Drumbeat: February 11, 2012

The Future of American Colleges May Lie, Literally, in Students' Hands

Some critics say colleges should use technology to scale up; others go so far as to bemoan the physical campus as an unnecessary, expensive burden in an online world. In that cultural and economic climate, liberal-arts colleges have been at pains to articulate their usefulness. They have emphasized that they teach students how to think, how to be engaged, world citizens—not merely how to do a job.

I agree that a liberal-arts education provides those intangibles. But maybe it's time that instruction—at least at some colleges—included more hands-on, traditional skills. Both the professional sphere and civic life are going to need people who have a sophisticated understanding of the world and its challenges, but also the practical, even old-fashioned know-how to come up with sustainable solutions.

Environmental Sustainability Issues Among Key Topics at CERAWeek 2012

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Persistent economic concerns, unease over energy security and the question of how to meet energy objectives while addressing environmental concerns have made sustainability one of the key topics for this year’s 31st Annual CERAWeek conference, being held March 5-9 in Houston.

Richard Heinberg schools Vancouver on the new economic reality

How much do regular folks really know about the economy? Richard Heinberg wants you to understand one crucial thing about it. It’s finished.

The Politics of Keystone, Take 2

Somewhat to my surprise, the most reasoned Keystone opponent I spoke to this week was Bill McKibben, who led the protests against it. Although the tar sands ranks as “the second biggest pool of carbon in the world,” he told me, “Keystone, by itself, won’t make or break the environment.”

Rather, he said, he and other environmentalists had decided to draw this particular line in the sand because stopping Keystone would help accelerate what he described as the difficult transition from a fossil fuel economy to a new, brighter world based on renewable sources of energy. “The most sensible way to go about dealing with global warming is one pipeline at a time,” he said. “These kinds of fights are extremely important because they are the way the message gets out that we need to change.”

The Hidden U.S. Export Boom

Today’s topic: a hidden U.S. export boom. There’s starting to be more and more coverage in the mainstream media, but I still wonder whether it’s sunk in to most Americans just how historic the changes going on right now in oil production in the United States really are. Last year, for the first time since the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) began comprehensive data (in 1993), annual U.S. crude exports of petroleum products exceeded imports in 2011 (see Figure 1).

Two Mexican Gulf oil ports close due to weather

(Reuters) - Two of Mexico's three main oil export hubs in the Gulf of Mexico, Cayo Arcas and Dos Bocas, were closed on Saturday due to poor weather, port authorities said.

Total Preps to Move into Iraqi Kurdistan

France's Total is preparing the ground to become the next oil major to move into Iraqi Kurdistan, negotiating over two blocks following Exxon Mobil's deal with the semi-autonomous region last year, Kurdish and industry sources said.

Billions at stake as Russia backs Syria

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Russia's controversial stance in the Syrian crisis has left many wondering what Moscow stands to gain by backing the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Analysts say political and strategic concerns are Russia's primary motivation: Moscow is pushing back against what it sees as excessive Western interventionism in sovereign states, and fears losing an old ally that is its last foothold in the Middle East.

But economic ties -- valuable military contracts and energy investments that could be lost if the Assad regime fails -- play a key role as well.

Saudis Said to Ship All Committed March Oil to Japan, China

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Co. will supply all its contracted volumes of crude to Japanese and Chinese customers in March, said three refinery officials who received notification from the world’s biggest exporter.

Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, will supply 100 percent of shipments committed under long-term contracts for a 28th month, according to the refiners in Japan and China. They declined to be identified because of confidentiality agreements with the Dhahran-based company.

Asia seeks more Saudi crude

Asian refiners are seeking additional crude from top exporter Saudi Arabia in a scramble to secure supplies to feed rising energy demand, as depending on Iran becomes increasingly difficult due to tighter sanctions.

Additional sales add to the growing list of evidence that the kingdom and other exporters are increasing shipments to top Asian consumers and taking away market share from Iran, Opec’s second-largest producer.

Saudis Export One Million Barrels of Crude to Korea, Riyadh Says

Saudi Arabia is exporting more than one million barrels a day of crude oil to South Korea, Riyadh newspaper reported, citing S-Oil Corp. (010950)’s Chief Executive Officer Ahmed A. Subaey.

Indian refiners seek 2.6m bbl extra Saudi oil

Indian refiners have sought at least 2.6 million barrels extra supplies from Saudi Aramco for March, according to sources familiar with the plan.

India's Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited has sought an extra 600,000 barrel cargo, two sources said.

India, Praising U.S. Ties, Defends Buying Iran’s Oil

NEW DELHI — Ranjan Mathai, the Indian foreign secretary, made the rounds in Washington last week, describing India’s relationship with the United States as one of growing comfort, depth and candor, if not perfect harmony. On that last point he could have been talking about the recent frictions between the two countries over Iran.

India’s determination to continue buying Iranian oil, despite sanctions and growing political pressure from the United States and Europe, has frustrated officials in Washington at a time when the forward momentum in the United States-India relationship has slowed, with differences over issues including civil nuclear cooperation, trade protectionism and military sales.

Pipeline would make Canada a global oil player

Kitamaat Village, British Columbia - The latest chapter in Canada's quest to become a full-blown oil superpower unfolded last month in a village gym on the British Columbia coast.

Here, several hundred people gathered for hearings on whether a pipeline should be laid from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific in order to deliver oil to Asia, chiefly energy-hungry China. The stakes are particularly high for the village of Kitamaat and its neighbors, because the pipeline would terminate here and a port would be built to handle 220 tankers a year and 525,000 barrels of oil a day.

China oil deal aided by ‘panda diplomacy’

CANADA’S prime minister Stephen Harper wrapped up a visit to China aimed at boosting oil sales by announcing yesterday that Beijing will lend two of the country’s prized giant pandas to Canadian zoos.

Pemex reforms 'require $25bn a year'

Pemex will need to invest more than $25.2 billion a year over the next few years as it strives to become “highly competitive, safe and sustainable”, its chief executive has said.

Gas is cut while Europe freezes

Thankfully, the cuts did not create a new energy crisis for the EU. Moreover, the gas contracts that the EU has with Russia allow for a certain amount of flexibility in the event Russia needs extra gas, which was the case this time. However, it was a timely reminder of the need to quicken the pace of the work on the diversification of supply routes and sources projects.

India: Industrial workers raise a hue and cry about outages

COIMBATORE: All trade and industrial establishments in Coimbatore district downed their shutters on Friday to protest the erratic power cuts and failure of the state government to resolve the issue. Black flags were hoisted on top of 40,000 industrial units and employees who stayed away from work undertook a protest march in Coimbatore and Mettupalayam. Over 15,000 industrial workers and their supervisors observed a fast in Gandhipuram till the afternoon, pressing for an immediate solution to the power crisis.

Fuel crisis hits consumers hard

KATHMANDU: The fuel crisis has been hitting consumers hard for the last two months. People have been facing an acute shortage of petroleum products— diesel, petrol, kerosene and cooking gas— but government agencies have remained silent observers and have not done anything worthwhile to solve the crisis, blamed consumer rights activist Jyoti Baniya.

Norfolk Island running on fumes as residents grapple with fuel shortage

Barry Soley, who runs a petrol station on the island, said some motorists had filled up during panic-buying earlier this week. Others had "missed the boat"and did not even have enough fuel for their lawnmowers.

Mr Nobbs said tourists hiring rental cars would be allowed to fill up with A$50 (£34) of petrol. They were being given priority, because "the tourism industry is what supports the island", he said. Locals, he suggested, should take in the beautiful scenery while travelling around under their own steam.

Group Taken Aback by Marcellus Legislation Impact Fees

Members of the Associated Petroleum Industries of PA are still examining how the local impact fee will affect their operations and creation of associated jobs, said Stephanie Catarino Wissman, the organization's executive director.

Japan considers green future after nuclear disaster

In the long process of rebuilding after the triple disasters, the country should focus on renewable energy.

U.S. Oil Fields Stage “Great Revival,” But No Easing Gas Prices

The United States has long been seen as a nation in its twilight as an oil producer, facing a relentless decline that began when President Richard Nixon was in the White House. He and every president since pledged to halt the U.S. slide into greater dependence on foreign oil, but the trend seemed irreversible—until now. Forty-one years later, U.S. oil production is on the rise.

..."A 'great revival' in U.S. oil production is taking shape," said Jim Burkhard, managing director of the energy consultancy IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates in testimony last month before a U.S. Senate committee. The resurgence provides the United States a welcome measure of energy security at a time of global economic uncertainty and geopolitical risk, he said.

Yet the U.S. government's own energy analysts and many experts see a limit to this new gusher. The technological advances that have driven the revival—high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling—can only squeeze so much more crude out of the U.S. landscape, they say. Projections are that U.S. oil production will never again reach the lofty heights of the 1960s, even without environmental concerns slowing development or hampering industry with new costs.

Oil Declines From Highest Level in Three Weeks as Greek Bailout Held Back

Oil dropped from a three-week high as euro-area finance ministers refused to approve a rescue package for Greece, boosting concern that the European debt crisis will reduce fuel demand.

Futures fell 1.2 percent after Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the group of euro-area finance chiefs, said yesterday that Greece won’t get financial aid until it implements an austerity plan. The International Energy Agency also cut its 2012 global oil demand forecast for a sixth month, citing a “darkening” economic outlook.

US natgas rigs at 28-month low, prices squeeze profits

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States fell last week to the lowest level in 28 months as producers continued a rapid cut in activity in the face of ultra-low prices.

The gas rig count fell for the fifth straight week, by 25 to 720, completing the biggest two-week drop in three months, according to data from Houston-based oil services firm Baker Hughes on Friday.

Low Natural-Gas Prices Hold Back Power Plant Development-AEP CEO

NEW YORK – Low U.S. natural-gas prices have made it tough for developers to build new power plants in competitive electricity markets, which could affect the electric grid, the chief executive of American Electric Power Co. said Friday.

‘Masked men’ battle Saudi troops, 1 dies

RIYADH: One person was killed and three wounded when security forces exchanged gunfire with “masked men” in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich east, the official SPA news agency reported yesterday. Activists and witnesses said the casualties came when security forces opened fire on a Shiite demonstration in the Qatif district of the kingdom’s Eastern Province.

Gazprom's Empire at the End of the Earth

The Russian energy giant has a lot riding on the success of a massive new gas field 250 miles above the Arctic Circle. So does Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

Russia resumes Novorossiisk oil loadings-Transneft

(Reuters) - Russia resumed crude oil exports URL-E on Friday night from the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, crippled by the worst weather for the past 10 years, a spokesman for Transneft said on Saturday.

Nigeria Probes Possible Fraud Over $12.6 Billion Subsidies

Nigeria’s parliament is probing whether fraudulent practices by government agencies fueled a fivefold rise in spending on gasoline subsidies in the past three years, said the head of the investigating committee.

Nigerian president's state votes amid tight security

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerians voted amid tight security in a governorship election on Saturday in President Goodluck Jonathan's restive and oil-rich home state of Bayelsa, where last week militants attacked a major oil pipeline.

Gunmen assassinate Syrian army general in Damascus

BEIRUT (AP) – Gunmen assassinated an army general in Damascus on Saturday in the first killing of a high ranking military officer in the Syrian capital since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March, the state-run news agency said.

OSG Says Oil-Tanker Pool Will Halt Trading in Iran After Europe Sanctions

Overseas Shipholding Group Inc., the largest U.S. crude-tanker owner, said the pool in which its ships operate will no longer go to Iran after the European Union agreed to an embargo on oil from the Persian Gulf nation.

Analysis: Sanctions on Iran underscore delicate situation

INTERNATIONAL sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports are inflicting economic pain but may well fail to force Tehran to compromise on its nuclear ambitions and may make it more intransigent.

The measures could also boomerang by driving up oil prices, hitting the jittery global economy, analysts say.

U.S. Attack on Iran ‘Suicide,’ Would Spark Reprisal, Russian Envoy Says

A U.S. attack on Iran would be “suicide” that would prompt retaliation, said Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi, the Persian Gulf country’s ambassador to Russia,

“Iran has very good access to the whole world to carry out strikes against America,” he told reporters in Moscow today, adding that no pre-emptive strike is planned.

Petrobras struggles to hit investment, output goals

(Reuters) - Petrobras cut investment in 2011 for the first time in eight years as Brazil's state-run energy company struggled to buy the equipment, technology and services needed to carry out a $225 billion (142 billion pound) expansion plan and exploit one of the world's most promising offshore oil frontiers.

China Welcome to Boost Investment in Canadian Oil Industry, Oliver Says

Canadian Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said he’s assuring Chinese officials that the nation is welcome to expand investments in Canada’s oil industry.

Canada doesn’t have sufficient capital to fully develop its oil reserves, Oliver said in an interview, adding the key factor in government approval will be whether investments are being made for “commercial” purposes.

The Next American Oil Boom?

Decline rates.


There are not very many people outside the “Peak Oil” crowd who care — heck, even know — what “decline rates” are.

Indonesia plans unprocessed metal export ban in 2014

JAKARTA: Indonesia will ban exports of some unprocessed metals from 2014 and could revoke the export licences of firms that violate the ban, the energy ministry said in a regulation that was posted on its website on Friday but later disappeared. Minerals covered by the ban, which has been widely discussed, include copper, gold, silver, nickel, tin, bauxite and zinc. Coal will be regulated separately.

US Ambassador: No One Wants to Harm Beautiful Bulgaria

The Ambassador was critical to Chevron, saying they arrived in Bulgaria somewhat unprepared and failed to offer enough information on shale gas to Bulgarians.

"No one wants to harm the environment and Bulgaria is an extremely beautiful country. In any way, the company does not have intentions to begin exploring shale gas before 2015 – we are talking about a future period," the diplomat told the host.

Keystone backers try to hitch ride on Senate highway bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican senators who back the Keystone XL pipeline plan to file an amendment that would attach the project to highway funding legislation on Monday, another step in their quest to overturn President Barack Obama's decision to put the project on hold.

Ohio petroleum producers decry call for penalties

COLUMBUS -- Ohio petroleum producers are pushing back against a call by the state attorney general to increase environmental penalties and chemical reporting requirements on the drilling industry.

Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine has recommended three changes that he says will bring Ohio in line with other drilling states and allow effective enforcement against violators.

US urges for openness at Gulf oil spill trial

NEW ORLEANS -- The federal government's lead lawyer in an upcoming trial over fault in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill urged judges on Friday to make public sensitive business documents and testimony.

Don’t let BP fines paid for spill disappear into federal black hole

Well, BP’s bill is coming due and almost nine of 10 Floridians think the oil company’s fines should go to the states that suffered the greatest harm from the spill. Sen. Bill Nelson thinks that’s just common sense. Sen. Marco Rubio agrees.

But a huge chunk of BP’s penalties are dangerously close to disappearing into the black hole of the federal treasury instead of coming back to Florida.

A Confused Nuclear Cleanup

IITATE, Japan — As 500 workers in hazmat suits and respirator masks fanned out to decontaminate this village 20 miles from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, their confusion was apparent.

“Dig five centimeters or 10 centimeters deep here?” a site supervisor asked his colleagues, pointing to a patch of radioactive topsoil to be removed. He then gestured across the village square toward the community center. “Isn’t that going to be demolished? Shall we decontaminate it or not?”

A day laborer wiping down windows at an abandoned school nearby shrugged at the work crew’s haphazard approach. “We are all amateurs,” he said. “Nobody really knows how to clean up radiation.”

Thousands march against nuclear power in Japan

TOKYO (AP) – Thousands of Japanese people marched against nuclear power Saturday, amid growing worries about the restarting of reactors idled after the March 11 meltdown disaster in northeastern Japan.

Tokyo Electric Asks Lenders for Loans of 1 Trillion Yen, Nikkei Reports

Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Japanese government’s nuclear disaster rescue fund asked lenders for about 1 trillion yen ($12.9 billion) in loans, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

The Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is asking for the loans to be advanced with no collateral or repayment guarantees from the government, the Nikkei said, without providing the source of the information.

Nuclear Power vs. Natural Gas

When critics say nuclear power is risky, they often mean the risk of an accident. But people in the nuclear industry say that the bigger threat is natural gas.

Energy Loan Oversight Is Needed, Audit Finds

WASHINGTON — The Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program for alternative energy projects, which produced the ill-fated loan to the solar panel maker Solyndra, needs more rigorous financial oversight and stricter performance standards for recipients to reduce the chance of future defaults, according to an audit conducted by the White House and released Friday.

Energy Loans a Safer Bet for U.S. Than Congress Anticipated, Review Shows

Potential losses from U.S. energy loan programs are likely to be less than projected by the White House and Congress, according to an independent analysis that Democrats said validated support for clean-energy innovation.

The Military Is Hoping To Save A Bunch Of Money And Lives With This New Hardware

It's estimated that one U.S. Marine is killed for every 50 convoys of gasoline the U.S. brings into a war zone.

Construction permit delay may reverse sale of large solar project to Exelon

NEW YORK — First Solar is warning that a construction delay threatens to undo its sale of a large solar project planned for Los Angeles County to power producer Exelon Corp.

The company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that it has been unable to resolve a construction permit issue. That is blocking the distribution of funds from a federal loan guarantee to help pay for the construction of the project.

Wind Tower Makers in U.S. Hurt by Chinese Imports, Panel Finds

U.S. makers of wind towers such as Broadwind Energy Inc. (BWEN) are being harmed by cheaper imports from China and Vietnam, a trade panel ruled in the first step toward imposing tariffs on the shipments.

A123 Advances on Deal to Supply Battery-Storage Systems in U.K.

A123 Systems Inc., a Waltham, Massachusetts-based maker of batteries for electric cars and utilities, rose after announcing a contract to supply power- storage systems to a U.K. grid operator.

Three Gorges Dam to work at full capacity in May

YICHANG (Xinhua) -- The Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project, will work at full capacity by the end of May, when the last two power units will become operational, Chen Fei, general manager of the China Three Gorges Corporation, said Saturday.

My Decade of Being "Peak Oil Aware"

It's been a long haul since then. I'm no longer married, for instance. Some of what I thought would happen came to pass. Most of it did not... or has not yet anyways. You don't change civilization on a dime, even though that's what I wanted to have happen when I dove into the sustainability movement and became heavily involved with renewable energy, edible landscaping, and all things local. I figured out a while back that the problem isn't peak oil, or global climate disruption, or peak anything else. And it isn't us. Humanity isn't inherently evil.

There are plenty more fish in the sea

These are among 50 stories cited by the Prince of Wales’s latest campaign. Launched almost unnoticed (except by The Daily Telegraph) last week, it aims – like so many before it – to save the world’s rapidly diminishing fisheries. But, unlike others, it focuses on the positive, showing what fishermen are already doing to turn things round, and demonstrating that – in his words – managing fisheries sustainably is “actually more profitable than perennially succumbing to the temptation of maximising short term income”.

E.P.A. Is Sued Over Delays in Soot Standards

Eleven states sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday over its delays in tightening air quality standards involving soot.

The world’s losing its workers. How will we compete?

The world is on the threshold of what might be called “peak people.” The world’s supply of working-age people will soon be shrinking, causing a shift from surplus to scarcity. As with “peak oil” theories – which hold that declining petroleum supplies will trigger global economic instability – the claims of the doomsayers are too hyperbolic and hysterical. These are not existential threats but rather policy challenges. That said, they’re very big policy challenges.

