Friday, October 28, 2005

Companies Post Multibillion Dollar Profits Thanks To Hurricanes

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Thanks to the hurricanes and oil company-sponsored wars, the price of fuels has shot up to the stratosphere and the oil giants posted record-breaking profits. This isn't top headline news in the media. Congress slashes aid to the poor.

From the New York Times:
Big Rise in Profit Puts Oil Giants on Defensive
Not exactly a gripping headline. "Big rise" is an understatement here. How about "Gigantic Windfall"?
A sudden interruption in oil supplies sent prices and profits skyrocketing, prompting Exxon's chief executive to call a news conference right after his company announced that it had chalked up record earnings.

"I am not embarrassed," he said. "This is no windfall."
ExxonMobil spends lots of money advertising in the NYT. So when these robber barons say this money isn't due to the violent winds befalling the Gulf then the Times has to nod yes.
Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company, said yesterday that its third-quarter net income jumped 75 percent, to $9.92 billion. Its profit in the first nine months of this year - $25.42 billion - already equals its full-year earnings for 2004. This year's sales, which topped $100 billion in the last quarter, are expected to exceed those of Wal-Mart.

Another oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell, reported a 68 percent jump in profits yesterday, to $9.03 billion. Chevron is expected to post a profit of more than $4 billion today.

This year is shaping up as an exceptionally lucrative one for the oil industry, thanks to strong global demand, tight supplies and high prices for oil and natural gas. While the idea that the Bush administration was considering imposing a windfall profits tax was knocked down yesterday by officials, longstanding resentments against Big Oil are resurfacing and could end up imposing some additional burdens on the industry.
The Roosevelt family saved the robber barons by preventing them from going all the way, just most of the way. Right now, our rulers are going all the way so we are seeing dead Americans all over the place and will see many more before this train wreck is done. They frankly want this, killing off "excess" population is one of their dreams going way back to the 19th Century. To unlock the mineral, vegetable and animal wealth of America, the vast native population was nearly exterminated. Think they won't do this for gain today? Eh?

The vast profits will be used to buy more political power so they can get Congress to cut heating aid, food stamps, housing for the poor, medicine for the disabled, etc, while granting tax cuts and benefits to the world's richest corporations. The ridiculous "Energy Bill" crafted by crafty Cheney was a total give away for the energy giants.

Further, America doesn't need more refineries, we need to control the urge to consume vast quantities of fuel. As a person who uses a car that gets great milage, I resent all those one passenger behemoths hogging the roads and eating up natural resources. CAFE standards left out these classes of vehicles and we knew for years that this was a total disaster and now we are all paying for it.

But this is no reason to not tax the windfall profits of the oil giants! This loot has to be recaptured by the people via taxes. This is what happens when windfalls happen! We could stop running up huge deficits if we tax this profit at 50%. Or better, 80%!

There is no reason oil companies should siphon off all this public wealth and pocket it or be tempted to use it to buy political power. This is unacceptable in a democracy. But then, these same powers own the media, own the transmission of information, they are secure in the knowledge that they can deflect blame to others. Like Saddam, for example.

Time to attack Iran, right?

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Research Student Discovers New Low Energy Lightbulb

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

A student at Vanderbuilt University accidently discovered a novel way to light surfaces. Using nano-quantum dots, he found that exciting them with a small LED light caused them to light up brightly.

From Livescience.com
Michael Bowers, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, was just trying to make really small quantum dots, which are crystals generally only a few nanometers big. That's less than 1/1000th the width of a human hair.

Quantum dots contain anywhere from 100 to 1,000 electrons. They're easily excited bundles of energy, and the smaller they are, the more excited they get. Each dot in Bower's particular batch was exceptionally small, containing only 33 or 34 pairs of atoms.

When you shine a light on quantum dots or apply electricity to them, they react by producing their own light, normally a bright, vibrant color. But when Bowers shined a laser on his batch of dots, something unexpected happened.

"I was surprised when a white glow covered the table," Bowers said. "The quantum dots were supposed to emit blue light, but instead they were giving off a beautiful white glow."

Then Bowers and another student got the idea to stir the dots into polyurethane and coat a blue LED light bulb with the mix. The lumpy bulb wasn't pretty, but it produced white light similar to a regular light bulb.
They experimented with using these nano-dots with polyurethan and this caused an entire surface to light up. There are many applications one could think of for this, lighting hallways, for example, by painting the floor or ceiling or both with these and then "turning them on" by electrifying them.

Indirect light is useful for defining large spaces. I use strings of christmas white lights to light up various areas of the house that needs to be seen but not brightly lit. I run them along the treads of my spiral staircases so the steps are very defined. I don't bother to turn on hall or staircase lights because the smaller lightbulbs outlining the steps or hallways are better because they don't cast shadows all over the place. After all, I don't read books in the stairs!

Already, since my days in the tent complex when we had only one solar panel, I used only the most efficient of bulbs. I have no old fashion lightbulbs. This new potential technology sounds great. I can't wait to paint the entire basement ceilings with this! Wow. Fun.

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Some Creep Stole the Arctic Refuge Map Belonging to Congress

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

In 1978, when a Democratic Congress passed the Alaskan Wildlife Act and Jimmy Carter signed it, they also had a detailed map created to delineate the boundries of this natural refuge. The map for this was stolen and the GOP doesn't want to know who stole it or even if it was stolen.

From the New York Times:
Maps matter. They chronicle the struggles of empires and zoning boards. They chart political compromise. So it was natural for Republican Congressional aides, doing due diligence for what may be the last battle in the fight over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to ask for the legally binding 1978 map of the refuge and its coastal plain.

It was gone. No map, no copies, no digitized version.
Evidently, it was kept behind a filing cabinet inside a foam board sandwich. When staff seeking this map found it, the original map was missing. But what turns this into a theft is the fact that a NEW foam board sandwich was put in place of the old one, only it was empty!

The GOP likes to laugh this off as "the cleaning lady threw it away," only this doesn't explain the new foam board left there in place of the old map. And as always, the GOP dudes love to blame lower staff for any problems. It is always the cleaning lady's fault.

To go on, the map is important because it is legal. All other maps are not legal so the GOP has rushed into the breach and declared their new map outlines to be the original and of course, all that oil is outside the domain of the park, not inside. What a shock.
The implications of the contours on the new map, at least for the native lands, are in dispute. Some people argue that the native owners, the Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation, which controls much of the surface rights to the land, and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which controls the mineral rights, would be able to offer energy leases no matter where the lines are drawn, as soon as Congress opens the plain.

The legislative counsel of the Interior Department, Jane M. Lyder, did not go quite that far, but did say the new map might make the question moot.

"It's a very circular kind of thing," Ms. Lyder said. "Changing the line on the map makes it a lot easier."

In addition, she said, the inclusion of the native lands within the coastal plain ensures that they will be covered by the bill's requirement that no more than 2,000 acres of the plain be used for drilling platforms, airstrips, roads and other surface disturbances. By including the native lands in the plain, any work there would count to the 2,000-acre limit, she said.
In history, redrawing lines on maps causes millions of people to die hideous deaths. This is called "wars".

Then there are map redrawings like the border between India and Pakistan back in 1948. Millions died when those lines were inked in. To be realistic, one should draw all map lines in blood. Keep our mind on what they really mean.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

NATIONALIZE GAS/OIL PROFITS!

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

I remember several previous energy disasters. All start rather slowly, as reality takes grip, the first thing people do is change fuels to whatever is cheaper. Then that goes up, too. Then the rush to conserve happens. People insulate or buy new windows and doors or fix things. Then the price still climbs and the poor who can't reduce, can't insulate, can't buy anything, start to suffer.

People literally freeze to death. Landlords, unable to collect rent or unable to maintain heat in buildings, abandon them. They are then set on fire. During the oil crisis of the seventies, I watched, literally, huge swaths of NYC go up in smoke. You could sit on a roof top with binoculars and count the many fires that sprang up. I used to remove wood from abandoned, burned building to feed my fireplace because I had no heat, too.

Well, we are well into the same train wreck and with the GOP now running the ship of state, we are sinking rapidly. They sit idle while energy companies rake in the dough and winter looms and what is the GOP doing?

Cutting funds for heating homes of the poor! From Yahoo:
With fuel bills expected to rise sharply this winter, states are setting aside extra money for the poor, dispensing energy-conservation tips and pleading for federal aid to help Americans keep the heat on when the weather turns cold.

Ohio freed up an additional $75 million for heating assistance for the needy, and Wisconsin added $16 million. Iowa officials set up a Web site to give people advice on how to save energy and get aid, but they acknowledged that may not be enough.

People "can only turn the thermostat so low before it affects your health and well-being," said Jerry McKim, chief of Iowa's Bureau of Energy Assistance, which helps poor families pay their utility bills. "This is a life-or-death matter. I have serious anxiety about what folks will face this winter."
States will go deep into the red, northern states. Of course, the Feds won't help because we are spending an obscene $5.4 billion a month securing oil in Iraq to resell to Japan and Europe! This extravagant expense is even greater since we are spending another $1billion a month to secure bases in all the surrounding countries, too! So what do we spend a year on heating help?
This winter could see many more applicants for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program with not enough money to go around. Congress provided $2.2 billion for the program last year, but this year President Bush has proposed cutting it to about $2 billion.
Two and a half fucking billion bucks a YEAR! Good fucking grief!

Condi Rice just came back from a triumphal tour of the region eating up our incomes. She made a deal with one of the despots there who threatened to close our post Soviet military base and now he is keeping it open for us...since we increased the amount of money we pay as rent! So obviously, the public purse knows no limit in this regard.

Congress just eked by yet another pro-energy company bill. They have showered tax cuts and grants upon these very wealthy companies that are reporting record profits.

So, how do we fix things?

I suggest we have an "Energy Profit Reclaimation Project." Namely, a percentage of the energy companies' profits be recycled as energy aid! I would say, if it were 20%, this will raise several billion dollars and therefore, fund all the poverty programs that provide fuel, generously.

Then, to fix the budget going billions into the red: close all American military bases across the planet, close the School of the Americas (or whatever they call that monstrosity now) and tax the rich.

Revolutionary, right? You bet. Wresting power from the very powerful isn't going to be easy. Petitioning Congress when it is owned by these people will be neigh impossible. Of course, elections are coming. Will the middle class see the poverty pit at their own feet?

After all, they are all just one paycheck away from disaster. One job loss away from no health insurance. One corporate bankrupcy from 50% pay cuts. Will they wake up? Will everyone understand, the party is over now?

I will cover this as it unfolds. And I guarantee, it will unfold as certainly as a butterfly unfolds its wings.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

MAKING CONSERVATION COOL

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By Elaine Meinel Supkis

When the subject of the coming energy collapse as we finally careen over the top of the Hubbert Oil Peak and begin the relentless slide down the other side, we will probably sacrifice everything we built up over the last several thousand years in a desperate push to steal the last of the oil and control the downside so we can continue living the reckless, foolish lives we are living today, protected by a huge energy/technology bubble.

The downside of this bubble is obvious. We are fat and ugly, for the most part. Legions of people visit gyms to exercise to keep from turning into a ball of blubber but still, the technology/energy bubble takes its toll. Worse, it is killing our ecosystem and the side effects of this are obvious, too. The destructive powers of ecosystem change for the worse will of course annihilate our cities and kill us.

But we just might do it ourselves in bitter desperation, kill off our cities in a massive nuclear war!

So what is the analysis in the mainstream press about all this? How about this insanity: From the NYT:
WHEN President Bush told his staff last week to carpool or take the bus, because conservation could help alleviate the pain of hurricane-caused oil shortages, some cynics wondered: Would the country accept the challenge?
Eh? Bubble Boy's bubble is the most energy intensive on this planet. An entire Praetorian guard has to surround him for even tiny side trips. They have to move snipers on roofs, clear out all the former citizens of this stupid police state, remove all people from looking out of windows, they have a platoon of armored vehicles that race along getting about 2 mpg...and he tells us to conserve.

I happen to remember Jimmy Carter, the man who flew on regular planes quite often, the guy who walked to many places in DC and elsewhere. He actually believed in conserving and put solar energy panels on the WH which the GOP tore off again.
Still, the inspirational value of a sudden policy swivel, however grand, goes only so far. According to advertising executives, environmentalists and cultural critics, conservation can become a movement large enough to influence world energy markets only if it becomes hip, fashionable, something that teenagers, chief executives and celebrities from New York to Dallas to Los Angeles can't help but do.
Look, morons, LA is an ecological/social disaster area. One massive earthquake away from Armaggeddon and a top nuclear target, to boot. Mother Nature doesn't give a fig about "hip" or whatever, She does what She has to do and we have to please Her, not the other way around.

There is nothing at all hip in being sane and careful. It ain't "sexy" or "rad" or whatever, it is life and death. And although many worship the Devil that is Death and think this is just too cool, the Death Devil works for Mother Nature, not us. It would dearly love to scythe away 90% of humanity because we have unbalanced nature. If we want to populate this and other planets, we have to learn how to do this without destroying the very same ecosystem that sustains us. This is "duh" time.

Thanks to cheap energy and the technological bubble we live in, we can ignore, say, air pollution. Just turn on that airconditioner and ride in a sealed car and dash into a sealed commercial building and viola! You never notice the destructive, foul air. So what if the trees are dying? You are in a bubble and safe and happy.
"It has to be grass-roots driven," said Sharon Lee, a founder of Look-Look Inc., a market research firm in Los Angeles that focuses on youth culture, "and you have to allow people to participate in fun, creative ways. Maybe one day, if you bring your own cup to a coffee shop, you get 10 percent off because you saved the Styrofoam. And the next day they can do something else."

Businesses, political leaders and conservationists must spawn a wide range of options, she said. The oilman in Texas may not want to give up his S.U.V., so perhaps he could earn free baseball tickets by composting instead. For the urban hipster who already drives a hybrid vehicle, there could be a Web site with advice on how to lead a project attaching solar panels to office buildings.
"You have to fit their interests and how they participate," Ms. Lee said. "The worst thing you can do is take an open person and say they're not part of this community if they don't do this one act."

In other words, environmentalists need to be less preachy. Mark Katz, a humorist and former speech writer for President Bill Clinton, said Americans might be more willing to take up conservation if they could first laugh at their own consumption. His suggestion is a bumper sticker for S.U.V.'s that reads, "My third car is a Prius," a reference to Toyota's popular electric hybrid vehicle.
Note how the people in this story assume we have choices! Indeed, this is the highest level of insanity. Note how the hyper-consuming American "conserves" by boasting about how cool he is to have THREE cars! Billions, yes, billions of humans have no cars at all. In another 50 years, we will be part of those billions. There is no future for the gas car. Nor will they be replaced with faster, hotter, fancier cars. They will be replaced with RICKSHAWS drawn by humans!

The environmental movement has always been whipsawed by this urge to cutsiefy the coming crisis, pretending that if we do tiny, usless moves, the coming ecological/energy disaster won't happen. This nickle and dime-ing of the environmental movement has pretty much killed it. Many people think, all they have to do is not do one tiny thing when that isn't even scratching the surface.

We are collectively not only dying from living in the bubble we made, the bubble is collapsing. Look at it! People can't live in the deep south without this bubble, nor can they live in the north or anywhere. Anyone here ever live cheek and jowl with Nature in the raw?

I have. For years. Without electricity, without running water, without nearly all modern technology. I am tough, I know a great deal of information like how to train and raise and use an ox team. Or horses. Or handshear sheep. Or make bread from scratch including hand grinding the wheat. Yes, I have a hand grinder. I have all sorts of old tools which I know how to use, my husband knows how to use. Two man handsaws, axes, adzes, hand drills, all sorts of stuff.

And guess what? These skills will be needed in the future. Know how to raise bees? It will reassert itself as an important survival skill, trust me. Know how to raise a garden? Most people don't know squat now, they know what is on TV and what everyone is talking about which is usually garbage that is meaningless.

A million Americans have lost their homes and most of the country is concerned with only one thing: keeping this wild, cool, sexy party going no matter what. Well, guess what? Your home just might be next. Whole communities will be rendered unliveable and unuseable in the not too distant future.
"You have to be self-deprecating," said Mr. Favat, who created an advertising campaign for Timberland featuring a magazine insert that could be planted, sprouting wildflowers. "Use irony or humor or satire to capture peoples' imagination. Nothing will be cool if you take yourself too seriously."
Hell's bells, I am not cool, I am burning hot. Flaming like the sun. A consumer magazine handing out flower seeds isn't going to do squat diddley.

My whole mountain writhed with pain this summer because of the excessive heat/lack of rain. It made me totally frantic, I live in what is supposed to be the temperate zone! Not Arizona! The seeds, if I sowed them, would have withered and died! Ecology isn't about grandiose, useless gestures. It is about understanding nature and working hand in hand with Her so we don't all die!

And preachy?

Noah was preachy, too, according to the Bible.

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