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Thursday, August 31, 2006

I Like Mike

I listen to the radio every chance I get. Having it on in the background doesn't bother me and I consider it an auxiliary source of breaking news. At about this time in the evening I relax to the soothing sounds of Mike Malloy on XM satellite radio courtesy of Air America. Unfortunately, sometime this week the suits at AAR showed extreme rudeness in dumping the Malloy show.

The Malloy lexicon has embedded itself into many a cranium:
  • "Hello Truth Seekers!"
  • "Have I told you yet today how much I hate these people?"
  • "The Bush Crime Family"
  • "Bunny Pants"
  • "Chuckle Nuts"
  • "Pickles Bush"
  • "Watch your back!"
  • "Goodnight Kevin Kinney, Wherever you are."
Some people say that Malloy displays mainly rage with little substance. Au contraire, of all the AAR hosts, he shows the most knowledge on the U.S.'s energy dependence, and has understood well the issues of Peak Oil, global warming, and blood for oil since I started listening to him about two years ago, like here or here or here or here or here or here or here.

Sign the petition to bring back Mike

Contrast the passion of Malloy with the desperate conniving opportunism of the right-wing radio nuts. Case in point, consider Hugh Hewitt (aka Spew Spewitt) who works under syndication to the Salem Communications corporation. Well, what do we discover but that Will McBride, son-in-law of the Chairman of Salem and family friend of Karl Rove has this week had the run of corporate son Hewitt's radio show in pursuit of unseating floundering favorite Katherine Harris for the Republican primary in the Florida senate race. Nothing that the sleaze radio merchants won't do to retain power and prevent the truth from coming out.

I pity the people that use radio as their only source of info. The corporatists at Salem and Clear Channel have got a lock on that particular media outlet and tell their 'minions to whine like babies and puppies when someone else usurps their self-proclaimed, urine-scented "territory". (I caught wind of that when Hewitt whined about AAR's Sam Seder hogging the spotlight when the two guested on Tucker Carlson's show. Best of all Seder read my note of his micro-rant over the air and doubly pawned Spewitt ... HaHa Hugh-baby.) Yet, even if we let them have their way, too bad that they refuse to understand that conventional broadcast radio has only a brief time left in its current carnation. I feel that in no time at all we will have an explosion in broadcast communications technology. WiFi, different types of podcast, Satellite radio, internet streaming, Bluetooth, cell phone radio, and power-line carrier transmission will open up the broadcast spectrum so that the right will no longer have the stranglehold over the spoken word. As John Dewey said (thanks to Alterman on Seder's show this evening): "Democracy begins in conversation". I would add that Dominionism thrives in blind toady servitude.

Words of the Day:
   Petrofascists - Members of The Bush Crime Family
  Clownish Hag - defined

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Thin Skin and Robert's Rules of Order

Alert to some classic posts on The Oil Drum recently. Robert Rapier somehow got under Argonne Lab's Michael Wang enough for Wang to say:
"You are entitled to have your opinion, but do not imply personal attack on my professional work."
And what did Rapier say to engender this response? He claimed that Wang practiced a bit of "sleight-of-hand". Rapier went on and logically deconstructed the energy efficiency tricks that Wang purportedly used to prove that Ethanol would prove very competitive with gasoline, if not exceed its EROEI!

Even though Rapier has a clear explanation, people in general don't seem to understand energy return arguments. I have a suggestion that might work. Instead of saying that X amount of gasoline provides Y amount of fuel, we should switch the X to indicate the cost of that gasoline. As most people relate to money more easily than symbolic fuel cans as input, it makes a bit more sense to lay it out that way. People like Wang would have no leg to stand on.

Also in the post, Rapier gives vulture capitalist Vinod Khosla another spanking:
Robert's argument would make solar cells a horrible source of energy at an efficiency of 0.15! And why would we ever use electricity?
And Khosla pretends expertise in Silicon Valley electronics? Vinod, please, solar cells don't have the lifetime of disposable razors -- as Robert reminds us, solar cells keep on running and will recoup their cost many times over. This proves Khosla has no business as a leader in the alternative fules debate.

