Thursday, January 31, 2008

Shell sets new UK profits record

I found this on BBC News UK edition (current). (excerpt with title link)(image added)

Much of the rise in profits has been attributed to rising oil prices, which currently stand at about $91 a barrel compared with $57 this time last year.

In dollar terms its earnings are up 9% on the previous year.

But there is concern among analysts that Shell has delayed publishing figures showing its oil reserves.

The oil reserves figure, which shows whether Shell found enough oil in the ground to replace the amount it was taking out, will not be published until the spring.

"The market really has taken this to imply that the figures aren't going to be great," said Nick MacGregor, an oil analyst from Redmayne Bentley.

"If they were that good Shell would be telling the world about it now."

(Buddha) For me this immediately brings up 2 huge issues. I will deal with them separately for now.

First is the issue of continuing record beating profits over and over for the oil companies. Bush and his cabinet set about making plans to invade oil-rich Iraq immediately upon usurping (oops, assuming) office. Now we have an even more unstable middle east, a devastated Iraq with tens of thousands of war casualties, thousands of dead G.I.s (and many times that permanently scarred or crippled), and thanks to the inconceivable monetary cost of the war we have a ravaged U.S. economy.

The oil companies are not the only ones breaking records. We are witnessing record numbers of home foreclosures in the U.S. in addition to record setting job losses. Bush changed the bankruptcy laws to protect the credit card companies from all of the people trying to get out from under crushing personal debt. Educational expenses are at an all-time high with many sane people questioning whether college is even a break-even venture at this point. Personally, I am doing pretty well handling my education on my own and not racking up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and credit card debt.

I used to work as an insurance salesman and medical expenses were one of the top causes of personal bankruptcy and foreclosure in this country. Many of these bankruptcies were filed by people who had medical insurance which simply proved to be insufficient. How many are unable to obtain insurance in this country? I know that I am still among them.

The Fed (not a government agency by the way) has just lowered the prime to 3% in an effort to jumpstart our economy. This is akin to putting defibrillator paddles on the chest of a long dead person, yelling "clear", and pushing the button. There may be some activity and confusion, but you should expect no positive result. We need to fundamentally restructure our economy!

The second issue is that of sustainability. Shell hasn't disclosed it's oil reserve figures, presumably because they are not very reassuring.

We are at some point in the not too distant future, going to run out of oil for all practical purposes. It will become less and less plentiful and accessible. Due to these factors it will be priced out of reach of most people. It may be approaching that now at over $90 a barrel.

We have before us a crucial decision as to what we are going to base our economic system on. There are many viable alternatives to the oil economy. Many of these would alleviate other problems as well. I will not waste my time repeating much of what I've already posted. Please check out the links I've provided, watch some documentaries with friends, read some books on these topics, and discuss these ideas at your local markets and with your friends and families. If you were so inclined, you could even read some of my archived posts and introduce your network of contacts to my blog. Feel free to respond to my posts so I will know that these rants are serving as more than simply therapy for me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Barack Obama Gets My Support

Published: January 27, 2008

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved. (excerpt, title link)

(Buddha) Now that the Green Party is out of the running I am throwing my support to Barack. I love the idea of a three party system and really like the greens' platform, but they're out. In my opinion this nation needs a serious overhaul, and of the candidates with a shot Barack is the most likely to do that in a positive way. If you insist on voting Republican (don't do it) please consider John McCain. I believe that he has the backbone and integrity to do as good a job as any republican could hope to,or at least do the least damage, if we as a nation are able to pressure the government to end the current wars (and not start new ones).

The Democratic candidates have very small differences in matters of policy so it becomes a question of integrity and the ability to positively impact the citizens of this and hopefully many other nations. From what I've seen, Barack Obama is the most articulate, charismatic, and optimistic among the candidates. He's also fresh enough that he's likely the candidate with the fewest puppeteers pulling his strings. The election of anyone other than a caucasian male suddenly opens our political process to allow for the most qualified person (who can raise the money) to pursue and attain our highest public office from this point forward. This greatly increases the number and quality of potential candidates (open competition is good for the vitality of any market or arena). In addition to all of this HE OPPOSED THE INVASION OF IRAQ!!!

