Sunday, July 31, 2011

Somalia And Other Hells On Earth

Here we go again: another disaster, another round of appeals, campaigns, fund raising events, newspapers and TV showing pictures of dazed mothers holding emaciated babies with dying eyes and bloated bellies.

Somalia is starving, yet again. It's the Somalis' turn, after the Haitians, the Ethiopians, etc.. The reasons for any human disaster are common and well known:

. Mother Nature: drought and/or other climatic catastrophies. No rain for months or too much rain, causing flood, mudslide; earthquakes; volcano eruptions, etc..
. Man-made disasters: overpopulation; infrastructure failures; armed conflicts, etc..

In the first case, most people are sympathetic and are quite willing to give money, food, clothes, etc.. out of solidarity and compassion. In the second case, however, there is less sympathy, especially if they have been hearing the same appeals for charity over and over again. Compassion fatigue and desillusion over misuses of donations set in. Cynicism is unavoidable. Here are some answers (in parentheses) to frequently asked questions about the Somalia tragedy:

. The drought was foreseen, why wasn't anything done to prevent the hardship? (There is presently no functional government in Somalia).
. Local rebel forces are preventing humanitarian aid to reach the starving populations, so why help at all? (Some forms of help can still reach them, such as medical services provided by Medecins sans frontières. Some areas are not controlled by the conflicting armed groups and refugees there can be assisted).
. Why do they keep having children if they cannot feed them? (Most of the population are illiterate and uneducated. There is no functional central government. Women have no say in the mostly muslim population: they have no control over their reproductive functions and no access to contraceptives).
. Why don't the other oil rich muslim countries help the Somalis? Why is it always up to the Western countries? (Other muslim countries do send help. The Red Crescent is cooperating and coordinationg their assistance with the UN and/or other international non-governmental organizations. But the neighbouring muslim countries are looking at the situation in Somalia as a political problem, and not so much as a humanitarian problem).

There are of course many more reasons one can think of to explain the origins of the suffering of the Somali population*. Somalia has the misfortune of not having oil under its soil, so it doesn't present much interest to you-know-which-country**. Same fate as Tibet, I guess. For us, simple citizens of the world, however, the main question would be: Should we help? and the answer is: Of course, we have to help. If you see another human being starving, or even any sentient being starving or suffering, wouldn't your first instinct be to help?

As for me, I am sending my donations to organizations that I trust, i.e. Unicef ( and Médecins sans frontières/Doctors without Borders ( You may have your own favorite charities, so go ahead and donate to them. DONATE!!!! NOW!!!

* If you want to know more about the history of the Somalian plight, this is one of many sites explaining how Somalia used to be a prosperous food-exporting country:

** Actually, there could be oil waiting to be stolen. According to Wikipedia: "Due to its proximity to the oil-rich Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the nation is also believed to contain substantial unexploited reserves of oil. A survey of Northeast Africa by the World Bank and U.N. ranked Somalia second only to Sudan as the top prospective producer. American, Australian and Chinese oil companies, in particular, are excited about the prospect of finding petroleum and other natural resources in the country. An oil group listed in Sydney, Range Resources, anticipates that the Puntland province in the north has the potential to produce 5 billion barrels (790×10^6 m3) to 10 billion barrels (1.6×10^9 m3) of oil. As a result of these developments, the Somali Petroleum Company was created by the federal government."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Obama meets HH The Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama to Obama: "The Nobel Committee sent me. They want their Peace Prize back."

(from The Crawdad Hole

Thursday, July 14, 2011

14 Juillet!!!

À mes cousins de Paris et à mes amis français!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Next Project

Confession time: I love durians. Love, love, love. Today's edition of the Washington Post has an article about Chang Teik Seng, aka Durian Seng, and his durian orchard in Penang ( Mr. Chang has converted his home into a "durian paradise, with a back patio, a pool and two rentable bungalows looking out onto the verdant valley below".

So here's my next project. The durian season in South East Asia is July and August. I will go to Durian Seng's orchard during that period and stay there for a week to try all the varieties of durians unique to the island, "such as Ang Bak, Red Prawn, Hor Lor and D-11, with flesh color ranging from the most common yellow to white, orange and red", living only on satays and durians until I die of a sugar overdose. But what a glorious death it would be!

P.S. "To eat the durian, take out the pods of fruit. Form your lips into an “O” shape and suck on a durian pod, taking in the first wave of fragrance. Once the membrane breaks and the pulp comes out, a second, stronger wave of fragrance emerges. When you swallow, you’ll smell as well as taste the third helping of bittersweet fragrance. Good durian should leave an aroma in your mouth for several minutes after you have eaten the fruit." And if there's any left (doubtful, but who knows), one can also make mooncakes with durian filling.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hi There Kitty!

I have a weakness for Hello Kitty. If you don't like kawaii, skip this post.

(From: Geekologie

One day, I have to show you my Hello Kitty shoes.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Crazy Cat Girl with Music

You remember the Crazy Cat Girl, right? The one with the baby voice, who cries just thinking about cats? While making a video for a dating site?

Anyway, the Autotunes People decided to cast their magic on her video and here's the result. Me like.

Songify your life!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

ID in Singapore

Son B-Boy just got back from his tour in Singapore with Cirque Eloize. Here are two video clips from the show called "ID".

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Power Of Love

Have you noticed...?

Prince Albert of Monaco, 53

Prince William, 28

Conclusion: Being a Prince makes you lose your hair.

But not to worry, there are plenty of zillionnaires who found true love with beautiful women who care not one whit about how their men look. Such is the power of love! Examples abound.

Friday, July 01, 2011