We've been meme-tagged: Excerpt from books on my desk

Kivi Leroux Miller over at the Non-profit Communications blog tagged us. With a meme no less.

Here were the instructions.

1. Pick up the nearest book (or in my indecisive case: books).
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

I reckon I’m going to do this two different ways: books on cat_aidg ‘s desk and books on cat_laine’s desk. The dilemma with these things is picking books that don’t make it seem like you’re trying to hard. Below are 4 that were sold by, recommended by or written by friends.

Work Desk

Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (25th Anniversary Edition) by E.F. Schumacher. Purchased from a friend’s bookstore to keep in the spirit.

Rather less than one-half of the total population of this country is, as they say, gainfully occupied, and about one-third of these are actual producers in agriculture, mining, construction, and industry. I do mean actual producers, not people who tell other people what to do, or account for the past, or plan for the future, or distribute what other people have produced. In other words, rather less than one-sixth of the total population is engaged in actual production; on average, each of them supports 5 others besides himself, of which two are gainfully employed on things other than real production and three are not gainfully employed.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins (Thanks Ben T for the vacation reading)

I had breakfasted earlier that morning, and the maitre d’ gave me an odd look. I glanced around. Graham Greene sat alone at a table near the wall.

Home Desk

The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism by Matt Mason (read his blog, he’s great)

Some corporations have even stopped flirting with the art form and taken to doing the graffiti themselves. IBM, for example, bombed the streets of San Francisco in 2001 with logos stenciled on sidewalks, facing the wrath of city officials. “It’s an urban visual blight issue”, snapped the director fo the Department of Public Works to CNN afterward, talking about graffiti and advertising as one and the same thing.

Odes to Common Things, Bilingual Edition by Pablo Neruda

Ode to Bread

Because we plant its seed
and grow it
not for one man
but for all,
there will be enough:
there will be bread
for all the peoples of the earth.
And we will also share with one another
whatever has
the shape and the flavor of the bread:
the earth itself,
and love –
taste like bread
and have its shape,
the germination of wheat.
exists to be shared,
to be freely given,
to multiply.

I tag:

1. Rob Katz
2. Shane Jordan
3. Jose Gomez-Marquez
4. Aman Bhandari
5. John Barrie

Hmm, note to self, get to know more female bloggers.

Link of the Day 052508: Vast cracks appear in Arctic ice [BBC]

From BBC News:

Vast cracks appear in Arctic ice

Dramatic evidence of the break-up of the Arctic ice-cap has emerged from research during an expedition by the Canadian military.

Related Links:
Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’ 70 years ahead of IPCC predictions[BBC]

For some Southern Hemisphere melting action:
Earth in Flux: An Antarctic Ice Shelf Crumbles [Dot Earth]

Related Posts:
Today in We’re Doomed: This Summer’s Arctic Sea Ice Melting
Images and Graphs from “An Inconvenient Truth”

Link of the Day 052408: MythBuster: Why Electric Vehicles Beat Gas in 5 Extreme Tests [Pop Mech]

MythBuster: Why Electric Vehicles Beat Gas in 5 Extreme Tests

From Popular Mechanics:

In a PopularMechanics.com exclusive, Jamie Hyneman breaks down his team’s most recent eye-popping experiment: rolling out a Ferrari, Harley, ATV, compact car and hand-built go-kart to the track, and pitting each against its electric-propulsion counterpart. The bottom line? Plug-in vehicles aren’t just clean, they’re fast—and might be easier to build than a toy car.

Link of the Day 052208: 1000s of toads flee polluted river in China [Daily Mail]

1000s of toads flee polluted river in China

From the Daily Mail:

Residents in China’s Jiangsu Province were hopping mad when thousands of little toads took to the streets.

The slimy creatures were forced out of their natural habitat in Taizhou city’s main river due to a lack of oxygen in the water.

And so the toads set off in vast numbers on an epic journey to find a new home, crossing the city in their thousands.

via Current TV

Link of the Day 052098: Orchestrating Famine [Celsias]

The folks at Celsias posted a great article on the wide scale socio-political (and corporate) forces that are a major cause of current and previous food crises worldwide. A major point made in the piece is that bad economic policies/onerous conditionalities foisted upon nations receiving aid or loans from the IMF and World Bank, coupled with noncompetitive agricultural subsidies in rich nations have helped crush the food producers focusing on internal markets in many developing countries. They give the example of Haiti.

Thirty years ago, Haiti raised nearly all the rice it needed. What happened?

In 1986, after the expulsion of Haitian dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned Haiti $24.6 million in desperately needed funds (Baby Doc had raided the treasury on the way out). But, in order to get the IMF loan, Haiti was required to reduce tariff protections for their Haitian rice and other agricultural products and some industries to open up the country’s markets to competition from outside countries. The U.S. has by far the largest voice in decisions of the IMF.

