Links for the Week – March 18/06

Midday sandstorm in Artux, China, this week. Photo from People’s Daily.

Environment and Health:

China Premieres the Next Form of Ecological Disaster: China is now being wracked by sandstorms, due to its negligent land, water and soil management. These storms (see picture above) have hit several parts of the country this week and are spreading. Consequences: respiratory illness, further destruction of plant and animal life, damage to machinery. And you thought acid rain was bad.

Drug Risks the System Missed: An important article and table from Consumer Reports shows 12 US FDA-approved drugs that pose substantial health risks. If you’re using them, beware.

Global Meltdown: In this week’s New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the just-published book Field Notes from a Catastrophe, explains how scientists and simulations have vastly underestimated the future impact of global warming, specifically the impact of the melting poles and the resultant changes in ocean currents on coastal flooding and local climates.

Alberta Tar Sands Development Linked to Rare Cancer and Auto-Immune Epidemic: As if the environmental damage weren’t bad enough, health officials in First Nations communities near tar sands operations are now reporting an epidemic of auto-immune system diseases and an outbreak of an extremely rare and untreatable cancer. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

US Politics:

Media Try to Pretend They Know What’s Happening in Iraq: An extraordinary series of articles by journalist Orville Schell running in Salon (part one, part two) tells how the media, for their own safety, are bunkered up in Iraq and unable to get any clear idea what’s really happening outside their concrete-and-steel ‘Bremer Walls’. Their hired Iraqi reporter surrogates are their only connection with the hell that is going on outside the compound, and the situation, they say, is much worse than it was even two years ago.

Democrat Ousted by Party Machine Lampoons Party: Democrat Paul Hackett, who was dumped by the party’s brass in favour of a more conservative candidate, participated in a hilarious parody on The Daily Show. Watch it on Crooks & Liars. Thanks to Make Them Accountable for the link.

When Satire Cuts Too Close to the Truth: The Daily Show did an ‘expose’ this week on the so-called ‘hunting’ that t*rds like Cheney engage in. The reporter visited a hunting ‘ranch’ where birds are bred and caged for life, selected his ‘catch’ from a menu, and then showed how the birds are buried under brush until they’re ready to be released for their two seconds of freedom before the ‘customer’ shoots them at close range. Horrifically unsettling. Criminal. Cruel slaughter as sport. And we claim to be civilized. I was so angry I couldn’t sleep for two days.

Money Trumps Ideology in Bush Relations with Latin America: The NYT reports that Bush will no longer refuse to sell weapons of mass destruction to Latin American countries that don’t promise to indemnify all Americans from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Of course, if they actually do prosecute Americans through the International Criminal Court, they will probably have to use those weapons to defend themselves from Bush.


Using Google More Effectively: Ten useful tips from last December by ‘pcguy’ Peter Grad: Using the ~,-, and * symbols, Google’s cache, phonebook and reverse lookup, the define, site:, and image: commands, and Google toolbars. Thanks to my colleague Gordon Vala-Webb for the link.


Biomimicry: Learning How Nature Makes Things Work: A book by Janine Benyus, Biomimicry, is an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs looking to be, and stay, innovative. Its chapters explore, in detail and in practical terms, how to learn from nature in food production, harnessing energy, manufacturing, health care, education, collaboration and entrepreneurship. Don’t start a business without it. The website is also full of useful ideas and resources, and its design is gorgeous.

The ‘Equalizer Slider’ Approach to Innovation: Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users tweaks the Blue Ocean Strategy‘s ‘strategy canvases‘ technique (using the model of sliders on an audio signal equalizer instead of a ‘canvas’) and adds some useful ideas on ‘finding new sliders’ (new ways to differentiate your business), such as borrowing from other industries, brainstorming and analogy. She and I still disagree on whether the best innovations start with customers (she says no, I say yes). Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

Quote for the week:

“The Abramoff affair is not just a Republican or non-partisan scandal. It’s simply the moment’s most visible excrescence of a truly national scandal: the fearful domination of private money over the publicinterest.” — Hendrik Hertzberg

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