Magdalen Hsu-Li: Impressive Talent

Magdalen Hsu-Li was born in my home town of Martinsville, VA, (long after I was gone). I’ve only listened to a few of her songs, but I like. She appears to be talented on many dimensions: songwriting, singing, performing, painting, business. Below are some excerpts from an interview.

If you visit her website at

http://www.magdalenhsuli.com

you can hear her music. Please leave a comment and let me if you like it.

Link: Collected Sounds – Interview with Magdalen Hsu-Li.

I love breaking the myth of the starving artist. That is such a lie that people tell artist from the day they are born and it’s so sad that so many artists psych themselves out with this myth. There is always a way to make a great living from music or any art form if you are willing to use your creativity to the business aspect. People think that creativity should only be in art and the business should be in business. But the most successful business people use their intuition and creativity to problem solve and figure out how to make things work. It’s important to work from both ends using your creativity. I also would like to break through the glass ceiling for Asian Americans in the American music industry. People don’t think it can be done right now but I know it can and it should happen soon!

Societal Decline versus Apocalypse

John Michael Greer looks at economic bubbles and societal declines throughout history for perspective on the changes facing the industrial countries in the next 25 years. Excerpts below.

Link: The Archdruid Report: No Different This Time.

…in my book The Long Descent, I’ve suggested that this gap between the realities of collapse in history and the imagination of collapse in contemporary culture unfolds from the presence of cultural narratives that were originally borrowed from religious sources and repeatedly mapped onto secular history despite their consistent failure to anticipate the shape of any actual future.

Since the late 19th century, when religious apocalyptic began to lose its grip on the Western imagination, a narrative as stereotyped and dysfunctional as the narrative that drives speculative bubbles has circulated in the industrial world. That narrative claims that the world faces collapse of a historically unprecedented kind: sudden, complete, and final. Like the bubble narrative, the collapse narrative brings its own rhetoric with it, and applies that rhetoric to currently favored catastrophes – peak oil, global warming, the Y2K crisis, nuclear war, race conflict, every major comet of the last century and a half, you name it – in the same way that the bubble narrative applies its rhetoric to the asset class du jour. Like the bubble narrative, in turn, the collapse narrative always insists that the failures of the past don’t matter, because it’s different this time.

The narrative of collapse shares another feature with the bubble narrative: it produces consistently inaccurate predictions about the future. Again, people have been predicting collapse in the terms of the narrative for around a century and a half, using arguments identical in form to the ones now being used to justify the same predictions today, and the results have not exactly been good. This isn’t simply a function of the future’s obscurity, for other approaches – based on other, more nuanced narratives – have yielded better results. Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler both made predictions about the cultural evolution of the modern West, for example, that have proved quite prescient. For that matter, the central argument of The Limits to Growth – that unlimited economic expansion would bring industrial civilization up against hard planetary limits in the first half of the 21st century, leading to an age of crisis and contraction – seems far more plausible now than it did when first published.

This reasoning undergirds my suggestion that it’s crucial to recognize the collapse narrative for what it is, and set it aside as a guide to the future, just as anyone hoping to make sense of economics in the real world would be well advised to start by setting aside the bubble narrative. Insisting that it’s different this time, and a way of thinking about collapse that has consistently produced false predictions for a century and a half is going to turn out accurate this once, just doesn’t seem plausible to me.

I suspect Dmitry Orlov is right that America is facing a collapse along the same lines as the Russian experience. If that happens, though, it’s just as likely that twenty years on, something like the rest of the Russian experience will have replicated itself as well, and an approximation of today’s United States will have undergone some degree of recovery from collapse. Equally, other regions of the world will likely be experiencing their own trajectories through the twilight of the petroleum age, and some of those trajectories will include sudden downward jolts of varying severity. Over the long term, as I’ve suggested, all those trajectories will trace out a broad pattern of decline, but history shows that the decline of a civilization is a complex thing, and there’s no reason to think that it will be different this time.

U.S. Energy Policy: First Face Reality

The U.S. only has about 3% of the world’s oil reserves, but demands 20% of current world production.