Caroline Kennedy's support is intriguing, as she and many others have been comparing Barack Obama to her father, JFK. What a breath of fresh air that would be, to have someone with the gravitas to engage the energy of the nation's youth in moving us in a radically different direction. Imagine pulling away from empire building/maintenance and redirecting the resources of war. We could have the equivalent of a moonshot for environmental sustainability with all of the social, economic, and environmental benefits of a vibrant green economy. This change would also do a lot to improve our national security (much more effectively than invading multiple countries for fossil fuels). We could lead the way forward in this up-and-coming worldwide paradigm shift.

Barack is much more environmentally aware and progressive than Hillary Clinton, and I think that this is the most crucial issue we face moving forward. He wants to ban legal concealed weapons carry, which I believe is a seriously bad idea, but overall I feel that he is absolutely our best choice.

Friday, January 25, 2008

8 Easy Projects for Instant Energy Savings

By Gary Reysa
February/March 2008 (excerpt with title link)

With these inexpensive ideas you can reduce your carbon footprint and slash your energy bills. Spend $400 once to save $900 a year!

Reducing your home energy use is the best of win-win deals — not only does it reduce your carbon footprint, it also saves you big bucks on your energy bills. That’s especially exciting when you consider that many home energy improvements are fast, easy and inexpensive. Often, the savings from an individual project are small, but when you start putting them together they add up quickly.

Click title for full article.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gaia Community Site

Another point for the Traceless Warrior. (I think he may be winning.) This one is for directing me to the Gaia Community Website. I have not had much time to set up my profile or thoroughly explore the site yet, but my quick browse impressed me and I look forward to exploring it in depth very soon. The site is pretty comprehensive and appears to be a great resource for people who are into consciousness raising and positive change. It offers blogging, forums, and various other outlets and ways to connect.

I anticipate making this a regular addition to my online work and recommend at least giving it a look. The idea of a social networking site dedicated to positive change and spiritual growth can only be a good thing. I expect to see many of you on there soon. The title link will take you to my profile page and you can get started from there. Please give me a "shout out" or set me up as a friend so that I will know you are there.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Study: Bush led U.S. to war on 'false pretenses'

Hundreds of false statements on WMDs, al-Qaida used to justify Iraq war.

updated 2:30 a.m. ET, Wed., Jan. 23, 2008 (excerpt; title link)

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.

(Buddha) The concentration of ownership of the major news outlets should be of some concern to us all. If the powers that be have an ulterior motive or the few watchdogs among these groups are asleep at the wheel we have problems like this. With all of the independent media outlets available there is really no reason for our nation to be led around by the nose like this. Please cross-reference stories that are of critical importance and spread the word. I link to several news sites and blogs that I trust and I encourage you to add to or amend this list as you see fit. The point here is to take full responsibility for and advantage of your 1st Amendment rights. We must be informed in order to have any control over our collective (and individual) destiny.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sicko by Michael Moore

I just watched this film with my friend Jeanne and the crumbgobblers. My kids are 10 and 7 years old and they both liked the film and now they want me to talk to their mother about us all moving to France. Michael Moore is absolutely brilliant and one of the staunchest patriots this nation has. I heartily recommend that everyone see his films.

There is a lot of information that has been tried and proved in other nations for improving our national healthcare system. Many of these nations have a much higher quality of life than most Americans enjoy, as well as a significantly longer life expectancy. Even Cuba has a much better system for treating its citizens in need of care (with a much smaller resource base to draw from).

An American expat living in France said that the difference in quality of life is summed up by fear. The French gov't fears its citizens, and the U.S. gov't is feared by its citizens.

This is another reason for us to become informed and active. Please begin gathering information and sharing it. I have been impressed by the results of gathering people in homes for film showings, discussions, work parties, etc. We need to become networked and begin taking steps to broaden our influence. We have the numbers, and the results are potentially profound beyond explanation. The question remains: Do we have the will?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

DiCoccos Leaving For Africa

The DiCoccos are finally leaving for Johannesburg, South Africa. They are off to do mission work (community development) and are going as a family for at least 2 years. They are some of the most amazing, genuine and loving people I've had the great fortune to call family. Today (Saturday) was their going away party and I drove up from Cincinnati to be there. It was quite impressive to see the crowd who showed up to give their support. I will miss them all a lot, but I am encouraged by the positive impact they will have in their new home. Seeing a family quietly and consistently living their faith rather than preaching it has given me a whole new perspective on the possibilities for interfaith (and everyone else) collaboration toward common objectives for the benefit of everyone. They are members of Mars Hill Church which is largely focused on social justice and community development and everyone I've met from this church has been a beautiful human being working to create a universal heaven on earth. "Love Wins"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Female suicide bomber kills 8 in Iraq

By CHRISTOPHER CHESTER, Associated Press Writer 9 minutes ago (excerpt)

BAGHDAD - A women wearing a suicide vest blew herself up near a popular market and a Shiite mosque in restive Diyala province north of the capital Wednesday, killing eight civilians and wounding seven others, police said.

