DrumBeat: October 11, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 10/11/06 at 9:29 AM EDT]

One More Reason Prices Are Falling

Floating oil factories allow tankers to load at sea, avoiding political instability and saving billions

Nigeria is a rough place to do business. In the past year, rebels seeking a greater share of the country's energy wealth have bombed Royal Dutch Shell's pipelines and kidnapped its workers. The oil giant was forced to shut down half of its production there, most of which is situated in the Niger River Delta, a steamy swampland populated by farmers, fishermen, and angry militias.

Far out at sea, the situation is much safer. Since late last year, Shell has been extracting oil from its massive Bonga field, a $3.6 billion project located in 3,200 feet of water. The field now yields more than 200,000 barrels a day, thanks to a high-tech facility called a floating production, storage, and offloading vessel, or FPSO. It looks like an oil tanker and can hold up to 2 million barrels in its belly, but its primary purpose is to load up tankers out at sea, rather than piping the crude to an onshore terminal. The oil streaming in from Bonga and other deepwater sites like it helps explain why oil prices have settled down to under $60 from a July high of $78.

[Update by Leanan on 10/11/06 at 9:23 AM EDT]

Eco-Kremlin: Russia targets energy giants

MOSCOW - Western firms developing Russia's rich oil and gas fields are facing sweeping allegations of environmental abuses. But critics say the charges are a thinly veiled Kremlin power play to renege on 1990s-era contracts now seen as unfavorable for Russia.

Oil up after OPEC confirms output cut

Oil prices rose Wednesday after the president of OPEC confirmed that the organization will cut global crude production by 1 million barrels a day to prop up the market.

"The cut itself is agreed," OPEC President Edmund Daukoru told reporters in Abuja, Nigeria, adding the cut would begin at the end of the month. He said members were "nearing consensus" on how to share out the cuts.

EIA: OPEC September Oil Output down 80,000 B/D At 27.64 Million B/D

Crude oil output from the 10 members in OPEC's quota system averaged 27.64 million barrels a day in September, 1.3% below the agreed output ceiling and 80,000 barrels a day lower from a month earlier, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.

Shell says 60 oil workers kidnapped in Niger Delta, flow station shut

Armed youths in Nigeria's restive Niger Delta seized a flow station run by oil company Shell and took 60 workers hostage, causing a production loss of some 12,000 barrels of oil per day, the company has said.

Canada's Harper says new clean air act coming

Indonesia cancels ExxonMobil's Natuna gas contract

Indonesia has terminated a contract with ExxonMobil Corp to drill a major offshore gas field in the Natuna Sea off the west coast of Borneo, in a move that may alarm foreign investors.

ExxonMobil however said that the contract stood firm as it was extendable and they were still working to develop the field.

American Secret? India Becomes The Gasoline Gusher

Saudi to Halt Gasoline Imports with Low-Octane Fuel

Saudi Arabia, where high crude prices have caused oil demand to soar, may be able to temporarily stop importing over 500,000 barrels a month of gasoline when it starts selling a lower-octane grade at retail pumps from January.

Germany’s E.ON Ruhrgas Welcomes Gazprom’s Decision on Shtokman Development

German utility giant E.ON Ruhrgas AG said on Wednesday, Oct. 11, that it welcomes Gazprom’s decision to develop the vast Shtokman gas deposit on its own and to export the greater part of gas to Europe via the Nord Stream gas pipeline.

Bodman: U.S. will accept Venezuelan oil charity

U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman on Tuesday said he would not turn down charitable donations of cheap heating fuels this winter, even if it comes from a Venezuelan leader who called President Bush "the devil."

Beyond Fossil Fuels

Thirty years of research at the private and government level, here and abroad, have produced a range of new technologies that can help turn abundant energy sources — wind, biomass, solar, even water itself — into alternative fuels. These fuels, in turn, can help keep our cars running and our power plants humming, while reducing both our reliance on unstable Middle Eastern oil producers and our contributions to dangerous climate change.

Department of Energy Funds cyanobacteria sequencing project

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has devoted $1.6 million to sequencing the DNA of six photosynthetic bacteria that Washington University in St. Louis biologists will examine for their potential as one of the next great sources of biofuel that can run our cars and warm our houses.

Paint the train green

A traveller going to Paris and back on Eurostar generates 10 times less carbon dioxide than someone making the same journey by air.

Locked-in fuel oil price no bargain now

When James Schwartz signed a contract last summer locking in home heating oil for the winter at $2.79 a gallon, it seemed like a safe bet. Crude oil prices had surged and gasoline was above three bucks a gallon. Could $3 fuel oil be far behind?

But crude has dropped nearly 25 percent from its mid-July peak of $78.40 a barrel. And other heating-oil customers in the Baltimore area are paying as little $2.12 a gallon to heat their homes — 24 percent less than Schwartz is paying.

As Oil Ebbs: The nation still needs a sane energy policy.

Rate hike will fuel PGW debate

The Philadelphia Gas Works is a slow-motion crisis that everyone sees coming - and no one seems capable of stopping.

Suspicion Surrounds Retreat In Gas Prices, Poll Finds

Three out of 10 Americans think the recent fall in gasoline prices is a result of domestic political factors, including White House and Republican Party efforts to influence the November elections. That's nearly as many as the 35 percent who attribute the recent price decline to market forces or supply and demand, according to the poll of 1,204 adults conducted from Thursday to Sunday.

The survey also showed that suspicions about the steep drop in gasoline prices over the past two months aren't limited to the nation's liberal strongholds. Sixteen percent of people who identified themselves as conservative Republicans, 26 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 29 percent of Southern residents think the plunge in prices is linked to the coming election or other political reasons.

Bad weather shuts down Alaska pipeline

Oil production at Prudhoe Bay was cut to 10 percent of normal output after a power outage, and more weather related problems forced the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to temporarily go offline.

The pipeline was down for about 10 hours Tuesday after flooding in Valdez likely knocked out fiber-optic communications at five valves on the pipeline.

The Flying Elephant

Over just the last three years we've seen some staggering upward jerks in the fuel price. And it is common sense to believe that a finite resource, a limited resource that is becoming expensive, will become even more expensive in the future. In this scenario, an airline won't be able to feed elephantine aircraft massive quantities of fuel. Airlines will need to be smaller, and more flexible. Aircraft will have to be fuel efficient above all, and that implies excellent power-to-weight-to-cost ratios.

Price soars for scarce pellets

Dingmans Ferry, Pa. — Roxane Sanford just wants to turn the heat on in her home. But that's not as easy as it sounds for this pellet stove owner.

Sanford has spent the past two months putting her name on waiting lists for pellet fuel — some lists are 500 names long — and calling chain stores from New Jersey to Scranton, Pa., only to be told they have no idea when the next shipment will arrive and to "call back tomorrow."

The trouble with ethanol

I went to see Tad Patzek give a seminar on the U.C. Berkeley campus yesterday titled "Agriculture, Biofuels and the Earth," because I wanted a firsthand look at one of the more controversial figures in the emerging world of biofuels. The Berkeley chemical engineering professor is the co-author (along with retired Cornell professor David Pimentel) of two studies that cast doubt on the energy efficiency of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels. The studies have been widely cited both by anti-biofuel right-wingers who want to stop subsidies of all forms of alternative energy, and by left-wing critics who believe that a rush to biofuels will result in the destruction of tropical rain forests, the proliferation of genetically modified monocultural crops across the planet, and assorted other ecological disasters. If you've got a problem with biofuels, Patzek and Pimentel have your back.
T. Boone Pickens was on CNBC this morning, but I only caught the very end. Did he say anything interesting? Can someone offer summary of what he said?
Don't quote me exactly as this is from memory....

I caught the interview also about 1/4 the way through....

Highlights from what I can remember.....

The hosts asked him if he is still a "peaker", and he said "yes"...

Asked him about his prediction on oil prices...

He said that we will see $70 before we see $50 again.

Still predicts $100 oil, but not for 2006.

The hosts kinda "ribbed" him about his last prediction; which was "we will see $80 before we see $60.  He pointed out that we within dimes of the high of $80, but the hosts pointed out that close is not $80.

Then he talked about his investment in alternative energy.  

He is big into Canadian oil sands, not hip to ethanol, even though he has some investment in it (only to hedge his bets).

I didn't catch to whole conversation as I was brushing my teeth, but he corrected the hosts in saying that what some people consider alternative energy is still hydrocarbons and must be pulled out of a hole in the ground.  They are subject to the same limitations as oil.  I think this was in reference to using Natural Gas as a transportation fuel.

That is all I can remember.

You might also want to check out the Pickens interview on Bloomberg:


I didn't see the CNBC segment but he was on Bloomberg.  Click here:  http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/10/11/91712/322#109  for my post on him.
You guys have got me on a roll. Will somebody explain to me what exactly T.Boone is teaching the world about oil? I've been reading him as long as I know about what he has said (or has to say, if you prefer) about oil. I can't understand what he's saying. Obviously.

You would figure that he would know about peak-oil at least as well as I do. Hell, Leanan knows ten times as much about oil as ole T.Boone.

How much did T.Boone lose?

Does anybody know?

Were they suckers?

Who is the con. Who is conned?

Will he pull it off again?

Everybody loves the expression - "...got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you(or ya)." I have never understood this. I understand the story. I understand the concept. But I must be missing something. Because I don't really understand why the story is set in New York.

There is a much better story, that gets very little play. It demonstrates the same concept. Only better. And it is also true. A guy sold the Eiffel tower for scrap metal - twice. I'm pretty sure he cashed the second check.

Shawnott, the thing you are doing here with documentation is great. Keep it up. To whoever threw that Bloomberg link out down below or wherever it is with the warning that it'll last about two days, thanks for saving other peoples' man hours. Keep it up. There will be a big raise for you. In fact we are going to make this retroactive until the time you started with us. I have a theory...naw we'll save that for another time.

And, as I keep pointing out, the bridge isn't even in Brooklyn, its just called the Brooklyn Bridge. It is over the east River between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Detroit and Dearborn: The Future of America as a whole?

I caught this story about Detrit on NPR this morning. It makes me wonder if this is what the rest of the country will be experiencing soon. Oh, and guess what the only industry is that's booming? Foreclosures, or course.


It seems to me that this is a snap-shot of the on-going "catabolic collapse" that has been ably discussed by John Michael Greer in his weekly "Archdruid reports."
It seems to me that many towns, and regions, have suffered hard times ... in the last 100 centuries.  Many of them are, unfortunately, natural outcomes of misplaced plans and ambitions.

I mean, I don't think any of us here hope or wish the 10 MPG SUV thing to go on forever.  So if it doesn't, and a transition to market-friendly alternatives was not made, something has to give.

But to name this, after countless similar occurances through history, as a "snap-shot" of collapse ... well, see also:


It is a snap-shot of decline - a symptom that shows up during typical recessions as you note ode, but also possibly a model of decline in general for many metro areas during T1 of this Greatest Depression.

I like these kinds of articles because they show in a tangible way how everyone can be affected in our economic food chain.  Most people I know in my 3D World shrug off Peak Oil because they do not understand how it might affect them - other than the pump prices.  

Here you can see how the cost of energy creeps into every corner of the economy (pizza delivery costs... yard care, etc).

Maybe this is similar to climate discussions, where we can't use the 10 year temperature trend in a single town, but have to step back to a wider focus.

If this is a localized result of that very adjustment which is so often denied, that may not be a bad thing.

On the other hand, if someone can show that there are no winners (nationally or even internationally) to balance the losers, then maybe we are in a broad downward movement.

Odo: It is quite clear. USA median income (inflation-adjusted) is in permanent decline, for a number of reasons. On the other hand, the number of millionaires and megamillionaires (>100 mill) is increasing at a brisk pace. Less "winners" than in 1976, but if you "win" in 2006 you end up with a lot more money.
Just as the Detroit decline is something real, that we try to put in perspective, so is the median income data.

I do think it is very bad, and is an indication that we should change our national policies ... but isn't that more a story of globalization and misapplied tax cuts?

Odo: IMHO, it is all about globalization.
The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the venture ship: Enterprise.
To boldly go where no business has gone before.
To seek our new sources of profit.
To suck out the last of what is worth sucking on.
And then ... to move on.

(Resistance is futile.)

"Captain...the dilithium crystals have shattered...I don't think I can keep 'er together much longer...."
"I can't do it, Captain!  I don't have the power!  I cannae change the laws o' physics!"
"Scottie...do you have some bubble gum...be creative...c'mon man...do something...anything..."
Leanan...we be "old school" Trekkies.
Yup, I guess so.

I used to think Star Trek technology would save us.  Heck, that's why I became an engineer.  I wanted to be part of the solution.  Instead, I ended up part of the problem.  :-/

"I can't penatate it sir I think they put up a panty shield" Comedy central -1980's
Scottie. Look at me. I'm the Captain. I'm the Alpha Kirk. I know you can push her more. Squeeze the last drop out for ME Scottie. I'm only asking you to do what's best for everyone on board. If you pull it off, there will be a bonus in your paycheck at the end of the accounting quarter.

Kidding aside, after I wrote that, it dawned on me that the Cornucopians in our society are like Captain Kirk.

Sure the dylithium crystals are almost drained dry. But Scottie the ingenius engineer will pull another rabbit out of the hat and keep us going for at least one more episode.

Sure the oil wells are being drained dry, but our real world engineers will pull another Moore's Law miracle and double production figures yet again. They'll go the extra mile undersea. They'll trudge the extra step out into the tundra.

Even if the Cornucopians are right, you have to ask if their plan is wise? IS that what we should be doing? Squeezing the last drop out of her (Planet Earth) BEFORE we figure out how to get along without the dylithium energy?

Now all those reading TOD outside the US understand our culture.  We were raised on Star Trek...no matter how insane the odds are, Scottie (technology) will save us in the end.  This is how TV has twisted our sense of reality and entitlement.  

What we have yet to figure out is that Star Trek had a good run, but in the end, after all it's "generations", it got cancelled.  

Actually it was never Scottie who got credit for saving the floating life vessel week every week but rather the sheer optimism and will power of the uber-human, Captain James T. Quirk.
Kidding aside, after I wrote that, it dawned on me that the Cornucopians in our society are like Captain Kirk.

Yup.  They don't believe in the no-win scenario.

Two words: Kobayashi Maru
Ha...now I was never that big of a Trekkie to know all the books and episodes by heart.  Care to give a synopsis of that story?
Never mind...found it.

Book Description

A freak shuttlecraft accident -- and suddenly Captain Kirk and most of his senior officers find themselves adrift in space, with no hope of rescue, no hope of repairing their craft, or restoring communications -- with nothing, in short but time on their hands.

Time enough for each to tell the story of the Kobayashi Maru -- the Starfleet Academy test given to command cadets. Nominally a tactical exercise, the Kobayashi Maru is in fact a test of character revealed in the choices each man makes -- and does not make.

Discover now how Starfleet Cadets Kirk, Chekov, Scotty, and Sulu each faced the Kobayashi Maru...and became in turn Starfleet officers.

Download Description
As portrayed in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, all Starfleet Command cadets must take the "no-win" Kobayashi Maru rescue simulation. Trapped aboard a doomed shuttlecraft, the Enterprise officers reminisce about their individual performances on the Kobayashi Maru test . . . reminiscences that spark a last, desperate attempt at survival.

No, that's not really the point.  The Kobayashi Maru is a starfleet test in which you are presented with an unwinnable situation.  However, there was one - and only one - cadet who actually beat the test.  That would be - James T. Kirk.  Does anyone recall how he did it?
He hacked into the computer and reprogrammed the test.


And wasn't it in "Wrath of Kahn" (the movie) that he reveals that?

Think 3-dimensionally Scottie!
Give me all the impulse shopping power you got.
Aye aye Captain.

What was that, 20 years ago?  When hacking was still sort of new and cool.

Today, any cadet who did what Kirk did, tampering with school computers, would be expelled.

He cheated.  

The Kobayashi Maru was meant to teach cadets that sometimes, no matter what you do, you lose.  Kirk cheated...and hence never learned that lesson.

BTW, it was actually the TOS movies (ST II, I think) that introduced the no-win scenario and the Kobayashi Maru.  

