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2006 History

December 29, 2006

10 myths - and 10 Truths - About Atheism

http://www.josephpalmer.com/etc-local/graphics/ There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

Sam Harris

Amen, brother. Amen. (Yes, it is perfectly logical and correct for an atheist to say amen.)

Fri, 29 Dec 2006 08:46:27 PST - Link

Last Friday Cat Blogging of 2006 Tory and Miko

Tory and Miko

We took all three to the vet for their yearly check-ups yesterday, there was much woe and wailing in the cat carriers. T-chan needs his teeth cleaned, and they found a flea on Tory. (First flea we've seen since they were kittens.) Everyone got a dose of Advantage.

- Link

December 27, 2006

Cause and Effect?

Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman and the head of the company's global product development team, said the proposed changes to the government's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards would represent an unfair burden on the traditional Big Three automakers.

"For one thing, it puts us, the domestic manufacturers, at odds with the desires of most of our customers, namely larger vehicles," Lutz said in a year-end posting on a Web site maintained by GM.


General Motors reduced its national advertising budget from $1.5 billion in 2005 to $1.3 billion for 2006 to cope with the $8.55 billion net loss the company suffered last year, reports Auto Week (via MediaBuyerPlanner).


I have a hard time with GM's "desires of most of our customers" statement, when they spent $1,500,000,000.00 in 2005 and $1,300,000,000.0 in 2006 to convince customers to buy large, low mileage vehicles. (That's about $8.49 per Licensed driver in the USA.)

"As long as [gas] is around $2 per gallon here, people will exercise their freedom to buy the vehicle they want, V8 engine and all," he said. "Forcing us to alter the fleets to hit some theoretical average won't change what consumers want, or what they'll buy." — CNN

Yes, well... But gas is $2.49 here today, Mr. Lutz. That's for regular gas, Mr. Lutz. Of course your top of the line Escalade wants premium in its 26 Gallon Tank, which is about $2.79 today, Mr. Lutz. That's 162.5 pounds of fuel, at $72.54, Mr. Lutz. How does $2.79 per gallon affect your business plan, Mr. Lutz? Are you betting your company on cheap oil, Mr. Lutz?

Wed, 27 Dec 2006 09:00:50 PST - Link

December 25, 2006

Christmas Gift: Pineapple Cheese Cake*



   Graham Cracker Crumbs (Crush 20 2" Squares in ziplock bag)

   1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

   1/2 Cup Sugar

Mix the sugar and crumbs, melt the butter and mix well with crumbs. Press lightly with a spoon into the bottom and sides of a greased 9" (deep) pie plate

Bake at 370° for 3 Min.



 12 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (Softened)

   2 eggs (slightly beaten)

 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

 1/4 cup sugar

   1 8 oz can Dole crushed pineapple, drained

Cream the cheese with the vanilla extract

Alternately add beaten eggs and sugar until the mixture is smooth, then add Pineapple

Pour filling into crust



325° oven for 25 minutes, (The filling will firm and darken slightly)

Allow to cool, then chill in refrigerator



   1 cup Sour Cream

   3 Tbs Sugar

   1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Cream ingredients until smooth, pour over filling.

Chill for several hours, then serve.

*A Kim Family Christmas Tradition, and yes, It's that good.

Mon, 25 Dec 2006 17:40:09 PST - Link

December 21, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging Flock-o-Cats Edition The Boys

The low winter sun is just irresistible.

- Link

December 21, 2006

$99,700,000,000.00 / 300,441,125 = $331.85

The Pentagon wants the White House to seek an additional $99.7 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to information provided to The Associated Press.

That's $331.85 for every man woman and child in the USA, about $0.91 per day. (That's $1327.38 for a family of 4). The population number came from the US Census Bureau Population Clock

$0.91 doesn't sound too bad to an engineer in Silicon Valley, but if you look at median income for a family of 4, ($65,093.00 in 2003) it's 2.04% of their gross income.

The military's request, if embraced by President Bush and approved by Congress, would boost this year's budget for those wars to about $170 billion.

That's $565.83 for each of us, $2,263.34 for a family of four, or 3.48% of the median income for this year alone.

Overall, the war in Iraq has cost about $350 billion. Combined with the conflict in Afghanistan and operations against terrorism elsewhere, the cost has topped $500 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

So Iraq has cost $1,164.95 so far for each of us, or $4,659.81 for a family of four.

The overall $500 billion: $1,664.22 and $6,656.88.

But we've spent a greater treasure, here on day 1372 of this conflict, 3206 coalition soldiers have died, and 46,880 total casualties, from minor to life altering.

Thu, 21 Dec 2006 08:20:18 PST - Link

December 20, 2006



I came across this Christmas decoration when taking a different way home last night. What you can't see clearly is that the word "Peace" is laid out in lights on the lawn below the symbol. I cried.

2006 - Another Christmas at war. Bush was just on the TV — talking about a way forward. He still doesn't understand that the chances for success in Iraq have collapsed, and it's his fault. For years now, the pundits have been saying 'the next six months well tell... the next six months will be critical... we'll give the Iraqis another six months to stand up. So what is our President doing? He's spending one of those six months 'listening'.

Bush didn't listen when he was told that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to win the peace. Years of death, injury and insult to the Iraqi people have now pushed that objective out of the reach of US military might.

Worse, Bush didn't listen when the weapons inspectors were saying that they had found no WMD programs in early 2003. He was told it was a matter of months to complete the mission of searching out every lead, inspecting every site. We now know that there were no WMDs. We now have the proof that Hussein was not an imminent threat to us or our allies. We now live with the fact that we attacked a country that was not an imminent threat to our security, and that's a war crime.

This crime was compounded when the Bush administration, instead of placing experts in charge of reconstruction, chose candidates on the basis of loyalty to the Republican cause, and neocon principals. It was further compounded by the destruction of the civilian infrastructure, and the failure to re-construct it even under lucrative no-bid contracts.

It's clear from Bush's recent comments that he has already made up his mind. He has no intention of leaving Iraq, no matter what the facts are, no matter what advice he may receive in his one-month listening period. Meanwhile, back in Iraq, far from the missing mountain climbers, far from the tarnished reputation of Miss USA, far from the brawls on the Basketball court, the Iraqis are holding another in a long series of one-month dying periods.

Wed, 20 Dec 2006 09:05:32 PST - Link

December 17, 2006

On second thought

Yes, It's Dave!

Okay, I'll admit it. It wasn't just me. We all won the person of the year award.

However, I think I'd like to give my part of the prize to Dave Winer of Scripting News, without whom I wouldn't have this ramshackle site.

It's not that I use his software to create it, and it's not like I've done that many podcasts, and not like I understood what RSS was all about back when he was pushing it...

I was inspired to do a website by reading Scripting News, (And Davenet before that). I was inspired to do podcasts after hearing his recordings. And I was inspired to add an RSS feed to my site by another Dave who finally pounded the value of RSS into my thick skull. So — thanks, Dave. You deserve this way more than me.

Sun, 17 Dec 2006 16:21:23 PST - Link

December 16, 2006

Holy Crap!

Nikon FTn

I'm Time's Person of the Year!

Sat, 16 Dec 2006 19:48:21 PST - Link

December 15, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 15 Dec 2006 08:53:39 PST - Link

December 12, 2006

The Electron Economy

Two interrelated stories for today:

Hydrogen Chart

Image Credit: Ulf Bossel.

Also, hydrogen is not a source of energy, but only a carrier of energy. As a carrier, it plays a role similar to that of water in a hydraulic heating system or electrons in a copper wire. When delivering hydrogen, whether by truck or pipeline, the energy costs are several times that for established energy carriers like natural gas or gasoline. Even the most efficient fuel cells cannot recover these losses, Bossel found. For comparison, the "wind-to-wheel" efficiency is at least three times greater for electric cars than for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Another headache is storage. When storing liquid hydrogen, some gas must be allowed to evaporate for safety reasons—meaning that after two weeks, a car would lose half of its fuel, even when not being driven. Also, Bossel found that the output-input efficiency cannot be much above 30%, while advanced batteries have a cycle efficiency of above 80%. In every situation, Bossel found, the energy input outweighs the energy delivered by a factor of three to four.


Altair Nanotechnologies, a provider of advanced nanomaterials for use in energy, automotive, life sciences and industrial applications, announces that, in ongoing testing, it has completed 15,000 deep charge/discharge cycles of its innovative NanoSafe battery cells. Even after 15,000 cycles the cells still retained over 85% of their original charge capacity. This represents a significant improvement over conventional, commercially available rechargeable battery technologies such as lithium ion, nickel metal hydride and nickel cadmium. These other commercially available rechargeable batteries typically retain that level of charge capacity only through approximately 1,000 deep charge/discharge cycles.

Tests Confirm Extended Battery Cell Life from Altairnano

Tue, 12 Dec 2006 09:00:41 PST - Link

December 10, 2006

Wet Leaves

Wet Leaves (Tallow)

2006.12.10 Nikon D70S, AFS Nikkor 18-70

Sun, 10 Dec 2006 13:00:23 PST - Link

December 8, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging Tory James

Tory James in a sunny spot.

- Link

December 6, 2006

Two Reports

The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved.

The Iraq Study Group Report is online at CNN

The results indicate that only $2161 was needed in order to belong to the top half of the world wealth distribution, but to be a member of the top 10 per cent required at least $61,000 and membership of the top 1 per cent required more than $500,000 per adult. This latter figure is surprisingly high, given that the top 1 per cent group contains 37 million adults and is therefore far from an exclusive club. The entrance fee has presumably grown higher still in the period since the year 2000.

The figures for wealth shares show that the top 10 per cent of adults own 85 per cent of global household wealth, so that the average member of this group has 8.5 times the global average holding. The corresponding figures for the top 5 per cent, to 2 per cent and top 1 per cent are 71 per cent (14.2 times the average), 51 per cent (25 times the average) and 40 per cent (40 times the average), respectively. This compares with the bottom half of the distribution which collectively owns barely 1 per cent of global wealth. Thus the top 1 per cent own almost 40 times as much as the bottom 50 per cent. The contrast with the bottom decile of wealth holders is even starker. The average member of the top decile nearly 3000 times the mean wealth of the bottom decile, and the average member of the top percentile is more than 13,000 times richer.

The World Distribution of Household Wealth is available at the World Institute for Development Economics Research Website.

Wed, 06 Dec 2006 08:51:17 PST - Link

December 4, 2006



Unidentified weed, ~1973 Tri-X, Nikon FTn, 50mm Nikkor

Mon, 04 Dec 2006 22:58:37 PST - Link

November 27, 2006


First came the news of the radioactive poisoning death of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko. Evidence of radiation was found in London's Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, which is where we stayed in London in June of 2003.

Next came the news of Billionare Suleiman Kerimov, who crashed his Ferrari Enzo into a tree on the Promenade des Anglais — which is the road we took from the Nice Airport to our hotel.

That's just weird.

Mon, 27 Nov 2006 20:19:05 PST - Link

November 24, 2006

Friday Cat Bloging

Tory James

Tory James, in box.

Fri, 24 Nov 2006 20:21:13 PST - Link

November 22, 2006

If I was on South Park...

If I was in South Park

Find Yourself at the Planetarium.

Hat tip to This and That. And yes, Chris looks just like that.

Wed, 22 Nov 2006 04:36:42 PST - Link

November 21, 2006

No Comment

Mending Bowl With Cramp

Tue, 21 Nov 2006 08:54:48 PST - Link

November 19, 2006

Is It Warm In Here Or Is It Just Me?

The NAS stated that the late 20th-century warming in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the past 1,000 years and probably for much longer than that. It also noted that the finding has "subsequently been supported by an array of evidence". So, no matter how many charts or graphs the Viscount might want to create, the basic facts remain the same. What the models have shown, unequivocally, is that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases mainly released from industrial activities are warming the planet.

At stake is nothing less than the survival of human civilisation
Albert Gore in the Telegraph — UK

Sun, 19 Nov 2006 18:41:58 PST - Link

Unsafe Is Safe

The new traffic model's advocates believe the only way out of this vicious circle is to give drivers more liberty and encourage them to take responsibility for themselves. They demand streets like those during the Middle Ages, when horse-drawn chariots, handcarts and people scurried about in a completely unregulated fashion. The new model's proponents envision today's drivers and pedestrians blending into a colorful and peaceful traffic stream.


Give people a little responsability and look what happens — they look out for each other. Maybe we should try that here in the US.

Sun, 19 Nov 2006 17:32:38 PST - Link

November 17, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - Scary Look of the day

Tory & Miko

What do you mean by your pillow, dad. It's My pillow now.

Fri, 17 Nov 2006 22:40:45 PST - Link

NHSPATOT - Scary plot of the day

Housing Starts

New Home Start Permits Authorized - Total

Not so good — since so much of the US economy is based on housing these days.

Fri, 17 Nov 2006 19:28:10 PST - Link

November 11, 2006

Saturday Cat Blogging


A day late, so I'll double your catness. Miko and Tchan, enjoying a patch of sun.

Sat, 11 Nov 2006 08:56:53 PST - Link

November 8, 2006

Dow Reaches New All-Time High on News of Successful transit of Mercury.

Sailor Mercury

The transit of Mercury past the sun will be visible as a dot passing in front of the solar disc for several hours this morning.

It will not be visible again from Australia for 26 years.

ABC News Australia

The Dow Jones industrial average (up 19.77 to 12,176.54, Charts) closed at a fresh all-time high. The broader S&P 500 (up 2.88 to 1,385.72, Charts) index added a few points.


That was the only news today, right? ^_^

Wed, 08 Nov 2006 21:17:05 PST - Link

Heckovajob, Rummy.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld stepped down Wednesday, one day after congressional elections in which opposition to the war in Iraq contributed to heavy Republican Party losses.


I don't think that would have happened if the Republicans had held the House and Senate.

Rummy is expected to get a Gold Watch and Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work.

Wed, 08 Nov 2006 12:43:34 PST - Link


It's like an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders.

The Democrats have a solid majority in the House, and hold solid leads in the two remaining Senate races for a 51 seat majority. Bush has lose his rubber stamp.

The good news is that Democrats take control of all of the house committees, and have subpoena power. We can now hope that a little light will shine into the this most corrupt, most inept, most secretive administration in history.

Wed, 08 Nov 2006 08:44:42 PST - Link

November 7, 2006

Print Your Own


Make sure to go out and vote today. Here's a larger version.

Tue, 07 Nov 2006 07:10:21 PST - Link

November 5, 2006

Sunday Cat Blogging

Tory James

Sun, 05 Nov 2006 08:43:52 PST - Link

November 2, 2006

It's Nature's Way of Telling You Something's Wrong

Dead Sea

An international group of ecologists and economists warned yesterday that the world will run out of seafood by 2048 if steep declines in marine species continue at current rates, based on a four-year study of catch data and the effects of fisheries collapses.

The paper, published in the journal Science, concludes that overfishing, pollution and other environmental factors are wiping out important species around the globe, hampering the ocean's ability to produce seafood, filter nutrients and resist the spread of disease.

Washington Post

Thu, 02 Nov 2006 21:44:23 PST - Link

November Surprise

Gas prices that have plummeted 80 cents in the past three months are helping the economy, but the cost could shoot right back up when the Saudis lower production after the election, warns Robert Weiner, a former senior public affairs director in the Clinton White House, former spokesman for the U.S. House Government Operations Committee, and now president of a Washington issue strategies group.

Weiner along with Richard Bangs, a Senior Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates, point out that Bob Woodward has reported that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, told President Bush two years ago, "The Saudis would cut oil prices to ensure a strong economy for election day." Weiner and Bangs believe, "this prediction has come to fruition."

They contend, "U.S. oil company executives also possess the power to allow the price drops we've seen that may be timed for the election. They have enough room to play-including last year's collective $100 billion in record profits and Exxon Mobil's own near record $10.6 billion profits this past quarter."

US Newswire

It wouldn't take much — a minor adjustment in production, a draw-down of in-country inventories, and the fudging of some inventory numbers. I guess we'll learn a lot more in the next few weeks. The next few months will be even more illuminating:

Energy Information Administration data showed world supply of crude oil has declined to 83.98 million barrels per day in the second quarter after hitting 84.35 million bpd in the fourth quarter of 2005.

"If you basically have another six to ten months of that decline lasting, then I think for certain we would look back and say, 'Guess what? We actually reached a sustainable peak in crude oil production in December 2005,'" Simmons said at a meeting of the United States of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.


Thu, 02 Nov 2006 08:23:33 PST - Link

November 1, 2006

Spiral Staircase

Spiral Staircase

Arc de Triomphe, Paris France. 2006.11.9 Nikon D70s

Wed, 01 Nov 2006 07:32:03 PST - Link

October 29, 2006

A Flashing Red Light On The Dashboard Of The Planet

Scientists have uncovered more evidence for a dramatic weakening in the vast ocean current that gives Britain its relatively balmy climate by dragging warm water northwards from the tropics. The slowdown, which climate modellers have predicted will follow global warming, has been confirmed by the most detailed study yet of ocean flow in the Atlantic.

Most alarmingly, the data reveal that a part of the current, which is usually 60 times more powerful than the Amazon river, came to a temporary halt during November 2004.


Lloyd Keigwin, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, in the US, described the temporary shutdown as "the most abrupt change in the whole [climate] record".

Guardian UK

- Link

October 26, 2006

October 31 Surprise?

The exercise is taking place as the United States and other major powers are considering sanctions including possible interdiction of ships on North Korea, following a reported nuclear test, and on Iran, which has defied a U.N. Security Council mandate to stop enriching uranium.

The exercise, set for Oct. 31, is the 25th to be organized under the U.S.-led 66-member Proliferation Security Initiative and the first to be based in the Gulf near Bahrain, across from Iran, the officials said.

Defense News

Thu, 26 Oct 2006 22:36:10 PDT - Link

October 23, 2006

Foggy Day In San Jose Town


Visibility is under 100 meters this morning.

Mon, 23 Oct 2006 08:08:49 PDT - Link

October 20, 2006

The Dangerous Hours

If Rove is going to pull his October surprise, It's going to be very soon. Even with gerrymandered districts, and The Diebold Advantage™, it's going to take something big to overcome the Foley mess, the news from Iraq, (Shiite Militia Seizes Control of Iraqi City) and the general mood of the nation. Something big, and not good for America.

Fri, 20 Oct 2006 08:44:07 PDT - Link

October 18, 2006

Can We Call It A Civil War Now?

Would it surprise you to learn that if the Johns Hopkins estimates of 400,000 to 800,000 deaths are correct — and many experts in the survey field seem to suggest they probably are — that the supposedly not-yet-civil-war in Iraq has already cost more lives, per capita, than our own Civil War (one in 40 of all Iraqis alive in 2003)? And that these losses are comparable to what some European nations suffered in World War II? You'd never know it from mainstream press coverage in the U.S.

Editor and Publisher

Juan Cole looks into the reports...

The study concludes that an average of 470 Iraqis per day have likely died as a result of political violence since March 19, 2003, though the number could be as low as 350 per day if the margin of error skewed to the low side. United Nations estimates based on figures from Iraqi morgues are more like 100 per day.

I follow the violence in Iraq carefully and daily, and I find the results plausible.

First of all, Iraqi Muslims don't believe in embalming or open casket funerals days later. They believe that the body should be buried by sunset the day of death, in a plain wooden box. So there is no reason to expect them to take the body to the morgue. Although there are benefits to registering with the government for a death certificate, there are also disadvantages. Many families who have had someone killed believe that the government or the Americans were involved, and will have wanted to avoid drawing further attention to themselves by filling out state forms and giving their address.

Juan Cole

It's all over, but the dying.

Wed, 18 Oct 2006 12:30:46 PDT - Link

Same Planet, Different Worlds.

President Bush has begun to paint this year's election as a choice between strength and weakness on national security — and the stark differences will show Americans the true nature of Democrats, Mr. Rove said.

"It is useful to remind people what [Democrats] said and what they do. I think they have given us here, especially in the last couple of weeks, a potent set of votes to talk about. You had 90 percent of House Democrats voting against the terrorist-surveillance program, nearly three-quarters of Senate Democrats and 80 percent of House Democrats voting against the terrorist-interrogation act. Something is fundamentally flawed."

Washington Times

Terrorist-surveillance program? — Oh you must mean that NSA wiretap program that was found to be unconstitutional:

The terrorist surveillance program, Taylor ruled, violates the First Amendment's right to freedom of expression and the Fourth Amendment right to privacy—that is, freedom from unreasonable searches. It also ignores requirements of a 1978 electronic wiretapping law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and represents an overstepping of presidential powers, she wrote.

"There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution," the judge wrote, dismissing the Bush administration's argument that the warrantless program falls within the president's inherent wartime powers as commander in chief.

