Water to wine in Africa – no miracle

I caught the tail end of a piece on NPR about a place in Africa with a dilemma that brings up some interesting points about the growing pains of development. I can’t remember the program I heard it on and I can’t remember the place. So, if anybody knows about this shoot me a link.

Anyhow, the mayor of this city is in a real bad situation. His city is incredibly poor and the wine industry is one of the few industries in town. One problem – the area has an extreme water shortage. His people are going thirsty while most of the water is being used to make wine.

In this city, converting water to wine isn’t a miracle; it’s a curse.

The mayor hopes that…

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Bill Maher on Cheap Chinese Crap

From the “New Rules” portion of his show on 8/24/07:

“If you (consumer) demand products that don’t cost anything, people will make them out of poison, mud, and shit.”

“Because in China their kids don’t play with the toys, they’re the ones in the factory making them.”

“I (impersonating American consumer) don’t have time to ponder whether these twelve-dollar jeans are a product of child labor. I just know that I’m an American on a budget and our lifestyle is a blessed one and I want to look nice standing in line for an iPhone.”

“Let’s buy toys from a communist police state, you know they’ll put in a little extra love.”

You can watch the entire segment or if you want to skip right to the bits on China skip to 3:20.

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The exploitation has begun

Money is actually starting to come in from writing and talking about the quest. Soon, I’ll have earned back half the expense of the trip, which is, you know, a good thing. But…an argument can be made that when the checks start rolling in the exploitation begins.

“Why don’t you leave her alone?” said my translator in Bangladesh, after I asked her to contact one of the garment workers for me again. “What does Arifa get out of this? You write a story and get paid, but what about her?”

I address this issue in a section of my book proposal titled, WHY I’M WRITING THIS BOOK:

I hope this book reaches the right reader with the right means, and the right ideas, so that he or she may…

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We're all Children of the Sun

I’m sure y’all are mourning the loss of Billy Thorpe.

Who’s Billy Thorpe, you ask? The Blasphemy!

BT gave life to the pan-ultimate rock opera/ballad/trippy tune of all-time, ever, in the history of rock ‘n’ roll – Children of the Sun. It’s my favorite song. I’ve got an entire in-car dance routine to it. In fact, I once got pulled over by a cop while performing it. He thought I was drunk. I told him I was rockin’ and he let me off with a warning.

Such is the power of Children of the Sun

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Bono on America’s efforts to help developing nations: “It’s the crumbs off our tables that we offer these countries.”

John Stossell (the gimme a break guy) on America’s efforts to help developing nations:

“…the U.S. government gave out $20 billion last year, much more than other countries give, but that’s only because we are so stupendously wealthy. If you calculate foreign aid as a percentage of our wealth, the United States gives much less than others.”

BUT…We, the people, make up for the government’s stinginess. Says Stossell:

“Charity almost always does it better.

America is a uniquely charitable country. So when you hear that “Americans are cheap,” just remember: We gave $260 billion in charity last year. That’s almost $900 for every man, woman, and child…Americans give more than the citizens of any other…

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Flip flops hazardous to health


This video from ABC News bemoans the dangers and health risks of the flip flop. According to the report, people like me with flat feet can do long term damage.

A pair of TEVAS is featured in the piece. One would have to think that an angry Pat would be giving the producers a call any time now. Poor producers….

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Bangladesh: Floods and Riots

Flooding in Bangladesh

There is a lot happening in Bangladesh right now. The country floods every year, but this year is worse than most. My buddy Dalton who lives in Dhaka has posted pictures from the city on his blog Dalton’s World. People are up to their armpits in water. And with water comes diarrhea and snakes.

And there have been riots at Dhaka University. Students are protesting against the military-backed caretaker government, which has been in place since the fall of 2006. The consensus in Dhaka when I was there was that I couldn’t have come at a safer time. Demonstrations and public gatherings were banned and police were on nearly every corner. I felt…

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Only 3 stances on garment dilemma?

I found this 2005 story on the Huffington Post during a recent Google session. Bob Burnett visited a factory that makes LEVI’S for the article and says there are only three ethical positions to take on the matter. The weird thing is that after I’ve committed over 4-months of my life to meeting garment workers and visiting their homes and factories, none of these “ethical positions” is my position.

What is my position?

I’m still thinking about that, but it’s not any one of them stated below. The dilemma isn’t that simple. If I was made the World Czar of Garment Ethics, I would encourage organizations to work with the factories to show them that, in a sense, a happy worker is a productive worker. …

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