Links for the Week – Apr.8/06

poco - blue pen
Line drawing on the 1978 Poco album Legend, drawing by Hugh Macleod in last week’s post Blue Pen, New Yorker cartoon by Alex Gregory (I’m wearing a sweatshirt with his famous blogging dog cartoon as I write this), logos for gallery and a tail we could wag pet supplies.

Art & Culture

Less is More: I’m growing increasingly aware of simple art, its elegance, its power in conveying a message and capturing the attention of readers and (increasingly) online viewers. Five examples of this are above, four of them recent. In each, just a few lines are used to convey character, emotion, attitude, strength, humour, passion. I know this is not easy, but it’s a skill more of us could stand to learn. But how? I’ve looked in vain for online training in line drawing. Anyone have any ideas?

The Most Inspiring Novels: Men vs. Women: The UK Guardian has just compiled the results of a survey of men’s choices of most inspiring novels (last year they surveyed women’s choices). The lists are utterly different. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m not much impressed with either list (my list would have to include Ishmael or Story of B, The White Bone, Natural Selection, and Riddley Walker), though I like the women’s list better. Thanks to Fouro for the link.

Doc Searls on the Morality of Business: Some interesting thoughts from Doc over at Tim O’Reilly’s blog on how generosity in business is natural and essential. It’s not about reciprocity or altruism — it’s about being authentically human, something that is terribly difficult in most large, traditional organizations.


Breakfasting on Valvoline: In the spirit of The Oil We Eat, Chad Heeter tracks down the sources of the all the things that went into producing, transporting and preserving his healthy breakfast, and discovers that the energy expended, calorie-wise, is 7-10 times what goes into his tummy.

Techie Stuff

Listen to Your Blog by Synthesized Podcast: A new free service called Talkr creates voice synthesis podcasts of your blog, and allows users to ‘subscribe’ to up to three blogs using this mechanism. Setup is a bit cumbersome, but my blog is now up. The voice ‘reading’ it is female, pleasant and natural-sounding, but ‘she’ has trouble with contractions. It’s not clear to me if or how these podcasts can be listed in podcast directories. A novelty for now, but I think this has legs. Thanks to Tom Munneke for the link.

US Politics

Iraq Heads Into Civil War: As I predicted, Iraq is now headed inexorably towards civil war. Not only is the quagmire deepening, but according to the NYT, “Iraq is becoming a country that America should be ashamed to support, let alone occupy. In its capital, thugs kidnap and torture innocent civilians with impunity, then murder them for their religious beliefs. The rights of women are evaporating. The head of the government is the ally of a radical anti-American cleric who leads a powerful private militia that is behind much of the sectarian terror.” If you’re not convinced, read it from someone living there, River at Baghdad Burning, where the ‘government’ is now telling citizens not to let the police in unless they’re accompanied by occupying forces, because the police force is so thick with murderous sectarian militia. Murder victims are now being dumped in the streets with holes drilled in their skulls, just to ratchet up the fear a little more. And George Packer in the New Yorker reports on the Lesson of Tal Afar: If you really want to win the peace, you have put huge numbers, effort, patience and infrastructure investment into listening to the people and responding to their needs and concerns, as exemplary US military commander Colonel HR McMaster has done in the Tal Afar region. The cost? Trillions of dollars over generations, tens of thousands of likely US military and civilian deaths as they face the same risks that ordinary Iraqis face every day. Is Bush (or anyone else) prepared to incur that cost for an honourable peace? You know the answer to that. Civil war is inevitable, and US presence now is merely a useless provocation, a target for frustration, and a source of arms and money that actually helps the various insurgencies. Barry Posen in the Boston Review tells it like it is. A bloody, extended civil war that could expand to consume the entire Middle East, or a staggeringly expensive, risky, generations-long investment in building a new society in Iraq. That’s the choice. And it’s all on the shoulders of the Cheney-Bush regime. (Thanks to deconsumption for the Baghdad Burning link).

Letter-Writing on Coal and Abortion Rights: Coop America has a new campaign to try to counter Big Coal’s efforts to exploit the growing energy crisis to wreck the environment even more. And NARAL is trying to get a bill introduced that would guarantee abortion rights to US women, taking the issue out of the hands of the courts once and for all.

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2 Responses to Links for the Week – Apr.8/06

  1. Dave Pollard says:

    Oops,missed a ‘link thank you’. Thanks to Hugh Macleod for the link to the Doc Searls piece (and also, of course, for his amazing Blue Pen cartoon).

  2. Catnmus says:

    I’m not sure I can take the book thing seriously. They say they surveyed 500 men, but give no indication of how many women. The men’s list has 20 entries on it, and the women’s only five. Even though the article says something like, “on the whole, men between 20 and 50 don’t read fiction”. Something tells me they don’t much care what women like. At least they do admit that, since women are in general the consumers of fiction, maybe they ought to be running more publishing houses.

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