Talking and Walking

August 23, 2012

Once again, early morning here on California’s northern coast and another quiet beginning to the day — not much sunshine lately, except for some rays spattering across the landscape in the middle of the afternoons.
My first gape at the news seems to find the same — not much light amongst the overcast.

Beyond Prince Harry acting the fool in Las Vegas (while GOPer Kevin Yoder did the same in Israel — no pix there, though), most of the world continues to upchuck the same war, assholeness and bullshit from yesterday morning.

One item conspicuous by its absence is fuel prices — not much import in the news as pump numbers are down, though, still cracking records: Pump prices are at a record high for this time of year in the U.S. after refinery breakdowns tightened supply.
An unlocked car waiting to be stolen.

(Illustration found here).

From Bloomberg News:

The $3.72-a-gallon average price of regular gasoline at U.S. retail stations is the highest for this day, and prices will likely continue breaking daily records for at least several more weeks, AAA said.
Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, has averaged about $3.72 for the past four days, according to data from the nation’s largest motoring organization.
It’s the first time since April 23 that a national average in 2012 was the highest ever for the day, Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA in Washington, said in an e-mail.

Up here in north California, we’re still way-higher than anywhere in the lower 48.
On Tuesday, I put another $20 worth of gas in the old Jeep at $4.39 a gallon for regular — the price jumped dramatically within hours of the fire earlier this month at the Chevron refinery near San Francisco, but the numbers have remained the same since then.
Statewide, the average for regular unleaded gasoline is up to $4.10 — a 40-cent increase from July, AAA reported. Still, as staggering as that may seem, experts pointed out that the increase is 37 cents less than the average a year ago.
Oil prices have climbed, while supplies have gone down.
Also from Bloomberg:

Oil for October delivery rose 42 cents to $97.26 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since May 7.
Prices have rallied 25 percent from this year’s settlement low of $77.69 on June 28.
Brent crude for October settlement increased 27 cents to end the session at $114.91 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

All this fuel bullshit must have a political edge, huh?
Prices at the pump, however, are no longer the ‘sticker shock’ knock-down for voters.
A new poll released this week indicates there’s other concerns for Americans — from Reuters:

Fuel and gas prices ranked last among 10 factors that influence voters in evaluating Obama’s job performance and the country’s direction, the poll found.
Healthcare, the economy and jobs top the list, with gas prices also lagging behind foreign policy, immigration and education.
“Gas prices, relative to the rest of this stuff, are much less important,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said.
“People talk a lot about how gas prices drive attitudes, but it doesn’t seem to have a lot of impact either on Obama’s job approval or how people see the country going,” he said.
“People seem to see gas prices as a separate issue the government doesn’t have as much control over.”

He said the poll also found little change in views about gas prices since July 1 as prices have risen, but if they climb above $4 a gallon that could shift.
“The $4 a gallon barrier is definitely a much more significant psychological barrier,” he said. “If that is breached, it could become more significant.”

The old gas gauge barrier — change the attitude every time.

And the influx of all this, reportedly a record 33 million US peoples will be hitting the highways hard for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, gas or no gas.
The near future, from some indications, will see the end of the infamous single car/truck/van/bus that has jammed the world’s highways and parking lots.
Hot-rodding may be a thing of the past.
From Time magazine late last month (h/t The Oil Drum):

Just how bad are things in motoring Europe?
On Wednesday Peugeot reported it lost over $993 million in the first half of 2012 alone.
The same day, American maker Ford announced second quarter net income of just over $1 billion world-wide — but a $404 million loss in Europe, where the company now expects total losses to exceed $1 billion by year’s end. Meanwhile, General Motors Europe affiliate Opel-Vauxhall has lost a whopping $14 billion since the start of the century, and is almost certainly facing the same sort of layoffs and plant closures Peugeot has announced.
And partners Chrysler and Fiat are also facing grim employment and production decisions to survive the sector’s tightening crisis.

Cars are bound for shit.

Young US people are elsewhere without wheels — from The Atlantic:

First, Gen Y is strapped for cash.
Thanks to the recession and slow recovery, it’s been slammed with high rates of joblessness.
Even college graduates, who have better prospects than most, are still collectively underemployed and staggering around beneath the weight of unprecedented student debt.
In the scheme of a young person’s budget, a $12,000 Kia and a $2,000 Macbook Pro both count as major life purchase. Given the centrality of the web to everybody’s personal and professional lives, the computer (or heck, even a phone) may be the higher priority.
Second, young Americans aren’t simply turning their back on buying cars.
They’re also turning their backs on driving.
The percentage of teens and twenty-somethings with licenses has dropped dramatically over the past thirty years, which may be the sign that Gen Y’s indifference towards autos is a cultural shift as much as an economic one.
Of course, we don’t know precisely why the young are driving less.
Urbanites may embracing mass transit, biking, and car sharing services like Zipcar.
Other young people may be gravitating towards walkable suburbs, where cars are often optional.
But it’s not far fetched to think that the ability to connect with friends and family, shop, and entertain ourselves online has contributed to the trend.

Only if us older assholes had done this many, many years ago, climate change wouldn’t be the horror it most-certainly has become.
Park the car and talk about it.

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