Saturday Links of the Week – June 9, 2007 – The ‘Danger, Will Robinson’ Edition

live ink sampleWhat’s Important This Week

This week much of the news is about dangers, to our health, our economy, our political and social systems, and our well-being. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media (other than the NYT) are silent on these things, because they get a bigger audience when they cover spoiled celebrities. So here are a dozen things to worry about (as if you needed more):

  • Diseases: An exhaustive new study by the European Community Disease Centre pinpoints five major disease threats to human health in affluent nations. In order they are (the following excerpts are verbatim from the report):
    • Healthcare-associated infections. The most important disease threat is posed by the micro-organisms that have become resistant to antibiotics. Infections with such bacteria are a huge and rapidly growing problem.
    • HIV infection. Still underreported and underfunded, some 30% of those infected do not know they have HIV.
    • Pneumococcal infections, vaccine-preventable, with high death rates especially in young children and the elderly.
    • Influenza (pandemic potential as well as vaccine-preventable annual seasonal epidemics).
    • Tuberculosis continues to rise among vulnerable groups such as migrants and HIV-positive people. Cases of drug-resistant TB, which are very difficult or even impossible to treat, are increasing. (Thanks to my colleague Karen Hay for the link)
  • Collapse of the US Dollar: A new UN report says “In order for current world economic growth rates to continue, it is crucial to keep the United States dollar from falling rapidly while also avoiding a recession.” Thanks to Deconsumption Blog and Dale Asberry for the link.
  • Turkish Invasion of Kurdish Iraq: The Turkish government, worried about independence threats from its own Kurdish provinces, is threatening to invade Northern Iraq, home of the Kurdish state that is likely to result from the partitioning of Iraq once the civil war reaches full steam
  • Corrupt Doctors: Disgraced doctors disbarred from regular medical practice are getting paid by Big Pharma to push dangerous drugs on their unsuspecting patients.
  • DEET Poisoning: The only approved means of protecting us from West Nile carrying mosquitos is DEET. But DEET is a toxic poison with unknown long-term effects. The US NIH says “the most serious and devastating complication of large DEET poisonings is neurologic damage. Patients may have disorientation, clumsiness when walking, seizures, or coma. Death is possible in these cases. DEET is especially dangerous for small children. Seizures may occur in small children that are consistently exposed to DEET on their skin for long periods of time. Care should be taken to only apply lower concentrations of DEET to children for short periods of time.” If you’re slathering this on your body, is this risk commensurate with the risk of West Nile? If not, why do the regulatory authorities continue to pimp it to the public?
  • Real Estate Agents: A comprehensive comparison suggests not only does selling your home on your own save you a big commission, you get a higher price too.
  • US Consumer Spending Crunch: While housing prices are dropping and consumer credit is tightening, US consumer spending continues to grow, greatly outstripping disposable income, and putting citizens deeper and deeper in debt. It’s the only thing keeping the US economy from sliding into a severe recession and starting the dominos falling that will lead to global economic collapse. And it cannot continue much longer.
  • Technophilia: As I wrote about last week, belief that technology will get us out of the looming crises we are facing, or that it is somehow ‘neutral’, is a dangerous delusion; Ran Prieur explains. Thanks to David Emanuel for the link.

Ideas for the Week:

  • Radical Transparency for Corporations: Wired magazine makes the argument that corporations that are open and honest to a fault get reciprocal benefits from customers. I’m not sure shareholders are as appreciative, but given a choice of which to please, it would be nice to think corporations would cater to customers first. Thanks to Andrew Campbell for the link.
  • Herbal Medicine Database: A smartly-designed site lets you see what plants treat each medical condition, and what each herb is good for (besides tasting good). Thanks to Avi Solomon for the link.
  • Reduce Your PC Consumption: A downloadable app can save significant amounts of energy on your machine. Try it, and don’t forget to turn off (not just standby) your PC every time you stop using it. Thanks to Criag De Ruisseau for the link.
  • The End of the Line for the Line of Type?: A fascinating study and new product suggests our reading comprehension could be dramatically increased by using technology to replace long lines of type with shorter, phrase-parsed text displays that more naturally match the way our eyes perceive and capture information. Seeillustration above (from Moby Dick) of a passage that, as this site shows, is much easier to grasp than the same content in linear form. Is this how we should be reading everything online? Thanks to the late great Innovation Weekly for the link.
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4 Responses to Saturday Links of the Week – June 9, 2007 – The ‘Danger, Will Robinson’ Edition

  1. Dave Riddell says:

    “Reduce Your PC Consumption” — anyone have the link for this app?

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Sorry, Dave R, I forgot the link: Reduce your PC Consumption:

  3. Craig D. says:

    To add a little more detail on what the Local Cooling app does, it runs quietly in the background and uses about 20 MB of RAM. It allows you to configure when it should turn your monitor off, spin down your hard disc, and shut down your PC after specified times of inactivity. You can do this on your Windows XP PC using native functionality (under Control Panel/Power Options) but this tracks your savings and converts them into meaningful stats like number of trees, gallons of oil, and KWhs saved.Craig D.

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