Sunday Open Thread – September 23, 2007

US Gas Prices
Chart by Stuart at Random Useless Info.
For the previous 30 years, 1950-1979, price was steady at about $0.30 – 0.40/gallon before spiking near the end of the 1970s.

What I’m thinking about, and planning on writing (and podcasting) about soon:

Figments of Reality: What we think of as ‘us’, headquartered in our minds, is merely a complicity, a figment of reality. In reality our minds are the battleground between our bodies’ organs, which invented and co-evolved our minds as their problem detection system, and our society, which seeks to co-opt our minds to (as ee cummings put it) “make us everybody else” as part of a collective army to fight that society’s imagined enemies. There is no ‘us’. Yet what ‘we’ can do is referee the battle, take sides. I am coming to believe that our bodies’ organs co-evolved our minds for a purpose other than their immediate selfish self-protection. The second purpose of our minds, I think, is self-restraint. Why? Because self-restraint of creatures with exceptional capacity to influence their ecosystem is essential to the health of that ecosystem, and hence to the interest of all creatures within it. Most creatures do not need self-restraint because, at their worst, they can do little to perturb the balance of life. But larger, fiercer, smarter creatures can wreak havoc, so their minds (in the collective interest of all-life-on-Earth) should inevitably have evolved self-restraint as a critical characteristic and determinant of decision-making. Most mammals clearly exhibit this self-restraint (they ‘voluntarily’ reduce their numbers to keep them in balance with the rest of their ecosystem). I believe we did too, until, as an unexpected consequence of our sophisticated brains, we invented civilization, and its artifacts, including the suppression of our ‘natural’ self-restraint. “To be nobody else” is indeed, as cummings said, “the hardest battle”, and it requires that we rediscover our instinctive self-restraint, become truly natural creatures again, each one of us, alone, and free ourselves from the slavery and propaganda that our society, with the best of intentions, has imposed on us.

Why Are Gas Prices So Low?: Since May, crude oil prices have jumped from $60/bbl to $83/bbl. In the past, when crude oil prices have risen, gasoline prices at the pump have risen faster. But, as the chart above shows, the recent run-up of oil prices has been accompanied by a drop in gasoline prices. Why is that? As the regression chart below shows, gasoline should now be selling at close to $6/gallon. But it’s selling at about half that level. How can oil companies suddenly afford to sell gasoline that is costing them 40% more at a lower price? (BTW Canadian prices have been tracking US prices; price today is $.97/litre or $3.67/gallon with the Canadian and US dollars at par; in May it was, currency-adjusted, $1.12/litre or $4.25/gallon)

US Gas Price vs Oil Price

Vignettes: Coming up soon, vignette #6.

Blog-Hosted Conversations: Delayed one more week. So starting this week, this blog will feature 30-minute conversations, initially on the subject of “What is your model of a better way to live, and what capacities do we need to develop or re-learn to live that way?”

Possible Open Thread Question:

If gasoline prices suddenly doubled, by what percentage would you, realistically, reduce your consumption?

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2 Responses to Sunday Open Thread – September 23, 2007

  1. PeterC says:

    I think all I could do is a 10% reduction in gas for now. We already bundle our trips together so we make many stops when we do go to town. Don’t idle to warm up the car, turn the car off at train tracks etc. I have gained about 50km per tank of gas by slowing down to the speed limit. I guess that is what I get for choosing to live out of town. Personally, I think the gas prices are level because the gas companies don’t want to trigger demand for more fuel efficient cars. Especially since many different hybrids, diesel and electic cars are now available. The gas companies understand that the only thing that will drive people away from gad en mass is high prices.

  2. lugon says:

    Hi Dave, again an off-topic: you may want to look into this:

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