Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Price of Biofuels

Full Technology Review article is a 13 page pdf. Great overall primer on the politics and market psychology that has trumped scientific understanding and underlying technological realities in terms of emphasis and investment in the U.S., and, which will have a near term impact on the price and availability of food here but with far more devastating impact in other countries.

[Bro. Makheru, if certain folks don't understand that food availability is a non-negotiable trigger for resource-based conflict, then there's a better than even chance they don't understand much of anything at all.]

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla makes a great counterpoint to Lester Brown and effectively calls many of Brown's panaceas "toys" and unrealistic. He explains Scalability, Cycle Time, and Cost and underscores the inexcusable paradox of American intransigence in the face of abundant opportunity.

If there is a deus ex machina technology capable of rescuing us from our predicament, ultimately, genomic programming and synthetic biology is where it's at - remember that I told you so on subrealism's zero day.

Food Crunch

"The greatest challenge to the world is not US$100 oil - it's getting enough food so that the new middle class can eat the way our middle class does, and that means we've got to expand food output dramatically" - [CN - dopamine is one helluva drug.....,]

Full story in the Financial Post

The impact of tighter food supply is already evident in raw food prices, which have risen 22% in the past year.

At the centre of the imminent food catastrophe is corn -- the main staple of the ethanol industry. The price of corn has risen about 44% over the past 15 months, closing at US$4.66 a bushel on the CBOT yesterday -- its best finish since June 1996.

This not only impacts the price of food products made using grains, but also the price of meat, with feed prices for livestock also increasing.

"You're going to have real problems in countries that are food short, because we're already getting embargoes on food exports from countries, who were trying desperately to sell their stuff before, but now they're embargoing exports," he said, citing Russia and India as examples.

"Those who have food are going to have a big edge."
With 54% of the world's corn supply grown in America's mid-west, the U.S. is one of those countries with an edge.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Root of Blackospheric Objectivism

It took me a minute to figure out why Thegrayconservative and Denmarkvesey have such unbounded love for Ron Paul, and then I remembered the "quarry" and the "discipline" scenes from The Fountainhead...,

Wizardology 101 - Units of Selection and Zero-Sum

The more complex societies get and the more complex the networks of interdependence within and beyond community and national borders get, the more people are forced in their own interests to find non-zero-sum solutions. That is, win–win solutions instead of win–lose solutions.... Because we find as our interdependence increases that, on the whole, we do better when other people do better as well — so we have to find ways that we can all win, we have to accommodate each other.... Bill Clinton, Wired interview, December 2000

A unit of selection is a biological entity within the hierarchy of biological organisation (e.g. genes, cells, individuals, groups, species) that is subject to natural selection. For several decades there has been intense debate among evolutionary biologists about the extent to which evolution has been shaped by selective pressures acting at these different levels. This debate has been as much about what it means to be a unit of selection as it has about the relative importance of the units themselves, i.e., is it group or individual selection that has driven the evolution of altruism? When it is noted that altruism reduces the fitness of individuals, it is difficult to see how altruism has evolved within the context of Darwinian selection acting on individuals

Zero-sum - in game theory, zero-sum describes a situation in which a participant's gain or loss is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the other participant(s). It is so named because when the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero. Go is an example of a zero-sum game: it is impossible for both players to win. Zero-sum can be thought of more generally as constant sum where the benefits and losses to all players sum to the same value. Cutting a cake is zero- or constant-sum because taking a larger piece reduces the amount of cake available for others. In contrast, non-zero-sum describes a situation in which the interacting parties' aggregate gains and losses is either less than or more than zero.

Situations where participants can all gain or suffer together, such as a country with an excess of bananas trading with another country for their excess of apples, where both benefit from the transaction, are referred to as non-zero-sum. Other non-zero-sum games are games in which the sum of gains and losses by the players are always more or less than what they began with. For example, a game of poker, disregarding the house's rake, played in a casino is a zero-sum game unless the pleasure of gambling or the cost of operating a casino is taken into account, making it a non-zero-sum game.

The concept was first developed in game theory and consequently zero-sum situations are often called zero-sum games though this does not imply that the concept, or game theory itself, applies only to what are commonly referred to as games. In pure strategies, each outcome is Pareto optimal (generally, any game where all strategies are Pareto optimal is called a conflict game) [1]. Nash equilibria of two-player zero-sum games are exactly pairs of minimax strategies.

In 1944 John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern proved that any zero-sum game involving n players is in fact a generalized form of a zero-sum game for two players, and that any non-zero-sum game for n players can be reduced to a zero-sum game for n + 1 players; the (n + 1) player representing the global profit or loss. This suggests that the zero-sum game for two players forms the essential core of mathematical game theory.

Jevon's Paradox and the Tata Nano

India’s Tata Motors on Thursday unveiled the world’s cheapest car, a $2,500 four-door subcompact the company promises will revolutionize the auto industry by bringing car ownership within reach for tens of millions of people. The potential effect of Tata’s Nano has given environmentalists nightmares, with visions of the tiny cars clogging India’s already choked roads and spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air.

Industry analysts, however, say the car may do for India and the developing world what Ford’s Model T did for America nearly a century ago — deliver unprecedented mobility to the masses.

In economics, the Jevons Paradox is an observation made by William Stanley Jevons, that as technological improvements increase the efficiency with which a resource is used, total consumption of that resource may increase, rather than decrease. It is historically called the Jevons Paradox as it ran counter to Jevons's intuition. However, the situation is well understood in modern economics. In addition to reducing the amount needed for a given output, improved efficiency lowers the cost of using a resource – which increases demand. Overall resource use increases or decreases depending on which effect predominates.

Dopamine hegemony ruthlessly drives the herd over the cliff and into the olduvai gorge....,

Ed Dunn caught in the act of simultaneously peeping the same phenomenon and coming correct with its implications;This Car Should Make You Lose Sleep Tonight

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wizards at War - VII

Population cull resulting from large scale thermonuclear war (Joseph George Caldwell)

Can America Survive;
The thesis of this book is that when fossil-fuel reserves deplete in a few years, the global human population of Earth will drop to about 500 million people or less -- a small fraction of the current six billion. The future is one of global ethnic war and the end of the modern industrialized world. The book examines a "minimal regret" population strategy that shows promise as a sustainable, environmentally sound basis for world population. This population consists of a single industrialized nation of five million people and a hunter-gatherer population of five million.
If I simply compare the level of investment and preparation dedicated to a zero-sum, minimal regret population scenario for resolving the earth's ecological crisis vs. the systematic crash aversion strategy outlined by Lester Brown - it appears that exponentially more has been invested in the former than in the latter......, (and levels of additional investment continue unabated)

Plan B 2.0 - Rescuing a Planet Under Stress

Lester Brown's comprehensive plan is available online, in its entirety, for free here.

Ted Turner, purchased 3,569 copies to distribute to heads of state, cabinet members, Fortune 500 CEOs, the U.S. Congress, and others;

With holdings of two million acres in 11 states, Ted Turner, the media entrepreneur and philanthropist, has become the largest private landowner in the country, and his land purchases have some in Nebraska, where he owns a ranch, wondering what he is up to, reports the Associated Press.

While supporters of Mr. Turner say he just wants to be a rancher, others accuse him of trying to corner the land over the world’s largest underground water system, and of conspiring with the United Nations — to which he has donated millions of dollars through a nonprofit group he created — to build a huge federal wildlife refuge that would remove the land from Nebraska’s tax rolls.

Evidently there are elites in the U.S. quietly and diligently pursuing a non-thanaturgic agenda for the planet...,

Consume The Net

Trip the loop, make your switch, consume the net!

Of course I'm not a farmer - I just happened to grow up in the middle of GAWD'S country and used to go hunting and fishing quite often with my father and uncle and acquired a deep and abiding aspiration to one day become a successful gentlemen farmer. In addition, one of my close colleagues helps me keep my rural enthusiasm really real.

Though I'm a big proponent of urban agricultural schemes and have a keen interest in food security - my work is involved with low cost, community and Internet based telecommunications systems. I've figured out and implemented methods for folks to do telecommunications at the lowest possible price, and, to have some of their telecommunications activity become self-funding through leveraging person aggregation in their community(s) of interest, be these neighborhood, faith, sports, school, or other brick and mortar real-world social network based communities of interest.

Cuba's Urban Agriculture

These two documents are excerpts from a Master of Arts thesis completed in 2004 by Janine de la Salle (author) at Dalhousie University in Halifax under the primary supervision of Dr. John Kirk as well as Dr. David Patriquin and Dr. John Devlin. These particular portions of the thesis were selected on the basis that they had the most discussion and description of urban agriculture (UA) in Cuba during the past 15 years in conjunction with a detailed historical context of food security and public policy in Cuba since the beginning of the 20th century. The historical excerpt helps to set the tone for contemporary developments in Cuban food security such as the emergence of UA and is therefore essential. The gist of the entire thesis is given below as the "Thesis Abstract". If you have any questions about this material please contact the author at (Market photo linked from Havana Journal.)
Until we see a candidate for elective office make the 2000 Watt society and renewable and sustainable urban agriculture the centerpieces of his/her platform, we can conclude in full certainty that these candidates are not meaningful change agents and are fiddling while "Rome" burns - whether out of personal and idiosyncratic ignorance, or because they've been enlisted and handsomely compensated to play a distracting and misleading role - while the wizards of woe continue doing what they know how to do best.

I mean really, what good is a professed change agent who doesn't have a clue about what needs to change, or, lacks the organizational and operational skills, resources, and required authority to implement meaningful change?

On their Leavenworth County farm, Jeff and Pam Meyer of Cal-Ann Farms, above, raise tilapia in a former dairy barn. The nutrient-rich fish wastewater is used to grow 10 varieties of peppers, left. But the farm’s signature crop is basil, top, which the Meyers grow hydroponically.

An applied instance of local change agency requiring knowledge, skill, ability, and a viable social network to help it achieve its promise.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Goal State - How Do We Get There?

originally posted 11/08/07 - reposted in the context of discussion of American coalition building and genuine change agency.

if at all.....,

E.C. Hopkins has repeatedly admonished us to think about the issue of "movement at the top";
Few of us will have opportunities to wield enough wealth, power, or prestige to change the world in any significant way. Few of us will have the political, economic, or military influence to steer the world in another direction. Most of us are just here for the ride and here to play the games the power elite allow us to play. Yet, each of us, especially each U.S. citizen, has some power and a few opportunities to access more power. And, it is important that we evaluate our current and estimate our future levels of wealth, power, and prestige in order to help us better determine what we could do to change the world, even if insignificantly, during our lives. We would probably need some idea of what we could do in order to best determine what we should attempt to do. We would probably determine that we couldn’t change the world significantly no matter how hard we might try. Most of us might determine that it would be best for us to focus on securing a life’s supply of economic resources for ourselves and our families first. Then, if we found we were lucky enough to have the economically valuable talents or skills, the energy, and the leisure time to accumulate more wealth, power, or prestige than we and our loved ones would need in order to flourish, we might attempt to help a few dozen other folks take good care of themselves or their loved ones. I suspect very few of us will be able to do more than this.
Personally, it's an issue that angers me to the marrow of my luciferian and implacably rebellious bones. My motto as a teenager was taken straight from Milton; "Better to rule in hell, than to serve in heaven" and very honestly, this ethos has informed my worldview ever since.

