Posts Tagged: Africa

The Ends

The path is an archaic technology; the foot that fashions it, even more so. In a so-titled travelogue, Robert Macfarlane refers to walking and its synonyms—way-faring, trekking, traversing—as one of "the old ways." The foot progresses precisely as quickly as its body allows, and precisely as far as its terrain extends. Each step is a repetitive terraform over a jagged quarry, or a well-trod mountain trail, or a barely hardened square of urban concrete.

For Paul Salopek, paths are an artifact of humanity's self-propelled evolution: the universal, oft-retold story of the progress of the human species from here, where we are, to there, where we were and will [...]


Regarding The War In Mali: Are Mali's Dogon People Really Aliens From Sirius?

"Suggestions that aliens from Sirius had imparted astronomical knowledge to the Dogon, created a modern myth and raised the tribe to cult status among UFO/ancient astronaut enthusiasts. Also, whites who rejected the African origins of mankind, could now claim their ancestors were from Sirius! As I have opined previously in this column, the whole Dogon business is hokum-perpetrated, perhaps, to help sustain the market for esoteric genre of books and film." —J.K. Obatala of Nigeria's The Guardian addresses the modern mythology of Mali's amazing Dogon people and their supposed ties to a race of fish-headed space monsters from a planetary system around Sirius B.


Apparently No One Gave That Dude from Blackwater the "Postcolonialism Talk"

"People come to Africa to help [Africans] to build up the capabilities there and to show them both know-how and capital. Our job is to put all these things together and make them good investment opportunities." —Blackwater 2.0, also founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, is called Frontier Resource Group, and it lets/helps Chinese companies "invest" "in" "Africa." It's basically like Kickstarter, but even more evil, and with actual money.


How We Saved Africa: The Live Aid Videos, In Order

Do you remember what you were doing 25 years ago today? Maybe not, if you are young. But if you are less young, chances are you spent at least some part of the day in front of the television, watching rock stars perform in front of 72,000 people at England's Wembley Stadium or 99,000 people at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium. July 13th, 1985 was Live Aid.


People Will Be Singing That Song From From The White Stripes "Elephant" Album Long After Elephants Themselves Are Extinct

The White Stripes' greatest album, Elephant, came out ten years ago this week. You probably know about how the first song, "Seven Nation Army," has become a ubiquitous (and sort of fascistic!) chant in sports stadiums across the country. It is a great song. A "classic" for sure. A better rock song has not been written since. What has happened since is that 62 percent of the world's forest elephants, a distinct species native to central Africa, have been killed for the booming ivory trade in China and Japan. This is one of the more depressing things we can learn from the running Scientific American feature [...]


Where Is This "Mali" Where Frenchmen Are Having Wars?

Lately there has been a lot of confusing stuff in the news about "Mali," and also "France having a war." What is going on? Didn't France lose the war in North Africa, maybe in the 1950s? Also, Vietnam, remember that whole deleted scene from Apocalypse Now, the way the French colonials ate their food, while Vietnamese were getting killed by Robert Duvall? Is he French? And where is this Mali, anyway?

We don't want you to have to go around feeling like an idiot all the time, so here's the information you need to deal with any offhand references to "the French war in Mali," in case you know [...]


Brad And Angie Go To Meet The African Pee Generator Girls

Angelina Jolie was so amazed. It was only once in a while that she saw something that really made her feel real. It was so hard to feel real sometimes. Pancakes sometimes made her feel real. But pancakes were troublesome. A slippery slope. She wrote that down in her blue Moleskine book. "Pancakes are a slippery slope."

She put her pen down and thoughtfully chewed the silky inside of her left cheek. She stared hard at the photo on her iPod of those beautiful, strong young African women who had just invented this amazing generator that made electricity out of human urine. She shook her head. It was [...]


The Rape of Africa: Designed in California, Made in China

At the celebration of all things capital known as the D conference, put on by the Wall Street Journal, Vagina Monologuist Eve Ensler raised the topic of the coltan trade in the Congo. It was a classic piece of "awareness raising" in the Southern California celebrity cause tradition, where a bit of conscience was paraded out to the crowd of venture capitalists and technology acolytes but no conclusions drawn or consequences demanded. During the discussion with the Journal's Kara Swisher, Ensler brought up widespread sexual assault in the Eastern Congo as part of ongoing regional warfare.


Quit Your Job! Living With the Wild Things, Without Compromise

Wild Nature Institute is the nonprofit creation of wildlife biologist Monica Bond and quantitative ecologist Derek Lee. They live and work for much of the year in Africa, where they study and inventory iconic and threatened wildlife populations such as the Masai Giraffe, which is rapidly declining due to lost habitat, disease and illegal hunting.

Ken Layne: Hello, Derek Lee! Because you are traveling between Nairobi and Zanzibar and I'm on the other side of the planet, maybe we'll do this in email format? So what is it that you and Monica do in Africa? This past week sounds like it held a lot of safari travel and [...]


Hello, Animal

I am an oblivious person. I don't notice things that bother me.

That doesn't mean I live a happy, contented life, or that I'm never bothered. I am bothered, I just don't realize it. If my kitchen is messy, for example, which is often, I do not prepare food in it. That may sound like perfectly logical behavior, but logic plays no part in what is actually a series of competing impulses. The way I experience not-cooking as a function of kitchen messiness is as a Thing That Happens Over and Over Until I Start To Wonder If There's a Correlation. It's not a decision I've made; rather, it's [...]


When Science Stories Go Crazy: "Desperate Addicts Inject Others’ Blood"!

It is very easy to write a bad science story. It is tantalizingly easy.¹ Often that is because writing a nuanced story requires a level of scientific explanation that will far exceed a reader's patience and a newspaper's wordcount. It's also easy because reporters let those folks who are stuck churning out releases for journals and universities do the hard work. There are whole sites devoted to these releases and they are superb. There are unintentionally hilarious headlines ("Double-teaming a whole-genome hunt") and more quantum-physics-related superlatives than you can shake a stick at. They are also full of puns ("Engineering could give reconstructive surgery a facelift"), so there's that [...]