Saturday, August 18, 2007

More on the CARE decision

This article from the Global Development Center talks more about the CARE decision.

To my Anonymous commenter: yes, I do think that my organization is hypocritical. But alas, I am a mere peon here, and have no control over it. I do, however, make my opinion known regularly. Might be why I'm still a peon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Response to comment

I don't have a lot of time to write today, but I'd like to that the commenter from CARE. I think that you have a point regarding the balance between the good that can be done with the money and the possible harm done by food aid. I work in program development and fundraising right now, and totally understand regarding the loss of $46 million - you are right that someone (probably my organization!) will step in to fill the void. However, I still applaud CARE for doing what I think is the right thing, and making a decision that I believe will make their programming more effective.

This is a really sensitive and debatable topic. I definitely have my views on food aid, as any regular reader of this blog knows, and think that the entire food aid system should be dismantled, with the possible exception of emergency food aid. I do stand by my statement that those agencies, like my own, that accept food aid are being hypocritical. This comes from my view of the food aid system in general. I also certainly understand the argument the commenter made, even though I don't agree with it.

Anyone else want to chime in? Grandpa, I'm sure you have something to say on this.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

CARE: not a hypocrite anymore!

This article describes CARE International's decision to stop receiving USG food aid for its development work. Basically, they have finally come around to the hypocrisy of selling American commodities to the same folks they do income generating projects with. I wish that the organization that I work with could see it in the same way.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ding dong, the witch is gone!

Karl Rove has stepped down! Celebrate!

I'll blog later about my fabulous trip to Colombia (it is an amazing place). For today, I'm going to celebrate the departure of the #1 minion of the Antichrist from the US Government!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

La Pit... I mean, La Paz

Ok, I'll be very up front with you -- I do not like La Paz. Bolivia in general is great, but this city is awful. In addition to having a very frustrating time professionally while here, I'm tired of the atrocious driving, dog poop everywhere, nasty sewer smells, horrible service, blank stares, noise, and no-dinner-Sundays. I'm not kidding about the dog poop -- people walk everywhere here, but still there is dog poop everywhere. I mean, curb your damn animals, people! It is foul.

The city does have a few redeeming qualities (none of which involve bookstores or cinemas). One is the cheap restaurants, most of which are at least decent, and some very good. Another is the great textiles (albeit not yarn, really). And a final one is the fact that they actually have a reasonably good orchestra (no, I'm not delirious).

About the restaurants:
  • Angelo Colonial (On Mariscal Sucre, not on Linares as it says in the Lonely Planet): The steak was good, the mashed potatoes were good, and the atmosphere is great. The restaurant is filled with fascinating antiques and the candlelight makes it really romantic and cozy. The service, however, was a joke. She forgot what we ordered minutes after asking us, and even though she wrote it down, forgot my water and my salad. I'm not kidding, I have no idea what she wrote down or why, because generally you write things down so you refer back and don't forget, but apparently she was only doing it for show. This isn't the place you want to go for great food and a taste of Bolivia, but rather for a decent romantic date. The price was right, though. Our meal cost less than $5 a person.
  • Pronto Dalicatessen (Jauregui 2248 in Sopocachi): I love this place. The food is good, and really creative. It has nothing at all to do with a delicatessen, unless it is opposite day. The play is on the "Dali" - and the food is a bit surreal, but lovely. The service was excellent, and the ambiance top notch. I really like this place, and can't recommend it highly enough. Go there. It is relatively cheap, too, with a meal and a 1/2 bottle of wine only costing about $8.
  • La Comedie (Pasaje Medinacelli 2234, off 20 de Octubre in Sopocachi): This is a lovely restaurante, in a beautiful, ship-shaped building. The food was great, the service could have been better, but the chocolate mousse made the entire city of La Paz fall away and the rest of the night a dream of chocolate. Meal cost about $7, totally totally worth it. Go there.
  • Alexander Coffee and Pub: These guys are all over the place. Decent but not great food, good coffee, and they let you sit there forever. DO NOT BUY A BROWNIE! They are horrid. A comfy and decent-service cafe nonetheless.
  • Le Bistrot (Guachalla 399, between 6 de Agosto and 20 de Octubre in Sopocachi): This place is ok, but I always feel a bit let down. It is in the Alliance Francaise building, and has a decent atmosphere, but the food is only ok. It tries to be good, but misses somehow, and the waitress I had both times was a bit spooky and weird. Probably good as a bar, but not so much as a place for a meal.
  • Terraza (20 de Octubre 2331 in Sopocachi): DO NOT GO TO THIS PLACE. It is one of the worst restaurants I've ever been to. Horrid disgusting food and bad service. They should be ashamed of themselves. The Lonely Planet says that they are "stylish", but that can only be true if your sense of style includes eating food that grosses you out and having to get up from your table and search around the restaurant for your server. If there were restaurant police, they would shut this place down.
  • Arabica (20 de Octubre, just down from the Terraza): this place is good. Clean, good service, comfy and peaceful, good coffee, and great food. I had a "nido", which is a yummy fresh bread "nest" filled with delicious veggie or other stew, perfect for a cold La Paz day, and a goat cheese and tomato salad, which was lovely and hit the spot (and was ok for foreigners to eat, if you get my drift). I highly recommend this place for a lazy Saturday afternoon, or a workday lunch.
  • The Lounge (Calle Presbitero Medina 2527 in Sopocachi): I love this place, and it isn't because of the awesome owners, who I didn't meet until after I tried the top-notch food and yummy french fries. Beautiful place, great food, and a really good price. Definitely go there. The owners are a Bolivian musician and his American wife, and they are two of the nicest people I've ever met.
I went to some other places, too, but these are the ones that most stick out in my memory.

Textiles: go to the shop Comart Tukuypaj and its sister store out back and up stairs Inca Pallay. Both are fair trade shops that directly support the artisans, and have lovely products with a just price and high quality. Inca Pallay has saleswomen who can tell you about the weaving and the history of the cooperative. Their work is top notch and stunningly beautiful.

As for the orchestra, I'm not kidding! My friend Joseph and I went last night, and it was lovely. A great break from the ubiquitous pan flutes and guitars, and a solid orchestra. I was pleasantly surprised, expecting a nightmare of noise, but they played well, albeit lacking in discipline and decorum. The music was muddy but good, and the solo cellist was great. I give the conductor a lot of credit -- bravo, Maestro!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sao Paulo

I would like to begin by expressing my sorrow at the accident in Sao Paulo. My thoughts are with the families of the victims.

As I have mentioned before, GRU airport is a menace to human civilization. It should probably just be closed, razed, and re-built from scratch. Congohas should definitely be closed, forever. Furthermore, TAM airlines is a joke. For a nation with as much human resource capacity as Brazil, you'd think they would have a more reliable national airline. This accident falls squarely at the feet of the TAM leadership, who are clearly incapable of running a safe and efficient airline.

Update: If you don't take my word for it, I have back up.

Monday, July 09, 2007

If this plane were a man...

Someone would be in trouble.

I love this plane. I can't wait to fly on this plane. Check out that overhead storage! Check out the "islands"! The lighting -- it changes to keep your circadian rhythms in order! I'm totally going to try to sit on the upper deck!