Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

TIME’s Person of the Year 2009: Ben Bernanke

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2009 at 9:30 pm

"The story of the year was a weak economy that could have been much, much weaker. How the mild-mannered man who runs the Federal Reserve prevented an economic catastrophe"

A bald man with a gray beard and tired eyes is sitting in his oversize Washington office, talking about the economy. He doesn’t have a commanding presence. He isn’t a mesmerizing speaker. He has none of the look-at-me swagger or listen-to-me charisma so common among men with oversize Washington offices. His arguments aren’t partisan or ideological; they’re methodical, grounded in data and the latest academic literature. When he doesn’t know something, he doesn’t bluster or bluff. He’s professorial, which makes sense, because he spent most of his career as a professor.

He is not, in other words, a typical Beltway power broker. He’s shy. He doesn’t do the D.C. dinner-party circuit; he prefers to eat at home with his wife, who still makes him do the dishes and take out the trash. Then they do crosswords or read. Because Ben Bernanke is a nerd.(See pictures of Ben Bernanke’s life from childhood to chairmanship.)

He just happens to be the most powerful nerd on the planet.

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Documentary: Bus 174

In Americas (South & Central), Movies, Profile: People Places & Things of Peace, World News on December 30, 2009 at 8:56 pm

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Bus 174 is documentary about a hostage situation on a bus in Rio de Janeiro back in 2000. More broadly though, it is an illuminating discussion about  culture, society, wealth and poverty in Brazil. In examining the invisible and mistreated impoverished youth population in Brazil Bus174 forces us to consider our own society and our role in perpetuating similar forms of oppressive invsibility. Its an absolutely well done documentary that will have any viewer sitting on the edge of their seat in anticipation, reconsidering preconceived notions of villians and heroes and wanting to know more. Thanks Miriam for the heads up!



Click here and here to read articles from The Economist about economic progress in Brazil.

Profile: The Sartorialist Scott Schuman

In Fashion, Profile: People Places & Things of Peace on December 30, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Scott Schuman: Photographer, columnists & blogger extraordinaire. Aside from being the force behind one of my favorite blogs (and one of the few I’ve checked religiously for years) Schuman also writes for GQ magazine and does photo-shoots for, Italian Vogue and the like. I, no doubt, have butchered what I’m sure is a long list of his other accomplishments and endeavors but what I love most of them all is his blog. The Sartorialist is basically a collection of beautifully photographed people that cross Schuman’s path on his travels around the world. It’s not just a fashion blog, or a travel blog but the most wonderful mix of both. And The Sartorialist dont discriminate. On any given day he’ll post pictures of men, women, children, workers, celebrities, students, fashionistas and people just dressed for the day; everyone all peppered in with no favor shown to the wealthy or famous. And what, as a fledgling photographer, I love most and just can’t get over, is how well lit everyone is and how no matter what he’s always able to find some happiness and humanity in each person.

For those of us who read his blog Schuman is gifting us with a life of travel that very few have the privilege to explore. And he’s not showing us the sites; pictures of the Eiffel Tower and places we can google. He’s sharing people. Strangers he sees on the street with shoes he loves or with a scarf tied in a way he’d never thought of. He finds beauty everywhere in all kinds of people and what is more he shares it. By showing that there are well dressed people everywhere beautifully expressing themselves in their clothes, shoes and accessories, and not just on the runway, he affirms that fashion is in art and art is in life.

Lastly, as a final plug for his blog, let me (1.) say that at the very least it is great inspiration for outfit ideas on nights when your closet looks like the great abyss of nothingness and (2) provide you with the smallest sample of his beautiful photographs I could bring myself to narrow it down to cause really they’re all stunning.



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Irresponsible Journalism: 60 Minutes- Congo’s Gold

In Africa, World News on December 29, 2009 at 2:52 am

I was really fortunate this semester to have an awesome GSI (graduate student instructor) TA my Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies class. Aside from being well versed in general world affairs, his specialty, his passion, is the Congo, more formally the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. He’d been telling us throughout the course of the semester about a 60 Minutes special on Congo’s Gold he’d helped out with while in DRC this summer so when it finally aired this November we were all excited to see the end result. While most of us, ignorant of the true intricacies of the current Congolese state might positively grade the 60 Minutes special, Dan did not. In fact, days after it aired he detailed exactly what was wrong with the special in his article “DRC: Three Problems with the 60 Minutes Story on ‘Congo Gold'” on the African Arguments blog. He also shared another project he’d worked on, a more accurate BBC radio report on the same subject.

This issue of news stations misrepresenting the truth though is not the first of its kind (remember the the FOX-news-Sarah-Palin-book-signing-audience thing a while back?). Really who is to stop journalists and television producers and execs and all the people financially invested in our interest and viewer participation from doing, showing and saying anything to keep us tuned in? We’re not all specialists on the Congo, how are we supposed to know when the glowing box is telling us a lie- especially if they’ve got video footage and pictures to seemingly support them? We’ve trusted our reporters to relay the truth of our times to us, held them to an honor code we expect them to keep but the daunting truth is, they can break that code anytime and many of us just wont know. Makes me wonder how many years until our future looks like what George Orwell thought 1984 would look like.

(the above is just a preview of the 60 Minutes special, click here to see it in its 12 minute entirety).


Top Ten Underreported News Stories of 2009 by TIME

In World News on December 29, 2009 at 2:22 am

TIME is always (mostly always- more like usually) so great with their “Top Ten” lists. Commenting on nearly any and everything they make information, news, concise -though in 2009 nothing else would suffice- and easy to read from…say your TIME blackberry app whenever one may find themselves bored and far from a computer.. Anyway here’s one of my favorite of those lists.


