Drumbeat: November 3, 2012

Sandy Bottles Up the East Coast Gasoline Market

With the terminals unable to accept more product, or load it onto trucks to deliver to area gas stations, the pipelines that connect to them have had to shut down. The Colonial Pipeline is the primary gasoline artery to the Northeast, carrying some 2.4 billion barrels a day of gasoline, diesel, and other fuels to the Northeast from the Gulf Coast. With nowhere to deposit that fuel, a huge chunk of the Colonial has been closed. Though Colonial’s operations have slowly begun to resume, the resulting pipeline closure has caused a huge back-up in the system that is rippling all the way down to the Gulf Coast.

“Supplies on the Gulf Coast are starting to back up and look for other outlets,” says Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, a consulting firm in Houston. Lipow estimates that at least half a dozen ships filled with oil or other refined products are floating outside New York Harbor, unable to deliver their cargo. With further refined products building up on the Gulf Coast, and fewer ships there to move them, the rates that ship owners are charging has nearly doubled in the last few days, according to Charles Martin of MJLF & Associates, a Connecticut-based ship broker.

“The ship owners definitely have the upper hand right now,” says Martin. “I’ve never seen anything this extreme.” Most of the product—particularly diesel fuel—that would get piped up to the Northeast is now being sent to Europe, Martin said.

New York fuel "panic" grows even as ports open, reserves tapped

(Reuters) - A third day of gasoline "panic buying" among storm-stricken New York area motorists prompted authorities on Friday to tap strategic oil reserves and waive shipping regulations even as limited deliveries resumed in the battered region.

Gasoline Tankers Wait Outside New York Harbor After Sandy

Tankers able to deliver almost 215,000 metric tons of gasoline are waiting outside New York Harbor to unload their cargoes after the worst Atlantic Coast storm in history shut terminals and halted refineries.

Six vessels within a 100-mile radius of the port of New York have been waiting since at least Oct. 28, according to IHS Inc. vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg News today. The tankers, also able to carry cargoes including diesel, are probably being delayed because of the storm and would normally load or unload within two days, according to Truls Dahl, a shipbroker at Astrup Fearnley A/S in Oslo.

Christie Rations Gas Purchases to Cool New Jersey Tempers

Governor Chris Christie ordered rationing of gasoline sales in 12 New Jersey counties to ease the misery of motorists waiting in miles-long lines for gasoline after Hurricane Sandy devastated the region.

The last numeral of a passenger vehicle’s license plate shows when it can get gas, according to a statement yesterday from Christie’s office. Those with plates ending in odd numbers can be fueled on odd-numbered days, starting at noon today.

U.S. Waives Jones Act to Help Responding to Storm Sandy

The Obama administration said it waived the requirement that only U.S. flagged ships carry fuel between U.S. ports, an effort aimed at easing shortages in the Northeast caused by superstorm Sandy.

The waiver applies to refined products that are headed from domestic ports to the Northeast, Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told reporters today.

Government tries to get fuel to storm-hit Northeast

(Reuters) - The government on Friday sought to ease the fuel crunch paralyzing the storm-struck Northeast saying the military would buy motor fuel and truck it there and allow foreign tankers from the Gulf of Mexico to deliver oil products.

Nomads in Queens Endure Life on the Line as They Forage for Gas

Josiah Rosa is a 21st-century nomad, following Twitter updates and text messages in search of one thing: gas.

Word of mouth brought the Long Island man to a line at Channi Singh’s Gulf station on Union Turnpike and Utopia Parkway in the New York City borough of Queens. After two hours of waiting he got the bad news. The well was dry.

“People decided to fill up two, three, four tanks at a time,” Rosa said, holding a garbage bag with gas cans. “We have no light. I have a generator. We have kids in the house. We’re traveling all over Queens, Brooklyn.”

Oil Falls on Speculation Supplies Will Rise After Sandy

Oil fell to the lowest level in almost four months on speculation that the shutdown of refineries on the U.S. East Coast because of Hurricane Sandy will add to already ample supplies.

Futures dropped for a third week as Phillips 66 and Hess Corp.’s New Jersey refineries remain shut four days after the storm struck. Oil inventories exceeded 370 million barrels last week, the most for this time of year in at least 30 years. Prices extended losses as U.S. stocks erased gains and the dollar strengthened against the euro.

Powerless in New Jersey post-Sandy

For warm food, she has relied on the charcoal-fueled barbecue grill outside.

"As food was defrosting, I was taking it out and cooking it. Pot pies, toaster cakes -- anything we could do," she says.

Meanwhile, she uses her car battery to charge her cell phone.

"Sometimes at night, I'm out there charging the phone and have a flashlight and am reading a book," she says.

She's able to keep up with the news via radio --"the only connection to the outside world," she says -- with batteries that were a gift from neighbors.

Power returns to lower Manhattan, but many waiting

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The lower Manhattan skyline lit up early Saturday morning for the first time since superstorm Sandy slammed into the U.S. Northeast while thousands of storm victims in New Jersey and elsewhere remained in the dark and awaiting disaster relief.

The power restoration came as gasoline supplies headed to coastal zones devastated by the record storm surge and to motorists whose patience has been tested by gasoline rationing during the painstaking effort to rebuild.

Waiting for power? It could be a matter of poles

(Reuters) - When some Westchester County, New York, residents called utility Consolidated Edison on Friday to find out why it was taking so long to restore power, they were told that it wasn't for lack of manpower or equipment.

It was poles ... utility poles.

Despite the caravans of power trucks in neighborhoods across the New York City area, a shortage of the specially-treated wooden poles used to string overhead power transmission lines and hold up transformers may be slowing the recovery.

Full service on trains may still be a month away for North Jersey

The region lurched haltingly toward normalcy Friday, with officials saying that gas lines could soon diminish. But wide swaths of North Jersey were likely to remain without power for another week, and it could be a month or more before train service to New York City is fully restored.

NJ Transit’s executive director, James Weinstein, said it will take four to five weeks to get the state’s entire rail system up and running — and even then service might not be back to 100 percent.

Gazprom gas sales setback

MOSCOW: Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom reported sales declines in Europe and its home market, showing the importance of its strategy to expand into Asia.

Chesapeake Energy may delay asset sales after posting $2 billion loss

Chesapeake Energy Corp., which wrote down $2 billion in natural gas reserves Thursday, said Friday that some asset sales may be delayed as it seeks new buyers.

Shares of the Oklahoma City-based energy producer plunged nearly 8 percent, finishing the week at $18.49.

Canada Extends Review of Cnooc Takeover Bid for Nexen

Canada has extended its review of Beijing-based Cnooc Ltd.’s $15.1 billion takeover of Nexen Inc. for a second time, re-setting the deadline to Dec. 10.

'Shell Not About to Leave Nigeria' ...Donates to Flood Victims

Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr. Mutiu Sumonu has said that contrary to information making the rounds that they are folding their operations in the Niger Delta and Nigeria, their business was still thriving and would continue.

Greens' big test in art of politics

''You should look at the supply curve which relates to peak oil,'' Coe advised the Deputy Assistant Speaker.

''That supply curve could also be likened to the vote curve of the Greens. We have peak Greens and they are cruising on downwards.

''I think next year, come October, we might see something which looks very similar to this notion of peak oil being reflected in the ACT Legislative Assembly election.''

Pennsylvania Report Left Out Data on Poisons in Water Near Gas Site

PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania officials reported incomplete test results that omitted data on some toxic metals that were found in drinking water taken from a private well near a natural gas drilling site, according to legal documents released this week.

The documents were part of a lawsuit claiming that natural gas extraction through a method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and storage of the resulting wastewater at a site in southwestern Pennsylvania has contaminated drinking water and sickened seven plaintiffs who live nearby.

A Hard Look at U.S. Reactor Hardware After Fukushima

Over the objections of the nuclear industry, the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is planning to recommend the adoption of a new rule requiring American reactors similar to the ones at Fukushima Daiichi to install emergency vents with filters on them.

Germany Discusses National Energy Plan

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks on developing a nationwide strategy on renewable energy with the governors of Germany’s 16 states on Friday, at a time when energy prices are rising and the opposition is critical of her government’s efforts.

Cambodia approves controversial dam plan

Energy-hungry Cambodia on Friday gave the green light to a multi-million dollar hydropower dam backed by companies from China and Vietnam that activists say will affect thousands of people.

Let it snow - U.S. farms need recharged soil moisture after drought

(Reuters) - Drought-struck areas of the U.S. Plains winter wheat belt need a deluge of rain and snow this winter to fully recharge parched farmland, an unlikely scenario that means wheat, corn and soybean crops could face a rough new season.

While the worst drought in roughly half a century is slowly loosening its grip on the United States, meteorologists and agronomists warn that the threat has not passed.

A Plan to Reduce the Size of the Dead Zone

Farmers apply nitrogen fertilizer which is highly soluble and leaches into the shallow water tables where it travels through tile systems into nearby waterways, eventually exiting through the Mississippi River and creating a huge hypoxic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Iowa and Illinois contribute 35 percent of these nitrates, but Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri also contribute. Not only does this affect the Gulf, it affects the region’s lakes and rivers.

Fossil-fuel makeover: 'Clean' and 'green' is as polluting as ever

Coal and oil companies are pouring millions of dollars to style themselves as clean and 'green.' But just because they say it doesn't make it true.

Lessons from Sandy: Building with Resilience in Mind

Is this the beginning of a tipping point? History shows that extreme events have the potential to focus people’s attention and energy in ways previously thought impossible. In the eighteenth century, the Lisbon Earthquake forced a dramatic rethinking across of Europe of the government’s role in hazard management. Portugal’s prime minister launched one of the first scientific inquiries into earthquake mechanics. The government imposed stricter zoning laws and Europe’s first seismic building codes.

Northeast governors whose states are receiving federal assistance after Hurricane Sandy have Herbert Hoover to thank. After the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, Hoover, then the Secretary of Commerce, helped establish the national role for disaster recovery in the United States. Less than a decade later, the federal government boosted hazard protection across the nation by taking charge of all flood control projects on all federal waterways.

Superstorm Sandy packed more total energy than Hurricane Katrina at landfall

There is a metric that quantifies the energy of a storm based on how far out tropical-storm force winds extend from the center, known as Integrated Kinetic Energy or IKE. In modern records, Sandy’s IKE ranks second among all hurricanes at landfall, higher than devastating storms like Hurricane Katrina, Andrew and Hugo, and second only to Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

FCC Proposal Could Lead to the Next Hurricane Sandy Coming With Little Warning

The Obama administration’s plan to share weather-satellite frequencies with commercial cellular carriers could severely degrade scientists’ ability to forecast hurricanes and monitor weather and flooding, experts told Nextgov.

The Federal Communications Commission proposed reallocating spectrum used by weather satellites in the 1675-1710 MHz band for commercial use in its 2010 National Broadband plan, a shift widely opposed by weather organizations worldwide.

Hurricane Sandy: A Glimpse at New York's Scary Future

A once-in-100-year hurricane would bring a 5.3-foot (1.61 meters) storm tide (a combination of the regular tide and the surge brought by the storm) to The Battery, while a 500-year hurricane would bring about a 10.2-foot (3.12 m) storm tide, estimates a team of researchers who looked into the future of hurricane-caused floods in the city.

By the end of the century, surge flooding at the 100-year level could occur at The Battery every three to 20 years, and a 500-year surge could happen every 25 to 240 years, the same team estimated in a study published in February in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Superstorm Sandy Merely a Taste of Things to Come

A few years ago, Washington, D.C., was subjected to a freakish winter -- a series of nightmarish snowstorms that crippled a city ill-equipped to handle them. The back-to-back blizzards prompted derisive howls from the flat-earthers in Congress who insist that human-caused climate change is a hoax. The grandchildren of Sen. James Inhofe -- Oklahoma Republican and flat-earther-in-chief -- built an igloo from mounds of D.C.'s snow and proclaimed it Al Gore's new home.

Is Inhofe still denying that human activity has altered the climate after the ravages of Superstorm Sandy? Probably. He has invested too much in his ignorance to change his mind.

But the storm's horrifyingly destructive powers just might have gotten the attention of more thoughtful Americans, those who are inclined to respect scientific data and to pay attention to clear indications of a "new normal" in the weather. Extreme weather events that were once believed to be once-in-a-century catastrophes are cropping up with peculiar frequency. That's no hoax.

Sandy, rising seas fuel future climate concerns

Haven't we been here before? A hurricane devastates a major coastal city, and a debate over climate change comes in like the tide.

Will the warnings about sea-level rise in the wake of Hurricane Sandy wash away like the concern seen after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005? Or has the tide finally risen too high to ignore?

Bloomberg’s misguided endorsement of Obama

It makes no sense to invest in costly wind and solar energy now that America has discovered 200 years of inexpensive natural gas, which have low carbon emissions. Back in 2008, when Obama was elected, America was a natural-gas importer, and increasing natural-gas imports were forecast for the foreseeable future. All that has now changed, and America will soon export natural gas.

Why you need a climate change portfolio

(Reuters) - Whether you believe in man-made global warming or not, it's undeniable that trillions of dollars will be spent on technologies to address the collateral damage of climate change.

Superstorm Sandy has just provided a tragic and devastating exclamation mark to the ongoing discussion of climate change and its link to extreme weather.

Revealed: the day Obama chose a strategy of silence on climate change

Sandy has blown climate change back on the agenda – and many believe the White House was wrong when it decided in 2009 that climate change was not a winning political message.

Hurricane Sandy blows climate change back onto the presidential campaign

Climate scientists caution against any direct connection between a hybrid storm like Sandy and Earth’s warming trend. But that possibility has brought climate change back into the conversation.

Our Latest High-Water Mark

The real danger here is not the surge itself, but the return to normal. We record a new high-water mark, but we call the crisis over because the waters have receded, our waterfronts are back, and we return to business convinced the worst is gone. In other words, we forget.

The Best Defense Against Extreme Weather: Live in a Rich Country

As cleanup and repair work begins in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the link between climate change and extreme weather events is back in the spotlight. Sandy makes a mockery of Washington’s inaction on climate change, but the different toll of the hurricane on New York and Haiti also highlights a central truth of disaster economics: The best strategy for resilience against violent acts of nature is to be rich.

Scientists tell coastal cities to armor up for next superstorm

If coastal scientists had their way, Eastern cities from Norfolk to New York would begin armoring up now against the next superstorm and tidal surges that will only get more devastating as ocean temperatures warm and sea levels rise.

West Coast at risk for hybrid storms, too

Scientific forecasts show that water levels in San Francisco Bay could rise 16 inches or more by 2050, inundating shoreline habitat and infrastructure.

"The Bay Area and California are very prone to flood damage," said Chris Field, director of the global ecology department at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University. "We do face a real risk of flooding during winter storms coupled with high sea level. If we get a big rainstorm combined with high sea level and high tide, we have a risk for a tremendous amount of damage."

Climate Change Poll Finds Most Americans Unwilling To Pay Higher Energy Costs

Most Americans, according to the survey, believe that climate change is occurring and that it causes serious problems, including more frequent and severe natural disasters. But only 21 percent said they would be willing to pay 50 percent more at the pump or for electricity bills to fight it. Fifty-four percent say they would be unwilling to do so. The rest were unsure.

Climate Change Poll Finds Most Americans Unwilling To Pay Higher Energy Costs pretty much says it all, and they will quickly eliminate any candidate for office that suggests otherwise. Our collective ability to respond to any of these looming predicaments is DOA.

Yeah, I think that's why both candidates for Fearless Leader have avoided the harsh realities of global Warming and Peak Oil during the campaign. All the panic over the lack of gasoline after Sandy just shows, yet again, how dependent our high tech civilization is on the continued flow of fossil fuels to power our daily lives. As we've discussed numerous times on TOD, the transition to another energy source would be difficult if there were enough motivation and resources to accomplish it, but, after Peak Oil, there's likely to be a mad scramble for what's left as many people try to hold on to their established lifestyles as long as possible...

E. Swanson

Yeah, people standing in long queues with jerry cans waiting for fuel drives home the point.

Well, I'm not so sure. After all:

If time=costs=energy,
and we follow their behavior, not their words,
then they ARE willing to pay higher costs.

How we ask the question, and measure their repsonse, seems crucial.

If not for over-zealous Attorneys General, Mayors, and Gov's immediately threatening power companies and gas companies, the solution for shortages is obvious: let the prices loose. There would be gas everywhere already if $100 per gallon were the going rate, and those who "needed" it most would get it fastest.

The gov'ts could still use the Nat'l Guard and such to bring in 'cheap fuel' for those who couldn't afford the convenience, who would trade a long line and rationing for lower prices. Time is money is energy to a significant degree, and it's associative and transitive.

I was musing on that just today: the total transaction cost. An enterprising soul could stand in line to fill a 5-gallon can and then walk that can back to the folks facing these unusual five hours of waiting and sell it. Selling it for $100 might net $15-$20/hour... not bad when there is little else... not a bad deal for many buyers, either.

The other thought was... There were only so many stations with now very few remaining that have both power and gas. Once power is restored, gas is still needed. But with plug-in electric cars, restoring power alone restores "refueling"... with outlets distributed everywhere: a tactical advantage in this specific case.

Here is another cruel irony of our Auto Addicted society. My neighbor is a bus driver and member of the Transit Workers Union. He told me the reason they are not running more buses to replace suspended train service is that they are running out of fuel and carefully husbanding it. Meanwhile we have lines of
tens of cars gobbling up this same gas to continue Auto Addiction.

Truly fuelish!! lol

Someone with a high media profile and a pair of testicles should drive forward the point that it is profoundly un-civic, un-patriotic, and a dick move to participate in a gas panic.

That would be Mayor Bloomberg?

It would be (was) profoundly unpatriotic etc. to claim 'its because of global warming". So it is at least imaginable.

But don't you think it could be different if it wasn't "marketed" only on the climate aspect ?
That is, if the communication was as much if not more on resource constraints and trade balance, the need to increase efficiency, and the fact that the US went through its production peak in 1970, things could be a bit different ?

I also push National Security


Best Hopes for ANY argument that works,


Nice piece

If you have time, I would like a French perspective on my several (12 ?) articles about French Oil Free transportation in my blog.

Of course, the pictures concentrate on your superb aesthetics :-)

Best Hopes,


Think they are very nice and you probably know more about them than me ! :)
These days I don't travel that much around (used to much more), so don't really have "hands on" experience regarding most of them.
I live in Paris and move around with a scooter (so not oil free) or bike (should do much more but tends to grab the scooter's keys ..), and also the subway/rer, don't have a car for more than 12 years I think, rent one sometimes.
In Paris (and other cities as well), scooter and bike usage develops really a lot
But from some of your previous messages you maybe have a bit of an "idealized picture" of urban/suburban environment in France.
In the 60ies to 00ies period at least, there has also been a lot of sprawling with especially plenty of "zones commerciales" with big boxes stores (somehow the hypermarket concept started here in fact), and "lottisements"(single detached family houses developments) and so now we also have these huge "zone commerciales" around most cities, that look quite different from US ones but quite the same overall, and a lot of small proximity shops have closed.
But now it's moving the other way round more or less, with in fact the same "big boxes" brands opening small/medium shops within cities, or some others.