Buddha/ (WTF???!!!) Okay folks, here we go. This is getting worse. I am certain that I never heard about female suicide bombers in Iraq prior to the U.S. military occupation. Things are obviously way wrong for this to be occurring. Bush seems to be worse for the Iraqi people than their previous dictator was. I am asking everyone who reads this to pause for a moment and consider how bad things would need to become for your mother or daughter to get so angry and/or hopeless that she would carry out a suicide attack. Seriously, do it now! Follow with a minute of silent reflection for all those who've been lost in this conflict. Thank you.

Is it a coincidence that this attack follows still more sabre rattling by (you guessed it) The Uber Diplomat sHRUB? Condie (yes, the one with an oil tanker named after her) has an AP video speaking for the American people and promising to assist Lebanon in resisting outside interference in their government. HUH??? That is the most ridiculous thing she could have said given the very hands-on middle-east policy of the kleptocracy. As long as the U.S. administration's oil requires liberation from it's Arab captors we will have my buddies playing in the sand, unless..........

We can change this dynamic through concerted action. Vote at the ballot box as well as with your money. Become informed and stay aware of what's happening in your name and through your purchases. Pay attention to the upcoming presidential election and get your voice heard on the issues that matter most to you (or if you can't think of any contact me and you can push my issues). Write your representatives in multiple levels of government and let them know what's important to you and that you are very influential among your many voting friends.

Our democracy is rapidly being pulled out from under our feet. It's time to pull back hard! If it goes too far we may begin having women blowing themselves up in public right here in the U.S. Please read The Shock Doctrine or check it out on youtube or The Traceless Warrior. We are on a slippery oily slope to a Brave New World.

Let's get over our fossil fuel addiction before it kills us and everyone around us. Sorry this post is so negative, but the idea of female suicide attackers is just so viscerally wrong that I had to just put it out.

Stay tuned for solutions. Feel free to read from the archives and links also. If so inclined you could even do some research and thinking on this and let us know what you find. We are going to need to be networked and active to overcome this.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Compressed Air Cars to hit the Indian Roads in 2008

Posted on by Car Guy (follow links)

I was scooped here by my buddy The Traceless Warrior

Tata Motors, the largest automobile maker of India is all set to manufacture compressed Air Powered cars in 2008.

Other polluted countries could soon follow the Indian example and sign deals with MDI (Moteur Developpment International). The “Zero Pollution Car” as it is being referred to by environmentalists, will definitely make a mark if it is successful in India. Imagine spending almost nothing to fill your car and also helping the environment.

The air car can reach a top speed of 69 mph and can travel about 120 miles on a single fill of compressed air. It takes about 4 hours to fill the tank with compressed air at home or just 2 minutes using an industrial air compressor at the pump. The cost to refill the tank is expected to be approximately $2 for the full tank.

In the future, it is possible that hybrid versions of this air powered cars could soon be in the market. Instead of Electric-Gas Hybrid, other combinations could be Electric-Air or Solar-Air Hybrids.

(Now for some of my thoughts.) We are all aware of many individual improvements that can be made in multiple areas of our lives. Let's explore for a moment the synergistic effect of combining some of the best practices from various disciplines and people. If seriously and consistently pursued, the results would be nothing short of transformational. I believe that we should insist that the next president initiate a sustainability "moonshot". There is no reason that this country should not be way out in front on this. The possibilities with an international collaboration are staggering.

Before we add nifty new gadgets let's determine what results we desire in our private and public lives and then we can begin to plot a course forward. Wherever possible we should simplify. After eliminating the unnecessary and undesirable "stuff" which consumes so much of our resources we should look at ways to share and collaborate.

Since this is a post on transportation let's start there. We have been controlled in many ways by the Big 3 Automakers & Big Oil. Examine the effects of American zoning and land use laws as well as the physical layout of our nation (see image of Levittown). We have what Jim Kunstler calls Clusterf@#k Nation, a sprawling landscape largely scaled to the automobile rather than people (see his book The Geography of Nowhere). How different would things be if folks walked or biked for most of their travels around home. New Urbanism is an architectural movement seeking to recreate the effect of small town living through the inclusion of mixed-use zoning within walking distance of residential clusters. (sidewalks, parks, home-based businesses, mom and pop neighborhood stores, etc.) Maybe we could establish effective and flexible public transportation in more tightly clustered cities (see Curitiba Brazil). This could incorporate compressed air buses and taxis, light rail, rickshaws, horse drawn carriages, and rental bicycles in addition to private autos (air-powered, electric, hybrid, bio-fuel powered). There are many options regarding automobile ownership and use also. People can split ownership burdens and benefits through car sharing. Cars needed only infrequently can be hired or possibly borrowed. Think about how much safer and more tranquil our communities could be without all the automotive traffic they currently have.

More options for transportation would be very significant for those among us who are unable to drive for myriad different reasons (i.e. age, disability, insufficient financial means). We could eliminate the isolation experienced by many who are currently trapped at home (see Madison, Wisconsin in photo above). Perhaps this could reverse the trend of school shootings. I believe this could also seriously reduce the number of dangerously impaired people propelling themselves through our neighborhoods in a game of public Russian Roulette.

Instead of traveling through the world hermetically sealed in an SUV built for one we could be interacting with and getting to know our neighbors. Without having to serve as housing for cars our garages could be re-purposed in a number of ways: as workshops, small-business incubators, additional housing, dedicated space for children, etc. Moving forward we could phase garages out of most housing designs or have them purpose built for more productive use. If eliminated we could use the space they would have occupied in many ways (or simply reduce the sprawl of our cities). We could move toward self-sufficiency by growing food in the space. We could add up the footprint of the hypothetical garages in a neighborhood and use the square footage to create a community garden, park, arboretum, or whatever the local residents wanted. This would raise both the standard of living and the property values in the area.

How much money do we spend on our cars with purchase, maintenance, operation, insurance, fees, taxes, parking, etc.? What is the cost of a typical 2 car garage, both in construction and the land it sits on? What else could we do with all of this money (or the time and energy required to earn it?) I have more than a few ideas on this, but that's a separate discussion (or rant as the case may be).

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that weaning ourselves from fossil fuels will have an enormous impact on our environment as well as our international economic and political situation.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Goin' Back To Cinci'

I just got a call to return to the project in Cincinnati that I had been working on leading up to Christmas. I will return to work there on Monday the 14th and will be working 2nd shift initially. Unfortunately this means that I am having to change many of my plans to be with friends and family in the upcoming weeks, but for strategic economic reasons (broke) I need to do this. My hope is to spend most weekends with the Crumbgobblers in Michigan or have them brought to me. It has been a good break over the last couple of weeks and I've been as far afield as Boulder, Colorado and Long Island, NY. My dear friend Michelle has gotten me looking at some ways to support my family without all the hours or travel, and for this I am eternally grateful. (Thanks Kiwi) Hopefully I can begin implementing these changes in the next few weeks.

One benefit of returning to Cinci' (other than $$$) is that I will have a lot of time for research and blogging once again. I have noticed that actually being with friends and family drastically reduces my time on-line. Sorry dear readers, I do prefer people to pixels.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Martial Madness With KSMA

I arrived at Jay's house in Des Moines Friday night with little warning and was quite warmly greeted by the family (Jay, Paige, and Finn the Barbarian). Jay and I got some food at a great diner and then I went to sleep in the room they reserve for visiting dignitaries (and me). Training began early Saturday morning at Tony ("Look a bird!")'s house. We trained in Silat for about two hours in his basement. It was a really "luxuriant" time overall. Photo when I get a chance.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Hello again,

I've been rather busy with the holidays, so I've unfortunately been neglecting writing and gathering new information for all two of my readers (could you be the third?). Things have been good for my family and me. I am leaving for Colorado in a few hours to help some friends move out of the Rotten Apple (NYC) and into the crisp January air of the Rockies. I will be doing a bit of networking ( and research on this trip and expect to return to Michigan in a week or two. One of my stops will be at an off-grid house outside Boulder. I have forgotten my camera, so hopefully my traveling companions will have one with them. Anyone in the Denver/Boulder area interested in meeting up should contact me by replying to this post.

Take care,