Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cutting the Internet Cables Didn't Work...,

Iran established its first oil products bourse Sunday in a free trade zone on the Persian Gulf Island of Kish, the country's oil ministry said.

A statement posted on the ministry's Web site said 100 tons of polyethylene consignment was traded at the market's opening on the island, which houses the offices of about 100 Iranian and foreign oil companies.

Oil and petrochemical products will be traded in Iranian Rials, as well as all other hard currencies, the statement quoted Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari as saying. About 20 brokers are already active in the market, it said.

"The bourse provides an economic opportunity for Iranians, other countries and foreign customers," Nozari was quoted as saying.

Iran produces more than 20 million tons of petrochemical products per year.

Iran has already registered for another oil bourse, in which it has said it hopes to trade oil in Euros instead of dollars, to reduce any American influence over the Islamic Republic's economy.

A bourse official, Mahdi Karbasian, told the IRNA official news agency that such an oil market would begin operating within the next year.

While most oil markets are traded in U.S. dollars, Iran first floated the idea of trading oil in Euros in the early 2000s during the tenure of reformist president Mohammad Khatami. It gained new life after the nationalist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005.

As the fourth largest oil producer in the world, Iran has a measure of influence over international oil markets. The country ranks second for output among OPEC Countries, and controls about 5 percent of the global oil supply.

Paxil's a Helluva Drug....,

It took long enough, but at last the lid seems to be opening up on the psychopharmacological motive underlying the Valentine's day massacre at NIU.

Stephen Kazmierczak - the Illinois gunman stopped taking Paxil (Seroxat)… according to news channel ABC7 Chicago - full story here:

“Authorities have not figured out what motivated the man, described as a hardworking, award-winning former honor student by NIU faculty, to go on a shooting rampage that killed five students.

Kazmierczak, 27, was treated for mental illness nine years ago. He was considered volatile, according to a staff member who worked at the facility at the time, and violent if he stopped taking the antidepressant and anti-anxiety pills prescribed for him. Including Paxil, it was medication he was supposed to still be taking and apparently stopped a couple of weeks ago.”

So Paxil/Seroxat may have been involved in this tragedy, however we need to know the details - we need to know the truth.

Real Change

Do you remember when Halliburton relocated its world HQ to Dubai last year?

If you could, you would too.

I came across this post this morning and it documents the most jaw-dropping economic development one could ever imagine outside the annals of pure science fiction.

Dubai in 1990:

The same street in 2003;

The same street in 2007;

Go check out the full monty at Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis where there are many more mind-boggling images to document this trend.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Obamamandius

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Percy Bysshe Shelley

As the ultimate rorschachian figuration, Obama has been claimed and disclaimed by elements from all across the spectrum desperate to be seen as relevant or percipient. Few, however, comprehend his actual signification. Last year at Cobb, I spelled out precisely what would be required of the presidential heir apparent.

Last night, I happened to catch some of Real Time on my way to shuteye and saw Andrew Sullivan venture about as close as anyone has here-to-date in grasping the signification of an Obama presidency. Baraka is an idealized construct of elite governance. This is why he has garnered the support of U.S. elites and elements from throughout the establishment. quoth Sullivan;
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial—it’s central to an effective war strategy. The war on Islamist terror, after all, is two-pronged: a function of both hard power and soft power. We have seen the potential of hard power in removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. We have also seen its inherent weaknesses in Iraq, and its profound limitations in winning a long war against radical Islam. The next president has to create a sophisticated and supple blend of soft and hard power to isolate the enemy, to fight where necessary, but also to create an ideological template that works to the West’s advantage over the long haul. There is simply no other candidate with the potential of Obama to do this. Which is where his face comes in.

Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can......Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.
Remember, when everything is said and done, and all the rorschachian self-affirmations are complete, all that will remain, and all that has ever mattered from the outset with this perfectly honed candidacy - has been the imperative to maintain the global rule of dopamine hegemony.

Motive? What motive?

This just in from faux news;



That didn't take very long now did it? The man who gunned down five people at Northern Illinois University in a suicidal rampage became erratic after halting his medication and carried a shotgun to campus inside a guitar case, police said Friday.

update; Kazmierczak, whose first name was earlier listed as Steven, was taking some kind of medication, Grady said.

"He had stopped taking medication and become somewhat erratic in the last couple of weeks," Grady said, declining to name the drug or provide other details.

next update; A former employee at a Chicago psychiatric treatment center said Kazmierczak was placed there after high school by his parents. She said he used to cut himself, and had resisted taking his medications.
further update; Family members told the authorities that Mr. Kazmierczak had stopped taking his medication. Law enforcement authorities would not say what the medication was for, but said Mr. Kazmierczak had grown erratic, according to his family, in the days after he quit taking the drugs.
Still not giving up those anti-depressant meds though. Media coverage is focused on gun control and copycat shootings inspired by media coverage.

Dressed in black and wearing a stocking cap - whaddaya bet he was loaded up on a bellyful of prescription anti-depressants?

