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About malco

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  1. I think they'll use the cover of the Coronavirus to crash the financial system down to rubble. They can blame the crash on "events" to divert attention from the true cause. This will reduce anger against the excesses of super-finance, which could have caused a revolution without the cover of the Coronavirus. Then they reboot the system on its old terms and go back to rent-seeking off a population of indentured dopes sweating through their mortgages. The Top will have gained big-time because they can see ahead and have the resources to switch into gold, commodities, land and private security to ride out the storm. Ordinary people will have been reduced to serfdom. And they will stay there. We could come out of this world-wide looking like the Middle Ages. But we will have solved Climate Change! Always look on the bright side...
  2. malco

    Boris Wins. Now Brexit?

    For the first time in my life, I did not vote in a UK general election (and I first voted in 1983). I was so unimpressed by the range of dysfunctional choices that I simply could not bring myself to do it. The propensity for the English to vote Tory (Conservative) simply amazes me. The vast majority of those who vote Tory are being taken for a ride by a clique of smug cynics in the south of England (the "Private State"). Unless you went to a top public school (private school to those outside UK), attended Oxbridge, socialise in a London club, work in the City, and/or are a member of an Inn of Court or are a top civil servant, you have absolutely no reason to vote Tory. Indeed, it is dead against your interests, since the practice of Toryism is to coax ordinary people in debt, cars and heavily mortgaged houses in order to raise the fixed costs of living. In this way, the Private State can extract rents whilst confounding the potential for workers to fight back through industrial action. It's perfectly obvious, but the English are apparently dumb enough to buy it. An interesting situation now arises. It is more blatant than ever that England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are distinct countries that wish to go their own separate ways. No doubt Johnson will get Brexit through as he promised, but it will be at the cost of the end of the UK.
  3. I do have time for those who challenge the consensus about climate change, due to having had in-depth involvement in certain "road safety" policies that were based on nothing more than political cynicism, institutional dishonesty and academic delusion. Although hard data proved the policies wrong, this had no effect on institutional, media or public attitudes. Lies answered hard data and lies won. In the end, objectors got tired of being a futile minority, shrugged, and went on to do other things. Public health and quality of life suffer, but long-standing political expediencies endure. The basic problem is that politics is a mix of cynicism (by rulers) and emotional tides amongst "the people". Since the end of WW2, the rise of affluence has necessited a degree of degeneracy, but the reward has been "kicks" for the people. The people like their "kicks" (fast cars, foreign holidays, witnessing spectacular crashes). Just try taking them away from the people... My problem with efforts to dispute climate change is that they never address the central results of the "hockey stick". If Mann et al's paper is wrong, then it can readily be shown to be wrong in straightforward language. But I have never seen this done. Maybe this guy Soon has a point. I have consciously steered clear of taking a deep interest in climate change science, knowing that such a fascination can devour one's life to no good result. If climate change is a hoax, no amount of "proof" will shift the tide of popular emotional/hysterical support for it. What is the root of that emotional support? Perhaps suppressed exasperation about overcrowding, suppressed guilt about the consequences of affluence (as affluence is currently practised), dismay at the disappearance of wilderness under container ports and cities... Who can say?
  4. I don't think climate change is a hoax - although it is being used by attention-seekers like Greta Brat as a platform. That said, I doubt climate change is much of a threat to our societies relative to financial delusion combined with what used to be called Peak Oil. I have a private suspicion that the elite of the world are growing increasingly exasperated at overcrowding due to hedonistic consumption of affluent societies. There was a time when wealth bought you the exclusive peace of the Caribbean, or Bermuda, or the Pacific islands, the classical empty world prior to WW2 as described by Somerset Maugham. Those days are largely gone. The Fatted Masses seethe from their urban nests to despoil the beauty of the world with their sunbathing, scooters and banal gawping at ancient ruins. Of course, the Fatted Masses are living on time borrowed from the future in a tower of debt. The supply of conventional oil largely maxed out about 15 years ago. Most of the increase in supply since then has been from expensive, unconventional oil that has caused sharp price spikes, which in turn have forced economic growth back. If the world economy continues to borrow to challenge the physical limit of the oil supply, it does not take a genius to predict who will win. There will be a collapse. It will be worse than the Great Depression or the collapse of the USSR. That's when the global elite will dart in to buy out nation states and become private sovereign power. The elite will subjugate the masses to prevent them ever rising back to affluence. Ludicrous fantasy? Perhaps. But if I thought of it, you can bet the top-dogs have thought of it.
  5. MMT = Modern Monetory Theory. As I understand it, the government just pumps out money into the economy . It does not borrow it in the capital markets, it just pumps it out of a vacuum. They make cold run to hot. Now, if people just laughed at the idea, then I would not be concerned. But there are people who seriously propose this as a solution to the basic problem that taxes are too low and expectations of the social services are too high. We don't have enough money? No problem! We just pump it out of nothing... Cold will run to hot. It prompts me to wonder if we have reached the final stages of delusional thinking that precede total collapse. The latter years of the Soviet Union were characterised by a belief the communist system could be reformed, but remain an essentially communist system... Until reality came a-calling and that was the end of delusion. And so it seems to be happening in our societies. Instead of facing a bitter reality, the popular consensus shifts ever further into childish fantasy. I watch, but I just can't believe what I am seeing. I can't understand why the adults remain silent. Or do the adults lie in wait, to swoop upon the corpse and pick it clean?
  6. malco

