Monday, April 25, 2005
The Wrong Focus (Updated)
Developing nations want what we’ve got, and that often isn’t what would help them the most. High tech, for example, is sometimes seen as the miracle cure that could solve education and economic problems for these nations by opening their small industries up to larger markets. Nice thought, but it doesn’t work that way.
The problem with viewing technology as the solution isn’t just that the cost of deployment is expensive (although it is when it means not just the cost of running wire but of updating the entire (potentially nonexistent) computer and communication infrastructure of the major population centers of an entire nation. The real problem is the nature of technology in countries that can’t support the technology with home-grown maintenance. Like the roads throughout much of Africa, computers and communication technology will fall into disrepair.
More interestingly, without an intelligent plan for implementing technology solutions in a business plan, technology on its own doesn’t actually solve problems. It just sits around being flashy and impressive, costing tons, while not, you know, helping.
A better series of solutions could be suggested that would bring technology advancements.
First, focus on building and maintaining reasonably liberal and stable governments. Foreign investment is a tough sell when the home government has a violent coup ever decade or so, and it doesn’t help when foreign investors are worried that their investment could be “nationalized” on any given day.
Second, focus on building infrastructure around the population centers. Technology needs reliable energy, manufacturing needs reliable fuel delivery and useable streets, and a stable workforce requires both basic education and sanitation. If a company like Nike (God bless their capitalist little souls) chooses to bestow a manufacturing facility on a country, they will bring money, economic stability, and a boom in other industries (housing, food, and transportation, for instance). But they won’t come if they can’t be provided with a steady work force and the infrastructure needed to ship the manufactured goods and receive the raw materials.
We can turn our noses up at sweat shop labor, but our context is skewed for understanding the change that one of Nike’s plants can bring to a region. What may not sound like much to us is often a huge wage in a developing nation.
What would a country like Zimbabwe, with it 70% unemployment rate do to land a few plants to employ a few thousand of its citizens? The benefit is hardly confined to the newly employed; tax revenues would increase, employment in other sectors of the economy would rise, and economic stability would be one step closer to being a reality. Of course, as much as Zimbabwe might like to be host to a manufacturing concern of that nature, the reality is that the political situation and infrastructure won’t support that kind of an investment from a Western company. The opportunity for failure would be too high to take the risk.
Third, in the absence of direct foreign investment, create regional trading zones to bolster economies (which Luisa Diogo also suggested). Regional trade can often be less expensive and more efficient than focusing trade goals on far-off economic powers. It can also help create stability by ensuring closer ties between neighbors. Instead of working to undermine each other, the nations find that cooperation becomes beneficial to national interest.
Regional trade can be especially effective in agriculture, one of the places that a third world nation can occasionally compete with the big economic powers. Note to the anti-GM forces: helping third world nations find ways to implement GM crops could make them even more competitive since most of those crops are designed to be resistant to bugs and blights. Better crops mean more competitive power and if technology is key to finding solutions, then this is the area where technology could play the largest role.
Computers and the Internet won’t solve the problems. Stability, political reform, stable infrastructure, education, and health care are where the solutions can be found. The goal of having what the US and other Western nations have is a worthy one, but not a realistic one if the expectation is that it will happen within the next two years. The goal of progress and stability, though, is within reach for many of the nations that haven’t yet completely failed. It’s also a goal that is in the United States’ interest to support both in the hopes of continuing to have a constructive hand in guiding the development of third world nations and in the hopes of avoiding another Afghanistan--that is, a completely failed nation that plays easy host to terrorists.
Update: John Hays kindly references this post. Thank you very much.
After two weekends of a fun deluge of weekend spam (limited only by the fact that I was only allowing up to three trackbacks per hour), I’m reverting to the super-secret-special code trackback method. Otherwise I’m afraid that this site will be drowning in spam.
While I am, on the main, thrilled with ExpressionEngine, I do wish that it handled trackbacks better than it does. Using the super-secret-special code, it’s pretty rare for trackbacks to come through. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or energy to deal with hunting down and deleting so many individual instances of trackback spam.
So, here’s the trackback policy for ResurrectionSong.
Later today or tomorrow, I’ll be linking this policy post to the site so that it will always be available and I’ll be adding the trackback URL to the permalink page on the site. I apologize for the change, but in the never-ending war on spam, this is the best possible solution for the site.
Update: See what I mean? It didn’t work for Bryan. Stoopid decoder ring…
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Go, Nuggets (Update)
The 11-2 run by the Nuggets at the end of the first half was a beautiful run.
It’s nice to see them competitive in an away game in the playoffs, and it would be even better to see them win a series. I can’t, in honest, remember the last time I watched them win a playoff series.
So, yeah, go nugs.
Update: The Nuggest just took game one in San Antonio. There’s no reason to get too excited since they need to get four wins to move on, but this was a great, gritty effort from the Nuggets. They stayed in the game up until the last eight minutes and then stepped up to take the game during that last bit of the game.
Neither team looked particularly good in that last eight minutes with very few shots dropping in either direction, but it looked to me like San Antonio just got a little tired trying to keep up with pace that the Nuggets tried to push through the whole game. A lot of tired players at the end of this one.
Firefox is “Special”
Is there a better web browser out there than the Internet Explorer that 90% of the surfing world uses? Of course there is, otherwise I wouldn’t have asked. Several excellent alternatives are Firefox and Opera. There are others, but these are the 2 main IE contenders. Some who have tried IE alternatives claim there’s nothing special about Firefox and the others, and ask, why change?
Friday, April 22, 2005
I’m half surprised they didn’t break out the Taser…
On Bolton (No, Not the “No Talent Ass Clown")
The choice between the GOP and the Democrats these days is a meaningful one. Admittedly, when it comes to size of government and spending issues, it feels like the difference is merely between worse and worserer.
At least the GOP admits that there is a real and growing problem with both Social Security and Medicare; the Democrats just see any changes that don’t involved increased spending and coverage as some quick ride directly back into the middle ages. On the other hand, there seems to be no one at the top willing to put a dent in the deficit.
But then there’s foreign policy.
Post 9/11, no matter which side of the political divide you inhabit, it has to be acknowledged that foreign policy is what matters to most of us at least when it comes to hiring leaders at the national level. I voted Bush because I wanted him to aggressively pursue the war and because I wanted someone to start the ball rolling on Social Security reform--and my belief was that if we could successfully reform Social Security, we would have solid ground from which to attack the problems in Medicare.
On the balance, though, it really was about foreign policy. I think that NRO’s Jay Nordlinger really nailed the foreign policy difference today.
That sounds about right to me: Republicans think that Americans understand our own national interest better than the flawed UN. Democrats think that our interests are better served in sublimating our direct interests and following the UN’s leadership.
I know where I stand on that argument (and so do you if you noticed the slanted and loaded language that I use in writing posts like this). So, you know what? I want Bolton to be sent as our representative to the UN. I like the fact that he’s a little bit of a jerk, that he’s opinionated, and that, while his job will be to present our interests to the UN, he won’t bow down to interests in complete opposition to ours.
There is a difference between the parties, and it shows in people like John Bolton and President Bush. I do hope that our next president is better on fiscal restraint and free trade, but I had to make my choice based on those tools I had at hand (take that how you will). The difference isn’t as great as I would like it to be, but there is a divide between Nancy Pelosi and George Bush that is not insignificant.
Update: Kindly quoted by Burton Terrace. Thanks.
Isn’t that Cute?
Okay, so I’ve been called a racist, been told I will burn in hell, been called every possible variation on “idiot” than I can currently think of, and been mocked in ways that make me roll my eyes.
Now I can add a death threat to my list of blogging accomplishments. Of course, I don’t even remotely take the threat seriously, and as death threats go, it’s far less threatening than I might have imagined, but it still counts, I think…
Nightmare started out with this little snippet of well-written wisdom:
Then moved on to this gem:
And the latest is this--although whether its threat is intended for me or for Trench, who has been gathering his own death threats on my freakin’ site, is debatable.
Isn’t that cute? Ooo, shudder. Terribly threatened. No. Really.
(Yes, I know that I’m feeding the troll, but sometimes it just makes me laugh.)
Wow. That’s Deep.
I think I’ve had conversations like this one before. There may have been drugs involved.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Answering the Question
I love women. My most vivid memories tend to be intimate moments with the women who have come and gone through my life--not necessarily sexual, but intimate.
I can remember the feel of Cindy’s cold nose as she kissed my cheek. It was a snowy Colorado day--the day after a blizzard--and we were walking through snow up to our knees. She had beautiful eyes and a smile that, in memory, still touches my heart. When she stretched up to kiss my cheek, her soft skin brushed against me and I remember feeling a contented happiness.
I can remember my first date with Chris. When we got back to her condo, she asked if I wanted to come in for a bit. We talked for hours, looked through her photo album, and, finally, when it was time to leave I gave her a hug. She leaned into me; a fragile body holding me tight and smelling like oranges (she used soap from Mary Kay that always left just the slightest taste and smell of spices and orange on her skin). She kissed me on the neck--a surprising, sweet gesture that left me grinning and feeling that same little bit of contentment.
I have other little moments locked away in my head like that, some with my current girlfriend, some with Cindy or Chris or Joy. Little tiny things that define the greatest joys of my life. Most I could share in public, some I most certainly couldn’t; love and intimacy are never confined to purely sexual expressions.
And while some of my Christian brothers and sisters labor under the belief that homosexuality is a broken, sad, searching thing, I know the reality: it’s a very different expression of love only in that the genders aren’t mixed. Aside from that, the gay men and lesbian women I know want, and if they are lucky, have experienced those same moments of all-encompassing contentment that I did when I my marriage was good.
Hasty’s Fifth Axiom of Blogging
Question of the Day
That’s the question that our friend, Randy Thomas, is asking on his site. Later today or early this evening, you’ll have my answer, and, hopefully, it won’t alienate all of my friends. But, for anyone who feels that they can say something productive or useful, who has an opinion that they can express without going out of their way to be offensive and rude, and who has more than just a knee-jerk reaction to any gay-related topics, I would encourage you to give Randy your answer.
While he’s asking for comments in the comment thread, I’ll be posting something a little bit longer. The fact that he asked me shows that he is interested in views that are distinctly different from his own--if you respond, please respect that openness and inquisitiveness.
Resurrection Song Readers, I Give You…
...your “hunch play”
Emerald Downs - April 22th, 2005 - Race 2
horse= “Rezarection Time”
Actually, I wouldn’t bet a first time starter myself, but that’s ok. Different strokes and all that.
At any rate, I encourage you all to become borderline degenerate gamblers on the first Saturday in May. It’s a proud American tradition! We’ll do a quick once-over of the competitors beforehand, and hopefully you’ll end the day richer than when you started.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Jeepers and other Faux Harsh Words
After three calls to Comcast tech support--which proved that they are very nice and eager to be helpful, but I know at least as much about networking and network devices as they do--and the purchase of a new cable modem, I am once again connected to my lifeline of digital information. Since I lease a modem from them, I could have waited for them to send one out; since I have a looming deadline on one of my freelance projects, I couldn’t wait.
So, now that I’m back, let me jump right back into important pronouncements and stuff:
Anwar deserved to go. It was for the best.
Next week, it had better be Anthony…
Life’s Little Pleasures
Life is filled with little things and little moments that are sitting there, waiting to be enjoyed. One of those things an old book.
In my obsession over Swahili, I recently bought a book that was shipped from the UK. It was printed in Nairobi in 1942, and it has reached that wonderful age where it smells slightly sweet and musty and it’s pages have mellowed to a creamy color with the edges very slightly browned. When I opened it up, I turned the pages carefully, luxuriating in the light feel and the old text.
Kiswahili: A Kiswahili Instruction Book for the East Africa Command isn’t just a book for me, it’s an indulgence and a delight.
They Were Hoping for a Pope Who Wasn’t Really Catholic
There is a noisy group of folks who seem to have believed that the Pope shouldn’t actually be Catholic. They wanted a Pope who would toss out two millennia of tradition, teaching, and belief in favor or precisely what? The first Unitarian Pope?
We all know by now that Andrew Sullivan was hoping for the first gay Pope (even if he won’t say it in quite that way). Similarly, Mark Morford was hoping for Pope Morford I.
What bugs me most about this is that there is no honesty in this kind of an attack. The first, and most dishonest, bit is that Morford doesn’t bother admitting that he isn’t Catholic. In fact, he makes a good part of his career on bashing Christians and Christianity. His statement about “most spiritually progressive peoples” is as biased as it is unwieldy (Peoples? Was this just a typo or was he truly trying to make a plural more plural?). He wants us to use his definition of what a progressive Christian should look like, never mind that he doesn’t actually claim Christianity for himself.
Isn’t that something like a Baptist trying to tell Anton LeVay how to be a better Satanist?
The truth is that I don’t agree with the Catholic Church’s teachings on some things that I consider very important. And while I’ll happily, and vocally, disagree, I wouldn’t be caught telling members of the Church that they hired the wrong guy to represent their beliefs--all I would really be saying is that they hired the wrong guy to represent my beliefs. I don’t think Mark Morford can see the difference because I don’t think the man is capable of civil disagreement; there is one path to righteousness, and he leads the way.
Morford offers up 14 ideas, meant, I’m sure, to be wildly entertaining. Instead, most of it is just juvenile and irritating--a list as meaningless as his approval of the Pope (or the Church, or of Christianity in general). Maybe we should pool together and come up with “14 Ways for Mark Morford to be Less of an Ass.” I’m sure it would have just as much of a lasting impact on him as his little harangue will have on the Catholic Church.
I Feel Left Out
I mean, being part of a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (Shhhh! Don’t tell!) is really great and all, but I want to be part of the syndicate. That sounds all mafia and stuff (in a not-offending Italian-Americans kind of way).
I think we should Conspire to take over the Syndicate.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Post Idol: House
After American Idol, and before I go back to work, I watch House. Not only was it an exceptional show this week--tense, dramatic, tragic--but it closed with one of my favorite songs: Grant Lee Buffalo’s “Happiness” from the exceptional album, Mighty Joe Moon.
One of the world’s perfect songs, and a great fit for House. It’s also one of the tiny pleasures in life to hear an obscure song revived like that. I recommend both the show and the album.
American Idol: Because, For Some Reason, I Care
I got back from Jack N’ Grill just in time to miss Constantine, but Simon was brutal.
Trust in Simon. Mostly. Trust in Jack N’ Grill completely.
Dan Rather, Mary Mapes
That’s funny, journalists like Sam Donaldson have described their job just this way.
Well, that was easy. But, forget all that. Is it possible that Raspberry just might be right. Has the conservative wing of the conservative party become so tightly wrapped in its cocoon that it can’t breathe anymore? Are Ann Coulter’s long (shapely) legs a devious plot to corrupt young liberal minds? I don’t know. What do you think?
Divorce, American Style
The New York Times has an interesting story about the marriage vs. divorce rates. It’s not as bad as we’ve been told.
I’ve had a lot of married friends (both liberal and conservatives, hippies even) who have only seen the altar once. I just figured I was “attracted” to these types of people (that sounds so gay) because divorce has run rampant in my family (which is why I never married). I guess not, it was just the law of averages.
What’s interesting to me is that the cultural climate paints quite the opposite picture.
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
Powered by ExpressionEngine