Sunday, November 19, 2006

Where Did We Think We Were Going?

Where Did We Think We Were Going?

by Roger Conner Jr.

Sometimes, it is amusing and even educational just to throw a phrase into Google images and see what pops up.

I was doing this the other night, as a way to while away the time while the laundry spun dry, and with a question on my mind:

Where did we think we were going? The “we” refers to the modern technical cultures, and the “where” refers to the future. In the 1950’s, 60’s or 70’s, the human race must have had a vision of how our ever growing and consumption lifestyle would be sustained. While each generation thinks that it is the one that invented concern about the issue of sustainability, and the prior old geezers were simply ignorant narrow sighted old buffoons who never considered the issue, this does not seem likely.

We know that even in the days of the ancient Egyptians, people thought about how to make it last. The rituals, the pyramids, the mummies served them as at least a “workable” system, an explanation, of how “it” could go on, given that life in ancient Egypt, compared to much of the poorer and less developed world, was not seen as half bad. In the same way, the Christians of the Dark Ages yearned, as all humans do, for a continuation, even though their life on Earth was one of persecution. Thus, they said, the Kingdom was not of “this world” since, unlike the Egyptian wealthy, “this world” was not so kind to them.

But, we are going to narrow our scope a bit, and talk about “this world”. Because even though we are mortal beings, we still hope and pray for a continuation of prosperity, security, and sustainability, first for ourselves in the remaining years of our lives, but also for “posterity”, our children, grandchildren, and cultural identity here on Earth. We somehow convince ourselves, through “ritual” and/or hard effort, that we are indeed insuring our personal and cultural sustainability. We delude ourselves to some extent that unlike the great cultures of the past, this time, we “know” what we are doing.

So, what were doing, what were we thinking would sustain our culture? We had to know, in those glorious post war years, that we were drawing on a supply of “finite” resources. We had to know, that as consumption accelerated, and our taste for accelerated speed, accelerated wealth, accelerated experiences, and accelerated power increased, that our consumption would have to accelerate too. After all, it was built from the start right into the “free enterprise” market ethic, which was the very core of our cultural value. We could stand down the enemies of this ethic, but could we “feed it”? We must have thought so at some point, for who creates an obviously unsustainable ethic on purpose?

Admittedly, in the earliest days of the “ethic” of acceleration, we really did not have to examine the question too closely. The world was freakin’ BIG. We had colonized a new continent, and the power of industry was allowing us to dig deeper, drill deeper, and cover more ground. We could delay to a later time our concern about where it would keep coming from, and so we did.

After the twin World Wars, however, thinkers began to really notice something: The world was now SMALL. The atomic weapon and the long range missile put us all within minutes of each other, destruction wise. Satellites put us within eyesight of each other, and TV and radio put us within listening and viewing distance of each other. The great catch phrase, “the global village”. As we watched, we could now see that consumption, and the results of consumption anywhere in the world were factually “next door” in many ways. It did the U.S. no good to reduce consumption of fuel, if China or India simply absorbed the amount we saved, and used it as an advantage. Our virtue, should such ever occur, could be seen as our vice, enhancing the strength of our political “opponents” in the world. But if misery loves company, we could take heart that we were all in the same boat.

The “global village” was a metaphor that most of the educated and reading baby boomers grew up with. This is the way it is, or should be, with all great influential metaphors. For them to have real “ritual” power, the population must be familiar with them, and accept to at least some degree their power. A totem or taboo has no effect if no one accepts the power of the rituals surrounding them.

So, what were the totems of sustainability in the post WWII period, what did we accept as having power? If they had real ritual power, I should know them by heart, without even looking them up. And I should be somewhat held in the sway of their power, even today. Yes, the totem may now be ridiculed, it may now be scoffed at by some or many, but it was the totem of my formative years. Whether I want to admit it, it still has power, it still evokes from me awe and fear. Because, I must have felt at one time that the totem indeed held REAL power, not just superstition, I must still be very, very leery to completely abandon it, for two major reasons:

First, I do not know that the totem has lost it’s power. What if the scoffers are wrong, what if the doubters simply do not understand the totem, understand it’s real, awesome power?They have not practiced the rituals perhaps, they do not understand that it is an involved and well developed process, not something you can dismiss easily unless you have actually seen it work, paid attention. What can they do to show me that my, for lack of a better word, “faith” in following the rituals all the way through, will not pay off big? After all the totem has a long history of having been perceived to work, otherwise, it would have been abandoned years, decades, centuries ago.

Second, I really have nothing to replace it with. Having been born into a family, a culture, a nation and even a sizable share of the world with a people who accepted the totem’s power, I have no other real way to structure things, no other reality. It is a part of “me” almost as attached as an arm or a leg. Oh sure, I can try to feign doubt, and join the scoffers, but underneath, my real belief in the power of the totem will be there, my fear of it, and awe for what it can do when the correct procedure, the correct practices are followed, will be with me to the end of my days.

To return to my earlier challenge, I should be able to recite the core “chants”, the power words, of the totem from memory. This is the power of a real “sustainable”, culturally speaking, totem.

I can. Prepare yourself for the power words that inspired, that have moved men and women to action, that has caused them to willingly, voluntarily, give the hours of their lives, and at times, the very continuation of their lives, that has caused them to devote wealth and time to the rituals, that has caused them to forsake families, personal health and even riches for a reward that would be, in their understanding of the totem, the rituals and the chants, worth more than all of these, in continuing “sustainability” of them personally, their culture, and their prosperity. Here they are:


There are more words to the liturgy, of course, many more. There are even chants written in strange tongues, so widely regarded that even a child could mark them down with a pencil, even though they could not yet say them: Say “E equals MC squared” and a child can write it, and know that it has power.

