Blog Day 2005

5 bloggers to recommend to you...

Eric Umansky - He writes todays papers for slate, some observations that he makes on how american papers cover the news that dont make it into TP are put on his blog. He has a very keen eye for details (included or missed) and also has great online resources if you are interested in really understanding stuff that is going on

Billmon- Witty! and absolutely thorough. A wizard with humor and detail. His series on the state world economy was definitely interesting if abit complex - The chicken and the egg series(had to read some passages twice). He has a knack for history too. Brilliant.

Koranteng Toli - (via KenyaPundit) Techy, literary, African, with a musical bent. He has other categories that you can check out on his blog. Check out his post on strange bedfellows. Its abit long, It helps if you print it out...You probably wont put it down. Eye opening.

Timbuktu chronicles - (via Bankelele)Emeka okafor (no, not the basketball player)covers the ideas and solutions that will catapult Africa into a self reliant continent or let me put it this way....the ideas that will continue the African renaissance.

Andrews Ghetto Blog. Its hilarious.

Piga Ndebe for BlogGodPapa , Mawazo na Mawaidha and also Nchi Yetu Daily. (just kinda felt like making some noise.) Piga Ndebe for all KBW bloggers too, the entertainment and thought you guys bring to the blogosphere is amazing!


Nick Sagan's Edenborn

Picked up the book Edenborn by Nick Sagan, he is the son of Carl Sagan and interplanetary artist Linda Salzman Sagan. Carl Sagan was the writer of cosmos, Broca's Brain,Contact (later adapted into a movie starring Jodie foster), etc.
The book is not too bad. I felt like it could have used more action, though perhaps the lack of it gave the author a chance to really flesh out the characters. I have not read his first book Idlewind, i think this book builds on it. There are a couple of references to idlewind though not so essential to reading edenborn. His style is definitely unique, what with a joke wrung out of Thomas Edison's quote "I have not failed, i've just found ten thousand ways that wont work".(the joke wont make sense if i pluck it out of the story)
The character pandora is an intriguing tech savvy woman who is in love with a 'bad boy'. I liked her character the most, though i found myself jotting down afew lines by the character haji who is a wise sufi who says "enlightenment must come little by little otherwise it would overwhelm". Then there is penny who is coco in a dark but hilarious kind of way, its like she was on a permanent scheming rant.
You might need to be a bit patient for the most part with this book, the pace quickens as it nears the end and you get the feeling that there is another book in the horizon. I am leary of comparing it to Orson Scott Card's Ender novels, though if you like Ender, you might enjoy this...Edenborn has a mystical quality to it and some very interesting humour. (well at least to me..i find a reference to Operation love machine kinda hilarious.)
For a quick layout of the plot from idlewind click here

**You have got to read bankelele's nightmare if its one thing you do today.


which fosters friend would you adopt?

Fosters Home for imaginary friends: The episode 'Dinner is Swerved' is preety funny. Looking forward to when they release the shows on DVD. Speaking of dvd's the Family guy is worth it. Absolutely worth it.
Oh i think i will adopt coco. Why? Because i understand her!


Taarab on Afropop

Check the times on their site.

Have a great weekend... will be away for a couple of days ;E]



The rest of the story - nice coverage by soj.


Pat Robertson nutter of the year

Heard about this early in the morning on npr, and was just flabbergasted. Basically Pat Robertson, the guy from 700 club called for the assasination of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.
On NPR, they included some his earlier controversial (read shenzi) remarks. The one i laughed about was about feminism. ati
"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians. "
(Fundraising letter, 1992)
more quotes here.
The link above to Media matters has the video.

And check out jjray's odds and ends section, rotfl! (If you've been reading this blog since i started you already know jjray and Irene and what a joy it is to have them weigh in on issues be it law, kenya & US etc...I always check their blog, hop over and see why.)


Rural electrification - solar

Q: Is solar energy being considered by the government of Kenya as part of the solution to the lack of electrity (particulary in rural areas) in Kenya?
A: It does not appear so.

If you see indications to the contrary please let me know. (I looked around, maybe not hard enough?)
Check out the energy ministry website. They need to put more infomation online, especially regarding the energy policy and the Rural Electrification Programme.

As per this 1999 report on Kenya's PV Market by Moses Agumba and Bernard Osawa of UNDP,
"PV has not been considered for rural electrification, as it does not qualify under the Least Cost Extension Programmes(LCEP). This is a method used by the government to decide on which power generation options to use."

Dunno what the LCEP program is, was or if it is currently still being used to determine power generation options. Whatever initiatives to solve the energy problem will have to come from the private sector, and wananchi as is most often the case.

**Price of solagen Big Kit Solar system Ksh82,950/ US$1095.10(based on 75.75 as exchange rate); not having to pay a monthly bill, i presume that feeling would be priceless.
Annoyance:Spam, i had to close the comments section to anon and blogless commenters.

Mango splitter

Via the NY Times Magazine. It looks like a nifty gadget, havent tried it yet. I know some of you like mangoes, especially the ones from coast, with alittle chilli powder sprinkled on it and a spritz of lime.

The question of how to slice a mango was posed here...(Mshairi's meme to MJY), twas intresting!


The Blues - Feel like going home

I have a lump in my throat and i will just confess right now that i cried, in awe? i still dont know, but i cried. [Disclaimer: i cry in 99% of movies]. That is not the reason for this entry though. I borrowed the film 'Feel Like Going Home' from the library and just finished watching it awhile ago. I enjoy listening to blues, though i would not consider myself an avid fan who knows much about it other than listening to it on public radio or attending a concert or two.

The film is about the origins and the history of the blues. From the juke joints of the mississipi delta to the Niger River in Mali. Martin Scorcese produced it, he does some narrating in several bits but the main person who anchors this amazing film is Corey Harris. Its almost like Scorcese knew that the best person through which this story should be explored is Harris, he stepped away and let Harris go on this wonderful journey of discovery. Many things struck me in this film. Listening and watching Son House, could make you emotional, yet impart strength to your spirit. Just hearing him speak, his voice is the blues. The flute (cane)playing of Otha Turner was beautiful, better yet, his words, actually the stories and words of all the people corey harris spoke to were deep. Real deep.
In the days of slavery in America, the [african]drum was banned, yet later the use of snare drum in the mississipi featured, as corey harris put it..interwoven polyrythms, which are very common in african music. Harris poignantly observed that Africa was always just a heartbeat away.

If you listen to the radio show the world by PRI the tune for the geo quiz by Ali Farka Toure opens Corey Harris's segment in Mali. He speaks with Salif Keita, whose music is moving, though i cant understand a single word. I must admit that this is the section i found just incredibly special.
You know how when people come to visit in Africa and the elders sit on chairs under a tree to talk? Corey Harris was talking with Toumani Diabate at his compound, with Diabate telling him of his history,he hails from 71 generations of griots in mali. They also talked about how they felt about slavery. Harris met and played with Habib Koite, then with Ali Farka Toure, who apparently was forbidden by his family to be an artist (because he was considered a nobleman). I tell you this film is interesting. As Harris and Ali Farka Toure play a version of John Lee Hooker's song under a tree on an island off the niger river, you can sense the stillness and camaraderie. Scorsese noted Harris's words. "To know yourself, you have to know the past".
Two quotes from Ali Farka Toure, "The culture is here, it is the heart of African tradition. We have all the roots of the history, the legends, the biography and the science and the African technology."
"I will tell you this, there are no black Americans. There are blacks in America, no black americans exist. The blacks left with their culture and they kept it. But the biography, the ethnicity, the legends they did lose. Still, their music is African. Whether in the US or in Mali i think that there are only cities and distances separating us, but our souls, our spirits are the same[snip]. I feel sorry, "why?" because they are people who should be united."
one more quote from alan Lomax
" When the whole world is bored with automated mass distributed video music our descendants will despise us for throwing away the best of our culture."
Its a wonderful film. Wouldnt it be cool if PBS teamed up with KTN or Citizen/Royal Media to show films such as these?


