Monday, June 30, 2008

How to Make Terrorism Funny!

Ok, so this may not be the best title but one look at this article from Neatorama and you will have to agree. These are the "Top 10 Strangest Anti-Terrorism Patents" and they are hilarious! 

Basically the entire premise of whomever came up with any of these must have been to combine two parts comic books, one part black ops, and two parts cocaine and to mix until dizzy and then say "Go!" ala Speed Racer. 


Friday, June 27, 2008

Best Thing EVER!

Ok, I read this short story in my Torture class in the fall and it is the best thing I have EVER read. It is by Ursula Le Guin and is called "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas". Truly, truly amazing. 

Here it is!

Are you feeling Schizophrenic?

Ever wonder what happens beneath the comics that grace our daily papers? Well, one person did. And from this, he developed the website Garfield Minus Garfield. 

The basic premise of this is that we all suffer, but what happens when you suffer alone? What would happen if we took a hard look at Garfield comics and the life that Jon lives? Underneath it all, as Dan Walsh found a schizophrenic man "and the empty desperation of modern life" (Walsh). I truly think that it speaks volumes of our modern world. It is really easy to find yourself falling in love with Jon and the pain he goes through without Garfield or Odie. The desperation, the loneliness, everything just screams existentialism. And, as I heard from TIME Magazine, Jim Davis never really thought of Garfield this way. 

As I remember, Garfield Minus Garfield was brought to Davis' attention and he loved it. He had never intended Garfield to be a commentary on the loneliness of suburban life, much less for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

But garfield Minus Garfield exposes us to thoughts and feelings that we all experience. So, as Walsh says on the website:  "Let's laugh and learn with him [Jon] on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb." I couldn't have said it better myself!

Find Garfield Minus garfield here


Well, I've become a bit of a newsjunkie. I spend hours on end on this new website I've found. It is from the Havaria Information Service. They compile important news alerts from around the world onto one giant map. You can see volcano eruptions, earthquakes, droughts, typhoons, hurricanes, wildfires, large scale vehicle incidents, etc on this site. It is amazing. 

Basically what I find the most interesting is that it reports things that you would never normally hear about, such as the 27 earthquakes to hit the Baltic Region in the past 3 days (all around 3.0, but still), the wildfires in Turkey, volcano eruptions in Meso-America, and more. YAY!

Here it is!

Took You Long Enough!

I have some great news from my favorite blog ever GlobalDashboad
Read it here!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sorry Dick (Cheney) The World Says No, No, No!

Ok, so I have a new favorite site, it is the WPO site that I told you about the other day

They released a new report this week detailing how people (for some reason) are against torture! And again backing up my earlier statements that Bush (and cronies) should move to Nigeria. 

I think this document should be an eye-opening document for the Bush Administration. Well, maybe they will listen to the opinion of the world over just the United States. Or is it that all of them are terrorist supporting countries (I doubt that Mexico, Great Britain, or Poland are harboring/supporting many "terrorists" but I may be wrong.). Nonetheless, I think that if 57% of the world's population says that torture is wrong in any form and only 26% say they would accept limited torture of TERRORISTS (No, Bush and Co. NOT suspected terrorists, but honest-to-goodness terrorists.) that this should be the turing point whereby Bush, Alito, Gonzales, and Cheney all say "Sorry world, we've been allowing the torture of people and many of them are not shown to be directly linked to terrorists. And by all means, we deserve to be held accountable for our crimes," (ICC take note!). But let's be honest, this will not happen. It should but it won't. 

Moreover, if you are among the 26% or the 9% here then please give me some rational because after reading about torture in so many ways this past fall (in a class designed to spark discussions on torture) I simply can't in good conscience say "Go ahead and water-board this man for information," in any situation I can imagine. 

I am constantly reminded of the story of Omelas. Where one person is tortured in order to bring about prosperity for the rest of the community. But the ending is what gets me. Those that chose not to walk around and act as if everything is ok despite the knowledge of what is occurring receive a much better life.  As such I just have to say, I am one who walks away from Omelas. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bush Should Move to Nigeria

Now, I've been saying this for a while, but according to a new report I finally have some empirical evidence that he should move to Nigeria, or Azerbaijan, or even India. 

