Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ponds & Resiliency

I recently wrote about the importance of building resiliency into a self-sufficient system in “Creating Resiliency & Stability in Horticulture.” It’ important to build systems that serve multiple functions, that provide a yield that is decoupled with neighboring systems and that can bank resources for use elsewhere—all of which helps to smooth out the peaks and valleys of both cyclical and extraordinary systemic shocks. When it comes to accomplishing all of this and more, the all-star system may just be the humble pond.

A pond can be created, enhanced, or merely “captured” in a very wide variety of environments. It is a reservoir of water—a critical resource—that provides resiliency in times of drought and fire. It can be the center of an aquaculture system for food production—with a food yield that is decoupled from the yield of a garden or from other hunting and gathering. It can also provide a food bank—when other systems yield well, fish will continue to grow, to be harvested when needed. It provides recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and a wide variety of other options. It is also resilient in the face of human action—while raiders historically burn crops and pillage mobile wealth, a pond is not a particularly valuable or vulnerable target.

The latest issue of Mother Earth News (print issue only) has excellent articles on both how to build and maintain small ponds as well as home-scale aquaculture. Also, take a look at P.A. Yeoman’s permaculture classic on key-line dams, ponds, and swale systems, available online here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Normative Network

How can a dispersed lattice of self-sufficient nodes ever produce enough self-regulation to facilitate complex interaction? Doesn't that require hierarchy to impose rules in a top-down manner? Not so much. Here's a paper written by rather precocious high school student Alexander Franks on the matter: "Understanding Evolved Strategies for System-Wide Coordination in Noisy Environments."

He provides a more rigorous, experiment-validated approach to my concept that a rhizome economy can be coordinated without hierarchy through the use of "small-worlds" networks (see A Theory of Power, Chapter 9). Importantly, he points out that the development of coordinated solutions in small-worlds networks may parallel biological evolution in the sense that the system cannot directly solve high-order problems, but must instead gradually increase the difficulty of the problems it solves. So just as multi-cellular organisms did not directly emerge, but rather followed from a gradual complexification of evolving organisms, so perhaps must the rhizome economy begin with less resiliency in the face of systemic shock and gradually develop the complex interconnectedness necessary to withstand environmental problems, defend itself against predators, and succeed in complex economic interactions?

In Franks' experiments, the normative rule (in his case, to push binary digits to 1 rather than 0) was arbitrarily applied. How will such normative processes develop that push diverse nodes to adapt the best-practices of their neighbors? In the case of developing a rhizome economy, the ingrained desire to live a life more compatible with our ontogeny will lead to the adoption of neighboring practices that promise to move our lives closer to that ideal.

Thanks to John Robb for bringing this paper to my attention--see his blog for some thoughts on this concept as applied to open-source warfare.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


In my start-of-2006 prediction, I called 2006 the “year of the balance beam.” We’re in a pretty precarious position, and a good jolt could send us right off the edge, but without that shock we will probably keep on walking in a straight line. Well, as we near summer we are also nearing a bifurcation point—the point at which the universe of possible future realities sharply divide into separate sets. One way to think of it is that the width of civilization’s balance beam is shrinking. We walk along in the same straight path that we’ve walked on for decades, but as the balance beam shrinks from 2’ wide to 2” wide, the probability of falling off increases exponentially. But to a casual observer from the side, everything is proceeding as normal…

Graphic: Bifurcation Diagram

We’ve had many close calls. The end of the Cold War was probably our last great wobble. We swung our arms about and did a little dance, but we weren’t really in any great danger of falling off. 9/11 was a slight trip—and it took us a moment to regain our balance. But balance regained, we’ve regained confidence, and perhaps we’re moving forward a bit faster than is prudent (in our shiny yellow H2 short bus). Now we’ve realized that we’re unstable again—our arms are just now quivering, wondering how to react to the next blow, and our legs are a bit shaky. There’s uncertainty—will we catch our balance quickly, will we pirouette and nearly fall off but regain control, or is it one with the abyss for humanity? You can see this clearly in oil prices, which hit record highs this week without a hurricane. The combination of supply-demand issues and wondering about Iran has left us in limbo. Will we catch ourselves this time? What about the next? It’s really only a matter of time now. Most likely we’ll catch our balance this time—and you’ll see this reflected in oil dropping below $68/barrel. And most likely we’ll catch our balance next time, too. But the balance beam is getting narrower. Will a major Gulf hurricane knock us off for good? What about Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz? What about a collapse of oil production from Ghawar? What about China continuing to grow oil demand by double digits annually? India? What the future looks like will depend in part on what catalyst knocks us off. But one thing is certain—after the bifurcation point we aren’t walking down the same straight line any longer.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Rhizome Theory: Directory

