Home / 2007 History

2007 History

December 29, 2007

Last Cat Blogging of 2007


Miko and Tory, 5 minutes ago.

Sat, 29 Dec 2007 11:34:28 PST - Link

December 24, 2007

Much Adieu About Bic Pens

Check out the reviews of the Bic crystal ballpoint pen at Amazon.co.uk

Bloody Brilliant!

Mon, 24 Dec 2007 11:43:17 PST - Link

December 21, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

T-chan of the JungleT-chan of the Jungle

Fri, 21 Dec 2007 09:12:25 PST - Link

December 20, 2007

Well, That Explains It.

And so part of our efforts is to convince others, one, the nature of the world in which we live; two, that we're in an ideological struggle; and three, we will prevail — because we've got the ultimate weapon against those who can't see anything but terror and murder as a way forward, and that is freedom.

G.W. Bush in today's press conference

Now we know why we have a Freedom shortage. It's being used as the ultimate weapon.

Thu, 20 Dec 2007 20:49:30 PST - Link

Time To Start Shopping For Another Guitar?

Palo Alto, CA — Business Wire — Danger, Inc. today announced that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of its common stock. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined.


Thu, 20 Dec 2007 13:17:57 PST - Link

December 19, 2007

That's Just Wrong On So Many Levels


Wed, 19 Dec 2007 08:59:49 PST - Link

On The Mortgage Mess

From 2000 to 2007 regulatory oversight of lending practices was so lax that there was effectively none. This means that lots of fraud was committed, and an even larger pile of bad loans are held by people who will never be able to pay them back. That money is gone, gone, gone and somebody is going to have to eat those losses. Simple as that.


I watch CNBC in the mornings, and for all the hours they've spent talking about the mortgage mess, they tend to put a spotlight one part of it at a time.

This article in Financial Sense University lays it all out in one place.


Shorter Mortgage Mess: We just spent the last seven years building ten years worth of houses.

Wed, 19 Dec 2007 07:46:08 PST - Link

December 14, 2007

Shopping List

We're having friends over for okonomiyaki tomorrow, so I thought I'd link to my Favorite Recipe

Ya gotta love a recipe that calls for "One Squid".

Fri, 14 Dec 2007 12:28:40 PST - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


Miko: Must you? Really? Do you really need to bug me with your stupid camera again?

Fri, 14 Dec 2007 07:34:25 PST - Link

December 12, 2007

Just In Time For Christmas - The Story Of Stuff.

The Story Of Stuff is short film about the stuff in your life. Where it comes from, how it was made, how it got to you, what you do with it, and where it goes when you're done with it.

Wed, 12 Dec 2007 08:39:50 PST - Link

December 8, 2007

I don't Believe In Coincidences

The story of NIE about Iranian nukes set a off a little alarm bell in the back of my brain. This morning I finally figured out what was tingling my spidey senses.

First a look at the NIE timeline from emptywheel at firedoglake.

July 2007: Intelligence community intercepts communications that verify claim Iran's nuclear program remains suspended; Senior Administration Officials briefed

August 2007: Bush claims he learned new intelligence exists

August 9: Bush substitutes the claim that Iran was seeking nuclear technology for earlier claim that they were seeking nukes. (h/t Froomkin)

There was another earth-shaking event in this time period. Karl Rove announced that he was leaving the White House

I blogged at the time about the reasons for Karl leaving.

This new information, that Iran — although lead by a bat-guano crazy leader* — was really no longer a threat to the USA might have set off quite a back-room brawl.

The temporal proximity of these events can't be a coincidence.

The third most powerful person in the administration (I'll leave it to you to decide the order of Bush and Cheney ) does not step down for no reason.

The question is now which camp Rove was in. Was he with the nuke'em anyways or among the maybe we should talks. I'm not really sure myself. Maybe it's just transference that makes me want to believe that he would have taken the Iranian NIE as good news. I would have.

Maybe the fight was about the release of the NIE? I'm not sure we'll ever know.

One thing I am sure of — His $3 million book won't give us the honest answer.

* Not surprisingly, the Iranians appear to have a curiously symmetrical opinion of our president.

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 13:10:32 PST - Link

December 7, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Star Wars Cosplay Edition

Tory James

Tory The Hutt: "Solo! Hay lapa no ya, Solo!"

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 07:56:27 PST - Link

December 4, 2007

Two More Patents

bringing the total to 5: [D484503] [7091957] [7107084] [7187364] [7224373]

Tue, 04 Dec 2007 07:53:01 PST - Link

November 30, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Miko, T-chan, Tory James

Miko, T-Chan and Tory James.

Fri, 30 Nov 2007 07:46:31 PST - Link

November 29, 2007

DSL Troubles

We've been having reliability troubles with out old DSL router - it has twice lost all of its set-up, and never did reboot properly from the web interface - but worst of all, it started to drop the line for no apparent reason, requiring a power cycle to bring it back.

A customer support call sent us to the ATT store, which had a replacement router, with wireless for $99.

Why am I blogging this? First, as a google searchable reference to when the new router was installed, and second because the ATT store has surprisingly great prices, and although the URL is pretty obvious, it's surprisingly difficult to locate.

Thu, 29 Nov 2007 09:04:16 PST - Link

November 28, 2007

Worst. Debate. Evah.

And not just because they did not take my question.

It was the worst because the top three threats to civilization were ignored.

That might be the fourth greatest threat to civilization.

Wed, 28 Nov 2007 22:32:08 PST - Link

November 26, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Monday Make-up Edition

Miko and Turkey

I just realized that I'd missed Friday Cat Blogging, so here's Miko at Thanksgiving Dinner.

UPDATE: Kyburg's started a LOLCAT contest for Miko! Check it out!

Mon, 26 Nov 2007 08:45:07 PST - Link

November 25, 2007

Youtube Debate Questions

CNN is running another YouTube debate, this time with the Republicans taking the questions. I submitted two versions of the same question, one within the 30 second recommended time, and a second that was a little bit over.

Peak Oil President (23 Seconds)

Peak Oil President (35 Seconds)

Here's some observations on doing a YouTube Debate Question

30 seconds is surprisingly short.

Once you've done your introduction up front, (3.5 seconds) and asked your question at the end (5 seconds) and take a breath or two, you've got about 20 seconds left.

20 seconds is enough time to mention something familiar: Global Warming, Social Security, Prayer in schools and so on... but it's not enough time to introduce an unfamiliar topic to the public.

I really wanted to fit in more facts, for example:

The United States of America peaked in Oil production in 1970. Not even the enormous finds in Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico were able bring us back.

The United States gets 12% of its oil from Mexico, but Mexico's largest field, Cantrell, is now in steep decline, and Mexico will go from a net exporter of oil to a net importer in the next presidential term.

10% of all of the worlds oil supply was used up - In Bush's first term.

Every giant oil field that has ever produced 1 Million Barrels per day has peaked and is now in decline.

I started thinking about this a month ago, here's my original script:

(Black screen)
(Sound of Basketball bouncing three times)
(dissolve to Questioner holding basketball and a salt shaker)
Let's talk about oil.
Supposing this basketball were the Earth,
how much oil do you think there would be?
One shake? Two? Three?

(Questioner salts the basketball)
(sound of game show buzzer BZZZT!)

The answer is that a single crystal of salt...

(zoom to photomicrograph of single crystal of salt on basketball)

Questioner: represents more than the entire one-time endowment of oil to the world. That's it. That's all we've got.

(dissolve to questioner:)
Full sized, that cube would be a little more than 4 miles on a side. Sounds a lot better that way, doesn't it? Except - we've already used up half of it.

With the first half, we've built our great cities and towns, and the roads and the highways between them. We built the sprawling suburbs, with thier strip malls, and big box discount stores. We built cars, trucks and SUVs to take us from place to place.

We used the first half of the oil to build an America that runs on oil.

My question for the candidates is this: How shall we use the second half of the oil?

Unfortunately, that little production would have run quite past the 30 second mark.

Sun, 25 Nov 2007 14:50:20 PST - Link

November 19, 2007

How I Spent My Birthday.

Over the weekend, my wife's Linux machine shuffled off its mortal coil.

Since it's for her busines sand she needed it today, we replaced it with a nice quad core machine from Central Computer. The motherboard claimed compatibility with the new processor, but when we got the kit home, assembled it, and fired it up, there was a uCode error, indicating that we'd need a new BIOS.

Well... This lead no needing to make a bootable floppy disk for the installation of the 1 MB image. Small Problem. A floppy formatted in windows boots fine, except it leaves less than 1 MB of space, so the BIOS update image will not fit. This lead to a search of how to create a bootable CD ROM- easy enough to do if you have the ISO image, (Thanks Google!) so we burned one, and all looked well, we had the boot image on the CD, and the installer and the .ROM file on the floppy, but for some reason the installer complained that the disk it was on did not contain a valid boot block. I'm not sure why it should care, but it did. (I suspect its related to preventing a virus from bricking the motherboard.)

Anyway. Many boots ensued. A floppy drive was replaced. A floppy created from the DOS command line was tested. Nothing we tried seemed to work. so about 3 hours into this we gave up for the day.

Since there was a new board in the house, I just had to find the solution. A search for "BIOS too big for floppy" lead back to the instructions for making a minimal bootable disk, which we had tried earlier, but without success.

As I was reading the instructions, I began to think about the "unnecessary files" that XP installs on a bootable floppy. Probably drivers for keyboards and mice and... USB...

Sure enough. The new machine was using a USB keyboard, and DOS predates USB, and the floppy would not boot unless a standard keyboard was connected to the keyboard connector. Being a two engineer family, of course we had a spare standard keyboard around. We plugged it in, and punched in the floppy - Success! It now booted with the update image and utility on the same disk with a valid boot block.

5 minutes of nail-biting and hoping the power would stay on later the machine had a new BIOS.

And that's how I spent the afternoon of my 50th Birthday.

Mon, 19 Nov 2007 07:54:40 PST - Link

November 18, 2007

And So This Is 50...

A few random thoughts about the last 50 years

There were only two satellites orbiting Earth on the day I was born. One contained dead batteries, and the other a dead dog. I believe there has been at least one satellite in orbit every day of my life.

In the day I was born, the first integrated circuit was over two years in the future.

The artifact I've owned for the longest period of time is a woodworking plane given to my by my grandfather when I was 4 or 5 years old. I still use it.

I've spent the night in Canada, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Japan, Taiwan, China, Thailand, Australia, Ireland, England, France, Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In the US I've visited or lived in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

On my bornday 50 years ago there were 2.888 billion other folks on Earth. Today there are 6.762 billion. There will be less than 6.762 billion 50 years from now.

I've been alive 50 years, or 18,262.5 days, or 438,300 hours, or 26,298,000 minutes, or 1.577 billion seconds. Now get off my lawn.

Sun, 18 Nov 2007 15:51:36 PST - Link

November 16, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

The Boys

Miko, T-chan, Tory James

Fri, 16 Nov 2007 07:22:47 PST - Link

The New Board Dance

New Board Dance!
New Board Dance!
Er'y body 'gotta do 'dat New Board Dance!

Sun, 18 Nov 2007 15:55:28 PST - Link

November 12, 2007

The Ballad Of Joe And The New Guitar

Epiphone Casino

Late summer I began looking to buy myself (another) guitar. I'm not a collector or anything, but 30 years ago I worked in a Music Store and picked up a few inexpensive used instruments, most of which are hanging on a wall as decorations. Most were purchased as sub-$200 substitutes for the instruments I really wanted.

The confluence of the Dell acquisition and an impending decade-number birthday led me back into the rather scary world of Guitar stores. My first target was a new acoustic guitar. I've always wanted a Gibson J-200. It's the big and bright sounding guitar of Pete Townsend, and Ian Anderson, and Bob Dylan, and more musicians than you can shake a baton at. So - I played a few. Most were spectacular, but — none really said "take me home." At home I have a small body Gibson B-25 that I bought $185 in 1976. The finish is all checked, and there's a small crack in the top, and the last time I took it in for fret repair, the luthier wanted to crack it open and replace the top braces because it's bowing a bit at the bridge. I didn't elect for that kind of invasive work because I like the way it sounds as is.

Being an engineer, I decided that the the way to convince myself I really needed a J-200 was to play it against my B-25. Ooops. Funny thing about old guitars. They get better with age. I packed up my B-25 and took it to Guitar Showcase and for a couple of hours went back and fourth between it and a selection of J-200s. There was one J-200 that was a teeny bit better, and one that was significantly worse. The J-200s they had in stock were great instruments, but I was looking for something more than that. I was looking for an instrument that would inspire me to play more, and learn new old songs, or to maybe, finally, write some. In the end, I just couldn't do it. I bought a new case for my old friend the B-25, and left without a new guitar.

Casting my nets further, I decided to look into a new electric guitar. I have an old Stratocaster. It came to me in pieces, with all of the paint scrapped off (Again in 1976, and for less than $200.) It's an old instrument, but it doesn't sound or play much different from the more recent inexpensive Squire versions. Again, I was looking for something different, and inspiring.

My next target was the Parker Fly. It's a very modern instrument. The neck is made of basswood wrapped in carbon fiber, and it has active electronics and both humbuckers and piezo pickups in the bridge. It's a nice, light guitar, but...

I really was hoping to get more of an acoustic sound from the piezos, and maybe it was just the amplifier I was using, but I just was not hearing a lot of difference between the pickups and the piezos. Also, the neck was somehow not to my liking. It felt cold and lifeless. Worst, for some reason the guitar would not stay in tune. Now maybe it was just that one, but it just didn't work for me.

I can't place exactly how I came to pick my next target. I wasn't really interested in a "solid body with two humbuckers and a tunamatic bridge" for my next guitar. Back at Henri's Music there was this older jazz player who came in all the time and had occasionally bought a few pieces; A nice full-body Jazz guitar and a very powerful combo amp which was perfect for him when set to about "3". One day he was going though the used guitars and picked out an Epiphone hollow body electric - I don't recall 30 years later if it was a "Dot" or a "Casino" or some other similar model, but after a half hour he declared it the best guitar in the store, and left with it.

I suppose that memory is what got me looking at the Epiphone catalog, which lead to the history of the Casino model, which, as it turns out, figures prominently in the Beatles. I had a new target. I spent a couple of days on the web looking at models and prices, waiting for a spare moment to play one in a store. There were three trim options: The standard Casino model from Japan, then an Elite model, with USA upgraded electronics and set up, and a special "Revolution" version, which is trummed out in the USA and is a replica of John Lennon's guitar.

Last Friday came the news that the Haight Ashbury Music Store in Sunnyvale was having a close-out sale, so on Saturday I went down to try and find myself a Casino.

When I asked Ash to try the Revolution, he looked at me with puppy-dog eyes and said "You're not going to buy my favorite guitar in the store are you?" After bout 15 minutes I had to give him the bad news. His favorite guitar had curled up on my lap and asked me to take it home. Ash didn't feel too bad in the end. I promised him it was going to a home where it will be loved and played. Many of this model have apparently be picked up to be displayed in Lennon memorabilia - I think John himself would have wanted it to be played.

It wasn't what I started out to find, but in the end it's exactly what I needed. The tone is part way between an electric and an acoustic, so it's different from my other "good" guitars. (I have some real junkers) It's different enough to inspire me to play things I wouldn't try on my other guitars. The neck is comfortable and alive, and being a true hollow-body, even without an amp it has enough volume to practice. And the P-90 Pickups? Pure Beatles!

I hadn't planned to get the Revolution model, (I had targeted the Elite) but I'm now in love with it, and re-discovering my love of John Lennon's music.

Mon, 12 Nov 2007 08:56:44 PST - Link

November 9, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Swiss Cat

Friendly Hotel Cat, Interlaken, Switzerland.

Fri, 09 Nov 2007 06:50:20 PST - Link

November 8, 2007



I passed a big milestone on a project last night, (more like 04:30 in the morning,) so now I'll have more quality time to do things that have been put off for some weeks. Like looking at my Swiss Pictures.

These paratroops were dropped over the Matterhorn.

Thu, 08 Nov 2007 09:22:55 PST - Link

November 3, 2007

Periodic Comet Holmes Blogging

Periodic Comet Holmes

This is the view of Periodic Comet Holmes from our driveway. Unfortunately its in the direction of greatest light pollution (AKA midtown San Jose). A 15 second exposure shows clear tracks of the nearby starts.

Sat, 03 Nov 2007 20:19:57 PDT - Link

November 2, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory and T-chan

T-Chan and Tory

Fri, 02 Nov 2007 07:43:35 PDT - Link

October 30, 2007

Shaken - Not Stirred.

5.6 according to the USGS. I was in a restaurant in Sunnyvale, and I distinctly felt the P-waves through my foot as a vibration in the 3-8 Hertz range before the arrival of the S-waves which were several seconds of slow rolling, punctuated with the sound of a single cup falling off a shelf and crashing to the floor in the kitchen. There was a short pause, then anther slow roll.

At home, one of the cordless phones fell over, and the 2 liter Diet Cokes in the fridge tipped over. In my wifes office, the TV slid out (it's on top of a set of shelves) but was caught by the earthquake straps. All of the bookshelves in the house are strapped to the walls. No damage.

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 22:30:07 PDT - Link

October 29, 2007

Light, In The Dark.

For one thing, there isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it's not an ideology; it's a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn't. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Paul Krugman

Here we are again. The drumbeat of war is in the air, and while you may find a journalist or two who will try to put some scale scale to the 'Islamofascist' threat, it takes Krugman to point out that there's no such thing. It's all positioning. It's all a message designed to pass though the belly of the 24 hour news beast wholly intact.

And so it leads to this:

And Mike Huckabee, whom reporters like to portray as a nice, reasonable guy, says that if Hillary Clinton is elected, 'I'm not sure we'll have the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country's ever faced in Islamofascism." Yep, a bunch of lightly armed terrorists and a fourth-rate military power — which aren't even allies — pose a greater danger than Hitler's panzers or the Soviet nuclear arsenal ever did.

All of the Republican (and most of the Democratic) candidates for president are talking like this — like TERRORISM is the WORST thing we will EVER FACE.

They are so wrong.

When the Clinton administration briefed the incoming Bush security people they told them that they will be spending more time on Bin Laden than any of the other issues they were thinking about.

I will predict here and now, that the next president will be spending more time dealing with the effects of peak oil than they will on Islamofascist terrorism.

The most terrifying thing in this world today is that the candidates for the leadership of the free world are ignoring the big problems - peak oil, overpopulation, and global climate change, while focusing their attention on a much smaller issue.

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 12:54:32 PDT - Link

Heckofa Job, Pat.

CNN reports that John "Pat" Philbin, the Director of Public Affairs responsible for FEMA's recent faked news conference, is effectively receiving a promotion. PRNewser was notified by an email which said that Philbin's new job was an "amazing opportunity to head the communications shop at ODNI."

Raw Story

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 08:30:32 PDT - Link

October 26, 2007

UN Global Environmental Outlook 4

The speed at which mankind has used the Earth's resources over the past 20 years has put "humanity's very survival" at risk, a study involving 1,400 scientists has concluded.

The environmental audit, for the United Nations, found that each person in the world now requires a third more land to supply his or her needs than the Earth can supply.

Times Online

"The human population is now so large that the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available at current consumption patterns," Achim Steiner, the executive director of the program, said in a telephone interview. Efficient use of resources and reducing waste now are "among the greatest challenges at the beginning of 21st century," he said.

The International Herald Tribune

With its Geo-4 report, the United Nations tells us that most aspects of the Earth's natural environment are in decline; and that the decline will affect us, the planet's human inhabitants, in some pretty important ways.


[The BBC is hosting a .pdf of the full 572 page Global Environmental Outlook 4 report]

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 08:46:23 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 26 Oct 2007 07:43:30 PDT - Link

October 25, 2007


Oil closed at $90.46 today. Even my cats are worried.

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 12:58:01 PDT - Link

Speaking The Unspeakable

As for motherhood — the fertility of the human race — we are getting to the point where you simply can't discuss it, and we are thereby refusing to say anything sensible about the biggest single challenge facing the Earth; and no, whatever it may now be conventional to say, that single biggest challenge is not global warming. That is a secondary challenge. The primary challenge facing our species is the reproduction of our species itself.

Global over-population is the real issue

I've been calling peak oil, global climate change, and over-population the three greatest threats to civilization. The solution to the first two - a lower energy lifestyle and economy - is actually appealing to me. I grew up in small town America, where there was a strong sense of community, and kids walked to school (uphill both ways, into the wind, during blizzards). The solutions to overpopulation are far less appealing.

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 12:58:01 PDT - Link

October 24, 2007

Chris Skrebowski On Alarming New Peak Oil Report

Chris Skrebowski, editor of the UK Petroleum Review, speaks with GPM's Julian Darley about the remarkable new oil report from the German-based Energy Watch Group, which states that world oil production peaked in 2006 and will decline by half as soon as 2030.

Global Public Media

This interview is startling. Chris Skrebowski researches Oilfield Megaprojects, (Adding up the public information on production capacity plans and infrastructures) and to date he has estimated that the peak of production will be a few years off, in 2011.

In this interview he finds the data, research, and claims in the Energy Watch Group report [.pdf] to be credible, including the claim that world oil production already peaked in 2005.

The discussion starting at 25:25 is startling.

"Now if we look at things like the OPEC website, we find that there's virtually no declared projects over 2010, beyond 2010, there's a couple in Iran and that's it. Now, even if they know about it, if they haven't started appointing contractors, if they haven't started doing the engineering - one thing and another - then we're looking at the far side of 2012.


So we're already seeing (sort of) holes appear where there should be projects.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 08:29:16 PDT - Link

Study: Carbon Output Rising Faster Than Forecast

Oh, I'm just a fountain of good news today...

Scientists warned last night that global warming will be "stronger than expected and sooner than expected", after a new analysis showed carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than predicted.

Guardian [UK]

I was not able to locate the actual article, but here's the Global Carbon Project's Press information page.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 08:29:16 PDT - Link

October 23, 2007

Bush has WWIII on the mind.

I understand the concept of "imprinting," and have seen it in action. What is clear from the president's remarks is that, far from an innocent rhetorical fumble, his words, and the context in which he employed them, are a clear indication of the imprinting which is taking place behind the scenes at the White House. If the president mentions World War III in the context of Iran's nuclear program, one can be certain that this is the very sort of discussion that is taking place in the Oval Office. [Emphasis added - J.]

On The Eve Of Destruction Scott Ritter in truthdig

Tue, 23 Oct 2007 08:56:03 PDT - Link

October 21, 2007

Steep decline in oil production brings risk of war and unrest, says new study

World oil production has already peaked and will fall by half as soon as 2030, according to a report which also warns that extreme shortages of fossil fuels will lead to wars and social breakdown.

The German-based Energy Watch Group will release its study in London today saying that global oil production peaked in 2006 - much earlier than most experts had expected. The report, which predicts that production will now fall by 7% a year, comes after oil prices set new records almost every day last week, on Friday hitting more than $90 (£44) a barrel.

Guardian [UK]

This is why you are seeing those commercials from the major oil companies.

This is what the next president will have to deal with.

The world is very, very fortunate that Bush cannot run again.

Update: The report is available here. [.pdf]

Sun, 21 Oct 2007 20:18:16 PDT - Link

October 19, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging


Miko: Did you know that the November contract for Crude oil hit $90.07 overnight?
T-Chan: I do now.
Miko: Aren't you worried?
T-Chan: Not Really.
Miko: But what if it's a cold winter?
T-Chan: No problem. I'm wearing a fur coat.

Fri, 19 Oct 2007 08:37:10 PDT - Link

October 18, 2007

RSS Fixed.

Thanks to Sam Ruby on the feedvalidator-users list, I was able to upgrade my feed to include the atom:link element.

I'm still having some backstage issues with the rel="self", since I generate a temporary feed file, and ask the feed validator to check it before I post it to the world, and, of course, the temp file URL does not match the final URL.


But still, embedding the feeds URL in the feed data is a good idea. I just wish it would have been simpler. My Really Simple Syndication file has taken a step towards Reletively Simple Syndication.

Thu, 18 Oct 2007 09:34:42 PDT - Link

October 17, 2007

Feed Validator Foibles

For some reason the Feed Validator has begin throwing a warning against my RSS 2.0 Feed:

line 1298, column 0: Missing atom:link with rel="self"

Thanks guys, but I don't think it's an error that my RSS 2.0 feed does not contain an atom element! I know there is a portion of the web community that wants to depreciate the vastly simpler RSS in favor of the precise, if verbose atom format, and maybe if I had a spare 100 hours, I'd write an atom feed generator. But in the meantime, I'll have to ignore your warning.

I do think it is a good idea to embed the source URL of the RSS file into the file itself, but I have yet to figure out a way to do it without violating the RSS 2.0 Spec.

The validator seems extra slow today. Perhaps I'm not the only one running into this issue and bouncing different feeds against it.

Wed, 17 Oct 2007 09:03:52 PDT - Link

October 17, 2007

The Anti-Seldon Strikes Again

President Bush's choice for heading family planning programming within the Department of Health and Human Services is a critic of birth control.

"Susan Orr, most recently an associate commissioner in the Administration for Children and Families, was appointed Monday to be acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs," reports the Washington Post. "She will oversee $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings."

Bush taps birth control critic to head family planning programming — Raw Story

Of course he would. Of course he would decide to put someone opposed to family planning — perhaps the most effective anti-poverty, pro-democracy policy a government can have — in charge of family planning.

This one really grabs my girtch. Overpopulation is one of the big three threats to civilization, and Bush's response is to do his best to prevent effective family planning. Once again, when faced with the choice of doing what's best for civilization, and following his belief in things without evidence, he's chosen what's worst for civilization.

Worst. President. Ever. (And getting worse.)

Wed, 17 Oct 2007 08:10:05 PDT - Link

October 15, 2007


That's where the oil contract for November 2007 closed today. Remember I used to worry about the oil price when it reached $50? This morning on CNBC all the experts were calling for $100 oil — by the end of this year.

The experts are all blaming supply and demand, focusing on the demand side. None mentioned that conventional oil peaked in 2005, and the supply side of the equation is now driven more by geology than by economics.

Did you see 60 minutes last night? The show content was a bit of a yawn, but the Chevron commercial was riveting. They are spending big bucks to be able to say "We told you this was coming".

Mon, 15 Oct 2007 12:48:27 PDT - Link

October 13, 2007

OH! Look! Shiny Things!

I'm sure if Al Gore heard the same crap on the radio I heard yesterday he'd let loose one of those trademark sighs.

Every program seemed to be dedicated to his chances of running for president. None that I heard mentioned the Important Thing, which is that the world is literally in peril, and trying to get people to be aware of it was what the prize was all about.

Ironic, isn't it. He wins the Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness of global climate change, but that was the last thing on the minds of the talk show hosts and call-in guests.