Doctor Paul Farmer was in Haiti then and saw what happened. “Within less than two years, it became impossible for Haitian farmers to compete with what they called ‘Miami rice.’ The whole local rice market in Haiti fell apart as cheap, U.S. subsidized rice, some of it in the form of ‘food aid,’ flooded the market. There was violence, ‘rice wars,’ and lives were lost.”

“American rice invaded the country,” recalled Charles Suffrard, a leading rice grower in Haiti in an interview with the Washington Post in 2000. By 1987 and 1988, there was so much rice coming into the country that many stopped working the land.

… People from the countryside started losing their jobs and moving to the cities. After a few years of cheap imported rice, local production went way down.”

Still the international business community was not satisfied. In 1994, as a condition for U.S. assistance in returning to Haiti to resume his elected Presidency, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced by the U.S., the IMF, and the World Bank to open up the markets in Haiti even more. — Counterpunch

Also of note:

Much of the news coverage of the world food crisis has focussed on riots in low-income countries, where workers and others cannot cope with skyrocketing costs of staple foods. But there is another side to the story: the big profits that are being made by huge food corporations and investors. Cargill, the world’s biggest grain trader, achieved an 86% increase in profits from commodity trading in the first quarter of this year. Bunge, another huge food trader, had a 77% increase in profits during the last quarter of last year. ADM, the second largest grain trader in the world, registered a 67% per cent increase in profits in 2007.

Nor are retail giants taking the strain: profits at Tesco, the UK supermarket giant, rose by a record 11.8% last year. Other major retailers, such as France’s Carrefour and Wal-Mart of the US, say that food sales are the main sector sustaining their profit increases. Investment funds, running away from sliding stock markets and the credit crunch, are having a heyday on the commodity markets, driving prices out of reach for food importers like Bangladesh and the Philippines. – ENN

Hat tip Craig M.

Also of interest:
Life and Debt – a great film about the impact of the IMF’s structural adjustment plans on Jamaica
Confessions of an Economic Hitman – a somewhat smug but riveting book about the dark designs of the ‘unholy Trinity’ (World Bank, IMF, WTO), et al.
Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair Campaign


Trade Liberalization

Market Access

Related Posts:
Update: Food Riots in Haiti [April 17, 2008]
Bamako Screening
…Nor Any Drop to Drink: Water Privatization in Bolivia
Link of the Day 042408: A worldwide increase in the cost of food [NPR]

Event: Anne Hastings of Fonkoze to speak on effect of global food crisis [5/21, NYC]

Accompanying the Poorest Out of Poverty: The Effect of the Global Food Crisis
Date: Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
Time: 6:30-8:00PM
Location: Laura Parsons Pratt Conference Center, 281 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10010
Cost: Free for MFCNY and WAM members, $10 for non-members.
RSVP: Please RSVP to mfclubny {at] gmail [dot} com to confirm your attendance.
Speaker:Anne Hastings, Executive Director, Fonkoze

Fonkoze office in Cap Haitien (January 2008)
Fonkoze office in Cap Haitien (January 2008)

Please join us for an evening with Anne Hastings, Executive Director of Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance institution. Under her leadership, Fonkoze has grown from 2 volunteer employees to over 560 full-time employees. The institution now has 30 branches throughout rural Haiti, with over 120,000 clients, more than 45,000 of whom have microcredit loans.

Speaker Bio:
Anne Hastings has been the Executive Director of Fonkoze – Haiti’s largest microfinance institution – since May 1996. Under her leadership, the institution has grown from 2 volunteer employees to over 575 full-time employees. The institution now has 30 branches throughout rural Haiti, with over 120,000 clients, more than 45,000 of whom have microcredit loans. In July 2004, Fonkoze spun off its financial services component to form a commercial financial institution. Anne serves on the board of directors of that institution. She also continues to manage the foundation, which is now devoted to monitoring the impact of microfinance on the lives of clients, eliminating illiteracy among its clients, incubating new branches that reach ever poorer and more rural clients with microfinance services, and continually testing and developing innovative new products for the clients of both the commercial entity and the foundation. She is the recipient of the 2005 Pioneer in Microfinance Award of the Grameen Foundation USA. In 2006, she was honored in the First Annual Chiapas Project Recognition Dinner in Dallas, Texas.

Before coming to Haiti, Anne had fifteen years of experience in providing strategic management services to executives and in managing young organizations for high performance and steady growth. She was Senior Partner and Managing Director of Scanlon and Hastings, a management consulting company in Washington DC, from 1985 to 1996 and a Senior Analyst at Advanced Technology in Reston, Virginia from 1982 to 1985. Anne holds a PhD from the University of Virginia and an Honorary Doctorate in Business Leadership from Duquesne University. She completed research fellowships at the Brookings Institute and the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, both in Washington, DC.

Hat tip Pablo H