Archive for July, 2006


Sunday, July 30th, 2006

A friend of mine passed me a link today to a website I was unaware of called Architecture2030. This site is put up by Mazria Inc. Odems Dzurec an architecture and planning firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here’s what they say about their Architecture2030 project:

Architecture 2030 was established in 2005 and is sponsored by New Energy Economy, a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization. Our mission is to conduct research, and provide information and innovative solutions in the fields of architecture and planning, in an effort to address global climate change. We are supported by a range of individuals, firms and charitable organizations.

Their site is interesting and well organized with some great graphics – I recommend it highly.

They talk a lot about the fact that their industry, the building industry, is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. “Unknowingly, the architecture and building community is responsible for almost half of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions annually. Globally the percentage is even greater.”

They are issuing a challenge to the building industry to do better and pointing out that we already have the techniques at hand. This ‘challenge’ is having a positive effect:

“2030 Challenge” Resolution Adopted Cities across America have just taken an historic step in addressing the issue of global warming. The US Conference of Mayors has made a commitment to reduce global warming pollution from buildings in order to protect the world for future generations. On Monday, June 5, 2006, the US Conference of Mayors adopted the “2030 Challenge” (Resolution #50) for ALL buildings. The resolution was put forward by the mayors’ of cities from the 4 corners of the continental U.S. – Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. As buildings are responsible for emitting half of the green house gas emissions that cause global warming, cities are committing to implement an immediate 50% fossil fuel greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction standard for all new and renovated buildings (50% below the national average for each building type) and setting benchmarks and timelines to increase the reduction standard for new buildings to carbon-neutral by 2030 – meaning they will use no fossil fuel, GHG emitting energy to operate. Last week on May 31, 2006 the City of Santa Fe became the first city in the US to formally adopt the “2030 Challenge”. This means that all new city buildings, starting immediately, will be built to use 50% less fossil fuel, GHG emitting energy.

The Architecture2030 website also has a section which explains in clear terms what the effects of not reversing our greenhouse gas emissions will do to:

The Arctic
Plants and Animals
Sea levels
Water Supplies
Coral Reefs
Human Health
Global Weather

To The Architecture2030 Website:

Research thanks to Jerry S.

Reasonable Doubt – Spinoza redux

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Ever since I began reading widely in college, the name, Spinoza, has been coming up among the ranks of significant thinkers in western history. So, I’ve known he was out there and that he was important but much more than that I couldn’t have told you until I read the following article by Rebecca Goldstein in the NY Times.

I probably always avoided delving into the man because such journeys into deep philosophy are generally taxing and may end up feeling unproductive after you’ve exerted the effort to see what the buzz was about and deciding it wasn’t worth the effort or it was impenetrable or whatever.

Well, in this case, I think I by passed an important figure out of laziness.

Spinoza, was excommunicated by the Jewish community of Amsterdam in 1656 at the age of 23 for making the assertion that no group or religion could rightly claim infallible knowledge of the Creator’s partiality to its beliefs and ways.

Think about that for a moment in the context of today’s world of fundamentalists – each claiming exclusive divine authorization and approval and each believing everyone else is wrong. The man was clearly ahead of his times and paid dearly for expressing his vision then.

Spinoza’s collected works belonged to both Thomas Jefferson and to John Locke and through them, his thoughts influenced the composition of one of the founding documents of the United States – The Declaration of Independence.

The following article is an easy read and it will place Spinoza’s thought in its proper context for you.


THURSDAY marked the 350th anniversary of the excommunication of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza from the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam in which he had been raised.

Given the events of the last week, particularly those emanating from the Middle East, the Spinoza anniversary didn’t get a lot of attention. But it’s one worth remembering — in large measure because Spinoza’s life and thought have the power to illuminate the kind of events that at the moment seem so intractable and overwhelming.

The exact reasons for the excommunication of the 23-year-old Spinoza remain murky, but the reasons he came to be vilified throughout all of Europe are not. Spinoza argued that no group or religion could rightly claim infallible knowledge of the Creator’s partiality to its beliefs and ways. After the excommunication, he spent the rest of his life — he died in 1677 at the age of 44 — studying the varieties of religious intolerance. The conclusions he drew are still of dismaying relevance.


Note:  to read articles on the NY Times website, you’ll need an ID and Password.  You can obtain these for free by going through their sign-up process once.

Wisdom from the Cryptogon

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

I’ve been following the doings and the writings of a fellow named Kevin now for sometime. Kevin is the author of the Cryptogon Blog. He’s an interesting guy who walks his talk.