Sat, 13 Oct 2007 09:44:49 PDT - Link

October 12, 2007

Quid Pro Quo

I suggest the following deal. If the Telecoms want this....

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Wednesday that he will not sign a new eavesdropping bill if it does not grant retroactive immunity to U.S. telecommunications companies that helped conduct electronic surveillance without court orders.

Associated Press via Yahoo

I say we give it to them. In exchange we (The People) demand Net Neutrality, now and in perpituity.

Thu, 11 Oct 2007 12:40:11 PDT - Link

Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize

There will be plenty of media coverage on this today. Fortunately, my Tivo is off line until my replacement hard drive arrives, so I won't need to be exposed to the right wing whining about "what's global warming got to do with peace?". Well, idiots, think about entire countries going underwater. By 2100. Think about a billion people in Asia who will lose their water supply when the glaciers melt away. Do you think the people in the low countries will take to boats an moor themselves to their chimneys? Do you think the people who lose their fresh water supplies will calmly sit and watch their children die?

I do not envy the job the next president will face.

The next president will be the first to serve their term post-peak oil. Every year of the next president's term there will be less oil on the market than the year before. It's going to be hard to do the 'happy-happy' dance when people are in gas lines, or when the first American town loses their natural gas pressure in February.

The next president will serve in a time where the effects of global warming will not be measured by lasers from space, but by backyard rain gauges.

The next president will face the stark realities of overpopulation.

There is speculation that winning the Nobel Peace Prize may tip Gore back into the presidential race. I suspect he would have to be dragged, kicking and screaming back into the White House, where he would have to drag us, and the rest of the world into the inevitable future, made bleaker and more distant by Bush, Inc.

Fri, 12 Oct 2007 08:17:47 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


Meöw! Barn Cat, Zermatt Switzerland.

Fri, 12 Oct 2007 08:17:47 PDT - Link

October 11, 2007

Got Ice?

Sea Ice

The Arctic sea ice is disintegrating "100 years ahead of schedule", having dropped 22% this year below the previous minimum low, and it may completely disappear as early as the northern summer of 2013. This is far beyond the predictions of the International Panel on Climate Change and is an example of global warming impacts happening at lower temperature increases and more quickly than projected. What are the lessons from the Arctic summer of 2007? www.carbonequity.info

The decrease in both extent and thickness suggests that the summer sea ice has lost more than 80 per cent of its volume in 40 years. When the sea ice thins to around half a metre in thickness, it will be subject to even more rapid disintegration by wave and wind action.

The Big Melt: lessons from the Arctic summer of 2007 [.pdf]

Graphic: Carbon Equity

Thu, 11 Oct 2007 12:32:22 PDT - Link

October 10, 2007

My Last Car?

The Aptera looks like the car I'd build, if I built cars. (But I hope they know more about car design then they do about web design. Less glitz, more data, please.)

Wed, 10 Oct 2007 08:04:41 PDT - Link

October 9, 2007

It's Too Late To Prevent Serious Damage From Climate Change.

TONY JONES: So, where does it put us in terms of where we thought we were? For example, I know that if we have exceeded that threshold, that threshold wasn't meant to come for some years, was it?

TIM FLANNERY: That's right. We thought we'd be at that threshold within about a decade, we thought we had that much time. But the new data indicates that in about mid 2005 we crossed that threshold. So as of mid 2005, there was about 455 parts per million of what's called carbon dioxide equivalent. And that's a figure that's gathered by taking the potential of all of the 30 greenhouse gases and converting them into carbon dioxide potential, so we call it CO2 equivalent.

Flannery discusses greenhouse gas levels ABC [Australia]

I'll just juxtapose the news of passing this grave threshold with this...

Is there anything that could sensibly be described as welfare that the rich can now gain? A month ago the Financial Times ran a feature on how department stores are trying to cater for "the consumer who has Arrived". But the unspoken theme of the article was that no one arrives - the destination keeps shifting. The problem, an executive from Chanel explained, is that luxury has been "over-democratised". The rich are having to spend more and more to distinguish themselves from the herd: in the United States the market in goods and services designed for this purpose is worth £720bn a year. To ensure that you cannot be mistaken for a lesser being, you can now buy gold-and-diamond saucepans from Harrods.


Is it not time to recognise that we have reached the promised land, and should seek to stay there? Why would we want to leave this place in order to explore the blackened wastes of consumer frenzy followed by ecological collapse? Surely the rational policy for the governments of the rich world is now to keep growth rates as close to zero as possible?

In this age of diamond saucepans, only a recession makes sense George Monbiot

Christmas Displays are already up at the local Lowes. It seems like half the vacant buildings in town have been converted into Halloween super stores for the month. Think of this article next time you see an "Inflatable Ghost Tunnel" or Santa Airplane, or giant snow globe other such examples of consumer crap. They are each incredible waste of irreplaceable resources designed to burn energy just to maintain their shape.

Tue, 09 Oct 2007 09:10:36 PDT - Link

October 5, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Swiss Cat

"Your Move."


"HIT! You sunk My Battle Cat!"

Swiss Navy Cat, Mürren Switzerland

Fri, 05 Oct 2007 08:20:39 PDT - Link

September 30, 2007

Is Bush The Anti-Seldon?

I posted this short rant over at theoildrum.com but I thought I should reproduce it here:

I just finished re-reading Azimov's Fountation Trilogy, and I'm sometimes taken with the notion that Bush is the anti-Seldon.

Hari Seldon invented the mathmatics of Psychohistory, and first discovered that the empire would fall, and if nothing were done the universe would suffer 30,000 years of war and misery. He developed a detailed plan that would reduce these 30,000 to a mere 1,000.

It seems like every step the Bush administration takes, from the economy, to Iraq, to the environment, to energy and coming soon, to Iran, is as carefully calculated as the fictional Seldon plan, but in this case the plan is to tear apart the social fabric of our civilization. Every policy tilts away from obvious, demonstratable facts. Every policy leads us farther away from the inevitable future. Every policy allocates resources in ways guaranteed to make the shift to a post peak oil world a longer, harder and bleaker path.

</rant> I need more coffee. "It's latte, then you think!"

Sun, 30 Sep 2007 14:38:54 PDT - Link

Some Days Social Commentary Is 90% Proximity

Item 1: Bush prepares to bomb Iran before end of termItem 2: Actual headline: Chimp not a person, Court rules

From fark.com

Sun, 30 Sep 2007 10:59:13 PDT - Link

September 29, 2007

No Newts

CNN is just now reporting that Newt Gingrich will not seek the presidency in 2008.

I'm of two minds about this. First, there is great relief that he won't be president. The very last thing civilization needs is for the United States to elect another president who petulantly places his personal beliefs above measurable facts. My relief is twinged with a little whistfullness, since it was going to be such a giggle making fun of his rediculous positions (on nearly everything).

Newt running would also have been good for my health. Nothing gets my cardio up like listening to him extol the virtues of 'personal choice' and 'personal responsibility' when talking about issues like health care and social security. On one hand his rhetoric places the individual on a pedestal, stripping them of the advantages of the collective good, (or as the founding fathers would call it, "Government") and on the other he supports the growth of economic and political of private corporations to the point where they are no longer answerable to We The People.

Take health care. Newt wants the power of individual choice to take the lead in moderating drug costs. I can just hear that conversation now:

Hello? Glaxo-Smith-Kline? Yes. I'd like to talk to you about lowering my drug prices. 102,862,111 people ahead of me? Sure, I'll hold.

Yes Newt, like that's going to work.

Mind you, I think I'd have a chance if it were just Glaxo, or Smith, or Kline, I could take them. But as it is, it's three on one, and I don't have much of a chance.

Which brings me to another point. Why is it that Newt supports corporations 'marrying' willy-nilly, but he's opposed to giving individuals that same right? GlaxoSmithKline - think about it. Any way you slice it that's at least two of the same, right? Besides, Isn't that corporate polygamy? Shouldn't Newt be opposed to corporate polygamy?

I saw Newt do one of his debates. He had this great anecdotal story about how some friend had found a much cheaper source for some home medical device, but his insurance required him to buy it from a more expensive source. Newt told this story to illustrate how bad universal health care would be. It was a stirring tale, but he left out one critical detail. He never told us if the insurance company he was lambasting was public (Medicare, VA) or private. I'm guessing if it had been a government he'd have remembered that detail. As it was, he left the question open. I expect promoting private over public doesn't work so well if you let on that the example you are using against public was in fact committed by a private, for-profit corporation.

Pointing out these little inconsistencies would have been fun, but after the 2004 election I'm not convinced that enough of the American public could be fooled again.

The next president will be walking into a very different world, a world where the big problems will be overpopulation, declining energy resources and rising sea levels. Newt is singularly unqualified to lead the world in such troubled times. He's a man with a hammer, in a reality without nails. Good riddance.

Sat, 29 Sep 2007 11:04:57 PDT - Link

September 28, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Field Cat

Field Cat near Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Fri, 28 Sep 2007 08:51:11 PDT - Link

September 27, 2007



Water Fountain in Zürich, 2007.09.27

Thu, 27 Sep 2007 08:49:38 PDT - Link

September 22, 2007

Thoughts On Traveling In Switzerland.

This isn't so much a travelogue as a collection of thoughts I had while on the trip...

We couldn't find a direct flight from SFO to Zürich - the best option was to fly non-stop Frankfurt Germany and take a 35 minute flight to Zürich, then a train to our first hotel in Interlaken. Stopping in Washington DC would have taken us well out of our way (great-circle route wise), and added hours to the trip.

Flying 11 hours in steerage still really sucks. I thought this a lot during the 11 hours.

I took 1846 photos - with the camera in RAW + JPG mode to net 10.7 GB of files.

The Nikkor 18-200 VR lens is superb, if a little heavy. My only real complaint is the 'zoom creep' — when it's hanging on the strap over my shoulder the lens will tend to extend on it's own. This is a known issue with this lens.

The near instant-on feature of the Nikon D70s was critical to getting many photos. If you're picking a new camera, you should keep this in mind.

It was cloudy all the way to Germany, and only cleared up as we got over Switzerland.

From the air, Northern Switzerland was a patchwork of towns and villages, farm fields, and forests. Beautifully green!

There was a passport check in Zürich, but they just glanced at our passports. I was kind of hoping for an entry stamp.

There is a proper, major train station under the Zürich airport. We in the USA could learn from this. This is a subject for another rant, but I firmly believe that regional electrical rail will be critical to keeping the economy going in this now post-peak oil world. It was comforting and frustrating to experience the Swiss rail system. Comforting because rail travel, when done right, is simply better than air travel. I'm really looking forward to the day when I can catch a train the way we did there. Frustrating because the USA is so backwards in comparison - and we are still moving in the wrong direction. We're not going to need more highways and expanded airports when the amount of oil we have to burn keeps going down for the rest of time.

The Swisspass is wonderful. You can just hop on most trains and show it when they come around to check tickets. No waiting in line. No security checks. Just pick a car and settle into an empty seat, and off you go. (Some seats are reserved, look for a tag above the windows.) We splurged for 1st Class Passes.

I simply can't emphasize how pleasant rail travel is in Switzerland.

I don't sleep on planes. I dozed off for an hour on the way to Interlaken.

The trains are electric, and stunningly quiet. In Zermatt, I was standing 4 feet from one in the station. I stopped to mess with my Sidekick, and when I looked up the train was gone. I hadn't even heard it move.

We traveled with a backpack and a 22" roller bag each. On most trains, you can put your bags in the overhead rack, or between the back-to-back seats. On the scenic trains, there is room at the ends of the cars for your roller bags.

Most stations have ramps so you can change platforms without carrying your roller bags on stairs. (Except Thalwill, where we had to take stairs over the tracks.)

The First class cars were mostly empty, and people tended to speak in hushed tones. I've been in noisier churches.

Meals are more expensive in Switzerland. Almost twice what you'd expect to pay in the US. The meals, including lunches are also HUGENORMOUS.

Things close up at 6:00 to 6:30 (Except a few shops near the stations) and many stores are closed on Sundays. Plan ahead for this.

Switzerland, or at least the places we visited, seemed to be geared toward older tourists. There were a few 20-somethings in the cities but out in the mountains it was mostly 30+.

The Swiss love mountain hiking. Every train the headed to the mountains was packed with locals wearing well-broken in hiking boots and waking poles. We felt under dressed without hiking boots.

Many of the locals in those great boots were 65+. There's nothing like getting off a train with a couple of white haired ladies who then proceed to leave you in the dust. Uphill.

The Swiss dress more like Americans than any other nation I've visited in Europe. Jeans and tennis shoes (trainers) everywhere.

I saw 3 pickup trucks (of any type) in all of Switzerland. Yes, I counted. I saw a total of 5 Prius'. In comparison, saw 4 full size cow statues that were painted blue.

Most of the farms we passed were growing hay for the cows. The farms were incredibly neat and tidy. American farms are are frequently populated with rusting cars or trucks or farm implements. Swiss farms are populated with ancient, tiny hay barns with flower boxes.

Yes, they put cowbells on the cows.

Real cowbells do not make that damped "Tonk" sound found on "Don't Fear The Reaper" - they are more musical in tone.

A small herd grazing sounds like a big wind chime, and can be heard from nearly a kilometer away.

Montreux felt the way I wanted Monaco to feel. Monaco was unpleasantly busy and noisy, Montreux was simply friendly and comfortable.

Our hotel in Montreux, the Eden Palace, was next to the rebuilt Casino. The old Casino burned down in 1971, as immortalized in Deep Purple's Smoke On the Water, and yes, that song is part of the reason we stayed in Montreux.

Before we left there was a link on Drudge Report to a story talking about the immigration policies a far right party in Switzerland, which mentioned a poster of 3 white sheep kicking a black sheep out of the group. In all of Switzerland I saw the poster in two places, in the Genèva train station, and the Zürich train station (Where it had been vandalized with a swastika. I have a photo, but I won't be publishing it.) From the news story, you'd think the poster was all over.

My Sidekick III seemed to randomly from carrier to carrier, locking out the GPRS coverage. VERY FRUSTRATING. I didn't have that trouble in France with my Sidekick II. Danger should send a team of testers to Interlaken for a couple of weeks. Maybe it was because they dropped the 900 MHZ band support that the Sidekick II had.

Wife's Sidekick iD didn't work at all in Europe. It didn't even occur to me that they had dropped the 1800 MHz band as a cost savings. I guess the "International Roaming" you can sign up for means Canada, eh?"

Sat, 22 Sep 2007 09:16:44 PDT - Link

September 21, 2007

Friday Swiss Cat Blogging

Street Cat In Montreux, Switzerland

Friendly wall cat in Montreux, Switzerland. (2007.09.12)

We're back, but still pretty jet-lagged. I've got several hundred photos to go through, but depending on my work schedule, it may be a month before I have a full photo gallery ready.

Fri, 21 Sep 2007 09:13:15 PDT - Link

September 20, 2007

Thursday Matterhorn Blogging

The Matterhorn From Zermatt Switzerland

The Matterhorn from Zermatt Switzerland. Nikon D70s, 18-200VR 2007.09.16

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 20:35:16 PDT - Link

September 14, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory JamesTory James

Fri, 14 Sep 2007 08:06:35 PDT - Link

September 7, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging


Fri, 07 Sep 2007 08:13:23 PDT - Link

September 6, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ranma

By my calculations, it was 20 years ago today that the first episode of Ranma 1/2 ran in Shonen Sunday #36.

I had grand plans to have finished Yellow by today, but real (and sometimes surreal) life got in the way. The good news is that I have been working on it. The bad news is that I started it sometime in 1999. The good news is that I have a chance to finished it before it is 10 years old.

I suppose one need only read the other posts in today's blog to understand why it has been difficult to get into writing a farcical romance.

Thu, 06 Sep 2007 22:35:54 PDT - Link


On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam's inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.

Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD.

Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction By Sidney Blumenthal in Salon

Thu, 06 Sep 2007 08:38:05 PDT - Link

... And Effect

As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn't want to seem like a baby. I didn't want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.

Leaving Home... By riverbend

The story of the singular act of falsifying WMD intelligence has been told many times before, but seldom in such detail.

The detailed story of a single Iraqi family leaving their homes because of the war is seldom told, but has happened to hundreds of thousands of families.

Thu, 06 Sep 2007 08:38:05 PDT - Link

September 4, 2007

Ice Cap Collapse

The Arctic ice cap has collapsed at an unprecedented rate this summer and levels of sea ice in the region now stand at record lows, scientists have announced.

Experts say they are "stunned" by the loss of ice, with an area almost twice as big as the UK disappearing in the last week alone.


If the increased rate of melting continues, the summertime Arctic could be totally free of ice by 2030.

Guardian [UK]

Just a few few months ago the predictions for an ice free arctic were for the 2100 range. Now it's likely to happen in my lifetime. If you have kids, they are likely to spend most of their lives on a planet without a summer ice-cap.

If you still have doubts about global warming, give a listen to the Electric Politics podcast of Anthropogenic Climate Change with Dr. Chris Rapley, "until recently head of the British Antarctic Survey and now moving to be the head of the British Science Museum."

Tue, 04 Sep 2007 12:40:56 PDT - Link

September 2, 2007

History May Not Repeat Itself, But It Does Rhyme A Lot*


THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians' military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for "pinprick strikes" against Iran's nuclear facilities. "They're about taking out the entire Iranian military," he said.

Next, from The New Yorker

They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this-they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."

Then there's this — from 2003

Was the case for war, then, "a fraud, made up in Texas" for political advantage, as Sen. Kennedy has charged? Recall the comment White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card made last fall, when asked why the President was pressing his case for war just before the congressional elections. "You don't roll out a new product in August," Card replied. Around the same time, Jonah Goldberg, a gung-ho supporter of the war, reported in his syndicated column that Presidential adviser Karl Rove was giving Republicans "power-point presentations" on the advantages of the war to the GOP. Those political advantages may not be all that motivated the President to beat the war drums as he did, but the White House was surely aware of them and willing to exploit them.

Rewriting History by Jack Kenny at LewRockwell.com

Sun, 02 Sep 2007 10:23:34 PDT - Link

September 1, 2007

Craig's Comments.

Thanks to Senator Crag's (R-closet) police record, we all now know the signs that the guy in the next stall is trying to make contact. You'd think that somewhere along the way, as a public service, we would have been given the counter-sign for "not my thing". Craig's proposal was brought to a screeching halt when the man he was trying to pick up produced a badge, and a business card showing that he was a policeman. I suppose in the same situation I could rifle my wallet for my membership in the Democratic party and try a little humor to defuse the situation...

"Sorry - I don't go for that kind of thing — I'm a Democrat. I have always been a Democrat. Always. Well... Okay. There was that one time in school I voted for a Republican, but I was young, and still trying to work out my political orientation. I was all alone in the voting booth and..."

I'm unconvinced of Craig's comment about having a "Wide Stance". I'm not a small guy either, and when I'm on the commode, my stance is restricted by both my pants and underwear. It's unfortunate that his mug shot isn't full length — he must have been wearing M.C. Hammer pants in order to have enough stance to have his foot violate the next stall. [Hammertime!]

Sat, 01 Sep 2007 09:32:03 PDT - Link

August 31, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory and Miko

Tory and Miko, sharing the laundry pile. That spot on Miko's nose? We think he caught a claw from one of his brothers while practicing cat sumo.

Fri, 31 Aug 2007 08:35:36 PDT - Link

August 28, 2007

I Have A Bad Feeling About This...

Plesch and Butcher examine "what the military option might involve if it were picked up off the table and put into action" and conclude that based on open source analysis and their own assessments, the US has prepared its military for a "massive" attack against Iran, requiring little contingency planning and without a ground invasion.

Study: US preparing 'massive' military attack against Iran

"Little contingency planning"?!?!?!?! Yeah, right. Like that served us SO well in Iraq.

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

"The US retains the option of avoiding war" — somehow, I'm not comforted by those words. I have the Bad Feeling™ that once again the facts will be fixed around the policy, and Bush's policy is to bomb Iran.

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 08:45:16 PDT - Link

August 27, 2007


Methinks the Democrats should immediately hop back to DC to re-start the Senate session. The last thing this country needs is for Bush to make a recess appointment of the replacement of the Attorney General. (Unless, of course, the fix is already in, and the Dems have agreed to trade Cheney, and right of first refusal on a VP replacement, for a first round AG pick.) This is getting interesting, and more than a little spooky.

Mon, 27 Aug 2007 12:55:35 PDT - Link

Alberto Gonzales Pleads Guilty To Dogfighting Charges - Or Something Like That.

Not sure I caught the gist of the fractured news this morning on CNN, but from what I've gathered the Important Story™ of the day involved torturing dogs, the (soon to be) former Attorney General, the president, the NFL, and the Justice department. Apparently after serving his prison term, Gonzales will once again become eligible for the NFL draft, assuming he finds religion while in rehab. No dogs were harmed in the writing of this blog entry.

Mon, 27 Aug 2007 12:33:07 PDT - Link

August 25, 2007

Everything Old, Made New

Lehmans has a website, which is a bit, odd since they sell the sort of things that appeal to the kind of people who have no use for the internet. Things like Shoulder Yokes (handmade by an Amish craftsman) and matching wooden buckets, Enterprise Monarch Ornate wood cook stoves, and my favorite, the Home Queen Wringer Washer (Made in Saudi Arabia!?!?!?!)

Sat, 25 Aug 2007 09:52:18 PDT - Link

August 24, 2007

Friday Big, Wet Cat Blogging


Swimming Tiger at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Fri, 24 Aug 2007 08:35:42 PDT - Link

August 23, 2007

Fresh Inrellef Gaue Formal Attire Make Centraliry

Sign in Shopping Mall, Shenzhen China

Sign in Shopping Mall, Shenzhen China

Thu, 23 Aug 2007 21:09:49 PDT - Link

US Patent 7224373

US Patent 7224373

US Patent 7224373 makes four.

Wacky Indeed!

Thu, 23 Aug 2007 09:04:09 PDT - Link

August 19, 2007

Actual Fortune


Sun, 19 Aug 2007 09:01:54 PDT - Link

August 17, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 17 Aug 2007 07:56:59 PDT - Link

A Week Without Blogging

I started the year blogging every day for a month, and here in the summer doldrums I'm pretty much down to cat pictures once a week.

And what a week it was. I worked all of last weekend to get a project out, which finished just in time to dive into something else. Ah, life in a start-up.

Fri, 17 Aug 2007 07:56:59 PDT - Link

Nature Thinks A Vacuum Sucks.

As for the big political news of the week, Karl Rove leaving the Whitehouse, I've had a few thoughts:

— Rove was incredibly powerful in the administration, his leaving will open a dangerous vacuum.

— I wonder who will step in to fill that vacuum?

— Did he jump, or was he pushed?

— If he was pushed, who did the pushing? Was it Cheney? The neocons?

— Did he leave because he lost a fight about Iran? It seemed like the rhetoric had cooled in the past few months, then days after he announced, the administration began to rattle the sabers.

— Did he leave because he doesn't want to be around if/(when?) Bush takes action against Iran?

— Rove is making his exit just in time to take a nice vacation, then dive into the '08 elections. I wonder who's been calling him?

— Worst Case Scenario? Rove goes to work for Newt Gingrich. The last thing this nation needs is another president who does not believe in governing.

Fri, 17 Aug 2007 07:56:59 PDT - Link

August 10, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory James

Tory - ready to travel.

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 22:56:32 PDT - Link

August 9, 2007


Ice Cap

Today, the Northern Hemisphere sea ice area broke the record for the lowest recorded ice area in recorded history. The new record came a full month before the historic summer minimum typically occurs. There is still a month or more of melt likely this year. It is therefore almost certain that the previous 2005 record will be annihilated by the final 2007 annual minima closer to the end of this summer.

The Cryosphere Today

This Photo is made up of today's image and an image from 10 years ago today.

Thu, 09 Aug 2007 20:33:14 PDT - Link

August 6, 2007

FYI: Dell Plans to Acquire ZING Systems Inc.

ROUND ROCK, Texas - (BUSINESS WIRE) - Dell announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire privately-held ZING Systems Inc., a consumer technology and services company that focuses on always-connected audio and entertainment devices. In a move that reflects the renewed interest and energy being directed at its Consumer business, Dell plans to use ZING and its capabilities to continue improving the entertainment experiences it provides its customers.

Terms were not disclosed, and the purchase will not be final until all closing conditions are met. ZING is based in Mountain View, CA.

Nuf' Said.

Mon, 06 Aug 2007 20:55:17 PDT - Link

August 4, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Catterday Edition



Sat, 04 Aug 2007 09:09:21 PDT - Link

July 31, 2007

Now It's Global Dimming?

You know all that smog? Well, maybe it was helping to moderate global climate change from greenhouse gases. This BBC documentary on Global Dimming suggests that cleaning up the air might be making the world warmer.

Tue, 31 Jul 2007 21:49:23 PDT - Link

July 27, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory in Tub

Tory James smugly claims the bathtub.

Fri, 27 Jul 2007 08:27:15 PDT - Link

July 24, 2007

The YouTube Debate

1) It was better television. Anything that helps gets more voters watching is a good thing.

2) There is a huge difference between getting a hypothetical question from a journalist about gay marriage, and getting a question from two very real human beings who ask why they can't have the same marriage rights as everyone else. This was a question that could not be asked by proxy, it required the standing of the real people who were being wronged. Full marks for the question, unfortunately all of the candidates except Kucinich answered poorly.

3) The questions were frequently brilliant. Some were quite silly, some were dumb, but some were brilliant. I challenge you to look back to any previous debate and compare the questions. I suspect part of this is because with over 3000 questions to choose from, there were bound to be many that were very artfully posed.

4) It's time to vote Gravel off the island. Not that he wouldn't be much better president than Bush, it's just that he's never going to win. Sorry.

5) The feel of this debate was looser, there was more kidding around which gives us a better view of the whole persons who wish to become President. Joe Biden showed off his wicked sense of humor, which made me like him all the more. I already knew he was smart and thoughtful, but that wit would make for a very formidable President.

6) I'm not taken by Clinton, but it's just that she's so smart, and so polished that she never needed to struggle. She's almost too qualified. I'll get over it, we're going to need a very smart president to get us out of this mess.

7) Anderson Cooper was perfect for this roll. His joking with Kucinich was great fun, but Kucinich missed his cue to say to Anderson; "I thought you were great on 'The Mole'".

Tue, 24 Jul 2007 09:10:54 PDT - Link

July 22, 2007

I Got Nuthin....

