Archive | Africa RSS feed for this section

Laura Seay Really Wants To Help Real People

9 May

Laura Seay at Murchison Falls, UgandaLaura Seay doesn’t like TOMS Shoes.

And, Gwenn Mangine is skeptical about the economic value of the one-for-one movement.

Haiti doesn’t really have a shortage of shoes. There are PILES AND PILES AND PILES for sale (new and used) on practically every street and side street around here. I mean, sure, there’s a lot of poor people here. A lot of people run around barefoot. (Like me, for example, I am barefoot as I write this, as are 10 of my 12 children… but it’s not for lack of shoes.) And true, wearing shoes will help prevent some diseases and keep kids healthier. So, offering them for free… SEEMS like a good idea– like it couldn’t hurt and could only help. But then again– try googling “Miami rice.” Sometimes it’s more complex than that.

So then I wondered about the ethical responsibility of the person receiving the donated goods. I don’t have ANY idea what kind of arrangement is made between TOMS and the person receiving the shoes. There may be specific guidelines about the distribution of the shoes. In fact, I am sure there must be or it wouldn’t be printed that they weren’t for re-sale. But SHOULD there be limitations on how the shoes are used?

Continue reading

Advertisements

Dogs And Chimps And Humans

3 Feb

Let's Hope They Never Team UpCan dogs do calculus? Are humans more like bonobos or chimps? It seems humans breed themselves animal in-groups, which then compensate for smaller numbers and overall physical frailty and lack of special skills (of course, that was before the X-Men).

Looking at a special adaptation in dogs to be sensitive to human forms of communication,” co-author Juliane Kaminski, a cognitive psychologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, told Discovery News. “There is multiple evidence suggesting that selection pressures during domestication have changed dogs such that they are perfectly adapted to their new niche, the human environment.”

Dogs may even be born with this inherent gift, since 6-week-old puppies with no major training possess it.

For the study, Kaminski and her colleagues compared how well chimpanzees and dogs understood human pointing. The person pointed at a visible object out of reach of the human but within reach of the animal subject. If the chimp or dog retrieved the object, he or she would be rewarded with a tasty food treat. (Chimps received fruit juice or peanuts, while dogs got dry dog food.)

Continue reading

The Mali No One Cared About Until Now

2 Feb

francois-ramboMali has vaulted into the world’s precious bucket list of A-level of conflicts to squash, and both France and the Obama administration are taking curtain calls. I’ll admit, that before I had read Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, that the African continent was truly “dark”, in the connotative sense that Africa is irrelevant to international affairs and human history. But, Mali is a very interesting place, according to Laura Seay.

It’s also ironic, that the destruction of cultural treasures in the famed Timbuktu which most people never knew existed would become a matter of consternation in the global media.

Many arguments about the burning of the manuscripts have since emerged with some analysts suggesting that Ansar Dine set the scrolls ablaze because they were losing ground in the city.

Others say that one wing of the rebel group had split off to create its own movement to negotiate a solution to the crisis in Mali, leaving the more radical members to burn down the library in frustration.

Whatever the reasoning behind the obliteration of a rich body of historical documents, the effects of these actions on Islam is left to be seen.

In sweeps the French army, and now the prime minister, Francois Hollande.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: