I'm still alive. Working very hard - something had to give, so it was the website. The 3 year movie production approaches the final act; now, to the unfamiliar waters of final audio, foley, after-effect compositing and music (shudder). Hopefully it'll all come together and not be total shite. I'll try to post a couple of updates a month, but no promises. Don't delete your bookmarks just yet...something interesting is on the way. With any luck, it'll be done by June/July.
Chris Morris, famed mastermind of "Brasseye" (one of the most brilliant satires of recent years) is at it again - stirring the pot with a comedy about dimwitted Islamic terrorist wannabes: Four Lions.
What interests Morris so much about these characters? A clue is to be found in his parodies of popular television, such as Brass Eye. He is mistakenly seen as an obsessive interpreter of popular culture, au fait equally with its clichés as well as its casual, unthinking brutality. In reality, Morris is a puritan, exercised by the omnipresence of stupidity. Those who use the word "cynic" in the laziest way, as a term of approbation, tend to attach it to him. But there is nothing at all cynical about his work, which brims with restrained righteousness. Think of his most famous sketch, about the fictional drug Cake, or the programme devoted to paedophiles.
Morris doesn't care much that celebrities, or indeed dim MPs, lend their names to stupid campaigns. He thinks that we should want to know the truth about such things. Plainly, we don't. Instead, we sentimentalise social problems. We're happiest with feeble gestures of pseudo-solidarity that require no effort and cost nothing.
That sums up my attitude to most of the so-called political protests/activisim that people engage in today. Here's a list of meaningless actions that waste so much of our time:
* T-shirts with slogans.
* Car bumper stickers.
* Online petitions.
* Email your congressman/MP/TD, etc.
* "Text us with your views! Have your say!" to your favourite TV show.
* Marches with papier mache effigies.
* Adding taglines to your Facebook/Twitter page.
* Wailing on internet forums/comment pages on newspaper articles.
* BLOG POSTS. Ahem.
All ineffectual - a near total waste of time. You invest almost no energy - therefore your results will be proportional. Allowing for entropy, you'll actually get back a little LESS energy than you invested. Don't be upset when your ritual email of outrage to your politician produces a ritual form letter. You pretend to be outraged (OUTRAGED, BY GOD!), and they pretend to give a shit. As in the old Soviet Union - "We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us".
It's an exquisite system - but don't kid yourself that you're "making a difference". Real systemic change (as opposed to the illusion of change promised by Obama) will require real effort and real sacrifice. It's unlikely that our cartoon culture is going to volunteer for such an effort.
How many of the people griping about the bank bailouts have taken the next logical step and removed their money from the banks? Some have, for sure, but I imagine it's a very small minority.
Of course, if enough people did it (as I did, back in 06/7), the entire economic system would collapse. Of course, this doesn't happen. It's much easier to bitch and moan - and do nothing.
1. Buy a lot less stuff...What makes a huge difference is reducing consumer spending radically - that is, cutting back on everything from lumber to underpants. When you do buy things, but them used...Not buying stuff is one of the most powerful tools we've got.
2. Structure your life so that it is easier to be green than not...disconnect the appliances you don't want to use, and put them up on a high shelf, so that it is easier to use the manuals (or you could sell them). Don't have a car, or don't have second car, so that if you want to go to the library you have to walk, bike or take the bus.
3. Take a Sabbath or a no-use day and enforce it. Try and establish at least one day a week in which you don't drive, don't turn on the computer and don't shop.,,
4 Pick the low hanging fruit. You probably have some really obvious ways that you are wasting energy. For example, not putting your tv and vcr on a powerstrip allows them to continue drawing power when you aren't using them. Eliminating this "phantom load" is a pretty easy step...
5. Do things that are just as easy with human power, with human power. Got a little postage stamp of a lawn? Well, get a push mower. By the time you change your oil and get the thing out of the garage, you will have used more of your own energy than simply running a good push mower (if you've never used a new, light one, don't assume it will be too hard) over that bit of lawn. Want to start baking your own bread, but assuming you need a bread machine? Get a book that shows no-knead recipes that rise overnight - you can have better bread for breakfast with less effort...
6. Eat appropriately to your place and season. What grows well there? What's in season? What's local? What's in your backyard? No one should eat as much meat as the typical American does, and often recommendations on diet focus on not eating meat or as much...
7. If it is the end that matters - change your means. Consider household heating for example - most of us want to be warm enough to be comfortable at home. There are lots of ways to accomplish this, however, including wearing more clothes, putting on a hat, heating a rice bag or hot water bottle and placing it strategically, using space heaters or radiant heaters, adapting to cooler temperatures early in the season, heating the whole house, etc...
8. Go at the big hogs. The things that are probably your biggest energy costs are heating, cooling, refrigeration, transport and your meat consumption. So when you try and figure out how to make an impact, start there. Find that carpool. Try the bus. Make more vegetarian meals. Replace your fridge with a smaller model. Put jugs of water in fridge and freezer since it runs more efficiently full. Reinsulate. Run the a/c only when it is above 82 in the house.
9. Cut things in half. Nobody enjoys giving things up, so consider halving them instead. Use half as much detergent, shampoo, conditioner - those measures on the bottles are meant to sell things. Spend half as much on movies and treats. Wash towels and sheets half as often. Try and walk or bike half the time. Try and waste only half the food you have been. Remember, things don't have to be 100% - and often, the impact of doing something half the time includes you recognizing that we could do it even less.
10. We do like things to be easy, but not everything we like is easy. For all that it is important that people not feel befuddled and overwhelmed by the idea of reducing energy usage, it is possible to get people involved by the creative, fun and engaging elements of doing this. That is, even if it never is as simple as rolling off a log, people are engaged by complex things when they derive a sense of artfulness, accomplishment and pleasure from them. That is, you can get people to try and navigate a local diet, even if that's more complex than "don't eat X" if you can convince them that really local diets taste better and offer opportunities for creative expression. It may not be easy to figure out how to make your own, mend your own or do without things - but if people get to be pleased and proud that they learned something new or accomplished something difficult, they may do it anyway. Making the hard stuff interesting goes a long way to making people forget that it can be hard.