In another TOD post, Petropest said this in a response to the creative accounting practiced in oil production reporting:
I don't think it is fair to add in bitumen or CTL or "refinery gain". You can't change the rules in the middle of the game. Counting some of that tar they pull out of the ground now is bad enough.
Anyone with software expertise would surely appreciate how many times managers have redefined what a "line of code" means. It could mean a count of semicolons, actual lines, lines minus comments, etc. The bottom-line remains that the definition will change depending on how middle management wants to show progress in their metrics with respect to productivity. I have seen it happen to software, and have to agree with Petropest that big oil can redefine what oil production metrics entail any time they want, yet no one asks the right question on what the peak really means.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

North Sea Update

Oil production from the UK North Sea continues to plummet:
Oil production growth was down 4 per cent compared with May at 1,411,961 barrels per day (bpd) and down 13 per cent on the same month last year.
From last year's oil shock model for UK North Sea, I added an additional data point (green star):

No sign of new discoveries either.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Free Gum

With the advent of web-based spreadsheets, data has freed itself from its shackles. Khebab made an important first cut by contributing his oil production data to the editgrid on-line spreadsheet here. To grab the data, select what you need and then paste to a clipboard; in the end you can easily create a nice space-delimited flat file.

Geko45 also contributed his own apparently painstakingly collected data as an Excel spreadsheet. Unfortunately, placing the data in a proprietary format like Excel demonstrates the limitations of such an approach -- I for one couldn't load this data set reliably into Quattro.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Half Hour of Power

I recorded and uploaded this morning's "Energy Efficiency Hour" radio program here:
[mp3] (18 minutes)

The host, Don Johnson, doesn't possess lots of radio polish but he took a few callers (on wind power and geothermal) and wedged in a little rant over our war for oil. Curiously, the show got billed as an hour but it got interrupted halfway through by a run-of-the-mill herbal medicine infomercial at which I quit recording. If nothing else, cutting an hour-long program in half at least shows a certain amount of conservation awareness -- don't want to waste unnecessary electrons.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Alternative Treatment Modalities

"The world's real superpower is oil." -- Deepak Chopra

Noted spiritualist Chopra's self-help advice? Stop the rhetoric of militarism entirely.

Looking at the HitMaps counter for this site, I find it odd that the area around Anchorage, Alaska has generated a disproportionate share of visits. The small hitmap appears a bit strange, showing a tumor-like growth at the port of call for Alaskan oil. If I let my imagination wander a bit, I envision members of the oil elite firing up their internet kiosks during happy hour.


Evidently they don't work during the week; what on earth do they do on the weekends?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Carrion Eaters

The HuffPo offers a good bunch of regular contributors, but one fellow who has somehow captured the energy pundit role there continues to spout nonsense couched as a mix of libertarian and progressive idealism. In his latest post, the commodities trader and HuffPoster Raymond Learsy somehow managed to say glowing words about free energy huckster Sean McCarthy of Steorn1, vulture capitalist Vinod Khosla, and SilVal libertarian TJ Rodgers. Which means he said basically nothing.

Fascinating how the hucksters group together; in an attached comment on the Learsy HuffPost, who else do we see chime in but an employee from Magnetic Power Inc., purveyors of "zero-point energy".
Magnetic Power, Inc. (MPI) applauds Steorn. We are also developing magnetic devices which deliver electric power without fuel, and without breaking the basic laws of physics. MPI is glad to see that Steorn's challenge has already had more than 3,000 volunteers from the scientific community offer to test the device.
How these vultures detect the carrion remains a mystery to me. You'd think they can synthesize biodiesel off the garbage spewing from Learsy's words. But then again getting something out of nothing remains the (what'cha smokin'?) pipe's dream.

Read TheOilDrum for good info on Kholsa.

