China in Ethiopia, a stepping stone into Africa

There were plenty of hotels — even new ones — had once been grand but had declined due to lack of maintenance.

Ethiopia and China shake hands Source: CNN, 2015

My good and brilliant friend Catbird, who I’ve known for a long time and has no political ax to grind, wrote this to me in March 2018. I thought it should have a wider audience, so I’m posting here with her permission.

When I spent six weeks traveling in Ethiopia in late 2016, it looked like China was using the country as a stepping stone into Africa. They’d built important trade roads (Addis Ababa to Djibouti and Kenya), a light-rail system in Addis that’s quite heavily used, and a new railroad to Djibouti, which, although it’s not actually in Ethiopia, is Ethiopia’s port after it and Eritrea separated and Asmara was no longer available.

My impression was that the Ethiopian government had been blinded, or maybe just seduced, by money from China. There were also lots of factories with their little company towns that looked more like prisons with their walls, razor wire and distance from the highway. This and other foreign investment has happened much to the consternation of the populace: every once in a while there’s an uprising with riots, buses (and sometimes trucks) turned over and set afire and so on. I saw that, too. If my trip had been for government business, I wouldn’t have been allowed to go.

However, this gifts/flattery strategy may not work out in the end. I observed that Ethiopia as a whole basically doesn’t do maintenance, which, when it comes to infrastructure, will eventually lead to huge inefficiencies. There were plenty of hotels — even new ones — had once been grand but had declined due to lack of maintenance. I also saw jaw-dropping soil erosion in rural areas.

A burned-out bus from the 2016 unrest in Ethiopia

Apparently the government believes that it owns all the land and can take it at any time. My guides told me it was that, for instance, if you improved your land, the government could just kick you off of it at any time, so there was no point in improving anything.

IMHO, this is an unfortunate artifact of communism. That regime (the Derg) murdered hundreds of thousands of people.

I also learned that Ethiopians don’t think much of the Chinese, and say things like “those people will eat anything—even scorpions!” because they eat pork. Muslims don’t eat it because the Koran forbids it, and Christians believe pigs are just unclean.

I was particularly interested in this after reading that the American ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley wants to cut aid to poor countries who challenge the U.S. It’s as though the regime thinks the United States is the only game in town, which it is not.

April rambling #2: Smartest place on earth

A World Awash in Purple

Librarian.gang

The 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners, with links to many of the written pieces!

The Vlogbrothers — John and Hank Green — summarize the tax proposals of the folks who want to be your next President.

John Green: Here’s to civil discourse and David Kalish: Comparing Facebook to a pee-soaked lamp post.

Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy.

Mississippi Interracial Couple Evicted For Being In An Interracial Marriage. In 2016.

Michigan mechanic refuses to serve people from the ‘ghetto’ — but insists he’s not racist – he was a bit coarser than that. “But Jim S. insists he’s not racist — which is exactly what racists usually say. ‘Race has nothing to do with this, let me clarify,’ Jim S. told Mic. ‘What we’re trying to avoid is people who number one can’t afford service.'” In 2016.

Michael Rivest: Thoughts on White Privilege and Colorblindness.

Why You Should Care about Felon Voting Rights.

Jeff Sharlet: Airbnb’s Paris “Open”, during the Paris attacks.

This is what happens when you bury a mass murderer in a small town.

John Oliver: Credit reports and Lead poisoning and Hollywood Whitewashing.

1939 news clipping re: Jack Benny’s “valet”, Rochester.

New York Times: How to Explain Mansplaining.

“Leftover women”, those unmarried by 25, in China.

Greg’s daughter Mia turns 13.

Dustbury: The years take their toll on a body.

Neuroscientists Can Identify You by Your ‘Brainprint’ with 100% Accuracy, and related story.

Albany, New York: Smartest place on earth? Probably.

16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia.

Jaquandor has been posting poetry all month, of many varieties.

How to Insult Like Shakespeare.

Now I Know: How Brazil Got to the 1932 Olympics (Mostly) and “We Won’t Give Up Until You Bleed” and A Weighty Issue (about clipboards!)

There’s a Scientific Reason Why Indian Food Is So Delicious.

Funnies

TWC Question Time #33: Part Two– Killing the King.

These Millennials!

Superman: tax evader.

NewYorker.newspaper

BBC have broadcast TWICE as many obituaries in 2016 compared to last year at this point.

The Prince section

“Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?
“Do I believe in god, do I believe in me?”
“Controversy” – Prince

A World Awash in Purple.

Arthur addresses how the Internet Age didn’t create social mourning.

Prince on Arsenio Hall’s show.

Prince & Tamar Davis(Good Morning America 2006)/a>, which I watched in real time.

