danalwyn: (Default)
It will surprise nobody who reads this journal to realize that I keep up a lot on current events, mostly those involving conflict.

In the aftermath of 9/11 one of the first questions America asked itself was "Why do they hate us?" A lot of answers came fast and furious, because of past events, because of religion, because of fundamentalism, but they were mostly wrong because this is the wrong question. As people became aware that the entire world was involved in a great clash that transcended a religious divide, a political divide, and even geographic divides. The world was, in its entirety, in struggle.

It is human nature to draw narrative out of a great panorama. A number of narratives have been drawn out of this one. One of my personal favorites is the idea that what you see throughout the world is a grand reaction to global inter-connection. On one side is a world where people communicate across the world at the drop of a hat via Skype and SMS and Twitter, where you can order something from a shop in China for delivery in Uganda; a place with a huge culture made up of common threads that pokes its sharp, pointy elbows into every available spot. On the other side lies a world of our fathers and grandfathers, or traditionalists and ancient cultures and a cycle of years that passes back centuries (nostalgic centuries of course, history is rarely so kind as to be comfortingly static).

It's hard to explain human nature, but that's never stopped me from pontificating before )
danalwyn: (Default)
Every once in a while I worry that I'll lose my job, and that I won't have the skills to manage to get another one. After all, the world is full of talented and experienced people, many of whom seem to be in my field.

Then I visit LJ. Honestly, if people are getting paid to roll out changes like that, then I've got no worries at all, do I?
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There are crazy people all over the internet. You run into them. You deal with it. But every once in a while you run into someone so strange, so utterly fucked-up, that your brain just throws out a red card and shuts down. And today I ran into one: Sam Childers, Christian Preacher, Missionary, and either one of the most irresponsible men on the planet, or just batshit insane.

Charity: You're Doing It Wrong )


Jul. 22nd, 2011 08:00 am
danalwyn: (Default)
It's long been assumed that Americans had a strong lead on really weird reality television. I mean, think about it, we had shows where people basically got married because the producers decided to do so.

Well, it turns out we may be beat. Zambia also has a show where 18 women compete in order to win the prize of $9000 for their marriage. But the show has a twist, all the contestants are prostitutes recruited from the streets of Zambia. Apparently they get voted off by the viewers, one by one, until the last one gets the grand marital prize.

Now, I can see how this show claims to do some good. The losers get hefty consolation prizes, and everyone apparently gets personal counseling and vocational skill training. In theory all of them will be offered full-time jobs, and the show seems to indicate that their goal is to show that prostitution is not a glamorous business in Zambia.

But as Wronging Rights points out, there's something that just seems really wrong about this show (already in its third season). And I can't help but think that if you really wanted to help prostitutes out there had to be a better way then turn them into a spectacle on TV and making them engage in cooking and housekeeping competitions on a show with the cringe-inducing title Ready for Marriage. Isn't there some other way you can show how bad prostitution is in Zambia, and how the people who are trapped in that field are real people who are willing to fight their way out if just given the chance, without forcing them to go through housecleaning competitions? Why not show them learning skills, getting jobs, building careers, and starting businesses instead?

It seems that even in Zambia, the only way television will let prostitutes leave their job is through the altar or the grave.
danalwyn: (Default)
Dear America,

Don't be stupid.

The Coast Guard was searching for a man in the Pacific Ocean near the Klamath River in Del Norte County in Northern California. The man was swept away after he and two friends reportedly traveled to the shoreline to take photos of the incoming tsunami waves, Lt. Todd Vorenkamp said. His friends made it back to shore.

Quote from MSNBC.
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Crazy, WTF, "Stand back, we're about to try science!" research result of the day:

Participants were asked to make eight choices; each was between receiving a small, but immediate, reward and a larger, but delayed, reward. For example, they could choose to receive either $16 tomorrow or $30 in 35 days.

The researchers found that the people with full bladders were better at holding out for the larger reward later. Other experiments reinforced this link; for example, in one, just thinking about words related to urination triggered the same effect.

From this press release for a paper slated to appear in the APS journal Psychological Science. Hat tip to Tyler Cowen.
danalwyn: (Default)
There are a lot of things I should be writing about. I'm not writing about any of them now.

Instead, courtesy of Tyler Cowen, I bring you one of the most WTF-inducing sentences to ever start a news article:

A German student created a major traffic jam in Bavaria after making a rude gesture at a group of Hell's Angels motorcycle gang members, hurling a puppy at them and then escaping on a stolen bulldozer.

There is no conceivable universe I can think of where this makes any amount of sense whatsoever, yet it continues to sit there in factual smugness. Is it June Fool's Day in Bavaria or something?
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I guess it's March now, and even though I no longer live in California I still have some attachment to the state, so I just thought I'd take a moment to say a big resounding 'fuck it' to all my friends out west.

Today's prediction: if the state Senate passes it, the bill will have exactly the opposite effect that it was intended to have.
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Want to learn more about the economic theory of recessions and depressions? Want to watch rap videos made by old, dead, white guys? Want to seriously raise your geek rating through the roof? Well now, thanks to this, you can do all three. Just watch this video and you will have it stuck in your head all goddamned day be enlightened.

I don't know why I think this is awesome, but I do, and I don't even like the Austrians.
danalwyn: (Default)
I don't understand this whole "Midwest winter" thing. Imagine it. It's December. It's starting to snow fairly regularly, in fact there'll probably be at least some snow on the ground from here until March. The winds are getting bitter and cold, the roads are getting icy, and it's crowded everywhere because the Christmas season is in full swing.

Is this weather perfect for:

a) Building snowmen or snow forts with kids?
b) Curling up in a heated room with a blanket and your hot drink of choice?
c) Starting road construction on as many vital major roads as possible?

If you answered c), you probably live in Illinois. Although the term "live" may not be biologically accurate once the rest of us catch up to you.


Dec. 17th, 2009 08:59 am
danalwyn: (Default)
What? What? What?

I think I made myself sick just by looking at that.
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For your Friday WTF, if you thought your country had problems with its legal system, you don't have anything on Liberia, which may now be the most lawless country in the world. As in, it doesn't have any laws.

This is because, as Foreign Policy reports, Philip Banks, who has been head of the country's Justice department, has copyrighted them. Having served as head of the team who gathered and codified all laws passed in the twenty years of conflict following 1978 into a code in sync with the previous laws, Banks took the unusual step of copyrighting his work, claiming that the law of Liberia, or at least the physical version, is his intellectual property, and is refusing to let the government to which they pertain print any copies. Emails reveal that he and the team of lawyers who codified the property are willing to relinquish their copyright for a sum of money to pay their costs, somewhere between $150,000 and $360,000. The government of Liberia, at the moment, isn't paying (and may not even know if it's legal to pay). In the meantime, God only knows who's recording their current laws.

Regardless of whether he gets paid or not, Banks might want to make sure that there's a law in the set protecting him before he gives them up. Otherwise he may find his own book thrown at him.
danalwyn: (Default)
If you were wondering if the world is still a fucked up place, well then I have your answer; it still is.

The survey size is small; the survey itself is geographically limited, but still. One in four? One in four? And more then once? I don't have to crunch the ugly statistics for you to get an idea of what this means on the victim side of the equation.

Witty and scathing are both failing me here. Maybe arson would be more apt method of demonstrating my opinion.


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