Inconstant Loon

As you may remember, back in September James Kunstler had this to say...

Take a good look at America around you now, because when we emerge from the winter of 2005 - 6, we're going to be another country. The reality-oblivious nation of mall hounds, bargain shoppers, happy motorists, Nascar fans, Red State war hawks, and born-again Krispy Kremers is headed into a werewolf-like transformation that will reveal to all the tragic monster we have become...

There are two things that the newspapers and TV Cable News outfits are not covering very well. One is that the Port of New Orleans is not functioning, with poor prospects for a quick recovery, and with it will go much of the Midwestern grain harvest. Another thing that has fallen off the radar screen is the damage done to the oil and gas infrastructure around the Gulf Coast, especially the onshore facilities for storing and transporting stuff, and for marshaling the crews and equipment to fix stuff. The US is going to run short of its customary supplies for a long time. The idea that these things will not affect an economy of ceaseless mobility is not realistic...

By October, the hurricane season will be ending and the stock market crash season will be underway. It is hard to imagine that companies like WalMart really believe they will keep their profits up when their customers are paying twice as much as they did a year ago to heat their houses and fill their gas tanks.

Oddly enough, I can't find these passages on his website. His archives for September, October, and November seem to have gone missing. It's all very peculiar. Luckily for my credibility, the piece was so memorable that many other bloggers quoted from it. Plus, it's cached in Google!

It's interesting to compare what's still showing up live with what's fallen into the memory hole, isn't it? I sure hope it wasn't an intentional accident (whistles tunelessly, shoves hands in pockets). Why, that would be like Nostradamus burning his own books...

[Update: As of 2/8/06 the archive is repaired. Huzza!]

Let's see what the Peak Oil Prophet has been up to lately...

January 9, 2006

I helped burn a few thousand gallons of aviation fuel flying out to San Francisco over the weekend to attend a meeting of people concerned about the injustices of globalism...My job...was to introduce the idea that this baneful globalism is not a permanent condition but a set of transient relations made possible by the fabulous inputs of cheap energy we continue to get.

I had the local news on the boob tube up in my hotel room before the kickoff cocktail schmooze. There was some kind of grotesque traffic accident on the Nimitz Freeway across the bay and the TV station had aerial shots from their helicopter showing a vast ribbon of frozen headlights snaking clear down from Alameda to Fremont in the violet crepuscular rush hour gloaming.

The news clones were treating this like an everyday event, ho-hum, and I had to suppose it was. But it was easy to imagine the despair of someone stuck down there in a Toyota Highlander with a bladder near bursting and not a hope in the world of being able to do anything about it. How many people pee all over their car seats every night, I wondered. Must be a few at least...

Me, I prefer strolling over to the shoulder...

Now, I was also moved to wonder: why do the good people of the Bay Area willingly endure this insanity? They built a subway about thirty years ago called Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), but it barely goes anywhere except back and forth under the bay.

Not strictly true, as you can see if you look at this map. Oh hell, it's not true at all. Notice the airport connection? And at Embarcadero Station, you can catch a surface light rail connection to the Caltrain station, where the big boy trains depart for parts south with some regularity.

It would cost less to put in surface light rail lines down both sides of the bay than to fix two freeway overpasses -- but they'd rather pee on their car seats because at least they'd be able to choose their own tunes while doing so.

I'm sure there's more to it than that. We have iPods now. I hear they're a little bit like a Walkman, but they hold lots and lots more songs, and they don't have tapes that break. So there must be some other reason they're driving...

Also, the peninsula already has light rail service. I have proof. Look, there are pictures! And here's their map. It's not especially apparent, but you can transfer to their system from the Caltrain station in Mountain View.

Many of my readers, I sense, wonder why things aren't falling apart across America right now, given the hallucinatory nature of our economy.

Tempting opportunity, but just too easy.

The answer is that Peak Oil is not the end of anything, it's the peak of everything. We're getting more oil now than ever before or ever again, and it is making us crazy...

Now let's not be blaming the Peak Oil for every little thing.

Peak is making us insane and passing peak will make us more insane. There may be no moment of clarity, only new kinds of delusion and disorder. We'll keep behaving the way we do until we can't, and then we won't.

Um, okay. I really think he's on to something with that last bit. Very concise. Quite irrefutable.

posted by Justin on 01.12.06 at 11:00 AM


Amusingly, I spent much of today at work watching natural gas for February delivery drop to the astonishingly low price of $9.00/MMBtu. Of course, there are all kinds of different pricing points (i.e. delivery points) for natural gas, but the main benchmark--the one traded on the NYMEX--is a spot known as Henry Hub. It's in Louisiana. Guess the recovery's going a bit faster than anticipated.

Beck   ·  January 12, 2006 4:05 PM

HAHAHAHAHA!!! Great job of dissecting this dweeb. LOL!

Harkonnendog   ·  January 12, 2006 4:31 PM

Wow, this guy's right out of the '70s: "You pathetic sheep think everything's hunky-dory now, but it's all an illusion and I alone see what a hideous freak show humanity really is...wait till we run out of oil and everyone panics and civilization crumbles and the stock market tanks and you'll all be eating your babies for breakfast the next morning 'cause our so-called civilization's nothing but a thin veneer over our dark, savage, animal nature..."

I get pissy when I'm stuck in traffic too, but geez-la-weez. Why not just stop at a pub and enjoy a pint in the violet crepuscular rush hour gloaming?

Raging Bee   ·  January 13, 2006 9:36 AM

Or, at the very least, if you have to watch the boob tube, look for a show that has boobs. Preferably better-looking boobs than Bill O'Reilly...

Raging Bee   ·  January 13, 2006 9:57 AM

He's a bitter man.

J. Case   ·  January 13, 2006 11:30 AM

Is anybody else out there getting tired of the way the Lefties keep bagging on Wal-Mart? Okay, okay, I confess...I shop there pretty often. I'm one of those supposedly-terrible, remorseless souls who is exploiting the poor, downtrodden people who work for Wal-Mart. The fact that, thanks to Wal-Mart, I can actually afford to have a decent wardrobe is evidently quite beside the point. The liberals only love us when we're paying more for essentials like clothing and food than we need to.

Oh, but that's right. They care about us soooo much...

Lori Heine   ·  January 13, 2006 10:00 PM

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