounds, clubhouses, tennis courts, and planned community events, among other things. By organizing this way, the community can make sure that no "poor" people use their facilities. I believe that one of the reasons for setting up neighborhoods in this way was to allow residents to keep their distance from minorities--especially poor minorities. Now, of course, there are minorities living in some of the communities with homeowners associations, but the narrow price range means that they are well-to-do minorities.

My children complained when they went to school that kids would say things like, "Ha, Ha, I live in such-and-such sub-division. You only live in ___________." I have not been very happy about the subdivision--homeowners association arrangement, but almost any place that is fairly new has this arrangement.

The "subdivisions" are built with long snake-like streets with few outlets to major streets. This makes public transport difficult, because a person often needs to walk over a mile to get to the outlet, when busses presumably would run, if they did.

Another bad consequence of this type of snake-like streets, that typically have lot's of cul-de-sacs, is that all auto traffic is routed onto a few main roads. This is also by design since people prefer living on streets with little traffic. This leads to major traffic-jams on a daily basis and many wrecks.

Charlotte, North Carolina is built like this also. At intersections where there were frequent collisions, the response has been to put up signs stating "High Crash Zone" or some such thing. Most of Eugene, Oregon, near where I live now, is laid out in a grid with many alternating one-way streets and synchronized traffic lights. I don't ever recall being in a traffic jam in Eugene since the grid allows traffic to disperse through many streets to get where it is going.

Another HOA related issue is drying laundry outside on clotheslines. Most HOAs forbid this, but there is a 'right to dry' movement that has had some success in persuading State governments to pass laws overriding the HOAs and allow drying laundry on an outdoor clothesline. I can see that a similar thing could come about with vegetable gardens.

I was a City Engineer for 20 years in the mid-South, and home owner associations have both positives and negatives. One big advantage is the concept of a "common area." Without a HOA, the only common area is the street right of way. That leaves little or no open space, no place to give your dog some exercise, or even a walk path that is not beside traffic. With more local zoning requiring a percentage of green space, storm water management, and other common facilities and areas, HOA was the best solution from a local government perspective. If homeowners wanted street lights or other amenities, the association could arrange to pay for them. Same with a pool, playground, etc. Storm water basins got mowed, as did the open spaces. HOA's also handle landscaping contracts, holiday decorations, and many other functions. It really is a kind of micro-government, with the annual maintenance fee being the "tax."

Of course, you always had someone who wanted to be "mayor" of the area, a group who wanted stop signs or children at play signs or other ineffective controls installed. However, that happens with or without a neighborhood association. The nightmare associations seem to be in the Sunbelt retirement communities, not in the more typical neighborhoods. Neo-traditional or new urbanism communities seem to have the same common area needs as the cul-de-sac style neighborhoods, so the layout of the streets aren't really a reason for the associations.

I really don't think the idea of a community keeping out "poor" people by means of a homeowner association makes much sense. The local property taxes, local income taxes, etc., of the residents of an HOA neighborhood are the same with or without the association, so local governments do not lose any revenue as a result. We are a few decades past the time of housing discrimination based on race. After the last few years of the housing boom and the no-document/no down payment loans, we have even eliminated discrimination based on income! The swimming pool in my subdivision here in the "buckle" of the Bible Belt has a good cross section of all of God's children, and they are all playing together.

Thanks everyone. So how close would I be if I said that this was a private housing estate, like the walled estates you see in Latin America, here in Mexico and other parts of the world though not necessarily with the walls and security kiosks?


I don't think "private" housing estate or "walled estate" is anything like a homeowners' association. Understand, there are "gated" communities in the United States, as there are in other countries, where the streets themselves are private, but that has nothing to do with a homeowners' association.

In most states, subdivision of property occurs at the local level. A land owner records a subdivision plat at the local courthouse of the county in which she or he lives. The local government often has a strict set of rules governing that subdividing, from utility easements and access to lot size and land use. In some cases the owner can develop the infrastructure (streets, storm water basins, utilities, etc.) prior to recording the subdivision; other times, the plat is recorded and a bond for construction is posted. Either way, every ton of asphalt, foot of pipe, grade and drain are inspected by local authorities.

The review of the plat will rise a number of questions: who maintains "green" or open space, do all utilities have maintenance easements, are sidewalks and/or walking trails provided? If an easement or open space is not owned by someone (now and in the future), the local government will want to know how it will be maintained. The most common answer is the collection of future lot and home owners, bound together by an association. No one buys a lot initially or 20 years into the future without reading and signing the homeowners' agreement. The annual fee is set per lot and increased as needed by majority vote, just like any small democracy.

The streets are public and maintained by the local government. Anyone with a license to drive has the same right to drive a vehicle down those streets as someone who lives in the subdivision. There is nothing about private or walled estates. You could not drive through an American subdivision and know if there is a home owners' association or not, although a community pool might give it away. Remember that American apartment communities also have community pools, with the lease being the "agreement," and the apartment communities and condo communities look identical. The condos are privately owned housing units with the outside of the building and all of the yard being common area. The charge of "keeping out the poor" can be made for a condo or apartment unit just like it can a subdivision of detached single family houses.

Homeowner associations are really a good first start toward transition communities, as they drive democracy down almost to the block level. The bad ones get the publicity, but those are the exceptions. Honestly, I'm a bit bewildered as to why there would be an apparent negative attitude toward them here on TOD, but I've learned I'm a "minority" here.

Ah, that makes it a lot clearer. It just seems strange, in these discussions, that the HOA has so much power over you as I have never known anything like that in the UK. You buys your house and it iz yer house. Here in this part of Mexico it is pretty much the same unless you are in a private development or walled community. If I want to fill the garden with maize or goats, no problem (certain other crops may attract unwanted attention).


Even the million dollar homes in this area aren't on private roads. I can go drive through all the fancy subdivisions in this area. There is one home that is valued 5 million+ (the same guy has a jet that is worth 2x his home), that has a huge gate off the main road and the house is hidden back so you can't see it. Not sure if the whole property is fenced.

Where I live people park in their yards and keep campers in their driveways. Just the way I like it :) I'd be imprisoned with all the junk I have sitting around here, if we had a HOA.

I think the reason there is an apparent/general negative attitude towards the HOA's is that many of them try to micromanage the homes, not just the common property. When the HOA does a good job on the communal stuff, that's great - when they are telling you what colours you can and can;t use, what type/style of siding, what not to grow in front yard, etc, it gets a bit much. Some of the people who get onto boards of these associations (just like on condo boards) get a bit carried away. I think it works best where the HOA's jurisdiction is limited to the common property, and the people can do what they want on their own lots - in Canada that is often the case with a "bare land strata" type of subdivision.

I agree that a well run HOA (or condo board, several on which I have served) is actually an asset - the most local government you can have, but a poorly run one, or one dominated by lop-sided interests, becomes a burden on all.

The mileage indeed may vary...

Let's also not forget that there can be formal but non-legally binding agreements. For example, I live on a mile long private road. We have a written agreement that spells out how much each of the four families pays for road maintenance (which is based upon how much and how long a portion of the road they use). I'm the "road boss" who decides when and where to put gravel down and when to grade it. However, I never go ahead and spend money without asking the others whether this is a good time financially. If it isn't, my wife and I will pick up the cost and they pay us when they can.

This agreement has worked fine for us for over 30 years. However, we had property in another area with private, gravel roads and many more people that was a true PITA. Every road meeting was a bitch session.


In the old days we had a system with comunity road maintanance. Every road was split up in chunks where the family living closest to it had responsibility of maintainance. And the richer you was, the longer stretch of road was yours. Back in those days, church attendance was mandatory by law. Once every year, the priest was reading a list of names of those who did not make their piece of the upkeep in a sunday sermon. To the public display of the entire village.

So how close would I be if I said that this was a private housing estate, like the walled estates you see in Latin America, here in Mexico and other parts of the world though not necessarily with the walls and security kiosks?

My mom lives in an HOA.

My interpretation of her HOA life is this: If you are the kind of person that does not like neighbors that have garage workshops (running power tools all the time, leaving their garage door open), and want to live where certain rules are 'enforced' on all that live there, then an HOA is for you. They usually have rules on how the place must look, what plants are allowed, how your lawn looks, paint colors, roof type... quite a lot.

Any changes to the appearance to your home or property needs approval of the HOA board, too.

Mind, they usually have fees in addition to any rent or mortgage you would be paying.

If you are the kind of person that wants to convert part of your lawn into a garden, have a garage workshop, work on your own car in the garage and use power tools a lot, then an HOA is probably not a desirable place to live for you.

In the UK a leftist alternative to the scouts is the woodcraft folk. Went camping with them, the toilets were a pot in a tent and a spade to dig a hole, the only fossil fuel was gas canisters for cooking, the first day was building the camp and tents and the last was clearing the site including litter picking (not that much got dropped). The only service on tap was a water standpipe, the other side of the field, but we had solar showers and solar charged battery lighting. Electronics are banned and music is acoustic. Everyone shares cooking rota. Waste was taken home and recycled as far as possible.

Woodcraft skills at a basic level were also taught, as was /gasp/ a bit of the history of socialism.

Leftest alternative to the Scouts? As a Scouter, I wasn't aware I was a member of a right wing organization. Your woodcraft folk camp would be considered luxurious in comparison to some of our Scout camps. If we do a survival theme, the Scouts have to build shelters out of tarps, twine and sticks, and do all their cooking over a fire. At our winter camp we build snow shelters to sleep in. Scouts can be a great place to learn basic outdoor skills, assuming you find a good Scout troop.

I don't know about the UK, but in Canada Scouts are co-ed. At the moment we don't have any girls in our troop, but a few years back we actually had more girls than boys!

I would say yes, the Boy Scouts are a rightwing organization. The Girl Scouts are not, and are in fact demonized by the right. Or some elements thereof, anyway.

The hot button issues are what you would expect: god, gays, and sex.

Great Passage..

Two years later, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts, which faithfully replicated Boy Scout protocols, but for girls instead of boys. Changing the gender of the scouts, however, shifted the cultural meaning of scouting. While scouting for boys was about preserving the tradition of rugged, outdoorsy masculinity, scouting girls looked to the future, shucking off Victorian models of women as delicate flowers and replacing them with physically capable and adventurous women.

.. SMASH CUT back to the Lumberjack song. I can see why Shlafly's crowd would be tweaked. http://www.phyllisschlafly.com/

I've worked with a group called 'Hardy Girls, Healthy Women' .. they don't sell cookies. http://www.hghw.org/ .. here's a radical thought from their webpage, something I'll make sure my daughter is able to say..

"When I see an ad that is selling women instead of the product, I recognize it. When I hear a sexist comment, I recognize it. And when I feel the need to speak my mind, I do, and without feeling out of line."

I do hope the American Heritage Girls are also learning this.

Mazbe a bit different, but I always liked the THW, they also have a youth organisation. I might be biased tho, since Im a member.
A lot of skills get teached there, mostly moving of heavy materials with wood and muscles, ropes and knots, oh, a lot of stuff.


RE: "what i thought of when you wanted to teach them how to survive when what you went through is the normal, was that you would be taking them out yourself for camping in the winter in bad weather with barely whats needed. "

Actually, that's not too far off from my youngest son's experience with the Scouts. His troop earned a couple of "Polar Bear" patches every year, because they had the interesting knack of choosing just about the coldest couple of weekends of the year for their camp-outs.

And since the boys are supposed to pack their own stuff, they did end up fairly minimally supplied until they were able to work out exactly what they needed. When they knew they would have to carry the packs themselves, and they were packing while inside their climate-controlled homes, even the handy lists supplied by the Scoutmasters weren't enough to convince the boys that they really needed all that cold-weather (or rainy-weather, or hot-weather) gear. They knew they would have to carry it!

Turned out to be a great experience for my son, and he's still kind of a minimalist. He checks the weather forecasts now, too, before going out for any extended hiking or canoeing.

That, minus the boy scouts, was how I learnt What To Carry. Reality is a good teacher.

Gosh, TK, my Granddaughter (4) helped me skin a wild boar in the backyard yesterday. It seems we live in different worlds. Start'em out young!

Update: Had wild boar tenderloin simmered in sweet onions and peppers, over yukon gold taters (grown in bags) for dinner, all off of our place; fresh greens on the side. Yum!

no just different area's of the country. by this statement i take it you live somewhere in the countryside where your nearest neighbor is not a simple look out of your window into theirs. where i live if i skinned a animal like that in the sight of the neighbors i would get a visit from the local police. not to mention i might be breaking some obscure law or something.

"camping, hiking, fishing, hunting (hypothermia, lions, tigers, bears, OH MY!)."

Not to mention swimming in a lake (unchlorinated water, no lifeguard on duty) in the mountains (no cell phone coverage! No emergency services!) and teaching the kids to use a compass and map to navigate (In the wilderness with no GPS and no emergency transponder!)

And you forgot that hunting and fishing is teaching the children to abuse animals, beginning the slippery slope to becoming serial killers. Not to mention you are allowing them to eat food not inspected and certified safe by the Federal Government.

your forgetting we live in a world where parents will loose their kids for naming them wrong.
we are not exactly a mainstream view here, to the majority of the public we are just as whacked out as those doomsday cults which occasionally make the news. Your ridicule of a very valid point i made does not dismiss the fact that our preparations can and sometimes 'will' run counter to the laws and regulations where you live.
for example.

I know a couple of professional people who are salt of the earth types, both twenty years vets, one of them a professor of nursing, who have a little boy who likes to talk as much like adults as possible-but what little boy doesn't?

This little fella at various times has been prone to make comments in his every day conservation such as "I heard that!" and "Granly" and "Like wow" and many others-whatever he has heard or seen on tv , mostly, but also what he hears at home.

A couple of years ago, the expression "You're killing me !" was popular in these parts;this expression is properly interpreted as "you are overloading me with work" or "you are not assuming your proper share of the load" when discussing a shared job, or sometimes "Stop it , this is so funny I can't stand it."

His entirely innocous use of this expression, in a innocent context impossible to be misunderstood, except by a teacher and administrator blessed with perhaps enough brain cells between them to make one nearly normal brain,resulted in four seperate meetings on four different days, involving school police , child protective services, school administrators, and the parents necessarily missing time from work.

Theoritically, there is no electronic or paper trail left to dog this kid throughout his life-but who can say for sure?

Need I add that the parents felt the need for a lawyer?

Kafka himself would have had a hard time believing such a state of affairs could come about in public school classrooms in middle class America, but such occurences are quite common, now that we have "zero tolerance" policies.

God help you if you ever happen to stop to pick up your own kid at school and you have anything in the car that might be seen aand counted as a weapon by some busybody in some states-you will get locked up on the spot.It doesn't matter if you borrowed the car from your brother and he left his duly registered firearm in the trunk , or if you are a pillar of the community, or even a teacher at another school;it's off to the pokey with you!

I'm waiting for the "Govt is my Mommy types" to realize that the cafeteria has forks, that the home ec classroom has scissors, and (gasp!) the woodworking shop has HATCHETS. Fortunately, so far they seem to be dimwitted enough not to realize just how dangerous these classrooms are!

Yea a lot of zero tolerance stuff has gone too far, but my $deity that is excessive. Yet this is the kind of thing i was warning him about, only to get laughed at. i was in school when columbine happened, a bit later a little scuffle happened between me and another kid in high school doing a gym hockey game. you can probably guess what happened.

Looks like MSM (ABC News) is reading TOD ...

Energy Debate Heats up Amid 2012 Candidates: Fact Checking GOP Claims

Most Republican candidates support reducing the role of the Environmental Protection Agency, cutting taxes on energy producers, expanding offshore exploration and production, and reducing government regulation of the private sector. GOP candidates argue that the president hasn’t taken the aggressive steps needed to bolster U.S. output, namely, expanding offshore oil exploration and drilling.

But not all GOP claims align with the numbers. ...

Czechs bet on nuclear power for their future

The Czech Republic is poised to build on its position as central Europe's nuclear hub, seeking greater energy security and shrugging off the concerns of environmentalists and other opponents

..."The development of nuclear power is a fundamental priority," says Daniel Benes, chief executive and chairman of the Czech power giant CEZ, two-thirds state-controlled.

"If we lose nuclear power, we will find ourselves at the mercy of Russian gas. There's no other way. Renewable sources won't cover our (energy) needs," he arguess

Belgium plans to phase out nuclear power

Belgium's main political parties have agreed on a plan to shut down the country's two nuclear power stations, but they have not yet set a firm date.

A new coalition government is being set up and the nuclear shutdown will be on its agenda, officials say.

If alternative energy sources are found to fill the gap then the three oldest reactors will be shut down in 2015.

All these sorts of stories point to a market opportunity for portable nukes - that way they can easily be sold by the countries that don't want them, to the ones that do.

Liability insurance not included, of course....

MoD Survey shows Three in Four Nuclear Test veterans Fear Radiation has Affected Their Health

A devastating new report shows that eight in 10 of Britain’s nuclear test ­veterans went on to develop multiple medical conditions.

