Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Illusion of Crisis?

In this morning's Guardian commentary, a rhetorical point is raised;
How come Zimbabwe and Tibet get all the attention?

If a government wants to abuse human rights and rig elections, it needs to have the support of - or be - the western powers.
Nice serendipity given the Engdahl article on Mark Penn's abrupt defection from the Hellury campaign, his history with manipulating elections in client states, and his role in the global illusion making apparatus.
But, on the basis of the scale of violence, repression and election rigging alone, you would be hard put to explain why these conflicts have been singled out for such special attention. In the violence surrounding Zimbabwe's elections, two people are currently reported to have died; in Tibet, numbers estimated to have been killed by protesters and Chinese forces range from 22 to 140. By contrast, in Somalia, where US-backed Ethiopian and Somali troops are fighting forces loyal to the ousted government, several thousand have been killed since the beginning of the year and half the population of the capital, Mogadishu, has been forced to flee the city in what UN officials describe as Africa's worst humanitarian crisis.

When it comes to rigging elections, countries like Jordan and Egypt have been happy to oblige in recent months - in the Egyptian case, jailing hundreds of opposition activists into the bargain - and almost nobody in the west has batted an eyelid. In Saudi Arabia there are no national elections at all, let alone the opposition MPs and newspapers that exist in Zimbabwe. In Africa, Togo has been a more flagrant rigger, while in Cameroon last week the president was given the job for life. And when it comes to separatist and independence movements, the Turkish Kurds have faced far more violence and a tighter cultural clampdown than the Tibetans.

The crucial difference, of course, and the reason why these conflicts and violations don't get the deluxe media and political treatment offered to the Zimbabwean opposition or Tibetan separatists is that the governments involved are all backed by the west...,
In order to get a grip on TEP bidnis and the machinations of its hegemonic illusion apparatus, the subrealist would have to go all bidnis intel and set up a global dashboard on which we could benchmark and track where the most flagrant economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights violations are occurring inclusive of a backgrounder on the historic links between the current oppressive regime and its historic and continuing TEP sponsorship.

The Illusion of Choice?

Hillary Rodham Clinton said emphatically last night that Barack Obama can win the White House this fall, undercutting her efforts to deny him the nomination by suggesting he would lead the party to defeat. What does this mean?

Has Hellury been disavowed?
Mark Penn is exemplary of what US political insiders refer to as a person of the “permanent establishment,” the shadowy institutions and insiders behind the curtains who really determine critical policy issues and shape the choices gullible voters then are given to “democratically choose among.”

It has been referred to by strategists since the time of Edward Bernays as the “illusion of choice.” Penn is above political party, serving the interests of what some call the permanent establishment. As a case in point, he also is CEO of the influential global public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, which includes among clients the largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial and Blackwater Inc. the Republican led mercenary security firm that has been accused of repeated killings of innocent Iraqi civilians.

Penn’s firm was to make sure the “image” of such clients remained positive to the US public. Referring to Mark Penn, the influential Washington Post once referred to him as “the most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of." According to PSB’s website, Penn helped elect 15 overseas Presidents in the Far East, Latin America, and Europe. Clients include heads of state or opposition politicians in Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Yugoslavia.
With the abrupt departure of Hillary Clinton’s main campaign strategist, Mark Penn, have Hellury's backers decided to fold? If so, will they now shift their interests to Baraka or McCain?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cell Shape and Polarity - "Being" and "Knowing"

The other day I asked you to "consider the possibility that nature isn't opposed to culture, that biochemistry rivals intellect as a survival tool...," I just received an article from The Scientist that provokes a little further speculation along that line;
Jacobs-Wagner's career started off with a bang when, as a graduate student at the University of Li├Ęge in the early 1990s, she discovered that some bacteria can induce the enzyme beta-lactamase when exposed to antibiotics such cephalosporin, rendering them resistant to these drugs. "It's the physiology that interested me, the physiology I really wanted to understand," she says. "How do bacteria know they are under attack, and how are they able to respond by making protein that inactivates the antibiotics?"[...]Her pioneering studies on the molecular mechanisms underlying cell shape and cell polarity in Caulobacter crescentus, says Errington, "have helped change the way people think about bacteria. Now there's a whole new field of people who are working on bacterial cell biology using the same sorts of approaches used to study eukaryotes.
Can bacteria "know" anything? Is this just an instance of bumping up against the descriptive limitations of the language, or as I suspect, does it point to something rather more fundamental about the inseparable nature of "being" and "knowing"?

Fuel, Food, and Fiber

A subrealist is first and foremost dedicated to the implementation of practical and scientific solutions to the problems of the collective that it examines. The energy required to maintain our complex society is fairly easily within our reach. It would necessitate the local reuse/recycling of bulk waste as advocated by our brilliant sister Mahndisa, and, it would involve the industrial scale cultivation of hemp as feedstock for the age-old process of pyrolysis.

Pyrolysis is the technique of applying high heat to biomass, or organic plants and tree matter, with little or no air. Reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants and automobiles can be accomplished by converting biomass to fuel utilizing pyrolysis technology. The process can produce, from cellulosic material (like the stalks of hemp), charcoal, gasoline, ethanol, non-condensable gasses, acetic acid, acetone, methane, and methanol. Process adjustments can be done to favor charcoal, pyrolytic oil, gas, or methanol, with 95.5% fuel-to-feed ratios. Around 68% of the energy of the raw biomass will be contained in the charcoal and fuel oils -- renewable energy generated here at home, instead of overpaying for foreign petroleum.

Pyrolysis facilities can run 3 shifts a day, and since pyrolysis facilities need to be within 50 miles of the energy crop to be cost effective, many new local and rural jobs will be created, not to mention the employment opportunities in trucking and transportation.

Hemp vs. Fossil Fuels

Pyrolysis facilities can use the same technology used now to process fossil fuel oil and coal. Petroleum coal and oil conversion is more efficient in terms of fuel-to-feed ratio, but there are many advantages to conversion by pyrolysis.

1) Biomass has a heating value of 5000-8000 BTU/lb, with virtually no ash or sulfur emissions.

2) Ethanol, methanol, methane gas, and gasoline can be derived from biomass at a fraction of the cost of the current cost of oil, coal, or nuclear energy, especially when environmental costs are factored in. Each acre of hemp could yield about 1000 gallons of methanol.

3) When an energy crop is growing, it takes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, and releases an equal amount when it is burned, creating a balanced system, unlike petroleum fuels, which only release CO2. When an energy crop like hemp is grown on a massive scale, it will initially lower the CO2 in the air, and then stabilize it at a level lower than before the planting of the energy crop.

4) Use of biomass would end acid rain, end sulfer-based smog, and reverse the greenhouse effect.

Given the simplicity and obviousness of the solution to the problems we face, can there be any question whatsoever about the precise "nature" of our man-made predicament?

Is anybody holding their breath waiting in anticipation of a presidential candidate who advocates doing the simple, doable, and obvious to get the U.S. up off the energy mat?

The Fury of the Poor


Full article at Der Spiegel online;

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hunger in America

Perched on the edge of a cliff - we're habituated to maintaining the American Way of Life, regardless of the costs (which are as yet insufficiently perceptible here on the liminal fringe of consensus reality).

It is difficult for people to accept that the world as they've always known it is ending. We've recovered from recessions before, so we'll recover from this recession. That's the argument we hear in the commons - and it is, thanks to voodoo economics and ignorance of peak oil - essentially, irrefutable.

We have recovered from recessions before, but this is no ordinary recession. We've even recovered from a great economic depression before, but this is by no means an ordinary economic depression.

The end of the American way of life will come unexpectedly......,

Sorry Out of Gas

Co-Opted Science?

The Identification and Destruction of False Ideas is a pillar of the subrealist ouevre.

The H5N1 virus may have dropped out of the news headlines just now, but it hasn't gone away. Over the past couple weeks, I've come across a veritable tidal wave of pandemic planning and preparedness documentation and emergency management and crisis communications literature addressing this topic.

While it's not as sexy as the UFO preparedness literature, the sheer volume of the stuff makes me wonder to myself, "self, what the hell is going on here? what do these people know that we don't?" Then this morning, I find this article
The ultimate weapon of mass destruction, and a moment of abject lucidity begins to set in;
In Britain and the US, public health studies suggest that a full-blown pandemic of bird flu or something like the respiratory disease SARS could knock out a critical mass of the working population. Some sixty per cent of the nursing and medical services could be out of action within 10 days, according to a study at the Defence Academy of the UK Staff College. This would mean the armed services would have to be called in to help.

The threat to public order - a scenario out of the Day of the Triffids or the Quatermass Experiment - is what really alarms Downing Street. An American study has suggested that in a worst case, half the population would go down with bird flu – roughly the scale of Europe's Black Death of 1348. Half of those would have to go to hospital and millions would die in the first wave.

The government has laid in stocks of 14.6m courses of Tamiflu, one of two known medicines capable of combating H5N1. However, pharmaceutical competitors have claimed that Tamiflu would only be effective for a very short time, and the WHO says the virus appeared to be resistant to Tamiflu in at least two known cases.
It appears that the UK National Security Strategy has pegged pandemics as one of the major threats menacing the civilized world.
The threat to this country from a pandemic caused by bird flu or some such virus is greater than the threat from international terrorism in the view of Gordon Brown and his Downing Street advisors. This is why pandemics are ranked alongside terrorism and other major global ills in the National Security Strategy unveiled last month.
Now where is Gordon Brown getting his information from?
The argument is based on a hypothesis, a short-odds scientific bet. Sir David King, who's just stepped down as the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, puts it like this: "It is more a question of when rather than if the H5N1 virus mutates into a virulent human form. So far we have noted more than 20 mutations of the virus in only a few years."
His view is supported by every public health official or doctor I have met in recent months. Only last week, three former heads of the Defence Ministry and the Joint Intelligence Committee told me without hesitation that they thought the PM was right to flag the potential menace.
Oh Lawd!!!! The sky must indeed be falling, or maybe not. Evidently Sir David King has established track record second only to our own legendary Brownie. According to the warmwell blog, hailed thus; "This website has served as a rapier, puncturing the bladder of Government obfuscation, by publishing a highly informed, topical digest of news..." Sir David King has established a track record of highly dubious provenance and has served as a pseudo-scientific authority co-opted to justify a series of disastrous political agendas, most notably the mass slaughter of British livestock to control an alleged pandemic..

Which brings me back full circle. What's up with the human pandemic preparedness push?

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Strange History of Economics

From The Strange History of Economics;
Following WWII, the United States increasingly came to determine (one might say dictate) the shape of economics worldwide, while within the United States the sources of influence became concentrated and circumscribed to an absurd degree. This state of affairs, which persists to the present day, was engineered in significant part by the US Department of Defense, especially its Navy and Air Force. Beginning in the 1950s it lavishly funded university research in mathematical economics. Military planners believed that game theory and linear programming had potential use for national defense. And although now it seems ridiculous, they held out the same hope for mathematical solutions of “general equilibrium”, the theoretical core of Neoclassical economics. In 1954 Kenneth Arrow and Gerard Debreu achieved for this mathematical puzzle a solution of sorts that has been the central show piece of academic economics ever since. Arrow’s early research had been partly, in his words, “carried on at the RAND Corporation, a project of the United States Air Force.” In the 1960s, official publications of the Department of Defense praised the Arrow-Debreu project for its “modeling of conflict and cooperation whether if be [for] combat or procurement contracts or exchange of information among dispersed decision nodes.” In 1965, RAND created a fellowship program for economics graduate students at the Universities of California, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Chicago, Columbia and Princeton, and in addition provided postdoctoral funds for those who best fitted the mold. These seven economics departments along with MIT’s, an institution long regarded by many as a branch of the Pentagon, have come to dominate economics globally to an astonishing extent.
It's a short read. While you're there, check out the post autistic economics network and get a subscription. The price is right, enjoy....,

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama Meet Howard Beale...,

Here is a think for yourself moment...