With middle age and dependent children of my own - I find that the anarcho-barbarian warrior of the wastelands fantasy of adolescence has lost much of its savor. While the body and mind are still quite able, they are increasingly less and less willing..., so the question turns to Francis Schaeffer's perennial "How then shall we live?".

Much as many folks seek to deny it, the fact of the matter is that "our polity is our way of life". To the extent that Black, White, Progressive, Conservative, etc..., participate in a 12,000 watt per capita society - which is utterly thermodynamically unsustainable - and which is leading to massive injustice, infringement on civil liberties, and escalating levels of unjust war - then we have a shared way of life and polity which absolutely must change if we are to obtain the greatest good for the greatest number.

Reading James R. Maclean's new wiki for Hobson's Choice, I was absolutely struck by the rightness of something he had written;
Much of the radical critique of contemporary society tends to be so filled with negativity and rage; that's not meant to disparage radical critiques per se, but a precautionary word to readers venturing down that path. Your ability to transform society in a radical way is, to put it gently, limited, and you will find that the things you're fighting against are surprisingly resilient. A lot of great radicals found themselves totally exhausted and embittered at times, and you will too. It's important to remember that the same mankind who shaped this cruel world also is ingenious, generous, noble, and witty. Always be open to fresh ideas, always seek to discern fairly, and don't forget to appreciate the wonderful achievements of the others with whom you share the world.
Which answers in part Schaeffer's question and brings me to the article I chanced upon last night hoping for a new deal which gets full back around to E.C.'s lofty perspective - and gives us a very concrete and constructive place to channel our political emphasis.
Ultimately, power holders must be convinced that [energy transition] policies, if obnoxious to them now, will be far less destructive to their interests than a complete breakdown of society and biosphere - which is the very real alternative. For a historic example of a similar conversion of elites think of the 1930s New Deal: then the titans of industry had to sacrifice some of their financial power in order to keep from losing it all. Many wealthy individuals never forgave Franklin Roosevelt, whom they regarded as a "traitor to his class," but most of them reluctantly agreed that redistribution represented the lesser of evils.

The analysis offered is original, detailed, and very well worth your perusal.

Pharaonic Splendor and Rorschachian Symbolique

An impromptu and overdue analysis of the several points of view expressed hereabouts over the past few....,

Gary Younge writing in monday's Guardian had the following to say about Obama;
Obama has himself created a new constituency that is expanding the Democratic base, just like Jackson did. Its roots are not in race, class or single issues but age and ideology. The bulk of his support comes from young and independent voters. In South Carolina, we will see if African Americans will follow. Politically, the connections are looser and far less radical; but electorally they may prove more effective.
The article covers a lot of ground and I will do it a jarring disservice by not attempting to recapitulate most of that terrain. I found it particularly interesting for a very specific reason. It has a quick and dirty synopsis of political group identification - past and present - and the extent to which the social networking structures comprising political group identity have shifted over time.

Personally, I don't believe Obama has created any new constituencies. Rather, I believe that Obama embodies a rorschachian ambivalence which enables a broad cross-section of Americans to project into him their own particular hopes and priorities. People see in Obama exactly and exclusively - what they want to see. To me, it is this and this alone that makes his candidacy interesting.

Ed Dunn wrote everything that Younge wrote in a tiny fraction of the verbiage;
Trust me, I know how much of an influence Harold Washington had on me as a child in Chicago when he won the mayor office. It made me feel like I can be anything I wanted to be if I put in work because I saw a Black man do it. Blacks are told all their lives what they can’t do, what they can’t be, they will get killed if they stand up for what is right and when I saw Harold Washington go for that mayor office, that was my hero. And if Barack Obama running for office, standing there on a podium talking about uniting America, moving America in the right direction makes him an inspirational hero to any Black kid out there, that’s the only real reason that matters why African-Americans should have unconditional support for the man. Let that man Barack Obama be a hero and inspiration to our kids, screw all that political, ideology issue nonsense you spouting that is just worthless rhetoric.

To me, it is not about the presidential candidates or issues I've heard the past 20 years such as taxes, abortion or moral values. To me, it is about correcting the economic failures of the Bush administration that may be irreversible and change the entire course of this country.

I think Congress as well as the President office need to clean house and get rid of the special interest that exploited the American economy into a zero-sum game theory manner.
Spoken like a veteran, veteran entrepreneur, and a patriot - I believe Ed sees the situation through a quintessentially American lens - "yes we can"!

The unabashed youngeian chorus came from MIB and Submariner who made no bones whatsoever about identifying with Obama, seeing their own values, perspectives, and group identification personified in Obama and just loving it;
Obama's candidacy doesn't represent change in the ideological, or generational sense. Instead, he projects a middle-class identity that's ignored by pols in both major parties. The Senator presents himself as 'one of us'; not as a benevolent elitist (Democrats) or a proto-fascist authoritarian (Republicans).

For argument's sake, accept my earlier analysis as correct. Wouldn't Obama then symbolize the power to change society for the better lies within each of us, as does the prerogative and direction of its use?