And three in four of the men who survived atomic blasts in the 1950s fear their health was ­damaged due to being used as ­human guinea pigs for Cold War scientists.

A survey by the Ministry of Defence shows 83 per cent have since developed ­between two and nine ­serious long-term ­illnesses. Some have more than 10.

Studies have shown they have six times the national rate of ­leukaemia and 10 times the rate of birth defects among their children.

It was only after massive pressure from the veterans and this newspaper that the last government finally agreed to fund a £412,000 study into their health. [However] ...The Coalition slashed the spend to £75,000

Report: http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/0634322A-431D-459B-9952-18AC56D276C7/0/20...

The long term consequences of radiation exposure are too often ignored. For disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who may suffer long term effects like this or much worse. The reluctance to systematically study these consequences is a blatant form of denial. Hands are waved dismissively and we are asked coyly "Where are the bodies." Well here they come.

The long term consequences of radiation exposure are too often ignored.

Ignored? Round here on TOD there are active denials by some of the posters.

Beijing air pollution 'hazardous': US embassy

... A "hazardous" rating by the US embassy, whose evaluation of the city's air quality often differs markedly from the official Chinese rating, is the worst on a six-point scale and indicates the whole population is likely to be affected.

The embassy has rated Beijing's air quality as hazardous on several occasions this month. On October 9, the reading was listed as "beyond index", meaning it went above measurable levels.

By contrast, China's environment ministry said Beijing's air was just "slightly polluted" on Sunday

Take a good look, that's what many american cities will look like soon. Doesn't matter which side of the equally bought out coin is in office, the epa and other environmental programs are dead men walking. they will be killed to keep it going just a wee bit longer also because since china more competitive without them we will in their minds have to kill them off to compete.

Race to the bottom?

Mutually Assured Suicide?

A great visual perspective of this is MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES


Internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of “manufactured landscapes”—quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines and dams—Burtynsky creates stunningly beautiful art from civilization’s materials and debris. The film follows him through China, as he shoots the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution. With breathtaking sequences, such as the opening tracking shot through an almost endless factory, the filmmakers also extend the narratives of Burtynsky’s photographs, allowing us to meditate on our impact on the planet and witness both the epicenters of industrial endeavor and the dumping grounds of its waste.

A couple of years ago someone posted a link to a site with photo albums from folks that went into abandoned industrial sites, old sanitoriums, mills, mines, etc., often trespassing to take photos. Several in the EU. I lost the link when my laptop died. Anyone have that link? Thanks!

I was planing such an expedition of my own to an abanodoned large scale brick wall type of factory complex in the city next to the one I lived in at the time. The whole complex was torn down right when I was working out the details. Best oportunity lost ever for that type of hobby.


was this what you remembered?



That's it.. Thanks, H!

ghung;;; Not sure but this may be the one you were thinking about;;;;


If not check the side bar on the right and you might find what you are looking for there;;;;;;;

sadly it's what i view will happen relativity soon. if any of the current gop candidates win it will be possibly done some time 1-2013 when the epa will be disbanded. if obama wins it might happen closer to 2016. mark my words it will be gone before 2020.

We'll burn everything. No doubts about it. Up here in the winter, its stay warm or freeze to death. People will rip the wood flooring out of their homes to keep going. Parks will be empty grass fields.

Before the G20 summit in Cannes: IZA researchers propose concept for a global debt brake

High sovereign debt is not only a problem in Europe, but also for other important world regions. At 233 percent, Japan has the highest debt-to-GDP ratio among industrialized economies. Almost half of the budget is financed by new credits. The United States will likely see a new record level of government debt this budget year. By the end of June 2011, the debt-to-GDP ratio already amounted to 98.6 percent.

US gas exports could converge global prices: IEA deputy chief

UAE oil minister Mohammed Bin Dhaen al-Hamli said during the same panel that LNG export terminals and pipelines linking otherwise isolated markets would put the gas world through "tremendous change in the coming years."

In one emerging sign of the transformation, buyers and sellers are signing more short- and medium-term contracts, he said.

... Michael Levi, director of the Council on Foreign Relations' energy security program, said developers of the export terminals will have a tough time balancing the market dynamics.

Levi said the developers would have to recoup project costs quickly, otherwise they could suffer the same fate as US shale producers waiting out low prices.

Converge US prices up a lot more than world prices down...

which is probably the best possible result.

What the F^&*! ???

Radioactivity over West Pakistan

KARACHI: A rise in general radioactivity of the atmosphere has been noticed in West Pakistan resulting from the Soviet nuclear blasts, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission announced here yesterday. The rise in radioactivity has been detected at Lahore and Quetta on different dates.

The average rise in radioactivity of the atmosphere over West Pakistan to date has been 50 per cent over the normal background activity, the announcement said.

Nuclear Event in Pakistan on Monday, 31 October, 2011 at 04:25 (04:25 AM) UTC.

A rise in general radioactivity of the atmosphere has been noticed in West Pakistan resulting from the Soviet nuclear blasts, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission announced here yesterday. The rise in radioactivity has been detected at Lahore and Quetta on different dates. The average rise in radioactivity of the atmosphere over West Pakistan to date has been 50 per cent over the normal background activity, the announcement said. No rise in radioactivity has, however, been noticed in East Pakistan presumably because of the south-western air currents over the region at this time of the year which have prevented the settling of the radioactive fallout resulting from the Soviet blast in the north, the commission said. It clarified, however, that the 50 per cent average rise in West Pakistan since the commencement of nuclear tests by Russia is far below the level which could be considered dangerous to human health.

[NOTICE! This information not confirmed! Please check other information source! RSOE EDIS]

Have I gone back in time - did the Soviet Union reform and start above ground testing for Halloween? Or is it possibly connected with this recent news?

Leak at Pakistani nuclear plant, no radiation damage reported yet

Oct 20, 2011 – 9:44 AM ET

By Faisal Aziz

KARACHI — A Pakistani nuclear power plant imposed a seven-hour emergency after heavy water leaked from a feeder pipe to the reactor, but no radiation or damage has been reported, an official said on Thursday.

The leakage at the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant, commonly known as KANUPP, started around midnight on Tuesday during a routine maintenance shut down, said Tariq Rashid, a plant spokesman.

Or some random computer glitch turning up reports from decades ago? Or some other real unknown event? The fact that Dawn (major Pakistan Newspaper) is reporting it seems significant .

Things don't seem to add up.

The report seems rather vague (i.e. 'average radioactivity' - alpha, beta, gamma?) and even sub-kiloton blasts leave easy to spot seismic signatures.

150% of background of certain isotpes is within their standard day-to-day error bars.

Nuclear blasts have charateristic isotope signatures. (Xenon 133 if I recall)

Could be some leftover Fukushima on it's 11th round-the-world tour or maybe Iran had an industrial accident (Stuxnet) at one of it's uranium centrifuge cascades.

...or maybe a US drone took out somebody's dirty bomb in the Punjab..

The terms "West" and "East" Pakistan may be significant. Prior to 1971 what we now call Pakistan was "West Pakistan" and Bangladesh was "East Pakistan".

I wonder if some information was released or leaked about real abnormal recent levels so someone dumped a decades old story to the press as a cover story? - "Oh that release - turned out to be a story from 50 years ago. No need to dig deeper."

Remember that thread a couple weeks ago about thinkers and the husband marrying the widows sister. Well it's Monday and I'm a little slow on the uptake today ...

... but does anything appear odd about the sentence ... "A rise in general radioactivity of the atmosphere has been noticed in West Pakistan resulting from the Soviet nuclear blasts..."

Something about the year 1991 ;-)

Godlikepr0duct10ns (obfuscated deliberately) seems to have been running this earlier. Seems like someone is just trying to stir the pot and get more web traffic to boost ad revenue.


It didn't initiate with Godlike Productions though and of course they would pick that story up (as have other similar sites). It's actually in the print edition of Pakistan's main English language Dawn Newspaper as well as on their website at http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/31/radioactivity-over-west-pakistan.html

Dawn also has a 24 hour Pakistan News Channel. It did have a 24 hour English news-channel as well at one point.

The links I found to GLP were several hours older than Dawn. However I'm not sure that it started there but I can imagine them trolling with it. It is also worth noting that Dawn ran some 50 years ago stuff with the Tsar Bomba and there was a Russian nuclear missile test shortly before.


Well what do you know. It now says "50 years ago" at Dawn. So if, as you suggest it started before them at other sites, how does Dawn's "50 years ago" modification fit in? Or was that always supposed to be there, but omitted by mistake, and therefore the source of the "current event" story? Who to believe? Me or your lying eyes :-)

I give up on it all sometimes to be honest :-(

Your comment could be misconstrued but I won't take it that way ;) Dawn's "50 years ago" modification fits in with my comment about their '50 years ago stuff'. Doesn't really change what I said about GLP, they sound just like those sites that were trolling during the BP GOM incident.


The article in that first link is clearly marked "50 YEARS AGO TODAY"

It is now. I can absolutely assure you it didn't say that earlier. In fact I'd just noticed it had changed to say that and was about to post but you beat me to it.

Where it now says "50 YEARS AGO TODAY" in huge graphics it previously said (from memory) "Agencies" in standard size text. I note that it still ends with "-Agencies"

But yes, if they accidentally published a story from 50 years ago without the correct attribution (thus firing up the rumour mill), but later corrected it, then that's certainly "plausible" I suppose...


Btw, I note that I wrote earlier upthread

I wonder if some information was released or leaked about real abnormal recent levels so someone dumped a decades old story to the press as a cover story? - "Oh that release - turned out to be a story from 50 years ago. No need to dig deeper."

Yes, it did change as Undertow has noted.


100 years of Chevy: An improbable journey to American icon

GM soon will replace three families of four-cylinder engines with a cutting-edge line of efficient, small 1- to 1.5-liter powerplants that will include three-cylinder engines. That's bold, too. Three-cylinders haven't been sold in the U.S. since GM's Geo Metro, a joint venture with Suzuki, was discontinued after 1994. This time the threes could power vehicles as big as the Cruze, GM small-car chief Jim Federico says.

Using today's mpg rating formula, the 1994 car would have been rated 43 mpg in town, 52 on the highway, hinting at the possibilities of the new GM engine family, which will benefit from much-advanced technology and design innovations.

I used to have a Chevy Sprint (Geo Metro) and was surprised when they stopped making them in 1994.

Is anyone else looking forward to the new three-cylinder cars?

you bet...

We had a sprint and it was great. I have a friend who buys nothing else...older used sprints or metros. He tries to never spend more that a thousand $ on a car.

Three-cylinders haven't been sold in the U.S. since GM's Geo Metro, a joint venture with Suzuki, was discontinued after 1994.

The Honda Insight, including the current version, has a three-cylinder engine, and is sold in the US. Granted, the Insight has always been built in Japan rather than the US, but that's not what the article claims.

I'll correct myself -- the current version of the Insight has a four-cylinder engine, at least in the US.

IMHO 3 and 4 cylinder cars made in the USA are crap. US producers make good small V-6's that can get pretty good mileage and last a while with proper maintenance. I have a 1996 Pontiac Gran Prix with over 220,000 miles and get 28-29 on the road and no leaks. John

The Sprint engine was made by Suzuki, and it rocked. And got well over 50 mpg highway.

bluestem, I wonder what the average life was of the Chevy Sprint / Geo Metro 3-cyclinder engines.

Even if they don't last quite as long, the fuel savings would seem to me to make up for the shorter life.

Take a guess at the new design (150,000 mile life / estimated 56 miles per gallon) x $4.00 per gallon = $10,700.

Your Gran Prix would use double the amount of gas ($21,400, or $10,700 more).

Best hopes for 3-cylinder engines.

Sadly, my 2006 Honda Accord will be the last remotely manly car I'll ever drive. I'm driving it till the wheels fall off. My next car, hopefully not for a decade, will be a plug-in hybrid flexfuel go-kart death trap. Bummer.

Even if the doors fall off my Focus (they may at the rate we are going), i'll keep driving it. I had a truck in the past that had holes in the floor and I could see the road. I'm never buying another car period. No used, no new. If my wife could walk/bike to work, all would be good. She doesn't seem up to that.

Chevy Volt: instant torque electric motor = great acceleration.

Is anyone else looking forward to the new three-cylinder cars?

I don't have a problem with even two cylinders. Forty years ago when I lived in Denmark I owned a Citroen Dyane which had a two-cylinder, 0.6 liter engine. It outperformed (slightly) the contemporary VW Beetle, and used less fuel. My only problem was that the engine produced so little waste heat the heater stopped working when going downhill.

If the Ford Ecoboost V6 engine available in several current Fords can produce 365 horsepower (which is an insane amount of power for any personal vehicle) from six cylinders and 3.5 liters, I assume a three cylinder 1.75 liter engine could just as easily produce 180 horsepower (which is also a ridiculous amount of power).

If we could make do with the 130-150 horsepower produced by the top-of-the-line V8 engines in 1954, a 1.2-1.4 liter three-cylinder engine should be perfectly adequate.

Three cylinder engines are dynamically out of balance. Without a balancing shaft, they have an annoying end-to-end rocking motion caused by the fact that two pistons are always moving up while one is moving down, or vice versa. You can mitigate the problem by adding a balancing shaft, but it is probably just as cheap or cheaper to add a fourth cylinder.

Four cylinder engines are the simplest engines which are in primary dynamic balance, which accounts for their popularity in economy cars. They do suffer from secondary dynamic imbalance (they bounce up and down at twice crankshaft speed), but this is minor in small engines. The vibration gets worse as the engine gets bigger, which accounts for the popularity of six and eight cylinder engines in the larger displacements.

just had to throw this in here;

John Deere 820; 76 PTO horsepower.

Type: John Deere
Fuel: diesel
Cylinders: 2
Bore/Stroke: 6.125x8.00 inches [156 x 203 mm]
Displacement: 470.7 ci [7.7 L]
Cooling: liquid
Coolant: 8 qts [7.6 L]
Rated RPMs: 1125
Firing order: 1-2

Firing order seems a bit redundant to me. :-)

Warn't that the one they called a Jumpin' Johnny?

The two-cylinder John Deere's were very interesting to hear running. The engine had a 180-degree crankshaft, rather than the 360-degree crankshaft that you find on most basic motorcycle twins, so both cylinders would fire on the first crankshaft rotation, and then neither would fire on the second rotation. The firing order was really like 1-2-0-0, 1-2-0-0.

This resulted in it going "Putt-putt, miss-miss, putt-putt, miss-miss" at idle, or "Pocketta-pocketta-pocketta-pocketta" at high speeds. "High speed" was a relative concept with this engine. It did jump around a lot.

Later on, John Deere replaced their massive two-cylinder engines with more normal four and six-cylinder engines since they were more efficient and smoother running, albeit more complicated, than the two-cylinder ones.

I drive a 3 cylinder 1.2 litre diesel. Noisy and rough and underpowered.

On a recent 10 mile trip the computer reported 102mpg (imperial).

I can live with noisy, rough and underpowered.

102 miles per UK gallon is 85 miles per US gallon. Not too shabby :)

And the Americans require all sorts of complications to get even half of that.


Noisy and rough and underpowered.

RalphW, but it gets you from point A to point B very economically.

I am. going to be trading in my current ford taurus after i pay it off once i get a new job for a smart fortwo either 2012 or 2013 model.

The Optical Cavity Furnace is a new piece of equipment for making solar cells that is about to rock the photovoltaic industry by slashing costs and increasing efficiency. The news should not just excite tech nerds—by reducing the cost of producing solar cells by nearly three-quarters, this new technology represents another big step on the path to making clean energy the cheap kind of energy.
PV furnace

Army’s Vision of the Future: Mostly Doom, Some Idiocy

These are some of the geopolitical scenarios the U.S. Army thinks are more likely than not in the coming two decades. Urban combat that makes Sadr City and Fallujah look like cakewalks. Increased terrorist acts after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars end. Economic disaster and massive struggles for natural resources that compel historic enemies to side with one another, against the United States.

The gist is that the global economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Playing armchair economist — Army panelists predicted that recovery won’t take root until 2020. That will lead the U.S. to pull back from its global security burdens, leading resource-starved nations to “go take the oil” in the resulting leadership vacuum,

A “North Korea implosion” will force the Army to “plan for forcible entry (amphibious, airborne, etc.).” Similar state collapses in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia might compel similar invasions.

and Debtpocalyse: Army Futurists See Fiscal Meltdown on the Horizon

... Between 2013 and 2015 is “when we’re going to see bad things,” said Robert A. Wiedemer, a participant in the Army’s seminar and one of the authors of the best-seller “Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown.”

