Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Sowell on Victimhood

Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite opinion writers. In his latest column (A Challenge to Our Beliefs) he elucidates on the relationship between victimhood and low achievement. For an immigrant person like me, Sowell's article only reaffirms what I know to be true -- that there is very little, if any, difference in intelligence between people of different ethnicities that can be attributed to genetic differences. 
What do low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States have in common? It cannot be simply low incomes, because children from other groups in the same low-income brackets outperform whites in England and outperform blacks in America. 
What low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States have in common is a generations-long indoctrination in victimhood. The political left in both countries has, for more than half a century, maintained a steady and loud drumbeat of claims that the deck is stacked against those at the bottom. 
The American left uses race and the British left uses class, but the British left has been at it longer. In both countries, immigrants who have not been in the country as long have not been so distracted by such ideology into a blind resentment and lashing out at other people.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Quote (lie) of the decade

"If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." -- Barack Obama

Thursday, September 05, 2013

I love Malian music!

We really enjoyed watching Cheick Hamala and his band play at Reston Town Center a few weeks ago. They were great! The video clip below performed at NPR for their Tiny Desk Concerts series and has three songs. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Charter (Start-up) Cities

The idea of creating new cities that are unencumbered by the problems of the host countries where they are located has fascinated me ever since I watched Paul Romer's TED talk titled "Why the world needs charter cities" (first video below). It looks like his idea is catching on. The Central American country of Honduras has recently amended its constitution to pave the way for creating start-up cities called ZEDEs, Zones for Employment and Development of the Economy (second video below). The idea for the ZEDE's originates in Paul Romer's idea of a charter city, but it is also distinctly Honduran. I am sure Ethiopia and other African countries can adopt this idea for the benefit of their people.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Relationships of Ancient African Languages

"Almost all of the more than 1,000 African languages spoken today belong to just four families -- Afroasiatic, Niger-Kordofanian, Nilo-Saharan, and Khoesan. As these language families spread out across the continent in the early Holocene, they gradually drove out hundreds of other languages that used to be spoken in Africa. Christopher Ehret (UCLA) reflects on the relationships of these languages to the existing African families and to the language families of the rest of the world, and asks what this information can tell us about human origins and early human history."

Friday, August 02, 2013

Interview with Ali Hussien

A moving and informative interview. Please take your time to watch the whole interview.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What is the message the Chinese are trying to convey?

The Chinese are arguably Sub-Saharan Africa's biggest trading partner. They are Ethiopia's, too. I have no problem with that. But I have a problem with their way of doing business in Ethiopia. For example, take a look at the picture below from a Chinese shoe factory that opened in Ethiopia last year. What is the point of writing the messages in the ceiling of the factory, which seem to be directed at the workers, in Chinese? Okay, I see some Chinese managers working there. But, isn't the factory located in Ethiopia? Doesn't it make sense to have the message written in Amharic first, and then in Chinese or English? Why is the message in Chinese written in bigger fonts compared to the messages in Amharic and English? What is the message the Chinese are trying to convey? Isn't this a manifestation of an unequal partnership between the Ethiopian and Chinese sides? If so, I think this is a sign of an unhealthy partnership and it must change.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stereotype Threat

The passage below is from a 2009 interview of Claude M. Steele conducted by Henry Louis Gates about the effects of "stereotype threat" on Afro-American achievement, or anyone else for that matter. I do not subscribe to the prevailing notion of diversity in the American education system, but a thoughtful discussion of the topic covered in this interview should be a required right of passage discussion for all Ethiopian-American/Canadian kids.

HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.: Claude, what exactly is “stereotype threat”? And why does it matter for the intellectual performance of Black youth at school?
CLAUDE M. STEELE: Stereotype threat is a very simple experience that everybody has, I believe, a couple times a day. It refers to being in a situation or doing something for which a negative stereotype about one of your identities—your age, your race, your gender—is relevant to you. You know then that you could be seen and treated in terms of that stereotype. And if you care about what you’re doing, the prospect of being judged and treated this way can be upsetting, distracting, and can interfere with your functioning in the situation.
GATES: But I was thinking of Black immigrant children.
GATES: As opposed to indigenous, African American children.
STEELE: You get very little stereotype threat effects among first generation immigrants, but you get them in second generation immigrants.
GATES: Because they become “Americans,” replete with psychological conditions induced by socialization?
STEELE: They become Americans and they know how they could be seen. And they don’t have, say, the same dialect, or maybe the same features. The social patterns that they know in the first generation will deflect their being seen stereotypically — “If people know this about me they’re not going to see me in terms of this American racial stereotype.” But their kids don’t have those same markers, so to speak. And they know they could be seen that way.

Here is a link to the video of the interview and here is a link to the print version.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Interesting discussion

This is not an endorsement of the views expressed by either of these two gentlemen, but I endorse the tone and civility of their discussion.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Elbert Guillory: "Why I Am a Republican"

A Louisiana Satate Senator explains why he switched his party affiliation to the Republican party.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Venting off

The authorities in Ethiopia allowed an opposition protest to take place in Addis Ababa yesterday. Perhaps this is the first legal protest held in Ethiopia since 2005, I am not sure. Regardless, it should be regarded as a positive development if the ruling elite may have come to the realization that allowing their subjects to vent off their grievances in a peaceful way is a good thing for all concerned. 