Of Books, chance & curiosity

I have this weird rule, that if i read/hear/come across something that i make a mental note of or become curious about, then i'd probably check it out. If i hear the same thing a second time and it still evokes something in my mind, well that's when i think Yeah, i need to check that out; then probably procrastinate it and keep going on with 'life' as usual...Now if i hear it a third time and more often than not/especially in an entirely different context, then its finally settled. I definitely have to check it out.
Strike 1: A good article in the tech review August edition, check it out here. Its about the Bhutanese concept of GNH(Gross National Happiness) as a measure of well the country is doing as opposed to GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Strike 2: (2 weeks later) On my way home, NPR radio, Paul Rosenzweig was talking about how Bhutan tackles immigration from India by having a guest worker program. Listen to it here.
Strike 3. Global voices highlighted sepia mutiny, and this picture.

Ok..that's it then, perhaps i shall start here. then head back to sepia mutiny.

Sometimes, i come across books randomly, other titles persist in the back of your mind for months, even years...till one day you say..thats it! I am getting the book today. One of those persistent books is Charles Mackay's Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds.
A snippet from the preface
"In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first. We see one nation suddenly seized, from its highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire of military glory; another as suddenly becoming crazed upon a religious scruple; and neither of them recovering its senses until it has shed rivers of blood and sowed a harvest of groans and tears, to be reaped by its posterity."

Song: Signs (2004) Album : Signs Artist: Bushman
Q:Have you ever felt that some books choose you?


RIP Peter Jennings

When watching the special tribute on ABC tonight i was struck by the fact that i could remember watching some of the pieces highlighted in the tribute. I perhaps did not fully appreciate the importance of what Peter Jennings did at the time, and why i chose to watch World News tonight as opposed to the NBC show. I would always switch back to ABC after checking out NBC for a sec. The tribute was heartfelt and i learnt more about the man and his contribution to the world. He has definitely left a void in the news world. Condolences to his family, friends and those who were close to him.


Barnacles, typhoons and jupiters

Memories of Asterix and Obelix, also Tin Tin spurred by the above post by milonare ...
Then pras reminded me of captain Haddock...
"Billions of billious blue blistering barnacles!"
"Ten thousand thundering typhoons!"

and did he also say "Jumping jupiters!?" NG hilariously deployed that on this post. Who said that ama is that an NG original?
please post more of those if you remember...

paging Memoire..hello?

Ms A trying to impress Mr. B : " I am a speed reader!"
Mr B. Clearly puzzled: "What!? You on crack or something?"

Word of the Day: Entreprenegro.


AU wants veto power in UN security council

I do realise that i have been away for awhile, so [waving] hello there!

When i saw the above story by David Mugonyi, i was just nodding...hard.
Short Excerpt.
Mr Mwakwere said as currently constituted, the Security Council was undemocratic, since only five members — America, Britain, France, Russia and China — exercised the veto power for their own agendas.
African leaders, he said, resolved that since a third of UN members were African countries, it was time the continent was involved in decisions that affected it.
Said Mr Mwakwere: "We decided that the continent have a say at the same level as other members because it is part and parcel of the world."
The leaders, he added, considered the veto power undemocratic and would prefer it removed altogether. He, however, said since that was not forthcoming, Africa should have the slots.
The two seats, if granted, would be occupied on rotation basis — with southern, western, northern, eastern and central African countries occupying them in turns.

I am hoping it works out, it only seems fair eh?

**I second white African's sentiments on the upcoming movie 'The constant Gardener' by John le carre. Incidentally Bankelele recommended the book to me many moons ago, i liked the book, the prologue was disturbing...Le Carre noted that what he wrote couldnt even come close to the real situation of what was going on in Nairobi with research on the poor. [if my memory serves me correctly..its been a minute but i think that was the gist of it]

**Song of the Day: Earth Crisis (1984) by Steel Pulse.
- damage of the environment seen by astronauts aboard the Discovery shuttle. link.