I don't think Sharon goes nearly far enough - but then again, not everyone is a puritanical phanatique.
If we got another year without a summer, what do you think would happen to the world? Could we survive such an event? Given the low level of global grain reserves, and the exisiting effort to feed the world even with relatively benign conditions, it would most likely be bad news:
The Year Without a Summer (also known as the Poverty Year, Year There Was No Summer and Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death) was 1816, in which severe summer climate abnormalities destroyed crops in Northern Europe, the Northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Historian John D. Post has called this "the last great subsistence crisis in the Western world".
Most consider the climate anomaly to have been caused by a combination of a historic low in solar activity and a volcanic winter event; the latter caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped off by the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815, the largest known eruption in over 1,600 years.
There's a lot of chatter about food shortages in 2010. Unlikely that the West will see actual shortages - that sewage usually flows downhill to the developing nations - but certainly high priced food would be on the cards. It might be wise to buy a few crates of baked beans.
A severe food shortage is on its way, according to well-regarded investor Jim Rogers. Food inventories are the lowest in decades and "[m]any farmers cannot get loans to buy fertilizer now, even though we have big shortages developing," Rogers said on CNBC...
For the rest of us, a food shortage could mean skyrocketing food prices. "Sometime in the next few years, we're going to have very serious shortages of food everywhere in the world and prices are going to go through the roof," he said.
One quarter of US grain crops fed to cars. Astonishing that so many people think that biofuels are a "green" energy source - which illustrates the pandemic of cluelessness nicely:
One-quarter of all the maize and other grain crops grown in the US now ends up as biofuel in cars rather than being used to feed people, according to new analysis which suggests that the biofuel revolution launched by former President George Bush in 2007 is impacting on world food supplies.
The 2009 figures from the US Department of Agriculture shows ethanol production rising to record levels driven by farm subsidies and laws which require vehicles to use increasing amounts of biofuels.
"The grain grown to produce fuel in the US [in 2009] was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels," said Lester Brown, the director of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington thinktank ithat conducted the analysis.
George Bush: the gift that keeps on giving...
I remember reading back in the 1990s that the most commonly used "passwords" in London's financial district were "F***"; "S***" and "Sex". Makes sense, given the personality types who do that kind of work - the Limbic system in its full simian glory. Today, little better: The top 10 internet passwords to avoid.
Does this mean we should give up even trying to work at the national and global levels? Each person will have to make up her or his own mind on that one. To my thinking, Copenhagen is something of a last straw. I have no interest in trying to discourage anyone from undertaking national or global activism. Indeed, there is a danger in taking attention away from national and international affairs: policy could get hijacked not just by parties even less competent than those currently in command, but by ones that are just plain evil. Nevertheless, this writer is finally convinced that, with whatever energies for positive change may be available to us, we are likely to accomplish the most by working locally and on a small scale, while sharing information about successes and failures as widely as possible.
Ha! A study finds that your reusable shopping bags are crawling with germs. Screw you, you filthy, dirty Hippy... spreading your filthy, file bacteria onto little babies, killing all life on Earth, you disgusting eco-nazi, Hitler loving - - - what? The study was funded by the plastic industry?. Never mind; as you were, tree-huggers. Mordor never sleeps.
Copenhagen, Shmocenhagen. What did you expect? The cabal of global psychopath alpha males to act with empathy?
Still alive; still working on The Film. 6 scenes remain, and tweaks on about 50. The tweaks won't take long, so all should be done before the New Year (barring any last minute additions). I'll be working through Xmas. Then, post production and audio - still looking at a March release.
I loved the mid 90s computer game "Duke Nukem 3D". I even went so far as to build a model of the Glendale animation studio that I worked in, right down to the 7-11 across the street. After work, my co-workers and I would run around the virtual studio, shooting the shit out of one another. God, that was more fun than you can imagine. It was the sort of thing that might get you arrested today - but for the fact that the owners of the studio played it with us. Cool cats - and sane, as opposed to the neurotic chickenshits that seem to dominate society today. It's a freaky experience, spending 3 hours in a 3D replica of your physical environment, to then leave the sim and emerge into the reality that you've just copied. It took me about 10 minutes to "depressurise" after one of the long sessions. It's easy to see how sims can fool the human brain - and makes me wonder about the power of truly sophisticated ones.
Though I avoid computer games now (a recovering addict) - I was intrigued by the astonishing tale of the sequel, "Duke Nukem Forever". The programmers had too much money and power - a luxury which allowed them to violate every rule in the book. Begun shortly after the astonishing success of "Duke Nukem 3D", DNF has become the most spectacular example of "Vapourware" - a game that will never see the light of day, even after ~14 years of work. I can't help but think of these guys as a microcosm for the human species, should we ever have the misfortune to discover a limitless source of energy - the end consequence would be self indulgent insanity of the kind described in this article.
History is littered with similar examples: Charles Babbage, who could have created a computer from brass in the mid 19th century (and change the course of history out of all recognition) - but instead of settling on one design that worked, built samples of hypothetical prototypes of machines that would never exist. Richard Williams (animator of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit") who spent 29 years working on his magnum opus "The Thief and the Cobbler", finally going into debt to finish it, but trapped in a deranged cycle of reanimating finished scenes - finally having the movie taken away by the completion bond company (Disney), at which point it was mutilated beyond recognition.
Which transitions nicely into this 70 minute video review of "The Phantom Menace" - George Lucas being yet another example of what happens when one man gets too much wealth and power for his own good:
I've watched all 70 minutes of this - twice - it's a very funny, well written dissection of everything that's wrong (and right) with the old Star Wars films, vs. the new ones. If you have the time, check out the guy's reviews of the TNG Star Trek films - just as perceptive.