But the seven words above are really all the ones that are needed. All the others hang from them like fruit from a tree.

All of the words above are born from Greek origins. This is only fitting, because it is there that the words first began to attain their totemic status. It is no accident that “we”, being the Western world, still hold the ancient priesthood of Greek science in awe, it is no coincidence that our own national founding fathers saw them as the real founding fathers of our rituals, totems and chants. We still use their words, they mathematical formulas, their very symbols. It was them, we knew, not thought, BUT KNEW, who had given us a sustainable road forward. “The great conversation” some call it, lasting for four millennia, and still well under way.

We now face crisis. Not the first, but surely one of the biggest, because it cuts to the very heart of all we believe about who we are, what we have done, and whether the “rituals” the totems of science, education, technology, energy, effort, fusion and space can pull us through. Is the “ideology” of 4000 years sustainable, as it has promised? This is the philosophical, the aesthetic, the cultural argument of the age.

Let us take for just a few minutes the time to look at the “sustainability” promise of the ritual of science and technology. How would it “feed itself” when it came to energy? We were sure we knew: Education would be provided to open up and expand the minds of a growing population. There would not simply be more mouths to feed, there would be more minds at work, communicating bits of information, data, ways of doing things. There would be many failures, of course, but the handful of truly breakthrough ideas would make up for that easily. By freeing the minds, and the ability to exchange information in almost absolute freedom, great leaps forward could happen very quickly, whole new industries and improvements to industries could be born overnight. The release of energies would be astounding. Indeed, it has been.

But the Earth, no matter how smart the people are, is still a finite place. There are only so many tons of matter to go around. As Malthus had warned us, the ability to reproduce far beyond the tons of Earth is infinite. How could this be overcome?

Of course, a contraceptive could deal with this, and one was invented. The release of reproductive energy could be controlled, and as effort, science, education, and experiences proved more varied, more and more women would be less likely to want to spend their lives as mothers. And so it has been, as the birthrate in the most developed nations has began to stall, and in many places to drop. Once more, science proved that it could live up to it’s mantra of “sustainability”. But the quest for growth, the quest for “more” by the population at whatever level, would still be there. After all, it was part of the totem, the ritual. To remove it would remove one of the core reasons for the ideology, the rituals. How could science, technology, energy and effort be used to sustain this core requirement of the whole ritual, how could “growth” in some form, be “sustained”?

At the philosophical level, this was not difficult to foresee: The Earth, which had been a somewhat “closed” system, must be made an open one. Note that I said “somewhat” because the Earth had never been exactly “closed”. It stood in a wash of energy from the Sun, and was struck by objects from faraway places, sometimes to catastrophic effect.

All that was lacking was the technology to get us out there, and in this century, with the work of one of those stray minds, the path forward was born, as Robert Goddard proved the validity of long range rocketry, and opened the space age. The word space, of Greek origin, had now, racing past even the abilities of the Greeks themselves, become an open place.

In the meantime, space research had provided more: We now knew how the Sun made power. All we had to do was duplicate this magnificent “fusion” of atoms on Earth. It should not be greatly hard, given that science had proven, again and again that if nature can do it in one place at a said scale, we can do it somewhere else, at our own scale. In the years after WWII, the “Popular Mechanics”, “Popular Science” generation was born.

Did they not realize that the oil and gas we used was finite? Of course. But they had a road forward, and by the 1970’s,humans would be in space, and nuclear fusion would be with us. Energy, per se, was a “challenge” but certainly not a “crisis”. As Robert McNamara had said about the Vietnam War, all that was required was the correct and coordinated application of technology and logistics. After that, the outcome was assured.


Now, we find ourselves in the position we can imagine of the inhabitants of Easter Island, as they stood and looked at the great statues that had consumed so much of their time, effort, wealth, and life. They gazed still with fear, still with awe, but now, with deepening concern, as they could see themselves facing decline and possible ruin, they must have began to ask: What went wrong?

It is now becoming the question of our age. Now, however, it is a question facing the world, as all but a tiny handful of humans have embraced, endorsed, and come to live by the totems of science, education, technology, energy, and dreamed of the riches that with effort space and fusion could provide. But the observers around the world of the Moon landing, the observers of Hiroshima, the observers around the world of supersonic flight and the birth control pill, now wait, now wonder, now ask: Where is the rest, the part that would sustain?

For over a half century we all waited, read, watched for nuclear fusion. It was always just around the bend, only a decade or so out there. We watched and waited for space to deliver, both by way of our vehicles, long ago predicted by now to be carrying back for use the materials that would go into fuel cells, solar cells, high efficiency turbines, fusion reactors. The “rare Earth” minerals are plentiful “out there”, on asteroids and the moons of the planets, we were told.

WHAT WENT WRONG? Has the power of SCIENCE run out? Or have “we” simply not stayed to the ritual? Has the power of EDUCATION to provide those who can conduct the ritual lost it’s power, or have we simply failed to keep it fed with those who understand how the art, the ritual of science and technology are reliant on the ritual of education?

Has SPACE, which once held so much promise, both as a place to go for the needed minerals and materials, and a place to draw energy from, through the ongoing bath of the sun, proven to be a silly, wasteful mirage, or have we simply quit the game too soon, just as it could deliver all it had promised?

FUSION. Was it a silly dream for humans to try to steal the ultimate Prometheus fire, and snatch a secret from the Sun? Or will it deliver, if we provide the EDUCATION, the EFFORT, to make the last dash to the finish line? Shouldn’t it already have delivered by now, or did we just fail to keep up the effort, the feeding of the effort?

TECHNOLOGY had promised us, that if we needed to, we could live as well as we had, enjoy even more experiences, more security, more sustainability than we had ever known.

