25 April 2008

Black Gold, indeed

Crude forecast to reach US$225

Jeff Rubin, the ever-bullish oil forecaster and chief economist at CIBC World Markets, can't keep pace with crude's meteoric rise. Four months after predicting world oil prices will soar to US$150 a barrel by 2012, Rubin adjusted his outlook much higher Thursday - a day crude prices declined more than $2 a barrel as investors bolted from commodities - in a report that stands to drive North American bicycle sales through the roof. Rubin now says oil prices will average $150 in 2010 and an unfathomable $225 in 2012, with Canadian gasoline prices topping CAD$1.40 a litre this summer but skyrocketing all the way to $2.25 by 2012. CIBC's chief strategist has plenty of critics, but twice this decade he accurately read the tea leaves on oil's march past US$80 and $100. In January, the bank's investment arm studied the world's 200 largest new oil projects, including those in the Alberta oilsands, and concluded output from many will be slowed in the next four years by protracted delays and cost overruns, meaning many world supply outlooks are overly optimistic. The basis for Rubin's argument this time? In a report titled The Age of Scarcity, he said world crude oil production has not increased in two and a half years, but rather the supply increases reported by the likes of the Paris-based International Energy Agency have come from natural gas liquids. The trend will largely hold over the next four years and based on CIBC's assessment of proposed global oil projects now in the queue, roughly 50% of the increase in actual world petroleum production will come from NGLs, "leaving only small marginal gains" of real crude supply. "(The trend) is fine if you need to refill your lighter, but not so great if your gas tank runs dry," reads the report, which also says US gasoline prices will hit $7 a gallon ($1.85 a litre) by 2012 and notes that 90% of every new barrel of oil produced in the world today goes to transport fuels.

The report predicts growth in the sale of new vehicles like the $2,500 Tata and Chery models now being sold in emerging economies such as India, China and Russia means millions of new households will "suddenly have straws to start sucking at the world's rapidly shrinking oil reserves." It also says oil's continued rise and higher pump prices will force North American drivers off the road, and US oil consumption will fall by two million barrels a day as a result over the next five years. In an interview from Toronto, Rubin said a scenario of sky-high gasoline prices and a Canadian dollar continuing to rise against the US dollar will spell virtual doom for Ontario's auto sector. "Not only are you facing a shrinking market because you are not selling in China, India and Russia, but you are probably producing from a currency that is going to rise steadily against the US dollar," he said. Rubin said Alberta's oilsands will continue to grow in importance; Canada will become the provider of 30% of US oil needs, up from around 18% today.

Frank Atkins, an economist at the University of Calgary, who two years ago worked as a consultant to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said Rubin's outlook makes sense on several fronts but contends Rubin is also selling a low-probability scenario that stands to benefit CIBC World Markets. He said Rubin does not give enough credit on the supply side of the equation to high crude oil prices pushing exploration and development of oil reserves that would not be pursued otherwise. "What we know and understand as economists are the fundamentals and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone right now to tell you the fundamentals say we should be at $116 a barrel," Atkins said. "I myself believe the pressure on oil should be downward but when it happens is anyone's guess. Likely when the US economy stops slipping, the US dollar finds its ground and people stop taking their money and buying oil futures as a safe haven."
(Calgary Herald, National Post 080425)

Well, Mr. Atkins, when have the economists been accurate a predicting future trends anyways? I've argued this with many people more versed in economics than me. They claim that theory trends acceptably well to reality, however I always argue that, firstly, there is never any fudge factor for the irrationality of human behavior, ever - that supply and demand elasticities simply follow predictable lines, especially in the short term is a fallacy. The market is as driven by psychology and sociology as it is by economics, therefore anything they predict ends up looking like a bunch of bunk. Economists are best explaining in hindsight why something went the way they did than being predictive. Secondly, economists have a vested interest in avoiding discreditation and maintaining status quo, therefore they continue to model in a theoretical world of infinite resource availability despite the obvious fact that we're bumping against many ceilings on many fronts due to our profligrate consumption model, and - the elephant in the room - the fact that there are way too many of us on a planet of finite sustainability.

23 April 2008

Umm...good luck with that

OPEC plans to increase its production

Wed, April 23, 2008

ROME -- OPEC plans to boost its oil production target capacity by five million barrels a day by 2012, the organization's secretary-general said yesterday.

Abdalla Salem el-Badri said on the sidelines of an energy forum that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are planning to spend US$160 billion during the next four years to boost production capacity.

OPEC crude oil production is expected to average 32.3 million barrels a day during the first quarter of this year, according to the most recent forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

El-Badri also said supply and demand issues were being discussed at the forum, but that he didn't expect any agreement on whether prices are too high or too low.

Oil prices rose to all-time highs above US$118 a barrel yesterday on concerns over supplies from some key producers.

A U.S. energy official appeared to indicate that OPEC should consider increasing production.

"Oil prices are clearly too high," Acting Deputy Secretary of Energy Jeffrey Kupfer told reporters at the forum.

Asked if OPEC should boost production, Kupfer replied that the group "should take a look at ensuring sufficient supply in the market. Market fundamentals are tight and we do think it's important to keep the market well-supplied."

Producing countries "should take a look at how prices have reacted. The fundamentals are driving the price," Kupfer added.

El-Badri, however, blamed a weak dollar and speculators for soaring oil prices, which are taking a heavy toll on economies worldwide. He said OPEC members were investing to increase both production and refining capacity.

"Right now, we have 120 projects worth $160 billion just to increase capacity by five million to 2012," he said, referring to production.

El-Badri also said OPEC members plan to invest about US$50 billion to boost refining capacity by about three million barrels a day.

Oil prices are clearly too high.

IF (and that's still a big IF) Ghawar is in fact on plateau or starting a decline, no amount of money Aramco throws at remedial/tertiary production or bringing other insignificant fields online is going to get Saudi Arabia producing any more oil than it is now. What about the other OPEC members? I guess we'll see.

Man, we suck

Canadians third highest per capita polluters

Individual Canadians remain the third-highest per capita polluters in the world, according to new figures released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday. Each Canadian produces an average of 23 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year, trailing Americans who produce an average of 24.4 tonnes of emissions per year and Australians, who produce an average of 27.7 tonnes of emissions per year. While some developing countries, such as India and China, are among the biggest polluters overall, the per capita emissions of those countries are up to 20 times less than those in Canada. The Statistics Canada publication, Human Activity and the Environment, also notes that developed countries such as the UK, France and Germany have per capita emissions that are about half those of Canada, which are growing faster than any other industrialized nation. “The largest source of this growth was the production of fossil fuels, including coal, crude oil and natural gas, for export,” reads the Statistics Canada, released to coincide with Earth Day. “In both 1990 and 2003, the production of these fuels for export resulted in more GHG emissions than the production of any other exported commodity. Over the period, as worldwide demand for fuels surged, GHG emissions from the production of exported fuels.”

The new Statistics Canada publication also noted that the country is also feeling serious impacts of global warming on its territory, such as new insect infestations and melting glaciers. “Climate change is predicted to affect all Canadians to a greater or lesser extent as a result of its impact on their environment, health and economy,” said the report. “Climate changes are expected to vary regionally. While it is not possible to predict changes with certainty, there is a very high degree of agreement among scientists that changes are already occurring and that further changes will occur.”
(CanWest News Service 080422)

17 April 2008

NOT the case in Calgary

Against the grain

Amid a deepening global food crisis, the cost of food for Canadian consumers has done something unusual: gone down. Households across the country are enjoying the benefits of food deflation. Food from grocery stores was 0.6% cheaper in February than a year ago – a stark divergence from the US, where food prices are rising at 4% a year, and China, where they soared 21% in the first quarter. Canada's stronger dollar is playing a role in keeping some food prices down for consumers, especially imported fruits and vegetables, analysts say. But the surging loonie doesn't explain everything. A closer examination shows food commodity prices are actually rising in Canada – they're just not being passed on to consumers at the supermarket.

The Bank of Canada's commodity index shows food prices at the raw materials level have soared more than 50% in the past year. The index is in US dollars, but even after converting to Canada's currency, food commodity prices have risen 28%. Consumers are benefiting from trench warfare between grocery stores, said CIBC economist Avery Shenfeld, who has dissected the food chain to determine how consumer prices are declining while raw material prices are soaring. Lower food prices in Canada have been driven by discounter Wal-Mart Canada, which introduced its Supercentres with full grocery aisles in late 2006. Supermarket leader Loblaw Cos. has taken on Wal-Mart by lowering its prices, forcing rivals to follow suit. The retailers are all pressing suppliers to keep their wholesale prices down. But the efforts by duelling supermarkets to keep a lid on prices don't tell the whole story, Shenfeld said. “It's not just at the retail level,” he said. “It's further back.” Price controls at the wholesale level imposed by marketing boards, including the dairy and egg boards, are playing a role, he said. Dairy price controls in particular help to explain the food pricing differences with the US, he said.

Canada's prices may be kept low because the country is producing so much of its own food – possibly too much, said Bank of Nova Scotia senior economist Adrienne Warren. Pork and beef prices are stable or falling because there's currently an overcapacity in Canada, leading to the recent government announcement of assistance to farmers who cull livestock. For now, the benefits of low food inflation spread beyond Canadians buying groceries. Low inflation means the Bank of Canada has free reign to cut interest rates and bolster economic growth, while the US Federal Reserve is constantly worried about cutting rates too far and igniting further inflation. But it can't last, Shenfeld said. “A price war can't go on forever without decimating profits,” he noted. And eventually, the marketing boards will begin passing higher production prices along to consumers. As for the effect of the climbing Canadian dollar, few analysts expect the loonie to continue its flight, and so the inflation-dampening benefits of a strengthening currency will diminish. “Canada will start to feel the pain from global food and energy prices in 2009,” Shenfeld predicted.
(Globe and Mail 080417)

The New and the Old

Breakthrough may yield potential energy source

A Mackenzie Delta drilling rig has become the site of a breakthrough that could revolutionize the world's energy supply. For the first time, Canadian and Japanese researchers produced a stream of natural gas from icelike gas hydrates that dwarf all known fossil fuel deposits. "We were able to sustain flow," said Scott Dallimore, the Geological Survey of Canada researcher in charge of the Mallik drilling program. A hydrate is created when a molecule of gas is trapped by high pressures and low temperatures inside a cage of icy water molecules. Heat or "unsqueeze" the hydrate and gas is released, producing 164 times the energy of the same amount of natural gas. While hydrate fields are found under the coastal waters of every continent, releasing that energy consistently and predictably, however, has been the problem. Using heat works, but requires too much energy. Researchers have also been trying to release the methane by reducing the pressure on it. The Mallik team is the first to use that method to get a steady, consistent flow.
(Toronto Star 080417)

Why don't we just burn every little bit of hydrocarbon we can get our dirty little monkey hands on? I'm sure it won't have any bad consequences!

Oil prices extend record run to US$115

Oil prices streaked into record territory for the second straight day Wednesday, boosted by a decline in US energy reserves and as the weakening dollar drew investments in commodities. New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, crossed US$115 a barrel for the first time on its way to an intraday record high of $115.07. It settled up $1.14 at a record close of $114.93. The price reflected the markets worry over tight supplies. The weekly report from the US Department of Energy showed that US energy stockpiles tumbled in the week ending April 11. US crude inventories slumped by 2.3 million barrels last week compared with analysts' consensus forecast for a drop of 1.8 million. US crude stocks now stand at 313.7 million barrels, in the lower half of the average range for this time of year, the department said. Oil futures also gained support after the dollar plunged to an all-time low against the euro. The European single currency rocketed to a record high $1.5979 after official data showed annual eurozone inflation at an all-time peak, paring the possibility of a European Central Bank interest rate cut. Inflation in the 15 nations sharing the euro jumped to an annual rate of 3.6% in March. The weak US unit encourages demand for dollar-priced goods like crude, which become cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies.
(Calgary Herald 080417)

Ottawa urged to consider gas hike

Automakers are calling on Ottawa to look at raising the price of gasoline as a way to cut emissions. The request is contained in a brief submitted to Transport Canada in March as part of the federal government's consultations on proposed national fuel-consumption rules for motor vehicles. It comes as Canadian drivers face near-record prices at the pumps and oil and gasoline futures trade at levels never before seen. "While not advocating for an increase in the cost of fuel, this option must be considered as part of the government's comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to effectively reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions at the lowest possible economic cost," says the position paper, prepared jointly by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association. The trade groups together represent all the major auto-makers selling and making vehicles in Canada, including General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda. In its submission, the industry groups argue that Canada's auto industry is prepared to accept more stringent mandatory fuel-economy standards for new vehicles. It wants Canada and the US to work toward one continent-wide standard, based on the new fleet-wide average mileage target of 35 miles-per-gallon (6.72 litres per 100 km) by 2020 enacted by US lawmakers last December. But the groups argue that regulations that address only technology are "not the most efficient approach" to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions. "A comprehensive plan is needed," their brief states, one that includes other measures such as boosting driver awareness. "Increased fuel efficiency alone will not achieve the objectives unless it is part of a truly effective plan to reduce GHG emissions." Ottawa is expected to have final regulations on vehicle fuel economy ready by the end of the year.
(National Post 080417)

As stated before, the only way to elicit widespread behavioral change is through fundamentals. In capitalist society, that fundamental is the pocketbook. Anything voluntary won't cut it for the monkeys with laser capabilities.

16 April 2008

Got peak?

Oil's record run past US$114 raises questions of a peak

World oil prices leaped to an all-time high above US$114 per barrel in after-hours trading Tuesday, but analysts disagreed on whether the highly sought-after commodity will continue its amazing run through 2008. Two internationally respected energy market experts in Calgary for an oil conference this week agreed oil could continue to rise in the short-term, but the threatened recession in the US makes the long-term picture bleak. "We could see oil prices peaking as early as the start of the summer. We could see it in the second half of this year," Julian Lee, London-based senior energy analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies, told the Herald. However, he also predicted oil prices will fall, perhaps dramatically, if the US slips into a recession, an event that would cause a global slowdown. Lee expects oil to peak at about $120. Adam Sieminski, Washington-based chief energy economist for Deutsche Bank, said US demand for gasoline is flat and may be shrinking, as is the economy in general. Deutsche Bank is forecasting $97 to $98 per barrel as an average oil price this year and $102 to $103 in 2009. In sharp contrast, Calgary analyst Peter Linder, president of DeltaOne Capital Partners, said the oil rally will shrug off US economic problems. "That's what everybody's looking at, but there's a world outside the US," he said. "I think there's a 50-50 chance we'll reach $125 by Labour Day," Linder predicted. He said oil prices above $100 US will be the norm for the next 10 to 20 years.

West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery closed up $2.03, or 1.82%, at $113.79 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was driven by a combination of supply issues, rising diesel demand in China and persistent dollar weakness. The high price of oil means opportunity for Alberta according to Bruce Rigal., Deutsche Bank's coo of global banking. Rigal, who is a graduate of the University of Alberta and is now based in London, was in Edmonton on Monday, delivering the Princeton Developments distinguished lecture in finance at the University of Alberta. Having witnessed first-hand the growing economies in China and India, Rigal sees no respite from high oil prices. From his perspective, the growing middle classes in both countries will continue to fuel demand for oil and underpin the current pricing environment. He also folded Russia into his analysis, having spent part of his investment banking career at Deutsche Bank doing business there. The future bodes well for Alberta, says Rigal, because of the oilsands, but the province must capture more of its wealth -- one day, he said, the resource will run out. He suggested that one of the ways for Alberta to make the most of the energy boom is to use the Heritage Savings Trust Fund as one of the key vehicles to secure Alberta's future.

In other oil news, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries continues to maintain that factors such as the weakness of the US dollar, speculative trading and political tension are lifting prices, not a lack of oil. In it latest Monthly Oil Market Report OPEC stated, "The fundamental picture in the second quarter of 2008 appears to be in line with the typical seasonal pattern for this time of year. Current OPEC production . . . will be sufficient to both meet demand growth and contribute to further stock builds."
(Calgary Herald 080416)

No surprises here.

Saskatchewan's golden future

Chinese potash importers agree to huge price rise

Saskatchewan potash producers have won a US$400-a-tonne price increase for this year's sales to massive Chinese buyer Sinofert Holdings, a move that lifted the shares of Canadian and US fertilizer producers on Wednesday. The contract negotiated by Canpotex, the offshore marketing agency for the Saskatchewan potash industry, was announced Wednesday morning by Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. In addition to PotashCorp, Canpotex represents Agrium and Mosaic. PotashCorp, the world's biggest fertilizer producer, stated that “as a result of the timing of this settlement and unprecedented demand in other markets,” it has only one million tonnes it can commit to Sinofert through the rest of this year. “Significantly higher potash prices and extraordinarily tight supply have become much more firmly entrenched since China's previous contract was signed 14 months ago,” stated PotashCorp ceo Bill Doyle. “With the intense pressure on global food production and continued growth in potash demand, this is the reality for our industry for the foreseeable future.” Doyle noted that the settlement with Sinofert - which is one-fifth owned by PotashCorp and is the largest fertilizer distributor in China - “highlights the importance of securing supply in an increasingly tight market.” PotashCorp supplies 54% of Canpotex's requirements.
(Canadian Press, Reuters 080416)

PCS's stock price has gone up something like 200% in the past year...it is on track to become Canada's largest corporation by market share sometime this year. Bigger than RBC, bigger than Imperial Oil or Petro-Canada. Incredible.

15 April 2008

I had to post this...it's good!

To the gay men who complain about the lack of quality men...

Date: 2007-08-08, 1:18PM PDT

I am a gay guy. I'll get that out of the way first. Grossed out by the boobs, turned on by the cock. It's a fact of life for me and there ain't no changin' it. I accepted it many years ago and life has been great ever since. I will also say here that I am a “quality guy”. I have a career that I have absolutely loved for the past 13 years, I have a wonderful long term partner of over 10 years, a wonderful daughter, vital relationships with supportive friends and family, lots of fun interests and hobbies, I volunteer and give back to my community. Oh yeah…and I know how to have fun in the sack to boot, AND I have been faithful to my other half for the whole time we’ve been together (and he to me). Go ahead and trash me for calling myself quality, but I know I am. I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means. I have my faults like anyone else, but I’m reasonably sure that I would be perceived as quality by most people.

OK...so now my point. I am amazed at the number of postings from gay men on this site who are complaining about the lack of "normal", non-racist, attractive, monogamous, non-druggie men out there. It truly is incredible to me. It makes me wonder if we are living in the same place!

If you scroll down a ways on this Rants and Raves list today, you'll see a posting from a gay Asian guy who laments the fact that the gay community is totally focused around white gays. I totally agree. But I had to laugh at his posting as he went on to say that he meets guys at clubs and online. THAT’S what he is judging the gay community by? How lame is that? Does he see Asian guys throwing themselves at White guys at book club meetings and running clubs? I’m guessing not. Post after post I read gay guys complaining about the lack of quality gay men out there and almost all of them talk about some creepy online experience or a bad scene at some bar or club.

To all you gay men who are complaining…do you realize there is more to life than meeting guys in bars and online? My God...you live in one of the major hubs of culture, academia, sports, you name it, and you're trolling for quality guys on the Internet or at Badlands?

Do you all know that getting your dick sucked or getting banged is not the center of your existence? Sure it’s fun and I’d never turn down an opportunity for either, but there is so much more to life than just being defined by being attracted to a penis. Make yourself more well-rounded than that. Quality guys can sniff you out in a second if you’re just horny. What more do you have to offer after you’ve both cum?

For all of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, here are 10 suggestions for how to find that quality guy. They are all based on common sense, but I have found them to work well for me:

1. Do you have a hobby or interest other than sucking cock or getting fucked? If you do, then join a club/group/social group around that interest or hobby. It doesn't have to be a gay club. Just join a club or group. You will meet people there who like the same thing you do. You will be yourself there (and not some phony posing at a bar or hiding behind a screen name) because you will be in a place where you actually enjoy what's going on. Do you enjoy spending hours on the Internet trying to find a hook-up? I’m guessing not. The hooking up is fun, but not the endless searching. If you join a group you won't meet a one night stand or boyfriend there most likely (although it could happen, huh?), but you will meet other people who know other people who know other people. It's like that lame MySpace site although in actual real life! Amazing, huh? Who knows? Maybe one of those people will invite you to a party and introduce you to the man of your dreams. And chances are that he will be a quality guy because the people who accepted you into their club or group or going to hold everyone else up to the same standards, whatever they are.

2. Go out and give back to others. Instead of trolling around the Castro or Gay.com, get off your ass and volunteer somewhere. Project Open Hand, Stop Aids, Equality California --- they all could use volunteers and are positively TEEMING with gay men who are all united behind a common purpose. Are those causes too "gay" for you? Then volunteer at St. Anthony’s Dining Room or Glide Memorial. Too religious for you? Then go do a Google search online for other volunteer opportunities. Help out at the Humane Society, be a mentor for a young person, go read stories to the local kindergarteners in your neighborhood. When you volunteer, you will meet other people who are selfless and who enjoy helping others (i.e. those “quality” people you are looking for). Quality guys appreciate someone who understands that life is not all about you. It’s also in part about helping others and learning about other people. If you don’t like to do either of those things, then I suggest you look inside yourself to see why not. You’re not a quality guy if you do not have this aspect of your personality.

3. Go out and get some exercise. No…I don’t mean go to a gym in the Castro and cruise the steam rooms for sex. Set a goal for yourself. Tell yourself you will spend a year training for a marathon (or a 5K, or a half marathon, or 3 miles) and then run it. Train for the AIDS Ride and then do it. Go for a run in another part of the City from where you live. Get out of your rut. Join a running club. There are lots in San Francisco and all over the Bay Area. It doesn’t have to be one of the gay running clubs, by the way. Remember, you’re not living your life around the sole idea that you are gay. Change your mindset that you are a runner, or a cyclist, or a weightlifter, or whatever. People who say they “hate exercise” come off as not quality. If you hate to run, find something you do like – dance, rowing, swimming? You do not have to be a porno god with bulging biceps and perfect pecs. Quality guys appreciate someone who takes the time to take care of their body in any way. This doesn’t mean hit the gym 7 days a week. It doesn’t mean you are 6’2”, 190 with a tapered waist. It means get some exercise, eat well, go to the dentist regularly. Show some pride in yourself by taking care of yourself.

4. Do you have a job? Do you actually like it? Or do you spend all your time whining and moping about it? A quality guy wants a guy who is doing something with his life that has goals and seems rewarding and/or fulfilling. You don’t have to make lots of money to be fulfilled by the way. Have you ever bumped into someone who LOVES their job and just kind of felt awestruck by them? Be that person. Or if life has dealt you a hand where you have to stay in a job you hate, then make the most of it. No one wants to hear about how much your job sucks. Sure we all have bad days, but if you don’t seem like you have made good choices in your life around the one thing you spend most of your day doing, how do you expect to attract anyone who will think you are quality too? If you have a professional job, join a professional group. Go to conferences. Give a seminar. Again, you don’t have to join a gay professional group. Just get your name and face out there. If you hate your job, find ways to change it instead of moping to everyone about it. Your complaining will be a total turn-off to a quality guy.

5. Do you have an education? Quality guys consider most guys with no college diploma a bad catch. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. Right or wrong, people who went to college are perceived as having goals, striving for them, attaining them, and planning for their futures. If you haven’t gotten a degree yet, what’s stopping you? There are scholarships, loans, grants – so much money out there waiting for you to spend it on your future. But you have to do the legwork. It sucks…I know. It’s a lot of stress, time, and energy. But at the end of it, you will feel proud that you accomplished something for yourself, you will be better educated, and you will be more attractive to the quality guy. There are so many schools in the Bay Area – everything from cooking schools, to art schools, to universities, to massage schools, to you name it. Go back to school and start doing what you love or what you’ve always wanted to do. Start small. Don’t think you’re going to get into the Stanford M.B.A. program if you’re not qualified to be there. Take classes at the local community college at first, transfer up to a state or U.C. You have so many options open to you. Stop with the excuses for why you are not educated as much as you could be.

