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#13 Links Expat Aid Workers Like

May 25, 2012

Hate Taxes, Love Guns? It’s better in Somalia…. Image:

Happy Friday EAWland. We’re getting the party started today with @talesfromthhood’s little Pinterest project. “Pinning” sounds almost as dumb as “Tweeting” did, but we’ll eventually get used to it. J’s really digging it and is posting, er, “pinning” some cool stuff. On top of that, AidSource has just topped 1000 members. We’re stoked about that.

How many peacebuilders does it take to….? Craig Zelizer at @pcdnetwork is looking for some jokes. Read what’s there and add yours.

@dalgoso reviews MSF’s book “Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed,” concluding that admitting failure is for sissies. If you want to be really hardcore, admit complexity.

The lesson of failure is: do A, not B. That’s incredibly helpful if you plan to scale your solution or tackle the same problem again. But in complex situations, the next scenario will never look enough like the last one for you to apply the previous lessons directly. We can’t say: A worked then, so we should do A again. Case studies help us understand the previous scenarios, the choices those actors faced, the reasons behind their decisions, and the results of their actions. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to retain that much complexity in our minds and use it to inform our own decisions.

In the latest art scandal, South African President Jacob Zuma’s own personal spear is highlighted by South African artist Brett Murray (only to be defaced soon after by vandals).

White obsession with black penises or artistic commentary?

The ANC decries the racist nature of the painting as rude, crude and disrespectful.

South African art critics respond by demanding a greater governing role. (HT @africasacountry)

Hayibo reports:

As a controversial painting of Jacob Zuma continues to rile the ANC, art critics say that if the ruling party is going to start dispensing art criticism then they would like a chance to dictate government policy. Meanwhile, the German collector who bought the painting said he had not realized it was a satirical portrait of the President. “I just like huge black penises,” explained Gunther Knutsach.

Debate rages. And Hayibo continues reporting,

The ANC has apologised for over-using the same faded race card yesterday when it described Brett Murray’s painting as racist, saying that Gwede Mantashe had been forced to play the old heavily thumbed one as the new race card was still at the printers. Meanwhile, the party has updated its official list of racist things to include paint, logic and gravity.

…ANC spokesman Gazette Gcaba apologised for the tattered and faded condition of the old race card, saying that the delivery of the new card had been delayed by a glitch at the printers, “probably caused by racist machines”.

Some, such as daughter of late ANC veteran Oliver Tambo, say Zuma has plenty of other things he should be concerned about:

Tselane Tambo posted the following message on a social networking site: “So the Pres JZ has had his portrait painted and he doesn’t like it.

“Do the poor enjoy poverty? Do the unemployed enjoy hopelessness? Do those who can’t get housing enjoy homelessness? He must get over it. No one is having a good time. He should inspire the reverence he craves. This portrait is what he inspired. Shame neh! [sic]”

In other Africa news, we have Occupy Bujumbura

In Burundi, as in many places we work, EAWs can happily be part of the good 1% while we fight against the other part of the 1% that’s evil.  Check out the full photo series. (HT Seth)

er…. wtf FT? (said image has since been removed from the article)

The week brought us an article described by @aidsource1 as “UNICEF director admits to have only begun evidence-based programming in 2010.” FT’s piece titled “How Aid Got Smarter” included the sad irony of said UNICEF director talking about the end of exploitative images of aid recipients and FT choosing to illustrate the article with this (since removed) cartoon.

Reactions to the FT include “3 cheers for Tony Lake,” a small Twitter storm and “The long and winding road to evidence-based development.”

The article makes some important points about the need to improve the use of evidence to making decisions in aid, in particular in discovering what works and what doesn’t, admitting it and acting on it.

What is perhaps a pity about the article is that it can be read to imply that until recently aid decisions  were largely faith-based, but now suddenly, at last, the role of science and evidence is being taken seriously in development. As usual the reality is a bit more complex than that.

A May 23rd story no one seems to be talking about (HT @wirereporter):

Only at UN: World Health Organization’s top official will be elected by secret ballot today. Incumbent Chan only candidate, no press allowed.

The old/new Director-General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, will receive reporters after her secret election (no other candidates).

And now, to start your weekend off right, watch some TED videos!

There’s Hans Rosling on religion, making babies and peak child (via @fp2p)

or…then… there’s this one:

“Musician, Film Maker, Dancer, Philosopher, Lover, Treehugger, Hoola Hoop Artist, 5 Element Yoga Teacher” Jana Pallaske begins her talk by tearing up after being introduced — in an intro she wrote herself. Then there’s some discussion in which she says “something in me” led her to speak at TED, followed by three minutes of hula-hooping accompanied by Led Zeppelin, and then what seems like a geriatric dance party. “I didn’t do this to impress anyone,” Pallaske says. Don’t worry, you haven’t.

(If you enjoyed that last one, see here for more of Joshua Keating’s “TED Talks they should have banned”).

@pareene gets to the heart of the matter. “TED is a massive, money-soaked orgy of self-congratulatory futurism

Strip away the hype and you’re left with a reasonably good video podcast with delusions of grandeur. For most of the millions of people who watch TED videos at the office, it’s a middlebrow diversion and a source of factoids to use on your friends. Except TED thinks it’s changing the world, like if “This American Life” suddenly mistook itself for Doctors Without Borders.

Once more, Happy Friday, and don’t forget, you can send over your links if you think they should be included in future editions of LEAWL!

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