OK, so... I've published several rather detailed posts on the theory behind actually creating a rhizome economy over the last few days. Here's a little directory (in recommended order for reading):

1. Envisioning a Hamelt Economy. Big-picture concpetion of how a rhizome economy will function.

2. Creating Resiliency and Stability in Horticulture. A more detailed analysis of how to implement a hybrid-horticultural scheme at the level of the rhizome node.

3. Rhizome & Central Place Theory. In response to a comment, a more detailed discussion of how rhizome can grow amidst existing hierarchal structures.

4. Rhizome Network Defense. A review of a Cambridge team's analysis of potential tacticts to defend rhizome structures against hierarchy.

Rhizome & Central Place Theory

Unplanning has an excellent post that re-introduces Walther Christaller’s venerable Central Place Theory and discusses it continuing role in a low-energy world. The theory, and Unplanner’s post, call into question the validity of a rhizome-lattice structure (as I suggested in “Envisioning a Hamlet Economy.” See Unplanner’s comments HERE.) because such a lattice structure rejects “super-nodes,” and attempts to keep the economic topology essentially “flat.” This post hopes to cover 1) a discussion of the key role of subsidy in the Central Place model, 2) the unique adaptation of a rhizome-lattice by consciously holding the threshold of self-sufficiency at a low level, 3) the resulting ability of a rhizome-lattice to persist despite the necessary artificiality of its construction upon the detritus of a hierarchal system molded by subsidized central-place infrastructure, and 4) my own vision of the new role of a Dynamic Central Place Interaction that allows a rhizome-lattice to leverage the potential of Central Place without facilitating the accretion of hierarchy.

1. Hierarchal Subsidy is the key to Central Place Structure

As I noted in my paper, “Subsidized Centralization: An Economic Analysis of the Roman Road Network” (Presented at the Mediterranean Studies Association Annual Meeting. Currently under peer-review for publication by the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences. Previously “All Roads Lead to Rome,” and again available on this site with all graphics working properly!), Central Place Structure is the result of subsidy by a hierarchal regime to the transportation and communication infrastructure (or, energy requirements) of a system. The pattern noted in Central Place Theory arises from hierarchy creating sufficient subsidy to centralization to overcome the natural tendency towards devolution and import replacement. This is necessary because, absent subsidy, hierarchy is a naturally inefficient means of information processing (see A Theory of Power, Chapter 9). Consider the graphics below (from “Subsidized Centralization”):

Absent subsidy to maintain hierarchy, a devolved pattern (such as the rhizome-lattice model) is sustainable. Hierarchy, however, once initiated, exerts a powerful pull: it offers redistributive security to localized economic nodes that have failed to maintain economic self-sufficiency. Additionally, it provides one method for providing the complex organization needed to respond to certain systemic shocks such as invasion, drought, disease, and the ability to produce and trade in goods and services that require complexity. Rhizome, however, offers an alternative mode of organization that can address both of these problems.

2. Rhizome: Conscious Threshold of Self-Sufficiency

Standard, localized economic nodes remain dependent on participation in an exchange network to meet their minimum needs. This dependency provides the initial subsidy to hierarchy that gets its evolution ‘over the hump’ presented by the tendency towards devolution and import-replacement, and facilitates its perpetual intensification—as we see repeated over and over in the annals of history. Rhizome addresses this at its source: a rhizome node must, by definition, maintain a resilient minimal self-sufficiency. It is then free to engage in specialized production with surpluses, but by maintaining minimal self-sufficiency, it never becomes dependent on interaction with other nodes, and therefore never falls victim to hierarchy. It always holds a position of power in outside interaction: it does not need to participate. It consciously holds the threshold of self-sufficiency at its own level.

