Saturday Links for the Week — August 18, 2007

peru earthquakePeople search for the bodies of loved ones in Pisco, south of Lima.
Photo: REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

Help the People of Peru: 30,000 families whose lives have been shattered by the recent earthquake need our help. Here’s how to do so:

  • Canadians can contribute to the Red Cross’ special Peru Earthquake fund online, or directly through the Peruvian Consulate in Toronto by transfer to Royal Bank account # 06702 113 ñ 4329 (Ref.: Sismo Per™ 2007)
  • Americans can contribute to the Red Cross’ special Peru Earthquake fund online, or directly into the Interbank accounts (Dollars: account #200-0000001118 / Soles: account #200-0000001119) with the following money transfer agencies: Xoom, Bancomercio, Uno, Dolex, BTS, Viamericas, Ria, Transfast, Pronto EnvÌos, Vigo, Bob Travel, Girosol, MFIC, Intertransfers and Mateo Express. Interbank has stated that these agencies will not apply commission fees for the transfers. For more information call free at 1-866-352-7378.
Thanks to Mariella Rebora for the links.

‘Learning’ That Trying to Change the Political/Social/Economic System is Impossible: A brilliant and important essay by Naomi Klein explains the corporatist agenda to discourage us into believing that everything we want to do has been tried and failed. Excerpt:

The real problem, I want to argue today, is confidence, our confidence, the confidence of people who gather…under the banner of building another world, a kinder more sustainable world. I think we lack the strength of our convictions, the guts to back up our ideas with enough muscle to scare our elites. We are missing movement power. Thatís what we’re missing. “The best lacked all convictions,” Yeats wrote, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Think about it. Do you want to tackle climate change as much as Dick Cheney wants Kazakhstan’s oil? Do you? Do you want universal healthcare as much as Paris Hilton wants to be the next new face of EstÈe Lauder? If not, why not? What is wrong with us? Where is our passionate intensity?

What is at the root of our crisis of confidence? What drains us of our conviction at crucial moments when we are tested? At the root, I think itís the notion that we have accepted, which is that our ideas have already been tried and found wanting. Part of what keeps us from building the alternatives that we deserve and long for and that the world needs so desperately, like a healthcare system that doesn’t sicken us when we see it portrayed on film, like the ability to rebuild New Orleans without treating a massive human tragedy like an opportunity for rapid profit-making for politically connected contractors, the right to have bridges that don’t collapse and subways that don’t flood when it rains. I think that what lies at the root of that lack of confidence is that we’re told over and over again that progressive ideas have already been tried and failed. We hear it so much that we accepted it. So our alternatives are posed tentatively, almost apologetically.

Chickens: Moving to Cage-Free But Not Free-Range: The realization of the horrific cruelty to billions of chickens in battery cages is beginning to dawn on humanity, but progress is at a snail’s pace. Several groups are trying to push for a change from battery cages to large cage-free barns, still cramped and locked inside, but at least with some room for movement. Even this tiny change is taking the capacity of the corporatist Big Agribusiness oligopoly.

Google & Microsoft Enter Online Health Information Fray: Challenging online health leaders WebMD and Revolution Health, and the most popular government health sites, Google and Microsoft are trying to exploit the fact that most searchers for health information start with a search engine.

Complexity Explained: A group called Calresco summarizes complexity theory and why understanding it is so important to grappling with the intractable problems of this century. Thanks to Andrew Campbell for the link.

Thought for the Week: From reader Ayanleh in response to Wednesday’s post about the seven elements of effective collaboration:

I am from Somalia (East Africa) and currently live in the United States. When I was growing up and was learning about “modernity” and how to attain it, I remember modernity’s focus on the individual, from individual rights to individual freedom. Yet everything in my culture revolved around the group, or more specifically the clan or sub-clan. In its day to day activity, the clan was a collaborative effort. It sought to help individuals to survive in an often harsh and unforgiving environment. Clans often fought each other for these scarce resources but they more often collaborated than fought with each other. There were many practices they instituted in order to mitigate the competition between clans, such as intermarriage.

But the clans then sent their kids to the West and their children came back with new ideas about collaboration. The collaborative efforts were to be restricted by new boundaries of class, ideology or nationhood. Some even tried to transform the clan into a closed collaborative effort that sought to simply eradicate (no longer inter-marry with) fellow clans. Our modern education swept away our traditional methods of collaboration, so we live in a state of perpetual anarchy.

When the West looks at us now, they see in us the confirmation of our African “savagery”. When I talk to my elders, they wonder if sending their kids to be educated in the West was such a great idea after all. The irony is that in the West, we are now educated about “team work”and building “collaborative” efforts. These were skills that our elders perfected over centuries and that are now slowly dying. My hope is to bridge the two somehow.

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3 Responses to Saturday Links for the Week — August 18, 2007

  1. Mike says:

    The Naomi Klein speech mentioned is also available in streaming video at the site.

  2. Mariella says:

    Thanks Dave, and thanks to everyone that can collaborate, as time goes by and people from more far away rural towns are contacted, the tragedy grows amazingly. 30.000 thousand families have lost their houses and another 30.000 thousand are standing in front of their houses that are inahabitable…. falling down with the sismic replics… really really sad…. no water, no food, no tents (we are having a very cold winter), no roads…..the aid arrives to the big cities, but it is difficult to take it to the far away towns… Thanks again.

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