Perhaps my views are slightly Darwinian, but I believe 'change' is a constant to which the most intelligent people adapt quickest in order to survive, if not prosper, regardless of circumstances. In this respect, Obama is an idea in which each of us has a vested interest -- that jes grew a few of the Afrosphere is constantly talking about. And a radical departure from the standard ivory tower conceit displayed by our pols.
You hit the bull's-eye, MIB.

Barack Obama is the kind of politician that you and I won't see again until we're old men wearing Depends and bound to wheelchairs.

do Xyb0rg and Nulan really believe that Powell could add more to the
Pharaonic splendor or majesty of a Barack and Michelle Obama in the White House?

Spence brought the moral and reflective chorus;
i've been thinking about obama vs. edwards. as i noted early in the game there was a time in which you couldn't find the words "poverty" or "inequality" in obama's platform...where edwards began on these issues.

one of the things that left-leaning pundits noted in response to obama's approach was there has been no time in which bi-partisan agreement led to systemic change. rather a president RESPONDING TO A SOCIAL MOVEMENT ends up dragging the minority party with him...slapping them upside the head while doing so.

in all of the discussions about a black president, only one person has gotten to the crux of the matter--grace boggs. when we FIRST began to fight for beo's the idea was NOT that they be CEO's in blackface, but that they were the candidates who had the best chance of remaking society into something sustainable and humane.
with laserlike emphasis on what Obama has said and done - I suspect that if Prof. Spence engaged you in a socratic exchange on Obama, it might go a little something like this;
How many of you know Obama's record and positions?:

-- Supported the first Gulf War (See "The Audacity of Hope").

-- Supports not a swift end to the Iraq occupation, but only the withdrawal of "combat troops" by 2010 (most Americans in arms there are either mercenaries or support troops), and maintaining a strong military presence within Iraq of indefinite duration

-- Opposed Rep. John Murtha's 2005 call for a prompt withdrawal from Iraq

-- Called for the possible invasion of Pakistan (though he believes in "talking")

-- Repeatedly stated that all military options should remain on the table regarding IRAN, lending implicit support to the administration's belligerent stance

-- Has stated publicly that impeachment of either Bush or even Cheney is unacceptable. "Just, you know, vote the bums out," he has said (Google it) -- even when they are dismantling constitutional protections and rigging elections

-- Does not support universal, single-payer health care, and is campaigning to the right of Clinton and Edwards on this issue

-- Opposed the filibustering of Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination

-- Voted to renew the Patriot Act

-- Has received a "C/Underachiever" rating from CBC Monitor, putting him in the bottom third of Congressional Black Caucus members on voting record. By comparison, Harold Ford, Jr., William Jefferson, and Artur Davis got F's, while Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee got A's
If you support Obama, please ask yourself how many of these positions you agree with? (if I've put words in the good brother's mouth, I'm confident he'll correct me)

Then came the hardline from Mahndisa Rigmaiden and E.C. Hopkins - neither one of whom seemed to get particularly caught up in Obamathusiasm;
I don't trust politicians because they generally ARE NOT agents of change.

I think politicians are simply figureheads for a larger agenda over which they have no control.

I've developed macro-sociological beliefs that that have led me to be about as distrustful of the stated, prima facie intentions of our politicians as our brilliant sister Mahndisa is. And, I believe, in the long-run of twenty-five years or more, it really doesn't matter which politicians are put in the White House. I believe the U.S. social system has evolved so that only certain types of politicians are electable during any given social, political, or economic context, and that things such as who is/was the U.S. President for four or eight years are almost insignificant attributes of the social system.

The macro-sociological approach is a top-down, bird's eye, social engineer's approach. Its key weakness is it requires the thinker to use simplified abstractions, often based on ambiguous social statistics, which are often based on flawed data acquisitions. The individual or "Dunbar groups" (I'm using this term to indicate small social networks of approximately 150 folks who interact with one another regularly) of the society are often ignored in part or in full when this method is used to evaluate how a law or policy change will likely influence a social system.

So, I don't really spend much time thinking about whether Obama will change anything. I really don't believe Obama, or any other politician, can change anything, at least not in a truly iconoclastic or unpredictable way, that wasn't going to change with or without that politician. I believe the U.S. social system determines (or predetermines) who we, members of the ruled herd, can choose for U.S. President, and I believe it determines (or predetermines) the dynamics that almost all of us will erroneously perceive as significant, politician-led change. And, I believe the U.S. President plays only a minor role in this illusion, this stage production. The U.S. President will merely be a mask-wearer and an actor, someone thrown on the stage to play a part. The script, however, has been and will continue to be written by the power elite. And the power elite will continue to control the stage on which the U.S. President and the rest of us will deliver of performances.
I stated my position on sunday - and nothing that's happened over the intervening three days has caused me to change my perspective;
I sincerely believe that we American people will absolutely elect the leadership that we deserve.
The most interesting deliverable I anticipate from Obama's bid for the presidency, is that it will provide us with a rich, deep, and wide body of data more clearly delineating our just deserts as a people and a culture at the twilight of industrial civilization....,

Comes now Bro. Mahkeru to weigh in with a sentiment rather closely mirroring my own;

I personally believe that the American Power Elite, given the plethora of events it is struggling to control, is at one of its most vulnerable points in history. The missing element is a mass-based democratic movement, which can raise consciousness and challenge those vulnerabilities.

