Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Obama; the sellout continues apace

Napolitano backs security tech - USATODAY.com

Gov. Janet Napolitano — President-elect Barack Obama's pick to run the Homeland Security Department — has strongly advocated using advanced security technology as a law enforcement tool, drawing praise from police and raising concern among civil liberties groups that warn about privacy invasion.

As Arizona's Democratic governor since 2003, Napolitano has:

• Pushed state police to use cameras that scan license plates of moving cars to find vehicles that are stolen or linked to a criminal suspect.

• Promoted "face-identification" technology that could help surveillance cameras find wanted people by comparing someone's face with a photo database of suspects.

• Proposed an optional state ID for legal citizens only that features a radio-frequency chip to allow authorities to read the card. State lawmakers blocked the effort this year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Krugman on State and Local Panic

Read "Fifty Herbert Hoovers" in full at the NYT.

"No modern American president would repeat the fiscal mistake of 1932, in which the federal government tried to balance its budget in the face of a severe recession. The Obama administration will put deficit concerns on hold while it fights the economic crisis......state and local government revenues are plunging along with the economy — and unlike the federal government, lower-level governments can’t borrow their way through the crisis. Partly that’s because these governments, unlike the feds, are subject to balanced-budget rules. But even if they weren’t, running temporary deficits would be difficult. Investors, driven by fear, are refusing to buy anything except federal debt, and those states that can borrow at all are being forced to pay punitive interest rates.
What can be done? Ted Strickland, the governor of Ohio, is pushing for federal aid to the states on three fronts: help for the neediest, in the form of funding for food stamps and Medicaid; federal funding of state- and local-level infrastructure projects; and federal aid to education. That sounds right — and if the numbers Mr. Strickland proposes are huge, so is the crisis.

And once the crisis is behind us, we should rethink the way we pay for key public services.

As a nation, we don’t believe that our fellow citizens should go without essential health care. Why, then, does a large share of funding for Medicaid come from state governments, which are forced to cut the program precisely when it’s needed most?

An educated population is a national resource. Why, then, is basic education mainly paid for by local governments, which are forced to neglect the next generation every time the economy hits a rough patch?

And why should investments in infrastructure, which will serve the nation for decades, be at the mercy of short-run fluctuations in local budgets?

That’s for later. The priority right now is to fight off the attack of the 50 Herbert Hoovers, and make sure that the fiscal problems of the states don’t make the economic crisis even worse."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Long On Corn...Obama appoints Vilsick to Ag Dept.

TheHill.com - Obama’s ethanol dream team Yup, a rabidly anti-gay preacher at is inauguration wasn't enough for one day; Obama had to add yet another corn-based ethanol believer to head the Ag department. Get long corn, get short the climate, the environment, and feeding the hungry.

Rick Warren; Obama's Biggest Sellout Yet

John Aravosis at America Blog has a good rundown (with plentiful links) of all the people Obama sold out by selecting Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation. Basically its a list of the folks most responsible for his electoral success, the liberal blogosphere. This is very close to final straw for those of us who support equal rights for gays, and a woman's right to choose.

Goldman Sachs takes bailout while offshoring profits

And we won't bailout the car companies!

Excerpted from Bloomberg

By Christine Harper

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which got $10 billion and debt guarantees from the U.S. government in October, expects to pay $14 million in taxes worldwide for 2008 compared with $6 billion in 2007.

The company’s effective income tax rate dropped to 1 percent from 34.1 percent, New York-based Goldman Sachs said today in a statement. The firm reported a $2.3 billion profit for the year after paying $10.9 billion in employee compensation and benefits.

Goldman Sachs, which today reported its first quarterly loss since going public in 1999, lowered its rate with more tax credits as a percentage of earnings and because of “changes in geographic earnings mix,” the company said.

The rate decline looks “a little extreme,” said Robert Willens, president and chief executive officer of tax and accounting advisory firm Robert Willens LLC.

“I was definitely taken aback,” Willens said. “Clearly they have taken steps to ensure that a lot of their income is earned in lower-tax jurisdictions.”

U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who serves on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said steps by Goldman Sachs and other banks shifting income to countries with lower taxes is cause for concern.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Secret Service Won't Even Take a Shoe for the Guy!

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Shoes thrown at Bush on Iraq trip:

"In the middle of the news conference with Mr Maliki, Iraqi television journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi stood up and shouted 'this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog,' before hurling a shoe at Mr Bush which narrowly missed him.

Showing the soles of shoes to someone is a sign of contempt in Arab culture.

With his second shoe, which the president also managed to dodge, Mr Zaidi said: 'This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.'"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How could you NOT post this!

And I gotta love the R93 top light choice!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Boots on the Ground!

Imagine a government run by competent people! (Thanks TPM!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Republican Wealth Redistribution

Ian Welsh, over at Firedoglake, has a rather long post that is well worth the read but these three graphs really tell you all you need to know about the Regan Revolution, Trickle Down versus Trickle Up, and why the folks who really like to redistribute the wealth are the Republicans! (Hmm, in just how many ways is 2008 a lot like 1928?)









Monday, October 27, 2008

We Are All Bankers Now!

From Bloomberg

`This is just unprecedented,'' said BMO Capital Markets analyst Peter Winter. ``What the government has said is that you can't let the financial system fail, and if this doesn't work they'll come up with another plan.''

The capital infusions come as governments worldwide do all they can to ensure the stability of banks. Kuwait's central bank said it will guarantee deposits at Gulf Bank KSC, which remains solvent after clients defaulted on currency derivatives contracts, the state-run Kuwait News Agency reported. Paulson already gave $125 billion to nine of the biggest U.S. lenders."

Following are banks that have announced participation in the
Treasury program. Some company names have been shortened for
space:

FIRST ROUND
Citgroup $25 billion
Wells Fargo $25 billion
JPMorgan Chase $25 billion
Bank of America $15 billion
Merrill Lynch $10 billion
Goldman Sachs $10 billion
Morgan Stanley $10 billion
Bank of New York $3.0 billion
State Street $2.0 billion
TOTAL $125 billion

SECOND ROUND
PNC $7.7 billion
Capital One $3.6 billion
SunTrust $3.5 billion
Regions Financial $3.5 billion
Fifth Third $3.4 billion
BB&T $3.1 billion
KeyCorp $2.5 billion
Comerica $2.25 billion
Northern Trust $1.5 billion
Huntington $1.4 billion
First Horizon $866 million
City National $395 million
Valley National $330 million
Washington Federal $230 million
UCBH Holdings $298 million
First Niagara $186 million
Old National $150 million*
HF Financial $25 million
Redding Bank $17 million
Provident --**
TOTAL $34.93 billion (35.18)


*Old National hasn't decided whether to participate.
**Provident didn't say how much it expects.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Speaking of Bubbles

My good bud S and I decided to try our hand at making beer last night. It was quite a process. Bought a kit, then got the ingredients for a clone of Geary's Pale Ale. Three hours later with no major disasters it was into the 5 gallon pale for the initial fermentation. Went home to dinner, then a few hours later S called to say there was not yet any bubbling in the air lock. BUMMER. But woke up this morning to receive this lovely video in email!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Merrill Buyout: Thain and Montag might make $32,800/hr.

OK, the damage was done long before these jokers got hired but come on!

Between the two of them they put in 10 months work, lets be kind and say they worked 70 hour weeks (I doubt it!). Thain then would have around 2800 hours into the company and Montag would have aroundy 280 hours. That would be about 47 million for 3080 hours or $15,260 per hour! It appears that is on top of 54 million the two stand to collect in bonus pay. That brings us up to about $32,800 per hour per man! There may be additional stock values that each will receive, the whole article is worth a read! (Some of this value is based on the future value of Bank of America's share price but the calculations provided are based on its current price and the article is not entirely clear (or I may misuderstand it) if any of the 54 million is included in the 47 million figure.)


Also note that previously Thain was C.O.O. to Henry Paulson's C.E.O. at Goldman. Treasury Secretary Paulson's involvment in the brief and "successful" talks between Merrill and Bank of America most likely helped Thain to ink this deal. Will Paulson be working at BOA next year? Inquiring minds want to know.

Excerpts from Jonathan Keehner and Bradley Keoun writing for Bloomberg.com: Worldwide follow.

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Merrill Lynch & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Thain and trading-division head Thomas Montag may reap payouts totaling more than $47 million if they leave or are given lesser roles after Bank of America Corp. buys the firm.

Thain, hired last December following the ouster of Stan O'Neal, stands to collect about $11 million on the vesting of free shares if he doesn't stay after the sale, said Graef Crystal, a Santa Rosa, California-based compensation consultant. Montag, who joined in August and is a former colleague of Thain's from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., would get $30 million in accelerated stock awards and at least $6.4 million in options if he's dismissed or his duties are diminished after a change of control, Crystal said.

Snip

Since Dec. 1 of last year, Thain's first day, the shares have fallen about 70 percent, as writedowns on devalued mortgage holdings eroded the company's financial results.

Snip

Any payouts triggered by a change in control are on top of a $15 million signing bonus awarded to Thain last December and a guaranteed $39 million bonus Montag is due to get in January for his work in 2008.

Snip

``This isn't necessarily the outcome I would have expected when I took this job,'' Thain said. He said his future role at the combined company hasn't been decided.

Snip

(THAIN) was president and chief operating officer at New York-based Goldman, where he served under then-CEO Henry Paulson. Now U.S. Treasury secretary, Paulson helped to lead a weekend of discussions during which Bank of America initially weighed a bid for Lehman.

Thain said Merrill's talks with Bank of America began on the morning of Sept. 13. The deal was done by nightfall the next day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Anne Kilkenny with a bird's eye view of Palin from Wassilla

Heard a great little interview with Anne Kilkenny on NPR yesterday. She really didn't expect her email to go viral and was getting thousands of emails and a barrage of phone calls for interviews from the likes of the Times, NBC, etc. She found it quite funny.

Here is that email.

Dear friends,

So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .

Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in common: their gender and their good looks. :)

You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .

Thanks,
Anne

ABOUT SARAH PALIN

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin's kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative". During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man's ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork".

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State's lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there's a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.

CLAIM VS FACT
*"Hockey mom": true for a few years.

*"PTA mom": true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since.

*"NRA supporter": absolutely true

*social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconsitutional).

*pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.

*"Pro-life": mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation

*"Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.

*political maverick: not at all

*gutsy: absolutely!

*open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.

*has a developed philosophy of public policy: no

*"a Greenie": no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.

*fiscal conservative: not by my definition!

*pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.

*pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents

*pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history.

*pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

CAVEATS
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin's selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90's.

Anne Kilkenny
August 31, 2008

Biden sums up the GOP campaign

What do you talk about when you can't explain 4 years of failure?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Will `Ace' McCain Flame Out Again?

Too good not to quote extensively.

Over the years he's played many roles and worn many titles, including Navy aviator, prisoner of war, hero, congressman, U.S. senator, Washington insider, maverick outsider and, now, presidential candidate. But the one title of which few are aware is that of "service ace."

John Sidney McCain III is known among many of his Vietnam flight buddies as "Ace" McCain. This title has not been bestowed upon McCain because he destroyed five enemy aircraft. On the contrary: It was five on our side -- in fact, five of his own. Since throwing his hat into the presidential ring, the fact that McCain was graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy nearly at the bottom of his class has been publicized. His star-crossed flying, on the other hand, remains unknown to most

Robert Timberg, author of The Nightingale's Song, a book about Annapolis graduates and their tours in Vietnam, wrote that McCain "learned to fly at Pensacola, though his performance was below par, at best good enough to get by. He liked flying, but didn't love it." Timberg counts himself a friend of McCain and has written a McCain biography.

It wasn't long after arriving in Pensacola that McCain racked up the first of his five crashes, beginning in 1958, on his way to becoming a "reverse ace." As told by Timberg, "McCain was practicing landings; his engine quit and he plunged into Corpus Christi Bay. Knocked unconscious by the impact, he came to as the plane settled to the bottom."

There was, however, no engine failure with the aircraft. According to one of McCain's former flight instructors, "The engine was removed from the aircraft that afternoon, mounted on a test stand and a new propeller installed. [It] was flushed with fresh water and started. It ran just fine. So the theory of engine failure was proven false."

The instructor added that McCain was "positively one of the weakest students to pass our way, and received consistently poor marks and a number of Dangerous Down grades assigned by more than one instructor. He had no real ability and was clearly out of his element in an airplane, and way over his head even as a junior naval officer."

The second of McCain's crashes occurred while he was deployed in the Mediterranean. "Flying too low over the Iberian Peninsula," reports Timberg, "he took out some power lines [reminiscent of the 1998 incident in which a Marine Corps jet sliced through the cables of a gondola at an Italian ski resort, killing 20] which led to a spate of newspaper stories in which he was predictably identified as the son of an admiral."

Crash three occurred when McCain was returning from flying a trainer solo to Philadelphia for an Army-Navy football game. According to Timberg, McCain radioed, "I've got a flameout." He went through the standard relight procedures three times. At one thousand feet, he ejected, landing on the deserted beach moments before the plane slammed into a clump of trees."

By 1967, McCain was ready for battle and assigned to the USS Forrestal as an A-4 Skyhawk pilot. While seated in the cockpit of his aircraft waiting for takeoff, a freak accident occurred when a rocket slammed into the exterior fuel tank of McCain's plane. Miraculously, McCain escaped from the burning aircraft, but dozens of his shipmates were killed and injured in the explosions that followed.

McCain's final downing came just three months later when his A-4 Skyhawk was hit by antiaircraft artillery over Truc Bach Lake near Hanoi, North Vietnam. McCain spent the next five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war and, upon return to the United States in 1973, like the other returning POWs, McCain became an instant hero. The POWs had been treated abominably, yet stood up to their torturers and were deserving of the accolades they received. But some questioned the number and types of medals bestowed upon "Ace" McCain, the son of the admiral commanding in the Pacific as well as the grandson of another admiral.

"McCain had roughly 20 hours in combat," explains Bill Bell, a veteran of Vietnam and chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs -- the first official U.S. representative in Vietnam since the 1973 fall of Saigon. "Since McCain got 28 medals," Bell continues, "that equals out to about a medal-and-a-half for each hour he spent in combat. There were infantry guys -- grunts on the ground -- who had more than 7,000 hours in combat and I can tell you that there were times and situations where I'm sure a prison cell would have looked pretty good to them by comparison. The question really is how many guys got that number of medals for not being shot down."

"John McCain," says another Navy pilot and acquaintance of that era, "was the kind of guy you wanted to room with -- not fly with. He was reckless, and that's critical when you start thinking about who's going to be the president," The old pilot laughs, and then continues: "But the Navy accident rate was cut in half the day John McCain was shot down."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

McCain; Why Settle for just 2nd Best?

Why settle for 2nd best when you can get 844th out of 899?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Has The Oil Bubble Finally Burst?

Click the graph below for a larger image.


