Saturday Links for the Week – October 6, 2007

inconvenient truth
Image from An Inconvenient Truth: Blue curve is average temperature on Earth for the last 650,000 years, red is amount of CO2 in the atmosphere for the same time period. Lower yellow dot is today’s CO2 levels. Top yellow dot is where it will be in 2030 (median projection). That’s Gore on a forklift beside it.  Difference between top and bottom of the blue curve is half-a-mile-thick ice at the bottom (ice age) and today’s climate at the top.

Videos of the Week:

Charles Hall Explains Peak Oil in Ninety Minutes: A thorough explanation of the concept, with some great graphics in the accompanying slides.

James Surowiecki on the Future of the Organization: A rambling half-hour video of the Wisdom of Crowds author on theory X (we work only because we must) and theory Y (we work for a creative outlet and self-actualization as well), bottom-up self-managed communities (open source etc.), the failure of top-down motivation, Goldcorp’s Wisdom of Crowds online exploration of where to mine for new gold, how humans and primates behave altruistically and respond to status symbols, and why experts and leaders are over-rated.
Thanks to my colleague Gordon Vala-Webb for this link and the one that follows.

Malcolm Gladwell  on Collaborative Genius: A half-hour video by the Tipping Point guy from small-town Ontario who argues that individual genius is not as valuable as that resulting from collaborative effort. Modern complex problems, he says, requires persistance rather than genius, and assessment of large numbers of diverse ideas rather than a few great ideas.

News of the Week:

Canada Knuckles Under to US Blacklist and Refuses Entry to US Protesters: The Bush regime has blacklisted protesters at the last International Women’s Day demonstrators arrested for passive civil disobedience, and the Harper regime in Canada is using this US blacklist to prevent liberals from entering Canada. No coverage on this in the mainstream Canadian media.

Plexus Tackles the Complex Problem of MRSA: The Plexus Conplexity Institute is working on complex solutions to the challenge of MRSA, one of the growing epidemic of antibacterial-resistant strains of germs plaguing hospitals and communities. The major challenges are complacency and the alarming lack of compliance with hygiene practices by hospital workers, especially doctors. The approach to coping with these perplexing challenges is to engage the wisdom of crowds in the hospitals themselves (some of the best ideas come from housekeeping staff and patients) and use the complexity principal called ‘positive deviance’ (the principle that some people have much better approaches and practices than others doing the identical work). Notice how similar this is to Gladwell’s point above? Thanks to education reform guru Barbara Dieu for the link.

Co-op America Finds the Best Green Businesses are All Small: A fascinating survey of America’s greenest businesses from the Responsible Shopper Boycott List guys suggests that to be really green you have to be small and community-based. This should not be surprising, but it is important.

Why is the Dow So High?: HTWW wonders why, given the credit crisis, the collapse of the US dollar, and $80/barrel oil, the Dow is at record highs, especially since the price of US homes and volume of home sales are still plummeting.

9/11 and the Anti-Feminist Backlash: A great Salon book review (of Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream) by Rebecca Traister wonders if 9/11 has given the anti-feminist movement incredible power and impetus to reverse decades of gains, and how our reaction against Arabs in the wake of 9/11 echoes our reaction against First Nations people during the first decades of our invasion of the Americas. Fascinating ideas here.

Why is Google Stock so High: Dave Snowden wonders why Google stock is still so high when no one lloks at the ads on their pages.

Sy Hersh Explains Why Cheney/Bush Will Attack Iran: Bad news all around, and Hersh is usually right.

Thought for the Week: It’s World Animal Week. Ten ways to make the world better for animals (from WSPA via Common Dreams):