Let me explain, According to, Bush is more liked in these places than the United States. (hereafter referred to as WPO because I don't want to use copy/paste or retype that) just released a report of "Leaders with a Global Profile". Fancy right? Basically what they are doing is working to find out which leaders work, and which leaders should just step down. And the results are not that good for President Bush. 

Now, let's make two things clear. I do not like President Bush that much, but I do hold respect for the office that he holds (though for not much longer). Second, I hate "Bush-bashing" I find it in bad taste. Now, I will admit I am for the occasional joke or two but for the most part I try to stray away from such a tactless approach. (But, I have said numerous times that Bush should move to Nigeria, what can I say?) 

Moving on. According to this report, the global community has more confidence in President Mahmoud  Ahmadinejad of Iran. Now, in case you have been living under a rock for the past three years, this is the man who called the Holocaust a myth and said " [w]e don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that in our country....I don't know who's told you we have it." Needless to say, I don't quite enjoy him as most of the world was assumed to agree. And yet he scored 1 country that has confidence in him more  and 1 country less that holds "no/not so much confidence" point compared to President Bush who only bested President Musharraf of Pakistan. Yes, you read that right, our President apparently has less confidence placed in him than a Holocaust denying homophobe, but beats out the President who turned Pakistan into a worse place than it has been in almost a decade. YAY Bush! 

The interesting thing to me is that most of Bush's approval came from Nigeria, Azerbaijan, India, China, Thailand, South Korea, and Spain. The places that have the least confidence in his leadership include: Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Argentina, and Mexico. 

The good news is that all is not lost as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon holds favorable appeal in 9 countries polled which was the only "world leader" to have more nations favoring him than those that do not favor him (9 vs 8). 

All in all, this signals to me that our leaders need to step it up. The world leaders on a whole need to show the world that they are capable of tackling the issues that face us on a larger scale, including but not limited to: inflation, hunger, poverty, trade, education, and women's rights. Once our leaders show that they are able to conquer these issues in any minuscule amount (or at least acknowledge their need to be dealt with) I know I will not placing too much confidence in them. 

And as a means of explaining Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's "high ratings" I would look to the fact that he has been working heavily on the UN's food prices agenda, working on water scarcity and climate change, and the fact that he seems to truly care. So, world leaders, are you going to take a stand and follow in Mr. Ki-moon's footsteps? 

P.S. Thank you WPO for doing this report, hopefully some "higher-ups" will take note. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

How Would You Spend $12.75 Billion?

Whether you would want to invest half of it, splurge as much of it as fast as possible, or you wanted to buy the nation of Zambia, I doubt that the economists at the Copenhagen Consensus have the same idea that you do.

The Copenhagen Consensus is a group of economists brought together to solve the world's problems using welfare economics to determine the best plans of action using cost/benefit principles. Some of the issues that they have drawn out plans for include: malnutrition, trade, disease, education, Women's schooling and rights, global warming, clean water, and air pollution.

In their recently released results, they budget $18.75 billion towards the world's problems that looked astonishingly similar (read exactly like) this:

Now I haven't quite figured out whether or not I agree with their budgeting, but I do like the fact that it exists. Now, the only question is, who will listen? 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

When is "Never Again" Actually Going to Happen?

This is a piece that I wrote a while ago. I am also including several comments that were left to show the progression of my argument.

After the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust, the world community famously said, “Never again.” But, then Australia separated 20,000 to 25,000 Aboriginal children from their families in an attempt to wipe them out.

Then Guatemala happened and 200,000 people were killed because they were Indians.
Then Bangladesh happened, where approximately 1.5 million people were killed because the Bengalis wanted to be liberated.
Then there was Burundi, twice, where the ethnic minority, the Hutu were slaughtered by the Tutsi resulting altogether in as many as 700,000 deaths.
Then there was Equatorial Guinea, where the Bubi minority lost 80,000 humans.
Then there was Cambodia, where approximately 1.7 million Cambodians were killed in four years by the Khmer Rouge.
Then East Timor occurred almost 102,800 people died by the hands of the Indonesians.
Then there were the Sabra and Shatila massacres carried out by the Lebanese, killing an estimated 3,500 Palestinians.
Then Ethiopia occurred, killing up to 500,000 people in two years, including 150,000 university students, intellectuals, and politicians.
Then there was Iraq, where more than 200,000 people were killed because they were Kurdish, the ethnic minority.
Then there was Tibet, where more than one million Tibetans were killed as a display of China's rule over Tibet.
Then there was Brazil, where 33 Tikuna were slaughtered in an attempt to destroy them completely, for their land.
Then there was the Democratic Republic of the Congo where more than 5.4 million have died. Then there was South Africa, where 1,700 Boers have been killed.
And let us not forget Bosnia and Herzegovina where almost 110,000 were killed.
Nor should we forget the 100 days in Rwanda where 937,000 Tutsi and Hutu were slaughtered, mostly by machetes, by the Hutus. It should also be noted that almost 1 billion people have been displaced due to these genocides.

But, for some reason, we ignore the first Genocide of the 21st century, Darfur. A place where more than two million lives have been lost and more than 4 million people have been displaced since 1983. Over 400,000 of these deaths and 2 million of these displacements have occurred since 2003. We ignore them, just like we ignored the 15 genocides since the Holocaust; just like we said we wouldn't.

Darfur is a unique opportunity for the world community to come together to show that they will not condone genocide in this new century and that genocide will be punished severely. Moreover, it is an opportunity for the world community to show Africa that it is not the forgotten continent that it seems like at times. But instead, the world makes promises to provide diplomats and peace keepers and helicopters and armored vehicles and logistical support and food for those displaced and support for those hunted by their government to show that someone cares. Darfur can stop, we just need to show that we care. That when we say NEVER AGAIN, we mean it. That the promises of the Western World are real and will be kept, that they are not just empty words.

There is so much we can do, and so much we should do...the question is, why aren't we?


Daniel Metzger wrote:

A much better question is, when are we going to say "never again" to the State? “Conservatives” claim they "love Jesus," but let's face it, they love the State more. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the war in Iraq. “Liberals” claim to love liberty? But is it liberty they love when they call for government intervention into, as well as regulation and taxation of every area of our lives? No, I think liberals love the State more than they love liberty. How can liberals condemn the conservatives for the Iraq War if they seek to send troops into Darfur, a war where those fighting today have no idea why they are even fighting… because they are sometimes the third generation of combatant. How can conservatives condemn liberals for wanting taxation, regulation, and nanny-statism when the State has grown more quickly under Bush than Clinton? I am not excusing Clinton, because grew the State much faster than Bush the First, who grew it faster..., ect, ad nauseam.

All of the wars and conflicts here were perpetuated by the power of some State. Each began with a few individuals who realized they could not kill or steal or seize power nearly as efficiently as they could using the awesome, almighty power of the State. There was no way killing of this scale could be accomplished without State sanctioning. It doesn’t happen. If I go and kill 15 people with a machete, I’m a murderer and deserve to be executed. But if I can get the government to help me, God help us all, because they can help me eradicate 1,500,000 people like you. It’s sick, but it could not happen with out the power of the State.

My point is simply this: Why are we calling for government intervention again? Is that institution that enables such genocide and acts of war to take place so benevolent that we can trust it to stop genocide? Shall we canonize Adolf Hitler? NO! Shall we call upon the United Nations, a body consisting almost entirely of dictatorships and democracies that have human rights violations so egregious that they should sanction themselves, to intervene in a human rights violation? Do we call upon the Klu Klux Klan to halt rascism? NO!

If someone wants to stop the genocide, they are more than welcome to donate their money, with which they are entitled to do anything they want, or they may get their passport, fly to Sudan, and try to negotiate peace amidst the flying bullets, but they may not petition the State to intervene in the problems of the State. It's not reasonable.

Jacob Henerey wrote:
Hey guys! Let's give the UN more money. They're GREAT at stopping wars and violence! In fact, I can't think of anybody better suited to the task than the UN. I mean, it's not like they've ever caused wars or anything, right?

Tomas Moreno wrote:
I think that one point that you are missing Metzger is that governments are the best way to do this because the people who do care generally do not have the large pockets that they need to end the problem, governments do. As you pointed out, many times atrocities cannot start without government support (But the LRA is a prime example of when that is untrue.) as such, they also are a great way of ending them because they are able to bring together many more people than NGOs and activist groups generally can.

Jacob, true the UN isn't perfect, but I would like for you to name one thing that is. Moreover, what is a better unilateral, multinational force that could take care of a large issue like genocide.

I also believe that since the UN passed Resolution 1769 saying that they would help, almost a year ago, they should do something.

Sean Cox-Marcellin wrote:
I think I must reluctantly agree with Mr. Moreno here. Although there are few flags for which "human rights violations" have not been committed, it would be a poor excuse for the collective States to do nothing in the face of abhorrant abuses.

Many States that have definitions of human rights come to violate them at some time, so it is true that a State cannot be trusted to follow its own laws. Further, when Stalin executed his purges, they violated no Soviet law, for Stalin was the law. No internal action stopped the Holocaust: it took the bloodiest war in mankind's history and the complete destruction of the State of Germany (although admittingly the ending of the Holocaust was not the goal, we should not refuse to consider the actions and extent empirically necessary to stop it).

Metzger suggests (I do hope this isn't strawman) that individuals try to stop such genocides -- but what truly can individuals do? Did not individuals resist the rounding up of the Jews, did not individuals protest the massacres in Tibet, are not people railing against the crisis in Darfur? And to what end? None!

The main problems with "Human Rights' violations" come simply with defining Human Rights and when they have been violated. One way to solve this is to allow each nation to define its peoples' rights, but this would allow nearly every genocide listed to occur again. Now if we as humans are to acknowledge that mass murder is unacceptable behavior we should move forward to offer a way for it to be stopped.

Just as governments arbitrate disputes of individuals within their borders and ensure the rights of its member indivuals, so should the United Nations, a body of States, protect not only the rights of the sovereign nations that compose it but also the people who compose the sovereign nations. A State is nothing if not for its people, and the United Nations final responsibility lies with the people that take shelter under its umbrella for umbrellas.

The United Nations, composed of the world nations, has the responsibility to define reasonable and applicable Rights for all People, and then protect these Rights by, if necessary, obliterating the deviant State. If a government can reprimand, fine, imprison (or execute, this is a little more controversial, however) individuals for harming or menacing others, the United Nations should have the power to do so unto States if it is to be at all effective.

At this point my brain has become exhausted as the caffeine has worn thin, so I must end my argument inconclusively, my apologies. Tommy feel free to addend a conclusion of your own design if you feel up to it. By the way, Tomas, spot any reductio ad Hitlerum?

Tomas Moreno wrote:
Sean, nicely stated. I don't see any reductio ad Hitlerum because you are arguing that what they did was bad and that what is done now is bad not because the Nazis did it but because of the underlying issues....moreover, they don't understand the monumentalness (excuse the fake word usage) of this occasion, you and i agree! (may be a sign of the apocalypse!)

Jacob Henerey wrote:

*On a serious note: I have a problem with a non-sovereign international body being able to intervene in the politics of a sovereign state. Sure, it may be for a "good cause" but when said precedent is set, what's to keep such body from intervening in other affairs of state. I view it as a threat to national sovereignty and liberty.

Sean Cox-Marcellin wrote:
Age-old issue: Who watchers the watchers?

Opportunity Cost of Life

In economics, one principle concept is that of opportunity cost. Essentially what it means is the cost of what you are not doing. For example, you have $5 and you can chose to eat a filling meal at a Thai restaurant or you can put that into the bank. The opportunity cost for eating is the interest you would gain from that $5 in a set of time. Pretty simple right? Well, let's apply this to current events.

As most people know, there is a global food shortage. Well, part of the reason for this is that it is an opportunity cost.

You have a fixed amount of corn in the world and a fixed amount of land on which you may grow corn and other similar vegetables. As such, farmers must determine what they are going to invest their land and their resources in. Should they put it into feeding people as tradition states one should and earn a decent profit? Or should they put it toward growing corn with which they are able to sell to ethanol plants for a very high profit. Simple supply and demand states they will do the latter. As such, they ignore the other market for corn (and subsequently the land upon which it is grown) making costs skyrocket.