Ridiculous questions are being raised about Obama's comments that voters in rural PA are frustrated and bitter because of how Washington has treated them.

Both Clinton and McCain are making the case that he is some how an elitist and out of touch with voters...or that he talks down to voters.

Take a look at all of what Obama said and then draw your own conclusions....,

Brother Baraka, stop pussyfooting around with these two crusty mediocrities, grow a pair and stuff this latest round of Faux News propaganda down their lying, treacherous pieholes!!!!

Cornification

What if Stephen King is right? What if human consciousness isn't the end-all and be-all of Darwinism? What if we are all just pawns in corn's clever strategy game, the ultimate prize of which is world domination? Author Michael Pollan asks us to see things from a plant's-eye view -- to consider the possibility that nature isn't opposed to culture, that biochemistry rivals intellect as a survival tool. By merely shifting our perspective, he argues, we can heal the Earth. Who's the more sophisticated species now?

Hellury Strikes!!!

The $109 Million dollar woman seizes the tactical moment;
But Clinton struck hard, calling Obama's comments "demeaning." The increased attack showed that Clinton is eager to hold on to her working class support and is looking to open new questions about Obama's judgment that would make voters and Democratic officials reconsider their support for the Illinois senator.

"I was raised with Midwestern values and an unshakable faith in America and its policies," she said. "Now, Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it's a matter of constitutional right. Americans who believe in God believe it's a matter of personal faith.

"I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith. The people of faith I know don't 'cling' to religion because they're bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich.

"Our faith is the faith of our parents and our grandparents. It is a fundamental expression of who we are and what we believe."
On second thought, Big Don is right, and that folks, the fact that she could even go there with a straight face in light of all the skeleton bones that have come tumbling out of her closet the past couple of weeks, perfectly illustrates why America will get EXACTLY the leadership that it deserves.

Uppity Dr. Baraka

The "condescending, elitist, UPPITY" Dr. Baraka had the audacity to touch and diagnose the angry and cancerous boil accumulating on the atrophying carcass of the American economy;
"But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
I wrote about this a couple years ago at Vision Circle. Baraka has spoken to and will now be compelled to fully engage around one of the most challenging bulwarks of reality evasion in America. Joe Bageant understood it and spoke to it very, very well.
I think working class anger is at a more fundamental level and that it is about this: rank and status as citizens in our society. I think it is about the daily insult working class people suffer from employers, government (national, state and local), and from their more educated fellow Americans, the doctors, lawyers, journalists, academicians, and others who quietly disdain working people and their uncultured ways. And I think working class anger is about some other things too:
Good luck and godspeed. If he can successfully engage these folks, alay their anger and mistrust, he has a better than even chance of becoming president and potentially even functioning as a catalyst for constructive change. This is easily the most interesting moment thus far in the democrat primary.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Road Not Taken....,

Prophecies and warnings regarding fossil fuel depletion. Extracted from the Wikipedia entry on Admiral Hyman Rickover - the visionary "inventor" of compact nuclear reactor technology and the man who handpicked Lt. James Earl Carter to join his superb nuclear naval fleet.
As early as 1957, Admiral Rickover began urging the development of alternate energy consumption paths to that of fossil fuels as their eventual depletion became evident, noting:

"A reduction of per capita energy consumption has always in the past led to a decline in civilization and a reversion to a more primitive way of life...Anyone who has watched a sweating Chinese farm worker strain at his heavily laden wheelbarrow, creaking along a cobblestone road, or who has flinched as he drives past an endless procession of human beasts of burden moving to market in Java - the slender women bent under mountainous loads heaped on their heads - anyone who has seen statistics translated into flesh and bone, realizes the degradation of man's stature when his muscle power becomes the only energy source he can afford. Civilization must wither when human beings are so degraded....High-energy consumption has always been a prerequisite of political power. The tendency is for political power to be concentrated in an ever-smaller number of countries. Ultimately, the nation which controls the largest energy resources will become dominant."
Carter was the only president who attempted to take on the single greatest threat to our survival, and to this day, he remains maligned and ignored despite being a visionary many, many years ahead of his time. Not so far ahead as his mentor Admiral Rickover, who was noted for his intolerance of oxygen thievery;
Moreover, he had "little tolerance for mediocrity, none for stupidity." "If a man is dumb," said a Chicago friend, "Rickover thinks he ought to be dead." Even while a Captain, Rickover did not conceal his opinions, and many of the officers he regarded as dumb eventually rose in rank to be admirals and were assigned to the Pentagon.
Too bad these visionaries weren't able to wake up the masses in their time.

The Face of a Prophet

In today's NYTimes;
“I consider this the biggest financial crisis of my lifetime,” Mr. Soros said during an interview Monday in his office overlooking Central Park. A “superbubble” that has been swelling for a quarter of a century is finally bursting, he said[...]The market theory he has promoted for two decades and espoused most of his life — something he calls “reflexivity” — is still dismissed by many economists. The idea is that people’s biases and actions can affect the direction of the underlying economy, undermining the conventional theory that markets tend toward some sort of equilibrium.

Mr. Soros said all aspects of his life — finance, philanthropy, even politics — are driven by reflexivity, which has to do with the feedback loop between people’s understanding of reality and their own actions. Society as a whole could learn from his theory, he said. “To make a contribution to our understanding of reality would be my greatest accomplishment,” he said.
Soros is correct. "Reality" mirrors the contents of the collective unconscious. To change the former requires autonomous access to and some degree of control over the latter. Human beings have engendered a number of such cultures of psychological competence. The currently dominant dopamine hegemony is not such a culture. Instead, it is a culture in which the tendency toward unconscious behaviour is maximized and ruthlessly and habitually exploited. That's why it works. That's why it's universal, and that's why it will be our undoing.

Peak Oil - The First Shortages?

This sad little nethoax chain letter - urging consumers to boycott Exxon Mobile - is once again making the rounds of the Kwaku Net. Assuming folks deigned to act on what this letter enjoins, their action would prove absolutely meaningless. Instead of engaging in impotent symbolic gestures signifying nothing, the meaningful thing to do is to begin preparing to the best of your ability to hunker down, conserve, and to cooperate with others in your community for the cold, hard rain that is certain to come. This is for your personal and communal benefit no matter what. So do it!

No time like the present. As for trying to auger the timing of the clampdown, here is the one sure indicator by which you can ascertain when things will begin to tighten up in earnest.

Fuel prices alone are unlikely to bring America to its senses.
It clearly will take outright shortages with lines at the pumps, curtailed deliveries and many other misfortunes before serious measures to deal with declining oil supplies –- speed limits, rationing, mandatory car pools, improved mass transit -- are taken. Thus the question becomes: how soon?

Gasoline and diesel are two different animals in America. Most gasoline is used for personal travel and much of that for convenience and, as we shall find out shortly, is not essential to the economy. Diesel in America is, for the most part, an essential fuel in that it is used to perform money-making work or, in its heating oil form, keep us from freezing. If diesel becomes too expensive, and those expenses cannot be passed on, then the consumption of diesel will be cut back. This in fact is already happening -- the government is reporting that distillate consumption of diesel and heating oil currently is down by 3.1 percent as compared to the same four week period last year. This is undoubtedly due to the price of diesel and heating oil which is now around $4 a gallon, an increase of $1.17 a gallon since last year.

The word “distillates” encompasses both diesel and heating oil which are about the same thing; except that the clean air rules in the U.S. require most of the sulfur be removed before burning it in a motor. Currently there is a world-wide shortage of distillates which is most severe in China where long lines of trucks waiting for fuel are appearing across the country.
So watch what's going on in the diesel and distillates market. Diesel is the lifeblood of our current unsustainable level of consumption. As goes the diesel, so goes our way of life.

Floating Arctic Nuclear Power Plants

Rosenergoatom is promoting floating nuclear power plants (NPP) for energy supply for Arctic oil-and gas drilling platforms. Instead of using gas to produce electricity for the platform one floating NPP can ensure needed power supply. A promotion brochure from Rosenergoatom details the plans to use the floating NPPs for offshore oil and gas installations in the remote Arctic oceans.

The general concept of the plan is based on the same technology as the floating nuclear power plant currently under construction at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk in the Arkhangelsk region.

The plant will be built as a barge where the core of the nuclear power plant is its KLT-40 reactor. This kind of reactors is similar to the ones onboard Russia’s civilian fleet of nuclear powered icebreakers operated by the Murmansk Shipping Company. Given the speed with which the Artic ice is melting, there won't be much foward-looking use for a fleet of nuclear ice breakers....,

Sevmorput

Murmansk gets the world’s first nuclear-powered oil drilling vessel

The Murmansk Shipping Company will turn the nuclear-powered container carrier “Sevmorput“ into a drilling vessel for the oil industry. The vessel will be ready for drilling operations in the Arctic within 18 months, the company announced this week.

With the transformation, the world will see the first ever nuclear-powered oil and gas service vessel. The place of work for the vessel is likely to be the Arctic, and first of all the Barents Sea.

Subterrene

Pronounced like submarine, and fairly obvious when you think about it, just not the type of thing you figure anyone gets around to building anytime after you stopped reading comic books or science fiction. Truth, however, is very often stranger than fiction.

ABSTRACT A tunneling machine for producing large tunnels in rock by progressive detachment of the tunnel core by thermal melting a boundary kerf into the tunnel face and simultaneously forming an initial tunnel wall support by deflecting the molten materials against the tunnel walls to provide, when solidified, a continuous liner; and fragmenting the tunnel core circumscribed by the kerf by thermal stress fracturing and in which the heat required for such operations is supplied by a compact nuclear reactor.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART The utilization of the basic concept of melting earth materials to dig a hole or small tunnel is taught in the prior art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,357,505 issued 15 to Armstrong et al. in 1967, disclosed an electrically heated rock drill. U.S. Pat. No. 3,396,806 issued August 1968 to Benson disclosed a unitized machine for thermal earth drilling utilizing a nuclear reactor for supplying the melting energy requirements. This patent 20 also suggests that the hole could be melted to a larger diameter than required for the finished hole so that melt material would provide the hole casing. U.S. Pat. No. 3,693,731 issued Sept. 1972 to Armstrong et al. also discloses a nuclear reactor pow- 25 ered earth boring machine and melt material is used as structural hole lining material. However, this patent, like others that disclose machines for drilling tunnels by melting the earth, is a solid front machine which creates an amount of melt equal to the tunnel cross sec- 30 tion. 3-* tion of such large tunnels requires large heat flow rates and creates excessive costs of the heat generating and supply system. The most economical method is for the machine to thermally melt just enough material to detach the core, and to provide adequate tunnel lining The machine of the present invention is particularly adapted to excavate large tunnels, that is, having a cross-sectional measurement in the range of 2 to 12 metres and larger. The melting of the entire cross sec- 40 material. The core materials can be mechanically fractured for disposal. However, in hard rock the disintegration of the core material is best done by heated thermal stress fracturing penetrators.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Bakken Formation

Some of my elders and betters here locally are retired middle managers from the old school oil patch. That means 30+ year long careers with major, formerly U.S. owned oil companies. I've had the pleasure of extended conversation with these folks in the course of road trips. One of the things they've always argued with me about is of course, peak oil. According to my associates, the U.S. sits atop a veritable ocean of untapped oil and has for decades pursued a national security policy of ruthlessly and intentionally exploiting all possible foreign sources of oil before turning its attention to the resources buried here in the "homeland".

