Archive for April, 2010

Handbasket Report — Spill, baby, spill!

29 April 2010

Nine minutes ago,What Is Online published this:

The leak from site of the fatal Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion is five times bigger than estimated. Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico increased sharply on Wednesday night, as the US authorities suggested five times more oil could be leaking.

Rear Admiral Mary Landry said 5,000 barrels a day were now thought to be gushing into the sea 50 miles off Louisiana’s coast.One fire-fighting expert told the BBC the disaster might become the biggest oil spill in the world. Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for BP said: “A third underwater oil leak has been located in the pipeline that connected the rig to the oil well”.

On Wednesday, the oil was estimated to be about 20 miles east of the mouth of the river.

Complete article here.

Editorial Comment: America now has a shortcut for its oil problem. Instead of bothering to refine and put it in cars to increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we can now just burn it in situ, killing off the fishing industry and some wildlife as well. Efficiency! It’s the American way! Too bad we have BP to thank for the idea.



The Local Weather and Our Sustainability Efforts

29 April 2010

Another personal post. For today, the quest for sustainability is a casualty of the weather. This morning’s soft snowfall has given me a break. The building of the duck yard, which I find myself referring to as Duck Super Max, was in full swing yesterday, but is now at a complete halt.

Here’s what we have so far:

The hardware cloth awaits. The trench to bury the bottom foot of the hardware cloth awaits. The rest of the primer and the finish paint awaits. Now we just have to wait for the temperature to rise and the ground to dry out.


Accidental Fun

26 April 2010

While looking for inflation information, I stumbled upon Smugopedia.

I know people who drop lines like these.

OK, I’ve been known to drop lines like these too. What can I say? I have a head stuffed with obscure trivia and a desire to share.

But I also fact check, and checking the veracity of a few of the Smugopedia lines–the ones I checked were either true or at least arguable commentary, but I’m not going to tell you which ones I checked–led me to this site:

I liked the Descart–oon.


“Communist Corporations” and Climate Change

23 April 2010

Two recent articles on climate change caught my eye.

The first is the “Response by the University of East Anglia to the Report by Lord Oxburgh’s Science Assessment Panel” published on April 14, 2010.

Here’s a key paragraph:

The Oxburgh findings are the result of the latest scrutiny of CRU’s research. The first was the original peer review which led to publication in some of the world’s leading international science journals; the second was the Inquiry by the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee. Taken together, these must represent one of the most searching examinations of any body of scientific research. The veracity of CRU’s research remains intact after this examination.

OK, the climate researchers have now been cleared of wrongdoing by two separate UK investigative panels.

Yet somehow I was not surprised by today’s “New Revelations on Climate-gate,” an offering from Fox News. Sean Hannity introduces this interview with Brian Sussman thusly:

The Climate-gate scandal exposed global warming as a myth cooked up by alarmists. Now a new book investigates just how they are and how communist corporations, elitist politicians, and reckless scientists have contributed to creating a phony crisis.

As a lit crit type, I find the non-literary use of “myth” jarring enough, but “communist corporations”? Shouldn’t that be communist cooperatives or something? The concept of “communist corporations” sent me to I typed in “corporation” and here’s what I found:

Financial Dictionary

Corporation definition

A legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners. Corporations enjoy most of the rights and responsibilities that an individual possesses that is, a corporation has the right to enter into contracts, loan and borrow money, sue and be sued, hire employees, own assets and pay taxes.

The most important aspect of a corporation is limited liability. That is, shareholders have the right to participate in the profits, through dividends and/or the appreciation of stock, but are not held personally liable for the company’s debts.

Investopedia Commentary

A corporation is created (incorporated) by a group of shareholders who have ownership of the corporation, represented by their holding of common stock. Shareholders elect a board of directors (generally receiving one vote per share) who appoint and oversee management of the corporation. Although a corporation does not necessarily have to be for profit, the vast majority of corporations are setup with the goal of providing a return for its shareholders. When you purchase stock you are becoming part owner in a corporation.

I’m still mulling this. Right now I guess the artificial person, the corporation, is the communist, an entity typically supported by a bunch of capitalists who want to own part of the artificial communist, generally because the artificial communist provides them with profits. This doesn’t sound right to me since the communists I’m familiar with bogged down and lost money, but that’s where I am with this concept right now.

Not stopping to define “communist corporations” for people like me, Hannity follows by introducing Sussman’s thesis:

In his new book “Climategate,” Brian Sussman asserts that the global warming hype is really just a form of communism rooted in the principles of Karl Marx. Now Sussman argues that the communist tenets of moral relativism, the belief in science over God, and the idea of de-developing successful nations to fill the needs of underdeveloped countries all describe the global warming movement.

OK. There are some sweeping generalizations there–to say the least. Of course, as the article says, this is from a “rush transcript” and “may not be in its final form.”

Let’s hope so, since this preliminary transcript also says,

Climate-gate, [Sussman] argues, highlighted these principles by showing that the scientists were purposely hiding information that would prove their theories wrong and knowingly deceiving people by manipulating the science.

Want to bet that the final version of this acknowledges the second exoneration? The first?

Probably not because, as this interview shows, the REAL topic isn’t climate change or even science it’s COMMUNISM–artificial or otherwise–and AL GORE and it’s especially about MONEY and the topic is “supported” by false accusations. For example, there’s this interchange:

SUSSMAN: One of the founders of Earth Day is Paul Ehrlich, the Malthusian. His writing partner and buddy is John Holdren, Barack Obama’s science and technology adviser.

HANNITY: This is the guy that supports compulsory sterilization.

SUSSMAN: And compulsory abortion. He believes that’s constitutional. This is — that’s in my book. This is also a guy who wants to de-develop the United States of America. Take us down a notch, make us more like the rest of the world. Take our wealth, transfer it.

A quick search turned up this article by Media Matters for America: “Hannity Falsely Claims Science Adviser Holdren ‘Advocated Compulsory Abortion.” According to this article,

In fact, Holdren never “advocated” for any kind of involuntary birth control; he co-authored an environmental sciences book more than 30 years ago that discusses “compulsory control of family size” including abortion and sterilization as a possible consequence for countries whose expanding birth rates are not curbed by “milder methods.”

Don’t believe Media Matters?

Buy a copy of the source, a 1978 college text, Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment and find out for yourself. Try, a great site, or

Whoa. I just ran this search. Old textbooks are usually cheap. Not this one. The cheapest copy I found was over $40. Many copies are available but for between a hundred and five hundred dollars. I won’t even speculate on what’s going on here. Conspiracy theorists–go for it!

Oh, and, by the way, co-author Paul Ehrlich founded Earth Day in 1970. It’s celebrated on April 22, which is–ta da–Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. Conspiracy theorists, rejoice!


Not Your Typical Financial Guru

23 April 2010

One of my favorite financial commentators is Jeremy Grantham of GMO.

GMO mutual funds are relatively little known because they are aimed at institutions and the ueber-rich, as in requiring millions–plural–to get in.  I discovered Grantham a few years ago when I stumbled across his rant about ethanol being a total scam.  I don’t feel like searching for that gem right now, but here’s a good 2007 overview article from The Street:

“Cheney’s Fund Manager Attacks … Cheney”

Aside from showing up in interviews and authoring general articles, Grantham also gives free access to his company newsletters. Users do have to sign up and log in, but, hey, here’s a sample of his advice from his January 2007 quarterly newsletter, this one titled “Goldilocks Rules: Or Safe As a House in 2007”:

See why I like Grantham?

And what’s not to like about a financial heavy-hitter who donates not only to the London School of Economics but who founds the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at London’s Imperial College as well?

Lastly, Grantham has a lingering, spiffy accent as well. The Financial Times has an April 2010 interview with him “On Bubbles.”



23 April 2010

A couple of days ago, the construction of the duck yard began. The posts are set. The roof frame is up. At that time, the weather forecast was for three days of fair weather.

One guess.


It started to rain. And it continues to rain.

Mostly, this is good. Our mountain snowpack was at 75% last time I checked, and we sure needed moisture down here. We’d just finished mowing down the old, dry grass that catches snowfall during the winter, and the smooth fields are already as bright green as Astroturf.

I’m just frustrated because this is weeding season, planting season, building season, posthole digging season, not posting season.

Oh well. Here’s a link to Richard Heinberg’s site. He provides many a fine primer on everything dire.

MuseLetter #215 / April 2010 by Richard Heinberg: “Economic History in 10 Minutes”


And Now for Something Completely Different

21 April 2010

Once again, the Spring Emergency is upon me, so, instead of perusing headlines and fretting about the world, I’m weeding, hauling, and planting. The peas, lettuce, spinach, shallots, and onions are in.

The duck house and yard are under construction and the Welsh Harlequin ducklings should arrive in a couple of weeks.

Post-industrialism in practice. It makes for sound sleep.


“Folksy Is America”

16 April 2010

Once again, I’m saved from writing a post because someone else wrote something better than I would have. Here’s the link to John McWhorter’s fine article on Sarah Palin’s speaking patterns:

McWhorter’s close reading–uh, close hearing?–skills are formidable. Here he is on Palin’s use of “that” and “there”:

All of us use there and that in this way in casual speech — it’s a way of placing topics as separate from us on a kind of abstract “desktop” that the conversation encompasses. “The people in accounting down there think they can just ….” But Palin, doing this even when speaking to the whole nation, is no further outside of her head than we are when talking about what’s going on at work over a beer. The issues, American people, you name it, are “there” — in other words, not in her head 24/7. She hasn’t given them much thought before; they are not her. They’re that, over there.

This observation is good too:

Palin strings her words together as if she were doing it for herself — meanings float by, and she translates them into syntax in whatever way works, regardless of how other people making public statements do it.

And sometimes McWhorter’s writing just makes me smile:

Palinspeak is a flashlight panning over thoughts, rather than thoughts given light via considered expression.

His last line, alas, brought merely a nod:

As such, Sarah Palin can talk, basically, like a child and be lionized by a robust number of perfectly intelligent people as an avatar of American culture. And linguistically, let’s face it: she is.

She is. There it is. That truth thing.


Dust and Drang

10 April 2010

I’m usually not a big fan of USA Today, but “On Plains, Concern about Another Dust Bowl” struck me as unusual and pertinent. Of course, talking to old farmers is, for my money, one of the wisest things anyone can do these days.

Having talked to the old farmer, this article then slips over to a discussion of climate change. Pertinently sneaky, I thought.

Here are just a couple of snippets from that part.

Gary McManus, a climatologist for Oklahoma’s state-run climate organization, says global warming could have a “catastrophic” impact across the parts of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma that suffered most in the “Dirty Thirties.”

He says the region’s climate is so dry, even in the best of times, that just a small increase in average temperatures could quickly cause critical amounts of moisture in the soil to evaporate.

Reading that I wondered if Senator Inhofe knows this guy is on the state payroll.

Then the article confirms what should be, but apparently isn’t, common knowledge about our water situation.

Meanwhile, the Ogallala Aquifer, the vast underground reservoir upon which the area relies for nearly all of its water, is being depleted by growing demand from commercial agriculture and urban centers.

There’s a good segment on the Law of Unintended Consequences about the introduction of the salt cedar for those who think that mankind can’t influence the planet. However, my favorite part sounds like something I’d find on my favorite doomer sites.

“Our society today isn’t used to turning on the spigot and having no water come out,” says McManus, co-author of Oklahoma’s official report on how the state could be affected by climate change. “That’s something that previous generations learned at the point of a gun.”

This one may too.


P.S. I scanned only a few of the comments on this piece. The ones I saw, however, were typical. They reverted to global discussions of climate change–ice thickness and so forth–rather than responding to the actual topic(s) of the article. Sigh.

April 19–A Date to Remember

7 April 2010

Until I read Eric Boehlert’s “Post-Hutaree: How Glenn Beck and Fox News Spread the Militia Message,” I wouldn’t have known the significance that April 19 would likely have to some of our modern “patriots.”

Waco and Oklahoma City–both on April 19. Great.

And Boehlert provides this additional tidbit:

Not only have the number of radical-right extremist groups exploded in the wake of President Obama’s election (more than 500 today, as compared to just 200 during the 1990s), but these militia members now have a proud sponsor in the person of Fox News’ Glenn Beck, who has done more than any other person to amplify and mainstream the movement’s hateful and foreboding anti-government message.

More than 500 today. Isn’t that wonderful news?

And here’s a photo of three of the Hutaree.

Three members of the so-called 'Hutaree' Christian Militia arrested by the FBI, 03/29/10. (photo: US Marshals Service/AP/NYT)

Why would I worry?