|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Sunday, January 02, 2005
What the Bubble Got Right: Paul Graham's happy review of the bubble, from Sept 2004. "When one looks over these trends, is there any overall theme? There does seem to be: that in the coming century, good ideas will count for more. That 26 year olds with good ideas will increasingly have an edge over 50 year olds with powerful connections. That doing good work will matter more than dressing up-- or advertising, which is the same thing for companies. That people will be rewarded a bit more in proportion to the value of what they create. If so, this is good news indeed. Good ideas always tend to win eventually. The problem is, it can take a very long time. It took decades for relativity to be accepted, and the greater part of a century to establish that central planning didn't work. So even a small increase in the rate at which good ideas win would be a momentous change-- big enough, probably, to justify a name like the "new economy.""
My favorite pithy quote: "Nerds tend to eschew formality of any sort. They're not impressed by one's job title, for example, or any of the other appurtenances of authority.. I thought it would be useful if I explained what a nerd was. What I came up with was: someone who doesn't expend any effort on marketing himself." (See also Paul's classic Why Nerds are Unpopular). 10:33:07 PM
Iraq's civilian dead get no hearing in the United States: Columbia's Jeffrey Sachs is concerned about civilian deaths in Iraq, and gets an article pulished -- in Lebanon's Daily Star, apparently not picked up elsewhere except by peace groups. "Evidence is mounting that America's war in Iraq has killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and perhaps well over 100,000. Yet this carnage is systematically ignored in the United States, where the media and government portray a war in which there are no civilian deaths ..
In late October, the British medical journal Lancet published a study of civilian deaths in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began. The sample survey documented an extra 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths compared to the death rate in the preceding year, when Saddam Hussein was still in power .. America's public reaction has been as remarkable as the Lancet study, for the reaction has been no reaction. On Oct. 29 the vaunted New York Times ran a single story of 770 words on page 8 of the paper. The Times reporter apparently did not interview a single Bush administration or U.S. military official. No follow-up stories or editorials appeared, and no Times reporters assessed the story on the ground. Coverage in other U.S. papers was similarly meager. The Washington Post, also on Oct. 29, carried a single 758-word story on page 16. Recent reporting on the bombing of Fallujah has also been an exercise in self-denial. ..
Violence is only one reason for the increase in civilian deaths in Iraq. Children in urban war zones die in vast numbers from diarrhea, respiratory infections and other causes, owing to unsafe drinking water, lack of refrigerated foods, and acute shortages of blood and basic medicines in clinics and hospitals ..
The U.S. is killing massive numbers of Iraqi civilians, embittering the population and many in the Islamic world, and laying the ground for escalating violence and death. .. The American fantasy of a final battle, in Fallujah or elsewhere, or the capture of some terrorist mastermind, perpetuates a cycle of bloodletting that puts the world in peril. Worse still, American public opinion, media, and the recent election victory of the Bush administration have left the world's most powerful military without practical restraint." 6:17:06 PM
Chilean Pigs Cut Emissions, Helps Japan, Canada: "In this case, a Chilean pork producer is eliminating methane fumes from animal waste and selling the resulting "credits" to Japanese and Canadian utilities, requiring that much less of them as they reduce carbon dioxide emissions at their coal- and oil-burning power plants. ..
Industrial pork operations usually collect excrement in pits where it decomposes naturally, emitting methane into the open air. But Chilean food producer AgroSuper, spotting the Kyoto opportunity, installed $30 million in technology to handle the waste of 100,000 pigs, covering pits with vast plastic sheets and drawing off the methane, some to flare, some to use in generators to power farm operations.
Though less prevalent than carbon dioxide, methane is a more potent greenhouse gas. Each ton of contained methane earns AgroSuper some 20 "CERs" - certified emission reductions equivalent to 20 tons of carbon dioxide. The Chilean agribusiness will divide 400,000 CERs per year for nine years between the Japanese and Canadian companies. Wharton estimated this would meet 10 percent of TransAlta's needs for reductions. A credit currently sells on the new European carbon market for about $10...
A firm called CO2e ("carbon dioxide equivalent"), a subsidiary of the New York financial house Cantor Fitzgerald, brokered the AgroSuper deal and is developing another involving Brazilian power plants using sugar cane, a renewable fuel less carbon-heavy than coal or oil. China, meanwhile, is working to qualify more than 500 projects for salable credits.
Environmentalists worry that a flood of questionable projects may win U.N. certification as Kyoto comes into force in 2005... Santiago lawyer Sergio Vives, who helped negotiate the AgroSuper deal, defends it as a real reduction. "It's quite clear they probably wouldn't have gone ahead with this technology" - and methane would still rise into the atmosphere - "without an incentive like the CDM," he said. ..
A Florida-based firm, AgCert, is installing methane-capture technology at 30 pig farms in Brazil. In one Brazilian state alone, Minas Gerais, 3.4 million pigs produce 7 million tons of waste per year - a lot to work with to keep lights burning in the credits-hungry north" 5:27:12 PM
Israelis hasten land grab in shadow of wall: Even today, settlements are expanding, with US blessing: "The bulldozers were preparing the ground for hundreds of new homes, despite the Israeli government's claim that it is not expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Like other building work along the route of the barrier, it seems to be an attempt to ensure that the land between the fence and the 1967 border remains in Israeli hands in any final agreement with the Palestinians. .. [Zufim and] at least five other sites along the barrier have settlement work in progress. Israeli human rights groups say the government appears to be racing to fill in the gap between the barrier and the Israeli border before a US team arrives next year to mark out the final limits of settlement expansion. ..
Yehezkel Lein, a researcher for another Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, said the military government in the occupied territories had issued permits for the work. He added: "In the plan for Zufim there is an extension to the north of the settlement that was already approved. There is also another expansion to the east. But there is no territorial contiguity between Zufim and the new construction, so it is really a new settlement." ..
Last week the US national security council adviser on the Middle East, Elliott Abrams, told a closed meeting of Jewish leaders that Washington saw settlements to the east of the barrier as ultimately intended for removal. But he said Israel would be allowed to hold on those to the west, which include Zufim. " 5:22:41 PM
Tsunami cisaster may be Sweden's Sept. 11: "The confirmed Swedish death toll is 59, but more than 3,500 Swedes who were vacationing in Thailand and Sri Lanka are missing. Authorities here believe a majority of them are dead. .. Police said that 10,000 out of an estimated 25,000 Swedes who were vacationing in Asia had arrived home in the last three days. As many as 50 or 60 of them were young children whose parents were dead or missing, police officials said. .. ''You'd have to say we haven't seen this level of loss of life since our last war in 1814," he added, referring to a conflict between Sweden and Denmark." 2:18:11 PM
Saddam planned the current insurgency in Iraq:
"A trove of secret intelligence reports shows how Saddam Hussein planned the current insurgency in Iraq Long before the invasion that toppled his regime was even launched .. I
n the fall of 2002, several months before the United States and its allies invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein dispatched more than 1,000 security and intelligence officers to two military facilities near Baghdad where they underwent two months of guerrilla training, according to a secret U.S. military intelligence report. Anticipating his defeat, intelligence reports show, the Iraqi dictator began laying the foundation for an insurgency as Washington worked to convince the United Nations and allies around the world that Saddam had to go." 2:13:59 PM