Nara JapanRickshaws in Nara, Japan. 2001.11.21 Nikon E990

Sun, 22 Jul 2007 17:15:41 PDT - Link

July 20, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Hogwarts Edition


Fri, 20 Jul 2007 08:16:17 PDT - Link

July 17, 2007

"What I Discovered Shocked Me"

I am a Major in the United States Army. When looking at this report for the first time, one may legitimately ask why an Army officer is writing about energy issues. The genesis for this project began many months ago when I was conducting research for a project related to the development of the future force in the US Army. I believed it was important to include an effective assessment of what the world might look like in the year the force was projected to complete its initial fielding (2030). So I set out to discover what some of the best minds in the world had to say about what the world might look like 20-plus years from now. Specifically, I intended to examine population growth, food production, water availability, and energy supplies. What I discovered shocked me.

Just under the radar of general public visibility a campaign has been waged for the past five or six years by geologists, scientists, economists, and former oil company executives to educate and inform all who would listen concerning serious supply issues related to the world’s primary energy source: crude oil. Like most people, I had never heard of the term "peak oil" before 2003, and had not given any thought to the possibility of what might happen if the supply of oil were to plateau and subsequently decline. After reading literally hundreds of sources on the subject and interviewing some of the key figures in the field, my eyes were indeed opened.

On the Precipice: Energy Security and Economic Stability on the Edge — Daniel L. Davis

Mr Davis' report [.pdf 530K, 39 pages] is the best summary of the peak oil issue I've ever seen. I simply cannot urge you enough to read this.

Really. Seriously. Read. This. Report.

Tue, 17 Jul 2007 07:18:55 PDT - Link

July 16, 2007

Are these the last days of the Oil Age?

Oil ruled the 20th century; the shortage of oil will rule the 21st. There is now no doubt about the rising trend in oil prices. In 2003 a barrel of Brent crude sold for $29; in 2004 it rose to $38; in 2005 it rose to $54.50; in 2006 it rose to $65. Last Friday the price closed at $77.50. Some dealers expect it to test the $80 level quite shortly.

Times Online [UK]

Sun, 15 Jul 2007 23:35:02 PDT - Link

Holy Crap. The Wall Street Journal Discovers Peak Oil!

World oil and gas supplies from conventional sources are unlikely to keep up with rising global demand over the next 25 years, the U.S. petroleum industry says in a draft report of a study commissioned by the government.


Houston investment banker Matthew Simmons takes a pessimistic view. He believes the world should be preparing for sharply lower oil production. He points out the NPC study didn't squarely address one important issue raised by Mr. Bodman in requesting the study: the point at which global oil production will plateau and then begin to decline, often referred to by the shorthand term "peak oil."

"We should be preparing for a time when, in 10, 15 or 20 years, oil production is likely to be 40 million barrels a day to 60 million barrels a day, not 120 million," he said.

Wall Street Journal

Sun, 15 Jul 2007 23:35:02 PDT - Link

July 15, 2007

The Obesity Epidemic

Robert Lustig: I've heard those same concerns you know, why, if we have so many calories why aren't we fatter. Well there are a few reasons why that might be. I do want to mention that the American food industry produces 3,900 calories per capita per day. We can only eat 1,800 calories per capita per day. In other words the American food industry makes double the amount of food that we can actually use. Who eats the rest? We do, through this mechanism, they actually know that by putting fructose into the foods that we eat, for instance pretzels — why do you need fructose in pretzels, why do we need fructose in hamburger buns? [emphasis added - J]

ABC Ausralia

This is a fascinating article, pointing to fructose as a primary driver in the obesity epidemic.

Of course, fructose was invented in 1966, and was introduced into soft drinks in 1980. It was introduced as a lower-cost substitute for beet or cane sugar.

The food industry is, if course, vigorously disputing the research.

Once again we see that corporate profit trumps human welfare.

Sun, 15 Jul 2007 08:42:02 PDT - Link

July 14, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Saturday Edition


Cousin Oberon

Sat, 14 Jul 2007 10:15:22 PDT - Link

A Few Words

I wrote this on the plane last week, while traveling to Minneapolis for a memorial to my mom.


Of Cabins, Lakes, and Sky

On a day like this, but it was night.
In a place like this, but that's not right.
There was no moon, yet it was bright.
Perhaps I'd best recount the sight.

      Beyond the cabin's window glow,
        boats slumbered in the silent flow.
      Sleepy waves embraced the docks,
        and kissed the shell-strewn sand.

      I wondered later of that whim,
        that set her to an evening swim.
      Perhaps it was the fragrant breeze,
        perhaps the cormorant's call.

      The stars were bright as times ago,
        in summers when the ice did flow.
      That day was hot, and the water sweet,
        as warm as mother's arms.

      A summer breeze came up in time,
        and whispered secrets in the pine.
      She swam alone that summers 'eve,
        with water and the stars.

      But suddenly the sky went bright,
        she gasped aloud as if in fright.
      But wonder was her mood that night,
        and now I shall recount the sight.

      Stabbing South from Northern climes,
        in green and blue and wavy lines,
      Arora's hues did fill her heart,
        and take her breath away.

      "Come look, come see!" she called aloud,
        hoping soon to draw a crowd.
      Arora played to her that night,
        there was no second act.

      Arora took a curtain call,
        a sight that I can still recall,
      To see her fill her stage with light,
        and yet the show had ended.

Of bandages upon skinned knees,
   and Christmas presents we received,
Of snowmen tall, and autumn leaves
   and castles great, and sprouting seeds...

From garden reef to mountain grand,
   to southern cross and temple sand.
The creaking of her rocking chair,
   the glow of silver in her hair...

No gold could buy, no hand could thieve,
   the treasured gift I did receive.
And all these things I now perceive,
   for wonder was her gift to me.

Of Cabins, Lakes, and Sky — Joseph Palmer — July 2007

Yeah, I'm no Robert Frost. It doesn't quite scan right, sorry.

But it really happened. I was there. It was Floyd Lake, and it happened something like 35 years ago. It must have been the remnants of a solar flare, by the time I was out of the cabin the main event was over.

Sat, 14 Jul 2007 10:15:22 PDT - Link

July 12, 2007

Mexico's Oil Production is Collapsing


Production from Mexico's Cantarell field is collapsing, and production from new fields are not making up the difference. It appears very likely that Mexico has permanently passed its peak oil production. On top of that, domestic consumption is rising, creating the classic Export Land effect: declining production and rising domestic consumption equal accelerated declines in exports. Taxes from these export revenues generate the largest share of revenue for the federal government. Recent reductions in the tax rate that the government applies to PEMEX, the state oil company, shows that this key source of revenue is failing. The collapse of Mexican oil production has been extensively discussed elsewhere-here it is only my aim to highlight this as a component in the collapse of the Mexican Nation-State, and the positive feedback loops between the two events.

Mexico: A Nation-State Dissolves? — Jeff Vail at The Oil Drum

Mr. Vail has put together a devastating look into the future of Mexico.

The White House knows about this, and has put their Top Men on it:

ARLINGTON, Virginia - KBR announced today that its Government and Infrastructure division has been awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to support the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency. KBR is the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton (NYSE:HAL).


The contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs. The contingency support contract provides for planning and, if required, initiation of specific engineering, construction and logistics support tasks to establish, operate and maintain one or more expansion facilities.

The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other U.S. Government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster. In the event of a natural disaster, the contractor could be tasked with providing housing for ICE personnel performing law enforcement functions in support of relief efforts.


Thu, 12 Jul 2007 09:28:32 PDT - Link

July 11, 2007

What Part Of "High Crime" Don't You Understand?

WASHINGTON - President Bush ordered former counsel Harriet Miers to defy a congressional summons, even as a second former aide revealed new details Wednesday about administration dismissals of federal prosecutors.


Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress—

Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

TITLE 18, PART I, CHAPTER 73, 1505. Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees

That's a bald felony, committed by the President of the United States.

Impeachment is SO on the table — we're gonna need more tables.

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 15:36:14 PDT - Link

Money Week Sees The Dark

With global economic growth of 4.5% a year forecast, the IEA estimates that oil demand will hit 95.8m barrels a day by 2012, from 81.6m barrels a day this year. But at the same time, oil cartel Opec's production is expected to fall 2m barrels a day by 2009, while non-Opec supply will be down 800,000.

Lawrence Eagles, the refreshingly plain-speaking head of the IEA's oil industry and markets unit told The Telegraph: "The results of our analysis are quite strong. Either we need to have more supplies coming on stream or we need to have lower demand growth."

Money Week

Money Week is responding to the July 2007 International Energy Agency (EIA) Report (PDF Link to Wall Street Journal site)

Rep. Bartlett Peak Chart

If course, this information has been available to anyone with a web browser and an open mind for over two years. This chart is from Congressman Roscoe Bartlett's Special Order Speech OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL given in the House of Representatives, April 20, 2005.

Take a close look at the chart. Prior to this report, the IEA always assumed that the Earth would magically step up meet any and all demand with exponentialy more oil. This report is the first time that the IEA has publicly recognized that Demand might outstrip supply.

I wonder if it will take two more years for the IEA to recognize that the peak of conventional oil occurred in May, 2005, and that the crash of production in Cantarell (the worlds third largest producing feild) means that the world has well and truly peaked.

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 08:30:12 PDT - Link

July 10, 2007

Oh, BTW, Impeachment Is 100% On The Table.

Just thought you'd like to know.

"It'll take too long." is no excuse. This country is angry about a number of things, and it's time for some accountability.

Tue, 10 Jul 2007 13:33:30 PDT - Link

Objects In Mirror Are Further Than They Appear

Matthew R. Simmons, head of Simmons & Company International, a Houston-based energy investment bank, doesn't just believe that peak oil has already happened. He told EnergyTechStocks.com that in another year or so the world will wake up and say — in Simmons' words - "Oh, damn. We peaked in May 2005."

Simmons believes the world hit peak oil back in May 2005 because that's when production at the world's second biggest oil field — the Cantarell complex in Mexico — started a precipitous decline, which several observers have since attributed largely to mismanagement by Mexico's state oil enterprise.


Tue, 10 Jul 2007 13:33:30 PDT - Link

July 6, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging


Miko and Tory

Fri, 06 Jul 2007 21:28:44 PDT - Link

July 4, 2007

They Hate Us For Our Net Neutrality

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to abandon net neutrality and allow telecoms companies to charge websites for access.

The FTC said in a report that, despite popular support for net neutrality, it was minded to let the market sort out the issue.

This means that the organisation will not stand in the way of companies using differential pricing to make sure that some websites can be viewed more quickly than others. The report also counsels against net neutrality legislation.


How ironic that I came across this on July Fourth. In the week that "We The People" celebrate our independence and freedom, an agency of our no longer representative government has decided that individual freedom and choice shall take a back seat to corporate profit and greed.

Chances are, when you listen to the radio, or go to a movie, or watch TV, or buy a book, or read a newspaper or buy a CD, the content is owned by one of the big six media companies, and now they want the same control over the (US) internet.

The ISPs want to sell your eyes to the top six. They want to turn the internet into just another conduit between your wallet and their bottom line.

Don't believe the fast lane argument. It's about building toll roads to their content, adding roadblocks and potholes to free content.

ZDnet provides more:

"In the absence of significant market failure or demonstrated consumer harm, policy makers should be particularly hesitant to enact new regulation in this area." — FTC Chair Deborah Platt Majoras

The reason, Ms. Platt Majoras, that there is an absence of significant market failure, is that we have defacto net neutrality today. The regulations you warn against will codify that working, open, market condition.

But that's the problem, isn't it. In the Neocon view of the world, in this case the absence of significant market failure is a significant failure in itself. Like a waterwheel in a still pond, there is no profit in a flat playing field. Higher profit for the ISPs will require a gradient, and big media will share a little of their purse for a bigger percentage of eyeball time.

We've already seen Newton Minnow's prediction of a Vast Wasteland* come true for television and radio. I'm not hopeful for the outcome should we let the massive media corporations place toll booths on the internet.

* Some people claim it's only half-vast.

Wed, 04 Jul 2007 09:44:04 PDT - Link

The unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

My US Flag

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Wed, 04 Jul 2007 07:56:33 PDT - Link

July 3, 2007

Tuesday Rat Blogging - or - Do Two Injustices Make a Justice?

LOYALTY - Be good to the king, and he will be good to you.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby was found guilty on four counts of obstruction of justice by a jury of his peers, and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, a fine of US$250,000, and two years of supervised release.

But Bush II decided that wasn't right. Libbey had served his court loyally, and such loyalty must be rewarded. The US justice system — the one for you and me — tried him and found him guilty. In our names, and by the power of the constitution, and in the name of justice, he was to serve time in prison for his crime.

In commuting Libbey's sentence, justice is obstructed again.



Such lovely symmetry.



Tue, 03 Jul 2007 09:07:22 PDT - Link

June 29, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 29 Jun 2007 09:05:18 PDT - Link

8 Reasons Joe Hasn't Blogged This Week

#8 I have a summer cold, and find I don't have the energy to get up a good rant, or even come up with something funny to write about it.

#7 If Dick Cheney can claim that he's not part of the executive branch all week, I can claim that I'm not part of the blogoshere this week.

#6 The Matt Savinar (.mp3) interview on Coast to Coast with Art Bell made me want to hide in the corner and shiver. ( Matt Savinar is the Defcon 1 alert where it comes to Peak Oil)

#5 I'm pouting because Paris was let out of jail and no one told me. (Except every "news" show that broke into their coverage of other fake "news" to cover it.)

#4 Oil hit $70 per Barrel. They think it's related to Paris being released from jail.

#3 I'm spending all of my time scouring the interwebtubes for any news about the iPhone. Why isn't anyone talking about it? Shouldn't this be a bigger story? Shouldn't it be on TV or something?

#2 The Immigration bill has been put off until 2009, and my crack staff of undocumented bloggers has stopped writing in protest.

#1 A Computer virus set my clock back to 1950, and I figured I didn't have to blog because blogging wasn't invented yet. The same virus hit the Supreme Court this week and they ruled against affirmative action because Brown vs The Board Of Education hadn't been tried yet. (Don't open robertsalitoscaliathomaskennedy.exe)

Fri, 29 Jun 2007 09:05:18 PDT - Link

June 22, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 22 Jun 2007 08:01:50 PDT - Link

June 19, 2007

RTE Covers Peak Oil

Peak Oil hit the news big time here in Ireland last night and was discussed by every single person that I met today both young and old. Most went to bed after about 40 minutes as they were too depressed....

goinghome in The Oil Drum Comments

See the program (Real Format) at RTÉ ONE Television.

This program is superb, deep in content and facts.

Tue, 19 Jun 2007 21:49:52 PDT - Link

June 15, 2007

BusinessWeek discovers Peak Oil

Peak oil refers to the point at which world oil production plateaus before beginning to decline as depletion of the world's remaining reserves offsets ever-increased drilling. Some experts argue that we're already there, and that we won't exceed by much the daily production high of 84.5 million barrels first reached in 2005. If so, global production will bump along near these levels for years before beginning an inexorable decline.

What would that mean? Alternatives are still a decade away from meeting incremental demand for oil. With nothing to fill the gap, global economic growth would slow, stop, and then reverse; international tensions would soar as nations seek access to diminishing supplies, enriching autocratic rulers in unstable oil states; and, unless other sources of energy could be ramped up with extreme haste, the world could plunge into a new Dark Age. Even as faltering economies burned less oil, carbon loading of the atmosphere might accelerate as countries turn to vastly dirtier coal.

GIVEN SUCH UNPLEASANT possibilities, you'd think peak oil would be a national obsession. But policymakers can hide behind the possibility that vast troves will be available from unconventional sources, or that secretive oil-exporting nations really have the huge reserves they claim. Yet even if those who say that the peak has arrived are wrong, enough disturbing omens-for example, declining production in most of the world's great oil fields and no new superfields to take up the slack-exist for the issue to merit an intense international focus.


It's certainly become a bit of an obsession with me, and here's why:

That "84.5 million barrels [per day] first reached in 2005" is also the last time the world pumped 84.5 million barrels of oil. It's been ever so slightly downhill from there.

Mind you, there have been two-year dips in oil production before, but in those cases it was either a matter of supply following demand — less oil is purchased during recessions — or a matter of supply being cut for political reasons.

What's happening now, and for the rest of history, is that while the economic rules of supply and demand will continue to apply to the demand side, the supply side of oil is moving from economics to geology, and the rocks don't lie.

There is a once in a planets lifetime endowment* of liquid batteries buried under the ground. We've used about half of it to create a civic infrastructure of suburbia, cars and freeways, and food from thousands of miles away. We've also used it to erode our public transit systems, our railways, and turn our ports and warehouse districts into tourist destinations accessible only by automobile.

Now smart people, of good schooling and good intentions will happily tell you that the economy will simply and seamlessly shift to other sources of energy, but they are missing the scale of the problem. Today when we want energy, oil is like going to the grocery store to pick a box of corn flakes off the shelf. For alternative energy, you need to start with a shovel and seed.

We will be living in a world of renewable (near ambient) energy in a mere human lifetime. How we get there, and indeed how many of us get there, depends upon how we use the rest of the oil. When a big energy company (BP) tells us that we're set for the next 40 years (assuming no growth in demand — yeah, right) that sets an agenda of Escalades and McMansions.

Not one of the presidential candidates has stepped up to the plate on peak oil. Sure, they wax patriotic about energy independence, but converting topsoil to SUV fuel is the surest way I can think to make life much more dark and bleak for future generations.

* Thanks to James Howard Kunstler

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 09:11:58 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


Miko: "No, You can't have your pillow back. Beeeeda!

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 08:26:23 PDT - Link

June 13, 2007

Drudge Report Discovers Peak Oil!

Drudge Report

He'll probably take it down soon — It's not the sort of thing that his benefactors like to see — so I took a screen shot.

Scientists have criticised a major review of the world's remaining oil reserves, warning that the end of oil is coming sooner than governments and oil companies are prepared to admit.

BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, published yesterday, appears to show that the world still has enough "proven" reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates. The assessment, based on officially reported figures, has once again pushed back the estimate of when the world will run dry.

However, scientists led by the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives.

Independent [uk]

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 20:17:26 PDT - Link

June 12, 2007

Strange Maps - Oh You Betcha.


From Strange Maps - Here's what happens when you rename states for countries of similar GDP.

Tue, 12 Jun 2007 09:06:03 PDT - Link

June 11, 2007

I got Nuthin...

Nagoya Airport Bow

Airport Tarmac, Nagoya, Japan. Nikon D990 - Feb 10, 2006

So here's a picture of the tarmac crew in Nagoya Japan greeting the arrival of another aircraft. They waited, in a line, in the rain, for 5 minutes, to perform this ritual bow.

Mon, 11 Jun 2007 08:42:05 PDT - Link

June 8, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - BSOD edition

Tory with a BSOD

Fri, 08 Jun 2007 07:24:54 PDT - Link

June 4, 2007

GONU Baby GONU - or - There's A Cat 5 Storm Between US And The Oil.

Tropical Storm Gonu

Image: US NAVY Joint Typhoon Warning Center

You know, we have a lot of ships in the Straits of Hormuz just now, and GONU's track has it slipping up the gulf like a cork into a bottle. I hope people in high places are nervous about this. They should be. This wouldn't be a good time to get into a fight in the gulf with the door locked. They should also be nervous about disruptions of oil shipments, and damage to infrastructure.

This is pretty much the first time a storm like this has been seen in this area.


The Oil Drum is all over this story CNBC is watching Oil up by $1.18 to $66.26, but they have not put the story together.

Mon, 04 Jun 2007 09:06:40 PDT - Link

June 1, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging


Fri, 01 Jun 2007 07:46:52 PDT - Link

May 31, 2007


Der Spiegel Online has published their article on paper airplanes, I gave them permission to use my designs a few months ago, and they have presented full instructions (In German!) for PL3 (Squarenose) and PL4 (Hybrid). Click the photos in the middle of the page.

Thu, 31 May 2007 13:42:49 PDT - Link


I have been watching the whole FanLib debacle with a certain amount of glee, not the least of which because I find it thrilling to watch people shoot themselves in the foot, as FanLib has been doing in a particularly spectacular, annihilatory way. And I have reached certain conclusions: namely, that FanLib has fallen down not because they are rapacious, greedy, and not terribly bright, but because their view of the world is fundamentally opposed to the view which fanfiction writers have of their community.

Angharad (LiveJournal)

I never ceases to amaze me - this notion of monetizing fan fiction, which is a medium that is only possible (and only marginally legal) because it is not commercial.

This Henry Jenkins interview with the Creator of FanLib gives us an interesting view into the background of the site. A Google Blog Search for Fanlib gives 1,634 results — few of them complimentary.

Visually, I find the FanLib story presentation pages to be kinetic to the point of distraction, and what's with these non-indented paragraphs? It's 2007, after all. The inturwebstubes can can handle Prose Formatting just fine, thank you. See?

Thu, 31 May 2007 08:34:37 PDT - Link

May 30, 2007

Solar Closets And Sunspaces

A "solar closet" is an insulated box filled with sealed containers of water, with a solar air heater attached to one insulated side. In a simplified solar space- and water-heating technique, a low-thermal-mass isolated sunspace heats a house on an average winter day, with an average amount of sun. A higher-temperature, compact, high-thermal-mass sauna behind the sunspace provides domestic hot water and space heat for the house during cloudy weather.

Nicholson Pine and Paul Bashus

These simple ideas don't show up on the front page of the newspaper, and they don't break into coverage of the latest celebrities arrest, car crash, or entry into rehab to tell you about this, BUT...

Simple passive solar heat storage will be part of every new home in the not-so-distant future.

Wed, 30 May 2007 08:07:55 PDT - Link

May 25, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 25 May 2007 13:05:22 PDT - Link

May 24, 2007

The Iraq War Funding Bill - A Modest Proposal

I have an Idea.

Bush has already vetoed the supplemental funding bill that contained a schedule for troop withdrawal.

I'm not pleased with the latest word out of Washington, which is that the Democrats are preparing to give him a bill that gives him exactly what he wants - the funds without a schedule - but I can understand their point. It is unacceptable for any one of our troops to be injured or killed because of adequate funding.

Bush has already demonstrated, by firing the Generals who told him he needed more troops from the beginning, by placing inexperienced and incompetent political cronies in charge of reconstruction, by ignoring the advice of officers on the ground, that the safety of the troops is a secondary consideration in his Global War on Terror.

In view of these facts, I have this modest proposal:

I suggest that we give him another supplemental funding bill. A real funding bill. A bill that funds the war by repealing each of his tax cuts back to January 20, 2001.

Bush is on the record (his veto) that he doesn't want this war to end.

Let's find out if he is willing to pay for it.

Thu, 24 May 2007 07:56:11 PDT - Link

May 23, 2007

IGY+50 - or - by '76 we'll be A.O.K.

July first marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the International Geophysical Year (IGY):

The IGY encompassed eleven Earth sciences: aurora and airglow, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, gravity, ionospheric physics, longitude and latitude determinations (precision mapping), meteorology, oceanography, seismology and solar activity.

50 years on, it's time to do another IGY. We've been digging and burning and building for 50 years, and it's time to take another inventory of the planet.

Gasoline just hit all-time inflation adjusted highs, it's time to get our arms around the remaining inventory of oil. The smart money is that we've used about half.

Nuclear power is being proposed as a solution, but when asked about uranium resources the most vocal proponents simply exclaim "It's just got to be out there because we haven't been looking for it." It's time to find out just how much uranium we actually have. The smart money is saying we have 40 - 70 years of the good stuff left (2003 use rates) and maybe 10x that if we go to much poorer ore grades. At some ore grade, the energy required to mine, mill and refine the uranium will be greater than the energy that can be extracted.

CO2 seems to be the one thing we have too much of. A new IGY should strive to fill in the gaps in the data, and fill the holes in the nets of reporting instruments. The question is no longer "Is there Global Climate Change?" the question is "Is it too late to stop it?"

Another area of critical concern is water. I don't talk about it much on my blog, but the availability of fresh water may have regional effects that rival climate change or peak oil. We need to understand what will happen as the fossil aquifers in are permanently depleted.

I don't think it would be hard to come up with 11 or more areas of study for a new IGY. What we do know is that 50 years from now the world will be a very different place. All serious analysis of shows that we will be far past peak oil in 50 years. Five more decades may see an Earth without a summer ice cap. 2057 may find the desert cities shrinking as their water supply literally dry up.

Wed, 23 May 2007 08:38:20 PDT - Link

May 21, 2007

Maker Faire

Maker Faire

What's 1/4 Junkyard Wars, 1/4 Burning Man, 1/4 olde-tyme county fair, and 1/4 Dr. Seuss? It's the Maker Faire, that's what.

Wife and I spent a few hours there yesterday, and it was totally inspiring and energizing. At times I found myself laughing in joy over the absurd and wonderful makings - such as the human-powered swing ride seen above. There was even a human-powered, two-chair "Ferris Wheel" which required one of the riders to climb the side of the ride to to top to get in the seat. Yup - that's right, the kids had to climb up 10 feet, no safety cage, no net, no cranky carneys to lock them into their seats. I have to guess the the climb up was the scariest part of the ride, and at the end of the ride, you have queezy stomach and a sense of accomplishment.

Inside one of the buildings, on a presentation stage, there was a Theremin karoke contest (no, I didn't enter) followed by a paper airplane demonstration. (I could have done that!)

Our local county fair is a pale shadow if its glory days - the animals are still fun to see, but the fun events — the sheep dog competitions, the greased pole climbing, and the horse jumping — all gone. The exhibit spaces which once held fine examples of local crafts have been taken over by commercial booths and mop and kitchen gadget salesmen.

The Maker Faire brings back the missing elements - the local crafts - the strange - the absurd - the danger - and the fun.

We are so going back next year.

Mon, 21 May 2007 08:56:13 PDT - Link

May 18, 2007

The Darkening

DAKAR - A wave of power cuts in Senegal could reach "unprecedented" levels as the West African state has a maximum of eight days of fuel left to run its power plants, energy sector sources said on Thursday.

The Globe and Mail [Canada]

At $65.40 per barrel, poor nations can no longer keep the lights working. "Darkest Africa" is beginning to have a literal meaning.

Fri, 18 May 2007 07:36:26 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging - Bad Cat Edition


"Thanks mom! I love my new cat hammock. I even like the nice wool pad, even if it is a little damp and smells like woolite."

Fri, 18 May 2007 07:05:00 PDT - Link

Now - (No, later tonight.)

Many of the cars now on America's roads get no better gas mileage than the ones we were driving twenty years ago. Meanwhile, other country's cars are leaving ours in the dust in terms of fuel efficiency. How did this happen, and what are American auto manufacturers doing about it?

A former auto industry engineer and NOW correspondent Jonathan Silvers goes under the hood of the U.S. car industry to look at what's being called a colossal failure of American engineering. Does Detroit have a secret weapon waiting in the wings?


Check you local listings.

