Saturday, May 18, 2013

Various & Sundry: The cats are unimpressed

I'm kind of tempted to start this week's collection of online tidbits with the Sad Cat Diary.

I hope you are not too depressed to read on.

But if you have made it this far, I hope you will read this terrific article about what we can learn from one of the worst charities in the world. I think it captures some of the key things we need to consider in aid and development work in a way that's really eye-opening. The gist is we need to look at the outcome (what does the charity actually accomplish) rather than focus on the process (how does it go about it -- assuming it is legal and ethical). Take a look and see what you think of the author's arguments.

Meanwhile, over at How Matters (because, yes, this is a both/and kind of a situation), Jennifer Lentfer writes about her recent visit to Haiti and the comments made to her by the recipients of various aid programs. Here's the one that particularly got me: "Is it a political strategy for Americans to come waste their money and weaken us?" Youch.

@pj_blue had a tweet that summed all of this up very neatly:
Amen to that.

So...will it do any good to sign this petition to make it easier for musicians to bring their instruments on airplanes? One can always try, and hope. Apparently,
When musicians are travelling by air in the United States, their instruments have no protections under current law. Each air carrier can decide their own rules on how to treat instrumentalists, and this results in arbitrary decisions made down the line.
Here's hoping we can make that a little less crazy.

Congratulations to 18-year-old Jennie Lamere who won a Boston Hackathon (a programming competition) with a code to stop television spoilers in your Twitter feed. Which, if you're a Twitter type, is actually really useful. What's more, she was the only female to present a project, and the only solo competitor. Go, Jennie. Another story on how she got into coding here.

On the other end of the life spectrum, this week I read the fascinating obituary of Marcella Pattyn, 92, who was the last of the Beguines. Yes, I did start humming a little Cole Porter, there, but little did I know that the Beguines were a lay order for women established in the late 12th century.
Beguines took no religious vows. They could leave and marry, if they chose. They could own property and took no alms. Women of all classes were welcomed, and wealthy Beguines often brought their servants with them. They carried on professions, often in the textile industry; they did good works, such as teaching or caring for the sick. They elected women — Grandes Dames — to lead their communities. Each Beguine was expected to support herself and make a contribution to the beguinage, through work or rent payments. They had no motherhouse, no common rule, no general of the order. Every community was run according to its own rules.
Fascinating stuff. Marcella herself, there, was the last surviving member of the order. Do we need something else like it? Or has it simply served its term?

Another who has served his term is Lt. Col. Will Adams, who had been deployed in Afghanistan for 2 years. I dare you to watch this without crying.

No comments: