"From an American security point of view, it's not that reassuring to find a single male Palestinian with no hand luggage, traveling alone. I'm guessing Mossad has a file on me. It probably says I'm a bit of a troublemaker, and it almost definitely says I'm lying about who my real father is."
Abie Philbin Bowman's comedy hit from last year's Edinburgh festival comes to the Arts Theatre in London this week...
I went to hear Dave Eggers in conversation with Valentino Achak Deng at the ICA this evening. It was wonderful, moving and sad and funny.
Deng was one of the Lost Boys in Sudan. After his town was pillaged by militias, he got separated from his family and joined 4000 or so other young boys on a walk to Ethiopia. Some were ate by lions. Others shot. Others just died of hunger. After 3 years in a refugee camp there, Ethiopian militias turned on the boys and drove them out again. So they walked to Kenya. 10 years later, Deng and some 3000 others were taken to the US. He met Eggers; 'What is the What' is the 'fictional autobiography' of Deng's life. I can't recommend it highly enough.
One of the questions after the talk was about how much of him is in the book, and how much is Deng, and whether there was a theme running through his work. He commented quickly that he didn't think there was, in particular, and that he had tried to be as 'invisible as possible' in What is the What.
In some ways I'd like to disagree: I think there is a theme. HBOSG is essentially a work of the ego. It is about him-Self,
about getting to know the Self, if you will. His second book 'You Shall Know Our Velocity' tells the story of a suddenly rich American guy going to Africa with the naive intention of giving money to the poor - a project that spirals into disaster, and his own death. And now we have 'What is the What'.
My thoughts? That the trajectory of his writing has been, having examined the Self, putting the Self to death, and disappearing into the service of the other. And that's good enough for hero status for me.
Please buy What is the What. All the money is going back to Deng's town to build a Secondary School and a Library. And please visit his site to find out what you can do to put pressure on governments to act to stop the violence in Sudan and Darfur in particular.
"Blogs,” [Oliver Kamm] wrote, “typically do not add to the available stock of commentary: they are purely parasitic on the stories and opinions that traditional media provide.” In The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland pointed out that the abusive, vitriolic nature of many blogs had turned the blogosphere into a “claustrophobic environment, appealing chiefly to a certain kind of aggressive, point-scoring male — and utterly off-putting to everyone else.”
I'd have to agree. Perhaps you find this one no different, but I find too many blogs way too low on content, and way too high on 'scoring' posts that just seem to be trying to attract stats.
"With the customised access and search capabilities, individuals can arrange to read only news and analysis that align with their preferences. Individuals empowered to screen out material that does not conform to their existing preferences may form virtual cliques, insulate themselves from opposing points of view, and reinforce their biases."
Last Sunday saw the start of a 3 part documentary series called 'The Trap'. It is by Adam Curtis, the guy who brought us the award-winning 'The Power of Nightmares - The Rise of the Politics of Fear.'
The Trap is very much in the same style - wonderful archive footage and superbly scripted voiceover. This time his thesis is that the 'freedom' that Western democracy has brought us is actually a much narrower thing than we are led to believe. Rather, as a result of Game Theory that arose during the Cold War, we are encouraged to see that being highly suspicious of one another is our best strategy.
The first part was one of the best pieces of television I've ever seen. Dumbing down this isn't. Catch it on repeat if you can, and book in Sunday night at 9pm on BBC2 to get the next installment.
Taking 'Social Networking' and web trust networks to a whole new level Zopa is a platform for investors and borrowers to get together, totally by-passing the main-stream banking networks.
You can invest a small amount each month by direct debit, or a larger lump sum. By spreading your investment around they minimize the risk of no return, and actually speculate very good rates of return.
Why invest here? Because this is about your money helping to get projects off the ground that the High Street Banks won't touch. And because it's effectively peer-to-peer you can track exactly what your money is doing. Faceless finance this isn't.
The church has a good history of setting up local Credit Unions to help those with little access to mainstream financial services. I wonder if the Zopa concept could be the Credit Union for the Emerging generation?