When it comes to Peak Oil and Global Warming I will use the Kobayashi Maru solution as well.

I am at this very moment re-programming the laws of thermodynamics and geo-global climatology. Wish me luck.

Get back here Scottie, you haven't finished the last line of code! The gin bottle is yours AFTER you finish.

And notice that even when Kirk loses his friend, he still gets back what he lost, while cheating the rules yet again.

Star Trek is more about avoiding reality than anything else - and yes, what a metaphor for America.

It's not about globalization, it's about power. The winners in this economy have changed the rules of the game and done it by the application of power.
So the winners get more and more, the losers less and less. Median income stagnant or down. If the winners played the game smart they would create prosperity for all.
But it's not about prosperity, it's not about creating wealth. It's about being a winner and giving the losers a hot poker in the ass.
I was planning to evetually chime in with my own definition of modern "wealth". A number of TODders here have already touched on some of the basic concepts.

In years past, "wealth" was measured by the number of acres of fertile land that a noble owned and the number of sheep, cattle and servants he had working that land for him and directing the profitable "fat of the land" to him in terms of goods, services and taxes.

During the industrial revolution, the definition changed somewhat from defining territory in terms of land and serfs to maket size and market share. This was more of a Demand-side oriented view of the world. You became "wealthier" as more of the world demanded your goods or services, as your sphere of influence as a seller enlarged.

Modern wealth (IMHO) has two intertwined aspects:
Neuro-hegemony over:

  1. Sources of money inflow, and
  2. Sources of quality service provision.

First, what do I mean by "neuro-hegemony"?
In days of old (yes, when knights were bold), a nobleman exerted his hegemony mostly by physical force, by running a tight police state. That was a costly and resource intensive way of controlling an empire. Besides as you got older and weaker, some younger punk warlord can come in, beat you up and take over.

The more sophisticated noblepersons soon came to realize that mental manipulation of the masses was a cheaper and more effective method of control (as long as the reigns of neural control did not slip off) and it could last well into old age.

The church was a first vehicle for gaining control. Give onto Ceasar ... yeah, right. Who do you think actually came up with that line, Jesus or Ceasar?

But as control by the church began to slip, nobility realized there was a much subtler way to maintain control: Education. Get hold of the kids while they were young and program their brains with ideas that will fool them into serving you. Fool their parents into thinking that "education" is good for everybody. Fool them into fighting over each other so they can get into the "best" of schools and thereby become the "best" of people, the ivory towers of their society. Yeah right. (Oops sorry. Not supposed to say that. It's heresy you know.)

As a nobleperson, you want to fool as many people as possible into serving you. That means you have to "educate" a greater number of them to your way of how they should think. They should worship Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand. They should believe that working long hours and even weekends in the office, will get them to the promised land. Death by over work is an honorable way to go, and it serves as a good example for the other sheeple.

That is what "globilization" is really about: finding larger masses of population to service the masters. Of course, when you finish encircling the globe, that indeed is the final frontier. The race is on to see who finishes first.

There are two basic ways that the masses can serve you, the nobleperson: (1) sending you more money in the form of taxes or in the form of revenue from having bought some trinkets you "sell" to them; and (2) providing you with immediate and quality service the instant you want it. When you go to a restaurant, the waiter is there at the mere whip of a finger. More champagne sir? What can I get you? When you go to a hospital, you get the executive suite and the best of doctors fighting over each other to see who can service you first. That is wealth. That is power. That is neural hegemony.

Thank you, stepback, I couldn't have said it better.
As the smallest addendum, do not discount the sheer glee our modern nobles find in causing pain. It is fun to kick out your servants teeth and hear him thank you for it.
They don't just profit from their servants, they hate us.
Be at peace ancient hippie.
You are loved.

Here is why.
The modern nobles love their assests.
They love their cattle.
They love their sheep.
And aye, even thou be a pain in the assets, they love you.

That's one of the reasons I like it to, sendoilplease. It shows how everyone is impacted, from those in the gated communities to yardcare workers.

odo -I too think calling it catabolic collapse is overreaching a bit, but this is more than just a general historical decline; I think it is a foretelling of what's to come.

Why isn't the youtube acquisition a fortelling of things to come?
Hi Odograph,

What is productive about Youtube? It's not a wealth-generating enterprise like the auto industry, in which you take raw materials like iron ore and oil and turn them into vehicles that do work. The U.S. continues to move away from real value-added industry towards infotainment/service industries. Who was it that said we Americans are just living off of each other's "discretionary" income?

Youtube is a way to share videos of people doing stuff (don't get me wrong, I enjoy it), and it is a front for ads telling us we need more worthless junk. These ads generate an income for not that many people in comparison to the auto industry.

Bottom line, the auto industry creates real wealth, while Youtube doesn't. And how is it anyway that the acquisition of Youtube by Google is a sign of economic hope? Isn't it just a monopolizing of the infotainment industry? It certainly doesn't offset the decline of the auto industry.

Tom Anderson-Brown

Boy, what kind of dinosour are you?

I think stegasourus are my favorite ;-).

Consider for at least a full minute: what happens when oil prices go up, and bandwidth prices go down?

Not fair. You're talking about the internet in general now, whereas before you were talking about Google's acquisition of Youtube. I'm not arguing against the fact that the internet changes the way we can work (i.e., drive less), but there's more to the story.

So I guess anytime a data-sharing giant like google buys a niche online service like Youtube, we should all feel like our country's industrial health is A-OK.

Diminishing returns, in my opinion. The internet is great, but my argument remains that it doesn't replace the wealth generation of something like the auto industry.

And perhaps I am a dinosaur (pretty good for a 29 year-old). I'd rather see our population learning skills that contribute wealth to our society like welding, masonry, engineering, geology, medicine, agriculture. It probably says something about my experiences, but I believe these productive occupations are the foundation of a healthy economy, and that this foundation supports the bits and bytes of the internet. Would the internet, or computers, have been realized were it not for these industries? The reason the computer (or even math) was developed was to make these "hard" industries more efficient. But, like I said, we're experiencing diminishing returns. We're (well you're) now calling Youtube "Productive". I use Youtube for procrastinating.

Tom A-B

Youtube is no more the internet than Detroit is industrial America.

That is the symmetry I was striving for in the random question.

Now I am amused to see people demand of me that I prove youtube is typical, and may be generalized ... while totally not getting that we started with a similar point case, and broad generalizations.

It is a mess.  Welcome to the mess.  Some heavy oil-consuming industries will die.  Some ethereal information companies will prosper.

I, the moderate, uncommitted to a single future, sure don't know how that will play out.


They don't get it.

It's not a wealth-generating enterprise...

The fact of the matter is it may very well become a wealth generating enterprise.  The business model of the internet is very much like TV.  You generate content, which generates web page views, and you sell ads.

YouTube is the biggest in a new "user generated video content" type web portal.  There are some questions about copyright.  Google is going to try and find answers for them.  If they can conquer the issues with their video fingerprinting technology and then combine that with their superior ad services, this is going to be a slam dunk.

This whole attitude that only welders, mechanics, and geologists produce things is such crap.  Talk about a totally bogus Pat Larouche type argument.  The internet is huge.  It's an entirely new paradigm.  And it is possible to make a lot of money on it.  And just because you can't pick it up, doesn't make it any less real.

No mate, you are the one who doesn't get it. This so-called wealth you talk about exists solely in pieces of paper and keystrokes: money.

Money is not wealth.

This site is here because it's obvious that the energy surplus is fading fast. The levels of complexity in our society, of which YouTube is the latest added layer, will vanish accordingly, as will the invented prosperity that this delusional society leans on. You've been had!

Just below this post you will find this list:
Database Administrators,
Network Administrators,
Human Resources,
Technical Support,
Customer Service Reps,
Billing specialists,
Phone Operator,

See that? All about to disappear. See also Leanan's post about real skills (which equal real wealth).

Umm you might want to rethink that given history has shown us that usually the skilled workers are not the ones who enjoy the benefits of wealth in a less technological society.  Generally from pass examples, Administrators such as nobles, landowners, and aristocracy are the ones who ended up benefitting from the wealth of physical labors.

In fact quite often those who did have the skills needed to produce physical wealth were often owned themselves by the nobles/administrators, or else were so dependent on their patrons that to go against the Administrators would mean death in one fashion or another.

In the end you could say the skills to Administrate and the companion skills such as policing, and combat trump skills of physical labor.

Your statement that all those IT jobs are about to disappear is built on the assumption that collapse has to be severe enough to return us to a society of equivilent technology to 200 years ago or worse.  That is a pretty severe assumption and one that I think is wrong.

You've also taken that list of jobs out of context from the original point of the post, much as did Leanan in that I was not talking about a collapsed society, I was talking about a society still functioning but taking measures to slow or prevent collapse.

Granted if we tank, a lot of those positions will be needed in much smaller numbers.  But first we have to tank, and we have not done so yet.

In the meantime the concept of Virtual Property, is one that is growing, and one that I think would be important to a community worried about resource degradation and consumption.  If we spend our money (which essentially is a representation of our time spent working) consuming, or "owning" virtual property (a bunch of electrons arranged in some order) wouldn't that allow the consumption of physical resources to slow?

Instead of buying that jet ski which was produced using fiber glass, and steel and plastic and who knows how much energy to make those materials, I buy instead an equivilent dollars worth of videos, video games, or e-books, who is saving more resources?  Or if I decide to watch the football game on my telivision instead of driving downtown or heck flying to the away games, who is saving more resources?

People will want "things".  Its part of our nature.  Riches, wealth, whatever you want to call it has been a part of every major civilization around the world.  The difference in those civilizations, and the measure of wealth has been related to what it is they value(gold, food, land, women, soldiers) .  Moving into a resource strained era, I could easily see Virtual Property becoming the new "wealth" for people.  Instead of the big fancy car, or big house, it may be the one with the largest collection of MP3s.  Or the one who has built a virtual empire in some game world.  Or the one who has a blog with the most hits.  I think any of those would be more desirable to a world trying to save physical resources, and if those are to exist you will need that list of jobs to be around.

Well, look at this way.  If your job can be done via the Internet, why hire an American?  Why not hire a Filipino or Indian or Mexican who will do the same thing for a tenth of your salary, and no benefits?
Which is certainly a concern in the current IT world, and one of the reasons I'm not a fan of Free Trade globalism.
the paradox- we want good wages, retirement money for our golden years, a safe work enviroment, a clean outdoor enviroment, good schools, good roads, etc. but we want to buy products made by labor in countries that do not supply these things and then wonder why we don't have it so good after 20 yrs....
But what if I am sitting in Thailand working for a Thai company and making a pretty decent American-level salary? Shouldn't that be impossible in your world?

I agree that Americans can never compete with poorer country's workers in gluing shoe bottoms together, answering questions on the phone, and and increasingly wide range of other tasks that tend towards the lower end of the value chain. I also agree that location matters less than ever.

However, there are plenty of well paid expats in China.

Americans (and Europeans, Japanese, etc) will have to cope with a scenario in which geography no longer protects low value activities. In part this is a tragedy for poor and underskilled Americans. In part it is justice for workers in poor countries.

I do think that Americans who are not able to develop skills that can't be displaced (masonry, plumbing) or which earn a high return on international markets, will suffer. It is an isolated problem for thiose individuals, although there are many of them.

Foreigners have flocked to US universities to gain access to the skill building resources in the US because they know they need them to compete. The challenge facing the US is to get these skills to a larger portion of the population.  

The US as a country probably will have to cope with a lower absolute standard of living and certainly with a lower relative standard of living, but I don't see it as an injustice or the end of the world.

Actually, I pretty much agree - why shouldn't other people do the dirty work and be paid as little as possible, but still more than what they earned as dirt poor farmers, as long as Americans which don't matter anyways (at least in terms of the current administration and it policies) end up poorer?

You can see why such a statement doesn't work well politically, though I think it would be hard to argue the facts - very poor people in places like China becoming less poor, while people in America who are well off (essentially, everyone in America by standards in places like Africa, India, China, etc.) become less well off.

What is left off the list is the environmental damage which comes with this exchange. I remember being told in the 1980/90s, that all the leather tanned for the West was done in South Korea (and at least for the motorcyle leather I looked at afterwards, it seemed true), since the metals used (chromium at the top) were simply not possible to deal with in terms of environmental rules. In other words, a lot of South Koreans got jobs, a lot of Westerners were spared trashing their rivers, and the South Koreans who will deal with such heavy metal pollution were not involved in this process at all.

Somehow, the deal seems less fair when put that way. China has a giant 'recycling' industry - nothing like melting PC components over an open fire as a way to improve your standard of living. Of course, nothing like destroying yourself by melting PC components over an open flame either, but at least the PC industry has met its obligations to be environmentally responsible. And I am pretty sure that some of the people involved in that business earn very good wages - though they live very far away from where the work is done. After all, such well paid people are educated enough and skilled enough to know what that sort of work does to a human being. But earning a wage is a human right, and it is nice to see such well paid administrators willing to give the poor such a step up out of the futility of living as a substinence farmer.

As I said, I actually pretty much agree with your points, but the picture is a touch broader than merely wages, or a few billion people getting a slightly larger slice of what the West takes for granted, like electricity, clean water, hospitals, schools.

There are costs involved which have nothing to do with the relative decline in America's standard of living.

I think we are breaking with established precedent by trying to apply logic to this issue and treat reality as if it isn't exactly black or exactly white.

I certainly agree that a large portion of moving economic activity to poorer countries is regulatory arbitrage. The environmental issue you discuss above is an indisputable case. Thailand had the same issue with tanneries and printing. Chemicals that couldn't be used in developed were used here, so the business moved here. Likewise, a huge portion of workers are subject to standards that workers in developing countries would not abide, either because laws protect them or because they have better options elsewhere.

And in the "better options" lies part of the crux of what makes the issue complex.  Three Korean companies that manufacture bras for US companies shut down in Thailand last week. Korean textile companies are probably typical sweatshops where workers are treated at standards far below that of the West, or even Western companies in Thailand.

But rather than celebrate their "liberation" from slavelike conditions, the workers protested at the American Embassy to get their jobs back. This is because their next option is worse.

Most of the self-righteous commenters who claim that third world workers are slaves in sweatshops fail to realize (or admit) that they are there voluntarily. They made the choice because their next best option is worse. It could be prostitution, farm work which they regard as worse, or not being able to feed their children. A lot of people in developing countries do work that is a lot worse than being in a factory.

Call center workers or computer programmers appear to be a clearer case. They don't seem to work in conditions that are much worse than their American counterparts and the gain from relocation doesn't have much to do with environmental impact or worker rights. Speaking as an expat (I mean me in this case), I don't know where to put my loyalties. I feel sorry for the Americans who did nothing wrong and don't have a job. I feel good for the Indians who live in, let's face it, a desparately poor coyuntry and deserve to get out of poverty as much or more than we do.

We can leave the issue of why a large Thai company has hired me to sit with a bunch of Thais doing the same job as they are and paying all of us quite a lot of money for another day.

But what if I am sitting in Thailand working for a Thai company and making a pretty decent American-level salary? Shouldn't that be impossible in your world?

No, not impossible.  Merely temporary.

Why is it temporary?

Globalization has broken down the link between location and work, but it doesn't mean that people are all in a race to the bottom. It just realigns the values of skills.

Developing countries may have huge populations of capable people who can provide a lot of functions that the global economy values. But this also means their economies are growing and they have their own needs for other skills.

Globalization has broken down the link between location and work, but it doesn't mean that people are all in a race to the bottom.

Why not?

As energy grows dearer, companies will be squeezed for more "productivity."  More work done by fewer people for less money.

I think it will be more valuable work by less people for more money.

Like you, I am not saying it is good, just the way it will be.

It may be...for awhile.  But then they'll hit a limit, and it will be more valuable and more work, done by fewer people, for less money.
Now, maybe we just have resolve how long a while is.
I understand it's hard to understand that dollars are not wealth.

Still, equating business administrators with nobility and landownership is real funny (but no more than that). I'd almost guess I can guess what your job is. Trying to save it? Only normal.

For most of our species' sedentary history, the vast majority of people who had land to work on and the skills to do the work were independent from nobility and other profiteers. Our history books may not find that noteworthy, but then again, those books are just a variant on stories about Brad Pitt.