1McCarthy a possible hoaxster? From Wikipedia:
A page on Steorn's website titled "Press Coverage" had a non-working link to a news story claiming the discovery in the Guardian on April 1, 2006. The date "April 1" is commonly observed as "April Fool's Day" in many countries, including Ireland and Great Britain, and is often a target date for hoaxes. No such news story from the Guardian exists.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hour of Power

The local Air America radio station has decided to broadcast a talk program with the running topic of energy efficiency. Called "The Energy Efficiency Hour with Don Johnson", the main link leads to a solar energy sales web site. It runs at 8am CDT on Saturday and may turn out as nothing more than an extended radio infomercial, but it looks at least intriguing. Air America Minnesota has streaming audio so I will set the recorder in the hope that Mr. Johnson says something interesting (see his reading list).

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fort Apache, The Bronx

Actually Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where community board members vote against bicyclists:
The objections expressed at the board’s last meeting before its summer hiatus were, by and large, not about the details of the plan. And it wasn’t that the board members were blessed with more local knowledge than the bureaucrats. Turns out, a majority of the board is against bike lanes on principle! Turns out these car-driving, subway-taking neighborhood leaders just flat out have a visceral dislike of bicyclists. They think the two-wheelers are rude and ornery and ill-behaved. ...
NYC Oil Drum monitors quite a recent run in bicycling deaths:
also. yesterday evening around 7 pm a young girl (10-11 y/o) was struck by a minivan at the intersection of Scholes and Leonard. I don’t know if she will make it and I didn’t actually see the incident, just the aftermath. However, i have a hard time (toby…disaffected) directing blame at a child (laying on the side of the road, bleeding from the nose and mouth due to internal injuries), when well over two thirds of this cities drivers speed with no regard for anyone outside of their own existance. Furthermore it is a shame that we allow our egos and schedules to affect the lives of others to the point of killing them.

Comment by bo — August 16, 2006 @ 5:19 pm | Link
We had a local bicycling death just yesterday. I see no possible excuse for this happening on or near a university campus. Bicycle and truck going through a yellow light at the same time: a helmet won't help and guess who wins?

Thursday, August 17, 2006


From Rachel Maddow of Air America Radio, discussion of hypermiling with Wayne Gerdes, who ranks as very possibly the world's best hypermiler.

Click below to listen to the interview, and watch as President Bush gets a little too excited about riding a Harley.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Joe Barton performs duties as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Read what this entails at the DailyKos. He has previously earned the tagline Barton(R - EXXON), but now appears to operate on vapors alone. Anna The Kossack rightly points out that Barton's Democratic opponent will get less proportional funding and attention than the primary defeat of Joe Lieberman got, who had at least some credentials as an environmentalist. Congressmen like Joe Barton and Richard Pombo remain orders of magnitude worse than Joe Lieberman's record shows.
Neither of these bills has provisions for drilling in the wildlife refuge, but Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, chairman of the House Resources Committee, is expected to hold hearings on the American-Made Energy Freedom Act. The bipartisan House bill proposes to open 1.5 million coastal acres of the 19 million-acre refuge to limited drilling.

Barton and Pombo evidently lives in an alternate-reality universe, not unlike the one that The HumDrum occupies.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Inconvenient Truth

I finally got around to seeing the Al Gore global warming movie and would highly recommend it to anyone. The filmmakers did a good job of merging the various technical narratives but Gore ultimately gave the power point presentation of the century -- boosted by the fact that it didn't use power point at all.

My running reactions to the film sequentially followed these emotions:
  1. Sadness that Gore didn't get the nod for president.
  2. Bewilderment that they put the wrong guy in charge instead of Gore.
  3. Amazement that after all these years, I actually get to see charts and graphs used correctly in a movie (and would consider giving best supporting actor nominations to the trendlines).
  4. An occasional shrug when Gore over-does the cause/effect relationships -- especially regarding hurricanes.
  5. Admiration for Gore's persistence in following climate science for all these years.
As for the opposition nonsense portrayed in the movie, Phila provides this relevant quote on climate change deniers:
It's classic conservatarianism: Define a problem out of existence by turning logic and morality inside-out, and then whine about the "pessimism" of anyone who refuses to join you in Cloudcuckooland.
Although spot-on, this observation shows the intractability of winning any argument which hints at a dark side. Pity that the conservatives never seem to use the pessimistic dominion-loving rapturists as target practice before going after the scientists. "Convenient dementia", I would call it.

Update: For a truly bad power-point slide, check this out. It uses an abstract data flow to articulate zero understanding.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Transition from a Google Earth image taken sometime before the current conflict to a recent satellite image purportedly taken after the bombing. The movie basically simulates a slow dissolve from one image into the other. Tracked the original photos from a link provided by Big Gav.

Another live one

Michael Lynch's arguments cannot be scientifically refuted. He is a statistician and analyst of impeccable credibility and his refutation of the entire peak oil nonsense is unimpeachable, relying on solid statistical techniques as taught in any advanced mathematics course. Those who seek to denigrate him and the work of Professor Peter Odell are simply placing a belief system ahead of a reasoned scientific argument.

I for one have no time for such charlatans. I am tired of standing up to respond to scientically illiterate criticism.

The fact is, there is no shortage of hydrocarbons at all. Analysis from physicists show there to be more than we could use in 100 lifetimes. Those who deny this research need to examine their motives.

As I quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan in my forthcoming book on this subject:

"We are all entitled to our opinions, what we are not entitled to is our our facts."
I will refrain from commenting on the contents of this post, apart from marveling at the sheer pomposity of its construction. I can only hope to attain this level of achievement someday.

...(one day later)...
[...] In any event changes in technology required to access deeper oil are well within our capacity and are affordable too.
OK, now you lost me. I thought you said that solid statistical techniques show no shortage of oil. Do these statistical techniques have long drilling rods attached to their numerical solutions?

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid all of this gobbledy-gook stuff is too much for us scientifically illiterate charlatans.

I eagerly await for steftheref's book to make it all crystal-clear.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Floyd Landis and JFK

Floyd Landis took the calculated risk of taking medication to treat a thyroid condition and a degenerating hip and then trying to compete in the Tour de France.
Landis had been taking two medications during the race -- injections of cortisone to deal with a chronic hip injury and a thyroid hormone used to treat a condition known as Hashimoto's disease, with which he was diagnosed two years ago.

Kay said it appears unlikely that either medication could have caused the result.

Landis had a waiver to take cortisone; the thyroid medication did not require a waiver because it is not considered a performance-enhancing substance.
He got caught with having an elevated level of testosterone (or a suppressed level of epitestosterone). Cortisone, like testosterone, happens to fall under the class of biological substances known as hormonal steroids. Landis took the cortisone to treat his chronic hip injury, most likely to suppress the inflammation from arthritis he may have acquired. And he took some unnamed other hormone to treat the Hashimoto's disease, which indicates an underactive thyroid -- caused by an autoimmune disorder whereby the body attacks the thyroid glands. Since autoimmune disorders such as these (arthritis and Hashimoto's) often get treated by steroids which act to suppress the body's overactive immune system, I don't find it surprising that they would find elevated levels of steroids in Landis' system.1 It would also not surprise me that drug interactions could also lead to elevated or suppressed levels of naturally occurring hormone levels. But it does surprise me that every one else reporting the story hasn't really broached the subject. (If they did, they would also find out that many of these medicinal steroids do not increase muscle mass and act counter-productively for athletic performance.)

If nothing else, Landis took a calculated risk and lost. Realizing ahead of time that the meds he had taken might interfere with the drug test protocol, he could have just walked away and never tried. Instead, he gave it a shot and someone ultimately decided that he broke the rules -- whether Landis did this intentionally or unintentionally, we may never know.

Like I have said before, breaking the rules may start to make sense from my own unhinged views of energy conservation. Better living through chemistry has long become an American past-time. After all, John F. Kennedy took cortisone for a chronic autoimmune disorder years before his death:
She also asserted that doctors had told her that were it not for cortisone, Kennedy would be dead.
Think about it: with Kennedy dead, Nixon would likely have become president, and with his sweaty, itchy trigger finger, all out nuclear war would have occurred over Cuba. Thank goodness we didn't have a professional sports organization disqualifying John Kennedy from his presidency.

As it turns out, Landis doesn't get his medal, but on the bright side, we have avoided nuclear armageddon and Floyd avoids having to live with the unsightly appearance of goiters.

1Same goes for Lance Armstrong, who likely took loads of auto-immune suppressive steroids when fighting his cancer. Drug abuse allegations dogged Armstrong later, yet I could at least hypothesize long term changes in his body chemistry resulting from his successful treatment.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Occam's Texture

You shouldn't attribute malice to something that you can account for with basic incompetence. I caught the 9/11 scholars conference on C-SPAN radio and then listened to Webster Tarpley for 2 hours on Mike Malloy. Somehow the 9/11 truth movement people have to make every connection they can no matter how tenuous the assertion.

Since it takes some time to determine whether someone has gone overboard on conspiratorial theories, I have a quick test which gives immediate results. First, find the theorist's website. Then look for HTML background that looks like this texture:

I guarantee it will accurately predict tin-foil at least 99% of the time. Find a textured home page and you will find tin-foil-hat-wearers lurking nearby. Let me test my theory:

Another 9/11 textured page:

And one more on an unrelated but even more insane topic:

Why do the conspiratorially inclined go for this background texture? Occam would explain it as old farts never updating their pages beyond HTML styles circa-1996. I would prefer to think of it as an subconscious plea to shadow whatever they say with crumbled tin foil:

Yet, I still don't quite understand why WTC building #7 went down.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

We jam econo

Did you see the run of ads for the Hummer where the pretty lady with the smirk on her face drives alone in this monstrous 17 foot vehicle? Is she a soldier in Iraq fighting the War on Terror? Is this the vehicle she needs to navigate her way through the twists and turns of her everyday life?
Did you see the ad for the newer, smaller Hummer where the short guy walks into the board room where the honchos are having a meeting about what to do about their useless gas draining fucked up urban assault vehicle and suggests they make it smaller? That’s like smoking a shorter cigarette. When even the President of the United States now recognizes that America is addicted to oil, can’t General Motors show some backbone, exercise some responsibility and just stop making these vehicles and lead the way in creating means of transportation that are more in line with what’s happening and where things are going? That oil is in an ever diminishing resource and perhaps it’s time to address the situation instead of just starting fake wars in oil rich regions? Isn’t it time for the powers that be to show more responsibility and vision rather than just caving in to stock holders and their portfolios? Whenever I see someone driving a Hummer I just think of the lady in the ad and the smirk on her face that says, “Because I can, motherfucker.” As tax paying residents, we are held to a fairly high level of accountability. When we can’t pay for something, we pay more. We lose our houses, our credit goes spiraling out of control. When we don’t deliver at the workplace, we get fired. Bad things can happen to us if we don’t tell the truth. When the big guys make bad decisions, we are often left holding the bag. Big corporations make me feel small. Their almighty power makes me feel powerless and their often appalling lack of responsibility accountability makes me think my country is getting sold out by a bunch of paunchy power suited pussies. It sucks. Perhaps accountability has to come from the ground up. If we stop buying these vehicles, the stockholders will howl and the industry will have to change. I have noticed a lot of times if you talk about that kind of civically rooted personal accountability, someone will tell you you’re only trying to be PC and to get real. With Unocal almost selling out to China and the President wanting to turn over American border security to the UAE, I think things are real enough. Every company has one basic goal: supply the demand. Maybe it’s time to demand something else. So the next time you’re driving your Hummer from your driveway to the shopping mall, think about what it takes to fill your gas tank and push all those tons down the street and who’s really paying for it and wipe that smirk off your face.