Saturday, August 27, 2011

Out of sight, out of mind, out of luck

Pilot finds oil bubbling up at Deepwater Horizon well again; BP reports no leaks.

Another link from Mr. Anonymous ...

 The crude truth

He suggests that ...

"Here is the salient point with the Horizon field; the seabed is entirely fractured below. There is nothing - no conceptual barrier or vessel - to contain the natural ebbing and flowing of fluids, now after we've rattled the ocean bottom with our explosions; where pressure, primary flow patterns shift and change with even the subtlest tectonic movements."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Skyscraper Mania

Though I'm a proponent of 'size doesn't matter,' here's a look at the Asian variation of the Edifice Complex. Otherwise known as "Mine is bigger" ...

Asian Skyscraper Mania

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Game up for Gaddafi?

More digital satire from the bad boys in Taiwan ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fossil fuel withdrawal

The rise of industrialization is largely thanks to cheap fossil fuel. As I've said, it's as if our civilization discovered massive caves filled with batteries -- and for the next 200 years built an infrastructure plugging into that "free" energy.

To quote the pessimistic Mr. Anonymous ...

"The age of fossil fuel powered a meteoric rise in consumption, invention for consumption, and consumption for consumption's sake. Literally all aspects of our lives are contingent on the availability of inexpensive, concentrated, stable and readily transportable energy that it provides.

Our American mythology dictates that there are no practical limits to growth or consumption. However, confirmed by independent geologists, beginning with King Hubbert decades past, the life of an oil field has predictable patterns.

Further, time lines are finite. Touted technical 'innovations' (horizontal drilling, multiple drill heads, 'pumping') have only extracted reserves faster, often exhausting reservoir pressures, destabilizing strata, and leaving more oil trapped in the ground.

Mexico's aging jewel, Cantrell, is dying - with Mexico an importer in 2 years. (In '08 the US imported 11% of its supply from Mexico.)

The North Sea is spent. The UK has literally run out of national assets.

Saudi production figures have proven themselves over time a flexible fiction.

The House of Saud and Aramco are doing silly, desperate things at Khurais and South Ghawar and talk of leaving reserves in the ground for future princely generations.

As we're about to divine, without inexpensive, concentrated, stable and readily transportable energy, everything changes.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Ground Control to Major Eagghhhhhhhhhh

Awhile back, the Soviets had a problem with junkie cosmonauts. Today, America faces its own problem -- a wave of astronaut suicides.

This just in from Wired ...

Astronaut Suicides

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Irony of Democracy

Years ago when I was a pimple-faced teen, I read a book by Thomas R. Dye and Harmon Zeigler called The Irony of Democracy. There’s no summary online, so this is from memory – and hopefully not a distortion.

The book’s core argument, as I recall, was that "democracy" in the United States was really a consensus of America’s elite – or one faction of that elite. Specifically, (at least in the 1960s) the federal government served the interests of the poor, old, disenfranchised and downtrodden with things like Welfare and Social Security, minimum wage and OSHA laws and various other safety nets and impediments to money power. The huddled masses had little to do with it. Social justice – such as we had -- came from the people in the mansions, not the “People” in the streets. Hence, the “irony” of our nation’s brand of democracy.

Basically, FDR and others like him came to the conclusion that – in a laissez faire set-up, Capitalism would function like a game of Monopoly. There’d be a handful of winners and millions of losers. Those losers would ultimately rise up in one big commie revolution. That would be bad. The New Deal and the Great Society would be better. 

Obviously, the authors gave a nod to the fact that one faction of America’s elite has unflinchingly maintained that FDR should burn in hell.

Today, we may be experiencing the evaporation of the elite consensus they were talking about. There’s the occasional George Soros, but not enough to tilt the game anymore.

Quote of the Week

“Any organization created out of fear must create fear
in order to survive.”
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz— Bill Hicks

Trouble in Paradise

WSJ opines about the three-card monte game on the Continent. In a nutshell, the Euro is Eurotrash.

The money quote ...

'... Municipalities across Europe - lured into what are essentially teaser-rate loans denominated in Swiss francs - are about to face their resets. Not just a few bps, the soaring franc means rates currently around 4% will jump well into the double digits, perhaps to more than 50%. The usual steps: lawsuits, transfer of toxic debt to a "bad bank," special taxes ... are under consideration to deal with the issue...'

Satan's European Vacation

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Age of Icarus

Review (and philosophical meditation) of Beautiful Vagabonds, a bird-brained summer group show at Yancey Richardson.

Money quote ...

"... As featherless bipeds, we’ve been haunted by avian myths and envied the flights of creatures, but birds have now been sadly neglected and bypassed in the age of jet travel, their status further diminished by their urban cousins, the flying vermin of city parks along with their skinned and headless counterparts, that come saran-wrapped in supermarkets, their flightless bodies, fully-grounded..."

Bird is the Word

Pepe Escobar: The Big Gaddafi

Gaddafi as "The Dude" from "The Big Lebowski." Personally, if I had to compare him to a Coen Brothers' character, I'd go with the Biker from Hell from "Raising Arizona." But it's an interesting take.

Money quote ...

"... It's late night in Tripoli and The Big Gaddafi is sipping a White Russian, smoking some prime Maghreb produce and tuning in to a bank of plasma TVs in his tent at the Bab al-Aziziyah fortress. No luscious Ukrainian nurse could possibly appease his restless soul.

He stares in disbelief at the narrative unrolling in the digital Western alphabet soup known as "news"; they swear Muammar Gaddafi is "besieged", "exhausted", "looking for a way out", "preparing to flee" (to Tunisia) and it's "only a matter of time" before his regime "collapses".

All this because a bunch of barbarian Bedouins backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombs had decided to pee on his carpet..."

The Gaddafi Look

Thursday, August 18, 2011

IBM unveils chip that mimics the human brain

"Mimics," of course. "Mimics." There's nothing to fear ...

Here's the link:

Brain 2.0

Odd echo of Kubrick's 2001 when a BBC Interviewer described the capabilities of the HAL 9000 ...

BBC Interviewer: The sixth member of the Discovery crew was not concerned about the problems of hibernation, for he was the latest result in machine intelligence: The H.-A.-L. 9000 computer, which can reproduce, though some experts still prefer to use the word mimic, most of the activities of the human brain, and with incalculably greater speed and reliability. We next spoke with the H.-A.-L. 9000 computer, whom we learned one addresses as "Hal."

Bird is the Word