With the U.S. debt about to reach $15 trillion and annual deficits in excess of a trillion dollars, “if you were a banker would you lend us money?” he asked. “The answer is ‘no.’”

also Unified Quest 2012

Key takeaways from Unified Quest 2012 include:

-- As the world population grows, increased global competition for affordable finite resources, notably energy and rare earth materials, could fuel regional conflict

-- Water is the new oil, and its scarcity will confront regions at an accelerated pace in this decade

-- Super-empowered individuals [Koch Bros?] will have the capacity for wide-spread influence and the ability to change local and state events

-- Tight monetary policy, infrastructure enhancements, and advanced technology investments will set conditions for economic recovery in 2020 to 2028

-- Dynamic changes in the Islamic world will continue

Invest in body bags :-<

The Army planners and big contractors are always planning and thinking big.

It's a "capability" based force, so they speak in terms of scenarios unfolding rather than always talking about getting a capability from a new weapon system. (For example, to prepare for a notional war, the USAF and the Navy talk about how many airframes and ships they will need while the Army and to some extent, the USMC, talk about how many people they need at what level of organization, training, time to target and equipment).

Problem is, Congress likes the new systems.

Bottom line, these guys (mostly) aren't alarmists, they just don't want to get caught flat footed when the boss says "move to and occupy" or "close with and destroy." And, they know cuts, even if symbolic only, will hurt a force that's tired and needs some massive refit.

Driving in the Dark: Ten Propositions About Prediction and National Security

In Driving in the Dark: Ten Propositions About Prediction and National Security, Danzig examines the nature of prediction in national security and offers strategic recommendations for how the U.S. Department of Defense can improve its predictive capabilities while also preparing for predictive failure.

Humanity Is Compelled to Predict and Will Fail –
The First Five Propositions

1. The Propensity to Make Predictions – and to Act on the Basis of
Predictions – Is Inherently Human.
2. Requirements for Prediction Will Consistently Exceed the Ability
to Predict.
3. The Propensity for Prediction Is Especially Deeply Embedded in
the U.S. Department of Defense.
4. The Unpredictability of Long-term National Security Challenges
Will Always Confound the Irresistible Forces That Drive Prediction.
5. Planning Across a Range of Scenarios Is Good Practice but Will
Not Prevent Predictive Failure.

How to Prepare for Predictive Failure –
The Last Five Propositions

6. Accelerate Tempo – and Delay Some Decisions.
7. Increase the Agility of Production Processes.
8. Prioritize Equipment That Is Most Adaptable.
9. Build More for the Short Term.
10. Nurture Diversity; Create Competition.


Danzig was interviewed today or maybe this weekend about the last batch of military plans, it's on Danger Room, a Wired Magazine blog, easy to find.

He should remember that it takes the DoD four years to rush a solution to the force three years too late, unless it's commercial, off-the-shelf.

He should also remember that big ground systems are always about 10-15 years of planning, appropriations, testing, etc.

I do agree with him though. We will always (probably) have the wrong military for the mission at hand, so we have to try to build adaptable solutions. (A not-so-good example would be the emphasis on heavy armor occupation Army design, finished just in time for the Soviet Union to collapse. Another would be the development of the Brigade Combat Team around the Stryker light(er) vehicle just in time for IEDs to make them so obsolete that the next unit to deploy won't take theirs and use MRAPs instead.)

All last week at the Pentagon, they're talking energy. You know it takes about 22 gallons of fuel per troop per day now -- a logistical nightmare. They have some interesting solutions in the works though.

I'm in the process of reading Thomas Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map, which provides an insider's look at the current disconnect between strategy and operations in the national security planning process. He points out that both Congress and the top brass at the Pentagon love platforms intended for the Big One, but that for the foreseeable future, the operational role of the US military will be much smaller low-tech boots-on-the-ground actions. He points out that one of the consequences of this internal inconsistency is the enormous strain that has been put on the Army Reserve and National Guard in the last decade.

Interesting that he doesn't consider fuel limits in his longer-term future scenario. The operational end of the US military runs on diesel and kerosene; when they can't get enough, the vaunted ability of the US military to project occupational sorts of force globally largely disappears, I think.

I don't see a solution to the American problem vis-a-vis the Middle East.

We face three simultaneous dilemmas: our overreliance on oil, widespread hatred by Islamic radicals (and our hysterical and self-defeating reaction to that hatred), and unending flows of weapons and money to Israel, backed by the incredibly wealthy Jewish American lobby, blocking every attempt at Palestinian statehood.

There is absolutely no doubt now that our entanglement in this region of the world is destroying American Empire. What remains to be seen is whether it destroys America itself.

World economy on verge of new jobs recession

The global economy is on the verge of a new and deeper jobs recession that may ignite social unrest, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned.

It will take at least five years for employment in advanced economies to return to pre-crisis levels, it said.

The ILO also noted that in 45 of the 118 countries it examined, the risk of social unrest was rising.

It will take at least five years for employment in advanced economies to return to pre-crisis levels, it said.

One has to wonder what they base that prediction on. Sounds like they just pulled a number right out of their arses...

Growth is dead and employment will never again return to so called pre-crisis levels but it may take another five years or so for this to become self evident.

"Much of the current weakness is due to a generalised loss of confidence in the ability of policymakers to put in place appropriate responses," the OECD said.

"It is therefore imperative to act decisively to restore confidence and to implement appropriate policies to restore longer-term fiscal sustainability."

It obviously has nothing to do with resources limits and the fact that we have too many people...

On the positive side, more and more people will be employed in bringing down the existing system. Open source revolution will be a major employer presenting people with new lifestyle options outside of the existing debt slavery system :)

MF Global files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

US brokerage firm MF Global has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after revealing £4bn of eurozone debt exposure.

The US brokerage has 2,000 staff worldwide including 600 in London ... MF Global's roots go back nearly 230 years to a sugar brokerage on the banks of the River Thames in London

JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank are the firm's two biggest creditors. JPMorgan is said to have a claim of more than $1.2bn, while Deutsche Bank is owed more than $1bn

Step 1: Let horse escape from barn
Step 2: Close barn door

Regulators Investigating MF Global

Federal regulators have discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money have gone missing from MF Global in recent days...

I'm shocked, shocked that the financial elite are screwing their own customers! If you can't trust the former governor of NJ - Who can you trust?

Jon Corzine: How MF Global Came Up “Snake Eyes” Under His Watch

After taking the helm at MF Global in March, 2010, Corzine immediately set out to transform the ailing firm, which specializes in handling commodities and derivatives trades, into an investment bank. Translation: He wanted the firm to learn how to roll the dice.

To this day, bankers and traders are rewarded for taking reckless chances with other people’s money, including shareholders and taxpayers. ...In interviews with more than a dozen former employees and competitors, a portrait emerges of Corzine struggling to transform the firm by ramping up risk.

and on the other side of the pond

Belgium nationalizes part of Dexia bank for $5.4B

BRUSSELS – The Belgian state will buy the national subsidiary of embattled bank Dexia for 4 billion euro ($5.4 billion) and provide tens of billions of euros in new guarantees as part of a wider bailout of the lender, the first victim of a new squeeze in European credit markets.

On top of the nationalization, the governments of Belgium, France and Luxembourg together will provide an additional 90 billion euro ($121 billion) in funding guarantees for the bank for up to 10 years

Government by the Banks for the Banks

Kinda says it all.


Investors in a Ponzi scheme disguised as a hedge fund do not have to return the principal amount of capital contributions the scheme repaid because their investments gave rise to fraud claims that offset any fraudulent transfer claims against them, the 11th Circuit has ruled.

Perkins v. Haines et al. (11th Cir.)

It's Halloween [here in the U.S.]. So ...

Check out the latest Terminator series the Army is working on

Video: Headless, Humanoid Robot Preps for Army Duty

IBM says the brains will be ready by 2017 (Darpa SyNAPSE electronic neuromorphic machine Project)

I always found the darpa homepage to be fascinating and scary at the same time.
Here is the direct link to Darpa.mil SyNAPSE

However, right now, darpa.mil is giving me a 404

What could possibly go wrong?


(Happy Halloween)

Interesting story - that robot sure looks funny with a red light for a head - kinda reminiscent of the blood fountain after a beheading in a Japanese animation...

One of the commenters there made an interesting point about these robots being used for mundane jobs like driving vehicles. He points out that if the military can have UAV's in the air today, then there is no reason why we can;t use the same technology to have unmanned road vehicles. Presently they would still be remote controlled, with the driver sitting in an office/home, but the automated versions can;t be that far away.

What would be the reaction if one of the Detroit carmakers announced they had a driverless taxi ready for sale? lots of new jobs making them, but lots more jobs lost from not driving them...

What would be the reaction if one of the Detroit carmakers announced they had a driverless taxi ready for sale? lots of new jobs making them, but lots more jobs lost from not driving them

I work on computer vision and stuff, I can tell you that the technology is already there. German luxury cars already have computers and cameras that provide a 360 vision, detect lane changes, street signs and pedestrians. The problem as it stands today is not technical, it's practical, there is a 1 in 100,000 chance that the algorithm fails and causes an accident, of course the chances of malfunction are lower than what you'd expect out of a human being but the car company is none the less looking at a multi million dollar lawsuit, which is why the computer just gives suggestions to the driver. The car companies want a foolproof algorithm which no one can provide.

But the day is not far when they will just paint a white line on the road and driver less taxis will run on it. Hell it can be done safely with even the current technology available.

But why do it? Is there a reason for doing such a thing? It's not as though we've run out of humans to do such things.

But why do it? Is there a reason for doing such a thing?

1. Safety : Most of the accidents are caused by human errors, talking on cellphone, texting, drunk driving, rash driving etc. Machines will be a lot safer
2. Efficiency : With a computer riding the vehicle you can have bumper to bumper traffic riding at 40 miles an hour, packing in a lot more traffic in a given space. Also human drivers don't ride optimally in terms of gear changes, clutch control, with a thousand variables getting processed in the CPU, a computer can take a much better decision in terms of efficiency.
3. Control : This one is freaky but true never the less. Authorities get to see and control who is riding, get real time feed on what the cars are seeing etc etc.

I know it's not the best thing for drivers but that's where it's ultimately headed, flights already run on auto-pilot for 90% of times to reduce accidents and improve fuel economy, the technology is coming down to ground.

See this


The system combines information gathered from Google Street View with artificial intelligence software that combines input from video cameras inside the car, a LIDAR sensor on top of the vehicle, radar sensors on the front of the vehicle and a position sensor attached to one of the rear wheels that helps locate the car's position on the map. As of 2010, Google has tested several vehicles equipped with the system, driving 1,000 miles (1,600 km) without any human intervention, in addition to 140,000 miles (230,000 km) with occasional human intervention, with one of two accidents occurring when another car crashed into the rear end of a test vehicle that was stopped at a red light. Google anticipates that the increased accuracy of its automated driving system could help reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and deaths, while using energy and space on roadways more efficiently.

This one should get your attention

Lobbied by Google, the Nevada Legislature passed a law in June 2011 to authorize the use of autonomous vehicles. Nevada became the first state where driverless vehicles can be legally operated on public roads. The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is now responsible for setting safety and performance standards and for designating areas where driverless cars may be tested.

Nevada already has it, it's just a matter of time it comes to other states.

Yes, you're right. What could possibly go wrong? :)

Presumably these things are programmed to avoid collision. So by pushing into their safety zone they can be made to give way. Handy if in a hurry.

I think the safety issue needs some more detail. It's not just 'more or less' safe, after all.

Just as with 'Intermittency' in Power Sources, where you've got one kind of fading in and out with Solar, or peaks and lulls with wind, yet these can be generally anticipated and reacted to.. and then you've got the kind of nuclear or grid-failure intermittency that has a matter of gigawatts snapping offline in a few milliseconds.

Autonomous Robotic cars might make extremely accurate drivers when all is well, but what happens when they get hacked, or 'confused'? Sure, they'd have failsafe modes written in for an 'all-stop' etc.. but it's hard to overestimate the number of things a human brain, even a fairly dull one is capable of in the midst of a complex traffic environment, and surprising conditions.

A motto we used to hear in the 90's

"The Pentium 4 makes faster, more efficient errors!"

Autonomous Robotic cars might make extremely accurate drivers when all is well, but what happens when they get hacked, or 'confused'?

Yea that happens, engineers call them corner cases :) I guess hacking is a potential threat, the UAV's were hacked recently, though they couldn't control the craft, they intercepted all communications between the operator and the plane.

But the point remains that with more and more development, algos will get better at handling them. The corner cases also reduce with more autonomous cars on the streets, it will be something like a hockey stick curve, if you can get more than 40% autonomous cars in an area, all corner cases will reduce dramatically.
And even in the worst case scenario an autonomous car with all it's failsafes is a safer bet than a human driver. It's just that error rate can never get down to zero and that's what scares the car companies.

There is a great e-book on Nook called "Robopocalypse" along these lines. Ultra-smart computer takes over all controls of all robots and related technology...fun insues.

IMO true blue AI is hundreds of years away, we don't even know what consciousness is in the first place, and for someone to be evil you have to be conscious of what you are doing. All these advancements in technology are like very advanced self help guides that's all, if you see x do y, if you see y do z etc.

Kurzweil has got it all wrong, advancements in hardware don't mean anything, it's the software that matters.

Though always enjoyed a good "skynet" type book :)

It's just that error rate can never get down to zero and that's what scares the car companies.

Then solution is to separate the liability for operating system from the car.

You can see how this is going to develop - the fact that Google is involved should give you a clue...

You will be able to buy your car, and then buy you operating system - which will come in the form of an app for your smartphone - that you then connect to the car.

Microsoft will come out with their "Windscreen" system - that crashes all the time.

Apple will have the "i-car" of course, but due to compatibility reasons it can only be used on 10% of the roads

Google will have their Android system that will be the thing for young guys

All will be highly reliable - the chance of a failure will be the same as the chance of a cellphone or skype call dropping out.

All of this has been considered before:

If Microsoft made Cars

Seriously though, I can see this going the exact same way as the cellphone market. The carmakers will make and sell the hardware, and when you buy a car you then choose and buy the operating system. The carmakers are only responsible for their hardware, as they are today. Let Google and Apple take on the liability for system failure - they are their systems, and, unlike the car companies, they actually have cash in the bank in the event of a lawsuit.

Still, I'd rather drive myself...

Why? What are they going to run on, human corpses?

Hell it can be done safely with even the current technology available.

Yeah, but can it be done in a way that makes economic sense? I have visions of the masses destroying such vehicles with sledge hammers and burning them in the streets then tarring and feathering the riders...

Just because the technology works, doesn't mean its a good idea to implement it!

I understand your reaction but I guess it gets worse, you remember all those speeches about how construction jobs are the only jobs that can't be outsourced, wrong. Construction bots can be operated by crews sitting thousands of miles away remotely, it's not yet a reality but advances in remote control technology will finally get us there, at first for simple jobs then complex ones. I don't know how society will cope with it but it will happen if corporations get to dictate the terms since bots are a lot cheaper than humans, you can hire crews in Mexico, China and India for pennies, train them and have them operate those 24x7, imagine it from POV of corporates, no SS no Medicare no benefits and no labor laws. How about that.

When people think of dystopian societies they think we will go back to stone age, while in reality penury and state of the art technology can actually exist side by side. And it's very efficient in terms of FF consumption as well.

i can also see those same people funding genetic hybrid research so they can have those house hold slaves back. for the ones that prefer a living made to a robotic one, without the moral weight of forcing one of their own species into servitude.

without the moral weight of forcing one of their own species into servitude.

Since when have these people ever been encumbered by that?

I don't know how society will cope with it but it will happen if corporations get to dictate the terms since bots are a lot cheaper than humans, you can hire crews in Mexico, China and India for pennies, train them and have them operate those 24x7, imagine it from POV of corporates, no SS no Medicare no benefits and no labor laws. How about that.

I have no doubt that that is true. My last corporate job prior to 2008 was at a small software company that produced an inventory management application. Among the many hats that I wore there, one of them was remotely installing and monitoring the app on customer networks. Heck, delicate brain surgery can be done remotely nowadays...

The only question I have, is, who the hell the corporations plan to sell their robotically manufactured products to, once they have put everyone who might have been able to afford them, if they still had a well paying job out on the streets.

Unless of course the robots are given credit cards by the banks...

Forests not keeping pace with climate change: study

More than half of eastern U.S. tree species examined in a massive new Duke University-led study aren't adapting to climate change as quickly or consistently as predicted.

Nearly 59 percent of the species examined by Clark and his colleagues showed signs that their geographic ranges are contracting from both the north and south.

"Warm zones have shifted northward by up to 100 kilometers in some parts of the eastern United States, but our results do not inspire confidence that tree populations are tracking those changes,"

Why are those trees staying here when they should be moving north? It's almost as if they're stuck in the ground and can't move.