Was it a false path, or did we simply get lazy, sloppy, and wander off the path?

In the glorious days after WWII, we thought we knew. We are now showing doubt, and asking: WHAT WENT WRONG?

It is not that the problems of energy and raw materials depletion caught us off guard. Even Disney films about oil made for children warned them, someday, it will be used up, the easily gotten energy will be gone. What caught us off guard is that none of the scientific and technical roads forward have materialized on schedule. They stayed “just around the corner”, “ a decade or two from now...”


I rummaged through a dusty box, full of dusty books tonight, as I thought about these things. These are books bought, found, or given to me, going back to my childhood. They are books that were so central to the forming of my young mind, that I still cannot bring myself to throw them out:

A small propaganda tract, a little hard cover, extolling the virtues of SPACE:
“Space: A New Direction For Mankind” by Edward B. Lindaman pub. 1969.
Lindaman was himself a technician with the NASA space program, one of the "priests"” of the scientific ritual. I turn to a page I have known since childhood:“Our species has been destroying forests and other plant life so widely that they may not maintain the age-old balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. If the current concentration of carbon dioxide in the air should double, that small change would be enough to raise the Earth’s overall tempter by three degrees. Perhaps such a change is underway. During the International Geophysical year, 1957-58, investigation seemed to show that the vast glaciers, with their millions of cubic miles of ice, were melting steadily. Some had been retreating as much as 80 feet per year.”

The book goes on to discuss the issue of water depletion, minerals depletion, pointing out the vast array of what we call “rare earth” minerals in the moon, and even more so in the asteroids close by in space. It further asserts that by the 1970’s, humankind would be harvesting those with our “man made moons”. Even if there is no oil and gas close by, the rare earth minerals now desperately needed for solar cells and fuel cells are. The industries have now arrived at the time to make use of these minerals. The “science” of renewable energy did not fail. The EFFORT and application of technology however, seems to have. Did we just get lazy?

I pull out my copy of “The Third Wave” by Alvin Toffler, pub. 1980. On page 147, Toffler lays out all the things we talk about now, Peak Oil, in all but name is exposed in print, circa 1980. But Toffler shows no fear. The changes will be fantastic. He discusses “The Sun and Beyond” , “Machines In Orbit” and “Into the Depths” examining deep ocean minerals extraction, all of which was to be underway by the late 1980’s and “90’s. Why? Because, as Toffler assured us, “the time frame for these changes are breathtakingly short, years, not decades.” At the time of the publication of Toffler’s book, crude oil prices hovered at what would now be $100 per barrel in inflation adjusted dollars. The crisis was HERE, but Toffler was optimistic, IF we stayed to the rituals and totems. He dismisses “The Techno Rebels” who would dissuade us from staying on the path toward a new exciting world, full of more experiences and promises then we could yet know, technically, socially, educationally, sexually. He perceives the “Experience Industry” with role playing, travel, sexual adventure as the coming growth industry, mixed into opportunities to “play” at science and technology. IF we stay to the game, the ritual.

By 1996, however, an edge of darkness seems to be creeping onto the horizon. Despite being in economically good times, living what even the perpetual doubter and grouch Pat Buchanan called “For most people, the best years of their lives” and enjoying the long run of a gilded age, the thinkers, the priests of the scientific/technical ritual were on the defensive.

Despite the greatest wealth in history, America and many nations had flattened and or reduced research funds. Private firms, flush with money, allowed labs and fabrication shops for prototypes to languish, as they delivered boom times to their shareholders. The effort at maintaining the rituals, the totems of science, seemed not worth the effort. Education was seen as a liberal “ailment”, it was “street smarts” and toughness that ruled, with books like “What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School” on the shelf, and the college dropout founders of Apple and Microsoft the heroes of the new “Capitalistic Uber Man”.

As his philosophical and intellectual Last Will and Testament, one of the most famous and influential scientific thinkers and popularizers of the boomer generation left behind his last book in this year of 1996:
“The Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan, 1996.
Allow me to quote from the book jacket:

“We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces...

I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudo-science and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us-then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.”

This is a call from one of the “priests” of the scientific, technological, education, energy, effort, space and fusion religion making his bid, even as he leaves the mortal coil, to stay what he sees as the “lit path”. Sagan had been a scientist all of his life, was married to one. In his mind, the scientific path would bear the fruit, and remain sustainable, and increase humankind's power, comfort, security and sustainability, increase our humanity, if the effort, the education, the “rituals of science” were adhered to.

Was he right? Or was, is, science and technology, a false mirage?

Or will technological development of efficient design, scientific breakthroughs in materials and design, the human expansion into space, and the quest for working nuclear fusion, clean alternatives with raw materials from space prove to be the sustainable path forward, combined with an ethic of waste reduction and of preservation of what cannot be replaced (the plant and animal species of the world) and a philosophy of life appreciation and enjoyment of humane and rewarding experiences win out for the benefit of humans?

Or must we all accept that we will, for the brief flicker of the remaining years of our lives, go back to a “world lit only by fire”, and consign our children, grandchildren, and countless generations to the same?

This is the choice we now must make in our lives, for not only ourselves but for those who will follow behind us. It will decide how we spend the rest of our lives, and can help decide how our children and offspring, and yes, our very culture, will spend time into the far future.

We are now at the time. We will have to choose, and take sides, just as those at the birth of the industrial age had to. We now read Dickens, Forster and Chekov, and see a depiction of the “impoverished gentry”, those who had been wealthy and powerful in their own lives and destiny under the old system, but impoverished, losing farms, estates, and forced into marriage of convenience later as the ways of power and wealth moved away from them. They must have been certain, only years before, that this so called revolution would not touch them on their little farms, their estates. It would blow by, it was a fad, stay with what works, what had always worked. They had, sadly for them, chosen the losing side.

