Saturday Links of the Week – June 16, 2007

China slaves
From Agence France-Presse. Some of the slaves freed from years of forced labour in a brickworks owned by a senior Chinese government official

What’s Important This Week:

Yet More Chinese Atrocities: This week brings news of widespread forced slavery in China’s construction trades, mines, and even Olympic trinkets manufacturing. The victims include young children, and are mostly peasants — the poor, powerless and dispossessed. What is surprising is that anyone is surprised, and that we’re buying the Chinese government line that this is just an isolated problem. This, after all, is the country that systematically chains unwanted girl babies in orphanages to their high chairs. This is the country that knowingly poisons its own people, and the world’s, for profit, and kills, tortures and ‘disappears’ anyone who dares to question authority. This is the country that shows the true face of untrammeled corporatism and what the desperation of poverty, resource exhaustion and horrific overpopulation inevitably leads to. And this is the country upon whose ‘economic miracle’ the US economy, and hence the global economy, now depends utterly. Yet our governments and corporations continue to turn away from the truth, and our citizens blithely go on buying their tainted crap and planning to spend their Olympic dollars propping up this nightmare. We will not be able to tell our grandchildren we were not warned. [Thanks to prad for the Olympics link.]

What Would You Like the Inflation Rate to Be: In a masterful con job, US government economists averaged two numbers — huge price increases for food, energy and other consumer staples, and prices in a collapsing housing market that are causing record mortgage defaults, foreclosures and lender bankruptcies — and concluded that, on net, inflation was ‘under control’. Investors cheered and ran up the overpriced stock market even more. How dumb can we get?

Fixing Beach Erosion By Dumping Military Ordnance: While the loss of natural barriers against erosion by the sea, and the rising water levels due to global warming, have made the world’s oceanfront properties hugely vulnerable, the short-range thinking of the US Army Corps of Engineers (the clowns that brought us the Katrina disaster) is to uselessly dump offshore sediment back on the shore — including unexploded World War Two ordnance.

AT&T Elects to Become Digital Rights Watchdog – With Your Files: Consummate corporatist AT&T is working with the paranoid, greedy entertainment industry to intercept all data flowing through its vast networks and block, rightly or wrongly, anything that is copyrighted. Big Brother is watching. David Weinberger says it isn’t right, and it isn’t.

Global Warming, Not Seals or Fishing, Blamed for East Coast Cod Exhaustion: A new Fisheries Society study suggests that environmentalists blaming overfishing, and fishermen blaming seals, for the exhaustion of the Atlantic cod stocks are both wrong. The real culprit is minor changes in ocean temperature, and the resultant major ripple effects on the entire complex ocean ecosystem. We will, alas, never understand what’s happening in complex social and ecological systems until it is too late.

Running Out of Oil Faster Than Expected — And Critical Metals Too: New scientific research reported in the Independent and Business Week suggests that the production fall-off will be sharper than even Peak Oil experts have predicted, because producers and governments are obfuscating the data to prevent panic price run-ups. And the rare metals needed to make PCs and other electronic components and equipment are also running out. Thanks to Charles Hall for the links.

The Future Garbage Crisis Hits Home in Naples: Cities with daily mountains of unrecycled garbage have always had poor rural counties, disenfranchised urban slums, and desperate struggling nations to take their garbage. Naples is showing what can happen when those cheap dumpsites aren’t available anymore. Thanks to Chris Brainerd for the link.

Ideas for the Week:

A magnificent animated short film about origami is really about how we try to address complex problems (“complex” = with interweaves) with complicated solutions (“complicated” = with folds). Enjoy. Thanks to Sven Cahling for the link.

The value of local experiments: Canadian Jason Diceman explains at the grassroots level what Chavez is trying to do to reform the political and economic system in Venezuela, from the bottom up. Obviously inspired by the Cuban experiments of Castro, and likely to be subverted when the CIA assassinates or overthows Chavez, these are important experiments for those thinking ahead to the world post-civilization.

Just for fun department: My daughter sent me this, which has been floating around the Internet:

How To Properly Place New Employees:
  1. Put 400 bricks in a closed room.
  2. Put your new hires in the room and close the door.
  3. Leave them alone and come back after 6 hours.
  4. Then analyze the situation:
  • If they are counting the bricks, put them in the Accounting Department.
  • If they are recounting them, put them in Auditing.
  • If they have messed up the whole place with the bricks, put them in Engineering.
  • If they are arranging the bricks in some strange order, put them in Planning.
  • If they are throwing the bricks at each other, put them in Operations.
  • If they are sleeping, put them in Security.
  • If they have broken the bricks into pieces, put them in Information Technology.
  • If they are sitting idle, put them in Human Resources.
  • If they say they have tried different combinations, they are looking for more, yet not a brick has been moved, put them in Sales.
  • If they have already left for the day, put them in Marketing.
  • If they are staring out of the window, put them in Strategic Planning.
  • If they are talking to each other, and not a single brick has been moved, congratulate them and put them in Senior Management.
  • Finally, if they have surrounded themselves with bricks in such a way that theycan neither be seen nor heard from, put them in Government.
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1 Response to Saturday Links of the Week – June 16, 2007

  1. Jon Husband says:

    If they have made something useful .. fire them. They’ll only become entrepreneurs anyway.

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