If a mass-based democratic movement does not emerge before the American superstructure begins to collapse, then I expect the Neo-Cons to have a free run to implement their fascist programs by deflecting attention to and blaming the “cultural others”—Blacks and Browns—for their demise.
I'm not so sure that they want a Darwinian threshing floor right here at home though Makheru. I believe that Pax America has not even begun to hit its true globalist imperial stride in the pending resource wars. It's going to need manpower in the millions to accomplish the force projection requirements of the next decade and beyond.

New Hampshire Primary....,

Monday, January 07, 2008

Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology

Sociobiology is the study of biological (especially evolutionary and ecological) influences on social behavior in humans.

1975. E.O. Wilson. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis.
1976. Richard Dawkins. The Selfish Gene.

Fitness: measured by the number of offspring produced by an individual that survive and reproduce themselves. For humans there is direct fitness--successful mating--and indirect fitness--helping relatives (with whom one shares genes) to reproduce. Inclusive fitness = direct fitness + indirect fitness

* helping relatives: the biological basis for altruism
* reciprocity can also enhace inclusive fitness

E.O. Wilson has changed his mind. Which leads us to the reality of Group Selection and revisions to the prevailing "wisdom" in that area of inquiry.

One-sentence summary: Multilevel selection needs to become the theoretical foundation of sociobiology, despite the widespread rejection of group selection since the 1960s.

The current foundation of sociobiology is based upon the rejection of group selection in the 1960s and the acceptance thereafter of alternative theories to explain the evolution of cooperative and altruistic behaviors. These events need to be reconsidered in the light of subsequent research. Group selection has become both theoretically plausible and empirically well supported. Moreover, the so-called alternative theories include the logic of multilevel selection within their own frameworks. We review the history and conceptual basis of sociobiology to show why a new consensus regarding group selection is needed and how multilevel selection theory can provide a more solid foundation for sociobiology in the future.

Wilson's new paper concludes;
When Rabbi Hillel was asked to explain the Torah in the time that he could stand on one foot, he famously replied “Do not do unto others that which is repugnant to you. Everything else is commentary.” Darwin’s original insight and the developments reviewed in this article enable us to offer the following one-foot summary of sociobiology’s new theoretical foundation: “Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary.”
I read this paper a few weeks ago in the context of the eugenics flap. I've been waiting for a timely opportunity to submit it for your consideration. In the context of the stellar political discourse that bubbled up in the comments yesterday on Obama - I think I've spotted a good juncture at which to inject it. We shall see....,

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Clostridium Phytofermentans

Clostridium phytofermentans is an anaerobic ethanol- and hydrogen-producing cellulolytic bacterium from forest soil that is capable of fermenting all major carbohydrate components of biomass. Cellulose, pectin, starch, and xylan are rapidly degraded and fermented with ethanol and hydrogen formed as major metabolic products.

C. phytofermentans is of particular interest for the production of high concentrations of ethanol during cellulose fermentation. Two to four times more ethanol than acetate are formed, suggesting that C. phytofermentans possesses unusual fermentation pathways. Hydrogen production approaches maximum amounts expected based on the amounts of non-gaseous products formed. Moreover, C. phytofermentans is amenable to genetic manipulation. Genomic analyses and associated research strategies will advance understanding of complex processes involved in the degradation of abundant plant biopolymers, and allow researchers to develop practical applications for C. phytofermentans , including the bioconversion of cellulose-containing municipal wastes and agricultural products to fuels such as ethanol and hydrogen.

While the implicate order "invented" it, you'll need to pony up some funds to Susan Leschine, Ph.D. (Microbiology) if'n you want to use it.


Hegemony is usually understood to mean the one-sided ability to influence others. In contrast to an empire, which actually has formal political control over the affected territory, the hegemonic power merely has the power to influence events. Since the decline of conventional imperialism, hegemony has been revived as the organizing principle of international relations.

“People are pretty much the same everywhere; they all want the same things.”

In the fin d'siecle dopamine hegemony, this is a common suggestion. Seldom if ever do you hear the countervailing point that this is due in largest measure to “want creation” by the global media, due to a “revolution of rising expectations”, and so on.

“America couldn't be all bad, otherwise everyone wouldn't want to live here”, is still another common suggestion. It is far more accurate to state of immigrants to America that a certain kind of person from every other type of culture wants and has wanted to immigrate to America, the kind of person with a certain framework of values, a certain constellation of wants - a certain definite neurotype. Wants unquestionably imply things -- and pretty much only things.

Non-economic migrants have always been a very, very small subset of those who have made their way to America - and non-economic motivations have always been a very, very small component of any mixed bag of immigrant motivations.

The neurotype that wants things, that wants the same things - is the neurotype unfailingly drawn to aggregate with the dopamine hegemon.

Given the distinctly psychological nature of this hegemonic phenomenon, we are faced with an urgent demand-side problem. The demand-side is the controlling variable in the short and mid-term.

Given that the gathering planetary energy crisis is exponential in nature, the neurotype that is expressing the hegemon's values, its media-driven constellation of wants - is THE major component of the failing energy foundations of the prevailing global civilization (dopamine hegemony).

Solar energy and natural resource supplies are fairly well fixed; whereas, the effects of increments of growth in demand have exponential and not proportional consequences.

What will survive the inevitable collapse of dopamine hegemony?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Executive Dream Team `08

Accept no substitutes......, (broad wink and a nod to Xyb0rg the Afrist0crat)

Wizards at War - VI

quoth Cobb;
I'm a proponent of Dyson's Utopia. But as my friend at BP says, low skill people are always going to migrate towards urbanization. That's the macro trend that we cannot stop, short of convenient genocides. As long as the paradigm of urban living is with us, our energy requirements are going to be high per capita. There is no global decentralization coming.
Neato, but none of the architects of the current political and military administrative regime share your fondness for this unattainable sci-fi theme. Rather, they've been embarked on a global enterprise-wide initiative to get ready for a series of those convenient genocides you mentioned. As a professed Straussian and uberfan of T.P.M. Barnett - perhaps you're already familiar with the Marshallite nougat underlying the politically expedient neoconservative just-so-stories used to grease and sell the GWOT? What, other than provide the means to selectively instigate, manage and utilize "convenient genocides"- is the revolution in military affairs intended to accomplish?

The World Does Not Need More Fossil Fuel, or Alternative Energy Sources to Replace It - 2003 Joseph George Caldwell

While there is much discussion and expenditure of energy on the subject of finding and developing and using oil, there is also much discussion on the topic of alternative energy sources, such as nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, and solar energy (including all uses of the current flux of solar energy, such as hydroelectric and biomass, not just solar heating and solar electric). In my book, Can America Survive?, I made the point that these other sources of energy cannot replace the energy of fossil fuels, for a number of reasons. I will not go into those reasons here. The point is that, relatively soon, mankind is going to be restricted to living on the budget of the current solar energy flux. And the salient consequence of this is that the current-solar-energy budget can support at most only a few hundred million human beings. When fossil fuels are gone, the global human population will drop from over six billion to far less than one billion.

But even this is not the point. Even if mankind could find a source of energy to replace fossil fuel, it would be a fatal error to do so. Mankind is currently using an estimated 40 per cent of the world’s biologically useful supply of solar energy, and is using many times that amount of energy in the form of fossil fuel. And it is that high level of energy use that is the problem. Mankind is using so much energy (current solar energy plus the stored energy of fossil fuel) that it is destroying the biosphere. For human beings to survive, and for the biosphere to survive in a condition similar to that in which mankind evolved, it is necessary for mankind’s use of energy to drop dramatically. In other words, if an energy source (e.g., nuclear fusion) could be found to replace fossil fuels, the demise of the planet would be assured. The biosphere cannot continue with the present high rate of energy use. That high rate of energy use is causing mass species extinction, and is destroying the biosphere. The survival of mankind and the biosphere is totally dependent on mankind’s reducing the level of energy utilization back to that level at which the biosphere and mankind evolved.

So what is to be done? All of the industrial nations are seeking to consume fossil fuels as rapidly as possible, and they are also eagerly and urgently seeking alternative energy sources, despite the fact that this high level of energy use is destroying life on the planet. I have two points. First, as I argued in Can America Survive?, it is very unlikely that mankind will find any energy source to replace the energy of fossil fuels. Second, even if it did, to continue to use energy at the current rate would continue the mass species extinction and destroy the biosphere. Such a discovery (although not likely in my view) would sound the death knell for the planet and seal its doom.

Wizards at War - V

quoth True Character;
We have modified our environment so radically that we must now modify ourselves to exist in this new environment. ~ Norbert Wiener Environment Quotes
It’s the Oil, Stupid! (Hubbert’s Curve and World War III) - 2003 Joseph George Caldwell

Ever since the Immigration Act of 1965, the US has been allowing many more immigrants into the country than ever before. As long as oil was abundant and free (in fact, more than free, since each barrel of oil pumped out of the ground could be used to pump many more barrels out of the ground), there was no economic incentive to restrict immigration. In fact, there was an economic incentive to increase immigration – for every new immigrant, the gross national product increased by an amount approximately equal to the gross national product per capita. Getting the energy to “fund” these new immigrants was not a problem, since global oil production was increasing every year. Because America was addicted to growth, immigration soared to very high levels, to the point where its population was growing by about one percent a year (three million people per year), almost solely because of immigration. (US population in 1950 was 152 million; today it is almost double that.)

But all of a sudden, once global production starts to decline, the situation changes dramatically. As long as America can keep its consumption up by taking oil away from other countries, nothing really changes “at home.” But this can go on for only so long, and it cannot continue without a fight. Finally, the point is reached where, short of war, there is no more production to take away from other countries, and America’s oil supply begins to fall. With no oil to fuel the economy, however, all of these immigrants – and the “natives,” as well – represent a cost, not a benefit – they have no energy with which to produce, all they do is consume. At this point, it is very much in America’s interest to send its bloated population – its immigrants as well as its natives – to war. And the more casualties, the better. Each person killed represents a saving of about 8,000 kilograms of oil equivalent (kgoe) per year. If the war effort brings in more oil than would be consumed by the soldier and the war, then fine, the soldier is “paying his way.” But finally, the point is reached where there is simply not enough oil in the world to support America’s thirst for oil. At this point, the only way to reduce US demand for oil is by global war involving massive US casualties, and the only way to reduce global demand for oil is by global war involving massive casualties in the world’s industrial nations.

But the President cannot say that he is sending citizens to war simply to eliminate them, any more than he could say that he was invading Iraq for its oil. Once again, an excuse will be sought. The President will seek excuses to engage in wars with massive casualties. At the present time, the US has only 140,000 soldiers in Iraq, and about one soldier a day is being killed. Eventually, the US will maintain millions of soldiers around the world, guarding its precious oil supply (both from use by other competing users and from destruction from politics-of-envy terrorists). And the casualty count will not be a cost, it will be a benefit. Eventually, the casualty count will be in the millions every year for the US, and on the order of a hundred million per year worldwide. This is easy to see: Hubbert’s curve falls from its current production level to near zero in about forty years. This means that global population will fall from 6.2 billion to about 200 million in forty years. (See Can America Survive? for discussion of this point, viz., that global population is proportional to global energy availability.) This means that, on the average, about (6 billion / 40 years) = 150 million people per year will die every year, worldwide. In the US, the population will fall from about 300 million to about 100 thousand, so that about (300 million / 40 years) = 7.5 million per year. And they will not die of starvation – they will die by war. (Furthermore, it is not likely that the population will decline gracefully, like Hubbert’s curve; as I have discussed elsewhere, the decline is likely to be catastrophic, for a number of reasons (catastrophe theory, systems dynamics, degradation of our environment, overshoot and collapse)).

