strawberry pie

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Jokes

 Jokes are funny. But you can't be angry with it because its just a joke. It shows how other people think about your nation. Jokes on stereotypes are very interesting but you need to have background information to understand it. For example, the jokes about jews need lots of background information. I thought jokes show some kinds of diversity.
Do you think it fits the real characteristics?

Driving styles..............


One hand on steering wheel, one hand on horn
----Japan

One hand on steering wheel, one hand on newspaper, foot solidly on accelerator
----Boston

Both hands in air, gesturing, both feet on accelerator,
head turned to talk to someone in back seat
----Italy

One hand on horn,
one hand greeting,
one ear on cell phone,
one ear listening to loud music,
foot on accelerator,eyes on female pedestrians,
conversation with someone in next car
---- Welcome to India

Twins in Africa

Human twins are a rare because we humans are made to bear one child at a time unlike other animals on earth. And this exceptional birth of twins made a different point of view to people in the past. Some people disdained twins as devils while others worshiped them as Gods, which was mostly performed in Africa. Why is it so?

When you look at twins throughout the world, you will come across some differences in the twin's birthrate among the races. If you compare the twin's birthrates per 1000 childbirth, Negroid (Africans) has more than 20 pairs of twins, Caucasoid (Europeans) has 10 pairs and Mongoloid (Asians) has 6 pairs of twins. As you can see, the Africans twin's birthrate is very high, compared to the other 2 races. I wondered what was making the difference of the birthrates, but we still don't know the exact reasons till now. But from this, you can answer one of my earlier question, "Why are these customs mainly in Africa?" It was because there are more twins in Africa than any other country in the world. And there is another interesting thing. There isn't any large difference seen in the birthrate of identical twins between the races. It's almost the same. But in the fraternal twins case, the circumstances and the constitution influences and makes the differences of the birthrates among the races. So most of the African twins are fraternal twins and the number of the identical twins are the same as the other countries even though it has the highest birthrate.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

ICTR

 Recognizing that serious violations of humanitarian law were committed in Rwanda, and acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) by resolution 955 of 8 November 1994. The purpose of this measure is to contribute to the process of national reconciliation in Rwanda and to the maintenance of peace in the region. The ICTR was established for the prosecution of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994. It may also deal with the prosecution of Rwandan citizens responsible for genocide and other such violations of international law committed in the territory of neighbouring States during the same period. The Akayesu Case was the first case brought to the ICTR.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Unilever

 Recently, I've been researching on what MNCs (Multinational Company) are doing to help reach the MDGs (Millenium Development Goals). There are lots of information provided by the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) I thought it would be good to introduce some of the information relating to Africa since I'm writing an African series blog now.

 There are many MNCs which act an important role in reaching the MDGs until the year 2015. One of it is "Unilever". Unilever is a leader in nutrition, hygiene and personal care products, active in 150 countries worldwide. Unilever launched Annapurna iodised salt in India in 1999, followed by the launch in Ghana in 2001. The successful marketing of Annapurna iodised salt required a totally new marketing approach.
 Idoline deficiency problem is very serious among the developing nations. It causes coiters, mental retardation in children, braiin damage, congenital defects, miscarriages and stillbirths. UN research suggests that 30% of children under five in Africa suffer from idoline deficiency disorders. Unilever succeeded in offering iodized salt at close to the price local people paid for the non-iodized product. And this project Unilever is doing creates local jobs in manufacturing and distribution. Unilever helps local firms build capacity, investing in training, skills transfer and best practice which enables local salt producers to rapidly improve their output and quality.

 But the distribution in Ghana is very difficult due to extremely poor local infrastructure. And there are still local enterprises that sell non-iodized salt.
 This shows us that MNCs must cooperate with the government to construct a fair and consistent legal enforcement to make the aids become more effective.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Border


 Last year, we were given a map of Africa in class. This map was special because the borders were for the tribes and not for the states. We were told to draw the states borders in red as a home work. This taught us how the borders drawn by the suzerains doesn't match the original tribes borders. The main cause for the conflict in Africa is this missmatch of the borders. Different tribes are pushed into one country, or one tribe is divided into several countries. No wounder there are many conflicts in Africa!!


 But the solution is not to redraw the borders. If we do this, it will cause more confusion which will eventualy lead to conflicts. Even if it is not fair, the people in Africa should live with the existing borders. Because of the globalization, every country has different culture within itself. There are many ways for different cultured people to reside in one state. Becoming a federal state is one solution. Assimilation is another solution, though I think this is rather risky.