There is a big debate right now on which somehow current prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is betting his shirt, a project for a new airport "Notre Dame des Landes" near Nantes that meet a lot of opposition (and Ayrault was Nantes mayor previously so his project somehow as well), some "anti airport" militants have been taken out by the police in a rather strong way a few days ago.
Overall really stupid as there is already an airport (not even over stressed) and the TGV should be full speed up to Nantes in the coming years.
But this also leads to a lot of opportunities to bring peak oil on the table through petitions, press articles comments and such.


Thank you Yves (perhaps send me a personal eMail ?)

The Danes have been virtuous since at least 1973 (and perhaps forever).

I was aware that the French followed much the same road as the Americans until fairly recently. Which makes their example even more interesting and valuable.

Best Hopes for France (and Denmark, Sweden, etc. :-)


A scooter is several points away from a 4l 4x4 SUV for hauling your posterior about. Not perfect but don't knock it. The world would be in a much better position if others did the same.


A small addition to this point I otherwise agree with: (2-stroke) scooters are responsible for very large amounts of health-threatning airborne mirco particles which cause havoc deep inside lungs. It would be much better to use an electric scooter instead of a gasoline burning one, especially since, as opposed to cars, the electric range is nearly always enough for everyday use.

Yes true about 2 stroke (and much noiser as well), mine is 4 stroke (125 cc), and about electric, could not plug it currently (could carry up the battery maybe).

A Prius C (the small one) has comparable fuel economy to a scooter. Not quite as good, but fairly close.

Very few scooters get over 70 mpg from what I understand.


"Scooters" range in size from 49 cc to over 400 cc. Mileage ranges from well over 100 to the low 40 mpg range. The automatic transmissions hurt the larger ones quite a bit, considering my 750 cc cruiser-style motorcycle gets 52 mpg at my usual only slightly excessive pace.

The 49 cc class has the benefit of not needing a motorcycle license in this state, but a 100 cc version would be better suited to the local driving patterns as it should be able to sprint at 45 mph or so. The 49 cc class is not supposed to be able to exceed 30 mph on a level road. Which means a bicycle might be able beat it and not need any sort of license at all. Also, an electric bicycle does not need a license, and has no speed limit, but the rider is required to be at least 16 years old.

Licensing is out of step with technology. A three-wheel electric car (two in front, one in back, steering wheel, windshield, roll cage, and seatbelts) still counts as a "trike" and requires a license even harder to get than a motorcycle license, solely because it has less than four wheels.

My 500cc twin did about 65 MPG over the little driving I've done with it. A 500cc machine can keep up with traffic, indeed, this one is rather fast, having a 6 speed transmission. I would think a smaller twin, perhaps a 400cc, might do even better in most situations. Some of the mid-size "scooters" (such as the Suzuki Burgman), have 400cc single cylinder engines and CV transmissions, along with some rather aggressive fairings on the front. I haven't ridden one of those, so I can't comment on their MPG results in normal use.

The biggest problem for scooters and motorcycles is the fact that it's very difficult to minimize the air drag, which happens to be large due to the shape of a human body. Fully enclosed designs, similar to velomobile bikes, have been around for quite a while and can produce excellent MPG results. However, their real world acceptance would be limited, given the fact that there are going to be lots of bigger cars, SUV's and trucks for the foreseeable future...

E. Swanson

Honda Cub ??

I expect you are right. And you can't argue that it is not common.

It is "the most produced motor vehicle in history."


Maybe, but a scooter or Cub has a way better road economy whether you measure wear and tear or space occupied. Also, the Prius does tend to take up just a little more parking space ;)


"...That is, if the communication was as much if not more on resource constraints and trade balance..."

Those who control the communications media have the people just where they like them, it seems. Manufactured consent, manufactured 'needs', manufactured diversions,, all that. Marketing and promoting limits isn't conducive to a positive response; can't compete with near-term gratification and comfort, especially when the constraints being forwarded are essentially permanent.

"We need to dramatically reduce consumption, production, and procreation permanently" just ain't gonna fly.

Off to help a friend winterize her solar water heater. Keep it local; make the changes you can.

Yes but it still can be turned in some ways, in France for instance the "TV messages" slogan in the seventies to promote energy efficiency was "in France, we don't have any oil but we have ideas (with a lightbulb image)", for sure in the US, there is always the possibility of doubt regarding abundance (with NG, coal, etc), whereas as there is almost no fossile ressources in France, it makes things easier in a way ... (and in the seventies still a big part of electricity was generated from oil)

But I still think the "basic common sense" aspect of ressource constraints and trade balance would ring a bell towards many people (and not necessarily the same as the climate change oriented ones). Plus the fact that the "US peak in 1970" message never went through somehow.

But indeed clearly not easy, especially when any capability regarding the ability to manage the turn is highly doubtful...

But I still think the "basic common sense" aspect of ressource constraints and trade balance would ring a bell towards many people

I do not share your optimism.

Just two days ago a co-worker complained bitterly about being charged an extra hundred bucks due to the water he used to fill his swimming pool earlier this year. He said: "Where does the city think the water goes, to Mars?" He also lamented that the tiered water use rates were a tax by the non-rich people to punish people who worked hard for their money. So, in sum, this person who has engineering and science degrees and has been performing technical work for high pay for some four decades thinks that because water he used never leaves the water cycle, then there is no reason for tiered pricing...people should pay one rate and use whatever they can afford per their wishes...even in the middle of a desert.

Switch camera to the just-out-of-college young worker behind me, with a science degree...he chimes in: "Yea, and I hate it when people say someone is wasting energy! Mt Thermo prof always made the point of how stupid saying that is!". So I said "You are referring, of course, to the fact that energy can neither be created nor destroyed?" He enthusiastically nodded yes. I said "We are increasing entropy". He enthusiastically nodded yes.

I just let it go, man...first, I get paid to work, not BS, and second, I am not taken with the idea of trying to discuss these issues with people with such superficial views, buttressed by Ayn Rand dogmatism.

Again, these two are not atypical at all where I work...quite the majority report in fact...and everyone where I work has at least one college degree in STEM, and most have Masters and there are numerous PhDs....and they all work on technical issues, and are wealthy (upper 5% U.S.).

...and almost none of them think there are any issues, besides at the trivial level, regarding limits to growth. They ascribe all perceived resource constraints as effects from Big Government socialism, environmental wacko granola eaters, liberals, etc. Fusion or something will come along to take us to the singularity after our 100-200 years of FFs finally 'runs out'.

I don't think the level of understanding is better among the high-school graduate-only cohort.

Oh I'm not really an optimist, more the contrary ...

But I truly think the almost exclusive emphasis on CO2 and climate change regarding fossile fuels in the last 10 years or so, has been a tremendous mistake (and I'm not an AGW skeptic at all).

But the fact is that it also corresponds to taking the easy way :
The CO2 message can easily become "ok people, all this is great but we have to make it cleaner a bit", or "let's buy a few carbon credits when buying a plane ticket so that somebody plant some trees somewhere that will suck that CO2 out", plus knowing climatology is very complex.

On the other hand the "ressource constraints" message is very simple to understand "burnt oil is burnt oil and there is a finite amount of it" but in fact much harder to convey as you can't escape the "we are in a very serious mess aspect" more or less.

But for the US, showing something like below :

would still I think ring a bell for quite a few "down to earth" people, and not necessarily very highly educated.


The real shame of it is that, while this graph makes sense to you and me and most people reading TOD, I personally know many people who would read this chart and assess that the reason U.S. oil production plummeted was the creation of the EPA!

In addition, the observant amongst them will latch on to the increase in the production line which occurred recently and claim that is the start of an inevitable climb in production from here on out due to the 'new' fracing technologies, more American 'can-do' innovation, etc. The ambitious among them will claim this production trend will handily eclipse the early 1970s peak and provide us with abundant oil for decades and decades to come...if only all those locked-up Federal lands can be pried out of the environmentalists' hands and all those pesky regulations abolished !

How many noticed, even here on TOD, that imports dropped MUCH more than US oil production went up in the last few years ?

Reduced consumption has been the much stronger effect. A moral almost completely lost on most Americans.


Was surprised to hear how savvy Pickens was about such when I heard him speak a few weeks back. He was more pro-NG than pro-conservation, and more trucks than rails, but mostly he spoke lucidly about efficiency, reducing foreign military endeavors, and focusing on US assets.

While US energy independence is unlikely anytime soon, we could readily get to the point that we needed little from the Mideast and could existing on NA energy supplies. As long as we can bid with the rest of them the Canadians would likely be a willing partner in this.

Quote:"....the Canadians would likely be a willing partner in this." Not really. The US has Canada by the balls. Canadian crude sells about $20 b3low WTI and on top WTI sells about $24 below Brent. We don't like to subsidize the US wasteful society. This is why Canada looks to China and others to export crude oil.

Boone probably flew in his private jet to Manhattan Kansas today. If so, he is not a happy camper. Kansas State is leading Oklahoma State 31 to 17 at half-time. Boone moved his childhood home, the entire house, to be adjacent to his Panhandle ranch mansion. He may encourage others to conserve but that is not a personal priority. His wind investments were less than brilliant.

His wind investments did help promote a boom in wind farms, though his companion investments in gas played out better. He's 84, and opinionated, surprisingly quick, and quite willing for others to hold other perspectives. He is also quick to admit failures and to know his limits.

I'm not going to defend his lifestyle, but it's undeniable that he is a significant figure in the energy industry. I'd pick him over Obama or Romney to come up with a US-focused energy policy. Over Bush, Cheney, Clinton, and most other politicians I can think of as well.


I would be interested in people offering their preferred ideas for a U.S. energy policy.

At one end of the spectrum is the idea that ~ zero government regulation and tax policies would allow the unfettered market to come up with the optimum constructs; Also at this end of the spectrum is the lament that the entire human condition is a predicament and therefore it matters not what we do from here on out.

I suppose the other end of the rainbow might be some kind of authoritarian command economy situation...perhaps ranging from wimbi's benevolent babushka board of directors, to a military-run set-up, to a technocracy, to some kind of hard-core dictatorship, replete with secret police and so forth.

In-between these ideas surely lies many possibilities.

I have the notion that the U.S. can ride the FF train as far out as the early-to-mid 2030s, maybe a decade longer, with continual adjustments. I mainly base this guess on the enduring supplies of coal and NG, even if wee have to build one or more pipelines and train routes from Alaska to the lower-48.

The environmental effects will be non-trivial.

Be that as it may, I guess that by the 2040s we will be towards the end of the line for FFs...after that, it seems that unless we develop an acceptable nuclear power-based economy, we will be in uncharted territory, considering the unprecedented population levels we have and will have at that time.

It would be nice to think that we can use mainly wind and solar, but I wonder if that is possible....at the population levels we foresee.

I wish the U.S. population projection (and indeed the World's) would be similar in shape to the 'low' projection for Japan....achieved through low childbirth rates, not through increased death rates.


True, and he spent $70 million+ of his own money in an attempt to educate the world about the energy problem. Nevertheless I am not not impressed with his plan. Is it in our long term interest to dissipate natural gas trucking goods along I-70?
-- I am 2 years younger than Boone but know him well. I met him in 1945 playing basketball
--K State, the only college team I follow, is now leading 44-30.

Semis are an abomination which should transition to rail, IMHO. Shifting them to NG is a fairly pointless transition step. However, shifting buses and delivery fleets to NG while moving toward effective transit and alt energy would be a good step.

Key point is that most politicians really have no coherent policy at all, and a coordinated if imperfect plan would be better than meandering along. Most politicians who do state a policy are really echoing the perspectives of lobbyists, and Exxon and Koch don't really represent America's interests. At least Picken's mostly takes the perspective of independent producers and America overall, and he's old enough and rich enough not to care overly much what any lobbyist group wants.

I think a key point is Pickens isn't a politician, so he can throw the pursuit of public popularity to the wind. Just like when we used to let minor party candidates join in the debates, its always those who aren't afraid to take an unpopular position who can say something interesting and candid. He's just not trying to compete in the same game as the pollies.

Meet 12 of the most anti-environment supporters

Charles and David Koch - oil refineries
William Koch - coal
Harold Hamm - oil
Jim Talent - coal
Jack Gerard - president of the American Petroleum Institute
James Connaughton - fossil fuels
Jeffrey Holmstead - fossil fuels
David Wilkins - lobbyist for oil
Steven Webster - fossil fuels
Joseph W. Craft III - coal
Clayton Williams, Jr. - fossil fuels

That's the FF party. The other one is the banksters' party. Great choice we have.

So the party that wants banking regulation is the "bankster's party" and the party that wants to gut financial regulation is not the "bankster's party"?
Not sure I follow your "reasoning".


July 2010, President Obama signed into law this 848-page effort by Congress to prevent another breakdown in the financial system. The legislation required banks to increase their capital, enacted mortgage reform, gave greater oversight of Wall Street to various federal agencies, and set up a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, among other provisions. Complying with the law will cost the eight largest US banks $22 billion to $34 billion annually, according to a recent analysis by Standard & Poor’s.

The two presidential candidates differ on the degree of regulation needed to prevent a future banking system collapse.

As he signed the law, Mr. Obama said his goal was a set of reforms “to empower consumers and investors, to bring the shadowy deals that caused this crisis into the light of day, and to put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all."

Romney says “some of the concepts” in the legislation “have a place.” However, he says that, as president, he would work to repeal the law, replacing it with a mostly unspecified but “streamlined regulatory framework."

To Romney, this law is an example of an overbearing federal government. For example, a Romney aide says small community banks “have taken the brunt of the overregulation.” The aide, speaking on background, says small banks don’t have the capability to deal with the cost and complexity of the law. “They are spending more on figuring out the rules and regulations versus lending to people,” he says.

The Democans passed the bailout, back on Oct 3 2008, a day that will live in infamy. Most Republicrats voted against it. The much-later financial "reform" bills have been very weak. They will not placate me until they re-institute Glass-Steagle, prosecute those who should be prosecuted, and break up the too-big-to-fails. Fat chance. And BTW, I don't vote Republican. Post 2008, I can't vote for either. Good thing we (Vermont) have one independent senator who voted against the bailout.

The roll call on the bill authorizing TARP was 172 D, 91 R For, 63 D 108 R Against, signed into law by President George Bush. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll681.xml

So the bailout was quite bi-partisan, mostly because the prospect of complete collapse of the US financial system was terrifying enough that many representatives crossed party lines. Since the bailout was supported by both R and D party leadership, I do not understand how you can reasonably assign blame for it only to Dems.

I think if the bailout had failed the US and the global economy would likely have experienced an economic collapse that made the Great Depression look small, with a complete lock-up of financial flows. And the total cost of TARP to the US treasury has been pretty minor in context.


The TARP program originally authorized expenditures of $700 billion. The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act reduced the amount authorized to $475 billion. By March 28, 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated that total disbursements would be $431 billion and estimated the total cost, including grants for mortgage programs that have not yet been made, would be $32 billion.[1] This is significantly less than the taxpayers' cost of the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s but does not include the cost of other "bailout" programs (such as the Federal Reserve's Maiden Lane Transactions and the Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). The cost of the former crisis amounted to 3.2 percent of GDP during the Reagan/Bush era, while the GDP percentage of the latter crisis' cost is estimated at less than 1 percent.[2] While it was once feared the government would be holding companies like GM, AIG and Citigroup for several years, those companies are preparing to buy back the Treasury's stake and emerge from TARP within a year.[2] Of the $245 billion handed to U.S. and foreign banks, over $169 billion has been paid back, including $13.7 billion in dividends, interest and other income, along with $4 billion in warrant proceeds as of April 2010. AIG is considered "on track" to pay back $51 billion from divestitures of two units and another $32 billion in securities

Certainly the bailouts could have been more fairly administered with more consequences for wealthy wrong-doers and protection for average citizens. Here is an article making that argument, but any real-life crisis protection plan would need to make it through both houses of congress and both parties to become law, which guaranteed legislative sausage.

America's bank bailouts
They did not have to be so unfair
Oct 31st 2012, 12:38 by M.C.K. | WASHINGTON
THIS week’s print edition reviews two new insider accounts that describe the dark underside to America’s bank bailouts. The common theme of both Neil Barofsky’s Bailout and Sheila Bair’s Bull by the Horns is that the U.S. government cared a lot more about saving the incumbent banks and bankers than it did about helping regular Americans blindsided by the collapse of the housing market and the ensuing contraction. As a result, many Americans now believe that the rules are rigged against them for the benefit of a few politically-connected financial speculators: privatized gains and socialized losses. It is difficult to disagree.
On one side of the ledger, we see that the big banks are bigger than ever, more than 90% of the gains in GDP in the past four years have accrued to those in the top 1% of the income distribution, and total Wall Street pay is still near record highs despite a sharp drop in employment. On the other, we find that median net worth fell by 40% since 2007, real median income is still 8% lower than in 2007, there are still more than 7 million fewer full-time jobs than in 2007, and there have been at least 4 million foreclosures, many of which could have been prevented through investor-friendly government policies.

For me the bottom line is that by refusing to choose between greater and lesser evils, in practical terms you are enabling the greater evil. By refusing to discriminate between a shop-lifter and a murderer, the "a pox upon both their houses" response allows the murderer to continue.
And non-voters can glory in their purity by refusing to make the grubby compromises of choosing greater and lesser evils, but the many thousands who may die if Romney takes us to war in Iran might not consider that refusal to exercise available power so pure.

But who here isn't more and more troubled by either choice? I'll still vote, but since either candidate isn't 'enough', then I know my vote isn't enough from me, either.

We have to engage in other actions and join with others to force the issues that neither side has the stomach to raise before the people.

I think Citizens United is chief among them, since it comandeers the discussion and keeps other issues at bay, as long as corp. money has the primary sway with our represenatitve.. but there are many others that are increasingly dire, and seem to be getting equal treatment from the Major Parties..

It's not just about greater or lesser evils.. it's about the characteristics that they now almost entirely share.. how do we pry open the discussion to include what must be confronted and soon?

...break up the too-big-to-fails...

vtpeaknik, I wonder too why we haven't broken up the banks that are too big to fail.

This is my experience with technical-engineering people. They tend to be "libertarian" or republican. My roommate is an example - a great guy, working towards a PhD in physics, but pretty hard right. I have another friend who is a programmer, one of the smartest people I know, but a total republican (despite being gay!). I don't know why it works that way, but it does. Both are wired into right-wing news and are deniers of anthropogenic climate change. My roommate is a big fan of nuclear power.

Then again, maybe it's just coincidence. 2 people is not a trend. In any case, I don't get it. Perhaps it is a lack of understanding of biology and ecology?

technical-engineering people can change their perspective though I confess I am still sold on nuclear power!

Certainly most technical people I've worked with are conservative, but I have lived and worked in conservative states. Would be interesting to see what technical people in Silicon Valley look like demographically. Or Mensa members (but they don't keep political or racial statistics).

Personally I suspect both technical people and Mensa people would be conservative on average, though there are many non-technical smart people, and a whole lot of dumb conservatives. If you sort for technical people, you get introverts, and Mensa people are unusually introverted as well. Correlation of such people with conservative tendencies would not be surprising nor really all that significant, since there simply aren't all that many people in that selection set.

Engineers and scientists do tend to live conservative lives, but Republicans are just too anti-science for many. Here in Silicon valley I'd say the majority are Democrats. Most well educated people vote for Democrats and that includes engineers, that's why people like Santorum like to make fun of college and think it must be those liberal professors corrupting the students instead of the Republicans anti-knowledge attitudes driving them away.

I think there is little correlation between level of education and party affiliation. What does correlate is how strongly their views are held, the more education you have the more partisan you are (on average). Obviously on most campuses Republicans are few and far in between.

Actually voting Republican and education are highly negatively correlated, as google shows.


Progressive Policy doesn't come out and say that education turns people into Democrats–the chart doesn't show the effect of higher education over time on individuals, just the state by state differences. But for every one percentage point increase in college graduates in a state, the percentage of people who identify themselves as Democrats increases by 0.75 percent.
The folks at Progressive Policy do say this:
The more college graduates, the more Democratic (and especially more liberal) the state. The fewer college graduates, the more Republican and (and especially more conservative) the state.

I don't disagree, that regions with more less college degrees per capita are bluer/redder. I'm not convinced that applies to the individuals, the stuff I remember seeing, claimed college grads were no more/less likely to be in one party versus the other. I doubt the median voter in blue California has a college degree.

The place I once lived with the highest level of educational attainment in the country (perhaps in the world!), was Los Alamos, and it has always been solidly Republican. Weapons lab workers are highly conservative!

regions with more less college degrees per capita are bluer/redder. I'm not convinced that applies to the individuals

Isn't that sort of like westexas' sarcastically pointing out that wells decline, fields decline but the world will never decline? Or perhaps I misunderstand your meaning...?

I'm not sure my meaning. I'm not at all convinced that getting more education makes a persons politics bluer. It is true that most places with lots of jobs requiring higher ed, either attract or breed bluer politics, but is the politics caused by the education, or do these areas simply attract the liberals that are educated. I did note that clusters of high tech defense jobs are usually highly conservative.

I visited Los Alamos a lot for a while on business. You've never seen so many churches.


I Agree.

It's far too simplistic a conclusion.. in part because 'educated' and 'intelligence' are such wily words. Are you a brilliant, but highly tuned specialist, a self-taught generalist genius, a polymath, an intuitive, a historian, a social connector type.. do you use your wisdom to hold the fort or to explore new frontiers, to teach, to counsel, to inspire, to get rich, to conquer, to survive?

There are too many kinds of intelligence, and too many ways for it to be used 'for good or evil' to grade it with the fourfold stereotype that is attempted above.

I struggle with that myself, which is why I don't claim either party. I am a fiscal conservative, and mostly a social conservative (only not so judgmental as many), but foremost an engineer. Things just gotta make sense!

As an official silicon valley old timer(1) I can tell you that I've yet to meet a successful CEO or entrepreneur who expressed the classic conservative line.(2) There are no faith-based start-ups. Hope-based? far too many.

I've met plenty of politically conservative types here, but for the most part there is no room in the start-up world for business model that pivots on the prevailing tax rate. The silicon valley goal is to create so freeking much value that things like tax rates are simply noise. Since most start-ups are venture funded at some level, and for some time operate before the first profit is seen (if ever) the decision to hire additional employees has nothing to do with the top marginal tax rate - it's all about executing the business plan.

1. I was in the computer industry before the release of the IBM PC (which I designed cards for) or the Macintosh (of which I designed one) or cell phones (of which I designed 4).

2. I was at one company that brought in an outside CEO. When we first met he expressed great consternation about tax rates and regulations. He made out personally pretty well, but under his leadership the company went from the front page news new hotness to yesterday's news, and was eventually sold off.

In my experience the best CEOs are rarely good engineers, and the best engineers have never been CEO material. Some are good at both, but never yet great.

I'm sort of a Silicone Valley guy. I lived in the area for about 10 years, receiving a masters from Silicone U. in 1967, then going to work for LMSC. At the time, "high tech" was aerospace and I learned to program a computer using punch cards while working on satellites. The south end of the SF Bay was heavily MIC oriented with companies such as LMSC, HP IBM, Fairchild, etc, supplying the Vietnam era Cold War effort. Not to forget, there was the Navy base at Oakland, the large Travis AF Base toward Sacramento and the Lawrence Livermore lab where nukes were designed.

I always thought that most people living around the south end of the SF Bay and San Jose tended to be much more conservative than those on the north end. But, hey, what do I know about the current Silicone Valley? I haven't been back to that side of the country since 1980...

E. Swanson

It is possible to pass through a phase where you think you know everything and come to the realization that there is a great deal that you don't know.

It's not only possible, it's the normal progression in the process of learning. Studies have shown that the truly incompetent don't realize how badly they are failing. The first step to improvement is the realization of how wrong you are to begin with. Unfortunately many people get so alarmed and discouraged by this realization they give up, just when they are at the point of real improvement.

Maybe not so hard to understand. The techie people, especially the really bright ones, actually think they understand how the Universe works, and believe that they can control it. It's almost a substitute for religion, seems to me.

Your N of 2 is not different from my subjective N of quite a few more.
Maybe someone has actually published a paper along those lines?

In a lot of cases they are correct. If not for technical people who are convinced they can change things, we would have had no technical revolutions. The question now is whether they will continue to be correct at the larger scales of complexity across longer periods of time. We may well not be "smart enough" for the harder problems we create for ourselves. But there is always Kurzweil out there arguing the counter-point.

No technical revolutions? Is that a bad thing?

What have we gained?
What have we lost?

I'm almost 70, and still searching.
I hope I can live to 300, because it is going to be really interesting in the next few decades.

I'm not sure. I think a more reasoned, careful approach to technology would have been better. Seek first to understand, first do no evil, precautionary principle, 7th generation, and so forth.

But we're on the path we're on, so that's a sunk cost. Where to from here?

I'm almost 70, and still searching.

Well, for starters, you'd most likely have been dead long ago. Or even more likely, not born at all.

It is not a substitute for religion - it IS a religion.

No, not a bit.

Yes, a lot.

"The techie people, especially the really bright ones, actually think they understand how the Universe works, and believe that they can control it."

That's where I fit.

I am competent to run my own life, and you are not competent to run my life. You have no notion of my abilities or needs or wants, and you should shut up, go away, and leave me alone. If I screw up, you have implied permission to laugh at me as you watch the coverage on the news.

Similarly, I am not competent to run your life, as I have no notion of your abilities or needs or wants, but I reserve the right to laugh at you should you screw it up.

It's simple, straightforward, and completely beyond the capabilities of either end of the political spectrum. The theocrats demand that I do or not do what they say God wants me to do, and the Left demands that I do or not do what ever the government of the day says I should. And the government always seems to want to do more and more and more, and I'm supposed to pay for it.

A pox on both their houses.

This would make perfect sense to me, if it wasn't coming from someone called PVguy.

"I'm supposed to pay for it". No, we are. PV would have zero penetration without government subsidies.

How are you different from the Tea Party, who hate all government programs - except the ones that are paying them.

It is indeed difficult to compete with subsidized oil's advantage of having control over much of the government, unfettered coal's ability to strip away mountain-tops, gas development with that pesky clean water act cleared from their path, the entire fossil fuel industry's license to dump their burnt chemical/particulate/CO2 waste into the air, and underwritten nuclear further unburdened with any need to dispose of the waste before they simply go bankrupt and step out of the way.

I don't have any problem with subsidies to solar, particularly within the range that would create an equal playing field and account for externalized FF costs (although I would prefer that to be done through a carbon tax or cap and trade). I don't disagree too much with your assessment of the advantages of fossil fuels, although I suspect path dependency is a bigger subsidy to oil than their supposed control of the government.

However, current solar subsidies are far above this level, badly designed, and rather than creating a fair playing field are skewing the market. I have one friend in Ontario, Canada who is getting something like $0.60/kWh is Ontario, Canada, and another that got over 90% of capital costs covered by the government (as well as other support) in Oregon. These do wind up being pretty big costs that divert government funds from other uses.

I think a well designed program would link support to resource availability, which would concentrate PV in the sunny states where it makes the most sense from economic, energy and environment standpoints. In fact, I would cheer for subsidies that are entirely resource-based and transcend national boundaries. I would be much happier for my US tax dollars to support PV projects in poor equatorial regions, rather than rich Northern sites.

You could electrify a small village in Indonesia and hire another teacher in Oregon for the costs to the government of a handful of home solar projects.

However, in the greater scheme of things, I don't think the cost of solar subsidies is such a big deal. I would happily double solar subsidies if we could cut the military in half.

I do just think it is important to realize that solar continues to be significantly more expensive then alternatives and requires additional costs to feed into the grid. This is reality, not big oil propaganda.

Thats effectively a libertarian position. Of course significant sectors of our economy were created by the government, (education, aerospace, electronics, computers, PV, wind turbines, bridges, ...), etc. I claim that the most effective economies have used the mixed economy mode, a government sector, and a private sector, each of which respects the existence of the other. Countries that have tried one or the other extreme, don't do too well. And of course when we come upon resource limits, and tragedy of the common type things, libertarianism falls down completely. So at least in the economic arena a healthy government sector is important.

Lets not forget that the "mind your own business" stuff ignores that in a crowded world you don't do much that doesn't affect me.

"Your freedom ends at the tip of my nose"

Never expect anyone to understand anything which contradicts their own self-esteem.

"Your freedom ends at the tip of my nose"

Al Bartlett includes the following cartoon in his talk about Arithmetic, Population and Energy


"Excuse me, sir. I am prepared to make you a rather attractive offer for your square"
- New Yorker Cartoon by Robert Weber

adamx (and NevrLNG, and all):

I should have included additional information to head the understandable 'N=2' observation off at the pass:

Over a couple of decades, N = ~300+...people I worked with directly. I infer, that in the circles I work, N = >> 300... The percentage of people in the set of people numbering several hundred thousand may be ~ 70%.

Well, thanks for the clarification.

But even N= 100,000 isn't all that significant in a world of 6 billion, especially when you figure that most of those people aren't really randomly sampled, but are more or less in your cohort (or maybe mine) of relatively affluent, Western educated people.

It's fascinating to read what's going on in China and the rest of Asia -- completely different world view. They don't seem to fall into the typical European Right-wing/Left-wing paradigm.


I would be fascinated to hear/read the Asian or even the Chines peoples' views on the future of human sustainability, starting with energy availability.

Perhaps the majority of humans are so caught up in getting by that they don't put much thought into future sustainability issues...just make it one day at a time.

The folks I work with who lament that China will 'take over the World' get my consistent reply: I wouldn't trade places with the Chinese. Or the Indians. I find it hard to see how 1B+ people in each of these countries fare well down the road.

Yes, I think our "Western European" ideology is probably mostly foreign to Asians and Chinese -- not because of any racial stereotyping, but because of our different history.

After all, the "left wing/right wing" divide that has been exalted to absurd heights by U.S. politics started with the French Revolution at the Estates General. It just isn't an Asian concept that I can tell.

The Chinese that I know as businessmen, and what I read about them (which hardly makes me very knowledgeable about Chinese culture!) suggest that they are a lot more practical than ideological.

Still, they do seem to worry about the environment from time to time, and they behave as though they understand that petroleum and natural gas are going to be harder to find going forward.

As an MIT alum still living in Boston, I can give a few observations. Back in my day, lots of MIT students leaned to the right because 1. it was the height of the dotcom era, when it made sense to demand the government hold off from regulating services that only began to exist the week before, 2. and in general there was a lot of entrepreneurship going on, and 3. techies do understand microeconomics and can bristle, for example, when democrats rail at "price gouging" (see NJ today). It was also the height of the "PC" era, when there really were students being disciplined and their lives ruined for brushing up against superannuated 60's tenured radicals.

But come to MIT today, and you'll notice that republican is a term of abuse. Thanks to so many years of Republican science denial and gay baiting (recall that the computer science field is still working to implement the ideas of Alan Turing, who was hounded to suicide for homosexuality.) Nothing is forever.

My two cents is that technical people support things which make logical sense because they put function over form, whether it appeals to popular opinion or not is a moot point, so they will support things like buses, trains, public transport and EV's for example. Things which I guess fall into the Democrats domain in your country. OTOH they will also support fiscal conservatism and cutting unnecessary govt expenditure, something which traditionally belonged to the republican party.

The problem is that conservatives are not real conservatives anymore, a conservative should as Taleb pointed out, support environmental and resource conservation measures because being reckless with the environment is not conservative at all.

The vast majority of U.S. conservatives I know (or knew)do not accept the premise that there are any limits to growth, and therefore do not accept any ideas that would limit our growth: Many of them bristle at any level of birth control, and most of them reject any 'unnecessary govt spending' on un-American public transit. Liberty and freedom mean no limits on one's consumption and also one's pollution, and very little taxes to pay for public goods, except the Military.

On top of all that there is the predilection to try to legislate people's morality, often with the underpinnings of 'Biblical authority'...if i wasn't for this continual social conservatism over-reach, we would be living in the U.S. of Rand today.

Every law in the books is a legislation of some group's morality. Many liberals cannot seem to tolerate the fact not everyone thinks they way they do, so they accuse us "conservatives" of trying to force our views on them. That's exactly how we feel about you! A healthy democratic system will always entail the risk of being exposed to competing ideologies. I'm not afraid of that; what worries me is that the average liberal deeply believes that only their ideas deserve a hearing. That's why Christians like me are in jail in many countries of the world. Luckily our Christianized forefathers enshrined freedom of religion into the fabric of our country. That also means freedom not to believe.

Oh, and I ride an electric scooter and think solar and wind energy are great ideas.

I honestly applaud your open mind and practice in supporting development of and using forms of energy other than Fossil Fuels.

I also in no way advocate the jailing or other persecution of people due to their religious beliefs.

so they accuse us "conservatives" of trying to force our views on them. That's exactly how we feel about you!

My concern is that I perceive the U.S. conservative religious-right as seeking to pass laws which would restrict personal liberties, while the liberal legislation I support seeks to increase peoples' liberties, and by the way, at the same time not forcing those who disagree to partake or even approve.

A few examples:

1) Gay marriage and partnership rights equal in civil law to those of hetero married couples: Allowing gay people to be married by civil authorities while simultaneously not forcing churches to perform, recognize, or even like such arrangements is 'equal protection under the law'...it seeks to expand people's liberties, and protects minorities from persecution by the majority, as per the intent of the U.S. Constitution.

Simply put, it lets gay people enjoy the civil legal imprimatur of marriage, and does not force people who do not approve of such arrangements of officiating, blessing, attending, etc, and also does not approve people from voicing their negative opinions of such arrangements. Gay marriage in no way restricts hetero marriage.

On the other hand, laws preventing gay civil marriage clearly restrict gay people's liberties at the whim of people who don't care for their sexual orientation.

2) The U.S. conservative-religious want for a 'person-hood; law or Constitutional amendment to declare that life begins at conception would restrict the rights of women to take certain forms of the birth control pill (the kind that prevents the egg from implanting in the uterine wall).

Again, if people do not wish to take the bill, or do not wish to undergo an abortion, that is their right. But other people cannot have their choice to do so restricted by government fiat to placate people who protest this choice.

3) Forced prayer in public schools. This old chestnut should be obviously flawed, but not to some! How in the World is forcing all children at school, on school time, to recite, or even listen to, prayers from the perceived majority religion be allowed under the establishment clause?

When I attended middle and high-school there was a 'minute of silence' after the pledge of allegiance to allow anyone in the crowd to think about whatever they wanted, including silent prayer to the deities of their choice, or not. That is inclusive and respectful of everyone's beliefs, where mandatory Christian school prayer is forced religious indoctrination by government authority. People are clearly allowed to conduct religious ceremonies as much as they want every week...except in publicly-funded ceremonies and gatherings.

4.) Much of the war on Marijuana is backed by religious people. Once again, let people make their own choices...their choice does not make you partake at all. We already had one religious-led prohibition (alcohol) and all that did was glamorize drinking and provide the opportunity for a huge growth in organized crime. If one's church wants to excommunicate people who ingest MJ, then that is your private church's right. Breaking into other peoples' homes is not the right of others to prosecute them for possessing and using a plant.

Now, if one if under the influence of any drug which causes someone to potentially or actually harm others, such as driving under the influence, the punishment and deterrent should be loss of driving privileges for life.

In sum, if the U.S. folks would stop trying to morally control other people and focus on actual governance, we might actually have a real conversion about things like 'energy and our future'.

If it were up to me, I'd legalize Marijuana and tax it, two birds and one stone something something...people who go into drugs again and again are anyways not fit for the gene pool.

Currently the US conservatives are trying to force their beliefs about abortion, contraception, gay marriage, pornography, etc., on the general public. As always conservatives are free to not have abortions, not use contraception, and not get gay married, avoid pornography, but clearly that sort of liberty is not what the modern US Republican party desires. You appear to be describing some non-existent ideal conservative, rather than the existing actual conservative movement.


We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, even as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage. ...
Making the Internet Family-Friendly (Top)
Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting. The Internet must be made safe for children. We call on service providers to exercise due care to ensure that the Internet cannot become a safe haven for predators while respecting First Amendment rights. We congratulate the social networking sites that bar known sex offenders from participation. We urge active prosecution against child pornography, which is closely linked to the horrors of human trafficking. Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced...
We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

If I believe that 2 cells (sperm and zygote) united immediately after conception is not equivalent to a fully formed human being, the Republican party is very happy to use the force of law to over-rule my (quite logical) belief, in the service of their un-scientific superstitions.

Tommyvee, great post and thanks for the link. I agree with you 100%. And I don't like to nitpick but a zygote is a fertilized egg. It is not a zygote until it has been fertilized. So, at this stage you have only one cell. Two cells, the sperm and the egg, combine to form one cell called a zygote.

From Wiki: A zygote is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction. In multicellular organisms, it is the earliest developmental stage of the embryo. In single-celled organisms, the zygote divides to produce offspring, usually through meiosis.

Ron P.

Thanks for the correction, not really a nitpick to fix a blatant error (my bad).
But it reinforces my point, that almost nobody would argue that one cell equals a human, unless religious dogma interferes with rational thought.

But the Personhood Amendment, which Romney has endorsed, makes exactly that claim with the force of constitutional law.

But a corporation is a "person" -- right?

I'm confused.
A zygote is a person.
A corporation is a person.
An out of work carpenter is not a person, but merely a shmuck. Should have gone into venture capital finance. Bad choice.

I liked the line about "I'll believe corporations are people when I see one executed".

Those conservatives also want me to breath, ingest and adapt to the consequences of their pollution for the sake of their profit. They want to be left alone, but they never leave others alone.

'Average liberals believe ONLY their ideas deserve a hearing?'

Just what Christian Conservative Ideas do you feel have not gotten a hearing?

Now, the fact that they are getting strongly opposed and rejected by people of other beliefs doesn't mean they have therefore NOT gotten aired, they have.. and the way you turned that statement into a causal link with the 'Imprisonment of Christians the world over' seems to me to have been a very 'liberal' logical leap, if you will, and I think you need to show some evidence for it.

Please back up the idea that Average Liberals around the world are imprisoning Conservative Christians for merely trying to air their views.

Christian persecution is a meme among the evangelicals. They are all under attack and threatened with imminent annihilation by the secular hordes. The response is to militarize.

There are specialty websites:


If you look at the rosters, they list chapters in the ongoing happy slaughter among the followers of the brothers of Abraham. Looking at the map of flames on opendoor, not one is in America. Only China offers resistance based on their own logic.