Paris Hilton or Helen of Troy, same old, same old. Sequels to Greek mythology, which were sequels to.... The need of the human mind for religion.

The lives of "normal" people are not newsworthy, precisely because they are the vast majority.

Virtual Property is like an alcoholic who needs booze for breakfast to feel alive. It only has value in a Virtual Economy. Real enough for the addict, but a drain on the world around him.

If you don't understand that that wealth is not real, maybe it's easier to see that the food is not. You want money to buy food, but only as long as there is food, and those who have it are willing to trade it for paper. If you're hungry enough, even pieces of gold lose their value real quickly.

Can I have your Picasso since its not real wealth ?

Wealth means you own something people value.

Money is used to claim ownership of wealth.

It has nothing to do with atoms.

What do you own when you buy a house ?
The atoms or an electronic entry some where ?

Consider the case of a real AI according to you its worthless.

Moving to a society that considers virtual concepts as valuable can really help our environment by reducing the use of material items to denote wealth.

Absolutely!!!  Wealth is in the eye/brain of the beholder. And it doesn't need to have anything to do with money.  I am wealthy beyond measure as I am surrounded by beauty beyond measure.
Wealth is in the eye/brain of the beholder.

Boy you said it.  See where this guy sold his "mummy collection" including various "parts" like feet and hands for @ $2 million.  If you are looking for signs of the apocolypse this has to be toward the top of the list.  What good are a bunch of dried up dead pople ( + "parts")?  "Hey look at my dried up dead person", "OH WOW that is soo cool", "I paid $2 million for this", "You gotta be shitting me that is so cheap!"  "Yeah you know Costco had them in big packages for 1/2 the price of Fred Meyer"

Money isn't wealth?!?!  What kind of BS is that?  Send me those pieces of paper then, and the keystrokes of your passwords...  Oh you don't want to do that..  Surprise surprise.

And Salesmen are going to disappear?!?!?

What the hell are you smoking?!?!

Salesmen have been around for 1000's of years.  Short of extinction, there will be salesmen.

Peak Oil is a slow roll over.  A gradual decline.  Further, peak oil does not mean there will no longer be energy.  It may be scarcer, it may be more expensive, but it will still be produced.

Let me ask you this:

Are games of chance REAL?  Dice?  Cards?  They've been around for a long time.  What about pinball machines?  Are they real?  What about Massive Multiplayer Online Games?  (IE World of Warcraft)  Are they real?  

They're all real!!

Can I find a used tool in a nearby location for sale on Cragslist.com?   Absolutely!

Can I find information on growing a particular plant on Wikipedia?  Yes.  Can I investigate building my own greenhouse?  Find out how to wire a new electrical outlet?

The internet is a QUANTUM LEAP FORWARD in terms of productivity, much like the telegraph, or satellites before it.  Are they perhaps as energy efficient as they could be?  Not even close.  But more expensive energy will change that.

Peak Oil is a slow roll over. A gradual decline

Maybe. Just maybe. Since you simply don't know, not a smart statement.

The internet produces nothing but electricity bills. It's nice and useful, but not wealth. Can it teach you how to grow food? No, you have to learn hands-on.
It can show you a picture of a plant, but not the thing itself.

The internet is a bundle of machines that are connected. The machines are made of very real natural resources. The internet is not. Without the hardware, the software is just a disk. You need hardware to read the code.

You hold on to the desire that a certain part of this society will last, and reason accordingly.

And you hold onto an ideal that it will not and reason accordingly as well, but your assumption is just as speculative.
No it's not, and you can do better than that answer.

I distinguish what is real from what is not. And that is not decided by personal opinion.

If you think money is real, you should consider that it exponentially increases, it is "produced" by the trillions each year, while the amount of resources and energy available exponentially decreases.

Hence: money is disconnected from natural resources. And those are the things you need to drink, feed, dress, and find shelter.

Then I would argue you are not using the correct terminology.  Food, clothing, shelter, and water are essential for life.

The internet, cars, TV, money, etc are non-essential for life.  However both are very real and both can be forms of wealth.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&defl=en&q=define:wealth&sa=X&oi=glossary_ definition&ct=title

The above is a link to google's definition page of wealth.

If you read through them, you will find that there are some differences in definition of what constitutes wealth.  some take a harder approach like you and break that down to physical objects such as food, land, cars, and houses.

Other definitions mention things like talent, stocks, and money.

Money for the time being is broadly considered to be the measurement of wealth in this country.

But to say that just because its a piece of paper, or just some electrons doesn't mean it isn't wealth.  If that is truly what you believe, I will be glad to accept all that un-wealthy paper you possess right now, and while you are at it, can I also have login information for any boards, email addresses, or other internet related "assets" you own?

I suppose a simpler question might be, is knowledge/access to knowledge a form of wealth?  Is a book wealth?  Is an instructional video wealth?  Does the knowledge a master blacksmith imparts to an apprentice wealth?

Not to jump in about money or the Internet - but is knowledge 'real?'

In a way, that is what this debate revolves around. Good luck resolving it.

OK. Let's start at the beginning and move forward systematically. I am pretty sure reality is real, but someone else has to take it from there.
I hate to be the one to break it to you
Is this like the sound of one computer failing in the network?
The link says that the "perceived reality is unreal", a sentiment in which I have found great solace.

It does not imply that there is not an underlying reality, which is indeed real, we just can't access it until we become enlightened.

I live in Thailand, where Buddhism is only the second most convincing reason why everything we see around us is just a dream

May I ask, what's the first?
Just Thailand itself. Can't possibly be a real place. I'm amazed every day, mostly in good ways, and I've spent about ten years here.

I don't have any definitive proof, but if I have to guess between dream and reality, I'd have to pick what's behind door #1.

That means you have a future.
Interesting.  Sounds like you might stay?  And I agree with you about the solace.

The internet produces nothing but electricity bills. It's nice and useful, but not wealth. Can it teach you how to grow food? No, you have to learn hands-on.
It can show you a picture of a plant, but not the thing itself.

So a library isn't wealth?

One of the seven wonders of the ancient world was the library of Alexandria.  KNOWLEDGE, although not tangible, is wealth.

What about the telephone?

If I'm cooking dinner, and I have a question about how to prepare something I can call my Mom.  Or if I'm an astronomer, I can call another observatory and have them confirm what I'm seeing.  Is there not value in that?  How about making a reservation at a restaurant?  Or arranging for delivery of supplies?

There is tremendous wealth to be found in communication and collaboration.  The internet is a tool to facilitate both of these.

The internet is also used as a distributed computing tool.  This is used for such various purposes as cancer research and SETI.

Wealth is not limited to "things".  Computers and the internet maybe recent phenomenom, but what about philosophy?

And so we manage to blur what separates physics from semantics.
I would tend to agree with you roel.   Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  

I have worked as a data base arch. and system's designer for 25 years in large shops. The layers of abstraction of things running on top of other things thru networks...  The complexity is astonishing.

Much of this wonderful modern times things like the internet and PC's for instance is incomprehensible to the vast mulitude that uses it.  

What percentage of the populace do you think understands how the things they rely on work?  In 1900 what percentage would that be?  I think it would have been magnitudes larger.

You knew how a steam engine worked. Period.

The people I have worked with over the last 10 or so years have been outsourced almost entirely.  HOWEVER !!!  MUCH of what they designed and wrote(that everyone uses and depends on) is still running.

In a depression type scenario,  I think you may see it resemble the people in the future in HG Wells Time Machine.  Complex stuff,  no one knowing how it was made or how it works.

Anyway,  As Maslow would say,  If you ain't got food, or shelter, the "Higher" things lose their value.

Hey, Can I fix your xxxx if you give me some food?


Database Administrators,
Network Administrators,
Human Resources,
Technical Support,
Customer Service Reps,
Billing specialists,
Phone Operator,

See that? All about to disappear.

Accountants and Salesmen will 'disappear'?

The programmers who write the code in the dedicated processoers will 'disappear'?

Got something to back such a claim up?  Other than bluster?

Well, I've waited the requisite minute.  So what secret knowledge of the future do you pretend to have?  What percentage of the jobs in the economy are you assuming can be done by telecommuting, and what does that have to do with watching videos on youtube?  The fact that you and I, both software developers, can work remotely doesn't suggest that a significant portion of the population can, does it?

I don't consider myself a doomer either, and yes, stegasaurus was my favorite dinosaur as well, but that doesn't mean that greater bandwidth will solve all of our problems or that Detroit's decline isn't a sign of things to come.  Of course greater bandwidth is a silver bb, but at the same time things falling apart in Michigan could be a sign of things to come elsewhere.

BTW, Michigan is failing because of high oil prices, globalization, high healthcare costs, and high pension costs.  IMHO, in that order.  Are we the only state in the nation affected by these problems?  Won't higher energy prices cause the same drain on household finances elsewhere that they are causing here?


odograph on Wednesday October 11, 2006 at 9:06 AM PST

Yes, wasn't impressed with that answer either.
I'm fine with that!  I'd hate to think impressing anyone was the goal ... but in terms of struggling with my own understanding ... I'm afraid that I'm finding the "hard and unreasonable" line here is coming down on a doomer fantasy eating its own tail.

If you start with the collapse of civilization, then you can say all kinds of things won't make a difference in the long run.

But as soon as you make collapse an open question, a LOT of the arguments here start to become unrooted.

I see, so your crystal ball tells you that there is no collapse in the cards.  That's an amazing crystal ball.  Sorry, mine just says "Cannot predict now."  I'm not starting with the collapse of civilization, and I can't tell where this is all headed.  There are way too many things that could break either way.  I have reason to believe, however, that our primary energy source (in BTUs), which is the only real energy source for the US transportation system, is going to get expensive, for some people prohibitively expensive.  I would even say it already has become expensive.

Does that trigger a collapse of the US?  I have no idea.  However, I can't bring myself to blithely answer no.  Does that trigger a collapse in the US auto industry, 80% of whose profits used to come from SUVs/light trucks?    Could be, but my crystal ball says "Reply hazy, try again."  Those companies provide over a million, high-paying, real-world jobs; they support another million or so retirees; their suppliers probably pay another million or two employees; etc.  That's a lot of real-world money changing hands, as opposed to the free navel-gazing at youtube.  

What will the loss of that north american auto industry money flow do to the SE Michigan economy, where I live?  My crystal ball says "Outlook not so good."  Since this "collapse" has already been happening for quite a while now, that's not too helpful.  I'd ask to use your crystal ball, but it sounds a little too rosy.

I think I've been very clear that I do not have a crystal ball, and do not have a fixed idea of the future.

From that position, I chat with people at either extreme who give me pat answers on fixed futures.

I do think that the true Cornucopians, like the true Doomers, are feeding outlook back in as input.

Jobs requiring physical presence obviously can't be replaced by the internet.  That includes most of the manual trades, like welders, capenters, electricians, etc

But how many "white collar" jobs that require no, or little physical presence could be done remotely, which in turn would cut down on commuting, and all the energy used in maintaining a commuting lifestyle.

Database Administrators,
Network Administrators,
Human Resources,
Technical Support,
Customer Service Reps,
Billing specialists,
Phone Operator,

and these are just the general categories of people in my current office which make up about 90% of my division of this company.  Most of these positions could be accomplished with technology assistance from home.  The cost in technology would increase expense, but when compared to a lower required floor space in this office building we rent plus all the costs in maintaining our environment,( cleaning crews, AC/heating, etc) I question just how much money would really be lost.

The main reason for not adopting this model in most IT corporations is that the proverbial "they" are still married to strong centralized control where they can keep an eye on everything, when in truth they really don't keep an eye on half the things they think they do.  Its become almost an artform for employees to find ways around the security system at work to get to recreational sites like YouTube during work hours.

I can manage and analyze databases and our servers from home or from work(in fact I've been called on a few times to log in from home for emergencies).  The only reason I come to work everyday to do my job here, is because the boss told me to.  Why does he tell to?  Cause I'm guessing his boss told him to as well.

Of course, if the economy really tanks, these people are going to be laid off, not made into telecommuters.  

Barbara, who occasionally posts here, has some fascinating stories about her grandparents' experiences in WWII Europe.  The people who did best were the people who had the "physical" skills.  The food rations were not enough to live on, so people either snuck out to the countryside on bicycles at night and bought food, or they bought it on the black market, at high prices.  Farmers, carpenters, tailors, mechanics, etc., did all right, because people still needed their skills.  The white collar office workers starved, because their skills were not needed.

Britain during WWII would be a sudden collapse scenario.

I'm not talking about sudden collapse scenarios.  I'm talking about averting/delaying collapse scenarios and removing waste(i.e. conservation) a step which will be required in a powerdown situation.  Decentralizing office work would save energy in transportation, removing the need for as many office buildings thereby slowing urban growth, save energy on maintaining buildings (AC/heating, maintanence, etc) and I'm sure I'm just touching the tip of the iceberg.

I think you are not looking at the big picture.

A lot of people's jobs depend on the things you want to cut back on.  Gas station attendants, highway maintenance workers, car salesmen, fuel truck drivers, fast food workers, tire manufacturers, etc.  What's going to happen to them?  

The ripples will eventually mean less need for database managers and network adminstrators.

The economic collapse could be quite sudden, especially given our debt levels.

I am looking at the big picture you are the one focusing on a collapse centric argument.  I fully understand in a collapsed state those workers with physical skills will have a one up on those without.

But I'm not talking about situations in a collapsed state.  I'm talking about situations in a pre-collapsed state where by the society in question is trying to post-pone and adapt to or prevent a collapse.

Decentralizing white collar jobs would be a way of accomplishing this.  You are trying to argue with me from a paradigm I'm not even addressing nor care to address.  My argument is based solely on a pre-collapse condition which is where the world finds itself at now.

I wouldn't say I'm focusing on it, so much as including it as a possibility.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and all that.   The fact that we can't know the future is more reason to worry, not less.

I do think a dollar collapse is the thing we have to worry about the most.  Eventually, our Chinese overlords are going to get nervous about our ability to pay back our debt.  No one wants to see the U.S. economy collapse...but eventually, they're going to stop throwing good money after bad.  And no one will want to be the last one out the door.

Can you think of any jobs that might expand as energy becomes more dear?
Then you must not be thinking very hard, because physical laborers would be an obvious one.  No machines to do the job, guess that means we do the jobs by hand.
But would we be paid for it?  Or would we be forced to do it for ourselves, because we can no longer afford to hire someone else to do it?

There will be a lot of needs to be met.  What I question is our ability to pay people to meet those needs, in a world that has less and less energy but a larger and larger population each year.

Define pay.  In the really bleak scenario, is the farmer going to want a field full of crops to rot, when he could pay a family of workers to harvest it, promising them enough of the crop to feed themselves.  Isn't that essentially slave labor?  In general it wasn't viewed as profitable to work your slaves and starve them to death at the same time.

Granted this is a pretty extreme example, but if agrarian society with no machines is where you think we are headed, then I don't think its impossible that issues thought "resolved" will resurface again such as slavery.

Well, I agree with you there.  But I don't think that's what Odo had in mind.
Funny how you pull us in ;-).  You say there won't be jobs, we say even in the most dire examples ... and pretty soon we are spending our mental energies on dire examples.

That's wasted energy for the other 14,000 future histories possible from this point.  This makes my head reel, and makes me remember the slashdotters from yesterday.

They too are constraining their predictions by their notion of likely paths ... we don't know they are wrong ... we just know that our little value network here reinforces discussion along very different lines.

Just a few thoughts. It seems like we are talking about paradigm shifts in social structure similar to the Great Depression. It's quite possible to have people starving in the cities and crops rotting in the fields. When the socio-economic structures that we have depended on begin to break down it may take quite a while to gradually build up new structures. It took ~25 years to crawl out of the Great Depression (measured only by the stock market). So, yes, we can adapt to these situations. It may take a few decades and there may be considerable suffering in the transition. It's the transition that seems the most scary.
We will adapt, no doubt.  But the transition will be harder, and it will be toward a much poorer way of life than we got after the Great Depression.  The Great Depression was only four years of economic contraction.  When it's 14, or 40...that's a whole different order of magnitude.
I appreciate ET bringing the Great Depression into this.  I think there are people here who think that was ancient history and there are no lessons to learn from it today.  Likewise the stagflation of the 70s wasn't real enough and everything has been hunky dory for the lower half of the US income distribution since the 70s.

Yes, we crawled out of the Great Depression, and it didn't really take 25 years, rather about 15.  But if your next major recession is only 10 years away, you may find yourself doing more backsliding than crawling out.  Certainly we can adapt, but that adaptation may well be to decline, not just to temporary conditions.  I'm not convinced that growth will be over forever, but there may be "considerable suffering", and just as everything on the way up of oil production was a transition, it may be all transition on the way down.  

The way out of the Great Depression was warfare, and nothing else, the kind of scenarion that makes people NOT question much of anything, focusing an entire society on one goal. That can only happen when the impression is clear and immediate that the soceity is under lethal threat. It woks fine at the lesser level that terrorism is at today: liberties disappear fast, and there are few questions asked.

From a strictly economic point of view, you'd have to look for instance at what happened with the gold standard, and look through the conspiracy crap:

American Bankruptcy

Bicycle messengers.
Grocery deliverers.
Energy auditors.
Small car refurbishers.
Streetcar Conductors(*)

* - which comes full circle, because my great grandfather was a streetcar conductor in Vancouver, BC.

(I'm being generous above because I'm listing jobs that would be out there even with economic contraction.  Without it, start including every single person making money off the expanding worlds of internets and telephony.)
Railroad employees.  Enough traffic to steal from trucking to justify growth even in Depression levels of economic activity.

Wind turbine installers & maintenance.  As NG prices go up, so do WTs :-)

More I am sure.

Best Hopes,


Nah, we'll just go back to burying 'em in the backyard.

Or Soylent Green....  

Soylahol - the fuel of the future
Sorry, no.

Undertakers cost money and use ICE powered hearses.

Just grave-diggers.

Bicycle sales, repair.  Home handyman.  Farmer.  Solar energy specialist.  Home insulation installer.  Energy efficiency advisor.  There will be lots of others, some will be new positions because of peak oil.
Leather belt hole puncher .... for all those people tightening their belts.
politicians- :(

What happened in the 80's when computers started to replace secretaries?

They were retrained and put back into the workforce doing something that was still needed.

Car salesmen will become solar panel salesmen.  Tire manufacturers will become wind turbine manufacturers.

Why exactly is fast food going away?  And gas station attendants are already an all but extinct species.  They were replaced by quickie mart employees, and those jobs will remain.

A small plane has crashed into a building in NYC.  

Stock market is down, apparently for fear that it's terrorism.

Maybe I'm missing a tense or something...  this happened just now?
It's breaking news on CNN right now.  Dunno if it's an attack or, as Dubya put it, a really bad pilot.
Here's a photo:

I'm sure Dubya had some GOP Patriot do the honors in a suicide job to ensure that terrorism remained at the forefront going into the election.


October surprise? Weak!

I think part of what freaked people out is that it is 10/11...exactly one month after 9/11.

But "government officials" say there's no reason to believe it's terrorism.

They say it's not terrorism, but the FBI has been dispatched to the scene, and squadrons of fighter planes have been deployed over several U.S. cities.  Just in case, I guess.
Due to the hypersensitivity since 9/11 its hardly surprising, and frankly expected.  Failing to send the FBI to investigate, and failing to scramble jets would be irresponsible given the current political climate.

It probably is just an accident, but we can't afford anymore to just make that assumption and not pursue things immediately.

Can you tell when news of the plane crash broke?

Or you could always do what Oregon did and pass into law a program which ensures gas station attendents will be around.

In Oregon you can't pump your own gas.  An attendent has to do it for you.

On a recent vacation to Oregon, while getting our gas pumped by a rather hot looking attendent, my brother and I were debating about the feasibility of a Hooters variation of a Shell station.  Say perhaps throw in a wet t-shirt carwash while we are at it.

(cackles evilly)

and I live on a gravel road and have an often dirty car :(
Oops, sorry.  Meant to post that at the bottom, not in reply to your post.

What happened in the 80's when computers started to replace secretaries?

The economy was still expanding then.  As long as the economy is growing, yes, that sort of substitution will occur.  The "buggy whip" scenario.

But the end of cheap energy will mean the end of the ever-growing economy.  The economy will start shrinking every year, instead of growing.  There will be fewer jobs every year...but more people needing them.  

But the end of cheap energy will mean the end of the ever-growing economy.  The economy will start shrinking every year, instead of growing.  There will be fewer jobs every year...but more people needing them.

There you clearly state it.  The conclusion about a shrinking economy is used as justification for ... a shrinking economy?

I don't think that is a good loop.

The conclusion about a shrinking economy is used as justification for ... a shrinking economy?

Leanan did not say that.  She assumed that "the end of cheap energy will mean the end of the ever-growing economy."  I agree with that.  But justifying that assumption was not attempted here.  I know we won't convince you, odo, but many of us think that no matter how the clever chimps juggle the numbers (inflation vs. deflation, etc), when there will be less oil, there will be less "stuff" to go around.  The average person (by definition) will therefore be poorer.  Business models that rely on advertisements as the revenue source (Google, TV) will likely crash.  Processes that rely on a large stream of waste (such as running VW microbusses on  french-fry oil :-) will find that those waste streams slow to a trickle.  (That applies to "cellulosic ethanol from ag/forestry waste products" too.)

That leaves open the question as to how the diminishing pie will be divided.  There will be fewer jobs, unless in some way society will adapt to accept lower pay per job so there are jobs for more people.  That could involve either lower-productivity full-time jobs or more part-time jobs.  Alas our current culture (in the USA) pushes for productive full-time occupations, and those who fall out of that game are considered "losers" who have only themselves to blame.  Some of them now live in Detroit.

Actually, we should pause and remember that peak "oil" is generalized to peak "energy" and then peak energy is used to argue not just peak "economy" but also "collapse."

In my opinion, the uncertainties are how strongly peak oil generalize to an energy crisis, and how strongly the presumed energy decline will impact the economy.

There is a whole other bar to be crossed to get from there to collapase ... unless of course you start there.

Hmmm.  So we have North American natural gas at or near peak, right?  Oil is easily transported, unlike natural gas, but we're all concerned that we're about at peak oil, yes?  We have lots of coal, but if we use it all, runaway global warming is just about guaranteed, isn't it?  Unless I've missed something, hydro isn't likely to grow much.

That leaves nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, biomass, fusion.  I think it's a real roll of the dice as to whether those are going to lead to more energy or just a decreased energy decline rate.  That's one of the "known unknowns" in this whole process.  Oil is most of our BTUs, so that's a lot of making up to do. (I'll find a pretty chart for this later, since the DOE website seems to be down at the moment.)

I think we can have some economic growth (not necessarily overall growth) in a declining energy environment, as long as the declines are mild, so that we can make up the difference with efficiency improvements.  However, since our "trajectory" is toward more and more energy use, it's going to be quite a change in trajectory to continually work toward less energy use.  Whether we can manage the transition well is another known unknown.

Can't we just agree that there are some who feel the economy is shrinking along with cheap energy and there are some who believe it will not shrink?

What's the hang-up?


I think there may indeed be an economic contraction with peak oil, but our cycles of conversation here go far beyond that.  They often go on to a presumption of collase.

I call it a loop when I see that commitment being fed in as an explanation for our present and near future.

If Detroit is going to take its lumps, learn its lessons, and move on .. then it isn't .. what was that phrase from up top?

"a snap-shot of the on-going 'catabolic collapse'"

Actually, I don't see a "Greater Depression" scenario as a collapse.  Many feared the U.S. would collapse during the Great Depression, but it didn't.

However, I do see the "Greater Depression" scenario as probably the most optimistic outcome of peak oil's effect on the economy.  At least in terms of how it will affect most of us personally.  What it does to the environment is a whole different story.

Odo, Leanan,

In my opinion (as cheap as it is), a slow catabolic collapse of the good ol' USofA began with the first oil shocks in the 1970s. This essentially marked the time when world oil production increases slowed down considerably. We're three decades into the catabolic collapse. Probably have many more decades of deterioration to go. I suppose the events in the 1970s could possibly be considered T0 on Bakhtiari's four transitions, with T1 actually being the second.


That's basically the idea I had in mind with my original post, way up above, about catabolic collapse and the situation in Detroit being a symptom of it.
How do you feel about there being one consensus view at TOD (or half a consenus ;-) that we are all doomed, and another consensus at slashdot or wherever, that we are all fine?

It is unsatisfying to me to see each group declare themselves right, the other wrong, and to continue on with the same old original worldviews.

It gets to be more of a demonstration of how internet communities form around a fixed idea, than a demonstration of how ideas evolve.

I mean, show me 10 people who agree at TOD that we are all doomed, and I'll show you 10 people who have found each other.

You make a good point.

So what do we get when we average the two (/. and TOD) views? Which one has more weight? Or are they equal? Or are they both wrong?

My feelings are that the energy limitations that many on TOD are expecting have a bit more weight. But, also, the more rosy view of technology-to-the-rescue may have enough pull to prevent a quick, catastrophic collapse. Global civilization, it seems to me, will slowly transform to a more energy-limited state. I think history bears this out--many civilizations that are now gone had a slow Shakespearian death over decades and even centuries.

Seems like a major (nuclear) war, and perhaps a global pandemic are the wildcards that could derail the catabolic collapse scenario and bring on a more rapid decline. Or, in the case of pandemic, it could conceivably allow the growth model to continue, once there's been adjustment to the initial shock of losing a significant portion of human beings. Vingean technological singularity is another wildcard, though I suspect it's a low-probability one. And such an event would completely alter the meaning of civilization. Indeed, civilization as we think of it might cease to exist at the point of singularity.


I was going to start by saying that this might indeed be why I take a middle course, and avoid being attached to a specific future or prediction.  I was going to say that the folks trying to convince me from either extreme seem to be leaving too much out of their worldview.  Each has a stacked deck of causes and effect.

Then I remembered something.  It's an old one:


I don't think the guys with the real technical chops come down on either extreme.

A very cutting interpretation of that proposition -


Come on Odo, join the circular anti-logic club!

Common themes found on The Oil Drum:

Usury (Interest) is Bad.
But the Feds lowering interest rates was criminal!

Suburban living is energy inefficient.
But large metropolitan areas are also energy inefficient.

The internet isn't REAL.
Yet here we are, a large global internet community, having rational(?) discussions on the impending energy crisis.

And the biggest:

We're at peak oil!
If we keep increasing our oil usage like this, in 100 years global warming is going to kill us all!

Actually I think their is nothing wrong with the strange responses on the various topics. It surprising how ingrained the growth economy is in all of us. Considering a world in which you may be technically savvy and inteligent but yet have no growth is a bit hard to imagine.

Actually I think we will grow but we will be smart enough at that point to keep the growth off the planet. The only thing we would need to realisticlly colonize space is a space elevator or other resonable way to access space. We could do it today if the world wanted. In this future world I think thats the only viable route to expand.

What this would do is slowly split the population into the growth oriented spacers and the stay behind natural stewards.

In a sense its cool becuase it give humanity a chance to try two different ways of living and I hope the nature stewards can have a positive influence on the space jocks so they don't destroy our solar system like we have our planet.

For now the transformation to a more sane balanced world is not something that many can comprehend but I think that we will have to go through this transition before we are ready to tackle taking our need for growth off planet.

If you think about it if we had been wise stewards of this planet we would have been in space and had colonies by now.

A bit of irony.

Or maybe we could just go to another dimension or universe.  

from Oct 06 Popular Science, by Rena Marie Pacella

...Arkani-Hamed did eventually end up at Harvard-at 30, he was made a full professor of physics-and it's there that he's following his latest hunch.  But this time, it's not extra dimensions he's betting on.  It's extra universes-some 10 (to the 500th power) of them.  He and a growing minority of maverick scientists suspect that our universe is just one of untold billions of universes that exist side by side in a cosmic landscape, each with its own laws of physics and its own constants of nature.
   His first piece of evidence, albeit indirect, for this multiverse could be collected as soon as next year, when physicists in Geneva turn on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the most powerful particle accelerator in the world.  If Arkani-Hamed's calculations are correct, the LHC will reveal a hidden feature of the universe called split supersymmetry, or split susy (pronounced "SOO-see"), a theory that half of all particles in the universe have partner particles that the LHC will be able to see.  (Not incidentally, the LHC may instead turn up Arkani-Hamed's extra dimensions.)  If it works, and the LHC finds these partner particles, "it will be a mammoth hint that the multiverse is real,"  Arkani-Hamed says.
   So what does this mean?  Remember 500-odd years ago when a heretic named Copernicus broke the news that our little planet Earth was not, in fact, the center of the universe?  Well, brace yourself.  If Arkani-Hamed and his cohorts are correct, our exstence is about to be denigrated again.  As he explains, "The significance of our world within the multiverse will be no greater than one atom relative to all the matter in our universe.

Kind of puts PO into perspective, too, doesn't it?

That sounds so scientifically cool.
''Car salesmen will become solar panel salesmen.''

I can see it now:

''Beautiful isnt she?

Just run your hand down the trim.

She's German you know.

Say fella, why dont we take her up onto the roof now?

Lets see how she looks and handles.''

Youtube-- It's not a wealth-generating enterprise like the auto industry, in which you take raw materials like iron ore and oil [coal] and turn them into vehicles that do work. The U.S. continues to move away from real value-added industry towards infotainment/service industries.

I guess that begs the question: What is "wealth"? What is "real" value?

I think we just accept that prices are agreed fictions, and go with it.  Buy or don't buy.  Sell or don't sell.

Insisting that prices are "wrong" is a mug's game.

I'm afraid we're going to find out.
Tanner-B provides sort of an answer above:

I'd rather see our population learning skills that contribute wealth to our society like welding, masonry, engineering, geology, medicine, agriculture. ... I believe these productive occupations are the foundation of a healthy economy

If we are going to accept a term like "wealth", should we not also have something that is "anti-wealth"? (impovershment?)

What contributes to the impovershment of a society?

Maybe Adam Smith II can write a sequel entitled "The Impovershment of Nations and of the World"? What would he say?

It's missing somewhere I know it has to be.
Oil is used to make rubber tires and plastic. I guess coal is also used to make steel.

Anyway, I'm not sure we know anymore what real wealth and real value are. In the purest sense, they're the tools and resources we need to survive.

For those living in the Pleistocene, wealth was measured by the resources in a given location, the tools one posessed, and the acquiantances at hand who could help track down food. The same could be said for our times, but the paradigm is different.

At any rate, we're reaching a point of diminishing returns, of which Youtube, and many other services I would consider infotainment, is an example.

I'm arguing that my country is deinvesting in industries that provide real value and investing in industries that provide infotainment services. It's a shame that a welder or a furniture maker can't make what a schmuck like me makes sitting in front of a keyboard all day. I must provide more value to our society blabbing on TOD than a welder who works his ass off making wind turbines.

Tom A-B

Supply and demand determines what is valuable and what is not. There, arguably, are too many 'physical skills' trades at current market prices. Given, this is a result of an energy-use paradigm that makes it profitable to import this:

from China, but the point still reamins valid. Demand, in turn, is the result of millions of individual choices. If I'm  buying something, I want to buy it as cheaply as possible. I've no incentive to pay extra. Until that situation changes America will be oversupplied with physical skills because foreigners will do it cheaper.

Either underlying economic conditions have to change - Peak Oil, the culture has to change, or government has to change  in order to get out of this infotainment economy. Otherwise, it's just not rational to invest in skills that can be done  much cheaper overseas.  

Perhaps the problem is the way wealth is defined. Cutting hair is a service and gets counted in GDP just as much as producing an auto does. What is different about creating a service in the form of entertaining videos/information. Does the New York Times not create wealth.  I don't think wealth is simply physical stuff.  

Besides, I would rather see people watching videos than buying more cars.  

Further, psychic income, as identified by Jerry Brown thirty something years ago is just if not more important than what people classify as real income.  Ultimately, beyond basic physical needs, it is the psychic reward from a good or service, however intangible, that is important.

A lot of people here deal in information processing, creation, and sharing for a living. Are they all not producing "real" wealth.  Keep your "real" wealth.  I'll take a small percentage of Bill Gates' "unreal" wealth.

When people pay real money for infotainment (e.g., rent a DVD) then it's an infotainment industry.  When people get the product more or less for free, and the revenue comes from ads (e.g., YouTube, Google, TV, magazines), then it's just an appendage of the industries that make the products that are advertised, and is dependent not only on the demand for those products, but also on those products being sold at a fat enough profit to pay for the ads.  It all boils down to the Age of Exuberance, the Oil Party, which allowed most of us in the "first world" to get away from the real wealth production (farming, etc) while still enjoying our share of the real wealth (if you're hungry you don't go looking for dog perfumes).  Of course things like art are valueable, but their creation depends on there being a surplus of food, clothing, and shelter so as to support the people who create it.  There are many ways to re-shuffle the division of the pie (e.g., should farmers get more and ADM less out of the sales of corn?), but the total size of the pie depends on physics, not economics, and is about to shrink.
Yes, but the question of how much is used is also a point. If for example you can use information technology - data, crunching, communication, etc -- to better design systems, for example to five barrels of oil, instead of ten, there's great value in this, but I don't believe this is going to be valued correctly by traditional market mechanisms, which overwhelming values on gross amount produced.
I don't know if Detroit is part of a larger catabolic collapse or not, but I agree that it's instructional.  It's what collapse will look like (barring a Katrina-like sudden disaster, anyway).  

Something similar in my area happened, when the blue chip major employer had problems and was forced to lay off or transfer thousands of workers.  The day the announcement was made, police asked gun shops to close...just in case.  Real estate prices fell 50%, as people transferred out were forced to sell, and there were no buyers.  Dozens of restaurants went out of business, since eating out is the first thing people cut back on.  Many no-tell motels - the kind that rent rooms by the hour - also went belly-up, because they relied on office workers having affairs for their business.

Ford and GM may be dying but Toyota is not . So, I think it is premature to ascribe any cosmic signifiance to Detroit's demise. For a variety of reasons, it cannot compete but that doesn't mean the Japanese and the Chinese and the Koreans and the Indians won't take up the slack. Same thing applies to outsource programmers.  It is globalzation at work.  When the entire auto industry starts to implode, then we can start speculating about catobolic or whatever collapse.

But really, we need to transition anyway from an auto centric economy to an economy that focuses on moving people and object, when necessary, in the most efficient way. When that paradigm becomes reality, then those auto companies which cannot evolve to people and object moving will diappear.

An auto moving me across town for a meetingcreates value, but so do electrons that move my thoughts across the globe.  I would argue that the value/energy proposition is much greater represented by the latter.

Tstreet: Yes, money will continue to be made. "Wealth" will continue to be created. However, the two corporations that did the most to build the treasured American "middle class" everyone loves are on the way out and this will provide new challenges for the forsaken middle class.


Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Or it could be that a city which has built itself around a single industry is suffering the effects of stupid decisions by the Carmakers and Unions.

Cars are still being sold.  The problem is the type of car being sold has changed, and Ford and GM have not been agile enough to meet the changing market demands.  They are relying on a paradigm, that has been made obsolete due to fuel cost concerns.

GM and Ford continue trying to push innefficient cars and as a result are losing market share.  The share is being picked up by companies like Toyota who is set to become the second largest automaker in the world, supplanting Ford's long held title.

Add to this the added stress of years of stupid stupid deals with the Unions in which these companies pay a workforce that doesn't work, and its no wonder these guys can't hold up enough profit to support themselves.

Ford and GM are going to tank, and when they do, the best thing that could happen in my opinion is that the government lets them.  If the government bails them out, they will not learn the lessons which need to be taught and America won't refine and streamline its auto-making business into an agile and mean industry like it used to be.

But to say this is catabolic collapse is over-reacting just a tad.

Toyota is already #2 based on 2005 info.  They are ready to become #1 in 08/09.


In Millions
GM: 9040(M)
Toyota: 7100(M)
Ford: 6418(M)
VW: 5173(M)
DaimlerChrysler: 4319(M)

If we were experiencing the first months of catabolic collapse, or any other form of collapse due to oil production peaking, what would you expect the first signs to look like?

The US auto companies had a good game going with SUVs.  As long as people were willing to shell out money for expensive trucks, the auto companies could make enough money to make good on their exorbitant agreements with the unions while slowly moving production off shore.  The problem came when oil and gasoline prices quickly increased and killed off consumer desire for gas guzzling trucks.  Isn't that an early version of the price increases we would expect from oil production peaking?  

Collapse doesn't have to be a sudden, all-encompassing phenomenon, IMHO.  Catabolic collapse in particular, is a slow, grinding process of decline (John Michael Greer's recent posts help to elucidate his original paper.)  While I can't say that this is, or is not, a sign of things to come for the rest of the country, it is what I would expect to see as part of a decline process.  It's like the current oil production numbers.  It isn't necessarily oil peaking, but I would expect the first months after production peaking to look something like the present.

I understand what you are trying to say in that oil peaking would've had those effects, and certainly that may be the case now.  However, Toyota is not tanking... why?  Nissan, Kia, Mitsubishi, etc are not tanking.  Why?

Wouldn't peak oil have the same effects on them, given they are in the same industry?

If anything the recent spike in oil prices and subsequent gasoline prices did was expose the rot GM and Ford are suffering for stupid mistakes and their inability to move with the market.

The downfall of GM and Ford is not so much high oil, in as much as it is lack of adaptability due to bad decisions.  My question would be, if GM succeeded in moving forward with hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles to meet demand, would they be in the predicament they are in now?  More over if they hadn't made some boneheaded moves with their Unions would they be suffering?

GM and Ford were in trouble even if oil stayed cheap.  High oil has just hastened their demise.  Meanwhile other companies are thriving because of the new paradigm shift they adopted.

No, peak oil wouldn't have the same effect on them, because those companies all have large portfolios of fuel-efficient cars.  The US auto industry's profits were from fuel-inefficient trucks, so they are being hit by far the hardest.   Please don't pretend the new introductions and tiny sales of full-size trucks by Toyota and Nissan indicate that they were equally vulnerable.

You seem to have missed the point that the US auto industry was already moving production off-shore to deal with excessive wages and benefits in the US.  This was the whole point of Delphi and Visteon.  If prices hadn't spiked and killed off the SUV cash cow, the US manufacturers would have been much more successful at slowly shifting to lower-cost foreign workers.  The foreign companies already had that advantage, without the baggage of the US healthcare and pension non-systems.  

Are you aware that GM was working on hybrids in the 60s?  They dropped them because there clearly wasn't a profitable market in the US at the time.  You have a very low opinion of some very bright people who have done a surprisingly good job of maintaining profits in the face of a disfunctional US system.  The US manufacturers have clearly been caught on the wrong foot with the quick rise in oil prices, and I do agree that they are in trouble, but this is very much an oil price, and therefore peak oil, story as well as one of globalization.  

I agree its a PO story because high oil costs are the straw that broke the camels back for these companies.

But even before oil spiked, these companies were in trouble due to bad management decisions and foreign auto-makers were making gains even then.

High oil costs simply broke GM and Ford sooner than if oil had remained low.  With no changes in their business model they were going to be doomed period.  High oil just caught them before they could make changes or hastened the result of sticking with their current business model.

I don't dispute that high oil is A cause for GM's and Ford's troubles, what I dispute is that this is somehow an early example of the beginning of a long catabolic collapse people keep talking about or perhaps more appropriately that it is too early to call this an example of the beginning of the catabolic end.

If GM and Ford rebound in 10 years and Detroit improves wouldn't that put the lie to this assessment of it being the beginning of a catabolic end?

As a U.S. citizen I tend to believe that what happens here is happening everywhere. When our auto industry struggles that must mean that foreign auto makers are struggling. But it seems as though that is not the case.

My concern, though, is that the Detroit thing may be less about global catabolic collapse and more about globalization and energy inefficiency catching up with the U.S. way of life. Other countries can do it for less (less energy and less money), and we're on the losing end. Standards of living in industrialized and semi-industrialized countries look to be evening out. Our lifestyle paradigm is impermanent.

I understand that what I'm describing is doomerish, saying "OK, so the world may not collapse, but the US will", and you're probably rolling your eyes, depending on who you are, but damn. How can you people (HaHaHa, "you people") maintain your optimism? We're presumably reading the same articles, blogs, posts, etc, so why do I find it so hard to believe that everything will work out?

I have a feeling that part of the appeal of this site is that realists ("doomers") find it entertaining to read posts by cornucopians ("optimists"), and vice versa. It trips my trigger.

Tom A-B

I think once we throw away the extreme positions we get to some real hard questions.  Doomers and true Cornucopians are selling something, not wrestling with those problems.

IMO, one hard question with respect to globalization is, what's the trade-off between "I've got mine, tough luck to you poor countries" and "let's all share opportunities on a global scale."

I mean, a Doomer might quote Indian suicide statistics to confirm where we are heading.  A Cornucopain might quote rising middle class incomes in India.

A harder question is how much we should give up, and how much we deserve.

Check out David Ricardos compartive advantage thesis to explain why gloabization makes sense to countries as a whole.
I've actually seen that.  Questions left after considering it were: 1) what is the optimium rate of change, if one does wish to revamp trade structure?  2) to what extent were we leaving a non-market framework (union culture, labor laws, safety laws, environmental laws) even as we changed trade structure?
Opt rate of change? Do you mean how fast should one country abandon performing XXX while the other ramps up production of XXX?  If so, it's not addressed as the point isn't getting from one to the other, but rather the aggregate benefits of one country specializing versus the other.

The second questions I don't quite understand what you're getting at.  Whose "we"?

Keep in mind their opportunity costs hidden in this.  I took an International Marketing class all about globalization.  To failing of the policy in practice is providing alternatives that are on par.  You can find stories on both sides, where people got laid off but some found better work it turned out.  Others never recovered and still some more stayed the same.  I would be very curious as to the scientific distribution of the phenomenon.

Also gov't is suppose to provide all the necessary credits to get trained to do something else.  You should be able to get trained to some degree for near free.  Obviously we don't have that, so we do have a race to the bottom.  IMHO globalization works great on paper, and even better for businesses.  However the aggregate problems that are unaddressed are undermining the entire arrangement.

All the businesses who don't worry about who will continue to be able to buy their prodcuts are collectively eroding their consumer base.  It's argued that on net the US hasn't lost any jobs from globalization, however I would be more interested in BLS "underutilized workers" aka engineers flipping burgers.

By rate of change, I start with the assumption that there were obstructions to trade, and that those were removed by treaty ... all of a sudden?

If that's generally true, of course a bicycle maker in the US is going to have the rug pulled out, whereas perhaps a slow change in trade barriers would allow more time for planning and adjustment.

Or am I being too simple about that?  I don't actually know the nuts and bolts of the legal changes that allowed the manufacturing shift.

The second question is similar to what someone else said ... when we have a post-capitalist economy, directing companies toward social goals, and we suddenly open the door to competition from companies (and countries) without those same burdens, what happens?

I mean, in the case of environmental laws it is easiest to see.  To what degree is Saudi-manufactured gasoline cheaper than US-manufactured gasoline simply because they do not have the same clean air restrictions?

I wish I were more educated when I took that course.  As for the barriers themselves.  I'm sure it worked more alon the lines of powerful companies lobbying congress to remove certain restrictions and thereby those companies were already positioned well when the changes came.  Look at NAFTA.  You mean to tell me it just got passed one day wihout planning by companies?

Any CEO who didnt plan according to NAFTA should have been fired since they couldnt see the changes ahead.  The barriers themselves are many times indirect like subsidies being argued over at the WTO over agriculture.  I would assume that there is planning at Big Biz, but the smaller guys would lose out. Any company cognizant enough to realize the benefits of moving production overseas, while maintaing HQ in the states made a killign when this started.

The social costs we burden companies with does harm the competiveness of these businesses on the world scale.  So far, we're not budging.  In the history I think the period following post WWII through the early 70's will be considered the cream of the crop in terms of national prosperity shared by the most.  And that's in spite of the new amendments added to the Constitution during this time.

The social issue actually boils down to externalized costs.  If you factored in the costs borne to society by the cheaper, more harmful Saudi gas per unit, I would wager that the true cost per unit is actually higher in KSA.  It would be hard to do this, but it works as an aggregate theory.

Is the current US way of life doomed?  Barring some techno-miracle I tend to think so also.

But there are alternate models which if adopted in the US could lead to a very comfortable way of life that is not as dissimlar from our current life as people think.  What many avid doomers seem to dismiss out of hand are the strides being made in alternative energy fields, and the amount of efficiency to be gained from other innovations.

Case in point of something I brought up a few weeks back.  Current air travel done by planes is certainly speedy, but horribly innefficient when you consider tons moved per fuel unit consumed.

Sacrifice some speed however and move to blimps, and all of sudden the ratio is looking a whole lot better.  Consider even further that recent improvements in airship(terminology I've seen being used instead of blimp) design coupled with solar generation and we have a WAY different energy profile.  And that net loss of speed?  compared to the current 1 day trip, airships would take about 6 days for a trip halfway around the world.

Or consider railroads that AlanfromBigEasy is so fond of.

Or the concept of decentralizing office work.

And those are just conservation techniques.  When you look at the other half, such as improving yields from Wind turbines, improvements in tidal power design, improvements in solar panel design and so forth, and you now have a technological recipe for success if we can get the two sides to meet in the middle.

A lot of people claim technology can't get us out of this one.  I think that is a very narrow view point which excludes a range of possibilities.  As someone pointed out to me, energy isn't really produced, and I responded with a correction of myself saying its harvested.  Potentially the limit of our growth in energy usage is limited by how much energy is out there to be harvested.  And in that vein the earth is pelted with how many terrawatts of power, the question now is how do we make a tool capable of harvesting it.  Lack of energy is NOT the problem.  Lack of ability to harvest energy besides fossil fuels is the problem.

Lack of energy is NOT the problem.  Lack of ability to harvest energy besides fossil fuels is the problem.

Great point.

In view of the fact that the amount of energy is finite, and that using it produces waste, you might want to give that another minute.

It just takes more energy to solve the problems?

How finite is the question.  I agree the infinite growth idea taken literally is from a Physics stand point silly.

But from a practical stand point there is a whole universe of energy and mass out there to be used.  The trick is figuring out how to harvest it.  The Earth is a finite sphere with a finite amount of mass and energy, agreed.  But the focus that oil is the ONLY form of energy is a misplaced focus.  There are other forms of energy around to be tapped, if we can figure out how to do so.  Again I ask, how many terrawatts of power does the sun hit us with each day/week/year?

Can we capture all of that and direct its use?  Probably not, but even if we could capture a fraction of it how would that change the game for people on this planet?

Note how you ignore the 2nd law.

The trick is not to use the energy.


Have you read Isacc Asimov's "The Last Question"?




Daly used Schrödinger definition of the 2nd law to formulate a corollary that offers the prime reason to cut energy consumption:

Erwin Schrodinger (1945) has described life as a system in steady-state thermodynamic disequilibrium that maintains its constant distance from equilibrium (death) by feeding on low entropy from its environment--that is, by exchanging high-entropy outputs for low-entropy inputs.

The same statement would hold verbatium as a physical description of our economic process.

A corollary of this statement is that an organism cannot live in a medium of its own waste products.

VALUING THE EARTH, Daly and Townsend

and Woody Allen has the last word:

In the beginning there was nothing.

And God said: 'let there be light'.

And there was still nothing

But now you could see it.

it's a good story. but thats all it is, a story written by a science fiction author.
and science fiction that is good takes the physical laws and breaks them in such a way to be believable.
you have been blinded by a story. a story that does nothing to solve our problems in the same way that eating the paper it was originally printed on helps to keep a person alive.

I don't think I've been blinded by anything.  I never tried to  represent the story as anything other then an amusing anecdote.  

Roel pointed out that the second law of thermodynamics means that entropy is constantly increasing.  And it is.  (That's why it's a law)  But fortunatly the earth is not exactly an isolated system.  The Sun is constantly supplying the earth with energy.  

