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Sunday reading

Written By: - Date published: 10:39 am, June 3rd, 2012 - 12 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Deep stuff, equality, interweb - Tags:

Last week I put up some Sunday reading – longer, thoughtful pieces I’d found.

I liked that other people also put up their links, with some very interesting topics.  So I thought I might make it a regular feature.  I’d put up a couple of interesting things that I’d come across in the week, and other people could share their links.

I’m not looking for people to push their bandwagons, and I want no link-whoring – don’t promote your own work.  But interesting intellectual discussions, knowledge that is in danger of slipping by – the things that when you read them you found stimulating and wanted to share.

So my first link this week is a podcast from the BBC World Service link.  A Harvard philosophy professor seeing the limits of the market: as we move into death bonds (gambling on people’s ill health) and renting wombs, market values are infiltrating our entire lives.  What does this do for our morals and our societal bonds?

Discovery presents the thought that humans now have more in common with ants than other primates:

“With a maximum size of about 100, no chimpanzee group has to deal with issues of public health, infrastructure, distribution of goods and services, market economies, mass transit problems, assembly lines and complex teamwork, agriculture and animal domestication, warfare and slavery.

“Ants have developed behaviors addressing all of these problems.”

So says Mark Moffett of the Smithsonian, author of a new study into the idea.

Anonymous membership means that both human and ant societies can grow as large as environmental conditions allow, although some researchers suggest that an ultra large society can implode.

For example, David Queller and Joan Strassmann at Washington University in St. Louis predict that a society will collapse when individuals in the middle of a vast group of billions or trillions are no longer in contact with foreign societies of their species. They argue that this could allow for a gradual social decay. It would probably take centuries for this to occur, however.

A short link on climate change: A milestone has been reached, with measurements of more than 400 parts per million of CO2 over the Arctic (just the Arctic so far…).  It’s been more than 800,000 years (at least) since these levels have last been reached.  275ppm was normal for the pre-industrial age, and we’ve only been over 300ppm in the last 60 years.

And a link from Joe90, who in my opinion day-in day-out provides the best links of deeper thinking in the comments.  Vanity Fair have a short adapted piece from Joseph Stiglitz’ soon to be released book The Price of Inequality.  It’s a look at why inequality is bad for the 1% – economically.

12 comments on “Sunday reading ”

  1. ianmac 1

    Anthropologists reckon people manage well in a community of about 100 people. When the community they live in gets into the thousands people seek to be anonymous and avoid contact. Hence many strangers avoid eye contact and remain expressionless.
    I have been intrigued at the way that people who live in cul-de-sacs seem to be able to form much closer relationships as opposed to those who live in a house on a through road.
    (Not scientific, just anecdotal.)

    • bbfloyd 1.1

      I can second the cul-de-sac comment… I’ve owned houses along both types of roads, and the social interaction down the cul-de-sac was the more complete package… we had our elderly neighbors visiting (&vice-versa), and coming out to play cricket with me, and my son, on the street…. i got to know their families, and they, mine…..The road actually felt like everyone’s collective front yard

      I knew my neighbors on each side of me on the through rd after living there for over a year…..

      This pattern has repeated itself(minus the cricket, sadly)wherever in the world i’ve lived for more than a year at a time…

  2. just saying 2

    Great idea Bunji.

    Two of my favourite writers at ‘the Independent’, first Laurie Penny on ‘Shame has Become our Stick to Beat the Poor’ with a teaser, and after that, Owen Jones on “the Battle Men Who aren’t Sexist Have to Fight’.


    Ask any woman or man who has lived with domestic violence what kept them in such a situation for so long, and they will tell you: he made me feel worthless. She made me feel ashamed. At every level of human brutality, physical violence is only one way of controlling a person. In the long run, it’s often more effective to keep that person cowed by making them feel small and worthless.

    Shame and humiliation. That’s the sort of social control that’s in play when the state asks every person receiving disability or sickness benefits to plead, beg and explain to strangers why they need the tiny amount of financial aid to which they are still entitled. The Government’s flagship work capability assessments, administered by the private firm Atos Origin at a cost of hundreds of millions, require patients to fill out 28 pages’ worth of forms about whether they can wipe their own bottoms and stand without falling. I know this because I’ve helped friends fill them in. Every page is an affront to the dignity that so many disabled people fight so hard to hang on to in a world of prejudice


  3. red blooded 3

    Some great reading. It’s not hard to spot the links between the abuse of Tory MP Louise Mensch and the kind of crap that used to get thrown at Helen Clarke, or even some of the dislike and ridicule faced by someone whom I genuinely dislike and frequently ridicule (but not for her appearance) – Paula Bennett. Part of the problem, of course, is that we women frequently rip into female leaders in sadly sexist terms, attacking their hairstyles or clothing choices rather than their policies or values, or implying that they are not womanly if they have no children. We all need to pull back from this kind of puerile personal attack.

  4. Good idea Bunji.  Can I suggest you schedule it for release at 7:30 am.  It will give us early birds something to read instead of the Herald or Fairfax’s SST.

  5. joe90 5

    Some reading:





    A documentary: Balochistan: Balochistan: Pakistan’s Other War

    And something that’s been stuck in my head for the last few days.

    Strange Fruit

    Southern trees bear a strange fruit,

    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

    Black body swinging in the Southern breeze
    Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

    Pastoral scene of the gallant South,

    The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

    Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,

    And the sudden smell of burning flesh!

    Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,

    For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

    For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,

    Here is a strange and bitter crop.

    Abel Meeropol

  6. Stiglitz and those like him (Krugman, Reich) who argue inequality is the cause of capitalisms problems have been well critiqued by Marxists, notably Michael Roberts on his blog which is well worth following.

  7. Ad 7

    This was a great antidote on a Sunday – many thanks for it. I do love Reich, and in general just love the debate between Krugman and the others.

    Would be great to see a discussion on this site about Professor Callaghan’s new book – Professor Skegg mentions it in his lengthy article in the Otago Daily Times today.

  8. Sam Hall 8

    Helpful links thankyou.

  9. “As long as people have the strength to fight for human dignity in an age of austerity, a poorer, meaner society, a society built on shame, may yet be held at bay.” Laurie Penny.
    In my journey’s along the internet I came across this article in the Independent. the subject: Shame as a tool for political suppression.

  10. ” A Harvard philosophy professor seeing the limits of the market: as we move into death bonds (gambling on people’s ill health) and renting wombs, market values are infiltrating our entire lives. What does this do for our morals and our societal bonds?”

    I know one thing, reading this this man had to learn and work so much, to acquire his title “philosopher professor” to understand something, that I have witnessed and realized, happened in front of my eyes. As being in both camps of Communism and Democratic regime. I happen to realize how the entire system worked, as it meant to work. Which this professor, could n even comprehend a part from the whole still executable plan.

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