The Back Porch
Come sit in the shade for a while. You never know what this old dog might hack up.
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- April 2012
If confronted by a mob,
   Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:04 am

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Goodbye Norman

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:39 am

Norman E. Borlaug was, on many accounts, a great man. Intelligent, innovative, studious and, perhaps most importantly, driven by a noble desire: a desire to reduce human suffering caused by hunger.

When Dr. Borlaug entered his professional life in 1941 physical scarcity was the driving factor of human hunger in the world. Citizens of India, Pakistan, China and many other nations faced the real and abiding risk of famine and starvation with every harvest. Even this is an understatement since many of these citizens, even in the years of a good harvest, remained dependent upon humanitarian imports of foreign grain. Utilizing the then newly developed herbicides and pesticides Dr. Borlaug helped breed improved strains of wheat that turned these perennially hungry nations into reliable food exporters.

In the face of criticism from environmentalists...

[ Continued ]
Last edited by wisconsin_cur on Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:26 am, edited 2 times in total.

0 Comments Viewed 53111 times

Math even a Journalist should be able to understand

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:21 am

Through the week I listen to at least 90 minutes of Bloomberg radio every day. I became a regular listener when I noticed that they reported the 7/7 bombings in London 30 - 40 minutes before CNN and other outlets had anything helpful to say. I stay because the morning interview show (Bloomberg Surveillance) is often genuinely helpful and smart, even when I disagree with the guest.

This morning, however, I had blood coming out of my ears. It is not what they were saying as they, like every other news outlet talked of BP's "giant" oil strike in the Gulf of Mexico, it what was being left unsaid.

The story as told in the Financial Times

BP, the UK energy group, has discovered a “giant” oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico that shows a new frontier opening up for US oil production.

The Tiber field, in more than 1,200m of water about 250...

[ Continued ]
Last edited by wisconsin_cur on Thu Sep 03, 2009 2:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

2 Comments Viewed 60479 times

The biggest bubble

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:59 pm

Globalizations come and go just like other economic bubbles. They just inflate at a much slower rate, often over decades or centuries, so they become an even greater ingrained expectation than other bubbles. The deflation can be as quick as the outbreak of the First World War or as drawn out as the death of the Roman Empire. Like any bubble, however, the way down is as dislocating as the way up is infatuating.

In today's Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports on a story that may well answer the abiding question of when we shall fall from the plateau of our current globalization and begin the roll down the backside into the toilet bowel beyond. China, it seems, is considering the very rationale move of banning the export of many rare earth metals, and restricting the export of still more,...

[ Continued ]
Last edited by wisconsin_cur on Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

0 Comments Viewed 52069 times

Cutting through expectations

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:38 pm

If learning about peak oil has taught me anything it is that we must all learn to expect the unexpected. A problem arises, however, as our expectations change; we think we have our bases covered and no longer need to expect to be surprised.

Making plans for the future need to be versatile. I have read some people who use this as an excuse to not prepare, they plan to remain mobile. How, I would like to ask, will you adapt if the future presents a surprise where one needs to stay rooted where they are in order to thrive? Just because we have been disabused of some false expectations does not mean that the future is obliged to meet our new one's.

The future is open. Even if certain constraints make a certain outcome necessary does not mean we know exactly how the path from here to there will progress. Even if we can know the megatrends for the next one hundred years, this is not the same thing as knowing how those larger trends will impact our micro-existence or that of our neighbors...

[ Continued ]

0 Comments Viewed 52137 times

Why there will be no meaningful social response in the West

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:23 pm

True Story:

A friend of mine once went to a "company meeting" where many many cuts were announced. The presenter from the front office brought charts and graphs. My friend brought a legal pad, a pencil and a basic understanding of math.

After the presentation, when all of the cuts were announced, my friend preceded to ask questions. The questions were good. The questions illustrated that neither the truth of the cost to the employees was made clear nor were the reasons given forth-coming. Through the use of percentages (instead of whole numbers) and vast oversimplfications ("this part of the budget includes things like the Christmas party" when it is 10% of the budget being cut and no one would say what else was in that part of the budget and being cut). The fact that the employees were not being told about many cuts to their insurance and salary and that there were to be salary increases for top management was met by crickets.

After my friend's presentation...

[ Continued ]
Last edited by wisconsin_cur on Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

1 Comment Viewed 56004 times

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