A few observations but first understand that this chart is for USO. Its movements tend to reflect the movement in the price of a barrel of oil but the absolute value is not the same. (USO is currently at 102/share and oil is around 126/barrel.)
  1. Two long term bull trend lines (green and purple) remain intact, but the most recent bull trend (light blue) support has been significantly penetrated on strong volume.
  2. The support of the 20 and 50 day moving averages has failed and price is now below them. The 50 in particular had been prviding strong support during the most recent rise. The 20 average is moving downward, the 50 day is rounding, but prices are well above the 200 day average.
  3. This latest downward move was well predicted by a negative MACD divergence which I have indicated with black lines on the price and MACD chart. This divergence shows the move from the June 08 price peak to the July price peak was not confirmed by the action in MACD.
  4. I have also shown with black lines the same type of negative divergence that occurred from early December 07 to early January 08. In that instance prices simply consolidated their previous gains until the mid February bull breakout which started the most current bull trend line.
  5. We could be in a consolidation pattern again but notice that in the earlier divergence the 50 day moving average acted as support for the consolidation; in the current case it has been violated. Also notice that in the earlier divergence the volume was not unusual; in the current divergence we see volume starting to build in march 08 and very strong volume on the actual downtrend beginning in early July. Certainly the March to July volume appears speculative and not unlike volume patterns often associated with the final stages of a bubble (blow off tops).
  6. The four light blue bars are Fibonacci retracement levels from the beginning of the most recent trend line (February 08) to the current high in July. Price is sitting at 102.38 as I type, hovering just above support at 100.17, the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement level. Should this support fail the next Fibonacci support is 94.30 with a bit of technical support above that provided by the mid April high of 95, indicated by the gray line. The support at 102.38 appears crucial for the bull case. If it gets taken out the 50 day moving average will have turned down as well and the 200 day will likely have gone flat. We would also likely see the 20 day average move below the 50 day which would be very bearish technically.
  7. Points to watch on the way down: Notice how nicely the Fibonacci 61.8 % and mid March peak line up (another gray line.) That area should provide strong support. Finally notice how, should that fail, the Fibonacci 100% will likely be aligned with the 200 day average.
  8. Short term upside resistance for USO appears to be around 110. That will be the bulls target to once again establish control.
So has the bubble burst?
Not yet. This chart is still a correction within a bull market but for the first time this year short term speculators will likely find the bear case (AGAIN I SAID SHORT TERM) at least as attractive as is the bull. For those keeping score a $90 on USO probably means a barrel price around $110 and a $70 USO probably puts a barrel around $86.

What about fundamentals? There has never been a fundamental case for the degree of oil price rise we have seen. The only fundamental driver, IMHO, has beet he decline in the value of the dollar and that would put a barrel at perhaps the 60-80 range. People who argue that supply and demand have driven the price are, again IMHO, really confused; they think the market is pricing in now the pressures that oil might feel in 10 or 20 years; markets don't act that way, they don't think THAT far ahead. People however sometimes do so I think its fair to argue that PERCEPTION of a fundamental issue (in this case supply/demand,the peak oil scenario) has powered some of the bubble.

Lately reality has been making a bit of a comeback perception-wise. Demand is showing much less acceleration, (and in some cases actually decreasing), supply has had positive news of late, and the Iraq and Iran outlooks are perceived to be becoming more stable. Some governments and companies are making more serious noises about conservation and alternative sourcing. What would be the last shoe to drop if you follow fundamentals? I think that would be a world tightening of interest rates as the fear of inflation increases. The US being in the worst financial shape will likely be the last to tighten, but tighten it will and then the fear of recession will be the final excuse from the fundamentalists for the bursting of the bubble which the charts are already suggesting.

Bottom line: I am not a fan of fundamentals but the perception of them is significantly improved compared to say, January. I had said all along oil at 60 before 200. I will now add that I think 40 is very possible.

UPDATE: In the 4 hours since I posted USO has now closed around 100. (See item 6 above.) Upside resistance is now around 107.50. I actually expected a reaction back up to the 110 area before additional damage was done.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

$100 Billion/Yr in US Tax Cheats

An actual respectable report from the AP, how unusual these days, on very rich US tax cheaters.

GENEVA (AP) -- A U.S. Senate subcommittee accused banks in Switzerland and Liechtenstein of helping wealthy Americans evade billions in taxes each year, and urged the establishment of tougher laws to combat offshore tax havens around the world.

In a report released late Wednesday, the Senate subcommittee on investigations estimated that offshore abuses were costing U.S. taxpayers about $100 billion a year.

It recommended a range of reforms to squeeze tax cheats, including more stringent U.S. requirements for foreign banks and harsher penalties for financial institutions failing to provide the Internal Revenue Service with details on all accounts their American clients are holding.

"Tax havens are engaged in economic warfare against the United States and the honest, hardworking American taxpayer is losing," said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the subcommittee on investigations, which belongs to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

"The iron ring of secrecy around tax haven banks and their deceptive banking practices enable and encourage tax cheats to hide assets from the United States," the Michigan Democrat said. "Congress needs to enact strong penalties on tax haven banks that help U.S. taxpayers avoid paying taxes to Uncle Sam."

The panel's ranking Republican agreed.