Comment of the day :-)

The US Energy Information Administration is catching up with some trends that we have been discussing here on Oil Drum for some time:

Recent gasoline and diesel prices track Brent and LLS, not WTI

Since the beginning of 2011, the spot price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, a traditional benchmark for the U.S. market, has trailed the spot price of other crude oils, including Brent, a global benchmark, and Louisiana Light Sweet (LLS), a Gulf Coast crude oil similar to crudes run by many U.S. refiners. Because few U.S. refiners have easy access to WTI crude oil, this price divergence has not directly translated to lower prices for U.S. refined petroleum products, such as gasoline and heating oil. Instead, these product prices have more closely tracked the prices of Brent and LLS.

See also: 3:2:1 Crack spreads based on WTI & LLS crude oils have diverged in 2011

Relatively lower prices for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil compared to other crude oil prices make wholesale refinery margins (the difference between the value of refining inputs and outputs that is available to cover refining costs and profits) using the WTI price appear higher than refinery margins using other indices. Looking at crack spreads shows why. The 3-2-1 crack spread is the difference between the market value of the key refinery input (crude oil) and the two key refinery outputs (gasoline and diesel fuel) weighted in rough proportion to their shares of production. Crack spreads based on WTI crude oil have been considerably higher than those based on other crude oils this year. Using a WTI crack spread for a refinery that uses other crude oils, like Louisiana Light Sweet (LLS), has become misleading.

So, at least the US government is starting to realize that what the popular press misleadingly refers to as the "World Price of Oil" has become disconnected from the price that people pay for fuel at the pump. Hopefully, the Mainstream Media will eventually catch on, too.

Just in case the US government didn't get the message the last few times he said it, the Canadian natural resources minister is restating the Canadian government's position on the Keystone Pipeline:

Canada toughens tone for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline approval

Without Keystone, natural resources minister said oil could be sent to Asia instead

HOUSTON — Canada is toughening its tone on the Keystone XL pipeline, warning the Obama administration that rejection of TransCanada Corp’s $7-billion project could prompt Ottawa to concentrate on selling its oilsands-derived crude to Asian customers instead.

“What will happen if there wasn’t approval — and we think there will be — is that we’ll simply have to intensify our efforts to sell the oil elsewhere,” Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, told Reuters Monday.

In the face of rising environmental opposition to the planned pipeline, which would carry 700,000 barrels per day of supply from Canada’s oilsands projects to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Obama administration has signalled that it may miss a year-end target for approval.

I think the Cdn government should just go ahead an approve the west coast pipeline(s) anyway. And while they're at it, do an east coast one too.

A "pre-emptive move" as someone from the US used to say...

A West Coast pipeline has to run through First Nation lands and social democratic greenie British Columbia. How likely is it that the western pipeline can jump those hurdles?

It depends on how serious the Canadian federal government is about it. They have constitutional jurisdiction over inter-provincial and international pipelines as well as Indian affairs and can run roughshod over provincial governments and the First Nations if they really want to.

Besides which, it doesn't run through First Nations land. There are no Indian reservations involved.

There are unsettled land claims in British Columbia (the First Nations claim about 120% of BC due to overlapping land claims between the different tribes) but the dispute is between the First Nations and the BC government, with the federal government something of a passive observer. The federal government can overrule either of them when building inter-provincial pipelines.

This follows from the "Peace, Order, and Good Government" clause of the Canadian constitution and the "Local Works and Undertakings" clause which allows it to overrule provincial and local governments when building inter-provincial pipelines. There is also the more sweeping Declaratory Power, which allows the federal government to declare something a "Work for the general Advantage of Canada" or a "Work for the Advantage of Two or more of the Provinces". It hasn't been used lately, but is the clause that was used to build the transcontinental railroads.

You don't find these kinds of things in the US constitution. The Canadian government has some really sweeping powers if it wants to use them.

Thanks RMG,

I wonder what other uses there could be for the "Peace, Order and Good Government" clause....

It should be noted that one of the two proposed west coast pipelines is actually the duplication of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, that runs from Edmonton to Vancouver, and is exporting oil to China already. There are no land claim issues to resolve on this, though there is some public opposition to the idea of large oil tankers in Burrard Inlet. But really, given the number of freighter ships in there already, what difference will a few more make?

At $4.3bn for 400kbd, and assuming the capture of the $20 spread between WTI and Brent/Tapis prices, this pipeline would pay for itself in all of 1.47 years!

I think us west coast greenies could handle watching a few more oil tankers if we knew that every one of those was paying for schools, hospitals, etc....

I wonder what would be the response if they used the "work for the advantage of two or more of the provinces" to build a new transmission line to re-route the Churchill Falls power away from Quebec and through the Maritimes?

The existing Kinder Morgan Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby has been existence since 1957 - the only difference is the number and size of oil tankers docking at it. The number of tankers has tripled since 2005, and is expected to triple again by 2016. They intend to dredge the channels to increase the size of tankers from "Aframax" (120,000 tonnes) to "Suezmax" (240,000 tonnes). The trans-Mountain pipeline was originally built in 1953 and the current proposal is to increase it from 300,000 bpd to 700,000 bpd.

Since all the facilities are already in place and have been operating for half a century or more, they don't need many approvals to expand them.

As for the transmission line from Labrador via Newfoundland to the Maritimes, the federal government is already committed to expediting it. The real problem is the long-term (65 year) contract that Newfoundland signed to sell Churchill Falls electricity to Hydro-Quebec at very low and declining prices. That doesn't expire until 2041 - but I imagine when it does, the contract renewal negotiations are going to be very unpleasant for Quebec. If negotiations fail, Newfoundland will probably cut them off and reroute the power to the US via the Maritimes.

At what point do we invade Canada and free their people (and oil)? A well coordinated attack would focus on the maple syrup distribution centers and supply lines. I'm most worried about these guys.

I bet 9.5 out of 10 Americans would back an invasion of Canada if it would bring gasoline prices down a $1.

The last time the US invaded Canada, it didn't work out that well. Canadian militia, British soldiers, and native Indian warriors captured Detroit, burned Buffalo, and occupied Maine, among other things. Next year (2012) is the 200th anniversary. We're going to make little models of the White House and set fire to them to celebrate the burning of Washington.

The details of the War of 1812 are not widely discussed in US high school history courses, and with good reason. It was not one of America's most illustrious wars.

At least you got a good anthem out of it, the Star Spangled Banner. The "rockets red glare" was from the bombardment of Baltimore by British Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay.

The details of the War of 1812 are not widely discussed in US high school history courses

Well, yes. It was all about British pissing us off by impressing US citizens into their navy. The whole bit about invading Canada, was just mistaken enthusiasm for spreading democracy. It is inconcievable that the Candians didn't join in on the liberation of their country!
But, we did learn about heroic sea battles. And Andrew Jackson kicked British butt at New Orleans (which happened after the peace treaty had been signed -but word traveled slow back then).

Would 9.5 out 10 Americans be able to locate Canada on a map? :-)

America invades Canada, can't understand why they are opposed by Mexican troops.


I'm sure we have all heard about the federal powers involving in the regulation of "interstate commerce".

One or two more court decisions in favor of further expanding these powers will put us on a par with Canada for sure,but it is my impression that we are pretty much there anyway.

One thing is for sure , imo.

Those of us who are opposed to the proposed pipelines to the US getting built are mostly going to be singing a different tune a few years down the road when the real fuel crunch hits, and they are looking atmaybe losing their own jobs and livelihoods as a result of that oil going preferentially to Asia first.

It is being bought up at a fairly rapid pace already, and most of what is so bought is not likely to be put on the market by the Chinese;it will go directly to China when supplies get tight..

Certainly pipelines have environmental costs, but so does massive unemployment and a falling standard of living.

A new pipleline built to modern standards is nothing to get overly alarmed about, from an environmental pov.

Now let me make myself clear-I am all in favor of just any all sorts of conservation and efficiecy scheme, excepting very high speed trains.Such trains seem to me to be far too expensive to build and operate, whereas ORDINARILY FAST trains in general seem to be an ideal solution to our transportation problems.

But it seems perfectly obvious to me that alternative technologies are simply not maturing fast enough, and won't get scaled up fast enough, to avoid a near term to medium term energy crunch which will probably be bad enough to bring any further large scale development of alternative energy technologies to a screeching halt.

Let me say by way of illustration of my point that a reliable supply of Canadian tar sands crude might enable us to enjoy five more additional years of bau, as other sources of oil dry up, even though fuel prices will likely be constantly rising.

That five years would obviously be a priceless window of opportunity; a lot can change in five years.

Five years is long enough for the price of solar power and wind power to fall considerably, long enough for people with long commutes to get rid of their gas guzzler in favor of a subcompact diesel, long enough for building codes to be tightened up, etc.

Long enough for a few million retirees to sell their close in to town houses to folks living in the far off 'burbs, and move out to the burbs, since they will be mostly be driving only to run errands-there ARE supermarkets, doctors, etc, in the burbs.

Long enough for intermodal truck/ rail to really take off.

Long enough for renters to move closer to work-sometimes close enough to walk or bike.I know two people at least who have done so already even here in the mountian backwoods where not having a car is generally tantamount to being homeless due to a lack of employment opportunites in the countryside.

Long enough for short range all electric vehicles to grab a suprising share of the market, especially if gasoline is heavily taxed or rationed, and such vehicles get preferable tax and insurance treatment-if I am allowed only so many gallons per month, I will have a powerful incentive to conserve those gallons for a long trip out of town, and drive the electric whenever I can, even if it is only a street legal golf cart.

Long enough for millions of people to install heat pumps and triple glazed windows.

All these things will certainly happen, as sure as the sun rising, if economic conditions don't change so fast the invisible hand cannot work it's magic.

And yes, children, there really IS an invisible hand, and it really does have near magical powers;but it is NOT all powerful, and it CANNOT do it's work overnight.

And yes it can be dangerously shortsighted, as it is only a hand, without a brain-it needs guidance from an educated and enlightened citizenry.

The lead article "Asia Faces Rocky Road" makes no sense to me. The world has a free market in energy. All Asia has to do is out bid her competitors. The US bids $110 and China bids $115 problem solved. It should read the "whole world faces rocky road with regard to cheap oil".

ed - Even worse for the US when you consider China won't have to out bid us for some of that future oil production. China owns Angolan oil the US can never buy at any price unless China decides to sell it to us. Likewise they've got a multi-year contract to buy Venezuelan heavy. The crude Gulf Coast refiners had always assumed would be theirs for the asking. Oil companies can't compete with the Chinese govt for these resources. The two play by very different economic rues.

In recent years the Chinese have been buying up large portions of the Canadian oil sands as well. At the moment they are selling their production to the US, but ownership implies the right to take the oil and do with it whatever they want. Their long-term goal is probably to send it to China.

Some people believe that NAFTA requires Canada to sell a certain portion of its oil production to the US in the event of an emergency, but that's not at all true for the portion the Chinese own. Most people are deluded about what the treaty really says.

GAO finally get around to reporting on the AIG fiasco

FINANCIAL CRISIS: Review of Federal Reserve System Financial Assistance to American International Group, Inc.

While warning signs of the company’s difficulties had begun to appear a year before the Federal Reserve System provided assistance, Federal Reserve System officials said they became acutely aware of AIG’s deteriorating condition in September 2008. The Federal Reserve System received information through its financial markets monitoring and ultimately intervened as the possibility of bankruptcy became imminent.

Efforts by AIG and the Federal Reserve System to secure private financing failed after the extent of AIG’s liquidity needs became clearer. Both the Federal Reserve System and AIG considered bankruptcy issues, although no bankruptcy filing was made.

Due to AIG’s deteriorating condition in September 2008, the Federal Reserve System said it had little opportunity to consider alternatives before its initial assistance. As AIG’s troubles persisted, the company and the Federal Reserve System considered a range of options, including guarantees, accelerated asset sales, and nationalization.

According to Federal Reserve System officials, AIG’s credit ratings were a critical consideration in the assistance, as downgrades would have further strained AIG’s liquidity position.

Full Report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11616.pdf

see also AIG's Internal Analysis of the Situation

AIG: Is the Risk Systemic? ■Strictly Confidential

I am glad we have TOD. My local paper/blog site www.al.com had a story today about if going off grid was legal. A local power company mouthpiece said it was legal but not practical. Of course, we all know better. Time for the off the grid folks to come out and post. I am pointing them here as I point you there.

Ask Us: Is it legal to come 'off the grid' and generate all your home's power with solar energy?

Sorry TFHG, I wrote a response yesterday and our internet went down; POOF. It's been happening more since the big telecom took over from our smaller regional provider.

Is it legal to go off grid? I'm sure there are places where it's not, though I don't know where.

Is it practical? Depends. It's been very practical for us, though our house was built from the ground up for off grid. Were the home to be hooked to the grid, it would be akin to a Passivhaus in its efficiency. Converting the typical suburban home to totally off grid would be like trying to convert the typical large or midsize sedan to all electric; not very practical and not worth the cost.

Moving some of the home's systems to renewables is much more doable (solar hot water, some electrical loads to PV, in some cases remodling for passive solar, and add more insulation. Conservation/efficiency is always the first step.

I built storm windows over the weekend out of some cheap pine boards (1x6). I have Marvin double hung windows (early 90's) that just don't seal well anymore. They have the separate screen that I can remove so I used that somewhat as a template for these. I plan on covering the front of the storm windows with some of that plastic from a window kit (double sided tape) and then put weather stripping on the inside. Still not sure how to hold them in place (the top of the window is able to slide into a slot that is there for the window screen...I notched the boards so the storm window fits great)...I need to tighten everything up (probably with some sort of clips).

The Kreg Jig (I have the cheap $20 one) works fantastic for this application. That tool is a must. My frames (I've built 3 so far) are very strong.

The biggest bang for the buck in windows are interior storm windows.Make your own buy a kit or Larson and other are starting to make them from your measurements.

I could mount them inside.

I've used the window kits the past 2 years, and while they work great, they seem like a waste because I have to rip off the plastic every spring.

Prebuilt storm windows are expensive. They carry Larson here at Menards, and for my windows (which are pretty large) they would be $50ish (each). I figure I'll have about nothing into the ones I'm building (since I have all the tools/wood/jig/screws already in my arsenal). The plastic I'll take out of some old window kits I bought up years ago on clearance.

Consider polycarbonate sheets. Easy to work with and last for years.


I'll price them out at the hardware store.

From my research it makes no sense to replace older, but still functioning, windows. I figure this will help extend their life for another 50 years! :)

First ask what functions you need these windows to perform:
1. Do you need to be able to see out of them?
2. Do you need them to provide daytime lighting?
3. Do you need them for ventilation (and thus must be able to open/close them)?

Traditionally windows did all three, but some of find we don't need this for all our windows. If so you can make permanent modifications accordingly.

Hey Daddy;
I've been building frames for inside the windows over the last few years, tho' I'm eager to do some outdoor applications as well.

The Indoor ones are 1x1 (3/4" square) up to 1x3 frames that I skin with the plastic on BOTH sides, so I've got one more air cavity that has to transfer the heat on its way out the window. I have used peel-n-stick foam on the edges or back face where it meets window trim, and like you, I don't have a clipping system I'm happy with yet. Some are tacked in with Screws, and I've often taped the edges with masking tape, or left an extra couple inches of the plastic and used the double-sided on the trim. Might seem excessive as opposed to just putting a sheet on the window, but I want to get to the point where I can have them self sealed, and can remove them at will, and store them in summer to be ready for a pretty quick install as the weather changes.

I really don't like reapplying tape to my woodwork year after year. Even the clips will probably entail inserted machine-screw threads or such hardware, so I've got a clean, repeatable way to do this without trashing the sills..

For outdoors, I'm looking at making insulated shutters that look traditional, but are on sliders instead of hinges, and have a pulley/string arrangement for opening and closing from the inside. That might mean pulleys and all rigging out at the top edge, under a ledge that hides the tracks, and a simple pulley-axle coming through the wall.. which is easier to seal and still has a tiny thermal bridge to it.. These ought to be easier to get a decent seal upon closing, only require one finished face, while you can do what you please to the inner face of them. I might put versions of 'Starry Night' on them.. or Lunar Landscapes..? We'll see.

And alternate for outdoor window treatments would be to use Faux Shutters which are really Solar Hot Air Collectors (and these also add to the insul. levels of that portion of the wall), and have roll-down insulated shutters above the window.. which can also double as Awnings if you are in a situation where it's helpful to get the sun off the windows in hot weather. Lot of fun combinations one can play with. TOO many, really!

..oh! One more project I'm gearing up for, I've got metal entry doors which are 'insulated', but they sure do feel cold to the touch, so I'm looking at making some simple Insulated quilts sized for the doors, and leaving slots around the edges for sliding strip magnets into, which should make bonding to the door a no-brainer. (I got a 25'? roll of Peel/Stick 1/2" magnet at Joann Fabric recently, very cheap at the columbus day sale!) The quilt can be, of course, stylized however you like, so there's an opportunity to add to the decor, and possibly to distract the spouse from your unwholesome ulterior motives! The magnet slots should be open at an end, so you can wash the thing and fold it for storage.

