Friday Links (8/31/12)

Posted: August 31, 2012 in Friday Links

This is hopefully going to become a regular thing here.  What I want to do is create a roundup of interesting and often frightening articles published during the week.  Most will focus on politics, environmental issues, and the ongoing crisis we are living through, but I’ll do my best to include some lighter stuff too.

On living well in Ray Bradbury’s dystopia: Notes toward a monastic response” – Matt Cardin (The Teeming Brain, 8/28/20112)  –  One of my favorite bloggers, and a like-minded individual, reflects on living in a world roughly equivalent to Fahrenheit 451 and what it means to resist.

“Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists” (Guardian (UK), 8/26/2012)  –  Writing on a recent report by the Stockholm International Water Institute, and another by the International Water Management Institute, Guardian environment editor John Vidal explores a few possible futures for water needs and food production.  While the article says little about the use of water in other industries (a rather important factor in global water use, and another way industrialization is killing the world), it does manage to briefly make the case, contrary to typical bigger-is-better thinking, that small-scale agriculture is actually a better solution to such problems in some (most?) regions:

“[T]he best way for countries to protect millions of farmers from food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia was to help them invest in small pumps and simple technology, rather than to develop expensive, large-scale irrigation projects.” – Dr Colin Chartres, director general of IWMI.

RealClimate has confirmed that Artic sea-ice is now at a record minimum (RealClimate, 8/26/2012)  – Not much to say on this; it was only a matter of time.   Here’s the illustration:


This was of course immediately followed by ideologically-driven skeptics and paid industry shills trying to undercut or cloud the point, arguments that are rebutted pretty neatly at Skeptical Science here (see also the Arctic Sea Ice Blog here on the alleged similar melts during WWII).

Then there was an “unprecedented” outbreak of the deadly Hantavirus at Yosemite National Park (LA Times, 8/29/12) – Scary and eyecatching.  However, unless this virus become human-to-human transmittable, this will not be the disease that brings down civilization.

An Israeli district court rejected the lawsuit brought by Rachel Corrie’s parents that “accused the Israeli military of either unlawfully or intentionally killing Rachel or of gross negligence” (Common Dreams, 8/28/12) – Basically, this ruling states that Corrie was at fault for her own death despite the fact that the bulldozer driver could see her and continued to drive forward anyway.  Even if Corrie’s death was entirely an accident (it wasn’t), it would still be an obvious case of gross negligence.

“The Mega-Rich and the “Useless Eaters”: America’s Descent Into Poverty” – Paul Craig Roberts (C0unterpunch, 8/28/12) – Nothing startlingly new in Roberts’ analysis of the ongoing economic collapse and division of wealth in the US, but definitely worth the read anyway.  Also, this is the first in a series of articles he is writing that will cover the current state of social, political, legal, constitutional, environmental, and moral collapse in today’s US.
“The Curious Appeal of Ayn Rand” (Common Dreams, 8/28/12) – Everybody is writing about Ayn Rand right now thanks to Paul Ryan being chosen as the Republican VP candidate.  Ryan is an admirer of Rand who once gave a speech to her fan club The Atlas Society, and his admiration for the pseudo-philosophy of objectivism is honestly perplexing given that he is also a devout Catholic (I seriously cannot get my head around this paradoxical position).  In this article, author David Macaray speculates on why Rand continues to be popular with certain segments of the American populace:
“The two reasons why undergraduate students (and certain congressmen) get such a thrill out of Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism” philosophy: (1) it comes off as non-conformist and slightly “dangerous,” and (2) it unapologetically glorifies all those egotistical impulses we had as teenagers. There’s a smug, self-congratulatory element to it.”

Even though this comes off as a bit flip and under-developed, I still think it gets at the heart of this weird, ongoing love affair with a mediocre novelist and sloganeer.  Love for Randianism is indeed often very much like teenagers who embrace Existentialism after reading some excerpts of Sartre or Camus, or those young people who find Kerouac and think he has all the answers.  It’s fine as an adolescent or young adult stage, but you eventually are supposed to outgrow it.

Finally, on a lighter note, Comediva has posted the first episode of BAMF Girls Club, which has Hermione, Lisbeth, Katniss, Buffy, Michonne, and Bella all living together reality TV-style:

  1. Josh M says:

    I like this feature — I think I’m going to steal this idea and start doing the same over on my site. Some good news items here — I’ll confess that the news re: Rachel Corrie’s family really gave me fits, in part because I naively assumed that the case had been decided in a more positive fashion some time ago. I immediately thought of Billy Bragg’s song, “Rachel Corrie” — worth listening to if you ever get a chance. And as a follow-up to that thought, I don’t know if you ever check out Democracy Now! or not, but they did a great interview with Billy Bragg last spring: