Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Oil Discussion is way off base

The folks over at The Oil Drum have an excellent post regarding the current state of discussion regarding high prices at the pump. As anyone who has studied peak oil knows, the discussion going on in the political realm and U.S. society in general is far off base. In fact, the discussion is not even close to the target. If this were a game of hot and cold we'd be in the ice of the northern glaciers... of course those are warming up and melting aren't they? But that is another discussion. Back to The Oil Drum and peak oil, I strongly recommend that you read The Politics of Oil: The Discourse Must Change:
Leaders of both political parties are expressing concern about the high price of gasoline. President George Bush announced yesterday that he was suspending deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to make more oil available to consumers as well as putting on hold the traditional regulations requiring additives to make fuel burn cleaner during the summer driving season.

...

We strongly feel that the leaders of both political parties are not only headed in the wrong direction with respect to gas prices, but we also worry that they fundamentally misunderstand the factors behind the current situation at gasoline stations around the US. Public statements by political figures over the past several days would seem to suggest that oil companies and their record profits are the sole factor determining the price of gasoline. Not only is this untrue, but it is dangerous to give the American people the impression that only oil companies are to blame. The American people need to understand that the phenomenon of high gas prices cannot be attributed to a single source. They also need to understand that no one political party will be able to fix our current woes.

It's a must read and is, as expected, followed by a fantastic discussion thread.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oil in the center

"Look, I'm sorry but the earth does not have a creamy nougat filling of oil in the center." - Jim Kunstler

That is all.


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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Garter Snake

The snakes have woken from there winter naps! Every spring we have two or three Garter snakes that have made it a habit of visiting our little garden pond for their first frog meals. I left alot more leaves in this year and thus far I don't think any frogs have been eaten.

Yeah, I know, I know. The snake has to eat too and as much as I appreciate the snakes and their need to eat, I still have a hard time watching or listening as a frog is eaten... and yes, they make quite a racket as they are going down.

Also worth noting, we have lots of Leopard Frog eggs in the pond so we should be seeing some tadpoles soon. Within the next couple weeks the Gray Tree Frogs will also start breeding... that usually happens once night time temperatures average mid 60s. I'm guessing the first or second week of May.


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America's Iraq

It's time again for a little Iraq check-in. We'll start with some photographs of the real situation in Iraq, photographs that American news outlets systematically refuse to print. Warning: they are graphic. Unlike U.S. audiences that view a cleaned up CNN version of Iraq, these sorts of uncensored scenes are shown on Arab satellite television all the time.

Then there is the ongoing story of Donald Rumsfeld, who, just like FEMA's Brownie, is doing a heck of a job according to Bush. There are some though, most notably a growing number of Generals that have, you know, actually gone off to war. Generals like Retired Major General John Batiste who, on Friday 4/14 said of Rumsfeld:
We went to war with a flawed plan that didn’t account for the hard work to build the peace after we took down the regime . . .” and added, “We also served under a secretary of defense who didn’t understand leadership, who was abusive, who was arrogant and who didn’t build a strong team.”
Then there is the story of Iraqi's who are fleeing their homes. 65,000 more Iraqis have been displaced during the past two weeks by ethnic violence and reprisal killings.

Then there is this from Patrick Cockburn, Situation in Iraq could not be worse:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A cruel and bloody civil war has started in Iraq, a country that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to free from fear and establish democracy. I have been visiting Iraq since 1978, but for the first time, I am becoming convinced that the country will not survive.
I wonder, what would America's Iran look like?

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Oh no Iran's going to have the Bomb in 16 Days!

Among many others Bloomberg.com is reporting that, according to the U.S., Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days. Ok, I'm terrified, truly terrified. I'm building my bomb shelter. I mean, not long ago it was 10 years until d-day, but now it's 16 days! These bloodthirsty Iranians are just out of their minds. We must defend ourselves now, the sooner we bomb them the better. Did I mention, I'm terrified! Is that a mushroom cloud I see? Thank God that Bush and his trustworthy administration are on this. I'm sure that with each minute they are diligently collecting piles of evidence from sources we can rely on. Yes, lets bomb Iran, let's do it now!

Iran, defying United Nations Security Council demands to halt its nuclear program, may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days, a U.S. State Department official said.

Iran will move to ``industrial scale'' uranium enrichment involving 54,000 centrifuges at its Natanz plant, the Associated Press quoted deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Saeedi as telling state-run television today.

``Using those 50,000 centrifuges they could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days,'' Stephen Rademaker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, told reporters today in Moscow.



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Java Cabana

Be one of the first visitors to the website I just finished for Java Cabana! I should say it's almost finished as we are still fine tuning the content. Not a huge site, not too fancy... but I think it has turned out quite well. If I've never professed my love for the Java let me do so now. My favorite Memphis coffee shop with many memories of the place going all the way to the early days in 1992. There's nothing in this world as tasty as a Java Shake.

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Biolab lies catching up to Bush

The Washington Post is reporting that Bush knew the truth but ignored it when he repeatedly asserted that the trailers were biolabs. Yes, I know, it's a big surprise that Bush and Co. lied. Damn hell, how many lies could one man tell? Just think of all the potential with the buildup to war on Iran!! Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War:
Administration Pushed Notion of Banned Iraqi Weapons Despite Evidence to Contrary

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

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Bush's real plans for immigration: war fodder?

My good friend Banana over at Liar Paradox has a very interesting thought on Bush's real immigration plans:

Bush is planning a land war in Iran. But Americans would burn Bush to pieces if he instituted the draft...see? Americans don't want to fight in wars for Exxon and Halliburton. These are just not the kinds of jobs that Americans want to do. Well under Bush's new and improved illegal immigration reform he's got over 20 million immigrants from Central America and Mexico that he can send over there.


Wouldn't surprise me one bit.


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Monday, April 10, 2006

Iran

Lots going on right now as the War Criminal in Chief prepares his second war of aggression, this time against a nation that will be able to defend itself: Iran. If Bush gets his way we are in a great deal of trouble. The mess caused by the crime against Iraq has largely been contained in Iraq. This will not be the case if we start something with Iran. If you think oil and gas are expensive now, just wait. Bombing Iran will trigger major blowback and our lives will change in ways we only glimpse in nightmares and not just in terms of the energy markets. The effects will surge through the global economy and the violence will spill far outside of the middle east.

Here's a small sample of Iran related news. Of course there is the Seymour Hersh article, The Iran Plans. It's long but well worth the time:

Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran fro pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increase clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams o American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting dat and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

Then there is this article from the Washington Post, U.S. Is Studying Military Strike Options on Iran:
The Bush administration is studying options for military strikes against Iran as part of a broader strategy of coercive diplomacy to pressure Tehran to abandon its alleged nuclear development program, according to U.S. officials and independent analysts.

No attack appears likely in the short term, and many specialists inside and outside the U.S. government harbor serious doubts about whether an armed response would be effective. But administration officials are preparing for it as a possible option and using the threat "to convince them this is more and more serious," as a senior official put it.
...

Preparations for confrontation with Iran underscore how the issue has vaulted to the front of President Bush's agenda even as he struggles with a relentless war in next-door Iraq. Bush views Tehran as a serious menace that must be dealt with before his presidency ends, aides said, and the White House, in its new National Security Strategy, last month labeled Iran the most serious challenge to the United States posed by any country.

Many military officers and specialists, however, view the saber rattling with alarm. A strike at Iran, they warn, would at best just delay its nuclear program by a few years but could inflame international opinion against the United States, particularly in the Muslim world and especially within Iran, while making U.S. troops in Iraq targets for retaliation.
Then there is the Congressman from Texas, Ron Paul, who has this to say about Iran being the next Neocon target:
The significant question we must ask ourselves is: What have we learned from three years in Iraq? With plans now being laid for regime change in Iran, it appears we have learned absolutely nothing. There still are plenty of administration officials who daily paint a rosy picture of the Iraq we have created. But I wonder: If the past three years were nothing more than a bad dream, and our nation suddenly awakened, how many would, for national security reasons, urge the same invasion? Would we instead give a gigantic sigh of relief that it was only a bad dream, that we need not relive the three-year nightmare of death, destruction, chaos and stupendous consumption of tax dollars. Conceivably we would still see oil prices under $30 a barrel, and most importantly, 20,000 severe U.S. causalities would not have occurred. My guess is that 99% of all Americans would be thankful it was only a bad dream, and would never support the invasion knowing what we know today.

