Beiträge vom Juni, 2011

Tanzania 9 — Reflexionen zu Leben, Liebe, Entwicklung

Mittwoch, 29. Juni 2011 17:57

Mit Freude und einer gewissen Wehmut bediene ich mich wieder mal meiner Muttersprache, um etwas Ordnung in den Strom der Gedanken und Gefühle der letzten Monate zu bringen. Und Tansania war und ist sicherlich der bis jetzt anregendste Teil der Reise, für so ziemlich alle zentralen Themen der menschlichen Existenz gibt es Material zur Betrachtung und Problematisierung. Und das klingt schon danach, was es ist — in weiten Teilen ein eher betrübliches Bild, das mich mindestens in Bezug auf Afrika recht pessimistisch stimmt. Ich kann die Afrikaromantik, die in Europa glaube ich recht verbreitet ist, nicht nachvollziehen. Das heißt nicht, dass es hier keine fröhlichen Menschen gibt — aber ich denke, wer den Eindruck bekommt, dass die Menschen hier fröhlicher sind als daheim, hat den falschen Freundeskreis. Oder hat nur die Euphorie und Neugier eines kurzen Besuchs mitbekommen, es ist erstaunlich, wie viel Freude ein „mzungu“ (Weiße/r) hier auslöst, obwohl schon einige unterwegs sind. Es heißt auch sicherlich nicht, dass wir von den Kulturen hier nichts lernen können, ganz und gar nicht. Aber es sagt schon was, wenn die Mehrheit der jungen Leute, mit denen ich spreche, gerne hier weg möchte — und zwar für immer.


Thema: Deutsch, Weltreise 2011 | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Post-Modernisms Political Past and Future

Montag, 27. Juni 2011 14:09

In one of my probably last random internet excursions for the next months I came across the „World Socialist Web Site“ published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (trying to find out who that actually is on Wikipedia leads into the abyss of socialist splinter groups). While there is a lot of predictable nonsense on the website (you really don’t want to read what they write about the Western intervention in Lybia), I’ve come to find some modern Marxist thinking quite inspiring. This is especially true of a critique of Post-Modernism, a line of thought I also vaguely identify with (finding out more about what is really behind the term is somewhere near the top on my reading list for 2012). Let’s start with a definition of post-modern that maybe is (and certainly should be) commonplace, by Jean-François Lyotard, considered the founding father the philosophical Post-Modern:


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

small thoughts 2011-06-26 (my week in twitter)

Sonntag, 26. Juni 2011 7:59

  • #SZ Kommentar zum Ausstiegs-Ja, der viel Hoffnung für die Grünen macht So oder so: gut gemacht, Grüne! #
  • RE #RSS If you want me to visit your blog, how about writing something that invites me to comment? Web 2.0, right? #
  • If you have an #RSS feed, don’t make it be one-liners. I won’t be teased and visit your stupid blog over and over. I’ll delete your feed. #
  • Getting „married“ on facebook „no pending invites to stray“ :D #moderntimes #
  • #travelinsight 65: Saying good-bye to people with no digital communication feels much more final — even though, who really writes e-mails? #
  • While Obamacare & Ryancare are similar, one is a good compromise for uninsured, the other worsening existing care #
  • Nations are not companies. EU Countries make their economies weak and unequal by trying to be „competitive“ #
  • Free speech in the west and the knowability of truth, from prescribed history to political correctness Fascinating! #
  • Compassionate story of an ex-gay, showing the struggles and mind-games that still trouble our sexual identities #
  • Nachrichten aus unserem abgeschafften Entwicklungshilfeministerium und dem ecudorianischen Regenwald Genau falsche EZ #
  • After frustration with my WordPress-Blog comment system: I’m not alone but where do I go from there? Help! #
  • #Krugman on liberalism & 5 influential books Fascinating how central epistemology is, a topic I keep coming back to, too. #
  • Historischer Bogen Grüner Bildungspolitik: Bildung für soziale Gerechtigkeit, der Weg zur „Gemeinschaftsschule“ lang #
  • Secret rule of the proletariat (sort of) in the US: managerialist, not capitalist Do we need corporate democracy? #
  • The cocaine-related death of a basketball star triggered the US war on drugs 25 years ago Can coincidences shape history? #
  • #Krugman argues the Greece problem can only be solved by defaulting the debt, and talks about the costs of delaying that #
  • When companies try to do science — McKinsey’s bold health care claim and refusal (inability?) to produce the evidence #
  • #travelinsight 64: Good gear and boots — happy as a child in the rain! And the mixed smell of wet mud, grass and eucalyptus, ahhh! #
  • #travelinsight 63: It can be a privilege to not understand the language: You get lots of time to observe and think about things. #
  • #travelinsight 62: I’m good with Kiswahili grammar and pronunciation, not so much with vocabulary — does that mean I’m lazy? #
  • US has only been militarized as intensely as now since WWII, and maybe ending the superpowerdom will not hurt too much #
  • Die #TAZ hat ein simples Online-Tool zur Suche von Parteispenden über 10.000€, Firmen & privat. Es lebe die Transparenz! #
  • Neuroscience is a (reflexive) social science: disbelief in free will changes brain activity (and behavior) — to the worse #
  • Spannende und kontroverse Liste von technischen Durchbrüchen, die (vielleicht) bevorstehen. Gut gemacht #ZEIT #
  • #Mankiw shows how you get the same behind different language in health care Why do democrats choose the „bad“ language? #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Thema: Twitter | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Tanzania 8 — Quiet Life Pictures

