Another amazing cartoon from Chris Ware, in last week’s New Yorker. You can buy Chris’ books here. If you can’t read the words, try zooming in on this copy. “Something’s gotten into me lately and I’m not sure what it is.”: I’d call it anxiety, and it seem to have infected everyone; can you feel it too?
The Girl Effect: Imagine a girl in poverty. (Thanks Nancy.)
Knowing Where You Belong: I have a soft spot for birds, and Pohangina Pete has been writing about watching and studying birds in migration. The ability of birds to know when to migrate, when to stay put, when to hibernate, and when they do migrate, exactly where to go to find their seasonal homes, is astonishing. Somehow, they know exactly where they belong. If only we were so wise, and so knowledgeable.
What Happens When the System Fails: Rob Paterson: “When the centralized distribution systems fail, all the nodes get cut off and isolated. Food, energy, money and security all collapse back to the local. If you cannot feed yourself, heat your homes, exchange goods and look after your security you are in deep trouble. In highly centralized states, the nodes are helpless. They cannot deliver the basics for life. Imagine New York with no oil and no food with intermittent electricity. Imagine this happening for only a 2 week period. Then imagine being cut off semi permanently. You think I exaggerate? This happened in 1989 – 95 in cities like Moscow and Kiev [and it happened recently in Cuba, and Argentina, and in ancient Rome]”. When the System fails, as appears imminent, only the resilient, those in working self-sufficient communities, survive. That is why in failed states like Afghanistan, local warlords not national despots rule.
Walking Dead Bail Out Walking Dead: Jim Kunstler points out that the sponsor of the biggest bailouts — the US Government — is no more solvent than the crumbling financial and other institutions it’s bailing out with taxpayer money. He predicts that the fallout — a collapse of the bankrupt US dollar and commensurate hyperinflation and large-scale human misery — will hit in six to eighteen months. He restates his regular themes — the need for us to start producing real goods and services again, sustainably, at the local level, and to nationalize the auto companies to create a viable rail system — but still no one is listening, except us of course. Thanks to Jon Husband for the link.
Crises, Predictable and Repeatable: An interesting review of data showing how we are prone to make the same mistakes over and over, at least every 20 years or so, about how we could, if we studied history, see a lot of these repeat mistakes coming, and how we need regulations that instead of being designed to prevent exact repeats of previous excesses, address more broadly our very human propensity for stupidity and greed. Thanks to William Tozier for the link.
“Transition to Green” Prescription for Obama: A coalition of environmental and scientific groups has presented Barack Obama with a detailed 340-page prescription for shifting from environmental ruination to environmental protection and sustainability during his first 100 days in office.
Food Imperialism: Rich countries are on a furious spending spree buying up agricultural land in struggling nations to meet their future food (and biofuel) security needs. Need we ask whether the poor in those nations will benefit from the sale? Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.
The Revisionism of the Media: It’s a good thing we have a few real researchers left in the world, to hold to account those whose memory of history, and what they said about events when they happened, is conveniently faulty. The NYT, which pretends to be the voice of moderate progressive thought, is one of the most egregious offenders. This week Glenn Greenwald recalls what they said about Chavez after the CIA-led coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002. Mistakes are understandable, but the mainstream media’s pretense of always having got it right is infuriating. If we got more apologies, more consistent and high-quality research, and fewer unexplained flip-flops and outright lies, the media might again become a force for understanding and learning, instead of a propaganda arm for government and a waste of time to read, the least trusted of all public institutions.
Iceland as the Canary: The financial collapse in North America, Western Europe, Australia/NZ and Japan has hit Iceland especially hard. We should be studying what happened there, and why, and how people are coping, to learn what we will all face if this collapse worsens. In the meantime, a newly-unemployed Icelandic blogger is giving us a blow-by-blow of how life there has deteriorated, in English. Read her interviews with Icelandic citizens as well. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.
Be Part of a Global Art Project: Each week, two artists ask readers to participate in a new project, and the results are compiled into archives that are sometimes presented or exhibited publicly. Anyone can play. Thanks to Chris Lott for the link.
Government Data Refutes Alberta Tar Sands ‘Cleanability’ Claims: A new federal government report, obtained by the CBC, concludes that virtually none of the effluents from the bitumen sludge mining operations currently ruining the Alberta landscape, polluting, contributing massively to global warming and devastating the ecosystem in much of the province, can be captured, ‘cleaned’ or stored.
Just for Fun: Things That Are Bad, the visualization above, from Yayhooray. Thanks to Eric Lilius for the link. Eric also points us to the hilarious (and surprisingly factual) Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis. And I hereby tag you all with the 5 Things Meme: tell us all five unusual things about you. But I’m adding a catch: At least two of them have to be things that help us understand you better, give us context to know you, so that when we talk, in IM, in voice, f2f, or in the comments thread here, we have some idea why you are saying what you’re saying. Here are five unusual things about me that might help you understand me better:
…And More Fun: Chris Corrigan points us to the best board games of 2008. I was especially intrigued (simulation lover that I am) by the Pandemic game, which is cooperative rather than competitive. Now next year I want to see the Permaculture game.
What Are Big Girls Made Of?
The construction of a woman:
a woman is not made of flesh
of bone and sinew
belly and breasts, elbows and liver and toe.
She is manufactured like a sports sedan.
She is retooled, refitted and redesigned
Cecile had been seduction itself in college.
She wriggled through bars like a satin eel,
her hips and ass promising, her mouth pursed
in the dark red lipstick of desire.
She visited in ’68 still wearing skirts
Look at pictures in French fashion
How superior we are now: see the modern woman
A cat or dog approaches another,
If only we could like each other raw.
When will women not be compelled