Reckless Warhorse Dishes: The "Africans Must be Taught to Repair"

war·horse  ˈwôrˌhôrs (noun) (in historical contexts) a large, powerful horse ridden in battle.
    • informala soldier, politician, or sports player who has fought many campaigns or contests.
    • informala musical, theatrical, or literary work that has been heard or performed repeatedly.
      "that old warhorse Liszt's “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.”"

I've got a messy blog here (apology for posting before editing, this is take 2).  I should write it up as a real article, though.  It parallels conversations I've had over beers with many colleagues in the ICT world over the decades.  And maybe it explains why I left multi-million dollar UN and WTO and IMF funded "AID Projects" and enjoy private investment outside the #charitableindustrialcomplex.  And the reason I should write it up more professionally is that it appears "WASTE AID" and "RECYCLING DEVELOPMENT AID" is about to go down the same learning curve, without a helmet as they rush to be first to submit projects for funding.

Inexperience, Bad People Management, Lack of Accounting Skills, Spotty Customer Service, Sub Par (food) Quality.  Let's compare the "5 frequent reasons" that restaurants in the USA and EU fail with the explanations offered by the Aid for Africa complex.  Does a 60% failure rate prove Africa's incapable? Or does Africa's enormous and steady growth demonstrate an unhealthy attraction of Western Aid workers to projects lacking business fundamentals?

"Reckless" Korean War warhorse honored by medal and statue @ National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Virginia

The myth is that "nothing is getting better".  I call this the "restaurant crisis".

The logic of AID and Enforcement in Africa seems built on "failure needs more help".  If 60% of new USA restaurants fail in the first year, and 80% fail in 5 years, then Governments should fund professional Restaurant Aid Workers to save Restaurateurs.  Charity needs to save the failing restaurants.  Compare that to the free market, which invests based on past success.

And beeeliiiiiieeevvee me, I could get you some restaurant worker photos that would send you skeedaddling from emerging market restaurants to burn wires in Agbogbloshie in a heartbeat (and genuine "child labor" to boot).   Maybe even some with FIRE pictures for the photojournalists.

If you have seen Awal M. Basit (2nd left) burn wire, you know this amount of gasoline flame is "shiny object for reporter"










Lessons from ICT Battlefield (Information Communications Technology) 

I ran across an ICT blog yesterday which brought me back to that battlefield. The tone is a bit "warhorsey", and I can relate to that. I started out, after Mass DEP, in the ICT realm.  The idea (like World Computer Exchange) was to take surplus computers and use them to develop school tech rooms and internet cafes in Africa.  Millions of WTO and UNGAID dollars were going to these countries to "connect them to the web", and thousands of western Aid Workers, volunteers, etc., were carpetbagging to Africa to play a positive role, and earn a living, saving Africa from darkness.  (Fair Trade Recycling's 2016 EWaste Trading program is derivative).

Stereotype Souveniers: What Pokemon Go Tells us about Poverty Porn

SOUVENIERS! (snobbish for souvenirs)

If you are going to spend money and time to fly someplace, you want a "souvenier".  You want something of value that represents the fruit of your hunting and foraging.  It's probably evolved, like necklaces made of feathers or teeth of wild beasts we've conquered.

Pokemon Go gives people exotic looking cartoons when they walk about outside (or let's not kid ourselves, I'm sure people are driving as much as they are walking).  It's like a gold star or sticker on your 1st Grade homework assignment.

And if you are going to fly to an "exotic" place like Africa, or have recently, I'd challenge you to go back through your "chips of film" and see what you took photos of.  How many were people you know?  Of those people you don't know, what were you taking pictures of them doing?

If you have a time machine, and can go back to the 1960s and 70s in the Ozarks, people wanted pictures of "Hillbillies".  They had read about them, seen comics about them, and having made the trek and spent the vacation hours and bucks, they wanted pictures of hillbillies, dammit.

And before you could spell "cultural appropriation", underemployed actors from Chicago, St. Louis and "Hollywood" came and erected Vaudeville shows in Branson to meet demand...

Ozark hillbilly cultural appropriation?  Agbogbloshie's predecessors

Pikachus, Agbogbloshies, Child Labor, Elephants, Buddhist Monks.  If there is something like a flame or a sunset or something to add color to the photo, it's more post-worthy.  Among Pikachus, the cartoon colors are part of the attraction.

We don't need to be snobby about it.  It's too easy to juxtapose the tourist and the brown child and infer racism, tsk-tsk.  To be honest, if I deep sea dive, I sure want a photo of a lionfish or octopus, but if there's nothing but bare dusty sand I'll take a picture of a lost shoe.  We want to validate our steps, and it's natural, and there's genuinely good things to say about caring about wherever we go.

Another photojournalist portrays muddy Agbogbloshie.

