“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

While the US Government Destroys Capital, China Builds the Electric Car

Their Moon Shot and Ours
NY Times
Published: September 25, 2010

China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

Not to worry. America today also has its own multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan.

This contrast is not good. I was recently at a Washington Nationals baseball game. While waiting for a hot dog, I overheard the conversation behind me. A management consultant for a big national firm was telling his colleagues that his job was to “market products to the Department of Homeland Security.” I thought to myself: “Oh, my! Inventing studies about terrorist threats and selling them to the U.S. government, is that an industry now?”

We’re out of balance — the balance between security and prosperity. We need to be in a race with China, not just Al Qaeda. Let’s start with electric cars.

The electric car industry is pivotal for three reasons, argues Shai Agassi, the C.E.O. of Better Place, a global electric car company that next year will begin operating national electric car networks in Israel and Denmark. First, the auto industry was the foundation for America’s manufacturing middle class. Second, the country that replaces gasoline-powered vehicles with electric-powered vehicles — in an age of steadily rising oil prices and steadily falling battery prices — will have a huge cost advantage and independence from imported oil. Third, electric cars are full of power electronics and software. “Think of the applications industry that will be spun out from electric cars,” says Agassi. It will be the iPhone on steroids.

Europe is using $7-a-gallon gasoline to stimulate the market for electric cars; China is using $5-a-gallon and naming electric cars as one of the industrial pillars for its five-year growth plan. And America? President Obama has directed stimulus money at electric cars, but he is unwilling to do the one thing that would create the sustained consumer pull required to grow an electric car industry here: raise taxes on gasoline. Price matters. Sure, the Moore’s Law of electric cars — “the cost per mile of the electric car battery will be cut in half every 18 months” — will steadily drive the cost down, says Agassi, but only once we get scale production going. U.S. companies can do that on their own or in collaboration with Chinese ones. But God save us if we don’t do it at all.

Two weeks ago, I visited the Coda Automotive battery facility in Tianjin, China — a joint venture between U.S. innovators and investors, China’s Lishen battery company and China National Offshore Oil Company. Yes, China’s oil company is using profits to develop batteries.

Kevin Czinger, Coda’s C.E.O., who drove me around Manhattan in his company’s soon-to-be-in-production electric car last week, laid out what is going on. The backbone of the modern U.S. economy was locally made cars powered by locally produced oil. It started us on a huge growth spurt. In recent decades, though, that industry was supplanted by foreign-made cars run on foreign oil, so “now every time we buy a car we’re exporting $15,000 of capital, paying for it with borrowed money and running it on foreign energy sources,” says Czinger. “We’ve gone from autos being a middle-class-making-machine to a middle-class-destroying-machine.” A U.S. electric car/battery industry would reverse that.

The Coda, 14,000 of which will be on the road in California over the next year and can travel 100 miles on one overnight charge, is a combination of Chinese-made batteries and complex American-system electronics — all final-assembled in Oakland (price: $37,000). It is a win-win start-up for both countries.

If we both now create the market incentives for consumers to buy electric cars, and the plug-in infrastructure for people to drive them everywhere, it will be a win-win moon shot for both countries. The electric car industry will flourish in the U.S. and China, and together we’ll tackle the next challenge: using auto battery innovations to build big storage batteries for wind and solar. However, if only China puts the gasoline prices and infrastructure in place, the industry will gravitate there. It will be a moon shot for them, a hobby for us, and you’ll import your new electric car from China just like you’re now importing your oil from Saudi Arabia.


  1. That is one of the challenges to being a consuming and not a manufacturing country, bob.

    It is just one of the lessons we in the US should take to heart.

  2. I've heard this nonsense for years. Everyone wants to hit gasoline with large taxes in order to finance their favorite scheme.

    Tell me, what's so good about a $37K car that can go 100 miles on a charge? Sounds like they stole the technology from the GM Volt. And good luck selling those $37K cars in the US.

    I am a believer in the market because it's all about the bottom line. Government on the other hand is all about social engineering which they can do about as well as anything else they do.

  3. Tom Friedman is a dick.

    He openly fawns on China's government controlled and manipulated economy and figures their intimidating merchantilism is preferable to free trade.

    However, he is correct in stating the US does zip in promoting any kind of industrial policy supporting it's own key industries including pushing for fair trade policies.

    China is not an innovator. They pressure and intimidate to acquire any technololgy they cannot steal, and we and the rest of the world let them get away with it.

    Long-term sefdom and exclusion for short term gain. The curse of the Western business class. Once China has the technology, their majority ownership start sqeezing out the foreign barbarians.

    Mr. Ghosn's remarks on electric vehicles, made at a news conference Monday after the opening of a factory in this central Chinese city, came as China's government weighs the draft of ten-year plan that would set rules for how foreign auto makers transfer key technology to China if they opt to produce and market electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the nation, the world's largest auto market.

    The plan, being prepared by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, has worried international auto executives because it suggests the government could compel foreign auto makers that want to produce electric vehicles in China to share critical technologies by requiring them to enter joint ventures in which they have minority stakes.

    China Sticks It To The World

    Nissan figures if they don't bend to China's extortion someone else will. Might as well cash in on them short term profits.


