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FM newswire for 22 December, hot articles for your morning reading

22 December 2009

This is what I found interesting, so it’s today’s broadsheet from the FM website pressroom, with several sections of hot news.  Lot’s happening in the world today, mostly either overlooked or misinterpreted by the mainstream media.  

  1. Threats and Degradation“, Tucson Weekly, 10 December 2009 — “A congressman uncovers two buried studies showing the impacts of illegal immigration, smuggling”
  2. U.S. personnel in Iraq could face court-martial for getting pregnant“, Stars and Stripes, 19 December 2009
  3. A Climatology Conspiracy?“, David H. Douglass and John R. Christy, American Thinker, 20 December 2009 — People are putting the liberated CRU emails into a larger context; the result is not pretty.
  4. Price graphs of various commodities adjusted for inflation (aka, in terms of gold), Nathan Lewis, New World Economics, 20 December 2009 — Food is the cheapest it’s ever been in the history of humanity.  Most commodities are at or near their lows.
  5. More woes for geothermal: “Geothermal Project in California Is Shut Down“, New York Times, 12 December 2009 — Bad news for AltaRock.
  6. But it could be worse, so the executives of AltaRock should not complain:  “Head of Geopower Basel faces jail for causing earthquakes“, The Times, 17 December 2009
  7. How Changes in Oil Prices Affect the Macroeconomy, Bank of Canada, Brian DePratto, Carlos de Resende, and Philipp Maier, December 2009 — It’s consensus thinking, but well-researched.

 Book recommendation:  Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery, Seymour Drescher (2009) — See this excellent review in the New York Review of Books (subscription-only).

Also — you can now subscribe, receiving posts by email — see the box on the upper right. 

(2)  About the future, as seen from the past

Looking to kill an hour, fun and fast?  I recommend reading Tales of Future Past, a website showing what the future of today (and beyond) as it was imagined in the 20th century.  Looks of magazine illustrations.

Drawing on the material of the Tales of the Future website, Nathan Lewis at New World Economics gives a satiric look ourselves.  Thank God the future (today) is not what was foreseen in the 1950′s and 1960′s. 

One example from his article:  Food

In the future food is a chemical concoction made by scientists.  One uniform, scientific, factory-made product that provides everything your body needs. How simple!  How clean!  How convenient!

 In The Future, humans eat dogfood.

Let’s see, chemical food that comes from a factory, made by scientists, that doesn’t involve any real cooking but merely pressing a button on the machine.  That doesn’t describe the situation today at all.

(3)  Quote of the day: an expert prescribes doom, followed by savagery

From an article by Daniel Wood in the May 1990 issue of West Magazine (published by the San Jose Mercury News).  It’s widely misquoted on the Internet, touched up for effect.  I cannot verify it; the following looks more or less right (sources here and here).  It’s still a great quote.

Maurice Strong is (per Wikipedia) been active in business, civil service, international development, environment, energy and finance. He is a Canadian expatriate, entrepreneur, environmentalist, and one of the world’s leading proponents of the United Nations’s involvement in world affairs.  Wood related a conversation he had with Maurice Strong regarding a novel Strong wanted to write.

Strong explains as background to the telling of the novel’s plot, the World Economic Forum convenes in Davos, Switzerland. Hundreds of CEO’s, prime ministers, finance ministers, and leading academics gather each February to attend meetings and set the economic agendas for the year ahead. What if a small group of these world leaders were to conclude that the principle risk to the earth comes from the actions of the rich countries? And if the world is to survive, those rich countries would have to sign an agreement reducing their impact on the environment? Will they do it? Will the rich countries agree to reduce their impact on the environment? Will they agree to save the earth?

The group’s conclusions is ‘no.’ The rich countries won’t do it. They won’t change. So, in order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilization collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?

Such sentiments become increasingly common as the Greens’ minds become increasingly dominated with fantasies of doom — estcatalogical nightmares.  Perhaps that’s all for the best, nature’s way of marginalizing them from the mainstream of political and social life.

(4)  Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).  

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Sera permalink
    22 December 2009 6:10 am

    “Such sentiments become increasingly common as the Greens’ minds become increasingly dominated with fantasies of doom — estcatalogical nightmares. Perhaps that’s all for the best, nature’s way of marginalizing them from the mainstream of political and social life.”

    Some say that they may win, after all is said and done. Anyway, thanks for the ‘Gift Ideas’ and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. All the best to you and yours,

    Sera

    Like

  2. Mikyo permalink
    22 December 2009 9:59 am

    Wee fish ewe mare egrets moose. Panda hippo gnu deer :)

    Like

  3. Mikyo permalink
    22 December 2009 11:56 am

    If the catastrophists win, what will be the prize? Who will collect it?

    Like

  4. atheist permalink
    22 December 2009 2:18 pm

    FM: “Such sentiments become increasingly common as the Greens’ minds become increasingly dominated with fantasies of doom — estcatalogical nightmares. Perhaps that’s all for the best, nature’s way of marginalizing them from the mainstream of political and social life.

    There are certainly folks like Mr. Strong, who look at the massive, deep, and wide-reaching changes that would be required to get our civilization off of fossil fuels, and despair of ever doing it. On the other hand, there are also plenty of folks like Sara Robinson, who focus on homosapiens’ progress toward at least understanding the problem and what has to happen to fix it: (“Copenhagen: Getting past the urgency trap – crisis or no crisis, you can’t rush change“, Grist Magazine, Nov. 18, 2009, by Sara Robinson). People like Sara Robinson don’t focus on eschatalogical nightmares, instead they patiently and determinedly work for social change.
    .
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    FM reply: That’s an important point, and shows that mine was poorly expressed.