    Peak Oil - Bull or Bear?

    Sorry Dr B, I did not reply to your query. The answer is, I'm not an investor, so I don't know. Energy shares should be a dead cert bet, but of course nothing is, because of "events". The oil industry in particular is so riven by global politics that it is impossible to foresee what perverse twists of fate will occur to affect share prices. I suspect the main problem for the oil industry will be obtaining the capital it needs for ever-larger projects amid a financial system in ever-more-precarious condition and a political system ever more riven by posturing politics (mealy-mouthed swine in government nodding at Climate Change whilst failing to contain transportation on populist grounds). Climate Change is going to make Brexit look like a kindergarten tea-party.
  7. Bolton is described as a competent patriot. Strange how his "patriotism" did not extend to volunteering to fight in Vietnam as a young man, when he had a chance to prove himself to be the real thing. I have no time for "tough guys" like Bolton, Dubbya, Cheney and others, who in their youth shied away from putting their lives in jeopardy, but in middle age were all too eager to throw the next generation into the storm of steel. Good riddence. However, I wonder if his successor will be any better.
  8. After reading Jim Rickards book "The Road to Ruin", I started thinking about what would happen if the IMF really did have to bale out the central banks, so that the central banks could bale out the stupid dorks who loaned too much to the wrong people. The control of the global financial system would then be in the hands of a central committee. I'm thinking with my conspiratorial hat on. Imagine that ten or fifteen years pass, and it becomes clear the major governments are going to do little more than token gestures to control CO2/Methane emissions. Affluence continues to spread, overcrowding becomes more and more of a problem. Everywhere is unbearably crowded. The beautiful places are either getting built over or crawled over by swarms of tourists. Let us imagine a clique of high-level financiers, officials and entrepreneurs decide they have had enough of watching the beauty and peace of the world disappear under the Fatted Masses. When the next financial crisis happens, they decide to pull the plug on the financial system and retreat to land and gold. Fiat currencies go down under their own weight of debt taking the industrial world with them. Those with land and gold can buy up police and soldiers no longer being paid by nation states (because nation states have gone bust). They become the new sovereigns. They watch much of the world starve or fight to death. Could this happen? My instinct is that if a thousand or so high-level people did adopt a similar attitude, not necessarily a formal conspiracy, so much as a collective interest not to act, then it could happen. In fact, I am more and more convinced something of the sort will happen if governments continue to be so lackadaisical in the face of climate change and overcrowding (personally I see overcrowding as being a more immediate threat than climate change). I'd love to get other views on this.
  9. The pretentious vocabulary of transgender is the giveaway it's a sham subject. Anyone who undergoes surgery is not becoming the opposite sex, they are becoming sex-free by castration or sterilisation. I can never understand why this point is not made more forcefully. A man cannot become a woman, he becomes a neuter with a surgically created hole between his legs. Sorry to be crude, but that is they way it is. The glitz and glamour is creating dangerously false aspirations and expectations. I think there's more than an element of mass hysteria about all this. Maybe we need to bring back the Cold War so that people can be shit-scared about getting vaporised and they won't have time for pettifogging nonsense like transgender.
  10. malco

    Peak Oil - Bull or Bear?

