(H/t Andrew Sullivan)
Fascinating little photo essay from this week's Time Magazine:
Top: The Aboubakar family of the Breidjiing refuggee camp in Chad. Food expenditure for one week: $1.23
Bottom: The Revis Family of North Carolina. Food expenditure for one week: $341.98
As we've indicated before - we here at GHN are concerned about everyone's health, and that naturally includes some of our more prominent famous young women entertainers. So on a note of genuine concern we learned today of this story - that Britney Spears has already picked out her own burial plot. Though she seems to be relatively okay with it:
It's located in the bittersweetly named Hollywood Forever Cemetery. After hearing about Marilyn Monroe picking her own grave site, the singer wanted to follow suit and "when Britney saw Rudolph Valentino's grave at the cemetery she shrieked and said she wanted one." Though, she doesn't plan on going there anytime soon. "I'm going to live so I want to be brought to the Forever Cemetery when I'm 101," she said, with devastating optimism, to a pal.
We still can't help but feel worried.
And so may we suggest that Britney heed the recent advice of much older, still living - great, great older rock and roller - the ever transcendent Mick Jones:
Wise words indeed. For all of us.
The Universal always, in the particular. Even when its right in front of your face. All the time.
The hype cycle has become the emotional life of capitalism, an internalized stock market of aesthetic calls and puts. It testifies first to the power and then, almost as soon, to the impotence of mere culture. It's how the public expresses faith in itself, and a still more unshakeable belief in its irredeemability: if we all like something, it can't be good.
People come back to places that send them away.
Yo. Dears readers. I'm afraid its true. As I see you're still checking in, and I am deeply humbled because of it - I figure its the least I can do.
Please forgive my absence - I've been busy with other writing projects and with the responsibility of moving GHN into its brand new international headquarters. But all that's ready now, and we should be good to go.
But just because I've been away doesn't mean I haven't been doing my research.
And most recently, most notably in my view, I've been exploring these tech blogs (for instance) of which I knew nothing not two weeks ago - and they have caused me to kind of ... rethink what exactly I am doing here, what exactly is the best way to approach this blogging thing.
As much as I believe in the idea of Obama, if he doesn't live up to it, I'll still believe in the idea, because I always have. I don't want to be an insider, I don't want the insiders to rule, I don't want there to be insiders at all. I want to distribute opportunity and acknowledge intelligence and goodness where ever it appears.
The Internet destabilizes every hierarchy it contacts. It erases every barrier to entry. The only way to win is to point off-site, in every way you can think of. Win by offering better value, not by locking users in. People will become instant refugees to escape your clutches. Think you're immune? Think again.
And by "pointing off site" he writes:
Now the fundamental law of the Internet seems to be the more you send them away the more they come back. It's why link-filled blogs do better than introverts. It may seem counter-intuitive -- it's the new intuition, the new way of thinking. The Internet kicks your ass until you get it. It's called linking and it works.
People come back to places that send them away. Memorize that one.
People come back to places that send them away. (?)
Dears Readers I officially apologize.
The next time I decide to take a month off from blogging I promise I will announce it at the beginning of the hiatus and not at the end.
Due to other obligations however blogging will probably continue to be somewhat sporadic over the next few weeks until conditions stabilize.
For all you who continue to stop by, we the editors sincerely appreciate your patience.
Or, er, uh, at least - Cultural and Religious autonomy for Tibet!
The last two weeks have seen no posts at this particular site as I have been fighting the winter, searching for a new apartment but most importantly have been deeply immersed in another writing project. I apologize for this lack of attention and though blogging may be sporadic over the next two weeks to come I will try to do better.
"The seemingly impossible is possible.".
Try keeping up with this guy:
Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institutet of Stockholm, renowned 'statistics guru', and sword-swallower (?!) Hans Rosling - in these two speeches from the 2006 and 2007 TED Conferences respectively.
With his fury of statistical analysis, his peculiar rapid fire Power Point presentation style and his penchant for the odd self-deprecating Swedish joke - Rosling, it seems to me, basically statistically demonstrates the logic behind the consensual idea of the Millennium Development Goals i.e. how the combination of family planning/birth control/rights for women combined with public investment in a social services infrastructure like health and education and roads combined with the possibility of microcredit all leading the way to a market really can begin to end global poverty as we know it. Or as he says - "It seems to me that you can move much faster if you are healthy first, as opposed to wealthy first.". But along the way, however, he really challenges our preconceptions of what constitutes a 'developing nation' versus an 'industrialized nation' and how these distinctions are becoming more and more meaningless, in addition to really making the case for the public availability of statistics and how the differences within nations are often more important than the differences between nations.
Though Rosling does argue that 'everything is necessary for development' - human rights, gender equity, government,etc. - he does state that the most important thing is economic growth. But (as you see in his 2007 lecture), he points out that no country has yet increased its collective wealth and thus its collective health without greatly increasing its carbon emissions as well. 'Something we have to work on', he says.
NationMaster.com - a site dedicating to comparing statistics among nations.
The official number of dead from Cyclone Sidr which ripped though Bangladesh on Thursday has now exceeded 3100, with the Government and United Nations predicting that that number could rise to as high as ten thousand when all of the harder to reach areas are finally attend to. Over a million people are homeless.
The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) is one of the most effective Non-Governmental Organizations in the world. And with over 97 000 employees it is the largest NGO in the world. Born out of the Bangladesh Liberation War this homegrown organization has been attending to and researching the country's emergency aid and development needs since its founding.
One can donate to their Cyclone relief efforts - here.
And they have even started their own blog documenting those relief efforts.
Their vision :
With a vision of "a just, enlightened, healthy and democratic Bangladesh free from hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and all forms of exploitation based on age, sex, religion and ethnicity," BRAC started as an almost entirely donor funded, small-scale relief and rehabilitation projet to help the country overcome the devastation and trauma of the Liberation War. Today, BRAC has emerged as an independent, virtually self-financed paradigm in sustainable human development. It is the largest in the world employing 97,192 people, with the twin objectives of poverty alleviation and empowerment of the poor. Through experiential learning, BRAC today provides and protects livelihoods of around 100 million people in Bangladesh. Diagnosing poverty in human terms and recognising its multidimensional nature, BRAC approaches poverty alleviation with a holistic approach. BRAC's outreach covers all 64 districts of the country and furthermore, has been called upon to assist a number of countries including Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
From the time of its modest inception in 1972, BRAC recognised women as the primary caregivers who would ensure the education of their children and the subsequent inter-generational sustainability of their families and households. Its comprehensive approach combines Microfinance under BRAC's Economic Development programme with Health, Education and other Social Development programmes, linking all the programmes strategically to counter poverty through livelihood generation and protection.
My dear readers:
I have not posted for some time and I do apologize for my recent absence. Various work and personal considerations have kept me away. I am presently working on a play that just won't give, I am doing some preliminary editing and research on a film about Afghanistan, as well as some peripheral involvement attempting to stop some morons who want to ruin a perfectly wonderful section of Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia by putting up a go-kart/motocross track in exactly the wrong area. (my apologies to my legions of motocross readers, deal with it).
I am working on some longer posts, however - one on Iran, one on the recent events on Burma, and another on some of the recent Senlis Council reports on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, as well as some long-awaited tuberculosis material and I hope to have those up soon.
In the meantime perhaps some of you would like to check out two other global health issue blogs that have made themselves known to me through a couple of kind e-mails from their editors.
The first is Technology, Health & Development edited by the indefatigable Aman Bhandari. Aman's blog is self-described as "dedicated to global health solutions and issues with slight bias towards technology", and if you go and check it out I think you will find it quite extensive. Thanks to T,H&D's post yesterday I am now aware of the new student global health blog over at the Lancet site - The Lancet Student.
As Aman himself writes:
The Lancet now has two sites/blogs dedicated to global health. For those outside the public health/medical realm, The Lancet is one of the top journals in these fields. Their blog on the main site has not really been updated on a regular basis, so for that reason alone, another site is a welcome change. This site, focused on students, already has some youthful energy. The Lancet Student has been up for the past couple of months and they are going forward full force and really trying to create a campaign of change. They are working hard to develop a community and the site seems to have a lot of potential that I am excited about because they seem to be setting up an ecosystem to draw more attention to global health issues by energizing a passionate student base. The entry of such a major player, voice and authority using web-based interaction (primarily blogging in this case) in the global health field is long overdue. Ever since I started this blog I have felt that even a simple and dedicated site by a major organization could go light years further than an individual could alone (such as the THD blog). Keep an eye on them as the evolve:
“The LancetStudent.com is a beta site for medical students from around the world and in keeping with The Lancet, it has a strong focus on global health.”
Well said Aman. And well done. I admire your dedication and I look forward to further exploration of your blog in the months ahead.
The other blog is Gates Keepers, sent to me by someone identifying them self only as gate keeper. This blog describes itself as "Civil Society Voices on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation", and judging by this post I do believe that they are independent, and not actually of the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations.
Thanks gate keeper. Stand steadfast and we will stand with you.
As you will notice both blogs are now a part of my link list, as well as The Lancet Student.
I myself have to get back to some serious global health blogging in the near future.
But I need you all to know: That I cherish all my readers. Please understand that.
I am still learning. Still finding my way and my voice.
Here's a fascinating article on deforestation in the Congo from The Nation entitled - The Fight to Save Congo's Forests by Christian Parenti & Laura Hanna that makes for a good depressing read. Often the best kind.
From The Guardian:
A new killer disease on a par with HIV/Aids or ebola is likely to emerge in the next few years and threaten the lives of millions of people worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said today.
Potentially deadly new diseases are being identified at an "unprecedented rate", with global epidemics spreading more rapidly than ever, the United Nations agency warned in its annual world health report.
At least one new disease has been identified every year since the 1970s. Today, there are 39 that were unknown just over a generation ago.
The agency said infectious diseases were spreading faster due to global travel, with more than 1,100 epidemics verified in the last five years, including bird flu, cholera and polio.
With more than 2 billion people travelling by air every year, the WHO said "an outbreak or epidemic in one part of the world is only a few hours away from becoming an imminent threat somewhere else".
"Infectious diseases are now spreading geographically much faster than at any time in history."
Here is The WHO Report.
Haven't read it yet.