New feature: DrumBeat

In an attempt to bring order to our haphazard open thread system, we are introducing a new feature called "DrumBeat". Basically, DrumBeat is an open thread that will be automatically posted everyday at 9am Eastern time. This thread will serve at the sole open thread each day. Occasionally, editors and contributors will drop news tidbits or discussion starting points in the content of the message.

We encourage readers to keep the comments in the regular stories on topic and to put all "off topic" comments in the DrumBeat threads.

If everything works properly, the first DrumBeat post will go up at 9am Sunday morning. Enjoy!

The lifestyle of the auto age, in song:

from the album Courier
by Richard Shindell

The merge from the turnpike was murder, but it's never a cinch
It was Friday at five, and no one was giving an inch
They squeezed and the edged and they glared
Half them clearly impaired by rage or exhaustion
The rest were just touchy as hell

Somewhere near Paterson everything slowed to a crawl
The all-news station was thanking someone for the call
It's a van from St. Agnes's choir
There's a nun out there changing a tire
By the time they got by her, tempers were out of control

So they all hit the gas in a dash for position
Bobing and weaving and flashing their highbeams
Fliping the bird and screaming obscenities
A well-insured hoard hell-bent on Saturday

And so they continued west-bound and into the sun
Law and decorum constraining nary a one
By then it was devil-may-care
Not one even vaguely aware
That they had come all the way to the Delaware Water Gap

But how had it happened? They had all missed their exits
How had it happened? Was it some kind of vortex?
And in they all went, bumper to bumper
Faster and faster, no sign of a trooper
In they all went, like sheep to the slaughter
Bankers and carpenters, doctors and lawyers
And in they all went, families in minivans
Ashcroft republicans, weekend militiamen
They followed the river, and rounded the bend
Between minsi and tammany and into their destiny
Lying in ambush right their before them
The angry old sun right on the horizon

Sister Maria tightened the bolts of the spare
She said a quick prayer and put the old van into gear
Thank God that the traffic was light
If she hurried she might not be late
For that evening's performance at the state penetentiary

She entered the common room and their was her choir
Altos and baritones, basses and tenors
Car thieves and crack dealers, mobsters and murderers
Husbands and sons, fathers and brothers
And so it began in glorious harmony
Softly and Tenderly - calling for you and me
With the interstate whining way off in the distance
And the sun going down through the bars of the prison
They poured out their souls, they poured out their memories
They poured out their hopes for what's left of eternity
To sister Maria - her soul like a prism
For the light of forgiveness on all of their faces

(postscript:  The prisoners discussed in the end of the song have lost their freedom....but are the Americans on "the interstate whining in the distance" truly any more free?

Roger Conner  ThatsItImout

Nice one Roger - I've also always liked:

Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race

Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now looming in his headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache

from Sting (The Police)
Synchronicity II

interesting. lets hope it works.
Some journalists do "get it". Sorry that this is older, but he's a military historian and appropriately vague. Sometimes what you don't say is important, especially when you mention that you aren't saying it.

17 April 2006
Oil: The Party Is Over
By Gwynne Dyer

        Welcome to the world of $70-per-barrel oil. That's if there is no crisis in the Gulf over Iran's nuclear ambitions.  If there is, then get ready for $140 a barrel. Oil briefly breached the $70 barrier eight months ago, but this time it is going up for good.

Wonderful!  I think this is a sign that the Bush administration's days are numbered.  Now we can start worrying about what comes next.  
Don't get your hopes up.  The state media will do damage control, just as they have for every other neocon/neolib corporatist scandal.  W will serve out his term and turn the whitehouse over to a crony, either his Skull & Bones brother, Cousin John, or his Governor brother, Jeb, or the wife of his father's best buddy, Hilary.  The only way there will be an actual political change in the US is through revolution.

At best, another young white woman will go missing in Aruba or some such place.  At worst, expect 9/11, version 2.0 and "shock and awe" version 2.0.

I agree that the MSM will hardly do its job, and give this crime the coverage it deserves.  But I think that the Rove indictment is a sign of Bush's troubles, not a cause of it.  I  think the Bush administration has become a liability for the oil companies, bankers, etc. who depend upon worldwide stability for success.  Bush has failed so remarkably at foreign policy that even his own party is upset with him.  I think there is a good chance he will be impeached, but not because of the crimes he has committed.  Crimes like the leak case will be used as an excuse to punish him, but the real reason will be that he is no longer useful to people in power,  and now creates more problems than he solves.  
At best there could be a cosmetic change of public management, but the private ownership of the US would not change.  In the most extreme scenario, a replay of 1974, Cheney could resign first.  W could appoint McCain Vice President.  Then W resigns.  Then President McCain appoints Joe Lieberman as Vice President of a new "centrist" government.  In the spirit of reconciliation, all the indicted get pardons.  The system rolls on, all its crimes unpunished.  The Bush clan can go back to their shared vacations with their business partners the Bin Ladens.  And the oil wars would continue.
So Rove has been indicted, has he? Really?

You can say what you want about the MSM, but if that had really happened, it seems to me that the Washington Post and the NY Times wouldn't/couldn't sweep it under the rug. Right now both have stories about the CIA leak investigation (doesn't that have a sexy name yet?) but Rove is only mentioned in passing by WP and not at all by NYT.

Maybe it's still just too early over there.

This will turn out just like all the hoopla about Iran and the end of March. I believe it has been rescheduled for June and then maybe September etc.
Carried forward from yesterday's thread, and the debate about the timeline for the events that concern 'doomers', however that term is defined.  Again, people need to consider that this is a big planet and as the era of globalization comes to an end, conditions will be increasingly local.  For example, with an honest inflation adjustment, the US has experienced a decrease in real per capita GDP since the dawn of the 21st century.  Russia has experienced strong real per capita GDP growth in the same period. As the US is a net energy importer with growing population and Russia (for now) an energy exporter with a falling population, their fates should continue to diverge for a generation.  Likewise, climate change means farm droughts and east coast hurricanes for the US.  For Russia, climate change will lengthen the growing season.  One region's doom can and will happen at the same time another region booms.

As far as my doom timeline for the US, it has already happened.  Political failure, climate catastrophe, economic failure, and energy emergencies have been happening for years.  Yes, the stores are still open, and the utilities still work almost all the time nationwide, but that was true in the "dead state walking" Soviet Union in 1986.  (In fact, the evacuation of Pripyat was quicker, more efficient, and more humane than the evacuation of NOLA despite the complete lack of warning of Chernobyl)  I predict a significant further collapse of US society/economy/political structure circa 2011, with two sigma error bars plus or minus 5 years.  And what I am talking about is >20% unemployment, martial law/anarchy, and food & fuel shortages/rationing.

TOD posts are most illuminating. There is a lot of excellent material. The problem ishow to access it later. Somehow the info needs to be ordered in some way.
Automating the open threads will save you some trouble, but there might be people who will try to monopolize the top position in the threads by always being there at the appointed time. Maybe even spammers?
9 am. Great target for every lunatic who has something to say about oil and wants to get noticed. Oil - or anything else that might be on someone's mind. Not to mention the fact that first come, first serve at 9 am is hardly fair for many people. This is a bad idea. That's all I have to say.
Well, given that the readership is global - not only Amurricans, the time of day doesn't make any real difference.

To avoid problems with people waiting for the thread to open, why not just add some random number generator into the process so that the thread opens, say, at a random time between n and m hours after the last open thread was posted? (appropriate values for n and m to be determined by the esteemed Super G).

Or perhaps, the new open thread has a 0% chance of opening each hour after the previous one while t<n, and a non-zero p% chance of opening each hour when t>=n.

Why should any of us here assume that the "lunatics" will show up only at the 9AM thread and not any of the other posting opportunities that are available on this site 24/7?  (And besides, one person's "lunatic" is another's "genius.")

Sure, there will be some infantile attempts to jump in and get a "first post", but I strongly suspect that behavior will get a cold shoulder from the regulars on TOD, and the practice will die off pretty quickly.

Well at least it will be easier to distinguish the nut cases from the pragmatic thinkers.
Face it, no such thing as a good idea or a bad idea when it comes to blogging. Commenting on blogs is a microcosm or at least analagous to a collapsing civilization.  People complain when there are too few comments and no one is there to read the comments. But then, say  you get over 1000 comments, and people will complain that there are too many voices. So the traffic will collapse to some steady-state level.

Like Yogi Berra said once - no one goes there, its too crowded. And trying to control what people have to say is like herding cats.

I want to show you what I have been talking about.

Recently a local colege, as part of their sustainable campus program and involving students from colleges all over the state and other interested sponsers, organized a conference....

Here is the overview of the program:

In the face of severe threats to sustainability, college  students, faculty and staff, and townspeople from throughout the region will gather in Berea to share information about how to create more sustainable local communities and how to develop lasting partnerships with each other. Join  us for presentations, tours, workshops, brainstorming, on the following topics:
    *    Solar Energy
    *     Energy Conservation
    *      Biodiesel
    *      Community Gardens
    *      Ecovillages
    *      Green Building
    *     Transportation Alternatives to Cars
    *      Fostering Local Businesses
    *     Developing a Local Food System
    *      Partnering with Local Government
    *     Native Landscaping

Not bad huh?  The college and the young students were proud of their efforts, by accounts I have received the program was well recieved....well for the most part, anyway.  Dont's assume that the "true doom and gloom peakers" were going to let them get away with this however.  Allow me to quote a message from the energy_resources group on a Yahoo group, to get an impression of the rabid tone, when an invitation to the above conference was announced there by some Louisville sponser/participants:

Don't waste your time or money.
It's feel good environmentalism run amok.

  • The oxymoronic "sustainable growth" view is everywhere.

  • On energy, nothing on net energy; is manufactured energy a better
name for "renewable energy"?

  • Nothing dealing carrying capacity.

  • No mention U.S. population and growth and its impacts.

No wonder. I see the Sierra Club is a sponsor. Recall, these pseudo-environmentalists sold their souls and implications of the U.S. population for big money.

And so it goes.  I am attempting to ask people allied to this cause to please consider carefully the impression you leave behind when dismissing each and every initiative or alternative that anyone proposes as undoable, not worth doing and in fact that the person trying to initiate alternatives is nothing more that a schill for corporate/industrial entities. It runs the risk of making the folks who are so called "Peak Aware" come across as nothing more than a nutbar apocalyptic cult.  We should be thankful that college age students are at least participating in these efforts.  To dismiss them so rudely and completely because the whole agenda did not center around a return to horse and buggy and reduction of two thirds of the world's people does no good in earning the next generation over to the cause of attempting to help the world in it's efforts to survive and retain civility and culture in what will, in the end, be their world.

(by the way, to all of those posters who are fixated on the population issue as the ONLY issue that matters, I have good news for you!  It is the one that you can take direct, immediate action on!  Just go ahead and shoot yourself!)

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Hi ThatItImOut and other TODers

I guess that some Peakers dont think that we have been able to live on earth without fossil fuel.

We probably can do really much to bring a new way of life.  It will probably be a mesh of old country life with new permaculture concept.

If some groups tries to asses the threats and do something about it, they should be helped.

Peaker need to go further than the problem and work toward a solution.

The Air Force is testing new fuels:

The research and tests on synthetic fuel would ultimately produce a common fuel for the entire military, Air Force officials said.

The initial contract for unconventional fuel for the tests will be signed with Syntroleum Corporation of Tulsa, Okla., which has provided synthetic fuel for testing by the Departments of Energy, Transportation and Defense since 1998.

Syntroleum can produce 42 gallons of synthetic fuel from 10,000 cubic feet of natural gas. The raw materials cost about $70.

If the military moves ahead with using the synthetic fuels, the Syntroleum technology could be used by factories elsewhere to produce the same 42 gallons of fuel from just $10 worth of coal, Mr. Holmes said.

And they've also testing coal to liquids (CTL) processed fuel.

I spent a few years working on GTL. There are huge quantities of natural gas in the world that could be turned into diesel via FT. A lot of companies have announced GTL projects, and these will help mitigate Peak Oil. Global warming is another matter, though.


I would guess that environmental concerns are going to be totally ignored. The first response of the politicians to the squealing masses will be to dump clean air and drilling restrictions. Limiting CO2 emissions will never happen.
I think you are right about that. Global warming creeps up on us year after year. We say "I wonder if the drought in Oklahoma, or the hurricanes in the gulf are due to Global Warming". Cause and effect is not always crystal clear, so we don't operate under a sense of urgency.  

On the other hand higher gas prices hit us immediately, so the public demands relief. But they aren't demanding relief over global warming, so it will take truly courageous politicians to take this on - especially since mitigation is going to drive up gas prices.


You guys read my mind...excellent idea and thanks for giving us "less technical" folks an outlet.
Venezuela: Is Time Running Out?
by Joe Duarte, MD &
May 13, 2006


Venezuela's oil production continues to decrease, for multiple reasons, mostly political, while the country is swimming in heavy oil that few are interested in counting, or in taking huge risks to go harvest, due again, mostly to political risks.

The Chavez government continues to subsidize the energy needs of countries like Cuba, and Bolivia, among others, for political reasons.

Somewhere along the way, something will have to give.

The laws of the business Universe are clear. Entities can't continue to antagonize customers, run questionable accounting, and continually subsidize inefficient operations indefinitely.

Many businesses fail when they do one of those three things continuously. PDVSA seems to be doing them routinely, and has been doing them for a long time.

The results have been decreased production, significantly damaged infrastructure, and a great deal of mistrust from the global oil industry, and likely international lending operations.

If Venezuela needs $20 billion to fix, its mostly self inflicted oil infrastructure, no one that we know of, has stepped up to the plate as a potential lender, yet.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chavez has been floating the idea that he will conduct a referendum to see if voters want to keep in office until 2031.

With gasoline at 12 cents a gallon, the big question for Venezuela drivers might just be, when do we start?

For the world's oil supply, though, the real question is how long can this kind of policy go on?

For the record, Venezuela's gasoline price has historically been subsidized. Attempts to raise prices toward market rates have met with significant amounts of social unrest.

If and when Chavez and PDVSA are squeezed enough to have to raise prices, life in Caracas could get oh so interesting.

As if we didn't have enough trouble already, Venezuela is self-destructing. Of the five biggest importers to the US, three (Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela) are (logistically or geologically) in decline. Iraq is an old story getting worse.

Even if that "heavy" oil was going to save us (which it won't), there is now a total disincentive by the IOCs to work with PDVSA to produce it since Chavez has gone revolutionary on us. He is, in this sense, shooting himself and his country in the head.

This is all very worrisome and troubling to me.

Re:  NYT Article Yesterday on Russian Oil Production

Oil Executive (Re: Russian Oil Production):  "What could be wrung from the older fields has been tapped"

What I found interesting in the article was the statement by an executive VP with the TNK-BP Joint Venture, Kris Sliger, "What could be wrung from the older fields has been tapped."  

The Russian Energy Minister previously warned of the possibility of a "real collapse in oil production," (if they don't launch an immediate frontier exploration program).

Front cover of BUSINESS WEEK,"Why you should be woried about big oil" with a big picture of an oil drum.
Not bad for a MSM article.  Makes it clear that there are few if any places that oil co's want to invest as there is too much political instability and declining returns on investment.
Texas and the Lower 48 as a Model for Saudi Arabia and the World

Khebab and I have been working on another paper.  Above is a link to the graphs (all done by Khebab).   Unfortunately, the technical half of our team (and 90% of the IQ, i.e., Khebab) has left town for three weeks.  I have gone ahead and published the graphs.  I'll try to get the text out in the next couple of days, but my premise is quite simple.  Saudi Arabia and the world are now where Texas and the Lower 48 were at in 1972 and 1970, respectively.  The Texas numbers are crude + condensate.  The other numbers are believed to be total liquids.

For an explanation of what Stuart Staniford has designated as "Hubbert Linearization" see any of the excellent articles on TOD by Stuart.  

There have only been two swing producers of any consequence, Texas and Saudi Arabia.  The new "swing producer" consists of releases from emergency reserves.  Note that the problem is replenishing the reserves (which Bush has already postponed).

West texas
what does "in fit" mean? (the green dots on your graphs)
Those are the points used to calculate the slope of the line, the "Y" or P/Q intercept, therfore the total estimated recoverable reserves, Qt.
Who says we don't have a Plan B? Yaabaadabadooo!