Food for Oil

Consultants like to tell their audience, "In Chinese, the character for crisis is the same as opportunity."

In the English dictionary, however, crisis is defined as "a point in a story or drama when a conflict reaches its highest tension and must be resolved."

While the Developed World frets over the current multi-nodal RealEstateSubPrimeFinancialMarketTradeDeficit crisis--which continues to suck the value out of most of America's larger financial assets--the rest of the developing world is again struggling to afford the basics, namely, food.

In this case, the Cyrilla [oil supply] and Charybdis [demand for crops] have the same source: the global race for energy.

Time's recent article, titled The Clean Energy Scam, desn't throw a monkey wrench into the machine behind biofuels as much as it points a finger at the rising world food costs and slash-n-burn behavior it has inspired in the Amazon.

A rebuttal from 25x25, a non-profit supported financially by the Energy Future Coalition, laments, "Unfortunately, the story's message of concern is undermined by misinformation about biofuels and an over-simplified analysis of complex systems."

The main law of complex systems remains: Small changes can have large, unpredictable effects.

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Food riots which have struck several impoverished countries could spread with shortages and high prices set to continue for some time, the head of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.


A combination of high oil and fuel prices, rising demand for food in a wealthier Asia, the use of farmland and crops for biofuels, bad weather and speculation on futures markets have pushed up food prices, prompting violent protests in a handful of poor states.

Jacques Diouf, director general of the Rome-based FAO, said on Wednesday during a trip to India that there was a growing risk of social instability in countries where families spent more than half their income on food.

"This is due to higher demand from countries like India, China, where GDP grows at 8-10 percent and the increase in income is going to food," Diouf said after meeting India's farm minister, Sharad Pawar.

Fontography of the Candidates

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The fonts that presidential candidates select for their campaign logos reflect an important act of political branding. Sam Berlow of The Font Bureau Inc. says the logos all speak volumes about the candidates they represent.

The Bush/Cheney was great. It just had that incredible NASCAR feel with the slanted sans serif saying, "We're going really fast. Hang on." If you look at Hillary’s campaign, it’s really a throwback to Reagan and Bush. It has that feeling of old typography from the '70s and '80s. It’s serif. It’s sort of highwaisted, as if the lower case, the pants had been pulled up too high. It feels sort of like a bad Talbots suit. Doesn't quite fit right.

Well, there are several oddities about the Huckabee design. The six stars that sort of floating down like snowflakes are a bit odd, and the swash that reminds me of Coca-Cola. And then there’s this yellow element in the type. - I Am Kenyan

Via Ethan Zuckerman:

A new project by David Kobia and crew, encouraging Kenyans around the world to transcend their tribal identity and affirm their identity as Kenyans. An interesting response to the difficulties of keeping message boards sane during the crisis.
Kobia also coordinated, a site that integrates GoogleMaps and SMS for citizens to report incidences of Riots, Deaths, Property Damage, Government Forces, Civilians, Looting, Rape, Peace.

It also has a running timeline of events, making it a powerful tool to trace the violence. Unfortunately, with some much violence involving so many impoverished people, this can't begin to give transparency to the chaos.

Although I am a Southern, American, white, suburban kid, I was born in Kenya and have carried hope and romance for this beautiful, passionate piece of the earth in my heart.

Cherry Blossoms: Mapping the City of Bombs

Discovered via the post "You Don't Understand Our Audience" by Dateline reporter John Hockenberry on
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Cherry Blossoms is a backpack that uses a small microcontroller and a GPS unit. Recent news of bombings in Iraq are downloaded to the unit every night, and their relative location to the center of the city are superimposed on a map of Boston. If the wearer walks in a space in Boston that correlates to a site of violence in Baghdad, the backpack detonates and releases a compressed air cloud of confetti, looking for all the world like smoke and shrapnel. Each piece of confetti is inscribed with the name of a civilian who died in the war, and the circumstances of their death.

Alyssa Wright began working on Cherry Blossoms last semester, wondering how to think about — and feel about — the civilian war deaths in Baghdad. Alyssa’s genius was in sacrificing herself. After all, it’s not an easy piece to perform. You don’t know when it’s going to blow. It’s shocking and loud, and one has no sense of how others will react. Of course, she won’t get hurt by the compressed air, but she might well be confused for a suicide bomber (or, more appropriately, a mooninite) and arrested.

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Stasi Chic

When I lived and traveled in Eastern Europe after the Berlin Wall came down, I was captivated by the interior design of utilitarian minimalism that pervaded the former East Bloc.

Whether in Slovakia or Bulgaria or Moscow, there was something so ubiquitous and clean about the architecture of dictatorship.

From We Make Money Not Art:

Daniel & Geo Fuchs have documented the architectural legacy left by the former GDR’s Ministry for State Security (Stasi), the main security and intelligence organization of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

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The Stasi had nearly 90,000 official workers and 170,000 unofficial collaborators in a country with a population of 16 million. The organization was dissolved 18 years later, yet some of these sites have remained practically as they were.

The photographs show the rooms that the Stasi used to interrogate prisoners; prison cells for political prisoners; the offices of the minister for State Security; bunkers; and the files stored by the Stasi Documentation Office in Berlin - endless stacks of protocols generated by control and espionage, division and corruption – witnesses of the total control of a regime that clung to power for over 40 years.

The images are on show at La Virreina in Barcelona until July 1. Images.