(I can't stop..) The WALL variant on that Door quilt, I'm thinking of making some murals, and painting them on, or backing them with insulated foamboard, so that I can add to my wall insulation in similarly sneaky and aesthetic ways! But I think she's on to me..

Small sliding latches on the frames going into pre-drilled holes in the window surround? You could use a hole with some metal tubing inserted to make it look neat and reinforce the hole. Hole set so you have to press the frame against the window before the latch slides in.


Mathematically detecting bubbles before they burst

In a paper published this month in the SIAM Journal on Financial Mathematics, authors Robert Jarrow, Younes Kchia, and Philip Protter propose a mathematical model to detect financial bubbles.

Using sophisticated mathematical methods, Protter and his co-authors answer the question of whether the price increase of a particular asset represents a bubble in real time.

The authors have also used the model to test more recent price increases to detect bubbles. "We have found, for example, that the IPO [initial public offering] of LinkedIn underwent bubble pricing at its debut, and that the recent rise in gold prices was not a bubble, according to our models," Protter says.

New website seeks to hold journalists accountable

The site: News Transparency

Why does it exist?

The founders of America, recognizing that a free press was necessary to a free society, wrote the protections of the First Amendment into the Constitution. Today, polls show public distrust of the media at a record level, and academic research shows that roughly half of newspaper stories contain errors.

This site aims to improve the accuracy, quality, and transparency of journalism by making it easier to find out about the individual human beings who produce the news — human beings with opinions, relationships, history, and agendas.

That information should help readers, viewers, and listeners put what they are reading in better context, and it may even prompt some improvements by the journalists.

In a similar idea, but of a US press organization trying to verify political figure's statements, there is http://www.politifact.com/

politifact has gone off the rails

you know they were actually "fact checking" hand written OWS signs last week?

the US media has become fully corporate-conservative / profit-based with little to no original investigative content (save a few commercial examples).

the way to commerical profit is to give people what they want in the most simple forms. that's what drives the breathless coverage of totally insignificant people, places and things.

when I am able, I support non-commericial, non-corporate, viewer funded programming (right now in the US, I'm aware of two, Free Speech TV and Link TV)

Beacon Power bankrupt; had U.S. backing like Solyndra

Oct 30 (Reuters) - Beacon Power Corp filed for bankruptcy on Sunday, just a year after the energy storage company received a $43 million loan guarantee from a controversial U.S. Department of Energy program

While Solyndra was just one among many PV producers, competing in an already mature market, Beacon's concept is relatively unique/young technology, yet to be well-tested in the real world; modular flywheel energy storage. While I have no stake in Beacon, and even have a few doubts about the viability of its concept, it would be a loss, IMO, to lose a chance at vetting (or not) the idea just as it's getting off the ground. ~$60 million is chump change in the scope of things, and it may turn out that these modular flywheels have other viable applications beyond the original concept. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Tough times for innovative upstarts.

Yes. One of the big Left/Right divides in our state is whether to vote to allow more casinos, which many on the other side feel would bring in a 'lot' of out of state dollars, and provide good jobs..

I guess it depends on which kinds of 'gambles' a person is willing to bet on.. alas.

Top 25: NRC’s internal documents from Fukushima made public after FOIA request from Enformable.com

Top 25: NRC’s internal documents from Fukushima made public after FOIA request from Enformable.com

Listed in no particular order

March 14th, 2011 – NRC ONLY Update – All 3 Reactor cores likely damaged
March 15th, 2011 UPDATE: 2000 EDT Telecon on Fukushima Daiichi – Unit 4 New Fire Broken Out – Doses in Area around 30R/hr
March 15th 2011 – Unit 2 Containment Probably Breached – Loud Explosion – Containment Pressure Drop – Radiation Spike – Spent Fuel Fire
March 15th, 2011 – All 3 Reactors have known fuel damage – 50 Staff on site – 5 may have received fatal radiation doses
March 15th, 2011 – Fukushima Daiichi Units Degrading – Zirconium Fire at Reactor 4 SFP – Reactor 2 Possible Reactor Vessel Breach & Ex-Vessel Core Reaction
March 12th 2011 12:52 PM FOAI Communication – Reactor 1 Water level was known to be below top of active fuel
March 11th, 2011 – BBC is reporting radiation levels at reactor are 1000x normal. I feel like crying.
March 15th, 2011 – Core Exposed at #2 Fukushima Daiichi
March 15th, 2011 – Responding to inaccurate information in the news media – HELP CORRECT INACCURATE AND/OR MISLEADING NEWS REPORTS
March 15th, 2011 – The fire’s back in unit 4 – Unit 4 pool has a full core load in it and needs full attention – Holes in the upper structure from the earlier hydrogen explosion in unit 4
March 16th, 2011- ABC News Wants confirmation that things are definitely taking a turn for the worse – Per Holly – ignoring media calls
March 17th, 2011 – RadNet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We should be careful
March 17th, 2011 – This is a marathon, not a sprint – Take time to go outside and enjoy the spring
March 18th, 2011 – There’s Got to be a ton of loose materials floating in the SFP – I would not be surprised if the top 10 feet or so of the sfp was sloshed out
March 16th, 2011 – Assessing SFP Damage – SOARCA – Uncovered Spent Fuel Reports – Leak at Unit 4 SFP
April 2nd, 2011 – Estimated 10-30%/daily drywell turnover leakage from failed penetrations – Please delete after reading
March 30, 2011 – Reactor 2 Core Melted Through Containment Vessel – Workers “Lost the race” to save one of the reactors
April 6th, 2011 – Japan just said there was a zirc fire in Unit 4 SFP. Did we know this? – Depends what is meant by “know.”
March 20th, 2011 – The band of elevated dose rates up to 18 mi from plant to the northwest seems to coincide with “Lube Oil Fire” in Reactor 4 SFP
March 14th, 2011 – Indications of Breach of Containment at Reactor 2
March 12th, 2011 – To me it looked like a containment building disappearing in an explosive cloud. WTF.
March 11th, 2011 – Fukushima Daiichi fuel could have been broken because iodine concentration in air began to be increased at the site boundary
March 14th, 2011 – NRC Asked About Extra Security In Case of Mass Demonstrations at Meetings
March 24th, 2011 – California Coastal Commission – Preliminary Report on Implications for Coastal California
March 12th 2011 – Core Damage at Unit 1 Prior to Explosion

I feel like crying too when I read this!

But living in Japan, although now I live very far away from the Fukushima nuclear plant, I have noticed a gloom settling over everything. A feeling of paralysis---nothing to be done, nothing can be done. Nobody has any hopes here. I know many young people who want to leave. I wonder if I will end up leaving. The whole country is headed for a severe economic collapse---that was in the BBC today----and no one can do anything about it. People have just given up totally. Is it the same in other places?

Just look at Occupy Wall Street, which has spread worldwide. Tension is building everywhere, but the news is mixed. I saw on CNBC an executive at a big corp. was being given a 100 million to leave his position, only to remain with the same corp. but in a different position! On the other hand some small town in the US just got word that Whirlpool is moving yet another plant overseas, and with it 5,000 jobs. The town of 15,000 relied on those jobs to keep the town going, so another town bites the dust. Where do those people go and what do they do for a living?

On CNBC this afternoon, a young woman contributer was urging caution regarding the EU bailout and US economic avoidance of a double dip. But Kudlow, the anchor asked another guest if being positive was an American attribute. After taking her to school for being negative, she altered her position to be more positive yet remaining slightly cautious. As if simply acting positive would change anything.

Then again Kim Kardashian and her now ex- beau made 18 million on their wedding on TV, but get to keep it even though the marriage only lasted 72 days. It was probably the biggest gotcha on the world regarding weddings ever.

Boeing and Exxon are raking in huge profits, but some other huge company today went bankrupt.

It's a stressed out world that is being squeezed by high oil prices and massive shifts of wealth away from the common person into a small group of very influentional and politically powerful mega-wealthy people.

And even though there have been OWS protests worldwide, are any politicians even paying attention? No. On Fox news they make fun of it like those people are meaningless, unpatriotic americans. Obama sided with the protesters only to be castigated by the right and now he's gone silent.

Seems like if the oil price squeeze continues, even at these levels without droping significantly, the downhill slide will continue until shtf. Whatever that final straw will be is anyone's guess.

Hang in there pi because many of us are in the same boat.

... many of us are in the same boat

Was that the conciliatory phrasing used by passengers on the Titanic?

Women and children first!

It was more civilized then. Some of the Too Big To Fail actually failed to save themselves. Ismay did save himself, and was publicly ruined as a result.

The death rate among third class was much higher than first class though. Wealth had its privileges then too.

It's not often I get to add something on here, so in for a penny...

Women and children first is known as the Birkenhead Convention (or drill), named after a British troop ship that floundered in 1852. She didn't have enough life boats, an as almost all the men on board were soldiers and the threat of death was expected as "part of the job", they stood by and let the women and children go first. Before then it was always "every man for himself".

Second class passengers on the Titanic suffered the worst casualty rate. It seems they were not privileged enough to be first in line, but were too polite to do whatever it took to get out/off. Death by manners.

Obama sided with the protesters

No, he most emphatically did not. Platitudes don't count.

Is it the same in other places?

a gloom settling over everything?

[A notion that] the whole country is headed for a severe economic collapse?

It may be cultural.
In some places it is anger rather than gloom.

In either case, many are awakening to the vague cognition that something isn't quite right. The system is not working the way they were told it would work.

"The system is not working the way they were told it would work."

Some have known that the system was unworkable; many have always felt this way. From that perspective, the process can be viewed as a peeling away of the layers obscuring the clarity of who we are and what we need to do. This is where I go when the gloom begins to settle in, all the while knowing that the process is painful.

Best hopes for honest pain.

/idealistic reflections

It may be cultural.

step back, I think you're right. As has been mentioned before, oddly Canadians are somewhat immune from the malaise, particularly in the western half of the country. But even here in the east, I'm not picking up any perception of either passive "resistance is futile" or bubbling "anger just under the surface."

Canadians aren't renown for their optimism (which is a trait better ascribed to Americans) but rather for their reserve - which I think may help explain the reaction. There is a quiet recognition that we have a good thing going (relatively speaking) and that even if times gets rough, somehow we'll muddle through and emerge from it okay.

I may be way off base on this - and maybe proven wrong - but that's the way it looks from this angle at this point in time.

I think it is because we instinctively appreciate the fact we have significant natural resources of all kinds with only a small population. We have huge energy resources (including a lot of hydro, uranium, even decent unconventional oil / gas reserves), a large pool of educated / skilled workers, indigenous nuclear technology expertise and a moderate polity less prone to magical thinking and ideologically driven intolerance (however, Republican clones under P.M. Harper are doing all they can to change this).

Yes, and we are prone to be more orderly - The Devil's Brigade - The Canadians Arrive

To some degree it's cliché, but there is a hint of accuracy. How do you know a Canadian abroad? He's the one in lineup saying thank you to the ABM.

This is no joke. As strange as it may sound, that actually happened to me in Brussels. A man in front of me muttered thank you and I came to discover he was from Ontario.

This Canadian powerpoint is one of the early sources I found when beginning to research PO six years ago...


That is a good one for those new to the whole concept of Peak Oil

EPA data shows Fukushima Uranium in California (PDF)

The background level indicated by the blue line on the graph is based on averaged measurements at UK Atomic Weapons Establishment.)
The increasing trend with proximity to Japan suggests that Japan is far more heavily contaminated than any of these sites, as we have predicted. It is of the greatest concern that no data on uranium and plutonium have been published by the authorities there.

High Levels of Plutonium, Uranium Found in the United States

Note Ibaraki Dilution should read "1 billionth" not "billion"

Scientist Marco Kaltofen Presents Data Confirming Hot Particles

Washington, DC - October 31, 2011 – Today Scientist Marco Kaltofen of Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) presented his analysis of radioactive isotopic releases from the Fukushima accidents at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Mr. Kaltofen’s analysis confirms the detection of hot particles in the US and the extensive airborne and ground contamination in northern Japan due to the four nuclear power plant accidents at TEPCO’s Fukushima reactors. Fairewinds believes that this is a personal health issue in Japan and a public health issue in the United States and Canada.

...Another piece of information is that Fairewinds viewers were able to send in children's shoes from Japan. Mr. Kaltofen has data that clearly show that the concentration of cesium on the kid's shoelaces was astronomically high, around 80 disintegrations per second. What does that mean? Kids tie their shoes, their hands get radioactive and it goes into their G.I. tract. If it is on the ground, it is in the dust in the playground and it is in their lungs. I think that between the two, the air filters and the children's shoes, it shows that there is a severe personal health problem in Japan that will manifest itself in cancers over the next 10 or 20 years.

,,,In the United States, it is a different story. It is a public health issue and not a personal health issue. What that means is that we will never know who is the individual who got cancer from Fukushima. But we can be sure that the radiation did reach here and that there will be an increase in cancers, especially on the West Coast where the Rocky Mountains stopped most of the radiation and deposited it on the ground.

So, this paper was given to the American Public Health Association. And here it is a public health issue. We cannot run and we cannot hide. But the radiation is up and down the West Coast and then also scattered about the rest of the United States.

Video: Japan MP Yasuhiro Sonoda drinks Fukushima water

A Japanese official has drunk water collected from the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, after reporters challenged him to prove it was safe.

Yasuhiro Sonoda appeared nervous and his hands shook as he downed a glass during a televised news conference.

Probably would lick a frozen flag pole on dare.

and other news of the weird

Bart's Blinky? Three-eyed Fish Raises Nuke Fears

¡Ay, caramba! A three-eyed fish was caught in a reservoir in Argentina, reported Cadena 3, an Argentine news service.

The fishing hole where the mutant fish was caught may be more of a fission hole. The reservoir, named “Chorro de Agua Caliente,” receives water from a nuclear plant in the province of Córdoba.

"Simpsons" fans will remember the same thing happened in Springfield. Bart caught Blinky, a three-eyed fish, in the pond fed by Monty Burn's nuclear power plant in the episode “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish,” from the second season of the hit series.

And our national Nuclear Labs are in 'Good Hands' ...

... Los Alamos National Security (LANS), a consortium headed by the Bechtel Corporation with the University of California as a junior partner, won the contract in 2005. A year later, it also won the contract to run the lab at Livermore.

To boost profits, Bechtel increased the management fee tenfold, rewarding its senior LANS officials. The budget was static but costs increased, resulting in heavy job losses at the Livermore Laboratory. New managers did not establish the same rapport with scientists as previous managers who had risen through the ranks.

Peer reviewed publication output by scientists dropped sharply. But the number and quality of articles published, papers given, and experiments conducted by lab scientists was now irrelevant to the government's evaluation of managerial effectiveness. Scientists were discouraged from raising concerns, which could impact management bonuses.


A big surprise after reading about their bang-up job at Hanford...

What a clown! I wonder if he's old enough where something else will get him before the radiation?

Just to be clear on the source, since it is a PDF: http://www.llrc.org/

Yes in the case of the first article that should be obvious from the URL. What are you suggesting?

I've cross-checked personally some of the U-238 data with the US source EPA data and it matches. Others have checked it all from comments on other forums and found it all to match once you convert from Curies to Bq.

Also the second linked article (Japanese source, not Busby) uses some of the same U-238 data as the first and that matches as well. Again some on other forums have checked and say all the figures match up. Note the Plutonium data especially is buried deep within RADNET but is available if you know the magic incantations. It never appeared in the summary PDFs (censored and shows as ND) which is why Busby presumably didn't know of its existence at the time he wrote the first paper.

Magic incantation details at this link http://news.lucaswhitefieldhixson.com/2011/04/epa-radnet-reports-show-pl...

By the way this video also linked at LLRC is interesting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2JFxnAkTW4 . The video features a debate between Chris Busby and Jack Valentin of the ICRP. Notice how Valentin squirms when put on the spot by Busby and admits that the ICRP "official" internal exposure models are wrong (underestimate damage) probably by an order of magnitude and might even be wrong by up to 2 orders of magnitude in some cases.

OK, so what does it mean to you? What is the risk from the exposure levels implied by those readings?

The result itself is obvious: there was a leak of a material we can track effectively, and the tracking information shows a normal dispersion pattern from the expected source.

Just for the record: a nanoBequerel corresponds to 1 radioactive decay every 3 years.

Tepco Detects Possible Nuclear Fission at Fukushima Reactor

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. detected signs of possible nuclear fission at its crippled Fukushima atomic power plant in northern Japan, raising the risk of more radiation leaks.

The company, known as Tepco, began spraying boric acid on the No. 2 reactor at 2:48 a.m. Japan time in an attempt to prevent accidental chain reactions. Tepco said it may have found xenon, which is associated with nuclear fission, while examining gases taken from the reactor, according to an e-mailed statement today.

You gotta luv the headlines, Eurozone debt crisis: Markets dive on Greek referendum

European markets have fallen following Monday's announcement of a Greek referendum on the latest aid package to solve its debt crisis.

