Links for the Week – Apr 1/06


Politics, Economics and Society

Outsourcing Child Abuse: Katharine Weber in the NYT reviews the long history of children, working brutal hours in factories in inhumane and unsafe working conditions, who have died in avoidable factory fires. She ends with a plea to buy local.

Living High on the Brink of Poverty: A perceptive article by James Kunstler reveals how many Americans with high five and six figure incomes need every penny of it to pay accumulated debts and ongoing obligations, and would be devastated if (when) it suddenly stopped. Thanks to Jon Husband for the link.

Lots of Retraining but No Jobs: Louis Uchitelle in the NYT reports that retraining the millions of laid-off workers is a booming business, but there are very few job opportunities at the end of the line. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

Scott McLellan’s Turn to Insult Canadians: The current meeting of new Canadian PM Harper with Bush and Mexican President Fox has been an unmitigated disaster for him — Fox is now publicly insisting that Canadians, not Mexican bandits, slaughtered two Canadian tourists in Cancun last month, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, tainting the ongoing investigation. Bush has reiterated his plans to make all Canadian visitors to the US carry American-issued ID cards and be fingerprinted, and reaffirmed his refusal to repay the $5B court-ordered illegally-obtained US duties on Canadian softwood lumber (though he’s willing to “reopen negotiations” on the subject — picture Charles Manson refusing to accept the jury’s “guilty of murder” verdict but accept that he would be willing to try to negotiate some settlement). If that weren’t bad enough for Harper, US Press Secretary McLellan, supposedly prepped for the meeting, doesn’t even know who the Canadian PM is. Thanks to Michael Stickings for the link.

How the Rest of the World Sees the US: A unique and very valuable translator and news aggregator site, Watching America lets Americans discover what those in non-English speaking countries really think of them, and their government.

Science & Technology

The NYT Picks Up on Open Source: William Taylor (of Fast Company fame) explains Open Source to NYT readers, and specifically how internal and customer-facing “idea markets” could revitalize the innovation that oligopoly and top-down management have squelched.

Is Google Reducing Our Literacy Skills?: Edward Tenner in the NYT suggests that the Internet, and specifically search engines, are noticeably reducing young people’s proficiency in thinking critically and writing cogently. Present company excepted, of course.

Will All Entertainment Media Become Interactive?: Will Wright, creator of The Sims video game, writing in Wired, suggests they will. Whether that means ‘talk radio’ is the future of all entertainment media, or that the legacy of people sitting passively staring at a screen for hours will soon be history, is unclear. Thanks to Innovation Weekly for the link.

Bunchball Blurs the Distinction Between Games and Website Apps: The Bunchball site started with some novel games that you could play interactively with others on their site, but then they discovered you could port some of these little game apps to your own website or blog. Now the ‘games’ include an mp3 player app, an interactive photo-posting app, IM and chat apps, and a virtual pig that ‘travels’ among your site viewers’ machines and gives and collects ‘gifts’ to and from them. Thanks to Umair Haque for the link.

Buy Print Cartidges Cheap and Support Charity at the Same Time: That’s what LaserMonks lets you do. Thanks to reader Kenn for the link.

Unique Views of the World: See maps of the world ‘distorted’ to show proportional population, immigration, production, resources and lots more, using Worldmapper. Thanks to James Pargiter for the link.

All the Science News You Can Handle: That’s the promise of World Science, which includes a comprehensive science news aggregator and its own analyses and ‘close ups’ on topical science news.

…And Now For Something Completely Different

No News Here, Just Lovely Writing: Every once in awhile I stumble on speeches or essays that are so brilliantly crafted that I want to print them out and paste them on the fridge door as a reminder of what great writing is. This week I’ve found four, a veritable bonanza. Please click on the links below and read these, just for the sheer enjoyment of the prose:

What I Live For: The final chapter of James Kunstler’s book Home from Nowhere: Teaser: “I believe that rhetoric is undervalued these days. My own generation had much to do with devaluing it back in the 60s, when all public talk seemed mendacious. Part of what I do these days is an attempt to resuscitate rhetoric as an honorable and worthy feature of public life in this country. I am sensible that rhetoric sometimes changes the world.”

The World is Not Flat: Nora Ephron takes on the pomposity and self-adulation of Internet Conferences and their ‘panels’. Ouch, touchÈ. Teaser: “This is the new conventional wisdom: there’s a lot of advertising money out there, and all you have to do is provide “content” so that the ads have something to run alongside of. It crossed my mind that the actual definition of “content” for an Internet company was “something you can run an ad alongside of.” I found this a depressing insight, even though my conviction that all conventional wisdom about the Internet turns out to be untrue rescued me somewhat from a slough of despond on the subject.” Thanks to Doc Searls for the link.

Hello. By the Way. Whatever.: Nora again, this time satirizing (and defending) bloggers. Teaser: “And one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you’re saying is true for about as long as you’re saying it. Even if it’s not much.”

The Evolution of Truth: One of many stunning poems by NZ’s Pohangina Pete McGregor. I could spend all day on this amazing poet/photographer’s site. The photo aboveis his, too.

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3 Responses to Links for the Week – Apr 1/06

  1. Damn you, sir! You’ve added even MORE to my backlog of must-reads. Thanks for the wonderful links. My shrink says I should stay away from your site while I’m recuperating

  2. dave says:

    Yeah, lumber and Charles Manson. Same type of situation.

  3. Parge says:

    To give credit where it’s due, I got that Worldmapper link from :)

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