Saturday Links of the Week — March 29, 2008

norbert rosing polar bear and sled dogs
Photo copyright Norbert Rosing. This German photographer’s books of photographs of polar bears are astonishing. This photo is one of a series depicting spontaneous play between a bear, who wandered into a camp in Northern Canada, and a sled dog team tied up there overnights, over the course of a week. Thanks to my brother-in-law Paul Brun for the link.

Why the Institutional Education System is Beyond Fixing: John Taylor Gatto confesses the seven lessons that the education system really teaches: (1) confusion, incoherence and disconnection (by teaching without context), (2) know and stay in your place, (3) don’t care too much, (4) how to be emotionally dependent, (5) how to be intellectually dependent (wait to be told what to do and think), (6) your self-esteem is provisional on what others think of you, (7) you can’t hide, even long enough to think for yourself. The system was designed to produce compliant industrial workers, but now operates on its own momentum. Unschooling is the only way out. Lots more Gatto in these videos. Thanks to Avi Solomon for the links.

Do What Makes You Happy and See Where it Takes You: Drawing on Joseph Campbell’s work, Nick Smith wrote a thoughtful and inspiring article back in 2006 on what might be called Improvisational Living. Stop planning and seeking and start pursuing what you’re passionate about, what your instincts tell you. Recognize your true bliss, not what you’ve been conditioned to believe you want and need. Open yourself to new possibilities and realizations, and let go, instead of doing what you think is good for you. Be true and gentle to yourself, and allow yourself to discover what will really make you happy. “We are only really happy when we are present in the moment.” A must read. Thanks to Rick Wolff for the link.

A Global Warming Pep Talk: Richard Heinberg at PCI cautions us not to burn ourselves out in the struggle to educate and respond to the threats of global warming. Thanks to PCI’s Richard Bell for the link. Now that the Antarctic ice is collapsing, we need to take heed of this advice.

Saul Griffiths’ Game Plan for Global Warming: Great presentation deck with a bold approach, hard data and compelling graphics. A great companion to George Monbiot’s Heat. Thanks to Avi Solomon for the link.

Obama’s Economic Vision: Although I continue to believe the winner of the 2008 US Elections won’t make a bit of difference to what will happen to our global economy or civilization in the years ahead (just as Al Gore’s vice presidency made no difference), I’ve been reading the speeches, and if intelligence and vision were enough to bring about change, Obama’s economic ideas would take us a long way back from the precipice on which we now sit.

How Was It to Be Dead?: An amazing short story by Richard Ford from 2006 in the New Yorker about a man who’s wife’s ex-husband suddenly reappears after being missing in Vietnam for 30 years. Thanks to Patti Digh (whose new book is now available for pre-order) for the link.

Nominations Open for Worst Corporate Offender: CAI is seeking input on the worst corporatists in the world.

World Cafe Meets Second Life: George Lakoff’s group held a World Cafe (an application of Open Space) in Second Life, featuring my friends Nancy White and Michelle Paradis, on the theme How can we use virtual reality to further progressive values? Nancy’s brilliant graphic summarizing the event is below. Thanks to Siona for the link and Amy Lenzo for the writeup.

nancy white's graphic

Thought for the Week: From Karl Weick’s The Dynamics of Renewal: Renewal Through Writing (thanks to Andrew Campbell for the link):

The story line of renewal seems to be this: As earlier projects begin to unravel and turn sour, there is the perception that activities are becoming less sensible. That perception is the result of fragmentation
produced by a loss of context, ineffective sensemaking, or inattention to the world…The feeling of disorder is reflected in questions (e.g. whatís the story, why are we doing this, whatís wrong)… To reduce this disorder, people need to act in ways that reconstruct context, strengthen sensemaking, and restore attention…[using] tactics such as: Listening, Writing, Goal-setting, and Dialogue.

Whenever my projects stall, I write. I write free associationally to see what relates to what and what those relationships might mean. I write voluminously in the hope that I might generate some variation that will prove to be a more attractive whole, a more sensible starting point, or a more compelling outcropping for a languishing project.

I write allegorically to capture small moments that may embody more vivid summaries of ongoing projects. I write continually to find better words and clearer ways to join them that improve the wisdom, sense, and relevance of projects. I write indiscriminately in order to stumble onto themes that would not normally show up given the limits of my frames of reference. I write respectfully to get hints of the tacit knowledge that might form part of the infrastructure of events. And I write passionately to discover the “voice” that I may bring to anissue, and what the resonance in that issue may be for me.

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