Saturday Links of the Week: September 27, 2008, and AFK Notice

tab cartoon calgary sun
Cartoon by Tab in the Calgary Sun, from the Cagle site. Thanks to Rob Paterson for the link.

Project 10 to the 100th: Google is offering $10 million for the top ideas that help people help other people, in these categories:

  • Community: How can we help connect people, build communities and protect unique cultures?
  • Opportunity: How can we help people better provide for themselves and their families?
  • Energy: How can we help move the world toward safe, clean, inexpensive energy?
  • Environment: How can we help promote a cleaner and more sustainable global ecosystem?
  • Health: How can we help individuals lead longer, healthier lives?
  • Education: How can we help more people get more access to better education?
  • Shelter: How can we help ensure that everyone has a safe place to live?
  • Everything else: Sometimes the best ideas don’t fit into any category at all.
You have until October 20th to enter. What’s most interesting is that their evaluation criteria are very similar to the criteria that make for a good Natural Enterprise:
  • Reach: How many people would this idea affect?
  • Depth: How deeply are people impacted? How urgent is the need?
  • Attainability: Can this idea be implemented within a year or two?
  • Efficiency: How simple and cost-effective is your idea?
  • Longevity: How long will the idea’s impact last?
So whether you win or not, if you believe in your idea, get a copy of Finding the Sweet Spot (links in right sidebar) and realize your idea!

Blogging and Self-Knowledge: Amy Lenzo summarizes an article that says one of the results of having so many people blogging is an upsurge in self-reflection and self-knowledge. Could it be that the real benefit of blogging has little to do with the content and everything to do with the self-knowledge and the resultant capacity for action it enables?

Blogging the Apocalypse: If you think your writing or artwork says something important about our times of crisis, you might want to submit it to Qarrtsiluni, the online literary magazine co-edited by Cassandra, by October 6, for their next edition themed “Journaling the Apocalypse”. You might not know that the word apocalypse literally means ‘the uncovering of a pre-existing truth’, so that opens the scope for submissions considerably.

The Connection Between Sleep, Learning and Creativity: A new study of the effects of sleep claims “sleep improves creative ability to generate aha! moments and to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas“. Of course, aboriginal people already knew that.

“When anyone uses ‘but’ in a sentence, throw away everything to the left of the ‘but’ “: That’s a quote from Chris Brogan via Communicatrix, who muses brilliantly on how that stuff on the left side of the ‘but’ (“I’d love to do x but…”) can be our excuse for inaction, for dreaming rather than doing, or can be our way of lying to ourselves about what we really want and who we really are. If we make a list of those ‘left-of-the-but’ things and study it honestly we might just learn some important things about ourselves, and change ourselves to move our lives in a new direction. “What you are allowed to doówhat we all must do, and always, because we are not fixed in stoneóis to stay awake and keep your finger on the pulse of your desires…I speak of the list both literally (I am a big listmaker) and metaphorically (hello, therapy!). This is about you, getting down with you. Use whatever time and tools necessary, because really, you arenít going anywhere until you do.” As Geoff Brown would say, “yes, and…”.

Last Word on the Bailout: Most of us realize the current bailout proposal is a trillion dollar gift to greedy and incompetent corporatists that leaves nothing for their victims — the people sucked into loans they could never repay, and into the undertow of collapsing prices once the bubble burst. With the need for another $150 billion to keep the FDIC solvent (thanks to Dale Asberry for the link), the bailout total cost is now nearing $1.25 trillion. A number of suggestions have been made that would help taxpayers too, but most of them are politically motivated and would just increase the program cost even more. A better answer, as Thom Hartmann explains, is instead of buying up bad loans at way more than they’re worth (and there is absolutely no way to know what they’re really worth, so complex is the mire of ‘risk-spreading’ financial instruments), to take an equity stake in these companies for the amount of the loans the government guarantees (yes, that means nationalizing them rather than giving them taxpayer money to reward them for their behaviour). And at the same time, we need to put a large tax on speculation, and start taxing capital gains at the same rate (if not higher) that we tax income that’s actually earned. At least that way the taxpayers will have something to show for their investment. In the meantime, no matter how well it’s handled, this is going to so cripple US ability to spend money on anything else, and make it so vulnerable, that, for reasons Andrew Leonard further explains, I predict the US dollar will lose half its value by the end of 2010. John Robb explains (thanks to David Parkinson for the link) that the systems that now govern our civilization are so complex that even the most informed can no longer fathom or navigate them. Hard times ahead, especially if you have assets in $US, investments dependent on a healthy US economy, or debts dependent on low interest rates.

…The Real Last Word on the Bailout: Sharon Brogan explains how the bailout became necessary in terms everyone can understand. “Now the government says it will put Real Money in the vaults. But where will they get it? Not from the Wall Street Big Shots. Not from the CEO’s, or their Parachutes. Nobody suggests that putting Real People with real Health Care back into Real Jobs and Real Houses might help.”

$500/Barrel Oil Coming Soon: If you look at the supply/demand curves, based on even conservative assumptions $500/barrel oil is quite believable. Oilman and lifelong Republican Matt Simmons explains why $500 is coming and what it means for an economy already in free-fall. “As a society, we don’t have the ability to actually come to grips with a crisis until it’s hit us in the face. I am discouraged enough now to think that we’re going to have to have a really nasty shock before we wake people up”. Thanks to Craig De Ruisseau for the link.

Army in the Streets of America: I confess I don’t really know what to make of the US government’s decision to permanently station armed forces inside the US to serve “in times of emergency” and “to help with civil unrest and crowd control”. A lot of Americans seem to think this is a significant change, but living in a country (Canada) whose citizens have been kidnapped by Homeland Security on US soil without charges or any recourse to the legal system, and secreted to foreign torture prisons, it’s hard for me to see army brownshirts tasering protest groups as a significant further deterioration of civil liberties. I absolutely dread crossing the US border, knowing that Homeland Security can do anything they want to me, including now seizing my laptop and files and stealing everything in them without cause or notice (thanks to Our Descent for the link). The horses are all gone, folks, and now it doesn’t much matter how much wider the barn doors are swung open. You ceded your civil liberties in 2004 when you re-elected Bush, and none of the candidates running to succeed him have voiced any indication they are planning to restore them.

Stop Harper: There’s a desperate campaign under way across Canada to try to defeat the Bush lapdog and extreme right-wing Conservative Stephen Harper. Because of Canada’s first-past-the-post system, the four progressive parties are likely to split the vote so badly that Harper is now likely to win a majority with only 35% of the vote. In addition to allowing Harper to wreck the Canadian economy (he favours tax cuts for the rich) and the environment (he opposes Kyoto), this will probably spell the demise of Canada’s second original political party, the Liberals. Like the Progressive Conservative party, which collapsed and disappeared in the 1980s after its leader Brian Mulroney nearly destroyed the country, and which was then taken over by the right-wing Reform Party and rebranded, the current collapse of the Liberals is likely to lead to a tripartite merger of the Liberal rump, the NDP (which may well end up the official opposition), and possibly the Greens. Anyone want to suggest a name for them?

Canadian Students Win Innovation Award: “Five guys from Ontario” have developed a software program, Ecorio, that “gives users the ability to reduce their environmental footprint with tools that provide transit options for trips, allow them to invest in carbon reduction projects and share their tips with other users” Thanks to Graham Clark for the link.

Helping the Homeless Self-Organize: Homeless Nation is a site where the homeless can compare notes, ideas, persecutions and challenges and help each other out. It was started in Vancouver, where I am today, and I confess I’m blown away by the huge number of homeless people in the streets, and how mentally distraught many of them obviously are. They need this kind of help, and much more. Thanks to Theresa Purcell for the link.

Just For Fun: From Tom Munneke via Nancy White: Max Explores

Thought for the Week: via Rob Paterson: The Stockdale Paradox: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end ñ which you can never afford to lose ñ with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
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I’ll be on Bowen Island at the facilitation skills training session from Sunday through Wednesday. The location has (deliberately) no Internet access, so my next post here will be Wednesday or Thursday October 1 or2. I’m hoping to resolve my questions about Open Space, that Chris Corrigan, Jack Martin LeithJohnnie Moore and some others have already commented on in reply to my blog post. See you then.

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1 Response to Saturday Links of the Week: September 27, 2008, and AFK Notice

  1. Sriram N says:

    Stockdale Paradox – isn’t it the same as the good old saying “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst”?

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