Samstag, 25. Juni 2011 18:40

Already the end of my stay in Tanzania is approaching rapidly, it is time for some more (maybe last) pictures and little stories, a post about the accumulated deeper thoughts and feelings is coming up, unfortunately in German — Google Translate is your friend :) — but here some international accessibility first.


Thema: Weltreise 2011 | Kommentare (2) | Autor:

small thoughts 2011-06-19 (my week in twitter)

Sonntag, 19. Juni 2011 7:59

  • Learn child care, health care and fair pay from the military. A well-functioning socialist endeavor in the US’s heart #
  • CIA ordered by Bush administration to find „damaging“ information about displeasing Middle East blogger Very disturbing. #
  • It makes me sick that there’s a whole politics of its own about winning Wall Street donations And especially Obama! #
  • Subtle corruption by naming a building or institution after somebody very much agree with #Mankiw here #
  • The virtue of „moral imagination“ vs. one step leading to the next. Good freshman talk, and very noteworthy comments too! #
  • Review of a SF-Book that promises fun — and insights into how language and stories shape our world Can’t wait! #
  • Griechenland-Krise ähnelt dem Versailler Vertrag, und Lösung ist Europäische Finanzpolitik ohne nationale Parlamente wow! #
  • Auguri, Italia! Die Berlusconi-Ära scheint vorbei, hoffen wir dass die italienische Linke was zu bieten hat. #
  • Things can always be different, and not every US war is for oil. Libya definitely isn’t, read why on #InformedComment #
  • #travelinsight 61: RE sugar cane: Europe and US here are refined sugar of course, making this an inverted U-shaped development curve for me. #
  • #travelinsight 60: The difference between Africa and India and is chewing sugar cane and drinking fresh sugar cane juice. Both nice, but… #
  • #TechTip SafeSleepOnce the much-needed „deep sleep“ (hibernation) Button for Mac OS X. Also here: tested many, kept one #
  • #TechTip „Mental Case“ the first spaced repetition learning software that does the job for me not free, but worth it :) #
  • Paul #Krugman has a chart comparing Medicare and private insurance cost increases. Health markets not a good idea #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Thema: Twitter | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

small thoughts 2011-06-12 (my week in twitter)

Sonntag, 12. Juni 2011 7:59

  • Illustration of private health care system waste But I don’t agree health care is so very different #
  • #travelinsight 59: Stayed up till 3 refining a four-voice choir composition with my guest brother. Demanding, but also very rewarding! #
  • Nice explanation why the „food plate“ is a big step forward from the old pyramid #
  • A rare case where feminism and „men’s rights“ arguments obviously coincide why it has to be ok for men to send naked pics #
  • What puzzles me most about Obama — how and why he expands on the previous Administration’s tight grip on his citizens #
  • Intuitive, perceptual learning advanced by brain scientists Helps with most important task: What kind of problem is this? #
  • Critical Review of Adapt (book) How evolutionary/market-style trial and error bites its own tail as a big principle. #
  • #travelinsight 58: I love thinking people, both in trait and state sense :) Great to watch the kids put their heads together over a problem! #
  • Evolutionary just-so story debunked: Dogs‘ past in family packs and implications for hierarchy, cooperation and training #
  • #travelinsight 57: When you’re constantly observed (and different) anyway, you might as well do what you feel like doing. Liberating! #
  • 11 bizarre beliefs Americans hold Depending on your level of social science training, laugh at Americans or pollsters… #
  • #travelinsight 56: Twitter is teaching me to summarize. And cut unnecessary adjectives. I suppose that’s good, all in all… #
  • #travelinsight 55: Why do I sometimes get that sudden craving to buy stuff, to consume?! Preferably high-end tech stuff, and new clothes… #
  • Rechtliche Folgen von Stuttgart 21 für zukünftige Großprojekte Spielarten der Bürgerbeteiligung und Verfahrensdauer #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Thema: Twitter | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Capitalism vs. Free Market — what’s in a name, and is Fascism in the picture?