Watch closely. These dramatic changes are just around the corner. The first clue that things are changing will be when the President will press for sending more troops to Iraq, despite mounting casualties. And then, he will press to send US troops to any large-oil-producing state, to protect the oil assets from destruction by terrorists. And then, he will send troops simply to divert the oil to the US. And perhaps then, the American and British people will begin to realize that their leaders are doing it for them, and doing it for the oil. Their high standard of living cannot continue without access to much – and soon most, and eventually all – of the world’s oil. From the viewpoint of continuing our industrial society, America and Britain must have access to a greater and greater portion of the world’s diminishing oil supply. All countries will soon move aggressively to acquire and or maintain access to the diminishing supply. Soon, American and British leaders will no longer be able to – and no longer have to – make excuses for American and British actions to acquire oil to maintain their industrial societies and the lavish lifestyles of their populations. For a little while longer, however, Americans and Brits may continue to live the illusion that we are taking these actions for humanitarian and altruistic and defensive reasons. Soon, the only reason will be “defensive.” And then, there will be no need for reasons at all. As General George S. Patton once remarked, “You will know what to do.”

From an astrological viewpoint, it is interesting to note that today, August 27, 2003, the planet Mars, God of War, is closer to Earth than at any time in the past 60,000 years.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wizards at War - IV

Where we get back on track and consider the musings of one of the aforementioned wizards, an actual one in this case, Joseph George Caldwell, who cut his eye-teeth working for Hugh Everett at Lambda Division and whose prolix writings on Minimal Regret warfare makes for some of the most fascinating food for thought about how and why things are unfolding as they are.

I stumbled upon Caldwell several years ago and devoured all of his writings at the foundationwebsite at that time. A powerful influence on my own thinking, Caldwell is very helpful in terms of providing insight into the fact that events are proceeding (for the most part) in accordance with well-laid plans, and, in keeping with systemic incentives designed by an Elite with motives quite different from the civic care and feeding of common citizens that we have been taught to impute to leadership and government.

This miscellaneous snippet written in response to Katrina is profoundly apropos as we watch the slow motion catastrophe unfolding in the Carolinas and Georgia whose major ground zero metropolitan impact point will be Atlanta.

Why Did the US Government Choose Not to Plan to Avoid A Clumsy Response to a Large Hurricane?

In the preceding discussion, I did not address the issue of the government’s slow and bungling response to dealing with the Hurricane Katrina refugees – I addressed just the issue of why it was in the best interest of the government and the oligarchs that control it to allow the destruction to occur (by allowing development in areas that were at high risk of storm damage). Why, for example, since the government’s own studies showed what was going to happen, did it simply let the refugees fend largely for themselves, dependent on the compassion and largesse of the private sector, instead of immediately relocating them in an orderly fashion to other parts of the country? This uncoordinated response does seem a little strange, since the economic activity associated with an efficient and prompt response would not have differed much from the helter-skelter nonresponse that was demonstrated. And why, since the cost of a fully interoperable emergency communication system is about the same as the Tower-of-Babel hodgepodge current system in which different emergency services cannot communicate with each other, did the government not fund the former instead of the latter? These slow, clumsy, uncoordinated, unplanned responses were evidently the result of thoughtlessness, inattention and incompetence – there was no strong economic incentive to respond otherwise. The point is that these two quite-different responses to handling refugees in the hurricane aftermath don’t differ much with respect to their associated economic activity – they differ mainly with respect to the misery of the common masses, and that is not a great concern of the wealthy elite.

From an economic perspective, it was lucrative to let the hurricane destroy New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, so that the country could engage in the economic activity of rebuilding. It was rather irrelevant whether the refugees were cared for and relocated in an orderly fashion, or left to suffer and die on their own, since either one produced about the same amount of economic activity. From the government’s viewpoint, however, there was a major public-relations cost associated with letting the refugees fend for themselves when it would have cost about the same to care for them properly: its total lack of caring has been exposed. This may cause the public to vote for new faces in the next election, but it will not cause any substantive changes to the system, or cause it to try to avoid economic disasters in the future. (Plato’s observation about a democracy’s defect of electing poor leaders who pander to the population are applicable here.)

In the case of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, the government claimed that no one could have possibly foreseen an attack of this sort, and it refused to admit that the attack was a direct result of foolish national policies (of open borders, mass immigration, and massive international free trade). In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the government claimed that this is the nation’s largest “natural disaster,” and so it is reasonable to expect that their response to a new situation would be a little slow and uncoordinated. (Moreover, characterizing the disaster as a “natural” disaster absolves the government of any responsibility for it.) As in the case of the 9/11 attack, the political leaders will pat each other on their backs, commending themselves for a job well done, and denying their blatant culpability. The government has consistently condoned or encouraged building in risky areas. It not only does not care that people’s homes in these places will be blown away someday, it looks forward to such events, since they will boost GDP. In today’s economy, they also create more demand for illegal aliens (to help rebuild, doing the construction jobs that “US workers refuse to do”) leading to further weakening and dissolution of the nation’s once-strong culture. From the government’s viewpoint, the human misery and loss of life that accompany these disasters are simply irrelevant “externalities.” Like the soldiers who died in Vietnam and Iraq, they are not included in the GDP indicator that drives the nation.

