Saturday / Sunday Links for the Week — August 30-31, 2008

My thoughts and hopes go out to all the people and creatures of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. We are going to learn a lot in the next few days about human nature, resilience, our inability to understand the lessons of history, and the uselessness of centralized emergency “plans”.

All You Need to Know About the Election, the Electorate, and US Politics: A series of articles in the past week really hit home on the realities of American politics and the current state of politics in the US. Joe Bageant’s anonymous political consultant friend has an analysis of Obama’s “move to the center”, and concludes:

  • Obama had to move sharply to the right on his position on trade, economics, globalization, social services and taxes, to avoid having the US power elite put all their money to work for McCain. With a dumbed-down electorate and a compliant mass media, lots of negative advertising (i.e. lots of campaign money) is now all you need to win an election (with rigged voting machines as a backup).
  • Obama’s social polition is just fine with the power elite (who actually disdain social conservatives). But if Obama doesn’t move on economic issues, they’re just fine with the white socially conservative working class helping them defeat Obama.
  • “Elite consensus on [foreign policy] is center to right, discussion are allowed on the mechanics of running the empire and the management of the military industrial complex, but never regarding the reality of its existence, its necessity or usefulness to most Americans.” War is the only healthy industry left in the US economy, and the US military machine is needed to protect the global financial interests of the power elite, so peaceniks need not apply to be its president. The fraudulent Let’s Bomb Iran house resolution 362 is bipartisan; there is no significant difference between the two parties on this issue (thanks to Valdis Krebs for the truthout links).
  • The power elite has already got Obama rehashing what is now conventional wisdom in the US, that it is the responsibility of individuals, not the government, to make people’s lives better. The “ask not what your country can do for you…” anti-regulation, taxes-are-evil, privatize-everything, anti-social-services rhetoric is firmly entrenched in both of the two look-alike brands Americans get to choose from in November. If the government screws up, or if you’re poor or sick or unemployed or ignorant it’s your fault, you stupid, lazy voter. And both brands are “produced” by the same company, the power elite that owns both parties.
And the sad reality is that most Americans fear change, the word that appears so prominently on all Obama’s messages. Yes, 90% of them are victims of a relentless thirty-year class war pursued ruthlessly by the power elite, but they have been conditioned by learned helplessness to feel impotent to change anything, and to distrust anyone changing things for them. So no matter how bad it is, Americans have been propagandized to believe that getting government to change anything will just make a bad situation worse. And since it’s the individual to blame for all the ills of the society, not government, best thing is to have no changes at all, and to weaken government (excepting the military of course) so there can be no changes in the future, either. And, incidentally, when McCain has a heart attack and dies in office in the midst of the Iran War, do you really think the power elite will allow a small-town Alaskan woman mayor to run their country? In the meantime, Olbermann responds to McCain proclaiming recently to those poor dumbed-down working class guys “victory in Iraq is finally in sight.”

Major Life Changes: My brave Cheryl embarks on a one-year tour around the perimeter of Australia today; she has been through so much tragedy lately, so help me wish her bon voyage! Karen Crone is off to Nigeria to work in a medical centre. Patry Francis is recovering from painful surgery that has re-sensitized her to others’ more constant suffering. And Jen Lemen is still coming to grips with her recent astonishing and heart-breaking trip to Africa. Is it time for your life to change in a major way? What’s holding you back?

Why Feminism Must Be Anti-Capitalist: Or more precisely anti-corporatist. A brilliant essay by Jessica Hoffman argues that all forms of oppression are connected, and freedom for all of us depends on the destruction of all forms of oppression, including corporatist oppression.

collective decision makingThe Collective Decision-Making Process: Chris Corrigan has created a new model of “talking our way to a decision” based on Otto Scharmer’s Theory U. I liked it so much I changed some of the words to create the collective decision-making process shown at right. The activities in the top half are individual, personal, while those in the bottom half are collective. Those on the left side are reflective while those on the right side are active. Through invitation and “opening space”, personal passion is engaged and leads to collective conversation, which through collective understanding leads to collective consensus, and then, through collective and personal decision, to personal responsibility for actions. This is what took me a long time to understand: While decisions may be collective (or may be made by fiat), actions are always ultimately personal; even in those actions that we undertake together, we are each, literally “doing our own thing”. If we are not first engaged, and if we are not part of the conversation that leads to consensus, and if we don’t then take personal responsibility to act, nothing gets done. I have seen in business that bad decisions are always ignored — people will jump through hoops to appear to be doing what they are told while actually doing what they believe makes sense. Our sense of personal responsibility is that strong. Passion –> Conversation –> Consensus –> Decision — That’s how things get (effectively and sustainably) done in this world.

What MBAs Don’t Know: Tony Wanless reiterates the arguments about the shortage of true entrepreneurship skills in our society that prompted my book. Thanks to Jon for the link.

Life After Birth: Another compelling, brooding, poetic essay and photo from Pohangina Pete.

The Ants Go Marching One by One: “We must think of ourselves as a line of ants bringing food to our Queen. But If we step out of line and decide to distribute the food amongst ourselves we will no longer be only receiving portions for our hard work. We will no longer be starving and working for more. The Queen will now be the hungry one and she will eventually die of starvation. All we have to do is step out of line; itís that simple.”

How to Design a Web Page: Liz Danzico’s slideshare presentation on the usability of WordPress is very smart: “People will do stuff [workarounds] when design fails…Most people ignore most of the [web page]…People don’t like surprises [i.e. changes]…People prefer verbs [over nouns] to navigate web pages…[after completing a task online] users need suggestions, nexts, and reassurance…Show, don’t tell.” Thanks to Kathy Sierra for the link.

Why Cap-and-Trade Solutions to Global Warming Won’t Work: “‘Cap and trade’ is the rage today as a primary solution to global warming. But the European Union’s struggle with this approach indicates it has an uncertain future. This is because global warming, at its core, is not a technology or policy problem. It is the greatest failure of thought in human history.”

Predictions Tell Us Nothing About What is Possible: Tom Atlee tells us (in addition to providing us with a poem) the three steps to realize what’s possible: Let go of outcome; Come to grips with our own intrinsic participation in Whatever Happens; and Look for positive possibilities and ways to partner them into greater probability. Thanks to David Parkinson for the link.

Create Your Video Calling Card: Natalie Shell shows us how to use video to tell the world what you’re all about. I want one of these.

Republican Platform Proposes Journeys to Mars: As if they hadn’t fucked up this planet enough.

Great Vegan Recipes: The cookbook Veganomicon, and a whole bunch of simple, wonderful online vegan recipes. Thanks to Patti Digh for the link.

Just for fun: Crow adopts kitten (thanks to Sam for the link). And the dumbest invention ever (thanks to my sister-in-law Morva for the link).

Thoughts for the Week:

  • From Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” (thanks to William Tozier for the quote)
  • From Esther Dyson: “Always make new mistakes” (thanks to Natalie Shell for the quote)
  • From JP Rangaswami: “More and more, knowledge management is going to be about reducing the cost of, and simplifying the process for, letting someone watch what you do. Nonintrusively. Time-shifted. Place-shifted. Searchable. Archivable. Retrievable.” (thanks to Nancy White for the quote)
  • From Charles Bowden in Blood Orchid: “We are an exceptional model of the human race. We no longer know how to produce food. We no longer can heal ourselves. We no longer raise our young. We have forgotten the names of the stars, fail to notice the phases of the moon. We do not know the plants and they no longer protect us. We tell ourselves we are the most powerful specimens of our kind who have ever lived. But when the lights are off we are helpless. We cannot move without traffic signals. We must attend classes in order to learn by rote numbered steps toward love or how to breast-feed our baby. We justify anything, anything at all by the need to maintain our way of life. And then we go to the doctor and tell the professionals we have no life. We have a simple test for making decisions: our way of life, which we cleverly call our standard of living, must not change except to grow yet more grand. We have a simple reality we live witheach and every day: our way of life is killing us.” (thanks to Beth Taggard for the quote)
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4 Responses to Saturday / Sunday Links for the Week — August 30-31, 2008

  1. Chaitanya says:

    I can see why global warming is not a purely technological problem, in the sense that we cannot count on market system, as it is implemented today, to solve the problem automatically. That is because our current market system does not incorporate the costs of environmental externalities into the prices of goods. So, the current market system, on the basis of simple cost equation, will continue to favor least-cost technologies like coal, and oil.So, the solution is to put a price for the externality, and add it to the cost of carbon emitting technologies. That is exactly what cap-and-trade system does. Now, the key point here is that, the price has to be set high enough, it provides a chance for alternative technologies to take over and compete on a cost basis. If the bar is set low, it doesn’t change much. I haven’t done a thorough analysis on this, but i’ve heard estimates that $50 to $100 per tonne of co2 will provide the necessary impetus. This talk by Thomas homer-dixon says carbon trading is one of the best solution available, provided the bar is high enough., i’d disagree with your heading that “carbon trading won’t work”. It will work, provided the bar is high. Now, whether we set the bar high enough is not a technological problem, but a policy decision our society has to make. That ofcourse, depends on our awareness and system’s blindness that the linked article talks about.

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Hi Chaitanya: Going to an event with Homer-Dixon in a couple of weeks so I’ll ask him. I did like his book. The problem is (a) cap and trade is not enough by itself — there also has to be a carbon tax, and (b) cap and trade systems have proven to be unenforceable. There are no proper standards for verifying emissions and reductions, so in Europe they have found that most of the credits being sold into the market are fraudulent. A higher price in the absence of verifiability will just increase the profit to be made from fraud. And in many countries that have caps and carbon taxes, enforcement resources are so poor, and corruption so rampant, that emissions are rising as quickly as they did before.

  3. Hey Dave…thanks for the redraw…I like it! Can I use it?

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