  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I've said it before but it bears repeating anytime this battery stuff comes up.

    If Vice President Al Gore (we all know how brilliant he is, right) couldn't get anywhere while leading the National Battery Consortium, who can?

    Seems to me that the battery manufacturers would be all over this but all I hear is that some upstarts need a mere $1 or $2 billion to get started. Always somebody with their hand out.

  6. Well, whit, if gasoline were taxed, to pay for the military expense to defend the supply lines, the price of gasoline could easily double.

    Bringing the price of gasoline in line with its costs, that $37,000 could look cheap.

    500 miles of commuting a week, at 25mpg, is 20 gallons of gas.
    At $5.00 per gallon, that's $420 per month. On top of the price of the car.

  7. I thought it was too tedious and time consuming to go around deleting comments (at least this was the response to a request to address rat's continual defiance)? apparently that doesn't hold water when it comes to historical links on WWII and mustard gas usage against Ethiopians.

    I guess people's word doesn't really mean anything anyways.

  8. How much will it cost to recharge those puppies once you get home every night?

  9. The post on mustard gas in Ethiopia is still up on the previous thread.

    Anonymous posters shouldn't get uppity.

  10. Anonymous posting will be tolerated if done in a dhimmified, respectful manner.

    Okay, I'm kidding, somewhat.

  11. I'm for deleting all references to the sicknesses known as star reading and horoscopes from here on out!!

    That evil art saps the human will.

    We're supposed to be grow ups now.

    Just my simple opinion. Quirk's pretty good on all the other topics.

  12. No, whit.

    bob brought up Israel, telling us they were producing an electric car and battery swap technology.

    That is not true. They were merely building infrastructure to exploit the technological advances of others.

    Renault and Nissan are developing the car. It is being built in Turkey.

    The Turks are publicly stating that they may limit exports to Israel, because of what they describe as piracy in the Med.

    This is all factual and on the theme of the thread.

    Manufacturing vs Consuming.

    Electric autos and the infrastructure required to support them.
    Will Better Place build out the proposed charging stations in Israel, if they are not assured of a supply of the Renault cars?

    That is all relevant to the topic of the day.

  13. It may be relevant Ed/Rat but when brought up by you, due to your history it looks likes your ongoing propaganda campaign. I'm not saying it is or that you intended it as such but since you have a long rap sheet and an MO of using the shiv this way, it just looks ugly...know what I mean?

  14. bob brought up Israel, telling us they were producing an electric car and battery swap technology.

    Well, I thought I did, but sure don't see it now.

  15. What lessons are there, in the Israeli situation, that can be learned by US?

    Should the US be dependent upon foreign manufacturers for its automotive needs?

    That even applies to GM and the plants in Mexico and Canada.

  16. Looks can be deceiving, whit.

    It was all factual and on topic.

    Have nice day censoring facts.

  17. Facts that point out the dangers of being dependent upon foreign suppliers.

  18. Whit your delete capacity has really improved.

    But I don't understand what's wrong with simply mentioning Israel is working on some battery swapping idea.

    Ah well, no big deal.

  19. Even the post about deleting all libidinal references is gone.

    Unless I dreamed that.

    Whit plays fair.

    If such were deleted, this place would collapse.


    Back to bed.

  20. Just stopped by to say that Rat / Ed is still the Jew hating, Israel hating troll that he always has been and will be.

    To see how he dominates the Bar is disgusting.

  21. My understanding is you can't hardly give an electric car away in China. The people don't like'm. They want liquid fueled cars.

    As Whit put it, they don't want to pay $37,000.00 to be tied to a 100 mile tether.

    I can't for the life of me understand why they think the cost of batteries is going to come down very much (at least, after a possible initial drop.)

  22. BTW, that 100 miles is a real big "maybe." IF the weather is "just right" (not too hot, not too cold, etc.)

  23. I just returned from a trip to Latin America and for the first time I came back with the impression that people are no longer impressed with what happens in the US. Nothing malicious, We have left opportunities that others have stepped into.


  24. Trolls in Sweden--

    In Norse mythology, a troll is a generally negative synonym for jötunn. In Scandinavian folklore, trolls became beings in their own right. In modern times, trolls are depicted in a variety of media.

    In Norse mythology, troll, like thurs is a term applied to jötnar. In Old Norse sources, trolls are said to dwell in isolated mountains, rocks, and caves, sometimes live together (usually as father-and-daughter or mother-and-son), and are rarely described as helpful or friendly.[1]

    Later, in Scandinavian folklore, trolls become defined as a particular beings, generally held to be larger than humans and notably ugly.[2] Numerous tales about trolls are recorded, in which they are frequently described as being extremely old, very strong, but slow and dim-witted. They are sometimes described as man-eaters and as turning to stone upon contact with sunlight. Into the 20th century, the origins of particular Scandinavian landmarks, such as particular stones, are ascribed to trolls.[3]

    A Scandinavian folk belief that lightning frightens away trolls and jötnar appears in numerous Scandinavian folktales, and may be a late reflection of the god Thor's role in fighting such beings. In connection, the lack of trolls and jötnar in modern Scandinavia is explained as a result of the "accuracy and efficiency of the lightning strokes".[4]

    I thought trolls were little suckers that lived under bridges.