The ignored opportunity cost of doing this though is the lives of people across the world who need that corn, or those soy beans, or that wheat, etc. But, according to French Agriculture Minister Michael Barnier, we shouldn't put "too much trust in the market" just as "[w]e must not leave the vital issue of feeding people to the mercy of market laws and international speculation." Yes, Mr. Barnier we shouldn't put too much trust in a free market, that is why your beloved French farmers have been receiving about $8.2 billion from the EU in agriculture subsidies. Moreover Mr. Barnier, market laws are laws for a reason, the market follows them! As such, we do not leave people to the mercy of them, they simply are prone to them, just as they are prone to international speculation. But, had your precious farmers not had the great subsidies they did receive, most likely (as many economists will tell you), the world would have been able to adjust to a gradual rise in food prices instead of the 80% jump in 3 years it did experience according to the UNFAO.

All in all, this is an issue that needs to be dealt with now, but without mandates being put in place for what crops are to be grown in certain areas, and where percentages may be sold, this will be with us for a long, long time. In fact,according to The Washington Post's Anthony Faiola: "the world must cope with a new reality of more expensive food". Sadly, many people (over 100 million) will be unable to survive this. and according to UN Secretary General (and personal hero) Ban Ki-moon: "This crisis could result in a cascade of others... and become a multidimensional problem affecting economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world."

Excuse me Secretary General Ki-moon, but have we not already seen this? Haiti's prime minister was brought down, children in Mauritania must go to bed hungry, Manjeet Singh and others in India must hoard rice for fear that it will be a luxury within the coming months, and Sam's Club has started to restrict sales of rice. In these examples alone, I count social progress, political security, and economic growth all present. If I can see that, why can the leaders of the world not?

I am all for a free market, but in times like this, we really need to either mandate a percentage of sales of certain crops to go toward food, or the government needs to start buying it like crazy so as to provide some to those in need. There needs to be quick, efficient legislation both nationally and internationally dealing with domestic as well as international issues so this may be quelled. Otherwise, we may see another Haiti; and I fear that this time, the citizens will not be stopped as easily and that the country may just be a developed or developing one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Yunus

So, I found this video on YouTube yesterday. It is a part of the ___@Google Series. Basically, Google pays authors, candidates, influential people, CEOs, etc to go and speak at various Google Complexes (also known as Googleplexes, really). Here, Yunus discusses pieces from his book and his thoughts in general.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This is Very Cool

This is developed by the Digital Ethnography Team at K-State. Truly amazing and informative about our changing world!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

1st Post and Some Yunus

Hello and Welcome! This is the first post of my new blog whereby I will be discussing topics of interest on a global scale. First up, Muhammad Yunus' "Creating a World Without Poverty". Now I am not done with it yet, but nonetheless, it has made me think of so many issues that I simply had to write about it!

In Yunus' sophomore book, he discusses his reasoning in creating Grameen Bank. Yunus argues that NGOs, charities, governmental organizations, and traditional businesses, what he calls PMBs cannot aptly meet the idea of ending poverty and creating sustainability because of their very structure. Instead, he calls for a fulfillment of the missing parts of capitalism, Social Business. Yunus then continues to define social business and all of its applications, all in all filling out approximately 50 pages, with almost 200 left to go.

Yunus' argument is very valid, NGOs simply lack usually structure and adaptability, charities need to always be searching for more funding, governmental organizations are inefficient due to their bureaucratic nature, and traditional businesses need to maximize profit. All very true and pointed out in Dr. Yunus' book.

Social business, again as Yunus points out, seems to be the perfect match. Social businesses are identical to traditional businesses except that they search not to maximize profits so they can consider themselves a success, but instead so they can expand their lines and produce more net benefit for whatever area they are attempting to aid. Take this example:

An organization is founded to provide clean, cheap energy to developing countries so that they may better advance technologically via industrialization. As such, they have found their place in the market, just like a traditional business. But, instead of increasing their price, they keep it high enough to cover their costs, but low enough so their market may be satisfied. Yunus stated that their could easily be competition and that it would be encouraged. There would be investors, etc. Simply, they would not get any revenue outside of what they initially put into the company.

Now I believe that this is a great idea, but I wonder about its viability in poorer areas of more developed countries. Take Grameen Bank for example, what is its viability in a poorer area like Harlem, inner city LA, or the Lower 9th Ward. They claim a 97.8% repayment rate in rural villages in Bangladesh, but is this viable for poor areas of the 1st World, or semi-developed countries?