[Update Sep 19:] Finally!
Almost 6 months after Tesla received more than 300’000 (refundable) pre-orders for an affordable and exiting all-electric vehicle with a promised range of 350 km, BMW’s senior management decided they had to skip a trade show to finally settle the question on wether or not to continue to invest in electric cars. Why does this question arise? Because apparently, their decisively ugly and technologically mediocre1 i3 didn’t sell very well. Reuters broke the news:
BMW’s management board is skipping the Paris Motor Show to hold talks aimed at breaking a deadlock over whether to produce new electric cars, including a battery-powered Mini, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Executives across the industry predict electric cars will increasingly gain mainstream acceptance among customers thanks to advances that make batteries get cheaper and more powerful and the VW emissions scandal, which has sparked a regulatory backlash against diesel-engine vehicles.
But BMW has been torn about whether to accelerate development of new electric cars, given its expensive early investments into the area which resulted in only lackluster sales of its i3, which saw only 25,000 deliveries last year.
While VW is understandably and deservedly suffering a lot for their dieselgate cheating, it seems that they finally understood the problem and will push EVs. Meanwhile, BMW believes that we will continue to use cars running on fossil fuels forever.
What’s your plan BMW? EVs will not take over the world tomorrow, but do you truly think they will still be (close to) irrelevant in 2025? 2050? By the end of the century? German luxury carmakers used to be way of the curve2 – the fact that I cannot name a single German thoroughbred EV that I’d buy right away (if money wasn’t an issue) is chastening.
Almost 60 years ago, post-war Europe started an experiment to see whether peaceful existence would be possible in the long term. I personally consider the result of this experiment, today’s European Union1, a tremendous success. Visa- and even passport free travel within most of the member states, cheaper vacations and reduced cost of doing business because there’s no need to pay FX fees, reduced and soon completely abolished roaming fees, passenger rights. Also, peace – for the longest consecutive period in centuries.
Today, the people of the UK decided to start another experiment to see whether they’ll be better off on their own, without the perceived dictatorship of Brussel’s bureaucrats2.
An important difference between those experiments is that the former is based on cooperation and consensus, while the latter is focused on exclusion and new borders – not only between countries. Consensus doesn’t mean everybody will be happy all the time – but it means that we’ll make an effort to consider different opinions and requirements. The campaign that led up to today’s referendum left Britain utterly divided – unfortunately it’s much easier to divide people than it is to unite them. Especially, if you do not feel bound by the truth3 and prefer to use racist and xenophobic stereotypes instead. Now Scotland will want a new referendum on its own independence and who knows what’ll happen to Northern Ireland. Worst of all, there’s a huge generational divide between old people who mainly voted to leave but won’t face the consequences for as long as the younger generation, the majority of which voted to remain.
So what about the EU? It’s still an experiment without any recent precedence, so – naturally – not everything is going perfect. I am still hoping that it will remain strong and united. Until yesterday, we tried to make concessions to the UK in order to keep them in. Starting today we’ll have to negotiate strongly for the remaining 27 members. Making the exit too easy, will result in further exits and eventually the decay of the EU. The UK had its say4, now it’s time for the remainder of the EU to have its own. The fact that Cameron wants to delay the formal notice until October shows that the UK is still trying to play games. Out is out, now face the music.
About a year ago, a friend of mine told me about a challenge to travel 30 countries before turning 30 years old. The latter happens 30 days from today so I’m quite happy to announce that I’ve made my goal a few weeks back. So, where have I been?
To complete the alphabet, I’m missing:
SpaceX just completed their ORBCOMM-2 mission, deploying 11 satellites in low-earth orbit and managing to land the first stage for later reuse. The second part – even though it was just a „secondary test objective“ – is an amazing achievement, because it will greatly reduce the cost of sending things and people into space and will ultimate pave the way for even greater adventures. I wonder how much wear and tear results from such a trip and how often they can send a first stage up.
To see some genuinely excited people, watch the recording of their webcast!
