Links for the Week — August 26, 2006

conservation economy
A bumper crop of interesting links this week — thanks mainly to my generous and well-read readers and the fact that I’m finally starting to get caught up on four months of backlogged e-mails:

Environment and Energy:

Buying Green: Green Home offers well-researched, environmentally-friendly (but alas, definitely not cheap) products for your home. Thanks to Craig De Ruisseau for the link.

Outsourcing Pollution: Andrew Leonard in Salon’s wonderful HTWW debunks the myth that once a nation becomes affluent it cleans up its environmental act — explaining that it’s cheaper to export the pollution to poorer nations.

Alliance for Better Food and Farming: A cornucopia of information from the UK on efforts to find a better way than toxic chemical- and additive-soaked over-processed food, unsustainable agriculture, GM frankenfoods and horrific factory farming.

The Definitive Argument Against Nuclear Power ‘Solving’ the End of Oil: The always-wonderful Irish sustainability site Feasta has it. Thanks to Scruff for the link.

Why to Live a Radically Simple Lifestyle: Ten reasons to live well within your means, housing-wise. And an explanation of the spiritual significance of Ted Trainer’s The Simpler Way of living. Thanks to David Parkinson for these links, and for the one that follows.

A Pattern Map of a Sustainable Economy: David Parkinson explains Christopher Alexander’s intriguing map: (reproduced above) “High on the gee-whiz scale. I hope that Alexander is enjoying his late-career lionization (albeit everywhere except in his main field of work, architecture, where he seems to be considered a seditious and dangerous figure). I can’t pick up a book lately about house design without seeing him cited (oddly, these books also heavily cite Le Corbusier, who is Alexander’s preferred whipping boy for the excesses of modernism). And here the idea of a collection of loosely related ‘patterns’ is being applied to sustainable society. Something in his metaphor or presentation (or optimism) seems to really inspire people trying to map out unknown territory… maybe the appeal is in the methodology, which is sloppily bottom-up & inductive, with taxonomies that emerge slowly by the accretion of specific cases, then congeal into more-or-less fixed systems over time.”

The NYT Groks Intentional Communities: Andrew Jacobs explains how 1960s-era communes have evolved into model intentional communities, and what this means for our future. Thanks to Dave Davison for the link.

Business and Complexity:

Measuring Results by Telling Stories: An interesting approach to results determination that embraces complexity is the Most Significant Change approach, which consciously percolates success and war stories up from the bottom to decision-makers. Lots more interesting stuff on this site too, which I’m adding to my business blogroll. Love the list of 8 Ways to Avoid Complexity. If you want to try out MSC, sign up here.

The Universe Keeps Getting Stranger: An interesting NYT article on new learnings about dark matter, and what we still don’t know about dark energy.

Doctors Try Self-Experimentation: The London Times reports that even the medical profession is learning that when it comes to complex systems like the human body, we’re each a unique sample of one. Thanks to Seth Roberts’ self-experimentation forum for the links (you’ll also find my self-experimentation progress reports there).

How to Make a Decision Like a Tribe: Indigenous Wisdom about decision-making in complex situations, an old but still timely article from Fast Company, via Mike Bell.

Another Book and Approach to Creating Your Own Enterprise: Pamela Slim is writing a book on how to start your own business. It’s a lot more orthodox in approach than my book The Natural Enterprise, and I don’t agree with everything she says, but we need all the books and help we can get on this subject, so brava Pamela. Thanks to David Parkinson for the link.

Robert Sapolsky Explains Why Some People Handle Stress Better Than Others: A fascinating, 80-minute-long lecture merges research on how brain cells are killed by stress with research on wild primate behaviour. Bottom line:

  • Four factors predispose us to handle stress badly (i.e. get sick because of it): (a) lack of control over stressful situations (learned helplessness), (b) lack of an outlet to discharge stress (such as displacement aggression), (c) lack of predictability of stressful situations (frequency of unpleasant surprises), and (d) lack of support and other social coping mechanisms for stress.
  • While low social rank correlates with poorer handling of stress, the sort of society/environment in which we live, how we personally experience stress, and our personality (temperament, sociability, adaptability, resilience — Let-Self-Changeability) correlate much more strongly.
  • The traits that excellent stress managers exhibit include (a) optimism and perspective in determining the social meaning of stress situations (not overreacting), (b) ability to take the initiative and exercise self-control in coping with stress, (c) ability to assess the stress situation accurately, (d) availability of social outlets to discharge the stress, (e) affluence (as it provides access to stress management resources and assistance), and most important (f) sociality (ability and propensity to seek comfort and support with others, rather thanretreating into isolation when stress occurs).