Even with the horrible results of the past three years, Congress is abuzz with plans to change the Iranian government. There is little resistance to the rising clamor for “democratizing” Iran, even though their current president, Mahmoud Almadinejad, is an elected leader. Though Iran is hardly a perfect democracy, its system is far superior to most of our Arab allies about which we never complain. Already the coordinating propaganda has galvanized the American people against Iran for the supposed threat it poses to us with weapons of mass destruction that are no more present than those Saddam Hussein was alleged to have had. It’s amazing how soon after being thoroughly discredited over the charges levied against Saddam Hussein the Neo-cons are willing to use the same arguments against Iran. It’s frightening to see how easily Congress, the media, and the people accept many of the same arguments against Iran that were used to justify an invasion of Iraq.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Peak Oil on Global Players

I just finished watching Global Players with Sabine Christiansen which was a discussion of oil. Various important oil folk were there: Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru (Nigerian minister of State for Petroleum Resources, President of the OPEC Conference), Malcolm Brinded (Group Managing director Roy Dutch/Shell), Claude Mandil (Executive Director of IEA), Kevin Rosner (Institute for Analysis of Global Security), and Kjell Aleklett (President of ASPO). I was not impressed.

As expected, most talk was to the effect that there's plenty of oil, just not much extra capacity. Plenty there for 50+ years but acknowledgment that conservation must be taken seriously not only because oil is a limited resource but also because of climate change. Strange, that while they acknowledge oil as a limited resource they outright rejected the notion of peak oil... almost reflexively when it was brought up by Kjell Aleklett. I know very little of him or his work with the Association for the Study of Peak Oil but truthfully I was not at all impressed with him. To put it bluntly he was a pushover. Perhaps it was a language related limitation... the discussion was in English and while he certainly speaks English I'm just guessing that any slowness or hesitation in his responses might of been language related. I don't know.

In any case, it was a chance to promote the concept of peak oil that fell flat.

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What a miracle!

Dipshit on the news, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I prayed to god, thanked him for saving us." That was a woman in Tennessee that survived the tornados though her home was destroyed. Golly gee, so god saved her? I suppose god hated her house though? What about the folks down there that died? I suppose god was trying to punish them or offer some sort of lesson to someone?

Of course when someone's home is destroyed it is sad but when they thank god for the miracle that they survive, honestly, I laugh and I laugh hard. Oh, yes, thank you lord for saving me but what did you have against my home?

As an agnostic I just don't get this god/faith/miracle thing that people seem to love to talk about when natural or even man made disasters strike. Do they really believe this "god" saved them personally? If so do they think god was too busy to save the neighbor? Funny.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bush and Gonzales claim executive power to tap all domestic calls

Slowly another little iddy bit of truth seeps out regarding the wiretaps. Yes, big surprise, the unlawful spying includes domestic calls as well. According to this release by Congressman Adam Schiff of California the Attorney General won't rule out warrantless wiretaps of purely domestic telephone conversations. Ah yes, well one day we will all understand (or will be made to understand) that his royal highness King George has no limits to his powers.
WASHINGTON, DC – During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the NSA's secret domestic wiretapping program.

The Administration has cited the Authorization to Use Military Force and the commander in chief powers as authorizing the NSA to intercept international communications into and out of the U.S. of persons linked to al Qaeda or related terrorist organizations.

After citing his concerns that there was no limiting principle to the Administration's claim of authority in the War on Terror, Rep. Schiff asked the Attorney General whether the Administration believes it has the authority to wiretap purely domestic calls between two Americans without seeking a warrant.

"I’m not going to rule it out," responded the Attorney General.