And that terrorist-interrogation act? It hasn't made its way into the courts — yet — but it doesn't look like that's going to be that popular with the religious voters come November:

During the exact time that the so-called "compromise" on torture was being discussed in Congress, religious leaders gathered in Palo Alto to make their concerns about torture heard loud and clear. Muslims, Jews, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Quakers, Buddhists and others shared prayers of repentance and intercession for our country at this critical time.

As their "Religious Leaders Statement Against Torture" was read, those present who had signed the statement stood in front of the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church. Over 150 religious leaders, local and national, and 17 religious organizations endorsed the statement, "Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable. Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake on this issue."

Mercury News

Surely, this can't be Rove's October surprise —

"Don't vote for Democrats, they're weak on the war on terror because they oppose secret, illegal, unconstitutional wiretaps!"

"Don't vote for Democrats, they're weak on the war on terror because they oppose inhumane, illegal, unAmerican use of torture!"

Wed, 18 Oct 2006 07:59:35 PDT - Link

October 17, 2006

You Have Fewer Freedoms Today - or - The Terrorists Have Won

But the bill also reinforces the presidential claims, made in the Padilla case, that the commander in chief has the right to designate a U.S. citizen on American soil as an enemy combatant and subject him to military justice. Congress is poised to authorized this presidential overreaching. Under existing constitutional doctrine, this show of explicit congressional support would be a key factor that the Supreme Court would consider in assessing the limits of presidential authority.

LA Times

Read literally, this means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant — using whatever criteria they wish — then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to "hostilities" at all.

This definition is not limited to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It's not limited to aliens — it covers U.S. citizens as well. It's not limited to persons captured or detained overseas. And it is not even limited to the armed conflict against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, authorized by Congress on September 18, 2001. Indeed, on the face of it, it's not even limited to a time of war or armed conflict; it could apply in peacetime.

Marty Lederman

So what's next from this mis-administration? A signing statment freeing Bush from the limits of the Twenty Second Amendment?

Keith Olbermann has Something to say about it [youtube]

Tue, 17 Oct 2006 21:23:31 PDT - Link

Do. The. Math.

The world needs 20 times more nuclear power plants to avert an environmental apocalypse that could kill billions of people due to global warming blamed on growing greenhouse gas emissions, a top nuclear advocate said Monday.

International Herald Tribune

Uranium 2005: Resources, Production and Demand, also known as the Red Book, estimates the identified amount of conventional uranium resources which can be mined for less than USD 130/kg, just above the current spot price, to be about 4.7 million tonnes.

Based on the 2004 nuclear electricity generation rate this amount is sufficient for 85 years.

International Atomic Energy Agency

Okay, so we have 85 years of conventional Uranuim, based on 2004 usage rates. What would happen if we magically had 20x as many plants? The conventional uranium resources would last just 4.25 years.

The IAEA goes on to offer some hope:

However, total world uranium resources which could be available at market price are much higher. Based on geological evidence and knowledge of uranium in phosphates, the study estimates that more than 35 million tonnes are available for exploitation.

So 4.7 Millon tonnes equals 85 years at 2004 usage rates. 35 million tonnes would make it 633 years of uranium at 2004 rates. Phew.

One problem - when you build 20x as many nuclear power plants that 633 years shrinks to just 31.65 years. The life expectancy of a nuclear power plant is forty years. You do the math.

The last thing the children of 2037 need is 8,880 obsolete, radioactive, power plants that need to be decomissioned.

Tue, 17 Oct 2006 07:34:37 PDT - Link

October 16, 2006


Maple Leaves

Maple Leaves. 2006.05.19 Nikon D70s f/4.5 1/80S

No reason, just going though some images and I liked this one.

Mon, 16 Oct 2006 22:39:17 PDT - Link

Is There Anybody Out There?

Major SETI Institute Announcement

Details are few, but apparently SETI has detected a message from near the center of the galaxy, while the full translation it not complete, here is a leaked translation of the first paragraphs






Mon, 16 Oct 2006 08:41:27 PDT - Link

October 13, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - Happiness Is A Warm Cat Butt Edition

Miko and Tory.

Miko and Tory. Apparently a brother is an acceptable substitute for a warm monitor.

Fri, 13 Oct 2006 13:52:01 PDT - Link

Wall Street Looks to November

Most economists said the economy would perform best in the coming years if Democrats take control of at least one chamber of Congress. Only 12 of the 35 who answered the question said the economy would perform best under continued Republican control of the House and Senate. The best scenario, the economists said, would be Democratic control of the House only. The economists were almost evenly split over whether the stock market would perform better with a continued Republican lock on Congress or some measure of Democratic control.

Wall Street Journal

Looks like Wall Street has done the math, and they are betting that The Democrats will be picking up the House of Representatives.

Fri, 13 Oct 2006 07:33:20 PDT - Link

October 8, 2006

Spam as Poetry

From an actual spam email — only the formatting was changed.

the fractured tuba player
earns frequent flier miles,
and an insurance agent
toward a line dancer
lazily finds lice
on the inexorably imaginative
movie theater.

Now and then,
a stoic bullfrog
conquers a most difficult
cheese wheel.
A load bearing plaintiff
sweeps the floor,
because a cargo bay recognizes a cashier.

the class action suit
related to a microscope hesitates,
and the familiar senator
accidentally negotiates
a prenuptial agreement
with an avocado pit.

An usually fashionable crank case

Sun, 08 Oct 2006 08:32:46 PDT - Link

October 6, 2006

Friday Rat Blogging - or - "I'm the Ruler!"

To shield FEMA from cronyism, Congress established new job qualifications for the agency's director in last week's homeland security bill. The law says the president must nominate a candidate who has "a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management" and "not less than five years of executive leadership."

Bush signed the homeland-security bill on Wednesday morning. Then, hours later, he issued a signing statement saying he could ignore the new restrictions. Bush maintains that under his interpretation of the Constitution, the FEMA provision interfered with his power to make personnel decisions.


Remember, this law was passed by a Republican Congress and a Republican Senate and this Republican President signed it into law. Then — before the ink was dry — he declared the law null and void.

Bush doesn't want to govern — he wants to rule.

Fri, 06 Oct 2006 08:59:20 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 06 Oct 2006 08:03:35 PDT - Link

October 5, 2006

The No Idiot Left Behind Act of 2006.

Bush is on CNN this morning. I wonder if he ever thinks to apply his own words to his administration. While you read this passage from his speech, please imagine someone (like me) snuck in and secretly replaced the background banner with one that says "War On Terrorism"

Oh, I know people say we take tests too much. But how can you solve a problem until you measure. And how can you hold people to account when there is an achievement gap that isn't right for America unless you measure. Measuring is the gateway to success.

George W. Bush — October 5, 2006

Tell us Bush, How's that measuring going on the War In Terrorism?

The Iraq war has become the "cause célèbre" for Islamic militants, breeding resentment in Muslim nations and cultivating supporters worldwide, according to portions of a secret intelligence study the Bush administration released Tuesday.

The administration report also says that the militant Islamic movement is "spreading and adapting" to counterterrorism efforts and militants are "increasing both in number and geographic dispersion."

Thu, 05 Oct 2006 08:35:09 PDT - Link

October 1, 2006

France Gallery Open


My France Photo Gallery is now open for visitors. 113 of the 1714 images passed the 'somewhat artistic' criteria for display.

I reserve the right to add comments to the image pages over time.

Sun, 01 Oct 2006 14:37:46 PDT - Link

September 30, 2006

Oh, No. Not Again.


Pidgeons. Why Did It Have To Be... Pidgeons.

Sat, 30 Sep 2006 11:05:59 PDT - Link

Who'da Thunk? - or - Turning Back The Clock - or - Building A Bridge To The 11th Century.

The Republicans in congress are busy repealing Habeas Corpus.

You know then I heard about "The New American Century" I didn't think it was going to be the 1200s.

Sat, 30 Sep 2006 10:55:04 PDT - Link

September 29, 2006

Friday Cat Bloging

Cat In Dinan France

Freindly Street Cat in Dinan France — Nikon D70s 2006.09.16

Fri, 29 Sep 2006 08:35:11 PDT - Link

September 28, 2006

Sprott Shotts

Sprott Asset Managemnet Has a compelling report eviscerating the predictions of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. You know CERA, you've seen thier representitives on the news, always claiming that oil will drop back to $38 real soon now™.

Thu, 28 Sep 2006 08:44:12 PDT - Link

September 27, 2006


Mont St. Michel

Mont St. Michel — Nikon D70s 2006.09.15

Still working on the photo gallery, I had to re-do a number of the shots because I'd been editing on an 8 year old CRT monitor, and when I looked at the images on my laptop, they looked overcooked. My desktop LCD monitor came in Monday, (Sorry, Miko, no more sleeping on the monitor) so no more overcooked image corrections.

When I looked through the images on my old monitor I was a bit disappointed at the image quality that I got from the new camera. On the new monitor the images look marvelous — even the ones taken on cloudy days.

Wed, 27 Sep 2006 08:31:27 PDT - Link

September 26, 2006

Why Gas is Really Cheaper - or - Republican Sheep

The Tweak...
So here is what Goldman Sachs did to the GSCI,

Prior to Goldman's revision of the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index in July, unleaded gas accounted for 8.45% (dollar weighting) of the GSCI. Now unleaded gas is only 2.30%.

So What’s Wrong With This?
As Bill King points out,

"Goldman's changes probably induced arbs, commercial hedgers, and other traders to sell September and October unleaded gasoline future contracts to avoid possible (settlement, delivery, etc.) problems.
September futures expired in August; October contracts expire September 29. So unleaded gasoline prices collapsed in August and September."

I would like to "restate" what Mr. King said: What this means folks, is that hedge funds and institutional money that "TRACKS THE INDEX" were FORCED TO SELL 75% of their gasoline futures to conform with the reconstituted GSCI. And if anyone hasn’t noticed the timing of the price of the gasoline price collapse... just in time for November’s Mid Term Elections!

So don’t be fooled into believing that potential energy shortages have "magically been solved." In all likelihood - much of the recent decline in the price of gasoline we have all "welcomed" has been the result of paper tricks being played on what amounts to a wealthy flock of sheep.

Financial Sense

Tue, 26 Sep 2006 07:59:50 PDT - Link

September 25, 2006

As a Kid I Always Wanted To See Another Planet...

"If further global warming reaches 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know. The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3 million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today," Hansen said.


I just didn't think that other planet would be Earth.

Mon, 25 Sep 2006 23:32:48 PDT - Link

Overcome By Splendor

Sleepy in Versailles

I came across these three, deep in sleep, in a splendid hall in Versailles. 2006.09.18

Mon, 25 Sep 2006 08:33:32 PDT - Link

September 24, 2006

Death by Salad

"The information gathered by the Saudis indicates that the head of al Qaeda fell victim, while he was in Pakistan on August 23, 2006, to a very serious case of typhoid that led to a partial paralysis of his internal organs." Raw Story

It wasn't a "water-borne illness'. It was the spinach.

Sun, 24 Sep 2006 09:28:04 PDT - Link

Blowback 2.0

In a related story, it appears that yanking our troops out of Afghanistan (where the whole world was ready to hold the Taliban's arms while we beat the Bin Laden out of them) and using them to destroy the civic infrastructure of Iraq seems to be making us less safe from terrorism.

WASHINGTON A stark assessment of terrorism trends by U.S. intelligence agencies has found that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

International Herald Tribune reprint of NY Times story.

Sun, 24 Sep 2006 09:28:04 PDT - Link


Dog in Dinan

So far, I've filtered down the 1714 photos to 150 candidates for a France photo gallery. The next pass will be with a more critical eye — less travelogue, more art.

As for the dog, he was tied up at the edge of a outdoor cafe in Dinan. The French love their dogs, and take them everywhere. There were dogs on the TGV train. At one point the little cocker poked his nose into the Isle and barked twice. The response from the French passengers was big Oh look. How cute! smiles. He was adorable. The difference is that these are dogs that can be taken anywhere. There are dogs in cafes and restaurants, and they are well behaved, and their owners are good about cleaning up after them. Some of the older guidebooks warned about the dog doo on the sidewalks, but It looks like the public clean-up campaign is working. I also saw two larger dogs being walked with muzzles. When was the last time you saw a muzzle in the USA? When was the last time you saw a dog that could have used a muzzle?

Sun, 24 Sep 2006 08:00:57 PDT - Link

September 22, 2006

That's not an October Surprise, This is an October Surprise!

Daniel wrote to submit that the October surprise might be an attack on Iran. I really, really, really hope he is wrong. He might not be:

The Pentagon's top brass has moved into second-stage contingency planning for a potential military strike on Iran, one senior intelligence official familiar with the plans tells RAW STORY.

The official, who is close to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking officials of each branch of the US military, says the Chiefs have started what is called "branches and sequels" contingency planning.

"The JCS has accepted the inevitable," the intelligence official said, "and is engaged in serious contingency planning to deal with the worst case scenarios that the intelligence community has been painting."

The senior intelligence official who spoke to RAW STORY, along with several military intelligence sources, confirmed that the nuclear option remains on the table. In addition, the senior official added that the Joint Chiefs have "come around on to the administration's thinking."


"Come around on to the administration's thinking"?!?!?! The administration doesn't have thinking — it has faith, and faith is not-thinking.

How will bombing Iran help win the next election for the Republicans? I don't get it. The timing would have to be perfect. It'd have to be very close to the election, so that the electorate would still be blinded by the fog of war. It'd have to be before the price of oil would triple because of a shutdown of the Straits of Hormuz. Maybe I don't get it because I can no more imagine such an attack than I could imagine attacking Iraq for WMDs when there was no evidence for them.

I've got a very bad feeling about this.

P.S. Remember: The JCS never got around to planning for what happend after shock and awe in Iraq.

Fri, 22 Sep 2006 12:49:55 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging

French Cat

Unidentified Cat in Dinan, France. 2006.09.15

Fri, 22 Sep 2006 06:10:46 PDT - Link

Friday Rat Blogging

According to two conservative websites, White House political strategist Karl Rove has been promising GOP insiders that there will be an "October surprise" before the midterm elections.

"In the past week, Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders an 'October surprise' to help win the November congressional elections," reports Ronald Kessler for Newsmax.

Raw Story

The Republicans are speaking with a unified message becease they are only using one brain, and it's between Karl Rove's ears.

Fri, 22 Sep 2006 06:10:46 PDT - Link

September 21, 2006


Britain's leading scientists have challenged the US oil company ExxonMobil to stop funding groups that attempt to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change.

Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial Guardian UK

Exxon's war on science was fought from the very top. Former CEO Lee Raymond was instrumental in directing the company to underwrite bad science.

Now that Lee is retired from Exxon (with his $400,000,000.00 bonus), he's found a new hobby, researching peak oil for the Bush Administration:

The Wall Street Journal is reporting (subscription required) that Lee Raymond, the retired head of Exxon Mobil, will head up a National Petroleum Council (NPC) effort to investigate peak oil claims.

Blue Climate

Fox, meet hen-house.

Facts, meet obfuscation.

Truth, meet oblivion.

Future, meet darkness.

Thu, 21 Sep 2006 12:35:02 PDT - Link


Smart fortwo

Smart ForTwo - Seen on street in Nice France.

We saw a lot of these cute two-seaters in the cities of France, and some were even being used as business vehicles.

Thu, 21 Sep 2006 08:17:55 PDT - Link


8.99:1 — Ratio of US Halloween Budget vs Bush budget for renewable enegry research.

$5,000,000,000 : Amount Americans are expected to spend in 2006 on Halloween candy, decorations, and costumes. Washington Times

$556,000,000 : Funding in Bush's 2007 budget for Plug-in electric vehicles, Geothermal, Hydro power, Wind, Hydrogen, and Biomass research. Boston Globe

Thu, 21 Sep 2006 07:09:17 PDT - Link

September 20, 2006

Pretty as an Airport

Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport

Charles de Gaulle International Airport - Paris, France - 2006.09.06 Nikon N70s

Wed, 20 Sep 2006 05:20:44 PDT - Link

September 19, 2006

Random Thoughts on France

Driving in France is easy. Navigating in France is really, really hard.

In the USA, road signs tell you about the name or number of the road. In France, the road signs point to places names.

The places name the signs point to may be anywhere from 50 meters to 50 KM away.

The roads in France are better maintained, and less crowded.

Drivers in France are more courteous, and drive like professionals.

Gasoil (Diesel) was about € 1.20 / liter. (About USD $5.00/Gal)

We visited Dinan, a medieval walled town in North East Brittany. As we walked through the 13th century streets, I got the distinct feeling that the cars were tourists like us. Dinan was around long before the automobile, and will be around long after the cars are gone.

My Sidekick got 4 bars of coverage and data services almost everywhere.

Data roaming is REALLY expensive. (Over $50.00 per day on some days. Ouch.)

French food, even in inexpensive cafes and brasseries, is outstanding.

French waiters are not rude, they are just really busy. Please don't waste their time.

One waiter chased out the door to thank us for leaving a nice tip.

Look for 'natural tripods'. I took a lot of night-time long exposure photos using railings, columns and posts.

We did not meet one rude person in all of France. I'm a little disappointed. ^_^;

The guy in the seat behind me on the flight home was terribly rude, (My seat back, Sir — is not a trebuchet!) but he waited until we were over England.

The light in Paris near sunset had me itching for a #10 sable, and I don't even paint.

Little known fact: The Notre Dame Archaeological Crypt smells like a cat box.

The Champs-Elysee was a little disappointing. The Boulevard Saint-Germain had better shopping. (Or so Nabiki tells me.)

I did not see a single pickup truck in two weeks France. Tradesmen used panel vans and small trailers.

Back in the USA I passed 5 pickup trucks in the 100 yards between where I parked and the exit of the parking lot.

I saw one(!) Prius in France. The Prius is a big car compared to the average car in the fleet.

Scooters and micro cars (two passenger vehicles) were everywhere in Paris.

There was lots of Motorcycle racing on European Sport TV, but you see more 'super-bikes' on the roads in the USA.

CNN showed some special about the New Orleans Police (after Katrina) over and over again. It made me feel like I came from a third world country.

Tue, 19 Sep 2006 20:47:51 PDT - Link

September 18, 2006

Well, We're back.

Nice, France

View of the beach in Nice, France. [Google maps]

One of 1714 Pictures I took in the last two weeks in France.

I'll be putting together a gallery of the best shots over the next few weeks, in the meantime, I've got to put some notes together on the wonderful — and occasionally baffling — experience.

Finally, some new content for the site. Sorry, I didn't do any writing on the trip, but Nabiki was with us at every stop, she may have something to say about the trip...)

Mon, 18 Sep 2006 17:28:18 PDT - Link

September 4, 2006

More Late Fees


I loaned some Rurioni Kenshin DVDs to David and told him of my "late fees" policy. He returned the DVDs in plenty of time, but was inspired to produce an original artwork anyway. Jeez, he's good. I'm not worthy.

Mon, 04 Sep 2006 21:56:12 PDT - Link

September 4, 2006

Facts? We Don't Need No steenkin' Facts!

"Nuclear power is safe and nuclear power is clean and nuclear power is renewable," the president said.


Renewable? I don't think so, and neither does the US Army Corps of Engineers:

Estimated domestic uranium deposits are 225 million pounds at $30/lb and about 760 million pounds at $50/lb. U.S. consumption is about 54 million pounds per year with large amounts currently imported. Worldwide resources are estimated at 5,000 million pounds at $30/lb and 6,500 million pounds at $50/lb. About 31 percent of the low cost reserves are located in Canada. Annual worldwide requirements range from 121 to 175 million pounds per year (WEC 2001). Assuming an annual usage of about 150 million pounds per year, this equates to about a 33 to 43 year supply at current consumption rates. Here again, since uranium is a non-renewable natural resource, it supply will eventually reach a peak and trend downward. However, there is no shortage of world capacity to supply uranium at this time. Development of new plants is growing very slowly, with much nuclear power generating capacity projected to shutdown over the mid term. — [Emphasis Added]

Mon, 04 Sep 2006 18:24:20 PDT - Link

September 1, 2006

Bloomberg Discovers Peak Oil

Proponents of this controversial idea say global oil production is now at or near its zenith. Once the flow crests and starts to decline — and some geologists say it already has — oil will no longer be able to slake the world's growing thirst for energy. The result will be the oil shock to end all oil shocks. The price of a barrel of crude will spiral to $200 — and keep rising. To the peaksters, today's energy crunch is nothing next to the pain that will follow.


Not bad for a mainstream article, but I get the feeling that it's the first in a series, breaking the news slowly, as it were.

The good thing about these mainstream articals is that they help to spread the news far beyond their own pages or website. This article was picked up by Fark.com which has a very different audience than Bloomberg. I was particularly impressed by one of the comments on the forum:

It is always the same in the "Peak Oil" threads.
Let me just say there a some things to consider:

1. It doesn't matter how much petroleum exists in the Earth's crust, what matters is how much of it is physically recoverable.

2. All the money in the world cannot change the laws of physics.

3. Technology is not energy. Technology does not make energey, energy makes technology.

4. The belief that technology will solve energy scarcity is religion, not rationality.

5. Abiotic oil theory is nonsense.

6. The current global industrial organizational/transportation paradigm is not sustainable in the coming petroleum-scarcity environment.

7. "Alternative energy sources" cannot sustain the current paradigm.

Industrial civilization need not collapse in the absence of cheap and plentiful petroleum, but rearranging the physical layout of our industrial societies will be necessary. Rethinking priorities and expectations will be necessary. Altering your lifestyle will be necessary.

2006-09-01 10:28:26 AM canyoneer

'Canyoneer' has clearly spent more time on the issue than the author of the Bloomberg piece.

Fri, 01 Sep 2006 07:54:40 PDT - Link

August 31, 2006

Life Goes On

Portland Bridge

Bridge in Portland, Oregon — June 16, 2001

Just going through some old photos, and this one called out for a little Photoshop manipulation.

It feels good to do mindless stuff — messing with photos, sorting DVDs, going though a stack of junk mail, cleaning my office. Somehow, sorting things helps. I keep finding photos and artifacts that have good memories attatched.

Thu, 31 Aug 2006 20:42:27 PDT - Link

August 30, 2006

Jean Palmer 1924-2006

Jean Palmer

My mother passed away this morning. I took this picture of her over Christmas '05. She was a particularly great human being — funny, informed, and comfortable.

Bye mom. I love you.

Wed, 30 Aug 2006 21:52:39 PDT - Link

August 29, 2006

Reality Soaks In

The American auto industry conceded today that all of the planning, model design, marketing, and investing it has done over the past two decades will have to be junked, because gasoline is going to remain at $3 or $4 a gallon for the foreseeable future.

Huffington Post (With links to NY Times)

About time, Detroit. I'm getting better than 52 MPG this week in my Prius. That's the bar Not 30. Not 40. More. Than. Fifty. That's the goal.

I'll bet the engineers of Detroit are sick of 'freshening' the '80s technology SUVs with more chrome and gadgets. They're ready to step up. They're ready to build the future generation of electic cars. We're going to need them.

Tue, 29 Aug 2006 21:28:32 PDT - Link

August 25, 2006

TD5 Blogging


Crown Weather collects the interesting maps and forcasts for the weather for tropcal weather.

Oil is up about USD $0.93 to 73.30, and Natural gas is up USD $0.39 to 7.47 because of tropical depression 5. The models show it entering the southern Gulf Of Mexico, which is a little warmer than usual.

Hold on to your hats, and if you're the praying type, make sure to ask for some wind shear.

Update: Weather Underground has an even better tropical storm page.

Fri, 25 Aug 2006 08:46:53 PDT - Link

August 19, 2006

Saturday Natural Gas Blogging

Natural Gas Forecasts

APSO 2006 — Robert Hirsch

This image is from a presentation at the Association of the Study of Peak Oil conference in Pisa. It's striking when taken in a historical context.

Back in 2002, the US department of energy was forecasting a rapidly growing supply of natural gas, so of course industry responded by building gas fired power plants. Just two years later (about the time it takes to build such a plant) the forecast didn't look so good. Two years on and the forecast is downright gloomy. It'll be interesting to see where the 2007 forecast falls.

Remember this chart the next time someone tells you not to worry about Peak Oil because of EIA (or some other governmental agency) forecasts. Those forecasts can change, and can change fast.

P.S. Robert Hirsch should be a familiar name to readers of my blog, he's the author of: Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management AKA the Hirsch report.

- Link

August 12, 2006

Saturday Cat Blogging

isbn in the store window

Every used bookstore needs a cat.

Sat, 12 Aug 2006 08:40:01 PDT - Link

August 7, 2006

The Constitution in Crisis

We The People

While the mainstram media had plenty of time to talk about Floyd Landis this weekend, the "Final Investigative Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff" got very little ink or airtime. Here's a excerpt:

The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception,Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War, and Illegal Domestic Surveillance

In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice-President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration; and approved domestic surveillance that is both illegal and unconstitutional. As further detailed in the Report, there is evidence that these actions violate a number of federal laws, including:

• Making False Statements to Congress, for example, saying you have learned Iraq is attempting to buy uranium from Niger, when you have been warned by the CIA that this is not the case.

•The War Powers Resolution and Misuse of Government Funds, for example, redeploying troops and initiating bombing raids before receiving congressional authorization.

•Federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, for example, ordering detainees to be ghosted and removed, and tolerating and laying the legal ground work for their torture and mistreatment.

• Federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals, for example, demoting Bunnatine Greenhouse, the chief contracting officer at the Army Corps of Engineers, because she exposed contracting abuses involving Halliburton.

• Federal requirements concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence, for example, failing to enforce the executive order requiring disciplining those who leak classified information, whether intentional or not.

• Federal regulations and ethical requirements governing conflicts of interest, for example, then Attorney General John Aschcroft's being personally briefed on FBI interviews concerning possible misconduct by Karl Rove even though Mr. Rove had previously received nearly $750,000 in fees for political work on Mr. Ashcroft's campaigns.

• Violating FISA and the Fourth Amendment, for example intercepting thousands of communications "to or from any person within the United States," without obtaining a warrant.

• The Stored Communications Act of 1986 and the Communications Act of 1934, for example, obtaining millions of U.S. customer telephone records without obtaining a subpoena or warrant, without customer consent, and outside of any applicable "emergency exceptions."

• The National Security Act, for example, failing to keep all Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees :"fully and currently informed" of intelligence activities, such as the warrantless surveillance programs.

Mon, 07 Aug 2006 08:44:22 PDT - Link

August 3, 2006

Oil Production vs. Price


This chart from Oil CEO has some striking features.

First, Production (Purple lines, revised and 13 month smoothed) has seen two two-year production slumps ('88-'89, '01-02). They each look like "The Peak" had been reached, don't they.

Second, Each of those two slumps were preceded by a drop in price, a clear demonstration of demand and supply.

Third, production is slumping again, but this time the slump is in the face of clear upward momentum in price. I'm no economist, but the last two years looks like price trying to reduce demand to the available supply.

Thu, 03 Aug 2006 09:12:53 PDT - Link

Cantarell in Steep Decline

Mexican crude oil output at Cantarell, the world's second-largest field, fell faster than expected in June to a four-year low, signaling the government will miss production targets.

The field, which accounts for about half of Mexico's crude production, yielded 1.74 million barrels a day in June, 13 percent less than a year ago and the least since November 2001, according to data on the Energy Ministry's web site. Cantarell is the world's No. 2 field by output and Mexico's biggest.

Production is falling faster than the government anticipated, worsening the outlook for Mexican crude exports and public finances. Petroleos Mexicanos, the state oil monopoly, forecast Cantarell output would decline 6 percent this year to average 1.9 million barrels per day.


That's it. The worlds #2 feild has peaked, and it was pushed over the peak by the the most modern, high tech extraction techniques. That's it. There are no other tricks to try. Cantarell will never again produce more oil than it did last year.

Thu, 03 Aug 2006 08:41:51 PDT - Link

Three - Point - Five - Trillion - Dollars

The set the government doesn't talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government's accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.

USA Today

Thu, 03 Aug 2006 08:28:31 PDT - Link

July 30, 2006

A Day at the Races

San Jose Grand Prix

Last year we saw a few pit stops up close, but only the top 3" of the airboxes whizing by on the main track.

This year we got seats in the hairpin, and the view is spectacular!

Sun, 30 Jul 2006 10:00:23 PDT - Link

July 29, 2006

What part of NO! don't you understand?

WASHINGTON - U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill. A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the Pentagon's tribunal system, established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last month by the Supreme Court.

Yahoo News

Sat, 29 Jul 2006 10:26:22 PDT - Link

July 27, 2006

The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream

Now available for viewing on Google Video

Thu, 27 Jul 2006 22:20:31 PDT - Link

A Portrait Of A Home As An ATM, - or - The Millenium Debt

GDP/MEW Charrt

Wander on over to Caculated Risk to view the carnage. The Bush economy doesn't look so hot when you take Mortgage Equity Withdrawals into account.

Thu, 27 Jul 2006 19:56:52 PDT - Link

July 22, 2006

Short Term Thinking - or - Why Does Bush Hate Your Children?

This morning brings the news that the Bush administration has quietly changed the mission statement of NASA — removing the key phrase "to understand and protect our home planet".

Since the NY Times is behind a paywall, I searched Google News and eventually followed the breadcrumbs to this June 9th, 2006 Boston Globe article:

NASA shelves climate satellites

The changes come as NASA prioritizes its budget to pay for completion of the International Space Station and the return of astronauts to the moon by 2020 — a goal set by President Bush that promises a more distant and arguably less practical scientific payoff. Ultimately, scientists say, the delays and cancellations could make hurricane predictions less accurate, create gaps in long-term monitoring of weather, and result in less clarity about the earth's hydrological systems, which play an integral part in climate change. Boston.com

I really can't understand an administration who calls for more research into climate change — then cuts budgets and changes the mission of the one governmental agency that is best equipped to do that research.

Your kids, and their kids, and so on, are going to need this planet, you know.

Sat, 22 Jul 2006 10:10:53 PDT - Link

July 17, 2006

Best. Lecture. Ever.

In the summer of 1986 the news reports indicated that the world population had reached the number of five billion people growing at the rate of 1.7% per year. Well your reaction to 1.7% might be to say that that's so small nothing bad could ever happen at 1.7% per year. So you calculate the doubling time you find its only 41 years, now that was back in 1986, more recently in 1999 we read that the world population had grown from five billion to six billion . The good news is that the growth rate had dropped from 1.7% to 1.3% per cent per year. The bad news is that in spite of the drop in the growth rate, the world population today is increasing by about 75 million additional people every year.

Now, if this current modest 1.3% per year could continue, the world population would grow to a density of one person per square meter on the dry land surface of the earth in just seven hundred and eighty years and then the mass of people would equal the mass of the earth in just twenty four hundred years. [ephasis added]

Dr. Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy Global Public Media

Dr. Bartlett has given this fasinating presentation to over 1000 audiences. Available on Global Public Media in Real Video, .mp3 and .ram audio, and a text transcript.

Viewing this presentation can change the way you look at the world.

Mon, 17 Jul 2006 08:27:01 PDT - Link

July 15, 2006

Saturday Cat Blogging Miko

Miko, on red office chair. (Another in the series of Palmer cats on red office chairs)

Sat, 15 Jul 2006 10:49:19 PDT - Link

July 13, 2006

Clinton At Aspen Ideas

"To the best of my knowledge I never had a security briefing which said what some of these very serious but conservative petroleum geologists say, which is that they think that either now or before the decade is out that we'll reach peak oil production globally ... This needs much more serious debate. It's almost not discussed at all in the mainstream media."

Energy Bulletin

A link to the audio [Realplayer] is provided. I've heard that conference audio will be posted to the Aspen Institute site

Thu, 13 Jul 2006 21:40:03 PDT - Link

Happy Double Daniel Yergin Day!

Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) suggested in November of '04 that in a year Oil would be selling for $USD 38/bl. He missed that prediction, and today, some 8 months after his target date, Oil has reached $USD 76.40 twice his predicted price.

Yergin is the go-to guy for the main stream media, the guy they call to be on the air to claim that Peak oil is decades away.

Here's what westexas, an independent geologist had to say about today's milestone:

In my opinion, Mr. Yergin serves as an excellent symbol of the major oil company/major oil exporter/energy analyst group. And since oil prices are now trading at close to $76 per barrel—twice Mr. Yergin's prediction—I hereby designate July 13, 2006 as "Daniel Yergin Day," in honor of Mr. Yergin's continued efforts to, in effect, persuade Americans to continue driving large debt financed vehicles, on large commutes to and from large mortgages.

One of the little ironies about the Peak Oil debate is that it is those who are trying their best to warn Americans about the dangers posed by Peak Oil—-Matt Simmons; Colin Campbell; Kenneth Deffeyes; Boone Pickens, Jim Kunstler etc.—who are most often blamed for rising oil prices. I think that it is just the opposite. It seems logical to me that those who are asserting that we have plentiful supplies of oil are doing far more to encourage consumption—and thus higher oil prices—than those who are asserting that we have problems with oil supplies.

If you believe Matt Simmons, et al, about the future direction of energy prices, you will drastically reduce your overall consumption, especially your energy consumption, by living in a small energy efficient home, close to where you work—which would ideally allow you to walk or take mass transit to work, or at least result in a short commute.

In my opinion, it is those who are telling us that Peak Oil is decades away—such as ExxonMobil, Opec and Yergin—who are most responsible for, in effect, encouraging Americans to continue driving $50,000 SUV's on 50 mile roundtrips to and from $500,000 mortgages in the suburbs.

westexas — in The Oil Drum comments

Thu, 13 Jul 2006 09:03:30 PDT - Link

July 12, 2006

Look Back In Anger

Narration: What would happen if the world started running out of oil?

Jeremy Leggett: It’s going to be very difficult to get gasoline for transport. Food is not going to be getting through in enough quantities to the shops, Narration: Conventional wisdom says that’s at least 30 years away.

So why does a growing group of petroleum experts believe it’s coming within three?

Eric Streitberg: Ah. I think it’s happening now frankly.

Peter Newman: It gives me nightmares when I think about what we’re headed for.

Narration: Are they just scaremongerers or have the rest of us been asleep at the wheel. Are we about to hit the real oil crisis?

Jeremy Leggett: Really when the crisis dawns I think people are going to be looking back in anger. How have we allowed ourselves to get into this mess?

From the Catalyst documentary (ABC Australia) Real Oil Crisis [12:49 Windows Media or Real]

Oil is at $USD 74.45 just now.

Wed, 12 Jul 2006 07:57:58 PDT - Link

July 11, 2006

The Thermodynamics Of An Air Car

The results indicate that both sides are correct. At 20°C a 300 Liter tank filled with air at 300 bar carries 51 MJ of energy. Under ideal reversible isothermalconditions, this energy could be entirely converted to mechanical work. However, even under isentropic conditions (no heat is exchanged with the environment or generated by internal friction) not more than 25 MJ become useful. By multi-stage expansion with inter-stage heating the expansion process is brought closer to the isothermal ideal.

Thermodynamic Analysis of Compressed Air Vehicle Propulsion

Unfortunately the article doesn't convert megajoules to miles.

A quick Google search finds that a gallon of gasoline contains about 132 megajoules of energy. Ouch. 300 liters of compressed air contains less energy than a half a gallon of gas. However, since most of the energy of gasoline is lost before it gets to the wheels, we can perhaps derate gasoline to around 18 MJ/G. That looks a little better, 300 liters is closer to 2.8 gallons. My Prius gets over 50 MPG (53.4 this tank) so that's 140 miles between fill-ups. That's one week's commute for me.

Unfortunately, we should derate that 52 MJ as well. We won't be losing power to heat the radiator — 62% of the loss in an internal combustion engine — but there will be other losses. Just guessing, let's call it 50%. That's about 70 miles on a 'fill-up', for a 4-passenger car in the Prius class. An ultra-light commuter car might be able to double that.

It looks like compressed air is still in the running. I wonder if a hybrid system would help as well, using a multi-stage Tesla turbine connected to a generator to keep a small battery system topped up.

Tue, 11 Jul 2006 21:02:46 PDT - Link

We Have 60 Years Of Uranium Left - Do We Really Want To Build More Nuclear Power Plants?

A new generation of nuclear reactors will increase demand for uranium ore to produce reactor fuel. In 2005 the world nuclear fleet consumed about 68,000 tonnes of natural uranium, mostly frommined sources. At the end of 2005 the world known recoverable uranium resources amounted to about 3.6 million tonnes (t). These resources show a wide variation in ore grade and accessibility. Understanding this variation is essential for assessing nuclear energy security.

Uranium ore is not an energy resource unless the ore grade is high enough. Below grade 0.02% (U3O8 Uranium Oxide) more energy is required to produce and exploit the uranium fuel than can be generated from it. Falling ore grade leads to rapidly rising CO2 emissions from the nuclear energy cycle. Assuming world nuclear generating capacity remains at 2005 levels, after about 2016 the mean grade of uranium ore will fall significantly from today’s levels, and even more so after 2034. After about 60 years the world nuclear power system will fall off the 'Energy Cliff' - meaning that the nuclear system will consume as much energy as can be generated from the uranium fuel. Whether large and rich new uranium ore deposits will be found or not is unknown.

Oxford Research Group Factsheet 4 Energy Security and Uranium Reserves

The factsheet is extracted from the full technical paper: Energy from Uranium from the Oxford Research Group

The study appears to refer to the recent call for (ten) more nuclear power plants in the UK. The 60-year timetable appears to assume 2005 rates of use, (for 441 working reactors) and does not make allowance for increased demand for uranium that would result if other nations decided to build more plants at the same time.

The main lesson here is that nuclear power is also a limited resource*, and that in 100 years we will not have enough energy-positive ore to use it for power generation.

* The full technical report has this to say about breeder reactors:

Fifty years of intensive research in seven countries (USA, UK, France, Germany, former USSR now Russia, Japan and India), with investments of many of tens of billions of dollars so far have failed to demonstrate that the breeder cycle is technically feasible (see Appendix A). Even if the breeder cycle starts working flawlessly next year, the share of breeder power could become significant only at the end of this century.

The MIT 20031 study The Future of Nuclear Power [Q280], does not expect breeders (in effect the breeder cycle) to come into operation during the next three decades. The MIT study concluded that for the next three decades, and probably beyond, nuclear energy generation has to rely on thermal-neutron reactors, mainly LWRs, in the once-through mode. In the once-through mode no uranium and plutonium is recycled, consequently spent fuel is not reprocessed. The authors of MIT considered the proliferation and safety risks of reprocessing and the use of MOX fuel unjustified. But there are also economic reasons not to recycle.

Tue, 11 Jul 2006 12:30:17 PDT - Link

July 10, 2006

The Peak Down Under

From ABC Australia, a superb Four Corners documentary on Peak Oil.

Mon, 10 Jul 2006 21:43:40 PDT - Link

Business As Usual - or - How Long Can You Tread Water?

The business-as-usual scenario yields an increase of about five degrees Fahrenheit of global warming during this century, while the alternative scenario yields an increase of less than two degrees Fahrenheit during the same period.


How much will sea level rise with five degrees of global warming? Here too, our best information comes from the Earth's history. The last time that the Earth was five degrees warmer was three million years ago, when sea level was about eighty feet higher. [Emp. added — J.]

Eighty feet! In that case, the United States would lose most East Coast cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Miami; indeed, practically the entire state of Florida would be under water. Fifty million people in the US live below that sea level. Other places would fare worse. China would have 250 million displaced persons. Bangladesh would produce 120 million refugees, practically the entire nation. India would lose the land of 150 million people.

The Threat to the Planet — Jim Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

I'd linked to a pdf of this earlier, the HTML version is far easier to read on a screen.

Mon, 10 Jul 2006 08:35:50 PDT - Link

July 6, 2006

Richard Dawkins takes on Faith

In this two-part Channel 4 series, Professor Richard Dawkins challenges what he describes as 'a process of non-thinking called faith'.

The Root Of All Evil Google Video

Thu, 06 Jul 2006 22:56:54 PDT - Link

Richard Heinberg takes on Greg Palast

Greg Palast's new book Armed Madhouse took a few swipes at the theory behind peak oil, and thse who examine the data. Richard Heinberg, author of Powerdown, replied with an open letter

On page 108 you pretend to summarize Hubbert’s 1956 world forecast for global oil production as follows:

Sometime during 2006, we will have used up every last drop of crude oil on the planet. We’re not talking "decline" in oil from a production "peak," we’re talking "culmination," completely gone, kaput, dead out of crude—and not enough natural gas left to roast a weenie.

But "Decline" and "peak" are precisely what Hubbert was forecasting—and not in 2006, but around the year 2000, as shown in the graph you reproduce on page 111. How could you possibly get the essential terms of the debate so plainly wrong? Frankly, I’m amazed. Maybe you got hung up on the word culmination (which, among other things, means "the highest point achieved by a celestial object in the night sky before it begins its descent"—a good metaphorical usage of the term in this instance). But even so, how could you have completely missed the context in which Hubbert used that word—a discussion that was entirely about "decline" and "peak"?

Thu, 06 Jul 2006 08:37:42 PDT - Link

July 1, 2006

Passivhaus Institut

The Passivhaus Institut has some great information on building high-efficiency homes. (German & English)

I want my next house to be as efficient as my Prius. Most of the houses around here fall into one of two categories. The new houses are built like SUVs — huge with loads of fancy accessories but efficiency is the bare minimum by law. The older houses are like older cars. Many have great curb appeal, but 'under the hood' they're obsolete.

Sat, 01 Jul 2006 08:57:55 PDT - Link

June 30, 2006

We've Driven To Edge Of The Cliff, And There's Still Half A Tank Left!

