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About malco

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  1. 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
  2. I have found elsewhere that the best way to deal with trollers is to ignore them - but do it in a devastating way. You wait until they make a post, then within a couple of minutes you add your own post directly under theirs, one that has nothing to do with their trolling and indeed moves the argument on in such manner as to make it obvious that you are treating their posts with silent contempt. very few trollers have the will to rise to this treatment for any length of time. You win the moral victory. So far as I am aware, you can't take legal action for defamation posted on the web. That is why there are so many sites that get away with slagging off the Bush dynasty etc etc. I wouldn't waste time or money on a legal challenge. I place lawyers beside economists as self-serving parasites and mountbanks.
  3. Dr B, don't you think that Fugro is a better bet than PICO as a water exposure? Figro are respected specialists, whereas PICO look more like dilettantes. http://www.fugro.com/ Schlumberger are pretty hard to beat, as they also have an interest in water - ties in with their oil & gas exploration expertise. I do wish the market would drop. I am getting impatient waiting for it!
  4. I would not have said it was particularly one-sided. If the IEA are predicting Peak Oil by 2020, that really means we are already in the zone of the crisis, due to the disruption of markets as excess supply disappears. However, it is worth mentioning that there have been very large discoveries of Nat Gas in North America in the last few years. The US and Canada will have the option of using Nat Gas as an alternative to oil. This will to some extent relieve the pressure on the oil market for the rest of us. Also, we will be able to import LNG from Qatar - at a price mind. Britain is a pretty rich country still and we will be able to out bid most of the rest. However, life will not go on as per normal with fuel going up through £1.50/litre. Incidentally, has anybody been noticing that the roads are very quiet for the time of year? I was cycling out in the Lammermuirs area on Saturday and was astounded at how quiet the roads were away from towns. It almost felt like a time warp had taken me back to the early 1980s. Effects of recession hitting discretionary cruising?
  5. I was not impressed enough to listen to more than about half of it. There were too many canards. The one suggesting that the US invaded Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein selling oil in Euros.... why do people keep repeating that? If SH did that it would be his loss because buyers would demand a discount to cover the cost of converting dollars to Euros. Iraq never sold enough oil to call the shots. Then the assertion about the gold standard preventing wars. Well, it did not prevent the Napoleonic Wars. Britain came off the gold standard to pay for the war and then struggled for years afterwards to get back on, eventually managing it for the rest of the century and on to 1914, when she came off to finance WW1. This time the Brits just could not get onto the gold standard again afterwards, and abandoned it I think in the early 1930s after defaulting on US debt repayments. Nuclear power stopped major wars, at least so far. Europe was at war repeatedly in the C19th.
  6. The Wright Brothers were the first to learn how to build a controllable airplane. Others before them, such as Lilienthal, Maxim and Langley, had built planes that could stay in the air for brief periods, but they were not controllable. In particular they had no three dimensional control system to enable a coordinated banked turn. The Wrights found that very little of what they could glean from existing experience was of much use to them, and a lot of it turned out to be misleading. This actually delayed them. They also were unusual in that they learned how to fly fast enough that neither of them were killed trying, unlike many of the pioneers before them. I am surprised that the Wrights have not been the object of deniers. The evidence that they actually flew at Kittyhawk is very much of the type that the deniers/conspracy theorists would debunk. The odd primitive photograph, witness statements by a handful of local yokels.... I can imagine Bart Sibrell thundering with righteous indignation: "Can we really believe that two self-educated bicycle mechanics from the Midwest really achieved what the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute and all the other finest minds of science were unable to achieve? On the basis of a single grainy photo? Pah!" As previously pointed out, the US did not invent/discover either Penicillin or the car, but did pioneer the mass production of both. They can, however, take the credit for the airplane and nuclear power.
  7. The bloomberg article does not say where these plants will get their biomass from - my guess is it will be a mixture of waste wood otherwise destined for landfill, cropped biomass all topped off with fossil fuels. The problem is that you can't burn biomass in a diesel or gas turbine engine. That leaves steam plant, and the trouble there is that steam plant smaller than about 300MW are not very efficient. Admittedly this may not be too much of a problem if district heating is involved - but the investment required there would generally be very high. District heating worked in the Soviet Union because the people had to live where the state put them, and the state insisted on stuffing them into batteries that were readily served by district heating from the local power plant. Sprawling suburbia in Britain might not be quite so easy. I suppose the best one can say is that biomass will make a small contribution, just like wind, hydro and solar, and tidal will make a sizeable contribution in time, and we will get used to making do with less and certainly wasting less.
  8. The short answer is "no". Wood burning of harvested wood will not make a significant contribution to electricity production. When I worked for ABB I recall we carried out a calculation on how much land would be required to serve a very small power plant - 40MW comes to mind, and it was square miles. It's the biofuel conundrum - you can't grow that much energy, in relation to what we use as a society in our current lifestyles. A coal fired power plant like Drax or Eggborough in the Midlands gets through a staggering quantity of coal in a year. Drax will burn around 5 million tonnes of coal a year, or nearly 14,000 tonnes per day. The energy in coal is much denser than in wood. Taking a guess, I'd say for Drax to operate on wood would require 10 million tonnes of timber. What is the national production of timber in the UK? A brief googling did not answer that question although it did yield a production figure for high quality plantation of 5 tonnes per hectare per year. So taking that, we get 2 million hectares of woodland required to feed Drax (obviously managing and harvesting such an extent would itself require labour and energy). Such an area is 20,000 km2 or about 8,000mi2, which slightly exceeds all the existing woodland in the United Kingdom. Drax supplies about 7% of the UK electric demand..... Do you see the picture?
  9. Obvious point really, but if you want to get into oil services companies like Baker Hughes, Halliburton or Schlumberger, then now is the time to do it when you have folk mesmerised by the collapse in oil prices. I am seriously seeking an alternative to cash and am looking at oil services companies. They will be essential in a world desperate to counter the effects of depletion in existing fields (and the world will be that desperate in the near future). They are also quite volatile stocks - high beta - so if you step on at the bottom you'll get a real nice ride up top when the oil price rises again - as it will. I have no particular acumen as an investor, yet over the last four years, my world view has turned out so exactly true that it is kind of eerie. I saw what people in the City paid 100 times what I get did not see. If you understand the energy situation it gives you the kind of advantage of someone who stumbles upon a gold field in a lonely place - it's all there for the taking. Because the energy situation seems to be something intuitively clear to people of a particular sort, but totally beyond others, even who are otherwise quite bright. It's as if most people have a safety circuit that just tunes their attention out when they encounter something that is too disturbing to the foundation pof their lives.
  10. You should learn to ride a bicycle. In 100,000 miles of road riding, I have never so much as scratched myself. Not that this proves anything, since a single example does not prove a general rule. However, risk assessment shows that on-road cycling is not more risky than walking or driving. Cyclists that are hospitalised have lower AIS scores than for pedestrians or car occupants. How did you suffer all these injuries? That said, like you I have my doubts about electric bikes. Predictably, manufacturers are competing to a degree on performance. The bikes now coming out have similar potential to a moped, which can reach 35mph. I can foresee a debate raging about "what is a motorcycle?". Those who are too lazy to turn the pedals should not pretend that they are cyclists.
  11. malco