President Bush may apologize for the bungling lack of coordination in planning for the handling of the refugees. He may even apologize for not building stronger levees. But the fact remains that he and the oligarchs were fully aware of the consequences of allowing the economic destruction to occur (by allowing building in risky places), and they are now reveling in the fat contracts to rebuild New Orleans and the Mississippi coast.

The situation is a little reminiscent of the war in Iraq. The war is very profitable to the US arms industry, but the average American is getting fed up with having his sons and daughters die in brutal combat just to further economic activity in this lucrative sector. As a result, the war in Iraq will probably fizzle out before long, and America will withdraw, just as occurred in the war in Vietnam before it. The war in Iraq was planned from the beginning. Hurricane Katrina was just good luck.

An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security

Turning inward, the U.S. effectively seeks to build a fortress around itself to preserve resources. Borders are strengthened to hold back starving immigrants from Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean islands—waves of boat people pose especially grim problems...As the planet's carrying capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern reemerges: the eruption of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies. Wars over resources were the norm until about three centuries ago. When such conflicts broke out, 25% of a population's adult males usually died. As abrupt climate change hits home, warfare may again come to define human life.

Imagining the Unthinkable
The purpose of this report is to imagine the unthinkable - to push the boundaries of current research on climate change so we may better understand the potential implications on United States national security.We have interviewed leading climate change scientists, conducted additional research, and reviewed several iterations of the scenario with these experts. The scientists support this project, but caution that the scenario depicted is extreme in two fundamental ways. First, they suggest the occurrences we outline would most likely happen in a few regions, rather than on globally. Second, they say the magnitude of the event may be considerably smaller.

We have created a climate change scenario that although not the most likely, is plausible, and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately.

Executive Summary
There is substantial evidence to indicate that significant global warming will occur during the 21st century. Because changes have been gradual so far, and are projected to be similarly gradual in the future, the effects of global warming have the potential to be manageable for most nations. Recent research, however, suggests that there is a possibility that this gradual global warming could lead to a relatively abrupt slowing of the ocean's thermohaline conveyor, which could lead to harsher winter weather conditions, sharply reduced soil moisture, and more intense winds in certain regions that currently provide a significant fraction of the world's food production. With inadequate preparation, the result could be a significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth's environment.

The research suggests that once temperature rises above some threshold, adverse weather conditions could develop relatively abruptly, with persistent changes in the atmospheric circulation causing drops in some regions of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit in a single decade. Paleoclimatic evidence suggests that altered climatic patterns could last for as much as a century, as they did when the ocean conveyor collapsed 8,200 years ago, or, at the extreme, could last as long as 1,000 years as they did during the Younger Dryas, which began about 12,700 years ago.

In this report, as an alternative to the scenarios of gradual climatic warming that are so common, we outline an abrupt climate change scenario patterned after the 100-year event that occurred about 8,200 years ago. This abrupt change scenario is characterized by the following conditions:

· Annual average temperatures drop by up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit over Asia and North America and 6 degrees Fahrenheit in northern Europe
· Annual average temperatures increase by up to 4 degrees Fahrenheit in key areas throughout Australia, South America, and southern Africa.
· Drought persists for most of the decade in critical agricultural regions and in the water resource regions for major population centers in Europe and eastern North America.
· Winter storms and winds intensify, amplifying the impacts of the changes. Western Europe and the North Pacific experience enhanced winds.

The report explores how such an abrupt climate change scenario could potentially de-stabilize the geo-political environment, leading to skirmishes, battles, and even war due to resource constraints such as:

1) Food shortages due to decreases in net global agricultural production
2) Decreased availability and quality of fresh water in key regions due to shifted precipitation patters, causing more frequent floods and droughts
3) Disrupted access to energy supplies due to extensive sea ice and storminess

As global and local carrying capacities are reduced, tensions could mount around the world, leading to two fundamental strategies: defensive and offensive. Nations with the resources to do so may build virtual fortresses around their countries, preserving resources for themselves. Less fortunate nations especially those with ancient enmities with their neighbors, may initiate in struggles for access to food, clean water, or energy. Unlikely alliances could be formed as defense priorities shift and the goal is resources for survival rather than religion, ideology, or national honor.

This scenario poses new challenges for the United States, and suggests several steps to be taken:

· Improve predictive climate models to allow investigation of a wider range of scenarios and to anticipate how and where changes could occur
· Assemble comprehensive predictive models of the potential impacts of abrupt climate change to improve projections of how climate could influence food, water, and energy
· Create vulnerability metrics to anticipate which countries are most vulnerable to climate change and therefore, could contribute materially to an increasingly disorderly and potentially violent world.
· Identify no-regrets strategies such as enhancing capabilities for water management
· Rehearse adaptive responses
· Explore local implications
· Explore geo-engineering options that control the climate.

There are some indications today that global warming has reached the threshold where the thermohaline circulation could start to be significantly impacted. These indications include observations documenting that the North Atlantic is increasingly being freshened by melting glaciers, increased precipitation, and fresh water runoff making it substantially less salty over the past 40 years.

This report suggests that, because of the potentially dire consequences, the risk of abrupt climate change, although uncertain and quite possibly small, should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern.