Tuesday, April 20, 2010

last useful links: Israel, world population myth, political assassination

On Israel:

I highly recommend Shlomo Sand's The Invention of the Jewish People. I thought I knew Israel's history fairly well, but one fact especially surprised me. Sands is quoted in Shattering a 'national mythology' - Haaretz - Israel News: 'I started looking in research studies about the exile from the land - a constitutive event in Jewish history, almost like the Holocaust. But to my astonishment I discovered that it has no literature. The reason is that no one exiled the people of the country. The Romans did not exile peoples and they could not have done so even if they had wanted to. They did not have trains and trucks to deport entire populations. That kind of logistics did not exist until the 20th century. From this, in effect, the whole book was born: in the realization that Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled.'

Juan Cole has a nice summary of facts everyone interested in Israel should know: Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelist. Also, Al-Khalil/ Hebron and Jerusalem Protests Point to the Dangers of Nationalizing Sacred Space, some background on a worrisome development. And a good look at The Map: The Story of Palestinian Nationhood Thwarted After the League of Nations Recognized It.

On population:

"The Coming Population Crash": The overpopulation myth - Nonfiction - Salon.com: "Global environmental problems are not, and will not, be mainly a problem of overbreeding Indians or Africans. First, their birthrates are coming down fast, with Indian women, for instance, having fewer than three children on average today; and even African women have falling fertility. And secondly, because overbreeding -- in the sense of women having more than replacement levels of children -- is almost entirely in countries with a very low per-capita footprint on the planet. For instance, the carbon emissions of one American is the same as that of 20 Indians, 30 Pakistanis, 40 Nigerians and 250 Ethiopians. If, as economists suggest, the world economy will grow by 400 percent by 2050, then no more than a tenth of that will be a result of population growth. The issue is consumption, and that puts the onus right back on the conspicuous consumers to do something about their economic systems, not least before more developing countries follow the same model."

On political assassination:

Schneier on Security: The Effectiveness of Political Assassinations: "...killing leaders of a religious terrorist group seems to increase the group's chances of survival from 67 percent to 83 percent."


  1. One point about overpopulation- it seems to be a universal truth, across all cultures, that the higher the standard of living, the lower the birthrate. There are many reasons, and they vary by location; from the need to pay for higher education making large families too expensive, new found freedoms (especially for women), etc. But the better off a country becomes, the lower the population growth- to the point where most of the G-8 actually has a negative growth rate and must depend upon immigration. As the third world develops, world population growth willdrop off.

  2. The pressure on women to ignore any career aspirations and get married and have babies is huge in the poorer parts of America. My guess is that it is even worse in poorer countries.

    If being allowed/encouraged to have a career is an upper class privilege, I'll take it.


  3. CC, most poor families expect the woman to work. The woman not working is a privilege of the middle and upper class. That's been true for decades.

    My mother worked for as long as I can remember.

  4. Coming from the upper middle class, women are expected to pursue a career, raise the kids & run the household. They are permitted to hire housekeepers & nannies as necessary, but staying home & being a homemaker is not considered a viable career option. The pressure is all in the opposite direction, from what I've experienced.

    I'm back in school, finishing a degree that is paid for, and will continue to grad school, so I can have a career working with children, which is really what I could have done with my own & less bother, but it's not socially acceptable.

  5. I think being a housewife is mostly a middle of the middle class occupation at this point and it's pretty rare even there because that's the demographic that's currently being squished out of existence. My mother could be a housewife* because my father made enough money as a blue collar worker to support a family of four. For people in my generation and younger, that just isn't going to happen. Sucks to be us.

    On the other hand, people from poorer communities and households do often start having children at a much younger age. If you have your first baby when you're fifteen or sixteen,** your chances of having a 'career' rather than a series of unstable jobs is much lower. Women and girls in poorer communities often are encouraged to focus on family over career even when they don't have an oopsie in high school.*** Dead-end jobs are easier to deal with than steep, uncertain career paths that start in debt. And, you know, babies are all cute and stuff.

    *Actually, she's an artist who never made any money... but I'm not sure there's much difference when it comes right down to it.

    **One of my cousins started when he was fourteen. I think he's got four or five kids now.

    ***Part of that has to do with the crap eduction. If you don't even know what careers are out there, it's fucking hard to figure out how to get into one.