Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Cold Winter

If a minor tropical storm can raise the price to record highs, imagine what a real disaster would do, a serious terrorist attack on refineries, for example, or who knows what.

CNN Money
Oil surged to a record high above $61 a barrel Wednesday as a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico fanned worries about refiners' ability to bolster fuel supplies ahead of next winter....

The energy crisis is going to get nasty I think more quickly than we can imagine. When things begin to break down the rate of break down always seems to accelerate. The most memorable examples that occurred in my lifetime were the collapses of Vietnam and of the Soviet Union.

Record oil prices may increase to $80 a barrel this year, options contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange show. Investors are speculating OPEC won't produce enough oil to compensate for any disruption to supplies.

From Bloomberg via Atrios

$100 a barrel anyone?

Birds of a feather

Once they get elected to the ruling class, most Democrats in Congress are more comfortable with their Republican colleagues than they are with their constituents, excluding, of course, rich contributors.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Kos

...Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is trying to get voters to hold the Republican Party responsible for the "culture of corruption" he sees in Washington, but Dean is getting virtually no help from fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives....

...House Democrats are victims of "a kind of mindset that too often creeps in in Washington —to get along, go along," Bell said in a telephone interview from his law office in Houston. "There's not a more adversarial act you can take in the House than an ethics complaint, and some people just don't have the stomach for it."...

So, which is it? Are the Democrats more worried about being exposed as thieves themselves? Are they more concerned about protecting their Republican buddies from too much scrutiny?

Probably both and a desire for stability. Since our congressional Democrats are in such a comfortable spot the last thing they want to do is rock the boat. Things are good, they say to each other, let's leave them that way and go play golf.

Leaving the coop

From the NYT

An outbreak of bird flu among migratory waterfowl in China suggests the disease -- which could trigger a dangerous flu among people -- may be poised to spread to India, Australia, New Zealand and eventually Europe, scientists warn.

If the migrating birds carry the H5N1 flu virus beyond its current stronghold in southeast Asia, it could devastate poultry farms and raise the risk of a deadly flu pandemic in people, experts said....

...If a bird flu virus infects a person who also carries a human flu virus, the result could be a hybrid bug that passes easily from person to person. ''That's the spark that sets off the forest fire of a global pandemic, and that's what everyone is worried about,'' said flu expert Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University....

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Lucky strike

Brother-in-law died Thursday afternoon. He was 51 and the cause was lung cancer. He shared custody of his 16 year old daughter. His 80 year old mother lived with him.

The plant where he worked for 26 years closed a while ago (three of my wife’s five brothers lost long held jobs through plant closings) and he finally found a job as a laborer at a defense contractor installation near here. He collapsed at work in March, refused to go home and finished the day. On the weekend he went to the ER (he did not have a regular doctor) and X-rays revealed the cancers. He opted for treatment, deteriorated over the next months but was lucid to the final hours, until great pain led to large amounts of morphine.

He may have noticed symptoms early enough to be more effectively treated, but he repressed the awareness. As time passed he likely thought he had waited too long and did not want to face the consequences. Maybe he secretly hoped that if he didn’t look at the problem it would go away. Whisky helped him avoid the issue. He smoked to the end.