Links for the Week – Feb. 11/06

Photo: Melina Mara, Washington Post

Canada’s Dirty Oil: If you want to know the real reason that incoming Canadian prime minister Harper plans to renege on Canada’s commitment to Kyoto, the answer can be found in the Pembina Institute’s report on the horrific environmental cost of developing Alberta’s tar sands — all of it in private hands, much of it foreign-owned. The development, which has already destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of boreal forest (see photo above) and made the area Canada’s #1 source of air pollution, basically makes Canada’s Kyoto commitments unreachable. The oil companies were huge financial backers of Harper’s campaign, and now they want their payback. As Salon’s Andrew Leonard explains in a new report:

Tar-sands mining involves separating out the tar, or bitumen, from the sand. Where the deposits are relatively shallow, this involves the complete removal of everything on the surface — strip mining on a nearly inconceivable scale… All together, oil-sands mining is hugely energy intensive, causes massive air pollution, consumes vast amounts of fresh water, and results in gigantic concentrations of toxic “tailings” — the leftover sludge that remains after the bitumen has been successfully extracted.

The Real Nuclear Threat: India vs. Pakistan: James Coll in this week’s New Yorker describes just how close these nations came to a nuclear confrontation that would have cost hundreds of millions of lives, wit no one paying much attention, in the months after 9/11.

Turkish Blockbuster Portrays US as the Real ‘Bad Guys’: A hugely popular Turkish film Iraq: Valley of the Wolves depicts as its hero a Turkish Intelligence agent who travels to Iraq to successfully stop the atrocities of the rogue American soldiers. Thanks to Dale Asberry for this link and the one that follows.

The Fourteen Worst Corporate Evildoers: I think these are all on the boycott list, and there are no real surprises here, except the absence of ExxonMobil and Koch Industries from the list.

Don’t Tell Me What I Should Like: Another new service, Pandora, claims to be able to learn your musical tastes from your feedback. Like all its predecessors, including Amazon’s allegedly very costly one, it utterly fails, at least in my case. Someone needs to study why bloggers can predict so well what books their regular readers are likely to enjoy, while heuristic algorithms that can draw on millions of datapoints for pattern recognition do so abysmally. Someone has to get this right. A hint: non-fiction tastes should be much easier than either fiction or music to predict. Thanks to Innovation Weekly for this link.

How to Find Untapped Needs: Clay Christensen in HBR reinforces a point that I made last summer: Don’t analyze your market by age and gender demographics, and your products by attributes, analyze your marker by affinity (community of common wants and needs) and your products by the tasks they do. Men aged 35-49 don’t need a 1/8″ drilldo-it-yourselfers need a 1/8″ hole. It is at the intersection of affinity and tasks that you’ll find the untapped need, and all the clues you need on how to design theappropriate product and who to design it for.

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5 Responses to Links for the Week – Feb. 11/06

  1. Kevin says:

    According to the IMDB, the Turkish movie is based on “A record breaker on Turkish TV for three seasons and now a phenomenon”.

  2. Ed Dowding says: is like pandora, but actually works really very well.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Kevin: Heh…wonder what would happen if someone wanted to distribute it in the US?Ed: Based on a brief listen, this sounds very promising. Unfortunately most of the music it recommends for me they don’t have playing rights for.

  4. I’ve taken a look at Pandora over the last few days since Northern Voice.I have to say in my experience I’ve found it really cool. Maybe my taste in music isn’t as complicated as others?

  5. Raging Bee says:

    Funny thing about “Iraq: Valley of the Wolves” — everyone seems to be soft-pedaling the bit where Gary Busey plays an evil Jewish doctor who sells organs harvested from murdered Iraqi prisoners.

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