Thanks at least in part to these old heads, coupled with obscure information held over from the halcyon days of the Carter administration, during which a major initiative to jump start shale oil extraction came to a mysterious close, I've been aware of Bakken for some time. I mentioned it in passing a couple of weeks ago for the record, but didn't pursue it any further. This morning, I see it's gone mainstream.
Deep under the northern Badlands, trapped tightly in dense layers of shale, there is oil.

Perhaps hundreds of billions of barrels of it.

A long-anticipated federal report to be released today will examine just how much might be squeezed out of a vast blanket of rock called the Bakken Formation.

Geologists have known about “the Bakken” for more than half a century. So the question isn’t whether high-quality crude really exists in a region not commonly associated with drilling rigs: North Dakota, eastern Montana and the southern parts of two Canadian provinces.

The question is, how tough is it to get at this oil?
Objectively speaking, that's not really the question at all. The state of the art of contemporary mining and tunnelling technologies would be the stuff of science fiction for decades if you actually knew what is possible. The question, as I see it, is whether or not TPTB elect to permit the current situation to continue to devolve on its unsustainable trajectory, or, whether they plan a major and fundamental reengineering of society down to Orthogenic levels. Of course, you know that such reengineering can only occur in the wake of tremendous social upheaval and trauma. Collective conscious shocks are the necessary and inevitable precursor to massive, collective lifestyle changes. Remember what old Ronald "Wilson" Reagan said about it?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Seven Fat Cows, Seven Thin Cows

Seven fat cows, seven thin cows: hoarding and storing the seeds of deliverance, easily the best and most comprehensive treatment I've seen of the subject thus far;
Now the difference between hoarding and stockpiling is this - once you are already in a crisis AND there is a meaningful and rational system for ensuring people have access to food, building up stores can disrupt the existing system and its fairness. This is hoarding, and it is problematic. That is, if there’s just enough rice to around, *and it is going around in a fairly just way* those who are wealthy enough to build up private stocks can disrupt the system, and shouldn’t. That, however is not the case now. First of all, there’s more than enough food to go around, and second of all, justice has not been the major concern.

How do we know this? Well, in 2007, the world produced enough calories to feed everyone in the world half again more calories in grain than they need. With 6.6 billion people, we could feed 1/3 more people, raising the world’s population up to 10 million on present agricultural yields of grain alone - this excludes all vegetables, fruits, grass fed meats and forageable plants. That is, right now we are not experiencing shortages of food in any absolute sense.

This, I think is a deeply important point. When I observe things like this, people usually not that there is no such thing as perfectly fair food distribution, and that is, of course true. It is also true that we are so far away from even a remotely just system of distribution that if we could even approximate a level of concern for the world’s populace that exeeded our concern for our cars, I’d be happy. The reality is that rich people eat three times - they eat some grain. Then they eat meat, fed on enough grain to feed an ordinary person many times over, and then they feed their cars, their pets, the birds and occasionally burn some grain and legumes in their stoves. We entirely lack a system that simply says “humans get the first products of agricultural labor” - that is, that people outrank the cars, dogs, and desire for steak of the average rich world denizen.
The predicament is strictly manmade, arising at the level of our cultural habits and choices. The hegemons who enriched Bill and Hillary Clinton to the tune of $110 Million over the last decade have constructed and proliferated a morally blind global monoculture.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Consciousness and the Cambrian Explosion?

Thomas 18; The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?"

Jesus said, "Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is.

"Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death."

Craig Venter speculates;
We may be about to create a new version of the Cambrian explosion, where there is massive new speciation (the formation of new and distinct species) based on this digital design.
Stuart Hameroff wonders;
When and where did consciousness emerge in the course of evolution? Did it happen as recently as the past million years, for example concomitant with language or tool making in humans or primates? Or did consciousness arrive somewhat earlier, with the advent of mammalian neocortex 200 million years ago (Eccles, 1992)? At the other extreme, is primitive consciousness a property of even simple unicellular organisms of several billion years ago (e.g. as suggested by Margulis and Sagan, 1995)? Or did consciousness appear at some intermediate point, and if so, where and why? Whenever it first occurred, did consciousness alter the course of evolution?
Gaia-mother, Anthropos-father - necessity driving our desperate gambit to pass through an evolutionary narrow gate - should that potentiality come to pass....,

The Race

Craig Venter on the great race;
"We've been digitizing biology, and now we're trying to go from that code to designing biology. We've tried various approaches, paring it down to basic components, digitizing it, now we're trying to ask: can we regenerate life or create new life out of this digital universe? The pace of digitizing life has been increasing exponentially. Our ability to write genetic code has been growing more slowly. Turns out synthesizing DNA is difficult. In a biological system the software builds its own hardware, but design is critical, and if you start with digital information, it has to be really accurate. How do we boot-up a synthetic chromosome? We can do a transplant of a chromosome from one cell to another and activate it. We may be about to create a new version of the Cambrian explosion, where there is massive new speciation (the formation of new and distinct species) based on this digital design. We have now a database with about 20 million genes, and we like to think of them as the design component of the life of the future. We now have techniques to do combinatorial genomics, to build a robot that can make a million chromosomes a day.