Fascinating stuff, which, for obvious personal reasons, I’ll have more to say about later this week. Thanks to Avi Solomon for the link.


Creating and Sharing Presentations & Graphics Online: Gliffy looks pretty cool. Thanks to Emanuel Sidea for the link.

Using Mindmapping as a Compositional Aid: A documentary filmmaker uses mindmapping software to craft a film about, ironically, the lack of innovation and creativity in the commercial music industry. Thanks to Innovation Weekly for the link.

Just for Fun:

Bulwer-Lytton 2006 Contest Winners: For worst first sentence in a novel in different genres. Absolutely hilarious. Thanks to Carroll McNeill for the link.

This entry was posted in Working Smarter. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Links for the Week — August 26, 2006

  1. Yule Heibel says:

    That “How to Make a Decision Like a Tribe” article in Fast Company shows just how particularly retarded the business community can look when it thinks it’s embracing something ostensibly “new,” which has, however, been known of/ about for ages. See The Iroquois and the Origins of American Democracy as well as Indian Roots of American Democracy. Spare me the new age woo-woo, this is Ben Franklin stuff all the way (yay, Ben!). It also shows, by the way, how much more progressive American democracy was (?, yeah: ?… sad, eh?) compared to its neighbouring Canadian variant, which to this day is mired, absolutely mired, in British-style “interrupt as much as you can” style of parliamentary “debate.” After 17 years in the US, seeing Canadian democracy in action again in the Canadian parliament was embarassing! It’s all a game of he who shouts loudest gets heard, which has more to do with posturing than with substance. Pass the talking stick, already…

  2. Yule Heibel says:

    Re. the Sapolsky piece on stress and the brain, you should also take a look at The Reinvention of the Self in the Feb. issue of Seed Magazine. The article focusses on Elizabeth Gould’s work, which has shown that neurogenesis is a fact. She was a student of Bruce McEwen’s, who, together with Sapolsky worked on the issues your link addresses. QUOTE: “In one particularly poignant experiment, male vervet monkeys bullied by their more dominant peers suffered serious and structural brain damage. Furthermore, this neural wound seemed to be caused by a decrease in the same trophic factors that Duman had been studying. From the perspective of the brain, stress and depression produced eerily similar symptoms. They shared a destructive anatomy.” UNQUOTEI think you might really enjoy this article, since some of Gould’s breakthroughs are based on …bird-brains! (Well, by that I mean that you’ve often posted about birds — you seem to like them, ahem!) QUOTE: “But the final piece of the puzzle came when Gould heard about the work of Fernando Nottebohm, who was, coincidentally, also at Rockefeller. Nottebohm, in a series of beautiful studies on birds, had showed that neurogenesis was essential to birdsong. To sing their complex melodies, male birds needed new brain cells. In fact, up to 1% of the neurons in the bird

  3. Pamela Slim says:

    Hi Dave:Thanks so much for mentioning my blog in this week’s links. I appreciate the support and agree with you – different perspectives are healthy and help grow our own ideas.Keep up the good work and enjoy your week!All the best,-Pam

  4. Martin-Eric says:

    I think that Sapolsky put his finger right on it, when talking about the frequency of unpleasant surprises being among the key factors in depression-induced sickness. Then again, this is something that militaries and political tyrans have always known: keep the opposion constantly on its toes, unable to predict your next move and in a constant state of fear, for long enough, and witness their health dwindle to such an extent that they no longer have the energy or will to fight, then you’ve won. Notice that the increased state-enforced paranoia in most 1st-world countries these days has precisely that effect: to muzzle the populace into subserviant torpor and dissuade them from questioning their country’s policy or its detrimental effects on freedom.

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks everyone. Be sure to check out Yule’s link to Eliz Gould’s work, too. Jim Maloney writes: While Chris Alexander and his associates did develop and articulate the concept of pattern languages for buildings, settlements, and cities – he was not the designer/author of the conservation economy pattern map you show and link to. Stuart Cowan, a brilliant conceptualizer, staff at Ecotrust, and a small group of individuals are responsible for all the good work and analysis that went into the design and structuring. Stuart is the one who deserves the credit, if any is to be given, since he sheparded the project from beginning to completion.Thanks Jim — I should read more carefully before giving credit for stuff in my links. So thanks to Stuart for this intriguing pattern map.

  6. Debi K says:

    Thanks for the mention of Gliffy–we really appreciate it. Let us know what you think of our newly revamped website, thanks again, debik at gliffy dot com

Comments are closed.