  When thinking about the melting pot vs. mosaic, I believe most people will think that mosaic is better. But is there a real answer? Because I think its the era that decides the right or wrong. Globalization was thought to be good, and it still is. But now there is localization. Before, everyone wanted to interact, know and feel other cultures. Now, everyone wants to preserve their own culture and refuses it to blend with other culture. Isn't this similar with the US changing from a melting pot to a mosaic?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Human development

 During the 1970s, education was seen as a human resorce for economic development. For example, Japan was able to become the world's economic power because of the high educational level after the war. In the 1990s, a new concept started to be recognized. This is the "Human Security". Before then, security was for states. But even if the state was secured, the human living in the states suffered oppression, starvation and so on. People started to think that human security was as important or more important than the state security. And in this new concept, education's role changed from supporting economic development, to development itself.

 In 1990, UNDP published the Human Development Report (HDR). The purpos of development aid changed from economic improvement to help many people live a life with respect of human dignity. To measure the degree of development, before we used only the GDP, but a new way was introduced. This is called the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI indicates whether people lead a long and healthy life, are educated and knowledgeable and enjoy a decent standard of living. The HDI is a composite of three basic components of human development: longevity, knowledge and standard of living. Longevity is measured by life expectancy. Knowledge is measured by a combination of adult literacy and mean years of schooling .Standard of living is measured by purchasing power, based on real GDP per capita adjusted for the purchacing power parity (PPP).

 Besides the HDI, there are other index such as Gender-related Development Index (GDI)* which measures the same variables as the HDI except that it adjusts for gender inequalities in life expectancy, literacy and gross enrolment, and income. There is also an index to measure the poverty of that country called the Human Poverty Index (HPI). And this HPI is devided into 2 index measuring developing countries and industrialized countries differently.


(*GDI doesn't stand for God Damn Independent here.)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Afforestation


 Wangari Maathai is a woman from Kenya. In 2004, she won the nobel peace prise for "Contribution for sustainable development, democracy and peace". She was the first environmental field activist to win nobel peace prise. And she was also the first as an African woman.
 In 1977, she established the Green Belt Movement and started tree planting. In 1986, it changed its name to Pan African green belt network, and started tree planting all over Africa and also started promoting democracy and sustainable development. During that time, Kenya was ruled by a dictator and Maathai was trown into jail several times, but she stood up courageously.


 Desertification is a serious problem. As you all know, the green has been rapidly disappearing at the Sahel strip. This area is also known as the "Starvation belt". The plants won't grow because there are no water. And because there is a lack of water, the people there use the dirty muddy water and even drink it. The only way to stop the desert from spreading anymore is to plant trees. But we must not plant all the trees for them. And also we must not force the people to plant trees. We must convince the people that planting trees are for their own benefit, and it is worth the opportunity cost of the time working at the farm instead.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

NERICA

 There are lots of people starving in Africa, and many countries try to help them by offering skills to make food. In Japan, we eat rice as our principal food. Rice is healthy, and it can be stocked for a long time. And right now there is a movement to grow rice in Africa.
 The accepted notion was that rice plant grown in Asia and in Africa cannot be breed together. But in 1992, Dr. Jones who worked in WARDA (West Africa Rice Development) succeeded in beeding rice plants of Asia and Africa. And the series of this new rice is called NERICA (New Rice for Africa). Right now there are 18 kinds of Nericas. The feature of Nerica is that it has a strong stem, it grows faster which gives time to grow other plants, the plant length is long so you don't need to bend, and it can resist the major bugs that eats rice plants.
 Uganda is the only country in Africa that the Nerica is grown in farm house level. In 1999, Uganda selected 3 NARIC from the upland rice variety and the number 3 Naric is Nerica 4. Uganda distributed the Narics to the private companies and that seed was distributed to farm houses.
 Nericas are spreading fast in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2002, Nerica 1, 2, 3 and 4 were the top varieties selected by farmers in trials in Benin, Burkina Faso, côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone and Togo. Within West Central Africa, Côte d’Ivoire released the first two Nerica varieties in 2000, and Nigeria released one in 2003. Farmers in The Gambia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone are growing several Nerica varieties. In Benin, Gabon, Mali and Togo, several Nerica varieties are under extension. Uganda has released a Nerica variety as "Naric-3". Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania are evaluating several Nerica varieties.
 
 Since rice isn't the principal food in West Africa, there are very few researchers and thus their knowledge and skill level is low. Also there aren't much machines too. It will be a long way to spread Nerica throughout Africa. But I hope Nerica will help save many starving people in Africa someday.

References

  1. Institution of Science in Society
  2. Gaiko Forum (November 2005, No. 208