Friday, February 20, 2009



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Gas Prices, Gas Gouging, Peak Oil, Elasticity, Supply Demand

The Smashing Pumkins "Zero"


Never let on that you know what's coming.

---- "Saved by Zero" by: "Fixx"


While I intend to concentrate this audio column on "dealing" with society as it finds a new equilibrium in an energy impoverished landscape, I should point you to some resources for information about peak oil.

There are books, blogs, mailing lists, podcasts, movies which can serve to persuade you that the world as we know it "is" coming to an end. All of these information resources will do that and more.

Mind you, I took a longer perspective and since we'll take about 250 years to go through all the oil (and after 150 years we're about halfway through all the oil there is, [but there's going to be a whole lot more people after the shrinking puddle of oil that's left,]) I figured that we weren't going to disappear gently into that long goodnight quite so easily as that.

Some distopians would have you believe in a "Mad Max" scenario, [ ] others would point to "Mullah Omar and his merry bunch of murderers" [ ] as the way that things were going to go down, but that's just such a stupid waste that I can just dispense with it.

We aren't going to suddenly forget how to read or write and we aren't going to all become microcephalic imbeciles overnight.

---- "Return To Zero" by: "TAPKAE"


This must perforce be a recapitulation of my own journey to awareness.

It all started with some rumblings I'd heard about from an accountant regarding long term investing and why 30 years was the longest term they gave for depreciating assets.

From that thoroughly dull and bo-o-ring introduction to the subject came the realization that John D. Rockerfeller had made all of his fortune exploiting the oil in Pennsylvania and then Texas/Oklahoma. (Standard Oil lasted until 1920 before it got broken up because ol' John D. was a ruthess bastard and ran his business like it too...)

Unlike the causes of the First World War, which had to do European marketing rights for Silesian pigs, "I kid you not," the second world war happened mostly over oil.

And the United States had a lot of it and nobody else did. But that didn't last long. War burns through a few billion barrels of the stuff.

The British had always enjoyed screwing with the boundaries of countries within their possessions. If things were running left to right, they set the national borders up and down.

Like they did to the Turks remnants of the Ottaman Empire, the Kurds, the Sunni, the Shiaa in Mesopotmia (which covered Turkey, Iraq and Iran,), the factions in India (which took an extremely nasty, bloody civil war to partition themselves into Pakistan, India and Bangladesh,) Afghanistan, which is at best a loose amalgam or warring tribal areas, and the pattern is repeated all over Africa and in the Pacific.).

After the second world war, the United States and Great Britain had deposed the rightfully elected but intelligent, left-leaning "Mohammad Mosaddeq" [ ] in 1953, the year I was born, in order to put up the puppet potentate known as "Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi" [ ] so Aramco could get at the oil reserves in the middle, I hadn't heard bugger all about anybody extracting any oil out of Pennsylvania ground.

That was because it was cheaper to suck it out of the sand in Iran , Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and ship it all those thousands of miles in the largest ships ever built that to try to suck any more oil out of Pensylvania.

Then "M. K. Hubbert" [ ] working for Shell Oil in Texas made some predictions aqbout when he'd be able to retire. He did some "back of the envelope" [ ] and came up with a peak oil for Texas in 1972.

So if you're wondering why we're supporting Israel and Saudi Arabia, fighting in Iraq, and paying pennies on the dollar to keep the Nigerians government as corrupt as it is, its because of access to oil.

That lack of oil is the reason we don't give a crap about Zimbabwe, Mugabe, Tsvangirai, a starving populace or an economy in absolute free fall with the Zimbabwean dollar being backed by Mugabe's fillings.

US citizens might make some righteous noises but, on the face of the actions the American government takes throughout the world, we aren't very nice, and therefore, we aren't very popular.

---- "Glass" by: "???" http://???.html

We got PSAs:


Campus Safety urges students, faculty and staff to sign up for text alerts, online @

This will be used to inform students, faculty and staff in an emergency.

This was useful last year in the bomb scare.

To sign up, students must know their Spirit ID # (Bring their Saint Peter's College ID.)


Here's a proper, honest to goodness, real promo. :-)



We've also got some cross promotion going with the web version of St. Peter College's own "Pauw Wow".

The perpetually available and comment capturing web version is "growing on" as opposed to the occasional "Dead Tree" edition which can only capture "a moment in time" for a minority of the news competing for a scarce resource, space with anything else on a fixed number of pages.

As Liebnitz famously once said: "The 'Power of the Press' belongs to those who own one."

But as anyone who can read will attest, the limitations of "that" business model are slowly bleeding to death all of the owners of the "dead tree" press.

The future of the press lies on-line with the internet mixing media according to their appropriateness to whatever is being reported.

From "Twitter" to IM, to e-mail, to FaceBook to Podcasts, to web-radio, to streaming content, to PDFs, to vodcasts, to YouTube, to MP3s, to app mash-ups, to whatever's next, the internet is emerging as the clear winner of the media wars.

So log on to and grow with the media.

---- "A Moment In The Glass" by: "Lo-Fez Beagle Chowder"

Synthesis Part Deux

So now that you understand who's what, what's what, where's what, when's what and why's what, how about some other sources so you can compare with the other nuts out there who are still at the "Chicken Little" stage of discovery.

Most of the sources are easily found online. (When you have something this spectacularly, sensationally scary you want to be heard.)

The problem is that peak oil is an economic fact. Its basically just a story of commodity depletion and the turn over of the economy as it adjusts to the new reality.

The economy has done this for thousands of years, through every supposed revolution in energy source, from canine, to bovine, to equine, to avian, to cetacian, to petroleum, to hydrolic, to hydro-electric, to electric, to nuclear, to termo-nuclear from afar a.k.a. solar.

We have gone through all sorts of "revolutions" and at a meta-level they have all led to that most dreaded thing in the human condition: change.

Google knows all so go and google "peak oil".

Don't worry about the debunkers.

They're just arguing about the actual timing,

Or worse, they're saying that the world is never going to run out of oil and denying the evidence and the lessons that came from Pennsylvania, Texas, Prudoe Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea oil fields, the Western US continental shelf, Venezuala, Nigeria, Iran and Iraq.

---- "Koyaanisqatsi" by: "Philip Glass Ensemble"


So you've just been exposed to some more information about peak oil from the soothsayers of suffering, the diviners of doom, the predictors of pain, the dismal augurers.

No wonder I don't want to go there.

Besides we have about a hundred years to affetuate the changes we need to enact to make the world a livable place without using any oil.

In order to do it right, we need to start now, but we can take baby stept, dudes and dudettes, baby steps.

We can make mistakes and correct them as we go, rather than hurtling full speed towards either a brick wall or a precipice.

---- "Organic" by: "Philip Glass Ensemble"


The show notes, incuding the complete text of this episode, and any and all links to the artists featured, are on a server ... somewhere.

And this show is also being podcast in m4a format, which means that it you use a compatible player, like iTunes, you get the content divided up into chapters with images and "hot links" to the the web, on the topic of the chapter or to accompany the music.

You can send me feed back. suggestions, or just some sign that there's anybody actually outside the studio.

Address email to charles at

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