'If you've decided you're a nail, then every thing around you becomes a hammer' .. (even if you're actually a hammer yourself..)

Yeah, I don't think this is true of the whole religion at all, as I've said here many times.. but there is a strong part of the Evang. Culture that seems to unify by manning the battlements and perpetuating a siege mentality.

And Karl, I'm sorry if this feels like I'm targeting you personally for your remarks, but I think the views you shared are part of this issue indeed, and I'm afraid I tend to see it as a conceit that has perpetuated in some sects of Christian community for many decades now. Unfortunately, I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and a vicious circle.. I don't know how one breaks that circle, save that I know a lot of people like Darwinian who rejected a lot or all of it from their upbringing.

God save the babies in that bathwater from the extremes, where they may either get dumped or drowned! Take me to the River, wash me in the Water!

With Regards..

From the headlines this AM:

Some pastors are intentionally breaking the law to explicitly endorse candidates in church:


Easy response here, from the law: Remove the tax-exempt status of the lawbreaking church congregations. Invariant of which party the pastors advocate for. I never understood how church tax exempt status passes the sniff test of the Establishment Clause anyway. No on thrown to any lions in this response...Give God God's due and Caesar Caesar's due and all that.

The greatest recent demise of Christianity was directly caused by our invasion of Iraq (in search of WMD or oil).

Saddam had a Christian in his Cabinet (Foreign Minister from memory). Our invasion lead to 80% of the Christians fleeing Iraq, and the closure of the last Nestorian seminary.

Nestorian Christians were once wide spread (a stele in China, some cave paintings survive in Central Asia, some local kings converted). They broke from the Roman Church before the Orthodox did and moved east out of the Roman Empire.

Now apparently in their final death spiral due to the lies of that self-proclaimed Christian - George W. Bush.


I agree, the traditional conservative viewpoints now seem completely lost to the conservatives. The whole word has lost it's meaning. Present day it seems like conservatives are really libertarian (in the egocentric form) risk-takers.

I propose that the words conservative and liberal be scrapped, instead there should be two kinds of political ideologies. Romantic and Practical, political divisions will be much easier.

You also have:

Collectivist vs individualist.

also there is a distinction I believe which is lost on people outside American politics (I am an outsider too) where people treat the federal government as if it is a local government. IMO the Federal U.S. government was never meant to have so many responsibilities so it isn't a contradiction for instance to believe that the federal government should say cut back on Medicare or something similar if you also believe that the State governments will pick up that slack. When the spending of money is far removed from the people the money is taken from you can have a recipe for corruption.

There is an historical argrument against that line of thought. The birth of federal government involvement in so many of these issues is the enormous failure of local and state governments to step in and help people in need during the Great Depression. Probably this is a function of the fact that only the federal government has the power to spend money in times when there is no money.

It is really hard to say with any authority given the complexities involved. You can't spend money which doesn't exist, effectively printing money is just a nice way of taxing unspent surplus.

My argument is that if you have a government overburdened with complexity then it cannot perform the role it was assigned. Perhaps the issue is that the States didn't have the authority to act in places when they ought to have and not that the federal government has an overarching moral authority?

Granted I don't believe that people should suffer and I do believe that with the assurance of support people can act with greater freedom in a way where failure does not merit destitution. Perhaps the loss of confidence in this safety net is one of the reasons why the financial crisis is so pervasive? (amongst many others)

Lots of local jurisdictions often lead to various sorts of race to the bottom scenarios. For instance subsidizing sports teams, "city X just offered us, unless you beat the offer we will take out team there", so hundreds of millions get spent to keep the local ball club from leaving town. Or taxes, we will starve our poor people in order to offer businesses the lowest possible taxes, and we will lower our pollution standards as well, and we will cut the minimum wage to $5 an hour.... A lot of things work better with a national sytandard, rather than 50 state ones.

Read this great book, it will explain much about the hypocrisy of the self-proclaimed "conservatives" and their befuddled thinking:


All chomping at the bit to vote for Romney on Tuesday...

I'll read it. Are you sure that liberals are not also subject to the same failings? Big gov't "for your own good" is not a Republican monopoly.

Edit: Man, that was a hard read. Not exactly a scholarly tome, either. It has all the biases and fallacies of most religious arguments, with some interesting stats and perspectives thrown in. Straw men, false dichotomomies, Nazi associations, obtuse naming conventions -- all in there. Coming from a psychologist author, it makes one wonder what the real goal of the book really is, as the agenda is so obvious that it can't possibly be simply to denigrate the religious right.

Some good take-aways though:
- Most people are followers, of authority and peers
- Even those who aren't blind followers do not necessarily act strongly
- A few independent thinkers can have large impact
- It sucks to be on the wrong side of authoritarian rules
- Centralized power has a lot to be feared
- If you aren't completely a sheep, you'd do well to act like an authoritarian. Lots of people are likely to follow along, especially if you have a few plants in the peer group.
- Schools really are pretty good at inculcating a world-view (churches and family, too)

And he never called around tanker companies for competitive quotes?


"Those who control the communications media have the people just where they like them, it seems. Manufactured consent, manufactured 'needs', manufactured diversions,, all that. Marketing and promoting limits isn't conducive to a positive response; can't compete with near-term gratification and comfort, especially when the constraints being forwarded are essentially permanent." -Ghung

And don't forget controlled dissent groups (i.e. the Tea Party and similar) that rant, rave and 'protest' about imagined problems or misconstrued versions of real problems and the media shines a spot light on them giving them a veneer of authenticity and proclaiming how open and free our political process and society are. All part of the big dog and pony show....

""All part of the big dog and pony show..""

Bread and Circus go waaaayyyyyy back in the History of Humans. 95% of the Humans on this Planet are Sheep to the Shepherd. Always have been, always will be. It appears those in Sandy's wake, are finding their place in line.

The Weak are Meat and the Strong shall eat.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian


Those high energy costs are going to happen to current fossil fuels anyway.

So, as always "what the public wants" is a straw man.

The propaganda business will "do just fine" right down to the age of mass graves, where the propaganda meisters will be buried along with the rest of us.

Re: Unwilling to pay more.
There's an area near where I live with homes built around a hill with a park and amphitheater at the top. Views to Mexico, the Pacific Ocean and more.
Houses in the area are valued from $500,000 to $2,000,000 yet I can count the roof-top solar installations on one hand and San Diego electricity rates are among the highest in the nation.
My WAG is $1500-$2000 or more per month in charges.
Those who could save the most just pay the bill.

Climate Change Poll Finds Most Americans Unwilling To Pay Higher Energy Costs pretty much says it all, and they will quickly eliminate any candidate for office that suggests otherwise. Our collective ability to respond to any of these looming predicaments is DOA.

Certainly the current predicament is not amenable to an overt solution arrived at by democratic process. It's like an obese person leaving any decision on diet to his fat cells.

In the world of abundance we took over by expanding our niches, our major concern has been perceived "capuchin fairness" in distribution of property and treasure, and democracy kinda sorta works for that. However, it was never a process well-suited for sorting between complicated courses of action. Having a majority of people vote to significantly inconvenience themselves is a similar class of probability problem to all the oxygen molecules in your room spontaneously moving to the ceiling. It's not impossible, but it ain't gonna happen. Or going to Las Vegas with a dollar and owning all the casinos within a week. Aggregate probability is a pretty stern filter of real outcomes.

Yet activists continue to beat that dead horse, as though any outcome not arrived at by pure egalitarian process is not an answer. This insistence on process over substance is what opens the door to special interests, because the system must somehow sort courses of action. Most legislators are honestly clueless, deluged in information, rather than primarily corrupt. They go with lobbyists because there's no other clear way to sort the information. So we pay a high price for a false veneer of fair process.

Why does the military have an entirely different structure? Because serious predicaments needing solutions aren't solved rationally by democratic process. Actual decisions need to be made on a timely basis by the smartest people available, and if subordinates disagree it doesn't go well for them. Not that the military is an ideal model, but the fighting of wars is not amenable to democratic solution. Did allied soldiers actually want to storm the beaches on D-day, or would they rather have been at home?

Unfortunately, we have a dysfunctional distribution "democracy" where monkeys try to out-scream one another, and an infrastructure for war, and that's it.

It would be nice if there was some way for educated minds with long time horizons to steer things. Since this is not a situation which is currently possible to arrive at through overt process, what is left are non-overt ways. This is a shame, but we really need to get over it and work with the predicament as it exists. Universal selfless enlightenment is not going to happen in this species.

That doesn't mean nothing can be done. It just means that it won't happen through democratic process.

Thank you for lucidly sharing your wisdom with us.

You remind me of the quote, here mangled, from someone I don't remember: "Democracy will persist until the people realize they can simply vote themselves more money/benefit".

Here in California, anyone (with millions of dollars) can put a proposition on the ballot. So the monied special interests write some rules, advertise the crap out of it with classic scare tactics, lies, etc., and convince a majority of voters to vote for their own demise. Most of the time it works as planned. See prop 32.

I would like to add: Even if one thinks they are immune to the nasty effects of the mainstream media, they're not. The MSM figured you out a long time ago. (You're the rebel, or the anti-consumer, and are marketed to with different products and politicians)

Anyone who wants to accomplish anything would do well to start by disconnecting from the MSM (main-stream media). This solidly includes NPR. That, and learn to feel good about yourself.

I was raised to hate the military. Now I am hopeful they can help, at least some of us here in the USA, when TSHTF. Other countries? Not so much.

All, IMHO.

We are in a wartime situation, that’s certain. Dire threats are rushing toward us; we have to act fast and effectively with all of our resources. Democracy cannot work in such a situation. We need an equivalent of an effective warship- where the senior officers know very well what they need to do, and what resources they have to do it, and the crew takes orders and carries them out without hesitation.

Of course, the problem is, how do we get those officers? I suggested a Board of Babushkas, comprised of people who have already amply proven their merits by a life of achievement. They serve a single term, and pick their own successors.

This suggestion elicited a funny Emelda Marcos allusion by KD, but nothing else. I want to keep it on the table as something to consider.

I myself have known people I would like to see on such a Board. One was my grandmother, and another, a long time friend in our little town. Both have shown a total immunity to temptation of any kind, combined with brains, energy and empathy- and effectiveness.

My grandmother had a very long life of doing good everywhere she went, and when I went to her apartment to dispose of her things after she was killed in an accident a the age of 98, I found her personal possessions added to not as much as a couple of hundred dollars, total. She didn’t want any more. She could have had a huge amount more for the asking-incorruptible.

Our local friend is similar. That makes two, and those from just a tiny fraction of the population of this country that we happen to know. So it shouldn’t be hard to find the 50 superbly qualified persons I suggested as about the right number for the Board.

How to do it? Constitutional Convention,


OK, I'll bite...you are looking for feedback.

I vote 'No' to your idea of implementing some kind of technocrat aristocracy.

Thank reason the founders made it rather difficult to call a Constitutional Convention.

If you want to stoke your fires, go to the Archdruid report and read Greer's online short story about the decline and fall of the U.S.

Thanks for the feedback, Ulan. Lawrence Lessig in Harvard mag last issue had a piece about need for constitutional convention to fix our obviously non-working democracy, which, he rightly says, has been bought by the money people and no longer belongs to we the people at all.

I like Greer, he is a very smart guy and a terrific writer, but is good on the problem. not the solution. I would not vote him on the board of babushkas, who are incidentally, grandmas, not technocrats and certainly the polar opposite of aristocrats. The technocrats like me just work for them.


I am happy to exchange posts with you.

One of my big worries about calling a CC is on the personal freedoms front. I would loathe seeing a theocracy voted into existence. Would women still vote after such a convention? Would gay folks be herded into camps? Would birth control be outlawed? One of the greatest things about the Constitution is its protection of minority rights...I am not just talking about color...gender, religions, ethnic background, etc.

Greer's mini-series was a nice read, as far as it went. For brevity he left out a lot of details, and his last chapter ended with a pretty hopeful tone. Not very realistic IMO, but he wanted to be hopeful. Be that as it may, Greer certainly has a broad canvass on which to paint an expanded version of his mini-series. If he turned it into a book, I would buy it.

Thanks for the point out to Lawrence Lessig...I will try to look up his article if I can find it on the Web.


July-August issue, the one with the cover showing tapes over the cracks on the capital bldg.

A Radical Fix for the Republic. Page 21

Lessig says we fix the sell-out problem first or we can't make anything work. And he says the sell-out is intrinsic in the election process itself as presently constructed.

What I say is there are lots of people, I named two, who could never be bought for love or money, as the saying goes.

What I suggest is a way to get the not-for-sale people who also have all the other requirements- brains, energy, competence, etc into the leadership role, and then let them lead, including solving the succession-of-leadership problem, which I assume would NOT include elections as we know them.

PS. When my grandmother died, I could not find a single pair of shoes in her tiny walk-up apartment, much less 2000 of them a-la Imelda Marcos. I soon realized that she had died and been buried in the only pair of shoes she owned. What I said-- could not be bought.

Such people are rare in politics or governance.

As a divining question: Would she have wanted the task? Would she have sought the office?

KD- I am sure you know the answer. She would most certainly have not wanted the task, nor the office. Ain't not wanting a condition for the job, as I recall Plato or some other one of them greeks?

Sure such people are rare in politics. But by no means non-existant in the general crowd. I know two of them, so since I know about 100 people, that makes 2%, which means, ballpark number, we have about 2 x 7 e (9-2) or e 8 people to choose from. Hey! Plenty.

With lots of room for error in the number

OOPs- error in the number. That's ALL the people, most of whom are elsewhere than USA.

No problem, we could offer them a green card.

But not from the Philippines.

Plato channeling Socrates, from The Republic pp 487-490.
The parable of the true pilot, aka The Ship of State.
Really lovely metaphor of a ship on storm-tossed seas with the sailors selfishly fighting for power.
The one man on board who could safely steer the ship is the one who can never gain the authority.
Instead of squabbling and striving for power he is staring at the skies- studying the stars, the winds, and the clouds.

I think you are trying to solve the corruption problem by selecting uncorrupt people for leadership. The alternative is to change the process, to one that doesn't encourage/reward corruption. Currently to have any chance of winning, you need megabucks of media and other resources. You also have to have a lot of partisans to keep the media from giving into the demands of the other guys partisans. And then we have organizations relentlessly pushing carefully chosen memes into the brains of the people. Put an honest person into this environment, and they either drop out in disgust or become corrupted. And of course the favorite political weapon, character assassination, this works wonders for driving people of integrity out.

Legislators, deputies, representatives, whatnot, should be randomly selected from the general population.

Sometimes I think that would actually produce way better results...

The founders who designed our system were wealthy landowners. They designed a system whereby the wealthy class runs the country. It was only later on when we gradually tried to expand the base.

The problem with your Babuskas selection, is who gets to choose them? That becomes a political question in and of itself, because there is great power to shape the future by being able to choose. For instance I'd veto any member who showed strong religious convictions.....

Sure, selection is critical. My first thought is that the convention would pick the first bunch, who would then decide on the best way to pick the best successors and so on and so on. But then, not being a wise one myself, I figgured some smarter people would propose the best way, and so on and so on.

A fun little computer modeling game.

But. Every interest group has very strong incentive to game the selection rules. As a believer in resource/ecological limits, I sure want to invalidate many prospects, and create rules which select leaders who have a long time horizon, and are amenable to scientific understanding. A lot of others would want to exclude such people. So its battle Royale trying to thrash out the rules of the game.

Right, right, right. So? Eliminate the whole deal. Find some people who really are wise, and leave it to them. Nothing like democracy as we know it, more like my little aircraft carrier. A bunch of ignorant kids, like me, and a captain who knew what he had to do to do the job and how to do it so as to keep most of us kids alive.

What I say here is that there are lots, not a few, of really wise people around, who are also really totally incorruptible, and there are ways to find them and empower them, and voting isn't it.

A lot of people here keep saying that everybody is infinitely greedy and infinitely crooked and infinitely sneaky. That's baloney. A pretty high fraction of the people I know are not that way at all. I checked this out with my wife, and she says that's right. So that's right.

There was a famous statement, "everyone has their price". I bet a price you would accept in return for an otherwise nasty act, "we will grant you the power to save the planet". I couldn't turn it down, even if the cost was the execution of many innocents. I think our current system encourages people to get there by taking small steps down slippery slopes.
But, again, really discovering the incorruptibles, versus the good actors. Focus on the Family would want incorruptible right-to-lifers, others would want those who would dramatically increase military spending. Others something else. You just end up moving where the political selection/battle takes place.

Yeah, certainly needs fixing. Not only in the USA but in the UK and elsewhere. Many systems are tending to the point where each side is in balance and the result is deadlock. The Constitution MAY protect minority rights but many that claim to uphold the Constitution seem to be trying to undermine it.


As far as the system is concerned there's nothing to fix, everyone is rowing in the right direction and pulling together advancing the system with every stroke. If people don't like it, then the system will find a way to fix them so they do. It's the way it works now, we're no longer the centre of the Universe.

Sounds crazy, but what if a major writer of the late Renaissance, when coal started to be burned in earnest and became the major fule for England, had concluded just what you have done so lucidly?

"It would be nice if there was some way for educated minds with long time horizons to steer things"

What if he did, in fact, leave a steganographic message to this effect?

What if this text were on every high school and college reading list in the world, basically?

So now go to YouTube and search "Romeo and Juliet" and then type in "Sacrifice". It's a great montage of clips from my favorite version of this movie (the one with Leonardo DiCaprio), all set to the best song by the Russian duo t.A.t.U. And guess what? The huge DiCaprio fan who made this video somehow sensed the importance of the separateness of the scenes featuring the lovers and that is all she included. So what you get with this video (which has 7 million views) is Romeo worshipping her, Romeo a bit removed from her (when she is on the balcony), Romeo leaving her to go into exile from her, and Romeo going back to her. Only when he goes back to her, she's in a coma, but he doesn't know that.

Oh, yeah, and in Act II, she stands on the balcony above him and he says, "Juliet is the sun".

I. meeting (primitive and antique man) II. Christianity is the Balcony scene, removing direct nature worship; Juliet is removed a bit.III. Farewell scene---Romeo must leave the sun (economy). IV. Tomb scene----back again to the sun.

Shakespeare was thinking ahead, I believe.

What is so funny is that his subversive text is a work with wide popularity and currency. Even the metaphor "Juliet is the sun" is fantastically popular and famous.

Have we all "known" about this secret intuitively without being able to put our collective finger on it?

It's very strange, but humans seem to be able to use culture as a vessel to store information that they may need one day. The more necessary it will be one day, the more they take steps to keep it in mind, perhaps. All without consciously processing the message. In fact, once the real prosaic message is admitted and acknowledged (which could take centuries), the "magic spell" is broken, and the enchantment is finished.

I am following this theme of yours happily, Pi, and I like it, while I'm agnostic on what understanding of the Sun Shakespeare was intending, necessarily, as he seems to have been an early one of those Urbane Brits who looked so longingly towards the Fields and Gardens they had left for the Sooty Paradise of the Modern Cities.. but I'm happy to go with it. You've certainly made the case well!

But a new and silly wrinkle came to mind when I wondered if Leonard Bernstein was channeling this Oracle of future renewables when he did the Retelling of R&J in WEST SIDE STORY in 1957, since he MUST have known Lerner and Lowe's 1951 'PAINT YOUR WAGON', with its memorable 'They call the wind Maria'

Coincidence? I'll let history be the judge.. (, jury and executioner)

If you like, although it's going to mean consuming electricity just for fun, I can tell you some songs to look at on YouTube that are quite related to this theme of the sun as our hidden fascinating figure.
Remember----Apollo was not only the God of the Sun, but also the God of Music.
Music and the Sun have a profound bond.

Try (I'm sure you know it) "Stairway to Heaven" from 1971, the peak of oil production in the US. As we wind on down the road/Our shadows taller than our souls/There walks a lady we all know/Who shines white light and wants to show/That everything still turns to gold". Of course the "May Queen" is mentioned too, the folk figure from Britain's past.

Or how about "Sister Golden Hair" (1975). The narrator has been "one poor correspondent", unable to connect with this mysterious woman with the golden hair, but he longs to be with her. It could be like Romeo in exile from beloved fair Juliet.

Or, (I am a Tinie Tempah fan) "Until I'm Gone", released just last year. It's got both Wiz Khalifa (the US rapper) and Tinie Tempah (the British rapper). This song is great!!!....a guy leaves "baby girl" (not his daughter, of course, but his girlfriend) "'cause I been dreaming this since I been young". For ambition he leaves what is stable and safe and loving and goes to compete. (It is a bit Romeo-esque, since Romeo essentially kills Tybalt for ambition, or rather, pride, then has to leave Juliet.) Tinie Tempah does his rap about how great his career is, but it's got such an edge "come out and play, let's pour another bottle/do it all today and worry 'bout it all tomorrow"....this song is worth listening to and mulling over. And the video features the sun when the people are in nature and the night in the huge city, which is L.A, where it was filmed.

There are so many more, but I will leave it there.

Inspiring, Pi.

Thanks for the thoughts.. I'll have to look at "Stairway.." .. That'll be my first explore for now. (After I get this 9 year old to bed.. I live for the cuddles these days!)


Stairway to Lenin

Edit: Actually, this is different than what I remember... odd...

Have we all "known" about this secret intuitively without being able to put our collective finger on it?



In fact, once the real prosaic message is admitted and acknowledged (which could take centuries), the "magic spell" is broken, and the enchantment is finished.

Yes. A little story about the end of "the enchantment":


Thank you, pi.

A. C. Clarke at his best and a last line that always sends a chill down my spine.


Ah, Pi I love it.

And the cultural storage of notions is powerful indeed.

My own tendency is to think that we have a great ability - when we allow ourselves to use it - to perceived deep structural similarities between situations. A lot of situations, not that many sorts of deep structure. Shakespeare wrote penetratingly about many human situations, and his writings will rhyme with a lot of situations we find ourselves in. I guess I'd say to color me skeptical that he anticipated a fossil-fueled economy and an abandonment of nature.

But who knows? I think it's plenty good that he got the deep structure right, even if he wasn't actually prescient.

I like the way your mind words, in this and other comments.

In the general public interest, I will refrain from ending with a pithy shakespeare quote.

Exit, pursued by a bear.

Thank you. But as for whether Shakespeare saw pollution from coal smoke....yes, tons. London was thoroughly smoky by the late 1500s, so much so that a bit of rain washed the soot and smoke down onto people's clothes and stained them black. The problem with smoke and soot was so great that a book was written in 1603 called "A new, cheape, and delicate Fire of Cole-balles, wherein seacole is by mixture of other combustible bodies both sweetened and multiplied". The author, Hugh Platt, was trying to solve the issue of coal smoke and proposed (in this book) to make briquettes of coal and soil, which he claimed would burn cleaner.

People in London recorded health problems from the coal smoke.

And before the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign in 1603, coal had become the major fuel (no longer wood, which is to say the sun) for England. Making England the first nation to "leave" the sun economy.

I think Shakespeare was sensitive to it. And I think he knew the work of Giordano Bruno, who posited an immense importance of the sun for the earth based on the "heat and light" of the sun. Heliocentrism brought into focus the real nature of the relationship between the earth and the sun. And the implications for creatures on earth were huge.

And Shakespeare starts off "Romneo and Juliet" with the odd, totally out-of-place lines "Gregory, on my word, we'll not carry coals"/ "No, for then we should be colliers."

"We'll not carry coals"......it's peak oil in a nutshell, isn't it? One day, fossil fuels will be non-economic resources. And we---all of us--- won't participate in economic processes to "carry" them. I guess uranium and oil, everything will be the same. It could take 1000 years, I really have no clue about the timing, nor do I pretend to. But the sun will still shine. It's basic.

Shakespeare was an activist. And my next paper, describing the secret sun drama in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (the comedic answer to the tragic "Romeo and Juliet") has been accepted for publication, I just learned. When it gets published next year, I will post the link. It's an obscure journal, but no paywall, so free access.

Thanks for the info, and I look forward to your paper!

I've never doubted Shakespeare saw coal pollution, from all descriptions London was pretty funky with coal gunk and I can easily believe he disliked it.

that was awesome pi. thanks!

Once again stunned by the speed and uncritical manner in which otherwise brilliant TOD readers embrace defeatism. The poll involved is multiply stupid, and the answers it yields are deeply biased by the narrowness and unreality of the questions asked. Why didn't they ask if people would support a radical change in the pattern of public spending in order to address CC? What about a big change in the way we collect taxes from the rich? I won't even mention deeper issues such as how silly it is to take polls like these too seriously, in a situation of no leadership and tenuous public understanding of the reality of the CC situation.

And what about Peak Oil? Why is transition a CC question only here?

One could also ask who represents the remarkable 21 percent who are willing to answer yes to this harebrained question. Aren't those people our best friends? If so, why throw them under the nihilism bus?

Why are we so defeatist around here? Perhaps because many of us are old enough to have experienced the effects of two oil shocks in the '70's and remember the calls then for "energy independence". I went back to university and worked on renewable energy in 1975. I've been acutely attuned to the energy problems since and still don't see any really serious effort on the part of the US Government to turn things around. The most obvious, first step would be to institute a seriously large tax on transport fuels, yet, out national gas tax hasn't even been increased to keep up with inflation. The same applies to population limits, including immigration. I've also worked on several national political campaigns over the years. Now, I think it may be too late to turn things around before our nation crashes into some hard limits...

E. Swanson

If the goal is to have energy independence, taxing imported energy would be the key. If efficiency is the goal, then taxing all energy should be the approach. Some of each might be good. Spend the money gained on negawatts and alts, and you'd have an energy policy.

A pity it won't be done anytime soon.

Attack ad repeated as nausea over the TV and radio where I live:

...Senator 'X' is proud of his vote on carbon cap and trade. He said it would transform America. He was right...it would mean fewer jobs and higher energy bills for our citizens. It is time to vote Senator 'X' out of office.

Attack add (for Congress where I live), X say's raising the gas(oline) tax would be patriotic. We've had this guy since 2006 ( I almost volunteered for his campaign), obviously there is big money against him, every day a big slick attack appears in my mailbox, attacking him for stuff like that, -or voting for Solyndra...

ES, are you paying attention to your own assumptions? Ghung just dismissed the entire American population, though Ghung also later started talking about the power structure in this very thread. This is my point. You talk about what the USG has not done, but what is your analysis of how captive the USG is to the powers-that-be? I am stunned, truly stunned, by the extent to which even TODers buy the notion that we somehow have a pristine democracy, so Joe Sixpack is the problem. It's straight-up ignorance.

The moneyied interests work through Joe Sixpack, as well as behind the scenes. They have a huge influence on what Joe Sees on TV. And he is easily influenced. Joe, hasn't learned to apply critical thinking, so its very easy to manipulate him with propaganda. This is of course a weak form of control (of government & society), in theory the plebs could vote the bums out, but with so much control over the media would be revolutionaries are at a huge disadvantage.

"ES, are you paying attention to your own assumptions? Ghung just dismissed the entire American population..."

Gosh, Michael, perhaps you need to pay more attention to your own assumptions. I haven't "dismissed the entire American population", as you say. That said, I think it's a pretty safe conclusion that our 'collective response' has been, and will continue to be less than affective at mitigating climate change, resource depletion and a plethora of other issues that we face going forward. Past performance and all that. For numerous reasons: economic, idealogical, awareness, etc., it's clear many aren't not up to the challenge. Some openly admit they aren't going to modify the lifestyles they've invested in under any circumstances. "Non-negotiable"...

I also know plenty of folks determined to implement their own viable responses: I've spent the weekend helping friends optimize their solar water heating and improve their local food initiatives, etc., and certainly haven't 'dismissed' them.

I'm well aware of the power of the moneyed interests on politics. I've worked on 4 Presidential campaigns, a couple of Senate and House races, along with some California initiatives. I long ago concluded that the popular concept of "democracy" does not exist in the US we find today. There's more to it than the fact that half the population is below average, there's the power of large amounts of money on the mind of those of us with little eduction beyond HS (if they got that far). The death of print media may be the last nail in the coffin of popular democracy, as guys like Limbaugh and Beck are able to spread propaganda without the possibility of rebuttal by opposing points of view. There was a time when reading and writing were the main modes of communication, which required thinking, but that's long gone these days...

E. Swanson

Actually probably well more than half are below average. As with incomes, a relatively few high-side outliers can skew the mean. You can only be so uneducated or so poor, but the upside is less constrained. Really for such discussions the median may be a better measure.

Print media is not dead. The nonprofit publications are better than the for profit. I read Science magazine although most of it is way over my head. What I can assimilate is really useful. I am a retired chemist so I read Chemical & Engineering News. The editorials discussed climate change fairly and in depth although this irritated a few readers who believed a degree in chemistry made them competent to criticize climatologists. The higher ups in the American Chemical Society approved of these editorials.

My friends who don't have a tv often can't find time to read as much as I do but in the absence of tv they somehow stay informed.

Public radio in the US seems anemic. I listen to podcasts from Australia. For a nation of 22 million people they have far better radio than we do.


But what % read Science, C&EN or the like? I'd guess <1%. The traditional print media, 'the newspapers of record', are dwindling in readership and quality. And even what's left of it provides less and less breadth, and more and more just the corporate line.

Here's a link.

Print media (or even serious electronic media) is not dead. However it has very little influence over 99% of the people. So as a force for generating change, or influencing policy decisions*, it is pretty impotent.

* Unless the topic is far off the public (and major lobbyist organizations) radar screens, then informed citizens can affect policy.

Agreed, about print media, versus modern media. Many issues require longterm study. Selecting leaders based upon who can be more entertaining/devastating with thirty second rebuttals is wrong on so many levels. And you are right that so many are getting information from seriously biased sources (although at some level thats inescapable).

Why is "realistic" attitude called "defeatism"?
I think the same confusion exists with our common understanding of "Cynic" -- that it is a "negative" philosophy.

I don't find TOD "defeatist" -- I read it for the mostly intelligent commentary on contemporary problems and attempts to engage them.

Re: Cynics

Cynicism (Greek: κυνισμός), in its original form, refers to the beliefs of an ancient school of Greek philosophers known as the Cynics (Greek: Κυνικοί, Latin: Cynici). Their philosophy was that the purpose of life was to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature. This meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex, and fame, and by living a simple life free from all possessions. As reasoning creatures, people could gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which was natural for humans. They believed that the world belonged equally to everyone, and that suffering was caused by false judgments of what was valuable and by the worthless customs and conventions which surrounded society. Many of these thoughts were later absorbed into Stoicism.

The first philosopher to outline these themes was Antisthenes, who had been a pupil of Socrates in the late 5th century BCE. He was followed by Diogenes of Sinope, who lived in a tub on the streets of Athens.[2] Diogenes took Cynicism to its logical extremes, and came to be seen as the archetypal Cynic philosopher. He was followed by Crates of Thebes who gave away a large fortune so he could live a life of Cynic poverty in Athens. Cynicism spread with the rise of Imperial Rome in the 1st century, and Cynics could be found begging and preaching throughout the cities of the Empire. It finally disappeared in the late 5th century, although some have claimed that early Christianity adopted many of its ascetic and rhetorical ideas.

By the 19th century, emphasis on the negative aspects of Cynic philosophy led to the modern understanding of cynicism to mean a disposition of disbelief in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions.


In my experience, not all people are good, or even reasonable -- but a lot of them are, and that is where I want to live. In the land of the reasonable.

Impediments to "progress" are often neutered with propaganda changing people's perception of their meaning. The Cynics philosophy, "the purpose of life was to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature", is obviously anathema to a system of civilisation that feeds off nature's destruction. To keep people "on message" alternative ideas on how to live ones life must be sidelined and made to vanish from view.

We (US 'consumers' - don't call us citizens!) are infants, with one thumb in our mouth and the other one stuck up our ....

A 50% increase in price accompanied by a 50% reduction in use (think 30 mpg instead of 20 mpg) yields no net increase in cost, but a large societal benefit.

But we are far, far too superiorly ignorant to even consider such an approach.

I've seen estimates as high as $50 billion to pay for the damage from Sandy. Are they willing to pay that? Oh, I forgot. They will charge it.

They can't alter reality, so of course they'll "pay" somehow.

They'll pay cost to rebuild;
Or alter lifestyles and expectations to match new circumstances;
Or both (i.e., rebuild via debt and then deal with social consequences).

Response ("payment") is inevitable; "willingness to pay" is irrelevant.

I for one, not going to focus on what they said in the past, or what attitudes are now (attitudes are too labile). Instead, objectively, watch their behavior here on out.

Oh, they'll pay the $50 beeeelion alright, just don't ask them to pay 50c to prevention.


Probably half that cost comes from insurance companies. Id bet more than half of the remainder comes from the unfortunate owners of underinsured things that were ruined. So less than a quarter comes from government. There are bigger indirect loses of course, days of missed work. Some places of business may never reopen -jobs destroyed. These indirect "economic" loses could exceed the direct loses severalfold.

Hurricane Sandy: Inflatable Plugs Might Have Minimized New York City Subway Flooding

That technology is a gigantic inflatable plug that might have prevented the massive flooding of New York City's subway system caused by the storm. In simulations, the plugs--originally developed to combat terrorist attacks and now being evaluated at West Virginia University--have proven to be effective at limiting flooding in tunnels.

Developed as part of the "Resilient Tunnel Project," the plugs are actually enormous balloon-like capsules, according to a department press release. When filled with air or 35,000 gallons of water, the plugs measure 32 feet by 16 feet. Unfilled, they take up little space and can be stashed throughout tunnels, waiting to be inflated remotely at a moment's notice.

More here:


Fingers,, in dikes.

Simple. With a little work the tunnel section to be sealed could be made featureless, and the inflated balloon could even be adhesively sealed. Any minor leakage could be readily pumped out anyway.

Probably besides the tunnel entrances themselves there would be numerous vents and drains, pipe chases, and emergency exits that also would need to be sealed. Still, a trivial cost compared to the damage of flooding.

I imagine the plug company will have no shortage of investors and customers now. :)

Who would have thought butt plug technology would pay off in flood management?

ROFL, rail sections could easily be made to be removed to allow these to seal. No-one seems to notice that the London Underground has had flood doors built in, for decades, at a very low cost compared to these schemes.


Hopefully the rats would pass on chewing a hole in it. Not optimistic. They like to chew on high voltage feeder cables.

I notice that in their test section of tunnel that there aren't any rails installed, and it would be tough to get a good seal around those. Although if they could install something ahead of time on the tunnel floor in the area around the plug which would eliminate a lot of those leaks.

From what they said on the website, it sounds like what they had in mind was something that could be installed in a deflated form on the wall of the tunnel so that it could be deployed remotely if there were a need.

Then again, I am wondering if one could use a bit of something like spray-foam insulation to try and seal up any remaining gaps, and get a fairly tight seal.

If the exposure time is limited (a few hours of high water), some level of leakage can be tolerated. Just like ships have bilge pumps and can handle small leaks, so could tunnels.

Actually they could use the same technology used along the Ohio river in Louisville where a concrete pad is created where rails run through the dike with installable walls, the concrete pads have small detents on the inside of the rails so the wheels of the rail cars track properly, inserts for these detents could be fabricated and installed right before inflation, along with a way to pump out the small leakage a proper seal against flooding is maintained.

Like shown here;


Peak OPEC Production

By next year, OPEC production will remain relatively stagnant with an average production of 36.83 million bpd.
As a matter of fact, production from the region is already showing signs of weakening...

Its monthly production this year climbed through April, but began to fall in May and June — all the while remaining above 36 million bpd.

The last several months have seen a rapid drop.

The figures they quote are all liquids.

I think there is no doubt that OPEC production has peaked. And contrary to what most oil analyst believe, they have NO spare capacity. Every OPEC nation, including Saudi Arabia, is producing flat out.

Though this article says non-OPEC production is "picking up" I really don't think it has a lot of "picking up" left. The EIA has non-OPEC picking up in 2013 with the lions share of that increase coming from the USA. Most of the rest they have coming from Canada, Brazil, China, Kazakhstan and Sudan. They have almost no one declining in 2013. They have only Mexico and the U.K. declining by an amount that is barely visible on the chart below. I think they are a bit overoptimistic.


Ron P.

"200 years of cheap NG". I'll give him credit for guts. I hesitate to offer what NG will be selling for next March. And he's predicting the same low price we have today for the next century or two. What insight! I am truly humbled.

To be precise, the author is female. Not that that makes any difference.

I recommend pouring yourself a large scotch (or should that be bourbon) if you are going to read the complete article. You'll have earned it.


Thanks Mike. Was cross eyed after I read the highlights and didn't notice the gender. Can't drink at the moment: on a well site. But I'll have a tall B&B on pthe rocks tonight. The article didn't my spirits down as much as the comments from the other TODsters today. Most seem to be in a deep funk at the moment. Usually it's just me and a couple of moaners. LOL


Do you have a physical presence?
I am humbled by your apparent command of reality, and would like to share a B&B when you are off the well site.

This is not a proposition, and not an attempt at being snarky.
Some time I would actually like to find out who you are.

For a minute there, I read B&B as bed and breakfast.

T.O.P. - LOL. I guess that's what seperates the drinkers from the rest of the world. FYI for non-drinkers: B&B is Benedictine and brandy. Satisfies my desire dulling the senses a bit as well as my sweet tooth.

LNG - Yes...an awe inspiring presence. LOL. Sure...next time in Houston or if I can break free I'll be at the ASPO in Austin at the end of the month. Still trying to decide what costume to wear to that event.

Rockman --

Thanks. If I ever get to Texas I'll look you up and buy you a drink. Probably will be a Rusty Nail for me, though, due to my Scottish heritage.

You seem to have a lot of free time to write -- drilling wells must be something like waiting for babies to be born. Hours of tedium interspersed with moments of sheer terror.

NeverLNG – I’ve got 18 hours a day like everyone else. LOL. Between my bad knee and MS I’m on my butt for 17.5 hrs of that time. If I’m not driving I have a computer screen or IPhone in front of me. That’s how I can post so much on TOD…got almost no life outside of the oil patch, my daughter’s ball games and TOD. LOL. If I’m not on a well I’m online working…even when I’m a couch potato watching TV. And even on a well I’m still connected. All my TOD posts yesterday was done with my phone from an oil well I’m completing about 3 hrs from Houston. Always a lot of "hurry up and wait" time on a well. TOD makes a good distraction.