Which side will we choose, SHOULD we choose? The path to a rapidly impoverished future, in which lack of fuel and resources destroy, either bit by bit, or very quickly our freedom to control our own destiny, our freedom to experience what life has to offer, in which we cannot keep our sons out of the fields and our daughters out of the brothels because we have missed the mainstream of the future? Will that be the only choice left, whether we like it or not? Or is there another route?

Is it possible that the path of technology, the path of education, of science, will lead us into vistas of experience only dreamed of? Are we simply in a “lull”, a slow spot, and once we throw off our confusion and stupor, once more ready to use the tools of 4000 years to resolve what are relatively minor technical problems, but problems that require will, effort, education, and the tools of science and technology?

Will nuclear fusion work? Will space travel work? Will design and engineering harvest the sun’s power? Can garden cities be built that harvest the waste of it’s inhabitants, half underground to reduce demands on land use, able to provide enough food and energy for it’s citizens? Is it doable? A separate question: Will we train the architects, the technicians, the city planners, able to assist us in doing it?

Many now scoff at science, at technology. The idea of using space is dismissed as childish fantasy. Nuclear fusion is a dead end, say the scoffers, we were fools ever to rely on it.

They may be right, we cannot know. But the destruction of the scientific “rituals”, the abandoning of the “enterprise” of science is a dangerous business. At this time, with the exception of philosophical platitudes, we have nothing to replace them with. Many of us are reliant for our lives on what they have brought to us.

We are at the time. We must choose, now. There is always the danger that we will make the wrong choice, either choice we make. But whatever path we choose, we must get behind it, endorse it, live with it. It will be, for better or for worse, the future for ourselves, our children and our culture.I will close where I began, just having some fun putting words into Google image, and remembering how to do something that humans did, long before science and technology”


I'll be adding the reference links soon - The OC

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Analysis of Russian Exports

Click on image and then hit expand button on bottom
right of image in Internet Explorer or just click on
image in new window with magnifying-glass in FireFox.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Test 2 Production and Consumption

Friday, October 13, 2006

Daily Crude Oil Price

The grid lines mark weeks, starting on Mondays. The flat sections at the end of weeks are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I used the closing price on Friday all the way until the closing price on Monday. On very long weekends, this price lasts from Friday until Wednesday of the following week. I know there are price movements in these periods, but I am using published once-a-day data and I wanted to make the graph spacially accurate.

[This is the last of a series of looks at recent price. Now I've got to go back and update the others.]

To Follow

Zoom out once. (done - ptII)
Zoom out twice(start it about $65).

Fix -Set start of Hezbollah's rocket attacks July 12th

Production and Price.

Crude vs. Natural Gas

Then move onto gasoline.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Daily Price of Oil (Part II)

I screwed this one up. The first day of the Lebanon conflict was Wednesday, July 12th. That, of course, is on this graph. I was thinking it was the 30th of June for some reason. That was the start of Gaza, which was the necessary pre-cursor. My how time flies.

Referencing my own notes here, Oil closed at $75 on this Wednesday and set the record at $77 two days later.

My point with this study - is to show that the Lebanon conflict and its short-term resolution is often given as both the reason for the peak and it's subsequent correction. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Price had already reached these levels previous to Gaza, never moved significantly higher once the conflict broke out, and moved well below them once the conflict was "resolved."

Of course, Gaza still rages. The Lebanon thing is temporarily on hold.

[edit] this is horrible. I need to check my prices and dates. We had a higher price the week before conflict erupted. Which helps my argument thank god.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Recent Articles

Oil’s Rout Outpaces Its Advance

Monday, August 21, 2006

Peak Scenarios

If you click on image you will get a larger image with so-so quality.
To get a higher quality printable image, click on "Other Charts" link to the right at bottom of my Links List. This will take you to my Flickr account that contains all my charts. This image should be listed circa August 20th, 2006. Follow directions to "all sizes" to download large version.

I'll be writing explanation for this image shortly.

Top Oil Exporters (Large PNG)

Top Oil Exporters

Sunday, August 20, 2006

CBS and Katie Couric

To reintroduce Katie Couric to the country as a serious yet still accessible evening news anchor on Sept. 5, CBS has embarked on an image campaign worthy of a presidential candidate.

The network’s efforts will put her face on the front of every city bus in New York next month as part of a promotion that would cost in excess of $10 million if the national television commercials featuring her were bought by an outsider.

For all the maligning of the evening news as a dinosaur lurching toward extinction, the prize CBS is pursuing remains among the most lucrative and high-profile in television: the biggest share of the nearly 25 million viewers who still tune in to the three main news broadcasts each night, and the bulk of the nearly $400 million spent each year by advertisers trying to reach them.


Lebanon Conflict

The following from two stories in NYT

-BOUDAI, Lebanon, Aug. 19 — Helicopter-borne Israeli commandos landed near the Hezbollah stronghold of Baalbek on Saturday and engaged in a lengthy firefight in what the Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora, called a “flagrant violation” of the cease-fire brokered by the United Nations.

-The Israelis said “the aim of the operation had been to disrupt terrorist activities against Israel and to prevent arms from being transported to Hezbollah from Iran and Syria.” Any such resupply effort would itself violate the Security Council cease-fire resolution.

-The raid took place overnight under the cover of sonic booms from Israeli jets flying overhead, which occur often over Lebanon. But this time they masked the sound of helicopters bringing in the commando unit and two Humvee vehicles. Villagers said the soldiers were dressed in Lebanese Army uniforms.

-The success of the effort was a matter of dispute. One Israeli special operations officer was killed and two commandos were wounded, one seriously, but an Israeli Army spokesman in Jerusalem said the “objectives had been attained in full.”