    Peak Oil topic has receded over the years, and sites like The Oil Drum have pretty much shut up shop. Yet the basic issue has not gone away. The problem is the decline in the quality of the resource. There are only so many onshore supergiant fields, most have been in production for decades (up to 80 years in the case of some Iranian fields) and they are tired. The Ghawar oilfield (the largest ever discovered) is now in decline, as was recently admitted by Aramco. As the quality declines, the energy required to produce oil grows. This means that even if oil production is growing on paper, the amount of net oil left for the non-oil industry part of society could be shrinking. This is "Energy Recovered on Energy Invested" or EROEI. The problem is getting accurate data to calculate the EROEI. I have lately seen a figure of about 13 for the global oil industry. This has fallen from what was probably about 40 back in the 1940s. This would not be overly alarming if a) the Fatted Masses had a clue what was going on, but of course they do not, and b) the world did not continue to live off debt, but of course it does. As EROEI falls, the productivity improvements needed to pay back the debt get harder to achieve (or they can't be achieved). Ugo Bardi has an interesting article on this: https://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-03-15/eroei-matters-role-net-energy-survival-civilization/ It was probably an error to put the focus on Peak Oil. Instead there needs to be a better understanding of the link between EROEI and productivity.
  11. The video link was interesting. However, it was focused on welfare payments to those who are work-shy, rather than minimum wages for those who do work. Minimum wage legislation is too crude to off-set the effects of corporate power being excessively concentrated. My example of Switzerland has high wages for ordinary jobs because the people work very hard, have consistently high educational standards, and there is a deep understanding of the obligation of employers to invest in people and plant to achieve high productivity. This combination of factors is generally not present in the UK. Indeed, the failure to improve productivity much over the last decade speaks volumes for a generally ineffective corporate leadership here in the UK. The mysterious thing about the US is that traditionally there was a collective view, at least in big manufacturing, that high productivity was a prime objective to promote living standards. This derives from Henry Ford's own motivation to make his workforce efficient enough that they could afford the cars they made in a comparatively short period of time. The US taught the world about this level of egalitarianism - it makes me laugh when people attack "capitalism" from a left-wing perspective, given the shocking material standards in the Soviet Union. I don't know where the US lost its way in this respect. Was it the 1970's? Disruption due to oil shocks and import pressure from Japan? When one interest (be it public bureaucracy, boardrooms, or trade unions) has too much power, it tends to lead to a sluggish, low affluence society. A few have a great deal, but their demand is not enough to sustain highly productive industries. Only a large consumer culture can do that. I suppose the point I'm getting at is that the existence of a sub-class of poorly paid people may well seem like a good think superficially, as being a pool of cheap labour, but this misses the point of how such people would contribute to demand if they were employed productively. Minimum wage legislation could be part of a broader package to reform an economy with a low-pay culture, but it is only one element.
  12. Dr B, interesting insight about the interview with Fred Olsen. In the UK I don't think the wealthy classes have much sense of obligation to society, although in fairness feelings that way were probably wiped out by the punitive taxation of the '70's, and the extravagant amount of money that goes into the welfare state of the UK. Switzerland has a similar distribution of wealth to the UK (or it did have when I lived there), but it does not feel the same. There is a basic level of living that is protected through minimum wages and cartels. Also, there is not the anti-engineering snobbery in Switzerland prevalent in the south of England. The cartels and so forth may appear anti-competitive and "socialist", but it avoids the low-pay culture that dogs the UK (and US) and gives rise to the scale of the welfare state of the UK. I can't prove it, but I suspect it would be more efficient just to enforce a minimum wage high enough that most welfare payments could be removed. I'm sceptical about how far renewables are going to take the world. In wind turbines particularly, I see more of a political posture than any pragmatic effort to produce a carbon-free grid. They make some difference, but not that much. The UK is becoming increasingly dependent on imported natural gas used to fuel combined-cycle gas turbines. That's fine, until Russia decides to fiddle with the gas supply... Do you really think Atlantis existed? If so, where was it, and how large was it?
