Weblog Archives




  Saturday   April 30   2005


Is Saudi Arabia Running Out of Oil?

Matt Simmons hopes he is wrong.

But if he’s right in his belief that Saudi Arabia’s giant oil fields might already have peaked and could start into rapid decline in as few as three years, somebody better have a “Plan B” ready or there’s no way, he says — absolutely no way — to avoid a world energy cataclysm.

Pretty strong words. Stronger, perhaps, than any uttered before about energy. Simmons spoke them, and more, at a July 9 Washington, D.C., presentation made at a meeting on Saudi Arabia’s future. The Hudson Institute sponsored the meeting.

Simmons asked for anybody, including the Saudis themselves, to refute his claim. But so far, in his view, nobody’s stepped up. He acknowledges, however, that the Saudis recently have been more forthcoming about their ability to supply all the extra oil the world will require from Saudi fields. But still, it appears that nobody is willing to counter his specific charges.


  thanks to The Agonist

The One-Month Pregnancy

There is a growing realization that we are heading into troubled water, and that this time we won't have the oil to pour on it (sorry, couldn't resist). The recent Federal Energy Information Administration report that the supply will be short 700,000 barrrels a day, due to the Chinese increase in flow to their strategic reserve, suggests that the crisis will indeed become dramatically evident during the fourth quarter of this year.

There are a number of suggestions that can be made as to ways the extra demand might be met, and how new technologies may be developed to spring into the breach. There is also the fallback positions that either "The Government knows all about this and will take care of it," or "where there is a need technology always finds an answer.'

My usual response to the latter is that you can't have a baby in a month by making nine women pregnant. Technological innovation takes time, and the introduction of new answers must be validated through steps that are each of significant temporal length.


Rethinking the Axis of Oil
Can America ever kick the oil habit? Not if Congress and George Bush have their way, but the ground is shifting

FOR six decades, one of the few fixed stars in American foreign policy has been the special relationship with Saudi Arabia. Bluntly put, America has offered military protection to the Saudi royal family in return for the free flow of relatively cheap oil from the desert kingdom. Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has stuck by this deal, and the Saudis have mostly done so as well. Within the OPEC oil cartel, the Saudis are usually the voice of moderation.

Alas, things seem to have gone wrong on George Bush's watch. Despite his family's famous closeness to the Saudi rulers, oil prices have shot past $50 a barrel, up from barely $10 in 1998. The price of gasoline, which Americans still expect to cost just a buck a gallon, now touches $3 in some places.


  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

Why Our Food is So Dependent on Oil

“Eating Oil” was the title of a book which was published in 1978 following the first oil crisis in 1973 (1). The aim of the book was to investigate the extent to which food supply in industrialised countries relied on fossil fuels. In the summer of 2000 the degree of dependence on oil in the UK food system was demonstrated once again when protestors blockaded oil refineries and fuel distribution depots. The fuel crises disrupted the distribution of food and industry leaders warned that their stores would be out of food within days. The lessons of 1973 have not been heeded.

Today the food system is even more reliant on cheap crude oil. Virtually all of the processes in the modern food system are now dependent upon this finite resource, which is nearing its depletion phase.

Moreover, at a time when we should be making massive cuts in the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in order to reduce the threat posed by climate change, the food system is lengthening its supply chains and increasing emissions to the point where it is a significant contributor to global warming.


  thanks to DANGEROUSMETA!

 09:25 PM - link


This is just way too much!

Zak Smith's Illustrations For Each Page of Gravity's Rainbow

So I illustrated Gravity's Rainbow-- nobody asked me to, but I did it anyway. Most of the pictures are drawings-- ink on whatever paper was lying around, but there are also paintings (acrylic), photos I took, and experimental photographic processes. I tried to illustrate the passages as literally as possible-- if the book says there was a green Spitfire, I drew a green Spitfire. Mostly, I tried to make a series of pictures as dense, intricate, and rich as the prose in the book. The entire project was shown in the Whitney Museum's 2004 Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art and is now in the permanent collection of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Page 536


  thanks to consumptive.org

 09:15 PM - link


Bushies close to losing Iraqi 'second chance'?