We continue to await the specific toxicology report....,

G-Thang Baybee...,

"We’re not going there just for the oil because we’re not that evil. It’s just a stupid argument," says Thomas P.M. Barnett, a New York Times best-selling author and military expert who is a forecaster of future global conflicts. "We’re going so to create better governments, improve the people, create jobs, create stability."

In essence, the US has grand plans to set in motion "the great African renaissance," says Barnett, who traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya this past summer, visiting several newly established US military outposts.

The White House, however, is not saying much about their plans for AFRICOM to those who should be in the know, says a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Don Zaluchi: I also don't believe in drugs. For years I paid my people extra so they wouldn't do that kind of business. Somebody comes to them and says, "I have powders; if you put up three, four thousand dollar investment, we can make fifty thousand distributing." So they can't resist. I want to control it as a business, to keep it respectable.
[slams his hand on the table and shouts]

Don Zaluchi: I don't want it near schools! I don't want it sold to children! That's an infamia. In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people, the coloreds. They're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls.

Baraka Jes Grew....,

Friday, February 15, 2008

Black Superdelegates Switch From Clinton to Obama

The former first lady just days ago was assailing Obama as untested, using as evidence the fact that Obama had never had a negative TV ad run against him. This week she remedied that complaint, launching an ad criticizing Obama for not agreeing to debate her in Wisconsin. The DLC is so busted now.

Baraka is single-handedly forcing the revision of all pre-existing political calculus. Please recall my earlier statements to the effect that I support his candidacy strictly on the grounds that he would do just such a thing. Two commenters this morning at Cobb, have really summed up the terror of the situation for both ends of the political spectrum.

1. Darkstar brings it in the comment;
This is something it Blacks from the Right are delighting in because of the row about the Black Right being punks and never showing up when invited, now the shoe is on the other foot. But the Black Right is, mostly, deliberately missing the point.

The Black Right claims they want the Black masses to hold politicians accountable and Smiley is doing just that.

It's like when the Black Right says Jackson, Sr, Sharpton, the NAACP, etc "controls the minds" of the Black community but publicly ignores when the same Black community slams Jackson, Sr, Sharpton, the NAACP, etc.

Just look at the split in support for Clinton and Obama. The Black Right likes to point it out but won't go that extra step and ask, "Does OR DID the so-called Black leader EVER lead or determine how Black America thinks or acts?"

No, the Black Right won't do that because then the answer would force people to look behind THEIR curtain.

We all know so-called Black leaders don't determine what Black America does or thinks. But too many people from the left and right need to "perpetrate the fraud" for selfish reasons.

2. While A. Charles drops science with this comment;
If we're saying that you can be where he is just by virtue of being a black candidate, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Carol Mosely Braun should have gotten there before him, I would think.

If you're adding up all the votes he gets just because he's black, and for no other reason, and even assuming that all of the black folks are voting for him just because he's black and not because he's the best candidate, there's not much reason to think that anybody who isn't black is gonna be voting for him. Which means that we can see him winning South Carolina, D.C. and Maryland. That makes him about as marginal as Bill Clinton tried to make him in comparing him to Jesse Jackson, and substantially less of a front-runner than Mike Huckabee is on the other side of the party line.

Neither of those what-ifs is in fact the case, though. No black candidate has done what this one has done, and this one has come out ahead in primaries where being black can't explain the result: Iowa, Maine, Colorado, Nebraska, Idaho, etc.

Put it this way: if John Edwards could be a legitimate presidential candidate in 2004, why couldn't somebody who's just like him, just better in every tangible way that's relevant to a politician, be ahead in this race just on the basis of those virtues?

That analysis is why I reject the comparison of whites who vote for whites just because of their race to the black people who are voting for Obama. There is a difference between voting just because of race and being pleased and proud to have, for the first time ever, the chance to confirm with your vote that the best candidate is one of your race. I wouldn't vote for Alan Keyes for president, and I wouldn't be happy to have Barack Obama be head coach of the Chicago Bears. But I am pleased, after having to believe for quite some time that I'd never see black men in either of those jobs, to see that the best available candidates are black men.
I take infinite pleasure in seeing all the handkerchief heads outed in one brilliant fell swoop.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Anti-Democratic Global Corporatism

Ten years ago, the late Sir James Goldsmith discussed the toxic social effects of global corporatism with Charlie Rose. Enduring nasty "debate" from a Clinton hanger-on, Dr. Laura D'Andrea Tyson for about 10 minutes toward the middle of the program - Goldsmith resumes civil discourse with Charlie Rose after Tyson finishes. Very, very interesting insight into the subversion of the global financial system, the U.S. economy, and the health of our population.



Goldsmith was also the founder of the most successful of the U.K. Referendum Parties - a most capital notion for reinjecting democratic praxis into the otherwise utterly undemocratic governance scheme that we currently endure.

Cilia and Visual Consciousness

Consciousness may involve quantum computation in the brain.

