Tuesday, September 25, 2007

burning man with oil

Every year, I don't go to burning man, which is sad, because the year I did go I had a blast, rednecks in helicopters aside.

It could be compared to summer vacation as experienced by a child. Every day, wake up and do whatever, all day. Anyways, I saw a link on Big Gav's site and so of course I pass it on.

If I don't make it back to burning man in the next few years, I expect Phoenix will be a year round stand in for burning man by 2015 or so, and might even have real mutants.

Monday, September 24, 2007

the high cost of fuel is change

Democracy Icon Aung San Suu Kyi Greets Myanmar Monks
As the rain poured down, Aung San Suu Kyi walked out with two other women and cried as she paid her respects to the monks, the witnesses said.
The witnesses said Aung San Suu Kyi did not appear to speak to the monks, who have been leading an escalating show of strength that has left the junta facing its most prolonged challenge in nearly two decades.
The monks — who are deeply respected in devoutly Buddhist Myanmar — have become the effective standard-bearers for a protest movement that broke out a month ago after a huge hike in fuel prices and has since gone nationwide.

Prices of fuel sky rocket, and the military is afraid of the people, instead of vice versa.

A trend to watch.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

coming to a store near you

(c) reuters via http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Monday, September 17, 2007

noodles of yesteryear

Italians set to boycott pasta as the price of wheat reaches record highs
Italy's leading flour maker, Grandi Molini Italiani, and pasta and poultry producers are planning further price increases, shocking Italians, said to choose pasta over sex. [...] The green trend for bio-fuels is also blamed for boosting demand for grain. The US Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, reports world wheat stocks are falling to a 26-year low of less than 115 million tonnes.
But the trigger for this week's price rises was hot winds sweeping across western Australia, causing severe damage to the already struggling wheat crop.
Australia's weather trouble "compounds what is already a fairly desperate problem", said Simon Ingle, head of milling wheat for Britain's largest farmer-run grain co-operative, Grainfarmers.
"This is extremely serious. Importing nations such as Egypt, India and Morocco have to pay at least twice as much for wheat as they did last year," he added.

Catchy headlines aside, Italians will not be boycotting pasta. They might be buying less of it, yes. And while one cannot say with surety whether there are hedonic replacements for staple foods such as pasta, we're to find out shortly. Grubs, anyone?

Food boycotts will really be about belt tightening and have the flavor of a motor vehicle driver foregoing petrol on alternate weekdays to "send a message" to the big corporations.

Meanwhile, grain surpluses plummet in the face of permanent rummy weather. It is not a valid comparison to highlight the tonnage of available wheat 26 years ago without highlighting the difference in population - - which has seen a swell of 2 billion since 1980. This means presumably back in those sepia toned days a starving Italian could heap their plate with 30% more noodles.

Furthering the point note that along with an overall swell in population, the First World has also seen a swell in buttocks:

...(S)ome data from the Centre for Disease Control in the USA. It is estimated that the average American consumed approximately 1497 pounds of food per person per year in 1970 and this rose to a whopping 1775 pounds of food per person per year in the year 2000. That is a 278 pound increase per person per year – which translates into a lot of extra food.
Researchers report that portion size changes are part of the “supersizing” phenomenon seen at fast food establishments and at restaurants.

So as the losers start to lose with finality, the strange North American boat of temporary abundance that I live on chugs on. The passengers on this journey continue to gorge themselves, curious man sized experiments in the craft of foie gras.

Doing more with less, an opportunity that will come your way. Get ready.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the surge

Oil breaks 80 dollars on supply, storm fears
Crude oil prices burst into record territory Wednesday as New York futures topped 80 dollars a barrel, with traders fretting over a big drop in US reserves and a new tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
The contract for light, sweet crude for October delivery closed at 79.91 dollars, a jump of 1.68 dollars, after peaking at 80.18 dollars.


Back in August of 2005, there existed a moment of freako excitement as oil prices crested $65. The dollar index at that time hovered around 88. Fast forward two years and a month, and the dollar index is is swirling around 80 and oil (surprise) has galloped upwards to a non-coincidental price of 80 dollars a barrel.

Non-coincidental simply because as the dollar falls, oil will rise. This moment was inevitable, and both indexes will continue their journey in opposite directions. Supply is not necessarily relevant, with the dollar so perilously weak.

Then again, on the supply side, in an effort to smooth the jittery nerves of investors around the globe, OPEC has over-promised an additional 500,000 barrels of crude a day to be pumped helter skelter beginning November 1st.

Sounds to me like the refineries best prepare for more of that slurried stinking sludge that passes for a production increase in these latter days of the oil patch.

All oil isn't born Brent North Sea crude, you know.