  1. Help reduce animal overpopulation – Every year, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters in the U.S. Sadly, about half of these animals are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them. This problem is made worse by ìfactory-styleî dog-breeding facilities known as puppy mills, which put profit above the welfare of animals. You can help by:
    • Adopting your next new friend from an animal shelter or rescue group instead of buying from a breeder or pet store.
    • Making sure your new companion animal is spayed or neutered.
    • Doing research to ensure you select the companion animal that’s right for your family.
  2. Report animal cruelty – Despite the fact that animal cruelty is illegal, it remains prevalent in our society and often goes unreported. Not only do these acts cause animal suffering, they are linked to violence within families and society. You can help by:
    • Learning how to recognize signs of cruelty, abuse or neglect.
    • Reporting cruelty to your local humane society, animal control or law enforcement agency.
    • Educating yourself and others about how to properly care for companion animals.
  3. Live in harmony with your wild neighbors – As urban development continues to destroy wild habitat, animals are forced to live in closer proximity to humans. Hereís how you can help:
    • Prevent conflicts with wildlife before they occur by securing garbage cans, feeding companion animals indoors, blocking holes in your home.
    • Control nuisance animals humanely.
    • Keep your cat inside.
    • If you find an orphaned or injured animal, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator, police, or animal control officer. Never approach or try to handle a wild animal.
    • Create a haven for wildlife in your backyard by planting trees or shrubs, providing water and limiting your use of pesticides.
  4. Make more humane food choices – Billions of farm animals are raised and killed for human consumption each year. Most of these animals are subjected to cruelty behind the closed doors of factory farms, where they are treated as little more than meat-making machines. You can help by making informed, humane choices:
    • Beware of misleading labels such as ìnatural,î which have no meaning in terms of animal welfare and may be placed on products from animals raised on factory farms.
    • Choose only free range or organic meat, milk and eggs, or products certified as coming from humanely raised animals.
    • Make healthy food choices by adding more fruits and veggies to your diet and reducing your consumption of meat.
  5. Use the power of the purse – Every year, untold numbers of animals are subjected to painful procedures in safety testing for cosmetic and household products. Hereís how you can help:
    • Shop with compassion. Choose only products that you are sure have not been tested on animals. Look for the Leaping Bunny Logo ñ the highest level of assurance that a company is cruelty-free.
    • Write or call companies to let them know you will not be purchasing their products until they stop testing on animals.
  6. Live light on the land – Pollution poses a threat to animals in many forms. To help, follow the three ìRsî:
    • Reduce. Don’t use “throw-away” products like paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware.
    • Recycle. Rinse all recyclable glass and plastic containers that might attract animals and cut apart each ring in plastic six-pack carriers before discarding them.
    • Reuse. Take your own bags to stores to carry home your groceries and shopping.
  7. Be a compassionate traveler – The exploitation of animals is a common by-product of the tourism industry. Cruelty, confinement, neglect and abuse is the price millions of animals worldwide pay for tourist entertainment. Hereís how you can make a difference:
    • Support animal-friendly services and avoid those that exploit animals.
    • Don’t accept culture as a justification for cruelty.
    • Never pose for a photo with a wild animal.
    • Never use animal rides or transport that could cause suffering.
    • Never buy wildlife souvenirs or products that may have endangered or caused suffering to animals, such as ivory, tortoiseshell, fur, and horns.
  8. Avoid establishments that keep wild animals in captivity – The public display industry exacts a heavy physical and mental toll on wild animals. Meeting the complex needs of wild animals is nearly impossible in captive situations. Hereís how you can help:
    • Don’t visit marine parks, zoos, or other establishments that hold wild animals in captivity.
    • If you want to observe animals, visit places that allow people to view them in natural and humane conditions such as national parks, nature reserves, animal sanctuaries, or rehabilitation centers.
    • Try wild dolphin or whale watching. These eco-friendly excursions enable tourists to become immersed in the natural world of marine mammals without threatening the health and welfare of wild species.
  9. Be prepared for disaster – Tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes can strike at any time, with little or no notice. Without an easy-to-execute plan, families are sometimes forced to choose between their own safety and the safety of their beloved animals. Be prepared by:
    • Assembling an emergency kit in advance for your family including companion animals.
    • Evacuating early, if you can, before a mandatory evacuation order is issued.
    • Taking your animals with you and making sure they wear identification tags.
  10. Support international recognition of the importance of animal welfare – Billions of animals around the world rely on people to treat them with compassion. WSPA believes that an international agreement on welfare standards should become a key goal for the animal welfare movement in the 21st century. A Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare at the United Nations would recognize animals as sentient beings and act as acatalyst for better animal welfare provisions worldwide.
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