On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points. Woolf
- Antonio Hirsch, World Map
An article caught my eye this morning on Governmentinthelab, by Daniel Berhane, The subject, the statistical relevance is representative of the continued refusal to renegotiate ancient relationships between what essentially makes up the developed world, the former colonies, and the Greater Incorporated Commonwealth of Whitey, Roy, and Viceroy.
It describes a report by Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2011: The Authoritarian Challenge to Democracy, ranking African nations on some gradient of ‘free’ ‘partly free’ and ‘not free.’ I can’t elaborate much more on what the authors purported to resolve with their study’s summation. A critic cited within the article wastes no time attacking Freedom House as oblique:
“…its near-Manichaean characterization of countries as free, partially-free and not free.”
The real problem is not that the terms are too generic, but that the report is more of the same answers towards sufficiently describing the problem, a process never capable of exacting change unto itself.
In South Africa they wait hours in lines for AZT, with other Sub-Suharan nations which are often unable to keep the condom dispensers full through the day they are filled. As with the “twitter revolutions,” Africans do not need us to tell them they are a trodden-on people.
Africa, (the Confederation of variously Coincident Euphemisms); Southeast Asia, much of Oceania; South America, Central America: Flint, MI….no time recently were any of them glimmering Golden(brown) Boys, and now shock us with inexplicable collapse.
We already expect to be talking about abject poverty and health concerns–think of the shots, quinine, other preparations required for certain overseas travel–the Media delivers the suffering, swept from our doorstep, gathered in neat packages of bitter Dickensian tragedy, paired with patronizing cultural pastiche. We gawk at their squalor and have the nerve to buy their silence with “philanthropy.’ No mystery.
I don’t want to shove this down anyone’s throat.
But, while you’re here– Look at these various, essentially randomly-queried google images, maps of global colonialism, global AIDS, other stuff. The first is from 1910–
Let a man get up and say, “Behold, this is the truth,” and instantly I perceive a sandy cat filching a piece of fish in the background. Look, you have forgotten the cat, I say.
Virginia Woolf Bernard in The Waves
Much of the globe is oppressed by desperate need. Nearly 2 million children under 14 years old are HIV positive in sub-Saharan Africa alone, many of whom are part of the 12 to 16 million orphaned by HIV infected parents.
With ARVs and decent primary care, and early diagnosis, there is very little need that infected EVER has to mean symptomatic.
We have applied the boot, and are describing the tread.
This is a beautiful realization: we’ve described the problem sufficiently. For the hope, let’s try countermanding. We can be about the business of healing this history-old lie that you and I are different.
“All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are ‘sides,’ and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly ornamental pot.”
— Virginia Woolf
Operation Asylum is a network-building initiative whose motivating and all-peremptory concern is the identification and protection of “at-risk” foreign nationals abroad; especially regarding migrants, students, expatriates and other transitory individuals whose homeland conditions warrant they be granted asylum status under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
Our aim is to utilize already established frameworks for managing distributed resources, via Grid Computing, to
1. prevent corruption of valuable data for remote users who are in especially dire need of reliable information (when their access is usually most vulnerable);
2. encourage and enable continual extension of grid access with an eye towards hard-wiring into the periphery of the Web as a general purpose auxiliary, should native access be compromised.
Operation Asylum started as a brainstorming session among a half-dozen or so people in a “Tinychat” room, in discussion without much confident direction.
The question being ganged-up-on: How do we help an unknown (relatively small) number of Libyan nationals studying abroad, who faced imminent (I thought) deportation and ensuing persecution and/or forced conscription into the Libyan regular army. A chance personal reference (only describable as stark serendipity, really) introduced the project to Joanne Michele, women’s/human rights activist (likely Jedi), and she served to calm immediate panic about looming, imminent deportation.
This allowed for thought and planning of long term solutions that might keep these expeditionary scholars where they -belong–in our colleges and universities, learning, being a part of discovery, adapting our knowledge systems and their appended ethos to a better fit of our deeply social proclivities.
We talk about this a lot, it could work.