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


      The Trouble with Geniuses: They Forget to Reach High Schoolers

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

      The trouble with geniuses is they missed some high school lessons. My father was nicknamed Honest John of Philadelphia due to his gawky, ramrod earnestness which he unleashed routinely while being (reputedly) the finest, meanest, most erudite and exacting legal mind in the city. A cult-like group admired him and his work throughout his life, but in the end my father's genius did not outshine his disruptive social gaffes which delivered gnawing disappointments to himself and others.

      By him I learned that you can be a genius intellectually and still lack crucial smarts for success, and that is knowing how to empower your allies and to see and ward off your enemies. It's called social intelligence.

      Judging from the advent of "Climategate" in which some emails of climatologists were stolen, cherry picked out of context and published on the eve of the climate talks in Copenhagen, I would say that the climate researchers and their allies have had some failures in this regard.

      Knowing your audience means conceding that not everyone cares if you're an elite, or a hard worker, or a genius, because to some, genius looks like guile and guile looks like dishonesty. (Note the reaction to the term "trick" in handling data.) A simple story and a spotless appearance of probity are crucial when your aim is to change how people get to work and consume electricity -- in a process that disturbs major industries who will lash out as your enemies.

      Therefore climate defenders need a simple, concrete, and plausibly undeniable frame of knowledge for the masses that captures the CO2 crisis, hopefully one that can be grasped with a high-school education.

      We have that frame; it is ocean acidification, described through this formula:

      Carbon dioxide plus water yields carbonic acid

      It's discernible to all who were even slightly academic in high school, including honest skeptics. And regular folks who can still hear their mothers clucking, "Don't drink too much soda, it'll rot your teeth!" understand, too, that carbonic acid damages calcium compounds like teeth -- and shells and coral and plankton. And those calcium-based marine creatures are the big story.

      Last week Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, demonstrated this acid principle when she defended climate science to a congressional committee by putting sticks of chalk into glasses of water, some of them tainted with vinegar, to show the impact of rising acid levels in our oceans as they absorb CO2. The chalk, with the same chemical make-up as shells and plankton, dissolved in the acidic water while the other chalks did not.

      The acid story is the straight shot that cuts through all the mysteries of climate science and stuns the mind with the gravity of our carbon emissions. If we don't rapidly reduce our CO2 emissions we could lose our bountiful oceans in like 40 years. It is no coincidence that Lubchenco gave this science lesson in response to "Climategate" and the partisan outcry about the stolen emails.

      The acid story should have been out in force years ago because acidification is already sickening our seas as reported in the Portland Press Herald. Noting that baby clams are already dying in their mud nests due to acidity, marine scientists of Maine are now saying acidification threatens to do more harm than global warming by attacking plankton which are the base of ocean food webs and produce half of all atmospheric oxygen.

      Drifting at surface where the CO2 mixes in, plankton's demise could lead to a "complete collapse of our biosphere" said Professor Robert Steneck. "These are not academic things, these are real," he added, as if saying this is no elite climate science.

      Straight up high school science.

      Honest skeptics, are you listening? And XcelEnergy, determined to boost your coal burn by 25 percent soon with Comanche 3, are you listening?

      Had the acid story been pushed by climate advocates when it came out in 2004, the fishing industries of the world could have become the climate's personal Teamsters Union as allies.

      With friends like the Teamsters defending a science as simple as chalk in vinegar, how far could enemies of climate science get by stealing a few emails? But the real, simple acid story has been left underplayed, so on the eve of Copenhagen the enemies of the green economy were able to score a few points playing gotcha with emails that exploited the science's all too complicated glory.

      Any nerdy seventeen year old whose journal was stolen by rivals could have told them this would happen. Like my mom said: "If you don't want your secrets shouted from the rooftops, don't put them in print."

      We should all write our emails as if they were going to be stolen and broadcast. And when lives are on the line, never rely most on a complex idea when a simple one can clinch the deal.

      Now that's social intelligence that passes the acid test.