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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


In what reads like an affirmation of Ron Suskind's book on Paul O'Neill's experiences in Bush's cabinet, we "in what we call the reality-based community," agree with what D. Podborits writes in this essay:
The scariest thing for me here is not the flimsiness and the stupidity of the rebuttal, but the CONFIDENCE and the LACK OF INTEREST IN THE REALITIES OF THE WORLD that they are pronounced with. Even scarier,
however, is that these commentators are smart people with high IQ, regarded throughout the world as authorities in economics. When these two talk, many listen.
Besides the Freakonomics "lesson" of which Podborits opines, I have heard one plaintive cry repeatedly echoed by the rightie media the last few days concerning a potential oil shock.

Refinery Capacity...
...Refinery Capacity
Refinery Capacity...
...Refinery Capacity
Refinery Capacity...
...Refinery Capacity
Refinery Capacity...
...Refinery Capacity
Refinery Capacity...

No matter how many times they say it, they will not convince any realist that refinery capacity alone will come even close to relieving the supply crunch. If actually true, this would put individual petroleum companies in such a short-sighted position regarding their future solvency as to make them laughing stocks. And that would have to happen across the entire oil industry, with any cost/environmental arguments countered by such obvious moves as transferring operational costs through a relocation to Mexico. Why not put refineries in Mexico? After all, the rest of the manufacturing industries have moved there. Answer: Because we can't refine any more oil than the suppliers can pull out of the ground and the actuarians working for the oil industry realize this reality.

A mouth-breather on the local right-wing station had a one word (quite delusional) response for a caller that suggested that China had some impact on supply & demand. He said "Good!", as if this would somehow increase the flow of oil to us. When, oh when, will reality start to bite these people?

Essay find courtesy of Big Gav who has a few more choice comments.

Update: Catching up on Kunstler's blog, of which Dmitri Podborits guest-blogged, Kunstler strangely railed against comedian Harry Shearer and his weekly radio show in a post entitled Harry Shearer's War. Making a bunch of assumptions about Shearer's supposed oil-hungry lifestyle, Kunstler really dug himself a deep hole to no apparent end. Having listened to Shearer a lot over the years, I actually thought about him first when I watched the New Orleans devastation unfold. In the past, Shearer has regularly broadcast from New Orleans and his few guests have invariably hailed from New Orleans. The man obviously loves the town ... and its low-energy but together attitude:
Harry Shearer: "So we right now have way too much emphasis on "I got mine," and way too little emphasis on things that bind communities together.

As I say, I live part-time in New Orleans where there is so much more spirit of community that it puts what goes on in the rest of America kind of in dramatic relief. People aren't different but the circumstances that they are in as living arrangements tend to either push them toward more of that or less of that.

You see a yearning to get more of that again in these Main Street-style malls that are being built, which are trying to summon the semblance or a simulacrum of community without actually the essence of it. So there's clearly a feeling that we need more of this but we don't know how to get it at this point. "Let's all read the same book" is as close as we can come."
So we see that Harry Shearer understands exactly what Kunstler writes about, but that Kunstler does not know this because he happens to listen to a random hour of Shearer's Le Show. Let me clue you in: Its called comedy, Jim.

P.S. If you really want to know the inside dope in New Orleans, go to Harry Shearer's blog at the Huffington Post. You can really get a feel for the mixed emotions and roller-coster ride that only someone intimately familiar with the town would experience.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Return of DOW 36,000

James Glassman's wrong-way sign for economic opportunity points in this direction:
Similarly, the best way to reduce demand for gasoline is for government to require that cars and trucks get lower miles per gallon, become less efficient. That should be Mineta's new slogan, "10 MPG Equals Energy Independence!"
As always, one should take the opposite stance to any advice Glassman gives out. The DOW could still hit 36,000, figuratively speaking of course.
CAFE standards don't lower energy use. They merely satisfy the need of politicians to convince an unsuspecting public that they're doing something. It's time for the public to wake up to this scam.

I cringe as Glassman gropes around trying to describe Jevon's paradox, without having the background to name it or understand it's true implications. And Glassman does not have the intellectual honesty to point out the other alternative to CAFE standards -- the gas tax. But Matt Yglesias does.

Fractional Returns

I occasionally see reference to how, since crude prices have elevated in price, that alternative fuels will start to become competitive with conventional fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the people laying these claims resort to using ancient prices for recovery and production costs of the alternatives (say from a few years ago) and so get caught spreading disinformation. In other words, due to EROEI costs, the outdated prices will rise along with current oil costs, at an approximately proportional rate to the fossil fuel price rise. Consider the cost for a single barrel of non-conventional fossil fuel (oil shale or ethanol for instance):

Price = ProductionCost + EnergyCost + Profit

If we assume that profit stays fractionally small, then we can rearrange the equation:

Price - ProductionCost ~ EnergyCost

And if ProductionCost stays constant (wages etc) to the first order, then it boils down to the Price of the alternative fuel tracks the EnergyCost rise. So if we have a very poor EROEI alternative fuel and we need fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce the alternative, that price will skyrocket as well.

What does it take to break through this economic conundrum? In part, bootstrapping the extraction with the fuel itself will help, and more importantly using renewable energy sources at every chance we can. But then, one should ask: why not just use the renewable and transform the energy into electricity, for example?

Basically stuff that blogger/commenter Engineer-Poet keeps reminding us about.

Today, a caller to Air America Radio asked Sam Seder of Majority Report his opinion to the view held by many(?) that the U.S.A. has long tried to drain the rest of the world of oil first because we sit on a veritable bonanza of oil riches here at home. I took it as some sort of hegemaniacal strategy, easily dismissable as a crank. So I especially liked Sam's succinct response:
"It's a theory. It's a whack-job theory."

Peak Oil featured later tonight on AAR, as Peter Maass from NYT will make an appearance on Mike Malloy's show (The Young Turks guest-hosting).

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Era of Contingencies

Every once in a while I ponder why, when Hubbert correctly predicted the date of peak oil in the U.S. around 1970, we still seem to extract a substantial fraction from domestic sources over 30 years later. In fact, several contingencies extended our run for years.
  1. Alaskan oil
  2. low throughput stripper wells
  3. Gulf oil
  4. other offshore oil
  5. easing of consumption rates
I think of stripper wells like sucking a thick milk-shake through a straw; the rate limiting effect has nothing to do with your lung strength. The combination of throttling and working near the boundaries of the possible effectively extended the back slope of the U.S. peak a bit beyond what we would have expected. Along the same lines, see Bubba's post as we approach the end of the line for the deep offshore rigs.

I declare that the era of contingencies has officially ended (1970-2005, RIP). Tar sands, oil shale, and methane hydrates qualify as second order contingencies; a miracle has to occur before we even consider them as remotely possible. War and hegemony, both imagined and real, has become the new contingency. And realizing that fact has become an admission of defeat. The oil economy has virtually no other options left. And global warming will stomp on us if we exercise our dirty wild card.

The Event that Introduces Peak Oil to a Nation

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Stirling Newberry, a real weather junkie, has regularly posted interesting hurricane reports in the past. No exception today, see BopNews for Newberry and TOD on the NOLA hurricane implications.

And also DarkSyde, who has experienced this stuff first-hand.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Occupation: Organized nature cultist

Thomas Sowell writing in Capitalism Magazine:
Organized nature cults go ballistic at the thought that we might drill for oil in some remote part of Alaska that 99 percent of Americans will never see, including 99 percent of the nature cultists.
Well Dr. Sowell, I don't actually see the fecal matter coming out of my anal sphincter either. Nice to know that with your head stuck up your hindrocketquarters, that you can get a front row seat on the action.