We're now focusing on fourth-generation designer fuels. Curent biofuels aren't the solution. The only way that biology can have an impact on fuel without increasing the price of food, it's to start with CO2 as the feed stock -- create new energy out of CO2, and we think we will have something within the next 18 months. Future uses of this technology: increase the basic understanding of life; replace the petro-chemical industry; become a major source of energy; enhance bioremediation. We're changing the evolutionary tree with new bacteria and species."
I suspect that this memetically recursive path is the ONLY viable path out of the evolutionary bottleneck. Because of the choices made on large institutional and cultural scales, I begin to doubt whether or not this path will be explored hard enough and fast enough to make the difference that it could make. This is where the world should invest its space race fervor.

Choices?

Susan Blackmore at TED;
"Cultural evolution is a dangerous child for every species to let loose on this planet. By the time you realize what's happening, it's too late to put it back into the box. We humans are the Earth's Pandoran species. Mimetics is founded on the principles of unversal Darwinism. His idea was so simple, and yet it explains all design in the universe. What Darwin said was something like this: if you have creatures that vary, and if there is a struggle for life such that nearly all of these species die, and if the very few that survive pass on to their offsprings whatever helped them survive, than these offsprings must be better adapted to these circumstances than their parents were. You just need those three principles: variation, selection and heredity. If you have those, you MUST get evolution, or "design out of chaos without the aid of mind". What's this to do with memes? Darwin didn't know about genes, but the principle of universal Darwinism is that everything that's copied with variation and selection will evolve. Information that's copied from person to person is information copied with variation and selection. That's a meme. A meme is not an idea, is "that which is imitated", information which is copied from person to person. If you copied an information from someone else, it's a meme. But why do they spread? They are copied if they can. Some because they're true, useful, beautiful. Some even if they're not. Here is a curious meme: you go to your hotel, check into your room, go to the bathroom, and what do you see? A folded end of the toilet paper. It's a meme that spread all over the world. What is that about? it's supposed to tell you that somebody cleaned the place. Think of it this way: imagine a world full of brains and memes using them (you and me) to propagate. Why is this important? it gives us a completely new wiew of what it means to be human. All these things that make us unique -- language etc -- are based on genes. But there are two replicators now on this planet: from the moment our ancestors began imitating, there was a new replicator, the meme, alongside the gene. And you get an arms race between the genes (which want a smaller, efficient brain) and the memes (which want a bigger brain). All other species on this planet are gene machines, we only are meme machines. We need a new word for technological memes, let's call them temes, because the processes are different. Our brains are becoming like temes, faster, etc. We are at this cusp now to have a third replicator in our planet. But it's dangerous: temes are selfish replicators, they use us to suck up more resources to produce more computers and more things. Don't think we created the Internet, that's how it seems to us. How to pull through? Two ways: one is that the temes turn us into teme-machines, with implants, merging of humans and machines, because we are self-replicators. The other: teme-machines will replicate by themselves. In that case, it would not matter if the planet would no longer be liveable for humans."
Interesting and paradoxical line of imitating (not thinking) considering the cultural evolutionary bottleneck in which we presently find ourselves.....,

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Duck and Cover: It's the New Survivalism

Moral blindness and the governance system of dopamine hegemony will prove more devastating than a thousand atom bombs.
The traditional face of survivalism is that of a shaggy loner in camouflage, holed up in a cabin in the wilderness and surrounded by cases of canned goods and ammunition.

It is not that of Barton M. Biggs, the former chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley. Yet in Mr. Biggs’s new book, “Wealth, War and Wisdom,” he says people should “assume the possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure.”

“Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food,” Mr. Biggs writes. “It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson. Even in America and Europe there could be moments of riot and rebellion when law and order temporarily completely breaks down.”

Survivalism, it seems, is not just for survivalists anymore. Faced with a confluence of diverse threats — a tanking economy, a housing crisis, looming environmental disasters, and a sharp spike in oil prices — people who do not consider themselves extremists are starting to discuss doomsday measures once associated with the social fringes.
Duck and Cover: It's the New Survivalism in today's NYTimes..,

Moral Blindness

I came across a very interesting paper this weekend. It's called Egalitarianism and the Ego Explosion. I highly recommend it.
The most important point, however, is that the beginnings of social inequality were concurrent with the development of this stronger sense of ego. The same groups who developed the first class systems and hierarchical societies were the same groups who were affected by the Saharasian environmental catastrophe. And since, in addition, the native peoples who are apparently not as individuated as us are also egalitarian, there is a very strong case for suggesting that the ‘sharpened’ sense of ego is the root cause of social inequality.

On the surface all of this might seem to offer as pessimistic a view of human nature as sociobiological or evolutionary psychological approaches. Selfishness and social inequality are clearly not ‘in our genes’ or our brains; but they are still inevitable, it might be argued, since they are in our psyche, and have existed since the ‘Ego Explosion’ took place around 6,000 years ago. In this sense, one might say, Marxism is as misguided as evolutionary psychology. A perfectly egalitarian human society with no private property or status differences is not feasible, since the drive for personal wealth and power is as natural to ‘Saharasian’ individuals as the drive for sex or food. These drives were not created by the ‘capitalist’ social system; they were generated by an intensification of ego-consciousness, and then themselves gave rise to capitalism.
Prior to passing along the recommendation, however, I wanted to nail down Heinz Werner's Orthogenic Principle - so that I could better understand the depth of our predicament and the abject terror of the situation.

