Non-Governmental Imagination

September 15, 2006, 8:30 am
Filed under: Jerks

Seth Mazow and bike
WordCamp – 16.jpg, originally uploaded by chrisheuer.

Last night my bike got stolen in the ‘Loin. I took it everywhere. Don’t we look happy together? My parrot (mercilessly stolen as well) was more than a hood ornament, it was my guiding light.

For a variety of reasons, I usually do not give money to beggars. Last night, however, I was doling out money left and right like I was Santa Claus. Not that I really expected anything back from my quarters and dollars, but the least the beggars could’ve done is sent some good karma my way to ward off bike thieves.

But no.

So Mr. Bicycle, it’s been nice. I learned everything I know about bikes from fixing you every time you broke. My resolution this year was to build a bike from scratch, and whereas I thought that I wasn’t quite ready yet, maybe this is your/God’s/the thief’s way of telling me that The Time Has Come.

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March 1, 2006, 8:24 am
Filed under: Imagination, International Aid, Jerks

So Republicans think that Hugo Chavez’s plan to give homeless shelters and poor Americans discounted heating oil is “part of an unfriendly government’s increasingly belligerent and hostile foreign policy”? Why? The US government gives away billions of dollars in aid every year to the world’s poor. Would they like it if it was vieiwed as belligerent and hostile?

If the US governement wants to make Chavez look bad, belittling the entire concept of international aid as merely an influence-peddling political tool is no way to do it. After all, people might start to believe that, and then USAID will be viewed as nothing more than pure propaganda. Plenty of folks say it already is. Pronouncements like this do nothing to help.

Regardless, what’s wrong with people trying to help the poor? It should shame the US government that homeless shelters face budget shortfalls. If I ran a shelter I’d be calling up the Venezualean embassy as fast as I could. Free stuff rules.

Kenyans: Dog Food Beats Starvation
February 2, 2006, 6:35 am
Filed under: Food, International Aid, Jerks, Uncategorized

Kenya has been suffering through food shortages much to the detriment of their poorest citizens. A woman from New Zealand who owns a dog food company decided to donate 160 tons of dehydrated dog food to feed starving Kenyan children. Naturally, this came off as “culturally insulting” to Kenyan politicians, who do not like to think of their citizens as being equal to dogs in other countries. Lo and behold, hungry Kenyans do not share their government’s disgust:

“Parents of some of the children said leaders opposed to the offer were only after satisfying their personal egos at the expense of starving millions in the country.”

Only people with enough to eat complain about the quality of food. If faced with starvation I’d eat dog food or anything else to stay alive. I think that the woman could have been more sensitive by donating the proceeds from the sale of 42 tons of dog food and gotten much less negative attention. Regardless, I don’t think the Kenyan government can complain about the quality of aid foreigners are bringing in as long as they are frittering away $6 million on 57 Mercedes Benz cars ($105,263.17 each) for governement officials.

Exxon-Mobil Still Hasn’t Paid for the Valdez?
January 28, 2006, 3:25 am
Filed under: Jerks

So tonight last night I was biking home from an N-TEN event and I went past the 9th DIstrict Court of Appeals. There were some people hanging out on the steps with signs about salmon and Exxon, so I went over to see what they were up to. They said they were here for the Exxon trial, and then there was this pregnant pause as if I knew all about it. I asked what was up, and they said they were here for the appeal of the Exxon Valdez spill. Wait a minute, wasn’t that like 15 years ago? Oh yeah, it was. 17 years to be exact. Anyway, the fisherman were huddling around on the steps when the marshall came out and told them “Get off of my steps”. Last I recalled it was regular taxpayers who were paying for those steps, while the oil companies continue to get billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks from the Republicans in Washington.

Today the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in yet another Exxon appeal. Exxon is appealing the ruling from a jury that awarded $9 billion to local Alaskans. After numerous appeals it the amount is now down to $4.5 billion. Seems like a lot to me, but then again, if I was making $45 million per hour in quarterly revenue I might feel sorta bad about spending millions of dollars in legal fees to fight fisherman about punitivie damages. But that’s just me.