Wednesday, August 31, 2016

At What Point Does One Become Too Old for Birthday Celebrations?

The optimist will righteously cry out "never!" but the reality is, birthday celebration for a grown adult just do not have the magic feel that a 5-year-old would feel for his or hers.  The kid, looking forward to the imaginary greatness of adulthood, cannot wait for celebration of being one year closer to that goal.  But during past years of rather low-key birthday celebrations, the author never failed to wonder whether that purportedly "goal" was achieved, and by extension, whether it was worth getting excited about in the first place in his earlier years.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Aid as the Catalyst for Reduced Trust in Governmental Institutions

A recent article on the Economist magazine makes a very direct (if rather obvious, on the second thought) argument that try to pinpoint why underdeveloped states do not attract resources for development.  The article states "lack of trust," particularly on societal institutions, as the root cause of economic failures.  Specifically, in underdeveloped states, there is complete lack of popular confidence that bureaucracies will function as they are created for, laws will be enforced as written, and any written agreement will be honored as stipulated in their terms.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The French Burqa Ban and Death of Multicultural Europe

Popular backlash in Europe against Islam is nothing new.  Since anti-Muslim satire led to vengeful violence at the Charlie Hebdo office in France a year and a half ago, confrontation between Muslim minorities and non-Muslim majority populations in Europe have only seen continued upward trajectory.  Cultural difference, manifested in apparent ways and interpreted in rather exaggerated and threatening fashion, trigger new rounds of popular discontent with increased Muslim presence, just as civil war in Syria continue to push more Muslims into the continent.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Does Foreigners' Fixation with Efficiency Weaken Legal Institutions in Developing Countries?

The author's friend sent him a package across the world that happened to arrive at the Iringa post office today.  The post office staff was kind enough to send the author a text message to notify him of the arrival.  But when the author showed up to the post office this morning to pick up the parcel, he was shown the box (which appears to have arrived in one piece and without much external visual damage) but was told that he cannot take the box home just yet.  "Please come back maybe sometime between next Monday and Friday.  We need to send the package over to the Revenue Authority for examination first," the postal staff said.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

An Olympics of Greater Equality?

On the previous post, the author already mentioned that the Olympics is fundamentally a game for richer countries.  Smaller countries with little resources to provide right training facilities cannot expect to win at the international level no matter how much raw talents are found in their citizenry.  On this note, this year's Rio Olympics so far does not look too different from others, with the usual major sporting powers (US, China, Japan, Australia, Russia) gobbling up a significant portion of medals on offer so far.  The individual athletes of individual events remain dominant due to availability of systematic training to succeed.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

What Does the Olympics Mean for Rural Africa?

On his brief tour of Isimila Stone Age Site outside Iringa town, the author got in a brief conversation with his mandatory tour guide on the Olympics.  "So, have you watched the Olympics, it just started today," the author casually quipped.  The nonchalant question quickly brought excitement to the otherwise professional guide who, before this, had kept the conversation strictly focused on the history of the area, reputedly one of the earliest residences of modern man's direct ancestor, homo erectus.  "Yes, yes, I am going to watch the opening ceremony after work today!"  The guide cannot hide his enthusiasm.