Cilia in the retina (and possibly elsewhere in the brain) may be involved in quantum optical processes relevant to consciousness.

Dr. Stuart Hameroff "Cilia, vision and consciousness" Syntonic Optometry, May 2007

Patterns

Oliver Sacks writing at length in the NYTimes blog;
As a child, I was fascinated by patterns, starting with the patterns in our house — the square colored floor tiles we had on the porch, the tessellation of small pentagonal and hexagonal ones in the kitchen; the herringbone pattern on the curtains in my room, and the pattern on my father’s check suit. When I was taken to the synagogue for services, I was more interested in the mosaics of tiny tiles on the floor than in the religious liturgy. And I was fascinated by a pair of antique Chinese cabinets we had in our drawing room, for embossed on their lacquered surfaces were patterns of wonderful intricacy, patterns on different scales, patterns nested within patterns, all surrounded by clusters of tendrils and leaves.

These geometric and scrolling motifs seemed somehow familiar to me, though it did not dawn on my until years later that this was because I had seen them not only in my environment but in my own head, that these patterns resonated with my own inner experience of the intricate tilings and swirls of migraine.

Much later still, when I first saw photographs of the Alhambra, with its intricate geometric mosaics, I started to wonder whether what I had taken to be a personal experience and resonance might in fact be part of a larger whole, whether certain basic forms of geometric art, going back for tens of thousands of years, might also reflect the external expression of universal experiences. Migraine-like patterns, so to speak, are seen not only in Islamic art, but in classical and medieval motifs, in Zapotec architecture, in the bark paintings of Aboriginal artists in Australia, in Acoma pottery, in Swazi basketry — in virtually every culture. There seems to have been, throughout human history, a need to externalize, to make art from, these internal experiences, from the decorative motifs of prehistoric cave paintings to the psychedelic art of the 1960s. Do the arabesques in our own minds, built into our own brain organization, provide us with our first intimations of geometry, of formal beauty?

Whether or not this is the case, there is an increasing feeling among neuroscientists that self-organizing activity in vast populations of visual neurons is a prerequisite of visual perception — that this is how seeing begins. Spontaneous self-organization is not restricted to living systems — one may see it equally in the formation of snow crystals, in the roilings and eddies of turbulent water, in certain oscillating chemical reactions. Here, too, self-organization can produce geometries and patterns in space and time, very similar to what one may see in a migraine aura. In this sense, the geometrical hallucinations of migraine allow us to experience in ourselves not only a universal of neural functioning, but a universal of nature itself.
This article is related to these precursor articles Za'irajah, Ars Generalis Ultima, and Undulipodium- I hadn't forgotten, I just got distracted by work and current events for few days....,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

America's Most Miserable City

No. 1 - Detroit, Mich. (Not counting the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.)
Rank
Commute times 80
Income tax rates 87
Superfund sites 135
Unemployment 149
Violent crimes 150
Weather 95

Misery Measure 696

Motown is the worst in the country when it comes to violent crime, with an annual rate of 1,251 crimes for every 100,000 residents. Unemployment in the area is below the double-digit rates it hit in the early 1990s, but at 8.5% over the past three years, it is still the second-highest in the country among the 150 largest metro areas.

Ranks are based on the 150 largest metro areas.

Sources: Bert Sperling; Moody's Economy.com; U.S. Census Bureau

Imagine living in a city with the country's highest rate for violent crime and the second-highest unemployment rate. As an added kicker you need more Superfund dollars allocated to your city to clean up contaminated toxic waste sites than just about any other metro.

Unfortunately, this nightmare is a reality for the residents of Detroit. The Motor City grabs the top spot on Forbes' inaugural list of America's Most Miserable Cities.

Baraka SOBU?

So, I'm checking my email this morning, and much to my surprise is this item of no small controversy cc'd to me from one of the Kwaku nets comprised mainly of my elders it's from Roland Martin's Essence Newsletter;
Sen. Barack Obama took a lot of heat last year from participants in Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union annual confab, which was held in Virginia. To be fair, he was a little busy that day...announcing HE WAS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT!

Some of the folks there were besides themselves, and frankly, were childish about it, even saying that he should have put off his presidential announcement to be there.

Now, almost a year later, he is faced with a similar dilemma.

Tavis has announced that he will hold his State of the Black Union annual talkfest on Feb. 23 in New Orleans, La. This is a huge event attended by thousands each year; broadcast on C-SPAN; and attracts some of the nation's top black activists, politicians and intellectuals.

During his commentary Thursday on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the most listened to black radio show, Tavis said he's invited the three top candidates, Republican frontrunner, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He said only one has accepted, and he will wait until tomorrow for the other two to decide.

He didn't say which one decided to attend, but on Friday, Clinton announced that she was attending.

In his commentary, Smiley said he was going to snap on those who don't attend on Tuesday's show, demanding that they own up to black issues and zero in on social justice issues as outlined in the book he edited, "The Covenant with Black America."
Martin says Obama ought to skip Smiley's State of the Black Union.

Clinton has no choice but to attend.

McCain doesn't matter.

Question of the Day: Do you think Sen. Barack Obama should attend Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union event in New Orleans on Feb. 23?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Georgia and the Coming Resource Wars

It's official: the era of resource wars is upon us. In a major London address, British Defense Secretary John Reid warned that global climate change and dwindling natural resources are combining to increase the likelihood of violent conflict over land, water and energy. Climate change, he indicated, “will make scarce resources, clean water, viable agricultural land even scarcer”—and this will “make the emergence of violent conflict more rather than less likely.”

Although not unprecedented, Reid’s prediction of an upsurge in resource conflict is significant both because of his senior rank and the vehemence of his remarks. “The blunt truth is that the lack of water and agricultural land is a significant contributory factor to the tragic conflict we see unfolding in Darfur,” he declared. “We should see this as a warning sign.”

Resource conflicts of this type are most likely to arise in the developing world, Reid indicated, but the more advanced and affluent countries are not likely to be spared the damaging and destabilizing effects of global climate change. With sea levels rising, water and energy becoming increasingly scarce and prime agricultural lands turning into deserts, internecine warfare over access to vital resources will become a global phenomenon.

Comes now P6 with this fascinating little glimpse from the twilight zone in which the ongoing southeastern drought has Georgia revisting a nearly 200 year old border dispute with Tennessee;
"It's never too late to right a wrong," said Georgia state Sen. David Shafer (R), whose bill would create a boundary-line commission that aims to resolve the dispute.
Good. Now about those reparations for slavery.
But on the serious tip - there is about to be a heat-up under the law about sovereign control of territory - given the implications for big business, unbridled growth, and the continuing viability of the obviously unsustainable sprawl that is Atlanta;
Nearly two centuries after a flawed survey placed Georgia's northern border just short of the Tennessee River, some legislators are thirsting to set the record straight.

A historic drought has added urgency to Georgia's generations-old claim that its territory should extend about a mile farther north and reach into the Tennessee -- a river with about 15 times the flow of the one Atlanta depends on for water.

"It's never too late to right a wrong," said Georgia state Sen. David Shafer (R), whose bill would create a boundary-line commission that aims to resolve the dispute.

The reaction of Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D): "This is a joke, right?"

No joke gov. Georgia desperately needs that water, and it's coming at you to get it by any means necessary. Really though, it's not like you expect the Federal government to intervene constructively here, do you? Civil and infrastructural engineers have already pegged the cost of getting Atlanta's water storage capacity up to snuff at $300 Billion dollars. It'd be a helluva lot cheaper to simply sue and steal the desperately needed water from Tennessee based on a 200 year old dispute over territorial precision.

Technosexual Tragedy...,

Since I'm on a crooks and liars tear this afternoon, I GOT to put in my two cents here with Scottie Maurice Pippen and Bigfoot;





I would absolutely love to see Tonya Reiman get ahold of these two - but given the stanktabulous nature of her primary funding source, THAT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN.



fist tap to UCBM for originally cracking me up with Kwame's real deal....,

Khartoum?



We all remember the disturbing scene in Francis Ford Coppola's “The Godfather” where Tom Hagen goes to Hollywood to convince a recalcitrant movie producer to use Johnny Fontaine in his next film. The “Big shot” producer is finally persuaded to hire the young actor after he wakes up in bed next to the severed head of his prize thoroughbred. Did Bush make a similar “offer they could not refuse” to the various leaders of the Gulf States when he met with them earlier this month. Why would he choose to visit the Middle East just as his second term as president is winding down and there is no chance of success?

Unbelievable.....,

USAF Pushing Energy Alternatives

Here's where you know, if you read the signs and between the lines, how serious the situation has become. This also happens to be a VERY GOOD THING that we should each push our respective district congress critters to support aggressively and vociferously. Every branch of the U.S. armed services needs to get on this stick with the quickness because they have both the market moving scale to make it matter, and, they have the hierarchical social cohesion and reach into the social mass sufficient to drive such initiatives into the larger public domain.

Air Force pushing energy alternatives

A top ranking official said Friday the Air Force is striving to be a "market initiator" in developing energy alternatives and weaning the nation away from foreign oil dependence.

William C. Anderson, Air Force assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics, wrapped up a two-day visit to Robins Air Force Base after briefing base leaders on the Air Force's energy strategy and receiving updates from the Advanced Power Technology Office at Robins. Anderson said the strategy is simple: Reduce demand, find new, domestically sourced, clean energy and change the Air Force culture for every airman.

"From the day an airman walks into basic training to the most senior ranks of the Air Force, we want to ensure they make energy considerations in every thing they do," Anderson said during an afternoon press conference. He said the Air Force mission remains to fly, fight, win and maintain sovereign options for the nation. "But we believe we can do that in a way that reduces demand on energy," he said, "and in a way that reduces the environmental impact."


