Links for the Week — September 23, 2006

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An intentional community of wild turkeys breaks fast this morning after a collective nap on our front lawn.

Personal Learning Resources:

Google Books: An Essential Research Resource: Google’s plan to scan, and make available for online browsing, every book in the world has run into some hiccups from publishers who don’t understand that this will lead to more book sales, not less. Nevertheless, there is an astonishing amount of material already available. If you’re researching online, don’t overlook

Learn to Podcast & Vlog with Open Source Education: The latest trend in the Open Source / Gift Economy movement is free education, both online and in person. And the latest offering is free podcasting and vlogging seminars (“unconferences”), popping up all over North America.

Politics and Economics:

The Power of Nightmares: A four-part BBC series, available online, explains the history of Anglo-American neoconservatism and radical Islam, and how these two extremist groups have fed off hatred for each other (and anti-communist paranoia), exploited conservatives’ fear, and used the mainstream media, to grab unprecedented power and instigate what is now called “the clash of civilizations” — an endless war of (“good”) ultra-conservatives against (“evil”) ultra-conservatives in which we are not allowed not to take sides. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

The US Economic House of Cards: US economic analyst David Martin explains how the mortgage bubble and fiscal and economic mismanagement is precipitating an inevitable global economic collapse. Thanks to Walter Derzko for the link. 

The Globalization of Disparity: Salon’s Andrew Leonard points us to a World Bank research study explaining how the rising economic power of China and India has been achieved on the backs of the poor, and at enormous cost of ghastly disparity between rich and poor. So as a tiny elite becomes, following the US model, obscenely wealthy, each year thousands of Chinese die from poisoning and oppression, and each year thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide out of utter despair.

The Housing Bubble Deniers: Andrew Leonard also reveals that real-estate flogger and much-cited industry spokesman David Lereah has been less than honest about his previous denial that the housing bubble was poised to burst. Despite his abysmal prediction record, Lereah is still getting major airtime, and a free ride, from the mainstream media, as he laments about buyers making the situation worse by “staying on the sidelines”.

The Myth of Free Undistorted Markets: Andrew Leonard again, this time reviewing Joseph Stiglitz’ new book that explains that “the invisible hand seems invisible [because] it is not there…without appropriate government regulation and intervention, markets do not lead to economic efficiency”.

Thoughts for the Week:

The Space We Need: I can’t resist. After I described my perfect house, including “social space, concentration space and quiet space” Andrew Campbell pointed me to an article describing award-winning artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s living space conception, which he built for himself, and which has the same three spaces as my model — “levels dedicated to each of the three spheres of human need: community and sustenance, reading and meditation, and rest”. Aha!

Why We Won’t Respond in Time to the End of Oil: I’ve explained Daniel Quinn’s argument that the availability of food and the growth of human population are inextricably linked — we will never voluntarily limit our numbers as long as there is a surplus of human food, and when that surplus ends, our numbers will just as inevitably decline, involuntarily and precipitously. Now an article in fortune makes a directly analogous argument that the availability of oil and the growth of industries dependent on it are inextricably linked:

“The new [Gulf of Mexico] deep-water find is a pointed example of the way elevated oil and gas prices always seem to lead us to new technologies and, eventually, to renewed supplies. But one giant new gusher does nothing to get us off the gerbil wheel of ever more consumption creating ever more demand…I’m not sure that we should be so quick to dismiss the peakists. At some point they will be right, and I believe it’s important to act as if they already are.”

But of course, we are incapable of acting “as if they already are”. Just as technologies that create more food will inevitably create more people to feed (i.e. at some point Malthusians will be right), technologies that create more available affordable oil will inevitably create more demand for, and reliance on, that oil. We do what we must, but only when we must. It’s a particularly vicious cycle, the same one that (as Jared Diamond and others have explained) has led to the end of every previous civilization. They don’t call it ‘unsustainable’ for nothing. (Thanksto Energy Bulletin) for the link.)

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1 Response to Links for the Week — September 23, 2006

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