    When the kids were small, we'd always have to stop at the bridge going into the lake so they could get out and look under to check for trolls.

    There's no lightning as accurate and deadly as Scandinavian lightning.

  25. I don't drive nearly as much as most folks; however, many days I Do need to drive more than 100 miles.

    I support a lot of new technologies, but I can't help but think this one is Way over-hyped.

  26. Deuce, could that, to some extent, be a "Good" Thing?

  27. Trolls.... sometimes live together (usually as father-and-daughter or mother-and-son)

    aha, see what I've learned, those Swedes were onto it long before Freud.

  28. I could hardly get to Moscow and back on a hundred miles.

    Going to Vegas would take two weeks.

    The Motel 6 on Tropicana is going for $29/night.

    The Golden Nugget $59 midweek, over a hundred around the weekends.

    Two rooms for sixty bucks in the very heart of all the excitement! It's Motel 6 for us.

    I may go to a political speech or two if the opportunity arises. I want to see how bad the housing prices are. Son is hot to play blackjack.

  29. An electric car is a second car. The other car could be ethanol and in the right combination could eliminate all imported oil. That in itself is a worthy goal.

    Assume a $40,000 electric car with a full payout lease 70 month lease. $700 a month would probably cover it.

    At $700 per month and $5 gallon, 20 miles per gallon, you have to drive miles 2800 miles or twenty eight 100 mile days.

    Obviously you have to add in the cost of electricity, but it can make economic sense.

  30. Can that be a good thing?

    China is starting to dictate terms with its neighbors, bullying Japan, a recent example.

    China is not a good thing.

    My point is that the US government because of imported oil is way too involved in people and places that do us no good and missing growth opportunities in America from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

  31. The Fifth Chinese Investment

    Past tense actually. As of 2010 they're Done.

    $12 billion USD Investment.

    $35-$40/barrel break-even cost.

  32. The Fifth Chinese Investment: CTL

    Past tense actually. As of 2010 they're Done.

    $12 billion USD Investment.

    $35-$40/barrel break-even cost.

  33. Here's some numbers based on a 3 year lease of a Honda Civic at $169 per month (total payment including taxes).

    Total lease payments plus 12K miles per year at avg $2.75 per gallon (30 mpg) divided by 36 = about $199 per month for lease and fuel.


  34. I support a lot of new technologies, but I can't help but think this one is Way over-hyped.

    There will be room for all of it. What works in Israel won't work in Iowa. Mat would never agree to that point. Current battery technology is capped. Functionality will remain capped (and confined to appropriate locales) until technology busts out.

  35. That evil art saps the human will.

    Only for nitwits that take it seriously.

    We're supposed to be grow ups now.


    Cut it out Bob, you're killing me.


  36. I would more likely lean toward Both cars being ethanol. :)

    I'll guarantee you, within the first couple of months of buying an electric car you're going to get a call on your cell phone that your wife and kids are stranded somewhere on the side of the road.

    The BEV will be "traded" within the fortnight.

    If it's hot, and she's running the air conditioner her mileage will go down. If it's cold, and she's running the heater her mileage will go down. If she gets a call, and has to go pick up one of the kids after work, and the mileage isn't there YOU go down.

    I just can't believe in it.

  37. Cut it out Bob, you're killing me.

    My intent all along, my frienemy.

    The fools and the knaves smiled upon by God--heh, perfect Quirk.

  38. Here's the deal, as per Whit's link:

    If I save $800.00/yr on fuel I'll Never get my money back. I'll save $8,000.00 over 10 years, and my resale value will be, exactly, zero.

    Now, admittedly, a ten year old car isn't worth a whole hell of a lot, anyway - maybe $1,500.00? But $1,500.00 is fifteen hundred more than zero.

    So, I've spent an extra $10,000.00 (at least) for the batteries, saved $8,000.00, and lost $1,500.00 on trade-in, for a net loss of $3,500.00 - all the while adding another "complexity" into my life.

    It just seems like a "bridge too far."

  39. I just can't believe in it.

    Actually, I try to look at it objectively and look for a way the battery technology will work on a large scale over an extended period of time.

    Despite the fact that people don't like them, that they require smaller lighter vehicles than people have been willing to accept, that they are expensive, I keep trying to look for the positives. I just haven't seen them yet.

    One thing I never got was what you do with the batteries (in probably thousand of different configurations to fit the various car styling) when their useful life is over, probably millions per year in the future.

    Some companies are already talking about taking the used batteries and building them into banks to work in supporting solar and wind systems.

    So we are projecting using obsolete material from a technology that hasn't been developed yet and using it to support other technologies that haven't been developed yet.

    Good luck.


  40. The Chinese aren't ever going to forgive the Japanese for all they did to them. And, it's hard to blame them for it.

  41. Dang, I'm thinking of a line by Roethke about God's smile, God graced and smiled down this space, or something, but can't recall it.

    Didn't have anything to do with fools and knaves, though.

    My wife would buy an electric car in a heart beat. On the hand me down principle in effect around here, where I get the latest clunker, I'd be driving it in about ten years.

  42. The great mostly untold story of the time, Rufus.

  43. I have to accept that I might be wrong. Lord knows, I have missed new technologies in the past. This could be another one.

    But, I don't think so. :)

  44. So, how are The Boys of the Bar today?

    Miss me?

  45. I have to accept that I might be wrong.

    A sign of weakness around here, Rufus.

  46. The "telling" statistic, to me, is that less than 20% of Prius buyers buy another hybrid, Prius, or otherwise.

  47. Desperately.

    Quirk got his clock cleaned last night.

  48. The fools and the knaves smiled upon by God--heh, perfect Quirk.

    You provencial hick. There are more things in heaven and earth than dreamed of in you philosophy.

    Everyone knows the gods favor the fool. However, the more sophisticated mythologies such as that of the Polish and X-Box (i.e. Prince of Persia) recognize the knave as hero. Can't be bothered by late blooming posuers such as the Norse.


  49. Trish is here to check your spelling, illiterate.

  50. Re: Cleaning Lady and the 5th Chinese Investment.

    For the life of me I don't understand why the US hasn't done something to get off the foreign oil tit...

    As Rufus knows from my previous questions I've long been interested in CTL.

    My understanding is that some of the Chinese CTL operations are using licensed, from the DOE, US technology.

    I mean WTF!!!

    And wasn't it just last week that some admin official reaffirmed that "coal is dead?"

    Going back to that "Iraq adventure" thread one of the big head scratchers I had/have is why there never was a Manhattan Project like effort to become energy independent...

    I really find this whole area beyond understanding. I can't even come up with a believable (at least to me) conspiracy theory...

    I will say that I believe that Bush's heart was in the right place. At least until it seemed like somebody put a horse's head in his bed...

    My inclination to this way of thinking was nudged by an alt energy talk I attended maybe 5 years ago. I think I've mentioned it here.

    Audience was all lefties (Yes, I was with a woman friend!) and the speaker was met with disbelief/hisses when he said we wouldn't have a cellulosic ethanol program without Bush's behind the scenes help...

    I don't have any ideas or thoughts about where we're going. I'm just numb right now.

    Not a good feeling...

    (Well, I will admit I do get a tickle of interest when Buddy asks if we find it interesting that BP named that well Macondo...)


  51. Quirk got his clock cleaned last night.

    By a man who doesn't know the difference between a Scorpio and a Libra?


    Although cleaning clocks while probably stretching your technical capability would likely keep you out of trouble and amused for a time.

    Kinda like a kitten chasing a bow tied to a string.

    Couldn't hurt.


  52. Must admit I did miss her constant carping over my literary shortcomings.

    Sweet Trish.


  53. Kinda

    That's my word.

    I got your brain like a ball of string.

  54. Looking at some numbers, it seems that an electric car would cost me three times as much as a Honda Civic gas.

  55. Coal to Liquid won't work, gnossos. Just too damned expensive. The refineries are ecological disasters, and cost a Fortune.

    The Sauds, and the oil companies have spent a King's ransom on propaganda (mostly financing faux-green organizations) attacking ethanol, and biofuels.

    Bizarrely enough, they hit their "home run" with CO2, and phonied up "science" attacking biofuels on "global warming" grounds. Quite deranged, for sure. But, very effective.

    It'll work for awhile, longer; but even their Bazillions won't be able to keep the lid on forever. The "electric" car is just a delaying tactic. A distraction to keep the fools occupied while they drain as much more of our treasury as they can.

  56. What does "Macondo" mean?

  57. Of course, you were conspicuous by your absence. I was beginning to wonder where you were and if you were ever going to resurface?

    I thought maybe you were taking a mental health break. :)

  58. Honda Civics are good cars, my son has one, selling it now.

    A kid my daughter and I gave a ride to from Cd'A had one, said he wanted to blow the engine for some odd reason, and fed in a couple lots of 50% nitrous (?) or something , screamed it all the way up, didn't harm the engine at all. Tough engines in those Honda Civics, I'm told. My son's has over 200,000, runs like a Swiss clock.

  59. I didn't read the last paragraph. I thought this was a rah rah piece for China New Kid on the Block.

    More like Friedman (et al) anxious to see the proles in bumper cars.

    A personal aesthetic as much as anything else.

  60. I told him to just drain the oil out, turn it on, leave it.

  61. That's right, children is more like it Melody.

  62. All under aged drinkers, at any rate.

  63. It's alive.

    The 'Wild Man' lives and walks the fields of Moscow, Idaho.

    Recent reports (subsequent to the posted link) indicate that at least one Neanderthal has been spotted in casinos near Moscow on "free t-shirt" nights.

    Bob Lives


  64. I was referring to boys vs girls.

  65. The Nez Perce reported a yeti over by Lapwai, but it wasn't me cause I was home at the time.

  66. You girls are all under age too.

  67. why there never was a Manhattan Project like effort to become energy independent...

    The Carter years which you probably recall. The price of oil fell back through the floor and that was the end of that.