"It is simply unacceptable that some individuals are using offshore tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions to shelter trillions of dollars from taxation, forcing working families to shoulder the burden," Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota said, adding that foreign banks were "exploiting gaping loopholes" in U.S. laws to act as "Al Capone safe houses for evading taxes."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The 4th Amendment: Gone But Not Forgotten

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Obama and McCain.............both McSame!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Its Starting Already (Rovians take over McSame's campaign)

Less than a week after the Rove operatives took over McSame's campaign we are now seeing the "public" at McSame's "public" speeches being selected/rejected. More to follow soon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

GITMO torture designed to illicit FALSE confessions

Why did we really institute policies to torture "detainees"? An interesting read from Scott Shane on GITMO torture in the NYT today sheds some light on that question.

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: “Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance.”

Lets recap:

1. The Chinese developed torturous "brainwashing" techniques during the Korean War and used them on American prisoners. This caused much concern, not just because of torture, but because it was successfully used to illicit FALSE CONFESSIONS. As John McCain's confession showed, those same techniques remained successful during the Viet Nam War.

2. The US Air Force did a study of those techniques in 1957.

3. Near the end of the Korean War the Air Force used that study to create SERE, a training program for military personnel (primarily pilots) for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.

4. In 02-03 SERE trainers went to GITMO to present to interrogators “the theory and application of the physical pressures utilized during our training.”

Did we really forget that the reasons those techniques were developed was to illicit FALSE confessions?

Certainly that seems highly unlikely. A significant part of the SERE training was resistance; learning how to resist torture when it was being used to illicit FALSE confessions. Surely the SERE trainers knew that when they went to GITMO to teach US interrogators the Chinese torture techniques. Just as surely those who tasked the SERE trainers to GITMO knew that as well.

These are not simply War Crimes; but the now obviously false claim that they were used to get actionable intelligence makes it clear that they are also crimes against American Democracy; High Crimes and Misdemeanors if you will.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FISA where the hell is Obama!

Somebody please burn this on Obama's retinas.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why Leak the Khan Bomb Design Now?

As you know from my previous posts on McBush and Iran, I am paying particular attention to possible propaganda efforts that the administration may put forth to preposition public opinion for an attack on Iran before the November elections.

With that in mind its interesting to note that Bush decided last Wednesday to echo a phrase he used repeatedly in creating the drumbeat to invade Iraq:
President Bush said Wednesday that if diplomacy fails to deter Iran from developing its nuclear program, then "all options are on the table."

Combine this with the recent release of information from unnamed "American and international investigators" regarding a possibly improved bomb design that Khan may have been responsible for. Why release information on Khan's bomb design now when it was originally discovered in 2005 (It was not until 2005 that officials of the I.A.E.A., which is based in Vienna, finally cracked the hard drives on the Khan computers recovered around the world.)?

The salient portion of David Sanger's piece in the NYT, at least with regards to my concern, is this:
Among the missiles that could carry the smaller weapon, according to some weapons experts, is the Iranian Shahab III, which is based on a North Korean design.

It is also surely no coincidence that Sanger includes the following snippet in his lead paragraph:
"....they have not been able to determine whether they were sold to Iran".....

One suspects that they were also unable to determine if the designs were sold to, I don't know, lets say Liechtenstein or to Brittney Spears for that matter. This is disappointing, Sanger was fairly independent during the run up to the Iraq invasion, lets hope he is not becoming this year's Judy Miller.

Three year old information suddenly leaking as Bush says all options are on the table, sound familiar to anyone?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tiger Woods...probably the most outstanding single-sport player ever.

That title is going a long way for me, Ali and Michael Jordan are certainly up there. But Tiger is, perhaps, only half way through his career.

Coming back on Friday to post a 30 on the back nine, 7 birdies, on what can only be considered a very difficult course in a major that always separates the men from the boys. But today, watching him play/struggle with significant pain from recent knee surgery, was an amazing event...regardless of tomorrow's outcome. The last two holes....

Bad drive on the 17th, buried in the the ruff, needing to hook around trees, hitting a shot that almost makes the green but ends in significant ruff just left of of the putting surface on a steep lie, he addresses the ball and catches a flyer towards a pin that is running downhill away from him, and boom, the magic happens again, one hop-hit the flag, and drop in for a miracle birdie. It was the first time I have ever seen Tiger laugh on the course, at least in a major! He was, I swear, actually embarrassed that the ball went in.

Some will call that shot luck, Tiger called it that in the clubhouse later, but even to be able to have that kind of luck requires incredible talent; perfect line, perfect intent, amazing concentration.

The pain in the left knee was obvious occasionally throughout the tourney but was more so today. After the amzaing birdie on 17 his caddy reached from the green down the hill to shake his hand, but what he really did was help pull Tiger up the slope to the green.



I had stopped watching for a while after the 9th when Tiger was, I think, 5 strokes back and had just tuned in again on the 17th. After the birdie he was one stroke back. The 18th is a challenging Par 5, you have to be long off the tee and then you are looking at about 230 over the pond to a devilish green, its a tin cup hole if ever there was one. Tiger crushed a fade to perfect position then pulled out a 5-Wood and hit a big fade the left him a big breaker down hill, perhaps 45 feet. The smart play, with a day left to play (Sunday...Tiger's day) still in front of him, questions in his mind (well probably not in his mind but in most other minds) as to his physical ability to play a final round, the smart shot was to lay up and play for birdie. Not today, not Tiger. He hit the 5 and the camera stayed on Tiger, the same intense face we see on every shot, eyes following the flight of the ball, and then, as it lands, the grimace of pain; a grimace that led to what could no doubt be anything else but gut-buckling pain, just so obviously a case of incredible mental discipline.