We may not have a suitable technology to totally replace fossil fuels use with that energy yet (ever?), but the energy will be there, at least for another 4 or 5 billion years.


the crux is what Asimov doesn't address, but Daly does in the quote I sent yesterday: the waste produced when using energy, low to high entropy

we cannot survive in a high entropy environment, there is a limit, just take a look at rising temps today

nuclear fusion. like the sun,  means not just unlimited energy, it also means unlimited waste, and you have to do something with that

in the case of the sun, there's heat regeneration, which keeps the planet's temperature constant

there's nothing we ourselves can do that matches that

just finding more energy to use makes the problems worse, not better

I don't want to disagree with you, and certainly there are numerous challenges facing the world as we race into the 21st century, but...

1. I think things are much better now then they were even 20 years ago.  Most days this summer the Charles River here in Boston was considered safe to swim in.  Recycling is much more prominent now then it was 20 years ago as well.

Certainly global warming is a concern, but if we're at or near peak oil, the ever increasing carbon waste cycle should be mitigated to some extent.

Please don't misinterpret me - I'm pro carbon neutral energy and I'm anti coal, but it's a big world and you can't change things overnight.

2. In the end, we're all dead anyways.  :)

Regarding #2

But delaying extinction as long as possible is a good thing !

Best Hopes,


For every species but green, and perhaps purple, sulfur bacteria.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=00037A5D-A938-150E-A93883414B7F0000& pageNumber=5&catID=2

Best Hopes that we delay this for millions of years !


The key issue is really power, and delivering it to the right end use.
We have the retreads:
  • Nuclear
  • "Clean" Coal
  • Ugly Oil (Deep Sea, Tar Sands, Oil Shale, CTL, etc.)
And we have plenty of renewable candidates:
  • Solar(photovoltaic, solar thermal, biofuels, biomass, wind, hydroelectric, etc.)
  • Geothermal
  • Tidal
The problem is to come up with a winning combination which will replace the diminshing supply of cheap stuff and/or stave off climate catastrophy. Having a promising technology isn't enough. It has to scale (or they have to collectively scale) and the infrastructure has to be built.
As noted in the Hirsh report, all this takes time that we don't really have anymore, and it's hard to see how we will get there smoothly when the problem becomes obvious to everyone.
One solution; order of magnitude improvements in efficiency.

Transport container on heavy truck > 20 BTUs diesel
Transport container on electric railroad > 1 BTU electricity

Transport commuter via private car > 20 BTUs gasoline
Transport commuter via electric rail > 4 BTUs electricity
Move commuter into TOD, where (s)he walks/bikes to grocery, etc. and takes electric rail to work > 1 BTU electricity

(just got back from my 5mi hike to bank and grocery)
Just got back from Brigtsen's (he was nominated more times for James Beard award than anyone before winning).  Light dinner of butternut squash shrimp bisque (bowl), strawberries tres leche' (three milks, coconut, condensed & whole) with chocolate mousse and cafe au lait.  $18 + $6 tip :-)

Took bus home (streetcar working next year ;-(

I have a bank 3 blocks away and others 5 & 7 blocks away.  5 places to buy food within 6 blocks.

Attended community meeting to "get back into the swing" on grants awards (Lt. Gov was there).

Home sweet disaster zone !

Best Hopes,


I'm all for efficiency improvements, and I agree these steps should be taken first. Moving freight to electric rail has very high capital costs, and you will have to fight the trucking interests tooth and nail. It's hard to envision this happening without very high diesel prices or shortages.
Very high capital costs !?!

Have you read the Hirsch, Bezdek & Wendling report for the DoE ?


or more (5 trill is just lower bound)

US national debt (minus that held by Federal Reserve & Social Security).

Trivial capital costs for intermodal transfer, added double tracks in a places and ~$2.5 million/mile for electrification.

Best Hopes,


Come on, Allen. I'm not saying electrification costs are higher than the costs of the boondoggles proposed in that report. But with an impending recession, I don't see it happening. Plus, you need to add in the costs of adapting the rest of the freight delivery infrastructure (last mile, etc.). Too much logistics, too much money for this to happen at the scale needed.
I've been thinking about the best way to do this on a national scale - as there are a plethora of options for local mass transit.

Aerodynamic Inductrack maglev car shells 16ftx16ftx40ft with horizontal-rollout passenger pod / freight loading, combined with roughly 6000-8000 miles of track along major corridors, could haul thousands of people and ISO containers along major routes at 250-400mph.  Extremely long trains partially devoted to freight and one quick-loading 5 minute stop per major metropolitan area (at the airport, with around 6-8 stops on each coast), and you could get from coast to coast in 12 hours of roomy, quiet comfort for a few kilowatts.  As could your car or your prefab house along with you.

Inductrack is safe, it's speed-scalable (if a corridor is of interest, evacuated tubes can be constructed at great expense and you can take the ride at mach 10), and it doesn't require superconductors, cryogenics, or fully-powered tracks.  I've came up with a plausible design for solid state switches so that mechanical wear is not a problem.  Leaning can be accomplished naturally/passively by curving the surface when you depart from the requirements of 20 foot high doublestack 100 ton cars on 4' 8.5" wide standard guage tracks.

It could take a big chunk out of long-haul trucking as well as air travel, and provides the crucial high-speed intercity link that's very close to missing in discussions of mass transit.  Right now, grade crossings, stops every 10 miles, 30mph freight trains, vibration/noise, and high priced, low capacity express services kind of kills traditional rail as compared to the conveniance of driving right now.  A highspeed, low-stop maglev provides the hub for the conventional rail networks, the Metrs, the streetcars, and various other municipal systems (as well as regional/local trucking) to spoke.

Unproven "gadgetbahn".  

If this were Carter's second term, I could support a short trial line AFTER all "we know this works" projects were funded and moving forward.

At this stage of the game, I am not willing to gamble on this and STRONGLY advise against it. TOO many unproven details (power consumption ?, Construction costs ?  Controls ?)

I would like to see a "semi-high speed" (pax at max 110 mph, avg 100 mph and freight at max 100 mph, avg 90 mph) convential rail system built between major cities.

Best Hopes,


Re: Inductrack:
The neodymium magnets and (surprisingly simple) halbach arrays to make it possible were only invented in the '80's.  As the other maglev techs already had test tracks at that time...  The latest news releases I can find are from the full-scale-prototype-building phase, after two working scale models were built and operated as expected.  Unlike active or superconducting units, there is a very high degree of accuracy to simulations apparently.

It just looks to me like an obviously better system, surpassing the major problems of the other two maglev techs.  Levitation power increases with mass and decreases with speed - supposedly very little power is required compared to aerodynamic drag at high speeds.  Track costs involves simple inductive bundles of wire, and some method of propulsion.  Propulsion is anything you want to use - jet engines have been mentioned, but a pulsed field vs halbach or linear induction motor would be simpler and more energy efficient.

Look into it, Inductrack looks like a win-win that actually makes maglev economic.

In other news, Japan's superconducting maglevs have just successfully used liquid nitrogen cooled high-temp superconductors - a huge step up from liquid helium.

ANY mag-lev technology is unproven "gadgetbahn".  

Claiming that yours is the best does not mean that it is prudent to consider building it in quantity and staking the future of our society on it.

The US is WAY behind the curve.  Let the Japanese or Germans or French, who have some breathing room experiment with it.

We need the basics, something that will work predictably !


Cursive writing rapidly becoming passé

The computer keyboard helped kill shorthand, and now it's threatening to finish off longhand.

When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters.

If you're planning to write down knowledge to save it for future generations, better block-print.  Apparently, a lot of kids these days can't even read cursive.

I was taught cursive in school, but now all I ever do is print. Another issue is legibility. I used to have very good penmenship, but now, since all I ever do is type, I can barely read my own writing.

I was in an elementary school (In Boston) earlier this year to meet with a few teachers and the principals.  One of the things I asked was what grade were students being taught cursive.  The answer was, they really aren't being taught it....

If it's not on the MCAS, schools aren't teaching it.

Actually it's faster to print than write cursive.
Let alone cuneiform!!! ;-)
Is that similiar in shape to cuneate-ass?
I dno't nkow, I cnan't evne tpye...
I spent good money learning how to print in drafting class and I'll be dammned if I'm not going to use it.
Err, as a trained papyrologist I wouldn't be so pessimistic. If you really want to read a text, you can pretty much learn the techniques required to be able to read just about any sort of text, including 2000-year-old cursive. I can assure you I have "cracked" several Greek papyri that initially looked totally illegible and had lots of letters and even words missing (due to wholes etc.). And while I had to work quite hard on them, my professors clearly didn't.

A related point I made some time ago is whether our paper will last very long. While good quality stuff may, a lot of the poorer quality paper definitely won't. I think this is a far more important issue when it comes to writing down knowledge for future generations or whatever. After all, nobody can read, say, ancient Greek without studying it for quite some time, but most of the extant Greek papyri have been studied by many scholars and we generally have a very good idea about their contents. If only we had more of those papyri!

I'm not from the US, so I find this surprising in the extreme. In Asian societies where English is learnt as a second language (e.g. in Hong Kong), students still learn to write cursive - indeed they have a quite unique and rather attractive way of writing: my wife's handwriting looks much better than mine, and she is writing in her second language! And of course they put an immense amount of effort into learning written Chinese. So we have to ask, just how much does it take to teach a kid to write cursive English? It can't be that hard. Is the US education system so stretched and/or computer reliant that it can't even teach an efficient way of using a pen?

And I very much doubt what someone else said about printing being faster than cursive. Certainly cursive is less tiring.

Chalk one up for another blow against the aesthetics of the everyday.

Update on the Nigeria story:

Most hostages in Nigeria oil raid freed

LAGOS, Nigeria - Most of the dozens of troops and oil workers taken hostage in a raid on a navy base and neighboring oil facility in southern Nigeria have been released, police said Wednesday.

And what did it take to gain their release?

"Last night there was a discussion between the government and militant leaders and we think we have reached an agreement," Ringim said. "We will see if the conditions have been fulfilled by noon."

He did not elaborate on the deal, but said the attackers had initially demanded that the oil company supply light and water to the local community and tackle erosion problems, he said. They also demanded money, although he declined to say how much.

Armed fighters frequently attack oil installations in Nigeria's poverty-stricken southern Delta. Although Nigeria is Africa's largest exporter of crude, government corruption means there is little infrastructure like clean water, regular electricity or roads. Many communities turn to the oil companies to provide services, provoking clashes when demands are not met.

Government corruption only?  And not also that of the Western oil majors, who readily acquiesce to and facilitate the paradigm of corruption and exploitation for the sake of their own filthy lucre?

Give me a break.

Demand Dropping?

Another reason for falling prices WSJ:

But the fact that Alcoa missed analysts' estimates shows how commodities producers could find it tough in this earnings season and future quarters to match previous profit gains as well as the expectations of investors, especially amid signs that world economic growth may be slowing. It also shows the ripple effect from the U.S. auto industry's troubles and the cooling housing market, both of which hurt Alcoa's results.
I think the prices of many commodities, including oil, have fallen to the point that they are now undervalued, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's time to purchase them.  I've never agreed with the, "value investing" philosophy, since many times assets which are undervalued remain that way for years, or even collapse to far greater extremes of undervaluation, and just because an asset is overvalued doesn't mean that it can't still double, triple, or even quadruple in price.  What's interesting today, I think, is that while we've seen many commodities lose 20-30% of their value over the course of the last two months, equities have actually risen.  This is unusual since declining liquidity typically leads to falls in both equities and commodities.  Right now, insider selling of equities is reaching the kind of extremes we saw with commodities two months ago.  Volatility measures indicate high levels of complacency among equities investors, the same kind of complacency we saw in commodities investors two months ago.  The Nasdaq is at 2315.  Most people probably think that's an all-time high.  Most people probably don't even know that we're in a bear market, where every high is a lower-high.  If the insiders are selling, who's buying?  Is history about to repeat itself?  1800 by the end of the year?  You didn't hear it from me.      
Oh for the days of the NASDAQ at 5000, when oil was at ten dollars a barrel, and the world at peace(kinda). All was right with the world, there were on problems that couldn't be solved by the invisible hand, we were at the beginning of the Long Boom.

Boy there's so many contradictions in the global economy. There's an ocean of liquidity out there. Interesting about the insiders selling, I've seen a couple thing on that.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if the stock market crashed in this quarter and into next year. I would call it another piece of the puzzle (the last piece?) falling into place for a deflationary depression. Emerging markets are down, commodities are down, real estate is down etc as liquidity declines. Hedge funds are likely to be in trouble shortly as well IMO. This is a recipe for a round of involuntary debt liqudation (ie deflation), compounded by leverage.
Ever read "Snow Crash?"

A little dated now, but opens with "Hiro Protagonist" pizza delivery man, who also claims to be the Worlds Greatest Swordsman.

Disinflationary?  I'm on board.
SAT - as a break from HTML coding - which is fun - just dipped into Drumbeat to get cheared up - listening to Neil Young - Heart of Gold - and where's the CEO these days - interloped with Staurt Staniford I bet - or maybe he just can't stand the thought I booked a round trip to Paris (via Boston).  Would you believe it - on my I-tunes random play - I got Paul Simon Boy in the Bubble playing now.
Oil CEO is busy working on a book, actually.  It's called, "Paris, Pink Bubbles, and the Peaking of Global Hydrocarbons."
If I remember correctly, the subtitle is, "Shut the fuck up.  We love you."  

Was it your son who's birthday is also November 15th?

My younger one - 13 years old - musical and mathematical - loves Rachmaninov - thinks I'm a bit of a moron.  He doesn't understand the principle of buying on peaks and selling in troughs. Still 5 weeks till 15th Nov - my birthday is between now and then.

I'm begining to think the CEO is past peak.

The book title should be:

"Twin peaks of the Paris Basin, drilling, production and decline"

The CEO is in lurk mode. I'm working on some new graphs and actually bought two books which I've finished and will recommend soon.

Score on the $57, SAT. But I think I got you beat. My one-day call on Monday was pretty sharp.

Cry Wolf - For $105/night, the Buckminster Hotel in Kenmore Square
is decent. Tiny Rooms for that price, but it works. Also the Howard Johnson's across the street (Commonwealth Avenue) should be decent as well. I've only actually stayed in the Buckminster. Both walking distance and you are also right Downtown. Or practically. It's actually Back Bay which is better at night.

Check Google Maps for other ideas close by. If you want to do some walking or be close-cab-ride distance. I'd recommend MIT/Kendall Square area but I can't think of any cheap hotels in the area off the top of my head.

Everybody - Start thinking of excuses for when oil hits $53. And Agric - Start thinking of a real good one for when it hits $48.

1800, eh?  SAT speaks, now we listen.  And where will Au be then?
"Reporting this week in the online edition of The Lancet, a leading British medical journal, the researchers estimated that 654,000 more Iraqis died of various causes after the invasion than would have died in a comparable period before."

Now let's add in the 1,000,000 plus who died in the 90's from the "sanctions".  I like nice round numbers, let's just say that, since 1991, the actions of the US gov't have led to the deaths of 2 million Iraqis.

At what point do we admit that this is genocide???

Turning Iraq into a "killing field" was always plan 1A if the Iraqis didn't willingly submit to having their country (and their oil) stolen from them.

The so-called "three-state solution," if implemented, will do nothing but accelerate the country's descent into complete chaos and increase the daily death toll.

The use of genocide to control the world's energy sources has been lurking beneath the radar since the oil embargo days in the 70s. Sadly, I suspect that a solid percentage of Americans would rather "wipe out the brown people" than contemplate any diminishment in their own bloated standard of living.

So, yes, this Iraq debacle is certainly an example of genocide, but much more killing is on the way.

Well put.  And the use of depleted uranium weapons is something that is being ignored.  I don't see it discussed much here at TOD either.  I recommend looking into it if you haven't already.
500,000 troop participated in 1991's "Desert Storm".  Around 100 were killed and 500 injured in combat.  The rest returned home in relatively good shape.
Today over 275,000 of them are on full medical disability.  Over 10,000 have died. Mostly young men.  From the mysterious "Gulf War Syndrome".  High rates of birth defects in their recent offspring.  Independent tests show some have radioactive pee!
The military goes to great lengths to demonstrate that the use of DU doesn't increase the level of background radiation significantly.  This is true.  However, notice them saying "of course you shouldn't ingest or inhale these particles.  We don't know what the possible results of that would be".  If someone can tell me how to avoid ingesting or inhaling a radioactive particle I'd like to hear the strategy.  I guess very brief visits is the best advice, right George?  I'll bet he doesn't eat or drink anything that doesn't come off his own plane...