3. Rhizome Compatibility with Central Place Remnants

Because rhizome consciously holds self-sufficiency at its own level, even if this may not seem like the most efficient strategy in the short term, it can co-exist with remnants of a hierarchal, central place structure. Consider the following graphic depicting a modern, hierarchal and Central Place dominated topology:

Now consider the conscious development of rhizome within this Central Place dominated context, made possible by the conscious choice by rhizome nodes to maintain localized self-sufficiency and to build a rhizome-lattice structure:

By working within the hierarchal system, but consciously developing a network that lies outside of that system, the rhizome structure in the above graphic is becoming increasingly resilient. This is, in many ways, similar to the conscious creation of alternative social networks via the internet that, while compatible with the traditional social structure, are outside of it and in many ways are replacing it.

4. Dynamic Central Place Interaction

The second advantage afforded by Central Place hierarchies is the ability to mobilize and effectively coordinate larger groups to respond to crises and to engage in highly complex economic production and exchange. Rhizome networks address this need through the use of dynamic “Central Place” interaction—fairs, festivals, traveling markets, conferences, etc. Essentially, the central place concept is utilized, but it is decoupled from a fixed spatial arrangement: the center is constantly moving, as is the nature of the edge. Because established central places cannot calcify and accrete into hierarchy, the rhizome-lattice is able to leverage the advantages of centralization without destroying itself. Again, the dynamic nature of this “nomadic center” must be the result of conscious implementation by the lattice.

Creating Resiliency & Stability in Horticulture

Can a hybrid/horticultural mode of production create adequate, diversified, resilient, and sustainable nodes of production? This post outlines a proposed model for creating minimally self-sufficient, low-order nodes. This post is a follow-up to the post “Envisioning a Hamlet Economy,” and serves to elaborate on the creation of minimal self-sufficiency through a hybrid/horticulture system at the node level: the 10-40 person extended familial group.

Evaluation criteria:

  1. Provide minimal food and energy self-sufficiency at the node-level with an average of less than 20-hours of labor per week, per person (adequacy and resiliency check).
  2. Diversification such that no more than 10% of needs are met from one discrete system (diversity check)
  3. Establishment of arboriculture surplus bank capable of meeting at least 50% of production one out of five years (resiliency check).
  4. Proficiency and access to replace at least 50% of production from hunting/gathering mode (resiliency check).
  5. Improve production potential of land year-on-year (sustainability check).

I certainly solicit feedback on these criteria, but for the time being I will proceed with them in mind.

Basic production layout:

1. Intensive Horticulture: Intensive horticulture, or gardening, is at the core of this model. “Intensive,” however, does not mean labor-intensive, but rather high yield per area of land. The use of efficient layout, soil growing processes, exploitation of edge (especially between “garden” and “forest garden”), and other principles well laid out in the fields of permaculture, Fukuoka method, and bio-intensive gardening show that high yields are possible with relatively low effort and little space. John Jeavons, a founder of the biointensive gardening movement, convincingly demonstrates that 4,000 square feet of garden can sustainably feed one person with no outside inputs of fertilizer or pesticide—and his technique includes approximately half of that space dedicated to growing organic matter to continually improve the soil. At Jeavons’s figure, 10 people could be supported by a one acre garden. If an extended familial node consisted of 20 people, they could theoretically be supported by 2 acres of intensive garden—something that could be fully tended to by one very hard working person, or 20 people working very, very leisurely.

While accepting Jeavons’s figure, this model uses roughly 10 times that space for gardening AND arboriculture (see #2 below) to account for a portion of production that improves standard of living, provides resiliency, but is not maximally calorie-intensive. Specifically, 8,000 square feet per person for intensive garden (half of which is dedicated to tasty but less staple items), 8,000 square feet per person for animal (mainly laying hens and dairy sheep/goats) production and specialty production for trade and exchange (beer, wine, cheese, etc.), and additional 32,000 square feet of forest-garden for food, fuel, and lumber production. This model, therefore, utilizes 1 acre per person for total production, excluding the contribution of the surrounding hunting/gathering space. Therefore, a familial node of 20 people would require 20 acres (4 acres of intensive gardening, 4 acres of animal support and specialty production, and 8 acres of forest garden). Five people working hard, or 10 people working leisurely could maintain this system, leaving 10 people to perform other critical node functions (accounting for children, whose are assumed as non-workers, childcare, elderly, information processing, specialty trade/craft, etc.). I think that these numbers are conservative, as the caloric production from additional systems will reduce the actual production requirement from staple crops, as will the continuation of some hunting and gathering. This conservativeness and internal redundancy builds resiliency.