Former Warner Bros. CEO Mo Ostin Recalls His Long Relationship: ‘He Was a Fearless Artist’.

Weekly Sift.

Prince refused to be a commodity and took a protective stance on music copyrights.

Paul Westerberg: ‘I Can’t Think of Anyone Better’.

Is the water warm enough? Cartoonist Hazel Newlevant discusses Wendy & Lisa’s contribution to Prince’s legacy.

Times When He Showed Us His Great Sense of Humor.

Do It All Night: The Story of Prince ‘s Dirty Mind. An in-depth look back on the 1982 album that allowed Prince to cross over as a rock’n’roll star.

From Bat Dance to his Alter Ego comic.

A guy on Facebook noted: “‪‎Prince‬ was a huge fan of Bonnie Raitt and when he covered I Can’t Make You Love Me for his Emancipation album (1996), in the liner notes, he wrote: bonnieisanamericantreasure. When Bonnie was between labels, before signing to Capitol, Prince wanted her to sign with Paisley Park. They worked together a bit to see where it would go, but then he had to go to Europe to film Under The Cherry Moon. In the meantime, the stars aligned with Bonnie, Don Was and Capitol Records. What followed was Bonnie’s breakthrough success with ‘Nick Of Time’. Whatever they did together remains in Prince’s vaults.”

More music!

Lonnie Mack, RIP.

Amy Biancolli: Music to vote by.

Coverville 1122: Cover Stories for Roy Orbison and Paul Carrack. Roy would have been 80.

Harry Hipster Gibson – Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphy’s Ovaltine (1944).

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (1967 Broadway Soundtrack).

Lawrence Welk Meets Velvet Underground.

The Chinese lesson

It was interesting that, along with their titles, I was given the delegates’ dates of birth.

Delegation at NYS SBDC, March 18, 2013

A couple of months back, I was asked to speak to a Chinese delegation from Shenzhen province about these aspects in the United States: “statistics system in government organizations (structure, operation, management, what they do, etc.)” and the “government division responsible for business registration (when the division established, its history, etc.)” and “a brief overview of the business registration file or database establishment (industry categories, quantity, the geographical distribution of industries, employees, etc.)”

I dutifully prepared some remarks. Some of the questions were lost in translation, I feared. Others were quite overlapping. On the other hand, I DID discover that the NYS Department of State, which registers corporations in the state, was established shortly after the Declaration of Independence.

It was interesting that, along with their titles, I was given the delegates’ dates of birth, which ran from 1958 to 1975

Do you know what was THE most popular thing I talked about? It was after the session was ostensibly over, and they were talking about their itinerary, going to New York City. It was going to be 70F, but they didn’t know what that meant in Celsius. I started feverishly writing two columns by hand on a board in the room:
F/C
32/0
41/5
50/10
59/15
68/20
77/25
86/30
They were SO excited by this information that they started taking pictures of it.

Later, they gave me this lovely scarf in appreciation for my assistance.

Speaking of international, I went to an import/export workshop recently, and the presenter indicated that most products needed to ship in metric units, such as milliliters and kilograms. The instructor said, rhetorically, “I mean, who else besides the United States even USES our system of weights and measures?” I said, with assurance, “Liberia and Burma.” I was remembering the map from this blog post from a little less than three years ago.

Gee, even I learn something from my blog posts, occasionally.

 

Past perfect: Gore Vidal, Mike Doonesbury and the Olympics

Once upon a time, I was an avid Olympic watcher, but all the dustups this year has vaguely soured me on it all.

 

I haven’t been reading the comic strip Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau as regularly as I once did, 40, 25, even 10 years ago. I own three hefty early volumes of collected strips which I used to reread frequently. However, I’ve never cottoned to it appearing on the op-ed page of my local newspaper. So I managed to miss the great announcement in Sunday’s paper, by the nominal lead character, Michael Doonesbury, that he was handing over the reins of his daughter Alex (July 29); immediately, Alex has talked about the changes she’ll be making in the strip. The focus of the series has been more on her and her new husband Leo – check out the wedding sequence, from June 11 to 23 – than the previous generation for a couple of years now. I should note that I think the daily strips are greatly enhanced by color, and I should just remember to read it online, even if it’s a day later.

When I heard that writer Gore Vidal had died, I flashed back, not to anything he wrote, though I’m sure I read some of his essays. Rather, I remember these series of vigorous debates between him, presumably on the left politically, and William F. Buckley on the right, e.g., doing commentary at the 1968 Democratic convention. These discussions, often on the Dick Cavett Show, which aired against The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and therefore under-watched, were almost always lively, occasionally nasty affairs, but amazingly entertaining television. Go to YouTube and search for Gore Vidal William Buckley.

Once upon a time, I was an avid Olympic watcher, but all the dustups this year have vaguely soured me on it all. There’s whatever Mitt Romney said about preparedness, which was similar to what the British media had said; it’s DIFFERENT when THEY say it, rather than a foreigner on their soil pronouncing it. At least, the US opening ceremony garb that was Made in China got Democrats and Republicans to agree on something. NBC’s tape-delay, and their handling of those who don’t keep in line, not to mention its somewhat jingoistic coverage, starting with the opening ceremony coverage, was annoying; How an American Can Stream the BBC’s Official Olympics Coverage and Overcome #NBCFail. Note also the controversies once the competition actually began, which happen regularly, but seem somehow magnified by so much instant media.

I HAVE caught random events- England v Canada women’s basketball when I was at the barbershop; a couple of swimming events – but I haven’t sat down with the intention of watching.

Second picture from @tompsk.

April Rambling: Ads about Rape, and Media

“To be able to catch genius when it’s just beginning, just starting out; when it’s in its embryonic form, or in its very nest. It’s an unforgettable experience.”

In response to her strong poem, Reflector Babe, Amy at Sharp Little Pencil received a link from Anna at HyperCRYPTIcal. It is to a UK ad considered the most shocking ad ever? Rape campaign aimed at teens to be shown. It’s sexually explicit (no ‘bits’ are shown), but it is powerful. This could not air in the US, I’m fairly certain, but the problem it addresses is very much an issue here.

What the New Sgt Pepper Cover Tells Us About Modern Britain.

And speaking of the UK, How news coverage evolves. Imagine how the Guardian “might cover the story of the three little pigs in print and online. Follow the story from the paper’s front-page headline, through a social media discussion, and finally to an unexpected conclusion.”

Goldie Hawn recalls an unpleasant encounter with a famous cartoonist.

Sex’s first revolution. The author of “The Origins of Sex” explains how the ’60s – the 1760s – changed our views of lust, adultery, and homosexuality

“ALEC is accustomed to hiding its agenda and its legislation behind closed doors. At secretive conferences and over e-mail chains the public never sees, the organization allows its corporate donors to manufacture bills and then send them to be passed in state legislatures without the public ever knowing about their origin. But these ALEC staffers can’t hide who they are, and what they do for an organization that harms almost every area of American life.” And now, corporate America is jumping off the ALEC ship, and ALEC Retreats, Sort Of, though its vision of pre-empting EPA coal ash regulations passed the House this month.

For China’s driving test, be ready for almost anything: “There are questions on the proper way to carry an injured person in a coma (sideways, head down), the best way to stanch the bleeding from a major artery, and how to put out a passenger on fire (hint: do not throw sand on the victim).”

SamuraiFrog’s 30 Favorite John Williams Pieces (and Then Some).

50 minutes of songwriter-math teacher Tom Lehrer doing a live show in Copenhagen in 1968. Includes that smash hit Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

Thought the Monkees were a faux band? Wait until you read about Gary Lewis & the Playboys. I was always a sucker for the song Jill, for no discernible reason.

Jaquandor launched yet another series, this one called the ‘A to Z Challenge’ and he decided to “give it a Fantasy and Science Fiction turn,” as is his wont. (I love the word ‘wont’.) So each entry in this series will take its inspiration from something or someone from F&SF, that starts with the respective letter of the day.

Original pitch-reel for the Muppet Show is delightfully bonkers. Plus, the much more recent Kermit’s Party.

To be able to catch genius when it’s just beginning, just starting out; when it’s in its embryonic form, or in its very nest. It’s an unforgettable experience. BTW, the author in question has seen this piece.

Pop culture’s Rosetta Stone. A company known for its memorable full-page comic book ads continues to influence graphic design today.

Robert Crumb: Interview by Paul Gravett

Two actors turned 75 this month and I missed them. So here are Jack Nicholson: Unpublished Photos of an Actor on the Brink from LIFE magazine, 1969, and the website of George Takei.

Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin, finally off the daily schedule after 8 years, 4 months. This means, if I keep this up for another year and a half, I can pass him!
***
GOOGLE ALERTS

What could Archie Andrews possibly have meant?

Long-time Exploring and Special Programs volunteer and advocate, Roger Green, was presented the 2012 Silver Beaver Award during the Council Court of Recognition Dinner held at Base Camp on Saturday, March 31.

Everything about Roger is designed to impress and attract attention, from his demeanor to his augments to his actions. While he’s naturally piss-poor at stealth or shutting the hell up…

For The Right Price: Roger is willing to render practically any service he’s capable of, provided that he is adequately compensated. He’s not the type to turn his back on his current employer(s), but whatever’s required of him, he’ll do it.

 

The cartoon is from an e-mail; original source unknown to me.