And then there are subjects who hold scary thoughts like the view expressed by a young person quoted in the article at the above link. Here is what he said:
"I don't care about politics. I don't care if they (the ruling party) rule forever but I would die for my religion," said a young protester who would only identify himself as Ahmed. "I am here to demand the release of our representatives . we won't stop until they are free," said Ahmed.
I am afraid this is not an uncommon sentiment in the Muslim community. The young man is totally justified in protesting against the unfair imprisonment of his religious representatives, but his talk of "I will die for my religion" while at the same time he shows no concern at all to the political condition of his country should be a big concern to all Ethiopians.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Benghazi-IRS-AP scandals

This cartoon by Jerry Holbert cleverly captures the scandals that are engulfing the Obama Administration. Here are some good reads on each scandal: Benghazi, IRS and AP. All these scandals arose out of the re-election campaign of Obama. Here is an article that ties the Benghazi and AP Phone Records scandals: A Tie of Two Scandals.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Konso: Terracing and Moringa

I had seen pictures of Konso terracing before, but never a video documentary on it. There is a lot other people can learn from the Konso about terracing and the medicinal value of the Morinaga tree. This video comes to you courtesy of the Konso Cultural Centre.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What is marriage? Seriously!

It is truly a sad moment in human history that we are forced to debate what marriage is, but here we are. This paper from the Heritage Foundation titled "Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It" gives a thorough answer to the question, and I highly recommend that you read it in its entirety. Here is a quote from the paper:
Marriage is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. The government does not create marriage. Marriage is a natural institution that predates government. Society as a whole, not merely any given set of spouses, benefits from marriage. This is because marriage helps to channel procreative love into a stable institution that provides for the orderly bearing and rearing of the next generation.

This understanding of marriage as the union of man and woman is shared by the Jewish, christian, and Muslim traditions; by ancient Greek and roman thinkers untouched by these religions; and by various Enlightenment philosophers. It is affirmed by both common and civil law and by ancient Greek and roman law. Far from having been intended to exclude same-sex relationships, marriage as the union of husband and wife arose in many places, over several centuries, in which same-sex marriage was nowhere on the radar. Indeed, it arose in cultures that had no concept of sexual orientation and in some that fully accepted homoeroticism and even took it for granted. 
As with other public policy issues, religious voices on marriage should be welcomed in the public square. Yet one need not appeal to distinctively religious arguments to understand why marriage—as a natural institution—is the union of man and woman [emphasis mine].


Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage. The future of marriage depends on citizens understanding what it is and why it matters and demanding that government policies support, not undermine, true marriage.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Coronal Rain

NASA released this beautiful video of the solar flare that happened in July of 2012 a couple of months ago. Enjoy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Pope for all Christians?

Timothy Morgan at Christianity Today argues that Christians of all hues should care about the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church. I agree. I think all Christians should pray for a successful papacy of Pope Francis I.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Physicians Galore!

This report by PRI from a couple of months ago is very surprising to me. The last time I checked (which was about ten years ago) there were only 3 medical schools in Ethiopia: Addis Ababa (Black Lion), Gondar and Jimma. Now there are 13! Ethiopia was producing about 300 doctors in 2005 and that number is slated to rise to 8000 by 2015. This is a 2567% increase! It is good that the government is trying to expand healthcare training, but this level of expansion will only come at a huge cost to quality of training as the report alludes. I guess the golden days of Ethiopian medical education is history.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kudos to Mekane Yesus Church!

EECMY Terminates her Partnership Relations with ELCA and CoS

The 19th General Assembly of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, held from January 27 to February 2, 2013, passed several important resolutions related to the life and ministry of the Church including election of leaders, formation of a Judiciary Commission, establishment of new synods and above all, fellowshipping in prayer and worship. Among the agenda items that received endorsement of the General Assembly were issues related to marriage and human sexuality – topics that extensively called the attention of the Church’s policy-making bodies at different levels, over the past several years.

It is recalled, earlier in 2006, two of the major partners of the EECMY, namely the Church of Sweden and later, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, passed decisions that favor Homosexual practices and blessing of same sex marriage. The EECMY noted this as a surprise and immediately reacted against and earnestly requested for reconsideration of their decisions. To the contrary, these two Churches, going further, resolved to legalize same sex marriage and calling of gay persons into ordained ministry. As a result of this, the EECMY was compelled to engage with an intentional theological reflection and deeper search of Scripture as well as legal and cultural perspectives of the Ethiopian Context. The outcome of this study was critically reviewed and taken as the basis for the decisions of the 6th Church Council — which resulted in the writing of Pastoral Call to the two Churches to reverse their decisions, lest the EECMY would be forced to terminate her relationship, with prior notification of one year as per the Standard Partnership Agreement. Sadly, the repeated endeavors of the EECMY on this line, failed to obtain the expected positive response from the two Churches.

Subsequently, the Council of the Church at its 8th regular session held in July 2012, was obligated to implement the decision of the 6th Council, i.e. termination of the partnership relations and setting of exit strategy to realize the decision. Having heard and thoroughly reviewed the report presented on the actions so far taken on this Issue, the 19th General Assembly of the Church unanimously endorsed the Resolution passed by the 8th Council.

Being cognizant of the fruitful and long-standing relationships with the ELCA and the CoS, the EECMY expresses her very deep and sincere appreciation of their historic contributions in God’s Mission.

We will continue to pray that, one day, the relationships will be restored.

The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY)
February 11, 2013
Addis Ababa