The Practical Radical

Framing Our World – A Photo Collage

June 30, 2010
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This is a photo collage done for the World Urban Forum in Vancouver in 2006. The photos are part of a larger exhibition focused on youth perspective on the urban environment. The photos exhibition was mounted by EYA and UN-HABIAT. Photos done by KK Law.

Generations of Woodwards

From the roof of Woodwards 1

From the roof of Woodwards 2

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Fight, Flight or Unite – What’s the strategy?

June 27, 2010
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Lots of issues around violence and when to use it have come to the fore for me in the past few days – the Afghan war and the G8 riots being the most media prominent. Yet, its my current favorite TV show Boston Legal which describes it best.

There was a great episode where one of the lawyers got into an altercation with a bruiser at a bar. Said lawyer taunted said bruiser, who punched him. View the video to see one way our of this situation.

As you can see his solution was unique – but it brings up the question for me of when do you fight, when do you flee (and maybe fight another day) and when do you bring in help.

In a more metaphorical way, this scenario is often revisited in one’s career when you are faced with a serious conflict (say getting fired or majorly jerked around) and the aforementioned three choices. Though at first blush, going on the offensive may feel like the right thing, upon sleeping on it the answer often seems to be to walk away. The long-term strategy often becomes bringing in others to help you.

I follow the idiom that revenge is best served cold.*  It is more important to determine my immediate interests and needs than it is to go for the throat. But, then again, sometimes it sure would be nice …

* this phrase is alternatively attributed to Klingon Khaless the unforgettable; a quote by Pierre Ambroise Francois Choderios de LaClos (1741-1803) in his book Les Liasons Dangereuses; or as old Mafiosi saying from Sicily.


A General and a Rolling Stone: Should the Rebel Bite the dust?

June 23, 2010
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Mcchrystal - The Rebel General

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal is a rebel.

From his hard partying, authority bucking days in West Point to his current post as commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, he does it his own way. We have often seen greater leaders in the military such as Patton and Macarthur (linked to a book and a movie on the subject) who do amazing things on the field, but have not so amazing relationships with the political types back home. McChrystal is cut from this cloth.

McChrystal and his aides seemed to have been caught drinking their own koolaide and dished some interviews to Rolling Stone, from which an article was written critical of the President – “Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss [McChrystal] was pretty disappointed.” – and Vice-President – “Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?”.

Unfortunately, the kafuffle about whether the General is respecting the President overshadows the real focus of the article. The article was about whether the General was pursuing an un-winnable war with a strategy that is radical and questioned by many.

The strategy he is advancing – counterinsurgency  or “COIN” – calls for sending a large number of troops to both pummel the enemy as well as befriend the civilian population and rebuild its government. As the article states, this is a long process, much longer than Obama’s promised stand down slated for next year, and is not generally supported or understood by the troops, who see it as putting them in danger by limiting their ability to defend themselves. Though in an ideal world I like the concept of an army multi-tasking and play both the role of the peacemaker and the warrior, I strongly question the ability or the desire of American soldiers to undertake this.

Please read more of the Rolling Stone article here entitled “The Runaway General“.


Trophy Hunting

June 18, 2010
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The following are the tweets from the Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff leading up to the execution of convicted murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad.

Another execution done in the name of one’s God by the State. In a country which questions the reach and role of government in private citizens lives, this is the cruelest of ironies.

There is the inhumanity of the murder, compounded upon by the inhumanity of a “firing squad” execution, compounded upon the ignominy of declaring it on twitter and inviting everyone to watch the press conference.

Doing this in this way shows the true intent of this “justice”  – demeaning it to nothing more than a big game hunt with the hunter putting the killers head on a plaque in his den.

The Press Conference.


Digital Access for All: Broadband for the People … really

June 4, 2010
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When there is an increase in broadband speed in the North America, we can download more episodes of our favorite TV show (mine is 30 rock); when broadband speed increases in Africa, millions more people get online through mobile technologies.

Whole “development” leaps are being taken on the African continent – mind numbing and corrupt bureaucracy is in one click being overcome with government services going online; banking is being revolutionized with mobile “MPESA” banking;  “urban wilderness”, the unplanned settlements or slums, or being mapped for the first time. And I can go on – read my article on Bridging the Digital Divide.

Just saw this great article and video done by Declan McCormack on the impact of mobile phones and the internet in east Africa that i thought nails it in regards to what is going on. Enjoy.

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Tragedy in Pictures

May 31, 2010
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Photo: Infrogmation

AP Photo

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

AP Photo/BP PLC

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Photo: Infrogmation

Image: Zero-lives

Photo: ctberney

and who other than God can solve this …

Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert

Sorry Mr. Obama, not this time.


Addiction leads to decades long hangover …

May 28, 2010
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I am getting quite nauseous knowing our addiction to the black liquor is destroying the environment and economy of the gulf coast states. What makes it worse is that I feel I am watching the disaster in slow motion, with oil slowly and inexorably making its way onshore, while we watch grainy low definition movies of the mile deep oil well  belching out its black death.