Fri, 18 May 2007 06:58:11 PDT - Link

May 17, 2007

The Assault on Reason


It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I am not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong. In 2001, I had hoped it was an aberration when polls showed that three-quarters of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on Sept. 11. More than five years later, however, nearly half of the American public still believes Saddam was connected to the attack.

At first I thought the exhaustive, nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial was just an unfortunate excess-an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. Now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time: the Michael Jackson trial and the Robert Blake trial, the Laci Peterson tragedy and the Chandra Levy tragedy, Britney and KFed, Lindsay and Paris and Nicole.

While American television watchers were collectively devoting 100 million hours of their lives each week to these and other similar stories, our nation was in the process of more quietly making what future historians will certainly describe as a series of catastrophically mistaken decisions on issues of war and peace, the global climate and human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness. For example, hardly anyone now disagrees that the choice to invade Iraq was a grievous mistake. Yet, incredibly, all of the evidence and arguments necessary to have made the right decision were available at the time and in hindsight are glaringly obvious.

This man belongs in the White House, although it does give me pause that he knows who Britney and KFed, Lindsay and Paris and Nicole are.

Thu, 17 May 2007 08:28:41 PDT - Link

May 15, 2007

Depletion Levels in Ghawar

North Ghawar

Dr. Stuart Staniford has released an extraordinarily detailed analysis of the depletion of the largest and most prolific ail patch on Earth, Ghawar.

In particular, Saudi oil production has been falling with increasing speed since summer 2005, and overall, since mid 2004, about 2 million barrels of oil per day in production has gone missing (about 1mbpd in reduction in total production, and about another 1mbpd in that two major new projects, Qatif and Haradh III, failed to increase overall production). That's 2.5% of world production and, if that production hadn't gone missing, gasoline in the US likely would still be somewhere in the vicinity of $2/gallon instead of well over $3.

I will analyze six or seven separate lines of technical evidence, and argue they all point to a consistent picture, which says that the answer to both questions is "Yes". Yes, the northern half of Ghawar is quite depleted. And yes, this probably explains at least part of recent production declines. Furthermore, it is likely that more declines in Saudi production are on the way.

This is the sort of detailed analysis that would be sold by energy consultants for thousands of dollars, and you can read it, online, for free.

This work stands along side and supports the analysis in Twilight in the Desert.

It's looking more and more like Saudi Arabia has well and truly peaked, which means that the world has well and truly peaked.

This. Is. Not. A. Drill.

Tue, 15 May 2007 09:05:20 PDT - Link

Tuesday Lawn Seeding Blogging


We spent last weekend being human roto-tillers, 10 hours of digging and fluffing the soil down to 6", using nothing but shovels, pitchforks, rakes, a lawn roller and workboots. (The easiest way to break up the clods is to stomp on them).

I suppose I could have rented a rototiller, but there is something satisfying about digging in the dirt. It's intimidating to realize that the same job could have been done in under an hour using about $1.50 in gasoline.

This morning I sewed the seed, spread a layer of mulch, rolled, and watered. I'll post more pictures when we get sprouts.

Tue, 15 May 2007 08:13:16 PDT - Link

May 11, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging


T-Chan: "Teh sun melt mah bonez."

Fri, 11 May 2007 08:42:40 PDT - Link

Happy Bornday Ocean

Helio Ocean

My buddy and former Danger, inc. co-inmate Matias has been very busy.

I've had my hands on the Helio Ocean, It's very sweet. The mechanism is superb. You can buy one today.

Fri, 11 May 2007 08:42:40 PDT - Link

May 10, 2007

Watford Valves

Watford Valves - just because. Don't bother with the link unless 12AX7 or ECC83 or EL34 ring a bell. No, It's not work related.

Thu, 10 May 2007 23:05:57 PDT - Link

May 9, 2007

The Joke That Keeps On Giving

BeBox 16

Back on April 1, I published a bit about about a 16 processor BeBox, along with a rather crude Photoshop.

I was a little worried that April fools jokes might not work well in the RSS feed, but over time I found a curious effect — some sites that picked up the feed didn't post it until a day or two later, and some sites appeared to have picked up the information second or third hand, and the April fools context was lost.

I continue to get hits every day for this, it's been 7737 so far.

At first I thought RSS would be bad for April fools — I have a lot of ideas for rejiggering my website HTML, — but the temporal delay in RSS adds a new, exploitable, dimension.

Wed, 09 May 2007 08:58:34 PDT - Link

May 8, 2007

When Is A Hurricane Not A Hurricane?


As a meteorologist today is one of those days where I am glad that I am not a decision maker at the National Hurricane Center. The subtropical storm that is drifting off the coast of the Carolinas is truly a tough call for those at NHC. If NHC names this system they will instantly be faced with a pre-season hurricane only a couple hundred miles off the U.S. coast and many people will panic and be angry about a perceived lack of warning. Due to this societal constraint, it seems unlikely that NHC will name this system. If it were October right now, I have no doubt that their decision would be different. Instead the National Weather Service is taking a more diplomatic approach and has issued Hurricane Force Wind Warnings. However, in my professional opinion we are absolutely dealing with at least a subtropical storm at this time.

The Storm Track

Tue, 08 May 2007 08:50:38 PDT - Link

Facing The Third Threat

I've come to the conclusion that there big three crises I'm likely to observe in the remaining decades of my life: Global Climate Change, Peak Oil, and Overpopulation. For me the third of the three is the most frightening. Paul Chefurka (AKA GliderGuider) looks at the Population Problem at The Oil Drum.

The signals of Peak Oil are all around for those who know what to look for: the continuing two-year-old plateau in the world's conventional crude oil production; the crash of Mexico's giant Cantarell oil field last year; the U.K. slipping from being an oil exporting nation to a net importer in 2005; the fact that three of the world's four largest oil fields are confirmed to be in decline; the analysis on The Oil Drum of Saudi Arabia's super-giant Ghawar field that indicates it may be teetering on the brink of a crash; the fact that over two thirds of the world's oil producing nations are experiencing declining production; delays and cost overruns in new projects in the Middle East, Kazakhstan and Canada's tar sands. To make matters worse, according to several analyses including a very thorough one (pdf warning) done by a PhD candidate in Sweden, the addition of new projects is unlikely to delay the terminal decline by more than a few years.

GraphUnderstanding the role of oil in expanding the earth's carrying capacity brings a new urgency to the topic of Peak Oil. The decline in oil supply will reduce the planet's carrying capacity, thus forcing humanity into overshoot with the inevitable consequence of a population decline. The date of the peak will mark the point at which we should expect to see the first effects of overshoot. The rapidity of the decline following the peak will determine whether our descent will be a leisurely stroll down to the canyon floor or a headlong tumble carrying a little sign reading, "Help!"

Tue, 08 May 2007 08:04:07 PDT - Link

May 7, 2007

Ghosts In The Inrurwebtubes

I woke up this morning to a router that had amnesia — overnight it lost all of its set-up info. My first thought was to research to issue on the web. Ooops.

Fortunately, I'd printed screen shots of the parameters, and 30 minutes and 5-10 reboots I'm back to normal. (Yeah right.)

I really wish it could spit out a configuration file that I could back up, and upload when it's lost its little mind.

Mon, 07 May 2007 08:39:57 PDT - Link

May 6, 2007

Anime Review: FMP:TSR

Full metal Panic

Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid is the third season of the Full Metal Panic series, and is perhaps the most contrasty anime I've seen. It's only rated TV14, but contains scenes of betrayal, hate and violence likely to cause nightmares. It also contains symmetrical scenes of startling quiet, affection and trust which have no equal in any anime I've seen. (And I've seen a lot of anime)

The good news is the pressings are superb, and there are a lot of great extras. I only watch the subtitled mode, so I won't speak to the dub, but the subtitles are well timed, and unlike many subs I didn't notice that the translators had take liberties with the dialog.

The bad news is that Funimation placed adds in the boot sequence, and locked them so that I was unable to fast forward to the main menus. This is simply not the way to treat a paying customer. I'm sorry, but I'm simply never going to buy Dragonball Z, and it's not fair to make me wait though the ad any time I want to watch FMP.

There is another issue which may not be Funimation's fault. When the series first aired in Japan, the final sequence of the final battle used the opening theme as the background music, and it worked incredibly well. First, because the opening theme is one of the most upbeat and memorable in all anime — I never skipped it once when watching all 13 episodes — but the imagery used in the OP was taken from scenes in the series, so after you've seen it 13 times, you've associated the emotions of the source scenes to the music. As that scene plays, all of the concentrated emotions of the theme play in your head at the same time.

In the DVD release, the BGM for that pivotal scene is replaced with a kind of generic heroic theme. It's a fine work on its own, but it's not one that brings with it the investment of emotion that the OP theme has. (At least for me, your mileage may vary.) If your expectations weren't set by renting from the local Japanese Video store, you'll never notice the substitution. For myself, it was like listening to the overture to marriage of Figaro with the oboe bit removed. It may be that when the series ran in Japan, that piece of original BGM wasn't ready in time, so the producers were forced to re-run the theme to make the schedule. If so, it was a happy accident that should be restored. (And yes, I'd buy a new copy of disk 4 if Funmation ever gets around to a re-release.)

In summary, the FMP:TSR series gets 5 for 5 stars, although I will stick in the disk and let it play to the menus while I do something else before I sit down to watch.

Sun, 06 May 2007 11:06:08 PDT - Link

May 5, 2007

Falcon Cam

There is a live, streaming Webcam on a Falcon Nest at the San Jose City Hall. The eggs have hatched, and the chicks are being fed.

Sat, 05 May 2007 12:11:03 PDT - Link


Godzilla T-shirt

Join the G-Force: Get your own United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center shirts. All the cool kids are wearing them — you can get yours now on eBay.

A couple of years back I rented the Japanese versions of the later Godzilla movies at the local J-video shop. While the movies were mostly forgettable, I was really taken with the UNGCC logo, and have prowled the web in search of UNGCC wares. Needless to say, when I saw this t-shirt, I just had to have it.

Sat, 05 May 2007 12:04:47 PDT - Link

More than Cute

If your're Overloaded on cute, take a break, and have a cheezburger on me. Or on a cat. Or a walrus. LOL.

Sat, 05 May 2007 12:04:47 PDT - Link

More Fonts Than You Can Shake A Stick At.

Fonts 500 has 500 free fonts. That's a lot of fonts, Free. 500 to be exact. Thus the URL, http://www.fonts500.com/

Sat, 05 May 2007 12:04:47 PDT - Link

May 4, 2007

Matt Simmons

From UCTV, Matt Simmons speaks at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The United Kingdom, this year, for the first time in 30 years, became a net importer of oil.

Fri, 04 May 2007 09:04:56 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


Tory James, who will jump in any box or basket.

Fri, 04 May 2007 08:01:50 PDT - Link

May 3, 2007

Like Hammer For Sidekick.

"The thing is tough!"

The boys in the back room at Dreamhost test a Sidekick II in ways the Myth Busters would warn you not to try at home. [Warning: Childish use of adult language.]

Thu, 03 May 2007 08:34:02 PDT - Link

May 2, 2007

Uh-oh, Part 1: 30 Years Ahead of Schedule

The Arctic ice cap is melting much faster than expected and is now about 30 years ahead of predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.S. ice expert said on Tuesday.

This means the ocean at the top of the world could be free or nearly free of summer ice by 2020, three decades sooner than the global panel's gloomiest forecast of 2050.

No ice on the Arctic Ocean during summer would be a major spur to global warming, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Center in Colorado.


Wed, 02 May 2007 08:32:50 PDT - Link

Uh-oh, Part 2: What's On the Schedule

The world's oceans could rise by up to seven meters if Greenland's ice cap entirely melts because of global warming, climate scientists said Tuesday.

Glaciers on Greenland, the world's most icy land mass, are now melting most quickly where they are in contact with surrounding ocean, while ice in the high centre remains intact, said Garry Clarke, a professor at the University of British Columbia in this western Canadian city.

But if global warming causes the freezing level to move higher, the loss of ice would be worse than Greenland experienced in previous interglacial periods dating back hundreds of thousands of years.


Wed, 02 May 2007 08:32:50 PDT - Link

May 1, 2007

"My iPod suddenly seemed old-fashioned."

But overall, I really liked the Sansa Connect. It forced me to look at my portable player as an evolving, untethered device that introduced me to lots of songs. When it wasn't connected to Wi-Fi, I was disappointed to not be downloading new songs. My iPod suddenly seemed old-fashioned.

An iPod Rival With an Edge Wall Street Journal

Tue, 01 May 2007 23:39:25 PDT - Link

'Mission Accomplished' By The Numbers

Think Progress takes a look...

What a difference 4 years makes.

Tue, 01 May 2007 08:03:03 PDT - Link

$4 Gasoline: Coming To A Station Near You!

Gasoline Inventories

Here's a chart of US gasoline inventories in the US. Note that the 2007 line is breaking out of the bottom of the 5 year range. That's the bad news.

Now the worse news. That 5 year range is in barrels, and gasoline usage is up about 8% in that 5 year period.

In other words, gasoline inventories are WAY down, as measured in "Days of Gasoline Available".

Tue, 01 May 2007 07:52:54 PDT - Link

Heads Must Roll

In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison "the authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration" of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department's political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. Monica Goodling became White House liaison in April 2006, the month after Gonzales signed the order.

The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed.
[Emphasis Added]

Murray Waas, National Journal

This ain't no White House travel office, this is the JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, and if reading this doesn't make your blood boil, you're sleepwalking. WAKE UP.

Tue, 01 May 2007 07:33:57 PDT - Link

April 28, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Special Saturday Sleep-In Edition.

Catz.We're in your bed, catching some zzzs.

Sat, 28 Apr 2007 09:34:08 PDT - Link

April 27, 2007

Richard Clarke

Does the President think terrorists are puppy dogs? He keeps saying that terrorists will "follow us home" like lost dogs. This will only happen, however, he says, if we "lose" in Iraq.

The puppy dog theory is the corollary to earlier sloganeering that proved the President had never studied logic: "We are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that we will not have to face them and fight them in the streets of our own cities."

Remarkably, in his attempt to embrace the failed Iraqi adventure even more than the President, Sen. John McCain is now parroting the line. "We lose this war and come home, they'll follow us home," he says.

How is this odd terrorist puppy dog behavior supposed to work? The President must believe that terrorists are playing by some odd rules of chivalry. Would this be the "only one slaughter ground at a time" rule of terrorism?

Put Bush's 'puppy dog' terror theory to sleep

Fri, 27 Apr 2007 07:21:54 PDT - Link

April 26, 2007

House Resolution 333

Impeaching Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Resolved, That Richard B. Cheney, Vice President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

HR 333

Read the entire resolution, and the supporting documents at Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich's website.

This time the pebbles are voting to start the avalanche.

Thu, 26 Apr 2007 08:19:52 PDT - Link

April 23, 2007

My Next Car?

Venture Vehicles appeals both to the desire to save energy, and to the mid-life desire to own something very fun and sporty. Make sure to check out the videos of the gasoline powered Carver

Mon, 23 Apr 2007 11:56:21 PDT - Link

April 20, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 20 Apr 2007 07:58:39 PDT - Link

April 17, 2007

Another Reason to Buy the SK3

Suzumia Haruhi

The SK3 allows some graphics to be replaced with the user's preferred images on the mini-SD card. I prefer Suzumia Haruhi. I wish I could replace ALL of the background and overlay images. That web browser globe just isn't doing it for me.

I also wish I could add my own ring tone to the Memory Card. I know T-Mobile likes selling them, but I'd pay $5 for a download that enabled 3 external ringtones.

P.S. I heard today that it is a depopulated SK3 board in the Sidekick iD - so it's still one of my PCB designs (Although I expect they've tweaked things in the last year.)

Tue, 17 Apr 2007 17:40:06 PDT - Link


Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack present an absorbing, lucid and lively primer on the past, present and (dubious) future of oil. Interviews with energy specialists and archival footage - including news film and sprightly cartoons extolling the wonders of oil - make the story of our dependence on this non-renewable resource fresh and revealing. At the heart of this intelligent and entertaining investigation is an urgent question: if the first half of the oil age is now ending, what will happen in the second half, when oil supplies dwindle to zero?

Sundance Channel

Plays Tonight at 6:35 PDT, 9:35 EDT.

2007.04.19 at 09:35 PM PDT / 2007.04.20 12:35 AM EDT
2007.04.20 at 07:35 AM PDT / 10:35 AM EDT
2007.04.22 at 12:35 PM PDT / 03:35 PM EDT

Tue, 17 Apr 2007 09:13:14 PDT - Link

April 13, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Friday The 13th Edition

Miko and ToryMiko, comforting Tory.

Fri, 13 Apr 2007 08:22:00 PDT - Link

They Like it!

Overall, the Sansa Connect is a fantastic product. Purchasing one means accepting Yahoo! Music as your service of choice, but if you can live with that, the Connect is simply awesome. Download as many tracks as you want from Yahoo!, and do it while you're at the bar or in your buddy's apartment, all without using a computer. That's the concept, and the product delivers on the concept with no glitches and very few annoyances. We have our first excellent Wi-Fi-enabled portable media player.

PC Magazine

The other day I tuned into the Celtic station on Yahoo, and went an hour without hearing a song I'd ever heard before. It's been decades since I've been exposed to so much new music.

Prior to this, I'd pretty much been a buy and rip CDs kind of guy, but that meant that I'd pretty much buy stuff I was familiar with. Now if I hear a song I like, I punch "Get Song" of "Get Album" and they are downloaded in the background to the on-board storage.

Growing up, I pretty much embraced each new genre of music. From the British invasion, through soul, heavy metal, punk, new wave, and reggae. I even got into the early electronic / trance thing with Tangerine Dream. When I couldn't get enough new music I took a detour into classical and opera, but then the whole hip-hop thing kind of passed me by. It just simply didn't speak to me.

Since Hip-hop and Corporate Idol Singers singing songs that sound like they were written in PowerPoint pretty much dominate the broadcast media, I'd been feeling pretty left out, which is pretty sad since music had been such a big part of my life.

I still carry my Sidekick everywhere I go, (I did upgrade to the SK3, more on that later—) It's very cool to have built yet another gadget that I really enjoy using, and I'm so digging having new music back in my life. It makes me feel younger.

Fri, 13 Apr 2007 08:22:00 PDT - Link

Spring Break - Kunstler

The EIA has to be more reality-based about current activity than their future projections, because the current import-export and refinery figures are out there for other people and other data-gathering organizations to see. The EIA's future projections are a joke. They are based on the fantasy that everything will be okay despite what we see happening now. The EIA projects that all the world's oil producers will increase their oil production hugely by 2030. They see Saudi Arabia shooting up to 17.1 million barrels a day when, in fact, Saudi production fell 7 percent just over the past year alone to 8.4 mm/b/d. They see Mexico shooting way up, despite the announcement last year by Pemex that the Cantarell field (60 percent of Mexico's total production) is crashing at a minimum rate of 15 percent a year. They see Russia zooming way up, despite the fact that Russia is probably past the 70 percent mark of its original total reserves. If you go to this EIA chart, you'll see practically everybody's production shooting way up in the decades ahead, even the US, which, in reality, has seen nothing but steady annual decline for more than thirty years (we produce half now of what we did in 1970).

Atlantic Free Press

Fri, 13 Apr 2007 08:22:00 PDT - Link

Less Of The Same

Looks like Danger has released a little brother to the Sidekick 3. Judging from the specs, you could pretty much build one of these by depopulating the same PC board I designed for the SK3 two years ago.

Fri, 13 Apr 2007 08:22:00 PDT - Link

April 9, 2007

It's out!

Sansa Connect

In case you are wondering why Yellow is taking so long...

I have a day job.

Mon, 09 Apr 2007 22:26:43 PDT - Link

April 7, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - Special Saturday Edition

Tchan and ToryTchan (Who turned 11 this week!) and Miko

Sat, 07 Apr 2007 11:18:22 PDT - Link


Start with this headline from Green Car Congress:

DOE to Provide up to $14 Million to Develop Advanced Batteries for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles [link]

$14 Million is what we spend in Iraq, every 2 hours and 15 minutes, every day.

Sat, 07 Apr 2007 09:28:10 PDT - Link

Aw jeez. Peak Coal?

So it was with a sinking feeling that I read Richard Heinberg's report on the EWG study in his Museletter #179 last week.

Turns out that, in terms of energy content, the U.S. passed its peak of coal production too . . . in 1998!

You see, various types of coal have different levels of energy content. The best stuff—anthracite (with 30 megajoules of energy per kilogram, or "30 Mj/kg") from Appalachia and Illinois—has been in decline since 1990. Our "vast reserves" are mainly of lower-quality bituminous coal, delivering 18 to 29 Mj/kg, and sub-bituminous coal and lignite, delivering a mere 5 to 25 Mj/kg.

For comparison purposes, the energy content of the coal produced is translated into "tons of oil equivalent." In terms of volumes of stuff mined, growth in U.S. coal production can continue for about another ten to fifteen years. But in terms of energy, which is the only metric that really matters, U.S. coal production peaked in 1998 at 598 million tons of oil equivalent, and fell to 576 million in 2005.

Energy and Capital

Sat, 07 Apr 2007 09:11:24 PDT - Link

April 5, 2007

Lessons in Web 2.0 (Or as some call it, "The Web")

Lain (Of Serial Experiments Lain)

Step 1: Become chief economist of the Royal Bank Of Scotland Group.

Step 2: Write a poorly researched, juvenile article on Oil for the Sunday Herald.

Step 3: Appear on the same web page with 29 comments from all over the world pointing out the glaring shortcomings of your analysis.

Welcome to the World Wide Web, Andrew McLaughlin.

Thu, 05 Apr 2007 22:12:04 PDT - Link

April 3, 2007

The little girl giant-playing in the park

One of my favorite YouTube presentations - presented here because a quick Google search turned up valid XHTML for embedding movies. (The code YouTube invites you to use page is not valid XHTML.) It looks like this:

<object width="425" height="340" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://www.youtube.com/v/BnG_Ce8Qz9w">
<param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/BnG_Ce8Qz9w" />
<param name="wmode" value="transparent" />

- Link

Scary Statistic Blogging

Q: What percentage, of all the crude oil that the world has consumed through 2005, was consumed worldwide during George W. Bush's first term?

A: About 10%

— Jeffrey Brown, Independent Geologist

Tue, 03 Apr 2007 19:30:07 PDT - Link

April 2, 2007

James Howard Kunstler: Remarks to the Commonwealth Club of California

The issue is not about running out — it's about what happens when you head over the all-time production peak down the slippery slope of depletion. And what happens is that the complex systems we depend on for everyday life in advanced societies begin to falter, wobble, and fail — and the failures in each system will in turn weaken the others. By complex systems I mean the way we produce our food, the way we conduct manufacture and trade, the way we operate banking and finance, the way we move people and things from one place to another, and the way we inhabit the landscape.

[Link to mp3, streams and transcript]

Kunstler is the tip of the spear where it comes to how peak oil will affect you and I. Download and listen to the .mp3. He describes with great clarity the problem we face — how we have squandered the once in a planet's lifetime endowment of cheap, abundant oil, gas and coal to build a civic infrastructure that depends on cheap, abundant oil, gas, and coal.

He also offers solutions to the problem. Rebuild our rail systems. Rebuild our water systems. Rebuild our social fabric. Rebuild our Farming and food distribution system. Rebuild our mercantile middle class.

None of that sounds too bad to me — in fact, it kind of describes the sort of place I grew up in.

Mon, 02 Apr 2007 08:18:38 PDT - Link

April 1, 2007

Bebox x16 BeBox x16 Prototype

8 AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 processors
64 GB Main memory (Max)
4 TB Hard drive (Configured as Raid 5)
8 PCIe x16 slots
2 1GB Ethernet ports
16 USB 2.0 root ports (480 Mb/s)
4 IEEE 1394b/c ports (800 Mb/s)
4 Serial ports
16 Midi ports
8 channels 24 bit 96Kb/s Audio I/O
16 OLED bar graph displays (Fully programmable!)
2 Geekports (Yes, two!)

In case you've been wondering why I've been to busy to blog every day...

That's right, we're BACK!


"Because 15 processors per person isn't enough™"

Sun, 01 Apr 2007 08:54:28 PDT - Link

March 30, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging


No, we didn't run it. Not even on "air fluff".

Fri, 30 Mar 2007 18:15:52 PDT - Link

March 29, 2007

He Had His Hair On Fire

"He had his hair on fire." That's how Richard Clarke described CIA director George Tenet in the weeks leading up to 9-11.

Today Matthew Simmons, one of the leading investment bankers of the oil industry, appeared on Kudlow and Company on CNBC.

"We actually sadly have such a poor data reporting system that we won't know with any clarity that we've passed peak oil until about a year after the event, or two years when it's startlingly clear.

"This is a passionate issue with me, because I've just spent effectively the last five years analyzing and digging into data and I applaud the GAO today for what they did.

"I think that congressman Bartlett and congressman Udall need a big rousing pat on the back for basically beginning the most serious discussion we've ever had about the single issue that could actually threaten sustainable society.

And I believe, and I have for some time, that we are on the verge of actually replacing 'Global Warming' by this term "Peak Oil".

It is not a kook issue, it's a reality, it's a physical reality, we have demand roaring ahead and supply faltering.

Matthew Simmons [Video]

That's what a man looks like with his hair on fire.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 22:33:36 PDT - Link

GAO: Uncertainty about Future Oil Supply Makes It Important to Develop a Strategy for Addressing a Peak and Decline in Oil Production

Historically, U.S. oil production peaked around 1970 at close to 10 million barrels per day and has been generally declining ever since, to about 5 million barrels per day in 2005. While recent discoveries raise the prospect of some increases in U.S. oil production, significant reductions in world oil production could still have important consequences for the nation's welfare. The United States imported about 66 percent of its oil and petroleum products in 2005, and the U.S. economy—particularly the transportation sector—depends heavily on oil. Overall, transportation accounts for approximately 65 percent of U.S. oil consumption. New technologies have been introduced that displace some oil consumption within the sector, but oil consumption for transportation has continued to increase in recent years. According to a 2005 report prepared for DOE, without timely preparation, a reduction in world oil production could cause transportation fuel shortages that would translate into significant economic hardship.

United States Government Accountability Office: GAO-07-283

I haven't read it yet, you're seeing it at the same time I am.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 09:24:53 PDT - Link

Thursday Finch Blogging


I put out the feeder some weeks ago, with no activity. Then one morning they started to appear, and it's been nearly non-stop CatTV™ ever since.

Thu, 29 Mar 2007 08:02:03 PDT - Link

March 28, 2007

No, In Fact It Can't Go On Forever.

Isn’t it interesting how some assumptions about the way society works and what keeps it ticking find their way into the collective consciousness and are not challenged or interrogated? Take for example the way we consume energy. Globally, there seems to be a deep-seated, and wholly incorrect, belief that our current patterns of consumption can continue indefinitely because there is an infinite supply of oil. Over the past century and a half we have allowed oil to become vital to almost everything we do. The global consumption of oil is about 85-million barrels a day, or 31-billion barrels a year. There is an almost universal belief that this can go on forever.

Business Day

Perhaps it's because $60+ Oil is already forcing parts of Africa to slip into a post oil world that this article comes from South Africa, and not New York, or Paris or London, or Tokyo, or Beijing.

Wed, 28 Mar 2007 12:54:03 PDT - Link

March 27, 2007

Hydrogen - It's a bust.

Another example of the disconnect between the researchers and reality is their proposed quantity and method of hydrogen production. Their most optimistic (smallest) quantity of hydrogen required is 239 billion kg/year (see Table 1), which they propose to produce from renewable electricity via electrolysis. The quantity of electricity required (at 100% efficiency, no less) is a staggering 9810 billion kWh/year{2}; this is nearly 2.5 times current annual US electric production. (Worse than that, it's roughly 6-10 times what it would take to power all ground transport directly with electricity{3}.) Even if produced from nuclear energy by a thermochemical process of 50% efficiency, this rate of hydrogen production would require nuclear plants equivalent to more than 8 times today's capacity{4}. This may be possible in the realm of physics and even engineering, but it's very doubtful that a sane and sober nation would even look at it twice. [Emphasis added]

Engineer-Poet in The Oil Drum

Tue, 27 Mar 2007 09:06:08 PDT - Link

March 24, 2007

Doctoral Thesis of Robelius, Fredrik

A giant oil field contains at least 500 million barrels of recoverable oil. Only 507, or 1 % of the total number of fields, are giants. Their contribution is striking: over 60 % of the 2005 production and about 65 % of the global ultimate recoverable reserve (URR).

However, giant fields are something of the past since a majority of the largest giant fields are over 50 years old and the discovery trend of less giant fields with smaller volumes is clear. A large number of the largest giant fields are found in the countries surrounding the Persian Gulf.

Publications from Uppsala University

Sat, 24 Mar 2007 08:38:50 PDT - Link

March 23, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging



Sorry about the lack of bloggage this week, I've been crazy busy with a work project.

Fri, 23 Mar 2007 19:27:01 PDT - Link

March 19, 2007

The Bees (And The Birds)

Submitted for your listening, a chilling program on the disappearance of honeybees. (From Micheal Krasny's Forum On KQED-FM San Fransisco)

Mon, 19 Mar 2007 08:30:02 PDT - Link

March 16, 2007

Friday Cat Bloging (Bookends Edition)

back-to-Back cats

Tory and Miko doing their impression of bookends — Photo by wife.

Fri, 16 Mar 2007 18:55:10 PDT - Link

March 14, 2007

Have Some Pi

You too can celebrate PI day! Give Pi a round of applause at 3/14 1:59:26.535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445 9230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460 9550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930 3819644288109756659334461284756482337867831652712019091456485669234 6034861045432664821339360726024914127372458700660631558817488152092 0962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941...

Wed, 14 Mar 2007 13:40:41 PDT - Link

Pete Stark Comes Out Of The Closet

WASHINGTON (AP) - The American Humanist Association applauded Rep. Pete Stark for publicly acknowledging he does not believe in a supreme being. The declaration, it said, makes him the highest-ranking elected official - and first congressman - to proclaim to be an atheist. The organization took out an ad in Tuesday's Washington Post, congratulating the California Democrat for his stance.

Guardian [UK]

Hey Pete, Good on you. I'm guessing that in the rest of Congress there's a score or more like you, (including some Republicans) but none so brave.

Wed, 14 Mar 2007 12:30:22 PDT - Link

You Don't Often Read A Piece Containing The Word "Spavined"

A tsunami of nausea seems to be sweeping across the media now in recognition that the Potemkin edifice of mortgage finance is imploding like a discarded Las Vegas casino. What it comes down to is that several species of newly-engineered financial Frankenproducts have been based on loans for houses that will never be paid back. Not just a few loans. Massive numbers. These, in turn, have been bundled, swapped around, and leveraged into other plays which now depend, for instance, on x-number of unemployed car dealers and underpaid busboys ponying up the "vig" for some piece-of-crap collateral that will soon be a third its previously appraised value. It will be easier for the car dealers and busboys to walk away from these deals then it will be for the smoothies who used all this bundled bull**** to hedge credit default swaps and play the yen-to-Euro carry trade game to wiggle out of their positions. And the unwinding of all this fraud will almost certainly leave the nation economically spavined.

James Kunstler in The Atlantic Free Press

Wed, 14 Mar 2007 08:42:49 PDT - Link

One Step Forward, 3.8 Steps Backward*

The New York Times had an article in their March 5, 2007 edition, “Oil innovations pump new life into old wells,” [Also posted at EB and Mobjectivist.] which is standard fare when it comes to U.S. media coverage of oil supply. The gist of the article was that technological innovation makes the concept of peak oil moot.

The article pointed out that oil production from the Kern River field (California) increased ~75,000 b/d over the last ~40 years, Duri field (Indonesia) production increased ~135,000 b/d over the last ~20 years and the ultimate recovery from the Means field (Texas) is expected to double over some previous estimate, all due to technological innovation. The article conveniently overlooked the rapid decline rates of an ever growing number of large fields.

For each isolated example they provide for a production increase in an old field, it’s easy to list multiple examples of fields that have had more dramatic decreases in production. As an example, the Prudhoe Bay field has declined ~1,250,000 b/d in less than half the time it took the Kern River field to increase ~75,000 b/d. While it took the Duri field ~20 years for production to increase ~135,000 b/d, production from the Cantarell complex (Mexico) is likely to decline ~1,700,000 b/d in an 11 year period (2004-2015).

If the examples provided in the NYTimes article are so dramatic, one has to ask the following questions: Why has California’s oil production declined ~500,000 b/d since 1985 in spite of the Kern River field exhibiting its dramatic increase? Why has Indonesia’s oil production declined ~600,000 b/d since the early 1980s if Duri is such a miracle? Why has Texas’ oil production declined ~2,500,000 b/d since 1972 even as the estimated ultimate recovery for the Means field doubled?

*I'm talking about production in California. If 170,000 BL is our one step forward, it takes 3.8 steps backwards to end up 500,000 BL down.

Wed, 14 Mar 2007 08:42:49 PDT - Link

March 13, 2007

Tuesday Maple Blogging

Maple Leaves Sprouting

Tue, 13 Mar 2007 08:24:33 PDT - Link

March 11, 2007


We are looking now at an entirely different planet. Ice sheets have vanished from both poles; rainforests have burnt up and turned to desert; the dry and lifeless Alps resemble the High Atlas; rising seas are scouring deep into continental interiors. One temptation may be to shift populations from dry areas to the newly thawed regions of the far north, in Canada and Siberia. Even here, though, summers may be too hot for crops to be grown away from the coasts; and there is no guarantee that northern governments will admit southern refugees. Lynas recalls James Lovelock's suspicion that Siberia and Canada would be invaded by China and the US, each hammering another nail into humanity's coffin. "Any armed conflict, particularly involving nuclear weapons, would of course further increase the planetary surface area uninhabitable for humans."

Times Online

Of late I tend to vacillate between worrying about peak oil, and worrying about climate change. After reading this, I'm worrying about climate change.

Sun, 11 Mar 2007 19:11:17 PDT - Link

March 10, 2007

Sound Familiar? - Or His Friends Call Him Dub'ya (Or was it Newt?)

PICTURE THIS: A folksy, self-consciously plainspoken Southern politician rises to power during a period of profound unrest in America. The nation is facing one of the half-dozen or so of its worst existential crises to date, and the people, once sunny, confident, and striving, are now scared, angry, and disillusioned.


When I read the first paragraph,(Thanks Daniel!) the first person to come to mind was Newt - probably because I'd just seen his name in another article, and I'd blogged about him yesterday. Besides, one can hardly call the election of 2000 a period of "profound unrest" — it was a period where things were going so well that a large enough minority of the country voted for another "folksy, self-consciously plainspoken Southern politician" that he was sworn into office after loosing the popular vote (and only 'winning' the electoral vote because of mis-cast votes on the infamous butterfly ballot.)

When I think of "profound unrest" I'm thinking of the perfect storm of shrinking energy supplies, citizens waiting hours in gas lines, millions of home mortgage defaults, people on street corners protesting an unpopular and militarily unwinnable war, and displacement of tens of thousands of people due to drought, flooding, or other effects of global climate change. (Perfect storms indeed.)

None of those events seem too far in the future to me, and it's no stretch to imagine one or more happening in the next year and a half — Just in time for the '08 elections.

Once in, he appoints his friends and political advisers to high-level positions, stocks the Supreme Court with "surprisingly unknown lawyers who called [him] by his first name," declaws Congress, allows Big Business to dictate policy, consolidates the media, and fills newspapers with "syndicated gossip from Hollywood." Carping newspapermen worry that America is moving backward to a time when anti-German politicians renamed sauerkraut "Liberty Cabbage" and "hick legislators...set up shop as scientific experts and made the world laugh itself sick by forbidding the teaching of evolution," but newspaper readers, wary of excessive negativity, pay no mind.

This sounds shockingly familiar. Can you say "Freedom Frys"? Okay, so maybe Sinclair Lewis got things a little out of order in 1935. The country didn't need to be in a state of "profound unrest" at the election, all it took was 19 terrorists and four airliners, to trigger fear, anger and disillusionment.

It Can't Happen Here can be found in bookstores, and since it is out of copyright, it is available for free, online at Project Gutenberg [Australia]

Sat, 10 Mar 2007 09:08:32 PST - Link

March 9, 2007

Et Tu, Newt?

WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with a conservative Christian group.

"The honest answer is yes," Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to be aired Friday, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press. "There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards."

Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity.

Huffington Post

I don't think Gingrich's affair should disqualify him from becoming president. I think his personal efforts to make politics more rancorous, more partisan, and less effective (except where it comes to Republican donors) should disqualify him from becoming president.

Gingrich has personally made it harder for government (that's US, folks - the corporation of We The People) to deal with health care, climate change, peak oil, and overpopulation. His effectiveness in hamstringing government (That's still US, folks) in the looming face of these challenges, will cause more misery to more people for more generations than is dreamed of in the caves of the Taliban.

Fri, 09 Mar 2007 09:22:02 PST - Link

What Republicans Do With Power

Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny.

Raw Story

Seven to One... Hmmm. Seven to One. Hmmmm...

Fri, 09 Mar 2007 08:44:34 PST - Link

True words.

"Communities," Pahl says, "are our own best security. Especially if we are united as a community in our determination to face the future. I firmly believe that a community’s commitment to its own future energy security will ultimately prove to be one of the best long-term investments it can possibly make. I hope your community is among the growing number of cities and towns around the world to follow this sensible strategy."

Town Online

The article is about wind power, but the sentiment expressed by Greg Pahl expresses my hopes for the future.

Fri, 09 Mar 2007 08:44:34 PST - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


"Still Life with Miko"

Wife: But I just washed those!
Miko Thanks, mom. Very fresh, mom. Very comfortable, mom.

Fri, 09 Mar 2007 07:43:28 PST - Link

Fifty One Years Ago (Yesterday)

Gas Price on September 8, 2007. San Jose CA

51 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.

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 protégé, 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 acquired 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.

Fri, 09 Mar 2007 07:43:28 PST - Link

March 8, 2007

Knock Knock. Who's there? - Justice! - or - Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Door Knocker in Nice France

A pullquote somehow doesn't do it justice, so go have a look at what one of the jurors experienced on the Libby Trial.

Thu, 08 Mar 2007 08:34:56 PST - Link

Sports Illustrated Discovers Climate Change

Indeed, the world's signature dogsled race, Alaska's Iditarod, hasn't begun at its traditional starting point in Wasilla since 2002 because of too little snow there. The Elfstedentocht, an 11-city skating marathon that the Dutch stage whenever the canals freeze over, has been run only once in the past two decades. The highest ski slope on the planet, Bolivia's Chacaltaya (altitude 17,388 feet), will soon be unskiable for lack of snow, and the Swiss are wrapping an age-old glacier in an insulating blanket as if it were a foundling. Meanwhile backcountry skiing in North America and ice fishing in the upper Midwest are in jeopardy, and any ski resort below 4,000 feet is worried. Winter in Vermont is now the equivalent of winter in Rhode Island a generation ago.

Sports Illustrated

Goodness... Next thing you know they'll be discovering overpopulation and peak oil.

Thu, 08 Mar 2007 07:21:07 PST - Link

March 7, 2007

Anna Nicole Is Dead!

It was also announced recently, without the same media feeding frenzy, that another queen of mass-culture is dead too. Few of us even know her name. Rather than being the personification of the contemporary zeitgeist, she is one of the cornerstones of what Marx called global capitalism’s base. She was an integral part of the concrete material conditions that make our peculiar form of social organization possible. Her name is Ghawar, and she is the mother-of-all oil fields. She was once a veritable sea of light sweet crude 174 miles long and 12 miles wide, under the sands of the eastern province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and now she is dead.

Common Dreams

Wed, 07 Mar 2007 20:07:11 PST - Link

(Motley) Fool Discovers Peak Oil

7) This is the most significant one for me choosing to bail out now. I want the money to invest elsewhere. I've become convinced by the peak oil argument, and think it's happening right about now. Coincidentally oil companies are good value right now with low P/Es and good dividends. If my feeling for peak oil recession might be on the way, but with oil companies going against the trend. If I'm not right, then I'm buying oil companies cheap and they should outperform anyway.

nativity in the post of the day on Motley Fool Community.

Not the same as the editorial board weighing in on the subject, but this is how information bubbles up.

Wed, 07 Mar 2007 09:07:06 PST - Link

March 6, 2007

Ghawar Is Dying

I can picture a Mercedes Unimog lumbering alongside pipelines in the desert, stopping at each well head. At each stop, a man climbs down from the machine and walks over to the well. He looks and records a number from the gauge, then returns to the truck. This scene plays out over and over. It would take days to record all the numbers from the wells in the Ghawar. Still, it must be done. Those hand-written numbers are given to a field technician who dutifully records them, one well at a time, in a computer database. All that data gets sent to the Saudi government, where the numbers are studied, analyzed, and agonized over. If the figures are the same as or higher than the last figures, life is good. If not, then what?

What if the Ghawar IS dying? It would be easy enough to play with the numbers for a year or two—until the decline rate starts to speed up and the loss can't be hidden. After that? Plan B might call for a declared "voluntary reduction" in oil production to "stabilize the market at the optimum level." Yeah, right. How in the world would you ever know exactly how much oil is being pumped or shipped from a country half way around the world to other countries you've never seen? The answer is obvious: You wouldn't. You never will. C'est la vie.

Chip Haynes — New Colonist Empahasis Added - J.

That article was written in August of 2001. Today, in Bloomberg we find...

The 10 [OPEC] countries, in an effort to bolster prices, pledged to trim a total of 1.7 million barrels a day from production in two rounds of cuts, one that started Nov. 1 and another that took effect Feb. 1. The producers cut an average of 1.03 million barrels a day over the period, today's survey shows.


Saudi Arabia, OPEC's biggest producer and the world's top oil exporter, cut output 150,000 barrels to 8.55 million barrels a day in February, the biggest decline of any member, the survey showed. Last month's production was the lowest for Saudi Arabia since April 2004. The kingdom has reduced production 8.3 percent since August.


Nice call, Nostradamus.

Tue, 06 Mar 2007 09:08:14 PST - Link

Tuesday Prius Blogging

Hybrid X is designed as a four door, four seat open-space concept. It has the dimensions of a conventional family car with an overall length of 4,500mm and wheelbase of 2,800mm. The width is 1,850mm and height 1,440mm. Hybrid X has been created and developed by Toyota's European styling centre, ED2, in the south of France. It proposes unconventional creative solutions that will themselves potentially become the signature points of a specific hybrid identity.


There's also a number of pictures in the gallery.

Tue, 06 Mar 2007 08:38:08 PST - Link

New Dim Age

June 14
It all started (for me) with just a small item on an Internet news page, "Trouble in the Kingdom". I thought they were talking about Disney World (the Magic Kingdom) so I clicked on it. Turns out they were talking about "the repercussions of curtailed social services in Saudi Arabia". (Insert a big yawning noise here.) So their kids don't get free day care? Big whoop. I scanned the article for any mention of M. Mouse and then went on with my life. My mistake. No biggie. Really.

June 15
Yesterday's headlines are still today's news? I guess those folks in the sand are really upset about something—it was in all the papers today. Sounds like the Saudi government is in for a tough time trying to rein in a runaway budget—and the locals don't like it one bit. Now their capital (Riyadh?) is a mess with people getting ugly in the streets. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no more subsidized housing. Deal with it, people. Get a job.

C. Haynes New Colonist

What follows are 58 days that might just happen.

Tue, 06 Mar 2007 07:52:51 PST - Link

March 5, 2007

The Pentagon Discovers Climate Change

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

Guardian [UK]

Oh man. I am so not sure what to do with this. Part of me is saying this report doesn't pass the smell test. Part of me is saying it's a real Pentagon report, written purposely so over-the-top as to discredit genuine climate concerns. Part of me is saying it's a real Pentagon report, but it was written by the same guys who claim to find WMDs when they clean the catbox. And there's a tiny little part of me shivering in the corner.

Mon, 05 Mar 2007 22:27:25 PST - Link

March 2, 2007

Production Number In Mirror May Be Smaller Than They Appear

Saudi Oil Production

Saudi Arabian oil declines 8% in 2006 Chart by Stuart Staniford in The Oil Drum

Follow the link for a larger chart. The Green Magenta and Cyan lines are production. The blue line is Oil Rigs.

The Saudis have more than doubled the number of rigs they have in the last two years, and the result was a flat year in 2005, followed by an 8% decline in 2006.

That's it. It's all downhill from here.

Fri, 02 Mar 2007 08:54:19 PST - Link

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 02 Mar 2007 07:38:51 PST - Link

Peak Oil Hits the GAO

A draft US Government Accountability Office report finds that, though it is difficult to assess whether the world has reached "peak oil," a large number of experts surveyed for the report believe the world may have reached the peak for conventional petroleum supplies, said Representative Roscoe Bartlett, Republican-Maryland.


Fri, 02 Mar 2007 07:38:51 PST - Link

February 28, 2007

No, Not That CSI

CSI found that the number of vehicle models sold in the United States that achieve combined gas mileage of at least 40 miles per gallon actually has dropped from five in 2005 to just two in 2007 - the Honda Civic hybrid and the Toyota Prius hybrid.

Overseas, primarily in Europe, there are 113 vehicles for sale that get a combined 40 mpg, up from 86 in 2005. Combined gas mileage is the average of a vehicle's city and highway mpg numbers.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that nearly two-thirds of the 113 highly fuel-efficient models that are unavailable to American consumers are either made by U.S.-based automobile manufacturers or by foreign manufacturers with substantial U.S. sales operations, such as Nissan and Toyota.


Wed, 28 Feb 2007 08:02:26 PST - Link

Point - Counterpoint

In a Feb. 15 memo, England spotted a key fact that most everyone in this town has overlooked. "At noon on Jan. 20, 2009," he wrote, "many of the civilian Department of Defense (DOD) leadership positions will transition to a new Administration Team. This change, coupled with the normal rotation of military leadership, could disrupt many of the management process changes currently underway in the Department."

So "to ensure that warfighters and taxpayers receive maximum benefit from on-going initiatives," England suggested, "it would be highly desirable to complete current projects by the summer/fall of 2008."

Washington Post

But the strike nonetheless demonstrated that Al Qaeda and the Taliban appear stronger and more emboldened in the region than at any time since the American invasion of the country five years ago, and since the Bush administration claimed to have decimated much of their middle management. And it fed directly into the debate over who is to blame.

NY Times

Yeah. That's what they are thinking in Washington. This whole "Global War On Terror" will come to a glorious, successful end - just in time for the '08 presidential elections. I hope they put it on Al Qaeda's calendar too.

On a semi-related note, I never did believe that story last year about having caught Al-Qaeda's Barber. We all know he was really Al-Qaeda's #2 Barber.

Wed, 28 Feb 2007 08:02:26 PST - Link

February 27, 2007

Listen to George

If the Bush administration, for example, were to insist on a sure "success," then the "attack" would constitute nuclear war. The words in boldface are nuclear war, that's right, nuclear war — a first strike nuclear war.

We don't know what exactly is being planned — conventional GBU-28's or nuclear B61-11's. And that is the point. Discussion needs to be open. Nuclear war is not a minor matter.

George Lakoff in Huffington Post

Tue, 27 Feb 2007 21:51:38 PST - Link

Listen To Dave

If I had one wish, it would be that everyone who reads this blog would listen to the talk I gave to the NPR people last Thursday

Things here will make a lot more sense, imho, with the podcast as background. It lays a foundation that we will build on. I was thinking of ways I could trick people into listening to it. I thought maybe I could put a secret word near the end of the cast, and then require people to enter the secret word before they could gain entry to Scripting News after a certain date. Then I thought it would be better to just post the request, respectfully, here on the blog itself, and skip the tricks


I listened, and I encourage you to do the same. The talk was about many things, but the main undercurrent is the looming war on Iran, and how the press is 'covering' it, and how the press could cover it:

After what happened in 2003, here we are in 2007, the article again didn't question, even in the slightest, whether or not we're being fed propaganda. Now everybody, whether you live in a blue state, or a red state, has that intuition now, that maybe we are being lied to.

Tue, 27 Feb 2007 08:53:27 PST - Link

February 26, 2007

Edge Of The Abyss

Scott Ritter gave a chilling talk after last month's State of the Union. He's convinced that Bush has made up his mind about an attack on Iran, and we all know what that means.

Surprisingly, he believes that we have the troops to attack, but things get ugly after that...

[22:10] And what happens if these troops can't achieve victory in the time frame set forth by the president. Now we have to escalate it to the next level, well we've just used America's conventional air power. We've now exhausted America's conventional ground power - what's left?

Oh yeah, that's right, this is the same president, the same administration, the same congress — and I'll keep bringing this up — the same congress that has created what is known as not only usable nuclear weapons. (I hate that term because it means they're going to use them.) These are usable nuclear weapons but a nuclear implementation policy that allows the United States — for the first time since the end of the second world war, to consider the use of nuclear weapons - preemptively - in a non- nuclear situation.

That means that if a threat emerges, we can nuke 'em.

Mon, 26 Feb 2007 08:51:15 PST - Link

February 25, 2007

Sunday Plum Blossoms Blogging

Plum Blossoms

I've been under the weather the last couple of days, and we've been having the kind of weather that one feels under. When the clouds broke for a couple of minutes this morning, I had to get out and take a couple of pictures of the plum tree.

Sun, 25 Feb 2007 15:05:10 PST - Link

Connecting Dots

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The "redirection," as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

New Yorker

Comparing the debate on the "surge" or escalation of US troops in Iraq to a "sideshow" like media coverage of pop star Britney Spears' shaving of her head, New York Times columnist Frank Rich worries that, just as in August of 2001, President Bush is ignoring urgent warnings by counterterrorism officials about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Referring to "last week's terrifying but little-heeded front-page New York Times account of U.S. 'intelligence and counterterrorism officials' leaking urgent warnings about al Qaeda's comeback," Rich writes in his latest Sunday Times column, "ask yourself: Haven't we been here before?"

Raw Story

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.
Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

Times Online [UK]

Here we go again. If, no make that when, al Qaeda attacks the US mainland again, the Bush administration will use it as an excuse to bomb Iran, and not just the 'nuclear sites' — they are planning widespread destruction of civilian and conventional military infrastructure.

Sun, 25 Feb 2007 15:05:10 PST - Link

February 23, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging


T-chan, in mid roar. Or it might have been a yawn.

Fri, 23 Feb 2007 07:41:36 PST - Link

February 22, 2007

We Could Even Give Him A Golden Parachute - or - 0 For 6

When advising a board on how to evaluate a CEO, I tell them to review his or her performance in the following areas: implementing the company's fiscal and monetary policies, developing and successfully executing strategic plans, seeing that well-qualified personnel and managers are appointed, ensuring stability and long-range success, and respecting and protecting the charter and bylaws of the institution. How is President Bush doing on each of those counts?

If the United States were a company, would George Bush be our CEO? Salon

Failed. Failed. Failed. Failed. Failed. Failed.

Thu, 22 Feb 2007 08:11:48 PST - Link

February 20, 2007

Your Daily Minimum Requirement of Doom - or - Flip a Coin: Heads You Win, Tails You Drown.

A critical meltdown of ice sheets and severe sea level rise could be inevitable because of global warming, the world's scientists are preparing to warn their governments. New studies of Greenland and Antarctica have forced a UN expert panel to conclude there is a 50% chance that widespread ice sheet loss "may no longer be avoided" because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Such melting would raise sea levels by four to six metres, the scientists say. It would cause "major changes in coastline and inundation of low-lying areas" and require "costly and challenging" efforts to move millions of people and infrastructure from vulnerable areas. The previous official line, issued in 2001, was that the chance of such an event was "not well known, but probably very low".

Guardian [uk]

Sorry, This wasn't unexpected, but I'm still too bummed to comment.

Tue, 20 Feb 2007 08:55:13 PST - Link

Angry Bear, With Calculator

Cactus at the Angry Bear blog takes a multi part look at the economy under Democrats and Republicans.

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5]

Shorter cactus: If you care about your pocketbook, vote for Democrats.

Tue, 20 Feb 2007 08:06:31 PST - Link

Meanwhile Back In The Gulf...

A second US aircraft carrier has arrived in Middle Eastern waters as promised by US President George W. Bush in January amid an escalating crisis with nearby Iran over its nuclear program.

The USS John C. Stennis and its accompanying strike group joined the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Sea of Oman but has not yet entered Gulf waters, the US Fifth Fleet said Tuesday from its base in Manama.

Raw Story

Decider-Coach-Bush sent them into the game with a play from the sidelines:

US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.

It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.


Of course the US claims that Iran has no other use for enriched uranium that making bombs, but that's not quite true:

A report in today's Wall Street Journal paints a picture of an Iran in the early stages of an energy crisis. Although long considered an energy giant, the Persian Gulf country is facing the prospect of an oil output crash within a decade, and it may start rationing gasoline next month.

Raw Story

If we can keep Bush's finger off the trigger, Ahmadinejad will be facing gas lines by mid-summer. (You really don't want to be president of an OPEC country where your voters have to wait in gas lines.)

But none of this saber rattling would have been needed had the Bush administration not ignored a Iranian diplomatic overture in 2003.