In one of those synchronicities so beloved by Robert Anton Wilson - after posting the above, I read the following about "Hagbard's Law", which goes some way to explaining the awful fate of Duke Nukem Forever, Richard Williams, and Charles Babbage: "Hagbard's Law":
Coined by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson in their tremendous satire Illuminatus!, Hagbard’s Law states that information can only be communicated between equals, since in a hierarchy, those in inferior positions face very strong incentives to tell their superiors what the superiors want to hear rather than ‘fessing up to the truth. The more levels of hierarchy between the people who gather information and the ones who make decisions, the more communication tends to be blocked by Hagbard’s Law; in today’s governments and corporations, the disconnect between the reality visible on the ground and the numbers viewed from the top of the pyramid is as often as not total.
Now, it's sad, though not really tragic if a computer game, or a mechanical computer, or a cartoon fall into the historical shithole. However, Hagbard's law is now working on a global scale like never before - and goes a long way to explaining the consensus trance that our glorious "leaders" inhabit.
A leading rabbi accused Pope Benedict XVI of "insensitivity" towards Jews yesterday after the head of the Catholic Church moved his controversial World War II-era predecessor Pope Pius XII a step closer to sainthood.
Pius XII, who served from 1939 to 1958, is regarded by conservative Catholics as one of the greatest of modern popes. But his papacy was also controversial because of his failure to make any protest as millions of Jews were taken to Nazi gas chambers. His supporters claim that silence was necessary for the protection of Catholics around Europe. But the Vatican has infuriated critics by failing to open secret archives relating to his papacy before moving him closer to canonisation.
HA! LED street lights fail to melt snow. A nice parable on the false economies inherent in some forms of "conservation". There are many - this is just one that's particularly funny. Now, to install HEATERS to melt the snow on the street lights. How much ENERGY, perchance, will they consume?
Some lego links:
TO think that I was scared that my Peak Oil film (begun in 2005) would arrive too late to educate people. No worries! Kunstler:
I sat in a bar Friday evening with a financial reporter from a national newspaper, trying to explain the peak oil situation and what it implied for our economy. He had never heard it before. The relationship between energy resources and massive debt was new to him. (It also came up in conversation that he could not tell me what the Monroe Doctrine was about, despite a history degree from Yale.) There you have a nice snapshot of the mainstream media in this land.
On December 6th the New York Times published an outrageous op-ed piece by corporate cheerleader Jared Diamond, who states, “I’ve discovered that while some businesses are indeed as destructive as many suspect, others are among the world’s strongest positive forces for environmental sustainability.” The examples he provides? Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Chevron.
His title asks, “Will Big Business Save the Earth?” That’s not a difficult question to answer: No. No, big business will not save the Earth. Instead of being honest, though, Diamond, answers the question in the affirmative and subjects us to a poorly-argued, mind-warping, illogical and denial-drenched apology for some of the most destructive corporations that curse our planet with their existence.
WTF is Jared doing, acting a corporate pimp? Hmm..........
Mainstream liberal environmentalist groups lack credibility among real environmentalists for many reasons, one of which is the presence of corporate executives on their boards, and another of which is the huge amounts of money that they accept from corporations. The World Wildlife Fund, for example, landed a $3 million contract with Chevron in the early 1990s to implement an “Integrated Conservation and Development Project” in Papua New Guinea, where Chevron’s oil drilling was vehemently resisted by the affected indigenous people. (See “Shilling for Chevron: Jared Diamond Greenwasher”).
Diamond happens to serve on the WWF board. I'm sure it's purely by coincidence that he praises Chevron’s efforts to improve the environment in his book “Collapse,” and again in this NYT op-ed piece. I can imaging him hanging out with his fellow board members, business execs who complain of being misunderstood while sending him meaningful glances brimming with unspoken promises of millions of dollars in donations. I can imagine him deciding, “Hey, these guys aren’t so bad! I’m going to convince the American people to give them some love, damn it!”
How to put this diplomatically? FUCK YOU JARED. I HOPE YOU GET CANCER FOR CHRISTMAS.
For the 10 people who still read this site: I've been having a great time (the best in 21 years in animation) working on the film. If I haven't replied to emails, that's why - I have an old habit of going into a trance when a project takes over - which is the case now. I began working on this project in 2004/5, though began in earnest only in 2007. As you can imagine, it's essential to get this thing finished before my eyesight fails.
I've incorporated many revisions (by external experts), and have secured the services of an A-list Hollywood composer/conductor. I kid you not. It's been a great stroke of luck. There's a chance that we might be able to record the score with live musicians in LA in February next year. If not, I'll settle for a synth - live musicians would be gravy. Anyhow, that accounts for the sporadic updates - which will continue to be the case until I finish the animation. The final run-time will be 30 minutes...and it's looking fantastic already.
Aging is shrinking: cells wink out and you’re literally a smaller person than you were. You’re a walking brownout. Dead muscle, never to be replaced, is squeezed through your increasingly inefficient anus. In a typical Darwinian joke, the dead cells are processed into hard, unfriendly turds which sandpaper the anus until you grow a little grape-cluster of hemorrhoids. Nature is efficient, and never smacks you once when it can whack you twice.
s the bounty of coastal waters dropped, fisheries moved further offshore, to deeper waters. And, finally, as the larger fish began to disappear, boats began to catch fish that were smaller and uglier--fish never before considered fit for human consumption. Many were renamed so that they could be marketed: The suspicious slimehead became the delicious orange roughy, while the worrisome Patagonian toothfish became the wholesome Chilean seabass. Others, like the homely hoki, were cut up so they could be sold sight-unseen as fish sticks and filets in fast-food restaurants and the frozen-food aisle.
The scheme was carried out by nothing less than a fishing-industrial complex--an alliance of corporate fishing fleets, lobbyists, parliamentary representatives, and fisheries economists. By hiding behind the romantic image of the small-scale, independent fisherman, they secured political influence and government subsidies far in excess of what would be expected, given their minuscule contribution to the GDP of advanced economies--in the United States, even less than that of the hair salon industry.