    I suggest you listen to this week's Financial Sense Big Picture (Part 2). I have never heard such absolutely clear, decisive and convinced advice to load up now while the stuff is on the table. Physical bullion is vanishing. This is not a gold collapse, it is an irrational dollar surge that is weird and unaccountable. Also read this paper at FS to get a better feel for what is actually going on: http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editoria.../2008/0814.html Then relax....
  12. If the economic imperative was sufficient, the government would adopt compulsory purchase, same as they did with the motorways and oil pipeline/electricity infrastructure. People might be glad to take what they can get, if thereis a severe property bust and energy shortages stymy recovery (which I think will be the case) Every dealing I have had with British Waterways indicates that it is a classic, complacent, incompetent British bureaucracy. Probably it would have to be broken up and sold to more vigorous companies to get things really moving.
  13. malco


    SNAP! Do we need to distinguish between gold bullion used as cash, as against fully-backed noteage issued by an institution? For most of history, precious metals have been the form of exchange amongst the landed and merchant elites (along with slaves and livestock). So on that basis the answer to your question would appear to be potentially "yes". Except that the fossil era, and especially the drastic oil era since 1945, has been a unique period in commercial history during which productivity grew by a factor of about a hundred. This rate of growth, and the ever greater scale of wars that became possible through greater productivity, seems to have been the factor that rendered the Gold Standard impractical. The countries that won wars had the greatest capacity to issue debt and get away with it - these were coal rich or oil rich countries, since these resources can be seen as a sort of currency backing. One could argue that debt issued against oil in place is not real debt, but oil backed currency. Until your oil production peaks and goes into decline. Then debt is real debt and you areforced off the Gold Standard, as the US was soon after its oil production peaked. Is there a connection? I suspect so. We will watch Sterling as we descend the gloomy slopes from the Hubbert's Peak of the North Sea. In Niall Ferguson's The Cash Nexus he discusses Gold Standard versus Fiat, at no great length, despite the great length of this tome, but he does not come off the fence to conclude one is inately better than the other.
  14. malco


    Nothing like a few bad days to bring out the jitterbugs... Bunch of old women. If you sold into this correction, shame on you....
  15. malco


    It is a little unsettling to see gold drop >$30 in a day. A similar slump happened after the peak in Spring 2006, with the price falling briefly below the 200 day MA, as it has done again in the last few days. I think the slump is so deep this time because not only do you have seasonal demand low but also the fall in oil prices and people thinking that the worst is past. The POG should pick up again towards the end of the month.