It's twelve weeks today since January's significant (if certainly not perfect) multi-party election in Iraq. And still, the party list that won the majority of seats has been prevented-- both by the strictures of the US-dictated Transitional Administrative Law and by the manueverings of key US allies in the country-- from being able to form a government accountable to the elected National Assembly.

The Bush administration, it seems to me, has just about completely "blown" the extremely valuable second chance it was handed, virtually on a plate, by the Iraqi voters back on January 30th.


Bloodied Marines Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men

On May 29, 2004, a station wagon that Iraqi insurgents had packed with C-4 explosives blew up on a highway in Ramadi, killing four American marines who died for lack of a few inches of steel.

The four were returning to camp in an unarmored Humvee that their unit had rigged with scrap metal, but the makeshift shields rose only as high as their shoulders, photographs of the Humvee show, and the shrapnel from the bomb shot over the top.

"The steel was not high enough," said Staff Sgt. Jose S. Valerio, their motor transport chief, who along with the unit's commanding officers said the men would have lived had their vehicle been properly armored. "Most of the shrapnel wounds were to their heads."

Among those killed were Rafael Reynosa, a 28-year-old lance corporal from Santa Ana, Calif., whose wife was expecting twins, and Cody S. Calavan, a 19-year-old private first class from Lake Stevens, Wash., who had the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, tattooed across his back.

They were not the only losses for Company E during its six-month stint last year in Ramadi. In all, more than one-third of the unit's 185 troops were killed or wounded, the highest casualty rate of any company in the war, Marine Corps officials say.

In returning home, the leaders and Marine infantrymen have chosen to break an institutional code of silence and tell their story, one they say was punctuated not only by a lack of armor, but also by a shortage of men and planning that further hampered their efforts in battle, destroyed morale and ruined the careers of some of their fiercest warriors.


 09:07 PM - link


Some people have way more time on their hands than is good for them. These aren't Photoshopped images. These are real desktops.

Transparent Screens


  thanks to Geisha asobi blog

 11:57 AM - link


The Grand Delusion

So I spent the better part of last weekend working my way through Shadia Drury’s book: Leo Strauss and the American Right -- a project I should have tackled several years ago, before the neocons re-emerged as such a public menace.

Know thy enemy is always good advice, and while I had some minor dealings with a few of the neocon leading lights during my days as a reporter, I’ve never really taken the time to study their philosophy, or to learn more about Strauss, their intellectual capo di tutti capo.

Drury, on the other hand, appears to have made an academic career out of it. What’s more, she has the distinct advantage of being able to argue Plato and Aristotle with the best of them, while most of what I know about the classics comes from watching old Ray Harryhausen movies. Seriously, though, moral philosophy wasn’t one of my academic strong suits, and while I’m a little better versed in the political dead white guys that mattered to Strauss (such as Hobbes, Rousseau and Machiavelli) I’d never try to play the expert -- not in front of a live audience anyway.

But I am, for obvious reasons, intensely interested in the political ideas that have influenced the neocon cadres -- which is to say, I’d really like to know how the bastards think.


  thanks to Bad Attitudes

 11:50 AM - link


The Terminal
A Journal of Typography & Lettering Arts


If you have ever looked closely at one of the P22 key charts you will notice several dashes, well, six to be exact. These dashes are the hyphen, minus sign, en dash, em dash, macron and underscore. Don't stop reading! These dashes are found in every font because each has a specific typographic and grammatical use, but you'll probably need to use only three of them.

The Hyphen -
The hyphen is the shortest dash visually. It is the most widely misused dash because people employ it for all sorts of purposes, although it is meant only for hyphenating words or creating line breaks.

The Minus Sign –
The minus sign is slightly longer than the hyphen, usually the same length as the en dash. Obviously one uses the hyphen in mathematical formulas and equations. The minus sign is usually designed to be the same length as the plus and equals signs. In most fonts these are usually monospaced along with the numbers for ease when being used in tabular formats.

The Em Dash —
As a rule, the em dash is twice as long as the en dash. This dash is the length if the capital M in any particular font. The em dash is used in much the way a colon or set of parentheses is used: it can show an abrupt change in thought or be used where a period is too strong and a comma too weak. An em dash should never be used with spaces on either side although, clearly, many people are unaware of this rule.


  thanks to The Cartoonist

 11:46 AM - link


Mainstream Media and Bloggers

We don't care if you read our web logs.

The difference, Matt, is that we are independent actors, not part of a small set of multi-billion dollar corporations. The difference is that we are not under the constraints of making a 15% profit. The difference is that we are a distributed information system, whereas MSM is like a set of stand-alone mainframes. The difference is that we can say what we damn well please.

If we were the mainstream media (perhaps better thought of as corporate media), we would care if you threatened to stop reading us. Because although we might be professional news people, we would have the misfortune to be working for corporations that are mainly be about making money.

We would be ordered to try to avoid saying anything too controversial (and I don't mean "Crossfire" controversial), because we would be calculating what would bring in 15% profits per annum on our operating capital. Would hours and hours of television "reportage" and discussion of Michael Jackson or of Terri Schiavo or Scott Peterson (remember?) bring in viewers and advertising dollars? Then that is what we would be giving the public. Bread and circuses.

Would giving airtime to Iraq, where we Americans have 138,000 troops and are spending $300 billion that we don't have, be too depressing to bring in the audience and advertising and the 15% profit? Then we would dump it in favor of bread and circuses. We'd dump Afghanistan as a story even faster, since there are "only" 17,000 US troops in that country, and it is only a place where Ben Laden may be hiding out and from which the US was struck on 9/11, leaving 3,000 dead and the Pentagon and World Trade Center smouldering.


 11:36 AM - link


A.G. Rizzoli

It was only in 1935 that Rizzoli began illustrating his utopian visions. Over the next decade he ‘produced a body of spectacular architectural renderings, in grand Beaux-Arts style.’ These were done in coloured ink on rag paper, and followed an inscrutably elaborate plan for a notional locale Rizzoli termed YTTE, an acronym for the phrase ‘Yield To Total Elation.’ In many cases, the drawings were also intended as ‘symbolic portrayals’ of family-members, neighbours, or acqauintances.


 11:31 AM - link


Tomgram: Constantino on our Black-and-Blue World

We live under one sky -- and the sweep of a past painted from the palette of a bruise.

Until the 20th century, pale was the pigment of wealth and privilege. To be called blue-blooded was to be recognized as a member of the aristocracy: those who did no manual labor and as a consequence possessed skin pallid enough for blue-tinged veins to show through.

Work for the aristocracy occurs once in a blue moon, which is close to never, if ever. Why work when you can own the labor of others? Or own others.

"Economic Section: Sales of Animals," announces an ad in Havana, Cuba in 1839. For sale, for the sum of 500 pesos, "a Creole negro woman, young, healthy, and without blemishes" along with "a handsome horse of fine breeding, six spans and three inches."

"Leeches - superior quality, just arrived from the peninsula," goes a smaller advertisement -- under the heading, "Domestic goods for hire." Preceding the announcement for segmented worms, another commodity is marketed: "Negro women for service . . . and for any work."[1]

Blue is the swelling, limitless expanse -- the ocean on which Tacuabe travels on his way to France. The year is 1834 and the cavalry of the Uruguayan General Fructuoso Rivera has just completed their civilizing operation with high efficiency -- not one Indian remains alive in Uruguay.


 11:25 AM - link


Justine Cooper

Australian artist, Justine Cooper premieres her recent series of large format photographs and video. Over the course of a year she captured the behind the scenes storage areas of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Using a vintage wood 4x5 camera, Cooper shares rare glimpses into their massive housed collections and reveals a trail of scientific desire that reaches back into the 19th century and across the 4 corners of the Earth.


  thanks to Riley Dog

 11:21 AM - link

the pope

The German Shepherd and the Salvadoran Pastor

I have to disagree with someone I rarely disagree with. A few days ago, Max Sawicky cautioned people talking and writing about the new pope to "lay off the German/Nazi/Inquisition bullcrap" and then, the next day, to avoid "near-hysterical attacks that dwell on his youth in Nazi Germany.". From a practical political standpoint that may be wise. It doesn't pay to antagonize people unnecessarily. It's also a matter of simple honesty and fairness. The way some people use it, the "Nazi" epithet suggests anti-Semitism or fascist sympathies that the former Cardinal Ratzinger shows no indication of having, or ever having had. Throwing around that kind of insult is not just politically stupid, it's wrong, and if all Max means is stop the cheap shots, I'd agree. Ratzi's no Nazi.