    Rentech and the Army are the only entities picking it up in this country. Both depend on DOD contracts. And, AFAIK, they are working independently of each other. Nice.

    Rufus - the Chinese are sequestering their CO2. So is Rentech.

    (I find it interesting when I understand anything that buddy larsen says without going into brain freeze ::))

  68. Just saw a bit on tv talking about our bloated military.

    It indicated we have more band members in the military than we have foreign service personnell (over 6000).

    Gates says he wants to cut $100 million from the military budget.

    I say a good start would be in getting rid of the bands and hiring DJ's.


  69. Rufus,

    re CTL. As The Cleaning Lady mentioned in her comment CTL is cost effective at $35-40 bbl oil equivalent...

    Those were the numbers I saw as well....

    As far as the refineries being too expensive and too dirty...

    The process that I understand the Chinese are licensing from us can use existing oil refineries. And, as I understand, it was planned with that in mind. (The program was started back in the Carter era/oil embargo days. And mothballed/forgotten after Reagan came in and oil prices went down...)

    The coal arrives by train (I believe there are at least a couple of shut down refineries in coal country...) and is crushed and converted to slurry and then fed into pretty much the existing system...

    I was told that the CTL system I was interested in could easily meet very restrictive pollution requirements. (Details on request. I might need some time to dig out the research I did.)


  70. And horoscope experts for strategy and tactics. Said more or less seriously.

  71. CTL? We'll see. I don't think they can do it for that. But, like I said, I've been wrong before.

    On a related note: Conoco Philips says the Alaska Pipeline could be shut down as early as 2015.

    We're down to about 630,000 bbl/day (it was 2,000,000 bbl/day at peak,) and Minimum Operating Level is about 500,000 bbl/day.

  72. Bob you must need sleep. What I meant was…oh forget it.

  73. Rufus,

    re: Macondo

    I wish I could find the post Buddy made on that... One of those wonderful jazz like riffs Buddy is wont to do... When I read them, usually posted later in the evening, I find myself thinking "in vino veritas."

    Anyway, the gist of the thought, at least the way I got it, goes along these lines:

    Macondo was the name of the town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Hundred Years of Solitude."

    And that yarn can be interpreted a couple of ways. One being that nasty capitalism came to ruin an idyllic life...

    The reserve BP was drilling is thought to possibly be a huge elephant. Another Saudi. If so, what would that do to to the "green" movement?

    So there's this thought that the Macondo blow out was possibly ginned up from the start. And some wise guy picked the name thinking it was such an inside joke the rubes would never get it.

    That idea (conspiracy theory) gains a little cred when you look back and see Lord Browne leading the carbon credit crusade. And BP's deep involvement with Obama and company.

    I don't understand Obama's energy program. (Or, rather, lack of one...) To me it almost seems he wants to "take us down." I know that sounds crazy but...?

    From BP's point of view I look back at the result of the states' tobacco law suits.

    You can correct my understanding, it's not an educated one, just "follow the money" conclusions I've drawn...

    Why did the tobacco companies roll over so easily (imo)?

    Because they got insulated from competition. They were essentially guaranteed monopoly status. And any cost could be passed on.

    The states essentially got a new, stealth, source of income. Another hidden, unvoted on tax.


  74. I think I got it, Melody.

    But if I didn't, blame it on this--


    Terazosin (marketed as Hytrin) is a selective alpha 1 antagonist used for treatment of symptoms of an enlarged prostate (BPH). It also acts to lower the blood pressure, and is therefore a drug of choice for men with hypertension and prostate enlargement.

    It works by blocking the action of adrenaline on smooth muscle of the bladder and the blood vessel walls.

    Most common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, constipation, loss of appetite, fatigue, nasal congestion or dry eyes, but they generally go away after only a few days of use. Therapy should always be started with a low dose to avoid first dose phenomenon.[1] Sexual side effects are rare, but may include priapism or erectile dysfunction.

    You try operating without adrenaline sometime, see how far you get :)

    Yet I can still beat Quirk.

  75. You know, that's weird now that I think about it, gnossos;

    I've never read Any speculation on how big that Macondo Reservoir is suspected to be. MY hunch is, it's pretty danged large.

    It takes a lot of drilling to be sure, though. First you drill a successful well, and then you start systematically drilling around it to identify the perimeters, and the pressures, and the types of rock, etc.

    But, That sucker did come a screamin' outta there. That's a danged good sign (if you can keep it reined in, that is.) :)

  76. That's a neat photo, by the way.

  77. That Conoco pipeline story about 2015 shutdown sounds dubious.

  78. I'd, also, hate to admit how many times I've looked at what Obama's done on energy, and thought, "Goddamn, what's he trying to do? Kill us?"

    Sometimes it almost looks like the Perfect strategy to "bring America down."

  79. Little Terazosin con sleeping pills, you're set to sleep sitting up.

  80. It's Not dubious, Whit. It used to take a barrel of oil 4 days to traverse the pipeline; now it takes 13 days.

    The reason that's important is: if it takes "too" long the oil cools off enough to congeal. As one wag said it, "you end up with the world's biggest, longest chapstick."

