George Carlin – RIP

This really makes me sad. I am a huge fan of George Carlin. I will miss his curmudgeonly attitude, his lack of patience for religious stupidity and wonderful use of all the subtleties and absurdities of the English language to unveil our social ills.

World Refugee Day- Give Refugees a Hand

Cross-posted from The Global Sociology Blog. As a follow-up on my previous post on refugees, this video is part of the campaign to raise awareness and activism for refugees, worldwide. Also, please see Charles Lemos’s great series of posts and photos on refugees at his blog, By The Fault.

Global Increase in the Number of Refugees and IDPs

Cross-posted from The Global Sociology Blog. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released yesterday its figures (full report) regarding the global numbers of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): “UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres expressed concern Tuesday about the growing number of refugees worldwide after an annual survey said there were 11.4 million refugees and 26 million others displaced internally by conflict or persecution at the end of 2007. “After a five-year decline in the number of refugees between 2001 and 2005, we have now seen two years of increases, and that’s a concern,” Guterres said in London. (…) “We are now faced with a complex mix of global challenges that could threaten even more forced … Continue reading

No More Corporal Punishment Says The Council of Europe

Cross-posted from The Global Sociology Blog. (Via Le Monde) Today, the Council of Europe launched a campaign against most forms of corporal punishment, including slapping, spanking, hitting, mistreating, humiliating and any other practice that damage the dignity of a child. The campaign will consist in TV ads, the publication of a manual for parents on violence-free parenting as well as materials for parliamentarians of the Council’s 47 member countries. Greece, Holland, Portugal and Spain have already banned all forms of corporal punishment. Most progressive groups support such bans whereas the “family values” crowd is against it, surprise surprise. After all, we all know that all social problems would be solved if parents were allowed to beat the stuffing out of … Continue reading

Movie Review – The Devil’s Miner

I watched The Devil’s Miner (website) last night for the first time (it was originally from 2005) and what a film this is. The central question of the film is How do we live in dignity? Especially when you are 14 years old, living in Potosi, Bolivia, and you work at a mine inCerro Rico, “the mountain that eats men”? The mines there have been exploited for 450 years and are responsible for 8 million dead. Initially, exploited by the Spaniards, the mines were taken over by the Indios (indigenous peoples) and run as cooperatives but it is still as dangerous and it is still drudgery.

Development Aid – Does it Hurt More than it Helps?

Cross-posted from The Global Sociology Blog. It is detrimental, says Thilo Thielke in Der Spiegel , because it creates unfairness and dependency in many different ways. First, using the case of Kenya, Thielke invokes a classical concept of formal organizational behavior: self-perpetuation. “The roads are in horrid disrepair, and they’ll stay that way for a while. As a result, it would take days or even weeks to get the corn from the west to the northern parts of the country. But why would they need it there anyway? There’s a shortage in the north because the World Food Program is usually there to hand out food for free. The UN’s employees are paid to fight hunger, and that’s why they … Continue reading

Movie Review – The Diving Bell and The Butterfly

Since I have just received my DVD of this great film, I thought I’d re-post the review I wrote at The Global Sociology Blog. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a wonderful and harrowing adaptation of the book of the same name by Jean-Dominique Bauby (“Jean-Do”, as everyone calls him). Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor of the French fashion magazine Elle when, at 43, he had a major stroke that put him in a coma for three weeks. When he finally regained consciousness, he was suffering from a rare condition named “locked-in syndrome”: his mind was intact but he was completely paralyzed, from head to toe. The only part of him that worked and could be used to communicate … Continue reading