Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Have a look - some perspectives on corruption in Kenya and a note I posted on the India Development Blog, my organization's unofficial (and very popular) blog for researcher opinions, on entrepreneurship (original post here).
Monday, October 26, 2009
There's a bunch of depressing stuff about the evacuation, but also click back to the posts pre-Jan 2008 - an amusing journey back to Peace Corps for anyone who was there with me, and a window into my real developing country experience for those of you in India.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
We're trying out a fancy new interactive web design where each researcher is a real time content creator, so that the site is (in the words of our director) an "open kitchen" to showcase the research and work initiatives we have going on in progress, rather than just our polished completed products. They're supposed to be writing a blurb to explain this philosophy, but haven't gotten around to it yet.
If nothing else, what's exciting is that I can direct you to much more in-depth, interesting pieces of content:
Main site homepage (complete with new URL): http://www.ifmr-cdf.in/
My programme group (restructuring and new group description coming soon... hopefully along with improved URL, this one is gross): http://ifmr-cdf.in/pg/groups/1223/strategy-advisory-group&type=Program%20area∫=1223
My profile! View all the interesting, or not so interesting, stuff I've been working on over the past year, plus wire posts and bookmarks and all sorts of other junk: http://ifmr-cdf.in/pg/profile/jsprague
Watch for updates and improved site capability coming up soon! I hope...
Monday, August 24, 2009
Check it out, and follow if you're actually interested in my work. If you're just interested in my shenanigans in India, keep reading this one.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Check out our snazzy new brochure!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
When I saw this clip of Hillary Clinton giving a “sharp response” to a Congolese student who asked what Mr. Clinton thought of China’s loan to the DRC, my first reaction was my aggressive feminist side: way to go Mrs. Clinton, way to stick up for yourself and show ‘em that’s not acceptable.
My second reaction was holy shit, that’s the DRC. And that got me thinking. Did she come off a little strong? Granted, I can’t tell the context of this interview session or what was said before, but I can imagine a few different interpretations of this question besides “you respect my husband more than me because he’s a dude”: how about “because he’s a former president of the United States” or “because he just got back from diplomatic negotiations in North Korea” or “maybe something was lost in translation”?
On the other side of the coin, what if the kid meant exactly what it sounded like? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m your biggest neighborhood fan of the long-term systemic need for women’s rights in a society. But maybe, just maybe, for a country that’s been ravaged over and over by war and corruption and genocide in recent years, ensuring gender equality in the home isn’t at the top of the priority list.
Which brings me to my biggest gripe. Probably the most high-profile and influential woman in the world, one who has years of public speaking behind her back and is responsible for international conflict resolution, had the opportunity to start a dialogue about a critically important global issue and instead came off looking like a bitter whiny old lady. Seriously you think the phrase “my husband is not the secretary of state, I am” comes off as anything other than the emotional blabber of a woman who’s sick of being stuck in her husband’s shadow? When she could have asked the kid why he cared about a civilian’s opinion, stimulated a conversation about gender equity and provided the example of a woman who has the power to challenge engrained cultural viewpoints, she may well have caused the opposite impression: that’s what happens when you put a woman in power, she gets all emotional and defensive at routine interview questions.
Wasted opportunity, Madame Secretary.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
For those who haven’t been following recent (not so recent anymore) news from
Now Baba Ramdev, a very famous acclaimed yoga guru with millions of followers, is shooting his mouth off and trying to get the ruling overturned. Below is the (albeit very biased) summary of a (somewhat more, but still outdated) recent interview on Hindi TV from an LGBT listserv I get:
Just saw Baba Ramdev's Interview on :Seedhi Baat" at Aaj Tak.
Prabhu Chawla, the interviewer tried to bring in some objectivity and reason to the rhetoric, but the baba went on and on with his tirade against
homsexuals. The gist of his arguments:
1] Its harmful to the character of the nations and therefore should be criminalised.
2] Only criminalisation will ensure that these people are brought in for 'rehabilitation'
3] That he will organise rehabilitation camps and change people using yoga.
4] That it is all about national interest and that irrespective of the court, the people of
who are opposed will win, because theirs is the India
path of truth.
5] That his stand is constitutional because the exceptions to fundamental rights includes grounds like national sexurity and morality and
homosexuality is against both.
6] That WHO, UN etc are wrong in describing that homoseexuality is not a disease, and that he is right in describing it as such
AND FINALLY THE CHERRY ON THE CAKE:
7] That because homosexuality is a disease, homosexuals should be barred from donating blood, since anyone who receives this blood by transfusion
will also be infected with homosexuality.
I think the WTF is self-explanatory. I did like this response comment on India Today though:
Baba Ramdev said on Seedhi Baat that receiving blood from gay people makes the recipients gay. Why don't the people follow Ramdev's advice and donate blood to gay people and make them normal?
In better news, the mood here in Tamil Nadu is a bit more optimistic. Chennai, a particularly conservative part of
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
My current roommate (I'm staying with some friends while looking for a new apartment) is a photographer and caught my dog in a model pose. This picture is pretty much awesome.
Kenya continues to surprise and perplex me.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I recently had a conversation with a journalist friend about the Somali pirate trend, admitting that despite the seriousness of the situation I couldn't help but snicker every time I saw the term "pirate" splashed across a headline. And I think the media plays it up too - "Pirates take captain hostage and demand ransom," "Somali pirates strike again, hijacking 4 ships." I know I know, that really is what happened, but don't you think they dramatize it a bit?
And wouldn't you? Nobody dressed up as a burglar or a carjacker for Halloween when they were a kid, but a pirate...
Anyway, another participant in the conversation passed this article on to me, justifying any sympathy I may have had for the real-life version of my eye-patch wearing, parrot-toting fantasy. Pirates 1, Italian mafia 0. And as always, Africa gets the shit end of the rest of the world's stick.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Speaking of governance, I’m pretty excited to have ordered a copy of It's Our Turn to Eat, which is only available in the
Monday, March 9, 2009
India is acclaimed for the high quality and, more importantly, dirt-cheap nature of its healthcare services. It is so dirt-cheap, in fact, that health insurance covers hospitalization only, no basic services – which seems fair, since the typical price for a doctor’s consultation is around $10 (half that of just the co-pay in the US!). In Chennai, if you are a foreigner, no one will recommend to you any institution other than Apollo Medical Center, the world-renowned ultra-modern private hospital. There were rumors that Apollo was a little pricier than the typical clinic, but hey, this is “high quality and dirt-cheap healthcare” India. So when I developed a mild but stubborn skin rash from SE Asia, I decided to go check it out.
The dermatologist was friendly and professional, and shrugged off my concern about the price of tests with a “don’t worry, nothing is expensive in India.” Then came his recommended course of action for my rash:
3 blood tests
2 inflammation-reducing creams
Avoid bottled beverages
Avoid processed foods
Avoid strawberries and strawberry products
1 anti-allergy tablet
1 prescription soap to use in the shower
…and a partridge in a pear tree.
I guess I don’t have to worry about underdiagnosis.
The bill for all of this hoopla came to about $60 – nothing outrageous, but at the end of the day it was 3x what it would have been if I was working in the US. It does not make me excited about the prospect of seeing a doctor for an *actual* medical condition.
And for the record, I bought one of the creams and the soap, ignored the rest of the diagnosis, and the skin rash was gone in 4 days.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Of course there is no transparency on who the other nominees were, so I have no idea if this was the best choice. But in absolute terms, a young-minority-notentirelyacademic-globallyconscious choice for a traditionallyrunbyoldwhiteguys-antichange-indangerofinfluencebyneoconservativealums school sounds pretty good to me.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
On top of it all, the whole reason for this clash in the first place, raising the awareness of which which could be the only possible explanation for such childish misbehavior, has been completely diluted in this mess. If you’re lucky you might get a tiny tagline at the bottom of an article about burning effigies and flooded hospitals that provides a half-hearted explanation of “where it all started” – something about a lawyer or two unfairly arrested, a politician failing to support the Sri Lankan Tamils, or some caste discrimination issue at the root of the conflict. These might be worthy causes to support and publicize. But by 50 lawyers standing around, courtroom suits and all, hurling stones and burning police stations? By cops and police administrators bashing windshields of private vehicles? Really, people.
More coverage of the tomfoolery available here.