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A couple of years ago, Iraqi oil production was declining and it didn’t seem too likely the country would stabilize any time soon to allow that to change. However, the post-surge stabilization of Iraq has now allowed Iraqi oil production to start creeping up, and in 2009 the Iraqi oil ministry has announced large numbers of contracts with major oil companies to bring production up from the current 2.5mbd or so to 12 mbd over the course of the next 6-7 years. It is also announcing a series of projects to increase the physical export capacity of the country in line with these oil production projects. It seems to me that the possibility that Iraq may actually succeed in doing this should be taken seriously. If it did succeed, that would act to delay the final plateau of oil production by a decade (ballpark), make that plateau be at a higher level (95-100mbd ballpark), and significantly moderate oil prices in the meantime, with even some possibility of causing a serious breakdown of OPEC discipline and a period of significantly lower prices akin to the 1980s-1990s lull (though probably not as long or as deep a lull as that). If that were to occur, it would likely have profound consequences for alternative energy projects, biofuel companies, and automobile fuel efficiency. A period of lower oil prices will put adaptation projects on hold for the duration. –“Iraq Could Delay Peak Oil a Decade,” Stuart Staniford, The Oil Drum
2010: the year the paywall comes up;
what scientists now know about fitness;
ads on fire hydrants
ads featuring Obama
(the last via a new blog: Editor and Publisher in Exile);
free trip to Central America for diarrhea-vaccine-testers
As a culture, are we missing out on something, not having a strong oral tradition?
Oh, yes. You gain things with change and you lose things; it’s just a part of the scheme of things. But the kind of phenomenon whereby Flaubert finishes his book and he gets his friends and he reads them the whole damn book, that involves a sense of leisure and time to spend on creating the book, savoring it and so forth, that we just don’t have. And we can’t expect people to have. There’s just no room in most of our lives for that kind of slow appreciation. People eat too fast, too.
You recorded an unabridged version of The Tunnel. Do you think listening to your voice brings out aspects of the novel that remain more submerged in the print-and-ink book?
Well, I don’t know that they’re terribly submerged, but people just don’t read that way. So yeah, it should bring out a lot of things, some rhythms, some emphasis on sound patterns and so on. I tried to avoid the theatricality. I just wanted the words to do the work, but nevertheless there’s pacing and rhythm and emphasis and so on and so forth that are a part of the interpretation of the text.
William Gass in Harper’s
(most recently “Kinds of Killing: The flourishing evil of the Third Reich,” free to read);
more Vice interviews:
the books coming in 2010;
January is ShThFuUpAnWoOnYrNo;
Everybody Loves Tolstoy (see also: “The murder of Leo Tolstoy: A forensic investigation,” by Elif Batuman)
The startling conjunction of granola bar and leggings can be explained but could not be foreseen. My discovery was arresting but not baffling. (In a rush that morning, we dressed my daughter in her chair at the table, where she was eating a granola bar….) The moment was poignant for its suggestion of possibility, of ever-lurking oddness. My daughter and I had established a rote drop-off sequence but then a sharp piece of breakfast punctured our routine and our morning was illuminated, made wonderful. How many types of drop-offs might there be? How many variations and interventions? Life with young children is full of such unusual associations and combinations, both joyful and disquieting. (I once clipped a tiny sharp crescent of my daughter’s toenail directly into my eye; my daughter once called a tampon a cheese stick; my wife once unknowingly spilled some olive tapenade on our daughter’s infant head and then thought, for a horrifying instant, that the child’s brains were leaking.) It may sound paradoxical, but these peculiar moments with my daughter often feel familiar. The reason, I’ve come to suspect, is that the vivid surprises of child-rearing seem so similar to the vivid surprises of good literature. Donald Barthelme wrote that “the combinatorial agility of words, the exponential generation of meaning once they’re allowed to go to bed together, allows the writer to surprise himself, makes art possible, reveals how much of Being we haven’t yet encountered.” Is there a better one-sentence defense and explanation and manifesto of art? It is combinatorial agility—not just of words, but of sentences, paragraphs, images, objects, events, concepts, and characters—that generates, startles, and reveals. –“Toward a Theory of Surprise: How much of being we haven’t encountered yet,” Chris Bachelder, The Believer
See also Chris Bachelder in Harper’s, January 2005 (subscriber-only);
Britishman: Britain is a glum, quasi-Soviet place and Americans are charming;
Mars rovers still a roving;
the historian as time-traveling tourist;
little, stolen Picasso guitar found;
beautiful images of early newspapers (including the Moderate Intelligencer)
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”