-The Israeli Army said it would continue such raids until “proper monitoring bodies are established on the Lebanese borders,” another task for the United Nations forces in Lebanon. On Friday, a top Israeli commander warned that Israel would halt any resupply efforts and vowed to kill the Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

-Europe, which had been expected to lead the force, has been slow to make any firm troop commitments. U.N. officials have called on Europe to offer more troops to balance commitments from Muslim countries.

-Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev urged the international community to follow through on its commitment to provide troops, saying the cease-fire could be in danger if the peacekeepers don't quickly deploy.

-''Words alone are not going to solve the Lebanon problem,'' he said. ''We urge the international community to follow through on its commitment.''

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

EditGrid Test

EditGrid Test

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lebanon Conflict Update

Week number 4
Sunday, July 30th, 2006 Day 19

-At least 54 people - including some 30 children - are killed in Israeli air strikes on the southern Lebanese town of Qana

-Katyusha rockets fired by Hezbollah land near Kiryat Shemona, Nahariya and Maarot. No injuries reported

-Israeli artillery continues to shell the area around Bint Jbeil after pulling back ground forces on Saturday

-Five people killed in Israeli air strike on the village of Yaroun

-156 Rockets fall in Northern Israel, wounding 8
-NYT cumulative dead: Lebanon- 550+, Israel 52+

Monday, July 31st, 2006 Day 20

-Israeli ground forces exchange fire with Hezbollah fighters near Kfar Kila

-Israel says it will suspend air strikes for 48 hours following the attack on Qana

-Israeli aircraft carry out strikes on roads near the village of Yanta near the border with Syria

-There is a brief lull in fighting following an Israeli attack on Qana, which killed at least 54 people, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rules out an immediate ceasefire

August 2006

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006 Day 21

-Israeli officials say war planes have launched several attacks across Lebanon, targeting Hezbollah rocket launchers and hideouts, as well as a road to Syria in the Bekaa Valley, which the army says was hit to prevent weapons smuggling

-According to the Israeli army, 20 Hezbollah militants are killed in fighting around the Lebanese villages of Taibe, Adayseh and Rob Thalantheen

-There are fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters around Ait al-Shaab,
Israeli forces stage a fresh incursion at Houla, according to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil)

-CNN reporting 3 soldiers killed in Ait al-Shaab, 22 wounded

-CNN reporting 560 cumulative Lebanese civilian dead

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006 Day 22

-Hezbollah fires more than 220 rockets at towns in Israel, mainly in the north and including Nahariya, where one person is killed, Karmiel, Kiryat Shemona, Maalot and Safed

-After air strikes and the landing of Israeli commandos by helicopter, there is heavy overnight fighting in Baalbeck

-A Hezbollah rocket lands near the town of Beit Shean, the deepest point yet hit inside Israeli territory, and another in the West Bank, near the village of Faqua

-Israeli planes attack a Lebanese army base south-east of Sidon, killing three Lebanese soldiers

CNN reports that fighting has been going on for 3 days at Ait al-Shaab

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006 Day 23

Israel drops leaflets to warn residents of Beirut of a new military operation against Hezbollah.
Hezbollah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, in turn warns that the group will bomb Tel Aviv if Beirut is attacked again.

According to Israeli officials, Defence Minister Amir Peretz tells top army officers to begin preparing for a push to the Litani river, which is up to 30km (19 miles) north of the border.
Fighting rages on the ground in south Lebanon with four more Israeli soldiers killed. Hezbollah again targets northern Israel, killing at least eight civilians.

Diplomats at the United Nations say delegates from the UK, France and the US are close to agreeing on a UN resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) warns that fuel shortages are increasingly hampering humanitarian relief operations in Lebanon.

Friday, August 4th, 2006 Day 24

-Israeli air strikes damage bridges along a highway providing a key aid route into Lebanon, from Arida on the Syrian border

-More than 20 people - thought to be farm workers - are killed in an Israeli air strike near the village of Qaa, in north eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria

-Two Israeli civilians die in the village of Mughar and in Kiryat Shmona as Hezbollah rocket attacks continue - at one point more than 40 are fired in half an hour

-At least five people are killed in Israeli air raids on bridges over the main road heading north of the Lebanese capital to Syria, with other air strikes on the town of Jounieh north of Beirut and the suburb of Ouzai in the south of the capital

-Two Israeli soldiers are killed amid continuing clashes in southern Lebanon, including around or near Markaba, Ait al-Shaab and Naquora

-Israeli warships shell the southern Beirut suburbs of Haret Hreik and Roweiss

Saturday, August 5th, 2006 Day 25

-Israeli commandos clash with Hezbollah fighters in a raid on an apartment the city of Tyre from where Israel said long-range missile had been launched hours earlier. Eight Israeli soldiers are hurt and several militants killed

-Hezbollah says it fired more missile at Haifa in retaliation for the Tyre raid, wounding at least five people

-An Israeli soldier is killed after coming under Hezbollah mortar fire in the eastern village of Taibe

French-US draft resolution to be discussed by Security Council at 3pm. Agreement by France and US in morning. Israel so far "praises" resolution.

Resolution to be voted on Monday or Tuesday. Mandate of any International Force to be set out in 2nd Resolution. At 3pm, CNN reporting Lebanese cabinet has problems with resolution.

Saturday, August 5th, 2006 Day 26

Hezbollah and Lebanese already rejecting Cease-Fire resolution.

Link to complete Chronology of Conflict

These reports are compiled from bullet points released by the New York Times and the BBC everyday and items mentioned in New York Times articles and in CNN reports.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Images on Oil Drum

If you clicked in to get larger images of two things I posted on The Oil Drum on Thursday, Blogger's photo service is down, so I'll post them here later.

