IMF, World Bank, International Debt…

March 28, 2007

I’ve spent some time surfing the web (dude) and looking at the websites for the IMF, World Bank, and other sites that compile international debt statistics.  This site has an easy data query thing where you choose a country (from those with over 1million people, plus smaller countries that are members of the World Bank), choose different ‘series’ of information to view (such as Agricultural Land %, GDP,Exports of goods and services (%GDP), Longterm debt, etc.), then select years of interest. You can view the information as a table, % change, and other forms. From my own fiddling around (on the series I listed above), Costa Rica is doing much better than Nicaragua… still. It’s easy to use, check it out.

I also looked up the World Social Forum, which calls itself not an organization, but “…an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and inter- linking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo- liberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a society centred on the human person”. It’s being held in India this year. The list of activities on the first page gives a good overal picture of the types of organizations involved and the range of workshops, lectures, and events. It illustrates an effort at comprehensive and collaborative tackling of major problems, as advocated in Breakfast of Biodiversity


Confused Uganda

March 28, 2007

Read the article, because it is short, but has huge implications for biodiversity in Eastern Africa.  Basically, the Ugandan President Museveni is petitioning parliament to allow a sugar cane company to come into the Mabira Forest Reserve and cut down up to 30,000 hectares for sugar farming.  This will be discussed further tonight!

Wildlife at risk under U.S. plan

March 28, 2007

The Bush administration proposed changes in the Endangered Species Act

The new proposal would weaken the act to the point that 80% of the species protected would lose there protection (1,300) and give the states more discretion in enforcing the law on endangered species contradicting its purpose because the states were not protecting and recovering endangered species and the new proposal that would allow the damaging projects to go ahead even after it has been shown to threaten species extinction       Leslie

How to be idle

March 28, 2007

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very relaxing even though I was doing work. The three reasons why I think we read the book was that one learning how to be idle bright bring back respect for the environment with there more friendly attitudes, help surface the personality within you to help figure out your own true feelings, the book was general to the stereotypes that might help explain the behavior of some of the past authors and lastly to question as an individual the social norms and question its application and apply pressure against them. My favorite chapters that I could relate to is the conversing, moon and starts and napping. I feel I can initially act idle and do some of the activities but being idle for to long I get board and then I feel useless and the guilt sinks in and that I should be doing something.          Leslie

how to be idle

March 26, 2007
  • This book was not at all what I expected. I thought it would be goofy and fun, which it was, but I was not expecting it to also be so literary and well-researched. There are so many allusions to history and well-known writers! It was pretty amazing. I was also surprised to learn that the author has children, as it doesn’t seem like having young kids would be very conducive to living an idle life.
  • At first I thought the reason this book tied into the class was because the primary use of wilderness is recreation, which might be described as “idleness.” While this is touched on in the chapter “On Holidays,” there is a lot more to it than that. Hodgkinson talks about how the strict schedule of the modern workday separates us from nature, because before the Industrial Revolution most people were self-employed and managed their own time. Some of what he said, especially in the chapter “Toil and Trouble,” reminded me of Wendell Berry.
  • I was pretty amused by the fact that this book seemed to offer advice on everything – interior decorating, tea bags vs. tea leaves vs. coffee, how to spend one’s vacations, etc. etc. etc.
  • Very very British – “skiving,” tea, etc.
  • The “Further Reading” list in the back of the book provides good fodder for Google jockeying (or not, since the URLs listed might make Googling itself unnecessary). My favorite is, the website of CLAWS, the Creative Living Alternatives to Wage Slavery movement. These people are crazy. In a good way. They actually seem to be really into social justice issues like environmentalism, sustainability, and feminism.
  • I also Googled Lin Yutang, the Chinese philosopher who gets mentioned again and again. According to Wikipedia, he lived from 1895 to 1976 and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature more than once. He was born in China, but his father was a Christian minister, he was educated at Harvard and lived for much of his life in America and Europe, and many of his books were in Chinese.
  • Lucid dreaming, which is part of the subject of the last chapter, fascinates me. I’ve experienced it a number of times and it’s a really cool feeling. I don’t remember my dreams as often as I used to anymore and that makes me sad, because I know I have some pretty crazy ones.
  • Questions- is “wage slavery” really such a bad thing? Is the way of life Hodgkinson suggests practical (or even possible) for everyone, or could only upper-middle-class people achieve his version of an idle life? What is our reaction to his condoning smoking, binge drinking, recreational drug use, and promiscuity?


american crocodile no longer endangered

March 26, 2007

Since I saw several American crocodiles when I was in Florida a couple months ago, I thought this was cool: they’ve been downgraded from “endangered” to “threatened.”  According to the article, scientists estimate that there are about 2000 crocodiles in southern Florida today, as opposed to just 300 when they were first listed as endangered in 1975.

Just to avoid confusion- these are not the same thing as alligators, of which there are many many many in Florida.


Gore back on the hill…

March 26, 2007

Last Wednesday Al Gore was back in his paradise.  In seperate House and Senate committees, Al and Tipper trudged around the hill claiming a “planetary emergency” requiring an aggressive federal response.  Sparked by the popularity of his role in An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s fame is growing and with Edwards as a shaky candidate, many Democrats and Greens are pushing for a Gore ticket in ’08.  Is this what everyone has been waiting for?  Will something actually get done to address climate change?

– Andy