Tue, 20 Feb 2007 08:06:31 PST - Link

February 17, 2007

Punctuating Dialogue

I'd always wondered how internal dialogue should be punctuated, and the classic Strunk and White is mute on the subject. Chapter 19 of Shaw's Punctuate it Right treats the use of italics, but does not broach their use for internal dialogue.

A search of the web found this example from writing-world.com:

What do we do now? Cindy wondered.

I had been hoping for a more authoritative source, but this example has a certain authority of its own, it looks right, and it reads right.

Sat, 17 Feb 2007 10:43:56 PST - Link

February 16, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory, Miko, T-chan [front to back]

Fri, 16 Feb 2007 07:52:19 PST - Link

February 15, 2007

Dangit Al, I'm Really Going To Miss Your Show

Al Franken made it official yesterday - the last day of his superb radio show.

He's running for Senate in the great but cold state of Minnesota, where I was born.

I think he'll make a great candidate for the same reason that he made a great radio host. He cared more about listening than he did for the sound of his own voice.

Thu, 15 Feb 2007 09:00:03 PST - Link

February 14, 2007

Not Your Father's Treason

Q: Sir, we've now learned through sworn testimony that at least three members of your administration other than Scooter Libby leaked Valerie Plame's identity to the media. None of these three is known to be under investigation. Without commenting on the Libby trial, then, can you tell us whether you authorized any of these three to do that or

BUSH: I'm not going to talk...

Q: ... whether they were authorized without your permission?

BUSH: Yes, thanks. I'm not going to talk about any of it.

Q: They're not under investigation, though, sir.

BUSH: I'm not going to talk about any of it.

Q: How about pardon, sir? Many people were asking whether you might pardon somebody...

BUSH: I'm not going to talk about it. Would you like to think of another question? Being the kind man that I am, I will recycle you.

Washington Post

I have nothing by contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are in my view the most insidious of traitors.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH [video]

Sorry, It's not a very romantic post for valentines day.

Wed, 14 Feb 2007 11:59:29 PST - Link

February 13, 2007

Taken' It Again - Again? Again?*

Some senior administration officials still relish the notion of a direct confrontation. One ambassador in Washington said he was taken aback when John Hannah, Vice President Cheney's national security adviser, said during a recent meeting that the administration considers 2007 "the year of Iran" and indicated that a U.S. attack was a real possibility. Hannah declined to be interviewed for this article.

Think Progress

Arguably, the main underlying motive for US aggression is the geostrategic significance of Iran and its energy resources. Iran has the world's second-biggest natural gas reserves after Russia, and still has significant oil reserves, although they are depleting. Moreover, Iran also recently forged close ties with Russia and China, both of which have invested heavily in Iran and supplied it with conventional weaponry.

Business Day [South Africa]

It's like Deja Vu all over again. But this time, with Afghanistan and Iraq both spiraling the drain, the administration cannot trot out its dubious 'evidence' of Iran's involvement to the United Nations. We've lost all credibility there. They cannot make a case to the American People for another war — the American People see that the Administration has botched its first two wars, and is in no mood for another.

In the meantime, Ahmadinejad holds all the cards. The Iranian enrichment plants will probably be closed — either by negotiation or by bombs — and bombs would solidify his position, and turn the Iranian people against the US.

With our forces pinned down in Iraq, you might ask Bush and the neocons, "You and who's army?". The answer is your children's army, and their children's army...

*America is waiting from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne

Tue, 13 Feb 2007 09:00:59 PST - Link

February 12, 2007

Supreme Court Overturns Dixie Chicks Grammys 5-4.

In a surprise move, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favor of stripping the Dixie Chicks of the 2007 Grammy Awards they picked up last night. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said: "Whatever happened to the Starland Vocal Band anyway? Afternoon Delight— now that's my kind of music!"

Mon, 12 Feb 2007 18:05:45 PST - Link

I wasn't going to blog today, but....

Don't you think the world would be a better place if the folks who count the votes for the Grammy awards had been in charge of counting the Florida vote in 2000, or the Ohio vote in 2004?

I see there are plans for a world lottery. I don't think I'll enter, where would I keep it if I won?

Mon, 12 Feb 2007 09:07:02 PST - Link

February 11, 2007

Where's The "Stop Him Before He Starts WWIII" Button?


Some view the spiraling attacks as a strand in a worrisome pattern. At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs. U.S. officials insist they have no intention of provoking or otherwise starting a war with Iran, and they were also quick to deny any link to Sharafi's kidnapping. But the fact remains that the longstanding war of words between Washington and Tehran is edging toward something more dangerous. A second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and NEWSWEEK has learned that a third carrier will likely follow. Iran shot off a few missiles in those same tense waters last week, in a highly publicized test. With Americans and Iranians jousting on the chaotic battleground of Iraq, the chances of a small incident's spiraling into a crisis are higher than they've been in years.


This is not going to end well. Not for Iran, not for us.

This train is heading for WWIII, and we really don't want to go there.

Can we impeach Bush now? Before it's too late? PLEASE?

Sun, 11 Feb 2007 18:56:15 PST - Link

How To Make Things Much, Much Worse:

At a farewell reception at Blair House for the retiring chief of protocol, Don Ensenat, who was President Bush's Yale roommate, the president shook hands with Washington Life Magazine's Soroush Shehabi. A grandson of one of the late Shah's ministers, Soroush said, "Mr. President, I simply want to say one U.S. bomb on Iran and the regime will remain in power for another 20 or 30 years and 70 million Iranians will become radicalized."

"I know," President Bush answered.

"But does Vice President Cheney know?" asked Soroush.

The president chuckled and walked away.

"I Know," he said. Right. That's not the problem

I have to think that Bush's religious faith puts him solidly in the "Forty-four percent of Americans believe that Jesus will return to earth to judge the living and the dead sometime in the next fifty years." *

Lately I've been wondering how Bush would act if his faith didn't tell him that the long-term interests of this world don't matter.

What if his faith (like mine) told him that humanity is in it for the long term — millions, if not billions of years.

What if he saw that the by the end of that "next fifty years" humanity will be well on its way to being forced into a sustainable energy existence, and that his administration's policy to place corporate profitability ahead of preparing for that imminent and inevitable shift will cause untold human suffering.

Of course, all of this speculation is for naught. Bush has his unmovable faith, and no petition of fact will bend his will.

We can warn him that each of the paths he has chose — on Iraq, on Iran, on the economy, on energy and on global climate change — is the path that leads to greater human suffering. But because of his faith, we can predict his answer: "I know".

Sun, 11 Feb 2007 10:15:36 PST - Link

February 10, 2007

Inventors Hall of Fame

Bob. The 3C100. Bob.

Bob Metcalfe has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of Ethernet.

I worked at 3Com in the very early days - That 3C100 transceiver there in the middle? That's the very first one built with a printed circuit board. (The previous prototype was built on vectorboard.

Bob was a very hands-on CEO in those days, that's him counting components at the top, and below, discovering that resistor leads are just the right size to draw blood. (We didn't let him solder, but his lead prep was okay.) We were doing that assembly in a conference room at 3000 Sand Hill Road, an address that now might fetch $70 per square foot in 2007.

Congrats, Bob. You deserve it.

Sat, 10 Feb 2007 20:59:14 PST - Link

February 10, 2007

Temple Leaves

Temple Leaves

Leaves in the Temple Pond — Nikon E990 2001.11.21

Sat, 10 Feb 2007 09:35:48 PST - Link

February 9, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory James

Tory James

Fri, 09 Feb 2007 13:27:00 PST - Link

Thoughts On 40 Days Of Bloggage

Early in January, I resolved to myself to write at least one blog entry each day for a month. I'd never pushed myself to do that before, and here it is the Ninth of February and I still haven't broken the blogging string. Now that Ive done my month (and change), I may force myself to skip a day soon just so I won't be tempted to obsess over this for a year. Here are a few observations on daily blogging...

I posed 69 separate 'items' in January, 2007. Yes, they show up as separate items in the RSS feed.

There were four Friday Cat bloggings. On January 19, that was the only content.

There were three or four days when I really had nothing, and forced myself to surf for blog fodder. I'm not going to do that anymore. That's not what this blog is about. (I Think...)

There was one random image from my collection, one crappy self-drawn comic, one "borrowed" chart, (It was from NOAA, a taxpayer funded organization), and one borrowed image from The Oil Drum.

Scrolling though the month, I think I'll lean toward more random images. Sorry, modem-surfs. This site needs more color.

I've posted a few links related to what I do for a living, but no photos yet. (Work frowns on that. I frown back and grumble.) I'm going to post when the product hits the market. Stay Tuned™

I've been publishing this website since 1998, and I'm still not sure what it's about. (If anyone can explain why you read it, I'd be much obliged.)

I released the comic under the Creative Commons, but the CC license statement is incompatible with my publishing system.

I'd added a macro that changes any occurrence of dash-dash in my input text to the m-dash: — and the CC license has embedded html comments, which require two dashes in a row.

I think I'll write a .CC macro to deal with this.

I never have explained my back end system, but it's very retro, I format blocks by placing a format tag (e.g. '.pqt' for 'paragraph-quoted' or '.imgl for 'image-left') on its own line before each paragraph or image, and the back end creates a temporary static HTML page and a temporary RSS feed. I then run the W3C validator on the HTML and the FEED validator and RSS Validator against the RSS feed in a set of frames, so I can fix any errors before I commit the content to the site.

Sorry, you'll never get back the time you wasted reading that.

I looked into doing an Atom feed, but the format seemed incompatible with the content style of my blog — I couldn't figure out a way to differentiate externally sourced content from my own words, and that's important to me.

I picked up a couple of new subscribers on bloglines and newsgator, but I'm down to 4 subscriptions from a high of near 20 last year on livejournal through RSS. I suspect that's because I'm not really a participant in the livejournal community — I didn't even set up the feed, that was Kyburg's doing (Thanks, D!)

The Paper Airplane section continues to be the the most popular part of the site.

Fri, 09 Feb 2007 13:27:00 PST - Link

February 8, 2007

It'll Be Just Like Iraq, Only Bigger!

"Everything the advocates of war said would happen hasn't happened," says the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, an influential conservative who backed the Iraq invasion. "And all the things the critics said would happen have happened. [The president's neoconservative advisers] are effectively saying, 'Invade Iran. Then everyone will see how smart we are.' But after you've lost x number of times at the roulette wheel, do you double-down?"

Vanity Fair

How does Bush double down? With your retirement savings, and your children's blood. Can we begin impeachment hearings now? Please?

Thu, 08 Feb 2007 08:59:20 PST - Link


Deep within the bowels of the Pentagon, policy planners are conducting secret meetings to discuss what to do in the worst-case scenario in Iraq about a year from today if and when President Bush's escalation of more than 20,000 troops fails, a participant in those discussions told me. None of those who are taking part in these exercises, shielded from the public view and the immediate scrutiny of the White House, believes that the so-called surge will succeed. On the contrary, everyone thinks it will not only fail to achieve its aims but also accelerate instability by providing a glaring example of U.S. incapacity and incompetence.


There it is. The Pentagon knows the surge will not work, but they can't hold a press conference to say it, it's a Pentagon secret.

Thu, 08 Feb 2007 08:37:25 PST - Link

More Secrets

It should be noted that we don't yet have returns in from the giant Saudi oil fields. Saudi production has dropped about 1 million barrels a day in the past year. The Saudis maintain they are simply cutting production due to a glut of oil and falling prices. Many outside observers, however, are suspicious that there may be more to the story. Various techniques of assessing the course of Saudi oil production suggest these giant fields, some of which have been in production for 60 years, are ready to go into rapid decline. If this is happening, the Saudis sure aren't going to tell us. [Emphasis added]

The Peak Oil Crisis: Connecting the Dots Falls Church News Press

Well, maybe the Saudis told Dick, but it's not like Dick to tell us. It's a secret, and Dick's good at keeping secrets — except secrets about the identity of CIA agents.

Thu, 08 Feb 2007 08:37:25 PST - Link

February 7, 2007

Simple Math - or - It's 11:59:30

Let's understand this in a little more depth. Each doubling cycle — 11 years, in our case, at 6% growth — is greater than the sum of all previous doubling cycles combined. This means that in the next 11 years, we will consume more than we have in our entire history. Every time we double, that is, when we go from one to two, from two to four, from four to eight, from eight to 16, and so forth, the last doubling cycle is greater than the sum of all the previous cycles — 16 is greater than 8+4+2+1, which is equal to 15. This is a mathematical law that is rarely understood, particularly by economists, who often assume resources are infinite. [Emphasis Added]

Business Day [South Africa]

This is a good time to re-introduce Dr. Albert Bartlett's presentation:

Arithmetic, Population and Energy:

On Oil consumption...

So let's look at this in a very nice graphical way. Suppose the area of this tiny rectangle represents all the oil we used on this earth before 1940, then in the decade to the 40's we used this much, that's equal to all that had been used in all of history. In the decade of the 50's we used this much, and that's equal to all that had been used in all of history. In the decade of the 60's we used this much, again that's equal to the total of all the proceeding usage. Here we see graphically what president Carter told us. Now if that 7% growth had continued through the 70's. 80's and 90's there's what we mean. That's all the oil there is.

On Population Growth

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. Well we can smile at those, we know they couldn't happen.

On Exponential Growth

Bacteria grow by doubling. One bacterium divides to become two, the two divide to become 4, become 8, 16 and so on. Suppose we had bacteria that doubled in number this way every minute. Suppose we put one of these bacterium into an empty bottle at eleven in the morning, and then observe that the bottle is full at twelve noon. There's our case of just ordinary steady growth, it has a doubling time of one minuet, and it's in the finite environment of one bottle. I want to ask you three questions.

Number one; at which time was the bottle half full? Well, would you believe 11:59,one minute before 12, because they double in number every minute.

Second Question; if you were an average bacterium in that bottle at what time would you first realize that you were running of space? Well let's just look at the last minute in the bottle. At 12 noon its full, one minute before its half full, 2 minutes before its 1/4 full than 1/8th than a 1/16th . Let me ask you, at 5 minutes before 12 when the bottle is only 3% full and is 97% open space just yearning for development, how many of you would realize there's a problem?

Wed, 07 Feb 2007 03:33:54 PST - Link

February 6, 2007

Et Tu, Wallstreet?

Successive U.S. administrations have taken little interest in either oil substitution or climate change, and the current one has even seemed to have a vested interest in the idea that the science of climate change is uncertain. In fact, we have spent the last large chunk of time in this country with a strong bias to feel-good data at the expense of accurate, hard data in this field. This attitude seems to be reflected in the spin on U.S. economic success, which we've commented on several times, exaggerating, sometimes substantially, the absolute and relative performance of the U.S. economy. It has certainly been reflected in the general desire for environmental issues to be benign and optimistic or to simply go away. There seems even to be a sense of exasperation at the idea that we should have a full analysis of possible severe risks. Probabilistic thinking — global warming may not have a cost — as opposed to black and white thinking, has never been easy or appealing, but in some areas, like this one, it is vital. We also seem to have developed, in the last 20 years, an even stronger preference for the short term over the long term, and for good news over bad than has been the general rule. Perhaps it has always been the case that even a minimal economic cost is always too much for long horizon projects that will benefit our children and grandchildren rather than us.

Jeremy Grantham, Dick Cheney's Investment Fund Manager in the GMO Quarterly Letter - January 2007 [pdf, site registration required]

This is a small pull from the letter, The Street puts it in perspective.

Peak Oil (Not mentioned by name in the GMO letter) and Global Climate Change are now seeping into the awareness of Wall Street, at least into the minds of those who are thinking further ahead than the next quarter.

There is also beginning to be some awareness on capitol hill, but not enough.

Tue, 06 Feb 2007 08:36:42 PST - Link

Historic, Strategic, and Moral Calamity


February 1, 2007

Mr. Chairman:

Your hearings come at a critical juncture in the U.S. war of choice in Iraq, and I commend you and Senator Lugar for scheduling them.

It is time for the White House to come to terms with two central realities:

1. The war in Iraq is a historic, strategic, and moral calamity. Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America's global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability.

2. Only a political strategy that is historically relevant rather than reminiscent of colonial tutelage can provide the needed framework for a tolerable resolution of both the war in Iraq and the intensifying regional tensions.

If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a "defensive" U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

A mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potentially expanding war is already being articulated. Initially justified by false claims about WMD's in Iraq, the war is now being redefined as the "decisive ideological struggle" of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism. In that context, Islamist extremism and al Qaeda are presented as the equivalents of the threat posed by Nazi Germany and then Soviet Russia, and 9/11 as the equivalent of the Pearl Harbor attack which precipitated America's involvement in World War II.

This simplistic and demagogic narrative overlooks the fact that Nazism was based on the military power of the industrially most advanced European state; and that Stalinism was able to mobilize not only the resources of the victorious and militarily powerful Soviet Union but also had worldwide appeal through its Marxist doctrine. In contrast, most Muslims are not embracing Islamic fundamentalism; al Qaeda is an isolated fundamentalist Islamist aberration; most Iraqis are engaged in strife because the American occupation of Iraq destroyed the Iraqi state; while Iran — though gaining in regional influence — is itself politically divided, economically and militarily weak. To argue that America is already at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Deplorably, the Administration's foreign policy in the Middle East region has lately relied almost entirely on such sloganeering. Vague and inflammatory talk about "a new strategic context" which is based on "clarity" and which prompts "the birth pangs of a new Middle East" is breeding intensifying anti-Americanism and is increasing the danger of a long-term collision between the United States and the Islamic world. Those in charge of U.S. diplomacy have also adopted a posture of moralistic self-ostracism toward Iran strongly reminiscent of John Foster Dulles's attitude of the early 1950's toward Chinese Communist leaders (resulting among other things in the well-known episode of the refused handshake). It took some two decades and a half before another Republican president was finally able to undo that legacy.

One should note here also that practically no country in the world shares the Manichean delusions that the Administration so passionately articulates. The result is growing political isolation of, and pervasive popular antagonism toward the U.S. global posture.

It is obvious by now that the American national interest calls for a significant change of direction. There is in fact a dominant consensus in favor of a change: American public opinion now holds that the war was a mistake; that it should not be escalated, that a regional political process should be explored; and that an Israeli-Palestinian accommodation is an essential element of the needed policy alteration and should be actively pursued. It is noteworthy that profound reservations regarding the Administration's policy have been voiced by a number of leading Republicans. One need only invoke here the expressed views of the much admired President Gerald Ford, former Secretary of State James Baker, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and several leading Republican senators, John Warner, Chuck Hagel, and Gordon Smith among others.

The urgent need today is for a strategy that seeks to create a political framework for a resolution of the problems posed both by the US occupation of Iraq and by the ensuing civil and sectarian conflict. Ending the occupation and shaping a regional security dialogue should be the mutually reinforcing goals of such a strategy, but both goals will take time and require a genuinely serious U.S. commitment.

The quest for a political solution for the growing chaos in Iraq should involve four steps:

1. The United States should reaffirm explicitly and unambiguously its determination to leave Iraq in a reasonably short period of time.

Ambiguity regarding the duration of the occupation in fact encourages unwillingness to compromise and intensifies the on-going civil strife. Moreover, such a public declaration is needed to allay fears in the Middle East of a new and enduring American imperial hegemony. Right or wrong, many view the establishment of such a hegemony as the primary reason for the American intervention in a region only recently free of colonial domination. That perception should be discredited from the highest U.S. level. Perhaps the U.S. Congress could do so by a joint resolution.

2. The United States should announce that it is undertaking talks with the Iraqi leaders to jointly set with them a date by which U.S. military disengagement should be completed, and the resulting setting of such a date should be announced as a joint decision. In the meantime, the U.S. should avoid military escalation.

It is necessary to engage all Iraqi leaders — including those who do not reside within "the Green Zone" — in a serious discussion regarding the proposed and jointly defined date for U.S. military disengagement because the very dialogue itself will help identify the authentic Iraqi leaders with the self-confidence and capacity to stand on their own legs without U.S. military protection. Only Iraqi leaders who can exercise real power beyond "the Green Zone" can eventually reach a genuine Iraqi accommodation. The painful reality is that much of the current Iraqi regime, characterized by the Bush administration as "representative of the Iraqi people," defines itself largely by its physical location: the 4 sq. miles-large U.S. fortress within Baghdad, protected by a wall in places 15 feet thick, manned by heavily armed U.S. military, popularly known as "the Green Zone."

3. The United States should issue jointly with appropriate Iraqi leaders, or perhaps let the Iraqi leaders issue, an invitation to all neighbors of Iraq (and perhaps some other Muslim countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Pakistan) to engage in a dialogue regarding how best to enhance stability in Iraq in conjunction with U.S. military disengagement and to participate eventually in a conference regarding regional stability.

The United States and the Iraqi leadership need to engage Iraq's neighbors in serious discussion regarding the region's security problems, but such discussions cannot be undertaken while the U.S. is perceived as an occupier for an indefinite duration. Iran and Syria have no reason to help the United States consolidate a permanent regional hegemony. It is ironic, however, that both Iran and Syria have lately called for a regional dialogue, exploiting thereby the self-defeating character of the largely passive — and mainly sloganeering — U.S. diplomacy.

A serious regional dialogue, promoted directly or indirectly by the U.S., could be buttressed at some point by a wider circle of consultations involving other powers with a stake in the region's stability, such as the EU, China, Japan, India, and Russia. Members of this Committee might consider exploring informally with the states mentioned their potential interest in such a wider dialogue.

4. Concurrently, the United States should activate a credible and energetic effort to finally reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace, making it clear in the process as to what the basic parameters of such a final accommodation ought to involve.

The United States needs to convince the region that the U.S. is committed both to Israel's enduring security and to fairness for the Palestinians who have waited for more than forty years now for their own separate state. Only an external and activist intervention can promote the long-delayed settlement for the record shows that the Israelis and the Palestinians will never do so on their own. Without such a settlement, both nationalist and fundamentalist passions in the region will in the longer run doom any Arab regime which is perceived as supportive of U.S. regional hegemony.

After World War II, the United States prevailed in the defense of democracy in Europe because it successfully pursued a long-term political strategy of uniting its friends and dividing its enemies, of soberly deterring aggression without initiating hostilities, all the while also exploring the possibility of negotiated arrangements. Today, America's global leadership is being tested in the Middle East. A similarly wise strategy of genuinely constructive political engagement is now urgently needed.

It is also time for the Congress to assert itself.

US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

That's how a serious person thinks about Iraq.

Tue, 06 Feb 2007 08:36:42 PST - Link

February 5, 2007

Breathtaking. Willful. Ignorance.

The results were startling. Only 13 percent of congressional Republicans say they believe that human activity is causing global warming, compared to 95 percent of congressional Democrats. Moreover, the number of Republicans who believe in human-induced global warming has actually dropped since April 2006, when the number was 23 percent.

Think Progress

Fools. Idiots. Morons. Imbeciles. Criminals. Ignoramus. Arrogant. Stupid. Primitive. Witless. Oblivious. Unenlightened. Blamable. Corrupt. Evil.

Evil. That's the word I was looking for. The 87 percent of congressional Republicans who are ignoring the overwhelming evidence of global climate change are Evil.

I'm too worked up and angry to write any more. Go listen to Bob Dylan's Positively 4th Street

Mon, 05 Feb 2007 20:36:49 PST - Link

Everything Is On The Table. Even The Table Itself Is On The Table.

Expand your view beyond the question of how we will run all the cars by means other than gasoline. This obsession with keeping the cars running at all costs could really prove fatal. It is especially unhelpful that so many self-proclaimed "greens" and political "progressives" are hung up on this monomaniacal theme. Get this: the cars are not part of the solution (whether they run on fossil fuels, vodka, used frymax™ oil, or cow sh*t). They are at the heart of the problem. And trying to salvage the entire Happy Motoring system by shifting it from gasoline to other fuels will only make things much worse. The bottom line of this is: start thinking beyond the car. We have to make other arrangements for virtually all the common activities of daily life.

James Kunstler in the Atlantic Free Press

There sure were a lot of Truck and Auto ads during the Superbowl...

Mon, 05 Feb 2007 08:34:20 PST - Link

February 4, 2007

Small Things You Can Do To Save The Planet

Kasumi Tendou

Back in December Daniel sent me a link to Japanese Ministry of the Environment, describing the many uses of the Furoshiki.

Here we see Kasumi Tendou of Ranma 1/2 making use of the Otsukai Tsusyumi or Basic Carry Wrap. Ms Yuriko Koike, Minister of the Environment in Japan is promoting the return of the Furoshiki.

I've created what you might call a "mottainai furoshiki". The Japanese word mottainai means it's a shame for something to go to waste without having made use of its potential in full. The furoshiki is made of a fiber manufactured from recycled PET bottles, and has a birds-and-flowers motif drawn by Itoh Jakuchu, a painter of the mid-Edo era.

The Japanese wrapping cloth known as the furoshiki is said to have been first used in the Muromachi Period(1392-1573), when people spread it out in place of a bath mat or wrapped one's clothes with it.

The furoshiki is so handy that you can wrap almost anything in it regardless of size or shape with a little ingenuity by simply folding it in a right way. It's much better than Plastic bags you receive at supermarkets or wrapping paper, since it's highly resistant, reusable and multipurpose. In fact, it's one of the symbols of traditional Japanese culture, and puts an accent on taking care of things and avoiding wastes.

It would be wonderful if the furoshiki, as a symbol of traditional Japanese culture, could provide an opportunity for us to reconsider the possibilities of a sound-material cycle society. As my sincere wish, I would like to disseminate the culture of the furoshiki to the entire world.

I hope Ms Koike will forgive me for such a long quote — I support her wishes and goals for using things to their full potential. I also hope Rumiko Takahashi and Kitty Animation will forgive my use of this image, In my defense I've purchased all of the Ranma manga, (In both Japanese and English) and the entire TV series (On both laser disk and DVD.)

While I have not yet secured my own furoshiki my wife and I have collected nine stout cloth bags that we use for our shopping:

Shopping Bags

Some of these go back to the late '80s: Ashton-Tate, NeXT and Brentano's are no more, and the Apple bags all have at least 10 years of use on them. I got the R&D bag at my orientation in '91. I'm expecting to get another 30 years out of them.

Sun, 04 Feb 2007 16:32:19 PST - Link

February 3, 2007

Just Imagine If Sanity Ruled The White House

Applying Occam's Razor to the facts we currently have at hand shows us that we have no hard evidence for Iranian government complicity in actively destabilizing Iraq. We now realize that Iran's involvement in Iraq is of a far less conspiratorial nature and is aimed at preserving its own national interest, just as the Saudis, Israelis and we Americans have on occasion covertly acted in Iraq to preserve ours. If that changes, I will present the facts in their entirety to the American people and then take decisive action. However, for the moment this is how matters stand. Yet my administration has consistently made statements which suggest otherwise even when they were then forced to admit a lack of hard evidence for their claims. Some will ask: "So what went wrong? How could my administration go so far off course with the facts at hand?"