"As yet, nobody can say with any certainty whether we have in fact escaped the prospect of a global economic collapse," said the 68-page report, headed by asset chief Daniel Fermon. It is an exploration of the dangers, not a forecast.
Under the French bank's "Bear Case" scenario (the gloomiest of three possible outcomes), the dollar would slide further and global equities would retest the March lows. Property prices would tumble again. Oil would fall back to $50 in 2010.
Unfortunately, we have an economic system and national philosophy based on the idea of every man getting rich. Impossible, unsustainable and bound for disaster from the start. Mankind's entire idea of what constitutes an economy is about to come into question at some point soon. Not just in America, but all the other (over) developed nations too. We cannot manufacture our way out of it, or spend or invest pour way out of it, through a free market "green economy." That's what got us here in the first place. Superheated spending to pump up a malignant economic system that devoured the earth.
The world’s container ports industry is facing a sharp reversal in its fortunes as the sector’s first ever year-on-year fall in volumes forces an abrupt change from breakneck expansion to retrenchment...
London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants forecasts a year-on-year fall of 10.3 per cent in containers moved this year, compared with 4.6 per cent growth in 1982, the previous worst year since 1956, when container shipping started.
"Every day the government says that food prices are coming down," he said. "Every day we are told that things are getting better thanks to the cooperation of the Soviet Union. But it is not true. Do you realise that the government cannot even control the roads? Fuck them. They only hold on to the cities." The "mujahedin" infested Helmand province and crossed and recrossed the Pakistani border, just as they do today. A Soviet Mig fighter-bomber even crossed the frontier in early 1980 to attack the guerrillas. The Pakistani government – and the United States, of course – condemned this as a flagrant breach of Pakistan's sovereignty. Well, tell that to the young Americans who control the unmanned Predators so often crossing the border today to attack the guerrillas.
Educated urban liberals never seem to grasp that most Americans no longer have access to the levers of self-determination. But then, I never expect the bourgeoisie to understand the legions of industrial serfs outside the gates. Nor do they much bother to try. After all, they've "got theirs." Education, safe working conditions, negotiable wages, access to real culture if they choose, progeny who will more or less continue their class patterns, even if on a somewhat lesser scale. When they look around their affinity groups and communities, they see only people like themselves. "Naw, we're not elites," they conclude.
But the sheer gravitational pull of 60 million people circling the drain is starting to draw these elites who do not know they are elites toward the drainpipe. So now we are seeing academic papers with titles such as "Does a white American underclass really exist?" Lemme see now, are there any clues? Well, about 49.1 million people, most of them white, went without food at various times in 2008 (USDA). This is called "food insecurity" in government and academic circles. I suppose the 3.1 million folks sleeping under bridges, in cars, in shelters and cardboard boxes are experiencing "housing insecurity." This includes the 1.4 million homeless children attending our public schools. I suggest they start by asking these people if there is a white underclass in America. You know, get it straight from the horse's mouth. You don't know if you don't ask. I mean, hell, these people might all be just hobo-ing for a lark!
Led by Samar Khatiwala, an oceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a team of researchers reconstructed the amount of carbon that has been annually absorbed by the oceans since 1765 — around the time when people began putting large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. "Over time, it seems, the oceans are becoming less efficient at taking up man-made carbon," says Khatiwala. "That's concerning over the long term."
Ah - long term. So I'll be dead by the time it's a problem. Whew.
According to a study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, every one of the face paints that they tested contained lead, and many of them also contained other heavy metals.
In the face paint study, all ten of the children’s face paints that were tested contained some lead. Lead contaminates cosmetics when low-quality ingredients are used to manufacture the cosmetics. In addition to lead, four of the paints contained nickel, two contained cobalt, and five contained chromium. One of the paints contained 120 ppm of chromium, while the industry-recommended standard limit is 5 ppm.
The number of US veterans who died in 2008 because they lacked health insurance was 14 times higher than the US military death toll in Afghanistan that year, according to a new study.
The analysis produced by two Harvard medical researchers estimates that 2,266 US military veterans under the age of 65 died in 2008 because they lacked health coverage and had reduced access to medical care.
That figure is more than 14 times higher than the 155 US troop deaths in Afghanistan in 2008, the study says.
At the close of the event, after the long rows of ten-foot-high dominoes had been toppled and the fireworks went off, the symbolic screw-ups continued: even after the anniversary wall had fallen, visitors were not allowed to cross it. Instead the blocks — some, upon closer inspection, emblazoned with advertising from among others, easyJet, the local utility companies, and Scandlines — were cordoned off behind metal fencing and guarded.
In the end, the Cheese Revolution, with its horrid music, montages of whistling children, and real-life angels atop the buildings, left would-be revelers divided by a fake Berlin Wall shuffling along in the rain looking for a way out of a festival of freedom.
Time seems to think that the rocket that was launched is actually an Ares 1. It is not. Ares 1 only exists on paper and won't exist in reality for years. I guess Time magazine got carried away with all the noise and hype.
What was launched is an Ares 1-X - a one-off test article that differs in substantial ways from the real, production line, Ares 1. Ares 1-X is (was) a rocket cobbled together from pieces of old shuttle hardware, a borrowed avionics system that will not be used on the actual Ares 1, and dummy upper stages - none of which will ever fly again. Indeed, its first - and only - flight resulted in an unexpected upper stage trajectory, a parachute system malfunction, and heavy damage to its launch pad.
A great quote from SF writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snowcrash:
...this country has one of the worst economies in the world. When it gets down to it–we're talking trade balances here–once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwaves in Tadzhikistan and selling them here–once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel–once the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani bricklayer would consider to be prosperity–y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else
high-speed pizza delivery
The report also puts the breathless reporting of recent discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil into a more sober context. BG’s Guara field discovered last month, for instance, contains 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil and was lauded as a ‘supergiant’, prompting some pundits to claim such finds would banish peak oil for decades. However, the UKERC argues that each additional 1 billion barrels delays peak oil by less than a week. To postpone the peak by a year would take 7 times what was discovered in 2007. “We’re unlikely to explore our way out of this”, says Sorrell.
The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.
The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.
Not a surprise. It's been a dirty little secret for many years that the OPEC countries added magical "reserves" in the late 80s in order to allow themselvs to produce oil at levels far above their OPEC quotas.
In the recent ASPO (peak oil) conference, one presenter gave a convincing presentation, in which he suggested that there was a newly found oilfield in the deep waters off Brazil which might contain ONE TRILLION BARRELS. To put that in context, humans have used one trillion barrels since the industrial revolution. Cancel the DOOM, you crazy DOOMERS!
It all sounded dandy until one audience member pointed out the following:
Given that URR (ultimately recoverable reserves) of any oilfield tend to be 40% of the reserves at best, and that the world uses 30 billion barrels a year, the discovery, if true, would only provide 15 years of current global oil usage. And that's not even factoring in the fact that the oil is in deep waters and hard to extract.
A spate of recent deaths of New York police and fire officers who took part in the emergency operation at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks has heightened fears that it could be the start of a delayed epidemic of cancer-related illness.
Five firefighters and police officers, all of whom were involved in the rescue and clear-up at the site of the collapsed Twin Towers, have died of cancer in the past three months, the oldest being 44. Three died last month within a four-day period.
Those three were Robert Grossman, a Harlem-based police officer who spent several weeks at the emergency site and died of a brain tumour aged 41; fellow police officer Cory Diaz, 37; and firefighter Richard Mannetta, 44.
There was a great psychology study done at Cornell about a decade ago called the “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” The experiment proved that stupid people are consistently, pathologically unable to recognize their own mistakes. Their brains just weren’t wired for “learning from mistakes”; in fact, they were always convinced that they were always right, reality be damned.
The emboldened Taliban movement in Afghanistan turned down an American offer of power-sharing in exchange for accepting the presence of foreign troops, Afghan government sources confirmed.
"US negotiators had offered the Taliban leadership through Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakkil (former Taliban foreign minister) that if they accept the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan, they would be given the governorship of six provinces in the south and northeast," a senior Afghan Foreign Ministry official told IslamOnline.net requesting anonymity for not being authorized to talk about the sensitive issue with the media.
He said the talks, brokered by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, continued for weeks at different locations including the Afghan capital Kabul.
Saudi Arabia, along with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, were the only states to recognize the Taliban regime which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
Turkish Prime Minister Reccap Erodgan has reportedly been active in brokering talks between the two sides.
His emissaries are in contact with Hizb-e-Islami (of former prime minister Gulbadin Hikmatyar) too because he is an important factor in northeastern Afghanistan."
It's fair to describe Gulbadin as an important factor, given his habit of running over his enemies with tanks. Let me take this opportunity to say how much I admire and respect Mr. Hikmatyar as a statesman and leader - a fearless defender of Afghan national honour.
In completely unrelated news, I'll be travelling to Afghanistan next month on a fact-finding mission for the idleworm.com news bureau.
NASA: polar caps continue to melt. Will the AGW "skeptics" give this datapoint the same weight as the recent "the earth is cooling" report from 3 weeks ago?
My dimpled arse they will. "The thinker 'thinks', the prover 'proves'".
Most people are unaware that we're in something of a golden age for robotic space exploration (click for links):
I saw a preview screening of "CoLLapse" - a movie based around a 2-day interview with Mike Ruppert. It's quite a film - but most interesting is the attention that MR has been receiving - interviews with the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Don't miss it if it plays near you.
Directed by documentarian Chris Smith ("American Movie"), the film consists mostly of Mr. Ruppert speaking about the dangers of peak oil and the looming catastrophe that declining oil reserves could bring. The film opens Nov. 6 in New York and on the new video-on-demand channel FilmBuff.
"The power of 'Collapse' is that Ruppert ... never sounds like a crackpot," Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman wrote after the movie's Toronto International Film Festival premiere in September. "You may want to dispute him, but more than that you'll want to hear him, because what he says—right or wrong, prophecy or paranoia—takes up residence in your mind."
I've been working furiously on The Film. It's almost done - at least the animation. 4 scenes left on the main body, and then a final pass to buttress some weak links, which will add another 2 or 3 minutes (or 4 weeks of work, roughly). I've found a major conductor to provide the music, and have had some expert input. It's looking good. I've been too burned out to post much, or even answer any emails. FYI, so far this year, my earnings have come to less than $6000. Most of my energy and time has been sunk into this project. Bear with me - as it should be fun when it launches in the first quarter of next year.
Here are some screenshots from sequence 2:
Reconstructed from the 1940s short "Why Play Leapfrog", your grandad (and why he was tougher than you pantywaists):
Energy slaves behind every modern American:
Different kinds of fuel:
Many drills needed to find one reservoir:
EROEI in the early 20th century - 100 barrels found for the energy equivalent of every 1 used:
Searching in deep waters (we're all in deep waters now):
The statue of Liberty...
...next to the amount of oil we use in a year (1 cubic mile):
The average american driver uses their body weight of oil a week:
Percentages of oil used in electricity generation vs. transport:
Coal mountaintop removal:
Conventional Natural gas production and extraction:
There's only so much Windoze Vista that one human being should have to endure. So, I installed Windows RC7 (the beta of Win7) - the 64 bit version.
Superior in every way to Vista SP1 - which had already been on the shelves for a year and a half. 7 found the drivers, I only needed to add one. FASTER - for the first time this machine feels like a modern PC; stuttery problems in Photoshop (which I'd had with XP & Vista on this system) are gone; even the 32 bit applications feel more responsive. No more "click on an icon and wait for 0.9 seconds for a response".
The only problem is that I'll have to buy the bloody thing when the trial runs out. Well, small price to pay, I think. If you're going to buy a PC, wait until they start shipping with 7, if ye be wise.
Having mapped the circuitry of the fly brain using tailored light flashes, the scientists found that they were able to specifically stimulate the magic twelve neurons to "give the flies the memory of an unpleasant event that never occurred". Experimental insects, given the brain-programming treatment, could be taught to fear and avoid specific odours - just as one might teach them by giving electric shocks, but without actually shocking them. The scientists describe this as "writing directly to memory".
It would be difficult to overstate the scale of the problem we face. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s critical networks a D on its most recent Report Card for American Infrastructure. The group’s estimate that we need $2.2 trillion over the next five years to bring everything up to snuff is up from its $1.6 trillion estimate in 2005.
Yes, yes, yes. There's been a lot of fuss about the awarding of the Nobel Prize. It's the first time that the Nobel Prize has been awarded to a woman. The Economics Prize has been won by Elinor Ostrom. CONGRATULATIONS ELI...
Then why is it called a Nobel...oh...what's that? Economics isn't a real science? AH! That explains it! A phoney Nobel for a phoney science! I hereby award myself the Nobel Prize for online prognostication! I'd like to thank my parents, my teachers, my...
Going forward. Going Forward. GOING FORWARD!
I'd like to take back my comments about America's cops being brownshirts. Or not.
Those who have been following the site for a while will know that I've been working on a large scale animated project about oil and resource depletion. I began the project (slowly) about five years ago. As I worked on it, it grew - and is now over 20 minutes long. The final film will be just under 30 minutes. The first 4 sequences are complete, give or take a scene or two. Only the final sequence remains - it will be about 7 or 8 minutes long. If I can maintain the current production rate, I should be finished with all the animation sometime in November/early December. There'll still be some work to do after that - final narration, proof reading of the script by someone with expertise in the field, post production, etc. I'm hoping to release it early next year - tentatively sometime in February.
I've been going bananas with the visuals - and it's turning out far better than I expected. Walt Disney coined a term called "plussing" - i.e., take a scene that you're perfectly satisfied with, and push it a lot further than you thought possible. That's what I've been doing the past week, and the results have been most pleasing (see previews below).
In addition, I created pages for the script, with citations for every line - as people will certainly have questions. That was a full weeks work - pretty tedious going.
Well, so that you know that I'm not a total wastrel, here are some of the best shots from sequence 1. I'll post some stills from the later sequences over the next few days.
Title screen, over the seething surface of the Sun. I don't think that the title has been used already - I checked IMDB and could find only one film - about the song from which the phrase is taken:
The late cretaceous Earth:
Vertical pan, showing the canopy of a Greenhouse forest:
Pan down to dinosaur ambling through the vegetation:
Plate tectonics open rifts in the Earth's crust:
The new oceans are filled with colossal algal blooms, which thrive in the heat (this is the formation of oil sequence):
I'm delighted with the way this sequence has turned out - adding some simple gradients and simple facial expressions has turned this from on OK shot into a memorable one:
The algae die as they're poisoned by sheer numbers. I'd like to vary some of the faces to add a bit of variety - different angles and expressions - but ONLY if there's time left when everything else is done.
Meet our modern day algae:
Another shot which was greatly improved by simple lighting tricks - adding gradients with complimentary colours to the background wall has given this shot a texture and atmosphere that was missing before.
Same here - originally I'd coloured these scenes in simple flat colours - the scene worked, but was utterly flat. A basic gradient on the ground, and a toplit illumination suddenly provides a dramatic effect for very little cost. The narrator explains that in the 1960s we found 6 barrels of oil for every one we used:
Whereas today we find 1 barrel for every 3 to 6 that we use:
Ah, the joys of modern technology:
Ending with a financial collapse (animated in Summer 2007, btw):
Rediscovered TV gold: John Betjeman visits Leeds in 1960s. Never broadcast - he bemoans the destruction of the Victorian city and its replacement with modern glass boxes and assorted brutalist monstrosities. (You can watch the film at the site, though the image quality is crap - due to realplayer).
Finally, some good news on the energy front (from a "business as usual" perspective): there appear to have been major technical breakthroughs in the extraction of Unconventional Natural Gas (extracted from three sources: shale, tight gas, and coal. Shale extraction is rising fast, and appears to be capable of offsetting the conventional decline, which has been steep.
Do we call off the Doom? Not so fast - but this is offers our overlords the possibility of a fossil-fuel energy lifeline...a real one, as opposed to these overblown 1 billion barrel oilfields. Check out the maps on the oil drum site, and read through the comments. Very interesting stuff there.
Gail (the writer of the Oil Drum article) mentions some factors that may yet inhibit UNG extraction...mostly above ground, economics, infrastructure, etc.
Shale gas operators are up to their eyeballs in debt. They would need to borrow vast sums of money—Berman suggests it would take ~30,000 wells and ~$150 billion—to get shale gas up to 40% of total U.S. dry gas production by 2013.
Shale gas operators can’t possibly make money at current natural gas prices, or medium-term future prices if these are close to the 15-year average (~$5.50/Mcf)...
When we consider disappointing wells and high decline rates in successful wells, it is clear that getting shale gas up to 40% of U.S. production by 2013 is not only very expensive—$7.5-10.5 million for drilling & completion according to Berman—but also requires poking a lot of very expensive holes in the ground...
Will we have a shale gas boom? ... I’m going to say the jury is still out on this one. That’s not a cop-out, because the verdict will be in very soon, certainly within the next few years. Art Berman is making specific predictions, just as Driscoll, Shaefer, and Ziff Energy do. Berman surmises that natural gas prices may stay below or in their average range (~$5.50) for a few years based on a host of new factors that include greater availability of tight gas from the Rockies and increased LNG imports. If Berman is right, we will not see large increases in shale gas production through 2011, or some companies will go belly up, or both.
Promoters like T. Boone Pickens and Aubrey McClendon have offered us a Golden Vision of a future powered by natural gas. Their forecasts assume a shale boom that will last for decades. But we shouldn’t count our chickens before they’re hatched. It costs us very little to take a wait & see attitude on the shale gas boom—we’ll know soon enough if it’s for real.
Take the metal gallium, which along with indium is used to make indium gallium arsenide. This is the semiconducting material at the heart of a new generation of solar cells that promise to be up to twice as efficient as conventional designs. Reserves of both metals are disputed, but in a recent report Renï¿½ Kleijn, a chemist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, concludes that current reserves "would not allow a substantial contribution of these cells" to the future supply of solar electricity. He estimates gallium and indium will probably contribute to less than 1 per cent of all future solar cells - a limitation imposed purely by a lack of raw material.
Here's a link to the images accompanying the article. They're a bit big - too big for most monitors - so I've scaled it down to 1280 pixels wide, here. Note the expiration dates of the minerals - many in the very near future - "at current rates of consumption". Of course, no item will be used at current rates of consumption. A "healthy" economy will double every 25 or 30 years - so these figures might even be optimistic...
In the parched Mexican countryside, the corn is wilting, the wheat stunted. And here in this vast and thirsty capital, officials are rationing water and threatening worse cuts as Mexico endures one of the driest spells in more than half a century.
A months-long drought has affected broad swaths of the country, from the U.S. border to the Yucatan Peninsula, leaving crop fields parched and many reservoirs low. The need for rain is so dire that water officials have been rooting openly for a hurricane or two to provide a good drenching.
Become resouce intelligent, or die:
Since most rainwater pours down storm drains into the sewer network, it is not absorbed into the underground aquifers that are the city's main source of water. Decades of over-pumping is emptying those deposits and causing Mexico City to sink, in some places by more than a foot a year.
The same happens not just in Mexico, but all modern cities. Rainwater is flushed into gutters and sewers, and flushed into rivers and seas instead of refilling aquifers (which is where much of it should go. Los Angeles is a particularly nasty example of this idiocy. Google "LA river" for images of the ultimate in madness. In many parts of the US, rainwater catchment is illegal - utilities regard rainwater as their property, even if it falls on your garden or roof!
The real problem, of course, is growth. I'd taken it as a given that the best population projections for 2050 were ~9 billion. More recently, those numbers have been moving upwards. Now, we could be looking at close to 11 or 12 billion (almost double the current world population).
Unchecked population growth is speeding climate change, damaging life-nurturing ecosystems and dooming many countries to poverty, experts concluded in a conference report released Monday.
Unless birth rates are lowered sharply through voluntary family-planning programmes and easy access to contraceptives, the tally of humans on Earth could swell to an unsustainable 11 billion by 2050, they warned.
China may overtake the United States as the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases within months, one of the world's leading energy analysts predicted yesterday.
Dr Fatih Birol, chief economist of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, said the country's economic growth had been so fast in 2006 and 2007 that the historic global shift of climate-changing emissions from west to east which was previously predicted for 2009 or 2010 could now happen by November.
The river’s flow ranges from murky white to a bright shade of orange and the waters are so viscous that they barely ripple in the breeze. In Shangba, the river brings death, not sustenance.
“All the fish died, even chickens and ducks that drank from the river died. If you put your leg in the water, you’ll get rashes and a terrible itch,” said He Shuncai, a 34-year-old rice farmer who has lived in Shangba all his life.
“Last year alone, six people in our village died from cancer and they were in their 30s and 40s.”
The EPOXI paper says that water has been "unequivocally" confirmed and that "the entire lunar surface is hydrated during at least some portions of the lunar day".
In another paper, previously unreleased 1999 flyby data from Cassini shows hydroxyl concentrations on "the sunlit face of the Moon". Water was detected in concentrations as high as "10 to 1,000 parts per million" and according to the paper "Regardless of its origin, water is found on the lunar surface in areas previously thought to have been depleted in volatiles."
The Chandrayaan-1 paper says "data suggests that the formation and retention of OH and H2O is an ongoing surficial process. OH/H2O production processes may feed polar cold traps and make the lunar regolith a candidate source of volatiles for human exploration."
Senior regulators say they are seriously considering a plan to have the nation’s healthy banks lend billions of dollars to rescue the insurance fund that protects bank depositors. That would enable the fund, which is rapidly running out of money because of a wave of bank failures, to continue to rescue the sickest banks.
Fantastic stuff! Dmitri Orlov, prophet of American collapse, has written a screed about the wingnut teabaggers. They flooded his site to make their usual pinhead comments, resulting in Dmitri disabling comments (until such time as the crawl back under their rocks). A must-read:
Once upon a time I had joined demonstrations, not out of some misplaced idealism, but to pick up women (I was still single at the time). The demonstrations were always full of pretty, high-spirited young women, and the context of marching and chanting slogans together rendered them approachable. And so my first question concerning the crowd marching around the Mall last weekend was, "Where are all the pretty young women?" There weren't any! Surprised, I observed some more. What I saw only deepened my consternation. Not only were there no pretty women to be seen, but the crowd included exactly zero blacks, Latinos or Asians. I don't believe I have ever before seen so many middle-aged, obese, shabbily dressed, melanin-challenged individuals gathered in one place!
What political interests bind over-the-hill flabby white people to the exclusion of all other ethnic groups? What is the shabby white agenda? Perhaps the signs the marchers carried might offer a clue? Most of them carried white corrugated cardboard signs stapled to a sharpened pine stake, of the sort designed for displaying on suburban front lawns. The slogans they scribbled on them were of their own devising, but the form factor of the signs was identical throughout. The slogans related to disparate interests: health care, monetary policy, constitutional law. I eventually stumbled on a pile of the stock they used to make their signs. These were printed signs: the printed side said either "Office Space for Lease!" or "Condos for Sale!". The demonstrators would pry the cardboard off one sign, staple it to another sign face down, and scribble on the blank side of the one in the front. These people are refugees from foreclosure-land that somebody organized and shipped in, together with their props!...
...[Obama] may not be particularly black, but he is definitely not of the same tribe as the Washington demonstrators, who were predominantly of Scots-Irish or English or German descent. This is who America's proud owners and proprietors have been through most of American history, the ethnic groups that have built the American empire, driving slaves, running factories, fighting the natives and driving them into reservations, driving the Mexicans out of the Southwest, and manning the police departments, the military bases and the prisons. They are the ones who worked to impose Pax Americana on the Americas, and, for a short while, almost succeeded in having their way with the rest of the world.
And now they have grown old, fat and sick and are mired in debt. Their time is over, and they are every bit as upset about it as they ought to be. I can't fault them for it. Up until last year, they could comfort themselves by thinking: "We may be poor, but at least we ain't black!" But now they have a black President. What a shock that must be!
A bluntly unassuming and rather plain-looking man in his late fifties, Ruppert sits in what looks like a brick bunker and talks about where he thinks the United States is now headed. It is not a pretty picture, but it’s not a naive one, either. Ruppert has more than a perception — he has a welter of facts, a restless and skeptical intelligence, a grasp of history that is professorial in the best sense, and an ability to slice and dice the platitudes of mainstream media. He’s like Noam Chomsky as a gripping pundit of doom. The drama of the movie, and it’s intense, is that even if you want to argue with him (and you will, since he’s predicting very bad things), you can’t dismiss what he’s saying.
The aircraft was flying a combat mission when positive control of the MQ-9 was lost. When the aircraft remained on a course that would depart Afghanistan's airspace, a US Air Force manned aircraft took proactive measures to down the Reaper in a remote area of northern Afghanistan.
Yet another standout Exile report - this one on Memphis:
The reality is that, like in Afghanistan and Iraq, no one has a monopoly on violence in Memphis. Cops won’t respond to calls in the area because they’re usually setups, where someone is waiting behind a building or on a rooftop to pop a couple of shots at whoever shows up in blue. Not that anyone would want the cops to come anyway. At night, GD’s [a local gang] with AK47’s and baseball bats wrapped in barb wire patrol the streets making sure nobody breaks into anything or nobody tries selling drugs or sex that isn’t supposed to be. You can sure as hell can trust the GD more than the cops. You never know if a cop is going to turn out to be crooked or not.
A while back, there were some B & E’s in the area that the GD’s weren’t behind. A GD who lived across the street from me came over to my house to tell me to keep an eye out for anything strange because “shit been goin’ down we ‘idn’t know ‘bout.” Talk about service.
On the street, you can buy a junk AK-47 for $80, which I’m happy to report is cheaper than the going rate in Mogadishu .
Option mortgages to explode. The recession is over, the recession is...
Because the new monthly payments can be five or 10 times what borrowers are accustomed to paying, they “threaten a much greater hit to the consumer than the subprimes,” Goddard said, referring to the mortgages often extended to less credit-worthy borrowers that fed the first wave of the financial crisis.
This might surprise you, but I watched the movie "Network" (1976) for the first time last month. Of course, the line "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore" is a cliche that we've all heard - but the scene that really stands out is performed by Ned Beatty:
Globalisation (corporate fascism) was well understood over 30 years ago.
All through the dark years of the Bush Administration, progressives watched in horror as Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history's worst dictators. With each new outrage, the small handful of us who'd made ourselves experts on right-wing culture and politics would hear once again from worried readers: Is this it? Have we finally become a fascist state? Are we there yet?
Mixed feelings about this piece. Much rings true - but the writer seems to be of the opinion that Republicans = fascism, Democrats = democracy. Not so simple, I fear. Both parties are two sides of the same coin. To the Afghan peasant blown to smithereens it matters not if the President is named Obama or Bush. The military industrial complex and the "Iron Triangle" continue to rule, regardless. The emergence of a true National Fascist party in the US would affect the lives of Americans for the worse - and maybe this wouldn't be a bad thing. It would, at last, give Americans a taste of the medicine that they've been handing out for so long.
“There will be blood, in the sense that a crisis of this magnitude is bound to increase political as well as economic [conflict]. It is bound to destabilize some countries. It will cause civil wars to break out, that have been dormant. It will topple governments that were moderate and bring in governments that are extreme. These things are pretty predictable. The question is whether the general destabilization, the return of, if you like, political risk, ultimately leads to something really big in the realm of geopolitics. That seems a less certain outcome. We've already talked about why China and the United States are in an embrace they don't dare end. If Russia is looking for trouble the way Mr. Putin seems to be, I still have some doubt as to whether it can really make this trouble, because of the weakness of the Russian economy. It's hard to imagine Russia invading Ukraine without weakening its economic plight. They're desperately trying to prevent the ruble from falling off a cliff. They're spending all their reserves to prop it up. It's hardly going to help if they do another Georgia.”
“I was more struck Putin's bluster than his potential to bite, when he spoke at Davos. But he made a really good point, which I keep coming back to. In his speech, he said crises like this will encourage governments to engage in foreign policy aggression. I don't think he was talking about himself, but he might have been. It's true, one of the things historically that we see, and also when we go back to 30s, but also to the depressions 1870s and 19980s, weak regimes will often resort to a more aggressive foreign policy, to try to bolster their position. It's legitimacy that you can gain without economic disparity – playing the nationalist card. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of that in the year ahead.
It's just that I don't see it producing anything comparable with 1914 or 1939. It's kind of hard to envisage a world war. Even when most pessimistic, I struggle to see how that would work, because the U.S., for all its difficulties in the financial world, is so overwhelmingly dominant in the military world.”
As a many conservative activists (Teabaggers, Birthers, Dittoheads, Wannabe Rambos and Members of Congress from South Carolina) rail against government programs and Obama imposed “socialism,” hardly any have yet elected to return government benefits they receive or have already put in the bank.
This form letter may help them in this regard. After all, we are sure they agree that it is the height of hypocrisy to take benefits from institutions that you personally disapprove of, or are in conflict with your values and ideals.