A week in the life of a humanitarian agency (it really is all kicking off everywhere)

August 4, 2014

Why social entrepreneurship has become a distraction: it’s mainstream capitalism that needs to change

August 4, 2014

Links I liked

August 4, 2014
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This week’s top tweets – I’m realizing that the only things that get picked up on twitter are generally visuals. I guess it’s not cut out for the written word (apart from haikus). Click to expand the smaller ones (hard to squeeze them all in).

Gaza (what else?)
I’m just going to look at the media war being played out nightly on our TVs, but if you want to take action, here’s what OxfamGB is suggesting, and here’s a powerful first hand account of working and observing Ramadan under siege from Oxfam’s Arwa Mhana.

How Israeli spokespeople “craft” answers to difficult questions [h/t James Bays]

‘Using a prototype Truth Rectification Processor, the words of Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev have been filtered through a complex algorithm that strips away lies.’ Brilliant idea – could we do this for all official spin doctors? [h/t Tan Gandhara]

I know it’s intrusive, but it’s very moving too (and shows not all official media reps are robotic). UN spokesperson Christopher Gunness breaks down during Al Jazeera interview on the death of 15 children.

Let’s talk money
Last week 65 words caused Argentina’s $29bn default (helped by one eccentric US judge and a flock of hungry vultures)85 v 3.5bn cartoon

Our best killer fact in years now in cartoon form – you will be seeing it a lot over the coming months [h/t Robert Went]

inequality dollar billBut why not just write on a dollar bill? Spreading political messages on currency and coins [h/t Makarand]

The State of the State
Is this as good and important as I think it is? ‘The End of the Arab State‘ by former US ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill

I learned a new word: ‘anocracy‘: Political change in Africa 1985-2012: from autocracy to something better [h/t Nicholas Thompson]Africa regimes 1985-2012

On a lighter note
Dilbert explores management’s warm embrace of innovation and complexity

Dilbert management v startup

 

11 comments

  1. So by signing the oxfam letter to the UK government I will “end the violence in Gaza for good”?! Point 1- you Oxfam guys are super heros! Point 2- why is everybody saying that Hamas and the Israeli government are the cause and solution, when in reality it’s actually Oxfam, Cameron and the good old UK citizen who can sort this?

    1. Hi Paul

      No, the actions you can take via Oxfam (and other NGOs) will not in and of themseleves end the violence in Gaza for good. But they can play a part in making sure that the UK government makes Gaza a higher priority (against competing other priorities). It may feel like quite little, but for those of us that are based in the UK and who can have very little direct influence over the Gaza conflict, is this better than doing nothing? I feel it is. Would be extremely interested to hear your views on what else people like me that are so far away can do.

      Best

  2. How can even the most po-faced poli-sci academic employ the term “anocracy” while entirely ignoring the anatomical connotation?

    I assume it’s often accompanied by an “anocrat-retentive” economic model.

  3. Having known Christopher Hill in Macedonia, everything he has to say is usually measured, intelligent and worth paying attention to.

  4. Hello Graham,

    Thanks for your response. In reply to your question, my answer is no: I don’t believe that entitling your petition “end the violence in Gaza for good” is better than doing doing nothing. I’m answering your question, but I don’t understand why you are asking it. My concern is that entitling your petition “end the violence in Gaza for good” is at best disingenuously pointless and at worst so disingenuous it is damaging.

    Do you feel that my concern is misguided?

    Why did you choose the words “end the violence in Gaza for good” to entitle the petition?

  5. Hi Paul

    You’re using terms like “your petition” and “why did I choose the words”. You seem to have assumed I had any thing to do with the launch / wording whatever of the petition – I didn’t.

    I cannot answer your question about whether I feel your concern is misguided because I don’t feel you’ve put a case as to why doing nothing is better than taking part in a petition – even if you do think the wording is inaccurate. You have said the wording is “at worst so disingenuous it is damaging”, but have not said in what way it causes damage, especially in light of my original comment about the lack of action that people that are a long way from the conflict can take (which you do not seem to have addressed)

    Regards

    1. Thanks again for responding Graham. Sorry for assuming that you work for Oxfam.

      I think we’ve both made ourselves clear – I feel that entitling the petition “end the violence in Gaza for good” is both disingenuous and damaging and you disagree with me. I thin our minds are made up on that. What do other readers think?

      Unfortunately we don’t understand each other on other issues – I don’t understand why you feel the need to say that the petition is better than doing nothing as I feel that’s a separate issue entirely. Doing something simply because it is better than doing nothing is the worst rationale for political/social engagement imaginable and it shows how worthless and/or damaging the engagement is.

      I am a secondary school teacher and I feel that the wording of the petition title among many other Oxfam actions is duping kids into believing that through supporting Oxfam they are solving big issues when they are not. This is preventing them from actually thinking individually and engaging individually and the damage that Oxfam and others are causing as a result is incalculable.

      I won’t trouble you with further questions as I don’t think we will understand each other’s positions, but I’d be very happy to hear more of your thoughts.

      What do you think Duncan? You seem to take a position that is very anti Israel (the posting of the Mark Regev spoof leads me to conclude this). Do you feel that the petition and its wording is useful and honest social action or disingenuous and damaging Oxfam publicity and conscience salving or somewhere in between?

      1. Hi Paul
        Thanks for your response. I do work for Oxfam, but my comments on this blog are of a personal nature – I do not speak for Oxfam, and nor do I work for Oxfam on the issues herewithin.

        You say that “This [email petition] is preventing [secondary school children] from actually thinking individually and engaging individually and the damage that Oxfam and others are causing as a result is incalculable.” but I don’t think I’ve heard from you what the damage actually is. You seem to be arguing that Oxfam is distracting people from taking effective action, but if you want to argue that point I feel the onus is on you to describe what effective action people should be taking.

  6. Hello Graham,

    As you have misquoted unnecessarily and continue to avoid the issue I am raising, I think it would be best we agree to disagree. Not for the first time I have to stress to you that it is the wording of the petition title that I am objecting to (the problems with the petition itself are a different can of worms)!

    Let’s just agree that I find that the wording “end the violence in Gaza for good” is disingenuous and you feel it is appropriate and justified. I will add that I think I was correct to suggest it was ‘your’ petition as you work for Oxfam and you support it.

    I will continue to point out where Oxfam is doing a grave injustice to its principles and to the sacrifices of its humanitarian workers with such disingenuous use of semantics etc. Saddly there are innumerable examples of this and I’m sure they will continue. It is a real shame that Duncan and other Oxfam administrators will not acknowledge these instances and insist that they are discontinued.

    All the best,

    Paul.

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