The Power of Community - How Cuba Survived Peak Oil



In 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba experienced an 'energy famine.' Transportation and agriculture virtually came to a stop due to lack of diesel fuel and fertilizer shortages. This film explores what changes were put in place. The makers of the film 'The End Of Suburbia' went to Cuba to explore it as a test case for what the conditions after Peak Oil would look like. This is that story.

Cubans improved their health, sense of community, food and health of their land. A greater percentage of Cubans own their own home than Americans. More farmers own their own land. Free markets indeed....,

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Can the world afford a middle class?

By Moisés Naím February 8, 2008 LATimes

More countries are pulling themselves out of poverty, placing greater demand on food supplies and natural resources.

The middle class in poor countries is the fastest-growing segment of the world's population. While the total population of the planet will increase by about a billion people in the next 12 years, the ranks of the middle class will swell by as many as 1.8 billion -- 600 million just in China. The impact of a fast-growing middle class will be felt in the price of other resources. After all, members of the middle class are also buying more clothes, refrigerators, toys, medicines and eventually will buy more cars and homes. China and India, with nearly 40% of the world's population -- most of it still very poor -- already consume more than half of the global supply of coal, iron ore and steel. Thanks to their growing prosperity and that of other countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam, the demand for these products is booming.

Moreover, a middle-class lifestyle in these developing countries, even if more frugal than what is common in rich nations, is more energy-intensive. In 2006, China added as much electricity as France's total supply. Yet millions in China lack reliable access to electricity; in India, more than 400 million don't have power. The demand in India will grow fivefold in the next 25 years.

And we know what happened to oil prices. Oil reached its all-time high of $100 a barrel not because of supply constraints but because of unprecedented growth in consumption in poor countries. China alone accounts for one-third of the growth in the world's oil consumption in recent years.

South Africa in the Premature Long Emergency

The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century is a book by James Howard Kunstler (Grove/Atlantic, 2005) exploring the consequences of a world oil production peak, coinciding with the forces of climate change, resurgent diseases, water scarcity, global economic instability and warfare to cause chaos for future generations.

The book's principal theme explores the effects of a peak in oil production, predicted by many geologists, on American society as well as the rest of the world. In both this book and in his other writings, Kunstler argues that the economic upheavals caused by peak oil will force Americans to live in more localized, self-sufficient communities.

Letter from a farmer to Kunstler; It began with a few potholes in the roads, the odd interruption to the water supply in the suburbs, a couple of days with strike action preventing the delivery of municipal services – no garbage collection, protest action disrupting the mining industry and picketing & toy toying at shopping malls…It continued over the next couple of years, largely with disregard for the disruptions, a little irritation to daily commercial and home life by the lack of service provision in food, gas, water and power.

In recent months, at the receivables end of the supply chain, there was a little aggravation at the delays, the lack of service, the shortage of a few consumer luxuries in the retail shops…, ‘but hey, what the hell, this is a great country, we cannot fault the lifestyle, the weather…’. For a couple of months, perhaps a year back or so, there seemed little or no reason to change our way of life, our lifestyles…a little further down the road and the disruptions become more frequent, we learn to cope, learn to accept the rising cost of living, gas supply shortages in the Winter of 2007, the intermittent water disruptions, the odd power outage and the potholes. Potholes may well be the singular measure of the calamity we are in or about to face.

As we head into February, it will be interesting to see the economic figures; theoretically the revenue generation for the period should be down by at least 25% or something similar to the power outage percentages. Notwithstanding that the stock market took a bend downwards and followed the USA crash and the antics of the Societé General rogue trader. (Well done on the foresight, James). The South African property market is following suit, as well.

And just as we were wondering how the effect, implications and opinions of an emergency would pan out into daily life, what the tell tail signs would be… it happened, all of this is the short space of about 2-3 weeks, the realization dawns that it has begun, the country is experiencing and living through the beginning of the Long Emergency, rather unexpectedly and certainly too prematurely.

I proffer that the events in South Africa, tragic as they are, as they play themselves out, will give a good indication of the events that the USA and other countries will realize in the years to come as The Long Emergency’ comes to pass.

The Inner Life of the The Cell

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dirt Cookies

It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.
The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cité Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.

"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds 3 ounces he weighed at birth. Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies give her stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky too," she said. Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher prices for oil, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.

The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports, and food prices are up 40 percent in places.
INSIGHTS: Why Ethanol Production Will Drive World Food Prices Even Higher in 2008;
We are witnessing the beginning of one of the great tragedies of history. The United States, in a misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity by converting grain into fuel for cars, is generating global food insecurity on a scale never seen before.

The world is facing the most severe food price inflation in history as grain and soybean prices climb to all-time highs. Wheat trading on the Chicago Board of Trade on December 17th breached the $10 per bushel level for the first time ever. In mid-January, corn was trading over $5 per bushel, close to its historic high. And on January 11th, soybeans traded at $13.42 per bushel, the highest price ever recorded. All these prices are double those of a year or two ago.
Lester R. Brown in his office. (Photo courtesy Earth Policy Institute)

As a result, prices of food products made directly from these commodities such as bread, pasta, and tortillas, and those made indirectly, such as pork, poultry, beef, milk, and eggs, are everywhere on the rise. In Mexico, corn meal prices are up 60 percent. In Pakistan, flour prices have doubled. China is facing rampant food price inflation, some of the worst in decades.
This is what happens when the bubble making machine breaks;
the next great bubble will be a $20 trillion "alternative energy" bubble. In fact, Wall Street's already hustling biofuels, solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal and hydroelectric as the new alternative energies destined to replace oil, gas and coal in this next new economy. Timing? The new "alternative energies" bubble will last about 8 years, from a 2005 launch till a peak around 2013, when it will "creatively destruct," when all possible "fake wealth" is squeezed out, when investors wise up to the scam, when that new bubble pops.

Why The Price of "Peak Oil" is Famine

Peak Oil is morphing into Peak Food;
Vulnerable regions of the world face the risk of famine over the next three years as rising energy costs spill over into a food crunch, according to US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

"We've never been at a point in commodities where we are today," said Jeff Currie, the bank's commodity chief and closely watched oil guru.

Global oil output has been stagnant for four years, failing to keep up with rampant demand from Asia and the Mid-East. China's imports rose 14pc last year. Biofuels from grain, oil seed and sugar are plugging the gap, but drawing away food supplies at a time when the world is adding more than 70m mouths to feed a year.

"Markets are as tight as a drum and now the US has hit the stimulus button," said Mr Currie in his 2008 outlook. "We have never seen this before when commodity prices were already at record highs. Over the next 18 to 36 months we are probably going into crisis mode across the commodity complex.

"The key is going to be agriculture. China is terrified of the current situation. It has real physical shortages," he said, referencing China still having memories of starvation in the 1960s seared in its collective mind.

While the US housing crash poses some threat to the price of metals and energy, the effect has largely occurred already. The slide in crude prices over the past month may have been caused by funds liquidating derivatives contracts to cover other demands rather than by recession fears. Goldman Sachs forecasts that oil will be priced at $105 a barrel by the end of 2008.
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The current "supercycle" is a break with history because energy and food have "converged" in price and can increasingly be switched from one use to another.

Corn can be used for ethanol in cars and power plants, for plastics, as well as in baking tortillas. Natural gas can be made into fertiliser for food output. "Peak Oil" is morphing into "Peak Food".

quoth Submariner;

meaningful change will occur as a response to a combination of imminent external threat and a mass domestic outcry.

To which I respond;

When all prior assumptions are rendered moot and a dizzying number of variables are in play - meaningful change can mean a lot of different things.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Transformation or Extinction?

Turner Classic Movies is showing my all-time favorite;



Cliff Notes for the impatient and those without cable teevee.

Warsocialism?

Speaking of founding criminals..., I gladly yield the floor to the ultra hardcore Jay Hanson who in various lists and newsgroups over the past decade or so has laid it all out for your collective consideration.

Nowhere is there to be found a more succinct and damning appraisal of what precisely has gone wrong with the path chosen for us by those who we have permitted to rule us.
Our Founders, for excellent reasons, didn’t trust government, so they founded [1] a government that was controlled by the rich. It’s based on three core assumptions:

1: The best way to solve social problems is through economic [2] growth.

2: Individuals know best how to improve their lives.

3: The best way to increase economic growth is to simply ask people who are good at it for advice. That’s why lobbyists are absolutely necessary to the function of our government. Without lobbyists, our corruptible-but-otherwise-unqualified elected officials and their appointed cronies would have absolutely no idea what to do!

In other words, elected officials ask the factory owner what government can do to increase his profit so he will build more factories, provide more jobs, and then individuals can make themselves better off. Keep giving the rich a greater fraction of the economic pie and they will keep increasing the size of the pie.

That’s how our Founders designed it, and that’s how public policy is made today:

“The policy formation process begins in corporate boardrooms... where problems are identified as issues to be solved by new policies. It ends in government, where policies are enacted and implemented.” – William Domhoff

Our Founders saw the “common good” as the sum of “individual goods” which could be measured by spending [3] – the more, the better. Obviously, now that we are entering a decades-long period of declining global economic activity (in the physical sense – not GDP), all of our Founders’ core assumptions are known to be wrong …

Which hardcore appraisal is why - in a nutshell - I'm not wetting my pants about the prospects for genuine or lasting change. I have yet to hear a single policy initiative that deviates from the core warsocialist modus operandi.

How about you?

Sonoluminescence

Bro. Makheru sends me to the stacks - to dust off something I haven't looked at in about 7 years;
Brother Nulan, Do you see any validity in the Cold Fusion Theory?
To which I enthusiastically though somewhat crabbily respond; Do you think these humans will be "allowed" to put a star in a jar given their nasty, brutish, killer-ape mentality and behaviours?

