Cartoon by Charles Barsotti from The New Yorker. Buy his amazing cartoons here, or his new book here.
Global Politics and Economics:
War is the Health of the State: “It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them really to be converting them..Minorities are rendered sullen, and some intellectual opinion bitter and satirical. But in general, the nation in wartime attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war.” A wonderful essay on how power-mongers use war to stifle dissent and individuality, by Randolph Bourne — written almost ninety years ago. We never learn.
European Futurists See Dollar and Global Economic Collapse Imminent: A new economics group Europe 2020 is watching the data and sees the collapse moving to its second phase this month. Their report also tells you the seven consequences this will produce by year-end: accelerated collapse of the Dollar, internal social and political crisis in the US, Iran/USA/Israel military conflict, increased global inflation, stop of the process of trade and economic globalisation, accelerated emergence of new regional/continental blocs, and rebalancing of world assets’ comparative value. Thanks to reader Melinda Fleming for the link.
Planet of Slums: Excellent report by Mike Davis in New Left Review on the staggering demographics of flight to the cities worldwide and the global explosion of slums that offer their residents nothing — no economic viability or opportunity, no political representation, no essential services, no hope. A global tinder-keg. Thanks to Phil Jones for the link.
Global Food Supply Near Breaking Point: Industrial agriculture is capable of producing much more food than it does, but it is indebted to the ‘market economy’ and hence only produces what customers are willing to pay a handsome margin for. That margin does not go to the farmer, of course, who must make ends meet by selling off land bit by bit for suburban sprawl. It goes to the ConAgra/ADM/Cargill oligopsony that controls the market. When the poor can’t pay, the oligopsony reduces supply of food staples and instead produces luxury foods — highly processed, overpackaged, extravagantly expensive and wasteful to produce foods that the rich will pay for. As a consequence, just as supply and demand of oil is now teetering on a delicate balance of ‘just enough’ supply to prevent price spikes, by pushing all wells into overdrive, supply and demand of food teeters on a delicate balance of ‘just enough’ to keep both farmers from demanding higher prices and the oligopsony’s wholesale buyers from demanding lower prices. For the past five years, Stephen Leahy reports, global food supply has hence been dropping rapidly, and that, combined with global collapse of fish stocks, looming water scarcities, exhausted soils, soaring cost of oil-based agricultural chemicals, the vulnerability of homogenized, zero-diversity crops and farmed animals to disease, and the ravages of global warming, have resulted in the ironic situation that a world capable of producing much more food (if it reverted to local ownership, production and distribution models, permaculture, and basic foods rather than farmed animal foods), is now producing too little, and will be largely unable to produce more when it is needed. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link and the one that follows.
Dueling 9-11 Conspiracy Theories: Follow the dots from a Mexican flight with 5.5 tons of cocaine, to the disgraced US defense contractor Titan Corporation, to Abu Ghraib, to criminal congressman Duke Cunningham, to a store in Venice Florida owned by a mysterious Lebanese man named Makram Chams, to a demand by Chams for $22 million for work done for Titan in Saudi Arabia, to Zacharias Moussaoui, to Mohamed Atta, to a tall mysterious visitor dressed in Armani and shades, to Max Burge, the owner of Huffman Aviation that trained Atta to fly and who co-owned a gambling operation with Chams, to a trunk filled with gold. We will probably never know the truth, but this conspiracy theory claims the trail is made murky by a competing theory (the towers crumbled from the bottom, not where the planes hit; the plane that allegedly hit the Pentagon quickly disappeared without a trace) financed by arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. My head’s spinning.
Cargill Wrecking the Rainforest: Speaking of the global agribusiness oligopsony, Greenpeace charges Cargill with destroying the Amazon rainforest to grow soya to feed European farmed animals.
Bill Moyers Apologizes to Future Generations: Another great Moyers speech. Excerpt: “We’re sorry. We’re really sorry for the mess you’re inheriting. We are sorry for the war in Iraq. For the huge debts you will have to pay for without getting a new social infrastructure in return. We’re sorry for the polarized country. The corporate scandals. The corrupt politics. Our imperiled democracy. We’re sorry for the sprawl and our addiction to oil and for all those toxins in the environment. Sorry about all this, class of 2006. Good luck cleaning it up.”
