NewEnergyNews-Butterfield Archive

WALL STREET JOURNAL'S Environmental Capital quotes NewEnergyNews:

  • 06/05/2007
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    WALL STREET JOURNAL selects NewEnergyNews as one of the "Blogs We Are Reading" --

  • 05/14/2007
  • 04/16/2007
  • 03/28/2007
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      Anne B. Butterfield of DAILY CAMERA, a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews


    • My Novels: OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades & OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction
    • Review of OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades by Mark S. Friedman
    • OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades, the second volume of Herman K. Trabish’s retelling of oil’s history in fiction, picks up where the first book in the series, OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction, left off. The new book is an engrossing, informative and entertaining tale of the Roaring 20s, World War II and the Cold War. You don’t have to know anything about the first historical fiction’s adventures set between the Civil War, when oil became a major commodity, and World War I, when it became a vital commodity, to enjoy this new chronicle of the U.S. emergence as a world superpower and a world oil power.
    • As the new book opens, Lefash, a minor character in the first book, witnesses the role Big Oil played in designing the post-Great War world at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Unjustly implicated in a murder perpetrated by Big Oil agents, LeFash takes the name Livingstone and flees to the U.S. to clear himself. Livingstone’s quest leads him through Babe Ruth’s New York City and Al Capone’s Chicago into oil boom Oklahoma. Stymied by oil and circumstance, Livingstone marries, has a son and eventually, surprisingly, resolves his grievances with the murderer and with oil.
    • In the new novel’s second episode the oil-and-auto-industry dynasty from the first book re-emerges in the charismatic person of Victoria Wade Bridger, “the woman everybody loved.” Victoria meets Saudi dynasty founder Ibn Saud, spies for the State Department in the Vichy embassy in Washington, D.C., and – for profound and moving personal reasons – accepts a mission into the heart of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Underlying all Victoria’s travels is the struggle between the allies and axis for control of the crucial oil resources that drove World War II.
    • As the Cold War begins, the novel’s third episode recounts the historic 1951 moment when Britain’s MI-6 handed off its operations in Iran to the CIA, marking the end to Britain’s dark manipulations and the beginning of the same work by the CIA. But in Trabish’s telling, the covert overthrow of Mossadeq in favor of the ill-fated Shah becomes a compelling romance and a melodramatic homage to the iconic “Casablanca” of Bogart and Bergman.
    • Monty Livingstone, veteran of an oil field youth, European WWII combat and a star-crossed post-war Berlin affair with a Russian female soldier, comes to 1951 Iran working for a U.S. oil company. He re-encounters his lost Russian love, now a Soviet agent helping prop up Mossadeq and extend Mother Russia’s Iranian oil ambitions. The reunited lovers are caught in a web of political, religious and Cold War forces until oil and power merge to restore the Shah to his future fate. The romance ends satisfyingly, America and the Soviet Union are the only forces left on the world stage and ambiguity is resolved with the answer so many of Trabish’s characters ultimately turn to: Oil.
    • Commenting on a recent National Petroleum Council report calling for government subsidies of the fossil fuels industries, a distinguished scholar said, “It appears that the whole report buys these dubious arguments that the consumer of energy is somehow stupid about energy…” Trabish’s great and important accomplishment is that you cannot read his emotionally engaging and informative tall tales and remain that stupid energy consumer. With our world rushing headlong toward Peak Oil and epic climate change, the OIL IN THEIR BLOOD series is a timely service as well as a consummate literary performance.
    • Oil history journal articles by Dr. Trabish: Oil Stories and Histories
    • Review of OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction by Mark S. Friedman
    • "...ours is a culture of energy illiterates." (Paul Roberts, THE END OF OIL)
    • OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, a superb new historical fiction by Herman K. Trabish, addresses our energy illiteracy by putting the development of our addiction into a story about real people, giving readers a chance to think about how our addiction happened. Trabish's style is fine, straightforward storytelling and he tells his stories through his characters.
    • The book is the answer an oil family's matriarch gives to an interviewer who asks her to pass judgment on the industry. Like history itself, it is easier to tell stories about the oil industry than to judge it. She and Trabish let readers come to their own conclusions.
    • She begins by telling the story of her parents in post-Civil War western Pennsylvania, when oil became big business. This part of the story is like a John Ford western and its characters are classic American melodramatic heroes, heroines and villains.
    • In Part II, the matriarch tells the tragic story of the second generation and reveals how she came to be part of the tales. We see oil become an international commodity, traded on Wall Street and sought from London to Baku to Mesopotamia to Borneo. A baseball subplot compares the growth of the oil business to the growth of baseball, a fascinating reflection of our current president's personal career.
    • There is an unforgettable image near the center of the story: International oil entrepreneurs talk on a Baku street. This is Trabish at his best, portraying good men doing bad and bad men doing good, all laying plans for wealth and power in the muddy, oily alley of a tiny ancient town in the middle of everywhere. Because Part I was about triumphant American heroes, the tragedy here is entirely unexpected, despite Trabish's repeated allusions to other stories (Casey At The Bat, Hamlet) that do not end well.
    • In the final section, World War I looms. Baseball takes a back seat to early auto racing and oil-fueled modernity explodes. Love struggles with lust. A cavalry troop collides with an army truck. Here, Trabish has more than tragedy in mind. His lonely, confused young protagonist moves through the horrible destruction of the Romanian oilfields only to suffer worse and worse horrors, until--unexpectedly--he finds something, something a reviewer cannot reveal. Finally, the question of oil must be settled, so the oil industry comes back into the story in a way that is beyond good and bad, beyond melodrama and tragedy.
    • Along the way, Trabish gives readers a greater awareness of oil and how we became addicted to it. Awareness, Paul Roberts said in THE END OF OIL, "...may be the first tentative step toward building a more sustainable energy economy. Or it may simply mean that when our energy system does begin to fail, and we begin to lose everything that energy once supplied, we won't be so surprised."
    • Oil history journal articles by Dr. Trabish: Oil Stories and Histories
    • My Photo
      Location: Agua Dulce, CA

      *Doctor with my hands *Author of the "OIL IN THEIR BLOOD" series with my head *Student of New Energy with my heart






      Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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    • NewEnergyNews


      High Flyers and the Commons

      Anne B. Butterfield, February 11, 2009 (NewEnergyNews)

      Within days of the State of California sending out IUO checks in place of tax refunds, Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets. She already had six children under age six (one of whom is autistic), and all the 14 were conceived artificially. She is single and lives with her mother who recently declared bankruptcy and promises to vacate the scene when Nadya and the new ones come home.

      Nadya’s “big gamble” as she calls it is rationalized strictly on her unresolved needs of her childhood. Oh, please. She will take help from church and friends, she admits, but can they agree to everything that’s in store? She says she will seek no welfare, which is very unlikely. Meanwhile, how do her fellow policyholders feel about her hospital bill of perhaps $3 million?

      She is a freakshow, transfixing in her narcissism and acquisitiveness; an example of all of us in our wish to defy the laws of nature and fly high on fantasy or drugs (or IVF in this case), and then rationalize the costs to be felt by everyone.

      She’s as all-American as the Masters of the Universe who blew out our banking system on their brew of risk-defying tricks: subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, securitized debt, all compounded by stratospheric executive compensation. Their scheme failed as surely as the wings of Phaeton, and when they came crashing down they asked for a bailout leading to even more bonuses. Freaks.

      Nadya and the bankers are the most extreme ones that drive the “tragedy of the commons” in which exuberant actors pursue their self-interest past the point where the commons -- be it a pasture, the air, the river, or the banks -- can respond resiliently and profitably.

      In the famous 1968 essay “Tragedy of the Commons” author Garrett Hardin, an ecologist and microbiologist, explored the various flows of impacts that happen when geometric rates of growth propel one species to dominate a commons. Short version: it spells doom, unless, for humans, economic and legal arrangements impose costs onto users and abusers.

      Appealing to peoples’ conscience to trim their impacts on the commons is pointless according to Hardin; to do so just emboldens the high flyers to use the freed-up access. Conscience has a role in leading people to conserve energy in our tainted climate commons, (no one wants to burn coal or oil per se), but the use of conscience is a sucker’s game when applied to the mortgage lenders who were instructed to peddle subprime mortgages so their companies could stay competitive bundling them into securities.

      No Chairman Greenspan, the market does not just self-correct, it also implodes.

      Ethics didn’t entice Nadya Suleman. She thinks she’s pro life -- even though many of her children will be impaired by their birth drama and inevitable neglect. Other costs or regulations will need to be imposed for us to be sure there won’t be similar broods bound for a bailout.

      To protect the commons, Hardin recommends mutual coercion, such as regulation, impact taxes, or the elimination of commons generally.

      “Who enjoys taxes?” Hardin quips, “But we recognize that voluntary taxes would favor the conscienceless, so we support taxes and other coercive devices to escape the horror of the commons.”

      Hardin’s work is enjoying a resurgence as a frame of a new economics which accounts for the laws of nature, known variously as "dynamic equilibrium," "steady-state" or "biophysical" economics. One leader in this new field is Boulder’s own Hunter Lovins, who teaches Ecological Economics. And it’s about time.

      In cahoots with our rate of consumption, population growth worldwide is bringing commodities brokers and investment advisors to describe food and fuel scarcities as a function of planetary limit. Last year we paled at the news of a dead zone the size of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico where the Mississippi confers its chemically riddled waters from the corn fields of our heartland, which are growing not so much to feed people but cattle, on which we get heart disease, and to replace the oil we buy from overseas, for which we have militarized operations to protect from terrorists and even other buyers. You get the idea.

      We’re being buffeted by coercions and it’s coming from the commons, instead of from our purposeful design. It’s time for attaching costs to those things that infect the vitality of our common life. Either that, or let’s hope for a plague.