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30 December 2011

Still On Chocolate Kings

Below is a rare video of PFM performing live, soon after the release of Chocolate Kings. This was recorded at the BBC programme “Old Grey Whistle Test” at a time when TV was open to music in whatever forms and lengths. Unfortunately the video is delayed to the audio and there's some noise during the first minute of the song. Still a precious document of the bands live performance at this time, 1975, with Lanzetti fully integrated in the group. Interesting how he seems so unease; he even plays a guitar that you can't hear as an antidote to the usual front-person dilemma of “what do I do with my hands?”. All in all I feel he was a real plus to band, I'm glad they decided to take him in; too bad it would all come to an end abruptly (musically wise, that is).

PFM were not only one of the best rock bands in the world at this time, they are also making rock history.

27 December 2011

Iran melting down

Updated 28-12-2011

I had read en passant a short news byte last week on some sort of unrest in Iran, but at the time I couldn't dive into it. Today I stumbled upon an amazing thread at the Kitco fora: a frightened, but courageous, civil engineer called Iman accounts in the first person the rapid deterioration of the Iranian government's lid on its currency. What is happening in Iran is not just social unrest, nor just a run on banks, it is something way more serious.

23 December 2011

Petrobras rushes to pre-salt in Angola

There is an interesting piece of news in the press these days, it seems Petrobras shall start exploratory drilling in the south-eastern Atlantic pre-salt already next year. After a series of contracts having been signed with several international companies for the exploration of 32 000 km2 off Angola, the Brasilian state owned company seems willing to take the lead. Some media are reporting as if the existence of oil or gas is almost a certainty, but in reality little is known about the region. Part of the 5-year contracts signed is a 3D seismic survey of these blocks.

21 December 2011

Premiata Forneria Marconi - 1975 - Chocolate Kings

There are two clear epochs for progressive symphonic rock in the 1970s, one during King Crimson's reign and a second after King Crimson. The second half of the seventies is marked by the adoption of new technologies that relegated the mellotron and greatly improved the quality of studio recordings. Chocolate Kings by Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) was one of the first records to clearly enter into this second progressive symphonic phase. This was also the first PFM record I ever listened to, and while much appreciating their earlier discography this is the one I continue to listen most frequently.

12 December 2011

A Summit that will go in History

Just a few days ahead of the last EU Summit, Henry Kissinger commented that Europe finally had a phone number: Merkel's. He is wrong in my view, the prevailing reluctance to set up eurobonds and a federal budget retain all effective power concentrated on the ECB. This agreement (not yet clear if the so called "compact" will result on a new treaty or not) also delegates the management of the EFSF and its successor, the ESM, on the ECB and broadens the economic governance dictated by this institution to the "outs”. Unlike all the previous Summits that were supposed to save the Eurozone, this one will go into the annals of History, for one of the states opted to stay out for good: the UK. With the dust settling it is time to have a few reflections on what took place during the dawn of the 9th of December, 2011.

08 December 2011

Repsol CEO on Peak Reserves

Days ago an Oil industry service company published an article disguised as a journalistic piece with some interesting remarks. It makes me wonder if it refers to the same World I live in.

Peak oil debate losing relevance due to new upstream technology: Repsol CEO

The debate over whether the world's reserves of hydrocarbons have now peaked and are in decline has lost relevance over recent years as new technology allows oil companies to find and exploit new hydrocarbon sources, the CEO of Repsol Antonio Brufau said Tuesday.

05 December 2011

Inexplicable benefits

On the 23th of November the French government announced a 2 million € procurement programme for technical support on its growing open source software infrastructure, today encompassing dozens of thousands of computers spread by ministries, courts, security forces and other central administration services. Days later at the Portuguese Parliament the communist party (PCP) put up for voting a proposal to prevent the acquisition of any new commercial software license, for which an open source or free distributable alternative exists. According to estimates by the communist parliamentary group, this proposal would translate into savings of some 70 million € in 2012 alone, subtracting to the 100 million € assigned in the state budget for the purpose. The proposal was rejected with the votes against from the government coalition of liberals (PSD) and conservatives (CDS); the socialist party (PS) abstained. The arguments vented by the media for this rejection where three: difficult transition for users and platforms, technical support costs and security. It is worth reflecting somewhat on each of these arguments.

03 December 2011

Back At The Edge Of Time

I started blogging in 2006 for TheOilDrum and soon after at the EuropeanTribune, focusing mostly on Energy and its wider implications. This blog come to be a few years later mainly for technical reasons, as at the time I started experimenting with odiogo. The idea was to generate mp3 files with the spoken version of the posts I produced to be published together with the writen version. Eventually, as odiogo became ever more slow to generate the audio files, I simply quit the idea, and At The Edge Of Time was left to dust.

TheOilDrum has been going since the Spring of 2005, quite a remarkable endurance for a collective blog. It has went through many changes and ordeals but so far has muddled through and apparently continues to be sustainable from either the operational or the attendance aspects. But not only isn’t Energy the only subject that interests me, unfortunately TheOilDrum has for the past few years slowly acquired a scepticism against non fossil energies that todays makes me feel somewhat distant from this forum. My collaboration has lasted mainly through the close friendships I maintain with some of the staff; we may disagree in many things, but among the folk involved with TheOilDrum are some of the brightest and most pleasent individuals I ever met. Aside from that, the articles I submit to TheOilDrum usually get a great deal of improvement on the poetry, which for a non native English speaker comes handy.

These past few years my main writing harbour has been at the EuropeanTribune, a community blog where anyone can join and share their thoughts. Well thought rules for promoting and demoting blogs and comments have produced the website with the highest inter-individual treatment standards I have ever seen on the web. There I find some very stimulating discussions, especially on Economics and to some extent on Politics. Though still feeling much like home, I still miss some technical gadgetry, like an RSS feed. Besides that, sometimes I feel the urge to write about other subjects, like Software technologies, and more or less regularly I write about Music, themes that do not fit that well at the EuropeanTribune.

Hence, feeling these two fora are becoming somewhat narrow relative to my present horizons, I decided to reactivate this small pulpit, from now on in a more sustainable fashion (sustainable as in something planed for the long term). The EuropeanTribune will continue to host most of the stuff, with an article that's not too optimist on Energy submitted to TheOilDrum now and then. Here writing will just be a free thing, in whatever subject, in whatever quantity; just for the pleasure of it, as a way to evolve thinking and nurture a coherent discourse.

Regarding the name, “At the Edge of Time” is a poem by Michael Moorcock, that also provided the moto for one of my favourite music recordings: “Warrior on the Edge of Time”. I just use it as metaphor for the Transition our society is living today, from plentiful and growing energy supplies to something else, that is not quite known yet. Remarkably, even for people working in the renewable energy field, it is still hard to grasp Energy as the root of the economic problems we live today in the OECD. This still is, and will continue to be, the main motivation for my writings.

“We are standing on the edge, on the edge of time”, perhaps not of all time, but at least at the edge of a special time of plenty. Standing on the edge one can simply stare at the precipice or alternatively try the eyes to the horizon to identify a new path and produce a plan to get on to it.