Bro. Makheru, on purely superstitious and curmudgeonly grounds, my answer to you is that I am confident that it is possible, but I am even more confident that our species will not be permitted to achieve it - given our current level of consciousness. I believe that we will be tantalized by the prospect, - because it appears to be so simple - but nothing more than that.

here is a summary of what I would consider to be the state of the art - along with a little history of how long folks have known about this enigmatic phenomenon.
The mechanism of the phenomenon of sonoluminescence remains unsettled. Theories include: hotspot, bremsstrahlung radiation, collision induced radiation and corona discharges, non-classical light, proton tunneling, electrodynamic jets, fractoluminescent jets (now largely discredited due to contrary experimental evidence), and so forth.

What do you think about Cold Fusion Makheru? What do you believe our prospects are for breaking through to harness the power of the sun?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How Harvard students perceive rednecks: The neural basis for prejudice

I've been saying this for longer than I can remember, and have caught no end of grief from fundamentalist victims of the racist memeplex - mechanically spouting their unfalsifiable theories of the world via obsessive, compulsive, addictive, circular arguments founded in childish deductivism.

The source of many of the world's woes might be tracked to a specific brain area responsible for identifying people that are not of our ilk. If so, a study on the neural bases of prejudice and its modulation (read abstract or download the pdf), by Jason Mitchell and Mahzarin R. Banaji, of Harvard University, and C Neil Macrae, at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, published in Neuron in May 2006, could be as important to the burgeoning field of social cognitive neuroscience as Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech was to the American civil rights movement.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Southern Fried, Extra Crispy...,

The Christian Science Monitor weighs in on the southeastern drought;
How the South responds to the improbably dry weather may affect the broader US economy, since the region's booming metro areas and job growth have so far fended off a national recession.

"The coincidence of having [potential] recession plus drought is a tough one for the economy," says Jeff Humphreys, an economist at the University of Georgia in Athens. "It's coming on top of the housing recession and the oil price shock, making our economy more vulnerable than would otherwise be the case. I don't think the drought alone is able to produce a recession, but it adds to negative forces that are already out there."

And on it drags, as recent rains have failed to refresh exhausted reservoirs. As an unusual bank of fronts in the West channeled the South's usual rains into deluges in Texas and the Midwest, the drought interfered with rural baptisms and put landscapers out of work, with losses in that industry totaling nearly $1 billion. A pool ban alone would wreck Georgia's $150 million pool-maintenance industry, experts say.

"The economic impact of long-term water shortages could be profound because water is so central to daily living, power generation, and manufacturing," noted a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Some nuclear power plants in the Southeast, which require huge amounts of water to operate, could be forced to throttle back or temporarily shut down later this year because drought is drying up the rivers and lakes used to cool the reactors, the Associated Press reported last month. Such shutdowns probably wouldn't cause blackouts, utility officials say. But they could lead to shockingly higher electric bills for millions of Southerners, because the region's utilities could be forced to buy expensive replacement power from other energy companies.
Trickle down from bursting economic bubbles, global warming, and the karmic laws of unintended consequences.....,

Energy War

So we go from total subject matter obscurity to panoramic coverage at the fringes of the mainstream almost overnight. Energy War now showing on the Sundance Channel. Enjoy!



What are the geopolitical consequences of the price of oil? As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman contends in Shuchen Tan, Ijsbrand van Veelen and Rudi Boon's documentary, as the price of oil rises, petro-states like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran hinder democracy's pace and ignore complaints of human rights abuses from countries in need of energy. ENERGY WAR forecasts the primary struggle of the 21st century will be a fierce contest to discover alternatives to oil and gas and ensure a nation's place as an energy superpower.

Ever See An Iceberg From Top To Bottom?

update: thanks to Cobb, I now know that I've been hoodwinked, bamboozled, played like a dub, caught bent over trying to retrieve the soap - and I bet that all I hadda do was run that joint through snopes.com.

This came from a Rig Manager for Global Marine Drilling in St. Johns, Newfoundland.

They actually have to divert the path of these things away from the rig by towing them with ships!

Anyway, in this particular case the water was calm and the sun was almost directly overhead so that the diver was able to get into the water and click this pic.

Clear water huh?!

They estimated the weight at 300,000,000 tons.

Hat tip to my buddy Davera for sending this to my attention.

Monday, February 04, 2008

What If: The Oil Runs Out


A watershed event has made its way to mainstream teevee. (well sort of...,)


The Science Channel is running a 60 minute special that actually does a pretty good job of depicting some of what is yet (soon?) to come.

Check your local listings then check out this show.


Slowly a consensus has emerged. Oil, the lifeblood of modern societies, is going to peak then decline irreversibly. Oil will be used for decades to come, but the era of surplus, conventional oil is ending, and we are not prepared.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Pop Go the Cables

Update: Fourth cable "broken".

Coincidence?

