Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Trough Oil

The oil industry hasn’t even started to go seriously deep and dirty yet. Beneath the Canadian tar sands alone there are 500 billion barrels of bitumen carbonates. It’s way past time for peakers to abandon all hope that hydrocarbon reserves are simply going to peter out from their own finitude.

ADDED: Energy innovation round-up.

April 14, 2015admin 64 Comments »

NZ Scraps

Fragments from the West Coast, plus some bits and pieces.

Currently in a gothic inspiration — the Otira Hotel — just beyond Arthur’s Pass. Bought for one million dollars, along with the whole village of forty houses. It’s on the rail-line, but remained on the market for years because:
1) It’s a Gold Rush ghost town with no economic base
2) It’s deep in a valley that plunges it into permanent shadow for half the year
3) There’s a massive quake due (on the fault-line it straddles) which is expected to destroy everything
The new owners have stuffed the hotel bar with Gold Rush antiques, taxidermy specimens, the first telegraph cable, freaky life-size marionettes … it should be getting dark for the full effect (but it isn’t yet) …

On an Internet ration tonight (Dec. 27.), but I’m going to try to keep this alive — meaning updates undramatized by an ‘ADDED’. Also pics (but some slight time lag likely there).

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December 25, 2014admin 6 Comments »

Sentences (#2)

From a fascinating dining companion, rather than a literary source. The Gothic potential is self-evident.

“There are many ways to stress a rat — but the easiest way is to inject it with stress hormones.”

Bonus data-burst from the same expert: According to all the rigorous cognitive tests neuroscientists are currently able to apply, crows are as intelligent as chimpanzees. (Yes, it seems preposterous, which is what makes it worth mentioning. No, I haven’t done any back-up online research yet.)

December 19, 2014admin 20 Comments »


‘To Beat ISIS, the Arab World Must Promote Political and Religious Reforms’, Rule Jebreal tells us. Picking on a writer for a headline is a mistake — who knows where it came from in the editorial process? — and, besides, this one employs (the exhortative) ‘must’ in its sole appropriate usage — as the completion of a hypothetical imperative. “If you want X, you must do Y” — that’s OK. (Y is a necessary condition for the accomplishment of X.) ‘Must’ is tolerable if it’s kept on a leash.

Once it slips the collar, ‘must’ reverts to its status as the most preposterous word in the English language, an instrument of sheer obfuscation. Watch it go:

The United States must review its policies across the Middle East. … It must take a stand against Riyadh’s promotion of exclusionary Wahhabism. […] … Likewise, pressure must be placed on Egypt to abandon its witch hunt of the Muslim Brotherhood. In undertaking an effective counter terrorism strategy, the United States must partner with the Arab states to undertake political reforms that ultimately lead to underwriting a social contract in which every group of the population are represented and protected. […] … If the United States and Iraqi government want to defeat ISIS, they must now ensure the inclusion and protection of Iraqi Sunnis, Kurds and Yazidis, along with the majority Shi’ites [this one is minimally OK]. […] … Eventually, a process of reconciliation must be initiated between Shi’ites and Sunnis. This centuries-old dispute is played out today in a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has produced a monster that threatens the national security of not only Middle Eastern nations, but also the United States. It must come to an end. […] … The Obama Administration must pursue a policy of severe sanctions against any and all countries that finance jihadist — even if they are our own allies. … What will ultimately turn the tide in the Middle East are groups that actively advocate for a democratic culture and its values around the Arab world. A campaign to promote these ideas on every level must begin, as part of the counterterrorism initiative launched by Kerry. [Emphases added.]

Must they, really? Will they? Can they?

It’s irritating to see moral fanaticism — betrayed by its distinctive combination of groundless certainty and communicative fervor — masquerading as realistic analysis. The disguise is only necessary because the prescription so exorbitantly exceeds the diagnosis, tripping eagerly into glassy-eyed deontological intellectual abandonment.

“The Middle East must stop being the Middle East, and America must help to make this happen.” It can’t, and it won’t, on both counts. The musty smell is simply annoying.

September 16, 2014admin 13 Comments »
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Scrap note (#14)

… Shenzhen fragments (from the world’s tech-comm paradise).

Sucking up to the specter of Sino-Capitalism:


Ironically, my connectivity here is so bad it’s driving me out of my mind, so this is arriving in pieces …

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September 13, 2014admin 12 Comments »

Noah Sark

Unless you’re the kind of sick freak who likes to watch innocent ducks being LITERALLY raped and tortured on the Internet, do NOT click on this link. I have been assured that legal action is underway to try and prevent this kind of evil happening again. Some day, surely, this nightmare will end.


September 4, 2014admin 1 Comment »
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Chaos Patch (#11)

Time for one of these, I’m told

(Launch topic — Entryism.)

ADDED: Anyone applying for retro-entryist special ops from our side has first to pass one simple test. Re-phrase the following statement briefly in your own words, without sacrificing any of its intellectual rigor:

Once you’ve completed the exercise, you’re ready for this. ADDED: … but this was supposed to be about Project Idaho. So a little prodding — Continue Reading

April 23, 2014admin 97 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Admin , Stuff

Scrap note (#10)

Back in Shanghai from Dunhuang today. It’s not an easy journey (taxi, overnight sleeper train, taxi, flight, taxi) so multi-dimensional disconnection and raggedness.


Lanzhou, the major gateway city to the West, didn’t win me over. It’s congested, and — upon superficial contact — almost wholly charmless. Given its extraordinary history and contemporary frontier-hub function, that’s a great disappointment. (Despite the grunge, a modest downtown apartment there still costs US$200,000.)

The taxi-ride from the train station to the airport is unusually long because the broken country made it hard to situate runways conveniently. The route we took on the way back took us past the rapidly-arising New Lanzhou City — which is huge. There’s some prospect of a few glitzy modern buildings, if the promotional posters are to be believed. Serried ranks of comparatively tasteful proletarian residential highrises make up the bulk of the New  City so far.


The Chinese West is weirdly comparable to the American West, but historically fragmented. It plays a similar role in the local movie industry, as an imaginative space of heroism, violence, and civilizational fragility. It’s vast, arid, and geographically sublime — recalling the (to me) stunning fact that China’s proportion of arable land is only fractionally larger than Australia’s. Arid mountains, deserts, and harsh scrubby plains stretch endlessly. Dangerous tribes with an exotic nobility populate the Western frontier myths. Foreigners tend to understand — perhaps even overestimate — the American fascination with the frontier, but China’s is nowhere near as thoroughly appreciated. (A fake ‘ancient Dunhuang’ has been created near the real one, catering to the huge appetite of the Chinese movie industry for historical ‘Westerns’.)

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April 14, 2014admin 7 Comments »

Quote notes (#70)

AoS speaks for me on this:

There are two types of people: Those who only sometimes procrastinate those who are so inclined to it that it creates havoc in their lives. Lately, I tend to be the latter of the two. […] My procrastination has been so bad today that I actually researched “procrastination” in order to procrastinate a bit longer. Then, I tweeted about my procrastination in order to drag it out even further. Then, others joined in, and it was clear that I am far from the only one. […] Well, the fine folks at The Next Web blog have posted a very timely article on the science of procrastination …

Procrastination is a time-based phenomenon, so I’m sure there’s a gripping philosophical angle, if only it were possible to extract some cognitive resources from the labyrinth of digression. Seriously, there’s a major procrastination post coming … some time later (i.e. as soon as practically possible, which always means at the last, sleep-starved minute).

The essence of procrastination (at least for me): this is far too urgent to deal with right now.

April 1, 2014admin 10 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Admin , Stuff

Scrap note #7

A ‘scrap note’ is what you end up with after dropping  below the level of articulacy required for a raw quote (or T-shirt slogan). It’s a format dragged out of Cambodia for informal meanderings.

This one is here because I’m in the sand-pit, playing the German Army of the Great War. First hurl everything at the French (communist Accelerationism) and try to take them out of the game within a few months, then wheel around for a plunge into Russia, dismantling the Czarists (with a hurricane of Neocameralism). Sequenced two-front war. It’s a strategy that’s already driven me into narcoleptic disintegration, but I’m committed.

Out here in the Dark East, waiting for news about the titanic Western clashes, it’s a time to patch things together with meager resources. That’s economy, which is always worth exploring. The specific topic of micro-cognition has been nagging at me with unusual ferocity ever since crossing over into Twitter. It seems like something close to a compulsory adaptation, as the near future chews human psychology into hot techno-splinters. If we don’t accept miniaturization as an urgent and intimate problem, we’ll eventually collide ruinously with nano-hostiles we can’t even perceive.  (So, as always, I think any traditionalism without a ‘neo-‘ is already laid out on the sacrificial slab.)

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March 5, 2014admin 12 Comments »