    Now, admittedly, 500,000 bbl/day is a lot of oil to leave stranded, so you suspect they'll be able to figure "something" out. However, remember why the pipeline was built in the first place; it was the only "feasible" way of getting the oil from the North Slope to the contiguous states.

  81. Well, as I was saying but unable to post due to technical difficulties...

    I actually have nothing else to say.

    I'm working on a sedated nap.

  82. Sexual side effects are rare, but may include priapism or erectile dysfunction.

    It's the dreaded priapism I worry about, a true medical emergency, but so far there's been no sign of that, thanks be to allah.

  83. I think I'll join you.

    Me here, you there, I mean.

    Didn't get a wink last night.

  84. This comment has been removed by the author.

  85. Macondo is a psychic shiver that sits in the back of your spine.

    Bl describes a (lengthy) list of out-of-SOP events leading to the blowout. Pretty damning.

    BP went into this well with a less than sterling world wide rep. My guess is they will be just fine. No consequences of any note.

    Except the desired one.

    It's hard to know what to believe anymore.

    Except They Do think We are Stupid. All of Them.

  86. Quirk,

    Military band members vs djs...

    Two quick thoughts/memories.

    I was working at Tan Son Nhut and they had this Conelrad like fm station separate from the AFR station... Way I heard it some colonel thought it would be a good idea... After it got set up it was kinda forgotten. So we had this low fi rig, sometimes only one side of the stereo would be working, playing whatever the guy spinnin' the discs wanted to play.

    I never heard any talk...

    And the best part, as far as the conelrad alert went, was that when the rockets started coming in and we'd grab our foam pads and such and boogie to the conex shelter, what do you think that dj would spin?


    Every time.


  87. This comment has been removed by the author.

  88. Okay, three memories.

    (I'll get to the cogent second one in a minute.)

    One night at the Gemini 11, the club all full of ossifers and round eye nurses, somebody got to the sound system and played the Electric Flag's Killing Floor

    buzz kill.


  89. Good to see you're still around, Trish. I hope you're taking care of yourself.

  90. As Bob Frost said, "Many beers to go before I sleep."

  91. Military band members.

    I was in a conversation a couple of months ago in Hawaii with a member of the Air Force band.

    Interesting chat. The guy said the Air Force band is the only one that expects its members to come in with chops...

    The other services have training programs...

    So his attitude was that the AF had the only "pro" group.

    Said, as I remember, that they all had to be proficient on their instruments, read music, etc.

    Also, surprising to me, said that most were like him. Had degrees in music.

    He signed up in his late 20s. For the money. He was 4 years into his six year hitch. E-5 I think. And I was pretty surprised at what he made. Don't want to say as I'm not sure, but it sure seemed to be a lot.

    What did stick, though, was the $1400/mo housing allowance. Paid in cash.

    Meaning he got it whatever his sleeping arrangements were.

    Shack up with a girl friend and pocket the loot.

    Or pool it with 2 - 3 others and get a pretty nice pad...

    I asked about what he did during the day...

    Got an embarrassed look in reply.

    Apparently, after a crack down, they now have to show up at the shop in the morning...

    They have a couple of ceremonial gigs a week. Maybe.

    Sometimes they get to fly out to Guam or some such place and play a tune or two...

    The guy was gigging on the side.

    In a couple of respected groups...


  92. Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.
    - Thomas Jones

  93. Well, my son had to take back his Ipod.

  94. Now that's a poem that sounds like it says--

    Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound's the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    The only other sound's the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.


  95. i have an ipod for sale its brand new

  96. It's not selling cause you advertised that a couple weeks ago.

    Eight beats second stress AABA/AABA/AABA/AAAA


  97. The interface between Bob Frost's brain and non-local noumenal consciousness wasn't occluded by anything physicalwhen he wrote that puppy. Straight from heaven.

  98. I'll trade you a brand new Nintendo.

    A nervous relative was forced into a week hospital stay not long ago. I purchased a Nintendo DS Lite mistakenly thinking it would play movies - without any encouragement from me - plug 'n play.


    Actually I was feeling quite smug with myself after the dust settled (not in the Q sense but in the 'aren't I fine' sense.)

    Did the research. Ordered the parts - hardware and software. Loaded the movies. (It can be done - legally - I think.)

    Talk about all dressed up and nowhere to go.

    A few weeks later, after the patient was home and back to routine, I tried to sell my souped up jalopy on Craig's List. I got one response from a woman that wanted a lifetime warranty, a free toaster and a 24-hr support line.

  99. It might as well have a battery in it.

    I literally can't give it away.

    Oh that's right, it does.

  100. Well, my son had to take back his Ipod

    Did I miss something? Did he have to take it back to the store or take it back from you?

  101. Mel, why don't you want to keep it?

  102. Sorry, CL, this a profit transaction only, I already have one and got it free with my Mac purchase. That's the up side of having a daughter in college I got the student discount and a free Ipod touch.

    I'll sell as soon as I get my ass in gear and put it up on EBay.

  103. I already have one. It's an 8 gig. I'm not really sure how many songs it holds but for me way too many. At first I had offered it to my daughter and she said that it was too small that she needed the 32 gig.