The proprietor of the BizzyBlog marvels at Thomas Sowell's publishing output, affectionately calling him "Four Hands". I suppose if I suffered from diarrhea of the keyboard, it would come out like this typical Sowell entry (Part 2 of his "prolific" output):
Back in 1960, a best-selling book titled "The Waste Makers" by Vance Packard showed that the known reserves of petroleum in the United States were only enough to last another 13 years at the current rate of usage. Yet, 13 years later, the United States had larger known reserves of petroleum than in 1960.
Actually, Packard got it about right! The USA hit peak production in 1970 -- three years under his prediction. We have never hit that level of production again. In the early 60's we wasted oil, effectively treating it like tap water, leading to a huge per-capita usage. In the 70's, we started a huge correction in reducing our use and well before that we started importing oil. If we extrapolated that usage from 1960, and had no imports, we would have soft-landed long ago, closer to 1973 than today's date.

And then Sowell produces this priceless gem:
When John Stuart Mill was a young man, he worried that we were running out of music, since there were only 8 notes and therefore there was only a finite amount of music possible. At that point Brahms and Tchaikovsky had not yet been born nor jazz created.
Now I finally understand! Highly educated scholars conflating rules of mathematical permutation with basic arithmetic (i.e. subtraction) may confuse the organized nature cultists into rejoining productive society. Why, if we can only rearrange the oil molecules into N factorial combinations, it may just last forever! We saved Alaska! G'night, John-Boy.

In reality, I may have to pull some all-nighters. At the rate at which these oil depletion skeptics seem to multiply, I will also need 4 hands and bone up on my permutation skills to keep them in check.

Who's the doomer now?

I hope I haven't dwelled too much on he doom and gloom, in contrast to the opinionated claim of many oil-supply optimists in regard to the depletionists. But having a gander at the latest hysteria from the right, we still have a long way to go before the doom becomes much more convincing than a run-of-the-mill disaster film.
Imagine they're planning that on the same day in the not-so-distant future, they will set off nuclear suitcase bombs in six American cities, including Washington, which will take the heaviest hit. Hundreds of thousands may die; millions will be endangered. Lines will go down, and to make it worse the terrorists will at the same time execute the cyberattack of all cyberattacks, causing massive communications failure and confusion. There will be no electricity; switching and generating stations will also have been targeted. There will be no word from Washington; the extent of the national damage will be as unknown as the extent of local damage is clear. Daily living will become very difficult, and for months--food shortages, fuel shortages.-Peggy Noonan, excerpt from "Think Dark"

James Walcott had this to say about former Reagan speech-writer Noonan's doomsmanship:
It's one thing to think up a nightmare story arc for 24, another thing to present this as a plausible scenario looming on the horizon. Hell, why stop with six suitcase nukes? Why not go for seven, eight, nine, and throw in the dynamiting of Mount Rushmore too?
Walcott nails it on why you don't want to play these games; you really don't have an exit criteria for idle speculation.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Swift Boating Anti-Bedfellows

Yesterday's post on Jerome Corsi demonstrates how oil depletion concerns can create the strangest of bedfellows. From a Daily Kos diary, comes news that T. Boone Pickens recently made an appearance on Chris Matthews' Hardball program and stated outright how the world will produce no more than the 82 million barrels than it does today. Someone else on Kos claimed that Pickens had made that original prediction about 10 years ago, laying claim that it had nothing to do with economics, but in fact arose from the geological limitations of production. Pickens said nothing new on Matthews' show, but Chris M. did bring up the possible relationship between conquest of oil and the Iraqi wars.

The rather odd connection to Jerome "Infinite Oil" Corsi comes from this bit of info from the presidential campaign of 2004:
Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, a Bush fund-raiser, also backed the veterans' (anti-Kerry Swift-Boaters) ads with $2.5 million of his own money. He later gave $250,000 for Bush's inaugural celebrations.

So we have two huge supporters of Bush and, by the same token, huge opponents of Kerry (to the tune of 2.5 million), diametrically opposed in their stances to our oil predicament.

Shorter: Pickens says peak oil now. Corsi says peak oil never. Sounds like a wedge issue to me.

Get these two in a room together and it may cause a BushCo follower's head to explode. Mine just hurts thinking about how Pickens could support Bush, knowing full well that he would continue the full-bore extractionist viewpoint favored by his corporate cronies and 'minionists.

On the other hand, Corsi just makes me nauseous.

As Matt Savinar noted (alert from TOD), many PO debunking websites have started sprouting up in the last few weeks. Geez, I wonder why? He didn't make it clear which sites did the debunking but I finally turned up one here, a real vapor-sniffing, swift-tanker website called Peak Oil Debunked, authored by JD, possibly the John Denver commenter from PeakOil.com ..... I'm on a Rocky Mountain high.

Update: Just double-checked and yes, John Denver does pen the bloviations as JD and thinks that Matt Savinar has it out for him. He actually straddles the boundary of weakly admitting to a technical peak oil, but believing that all those who deeply understand its implications show a fascistic, anti-social streak. Basically, an all-around depressing sort of character.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Swift Boating of Peak Oil

MG beat everyone to the punch in discovering Dr. Jerome Kersi's recent book on abiotic oil (published by World Nut Daily, of course!).

Upon getting excited by this turn of events, I sent an email to Mike Malloy of Air America Radio who enjoys this kind of wing-nutty freepery possibly more than I do.
I just ran across the publication of Dr. Jerome Corsi's new book called "Black Gold Stranglehold". You remember Corsi? The guy that wrote the anti-Kerry book with John O'Neill. Ah yes, the chicken-hawk swift-boater.

Well if he just hasn't jumped the shark again. The blurb says:
This book reveals the conclusions reached by Dr.Thomas Gold, a professor at Cornell University, in his seminal book The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels (Copernicus Books, 1998) and accepted by many in the scientific community that oil is not a product of fossils and prehistoric forests but rather the bio-product of a continuing biochemical reaction below the earth's surface that is brought to attainable depths by the centrifugal forces of theearth's rotation.

Which implies that Corsi thinks the supply of oil is essentially infinite. Apparently, we have not tried hard enough to get at the oil. And he believes that "the shortsightedness of those who endorse expensive conservation efforts" prevents us from winning the battle against nature.

Let us all pitch in and buy Corsi a shovel. If he starts digging now, and doesn't happen to find any oil, at least he can make a spider-hole big enough for him and his swift-boater colleagues to spend their retirement in.

In an alternate take on reality that may not venture too far from the truth, I posted this in MG's comments section:
Peak oil has just been swift-boated and rather-gated all at once.

This guy will be on all the right-wing radio stations, and the ditto-heads will join in.

Time for all of us to concede the vote, hand in our resignations, and go home and sulk. We have no chance at winning this battle.
This won't happen of course, largely because Corsi missed the (swift) boat on this one by not calling his book: Intelligent Design of Oil. Now that would have gotten the freepers really excited.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


We have just hit a bifurcation point in dealing with oil depletion. While the wingnuts have jumped the shark and started talking crazy (e.g. Pat Robertson), the progressive faction have assumed measured tones and remained focused on awareness. It boils down to confronting the issues through innovative ideas versus engaging in pure confrontational politics. The latter approach leads to a zero-sum game whereby you lash out a perceived enemy, vanquish him, and then go on to the next villain in line. The Robertson's of the world have to face their own personally customized Dominion when their last adversaries disappear. I have started to equate extractionism with Dominionism, since at some point in this trajectory the 'minions have to pick a fight with an enemy they cannot defeat -- the Earth's limited resources.

On today's DemocracyNow! radio show, Amy Goodman laid out the landscape perfectly. The first half of the show presented the agenda of the Pat Robertson right, while the second half included, to put it bluntly, downright non-insane ideas.
  1. The Cannon of Christianity: Pat Robertson Calls for the Assassination of Hugo Chavez
  2. Hybrid Cars: How Alternative Technologies Are Shaping the Future of Car Travel

Read the transcripts or download the podcast.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Belly of the Beast

The beast has awakened once more with a fresh set of posts relating his perspective as an oil industry insider:
Excerpt from Bubba:
I worked with a major oil company for 2 years trying to develop a way to commercialize oil shale. Trust me on this, it ain’t going to happen. Most oil companies know this. The few (one??) that don’t are totally deluded.
Oil shale is not oil. Oil shale is rock that has a relatively high concentration of organic carbon compounds in it. Geologists call this a source rock. If you heat this shale to 700 degrees F you will turn this organic carbon (kerogen) into the nastiest, stinkiest, gooiest, pile of oil-like crap that you can imagine. Then if you send it through the gnarliest oil refinery on the planet you can make this shit into transportation fuel. In the mean time you have created all kinds of nasty by products, have polluted the air and groundwater of where ever you have extracted it. You have also created an enormous pile of superheated rock that will take hundreds to thousands of years to cool off.

Sucker Bet

Take a gander at the grinning pundit fool that arranged to make a bet with Matthew Simmons over the price of oil in a few years. John Tierney low-balled the price, showing his "faith" in the "market". He apparently knows the ways of rhetoric, having plainly stated his experiences mentoring under Julian Simon (Population Bomb-denier and anti-ecologist).

NYT op-ed columnist Tierney will not lose the bet, because his trade-craft involves only the continuous investment in his popularity as a bloviating right-wing pundit and John Stossel-like cynic. So it doesn't matter if he actually "loses" the bet in terms of Tierney paying out to Simmons; his faithful legions will look at his strength and resolve in facing up to the unhinged progressives who spout off about Peak Oil. They will continue to reward him in readership either way it turns out.

Kind of like BushCo to the true-believer minions.

Of course, if I inhabited Simmons shoes, I wouldn't have made the bet. Instead I would have mocked the living hell out of Tierney. Certainly, Simmons does not have the same media outlet as Tierney, so no one would likely listen to such an outburst, but no one will remember about some poor NYT fair&balanced columnist's mistake in a few years anyways.

I made a bet with mine own self when I postulated this prediction back in March when Tierney took over William Safire's OpEd position at the New York Times. He clearly has lived up to his reputation as the modern-day CEO of the Good News Industry.
Watch Tierney carefully, as he will likely cover energy issues in his column while sounding positive about our future prospects, kind of like a John Stossel in print.
So, how much do I win?

  • Read TOD for more

Update: I remain blameless in naming my post exactly the same as monkeygrinder's. He has a different take that I whole-heartedly agree with.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Another one jumps the shark

The doors to the clown car have opened up, and guess which clowns have fallen out?

From STF's "Venezuela Is On Our Oil" post, word that Pat Robertson of the 600 Club wants the government to assasinate the Venezuelan president -- "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

The last time Robertson took this approach, it didn't work out quite so well:
(#) "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you," Robertson said Monday on "The 700 Club," the Christian Broadcasting Network talk show.
Guess where Robertson resides? "But it missed Florida and whacked Virginia instead."

ROBERTSON: Listen to this Susan, one of our missionaries in North Africa has made an amazing discovery! A new planet in the galaxy Alpha-Seti-6 that has intelligent life on it.

SUSAN (Pat's co-host): Amazing!

ROBERTSON: We're not sure what these hyper-intelligent beings look like, but one thing is for sure: they've never heard of Jesus Christ.

SUSAN: What can we do at The 600 Club to help those poor aliens?

ROBERTSON: Well what we need, Susan, is we need money to build an interstellar cruiser. Now, this spaceship will be able to travel through a wormhole and deliver the message and glory of Jesus Christ to those godless aliens. Send your money now. Amen.

As I finish typing this, Mike Malloy of Air America Radio does a foaming-at-the-mouth Robertson impersonation, points out that the Monroe Doctrine does not apply to conquests over oil, and then asks "Isn't that an act of war? I guess not if it's a religious jackass like him".

Air America Radio

This time Air America Radio will deliver the goods:
Morning Sedition6am-9am et

Your daily wake-up call, with a healthy shot of laughter and a thorough look at the day's news, with Marc Maron (ed: on vacation) and Mark Riley.
Tuesday: NYT columnist Bob Herbert on the Iraq war, NYT Sunday Magazine writer Peter Maass on Saudi Oil, has it peaked?

Check out The Oil Drum for repercussions on the Freakonomics guy who jumped the shark over Peak Oil. In retrospect, I find Levitt's lack of deliberation especially disconcerting. A University of Chicago economics professor, Levitt knee-jerked a response to the NYT article in probably a few minutes of his time. He really doesn't care to advance the discourse. I think back to an old David Letterman one-liner, perfectly apropos here, "Do you know what I've realized? I think Madonna likes to shock people."

Update:Maas also on Terry Gross's NPR show.

And MaxSpeak has some opinions, via Atrios. Both Max and Duncan, as economists, show more common sense in their pinky fingers than Levitt does in his freakishly swelled head.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Sideshow

Courtesy of Avedon from The Sideshow, a somewhat skewed picture of reality but funny nonetheless:

Air America Radio

Laura Flanders of Air America Radio will cover the NYT article on peak oil sometime during her radio show tonight.

Watch how no nationally syndicated right-wing radio hosts will touch this subject over the next few days. Mark my words.

(And of course, you will likely have to wade through listening to the Cindy Sheehan stories on AAR. I for one do not mind because you can connect the dots between all the stories.)

Archives at Air America Place within the next day or so.

Update: That show turned out as a bust. Although she pushed peak oil up front, It looks like she ran out of time dealing with other BushCo lunacies that have popped up recently.

However, the Freakonomics guys have jumped on the NYT piece with gusto.
So why do I compare peak oil to shark attacks? It is because shark attacks mostly stay about constant, but fear of them goes up sharply when the media decides to report on them. The same thing, I bet, will now happen with peak oil. I expect tons of copycat journalism stoking the fears of consumers about oil induced catastrophe, even though nothing fundamental has changed in the oil outlook in the last decade.
I posted this in their comments section:
I am very disappointed with Steve Levitt in his analysis. I thought Freakonomics was all about looking at the statistics and basic math underlying a premise and trying to debunk or support that premise. Many times you (Levitt) have been able to do this in your book by demonstrating how that almost certain correlations between cause and effect were simply anomalies that could not overcome the null hypothesis.

But now with this quickie study, you say " I don't know much about world oil reserves." So, with that, how can you say anything, one way or another, on how things will turn out?

Cripes, in the whole post, you didn't even mention that the USA has gone through its own peak oil in the 70's and you could have started one of your classic Freakonomics statistical studies from that well-understood set of data.

Actually I am not sure where you are going with this. I realize that you tend to take a balanced view of things, hitting progressive and conservative mistakes with equivalent gusto. With this, it seems you clearly do not want to upset the conservative circle.
Actually, I meant circle(jerk).

So I have finally determined that this Freakonomics guy basically works as a charlatan. At one time, I actually looked forward to what his blog had to offer. In the meantime, he has obtained airtime on many of the right-wing nutjob radio stations to sell his book by saying to the effect, "Hey look, see how fair-and-balanced I am, I go after faulty progressive issues." Well, in this one area he has just made a huge Freakonomical mistake. My Freakonomics analysis: The guy basically just wants to sell books and if he doesn't do a John Stoessel impersonation, he knows he will lose half his book-buying audience.

Too bad. Someone ought to tell him that those neanderthals don't buy books.

In another charlatan economist sighting, I overheard an economics professor named King Banaian (from the glorified beautician-school St.Cloud State University) state the following about the high-tech AI field called data mining. This on the local Patriot radio station and their Captain Ed skippered PowerBoat trolling Line blog show.
(paraphrasing) As an economist, I do a lot of data analysis... Data mining in academic circles has a very negative connotation... It is often referred to as doing a fishing expedition.
What a nob. Wait until data mining extracts a potential cure for avian flu, SARS, or some other disease from our great ecological database. Or when data mining finds the right DNA fragments to piece together the mysteries of various forms of cancer. In other words, unless you try wetting a line and engage in a fishing expedition, you won't catch anything. I can't wait until I hear the negative connotations over the next Nobel Prize-winning discovery obtained via data mining.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Trifecta

From the NYT article "The Breaking Point" by Peter Maas, something I did not know as told by Matthew Simmons:
He certainly has not lost sight of the rule that people who shout ''the end is nigh'' do not tend to be favorably reviewed by historians, let alone by their peers. He notes in his book that way back in 1979, The New York Times published an investigative story by Seymour Hersh under the headline ''Saudi Oil Capacity Questioned.''
So this means that Hersh uncovered My Lai and Abu Ghraib, with an aprocyphal latent discovery sandwiched in between. In the greater scheme of things, Hersh getting it wrong by a quarter of century makes little difference considering it took millions of years to populate Ghawar.

Whither R&D

Will we get any juice out of any of the energy research & development efforts going on right now? I can't help but be pessimistic about any potential breakthrough(s) forthcoming. Most people don't realize that the microelectronics revolution has consisted of hundreds of thousands of accumulated advancements concerning fabrication process and computer aided-design improvements. The R&D labs involved in our goal to "faster,cheaper,better" have included corporate, university, government, and your odd garage shop, with or without venture capital backing. Interestingly, apart from their importance in funding and sponsorship, I would rate government labs last in innovation. I wouldn't expect it any other way, insofar as electronics in general has never required "moon mission" type of coordination. Both university and corporate environments could innovate successfully without breaking anyone's bank.

However, I have concern over how effectively R&D will get handled for renewable energy projects. Certainly, we have to depend on government labs to lead on any coordinated mission. They have in the past (i.e. nuclear, solar) and they will in the future. Why? Because, unlike microelectronics and nanotech, the startup-costs and overhead remain too high and returns too risky for any investor to bank on a successful renewable energy program. And also, unlike microelectronics, iterative advancements in energy technology have not reduced our demand in the past and likely will not suppress our demand in the future. I imagine Jevon's paradox has something to do with that.

So BushCo has their own paradox to consider. They must fund government labs as the profiteering oil companies will have no idea how to invest in renewable energy research. (Don't ever consider these petro companies to follow the lead of Toshiba, Sony, Hitachi, IBM, H-P, AT&T, or even Microsoft in developing a useful incremental R&D strategy1). But BushCo will lose even more support from their base -- when they start doling out the funds. Thus the paradox.

Sad to say, but for once university research will have a hard time getting it in gear, obviously not helped by the now chronic funding problems they will relentlessly face. It certainly doesn't help that at one university, press releases state that the economics department doesn't see a problem while some of the scientists feel biofuels contain the answer.

1Apart from better geo-spatial visualization techniques and the related pure extractionist engineering technology.

Update: Albeit a bit weak on energy research, on the medical front the UofM epidemiology center has followed the avian flu spread quite closely.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ahead of the Curve/About to Fall

Infamous Paul Krugman-stalker and economist Donald Luskin demonstrates how to wax vacuously.
Just as important, more supply is on the way. New petroleum resources are being developed around the world, in the form of new conventional oil as well as new sources like tar sands. An executive of a major multinational oil conglomerate recently walked me through some of the new supply coming online in the next year -- and he laughed at today's high prices, as though the market was making a colossal and temporary mistake (and one very profitable to my executive friend's company).
Luskin egotistically calls his column Ahead of the Curve. If Luskin indeed inhabits the leading edge of the Hubbert Peak profile, able to see in the future, we have nothing to fear.

More likely, he has metaphorically run off a cliff edge, and like the coyote in the roadrunner cartoons, doesn't realize that nothing sits undereath him. (In his mind) he will stay up there indefinitely, as long as he doesn't look down.

That remains the mantra of every little bullet-point spouting, reactionary wingnut out there. Nobody can smote me down because I fly on the shoulders of the lord. I don't even try to advance my understanding, only doctrinaire belief matters in the end. Pssst ... it's just a cartoon, buddy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Eff'n All

If anyone (including BushCo) thinks that corn ethanol will save us in the bottom of the 9th inning, they need to first expend a few brain cells in digesting the logic of this post at Pharyngula. Not that we have a game-clock or 9-inning rule to judge the winners and losers, we simply have to assume that a practical solution obeys its own time table.

Until that time, lots of money will get spent on subsidies (ethanol) and on (as Newberry points out) pure speculation:
The sell off the most recent speculative peak has happened. Oil prices could well drop by 15 to 20 percent, before mounting their next chage.

Oil prices rises have, as most speculative moves are, been a series of sharp spikes upward. What is important is that nothing has changed that will prevent the next spike from going higher still. This is because the speculators, most of them, are making very solid profits each time through selling to those in a supply pinch. There will be another one, and another one after that.

We have recently struggled through this already in regards to the tight speculative silver market.

And notice how the silver speculators proudly fly their flag. They admit as much to pumping the price.
Every bull market claws two steps higher before retreating one step back so corrections are totally normal and should be expected. It is futile to fight them.

Every correction and subsequent recovery lines the pockets of the investor class, likely never used in funding enhanced R&D or in educating the consumer, who keeps falling for this scheme over and over. As Big Gav said in the comments:
Anybody with a passing familiarity with the system would understand that long term futures prices are simply a function of the present - arbitrageurs guarantee it (and will keep taking money off those who aren't willing to understand how the system works forever).

End of case.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Network Debutt

Recently annointed oil depletion spokesman Preparation-H Raymond made one of his semi-regular appearances today on NBC's Conan O'Brien late night show. Primarily there to lament the real possibility of a Perparation-H shortage, Raymond urged viewers to engage in conservation measures:
If you use one drop more,
shame on you, you filthy whore.
The man has a point; Preparation-H contains over 70% Petrolatum, a petroleum distillate. What a way to welcome the network audience to Peak Oil, Raymond.

Just thinking about the future gives me a painful itch.

Those who can't

Defining what a sanctimonious twat means, the self-described "anarcho-capitalist" Charles Featherstone writes about oil depletion alarmists:
If you're right, you make your bets wisely and profit handsomely, then you could easily jump-start work on the technology and the products that you think will save the world and end the inefficient and nasty use of hydrocarbons. If peak oil is coming – and by that, I mean coming soon – then high oil and gas prices (and imminent peak oil means we haven't seen anything yet) will dictate the economic feasibility of non-hydrocarbon choices. The market many of you don't seem to like very much is going to work in your favor. Have a little faith and work for the future you want, rather than grumbling about how everyone else – like me – who doesn't see things your way is an "idiot" and that we are all "doomed."

Do it. Prove us wrong. And save the world.
He implies that people concerned about oil depletion should invest in oil companies or somehow "jumpstart" technology.

Listen Mr. Featherweight journalist, since you know how to write, I assume you know how to read. So why don't you go out and buy yourself the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Feynman's Lectures on Physics, O'Hanlon's A User's Guide to Vacuum Technology, Kittel's Introduction To Solid State Physics, Reif's Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics and a good nuclear engineering handbook. If you can't find the answers in there, you evidently didn't try hard enough.

In other words, don't wait for us to follow blindly behind your rah-rah sermonizing. Go ahead and knock yourself out. Save us the trouble.

Update: An elliptical thanks to Big Gav, for a perfectly apropos quote courtesy of C.Walken:
"If you want to learn how to build a house, build a house. Don't ask anybody, just build a house."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Way of the Investment Class

An investment advisor/blogger (I believe) had this to say about Peak Oil:
The Last Word on Peak Oil

The title of this post is fecetious because I've never had anything to say about Peak Oil. I don't understand it, and somehow I don't see it being worthwhile to put in the effort to be informed, as I still imagine I won't understand it. If you wanna start looking into it, start here.