Great point. I actually have taken note of the DU situation. Truly tragic, and a war crime if there ever was one. The following article lays out the issue, and elaborates on some of the things you said:

U.S. military spreads radiation contamination against the Iraq population

... All these acts are crimes against humanity because these weapons are causing undifferentiated harm and suffering to civilians in all contaminated areas. Health effects can range from fatigue and muscular pain to genetic disorder, chromosome aberrations, and malignancies. Existence of DU in the environment will maintain continuous exposure to both toxic and radioactive effects which represent continuous systematic attacks on civilians in an armed conflict (Article 4 of the official regulations and article 7 of ICC).

I wonder of those responsible for this criminal policy will ever have to face the ICC?

Next thing to wonder about is how many Iraqis suffer from DU effects, or have already died from them. More than 50% of US troops have, and they were probably better protected (though perhaps not by muuch, if you see these numbers). What would a Baghdad hospital look like today?

Next chapter in the saga: Israel used US DU in Lebanon this summer.

Oh, and of course if the military can't even be bothered to count how many people we kill when we launch a missle into a residential neighborhood to try and get Saddam (remember that in the first week or 2 of the war?) or any other 'body counts', don't hold your breath for this study.
DU is a canard, little worse (if at all) than using lead bullets (both are heavy metals).

The radiation exposure that ALL humans get from elevated Carbon 14 levels from above ground atomic tests (SU, US, France, UK, China) far exceed the levels in Iraq from DU.

We explored this is some detail on TOD early this year.

No case.


All heavy metals, if I'm not mistaken, are toxic to various degrees. Breathing in lead dust and other exposure to it is not healthy. I suppose the question is, how much MORE dangerous is DU than lead? Is it simply a matter of, say, DU is 5 times heavier than lead so it's 5 times more toxic? Are there more toxic side effects than with lead?
I've heard extremes on both sides and my general opinion with situations like this is assume something in the middle, and even that is not a good situation for those involved.
Uranium binds directly to DNA, a special attribute that causes extreme toxicity unrelated  to the radioactivity.  This is also the cause of DU related birth defects, not the radioactivity.  The toxicity of uranium (all isotopes) is well known outside the nations that have weaponized it.  There is extreme censorship in the US scientific community on this subject, and total coverup inside the VA.

When I was at Caltech in the 1970s we used uranyl acetate (a uranium compound) as a reagent to "stain" DNA strands so we could photograph them with electron microscopy.  This is something any competent molecular biologist knows, and not new information.

Interesting !  

I read some of the early works (1970s/80s) on toxicology of uranium miners and there were some bad effects.

Most interesting was lung cancer rates.  Non-smoking U miners from 1950s (poor ventialtions then) had rates of lung cancer = to 1 to 2 pack/day smokers, but smoking U miners had rates x8 or so of non-mining smokers.  The delta was ascribed to radon exposure and that seemed reasonable (DU, being purified U, does not emit radon).

Acute uranium poisoning was quite rare and the toxicity of uranium appeared to be low.

OTOH, carbon 14 from above ground tests is part of DNA.  I am not aware of preferentiual exclusion of C 14 vs C 13 or C12.

You used a specific compound that is not formed naturally.  Is there any paper on uranium oxide or metallic uranium or a naturally occuring metabolic product of uranium that you can quote/link that shows that binds to DNA preferentially ?

DU is a canard, little worse (if at all) than using lead bullets (both are heavy metals).
No case.

Now whom should we believe:

Alan who would rather live in a shack with no plumbing, who believes that the rest of the nation should be trashed, so long as New Orleans, New York and San Francisco are saved

Or should one believe the many studies showing how DU when used BURNS (lead does not turn to Lead Oxide when it hits something) and the resulting DU is even detectable in the air in England.   How DU is shown to be a mutigen (being a heavy metal).

Anyone who'd say "I want to live in a shack w/o plumbing" just to stay in one location shows an ability to disreguard data to support a POV.   Even a willingness to harm others (untreated sewage) so long as thier worldview is supported.

Feel free to refute MicroHydro.  Feel free to show the Uranium does no DNA damage.  Feel free to show that there is no DU from its use in the air.    You've made the claim of "no case".   Prove it.

Argumentum ad hominem
Argumentum ad hominem

So you do not refute that:

DU is in the global air stream.
DU burns (unlike lead) when it hits a target.  (thus you admit you claim that lead is just like DU is wrong)
DU is a mutigen.

You also do not refute that a desire to life in a shack without plumbing in a city is historically a plan to create water borne diease epidemics.

If you consider the size of Iraq's population, then 655,000 more people dying since the invasion than would otherwise have happened, is the equivalent of the US having about two and a half 911s every single day.
Slight correction - not that it makes much difference - it's the equivalent of the US having two 911s every day.
Bush doesn't think the methodology to produce these number is valid, as if he knows anything about methodology, science, or statistics.  Well, ok, what are your numbers, George, and be sure to make the methodology transparent so we can independently verify your conclusions.  

Kind of makes Bush's talk about mass graves and the evil of Saddam a bit hollow. But I guess all those dead people are free now, free at last.

Haven't we done enough damage?  The question is, if your genocide is deemed to be mostly accidental and unforeseen because you don't have a clue and did not post war planning, are you still a war criminal.   Is this sort of like vehicular homicide?

You can pull an embedded pdf off the Lancet site:


Method and Stats all there.

The Lancet is a very respectable journal and would not
publish this without considerable thought. They do give a minimum and maximum range

Who would I believe: Dubya or the Lancet?

Mmmm. tricky one...

A funny, yet sad look at suburbia and PO concerns from the comic pages:

Hi and Lois

Makes perfect sense, actually.  
Well lookie here:

A mainstream electric bike featuring:
Front Hub      Schwinn Protanium Mini Motor with alloy shell

Wow, that is one good looking stealth electric.

And with the leather saddle it looks like they are letting some traditionalists/trendspotters run ...

The proliferation of e-bikes is good news indeed.  In my view, a front-hub motor is not ideal, in hilly country (Vermont), as the front wheel may slip when ascending steep hills (especially if not paved), and also the motor needs to work in a wide range of rotation speeds (no gearing) - the latter issue applies to rear hub motors too.  Perhaps some recent motor/controller combinations can handle the lack of gearing well enough?  Whatever the torque available from the motor, it is multiplied by the gearing.

Anyway, here's my ride: Giant Lite

After putting 1100 miles on it in two summers, I can say it works well.  The chain guard and internal rear-hub gearing make for a civilized experience (no more grease on pants, no danger of damaging the derailer by hitting it on something).  The motor is in the crank area and works through the gearing, just like the pedals.  It's not a "stealth" electric though.  To make it even more geeky (and much more comfortable) I replaced the handlebar with a "cruiser" type bar, like they sell it in Europe, and unlike the straight one in the picture.  Also added fenders.

The first two questions I always get asked: (1) is it electric, and (2) does it charge the batteries when using the brakes.  (sigh)

Mighty nice blank page.

And they don't strike me as a worldwide bike maker, unlike Shwinn,

Those guys have been announcing their fuel cell motorbike for as long as I've been tracking energy and peak oil (2+ years?).
There are a few projects at the lab I work at to introduce hydraulic hybrids.  In a hydraulic hybrid, the braking energy gets stored in highly pressurized hydraulic fluid instead of electric batteries.  Hydraulic fluid is an extremely efficient storage medium.  The project that gets all the attention is a joint venture with UPS and other companies to test hydraulic hybrid UPS trucks.

However, the other project is a hydraulic hybrid bicycle.  Some UM students are actually doing the work, with an engineer here as an adviser.  They have it down at the moment to a unit contained in an ungainly looking front wheel, but this coming year they are supposed to shrink the unit to a wheel that could work on an ordinary bike.  The control mechanisms have a long way to go, but this could be a valuable silver bb, especially for pedicabs and other heavy utility bikes.


I get this financial letter every day.  Great contrarian veiw on the markets.  This one is ALL about PEAK OIL.  It's from yesterday to boot.  Some of the excellent points...

It's as simple as that. We now have nine and a half months of "rearview
mirror" action to look back and see that world oil production has
retreated from its all-time high of just over 85 million barrels a day
(m/b/d) achieved in December 2005 (just as geologist Kenneth Deffeyes of
Princeton had predicted). For 2006, production has remained in the 84
m/b/d range every month reported so far, while demand has exceeded that.

Texas oil man Jeffrey Brown, a commentator at TheOilDrum.com, the
outstanding oil discussion group on the Internet, makes the point that
Saudi Arabia is at the same point statistically (in terms of ultimate
recoverable reserves) that Texas was at in 1972 when production there

Traffic may be going up as more readers of this daily letter check this out.

Where finance is concerned, the basic implication of peak oil is pretty
stark: an end to industrial expansion (i.e. "growth").

Sorry this is a long quote, but important for some of those here who may want a logic explanation for the increasing NYSE in spite of all the warning sirens going off...

Two special and transient circumstances are now propping up the financial
markets. One is that for practical purposes the world is virtually at
peak, meaning this is an extra-special time of strange behavior (like the
point in the apogee of a steep sub orbital flight in which passengers
become momentarily weightless). Supply and demand for oil are only
beginning to go out of whack (that is, demand just barely exceeding
supply). Even at this early stage, the oil markets themselves are showing
stress, as hoarding behavior sets in and induces wider swings of price
volatility. But these swings in oil prices - such as the one we're in
right now, where prices have crashed 20 percent since the panic buying
(hoarding) of June and July - send false signals to the financial playas.
The main false signal is that all is well on the global oil
scene...there's no real supply problem...and hence no threat to the
continuing expansion of industrial production and its associated
wealth-generating activities. This signal just tells the playas to buy
more paper markers. Thus, the stock market goes up.
Perhaps you may want to add this in your favorites
I put it up as I read.  WHen I got to the end, I looked at the author and realized most had probably read this somewhere else.  Sorry.  BTW, I have made him a new fav and I'll check in on him day to day.
He posts on Monday mornings.
"(like the
point in the apogee of a steep sub orbital flight in which passengers
become momentarily weightless)."

or...like jumping off a cliff.  It ain't the fall, ("wheee, I'm flying..."), it's that sudden stop...

Renewable Breakthrough in China ?

I was talking to Danish attache in DC and he mentioned something he heard from Vestas (#2 wind turbine maker in world, Danish) and said that I could repeat.

China has decided to build 121 GW of renewable electricity !  25 to 35 GW from wind.  I have not had time to research their grid demands, but with announced nuclear plants, this should dramatically reduce coal use & GW !  Add some Russian NG.

"Coal is a transistional energy" supposedly from China.


1.21 Gigawatts!  Power up the old flux capacitor dude!
121, not 1.21 GW :-)


Is it 121 GW renewables instead of coal, or is it in addition to?
in addition too. from what i have read they still plan on digging up coal and building new plants every few weeks.
I do not claim to be an expert in theories of why markets (oil, natural gas, stock, currencies) behave the way they do, but the ideas of Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard Hudson in The (Mis)behavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin, and Reward seem to make a lot of sense, when viewing the strange things we see, including the low current prices of oil and natural gas.

Mandelbrot argues that minute-to-minute and day-to-day changes in prices are not independent (as assumed in CAPM, Modern Portfolio Thoeory, and Black-Sholes). Instead, there are various outside events that influence markets - for example, the announcement of the Jack 2 oil find, or the perceived level of oil supply, as determined by weekly US oil supply statistics. The impact of each of these events is such that there is long-term correlation of prices, leading to long-term bubbles and dips in prices.

Mandelbrot argues that if one looks at the actual distribution of day-to-day price changes for virtually any market, one finds that instead of following a normal distribution, the distribution is more what one would expect under chaos theory - that is, the distribution looks vaguely normal, but has much fatter "tails". The likelihood of a change of 3, 4, 5 or even 10 standard deviations in a given day is vastly higher than what would be expected if the distribution were normal.

Based on Mandelbrot's ideas, what we can expect is that markets will tend to follow along in one track for a while, then will make a statistically huge move, when some new event comes along to influence it - say, the discovery that there is really a shortage of US oil stocks. Thus we should not gain too much confidence because US stock market prices are where they are, or feel too concerned because oil prices are where they are - both likely to suddenly change by significant amounts, as external events influence them.    

Thanks for the reference Gail.  This is THE Mandelbrot, of the Mandelbrot set fame.  That's a similar conclusion to that of Paul Ormerod in "Butterfly Economics", that unexpectedly large shifts in perceptions and markets are much more common than people believe.  Things follow a certain trajectory until the equilibrium is no longer stable and then a new equilibrium is found.  Ormerod traces the underlying behavior back to lower animals, pointing out some really surprising results from studies on ant behavior and seemingly chaotic systems.
Rational Choice theology has done more to damage critical thinking in economics than any other methodological system for the past 50 years. At least Econometricians acknowledge their statistical models are, at best, approximations of the real world. They have to because they are always looking at real data. Pure theorists, on the other hand, simply have to worship the magic can opener.


I've posted that article at TOD before, albeit several months ago if memory serves. If you're interested in markets and fractals you might like to check out Robert Prechter's work on socionomics. I find it fascinating, although I'm agnostic on the quantitative applications.
BTW, Mandelbrot's book is on hold at the library for me to pick up tomorrow.  Thanks for pointing it out!
T h e   t i c k i n g   s o u n d s   b e l o w   t h e   s a n d s

Some articles are truly informative:
We learn about the quality of Saudi oil, and the inability of its refineries to process that oil (the House of Saud has invested heavily in refineries for decades, but apparently not for the crude they produce these days):

Saudi to Halt Gasoline Imports with Low-Octane Fuel

"If there are no refinery outages, Saudi will be sufficient to meet domestic demand," an industry source familiar with the move told Reuters. "It will go from net short to balanced."

The 91-RON fuel is easier to produce and requires fewer octane-boosting components, which are difficult to make with Saudi Arabia's mainly heavier, sour crudes. The industry source said 60-70 percent of drivers are expected to use the cheaper grade.
Analysts say production may increase by 5-10 percent, or up to 30,000 bpd, thanks in part to blending some of the kingdom's massive naphtha surplus into the gasoline pool.

Output already got a fillip earlier this year after Aramco revamped its 35,000-bpd platformer at its Yanbu refinery into a 40,000-bpd-plus continuous catalyst regeneration unit (CCR).
That upgrade caused months-long hitches at the facility, forcing Aramco into a summer spate of gasoline imports that boosted prices and reinforced the view of the Middle East as an increasingly key piece of the global oil product trading puzzle.

About increasing domestic demand throughout the Middle East:
Although it is the world's biggest exporter of crude oil, Saudi Arabia has struggled to keep up with rising domestic demand for certain fuels amid a petrodollar-driven economic boom and a young, wealthy car-addicted citizenry used to cheap gasoline.

Saudi Arabia is not the only one affected. Qatar -- normally a distillates exporter -- imported extra diesel this summer due to a construction boom, while Iran is now forced to import nearly half its gasoline due to a lack of domestic refineries.
Fuel demand for the whole Middle East region is forecast to grow 5.3 percent to 6.8 million bpd, only a hair slower and lower than China, the world's second-biggest consumer.

[Aramco] says on its Web site (www.9195.com.sa) that about 85 percent of cars in the kingdom should be able to run on the lower-octane fuel.
But its self-sufficiency may be short lived if demand grows at 15,000 bpd or more a year, at least until nearly 1 million bpd of new refining capacity comes online around 2010.

And about the state of the Saudi economy (stock market crash), as well as the pressure the royals feel from the domestic population. Keep them driving on the cheap:
"The reduction of product prices, notably gasoline at the retail level, should keep demand growth this year for mogas at 6 percent or perhaps higher," said Al Troner of Houston-based consultancy Asia Pacific Energy Consulting.