    The significance of the extreme doomsters lies not in their numbers, or their percent of the greens (who themselves the extreme end of the environmentalist near-majority in America) — but in the comfortable home they’ve found among the greens. That is, the acceptance of doomsters and ecological terrorists (related vintages) by the greens (and to a lesser degree among environmentalists) is a telling fact.

    I don’t believe similar extremists found a comfortable home on the right. For example, Pat Buchanan was exiled from the Republicans. The anti-abortion terrorists were strongly condemned.

    Like

  5. Buzz Killington permalink
    22 December 2009 2:24 pm

    I’m eager for food in pill form, myself.

    Like

  6. atheist permalink
    22 December 2009 2:32 pm

    Anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and have a great New Year everyone!

    Like

  7. Albertde permalink
    22 December 2009 4:06 pm

    The real problem is not climate change but the end of “easy oil”. By this I mean that as the price of oil goes up, it is profitable to exploit hard-to-reach oil deposits but as more of this oil becomes available, the price will drop making it uneconomical for the exploitation of these deposits, which again raises the price. So it is reasonable to expect the price of oil to fluctuate wildly until all the easy to reach oil is gone.
    .
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    FM reply: I suspect this is unlikely for oil (although it’s happening in US natural gas, a tiny market). The supply of oil from unconventional and alternative sources is less than production declines from existing fields. So there is no net addition to global oil production. The recent increases come from conventional fields in the Middle East (Saudi, Kuwait, and eventually Iraq).

    Like

  8. 22 December 2009 6:57 pm

    I believe having children (note the plural) is a fundamental right of each woman and that any society where women can not have children (whether by law as China or because of economic conditions as Europe) is a failed society.

    On the other hand is it fair to take the enlistment bonus and then get out of the war zone by getting pregnant?

    Like

  9. Mike Goldthorpe permalink
    22 December 2009 10:01 pm

    Having children is a woman’s (and man’s come to that) right….but with rights there come responsibilities. There’s nothing stopping the US Army’s women from having children – but they signed a contract to provide a service that requires them, basically, not to become pregnant and leave before the contract ends.
    Just because it is a right doesn’t mean it is a must. These women are not prohibited from having children – they knowingly chose a profession that discourages it. The can always quit to start a family or chose another career (another right they have).
    .
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    FM reply: I don’t understand this business of rights, as used in America today. We have contractual rights under the Consititution, in return for our obligations to the State (The Declaration is poetry and political rhetoric, nothing more). Other than that, who gives rights? God, perhaps, to the faithful — but often at high cost.

    “Having children is a woman’s (and man’s come to that) right”

    Not if one dies early. Or is infertile. Or due to poverty and uglieness cannot find a mate. Who gives this right? Who enforces it?

    Like

  10. anna nicholas permalink
    22 December 2009 11:26 pm

    I am looking at a bag of dogfood that claims to contain Real Meat . It is not the cheaper brand my dogs have , which presumably contains Unreal Meat . Soaked and reformed , it looks strikingly like the meals my junior trainee buys in pretty packets , microwaves and feeds herself and her boyfriend on . She calls this My Mum likes me to Eat Properly .

    Having children a right ? Most of this lottery depends on events outside an individual’s control .( And remember ,childrenare not given but lent !)

    Like

  11. 23 December 2009 3:37 pm

    Thanks a bunch for the graphs! I think that gold is not really the best ‘solid money’ for graphs, tho, at least, not spot-price values.

    I wish there was a graph in ‘Average US taxpayer’s hourly wage’, for 1000 bushels, how many hours worked? (estimated before good tax statistics, perhaps). An hour of your working life is the most constantly valuable ‘thing’ I can currently imagine. (I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.)
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    FM reply: Purchasing power of labor is nothing remotely like a “constantly valuable thing”, as it changes over time. Fortunately it’s greatly increased over time due to increases in productivity (from capital accumulation and new technology). Our ability to buy wheat in terms of hours worked is different than the subject under discussion, and almost meaningless (raw materials are a tiny fraction of end product prices, even for food).

    Like

  12. 23 December 2009 5:57 pm

    “FM reply: I don’t understand this business of rights”

    What you (or I or anybody) don’t understand in this world could fill whole libraries, I was stating a philosophical position and not a legal one.

    “Not if one dies early. Or is infertile. Or due to poverty and uglieness cannot find a mate. Who gives this right? Who enforces it?”

    1) The dead have no rights.
    2) If the land is barren, the farmer is not at fault.
    3) Poverty never stopped procreation, actually the most fertile are the poorest (wiki source). While in “rich” countries women who want children can’t have them because of economics!
    4) Lack of physical beauty never stopped a woman getting pregnant.
    5) If she can’t find a mate, that is her problem. Most women in infertile Western countries are sexually active and sperm banks are the only banks that don’t need a bailout, that is clearly not the issue.
    6) I gave the right, see above (“I believe having children…“).
    7) If it needs enforcing, then calling it a right is pointless! Only the edicts of tyrants need enforcing.
    .
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    FM reply: I stated that poorly. I was expressing weak disagreement on this philosophical point, not giving a correction.

    Like

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