Links for the Week – September 30, 2006

fall colours
Fall colours out our bedroom window Friday morning.

A day late and discouragingly full of bad political and economic news, but here’s this week’s line-up.

Politics & Economics

Rushkoff and the Crisis of Confidence: Cultural commentator Doug Rushkoff says his confidence in the veracity of the media and of politicians of all stripes has fallen so far that he no longer believes anything he reads or hears, and now finds what were once conspiracy theories entirely plausible.

Giving Up on Iraq and Afghanistan: A report from rural Iraq makes it clear that civil war has engulfed both countries outside their capitals, warlords, militias and anarchy prevail in most areas, and that continued foreign military presence is futile, provocative and dangerous. Yet still we are not willing to admit we have utterly botched the job. If peace was ever winnable, it is not now.

In the US, The Two-Income Trap Includes Living Without Health Insurance: A new study demolishes the myth that those without health insurance are mostly single parents and the unemployed. Most, in fact, are increasingly struggling two-income families. The two-income trap gets even tighter.

…and Health Care Gets Harder to Find: Meanwhile, as the cost of US health insurance all by itself soars above the minimum wage, fewer companies can afford to offer it. Those of us in countries with universal coverage can only shake our heads and wonder what it will take for the US to wake up.

Protest the US Oil Corpocracy: Buy Citgo: If you don’t want your money to go to Texas oil barons (and hence into Republican election coffers), or to Saudi sheiks, the alternative is to buy Citgo gas, as that company is owned by the government of Venezuela, run (for now) by Bush’s sworn enemy and assassination target Hugo Chavez.

Ted Turner Wants Struggling Nations to Grow Our Fuel: In a controversial turn, media magnate and philanthropist Ted Turner is urging struggling nations to switch from growing food (which is exported at bargain basement prices to compete with massively subsidized North American and European crops and repay foreign loans, while locals go hungry) to growing biofuels (where prices are healthier). I’m not sure I agree, but his argument is worth discussing.

Democrats Capitulate on Bush’s Torture Bill: In a move that will inevitably come back to haunt them, and which shows the cowardice and hypocrisy of the Democratic Party (and the desperate need in the US for a truly progressive third party), many US Democratic members of congress endorsed Bush’s outrageous right-to-torture, right-to-imprison-indefinitely (without charges) bill, which violates the spirit of the Geneva Convention and eliminates the right of Habeas Corpus. Tragic and shameful.

Visualizing How American Democracy & Capitalism Works: Richard Saul Wurman’s Understanding USA site provides wonderful visualizations of important data and analysis of the US political and economic systems. Here’s a sample that shows how corporatist lobbying subverts the democratic process. Thanks to Jon Clement for the link.

The End of Canadian Sovereignty: Geoff Olson at Common Ground laments the accelerating loss of Canadian sovereignty — social, political and economic — under the deliberate policies of Harper’s right-wing extremist minority government. Our sovereignty has long been an illusion — we own a minority of our private land, resources and large corporations — but we meekly accede to laws like NAFTA that further erode any control we have over our own destiny. Thanks to David Parkinson for the link.

Energy & Environment

A New Electric Car Battery Promises 5-Minute Charges at 20% the Cost of Gasoline: Business 2.0 reports on the promise of the EEStor chemical-free battery technology. Sounds too good to be true. Thanks to Doug Alder for the link.

Collaborative Software Design Based on Learning from Nature: Ken Thompson & Robin Good published their Bioteaming Manifesto a while back. Now they’re starting to design collaboration software based on its principles. A way to go yet, but promising.

Behind the Spinach E Coli Outbreak: WorldChanging analyzes the underlying problem behind the e coli outbreak in US spinach — the lack of transparency in where their food comes from. That lack of transparency permits horrific animal cruelty, mega-pollution of air, water, soil and food, and political corruption to continue on a massive scale, invisible to the consumer. One could argue, of course, that the consumer doesn’t want to know. Thanks to David Parkinson for the link, and the one that follows.

Monbiot’s Answer to Global Warming: Treehugger reviews George Monbiot’s new book Heat.

Scenario for a Flu Pandemic: An amazing visualization of how the next global flu pandemic could unfold, from Robert Horn. Key message: It’s not the first wave that will do the most damage, it’s the second and third, when we think we’ve got it beat and we’re still reeling from the first wave. Thanksto Jay Cross for the link.

Thought For the Week: This week’s thought needs to come from you. Building on the principles of dealing with complexity by canvassing for and evaluating stories of Most Significant Change, Zahmoo blog is asking for stories that answer the question: What is the most significant change in the blogosphere since you started blogging? I’m saving my answer until more people weigh in.

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2 Responses to Links for the Week – September 30, 2006

  1. Doug Alder says:

    Dave – EEStor’s technology is not a battery it is a brand new type of capacitor. While both are energy storage devices there are two major differences between them. A capacitor only stores energy, it does not produce new electrons, which is what a battery does through chemical reaction. Additionally a capacitor can either release it’s energy all at once or gradually whereas a battery can not release it all at once.The possible gotcha on this techgnology is that it must be rapidly charged at very high voltage to work and that is unlikely to be possible from home so the service station model will still exist. With a 500 mile driving range though that is not a big deal in itself but how the service stations will come by that large amount of power to distribute is.

  2. Paris Hilton says:

    Kenny and Tom are on to something here.

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