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We’re getting eclectic today, very brief listing:

Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong.

  • Rockstar Philosopher Slavoj Žižek talks about the london riots (many good bits, read it):

more than anything else, they were a manifestation of a consumerist desire violently enacted when unable to realise itself in the ‘proper’ way – by shopping. As such, they also contain a moment of genuine protest, in the form of an ironic response to consumerist ideology: ‘You call on us to consume while simultaneously depriving us of the means to do it properly – so here we are doing it the only way we can!’

This, then, is the legacy that decades of foreign investment have bestowed on Haiti: a brutal and intractable poverty, borne of a disastrous mix of well-intentioned aid and profit-driven development. Every decade or so, it seems, the world comes up with a bold new plan for saving Haiti — and each ultimately proves as ineffective and fleeting as the last.

  • and the GQ article by Michael Paterniti that inspired the movie Terminal. The story is so much more tragic and complicated than in the movie. Absolutely strange stuff. 

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Leisurely

Leisurely

Some longer reads if you’re looking for something to do on your sunday afternoon/evening.

An essay on lesbian separatists in the 1970s, one on being the smartest girl in the room, one on what genius does in a country where it’s not met with opportunity, and finally, a magical tale about a musical prodigy.

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Bits and Pieces

Guess which college asks  applicants to describe what “YOLO” means to them? 

Wikimedia photo

Wikimedia photo

Tufts. It’s Tufts. The class of 2018 may choose the following as one of the options:

E) The ancient Romans started it when they coined the phrase “Carpe diem.” Jonathan Larson proclaimed “No day but today!” and most recently, Drake explained You Only Live Once (YOLO). Have you ever seized the day? Lived like there was no tomorrow? Or perhaps you plan to shout YOLO while jumping into something in the future. What does #YOLO mean to you?

no further comment. H/T Dan Drezner.

Below the fold: Books people stop reading, and why they put them down. How violence ensures trust in the Mafia. And what the terms development organizations like to use really mean.

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Africa Coup Update

From the Atlantic Big Picture blog

Mali

Not directly a coup, and the rebels are out (for now), and the Guardian gives us an update:

Few of the things a city needs in order to function – electricity, fuel, banks, marketplaces, and basic government services such as the town hall or judiciary – are fully up and running.

There are other, less visible but equally pernicious problems, including a breakdown in the fabric of a citizenry long-famed, thanks to Timbuktu’s location at the crossroads of the Sahara, for its cosmopolitan mix of cultures and ethnicities. Mali also contends with a chronic regional food security crisis that leaves millions of people teetering on the edge of catastrophe every time the rains fail.

Central African Republic

Did you know there was a coup in the CAF in March? Neither did I until today, or maybe I forgot. Anyways, the country is now facing a malaria crisis as the remnants of the health care system collapse with the exodus of foreign workers and agencies. Médicins sans Frontières are stepping up, but the situation looks really bleak:

MSF said in the first quarter, health facilities it supported treated about 74,700 patients for malaria, a 33% increase over the same period in 2012

…disruption of the health system has interrupted treatment of people with HIV. It estimates that about 11,000 HIV-positive people (73% of all people who are on antiretroviral treatment) have had their treatment interrupted due to drug supply problems. Routine vaccinations for diseases such as measles, meningitis and whooping cough have also been disrupted.

Read more here

Egypt

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Reading on the resource grab, corruption

The New Yorker published an excellent story, “Buried Secrets — How an Israeli billionaire wrested control of one of Africa’s biggest prizes”

The Western world has always thought of Africa as a continent to take things from, whether it was diamonds, rubber, or slaves. This outlook was inscribed into the very names of Guinea’s neighbor Côte d’Ivoire and of Ghana, which was known to its British masters as the Gold Coast. During the Victorian period, the exploitation of resources was especially brutal; King Leopold II, of Belgium, was so rapacious in his pursuit of rubber that ten million people in the Congo Free State died as a result. The new international stampede for African resources could become another grim story, or it could present an unprecedented opportunity for economic development.

Guinea has an iron ore deposit that may be worth up to US$140 Billion. The mining rights, which had been granted to Rio Tinto, were mysteriously rescinded and granted to an Israeli company with no mining experience — under more than dubious circumstances. Read the story for an international thriller as the new, (more) democratic government of Guinea seeks to find the evidence of corruption that would allow them to claim the resources back. Read it also for a glimpse of just how difficult uncovering corruption can be.

Many Sub-Saharan African countries are in a tight spot: they are far poorer than they should be, and many are sitting on a vast wealth of resources that they don’t have the capital to extract. The Chinese are happy to help, and so are others. The question around these deals is always whether the nations in question get a fair share. Often, it seems, most of the benefit goes to élites and of course the foreign countries so generously providing funding.

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