Wonder how I get around on a well site on my “polio crutches” (as my cohorts tease)? Easy: sssssssslowly. LOL. I’ve got a great job on my onshore locations: I watch others work. The MS did end my offshore work and I don't go on the drill floor anymore. So just tedium at times and no more terror. Had my share of near misses over 37 years so enjoy being out of the line of fire now. LOL. I’m there to monitor safety and quality control. I’m either in my SUV or in the logging truck. I have consultants working for me but they have no authority to make decisions. That’s why I need to be on site…sometimes a phone call just isn’t fast enough. And watching a situation slowly unfold is much more informative then a phone call nor email. For instance yesterday I had to shut down ops due to lightning in the area. My consultant would have worked the hands longer otherwise. I had to explain that the majority of folks are hit by lightning before the rain starts falling on them. He looked relieved. LOL. Today I stayed home and monitored the effort via the net and phone. And Shazam! We’re producing oil this morning. A big part of my job being an information hub. For instance two weeks ago I was on a well for 2.5 days. I was even a little surprised when I noted my email count: 147. Lots of data flow.


Well, I continue to be impressed.
A lot of folks with your condition would have thrown in the towel a long time before. I really didn't mean to make you get personal, but it is fascinating to know something about the folks who post here. I would guess that the majority live and have lived very interesting lives. TOD is a special place.

Good thing MS doesn't cause dementia.

Anyway, I really enjoy your posts.
And the fact that you can do it from an iPhone is really impressive. I get so frustrated with those tiny "keys", and unless I turn off the "predictive" function, I wind up with the most outlandish garbage.

Don't know if you are interested but Louis Rosner, one of the brightest students in my medical school class - possibly the brightest - has published two editions of a book on MS. It is directed to patients and families. The 2nd edition is also available on Kindle

Robert - Thanks. I'm familiar with his work. I'm a member of the Nat MS Soc so I see much of what's going on.

NeverLNG - If I could afford it I would have thrown in the towel long ago. LOL. Like a lot of folks much of who I am is what I do for a living. Dementia...no...that's pretty much genetic based on my family's nature. Can't blame the MS for that. But the good news it's not getting worse...my meds have stopped progression for now. And if I suddenly start rotting more brain cells away I just evolve into a liberal. Just tossed that in to see who's paying attention to our chat. LOL.

Personal is OK. I tend to put a very personal face of my posts for a devious reason: Folks tend to see most groups as monolithic. In reality few if any are. A wide range in every profession and political/philosophical tendency. Just a small effort to help folks think of the oil patch as something other than ExxonMobil et al.

Yes I drink a bit and even took a bartending course for fun way back in my college daze, so I know about B&B, although my head has recently been on bed & breakfasts.
But, listen, I'm ok if someone wants to do a bed and breakfast with someone else on here.
I'm trying to recall if I've had B&B... maybe in a coffee.
Incidentally, I'd like to shortly try to make my own alcoholic apple cider as well as perhaps try to freeze-distill some apple jack.
Seeing as this is an energy/future site; home distillation in general might come in handy especially in the future for various reasons. Bottoms up!

I did a google on "reflux still", lots of good information. Those cheeky ex-pats in AFCs are way ahead on development.


Freeze-concentration carries over all the methanol and fusel baddies...safer if you start with a clean mash, but be careful. It's banned in most countries.

Not to forget, there are various Ice Beers, which use the freeze concentration process as well...

E. Swanson

Thanks for the additions, guys.

The WSJ article 'Bloomberg's misguided endorsement of Obama' certainly spells out the WSJ's (and I assume the financial industry's) mindset that:

1) Global Warming may be not real

2) If it is real, it may be a net benefit

3) If it is real, and is not a net benefit, then global geoengineering is much more cost effective mitigation than any misguided green energy / green jobs strategies (let alone the horrid idea of consuming less).

4) The U.S. clearly has 200 years-worth of NG to burn up.

"My name is WSJ, Herald of endless growth:
Look on my works, ye hand-wringing Malthusians, and despair!"

Nice sand dune, dude.

Where's the beach?

WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdock (the same guy that owns/created FauxNews. All you need to no.

Yes, and the WSJ is also famous for the "lucky duckies" articles about those too poor to pay income tax.

I wouldn't call them a "serious news source".

They are still considered to be really good for business news. I don't know if that will survive under the new ownership, or if it will become another nest of political hacks. Actually Murdock is generally very media savy (i.e. he usually makes a lot of money), so he will probably confine the hackery to the editorial pages. He is well known for finding an audience and giving them what they want. The WSJ audience mostly wants accurate business news. They probably also like the hacks, as they largely share the philosophy (ideology) behind it.

Rupert Murdoch uses his newspapers (many of which lose money, eg. The Australian, NY Post, The Times) to gain influence and advantage for his real money makers, cable tv networks Sky & Fox. The value of those networks is naturally a function of their market dominance, which is maintained by favourable licensing, bandwidth and content deals, which ever-bendable governments play a role in.

"4) The U.S. clearly has 200 years-worth of NG to burn up."

Obama said (on record) we had 100 years of NG , so the other 100 years come from? Yes, I'm being sarcastic, but I do wonder how the already wrong number magically doubled.


It is clear.

Some faction in the conservative fold took President Obama's unsubstantiated number and doubled down on the extend and pretend.

A propaganda race to the bottom...

Also, the 'NG honey' on the commercials that have been all over American TV for years has been promulgating the 100-year+ NG assertion...the American National Gas Association or some such...

It is noticeable that these politicians like to make wildly wrong claims, to the public, that then get corrected at a later date by some aide in a quiet corner. Trouble is that the faux message has taken root while the corrected one gets no attention.


Just came over, after a long absence, to say hello.

Reminded by this: http://i.imgur.com/sbt6B.jpeg :3

PS: Oh yeah, and I'm a Furry now x3

+1 image

but 'I'm a Furry now x3' ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


Yair . . . In my ignorance I always assumed traffic and rail tunnels would naturaly be fitted with doors to prevent flooding.

Are the connectors between the UK and France and other such tunnels protected, does anyone know?


My understanding is that both ends of the chunnel are well above sea level and are also quite a long distance from the coast, it would take something special to flood it.

Also keep in mind that the Chunnel is actually three tunnels -- two unidirectional rail tunnels and a service/escape tunnel. If one rail tunnel was to flood, the remaining rail tunnel could handle (a reduced amount of) bi-directional traffic.

A better fit is London Underground that does have such doors, especially in lines that go under the Thames. ISTR a tunnel being holed and flooded, probably find details in Wikipedia.


It would be good to reduce middle eastern oil imports. Whether by fuel economy, conservation, domestic production and/or alternatives, reducing imported oil from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other countries would be to our benefit.

China Is Building A Huge Eco-City Where No One Will Need To Drive


Starting to Sink in?

yeah, a lot of high rises in there ...

One of the most rehashed current "received idea" is most probably that skyscrapers are efficient in increasing density (under some given natural lights constraints, and density in the sense FAR, floor area ratio).
The truth is that it isn't the case at all, see for instance the two pdfs linked below (about Lionel March and Leslie Martin work in the sixties) :

Well NYC is supposedly the most energy efficient area in the country (compared to other areas with similar population). That probably has a lot to do with low per capita car ownership, as well as a very low per capita area of outside walls.
As measured by economists, the economic output of a city goes up faster than linear with population, i.e. network effects dominate the inefficiencies of moving around, (i.e. traffic jams nearly everywhere and all the time). Of course you might argue that a great deal of NYC's real energy consumption is embedded in products shipped in and wastes shipped out.

Of course you might argue that a great deal of NYC's real energy consumption is embedded in products shipped in and wastes shipped out.

NYC needs a standing army to secure the resources it needs.
Most people do not give them up voluntarily.

But the point is more about architecture/urbanism from a simple geometry and light perspective, and resulting density in terms of FAR(floor area ration, that is square feet of livable builded space over square feet on the ground). And by comparing "generic urbanism" made of towers, slabs, or court yard buildings, you realize that towers do not provide better results at all, and that the FAR is asymptotic with the number of storeys anyway, above 10 or so you don't gain anything.
And this is even more true for housing buildings, for offices you can have huge open spaces allowing "thicker" buildings.
And in fact in NYC (or Manhattan), most towers are offices, and housing more in 6 to 10 storeys buildings or so, with high rise housing more the exception, no ?

Superstorm Sandy: First Responders Get Gas Priority in Storm Aftermath

This morning, Gov. Cuomo told New Yorkers that "help is on the way."

About 8 million gallons of fuel have been delivered and another 28 million en route.

"Do not panic. I know there is anxiety about fuel...The situation has been remedied. Gas stations will be getting fuel," Cuomo said.

Mobile fuel stations set up by the Department of Defense will also used to distribute free gas in the metro New York area. There will be a 10-gallon limit per person.

Sounds like progress is being made. MTA says 80% of the subway system has been restored.

I've heard that National Guard troops from all over the northeast are being sent to NYC to help pump out the subway tunnels and do other disaster relief work. Pennsylvania, upstate NY, Delaware, Vermont, etc. are all sending troops.

It would be interesting to put the response timeline for Sandy next to that for Katrina. Pretty sure NY will win the race, but it's still going to have been a solid week before there are significant feet on the street in the hard-hit areas it seems.

30M gallons of gas will help, but it'll go fast in that big a city. Getting commercial distribution terminals back online seems to be the key.

Why do gov'ts enforce de facto price controls during disasters? No reason for gas supply to be an issue when tankers can cross the country in a day or two.

Transportation seems to be less impacted than it was after Katrina. It's really a mess in some places, but others are not too bad.

It also helps that first responders aren't being shot at in NY. Not sure why, since they certainly have their share of drug addicts and looters.

Fewer guns? Maybe for once gun control DOES work?

Unlike Louisiana, NY and NJ don't have stands of tall pine trees ready to topple over and block every single road with big thick tree trunks.

Pine trees are north & central Louisiana.

We have live oak and cypress trees in New Orleans.


You would be surprised. The areas around the city have a lot of trees, and a lot of roads are currently blocked by them. They expect to still be cataloging all the roads blocked by fallen trees through Thanksgiving at least.

I am inclined to think that the reports of first responders being fired on after Katrina were mostly exaggerations and took on a life of their own. It was too convenient to be able to blame the victims. Here, there is the important difference that the victims are mostly white.

The only gunshot wounds in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans were from police shootings (several of whom went to jail).

Some desperate people did fire guns as a signal to attract attention - a mistake !


Mostly it had to do with the social expectations of the "rescuers". A good friend of mine is arch conservative. I told him how when I was stranded by the road with a car issue, the only people who stopped to help were hispanic, his response "your lucky you weren't robbed". I'm sure he would have said the same if I'd said they were black. Oftentimes our expectations of others become self-fulfilling. Show respect and sympathy for individuals (including of the social/economic situation their group is in), and you get respect back. Treat them as if they carry some sort of plague, and you are likely to sense hostility, and conclude your prejudices are accurate.

I had a car breakdown on the Cross Bronx and was helped out by a Spanish guy .. It's funny that your friend didn't seem to acknowledge your first point.. that the Hispanic folks were 'The ONLY people who stopped to help' .. I know it's a quick turnaround to make when you're set with other notions.. but clearly he was still sticking to his accustomed answers at the totally wrong end of the spectrum to the facts as they were presented.

I'm 81, and half the time when I get onto a bus or subway here in Queens, NYC, a Latino (or Latina!) will jump up and insist that I take their seat. Standing isn't a problem for me, but I'll often accept their offer in order to honor it, or to get out of the way when the conveyance is crowded. These are the same people who give to the panhandlers who come through subway cars periodically, though begging is illegal.

There is an old story about a man from (despised) Samaria who stopped to help a distressed traveler...

Probably doesn't really matter any more -- they weren't driving cars in those days.

People would be outraged at "price gouging". I think it would become a big political issue (with any merchant who raised prices, being cast as arch-villain). I think this is largely a human reaction which is inherent in the species. So even though we have an extreme case of free-market religion, I don't think it would win out in this sort of case.

But it's not gouging if somebody has to rent a truck and drive it from Kentucky, and spend 5 days on the road to deliver fuel to a generator-powered store with a couple of overworked owners; versus, say, a local driver in a fully amortized truck who normally drives 20 miles and sleeps in his own bed, delivering to a boringly ordinary store staffed by youngsters who are mostly making spending money while the owner tends to his other interests.

Sometimes higher prices are perfectly warranted, and serve as an incentive. Surely there is a happy medium, like a 50% hurricane premium. If nothing else, that would incent owners to fill their tanks prior to a storm and somehow figure out how to get the pumps going.

Free enterprise isn't a panacea, but it's not a dirty term either.

Doesn't matter. Its about peoples sense of morality/fairness. Our moral instincts don't understand nuance. Besides its mainly the guy whose service station does have gasoline/power. The owner knows he will run dry, and may have difficulty getting his next delivery. but the guy who buy's his gas will be outraged if he doubles the price. It would be seen as profiteering, as not being a good citizen/neighbor, having no sense of shame -or empathy for his fellows etc. And I think our societies are better because this is our default way of thinking. This meme being marketed around the country, that the only valid basis for doing anything, is pure greedy selfishness, could easily destroy us.

Government sponsored discounts before the event paid for by a controlled(as in 'exceed and you are in jail') 50% price hike after until normal service resumed.


Expressing an extreme position.


Does anyone recall details about the effects of price controls on gasoline and natural gas availability during the 70's?

I think the damage is mostly confined to a few places -mostly those at too low an elevation that were flooded, plus lots of random wind damage scattered over a large area. In New Orleans you had miles on end of devastation, here there's a bad neighborhood, but two blocks over is fine (or fine except for no power).

Happened upon this totally serendipitously, but it succinctly supports the pt. I was making on yesterday's Drumbeat regarding media suppression of certain stories:

Adam Savage on why Mythbusters will never do an episode on RFID chips

Here's one reason they might want to.

Both of those have the same link...

Sorry. Thanks for the catch. Here is the Mythbusters link. Kind of chilling, really.


This is a required view. Expect this to be taken up BIG-TIME for cloning cards. Card cloning is already a big industry in 3rd world countries that touristas like to visit so this will simply be added to their portfolio.


On U-tube there are several videos showing how to remove(disable) the RFID chip.

Much simpler and cheaper than dealing with pouches, stainless steel wallets and the like.

That is unless you actually use the RFID feature(bug). I have never even seen a POS terminal for paypass.

The first thing I did when I got RFID cards was to make a tinfoil and cardboard cover for them (and a second one for my wife's cards.) William Gibson had mentioned the possibility of line of sight RFID snooping in either "Spook Country" or "Zero History", so I was on it. The covers weren't as durable as I would have liked, so I have since moved on to improved technology: I cut my covers out of Tetra-pak containers (make sure you use one of the long-life aseptic versions that have an aluminum foil layer.) They last much longer.


From the link: "If you don't have a credit card with a RFID in it, chances are you will soon."

Slim chance, since I've been living without credit/debit cards for 4 years. No cell phone either. Found out I don't need them, don't want them, haven't missed them. Starve the beast.

We have one credit card and one pre-paid cell phone used for travelling. The card stays in the fire safe. We don't even use it to reserve rooms when we travel; we explained to several hotel/motel chains that we don't use cards and they have been fine with that, especially since we use the same motel chains and have their discount member programs. They are happy to take cash.

For those addicted to plastic complexity, RFID-secure wallets are available; made in Maine, credit cards accepted ;-/

In general, large extinctions may result when a biosphere under long-term stress undergoes a short-term shock [with long and short-terms being very relative, such as with regard to the speed and strength/impact/peculiar application of those stresses]. An underlying mechanism appears to be present in the correlation of extinction and origination rates to diversity. High diversity leads to a persistent increase in extinction rate; low diversity to a persistent increase in origination rate. These presumably ecologically controlled relationships likely amplify smaller perturbations (asteroid impacts, etc.) to produce the global effects observed.
~ Wikipedia

Many Drumbeat headlines and comments are of course about relatively minute or trivial details of the contemplations/machinations of the human species-- fun polls, cute little EV's, political whimsies, and so forth...

The larger picture that they all ultimately collectively form makes me wonder how large the picture is and will be-- how heavy, fast, particular, and impactful the footprint and kick against the equilibrium, and in relation to previous extinctions...

In around 300 years time, 75% of all mammal species on Earth will have gone extinct...

That’s the startling prediction if current rates of extinction continue and the animals already threatened or endangered are wiped out this century, according to Anthony Barnosky, a palaeobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley...

Barnosky studies biodiversity changes and extinction rates that occurred in the deep past, and compares them to trends happening now. Since life first evolved... there have been five mass extinctions. Each was triggered by a cataclysmic event and resulted in at least 75% of all species going extinct.

Now, Barnosky calculates, humans are creating a mass extinction on the same scale – the planet’s sixth one – through a combination of habitat encroachment and fragmentation, hunting, climate change, pollution, and the spread of disease and introduced species. Some 30% of all species may be lost over the next four decades, conservationists estimate.

Barnosky estimates that the current rate is 1000 times the natural rate, putting it easily on a par with the ‘big 5′ mass extinction events.

The Anthropocene, the Age of Man, will be marked by a rapid decline in biodiversity as animals and plants disappear from the planet... forever. It won’t just be the individual creatures that vanish, but also their descendants on the evolutionary tree – whole lines of phyla will prematurely cease.

And the Anthropocene will also be notable for its homogeneity – what Barnosky describes as the “McDonaldization of nature”...

'Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.',

...Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has... claimed that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and 'unbridled consumption.’

Fenner told The Australian newspaper that 'homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.'

'A lot of other animals will, too,' he added.

'It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.'

Since humans entered... the Anthropocene... we have had an effect on the planet that rivals any ice age or comet impact, he said.

Fenner, 95... blames the onset of climate change for the human race’s imminent demise...

'Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we're seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.'...

The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we've seen disappear.'...

In 2006 another esteemed academic, Professor James Lovelock, warned that the world's population may sink as low as 500 million over the next century due to global warming.

He claimed that any attempts to tackle climate change will not be able to solve the problem, merely buy us time.

This is not just economic collapse, but, rather, "the economy" collapsing everything else, including itself.

"Mitigation would slow things down a bit, but there are too many people here already."

...It's an opinion shared by some scientists but drowned out by the row between climate change sceptics and believers.

I should note that this last point—the problems attending growth being drowned out by a bogus debate about the climate science—is essential if you want to understand why the human species may become extinct in the next few hundred years. This same behavior has been called fiddling while Rome burns, and humans seem to be especially adept at it.

Another limitation is covered by the expression not seeing the forest for the trees. That limitation also has a time dimension—characteristic human myopia... People must be able to see their world from the outside looking in, they must reflect on who they are and sort out their self-destructive behaviors. Generally speaking, the necessary separation is impossible for humans to achieve. People are typically totally immersed in the crazy world they themselves have created. They need to view the lunatic asylum from outside its walls.

The way people use the term "Anthropocene", usually it's treated like this is a recent thing (starting at the beginning of the Industrial Age or so), though there are some who instead date it from the dawn of agriculture. Here's the thing, though. The "-cene" ages typically last a few million years. Even with the much longer timeframe, the Anthropocene has lasted only around 8000 years so far. Some are now saying that humans may be extinct in the next century or so thanks to the long-term effects of the Industrial Age. So... if that happens, then this age will likely end up having been named for a species which didn't exist during most of its run!

Not that it really matters because nobody would be around to care, but it seems kind of weird in the abstract.

Somebody on TOD a few years back answered the following question, "Do you think there is intelligent life on other planets?" with "No. Intelligence is a toxic mutation."

I'd be tempted to answer "Yes, unlike Earth"


Brilliant! Look at phenotypes that have survived a couple of geologic periods with little change. None of them can solve calculus problems.

Fortunately our intelligence has enabled us to predict the future and take appropriate action.

Oh wait...

When we're gone, there will be no-one left to call the epochs names.


I like Brieflycene because it sounds silly/stupid/funny.

Too short a period for a -cene, or an Age, or an interstadial. I nominate Hansen Event as the time from the start of AGW to a new stable climate.

Well maybe the dinosaurs had a name, or at least a thought or feeling, for their own extinction event too, like "RRAAAUUUUARRRRGGGGHHHHH!".

That's the way I view it too, we're on a systematic treadmill that we no longer control. A system which encourages positive feedbacks whilst isolating itself from the effects of negative feedbacks. We humans are a catalyst to the system and the technicians that run it, but have no real control over it. Like Pavlov's dogs, we're rewarded for our input and forever after governed by our rewards.

The problem we face is that the current version of the System is probably reaching its evolutionary peak, just waiting for some powerful externalities to push it into an evolutionary valley (climate change, resources constraints, etc.). The problem we face is that without the System we perish, because we cannot go back to living our lives the way nature intended, the bridges back have been effectively burned behind us.

A random mutation may take the System to a new peak (fusion reactors?) in which case we humans will probably need to be adapted for an artificial life on a devastated planet. I don't really like either alternative, but possibly for a generation or two we can struggle on in the grey area between a failing technological civilisation and a failing ecosystem.

A system without real leadership.

Can anyone name one real leader? Based on what parameter...

Avoiding calamity / dsytopia
...seems to require moderating base instincts...

Adult supervision? Is this What Wimbi alludes to? Can anyone name one?

Machine supervision? An artificial and agreed-upon adult?

Four in the morning. Save world tomorrow.

Those who exercise force-multipliers of various sorts to steer events will , if successful, generally remain invisible.

Though it's more herding than leadership. Few things constrain one's actions more than being a legitimately-appointed leader.

ADULT SUPERVISION- Thats it! what I was groping for but couldn't get to. See, KD, I always did think you had promise.

Name one? Sure, my grammar school, of course. the Brothers of the Christian Schools required parents to sign over all discipline to them, and so us little barbarians knew we would get whacked now, not later, for any barbarism we happened to not be able to resist committing.

Henceforth, the barbarism rate went as a healthy negative exponent,

So, there we are, we replace democracy with Adult Supervision (TM), and the world is saved.

Thank you, KD, Later, you get a monument on the Washington Mall.

Now, back to bike transmissions. Lookin' good. Expect to replace those beastly derail things within the year.

A random mutation may take the System to a new peak (fusion reactors?) in which case we humans will probably need to be adapted for an artificial life on a devastated planet.

Interesting that you see it that way, because that's been my conclusion as well. With abundant cheap energy we initiated the 6th great extinction as well as all the other negative effects of a species with no controls, and if fusion cannot be harnessed then this experiment will descend into a simpler, less destructive one. However, in the event of a breakthrough with fusion, we will once again have cheap abundant energy. The population of the world would skyrocket to who knows - maybe 15-20 billion and we would decimate what's left of the biosphere.

Unfortunately, there is no grand positive long term plan for people, just plain ol' greed based expansion. As long as our consciousness level cannot find harmony and balance with other life, then the sooner this experiment is in descent, the better for the future of life on Earth.

It's also very possible that having experienced a grand technological expansion, followed by a slow or fast collapse, will move consciousness forward enough to insure that in the future there is a more concerted effort to expand thoughtfully.

Only 15-20 billion? If some miracle new energy source were discovered the population could easily explode to 100 billion. And while the population were expanding we'd be rapidly turning Earth into a second version of Venus. Building more and more reactors. Digging up and burning all remaining fossil fuels just for convenience's sake, now that EROEI wouldn't be a consideration. We wouldn't be able to stop ourselves. It would be a nightmare.


Familiar to readers of Asimov's 'Foundation' series...

Food for thought...has some group created an 'Encyclopedia Foundation' somewhere on Earth? Perhaps at 'Word's End'?

Do I hear 200 billion?


With fusion, though, we might be able to expand to Mars and the stars, maybe terraform Mars (slam Phobos and Diemos and a few asteroids from the belt into it) or Venus (vacuum up some of its atmosphere, compress it into LNG and ship it to Mars just to make permaculturists happy) and melt IO, etc..
Just throw artificial stars and fusion engines here and there at our problems sort of like how it's currently done. Got a problem? Here's a Fukushima Mark 9 fusion reactor. All your moon are belong us.
At the end of it, the solar system will be a disaster, with orbits severely perturbed, Earth half-baked, Venus cold and desolate, austerity measures in Mercury's Equatorial Zone 4, a war brewing for Titan's resources, the sun struggling to shine through a vast array of PV's, and to make matters worse, Alpha Centurions prohibiting our entry into their quadrants.

Which may be partly why I think fusion will never happen for us.

"At the end of it, the solar system will be a disaster, with orbits severely perturbed, Earth half-baked..."

It's called a placenta.

Oh ya, that's right.

If you could move Venus out a bit you might be onto a winner.

PV panels on towers above the clouds driving rail guns to accelerate bits of the planet to escape velocity. I wonder how much of its mass you would have to eject to nudge it into the Goldilocks Zone?

Unsure, but is Venus somehow tidally-locked or something with Earth, and would nudging Venus also nudge Earth? At the same time, would Venus, without a moon, respond similarly to Earth with regard to tectonics, tides or carbon cycling, etc.?
Well, I suppose we could get Venus and Earth to somehow dance around each other as a binary planet system, and drag the moon over to mars for some tidal friction or added mass, thus, gravity. Just fly the moon over with a few Planet Class fusion engines attached.

To terraform Venus remove most of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, add water and create a magnetic field to deflect the solar wind. It does not need to be moved farther from Sun.

Piece of cake. Sounds like a school science project.

With folks with weird sci-fi names like Jedi Welder, Bluetwilight and Tribe Of Pangaea- First Member, etc., I wouldn't doubt it.

I imagine you'd be in charge of something like attaching the fusion engines to the planets/planetoids and/or working with related hardware; Bluetwilight, controlling/monitoring orbits relative to sun and/or effects of terraforming on atmospheres, and me? Maybe plate-tectonics vi-a-vis human immigration or somesuch.

We're in the wrong times, Jed, we're in the wrong times. Seems we always are. The grass is always greener there, even if the twilights might have a bluish tint sometimes.

"Comment number 333 from IO, over and out."

This is right. I was born in the wrong time on so many levels.

Low EROEI is not a fundamental limit to an ever increasing population, as long as it is greater than one *and* the current population lives only on "interest". Take PV at 3:1 return over a 30 year life, to pick some numbers. In a no-growth scenario that panel can supply the energy for its replacement, plus twice that energy for general use.

But cut that general use in half and there is enough energy to make two panels. The energy supply could double every 30 years (and population if that is the goal). Making the jump to asteroid mining and orbiting PV panels would after millenia result in a Dyson sphere. Possibly the only method that could support the long term expansion of a civilization, but it would require careful husbanding of the early energy flow to make the initial jump to space.

The 'system' is self sustaining and far more robust than people give it credit for. Effectively that which we cannot do consciously ourselves is taken care of by the 'invisible hand' so to speak. We humans aren't so good at taking the action to sacrifice the 1 person to save the 6 people on the track if we have to throw the 'fatty' ourselves. However we're very good at letting the fatty get hit by the train in order to serve the greater good. People accept new realities very quickly but struggle to take pre-emptive action, like alcoholics can finally give up the drink when it is the difference between life and death but cannot make that same leap a decade earlier.

What happens to the empire when it goes into decline? The outside edges flay and the inside crumbles, so to speak the crumbling of the U.S. infrastructure and the loss of peripheral countries like Egypt, Syria etc are both symptoms of the same decline. As much as people like to pick on say the U.S.A. as a country which typifies excess resource consumption over locally available resources, there are many places where that 'sucking sound' is more than a distant echo. I seriously wonder what the hell people in countries like Saudi Arabia are going to do when we start talking about net food exports in the same way that we talk about net oil exports?

The 'system' is self sustaining and far more robust than people give it credit for. ~ Squilliam

Robust/self-sustaining at what? Wrecking the planet?

...we're on a systematic treadmill that we no longer control. A system which encourages positive feedbacks whilst isolating itself from the effects of negative feedbacks. We humans are a catalyst to the system and the technicians that run it, but have no real control over it... ~ Burgundy

Around about the moment our ancestors (I interpret part of these scenes perhaps inversely/differently to how Arthur C. Clarke may have intended) began throwing spears at prey way back when on the plains of Africa, they, paradoxically, both empowered and dis-empowered themselves. Locked-in; locked-out.

They de-democratized themselves from mother nature. They put shoes on their feet that became soft and a razorwire jacket that both cuts and protects. A death-of-a-thousand-cuts for protection.

More remote and disconnected, the experience was different than the legs, fangs and claws control and connection of the lions of their own prey-- the feeling, taste, smell immediacies and skills and understandings that came from that.

When we flush our wastes down the toilet, it goes remote.
When we turn on our taps, the water comes from somewhere remote. (Or are you lapping up your water from a river? Or a plastic bottle?)
Food is remote. (1000 mile Caesar's salad)
Clothes are remote. (made in Bangladesh)
Household items are remote. (made in China)
Housing (materials) is remote.
Education is remote.
Love/Communication is remote. (Internet/Skype)
When we drive around in our cars, our experience of the neighborhoods we go through is remote. Our urban landscapes are apparently designed around this disconnect; designed around our cars, our metal speed-cocoons. This also affects the pedestrians as another kind of sense-of-disconnection in the same neighborhoods. Kunstler of course talks about this.
Certain speeds are disconnects.
Our workaday time is disconnected from the seasons and even daylight and our own rhythms. Who do we work for/with? Where do they live when they return home?
How do we travel? In tourist-bubble resorts? Camper camping? Tourist-bubble Tours with non-locals like ourselves?

Our systemic complexification appears as a double-edged sword which has extended and continues to extend into all areas of our lives-- social, technological, etc..

Some people seem to talk about Obama as though they know him, as though he lives in the same village maybe as an elder who joins the nightly campfires and who can be spoken with, maybe persuaded to change a decision or two. But he is illusory, remote, disconnected, as most are relative to him.

I'm going to bet that fusion reactors will prove to be god's technology, and god's alone, that it will prove to be a Fermi threshold impasse... and that, if it's not already too late, re-wilding or the proverbial Duncan Olduvai Gorge may be our only hope if we simply can't, within our collective hallucinations, wrap our heads around our own paradox.

Despite our brilliance; a species of "lowly" fish, say, that preceded us by millennia, will outlive us by millennia more, and prove this brilliance but a mere flash-in-the-pan; ephemeral as to be almost an illusion.

According to Baudrillard

...reality exists only as rotting shreds that are attached to the map. And this is the state of our age... that the model [the "map"], itself, has primacy for us; the real has become irrelevant, if undefinable, and clings only as vestiges. And he's coined the phrase, 'the desert of the real', to describe the state of our age.

One contribution to this "map" would seem to be the act of making/throwing the spear, rather than the killing of the prey.

Yes, the System separates us from our natural environment by inserting technology between us. All part of the systemic process of converting the natural to the synthetic. Humans are also being processed in this way, being slowly adapted and synthesized. People who cannot eat synthesized foods (ie. processed foods or genetically modified) are being removed from the gene pool or technology developed to adapt them to it (eg. diabetic drugs, etc.), damaged humans are made whole again with prosthetics (which will become increasingly robotic), cosmetic surgery is reformatting our bodies, sports technology is enhancing our abilities, etc. The increased emphasis on the para-Olympics for example is no surprise due to its usefulness in developing these new technologies. We're basically being systematically de-humanised, an obvious necessity if we are to function in a World that no longer supports organic life. Women's wombs will increasingly be used by the System to adapt humans, were conception, genetic traits, nurturing, etc are under systemic control.

Its taken a long time for the System to develop to the level of sophistication and complexity its achieved, but the pace is now incredibly fast, possibly going exponential. This means our natural organic world is being ravaged and destroyed ever faster, and we ourselves have not achieved the level of sophistication and complexity were we can live without it. This massive crisis for humanity will be an exceptional opportunity for the System to develop even faster with many impediments to progress removed due to the urgency the crisis engenders. On a smaller scale we can see something similar going on in the financial subsystem where systemic development has accelerated due to crisis and now becoming increasingly centralised via Central Banks. For us humans our finances and economy is being ravaged and destroyed making us poorer, but the financial system is advancing technically at a rapid pace making the System ever stronger and the organic world weaker.

It might sound like science fiction, but its not. And noting PI's unusual view, on a different thread, that somehow warnings of future dangers are assimilated into written works for future generations, then we've been well warned. Although the way I look at it is that we're gradually introduced to our future to ameliorate the shock and smooth the transition. When it arrives we are fully familiar with it and accept it as normal.

Brave New World...

Somehow, this strikes me as a touch overdramatic.

Dunno why, but seriously, human extinct in 100 years?

Please. Gimme a break.

Sure a full scale thermonuke war could happen, but no one can guarantee it with any accuracy. And unless he or she knows about some astronomical event that the rest of us don't well, this is just dumb.

I'm not saying that everything will be honkey dory for us humans, I'm just saying that extinction just isn't in the cards in the short run barring some astonishing event. Neither climate change nor peak oil will do it. Humanity will go on. Much diminished for sure, but go on.

If humans continue on their current trajectory, they might as well become extinct, because what they leave behind may be unbearable, if not unlivable. Perhaps this 100-year timeline is (also) an attempt to wake some people up from their complacency-- you know, like, "Crisis? What Crisis? Gimme a break.". (Who's that under the parasol?)

Many people have little faith that this trajectory can be changed and feel that it may already be too late and that 100 years, give or take, for this kind of trajectory to conclude seems about right.

I don't suppose you need to be reminded or informed of increasing human population, desertification, deforestation or soil-depletion; or that a significant extinction event is apparently already be underway; or the effects of severely melting Arctic ice and the resulting exposed open ocean; or mention, say, Bartlett's class lecture on the exponential function; or how chaos seems to work, do you?

Status of Colonial Pipeline Terminal in New York City Area ?

Is it operational, or shut down, or operating at limited capacity ?

If shut down, gas lines will be chronic till fixed.

Any news ?


According to yesterdays DOE's report #13 the Colonial should be open to the Linden, NJ facility and feeding the Buckeye pipeline.


if you are out there i meant to say your bug-out bit a few days ago was very good. your stuff is good, kinda like The Brother by Flann O'B. Ive no way to msg you on this

A newsletter pitch which makes my toes curl:

Hopefully it made your toes curl because of its outlandish waste of your time to view it, only to be presented with utter unsubstantiated hogwash propaganda!

Good gravy, I can remember fear-mongers going ape-xxxx crazy fantasizing about the 'plan' for Clinton to have a third term!

I certainly don't want to think anyone is naive enough to be enthralled by this hokum!

I also heard zealous propaganda from the left fear-mongering that we would have 16-24 continuous years of the Bush dynasty as well (not counting GHW of course)...the site you linked to is an example of the worst of American political propaganda...hopefully next we won't be seeing links to "2016" or Alex Jones's stuff posted here...

Aside from the Obama stuff (the background story was new to me - the fact that is a precendent for a president having more than 2 terms - the LNG company he's refering to is Cheniere (ticker LNG) but that company has a number of issues.
Generally though it captured all the mistakes people make in analyzing the US energy situation - not differentiating between reserves and production, leaving production costs out of the equation, not understanding that fracing is not new, claiming the US is a net exporter etcetc. And these people sell a lot of newsletters so people are actually willing to pay to be misinformed. Interesting aspect of human psychology.

I think he's going to win, and I'm a bit worried about how many people have become as strident and deluded as Stansberry..

I do think Obama tried to deal with the polarization and open some doors.. but I don't know if it's possible with the fear that surrounds the changes we are about to start seeing. I think a lot of people sense that things are shifting, even if many try to keep the 'same-old^2' a rockin' and a rollin' and flat out deny the calls that beg them to accept that the terms are coming up for renegotiation, if you will.

As it was said so well by the once and future Captain of the Starship Enterprise,

James T. Kirk: It's about the future, Madame Chancellor. Some people think the future means the end of history. Well...We haven't run out of history quite yet. Your father called the future...the undiscovered country. People can be very frightened of change.

.. of course, the bit from Hamlet (?) would sound much better in the original Klingon, but alas!

Tales from the front...

Talked to someone who was sent from central NY to the area just north of NYC to help with damage assessment. He says as you go south, you see more and more signs of gas panic. North of Newburgh/Beacon, it's pretty much BAU. Prices are still dropping, and there are no lines or shortages. Around Newburgh, you start to notice that there are a lot more people getting gas than is usual, and the price is maybe thirty or forty cents higher. By Ossining, it's a madhouse. Most gas stations are closed, with tape around their pumps or "no gas" signs out front. Cars are lined up for blocks at gas stations that have gas, or are even rumored to have it. People spent hours in line at a closed gas station starting early this morning, in hopes of a delivery. Cops have to direct traffic and keep order.

He has this GPS software he uses for damage assessment. You can click on a road and rate the damage - nothing wrong, totally impassable, one lane open, two lanes open but shoulders blocked, etc. Then there's a pulldown menu to explain why the road is impassable. Debris, snow and ice, flooding, structural failure, etc. He says for the first time he couldn't pick a reason for two road closures. They had been blocked off by the cops to keep people from cutting in line for gas.

That sounds correct. (lower) Westchester is pretty much dry as is most of Queens and Brooklyn. And forget about NJ - That is a total mess. A couple of friends of mine have been relying on generators but are now out of gas, and most hotels also are not operational.
Yesterday a convoy of cherry picker like trucks from Texas went over the Queensboro bridge escorted by police towards Queens/LI.
On the plus side though at JFK this morning a couple of military planes (I think 6 or so) landed with equipment to help fix the power situation. I know because the pilot of the flight I was on explained why we had a delayed take off.
I think they were mainly trucks etc, not generators.
p.s. Should make traffic more bearable though.

Yes, it's typical for utility vehicles to be delivered to areas needing them (along with the crews to operate them). You see them after big snow or ice storms, easily spotted because the license plates are from all over the country. They just load them up in C-5s and fly them in. (And the local crews return the favor, taking their trucks to other states when needed.)

You gotta wonder how well this system will hold up in the post=peak era.

People get really, really cranky when the power is out. Forget three meals. Three days without power, and it starts to get hairy. Con-Ed workers say three days is the point when people start going nutty. They make violent threats at people in hard hats (like that's going to help), demand that they get priority "because I have kids," have a fit if they see crews working somewhere else, or worse, not working.

I hadn't heard about the trucks being loaded on a C5. Usually in the past when we have had hurricane damage, the trucks just drive from neighboring states. But when the scope of the disaster is smaller, that type of thing is sufficient - you don't hear about trucks from the west coast, for example, but I gather there are such trucks now working in NJ.