Eurozone leaders agreed a 50% debt write-off for Greece last week as well as strengthening Europe's bailout fund.

But the announcement of a referendum has cast doubt on whether the deal will be able to go ahead.

The FTSE 100 in London was down 3.0%, while the Dax in Frankfurt fell 5.2% and the Cac 40 in Paris dropped 4.5%.

Shares in banks saw the biggest falls, with Credit Agricole down 11.5%, Societe Generale falling 14.4%, BNP Paribas down 10.5% and Barclays 9.3% lower.

Then to add to the melodrama,

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said it was "an unexpected decision that generates uncertainties".

All this sounds well and good to blame Greece for the ongoing developments of the European debacle, except the markets were tanking Sunday night (relative to timezones in North America and Europe) in Asia well ahead of any news about any referendum in Greece. To restate from an earlier news release, Euro zone jitters hurt stocks; dollar jumps

Amid worries about MF Global's euro zone exposure, [Friday's] Italian 10-year government bond yields climbed back above 6 percent to levels last seen in August before the ECB stepped in to buy Spanish and Italian debt in the secondary market.

German Bund futures jumped almost 3 points to 136.57, while the U.S. 30-year Treasury bond rallied about 5 points in price to yield 3.14 percent. The 30-year U.S. yield rose 22 basis points, the biggest monthly yield jump since January.

Systemic problems were apparent within hours of the deal struck last Wednesday/Thursday. The Italians couldn't sell their bonds on the so-called good news of an agreement.

It is convenient and easy to blame democratic uncertainty in Greece for the cascading contempt of the markets. This latest round of finger pointing is downright bizarre if it wasn't so predictable.

You can imagine everyones shock at the EU being surprised that the Greek poeple wouldn't vote to tax themselves more and make themselves redundant.

Meanwhile in another ficticious alternate reality:


It appears we are all saved. Three cheers for the occupants of planet BBC.

meanwhile in the real world.......

sarcanol/off My sheer disgust at the stupidity and naivety of the average EU beurocrat continues.


I does look like Greece is going to do a hard default. This is what Iceland did and this is what Greece should have done at the start of this crisis.

Borrowing more money to solve a debt crisis can't work in a world where growth is no longer possible. A bunch of banks are now going to be toast but is this really a bad thing? Could we not have a functioning society without, or with fewer, banks?

Move over Somalia ...

Government in Greece Nears Collapse Over Referendum

ATHENS — The Greek government was plunged into chaos on Tuesday and faced an imminent collapse, as lawmakers rebelled against Prime Minister George Papandreou’s surprise call for a popular referendum on a new debt deal with Greece’s foreign lenders.

Such a collapse would not only render the referendum plan moot, it would likely scuttle — or at least delay — the debt deal that was agreed on in Brussels last week, putting Greece on a fast track to default and possible exit from the monetary union of countries sharing the euro currency.

Risk of political contagion as well as financial. Government collapse in Greece. Whose next? Italy?

- Government collapse ... Whose next? Italy?

How could you tell? ;-)

Yes good for them. Greece, like Iceland, should tell the banks to go pound sand.

Banks are a cancer that have spread to every corner of every community. Even during all the shenanigans that have occurred since 2008 it has been a steady stream of renovating old banks, new banks building new branches on previously unoccupied corners, banks changing names, banks suddenly disappearing, too big to fail banks opening branches in places that at most had a community bank... an absolute revolving door of bankster nonsense.

Beyond sick of it. Could care less if the majority of them got screwed out of every ill gotten penny they layed claim to...

now is not the time to look for blame.

now is the time to stock up on TP.

...and peanut butter.

There has been quite a lot in the news lately about food stamps, and what people buy with the money from the program.

I am watching with interest what Congresspeople are buying with their $4.50 per day, during the "Food Stamp Challenge". Of course, unfortunately, it is mostly processed food, as in this example :-

"Speier displayed some of the items she was able to purchase for her first day of living on a food stamp budget: a bag of coffee and a loaf of bread from the Dollar Warehouse; a can of Campbell's low sodium chicken noodle soup; and a can of sweet peas, possibly to put in a tuna casserole later in the week.
"And this is my treat for the week," Speier said, holding up a box of microwave popcorn packets."


If people really understood how to cook from scratch, and what basic food staples really are, $4.50 a day can provide pretty reasonable nutrition. Tuna Casserole would not be high on my planning list.

Edit : I aim at a food budget of $150 per month. "SNAP" pays up to $200 for one person, but there are places I could cut back and still do ok. Of course, I supplement from my garden for fresh produce, which helps a lot.


"How much does someone get each month?
The monthly SNAP Benefit amount depends on the number of people in the "SNAP unit" and the monthly income available to meet needs after the caseworker subtracts the allowable deductions (such as rent and utilities) from gross income. The chart below shows the highest monthly benefit by household size. Depending on income, this amount could be less.

Unit Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Maximum Benefit $200 $367 $526 $668 $793 $952 $1,052 $1,202 $1,352 $1,502

For households with more than 10 persons, add $150 for each additional person."

Food stamps or no, better stock up on peanut butter: Peanut butter prices skyrocketing. Virtually all other commodities falling today.

A friend of ours teaches classes at the county; stretching your EBT/food dollars. Attendance is high. I suggested she look at Asian and Mexican recipes, examples of using a few basic ingredients to produce a variety of different dishes, something we've done for years. Soups, stews (incl. chili) and salads also lend themselves to variations of basic ingredients. I also bake often; three large loaves of easy crusty bread costs us ~$2.00, about 30 minutes of actual prep time. Last week's batch produces a wonderful sourdough.

Thanks for the tip on peanut butter ;) I buy bulk, raw, mixed nuts. They have gone up about 30% in the last year.

I bought a couple of those cans of mixed veg as an experiment - 59 cents per can, or something like that. By the time one strains off the salt water, one really only gets a pitiful handful of soggy veggies. It actually works out cheaper to buy the raw carrots or peas or whatever is in season and make ones' own. Healthier, too.

I agree on Asian & Mexican recipes. Bulk staples such as beans are pretty cheap, bulk up a lot during cooking, and can be mixed with almost anything. They store for a good, long time too. I like barley, too. It is a good, hard grain, and stands reheating better than rice.

I love a good rye sourdough...if you like bread, check this out :-


Edit : I notice "SNAP" benefits can be used to buy plants and seeds for growing food. I wonder how many people take advantage of that ?


I happened to marry a Romanian girl about 12 years ago. There is no substitute for knowledge learned during really hard communist years. She makes this look easy. She makes a big pot of chicken soup, with extra chicken. Then, after it's finished cooking, she removes some of the chicken and adds it to a potato salad. This creates two nutritious meals at once.

We also belong to a local farm's crop share program. Many moms join to feel like they are doing healthy things for their families, but then they don't really go to pick up all of their crop share. This leaves more for us than we paid for.

Stretching food with recipes from others out of the mainstream.

Try this quote:

"In New York, three days after authorities confiscated their generators, hundreds of anti-Wall Street protesters struggled to stay warm and dry after the snow storm. Some got tips on how to deal with the cold weather from homeless people.

"They have the most amazing knowledge base for dealing with cold weather," protester Justin Stone-Diaz said. "So honestly, we're getting it from people with experience.""


Cooking is my passion. For what it costs to eat out at even a crappy establishment, I can make a homemade, almost entirely organic based meal (grass fed beef/non GMO crap/fresh veggies/etc). I tend to make a lot of soups this time of year.

Another option is just to drive around until you see a deer and run it over. Cheap meat (hint:put a brush guard on your vehicle).

Um...It could take a bit of driving around to hit a deer. Might cost me about $500 in gasoline, if I'm lucky :^)

Remember to pack a hacksaw. A resourceful master's student of mine (poor single mother) was thwarted in her attempts to load a large (150 lb) recently dead roadkill deer into her truck as it was too heavy and she had forgotten to put a hacksaw in her truck. It was midnight in winter on the highway between Regina and Saskatoon and her attempts to flag down a passing car for help in lifting it were unsuccessful (might have had something to do with the deer's blood on her ;^) It was that fresh. I like this student ;^)

Not to sound too gruesome, but a lot of times you won't kill them completely. I know of a story where A guy used a knife to finish off the deer, and a lot of times the cop/sheriff will have to dispatch it. There are a lot of whitetail around this area. Its rut season right now, so the bucks are going crazy. I like mine with a side of CWD ;0

If it wans't so serious what is happeing to the wold economy it would be cartoon funny.

Picture a cartoon character: gets up off the ground runs as fast as he can into a wall. Gets up off the ground runs as fast as he can into a wall. Gets up off the ground runs as fast as he can into a wall. rinse and repeat. Meanwhile next to the wall is a big sign saying. "Wall not passable due to high energy prices". Yes by this time the audience is howling with laughter. Except this time i'st the world business leaders and politicians that are being laughed at.

What is taking so long for the world to figure this out? really it's comical.


When all your life you've been told that the construction of just one more Moai Head will get the "infrastructure" moving again, it's hard to understand that the tree you just cut down "was" your infrastucture and now it's depleted.

How cognitive illusions blind us to reason

Why do Wall Street traders have such faith in their powers of prediction, when their success is largely down to chance? Daniel Kahneman explains how cognitive illusions skew our thinking

Cognitive illusions can be more stubborn than visual illusions.


Here is my response to the NYT article that I sent to a friend that asked me about it:

1. The book appears to have some serious errors.

2. "Mr. Lovins, a physicist, and staff members of his Rocky Mountain Institute as authors" appear to be more interested in making money by somehow offering hope for the future with alternate energy than giving us the truth about their futility. They should certainly understand and know that alternatives like wind and solar cannot be scaled up to compensate for oil depletion, or sustained.

3. So far I have not seen any comments about the book on theoildrum.com. Perhaps they feel it is not even worth mentioning. I will let you know if anyone there has other opinions.


This is his latest book, I suppose that is the one they are talking about.
The Essential Amory Lovins: Selected writings by Amory B. Lovins and Cameron Burns (Sep 19, 2011)

But I am with you, I do wish folks would give links so we would know what the hell they are talking about.

Edit: Oh, I just see from Jokuhl's post below that they were talking about Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era , a book published one month after The Essential Amory Lovins. My mistake, sorry.

Ron P.

The link is given above before the comments section:

Fossil Fuels as the Whale Oil of the Future

Lovins has done a pretty good job responding to the comments himself.

Here is just one of his replies within the comments..

Jonathanikatz and Kip Hansen, if you’ll kindly read our analysis, you’ll find the issues you describe are rigorously handled and documented.

The “intermittency” problem is already solved; Reinventing Fire’s Ch 5 documents how. (Start with Milligan et al’s primer, IEEE Power & Energy Magazine 80-99, Nov/Dec 2009, doi:10.1109/MPE.21009.934268.) Big thermal plants’ intermittency is at least as costly and hard to handle as wind and PVs’ forecastable variability—arguably more so. Coal and nuclear plants are down ~10-14% of the time, often losing a billion watts in milliseconds for weeks or months without warning. Renewable portfolios diversfied by type and location lack this ungraceful behavior; their output can be forecasted=; and they can be integrated with existing flexible demand- and supply-side resources. This economic-dispatch choreographysolves the problem you describe. That’s how four German states in 2010, for example, were 43-52% windpowered.

We simulated ERCOT (Texas) 86% variable renewables with air-conditioning ice storage, electric-vehicle distributed electric storage, and partial demand response. The other ≤14% can come from dispatchable renewables (all but wind and PV) or from e.g. feedlot gas burned in existing gas turbines.

Bulk electricity storage is generally not required for 80–100%-renewable electricity. (If it were needed, proven compressed-air storage is cheaper than batteries.)

Renewable sources were half the world’s 2008–10 capacity additions. Renewables excluding big hydro dams exceed the world’s installed nuclear capacity. In 2010 they got $151b of private investment and added 60 GW. By the end of 2011, the world will be able to make 60 GW/y of photovoltaics. The global PV industry has sustained 65%/y growth for the past five years. If that ramped down to a long-term 15%/y, U.S. PV output would pass total U.S. electricity use by ~2050, though in practice, wind and other renewables will take major shares too.


I think you'd need to back up your #1 and #2 by responding to much of what he has said here.

'The truth about their futility?' That will take some 'splainin', and if you're going to start by saying 'it's futile to get Renewables to replace all Oil', then I hope you will remember that this is not really what we need them to do, is it? In that case, it would simply be the futility of engaging once more in arguments built on misplaced assumptions. Just like a homeowner installing PV, we have to trim a lot of fat from our usage first, if we want to really make a dent in our FF dependence.

Renewables can keep some boats afloat, but it's not there to promise us waterskiing and club med.

'The truth about their futility?' That will take some 'splainin', and if you're going to start by saying 'it's futile to get Renewables to replace all Oil', then I hope you will remember that this is not really what we need them to do, is it?

Well yes, if you are listening to Amory Lovins, that is exactly what we need to do.

Amory Lovins On Creating A Prosperous Economy Without Oil, Coal, Or Nuclear

Amory Lovins, the chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute and the author of influential books like Winning the Oil Endgame and Natural Capitalism, is back with a new book--and this time, he's claiming that the U.S. can do the seemingly impossible: run an economy that's 158% larger by 2050 without any coal, oil, nuclear energy, or new inventions (and one-third less natural gas).

You see he is not just talking about the business as usual but greatly improving on business as usual, 158% larger economy than we have now. I do think that would include waterskiing and Club Med.

Folks read this article. It is amazing. According to Lovins we will get our energy from:
4% from hydro,
4% from hydrogen,
23% from non-cropland biofuels,
26% from natural gas and
43% from wind, solar and other renewables.

I think that 4% of the energy coming from hydrogen needs explaining.

Ron P.

Fair enough, Ron. Yes, Lovins does believe we can do this and keep growing.. but he also is very well prepared with his analysis, and aside from Safe Broad Swipes as above, I've yet to see someone land a specific punch on his analysis. At this point, I guess we'll have to see him defend his arguments, and see a detailed review of the book as was requested.

I still don't see an argument that explains that reference to 'The futility of Renewables' as a whole, nor have I seen anybody show concrete holes in his work. The comments below the article you linked to did, however, make very useful philosophical points about why I think renewables and an adjusted society would be probably achieving something using more like about 15% of the power we do today, a smaller population, a downshifting in our industrial civilization, while Lovins still feels it is able to go up by half again.

(my number is beyond a wild guess.. as is anyone's.. the point is that I would expect us to follow the oil curve down, until other things we use to support our lives 'comes up' in relation to that slide, and becomes the new supportable level.)

Jokuhl, I think you have put the cart before the horse. I think the claim that renewables can replace fossil fuel is indeed extraordinary. And extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Lovins simply states "non-cropland biofuels". What is he talking about? And he states "wind, solar and other renewables". Really now, what "other" renewables? What does "other" mean, corn ethanol perhaps?

As for holes in Lovins work, he says we will get 4% of our energy from hydrogen. That's one very big hole right there and that also gives you some idea as to the depth of his thinking. Earlier he had everyone generating their own hydrogen and generating such an excess of hydrogen that they would run their fuel cell with that hydrogen and sell the electricity to the grid.

Anyway there are articles all over the net debunking Amory Lovins and just about everything he has wrote. I have read perhaps only 10% of them, enough to realize that Lovins was just blowing smoke.
Here are just three of them.
Amory Lovins Misleads with Numbers by Arthur Smith
The Hypercar trip to energy neverland
Amory Lovins in the Buff

The Sovietologist's comment suggests why Lovins has never responded to Bradish. Simply put, Lovins, a college drop-out, is over his head in issues dealt with in Freshman economics.

Reading articles debunking Amory Lovins is a lot of fun but there are far, far too many of them to read in a month. But you should read just a few of them.

Ron P.

Thank you Ron. I passed your comments (giving you the recognition) to my friend, and to others.

The Bradish article is building their whole case on Jeavon's paradox, which conveniently uses US energy data in a period of continued BAU and cheap electricity, in order to 'Debunk' the notion that advantages can be derived from the more responsible use of electricity. That's a pretty selective debunking.

"If consumers are rational maximizers, the ability to produce a greater amount of satisfaction from consuming energy will, all other things remaining equal, increase energy use.

The Sovietologist's comment suggests why Lovins has never responded to Bradish. Simply put, Lovins, a college drop-out, is over his head in issues dealt with in Freshman economics."

It could be that Lovins had little or no interest in this threadbare, Undergrad level Debate. Nice tossing in the Ad-hom of the 'College Dropout', though. That raises your ante' a lot. Should we list all the college dropouts who were clearly unchallenged by university, and did far better outside its walls, or just leave it?

A 'challenge' doesn't equal a debunking.. and 'all other things' are not going to remain equal.

Nice tossing in the Ad-hom of the 'College Dropout', though. That raises your ante' a lot. Should we list all the college dropouts who were clearly unchallenged by university, and did far better outside its walls, or just leave it?