Option 1 – Fines: Penalties and sanctions may hurt the company and they have the potential to avoid more cheating in the future, but they won’t be able to compensate for the damage already done. Even their suitability to discourage future misbehavior can be doubted. Not only because they put pressure on the company to somehow still deliver the results its shareholders expect, but also because fining an employer often means relieving employees from individual accountability and liability. 1
Option 2 – Recalling and fixing every affected car: Like penalties, this option inflicts financial damage on VW while doing little to make up for the damage already done. Each recalled car would marginally reduce the total future negative environmental impact but would at the same time externalize the cost of VW’s malpractice to the owners of the troubled cars. That’s also the reason why it’s really unlike to get a significant number of cars outfitted with any fix.
Option 3 – Burden VW with an environmental liability. And offer a way to pay actually pay it off: Weiterlesen
The East Wing Gallery was hosting an exhibition of works from the series „The Other Hundred – Entrepreneurs.“ The collection, initiated by the Global Institute for Tomorrow (GIFT), aims to provide a counterpoint to the various top 100 lists of famous and infamous people that are published by different magazines, most notably Forbes. Instead of focusing on high profile entrepreneurs that often are – or at least seem – to be detached from the realities the majority of mankind is facing, GIFT wants to look at the many forms of activities and ideas that people all over the world bring to life in order to make a living or the world a better place. While still not representative, the photos – and the stories behind them – provide a much better view on what entrepreneurship means. In connection with the exhibition, the East Wing Gallery was also organizing two „conversations on entrepreneurship.“ The first one took place Oct 3, 2015 and the second one week later. This post is a collection of thoughts from the first talk, not a complete summary. If you’re interested in the full event, you can find a (mediocre) audio recording here.
ISIS cannot kill all of us – keeping up with traffic related deaths would pose a serious logistical challenge for them. ISIS doesn’t even want to kill all of us. ISIS wants to make our lives miserable – we should not allow them to.
ISIS wants to make it impossible for millions of people to flee from their „caliphate“ by spreading doubt in supportive nations – we must not be quiet when politicians question the right for asylum or insinuate that refugees pose a serious thread to security.
ISIS wants us to horse trade actual freedom for a pretense of security – we cannot allow our parliaments and elected leaders to limit judicial oversight or to lock down open borders.
ISIS wants us to believe the same Orient vs Occident narrative that right-wing populists and extremists in Europe are trying to draw – we cannot forget that ISIS killed 43 people in Beirut just one day before the attacks in Paris and hundreds more before that in other places around the region.
ISIS has very limited power over our lives. Politicians, the media and ourselves have power. Whether we use this power to advance ISIS‘ cause is our own decision. Looking at mainstream media, Beirut is all but forgotten. On Friday we will find out how long Schengen will hold up.
[Update: DE – NL football game cancelled]
On Oct 3, 2015 US forces upon request of their Afghan allies bombed a MSF hospital in Kunduz, killing 22 patients and staff.
Imagine that same hospital had been struck by a suicide attack instead. A member of the Taliban drives up in a car full of explosives and detonates them. Bombs explode. People die. The only hospital of its kind in the region is partially destroyed. The world would be outraged and rightfully so.Now look at what happened – according to official statements anyway: One or more members of the Taliban were in that hospital, without explosives though. They didn’t have to bring any, because they were delivered by the US air force. Bombs explode. People die. The only hospital of its kind in the region is partially destroyed. Suddenly this is – somehow – considered to be a good thing.
As this article in The Intercept points out, the official story keeps changing. I guess because everyone involved knows how much of a screw-up this is, but nobody wants to lose face.
Still, some Afghan officials continued to suggest that the attack was justified. “I know that there were civilian casualties in the hospital, but a lot of senior Taliban were also killed,” said Abdul Wadud Paiman, a member of Parliament from Kunduz.
As per MSF, 7 adult patients were killed – even if all of them were Taliban, this is not „a lot.“ And while „senior“ implies „high-ranking“ it could just as well mean „old“ – or nothing at all. If there had been any high ranking Taliban killed in the strike, we would know names by now – security forces like bragging about their achievements too much.
If there’s anything good about this at all, it’s the fact that it was a hospital run by MSF, a well organized, connected and respected group with no intentions to shut up. With a bit of luck this story is going to blow up. Just like the hospital did.