2°C warming goal now ‘optimistic’, say French scientists

PARIS — French scientists unveiling new estimates for global warming said on Thursday the 2°C goal enshrined by the United Nations was “the most optimistic” scenario left for greenhouse-gas emissions.

Dr. Mamdouh Salameh on Al Jazerra TV says all OPEC nations producing at full capacity.

Go here: The Masters Resource Report. Then scroll down to "2012-01-20". Don't click on that link but click on the Al Jazeera video just below. Then about six minutes into the video you will get Dr. Mamdouh Salameh's commentary;

Saudi oil exports are declining fast… There is a very fast growing domestic consumption which means that Saudi oil exports are declining fast. In 2010 Saudi oil exports averaged 5.25 million barrels per day. This year they will be slightly less and the next year will be lesser as well.

A couple of minutes later he is asked about what Saudi is saying about their ability to produce and export more oil.

The global oil market is very tight and OPEC countries cannot increase their production because of lack of capacity. Non-OPEC producers have already been producing at full capacity, Saudi cannot add much oil to the market, consequently it is a lot of talk. Iranian oil exports are very badly needed and the market could not do without them.

And just who is this guy who is saying that all OPEC nations are producing flat out?
Dr. Mamdouh Salameh has considerable experience and expertise spanning 30 years in the oil and chemical industries and has held several senior management posts in the Middle East, Europe, and the UK. Dr. Salameh is currently Director of the Oil Market Consultancy Service, based in the UK, and a consultant for the World Bank.

Also note, the first link on this page "2012-2-10" is a great article on the Bakken, Thunder Horse and several other subjects.

Ron P.

The Middle East is sliding towards war. (Syrian general shot, Dr. Ahmadinejad can't keep his mouth shut.)

Oil exports are at full capacity.



Is that your Thunderhorse data? No one that I know tracks Thunderhorse to the extent you do. If so, congrats! That's a great resource paper that I look forward to reading each week.


Yes that was mine. He gives me credit at the bottom of that page. He has asked for more data on other Gulf deep water projects. There are over 500 GOM deep water Gulf contracts and I can't track all of them. But I do track about two dozen of the most productive.

Of course the BSEE does total all GOM production and I track that also. I am sending him that data next week. He may or may not do a piece on it but I find it interesting.

GOM production is down to abour 1.2 mb/d, about half a million barrels per day below its peak in the fall of 2009.

Ron P.

Why do you distort what he said? He said "Saudi cannot add much oil to the market". Isn't that significant enough? When you turn that into "Dr. Mamdouh Salameh on Al Jazerra TV says all OPEC nations producing at full capacity", I think you are discrediting yourself. Stick to the facts if you want people to take you seriously.

Did you even bother to watch the video? He said, beginning at 6:40 into the video, and I quote:

We know that OPEC members, and other non-OPEC producers are not able to expand production. The OPEC members don't have any spare capacity, they are producing at full capacity.

Then the Al Jazerra reporter interrupted him to tell him that this is not what most people hear, that at least Saudi Arabia is not yet at full capacity, has the chance to export more oil but you are saying "no, that is not the case. He replied:

That is not true Saudi's production peaked in 2005 at 9.6 million barrels (a day) and it has been declining since then. And last year the average Saudi production was 8.2 million barrels and what is more dangerous to Saudi is they can't raise their production and what is more there is a very fast growing domestic consumption which means Saudi exports are declining fast. In 2010 Saudi oil exports averaged 5.25 million barrels per day. This year they will be slightly less and the next year will be lesser as well.

Okay if you had even bothered to watch those few minutes of that video you would have known what I said was exactly correct, it is exactly what he said. The second quote I posted came a minute or so later on the tape.

So to you Mr. Speculawyer I have this to say: I think you are discrediting yourself. Stick to the facts if you want people to take you seriously. And you would have known the facts if you had only bothered to watch about three minutes of that video.

Ron P.

No, I didn't watch. I assumed you would quote what he said that supported your assertion. I'll have to remember that you present confusing arguments instead of supporting them well.

He said everything I said in my first post up top. There is absolutely nothing confusing about it. You just made a serious gaff and now are trying to say it is my fault for presenting confusing arguments. It says something very profound about you when you try to blame your mistakes on others.

Ron P.

Ron and Spec

You sound like Felix and Oscar these days. Both of you write excellent posts and I don't want to start skipping what you write because of these exchanges. This is two days now.

Thanks again for the info, Ron. Your data and analysis are always succinct and very informative.


Please Paulo, I was attacked for not posting the truth.

I posted the truth and proved it.

Then instead of an apology I was told it was my fault for posting a confusing argument.

I posted no argument whatsoever, just a link to a very good video and a brief headline of what it contained.

Then you tell me I am behaving like Felix or Oscar, which one I am not quite sure.

I don't think that charge is fair at all. All I did was defend my credibility.

What everyone is overlooking here is the fact that Al Jazeera TV aired a show stating that all OPEC is producing at full capacity. And it was stated by a Middle East oil expert. I thought everyone would think that very important. Apparently not however.

Ron P.

I - and I would wager many others - agree with you Darwinian.

Al Jazeera TV aired a show stating that all OPEC is producing at full capacity. And it was stated by a Middle East oil expert.

Here is an opinion that matters:

“We can easily get up to 11.4, 11.8 million almost immediately, in a few days,” Dow Jones Newswires quoted Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi as telling CNN in an interview.

Saudi Arabia says it can raise oil production to fill any supply gap


Right, when pigs fly. Actually that is what he said, I seriously doubt that was his opinion. ;-)

Ron P.

I think both comments can be true. The Saudis may have capacity to increase production of sour, heavy oil for which most nations don't have refining capacity. It may be literally true, but practically false. I can sell you a car for which there are no spare parts, what good does it do anyone? There may be an unmet demand for readily refined oil and a very small market for heavy, sour oil. The heavy, sour oil may remain underproduced because there are few nations which can use it. Could this be happening?

Manifa is due to come on line in 2013 and be in full production of 900,000 bp/d by mid 2015. However their old fields are declining at a rate that this production may be able to keep their production flat. The Manifa oil will all be heavy sour and also contaminated with vanadium. Saudi will process most of that in their new refinery however.

Saudi is already producing a lot of heavy sour crude and selling it at a considerable discount to Brent. Sour Price Gap Widens The gap this past summer, as this link states, was about $8.00 a barrel.

So I really think the answer is no, they do not have a lot of heavy sour crude that they could produce but are not producing. They are already producing and selling all the heavy sour stuff they can produce.

Ron P.

The vanadium contamination is a serious problem because there are not many refineries that can handle oil with a high vanadium content (it damages the catalytic cracking units, which use vanadium as a catalyst). That is why the Saudis are building their own refinery to process it, but last time I heard, they were well behind schedule in building it.

I think both comments can be true. The Saudis may have capacity to increase production of sour, heavy oil for which most nations don't have refining capacity.

If most nations don't have refining capacity to handle Saudi Crude, that is on the demand side and reveals nothing about supply.

Where did that notion meme that SA has only capacity for heavy, sour crude come from ? Granted SA's crude is mostly sour, but not heavy or particularly sour by world standards.

SA grades		API	% sulfur
ASL		51.2	.01
AXL		36.6	1.35
AL		34	1.8
AM		31	2
AH		27	1.35
World grades			
Iran		31-34	1.4-1.7
Iraq		34-36	1.9-2.0
Mexaco		22-32.6	1.5-3.3
USA-Mars		31	2
Venezula		24	1.5
Russia- Url		31.2	1.5

Source - Saudi Aramco Website

Salameh makes other false claims:

That is not true Saudi's production peaked in 2005 at 9.6 million barrels (a day) and it has been declining since then. And last year the average Saudi production was 8.2 million barrels...


In 2010 Saudi oil exports averaged 5.25 million barrels per day. This year they will be slightly less and the next year will be lesser as well.

SA's peak 2005 production was 9.5 (not 9.6) million barrels per day. Saudi's 2011 production averaged 9.3 million bpd and produced 9.7 million bpd in December. That 8.2 million bpd isn't correct for 2010 either (7.9 million bpd). SA exported 5.55 million bpd in 2010.

Saudi Aramco production, million bpd		
month	2005	2011
1	9.1	8.6
2	9.2	8.9
3	9.3	8.7
4	9.4	8.8
5	9.5	8.9
6	9.5	9.5
7	9.5	9.6
8	9.5	9.7
9	9.5	9.4
10	9.4	9.6
11	9.5	9.7
12	9.4	9.7

Source - OPEC

The figures quoted in my original post are those of Dr. Mamdouh Salameh, not mine. I was just quoting him and it would have been disingenuous if I had quoted my figures and said they were his. I track Saudi production very closely and know exactly what they are doing.

In 2009 Khurais came on line with, they said, a production capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day. I don't know if Khurais can, or ever will produce that much oil per day. But it did make up for the declines they had in the last two or three years plus add some production capacity above what they could produce in 2005 and 2008.

Saudi crude only production according to OPEC's "secondary sources" in thousands of barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia

The last of Saudi's giant fields, Manifa, will come on line next year and be in full production by mid 2015. They say it will produce 900,000 barrels per day. That should make up for the decline since Khurais came on line, or close to it anyway. However...

Country Analysis Briefs: Saudi Arabia

One challenge the Saudis face in achieving their strategic vision to add production capacity is that their existing fields experience 6 to 8 percent annual "decline rates on average (as reported by PlattsOilgram in 2006) in existing fields, meaning that the country needs around 700,000 bbl/d in additional capacity each year just to compensate for natural decline.

Saudi Arabia has claimed that, with massive infield drilling, they have gotten these decline rates down to almost 2 percent per year. However just sucking the oil out faster may decrease the annual decline rate for awhile but it will increase the depletion rate. So sooner or later this will cause the decline rate to dramatically increase.

Ron P.

Saudi Arabia has claimed that, with massive infield drilling, they have gotten these decline rates down to almost 2 percent per year. However just sucking the oil out faster may decrease the annual decline rate for awhile but it will increase the depletion rate.

That statement would be true if SA were drilling perfectly homogeneous reservoirs from 40 acre spacing down to 20 acre spacing - but they are not.

In my opinion, it would be impossible to drill a well in about any of SA's reservoirs without increasing recoverable oil.

Following is a graph showing Saudi net oil exports from 2002 to 2011* (BP, total petroleum liquids) in dark blue versus Brent annual crude oil prices, in light blue. Note that they tracked each other from 2002 to 2005, and then diverged after 2005:

*I estimate that 2011 Saudi net oil exports will be between 7.5 and 8.1 mbpd, versus 9.1 mbpd in 2005. The chart shows a midpoint estimate of 7.8 mbpd.

On a recent conference call, I was asked to what extent the post-2005 decline in Saudi net oil exports was voluntary. I replied that in my opinion it was mostly involuntary, but that it was somewhat analogous to asking, after witnessing an 18 wheeler run over a pedestrian, whether or not the driver aimed for the pedestrian, or was it an accident? From the point of view of the pedestrian, it really didn't matter whether or not the driver aimed for them.

From the point of view of an oil importing consumer, what matters is a doubling in global crude oil prices in six years, as we have seen a multibillion barrel cumulative shortfall (about 2.5 GB) between what Sauidi Arabia would have (net) exported at their 2005 rate, versus what they actually (net) exported. If Saudi Arabia had simply maintained their 2005 net export rate, there would have been another 1.1 mbpd of total petroleum liquids in global export markets over the past six years, which is roughly equivalent to Canada's 2010 net oil exports (BP).

Incidentally, from 2005 to 2010, there was almost no change in the Top 33 net exporters' production (down by 0.5%, annual decline rate of 0.1%/year), similar to what global total petroleum liquids data showed. However, from 2005 to 2010 GNE dropped by 6.4% (annual decline rate of 1.3%/year), and ANE dropped by 13% (annual decline rate of 2.8%/year).

If we look at the ratios of the GNE and ANE decline rates to the underlyling top 33 production decline rate, they are as follows (2005 to 2010 data):

GNE/Top 33 = 1.3/0.1 = 13 to one, i.e., GNE fell 13 times as fast as the top 33 production decline rate

ANE/Top 33 = 2.8/0.1 = 28 to one, i.e., ANE fell 28 times as fast as the top 33 production decline rate

Jeff, perhaps you should explain that ANE is "available net exports" or global net exports available to importers other than India and China. A decline rate of 1.3 percent per year is indeed dramatic. This cannot continue for very long until it begins to bite. And, I am afraid, it will get much worse in the future.

I just calculated, using the EIA data, that net oil imports to OECD importing nations, fell from an average of over 33 mb/d in 2008 to 28 mb/d in 2011. That is a 15 percent drop or a drop of 5 percent per year. That data excludes OECD exporting nations.

Net OECD imports to importing nations in KB/D. Data excludes Norway, Denmark, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom who was a net importer thru 2005. Includes all 25 other OECD nations. The data is from Total Net imports with exporting nations subtracted.

Net OECD Imports

Ron P.

Note that the 2005 to 2010 ANE decline rate was 2.8%/year, or a simple percentage decline of 13% in five years.

We have here a situation with a career-long professional employee of Saudi Aramco saying one thing and a Middle East oil expert saying another.

Who do you believe ? The one who agrees with your pre-concieved opinion, of course.

You seem to be asserting a Peak Oil Illuminati.

Refresh my memory, what is SA's motive to lie about their capacity ?

Read this and then consider your memory refreshed. Why does OPEC lie about its oil reserves?

Ron P.

The author claims OPEC reserves are based on reserves. That policy, if it ever was an actual policy, never found its way into the quotas.

Saudi's reserves aren't mentioned, except as included in 'Mid East' reserves. That subject has been hashed and rehashed.

My question related to SA's productive capacity.

Saudi Arabia Lies About Oil Reserves
Saudi Arabia Has Been Lying About Oil Reserves - Can't Raise Output
How much oil does Saudi Arabia actually have?
Jim Rogers: "Saudi Arabia Is Lying About Being Able To Increase Its Oil Production"

Jim Rogers to Saudi Arabia. "Liar liar, pants on fire."

Good video on that last one. Really I could post about a hundred such links. As I said there have been several special threads on OPEC reserves being overstated on TOD. You simply came to this debate very late. Google it and read about a few dozen of the articles that have been posted on the net in the last ten years.

Ron P.

The one link relating to capacity you listed has it completely wrong.

Jim Rogers joins Zero Hedge in being highly skeptical about just how credible Saudi's call for a 1MM + boost in its oil supply.


Saudi Arabia the last two times said they are going to increase production and they couldn't increase production.

Rogers claims that SA couldn't raise production during the Libya crisis. According to OPEC, SA increased production by 1 million bpd between January and July, 2011. OPEC made up an additional 0.6 million bpd.

Year-mo		Libya		SA		OPEC
2011-01		1.6		8.6		29.9
2011-02		1.3		8.9		30.0
2011-03		0.4		8.7		28.8
2011-04		0.2		8.8		28.8
2011-05		0.2		8.9		29.0
2011-06		0.1		9.5		29.6
2011-07		0.05		9.6		29.8
2011-08		0.003		9.7		29.9
2011-09		0.09		9.4		30.8
2011-10		0.3		9.6		29.8
2011-11		0.6		9.7		30.8
2011-12		0.8		9.8		30.8

SA alledgedly told George Bush they couldn't increase production in March, 2003, that isn't 'could raise production'. SA has increased capacity by 3.34 million bpd since March 2003.

Saudi Arabia said they increased production but they didn't increase exports as tracked by Oil Movements.

Conspiracy ?

Non-public corps "spinning the truth" in a manner that suits their interests?


Todsters 'spinning the truth' in a manner that suits their interests ?

Conceivable ! e.g. Megaprojects.

If Oil Movements is claiming to be a more accurate measurement of production, Oil Movements needs to demonstrate such.

Familiar with the term (female) measurement dysmorphia ?

Again, what motive does SA have to lie about their capacity ?

Motive: OPEC set allowed production limits for their members based on their members reserve capacity.
Opportunity: National oil companies reserve reports are not subject to external review.
Evidence: Real-world discovery profiles don't map to within 10% of production for decades at a time unless somebody is cooking the books.

What motive do they have to tell the world the truth?

Again, you are talking about reserves, I asked about capacity.

The meme that OPEC quotas are determined by reserves has never been established. Look at quotas before and after these reserve restatements. That comparison has been posted here on TOD previously.

OPEC reserve reports are not subject to external review, that seems to allow doomucopians to make up their own. Saudi Aramco has published more information on their reserves and capacity than about anyone.

You will have to define real-world discovery profiles for me. SA announces discoveries, extentions, deliniations and reclassifications nearly every year and has for at least 10 years. Look at Saudi Aramco's Annual Reviews 2001-2010, on their website. This from the 2000 (published 2001) Annual Review:

The company has discovered, and is responsible for, about one-quarter of the world's proven conventional oil reserves. Since it first found crude oil in commercial quantities in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province in 1938, the company has discovered about 90 oil and gas fields throughout the Kingdom and in its offshore waters. More than one-fourth of the discoveries have been made since 1989.

And incidentally, the IEA claims Al-Naimi is understating capacity(don't be fooled by the headline).

IEA downgrades Saudi’s output capacity

In its February report released last week, the Paris-based watchdog reduced its estimate of the kingdom’s maximum output to 11.88m barrels a day,.....

.... Mr Naimi told CNN in an interview that Saudi Arabia could “easily get up to 11.4m, 11.8m b/d almost immediately, in a few days ... all we need is to turn valves.”

Mr Naimi added that Riyadh could pump another 700,000 b/d to reach 12.5m b/d, but it would need 90 days to achieve the target. Because the IEA bases its estimates on maximum output on a narrow definition of “capacity levels [that] can be reached within 30 days and sustained for 90 days” it does not count those 700,000 b/d.


I assume Al-Naimi and IEA are both talking about crude + condensate.

Well, their capacity maps 1:1 to their production, less any they deliberately withhold.

Of course, they have no more incentive to tell us the truth about how much (if any) they are deliberately keeping aside than they do to tell us the actual size of their reserves.

All we can know is that their production capacity is greater than or equal to their actual production.

Since they are non-auditable we can't even be certain what their actual production is. They could pull from above ground storage to boost their apparent production for quite a while if they saw an advantage in doing so.

An excerpt from my "Iron Triangle" essay from five years ago:


If one resides in the oil industry leg of the Iron Triangle, and if one has concluded that Peak Oil is upon us, or extremely close, does one say, "We cannot increase our production," and thereby encourage massive conservation and alternative energy efforts, or does one say "We choose not to increase production and/or we are temporarily unable to increase production for the following reasons (fill in the blank)?"

The latter course of action would tend to discourage emergency conservation efforts and alternative energy efforts, and it would encourage energy consumers to maintain their current lifestyles, perhaps by going further into debt to pay their energy bills, and it would in general have the net effect of maximizing the value of remaining reserves.

In any case, as noted up the thread, the average difference between what the Saudis would have net exported at their 2005 rate of 9.1 mbpd (total petroleum liquids) and what they actually net exported was about 1.1 mbpd for the past six years, as global oil prices doubled. There have certainly been examples of the Saudis restricting their exports in response to declining oil prices, but I'm not aware of any similar multiyear net export declines in response to generally rising oil prices.

If we extrapolate the Saudi's 2005 to (estimated) 2011 rate of increase in their consumption to production ratio of total petroleum liquids, (18% in 2005 to an estimated 28% in 2011), the Saudis would approach the 100% mark, and thus zero net oil exports around 2028. This estimate would imply post-2005 Saudi Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) of about 38 Gb. They have already shipped about 18 Gb, leaving remaining post-2005 CNE of about 20 Gb.

Saudi domestic consumption seems to be increasing rapidly. You are making me wonder if that is being overstated to cover a fall in production.


How about a simpler explaination, one that doesn't involve conspiracy - i.e. increased production ?

Saudi Arabia’s November Oil Output, Exports Rise to 30-Year High

The country pumped 10.047 million barrels a day of crude, up from 9.36 million in October, statistics posted today on JODI’s website show. The kingdom’s exports increased by 721,000 barrels a day, more than 10 percent, to 7.8 million barrels a day, according to the figures, which include condensates and exclude natural-gas liquids.


Sorry Ron...My apologies...and thanks again

No problem Paulo, I know you were just trying to settle things. Thanks,

Ron P.

I watched the video carefully.
Your summary was both accurate and clear.

What Salameh says is consistent with concerns expressed in Chatham House's report last month and with Jadwa Investments' report last year.

Thank you for posting it... I was not aware.

Thanks Rick. Sooner or later the world will realize that when they make a "call on OPEC" no one is going to pick up the phone.

Ron P.

These two statements in the original post directly contradict each other:

Dr. Mamdouh Salameh on Al Jazerra TV says all OPEC nations producing at full capacity.

(They cannot add oil.)

Saudi cannot add much oil to the market

(Which implies they can add oil)

The two assertions cannot both be true since they contradict each other. Hence it is confusing. Perhaps he said one thing and then walked it back a bit? (That's what it seems like to me.)

Relax dude. They are at or near capacity. What's the difference? It's just a matter of time anyway.

And here is an example why those students who went to Law School and those who went to Engineering School (back in the day when I was a student in Electrical Engineering) tended to mix about as well as oil and water.

Lawyers take a document and parse it word for word with the intent towards finding an advantage or wedge to exploit. Even the best crafted legal documents contain opportunities for evading the 'intent' of the original author(s) of the document because language is imprecise and authors tend to assume that the reader understands the intent even while still striving to avoid ambiguity.

However, verbal conversations, interviews, or casual written dialogs are not 'crafted' in advance with such careful precision and a 'looser' (more Gestalt-like) approach to reading comprehension of the message is called for.

As an Engineer I think Ron's original article was sufficiently clear. Mandating a more legalistic approach towards any and all submittals to this forum is unlikely to prove productive.

Ironically, I have both an EE and law degree. But I think it is more the engineer in me that dislikes contradiction.

I didn't mean to create a kerfuffle . . . I was just honestly confused by the contradiction.

"..Ironically, I have both an EE and law degree.."

One of those eh? You traitor you! LOL

No worries - I suspect I read more 'heat' in the dialog than was likely intended.

What is not said is implied. They have very limited range to increase production but not much. For this audience we get it.

There is no need for confusion. What it means is that if at all Saudi Arabia can increase production, it will be small and therefore of no practical consequence.

Drumbeat January 20, 2012:

Pollux, I completely missed that one. There should have been more discussion on what was said. Two comments, one by WT and one by Robert Marston then the conversation drifts off onto subjects totally unrelated. Had I saw it then I would have commented loudly. ;-)

I wish I had caught your post and apologize for missing it. But sometimes when hundreds of posts are posted, one cannot possibly catch them all.

At any rate we have it now. Thanks,

Ron P.

Re: Rebound in US Crude Oil Production

The oil industry wants to consumers to look at slowly increasing US crude oil production, as a sign that we don't have any oil supply problems, and they don't want consumers to focus on the fact that global crude oil prices doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011.

From the point of view of consumers, what is the more important metric, an increase in US crude oil production in 2011, or the annual Brent crude oil price of $111 that we saw in 2011?

If we look at the BP data base (total petroleum liquids), US production rose by 0.3 mbpd from 2004 to 2010, but consumption fell by 1.6 mbpd. My point is that the dominant trend we are seeing is that the US, and many other developed oil importing countries, are gradually being shut out of the global market for exported oil, as annual Brent crude oil prices doubled from 2005 to 2011.

The combined net export output of the major net oil exporters* in the Americas and the Caribbean fell from 6.0 mbpd in 2005 to 4.8 mbpd in 2010, as the global supply of (net) exported oil available to importers other than China & India fell from 40 mbpd in 2005 to 35 mbpd in 2010. To quote John Hofmeister, on CNBC yesterday**, "Developing countries, especially China and India, have this insatiable need for more oil, and that has not been taken into account as we've thought about public policy in this country. So while we may be producing a bit more oil in this country, and while demand is down a bit, on a global basis I'm afraid we face a continuing onslaught of prices creeping ever higher."

*Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago (BP)

** http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8930#comment-871802

""Developing countries, especially China and India, have this insatiable need for more oil, and that has not been taken into account as we've thought about public policy in this country..."

I'm sure we (they, them) have thought about it, may even be aware of the ramifications. We just don't have any sellable solutions... as with so many things. Best to spin it as "an opportunity for America to show her greatness": energy independence.

To quote Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

It's really the best of times for US oil producers--flat global crude oil production, declining Global Net Exports (GNE), with Chindia consuming an increasing share of a declining volume of GNE, all leading to high global crude oil prices--while US producers are able to show increasing crude oil production. But it was the worst of times for US consumers, as global crude oil prices doubled in six years.

I have periodically posted a link to what is, IMO, a brilliant essay by Kurt Cobb that shows the entire economy being supported by the food & energy producers:

Upside Down Economics

The problem I foresee is that if food & energy (especially oil) producers are the only healthy portions of the US economy, what happens as consumers become increasingly angry at rising food & energy prices, especially oil prices, as they compare rising gasoline prices to the promises from the oil industry* that we don't have to worry about supply problems for decades to come?

Having said that, you may recall my "ELP" advice from five years ago, "Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy," but I wonder if the "Haves" are increasing defined as the net food & energy producers and the "Have-nots" are increasingly defined as the net food & energy consumers, what happens to society in future years?

The alleged comment by Marie Antoinette to "Let them (hungry French people) eat cake," didn't end so well for her.

*ExxonMobil Advertisement in New York Times, June 2, 2006

"Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no signs of a peak . . . Oil is a finite resource, but because it is so incredibly large, a peak will not occur this year, next year, or for decades to come"

Nothing good will happen until people accept the end of economic growth. What will it take for people to accept that? Quite a bit, in my opinion. Probably a catastrophe on the scale of World War 2.

On the bright side I believe that if Obama is re-elected he will be able to claim in four years that he has further reduced America's dependence on foreign oil by pointing out our reduced import numbers. However, I also believe that if a Republican gets elected he will be able to do the same thing. The "best of times" indeed.

...what happens as consumers become increasingly angry at rising food & energy prices...

This is what I see as the leading edge of what will at some point cause the end of the oil age. At a certain threshold of disenfranchised people without enough food, people will bull rush grocery stores en masse. As stores are pillaged, the number of stores open will dwindle until it is game over. Everyone then scrambles to survive until the food grown locally equals the mouths left to feed. The Post peak oil age then begins.

Yes this is an important point. Deluded liberals have long made the argument that people in certain neighborhoods and communities live in "food deserts."

What they have never bothered to think about is that hard working small business people have alot of difficulty running an honest grocery business in areas where there is high theft, crime, etc.

So yes, as times get bad, groceries, farmer markets, etc. will get hit hard by roving gangs of desperate people who have nothing to lose. This will put a quick end to the idea that all we need is local organic food and then we'll have utopia.

Deluded liberals have long made the argument that people in certain neighborhoods and communities live in "food deserts."

Well obviously if they are liberals then they must be deluded. :-(

What they have never bothered to think about is that hard working small business people have alot of difficulty running an honest grocery business in areas where there is high theft, crime, etc.

Wow, we liberals must be very stupid not to realize such a simple thing. High crime areas have a lot of crime and therefore businesses in high crime areas often get robbed or at least suffer from a lot of shoplifters. Thanks Oilman, I learn something new every day. But tomorrow I will probably forget it. It is just damn hard to educate a liberal, deluded as we are.

Ron P.

oilman,crime most times presents it'self by a window of opportunity and it also follows money so don't delude yourself that living in an upscale area will be safe if following your scenario.

What a cast of characters.. 'deluded liberals' and 'hard-working small business owners' .. makes me wonder where to put those 'intrepid job creators' who helped install the policies that guaranteed that those desperate food deserts would develop in the first place?

Your boldface archetypes deserve a good Hammond Organ to provide the background music.. and we'll be right back, as the World Turns!

I thought it was more "As the Stomach turns".

Humans are pattern matching machines. And we do like a label as the label allows sorting into a category. Once in a category a default action can then be taken.

'deluded liberals' and 'hard-working small business owners' - fine categories. And each word in the label as its own meaning and emotional weight. Deluded - bad. Hard-working - good.

Even "food desert" - ever been in a 'poor' area? Notice the small, local store in what used to be a house? Ever go in? The Little Debbie snack cakes with the pre-priced wrapper is the same price as at the big grocery store. But ACTUAL food? Raw ingredients are almost impossible to come by. And when one finds them - 20%+ over the grocery store IN ADDITION to being one 1 or 2 in quantity AND close to or passing the expire date.

The lack of reasonably priced, quality raw ingredients is an issue, Placing a label on such as "food desert" is an attempt to use the human sort-into-categories "feature" by using an emotion-bound word like "desert". Because a desert is "Bad". Even if the first part of your journey in a desert should have one looking at all the life, plants and birds and rocks and things - the sand and hills and rings while noting the air is full of sound.

Humans are pattern matching machines.


--Just recently saw a TED-like video about how babies learn their first language.
It turns out our brains are wired for spotting repeated auditory patterns.

edit: the lecture was inside here

Some fairly poor neighborhoods in Hollywood, California that I lived near living in Koreatown: The stores were fine... They had security by day and very high fences and razor-wire by night.

Most interesting were the traveling markets in trucks or big vans. They made regular rounds through the neighborhoods supplying the home kitchens with the makings of good meals. These same neighborhoods smelled pretty good around dinner time.

I remember the Helms Bakery truck and milk delivery trucks, long ago... but not whole market trucks. As the cost of keeping the car filled with gas goes up, businesses like these may do well.


I guess these are part of the underground economy: I can't find one picture to show you. I'm probably not using the right words.

Yes this is an important point. Deluded liberals have long made the argument that people in certain neighborhoods and communities live in "food deserts."

Oilman, been trying to finish up two big projects and just got back to this board. I was not suggesting anything about food deserts or the idea that pillaging of grocery stores may just happen at some threshold of the disenfranchised in low income communities. Rather I was stating it will happen in all socio-economic communities.

People have to realise on an economic descent towards collapse, there are no rules. People aren't going to say to themselves, "Oh, the top 1/10th of 1% are still doing good and that's all that really matters." As we have seen with the Arab Spring movment to oust despot leaders, the disenfranchised will combine forces to achieve political upheavel. At some point, some threshold, there are no rules.

There will be no liberal or conservative either. Just people banding together in a last ditch, desperate effort to stave off hunger. That in my opinion will end the oil age.

Then people live off whatever grows locally. The problem with that is its still in its infancy. There's not anywhere near enough for most people. We can only hope for the time and effort required to up those yields so the transition isn't completely horrific.

We have 9% unemployment, increasing food prices, heavy debt, and yet this is indeed the good times. We have cheap NG, cheap Canadian and Bakken oil for midwest refiners, and neither demand from China or cutbacks from the ME really hit.

How can prices go down from here, other than occasional dips? Worldwide crash would be the only obvious scenario.

"...this is indeed the good times."

Indeed. Go tell these folks:

Homeless camps reappear in Downtown Fresno

"It's always tough," said Greg Barfield. "It doesn't feel like we're making progress, but we are."

Barfield, the man in charge of Fresno's homeless program says the cleanup got rid of the worst encampments, but said things slipped over the holidays, when city staff members were furloughed because of budget cuts. He says trying to keep people from living like this is frustrating. He said, "It is very complicated, you're dealing with human beings and we are very complicated individuals."

Even the folks "taking care" of the homeless and unemployed are now unemployed.

Indeed, "the good times" :-0

I think its gonna get worse. Fresno is primarily an agricultural economy. It depends strongly on San Jaochim(spelling?) valley water, and we are having a very dry winter.

This saddens me not quiet Hooverville but getting there.

The usual drive is to get the living with no where to live out of sight and out from underfoot. The usual move is to throw all their stuff into dumpsters and arrest anyone who complains. This promise prompts the displaced to move on. One place to go is the riverbed. There were 300 people living in the riverbed in a central California town. That, too, grew to be too visible. They were herded up river with the usual promise of confiscation and arrest.

The shelters are no place to be. Also, for safety reasons, they divide family members, by gender, into separate facilities. People don't want to be in them.

There are working people and families mixing in with crazies, drunks, and felons. This makes any effort towards them difficult. Zoning prohibits simple solutions like formal campgrounds or car-camping parks. The destructive ones make this hard, too.

In a kingdom, the king has the power of death: "You die". In our arrangement, the power is one of life: "You may continue to live". The penalty for not producing is being allowed to die. So, those who fall off the edges... are to die... and to aid them is against the way.

increasing food prices

My wife is starting to point out to me, with distressing regularity, how she only went to the market to get X staples, and the bill was over US$100. I looked at the grocery receipt, see no costly treats, and have to agree.

I looked at the grocery receipt, see no costly treats, and have to agree.

For many people, even the most basic of staples, are rapidly becoming a costly treat... and that's in the wealthy countries!

I think - for the wealthy countries anyway - that there is going to have to be some re-evaluation as to what is a staple and what is a treat.

Is bread a staple or a treat? When it costs $3 for a loaf, but you could make it yourself with 30c worth of flour, then I'd say it is in the "treat" category
Same for breakfast cereal (for those that still eat it) - compare the cost/lb of any cereal to a large bag (5lb+) of oatmeal, and then decide if the cornflakes are a staple or a treat.
The $3tub of yogurt that can be made using 50c of milk...
Are "fresh" tomatoes, when completely out of season, a staple or a treat?
The prepared dessert, of any type(including ice cream) instead of custard powder or a pack of Jello...

And on it goes - many of what we consider "staples" today were treats (or unknown) in our grandparents days, and we may yet return to their standards.

If you bought something that you could have made yourself from ingredients for 1/2 the price (and often much less), then it's a treat...

Given 7 kids and virtually zero dine-out events (a couple times per year) I figure my Mom saved thousands per year back when food was cheaper than now (as well as working 20 hrs week as a bookkeeper). She must have hundreds of detailed entree recipes in her head. Her homemade whole wheat bread is still the best I've ever had anywhere.

Dry pinto beans can be found bulk for <$1/lb (12 servings). I remember buying 100lb sacks for $20 in the 90's (store in clean trash barrel with lid in cool, dry dark closet or shed) but not lately. Salt + water + crockpot + TIME. Delicious. Add corn tortillas or cornbread or johnny cake or hush puppies for a complete protein. Lots of elaboration on a simple theme possible with condiments (fresh salsa from scratch, etc) and onions, garlic, and spices and (a little) cheese. Add a leftover hambone for special occasions.

In the same category (cheap, easy, vegetable protein):
Black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, split peas, lentils, etc. I was raised on pintos for dinner twice a week (one of the other choices once a week) and lunch until the leftovers are gone. Replace pintos with potato soup once every other week or so, add clams or bacon for special occasions. Replace pintos with beef stew, heavy on carrots, onions and potatoes, with a little tough stew meat cooked down to disintegration, once every month or so.

Boiled or roast whole chicken once or twice a week. When serving meat protein also serve with salad/slaw, starch (mashed or baked or boiled potato or corn or rice), and greens/veggies. Chicken sandwiches or chicken salad for lunch. No processed foods. Buy turkeys at Thanksgiving loss leader prices, place in outside freezer, cook for special occasions 3-4 times thru year, turkey sandwiches for lunch. When leftovers were thin, and we were going to school or work, peanut butter or tuna sandwiches for lunch, with a piece of fruit (cheap Mac's usually, which my mother considered a trash apple). Peanut butter might be supplemented by local honey, or homemade strawberry freezer jam put up when strawberries were cheap.

We'd get a little free beef for the freezer now and then when a friend's dairy cow was injured and had to be put down immediately rather than sold as a cull. We'd get free venison or elk when a hunting friend or relative had more than they could keep in the freezer. We'd get 5-30 lbs of free beef liver when the high school FFA class slaughtered a steer once a year (if one of us was in the class and spoke up and depending who else wanted some). On the flip side, Mom provided home cooked meals delivered (by us kids) to the neighborhood elderly or sick for years at a time, and we often had company for dinner, too (we always hoped for company because it usually meant higher-grade meals, although we were less likely to get seconds).

Fish when on sale (grew up in AZ, so not a lot of fish we caught except for one year up in the sticks). Meatloaf (heavy on the oatmeal, stretch the ground beef). Beef liver and onions. Other organ meats when on sale. Beef Steak/Roast/Pork Chops/Ham, etc. up to once per week total.

Beef liver and eggs are cheap animal protein. Two over-easy eggs, a slice of rare beef liver not cooked with the liver used for dinner a day or two before, and leftover baked potatoes, sliced and fried in the same skillet is now my favorite breakfast (once every couple weeks) although I didn't like liver until I was 8 or so. Eggs and toast a couple times a week (add potato, pancakes, or johnny cakes now and then, meat on special occasions), oatmeal or hot cornmeal mush or cream of wheat a couple times a week for breakfast. Fresh fruit and a glass of milk a couple times a week for breakfast. Scrambled eggs and bran muffins on Sat or Sun morning once a week.

At one point in the mid-late 80's my folks had serious difficulties with the tax man (they lost their credit lines and had the interest rates jacked up due to business reversals and it was cheaper to pay interest and penalties on their quarterlies than they were paying commercially). The government allowed us a living allowance before taking money out of our accounts for back taxes. I remember my Mom being shocked at how high the food allowance was. She spent less in a month than they allowed in a week on what was supposed to be a fairly minimal allowance.

Well, that's a bit tougher than I had it growing up on the farm, but the same general approach - buy bulk ingredients and make (or grow) most of it yourself - applied.

When it comes to beans - soak and then discard the liquid, and do the same again after cooking them (pressure cooking is a fast alternative to the crockpot) as this will get rid of the indigestible oligosaccharide sugars that cause gas, and also degrades the phytic acid that will prevent nutrient absorption. (same applies to whole grains and whole flour too)

More here;

Soaking Beans: How Hot? How Long? The Food Science Behind It

and here;
living with phytic acid

If you buy your lunch each day you spend more than you would (or should) on buying your entire weeks food, including stuff to make your own lunch.

Plus, when you make stuff yourself, you are likely eating much healthier.

I will say again about buying stuff when in season - it is fresher, better and cheaper - and more likely to be local

Any chance of sharing your Mom's secret bread recipe?

We always said Mom could scratch a living on a dry rock and only knew how to cook for an army. She raised us to love food, and never waste a bite or a nickel. There was more variety than I said (I alluded to the several hundred entrees), although we really did eat pinto beans about twice a week, it's the old standbys that stick out in memory, but we ate whatever was cheap and wholesome, with lots of preparation variation. We had citrus in the backyard (navel oranges for eating, AZ seedless oranges for juice, and red grapefruit for both), did a little vegetable gardening (only really enough to teach the kids something as neither of my folks did it for joy), and did canning (as a social event) using surplus produce from other folks gardens and from U-pick (we did enough tomatoes every year to keep us in salsa when fresh tomatoes were too expensive to make salsa). I used to scavenge fresh fruit and vegetables off of the feed slab (and get free raw milk) at the dairy when we happened to be working or visiting out there (a lot of the best of certain commercial fruit and vegetables ends up going to feed cows because it's picked ripe (too late), and will spoil before it gets to the store and sold).

Chicken soup with onions and carrots and celery with and without noodles, chicken and rice, chicken and dumplings, a lovely creamy tomato soup, enchiladas (sour cream and chicken were best), tacos and burritos of various varieties to use up leftovers, tacos with potato mixed with the spiced ground beef and onions, several different versions of lasagna, pork chops in cream of mushroom, okra fried in cornmeal, every different kind of summer/winter squash 30-11 different ways (zucchini with onions and tomatoes, mmm), chinese chicken salad, peas and rice fried with a little bit of egg, chicken chili verde with black beans, noodles in cream sauce with chicken gizzards and hearts and livers, eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, pasta (with meatballs on special occasions) (terrific red and white pasta sauces from scratch).

I think she got the whole wheat bread recipe I like so much out of Adele Davis and tweaked it over time. It's a pretty simple recipe (although it's been so long I don't remember it well). All of us learned it growing up, the execution seems to be the trick (none of us could ever duplicate it precisely). I haven't baked my own in years, most of my siblings use machines. She makes several different kinds but that one is PERFECT.

All of my siblings cook for fun, and share recipes (I just eat). One brother had a restaurant for some years (he lost it due to peculation by his accountant/partner). They read recipes for fun. We've done the food ourselves for a few hundred for 4 out of 5 of my nieces' and younger sisters' recent (last 3 years) weddings (they all got married on a shoestring, saved the money for a start). We used the same china and tableware, bought it on ebay and sold it on when we were done. We're 'frugal' as my departed grandmother would say. Thugh I'm a lot less tight with a buck than I used to be, any significant purchase is an exercise in optimization.

Thanks for that about the beans. I've been soaking them in the fridge, next time I'll try room temperature. Quick note for anyone trying them, ALWAYS check through the beans for small stones first or they will be way too crunchy. I've read that the combination of beans/corn/rice helps with getting nutrients out. Also tortillas are better than corn as the corn has been treated with lime (builder's not fruit) to release more nutrients. A taco with lots of rice and beans makes for a good meal, just add lots of veg.


PS For bread see below.

I was given a bread making unit, but the yeast didn't die and I got sick. So much for saving money and having better tasting bread.

My solar cookers only get up to 110-120C but I found I could get some really tasty bread in about 3hrs cooking. Trouble lately has been unusually intermittent sun spoiling long cooking times. 2" of unexpected rain means I am now seriously considering buying a glass cutter and paying a visit to the bazaar to get some glass mirror to replace the soggy cardboard :(


yes, you need high heat for bread, but most bread machines should achieve this.

As for saving money and better tasting bread, try making your own sourdough bread - you will not get better than that!

Also, if you want a really easy way to make great bread without kneading or the bread machine, try this way;

The secret to great bread - let time do the work

I have had great success with this, and this recipe - in the cast iron pot - would be *perfect* for NAOM's solar oven.

For anything else, always let the flour soak (at room temperature) at least overnight, preferably with some buttermilk, yogurt or lemon juice. This neutralizes the phytic acid and prevents the "bloated stomach" feeling that some people get after eating grain/flour foods.
For the best pancakes, mix the flour and buttermilk and leave out over night, then add in eggs and some oil before cooking - amazing difference.

Thanks for the tips! I live in my car, but some months I park where I can have a flame. I'll give them a try!

"The greatest thing since sliced bread."
"Bread and circuses"
... the Egyptian unrest over the price of bread.
Community clay bread ovens

Bread is different. Making good bread is an art, a skill, and a discipline. I had a book on troubleshooting bakeries. I gave it away to a baker. It was quite revealing. A lot of effort goes into the qualities of the flour and the keeping of the flour. So many problems came back to that.

Here's one:
Bakery Technology and Engineering

...Starts right off with flour.

There are work-arounds. Total self-sufficiency is the best... healthy and fun, too! For those without land or property, pantry or technique, when the price of foods and fuel go up, lifestyle declines.

I've been doing very similar with my bread. For solar cooking I have a couple of small aluminium pots with lids that I have sprayed black. For bread I rise the dough in a small tin inside one of the pots. I put a small piece of wet paper towel in the pot to keep the atmosphere moist. When the bread bakes this helps the moisture and helps with burst. I try and keep the tracking on to get the best temperature. The time seems to be about 3 hrs but I've not had steady sun to play much. I haven't tried it with my sun bread yet but I sometimes use less yeast and let the dough prove overnight in the refrigerator. What I want to be doing is prepare the dough in the evening, fridge overnight, shape in the morning, leave to rise then into the sun cooker. Each step only being a few minutes or less. I do like to kneed the bread until it starts to fight back, bakers window on white but that is harder on brown.

Bakers percents (%of flour weight)
Flour all strong (high protein 11%+) : white or 1/2 white 1/2 integral
water or 1/2 water 1/2 milk (softer bread) :61-65% depends on flour, bit less for white
salt : 2%
sugar or honey : 2%
yeast : 2% less if proving overnight in fridge 1/2-1%

Liquid should be baby bottle warm <40C (not if proving overnight in fridge). Liquid, sugar, yeast mixed first and left in a warm place (room temp for fridge bread). Rest of solids blended in a bowl. When yeast starts fizzing add it to the solids and mix well. When kneeding you aim to stretch not beat. Leave covered and warm to rise about 50% NOT 2x. Gently fold a few times and shape NOT beat all the air out. Cover but not touching with cling film and leave to double in size in a warm place, I warm some water and put it and the dough in the microwave or slide a tray of rolls into a large plastic bag. Don't let any plastic touch the bread, the bread will sink as you pull the plastic off:( Bake in oven at 350-400F for 20-40 mins depending on size of loaf. Tip out and cool on rack . Resist hard the temptation to eat BTW keep all stages out of reach of fur heads especially when baked. If cooking in the solar cooker modify process as per first para..


I was given a bread making unit,

A machine that is to mix dry+wet stuff and heat it after the mixing to create bread. Ok.

but the yeast didn't die

So you plugged it in, inserted dry stuff + wet stuff to make bread. Ok.

To say "the yeast didn't die" - if the flour + water + yeast mixture was cooked - the yeast should have died. Yeast doesn't so well beyond 95 degrees F. To get the bread 'cooked' well exceeds the 'I am alive' threshold of yeast.

and I got sick.

Your intestinal track is already filled with yeasts. Adding more won't change much. ( http://www.google.com/search?q=candida+intestinal for all your "don't add sugar it only aids things you don't want link needs)

But I do want to understand your claim.

You are claiming that yeast, added to a water+flower mix, which underwent temperatures over 150 degrees F and then being passed through the acid environment of the stomach, somehow made you sick?

I would question the "yeast didn't die" theory, too. Your intestines are full of yeast and bacteria, and your bowel bacteria/yeast should have won any reasonably fair competition with the bakers yeast in the bread.

That's why, if you kill off your bowel bacteria by using antibiotics, e.g. to knock down Montezuma's Revenge travelling in third world countries, you should restock ASAP with replacements. Some people recommend drinking the local beer to give you a new stock of intestinal yeast, although I'm not sure how mythical that is. Not having any intestinal microorganism at all opens the way for the nasties to take over.

Most likely there was something other than baker's yeast in the bread.

Ummm, you also have E. coli in your intestines, but it's still not a very good idea to eat it.

To much of the right thing in the wrong part of the system can indeed make you sick.

It's difficult to take advantage of the economy of 'cooking from scratch' when living in a tent city.

The current market offers dramatically increased tax-free wages for careful food purchasing and home food preparation from simple staples purchased at bulk.

re: cooking to save, survive, and what that implies...

With cooking success, comes growing enjoyment. Cooking is fun, although I know people who hate it and consider it to be an imposition on their time and lives. A great thing to try is to recreate a great meal one had without the recipe...kind of like a detective exercise using spices. For example Paul N reference to beans. I used to hate my mom's baked beans. One day I had some at a potluck and it took me three or four tries to duplicate the flavour of this lady's recipe...now, it is my own. This morning I filleted up some thawed coho for smoking, seasoned the tail ends for a barbecue tonight, and whipped up a batch of bread for two families. It took about two hours, but since it is raining this morning who cares?

Also, food and eating is communal and full of fellowship, (for want of a better word). If you are on your own invite someone over for supper and collaborate on the meal with some wine/drink and music or a game on the tube. It works for any age. When I was 18 I moved out and shared a house with a buddy. He logged, I worked construction. We used to cook up venison steaks, grouse, huge italian meals, and wash it all down with 'rough red'. In the winter we would sit around in easy chairs around the oil stove and prop our feet up on the open oven door and have a smoke and a few more drinks. It was a wonderful life and of course we saved a fortune for our own house purchases, school, etc.

The only drawback is that cooking ruins restaurant meals and dining out. No matter where you go, you can always eat better at home. If you go to a great restaurant, then the cost takes the enjoyment out of it, although pub food is hard to duplicate at home and has its own allure for us working class. However, you hasve to like to cook for all this to happen, or at least like something about it. Perhaps keeping a set of books on how much you save will be incentive for those just starting.

Cooking on an energy forum? Well, as discretionary funds and consumption habits wind down, folks either change their lifestyles or they won't make it financially. We might not make it too well at any rate, however, it is more than likely that the days of buying what we want and eating out in restaurants on a whim is fast drawing to a close for regualr working folks. (Most of us). If one can make it fun and rewarding, then it simply is another positive experience of being human. Lord knows there's enough of the other.


According to oil tanker tracker, Oil Movements, OPEC exports are running about 23.22 mbpd. This compares with the 24.05 mbpd level at the start of February 2011, just before Libya's production went 'off-line'. Libya has recovered to within about 400,000 bpd of its former level of exports. So OPEC is shipping about 800,000 bpd less including Libya, or about 400,000 bpd less if you exclude Libya.

Any way you look at it, OPEC is exporting less, which directly contradicts the repeated claims by OPEC members - especially Saudi Arabia - that they will 'make up' any loss of Iranian exports due to sanctions, and possibly war.

To paraphrase singer/writer Richard Marx - all of our rescues are gone. Roy Mason of Oil Movements says we might have to wait until May for a further recovery in oil exports. Even that hope may be prove to be optimistic if global net exports have entered into a long term decline.

OPEC Shipment Gains to Slow as Winter Ends, Oil Movements Says
February 09, 2012, 11:52 AM EST

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will ship 23.22 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Feb. 25, up from the 23.15 million barrels in the period to Jan. 28, the Halifax, England-based researcher said today in an e-mailed report. The figures exclude Angola and Ecuador.

“For long-haul crude, the winter is over, and it’ll be May before we see signs of any increase re-appear,” Roy Mason, Oil Movements’ founder, said by telephone. “European demand in general is terrible.”


Total Partly Replaces Iran Oil With Saudi Crude

Total's acknowledgment that it has substituted some Iranian crude oil with Saudi oil is the first such public comment by a major European oil company since the European Union decided last month to embargo Iranian oil.

The company's previous Iranian crude-oil supply had been "some heavy oil that was well suited for our French refineries," and the substitution crude oil the group has found since it stopped buying from Iran is "a bit more complicated to process," Mr. de la Chevardiere said in an interview.

Total said it has turned to Saudi Arabia to replace some Iranian oil, even if the Saudi oil isn't as particularly suited to French refineries.


While demand from Europe is falling, demand in China is rising. China imported a record amount of oil in January, 2012. Historically, January is not usually a record month for China imports.

I keep coming back to what is presented in the MSM about demand in China "slowing". It's the growth rate of demand that is slowing, not the actual amount of imports. A few years ago China hit 5 mbpd imports for the first time ever. Now, 5 mbpd is quickly becoming the norm. I can't help but think a "squeeze" is coming sooner than many expect.

Your thoughts?


The ‘West’ as a group has basically allowed China and the ‘East’ to grab a greater share of Mideast oil exports since about March 15, 2011. You may remember at about that time there were news reports about some type of deal to ‘swap’ Saudi oil with the East for lost Libyan oil. Don’t know if there was ever a formal agreement reached, but at least informally China was allowed to, possibly by just out bidding, the West for oil exports since then. The West resorted to tapping strategic IEA oil reserves to make up for lost supplies.

So we have a situation where China’s oil imports are increasing at the same time OPEC’s exports are falling.

It’s not clear how this might continue in the wake of Iranian oil sanctions. The only way possible for Saudi to send more oil East is by sending less oil West. If so, it won’t be long before the next IEA oil reserve release – although numerous economic problems in Europe appear to have given the West a grace period of a few more months of relatively stable supplies before any dramatic actions need to be taken.

My point is that the dominant trend we are seeing is that the US, and many other developed oil importing countries, are gradually being shut out of the global market for exported oil, as annual Brent crude oil prices doubled from 2005 to 2011.

I've been thinking about this the last while, and while true on the face, I'm not sure it's totally accurate.

I view most of the life through a Toronto-centric lens, and there are two issues that are front and centre in the news here at the moment. They're related, but you wouldn't know that from reading the papers. They also speak to peak oil.

Issue one: Transit. City Council has defeated the Mayor's attempt to go forward with his misguided Transit plan,which centred on a new, ill-placed Subway, and a buried streetcar line. Council favour the previous Metrolinx Plan, which was mainly separated Light Rail vehicles at grade. Of course, the Mayor is in place for 3 more years, and is both stupid and obstinate. Looks like stalemate and delay.

Issue Two: Housing. Intense whining that people can't afford even attached single houses in the city (prices have doubled in ten years, and start around $400,000), especially if they want them close to transit lines. (There are plenty of condos available, it should be noted.)

These stories are in separate sections of the paper, and don't reference each other at all.

The obvious connection is that houses cost more because with Toronto's gridlock, you're buying time to not sit in a traffic jam, and that is a valuable commodity.

The less obvious connection is that you're paying for infrastructure and the embedded energy it involves, both for the property and house itself, and for the services and structures like hospitals and transit lines.

Few people (even in the city) realize that Toronto is a low tax rate jurisdiction; it just turns out that stuff is really expensive here, so we make it up in volume. Unfortunately, this still results in less being spent on infrastructure (we're stingy.) The Metrolinx transit initiatives are all less expensive, and less energy intensive to construct, than alternatives like Subways (to be clear, I prefer surface light rail for the lines in the Metrolinx plan, though there are subways I would build, if it were up to me.) We also have the usual problems with infrastructure not being replaced and maintained; energy not being used that is, in fact, required for the long term maintaince of BAU (as always, not advocating BAU, just questioning the current realities.)

So my issue with your stand is a semantic one: is the west being shut out of the markets? Or are bad choices being made that hide the issues? Is much of the reduction in oil use coming out of concrete for buildings, asphalt for roads, and heating for community centres, rather than the total number of miles driven?

If we were maintaining our infrastructure, as well as using our current energy allotments, would there be an oil shortage already?

I just realized something- the implication of this is that BAU is not really BAU.

Not maintaining infrastructure is powering down.


From the point of view of consumers, what is the more important metric, an increase in US crude oil production in 2011, or the annual Brent crude oil price of $111 that we saw in 2011?

Neither! It's the price of gas at the pump, Jack. The consumer doesn't care one bit about the price of Brent or WTI.

The comments to this article, though, are priceless...

European crude drives up U.S. gas prices

IOW, it's the price at the pump, Jack, not the price at the pumpjack.

Sorry... ;-)

Re : "There are plenty more fish in the sea"

Interestingly, this article starts with discussion of fisheries, but then goes on to talk about squirrels as food, and then goes on to the topic of Peak Oil.

"Peak oil has passed – price rises and crises will get worse"

"This, they say, suggests the market has “tipped into a new state… Production is now 'inelastic’, unable to respond to rising demand and this is leading to wild price swings. Such major spikes in fuel prices can cause economic crises and contributed to the one the world is recovering now.” "

The World Has to Have this Resource… But There Simply Isn’t Enough of It
(warning: popups)

... In fact, our power plants need about 40-60 million pounds of uranium annually to operate, but domestic mines spit out just 4 million (about 6-10% of what we need).

It might come as a surprise after all the negative headlines… but nuclear power is still a growth industry, despite the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Only 10 of the world's 445 reactors have stopped operating since the accident. Meanwhile 60 new ones are under construction… and 370 more are in the planning stage.

The hundreds of new reactors being planned are driving a frantic scramble for uranium inventories. You need 1.5 million pounds of uranium at startup to get a reactor going. And you need 500,000 more pounds to burn every year. Utilities like to hold three to four years of inventories. This adds up to big numbers when you consider that the world digs up only 140 million pounds a year.

If we look out over the next 8-10 years, which is how long it takes a nuclear power plant to become operational, the market is about 400 million pounds short of demand ...

Only 10 of the world's 445 reactors have stopped operating since the accident.

Not true. Only like 6 of Japans 54 reactors are currently running. They have a rule that says the local government has to approve a restart after a shutdown and a lot of local governments have said no after reactors were shut down for tests, refueling, etc.


And I'm sure the world looks forward to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Zimbabwe all getting the "world needing" resource.

If one is going to support " 370 more are in the planning stage " lets have a discussion about these planned reactors.

And while we are at it, lets talk about the expense to TEPCO - the damage from the plants exceed the market cap. Because the world doesn't need more privatising of the gain and making the loss public, now does it?

Because the world doesn't need more privatising of the gain and making the loss public, now does it?

Depends on who you ask.... To those who benefit from this arrangement, more of it sounds mighty fine.

Yes. Those rich men who recognize that their survival probably depends upon leaving something for the plebes are as rare as hen's teeth.

The French scientists are funny, with impecable timing, in their projection of a 2C rise by 2100 as optimistic. They at least could have waited until July or August to make their pronouncement and not when Europe is in the midst of another deep freeze for the third year in a row.

In fact to date, the 2007 (just 5 years old) IPCC forecast has overestimated warming by about 0.4C. GC models are clearly wrong.


"Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful."
-George E. P. Box (1987)

See also

And for my own curve fitting exercise:

Ouch, your linear + sine is worrying. If things ease off before surging again all the politicians are going to get into a feelygood 'global warming is nonsense' and back off on the needed changes. After that... I would rather not imagine.


[EDIT spelling]

We may be about to get that next surge earlier than expected. Something seems to be afoot with methane in the Arctic. Compare methane concentrations over the Arctic Ocean and Siberia this January versus last January:



Further commentary:


First 2 links didn't work for me but that may be my proxy, I'll check later. Methane release may speed things up but it is the potential dip before the rise I find worrying. It may delay the action that is desperately needed.


Here's the 2 images combined as an animated gif. January 2011 and January 2012

I'm wondering if there is there a direct relationship between Arctic ice volume loss and increasing methane releases? If so, it would explain how in a La Nina (supposed cooler year), there could be a greater methane release.

The link below shows Arctic ice volume and its relentless retreat:


I think you're on to something there. '07, the year of the big step down in ice extent, also showed a fairly large increase of atmospheric methane over the Arctic, iirc.

Thanks for that UT!

I just pasted the two side by side. This is much better

It looks ominous, but the Arctic Oscillation was in a strong sustained positive phase all of January, Now that that has ended for the most part, we may see more dispersion. OTOH, if the concentration is sustained or increases as the melt season begins, we may be seeing the start of something very bad.

