Actually, we might have a few Molochs

Gilead

Gun nuttery


Fig. 1. “Rally Against Gun Control ‘Come and Take it’ flag at the Minnesota State Capitol,” photograph by Fibonacci Blue [pseud.], April 28, 2018, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

You know, I don’t normally post old articles here. It’s not what the Irregular Bullshit is here for. But I just came across this one for the first time.

That horror [the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre] cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector.[1]

Here, yet again, in a single passage, I cannot do justice. Garry Wills wrote this article magnificently. If you can wrangle access, please, by all means do. And I’m going to be thinking about his analogy using Maloch—apparently, a forbidden biblical god for all you heathens (including me)—for guns for a while.

Of course, guns as Maloch, now apparently understood as the author of the First Commandment, is maybe a few mind-blowing bundles all dumped on us at once. Let me count the ways I can unpack thee. . . . Starting with, perhaps, Maloch joining the Holy Trinity (oh, and it looks like an appropriate word for a holy four might lie down a series of ratholes that I’m just not up for chasing down right now). Or maybe Maloch was an apparition, testing human faithfulness, projected by that forever-angry Old Testament God. Or, where do all these pagan gods and goddesses we are told not to worship come from, anyway? What sort of ‘divine’ power struggle is this where we humans must blindly pick sides? How is that even supposed to work? On a few levels, how is that even supposed to work?

Garry Wills, “Our Moloch,” New York Review, December 15, 2012, https://www.nybooks.com/online/2012/12/15/our-moloch/

Right-wing militias

Police White supremacist gangs


Fig. 2. Photograph by Lorie Shaull, April 1, 2021, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Angélica Cházaro, B. J. Last, and Taylor Riley, “DOJ Intervention Didn’t Stop Seattle’s Police Violence. It Gave Cops More Money,” Truthout, May 28, 2023, https://truthout.org/articles/doj-intervention-didnt-stop-seattles-police-violence-it-gave-cops-more-money/


Hydrogen cars

If like Toyota, you were holding out hope that hydrogen cars might be part of the mix in a renewable future:

Yes, climate change means that we need to stop using fossil fuels, which account for 80 per cent of global energy usage. The answer, critics say, is to use renewable and low-carbon electricity to power electric vehicles or heat pumps directly. That would be a better bet than going through the rigmarole of using renewable electricity to split water and generate “green” hydrogen, that can then be burnt in boilers.

For the most part, that is an accurate representation of the energy transition. Hydrogen is abysmally inefficient. Consider EVs, for example. Even when factoring in the 5 per cent lost in transport and 10 per cent as batteries charge and discharge, EVs can be up to 80 per cent efficient. In hydrogen vehicles, between 30 and 40 per cent of the starting renewable electricity is lost in making the fuel and a further 40 per cent in the fuel cell.[2]

Assuming these efficiency rates hold, Toyota is simply wrong about hydrogen.

Hydrogen’s poor efficiency means that it holds a compelling case as a decarbonisation solution only where direct electrification is not feasible — in industrial processes that require a chemical reaction, for instance.[3]

Terms to learn: “grey” hydrogen is produced from natural gas;[4] this has been proposed for steel production in southwestern Pennsylvania.[5] It is not, no matter what people might tell you, “green.”[6] If the methane that would be released in natural gas production is captured, the resulting hydrogen is “blue.”[7]

My issues with electric cars remain the same: I need longer range, more availability of charging stations (Tesla has put in a bank of charging stations, which probably only work for Teslas, at least for now,[8] at a nearby Giant Eagle and that would help, but requires doing business with Elon Musk, and I prefer to do business with grown-ups), and finally, frankly, batteries that are faster and a whole lot less fussy about charging.[9]

Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514


Illiberalism


Fig. 3. Photograph by Joachim F. Thurn, August 1991, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F089030-0003, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.

Kareem Fahim and Louisa Loveluck, “Erdogan wins reelection in Turkey after bitter campaign,” Washington Post, May 28, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/28/turkey-election-runoff-erdogan-kilicdaroglu/


  1. [1]Garry Wills, “Our Moloch,” New York Review, December 15, 2012, https://www.nybooks.com/online/2012/12/15/our-moloch/
  2. [2]Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514
  3. [3]Mark Meldrum, quoted in Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514
  4. [4]Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514
  5. [5]Jon Hurdle, “‘Green Steel’ would curb carbon emissions, spur economic revival in Southwest Pennsylvania, study says,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 18, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/business/powersource/2023/04/18/green-steel-curb-carbon-emissions-renewables/stories/202304170092
  6. [6]Stuart Braun, “The true cost of fracked US ‘freedom gas,’” Deutsche Welle, March 28, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/the-true-cost-of-fracked-us-freedom-gas/a-61283540; Camilla Palladino, “Lex in depth: the staggering cost of a green hydrogen economy,” Financial Times, May 28, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/6e22930b-a007-4729-951f-78d6685a7514; Hiroko Tabuchi, “For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts,” New York Times, August 16, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/climate/hydrogen-fuel-natural-gas-pollution.html
  7. [7]Hiroko Tabuchi, “For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts,” New York Times, August 16, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/climate/hydrogen-fuel-natural-gas-pollution.html
  8. [8]Hyunjoo Jin and Jarrett Renshaw, “Tesla to open U.S. charging network to rivals in $7.5 bln federal program,” Reuters, February 15, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/technology/tesla-open-us-charging-network-rivals-75-bln-federal-program-white-house-2023-02-15/
  9. [9]To me, the procedures required here are insane: Tom Jervis, “Electric car battery life: how to preserve your battery,” Driving Electric, March 22, 2023, https://www.drivingelectric.com/your-questions-answered/96/electric-car-battery-life-how-preserve-your-battery

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.