A polemic against NGOs and the destruction of local innovation However, one issue that has received relatively scant attention is the way in which the notion of civil society has been reduced to being synonymous with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This is one area that can have malign and far-reaching negative impacts, which I’d like to explore here. And here's another view, this time from India.
The poor in America: In need of help Some 15% of Americans (around 46.2m people) live below the poverty line, as Ms Hamilton does. You have to go back to the early 1960s—before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programmes—to find a significantly higher rate. Many more, like Ms Dunham, have incomes above the poverty line but nevertheless cannot meet their families’ basic monthly needs, and there are signs that their number is growing. Once upon a time the fates of these people weighed heavily on American politicians. Ronald Reagan boasted about helping the poor by freeing them from having to pay federal income tax. Jack Kemp, Bob Dole’s running-mate in 1996, sought to spearhead a “new war on poverty.” George W. Bush called “deep, persistent poverty…unworthy of our nation’s promise”. No longer. Budgets are tight and the safety net is expensive. Mitt Romney famously said he was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net to take care of them. Mr Obama’s second-term plan mentioned poverty once, and on the trail he spoke gingerly of “those aspiring to the middle class”. “Poor” is a four-letter word.
In a few weeks, ground-breaking will begin on the far West Side. The project: Hudson Yards, the largest real-estate development ever undertaken in the city's history, an enormous mini-metropolis whose planning might have left even Robert Moses dumbstruck. - Wendy Goodman [more inside]
Recent developments in online learning have increasingly democratized the exchange of information in higher education: the launch of University of the People, a tuition-free online university; Khan Academy's acquisition of SmartHistory and its growing emphasis on humanities and liberal arts; the University of Reddit's crowd-sourced lessons being taught in real-world classrooms; Skillshare creating a community marketplace for teachers and students; Lore opening its doors to learners from all walks of life; major institutes in India putting every class lecture on YouTube in English; LectureFox collating together free university lectures from across the web. Of course not everyone is happy with the way things are going.
This is just the top 30, what I consider to be the most likely candidates for actual new programming jargon based on community upvotes, not just "funny thing that another programmer typed on a webpage and I felt compelled to upvote for hilarity". Because that would be Reddit. Coding Horror presents the top 30 Stack Overflow New Programming Jargon entries.
As hopes for the future of multilateral action on the environment are fading, the draft negotiating text of "The future we want", the Rio+20 declaration was leaked, showing where the US delegation was seeking to remove any and all references to equity.
“Sexual orientation does make you poor,” says Manohar Elavarthi, a community organizer with Sangama in Bangalore. “Poverty is not just economic – you miss access to so many things: ration cards, inheritance rights, voter ID cards.” In several South Asian countries, there are reports that LGBT people have even been denied access to disaster relief. And homophobia is intricately connected with other divisions in South Asian societies, particularly around gender but also religion and caste. Yet I saw many signs of hope and change in both India and Nepal. Those transgender sex workers in Chennai have organized a coalition, called V-CAN, of every single community-based organization in the state of Tamil Nadu that serves homosexual or transgender people. Working with the NGO Praxis, they have been able to gain access to some public benefits, such as pensions and registering as “third gender” on government ID cards. Activists in Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society have achieved similar results and more. ~ World Bank blog post
Having previously been disappointed by the information available on the topic, this is my attempt at categorizing different ways to implement 2D platform games, list their strengths and weaknesses, and discuss some implementation details.
While growth prospects in the field are incredibly high, recent trends, such as "tools grow[ing] more advanced" (see Adobe Flash Builder or MS Visual Studio) have had people wondering over the past few years if computer science has much room for growth left. Some question whether it is alive. Others, such as Carnegie Mellon, say not so fast. In any case, employment has been a bit iffy (/.). There is the possibility that Computer Science is simply growing up (PDF), then again the U of Florida decided to say good bye to it this past week. But hey, if you are not going to that University, and still are shooting for computer science, here are some tips.
