22 April 2014

Week in Review: Styling and stories from the past week

Articles He Wrote
Picture of the Day


The vintage styling of Namibian fashion designer Lourens Gebhardt. See more on his tumblr page.

Good Reads
  • Harrison Ford tells the back story for what led to the iconic sword/gun fight scene in Indian Jones, in a reddit AMA.
  • This map shows the number of executions by US state as of 2014.
  • The NY Times investigates the handling of the Jamies Winston rape investigation, revealing just how terribly law enforcement did in its job.
  • A Raiders cheerleader sues the team for unfair working conditions and paying her below minimum wage. 
  • A Princeton study on US policy finds the rich get what they want and the middle class are left out. America is an oligarchy, they conclude.
  • Supposedly America’s 50 best coffee shops. The few I've been to that are on the list are excellent. 
  • Neat visual and interactive reporting explaining trends in how Americans die. Most of it is good news
  • Africa's many obstacles have allowed for local entrepreneurs to beat the West at reinventing money for the mobile age.
  • How the Africa's many obstacles, from widespread poverty to failed states, allowed African entrepreneurs to beat the West at reinventing money for the mobile age.
  • Washington's remorse over standing by during the genocide 20 years ago is enabling repression today, says Howard French. 
  • Why We Should Be Paying Attention to Elections in Burkina Faso.

16 April 2014

Call for Abstracts: Voice and Matter – Glocal Conference on Communication for Development

Deadline: 23 May 2014, 00:00 (CET)

Voice and Matter is the fourth annual Communication for Development conference arranged by Ørecomm – Centre for Communication and Glocal Change, this year merged with Roskilde University’s biannual scientific conference, Sunrise.

When? 17-20 September 2014
Where? Roskilde University (Denmark) & Malmö University (Sweden)The conference aims to explore the dynamic relationship – and possible convergence – between voice and matter in the context of communication for development theory and practice.

We invite researchers, students, practitioners, authors, artists and filmmakers to submit abstracts on the following themes:
  • New Social Actors and ICT for Development. The technocentric concept of ICT4D raises questions on the power over and use of technology. Who are the new social actors and new social movements? How do they pursue their goals using ICTs? This session invites theoretical and empirical reflections, uncovering emerging perspectives on technology, voice and matter
  • ICT4D Without ICT4G? As photos of all-male ICT4D conference panels and technology fairs dominated by men are circulated on social networks, questions about gender issues in ICT4D research and practice are more pressing than ever. This panel invites theoretical reflections andinnovative case studies on gender, power and the future of ICT4D.
  • The Present and Future of Development Journalism International development journalism is exploring new avenues to connect with different audiences and to communicate social change. This panel highlights new innovative approaches as well as discussing the challenges and limitations in an age where ‘everybody is a broadcaster’.
  • Fiction Matters Recent decades have in many parts of the world brought new genres of fiction to critical acclaim. New authors engage with movement, migration and change in ways that are debatedglobally. This panel will explore fiction, that in new ways engage with therelation between the social and the global, and between voice and matter.Histories of Diaspora Nation-states and national mentalities have shaped societies we live in through reductive classifications. New methods now move beyond this logic, allowing for improved understanding of the changing role of the state over time, and for new transcultural encounters. This panel explores methods in approaching the diaspora context in space and time.
Deadlines
  • Submission of abstracts are accepted until 23 May 2014, oo:oo (CET)
  • Accepted abstracts will be announced individually by 6 June 2014
Guidelines
  • Email your abstract of 200-300 words to orecomm@gmail.com with the subject "Voice & Matter Abstract"
  • Abstracts must include the presenter's name, affiliation, email and postal address.
  • Please name your abstract in the following way: name+surname_abstract
Questions? Please feel free to share this call for abstracts with colleagues, partners and friends.

14 April 2014

Kicking off the week by looking at the last one

Sign up for the Newsletter From the Cave (as seen below) to land directly in your already crowded inbox each week, by going here.

Articles He Wrote

Will the US foreign aid budget continue its decline?
Discussions in DC are now taking place over the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and the downward trend of foreign aid spending may resume.

US underfunding crucial global health research and development, warns group
A GHTC report warns that the political wrangling over federal budgets in Washington DC are putting crucial global health research and development at risk.

Income growth is great, just not for reducing child undernutrition
It has been held that improving the economies of developing countries can help reduce undernutrition. New research says that is not actually happening.

Genocide anniversary reignites French-Rwandan political tensions
Comments made by Rwandan President Paul Kagame about France's complicity in the nation's genocide throws cold water on the improving relations between them.

World needs to get its shit together on climate change
Another report from the UN warns about the negative effects of climate change on the world, but will it actually get people to take action?

Gif Me a Break


Stephan Colbert will be replacing David Letterman over at the Late Show next year.