Top Ten Underreported Stories


1. Continuing Segregation Is Hurting U.S. Competitiveness

Talk about a dream deferred. African-American and Latino schoolchildren are more segregated, according to a January report from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, than they were at the time of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, in 1968. Nearly 39% of blacks and 40% of Latinos attended schools composed of 90% to 100% students of color in the 2006-07 school year, the report found, and blacks and Latinos are far more likely than their white peers to attend high-poverty schools and “dropout factories” where huge numbers of students don’t graduate. With the segment of nonwhite American students at 44% and climbing, the potential economic consequences are dire. “In a world economy where success is dependent on knowledge,” the report said, “major sections of the U.S. face the threat of declining average educational levels as the proportion of children attending inferior segregated schools continues to rise.”

2. Nigerian Blood for Oil

Violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta has exacted a steep cost in both blood and treasure. Oil theft and sabotage, according to an April report by the Niger Delta Technical Committee, cost the country nearly $24 billion and some 1,000 lives in the first nine months of 2008 alone. The violence — perpetrated by locals who resent the government’s lack of development efforts — continued unabated into 2009: in May, human-rights groups reported that thousands of villagers were displaced or caught in the crossfire between the Nigerian army and the militants, while aid groups and journalists were barred from entering the region. Faced with a growing crisis, in the latter half of the year President Umaru Yar’Adua mounted perhaps the most vigorous peace efforts yet in the region — including the establishment of an amnesty program for gunmen that prompted numerous warlords and militants to surrender their grenades, guns and explosives, often as thousands of people looked on. The government has also promised education and job training to former militants. Hopes are high, but the peace remains shaky at best.
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An Interesting(?) National Guard Commercial

In Americas (North) on December 29, 2009 at 1:11 am

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I went to the movies yesterday and while waiting to see James Cameron’s Avatar for the third time I saw a commercial for the Army National Guard (and yes for whatever reason I was there that early: when the house lights are still up and there are newspaper ads and pop culture trivia playing in rotation on the big screen, followed by regular tv commercials all before we can get to the commercials we actually want to see- the ones that promise movies soon to be released that are rarely ever as good as they seem at the time, finally succeeded by the one thing we did  intentionally pay to see which in some cases may be little more than the longest commercial of them all). Anyway, I’m watching this commercial and I’m thinking about what its trying to sell me: “What message is this commercial sending me?” and taking in the images of soldiers in as they inexplicably cut down trees with chainsaws all i could hear was “We are America and we bring destruction wherever we go.” Well that’s the mild version of what I thought at least.

Then it occurred to me that as all commercials are strategically placed, this national guard ad may have been some lame attempt to redeem the picture of the American “military-industrial complex” (also known as blah blah blah) that Cameron paints in his film. I give nothing away of the movie in saying that America here is not the is not the good guy and her army is a most deplorable representation of humanity as whole. The question then maybe is which America are we? And is there even a difference between the two or just a difference in how they’re sold?



“How Not to Write About Africa” written by Binyavanga Wainaina narrated by Djimon Hounsou

In Africa on December 6, 2009 at 12:08 am

A little wake up call I think we all need. Be sure to also check out the author’s video responses in which he further explores poignant ideas about the true nature of intentions and perspectives on Africa.



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Click here to watch Binyavanga Wainaina’s video response.

“One-Pointed Attention” from Passage Meditation by Eknath Easwaran

In Profile: People Places & Things of Peace on December 3, 2009 at 12:09 am

I’m incredibly blessed to have wonderful people in my life who learn and know amazing things and in turn from time to time share these amazing things with me. This particular wonderful thing, I think, is an incredibly important message for all of us to hear, especially today. For this I thank you, Rahel.



One-Pointed Attention

If we want to live in freedom, we must have complete mastery over our thoughts. For nearly all of us, it is just a euphemism to say we think our thoughts – actually our thoughts think us. They are in command, and we unwittingly serve them.

Let us imagine that you are a student and have just settled down to study for your finals. You have everything you need – sharpened pencils, textbooks, class notes, calculator, and a willing spirit – and you know you must really work at it because there is a lot of material to absorb. Turning to your economics text, you begin to read about the law of supply and demand . . . Suddenly, through a door on the far edge of your consciousness, a desire comes creeping in. It smacks its lips and whispers, “How about a pizza?” You have a serious purpose – these finals count – so you courageously reject the temptation and return to your reading. But the door is open now, so in rushes a memory of last week’s rock concert, followed by a daydream about the swimming party next weekend. Again you return to your reading . . . or try to.

This question arises: if what you want to do is study, aren’t these thoughts intruding without permission? Well, then, why don’t you ask them to leave? We must face an unpleasant truth – they won’t go. They know you’re not the master here. And so there you sit, with half your mind on your studies, half on other things. Read the rest of this entry »

“Shaving for Pakistan”

In Middle East, World News on December 2, 2009 at 11:31 pm

…k well…aside from the fact that he kinda sounds like a kid who forgot to take his ADHD medicine (which I can sympathize with since I too often sound this way) + the fact that he managed to seemingly grow and lose facial hair as the video progressed+ the fact that he refers to Afghanistan as “crazypants Afghanistan” + the fact that he references nerdfighter soldiers (or something like that) AND ends the video w a personal convo to someone named Hank…. yeah well aside from all that the videos not too bad lol.


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