Richard T. Stuebi at Cleantech Blog, describes some solutions for the U.S. energy dilemma. Excerpts below.

Link: Cleantech Blog: When In A Hole, Stop Digging.

We complain about high energy prices, and ask the government to do something about it. When, in fact, there’s very little the government can do about energy prices. OPEC makes it abundantly clear that we are price-takers, not price-setters.

According to analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy, opening up new areas to drilling "would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.

Dr. Gal Luft, Executive Director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, recommends moving to Fuel Flexible vehicles, so OPEC would lose its stranglehold on the U.S. economy. (Fuel Flexible vehicles: Gasoline powered vehicles able to run on a limitless variety of alcohol/petroleum blends with the addition of equipment that is about $100 per vehicle.)

Dr. Luft and other luminaries (e.g., James Woolsey, Robert "Bud" McFarlane) have formed the Set America Free Coalition to promote the Open Fuel Standard Act, which would require that 50% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2010 must be fuel-flexible. According to Dr. Luft, the major automakers say this is doable.

The U.S. consumes about 25% of the world’s annual oil production, implying U.S. demand levels of about 21 million barrels/day (almost 8 billion barrels per year), but holds under its territory only about 2% of the world’s proven oil reserves of 1.2 trillion barrels. In contrast, the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) control almost 80% of the world’s oil reserves, yet produce only about 40% of annual oil supplies.

Leaders

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on….or by imbeciles who really mean it.

Mark Twain

via James Quinn in Looming Financial Catastrophe: A Real Inconvenient Truth

Example cited:

The Bush Administration recently announced that the budget deficit for FY09 will be $482 billion. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said President Bush is determined to enforce greater fiscal discipline while pursuing a pro-growth economic strategy…. He has 4 months left in office and NOW he wants to enforce greater fiscal discipline. The $482 billion doesn’t include the $180 billion per year being spent … in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Energy Policy: Ignoring Facts

Richard T. Stuebi, BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, has a top 10 list of energy facts.

Link: Cleantech Blog: When In A Hole, Stop Digging.

Top Ten List of Energy Facts:

1. World oil production (which is essentially equal to consumption) is at approximately 85 million barrels per day, or 31 billion barrels per year — and has essentially remained at these levels continuously since mid-2005, even though oil prices have doubled (from about $60/barrel) since then.

2. The U.S. consumes about 25% of the world’s annual oil production, implying U.S. demand levels of about 21 million barrels/day (almost 8 billion barrels per year), but holds under its territory only about 2% of the world’s proven oil reserves of 1.2 trillion barrels.

3. In contrast, the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) control almost 80% of the world’s oil reserves, yet produce only about 40% of annual oil supplies.

4. OPEC production was 31 million barrels/day in 1973, and 32 million barrels/day in 2007, despite the world economy having doubled in the intervening years.

5. OPEC includes among its members the following countries that are unstable, corrupt and/or unfriendly to the U.S.: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria.

6. The Middle Eastern members of OPEC represent over 75% of total OPEC capacity, of which the single largest player (without which the world oil markets would collapse) is Saudi Arabia, alone accounting for 22% of the world’s remaining proven oil reserves.

7. This year, the U.S. will send an estimated $700 billion to the Middle East to purchase oil — more than the U.S. defense budget (about $600 billion).

8. An unknown portion of these proceeds, but widely-agreed to be a significant amount, funds anti-American (and anti-women, and anti-Semitic, and anti-homosexual, and so on) sentiment — including outright terrorist activities.

9. About 99% of the energy consumed by the U.S. transportation sector derives from petroleum.

10. The vast majority of American citizens live and work in a manner requires oil-fueled transportation to maintain their basic lifestyles (commuting, shopping, etc.)

Nuclear Power is NOT Energy Independence

Steve Christ describes why nuclear energy increases U.S. energy dependence. Do we prefer to be dependent on OPEC or Russia? He says that we currently import 92% of the uranium (43% of that is from Russia) for nuclear power.

Link: Investing in Uranium.

…one of the biggest misconceptions about nuclear power at the moment is this: It will end our energy dependence foreigners. The truth is it will not. That’s the dirty little secret most people don’t know about nuclear power in the United States these days.

You see, while everyone knows we have become virtual slaves to foreign crude, only a few know we also import 92% of the enriched uranium necessary to run our nuclear plants. That is even worse than our predicament with oil where 70% of our supply is now imported.

That’s why I call enriched uranium America’s "other" energy crisis. Because if nothing else changes we could conceivably exchange one set of shackles for another if we are aren’t careful.

And it will likely only get worse when a 20 year program with the Russians called Megatons to Megawatts runs its course in 2013 since almost 43% of what we use comes from dismantled Soviet warheads. After that supply runs dry, it is not inconceivable we could be completely on our own, unable to meet our own needs.

onThat’s a current danger that we can ill-afford and Washington knows it. Over time, those potential shortages will only be exacerbated as more and more nuclear plants here and abroad begin to come online and demand skyrockets.

According to the World Nuclear Association, there are 439 reactors operating globally, with 36 under construction. Moreover, there are also 93 new reactors on the drawing board, with another 219 proposed. 

And should all of the planned and proposed reactors be built, the world total will be more than 787, or almost a 79% increase over the current level—-the vast majority of which will be fueled with—you guessed it— enriched uranium.

So at some point in the future, enriched uranium could be no different than oil—sold off in a tight market to the highest bidder. Sound familiar?

Beautiful Image: Tejon Ranch Poppies & Lupine

Tejon

Photo by Dean Hueber of Tejon Ranch Poppies & Lupine

Link: Sierra Magazine – Sierra Club.

The Tejon Ranch Company agreed in May [2008] to preserve 90 percent of its 270,000 acres north of Los Angeles. The largest contiguous parcel of privately held land in California, the ranch sits at the confluence of four ecosystems (the Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert, Coastal Range, and San Joaquin Valley) and provides vital habitat for the endangered California condor. The company agreed to permanently protect 178,000 acres, set aside another 62,000 for public purchase, and contribute $800,000 annually for seven years to fund conservation. In exchange, the Sierra Club and its allies won’t oppose planned resort and residential projects on 30,000 acres.

Monsanto Loses a Battle, Refocuses on Seed Monopoly

The Organic Consumers Union has some good news.

Link: A Decade of Consumer Pressure Is Driving Monsanto’s Bovine Growth Hormone off the Market.

Monsanto announces its selling its posilac division that makes bovine growth hormone.

St. Louis-based Monsanto announced today it is selling the division that produces bovine growth hormone, also known as rBGH or rBST.

There’s no problem with the product, insists the company. During a conference call today, Monsanto’s Chrissie Chavis told reporters that Posilac, as it’s known commercially, is a "solid successful product of significant value to dairy farmers."

But nationwide a growing number of consumers and dairy processors feel otherwise. "No artificial growth hormones used" is now commonly displayed on store shelves from Florida to California.

The proposed sale, she said, allows the company to focus on genetically engineered seed. "Our long term growth platform is focused on corn, soybeans, cotton and vegetables.

Let’s not forget that Monsanto is almost a monopoly on seeds planted for food and crops.

Link: Kitchen Gardeners International, Where do your seeds come from?

The following companies use Seminis (owned by Monsanto) as a supplier:

– Territorial Seeds
– Totally Tomato
– Vermont Bean Seed Co.
– Burpee
– Cook’s Garden
– Johnny’s Seeds
– Earl May Seed
– Gardens Alive
– Lindenberg Seeds
– Mountain Valley Seed
– Park Seed
– T&T Seeds
– Tomato Growers Supply
– Willhite Seed Co.
– Nichol’s
– Rupp
– Osborne
– Snow
– Stokes
– Jungs
– R.H. Shumway
– The Vermont Bean Seed Company
– Seeds for the World
– Seymour’s Selected Seeds
– HPS
– Roots and Rhizomes
– McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers
– Spring Hill Nurseries
– Breck’s Bulbs
– Audubon Workshop
– Flower of the Month Club
– Wayside Gardens
– Park Bulbs
– Park’s Countryside Garden