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Why this laser-like focus on Israel/Palestine here and by the rest of the world.  Does anyone give a damn about the Chechens, who have and are suffering much more the the Palestinians. See this photo of Grozny's devastation. Does anyone give a damn about the Uighurs,  the Tibetans, or the Roma? How many diaries were about their plights lately? For the plight of the Chinese minorities see The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China,’ by David Eimer reviews here.

Hardy a peep.  Why the focus?.  Are Russia and China too big and too powerful to challenge? Any ideas.

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Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:52 AM PDT

Financial Death Cycle of Fracking

by interguru

Many of us have discussed the environmental costs of fracking, for example The Death-cycle of Fracking .

There is a financial death cycle too Shale Drillers Feast on Junk Debt to Stay on Treadmill

“There’s a lot of Kool-Aid that’s being drunk now by investors,” Tim Gramatovich, who helps manage more than $800 million as chief investment officer of Santa Barbara, California-based Peritus Asset Management LLC. “People lose their discipline. They stop doing the math. They stop doing the accounting. They’re just dreaming the dream, and that’s what’s happening with the shale boom.”
more below the amourous snails.
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Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 04:12 AM PDT

The shale bubble is bursting

by interguru

Oil and gas majors now cutting back in U.S. shale gas fields

In the last 10 days, British Petroleum, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell have all announced they will be spending less on oil and gas exploration in the U.S.
[ more examples in the Examiner Article ]

 

Unfortunately, the results of the shale revolution have been disappointing, leading to significant asset impairment charges and negative cash flows,” [An investment banker] further asks, “Will that capital continue to be available, or will it, too, begin demanding profits rather than reserve additions and production growth?”
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Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 02:39 PM PDT

Meltdowns, Social and Nuclear

by interguru

Lately there has been talks of a whole social/civilizational collapse, for example this NASA funded study.  Gail Tverberg in her blog Our Finite World has been discussing this for years.  Below I take the liberty of condensing her argument.

  • The problem is not peak oil, but peak affordable oil.
  • We are already there, the big oil companies have cut back exploration because they cannot make money even at $100/barrel.
  • High oil prices choke off growth in our economy
  • With little or no growth, we cannot pay our debts.
  • As in 2008, unpayable debt will crack our financial system
  • As not in 2008, the central banks have shot most of their “arrows” and have few left in their quiver.
  • As was avoided in 2008 ,the financial system collapses, social chaos follows

A civilization meltdown would be followed by nuclear power meltdowns as we would no longer be able to maintain our reactors.

In the blog discussions, I argued that the meltdowns would be a local, not a global problem.  To prove my point I conducted a what if experiment: in the style of XKCD What If  

What if all the nuclear reactor core radiation was released and spread evenly around the world?
Continued below the amorous snails ( warning geekout ahead )

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Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 04:53 PM PST

Where the Republicans came from

by interguru

Most of us are scratching our head, where did the culture powering the Republican Party come from anyway?  Nowhere else in the world do we find this combination of religious fundamentals, anti-intellectualism and leave-me-alone-ism.

My comments below are a very condensed version of Senator James Webb’s book “Born Fighting” (The link contains on one review ) .  In the 16th and 17th centuries, England in order to pacify their restless Irish colony, confiscated land from the Irish and offered it to protestant settlers mostly from Scotland. Over time these settlers found themselves in a bad situation, The Catholic Irish hated them.  The high church English overlords looked down at them as low church Presbyterians.

The important point for this diary, because of their isolation the enlightenment bypassed them.  While both Scotland and Ireland had their enlightenment, the Scotch-Irish were physically separated from Scotland, and had no friendly contact with the Irish.
They retained their tribal Celtic kinship and honor based warrior culture with a rugged Calvinist individualism.

When North America opened for immigration, the Scotch-Irish took advantage of a way to escape their unhappy situation.  They constituted about 30-40% of all the immigrants to the British colonies in the 18th century.  When they arrived the high church establishment looked down on them, so they headed for the hills, the Appalachian frontier.  There they settled later to be called hillbillies.

They needed their fighting ways, as they come in conflict with the Indians and became the de-facto frontier guards.  Their hatred of Britain led them to become a keystone of our revolution. One Hessian officer said, "Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scotch Irish Presbyterian rebellion.’

Since then they were, and still are, a disproportionate percentage of our armed forces.

Senator Jim Webb puts forth a thesis in his book to suggest that the character traits he ascribes to the Scotch-Irish such as loyalty to kin, extreme mistrust of governmental authority and legal strictures, and a propensity to bear arms and to use them, helped shape the American identity. ( ibid Wikipedia )

It is a time to for us to enjoy schadenfreude, but, barring succession, afterwards we have to live with them.  Even if we do not agree with them, we should stop laughing at them.

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Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 12:53 PM PST

Beribboned Generals, Dying Empiree

by interguru

The sight of General Petraeus' overdecorated chest has started a discussion of military decorations being given out like kindergarden gold stars.  See here for an example.
 I am reposting of an original posting of July 10 2011 .  
-------------------------
I am not the first person to note that the US is displaying more and more symptoms of a dying empire.  To name a few; a broken political system, crony capitalism, a bloated military, use of mercenaries,  and unpayable debt.

The other day, while watching some general being interviewed, I noticed another symptom.  He, and other contemporary generals, have so many ribbons and metals on their chest that they could be melted down for ore.   I found a site  that lets me compare our beribboned commanders with those of yesteryear.

Civil War generals had few or no ribbons.  World War I’s General of the Armies Pershing displays two rows of narrow ribbons.  By World War II General Eisenhower showed three ribbon rows.  In 1950 General Bradley showed 6 rows ( you can see a detailed picture here ).

The pictures of today’s generals and officers are bedazzling.  Just one example,  The page describing William J. Gainey, USA, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, JCS ( not even a general ),   shows a picture with at least 8 rows of ribbons, with a list 24 lines long describing 56 awards after accounting for multiple awards.

As our military officers watch the country fall apart, at least they can fondle their decorations.

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Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 01:28 PM PST

This is what peak oil looks like

by interguru

Look around.  It is already here.  John Michael Greer on Energy Bulletin has written a must-read article on peak oil.  We are at peak oil, the end of several centuries of easy (i.e. cheap) resources.  He says it better than I can, so here are excerpts:

The point that has to be grasped just now, it seems to me, is that this is what peak oil looks like. Get past the fantasies of sudden collapse on the one hand, and the fantasies of limitless progress on the other, and what you get is what we’re getting—a long ragged slope of rising energy prices, economic contraction, and political failure, punctuated with a crisis here, a local or regional catastrophe there, a war somewhere else—all against a backdrop of disintegrating infrastructure, declining living standards, decreasing access to health care and similar services, and the like, which of course has been happening here in the United States for some years already.
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The present overnight encampments are problematic both for the OWS movement and their host cities.

The free-form leadership style is wonderful (even considering the comment by Oscar Wilde  "The problem with socialism is too many meetings." ) Still this form leaves them prey to any group of anarchists or so inclined troublemakers to put on "Occupy" t-shirts and go out and trash the neighborhood.  This has already happened in Oakland.  The tent cities can also attract petty ante criminals who use them as cover to do their own thing.

It is problematic for the cities too.  What is to prevent a group of homeless people from setting up tents, staying there permanently,  and announcing that they are using free speech to protest the city's housing policy.  I know this touches on the much larger issue of homelessness and inequality ( back to OWS ).  Still the city has a point.  I know it is nice to romanticize poverty, but I grew up a in poor neighborhood and watched people make bad decisions that made life for themselves and those around them much worst than it had to be.

The whole issue comes down to class.  If the campers had been poor rather than middle class, they probably would be languishing in jail with 10 year sentences for assaulting a policeman, and few would even notice.

Excuse my rant.  I am wholly behind OWS, but I believe the camping out tactic is not sustainable.

Discuss

Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 11:48 AM PDT

Beribboned Generals, Dying Empire

by interguru

I am not the first person to note that the US is displaying more and more symptoms of a dying empire.  To name a few; a broken political system, crony capitalism, a bloated military, use of mercenaries,  and unpayable debt.

The other day, while watching some general being interviewed, I noticed another symptom.  He, and other contemporary generals, have so many ribbons and metals on their chest that they could be melted down for ore.   I found a site  that lets me compare our beribboned commanders with those of yesteryear.

Civil War generals had few or no ribbons.  World War I’s General of the Armies Pershing displays two rows of narrow ribbons.  By World War II General Eisenhower showed three ribbon rows.  In 1950 General Bradley showed 6 rows ( you can see a detailed picture here ).

The pictures of today’s generals and officers are bedazzling.  Just one example,  The page describing William J. Gainey, USA, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, JCS ( not even a general ),   shows a picture with at least 8 rows of ribbons, with a list 24 lines long describing 56 awards after accounting for multiple awards.

As our military officers watch the country fall apart, at least they can fondle their decorations.

Discuss

"I just read an article in Popular Science that almost made me sick to the stomach. The headline says it all "Pricey Transatlantic Cable Could Save Milliseconds, Millions by Speeding Data to Stock Traders".

Here is $400M being spent just to give flash traders a 5 milliseconds advantage in trans-atlantic flash trading. It adds nothing to the economy, just lets the Wall Street Casino operators skim more money from the economy. On top of this, it diverts talent amd money from real productive projects.

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In spite of all the attention we give to peak oil, peak water may be closer and more serious.  Without enough water, there will not be enough food.  The issues become more complex when we realize that it takes water to produce energy, and often it takes energy to obtain water.

The latest issue of the IEEE Spectrum is devoted to their special report Water vs. Energy.

As water runs short we have to devote more and more energy to obtaining and treating it.  As overused aquifers get deeper, we need more energy to pump it to the surface.  More water short areas are turning to energy intensive desalination, such as Australia, which is in a long  term drought.  The farmers in the Punjab, India's traditional breadbasket, are spending more and more to pump from an aquifer which is declining half a meter a year. China has massive problems from overuse and pollution. The American West is suffering from a long term decline in rainfall, which my really be a return to normal conditions after 150 years of above average rainfall combined with the effects of global warming.

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Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 08:17 PM PDT

Conservative delusion

by interguru

In an posting in Redstate we see

Obama has spent his professional and political life in a bubble. He has no experience handling criticism and from what we’ve seen he doesn’t handle it very well. In short he knows that we know he’s a poseur and he’s very sensitive to that. Attacking Obama’s policies are unlikely to get much of a reaction because by being in control of the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the media he simply doesn’t have to answer critiques of his policies.

This is why hitting Obama on the Special Olympics and the use of the teleprompter are more important than trying to explain to the American people why giving the CEO of GM the heave-ho is Armageddon.

( emphasis in original)

I cannot add anything to this.

Bookwormhole.net  -- over 9000 published book reviews.

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