Africa: Droughts

Over the course of the last one hundred years the frequency and geographic dispersion of droughts has increased significantly on the African continent.

The Droughts in Africa from 1900 to 2009

Africa has been struggling with droughts for many years. Some countries there are facing enormous challenges. In a piece entitled, Kenyans eating wild animals as drought worsens, The Nairobi Chronicle, for example, reports that wild animals “face extinction by ending up on dinner tables as the worst drought in a generation takes its toll on a people impoverished by years of poor governance, corruption and political sterility.” Since 1950, Ethiopia, another drought-plagued country, has suffered more years with drought than without. How bad is the drought situation in Africa and will it get worse? This post will take a look at the drought-stricken African countries and regions  going back to 1900 and attempt to determine whether this data suggests any trends.

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Natural Disasters of the World

The frequency and intensity of natural disasters have been increasing. This poses both humanitarian and financial challenges; not to mention the question why?

Natural Disasters. Are They Increasing?

You don’t have to be a meteorologist, seismologist, or any other ologist to see that the frequency and intensity of natural disasters and extreme weather events seems to have significantly increased over the last few decades. Massive flooding from extreme precipitation; raging wildfires from prolonged droughts; monster hurricanes or super tsunamis or giant earthquakes all seem to have become much more common headlines over this time period. Continue reading “Natural Disasters of the World”

The People’s Water

The Clean and Dirty Reality of Water

If any resource can be used as the quintessential symbol for the quality of life on this planet, it would probably have to be water. In this sense, water is a measure of purity. Clean water brings salubrious thoughts to mind: Images of healthy living and mountain streams appear. Cascading waterfalls or tanned couples immersed in the crystal clear infinitude of faraway ResortLand. The idea of water in and of itself is refreshing; it invigorates the mind. Like sunlight, it is elemental and strikes a primeval chord within us. In the 19th Century, Thoreau wrote a piece about the mysterious light that seems to be forever present in bodies of water—even small ones. Continue reading “The People’s Water”

Prologue to Modern Folktales

Explains what modern folktales are and how they can help transcend many big problems facing the world. Also touches on the most common types of media stories.

“The world of our experiences seems chaotic, disconnected, confusing. There appear to be no integrating forces, no unified meaning, no true inner understanding of phenomena in our experience of the world. Experts can explain anything in the objective world to us, yet we understand our own lives less and less. In short, we live in the postmodern world, where everything is possible and almost nothing is certain.”

– Vaclav Havel Continue reading “Prologue to Modern Folktales”

Who or What are Contemporary Monsters?

Who are the monsters that contemporary, developed nations fear the most? A look at the ones we hear the most about nowadays.

The Quintessential Monster…is he real?

Wild eyes bulging out of a face squeezed into vertical ribbons of fury that stretched down to peel back the lips of a snarling mouth filled with gnashing yellow teeth. He stood wringing his blackened hands and stared at me with violent intent.

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Hunting the Terrorists — The Impact of Words on Actions

Implications can be very powerful tools. When the media hypes language using phrases, such as “hunting terrorists”, listeners should be concerned with the consequences. Not does this kind of phraseology raise ethical and moral questions but lays the groundwork for heavy-handed legislation down the road.

Connotations of Hunting Terrorists

In the Who or What are Contemporary Monsters? chapter, we provided a summary of the official U.S. rhetoric that was used to communicate why it was necessary to pursue the War on Terror. Before we turn to the question of who the terrorists are that threaten the U.S. and other—especially developed countries—it will be instructive to look at some of the specific government actions that have evolved out of this war. This will add an important dimension to our understanding of the terrorist monster, as he is symbolized in the Western mass media. By and large these actions are a logical extension of the heated rhetoric that was so well communicated in the years after the 9/11 attacks. Continue reading “Hunting the Terrorists — The Impact of Words on Actions”

Terrorist or Insurgent?

Where have all the terrorists gone? Seems like the longer the Global War on Terror continues, the less the western media refer to the other side as terrorists, preferring substitutes such as militants, insurgents, and bombers. This chapter delves into the metamorphosis.

Summary (The Terrorist as a Modern Monster)

This chapter will focus on the controversial debate over what the words “terrorist” and “terrorism” actually mean. What is meant, for instance, when the media or officials tell us we’re threatened by terrorists? Adding to the confusion, other words seem to be used almost interchangeably with terrorist or terror root words. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on, words, such as “insurgent” and “extremist”, are increasingly replacing “terrorists” in the lexicon of Western officials and news media. Continue reading “Terrorist or Insurgent?”

Preface: The Modern Monster, a Working Definition

The definition of a modern monster and an explanation how it evolved and what it means today. Do all members of a society fear monsters in the same way and to the same extent?

Monsters and Masters

As you read the following chapters about modern monsters, it might be helpful to keep these questions in mind: What does it mean to control society’s monsters? Are those who control society’s monsters better able to control society? What is the relationship between monsters and masters? Who defines whom? Continue reading “Preface: The Modern Monster, a Working Definition”