He’s been concerned about a lot of the same issues I am (i.e. the coming Perfect Storm ) and he’s translated this concern into giving up a career in the financial/investment industry in Orange County, California and moving to New Zealand to start a permaculture farm in the countryside north of Auckland and to get him self off the grid and out of harm’s way.

His blog is one of the one’s listed in my Blogroll of blogs I like and read regularly. In addition to admiring Kevin for the strength of his convictions and how he takes action on them, I owe him a debt of gratitude because his blog was the first one in the world to cross-link back to mine a few months ago when I first started up here.

I don’t always agree with everything Kevin thinks or posts but that’s normal. As I heard the other day on a TV show, “If we were all identical, we wouldn’t need more than one of us, eh?”

In any case, the following are Kevin’s thoughts on what prudent people should be thinking about as they begin to think through what they are going to do and where they want to be as our joint and probably unpleasant history unfolds in the years just ahead.


I can safely say that I have no for-sure strategies for preserving wealth in the face of the situation facing the U.S. and the world. Like I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s possible to get a grasp on the seriousness of this, a priori. If any of several different situations (financial, war/terror, energy, pandemic, weather/ecological) start to unwind, we won’t be debating gold vs. silver vs. stocks vs. bonds vs. cash etc.

I’d be investing very close to home.

Is your landbase and community sorted out? Meaning, do you have good top soil and a reliable and clean water supply? Are you friends with your neighbors? Is everyone armed? They should be.

I would suggest using your money to get your land in the best shape possible, and to buy equipment and tools that will LAST for a long, long time.

While I don’t think real estate makes sense anymore from the typical investment perspective, I think it MIGHT make sense IF you can own it outright and collect rent. What you’re doing is trading your paper wealth for an income stream in the future. Forget about what’s going to happen to the value of the property. Just forget that aspect for a moment, if you can. Unless we go to a Max Max scenario (which could happen) there will still be owners and there will still be renters. Your U.S. dollar denominated paper assets may have long since become worthless, but you will still be collecting the coin of the realm (whatever that happens to be in the future) from your renters.

The old “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” rule applies as much now as it ever did.

I, personally, wouldn’t go near typical buy-and-hold investments; stocks, bonds, etc. If you feel as though you have to be in paper assets, you should be using advanced hedging techniques with options to mitigate risk. You’ll be paying fixed amounts of money along the way (option expiration) to prevent potential disaster. People who were long Yahoo AND holding puts in the right ratio made out like bandits on the stock’s collapse, while the regular retail investors got decapitated.

I don’t see gold being a cure-all, but who knows!? It might go to ______ < - fill in the blank. Consider nibbling the dips under $600? That would be my best guess, if I was forced to make a guess. Oil? It could just as easily go to $45 before it goes to $200. I wouldn't go near oil, long or short. It's far too volatile. Real estate!? HAHAHA. Keep your powder dry and buy when blood is flowing in the streets. Pay cash for potential rental units that dumbsh*ts MUST sell at shocking discounts (from today's prices) to avoid bankruptcy. (If Becky and I had excess cash to deal with, which we don't, this would be our plan.) A lot of really nice apples are about to be shaken loose from the tree. This might sound weird, but it must not be overlooked. Start up some kind of business or activity that involves young men. Look at the role of young men in any failed state. You will want to have these guys on your side when things get weird. Your life might depend on it. Well, those are a few ideas to consider. Original post is here:

060729 – Saturday

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Saturday morning and the weather’s cool. Looks like it could be a busy day here in the nursery and we could use a strong day. We’ve had a lot of big bills come due these last two weeks and it’s put the pressure on our cash-flow. The major heat-wave did not help.

I wrote a piece last night about the Snow Job story in the National Review that I’ve been wanting to write for some time. That’s always the problem with writing stuff – time is required and time is something I don’t have a lot of.

Three weeks until we fly to New Zealand. The excitment’s building. I’m hoping that I can get into Internet cafes or hotels with Internet access so I can post from there about our adventures on the South Island.

Northern Red Oak
Right off this morning, customers have been coming in. Here’s a Northern Red Oak going out. Two to three hundred pounds of root-ball and 15 feet or better tall for $100 (we’re having a sale). Come on in, friends and neighbors – we’re ready to deal!

National Review – Snow Job

Friday, July 28th, 2006

The June 5th cover story of the National Review Magazine was entitled, Snow Job – The Truth About the Great overhyped Glacier Melt.

I friend of mine, who knows my political leanings and who reads this blog occasionally, handed me this issue with the gentle advice that I should read this story so I might have more ‘balance‘ in my views and in the things I’m writing both here and in my column.

So I took the magazine home and read the article and mulled it over for a few days wondering what to say about it.