Sonntag, 5. Juni 2011 13:30

Despite my best efforts, this Sunday is on the best way to being a random-web-surfing day, reading (among many other things) critiques of Capitalism using an Indian company’s mobile network in remote Tanzania…

This randomness is of course the source of what we often deplore as procrastination, but I’m realizing it can also set free creativity, by presenting side by side concepts that seem only very loosely related at first. So here is my starting point, a very insightful remark on what difference it makes if we speak about Capitalism or Free Market Economy, from John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-American economist and author, published in the article Free Market Fraud in The Progressive magazine in 1999:


Thema: English | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

small thoughts 2011-06-05 (my week in twitter)

Sonntag, 5. Juni 2011 7:59

  • Fukushima ist noch nicht vorbei — Strahlung neues Maximum und 100.000 Tonnen hoch radioaktives Wasser in der Ruine #
  • #travelinsight 54: Decentralized waste incineration is a bad idea. But there is no garbage collection in place here, while trash there is… #
  • How the new Egypt government changes the game for Israel And some „old news“ we should keep in mind about the Gaza „jail“ #
  • US prison system dimensions and illusions: „we pay poor unemployed rural whites to guard poor unemployed urban blacks“ #
  • Well-argued case for publishing peer-review comments with the articles, anonymous or not #science #
  • #travelinsight 53: #postbank mobileTAN is so handy when traveling :) I only need my mobile phone for online banking. Yeah 21st century! #
  • Career advice for post-tenure economists (& others) increases my hope that good life and success go together in academia #
  • Thought-provoking „Male Privilege Checklist“ Scary to see how different gender worlds still are, and my own ignorance #
  • Technology, liking, loving #NYTimes #Op-Ed on how technology pulls us away from real life. Surprisingly deep thoughts! #
  • Critique of the „find yourself“ mantra for college graduates Talk of a „calling“ touches big philosophical themes. Good! #
  • American doctors: incentives change political positions Is it really only that? #
  • With a nudge from the government and consumers‘ minds changed by fuel prices, American companies learn to build compacts #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Thema: Twitter | Kommentare deaktiviert | Autor:

Microcredit and Development — a Critique

Donnerstag, 2. Juni 2011 14:05

Following my economic observations and reflections on Development Aid here in Tanzania, I did some reading on microcredit, which seemed to me now maybe one of the most sensible things to do to stimulate development. My first-hand impression of some other obvious choices has not been very good so far — I am quite doubtful of the real-life benefit of the secondary education the students get in the school I am teaching in, for instance.

The articles I found convinced me that I wasn’t wrong entirely thinking microcredit could help. But there’s a big BUT, or a number of them actually. An article in the New Yorker from 2008 titled What Microloans Miss provides a very readable introduction, but my primary source is an article called Microfinance Misses Its Mark from Aneel Karnani, published in the 2007 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. It says that, first of all, microcredits help the not-so-poor better than the poorest:


Thema: English, Weltreise 2011 | Kommentare (2) | Autor:

What’s wrong with evolutionary explanations of human behavior (as commonly understood)

Mittwoch, 1. Juni 2011 18:10

The evolutionary side of human behavior is something which is always good for heated discussions, having strong implications for important social issues. And often enough, people criticizing the evolutionary perspective find themselves in the trap of being seemingly unscientific. This, I believe, is a symptom of how the prevailing positivist („objectivist“) understanding of science is narrowing the scientific discourse, and the public discourse about science. But „political correctness“ is not the only way to oppose these (pseudo)evolutionary arguments.

I liked watching the first few classes of Robert Sapolsky’s „Human Behavioral Evolution“ course at Stanford from 2010, which are available for free on iTunes U (yes, you need iTunes). Even though the pointedness and entertainment of his arguments can be a little too much for a European audience, I highly recommend it for everybody who wants to fill in gaps in his or her understanding of evolution. And for people who consider themselves solid on the basics, I recommend a 20-minute summary of the criticism of evolutionary biology, at least as it is perceived and used by the public. I’m talking about the last 20 minutes, starting at 1:14, of the lecture 3 — Behavioral Evolution II (April 2, 2010). Here is a brief summary:


Thema: English | Kommentare (3) | Autor: