Evangelicals fighting to allow death by stupidity

It's hard being an evangelical. Every time I read the news and see what my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are doing, it makes me weep.

The latest issue? The fact that Evangelicals are now fighting to allow a Christian teenager the chance to die by parental stupidity.

The individual in question is Starchild Abraham Cherrix, a 16-year old kid from Virginia. Yes, you read that right, his first name is Starchild. That in itself should indicate a problem. Personally I think it would have been better to name him Adolf or Elvis... but these are not people who can be reasoned with.

Starchild Abe has Hodgkin's Lymphoma. After being diagnosed in 2005, he was put onto a regime of chemotherapy. According to the Wikipedia article, Hodgkin's has an 85% cure rate if treated in this way.

But after his first round of treatment, Starchild Abe and his parents decided that they would ditch the chemo. Instead, they would go for alternative treatment - the discredited Hoxsey Therapy that is only available in Mexico.

Hoxsey Therapy is about as useless and as superstitous as you can get in the modern world of alternative medicine. The reason why it is not approved as an alternative therapy in the USA is because no extensive medical testing has shown it to be effective. Indeed, many tests have proved that it has absolutely no effect whatsoever upon cancer sufferers. The American Cancer Society has publically repudiated the treatment:

After study of the literature and other available information, the American Cancer Society has found no evidence that the Hoxsey Method results in objective benefit in the treatment of cancer in human beings. Lacking such evidence, the American Cancer Society strongly urges individuals with cancer not to seek treatment with the Hoxsey Method.

Nevertheless, a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico offers the Hoxsey therapy to rich and stupid Americans who wish to spend money in the last few years of life believing that drinking a mixture of "licorice, red clover, burdock root, Stillingia root, barberry, Cascara, prickly ash bark, buckthorn bark, and potassium iodide" and having a paste of "antimony, zinc and bloodroot, arsenic, sulfur, and talc" covered over their skin (quotes from Wikipedia).

Now I may be wrong at this point, but one of the rights that patients have in America is the choice to refuse treament. Doctors cannot force treatment onto unwilling patients, who can opt to refuse treatment and instead die horrible deaths from preventable diseases if they so desire.

But Starchild Abe is a different case altogether. Being 16 years old he does not yet have the legal right to refuse treatment. Starchild Abe's parents, who obviously don't trust modern medicine, decided for their child to stop having Chemo and to start the Hoxsey therapy. They obviously told their doctor. Wrong move.

After the first round of treatment, their doctor prescibed another round of chemo. He did so probably because he believed that chemotherapy was the best chance that Starchild Abe had to live. When presented with the parents arguing that they would prefer to smear arsenic paste on his skin and get him to munch on cactus, he decided that enough was enough. He approached a social worker with the case, who was then able to get a court order to prevent Starchild Abe from crossing the Virginia border - the idea being that they were being prevented to cross into Mexico. The court also ordered that Starchild Abe undergo a second round of Chemotherapy.

In a case like this, the state has essentially determined that the parents of Starchild Abe were being grossly negligent in refusing their child medical care. If Starchild Abe was not a minor, his choice to eat cactus and smear aresenic on himself in the mistaken hope that it would cure his cancer would not be acted upon by the court. Since he is still only 16, and because the doctor obviously thought the parents were unreasonable and negligent, the court acted.

The result? Evangelical leaders are falling over themselves in fighting for the right to allow death by stupidity.

Al Mohler has even weighed in on this issue. Comparing the situation with "totalitarian regimes like China and the former Soviet Union", Mohler sees this issue as being one in which the rights of parents to choose the right medical treatment are being eroded by the evil of state interference.

Mind you, this is from a guy who thinks that drinking alcohol is sinful and that torture under strictly defined guidelines is good intelligence practice.

Mohler and others are angry at the idea that the state could interfere with the rights of parents in the way they bring up their children, and that this is an ominous sign of things to come. In other words, communism and Democrats and bogeymen.

Yet, if Starchild Abe's parents decided that the best solution to his condition was to hit him over the head with a specially blessed hammer until the demons of cancer were belted out of the kid, what would Mohler and the others think? Would they defend the right of parents to choose a treatment that would kill him?

And that's the real issue here. There is a reason God gave us brains, and over the years medical researchers have been able to verify through extensive testing that the Hoxsey therapy is a load of hooey. It's snake oil. Putting garlic around Starchild Abe's neck would be a better therapy. By forgetting basic facts and instead running with their political ideology, evangelical leaders who are supporting Starchild Abe's cactus diet are essentially supporting the right to allow a person to die by stupidity.

Of course, there are many contradictions here amongst evangelicals. On the one hand, they don't want the state to interfere with a parent's right to kill their son through stupidity, but they are more than willing to use the apparatus of the state to stop abortion on the basis that it results in the death of human life.

When we look at the bible - especially the Old Testament - we see that society needs to be ordered, and that laws are put into place to prevent people from gross sin. Parents are given responsibility over their children - but society also has a responsibility to ensure that parents don't abuse this situation.

In this case, with chemotherapy offering an 85% success rate, the choice of Starchild Abe's parents to cover him with arsenic paste and have him eat cactus is clearly and unambigiously WRONG. It's high time that courts of law put a stop to deadbeat parents abusing their kids, and this is one of those times.