6. Lay off the drugs. Quality guys don’t do them. They are too busy with their work lives, their social lives, their family lives, their volunteering, their cultural events, etc. Drugs are for lazy people with too much time on their hands. Choose to spend your time another way. If you meet a quality guy while you are high or drunk, what kind of person will he wake up to the next morning? Some of you post on here wondering why a guy never calls you back after the one night stand. Could it be that the guy he met in the bar last night sobered up and is now a boring dud who drones on about his work? Ditch the drugs and be yourself. If you are addicted, go get help. There are free programs all over. If you are reading this you have an Internet connection. Google programs and then get to work on getting clean and sober.

7. Get over the fact that some guys just aren’t attracted to you. Here’s something a shrink told me many years ago while I was dealing with my own coming out issues: he said that as gay men, most of us never got the teenaged experience that many straight folks get. Many of us didn’t get asked out to prom or have a first kiss, or get drunk and screw the cheerleader at homecoming (extreme example, I know, but you get the drift). We missed out on a lot of the teenage “rites of passage”. Because we were still trying to figure ourselves out or because we were in the closet, all of the adolescent sexual stuff flew right past us without us even knowing. Now that we are out to ourselves, we are making up for lost time. There are many men who are stuck in this adolescent phase. They are petty like schoolgirls. They bitch, they judge people based on looks or clothes or how much money they make. They think the world revolves around them. It’s textbook. They are stuck in 7th grade. They are reliving the years that they couldn’t have while they were growing up shy, awkward, closeted, or “hate crimed”. They are being the “powerful” people they wish they could have been back in middle school. Be above that. Move on from that. You are going to meet guys who turn you down because your dick is too small or because you’re going bald or because you are a certain ethnicity. Get over it. You will never change what someone is attracted to. I like coffee, you like tea. It’s a preference. If you keep finding guys who judge you like this, then you are obviously looking in the wrong spots. You are only in places where these adolescent phase guys are – online and clubs. That’s where the superficial crowd usually hangs. There is safety in numbers or behind an anonymous screen name. I’m not saying everyone online or in a bar is a creep or freak, but I’m willing to bet you will find way more quality guys volunteering or in a running club than you will at the Midnight Sun or in the San Francisco M4M room on AOL.

8. Broaden your horizons. Go take your lunch somewhere new. Get out of your neighborhood and see some place different on the weekend or whenever you are not working. Take a weekend trip alone (GASP! Alone?!) and sightsee somewhere new. My God, we live in an area where you can drive or take public transit to the mountains, the beach, the wine country, hiking trails, or the Bay all within hours of each other. Where else in the world can you do that? Can’t afford a trip? Take the bus to a different neighborhood or local city. Ask a local where a good place to eat is. Walk downtown. Go meet life! You will bump into all sorts of people. Most of them won’t be your next boyfriend, but you never know. Maybe their co-worker would be. Or their frat brother from college. You never know how things will work out.

9. Read books, magazines (no, People and US Weekly don’t count -- although they ARE fun once in a while), newspapers, Web sites…anything you can get your hands on. It’s amazing how many people don’t read. Reading makes you a great conversationalist. Not reading means all you can talk about is what you know – yourself and your own life. This gets tedious for a quality guy. What was the last good book you read? What made it good? What kind of conversations can you start about our world that does not include an anecdote about yourself and your life? Are you interested in politics and next year’s presidential election? Have you read the new book by Armistead Maupin? Are you a sports fan and like chatting about the Giants and the Barry Bonds feat/controversy? Find something in this huge universe of ours to take an interest in and then READ READ READ about it. In my single days, I used to notice when I’d walk into a guy’s place what books (if any) he had out on display. Invariably, a place with no books out at all meant a non-quality guy who could only talk about himself. Books tell others who you are and what you find interesting, and they are great conversation starters everywhere. Can’t afford books? Go to the library. Browse bookstores. Maybe the guy standing next to you at the stack likes the same stuff you do.

10. Go out and get some culture. We live in one of the hubs of culture on this planet. If you’re into art, go see the MOMA or the new De Young Museum. If you like dance, go see the ballet. Go see a Broadway show (I just saw “Avenue Q” last night – AWESOME!). No money? All of these places offer discounted tickets, student prices, and lots of other freebies. Check them out online. Go see the symphony or opera. Go see a loud metal concert. Go listen to the free music in the park. I was just in Dolores Park a few weeks ago listening to a free concert by the SF Symphony and that place was PACKED with quality guys. Tweakers and drunks tend to steer clear of culture because they know they are out of their element. If you can afford something more expensive, you will also be able to weed out the tweakers usually. Go get the Pink section from the SF Chronicle on Sundays. The whole thing is bursting with events, showings, performances, etc. to choose from. Yes, some are pricey, but many are free and easy to get to using public transit. People bitch and moan about MUNI and BART, but they will get you there. Go do something wacky and see something you’ve never done before. You might be surprised who you meet.

So there are my 10 suggestions for attracting a quality guy. And if you tell me that you can’t do anything I have listed above, then you are not a quality guy yourself. You should look inside yourself to see what your priorities in life are and then go out and make them happen. No one will be attracted to you in the long term if you don’t have your own life squared away first. It’s cliché, but it’s true.

I don’t pretend to have all of the answers in life. I have my own issues that cause me grief just like anyone else does. I’m not saying I’m perfect and you’re not. I’m just responding to all of the guys out there who moan and groan and complain about the gay community and its lack of vitality and quality guys. This is not true, and I think that deep down you all know it. Hopefully you can use this as a kick start to go out and make something happen for yourself.

Oh…and one last piece of advice…stay optimistic. I have been there. It sucks being single and wishing you had someone to share life with (if that is your goal – I know it’s not everyone’s). Look on the bright side. Laugh at the weird encounters you have and chalk them up to experience. It’s easy to get bitter with the dating life, I know. But the more bitter you get, the more the quality guys will run the other way when you finally meet one. So many guys on here say they are sick of “bitter queens”, but they don’t realize that their complaining makes them one of the same group. Guys who are bitter seem like they are “over” life and done. Be the guy who makes a new start instead.

Good luck!

Why I love Craigslist

Fixed Gear Death Trap
Data: 2008-03-16, 6:33PM PDT

I'm selling a complete fixed gear. It is totally ready to ride and will probably kill you.

I pushed it into a bike shop recently to have the rear wheel trued. At the bottom of my receipt it read, 'My advice, get a new bike.' So, I am. And maybe you are too! He was reserved enough not to use the words 'death' or 'trap,' but I'm not!

The frame is probably an old Raleigh that could have been worth something. It's rattlecanned and chipping rapidly. The paint is almost completely gone where my car's bike rack grips. There are, however, parts of the bike that are still entirely painted.

Looking a little deeper, the headset is completely fucked. Unless you can ride a unicycle, you can't ride this bike with no hands. I'm expecting something terrible to happen in the headset in the next few rides that will pitch me onto the pavement. For the right price, this could be you!

Also, the pedals were never supposed to house toe cages. So, the cages are kind of ruined and inoperable. Sometimes when I'm skidding, my front foot will almost slip out and I'll get all wobbly before righting myself. During these moments, my eyes are usually plate-wide with terror. This could be your terror!

There are still front and rear brakes installed, because it was always kind of a half-assed conversion. These could definitely be removed, though. The bike shop guy even tightened up the rear brakes for me. You could be the only fixie rider in SF with fully functional rear brakes.

But the brake cables are also completely shot, so I wouldn't count on it.

The handlebar tape is falling off and one of the plugs is missing.

Also, I don't remember what kind of cranks are on it but the pedals are super long. Every now and then when you're riding they slam off the ground and get more ruined. Again, there's some aspect of terror here.

The gear ratio is 52/20. The rear tire is flat and the Presta valve is broken off.

This bike is what my brother affectionately refers to as a 'time bomb.' Why? Because there's no track hub or cog. Actually, there's a freewheel with loctite in it. So far, I've been able to learn how to ride fixed on this setup without it falling apart. But someday it will. And when it does, someone is going to get fucking screwed.

I paid $80 for it 8 months ago in Buffalo. Considering we're in San Francisco, the asking price is $350. I think that's only fair.

Thanks Scott! This is priceless!

Now I know why 30 brands of toothpaste at the store makes me angry...

Too many choices deplete mental acuity: U.S. researchers

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | 12:31 PM ET CBC News

People faced with many choices — over anything from consumer products to college courses — find it difficult to stay focused enough to complete projects and handle daily tasks, say U.S. researchers.

While having choices is often thought of as a good thing, research led by the University of Minnesota's marketing department found we are more fatigued and less productive when faced with a lot of choices.

Researchers from several U.S. universities conducted laboratory experiments with undergraduate students and their findings appear in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Participants were randomly assigned to make choices about consumer products, college courses or class materials. Other participants were not asked to make decisions but simply to consider options.

Each group was then instructed to participate in one of two unpleasant tasks. Some were told to finish a healthy but ill-tasting drink — akin to taking one's medicine and a measurement of self-control. Other participants were told to put their hands in ice water for as long as possible, also as a way of measuring self-control.

The tasks were designed to test how the previous act of choosing, or not choosing, affected peoples' ability to stay on task.

Those who earlier had made choices had more trouble staying focused and finishing the tasks compared to the participants who did not have to make choices.

"This pattern was found in the laboratory, classroom and shopping mall," Kathleen D. Vohs, the study's lead author, said in a release.

"Having to make the choice was the key. It did not matter if the researchers told them to make choices, or if it was a spontaneously made choice, or if making the choice had consequences or not."

In other experiments, participants were given math problems to practise for an upcoming test.

Those who had to make important choices selecting coursework for their psychology class spent less time solving the math problems and more time with distractions such as video games or magazines, compared to participants who were not asked to make choices prior to the test. The participants who made choices also got more math problems wrong than participants not faced with decisions.

Finally, the researchers conducted a field test at a shopping mall to see if their findings would hold up outside the laboratory.

Shoppers reported how much decision-making they had done while shopping that day and then were asked to solve simple math problems. The more choices shoppers made earlier in the day, the worse they performed. The findings held despite controlling for how long participants had been shopping, and for categories such as age, race, ethnicity and gender.

Even making "fun" choices had an effect on mental acuity. In their last experiment, researchers found that making enjoyable decisions, such as spending four minutes choosing items for a gift registry, was shown to be less mentally draining than when participants spent 12 minutes doing the same task.

The researchers concluded that even if people are having fun making decisions, their ability to focus is still being depleted with every choice they make.

Yeah, choice is good; too much choice is too much.

Up, up and away

Oil's 'super-spike' hits new high

The world oil price is a little like movie character Indiana Jones, oil conference delegates heard Monday morning -- no matter how many fundamental body blows it absorbs, it keeps climbing relentlessly higher. As oil prices rose to yet another record on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday, Giovanni Serio, London-based vp and senior energy economist for Goldman Sachs International, said oil and other commodity prices should be levelling off because of what is likely already a recession in the US. "Still, there is no sign of moderation in commodity prices, no sign of moderation of oil prices," he said in Calgary. "This really looks like the plot to one of those action movies, in which the protagonist, no matter what you throw at him, no matter how badly injured he is, defies all laws of physics and won't die." As he spoke, crude oil was rising 1.5% to a record US$111.76 a barrel at the close of floor trading on the NYMEX. Prices are up 76% from a year ago. Oil gained as the US dollar weakened against the euro and some production was halted in Nigeria. Serio, in the opening keynote address to the Canadian Energy Research Institute 2008 World Oil Conference at the Fairmont Palliser hotel, said oil prices are also being boosted by political protectionism that is causing a shortfall in investment, preventing producers from matching demand growth.

Julian Lee, senior energy analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London, told conference delegates that only a sharp recession in the US, one that might spread to Europe, will coax the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries into increasing oil capacity and result in an end to sky-high energy prices. A recession would kick off a chain reaction that could eventually force OPEC members to produce more oil to maintain the level of revenue they now enjoy as a result of current oil prices. "What [OPEC members] are interested in is not how much oil they are producing. What they are interested in is their revenues to the government," Lee said. Recessions put the brakes on consumer spending, which is particularly bad news for China because it manufactures many of the goods consumed in the West. Much of China's growth is based on its export industries, and if these businesses stagnate, or even decline, investment in that sector could stall and "the growth in Chinese oil demand ends," Lee said. A drop in demand would translate into less money in OPEC government coffers. To make up the shortfall, OPEC would produce and sell even more oil to keep up demand and at reduced prices to ensure it pocketed the same amount of money as when prices were high, Lee said. "I don't believe that [OPEC's production] is driven by high prices," he said. "I believe that is driven by low prices, particularly if that low price starts to effect an increase in demand again."
(National Post, Calgary Herald 080415)

Hmm....so against all 'fundamentals' the price is still staying atmospheric? Maybe it's not a 'super spike' after all, dear delegates. The truth is too horrifying for even the experts to contemplate. What does that indicate for the policies and programs that needed to be implemented a decade ago to stave off this potentially disastrous problem?

OPEC has no more oil to pump...they are maxed out. Even the heads at Aramco have said to raise production any more is going to be a dubious, extremely expensive task.
Everything that is being produced is being consumed immediately...and there's still wont for more, now.

I love the Indiana Jones metaphor. The gravity and interpretation of the situation is about as reality-based as the fictional character.

Americans are working to drive, and decidedly skipping meals to keep the wheels on the road. McCain wants to eliminate the federal gas tax for the summer driving season. How fucked up is all of this? Start using less, now, you idiots. It's not rocket science.

10 April 2008

The power of lines

"Mystic Manchester" leads to medal enquiry

Following the lighting-quick times recorded at the world track championships in Manchester last week, scientists are looking into claims that a phenomena known as ley lines could have played a part in both those high speeds and the fantastic performance of the British team. Experts are looking into potential interaction between the mystical ley line and the stripes on the British team's skinsuits as a speed enhancer.

Manchester just happens to lie in direct alignment with two important archaeological and spiritual sites which are located along a hypothetical ley line: Stonehenge and Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. Some New Age theories propose that these lines resonate psychic or mystical energy, generating powerful electrical or magnetic forces.

"Skeptics try to play this down because they cannot explain it with science," said longtime ley line expert Martyn Erlin to Cyclingnews on Monday. "They need to see to believe, they need to be able to measure and to quantify for something to exist. However there's a huge amount of examples from the recent and distant history of this country to show that something inexplicable, unquantifiable yet wonderful is going on."

Manchester has long been regarded as a fast track but the number of world records, track standards and personal bests broken during the recent championships led experts such as Mr M. Erlin to ponder if something more significant was taking place.

Erlin theorized that the triple stripes which adorn the British team's skinsuits came into harmony with the ley lines when the riders got into their aero tucks, and it's possible that the harmonic consonance between the parallel lines created a vacuum in front of the riders, creating less wind resistance and enhancing their speed.

"It’s early days yet but my belief is that the recent resurfacing in the velodrome is one of the reasons why we are now seeing a change to the energy patterns," he said, a couple of hours after British Cycling officials escorted him off the premises and promised legal action. "We made some drillings prior to being interrupted and it seems that a very special type of pine was used for the new track surface. This is more porous to the energies than the previous covering."

When questioned about the British men's pursuit team, which wore the white UCI leader's kit rather than the standard British team strip, Erlin revealed that the riders had worn special undershirts with the triple-stripe pattern, indicating that the team was fully aware of the interaction with the mythical ley lines.

In the past hour Cyclingnews has learned that this mystical home advantage is being investigated by both the UCI and the IOC, and that the outcome could have severe implications for the nine gold medals won. An official from the latter organisation, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said that the results of the races could be in doubt if it was shown that such forces were at work.

"In a time when everything is being done to limit banned performance enhancers, it would be hypocritical of us to accept anything that may have benefited from a boost. No matter what that boost is. We'll be studying this very carefully and if it can be shown that anything peculiar was at work in Manchester, gold medals and world records may well be scrapped. Down with this sort of thing."

09 April 2008


Scientist warns climate change will impact beer production
Tue Apr 8, 3:43 AM
By The Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - The price of beer is likely to rise in coming decades because climate change will hamper the production of a key grain needed for the brew - especially in Australia, a scientist warned Tuesday.

Jim Salinger, a climate scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said climate change likely will cause a decline in the production of malting barley in parts of New Zealand and Australia. Malting barley is a key ingredient of beer.

"It will mean either there will be pubs without beer or the cost of beer will go up," Salinger told the Institute of Brewing and Distilling convention.

Similar effects could be expected worldwide, but Salinger spoke only of the effects on Australia and New Zealand. He said climate change could cause a drop in beer production within 30 years, especially in parts of Australia, as dry areas become drier and water shortages worsen.

Barley growing parts of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales would likely be harder hit than growing areas in New Zealand's South Island.

"It will provide a lot of challenges for the brewing industry," even forcing breweries to look at new varieties of malt barley as a direct result of climate change, Salinger said.

New Zealand and Australian brewer Lion Nathan's corporate affairs director Liz Read said climate change already was forcing up the price of malted barley, sugar, aluminium and sugar.

Read said that in addition to climate change, barley growers are grappling with competition from other forms or land use, such as the dairy industry.

02 April 2008

Look at all that unused capacity, Martha...

Oil age nearing the end, analyst says

Gasoline-powered cars are driving humanity to the end of the oil age, leaving electric vehicles as the best weapon against global warming. This is the major conclusion in a dramatic international report written by a former Exxon insider and released Tuesday to Canwest News Service. "Sometime during the year 2008, humanity will probably pass the point at which it collectively consumes 1,000 barrels of crude oil every second of every day. More than half of it -- and the share continues to rise -- is dedicated to the movement of goods, services and people," said the analysis by physical chemist Gary Kendall, titled Plugged in: The End of the Oil Age. "Despite the pivotal role which oil is playing during the early years of the 21st century we are, without a doubt, entering the twilight of the Oil Age." Kendall, 34, is now a senior energy business and policy analyst at the World Wildlife Fund's European office in Brussels, following a nine-year career in the oil industry. His analysis also warns that some alternatives, such as hydrogen or biofuels, including ethanol from agricultural crops, could do as much environmental damage as crude oil from conventional wells.

