Links for the week of September 4th, 2009

If you want to follow my shared links in real time instead of as a weekly digest, head over to Delicious. You can search them there easily too.

  • Ashcroft can be sued over arrests, appeals court rules – A three judge panel (two appointed by Bush, and one by Reagan) from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that John Ashcroft can be sued for abusing "material witness" arrest warrants, in order to detain people without probable cause. It will probably go to the SCOTUS, but if the ruling stands, there are an unknown number of potential suits out there waiting to take him down. Here's hoping he's sued into utter oblivion.
  • Are You On a Hedonic Treadmill? – Andy Revkin asks prominent economists whether the current lull in our lust to consume might not be the beginning of a new economic era, post-exponential growth. John Sterman from MIT wonders if we'll realize once there's cash in our pockets (or a new line of home equity credit…) that all that consumption didn't actually make us happy anyway, and get off the so-called Hedonic Treadmill. Problematically, there are a great many wealthy and politically powerful organizations whose sole reason for existing is to make sure we stay on — or get back on — the treadmill. Barring the development of some striking opposition to the corporations, it seems likely to me that, as soon as we are able, we will follow their siren song again. After all, they did a lot to get us on the treadmill the first time around, after WWII.
  • How Did Economists Get It So Wrong? – I think this post by Krugman is supposed to be kind of critically introspective, but ultimately I think it's pretty unconvincing. Not because I'm an adherent to the neoclassical economic faith, but because there's nothing which precludes both Keynes *and* the neoclassical free marketeers from being catastrophically wrong about how the Economy works. Yes, people are irrational, and bubbles happen. Yes, interventionist monetary and fiscal policy can cause massive disasters. Yes, corporations and the wealthy will do whatever they can get away with to manipulate the rules to their own advantage! No, economic growth (at least the kind based on material consumption) cannot (will not) continue indefinitely. It's just like the way we pretend that because Soviet style communism collapsed first, our capitalist system can't be flawed. But there are a lot of ways to be wrong! We have only scratched the surface.
  • Youtube in the Amazon: Rural Peru's Transition to the Internet – A sketch of rural (seriously rural) internet usage in Peru. The people get it: they understand how it can change their lives, their opportunities in the world. Especially the kids get it. But the hardware just isn't delivering. Wireless connections get put in, but they're flaky. Their maintenance isn't funded. I started traveling before there was widespread internet usage, and seeing places like Indonesia and Guatemala and Romania before and after is pretty weird. The connected world is a different mental space. I don't think the developed world really still understands just how much information the developing world has about us, relative to how little information we choose to have about them.
  • Van Duzer Vineyards – The vineyard where Becky Sweet works in Oregon.
  • The Manifesto Outdoor Swimming Society – Who would have thought you need a manifesto to swim outdoors! More generally, they're about a re-connection with the wild and incompletely controlled world beyond our city walls, even in a country as domesticated as Great Britain.
  • Petition to apologize for the prosecution of Alan Turing that led to his untimely death. – Turing was convicted of "gross indecency" in 1952, for admitting to a relationship with another man. His security clearance was revoked (after he directed the UK code cracking effort during WWII), and he was chemically castrated. He committed suicide shortly thereafter.
  • iStopMotion 2 – Stop motion animation software for the Mac. Wish my camera had a timelapse mode. Wish we had time lapse eyes too.
  • National Cougars Convention – A big meetup for older ladies who like the younger gents. To quote: "Single cougars from all over America will converge on the Silicon Valley, the ONLY major metropolitan area in America with a SURPLUS of single men, many of whom are young, educated, attractive, and prosperous, but lacking in experience with women." I guess as long as everyone's legal and consenting what can you say but Go the Muff!
  • Cycling Health and Safety: A Review – A broad ranging overview of the health and safety concerns of cyclists, with references. Looks both at the health benefits, and the sources of danger, across developed western countries with very different levels of cycling. Great resource!

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