Our Agbogbloshie gangleader Awal Muhammed Basit has arrived back to homeland capital Tamale this week, where he called Techician Kamaldeen Abdusalaam of Chendiba Enterprises.  They are both in their early 20s.  What they know about Western photographers is that if Awal shows how to remove screws, it attracts far fewer shots and film than if he sets a fire.  If Agence Presse (Montreal) is there, Awal quadruples the amount of lighter fluid for the fires.


Photography just can't become the basis of public policy if we don't understand what attracts our gaze.  We are all fish, pursuing fireworks and other shiny objects, or emotional ones.  Making up fake statistics about shiny fires can result in African TV repairpeople going to jail, and that should burn our eyebrows off.

Making a documentary about Mike Anane's propaganda to evict slum dwellers in Accra for an urban development, enlisting Western journalists with BAN.org's false claims of "80% recently dumped from your recycling program" is the worst form of journalism.  Trying to validate it because you feel like a sucker for flying down there isn't worthy of a trophy. #EwasteRepublic got credit just for leavening the fake story with some truth, taking pictures of normal African lives to go along with the 10 or 25 guys who burn wires in Ghana's version of the Baldknobber Show.

LaPresse hopefully paid Awal (left in Manchester United jersey) enough to compensate for the extremely extra amount of gasoline or lighter fluid he's using. The wires themselves don't emit enough "high flame" for photographers.  A tire with gasoline adds a little extra zest, more photojournalist "points".

The Baldknobbers - before the cartoon stereotype cultural appropriation - were an actual "thing".  It was a hooded vigilante group in Taney County Missouri, which would have quickly gone into the dustbin of history (along with the "anti-BaldKnobbers" which is actually a historical "thing" too) except for a 1919 Film about the "Shepherd of the Hills", which helped bring Ozarks Exoticness to USA City Theaters.  And the book by great uncle Elmo Ingenthron.


The truckdriver terrorism in #Nice06 is playing non-stop.  What I see is that crowds came to Nice to see the Bastille Day fireworks.  And an asshole in a truck killed about 85 people (out of several hundred thousands), effectively inserting himself into the shiny objects, potentially driving public policy, Scott Adams (blog) says, by causing a reaction to elect a "strongman" father figure.

The similarity between the redneck Ozark baldknobber masks and the traditional African Bamileke or Mankon masks I saw in Cameroon is probably appreciated by an incredibly small audience.  I'm enjoying the comparison.




Common Stereotypes - Defending and Embracing Working Roots

On vacation, at the Mediterranean.

When we went out for beer at the beach with a couple of my wife's cousins (people who were at our wedding here in southern France 26 years ago), I found myself trying to simplify my thoughts so that my French vocabulary would be less of a struggle.  My French isn't too bad "for an American truck driver".  But I admit I don't try as hard as I used to.  My wife and kids speak exclusively in French, but most of my vocabulary is now about reminding teenagers to clean up a mess in the kitchen.  It's not very philosophical stuff.

Anyway, when you're my age and you come to visit inlaws in France once a year, you wind up retelling and re-asking and re-recounting a lot of the same stuff anyway.  And one of the "small talk" topics is always whether I fit a stereotype of "American" based on the French news.

Picking The Wrong #ewaste "Underdogs" Part I


Happy 4th of July (from France).  Everyone here is talking about "underdogs" - though without a solid French translation. Different translations convey different assumptions.  Opprime is "oppressed", perdants is "losers". Sous-estime is "underestimated" (which works after the unexpected victory, in hindsight).

When Iceland beat England in the Euro Cup, and Wales beat Belgium, it was a surprise.  When Leicester City - facing elimination from the Premier League a year earlier - won the entire British Isles championship, the French sportscaster seemed to be missing a handle for the story.

Could 2016 be the Year of the Underdog?   One long-running theme of this Good Point: Ethical E-Waste Blog is our critical look at how #photojournalism can create, leverage, or ignore underdogs.  The audience of mankind is highly evolved to nurture the young and oppressed (what I call the Steve Pinker "nurture" instinct), which causes us to support scrappy underdogs vs. big corporations. Mass media is not an umpire - it's a player in the game.  Media controls who's perceived as worthy of nurture, and who's perceived as "imperialist" or "bully".  We nurture the oppressed, we root for the underdogs.  And when it's an obscure, technical, or foreign story, we depend on the media to tell us who the bullys and who the underdogs are.

Here's a kind of derivative take.  Mass media can create a "loser" who "wins" the underdog blessing. Being an underdog is a blessing of "moral currency". We see this in everyday society, people exaggerating their "rags to riches" history, the tourists' propensity to validate their "close encounter" with poverty.  And I need of course little excuse to repost the greatest comedic clip of all time, BBC's "The Four Yorkshiremen" sketch (pre-Monty Python's "Finally 1948" show).



So on July 4, Superpower USA reflects back on the scrappy 1776 Minutemen who overcame the King of England, the United Kingdom's rule.  Like Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo and Princess Leiah, a handful of colonies "against all odds" threw off the yoke of the 1700's greatest superpower, Great Britain.  Iceland, Bernie Sanders, Wales, Leicester City, and George Washington, the lovable underdogs.

The underdog card...