You could maybe lift a finger and report that Lovins started at Harvard, transferred to Oxford where he also got a Master's, but then did not pursue a PhD in Energy because Oxford did not consider that academic enough. I would not call that even close to a college drop-out.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are college dropouts.

"is over his head in issues dealt with in Freshman economics."

And of course most of 'Freshman economics' is ideological bs.

As usual, Darwinian has both feet planted firmly on the ground, whereas quite a few of the rest of us are floating away dreaming happy dreams, courtesy of Mr Lovins.

I have read some of Lovin's books-I can't remember which ones at the moment, it has been a long time.

I wasn't impressed.

He is a great visionary and a fine storyteller, but he couldn't earn a living as a prophet at a carnival sideshow. It is ironic that he is able to do so as a writer and the head of a think tank of sorts.

It just goes to show you that people will believe what they want to believe-a good many of us are able to come to intellectual grips with future resource realities, but emotionally most of us can't handle blood and guts, or grit and grime anymore.We've been getting our meat out of nice cellophane wrappers too long,and it has been too long since we had anything to do with any really useful work, physical work, as opposed to showing around paper and data.

This is not to say that engineers(for instance) don't do useful work, but rather that people who don't deal with physical reality on a regular basis are easily duped into believing things- which are only remote possibilities under the best of circumstances- can be easily accomplished.

Amory Lovins fails to take human nature into account in his prognisticating-this is, and has ever been, and will ever be, a fatal mistake.

Anyone who has even a remotely adequate grasp of the basic principles of biology which underlie agriculture, or a working knowledge of farming, should be able to see immediately that "non croplands biofuels " is a contradiction in terms in and of itself.If plants are harvested... duh... of course what he means, presumably, is EITHER that large sustainable yields of biomass can be harvested from lands not currently being farmed OR that biofuels will be produced in vast quantity in some sort of factory system located parhaps in a desert someplace.

In the first instance,it is simply not possible to harvest large quantitiues of biomass from any tract of land repeatedly without replacing the nutrients which are inevitably removed with each harvest;and furthermore, when such lands are marginal to begin with, in farming terms, the simple act of harvesting is apt to destroy the viability of the "crop" which is, remember, not a crop, since this is non crop land.

Mowing off a huge harvest of switchgrass for instance might work for a few years-but soon enough, the switchgrass will need serious constant attention, in terms of fertilizer,reseeding, insect and disease control, weed control, soil erosion, fire management, etc- just like a cornfield or wheatfield.Anyone who thinks otherwise is either ignorant of agricultural reality, or has skin in the game and is keeping his mouth shut for that reason.

There are more than a few professors of agriculture out there who are keeping their mouths shut in order to keep the grant money flowing.

It may eventually be possible to produce vast quantities of biofuels under factory like conditions, but the obstacles to doing so are so many and so formidable that it seems highly unlikely such fuels will ever be affordable;it is more likely that we will be able to manufacture synthetic fuels such as ammonia or hydrogen using wind power at a much lower cost.

Of course if space can be found near a city for the installation, and water and electricity to run it, it might be possible to burn the candle at both ends and manufacture a lot of syngas while at the same time cleaning up a lot of sewage.But there will be a firm upper limit on such a process, depending on the amount of organics available as inputs.That limit will never even remotely approach being adequate for a bau supply of gas.

Lovins is an interesting read, but he should be taken with a generous sprinkling of salt.

"not possible to harvest large quantities of biomass from any tract of land repeatedly without replacing the nutrients"

Thank you. Why do so many people miss this obvious fact? I suppose it is theoretically possible to extract the cellulose/sugars/starches which are relatively nutrient free and return the rest to the field either directly or after feeding it to livestock. But I seriously doubt that this is ever done.

"Mowing off a huge harvest of switchgrass for instance might work for a few years-but soon enough, the switchgrass will need serious constant attention, in terms of fertilizer,reseeding, insect and disease control, weed control, soil erosion, fire management, etc- just like a cornfield or wheatfield.Anyone who thinks otherwise is either ignorant of agricultural reality, or has skin in the game and is keeping his mouth shut for that reason."

I believe that these are some of the reasons behind the results of a recent UMN study that found that planting a variety of native grasses and forbs produces higher yield over time than just doing a monoculture of switchgrass--complete native communities have more resilience to diseases and other such problems than monocultures.

The fire problem would seem to be one of the toughest of those you mention. For the very same reason that they are good for fuel, dry prairie grasses 'fuel' terrific (or horrific, depending on your perspective) wildfires. Of course, any crop could burn if dry enough, but I would think these kinds of grasses would be particularly prone to fire.

"not possible to harvest large quantities of biomass from any tract of land repeatedly without replacing the nutrients"

Thank you. Why do so many people miss this obvious fact?

Largely, I suspect, because of Justus von Liebig's fanciful notion that all plants really need to thrive is measured doses of pure chemicals. The SOP of forcing plant growth by saturating the soil with natural and artificial NPK has eclipsed/obfuscated, in the minds of at least 2 generations now, the normal functioning of the soil nutrient cycle or food web. The whole "law of return" principle has been jettisoned.

Heck, we don't even return our own manure and urine to the fields. If we do ever think about using this valuable resource, we talk about converting it with methane digesters to get more fuel to burn. The manufacturing/mining mindset has taken over to the extent that cropland is seen as linear, a conveyor belt system, a one-way production line. Goods are "produced" and they go somewhere ("away"). Raw materials are freshly imported, constantly, to feed the line. Nothing returns.

Natural ecosystems of course are the exact opposite: nonlinear, complex and re-entrant. Everything returns -- modulo a few wildcard escapes like floating coconuts that travel the Pacific :-) -- and nothing is wasted. A modest surplus is produced and slowly compounds until a stable climax ecosystem endures for quite some time (absent a catastrophic event). Some climax ecosystems are unbelievably productive, far more so than any industrial monocrop acreage.

Anyway, to the technomanagerial mind there is no problem with Lovins' plan: of course we can harvest huge amounts of biomass to take far away and convert into liquid fuels -- the process of supplying the "line" with NPK, water, and other inputs is always considered trivial even while it is becoming less and less so (in cost and in negative externalities such as dead zones and aquifer depletion). The realistic probability of producing less liquid fuel than is required to keep feeding the input hopper doesn't even cross the radar...

and I echo the "thank you" OFM. reality cheque is in the mail :-)

Anyone who has even a remotely adequate grasp of the basic principles of biology which underlie agriculture, or a working knowledge of farming, should be able to see immediately that "non croplands biofuels " is a contradiction in terms in and of itself.

Just wanted to emphasise this point.

If we are harvesting plants from a piece of land that makes it cropland, by definition, the plants being harvested being the crop in question.

Additionally, if the land is good enough to produce enough biomass to be useful for fuel it is also good enough to grow food plants.

I haven't had a chance to look it all up, but do you guys really think he's using a term like that without having a description of what he means? Say what you want about his conclusions, but he doesn't toss these things out without any explanations.

From what I saw, 'Non-cropland Biofuels' would include biomass culled from the waste-stream, which is to say, it had already had it's uses and relationship or connection to any upstream Cropland initially accounted for in it's primary use, also that of Forest products, which is fair enough to distinguish from 'Cropland', while including it can be argued as well, and finally, 'manufactured' biofuels, like algae and such, which do not compete for topsoil and traditional food-producing acreage.

Good point, Johukl

We could salvage a good bit of fuel from existing waste streams, but thse streams are going to be shrinking as times get harder and materials get more expensive.Milk cartons for instance are only half as thick today as they were a few years ago, and excess packaging, throwaway bags and boxes, etc, will be things of the past in another decade, imo.

I haven't read Lovin's recent work myself, but I do see references to it , and his claims or predictions, from time to time.I have visted his website at long intervals.

It just does not seem possible to me that there is enough waste even now to make up such a large fraction of our fuel supply, and I have just about concluded that algae type biofuels, barring a genetic engineering breakthrough, are an economic dud.

For sure he is dead right about one thing;conservation and efficiency are going to be the "name of the game" in the not too far off future.

I give him full credit for being ahead of the curve in this respect.

I think that 4% of the energy coming from hydrogen needs explaining.

Ron, that hydrogen "source" has me baffled too.

Best hopes for someone to know where to drill for hydrogen.

23% from non-cropland biofuels

I'd like to know just how plans on achieving that, given that currently 0% of the liquid fuel used is from non cropland biofuels.

If we are not to use any of the existing cropland, and we can;t use cities/urban areas, then we are left primarily with forests, prairies and deserts.

It may be possible to get that amount of biofuels from forests, but at a cost of the forests themselves.

the dry prairies are just that - dry - and don;t grow much of anything - crops or other.

And deserts - well, good for solar PV maybe, but that's about it.

Given that there is not a single non-food biofuel operation in commercial scale (not demo or pilot) production today, going for 23% is a huge extrapolation on unproven technology.

But that is the sort of thing that Lovins seems to do.
Where are the hydrogen fuel cells he was gushing about a decade ago?

Does the distribution of energy source matter all that much. Isn't the real question HOW MUCH we are going to get. 26% of energy from natural gas isn't all that much if we only have 25% (for e.g.) of what we use today.

But he tells us HOW MUCH we are going to get Dspady! And that is 158% of what we use today. Our energy footprint is going way up. Instead of having 200 energy slaves we are going to have 516 energy slaves.

Errr wait. That don't account for the population increase between now and 2050. If we have 9 billion people then instead of 7 billion now then we would only have about 400 energy slaves compared to the 200 we have now.

Ron P.

You are right. I missed (or forgot) that little tidbit. But do you REALLY believe that we will be at 158% (more people or not). I have read enough of your posts to make me think that you don't believe that.


I did not say that I believed it, I said that is what Amory Lovins wrote. I haven't read anything he wrote about energy yet, that I believe.

Ron P.

One qualifier here. he said an *economy* 158% larger - but that does not necessarily mean 158% greater energy use. Given his penchant for efficiency (both real world things and tech dreams like H2) I am sure he is assuming large gains in energy efficiency.

Still, the whole thing is very pie in the sky, just like his hypercar.

I am sure he is assuming large gains in energy efficiency.

I understand it the same way as you do Paul.

With the efficiency gains he expects I would not be surprised but that the actual future energy use would be less than it is at present.

‘Car Guy’ Bob Lutz Wants Federal Gas Tax…To Pay for Trains!


OPEC oil supply falls in Oct-Reuters survey

OPEC oil output has fallen for a second month in October as reduced supplies from Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Angola offset a further rise in Libyan supply, a Reuters survey found on Monday.

Supply from all 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to average 29.59 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, down from a revised 29.90 million bpd in September, the survey of sources at oil companies, OPEC officials and analysts found.

Libyan output up but OPEC production down. The next Oil Market Report comes out November 9th with October OPEC production numbers. I expect that their September output will be revised downward a lot more. I had read somewhere that Saudi output was down 400 thousand bp/d in September but the OMR has them down only 122 thousand bp/d in Sep.

Ron P.

Panel says Wild Weather will Worsen

Freakish weather disasters - from the sudden October snowstorm in the Northeast U.S. to the record floods in Thailand - are striking more often. And global warming is likely to spawn more similar weather extremes at a huge cost, says a draft summary of an international climate report obtained by The Associated Press.

The final draft of the IPCC report from a panel of the world's top climate scientists paints a wild future for a world already weary of weather catastrophes costing billions of dollars. The report says costs will rise and perhaps some locations will become "increasingly marginal as places to live."

The report does say scientists are "virtually certain" - 99 percent - that the world will have more extreme spells of heat and fewer of cold. Heat waves could peak as much as 5 degrees hotter by mid-century and even 9 degrees hotter by the end of the century.

related Forecasting the fallout from natural disasters

and Wild weather worsening due to climate change, IPCC confirms

also IPCC AR5 WGII Presentations

I thought the Masters quote at the end quite telling. He said the basic findings seem to be proven true by actual events.

"In the U.S., this has been the weirdest weather year we've had for my 30 years, hands down."

Iran says oil over $100 a barrel is good

"The current oil prices are good ... we are not expecting the prices to change in winter," Iran's oil minister Rostam Qasemi told an oil conference.

"Before the (December) meeting, we will try to hold talks with other members to reach consensus on maintaining the OPEC production ceiling, especially now that Libyan crude has been resumed," he added.

OPEC's Badri doesn't see oil price falling below $100/b for 2011

"Assessments made show that the oil price will not fall from $100 per barrel by the end of the current year," Badri told a news conference in Tehran.

Badri, who is in Iran attending an oil and gas conference, did not say what price reference he was using. Brent crude oil futures traded at $107.85/b at 1011 GMT, down $1.71/b, while New York light sweet oil futures were down $2.42/b at $90.77/b.

Badri told Platts on October 12 that the 24.845 million b/d crude output target agreed in Oran, Algeria, in late 2008 was still valid and must be considered in any discussion of new production allocations at the oil producer group's December meeting.

Analysis: Asia to reap rewards of Brazil's crude export boost

Exports from Brazil, home to four of the world's largest oil finds in the past 10 years, will have to look for buyers in fast-growing Asia as the United States will use more of its own shale oil output toward the end of the decade, pushing West African imports back to Europe.

The Brazilian state oil firm expects to boost crude output to 3.9 million bpd by 2015 and 4.9 million bpd by 2020 from around 2 million bpd now, which would make Brazil one of the world's three largest oil producers.

'My students make twice my salary'

WILLISTON, N.D. (CNNMoney) -- Jim Stout, an English professor at Williston State College in Williston N.D., started losing some of his best students to the oil fields last year.

It was too hard to compete: The students could either spend thousands of dollars on a college education or earn $100,000 a year working on the rigs, performing maintenance on oil wells or driving trucks.

Only about one-third of Williston State College students graduated from the two-year associate's degree program last year, said Mike Hillman, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs with the North Dakota University System. That rate has stayed around 35% to 40% for the past few years, but Hillman said he expects it to plunge even lower this school year as students exit early for jobs.

Seraph, there was a story about Williston on the NBC Nightly News last night. A young unemployed gal got a teaching job there and her husband, an electrician, applied at four jobs and received 4 job offers within 2 hours.

Like they sing on the Beverly Hillbillies -- "Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea".

Yea, but try to find a place to live. Accommodations at New York OWS are better.

Older neighbor is working there, love to bring his wife of many yrs, but there's no place save tenting. Spent 30+ yrs as a logger, never an accident, one winter over there cleaning nodding donkeys and he's back with an icicle thru his hand. Lots of therapy, but he's back driving truck.

K - Just like every other boom time in the oil patch. The trick is to save your money because it doesn't last forever even though it seems like it will at the time. The next tip is to get good insurance coverage even if you have to pay for it yourself. Especially disability ins. The oil patch isn't that dangerous if you have experience and know what you're doing. But many of these hands are newbies. As Doug mentions below...accidents happen. A little over a year ago the father of my daughter's best friend was killed by a pump jack. And he was a very experienced hand but got careless for a few minutes. Not that the accident wasn't bad enough but he stopped on the way to church that Sunday morning and had his wife and daughter waiting in the truck for him. Scared the heck out of my daughter until I explained I didn't work with equipment like that.

Harry Smith (TV GUY) was on Brian Williams new program kick-off last night (a news "magazine") -- He did a big story on the the Bakkan (sp?) oil and I missed most of it, but tuned in soon enough to hear Harry tell Brian that it should keep us in oil for a long time to come-- paraphrased by me but definitely to that effect. My jaw dropped. He had been there, it seems and interviewed some folks and he thinks things are gonna be just fine. He was glowingly cheerful, as if his daddy had discovered gold in the back yard AND provided 500,000 jobs for desperate Americns. I betcha the Nightly News story was from that same visit and interviews. Oh, well...

His students are EARNING twice his salary.People major in fields such as English either because they enjoy the field, or because they are afraid of tougher fields-you can get out of almost any college or university with a degree in English without ever taking a course requiring brains.Scholarship is all that is required, as a rule.

I have been a teacher, and know several community college instructors, including one who is a sister of mine.

Maybe I am a bit backward in this respect, but I have always felt that people who major in such subjects as English and choose such careers as teaching should be think ab out these things ahead of time.

The work is important, without any doubt, it can be challenging, without a doubt, it can be frustrating sometimes, and if you are truly conscientious, it can be very time consuming.

But the percentage of truly dedicated teachers is frighteningly small.Anybody who believes otherwise is simply niave and a victim of the education industry propaganda machine.I very seriously doubt that the average English instructor at a community college averages twenty five hours a week of actual teaching work, including grading papers and preparing lessons.

The words "hard" and "hardship" simply don't apply to teaching.

I taught for some years myself,and devoted a lot of time to the job.

I wouldn't mind teaching again, if I could get assigned to a classroom full of college bound kids;I would have a great time and be a great teacher under such circumstances. Unfortunately, my (expired)certifications and courses are not the right ones for that, and anyway such assignments are mostly reserved for faithful well thought of old hands who have paid their dues in the trenches of the lower grades.