2. Arboriculture Bank: A forest garden, while a contributor to regular production, should also represent a bank of potential production to make up for years when horticulture underperforms. This is possible because, after establishment, the only significant human input required in a forest garden is harvesting. Therefore, nodes should establish a forest garden capable of providing for their full food and resource needs, and thereafter only harvesting from that as necessary to make-up for horticultural shortfalls and to supplement standard-of-living with forest products.

3. Hunting/Gathering Reserve: The availability and proficiency to fall back on hunting and gathering is a critical feature of this model’s resiliency. No matter how carefully we work to avoid impact from systemic shocks, over time they will occur. Hunting and gathering is a proven means of surviving these shocks. But if hunting and gathering is so resilient, why not just rely on it alone? There is certainly disagreement here, but my assertion is that a well designed hybrid system of horticulture, arboriculture, and hunting/gathering will provide a superior standard of living to hunting and gathering alone. Because hunting and gathering will act as a savings account, the resiliency and capacity to provide of the wilds will regenerate during those periods when they are not needed. This will permit a (slightly) more dense settlement pattern than pure hunting and gathering, thereby facilitating more and faster communication between nodes, which will in turn allow society to leverage complexity more effectively. Also, let’s be honest here, I like many of the products of the garden: cheese, tomatoes, peaches, wheat & barley (for pizza and beer, of course), etc. While the diversity of wild food is astonishing, if the option exists to NOT give up pizza, I’ll take it! Perhaps more justifiably, the creation of an alternative that is immediately attractive to others will be critical in affecting the transition from today’s economy to the hamlet economy.

There is also the argument that hunting and gathering meets minimum subsistence requirements with much less time-input than does agriculture. Here is where, I think, hierarchal agriculture and rhizomatic horticulture diverge: It is my assertion that horticulture can **in most years** provide more efficient return than hunting and gathering, although this is highly location dependent. That said, I think that hunting and gathering must play a critical—and continuous—role in this hybrid model. The proficiency for a hunting/gathering fall-back option depends on two things: proficiency and capacity. The first factor, availability, means that there must be adequate land area per person, with appropriate distribution, to provide enough calories through hunting and gathering. This figure will vary greatly, from perhaps 10 acres per person in parts of the Pacific Northwest to over 1000 acres per person in dry savannah. The density and configuration of the rhizome lattice must adapt accordingly, as resource distribution is one of the terrain features over which the idealized structure (see “Envisioning a Hamlet Economy) must be draped. A hamlet, consisting of four nodes of 20 people each would, therefore, require roughly 80 acres under production and an additional 800 to 80,000 acres of wild land surrounding them. Even assuming 80,000 acres, the geometric separation between hamlets would be 10 miles, which is an easy one-day walk (and actual separation would probably be less, see graphic below):

The second factor, proficiency, means that people must maintain the skills necessary to efficiently hunt and gather without a learning period. This is accomplished simply by keeping hunting and gathering an important, if small, part of regular food and resource production, even in years when horticulture produces excellent yields.

Engineering Resiliency:

Resiliency is more than mere diversity—it is the need to decouple yield cycles and susceptibility to systemic shocks. As a recent comment pointed out, there is often a tendency for the yield of intensive horticultural systems and arboriculture to produce minimal yields simultaneously. A drought, for example, may hit both garden yields and forest-garden yields. While this system is designed to accommodate such an occurrence with a secondary fall-back, the availability and proficiency to engage in hunting and gathering, it is more resilient if that necessity can be minimized. Additionally, there is a standard list of systemic shocks that will occur with regular frequency, and this system must also consider special safeguards against them: extreme weather, fire, disease (both plant and human), and war. Evaluation criteria #2 (diversification) is specifically aimed at these concerns. However, more than simplistic diversity is required—the diversity must be carefully selected such that the risk profiles of the diverse segments are decoupled from each other. So if one segment is particularly impacted by drought, an antipode should be selected that will continue to yield well through the drought. Here are some initial thoughts:

- Drought: Life on Earth is dependent on water, and if fears are realized and weather does become more erratic, drought may become an even greater problem in the future. Ultimately, water is a critical resource that must be banked—in soil through the incorporation of organic matter, mulching, and swales, in plants that are selected for their drought tolerance (and yield during droughts), and in ponds and reservoirs (see, e.g., the “Key-Line” dam concept, where many micro-dams catch and store water without interrupting the local ecosystem). Cisterns are also advisable. In general, drought-resiliency strategy will be highly place dependent.