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Bush's Lies, Leaks, and Surveillance Keep Coming

The news just keeps rolling on and on and on with the war criminals and terrorists in the White House. Truly amazing that they keep going, denying, and redefining reality. I think it's clear that they do not fear the Democrats or the American people. They will continue to whatever they please, whenever they please because they know they can. The good folks over at Irregular times discuss different Dicks for different decades.:
“If the President does it, it can’t be illegal.” — Richard M. Nixon, 1977

“President Bush’s chief spokesman said today the president has the right to declassify sensitive information whenever he chooses and that when he does, it is effective immediately.” — Washington Post, April 6 2006

It’s not a politically-motivated leak, it’s an on the spot declassification and disclosure in the national interest.

If the President does it, it can’t be illegal.

Also from Irregular Times, an excellent discussion of the ever expanding ground of spying on citizens and activists:
It’s been a week of frightening revelations about how far the Bush Administration is willing to go in order to enforce its political agenda on the increasingly unwilling American population. Of course, there was yesterday’s announcement that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney both appear to be involved up to their necks in the leak of classified information designed to punish Ambassador Joseph Wilson for revealing that Bush and Cheney knew about the lack of good evidence for an Iraqi nuclear weapons program before the invasion of Iraq.

Ah, but did you hear about the new evidence of the FBI spying against American peace activists, without there being any suspicion of the activists ever committing a crime? Yep. FBI agents were caught watching a group of antiwar protesters gathering outside a bookstore in Denver to go to a peaceful march, writing down their license plate numbers to enable further investigation.

And then, did you catch the news that attorneys connected to the Electronic Frontier Foundation have seen secret documents indicating that, without any legally required search warrant or judicial authorization, AT&T cooperated with the Bush Administration to engage in a huge Internet and telephone dragnet spy operation against millions of Americans. Yes, you read that right. The Bush White House, through the NSA, has been spying without a search warrant on millions of Americans.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Harry Taylor speaks truth to the War Criminal

Looks like Bush's magical filtering machine broke down today at the "town meeting" in Charlotte, NC. Dear Leader was challenged for his lies and hypocrisy by a man named Harry Taylor:

You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you’d like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are – [Momentary interruption by Bush]

Okay, I don’t have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I — in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and –

And I would hope — I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I’m saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.



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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The ecology of doom

The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise discusses Eric Pianka's prediction of humanity's demise. He seems to think it will be a disease such as Ebola. Perhaps. I tend to think it will be a combination of events with climate change and peak energy at the center. Time will tell I suppose.
AUSTIN — A University of Texas professor says the Earth would be better off with 90 percent of the human population dead.

“Every one of you who gets to survive has to bury nine,” Eric Pianka cautioned students and guests at St. Edward’s University on Friday. Pianka’s words are part of what he calls his “doomsday talk” — a 45-minute presentation outlining humanity’s ecological misdeeds and Pianka’s predictions about how nature, or perhaps humans themselves, will exterminate all but a fraction of civilization.
...

“This is gonna happen in your lifetime,” he told his St. Edward’s audience. “Do you wanna go there? We’ve already gone there. We waited too long.”
A very dark and gloomy future... at least for humanity.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Learn to identify plants by families and change the way you look at plants

Excellent article on Learning to Identify Plants by Families which also discusses learning the uses of plants. The author, Thomas Elpel, has an extensive site of his published books on different aspects of primitive living. Looks like an excellent resource. I learned a good bit in just this one small article.
I thought I "knew" most of the plants discussed in the class, but Robyn, the herbalist, used an approach I had never seen before. We happened across several members of the Rose family, and Robyn pointed out the patterns-- that the flowers had five petals and typically numerous stamens, plus each of them contained tannic acid and were useful as astringents to help tighten up tissues. An astringent herb, she told us, would help close a wound, tighten up inflammations, dry up digestive secretions (an aid for diarrhea) and about twenty other things. In a few short words she outlined the identification and uses for the majority of plants in this one family.

Some of my books listed the family names of the plants, but never suggested how that information could be useful. I realized that while I knew many plants by name, I never actually stopped to look at any of them! This may sound alarming, but it is surprisingly easy to match a plant to a picture without studying it to count the flower parts or notice how they are positioned in relation to each other. In short, Robyn's class changed everything I ever knew about plants. From there I had to relearn all the plants in a whole new way. I set out to study the patterns among related species, learning to identify plants and their uses together as groups and families.



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