Good Reads

  • Satirical spoilers for the final season of Mad Men that cut close to what could happen.
  • Two-thirds of the neighborhoods in the bottom fourth of the national income distribution in 1980 were still at the bottom in 2008. 
  • You like art (music, paintings, etc) when you believe the artist is eccentric (aka why people like Bjork and Lady Gaga).
  • USA Network is pretty much the anti-AMC, and it's getting the big audience. Here's why.
  • "Upworthy enrolls us in the establishment of our own organized ignorance." 
  • Coffee nerd alert: MIT mapped the neighborhoods served by independent coffee shops in San Francisco and Cambridge.
  • Tracking down the elusive great satirist Tom Lehrer, who continues to be an influence a half century after he suddenly stopped writing music.
  • A new series on Showtime tries to make climate change more interesting by using celebrities. See the first episode in full here.

Song of the Week



tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain

Development Goodies

  • We "need a new way of thinking about the challenge of international development that goes beyond obsolete divisions of North-South."
  • What should be the role of the NGO?
  • “You’re just not that vulnerable enough” – the situation of urban displacement in Libya.
  • When an aid project goes wrong, who is responsible
  • Tina Rosenberg on the possibility of a green revolution for Africa.
  • Bill Easterly and Owen Barder debated aid, human rights and technocrats. 
  • Remember Sockket, the ball that kids play with and generates electricity? Tiny Spark actually investigates what happens to the much-touted balls. 
  • Twenty years ago, Rwanda descended into the madness of genocide. UN peacekeepers were stretched to breaking point – but one stood out, taking huge risks to save hundreds of lives. His story.

Tweet of the Week

08 April 2014

A belated, but not forgotten, week in review

Articles He Wrote

An AP report reveals that a US-backed program attempted to develop a Twitter-like service with the goal that it would help spark political unrest in Cuba.
USAID unveiled its new innovation lab to some fanfare and concerns about its partnerships with the private sector.
A documentary now in theaters provides an inside look at an oil company operating in Ghana following the discovery of oil.
Hospitals run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have experienced looting and murdered patients, adding to the high concerns for South Sudan.
We have looked previously at visual representations of migration, but these two visuals manage to capture the scale of movement and its impacts.
Gif Me a Break
Good Reads
  • It doesn't matter how smart you know, politics blinds your ability to make reasoned assessments
  • The state of inequality and why it is cause for concern in six charts.
  • Recently discovered skeletons show the Black Death was spread by coughs and sneezes, not rats.
  • Why Shakespeare should be read with an accent closer to Scottish than British English.
  • "But here’s the thing the anti-vaxxers need to know, for the one billionth time: You’re wrong. Really, it’s that simple."
  • Catch up on the ongoing debate between Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic and Jonathan Chait of New Yorker over culture and race.
  • The use of a private debt collector has brought back de facto debtor prisons.
  • Remembering Kurt Cobain 20 years after his death.
  • The abusive behavior of one of the most controversial pastors in America.
  • The UN peacekeeper to saved hundreds of lives during the Rwandan genocide, 20 years ago.
  • It's a lot easier being a white guy, on Twitter.
  • Neil Young's new digital music player has raised more than $5 million on Kicksterter.
Song of the Day

The War on Drugs - Red Eyes

Development Goodies
Picture of the Week
See the rest of the 2014 National Geographic traveler contest photo winners here.

28 March 2014

This Week from the Cave (March 28)

Articles He Wrote
Caryn Kaufman knew little about TB until her son contracted the infection from his teacher in 2009. The two are now advocating for TB support in DC.
Genetically modified cotton is not behind suicides in India, but it is also not solving the country's main problem of poverty.
Women farmers are far less productive than their male counterparts. Inputs are a part of the problem, but a new report shows that there are other reasons.
It has been a year since a coup in the Central African Republic started the nation on a downward spiral. It has been a struggle to get the public attention necessary to resolve the political and security crisis in the country.

Mega-dams might not be worth the trouble

New research on mega-dam projects show that they are likely not that great of an investment for governments.
A quick animated video makes the case.
You might already know that it is huge in Kenya, but what about elsewhere on the continent?
Gif Me a Break
Wayne Rooney with the goal of the week.
Good Reads
  • “You Americans don’t know how to rest,” he said. “You rest only to work better.”
  • Forget gas prices, breakfast costs you more than it used to.
  • Did you make yourself into a LEGO figure for a job? I didn't think so.
  • Use the Slate widget to find out how Gwyneth Paltrow would describe your relationship status. 
  • ESPN breaks down the anatomy of a pitch using 7 pitchers from the D-Backs.
  • A long explanation for why Netflix streaming and other online movie services stink.
  • Is the Wu-Tang Clan's one copy of their new album concept a game changer?
  • Thought-provoking piece on the contradictions inherent in humanely raising animals.
  • A convincing argument against the claims that charity is a sufficient social safety net.
  • Documentary maker Errol Morris provides a glimpse (in four parts) into his new film on Donald Rumsfeld.
  • In case the fact that peeing in the pool is gross does not convince you to resist doing so, new research shows of the actual harmcaused by the act.
  • Best in Satire: The Daily Show makes fun of Morning Joe and Colbert one ups Good Morning America's attempt to be hip to the youth.
Song of the Week



Development Goodies

  • comprehensive report from Jina Moore on vulture funds (aka distressed-debt investments) in Africa.
  • In the matter of two days, World Vision USA ended its ban against hiring gay married staff to once again banning it.
  • David McKenzie tears into Bill Easterly's new book.
  • collection of videos from African countries that are getting in on Pharrell's Happy music video dancing.
  • How can we talk about gender-based violence if we can't even agree on a definition?
  • Remember all the campaigns to end conflict minerals? Turns out they are not necessarily behind violence in the Congo.
  • Development interview of the week involves Jeff Sachs and Russ Roberts. Some notable parts excerpted.
  • The UN is reportedly set to close down IRIN, a valuable news source on the global south. Consider signing the petition.
Cutest Photo of the Week
Want to see more pictures of him sleeping with the dog? Thought so. Go here.

21 March 2014

This week in the world, according to me

Sign up to get this newsletter in your inbox each week here.

Columns He Wrote


A closer look at the launch of TOMS coffee, its partnership with Water for People and changing the philanthropic landscape.
What’s to be done about the stalled decline of fertility in Africa?
The fertility rate around the world is falling, but that is not the case in Africa. The Economist says modern contraceptives are needed, but is that right?

Disturbing documentary exposes lasting impacts of Indonesian atrocities

The documentary The Act of Killing exposes the legacy of the mass atrocities committed in Indonesia nearly a half century ago.

How after-school tutoring in Nepal hurts the students that can’t afford it
Research from Nepal shows that teachers are cutting short their time teaching to increase demand for their students to pay for after-school tutoring.

Video of the Day: development as the changing borders of Europe

Online activism has its shortcomings, but is not a failure
The debate over whether online activism through social media makes a difference continues. Two new research papers shed some light on what really happens.

Why are Mexicans sending less money back home?
Latin American countries are recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, remittances are again growing. But not in Mexico and there is a debate over why.

Gif Me a Break
I hope everyone enjoyed Holi/St Patrick's Day, on Monday.

Good Bits and Reads
  • When Goodfellas met College Basketball: The long-lasting legacy of a BC men's basketball point shaving scheme.
  • Don't turn to Google to track flu trends any time soon...
  • Comparing the Constitutions of the world -> India wins on length (146,385 words) and Bolivia on number of rights (88).
  • The steep fall of news media darling and once prodigy Tina Brown.
  • The Boy Scouts have an image problem thanks to its anti-gay stance. Donations fell by half in 2012.
  • World leaders as drag queens. (You read that right) 
  • Didn't we already agree that Kipling's White Man's Burden was racist? Well, Robert Kaplan seems to think that is wrong.
  • Nate Silver and company launched the new FiveThirtyEight, bringing data to journalism. Here are its predictions for the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.
  • Salon speaks with the star of the movie that some have called porn and will certainly evoke strong feelings as it opens this week.
  • Way too many Americans believe in medical conspiracy theories.
  • "I am making peace with the idea that learning how to walk again, in life and in the shoes of grief alike, may not be a recovery that looks like my pre-injury self."
  • Only 15% of the year's 100 top-grossing films featured women in leading roles.
  • Father makes a breakthrough with autistic son, thanks to Disney movies. A moving article in the NY Times magazine.
Song of the Week

Sam Smith - Nirvana

Aid and Development Goodies
  • A bit closer to home, the poverty trap of low-wage work in the US.
  • Sam Loewenberg with a longish report on hunger in Kenya and why aid is not helping much.
  • An enlightening conversation with Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina that touches on wrong-headed conceptions surrounding development.
  • Meet the American PR firm that has one of Africa's more notorious President as a client.
  • Some more jaw-dropping stats on income inequality, from team Oxfam.
  • Sounds too good to be true: this $0.20 ointment could save up to half a million newborns a year.
  • strikingly honest discussion over the tension between resilience building and humanitarian aid in the MSF blog.
  • Maybe budget transparency isn't all its cracked up to be.
Twitter Diplomacy

Who said disagreements can't maintain formality, dear colleagues?

Shameless Self Promotion

I am competing in the annual Twitter Fight Club tournament for the very first time, next week. Think of it as the NCAA basketball tournament for Twitter foreign affairs nerds. I will be needing your votes on Tuesday to pull off a first round upset. Vote here and spread the word.

Sharks!
Those fish are playing it way too cool.

16 March 2014

Sign up for my weekly newsletter

I'm joining the newsletter game. With RSS much less useful thanks to the end of Google Reader and the fact that I am writing for Humanosphere, it is hard to keep up with everything. Each week I will include the stories I wrote as well as some other interesting bits of things that are related to development and not at all. That will include my pick of song of the week, a timely gif and articles that I think are worth reading.

It is going to look a lot like this post from Friday, but it will arrive in your inbox each Friday afternoon. Journalist Ann Freidman has been doing this for a year and I love coming across stories that I missed during the week, plus I can keep up with her great writing. This will be my attempt to do the same.

As always, feedback and ideas are welcome. Sign up below:




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