Countering the Climate Change Skeptics: DeSmogBlog writes up and deconstructs the blather of global warming deniers.
Women’s Peer-to-Peer Services Network: Writer/healer Indigo Ocean has co-created Phone-Buddies.com, a mutual support network by which you trade the services you offer, hour-for-hour, for services of other women in the network. It’s like file-sharing for services, and it’s a great example of the Gift Economy at work. The give-and-take is not formally measured, but self-managed using the honour system. A wonderful, imaginative and very promising model.
Intuit’s Scott Cook on Innovation: Great notes from blogger Antonella Pavese on a recent talk by Cook about innovation. Thanks to Innovation Weekly for the link.
Create Your Own National Budget: France is laying out how they develop their budget on their website, and inviting citizens to see if they can do better than the politicians and civil service. Ah, the Wisdom of Crowds! Thanks to Collision Detection for the link.
Cutting Out the Bank Middleman, Continued: Further to my post last Saturday, Salon’s Farhad Manjoo explains the workings of Prosper.com, a virtual money-lending institution. This could have all kinds of benefits — most notably coming to grips with our addiction to debt, and combatting the rampant usury of financial institutions. Another step towards what I have predicted — business becomes a World of Ends, and those in the middle are toast.
What Makes a Blog Popular?: You want to know, just ask the readers of one. Over 100 absolutely amazing comments in this thread celebrating the soaring success of Kathy Sierra’s Creating Passionate Users. Reading through these is the best 90 minutes any new blogger (or blogger whose audience is not increasing) can spend. I’m going to use it next week to update the “blogosphere wants more of” list on my right sidebar. Brava, Kathy.
Canola Oil: Brilliant Healthy Innovation or Genetically Manufactured Scourge?: Well, both, it turns out. The erudite Umbra Fisk at Grist tells you why you should buy organic canola oil.
Pause for Thought:
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Hope — On the Balance of Probabilities
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Collapse Not Apocalypse
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Complexity and Collapse
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The Right to Die
CoVid-19: Go for Zero
The Process of Self-Organization
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Ask Yourself This
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This Body Takes Me For a Walk
The Only One Who Really Knew Me
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A Radical Non-Duality FAQ
What We Think We Know
Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark
Healing From Ourselves
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Nothing Needs to Happen
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Dave–Before you get all comfortable with canola oil, you might read this:http://www.westonaprice.org/knowyourfats/conola.htmlMary Enig, coauthor of the above and an biochemist, must be one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on the nutritional aspects of fats and oils. This is a far more thorough piece than the Fisk one that you cite.
On the 9/11 conspiracy, you may also want to readhttp://citizenspook.blogspot.com/2006/05/daniel-hopsicker-is-government-mole.html
European Futurists See Dollar and Global Economic Collapse ImminentSo… some small wacko group – calling themselves economists – makes a prediction about impending doom. Wow that’s new! Here’s another recent prediction (last week) by a slightly more respectable group – the OECD.http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=businessNews&storyID=2006-05-23T142754Z_01_L23702346_RTRUKOC_0_US-ECONOMY-OECD.xml&archived=FalsePARIS (Reuters) – Global economic growth is speeding up and has spread to weak spots such as Japan and Europe without sparking a surge in inflation so far, the OECD said on Tuesday.Chief Economist Jean-Philippe Cotis voiced concern, however, over high oil and commodity prices, which the OECD said were likely to stay high because of strong Asian demand despite a sell-off in markets in recent days.Growth in the 30 mostly industrialized economies of the OECD is forecast to expand 3.1 percent overall this year, up from 2.8 percent in 2005, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its Economic Outlook, a twice-yearly report.”The ongoing expansion is entering its fifth year,” it said.”Notwithstanding the headwinds from high and volatile energy prices, it is projected to continue and even broaden this year and next.”That echoed the International Monetary Fund, which in March forecast worldwide economic growth of 4.9 percent in 2006, the best in 30 years barring an exceptional year in 2004.
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I thought you might enjoy this excellent from the blog ‘Crawl Across The Ocean’ about people who complain that they are living in a “nanny-state”. For fun, Declan has converted some of the arguments against government action to reduce greenhouse gasses into conversations between a nanny and a child (or a parent and a child). They’re quite entertaining.http://crawlacrosstheocean.blogspot.com/2006/05/getting-climate-change-appeasers-to.html