I saw a report in the news this evening that the number of people without power is now below 2 million - down from 8.5 million at the peak. And a small number of customers had their homes damaged to such a degree that they won't have power restored anytime soon. But if you are one of the ones without power, it feels like it is too long.

There is this perverse thing that happens when you lose power. You also lose access to information, so you don't know the extent of the damage elsewhere. When the derecho came through last summer, we lost power, but we had no clue the extent of the damage until we went out the next morning to try and find a place to get some breakfast.

I was without power for 5 days and a few hours during Isaac. Sweating enough to get some heat stress and a rash - but I did not note any great animosity, aggression, etc.

Best Hopes for Comity in Difficult Times,


A power outage in the winter is a different beast from a power outage in the summer - there are many different considerations.

In the summer, keeping food from going bad is a huge problem, there is the discomfort associated with the heat.

In the winter, keeping food from going bad is a lot easier, but the challenge is staying warm. If it gets to be cold enough and you don't have the correct type of survival gear, you can freeze to death. Depending on the type of water heater you have, you may have to endure an ice-cold shower or even go without. The days are shorter, so the darkness is more of an issue. People stay indoors more to try and stay warmer, which leads to more feelings of isolation.

Some people may have generators, and some people may have a fireplace, which can take the edge off of the cold.

I was without gas service for 8 or so months after Katrina.

Gas water heater = VERY cold showers or baths, especially in the winter. We exchanged tips.

Mine was put about 2.5 inches of water in bathtub two hours before. Put electrical heater in bathroom. Close door.

Flop around in warm air and coldish water.

Leave bathroom door open afterwards to let heat out.


My technique for icy cold showers:

Turn on on shower, jump in.
Dance and scream for a few seconds as the water flays you alive.
Turn off, jump out, and soap yourself.
Now you're full of soap. There's no option. You have to go back in to wash the suds off.

It's painful, but it brings a healthy glow to the skin.

Mine is 'don't take the shower' ..

A bowl of hot soapy water and a sponge will have to do!

This is laugh out loud funny. The darndest thing is that I've had a show or two like this. Fastest showers I've ever had.

Thank god the dancing helps warm you up after the fact.

It is normal after a big storm for electrical workers from outside of the local area to be brought in. Over 100 workers from Hydro One in Ontario plus workers from various municipal hydro companies in Ontario are down in New York state working on restoring power. Presumably there were a lot of American electrical workers helping to restore power after the ice storm we experienced in Ontario in 1998. The damage from that storm to the electrical grid was far in excess of what any hurricane could do and given that the storm occured in the winter months it was even more critical to get power restored as quickly as possible.

This storm was so well predicted that many of these out of state crews were prepositioned staying in hotels/motels a couple of days before the storm hit.

And then we have this:

NYC bracing for more heavy weather
Falling temperatures put thousands without power at risk

It appears Mother Nature isn't quite finished with New York City yet.

The National Weather Service predicted Sunday that a Nor'easter with gusts of up to 90 km/h is likely to reach the area by Wednesday and could compound the havoc brought by Superstorm Sandy. "Prepare for more outages," weather service meteorologist Joe Pollina advised. "Stay indoors, [s]tock up again." He said the new storm wouldn't be nearly as strong as Sandy, but could pack winds "stronger than usual, even strong for a Nor'easter."

The worrisome forecast came as falling temperatures on Sunday put more people at risk in a region already battling gasoline shortages, stubborn power outages and spasms of lawlessness.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/11/04/sandy-newyork.html?cmp=rss

Currently, 7°C with an expected low of 2°C overnight.


I saw a report in the news about the percentage of homes that now have portable generators.

Before Y2K, only about 3 percent of American homes had generators, according to an investor presentation by Generac. By 2011, that figure had risen to about 12 percent nationally, the company estimated, and it figures to go higher this year.

Fuel is always a consideration however. I was talking with someone the other day who was interested in a natural gas powered generator, but was told that his natural gas service lines couldn't handle the volume required.

These could help during hours of daylight...I saw a unit similar to this at a local 'Doggie Dash and Dawdle' event today (several thousand people and many hundreds of dogs, good times!)...no gas or diesel generator noise, fumes, refueling chores, maintenance...


I can't believe the PV people didn't grab the great opportunity to show their stuff after the hurricane. Send a bunch of trucks with fold out PV and offer free juice, cool, etc etc, all over the devastated parts of the state. Gee, could have done a lot of good as well as assured a market.

Whats'a matter with these people?

Whats'a matter with these people?

Nuthin! There just ain't enough of em, (YET!) to counter all the brainwashing about solar not working!

Greenpeace surveys Hurricane Sandy damage, provides power from solar truck
Posted on November 2, 2012 by Cassady Sharp

Below are photos of Hurricane Sandy damage along the New Jersey and New York coast as well as Greenpeace’s solar truck, the Rolling Sunlight, as it provides power for residents to charge cell phones.


What the EROI on truck mounted PV?

It perhaps could have been a clever publicity stunt, but could also have backfired very badly.

People are very sensitive about exploiting emergencies for commercial gain and the truck mounted PV systems could look at a lot more like advertising than assistance.

People are very sensitive about exploiting emergencies for commercial gain and the truck mounted PV systems could look at a lot more like advertising than assistance.

Oh fer crimminy's sake!

How about all the selfless individuals who brought in truckloads of gasoline powered generators to SELL to the people who are now standing in line at the gas stations waiting for hours with their jerry cans?!

You wouldn't perchance call that exploiting emergencies for commercial gain, now would you?!

Damn, I hate hypocrisy!

"Damn, I hate hypocrisy!"

Me too. I think both the gas salespeople and the solar self promoters would be likely targets of resentment.

However, the gas sellers are nameless and so don't suffer from damage to their reputations.

Wimbi was suggesting this would be publicity bonanza. I don't agree.

By the way, your accusation of hypocrisy in this case is baseless slander. I did not advocate any form of exploitation of people in need.

By the way, your accusation of hypocrisy in this case is baseless slander. I did not advocate any form of exploitation of people in need.

My apologies! I didn't intend to personally call you a hypocrite.

I just find the general mindset, of not even blinking an eye, if someone profits from bringing in gasoline powered generators to provide power in an emergency, whereas should that same power be from a solar panel, to be suddenly wanting to walk on eggshells, so as not to come across as being exploitative... that just rubs me the wrong way!

Again it's not personal, I'm just really tired of that sh!t!

Understood. I know you're a good guy and didn't actually take it personally.

I see a lot of grey area in both solar and generator cases. I don't think either is evil or good. The article below, by a liberal columnist who I tend to like, points out some of the flaws in the knee jerk anti-gouging reactions.


If I didn't think to buy a generator in time and someone showed up to sell me one at my time of greatest need, but at a higher price, it might be welcome. My mother, for example, just spent four days without power. I would have happily been gouged if someone could have showed up and connected her to heat, even if they profited from it. I have a lot more admiration for charitable actions, but I don't necessarily condemn those with baser motives.

Then again, I try to avoid puritanism, and don't really condemn people for two many things.

I do agree that hypocrisy is a huge vice, but you already know that we are human. We are rationalization machines and inherent hypocrites. No one is free from it.

I really don't see the solar promotion idea as any different from the generator sales idea. Both would be people taking advantage of a situation in which people are distressed by providing some relief, motived by profit.

I really don't see the solar promotion idea as any different from the generator sales idea. Both would be people taking advantage of a situation in which people are distressed by providing some relief, motived by profit.


However you might have noticed I posted a link to a picture of the Greenpeace Solar truck and they were just providing free electricity to whoever happened to need it. Hopefully the meme was being promoted for free as well.

BTW, For the record I happen to have a strong negative reaction to profit motives at the expense of people in need.

I think most people have a strong initial negative reaction to profit motive at the expense of people in need.

But "expense" is the key word here.

How different is it to say profit motive that benefits people in need?

At the end of the day, I would guess that something near 100% of people would agree that markets are the best means of making decisions and allocating resources in some cases, and non-market based systems in other cases.

It is really just a case where you draw the line. My feeling is that human attempts to eliminate markets or to depend too heavily on them where they don't work have both been very damaging.

I'm not sure that there would be a better way to get generators to people in need than others sell them that doesn't require hindsight.

FM - I understand your position. As a child growing up I Nawlins I saw exploitation after hurricanes and how some locals responded to it. But at which point does providing a commercial service turn into exploitation? A 5% ROR...10%...20%? Real life example of how well intended laws to prevent exploitation can have those unintended consequences. During the last hurricane that ripped up Mississippi a fellow in Arkansas (?) bought 100 or so portable generators, contracted truck transport and had them hauled to Mobile. I don't recall how much above cost he was selling them but it didn't matter: MS law was simple: it's a violation to sell any product above actual cost during a declared emergency. So his effort was shut down almost immediately. And the law didn't allow for transportation or finance costs (the guy borrowed money from the bank) or profit. If he paid $1,000 for a generator in AK he couldn't sell it for 1 penny more in MS. And the sad irony: all the generators were confiscated and locked up as evidence until the trial: no one was able to use them.

So I agree that no one should "exploit" such situations but if someone conducts a business enterprise that aids folks in an emergency should they be allowed to make some profit if they chose to? Otherwise we would depend on folks expending money and effort with no compensation. There would certainly be some who might do so. But that would be a smaller pool without folks wanting to make some profit.

I think it's even complicated when you look at a fixed inventory already in place. A gas station has fuel in its tanks so no added cost to supply the public. OTOH once the tanks are empty and there are no deliveries for days/weeks the station's revenue goes to zero. But the fixed costs don't. If the station bumps the price up X cents per gallon it would be getting more per gallon. But revenue for that period might be much lower after it runs dry. So what's fair in that case?

Kinda like the old SCOTUS line: I can't define pornography (or price gouging) but I know it when I see. Is it possible to recognize gouging if you don't know the details?


If you are still reading this.

So I agree that no one should "exploit" such situations but if someone conducts a business enterprise that aids folks in an emergency should they be allowed to make some profit if they chose to?

I think they absolutely should be able to make a profit, within reason!

However my point was only that there should be no difference in how one looks at such an enterprise based solely on the fact that it is apparently insensitive or exploitative to promote solar while at the same time considering gasoline generators to be a service or a necessity and therefore OK...

If I can provide power at a reasonable cost that should be sufficient! Not to mention that solar doesn't cause deaths from carbon monoxide poisioning >;-)

I dunno. Tide has that giant truck they take to disaster areas, so people without water/power can do their laundry. It's obviously an ad, but there has apparently been no backlash, since they use it in their TV commercials.

They're in New Jersey now.

I used their service a couple of times and I appreciated it.

It still influences which detergent I grab. VERY effective "advertising".

Best Hopes for More Such Advertising,


"What is the EROI on truck-mounted PV?"

...about as heavily burdened as the EROI of a truck-mounted generator.

The generator requires a continuous logistical support chain delivering a supply of fuel. The solar-powered photovoltaic power source offers relief without this umbilical and its limitations, including those of site selection and cost/duration of service.

Here are some more portable power solutions:


Nice image:

Here is one based on a shipping container:

Greenpeace's truck:


Here's a smaller truck:

The solar ice-pops truck:

This fun project, lead by Jason Anello, is going to roll towns wherein this solar power company (Sungevity) operates and hand out free, artisanally-made popsicles to the energy- (and apparently popsicle-) consuming public. With any luck, the combination of sugar, facts, and the threat-of-humanity’s-self-inflicted-demise-owing-to-dirty-energy will be persuasive enough to get some people off the grid.

A trailer:

An interesting idea: SOLAR ZAPTRUCK:
notanoilman, NOAM, would like this one!

The army wants portable solar:

Perhaps EROI isn't really the question... anymore than it would be in an ambulance.

Here is a stunningly poorly thought-out embodiment if the need is felt to critique something:
All the controls/etc. sheer off in the first transportation and then it floods in the rain.


... I like the cab of that truck.
...the article says they quit using them after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

I wonder if people would run toward it or away from it?

Pripyat graffiti

Hehe, yep, I do like that xebra truck, way better for hauling a few odd items around than a 3 ton, 6l SUV. In fact, I like most of the ideas and they show that solar works. Most, I have to agree on that trueenergyvalue, total lack of engineering.


I wonder how many of the PV panels that NJ has up on its utility poles went down with the storm?

I had mixed feelings when I saw that stuff getting put in. Good Impulse, questionable design..

here's one in a snippet that got either 'Looted or Recycled', depending on your perspective, I guess..

"the other involving an elderly woman and her son who allegedly stole a solar panel from a storm-damaged PSE&G utility pole on Berwyn Place. "

Here is this company's election of PV trailers...they are equipped with batteries, I assume to smooth out transient blanking from scattered clouds? The web page says that hybrid trailers are available that also have FF generators (for cloudy days, nights, etc). The largest trailers (40' long) have hefty output...


The PV trailer I saw at the event today was from a different, local company.

Some folks buy 5 and 10 kW whole-home generators and expect to operate them 24/7 (what do they want to do? run a couple load of laundry through the dryer?). I bought a Yamaha 2400is portable generator which is large enough to power our two refrigerators and oil-fired boiler simultaneously. I figure two hours a day would provide us with enough heat and hot water to make life tolerable during the coldest days of the year (and, most importantly, prevent the pipes from freezing), recharge our cellphones and laptops, and keep the frozen food frozen. If there's a strong possibility that you'll be without power for a week or more, then you'll want to husband whatever fuel you have on-hand to the best of your ability.


Ha! My wife wanted to be able to run our zoned AC if we got one!

We already had a little one which worked fine for laptops, phones, flashlights, etc. 5KW would do the furnace and everything else important.

There are tri-fuel rigs, static or portable, which could run of NG if available (which here it most often is, even when electricity is out) or gas otherwise.

I'm torn, though, between a genny that would be cheaper and flexible, versus solar panels that would offer value all the time, and help some during failures. I suppose a wealthier man could say "both".

Solar PV (minus tax credit) gives a monthly return on the electrical bill - generators simply do not.

A small amount of power goes a LONG way in an outage.

Recharge cell phone, run refrigerator during day, microwave a bit (hot water + instant coffee = satisfied addict !), run TV during the day, one or two LED bulbs (say 9.7 watt L-Prize) at night.

Even cloudy days can produce enough power for minimal use (check the #s).


Agree completely on the "little power goes a LONG ways". Just our little, old, generator plus a good stock of LED flashlights and batteries (including rechargeables) not only kept us well-lit and connected with cell-phones and laptops, but also kept the kids entertained with their electronic toys.

A decent sleeping bag helps too -- we had no worries about cold except frozen pipes. A family in front of even a poor fireplace is still better than staying warm in a tent or a campfire (which I've done any number of times for "fun").

Our days are short this time of year and, today, we might have had ten or fifteen minutes of what could pass as sunshine, if you were so kind. Our number one priority is to keep the pipes from freezing and for that we require a reliable power source to operate our boiler and circulator pumps be it day or night. For us, the Yamaha is a good fit (we stabilize and rotate our supply of gas, fire it up every other month or so and change the oil as prescribed and, so far, it hasn't let us down).


Well, I hate to butt in here with a holier-than-thou remark, but I am compelled to because I am.

First, I made that bark about the PV people taking commercial advantage of the storm aftermath because I think PV has gotta be sold hard, and deserves to be. It could be done in a good way like anything else.

And, sure, it also could be done in a bad way, like anything else.

And as for generators/PV. That's why I have worked so long on stirlings. I have one now that in a pinch could eat chairs, dogfood, broken limbs, 2x4's etc, and put out perfectly good 120VAC. This along with a bit of PV and a mighty good cosy comforter, make us fairly bullet-proof. And it could be cheap too if somebody spent some effort on doing it right, instead of slap-dash the way I do things.

And, of course, we all know that we could redo our entire infrastructure so a very little power could go a very long way. First step in that direction is to quit doing the silly stuff we do now and redirect that effort to what counts.

Wouldn't it be nice if we rebuilt right, instead of wrong?

Yeah, Paleo, I generally take the 'Get Both' option, but as I am decidedly NOT a richer man, I get even smaller versions of both. I have a couple little, used generators (2kw and 4kw), and if I can keep them both running, I'll be able to get stabs of emergency power to help both my buildings when needed. (One is a Three-Apt Rental) .. and I also have a VERY modest amount of PV on both of them (~40-45 watts each ATM) with a couple hundred Watt-hours (Not KWH) of storage.. sort of enough to keep emergency and a bit of task lighting going, as well as charge the odd I-phone and run a radio or three. The great thing about PV is that it's easily expandible and is also re-configurable.. and it starts and stops itself automatically on a light-cue!

There are also various bits of Solar Heating and Wood Heat Options that are growing at each one.

Both-And .. and then some!

If your freezer is similar to mine, then you will need thermal mass (frozen brine) and to run it 4 or 5 hours/day in Summer to keep the food frozen. Less time is needed in winter depending on the ambient temperature.

I suspect you're right -- the required runtime during the summer months for refrigeration is likely double what I had in mind. Fortunately, the "smart throttle" on the EF2400is allows you to eke-out up to eight and a half hours of operation per 6 litre fill under light loads. We keep about 40 litres of gasoline on hand at all times, so 50 hours is probably a rough rule of thumb, or 10 to 12 days under ideal conditions.


It probably makes most sense to get a tri-fuel generator if you're going to get one as a backup. They can burn gasoline, NG and propane (essentially it has a fancy carburator) and doesn't cost much more than a straight NG or gasoline one. The panel and switch you need to use a generator safely are pretty cheap - 200 bucks or so for a small one.

Bah! I am getting a wood stove installed in our basement this winter or else. It's Regina Saskatchewan, no hurricanes, but there's still winter storms, ice storms, tornadoes especially in spring. I gotta get my rear in gear, I have been muttering that I will do this for too long.

I do have an inverter that I can plug into the car, lots of power cords and try to keep the gas tank full. Also I have a good next-door neighbor with two wood stoves, and a lot of hungry young men as sons (we store about 6 months of food), can always trade a bit.

Wherever you are, it seems only prudent to be able to go for a week on your own without power or water, just in case...

Power outages are no big problem if you are into camping and have good sleeping bags and a camping stove. We've got winter bags and could survive even the coldest winter weather without power. An unheated house is still a better shelter than what I have when winter camping with my Scouts.

It can certainly be done, I've done hiking in -3C to -5C (add windchill and it goes to -10C), but it's not fun and it requires immense mental and physical strength, most people break down quickly in those situations, esp given the amenities that modern civilization provides. And this ain't no boy scout group, you are talking about unfit, sick people, the kids and elderly.

Amazing that 20 miles makes that much difference. Surely that far from Manhattan most people have cars? Why wouldn't those that do drive the 20 miles, load up on gas for themselves and a couple of others, and return? A pickup or even a car with a Uhaul could transport a lot of gas.

You point out an important fact: People just keep on doing the routine thing.

It is amazing to see the freeway completely clogged (the 405) and right next to it is a free-running boulevard running the whole length of the freeway with hardly a soul on it (Sepulveda)... especially when you're viewing that boulevard from the freeway and just too lazy to get off and deal with the change in routine! The hippocampus knows the way and arousing the neocortex is a lot more of a do.

I've been wondering if they have their engines running while waiting or if they stop them then restart to move a few yards because the vehicles are too heavy for an unfit land-whale to push?