Just Imagine If Sanity Ruled The White House News Hog

Go read the rest — this is a truly great analysis of the Drumbeat for war on Iran.

Sat, 03 Feb 2007 11:07:41 PST - Link

IPCC Summary for Policymakers

Brick-wall chart

The IPCC did release the Summary for Policymakers [pdf].

I was hoping for the whole report, but it looks like this is all we're going to get on the web.

The full underlying report will be published in English by Cambridge University Press. IPCC Press Release

Sat, 03 Feb 2007 08:50:27 PST - Link

February 2, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

T-ChanT-chan, who does not care much about climate change as long as there is warm bed to sleep on.

Fri, 02 Feb 2007 08:45:50 PST - Link

Shorter National Intelligence Estimate: We're _so_ screwed.

The Intelligence Community judges that the term "civil war" does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa’ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term "civil war" accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.

Iraq National Intelligence Estimate [pdf]

Fri, 02 Feb 2007 08:45:50 PST - Link

Crimes Against Civlization

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


The AEI has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of trustees.

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2004397,00.html Guardian [uk]

Say, I've found someone who emphasizes the shortcomings of the IPCC report:

...Tim Flannery says the report's findings are conservative and the real impact of global warming will be felt much sooner.

"The actual trajectory we've seen in the arctic over the last two years if you follow that, that implies that the arctic ice cap will be gone in the next five to 15 years," he said.

"This is an ice cap that's been around for 3 million years."

ABC [au]

Do you think the American Enterprise Institute will send Mr. Flannery a nice check for $10,000? This sounds like he's found a pretty major shortcoming in the IPCC report, and He should know, he's a scientist, and Australian of the year.

Make sure to listen to the audio on that link.

Fri, 02 Feb 2007 08:04:48 PST - Link

IPCC Climate Report Delayed

GENEVA, 2 May 2006 — In wake of several premature reports that have appeared recently in the media concerning “findings” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme), the IPCC would like to clarify that the process leading up to the 2007 release of its 4th Assessment Report is long, complicated and far from complete.

The Report of Working Group 1 will be finalised in early February 2007. The Working Group 2 Report will be completed in early April 2007, the Working Group 3 Report in early May 2007 and the Synthesis Report by mid-November 2007. The IPCC will provide detailed information about how journalists can access the final Reports (and their summaries for policymakers) well in advance of the sessions.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change website

Fri, 02 Feb 2007 07:19:55 PST - Link

February 1, 2007

Goodbye, Molly Ivins

Molly was a great American, a great Texan, and a great writer.

She's left us our marching orders:

The president of the United States does not have the sense that God gave a duck — so it's up to us. You and me, Bubba.

I don't know why George W. Bush is just standing there like a frozen rabbit, but it's time we found out. The fact is that WE have to do something about it. This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war, and it has to be stopped. NOW.

Read the rest at the Star-Telegram

Well folks, It's just us now. Let's get a shoulder under it and PUSH.

Thu, 01 Feb 2007 08:42:15 PST - Link

January 31, 2007

Recipe For Disaster - Serves 107,449,525

Oil revenues make up 33% of the Mexico government budget. At the current decline rate, combined with the current rate of increase in consumption, Mexico will become a net oil importer in 2 - 3 years. That means that in 3 short years 33% of the national budget will have to be replaced by tax increases or spending cuts or debt. Seems like a sure recipe for disaster.

Commenter Patrick in Econbrowser

I hadn't realized that 33% figure. I wonder if we won't start hearing a lot more about peak oil — on spanish language radio and television stations.

Wed, 31 Jan 2007 08:06:50 PST - Link

January 30, 2007

Our Booming Economy

This is another one of my preemptive strikes. Perhaps the most under-reported release of economic data is the quarterly data on housing vacancy rates from the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau just released the data for fourth quarter of 2006. This showed the vacancy rate for owner occupied housing hitting 2.7 percent. This is up 50 percent from the 1.8 percent rate of two years ago.

This is big news. The vacancy rate for ownership units has hovered near 1.5 percent for 50 years. It had never previously crossed 2.0 percent.

The American Prospect

I'm no expert in the area of Real Estate, but a 50% jump in two years means something has come loose.

Tue, 30 Jan 2007 07:55:09 PST - Link

The Climate Discussion Warms Up

WASHINGTON - Two private advocacy groups told a congressional hearing Tuesday that climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.

The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report.


And Bush has just signed Executive Order 13422 which places a Bush loyalist apparatchik within every agency of the USA.

'Cause that worked so well in back in the USSR.

Tue, 30 Jan 2007 07:55:09 PST - Link

Countdown to the IPCC Report

Earth's surface temperature could rise by 4.5 C (8.1 F) if carbon dioxide levels double over pre-industrial levels, but higher warming cannot be ruled out, according to a draft report under debate by the UN's top climate experts. pqn The draft — being discussed line by line at the four-day meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — grimly states that the evidence for man-made influence on the climate system is now stronger than ever.


The 'polished' report will be released in Paris on Friday, which means there will be a partial day of coverage, then by a day of spin and airing of evry crackpot they can find for 'balance', before the Sunday Morning Barking begins.

By Sunday afternoon, the big story will be the Superbowl, and The climate report will be 'old news'. Welcome to America.

Tue, 30 Jan 2007 07:55:09 PST - Link

What does it all mean?

* Possible disappearance of large glaciers in Himalayas, affecting one-quarter of China's population, many in India
* Continued increase in ocean acidity seriously disrupting marine ecosystems and possibly fish stocks
* Sea level rise threatens small islands, coastal areas such as Florida and major cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo

Nicholas Stern, chief British government economist in Mother Jones

Tue, 30 Jan 2007 07:55:09 PST - Link

January 29, 2007

Last Call, Gentlemen

The clock is ticking down on this administration. Bush has become the lamest of lame ducks. Nancy Pelosi is the real deal, and in the Senate committees, the rocks are beginning to be overturned. After a the resounding message of the 2006 election, and with his approval ratings reading like the temperature reports from Frostbite Falls in January, what's a president to do? Why, grab more power, of course!

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 — President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president's priorities.

New York Times

I think they are talking about this innocuous looking paragraph in Executive Order 13422 of January 18, 2007

(b) by amending the first sentence of section 6(a)(2) to read as follows: "Within 60 days of the date of this Executive order, each agency head shall designate one of the agency's Presidential Appointees to be its Regulatory Policy Officer, advise OMB of such designation, and annually update OMB on the status of this designation."

That doesn't look so bad on the face of it, but then comes this:

"Sec. 9. Significant Guidance Documents. Each agency shall provide OIRA, [Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs] at such times and in the manner specified by the Administrator of OIRA, with advance notification of any significant guidance documents. Each agency shall take such steps as are necessary for its Regulatory Policy Officer to ensure the agency's compliance with the requirements of this section. Upon the request of the Administrator, for each matter identified as, or determined by the Administrator to be, a significant guidance document, the issuing agency shall provide to OIRA the content of the draft guidance document, together with a brief explanation of the need for the guidance document and how it will meet that need. The OIRA Administrator shall notify the agency when additional consultation will be required before the issuance of the significant guidance document.

Just so you know, this executive order is modifying Executive Order 12866 : Regulatory Planning and Review issued on September 30, 1993 By President William Clinton.

The original contains this paragraph, which sounds quite comforting if you substitute "Al Gore" for Vice President, but sounds a little more ominous when you apply it to the current holder of that office.

(c) The Vice President. The Vice President is the principal advisor to the President on, and shall coordinate the development and presentation of recommendations concerning, regulatory policy, planning, and review, as set forth in this Executive order. In fulfilling their responsibilities under this Executive order, the President and the Vice President shall be assisted by the regulatory policy advisors within the Executive Office of the President and by such agency officials and personnel as the President and the Vice President may, from time to time, consult.

Maybe Bush was uncomfortable with these sections as well, since that paragraph, and a surprising number of other references to the Vice President, were struck in his Executive Order 13258.

Here's The Executive Order, as it stands today, with the changes implemented.

Mon, 29 Jan 2007 20:27:58 PST - Link

Stop. Listen. Look.

Each year since 1979 the Royal Society for Protection of Birds has urged people across the country to spend an hour in their garden or park and take a note of the number and types of birds they spot. The annual snapshot provides crucial information on bird populations and migration trends.

But this year the annual Big Garden Birdwatch has revealed how the predicted devastating impact of global warming on Britain's bird species is taking effect. Although the expected half-a-million results won't be fully collated until March, early indications appear to confirm the worst fears of bird lovers.

The Independent UK

It's not just England. My mother spoke often of this - how each year the population of song birds up in Green Bay seemed to keep dropping. I've noticed it in San Jose as well. We've had a lot of songbirds this month, but much of the year all we have are crows and ravens. Nevermore.

Mon, 29 Jan 2007 13:01:12 PST - Link

Pay Attention

Another major mistake made by those who fail to pay attention is overlooking the unanticipated consequences of new technology, which more often than not add additional layers of problems to existing ones. In the energy sector, one of the most vivid examples is seen in the short history of the world's last truly great oil discovery, the North Sea fields between Norway and the UK. They were found in the '60s, got into production in the late '70s, and were pumping at full blast in the early '90s. Then, around 1999, they peaked and are now in extremely steep decline—up to 50 percent a year in the case of some UK fields. The fact that they were drilled with the latest and best new technology turns out to mean that they were drained with stunning efficiency. "New technology" only hastened Britain's descent into energy poverty. Now, after a twenty-year-long North Sea bonanza in which it enjoyed an orgy of suburbanization, Great Britain is again a net energy importer. Soon the Brits will have no North Sea oil whatsoever and will find themselves below their energy diet of the grim 1950s.


This is a long and devastating article. Don't read it alone, or in the dark.

Mon, 29 Jan 2007 08:45:22 PST - Link

January 28, 2007

The Dog Ate My Diplomacy

The Bush administration has assured the world that it is seeking a diplomatic resolution to its differences with Tehran. My question is this: What actual diplomatic activities have taken place? The Bush administration has a long track record of saying one thing and doing quite another, so when they say 'diplomacy' what do they mean?

The Bush administration doesn't have to keep it a secret — the Iranians surely know if they have approached diplomatically. I'm concerned that the administration's silence on this issue is not to conceal a vigorous diplomatic endeavor, but to conceal the manifest dearth of diplomatic efforts.

But wait, there is this...

TEHRAN: Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Sunday that Tehran has received a letter from the United States which sought to resolve a dispute between the two countries.

"There has been a message from American officials," the spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseni, told reporters at a press conference in Tehran.

Hosseini did not provide any information on the content of the note, or identify the US officials who sent it, saying only that Tehran was "studying" the note. " "In the message, (they) want to ease the current case, which was unfortunately complicated because of policies of the United States and some other countries’ officials," Hosseini said. — Daily Times of Pakistan

A letter? It's a start I suppose. Maybe they should have made a trip down to Hallmark and looked through the "Let's talk before we start WWIII" section. This is important. We should care enough to send the very best.

Well anyway, it's a start. Or is it?

Iranian media this week reported that five US senators, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, a Democrat, have sent a letter to Tehran. Neither Tehran nor Washington confirmed such a note. — Daily Times of Pakistan

Could it be that this letter came not from the Bush Administration at all, but from Senate Foreign Relations Committee? A Committee controlled by Democrats?

No, Mr. Bush. You can't have another war. You haven't finished your first two.

Sun, 28 Jan 2007 15:58:39 PST - Link



Sunrise in Shenzhen China, 2006.11.17

Sun, 28 Jan 2007 12:22:32 PST - Link

January 27, 2007

"You dislike me, right now, you dislike me!"* - or - If Wishes Were Fishes We'd All Be Castanets!

The president’s approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll’s history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who’d prefer the GOP to remain in the White House. msnbc

Yes, yes. Please count me in the majority who "wish the Bush presidency were simply over."

* With apologies to Sally Field, who I do like.

Sat, 27 Jan 2007 10:07:47 PST - Link

Peak Oil Hits Mexico

First, let's have a look at having the largest oil field (Cantarell) in the western hemisphere can do for a country:

Lofty oil prices have showered Mexico's treasury with a tax windfall in recent years. Last year, revenue from the nation's crude exports reached an all-time high of $34.7 billion, a 23% increase from 2005. The bonanza has spurred economic growth and helped the nation expand anti-poverty programs and beef up essential services.— LA Times

But there are clouds on the horizon...

Production at Mexico's principal oil field is falling rapidly, with nothing on the horizon to replace it. Output at the aging Cantarell field was down more than 17% through the first 11 months of 2006. — LA Times

Very Dark Clouds...

In any case, this would be a net decline of about 1.2 mbpd over a three year period (12/05 to 12/08), which would be an annual net decline rate of 15% per year. Note that if we use average annual values, we will get a lower annual decline rate, but IMO where we have declining (especially rapidly declining) production, month to month comparisons give us a better prediction of production for a given future month.

Unless Mexico drastically curtails their domestic consumption, at the projected decline rate, Mexico will effectively cease to be a net oil exporter by the end of 2008, just in time for the US presidential elections. I wonder how well efforts to curtail domestic oil consumption, in order to ship oil to the north, will go over in Mexico? — Jeffery Brown (aka westexas) in The Oil Drum [Emphasis added]

34.7 billion divided by a population of 107,449,525 is $322.94, which is no small thing in a nation where 40% live below the poverty line. It gets much worse beyond 2008, when Mexico either rides the depletion curve, or becomes a net importer of oil. I wonder if it's too much to connect the dots to this story...

ARLINGTON, Virginia - KBR announced today that its Government and Infrastructure division has been awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to support the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency. KBR is the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton (NYSE:HAL).


The contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs. The contingency support contract provides for planning and, if required, initiation of specific engineering, construction and logistics support tasks to establish, operate and maintain one or more expansion facilities.

The contract may also provide migrant detention support to other U.S. Government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, as well as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency, such as a natural disaster. In the event of a natural disaster, the contractor could be tasked with providing housing for ICE personnel performing law enforcement functions in support of relief efforts.


Yes, THAT Halliburton

Sat, 27 Jan 2007 09:49:36 PST - Link

January 26, 2007

Bush's Real Energy Policy

The hopes for this neglected lab [National Renewable Energy Laboratory] brightened a bit just over a year ago when President Bush made the first presidential call on the lab since Mr. Carter and spelled out a vision for the not-too-distant future in which solar and wind power would help run every American home and cars would operate on biofuels made from residues of plants.

But one year after the president’s visit, the money flowing into the nation’s primary laboratory for developing renewable fuels is actually less than it was at the beginning of the Bush administration. The lab’s fitful history reflects a basic truth: Americans may have a growing love affair with renewables and the idea of cutting oil imports and conserving energy, but it is a fickle one.

New York Times

The New York Times forgot to mention that the budget for this lab had been cut prior to Bush's visit last year. and the administration had to scramble to find the money to re-hire 32 workers.

Fri, 26 Jan 2007 08:10:50 PST - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


Tchan, soaking up some sun.

Fri, 26 Jan 2007 07:46:58 PST - Link

January 25, 2007

Ban Comic Sans

Apropos of nothing, ban comic sans is an entertaining and informative site on the abuse of the comic sans font. Fortunately for us, there is a gainormous section of cunning free fonts that you can use to replace comic sans.

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 21:49:26 PST - Link

The Build Up

A forthcoming U.N. report on climate change will provide the most credible evidence yet of a human link to global warming and hopefully shock the world into taking more action, the panel's chairman said on Thursday.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due for release on Feb. 2 in Paris, draws on research by 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries and has taken six years to compile.


I've been seeing a lot of coverage of this, 275 stories are presently listed in Google News just now. I'm a little surprised to see this much coverage a week and change ahead of the release of the first of the reports — it feels like something big (and warm) is in the air.

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 08:59:09 PST - Link

January 24, 2007

Checking My SOTU Predictions

I've gone though yesterday's predictions and looked for the results. It looks like I made a total of 16 predictions for the address itself, read on to see how I did.


1) At some point in the address, Bush will use the expression "What [(someone or some group or some country) who isn't doing what he wants] has got to understand..." Judging from the (solo) rumblings of war drums, he'll be talking about Iran. I've always hated his use of the expression has got to understand... because it's always given with that same tone he uses on his dog Barney: "What Barney has got to understand is... If Bush had cats, we'd have a better foreign policy. You can demand that cats understand all day long, but they never will. Cats simply do what they want, when they want to do it, kind of like sovereign nations. You have to meet cats halfway if you want to live with them.


Score: 0:1 He didn't use the expression. Huh. Dang. I'm down by one, but he should still get a cat.


2) Bush will push for higher CAFE fuel efficiency standards — or so it will appear. It will sound like a bold initiative, and will probably be coached in terms like "CAFE standards modernization", or "CAFE standards reform". It will get front page coverage, and will lead all of the post SOTU analysis. However, when the proposal finally leaves the executive branch, it will have the net effect of lowering fleet mileage, probably by giving SUVs new special exemptions of they are E85 ready, or by bracketing types of vehicles by weight.


Score: 2:2

At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks

I'll take one point each for modernize and one for reform, but one to the other side for missing the post SOTU buzz — which was all about Iraq.


3) Alcohol as fuel will be a cornerstone of his energy policy. This is unfortunate because the energy delivered from the end product alcohol is barely above the input energy contributed by fossil fuels, to make that alcohol. (Not to mention the loss of precious topsoil to fuel the 2-ton Escalades.) Peak Oil will not be mentioned in 2007. (Wait for 2008)


Score 4:2

We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol - using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.

I'll take one point for ethanol, and one for not mentioning peak oil.


4) Plug-in hybrids will get a mention, as will hydrogen fuel cells (Which have all but been abandoned for transport use) but all-electric cars will be ignored, which is too bad since that's what 90% of our fleet needs to be in 100 years — if there are to be personal passenger cars in 100 years. They'll be fueled by photovoltaics and windmills, but don't tell Bush.


Score : 6:3

We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles

I'll take one point for hybrid, and one for not mentioning electric vehicles, but there was no mention of fuel cells, one to the other side.


5) The surge in Iraq will be tied to the war in Iraq which will be tied to the wider war on terror, which will be tied to 9-11. Q.E.D.


Score: 7:3 This was a gimme.


6) Osama. Bin. Forgotten.


Score: 7:4

And Osama bin Laden declared: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."

Okay, Bin Laden has not been forgotten, apparently Bush kept a book of his quotes. (I prefer the quotes of Lazarus Long: "Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.")


7) Social Security Reform. Bush sees Social Security as the Iraq of governmental programs. If he could, he would order shock and awe on the Social Security Administration, and bomb the program into the stone ages. (Say — has anyone checked the Delaware for carrier battle groups?)


Score: 7:5

Everyone in this Chamber knows this to be true - yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act. So let us work together and do it now. With enough good sense and good will, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid - and save Social Security.

Well, I'll be... he actually said "Save Social Security". (I don't believe him, but that point still goes on the other side.)


8) After years of being in total control of everything in Washington, Bush will give an impassioned plea for bipartisanship.


Score: 8:5

That is why it is important to work together so our Nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. And this is why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties.

This is one of several examples. I won't pad the score, I'll take just one point.


9) Global Warming? Not so much. Bush will call for more research, then cut funding. Reports will be issued, but not until the administration edits them. Words are cheap, and the ones he'll use on global warming will have been purchased 1/2 off at Walmart.


Score: 9:6

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment - and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

Counting syllables: 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 3 2 1 2 2 1 — Cheap words indeed. I'll take one point. There was no explicit call for research into climate change — one for the other side. The future predictions will have to wait.


10) After Years of experience. giving speeches. Bush will add his own. periods to sentences.


Final Score: 10:6

Not as bad as usual, but I'll take that point.

End result: 62.5% correct predictions — Not too bad, if I say so myself.

Wed, 24 Jan 2007 07:32:12 PST - Link

January 23, 2007

Worst. SOTU. Ever.

But on the other hand, the Democratic response was riveting:

When one looks at the health of our economy, it's almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it's nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.


The president took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable and predicted disarray that has followed.


The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

Tue, 23 Jan 2007 20:46:01 PST - Link

SOTU Predictions

Here are my predictions for tonight's state of the union address.

1) At some point in the address, Bush will use the expression "What [(someone or some group or some country) who isn't doing what he wants] has got to understand..." Judging from the (solo) rumblings of war drums, he'll be talking about Iran. I've always hated his use of the expression has got to understand... because it's always given with that same tone he uses on his dog Barney: "What Barney has got to understand is... If Bush had cats, we'd have a better foreign policy. You can demand that cats understand all day long, but they never will. Cats simply do what they want, when they want to do it, kind of like sovereign nations. You have to meet cats halfway if you want to live with them.


2) Bush will push for higher CAFE fuel efficiency standards — or so it will appear. It will sound like a bold initiative, and will probably be coached in terms like "CAFE standards modernization", or "CAFE standards reform". It will get front page coverage, and will lead all of the post SOTU analysis. However, when the proposal finally leaves the executive branch, it will have the net effect of lowering fleet mileage, probably by giving SUVs new special exemptions of they are E85 ready, or by bracketing types of vehicles by weight.


3) Alcohol as fuel will be a cornerstone of his energy policy. This is unfortunate because the energy delivered from the end product alcohol is barely above the input energy contributed by fossil fuels, to make that alcohol. (Not to mention the loss of precious topsoil to fuel the 2-ton Escalades.) Peak Oil will not be mentioned in 2007. (Wait for 2008)


4) Plug-in hybrids will get a mention, as will hydrogen fuel cells (Which have all but been abandoned for transport use) but all-electric cars will be ignored, which is too bad since that's what 90% of our fleet needs to be in 100 years — if there are to be personal passenger cars in 100 years. They'll be fueled by photovoltaics and windmills, but don't tell Bush.


5) The surge in Iraq will be tied to the war in Iraq which will be tied to the wider war on terror, which will be tied to 9-11. Q.E.D.


6) Osama. Bin. Forgotten.


7) Social Security Reform. Bush sees Social Security as the Iraq of governmental programs. If he could, he would order shock and awe on the Social Security Administration, and bomb the program into the stone ages. (Say — has anyone checked the Delaware for carrier battle groups?)


8) After years of being in total control of everything in Washington, Bush will give an impassioned plea for bipartisanship.


9) Global Warming? Not so much. Bush will call for more research, then cut funding. Reports will be issued, but not until the administration edits them. Words are cheap, and the ones he'll use on global warming will have been purchased 1/2 off at Walmart.


10) After Years of experience. giving speeches. Bush will add his own. periods to sentences.

Tue, 23 Jan 2007 08:42:22 PST - Link

January 23, 2007

If You Want Less Of Something, Tax It.*

Bush is proposing to make health insurance premiums taxable income, with people who get employer-provided plans that cost more than $15,000 a year facing a tax hike if they do not get cheaper insurance, the White House said. Average family coverage offered by employers costs about $11,500 annually.


* Or so say compassionate conservatives. Does this means Bush wants less health care?

Tue, 23 Jan 2007 07:30:50 PST - Link

January 22, 2007

National Stupidity Estimate

Soon after that story was posted, six U.S. senators called for a new NIE on Iraq, and in August the Senate passed an amendment demanding that one be prepared. I've just learned that—months later and to the immense frustration of Congress—the new NIE is still not ready.

The situation came to a head last week, during a closed-door session of the Senate Armed Services Committee. This committee expected to be briefed on the long-awaited NIE by an official from the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which coordinates NIEs by gathering input from all of the nation's various intelligence agencies. But the NIC official turned up empty-handed and told the committee that the intelligence community hadn't been able to complete the NIE because it had been dealing with the many demands placed upon it by the Bush Administration to help prepare the new military strategy on Iraq. He then said that not all of the relevant agencies had contributed to the NIE, which has made it impossible to put together a finished product.


Mon, 22 Jan 2007 08:22:35 PST - Link

View from Iran

Here's what they're talking about on the streets of Iran...

Trust me, the West underestimates Iranian patriotism and overestimates the connection between the way Arab political leaders feel (fear of Iran) and the way Arab people feel (respect for Ahmadinejad and his stand against the West).

Israeli sources seem to overestimate the chances of an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel and underestimate the response to an attack on Iran. I think that despite the Shi'a - Sunni split, most Muslims would see an attack on Iran as further evidence of anti-Islamic furor. I am going on record as saying the attack will not make Israel or any of the Arab states or America any safer. I am willing to say right now that the opposite will be the case.

View from Iran - Blog

And here's why...

President George Bush will order an attack on Iran if it becomes clear to him that Iran is set to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities while he is still in office, Richard Perle told the Herzliya Conference on Sunday. Perle is close to the Bush administration, particularly to Vice President Richard Cheney.

The leading neoconservative and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute addressed the session on Iran's nuclear program. He said that the present policy of attempting to impose sanctions on Iran will not cause it to abandon its nuclear aspirations, and unless stopped the country will become a nuclear power.


Neocons. Why does it have to be... Neocons.

Mon, 22 Jan 2007 08:22:35 PST - Link

January 21, 2007

Telling Truth

Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth. — Oystein Dahle

Sun, 21 Jan 2007 18:01:44 PST - Link

I'm Number 143,739!

So says quantcast. Rank 143739 out of 20,093,999 sites puts this miserable excuse for a website in the top 1%. That can't be right, is it?

Nope. Probably not - popular blogs on blog sites, such as blogspot.com, are not ranked individually. Blogspot (all of it) is #24, I'm guessing there are thousands of Blogspot sites that would each individually have much higher traffic than this site.

Sun, 21 Jan 2007 09:22:31 PST - Link

January 20, 2007


One Cubic Mile of Oil

One Cubic Mile of Oil. From The Oil Drum. That's about how much we burned in 2006. I was overwhelmed by the scale of le Tour Eiffel, so this comparison really hits home.

The estimates are that there were about 64 of these 'cubes' of oil, and so far we've burned about 32 of them.

The good news is there are about 32 left.

The bad news is if we burn those last 32, we will trigger global climate change that will remake the face of the planet.

Sat, 20 Jan 2007 10:22:58 PST - Link

January 19, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging - (Replacement Edition.)


Update: The bad news is I was in a bit of a hurry this morning and managed to repost a cat picture from earlier this year. The good news is someone noticed before the day was out.
('Tis a lonely place, this blog!) Thanks Paul!


Fri, 19 Jan 2007 07:48:50 PST - Link

January 18, 2007

Mr. BARTLETT Of Maryland

But then in about 1980 there, you can see these two curves cross. I say two curves, because obviously you could draw a smooth curve through the peaks here, and these two curves crossed about 1980. Ever since 1980 we have been burning more oil than we found. Today we burn two or three barrels of oil for every barrel of oil that we find. So for this period, between 1980 to the present, we have been using up some of the reserves that we have back here, but still a lot of those reserves remain.

House of Representatives - January 17, 2007 Energy Bulletin

Thu, 18 Jan 2007 08:35:45 PST - Link

January 17, 2007


"Anderson, I respected you more when you were hosting the mole."

— Wife, while watching CNN's nonstop coverage of the returned kidnapped boys.

Wed, 17 Jan 2007 19:57:44 PST - Link

5 Minutes To Midnight - or - It's Hard Work

GW Bush on the Doomsday Clock

This deteriorating state of global affairs leads the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists—in consultation with a Board of Sponsors that includes 18 Nobel laureates—to move the minute hand of the "Doomsday Clock" from seven to five minutes to midnight.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Wed, 17 Jan 2007 07:32:03 PST - Link

January 16, 2007

The Melting Icecaps Of Democracy

During a floor speech on the topic moments ago, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said the White House has told her it was replacing from five to 10 Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys with its own interim appointees.

TPM Muckraker.com

But wait — there's more.

The administration is replacing U.S. Attorneys throughout the country. How'd they get that power?

It was an obscure provision in the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act, and it didn't take them very long to use it. The president signed it into law in March of last year — by June, they were already moving to replace unwanted prosecutors.

TPM Muckraker.com

I've got a bad, bad feeling about this.

Tue, 16 Jan 2007 22:03:09 PST - Link

The $1,200,000,000,000.00 War

1.2 Billion Dollars — so says The New York Times

That's $3,986.92 for every man woman and child in the USA, or $15,947.66 for a family of four.

Oops. That's 1.2 Trillion Dollars. With a "T"; Trillion

Trillion just isn't a word I get to use very often. (Thanks for the bug report, Bob)

Tue, 16 Jan 2007 21:48:44 PST - Link

WWJD = What Would Jefferson Do?

There is a decent chance that within the next month or two the New Mexico State Legislature will ask the U.S. House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. And there is the definite possibility that a Congress Member from New Mexico will take up the matter when it gets to Washington. The Jefferson Manual, rules used by the U.S. House, allows for impeachment to be begun in this manner. It only takes one state legislature. No governor is needed. One Congress Member, from the same state or any other, is needed to essentially acknowledge receipt of the state's petition. Then impeachment begins.

Last year the state legislatures of California, Minnesota, Illinois, and Vermont introduced but did not pass resolutions to send impeachment to the U.S. House. The State Senator who introduced the bill in Minnesota is now a member of Congress, Keith Ellison. He is one of many Congress Members waiting for the right moment to impeach Bush and Cheney. The state of New Jersey has a strong activist movement working to introduce and pass impeachment this year. There's a race now to see which state can do it first, which state can redeem these United States in the eyes of the world. New Mexico is jumping into the contest in a big way, with a terrific leading sponsor of the bill, strong Democatic majorities in both houses, and a citizens' movement ready to hold its government to account.


Here's therelevant section:

In the House there are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion: by charges made on the floor on the responsibility of a Member or Delegate (II, 1303; III, 2342, 2400, 2469; VI, 525, 526, 528, 535, 536); by charges preferred by a memorial, which is usually referred to a committee for examination (III, 2364, 2491, 2494, 2496, 2499, 2515; VI, 543); by a resolution dropped in the hopper by a Member and referred to a committee (Apr. 15, 1970, p. 11941; Oct. 23, 1973, p. 34873); by a message from the President (III, 2294, 2319; VI, 498); by charges transmitted from the legislature of a State (III, 2469) or territory (III, 2487) or from a grand jury (III, 2488); or from facts developed and reported by an investigating committee of the House (III, 2399, 2444). —[Emphasis Added]

Tue, 16 Jan 2007 08:04:26 PST - Link

January 15, 2007

Bush's Budget or Hell, Meet Handbasket.

The head of the GAO also warned that if no action is taken now to control government spending, severe tax hikes could be necessary. He stated that, "balancing the budget in 2040 could require actions as large as cutting total federal spending by 60 percent or raising federal taxes to 2 times today's level."

Raw Story

Mon, 15 Jan 2007 12:11:52 PST - Link

Earth Care Recycling

Of local interest, Earth Care Recycling set up a drop-off event in the parking lot of a local church, and we were able to recycle some electronics which had been accumulating in the garage over the years: An old Sony 19" monitor, a 12" TV (old enough to vote), a cassete deck from the Regan administration, A 15 year laser printer, a Macintosh 840AV, and a decrepit Hitachi laptop.

Earth Care has a 7/24 drop off on Bering Drive in San Jose. Do the right thing, recycle your discarded electronic items.

Mon, 15 Jan 2007 07:51:31 PST - Link

January 14, 2007

Revisiting The Limits To Growth

After Reading The Limits to Growth, I was amazed. No where in the book was there any mention about running out of anything by 2000. Instead, the book's concern was entirely focused on what the world might look like 100 years later. There was not one sentence or even a single word written about an oil shortage or limit to any specific resource, by the year 2000.

Mathew Simmons [.pdf]

Sun, 14 Jan 2007 09:12:45 PST - Link

The Axis of Oil - A Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing.

The consensus conclusion of the witnesses: the United States is in deep, deep trouble, facing the emergence of an “axis of oil” that threatens to recreate the bi-polar world of the Cold War, complete with Russia as a principal actor.

Normally the Committee deals with less weighty matters, like fuel efficiency standards for cars. But the incoming chairman, Senator Jeff Bingaman, decided to go for the big picture, and the big picture is not pretty. There was an almost palpable sense of graveness and alarm that lent a chill to the room. The vice chair of Goldman Sachs, Robert Hormats, was one of the witnesses, as was the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, Dr. Fatih Birol, so this was hardly a "green" group.

One Senator described the testimony as "frightening." And the outgoing Republican chair, Senator Domenici (R-NM), said that "what you told us today is absolutely startling with reference to the future." There appeared to be a genuine sense that some members really were surprised at how bad things look for the U.S. The shock was so great that after declaring himself a “"free-market conservative," Republican Jeff Sessions (R-AL) concluded the session by admitting that if you looked at energy as a national security issue rather than as a market commodity, Congress might be justified in spending more money on energy R&D and tax credits.

Global Public Media

Here's a link to a video recording of the committee hearing — The presentation begins at 17:30 into the recording. I'm a bit of a C-span junkie, and I've never heard a more startling, stark and sober presentation.

Hat tip to The Oil Drum for the links.

Sun, 14 Jan 2007 09:12:45 PST - Link

January 13, 2007

~~I Play My Red Guitar ~~

I love Youtube. Where else can you see David Sylvian play a solo acoustic version of my all-time favorite songs, Red Guitar?

I've wanted to work up an acoustic version this for years, but I always figured that a simple guitar background would completely miss the complexity and jazz syncopations that make the original so appealing. Sylvian proves with his acoustic version (Perhaps the original?) that the magic of this song remains, even when stripped to guitar and voice.

It's near the bottom of my vocal range, which makes it a bit of a challenge, but that makes it fun. I'm still working up the chords — near as I can tell, Sylvian is playing this with the guitar detuned one step.

Here's the original album version, from Sylvians first solo effort: Brilliant Trees.

Sat, 13 Jan 2007 09:46:27 PST - Link

January 12, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Miko Cleans Tory

Brother cleaning edition: Miko Cleans Tory.

Fri, 12 Jan 2007 08:05:01 PST - Link

Offered Without Comment:

C|Net | Forbes | Engadget | Google News Search

Fri, 12 Jan 2007 08:17:41 PST - Link

Snark Of The Day

Was it really a good idea to have Bush give Wednesday's address in front of more books than he's ever read?

Fri, 12 Jan 2007 08:05:01 PST - Link

January 11, 2007

Thus Spake ZaraBushda

Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. — G.W. Bush, 2007.01.10

Feh. We all know that toppling governments, creating regional chaos, and using oil revenues to fund ambitions, are exclusive franchises of the Bush administration.

Thu, 11 Jan 2007 08:43:25 PST - Link

To Fuse Or Not To Fuse

The large scale adoption of fusion energy will see tritium used on a scale vastly greater than has ever been seen before. Something like a 220kg per year of tritium will be consumed for every 1GW of continuous electrical generation, assuming that 4GW thermal will generate 2GW electrical of which 1GW will be used to provide all the inputs to the system leaving 1GW of output power. At present world-wide electrical consumption averages to a continuous 1700GW

Nearly all the worlds supply of non-military tritium comes from the heavy water used to moderate CANDU reactors and some of these will be closing down in the near future. The supply accumulated over 40 years of operation of CANDU reactors will peak in 2027 at 27kg.

The Oil Drum - Europe

This article is an extraordinary introduction to the limits of fusion power. (A must-read.)

Back of the envelope calculations say that the entire civilian world supply of 27kg of tritium could provide the world demand for electricity for just under 38 minutes. Now tell me, why are we still messing around with fusion?

Thu, 11 Jan 2007 08:24:36 PST - Link

So - The Ocean Says to New York, "Pull My Finger..."

According to U.S. maritime industry sources, tanker captains are reporting an increase in onboard alarms from hazard sensors designed to detect hydrocarbon gas leaks and, specifically, methane leaks. However, the leaks are not emanating from cargo holds or pump rooms but from continental shelves venting increasing amounts of trapped methane into the atmosphere. With rising ocean temperatures, methane is increasingly escaping from deep ocean floors. Methane is also 21 more times capable of trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Op Ed News

This is an unsourced, uncorroborated report, so take it with a grain of salt.

Thu, 11 Jan 2007 08:24:36 PST - Link

January 10, 2007

iWish - or - A Few Thoughts On Apple's iPhone

It' easy to make a great looking device when you charge $400 or $500 (with a two year commitment). (Update 2007.01.11 - It's $500 and $600!) The Sidekick III is $200. Oh—the things we could have done if the device cost budget was doubled (or Tripled!).

The Cingular Laptop data plans are (as of 2007.01.10):

$46.99 / Month — Laptop Connect (10MB) w/Wi-Fi
$79.99 / Month — Laptop Connect (50MB) w/Wi-Fi
$99.99 / Month — Laptop Connect (Unlimited) w/Wi-Fi

I don't know about you, but I probably burn 10 MB each day before breakfast.

FYI, the Sidekick Data Plan is $39.99 / Month — Unlimited

Back when iPod & iTunes were first announced, I opined that the real breakthrough was the business agreements with the labels that made the $0.99 song possible.

The big breakthrough here is not the iPhone device, it's the agreement Apple did with Cingular to waive the innovation - stifling handset rules. (Are you Listing to me T-Mobile? — Loosen the rules — or you loose.)

Sidekick Damage

The Time article is a great look behind the curtains. Give it a read. The stuff about dealing with a wireless carrier is particularly interesting.

As for the bit about the feet in the Time article, they are also there to prevent the back of the device from getting scratched. Most cell phones get a lot of abuse (especially the ones that are subsidized down to "free") so they have evolved such features.

The Sidekick II shown here belongs to a co-worker. He carried it everywhere for two years. He's a bit hard on phones. He never had a standard phone last 6 months. This one's been in two motorcycle accidents. It still works. I'll bet he'd be happy to do some testing on the iPhone. ^_^

Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:04:34 PST - Link

January 9, 2007

Connecting The Hots

USA Temperatures, 1895 to 2006. We're so screwed.

The 2006 average annual temperature for the contiguous U.S. was the warmest on record and nearly identical to the record set in 1998, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Seven months in 2006 were much warmer than average, including December, which ended as the fourth warmest December since records began in 1895. Based on preliminary data, the 2006 annual average temperature was 55 degrees F—2.2 degrees F (1.2 degrees C) above the 20th Century mean and 0.07 degrees F (0.04 degrees C) warmer than 1998.


Tue, 09 Jan 2007 12:55:59 PST - Link

Connecting The Dots

Yesterday, during an email discussion, I posited that the threat to civilization from terrorists, even those with nuclear or biological weapons, fell a distant fourth to the three front runners: Overpopulation, Peak Oil, and Global Climate Change.

I've traveled in England, France, Germany, and Japan — countries that suffered through world wars — and saw with my own eyes that civilization won out against that destruction. I'm not saying that we can ignore terrorists, far from it. I'm saying that terrorists can't win against civilization.

Today comes a couple of articles tying these issues together.

The poorer, "undeveloped" nations are feeling the pain first, as usual, and this pain is translating into political breakdown, violence, starvation, and genocide. At the same time, these poorer places are leaving the oil age behind. they have dropped out of the bidding as oil made its move above the $50-a-barrel mark. In these countries, there will no longer be fuel for electric generators or motor transport, and the primary manifestation of all that will be a breakdown of public health. Between the political death squads and the hospitals with no running water, tremendous forces for attrition are underway.

James Kunstler in Atlantic Free Press

Depletion analysts look to about a 2 percent per year decline in oil extraction following the peak of global oil production, with the rate increasing somewhat as time goes on. Regional natural gas decline rates will be much steeper. The dates for global production peaks for both fuels are of course still a matter for speculation; however, it is reasonable to estimate that we might see more than a 25 percent decline in energy available to the world's growing population over the next quarter-century as a result of depletion.

Richard Heinberg in Energy Bulletin.

Tue, 09 Jan 2007 08:04:02 PST - Link

January 8, 2007

And So It Begins..

Russia Halts Oil Deliveries to Germany

In an apparent escalation of a gas and oil dispute with Belarus, Russia on Monday temporarily halted oil deliveries to Germany. By shutting off the Druzhba pipeline, Moscow cut off the source of 20 percent of Germany's oil imports.

Spiegel Online

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 22:48:33 PST - Link

Lessig Unleashed

I'd seen Lawrence Lessig's talk at 23C3 blogged elsewhere, and it was even passed around at work, but I didn't have a chance to look it up until this weekend. I give it 4 stars. Google Video has a number of other Lessig talks to choose from.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 09:01:14 PST - Link

More Gore

Google Video also has a number of talks by Vice President Al Gore. My favorite is the interview he did on the Charlie Rose show. There's also a video of his stage presentation that was the basis for the movie An Inconvenient Truth.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 09:01:14 PST - Link

January 7, 2007

Worst. Idea. Ever.

ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.

Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear "bunker-busters", according to several Israeli military sources.

Times Online [London]

A first strike using Nukes is such a bad idea I can't even coherently comment on it.

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 09:01:59 PST - Link

It's About Armor. For Cats. And Mice. Armored Cats and Mice.

Jeff Deboer

Tory would love this!

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 09:01:59 PST - Link

The War On Peanuts

The menace of global terrorism has been labeled the greatest threat to western civilization since communism and yet swimming pools, peanuts and lost deer kill more Americans every single year. Why are our governments facilitating the terrorist's agenda by hyping a peril that simply doesn't exist?


To equal the danger that Americans place themselves in every day by driving their car down the highway, there would have to be a September 11 every month. To reach the same level of risk that one undertakes in boarding an airline, you only have to travel eleven miles in a car.

Prison Planet *

And the numbers might be even more skewed had this administration actually paid attention to their CIA director George Tenet and 'terrorism czar' Richard Clarke...

Clarke said that "on June 21, I believe it was, George Tenet called me and said, 'I don't think we're getting the message through. These people aren't acting the way the Clinton people did under similar circumstances.' And I suggested to Tenet that he come down and personally brief Condi Rice, that he bring his terrorism team with him.

"And we sat in the national security adviser's office. And I've used the phrase in the book to describe George Tenet's warnings as 'He had his hair on fire.' He was about as excited as I'd ever seen him.

"And he said, 'Something is going to happen.'"


And it did happen.

* Hat tip to Bob for the link.

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 08:14:29 PST - Link

January 6, 2007

On Soda Straws, Ice Cube Trays, and Net Neutrality

A friend of mine sent me an email thread on the topic of net neutrality, asking for my comment. I'm posing my response here, as I thought it would be an interesting topic for a blog post.

I'm not sure I was able to follow all of the nuance of the conversation below, but here is my take. (As a simple country engineer.)

Today, my model of access to the Internet is that my ISP is like a straw, and the Internet is a huge ice-cube tray, each little opening filled by the individual content provider with the flavor they wish to provide.

Net Neutrality says that I am the one who directs that straw, and that I have decided to pay for a particular maximum draw rate, and that each of the content providers has decided, individually, how many straws they can support slurping at the same time.

Net neutrality also says that my straw can reach any of the content providers, as if they were an equal distance away.

Net Neutrality says my ISP has no say over where I dip my straw, nor may they may make any modification to the contents in my straw. I pay them for access to the straw, pure and simple.

Net Neutrality says nothing about the content from each provider, nor does it limit the the number of straws that a provider may elect to support.

In sum, Net Neutrality provides the ultimate level playing field, and is as close to the perfect, 'frictionless' market as I can imagine. My lowly website, www.JosephPalmer.com , is just as accessible as the sites of the largest corporations, most prestigious universities and most powerful governments of the world.

The Argument against Net Neutrality (Hereafter referred to as AaNN) appears to be that there are a some service (profit) opportunities that would require significant investment in infrastructure (the so-called fast lane) which must some how be funded, presumably by the people at each end of my virtual straw.

The AaNN is that the proposed implementation of these services on these so-called 'fast-lanes' require that some of the openings in my 'ice-cube tray' appear much closer and much larger, and to pay for this infrastructure upgrade, my ISP (fast lane provider) will have the profit incentive to push my straw into the content and service providers with whom they have a monetary relationship, and to put a kink in my straw were I to chose a similar service outside of that financial relationship. This financial relationship between my now Non-Neutral ISP and content and service providers serves to distort and add friction to the previously flat and frictionless marketplace of the World Wide Web.

I simply reject the notion that the delivery of the services so far described (teleconferencing, etc.) require any change to Net Neutrality policies. One need only look at the case of Akamai , who transparently provides delivery services to the content providers within the neutral framework, or WebEx , who provides Web Conferencing, or Skype , who are providing teleconferencing today.

The AnNN, while carefully cloaked in the guise of providing new services*, is really more about ISPs seeking higher rents for data access by channeling subscribers to paying providers, and depriving the subscriber of level-playing-field access to the rest of the web.


* We all know that the services described will take ages to be deployed to the subscriber base. Homes closer to the local exchange in my area were paying $29 per month for 1.5 Mb aDSL for years before we could get it in my neighborhood, where we had to pay $95 a month for 64Kb iDSL. You can bet the farm that everyone under any ISP will get the same restrictions and distortions of service years before half of the subscribers would see any benefit of the so-called 'fast lane'.

Sat, 06 Jan 2007 10:01:24 PST - Link

Clinton At Aspen Ideas

While combing though my website during the year-end rollover, I came across this tantalizing quote by Bill Clinton at the Aspen Ideas Conference:

"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." *

At the time, the audio and video from the conference were not available, but they are now, at this page.

The interview with Clinton is in the special events section.

Sat, 06 Jan 2007 08:14:47 PST - Link

January 5, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 05 Jan 2007 08:53:47 PST - Link

Seriously Pissed.

I'm watching C-Span. The Republicans seem to be in great duress to be living as a minority under the rules they enacted when they were the majority. Dennis Hastert couldn't even bring himself to perform the traditional handover of the speaker's gavel to Nancy Polosi. What's that about? Oh no, he di'nt!

You know, C-Span is way better than Survivor, or Big Brother, or any of the other reality shows. Although, there's not much in the way of tight-body bikini babes or buff guys in hot tubs on C-Span, not since Mark Foley left, anyway.

Oh, one more thing. If the Republicans really want bipartisanship, they can begin by stoping the ungrammatical and childish practice of calling the Democratic Party the "Democrat Party". Any Republican who continues to cleave to Gingrich's GOPAC memo "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control," cannot, and should not be taken seriously. That includes you, Newt.

To borrow (and bend) a phrase, Republicans are living in a pre-election 2006 world. The people have spoken, and they were seriously pissed.

Fri, 05 Jan 2007 08:53:47 PST - Link

January 4, 2007

"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?"

At the packed-to-the-rafters brunch preceding Nancy Pelosi's formal swearing in, Melinda and I ran into Wes Clark (and I mean that literally; like I said, it was packed). Clark was really angry about what he'd read in this column by UPI Editor at Large Arnaud de Borchgrave. In the piece, which Clark quickly forwarded to my BlackBerry from his Trio, de Borchgrave details Bibi Netanyahu leading the charge to lobby the Bush administration to take out Iran's nuclear facilities, and paints U.S. air strikes against Iran in 2007/08 as all-but-a-done deal.

"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table — but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, What will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq? It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."

Huffington Post

Thu, 04 Jan 2007 19:20:31 PST - Link

It's Good to be The King

WASHINGTON — President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

New York Daily News

We have a new congress today... Can we start impeachment proceedings today? Please? PLEASE? It's really important.

Thu, 04 Jan 2007 08:44:27 PST - Link

Bush's Agenda

John Aravosis of the cheeky and splendid AMERICABlog nails it in his review of Bush's op ed in today's Wall Street Journal:

1. Bush refers to "the partisan environment of today's Washington." There is nothing of the sort. Today's Washington has been Republican, 100%, for six years now. Republican Supreme Court. Republican Congress. Republican White House. Republican governors. 100% Republican. So spare us the "partisan environment" crap. It wasn't partisan at all, it was uni-partisan. The Republicans controlled everything - the budget, the war, the economy - and screwed it all up.

by John in DC - 1/03/2007 09:24:00 AM

You are reading AMERICABlog, are'nt you? You should. It's a truly great blog, even if John prefers to blog orchids over cats.

Thu, 04 Jan 2007 08:44:27 PST - Link

Histories Fixed.

I recovered the 2006 history this morning, and updated 2007.

Thu, 04 Jan 2007 08:44:27 PST - Link

$16,000,000.00 Buys a Lot of Lies.

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 3 — A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists offers the most comprehensive documentation to date of how ExxonMobil has adopted the tobacco industry's disinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue. According to the report, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.

Union of Concerned Scientists

The full 68 page report is linked on the page.

Thu, 04 Jan 2007 07:51:32 PST - Link

January 3, 2007

Testing 1..2..3

Just testing the yearly rollover.

I really must automate this some time....

Ohcrap. the 2006 History is messed up. I promise to fix it int he next 24 hours.

Wed, 03 Jan 2007 13:11:36 PST - Link

January 2, 2007

In Order To Get Out, We Need To Know Why We Went in.

Just as the president is ready to address the nation on Iraq, Biden next week begins three weeks of hearings on the war. On the committee, Biden and Democrats Christopher Dodd (Conn.), John Kerry (Mass.), Russell Feingold (Wis.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) will compete for intensity in criticizing a troop surge. But on the Republican side of the committee, no less probing scrutiny of Bush's proposals will come from Chuck Hagel.

Washington Post

I sincerely hope Biden will be open to extending these hearings as long as it takes. This country is due a long, in-depth, solid look at why we went into Iraq in the first place. This president refuses to consider any actions to leave Iraq. He has rejected the results of the Iraq study group, and is planning instead to escalate this war.

In order to get out, we need to know why we went in.

Tue, 02 Jan 2007 08:20:46 PST - Link

Hot Hot Hot

Professor Jones said: "El Niņo makes the world warmer and we already have a warming trend that is increasing global temperatures by one to two tenths of a degrees celsius per decade. Together, they should make 2007 warmer than last year and it may even make the next 12 months the warmest year on record."

Independent UK

Tue, 02 Jan 2007 08:20:46 PST - Link

January 1, 2007


Members of online Podcasting 'Communities' will come to realize that a community of Podcasters is about as silly as a community of Broadcasters, and will split into three main factions: Podcasting For Profit, Podcasting for Dummies and Podcasting to Save The World and Win Valuable Cash Prizes.

Adam Curry

I'm thinking I'm not going to be doing podcasting for profit in 2007, It's probably podcasting for dummies for me. (Although Saving The World has a nice ring to it.)

Mon, 01 Jan 2007 21:17:52 PST - Link

New Years To-Do List 2006 in Review:

Time to review my 2006 New years To-Do list..

1) Refresh my website design.

Fail. I just didn't get around to it in 2006, and I'm probably dropping it from the 2007 list. I'm not that bothered by the homepage design, and I'm just not active enough in the fanfiction community to mess with the fanfiction page.

2) Return Emails.

Pass. I think I only missed a couple of emails all year.

3) Sell my old books.

Fail. I till haven't sold off a single book. This stays on the list.

4) eBay my Prom Programmer.

Fail. It's still there. Anyone want a DataIO? Cheap?

5) Replace my desktop computer

Pass. I built a nice desktop machine, and got an LCD monitor. (Sorry Miko)

6) Play more guitar.

Minimum Pass. I did play more in 2006 than in 2005, and even spent a week messing with Frip's New Standard Tuning to break up my muscle memory.

7) Watch more anime.

Pass. I've taken to watching anime on my laptop while wife watches TV. Kamichu is totally cute, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is absorbing and new, and I love the voice work. Windy Tales was a breath of fresh air in the first few episodes, but then the story fell apart. The art design was especially evocative.

8) Finish Yellow

Fail. Fail. Fail. I'm afraid that I'm still banned from Nerima, and I can't seem to string ten words together these days. I think part of the problem is that the things that are on my mind of late: Global Warming, Peak Oil, the war in Iraq, and the misadministration in Washington are banned topics in (my) Nerima. I found it impossible to write a comedic love story while living though 2006.

9) Produce podcasts of Summer and Autumn.

Incomlete I have been working on this, however. I've been recasting Summer into a script format for easy editing, and I've repaired my SPX90, so now I have a hardware compressor in my podcast rig.

10) More and better Bloggage!

Fail 2006 was a rough year emotionally, and work pretty much soaked up my creative urges, leaving my blog a bit bereft of quality content. Gomen. I'll work on it.

Mon, 01 Jan 2007 21:17:52 PST - Link

New Years To-Do List 2007:

1) Do a 2007 To-Do list.

Mon, 01 Jan 2007 21:17:52 PST - Link

Reflections on 2006

We are at the peak of oil production. Nothing I read about Peak Oil (And I read altogether too much about Peak Oil) leads me to think otherwise.

Global Climate Change is happening now. Nothing I read came close to challenging that basic fact. GCC was barely a blip on my personal radar on January 1, 2006, An Inconvineient Truth raised my awareness of it to DEFCON 1.

Nuclear Power isn't going to be around in 100 years. There just isn't enough Uranium that can be mined at a positive energy return. Sorry. It's going to be Solar and Wind.

The 2006 election gave some hope that Americans are waking up the the self inflicted disaster that is the Bush administration. Let us all hope that the Democratic Congress can repair that most critical feature of democracy - oversight.

Just a personal observation, but 2006 was the year of losing my religion.

On the other hand, in an AP poll of Americans "25 percent anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ."

I'm in the 75% who anticipate a second coming free 2007. But I'll be the first to admit it if I'm wrong.

Mon, 01 Jan 2007 21:17:52 PST - Link

Happy New Year


Here's wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.