But by taking the parent's side, Mohler and other evangelicals are arguing for death. Is the right of parents to ultimately determine their child's treatment more important than preventing the unnecessary and painful death of a teenager?

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Fide-o is no longer "Truly Reformed"

There are three Christian bloggers I have had issues with over the past year - Tim Challies, Frank Turk and the boys at Fide-o.

Although I have been annoyed by the shortfalls of Internet Monk Michael Spencer and the gang at the Borg's Head, I sort of began to side with them when they were being pilliored by people like Turk and Fide-o. For various reasons, I decided that I would no longer visit Challies or Frank Turk, but I kept on with Fide-o.

Fide-o are "Truly Reformed" (a Borg's head perjorative) because they were aligned closely with John MacArthur's brand of theology - American Baptist, Calvinist and Dispensationalist (ABCD for short).

I don't know why I kept visiting Fide-o but I did. I had a bad attitude towards them and occasionally vented steam at them in comments theads.

But now they are one of my "Bloggers I respect", why?

Simple - Jason Robertson, one of the Fide-o crew, has jettisoned Dispensationalism and embraced Covenant Theology.

It's a big move. Jason wrote an article in 2005 arguing for a pre-trib eschatological viewpoint, and has now changed completely.

I should've realised a month or two back when I read about Jason's rejection of abstinence that things were up - if he was a Macarthur fanboy he would've parroted Macarthur's anti-alcohol stance. He didn't. Now he has embraced Covenant Theology (with an obvious Baptist disclaimer) and rejected a theological system that had a major influence on his Christian faith and teaching.

Why? Because he discovered that Covenant Theology is scriptural, while Dispensationalism is not.

In the past, when I felt annoyed at them, I would taunt the Fide-o guys by thanking them for defending the six solas - an obviously narky response that accused them of majoring on the minors and not even living up to the stated aim of their blog's name.

Jason, like me, believes in Sola Scriptura - that the bible is sufficient. I'm fairly certain that it was Jason who coined the phrase "In the 20th century, the battle was over the Bible's inerrancy. In the 21st century, the battle will be over the Bible's sufficiency." It's an adage that I think will be borne out as the evangelical church continues to fragment and mutate in the coming years.

And, by adhering to the sufficiency of scripture, Jason Robertson has been changed. It's obviously a radical change (and one which probably goes too far since he says he believes in Postmillenialism, but I'm waiting for a detailed explanation of what he means by it).

Does this mean that Jason and the others at Fide-o are no longer "Truly Reformed"? I don't think Michael Spencer and the Borg's head guys are suddenly going to kiss and make up - although the Frank Turk / Michael Spencer joint article a while back indicates that anything could happen.

As for me, I don't regret letting the Fide-o guys know what I think. I believe they probably went too far in being too doctrine-anal and that my "six solas" taunts were justified. Nevertheless I now realise what a blessing Fide-o has become, and reminds me yet again that God often surprises us when he works.


Hello Kubuntu

The greatest Slashdot poll ever

The topic is over your favourite pirate.

The current situation is:

Dread Pirate Roberts (Princess Bride): 20,746 votes
Captain Sparrow (Pirates of Carribbean): 20,303 votes

Westley vs Johnny. A good fight methinks.

Where's my daddy?

MTV - part of the dark forces that run this world etc etc etc - has just had some sort of viewer poll about controversial music videos.

Madonna comes in at #1, #4 and #5. Britney Spears makes it in at #2.

What is annoying, and obviously typical, is that Come to Daddy by Aphex Twin did not make it into the top ten. Annoying because it is one of the most disturbing and creative music videos to ever be made, and typical because MTV is reasonably conservative in it controversialness.

What is important to note is that Madonna, having seen the Come to Daddy music video, then immediately commissioned its director, Chris Cunningham, to produce her 1998 "Frozen" music video.

Another thing to add to my list of adages

When it comes to listening to the news media, there are two stupid things a person can do:

1. Assume that everything that the media says is correct.
2. Assume that everything that the media says is wrong.

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Griffith Bound

I can now reveal to you all some of the events that have been bothering me and the family for a while - I have accepted a job offer to teach at Griffith High School. This is only a temporary position that will last until the end of the year, but there is a decent chance that I may be able to find some more permanent work at the same school over the long term.

I will begin teaching on July 31st - day 1 at the High School. The family will remain behind in Newcastle for most of third term and then will move in with me during the holidays between terms 3 and 4 (October 1-15).

The reason for Anna and the kids to stay behind is pragmatic - Anna has a two-day per week position at Centrelink where she works as a Social Worker. For her to leave her job straight away and for all of us to travel to Griffith without the promise of full-time employment (or even accomodation) is too risky. But it also means that we'll be apart for a long period, which sucks.

I've contacted a church in Griffith that looked good and discovered that I was at Bible College with the pastor's wife back in the early nineties. She then informed me that a married couple, graduates of the college, have been attending the church for a few years, which means that three people I went to Bible College with are at the church.

All this is huge. I have given both the pastor and my future head teacher at the High School this blogsite address so they can see pictures of me and read my FAQ to find out more about me. Hello to both of you.

There's a number of friends I haven't spoken to directly about this yet so sorry but things have been a bit hectic.

There are other major issues that still bother us - but these shall be revealed presently. In the meantime thanks for your prayers.


Various Cricket news

Jason Gillespie is finally taking wickets for Yorkshire.

After his recent scores of 161 not out and 63 not out against Pakistan A, Shane Watson's first class batting average is now over 50, making him a contender for the Australian middle order. His bowling, however, is not as developing as well.

Big scores have been seen all around county grounds in England, the most impressive being 309 not out by South African Test discard Hylton Ackerman.

Jim Troughton, the grandson of Patrick Troughton (Dr. Who), is not scoring enough runs for Warwickshire at present.

Ian Sailsbury, the forgotten English legspinner, is taking lots of wickets for Surrey this season.

22 year-old Victorian captain Cameron White is captaining Somerset this season, and is averaging nearly 50 with the bat. Unfortunately his bowling average is 76. FAC (Future Australian Captain) has probably been written on his locker.

Standout Aussies in England at the moment:

Michael DiVenuto (Derbyshire), 636 runs at 45.42
Andy Bichel (Essex), 12 wickets at 20.25
Mark Cosgrove (Glamorgan), 750 runs at 62.50
Ian Harvey (Gloucestershire), 479 runs at 68.42, 13 wickets at 23.76
Shane Warne (Hampshire), 30 wickets at 19.03
Brad Hodge (Lancashire), 505 runs at 101.00
Stuart Law (Lancashire), 520 runs at 57.77
Matthew Nicholson (Northamptonshire), 305 runs at 30.50, 22 wickets at 27.36
Craig White (Somerset), 747 runs at 53.35
Murray Goodwin (Sussex), 912 runs at 60.80
Phil Jaques (Worcestershire), 921 runs at 102.33
Matthew Mason (Worcestershire), 13 wickets at 23.92
Darren Lehmann (Yorkshire), 898 runs at 69.07
Jason Gillespie (Yorkshire), 23 wickets at 33.65

Peak Oil Conversation

I've been having an email conversation with a Christian guy about the subject of Peak Oil. I responded to many of his questions in a fairly detailed way and, as a result, I have decided (with his permission and the editing of certain things) to post much of the dialogue here since I think it would be helpful to some people (click "Read more")

Hello Pete,

Some practical questions if i might. Do you think it would be wise to stop putting extra funds into super and redirect them instead to mortgage payments?? What do you think will probably happen to superfunds. (Mine "matures" in a few years - if I take early retirment.) Would investing in land be wise - perhaps from a practical and financial point of view??(At least it provides a fallback position if food does become scare. Market gardens could help feed the church and supplement communty food stocks) Is there any point in investing in anything??

I feel very unsure about specific questions like this but I will attempt to answer them the best way I can.

All funds, as far as I know, have some level of "balance" in them between things like shares, property, bonds, cash and overseas investments. The economic damage wrought by Peak Oil will naturally affect people's investments, but there is one thing we can probably count on and that is the increase of interest rates.

As the price of oil increases so will the inflationary effect. As you probably know, it is the responsibility of the Reserve Bank to control inflation, and it does this via interest rates. If the bank sees inflationary pressures increasing (and it will as the peak closes in and passes by) then they will increase interest rates in order to solve inflation.

The financial organisations that control your super have a responsibility to look after your funds properly, and there are mechanisms in place to ensure that money is taken out of poorly performing investments and re-invested into better performing ones.

This is important for all of us because it means that when interest rates rise, it becomes more attractive for investors to put money into the government bond market. Simultaneously, the dampening effect that higher interest rates have upon the economy will result in poorer performing investments in property and shares.

What I'm saying is that your super fund should react to the rising of interest rates by putting more money into government bonds, thus preserving the funds that are entrusted to its control. The returns may not be stellar, but they will be relatively safe. Riskier investments will lose out more, though, since the balance of the investments will be in shares and property and overseas shares.

***Don't sell your house.*** Although the property market will suffer as well (probably doubly so considering the property bubble that has developed over the last 5-6 years), it is actually those purchasing houses for investment that will suffer the most. People who live in the houses that they have mortgages on will naturally suffer a loss of equity, but these homeowners are much better off keeping their house to live in. In the meantime they should pay off their mortgage ASAP, because interest rates will increase as the peak gets closer.

In response to Peak Oil, a friend has changed his mortgage and is seriously trying to pay off as quick as he can. He often laments about buying his house but I'm always quick to remind him that ordinary homeowners are not all going to go bankrupt because they have mortgages.

Another thing to avoid would be borrowing against equity. Again, this sort of thing will become increasingly rare as interest rates rise.

It's hard to say whether you should invest in "land" because after the peak some land will be less valuable and some will be more. Property in areas far from the urban centre and reliant almost exclusively upon cars for transport will become less valuable since it will become more expensive for people in these areas to travel to and from work. Conversely, properties around public transport, such as train stations and major bus routes, will probably increase in value since transport will become cheaper for these people.

The increase in transport costs will affect global trade. It will become increasingly more cost efficient to produce goods closer to where the customers live. Thus it is also likely that industrial production in Australia will increase to provide Australians with basic goods, while sourcing these from places like Asia will become less viable. This doesn't mean that global trade will stop, or that Australians will no longer buy things from China or Japan, but it does mean that there will be a readjustment that will favour Australian industry.

The most obvious place for buying shares would be in mining companies, especially those who specialise in oil, coal and natural gas. As energy prices skyrocket, these companies will make large profits, and shareholders will make a killing.

I know you think ecovillages are overkill(though personally they have always appealed to me and I think the simple,sustainable and communal aspects are in fact a more God honouring way of living) but at the least ,wouldnt it be wise to "ecofarm" your back yard ,put in a water tank and perhaps some solar panels etc to help counteract the massive energy and food price rises??

None of these suggestions would hurt but you probably need to work out the opportunity cost of time spent cultivating your own backyard garden compared with what you could do doing other things. As food prices increase so will the response of the market - farmers will start to grow more food and employ more people to do it. Only if vegetables are exceptionally expensive would it be wise to set up your own backyard garden - and by that time there are probably people dying of starvation.

I'm not saying don't do it (that is, set up a backyard garden), but just remember that it may not be necessary.

Solar power is probably a good idea. As energy costs rise so will our electicity bills, making solar power more economically viable.

Which jobs do you think will be safest? Do you think christian and non elite private schools will close? What skills would be wise to learn ?eg Permaculture?? I was planning to spend a year or two upgrading my Tesol qualifications but Im wondering if there is any point??

All these are interesting questions. The friend I mentioned who is concerned about Peak Oil has decided that he will pull his son out of his Christian school at the end of this year and instead send him to the local primary school so that they can free up more funds to pay off their mortgage. Privatised and independent education has increased markedly in the last 10-15 years and, as people's disposable income is eroded through higher interest rates and/or unemployment, many may well choose to send their kids to public schools. I think this is a real possibility and I can foresee many independent schools closing as a result. However, there will still be rich people and they will always have enough money to send their kids to private schools, so the chances are that many of these parents will "downgrade" to a private school of lesser stature.

There is no doubt that our highly specialised economy, whereby the market rewards those with specialist qualifications, will begin to tilt towards those with multiple skills the further along the peak we go. In order to save money, people will begin to do things themselves and this will reward people who are competent in multiple skills.

I don't think that the peak will bring about a complete destruction of western society and its economy - there will still be a great need for specialist training, but the situation will tilt against them (ie they won't be as financially better off).

I have no idea about Permaculture and whether it would be a good thing to get into or not. I'm not convinced that we're going to have to set up backyard farms unless there is a major catastrophe. Even 100 years ago the best way to farm was for large scale agribusiness selling its wares in the marketplace.

I can't speak for you about your TESOL qualification. I will point out, however, that NESB Australians will always be better off financially and socially if they have a good grasp of the English language. As the peak approaches and passes, and as the economy goes into its tailspin, I think there probably will be a serious demand for TESOL.

My son is living and teaching English overseas. Is it possible he might get stranded there?(When airlines collapse/become too expensive for the middle class)Perhaps it would it be wise to suggest to him to come home at the first big sign/s of trouble?What might those signs be?

From the tone of your question I would assume that maybe you think that the peak will be accompanied by some massive economic and social collapse. My feeling is that it won't. The world is NOT going to suddenly run out of oil. If you haven't understood it so far, try to understand the science behind Peak Oil - the situation will not be a sudden loss of oil, but a long term and gradual decline. This means that the pain will be felt over a longer period.

There is no doubt that many airlines will go under. The cost of ferrying people around the world will become so expensive that many people will stop flying, thus depriving the airline industry of revenue. But with each collapse of an airline, the supply of air travel will reduce, thus making the surviving airlines better off. I don't know how many airlines will go under but it won't be all of them - in fact I think it may be less than half (and many will amalgamate in order to survive).

All I'm saying is that the chances of someone being stranded somewhere because of some sudden airlines collapse is actually very, very rare. Even if air travel becomes prohibitive, travel by ship will become more viable. We may even return to the pre-ww2 days of ship transport rather than airlines.

As I said about your TESOL work, a common language is important for world trade and I think that English teaching will become quite important amongst non-English speakers.

As far as the first sign of trouble - it's been going on since 2004. It's the price of oil. Every few months we hear some "expert" saying that the price rise is only temporary and will be back around $20 in no time. But that hasn't happened. While the oil price fluctuates according to certain crises (eg: Hurricanes detroying oil infrastructre in the Gulf of Mexico; threats of violence from Iran; Israel invading Lebanon; Gunmen attacking oil rigs off the coast of Nigeria... etc), there are also price hikes due to the basic issue of supply and demand.

What I'm saying is that the oil price has gone up and down all the time for the past few decades in response to various world events. In the last two years, however, the price has been steadily going up, which means that there is something else influencing oil. In my opinion it is due to the fact that demand is increasingly outstripping supply.

What we will see in the next few decades is stubbornly high oil prices and interest rates set at levels that cause recessions and hinder recoveries. During a recession, oil prices will actually come down but they will not come down far enough. We won't see a return to the inflation that we experienced in the 1970s because Central Banks the world over (including the US Federal Reserve and our own reserve bank) know how to fight inflation - by raising interest rates. In place of inflation, however, we will have unemployment.

Not a good situation is it? I'm fairly certain that the world will survive this, however. It won't survive unscathed, but my honest opinion is that we will not be returning to medieval fuedalism.

From the Peaknik Department

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Some Oil research for you

There are some implications of this research that I did tonight. But I'll leave it to later.

I will point out that these statistics clearly show that consumption is always greater than production - although I don't know how this is scientifically possible. Nevertheless, I am assuming that this is merely a statistical characteristic common in this field of study.

What is important in this research is the "%Cons" column. What this column reveals is the "shortfall" between consumption and supply, shown as a percentage of consumption. For the 1970 figures, 45.89 mbd was produced and 46.81 mbd consumed, leaving a shortfall of 0.92mbd, or -1.97% of consumption.

The really frightening thing about this research is the increasing percentage of consumption that is falling short. As time goes on, the difference goes beyond 10% and in recent times has gone as high as 14%. This means that there is an ever-increasing gap between oil produced and oil consumed.

In layman's terms, it means that consumption is increasing faster than production.

(note: someone else may have done this research before me and may be available elsewhere)


Prod = World Oil Production, Millions of Barrels per day (source EIA)
Cons = World Oil Consumption, MBD (Source EIA)
Diff = Difference between production and consumption
%Cons = Difference as Percent of Consumption





% cons






















































































































































































73.76a. c.

84.67b. d.



a. Jan-Mar figures
b. Jan-Feb figures. My own estimation based on OECD figures being approx. 59% of world consumption
c. 2004 - 2006 Production Data can be found here - pdf file 14.2kb
d. 2004 - 2006 Consumption Data can be found here - pdf file 16.4kb

Update 17 July 2006:
A comments thread at Sydney Peak Oil has been discussing this article, specifically addressing the shortfall between production and consumption. I think it is important to make a comment here about the issue.

It has been put forward that the reason why such a disparity exists is because the two sources that I have used are actually measuring different things. The production figures refer to "crude oil" production while the consumption figures refer to "petroleum" consumption. Specifically, the issue of Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs) and the fact that they are not included in the EIA Production figures.

I am willing to agree that the disparity may be due to this particular issue. However it needs to be pointed out that the production figures do include "condensate", which is the raw liquid that NGLs are produced from. I suspect that the reason why NGLs are not included in the production list is because it would involve double counting - the condensate would be included, which is then refined and turned into NGLs.

What this means is that NGLs are included in the production figures via the inclusion of condensate. The real questions is whether the consumption figures include condensate only, or also include the NGLs that are derived from the condensate. The latter case would be a possibility considering that the consumption figures are labeled as "Petroleum" rather than as "Crude Oil".

But this then begs the question of whether the statistical analysis itself is misleading since it would be counting things twice. To include NGLs in the consumption figures and not in the production figures would mean that the consumption figures are being counted twice. I doubt that this is going on, mainly because the market benchmark for measuring NGLs such as Butane, Propane and Ethane is in Gallons, while the benchmark used in the EIA consumption figures is Barrels. It would be very strange to a) count something twice, and then b) to refer to the whole (crude oil, condensate and NGLs) in terms only applicable to crude oil.

So while I have offered a reason why one explanation is probably incorrect, I have yet to offer my own explanation of why a disparity exists between production and consumption.

I think it has to do with the way in which the market measures both production and consumption.

Production would be measured in how many barrels of oil have been pumped into tankers, while consumption may be measured in terms of financial transactions. In other words, consumption is actually measured first (in terms of contracts specifying how much oil is to be delivered) and then production follows.

Which means. of course, that in a given year, say the year 1999, 75.83 mbd was agreed upon, and 65.85mbd actually produced.

The important thing to realise is that the contracts may be agreed upon in one year, and then delivered the year after. A contract may be agreed upon in December 1999, and then delivered in Feburary 2000. In terms of the statistics, the consumption contract would appear in the consumption figures for 1999, but the production figures would appear in 2000.

If this is true (and remember I am only offering this as a possible explanation), then the increasing disparity between production and consumption that is noted in my figures can probably be explained by the inability of the oil producers to fulfil their contracts since oil production is not meeting demand. In this case, the contracts may be signed in September, but not delivered until February - a longer lag in delivery time that is caused by slower production.

I am prepared to be proven wrong in this - mainly because I am offering a theory and not anything based on rock solid proof. It would be great if the EIS or Peak Oil bigwigs could offer an explanation. I'm sure that ASPO has been aware of this disparity for some time.

Further Update 17 July 2006:
The Wikipedia article on Petroleum indicates that Crude Oil and Petroleum are synonymous terms - they can be used interchangably. This doesn't offer any reason why the EIA chose to use both names in the production and consumption reports, unless it is the industry's way of talking about the product still in the ground (Crude Oil) and the product that is shipped and consumed (Petroleum).

From the Peaknik Department

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We're the good guys apparently

This is from a recent article in Salon:

In a hearing before Shays' Government Reform subcommittee last February, Provance testified that the Army had retaliated against him. Provance also made the disturbing allegation that interrogators broke an Iraqi general, Hamid Zabar, by imprisoning and abusing his frail 16-year-old son. Waxman was shocked. "Do you think this practice was repeated with other children?" he asked Provance. "I don't see why it would not have been, sir," Provance replied.

Zabar's son had been apprehended with his father and held at Abu Ghraib, though the boy hadn't done anything wrong. "He was useless," Provance said about the boy in a phone interview with Salon from Heidelberg, Germany, where he is still in the Army. "He was of no intelligence value."

But, Provance said, interrogators grew frustrated when the boy's father, Zabar, wouldn't talk, despite a 14-hour interrogation. So they stripped Zabar's son naked and doused him with mud and water. They put him in the open back of a truck and drove around in the frigid January night air until the boy began to freeze. Zabar was then made to look at his suffering son.

"During the interrogation, they could not get him to talk," Provance recalled. "They said, 'OK, we are going to let you see your son.' They allow him to see his son in this shivering, freezing, naked state," Provance said. "That just totally broke his heart and that is when he said, 'I'll tell you what you want to know.'"

Provance said the boy was timid and afraid. "He was so skinny and so frail, and he was scared out of his mind," Provance remembered. "He was so skinny the handcuffs would not fit securely on his wrist. I had to put this green sandbag on his head. I just felt like a horrible person doing this."

Provance was not an interrogator; at that time, he worked on a security detail at Abu Ghraib. He said he did not see firsthand the boy being abused in the truck, although an interrogator working on the general's case later explained the abuse to Provance in detail.

Provance's account does not appear to be an isolated allegation. It echoes similar accusations at Abu Ghraib and across Iraq. In an interview with military investigators conducted after he was imprisoned, Graner called kidnapping, in addition to detainee abuse, "the other big Geneva Convention violation" going on at the prison. "They were picking up, you know, Joe Snuffy's wife to get Joe Snuffy," Graner explained to military investigators. "So, more or less, we're holding this female with no charges, which happened a lot."

Graner did not say in the interview who was doing the kidnapping. There were a broad range of forces operating at Abu Ghraib, including military Special Operations troops and CIA operatives.

Similar allegations have shown that kidnapping may have been a systematic practice. Special Operations troops, working with an elite unit called Task Force 6-26, allegedly abducted the 28-year-old wife of a suspected Iraqi terrorist during a raid on a house in Tarmiya, Iraq, in May 2004, the month after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. That is according to a memorandum buried in thousands of pages of documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act. The memorandum, a formal complaint titled "Report of Violations of the Geneva Conventions," was filed in June 2004 by a 14-year veteran intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Department of Defense blacked out the officer's name.

Breezy Badger

Slowly getting Kubuntu to work. I have to backup all my files first before diving in for the final time.



The Teak (Master of the Universe) has some great North Korean propaganda pics at his site.

The last one is especially frightening.


And not a hurricane in sight.


Evangelicals and Torture

Seems like Al Mohler isn't the only evangelical leader who thinks that torture is not inconsistent with the revealed will of God.


Moving to Kubuntu

I've decided to make a leap of faith and ditch Mandriva 2006. I'm going to install a Kubuntu distro instead.

It's pronounced koo-boon-too apparently.

New Poll

A prize of $100 Billion will be awarded to the first person to give the popular names of the last six antidepressants.

The page can now fully load

I removed the statscounter thing - it was making my page not load properly... as well as CraigS's page.

Washington DC moving into anarchy

John Aravosis, a rather popular lefty blogger, has just written a piece outlining the extent to which crime is developing in Washington, DC.

Although the piece is naturally subjective (and therefore may not necessarily represent what is actually going on), the arguments he uses are quite compelling, namely that people living in well-to-do areas are now being targeted. A veteran New York Times reporter was killed in the past twelve months, and just recently a young British politician was murdered and his girlfriend raped in the suburb of Georgetown, which, in Sydney parlance, is like being raped and murdered by a gang roaming the streets in Turramurra.

To me, this is one of those self-fulfilling prophecies that come about because of the inaction of those on the right wing of the political spectrum. Desperate to cut back on expenses and ideologically committed to small government, education and law enforcement budgets are substantially pared back, thus allowing the emergence of an unchecked gang culture that cannot be addressed by the local police and which confirms to the right wing, yet again, that people just can't trust the police and that it's better to keep paring back their budgets and instead rely upon arming yourself with your own weapons since the police, and therefore the government, have been proven to be ill-equipped to do the job.

Meanwhile, on the so called riot-torn streets of Paris, people are walking home in relative safety.


Prayer Needed

My family has some pretty major decisions that need to be made over the next few weeks and months, and there are some nasty barbs being thrown at us by the enemy at the moment too. We're going to be stressed and there are going to be some permanent changes that result as well. Please pray that God gives us wisdom and guidance and resilience to get through this period.

1. I will let you all know at some point, but at the moment things need to be kept private.
2. It does not involve marriage difficulties, but relationships will be strained through this period.
3. It does not involve illness.

That's all I'm giving out. God knows the rest.

Confirmation Bias - a new way to ignore facts

"Confirmation Bias" is now the term of choice amongst the ignorant.

Basically, Confirmation Bias is the ability of people committed to an ideology to confirm their beliefs by looking at research that confirms their opinion.