In a sympathetic biochemical photo-reactive process, the Biosphere has altered the litho-sphere into the pedosphere, the cryo-sphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere*
The Loess Plateau in China’s Northwest is home to more than 50 million people. Centuries of overuse led to one of the highest erosion rates in the world and widespread poverty. Two projects (results) set out to restore the Loess Plateau. [more inside]
/dev/sigh :: user-contributed scenes from the sometimes frustrating world of software and web development.
The nutrition puzzle Why do so many people in poor countries eat so badly—and what can be done about it?
India tells Britain: We don't want your aid According to a leaked memo, the foreign minister, Nirupama Rao, proposed “not to avail [of] any further DFID [British] assistance with effect from 1st April 2011,” because of the “negative publicity of Indian poverty promoted by DFID”. But officials at DFID, Britain’s Department for International Development, told the Indians that cancelling the programme would cause “grave political embarrassment” to Britain, according to sources in Delhi. Further embarressment ensues. Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is incredible that ministers have defended the aid we send to India, insisting it is vital, when now we learn that even the Indian government doesn’t want it.”
The 5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor (sl Cracked list) [more inside]
Malaysia is proposing a Computing Professionals Bill, based on the Registration of Engineers Act [.PDF] which makes it mandatory for all practicing "computing professionals" to be registered with a government body. Dealing in the IT industry, including sending “proposals, plans, designs, drawings, schemes, reports, studies or others to be determined by the Board to any person or authority in Malaysia” without being registered will incur a fine not exceeding RM20,000 (~US$6380) or 6 months in jail. Malaysian IT professionals and geeks are up in arms, and similarities have been drawn to Nigeria's law on computing professionals.
The Caravan magazine takes a long, hard look at the Formula 1 inaugural enterprise in India.
Now the story of a wealthy new media company that nearly lost everything and the one TV series that had no choice but to keep it all together. It's Arrested... Development... on Netflix. [more inside]
The Millennium Villages, launched in association with the Millennium Development Goals (wiki) adopted by the UN in 2000, recently received a grant of $72 million to continue its work. In a post on the always interesting Guardian Poverty Matters blog, a group of poverty researchers has recently summarized their findings that the project did not plan for a rigorous evaluation, and thus we will not know if they worked. Jeff Sachs, the scholar most strongly associated with the MDVs, disagrees. The blog Development Impact (which, in fairness, is basically all about randomized controlled trials in development) weighs in here and here.
We talk about Lego a lot here on the blue. We also talk about Arrested Development. Now we can do both... at the same time.
Science fiction always uses it in varying degrees. Some believe it will bring about a perfect Technological Utopia:Heaven on Earth. Some believe it will herald a dark and dystopian future. Perhaps it will elevate man to a being that is more than human; Human+ and permanently and irrevocably transform the human condition, and still others believe that too much involvement in it will void your existence. Some religions totally depend on it and others find it harder to deal with: The list of emerging technologies.
"Using pejorative terms like "handouts" and "doling out", some parts of the media are mounting a campaign to suggest Britain should be embarrassed by our level of aid giving. But the idea that aid is generous is absurd. Some families, inspired by religious tradition, think it is appropriate to give 10% of what they have to charity, £10 in every £100 of earnings. In 2010, the UK gave not £10, not £1, but 56p ($0.91) in overseas aid for every £100 ($163) we earned as a country. On average, since 1990 we have given even less, 35p ($0.57)." [Giving aid to poor countries is hardly a great act of generosity] [more inside]
Lorem Pixum — A placeholder image generator for web and print designers for any size or topic. Speed up your workflow during the development process.
Toady One started with generating cities. That turned into cities with rivers and castles. Cities need sewers, and sewers means catacombs and dungeons. Catacombs and dungeons means undead creatures, which leads to necromancers and obviously, immortality. From there, it's only a few steps to werebeasts, specifically werelizards. [more inside]
Commodity Prices and Paradigm Shifts - "The real paradigm shift, or more like a paradigm drift, because it is slowly enveloping us, is that we are moving toward preferences and lifestyle where we will simply consume less. A lot less... [more inside]
The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
There is an inspiring mural on the back of the Micro Center building in Cambridge, MA. It commemorates the freeway revolt against the proposed I-695 Inner Belt. There are usually cars parked in front of it, but some have managed to get good photos.
Remove the scourge of conflict - "Taming mass violence is the theme of the World Bank's latest World Development Report, which focuses on 'conflict, security and development' [pdf] ... Mass violence destroys all hopes of progress. We should make a huge effort to eliminate this scourge. It seems feasible. It is desirable. So try."
Grandmothers are agitated to the point of singing K’naan songs. This basically concerns the frustration over the Canadian Senate killing Bill C-393 (a law to facilitate production of cheaper life saving HIV/AIDS drugs for developing countries). With the new election looming, the “Grannies” would like to see folks use aidsaction.ca to email their candidates and ask them about their Access to Medicines stance.
Every year, nine million children under five die from preventable diseases such as diarrhea and malaria. Often, the treatments for these diseases are cheap, safe, and readily available. So why don't people pick these 'low-hanging fruit'? Why don’t mothers vaccinate their children? Why don’t families use bednets, or buy chlorinated water? And why do they spend such large amounts of money on ineffective cure instead?Poor Economics is a book and website by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. It has maps, graphs, and data drawn from the research at MIT's Poverty Action Lab. It is currently being reviewed and discussed (1, 2, 3) at the Economist. BONUS: Duflo discusses the book and Randomized Controlled Trials (Wikipedia: RCT).
Fareed Zakaria: Are America's Best Days Behind Us? - "We have an Electoral College that no one understands and a Senate that doesn't work, with rules and traditions that allow a single Senator to obstruct democracy without even explaining why. We have a crazy-quilt patchwork of towns, municipalities and states with overlapping authority, bureaucracies and resulting waste. We have a political system geared toward ceaseless fundraising and pandering to the interests of the present with no ability to plan, invest or build for the future. And if one mentions any of this, why, one is being unpatriotic, because we have the perfect system of government, handed down to us by demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century and who serve as models for us today and forever. America's founders would have been profoundly annoyed by this kind of unreflective ancestor worship." [for/against]
Epidemiology: Study of a lifetime. "In 1946, scientists started tracking thousands of British children born during one cold March week. On their 65th birthday, the study members find themselves more scientifically valuable than ever before." [more inside]
The library system in Polk County, Florida has installed vending machines so that patrons who aren't close to a library can still check books out.
Have we hit 'peak travel'? Recent studies have suggested we may be approaching the limits of global capacity to sustain growth in human movement at current rates, or that we may already be at the structural limits of that capacity: the theory of "peak travel." Does it matter? What is our responsibility as travelers? Is there an upside? [more inside]
Inducement Prizes -- Best known for the Ansari X Prize, the DARPA Grand Challenge and the Clay Mathematics Millennium Problems, inducement prizes have a long history, but their recent successes have led to increased government interest, viz. challenge.gov, and resulted in the development of vaccines, thanks in large part to the work of Michael Kremer.* [more inside]
Giving What We Can is a movement founded by Toby Ord , a 31 year old Oxford academic on slightly more than average income who plans to give away a million pounds during his lifetime. [more inside]
Just Give Money to the Poor: bypass governments and NGOs and let the poor decide how to use their money? Should recipients be asked to satisfy conditions? Does it only work well in rural areas of developing countries? Found via this socialist rag; mentioned here first by this puny human.
Michael Maren, an outspoken critic of foreign aid and development assistance, gave an interview to Might Magazine about the flaws in the current models for aid to Africa.
One week. Two development summits. Hundreds of heads of state, development luminaries, CEOs, and social entrepreneurs. Celebrity star power (pdf). No poor people. Aid Watch spent three days trying to make sense of the greatest show on earth to help the world’s lowest.
You've heard of the IPCC, but have you heard of the MEA? The term "global warming" has been with us for 35 years. The idea that CO2 would cause the planet to heat up has been with us significantly longer, discovered in the early 20th century by the Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius (previously). However, the concept of global warming is not without its problems (and this has nothing to do with solar flares). [more inside]