Links of the Week — Saturday January 24, 2009

BLOG Links of the Week — Saturday January 24, 2009

Banks Market Capitalization
Value of leading banks’ shares 2007 (blue) and today (green). Thanks to Rob Paterson for the link.

“Thoughtful Blogs” challenge: The mainstream media continue to view the blogosphere as an echo chamber for uninformed chatter about the “news” they (the meanstream media) are providing us with. The blogosphere is, in fact, at its worst, a means for those who increasingly find the “news” these media report so banal, context-free and unactionable as to be worthless, to find and re-port real, actionable news (from the alternative and indymedia and an unlimited number of other sources) to others who want to know how the world really works and how to make it better. The blogosphere, at its best, is a place for thoughtful reflection and ideation — not the clever and inflammatory rhetoric of the op-ed pages (which produce heat but no light), but intelligent insight and imaginative ideas — what it all means and what we could do about it. Recently, PS Pirro listed ten sites worth a visit, and her list got me thinking about the fact there most be more thoughtful blogs out there, blogs that offer such thoughtful reflection, insights and actionable ideas. So here’s a challenge for you, dear reader: What are the most thoughtful weblogs you know of?

Last chance to save mankind?: James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia Theory (perhaps the most important theory since Darwin), has recently alienated many of his supporters with his apocalyptic vision of the future and his embracing of nuclear power as an inevitable way to reduce the impact of catastrophic climate change. Some believe he has just lost it. In a new interview, he trashes cap-and-trade systems, wind farms, and carbon sequestration, predicts human population will drop up to 90% this century, and proposes massive low-oxygen burning of crop waste and tilling of the resultant charcoal into the soil as the only solution. This solution, he says, would deprive bacteria and worms of the food they consume, which would otherwise release over 500 GT of CO2, far more than human activity. “I don’t think humans react fast enough or are clever enough to handle what’s coming up.” Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

The link between unschooling and creativity: Astra Taylor, creator of the new and celebrated documentary Examined Life, muses that her unschooling background might be behind her creativity and ability to think critically. Thanks to Michael Serres for the link.

Fifty things your customers wish you knew: Interesting list of ‘seeing things from a different perspective’. As one of a growing number of informed-and-reluctant consumers, I disagree with quite a few of these, but I especially like these four (and thanks to Joan in Vancouver, who points out that these points apply to other types of relationships as well, for the link):

  • (11) My life is very complicated. If you make it easy for me to just buy a simple all-in-one package that I can use without learning anything, I’ll take it and be grateful.
  • (22) Our relationship isn’t equal and it never will be.
  • (36) What you think you’re good at is not what you’re good at. Ask me, and I’ll tell you what you do better than anyone else.
  • (45) I believe I deserve much more than I’m getting.

Pakistan: Afghanistan redux: Interesting account on the fall of parts of Pakistan to local Taliban warlords, and the use of the media, torture, and slaughter of civilians to terrorize locals into submission. This is Afghanistan all over again, and unless we learn the lessons of Afghanistan, we’re going to repeat the same mistakes we made there. You can’t defeat organized crime with missiles.

Iceland: Could we be next?: Rob Paterson describes the situation in Iceland, where the economy has collapsed and bankruptcies have reached Great Depression levels.

Printing our own money: Great article by George Monbiot on why now is the time to create local currencies. In a nutshell, affluent nations are printing trillions of dollars of new paper money to finance their bailouts of incompetently managed financial institutions. The result will inevitably be devaluation of those currencies (since there is nothing of value to secure this new printed money) and potentially hyperinflation. If it’s good enough for the government, maybe it’s good for us too: let’s create local currencies, that encourage local investment and local spending, and which will keep their value regardless of what the monkeys running the central banks do to the value of national currencies. Thanks to Dave Smith for the link. transformed: Wow.

Esperance by Dan Paris
Photo: Esperance by Dan Paris. Thanks to Cheryl (who’s currently living in Esperance) for the link

Just for Fun: Comics about the challenges of living in community, by Richard Curran. Thanks to Tree for the link.

Thought for the Week: The Book of Endings, by Sam Taylor:


Some time while you read this page or the next one, a species – a species as vast as your life and the lives of all your ancestors chasing bison across Old Europe or huddled around a fire – will disappear. A species that has found its own ways of eating, of moving, of hiding from predators; a species that meets itself and makes love in the bark of a tree or on the leaves of the canopy or in the humid dirt.

And it has come with us for millions of years, for millions of years it has watched the night and day follow each other, it has breathed with the frogs, it has wrapped the stars around it like a blanket, a patterned music, a map.

At the beginning of this page there may have been three or four left, but now there is only one. And if you read this page again, it will be another one, another species, another story of four billion years telling itself for the last time. Wherever life began – a word, a wish breathed into water, a seed falling through space – it was all of us there – as it is now in this unknown last one.

It has bored into wood, it has carried water on its back, it has drunk the dew from its back in the desert, it has fed its young with strips of leaves, it has built homes out of bark, it has carved the sky into a song, it has spoken in ways no man has heard.

It has emerald wings, it has sapphire wings, it has wings of night. You will never see it.

It is already gone.

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5 Responses to Links of the Week — Saturday January 24, 2009

  1. THE BOOK OF ENDINGSStunning !

  2. Dale Asberry says:

    Re: Lovelock and biocharFor those that are interested, biochar is far more than both Dave’s and Lovelock’s summaries: Not only would biochar lock up carbon, it could also make marginal lands far more productive agriculturally.Re: Monbiot and local currency Also, check out what the Transition Town movement is doing related to local currencies.

  3. Dale Asberry says:

    Re: Pakistan: Afghanistan redux Also, read his excellent book, Brave New War.

  4. Chris Lott says:

    Where did you find that amazing piece by Sam Taylor? I want to read some more!

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Sam’s website seems to be messed up (infinite loop) but you can get to some of his stuff through the google cache of that site. In addition his publisher has some more of his work. I found this poem on Joanna Macy’s site.

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