Nevertheless, I think talking about the pope's past is -- from a moral, if not a political standpoint -- not only fair, but essential, because the way he interprets that experience says a lot about the direction the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is moving in, and why so many people, inside and outside the Church, are worried about it. Some conversation about this topic has been going on in the comments of two previous posts, and so I apologize if this is somewhat repetitive, but it's something I need to expand on.


 11:14 AM - link

candid camera

That is a Mamiya Super 23 that has had it's rangefinder removed. Last fall, before all this madness with FSU rangefinders, I picked up a 65mm lens (28mm equivalent) and turned the Super 23 into a street camera. With all the modifications I made to this body, I called it the Frankencamera. I wrote about it here. Then the Zorki and the FED 2 arrived and the Frankencamera was neglected.

Last Tuesday night I was possesed by the spirit of Dr. Erich Salomon (and here) and his Ermanox. He was the original candid photographer and his Ermanox predates the Leica although the Leica quickly replaced the Ermanox for this kind of photography. I've loved the picture of Dr. Salomon with his Ermanox held at waist level, with no viewfinder, and his free hand holding a cable release, for some time.

The Mamiya 65mm is slower (f6.3) than the Ermanox but my film is faster. In the spirit of the Ermanox I removed the hand grip and viewfinder and put on a cable release. With a lens this wide I can just point the camera. I removed the Pilot light meter I had on the Frankencamera originally and added the little Sekonic. I loaded it up with Fuji NPZ 800 in anticipation of taking pictures of Zoe's surprise birthday party. Unfortunately, the light was a little low and I ended up using the Brownie Hawkey Flash Model. The flashbulbs were well received. ("Jesuschrist! I can't see!" and "What's that smell?") I only had Fuji NPH 400 so I hope everything isn't overexposed. I still have a couple of shots left on the roll.

Here is an ad for the Ermanox from my August, 1927, issue of American Photography.


I still need to shoot the roll in the Frankencamera. Maybe this weekend. I also need to recover the Frankencamera. After recovering the Isollete and FED I'm ready to tackle the Frankencamera. It's covering has always not been attached very well. The camera came without a nameplate. I've wrestled with what to do and finally thought of a simple solution. I measured the shape on the camera, drew it in a CAD program, printed it out, and then glued it on with rubber cement.

Now I need to see it Aki will sell me a sheet of dark brown crocodile.

 11:03 AM - link


The atheist
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explains why God is a delusion, religion is a virus, and America has slipped back into the Dark Ages.

Some scientists say that removing religion or God from their life would leave it meaningless, that it's God that gives meaning to life.

"Unweaving the Rainbow" specifically attacks the idea that a materialist, mechanist, naturalistic worldview makes life seem meaningless. Quite the contrary, the scientific worldview is a poetic worldview, it is almost a transcendental worldview. We are amazingly privileged to be born at all and to be granted a few decades -- before we die forever -- in which we can understand, appreciate and enjoy the universe. And those of us fortunate enough to be living today are even more privileged than those of earlier times. We have the benefit of those earlier centuries of scientific exploration. Through no talent of our own, we have the privilege of knowing far more than past centuries. Aristotle would be blown away by what any schoolchild could tell him today. That's the kind of privileged century in which we live. That's what gives my life meaning. And the fact that my life is finite, and that it's the only life I've got, makes me all the more eager to get up each morning and set about the business of understanding more about the world into which I am so privileged to have been born.


 10:19 AM - link


We finally finished the storage shed inside the garage Wednesday and then collapsed. I also had a surprise birthday party for Zoe Wednesday amidst the chaos. So things are still a little slow here. But I did get my pinhole pictures back that I took on Sunday for..

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

Here is my submission...

I'm image #1034 on page 49.

I used the Frankencamera for taking the pinhole picture.

I'm still getting flare when there is a strong light. The only thing that has worked is a jury rigged lens shade. I guess I will need to redo the pinhole mount to include a lens shade. I guess that would actually be a pinhole shade.

 10:11 AM - link