Drumbeat: January 28, 2012

BP emails reveal company veiling spill rate estimates from well even as rig sank

NEW ORLEANS — On the day the Deepwater Horizon sank, BP officials warned in an internal memo that if the well was not protected by the blow-out preventer at the drill site, crude oil could burst into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 3.4 million gallons a day, an amount a million gallons higher than what the government later believed spilled daily from the site.

The email conversation, which BP agreed to release Friday as part of federal court proceedings, suggests BP managers recognized the potential of the disaster in its early hours, and company officials sought to make sure that the model-developed information wasn’t shared with outsiders. The emails also suggest BP was having heated discussions with Coast Guard officials over the potential of the oil spill.

Oil Increases This Week as Gasoline Surges, Greece Nears Debt Agreement

Oil climbed this week as gasoline jumped to the highest level since August and amid signs Greece is near an agreement with its creditors.

Futures rose 1.1 percent this week after gasoline surged on speculation that refinery outages and plant closures will cut supplies. Olli Rehn, the European Union’s commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said an agreement is “very close” on private-sector involvement in a Greek debt swap.

Refinery closings could push gasoline prices back to $4

Gasoline prices could be edge higher this spring, thanks to the bankruptcy of a European refiner, the industry's latest casualty.

The U.S. east coast already sees the threat of a temporary spike in gasoline to $4 or more per gallon for the summer driving season and could pay some of the highest prices in the nation, due to the shutdown of refining capacity in that market.

Exxon to sell large part of Tonen stake for about $3.9 bln-sources

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil plans to sell a large part of its 50 percent stake in TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK back to its Japanese refining partner in a deal that could be worth about 300 billion yen, and will make an announcement as early as Monday, four sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Exxon Mobil will retain about a 20 percent stake in TonenGeneral but the deal will mark a de facto retreat from the world's third-largest economy by the U.S. oil giant, which is focusing its resources on emerging markets and development of natural resources.

Kazakhstan’s embattled opposition holds rare rally in nation’s largest city

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Hundreds of opposition supporters protested the results of recent elections and the violent suppression of an oil workers protest at a demonstrationi Saturday in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital.

Arab League halts observer mission in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — The Arab League halted its observer mission to Syria on Saturday, sharply criticizing the regime of President Bashar Assad for escalating violence in recent days that has killed at least 80 people across the country.

The rising bloodshed has added urgency to new attempts by Arab and Western countries to find a resolution to the 10 months of violence that according to the United Nations has killed at least 5,400 people as Assad seeks to crush persistent protests demanding an end to his rule.

US Embassy: US citizen kidnapped in Nigeria freed

Foreign firms have pumped oil out of the delta for more than 50 years. Despite the billions flowing into Nigeria's government, many in the delta remain desperately poor, living in polluted waters without access to proper medical care, education or work.

IAEA team heads to Iran to seek nuclear answers

VIENNA (Reuters) - Senior United Nations nuclear inspectors headed to Tehran on Saturday to press Iranian officials to address suspicions that the Islamic state is seeking atomic weapons.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency hopes Iran, which has indicated readiness to discuss the issue for the first time since 2008, will end years of stonewalling on intelligence pointing to an intention to develop nuclear arms technology.

Iran Says It Could Terminate European Oil Sales Next Week

Escalating retaliatory threats over the West’s nuclear sanctions, Iran warned on Friday that it could terminate oil sales to Europe as early as next week, and it bluntly advised Arab oil producers that any attempt by them to replace Iranian exports would be considered unfriendly.

Iran Oil Curbs Extend to 95% of Tankers in EU Insurance Rules

(Bloomberg) -- European Union sanctions on Iranian oil will extend to about 95 percent of tankers because they are insured under rules governed by European law.

Arab Gulf States Urged to Increase Pipelines After Iran's Oil Threats

As Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz intensify, some energy experts are calling on Arab Gulf states to find alternative ways to export their petroleum. Experts differ, however, on whether proposed pipelines are economically feasible or whether Iran will follow through with its threats.

Nearly 40 percent of seaborne traded oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean and is bordered by Iran and Oman. Iran is threatening to block the route. Any closure of the strategic waterway would likely send oil prices soaring and have a significant impact on the global economy.

Iran oil boss cautious on impact of EU embargo

(TEHRAN) - The National Iranian Oil Company has no firm projection of the impact on world crude prices of a looming EU embargo on Iranian exports, its managing director said in comments published on Saturday.

Ahmad Qalebani told the government newspaper Iran that the size of any hike in prices would depend on the European Union's success in finding alternative output to make up for Iranian deliveries lost to the market.

"One cannot have an accurate prediction of prices, but it seems that in the future we will witness 120 to 150 dollars a barrel," Qalebani said.

EU May Tap Oil Reserves After Iran Embargo Imposed in July, Oettinger Says

Some European Union countries may tap their strategic oil reserves after an EU embargo cuts Iranian exports from July, the bloc’s Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.

“We have enough storage capacities,” Oettinger said in an interview today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “It is feasible,” he said, referring to the release of stockpiles.

El Segundo, Chevron at odds over oil company's taxes

El Segundo wants to hike taxes on the Chevron refinery, but the oil company — and many residents — are resisting.

Scientists Beg Obama To Slow Arctic Drilling Rush

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced he would push forward with new offshore drilling — which includes the pristine waters of the Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, and Cook Inlet off Alaska’s coast. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wrote a report in June 2011 that described dozens of areas that required further scientific research before taking the risks of disrupting the unique ecosystems on behalf of the oil industry. Now, nearly 600 scientists from around the world have signed an open letter urging President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to base Arctic drilling decisions on science, not politics.

Obama loves oil — Not!

Nothing more clearly indicates U.S. President Barack Obama’s economic muddledom and ideological stubbornness than the dog’s breakfast of energy policies revealed in Tuesday’s State of the Union address. The good news is that hydrocarbons are back (as long as you forget Keystone XL). The bad news is that “clean” energy isn’t going away. Instead it’s “all of the above.”

Resist the pipeline and find a new, greener way

Many Kansas and Nebraska residents, including Nebraska’s governor and state representatives, oppose the pipeline because it would traverse the Ogallala Aquifer, the main source of drinking water in the Upper Midwest, and threaten the beautiful and sensitive Sand Hills area. Haunted by the 2010 Gulf oil spill, many worry about a leak that could have disastrous consequences in local areas.

But the danger runs much deeper.

New York’s Fracking Deliberations Inch Along

In yet another sign that New York has slowed efforts to green-light fracking of natural gas, officials at the state Department of Environmental Conservation canceled a meeting of a drilling advisory panel this week for a second time.

There will be oil

So, now that North Dakota is poised to pump oil at the rate of an OPEC country, can we at last retire the notion that the world is in the clutches of “peak oil”?

How Not To Argue That We’re Running Out Of Oil

I made a New Year’s resolution to spend less time on this blog explaining why other people are wrong.

But New Year’s resolutions are meant to be broken — and some things just beg for intervention. That’s unfortunately the case with “Oil’s Tipping Point Has Passed”, an essay in the current issue of Nature by James Murray, an oceanographer at the University of Washington, and David King, a chemist who was chief scientific advisor to Tony Blair and now heads the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford.

Peak Oil: Preaching to the Laupahoehoe Choir

Last night, I spoke at the Laupahoehoe Community Association meeting and shared the perspective I have gained from watching the world oil supply subject evolve over a short five years.

I related how I have attended four Peak Oil conferences, most recently as Hawai‘i County's representative. The first thing I learned was that the world has been using twice as much oil as it has been finding for 20 to 30 years – a trend that continues.

Extra scrutiny urged on design of Hanford nuke-waste plant

WASHINGTON – A federal oversight panel is raising new concerns to the Department of Energy about potentially serious flaws in the design of a first-of-its-kind, $12 billion waste treatment plant that is being built for the nation's largest radioactive cleanup.

What Sweden can teach us about nuclear waste

Last year, the Energy Department set up a commission to figure out what to do with the country’s nuclear waste after a planned repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain was nixed. This week, the commission came back and advised a “consent-based approach” to choosing a new site. How would this work?

Chugoku Electric shuts Shimane No. 2 reactor, leaving Japan with only 3 reactors online

TOKYO — Chugoku Electric Power Co on Friday took its 820-megawatt No. 2 reactor at its Shimane nuclear plant offline for planned maintenance.

The shutdown leaves only three reactors operating in Japan out of a total of 54, as public concerns about safety in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have prevented the restart of reactors shut down last year for maintenance.

California orders hike in number of super clean cars

California, long a national leader in cutting auto pollution, pushed the envelope further Friday as state regulators approved rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and put significantly more pollution-free vehicles on the road in coming years.

The package of Air Resources Board regulations would require auto manufacturers to offer more zero- or very low-emission cars such as battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles in California starting with model year 2018.

Electric-Car Use to Reach Tipping Point in 2015, Better Place’s Ofer Says

Better Place LLC, a U.S. startup developing charging stations for electric vehicles, predicts the “tipping point” for electric car use will come as soon as 2015, Chairman Idan Ofer said today.

“The fact is that because we are making it convenient for customers and the moment people realize there is no disadvantage to owning an electric car” they will buy the models, Ofer said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Davos, Switzerland.

Solar CEOs Predict Boom in China Will Ease Glut in 2012: Energy

China may double its installations of solar panels this year, absorbing excess production that depressed prices and margins in 2011, chief executive officers from two of the industry’s top five manufactures said.

EPA Rejects Palm-Oil Based Biodiesel for Renewable Fuels Program

The Environmental Protection Agency said that biodiesel made from palm oil doesn’t meet the requirements to be added to its renewable fuels program because its greenhouse-gas emissions are too high.

In a regulatory filing today, the EPA said that palm-oil biodiesel, which is primarily produced in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, provides reductions of as much as 17 percent in greenhouse-gas emissions compared to traditional diesel fuel, falling short of a 20 percent reduction necessary to qualify under the law.

Spain Suspends Subsidies for New Renewable Energy Power Plants

Spain halted subsidies for renewable energy projects to help curb its budget deficit and rein in power-system borrowings backed by the state that reached 24 billion euros ($31 billion) at the end of 2011.

“What is today an energy problem could become a financial problem,” Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria said in Madrid. The government passed a decree today stopping subsidies for new wind, solar, co-generation or waste incineration plants.

Midwest utility to shut coal-burning power plants

AKRON, Ohio -- FirstEnergy Corp. on Thursday said it will retire six coal-fired power plants, including four in Ohio, because of stricter federal anti-pollution rules.

The six older and dirtier plants will be closed by Sept. 1.

Racing Up (and Down) the Performance Index

Watching the rankings of countries by environmental performance over the last six years has been an occasion for admiration, mingled with bursts of skepticism and even disbelief. It is seldom a surprise that Scandinavian countries occupy at least four spots in the top 15, given their lauded environmental sensibilities (excepting, perhaps, Norwegian whalers and Danish fishermen).

But it was always a surprise to someone who lived in the former Soviet Union that Russia, whose Communist forebears oversaw the dewatering of the Aral Sea, the emergence of pervasive air pollution in cities like Dniepopetrovsk and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, ranked just a few notches below the United States — or in one case, above — in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 Yale and Columbia’s Environmental Performance Index.

Activists Crack China’s Wall of Denial About Air Pollution

But faced with an Internet-led brush fire of criticism, the edifice of environmental propaganda is collapsing. The government recently reversed course and began to track the most pernicious measure of urban air pollution — particulates 2.5 microns in diameter or less, or PM 2.5. It decreed that about 30 major cities must begin monitoring the particulates this year, followed by about 80 more next year.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection also promised to set health standards for such fine particulates “as soon as possible.” Last week, after years of concealing its data on such pollutants, Beijing began publishing hourly readings from one monitoring station.

Striking right balance for clean energy

Malaysia’s rich endowment of oil and natural gas has powered the country’s development for decades. However, this resource is fast depleting and global prices have risen to unprecedented levels. The country is challenged to meet burgeoning local demand for oil and gas.

Re: How Not To Argue That We’re Running Out Of Oil

Groan! Another economist trying to discuss geology, and on an arch conservative site as well. Great place to start a day's discussions, although I would rather be discussing the Newt's Moon Base lunacy...

E. Swanson

I did notice that, while he tore down the facts and figures in the "Nature" article, he provided none of his own. I guess we are to take his rebuttal on faith.

As for the proposed lunar base, here is a discussion of feasibility at PJ Media. One of the premises appears to be that the moon has enough of its own water to make a base "sustainable". Hmmm... I might also point out that PJ Media is center-right-leaning.

Apparently, also, Newt would like to make this base a US State. That might not sit well with Russia and China.

I read the PJ media article, and it is not really bad, as articles go (At least it is not mindless cheer-leading for the concept), but the article is not very deep either.

The article asserts 'there aren't any show stoppers', then right after that it states this:

No show stoppers have ever been found, though we still don’t really understand how to operate in such a harsh environment, particularly the moon dust, which Apollo astronauts described as a real problem, getting into everything and likely to create maintenance issues in precision machinery, or clog up cooling fans.

Umm, yes, I have read articles asserting that the lunar dust is presently a show-stopper...the dust particles are tiny shards, almost like glass dust...it gets into equipment, and more worrisome, the particle size is such that it can get into the lungs into the smallest passages and stray there, potentially causing damage. Articles I have read make allusions to Black Lung (from coal mining) or asbestos exposure regarding potential health risks. Very careful (read expensive) engineering would need to be developed and /maintained/ over the life of the base in the area of air lock and space suit and body decontamination.

To me the biggest shortfall of this article, and Newt's defense of the Moon Base idea in the last debate, is the lack of a 'why'...no cost/benefit analysis.

Newt seems stuck on this base fear mongering of saying 'I do not want the next flag planted on the Moon being Chinese, instead of American'.

Uhhh, sorry, but I would be rather unconcerned about the Chinese landing Taikonauts on the Moon 50+ years after the U.S> accomplished the same feat. If the Chines accomplished such a feat, tip of my hat to them, as far as it goes. Then they are stuck with the same dilemma we had: 'OK, now what?' 'Gee, this endeavor is mighty expensive...what justifies our allocation of scarce resources to doing any further expansion of this Moon exploration idea?'

The only way I think such a /long-term/ Moon base could be funded would be with a global consortium. But again, to what end?

The "Why?" is a very interesting question.

When nations embark on an effort like that, it is either for the purposes of conquest, or the pursuit of the greater good, or the furtherance of knowledge, or all of the above.

When private enterprises pursue it, it is for the purpose of profit.

Since the main idea is, apparently, for private enterprise to pursue it, instead of the taxpayer (at least, initially), one might ask where they believe they can profit. I doubt tourism is going to take off anytime soon, unless the handful of people able to afford the ticket all book trips.

If the government/corporate complex pursues it, one can envision the taxpayer bearing the cost while the corporation reaps the benefit.

Of course, a crazy billionaire might fund it just so he can own the real estate, and put his name on it. Every day he could look up at it and say "I own that". Yeesh...

Coca Cola sign on the Mare Imbrium, anyone ?

Robert Heinlein considered this long time ago. The man who sold the Moon Clever,but never gained much traction

That's because ..THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS....

Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

The Martian.

Yeah, when someone from Mars says a place is a dump, best to listen.

Moon has a lot of Helium-3

The Moon's crust likely has more He-3 than the Earth's crust, but the characterization of 'a lot' may mislead some folks into thinking that He-3 extraction from the Moon's crust would be easier than what would be the case bounded by reality.

From Wikipedia article on He-3:

Materials on the Moon's surface contain helium-3 at concentrations on the order of between 1.4 and 15 ppb in sunlit areas,[40][41] and may contain concentrations as much as 50 ppb in permanently shadowed regions.[3] A number of people, starting with Gerald Kulcinski in 1986,[42] have proposed to explore the moon, mine lunar regolith and use the helium-3 for fusion. Because of the low concentrations of helium-3, any mining equipment would need to process extremely large amounts of regolith (over 150 million tonnes of regolith to obtain one ton of helium 3),[43] and some proposals have suggested that helium-3 extraction be piggybacked onto a larger mining and development operation.

Additionally, we are not close to perfecting He-3 - D fusion for commercial power plant applications.

The Moon's He-3 will stay put and be available to us if and when we have the technology to use it and mine it such that we have a net energy gain in the whole 'soup-to-nuts' process (mining-to-power production chain).

Until then, I would rather see our scarce NASA dollars spent on unmanned robotic solar system exploration probes, and advanced space telescopes.

I agree that there are better projects to allocate funding to, like the ones you mention. I would also like to see research in how to focus in on exoplanets and possibly see their chemical makeup or presence of an atmosphere. We now know there are millions/billions of them out there; the next step is to find out if they could harbor life (intelligent or otherwise). I don't ever expect humans to make the trip, but if we could find life on a planet less than one-hundred light years away, we could have a a new pen pal.


As much as I value practicality, I make exception for my interest in astronomy and cosmology.

We have the mans to construct instruments to support 'big thinking' to pursue these great questions about the Universe...at a cost and complexity far, far lower than trying to implement Moon and Mars colonies, sending people to the far reaches of the solar system, or to Alpha Centauri, etc.

Now, if we developed solid evidence that one or more stars within ~ 20 LYs had one or more habitable planets, as deduced from having a suitable temp profile and a highly oxygenated atmosphere, that would be a game-changer, in that we may be inspired to send one or more probes to these planets, followed by an effort to send humans, if the habitability claims pan out.

an effort to send humans

At that stage of human development - why send humans at all?

Why not send DNA or even the instructions to make humans from DNA machines, grow them in artificial wombs and have them raised by robots who's goal it is to provide a consistent loving environment?

What a brave new world such would be!

LOL! I could just see these lovingly raised little humans emerging into the environment of their new found planet only to be eaten by some big alien life form! Yum, crunch, crunch, munch...

Do not worry - The robotic killing machines are already deployed.

See "Surface Tension" by James Blish:

[Surface Tension] gives another example of a culture of adapted humans: A pantropy starship crashes on an ocean world, Hydrot, which is on orbit around Tau Ceti. With no hope for rescue, the few survivors modify their own genetic material to seed microscopic aquatic "humans" into the lakes and puddles of the world and leave them a message engraved on equally scaled metal plates. The story then tells how over many seasons, the adapted human newcomers explore their aquatic environment, make alliances, invent tools, fight wars with hostile beings and finally gain dominance over the sentient beings of their world.

Why? If we don't, Islamofascists will build a mosque up there.

Elements for a Sustainable Lunar Colony in the South Polar Region

...Cultural and religious activity may offer yet another avenue to relieve the stress associated with isolation and the fear of being in an extremely constrained, alien environment. An architectural concept for a lunar mosque is presented.

And it would not be the first time the Chinese encountered the question of "now what?"

Recall the Great Fleet of Zheng He. They explored. The Emperor asked "now what?" And that was all.

The same people who took 2000 years before bothering to colonize Taiwan (The Austronesian mother country, it's worth remembering), even if they do visit the moon, they will not do it for any purpose we have to worry about.

I think the original space race was a great way to divert communist/capitalist rivalry into a giant potlatch contest instead of a war. With China, we do not have an ideological war in the footing, and so no need for a repeat of the space race.

It was great.

An economy needs a project. The aerospace industry supported lots of smaller industries and jobs. Those workers supported smaller neighborhood businesses, right down to restaurants.

The financial people didn't like it. War makes so much more money, for the important people, so much faster. Financial wizardry is even better. They were shutting it down before the moon landing even happened.

Now the system is split. We consume, make war and twiddle money while China manufactures all the goods and nick-knacks. It is empty.

The space race addresses an evolutionary step.

An amusement:

I used to quote the time it would take just to cross our 300,000 light-year galaxy. Forgot about time dilation. Accelerating at 1G, one gravity, one can tour the universe in a human lifetime. Project Orion was started:

Based, partially, on a Coca-Cola vending machine, it offered to reach these realms.

The economy "needs a project"? How about a project to insulate our large inventory of structures, to reduce our collective waste of energy? How about a project to install PV panels on every roof top where it's possible? How about a project to replace all those gas guzzler automobiles with hybrid and electric vehicles? Sorry, I think The Newt's lunar colony fantasy would be a diversion from the real problems we face today here on the ground where there's a crying need to put the resources to work...

E. Swanson

Black Dog. What! You wanna starve the fossil fuel barrons of demand for their poison! Thats complete heresy! Unthinkable I tell ya, unthinkable!

I'm with you BlackDog. If it weren't for plentiful fossil fuels, we might get these things kick started in a reasonable manner. Or with appropriate political leadership. What are the odds of either of those conditions changing any time soon though.

Well, BD, I will try to cheer you up. I just got back from a meeting of a sprung-out-of-nowhere group to talk on how to do just what you said, which is what lots of others say too, of course. After all, it is obviously needed and we know how to do it.

The meeting was full of local people I never heard of who were on just this wavelength, and had been spontaneously self-motivated to do a lot of it. One was a Princeton astrophysicist who had decided that before he wanders off into space he should try to make a go of the only spaceship he happens to have at the moment. Another one was a self-taught electric vehicle expert who had done a fantastic job with a weird concatenation of stuff from military junk and a vw beetle.

Lots of them had done PV roofs themselves, and one spoke with emotion on how he hated to crank up his honda when the sun don't shine, which around here is mighty often. That gave me the impetus to talk about my stirling wood fired long life generator, which as everybody knows, I will have done next week, just like I have for the last decade or so.

I am certain that meeting has been and is being duplicated all over the place. After all, there is nothing special about this place right here. So there is hope. Now, please, somebody get these people to start getting together into something louder.

PS. Actually, I really do think I will soon be pumping electrons into my batteries with a wood eating stirling engine. The engine works, the wood burner works, they fit together, so, what could go wrong?

Yeah, I know all about taking your time to get things done. I finally finished plumbing my solar home heating system this December, after starting some 13 years ago. With a few good solar days, it's just beginning to spin up the storage. Trouble is, it should have been doing that last Fall, so that the storage would have been "fully charged" by the start of colder weather near the end of November. Now, as we are past the peak period of input for the system, it's a bit late, as the high temperature output reached only 144F today when the temperature outside was 37F. Of course, there's more yet to be done. Oh, well, maybe I'll still be around next winter...:-(

E. Swanson

what could go wrong?

You have angered the Cartoon Gods, now.

That would be great! Anything real. How's about installing lots of distributed generation... and building the distribution system needed to access stranded resources.

800kV UHVDC power distribution:



Yair...In most situations, aviation, marine and the few attempts at automotive and rail I believe turbines are not particularly fuel efficient.

Given that in a powerhouse light weight and compact dimensions are not an issue why then do they use turbines to produce electricity with gas?

In this country any way you would have to pay MUCH more per hour for repairs to the microturbine than you would for a simple reciprocater.

I'm curious about this can anybody help?


Turbines get more efficient as size increases. A big simple-cycle industrial gas turbine may be over 40% efficient. Add a steam turbine running off the waste heat and the total combined-cycle efficiency can reach over 60%. I must say I don't really understand the microturbine craze.

Small (5 to 70MW) turbines are used in the utility industry for local peaking duty, where the point of the plant is to reduce system capital costs and the plant almost never actually runs so fuel efficiency isn't particularly important. Larger gas turbines are typically used now in combined cycle operation, where they will typically run base loaded, or shoulder peaking.

I ran the microturbine picture because it is cute and associates with distributed generation. I also have a history with Capstone. Pistons are proven.

Gotta remember that distributed power often replaces for example, a thing that burns fuel and produces nothing but heat. Zero thermal efficiency- easy to beat.

Turbines are more expensive than piston engines, but much more reliable. Think of a 747.

I keep plugging away on very small stirlings because they can be both efficient and very reliable. NASA is betting on them for 14 year space missions.

Yeah, I know NASA engines cost way more than gold. But that is not intrinsic in the stirling itself, which can be made, and has been made, out of kitchen pots.

And yet, we still can't go down to the 5 and dime and buy one.

Dean Kamen's "IT" was hoped to be one. These people http://omachron.org/papers.html made the following claim:

The CE-LP series of engines feature a permanently pressured crank case and are designed to operate 4,000 hours between servicings (technically MTBF, or Mean Time Between Failures) at which time burners, seals and five bearings are replaced in a simple overhaul procedure. These engines develop 1.5 to 1.75 watts per cubic centimeter of displacement and start within 12-21 seconds of heat being applied. They are constructed of stamped components, which allows low-cost high-volume production to be achieved with only modest capital investment, compared to other heat engines or internal combustion engines manufactured by conventional casting and boring. A further advantage of the CE-LP engines is that they are constructed entirely of stainless steel and can be readily recycled.


Turbines are more expensive than piston engines, but much more reliable. Think of a 747.

What is the service life of these engines...I would'nt have thought it would be anything like that of a high quality piston engine?

One of our pioneer postoralists introduced Stirling engines to Australia for pumping water on his stations (ranches).

There are references of "engine drivers" being employed to cut wood and keep a fire going so that "a shovel full of hot coals could be applied to the engine every ten minutes or so"...I have seen some pictures of the setup. They were quite large with a flywheel three or four feet in diameter, I am looking for a link.

Cheers...and thanks to every one who takes the time to answer queries.

Thanks for the link to Rand Simberg's commentary. He's been a regular commentator on issues regarding space for quite a while now. If he didn't like the idea, The Newt better give it up. BTW, Simberg has made lots of comments on the Space Elevator dream, including this latest post, in which he concludes:

There are still a lot of issues to work out. The smart money is on (reusable) rockets, in the near term, I think.

NASA has been pushing the Space Elevator concept for quite a while. HERE's a NASA article from 2000. Sounds rather crazy, which is likely the reason for the article's title: Audacious & Outrageous. I hope they've moved closer to reality since then...

E. Swanson

The real show stopper for the space elevator is its vulnerability to terrestrial weather. One good lightning storm or hurricane could bring the whole thing down in an instant. Correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK the only response to this problem has been "oh, we'll just put it where there's no severe weather".

Um, yeah, good luck with that.

The solution is really quite simple, put the tether in low earth orbit and rotate it like a bicycle wheel. The ends of the tether would periodically dip into the upper atmosphere, but not low enough to be affected by terrestrial weather. Payloads traveling in both directions would conserve momentum. I've seen this concept called either "skyhook" or "bolas".

One big advantage is you don't need as strong of a tether. Kevlar would be strong enough for a Moon or Mars tether, so an Earth tether would not require as big a breakthrough in material engineering.

Another big advantage is you don't need a powered climber. The commercial "space" ships currently being readied for paying customers would be perfectly suitable for reaching the needed height, and once captured by the end of the tether the momentum of the rotation carries the ship into orbit.

Yet another big advantage is the fact that this system could be used throughout the solar system. A "daisy chain" of rotating tethers could be stationed at regular intervals every few million miles and spaceships would be relieved of the need to carry massive supplies of fuel while traveling to the other planets and back.


If I understand your "bicycle wheel" concept, I think it has some basic problems. The center of mass of the "wheel" in LEO must be moving with a tangential velocity of more than 17,000 mph. As the "wheel" rotates, the velocity of the end of each "spoke" as it dips down and passes thru the atmosphere must be much less relative to the surface of the earth, in order to allow the transfer to take place, thus the "wheel" likely must rotate rather fast. Without doing the math on such a system, I suspect that the fast rotational speed would add considerably to the tension on the "spokes". Then, to keep the "wheel" in balance, the payload mass must equal that of the balance mass at the end of each spoke and that balance mass must be removed and then replaced buy the payload. Otherwise, the "wheel" would become unbalanced and the orbit would change...

E. Swanson

Perhaps you're right, but people much smarter than I am have done the math.

Tether Transportation System


Great links, Jerry. Now if we can combine these principles with a giant space yoyo, we could solve the artificial gravity problem for space travelers :-0

There's too many yoyos going on about tethers.


I suppose that you are thinking of the "rotovator" as shown on the wikipedia link. The description and animation are incorrect, as the rotation occurs about the center of mass, which may be at the point of the circle as shown, but only if the masses are balanced. Suddenly attaching a pass at the end of the tether as it whips around would change the location of the center of mass. As the article notes:

As with the bolo, discussed above, the momentum and energy given to the payload must be made up, either with a high-performance rocket engine, or with momentum gathered from payload moving the other direction.

Do tell? Sorry, in physics, there's no free launch...

E. Swanson

It should go without saying that there would be two spokes on the wheel, not one, that much is obvious. It follows then that one payload is giving momentum to the tether while the payload on the other end is taking it, thus momentum is conserved.

Perhaps it only works in a gravity gradient, with one payload descending while the other is ascending, but I don't really see why it wouldn't also work in "free" space where a payload traveling in one direction would use the tether to decelerate while the payload in the other direction borrows that momentum to accelerate.

The general concept seems simple enough, although I'm certainly no expert, which is why I linked to several other resources on the subject.


Once you get into non-rocket launching, there are a number of intermediate steps that could be used. Lofstrom loops don't require exotic materials and a 500 MW terrestrial power plant would allow launching ~35 five-ton payloads to LEO per day, with acceleration within limits that most people tolerate. Assuming reasonable control over insertion, it should be straightforward to design systems that could easily linked up to form larger payloads (eg, today we're lifting 100 tons of fuel). One of the other advantages -- at least in my mind -- of a Lofstrom loop would be the possibility of building a tenth-scale model (200 km long rather than 2000 km) where one could do tests and make measurements. I'm always nervous about all-or-nothing first-time attempts.

Of course, doing any of these presumably requires maintaining a rich high-tech society for at least 100 years into the future. There are lots of implications in that statement.

Wow, Lofstrom loops look to be another wild idea. I think there's lots of details left out of the Wikipedia page, such as, the "rotor" (actually, a continuous, flexible belt or tube) probably needs to move within a vacuum, else the integrated drag would be massive. Then too, there's the difficulty of providing power to the launch vehicle. Scaling the 5 cm diameter belts up to larger sizes for greater payloads would imply much greater problems with forces at the ends where the turnarounds are located, as the belt must be moving faster than orbital velocity...

EDIT: Another problem for the Lofstrom Loop concept is the structure. Think of a high voltage power line. The wire is supported by towers spaced at some distance between towers, perhaps a 1/2 mile or more, with the wires dipping down between the towers, due to the pull of gravity. With the Lofstrom Loop "flying" at 80 km (~50 mi) above the surface, the "support" is actually provided by cables which oppose the net upward force as the belts zip along. As a result, I would expect that the relatively thin shield tube would bow upwards between the tension cables. Given the low mass construction required and what must be tens of km separation between supporting cables, the upward bulge would likely be quite large. While the flexible belt might be capable of following such a roller coaster ride, it's not obvious that the payload vehicle riding on the outside could as well.

E. Swanson

Wow, Lofstrom loops look to be another wild idea. I think there's lots of details left out of the Wikipedia page...

Absolutely. Like I said, one of the things that appeals to me about them is the opportunity to build and test scale models (and in particular, watch how they break). Skyhooks and space elevators strike me as being much more of an all-or-nothing proposition. Where (other than orbit) are you going to build a serious scale model -- say, a 1,000 mile long carbon nanotube structure -- in order to test if it can support the stresses?

'They' had the rockets. Big enough for mega hydrogen bombs. Re-entry problems had been solved (for bombs). 'You' needed those really big rockets as well. So why not have a go at the moon on the back of all that?

I'd happily donate $10 to a fund to put Newt on the moon...

"I'd happily donate $10 to a fund to put Newt on the moon..."

I second this motion.

He is such a loser 'nowhere man' that he isn't worth my ten cents for the effort, let alone ten ducks.

Good point Eric. The article "How Not To Argue That We’re Running Out Of Oil" is an argument criticizing the recent article in "Nature" titled: Climate policy: Oil's tipping point has passed. This is another cornucopian article that tells us that there is nothing to worry about, that we have enough oil and other natural resources to last until forever. Well, not literally but you get the drift.

Anyway it is unfortunate that the "Nature" article is behind a pay wall and few people on the list can read it. I can't and that is frustrating. But the Energy Bulletin has a summation of the article:
Commentary in Nature: Can economy bear what oil prices have in store?

"Historically, there has been a tight link between oil production and global economic growth," the co-authors wrote. "If oil production can't grow, the implication is that the economy can't grow either."

Calculations from the International Monetary Fund, for example, say that to achieve a 4 percent growth in the global economy in the next five years, oil production must increase about 3 percent a year.

The important thing is that the battle between cornucopians and the resource pessimist is picking up steam. But it is my opinion that You ain't seen nothing yet.

Ron P.

You ain't seen nothing yet.

I quite agree. TOD has been a small guerilla band skirmishing in the foothills for so long, one forgets that the big propaganda machines have yet to turn up in serious fashion.

Oil Increases This Week as Gasoline Surges, Greece Nears Debt Agreement

...the European Union’s commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said an agreement is “very close” on private-sector involvement in a Greek debt swap...

...“Expectations that they will put together a Greek deal soon are lifting the entire complex.”

Deal? For whom?

Then there's ZeroHedge's take:

The Silent Anschluss: Germany Formally Requests That Greece Hand Over Its Fiscal Independence:

It was tried previously (several times) under "slightly different" circumstances, and failed. Yet when it comes to taking over a country without spilling even one drop of blood, and converting its citizens into debt slaves, Germany's Merkel may have just succeeded where so many of her predecessors failed. According to a Reuters exclusive, "Germany is pushing for Greece to relinquish control over its budget policy to European institutions [ZH: read ze Germans] as part of discussions over a second rescue package,...

...So while the great distraction that is the Charles Dallara "negotiation" with Hedge Funds continues (as its outcome is irrelevant: a Greece default is assured at this point), the real development once again was behind the scenes where Germany was cleanly and clinically taking over Greece. Because while today it is the fiscal apparatus, tomorrow it is the legislative. As for the executive: who cares. At that point Goldman will merely appoint one of its retired partners as Greek president and Greece will become the first 21st century German, pardon, European colony. But at least it will have its precious euro. We can't wait until Greek citizens find out about this quiet coup.

What we are witness to is the mother of all foreclosures, except this one doesn't just include the house, but also the family car, the kids, the dog,, even the mother-in-law...
So it goes.

Germans want EU budget commisioner for Greece

A leaked plan from the German government proposes a eurozone "budget commissioner" to take control of Greece's tax and spending, reports say.

The Financial Times, which has a copy of the plan, calls it an "extraordinary extension" of EU control.

... Under the German proposal, a budget commissioner would have veto powers over Greek budgetary measures if they were not in line with targets set by international lenders.

Under the proposals, European institutions already operating in Greece should be given "certain decision-making powers" over fiscal policy, a German official told the Reuters news agency. He was speaking on condition of anonymity.

IMO, the EU/Eurozone will not have its current configuration by year's end unless armed force is used to keep it whole.

Below is a portion of theautomaticearth.blogspot.com entry for 01/28/12.

It reads like the plot of a movie!


In Holland, where I'll be for a few more days, there's a "rogue" right-wing party named PVV (Party for Freedom). It has no cabinet ministers, but the minority moderate right-wing government needs its support to stay in the saddle…

A few months ago, the PVV announced they had commissioned a report from British financial consultancy firm Lombard Street Research on the economic consequences of staying in the Eurozone versus returning to the guilder…

That report is about to be published "within days". It will prove to be highly explosive material. And the PVV will do all it possibly can to make sure it receives a lot of media attention. It may tear down the incumbent government, which is a heavy advocate of all things Europe, and which will have to quit once the PVV support dies, but for that party that's not the no. 1 concern.

And if and when Holland has a large scale discussion on the report and the issues it raises, Germany won't be able to ignore it and stay behind. And then, neither will France…


The EU will turn the "earth upside down" to stop this "train wreck"


Actually, those are precisely the terms by which England conquered Scotland.

Is that why we have circus clowns debating for president this year? So that China can quote our obvious incompetence and appoint responsible leadership?

Yes, this year is circus clowns - all the previous times were serious people saying serious things to thoughtful voters.

Still ... it would be good to see Mao in the White House - would add a certain tang to the place - and a Cultural Revolution out in the Heartland would be no bad thing. NASCAR could be nationalised, for a start.

it would be good to see Mao in the White House

Just keep the him away from the <18yo girls.
Not all that different to some current Congressional members, I suppose... :\

Better to get lost in youthful indulgence than listen to generals discuss funds for more military bases and material to dominate ________ (pick your geography).

And all those US dollars in Beijing's coffers would be safe!


I get your point, but understand that the idiocy is getting way worse each cycle.

Ronald Reagan would not grok these guys and gals, and the current party would not adopt him as their front man for President either.

I watched the last Republican debate, and I was distressed by the 'By God, we will invade and/or bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran to defend Israel...

I was also distressed by the B.S, God and family values morality theater...I have no use for these people.

In all honesty, the only one of the four who seemed to be a reasonable adult was Ron Paul.

He seemed honestly taken aback by the demand tot answer the question from 'Blitz' "How would religion shape your Presidency?' His answer (my paraphrase) was that religion influenced how he ran his life and treated other people, but that the guiding light of hi Presidency would be the oath of office, the Constitution, and his promised he made to the people.

The other three blathered on about the U.S> being a 'Christian Nation', blah blah blah. The question was phrased about 'religion', but of course the three 'Not-Paul' clowns phrased their answer to as to exclude anyone who was not Christian as not being a true American. Rubbish.

Paul exemplified the idea of religion being personal, and politics/governance being separate from religion of any type.

Then came the whole paean to South Florida, the question of how to relate to/what to do about Cuba.

Again the three 'No Paul' clown went on about maintaining economic embargoes, restrictions, and containing or punishing or cajoling Cuba to 'share in our Freedoms'. More rubbish.

When it was Paul's turn to answer the question "What would you say to (Raoul) Castro if he called you at the White House?', Paul again looked bemused for a second, then he said "I'd ask him what he called about.' (audience Laughter)...then he said he would ask what he could do for hi,; how we could do business.

Say what you will about Paul, and, mind you, I do /not/agree with all of his prescriptions, but he was /by far/ the closest person to a 'Mr. Smith goes to Washington' on that stage.

He was the adult in the room.

All the other three 'Not-Pauls' were just advocating big government BAU, fake family values, government in your bedroom, girdle the Earth with the American War Machine, 'fake conservative;-style B.S.

It may be getting worse every cycle - or like WWE or other 'spectacle sports' one must do/say more outrageous stuff just to have a shot at getting picked.

It seems well established - each politician will say what they think they need to say to get the support they feel they need. Dr. Paul isn't any different - his Paul newsletter now has ex-staffers going on the record with statements to the effect - he said what he did to get money in.

"we" should remember this silly season is like many before and perhaps it is time for a change of scenery via a Constitutional amendment with something like instant runoff voting rather than claim the failing is THIS batch of bozos. It looks like the system promotes bozo-ism....so lets look at change of the system.

(And Dr. Paul's regular bill submittal for union busting should temper the anti-war and pro union vote should he still be on the ballet come Nov)

Well said.

Like I said up top, I don't agree with all of Paul's positions by any means...he just seems to be the one candidate who proposes the furthest excursion from BAU (note that his does not necessary mean Nirvana).

I have done some light research on the voting subject, and my current opinion is that some type of preference voting would be preferable to First-past-the-post.

Perhaps the Schulze method or ranked pairing would be better than IRV, but I would need to devote some real time running the maths.


At this 'Range Voting' advocacy site, you can try your hand with a demo function tosee how it works...


And that is the problem...most folks 'out there' could not be bothered putting that much thought into changing the voting system...many likely do not have the capability to do the math...hence any attempt to change the U.S. voting system would fight institutional inertia, 'low information' voters, and would be derailed by charismatics using sloganeering and jingoism to invoke fears of some nefarious 'un-American' plot to undo the founding father's eternal, and almighty-blessed, wisdom.

It's no big deal - preferential voting (PV) is simple to grasp and easy to undertake. If there are seven candidates, the voter ranks them 1-7 - no harder than ranking your favourite types of ice cream; and as we know, very young children can do it.

And the least disliked candidate always wins.

But the founding fathers' infallibility is a much bigger hurdle. And also some absurd irrational adherence to the idea of only one vote per voter.

The majority of Ron Paul's serious suggestions appear to me to lead in the direction of Corporate Feudalism, but maybe this whole Republic thing wasn't such a hot idea to begin with.

lead in the direction of Corporate Feudalism,

What an astute observation.

With Ron Paul in charge the present system of egalitarian Corporate control will become one of Corporate Feudalism.

Best keep the present system of Honest, Forthright and Fair Corporate control.

I have been following the current greek saga for two years. I do not think germany wants to take over greece whatsoever. All they want, is to lose as little of the money they have given for the bailout. If anything they would like to see an amicable divorce and not an annexation.

The Germans do not care about Greece nor the suffering of its people. Profit and prosperity for Germany come first. Germans would control the tax revenue of Greece for their benefit. Say, "Bye bye," to Greek pensions and health care. The profits of the lenders and bond holders come before all else. As they drain the Greek economy dry for the profit of the German bankers, Greek nationalist sympathy would grow into rebellion. This is the same sort of thing that brought Hitler into power in the 1930's.

This is a desperate proposal to avoid the solution: default. Let the bankers and bond holder lose.

There is a default underway. Greek pensions and health care are in a continuous state of reform. Oh, yes the current state of Greece has similarity to Weimar republic, soviet union in 1989 and latin america in the 70's all mixed up in a soup. Nevertheless, this time around the problems in greece and to a large extend in my native cyprus are a self inflicted wound.

The Germans do not care about Greece nor the suffering of its people. Profit and prosperity for Germany come first. Germans would control the tax revenue of Greece for their benefit.

Very emotive language, but doesn't Greek society (whether you talk about people in general, or the manipulative ruling class) have some things to answer for? Hasn't there been widespread (endemic) tax avoidance for the last century, and lots of other rorts?

I don't want to see the Greek people kicked back to the Middle Ages either, but a reasonable case can be made out that a lot of the current woes could have been avoided with a little discipline and a little (Teutonic) restraint. Just sayin'.

the manipulative ruling class ... widespread (endemic) tax avoidance for the last century

What should be the answer to policies of the ruling class the underclass do not like and seem to be unable to change?

Attempting to make the Greek frugal by placing the debtors in charge would make the debtor a scapegoat for Greek rage. It guarantees debt slavery. This is like putting the drug dealer in charge of the junkie's rehabilitation. The best hope for Greece is default and no more borrowing.

I can't help but think that New York State has stumbled onto doing the right thing with its natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale. I have no doubt that they will eventually be developed, but why sell into a supply glut? Why develop them before the regulatory structures get figured out?

The cost of making New York City drink out of the Hudson River due to mistakes in development is far higher than the cost of a decade or two of delay.

Re: There will be oil

Or maybe there won't. The article says:

In 2003, North Dakota was producing about 80,000 barrels of oil a day. In November, daily production was more than 500,000 barrels, closing in on both Alaska (555,000 barrels per day) and California’s (539,000) production figures.

However, it doesn't ask the question, "Why are Alaska and California producing only about 500,000 bpd?" Alaska used to produce over 2 million bpd and California over 1.1 million bpd.

The real question is, "How does a 420,000 bpd increase in ND production compensate for a 2.1 million bpd decline in AK and CA production?" Somehow I can't see ND producing 2.6 million bpd.

Right Rocky it is amazing how many people think North Dakota is the game changer that will put all those peak oil folks in their place. An article linked here a couple of days ago puts North Dakota in its true perspective:
Oil production is booming — but for how long?

But while that development is hugely important for North Dakota, it’s modest in the larger scheme of things. “The 138 million barrels produced in North Dakota and Montana in 2010,” Hamilton writes, “is about half of what the state of Oklahoma produced in 1927 and a fifth of what the state of Alaska produced in 1988.”

And the five times as much oil produced in Alaska in 1988 only put a very small hump in the down-slope of USA oil production. We are currently seeing another smaller hump in our oil production but not nearly as big as the one Alaska produced. But nevertheless the cheering over the death of Peak Oil continues by the uninformed.

Ron P.

Mid-continent US crude oil production has clearly rebounded, but as you and our Canadian friend know the fact that oil companies can and will make money by putting new fields on line and by increasing the recovery in existing fields does not necessarily mean that they can make a material difference. And if we look at total US crude oil production, it looks like the net increase in 2011 will be about 100,000 bpd, with about 1,000 drilling rigs drilling for oil, or a net increase of about 100 BOPD per year per rig. I call this making an incremental difference versus a material difference. A case in point is the North Sea, where new fields put on line in 1999 or later had a production peak of about one mbpd in 2005, but the new fields only served to slow the overall rate of decline in total production.

Incidentally, I would also note the decline in oil production per well in Texas, versus the early Seventies (from 21 BOPD per well in 1972 to 6 BOPD per well in 2010), which is the same pattern that we see in natural gas, and which is probably similar to what we are seeing on average for the Lower 48. So, there is a huge difference between the quality of average US oil and gas production now versus the early Seventies, in terms of per well production.

And here is a longer term look at annual US crude oil production through 2010:

But the key point is that what is driving the Lower 48 renaissance--and the approximate 100 BOPD per year per drilling rig net increase in US oil production--is a happy confluence of higher oil prices and improved technology. The higher prices are due to flat global crude oil production since 2005, along with an ongoing, and I suspect, accelerating rate of decline in Global Net Exports (GNE) of oil. I suspect that the average volumetric decline in Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia's net imports) could accelerate from the one mbpd per year decline that we have recently seen to around two mbpd per year from 2010 to 2020.

So, yes selected areas are showing increasing production, e.g. the Mid-continent area in the US.

But, when we look at the net US increase, it was about 100,000 bpd in 2011 (through October, 2011).

This slow rate of increase in US production helped, but global crude oil production has been flat since 2005*.

Meanwhile, GNE (total petroleum liquids) have fallen at about 1.3%/year since 2005

And ANE (GNE less Chindia's net imports) have fallen at about 2.8%/year since 2005.

So, producers who are able to maintain and increase their production are doing great, but the bottom line is that global crude oil prices have doubled since 2005, from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011. If you are a consumer, what numbers should you focus on, rising Mid-continent production or the recent doubling in global crude oil prices?

My guesstimate, and Art Berman concurs, is that at least 90% of the shale wells currently producing oil will be plugged and abandoned or down to 10 BOPD or less by 2020. If most people prefer to believe the industry story line that wells like this will make a material difference to consumers, all I can say is that at least some of them were warned.

*Total liquids, inclusive of low net energy biofuels, did show a material, but quite small, rate of increase of 0.5%/year from 2005 to 2010 (EIA).

Many Kansas and Nebraska residents, including Nebraska’s governor and state representatives, oppose the pipeline because it would traverse the Ogallala Aquifer, the main source of drinking water in the Upper Midwest, and threaten the beautiful and sensitive Sand Hills area.

This statement is badly dated. The Nebraska legislature passed, and the governor signed, a bill that provides an agreement with TransCanada for a different pipeline route that avoids the Sand Hills. The bill also authorizes state spending of up to $2M to help pay for the new environmental impact study.

It's a little late to get worked up about oil pipelines crossing above the Ogallala proper; several pipelines already do so, including at least one in Nebraska. These are all situated well away from the Sand Hills, though.

As long as I'm being fussy about the details, I guess I should have added that the phrase "the main source of drinking water in the Upper Midwest" requires an incredibly unusual definition of Upper Midwest in order to be accurate. Fundamentally, it requires that you redefine it to mean "South and Central Great Plains".

The Aquifer underlies portions of eight states, from the Texas Panhandle to a small slice of south central South Dakota. And yes, of the area overlying the Aquifer, about 80% of the drinking water comes from it. However, of the various definitions for "Upper Midwest" used by assorted public and private organizations, the only one of the eight Ogallala states that semi-consistently makes the cut is South Dakota -- and only a very small portion of SD overlies the Ogallala. Eastern Nebraska is occasionally included -- largely the part of the state that doesn't overlie the Aquifer. And none of the other six ever get included. The vast bulk of the "Upper Midwest" lies hundreds of miles north and east of the Ogallala.

One of the geographic dividing lines that I use regularly is the 20-inch annual precipitation line that runs north and south and divides the US. East of that line, non-irrigation agriculture dominates -- the classic characteristic of "the Midwest"; to the west, the shift is to ranching and irrigated agriculture, very different undertakings with different concerns -- eg, the Nebraska legislature passed water rights laws only after the Panhandle portion of the state (on the other side of the 20-inch line from the state capital and most of the state's population) threatened to secede and join Wyoming. The Ogallala is largely west of the line.

Sorry for the rant. I've been sensitive ever since the period when I lived on the East Coast, and when I told people I was from Nebraska, they would respond with, "Oh, yeah, out there near Illinois and Utah!"

"...near Illinois and Utah!"

To live on the East Coast, you just have to get with East Coast program. From that perspective, Nebraska's place is shown clearly on Saul Steinberg's famous (and satirical) New Yorker map of the world...

Thanks Paul, enjoyed that. And also this map showing US states by nations of equivalent GDP...


Not sure about the currency or accuracy of the map. Google shows the GDP of Australia (2010) at $965 billion, and that of Ohio (2008) at $471 billion - less than half as much. Oh well.

Where's Alabama?!

I enjoyed the New Yorker map of New Yorkistan as well. I always wondered where Fuhgeddaboudistan was. Irate and Irant seem small though :-0

Irate and Irant are reserved as the final resting places of qualifying political speeches and blog posts. Due to ever-advancing miniaturization technology, shallow depth and small area provide ample reserves of storage capacity. The layout was well-planned, with Kvetchniya suitably next door, and the Belt Parkway (aka other names) connecting them conveniently and appropriately to Fuhgeddabouditstan... :-0 :-0

Meh... Youdontunderstandistan ;-/

Natural gas prices in Alberta drop below $2 to 10-year low

Spot prices for gas at Alberta’s benchmark storage hub AECO plunged to $1.92 per gigajoule, the lowest seen since the summer of 2002, before rebounding to close the day $2.10 per GJ.

The drop below the psychological $2 per GJ threshold comes in the middle of the North American heating season when demand for gas traditionally is strongest and it bodes ill for the rest of the year, said industry observers.

Let's consider a company operating an oil sands mine and turning it into synthetic crude oil. It takes about 1 GJ of natural gas to produce 1 barrel of oil. The company pays $2 for the natural gas, and uses it to produce $100 of sweet, light oil.

The economics of this are overwhelming. The EROEI is about 6:1, but the monetary ROI on the investment in fuel is about 50:1.


The question is, how long do these prices last? It sure is nice heating the house for so little, especially with how warm this winter has been (for this area).

How long it lasts is basically up to the Americans. Canadian production is in decline, and at these prices companies are unlikely to do enough drilling to reverse the decline.

Rocky - Just great. First the Canadians start dumping their cheap oil into the US driving down the prices our operators were getting. Now they're going to dump their cheap NG on us. Next thing you know they start dumping cheap lumber down south and inhibit our efforts to cut down more of our old growth forests. Bastards!!!

Seriously, as I just mentioned elsewhere, I think NG will stay low for years to come. Even if current prices cut the drill rig count there's a lot of shale gas wells (though decline has taken its toll) making up a fairly stable base. And when supply begins to drop and prices begin to rise the pubcos (those that survived) will pick up the drill rate.

I'm ever so grateful to be a career reservoir geologist these days. We're quickly swinging from deep NG exploration to EOR: horizontal holes in unconsolidated sands containing very viscous oil in high perm strong bottom drive reservoirs. I'm sure you get the picture.

EOR: horizontal holes in unconsolidated sands containing very viscous oil in high perm strong bottom drive reservoirs.

Other than the strong bottom drive part it sounds pretty familiar. Just don't set fire to it. I know you like fireflood, but I never had any good experiences with it.

With the low price of natural gas, I would think that steam stimulation might be a good thing to try. Knowing as I do, absolutely nothing about Texas heavy oil reservoirs, I would recommend it. Ignorance is bliss. I'm glad it's you, have fun.

That suggests that if nat gas prices ever increase to previous prices that the oil price will also rise significantly.

I don't get that sense. If gas goes up 300%, I suspect the oil won't go up at all; all that will likely happen is the hefty oil sand profit margin will shrink.
What will affect oil price is whether oil sand production drops, starving the oil market a bit.
IE if gas supply drops such that oil sand production declines, (whether the gas price is $2 or perhaps $10), oil price is likely to increase if oil consumption remains the same. It's unlikely that production will drop though.
The oil sand producers have massive sunk costs and will in my opinion produce as much oil as possible no matter the cost of gas. Gas isn't even necessary for production, as far as I know it's just a heat source.

Canada produces its own uranium and its own reactors, which don't even require enriched fuel IIRC. Hmmm.

Gas isn't even necessary for production, as far as I know it's just a heat source.

Such is true. The oil sands region of Canada is rich in almost every type of energy resource you would care to name. The reason they use natural gas is because it is readily available (there are gas fields stacked vertically over and under the oil sands), and it is cheap. If it wasn't cheap they would use something else.

Canada produces its own uranium and its own reactors, which don't even require enriched fuel IIRC. Hmmm.

That is true, and the nuclear reactor builders have proposed using nukes to supply process heat for the oil sands producers, while simultaneously supplying electricity to the provincial grid. There are even huge uranium reserves not very far from the oil sands. However, at this point in time, natural gas is more cost-effective than uranium.

Would tend to think so. As someone noted a few days back.

Western Canadian Select $22 cheaper than WTI

In light of the various conflicts, ELM, Chindia consumption and the 'new' $100 comfort level

for Saudi oil. If When the low cost provider has increased costs....

How long has this price distortion lasted now? If there's any argument which makes a case for NG replacing Oil, it flies out of the window right there.

From the Financial News via TAE. Re: the Baltic Dry Index...

"The index – often used as a proxy for the health of the global economy as it reflects the prices charged for shipping commodities such as metals, coal or grain around the world – has fallen by 61% since October. The index was at 842 at yesterday’s close – down from its 12-month high of 2173 last October.

Nick Bullman, managing partner at risk consultant Check Risks, said the index is a good way of looking at the risks to the global economy, "as it tends to be where they hit first".

According to Bullman, its initial collapse in October was driven primarily by a fall-off in demand from China, where declining housing prices pushed purchasing managers to cut back on orders for the raw materials whose transport the Baltic Dry Index reflects.

He said: "This collapse looks similar to the falls we saw in the Baltic Dry ahead of the recessions of the late 1970s and early 1990s – but this drop is actually steeper."

Bullman added that it was also a more direct indicator of global economic health than government-produced statistics. "Personally, I’m not interested in employment data and GDP figures because they’re manipulated," he said. [..]

Bullman said that shipping companies have also been deliberately slowing down their journeys to save fuel, with trips from China to the US going now taking around 50% longer than they were early in 2011.

"What this is signalling is that the world economy is slowing down much more quickly than people have been thinking."

sort of makes you go...hmmmm doesn't it?


I just read someplace to the BDI is no longer considered important by serious economists- I suppose I could come up with the reference.

But everywhere I look, to see empty storefronts and the Food Banks are going crazy.

There may be plenty of oil. But people are going cold and hungry where I live

Just some thoughts... life on the periphery: My brother helps run the largest food pantry in our county and says donations are way down and demand is at an all time high. Several churches have diverted large parts of their budgets to keeping things going, cutting mission funding, etc.

We stopped at the Super Wal-Mart in a nearby town last Sunday afternoon for my wife to return something and to get some bulk supplies. It's the only Walmart for 50 miles around and is usually very crowded on Sunday afternoon; sort of a rural tradition I usually avoid. The huge store was eerily empty; very few customers. I mentioned it to a clerk (there were perhaps as many employees as customers) and she said that it's been that way since the holidays. She expected things to improve at the end of the month when the checks go out, but looked worried. Also, it's the first time I've seen empty shelf space at this store. A bit surreal... Two more local stores closed this month, one had been open since the '60s.

"Serious economists" don't consider the BDI 'important' these days because it's hard to sugarcoat the numbers. If goods and commodities aren't being shipped, they aren't being sold. The velocity of money is more in the financial sector these days rather than in real goods. China's voracious appetite is waining, and any perceived gains or growth are likely more of a temporary rebound than a recovery. Folks all over are realizing they don't need so much stuff, and can't afford it anyway. I'm starting to get more credit card and insurance offers again, some sounding pretty desperate.

Soup's gone. Back to the garden!

The BDI is also a function of how many ships are operating at any given time. We had an explosion of ship construction before the crash. Many of these ships ultimately get scrapped, but not always enough to keep the market in balance.

Two more local stores closed this month, one had been open since the '60s.

Since digital photos are so inexpensive, I am tempted to take my camera with me on my Monday walks to the bus stop to work, and take pix of all the empty stores and 'for lease' signs on Las Tunas (San Gabriel) and Main St. (Alhambra)... because there are a lot of them!

If I do, then I'll make a Livejournal entry about it, and share the link.

Big box stores sucked the juice out of small shops, the downturn just blew down the husks. Checkout Calculated Risk for strip mall vacancy rates. Also, I used to cover the area you're talking about for the power company, and a lot of the infrastructure dates to the 20's. It's not at all unusual for all the stores on a block to be on the same small single-phase transformer (and the internal wiring is of the same caliber). This limits what types of enterprises can occupy them without costly upgrades.

Where do you guys all live? Here, the two "index case" strip malls that were built near my home circa 2007 sat almost entirely empty for a long time, but started filling in late 2010. They are now almost full, and other stores and strip malls are renovating.

Things are not jumping, but they are ambling along again. Stores and highways are crowded; subdivisions area are even building again, though slowly.

There are two-speed, three-speed, perhaps multi-speed economies all over the OECD countries, I reckon. Certainly the case where resource-rich states are booming, and older ("rust-belt" or manufacturing) states are doing it tough. Not so unusual, or unexpected.

The challenge for federal governments (and the central banks) is to come up with policies that meet both these realities, I expect.

In this medium sized Texas town where I am temporarily working, things are sort of muddling on. Alot of working class families with kids. Good people, but not the brightest bulbs. They drive large trucks and SUVs that announce to the world that their kids are budding NFL stars and Olympic gymnasts, and who are "supporting the troops" to remind you of your patriotic duty every time you are stopped at a traffic light.

I'll get as much fiat as I can, convert it to metal, and move on to the next gig.

A lot of working class families with kids. Good people, but not the brightest bulbs. They drive large trucks and SUVs that announce to the world that their kids are budding NFL stars and Olympic gymnasts, and who are "supporting the troops" to remind you of your patriotic duty every time you are stopped at a traffic light.

It's pretty sad really - how much people can Live the (alleged) Dream in a way that is TOTALLY against their real interests. Rather than the SUV and the Stars & Stripes, they should be hauling out the Governor for some tar & feathers.

But sadly - I think those days are past us. The vast US working class is befuddled by Cheese Doodles now. Oh well - it was a good country once (in 1959 or thereabouts).

Busted Bubble-land. The two towns he mentioned are western San Gabriel Valley suburbs of LA. However, the national situation is setting records for vacancy rates.

"BDI is no longer considered important by serious economists"

Perhaps because it is less susceptible to political or agenda-based tweaking, like revisions, than other indicators such as GDP or unemployment.

Why you should care about the Baltic Dry Index

HARPEX has also dropped like a rock, and there wasn't overbuilding of container ships like there was of tankers.

Re: Arab League halts observer mission in Syria, up top:

Damascus suburb rises up against President Assad

Re: El Segundo, Chevron at odds over oil company's taxes, up top:

Chevron Refinery Marks 100 Years

Chevron Qatar Invests in Solar Testing and Energy Efficiency

I found this interview transcript regarding U.S. nuclear power plant safety issues and the NRC, and read it and thought was enlightening...and concerning to me:


If this was posted before, my apologies for not noticing it.

"The NRC’s argument is that it only leaks when it’s filled with water."

From the linked article: Obama loves oil — Not!

"The bad news is that “clean” energy isn’t going away."

I guess there must be something profoundly wrong with me but I just can't quite parse that particular statement...

It's Peter Foster, Financial Times? Gosh Fred, "clean energy" is the Devil they don't want to know.

If you are a conservative, you automatically hate anything liberals like. Liberals like "clean energy", therefore..... Then, if you are funded by the Koch brothers, you're gonna hate anything that competes against coal and oil.

Yes ... sadly, over 40-50 years the progressive world has not been able to embed in the national (NASCAR) psyche the idea that caring for the planet by (a) being smarter with discretionary resource allocation to new technology, and (b) making conservation of energy work, is an incontrovertible social good - like motherhood and apple pie (and therefore to argue against them is akin to farting in church).

Although in this crazy world, even motherhood and apple pie have political sides to them. Oh well - let's party until we completely f*ck it all up.

Looks like the Germans have finally succeeded in conquering Europe, this time without firing a single shot! More and more countries (first Ireland, now Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy will be next) are being asked to handover their budget making to Germany.

PIIGS will soon be to Germany what Puerto Rico and Guam are to the US.

I lived in Guam, as a non military "citizen".
One is taxed, but has no political representation--
the classic definition of a colony.

The next step, when the german economist technocrat says certain spend has to be cut or tax raised, will be for Greeks to march on Berlin rather than Athens.

German shoppers won't be happy to see Greek protesters breaking up the place.

When things come apart, they can come apart violently. We aren't even close to the end of the feedback loops associated with the collapse of the euro.

At the rate its going, do you think Greek protestors will be able to afford trainfare to Bonn (thats the center of government, if not the culture).

"Looks like the Germans have finally succeeded in conquering Europe, this time without firing a single shot!"

Ironic indeed since we are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the start of the first great bloodbath to avoid a German hegemony. If the Germans are fated to rule Europe, that makes two major bloodlettings rather pointless.


Until and unless the present/future Germans start rounding people up and sending them to the camps, etc.,or anything remotely close to the carnage the WWI Nazis caused, I would call your assertion a tad hyperbolic.

H - I would say not just hyperbolic but completely backwards. Germany hasn't conquered anyone. Those countries crippled themselves with their poor monetary policies/actions. The Irish did nothing to themselves that we didn't do to ourselves during our housing/junk loan phase. Germany did nothing to cause our problems any more than they caused the problems for the PIIGS. The Germans, thanks to better monetary policies, are in a position to lend support to the PIIGS. AFAIK Germany doesn't owe the PIIGS anything. If the PIIGS want finacial help from Germany it shoud be on terms acceptable to both parties. If they can't find a mutually acceptable arrangement then the Germans should keep their capital and the PIIGS can figure out how to help thenselves on their own. I heard a Greek woman interviewed a few weeks ago. She said Greece shouldn't have to pay any of their debt back and that other countries should loan them money. The reporter then asked her why any country would loan Greece money after they just refused to pay back $billions of exising loans. The look of confusion on her face was priceless. She obviously wasn't listning to her own words as she descibed what she felt woud be the solution to Greece's problems.

One of the main causes of this whole crisis is the fact that the German banks flooded the Eurozone with cheap money from German savers in the early days of the Euro, much of the money that was squandered in Ireland came directly from these German savers.
The German banks were looking for a quick way to grow their savers investments.
If Ireland had remained outside the Eurozone, this aspect of the debt crisis would have never happened, the "Celtic Tiger" would have still roared due to the peace dividend (the GFA agreement) and the subsequent inward investment, but the speculative inventments that followed would not have happened due to Irish Interest rates being set nationally at a higher rate.

d - I get your points. But Germany didn't "flood" the market: they made capital available at low rates. No different then the US govt pushing our mortgage companies to give loans to almost everyone. But it was still the choice of the borrowers to make the loans and how to spend those monies. A bar might offer 3 for 1 drinks at happy hour. But that doesn't relieve the patron of drinking responsibly. The govts of the PIIGS were glad to encourage the spending because it gave a boost to their economies which the politicians could, in turn, use to their advantage in getting re-elected...no different then ours. I'm sure some politicians on both sides on the Pond understood the potential outcome. But so what? They would likey be retired and out of office living off their fat pensions their earned by growing their economies so well. Essentially no different then any other Ponzi con IMHO. And just like every Ponzi con it only worked because of the greed of the marks. Let's look at my Irish kinsmen: can anyone point out one Irish politician waving a red flad during the ramping up of the Celtic Tiger? Probably as likely to find a US politician criticising the housing boom as it was underway.

As the great Texas comedian Ron White has said: "You can't fix stupid". Greed is even more difficult to eliminate IMHO. Combine the two flaws and I can't ever see a good ending.


Probably as likely to find a US politician criticizing the housing boom as it was underway.

Here ya go!

Byron Dorgan had an almost prophetic ability when he predicted the credit crunch all the way back in 1999. He said of the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act that “I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this, but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930s is true in 2010.”

He was just one of only eight senators who voted against repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, a critical piece of legislation that helped lessen the damage of the Great Depression and introduced important banking reforms. And his predictions came true in ten years as America entered and is still struggling to recover from one of the worst recessions in recent history.


Transcript of a 2009 interview with Senator Dorgan in which he describes his qualms back in 1999:


NYT piece from 1999 predicting problems in the housing market down the road:


(Note: To me, Mr. Holmes's line pointing out that 18% of sub-prime loans seems to be a non-sequitur with blatant racist overtones...after all, that stat meant that 82% of sub-prime loans went to folks who were not black...besides that idiotic remark, I find that his opinion piece correct predicted future problems by increasing sub-prime loans...)

Looks like Ralph Nader accurately predicted the coming problems and advocating changing generous subsidies of Fannie and Freddie back in June 2000:


A fellow named Nouriel Roubini called for changes to head off his prediction of a housing collapse...he wrote this article in 2006, two years prior to the prediction coming true:


Congressman Ron Paul makes a speech to Congress in July of 2002 advocating ending government subsidies of Fannie and Freddy and warning of a future housing crash...this is the transcript of his speech:


Probably as likely to find a US politician criticizing the housing boom as it was underway.

So...besides a then-Senator from ND, a Congressman from TX, a well-known consumer advocate who was running for President, and two opinion pieces, one if the well-read NYT...

No one wanted to hear Jimmy Carter circa 1979, and no one wanted to listen to these (and I am sure many others)circa 1999-2006...most of us wanted to (and still want) to hit the juice and revive the party for another go...

...And Ron Paul is the only current presidential candidate who wants to break from BAU...if the economy thrives after a fashion, he would be seen as a hero by many...

...and if his prescription leads to lots of job losses and lower wages, then would he not be a hero to those of us who advocate for a reduced ecological footprint for U.S. Americans?

Conundrums, conundrums....


H - Mucho thanks. I knew there had been a few sober folks out there. I figured someone with a better memory than mine would toss them out. But considering the thousand of politicians who held office during all those years we're still talking about a fraction of 1%. But I'm sure many more had similar expectations. Just as there are some politicians today who understand PO but remain mute on the subject.

A major problem is that the German's have a severe paranoia about inflation, remembering the 20's. They equate inflation with brings on Hitler, which is actually inaccurate the inflation problem had been solved, it was widespread unemployment that brought him on. In any case, fighting inflation during an economic contraction just makes it worse. Many of these countries could have muddled through had looser money allowed a somewhat improved economy. Neither Spain, nor Ireland had budget difficulties prior to the crisis, but got caught big time anyway.

Dontcha think we'll eventually be saying similar things to China, when we need another round of bonds to sell?

I would say it's all a feature of the common-currency system but diverse economies. Germany wanted loose money so Greece and others would buy their stuff, and the cash aggregated increasingly in one place.

Debt write-off is one way to re-balance cash positions, and I'm not sure they won't still work such a deal. The other option would seem to be for currencies to split and standards of living to re-balance. I'm pretty sure Greece won't be very happy with that outcome, and probably Germany won't either.

Thing is, I'm increasingly convinced defaults or fractures are inevitable. How else do lop-sided balances even out?

"Debt write-off is one way to re-balance cash positions, and I'm not sure they won't still work such a deal."

....and trigger CDS and derivative payouts; possibly hundreds of trillions of dollars (which, of course, don't exist). US banks are involved to an estimated $60 trillion.. But they are working such a deal, one that sticks the peons with the bill (well actually one that leaves the peons propertyless and penniless.) As I said before, the mother of all foreclosures. It's about who takes the big hit, and it ain't gonna be the banks, not before they've squeezed the little folks for every cent.

Headline magnitude of derivatives numbers overstate the size of the problem. Bank A has a promise to bank B which has a promise to bank C which has a promise back to bank A. Call the whole string off, and there's just a small net transfer of wealth, thats a lot smaller than the sum of the promises. The things still a huge mess.

Those derivitives were insured. My understanding is that the total exposure is in the neighborhood of 600 trillion dollars... the best part of a quadrillion dollars.

One way or the other, the fact remains that Germany now wants to control Greece's budget and the rest of the PIIGS will soon follow: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/29/us-eurozone-germany-greece-idU...

How long before German government starts collecting taxes on Greek government's behalf and start foreclosing on Greeks who can't/won't pay? What if in the next Greek budget, the German government cripples the Greek military by slashing their funding by 50%?

This is a loss of sovereignty, no matter how you look at it or who gets blamed.


Europe seems to me faces a tri-part choice:

1. Stumble along 'as is'

2. Revert to a pre-Euro configuration

3. Integrate tighter as some kind of 'United States of Europe', with Berlin playing th role of the District of Columbia.

Of course there are many possible variations on these three paths...

"the carnage the WWI Nazis caused,"

The Nazis were WWII, not WW1.

If the Germans hadn't lost WWI, or even if they had, and the French had stayed with the 14 point plan they had agreed to, there would have been no Nazi rise to power, and no WWII.


If the Germans are fated to rule Europe, that makes two major bloodlettings rather pointless.

I assumed the two bloodlettings in reference to German power were WWI and WWII.

The way I see it, was that in each case, whatever the proximate excuses given, the Germans were bent on dominating at least Europe, and in the case of WWII, beyond Europe as well.

The difference was, IMO, that in WWII their adventurism wrought great destruction 'downtown' in the homeland as the wages for their crimes. That, and the second time around the Russians took away East Germany....and West Germany was one of a matrix of Western European countries in NATO, firmly led by the U.S.

Now that the U.S. has receded somewhat from the European picture, and Russia as well, and Germany is united, and Europe has engaged in some collective enterprises, it seems natural that Germany has a leadership role given its economic stature and disciplined finances...the tradeoff here is not going so far as to choke off the weaker European economies with excessive austerity, but also to not reward spendthrift behaviors and attitudes with continual bailouts.

I don't have a policy answer.

However, I am not terribly concerned about any purported German designs on German-forced European hegemony.

Time to dust off a couple old reels?

See: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v5QCGqDYGo


Hi, Paul

I watched your link... interesting stuff, those war videos: "You will not fraternize, you will remain aloof, you will be suspicious," etc.
My father-in-law fought the Germans in WW2 (and his father fought them in 1916). He remained mistrustful of all things German until he died in 1991, long after the war ended.
Old prejudices die hard (if they die at all).

Many of these acquired dislikes only die out after the holder dies. I've known Chinese, who because of Japan's hoorid treatment of the country in WWII, will not accept anything Japanese are not evil. If the intensity of the experience is great enough, it will never go away.

Hi Rick,

My dad served with the British 8th Army in North Africa. When they were retreating from Rommel's forces, my dad volunteered with a group of men to hold their position in an attempt to slow down the German advance. He was subsequently captured and became a prisoner of war. I know that the first part of his internment was spent in Germany at a work camp and later on towards the latter part of the war he was transferred to another camp in Italy. My dad never really spoke of this time, so the little I do know was told to me by my grandmother. I can tell you that he never expressed any animosity towards Germany or its people, but it was over fifty years before he stepped foot in Italy again and it took all of my stepmother's considerable effort to make this happen. I guess you can draw your own conclusions as to why this might be so.

BTW, I found this picture of my dad taken shortly after he was returned to the UK:


I lost my dad in 2004 and miss him terribly.


I was chatting to my mum recently. Discovered one of her relatives was a German prisoner in WWII. Sent down the coal mines, he needed months of care after the war to return to health. Probably did his mind no good, he left his family soon after.

My father was a 'back room boy' working on the development of radar and early computers during and after the war. Met my mum who was in the typing pool.

I had a great uncle who never came back from the trenches of WWI. My father's father was Army, don't know his record. My mother's father met his wife in the Woolwich Arsenal, making shells in WWI.

I expect to lose my dad soon. :( He is an engineer with huge knowledge of vintage mechanical and precision engineering, from before the oil age. He could design and build steam or Stirling engines from plain metal ingots using hand powered tools. Knowledge that will be sorely missed.

Hi Ralph,

I understand my dad was forced to repair the rail lines. British and American bombers would do their best to take them out and the POWs would be forced to put them back together again (at times they would come under friendly fire and have to dive into the ditches for cover).

The loss of my dad was a huge blow to me. I sometimes find myself tapping the speed dial on my phone labelled "Dad" just to watch the parade of digits flash by on the display "011441244....". My step-mom is 94 and so I know I'll be losing her all too soon too; that will be another great loss.

I came across another snap of my dad. This one was taken just before he enlisted in 1939: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Dad-1939.jpg

This is what's written on the back: http://i362.photobucket.com/albums/oo69/HereinHalifax/Dad-1939Back.jpg

My dad was extremely athletic, excelled in all sports (rugby and scorer in particular) and was never sick a day in his life that I recall, but his war service affected him in other, less subtle ways. Like most men who returned from the war, he was never quite the same.


Old prejudices die hard

There are people who still don't like "the commies" or "the Chinese" the 2 cases I can think of were involved in Korea and 'nam.

Quite a feat: to shoot yourself in the foot whilst painting yourself into a corner. Well done Europe.

It seems that Iran has gone a little further than just discussing retaliation against Europe:

January 29, 2012 6:13 pm
Iran to halt oil sales to ‘some countries’

By Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran

Iran’s oil minister said on Sunday that oil sales to “some countries” would be halted soon, amid pressure from the parliament that the government should pre-empt a looming European embargo.

“Iran has a market for its oil exports even with cuts [in sales] to Europe and will face no problem in this regard,” Rostam Ghasemi told local journalists.

“If the oil embargo against Iran is enforced, the European states will lose, but we are ready for a cut in oil sales to Europe,” Mr Ghalebani said.


However as far as I can tell, Iran has already been gradually cutting back exports to Europe anyway. Europe has so far not suffered, as the loss of Iranian oil was mostly offset by the fortuitous bounce back in Libya's exports in the last few months.

Apropos of fracking and sponsored moon bases; see the embedded video of what happened to a banner when a gas company sponsored a cycle race

Humans are pretty adaptable. I expect the next similar protest to carry a backup sign to unfurl after the car has driven away. :)

Would have made more sence to have pulled it back when the sponsors stopped and disappeared into the crowd with it and replaced it later at another spot.

I wonder if Santos will give the sign back. Otherwise, surely it's theft.

There is a comment there: "What happened to the right to free speech!"

Methinks among other issues the banner was covering up the 'PAID FOR' advertising... Still it probably could have been handled with a bit more aplomb by the good folk in the Skoda. I mean the least they could have done was marched over to the sign holders in a synchronized goose step, and stretched out their raised right palms in a salute, then grabbed the banner and done a synchronized about face before returning to the car with the confiscated banner... They also need spiffier uniforms with great big belt buckles and nice caps. Sort of like this:

California orders hike in number of super clean cars:

These rules and deadlines are routinely overturned.

Something that may help improve new fuel synthesis:


Just a lab exercise at present though.

For every barrel of oil produced in the world from 2007 to 2009, 1.6 barrels of new reserves were added.

So there. Nothing to worry about.


Arthur - Just one more example of the effort to confuse the public by making them beleive oil production rate = bbls of oil proven in the ground. If my new pilot program of horizontal wells in some old Texas oil fields proves commercial I'll be able to honestly say I've added 100 million to 200 million bbls of proven oil reserves in Texas. OTOH the majority of that oil wil be produced at less than 50 bopd from each well. And given that it may take over $500 million to drill all the wells it will require current high oil prices to persist. If oil prices drop significant (as the article seems to imply when all this new oil hits the market) my project becomes uneconomical and those 100's of millions of bbls of proven oil reserves disappear off the books.

So what this author doesn't understand is in a world of harder to get oil, we can't have it both ways; high supply - low price. We can have high supply - high price, but of course there is a price limit the economy can handle and therefore only so much supply that can be tapped into. The rest remains locked in place. Looks like, sounds like, feels like peak oil!

The rest remains locked in place. Looks like, sounds like, feels like peak oil!

Though it's really an ugly duckling, a.k.a. as 'Big Beautiful Black Swan'!

Looks like the 2001 gold peak may be busted.

There's two great series on Discovery Channel, the first in its second season is "Gold Rush," about some hard luck guys from Oregon going to Alaska (first season) then the Yukon (second season) to rape the land for the little gold it contains. A more recent show, the first episode shown just last week, called "Bering Sea Oil" depicts these guys who go off-shore Nome and dredge up gold from the seafloor in a variety of contraptions - a method that I can't say has any real impact on the environment. I've watched every episode of Gold Rush, and I can tell you that looking for gold is some tough work. If you haven't caught an episode yourself, I'd suggest you take a look - they're re-run all the time.

It turns out these guys are able to try and search for gold due to its high price - they wouldn't be even trying were the price where it ought to be.

There's gold up in that area, still. I recall reading somewhere how when Nome was first visited by non-aboriginals, they were able to pick up gold nuggets the size of a thumb right off the beach - just walk along and get rich. Now, what's left is hiding beneath the rocks just offshore just waiting to be sieved out - the first episode of the Bering Sea Gold showed one company raking in about $75K worth in just one day, other less effective operations just a few hundred dollars.

My point is, one could liken the effort a bit akin to oil stripper wells - except of course stripper wells more easily pay for themselves - but these grizzled hard-luck guys are adding an ounce here, another there to the world market every day.

One last thing - the Gold diggers in the Yukon are really dredging up the land to the bedrock for any and all pieces - gold flour they call it - and turning that portion of the world into a huge tailing pile. It's sort of depressing to watch, but it's easy to see how once bitten by the gold bug, there's no conscience.

Kinda corny...

At World Economic Forum, Fear of Global Contagion Dominates

My first thought was - virus - however, Europe is the main concern.

"But as the people who run much of the planet wrapped up the annual festival of influence known as the World Economic Forum on Saturday, any sense of achievement was hard to discern. The participants arrived amid elevated unemployment in many economies, worries about government budget deficits, and fears that contagion from a financial crisis in Europe could infect the rest of the world. They went home with all of these worries intact, and perhaps reinforced."

Makes me wonder what the G8 summit in Chicago is going to look like - lots of cracking down on the protesters.

Activists plan protests at G8 and NATO summits in Chicago

I think TPTB at Davos are finally awakening to the possibility of a deflationary spiral. George Soros warned of that last week and here are comments by World Bank President Robert Zoellick from the article:

You're going to see a credit contraction as the banks pull back
This has got to have effects on influence, perceptions of power in the world that are going to be quite significant for years to come
Whatever we see come out over the course of this year and the next year, the world is never going to go back to the way it was...

Stoneleigh and Ilargi at The Automatic Earth are probably feeling rather smug these days, with good reason...

E. Swanson

"Stoneleigh and Ilargi at The Automatic Earth are probably feeling rather smug these days, with good reason..."

Their prognosis should never have been in doubt.
Even as maths challenged as I am I can see that adding more bad debt to
bad debt doesn't yield less bad debt.

There have been all sorts of predictions of a deflationary debt collapse spiral since 2007. It is certainly a great worry, and there is a small possibility that debt will be extinguished through a deflationary collapse in the post peak oil world.

But anyone who has predicted a collapse in total credit, to put it nicely, has been wrong. For example, total debt in the US has never declined in recent years. See the Federal Reserve data: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/Current/z1r-1.pdf

It is much more likely the way that debts in general will be extinguished is not through a deflationary collapse (with lower prices and less debt) but through various forms of inflationary actions by the ECB, Fed, IMF, etc. (with higher prices and more debt).

Bad debts are essentially being directly assumed by governments or international agencies, if not directly then indirectly mostly by supporting failing financial institutions left holding the bags of bad debts and then paying off their bad debts with debt-financed government bailouts.

Not saying this is the best policy to pursue, since there is even more bad debt, but it is the policy being followed.

"Bad debts are essentially being directly assumed by governments or international agencies.." ..as in socialized onto the general population. These private institutions are, after all, to big to fail (at least their political clout and contributions are).

That was the horrid mistake Ireland's PM made. And now the country has a grim future, and young people are emigrating to escape it.

Who benefited from the mistake?

Stoneleigh and Ilargi at The Automatic Earth are probably feeling rather smug these days, with good reason...Stoneleigh and Ilargi at The Automatic Earth are probably feeling rather smug these days, with good reason...

Well they shouldn't. While private sector debt is contracting, public sector debt is expanding and overall debt is growing. The governments and the central banks will do what it takes (print money) to prevent a deflationary collapse. If the US government were to revalue gold at $12,000/oz they can print enough money to comfortably pay their debt and also meet unfunded obligations. Eventually that will happen.

Makes me wonder what the G8 summit in Chicago is going to look like - lots of cracking down on the protesters.

Wonder no more....the Canadians have shown the way.

Press For Truth Presents Into The Fire
World leaders and activists from around the world gathered for the G20 Summit. With over 19,000 police officers and security personnel on hand, the results lead to over 1100 arrests, martial law in downtown Toronto, and the most massive violation of civil liberties in Canadian history.


The real mistake the Canadian government made was holding it in Toronto, which foreign protesters can easily get to. They should have held it some Northern community that protesters could only get to with 2 weeks of canoe paddling, or a private aircraft which the government would then deny permission to land.

Anyway, the Canadian government didn't declare marshal law, the Ontario government used the Ontario Public Works Protection Act, and deemed the G-20 conference to be a "Public Work" which put the following rules into effect:

Powers of guard or peace officer
3.A guard or peace officer,
(a) may require any person entering or attempting to enter any public work or any approach thereto to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work, in writing or otherwise;
(b) may search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work or a vehicle in the charge or under the control of any such person or which has recently been or is suspected of having been in the charge or under the control of any such person or in which any such person is a passenger; and
(c) may refuse permission to any person to enter a public work and use such force as is necessary to prevent any such person from so entering.

So, Toronto police could request protesters' IDs to enter the area and if they refused, could use "such force as is necessary" to keep them out, interpretation of which is up to the police. Many foreigners probably didn't know this and thought some kind of foreign rules on ID applied.

OTOH, if things really got serious, the Mayor of Toronto would have read the Riot Act (an old but classic Canadian tradition) which involves standing up in a public place and saying:

Her Majesty the Queen charges and commands all persons being assembled immediately to disperse and peaceably to depart to their habitations or to their lawful business on the pain of being guilty of an offence for which, on conviction, they may be sentenced to imprisonment for life. God Save the Queen.

And then the protesters would be butt deep in doo-doo, because the Canadian Army would show up with machine guns and flamethrowers to disperse the crowd (they always have in the past). That is more what people mean by "marshal law", although Canadian government action is not required, the Mayor could call in the Army on his own authority.

In reality during riots the Canadian Army has seldom machine-gunned anybody, and even less frequently has put them in jail for life or lit them up with a flamethrower, but the mere possibility usually persuades crowds to retreat quietly.

"In reality during riots the Canadian Army has seldom machine-gunned anybody...or lit them up with a flamethrower"

Well, that's a relief.

"The real mistake... was holding it in Toronto"

That about sums it up - the APEC summit was hosted in Hawaii last year. I live here. Hawaii, despite being democratic, is very socially conservative, and it's distant from the mainland and mainland protestors. Even more effective than the massive barriers and military presence (they blocked off Kapiolani avenue at the convention center, though it's one of the main streets through town) was the fact that only us people here would protest, and being socially conservative, mostly won't.

Honestly, I didn't care until I saw the barriers and the hummers, and almost got stuck going home (just barely got there before they blocked off the street) when the presidential motocade went through my neighborhood. My anti-authoritarian streak comes out strong when people make a big deal of themselves. Personally, I hope these sort of events go very badly for the powers in charge, because they're so out of touch and act like kings.


"walking away from energy-intensive lifestyles before the waning of the age of abundant energy brings them grinding to a halt—is a viable response to the crisis of our age, but it’s also a great way to poke a stick at some of the most deeply entrenched of the modern world’s dysfunctional habits of thinking.

Suggest it in public, for example, and you’ll very quickly learn why all that talk about saving the planet has turned out to be empty air: everyone’s quite willing to watch someone else make sacrifices for the good of the biosphere, but ask them to make sacrifices themselves and you’ll see just how far their love of the planet extends.".........

Poppycock. These choices have never been offered, so nobody knows how the public would react. The Archdruid is a Republican in a wizard costume. Massively over-rated.

Michael - "These choices have never been offered...". I'm missing your point. Ever since I got my first paycheck after getting out of school I've been making choices: buy a PU that gets 11 mpg or a small car that gets 30 mpg; a big house with a $800/month utility bill or a small one that cost $120/month to run; live 50 miles from the office (with no public transport) or live 4 miles away on a bus line; etc; etc. I can't think of a single energe expense that I didn't have complete control over which way I went. Sometimes I made energy efficient choices...sometimes not. But no one conned me into making bad choices...I did what I did because I wanted to. You seem to be describing a public with no will of their own that isn't capable of making wise choices. That's not been my personal experience. Almost all the bad situations I've seen folks get into happened because of what they chose to do...not because some puppet master was pulling their strings. And that includes the Rockman. Pretty much every really bad thing that has ever happened to me was due either my bad choices or Mother Earth's whimsey.

Greer's essay is mostly on how the most energy efficient choices in our society are penalized beyond the self-imposed penalty of choosing to not consume in a particular way, and how choosing to consume to excess is rewarded further.

It isn't that people don't have the ability to make choices, it is that making a particular set of choices that are not in everyone's long term interests is rewarded.

Since you get the results you incentivize, this means that responsible conservation is not the norm. It isn't a surprise to any systems analyst who thinks about it, but there aren't a whole lot of systems analysts out there.

In the 1970's Jimmy Carter told us we needed to cut back, wear a sweater, insulate our houses and invest in renewable energy. We replaced him with an actor who told us it's morning in America. As Winston Churchill is purported to have said, People get the government they deserve.

Now we're crying that 'nobody told us?' Not buying it.


The trouble is that at the time, "somebody was telling us" of almost every halfway plausible scenario conceivable. It's always a bit foolhardy to make predictions if they're about the future, and both Carter and "the actor" were quite foolish in that respect. Indeed, Carter soon became a laughingstock for a great many people, and remained so for a good 20 years.

So yes, nobody told us back then in any way that could matter, that is, in any way that a lay voter could possibly isolate from the noise. Maybe that even continues for the time being, since it's all a matter of speculation about the future, a future which, after all, hasn't happened yet. Too bad the whole business can't be resolved this afternoon with a nice sprinkle of fairy dust, but there it is.


Your assertion illustrates one of Humanities greatest blind spots: the focus on the short-term, and the inability to focus on the longer-term.

Carter was right...in the longer run...but since no one wanted to hear the truth, Reagan was able to fluff up our psyches and generate some temporary good times...which were continued by Clinton,

...and then Bush Jr. re-jump-started us after the dot-comm crash and 9-11 by inspiring us to 'support the troops' and do our patriotic duty by going shopping...

...Bush, then mainly Obama, initiated a third shock from the defib paddles with the stimulus and TARP and so forth...

...note how the patient's remission period keeps getting shorter and the patient's vital signs during each subsequent remission never return to their previous high points...

...kind of like what I read about certain medical folks' assertions that yo-yo dieting/binging is really hard on the body...

But, even now the publicists of BAU are advocating growth as the solution...

SciAm has a current article advocating increased use of pesticides, herbicide, fungicides, fertilizes, better practices, etc. to 'triple World cacao yields'...this is supposedly in the name of helping the impoverished African/SA, Malaysian farmers...never mind the consequences of increasing the chemical loads in the various ecosystems, or the possibility that tripling yields might actually drive prices down...and why again, do we need three times the chocolate supply?


And our friends at 'The Economist' have an article which advocates raising the living standards of the ~> 1 B people in Africa, to be evidenced someday by a picture from space showing the African continent's night-time lighting burning as brightly as Europe's, India's, or North Ams' lighting.


Resources and sinks?

The free market will provide...growth is obviously the answer.

It is morning in Africa...

"....kind of like what I read about certain medical folks' assertions that yo-yo dieting/binging is really hard on the body..."

... which is what we get with election cycles and why Greer (and Foss, and Kunstler, etc.) all are saying a top-down, central approach isn't going to work. It isn't our governments that are broken so much as our culture; we're telling ourselves the wrong stories. Not sure how you fix that, but whatever the catalyst is likely won't be pleasant for most, and solutions may not work at scale.

Turn off the TV. It's a good place to start.


I hear you...but...aren't culture and government inseparable?

...We the People...

Government is not some construct imposed by Aliens...it is from us!

I am very selective about what I watch on TV...My family enjoys movies (almost always in the living room venue)...of course the Internet is both a great resource and a great consumer of time...


In all these media, one must be savvy and vigilant about how to incorporate info, while simultaneously not being taken in (fooled) by folks, and also not developing too brittle of a filter and living in one's own echo chamber...

The thing about culture and government, is that they are always in flux, and of course, not always in sync either. I agree that they're intertwined, but they're also malleable, not that any few of us have the power or omniscience to push those changes to our will.. but they do and will change.

I think the comment about 'the story we tell ourselves' is the key, and that other stories need to be written and told which help show the most plausible explanations for where we actually are today, and why other more familiar stories, 'Breakfast in America', f'rinstance.. really aren't working or ringing true.

I need to look at some depression era stuff, to see what memories we might be able to evoke from a piece of US history that the society doesn't just reject out of hand. That period (seemingly returning) is part of our classic lore, and I think it could be tapped to find new narratives that will offer ways of understanding what's happening now, and what to be aware that it can become.

The thirties gave the world Hitler, WWII, and eventually the narrative of American exceptionalism. What will it take to snap us out of our current funk?

That time period also gave us other things, not all of them bad. But it was also in the ascendency of Petroleum giving us just Too much power, which I don't think helped us make the best choices.

We get to choose, at least, which wolf to feed. (To Whit..)

A Cherokee Elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride and superiority. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old man simply replied, "The one you feed."

( http://shotgunchelle.hubpages.com/hub/Dreaming-of-Wolves -Searches show lots of sources for this story, take your pick, her ref# link was a dead end)

Of Germany and America, which country is currently better positioned to produce a charismatic leader in a time of anger and austerity?

We make and sell weapons and weapon systems. We don't supply the world with gloves, pans, rope, tools, or toys.

There is much talk of war. More war...

We the People...Government is not some construct imposed by Aliens...it is from us!

Do you mean 'Citizens United" people here?

While "we the people" are supposed to be the font where the mighty river of Liberty flows - is that actually the case or just lip service?

The CIA, Benjamin Franklin and others stated America is a Republic - yet how often do you hear "America is a Republic" VS "America is a Democracy"? Ya sure what one is told "this is truth" is actual "truth"?

Your assertion illustrates one of Humanities greatest blind spots: the focus on the short-term, and the inability to focus on the longer-term.

Possibly so in part, but even with 20/20 sight - sight, mind, not hindsight - how, really, was your average voter in Carter's day supposed to sort out a plethora of contradictory assertions then being propounded about the future? As Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." That certainly applies in spades to model-based assertions about resource peaking (or climate, too, for that matter.)

Sure, one can simplify the model by asserting that the economy simply can't grow to infinite size on a finite planet. Indubitably so, but the subject of this tautology is the far future, so it is of little help. The relevant question was whether there was any genuine need in Carter's day for people to, well, go back to the past by resorting to wearing sweaters indoors instead of being nice and comfortable. It turned out at the time, irrespective of hindsight that the whole notion was quickly seen as a spectacular FAIL.

The present-day question remains whether there is some practicable way to make current assertions about resource depletion (or climate) distinguishable, as opposed to indistinguishable, from magic - and also distinguishable from political ideology, since so many of the propounded remedies coincide conveniently with authors' dearly held notions of how to remake and purify society. I'm not a "communication" specialist - so I really don't have an answer, except that I might expect some shift once some event finally occurs that's obviously off the charts.

Note that as a matter of social reality, "obviously" will not denote, say, a 57-page academic paper performing a statistical analysis yielding error bands as broad as a barn, excavated magically from a gigantic, impenetrable heap of integral-calculus equations. Nor will it denote a shortage of some resource under circumstances where best efforts are failing to be applied to the extraction/production of said resource, because, for example, the authorities appear - rightly or wrongly - to be standing in the way.

We agree that shifts will occur in the future...I would think likely in a series of uneven step-downs, maybe some bumpy plateaus, maybe even a few small, short-lived gains...maybe instead of the zombie apocalypse we will see a somewhat gradual, if uneven decline, in which many people will adjust over time.

It would be interesting to track VMT and per-capita electricity use, etc over time.

Jimmy Carter also cut more Amtrak service than any other president, including the Desert Wind, the Pioneer, and the South Wind. As a result Las Vegas, Louisville, Nashville, and Montgomery were all left without Amtrak service, and still have none today. He wanted to cut more, but Congress stopped him. Hacking away at a fragile conventional passenger rail system while Europe was building a high speed rail network wasn't visionary and was not in the public interest. It certainly didn't square with an understanding of moving off of crude oil, imported or otherwise.

In his Oval Office speech, he said that, effective immediately, the USA would not use "one drop" more imported oil than we were using then, and he set a goal for 20 percent of our energy to be solar by 2000. The goals were not realistic, but they could still have served as a means to change the culture. Unfortunately, he didn't lay out the reasons, didn't inspire the country, and thus didn't make the sale.

Carter does deserve credit for signing the Staggers Act deregulating the railroads. Opening up the free enterprise system and eliminating the Interstate Commerce Commission saved the freight rail system. Without that legislation the state of the American rail system would have been very sorry indeed, and our peak oil challenge would be far greater.


Great info, thanks!

TOD is a great resource, thanks to these kind of inputs.

I second this - and I ponder why the pro-train-ers had not pointed this out?

Cutting Amtrak was one of those Faustian bargains all Presidents must make to get some of the things they want. Amtrak was in tatters at the time; an easy target. IIRC, they sacrificed these routes to save/upgrade routes in the eastern megalopolis (where much of Carter's support base was). Besides, Amtrak didn't go to Plains ;-/

Do you blame the person for not being inspiring, or the country for not being willing to be inspired (or to listen to reason)?

Once he got the clear message that the people of this country were not interested in conservation, he had few options but to start stumbling in the direction that Reagan later marched in.

Carter created the Cabinet level Department of Energy.
The 1978 Energy Act included PURPA (required utilities to buy power from cogens/renewables and pay at least avoided cost). It also included tax credits for residential solar (my father took this credit for solar DHW and also insulated the house), wind, and geothermal. The credits were increased in 1980 using money from oil company windfall profits taxes (which were eliminated in 1988). It also instituted the gas guzzler tax on individual cars. It also included the Natural Gas Policy Act, which ended natural gas shortages (among other things) by allowing wellhead natural gas prices to rise briefly spurring increased production and reduced consumption, until the effects of the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act (which effectively stopped construction of non-cogen oil/gas fired power plants) caused consumption to drop dramatically, and prices fell farther. FUA was reversed in 1987 which caused natural gas consumption to trend upward. In 1981 Carter's NHTSA noticed a schedule for increasing CAFE standards to 48mpg by 1995. Reagan reversed it 3 months later.

U.S. oil consumption did not exceed 1978 levels until 1998.

Republican in a wizard costume.

Sheesh. That essay is rather long, very possibly too long, but did you even skim it? I doubt that the essay, or even the blog as a whole, overrated or not, will garner him much Republican cred:

Still, even among white Americans, the dream of freedom somewhere on the far side of the horizon could at least theoretically have expressed itself in many different ways. It so happens that nowadays, at least, it almost always expresses itself through the automobile. This is why Americans cling to their cars with such frantic intensity, and why Republican politicians—always a better barometer of the American mass psyche than their Democrat rivals—so reflexively treat any alternative to the private car as a threat to America’s freedom.

Any Republican cred he gets, even here for the "barometer" remark, will evaporate in a flash the instant the larger implications sink in. (And given the Democrats' frantic efforts to bail out the car companies, they would do best simply to shut up.)

Oh, and the set of attitudes and beliefs about limits and horizons is not likely to be altered simply by bringing in a more liberal (in the American sense) set of puppet-masters charged with forcing people (on pain, ultimately, of state violence) to change their choices. But maybe that lack of simplicity is the real annoyance, just because it doesn't bode well for glib wand-waving and scapegoating?

We always have a choice as Rockman pointed out above. It's just that we can't differentiate ourselves if we choose a low footprint lifestyle. How do you make out if someone is rich or poor if both of them ride a $200 bike and wear inexpensive clothes.

Stoneleigh (Nicole Foss), in an interview I missed from last October in Florence, Italy (may have been discussed here, but worth revisiting, IMO), gives her take on the reason for the invasion of Iraq; Jeffery Brown's (Westexas) ELM. Way to go, Jeff. She posits (in part) that the war was a success because so much infrastructure was destroyed that it set Iraq's internal consumption back a decade or more, keeping that oil handy in the region for imperial military exploits, etc., so it was a war for oil, just not in the way that many assume.

Interesting concept; if you want to keep exports flowing, simply destroy producers' ability to burn it themselves.

Scroll down at TAE for video, about 26:20 in.

That link goes to TAE home page. Can you supply correct link?

Scroll down at TAE for video, about 26:20 in.

I guess you missed that part...

Thanks, sb. I was searching youtube when guests showed up at the house. After all, we're proud of the customer service here on TOD :-/

"Prepper" movie of the week.

Phase 7

Plot : A man and his 7-month-pregnant wife move into a new apartment building, which gets quarantined when a global pandemic breaks out. The storyline of what happens next between neighbors, one of whom has been preparing.

Produced in Argentina, English subtitles. Medium-sized popcorn for a snowy day.

MSM prepper alert: For those who watched the pilot for "Doomsday Preppers", the new series starts Feb 7th on NatGeo. Those of us who have worked towards a more independent lifestyle may cringe a bit, as some of the folks selected for the show may be presented as somewhat nonsensical, but then again, anyone who wants to expose themselves and their lifestyles to MSM-filtered worldwide scrutiny doesn't have much sense to begin with.

Doomsday prepping won't do much good.

Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine tells why:


It certainly doesn't hurt. Besides, most folks I know who've adopted more independent alternative lifestyles never refer to themselves as 'doomsday preppers' or 'survivalists', etc. Those are generally labels assigned by those who don't get it. Then again, I sometimes call folks who work hard to pay a power bill (and gas/water/sewage bill) every month as "gridweenies", so I suppose we're all guilty to some degree ;-)

Think of it as a hobby... but don't show up at my place WTSHTF. Reservations are filled.

I relate to the moniker/idea of 'Debt Slave'...

You are living the good life!

I'm not an especially paranoid person, but I do think it makes sense to have extra stocks of various things - having been through week-long power outages, 5 feet of snow blocking the roads, and various other relatively common occurrences, a safety net is a smart thing.

While I don't have 3 months of MREs in the pantry, I do keep a lot of extra dry goods, and it's great being able to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in the back yard, and know how to store them.

I'm not sure what value storing a lot of seeds would be to someone who doesn't know how to grow them into edible produce. Barter, possibly. What seems important to me is developing the skillsets needed for living more simply.

I doubt I'd do well in a "Last person standing" kind of world.

In case you are saying to yourself - hey where can I read more doom and gloom:
http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/ (I got there because of this gem)

Bacteria that can resist nearly all antibiotics have been found in Antarctic seawater. Björn Olsen of Uppsala University in Sweden and colleagues took seawater samples between 10 and 300 meters away from Chile’s Antarctic research stations, Bernardo O’Higgins, Arturo Prat and Fildes Bay. A quarter of the samples of Escherichia coli bacteria carried genes that made an enzyme called ESBL, which can destroy penicillin, cephalosporins and related antibiotics. Bacteria with these genes can be even more dangerous than the better known superbug MRSA. That’s because the genes sit on a mobile chunk of DNA that can be acquired by many species of bacteria, increasing the incidence of drug-resistant infections such as the E. coli outbreak last year in Germany. The type of ESBL they found, called CTX-M, is common in bacteria in people, and the Uppsala study found that concentrations of resistant bacteria were higher close to the sewage outfalls from the stations. Some Antarctic stations started shipping out human feces for incineration after gut bacteria were found nearby. Chile’s research stations have virtually no sewage treatment in place, says Olsen. Recent work shows the bacteria may hang on to the genes for CTX-M even when no longer exposed to antibiotics, suggesting that superbugs can survive in the wild, with animals acting as a reservoir. Penguins near the Chilean stations have been checked and are free of ESBL, though Olsen is now looking at the area’s gulls as he has found ESBL-producing bugs in gulls in France. “If these genes are in Antarctica, it’s an indication of how far this [problem] has gone,” he says.


Comments to "Obstacles Facing Wind Energy" has been turned off so I'm replying here to your reply to me.

Incumbent industries (and their member companies) historically have posed great resistance to change. Here is a quote from a book on a history of trains around the world regarding the electrification of the rails:

"The main reason for this slow progress was, that in a world where commercial interests are of paramount importance, technical innovations that call for radical changes in established practice and the existing patterns of investment are usually unwelcome. This was particularly the case with electric traction, which was seen as a threat to the supreme alliance of coal and steam as the source of all industrial power. Coal was of vital importance to the economy of all industrial countries, and its transhipment was a principal source of railway revenues. Therefore, any threat to the consumption of coal was construed by the railways as a threat to themselves, and by the same token they were strongly opposed to electrification and the use of electricity as a source of industrial power."

Lucky for us the railroads failed.

Other examples are Thomas Edison trying to stop George Westinghouse and Alternating Current and the efforts of the AM Radio industry to slow down the introduction of FM radio.

What Sweden can teach us .....

Well how about what Finland can teach all of us ..!!!
It's hard to watch and come away thinking .. yeah .. Nuclear power ..

The following link is to Part 1 of 5.


I apologise to the film maker in advance if I'm pointing to an illegal upload to YouTube - it wasn't me .. !

This from the film makers own site:


In Finland the world's first permanent repository is being hewn out of solid rock - a huge system of underground tunnels - that must last 100,000 years as this is how long the waste remains hazardous.

Once the waste has been deposited and the repository is full, the facility is to be sealed off and never opened again. Or so we hope, but can we ensure that? And how is it possible to warn our descendants of the deadly waste we left behind? How do we prevent them from thinking they have found the pyramids of our time, mystical burial grounds, hidden treasures? Which languages and signs will they understand? And if they understand, will they respect our instructions?

will they understand

The reason WIPP exits.

This place is not a place of honor.
No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here.
Nothing valued is here.
This place is a message and part of a system of messages.
Pay attention to it!
Sending this message was important to us.
We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

Just for general interest. Any ideas?

Blue marble mystery rains over Dorset garden
Bournemouth man tries to identify jelly-like balls that fell in his back yard during 'hail storm'