Do you believe, as some predict, that we are going to run out of oil within fifty years?

It's a sophisticated debate between the geologists on one side and the economists on the other. But the debate over oil reserves misses the point. We have more than enough oil, not to mention coal, to completely destroy the habitability of the planet. The real constraint on oil and coal is not supply, but global warming. There's a saying: "The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones. And the Age of Fossil Fuels won't end because we run out of fossil fuels."

Rolling Stone interview with Al Gore

Fri, 30 Jun 2006 08:30:54 PDT - Link

June 29, 2006

Born of American Ingenuity, Died of American Management

Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. is backing away from his much-publicized commitment to produce 250,000 hybrid vehicles a year by the end of the decade, saying the company intends to pursue a broader environmental strategy that focuses more on other alternative-fuel vehicles.

Detroit News

Ford doesn't realize that we've already hit the iceberg* [.pdf] and there will be no room in the lifeboats for SUVs.

*These slides are from a presentation By Oil Industry Investment Banker Matt Simmons to Department of Defense, June 20, 2006

Thu, 29 Jun 2006 20:09:02 PDT - Link

June 28, 2006

No Surface Noise Now - Not Much To Say

Tonight's video - It's a mistake by Men at Work [youtube]

I really must work up an acoustic version of that song.

Wed, 28 Jun 2006 22:58:27 PDT - Link


Florida after 20 feet of sea leveel rise

Jim Hansen of NASA placed these side my side images of Florida at the top of his The Threat To The Planet Report [pdf]

It's no big deal for me to move my web service to higher ground — Say Colorado, but a quick look at Google Maps shows threre's a lot of other things (like, say Miami) that will be a lot harder to move.

Please ask every Republican you meet if flag burining is really more important than global warming.

Wed, 28 Jun 2006 12:50:41 PDT - Link

June 25, 2006

Survey says: That's Not Funny.

Q: Why is Bush ignoring the overwhelming evidence of climate change from the Arctic and the Antarctic?
A: Because Bush doesn't make decisions based on poles.

The ice is so massive that its weight presses the bedrock of Greenland below sea level, so all-concealing that not until recently did scientists discover that Greenland actually might be three islands.

Should all of the ice sheet ever thaw, the meltwater could raise sea level 21 feet and swamp the world's coastal cities, home to a billion people. It would cause higher tides, generate more powerful storm surges and, by altering ocean currents, drastically disrupt the global climate.

Climate experts have started to worry that the ice cap is disappearing in ways that computer models had not predicted.

By all accounts, the glaciers of Greenland are melting twice as fast as they were five years ago, even as the ice sheets of Antarctica — the world's largest reservoir of fresh water — also are shrinking, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Kansas reported in February.

Greenland's Ice Sheet Is Slip-Sliding Away LA Times

Sun, 25 Jun 2006 08:52:55 PDT - Link

June 24, 2006

Free Today

The Al Gore interview with Charlie Rose can be viewed for free today thanks to the sponsorship of Hewlett Packard. Thanks HP!

If you've ever wondered why we at war in Iraq, watch this show (starts at about 30 Minutes in.)

I think it also lays to bed, once and for all, the false notion that a Gore administration would have gone into Iraq after 9/11.

Sat, 24 Jun 2006 07:46:25 PDT - Link

June 23, 2006

A Terrifying Message from Al Gore

- YouTube -

Fri, 23 Jun 2006 20:09:25 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory James

Tory James in profile - Nikon D70s

Fri, 23 Jun 2006 08:42:40 PDT - Link

June 22, 2006

William Jefferson Clinton Discovers Peak Oil

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton has urged newspaper editors to focus more attention on the depletion of the world's oil reserves. In a June 17 speech to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, Clinton said a "significant number of petroleum geologists" have warned that the world could be nearing the peak in oil production.

The Deep Intelligence Index

More coverage from Association of Alternative Newsweeklies

Thu, 22 Jun 2006 21:17:23 PDT - Link

June 20, 2006

Al Gore on Charlie Rose

Google Video has a free "low rez" preview, with the option to purchase a high quality copy.

31:08 Cheney — made speeches — in which he said the coming of Peak Oil — he may not have used the phrase — but the coming strategic competition for oil reserves means that the United States of America has to find a way to secure a strategically dominant position in influencing the future of the Persian gulf reserves. And he made speeches on that long before he became vice president. And I do think, Charlie, that that is the connection between the global warming crisis, the climate crisis and the strategic error that has us bogged down in Iraq.

Look at the overall pattern. We are borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the most unstable region on the planet to bring it here and burn it in ways that destroy the habitability of the planet.

This is a dysfunctional pattern. Every component of which has to be changed. And can be change only when we look at the overall pattern.

Gore goes on to explore the origins of the Iraq war which is the first explanation that fits every fact. (Warning to MSM, his explanation takes longer than a 10 second sound bite, and it's probably the first time we've heard the truth on this.)

I have to admit that I've given some passing thought to becoming one of the 1000. I think I'd be good at it.

Tue, 20 Jun 2006 08:04:59 PDT - Link

June 19, 2006

Sidekick 3 Released

Sidekick 3

Gizmodo and Engadget have the story.

I mention it here because I did the first revision of the PCB design when I worked at Danger. There's a story behind that, but you won't see it here, or get it from me in person without a bottle of single malt that's old enough to vote.

I probably won't upgrade soon, since I have more design DNA in the Sidekick II, but I might change my mind if I can replace the T-Mobile graphics with the original (genki) Danger Girl. I miss her. {sniffle}

(Photo: T-Mobile/Engadget)

Mon, 19 Jun 2006 22:26:07 PDT - Link

June 12, 2006

I Smell A Rat.

CHICAGO — More than 130 wind turbines are proposed for the hilltops of central Wisconsin, but that project and at least 11 others have been halted by the Defense Department as it studies whether the projects could interfere with military radar.

Wind farm developers, Midwestern legislators and environmentalists say the farms pose no risk, noting that there are already numerous wind farms operating in military radar areas. They say a renewable, domestic source of energy such as wind is crucial to energy security and independence.

Washington Post

Mon, 12 Jun 2006 21:36:36 PDT - Link

I smell Another Rat

NASA is canceling or delaying a number of satellites designed to give scientists critical information on the earth's changing climate and environment.

The space agency has shelved a $200 million satellite mission headed by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor that was designed to measure soil moisture — a key factor in helping scientists understand the impact of global warming and predict droughts and floods. The Deep Space Climate Observatory, intended to observe climate factors such as solar radiation, ozone, clouds, and water vapor more comprehensively than existing satellites, also has been canceled.


Mon, 12 Jun 2006 21:36:36 PDT - Link

Point - Counterpoint

A few months back, Reason magazine published an article claiming that the peak in oil production is a generation away.

The good news is that peak oil doomsters are probably wrong that world oil production is about to decline forever. Most analysts believe that world petroleum supplies will meet projected demand at reasonable prices for at least another generation.

Ronald Bailey: Has oil peaked?: Not yet
Reprinted in the Dallas News, June 11, 2006.

Phew! I guess I can trade my Prius for a Hummer now. But wait —

Another example is the North Sea oil fields, where production has been falling steadily since peaking in 1999 at 52 percent of total recoverable reserves. North Sea oil production is now about one-fourth below its peak. The HL formula would have foreseen this, but the 10 major oil companies working the North Sea fields did not.

Using the best engineers and technology available, they predicted just before what we now know was the peak in 1999 that North Sea production would peak around 2010. They were badly mistaken, but many of these same companies are now saying that world peak oil production is decades away.

Jeffrey J. Brown: Has oil peaked?: Yes
Also in the Dallas News, June 11, 2006.

The point is this: from either point of view, this is a serious problem, and we must act today.

Oh, and have you seen An Inconvenient truth yet" You should. And you should watch Al Gore on Larry King Live tomorrow night. Your Tivo can help you save the world.

Mon, 12 Jun 2006 08:40:26 PDT - Link

June 8, 2006




AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH is most important movie ever made. You owe it to yourself and everyone you love to go see it.

- Link

June 8, 2006

Total Discovers Peak Oil

AMSTERDAM, June 7 (Reuters) - France's Total estimates global oil production will peak around 2020 if output growth continues at current levels and has advised governments to cool demand to avoid a supply crunch, its chief executive said.

"The capacity of raising (oil) production is a real challenge ... if we stay with this type of production growth our impression is that peak production could be reached around 2020," Thierry Desmarest told the World Gas Conference in Amsterdam on Wednesday.


Well. now I feel better.

2020 sounds SO far away doesn't it. And this is from a major oil company. Wow. they give is a whole 14 years before the peak.

That estimate leaves us about halfway between 10 and 20 years. Let's have a look at what

The Hirsch Report has to say about this time frame.

Initiating a mitigation crash program 10 years before world oil peaking helps considerably but still leaves a liquid fuels shortfall roughly a decade after the time that oil would have peaked.

Initiating a mitigation crash program 20 years before peaking appears to offer the possibility of avoiding a world liquid fuels shortfall for the forecast period.

The time for action is now, assuming Total is right about the peak being 14 years away. But then again, there is good data to suggest that peak oil is probably about now.

Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.

The Hirsch Report

Thu, 08 Jun 2006 08:05:44 PDT - Link

June 5, 2006

Monday Cat Blogging*


Miko - Nikon D70s

* Because my sister said if I don't have pictures of cats, then no one will read my blog.

She was kidding.

I think.

Mon, 05 Jun 2006 12:43:05 PDT - Link

June 4, 2006

The E85 Loophole

At first I thought this comment at The Oil Drum couldn't be true:

(2)Car & Driver did a test run of a 2007 Chevy Tahoe and showed it got 30% worse mileage with E85 than regular gasoline - a number in line with the 31.5% decrement of another SUV by cars.com. Why then are we being bombarded with TV ads for flex-fuel SUVs by the Big Three? For CAFE purposes, the Feds only count the 15% of gasoline content of E85, magically producing a seven-fold increase in E85 mpg.

The official CAFE number is an average of the inflated E85 number and the 100% gasoline number. C&D [Car & Driver] calculates that the flex-fuel Tahoe's CAFE rating jumped from the 20.1 mpg to 33.3 mpg, blowing through the 22.2 CAFE mandate. They did some calculations showing that the E85 loophole saved GM more than $200 million in CAFE fines.

With ethanol production "by law" (the Energy Policy Act of 2005) cranking to 7.5 billion gallons in 2012, and SUV CAFE fuel economy magically improved 66% (despite the fact E85 results in a 30% decrease in mpg)we now understand the ad blitz. Perchance (yet another) government conspiracy to benumb the public and keep the life blood of the US auto industry alive-and-cranking with the beloved SUV?

chainsaw4wood in the Oil Drum Comments. [Empahsis added]

But a quick session with Google confirmed the story:

The loophole works this way: A dual-fuel vehicle that can run on either gasoline or 85 percent ethanol, or E85, is credited with a much higher mileage rating than it really gets. That keeps the overall mileage of the cars and trucks that a company like Ford or General Motors makes in any given year within the government's mileage limits.

Des Moines Register

Well, that explains it. The E85 Loophole allows GM and Ford to build SUVs with WORSE CAFE standard mileage. That's why they are pushing E85, and leads to comments like this:

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner said in an interview last week that the automaker needs to compete in the hybrid market for “image reasons,” and would rather see a focus on ethanol, and later, hydrogen fuel. He said it’s not clear how much further hybrid sales will grow, but there’s certainly a “natural limit” to demand for the vehicles.

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz made similar comments in an interview in March. Speaking with CNN reporter Frank Sesno, Lutz said, “We think running the nation on E85 makes more sense than all the hybrids in the world.”


A more truthful statement from Mr. Lutz would be: "We think running the nation on E85 makes more dollars for GM than all the hybrids in the world."

Sun, 04 Jun 2006 08:35:17 PDT - Link

June 2, 2006

Crime Of The Century

The evidence is especially strong in Ohio. In January, a team of mathematicians from the National Election Data Archive, a nonpartisan watchdog group, compared the state's exit polls against the certified vote count in each of the forty-nine precincts polled by Edison/Mitofsky. In twenty-two of those precincts — nearly half of those polled — they discovered results that differed widely from the official tally. Once again — against all odds — the widespread discrepancies were stacked massively in Bush's favor: In only two of the suspect twenty-two precincts did the disparity benefit Kerry. The wildest discrepancy came from the precinct Mitofsky numbered ''27,'' in order to protect the anonymity of those surveyed. According to the exit poll, Kerry should have received sixty-seven percent of the vote in this precinct. Yet the certified tally gave him only thirty-eight percent. The statistical odds against such a variance are just shy of one in 3 billion.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Rolling Stone [Empasis Added]

These people don't want to govern, they want to rule. By any means necessary.

Kennedy's article is stark and frightening. I've seen many of these allegations before, but this is the first time I've seen them all collected into one devastating piece.

Perhaps in this post-Katrina, post-false intelligence, post fixing the facts around the policy, post-Abu Ghraib, post-Haditha, post-Ishaqi, post-missing WMD, post-UAE port deal world, the American public will finally be ready to hear that the fact based evidence of the crime of the century.

Fri, 02 Jun 2006 07:42:30 PDT - Link

June 1, 2006

Why Nuclear Power Cannot Be A Major Energy Source

As a result, with current technology, there is only a limited amount of uranium ore in the world that is rich enough to allow more energy to be produced by the whole nuclear process than the process itself consumes. This amount of ore might be enough to supply the world's total current electricity demand for about six years.


And, of course, it follows from this, that the whole fast-breeder cycle, consisting of three processes none of which have ever worked as intended, has itself never worked. There are three fastbreeder rectors in the world: Beloyarsk-3 in Russia, Monju in Japan and Phénix in France; Monju and Phénix have long been out of operation; Beloyarsk is still operating, but it has never bred. But let us look on the bright side of all this. Suppose that, with 30 years of intensive research and development, the world nuclear power industry could find a use for all the reactor-grade plutonium in existence, fabricate it into fuel rods and insert it into newly-built fast-breeder reactors - 80 of them, plus a few more, perhaps, to soak up some of the plutonium that is being produced by the ordinary reactors now in operation. So: they start breeding in 2035. But the process is not as fast as the name suggests ("fast" refers to the speeds needed at the subatomic level, rather than to the speed of the process). Forty years later, each breeder reactor would have bred enough plutonium to replace itself and to start up another one. By 2075, we would have 160 breeder reactors in place. And that is all we would have, because the ordinary, uranium-235-based reactors would by then be out of fuel.

David Fleming [Emphasis added]

The FEASTA site also an mp3 of a talk by David Fleming.

Thu, 01 Jun 2006 22:48:18 PDT - Link

More Wind

Speakerfactory has loads of cool pictures of Doug Selsam's mult-rotor wind turbines.

Thu, 01 Jun 2006 22:34:04 PDT - Link

May 29, 2006

45 Minutes and 43 Seconds of Bloody Brilliant!

Robert Newman gets to grips with the wars and politics of the last hundred years — but rather than adhering to the history we were fed at school, the places oil centre stage as the cause of all commotion. This innovative history programme is based around Robert Newman's stand-up act and supported by resourceful archive sequences and stills with satirical impersonations of historical figures from Mayan priests to Archduke Ferdinand.

Google Video

THIS is why there is an internet. Go. Watch. Now.

Mad props to Bob for the link.

Mon, 29 May 2006 21:44:56 PDT - Link

May 23, 2006

New Toy (Whoh-ee-oh)

Nikon D70s

Unfortunately I've been crazy-busy at work and the weather has been less than clement, so haven't had a chance to really take her out for a proper test drive.

I'm planning on keeping the the old E990 for macro shots, plus it's a good microscope camera.

Tue, 23 May 2006 12:54:09 PDT - Link

May 17, 2006

Wednesday Cat Blogging



Wed, 17 May 2006 08:24:58 PDT - Link

May 15, 2006

Voodoo Economics Applied

How large, exactly? Mankiw reckons that over the long run (the long run being generous to his argument), cuts on capital taxes generate enough extra growth to pay for half of the lost revenue. Hello, Mr. President, that means that the other half of the lost revenue translates into bigger deficits. Mankiw also calculates that the comparable figure for cuts in taxes on wages is 17 percent. Yes, Mr. President, that means every $1 trillion in tax cuts is going to add $830 billion to the national debt.

Washington Post

One more time...

Tax Cuts do not pay for themselves. They never have, they never will.

It's not a Tax Cut if it isn't balanced with spending cuts. Taking on debt to give a tax cut is a crime against future generations.

Mon, 15 May 2006 07:47:47 PDT - Link

May 9, 2006

The Washington Post Discovers Peak Oil

Congress thinks we're stupid. Maybe we are. We, most of us, refuse to accept that we are living in a world of rapidly increasing demand for declining fossil fuel resources.

We believe more oil is to be found around the corner, in the next country, beneath the ocean, under or in the next rock. Maybe it is.

But people who have spent much of their professional lives looking at this issue say it really does not matter that more oil is waiting to be found somewhere. They believe there will never be enough of the stuff to fuel, feed, clothe, house and move a constantly growing global population.

Washington Post

Welcome to the club, WaPo.

Tue, 09 May 2006 08:17:57 PDT - Link

May 8, 2006

Good Idea, But Where Are The Pizzas and Beer?

The peer to patent project looks like an interesting way to help clean up the patent process.

I still think my idea would be more fun:

A couple of years ago I was sitting at lunch with other Dangerites, and I told them my theory of patents:

I think we need a patent jury system. A patent challenge would involve calling a panel who are "skilled in the art" expressed in the patent. The jury would be paid by the challenge fee, and provided with pizza and beer, then the patent examiner would describe the problem to the jury, and give them three hours to see if they come up with the same solution that was covered in the patent. If the examiner judges the solutions to be similar enough to the patent, then the idea expressed in the patent would be judged to be invalid.

F. said "If that was on TV, I'd watch it."

Mon, 08 May 2006 21:35:26 PDT - Link

May 3, 2006

Don't. Stand. Up.

"Colbert crossed the line," said one top Bush aide, who rushed out of the hotel as soon as Colbert finished. Another said that the president was visibly angered by the sharp lines that kept coming.

"I've been there before, and I can see that he is [angry]," said a former top aide. "He's got that look that he's ready to blow."

US News & World Report

Bush had to sit there and take it. He couldn't stand up and leave, because the video of him taking action would have played side by side, 24-7 with the video of him sitting in a classroom, listening to a reading of My Pet Goat. That comparison would have ended his presidency.

Wed, 03 May 2006 13:24:43 PDT - Link

May 1, 2006

The Real Cost Of Gasoline

11.05 9/10 per gallon imageHave you ever wondered what Gasoline really costs us? I mean really costs us, taking into account the full cost of the military intervention in the mideast? The National Defence Council Foundation did the calculations.

"Now this year in 2006, we're going to spend about $320 billion to buy imported oil. That's 3.2 times what we were spending three years ago. We feel that the average refiner price will be about $60 a barrel, not $28 and some change. And in contrast to the $49 billion we were spending in the Persian Gulf to defend oil supplies, that figure is now $132.7 billion. And when you add everything together and take the economic consequences into account... that $304 billion in 2003 will increase in 2006 to $825.1 billion. That's almost twice as much as much as we're going to spend on national defense this year. It adds the equivalent of $8.35 to a gallon of gasoline when we look at the price that was posted yesterday (April 14, 2006), that means at the pump — if you were paying the full cost — it would be $11.06 per gallon, meaning that it would cost you about $220 to fill up a sedan and about $325 to fill up an SUV."

EV World

Mon, 01 May 2006 09:05:34 PDT - Link

April 30, 2006

See, They're Not High Crimes - If I Say The're Not Crimes.

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.


When asked to comment on this story, a White house Press Secretary Tony Snow said "Publishing that should be against the law."

Sun, 30 Apr 2006 09:33:57 PDT - Link

Peak Oil Podcasts


This weekend has been rich in Peak Oil Media.

Via Energy Bulletin: Dr. Robert Hirsch and Rep. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett The PowerPoint Slides that were shown during the presentation are available here (Click the "Free" button, then wait a bit on the next page for the download options.)

I've heard Bartlett a number of times, but he's really on top of his game here.

"I'm a conservative, but I try not to be an idiot."
— Rep. Roscoe Bartlett

This is the first time I've heard Hirsch speak. He's the primary author of the eye opening and chilling PEAKING OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION: IMPACTS, MITIGATION, & RISK MANAGEMENT AKA known as the Hirsch report.)

Also up this weekend, Financial Sense Newshour has a great interview with Matthew Simmons, author of "Twilight in the Desert"

That URL may expire, but the direct link to the .mp3 looks relatively rot-proof.

I also came across a must-read interview with M. King Hubbard this week:

A non-catastrophic solution is impossible, Hubbert feels, unless society is made stable. This means abandoning two axioms of our culture... the work ethic and the idea that growth is the normal state of affairs. Hubbert challenges the latter mathematically and concludes the exponential growth of the last two centuries is the opposite of the normal situation.