  13. Dr B, no I am not an extreme Royalist. The countries I admire the most have a mature blend of socialism and capitalism: Switzerland and Norway being particular cases. I lived in Switzerland for a couple of years, so saw it at first hand. In these countries there is an absence of the endless wrangling about healthcare and education that goes on in the UK and the USA. Everyone gets a fair crack at a good education and access to good healthcare. The reason seems to be that neither country contains a class of people who flatter themselves as being a super-class above everyone else, with an entitlement to superior education, healthcare etc denied the bulk of the population. Such attitudes are endemically engrained in both UK and US. The attitude appears to be related to the power of the stock market. In CH and NO most people work for family businesses, rather than PLC's, so the ownership and the workers are all in it together: if one side fails, so fails the other. PLC's are run by non-owning management that typically are beholden to short-term shareholder interest rather than long-term customer and employee interests. It is an obviously flawed business model when the constituency with the least commitment have the greatest power. The reason it happens is because it suits the power-elite for it to happen that way - they can extract wealth from the economy without being deeply involved in terms of actually having to own factories and manage a workforce. At the risk of stretching my hobby-horse, I believe most of the social/political strife in the US and UK derive from the excessive power of the stock markets over private enterprise. But no one is talking about it - probably because they are not engineers like me and they simply don't understand the problem. I really have no idea where this puts me on the political spectrum. It could be interpreted are right wing (defence of private enterprise) or left wing (more power to employees). Royalty is obviously associated with privilege, and no doubt much southern English snobbery rests upon the social precedence at the top of which is the Queen. However, I at a personal level I respect most of the individuals of the Royal family and don't think it's worth the disruption to get rid of them. Both Switzerland and Norway have glaring problems, of course, but they are better able to make mature decisions as societies than silly little play-pens like the US and UK, where political discourse is getting alarmingly disconnected from reality.
  14. It's a while since I've posted on this forum, mainly because it became disappointingly extreme for some reason. I watched the Bill Whittle video all the way through - granted that he is an engaging speaker. His message has stuck in my mind for a few days, so I decided to leave some thoughts. He's wrong on quite a lot of things. He is wrong that rabbit warrens are not hierarchical, in fact they are, and the rabbits fight for their rank. Outsiders are not passively welcomed, they are shunned and rarely accepted into the warren. Rabbits cannot be as stupid as all that, since they are one of the few animals with a hardiness tough enough to flourish amidst human efforts to flatten Nature for our own uncontrolled numbers. He is also wrong to state that all empires fell for the same reason. They fell for different reasons, in many cases we do not really know for sure why they fell. There is no consensus on why the western Roman Empire fell when it did, nor why the eastern Empire fell when it did a thousand years later. The British Empire fell because the US emerged from WW2 as the most productive and wealthy nation on Earth. The US demonstrated that the way to national prominence is productive industries combined with a vibrant consumer culture, not imperial expansion. Britain had to let her empire go because she did not have the permission of the US to keep it, and the defeat of all other imperial nations left her isolated. It has been increasingly clear to me, as I look into industrial history, that the consumer culture we enjoy today is highly idealistic. No other society in history has ever seen the luxuries of wealth being so extensively and willingly shared with the hoi-palloi as our affluent democratic societies. The elite pay a high price for this sharing - they lose the exclusive access to air travel and the select resorts of the world, they have to sit in traffic jams and wait in crowded airports, they have to put up with their countryside carved to bits for motorways and railways, and they have to put up with aircraft noise and socialist politicians. Why do they put up with it? Pre-war Europe was totally different. In Europe, there never was any particular interest in sharing cars or air travel with the masses until after WW2, with the interesting exception of Hitler, who grasped the power of making luxuries available to the people, knowing his own power base was extremely tenuous. The "old money" cultures of Europe were in effect forced into consumerism by the US example. I have this sneaking feeling there are a lot of the elite of the world who know their post-war forebears made a huge mistake in building peace on letting everybody have everything. Anyway, getting back to Bill Whittle, I see in him a rather typical extremist. He builds a sense of frustration in his audience and then provides a stereotyped framework of ideology that permits aggression to be acceptable, even attractive behaviour. The typical allusions are to fierce animals and the fight for survival. It is the most dangerous and malignant form of political rhetoric. It has a lot in common with the Nazi "the strong shall rule the weak" and "only the fit deserve to survive". I am glad that at the moment the Tea Party is not politically that strong, but I fear it could become strong easily if times get as bad as James Rickards reckon.
  15. All energy is "free". We pay the Earth nothing to suck oil and gas out of it, after all. The price comes from the human labour and skill required to get it out of the ground and make it into something useful. Same for gold really. There are no free lunches in the Universe. Those who look for them are wasting time. They would learn more by reading up Fritz Zwicky's morphological analysis of engines, if they really want to come up with something new that actually works: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Zwicky#Morphological_analysis