Zambia and economics

Apr. 17th, 2019 12:41 pm
brainwane: A silhouette of a woman in a billowing trenchcoat, leaning against a pole (shadow)
[personal profile] brainwane
Several years ago I got to visit my sister in Lusaka, Zambia.

I saw how it can work when utility companies work on a prepayment basis (as in, you have to top up your account before usage, much as you would top up a pay-as-you-go mobile phone plan). I found out about how one frequently irons one's clothes, or has them ironed, after washing, not just for aesthetic reasons, but to kill parasites. I learned that Zambia has a four-corners water border with three other countries. And I learned that the indigenous name for Victoria Falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya or Mosi-O-Tunya, which translates as "the smoke that thunders", inspiring the name of a beer. (If you visit during the bit of the dry season when the waterfall roars less impressively, enterprising locals will happily photograph you in front of the green-painted wall they've set up, digitally place your smiling family in front of a suitably watery background, and charge you for prints. They also have props available in case you want to, say, wear a headdress, hold a carved stick, etc., in the photo, and I feel mixed about this, as you might imagine.) I meant to write up more of what I observed (I tweeted about a concert I attended but that's about it), then didn't get around to it, sadly.

At the time, India was my default comparator; I noticed how bits of things -- the climate, the physical infrastructure, the history museum, intangibles -- were like, or not like, things I'd experienced in India. I hope someday I get to visit more, different places in Africa so I can get a better understanding of it as its own context.

Just now I reread an old Daniel Davies post about Zambia (he was born there; I think his father did some kind of job there for a while), which he wrote in 2008 but which -- as I see the toll extractive capitalism is taking on my industry and my country -- strikes close to home.

...relevant to natural resource curse. What the continent of Africa is full of, is chancers and get-rich-quick merchants. The natural resources industry is of course famous for such characters, and the trait that they share with vulture financiers is that they vastly prefer to substitute risk tolerance, sharp elbows and an eye for the main chance for graft and creativity. People like this are useful and even necessary in small doses, but (as any history of your favourite frontier and colonisation narrative will tell you), in large numbers they're pestilential; a walking, talking infestation of the same kind of behaviour that's the staple of the resource curse literature.

There's a post forthcoming ... on psychological obstacles to development but I think this is the big one; not the lack of a work ethic, but the perversion of the work ethic in a large proportion of the domestic and expatriate business class, who think that success isn't something you build; it's something you find...
jesse_the_k: amazed Alanna (hero of Staples/Vaughn SAGA comic) (alanna is amazed)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

Ingrid Tischer's name was mentioned several times at the recent SDS@OSU conference. Ingrid Tischer is a disabled white woman who works in the philanthropy sector. She blogs the hell out of that experience and much more, with honest surrealism and humor. She spouts “FEDup rants” opposing TED’s goal of making knowledge a commodity.

You can spend hours exploring her site; this essay lent itself to excerption:

My FEDup™ Rant: RespectAbility, Class and Race Privilege, and Leveling the Erring Field

quote and great takedown of Hockenberry )

Update on Colleen

Apr. 16th, 2019 05:09 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Yesterday (Monday) she fell trying to go from her walker to the bed -- got herself into an awkward position and seemed confused when I tried to tell her how to get out of it. Rather than simply having the EMTs put her back in bed we decided to use the opportunity to get her to the ER and have her looked at. Which turned out to have been the right thing to do.

She's not doing all that well; but doesn't seem to be in immediate danger. Medical info under the cut. )

She'll almost certainly end up back in rehab again after she's discharged. I'm very worried about the mental confusion and the weakness, although getting more oxygen into her seems to have helped.

I'm not getting a damned thing done on $GIG the last few days; that's probably not surprising but is a matter for concern.

boost: What's On Your Nightstand?

Apr. 16th, 2019 06:24 pm
jesse_the_k: Text: "I'm great in bed ... I can sleep for days" (sleep for days)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
The Nightstand Collective collects described photos from the bedside tables of people who are chronically ill.

I feel seen

I keep expecting to wake up and have the energy to write up what I learned at the SDS con. Maybe tomorrow? Or next week?

I did go swimming for the first time since Doc said "rest my hip." The water was so delicious! I get to trade water for cognition. I'm so grateful I don't have any deadlines right now.

PyCon NA, !!Con and WisCon 2019

Apr. 16th, 2019 09:59 am
brainwane: My smiling face, in front of a wall and a brown poster. (smiling)
[personal profile] brainwane
May is my big conference month this year. cut for one photo + length )

.... I need to order business card refills.

(Edited a few hours later to add: crossposted to Cogito, Ergo Sumana.)