Cable reported cut Friday off Dubai in Persian Gulf. An undersea cable carrying Internet traffic was cut off the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai, officials said Friday, the third loss of a line carrying Internet and telephone traffic in three days.


Extensive Internet failure has affected much of Asia, the Middle East, north Africa

What's going on here? What are the military, financial, and communication implications of something like this?

Is it just me, or does a cluster of three transoceanic "backhoe incidents" effecting this large region of the world at a time of very interesting political foment seem peculiar?

You'd think these types of events happen everyday judging from occurrences this past week. But as you can see from the cross sectional view of the cable, it's more than a notion to take out one of these cables. The idea that a trawlers anchor got to it just seems a little implausible. In view of the fact that trawlers cross the ocean constantly-- Internet companies would be sure to construct cables that would not be destroyed that easily or be that accessible to anchor dragging when the connection to a whole continent depends on them. And what is even harder to believe is that these cables are cut in separate incidents---a couple days apart(map of cuts below)

Ships have been dispatched to repair two undersea cables damaged on Wednesday off Egypt.

FLAG Telecom, which owns one of the cables, said repairs were expected to be completed by February 12. France Telecom, part owner of the other cable, said it was uncertain when repairs on it would be repaired.

Stephan Beckert, an analyst with TeleGeography, a research company that consults on global Internet issues, said the cables off Egypt were likely damaged by ships' anchors.

The loss of the two Mediterranean cables -- FLAG Telecom's FLAG Europe-Asia cable and SeaMeWe-4, a cable owned by a consortium of more than a dozen telecommunications companies -- has snarled Internet and phone traffic from Egypt to India. Officials said Friday it was unclear what caused the damage to FLAG's FALCON cable about 50 kilometers off Dubai. A repair ship was en route, FLAG said.

The two cables damaged Wednesday collectively account for as much as three-quarters of the international communications between Europe and the Middle East, so their loss had a much bigger effect.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Za'irajah

A branch of the science of letter magic, (practiced) among the (authorities on letter magic), is (the technique of) finding out answers from questions by means of connections existing between the letters of the expressions (used in the question). They imagine that these (connections) can form the basis for knowing the future happenings they want to know. Here we have something like puzzles and trick problems.835 There are many discussions of the subject by them. The most comprehensive and most remarkable discussion of it is as-Sabti's Za'irajah of the World. It has been mentioned before. Here, we shall explain what has been said about how to operate it. We shall quote the poem that, it is thought, as-Sabti wrote on the subject.836 Then, we shall give a description of the Za'irajah with its circle and the table written on the verso.836a Finally, we shall reveal the truth about it. It is nothing supernatural; (the indications derived from it) result from an agreement in the wording of question and answer. It is (just) one interesting way among others, and a curious one, for finding out the answer from the question with the help of the technique called the technique of "breaking down."

From the Science of Letter Magic THE MUQADDIMAH Abd Ar Rahman bin Muhammed ibn Khaldun

Very few people share the (self-scrutiny) of the Sufis, for negligence in this respect is almost universal. Pious people who do not get that far perform, at best, acts of obedience 464 freed from the juridical study of how to be satisfactory 465 and conforming (in the execution of the acts of divine worship). The (Sufis), however, investigate the results of (acts of obedience) with the help of mystical and ecstatic experience, in order to learn whether they are free from deficiency or not. Thus, it is evident that the Sufis' path in its entirety depends upon self-scrutiny with regard to what they do or do not do, and upon discussion of the various kinds of mystical and ecstatic experience that result from their exertions. This, then, crystallizes for the Sufi novice in a "station." From that station, he can progress to another, higher one.

From the Science of Sufism THE MUQADDIMAH Abd Ar Rahman bin Muhammed ibn Khaldun

America - The Broken Bubble Machine

February Harpers - Eric Janszen + The Next Bubble

What's next? More asset-backed bubbles. The dot-com '90s created $7 trillion in market value. The housing boom created $12 trillion in "fake wealth." Janszen predicts the next great bubble will be a $20 trillion "alternative energy" bubble.

In fact, Wall Street's already hustling biofuels, solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal and hydroelectric as the new alternative energies destined to replace oil, gas and coal in this next new economy.

Timing? The new "alternative energies" bubble will last about 8 years, from a 2005 launch till a peak around 2013, when it will "creatively destruct," when all possible "fake wealth" is squeezed out, when investors wise up to the scam, when that new bubble pops.

In his finale, Janszen admits that when the "alternative energy" bubble finally self-destructs around 2013, "we will be left to mop up after yet another devastated industry," while Wall Street "will already be engineering its next opportunity."

But be warned: Even before we near the end of the "alternative energy" bubble, the law of unintended consequences will trigger a meltdown, not of the bubble but of the "bubble-making machine" itself! The machine will implode, taking down Wall Street, Washington, Corporate America ... and with it, the "new economy," the "new paradigm" and the "bubble-making machine!"

(the photo is not actually a bubble, it's a Harold "Doc" Edgerton rapatronic photo of the initial burst of a nuclear weapon)