I only bring this up because a commenter on my earlier post said this:

The long downtrend is consistent with the peak oil theory. From the peak (whenever that is), this graph will continue as a mirror image with generally rising prices.

Two thoughts crossed my mind upon reading this: 1) Peak Oil theory better include the historical decline in the price of oil. After all, it's already happened, and it's pretty bad if a theory can't even correctly state the past. 2) If indeed the commenter is correct, and the rise in oil prices will be a mirror of the past, then we're not seeing the upward leg yet, as this latest sharp run doesn't look anything like the long slow decline (with occasional upward shocks) over the past 80 years.

And that's my last word (for now) on Peak Oil.
I posted the whole thing because it articulates a last gasp attempt at preserving the status quo, with a hefty set of blinders applied. The Stalwart desperately wants to use his standard line of reasoning on all things economic, but can't seem to pull the trigger and at least try to grasp the obvious. The whole post reads: I just don't want to know.

I seem to recall losing my shirt via the all-too-similar ignorance gambit on several investments of mine. Won't make that mistake again.

I saw a related post by the always interesting Barry Ritholz at the Pig Picture. He showed the same NYT graph:

Much like the commenter at The Stalwart's blog, I added essentially the same dime-store analysis:
Invert that plot and show Gallons/Dollar and you will see Peak Oil written all over it.

The peak in Peak Oil occurs at maximum global production which equates to inflation-corrected cheapest per volume delivered. This is essentially Gallons/Dollar. If it keeps going, we are seeing the backside of the peak, no two ways about it

Tight Margins

From The Oil Drum, news that China has an oil supply crunch, forcing businesses to cut back on operations. I would imagine that businesses with the tightest profit margins will become affected first during the early stages of a competitive bidding process. The lean manufacturing economies of the far east happen to inhabit the lowest rungs of the pecking order in the energy-driven global economy, and will likely cut their losses at the first hint of cash flow problems.

By the same token, the poor get hit first on the consumer level. Gasoline price increases work as a flat tax, particularly regressive in the fact that the wealthy (apart from how it affects their business) laugh at the prospect of a price increase. They double down in laughter realizing that:
... it is erroneous to calculate that the adjusted price for gasoline, including inflation, is under the price of two and a half decades ago. This is because "subsidies - direct, indirect and hidden, such as the War on Iraq -- to oil and refined products, if included in the price, would make oil cost perhaps $120 per barrel today. This is one reason people must work longer hours and obtain extra jobs," he explained. -- writes Jan Lundberg (from TOD)

Yet the influential William F. Buckley, writing in "what can I lose?" prose, does not seem humored at all by these prospects. He now has joined his life-long protagonists Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal, in a limited partnership of understanding. Whatever their differences, they all see the coming squeeze. However, I seriously doubt Buckley will go so far as to implicate his neo-con buddies in the downward spiral.

But then again, maybe Buckley just did:
It was 20 years ago that the Saudis and the United States arrived at a deal. The Saudis would set prices so as to protect the U.S. oil industry. And the U.S. would protect the Saudis' independence. We regret that, and should make the Saudis regret it also.

Update: From Corrente, the heed to stay nice to Canada:
Canada exports more oil to the US than Hugo Chavez or the House of Saud. Canadians already pay $4/gal for gas; wouldn't it be amusing to see Bush voters pay rebates to Soviet Canuckistan for the same privilege?

Not long ago Bill O'Lielly urged Americans to boycott Canadian products over Iraq, much to the amusement of the Globe and Mail journalist, Heather Mallick, who was his guest. Be careful what you wish for, Bill; you just might get it.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mixed Emotions

From the PeakOil.com message board, someone asked about abiotic oil.
Of course, I don't believe oil is abiotic, but I still have not read any explanation why methane cannot be abiotic that satisfies me, but I am not an expert in this.
The definitive story:
  • Methane is biological when it comes out of your anus.
  • It is chemically formed when one carbon atom combines with 4 hydrogen atoms.

If not, watch this video of methane formation recommended by the Seditionists at Air America Radio this morning. Thanks to the media center at Oral Roberts University (?!?) for their documentarian prowess.

Apparently, this type of media criticism proves too harsh for the right wing Air America Radio critics:
All my radios have a V chip, similar to TV sets. It prevents Air America from being received.

As a matter of fact, I recently put a V-chip in my teeth, so that my fillings don't pick up the evil AAR when I go to sleep at night.

Too insane?

Not when former Gov. Tommy "Tommy" Thompson took the bait, and has become a head of cattle by bodily implanting something called a VeriChip to help other people track his own movements.

Not insane enough?

James Wolcott, as good a radio guest as a writer, could not contain himself upon hearing that Bush made this "immortal statement" about his priorities : "But. I think it's also important for me to go on with my life." And then Bush commenced to participate in a two-hour bike ride with his entourage. Upon which Wolcott said to Mark and Marc: "That's the kind of thing that actresses say after a porn tape has been made of them"

At least to me, a two-hour bike ride sets a fine example. Bush, living in the WH, never has to commute. Listen to Bush as he subliminally points us to the way of the future. In other words, let's harness that human energy -- gassy or not.

For fans of AAR out there, sad news that Lizz Winstead's father passed away over the weekend.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Air America Radio broadcast an interview with author Mark Hertsgaard this morning on Betsy Rosenberg's EcoTalk program. I have listened to EcoTalk with some regularity over the past year even though they air it at 6 AM Sunday morning (the usual spot for public affairs programs on most radio stations). A former network journalist, Rosenberg tears through a ton of topics in her specialty of environmental reporting.

This particular segment had the two discussing nuclear power and peak oil. Hertsgaard provided some well reasoned arguments against nuclear power (i.e. nuclear advocates never mention construction costs) and cut to the chase concisely on peak oil.

Podcast here (MP3)

Another segment features Borasage from the Apollo Alliance.

At some point, AAR will want to schedule EcoTalk for broadcast at some other time. Fortunately, podcasts don't obey a schedule.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sponsors and radio show collude: Shhh!

High gas prices finally forced the local politically-connected right-wing radio talk station to start yapping. Unfortunately, the yapping only indicates that they have reached Stage 1 of oil depletion awareness. They still think the current price predicament relates to excess oil demand caused mainly by refinery problems, reaffirmed here by the economist of the bunch.

Most of the supply&demand rationalizations came from BushCo talking points, including these delivered in the most monotone of cadences:
  1. China not efficiently using energy.
  2. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge not online yet.
  3. When oil reaches $100/barrel, you will be able to fill your tank with nuclear fuel.
  4. Oil exists in western North Dakota, that we can now get at due to better ROI.
  5. Tar sands in Canada.

Lots of what they say on air causes confusion when you read their blogs. For example, the economist says in his blog that the Arctic sites won't come on line (in any case) for 7 years; I didn't hear them mention this on the air, which would have punctured their own arguments. On the other hand, he does teach at St. Cloud State University, the equivalent of a beauty school for the rather limited education they provide their students.

The comment on western North Dakota proved the most frustrating and annoying. They really have no clue. An investment firm advises:
The Middle Bakken horizontal oil play in Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota is one of the largest onshore oil fields found in recent years. Seventeen rigs are running continuously to develop the field and over 120 wells have been drilled with no dry holes. Current production from the Field is in excess of 700 MBO per month with cumulative Field production in excess of 10 MMBO. Primary ultimate reserves for the Field are estimated at between 250-350 MMBO recoverable. The Middle Bakken pay zone is generally produced with either one or two 4,000-5,000-foot horizontal laterals or occasionally one longer 8,000-9,000-foot lateral. Estimated ultimate recoveries range from 250 MBO to 700 MBO. Typical initial production rates range from 300-1,000 BOPD yielding relatively quick payouts of a year or less. Headington Oil Company L. P., Dallas, TX, has staked a drilling location immediately offsetting the acquired acreage. This well should be drilled during the first half of 2005.
You really have to read this correctly.
  BO="barrels of oil"
MBO="thousand barrels of oil"
MMBO="million barrels of oil"

So the largest western NoDak oil field provides a little over 20,000 barrels per day, with initial runs less than 1000 per day. Whoopie. If that does not convince you of a delusional Stage 1 thought process, an oil exploration firm advises:
On our North Dakota acreage, we have reentered seven wellbores and in each of the wellbores have drilled single laterals to test the Bakken. Results have been mixed with an average initial post frac production rate of 125 BOEPD from the six wells completed to date.

125 Barrels of Oil Equivalent per Day. Either they know something I don't or they misread MBO as million barrels of oil per day.

Not once did they mention Peak Oil (closest they came near the end of the hour-long segment: "although we are using up oil, oil is not running out, there will always be oil"). Neither did they mention the energy bill. And they also did not mention conservation. Why, you may ask?

Because they did the radio show from a remote location at a GM car dealership! They had a car dealership as a sponsor! AssMissile kept reminding everyone "Yukon SUV's $10,000 off!". No wonder they didn't want to talk conservation. They did not want to get frog-marched out of the car lot by the sales weasels.

I will continue to keep an eye for when they reach Stage 2 of realization. That part scares me -- they like guns.

The participating web sites from the radio show here:
Afghani Northern Alliance Radio (Warning: An alternative flash site with an W3C XHTML compliant sticker attached. How dweebishly sick to display the top-level html containing the flash as W3C compliant. )
1 2 3 4 5

I found it fascinating when the radio bloggers stated that chief BushCo supporter Sen. Norm Coleman voted against drilling in the Arctic because he wanted to protect Minnesota corn growers (I actually thought he had promised Minnesota voters he would protect the environment). If Coleman thought corn ethanol could beat the oil brat just by believing in questionable marketing schemes, he truly has a low threshold for services rendered.

Update: The economist's blog recieved this floater in his comment section. It basically deflates all the refinery capacity arguments you will ever hear, from the Cato Institute no less. And I don't understand how the radio economist can link to The Capital Spectator, who has written about peak oil for at least a year, without grasping the obvious.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Rectal Certitude

Let us all briefly continue to beat on the global warming skeptic Dr. Roy Spencer as he reels from his pitiful defense of Intelligent Design. From SW, we learn that his upper atmosphere temperature studies contained systematic errors, contraindicating the global cooling he thought they indicated. So we see that besides the coloring of his scientific beliefs with a personal bias he has similarly colored his scientific evidence with an experimental bias. I see no difference between Spencer and the local meat butcher with the sneaky thumb.

OK, OK, I promise to stop kicking this dead horse now....

Just as soon as I can stop chuckling over the justified embarrassment directed at him for neglecting the gradual radiant heating of the floating thermometer fleet. What else did he forget to do? I have no idea, but someone should also tell the beet-red Spencer to pull the rectal thermometer out of his anus, pronto. Trying to fudge the data post facto won't work. We have the world's eyeballs on you.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I donate money to the Cursor news feed, partly because it has a good local angle (Rob Levine), but also because it regularly highlights energy issues. The top of the list Cursor narrative reads as follows for today:
Climate scientists have reportedly "reacted with alarm" to evidence of "an ecological landslide" in Western Siberia, and a "probably irreversible" 'Tipping Point' which "could dramatically increase the rate of global warming." Plus: Summer in the cities.

Analyzing what he calls 'Bush's Energy Disaster,' LA Weekly's Joshuah Bearman writes that "when barely derailing a raid on ANWR is considered a Democratic victory, it only shows how much the Republicans have been able to set the agenda."

Twenty-four House Republicans called the budget process "an inappropriate venue" for a provision that would "clear the way for oil drilling" in ANWR, preferring to debate the issue "outside the budget process."

As an online sports book introduces wagering on gas and oil prices, a columnist at a Michigan newspaper claims that he was fired for criticizing American cars. Plus: 'The pickup truck with 'roid rage.

About global warming, pay heed to what SW says.
The climate is a complex nonlinear dynamic system. Our models are primitive. The inherent uncertainty in these systems, far from an excuse for inaction, is potentially the most dangerous aspect of the irresponsible terraforming experiment we are engaging in. Pimps and whores for the fossil fuel industry like James Schlesinger, and the Wall Street Journal's editorial staff who attempt to use this uncertainty to discourage any action that may impact the profits of their masters should be shunned as the low-life motherfuckers that they truly are.
For several years, I did research centered around experimental data that I could most easily describe with nonlinear dynamics models. I know first-hand how unpredictable the outcomes of mathematical simulation (no matter how simple the model) could result in. As SW correctly notes, this becomes a two-edged sword. Chaos becomes uncertainty becomes doubt, which the righties point to as weakness and flip-flopping on behalf of the left-leaning academics engaging in climate science. Replace Chaos with Fear and you have FUD, which the right uses to fuel their rhetorical political engines.

FUD on thou, yet predictably, the right thrives on steely-eyed steadfastness in portraying themselves to the outside world. So all we can ask: In the end, will they flip right before they fry? Or will they become the proverbial boiled frog? Either way, the rest of us will get dragged, kicking and screaming, into the chaos.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I am The Mighty Favog...I know all

Exxon chief, Lee Raymond, soon to retire, may join Jabba the Hutt and The Mighty Favog on the sedentary blowhard lecture circuit.

Update: From the archives --

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Intelligent Design vs Global Warming

This should put an end to all the questions on the acceptance of global warming as a perfectly viable theory.

Via Atrios, we find that the scientifically trained yet dogged global warming denier, Dr. Roy Spencer of U. of Alabama, also pushes for Intelligent Design.
One finally comes to the conclusion that, despite vigorous protests, belief in evolution and intelligent design are matters of faith.

Everything that good ol' Roy has said in the past needs reconsideration. This includes all his pals, too. Fess up. Tell us all how science remains a matter of belief and that you prejudice your findings based on your own religious belief.

This is so rich. We should rename Spencer's house of worship Tech Central Abbey under the leadership of Friar James (Dobson) Glassman.

More product quackery

Based on my limited success fighting off pinch flats on my road bike, I decided to invest in a quality top-of-the-line floor pump. Or so I thought. Instead I have another candidate for a Built-in obsolescence award.

Essentially, I wanted to, without a lot of effort, get my tire pressure into the +90 PSI range so as to minimize the possibility bottoming out of my rims against the asphalt, which invariably leads to the chronic pinch flat problem.

So, I used the pump once, and then used it again a couple of weeks later. Unfortunately, it only topped out at 60 PSI the second time. Called a Joe Blow and sold by REI, I found several references to people having problems with the specific brand on a few biking message boards. Not able to fix the problem, most of the problem posters ended up returning it; one person ended up returning the pump twice.

I did not want to return the pump myself, so I battled over the inner workings of the pump for several hours. I finally discovered that the hose/gauge head housing had probably gotten contaminated with grease or oil. I used some cross-country ski wax remover on the rubber gaskets, which ended up fixing the pump leak by improving the tackiness of the seal.

Dang OIL! ... The Cause of most of the problems in the world today(TM).

More bad news. I accidentally ran over a Mallard duck last Sunday. I wonder what this means in terms of symbolism? Suffice to say, the outcome for both parties came out better than your typical deer/SUV incident. I feel bad, but don't count me in for the animal humanitarian of the year award though. That goes to Phila.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Extraction of Dignity

Michael Lynch works hard at his job of chief apologist for oil consumers everywhere. The racket he has run for the last few years at least involves convincing people that a much delayed peak will occur for oil production, leading to continued exuberance for the pigs at the trough. He tends to attack the oil depletion modelers with a vengeance, seemingly armed only with his political science degree from MIT.

Somehow, he accepted an invitation to carry on a conversation at PeakOil.com. Although he both uses a handle Spike and his real name, which makes his authenticity seem a bit suspect, I assume he wrote the following:
If tar sands is too expensive, why is production booming? And from before the recent price surge?
Mike Lynch
Why, you ask. Because we live in an extractionist society and not a capitalist one. Try as you might, Mr. Lynch, in believing that the pure supply & demand economics rules the world, reality will eventually play you a cruel joke. We can sum it up in one concise quote by Stirling Newberry:
Extraction is when value can be generated much more easily than by any alternatives, but in a non-sustainable manner.
From the Dominionists of the world to the busy ants at the Corps of Engineers, humans like to control things and keep occupied because idleness remains the devil's trademark. So if they can control by extracting to their hearts content, a little thing like lack of profit won't suppress their urges. I say a lack of profit on the whole because somebody makes money off of these enterprises -- the cleanup and death of extraction happens to land on the succeeding generations.
Newberry:That means that extraction can be of natural resources, but it can also be of human resources, or social capital. One example is to slash education to the bone, and save money, until the uneducated become adults. Or slashing public health. Looks great until the next epidemic. The 20th century was dominated by a series of struggles over the control over extraction.

I did a hit&run piece early in the PeakOil Lynch thread, so I haven't posted again to not look like a complete gloomster. But a poster named Doufus finally nailed it:
I've come to the conclusion that Lynch is another snake oil salesman-perhaps just misguided (and maybe all of the analysts in the debate are misguided in one way or another)- but equally vacuous.

He dismisses the Nth American gas experience with a wave instead of looking at the list of sources quoted in the Hirsch report and their unbridled optimism for gas production (all statments made in the early 2000 period). I'd cite them here but can't them out of the pdf.

Equally, he dismisses current gas prices as being due to raised demand, but the Hirch report identifies them as being due to dwindling supply.

Lynch, what a great game this is! What a bollocks of a discipline. If economics is a dismal science, this is a simple joke.

Do you and others make a living off this crap? No wonder prices bounce around. With data like this to inform markets and producers it's a wonder we have a market at all. NO_ONE can agree on production, resources, rates of explotation, exploration or anything else. There's always another explanation for something or other.

No, there wasn't dwindling production, it's just that the tankers changed size or the pipelines got more friction. Demand increased because of a surge in hamburger sales due to pizza production decline froma mozarella cheese blight across Europe.

ANYONE can say ANYTHING with this data!

I actually DO analyse real data for a living and publicly available oil data is a joke- biased, partial, missing, inflated, deflated, incorrect. And then overinterpreted to death when not a single agreed fact or figure is accepted by any kind of consensus.

In PO-speak, the sun both sets and rises at the same time, or not at all and people can be partially pregnant.

It's not worth our time subjecting the PO process to this rubbish yardstick and court jester logic.

I hope you make a decent living at it because it's an utterly vacuous, wasted existence. But better than flipping burgers I suppose.

POilers would be better off accepting its eventual reality and help the transition to a post carbon economy without concern for date. The available data is worse than an erratic clock- with that you actually begin to ignore it. With PO data people waste their lives on a fractured crystal ball using mud stained glasses.

The moderator, Aaron, tried to quash this impertinence, likely mainly to keep Lynch on the thread. Don't worry, Lynch has a thick skin, and ego to boost. Clearly, judging from his constant references to his busy schedule or to the fact that he has to get ready for a radio show, Lynch only thinks of extracting every last ounce of dignity from himself and his customers. After all, everyone has a price.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The National Ledger Accepts Submissions

From the files of the fragile:
Consider America's Enemies
By Marie Jon'
Aug 6, 2005
Those far-left bomb throwers in all venues of the media certainly do not escape guilt. The "Air America" radio network is not merely a bunch self-absorbed talk show hosts who daily misrepresent the truth and use filthy obscenities as part of their vocabulary. Practically assuming the role of "insurgents," they use words instead of explosives. But by working so diligently against American success, they increase likelihood of American people once again suffering attacks right here in our own streets.

By their incendiary dialog, these verbal bomb throwers continually attempt to distract attention from the real dangers at hand, while at the same time breeding a lack of respect for our fellow countrymen and leaders who are seeking the security of our homeland. Are they truly unaware of how much more difficult they are making the job of those who are giving their "all" to win the War on Terror?
Marie attends nursing school in her state. She loves people of all ages, ethnicity, religions, creeds or color. She is a born again Christian that shares her faith openly.

This makes me almost want to stop listening..... Nah.

Update: I bring up this pretty sad opinion piece by the pretentiously named Marie Jon' because I don't happen to think of the Air America staff as bomb-throwers. As I watch the Sunday morning bobbleheads, I notice, as usual, that the PetroChemicalAgro conglomerates (today including BP on Meet The Press) do most of the advertising and underwriting. Why, only these advertisers? I don't claim to total naivete, yet I only figured this out through an explanation via Randi Rhodes of Air America Radio. She explained that as long as the ADM's, Exxxon's, and others underwrite the Sunday talk shows, the hosts, including Tim Russert, will not discuss our current fossil fuel predicament and avoid bad mouthing our guvmint's corporate-driven oil policy.

How's that for faith, MJo?

Advertisers like Archer-Daniels Midland certainly do not market to the ordinary consumer on Meet The Press; instead they buy influence, or in gang terminology, hush money. Guess the bomb-thrower in this scenario? Well, I would consider it more like odorless poisonous gas delivered by the true gasbags of the airwaves -- the Sunday morning and cable news show pundits. Malloy, Sedar, Maron and the rest of the AAR crowd don't hold a candle to the poisonous atmosphere created by the influence-peddling syndicate comprising the mass media airwaves.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Chicken Squawks


Bob Park, What's New
The Washington Post on Saturday had a little-noticed letter from Bruce Chapman, founder and President of the Discovery Institute. Director of the White House Office of Planning and Evaluation under Ronald Reagan, Chapman learned from the master. Facts are not important, what matters is conviction. "The only religious believers in all this," he writes, "are the Darwinists, who are out to punish scholars who see the weakness of Darwin's theory." And who are these scholars? This brings up another alarming trend, conservative think tanks manned by "scholars" who do no research, but spew out books laden with conviction.
Glenn Reynolds, the InstaPundit, says that "Lots of people want to know more about nanotechnology. The Foresight Institute website (here) is a good place to start." Well, apart from the fact that Reynolds sits on the Board of Directors of that particularly useless wanktank, I have no idea why suddenly people want to know more about microelectronics and materials science at this particular moment in time. I suppose one could conjecture that Reynolds wants to create a buzz and build up an audience for the likely book that he will write, with everyone keeping quiet about the fact that conservative think tanks manned by "scholars" who do no research, but spew out books laden with conviction don't have anything particularly relevant to say.

Bob Park, What's New
Tormented by fears of nanorobots turning the planet into "grey goo," and poisoning by genetically modified foods, Prince Charles fights science by embracing homeopathy, coffee enemas, organic farming, and now "biodynamics," which involves planting according to cycles of the moon and signs of the Zodiac. In a monarchy you are stuck with what you get, while in a democracy we can pick the best qualified among us to lead. But it's only a theory.

My sediments, precisely, at least the theory part. But Bush pushing Intelligent Design, Reynolds on Nanotechnology, Spewitt spewing on Blog technology -- no wonder the prince wants to cover his bases.

Update: Big Gav presents the same realization here, quoting Dan Gillmor:
Where are our business leaders? Perhaps, thinking in the trans-national way they do these days, they're figuring they can stay silent and let America slowly wither. After all, there will always be a huge supply of well-educated and ambitious people elsewhere, right? Well, that's a theory, anyway.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Duking it out

Thanks to Tim from Deltoid, I can report on an interesting battle of the London emeriti. It boils down to who can write a stupider article in Spiked! magazine (see Monbiot for the definitive neocon-like history of the magazine).

In one corner, we have Emeritus professor Stanley Feldman from Imperial College in London, who writes this:
I would also teach the world that energy used is proportional to mass times distance. Over a mile, a heavy train coach will use more energy than a light coach. A bus is not necessarily more efficient than a car, unless there is only one passenger in the car and the bus is full. A bicycle is less efficient than walking, as it increases the mass to be transported over any given distance.

In the other corner we have EnviroSpin blogger and Emeritus professor Philip Stott from the University of London:
Indeed, the whole Gleneagles climate statement is encouraging. Its true focus, quite rightly in my opinion, is on energy rather than on climate change, and the document even concludes with the statement: 'We welcome the Russian decision to focus on energy in its Presidency of the G8 in 2006 and the programme of meetings that Russia plans to hold.' It would thus appear that neither the public nor their leaders have been taken in by 'global warming' hysteria. There will be no capping of dynamic growth for mistaken and misguided environmental aims. Instead, there will be a much-needed reappraisal of nuclear power and of clean coal, the latter a genuine Canadian contribution.

Tough race; on sheer lunacy, I place Feldman ahead, but Stott shows a combination of obviousness and chutzpah mixed with revisionism. Plus Stott has the track record.

Update: Feldman gaining ground with his recently published book, Panic Nation:
You will be relieved but possibly surprised to learn that, for instance, 'passive smoking' can do you no harm at all. The food you eat does not affect the amount of cholestorel in your blood, and the cholestorel level in your blood does not affect your health in any case. Organic food is no better for you than the regular kind. Salt does not raise your blood pressure. There is no such thing as junk food, if it's food then it's not junk, and if it's junk then it's not food, it's as simple as that. A BigMac is just as nourishing as a pre-packed salad, and contains no more fat. Sunbathing is not dangerous, in fact it can be beneficial, you need the vitamin D in sunshine.

I think I picked the wrong day to stop sucking on tail pipes.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


People who blog up a storm and then slyly slide in their advertising blurb practice the art of blogeting. I noticed a mix of chatty opining mixed with a marketing spiel on this DailyKos diary entry called The Hybrid Car You Never Hear About by KumarP. I thought lots of the criticism that Kumar made against hybrid vehicles made a lot of sense, and I have heard them articulated elsewhere. But in the comments, this gets slipped in.
* Biodiesel can be made from used fryer oil (4.00 / 4)

That's what I sell and am building a production plant to make- we're already collecting oil from over 200 restaurants.

It's more than just "filtering" that's involved though.

Idea:No Blood for Oil. Action:I use Biodiesel. site blog

by KumarP on Wed Aug 3rd, 2005 at 12:57:32 PDT

Quoting Paul (Loony Bunny) Harvey, "Now we know the rest of the story."

All I can say to Kumar: Go ahead, knock yourself out. More power to you. Whatever suits your fancy. Just count me out.

Plain Talk

Richard Heinberg's Oil Depletion Protocol on the surface sounds reasonable but the algorithm doesn't hold up as anything unique on closer inspection. He tries to describe it in layman's terms:
How Would It Work?

The idea of the Protocol is inherently straightforward: oil importing nations would agree to reduce their imports by an agreed-upon yearly percentage (the World Oil Depletion Rate), while exporting countries would agree to reduce their rate of exports by their national Depletion Rate.

The concept of the Depletion Rate is perhaps the most challenging technical aspect of the Protocol, yet even it is easy to grasp given a little thought. Clearly, each country has a finite endowment of oil from nature; thus, when the first barrel has been extracted, there is accordingly one less left for the future. What is left for the future consists of two elements: first, how much remains in known oilfields, termed Remaining Reserves; and second, how much remains to be found in the future (termed Yet-to-Find). How much is Yet-to-Find may be reasonably estimated by extrapolating the discovery trend of the past. The Depletion Rate equals the total yet-to-produce divided by the yearly amount currently being extracted.
Maybe the math and long division tempts people to think it means more than it does. In fact, the premise looks utterly meaningless to me. In actuality, apart from what goes into storage vaults like the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the world already imports almost exactly the amount of petroleum that it exports. Reducing exports means reducing imports, however one wants to parse it.

All this mumbo-jumbo that Heinberg tries to valiantly explain boils down to one thing -- of which I can explain clearly. CONSERVE, CONSERVE,

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Newberry on The Four Great Challenges

Take your pick on the Stirling posts:
Daily Kos | BOP News
I could add some man-enabled potentially brewing natural disasters to the challenges as well, but the four that Newberry picked have a logical synergy that usually doesn't get articulated this concisely. I find the analogies between information extraction and energy extraction fascinating. Much more up my alley than the old comparisons between Y2K and Peak Oil.

Newberry closes with the Four Great Realizations
They require uprooting old attachments – an entire society has evolved to extract, and to search for information that leverages extraction. In the United States the political right is the party of extraction, and the political left is the party of information, and they are engaged in a death struggle over which side gets more of the non-existent profits of extraction. In fact, the US is bleeding debt, because the entire trade of “information for extraction” that the US relies on is dying. The United States does better under Democrats because Democrats favor the information side of the equation, and the US sells information, but neither side can deal with the vast demographic realities and end of extraction realities which will dominate the 21st century and be the basis for reaching the 22nd century.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media has given up on trying to explain anything and has resorted to pure symbology:

But that's nothing; just wait until we reach the "Ball of Confusion"!

Update: Soviet-style extraction courtesy of Big Gav HERE.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Infirm Firm

While following the Valerie Plame story the past year, I kind of understand how/where/when/why she might have got outed as a CIA covert employee, not necessarily all the details but that something in fact did happen and likely happened for political purposes. But given that, for the life of me, I can't figure out why the corporation that acted as a front for a CIA covert operation got "outed" as well, and how everyone seems to understand their modus operandi without divulging who gave up those secrets. Apparently, Valerie Plame worked for a company called Brewster-Jennings & Associates which to the best of my understanding, Robert Novak also outed, inadvertently or not at the same time.
"Wilson's wife, the CIA employee, gave $1,000 to Gore and she listed herself as an employee of Brewster-Jennings & Associates"
or maybe some other reporters did it:
But in The Nation, David Corn wrote that Plame was "known to friends as an energy analyst for a private firm." The name of that firm came out later -- when reporters found that Plame had contributed to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign and had filled out a form identifying herself as an employee of Brewster-Jennings & Associates, which was quickly revealed to be a flimsy CIA front company.
The first I remember hearing about it, Michael Ruppert wrote this:
Not only was Plame's cover blown, so was that of her cover company, Brewster, Jennings & Associates. With the public exposure of Plame, intelligence agencies all over the world started searching data bases for any references to her (TIME Magazine). Damage control was immediate, as the CIA asserted that her mission had been connected to weapons of mass destruction.

However, it was not long before stories from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal tied Brewster, Jennings & Associates to energy, oil and the Saudi-owned Arabian American Oil Company, or ARAMCO. Brewster Jennings had been a founder of Mobil Oil company, one of Aramco's principal founders.
So the front operation either
  1. Did intelligence work on WMD's
  2. Did intelligence work on Saudi oil assets
Now, namesake Brewster Jennings has long since passed away (try early last century), so the oil connection may result from a knee-jerk word association by Ruppert. Conspiracy theorists do that all the time to build up an argument.

Still, how in the heck did the leak of any one of these two possibilities transpire? Or does anyone even believe that either job description merits any worth, and may actually provide cover for some other cover. For example, why would the CIA ever annnounce that it involved WMD's?

I have started to think the actual deep operation involved investigating Plain-Old Peak Oil, contrary to my previous thoughts on an elaborate Aram-con. An oil depletion investigation can survive any kind of outing, as it only involves a bunch of academics, industry-types, and assorted internet junkies recognizable by their fancy blovatars....... So here goes..... Hey CIA! Welcome aboard covert energy analysts! Don't be shy and visit the links on the right of the page!