They are on my Flickr page :

Jim Jubak on ExxonMobil

Jim Jubak has written the following in Defence of the company everyone loves to hate:

Stop whining; ExxonMobil is doing its job

Want to get mad at somebody? How about oil-company executives like Lee Raymond, who resigned as chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil last December after pocketing $4 million in salary, $4.9 million in bonus and $32 million in stock -- just for 2005? Or the boneheads in Washington who, flush with oil and auto company campaign dollars, have kept automobile mileage standards stuck at the same level since 1985?


Want a short-term fix? Drive less. Drive slower. Car pool. Take a bus. Buy a more energy-efficient car. Put a solar hot water heater on your roof. Lobby Congress to stand up to Detroit and require higher miles per gallon in the cars it builds.


That's because it's getting harder and harder to find significant new oil reserves -- and more expensive to develop them. It simply costs more to produce oil from deep ocean sites or to extract natural gas from tight sands and oil shales. Inflation in the oilfields is running at 10% to 15% annually because everything from pipe to drilling rigs is in high demand and tight supply.

Oil and Gasoline Correlation Charts

In an effort to project what American gasoline prices might look like in the near future, I have run the following correlations between the price of crude oil and the average price of regular gasoline paid at the pump.

The data points represent the average price of crude oil in a given week and the average price of gasoline in the following week. The center-line is a computer plotted trendline. I added the longer parallel outside lines to mark a probable path.

This first chart uses data going back to Jan 2002, when prices were obviously much lower.

This second chart only uses data going back to January 2004, so we get slightly different results. I have also added in a second data-set(in pink) which are simply 4-week trailing moving averages of the original raw, weekly averages.

As you can see, for any given price of either crude-oil or gasoline, there is a wide range of corresponding possible prices for the other commodity.

From this analysis, it is within reason to suggest we could be seeing $4 gasoline as early as when we hit $90 oil. Or it could take as much as $120-oil.

War Without Victory

Yesterday, I saw the first actual mention of an international force that would be deployed in Southern Lebanon. At least it was the first time I saw such a thing. It was in the New York Times. I think it was all of one sentence long. It suggested that France would be providing a large number of the 15 to 20,000 troops envisioned. Previous to this, that's all anybody was doing – "envisioning" things. Now they are actually talking about things. I guess this is progress if a cease-fire is the goal.

While there is much talk of civilian deaths, "proportionality," and the horrors of war, nothing will actually happen until somebody "does" something about it. The two parties directly involved in this conflict, Israel and Hizbollah, have stated consistently and repeatedly what their goals and intentions are – and these intentions are clearly at odds with each other. So what you are going to see is this conflict continuing much as it has been for at least two more weeks. That is, unless there is some monumental change in some other factor that is effecting this situation. Some unknown factor, which I haven't seen anybody even mention. Some surprise. I don't see either side tiring of the fight in the next two weeks.

The UN typically acts slowly. It could be argued that the more severe the crisis, the slower it acts. I don't see any way that any type of a cessation of hostilities can happen for at least two weeks after an international force is authorized. What will be the make-up of the force? How will it get there? How will it deploy? And most importantly, what will its rules-of-engagement be?

While it is fine and good to debate what or who is right or wrong, or what "should" be, the real issue is what will actually happen on the ground.

The history of the conflict in Bosnia in the 1990's comes to mind. If it serves as any type of a indicator, we have a long way to go.

It makes no sense to talk about a cease-fire or "peace" as if it could happen at any time by some vague wave of a magic wand. There won't be any cease-fire for a minimum of two weeks. I'll throw out August 16th as a date. I have to be realistic, I fully expect even this date to be delayed.

Steven Erlanger reported the following in a piece today in the NYT Online:

Giora Eiland, Israel’s national security adviser under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, predicts a solution in the next week or so “that is far from Israel’s original intent.”

He sees a political package negotiated at the United Nations that includes an exchange of Lebanese prisoners, with Israel regaining its two soldiers; a security zone in southern Lebanon under the control of a multinational force; an Israeli promise not to violate Lebanon’s sovereignty; and “a general understanding or commitment by the Lebanese government to be responsible for Hezbollah’s behavior.”

But “the most important thing will be missing from a deal,’’ he said, “the dismantling of the military capacity of Hezbollah.”

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Middle East Bibliography

The Kingdom Arabia & The House of Saud
Robert Lacey(1981)

What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East
Bernard Lewis (2002)

Sleeping with the Devil How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
Robert Baer (2003)

How Israel Lost The Four Questions
Richard Ben Cramer (2004)
- Cramer won Pulitzer Prize for Middle-East reporting in 1979

The Persian Puzzle The Conflict Between Iran and America
Kenneth M. Pollack (2004)

The Assassins' Gate America In Iraq
George Packer (2005)

Google Earth Lebanon Conflict

You will need to have GoogleEarth installed on your computer. Simply click on links below and they will open GoogleEarth and take you directly to the site indicated. You may need to zoom out a bit when location is reached to get better focus. I haven't figured out a way to set the altitude yet.

Saudi Arabia

Ras Tanura,%2050.173439&output=kml


Maroun al-Ras Lat:33.106520° Long: 35.444316°,%2035.444316&output=kml

Bint Jbeil Lat: 33.115132° Long: 35.432406°,%2035.432406&output=kml

Qana Lat: 33.209179° Long: 35.298528°,%2035.298528&output=kml

Baalbeck Lat: 34.003143° Long: 36.212317°,%2036.2123178&output=kml

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lebanon Conflict Chronology

Start of the conflict
Wednesday, July 12th, 2006 Day 1

I've left this empty for now so that I can fill with accurate timeline later.

closing price of Oil on Nymex: $74.95. Oil closed at an all-time nominal high of $77 two days later on Friday

Thursday, July 13th, 2006 Day 2

-120 Rockets fall in Northern Israel

Friday, July 14th, 2006 Day 3

-100 Rockets fall in Northern Israel, killing 2

Saturday, July 15th, 2006 Day 4

-100 Rockets fall in Northern Israel, injuries

Sunday, July 16th, 2006 Day 5

-report of Hezbollah launching 10 more powerful Rockets at Haifa. 1 hits train station killing 8

Monday, July 17th, 2006 Day 6

-30 Rockets reported in Northern Israel

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006 Day 7

-150 Rockets fall in Northern Israel
-NYT cumulative dead: Lebanon 230+, Israel 25

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006 Day 8

-120 Rockets fall in Northern Israel, killing 2 in Nazareth

Thursday, July 20th, 2006 Day 9

-40 Rockets fall in Northern Israel, noted as sharp drop from previous day

Friday, July 21st, 2006 Day 10

- Preparations for Major ground assault heavily discussed

-50 Rockets reported
-NYT cumulative dead: Lebanon 350+, Israel 34

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006 Day 11

-130 Rockets fall in Northern Israel, wounding 10
-NYT cumulative dead: Lebanon- 370+, Israel 35+

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006 Day 12

120 Rockets fall in Northern Israel

Monday, July 24th, 2006 Day 13

-Israeli forces appear to be pushing northwards inside Lebanon from Maroun al-Ras to Bint Jbeil and fierce fighting is reported.

-Israel says it has launched airstrikes against approximately 270 targets in Lebanon in the last 24 hours.

-Two die when an Israeli helicopter crashes near Rehaniya, northern Israel.An army spokesman blames technical failure but Hezbollah reportedly claims it has been shot down.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006 Day 14

-Israeli shelling of southern Beirut resumes after 24 hours of relative calm during the visit of US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

-Israeli troops are fighting Hezbollah militants in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil.
A Lebanese family of seven was killed in an overnight Israeli air strike on Nabatiyeh, according to Lebanese officials.

-Areas near the coastal city of Tyre are under heavy Israeli bombardment, our correspondent reports.

-At least a dozen Hezbollah missiles have hit the Israeli port of Haifa, reports say.

-100+ Katyushas hitting Northern Israel every day

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006 Day 15

-An Israeli air strike hits a six storey building in the Lebanese coastal city of Tyre.

-Eight Israeli soldiers are killed in fierce fighting at the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil and a further soldier is killed at the village of Maroun al-Ras.

-Hezbollah rockets hit Haifa.

-100+ Hezbollah rockets hitting Northern Israel per day, 10 per day hitting Haifa. Standard Katyusha variety

-Nasrallah vows longer range strikes into Israel.

-Israel begins to scale back its goals(at least with the press) after extremely tough fighting at Bint Jbeil. They simply can't be taking casualties like this.

NYT says 150 rockets fired, highest one-day total since beginning of war

Thursday, July 27th, 2006 Day 16

-Israel continues to shell Tyre.

-Hezbollah rockets hit a chemicals factory in the Israeli border town of Kiryat Shmona.

-Israel carries out strikes on the Iqlim al-Tuffah district north of Nabatiyeh where Hezbollah are reported to have bases.

-A Lebanese army base north of Beirut and roads near the eastern town of Rayak are also hit.

NYT says 110 rockets fired

Friday, July 28th, 2006 Day 17

-Israeli mortar rounds hit a civilian refugee convoy near Tyre.

-Hezbollah fire a new long-range rocket, called the Khaibar-1, into northern Israel, hitting an area near Afula, the deepest strike into Israel so far. Hezbollah rockets also reportedly hit the Israeli villages of Safed, Karmiel and the town of Tiberius.

-A Jordanian man and a Lebanese couple die in air strikes on the village of Kfar Joz, close to Nabatiyeh.

-More clashes are reported in Bint Jbeil.

-Israeli air strikes hit the area around Meidoun in the southern Bekaa valley and the village of Nabatiyeh.

-Israel says it struck 130 targets across Lebanon overnight, including suspected Hezbollah bases in the Bekaa valley in the east of the country and Tyre.

Saturday, July 29th, 2006 Day 18

Sunday, July 30th, 2006 Day 19

-At least 54 people - including some 30 children - are killed in Israeli air strikes on the southern Lebanese town of Qana

-Katyusha rockets fired by Hezbollah land near Kiryat Shemona, Nahariya and Maarot. No injuries reported

-Israeli artillery continues to shell the area around Bint Jbeil after pulling back ground forces on Saturday

-Five people killed in Israeli air strike on the village of Yaroun

-156 Rockets fall in Northern Israel, wounding 8
-NYT cumulative dead: Lebanon 550+, Israel 52+

Monday, July 31st, 2006 Day 20

-Israeli ground forces exchange fire with Hezbollah fighters near Kfar Kila

-Israel says it will suspend air strikes for 48 hours following the attack on Qana

-Israeli aircraft carry out strikes on roads near the village of Yanta near the border with Syria

-There is a brief lull in fighting following an Israeli attack on Qana, which killed at least 54 people, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rules out an immediate ceasefire

August 2006

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006 Day 21

-Israeli officials say war planes have launched several attacks across Lebanon, targeting Hezbollah rocket launchers and hideouts, as well as a road to Syria in the Bekaa Valley, which the army says was hit to prevent weapons smuggling

-According to the Israeli army, 20 Hezbollah militants are killed in fighting around the Lebanese villages of Taibe, Adayseh and Rob Thalantheen

-There are fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters around Ait al-Shaab
Israeli forces stage a fresh incursion at Houla, according to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil)

-CNN reporting 3 soldiers killed in Ait al-Shaab, 22 wounded
-CNN reporting 560 cumulative Lebanese civilian dead

These reports are compiled from bullet points released by the New York Times and the BBC everyday and items mentioned in New York Times articles and in CNN reports.