While many nations have taken the painful decision over the past two years to raise domestic fuel prices in line with a trebling in global crude costs, Saudi Arabia cut its pump prices in May in a move seen aimed at boosting economic growth and soften the blow of a stock market crash. Only Iran and Venezuela sell cheaper gasoline.

The Saudi population went from 6 million in 1970 to about 27 million today (with 5.5 million non-natives). 40% of the population is younger than 15.

And the recipe for real success:
Between the ages of 25-40 there are almost twice as many men as women.

Question: what on earth did they do with their girls in the 1970's?

To top off the bright prospects of the country: unemployment is widely estimated at around 25%, while at the same time there are millions of foreign workers.

Population boom equals population bomb

Well, no wonder most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.  Excess males with no prospects of getting married tends to lead to many bad things....
Sounds like a job for Paris Hilton...


sitting on a gold mine....;-)
More male foreign workers might have something to do with that bulge.  Might want to check out the source data or find other data.
Looking at the detail here, it seems to me that the 55+ year old cohorts got more male than female - counter to greater longevity of what I am reminded every day is the superior sex - in every way.  Suggesting that Saudi males live longer - or that the male over-balance is a long-lived phenomnon.
An article on the transformation


Portillo is part of a growing group of South Floridians buying into a lifestyle that allows them to live, work and play in the same area. It's a concept that new urbanists have preached for years but has been slow to catch on here, where suburban sprawl and strip shopping centers have long ruled.

It's about creating places that people want to be a part of, that become a destination,'' said William Voegele, a regional director of development for Forest City, which is building the Village at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. ``It's the place where the mayor gives the State of the City address or they hold the local art festival. It becomes the identity of the city.'

Schiller can't wait for the day when she can walk to her office, the courthouse and her favorite dining spots. ``I cannot take it anymore. It's affecting my life. Now I understand why people have road rage.''

''This is what everyone my age really wants,'' said Dean Friedland, 23, who is buying a loft at Met Miami and expects to take Metrorail when he starts law school next year at the University of Miami. ``We were raised in the suburbs, and that's why we want to get out of there.''
''This is what everyone my age really wants,'' said Dean Friedland, 23, who is buying a loft at Met Miami and expects to take Metrorail when he starts law school next year at the University of Miami. ``We were raised in the suburbs, and that's why we want to get out of there.''

Preach on.

The Flying elephant article is rubbish. For example he compares the impact of  higher aviation fuel prices  with lessons from Howard Hughes on  US domestic routes in the thirties when only the Texas cartel kept oil prices at more than a few cents a barrel. He says that smaller aircraft are the future and that the big new airbus will break EADS. Guy hasn't a clue. The new airbus has  a fuel burn per seat mile that is 15% better than Boeing. And that's with 550 seats. The airbus can be configured to as much as 880 seats. The "low cost" airlines will also be in deep doodah. After the first OPEC price increase in the 70s it was the cheaper charter airlines that went under because fuel was a much higher proportion f their costs. To use fuel efficiently, it's big planes that will be used. Sure frequencies will drop and services will be fuller and even less comfortable.. There are going to lots of smaller airplanes stored  in the deserts where they last longer than in humid environments. I suspect that they will never fly again.
P.S. Propellers are better than jets. Bring back the DC3.
The A380-800 is well on it's way to break Airbus & EADS.

A very poor design decision was to put on oversized wing on the A380-800 that was ideal for a future (never to be built) A380-900.  Extra weight, extra drag on the -800.

Manufacturers claims are always suspect, but both the 787 series and 747-8I should get equal fuel burn/seat, in smaller packages.

The A380 is designed for hub to hub travel (JFK in NYC, London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Dubai, Sydney, Frankfort, Paris is most of them).

If one wants to get from Dallas to Paris it is much more fuel (and time) efficient to fly directly in a 787 than take a 737 to JFK, transfer and then fly an A380-800 to Paris.

The A380 is a white elephant, built for nationalistic pride and with a poor business case.  A for profit company (i.e. Boeing) would not have built it.  EADS, with it's recent firing (after 99 days) of it's turnaround CEO, has shown that profits are not it's primary focus.

Best Hopes for Boeing dominance (we NEED the exports)


And my step dad needs the job.  I think Boeing is well situated going into the next decade.  They've got the defense money pouring in combined with the tranformation of the aviation fleet as EADS drops the ball.  

I did a financial case study on Boeings decision to build the 777 series.  What I learned is basically this.  When building a new frame assembly entirely you basically gamble the whole company.  Financially this is just how it works out.  You take on HUGE capital risks just planning it and execution becomes key.  It seems as though EADS is faltering here.  Boeing has executed their strategy well over the years considering they bought Mac Douglas here in STL barely a couple years before 9/11 happened and their commercial side fell flat as the defense side carried the company.

They're taking a large gamble though with their move to "Dell style" origination though and I hope they will pull it together as planned.  We'll know much more next summer.

Planes like the 747 have a life span of 40+ years. Where will civic aviation be in 2046? That's not too hard, is it?

Boeing will go the way of Detroit, with the difference that they will have constructed, instead of confused, themselves straight out of existence.

Wonder what the brass there thinks of oil depletion.

I only care 9 yrs out as this is when my step dad will hopefully retire.  Well he will quit Boeing for sure, but I'm sure he'll do something.  Perhaps we'll start a biz together once he gets bored.  The possibilities!
Considering Boeing is heading up all kinds of projects for the DoD on airship(blimp) design, I think Boeing has the ability to adapt.

Consider also that a subsidary of Boeing is working on improving Solar panel efficiency it would appear Boeing is branching out some as well.

And there are a bunch of other projects being worked on by Boeing involving a range of technologies and business niches.  Boeing is a busy company, I think they will be around for awhile.

i say retro-fit the planes for cheap houseing.
Referring to Boeing as a "for profit" is a joke, n'est-ce pas. Boeing is the most heavily subsidised company on the planet. For example, the original 707 required runway lengths than exceeded the than standards for props. Enter US government aid to grant funds to lenthen runways. End of VC 10. When civil orders are low the DOD steps in to fund the company. Only about 3 years ago did Boeing abandon its projected development of an almost supersonic airplane with of course high fuel burn when every knowledgeable aeronautics pro was aware that much higher oil prices were te future.
The airbus wings are simply magnificent. To watch the wings during landing is a great lesson in computer controlled electro-mechanics.
Ok and Airbus isnt subsidized?  Kind of a moot point.
Oh and I've read my post three times and can't find where I talk about Boeing being for profit.
Airbus is the most heavily subsidized company in the world, of those that pretend to be commercial enterprises.

The 707 was developed with in house funds and no gov't money, something which Airbus has yet to do for a single a/c.

It was such an improvement (unlike the A380) that airports wanted jet service and adapted to it.  LAX could care less if it gets A380 service.

Airbus wings are inferior to Boeing wings.  Airbus ALWAYS has a lower cruise speed !  And higher fuel consumption (that is subject to a variety of factors and some debate).

True for A32x vs. 737NG, 777 vs. A340, 777NG vs. A340NG, 747-8 vs A380, 767/787 vs. A330.

The A380 wing cracked during test before the mandatory minimum load and had to be redesigned, part of the delay.  Such magnificent engineering !  Of course there was the AB tail that fell off and the AB computer that overrode the pilot and crashed the plane.

DoD gave what new orders to Boeing after, say, 9/11 ?  There was talk of a tanker order but it never materialized.

The "mother companies" of Airbus got more military contracts than Boeing before the Boeing-McD merger.

best Hopes for Boeing dominance,


On Bloomberg:  "Boone Pickens Says Oil Will Reach $70 a Barrel Before 2007"

The video will likely be on their site for two days and you can catch it here:


Aircraft crashes in New York

 A small aircraft has crashed into a high-rise residential building at 72nd Street and York in Manhattan, police said. Police are en route to the site, said to be at 525 E. 72nd Street. Flames and smoke could be seen pouring from the high rise apartment as fire engines raced to the scene.

NEW YORK - A small aircraft crashed into a high-rise on the Upper East Side, raining down debris on Manhattan and unleashing what witnesses reported was a gigantic fireball, police said.

Some reports say it was a helicopter, not a plane.

If that's a steel-framed building.  We should see it collapse into its own footprint shortly.
I'm waiting.
Still waiting.
It's a possibility.  If I were in the building, I would get out ASAP, and not come back until the building was inspected.  (Man, those apartments are a million apiece, easy.)  

However, this was a small plane.  It didn't have anywhere near the mass, velocity, or fuel a commercial jet would.

No, no.  I'm being sarcastic.  (-;

It won't collapse, believe me.  

Holy crap.  CNN is reported the plane was flown by Yankees starting pitcher Cory Lidle.  o_O
I just hope they've evacuated the building.  That steel must just be melting away at this point.
I'm pretty sure they have.  The residents all came running out on their own.  Before 9/11, they may not have, but now?  
Yup.  Mayor Bloomberg reports that the building has been evacuated.  
I can see the headlines around the world now, "Yankees Attempt to Destroy Another New York City Sky Scraper."  
Cory Fulton Lidle, 1972-2006

Rest In Peace

(BTW, his middle name is "Fulton" because he's a descendent of Robert Fulton, of steam engine fame.)

Oil demand shrinks in developed countries - FT

High prices are for the first time in two decades prompting oil demand in developed countries to contract, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

In 2006 the need for oil in members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will have shrunk 100,000 barrels a day to 49.4m b/d. This small but symbolically important re-duction is the result of the slowing of the US economy as well as its moves away from heating oil to using natural gas, the cheaper alternative, according to the OECD's energy watchdog.

The shift makes still growing demand from Asia and other developing regions, including the Middle East, even more important customers for big oil producing countries.

They have also announced that the 2006Q1 global oil supply quarterly record was broken in Q3 ... approx 85.4-mbd.  Oil closed at $57.50 on the news.
Does anyone know where Stuart is?
It should be quite obvious at this point.
Thanks for my laugh of the day :P
Email me with your theory. I'll only tell you if you are right.
Angry Chimp has kidnapped Stuart and has him chained up in a basement where he is forced to work on the development of ever more complex conspiracy theories.

Just try to prove that's not true. Do you think AC wouldn't do it? How naive.

I just wrote three different responses to this. I saved them all. Theyre yours if you ever email me.

This is the fourth(scratch that, version 5, no apostrophes). Finally Ive got some good tunes playing.

I love both you guys. You are too smart to not have as a friend. The Chimpster doesnt post frequently enough to realistically annoy you. Watch his patterns. Hes just playing with you. He looks up to you. And he knows youre pissed at him. Youll be friends before you it.

But you know, at the same time, Ive got the better viddies.



This will be the best 90 minutes of photos, documentation, and film you will see this week. This is superb. They only interview the experts and the insiders. You figure it out. Hollywood cant generate shit this good. Ive read all these books. To see these guys get sound bites is incredible. The writers of 24 get their ideas here. This is real. This is history. This is not fiction. This is Frontline. Its the best TV on TV. Ive been saying this for years.

What are you talking about? I love the Chimp. That is why I was so upset when the UFOs took him away.

Now I will never know why the Council on Foreign Relations is putting flouride in my water.

Oooh. You crack me up. I gotta go to bed.
He's around.  I just got an e-mail from him last night.  I assume he's just busy with other things.  There's more to life than TOD, y'know?
You gotta be kidding.
About what? :)

Stuart being alive? Or there being more to life? Or what did Leanan mean? More to life than the Oil Drum? I suppose one can read into that sentence anything one would want. Stuart is the Jim Morrison of Oil. He's like a living God. Think Dennis Hopper describing Kurtz. Leanan is one of the holders of the truth. But there are others.

Any more submissions for theories? Like I say. I won't tell anyone until we have a winner. I'm still thinking of a prize.

on topic - offshore oil processing

The Prime Minister of Timor has admitted he understands that oilcos (ConocoPhilips  and Woodside) might not want to process onshore in a politically unstable country. On the other hand reborn neocons are telling him to spread the wealth
I can understand how peasants living in shanties would react to oil execs and politicians sipping cocktails in mansions. Let's hope it works out.


Meanwhile, in Las Vegas.....

Chicago developer Jim Letchinger knows the real estate industry is soft across the nation, but it didn't stop him from acquiring a 5-acre parcel at Tropicana Avenue and Grand Canyon Drive in July to build The Mercer, a $50 million mixed-use development with 113 residential units priced from $229,000 for one-bedroom units to $700,000 for three bedrooms. "No matter what happens, there's 6,000 to 7,000 people a month moving to Las Vegas, and the hotel and casino industry in Las Vegas is not going down," he said. "Las Vegas will just continue to expand. That's the biggest reason. The fact of the matter is the market is not what it was three years ago, but there are still people out there with cash and capital looking to invest in real estate."

I enjoyed this one.

[A traveller going to Paris and back on Eurostar generates 10 times less carbon dioxide than someone making the same journey by air.]

Why do people use this phrase.  How does he generate 10 times less?  If he is on an airplane and generates 1 lb of carbon dioxide per mile, 10 times that is 10 lbs per mile and less would mean 1 minus 10 or negative 9 lbs per mile.  What happened to fractions?

Yeah, this is a pet peeve of mine too.  I think it has to do with a math-challenged populace and math challenged journalists writing for them.  Every time I hit this nonsense, I have to back up and try to figure out what fraction they had in mind.  This one's actually easier than others.
We have a hard enough time differentiating between 50% more miles per gallon and double the mileage, from yesterday's posters.
Leanan...I didn't have time to look through the whole thread...have you posted this yet?  Seems to be some pretty big new I would think.

China Creates Strategic Oil Reserve, Starts Stocking Russian Oil


China has pumped at least 1 million barrels of Russian crude into its newly built strategic reserves, confirming that a long-anticipated stockbuild was underway the Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday quoting official Chinese media and sources.

Interesting that it is "Russian" crude.

Let's see if this has any effect on the Weekly Petroleum figures that come out tomorrow.
That was the top story for the Oct. 6 DrumBeat.
Hello TODers,

Mexico update:

EnergyBulletin.net has an excellent article by Tom Standing on Pemex and it's Cantarell oilfield.  It appears that more articles on Mexico will appear about once a week or so.  The next study will be to develop a decline scenario for Cantarell to estimate how much oil might be lost to the world market and to the U.S. supply by 2010 and 2015.

"Tom Standing dug into the Mexico story and writes clearly about his findings. Key footnoted point: Mexico's energy ministry reported that Cantarell production is down 10.3% during the first six months of this year."

In other Mexican news: 4 Tzotzil Indians die over another pothole dispute.  In Oaxaca, fresh violence breaks out anew.  Finally, the entire Tijuana police force is under investigation for drugs and corruption:
While this investigation is unusual for Mexico, it is not unusual for the United States.

During the Prohibition era, the entire New York City police department was out on bail for a time during the Jimmy Walker administration, and the Chicago police were allegedly in the payroll of mobster Al Capone.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

From MSNBC just a few minutes ago:

Japan imposes sanctions on NK, and NK responds with threats.  Hope this does not get ugly, but I think China really needs to put the thumbscrews to NK to keep this from becoming military.  Time will tell.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Yes, bust out the pilliwinks! That'll teach 'em.


Hello TODers,

From the Korean Times:

NK threatens to test again, but warns the next test may be an H-BOMB:
A Korean-Japanese scholar who is considered North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's unofficial spokesman said yesterday that Pyongyang has a hydrogen bomb it would test as part of a series of actions mentioned in its statement against the United States.

Asked to provide evidence that the North has developed its own thermonuclear weapons, Kim replied, ``That's why we are going to test the bomb. A test will prove that we've got everything necessary just as we had with our nuclear weapons.

The North will regard the United Nations resolution imposing sanctions, whether financial or military, as a declaration of war, he said.

``If the Bush administration makes more provocations, both New York City and Tokyo will be blazed, Kim said. He added the North is targeting the United States but does not want to wage a war against the South as long as Seoul takes a neutral position.

``The destiny of the Korean Peninsula will be decided within a week, and South Korea should maintain its neutral stance, he said in a KBS radio interview. ``Seoul should request that Washington not mobilize U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) even if a war breaks out.  The Ministry of Unification, however, downplayed Kim's remarks.
I don't know what to make of this, hopefully none of this is true.  Does anyone know how reliable the Korean Times is as a news source?  Or are they just a tabloid rag?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?