On the green he lines up the put, lining up WAY left of the pin, so far left that the NBC announcers are freaking out, he is just on top of a small ridge, he gives the ball a slight tap, lined up perhaps 25 degrees left of the cup, the ball picks up speed and then breaks about 8 feet over the last 20 feet to roll solidly into the center of the cup. A perfect read, a perfect stroke, nerves of absolute steel.

Tiger starts tomorrow one stroke ahead of a tight pack.

Anything can happen on Sunday at the US Open. Still, of the 13 times Tiger has held or tied the lead going into the final round of a major he has won every one. That statistic is unbelievable, it says it all; luck doesn't happen 13 out of 13 times. Don't bet against him.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dennis Kucinich, True American Patriot

Dennis Kucinich is the only presidential candidate to whom I have ever given a donation. L and I had traveled to a Kucinich gathering outside of Westport in 2004 to hear him speak. It was a lovely backyard affair, maybe 50 people in attendance. He was a wonderful speaker, not in rhetorical quality, but in his open and honest emotion, his passionate belief in peace, and his desire to take back the country from corporate dominance.

Last night Dennis stood on the floor of the House for almost 4.5 hours and called for the impeachment of GWB. The 35 Articles of Impeachment may be downloaded here. Kucinich's presentation was far-reaching, many will say too far, but for all true patriots, this was a moment that has long been awaited.; it is a first step towards righting the terrible assaults upon our Constitution and our electoral process that have been ongoing for the last seven years and that, sadly, have been largely ignored by Democrats and Republicans. It is a clear statement that there still remain at least a few people who are not willing to place personal safety above freedom or Presidential Politics above a sworn duty to defend the Constitution.

Today, almost 24 hours later, major newspapers seem to have considered this not to be news; most make only the briefest mention buried deep within the bowels of their cavernous websites. This is not surprising, the MSM shares heavy blame for failing to do any serious investigation of the issues the 35 Articles speak to.

More surprising is the general lack of attention being payed by liberal blogs that, for many years, were the only serious American media trying to unearth the truth and counter the spin of the Administration; TPM has posted only a copy of the AP article, FireDogLake and (most sadly for me) EmptyWheel and Digby have not touched it.

So what next? It appears that within two days, Pelosi will have to schedule debate on the issue (as a valid question of privilege). When Dennis's previous motion to impeach Cheney was debated an attempt to table failed (the Republicans thought they could have fun with it back in Nov. '07) and the Democrats called the question and referred it to the Judiciary Committee where it has been effectively buried (although Tammy Baldwin, Robert Wexler, and Luis Gutierrez have tried to take action on it.) (Breaking as I write, Nancy's lapdog, Steny, is already set to bury this in committee.)

No doubt Democrats will run away from this in droves; preferring to place electing Obama above protecting the Constitution. Lets be clear here, many of the Articles ARE offenses that rise to the level of impeachment and, if seriously and fully investigated, would almost certainly lead to the House impeaching the President. This makes an especially stark contrast as Dennis has stepped forward at a time that he is in a contested race to hold onto his seat. (This link is currently down and it is unclear at this time if the site is simply overloaded or if sabotage has been involved.)

This is all of a piece really, Dennis (and to a lesser degree Ron Paul) were the only candidates willing to speak the truth, both to power and to the American public, during the '08 Presidential Primaries and both were treated as jokes. I guess I have to admit it, by in large the US armed forces primarily now function as a private police for International Corporate government who run both our foreign and domestic policy. Regardless of the November elections, don't expect THAT to change easily!

Dennis Kucinich, A Real Democrat.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

40 Years On

Bobby Kennedy was assassinated 40 years ago today
it puts me in a mood...nostalgia, sadness, aching for hope, for an Amerika to become America once more.

Wondering

Can we overcome slow decay, ignoble rot

JFK 11/22/63 fifth grade for me, out of school early, quite a shock but then so was the missile crisis a little earlier, even at that tender age realizing the absurdity of hiding under our desks. (and a year later my parents, big Peter Sellers fans, unknowingly take me to Chicago to see Dr. Strangelove....Chill Wills riding the bomb!)

MLK 4/4/68 already resisting the war, memories of the Illinois Bureau of Investigation hassleing me in the high school cafeteria for wearing a Peace Sign armband, they were wondering what "commies" were creating the underground newspaper that flew through the school regularly - ripe with the smell of the mimeo machine that announced its presence.

"What is that, the tracks of the American Chicken?"
"Who are you, The Mod Squad?"


9/4/70 Bye, Bye, Baby Bye Bye. Freshman year in college, Janis is gone.

9/18/70 The Star Spangled Banner blaring from the dorm window mourns Jimi's passing.

7/3/71 The Trifecta, no more Lizard King.

Time passses 12/8/80 John Lennon, perhaps this is the ultimate absurdity/obscenity?

Can this violent nation, born to the gun, always believing in a doctrine of exceptionality, just stop grabbing?

