Pump Perception

August 17, 2011


(Illustration found here).

Yesterday, I put another $20 worth of gas in my Jeep, this time at $3.99 a gallon, which is a dime drop since the last time a couple of weeks ago.
Oil prices, after making a drastic dump early last week, are apparently working back upwards again.
From liveoilprices this morning: In London, Brent crude oil futures for October 2011 delivery was trading at $109.69 a barrel, 07.45 GMT this morning on the ICE Futures Exchange. The September Brent contract expired yesterday.
And WTI likewise: US Light crude oil futures for September 2011 delivery was trading at $87.34 a barrel, 07.25 GMT this morning in electronic trading on the NYMEX.
Just more than a week ago, Brent crude was down to $105 a barrel and WTI had descended to $81 a barrel at the same time.

In this most interesting age we currently live, one of the most important aspects of actual living is being aware of what’s happening around us, and understand the perilous legs upon which mankind now stalks its future.
One of my personal fears is delusion, especially self delusion — not being fully conscious of events nowadays can be dangerous.
My children sometimes tell me I’m too pessimistic, that there’s always a silver lining to a dark-ass cloud.
Wrong, not this time, kids.

There’s no historical precedent for the now.
Never in human events has such a perfect set of perfect storms come together to form a breaking point — peak oil, climate change, an international financial operation feeding off itself, a US political system so broken its near un-workable.
In this conflagration, one must have situation awareness on a grand scale, which in reality involves being aware of what is happening around you to understand how information, events, and your own actions will impact your goals and objectives, both now and in the near future.
If you’re not, then expect shit to lap up to your eyeballs.

There’s a good post at The Big Picture on awareness vs forecasting and a rundown on the most-excellent/dumb-ass pundits the last decade of so — never the twain of truth shall meet.
A couple of snips:

Situational awareness (see e.g., this and this), on the other hand, is all about knowing “what you need to know not to be surprised,” and having “the ability to maintain a constant, clear mental picture of relevant information and the tactical situation…”
It’s making sense of the world around us in real-time, whereas forecasting is an attempt to extrapolate those current events to figure out some future outcome.
In the real world, the latter (situational awareness) is an easier task than the former (forecasting). It’s hard to imagine a decent forecaster not having good situational awareness; those folks with bad situational awareness make for awful forecasters.

And a for instance:
Tim Geithner, our current Treasury Secretary blubbering in May 2007:

“Financial innovation has improved the capacity to measure and manage risk.
Risk is spread more broadly across countries and institutions.”

And a guy with some forecasting sense, Paul Krugman, in December 2007:

“But the [financial] innovations of recent years — the alphabet soup of C.D.O.’s and S.I.V.’s, R.M.B.S. and A.B.C.P. — were sold on false pretenses.
They were promoted as ways to spread risk, making investment safer.
What they did instead — aside from making their creators a lot of money, which they didn’t have to repay when it all went bust — was to spread confusion, luring investors into taking on more risk than they realized.”

Guess the right-on guy.
Read the whole post — you’ll go WTF, these assholes were in charge?

One can see from the past that predictions can be awful.
Another for instance is Michael Pupin, who blubbered out in 1931:

This civilization is the greatest material achievement of applied science during this memorable period. Its power for creating wealth was never equaled in human history.
But it lacks the wisdom of distributing equitably the wealth which it creates.
One can safely prophesy that during the next eighty years this civilization will correct this deficiency by creating an industrial democracy which will guarantee to the worker an equitable share in the work produced by his work.

Right.
The income level in the US currently way-sucks: “Income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression.”
One percent owns 40 percent — that right?

And now if only Michele Bachmann can understand the difference between Elvis dying and Elvis being born, we’ll be A-Okay.