In the 200-page report Kendall says that government and industry should focus on new technologies that reduce dependence on oil such as the G-Wiz, a battery-powered electric vehicle now on British roads that retails for about $17,000 and offers a 75-kilometre range with top speeds of about 80 km/h. London commuters who drive the G-Wiz already enjoy several benefits, including an exemption from the daily congestion charge, free parking in designated bays and even free electricity from adjacent charging posts, the report said. An increase in electric vehicles would be expected to put more demands on electric utilities and power grids, but Kendall noted that a recent impact assessment of plug-in hybrid vehicles in the US concluded that power companies already had enough energy to charge 84% of cars in the country, driving an average of 53 kilometres per day. In his report, Kendall compares the challenge at hand to the revolution in communications sparked by the mobile telephone, but he said the new infrastructure for electric vehicles would be trivial, requiring only new wiring or extension cords on existing buildings and power sources. Kendall's analysis also questions the energy-intensive extraction of oil from Alberta's tarsands, as well as the use of biofuels, since he says they do little to shift vehicles away from the internal combustion engine in the transportation sector which consumes almost 95% of its primary energy in fuels derived from crude oil.
(Vancouver Sun 080402)

01 April 2008


Algae: 'The ultimate in renewable energy'
By Marsha Walton

ANTHONY, Texas (CNN) -- Texas may be best known for "Big Oil." But the oil that could some day make a dent in the country's use of fossil fuels is small. Microscopic, in fact: algae. Literally and figuratively, this is green fuel.

Plant physiologist Glen Kertz believes algae can some day be competitive as a source for biofuel.

"Algae is the ultimate in renewable energy," Glen Kertz, president and CEO of Valcent Products, told CNN while conducting a tour of his algae greenhouse on the outskirts of El Paso.

Kertz, a plant physiologist and entrepreneur, holds about 20 patents. And he is psyched about the potential algae holds, both as an energy source and as a way to deal with global warming.

"We are a giant solar collecting system. We get the bulk of our energy from the sunshine," said Kertz.

Algae are among the fastest growing plants in the world, and about 50 percent of their weight is oil. That lipid oil can be used to make biodiesel for cars, trucks, and airplanes. Watch how pond scum can be turned into fuel »

Most people know algae as "pond scum." And until recently, most energy research and development projects used ponds to grow it.

But instead of ponds, Valcent uses a closed, vertical system, growing the algae in long rows of moving plastic bags. The patented system is called Vertigro, a joint venture with Canadian alternative energy company Global Green Solutions. The companies have invested about $5 million in the Texas facility.

"A pond has a limited amount of surface area for solar absorption," said Kertz.

"By going vertical, you can get a lot more surface area to expose cells to the sunlight. It keeps the algae hanging in the sunlight just long enough to pick up the solar energy they need to produce, to go through photosynthesis," he said.

Kertz said he can produce about 100,000 gallons of algae oil a year per acre, compared to about 30 gallons per acre from corn; 50 gallons from soybeans.

Using algae as an alternative fuel is not a new idea. The U.S. Department of Energy studied it for about 18 years, from 1978 to 1996. But according to Al Darzins of the DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab, in 1996 the feds decided that algae oil could never compete economically with fossil fuels.

The price of a barrel of oil in 1996? About 20 bucks!

Government scientists experimented with algae in open ponds in California, Hawaii, and in Roswell, New Mexico.

But that involved a lot of land area, with inherent problems of evaporation and contamination from other plant species and various flying and swimming critters. Darzins said NREL switched from algae research to focus on cellulosic ethanol. That's ethanol made from plants like switchgrass and plant stover -- the leaves and stalks left after a harvest -- but not edible crops such as corn and soybeans.

Valcent research scientist Aga Pinowska said there are about 65,000 known algae species, with perhaps hundreds of thousands more still to be identified.

A big part of the research at the west Texas facility involves determining what type of algae produces what type of fuel. One species may be best suited for jet fuel, while the oil content of another may be more efficient for truck diesel.

In the Vertigro lab, Pinowska studies the care and feeding of algae for just such specifics. She said even small changes in the nutrients that certain algae get can help create a more efficient oil content.

And she said a knowledge of algae's virtues goes way back.

"Even the Aztecs knew it was beneficial; they used it as a high protein food," said Pinowska.

The other common commercial use of algae today is as a health food drink, usually sold as "Spirulina."

I'm too sexy for my pond

And who knew that single celled plants could be such "hotties" when it comes to sex? Kertz said it's a real "algae orgy" under the microscope.

Some algae reproduce sexually, some asexually, while many combine both modes. In some green algae the type of reproduction may be altered if there are changes in environmental conditions, such as lack of moisture or nutrients.

Intriguing details like that keep Kertz and other scientists searching for more and different algae. While dusty west Texas may not be the best hunting grounds, he said he is always on the lookout for samples in puddles, streams or ponds.

Locating algae processing plants intelligently can add to their efficiency. Locating algae facilities next to carbon producing power plants, or manufacturing plants, for instance, the plants could sequester the C02 they create and use those emissions to help grow the algae, which need the C02 for photosynthesis.

And after more than a decade hiatus, the U.S. government is back in the algae game. The 2007 Energy Security and Independence Act includes language promoting the use of algae for biofuels. From the Pentagon to Minnesota to New Zealand, both governments and private companies are exploring the use of algae to produce fuel.

But Al Darzins of the National Renewable Energy Lab said the world is still probably 5 to 10 years away from any substantial use of biofuels.

"There's not any one system that anyone has chosen yet. Whatever it is has to be dirt, dirt cheap," said Darzins.

Think this one has some potential to evolve into something viable in the next 10 years? Won't be able to replace everything, but biofuels certainly have the potential to assume the role of a certain portion of our energy needs in the future.