Today's Homily










Saturday, April 05, 2008

Why EROEI Matters (Part 1 of 5)

This is the first of a five part series of guest posts at The Oil Drum by Professor Charles Hall of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and his students and collaborative researchers. Professor Hall has endeavored to update and improve the state of net energy analysis as he believes (as do I), that future energy policy decisions should at least be guided, if not directly steered using biophysical principles. The opinions on the importance of net energy analysis as a tool for addressing our looming energy crisis are quite disparate, but without some science grounded in physical principles, we are left to rely on the market. The unfolding international credit crisis highlights the dangers of relying on strictly fiat monetary measures for biophysical planning – credit and debt can be created with no underlying physical foundation.

There is an implicit assumption, probably believed by most market analysts, that if they (collectively) make good financial decisions, based on market information, market projections and good hunches, then we collectively (i.e. society) will make the best investments possible. Although there are certainly good rationales that such analyses make considerable sense, in many cases it is not so clear to me that they are an effective guide to the future of energy supplies. This is because 1) few understand the degree to which most technologies today are principally a means of subsidizing whatever it is we do with still-cheap petroleum 2) today’s price signals are unlikely to be especially influenced by future conditions when today’s most abundant and cheapest fuels are likely to be much less available, for either geological (depletion) or political reasons 3) current prices of energy in the U.S. are greatly influenced by various subsidies 4) there is painfully little transfer of information from the (rather limited) scientific community that has examined the large picture of energy to the financial communities. We propose to improve the information flow on these issues from the scientific community to the general financial community as well as to the policy world more generally.

How Much Longer Will Saudi Arabia Support the US$?

Cheney’s visit to the Persian Gulf monarchs also included a personal plea to avoid pulling the plug on the US dollar’s artificial life support. If the Arab oil kingdoms decide to ditch their dollar pegs to control inflation and diversify their overseas assets to earn higher returns in other currencies or in gold and commodities, the net result could be the loss of the US dollar’s reserve currency status.

The vice president’s itinerary for his nine-day tour, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey, was also designed for saber rattling with Tehran. Cheney’s hawkish threats over Iran’s nuclear weapons program keeps the Arab oil kingdoms wedded to the dollar, since the US military is the guarantor of the Arabian Gulf’s security. But the cost of sticking with the archaic dollar peg is intolerably high, and threatening social unrest in the kingdoms.

Friday, April 04, 2008

"Moral Blindness" - Does that Mean Not-See?

Before he got into politics John Conyers served in the Michigan National Guard 1948--50; US Army 1950--54; and the US Army Reserves 1954--57. Conyers spending a year in Korea as an officer in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and was awarded combat and merit citations.

As a congressman Conyers authored the Martin Luther King Day Holiday Act.

He was down in Memphis at the tribute today and had some words for John McCain who voted against Conyer's bill in 1983 to make MLK day a National holiday.

Conyers: When John McCain was my colleague in the House and I introduced the Holiday bill, he voted against it in 1983...Now I believe in forgiveness, but it's incredible that all he can do is show up on April 4th and think that everything is OK. We're not just African Americans, but we're most people.

Host: Rep. Conyers I think in all fairness we should say , perhaps you did not hear it but certainly John McCain did offer an apology for that first vote in 1983 when you did put forward that bill.

You had not heard that? He did make that apology sir so that he regretted voting that way back then.

Conyers: Yea, well look. I'm happy. That was in 1983, he didn't make any apology, he didn't make any apologies in 1987, so I guess I'm thrilled and forgiving that finally when he's running for President he remembers to apologize. No, that's great.

Host: Well, he has done so today and perhaps you'll take that as some sort of appeasement, but anyway...

This is a new one in my book. quoth McCain; "Moral blindness is not the same as moral badness"

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

The Hidden Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr

According to FBI memos, the Bureau aimed to paint King as “a fraud, demagogue, and scoundrel” in order to “take him off his pedestal.” FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover-who publicly dubbed King “the most notorious liar in the country”-wrote that he wanted “to neutralize or completely discredit the effectiveness of Martin Luther King Jr.” The FBI carried all this out under a covert Counter Intelligence Program known as COINTELPRO. Within this program, Dr. King was slotted under the “Black Nationalist Hate Groups” rubric, despite the fact that he preached love, not hate and that he relied on moral force, not physical force. The Hidden Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr

Policing Thought

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 is a bill sponsored by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) in the 110th United States Congress. Its stated purpose is to deal with "homegrown terrorism and violent radicalization" by establishing a national commission, establishing a center for study, and cooperating with other nations.

The bill was introduced to the House on April 19 2007, and passed on Oct 23, 2007. It was introduced to the Senate on August 2, 2007 as S-1959. The bill defines some terms including "violent radicalization," "homegrown terrorism," and "ideologically based violence," which have provoked controversy from some quarters. Although Section 899F of HR 1955 specifically prohibits "the violation of Civil Rights and Liberties in the enforcement of the bill," critics claim its enactment would pave the way for violations of Civil Rights and Liberties.

Former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has said he believes the bill is "unconstitutional" and has referred to the bill as a "thought crime bill".

Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), addressed the bill in he House on Dec. 5, 2007 saying: "This seems to be an unwise and dangerous solution in search of a real problem. Previous acts of ideologically motivated violence, though rare, have been resolved successfully using law enforcement techniques, existing laws against violence, and our court system," despite the fact that this bill does not "solve" anything and enacts no new laws of or pertaining to speech in the United States.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

BT and Phorm

BT has admitted that it secretly monitored customers' internet surfing activities in trials of new software in 2006 and 2007.

Channel 4 News at Noon first reported this story a month ago after being contacted by a concerned consumer. The data protection watchdog is investigating this possible breach of the law which could have affected thousands of BT customers. Our Money Reporter, Bridgid Nzekwu reports

Stephen Mainwaring from Weston Super Mare is one very angry BT customer. Last year, after noticing strange goings-on on his computer he contacted his internet service provider BT, who told him he had a virus. But in fact it was nothing of the kind. He'd been part of a secret BT trial to track customers surfing behaviour.

"I ran a lot of virus scans, updates and things. I even bought new PC, but as soon as I plugged it in started coming up with problem. BT kept insisting it was a virus, and it's not. It turns out they were doing secret tests." - Stephen Mainwaring, BT customer

The technology used was developed by a company called Phorm. Their software uses anonymous data gleaned from surfing activity and matches relevant adverts to people's interests.

Phorm claims it's a major benefit both to consumers and advertisers. But BT is now accused of spying and has admitted it didn't tell its customers what it was doing.

"It was individuals who suspected that this was happening to them, who then confronted BT and BT prevaricated for a very long time. It is only now at the beginning of 2008 that BT has admitted that's what were doing."Frankly that was disgraceful by BT to have done it, it would be huge diminution of our rights as individuals if this whole system is allowed to go ahead without us all being given the opportunity to opt in or out" - Don Foster

Cannibalism 2040

TED TURNER: Not doing it will be catastrophic. We'll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state — like Somalia or Sudan — and living conditions will be intolerable. The droughts will be so bad there'll be no more corn grown. Not doing it is suicide. Just like dropping bombs on each other, nuclear weapons is suicide. We've got to stop doing the suicidal two things, which are hanging on to our nuclear weapons and after that we've got to stabilize the population. When I was born-

CHARLIE ROSE: So what's wrong with the population?

TURNER: We're too many people. That's why we have global warming. We have global warming because too many people are using too much stuff. If there were less people, they'd be using less stuff.

Uh Oh...,

Just watched this segment on the O'Reilly program. Of course this youtube snippet doesn't have the full interview in which Father Pfleger brought it in much greater detail, asking if O'Reilly had been a marine and what specifically his qualifications to opine on the matter are? I recommend looking out for additional controversy to accrue to the fiery Michael Pfleger who has shown the courage of his convictions in standing up for his friends Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright.

The faux news attack dogs accuse him of preaching "the politics of racial resentment". Agitating for the cardinal to "sanction" this fiery priest.

Oh Lawd........,

Reality Correction

That crunching sound you hear as you lie awake in the middle of the night worrying IS the sound of an ongoing reality correction, or maybe something else;

Shards of broken glass outside the basement window of 31 Vine Street hint at the destruction inside the three-story home.

Thieves smashed the window to break in and then gutted the property for its copper pipes -- a crime that has spread across the United States as the economy slows and foreclosed homes stand empty and vulnerable."They cut it here and then pulled it right out of the wall," real estate broker Marc Charney said, pointing to broken plaster near a wrecked baseboard heating system in the 2,774-sq-ft home in Brockton, Massachusetts, a working-class city of 94,304 people.

Similar stories are unfolding nationwide as a glut of home foreclosures coincides with record highs in the price of copper and other metals.

Real estate brokers and local authorities say once-proud homes coast-to-coast are being stripped for copper, aluminum, and brass by thieves. Much of it ends up with scrap metal traders who say nearly all copper gets shipped overseas, much of it to China and India.

In areas hit hardest by foreclosures, such as the Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, copper and other metals used in plumbing, heating systems and telephone lines are now more valuable than some homes.
Don't believe it? Check out coinflation [ koin-fley-shuhn ]
noun.
1. A persistent rise in the metal value of silver and base metal coins. 2. An inflationary effect on coins. 3. The difference between the metal value and face value in coins. where you can track its progressive progress on a daily basis.

Soylent Green

Set in the year 2022, Soylent Green depicts a dystopian future in which the population has grown to forty million in New York City alone. The water and soil have been poisoned and airborne pollution has produced a year-round heatwave from the greenhouse effect. Most housing is dilapidated and overcrowded, and impoverished homeless people fill the streets.








Food as we know it today–including fruit, vegetables, and meat–is a rare and expensive commodity. Half of the world's population survives on processed rations produced by the massive Soylent Corporation (from soy(bean) + lent(il)), including Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow, which are advertised as "high-energy vegetable concentrates". The newest product is Soylent Green - a small green wafer which is advertised as being produced from "high-energy plankton". It is much more nutritious and palatable than the red and yellow varieties, but it is in short supply, which often leads to riots.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Visual Hemispheric Dominance?


The enclosed is presented as an exercise for observing and reducing visual hemispheric dominance.

Lou Dobbs, you listening?





The spinning girl was an optical illusion illustrating something entirely different about the human visual system than what the newspaper article which popularized it advertised. The spinning girl is a form of the more general spinning silhouette illusion.
The image is not objectively “spinning” in one direction or the other. It is a two-dimensional image that is simply shifting back and forth. But our brains did not evolve to interpret two-dimensional representations of the world but the actual three-dimensional world. So our visual processing assumes we are looking at a 3-D image and is uses clues to interpret it as such. Or, without adequate clues it may just arbitrarily decide a best fit - spinning clockwise or counterclockwise. And once this fit is chosen, the illusion is complete - we see a 3-D spinning image.

By looking around the image, focusing on the shadow or some other part, you may force your visual system to reconstruct the image and it may choose the opposite direction, and suddenly the image will spin in the opposite direction.
Keep all these things in mind as we view and study the unfolding political and economic spectacle.

Lou Dobb's Subreal Moment....,

A priceless moment of American comedy gold.

On the Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer asked to pick Lou Dobbs brain on Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's description of racism in America as a "birth defect"

Dobbs passionately strode out into the tall cotton, but in the split second, somehow managed to catch himself.

Talk about a hemispheric tightrope walk, I would almost pay money to see an fMRI of Dobb's brain at the moment he stopped himself from cursing politicians giving voice to the issue of race as "cotton-picking".