Saturday Links of the Week – Dec. 9/05

Colourful regular winter visitors at our bird feeder yesterday: chickadees, juncos, grosbeaks, nuthatches and cardinals.

The usual weekly mix of the profane and the ridiculous:

China Watch: Since my recent article calling for a boycott of Chinese products, I have been besieged with hate mail and worse (and yes, someone has translated the messages sent to me in Chinese). I’m unrepentant, and the news from China (and that’s just the news that gets out) continues to justify my arguments. We are just learning that up to 20 unarmed Chinese protesters were shot to death last week by a police mob when the protesters dared to complain about the seizure of their land for yet another dirty coal-fired power plant. And, ironically, the same day there was yet another coal mine explosion in China, with 74 killed and 32 more missing this time around. The UN last week also denounced the widespread use of torture (notably electric shock, sleep deprivation and submersion in sewage), indefinite internment without trial, and forced labour camps in China. The report also noted the ‘culture of fear’ and vast restrictions on the scope of interviews and visits meant that the investigation was largely limited to what Chinese authorities wanted the team to see.

The Costs of Asymmetry and the Death of the Web: Doc Searls and the gang that understands Internet technology much better than I do explains the delicate balance that will be needed to simultaneously do two things: Open the ‘online’ market so that small and home office businesses can use bandwidth to produce, not just consume, and compete head-to-head with big corporations that have their own technology infrastructure, and, at the same time, prevent the phone and cable company oligopoly from devising and ramming through regulations that would charge ‘freeloaders’ (Google, Microsoft, AOL, Skype, and of course you and me) by the gulp for use of ‘their’ bandwidth, effectively killing the Internet. This is important stuff, everyone. We need to stay on top of it.

Consumerism and the Myths of Surplus and Scarcity: A fascinating article from 2001 by Paul Lutus explains the enormous con job — the “big lie and the little lies” that the ‘consumer society’ is based on, and why we’ve fallen for them. Thanks to reader Brad Mills for the link.

Online Music Collaboration: Ninjam solves both the time latency problem and the problem with restricting music collaboration to MIDI devices. Anyone with a voice or an instrument of any kind can contribute, sending their ‘tracks’ into the mix in any format. Here’s how the latency problem is addressed: “The Ninjam client records and streams synchronized intervals of music between participants. Just as the interval finishes recording, it begins playing on everyone else’s client. So when you play through an interval, you’re playing along with the previous interval of everybody else, and they’re playing along with your previous interval. If this sounds pretty bizarre, it sort of is, until you get used to it, then it becomes pretty natural. In many ways, it can be more forgiving than a normal jam, because mistakes propagate differently.” Wow. Innovation lives. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

Great Lakes Next Eco-Collapse Zone?: As reported earlier, it is the ecological collapse of the Gulf Coast, and specifically the disappearance of the buffering wetlands, that has made the damage of hurricanes like Katrina as devastating as they have been. A new report says the same wetlands destruction threatens eco-collapse in the Great Lakes. Bush’s reply, through his EPA lackey? “We don’t have any more money to spend to rectify this”.

Pinter’s Nobel Speech: You’ve heard about it, pro or con. Allow yourself 45 minutes, watch it and decide for yourself. You don’t have to ask what I thought of it.

Quotes for the week, from Bill Maher:

“Stop taking stupid polls. Every little news program on every cable news network has their own dumb-ass online poll. And it’s always some ridiculous question like ‘Is John Bolton too much of an asshole, not enough of an asshole, or just the right amount of asshole?’ This is America. Knowing nothing and choosing one of two options isn’t a poll. It’s an election.”

“Leave the children behind, at least until they’ve learned something. A new survey finds that only half of America’s high schoolers think newspapers should be allowed to publish without government approval, and almost one in five said Americans should be prohibited from expressing unpopular opinions.”

“Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here’s how much men care about your eyebrows: Do you have two of them? Okay, we’re done.”

“Stop whining about gas prices. Gas costs a lot because we have to find it, bribe or kill the people who live on top of it, extract it, refine it, ship it, and pump it. You’ll pay $2 a gallon and you’ll like it because you know what the alternative is — riding on the bus with poor people. How come we have cars with GPS, satellite radio, and voice-activated Web access, and we still power them with the black goop you have to suck out of the ground? Hate to tell you this, folks, but gas doesn’t cost too much, it costs too little.”

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4 Responses to Saturday Links of the Week – Dec. 9/05

  1. raffi says:

    Dave,I just want to say thank you for your blog. I got interested in blogging only this spring. Wendy Farmer-O’Neil and Chris Corrigan inspired me to do the same.And now, I’ve started two blogs, both are connected with Open Space Technology.I am saving some of your most interesting material bit by bit for translation into Russian. I hope to make it available for the first (electronic) bulletin of the Open Space Institute-Russia, News from Open Space (Vesti iz Otkrytogo prostranstva).warmly,raffi

  2. Pearl says:

    Indeed gas does cost too little. Milk costs more a gallon and it is less far to transport, less to process.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks, Raffi & Pearl. Raffi — fascinating to read a bilingual blog with two different alphabets, and I wish you good luck with it.

  4. ht says:

    I agree that China has a long long way to go…but if they are frozen from international trade,what then..Should the world have stopped trading with the US when it cleared native americans from their lands and large numbers died ??

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