- Fire: Wildfire is a potentially devastating systemic shock. Perhaps fortunately, it is such a concern in Australia—the home base for the permaculture movement—that a significant body of counter-tactics has been developed (see Mollison’s “Permaculture, A Designer’s Guide” for an entire chapter on the topic).

- Plant disease & pests: Diversity, diversity, diversity. If you grow potatoes, eventually you will be struck by blight. But if you rely on potatoes for no more than 10% of your calories, it will be an easily absorbable shock. Careful nurturing of a diverse ecosystem—plants, animals, insects, fungus—will help to ensure balance and minimization of impact. And locusts are high in protein…

- Frost: Many crops, and especially orchards, are susceptible to late spring frosts—something that may increasingly become an issue if weather in general becomes more erratic. Diversity of production potential with a special consideration of susceptibility to frosts will help minimize their impact on yields.

- Human Disease: The flat topology of a rhizome hamlet-economy will provide an excellent barrier against the development and spread of infectious disease. Multi-day travel to the largest of festivals and fairs will also help to minimize exposure to contagion. It certainly isn’t perfect, however. General principles of resiliency will also help, such as the planned ability of a fraction of the population to meet the production needs of the whole through a surge in effort (planned 20 hour week surging to 40 hour week covers 50% incapacitation).

- War: it is a classic tactic to ravage the food production capability of the enemy as an army passes through. Even small-scale raiders have a nasty tendency to slaughter animals and set fields alight. Decentralization and diversification of production make this significantly more challenging and less efficient as an offensive tactic, but additional concerns are warranted. Arboriculture is particularly resilient because it produces a far lower return on investment to spend time chopping down trees than it does to ignite a wheat field—however, safeguards against fire in general will be valuable here as arboriculture not made safe against wildfire is equally unsafe against arson. Additionally, resource dispersal plans can further decentralize resources and make their destruction even more inefficient—this may be something no more complicated than releasing your chickens into the open. Some will fall prey to wild animals, others will never be recovered, but it is far superior to keeping them all in a small pen to be slaughtered.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


For a change of pace, an "inspirational" photo-post: The ruins of the Baths of Caracalla with the wildflowers and wheat that are overgrowing the ancient Roman Forum in the foreground. Photo by Jeff Vail.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Rhizome Network Defense Strategies

Last Summer, Shishir Nagaraja and Ross Anderson of Cambridge published a fascinating article entitled “The Topology of Covert Conflict.” This article cuts to the core of the battle between hierarchy and rhizome, and while it is was conceived as a way to address the effective disruption of de-centralized networks such as al-Qa’ida and file-sharing systems, it provides a profound theoretical basis for the defense of a society founded upon the principles of rhizome. I will briefly review the article, and then offer some thoughts from a purely theoretical perspective on the optimal structure and natural resiliency of rhizome.

As an intro, here is the Abstract from Nagaraja and Anderson’s paper:

“Often an attacker tries to disconnect a network by destroying nodes or edges, while the defender counters using various resilience mechanisms. Examples include a music industry body attempting to close down a peer-to-peer file-sharing network; medics attempting to halt the spread of an infectious disease by selective vaccination; and a police agency trying to decapitate a terrorist organisation. Albert, Jeong and Barab´asi famously analysed the static case, and showed that vertex-order attacks are effective against scale-free networks. We extend this work to the dynamic case by developing a framework based on evolutionary game theory to explore the interaction of attack and defence strategies. We show, first, that naive defences don’t work against vertex-order attack; second, that defences based on simple redundancy don’t work much better, but that defences based on cliques work well…Our models thus build a bridge between network analysis and evolutionary game theory, and provide a framework for analysing defence and attack in networks where topology matters. They suggest definitions of efficiency of attack and defence, and may even explain the evolution of insurgent organisations from networks of cells to a more virtual leadership that facilitates operations rather than directing them.” (emphasis added)

First, a little overview on the science of topology as applied to network design and vulnerability:

The Scale-free network suggested in (b) is not a case of hierarchy emerging out of randomness, but rather an analysis of the communication connections between nodes, not necessarily the command-connections. More connected nodes, shaded in (b), are “vertexes,” and are the traditional targets of decapitation attacks when trying to destroy a scale-free network. Nagaraja and Anderson first analyze the effectiveness of the vertex decapitation tactic on a scale-free network, and demonstrate that it is a highly effective means of disrupting a network when only simple defensive measures are taken, such as simple replacement of the decapitated node (we see this game playing out between al-Qa’ida in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Security forces).

Next, Nagaraja and Anderson address the effectiveness of several tactics to defend against vertex-decapitation attacks. Essentially, the time-tested tactic used by insurgent groups everywhere is by far the most effective: when one node becomes an attractive vertex target, break that node into a clique of several nodes, with each new node connected to every other in the clique, and dividing the prior connections of the vertex among the new nodes in the clique in order to reduce their attractiveness when faced with a vertex-targeting scheme.

Here’s a graphic of the use of the clique transition as a defensive tactic:

And here’s Ngaraja and Anderson’s analysis on the viability of the clique-transition defensive tactic to the vertex-decapitation attack.

So, the final conclusion of this Cambridge team is, to use my terminology, that the devolution of quasi-hierarchal networks into a closer approximation of a rhizome structure is the best defense against predation by a hierarchal opponent.

Taking a bit closer look, what is the optimal connectivity structure for rhizome? In theory, a pure rhizome structure would have no higher-order vertexes for attack. However, there is the potential that if every node maintains the same connectivity, communications will either be so burdensome (every node has many, many connections), or too slow (every node has very few connections). The most efficient linking methodology that still maintains a uniformly low vertex-order among nodes is the “small-worlds” theory: most links connect to very “close” neighbors, but at least one or two are very distant and weak. These distant, weak links are what makes the “6-degrees of separation” effect possible. How is someone in Southern California really linked to a poor peasant in rural India by less than 6 links? It’s not the close ties to neighbors and coworkers (probably), but rather it’s that weak connection—the foreign exchange student that the Californian knew in high school from New Delhi. These weak and distant connections are what dramatically improve communications and information processing efficiency within a relatively “flat” network architecture. From the perspective of rhizome defending itself against attacks of hierarchy, this structure is also the most effective because it eliminates the most effective hierarchal tactic of vertex-order decapitation.

Oil Price Reporting: Follow-Up

This is a quick follow-up to a recent post where I promised to investigate—as objectively as reasonably possible—the accuracy and potential bias in the reporting of oil price by the main stream media. Well, here’s the first two weeks of data with some analysis. Overall, I cannot point to any evidence of bias, either to under-report or over-report price movements either up or down. What I can point out is a general inconsistency by CNN and MSNBC in dealing with the Pit market and Access market prices. Essentially, the “Pit” is the live trading floor that only trades during the mid-day hours. The “Access Market” is the electronic trading board that trades crude futures during all other hours (overnight). The Pit session may close with the oil price up $1, and then it may immediately drop $0.20 in the opening hour of Access trading. How should the MSM report this, as a rise of $1, a rise of $0.80, or a drop of $0.20. Consistency would at least facilitate an analysis of potential bias, but the most evident piece of data (albeit very premature and preliminary) to come out of my two weeks of study is that these discrepancies are not reported consistently. Here’s the data:

An analysis of the discrepancies:

March 27th: Prices rose $1.91 in the Pit, then slipped just slightly as soon as the Access market opened. CNN ran the headline “Oil Slips Slightly.”

April 3rd: Prices dropped $0.52 during Pit session, but rose slightly after Access opened. Both MSNBC and CNN ran headlines that oil was up, however CNN mentioned in the article fine print that the after-hours rise was less than the drop in the Pit earlier that day.

April 4th: I was out of town on business and unable to check reporting on time.

April 5th: Both CNN and MSNBC reported the $0.87 rise in Pit trading, even though oil had already dropped slightly in Access.

A few notes: FOX consistently did not report on daily price moves, even on their energy page, so I dropped them from sampling. The market has been steadily trending during the sample period—I don’t know what effect this has had on the reporting, but I hypothesize that any bias would be more evident in a trading, not trending, period. Also, as any statisticians will point out, this is a grossly undersized sample, and the specific procedures are not firm enough to make this a rigorous scientific study, so take from it what you will. Bottom line: oil prices are reported inconsistently by the MSM, which has clouded this effort to prove or disprove any bias. That said, it is interesting to note that there have been several rather lengthy discussions at about alleged bias in reporting to hide the rise in oil prices during exactly this sample period…