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Peak oil and national debt

March 11, 2010

debt and oil

Malthus may end up being right after all.

If peak oil theory is correct, we are in for a significant population contraction.  Once we’re farther along the downslope of energy supply, we won’t be able to support the existing population, let alone, projections factoring in inevitable pop. growth. The double whammy of peak oil and crippling national debt is a pretty nightmarish scenario.

Our national debt is so massive that the interest payments alone will outstrip most other expenditures in the federal budget in less than a decade.   Even worse, most debt figures don’t  include social security and medicare that will be insolvent by the time baby boomers start drooling on themselves.  Currently, the number one cause of personal bankruptcies is medical bills and in 10 to 20 years that number will probably skyrocket to horrific levels.

At the current trajectory, we are really, really fucked.  Expanding the money supply might ease the pain temporarily but that solution will eventually lead to inflation.  Likewise, Keynesian fiscal stimulus will temporarily increase employment levels but will further drive up our debt.

The problem is pushing a few easy policy levers will not get us out of the clusterfuggle.  Policy makers resort to these tactics because they’re easy.  Increasing standards at schools, raising taxes, and cutting spending simultaneously, simply aren’t feasible because they won’t get re-elected.  The voting public has to grow up and accept and support temporary pain for long term gain.  What we have now is temporary gain for long term pain.

The best way to escape our debt calamity is by increasing productivity and stop acting like a teenager with their first credit card.  How do you increase productivity?  I think the best approach is education and developing a skilled work force, which has been slowly eroding over time, relative to other industrialized nations.

Peak oil states we have already hit our production peak according to ex-oil industry physicist, M Hubbard.  Most oil analysts that know what they’re talking about, agree with this.   A price shock (caused by oil) combined with our national debt, is a recipe for disaster.

On the other hand, maybe necessity is the mother of invention.  If someone bet me – all we had to do is spend 2 billion dollars, hire 130,000 people, and we could split the atom in 4  years – I would have bet against it (and been wrong).

Ultimately, the only chance we have are alternative energy breakthroughs, to be able to sustain projected population growth with finite dwindling resources.


hip hop

February 26, 2010

Some dope ass songs that never got airplay.

Instead, we’re inundated with all this bling bling, country ass, monotonous, southern bounce shit.

Menstrual Cycles

February 26, 2010

I have always been baffled, since the moment I first learned that women’s menstrual cycles often sync with other women’s cycles.  The idea, that a woman can affect another woman’s bodily functions, simply by being near them, has been one of the nagging mysteries that I have yet to find a satisfactory answer for.

Some researchers think it’s pheromone related, which makes sense but then, wouldn’t one female consistently dominate everyone else’s cycle?  My understanding is that the leader, or cycle setter, can switch from female to female within the same group.

My theory is that it’s a combination of light and pheromones; or rather, light is the initial catalyst which effects pheromones. This is the first thing (that came out recently) that supported my 2 decade hunch.

I’ve heard that mothers and daughters will sync cycles but then, more often than not, daughters are more affected by their closest friends.   The reason I think it’s more about light, than pheromones is that close friends who tend to lead similar lifestyles, also tend to have similar access to the same light (especially artificial).   Younger ladies who stay out all night – shaking their asses in da club – will tend to have similar light exposure.  Older women who go to bed early and rise early will tend not to sync with them.  My guess is that mothers and daughters who tend to sync (over their own peer groups), are probably the ones who tend to have similar schedules and therefore timing of their lumen exposure.

comic taken from here:

Advice for a 13 year old

February 26, 2010

I was once asked, “What advice would you give to a 13 year old?”  This was my response:

Stop listening to whatever crap you listen to and start with the 70’s: It’s the renaissance of modern music. You had great rock, blues, and jazz and the birth of disco punk and funk. The only new music forms in the next 30 years is hip hop (the best stuff though is from 1987 to 1994 or so.) Almost all good 20th century music genres were created by black people – Reggae, Funk, Blues, Soul, Rock, and Jazz.

Generally, once 70% of the audience of a music genre is white, it’s probably on the decline. Same reason there are only old white people at jazz and blues clubs today. Once too many white folks like it, black people stop doing it, and invent something new. Chuck Berry would have to pay $1,000 to get front row seats to the Rolling Stones, while he’s playing for 300 dollars a night after they stole his riffs. Kinda pisses them off when they were getting lynched in the 60’s and couldn’t afford the cover charge at jazz/blues clubs in NY, Chicago, LA nd SF.

Most House, Country and Polka music is crap and you should generally not listen to any music over 125 bpms (unless it’s bluegrass). Not to say there isn’t plenty of brilliant white stuff worth seeking out however, here are just a few examples: Velvet Underground, the Pixies, the Clash, Led Zepplin, the Cure, Johnny Cash, Motorhead, the MinuteMen, the Violent Femmes, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Tom Waits, Janis Joplin and David Bowie.

Don’t get worked up over the opposite sex:
Even though you think Johnny or Suzie is the greatest thing since sliced bread, they aren’t (you just have a limited circle at that age). Whomever you have a crush on now, you’ll be embarrassed when you look back. Go ahead and do your thing, but if you get rejected, do NOT let it depress you. I promise, it’ll be the worse thing you can do to yourself.

Time accelerates: Every year goes by slightly faster than the year before. 8th grade is about the same as going from age 31 to 34. This is probably because less experiences are new or novel to you as you get older, so there are less outstanding memories of the events. Once you hit your late teens and early 20’s don’t screw around, you have less time than you think.

There probably isn’t a God:
Ok kid, maybe there is a small chance there is a god, but there is an even slimmer chance he’s like anything described in the Bible, Koran or any other book. Anyone who claims they know for sure is to be mistrusted and ignored.

What you can know, is this:

If god would banish Ghandi to hellfire because he’s not Christian, but let some asshole (like Jerry Falwell) into heaven…

If god treated some muppet (who did nothing positive in his or her entire life but merely repented for their sins and accepted Jesus as their savior) better than people who did noble things most of their lives but upset God for not kissing his ass and acknowledging him…

A god who is so vain, he will punish you for not thanking him for making the world. A god who is this petty and ridiculous that he lays out dozens of religions for you to pick from like a multiple choice test and then turns around and tortures you ETERNALLY in hellfire for choosing the wrong answer…

IF that is god, he’s an asshole.

If there is an afterlife (which may very well be possible), everyone will go there. There will be no screening process. If God is that much of a twat, you’re fucked anyways.

Don’t trust people who overuse cliches: They may be nice people, but you shouldn’t take anything they say very seriously.  They cling to memorized chants to pretend they have a soul.

History of technology, part 2

February 26, 2010

The argument that is becoming more common amongst historians, is that China went through an industrial revolution before Europe, which led to a global economy that stretched from Japan and Malaysia to Italy and Egypt.

The current revisionist history claims many of the “western” ideas were diffused from the East. There is significant evidence that ideas like printing, heliocentric model of the solar system etc., were simply passed through the Europeans, rather than being re-invented or re-discovered.

Memes used to travel slowly 2 millenia ago, but they did move in a global fashion;  there was significant contact between East and West, even before the Silk Road. There is evidence of fairly large Jewish settlements in China before 1000 A.D.

Ancient Rome banned the wearing of silk because they were facing a huge trade deficit (and rapidly losing their gold and silver reserves to the east) which in turn, hindered their ability to finance their wars.  Printing was not invented by Gutenberg as is typically claimed, but was invented in China 700 years earlier (metal movable type was invented in Korea 100 years before Gutenberg. Iron clad ships were invented before the Merrimac and Monitor).

The superiority of the East’s agricultural technology led to the growth of their urban areas with 2–5 million people in the 6th century. Paris had less than 1 million people until the 20th century (they only had 100,000 BEFORE the black plague hit in the 14th century which reduced the number by another third).

The typical paradigm for modern science is Greece -> Rome -> Europe/America. This view seems a simplistic one and discounts pre-Greek contributions to Greek thought (Persian, Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, Bablyonian, etc.) as well as Eastern influence on “western” development after the Greeks.

Some relevant links:

for those that have the attention span to read books made from trees:

History of technology

February 26, 2010

Can any of you, who were educated in India, China,  Egypt, Turkey, or Japan, etc., tell me what you’ve been taught that you think Westerners wrongly get credit for?

I’ve always assumed everything was pretty much invented in the West, except for gunpowder, paper, and the compass – the inventions Francis Bacon famously referred to in 1620, when he said, “whence have followed innumerable changes, in so much that no empire, no sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence in human affairs than these mechanical discoveries”

But beyond these cliches, almost everything else is credited to the West during the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.

I was surprised to learn, after high school, that Copernicus was NOT the first to discover that the earth revolves around the sun; the Indian astronomer, Aryabhata, did a thousand years earlier.  Steel (including the Bessemer process – unduly credited to England) was invented in China 1,500 years earlier. de Gama was not the first to sail around Cape Horn;  several Muslims and Chinese did it regularly (a Muslim navigator actually guided de Gama throughout the entire voyage).

Can anyone add to this? or debunk anything else?

my favorite bible story

February 26, 2010

Deuteronomy 22:13-21

“If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” 15 then the girl’s father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. 16 The girl’s father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver [a] and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.”