I went through the story and found a number of things that were bogus.

But, before I get into those, I want to make a confession – I am pro-science. It’s the only reliable methodology humanity has come up with so far to get at the truth – unvarnished by our hopes and fears and our illusions. So, for me, when we’re talking about something as important as the climate, which affects all of us regardless of our political persuasions, we should be trading information derived from science. If we’re trading anything else, it is guaranteed to have bullshit and confusion built into it.

The first thing I objected to in the article was the emotional sniping and innuendo. If climate change skeptics believe they have persuasive facts, they should just roll them out and let them stand of their own merit in the hard light of day. Put your science derived facts up against the other fellow’s. Instead, their discussion is laced from end to end with ridicule and contempt and the facts they do present to support their views are very selectively chosen.

They refer to global warming’s ‘supposed’ ills. They claim that Science Magazine, one of the preeminent scientific publications of the world, is prone to hysteria. They say, “We see a photograph of a polar bear standing all by his lonesome at the water’s edge and are told that the poor fellow might drown because the ‘polar ice caps are melting faster than ever.'” Then they tell us that the ice-caps story has been distorted for political aims.

Now that you’ve been alerted, if you look for them, you will find similar ridicule, belittling, and mocking throughout the article. It is emotional perception shaping – it is not facts and reasoning. I guess they haven’t a lot in the way of facts which can stand up to the science they oppose so they are trying blind and awe us with their wit and sarcasm.

Let’s just pick a place and begin. How about that poor polar bear? They ridicule the ‘poor fellow’ but they then conveniently skip over the fact that the arctic ice has been melting and receding further and further each year for 20 years. It isn’t anyone’s pipe dream that polar bears may well go extinct because of this in the next 20 to 50 years. None of this is in the realm of ‘soft’ facts. Science has nailed it cleanly and very few in the main-line science community have any doubts about it. Take another look at the picture of the polar bear – more ridicule replacing facts. He’s got a large stone around his neck – maybe to help drown him?

At another point, they quote an article published by Curt Davis in Science Magazine (same magazine they just ridiculed a moment before) saying that Antarctica is gaining ice not losing it. Google ‘Curt Davis National Review’ on-line. It won’t take but a moment to find articles where he’s complaining that this story has done a major distortion of his research and he’s rather irked about it. You can read about his complaint here: In the section where they are referring to Davis’ research to demonstrate that Antarctica and Greenland are not melting, they manage to not mention the in controversial facts that while global warming has raised the average temperature one degree in most places, it has raised it by four in the high arctic and permafrost is melting for the first time in recorded history in many areas. They ridicule the idea that glaciers are melting in the article’s title but don’t mention that 90% or more of the world’s glaciers are, in fact, melting and melting fast.

They say that there is no consensus that man is the main cause of climate change. That is utterly wrong. The vast majority of reputable peer-reviewed climate scientists have asserted that the issue is settled beyond a doubt.

They cite Richard Lindzen of MIT as a scientific authority figure to bolster their arguments. Well, Lindzen has some ties to Exxon that should be revealed before we rely on his scientific impartiality too much. See this:

Here’s another analysis over at ThinkProgress which picked up on other problems and distortions in this article. Their post is here:

People will, in general, believe what they want to believe and unconsciously seek out those who speak the ‘truth’ they want to hear. The only antidote I know for this form of blindness is to challenge your own beliefs frequently and to base your views on the best science you can find.

The Snow Job article indicated that it thought the reason scientists were trumping up the case for global warming was because there was scientific grant money available to study the issue and if they reported that there was no global warming, those grant funds would dry up.

It sounds perhaps plausible on the surface but think a moment…

Exxon just posted some of the highest profits ever seen in history for a corporation. Most of the climate skeptics are receiving money and support from Exxon or the oil, gas and coal industries. If I had to make a rational choice between believing the men of science or the men paid by the energy industry (and remember these fellows have billions of dollars at stake and those huge profits), I know who I’d believe. And it doesn’t hurt that the fellows I’d believe have science on their side.

– research – thx Deborah for the National Review article

A reminder

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Just a reminder that if you want to follow what’s going on on this Blog or any other blogs or websites, there’s an easy way to do it with what are called News Aggregators.

The news aggregator I use is called RSS Bandit. It is easy to setup and easy to use and you can follow what’s going on with dozens of blogs and websites effortlessly. The new aggregator tracks the sites and informs you when there’s been new stuff posted and it will inform you on the schedule you want. And, the best thing is that when you want to see the new content, you don’t have to fire up a web browser and go to the site – RSS Bandit can show it all to you right there within itself. No muss – no fuss. Using a news aggregator saves me a lot of time daily.