I know-the lectures and presentations get used over and over, year after year, while the sick leave,personal days, and holidays roll around in such profusion as to make "banker's hours" look like slave labor.

A teacher in almost any field these days can download enormous quantities of well prepared free materials, often posted by other teachers in exactly the same field, free for the taking.Textbooks are so full of practice problems, illustrations, and exercises that about all the teacher has left to do is go over the material in class.It is mostly par for the course these days to have an internet connection or at least a video library provided by the school system.It takes no more than a few seconds to run off handouts or a reading list, or to post it online, as nearly all community colleges do these days.

Need I mention that a full timer also gets a very generous benefits package and retirement plan, the details depending on which state he is in?

Now rolling out well before daylight and servicing construction equipment, or fixing it, or operating it, all day, with one designated ten or fifteen minute break and thirty minutes for lunch-off the clock for lunch-in nasty weather -now THAT IS HARD work.It is not remotely "fun " in the sense that say coaching an academic club after 3 pm can be fun.

Furthermore, there is little to no job security, generally no pension, damned few paid holidays, and a very real possibility of getting hurt, perhaps even killed.

I EARNED more money as a member of the Operating Engineers local out of Beckley operating heavy equipment while building I77 off Fancy Gap mountian than I did as a teacher before or after.We had three fatal accidents on that job.

Been both places, done both things, got both t shirts to prove it.

Ofm, rolling stone.

"Hence vain deluding joys
The brood of folly without father bred
How little you bestead
Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys
Dwell in some idle brain
And fancies fond with gawdy shapes possess
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sunbeams
Or likes hovering dreams
The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train."

Since English takes no brains, perhaps you could parse this for me.

And when you're done with that, try:

"Sithen the sege and assaut watz cesed at Troy
The burgh brittend and brent to brondes and askes
The tulk that the trammes of tresoun there wrought
Watz tried for his tricherie the trewest on erthe."


"Hwaet we Gardena on gear dagum
theodcyninga thrym gefrunon
hu tha athelingas ellen fremedon."

These are texts I regularly teach in the originals.

I am sure that there are teachers of English and other subjects that do not work as hard as they could, and I wouldn't want to compare any intellectual 'work' with hard physical labor; but I have been teaching for over twenty years and rarely have I come across anyone who doesn't work many more than 60 hours a week at their profession, a figure supported by numerous studies. I'm sorry to hear that your experience is different.

(By the way, the texts are from Milton's "Il Penseroso," Gawain and the Greene Knight, and Beowulf respectively.

Bravo !!

Please accept my apologies in reference to implying that English majors or teachers as a group are dimwitted;obviously this is not true.

All I can say by way of explaining this outburst on my part is that I had just gotten off the phone with an old friend who is a teacher, who is carrying a chip on his shoulder in respect to his earnings and belabored me with his hardships.

He doesn't realize it, but he is far , far better off , financially, than I am.Pride has kept me from informing him of this embarrassing fact, but I have far less income than he does, no pension in my future, and only modestcatastrophic health insurance until i hit Medicare in the near future.This is of my own doing of course-just as I have spent my life doing as I pleased, when I pleased, without too much thought for the future, which has arrived.

But insofar as studies go, you can fimd as many as you like proving just about anything you like.

I suggest that anyone who doubts my claims park near the faculty lot at any public school and make note of the arrival times and departure times of the teachers as a group, and then ask themselves if they really think they are working another twenty to thirty hours on their own time , week in and week out.

Coaches are the only major exception to this rule.

Every teacher I know currently working in a high school , barring a couple, spends about five hours a day actually teaching classes.

I have never taken a course in the history of languages, and know just barely enough Latin and German terms to make sense of the languages of the physical sciences-most of the time.I keep a technical dictionary handy as needed for the ones I don't know.

I can't accurately translate even the first passage you quote into modern English, but it seems to be that the speaker is chastizing the listener in respect to having not a serious thought of any sort in his empty head; his head is stuffed with vain and frivilous thoughts and values.

I expect that I could get it more or less right if I were to make a reasonable study of late Middle (?) English;and that I could learn to do this in considerably less time than I learned for instance basic college level chemistry.

The next one is harder, but just for fun:

Since the ending of the siege and assualt of Troy,

with the city in ruins(guess work based on context: brinttend, brent and brone and askes might root words of brittle, broken, and ashes or similar words, burgh is a root for community or city )

Somebody has been accused of the lowest form of treachery and treason perhaps, the worst imaginable, the lowest on Earth

The last passage -now that one I haven't a clue. I haven't a clue!

I'm willing to bet that you have had students do worse the first day of class. ;-)

but I have far less income than he [the teacher] does, no pension in my future, and only modest catastrophic health insurance until I hit Medicare in the near future.This is of my own doing of course

No OFM, tis' not thy fault alone but also that of the star teachers who taught you nonsense noise stackings in place of physics:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

All too true about studies, and you did marvelously well on your interpretations.

Do keep in mind that much of what we do, we do at home--grading papers take hours of uninterrupted time. I often choose to do this task from about one in the morning to six, I time I can be fairly sure there will be no phone calls or other interruptions. Time in front of class is only a part of the total time it takes to teach. Besides grading papers, tests, quizzes, etc., there is time meeting with individual students, planning class, keeping up with material, keeping up with the field, department and institutional meetings and other responsibilities...

But all in all, it is among the most satisfying of professions.

What do you think of the Khan Academy approach?

Lethal non-lethals, the potential to turn private sector homeland security loose on OWS, and other matters

The last decade, as well spawning many bad big things, gave birth to entire industries devoted to making bad, if only in ways a magnitude smaller or so than economic collapse.

Chief among these was the private-sectoring of homeland security.

... What to do if you’re in the business of counter-terrorism in, say, a place like Pennsylvania? And there just aren’t enough jihadists around to fill a decent report for the state government client. Answer: Reclassify democratic activity as trouble. Problem solved!

Information about an anti-BP candlelight vigil, a gay and lesbian festival and other peaceful gatherings became the subject of anti-terrorism bulletins being distributed by Pennsylvania’s homeland security office, an apologetic Gov. Ed Rendell admitted

In another posting, the company’s Terrorism Research bulletin, entitled “Actionable Intelligence Briefing,” reads: “Ecological activists in [San Francisco, Phoenix, Tuscon and Sonora} will be protesting the intent of Mexico to build a toxic waste dump on land belonging to the O'odham Indians."

Other "domestic/eco-terror alert" entries include notes on protests of the Bank of America bailout scheduled for Senator Dianne Feinstein's office, "a protest march ... held by people opposed to the closing of some schools in New York City

The anti-terrorism briefing booklet makes a practice of classifying people and groups who protest corporate activities as anarchists.

"Working with organizations that refuse to surrender their domestic or international operations to terrorism," reads the pamphlet.

Terrorism, in this case, seeming to broadly rope in constitutionally protected activities contrary to the interests of corporate and government clients.

Cost to taxpayers = $125,000

It's real. J.Edgar's ghost on steriods.

I've been linking these kinds of things in my Updates for quite a while. It's only going to get worse.


Brazil not capable of supplying "advanced biofuels" requirement:

Under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard, U.S. oil companies must blend into standard fuel 2 billion gallons (7.58 billion liters) of “advanced biofuels” next year, Alejandro Zamorano Cadavid, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York, said today in a telephone interview.

Advanced biofuels must emit at least 50 percent less carbon dioxide than the petroleum-based products they replace, through their entire life cycle, including growing the crops, processing it into fuel and transporting it to the gas pump. Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol meets that standard, while U.S. corn-based ethanol does not, he said.


Tuesday evening's report from the API indicates that overall commercial oil supplies fell significantly last week. However please note the API and EIA surveys differ some times, and in the last few weeks, the differences were greater than normal, with the API showing higher gains than the EIA last week.

Usually at this time of year, there is a seasonal inventory accumulation in advance of the winter heating season.

Nov. 1, 2011, 4:55 p.m. EDT
Oil ends lower on Europe jitters

Investors waited for official word on oil inventories, with the American Petroleum Institute reporting a decline of 156,000 barrels of crude oil in the week ended Oct. 28.

The trade group also reported a decline of 3.4 million barrels of distillates stocks and a drop of 1.1 million barrels of gasoline stockpiles in the same week.

Official data from the Energy Information Administration is expected at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Analysts polled by Platts expect to see an increase in crude-oil inventories by 1.1 million barrels, and a decline in gasoline inventories by 1.5 million barrels. Stockpiles of distillates are seen down 2.2 million barrels.


Ammonia leak at San Onofre nuclear plant prompts emergency alert

An ammonia leak prompted officials to declare a Level-Two emergency at the San Onofre nuclear power plant and evacuate some workers, officials said.

The leak posed no danger to the public, and no radiation was released during the emergency, said Lauren Bartlett, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison.

Under federal regulations, there are four emergency levels, depending on the severity of the situation. Level Two involves any "potential substandard degradation in the level of safety of the plant."

Late evening news item on CNN:

The US military has just released a report about their concern over the USA dependence/overdependence on oil as a possible threat to national security:

Generals push 30% oil consumption cut

This could very well be a flea-flicker play. Act like the drawing of an oil tanker on Bin Laden's desk is the terrorist concern, when in fact these retired generals have had enough time now to understand peak oil and are declaring the need for a reduction in consumption of 30%, because they see a constrained oil future ahead. From their perspective it's always easier to galvanize the public with fear of terrorism, rather than the semi-intellectual barrier that must be breached in order to get people to understand what peak oil means. Better to just go for the lizard brain jugguler.

Don't think anything at this point can penetrate the morass of the masses regarding limits to growth. It's just presumed to be part of the fabric of space and time that 'more is good' and 'where is more?'

Do Tanks and Armored personnel carriers run on NG ? If I recall correctly Russia is already building a commercial aircraft that runs on NG. I don't have any links though.

Russia flew a modified twin jet aircraft on both liquid H2 and LNG back in 1988.

The link, with a good technical explanation, is here:


Interesting concept for a two engine prop plane for short haul flights - would make for substantial cost savings given today's oil and NG prices.

Given the improvements in insulation and storage for cryogenic liquids, I wonder how much better it would be today?
Setting up LNG compressors at airports would be easy, and they could even use the waste heat of compression for space heat, hot water, etc.
could be quite an efficient system, but I doubt it will never happen.

You could run tanks and APC's on NG, or dual fuel them with it, but consider the logistics of supplying and handling NG to a mobile forward operating area - what a nightmare!

Better to reduce diesel use at the base by more use of solar/wind/waste energy, and make the vehicles as efficient as possible.

Better yet would be to not engage in so many military adventures, but that's another story altogether, which the generals didn;t seem to address.

Better yet would be to not engage in so many military adventures, but that's another story altogether, which the generals didn;t seem to address.

Speaking of not so many military adventures, here's a very entertaining, funny and informative youtube video about the history of oil.

Robert Newman's history of oil


Particularly liked the early part regarding why WWI was fought.

I've had this section from Newman ringing in my ears this week...

"The G-8 has today endorsed an American plan to Bring Democracy to the Middle East!"
The level of naivete' necessary before you can talk about '..an American plan to Bring Democracy to the Middle East..' , you will not find that level of Naivete' anywhere - outside of 1970's Porno Films.. "Gee Mister, you mean the Time Machine only works if I take off all my clothes?"... "

Puts me in mind of lines by a different Newman:


I'm not so sure about operating LNG compressors at airports. They're certainly not easy to operate. In theory it sounds like an easy concept (hey it's just a giant dehumidifier!), in practice it's very difficult to manage the coldboxes and MR mixes during temperature swings and various upsets. I'm also not certain about the daily liquid fuel requirements for your average airport, but even a small 15mmscfd liquefaction system requires about 6-7 MW to operate. And if it's pipeline gas then there's the front-end clean-up, regen system, and all the trucking and logistics that goes along with it, not to mention the environmental permitting and emissions requirements.

No doubt it's doable but I'd have to see a cost analysis as I'm skeptical. I'd think for an airport you'd have everything but the planes be electric and then just run a small cogen unit for power. Then again if there was no jet fuel available for any price then LNG would seem to be better than trying to use algae or some other biofuel scheme.

Well, you would have to do a thorough engineering study on this, bnut I think it has some positive attributes - as long as we assume air travel will continue, and it is desired to keep it continuing.

Firstly, most airports will already have a high capacity gas connection - probably at a higher pressure level than ordinary distribution.

The size of the plant will depend on how many planes need to be fuelled. Here is where the airports have a real advantage. Lets say airline X wants to run LNG planes between airports A &B. An LNG plant can be sized accordingly (maybe a bit larger, but if the planes need X you might build 2X. but not 10X).
The plant can run at night on cheap off peak electricity, and the reject heat goes into the buildings.

Only one LNG truck would be needed to deliver to the planes, until there is enough use to justify a pipe system direct. LNG trucks are not that expensive.

There would need to be the same at the other end, of course, but that's OK.

You would end up with a system of two LNG plants, and planes that fly back and forth between them - all the equipment would be getting used every day, so the ROI would be quite good.

According to this site, a 737 doing a 500km trip will use 2000kg of fuel, carrying 156 passengers;

The LNG equivalent is 90GJ, or 88MMbtu, or 88mscf. so your 15mmscf plant will produce enough for 170 500km flights per day.

The cost difference on the raw fuel purchase would be $330k/day for jet fuel and $ 70k/day for NG, so you have $260k/day, or $95million per year to pay for cost of the LNG equipment, electricity etc.

Alternatively, it will save $ 1530 per flight, or $10/seat, before the LNG costs

Would that be enough? I don;t know, probably not for whoever goes first.

Now, if I was in the railroad business, where LNG tank cars already exist, and you don;t have aviation rules etc to deal with, and the locomotives can run on diesel if they run out of LNG, then I think LNG would be looking pretty damn good.

Dumbest newspaper headline of the day from The Telegraph: "Markets rise after Greek PM wins support for EU bailout referendum".

Only yesterday the Telegraph was telling us:

Greece's startling decision to call a referendum on last week's EU summit deal has set off wild tremors across the eurozone, pushing Italy to the brink of a perilous downward spiral.

Ah! now we're told: "Markets reverse early rally as jitters return over Greece and eurozone".

With such incoherent babble being presented as financial analysis of the current crisis, our destiny with an immovable object can't be too far ahead.

Babble is to be expected especially when journalists are facing the incomprehensible gibberish of the European financial fiasco. November 1 edition of the Automatic earth touched on this very subject, The Collapse of the Tower of Financial Babel.

The unclear language is intended for subterfuge. MSM and other gullible public relations machines fall prey.

Do actions speak larger than words?
I mentioned the other day Tony Blair setting up shop in Kazakhstan.
London is seeing at the moment a fairly amiable legal squabble (er ... why London?) between two Russian oligarchs over a few billion dollars.
'Oligarch' seems to equate with putting together winning ploys when collapse has opened up the field.
Any suggestions for candidate oligarchs for our post-denoument time? As in 'celebrity oligarchs' to watch out for? Will owning renowned soccer teams still be a crowning trophy scheme to go for?

We wuz talking earlier, on some other thread in a galaxy far far away, about the brain's insistence on manufacturing narratives to connect images and facts.

I suspect that a lot of these silly headlines are this kind of response. Both the public and the writers have brains that are wired to seek a coherent narrative in observed facts. Maybe this goes all the way back to "gee, that stand of grass just waved slightly and yet there is no breeze, I wonder if there could be a predator in there somewhere?" -- the ability to construct explanatory narratives for observed phenomena is a survival characteristic. But whatever -- whether dreaming or awake, our brains want facts to be part of a story, a cause/effect chain, a pattern. We abhor randomness so much that we even perceive patterns in carefully randomised data.

I think these headlines ward off the existential panic that humans feel when confronting chaos, particularly chaos in large powerful forces that could crush us like ants :-) we really need to believe that "the markets" respond in some predictable or explicable way to events. The idea that they lurch about randomly, driven by whim, herd instinct, fear, feedback loops and sheer chance, is too frightening to contemplate. So we like to believe that when the market goes up it is "because of" something, and when it goes down likewise. We also like to believe that if there are causes to these market movements, they are visible and public (not, for example, choreography and machination by inside traders whose shenanigans we will never know, or could never understand if they are eventually exposed).

So I'm chalking up the incoherent babble to brain wiring, not much different from the deeply felt need by earlier people to find outlines of people and animals in the stars, attribute thunder and lightning to an angry divinity, and tell long complicated stories about How We Got Here. From two on up, we wanna know Why, and we don't like "Just Because."

ps I am also convinced actually that much of what happens on battlefields and in war generally is pure randomness and chaos, with narratives of purpose and strategy imposed on it later by the winners. but it's just a hunch I have.

brains that are wired to seek a coherent narrative

Have you read "The Black Swan" by Nassim Taleb?

(that's what he say's as a Wall Street insider-- spinning false narratives day in and day out)


I think this may be part of our problem.

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