Done Since 2019-04-07

Apr. 14th, 2019 08:47 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Worried about Colleen. She seems to be getting worse, not better. I'm don't know what I should do. No idea what I can do. She's declining, and I'm scared. No idea what the fuck is going to happen when I go off to my 50th reunion in June.

I had a great time Monday doing a back-yard archaeology dig with N and (her younger kid) j. We actually found a few things, which made it a lot more exciting.

I finally managed to get the little yellow GL-iNet router configured as a wifi-to-ethernet bridge for the printer. That turns out to be tricky if you want both ends to be part of the same network. It's even pretty tricky if you don't. I am, however, finding my way around OpenWrt, the more versatile (and more up-to-date) of the two aftermarket Linux distributions for routers. I'm now working on the somewhat more ambitious project of setting up a bridge to the Box Room, using the Linksys WNDR4300 I ordered from eBay on Monday. That seems to be going a little more smoothly.

I ran the numbers on next year's taxes. Turns out I can reduce my withholding by over $1K/month. That will help a lot.

Pretty much done incorporating the editor's suggestions into $GIG; now I have to get the rest of it -- about the last third -- finished.

I really just want to crawl into a hole and hide until things get better. But I know that if I do that, they never will.

Notes & links, as usual )

Day 5: Trip Home

Apr. 14th, 2019 06:55 pm
jesse_the_k: profiles of Due South's Ray Kowalski and Benton Fraser staring through windshield (dS F/K fast car)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

My last conference event was a free lunch, with fond farewells to new friends.

MyGuy & Bella pick me up at 115. We’re returning on the hypotenuse from the journey down on I90 to I60 to i70, traveling state and US highways. Sometimes known as blue roads because that’s how they’re shown on paper maps.

and so we dawdled northwesterly )


Apr. 13th, 2019 01:31 am
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
For many years, my go-to "is there big news I want to/need to know about?" source has been BBC News's front page. It has more of a UK and worldwide focus than most US sites, and that helps me both be a bit less provincial and see less "the latest outrage from the federal government" coverage.

On mobile in particular, one just gets a short headline plus a graphic for each story. I have this little habit of reading each one and mentally responding re: whether this is good or bad news. So my brain is going, e.g.,:

"Good? .... Bad .... Bad? .... Good .... Depressingly bad .... Soccer, no response .... Bad ..... Good? ....."

I am probably a user persona of some kind, in case you work on CMSes for news.

Thankful Thursday

Apr. 11th, 2019 06:49 pm
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Today I am thankful for...

  • having filed my tax return;
  • some simple what-if tax calculations that tell me I can cut my withholding in half this year;
  • Colleen's health improving (at least in terms of her kidney numbers; still very worried about the rest);
  • our cats, especially Desti, who loves being a villain's lap cat;
  • maybe OpenWrt and dd-wrt (the two major embedded Linux distributions for routers -- the former seems more hackable, the latter seems easier to configure for what I'm doing with them -- but neither of them is doing what I want it to).

A poll

Apr. 9th, 2019 12:11 pm
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
My spouse and I got into a conversation, riffing on Columbo and A Suitable Boy, that leads me to ask:

Poll #21776 Live-in masseur/masseuse
This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 37

When I think of the idea of a masseuse who lives in one's home (assuming the employer is wealthy enough to afford such a servant), I think:

View Answers

8 (21.6%)

Who gets massages that often?! Or, do they serve the whole household, including the other servants? [Logistics spiral]
27 (73.0%)

Someone's having an affair.
8 (21.6%)

Wait, what word do we use now? Masseur? Massage therapist?
6 (16.2%)

Something else, which I may discuss in comments.
4 (10.8%)

Done Since 2019-03-31

Apr. 7th, 2019 10:40 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Another deeply mixed week -- Colleen's health continues to be a concern, and at this point I can't really tell whether she's improving or declining. She was better Friday than Thursday, but that's not saying much: Thursday left me a total wreck between some very dicey transfers for her doctor's visit, and her fall getting into her chair when we got back. And I wasted quite a lot of time -- more than a day -- playing with my little travel router.

(On the other hand, the router was fun. Its flakiness turned out to have been the power supply; meanwhile I'd re-flashed it with OpenWrt, which I hadn't played with before. On the gripping hand I still haven't able to reconfigure it to bridge my laser printer, which had been the original idea. It's almost certainly possible, but I shouldn't be spending the time right now.)

On the plus side, I seem to be making pretty good progress on $GIG ($CLIENT seemed impressed with the introduction; we'll see how that goes), and I'm getting an unexpected, and unexpectedly large, tax refund thanks mainly to the greatly increased standard deduction. I think this may be my first time ever taking the standard deduction.

Between being able to reduce my withholding and our housemates' financial contributions, it looks like I won't be needing a full-time job after all, and can take on part-time work only if it's fun. ($GIG falls into that category.) And we won't need to try to turn our expansion space into a vacation rental, at least not this year.

Speaking of categories, have a look at the HTTP Status Cats and GIT PURR! Git Commands Explained with Cats!.

Notes & links, as usual )

SDS@OSU Trip Log Day 2

Apr. 6th, 2019 08:29 pm
jesse_the_k: profiles of Due South's Ray Kowalski and Benton Fraser staring through windshield (dS F/K fast car)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

Up at 5, do our am stuff — lightbox, stretches. La Quinta’s provided breakfast included hard boiled eggs, safe enough for me. They forgot the vinegar, though, so it took 10 minutes to dig the shell off.

Of course we fly via preparations airways, so I had an apple, turkey jerky, and a choc chip hobnob. MyGuy went for gas and trapped a container of wild Chobani for me as well. While he packed the motel’s luggage cart full, Bella and I were delighted to some sidewalk to run back and forth on. Thank heaven for corporate policies that result in a Lowe’s building supply store having sidewalk on the street facing a residential block. May it be the seed of further sidewalk to come.

On the road at 915a.

Almost miss Avery Corporation HQ, funny it didn’t stick out.

“babble” )

...and I finally attend the first SDS function, which is an informal chat with bonus clementines. I meet several fascinating women who share their research ideas and experience. More anon!

SDS@OSU Road Log: Day 1

Apr. 5th, 2019 07:35 pm
jesse_the_k: profiles of Due South's Ray Kowalski and Benton Fraser staring through windshield (dS F/K fast car)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k

I slowly packed all day Thursday with intermittent, frequent breaks on Twitter & DW.

Woke up, did my morning health work, then take Bella for a walk while MyGuy gasses car.

We’re out the driveway 943a on Friday

“mundanity” )

Onward to Columbus tomorrow, where I get to meet [personal profile] forests_of_fire in person!

[personal profile] radhardened
Today marks the beginning of Seimei 清明 “Clear and Bright,” the two-week “season” in the traditional Japanese calendar when the sun moves from 15° to 30° on the ecliptic. The name suggests a period of sunny, clear weather in which one might enjoy an abundance of blossoms—especially cherry blossoms— after early spring’s chill has lifted, as geese and swallows return from their wintering grounds.

Seimei 清明 is also the name of famous Heian-era esoteric cosmologist Abe no Seimei 安倍 晴明, a figure of both history and legend. I have to admit I probably wouldn’t know the name Abe no Seimei, though, if I hadn’t spent a year living ⅓ km north of where he lived in Kyoto when I was a Midorikai student. It’s on that site that a shrine dedicated to him was erected in 1007 CE. More than five centuries later, it seems that Sen no Rikyū 千利休 built a home for himself on the grounds of the shrine and especially favored the water from this well for making tea. A millennium into the shrine’s existence, the prominent pentagrams gracing its entrance caught my eye as I’d bike past on errands; while you can barely throw a proverbial stone in Kyoto without hitting a shrine or temple, I hadn’t seen anything like these pentagrams in them before. Found throughout Seimei-jinja 晴明神社, the pentagrams are Abe no Seimei’s emblem and represent the Five Elements in Taoism. When I took the time to explore the shrine, I was delighted if not surprised— physical and religious cosmologies having been segregated* only in recent times—to find the path to the grounds’ famous well marked with stepping stones in the shape of the Big Dipper 北斗七星.

Seimei-jinja 晴明神社 statue of Abe no Seimei 安倍 晴明 Seimei-jinja 晴明神社 lucky peach statue at Seimei-jinja 晴明神社 Seimei-i 晴明井

Seimei-i 晴明井 is a famous well located on the grounds of Seimei-jinja 晴明神社, and the water drawn from it is said to have divine health-giving properties. Tea master Sen no Rikyū was known to have made tea with the water from this well.

I like the Big Dipper 北斗七星 design in the stones along the path to the well.

* Though of course incompletely, the Space Window in the US’s Washington National Cathedral being a symbolic example of which I only recently learned.

from my blog

Thankful Thursday

Apr. 4th, 2019 07:00 pm
mdlbear: Wild turkey hen close-up (turkey)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Today I am thankful for

  1. my family, and especially my sister N,
  2. the fact that everyone in my family is still alive, though some are still at risk;
  3. an unexpected, and unexpectedly large, tax refund (with a nod to VNC, because it's faster to screen-share than to keep switching the monitor inputs);
  4. ethanol.

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