I’ve written a short tutorial here: which tells you how to obtain (free) and setup RSS Bandit. And, if you don’t like that particular news aggregator, there are many more available for free for you to use.

Deaths mount amid California heat

Friday, July 28th, 2006

The heatwave that has been baking California since mid-July is being blamed for about 100 deaths across the state, the authorities have said.

Most of the deaths have been in the Central Valley, where temperatures have reached 46C (115F) in some areas.

Among the worst-hit areas is Fresno, where the local mortuary is struggling to deal with dozens of bodies.

The heat has also hit the agriculture sector, killing 25,000 cattle and 700,000 poultry, farmers say.


Funding a Global-Warming Skeptic

Friday, July 28th, 2006

– It is an amazing and sad fact that the technique first popularized in the 1930’s by the Nazis in Germany still today remains one of the best methods of swaying public opinion – regardless of the facts involved. The method is, of course, the ‘Big Lie Technique’. And it is that if you say something loudly and long enough, most people will tend to believe it as true. Exxon posted huge profits this week. They, and the oil and coal industrys they are part of, have been bank-rolling pseudo-scientists with big bucks for years to sow confusion and doubt in the voting public’s mind about Global Warming and the basic wisdom of basing civilizations on a non-renewable resources like oil. Here’s more of the same:

= = = = = = = = =

Associated Press 18:39 PM Jul, 27, 2006

WASHINGTON — Coal-burning utilities are passing the hat for one of the few remaining scientists skeptical of the global warming harm caused by industries that burn fossil fuels.

Pat Michaels — Virginia’s state climatologist, a University of Virginia professor and senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute — told Western business leaders last year that he was running out of money for his analyses of other scientists’ global warming research. So last week, a Colorado utility organized a collection campaign to help him out, raising at least $150,000 in donations and pledges.

The Intermountain Rural Electric Association, or IREA, of Sedalia, Colorado, gave Michaels $100,000 and started the fund-raising drive, said Stanley Lewandowski, IREA’s general manager. He said one company planned to give $50,000 and a third plans to give Michaels money next year.

“We cannot allow the discussion to be monopolized by the alarmists,” Lewandowski wrote in a July 17 letter to 50 other utilities. He also called on other electric cooperatives to launch a counterattack on “alarmist” scientists and specifically Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth.


060727 – Thursday – Later

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

I heard today that my younger son, Chris, 26, has signed up to work on a cruise ship and has flown off to Juneau, Alaska to join the ship. They’re going to be gone 12 weeks and travel down the west coast and through the Panama Canal.

I was very happy to hear that he’d done this. He and I have been estranged now for several years and I couldn’t even begin to tell you what that’s all about because I don’t know – I’m hoping he’ll get over it at some point.

But, regardless, I’m really pleased that he’s made a move to go see some of the world before he’s gotten too drawn into jobs, relationships and responsibilities.

Go Chris! Good on ya, son.

060727 – Thursday

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

Temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest have gotten back into their normal ranges and that’s a relief. Business here at the nursery has picked up as well after the heat wave passed.

Our trip to New Zealand is less than a month away now and preparations are beginning. I always feel a growing sense of excitement before a big trip.

I tried to upgrade the forum software portion of this site two days ago and botched it and the result is we have no forum capabilities here now. This isn’t a big loss because the readership here is still low enough that the need for a forum is still minimal but I hope that changes over time.

The problem with the forum upgrade is the same problem I have with a lot of the WordPress (that’s the blogging software I use here) stuff. It is well documented but I don’t find the documentation particularly well organized so it’s hard to wend your way through it in a top-down fashion. Also, the many PHP files which make up WordPress and its many plugin additions are very poorly commented so they are difficult to follow without a lot of close study and I’m usually moving at such a rate of speed that I want to spend five minutes to look at the code and than make a change and until I understand things better, that’s a dangerous method.

I suspect that the poor commenting within the code is due to the cafeine afflicted youth of the writers who’ve eschewed anything so old-school as commenting their code because anyone who’s really ‘with it’ can obviously noodle it all out in five seconds – and it is extra work and they just want to plunge to the end-game and the glory thereafter.

Quarter end taxes today. Rebuilding the sides of the dump truck today so we can carry loads to the dump so we can clean up the pipes storage area so we can install a second pipes rack so that pipe storage is better organized.

Meanwhile, I have a pile of magazines here I want to comment on here on the blog. Not to mention that I have a piece to write on the Perfect Storm which really need to get done since it is a core piece of what this blog’s about.

Whooo-yaa! I’ve had my coffee – out and at ’em.