"It is an aberration. For most of human history, the population doubled only once every 32,000 years. Now it's down to 35 years. That is dangerous. No biologic population can double more than a few times without getting seriously out of bounds. I think the world is seriously overpopulated right now. There can be no possible solutions to the world's problems that do not involve stabilization of the world’s population."

The Seminal Hubbert article: Leading Edge Magazine, February 1983

Sun, 30 Apr 2006 08:59:39 PDT - Link

April 28, 2006

Fox News Discovers Peak Oil!

But many scientists warn that there will come a day when rising oil prices will not be due to political or economic pressures, but because a natural peak in global oil production will have been reached.

Once we reach this tipping point, known as "Hubbert's Peak," also known as "peak oil," global oil production will begin an irreversible decline and less oil will be available with every passing year, scientists say.

Energy experts no longer debate about whether Hubbert's peak will occur, but when.

Fox News

Folks, Peak Oil is to modern civilization what the iceberg was to the Titanic. Once we've hit, we stop moving forward and we have a limited amount of time and energy to build ourselves another boat.

Every time I see Bush visiting an ethanol plant, or talking about finding new sources of oil, I have visions of him loading the lifeboats with Escalades.

Fri, 28 Apr 2006 13:43:43 PDT - Link

April 27, 2006


I recall visiting my brother in law in Seattle, and comparing the atmosphere of Seattle with the atmosphere in Albuquerque. I told him that the Northwest had the feeling of "good governance". He laughed.

I think that good governance is a key to the general welfare, and that is the major point of the article as well. Without it, there are enormous barriers to the kind of single initiative and risk-taking that create wealth and opportunity.

Sadly, I see us in a country that has slipped into kleptocracy. Some years back, there was a controversy over the use of bovine growth hormone to make cows produce more milk. While the arguments focused on health issues, there was the question of why we need more milk in a time of surplus? My own view was that the producer who could bring more milk to market would then get a bigger slice of the dairy "pie" and also of the government subsidies that come with it. It is a matter of finding a way to pick the public pocket more effectively.

Daniel Kim, Las Cruces, NM

Daniel was kind enough to grant me permission to re-print this email he sent to me in response to A Dangerous Summer *or* Not. This. Congress.

I think one of the most destructive things that this administration, and the "Republican Revolution" starting with Reagan has done is to demonize "The Government" as if someone else (Maybe the French?) have been in charge of everything for the last 5 years.

Media coverage about Flight 93 reminded me that when the passengers learned the fate of the other hijacked planes, they did a most extraordinary thing — they voted to attack the terrorists. The passengers of Flight 93 were the only ones who were able to stop any attack, and they did it by forming an impromptu government, and voting to act.

Thu, 27 Apr 2006 21:42:40 PDT - Link

April 26, 2006

A Dangerous Summer *or* Not. This. Congress.

This congress is on track to be in session fewer days than any congress since 1948—and that's a good thing. I've been immersed (read underwater) on a work project for the last week so I've spent less than 10 minutes looking into the issue of Net Neutrality, — which is nearly 600 seconds more than the average Senator or Representative has.

My gut response would be to tell this Congress that It cannot be trusted with an issue any more important than changing the design of the penny, and no you may not put Reagan on the penny.

Big Business Interests are smelling the change in the wind, and any legislation they may have wanted to push has got to be done Real Soon Now™ — before the fall election cycle starts to spin up. The very timing of the Net Neutrality issue makes me suspect that it's a Very Bad Idea™.

It's little comfort that Karl Rove is meeting with his lawyers in the Plame case today, I'm sure he's spending all his time trying to figure a way to keep the Republicans in the majority of the House and Senate, against the wishes of the sweeping majority of Americans who have in the past weeks at last awoken to find that the nation has been going in a direction they do not like for the last five years. I shudder to think what schemes the dark lord is hatching — none can be good for the nation as a whole.

I do detect his presence in one thing — the media meme that the Democrats don't have any new ideas. It's his way of trying to keep the Democrats from seeing that all they really need so sweep the House and Senate is a very old idea: Good Governance.

Wed, 26 Apr 2006 08:36:37 PDT - Link

April 25, 2006


Gas sign at $3.159

I turned on CNN this morning and they were running a live feed of Bush speaking before the Renewable Fuels Association.

What was truly striking was that he was speaking about alternative fuels to a ballroom full of alternative fuel experts, but the depth and content of his speech sounded like a fourth-grade book report, cribbed in 10 minutes from a half-dozen random energy websites. It's bad enough that he lectured experts on a subject where he was literally the least informed person in the room, but he was equally poor on his grasp of government's roll in moving the industry forward.

Tue, 25 Apr 2006 07:59:02 PDT - Link

April 19, 2006

Know Nukes

Nuclear power - some facts by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen has some sobering facts about nuclear power:

When uranium becomes scarce, its price will rise. Higher price means that leaner, but more abundant ores would become economically mineable. These ores, such as phosphates, shales and granites, would last for hundreds of years.

This is a fallacy when viewed in terms of energy. The sole civil application of uranium is its use in power reactors to generate useful energy. The huge amounts of very lean ‘ores’ MIT [10] and WNA [7] refer to, have grades well below the energy threshold, discussed in a previous section. Such uraniumbearing rocks may be uranium ores in economic sense, but they never will be a net energy source, whatever extraction technology would be invented.

Even if large new rich uranium deposits are found, doubling the known reserves, which is not very probable from a geological point of view (see reference [11]), the total reserves will last for less than 30 years in the scenario of the nuclear renaissance.

I'm keeping an open mind on Nuclear Power, but if there is one thing can convince me that we shouldn't build more new plants, it would be an analysis that shows that we'll soon be running out of ore that can be processed with a net energy gain.

The analysis of windmills seems to be that the power generated in the first year covers the entire energy budget of contruction, opperation and decomisioning.

Wed, 19 Apr 2006 08:47:19 PDT - Link

Sinking Ship Arriving To Late To Save a Drowning Witch

Sinking Ship Arriving To Late To Save a Drowning Witch

Yesterday at lunch we got on the subject of Peak Oil, and K suggested he was happy with the idea of Peak Oil because it would help with Global Warming.

I told him "It's like a sinking ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch."

Wed, 19 Apr 2006 07:23:48 PDT - Link

April 18, 2006

I Get A Sidekick Out of You

The Sidekick has made an prominent apperance in Gilmore Girls!

Just thought you'd like to know.

Tue, 18 Apr 2006 23:02:21 PDT - Link


The May Futures contract for Light Sweet Crude closed at an all time high of $71.30, after trading as high as $71.60 during the day.

December '06 and January '07 closed at $75.10.

Tue, 18 Apr 2006 12:38:39 PDT - Link


I got an email from TW suggesting that the the surface sea temperatures were averaging about normal: It doesn't look so bad in that snapshot. A bit warm near the Texas-Louisiana border, cooler around Florida.

I was looking at this animation of weekly averages.

Tue, 18 Apr 2006 12:38:39 PDT - Link

A Man of Applied Ignorance

"An Inconvenient Truth" is a cinematic version of the lecture that Gore has given for years warning of the dangers of global warming. The case Gore makes is worthy of sleepless nights: Our Earth is in extremis. It's not just that polar bears are drowning because they cannot reach receding ice floes or that "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" will exist someday only as a Hemingway short story. It's rather that Hurricane Katrina is not past, but prologue. Katrina produced several hundred thousand evacuees. The flooding of Calcutta would produce many millions.

You cannot see this film and not think of George W. Bush, the man who beat Gore in 2000. Bush has been studiously anti-science, a man of applied ignorance who has undernourished his mind with the empty calories of comfy dogma. For instance, his insistence on abstinence as the preferred method of birth control would be laughable were it not so reckless. It is similar to Bush's initial approach to global warming. It may be that Gore will do more good for his country and the world with this movie than Bush ever did by winning in 2000.

Gore movie puts heat on Bush

"A Man of Applied Ignorance" — I really wish I'd thought of that. Applied Ignorance is planning a visit to my hometown of San Jose, where his approval ratings are ~ 33%. I wonder if the Secret Service would object if I mooned Air Force One as it few over. I'd better not. It's probably a one way ticket to Gitmo offence.

"The president will participate in a panel to discuss his American Competitiveness Initiative to encourage American innovation and strengthen our nation's ability to compete in the global economy," White House press officer Alex Conant told the Mercury News. Conant, however, declined to say where in San Jose the event would be held or if it would be open to the public.

Mercury News

I have an idea! They could hold it in any one of the hundred empty high-tech tilt-ups that line Central Expressway. How better to explore competitiveness than in a building that once hosted hundreds of good jobs - in an area where the joke use to be:

I was on my way to work, but I accidentally turned into the wrong driveway. They had an opening, so I changed jobs rather than move the car.

My guess? He'll be back at United Defense Industries Inc. His daddy has friends there.

Tue, 18 Apr 2006 08:36:05 PDT - Link

April 17, 2006


The May 2006 contact for Light Sweet Crude just traded at $70.00 per Bl on the NYMEX exchange.

This is more important to you and your children than the arrest of some unnamed suspect in Aruba, or the fate of the Duke lacrosse team.

BYW, The September options are trading at $73.20. I wonder if that won't be a real bargain since the surface temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico are 3° above average already. One Category 5 in the Huston ship channel and we're at $100+. Don't get me started about Iran.

Update: Light Sweet Crude closed at $70.40 today. This is still below the inflation adjusted peak of about $97.50 in December of 1979, but we are sneaking up on the Average Monthly spot price.

Unlike the last oil crisis, we do not have a new Prudhoe Bay or North Sea to pull us back out. It looks like the only thing that can bring prices back down again is a significant drop in worldwide demand. (Read: "World Recession")

Mon, 17 Apr 2006 09:19:45 PDT - Link

April 11, 2006

WCCO - Project Energy: Our Oil Addiction

WCOO-TV in Minnesota began broadcasting the first US news series that explicitly covers peak oil. The first segment has interviews with Peak Oil figures like Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Kenneth Deffeyes and Matt Simmons.


The spots will be combined into a one-hour documentary that will be aired separately and remain up on the website. WCCO-TV plans for a roll-out of 30 stories during April and May and additional stories to appear throughout the balance of the year.

Link to the first installment.

Link to WCCO's Project Energy Page.

WCCO is a CBS affiliate, and the series appears to be locally produced. (Pretty smart folks, those Minnesotans.) I wonder when this will percolate up to the network level...

What about finding a replacement fuel?

We can say this: the amount of disinformation that is coming out of the major media is shocking and disgraceful. "60 Minutes" has run two segments this winter that are just basically false. The first one was about the Alberta tar sands, in which they said in essence that the Alberta tar sands would solve all our problems. The second one said that coal liquefaction would solve all our problems. Both of those things are completely untrue.

James Howard Kunstler at Rochester Citynews

2006 looks to be the year of Peak Oil awareness, at least at the local level. I looks like the networks are just not ready to take this on yet. I wonder if that's because of all the SUV ads they run...

- Link

April 10, 2006

Signs Of Intelligent Life Detected!

NEW YORK A Gallup poll released today shows that nearly half of all Americans have cut back "significantly" on their driving due to high gas prices—and in a surprise, 57% say they will consider buying a hybrid car when replacing their current vehicle.

Gallup, via Editor and Publisher

I guess I was just a little ahead of the pack. ^_^

Next thing you know, we'll be reading that 87% of Americans are sick to death of rap music, 92% want Ted Turner back in charge of CNN, 53% would like to see SUVs melted down into windmills, 78% watch more anime than network television...

Mon, 10 Apr 2006 22:58:40 PDT - Link

April 9, 2006

Donald, You're Stupid, Short Sighted, And You're Fired.

I bought almost a thousand acres in Aberdeen Scotland, and they are the most beautul acres you've ever seen, all along the ocean — four miles along the ocean, and it's something that's very special, and I'm going to build what will be the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.

Royal Aberdeen, which is 125 years old has 9 of the greatest holes in the world, but then they ran out of land. This has got the most incredible piece of land, the largest dunes anywhere, and it will be special.

But they're also talking about building the windmills, the electric windmills, right sort of in the ocean, very near the course, and I said that's okay if they want to do that, but if they want to do that I'll sell my land, make a profit and go to something else.

I don't want to be looking at windmills when I'm playing golf, and neither do golfers, and neither to other people because it's much bigger than a golf course it's gonna be hotels and houses and everything else.

I think it will be very destructive to Scotland if they do this.

Donald Trump on the Wall Street Journal Report

It looks like it's this wind project.

Donald, you put golf before clean, renewable energy. You're fired.

Sun, 09 Apr 2006 10:17:32 PDT - Link

ConocoPhillips - Are you trying to tell us something?

Is it just me, or does the background music for ConocoPhillips' new ad sound like it was pulled from the soundtrack of The Day After Tomorrow, that movie about hyper-abrupt global climate change?

In fact, I just watched it again, this time with the sound down so I wouldn't be distracted by the voice-over, and it even looks like footage from The Day After Tomorrow. Storm-tossed seas, helicopters, men with GPS units and maps, fields of frigid snow. With a different voiceover, this could be an ad for The Day After The Day After Tomorrow.

You're not really inspiring confidence, guys.

Sun, 09 Apr 2006 09:23:04 PDT - Link

April 8, 2006

We. Can't. Do. This.

The House member said that no one in the meetings “is really objecting” to the talk of war. “The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq. At most, questions are raised: How are you going to hit all the sites at once? How are you going to get deep enough?” (Iran is building facilities underground.) “There’s no pressure from Congress” not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.” Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites.


I'd like to think that Bush has enough humanity to see that the first use of nuclear weapons is the worst evil.

I'd like to think that Bush understands that dropping any nuke in an Islamic Republic is the opening shot of World War III.

I'd like to think that it's all bluster — after all, placing the troops in the region caused Saddam Hussein to let the weapons inspectors back into Iraq. (Remember — they found nothing to warrant the war.)

I'd like to think that we won't be watching another shock and awe, this time with a nuclear glow.

Sat, 08 Apr 2006 10:51:22 PDT - Link

April 7, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging Miko

Miko, warming himself before the heating vent.

Fri, 07 Apr 2006 08:39:56 PDT - Link

April 4, 2006

Finally - a good SUV ad.

As part of a promotion , Chevy is giving folks a opportunity to do their own ad for the Tahoe SUV. (15 MPG City, 21 Highway, in 4x4 configuration.) This one probably won't win the contest, but it's worth watching.

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 08:05:54 PDT - Link

How do you spell well being?

I heard this interchange on CNBC this morning between CNBC Reporter Liz Claman and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute.

Claman Kevin Hassett, people's jaws dropped when 60 Minutes repoprted that the French are more productive than Americans. Is that true?

Hassett Ah, by the measure that was reported yes, it is true, but it's not really a measure of well being. You know the French people on average consume about half as much as the average American. In fact the average French Person's well being is a worse than that of the average American who lives below the poverty line.

Claman Define well-being

Hassett Well-being is consumption.

Ah—so. I guess by his measure my gasoline well-being would be improved 400% if I traded my 50 MPG Prius for a 12 MPG SUV.

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 07:47:48 PDT - Link

April 1, 2006

Blocked by order of T.I.A

Blocked by order of T.I.A


Access to the contents of this blog has been blocked by order of the Total Information Awareness — Office Of Compliance.

Your access has been noted and logged in your permanent record.

In a few moments you will be redirected to a TIA approved site.

Case number: TIA-40058946554591

Sat, 01 Apr 2006 06:27:44 PST - Link

March 24, 2006


Oil Futures 5 Years out

I last filled the futuremobile on the 8th: 8.566 gallons at $2.499. Yesterday I filled up again: 8.832 gallons at $2.659. I guess I was surprised since the price has been bouncing along near $2.50 for weeks.

I suspect that gas prices are trending upward, and this chart from subtrAct in The Oil Drum Comments leads me to believe that this is not a short-term issue. The 3/5 year option price for a barrel of oil traded in the $20 band from 1990 to 2002, where it jumped.

Fri, 24 Mar 2006 09:12:16 PST - Link

March 23, 2006

Breakin' out all over

The Peak Oil meme seems to be gathering speed...

Richard Heinburg's article George W. Bush and Peak Oil: Beyond Incompetence is a mash-up of oil tech and politics — It's been picked up or noted on the usual peak oil sites, Energy bulletin, EV World and The Oil Drum, But it's also crossed over into political sites: Guerrilla News Network and The Smirking Chimp. I think this crossing over is a good thing, I'm conflicted about this, however:

I don't know if this is a boost for PO but last night I heard Pat Robertson of all people, telling his TV audience that he recently read the book "Twilight in the Desert" by Matthew Simmons. He went on to tell about the how the Saudi's are doing everything to keep their production numbers up but once the oil fields peak, we are all in trouble. He's trying to get Simmons on the show too. He also believe's that oil could go as high as $120-200 a barrel and gasoline could hit $4-6..

Reno in The Oil Drum Comments.

I suppose it's a good thing. I suspect that very few in Pat Robertson's audience would be getting this news otherwise. I've also heard that Bill Gates has picked up his own copy of Twilight In The Desert. I read and reviewed it Last June.

Thu, 23 Mar 2006 12:44:53 PST - Link

What's Going On?

Wife has been planning trip to France for autumn, we bought the tickets last night. ^_^ I guess it's time to upgrade my digital camera.

I've been working on a recording of Summer. It's taking a lot longer this time, because I'm diving deeper into Cubase, learning the multitrack features, and doing multiple takes on each paragraph.

Fanime is still working out the schedules, but it looks like there will be another Fanfic Unpanel this year. I've asked for a smaller, quieter room, and a time slot that does not go up against the cosplay "compulsory meeting".

Work is going well, I've got a new project I can really sink my teeth into. I got an email yesterday from one of the BigCompanies™ where I had done a round of interviews last year. They want to talk again. I'm sorry guys, but that old start-up fever has me in its sway.

I've been experimenting with Robert Fripp's New Standard Tuning on my guitar. I've always loved different tunings, but I've usually learned them because of a particular song I wanted to learn. (Jimmy Page and Joni Mitchell frequently use open tunings). It's kind of fun to try a new tuning where I don't have a target song to learn, and my muscle-memory chord forms don't work. I find that when I go back to Old Standard Tuning it's easier to break the old habits.

Thu, 23 Mar 2006 08:45:38 PST - Link

March 22, 2006

meQ taHbogh juHDaq Suv qoH neH!*

DETROIT - More than 125,000 hourly workers of General Motors Corp. and auto supplier Delphi Corp. are being offered buyouts or early retirement to help cut hefty labor costs, but industry analysts warned the plan unveiled Wednesday may not be enough to restore the companies' financial health or avoid a paralyzing strike.


US car giant General Motors is raising production of its largest sport utility vehicles (SUVs), despite fears that such cars are losing popularity. It will build up to 12,000 extra full-size SUVs, but is cutting spending on its smaller models as buyers switch to more fuel-efficient cars.



* Klingon Proverb: "Only a Fool Fights in a Burning House"

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 15:07:24 PST - Link

Drip Drip Drip

Salon has a new article on peak oil: The oil is going, the oil is going!

Nothing new here, but there are some good links to follow. The interesting thing is watching as the awareness of peak oil percolates through the media.

Wed, 22 Mar 2006 08:19:01 PST - Link

March 20, 2006

Artifact from GeekFest '96

Geekfest '96 Logo   The Launch Pad Chicken

Back in late '95, when we were getting the BeBox and BeOS ready for market, JLG made a cryptic reference to "Launch Pad Chicken" in the Be Newsletter. I'm not sure I ever got the whole story, but it had something to do with no one wanting to be the one that says: "It's not ready to launch", I suspect.

It did lead to a few puzzled looks, a bit of graffiti done in whiteboard marker on a metal cubicle panel, a paper-mache statue of a life-sized chicken, complete with launch-pad, and the GeekFest '96 t-shirt.

I'm afraid that the launchpad chicken image (back of the shirt) lost some of its effect in the translation between my original sketch and the final Illustrator file, (I never did get any good at Illustrator) but I was pretty pleased with the way the GeekFest logo (badge on front of shirt) came out.

This particular artifact arrived in the mail this afternoon. Thanks, Mike!

Mon, 20 Mar 2006 21:25:55 PST - Link

March 19, 2006

Small Scale Wind

I'd pretty much given up on the notion of homestead-scale wind generation, the economics all seemed to point to 1MW+, 3 blade, 80 meter hub height towers.

Doug Selsam has been thinking outside the box. Rather than a single three-bladed rotor, he placed two seven foot two-blade rotors on a shaft, with a modern alternator in the middle. He uses fixed-pitch blade and a tail (with optional flame graphics!) and a simple furling mechanism to control the maximum output.

His Website won't win any design awards, but his simple design should. You can order one today, Prices run from $1899 to $2298.

Sun, 19 Mar 2006 08:38:51 PST - Link

March 16, 2006

We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis

It is September 2009. A Category 5 hurricane roars through Houston, destroying oil refineries, drilling platforms and pipelines—the complex system that provides a quarter of our nation's daily fuel supply. Three days later, terrorists attack two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest supplier. In the days and weeks that follow, gasoline prices hit record highs, food prices soar as trucks cannot afford to make deliveries, and Americans begin to realize that their very way of life is in peril. CNN Education

Saturday, March 18, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET

Monday, March 20, from 4:00 - 5:00 a.m. ET (Commercial Free)

I'm of two minds about this.

I'm pleased that CNN is at last paying attention to the energy issue.

I'm troubled that their attention apparently takes the form of a half-hour fictional program, where the crisis is caused by a Katrina level hurricane in Houston.

I'm troubled that they set the clock ahead to 2009. I suppose it could be that the idea of another great American city decimated while Bush is president was a little too scary. We came very close last year, and I have this sinking feeling that any hurricane that enters the Gulf of Mexico this will go to category 5, then it's just a matter of where it makes landfall.

I'm troubled that CNN felt the need to wrap Peak Oil in a natural disaster and terrorism — as if we have a chance that oil simply won't peak if only we can just avoid natural disaster and terrorists. In fact, it will peak (if it hasn't already), and there will be natural disasters, and terrorism.

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 08:43:20 PST - Link

March 15, 2006

The Purplest Place on Earth

Disney Castle

Disneyland Castle — Sep 12, 2002. Nikon N990, F2.5 1/4 ISO-117

Wed, 15 Mar 2006 08:26:30 PST - Link

March 14, 2006

This is why I keep tilting toward windmills.

BBC News has learned the latest data shows CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) - 100ppm above the pre-industrial average.

The research indicates that 2005 saw one of the largest increases on record - a rise of 2.6ppm.


"Today we're over 380 ppm," he said. "That's higher than we've been for over a million years, possibly 30 million years. Mankind is changing the climate."

BBC News

I make that a 35.59% increase in CO2.

Tue, 14 Mar 2006 08:44:44 PST - Link

Is it warm in here, or is it just me?

Scientists have found evidence that tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures may have once reached 107°F (42°C)—about 25°F (14°C) higher than ocean temperatures today and warmer than a hot tub. The surprisingly high ocean temperatures, the warmest estimates to date for any place on Earth, occurred millions of year ago when carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere were also high, but researchers say they may be an indication that greenhouse gases could heat the oceans in the future much more than currently anticipated. The study suggests that climate models underestimate future warming.


The findings, if confirmed, create a dilemma for scientists seeking to forecast how Earth's climate and environment will change in response to the rising amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused by deforestation and the burning of oil, coal, and other fossil fuels. When 1,300 to 2,300 ppm of carbon dioxide is factored into current computer models that simulate global climate, it does not produce such high ocean temperatures.


Tue, 14 Mar 2006 08:44:44 PST - Link

March 13, 2006

Self Portrait

Nikon in a window

Self Portrait ~1974 Nikon FTn, expired Tri-X pan, shot at 320 ASA.

Back then, I carried my camera almost every day, I'm sure that's how a lot of people saw me back then. Thirty-two years later, and now I wish I'd taken more photos of everyday things. If you stood in that same place today the house in the background would be obscured by a rather beautiful and large tree, which was just a stick when my father and I planted it on September 8, 1974.

I remember that day because I really wanted to watch Evel Knievel try to jump the Snake River Canyon, live on national television. These were the pre-Tivo, pre-VHS, pre-Betamax days. BTW, I remembered the day, but not the date. The Wikkipedia supplied that, via Google. I still have that camera, but I've worn out two VHS decks before the Tivos arrived.

Mon, 13 Mar 2006 22:43:38 PST - Link

March 9, 2006

Random Photos

Detroit Lakes

Detroit Lakes, MN ~1972

Thu, 09 Mar 2006 22:08:26 PST - Link

March 8, 2006

My Letter To The Editor

This is a letter I sent to the Editor of my local paper, the San Jose Mercury News.

"It Was 50 Years Ago Today"

50 Years ago, M. King Hubbert, a Geologist for the Shell Oil Company presented a controversial paper, "Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels", before a meeting of the American Petroleum Institute.

In his paper, he calculated that just 14 years later, the United States would reach the point where about one half of its recoverable oil will have been produced, and that after that date, production would begin an irreversible decline. This observation, based on historical mining data, has since come to be called "Hubbert's Peak." His position was scoffed at and widely discounted at the time, but right on time, in 1970, US production did indeed peak, and the later huge finds in both the north slope of Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico were unable to make up for the declining production of the lower 48.

In his paper, Hubbert also predicted the world Oil production would peak near the year 2000, but his slide rule could not calculate the emergence of OPEC and the oil embargoes, which gave us a brief respite. Geologists using his methods are now calculating that we are rapidly approaching (or in the case of Hubbert's protege, Kenneth S. Deffeyes — we have just passed) the world peak.

"Peak Oil" does not mean that we have run out of oil, we still have about half left. It does mean that every year after the peak, the world will have to make due with less oil than the year before. In this generation, we will continue to burn oil and coal, and renew development of nuclear power, but the generation after will be forced to shift to sustainable resources like wind, solar, and tides.

That shift will not be easy. Our entire civic infrastructure was built with cheap, abundant oil, and our towns and cities were built for the automobile. We have ripped up our railways, which are far more efficient than truck transport. We have aquired a taste for foods that travel thousands of miles from the fields to our tables.

We face a simple choice. We can ignore Hubberts peak, and act all surprised and outraged when the "No Gas" signs appear at our local stations, or we can face the simple fact that the world is changing, and we must change with it. The end of cheap oil is our wake-up call, we need to start working on those sustainable energy sources today.

Joseph Palmer

Tue, 07 Mar 2006 19:40:22 PST - Link

March 7, 2006

Japanese - English Technical Translation in Silicon Valley

My freind Ikezi-san has been doing business translating and interpretation for 15 years now. We've talked many times about putting together a website, and this weekend we finally did it. I'm very pleased at how it came out. We started with a site generation tool which came with great graphics, but I couldn't stomach the HTML it generated so I cleaned it up a bit. Okay, none of the HTML was salvageable so I re-wrote it. Anyway, take a look. She does terrific work. (And report any HTML bugs to me, please.)

Tue, 07 Mar 2006 19:40:22 PST - Link

March 4, 2006

My Response to the ExxonMobil Ad

Exxoff Imobile

Sat, 04 Mar 2006 10:55:34 PST - Link

Almost Certainly Correct

The second reason is just as unsettling, and is only starting to get the attention it deserves. The Age of Oil — 100-plus years of astonishing economic growth made possible by cheap, abundant oil — could be ending without our really being aware of it. Oil is a finite commodity. At some point even the vast reservoirs of Saudi Arabia will run dry. But before that happens there will come a day when oil production "peaks," when demand overtakes supply (and never looks back), resulting in large and possibly catastrophic price increases that could make today's $60-a-barrel oil look like chump change. Unless, of course, we begin to develop substitutes for oil. Or begin to live more abstemiously. Or both. The concept of peak oil has not been widely written about. But people are talking about it now. It deserves a careful look — largely because it is almost certainly correct.

Energy Bulletin has the NY Times: The end of oil article.

I'm reasonably impressed with the content, it serves as a decent framework for understanding the issues. For myself, I've been reading the books, and following coverage of peak oil for over a year. I've noticed a pattern:

The pessimistic predictions come from oil geologists, engineers and investment bankers.

The optimistic predictions come from conservative economists and think-tanks.

An example of this came up this week. The day before the New York Times artical was published, our local powerhouse AM station, KGO 810, ran a 1 hour segment with Max Schulz of the Manhattan Institute.

He waxed eloquently about the free market, and how taxes were all bad and stuff, and when a caller brought up the issue of Peak Oil he brushed it away with the these predictions have always been wrong before argument.

Since the host seemed unaware of the most basic science surrounding energy, he was well assured by Mr. Schulz's words.

What didn't come up were the hard-to-brush-away facts:

Of the 65 largest oil producing countries in the world, up to 54 have past their peak of production and are now in decline. [link] I guess all of those predictions about peaking only came true in 83% of the countries — so far.

Since 1980, annual consumption has exceeded annual new discoveries. [link]

Advanced technology drilling has lead to higher peak production rates, followed by more rapid depletion. Technology is not squeezing more from each field, it is just squeezing it more quickly. (And in some cases, leaving more behind.)

Huge inputs of energy are required to extract oil from oil sands, even more from oil shale. Presently, this energy is in the form of natural gas. [Natural]"Gas production has peaked in North America" — Lee Raymond, Exxon Chief Executive - 2005.06.28 (Remember, Exxon is the one placing ads [.pdf] this very week saying that we are not near Peak Oil.)

Sat, 04 Mar 2006 10:03:12 PST - Link

What the...

AP clarifies story about Katrina, Bush

In a Wednesday story, The Associated Press reported that federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his Homeland Security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees in New Orleans, citing confidential video footage of an Aug. 28 briefing.

The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun. The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking.

Ohh! I get it. Bush was thinking like Lake Pontchartrain was a big bathtub, and Katrina was just going to splash a little over the edges — maybe get the bath mats all wet — nothing big. The twins did it all the time when they were little. How cute.

The day before Katrina, Bush was told there were grave concerns the levees could be overrun.

I can just hear him thinking — in that Jon Stewart impression voice — "No need to worry, heh heh. We'll just have to use some towels to clean it up - heh heh. We'll use those scratchy pink ones. I never did like 'em - heh heh."

It wasn’t until the next morning, as the storm made landfall, that Michael Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Bush had asked about reports of breaches. Bush did not participate in that briefing.

"Breaches? Breaches? I thought folks down there wore dungarees, heh heh."

Clinton probably wouldn't have asked either. He wouldn't have had to ask. He would have been sitting in Washington DC, in he Oval Office, doing the New York Times crossword — in pen — while his staff in blue jeans and sneakers ran the meeting. They would have asked all those silly questions about what this overrunning would look like. They would have asked if this overrunning has ever happened anywhere else, and what happened when it did. They would have debated if overrunning could cause the levees to crack, or leak, or burst. Clinton would have let this run for somewhat less time that it would take to finish "My Pet Goat", before declaring: "Lets assume the levees are going to fail. Let's plan for the worst. We'll meet back here in two hours. I want to talk to the Mayor of New Orleans on the phone, now."

Sat, 04 Mar 2006 08:34:55 PST - Link

March 1, 2006

Why Peak Oil Is Probably About Now

This post is for the benefit of those readers who's friends or relatives just spat out their coffee over their morning New York Times in surprise that oil is starting to run out and nobody warned them before now. If you are looking around for more background information, I would like to summarize a series of arguments and analyses that have led me to the view that peak oil is most likely occurring about now, give or take a year or two. My personal coffee-spitting incident occurred about a year ago, and this is some of what I've figured out in the meantime.

The Oil Drum

Wed, 01 Mar 2006 08:27:06 PST - Link

February 25, 2006

Just because

Unidentified Squirrel

Unidentified Squirrel. Because some days you just need some cute.

Sat, 25 Feb 2006 14:52:52 PST - Link

February 23, 2006

But the Paper Will Get All Soggy!

Navy Plane

Gizmodo found this interesting concept plane in Popular Science.

It's an unmanned airplane that can be launched from underwater. It looks a bit familiar to me, I wonder if Lockheed Martin has been prowling my Paper Airplanes page looking for ideas. After all, it bears a striking family resemblance to PL-2.


This isn't the first time I've found planes that look like my paper airplanes.

Thu, 23 Feb 2006 20:41:36 PST - Link

February 21, 2006

Ravens Of London

Ravens of London

LONDON (AP) - The ravens at the Tower of London have been moved indoors to protect them from the threat of bird flu, the man in charge of the birds said Monday.

According to legend, if the ravens leave the 11th century fortress on the River Thames, its White Tower will crumble and the Kingdom of England will fall. King Charles II decreed in the 17th century that there must always be six ravens at the Tower.

Guardian (UK)

I ordinarly don't blog things like this, but I've personally met and photographed these Ravens. The world feels very, very, small tonight.

Tue, 21 Feb 2006 21:38:52 PST - Link

February 20, 2006

I'm startled

I got an email this evening from B, his head reeling from Bush's comments about energy. Sure enough a few moments on Google found this:

Saying the nation is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that would "startle" most Americans, President Bush on Monday outlined his energy proposals to help wean the country off foreign oil.

Funny thing about that, a startling new technology has recently come to light. (Literally!) What Bush didn't mention is that this startling news comes from South Africa:

Prof Vivian Alberts of the Department of Physics at the Rand Afrikaans University in South Africa and team have developed and patented a novel manufacturing technique that finally makes it possible to construct CIGS solar panels at a very low cost. The method is easily upscalable to industrial output levels, while remaining much cheaper to produce than conventional silicon solar panels.

Work done over the last two years indicates that panels can be produced in commercial volumes at a cost of about R 500 for a 50 Watt panel. This is much cheaper than existing solar panels available on the market. CIGS is a remarkably stable material and conversion efficiencies should be sustainable for 15-20 years in any given panel.

Science In Africa

That's a 50 watt panel for "R 500". That's USD $83. That's $1.66 / Watt.

Compare this to $285.00 for a 40 watt panel. That's $7.12 per watt.

I don't know about you, but I'm startled.

Yeah, yeah, that's from 2004 (I'm a little behind the times.)

Here's something a little more recent: SA solar research eclipses rest of the world — IOL South Africa

Mon, 20 Feb 2006 19:53:47 PST - Link


Bush, in his State of the Union speech, said the nation is so addicted to oil that it has become dependent on foreign imports.

He will visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden Tuesday during his stay in Colorado. Thirty-two jobs at the labs were eliminated by budget cuts earlier this month, but the jobs were restored two days before the president's visit, according to Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo).

"This is the best news we’ve had in a long time," said Allard. "To be able to restore the positions that had been cut at NREL is a great thing to hear about on a holiday weekend."

Officials at NREL were told not to talk to the media over the weekend, 7News reported.

The Denver Channel

Yes, that Denver. The one that lost electrical power due to low temperatures over the weekend. I wonder if the told Bush about that.

Visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Website. This is where they were cutting jobs. Solar. Wind. Biomass Geothermal... All the stuff we're going to need Real Soon Now™.

People, that's not eating the seed for next year's crop, that's burning it to make room to park the second Escalade.

Update: Hey! I just found 7 Billion dollars we could be spending on sustainable energy!

One wouldn't think an industry rolling in historic profit—nearly $23 billion for the top four players in the past quarter—would need any federal government relief. And yet, Uncle Sam is poised to dole out $7 billion in breaks to the oil industry over the next five years, a figure that could increase fivefold because of a legal battle underway.

U.S. News and World Report

- Link

February 19, 2006

The End Of Faith

The End Of Faith by Sam HarrisSam Harris treds where none dare. In this important and devastating book he undermines the very notion of faith — the belief in ideas without evidence.

I was born into a Catholic family, and went to a Catholic school through sixth grade. I was even an Altar Boy. (No hanky-panky, thank goodness). Partway through the fifth grade I'd come to the conclusion that the stuff we were being taught in fifth grade catechism class was, well—for fifth graders. After all, I watched Walter Cronkite every night, I read Time magazine, devoured books and magazines about the space program and I had a subscription to popular mechanics. It was a year before I decided that kissing a girl might not be so bad, but I was otherwise as well informed as most adults.

I figured that in sixth grade they'd take the training wheels off and start to talking to us as grown-ups. But they didn't. It was the same thing, over and over again. We were expected to attend Mass every morning before school, and I began to notice that the same stories that I had identified as "for fifth graders" were exactly the same stories that were told to the old folks who shuffled in each morning. When my mother gave me the chance of switching to public school in seventh grade, I took it. I've not been to Mass since, except for weddings and funerals.

I had decided to leave my religion behind, but left a place and a tolerance of Faith and religion in my thinking. Of late, I've literally banished the hand of God from this universe, to the other side of the big bang. The End of Faith has me pondering even that position. I have no evidence on which to base that faith. I have what is left of my religion, and an conveniently large and unknowable place — what happened before the Big Bang - to put it.

Believing that God's role was like a cosmic Minnesota Fatts, ("Earth ball in the corner pocket!") creating the universe with a single stroke of the cue, does not inform my day to day life.

There are people - 22% in the USA according to Harris, who literally believe that we in the end times, and that Jesus will return within the next 50 years. Another 22% believe he probably will. I live in a nation where 44% of the people have a Faith that guides them to believe that there is no point in thinking about sustainability, or as former secretary of the interior James Watt put it: "After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."

Here is where The End of Faith points out the dangers to our future — there are people, in places of great power who rely upon their Faith to guide their actions. Bush frequently points to his faith as being a great strength, but think what that means — what he is literally saying — is that his ability to believe in things without any worldly evidence is a great strength.

It is a boggling truth that a person has no chance to become President of the United States unless they profess that they have Faith—that they literally have the ability to believe in things without any worldly evidence.

Harris has an mp3 of his talk at The Long Now Foundation from December 9th, 2005. Give it a listen. This is not an angry man, this is a worried man. A kindred spirit looking for a way to keep this human experiment going.

Sun, 19 Feb 2006 10:45:49 PST - Link

February 18, 2006

Two from the Oil Drum

First, a great podcast from Financial Sense Newshour

Then this bit of bad news...

Royal Dutch Shell Plc's venture in Nigeria said it's evacuating and shutting down its EA offshore field following today's militant attacks and hostage taking, cutting production by 115,000 barrels a day.


You are reading The Oil Drum, aren't you?

Sat, 18 Feb 2006 10:45:41 PST - Link

February 16, 2006

Greenland To Become Green?

A satellite study of the Greenland ice cap shows that it is melting far faster than scientists had feared - twice as much ice is going into the sea as it was five years ago. The implications for rising sea levels - and climate change - could be dramatic.

The Independent (UK)

The scientists said they do not yet understand the precise mechanism causing glaciers to flow and melt more rapidly, but they said the changes in Greenland were unambiguous — and accelerating: In 1996, the amount of water produced by melting ice in Greenland was about 90 times the amount consumed by Los Angeles in a year. Last year, the melted ice amounted to 225 times the volume of water that city uses annually.

Washington Post

Thu, 16 Feb 2006 19:35:35 PST - Link

Slashdot Discovers Peak Oil

Slashdot, that shining and turgid example of everything that is both good and bad on the internets has finally discovered Peak Oil.

I particularly liked this brief exchange:

Yes, yes, I know; its not economic to refine it. Only when the price is under $30/barrel. What are we at now? $55? $60?

Eh... money isn't the only issue. You also have a basic problem of thermodynamics. It takes X calories to extract and refine gasoline that will release Y calories when burned. As extraction gets harder, X grows. Once X == Y, an oil field becomes an energy sink, not an energy source, even if there are centuries worth of oil left in it.

If you want your Peak Oil news without so much spam in it, I suggest The Oil Drum

Thu, 16 Feb 2006 09:04:24 PST - Link


Westerkerk - the West Church

Westerkerk - Amsterdam Netherlands — July 1, 2003 © Joseph Palmer

One of the things I still love about the twisty-body on the E-990 is that you can find natural tripods nearly anywhere. In this case, it was an iron railing, you can see a bit of the post in the lower left corner. According to the embedded camera data, this was a "bulb" shot, so I don't have a record of the exposure time.

Thu, 16 Feb 2006 08:52:24 PST - Link

February 13, 2006

Roscoe Bartlett

"Our problem will be solved with massive conservation, becoming more efficient and using every alternative we can, and even then we're going to have to learn to be happy with less energy than we're using today," Bartlett said. "And that's not tough. The average European gets by on half the energy that we use in this country and you'd be hard to argue that they aren't as happy as we are."

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett [R] - Maryland

Transcripts of his September 26th 2005 Energy conference and his Peak Oil Speech with Charts are linked from his Website

I was struck by this quote in the MSNBC piece:

Critics say this kind of doomsday scenario will not come to pass, and there will be enough new discoveries of oil to meet demand.

I really wish the writer of this article had asked these unnamed critics where these undisclosed new discoveries are. I really wish he'd ask them why they are prediction a new golden age of prosperity we have been finding less and less oil every year. (I fact, I recently heard that in 2004 more energy was expended looking for oil and gas than was actually found. Dollars don't count in that equation. If you burn 100 barrels to find 99, you're better off staying at home and knitting a nice warm sweater.

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 09:16:31 PST - Link

The Peak In The Rear View Mirror

In the January 2004 Current Events on this web site, I predicted that world oil production would peak on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2005. In hindsight, that prediction was in error by three weeks. An update using the 2005 data shows that we passed the peak on December 16, 2005.

Since we have passed the peak without initiating major corrective measures, we now have to rely primarily on methods that we have already engineered. Long-term research and development projects, no matter how noble their objectives, have to take a back seat while we deal with the short-term problems. Long-term examples in the proposed 2007 US budget (Feb. 9, 2006 New York Times page A-18) include a 65 percent increase in the programs to produce ethanol from corn, a 25.8 percent increase for developing hydrogen fuel cell cars, and a 78.5 percent increase in spending on solar energy research. The Times reports that solar energy today supplies one percent of US electricity; the hope is to double that to 2 percent by the year 2025. By 2025, we're going to be back in the Stone Age.

Ethanol, fuel cells, and solar cells are not the only shimmering dreams. Methane hydrates, oil shale, and the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste depository would be better off forgotten. There are plenty of solid opportunities. Energy conservation is by far the most important. Initiatives that are already engineered and ready to go are biodiesel from palm oil, coal gasification (for both gaseous and liquid fuels), high-efficiency diesel automobiles, and revamping our food supply. Every little bit helps, but even if wind energy continues its success it will still be a little bit.

That's it. I can now refer to the world oil peak in the past tense. My career as a prophet is over. I'm now an historian.

K. Deffeyes

Mon, 13 Feb 2006 07:47:07 PST - Link

February 9, 2006


Free heat from a geothermal heat pump warms my kitchen as I write this commentary. For every dollar of electrical energy that goes into the heat pump, I get 3.6 dollars of electrical heat. That's 2.6 dollars of free heat. And by purchasing clean green power from hydroelectric dams and wind power, it's possible to heat ones home without burning oil and without generating global warming gases.

Bangor News

Lately I've felt a tinge of loathing each time our Natural Gas furnace has kicked in, knowing that there's a limited store of that stuff for the future, and I'm buring it today. It's kind of odd really, I still have fuzzy memories of the coal truck pulling into the neighbors backyard and offloading into their basement through a chute. There was still quite a pile of the stuff left in the coal bin when they finally upgraded (To electric resistance heat, if I recall correctly.)

Our house was heated with fuel oil at the time — there was a 300 gallon tank in the corner of our basement which fed a burner which had been retro-fitted into a furnace that had started its life as an hulking and somewhat scary looking coal-fired boiler. (Man, I wish I had photos of that thing — it gave me nightmares as a kid.)

Energy was on my mind flying into Green Bay this Christmas. Somehow the houses on the big lots at the edge of town looked cold and vulnerable — the edge of the herd, exposed to the energy predators — if you will. I wondered what the town would look like in a few decades, when the natural gas was used up. It left me feeling blue. A few decades isn't all that far off —it was just four short decades ago when I was watching that coal truck.

I'd forgotten all about heat pumps, geothermal or otherwise. There is way you can heat your home economically using only electricity, and if the electricity comes from windmills (Like the ones you can see on approach to GRB...) then you are heating your home with a minimum impact on the environment. Green Bay will look a little warmer from the air next time.

Thu, 09 Feb 2006 13:02:35 PST - Link

February 7, 2006

Another Day, Another Museum


Christophe emailed to let me know that there's another museum with a BeBox:

Bolo's Computer Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, is a private collection of old computers. The museum grew out of my life's passion, computing and its history.


Here's the Picture

Thanks for the link, Christophe!

Tue, 07 Feb 2006 21:52:45 PST - Link

The $2,816 solution? Borrow it from your kids.

Budget Chart

For 2005, the federal government spent $21,878 per household, overall, taxed $19,062 per household, and ran a budget deficit of $2,816 per household.

From the conservative Heritage Foundation, a look at the budget with loads of charts and graphs.

Tue, 07 Feb 2006 08:51:18 PST - Link

February 5, 2006

The United States of Ford

US of Ford

Ford has announced that they will lay off 25% of thier workforce by 2012.

Since Bush is running our country like a business, (for example; attempting to eliminate retirement costs by destroying Social Security) I thought I'd take a look at what happens if you lay off 25% of the population of the USA, starting from the least populous states first.

Those of us in the green states get to keep our jobs.

Sun, 05 Feb 2006 17:07:58 PST - Link

Computer History Museum


Here's the BeBox on display at the Computer History Museum.

Sun, 05 Feb 2006 09:34:08 PST - Link

February 2, 2006

Almost Friday Cat Blogging



Thu, 02 Feb 2006 23:12:15 PST - Link

February 2, 2006

But... I Had My Fingers Crossed

One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.

Knight Ridder

"America is addicted to oil" he said. Oh. Sounds pretty serious. It was the standout line in the speech. It made the headlines here. (That's not saying much, as there wasn't much else in the text that we haven't heard before.) Now we find that he didn't really mean what he said:

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.)

No, he didn't really mean that. Not literally.

It's more a half truth, really. You see, in 20 years we will only be importing one barrel of oil from the mideast for each four barrels we import today. That's what happens 20 years after the peak. Oil still keeps flowing — perhaps forever, but every year less will be available to import.

How about the other part of this? Will we be able to replace that oil with alcohol made from "switch grass" (SOTU drinking game value: 3 shots & a beer). How well will that work?

Currently there are 72 million acres, 112,500 square miles of land devoted to corn (equal to the entire surface area of Iowa and Illinois.) To grow corn for all our gasoline needs would require 562,500 square miles, 1/6 of the country. To replace our all crude petroleum needs would require 1,200,000 square miles of corn, all the land east of the Mississippi. (That is all the land. No more roads, homes, shopping centers, theme parks.) Cellulosic material such as you mentioned has less, not more inherent energy, and so would take more land i.e. most the country.

pstarr found in the www.theoildrum.com comments section

If we're going to get there by 2025, perhaps we should start by raising the CAFE standards. I suggest a hard floor of 30 MPG (On a real test course) and a minimum fleet average of 35 MPG. It shouldn't be that hard to do—my Prius has never had a tank below 45 MPG.

Thu, 02 Feb 2006 13:38:54 PST - Link

January 26, 2006

Pretty as an Airport

Kansai Airport

Kansai Airport, December 7, 2001 © Joseph Palmer

Thu, 26 Jan 2006 21:56:28 PST - Link

January 24, 2006

Permalinks Fixed (Again)

I finally fixed the problem I was having displaying the new, big images in the permalink CGI. I'm afraid my backend code is becoming a bit crufty - I think I have the stylesheet and macrotables in no less than 4 places. I've really got to fix that one of these days.

Tue, 24 Jan 2006 00:27:37 PST - Link

A Message From Inside The Wall

I got my first hit from the Fanfiction.net domian today. lilangelita had some nice things to say about my stories (Blush — Thanks!)

I don't publish my stories there for a number of reasons:

My own site predates Fanfiction.net by several years, and publishing my stories is one of the primary reasons I started this website.

My site does pretty well in a Google Search for "Ranma 1/2 Fanfiction". I'm really not that hard to find.

I am going through the stories, and recording and publishing them as podcasts. FF.net doesn't support that. (In fact "Red" was recorded and available for download years before the term "podcast" was coined.)

Since I blog more than I write these days (some people tell me this is a very bad idea) I like to use the old stories to pull in new blog readers.

I've spent a great deal of time on the format of my stories, and really like the way they look (and print). I've even published a guide: HTML Formatting for Prose so that anyone can use my format. The page format of Fanfiction.net gives me a headache. This is a big deal to me.

I continue to find an fix errors in my stories. This is a lot easier to do on my own site.

I can host and insert images into my stories.

I only have one multi-chapter story, but it loads into one page. None of this pull-down and wait to get to the next chapter.

I'm deadly serious about about the non-commercial thing. No ads allowed on the same page as the stories.

FF.net is a closed community—they have tools to link and promote stories (C2 communities) but they can only point to stories published on their own site. The hit I got today was from a URL hand added to an author's bio page, it doesn't look as if you could add such an external link in any other way. Um guys? It's 2006. That kind of thinking went out with Prodogy and Compuserve.

I'm disappointed in the quality of the comment stream on FF.net. I've seen a lot of praise heaped on stories that any critical eye would find cliched and poorly formed. I don't think their comment system is promoting high quality storytelling. I've not spent a lot of time on FF.net, but it wasn't clear to me how to find the "four-star" stories.

Tue, 24 Jan 2006 00:27:37 PST - Link

January 23, 2006

Monday Japan Blogging

Futami Knife Shop

Knife Shop, Futami Japan — November 18, 2001 © Joseph Palmer

I purchased a set of carving tools for a gift in this shop They're wrapped in green paper on the counter. I asked the shop keeper if I could take his picture (okay, I showed him the camera, and asked "Ii?" [okay?]). He nodded, put on his glasses and posed.

Mon, 23 Jan 2006 22:46:19 PST - Link

Got Backbone?

Dear John,

I've been on your mailing list since the 2004 election cycle. I sent you money, and I even ran my own "John Kerry for President" ads for you on my website.

Thank you for keeping me up-to-date on your "no" vote for Judge Alito, I appreciate that you will not be steamrolled on this. Just one thing — if you're going to ask me to contribute to your campaign, I'm going to need more than a bulk email, and a no vote, I'm going to need a commitment to filibuster.

While I'm sure you've had a chance to listen to Al Gore's recent speech, I ask you to join me in listening again to his words again. This president has decided he is above the law, and outside the influence of the constitutional balance of powers, and Judge Alito agrees with him 100%.

John, a no vote is not enough. I can't stand in the well of the Senate and say, "This. Stops. Here."

You can.

You must.


Joseph Palmer

Mon, 23 Jan 2006 14:15:33 PST - Link

We don't have an Energy Problem, we have a Policy Problem.

You don't generally want lumps of coal or barrels of sticky black goo. You want comfort, illumination, mobility, baked bread, and so on. And for each of these end uses we should ask: How much energy, of what quality, at what scale, from what source will do the job in the cheapest way? That's now called the end-use/least-cost approach, and a lot of the work we do at Rocky Mountain Institute involves applying it to a wide range of situations.

End-use/least-cost analysis begins with a simple question: What are you really trying to do? If you go to the hardware store looking for a drill, chances are what you really want is not a drill but a hole. And then there's a reason you want the hole. If you ask enough layers of "Why?"—as Taiichi Ohno, the inventor of the Toyota production system, told us—you typically get to the root of the problem.


Mon, 23 Jan 2006 08:30:33 PST - Link

January 20, 2006

That's not a Death Tax — THIS is a Death Tax!

Bush likes to talk about how we needed to eliminate the inheritance tax to keep people from losing the family farm. Funny thing is, he can not identify a single family farm, anywhere in the USA, lost to inheritance taxes.

Not that people don't loose family farms due to government interference, take Sam Beaumont for example:

That's where the fantasy of a life together on the range collides with reality. After a quarter-century on the ranch he shared with his partner, Beaumont lost it all on a legal technicality in a state that doesn't recognize domestic partnerships.

Meadows' will, which left everything to Beaumont, was fought in court by a cousin of the deceased and was declared invalid by the Oklahoma Court of Appeals in 2003 because it was short one witness signature.

Indystar.com Via Kyburg

This makes me so mad, I want to spit.

Fri, 20 Jan 2006 20:24:15 PST - Link

The Harri Hursti Hack

Then eight of us voted, filling in the oval on our paper ballot. Six of us voted "No," the election could not be hacked. Two of us voted "Yes," it could be hacked. Then, one by one, we inserted our ballots into the voting machine. Ion checked after each voter to make sure that the counter on the machine was counting properly as each ballot was inserted. So, we ended up with an accurate count of 8 ballots cast on the screen on the front of the voting machine. Then Ion placed an "ender card" in the machine to end the election and printed the poll tape.

Instead of two "Yes" votes, the poll tape showed seven "Yes" votes.

Instead of six "No" votes, the poll tape showed one "No" vote.

Harri did not just flip the votes, as he wanted to show how easy it was to change the totals completely.

Vote Trust USA

Harri Hursti is a Finnish programmer. I wonder if it will take an election where Linus Torvalds takes 200+ electoral votes before this story makes it into the main-stream media. (They might still ignore then, it if he's a registered Republican.)

Fri, 20 Jan 2006 08:00:07 PST - Link

January 19, 2006

Turner Classic Movies Running Miyazaki

Woah. Just flipping channels and I came across "Whisper of the Heart". Next up is My Neighbor Totoro (Letterbox & Subtitled) followed by Porco Rosso!

update: Next Thursday is Pom Poko and one of the most engaging anime films of all time: Only Yesterday

Thu, 19 Jan 2006 22:08:38 PST - Link

Predicting The Futures

Front-month Nymex crude futures, up at $67.34 in early Asian hours, broke cleanly last night above key resistance at $65.07 (the 61.8% retracement of the drop from August 2005). Weekly momentum, which is trending up and at its highest since August, and multiple short- and longer-term uptrend lines confirm the bullish tone.

The break leaves no major resistance before the August 2005 peak of $70.85, which is a reasonable objective for the next few weeks; resistances at $67.40 (the late September peak) and $68.27 (the mid-September peak) are only minor. The slope of the short-term uptrend line from late December implies the $70.85 target will be hit within three weeks, possibly much sooner.

Dow Jones Newswires Via Yahoo!

My guess is a peak of $85 this year, $105 if one of the three Cat 5 Hurricanes we'll see in the gulf hits the Houston Ship Channel. I don't even want to guess the price if there is military action in Iran, but I'm thinking I'd be able to trade my Prius for a small fleet of Escalades.

Thu, 19 Jan 2006 12:44:04 PST - Link

Trickle Down? No thanks.

After 16 consecutive quarters of economic growth, pay is rising at a slower rate than in any similar expansion since the end of World War II. Companies are paying less of their cash gains in the form of wages and salaries than at any time since the Great Depression, according to government figures.

Bloomberg Maybe someone should take a close look at the effect of those those supply side tax cuts.

Link nod and quote of the day award goes to Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly:

Translation: supply side economics works. It just doesn't work for you or me.

Thu, 19 Jan 2006 09:12:10 PST - Link

January 18, 2006

A Trip To The Vet

We took the boys in for their yearly shots and checkups, and to have them Fitted with ID chips. When we were signing in, I asked them, "Hey, can we get one of those new Pentiums installed? God knows they could use the brains." This resulted in a simultaneous cry of "Oooooow!" from both receptionists, my wife and a woman who was there innocently picking up her cat.

Wed, 18 Jan 2006 16:27:31 PST - Link

January 17, 2006

Who's Up For Camping?

The peak oil debate tends to divide into two camps. On the one hand there are geologists who argue it is almost upon us or shortly will be, based on analysing past production and discovery rates and field exhaustion and extrapolating into the future. On the other there are economists, political scientists and the oil majors who believe that oil producers - be they governments or companies - will always find a way to meet demand, whether through cleverer ways of finding and extracting oil or greater fiscal incentives to discover and produce more.

Yesterday's conference in London, organised by the Dutch investment bank Insinger de Beaufort, represented both strands of opinion. Mr Skrebowski says that the world's big five oil majors all produced less in 2005 than they did in 2004, while North Sea oil production is declining so rapidly that it will halve in the next seven years.

According to the University of Reading's Dr Roger Bentley, the secretary of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas, the evidence is irrefutable. He points out that 64 of the world's 100 or so oil-producing countries are already past the point of peak production and on the downward slope...

Bracing the world for the day when the oil runs out Independent.co.uk

If I wanted to know about stars, I'd ask an astronomer.
If I wanted to know about making maps, I'd ask a cartographer.
If I needed to put a satellite in orbit, I'd ring up a rocket scientist or two.
The if question of the day is how much oil is left in the ground, I'd ask the geologists.

Tue, 17 Jan 2006 23:14:40 PST - Link

Testing 1-2-3

Mt Fuji, from the West Jan 8, 2006

Mt Fuji — from the West. January 8, 2006
Joseph Palmer

Just testing the new graphics size. I reserve the right to adjust the size of this photo at some time in the future. ^_^

Tue, 17 Jan 2006 17:48:45 PST - Link

January 16, 2006

'We the People' On C-SPAN

C-Span.org has the video up. (See the "RECENT PROGRAMS" section.)

Direct Link to Video. (Thanks to Kevin Drum at Wahington Monthly.

- Link

'We the People' Must Save Our Constitution

I hereby join Congressman Bob Barr in endorsing and identifing myself with this speech by Albert Gore. I ask all patriots to do the same.

'We the People' Must Save Our Constitution
by Al Gore
Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
Monday, January 16 2006 12:30 PM

Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over the years, but we have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger.

In spite of our differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.

It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.

So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.

On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to "take him off his pedestal." The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.

This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.

The result was the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would be presented to an impartial judge to verify that there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I voted for that law during my first term in Congress and for almost thirty years the system has proven a workable and valued means of according a level of protection for private citizens, while permitting foreign surveillance to continue.

Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States." The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program "without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection."

During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.

But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.

At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, "On Common Sense" ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to make certain that "the law is king."

Vigilant adherence to the rule of law strengthens our democracy and strengthens America. It ensures that those who govern us operate within our constitutional structure, which means that our democratic institutions play their indispensable role in shaping policy and determining the direction of our nation. It means that the people of this nation ultimately determine its course and not executive officials operating in secret without constraint.

The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and examined through the processes of government that are designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and checks the accretion of power.

A commitment to openness, truthfulness and accountability also helps our country avoid many serious mistakes. Recently, for example, we learned from recently classified declassified documents that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the tragic Vietnam war, was actually based on false information. We now know that the decision by Congress to authorize the Iraq War, 38 years later, was also based on false information. America would have been better off knowing the truth and avoiding both of these colossal mistakes in our history. Following the rule of law makes us safer, not more vulnerable.

The President and I agree on one thing. The threat from terrorism is all too real. There is simply no question that we continue to face new challenges in the wake of the attack on September 11th and that we must be ever-vigilant in protecting our citizens from harm.

Where we disagree is that we have to break the law or sacrifice our system of government to protect Americans from terrorism. In fact, doing so makes us weaker and more vulnerable.

Once violated, the rule of law is in danger. Unless stopped, lawlessness grows. The greater the power of the executive grows, the more difficult it becomes for the other branches to perform their constitutional roles. As the executive acts outside its constitutionally prescribed role and is able to control access to information that would expose its actions, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches to police it. Once that ability is lost, democracy itself is threatened and we become a government of men and not laws.

The President's men have minced words about America's laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the "kind of surveillance" we now know they have been conducting requires a court order unless authorized by statute. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act self-evidently does not authorize what the NSA has been doing, and no one inside or outside the Administration claims that it does. Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.

This argument just does not hold any water. Without getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says that they were told this probably would not be possible. So how can they now argue that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow implicitly authorized it all along? Second, when the Authorization was being debated, the Administration did in fact seek to have language inserted in it that would have authorized them to use military force domestically - and the Congress did not agree. Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Jim McGovern, among others, made statements during the Authorization debate clearly restating that that Authorization did not operate domestically.

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. But as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is to disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between President and Congress."

This is precisely the "disrespect" for the law that the Supreme Court struck down in the steel seizure case.

It is this same disrespect for America's Constitution which has now brought our republic to the brink of a dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution. And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties.

For example, the President has also declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation, and that, notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to argue that the President or his appointees have made a mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.

The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.

Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated. In the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators who documented the pattern of torture estimated that more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges.

This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of principles that our nation has observed since General Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War and has been observed by every president since then - until now. These practices violate the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own laws against torture.

The President has also claimed that he has the authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for torture.

Some of our traditional allies have been shocked by these new practices on the part of our nation. The British Ambassador to Uzbekistan - one of those nations with the worst reputations for torture in its prisons - registered a complaint to his home office about the senselessness and cruelty of the new U.S. practice: "This material is useless - we are selling our souls for dross. It is in fact positively harmful."

Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes" then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?

The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after analyzing the Executive Branch's claims of these previously unrecognized powers: "If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."

The fact that our normal safeguards have thus far failed to contain this unprecedented expansion of executive power is deeply troubling. This failure is due in part to the fact that the Executive Branch has followed a determined strategy of obfuscating, delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial branches to restore our constitutional balance.

For example, after appearing to support legislation sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of torture, the President declared in the act of signing the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with it.

Similarly, the Executive Branch claimed that it could unilaterally imprison American citizens without giving them access to review by any tribunal. The Supreme Court disagreed, but the President engaged in legal maneuvers designed to prevent the Court from providing meaningful content to the rights of its citizens.

A conservative jurist on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that the Executive Branch's handling of one such case seemed to involve the sudden abandonment of principle "at substantial cost to the government's credibility before the courts."

As a result of its unprecedented claim of new unilateral power, the Executive Branch has now put our constitutional design at grave risk. The stakes for America's representative democracy are far higher than has been generally recognized.

These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a radical transformation.

For more than two centuries, America's freedoms have been preserved in part by our founders' wise decision to separate the aggregate power of our government into three co-equal branches, each of which serves to check and balance the power of the other two.

On more than a few occasions, the dynamic interaction among all three branches has resulted in collisions and temporary impasses that create what are invariably labeled "constitutional crises." These crises have often been dangerous and uncertain times for our Republic. But in each such case so far, we have found a resolution of the crisis by renewing our common agreement to live under the rule of law.

The principle alternative to democracy throughout history has been the consolidation of virtually all state power in the hands of a single strongman or small group who together exercise that power without the informed consent of the governed.

It was in revolt against just such a regime, after all, that America was founded. When Lincoln declared at the time of our greatest crisis that the ultimate question being decided in the Civil War was "whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure," he was not only saving our union but also was recognizing the fact that democracies are rare in history. And when they fail, as did Athens and the Roman Republic upon whose designs our founders drew heavily, what emerges in their place is another strongman regime.

There have of course been other periods of American history when the Executive Branch claimed new powers that were later seen as excessive and mistaken. Our second president, John Adams, passed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts and sought to silence and imprison critics and political opponents.

When his successor, Thomas Jefferson, eliminated the abuses he said: "[The essential principles of our Government] form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation... [S]hould we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety."

Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Some of the worst abuses prior to those of the current administration were committed by President Wilson during and after WWI with the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids. The internment of Japanese Americans during WWII marked a low point for the respect of individual rights at the hands of the executive. And, during the Vietnam War, the notorious COINTELPRO program was part and parcel of the abuses experienced by Dr. King and thousands of others.

But in each of these cases, when the conflict and turmoil subsided, the country recovered its equilibrium and absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret.

There are reasons for concern this time around that conditions may be changing and that the cycle may not repeat itself. For one thing, we have for decades been witnessing the slow and steady accumulation of presidential power. In a global environment of nuclear weapons and cold war tensions, Congress and the American people accepted ever enlarging spheres of presidential initiative to conduct intelligence and counter intelligence activities and to allocate our military forces on the global stage. When military force has been used as an instrument of foreign policy or in response to humanitarian demands, it has almost always been as the result of presidential initiative and leadership. As Justice Frankfurter wrote in the Steel Seizure Case, "The accretion of dangerous power does not come in a day. It does come, however slowly, from the generative force of unchecked disregard of the restrictions that fence in even the most disinterested assertion of authority."

A second reason to believe we may be experiencing something new is that we are told by the Administration that the war footing upon which he has tried to place the country is going to "last for the rest of our lives." So we are told that the conditions of national threat that have been used by other Presidents to justify arrogations of power will persist in near perpetuity.

Third, we need to be aware of the advances in eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their capacity to sweep up and analyze enormous quantities of information and to mine it for intelligence. This adds significant vulnerability to the privacy and freedom of enormous numbers of innocent people at the same time as the potential power of those technologies. These techologies have the potential for shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of the state and the freedom of the individual in ways both subtle and profound.

Don't misunderstand me: the threat of additional terror strikes is all too real and their concerted efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction does create a real imperative to exercise the powers of the Executive Branch with swiftness and agility. Moreover, there is in fact an inherent power that is conferred by the Constitution to the President to take unilateral action to protect the nation from a sudden and immediate threat, but it is simply not possible to precisely define in legalistic terms exactly when that power is appropriate and when it is not.

But the existence of that inherent power cannot be used to justify a gross and excessive power grab lasting for years that produces a serious imbalance in the relationship between the executive and the other two branches of government.

There is a final reason to worry that we may be experiencing something more than just another cycle of overreach and regret. This Administration has come to power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to convince us that this excessive concentration of presidential authority is exactly what our Constitution intended.

This legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive but which is more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens to expand the president's powers until the contours of the constitution that the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition. Under this theory, the President's authority when acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked by Congress. President Bush has pushed the implications of this idea to its maximum by continually stressing his role as Commander-in-Chief, invoking it has frequently as he can, conflating it with his other roles, domestic and foreign. When added to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of war, the implications of this theory stretch quite literally as far into the future as we can imagine.

This effort to rework America's carefully balanced constitutional design into a lopsided structure dominated by an all powerful Executive Branch with a subservient Congress and judiciary is-ironically-accompanied by an effort by the same administration to rework America's foreign policy from one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority into one that is based on a misguided and self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the world.

The common denominator seems to be based on an instinct to intimidate and control.

This same pattern has characterized the effort to silence dissenting views within the Executive Branch, to censor information that may be inconsistent with its stated ideological goals, and to demand conformity from all Executive Branch employees.

For example, CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House assertion that Osama bin Laden was linked to Saddam Hussein found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases.

Ironically, that is exactly what happened to FBI officials in the 1960s who disagreed with J. Edgar Hoover's view that Dr. King was closely connected to Communists. The head of the FBI's domestic intelligence division said that his effort to tell the truth about King's innocence of the charge resulted in he and his colleagues becoming isolated and pressured. "It was evident that we had to change our ways or we would all be out on the street.... The men and I discussed how to get out of trouble. To be in trouble with Mr. Hoover was a serious matter. These men were trying to buy homes, mortgages on homes, children in school. They lived in fear of getting transferred, losing money on their homes, as they usually did. ... so they wanted another memorandum written to get us out of the trouble that we were in."

The Constitution's framers understood this dilemma as well, as Alexander Hamilton put it, "a power over a man's support is a power over his will." (Federalist No. 73)

Soon, there was no more difference of opinion within the FBI. The false accusation became the unanimous view. In exactly the same way, George Tenet's CIA eventually joined in endorsing a manifestly false view that there was a linkage between al Qaeda and the government of Iraq.

In the words of George Orwell: "We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded.

Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney attempted to defend the Administration's eavesdropping on American citizens by saying that if it had conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have found out the names of some of the hijackers.

Tragically, he apparently still doesn't know that the Administration did in fact have the names of at least 2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available to them information that could have easily led to the identification of most of the other hijackers. And yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this information, it was never used to protect the American people.

It is often the case that an Executive Branch beguiled by the pursuit of unchecked power responds to its own mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given still more power. Often, the request itself it used to mask accountability for mistakes in the use of power it already has.

Moreover, if the pattern of practice begun by this Administration is not challenged, it may well become a permanent part of the American system. Many conservatives have pointed out that granting unchecked power to this President means that the next President will have unchecked power as well. And the next President may be someone whose values and belief you do not trust. And this is why Republicans as well as Democrats should be concerned with what this President has done. If this President's attempt to dramatically expand executive power goes unquestioned, our constitutional design of checks and balances will be lost. And the next President or some future President will be able, in the name of national security, to restrict our liberties in a way the framers never would have thought possible.

The same instinct to expand its power and to establish dominance characterizes the relationship between this Administration and the courts and the Congress.

In a properly functioning system, the Judicial Branch would serve as the constitutional umpire to ensure that the branches of government observed their proper spheres of authority, observed civil liberties and adhered to the rule of law. Unfortunately, the unilateral executive has tried hard to thwart the ability of the judiciary to call balls and strikes by keeping controversies out of its hands - notably those challenging its ability to detain individuals without legal process — by appointing judges who will be deferential to its exercise of power and by its support of assaults on the independence of the third branch.

The President's decision to ignore FISA was a direct assault on the power of the judges who sit on that court. Congress established the FISA court precisely to be a check on executive power to wiretap. Yet, to ensure that the court could not function as a check on executive power, the President simply did not take matters to it and did not let the court know that it was being bypassed.

The President's judicial appointments are clearly designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as an effective check on executive power. As we have all learned, Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a powerful executive - a supporter of the so-called unitary executive, which is more properly called the unilateral executive. Whether you support his confirmation or not - and I do not - we must all agree that he will not vote as an effective check on the expansion of executive power. Likewise, Chief Justice Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion of executive power through his support of judicial deference to executive agency rulemaking.

And the Administration has supported the assault on judicial independence that has been conducted largely in Congress. That assault includes a threat by the Republican majority in the Senate to permanently change the rules to eliminate the right of the minority to engage in extended debate of the President's judicial nominees. The assault has extended to legislative efforts to curtail the jurisdiction of courts in matters ranging from habeas corpus to the pledge of allegiance. In short, the Administration has demonstrated its contempt for the judicial role and sought to evade judicial review of its actions at every turn.

But the most serious damage has been done to the legislative branch. The sharp decline of congressional power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as shocking as the efforts by the Executive Branch to attain a massive expansion of its power.

I was elected to Congress in 1976 and served eight years in the house, 8 years in the Senate and presided over the Senate for 8 years as Vice President. As a young man, I saw the Congress first hand as the son of a Senator. My father was elected to Congress in 1938, 10 years before I was born, and left the Senate in 1971.

The Congress we have today is unrecognizable compared to the one in which my father served. There are many distinguished Senators and Congressmen serving today. I am honored that some of them are here in this hall. But the legislative branch of government under its current leadership now operates as if it is entirely subservient to the Executive Branch.

Moreover, too many Members of the House and Senate now feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not in thoughtful debate of the issues, but raising money to purchase 30 second TV commercials.

There have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don't really know what an oversight hearing is. In the 70's and 80's, the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today.

The role of authorization committees has declined into insignificance. The 13 annual appropriation bills are hardly ever actually passed anymore. Everything is lumped into a single giant measure that is not even available for Members of Congress to read before they vote on it.

Members of the minority party are now routinely excluded from conference committees, and amendments are routinely not allowed during floor consideration of legislation.

In the United States Senate, which used to pride itself on being the "greatest deliberative body in the world," meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: "Why is this chamber empty?"

In the House of Representatives, the number who face a genuinely competitive election contest every two years is typically less than a dozen out of 435.

And too many incumbents have come to believe that the key to continued access to the money for re-election is to stay on the good side of those who have the money to give; and, in the case of the majority party, the whole process is largely controlled by the incumbent president and his political organization.

So the willingness of Congress to challenge the Administration is further limited when the same party controls both Congress and the Executive Branch.

The Executive Branch, time and again, has co-opted Congress' role, and often Congress has been a willing accomplice in the surrender of its own power.

Look for example at the Congressional role in "overseeing" this massive four year eavesdropping campaign that on its face seemed so clearly to violate the Bill of Rights. The President says he informed Congress, but what he really means is that he talked with the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate intelligence committees and the top leaders of the House and Senate. This small group, in turn, claimed that they were not given the full facts, though at least one of the intelligence committee leaders handwrote a letter of concern to VP Cheney and placed a copy in his own safe.

Though I sympathize with the awkward position in which these men and women were placed, I cannot disagree with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program.

Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election process, coupled with the sharply diminished role for reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized corruption.

The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government.

It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical transformation of the American system.

I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be.

But there is yet another Constitutional player whose pulse must be taken and whose role must be examined in order to understand the dangerous imbalance that has emerged with the efforts by the Executive Branch to dominate our constitutional system.

We the people are-collectively-still the key to the survival of America's democracy. We-as Lincoln put it, "[e]ven we here"-must examine our own role as citizens in allowing and not preventing the shocking decay and degradation of our democracy.

Thomas Jefferson said: "An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will."

The revolutionary departure on which the idea of America was based was the audacious belief that people can govern themselves and responsibly exercise the ultimate authority in self-government. This insight proceeded inevitably from the bedrock principle articulated by the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke: "All just power is derived from the consent of the governed."

The intricate and carefully balanced constitutional system that is now in such danger was created with the full and widespread participation of the population as a whole. The Federalist Papers were, back in the day, widely-read newspaper essays, and they represented only one of twenty-four series of essays that crowded the vibrant marketplace of ideas in which farmers and shopkeepers recapitulated the debates that played out so fruitfully in Philadelphia.

Indeed, when the Convention had done its best, it was the people - in their various States - that refused to confirm the result until, at their insistence, the Bill of Rights was made integral to the document sent forward for ratification.

And it is "We the people" who must now find once again the ability we once had to play an integral role in saving our Constitution.

And here there is cause for both concern and great hope. The age of printed pamphlets and political essays has long since been replaced by television - a distracting and absorbing medium which sees determined to entertain and sell more than it informs and educates.

Lincoln's memorable call during the Civil War is applicable in a new way to our dilemma today: "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

Forty years have passed since the majority of Americans adopted television as their principal source of information. Its dominance has become so extensive that virtually all significant political communication now takes place within the confines of flickering 30-second television advertisements.

And the political economy supported by these short but expensive television ads is as different from the vibrant politics of America's first century as those politics were different from the feudalism which thrived on the ignorance of the masses of people in the Dark Ages.

The constricted role of ideas in the American political system today has encouraged efforts by the Executive Branch to control the flow of information as a means of controlling the outcome of important decisions that still lie in the hands of the people.

The Administration vigorously asserts its power to maintain the secrecy of its operations. After all, the other branches can't check an abuse of power if they don't know it is happening.

For example, when the Administration was attempting to persuade Congress to enact the Medicare prescription drug benefit, many in the House and Senate raised concerns about the cost and design of the program. But, rather than engaging in open debate on the basis of factual data, the Administration withheld facts and prevented the Congress from hearing testimony that it sought from the principal administration expert who had compiled information showing in advance of the vote that indeed the true cost estimates were far higher than the numbers given to Congress by the President.

Deprived of that information, and believing the false numbers given to it instead, the Congress approved the program. Tragically, the entire initiative is now collapsing- all over the country- with the Administration making an appeal just this weekend to major insurance companies to volunteer to bail it out.

To take another example, scientific warnings about the catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming were censored by a political appointee in the White House who had no scientific training. And today one of the leading scientific experts on global warming in NASA has been ordered not to talk to members of the press and to keep a careful log of everyone he meets with so that the Executive Branch can monitor and control his discussions of global warming.

One of the other ways the Administration has tried to control the flow of information is by consistently resorting to the language and politics of fear in order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda forward without regard to the evidence or the public interest. As President Eisenhower said, "Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."

Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, "The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will."

A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the President.

Second, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing — especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.

Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed.

Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite for the restoration of the health of our democracy.

It is particularly important that the freedom of the Internet be protected against either the encroachment of government or the efforts at control by large media conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on it.

I mentioned that along with cause for concern, there is reason for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will be re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than ever. Indeed I can feel it in this hall.

As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."

Mon, 16 Jan 2006 17:29:17 PST - Link

January 15, 2006

Why The Internet Is Better Than Television...

Marine Diesels offers an absorbing tour below decks. The engineer in me loves the notion of pistons as big as coffee tables.

Sun, 15 Jan 2006 21:59:34 PST - Link

Cost of War Update

On January 5th I blogged a a press release on a soon-to-be-released paper that predicted the costs of the Iraq War. MaxSpeak has a .doc of the released paper.

Sun, 15 Jan 2006 19:05:54 PST - Link

To-do list update

Not much progress to report on my to do list except that I have been working on #7 — "Watching more Anime". I'm absolutley absorbed in the Mai Otome series, mad props to Adorable Rockets for the introduction.

P.S. I don't find the series as subversive as Rocket did, but I'd always choose a little innocent fan service over explicit violence any day.

Sun, 15 Jan 2006 13:07:34 PST - Link

On Being Green

Fed a generous helping of CO2-laden emissions, courtesy of the power plant's exhaust stack, the algae grow quickly even in the wan rays of a New England sun. The cleansed exhaust bubbles skyward, but with 40 percent less CO2 (a larger cut than the Kyoto treaty mandates) and another bonus: 86 percent less nitrous oxide.

After the CO2 is soaked up like a sponge, the algae is harvested daily. From that harvest, a combustible vegetable oil is squeezed out: biodiesel for automobiles. Berzin hands a visitor two vials - one with algal biodiesel, a clear, slightly yellowish liquid, the other with the dried green flakes that remained. Even that dried remnant can be further reprocessed to create ethanol, also used for transportation.

Algae - like a breath mint for smokestacks Christian Science Monitor

You can't get any greener than algae, can you?

Sun, 15 Jan 2006 12:53:27 PST - Link

January 13, 2006

Get Over It.

We are, simply put, in a state of ecological emergency," it read. "Constructing windmills six miles from Cape Cod, where they will be visible as half-inch dots on the horizon, is the least that we can do."


I hereby nominate that quote as the understatement of the century. There will be windmills there at the end of this century. Get over it.

Fri, 13 Jan 2006 16:56:58 PST - Link

January 9, 2006

Now That's Dedication

Sidekick Tattoo

I have to imagine getting this tattoo was nearly as painful as designing the Sidekick II was. From Boing Boing

Mon, 09 Jan 2006 03:58:38 PST - Link

January 5, 2006

Oh! Canada!

A 1 MW turbine with a 30% capacity factor produces about 2,600 MWh per year — enough to power about 320 homes.

Canadian Wind Energy Association

A 1MW turbine is roughly $1,000,000. If you divide by 320 homes, you're at $3125 per home. We spent near that on Corian Kitchen Counters. $3125 is a lot less than you'd spend on solar panels. But wait, the turbine lasts 20-25 years, and the mounting tower might well last for over 100 years with good care. $3125 for 20 years of clean, renewable electrical power. That's about $13 per month. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Thu, 05 Jan 2006 22:56:58 PST - Link

A Mighty Wind Resource

Wind Logistics has a great page of links to the wind power industry. They also suggest a google news search of "wind+energy", which leads to a surprising number of stories, most of them good news.

Thu, 05 Jan 2006 22:09:44 PST - Link

The Cost of War

A new study by two leading academic experts suggests that the costs of the Iraq war will be substantially higher than previously reckoned. In a paper presented to this week’s Allied Social Sciences Association annual meeting in Boston MA., Harvard budget expert Linda Bilmes and Columbia University Professor and Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz calculate that the war is likely to cost the United States a minimum of nearly one trillion dollars and potentially over $2 trillion.

TPM Cafe

That one trillion to two trillion dollars would have been enough to beef up the electricity grid and build enough windmills to provide all of the electricity used today by the USA. (I'm assuming a build-out capacity of 200% — half of the sites could be calm and we'd still have plenty of capacity.)

Don't you think that a clean, renewable electricity supply would have been a far better gift to give our children?

Thu, 05 Jan 2006 09:07:34 PST - Link

January 2, 2006

It's Only Natural (Gas)

Jean Laherrere takes a look at Forecasting Production From Discovery For both Oil and Natural Gas.

Mon, 02 Jan 2006 08:43:11 PST - Link

January 1, 2006

New Years To-Do List:

Here's my 2006 To-Do list. Some are resolutions, some are just things that I simply want to get done.

1) Refresh my website design. New design for the Homepage, and blogify and RSS enable the Fanfiction page.

2) Return Emails.I'm really bad about returning emails. I read them as they come in, but I often don't have time to respond when I first read them, and after a day or 10 they slip my mind.

3) Sell my old books. I have several hundred paperbacks in boxes in the garage. I'm going to catalog them and try to trade them in at the local used book stores. Anyone interested in 500+ high-tech thrillers?

4) eBay my Prom Programmer. I have an old Data IO in the garage, I really have no use for it these days. It can go.

5) Replace my desktop computer It's only an 800 MHz P3, and I'm still using a 20" Trinitron display. The cats like the warmth of the monitor, but I'm ready for an LCD. I'd really like a near-silent machine, so that I can record audio.

6) Play more guitar. I used to play for hours at a time, I really need to get my chops back. This is all part of the "Record Audio" thing.

7) Watch more anime. Sounds silly, but most evenings I sit on the couch, prowling the web on a laptop, while my wife watches her shows on the TV. Most of the time I ignore what's on the screen. Okay, Lost is really good, but other than that I don't really give my attention over to the storytelling. In preperation for this resolution, I've installed a DVD player and a low-power (FCC legal) FM transmitter for the audio upstairs, so now I can watch and episode or two in bed while wife reads. I sometimes wonder what the folks think when they come across the Japanese audio on 87.7 FM.

8) Finish Yellow (Jeez, how many years has this been on the list???) I've recently re-read the whole story to try to re-sync with the pace and feel, I was rather surprised that even though there may have been over a year between some chapters that the overall effect is still intact. The big problem is that this story would be much better animated, and all of the jumping around between groups of characters and sub-plots (Trying to get that anime feel) maks for difficult prose.

9) Produce podcasts of Summer and Winter I may even re-record Winter and Spring if I can get the recipe for recording down. I'm still not happy with the technical quality of the recordings, and reading them outloud has caused me to find many errors in the prose.

10) More and better Bloggage! I'm thinking the big topics in the blog for 2006 will be:

Oil and Natural Gas This is the year that Peak Oil goes mainstream. It might even push Aruba Girl off the front pages should the planned attack on Iran happen. (Say Hello to $200 Oil!)

The Mid-term elections I think the Republicans are desperate^2 to hold the House and Senate, the last thing they want is for the Democrats to take over the leadership the oversight committees with subpoena power. This one is going to be ugly-ugly-ugly.

The Economy The Dow closed down for the year in 2005, real wages for most Americans are down, the housing bubble has stopped bubbling, and the bills for Iraq are coming due. Look for the Administration to propose more tax cuts.

Sun, 01 Jan 2006 13:42:44 PST - Link


All of 2005 is now available in the history files. I've done an end-of year site backup—now I have to do some hand editing to roll over the site. One of these years, I'm really going to have to automate the end-of year. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Sun, 01 Jan 2006 09:27:15 PST - Link