Can we think for tomorrow?

Can we sacrifice for our future?

Yes we can?

More On McBush (pun intended)

This is an important read; Cockburn and the Independent, while oft vilified by the Right, have a pretty strong record on Iraq going back to pre-invasion days.

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control

Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors
By Patrick Cockburn
Thursday, 5 June 2008

I will include a few excerpts at the end of this post but do go and read the whole thing!

It is starting to look like one thing this blog will do is keep a running history on a Bush/Neocon/McCain confluence (I won't yet call it a conspiracy) that may well lead the US to attack or invade Iran as well as execute preposterous goings-on with Iraq. A few words about the confluence; the NeoCon dream of remaking the Middle East still burns brightly, at least in Dick Cheney's mind, Bush is growing desperate for something he can call victory in Iraq before he leaves office and will do all he can to make it harder for the next President to abandon our Imperialist Adventure, and McCain's only real hope of election is riding the wave of fresh aggression in Iraq and thus public support for continued misadventures in Iran. This latter point will create tremendous pressure from the Neo-Con wing of what is still called the Republican Party for that aggression to ocur.

So why do I feel this must be recorded? Well before the Iraq invasion I argued long and hard with many otherwise intelligent folk that the entire justification was bogus. The problem, as near as I could tell, was that nobody was paying much attention to the netherworld of blogs and foreign press. While I am tempted to think that could not happen today, nearly 7 years later, I actually think it could easily happen again. To some degree that is a reflection of my distrust of many Democrats in Congress. After all there have been no impeachments for radically impeachable offenses (and even now many Democrats are moving to forever codify unconstitutional spying by the Executive branch upon US citizens, another important read) It also reflects my somewhat skeptical feelings towards Obama regarding his still untested backbone. And finally, there has been no significant improvement in the MSM; they continue to be lazy and worthless for the most part.

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military "surge" began in January 2007. Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.

Mr Bush is determined to force the Iraqi government to sign the so-called "strategic alliance" without modifications, by the end of next month. But it is already being condemned by the Iranians and many Arabs as a continuing American attempt to dominate the region. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful and usually moderate Iranian leader, said yesterday that such a deal would create "a permanent occupation". He added: "The essence of this agreement is to turn the Iraqis into slaves of the Americans."


For now, all I can do is Hope We Don't Get fooled Again!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bombs Away

Well I really didn't see this Asia Times piece on attacking Iran before writing my previous post. The whole article is worth a read. (The senators mentioned are supposedly Feinstein and Lugar.)

"The George W Bush administration plans to launch an air strike against Iran within the next two months, an informed source tells Asia Times Online, echoing other reports that have surfaced in the media in the United States recently.

Two key US senators briefed on the attack planned to go public with their opposition to the move, according to the source, but their projected New York Times op-ed piece has yet to appear.

The source, a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community, speaking anonymously, said last week that the US plans an air strike against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The air strike would target the headquarters of the IRGC's elite Quds force. With an estimated strength of up to 90,000 fighters, the Quds' stated mission is to spread Iran's revolution of 1979 throughout the region."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Daddy Warbucks (Arming Iraq and Attacking Iran)

A week of so ago USA Today mentioned that, "Iraq began committing money to U.S. foreign military sales in December 2006 and by last May had $3 billion in an account dedicated to the program.

About $1.6 billion worth of contracts have already been delivered and another $1 billion is under contract, Benkert said. The remaining money hasn't been spent yet.

The United States also continues to support Iraq's security forces with U.S. tax dollars. The Pentagon budgeted $3 billion this fiscal year to equip and train Iraq's security forces."

Math wasn't my major but that seems like 6 billion of arms we will supply to that oh so stable government of Iraq. Gosh any chance of blow back on this one? (How many IED's were made from parts brokered by Rummy for the Reagan administration as a gift to Saddam? How many millions did Ronnie provide to the future Taliban in Afghanistan in the 80's?)

Invade a country for no good reason causing the death of a few hundred thousand people, then tell them they have to create their own democracy while privatizing the war and the "peace" for the profit of your good buddies, look to Iran; rinse and repeat.

And here's even more depressing news; more good citizens believe we should talk with Iran than believe in Evolution.

Why is that depressing? Answer after you contemplate the graphic below from a recent Gallup Poll.

 

 

With McBush beating the drums for attacking Iran this poll can only be taken as extremley bad news for Republicans (lord knows McBush's economic policies, and I use that term loosely, will be enough of a disaster for him.)

What can change the picture?

A serious strike on Iran before the Presidential elections, thats what. Its the Hail Mary for Mc Bush and GWB is just the lad to authorize it. (That's seriously bad news for ALL OF US!)

A snip from GWB commanding the troops, from Michael Abramowitz at the Post via Talking Points Memo:

During a videoconference with his national security team and generals, Sanchez writes, Bush launched into what he described as a "confused" pep talk:

"Kick ass!" he quotes the president as saying. "If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal."

"There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!"

Damn I miss Ike

Hell I even miss Goldwater! Even his granddaughter still has some common sense.

“‘I don’t know if [Barry Goldwater] would recognize the Republican Party today,’ Alison Goldwater Ross, a registered Democrat and granddaughter of the 1964 GOP presidential candidate, told The Huffington Post. ‘I’m sure if we were to raise his ashes from the Colorado River… he would be going, ‘What? This is not my vision. This is not my party.’”

(Please forgive the partial duplicate post below. Lycos has fallen and it can't get up. Their new webon interface is pretty spiffy for us HTML laymen put it seems to be missing a way to delete a broken post.)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Kurzweil Continued

P-man,over at Emergent Ink, is a good friend and I have enjoyed arguing with him for many years now; he's a strong thinker. He is also what I would call a Peak Oil Pessimist (although I am sure he would consider himself a realist, not a pessimist.) He has read and linked to my previous post on Kurzweil and solar energy, and I thank him for that. And he has posted a rejoinder to Kurzweil and solar that is well worth a read.

However I have a few bones to pick;

#1         P-man seems a bit too skeptical of Ray's prophecies.

That is to say my rating of the estimated prophet is a bit higher than P's.

 #2        (and somewhat more salient)  P-man is convinced that, even if the  growth rate Kurzweil predicts in solar pannel technology is believable, there won't be enough energy around to build those panels. (I think we can agree that we will be able to build those panels without using much if any petrolium products in the basic materials except of course  the energy to produce those materials.)

The problem with P's energy argument is this. What if, instead of being able to provide all our energy with solar, we can only provide 1%. And what if we dedicate 5% of that new energy to making more solar panels? Even if we only compound it monthly it will take a bit les than 32 months to reach the 100% solar -supplied goal. Lets say half of that new energy is used in scaling up manufacturing, we are still looking at a 5 year project. If Kurzweil is anywhere near correct in his projections we just need to start 5 or 10 years before oil runs out; still quite possible in my opinion!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kurzweil, Singularity, and Peak Oil (Oh My!)

Spinning off from my first entry at Da Stinct, I took a quick look at Ray Kurzweil and his thoughts on solar; an interesting cat no doubt.

 Well, we know he makes a damned fine electric piano, and as a futurist his predictions have been far better than most; nailing down the fall of the Soviet Union long before is was a glimmer in Ronnie's eye,predicting the explossion of the Internet was a pretty good call too.

 I suppose then Kurzweil is worth listening to.

  Here's Kurzweil on solar; "Here's what I mean: Today we produce 14 trillion (about 1013) watts of power, 78 percent of which comes from fossil fuels. We have, however, plenty of energy in our midst. About 1017 watts of sunlight fall on the earth, or roughly 10,000 times more energy than we regularly consume. Solar panels today do a poor job of capturing this energy because they are inefficient, expensive, heavy, and difficult to integrate with building materials. Today production of solar power costs on average $8 per watt, much more than other energy sources.

The economics of solar power are poised to change dramatically, however, as a new generation of solar panels made with nanomaterials comes of age. Developed by a series of venture-backed companies eagerly jockeying to disrupt that $1.9 trillion worldwide oil industry, these innovative panels are projected to drop in price within a few years. And whether or not any of the known businesses now developing them are successful, once we have full-scale molecular nanotechnology-based manufacturing, we'll be off to the races.

 At this point, energy will become an information technology dominated by massively parallel, computation-controlled molecular manufacturing processes. In 20 years, I believe solar panels will be as inexpensive as a penny per square meter. We will be able to place them on buildings and vehicles, build solar energy farms, and incorporate them into clothing for powering mobile devices. Converting 0.0003 percent of all sunlight hitting the earth, which will be feasible at that time, will let us meet 100 percent of our energy needs two decades from now. In yet another welcome change, we will be able to store the energy in nanoengineered fuel cells that will be tiny and widely distributed, a great improvement over the centralized, dangerous energy storage facilities we rely on today, such as liquid natural gas tanks."

 Speaking of worth listening to, I do think that we should be together, don't you?

 

If you want to see a bit more on Kurzweil's Law, check out this site with a brief and interesting explanation that includes "Spock's Chessboard"!

 For more on the "Singularity" drop in in to Wikipedia one more time.

Or watch Kurzweil speak (3 part episode) at YouTube.

I still think the law of unintended consequences will reamin in effect. If it only leads to Giant Gorrilas Clutching Volkswagen Beatles, I'll breathe a sigh of relief!

Nothing to Say That Can't be Said

Well since I'm wearing my old (pre-google) Blogger T-shirt I thought perhaps it was time to un-kick the habit.

 Got any blog hits for me P-man? (check out his blog...good stuff!)

 

 

 Speaking of hits I haven't seen people chewing gum this hard in nearly 40 years!

 

 

I'm not sure what this is going to turn into,  but I promise not to talk about Peak Oil too often.

 Heard some interesting quotes from Kurzweil today, might have to go look em up...... something to the effect that in 20 years solar panels will produce and store ALL the world's energy needs.

 As I tend to be a bit twisted that got me to thinking about what would happen should that come to pass. I mean really, thats a lot of energy..... energy that is already being used here on ole planet Blue. What happens to the Earth if we re-purpose all that solar energy; take it from whatever its current use is (and thus make some kind of perhaps significant change what, our climate, the ground temperature, the thermal currents...who knows) and instead burn it up in our cars and homes? 

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