Archive for March, 2012
And the free market is bringing it. Nuts to you, Bob Brown.
Amory Lovins in Foreign Affairs:
U.S. gasoline demand peaked in 2007; the oil use of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development peaked in 2005. With China and India pursuing efficient and electric vehicles, Deutsche Bank forecast in 2009 that world oil use could begin to decline after 2016. In fact, the world is nearing “peak oil” — not in supply but in demand. Oil is simply becoming uncompetitive even at low prices before it becomes unavailable even at high prices.
I also want to throw in this story, for good measure:
In 1850, most U.S. homes used whale-oil lamps, and whaling was the country’s fifth-biggest industry. But as whale populations dwindled, the price of whale oil rose, so between 1850 and 1859, coal-derived synthetic fuels grabbed more than five-sixths of the lighting market. In 1859, Edwin Drake struck oil, and kerosene, thanks to generous tax breaks, soon took over. Whalers, astounded that they had run out of customers before they ran out of whales, begged for federal subsidies on national security grounds, but Thomas Edison’s 1879 invention of electric lighting snuffed out their industry. Whales had been accidentally saved by technological innovators and profit-maximizing capitalists.
Energy efficiency is strategically important, but it also saves money. There is no need for Government to start saving the world here, human innovation is doing it just fine, thank you.
Only because I know you’re not sick of all this Peter Beinart business yet (I’m sorry), I just felt the need to point out that Hussein Ibish — defending Beinart against Wall Street Journal editor Brett Stephens — seems to have completely missed the point of what Stephens was saying.
Sometimes crude binaries can be instructive, and it’s possible to distinguish two different types of people: those who seek out generous and universalist empathy with others, and those who prefer the warm cocoon of tribal solidarity.
In his new book, The Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart very much places himself in the first category, while in his review of it for Tablet, Bret Stephens, unfortunately, demonstrates that he squarely belongs in the second. Stephens’ angry, mean-spirited tirade against Beinart begins with a frank display of this mentality. He opens his lengthy denunciation of Beinart by angrily condemning him for daring to imagine that a young Palestinian boy called Khaled Jaber “could have been my son.”
Beinart writes that the evolution of his views on Israel and its occupation was kick-started by watching a video of the child crying out in horror as his father was being hauled away by Israeli occupation forces for “stealing water.” Beinart’s innate decency and humanity were, for whatever reason, deeply touched by this highly affecting scene…
But Stephens is having none of it. How, he asks indignantly, could “someone named Khaled Jaber…have been Beinart’s son?” The answers are so simple and fundamental that they are embarrassing to posit. He could be his son because all people are brothers and sisters, and we all can and should identify with each other across ethnic, racial, religious and cultural divides. Beinart can do this. Stevens, apparently, can’t, and indeed is offended when others do. Read the rest of this entry »
Jordan Chandler Hirsch has given the best review that I have seen yet of Peter Beinart’s new book The Crisis of Zionism (UPDATE: except this one) (disclaimer: I have not read the book myself). For those who don’t follow these things, for the past couple of years, Beinart has been trying to pioneer some new form of “liberal Zionism” that, for reasons explained below, I find deeply flawed.
Before I get into that, I would just like to highlight one important point that Beinart has backtracked on. In the New York Review of Books essay with which Beinart originally launched his campaign, he had a premise that was very popular with quite a few of the Jews who were inclined to agree with his position anyway (hi Liam): that the reason American Jews have become increasingly alienated towards Israel is that they cannot “blindly support” Israel the way AIPAC does (which AIPAC doesn’t actually do).
This is understandably an attractive prospect for Beinart and his followers — who wouldn’t want to believe that everyone naturally agrees with them and if only the establishment were different, they would be super popular. Unfortunately for Beinart (and Liam), this assumption is not grounded in reality. He has since been proven wrong and quietly moved away from this position:
Beinart—though he doesn’t explicitly admit to it—largely walks back his theory of political distancing in The Crisis of Zionism. In fact, in direct contradiction to his article in The New York Review of Books, he endorses Cohen’s argument that, for the vast majority of American Jews whose ties to Israel are weakening, intermarriage is a more important factor than politics. Noting that the intermarriage rate among Jews today is “roughly 50 percent,” Beinart admits “the harsh truth is that for many young, non-Orthodox American Jews, Israel isn’t that important because being Jewish isn’t that important.” Later, he states, quite rightly, “it would be wrong to imagine that young, secular American Jews seethe with outrage at Israel’s policies.” “For the most part,” he writes, “they do not care enough to seethe.”
Hirsch goes on to explain the important flaws in Beinart’s thesis. He more-or-less describes my point of view as well: rather than addressing the problem, Beinart is just presenting Read the rest of this entry »
Reviewing the “Heartland affair”, Robert Murphy notes how one climate scientist did not think that the actual evidence against Heartland was enough and decided to forge a more “damning” document; and how gleefully the rest of the climate change movement began adopting this clearly forged document with no skepticism whatsoever:
Now to be sure, climate science isn’t the same thing as politics and the blogosphere. Just because these climate alarmists showed ridiculously bad judgment when it came to the Heartland affair, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are wrong about the trajectory of global temperatures in the absence of mitigation strategies.
However, I do think this episode—and the reaction of the skeptic community during Climategate—are quite illustrative of the two camps’ approaches to the actual science. Back when the Climategate emails were first spreading around the Internet, I distinctly remember many people in the comments at blogs such as ClimateAudit warning their peers by saying things like, “Guys, remember, we’re skeptics. This is too good to be true. Let’s not jump up and down on this, because it might be a trap to make us look gullible.”
In contrast, the major players on the other side—when Heartland was “caught” saying things that were far more absurd than what the Climategate emails revealed—jumped with glee. For example…
Walter Russell Mead posits his analysis of the incentives leading to distortions in the climate debate:
- The climate movement’s proposals (above all, the global carbon treaty that in theory will subject the economic output of every country on earth to global controls) are radical, costly and virtually certain to fail.
- To be enacted, these unpromising measures require an unprecedented degree of consensus, as every major country on earth would have to accept, ratify and then enforce the climate treaty the movement seeks.
- The climate movement must therefore be, in Dean Acheson’s words, “clearer than truth” in order to stampede public and elite opinion around the world into a unique and unparalleled act of global legislation.
- Because many in the climate movement believe that this treaty is literally a matter of life and death for the human race, the moral case both for stretching the evidence and attacking critics of that agenda as aggressively as possible looks strong to weak minds.
- The absence of any central authority or quality control in the climate movement (and the tendency of unbalanced foundation execs and direct mail contributors to provide greater support to those ready to take more aggressive action and espouse more alarming ideas) gives more radical and less responsible voices undue prominence and entangles the whole movement in dubious claims.
- The increasing obstacles encountered by such a poorly conceptualized and poorly advocated agenda cause the embittered and alarmed advocates to circle the wagons and become both more extreme in their rhetoric and less guarded in their claims when precisely the opposite approach would work better.
I must say that I have a lot of sympathy for this position, although I do not think the phenomenon is limited to the “the world is ending” side of the debate; the other side is just as irrational and just as selective in its facts/deliberately deceptive for policy reasons.
What we essentially have is a political debate posing as a scientific one. The best example of this is the fact that the most commonly cited reason to believe in the climate change alarm is the supposed “scientific consensus” shown through petitions like this one – the idea being that if 31,487 scientists agree with something, it can’t possibly be wrong.
The very idea makes a mockery of Read the rest of this entry »
I was very happy last night when the Israeli High Court rejected the Government’s compromise on the Migron settlement and upheld their previous decision that building settlements on privately-owned Palestinian land is illegal under Israeli law, therefore Migron should be demolished.
Good news for once, no? Well…
In light of Sunday’s court ruling, however, MK Uri Ariel (National Union) said, “there is no option but to advance legislation that would give Migron legal standing at its present site without any relocation or evacuation.”
… MK Ya’acov Katz (National Union) said that from the start it had been clear to him that the only solution to Migron was legislation.
The government should not destroy any community it helped to create, he said.
“There is no reason why Jews should be evacuated from their homes under a Likud government,” said MK Danny Danon (Likud). “We must make use of the responsibility given to us by the people to lead the nation and the settlements in Judea and Samaria according to the values of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and [former prime minister] Menachem Begin.”
… MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said that “the court proved today that it preferred Arab interests over Jewish settlement even at the expense of spilling blood. If blood is spilled in Migron it will be on the heads of the court justices.”
Likud activist Moshe Feiglin warned that parliamentarians who opposed the legislation would lose his support and that of his followers in the next election.
… “The High Court justices could have made a decision to avoid conflict in Israeli society,” said Forum director attorney Nachi Eyal. “Clearly the court thinks human rights are only for Palestinians, not for Jews.”
“What do you expect from a panel containing a justice who won’t sing Hatikva?” Eyal added, in a dig at Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, who declined to sing the national anthem at Supreme Court president (emeritus) Dorit Beinisch’s retirement ceremony.
Let’s start with Danon: so this is against the spirit of Begin and Jabotinsky?!?! That would be the Begin who gave away the entire Sinai Peninsular – three times the six of Israel plus the West Bank plus Gaza? The Begin who sent a young Ariel Sharon to literally hose people off the roofs of the Sinai settlement of Yamit? And his mentor, Jabotinsky, the secular nationalist who never expressed much support for the Religious-Zionists who are trying to grab their “God-given land”?
Fortunately, Likkud stalwarts who do follow the Begin/Jabotinsky tradition of Revisionist Zionism are keeping to its ideals of a Jewish state that is secular and democratic by blocking everything the assholes quoted above are trying to push through. That said, Danon is the chair of World Likkud, he has a lot of power inside the party and is definitely getting more of his supporters onto the Knesset ticket. I am very worried for the future of Likkud if this continues, I have no doubt that he would do to Likkud what Barak did to Avoda.
Fortunately, there is still some integrity/competence in Likkud’s leadership, as evidenced by Bibi’s statement on the issue:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday reacted to the High Court’s rejection of a state request to delay the evacuation of the Migron Outpost until 2015, saying that “the government of Israel, along with its citizens, respects the court and acts according to the nation’s laws.”
And the guy who spoke about Joubran not singing Hatikva? Even Isi Liebler disagrees with him! There is pretty well a consensus in Israel that it is understandable for a non-Jew to feel uncomfortable singing about a “Jewish heart” yearning to be “a free people in our own land”. He stands for the anthem respectfully, but does not sing it – that is good enough for everyone else. What the hell is the ‘Legal forum for the Land of Israel’ anyway? And why are the Jerusalem Post paying them any attention?
As for Habayit Hayehudi and Halchud Leumi… well… we always knew they were nut-jobs.
I only hope that they get marginalised at the elections next year…
I have nothing against super-sexual fashion. What I am against is being a victim of it. To have to be sexy? That I hate. To be outrageously sexy? That I love.
Miuccia Prada, profiled in the New Yorker by Judith Thurman.
Things I didn’t know about Prada: she has a PhD in political science, she was once a member of the communist party in Italy and handed out pro-communism flyers while wearing YSL dresses and she refused to run for Italian parliament because she did not think that it would be fair for a woman as wealthy as she is to claim to represent the working class.
I think I have a new favourite designer.
Worth a read.