An example of this would be global warning. Those who are convinced about global warming being the result of human activity would look at studies and see those studies confirming their beliefs. Those who are not convinced look at other studies that seem to confirm their own beliefs. Thus both sides are guilty of confirmation bias.

The problem with this is that it essentially allows ignorant people to get away with believing any old rubbish. Logically, if two people believe in totally contradictory beliefs and there is only a chance that one of these beliefs is true, then both parties cannot be guilty of confirmation bias. Indeed, one party is right and has the facts to prove it, while the other party is wrong and it looking at the wrong facts (or even outright falsehoods).

So, in regards to global warming and whether it is a man made condition or not - the reason why I have come down on one side of the equation is because a) I have thought about it for many years and explored many different avenues that affect global warming, and b) I respect mainstream scientific opinion on the issue.

Those who haven't looked through all the facts carefully and who don't think that mainstream scientific opinion on a scientific subject is believeable will come up with the alternative theory.


My Computer problems explained

I've been receiving hundreds of emails from readers asking me why I haven't been blogging much lately. Well... actually I haven't had ANY emails, but I'm sure some of you are wondering.

Well... maybe one or two of you.

As some of you know I run Linux, specifically Mandriva 2006. I ditched Microsoft back in 2003 and I'm quite happy with my move into the scary world of independent computing.

I still had Windows 98 running as a secondary o/s when I wanted to play some games (like Virtual Cricket and Red Alert), so I had two Hard drives on my pc. A 40gb running Linux and a 10gb running Windows.

I need to point out, too, that I built my computer using 2nd hand parts. I learned to do this through trial and error and, although it is frustrating making all the normal mistakes, it's made me know modern technology a little bit better, and saved me money as well. Rather than spending a few thousand dollars every few years to buy the latest cheap desktop, I spend a few hundred dollars every year doing gradual upgrades.

But I occasionally get lazy... and about 6 months ago I bought a new minitower case, a new 450W power supply and a second-hand motherboard with a Pentium III 667 CPU. They sat in various places in my study gathering dust while I continued to use my P3-600E.

So, a few weeks ago I started fooling around with the Mandriva program that sets up the Computer's peripherals. I realised that the monitor had been set up to be a generic 17" monitor rather than being an AOC brand monitor. Although AOC drivers were packaged with the Mandriva software, the specific one for my monitor (7F) was not present. I can't remember exactly what I did, but basically I ended up telling Linux that my monitor was something else.

I then re-started the computer and the whole linux set-up display appeared as usual. Then it suddenly found an error in the monitor and the next thing I know I am sitting at the Linux command prompt. This is something that even Trinity from "The Matrix Reloaded" can actually use but I'm fairly ignorant.

So, no graphical user interface for me to go in to (yes I did reboot [shutdown -r now] and try again but the same thing occurred). What to do?

Well, I had a spare 40gb HDD sitting around somewhere. Why not rebuild my PC and reinstall Windows 98 and Mandriva 2006?

So off I went. Out comes the dusty minitower case and the screwdriver. And when I say dust I mean dust. Not only was there dust inside the PC I was using, but there was also dust inside the stuff I wasn't using.

I discovered a number of things along the way - or maybe "rediscovered", I don't know. But after screwing in the motherboard to the minitower case I sort of began to wonder if it was healthy to have the rear side of the motherboard in direct contact with the metal of the case. I then checked my previous case and found that, what do you know, I was supposed to put in metal stud-screw thingies to keep a gap between the motherboard and the case. So out comes the motherboard and in goes the stud-screw thingies.

I then jam in all the boards - an ethernet card, a video card and an IEEE card - and then the three 128mb RAM sticks. I then screw in the CD and DVD drives, the (very very dusty) Floppy and three hard drives (2x40mb, 1 x10mb). Cables get plugged in. And then comes the difficult part:

Working out where the various internal connectors go.

You see, on the motherboard is a section of raised pins, and the case has a set of connectors. These connectors have things like "Reset", "HDD LED", "Power" and so on. On the motherboard itself is a small diagram which shows which connector goes where - except that in this case it didn't work for some reason. I had plugged all the connectors in but the diagram on the m/b was confusing and didn't match all the pins available.

So what was the problem? Was it the way the connectors had been put in or was it something else, like the power supply or maybe even a faulty motherboard (I had bought on it on ebay and hadn't checked to see if it worked yet.)

I decided that the most likely candidate was the power supply. So I checked the back. "Max 230v" says the back of the power supply. The cord says 250v. Oh dear. Could that be the problem? I'm no electrician, but I was fairly certain that it shouldn't be. Maybe the power supply was stuffed too?

So then I removed the power supply and put in a power supply from Tom's old computer (Tom is a friend and gave me his old pc after he bought a new one). I connected it all up... and no result. "Hang on", thinks me, "maybe Tom's PC had a problem with the power supply?". So I remove Tom's old power supply and put in the power supply from my previous PC. All in and connected... no result.

This process took about an hour and a half - in which I basically concluded that the power supply was fine and it was something else that caused the problem. Hands filthy and brain annoyed, I began to problem solve again.

So I went back to the connector pins. I began to experiment by putting the power switch connector into different pins. After a while of doing this, the computer suddenly turned on when I hit the power switch. I'd done it!

I then checked the pins with the diagram provided on the motherboard itself. It didn't seem to fit. According to the diagram I had put the connector into the section marked "HDD LED" which didn;t make sense. Why would the computer turn on if I had put the connector into the wrong pins? Realising that I had more pressing needs, I began to set up the PC in earnest.

I'd heard over the Linux grapevine that if you wanted a dual boot windows 98/Linux pc then the trick was to install Windows first and then Linux - if you installed Windows second then Bill's beast chews up the Linux files that have already been installed.

So off I went. It's July 2006 and there I was installing Windows 98, with all the advertised promises of something called "The Internet" that went alongside the standard Microsoft installation procedures. Installation successful - except that the hard drive that I had used was Tom's old one and it still had all his software still available on it. Never mind, I'll deal with that later.

So then I install Mandriva 2006. A simple procedure except that once it had been installed it kept taking me to the command prompt rather than the GUI. I realised I probably needed to erase the HDD and start all over again.

But how to do it? How do you erase a complete hard drive? I tried using the windows 98 Floppy and tried to do an FDISK but it kept comign back to me and saying "You don't need to format it because it's formatted already." Thanks Bill. So while in DOS I go into C/: and type FDISK and it says "can't do it because FDISK is on the C drive and so you can't erase the program you're using to erase the disk you fool".

So I fiddle around with the BIOS and insert a Knoppix Live-Linux CD. I boot up and I have Linux available on a CD that runs everything. I try to format, or at least erase the hard drive, but for that I need the Root password for Knoppix.

At this point everything goes into the too-hard basket. With Knoppix I can still access the internet and get emails so I go back into lay-zee-mode and start playing around with Knoppix.

Then, about 4 days ago, I decide to check out the CMOS settings. I then discover that a section of the CMOS on this motherboard is dedicating to overclocking. With the promise of a faster computer just a few keystrokes away, I begin to play with the FSB settings, increasing it from 133mhz to 143mhz. I reboot, and find that my P3-667 is now a P3-715.

Ah the joys of uninformed overclocking! I then discover that I can increase the FSB up to 200mhz if I want to, with the chance of having an even faster CPU. Not wanting to blow my CPU up, I increased it to 160mhz and rebooted.


Oh. Everything turned on, but the screen remained blank. It was as though I had managed to stuff up my situation even further. I even assumed that I could enter the CMOS commands blindly to reinstall the original bios settings but to no avail.

So I set my poor sore brain into gear again to problem solve. I assumed that the problem with its failure to boot had everything to do with my stupid attempt at overclocking - and since the changes had been made in the bios, then the only way to change them back to normal again was manually - ie by doing "something" to the motherboard. But what?

There's connector pins everywhere all over the motherboard - all of them can be covered with a Jumper Block. But what to do?

Again, it was trial and error. Put some jumper blocks on, switch on. Take some off, switch on. No luck whatsoever.

If you've ever looked at a Motherboard, you'll notice that it is a confusing mess of electronic components, lines, strange letters and so on. Some motherboards have information for their users actually printed on it and, just like the connector pin problem above, the motherboard had some information for me. A little diagram in the middle of the board showed that if "SW1" was set at "open" and "SW2" was set at "open" then the FSB would re-set to 133mhz.

Of course, for someone like me who is illiterate in these matters, it meant little. Exactly where were SW1 and SW2? I saw some surface-mount stuff nearby that had "SW1SW2" written on it but there was nothing resembling pins for a jumper block to go.

I need to point out here that I was making a huge leap of faith - that there was, in fact, a solution to the problem that could easily be done if I could just put a jumper block on the right set of pins.

I decided that maybe one way to re-set the bios would be to remove the lithium battery - if you look at your motherboard you'll probably notice the lithium battery - about the size and thickness of a coin - sticking up somewhere. I tried hard to remove it but couldn't because the ethernet card was too close. I had been dreading removing the cards but decided to do it in this case, so out went the Ethernet card and then out went the battery.

As I stood there looking at the battery I looked back down to the area where the ethernet card and the battery once were. In that area I suddenly noticed a jumper block sitting there on a set of pins I had not seen before. Excited, I put the battery back in and then removed the jumper block.

With trepidation, I turned the computer back on - except that it didn't even turn on this time. Although the problem wasn't solved I had somehow managed to prevent the PC from even turning on - which to me was a bonus. Not knowing what to do, I then put the jumper block back on, and then powered on again.

Power up, screen on, booting. Back to Knoppix.

I'd done it! It was that one stupid set of pins hidden by the ethernet card that was responsible for re-setting the bios. As I sat there I then noticed another drawing on the motherboard - a drawing of where the connector pins go to from the case... a DIFFERENT one to the one I had been consulting. It was then I discovered that the power connector was actually in the right place.

So, which motherboard is it that makes it difficult to re-set the bios and provides badly placed diagrams for people to be misled by? None other than the MS-6309. After getting the internet up and running again I found some quite unfavourable reviews of the board - the most scathing being the way in which the board's design made it difficult for tinkerers to re-set the bios.

Now that this is all out of the way what should be the most stupid thing for me to do? How about bidding on ebay for a Tualatin 1266mhz CPU? Yeah... I'm a glutton for punishment. According to the official site the motherboard can't support it, but other sites reckon I can....