So, as we can’t seem to do much but watch, what better time to reflect on some of the myths we hold regarding our addiction to gas as it relates to our cars.  The following are six gas mileage myths (stop doing them and nagging your husband/wife about them) and some solutions (that if 100,000,000 of us started doing something would change).

Remember what Margaret Mead says – “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (yeah, I’m not believing that much right now either .. )

Myths

  • It takes more fuel to start a vehicle than it does to let it idle.
    Idling uses a quarter to a half-gallon of fuel in an hour, costing you one to two cents a minute. So, turn off the car when stopped for more than a few minutes.
  • Vehicles need to be warmed up before they’re driven.
    Maybe true back in the old days, no longer.
  • Old cars have bad fuel economy.
    A well-maintained car will have like-new mileage.
  • A clean airfilter makes a car run more efficiently.
    If you have a car from the 70s, maybe. Now, no.
  • That expensive additive s%^t you put in your gas helps.
    Probably not, you might feel better, but no. Both the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Reports have weighed in on this. There are no top-secret 100-mpg add-ons out there.
  • Using premium fuel improves fuel economy.
    Nope. Use only if filthy rich.

and this one is for Lee-Anne as we disagree on this all the time …

  • Having your windows down while having the air conditioning effects gas mileage.
    NONONONONONO. Two studies by Consumer Report and some group called Edmunds.com  just say no, nothing really even measurable. (I win, the windows are staying down air-conditioned jacked).
So, some things you can do …
  • inflate your tires
  • don’t leave tons of s$%t in your car, especially bags of sand, bricks, cement, large mammals, etc.
  • use cruise control – it works
  • and, drive the speed limit

Thanks to yahoo.com, edmunds.com, consumer report, and my personal angst for making this happen. Have a nice day.


The U.S. welcomes the world to their Tea Party

May 24, 2010
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With the selection of tea partier Rand Paul as Senate nominee in Kentucky, and his “my government is no government” views, the world will now be engaged in the 24/7 news cycle discussion on whether we want to be invited.

So, if we are invited as Canadians or Kenyans or Dutch or whatever nationality, the question for me is, what type of tea is being served (or id Koolaid … but that’s another blog), and do we want it? The tea that Rand Paul and the Tea Party is serving is a re-brew of something I think Americans thought they had moved on from 50 years ago, and it has to do with Paul’s repudiation of parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In short, the Civil Rights Act required the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal. The issue for Paul is part of the Act which states that All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

Rachel Maddow from MSNBC pressed Paul on whether private business had the right to refuse to serve African-Americans, Paul replied, “Yes.” You can watch the full interview here and here. Paul is also now on record saying  that he doesn’t like Obama putting his “boot heel on the throat of BP” because “it sounds un-American – his criticism of business.”

We don’t need to be overburdened by regulation, but when we are dealing with something as basic as not banning people from places due to their race , or as important as assuring that an already catastrophic environmental disaster and its costs be taken care of, then government IS what represents our collective will and action, not corporations.


Who needs a Scarlet Letter when you have CNN

May 19, 2010
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Michelle Obama was holding one of her “chat with the children” events when someones world was turned upside down. One of the children she was chatting with states “My mom said, I think that she says that, Barack Obama is going to take away everybody that doesn’t have papers,” the young girl then goes on to say “… my mom doesn’t have any.”

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Ms. Obama clearly has laid the way to that by allowing this young girl and her family to branded with a proverbial Scarlet Letter illegal immigrants on international TV. Who can say with the tone of the debate going on regarding immigration what might happen next to them.

We all have to take personal responsibility for our actions in this global age – the challenge is who should we blame. Is it Michelle’s fault for using kids to move her message? Is it CNN’s for airing the video? The child for saying something stupid? The parents for illegally immigrating?

For me, maybe it’s not what the leader of the free world has done in the past, but here’s hoping that Michelle and Barrack take responsibility for their actions, and take care of the mess they have put that little girl in.


Pradical Blog: Donald Trump as Diversity Advocate

May 18, 2010
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I opened the paper this morning and there it was:

ARAB-AMERICAN WINS PAGEANT

Miss USA: Nod to diversity, or ‘affirmative action’?

Donald Trump’s Miss USA pageant sure knows how to make headlines.


Go figure, nothing against the Donald, but he would not be the person I would think would be an advocate for affirmative action. Now, clearly, the Miss USA contest is kinda gross and sexist in itself, but from my perspective if you are going to go beyond the “progressives” talking to one another, Miss USA is a great place to start.

It is amazing/scary to watch the flash points in this rapidly changing world. This story has a lot of the ingredients. In a post 911 world in the US, an Arab woman winning an award, even Miss USA, is hailed as a victory by groups such as the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. This within the context of the post-Arizona immigration law world, where some “harsh critics” (read one of the most vocal bloggers) charged that the Oklahoma delegate she was up against might have got the boot because she supported the law.

So in the end pop culture meets political culture, in a place we didn’t expect it to be. Good on ya Donald!


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    Practical things that make me radical

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