Friday, June 30, 2006

GoogleEarth Test

I wanted to try out something new. I've recently discovered GoogleEarth and wanted to see how easy it was to share locations on the internet.

Try this out if you want to see something neat. Go to Google and download and install their free version of GoogleEarth(11MB). The requirements say you will need 400MB free space on hard-drive, 500MHz processor, and 16MB video. Most computers manufactured in last 3 years should have that.

Next, copy and paste the following text into a Notepad(*.txt) document. Save the document like this: change default title of document to Dimona.kml and put quotation marks around it so it is "Dimona.kml"

Notice original name was a .txt file. We want to convert it to a .kml file - this stands for Keyhole Markup Language. Choose the "Save as" type as "all files." Very important. Save this to a place where you can find it. Now just double-click on it and it should take you right to the Negev Desert in Israel.

Can anybody tell me what those black lines in the sand are?

Here's the text to copy-and-paste"> Dimona 34.98921085045153 31.05426716751204 4059.739631586271 84.11716274365307 -7.232648313836683 root://styleMaps#default+nicon=0x307+hicon=0x317 34.98921085045153,31.05426716751204,0

Friday, June 23, 2006

Jim Jubak on Inflation

Jim Jubak has just written a long article on inflation at MSN.

The Worst Case Is Not About Us

Admit that even if you have a hammer not every problem is a nail. If energy costs are the major culprit in increasing inflation and in worries about future inflation, then raising interest rates seems a strange way to fight energy-produced inflation. To reduce energy prices by hiking interest rates you have to raise them high enough to slow growth across the entire economy. Wouldn't it be better to try to reduce energy demand -- which would reduce energy prices -- by using programs that increase the efficiency of energy use in the economy? That way we might get lower inflation and economic growth, too.

Of course, I can rant on this page all that I want -- so can you from any soapbox you can commandeer -- and the Federal Reserve doesn't have to do a thing or even listen. These bankers don't stand for election. They're appointed for 14-year terms. They're never accountable to voters. For that matter, they aren't even accountable to the people we do elect.

What we've done is put some of the most important decisions about how our country is run in the hands of officials over whom we have no control.

It's a lousy way to run a democracy.

-Jim Jubak

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Marginal Crude Oil Production 2005 - 2006

For an explanation of the method for this chart and for a 4-year version, visit The Oil Drum here:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Total Liquids Components

Monday, June 12, 2006

Natural Gas Liquids 2003

Refinery Processing Gain 2003

Other Liquids 2003

Monday, June 05, 2006

Crude Price vs. Oil Industry Performance

Here is a comparison of the price of crude-oil and an index made up of 10 industry heavyweights. I just picked 10 companies as quickly as possible. I will probably add to this list in the future. Four majors - XOM, BP, CVX, COP. Three Driller/Explorers - GSF, NBR, RIG. Two Oil Services companies - HAL, SLB. One Independent - OXY.

I used their closing stock prices in June 2006 as the baseline. I did not account for dividends. I did not inflation-adjust either their stock-prices or the price of oil. GSF did not trade before June 1997, so I used that price to back-fill the twelve months of 1996. The index is an average of these 10 companies' monthly closing share prices. weighting is equal.

I'm not sure if the dates came out big enough. June 1996 to June 2006. I threw in $70 for oil in May and June since the data I used didn't have those months. I'll correct this when I update chart.

Thanks to Bill for the idea.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oil Consumption and GDP 1970 - 2006

OK, the numbers are in. There is nothing new here - and no surprises. This a chart I had done before, but too quickly with rough numbers. I took the opportunity of a reader's suggestions to revisit the work and analysis.

First, I still want to work on the graph design, since the Green Line is redundant, and many of the labels are blurred or unclear. But let's talk about that. This graph covers alot of years. 36. A third of a century. I always like to get the long view on stuff, but it is very difficult feeling confident about the seamlessness and reliablity of your data over so long a period. Remember, I use the Nymex price for oil, and they only started trading in 1983. So where did I get the data before that? You will have to trust me for now. I can't decipher my own notes on the numbers. I use an acronym - IRAC - which I can't for the life of me remember what I meant by it. The good news is that the numbers match all other published oil-price data for the time period, I'll be posting a graph soon demonstarting that.

There is a simple formula behind these numbers. (Nominal Price per barrel x number of barrels per day) / Nominal GDP for quarter. I have calculated this on a monthly basis by using the quarterly GDP number for each of the months in the quarter.

I manipulate these numbers to get as smooth and as descriptive an image as possible. I'm using 13-month centered moving averages on barrels-per-day and GDP. I'm using a trailing 6-month average on the price. My method is simple. I looked at several variations - and this looks better. Certain people will have a problem with that, and they may be right, for certain reasons. Me, I'm looking for bigger, long-term trends. I'm looking for lessons and conclusions. I'm looking for that in images.

The Green Line is the inflation-adjusted price of oil, using, what I believe is a CPI-based inflation adjuster. I threw it in for the very reason that I knew I had produced the data probably two years earlier and that the derivation method was most certainly different. Remember, the variables used for the Blue Line(percentage of GDP) are all nominal, non-inflation-adjusted. The fact that the two lines nicely mirror each other serves to somewhat verify that you must be doing something right. Keep in mind, these are two different sets of data plotted against two different axes.

I've already written too much. More soon...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Oil vs. GDP 1970-1982

This is just a preliminary graph showing United States total petroleum products used cost figured as percentage of GDP. Dollar values used are original nominal values. I should have next 25 years tomorrow.