Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Unmissable Significance of Visual Praise

Back in those undergrad years, a common refrain among the author's classmates were the sheer pointlessness of paying such high prices for education.  In that process, the college diploma, or as everyone called it, "a piece of paper bought with four years of life and tens of thousands of dollars," was consistently butt of jokes.  Even to this day, the author's diploma sits inside a folder in his cabinet, occasionally brought out to serve as paperwork for visa, grad school, or job applications, but never framed or hung on the wall, like it was intended to be upon its creation and reception.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Constant Rains and Missing Umbrellas

It is a common sight among all tropical countries with distinct rain seasons.  When the monsoon is in town, a moment of completely unhindered sunshine is followed by draining downpour, with consistent, rapidly falling water drops better than anything created with the finest of man-made shower heads.  Streets turn into rivers after minutes, and visibility becomes no more than a curtain of watery white.  People quickly run under the nearest roofs, into their houses, deserting the busy streets of the central market, that, moments ago, was bustling with street-side vendors and pedestrians.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Humans Visiting Animals vs Animals Visiting Humans

When the author was growing up as a high school student in San Diego, one of his favorite family vacation spots was the city's fame Wild Animal Park.  It is a place of massive enclosures, simulating the wild African savanna in a highly accessible way.  Around bushes where lions and tigers chase (introduced) antelopes and deer are human spectators being carried in neat little trains, equipped with loudspeakers that constantly inform passengers of the animals and sights of a faraway land with little human habitation.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Alibaba's Investment in Lazada: an Ex-Employee's Perspective

The biggest news out of the tech world this morning was Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba's one-billion USD investment in Lazada, from which the author made his exit about ten months ago.  The deal saw both Rocket Internet, Lazada's original incubator, as well as Tesco, the British supermarket chain, cashing out half of their shares, in the process giving Alibaba almost complete control over the overall operations and future directions of what meant be termed Southeast Asia's largest ecommerce platform at the moment.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Prevalence and Danger of Vigilante Justice in Rural Africa

In all non-urban areas in the world, police enforcement tends to be sparse.  Farming communities, separated by acres of fields, evidently cannot be conducive to constant patrolling presence of uniformed officers.  In fact, police presence can be so distant that when crimes and disputes occur, reporting to the police may not even bring officers to the scenes of conflict in time for fruitful resolution.  In the case of crimes by stealth, it is highly likely that by the time the police can assess the situation, neither the victim nor the victimizer will be there for questioning.

Friday, April 1, 2016

When Sound Financial Planning Becomes a Cultural Taboo

Out in the village of rural Tanzania, "let me find some money to do X" is one of the most common phrases heard when conducting business transactions.  Widely used among people who obviously do not have any money with them or at disposal in personal possession, it simultaneously denotes a desire to spend money to get what is wanted and a determination to find the means of getting the needed money through completely flexible yet currently unknown ways.  As unsatisfactory as the phrases sounds, most of the time, sooner or later, the money is actually somehow "found."