Obama’s Inauguration in Kenya

January 25, 2009

My friends Bobby and Candice evidently couldn’t score purple tickets of their own (they live in Uganda) so they roadtripped to Obama’s father’s home village in Kenya and witnessed the celebrations there:

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Probability of Lunacy

January 19, 2009

I like drawing comparisons between the sociology of various conspiracy theory/ non-mainstream beliefs: Creationism, HIV denialists, 9/11 Truthers, homepathy, vaccines-cause-autism, etc. Sometimes the case is made easier when fools combine more than one of these subjects on their own. But, I learned to my chagrin last night that there’s always a believer in any crowd. In the South I’d count on it being a Creationist, but in DC the odds are pretty much even. So a conversation that started with Autism and vaccines ended up on why Building 7 fell.

I think I’ll try to approximate the odds of with a new maxim: In any social group, the probability that no quacks will be present is inversely proportional to the number of people in the conversation multiplied by the number of crazy batshit theories espoused.

So, for a conversation involving 5 people and 5 quack theories, there’s only a 1 in 25 chance that everyone will be sane. Sad, eh?


Credit Where It’s Due

January 13, 2009

What will be Bush’s greatest positive legacy? I think PEPFAR is a likely candidate, despite its flaws. I can’t think of any other program initiated by Bush that has helped so many people.


Mugabe Sucks

April 28, 2008

Looks like a fair run-off election in Zimbabwe is less likely every day:

Farmers from Masvingo, Mashonaland East and Manicaland Provinces who worked on behalf of the opposition and were interviewed by telephone in the past week described a pattern of ruling-party gangs visiting under the cover of darkness to beat and evict them.

Villagers from Manicaland said they were roused from sleep around midnight one night this month by young marauders who had come to punish them for voting against Mr. Mugabe. They said the gangs pelted them with stones fired from slingshots and dragged some from their homes.

The next day, rather than protecting them, police officers ordered them to empty their small huts of their meager possessions, witnesses said. Then the young thugs returned to the small settlement just north of the city of Mutare, bashing down people’s homes with iron bars or setting them ablaze.


Yes, Some People Enjoy This

April 8, 2008

carman witch

And not just for the humor.

Carman’s “A Witch’s Invitation”

Some of the lyrics:

One peaceful afternoon I picked up from my mailbox the strangest looking letter I’d ever seen, a chilling little envelope bordered with flying bats, and serpents whose eyes were tinted green. The letter was addressed to me so as I opened it I froze. What I read turned my complexion three shades of blue. It said, “My name is Issac Horowitz. I’m a male witch, a warlock and I feel I need to spend some time with you.”

You know, there are more homoerotic undertones here than in The Lord of the Rings. I’m sure it was unintentional though.

He had the house you’d expect, the old English cottage, a “Nightmare on Elm Street” special right to the core, the overgrown ivy, the gate that creaked when opened, somehow you’d expect Freddy to answer this door. The doorbell rang, a hollow gong, the knob twisted then opened, and Issac stood before me with a grin. His jet black hair and well trimmed beard flowed with his black silk clothes. My skin crawled as he said, “Please come on in.”

Actually, all the warlocks I know live in incredible well-kept single room flats in dense urban areas. Guess Carman met one of the rare suburban warlocks.

Then he led me to a high backed chair as he meticulously began to unfold his scenario with evil patience.

Bet that chair will bring a pretty penny on eBay.

I was given a giant leather bound book jammed with newspaper clipping, thus the reason for this witch’s invitation. With eagerness he pointed to each article with pride. He said, “I healed this woman through a Babylonian chant; See this man, I cured him while performing druid worship; I was paid to curse this man with AIDS by his aunt.”

Which really sounds familiar to the superstitions you run into in Africa about AIDS. Sigh…

And later. . .

I knew then how Moses felt, how when his rod turned to a serpent and the three Egyptian magicians did the same.

Man, I hate it when my rod turns to a serpent.

At the end:

Then Issac jumped up from his chair and screamed, “You must leave now!” I said, “I will, but one last obligation-Next time think twice before you rumble with a man of God!!! ”

That’s what Ted Haggard said.

h/t Lame-O Weblog


Good News, Bad News

March 29, 2008

The World Health Organization has announced that polio has been eradicated from Somalia. This was an incredibly difficult task, given Somalia’s endemic violence and instability. And it took a huge effort:

More than 10,000 Somali volunteers and health workers vaccinated more than 1.8 million children under the age of five by visiting every household in every settlement multiple times.

However, this has happened before. Polio was eradicated from Somalia back in 2002, only to be reintroduced from Nigeria. The fact that polio was reintroduced from a country on the other side of the continent calls attention to the interrelatedness of disease control efforts in different countries (diseases know no borders) and the tragedies that occur when vaccination efforts clash with local cultures or religions.

But despite its tenuous progress in terms of total eradication, the WHO’s $4 billion polio campaign has made great steps forward:

When WHO and partners began their anti-polio campaign in 1988, the worldwide case count was more than 350,000 annually. The disease’s incidence has since been slashed by more than 99 percent and remains endemic in four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Polio cases were also detected last year in Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger and Sudan.

So that’s the good (albeit cautiously so) news. The bad news for Somalia:

Somalia’s Government Teeters on Collapse

If you read that and asked “wait, Somalia has a government?” you’re not alone. But it does have a government of sorts:

By its own admission, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia is on life support. When it took power here in the capital 15 months ago, backed by thousands of Ethiopian troops, it was widely hailed as the best chance in years to end Somalia’s ceaseless cycles of war and suffering.

But now its leaders say that unless they get more help — international peacekeepers, weapons, training and money to pay their soldiers, among other things — this transitional government will fall just like the 13 governments that came before it.

Less than a third of the promised African Union soldiers have arrived, the United Nations has shied away from sending peacekeepers and even the Ethiopians are taking a back seat, often leaving the government’s defense to teenage Somalis with clackety guns who are overwhelmed.


Connection, Redux

July 2, 2007

I just ran my page through Gizoogle, which “transizlates” pages from standard English into jive. Here are some wonderful, culturally-appropriate excerpts from my previous post:

I work at a store . I’m a mutha fuckin 2-time felon.. Many, mizzle thugz come through mah checkout each dizzle though tha dominant group is Southern, middle-class, middle-age white bitchez. So when someone different comes through mah line, I often takes interest puttin tha smack down.

And then he was gizzy. If I Hadn’t had gangsta customa in line I probably would’ve asked wizzle brought him ta America, n especially ta Searcy in tha mutha fuckin club. There jizzle aren’t many (black) South Africans in mah ghetto (I kizzy a few white ones) n I’m always curious ta hizzle tha piznath that brought thugz fizzle so far away . Hollaz to the East Side. I enjoyed tha brief shawty connection of shared knowledge of a place, even in Small Tizzay USA with my hoes on my side, and my strap on my back. Maybe He’ll come B-to-tha-izzack through.

For the record, Gizoogle also translated Amy Richards’ book into Manifesta: Young Bitchez, Feminism, n tha Future.