April 2006


Via MSNBC:

Energy secretary says oil companies ‘have lost control of the market’

Gasoline prices have soared an average of 60 cents a gallon in less than a month because suppliers are unable to keep up with demand, a situation that could persist up to three more years, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Sunday.

Bodman said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the shortfall was a sign of a stronger economy under President Bush, but he acknowledged that, at least for now, “the suppliers have lost control of the market.”

Sounds like our efforts to ensure oil security are having the opposite effect.

holdinghands

No surprises there. When you sleep with evil it always steals the covers.

Commenting on Washington’s dopey response to high gas prices..

In truth, these high gas prices are an obvious function of demand and supply, and, as such, they are one of the best things to happen in a long time. I hope they go much higher. Soon. If they don’t, the government should force them higher with a big fat gas tax. Only higher oil prices will actually jump-start the new, greener technologies we all say we want (and our planet desperately needs). The government can help a little at the margins: lift ethanol tariffs from Brazil, drill in Alaska, insist on flex-fuel capacity in every American-made car. But for the rest, let the market show people that there are costs to things. This president has never let reality intrude on his conversations with the American public on energy, war, or much else for that matter; so maybe reality will have to speak for itself. Maybe the only way people will stop using SUVs is when they actually have to pay for their ecological destruction and energy inefficiency.

One simple conclusion: conservative government really is dead, isn’t it? A conservative government would simply say: we have no control over global oil prices; consumers reap what they sow; companies should be left alone; and if your wallet is empty because of all that gas in your SUV, you’ve learned a useful lesson in self-government. If only Margaret Thatcher were around to punctuate that lecture with a swipe of her handbag.

Say It With Me: Supply and Demand

No, not the 14th street PATH station. This one..

Don’t panic but a black hole is far nearer than you may think.

Unitil now it would have taken a very long trip into outer space to see one but now scientists have created their very own black hole in a laboratory in New York.

But thankfully it was not the sort that could consume the Earth

It lasted for a tiny amount of time, a staggering 10 million billion billionths of a second.

The heat generated was 300 million times the temperature on the surface of the Sun.

[Link thanks to Dean, who calls this ‘Wicked’. I’ll say – more experiments like this could expand our understanding of what goes on in space, exponentially. Wicked awesome.]

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s anti-Israel conspiracy theories have inspired praise and support from the usual suspects..

David Duke says:

“It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American university essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started.”

Juan Cole has started a petition drive to defend Mearsheimer and Walt:

I’ve started a petition drive for college and university teachers to defend John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt from baseless charges of anti-Semitism. I apologize for limiting the petition base this way, but others are welcome to create other petitions that anyone can sign. I feel it is time for teachers in higher education to stand up and be counted on this issue of the chilling of academic inquiry through character assassination. At a time when the use of congressional funding to universities to limit and shape curricula and research is openly advocated, all of us academics are on the line. And if scholars so eminent as Mearsheimer and Walt can be cavalierly smeared, then what would happen to others?

Noam Chomsky has criticized the article for not being sufficiently anti-American

Robert Fisk, like Duke and Cole, basically praises Mearsheimer and Walt for validating every major point he’s made since before the Iraq war started.

We’ve all heard the words before, but according to David T. at Harry’s Place, the interesting part is the illustration accompanying Fisk’s article:

What makes this one notable, however, is that the Independent has chosen to present Fisk’s argument in an even more, erm, forthright manner than Fisk himself. What Fisk merely insinuates, the Independent makes crystal clear.

They’ve entitled their piece “A United States of Israel?”, and illustrated it with a picture of the Stars and Stripes, in which the stars have been replaced by jewish stars of David.

zogconspiracy

It is reminiscent of the “Kosher Conspiracy?” illustration in the New Statesman – which featured a star of David impaling the Union Jack – a few years ago.

In both cases, the headline used a question mark: as if to imply that nobody should mistake this for racist propaganising, because the publications were only asking the question, you know…-

There are more variations on the “Kosher Conspiracy” theme at Harry’s Place, ending with the most usual of all suspects, the Nazis.

In the old days, that kind of thing used to be a violation of Godwin’s Law. That was before the moronic convergence started Godwinning themselves.

..to the problems in Darfur. Great idea!

Private military companies have had a hard time convincing the international community that privatizing peacekeeping would be as good for Darfur, and for the rest of the world, as for their industry. In part that’s because of the mixed reputation their work in Iraq has earned them and because the explosive growth of the industry has raised fears that security contractors working for the US government in Baghdad (and post-Katrina New Orleans) could become bona fide armies for hire. But the discomfort also has deeper roots, in the complicated history of private intervention in these kinds of conflicts. When Kofi Annan was UN undersecretary general for peacekeeping, he explored the option of hiring the South African private military company Executive Outcomes to aid in the Rwandan refugee crisis. He ultimately decided against the option, declaring that ”the world is not yet ready to privatize peace.”

They world is not ready to internationalize it either. When genocide strikes, the international communty does bupkus to stop it.

More fundamentally, many believe that the international community has a special responsibility to take on problems such as Darfur-and that outsourcing humanitarian interventions to the private sector is just another way of sidestepping the hard political debates that should take place in public.

But the abstract ideal of an engaged international community might seem a rarefied consideration in light of the realities on the ground.

“This came up a long time ago. People were saying that if we use private sector in the Congo, the international community will never get its act together,” says industry spokesman Doug Brooks. ”But that was 3 million dead Congolese ago. The international community isn’t going to wake up no matter how many people you kill. I think that it would be a good idea for the international community to get its act together. But we’ve got to find another way.”

Everybody and their dog knows that the UN doesn’t care about stopping genocide. So, why do they object when someone else is willing to make the effort?

Because private contractors are far more cost-effective than the UN.

The industry also claims that it’s far cheaper than its multilateral or military counterparts. ”We offer the ability to create a right-sized solution-which creates a cost savings right off the bat,” says Taylor. By contrast, Brooks notes, ”NATO is insanely expensive; it’s not a cost-effective organization. Neither is the [African Union]. Private companies would be much, much cheaper. When we compared their costs to most UN operations, we came up with 10 to 20 percent of what the UN would normally charge.”

If the Sudanese do hire private contractors, expect a lot of holier-than-thou bloviating from the UN and their supporters. When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

Airbus thinks that airline passengers haven’t been abused enough lately. Their proposal to remedy the situation – people should stand up for the whole flight.

Fausta is not amused.

Dean Esmay recommends this Popular Mechanics article “Crunching the Numbers on Alternative fuels.

Just glancing at the graphic comparison chart (pdf), it’s interesting to note that coal-generated electricity and compressed natural gas are already cheaper than oil.

It’s a pretty good article, but I agree with Dean. They should have included the greenest form of electricity generation – nuclear:

They also state: “Only 2.3 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable resources….” Presumably, they’ve fallen for the old trick of believing that nuclear energy is non-renewable, when in fact it is highly renewable. It gives off far fewer pollutants than most forms of power generation too, including solar–and yes, that’s including the radioactive waste.

If were intelligent, we’d be drawing 90% of our electricity from nuclear, with fuel provided by highly protected breeder reactors to the rest of the non-breeder reactors in the country (and world). It would make 100% electric vehicles much more practical and economical, and would help spur hydrogen fuel cell vehicle development too.

Sadly, most Americans remain deeply fearful of nuclear power

If only we could be as bold as the French. Seriously…

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