    Well, how many songs can one person have you ask. My nephew told me last night that he has over 5000 songs on his IPod. Whaaaaaat… Good Lord

  104. I have a 32 gig Ipod Touch which backs up my music library. I also have my old and trusty 2 gig Nano which is my "daily driver."

  105. What on earth would someone do with that many songs? I know there are other applications and more memory that people need for certain things but I just use mine for music.

  106. Not everyone has that many songs but they also keep photos, videos, games, podcasts, address books etc on them.

    All my photos are also backed up on the Touch.

    Plus, I've got a 500 gig external hard drive that I back up my laptop to.

  107. I bet even myself.

    Odd not being my lucky throw.

  108. A warranty.

    On a $100 toy (plus or minus.)

    I'm still digesting that.

  109. One of my neighbors has been out on her back porch calling, "Here, kitty kitty kitty," in the most obnoxious voice for the past, oh I dunno, 20 minutes.

    If I were the kitty, I would stay away.

  110. You are really good.

    But you knew that didn't you.

  111. Oh, my God, and she's still at it.

  112. Change o' plans. Looks like Hooter's, two rooms, $100 free money per room per day, I think he said.

    I'm just the camera man.

  113. Just please don't tell me you're that woman.

  114. Calico got hooked on the screen door by all four paws the other night. Might have died, if we'd been gone a week. Halfway up, she couldn't get off. Like a mouse on one of those new sticky traps. My wife witnessed the last moments of a mouse on one of those. Not a pretty sight. The old slam shut traps were more humane.

  115. Red and even.

    It's gonna be Hooter's for sleeping, Golden Nug for gambling.

    He says he's got at $21/night each for two rooms, plus $100 free casino cash each room each day.

  116. I'd like to take Calico to the farm and dump her off.

  117. $21/night, Vegas must be starving to death.

    Couldn't happen to a finer bunch of people.

  118. Rooms probably cost more at Ely.

  119. We had a mouse pancaked in a sofa once.

    Also, under a rug in front of a fireplace.

    We had one that lived in the kitchen in Belgium. Loved the toaster.

    I recall walking into the kitchen one night in Germany. There was a mouse on the counter.

    I didn't see it until it moved.

    "Hidden by stasis."

  120. I'll take it CL, if you insure against gambling loses.

  121. There are mice living in my 1960 Ford F-600 with the hydraulic bed, five speed, two speed brownie box, CB radio, AM/FM, out by the alfalfa, even as we speak. Good place to winter. They got all they need.

  122. What the mice love very best however, is combines.

  123. Here's a job that by all that's sacred should go to Quirk---

    UN To Appoint Contact Man For Aliens

  124. Oh, but I love combines, too.

    Spent many hours in the cab in the tractor shed of my uncle's barn, just pretending I was driving.

    What a weird adolescence.

  125. There was a stink bug crawling up my shorts last night while I was sitting on my back porch.

  126. They've, evidently, contacted their first one. His name is . . . . . . . . . . Tom Friedman?

  127. Concerning contact with aliens, she said

    "When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”

    Can't argue with that.

  128. Did I say the tractor shed of my uncle's barn?

    I did.

    Now it's time to stop posting.

  129. There was a stink bug crawling up my shorts last night while I was sitting on my back porch.

    Now, that's interesting, Melody.

    How far did he get?

  130. Said he wasn't alone.

    Something about an alfalfa-farmer from Idaho? Name of Bob?

  131. You can park tractors in a combine shed, but sometimes not the other way round, so don't sweat it.

  132. And, a mystery-man from Michigan.




  133. I do have an alien parking pad out at the farm, permits required. Only a small fee involved.

  134. Quick Quark is his name, frienemy of mine. He doesn't hang around for long.

    QQ, for short.

  135. There is no such thing as a combine shed.

    I happen to know this.

  136. Quirk, Bob and a stink bug crawling up Melody's shorts, Rufus?

    I refuse to believe it.

  137. There certainly are combine sheds, I had one. Some of them only have three sides, and face into the snow and wind. Mine was a fancy four sider with a concrete floor and big electric outlets, and a phone. I even slept in it a few times.

  138. When the wife was pissed.

    Combines and sheds don't talk back, it was delightful.

    By the way, she says I'm an entirely new man these days. Too mellowed out, she says. "Bob, you're acting strange, just sitting there humming."

  139. Eventually you will tell me who you are.

  140. Shop number was 1-208-bob-shop, long ago.

  141. Until that time, you are talking to yourself.

  142. If you are speaking of me, that's nothing unusual. I find the conversations extremely enlightening. I call it my external internal dialogue.

  143. Nothing like a little Terazosin and ale to loosen the tongue.

  144. "If you are speaking of me..."

    Is there a Me, for God's sake?

  145. Not according to Hume, and that ass Sartre.

    But there is, anyway. In Kant it's called the transcendental unity of apperception. In Descartes, I think, therefore I am.

    In Whitman, the other that I am.

    In Roethke, I am, said the lamb; my true self runs towards a hill, more, o more, visible; the friend that runs ahead of me, on the windy headlands of forever.

    In Master Eckhart, the child, the aristocrat.

  146. In Gregory of Nyssa, the dove that flies through the darkness of the mystery of God, which always recedes, bringing us to glory upon glory.

    Sometimes landing us in Hooter's, at $21 dollars a night.

  147. Three years from now, I'll figure it all out.

  148. Must be nice, being a mystery.

  149. My porch is my retreat. There was a big maple tree that shaded the late afternoon sun so I could sit out there without getting baked while I waited for the sun to go down. What a beautiful sight to see the bright orange red sphere that shadowed through the green leaves.

    I had that tree cut down last September and with the extreme heat this summer I didn't get to enjoy my solitude. This past week I was in heaven sitting out there every night. With the season changing by 6:00 the sun is barely touching the top of my neighbors tree allowing me to enjoy every minute of my retreat.

    Last night I had a blanket covering my legs and I felt an itch on my thigh and when I scratched it out came one those bugs. Fuckers.

  150. Hell, I'm an open book.

    The Buddha, however, when asked, declined to speak of such things, thinking it a diversion from the task at hand, getting in whack, via the eightfold way. He was a physician.

    I made the mistake of draining the pool one winter, and the lining cracked. Now the pool is overgrown with an unnamed tropical tree freguent around here, home to birds, squirrels, and skunks too.

    It did get a lot of use though, back earlier.

  151. Melody is right, as usual.

  152. I'm going to the Casino. I must practice up a little, for Vegas.

  153. You're really not going to talk to me?

  154. My friends baby arrived yesterday. I guess he couldn't wait until 10/10/10

  155. Except that I'm having a cardiac arrest.

    Then I figured out it was meant for Trish, but now I think I'm going need a pacemaker.

  156. "You're really not going to talk to me?"

    That wasn't my point.

    Until you learn to stop speaking in riddles, you're talking to yourself.

  157. Or yourselves.


  158. What a bizarre conversation, hard to figure out who's talking to who, about what.

    Anybody want to see the final stages of a development agreement with the City of Moscow?

    That's at least something I can understand.

  159. How did Idaho ever get a town named Moscow?

    Eastern Montana has all these one syllable places like "Dent" which was considered too short by the new postal service so they added "ton" to make it Denton.

    Spent $30 on lunch at a boutique restaurant that baked it's own foccacia bread. Not good at all.

    The meat in Vegas is delicious. Some of the best I've ever tasted. Deserts suck but that city knows how to cook meat.

  160. Someone is up, besides me.

    The answer is, according to the Ladies at the Historical Society: no one knows for sure. Seems something of a mystery here. It was originally called Hog Heaven, believe it or not.

    There are few Russians here, mostly Swedes, Norwegians, Germans, in the early days.

    Whole thing seems odd to me.

  161. They always want to ply you with free drink in Vegas. Least many places. Used to be free food too.

    We will do our best.

  162. Deserts suck

    Not to the well trained eye.

    Nevada used to be wet. I read some about the old animals of thousands of years ago, you wouldn't believe.

    Climate changed, the early men seemed to have gone south, and east mostly. Some uncertainty here.

    There are dry lake beds all over, and the whole state is laced with fault lines. And range after range of Sierras.

    And the stars, oh my.

    We'll probably go to Twin Falls, then south, and a different route back.

  163. CL, towns like Moscow, and Pullman, Washington, where the universities are everything, are counter-cyclical. When things are bad out there in the general economy, it's boom time for education. People come back searching for training for some other kind of work. We had a 3% rise in student population this year, over the big rise last year. Over at Pullman, they have some budgetary problems putting a little damper on things, but it's really "bad out there, good here" as far as our basic industry goes.

  164. I bought my first Steiger in Fargo.

  165. I lived in Las Vegas for three years. There are no free drinks in Vegas.

  166. Does Steve Wynn still tell the Mob story about his missing pinky finger?

  167. I used to enjoy the high-energy hustle of The Strip. Now I won't walk it.

  168. I see Deuce has a serious post up. I need to think of something serious to say. I worked part-time in junior high for a guy who explained life to me: chin up, suck in your gut, straighten your back, now try to work that way.

    Sounds like the boys @ BC getting sanguine about the coming decade.

  169. Well there used to be free drinks in Vegas, anyway, I'm sure of it, cause I drank some. And they used to have free snacks and sandwiches too. But it goes back a ways.

    I didn't know Steve Wynn had a missing pinkie. Don't know anything about him. Dirty Harry has something to do with the MGM Grand though, I think.

    I'm no expert on Vegas, except that my first girl friend found her sexual liberation there, in the most major of ways. :)

    Last time I was there, the Strip seemed over run with teenagers and foreign folk.

    There is a monorail now, going up and down the Strip.

  170. City has spread way out, would that be to the west, over towards Mt. Charleston(?) Anyway you used to get off the Strip in that direction, wasn't much out there.

    Pahrumps used to be kinda neat. Art Bell lived in Pahrumps for awhile. Now it's much bigger, a bedroom community. Nye County, famous for it's whore house.

  171. Well, have a good time. I'm going to CNBC to check out the coming week. I juggle my portfolio every 6 months now.

  172. If I ever get any real money I'll turn it over to you to manage. You sound like you can beat the darts.