Links for the Week – Jan.14/06

A long list this week, on four subjects, so I’ll try to keep the natter short:


Photoblogger Opens the Lens on Tajikistan: A remarkable blog, Tajikistan Travels, presents an astonishing portrayal of life in the destitute former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. Author Steven Buckley writes the following to accompany the photo above:

Nikolai Valentinov, 70 was in World War 2 and was employed on the Chernobyl clean-up operation. He now lives here with his wife Lapina. Due to severe cataracts he is virtually blind and is unable to claim the meagre pension (US$7 a month) to which he is entitled as his documents were stolen. Due to various factors and inability of the state to intervene, they live in a situation of downward spiralling poverty.

Poverty News in One Place: A new blog focuses exclusively on news about the endless war on poverty.

The Environment

Just Too Many People: British scientist Chris Rapley confirms that our planet can only sustainably support a third of the current population, and that attempts to reduce ecological footprint and impact without reducing human population are futile.

Time-Series Views of North America From the Ice Age: I mentioned Pollen Viewer earlier this week. If you didn’t look at it then, check it out now, and realize how fragile our climate really is and how the ‘native’ trees of each area have changed so dramatically over the last 21,000 years. Referenced in this week’s New Yorker as well. Remarkable. Watch how Florida has shrunk as the ice melted and water levels rose, and as its climate has changed from temperate (like that of Maine today) to sub-tropical.

Fine Tune Your Boycott List: IdealsWork rates companies that make consumer products on their social and environmental responsibility scores. Quite similar to Responsible Shopper, but using more detailed rating criteria. Two important caveats: There is no detail explaining the one-sun (poor) to five-sun (good) scores, as there is with Responsible Shopper. And look deeper than the misleading overall scores: IdealsWork ‘streteches’ the differences between companies so that in any comparison, the best company gets an overall five-suns and the worse one-sun. This leads to absurd conclusions like in garden supplies Monsanto, with mostly one-sun ratings, getting an overall four-suns because its competitors in that consumer products category are mostly worse.

Koch Industries Gets Even Worse: The huge, private, secretive, Bush-loving, environment-destroying conglomerate called Koch Industries just got even bigger and more dangerous by buying (for a mere $21B) Georgia-Pacific. You’ve probably never heard of them, which is how they like it, but as eco-destroyers they rank up there with ExxonMobil and Monsanto.

No Cat and Dog Fur: Heather Mills McCartney (yes, that McCartney), long-time champion of a global ban on landmines, is now working to get companies and countries to stop doing business with those (mostly in China) who use cat and dog fur in their products. Don’t visit this site if you’re squeamish.

Building Local Communities: A group in Nevada is using the Web to raise local consciousness about the value of community involvement, social and environmental responsibility, and buying local.

In Praise of Savages: A hilarious tongue-in-cheek column by Fred speculates on why we use the term ‘savages’ disparagingly. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

The Dickcissel Shows How Agriculture Changes Everything: A recent BBC documentary on birds showed the migration of the dickcissel, of which about 10 million remain, and which relies on air current updrafts, found over land masses only, for its long annual voyage. As a result, flocks of as many as a million birds can be seen over Panama during migration. At one time they went all over South America. But since the introduction of grains and sugar crops in Venezuela, they now cut short their trip and winter instead in massive numbers in small areas of that country, destroying the crops and inciting farmers to spray roosts of up to three million birds with toxic poisons.

And a Climate-Change Fungus is Killing Frogs: A fungus highly sensitive to climate change is exploding, and wiping out whole species of frogs in Central and South America in the process. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.


The Arts

Our Cultural Blindness: Watch a complete short film online that challenges our assumptions about racial and cultural tolerance. Terrific debut from young British filmmaker Nadia Aamer.

The Activist Art of Mary Mattingly: Artist Mary Mattingly’s work shows us a different way to see the world, and some possibilities to make it better. The photo above is from her amazing collection New Breeds.

The Poetry of Patrick Lane: Canadian poet Patrick Lane has written a wonderful new work about Christmas.


See Your Blog as a Mac User Does: iCapture allows Windows users to see screenshots of how their blog looks to those using the Mac’s Safari browser.

Dave’s Colossal Ego: Confirming my critics’ complaints, egoSurf confirms that I have one of the 50 largest egos online. Enter your name and your blog or website URL and see how you rank. Thanks, I think, to Dale Asberry for the link.

Talk to Others Reading Your Blog: QuickChat is a new browser plug-in that allows you to see who else is on the same blog or website you’re reading, and chat with them in real time.

Quotes for the Week:

In disturbing medical news, a new study of 1,000 Americans finds that obesity in the United States has gotten so bad that there actually were, upon closer scrutiny, only 600 Americans involved in the study.  — Dave Barry

All of us alive now are the most important human beings who have ever lived, because we’re determining the future, not just for a hundred years, but for a billion years. — Earth First’s Dave Foreman
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1 Response to Links for the Week – Jan.14/06

  1. Thank you for the wonderful links in this post. Reading your blog never fails to be educational.

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