Links (and Top Tweets) for the Week: August 16, 2009

BLOG Links (and Top Tweets) for the Week: August 15, 2009

Permaculture Principles

Permaculture as a Model for Dealing With Complex Systems: As I have often written on this blog, complex systems (such as ecological and social systems) do not lend themselves to the mechanistic approaches (such as forecasting, cause-and-effect analysis and systems analysis) that work in merely complicated systems. Solutions to complex problems emerge over time, along with a better understanding of the problems, and this takes patience, experimentation, improvisation and resilience. Permaculture is a great model for dealing with complexity (food ecosystems are inherently complex), since it entails lengthy and patient study and learning about the natural local ecosystem and then intervening strategically to help natural succession produce a sustainable, organic, food-nutrient-rich ecology (using the 12 operating principles and 3 ethical principles illustrated above). Chris C suggests these same principles can be applied analogously to other complex environment challenges as well.

New Swine Flu Vaccine Has Toxic Squalene Adjuvant: Despite the fact that it has been shown to cause a host of chronic immune system hyperactivity (inflammatory) diseases, Novartis and Glaxo plan to use Squalene to ‘supercharge’ their swine flu vaccine to be administered this fall. Squalene, you may remember, is the brainchild of Bruce Ivins, who was convicted after his ‘suicide’ of mailing the anthrax letters to Democrats and media, apparently to terrorize the US government into using the American troops in Iraq as guinea pigs for his Squalene-charged experimental anthrax vaccine. Beware this vaccine! Thanks to Dale for the link.

Tasers: Lethal Torture in Your Home Town: In a guest post for Salon, Digby shows that tasers are now routinely used by police everywhere to deal with anyone that doesn’t immediately do what they’re told, with debilitating and sometimes lethal results. Only one answer: Ban these inhumane torture devices.

The Republicans’ Orchestrated Anti-Health Care Demonstrations: Rob links to an excellent piece of journalism from MSNBC showing the cynical, exploitative, deceitful and expensive campaign of rich Republican corporatists to orchestrate fake ‘grass-roots’ opposition to Obama’s very modest health care plan. What would these greedy lying wingnut reactionaries have done if Obama had done the job properly and introduced universal single-payer health care?

The Incorrigible Dysfunction of the US Political System: Hendrik Hertzberg explains that (as if the corporatists’ campaign to undermine Obama’s health care plan wasn’t depressing enough) the American political system is so mired in anti-democratic “perverse institutional arrangements” that the political will of the electorate is inherently subordinated to that of rich and powerful self-interest groups. So despite the fact most Americans do want universal single-payer health care, it will never happen.

Knowing Your Gifts in the Gift Economy: As my book explains, your ‘Gifts’ are the things you do uniquely well. Chris L points out that a Gift Economy will only work if what we each contribute to it are our true Gifts. And prerequisite to this is knowing what those Gifts are.

sand animation

Telling a Story Without Words: Viv points us to a video of Ukraine’s Kseniya Simonova, who won a national talent contest by presenting an 8 1/2 minute sand painting re-enactment of the German occupation of Ukraine during WW2. Astonishing artistic prowess, a moving musical soundtrack, and perhaps the start of a powerful new way to tell stories without words.

AIG, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac: The Toxic Trio: A new report suggests these 3 are going down, at a total taxpayer cost of nearly a trillion dollars, and that another agency, Ginnie Mae, is now taking on the risky loans to the tune of another trillion.

Not Home Yet: And in a related story, James Surowiecki explains that the housing crisis is destined to worsen because according to a new study “foreclosing is often more profitable than renegotiating is”. The solution, he suggests, is to compensate homeowners who suffer unforeseeable shocks (job loss, house price collapse) and to allow cramdowns — letting bankruptcy judges simply reduce principal owed on homeowners’ mortgages. Punish the irresponsible lenders instead of the gullible borrowers — imagine that.

Why Are Classrooms So Powerful?: “Like prisons and mental hospitals, classrooms captured and constricted bodies in order to render them as docile subjects. Their purpose was as much disciplinary as educational, developed as part of the new bureaucratic state apparatus that brought unruly people under social control.” Thanks to Dermot Casey and Jim McGee for the link.

Free Downloadable Book on Open Space: An excellent compendium of articles by leading OST practitioners, edited by Raffi Aftandelian. Thanks to Tree for the link, and the two that follow.

Even Oil Industry Admits We’re Running Out: The usually-cautious oil industry spokesman IEA admits that immediate action is needed to conserve and find alternatives to oil.

Ultimate Foldable Bike: A young inventor has produced a bicycle that easily folds into its own wheel.

Greenpeace Gets Results On Brazil Rainforest Deforestation: Greenpeace research has pressured footwear manufacturers, still reeling from revelations of use of child and slave labour in manufacture of their products, to stop using Brazilian leather because it is largely made from cows raised on recently cleared Amazon rainforest. Activism works.

Just for Fun:

Jill & Kevin’s Big Day: I think I may be the only person in the world who hadn’t already seen this wedding aisle dance. If you haven’t, it’s a hoot.

Science Porn: Video of a dress made of a new polymer that biodegrades in water; the voiceover explains the science. Tweeted by Canadian author Margaret Atwood.

Thoughts for the Week:

From Wendy Farmer-O’Neil: “Stop looking for great leaders and start looking for where, in our communities, organizations, and lives, there are great convenors.”

Advice about Social Media in 25 Words or Less, from Mary Schaefer (thanks to Liz Strauss for the contest):

Tell me something that’s real.
Don’t assume you know what I need.
Engage with me first please.  I mean, really, engage.

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1 Response to Links (and Top Tweets) for the Week: August 16, 2009

  1. Paul says:

    RE: Science PornA marvelous example of a work that has no redeeming social value. I didn’t learn a thing about polymers, but certainly appreciated that the curves shown in this (science?) presentation went well beyond the limitations of two-dimensional charts!

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