Shared Prosperity, Common Wealth, National Equity and a Citizen's Dividend: Nirit Peled takes a look at social experiments in basic incomes for VPRO Tegenlicht, a Dutch public television documentary series. Starting with a German crowdfunded UBI chosen by raffle -- kind of like the opposite of Le Guin's Omelas (or Shirley Jackson's Lottery in reverse) -- the focus moves on to Albert Wenger who wants to disconnect work from income not only as automation progresses but to accelerate the process. Then it's on to Guy Standing who has conducted basic income experiments in India and Namibia (pdf) and is trying to get one off the ground in Groningen (Utrecht apparently is also a go). Finally, a stop in Alaska to ask some of its residents about their views on the state-owned Permanent Fund. This last part brings to mind the question: just what is wealth anyway? [more inside]
South African artist and activist Gabrielle Le Roux is in San Francisco for the first time to show the "Proudly African & Transgender" portrait and story series she co-created with trans* activists from Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya in 2008, together with a selection of portraits from the "Proudly Trans* in Turkey" collaboration with eighteen trans* activists from across Turkey. The portraits and stories will show at the SF LGBT Center at the invitation of the Queer Cultural Center and SFSU Sociology Dept. Galería de La Raza will be showing the 18 part video installation of the Proudly Trans* in Turkey exhibition, through which trans* activists from across Turkey explore the issues they want to discuss on film. [more inside]
Planned cities are not a new idea (Palmanova, Italy, 1593). From Washington, D.C. (1791), to Canberra, Australia (1911), to Brasilia, Brazil (1957), planned cities have long been an urban dream (from space), perhaps most frequently applied to national capitals. But they don't always work out as planned. [more inside]
Roger Ebert thought highly of the first two films, the first he summarized as "a movie that begins with a Coke bottle falling from the heavens, and ends with a Jeep up in a tree," and called the South African slapstick film "a nice little treasure." He said the second was for people who like "happy movies better than grim and violent ones." After The Gods Must Be Crazy (YT, Crackle) and its sequel (YT), three unofficial sequels were produced in the early 1990s in Hong Kong and filmed in Cantonese, still featuring Nǃxau ǂToma throughout the continued series, and Coke bottles also feature prominently. As could be expected, these knock-off sequels integrate parts of Chinese culture into the films for the predictable humorous cultural conflicts, from hopping vampires to nefarious panda-nabbers. [more inside]
In temperate climates, "fairy rings" appear in grassy meadows and lawns, and these are caused by fungi, with some rings expanding for hundreds of years. But in the western part of Southern Africa, there are a different sort of "fairy circles," barren circles that are surrounded by long-lived perennial grasses. The Himba people, an ethnic group in northern Namibia, attribute them to original ancestor, Mukuru, or consider them "footprints of the gods," and scientists have been stumped for decades. Professor Norbert Jürgens, from the University of Hamburg, might have finally solved the riddle: a species of termites that are most active at night and don't build big, noticeable nests, have engineered the ecosystem by eating the roots of grasses that grow within the circle, keeping the soil moist for long periods of time. The discussion continues, as some scientists who have studied the phenomena aren't so sure about the theory.
Born in Africa to French wildlife photographer parents, Tippi Degré had a most unusual childhood. (Possibly NSFW)
Namibian Fairy Circles "By comparing photos taken over a 4-year period, Walter Tschinkel confirmed something other scientists had suspected: The circles were alive—or at least they were dynamic. A number of circles appeared and disappeared over this time period. Extrapolating from the data, Tschinkel calculated that most smaller circles arise and vanish every 24 years, whereas larger circles last up to 75 years. Overall, the lifespan averaged 41 years."
Welwitschia mirabilis lies around the Namibian coastal desert like misshapen heaps of horticultural debris, either singly or in untidy clumps. Each plant has two huge leaves lolling out from its gaping trunk that collect moisture from the sea fogs. These plants would win no awards for beauty - the Regius Keeper of Kew Gardens described them as "one of the ugliest" plants brought to England, and it's hard to disagree with the Daily Mail's description of it as "hideous ... leprous ... snaking and sinister". None the less, it is a tourist attraction in its own right and supports the Namibian coat of arms where it symbolises fortitude and tenacity. If you're still hanging out for some Welwitschian goodness, here's a video and lots more photos on Wikimedia Commons. You can even try growing one yourself!
" Under the plan, every citizen, rich or poor, would be entitled to it starting at birth. There would be no poverty test, no conditions and, therefore, no social bureaucracy. And no one would be told what he or she is permitted to do with the money." Promising news from Spiegel Online about a Guaranteed minimum income project in Otjivero, Namibia. (via)
Trees Never Meet is the thoughtful blog of David, a historian of Africa. Though posting has slowed recently, the archives are fascinating. On fitting in; on killing animals as an ex-vegetarian; on Namibian legal history; on "anti-conquests"; on the types of people who have inhabited Namibia since the conquest; on Namibian politics. David also has a fantastic, well-written dream blog.
President Martti Ahtisaari wins the Nobel Peace Prize. A former Finnish President, an UN envoy, a social democrat, a school teacher and founder of Crisis Management Initiative has negotiated for peace in many troubled areas for three decades. Last fall and last summer CMI (without Ahtisaari's presence) called former Northern Ireland and South African militants to use their experience for finding Iraqi factions a way out of bloodshed. A plan for Kosovo. Negotiations ending 30-year conflict in Aceh, Indonesia. Negotiating Namibia independence. Got conflict? Mr. Ahtisaari is your man.
There is something creepily colonialist in Madonna’s attitude to Africa. First we had the White Man’s Burden -– now we have the White Madonna’s Burden. More and more celebrities are treating Africa as a wide-eyed child that needs a Hollywood hug -– or as a wicked devil that needs a Hollywood hammering. [more inside]