The vastly different atmospheric flow regimes for the two januaries may have created their own signal. Unless we know what that signal looks like, so we can "correct" for it, we don't know if this change is significant.

Exactly! And that's the problem,isn't it?

Did the anomalous strong Arctic Oscillation cause the concentration or merely highlight another aspect of the same problem? A double whammy perhaps? And no, I don't think we know, or can know what signal to look for because the rules are changing.

Updraft -Broken winter (MPR)

"Something is definitely up with the weather, and it is clear to me that over the past two years, the climate has shifted to a new state capable of delivering rare and unprecedented weather events." -Jeff Masters describing radical changes in weather patterns over the past 2 years.

Despite all the fancy models and number crunching machines, meteorologists rely on experience and pattern recognition and IMO, Dr. Masters is one of the best. I don't want to sound hyperbolic, but I do fear that we are seeing the opening act of one of the tipping points that so many have talked about.

I hope subsequent measurements prove me wrong.

I agree, that the climate system does seem to be moving into a state that we don't have experience of. Whether we have a beginnings of a serious methane event is a different (though related) matter.

The fur heads seem to have started moulting already. This is usually a March/April thing.


Thanks, that really shows it up. It should be noted that the scale runs from 1780 to 1870 so the percentage change is quite small but it is still an eye opener. I winder if there is a correlation with ice as Perk Earl suggests, less ice to trap methane in the water?


Yes, and that happens to be where the color scheme turns over to red, so we all start literally 'seeing red.' But it does seem to be an unusually large jump this year, perhaps, as PE suggested, connected to the large ice extent loss last fall.

Note that the biggest and most solid blotches of deep red are directly over the East Siberian Arctic Shelf and the southern swath of the permafrost zone, both areas of concern for major methane feedback.

I am hoping that this is a blip rather than the beginning of something that will rapidly (or even gradually) spin out of control in a (nearly) endless feedback. IIRC there are some trillions of tons of carbon locked up in these two sources, much of which will be emitted as methane, a gas 105 times stronger than CO2 in decadal time scales.

It is my fourth year posting here today. Perhaps it's time for a siesta? Can I resist, or will I have to ask to be forcibly removed?

that's.. not good.
i think it's fare to say we no longer matter in the process of warming the climate, we have just been taken out of the loop.

I don't know whether to say I am afraid I agree with you or I am afraid to agree with you.


The author claims that there's a 60-62 year (mol) oscillation in the solar insolation. Trouble is, his claim is taken from an analysis of the temperature record, which is only some 160 years in length. Performing a frequency analysis as the author presented depends on constant period lengths, yet, all the periods which are detected are said to be variable. The sunspot "cycle" actually exhibits different periods between peaks, as does the reversal in the magnetic field each time interval, which implies that the claimed "20-21 year" period found by the analysis is not a fixed length cycle either. The Lomb Periodogram technique the author used just extends the more common Least Squares technique for fitting a series of data with sine curves of different frequencies. That technique is not proof that there exist fixed cycles driving the data at those frequencies. I recall that other such efforts have been shown to produce different periods if the time series is split into sub-sections and each is then analyzed. Lastly, (without reading the text) the author mentions astronomical cycles, but does not show graphs that link them to the "cycles" produced from his analysis...

EDIT: HERE's a LINK to Scafetta's paper on his web site. Funny thing, he attached a commentary by Larry Bell at FORBES. That might give you an idea of how "scientific" his work is...

E. Swanson

"not proof that there exist fixed cycles driving the data at those frequencies"

The frequencies and phases of a Fourier series combine to recreate the waveform observed in a physical system, but they do not imply that they are components of the physical system.

Beautiful old machines:

Those mechanical "computing machines" are a great example. Thanks for posting the links. Of course, the driving forces in the tidal system are astronomical and thus exhibit precise cycles in the time domain. The same can not be said for the postulated solar drivers of the climate system. If climate were that simple, the discussion (I hate to use the word "debate") would have ended long ago...

E. Swanson

Yes, La Nina years do tend to cool things off a bit.

As do relatively quiet solar cycles such as the one we have just had.

And as do massive quantities of light-reflecting aerosols that have been spewing from the Chinese coal plants they have been building at the rate of about one a week for the last decade...

None of those forcings are likely to last much longer.

You are looking at the 'dog rather than the one walking the dog.'

Annual variations are essentially meaningless when looking at long term patterns of climate change. You need to look at multi-decadal periods to get meaningful data. And any multi-decade period you choose from the last hundred-plus years will show a clear increase in global temps (unless you very carefully cherry-pick the years from about 1940-1970).

Note also that, while the actual temperature graph is still well within the range of probable predicted temps, the predictions were much farther off in the other direction on Arctic sea ice extent, which already declined in 2007 to levels lower than those predicted by even the most pessimistic estimates for toward the end of the century.

The best use of £50bn QE? Bypass the banks and go direct to green projects

As the Bank of England today decides to introduce a further £50bn into its programme of quantitative easing (QE), it's hard to see why it should be any more successful than the eye-watering £275bn it has already created, which has failed to reach small businesses or create jobs.

... Money creation is a public privilege – so using it to benefit the public and the environment seems only right. There needs to be a debate about how QE money is spent. In our view, it should be injected directly into projects that create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and reduce our climate emissions

I saw a nice illustration of QE and trickle down. A stack of champagne glasses, bowl type, in a pyramid. The champagne poured into the top one and trickled down to the next one or two layers. The bottom layer dry. Trouble is that the bottom layers are the ones holding the whole pyramid up.


Oil spill in Venezuela fouls river, state oil company says workers containing crude

Ramirez told the state-run Venezuelan News Agency on Friday that workers have been using absorbent barriers to block the crude in the river. He said they have also shut off water intakes along the river, where a drinking water purification plant is located.

State oil company officials said a pipe that transports crude to a processing plant ruptured on Feb. 4. Ramirez didn’t say how much crude has spilled. ... Gov. Jose Gregorio Briceno said earlier in the week that the government had declared an emergency in Monagas state after the spill forced officials to halt normal water distribution to parts of the city of Maturin.

The comments say that locals jumped into the water without protection to clean up the spill and that authorities were diverting potable water trucks to the area.


U.S. Oil Fields Stage “Great Revival,” But No Easing Gas Prices

We would be in so much trouble if not for that revival . . . but of course it was natural to happen since the increased price of oil made a lot of previous uneconomic oil patches economically viable. I like this graph:

We have been given a stay of execution. And it will be limited . . . as TODers know, the USA only has only 2% or so of the world's known reserves. (To his credit, Obama regularly mentions that 2% but that line rarely makes it into the news.) We should use this stay of execution wisely to reduce our dependence on oil before it becomes a problem again in the not too distant future. We need to build public transportation and get electric cars ready. But will we do that? We have been working on it somewhat. But I think we are greedy and have short attention spans. We will just fall back into our old patterns.

Well USA . . . don't say you weren't warned.

The irony about the Lower 48 Renaissance is that the primary driver is the fact that global conventional cumulative production in 2005 was at about the same stage of depletion that Lower 48 conventional cumulative production was at in 1970 (based on HL models)--leading to the "Best of times, worst of times" situation that I noted up the thread.

Given that HR 7, the House version of the Transportation Bill, eliminates all dedicated federal funding for transit and for non-motorized (bike/ped) transportation, I don't think we're making a very good start.

The article talks about an inexorable trend toward greater imports from Nixon to now. That's not true. Crude plus products net imports actually declined into the mid 80's. Reagan gutted CAFE and FUA and several other pertinent policies. KSA opened the taps after losing market power.

Natural gas exports eyed through Calvert County

Dominion, based in Richmond, Va., has won approval from the Department of Energy to use Cove Point for exporting liquefied natural gas to about 20 nations with which the United States has free-trade agreements. The company is now seeking federal permission to allow shipments to virtually any foreign country, except those barred because of trade embargoes.

... The nation is awash in natural gas right now, with production outstripping consumption and a record amount in storage for this time of year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The prices that gas companies are getting for their product are at the lowest point in a decade, and at least a couple have announced plans to scale back drilling in Appalachia's Marcellus shale deposits, which have played a major role in feeding the current boom.

also Riverkeepers file comments against Dominion project

... “LNG facilities like the one proposed for Cove Point are intended to ship natural gas extracted in this country off to foreign lands,” Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Michael Helfrich said in the release. “The result is that gas drillers can ship American gas overseas in order to make more money, but this increases the price of natural gas for us, and our communities and environment get ravaged by the shale gas ‘gold rush.’”

The assertion of cheap gas and energy independence touted by the drillers is, like the claims they make for gas drilling, clearly just another marketing campaign,” Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum said in the release. “We know that because they are investing tremendous sums of money and political capital in building and expanding all of the pollution and harm from gas drilling while foreign countries get to use the gas and drillers get to reap the benefits. It’s a lose-lose for Americans.”

Let the resource wars begin/continue........

Britain is militarising Falklands, Argentina tells UN
UN secretary general concerned by escalation of dispute as Argentina lodges formal protest at recent deployments


I knew it wasn't all about the sheep....

"Low U.S. natural-gas prices have made it tough for developers to build new power plants in competitive electricity markets, which could affect the electric grid, the chief executive of American Electric Power Co. said Friday."

What I'm doing with my pure gas wells is setting them up with electrical generators and burning the natural gas at the Christmas tree to produce electricity directly. This saves the cost of compression and selling into a market currently at the $2/gigajoule range. Some of the electricity is sold directly to area businesses, and the rest goes into the local grid as peak demand supply. It doesn't make a large profit but it does make a small profit, as opposed to shipping it and getting back a cheque that doesn't even cover the cost of shipping.


U.S. adds more Mexican states to travel warning

MEXICO CITY - The U.S. State Department recommends Americans avoid travel to all or parts of 14 of 31 Mexican states in the widest travel advisory since Mexico stepped up its drug war in 2006

One of the focuses of danger is the amount of U.S. citizens that have been murdered in Mexico while traveling going up. In 2007 there were 35 US citizens reported to be murdered in Mexico and in 2011 the rate has pushed up to 120 citizens.

According to the most recent homicide figures published by the Mexican government, 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico between December 1, 2006 and September 30, 2011

Operation Iraqi Freedom Iraq US Coalition Military Fatalities By Year for comparison ... 2303 killed

2006 822
2007 904
2008 314
2009 149
2010 60
2011 54

More U.S. citizens were killed in Mexico in 2011 than U.S. military in Iraq in 2011 [120 v 54]

elsewhere Mexico Cartels Paid Millions for Political Favors

U.S. drug agents say they have evidence that Mexican drug cartel leaders paid $4.5 million for political favors to a Mexican border state governor and other figures in Mexico's former ruling party.

In 2011 the State department says 34 Americans were murdered in Baja California del Norte alone (more than a quarter of Americans killed in Mexico). However, the State department indicates that the majority of these killings appeared to be directly related to narcotics trafficking. Although innocent bystanders have been occasionally killed, the relatively small number of American deaths appear to take 2 main modes: 1)Americans who are a part of the drug trade, 2)A small number of Americans being targetted for kidnapping, carjacking, etc. due to apparent wealth.

Exactly, there was a big panic that 2 Canadians were killed here - oohh how dangerous it is. The reality was they were 2 traffickers who had upset the wrong people.


More Americans were killed in the US than in Iraq in 2011. So what. Silly statistics are meaningless.

From The Los Angeles Times.
In May, gunmen wearing camouflage and tennis shoes kidnapped five Pemex workers as they rode to the front gate of the Gigante No. 1 natural gas plant in the Burgos Basin. One man was a mechanic, another specialized in pumps. All were dressed in their crisp khaki uniforms with the Pemex logo, ready for long shifts. They have not been heard from since.

The kidnappings, plus the reported disappearance of at least 30 other employees of subcontractors in the same region, have terrorized a community where jobs on the oil rigs and at the gas wells are handed down, father to son, for generations.

"The traffickers are establishing it clearly," said Sen. Graco Ramirez, a member of the congressional energy committee. "You collaborate, or you die.

Three hundred or so articles about "Mexico Under Siege".

Poland's shale gas play takes on Russian power

... Beginning in 2014, Warsaw wants to tap an estimated 5.3 trillion cubic meters of recoverable reserves of gas - enough, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, to supply Poland with more than 300 years of its domestic energy needs.

But the shale gas push is about more than energy. Poland wants to break its reliance on Russian energy and reduce Moscow's power over Europe. That is one reason why Warsaw has welcomed U.S. oil majors such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Conoco and Marathon, even though it risks igniting tensions with Russia.

But Russian officials, publically at least, dismiss the challenge, arguing it will prove Russian gas is cheap.

"Oh, we're so thrilled that they are starting to produce shale gas!" Sergei Komlev, head of contract structuring at Russia's state-controlled Gazprom told Reuters last week. "Look, we do not believe in this myth of shale gas, that it is cheap gas. It is not true."

Art Berman would probably agree with the Ruskies

New from Chatham House ...

Shrinking Presidency: Don't expect too much of the next US president

Aaron David Miller looks at what it takes to make a great US president and identifies three figures who made the grade. But without the right mix of crisis and character, he argues, the best we can hope for in future is “good”

... George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt held the office under very different circumstances, governing, if you will, in three different Americas. And yet they are linked in time and political space by what I call the three Cs of presidential greatness [Crisis, Character, Capacity]. Fortuna, the contingent in history, also played a major role – right place at the right time – as it does in all human enterprise. Together, these elements combined to make a strong case not just for greatness, but for indispensability, or at least as close as any leader can come to it. Take these three out of the American story, and America would have been a much different and darker place, and not just at the margins.

and Gold and the International Monetary System

Concern about the performance of the international monetary system has led policymakers to consider the possibility of a new role for gold.

The Chatham House Gold Taskforce was set up to consider this. The findings of the taskforce show that in the transition to an increasingly multi-polar world, gold can be expected to play a significant role in the international monetary system. Gold can serve as a valuable hedge and safe haven, particularly in times of economic uncertainty. However, it is also imperative that the role of gold remains limited to avoid hindering the international monetary system's performance or creating constraints on national economic policies.

The next president will continue to serve the military, wall street and Israel just like the previous presidents since Eisenhower. The people are just slaves to the military, the corporations, and the Zionists. Because they have the money. Money uber alles.

Areva-UraMin deal followed suspicious trading: report

MONTREAL — French nuclear power group Areva's purchase of Canadian uranium producer UraMin in 2007 for a high price was preceded by suspicious stock trades indicative of insider trading, a report said Saturday.

The controversial deal valued UraMin at more than $2.5 billion (1.89 billion euros) and was struck during peak demand for enriched uranium as nuclear energy was making a comeback amid concern over global warming and high oil prices.

Research conducted by La Presse de Montreal newspaper, however, said there was an unusually high volume of trades in UraMin shares in days leading up to the announcement of the Areva takeover.

Volume reportedly quadrupled, allowing well-informed investors to make a gain of 11-24 percent over four days, it said.

Thanks for that, especially the first one...ROFLMFAO, great way to open the Saturday night bar.

Oh man, he knew when he had pwnd them and what with too.


And while the visual evidence is interesting - is it an accurate representation of an actual even?

Where is the brass on the ground? Why didn't the 2 with guns use them on the chimp? Or use them on the guy who gave the chimp the gun? Not to mention the actual recoil from the firing?

By stopping the action at a few points, one can see puffs of "smoke" from the barrel of the "gun", but no sign of cartridge cases flying thru the air. There's no evidence of bullet impacts in the dirt in front of the "gun" barrel, which was pointed down. I'd bet that this is an electric airsoft toy, which can spit out lots of plastic pellets in short order with minimal recoil. Add a sound track to match the action and there you have it...

E. Swanson

It's a fake that was made to promote the last Planet of the Apes movie.

the 1st clue something was up - 20th century fox reference at the front end.
The 2nd clue - not "found footage" grade. The video was "too good". Now this could be because I'm "too old" and the newest cameras are just that good.

I did go back and re-watch to note the lack of recoil on the bursts. And my animal behaviour guess - If a chimp did fire a gun, as soon as it made noise and moved the shock of such a reaction would cause the animal to drop the gun.

But like the BP chopper and operation center photographs - things are not always as they seem.

National Geographic SERIES "Doomsday Preppers" Tuesday 9PM .. staring ... Well you know - Those that Cling to food & guns

Under explore more there are entries for : "Tapped out Oil" & "Has Peak Oil arrived?"
Shame that the most important Story of Modern History is lost in all this noise.
BTW: When do we get our own Peak Oil Channel? Adds would leave Superbowl's in the DUST.
I always wanted to start a Product Review series - "Collapse Labs" Certify products that actually do something worthwhile and function post TEOTWAWKI. Chevy trucks with DVD's .Forget it. Many Products feature on Drumbeats, Slime, Run flat tires, LED lights, Solar cookers, Garden stuff, 1980's 123 Series MB Diesel Sedans, etc.

According to the "Doomsday Dashboard" , apparently measured by the number of tweets on a given topic, 70% of Twitter users think a Megaquake will be the most likely disaster. Nuclear War rates a distant second (11%), while an oil crisis comes in at number 6 (1%).

"Using Twitter, we are mining the chatter to see what is at the forefront of the public’s collective consciousness. Find out what the masses are saying, and see which catastrophe is on top of the Doomsday Dashboard."

Actually you miscounted. "Extreme Oil Crisis" comes in at #7. But #4, with 6%, is Economic Collapse. The two are likely the same thing, or close to it. Any economic collapse is likely to be caused by collapsing world oil production, or more correctly collapsing world oil exports from producing nations.

If they had polled me I would have put "Economic Collapse caused largely by Peak Oil and Environmental Collapse" as #1. I would have put "Pandemic" #2, "Nuclear War/Radiation" #3, "Megaquake" #4, Electro-Magnetic Pulse" "5 and "2012 Cataclysm" #6 with a zero chance of happening.

Wait, I take that back. A "2012 Cataclysm" could possibly be caused by any of the previous 5 causes. But it is highly unlikely any of them will cause collapse by 2012.

Ron P.

"Actually you miscounted".

Yes, you are correct - looks like "Extreme Oil Crisis" slipped down in the rankings. I guess we are "awash in oil".


I think I would probably put "Pandemic" first. But then, I suppose, it all depends on where one sees the most weaknesses in the system.

Edit : I think we are more likely to have a slow, stairstep down the back of Hubbert's Peak, than a sudden shutoff in supply. I agree this is causing economic hardship, but the economy hasn't totally stopped. I think of a sudden crisis as appearing in other areas than oil, since the military is ensuring that total shutoff doesn't happen.

But it is highly unlikely any of them will cause collapse by 2012.

Is it collapse only if TOD is not here/not reachable so the readers can see if collapse is collapsed enough?

What's the metric for 'collapsed' enough?

Well I guess everyone could have a different definition for collapse. But to my way of thinking even a severe depression would not qualify as "total collapse". I would classify total collapse as the complete collapse of globalization and global trade. Oil producing countries would keep their oil, or only sell it to countries that would pay them in some currency that they could actually use. I imagine that would probably be gold.

Well anyway, you get the idea. My view of total collapse would not be a Greer type step down, it would be that final big step down that broke your neck when you fell off it. ;-)

Not funny I know but still I could not resist the smiley face.

Ron P.

My definition of total collapse is when food deliveries become erratic, electric grid becomes erratic, different parts of the country are controlled by different militias and it is no longer safe to drive on highways except in convoys.

So what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last decade?

LOL. By that definition India has been in a state of total collapse since independence or at least large parts of India.

I don't think they'd be that interested in gold. It's food they'd need. They can't feed their people. And we can't grow food without oil.

eric - Maybe there's a distinction like recession/depression: you're neighbor can't carry on BAU = bad times; you can't carry on BAU = collapase

you can't carry on BAU = collapase

Part of the reason I asked. One man's collapse is another man's "great time". How bad do things have to be before the bulk of humanity says "yup collapse"?

Tainter defines it as a drop in societal complexity. I think anything that led to that would qualify as a collapse. A decrease in organizational/political complexity, a drop in the number of cultural artifacts - that would be so at odds with historical trends it would be a major change. Perhaps one we products of the fossil fuel fiesta can't fully fathom.

More practically, I like the Super Bowl measure. If people are still more interested in the Super Bowl than peak oil/energy prices, BAU is continuing.

"Peak College"

When a society is fat and happy it can afford to over educate everybody who wants to be over educated. When resources are limited it can only afford to pay for what is needed, if that.

Technology has made traditional education replaceable by technology. The lecture can be replaced by the videoed lecture, one per subject per planet, given by the one best lecturer on the planet. Having 100 professors of physics giving the same lecture 100 times in parallel is wasteful of resources. There is the free online college textbook project. :) There are online colleges like MITx.

There is still a place for humans to get together to talk over the material with each other. The most value is student with student discussion, free. My memory of college involved almost zero contact with professors beyond the lecture. So almost nothing lost by using videos, except for the $240,000 price tag.

I will go with "Good Will Hunting" you can get the same education with a library card to the Boston Public Library and $2.75 in late fees.

From up top:

I agree that a liberal-arts education provides those intangibles. But maybe it's time that instruction—at least at some colleges—included more hands-on, traditional skills.

I agree of course (who wouldn't) that years at college (mostly politics, sex, and beer) are great for those aged 18-21.

But I also think that this excessive cost can be rationalised (or at least amortised) if those thousands of college kids also learnt a really useful practical skill - fixing electronic stuff, using a lathe to produce new metal objects, how to electrically wire a whole house, how to make a hundred units of food instead of one, how to fix technical equipment on any production line, how to grow great tomatoes, how to strip down and rejuvenate an ICE, how to install a full PV system ... the list goes on and on.

But while colleges play at being in the real world and get paid in full ... well ... why do it?

Most college education is a bubble, a scam. When everyone has a degree, most degrees become almost worthless. But still everyone feels they must have a degree. The price of tuition goes up year after year. People stay longer and longer in college on average trying to gain an edge. Of course there's many jobs you do need a college degree for - but not that many. I can't see the whole "everyone must have a degree" paradigm lasting too much longer.

Education is now a capital investment.
When that happened, as a society, we had lost the battle.

There are a lot of problems... I currently have one professor that DOES hang out with the students at least twice a week. I have learned as much sitting with him over a beer as I have in class. Unfortunately, this seems to have made him a target - I don't know the details, but someone claims he said something at one of these informal gatherings and it's become a messy proceeding. When consorting with students makes you a target (or an easy target - he's always had enemies in the department), you bet professors will avoid being with students in off-hours.

I think we need to rethink the idea of education as a whole, but in my opinion one of the biggest issues is that we don't teach ENOUGH. On the lower level, this means that in grade school and middle school we've cut cooking, music, basically anything that makes a balanced person out of the cirriculum. At a higher level, the separation of trade skills from universities creates an artificial class divide, and leaves a lot of people with expensive degrees but the inability to do much of anything outside of academia. We are hobbling people rather than educating them. The system is designed to create workers for offices, not balanced human beings with many skills.

We are in the middle of a massive bubble. The loans, criminally, have special legal protections over other types of loans. The end result of this will be interesting to say the least.

When a society is fat and happy it can afford to over educate everybody who wants to be over educated.

When a society is lean and mean, it can afford to over-educate everybody who wants to be over-educated, too. The main difference is that it costs a poor society a lot less money than a rich one because the teachers work for less pay, the classes are much larger, and the students work much harder and complain much less.

This is why China and India are overwhelming the US with engineering and science graduates - it doesn't cost nearly as much to produce them there. They produce millions of university graduates who are willing to do the same jobs for much less money because, from their perspective, it is much better than the alternatives.

For less than what it costs to live in a cheap condo and eat fast food in Silicon Valley, an Indian software engineer can live in a big house with servants and a skilled chef to cook meals.

Rocky – a while back we chatted about the need for classroom instruction vs. online. It would be interesting to hear how it went for you and westexas. At my La. state uni it was cheap (in 1969) even taking in normal inflation: less than $100/semester plus books. More important classroom instruction had very little to do with what you learned. Face time with profs was helpful but in the end what you learned was a function of how much you studied outside the class. And we had to study very hard: we ran on the Honor system...usually given the test to take on your own in the allotted time. And since they weren’t restricted to the standard 2 hour test period many of our tests took 6 to 12 hours to complete. Brutal to see the least. LOL. Graduate school was the same: you gained very little knowledge in the classroom. And then there was your independent work on you thesis.

So what was the value of a master’s degree in getting a job in the oil patch? My thesis was on an oil field study…very rare. In fact, most folks don’t realize that geology students, including grad school, learn very little about the oil/NG biz. Once you’re hired by an oil company that training begins. Can take a good 5 year before many can begin adding valuable work product. But in my day it was almost impossible to get a job without an MS degree. An HR explained why: you may not be any better trained to be a petroleum geologist but you’ve proved you had the discipline/motivation to bump yourself up one level. Had I had the discipline to sit in a library and study on my own for 6 years I would have been just a valuable new hire as someone who spent that time at the uni. Maybe even more so than those who just clocked time in class.

With online resources available today I would have no problem developing the same knowledge base in 3 years or so as I did in those 6 years. Of course, convincing a company that’s true is another thing. OTOH if I were hiring a young geologist today I could care less if they had a MS. He might have a BS from some online diploma mill. But a long day of intense interview would tell me all needed to know. Not just about their trainability but the personality/character.

IMHO university time is critical for those who need that disciplne/peer pressure to perform. Otherwise a cheap online degree can prepare a person for the real world as well as $200,000+ worth of uni expense.

Well, Rockman, it wasn't quite as cheap in Alberta as in Louisiana, by the time I graduated from the University of Calgary in 1970 I had HUNDREDS of dollars in student loans, despite the scholarships I got. However, it obviously was a lot cheaper than it is today.

It took me about 9 months to pay off my student loan, and, after working for a year I realized my chemistry degree wasn't working for me, so I went back and got a degree in computer science. That was a lot more fun, first because I had a wad of cash in the bank to fund me, and second because I walked straight into a good-paying job on graduation.

I also got to claim that I got my second degree by accident, because when I handed in my registration form, the clerk looked up and said, "You know this gives you another degree, don't you?" No I don't, but if you hum a few bars of it, I can play along.

I did notice, after some painful readjustment, that the professors were just there to point me in the right direction rather than teach me, and after that, it was all up to me. Once I realized that, I just put some serious hours into research in the University library and the computer lab, and the courses got a lot easier. If you can toss some cutting-edge research into your labs, and put some answers into the exam questions that haven't been published in the literature yet, you really score big points on the courses.

In the real world of money, things are a lot more focused, but the reality is that it is far better to be on the leading edge than the trailing edge of progress, and you get paid a lot of money for knowing things that other people don't.

A degree, however, is just the starting point. You only learn enough to know where to start looking for the answers. After that, it's all up to you.

Sadly, many online degrees aren't cheap and often cost as much or more than their on-campus counterparts, depending on the institution.

Employers really do need to look past the over-valued and over-hyped academic degrees. There are many people with excellent self-taught skills who are overlooked and forced into shelling out tons of money to take classes to prove they have knowledge they already had. That said, I was ignored and passed over for jobs when I had about 90% of my BA complete, but had far surpassed degree knowledge in real world experience. I pretty much had my MA long before I earned the degree as well, but that impressed no one until I had the piece of paper in hand. Because of my interests, neither has put me in particularly lucrative positions, but holding the degrees has brought far more interesting positions my way.

That said, I really did savor and do value my liberal arts education, even though I'm still paying up the yingyang for it. I think the best result of my post-secondary education is more confidence. And I learned plenty of hands-on skills in the real world from parents, relatives, friends, and mates - despite there not being that many opportunities for vocational skills classes in most public schools (I went in an era when girls were only allowed to attend Home Ec) and mainstream universities, all anyone has to do to gain these is #1 - If you don't excel at academics, go to vocational school, #2 - Reach out to the world around you. It doesn't matter if you didn't learn everything at your mama's knee. There's no excuse to not be able to fry an egg, change the oil in your car, or install a new screen on your laptop. Heck, use YouTube if nothing else.

I haven't tried them, although I'd like my college kids to try a course this summer, Khan Academy is supposedly free. I don't know how well the accreditation works, but I think if you are half decent at teaching yourself, that you ought to be able to learn some pretty decent stuff.
If its online, there is no excuse to make it expensive.

The U.S. military has set up this expectation that for officers to be promoted to O-4 (Major in the USAF/Army/Marines), and definitely to O-5 (Lt Col), then one /must earn a Masters degree. The type of degree, and reputation of the conferring institution (beyond meeting si9mple accreditation standards) matter s not...

This has created the market response of various 'diploma mills' appearing to serve the needs of junior military officers to 'fill the square' and get a Masters Degree prior to their O-4/O-5 promotion boards...officers have the military benefit of using the military tuition assistance program to do this, which pays 100% of tuition costs up to a defined cap.

Back in the day...late '90s...these institution charged $300 per credit hour, meaning the typical 3-credit-hour course ran $1200...

...and this was for courses 'taught' over the Internet! Lots of reading assignments and writing papers. $300/credit hour was the Tuition Assistance cap...

The saying was 'Yuse pays your fee yuse gets your 'B''...

On of these daze when enough people have Masters, then the bar will be raised to expect Doctorates to advance beyond a certain career level...the education industry, in certain cases, has become a self-licking ice cream cone racket.

I am all for more folks learning more day-to-day useful skills...cooking, sewing, carpentry, electrician, Etc.

If there is a pot of money to be spent, and lax rules about the value of the goods, this can be expected. Even if the service can be provided for $1, the price will rise to what the buyer will bare.

So are there any known great online universities/colleges? I always assumed that online stuff wouldn't be as accredited or valuable as courses you take in person. I guess the advantage is that you don't need to be close to a good learning establishment, but the problem is picking a good one before you make your choice which I haven't a clue about.

I have a few degrees, a trade, and have worked for years as a bush pilot. My best educational experience was online, when distributed learning was just taking off (12-13 years ago). It was still expensive as it was through a university, but it allowed me to stay at home, continue working, and not waste my time.

20 years ago I did a lot of universtity through distance ed. The course would come in a package by mail, and I picked up the texts at the post office. Unwrapping the books was like Christmas, and I laid everything out on my work table with great reverence. As I finished each unit, I mailed it off to an unknown prof who returned my work with long hand corrections and a personal note. I have done math courses, geography, history, philosophy, all manner of course work this way. It allowed me to stay home with my family and continue working and paying the bills.

IMHO, it is a very viable schooling option and should prove to keep the bricks and ivy structured elite on their toes.


I wonder what the meaning, or 'so what?' bottom line of producing all these low-cost engineers is to the issues facing the World?

Don't get me wrong, I respect the engineering profession, but does the fact that China and India are graduation a lot of engineering students equate to substantive improvement in the human (and planetary ecosystem) condition over the next 50 years and beyond?

Will they fins solutions or mitigations to the over-fishing of the World's oceans, and to the increasing acidification and pollution of the oceans?

Will they stop and reverse the depletion of their aquifers?

I wonder how many of their software engineers will take jobs as 'Bob from Bangalore' in call centers?

I happen to work with a wide array of scientists and engineers in a certain portion of a large, specialized (arcane) industrial complex in the U.S....almost all the folks have science, engineering, and/or math degrees...in 3.5+ years I have not seen, in person, a single person working with AutoCad, SolidWorks, Pro-E, etc...I have seen very few equation or math beyond simple addition/multiplication/etc. used in meetings...most of the engineers and scientists I work with are actually 'Program Managers', who conduct vast amounts of 'PowerPoint Engineering'. There are, of course, people actually engaged in real engineering tasks, but these people are behind the fence-line of the other USG agency we work with...

...and all these folks (engineers engineering PP slides and engineers engineering physics hardware and software widgets) are 100% dependent on USG funding, for an enterprise that has zero to do with addressing the numerous 'energy and our future' issues talked about on this board.

The point of my ramble is: Graduating large numbers of scientists and engineers does not automatically translate into goodness for humanity...we will get new iPhone-like hardware and new apps for those, and also new arcane MIC hardware and software, but where is the profit in addressing LTG issues?

H - "Graduating large numbers of scientists and engineers does not automatically translate into goodness for humanity". Actually, IMHO, the primary goal (of the students and the system) of graduating many of these folks is to more efficiently/quickly exploit our resources. That and a steady source of income for our university system, of course. Just like the oil patch, the higher education system ain’t your momma. Nothing personal…it’s just another business like us IMHO. LOL.

"ain’t your momma"

Isn't for the public good.

The education system used to be much more for the public good until it became a business, just like any other. Now, it is all about the student loan. All kinds of "vanity" educational corporations, teaching cooking, bar-tending, and the such, have appeared based on an excuse for getting that loan money.

The use of broadcast frequencies used to be "for the public good".

Maybe momma had a better plan.

Agree that the "ain't your momma" comment isn't particularly helpful.

But I'm not sure the public education system was ever "for the public good." Marvin Harris described in one of his books why the public school system was set up. It was because with urbanization/industrialization, you had kids hanging around on the streets all day. They weren't working like farm kids did, and they were annoying merchants and intimidating customers. Schools (and the accompanying truancy laws) were supported because they were good for business - because they kept kids off the streets, not because they were training future workers.

I perceive a progression. The family/extended-family taught. As civilization sets in, quite specific skills/careers become of value/allure. The apprentice system can fill this need. A stranger replaces the close relative. The school is another step away from family. Turning that into a profit center is even more remote from any real care or closeness. The family, the master, the school, and the business can all be jokes/hazards/destructive... this can occur at any level.

The received value is random. For me, school was a total, utter waste of time. In New Mexico, the locals described the high-school as where their kids went to learn "how to get pregnant and play football". For others, it is a haven, a sanctuary, and the only source of human kindness offered in their early lives. Some pairings of student and teacher actually deliver the prize of education.

The modern valued function is babysitting. The valued task is to teach compliance, punctuality, conformity, and deliver the propaganda message.

In our world, everything is replaced with its commodity equivalent. The funeral industry is a fine example. This diminishes the human experience.

For me, school was a total, utter waste of time.

You have to be unusually lucky to fall in with the right school, the right teachers and the right peer group; all aligned to help you advance in your intellectual and social growths.

Granted it doesn't happen too often.

On the other hand, Adam Smith style "specialization" can have its pluses when it comes to the education profession. New teachers can learn from older, wiser mentors if such still exist in the system. Home schooling isn't all it's cracked up to be and cannot deliver the level of professionalism that, in theory, a public school system can.

Sorry Rockman, but the semi-humorous shtick about "ain't your momma" might work in some contexts ... but not on here (for those of us who think).

The implication is that the commercial workings of the education industry (or the oil industry) are how they are, and as it inevitably will be, otherwise it cannot survive or exist. But this doesn't wash at all - and should be challenged vigorously - both on here and in the wider world.

Both the oil and education industries should be totally nationalised ... no questions asked. And no compensation payments to shareholders - they've had their snouts in the rivers of gold for decades - they don't deserve any capital gains as well. They are both public goods in private hands - and no good ever comes of that.

When I was in college(engineering), there was a student-faculty-Industry interaction meet. The topic was A curriculum better suited to the industry.
One of the students asked a panel of Industry (computer science and electronics) veterans and faculty why the Industry doesn't contribute significantly to the course curriculum so that when students go out they are job ready. While the faculty gave the usual diplomatic answer about coordination committees and more university-corporate interaction, the reply by one of the industry folks surprised me. His reply was succinct. (This is as far as I recall, words may differ)

The purpose of any education including higher education is not to make you job ready, it's to teach you to think independently and correctly. If Industry were to significantly influence what you study, you will lose your independence. I don't want people who work with us to always think like the way we do, because we can be wrong

cargill - So you're in favor of taking away those $trillions in the retirement accounts of millions of union and govt workers without compensation? Rather cold, don't you think? You do know who the bulk of American corporations belongs to, don't you? FYI: there is no Mr. Exxon sitting on a big pile of money laughing at the "little people".

And "ain't your momma"" isn't meant to be humorous. It's the cold hard truth about how the sytem works. You can go on for 10,000 words how it shouldn't be that way. And I may well agree with some of your points. But shaking you fist at the heavens and yelling "This ain't fair" isn't going to change the system. And thinking the system is designed differently isn't going to bring about change either. And that's the point of that barb: this is the situation. Sitting with one's head stuck in a pile of idealistic sand isn't going to change anything.

Exxon Mobil Corporation Common (XOM) Major Holders
Top Institutional Holders:
VANGUARD GROUP, INC. (THE) 199,636,019

Remarks by John C. Bogle
Founder and Former Chairman, The Vanguard Group
The Ownership of Corporate America — Rights and Responsibilities

"In essence, Berle and Means' thesis was based on the arrogation (to claim or seize) of the levers of power by managers that takes place when corporate ownership is diffused among legions of individual investors."

"Unlike the large but inchoate individual population of stockholders that Berle and Means described in 1932, a remarkably small group of institutional managers now dominate the ownership scene. The largest 300 managers hold $7.5 trillion of stocks, 56 percent of the U.S. stock market's total capitalization of $13.2 trillion. This ownership is highly concentrated: the largest 100 managers alone hold 52 percent of all shares, $6.8 trillion in U.S. equities. This relative handful of giant investors have the real —not merely the theoretical— power to exercise dominion over the corporations they own."

The investment is distributed, but the power is concentrated. Add that to "The losses are socialized. The profits are private."

In education, the profit motive adds to the alienation that permeates American society... not that I'm a Marxist or anything. I'm not formal or cultivated enough to be anything.

alienation and capitalism

Sitting with one's head stuck in a pile of sand means not being able to hear the tumbrils in the morning.

...and all these folks (engineers engineering PP slides and engineers engineering physics hardware and software widgets) are 100% dependent on USG funding, for an enterprise that has zero to do with addressing the numerous 'energy and our future' issues talked about on this board.

Maybe they should have taken dance instead...


Fred, this was one of the most unique and enjoyable things I have viewed in quite a while, thanks!

Maybe the Blue Man group folks can use their skills to help in this effort...I really enjoyed the Blue Man troupe that showcased at UNM's theater in Albuquerque last year...the emotive power of communications w/o words (at least from the lips of the performers) was astonishing and delightful.

I just found this snippet...perhaps relevant to the AGW discussions elsewhere on this DB:



That TED piece illustrates two of my favorite pop references..

'Art is the lie that enables us to see the truth' Picasso

'Luminous Beings are we, not this Crude Matter..' Yoda

Very good article uptop: The Future of American Colleges May Lie, Literally, in Students' Hands

Millions of young people are graduating from college every year, frequently with heavy debt loads, with degrees that very poorly prepare them for a post-Peak Oil economy.

In my opinion, we need reinvigorated vocational and agricultural training in US high schools and community colleges. I have frequently noted the fact that in Swiss high schools 70% of students are on the vocational track, and all of the vocational students graduate with job skills. This might be a situation where even people who may not agree about Peak Oil may agree that we need to fundamentally restructure the education system.

Millions of young people are graduating from college every year, frequently with heavy debt loads, with degrees that very poorly prepare them for [any existing or prospective] economy.

I made a minor adjustment to your mostly correct thought. I couldn't figure what you were supposed to do with most of the college catalog.

The European two-track system does get brought up fairly often as an alternate educational method, but it isn't fool proof either. It misses late bloomers. I'd have probably been sorted into the machinist's trade. I didn't start getting good grades until high school. Even then I wasn't considered college track. I didn't start college until after 8 years in the navy.

The last time I was in graduate school I had a chance to talk to several European students about the pluses and minuses of US universities versus European ones. All of them mentioned the opportunities for "non-traditional" students in the US. They did say that Europe was getting better about it, though.

The trouble with the European two-track system is that it doesn't give people an opportunity to change course if they discover they are underachieving and destined for better things in life. I know more than a few people who did poorly in high school, but then after a few wasted years at menial jobs went to university, did extremely well, and moved on to professional careers.

One fellow I know had a career as a machinist before he went to medical school and became a doctor. He's unusual for a doctor in that he prefers to do his own house renovations, and he's particularly good at surgery that involves power tools.

I think it's quite possible that that's a luxury that will go away with the fossil fuel fiesta. Traditionally, college was only for the nobility. The commoners were pulled out of school early if they went at all, to help on the farm or work in the family business. Even if school was free or didn't cost much, families couldn't afford to have members who were eating and not working for so long. Did that mean people who could have done better didn't? Heck, yeah. I'm sure thousands of potential Newtons or Einsteins or Shakespeares never even learned to read.

This is why I have my doubts about our ability to innovate our way out of peak oil. Between "the end of science" and the dropping ROI of education, we can't count on the kind of big advances that drove the first half of the 20th century.

This is why I have my doubts about our ability to innovate our way out of peak oil.

Humanity COULD take the digitized collective knowledge along with networking and actually effective educational software and be able to move forward.

But to do such, institutions that have arisen like 'traditional education' would have to participate and such participation could result in their destruction.

The very old ways had guilds deciding to take only the gifted - your chances to get off the farm was slim. Having 'all the important knowledge' on a $100 device that can be used for self-teaching would be an improvement over the old low excess energy system where the knowledge was rather expensive.

This is why I have my doubts about our ability to innovate our way out of peak oil.

Even if we were able to innovate our way out of peak oil we will never be able to innovate our way out of deep overshoot.


Ron P.

My sister had dropped out of University after two years, and spent 10 years as a nurse. Then she decided she didn't like being ordered around by doctors. She finished her undergrad degree as the valedictorian, went to medical schools and became a doctor at the age of forty. A lot of students could use a couple of years in the trenches to help concentrate the mind.

PV – I understand where you’re coming from. I couldn’t recite the alphabet all the way thru when I was a freshman in HS. The result of an “adequate” Catholic education in New Orleans. And I proved it by being a solid D student all thru HS. Fortunately after the aliens abducted me when I was 18 yo they messed with by brain. Of course, I don’t remember the experience since they erased my memory. But I figured out that must have been what caused my change in attitude and produced a different career track then what I was born to. By 1970 there were a few of us geologists at the university who had gone thru the transformation. We found life back in the world a snap after our off planet alien experiences. I suspect you understand that.

And yes, fortunately no memory of the anal probing either. LOL.

I agree that we need reinvigorated vocational and agricultural training, but I believe it needs to begin in 6th grade, not high school.

Long ago and far away in my Middle School years, we spent half the year in physical education and half the year in Manual classes (shop or "home economics"). Between 6th and 8th grade I had training and completed projects in drafting, woodworking, metal working, small engine repair, letterpress printing (yes, we loaded evil lead slugs and used toxic ink), and metal casting.

This kind of stuff was killed by the insurance industry, which IMHO is the #1 evil force behind the dumbing down of America.

Now there are *no* manual classes in my kid's school district at any level, unless you travel about 10 miles to the district's "vocational" program. The academic competition among the top 150 students of so in each class is so fierce that no one dare take a "manual" class for fear of their GPA/class rank dropping below whatever threshold they think they need to maintain. There are no "honors" classes in the vocational program. The music and PE programs have suffered also, because if a kid takes a music or PE class, even if they get an "A", it drops them out of contention for the coveted class rank spots, because there is no "honors" weighting for those.

The school system is honestly quite jacked up here, and I suspect most other places, too. All emphasis is on traditional academic subjects, and everything else is left behind.

I'm an elementary school teacher in Ontario. All of my 30 years have been in Special Education with behavioural kids. This career actually started in 1975 at a reformatory in Quebec, so I've been around long enough to see what vocational programs did for kids (esp. the non-academic, hands-on kids) and what has been lost over the decades.

The Quebec reformatory was big on vocational skills (it began as a "Boys' Farm" in 1909, where they boys learned animal husbandry as well). I still have a beautifully machined screwdriver made by one of the kids.

As a teacher, it was very clear how much the kids enjoyed Shop and Home Economics (they spent half the year in each). The boys learned to cook & sew and the girls did wood, lapidary, plastic laminates, etc the same as the boys. Each district had one school with proper facilities and specialist teachers. For most of the behavioural and non-academic kids (and many of the more academic kids as well), the Shop/HE class was the highlight of their week.

Suddenly, around 1985, these programs were terminated, the specialist teachers were assigned to regular classrooms, and the Shop/HE/Tech programs were almost entirely cut.
Even in our high schools, the shop programs seem to be whittled down from a few decades ago.

This is most unfortunate: kids don't all have the same interests, nor the same learning styles... we need a much broader ranger of options for them.
If certain kids could do nothing but trades, they would probably:
1. stay in school and off the streets, and
2. behave much better while they are in class.

These kids would eventually recognize the importance of literacy & math skills which are needed to learn & implement their shop skills, and they might then approach those core subjects with a new interest & respect.

I can recall in my Junior high school (mid sixties), that an hour a day of shop/home-econ was a required part of the curriculum. I think I would have liked it, but the shop teachers never trusted me with power tools, and made me sand things by hand. But, in any case, not even the brainiest college-prep types could avoid shop.

I graduated high school in 1994. I'm pretty sure that there was still a 1 credit-year (out of low 20's total) requirement for 'manual/practical arts' in AZ (that'd be an hour per day for 1 year out of 4). The PhysEd requirement was the same. Unfortunately, most of the interesting classes were geared to the lowest common denominator and fairly useless.

I think most of the college-prep track took a computer course, or typing (I still can't touchtype) or something similar. I took one semester of drafting (most of the kids in the class couldn't name the fractions on a ruler and had no interest in learning), and one semester of animal science (to qualify to do the after school FFA Ag Mechanics program (I took 2nd at state for AZ high school students at age 12), most of the kids in there were using it as an alternative life science credit after flunking biology). The animal science class was useful for the social interaction with folks nearing adulthood (almost everyone in that class had a job, which was very different than most of my classes) who weren't idiots but weren't academically inclined. I also took a semester of intro to computing (elective options were very limited in 9th grade due to the 7-9 campus setup, I spent most of that class shooting the bull with the ex-Navy instructor after finishing the day's exercises) and a semester of Pascal II (as a favor to some buddies who needed a couple more bodies so the class would be funded, I spent most of that class playing pinochle after finishing the week's exercises on Monday).

The Pascal instructor also needed a student aide for his ESL math class the following semester...and I happened to have a hole in my schedule where the Pascal class had been, after loading up on year-long AP courses in the other periods, so I got to spend a semester interacting in a class of mixed non-English speakers (80% Spanish with a bit of Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Mandarin, and Vietnamese mixed in) with math skills ranging from counting to trigonometry.

Home economics should be compulsory for ALL children. Trouble is that, if they learn to buy and cook food, they won't buy Twinkies and TV dinners but then maybe the population would be less obese which would then be a problem because it would cut down on all those medications that are needed... grump... grump...

I guess my old school metalwork classes are what are helping me with my current cutting and welding project :)


Home economics should be compulsory for ALL children. Trouble is that, if they learn to buy and cook food, they won't buy Twinkies and TV dinners

As I remember Home Ec - it was a can of this, a bottle of that, with a box of whatever.

Smacked of http://www.foodnetwork.com/semi-homemade-cooking-with-sandra-lee/index.html instead of taking raw ag products and making it.

Sigh! They can even corrupt that! Lesson 1, fry an egg, first find where your chicken has its nest...


Does Time Magazine Think Americans Are Stupid?

Time’s conviction that Americans only want to read feel-good puff pieces appears to be far stronger than any desire on the publisher’s part to sell itself as an important U.S. news source.

Maybe they find that feel good puff sells better and makes them more profit. If you want to start a hard core real news magazine go ahead and do so.

"If you want to start a hard core real news magazine go ahead and do so."

It doesn't matter to me.

I think it says a lot about our society. What we find "palatable."

What we prefer to buy. What we prefer to ignore and/or deny.

Scientific American used to present challenging articles. They, however, followed the trend to simplicity.
Photonics Spectra used to have real, cutting-edge articles on systems of light... Chirped Pulse Amplification and such. Now, it's a simplistic product guide.
These are aspects of the loss of the scientific and industrial base. Time and Newsweek are aspects of corporate capture of the media. Getting even marginally real information on anything takes specific effort. Most of the population does not know even to make that effort. They know what they are told. They pay for it. It is sold as entertainment.

Scientific American used to present challenging articles.

One can tell the seriousness of a publication by the advertisers it attracts.
Scientific American attracts Automobile Ads.
Nature attracts genomic sequencing laboratory equipment ads.

Scientific American attracts Automobile Ads.

It wasn't always so; both in terms of ads and the quality of the articles. SA was a big part of my introduction to science, having the latest copy in front of me with a good technical dictionary and various reference books scattered all around me.

I also fondly remember lusting over the Curta Calculator (lots more info here) and the telescopes from Meade & Celestron.

I wonder if things like the Curta and slide rules will make a comeback, down the road a ways.

My Hemmi, just like the above link, is in perfect shape and I still know how to use it. (Well, maybe I'm a little rusty :-) )



I still have my MB-4 'Flight computer' or 'Whiz Wheel' packed away in my stuff somewhere...


I interfaced with a few of these in the past:


Slide rules are useful, robust, and cool!

From "A Confused Nuclear Cleanup" (New York Times) above:

...Even more disturbing to critics of the decontamination program is the fact that the government awarded the first contracts to three giant construction companies — corporations that have no more expertise in radiation cleanup than anyone else does, but that profited hugely from Japan’s previous embrace of nuclear power.

It was these same three companies that helped build 45 of Japan’s 54 nuclear plants — including the reactor buildings and other plants at Fukushima Daiichi that could not withstand the tsunami that caused a catastrophic failure — according to data from Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, a watchdog group.

One of them, the Taisei Corporation, leads the consortium... and the other two big companies — Obayashi and Kajima — among them received contracts,,, totaling about $93 million.

“It’s a scam,” said Kiyoshi Sakurai, a critic of the nuclear industry and a former researcher at a forerunner to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which is overseeing this phase of decontamination. “Decontamination is becoming big business.”...

“The Japanese nuclear industry is run so that the more you fail, the more money you receive,” Mr. Sakurai said.

Why are we not surprised?

That article really got to me. The clean-up is just another game.

The article now seems to be behind a pay wall. Time run out? Is that how they archive?

Here's another, similar game:

The NY Times gives you 20 free articles a month, then you have to pay.

It's pretty easy to get around the paywall, though. Just delete your NY Times cookies. Or use a different browser, and get another 20 free articles.

The private browsing feature of firefox is pretty handy, it doesn't save the cookies after you close the browser or exit private browsing.

The clean-up is just another game.

The pro-fission advocates know this and won't actually answer hard direct questions. Go ahead - the next time a pro-nuker puts up something start asking hard questions.

The "clean-up" was a feel good scam from the beginning designed to distract people from the fact that those farms, towns and villages won't be inhabitable for decades. In Japan there are still many people who have a strong connection to the family land, and this connection often dates back generations, so it is extremely sensitive. Also, those in the Tokyo area - nearly 25% of the population - were in the line for some nasties as well if the wind hadn't been favorable. By pretending that it's possible to clean up on that scale, they can deflect people from the realities of nuclear power.

The construction biz in Japan is also probably one of the worst make-work ideas ever, as they've basically raped the natural environment of the country in a scandalous fashion. I was over there, and what struck me was that despite being a bunch of islands, finding a natural beach was very difficult. They've concreted up most of the shoreline, which really disgusted me as I'm from Florida where beaches are protected. I just wanted to ask, "why would you do that?"

The clean-up from radioactive contamination is time. And, as far as I am aware, there is no way to take an area and increase the rate of time change in that area.

I could imagine making an area relatively inhabitable, with restrictions on activities. You could clean up the area immediately around residences, so that those living there keep their exposure below some acceptable health limit. But you would probably ban farming, eating wild animals etc. Maybe you have to limit time spent in non treated areas. Also if the radiactive species migrate, you could "encourage" them to do so (say they tend to sink deeper into the soil, and that means less surface exposure (if you don't eat the plants). So I suspect you could make some sort of life possible, quicker than waiting for so many half lifes to go by. And if that bad been your "home" you might consider the tradeoffs worthwhile.

They spoke of the radioactive contamination, the dust, blowing off of and out of the surrounding Forrest and recontaminating the town. So, the forest, a giant dusty sky-mop itself, would have to be cleaned before cleaning up the town has any meaning.

Sustainability at CERAWeek ?

This from the conference agenda :-

"Topics and discussion points related to sustainability will be a key component throughout the conference program, including:

•The future of renewable technologies in an era of economic austerity
•Powering the cities of the future
•Regulatory policy in a world of change
•Sustainability and the greenhouse gas footprint of fossil fuels
•Climate policy after Durban and the future for carbon regulation
•The science of hydraulic fracturing
•New frontiers in energy efficiency

“Striking the balance between meeting the world’s energy needs and addressing environmental concerns is one of the key challenges facing a world where energy demand is expected to grow by as much as 40 percent by 2030,” Yergin said. “How to find the right mix of innovation, technological advance and efficiency needed to solve this unique energy puzzle will be one of the key areas of discussion at CERAWeek 2012.” "

One can only wonder...

"One can only wonder..."

Or one can run as fast as possible in the opposite direction and pray the industrial parasite dies before it consumes one.

You can't prepare a future if people believe there is none.

You earn a college degree, you get an education when you pay back the loans.

Tokyo Electric Power is 200 yen per share. Less than 3 dollars per share, about what ConEd was at when Three Mile Island exhausted a heavy radioactive cloud of hot air. One woman standing on her porch felt the waft of the heat and her hair turned gray two weeks later.

Consolidated Edison survived and now has a decent price at 59 on the NYSE. They didn't dry up and blow away. From 2 7/8 back to 59 is a nice come back.

9501:jp looks like a buy.

Indulgences are granted. Real work is ignored.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” ― Galileo Galilei

Another one of his thought crimes, the goofy heretic.


After the TMI incident, the structure of the reactor building was not damaged and the pressure vessel was not breached. It still took 8 years to dig down to the bottom of the 20 tons (40,000 pounds) of destroyed fuel rods. At Chernobyl, there wasn't a containment vessel, the core melted thru the bottom into the basement and radioactive material was spread over a vast area. A few years later, the Soviet Union collapsed, perhaps due in part to the official response to Chernobyl. At Fukushima Daiichi, there are 4 destroyed reactors, including the support structures like the overhead cranes, and it's been claimed that it might take as long as 40 years to clean up the mess. You places your bets and you takes your chances. TEPCO is a prime candidate for bankruptcy and nationalization, IMHO...

E. Swanson

After the TMI incident, the structure of the reactor building was not damaged and the pressure vessel was not breached.

Three Myths of the Three Mile Island Accident (PDF)

And the video that accompanies the slides.

The Three Mile Island Accident Part 1 of 5 (Video)

I recommend watching all 5 parts of the video.

Thanks, I watched some of those videos the last time they were posted. I should have been more precise, as I was thinking of the amount of structural damage to the pressure vessel and the building. In other words, after TMI, it was still possible to make use of the various machines within the building, such as the overhead crane, as well as the basic plumbing and electrical systems. At Fukushima, much of that must be removed and rebuilt before the cores can be opened and the remains of the fuel removed safely. Thus, comparing the necessary cleanup effort after each failure is meaningless. Clearly, Fukushima is a vastly larger problem...

E. Swanson

Yes, undoubtedly Fukushima is far, far worse.

Talking of which Reactor 2 has just "uncoldshutdown" itself. As usual TEPCO has no idea what is going on.

Temperature at no. 2 reactor rises to 80 degrees

Tokyo Electric Power Company says the reading of one of the thermometers in the number 2 reactor at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant surpassed 80 degrees Celsius shortly after 2 PM on Sunday.

TEPCO plans to further investigate the cause, as the thermometer may be malfunctioning.

The reading of one of the thermometers at the bottom of the reactor began rising in late January.

It fell temporarily after more water was injected into the reactor, but started to rise again on Saturday.

The utility increased the amount of cooling water by one ton per hour to 14.6 tons, but the reading continued to rise and reached 82 degrees around 2:20 PM.

The government and TEPCO declared in December that all the reactors were in a state of cold shutdown, with temperatures below 100 degrees.

They set new guidelines to keep reactor temperatures at a maximum of 80 degrees, given the thermometers' margin of error of up to 20 degrees.

This is the first time the temperature reading has exceeded 80 degrees Celsius since the declaration was made.

Futaba-machi Mayor on March 12, 2011 Explosion of Reactor 1: "Insulation Materials Falling Like Large Snowflakes. I Knew We Were Finished"

We weren't told of the "vent" [of Reactor 1] that the government decided to do. The vent was carried out while the residents were still in town. I wonder if they [the government] think of us as Japanese citizens. This is like pre-Meiji Restoration [when there was no notion of citizens of a nation].

On March 12, as the residents were fleeing, I was in front of Futaba Kosei Hospital guiding the hospital patients and elderly people from the nearby senior citizens' home to a bus [for evacuation] when the first hydrogen explosion took place. There was a dull "thud".

"Oh no, it finally happened," the mayor thought. After a few minutes, small debris that looked like glass fiber insulation materials came falling down from the sky like large snowflakes. "Big ones were this big", the mayor puts his thumb and index finger together to form a circle.

Futaba Kosei Hospital is only 2 kilometers away from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. About 300 people, including municipal workers, doctors and nurses, watched the flakes of insulation materials fall like snow, stunned. The mayor thought, "We're finished."

The mayor looks back and says, "That was a very, very strange sight. It was like a movie". Not knowing what to do, he just dusted off his clothes with his hand.

The sight of some filament falling from the sky, shining, was also seen by people in Iitate-mura, and Namie-machi.

About "We're finished" remark and the mayor's health:

I [Ugaya] asked the mayor who was doused with "dust from Fukushima I Nuke Plant", "Did you think it was dangerous?" He answered, "Even today, I think "We're finished"." "What do you mean?" I asked. He said "Nosebleed hasn't stopped."

"Nosebleed hasn't stopped. If I blow my nose it bleeds. Sometimes the blood drips. I don't know what's going on, whether the nose is too dry."

"I've lost almost all body hair from chest down, all the way down to the legs. I noticed it when an old man sitting next to me in "sento" (public bath) said to me, "Hey your skin's smooth like a woman." Pubic hair remains. It's uncomfortable without body hair, because my underwear clings to the skin."

Industrialites planning their next reactor would call the mayor "Collateral Damage" and estimate the dollar cost to shareholders in advance.

Edit: and then they would print a "news" magazine filled with articles about energy unicorns and flying pigs, for the reading pleasure of the shareholders.

The Shareholder's need for entertainment is Non-Negotiable.

TEPCO apparently saying reactor number 2 now at 82C. Also, reports of 90C spike are out there...

TEPCO admitted at latest press conference that they have seen the reading spike above 90C briefly. They also said it is possible that other thermometers may be giving completely incorrect readings (another two are showing no increase) and that they have no idea what the true temperature is. But they still call it cold shutdown even though it has breached their own bizarre redefinition of cold shutdown.

Or as NHK put it: "TEPCO says the state of cold shutdown has been maintained, but the condition inside the reactor remains unknown."

Conditions at reactor two haven't gone exactly as planned.

591 above ground nuclear tests in the last 65 years have caused malignant neoplasms fatal to humans. Radioactive clouds being absorbed by the atmosphere 9 times a year on average can't be good. Clean up is impossible. It is stealth manslaughter.

A class action lawsuit bankrupts the United States, China, The United Kingdom, Russia, and France. 40,000 nukes are a clear and present danger.

Nuclear is black on the energy matrix, -5. It is a problem in need of a solution in a bad way.


As an options play for day traders, TEPCO holds water, I suppose.

As for bankruptcies, Singer filed bankruptcy and still manufactures sewing machines. The bagholders can eat cake. Walmart found out their business didn't have legs in Germany and pulled up stakes. IOW, went bankrupt there.

US cancer and death rates continue to flirt with all time lows


This link is about decreasing death rate. It does not say that cancer rates are down, treatment of cancer (and other major killers like heart disease) is more successful than in the past, but at a huge cost. So we can credit major medical intervention for the lower death rate. I can't help but wonder how much more healthy we would be if the causes of the major 'diseases of civilization' were addressed, mostly by relatively simple changes in life-style and by more strict regulation of industrial pollution.

Seems like we do everything backwards.

The link most certainly did mention cancer. Detailed cancer data can be fount at SEER. http://seer.cancer.gov/statistics/

"Deaths fell in 10 of the 15 leading causes of death. Heart disease dropped 3.7 percent, cancer fell 1.1 percent, and stroke declined 4.2 percent."

This is the only place I see cancer mentioned, and it seems to clearly be referring to mortality, not observed incidence.

I looked up a sampling from the SEER site. Some cancers are increasing in incidence, some decreasing and some not much change. I'm not going to go to the trouble of examining the data more deeply. My only point was that your statement "US cancer and death rates continue to flirt with all time lows" was misleading as it is the mortality rates declining and not the incidence rates.


The exhibition will also highlight how the sustainable energy solutions offered by Ashden Award winners can lift people out of poverty and into the modern world.

"The Future of American Colleges May Lie, Literally, in Students' Hands"

The future of American Education is the future of The Left, according to Ricky anyway.

Flu outbreak hits more than 2.11 million nationwide


The flu epidemic sweeping across Japan has now affected people in all 47 prefectures, but the epidemic may not have peaked yet, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases said Saturday.

The institute said that as of Feb 5, the number of flu patients in Japan topped 2.11 million, an increase of 380,000 over the previous week.

The number of patients visiting hospitals and clinics for flu treatment has now exceeded that during the peak week of the swine flu outbreak in 2009, when 1.89 million patients sought medical help, NHK reported.

Flu rates remain at seasonally normal levels everywhere else in the world apart from Japan. If this is is a mutated virus partially escaping immune system and vaccine then we are all worldwide in line for a huge flu epidemic. If it is still the same H3N2 circulating in the rest of the world then why is it targetting just the Japanese? The World Health Organization is saying nothing about the situation in Japan.

It's about time the WHO said something. This happening right now.

Breaking: Health scare at Auckland Airport

A major health response is under way after an Air New Zealand plane landed at Auckland Airport with children with flu-like symptoms on-board.

A group of 60 passengers arrived into Auckland off NZ90 from Narita, Tokyo, at 9.20am this morning with the symptoms.

Air New Zealand is following public health procedures and has advised the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

The Boeing 777-200 has 274 passengers on-board, and no-one has been allowed to exit the aircraft.

Ambulance communications said a quarantine area has been set up on the aircraft.

Two crews are on the plane and are wearing personal protective gear

Edit: New Zealand government says

Air NZ flight health scare 'just flu'

Health Minister Tony Ryall said it was unlikely the passengers had contracted anything worse than normal seasonal flu.

"We've been briefed on the situation, and advised that it is Japan's flu season, and there are no reports of new strains of flu there. We're keeping a watching brief but have been told there's nothing to suggest it's anything other than seasonal flu."

So the official story remains that there is no "new strain" but for some reason the unchanged virus has just decided to cause Japan's largest flu outbreak in decades including infecting many people vaccinated against it. Not to mention seemingly infecting at least one quarter of the passengers on one plane. I wonder how many more will develop symptoms over the next few days.

Pay no attention to the men in space suits boarding the plane.

Flu-like symptoms on Air NZ Tokyo flight

"This is not just precautionary, there is major concern," an ambulance spokeswoman told NZ Newswire.

All passengers now said to be allowed to leave. Of a group of 90 Japanese students 73 said to be showing symptoms. Not clear yet if they have also been allowed to go.

Pay no attention to the men in space suits boarding the plane.

Indeed, maybe it's not worth the bother:

A health scare which saw a group of Japanese students isolated at Auckland Airport this morning was an "overreaction", their homestay organisation claims...

Air New Zealand said all passengers had been released from the Boeing 777-200 at 12:38pm...

Yawn. To be blunt, this is looking more and more like self-important government "safety" jackasses overreacting absurdly in the bog-standard manner of self-important government "safety" jackasses. IOW a "medical" riff on, say, theatrical Homeland "Security" cupcake charades. Yawn again.

You cannot under-react to an unknown disease situation on a plane. Especially now that it is known that highly lethal bird flu modified to pass easily from human to human has been created and is not genetically very far from currently circulating strains.

Based on the recent developments many leading flu researchers now think that it is a matter of "when" and not "if" a lethal H5N1 spreads.

Of the 584 reported cases of H5N1 infecting humans 345 of them died. And that's with intensive hospital care. If the modified airborne version of the virus spreads with these sort of kill rates... well you can complete the sentence yourself. 6 human H5N1 cases have been reported so far in 2012 and 5 of them are already dead as of last WHO update.

why is it targetting just the Japanese?

Local exposure? Compromised health due to Fukushima? Cultural - the central heating habits of the nation? Perhaps a genetic factor?

If there is a new H3N2 in play - nothing any TOD reader can do about the existence of the new H3N2. TOD readers can brush up on what one should do in their own personal life WRT viral exposure. Perhaps start looking at what foods are reported to help with viral infections and if one thinks vitamin D is actually helpful.

70 now reported to be showing symptoms at Auckland airport - many said to be young/teenage but not confirmed. All passengers still being held in quarantine at airport but most have been taken off plane. Apparently the 70 showing symptoms still being held on plane. Hospitals in the area going into emergency standby mode and fleets of ambulances at airport. I hope they are just being very cautious.

Vitamin D Crucial to Activating Immune Defenses

ScienceDaily (Mar. 7, 2010) — Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system -- T cells -- will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body.

There was an interesting case history back during the H1N1 epidemic. A institution, I think that cared for mentally disabled patients, monitored their patients' Vitamin D levels, and supplemented in most cases. The medical and support staff was not monitored, and therefore was probably representative of the population as a whole, i.e., probably 90%+ deficient in Vitamin D levels. In any case, the H1N1 virus was introduced, via an incoming patient, and the H1N1 virus spread like crazy among the medical and support staff, but the transmission rate among the patients was practically zero.

Well, if it started spreading in rural Japan the they would show the first spike. Given the recent stress to the population, tsunami and relocation I mean NOT radiation, they are likely to be more susceptible.


Only a fraction of a percent of Japan's population was affected by the tsunami/relocation. And the flu epidemic doesn't appear to have any geographical relationship with the tsunami.

Japanese flu levels were seasonally normally until just a few weeks when they exploded.

While that is true I suspect that the whole population has suffered stress, which is known for reducing immune response. Relocations are probably more widespread too, take Pi for example. Also the whole country has been affected by reduced power availability which may also come into the mix, maybe less heating in winter. I don't think it is the whole story but it is likely to have tilted things and made the population more vulnerable.


Interesting if true. Japan's hygiene practices generally makes them more resistant to epidemics, not less. They escaped the SARS outbreak, supposedly because of their routine hygiene. Children are taught early to wash their hands and faces as soon as they get home, and no one wears shoes in the house - they are removed at the entryway.

Earth Summit is doomed to fail, say leading ecologists

We can forget about fixing the planet's ecosystems and climate until we have fixed government systems, a panel of leading international environmental scientists declared in London on Friday. The solution, they said, may not lie with governments at all.

"We are disillusioned. The current political system is broken," said Bob Watson, the UK government's chief environmental science advisor, who chaired the meeting.

The world has wasted the intervening years, the group said. Ecosystems are disappearing ever faster, the world is still warming, and two 1992 treaties, on climate change and species loss, have failed to achieve their aims. Governments, the group said, were largely to blame.

"Essentially nothing has changed in 20 years. We are not remotely on a course to be sustainable," Watson said.

"What's most discouraging is a loss of feeling that government would help us," said Harold Mooney, a veteran biologist from Stanford University


cognitive dissonance= discovering that what you believed about how your "civilization" operates was wrong from the get go.

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It

LINDSTROM, Minn. — Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

And this anecdote summarizes one of the main reasons why Ron Paul has Zero chance of being elected as the Republican Presidential nominee.

That, and because he doesn't spout the over-the-top bomb-throwing fire and brimstone stuff on 'social values issues', and he dares to promise to scale back tax and borrowing-funded spending on the military industrial complex.

Be it from mainstream Republicans or Democrats, the steered course of the U.S. will oscillate +/- 10 degrees around the 'BAU heading'...with the selected course changing grudgingly over time due to Limits-To-Growth forces.

Ron Paul has Zero chance of being elected as the Republican Presidential nominee.

I hope he's able to keep in the race long enough to have an actual national conversation on the money system and the spending priorities like the Department Of Defence.

The latest 'rumour' - a brokered convention that puts Jeb Bush as the gent to be put head to head vs Obama. That is how badly some people don't want Paul (or Mitt/Newt/Rick) as the choice.

Please not another Bush president. You would think that Americans have had enough of the Bushes by now.

I think there are a lot of people who look back on Dubya as the good old days.

I'm not expecting a brokered convention, though. Republicans do things by the book.

one of the main reasons why Ron Paul has Zero chance of being elected as the Republican Presidential nominee.

I wonder if the eventual successful candidate might pick Ron Paul for his VP running mate?

He won't be a threat to the president, and clearly appeals to a section of R voters that M and N do not, and he doesn't have any real power to do anything that the president doesn't want done.

I think selecting Ron Paul as VP would create an appreciably higher probability of presidential assassination.

Somehow I think the pro versus anti big military thing would be a huge issue. Also foreign policy, bomb Iran and declare a new crusade, versus isolationist. I think R.P. and the other R's may be further apart than the R's from the D's.

I think you are right, but that's not the point. Isn;t the running mates job just to garner votes from the party supporters that didn't like the nominated candidate?

if elected, the VP doesn't actually get to do anything much, so his policies are irrelevant, really....

What amazes me most about the R's is that they have the most polarised nation in recent history, and they best they could come up with for potential presidents is M and N?

They should have had someone sorted out two years ago, who could have been a clear and effective counterpoint to Obama, who gave the speech in reply to the SoU, etc.

Instead they seem like a disorganised group desperately trying to choose someone, anyone to take on the job. All their candidates are flawed in one way or another.

Obviously they will eventually settle on someone, but still, four years to get ready, and this is the best they can do?

Don't forget 'R' for Rick Santorum.

Like someone else said on the DB, and like has been siad by various pundits, maybe a white knight will ride into the convention to save the day...what rabbit will they pull out of the hat?

Mitch Daniels?

Bobby Jindal?

Chris Christi?

Paul Ryan?

Jeb Bush?

Mood of the Rs seems to be 'ABM'...anyone but Mitt...

Santorum seems to be interested for a VP slot with Mitt...

Newt Skywalker won't be anyone's #2...

Ron Paul isn't going to compromise his principals to be any of these folks' #2, and none of them would have him....

Mitt is still the favorite, and the pundits' choice for VP is Marco Rubio.

NorthEast-South alignment, ... a white Mormon matched Pres with a Latino, more traditional Christian VP candidate, with purported more solid conservative cred (not with the stink of 'Massachusetts Moderate'....

Gee, all that just makes the R's seem even less organised...

I have to confess I am a real fan of the Westminster system, as used by UK, Australia, Canada and NZ. The opposition leader is the one who will become PM if they win the election. So prior to the election, often for years prior, they are leading their party, matching wits with the incumbent, and basically putting themselves forward as an alternative leader. By the time an election comes, they are fairly well know to the people.

The US system seems like its designed almost to prevent that. None of these candidates have had to match wits with Obama, or show they can lead their party. For such an important job it seems a haphazard way to choose someone, and at the last minute too..

These people aren't stupid.

I wonder if the purpose of this internationally embarrassing festival of clowns is to sweep the stage clean for the arrival of the forced choice, the Fascist's Darling?

More likely they did their analysis, are actually expecting a recovery this year, and the reasonable candidates decided to keep their hands clean for 2016.

Western Canada oil sands opportunity knocks in East

Oak Point Energy Ltd is an Alberta start-up looking to make its mark in the booming oil sands sector, and Ontario figures big in its plans.

Oak Point, founded by two Alberta energy veterans, has developed an innovative modular system to produce bitumen from the oil sands, an off-the-shelf product offering some protection against cost inflation that's creeping back into new projects.

Tapping Eastern Canada's manufacturing sector to build the gear for the West's booming energy industry is one way to beat back cost pressures while allowing other parts of Canada to cash in on the opportunity, said Ken James, privately held Oak Point's co-president and chief executive.

The two regions of the country have long been bitter economic rivals, and have also moved in different directions. In the West, energy lifted the Albertan economy, while the high Canadian dollar, global recession and downturn in the auto industry hit Ontario, Eastern Canada's manufacturing heartland.

"Our thinking is we want to use the existing infrastructure, existing stable workforce of Eastern Canada," said James, whose company is also developing oil sands leases and planning for an eventual initial public offering.

Alberta's skilled labor pool is becoming stretched as high oil prices fuel a spate of new oil sands developments. Producers, aware that surging costs in the last decade pushed a few projects off the table, are seeking new ideas on making projects as efficient as possible to avoid painful overruns and delays.

The design of Oak Point's scalable units - 4 meter by 21 meter (14-foot by 70-foot) modules that integrate steam injection for producing bitumen and the facilities to process it - allows the company to build them anywhere and ship them back to Alberta, James said.

Fabrication shops he has visited in southern Ontario are operating at 50 percent to 60 percent of capacity, and offer fixed-price bids, while Alberta shops struggle to keep up with their workloads.


A study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute, conducted in 2009 as the recession dragged on, estimated that the oil and gas industry would invest C$1.07 trillion over 25 years.

The lion's share will come in Alberta, whose tar sands are the world's third-largest crude deposit. But the study pegged demand for oil sands technology, products and services from Ontario suppliers at C$55 billion over that time frame, and other provinces like British Columbia will share the bounty.

This is becoming routine for oil sands producers - manufacturing the equipment as far away from the oil sands as possible to avoid the higher costs of an overheated local economy.

The idea of shipping it through the US, though, has become extremely unpopular since the problems with shipping equipment for the Kearl oil sands project through Idaho and Montana, not to mention the Keystone pipeline delays. After the legal problems caused by the US environmentalists, I think Canadian oil sands companies are going to source as much equipment in Eastern Canada as possible, and avoid the US to the best of their ability.

China trade mission alters economic future: expert

Canada is not turning its back on the United States in favour of trade with China, but rather being prudent by diversifying its economy, a trade expert says.

"One thing that is absolutely certain is that at least for my lifetime and that of my son, the United States will be the number one economy for Canada," Peter Harder told CTV's Question Period Sunday.

"But the other new reality is that China will be number two," the president of the Canada-China Business Council said. "The question is, ‘How big will number two be?'."

Nearly $3 billion in agreements were inked this week between Canadian companies and China, including Bombardier, Telus Corp. and Bell Canada. Trade between the two countries hit $50 billion in 2011.

China has also invested about $16 billion in Canada's energy sector in the last two years.

But a key deal reached on the mission was the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement that protects investors in both countries. It's been on the table for nearly two decades, and now only requires a legal review and ratification.

"What this week represents, I think, is the harvesting of that investment as we seek to diversify and China seeks to secure its supply of resources and other technologies as it expands its domestic economy," Harder said.

From above link - Prime Minister Lucas Papademos:

"Vandalism, violence and destruction have no place in a democratic country and won't be tolerated,"

That may well be, but I question whether Greece is a democracy, when the previous Prime Minister got his neck (or other body parts) stepped on when he proposed a referendum on the bailout. He was then unceremoniously ousted and replaced, by an unelected ECB technocrat.

Introducing Greece’s new PM Lucas Papademos

The fix is in. Greece, the cradle of democracy indeed!

Mystery epidemic in certain Central American countries ramping up since ~ 2000?


A mysterious epidemic is devastating the Pacific coast of Central America, killing more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua since 2000 and striking thousands of others with chronic kidney disease at rates unseen virtually anywhere else. Scientists say they have received reports of the phenomenon as far north as southern Mexico and as far south as Panama.

Most of the victims are manual laborers who have worked significant amounts of time on sugar cane plantations.

The article states that instead of pesticides or other toxins somehow related to that line of work, the culprit may be chronic dehydration.

I would ask: So why has this phenomenon risen since ~ the year 2000 and not been noticeable before?

Have not sugar cane operations been prevalent in Central America before the year 2000?

Is there some reason that workers have drunk less water during their toils on the plantations since 2000?


GM sugar cane???

Interesting questions.

One of the reasons they think it's chronic dehydration is that workers in the mountains, with similar work habits and exposure to pesticides, aren't having the same problems. It appears working in coastal areas is a factor.

Perhaps there was less farming in the hot coastal areas in the past? These men have done this work from as young as age 10, so changes in farming patterns as long as 30 or 40 years ago might be the cause.

Increasing economic desperation might also be factor. Even when provided with food and water, they are choosing to work long hours with no break, I would assume because they are paid by piece or by the pound. When told they are getting sick and shouldn't work, they use fake IDs to get back to the work that is killing them. There are no other jobs available.

your ideas seem plausible.

It could be a difference in observation level rather than a difference in morbidity rate. It could be dehydration PLUS pesticides (where the pesticides are the new factor, but severe chronic dehydration is confined to the lowlands). It could be that increased relative poverty has led to more intensive stresses (including overwork/dehydration) of nica farmworkers than was previously the case. It could be that absent protracted civil war, more men are living into their 50's and dying of 'natural' causes.