JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 192 : 26 September 2005
Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
Click on any item to jump directly to that item
Economy great - even with high oil prices
Some 25 years ago, or more (when you could fill up your tank for
about $10) I used to ask people this question: What changes would
you make to your lifestyle if gasoline prices increased to $3
a gallon? How about $4, or even $5? Everyone had an answer -
I'd bike to work; I'd sell my car and get a scooter. There were
a hundred answers like that. And few confessed that they really
wouldn't change their driving habits at all.
When oil hit about $70 per barrel, the stock market dipped. But
then stocks recovered when oil dipped to $66, apparently ignoring
the previous dips when oil had reached a peak at $60. In the US
gasoline is now about $3 per gallon. Prices in Europe, Singapore,
India, Hong Kong, are about twice what Americans pay, or more,
and still the traffic jams are worse than ever.
Years ago, I saw taxicabs in India switching their engines off
when stopped at traffic lights; and then they'd start up and dash
off again, presumably having saved a few drops of gas, uh petrol.
Do the Math: At 20 miles-per-gallon (yes world, the US is still
perhaps the only major country that measures in miles and gallons,
instead of kilometers and liters) doing an average of 12,000 miles
a year, you use about 600 gallons. At $2 a gallon, that's $ 1,200.
AT $3, that's another $600 a year, or $50 a month. At twice the
price, how much would you really cut back? Of course, that depends
on your income. That extra price means a lot more for the taxi
driver in India, than for an American, or European.
Although rising gas prices continue to have some effect, the US
economy keeps pushing forward, with industrial output rising and
housing construction supercharged. My good friend, Bud Keyes,
Senior VP at Emerson [Bud.Keyes@EmersonProcess.com] is a
knowledgeable and far-sighted strategic thinker. He thinks that
this scenario should be entitled "A midsummer's nights tale".
Bud sent me this email:
As I write this, oil is at 62$ per bbl and I'm loving it!
As you read this you'll note that I view the whole energy
spectrum as a continuum. You may disagree. But as we deal
with our new reality, I think that you'll understand
why I've done that.
Economist - The great thrift shift
This may be the greatest gift this country has been given
in your lifetimes. It forces rational behavior in several
areas that would otherwise languish. Alternative fuels which
are not economic with oil at $30 per bbl. suddenly become
- Tar sands oil reserves (greater than oil reserves in
- Coal gasification and methane to diesel, gasoline and
light gas conversion
- Use of trapped ocean-bottom methane (450 plus feet down);
huge deposits in the gulf of México
- Rocky Mountain oil shale reserves with more potential than
all of the worlds current oil supply
- Yes, we will even put up more wind powered generators
- Solar energy technology wil grow
Soon serious developments will emerge of ultrahigh efficiency
cars, trucks, motors, drives, refrigerators, freezers, washers,
dryers, air conditioners, lighting etc. Annual prizes, on par
with the Nobel Prizes, will be awarded for the most creative
and efficient designs.
- Energy and water recycling will become de rigueur in industry,
public buildings and even homes
- Even less business travel will occur; full virtual presence
video conferences will become standard
- Home based businesses and telecommuting will flourish
- Internet sales will skyrocket. They'll even start delivering
your groceries again; it's more efficient.
The efficiency of the US economy will get a 50% boost as we are
forced to eliminate waste and lost motion. We'll become more
productive, faster in everything we do, more efficient and more
responsive to a world driven by the same demands as we are.
Lets keep this a secret from the Saudi's, they might do something
drastic to slow the inevitable. You'll know that OPEC has recognized
the problem if oil production suddenly goers up and oil drops
below $55 per bbl. But it will probably be too late.
OPEC, thank you very much for expensive oil. Thank you China and
all the fast-growing countries of the world for your additional oil
consumption. Bring on that $70+ per bbl crude, and enjoy it!
The $$ will start going into our pockets, instead of going to the
Business Week - Oil's Rise Isn't the Economy's Fall
SmartMoney - The Great Oil Mystery
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Accelerating Change Conference 2005
The Accelerating Change 2005 conference was held at Stanford
University, giving it a kind of academic flavor, but nevertheless
a significant event for me. There were some 350 attendees, all
futures orientated, discussing all aspects of changes that are
occurring around us - not only technology, but global, national,
business, social and personal.
Organized by John Smart and his Acceleration Studies Foundation,
the conference themes were Artificial Intelligence (AI) and
Intelligence Amplification (IA). At AC2005, change leaders discussed
these twin trends in a stimulating, multidisciplinary environment.
Already we see signs that we're living in a future that not long
ago would have looked like science fiction. Much as we get used
to high-speed travel, so we've become accustomed to the rapid pace
of technological change. But this change isn't just fast, it is
Ray Kurzweil was there as keynote speaker. His new book:
"The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology" published
on Sept. 26, 2005 - but AC2005 attendees got free autographed copies
of the tome (some 650 pages). It's already # 25 on the Amazon.com
There was a lot of Singularity discussion - "a future period during
which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact
so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed". Vernor
Vinge (well-known mathematician & computer scientist who lives
in San Diego) was there, discussing the possibilities of a
"soft singularity" - changes that will take place over a few weeks
or months (not years) - and the "hard singularity" - a sudden event,
taking place over just a few hours.
There were a LOT of other significant topics, and several new books
which I'm now devouring, which I'll discuss in JimPintop.com eNews
over the next several weeks. Stay tuned.
Review Accelerating Change 2005 website - sign up for newsletter
Hey, Maybe the Singularity Really Is Near
Kurzweil's book, The Singularity is Near
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Antique Governance plagues cash-fat ISA
My recent article "ISA at the crossroads" was published in the August
issue of Automation World and received good feedback. There was lots
of discussion on my "6-point plan" to build on ISA's unique position
in industrial automation and make it a strong, global organization.
Based on many discussions with many volunteers who have been involved
with ISA governance over the years, my new article, just published
in Automation.com (September 2005), provides more details and
background on ISA governance and barriers to growth. It also presents
a revised, tweaked version of my "6-point plan".
I'm happy to note that Dick Morley will be visiting ISA HQ in RTP,
North Carolina in early October (next week), to meet with the ISA
staff. Dick will then meet with several members of the ISA executive
committee during the ISA Expo in Chicago, a couple of weeks later.
Antique Governance Plagues Cash-fat ISA
Dick Morley involvement with ISA
Automation World - ISA at the crossroads
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JimPinto.com website overview
Hey, have you visited the JimPinto.com website? Recently?
For those of you who have not visited, here's a brief overview
of features and links which may interest you.
There are several "buttons" at the top - here are the popular ones:
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- Recommended Reading - good books that I think you'll like
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- Index of all published JimPinto.com eNews (Pick up missed eNews)
There are some 300 different web pages on the JimPinto.com website,
and specific topics are sometimes hard to find. Scroll down on
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- just the website locally, using the local search-button.
At the bottom, there's an Amazon.com button. Click to visit
Amazon.com. Hey, I get a small percentage of anything you buy - sweet!
I'll appreciate your comments and feedback. There's a primary button
at the top for that.
Go visit JimPinto
JimPinto.com eNews Index - all past issues
Chronological Index of all Jim Pint writings
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"Pinto's Points" selling well - how do YOU like it?
My new book, Pinto's Points is doing very well, headed (I hope)
to becoming an ISA best-seller. Thank you all who have bought
a copy and are now reading it.
"Pinto's Points" is available on the ISA website, Amazon.com and
other bookstores. Websites such as Automation.com and The Readout
Instrumentation Signpost in Ireland will soon be carrying it too.
You can order your own autographed copy NOW (web link below).
When you've had a chance to read at least some of it, I'll appreciate
your comments and feedback. Or, please do a review on Amazon.com
(link below), or Barnes & Noble, when you're ready.
Buy an autographed copy of "Pinto's Points"
"Pinto's Points" - Read the complete Table of Contents
Buy "Pinto's Points" directly from ISA Online
Buy "Pinto's Points" from Amazon.com
Buy a "Pinto book bundle" (Points & Unplugged) from Automation.com
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Jim Hetzer [Rezteh@aol.com] think that the Katrina disaster highlights
serious US problems that are being sidetracked:
"We need to wake up and figure out how we are going to remain
viable in the global marketplace. The New Orleans Katrina disaster
is a bell-weather event. It shows the class distinctions and the
potential volatility and possibility of a real class war in the USA.
We need to train people for jobs, and we need to create and maintain
jobs and job skills here.
"Iraq is a multi-hundred billion dollar sinkhole that only now
is showing the misguided priority consequences. We can't respond
with National Guard in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi because
we are in Iraq trying to impose democracy on a society that doesn't
want it. Iraq will be a secular religious state, and we will have
wasted our resources and our past integrity for invading without
a just cause.
"Fiddling in Iraq while New Orleans sinks below third world
conditions should be a warning. If we had put the money we have
dumped into Iraq into strengthening the US infrastructure and
on education, we would be a lot further along in regaining our
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Ron Bengtson [Ron@AmericanEnergyIndependence.com] agreed that
we should be looking for technologically creative solutions
to reduce the price of energy:
"I like Ron Liebis' thinking (eFeedback, 2 Sept. 2005) about
'distributed' domestic fuel production and comparing that
to what happened when the computer was made available to
the general population.
Sonex Piston description on American Energy Independence website
"Multi-fuel engines, until now, have been either spark ignition
or compression ignition, but not both. Dr. Andre Pouring of Sonex
Research, who has excellent credentials, has designed an engine
with a piston design that can use gasoline, methanol, ethanol or
diesel and biodiesel in the same engine (though maybe not at the
same time) - a major advantage which could yield significant fuel
"Another possibility is the growing interest in Dimethyl ether
(DME) as a new, clean-burning alternative to liquefied petroleum
gas, liquefied natural gas, diesel and gasoline. It can be made
from natural gas, coal, or biomass, and can be synthesized from
any carbon material, including waste plastic and biomass. It is
easily liquefied, stored, transported with existing infrastructure,
and it is kind to the environment (CO2 being the only negative
by-product). Maybe we should be looking at a universal fuel that
can be made from multiple sources, rather than multiple fuels.
"I've put up a new web page on the American Energy Independence
website, featuring these new developments. I'd like to hear the
opinion of your readers with technical expertise."
Read about Dimethyl Ether
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Shreesha Chandra [Shreesha.Chandra@sg.yokogawa.com] gives us an
Asian view of ISA possibilities:
"Your article 'ISA at Crossroads' is timely and revealing. From
my own perspective, the following are some issues which need
to be addressed, especially for Asian markets.
- Most of the activities of ISA (Road shows, Seminars etc) are
centered around North America. As rightly pointed out in the
article, things are happening more at countries like India and
China and these markets are technology sensitive and receptive
to new things.
- A more visible ISA in these regions would attract members far
in excess of expectations and help ISA grow further.
- Most of the Web-Cast timings are so un-suited to Asian
countries that, professionals, even if interested, will not
be able to take part. The costs are also prohibitive and not
in tune with expectations in these regions. A circulation of
records to members thru ISA chapters in these countries would
definitely help to build interest in the Automation industry.
"Since the ISA pot of cash is substantial, it should go back
to the original charter of formation which, I believe, is
to build knowledge communities and generate a wider Automation
fraternity. More and more efforts are needed towards this goal
to retain talent in this industry, and not to lose out to the
ever attractive IT sector.
"Yes, it's true that the attraction of Automation Tech exhibitions
is on the wane. More and More companies find excuses to spend less
on these efforts because over the years the concept of marketing
automation products has changed drastically. Previously, new
products were introduced less frequently and needed direct
visibility (through such exhibitions) for attracting prospective
"However, with the recent Technological boom and the high frequency
of new product introductions, the market has become more competitive
and e-Marketing is the order of the day. If the initial prospects
look good enough, only then will suppliers need to spend time and
energy to demo the product to customers. The customer profile has
also changed, with knowledge available easily on the Internet.
Suppliers must be very smart and agile to sell products strengths
before other new and innovative products become available."
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