Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This one is short and sweet as I am in an internet cafe on borrowed time. Jane, the new MBA, has arrived and she has taken my room at the lodge. I've been moved to Lush Suites Hotel about a 6 minute drive from lodge. It's not bad, considering. I have a working tv with 5 working channels, including CNN and MTVbase and consistent power. On the other hand, the hot water heater in my room doesn't work, the wireless internet they said they had is, of course, not functioning, thus why I'm in an internet cafe down the block. They also forgot to give me a towel which made showering a bit tricky, but I have the towels I packed so I guess that's a plus...Don't know, I think I'm just getting tired of the really spectacularly shitty service that seems to be the norm in this country. Like I've discussed with my teammates, I have little to be upset about if folk would just be straight up. Don't tell me you have wireless when it's been inoperable for three days. Don't tell me you have hot water when you don't. And, please, don't charge me a premium price non-existent amenities. I know the internet thing is not the hotel's fault, but it becomes more tiresome the closer I get to home...

So, a lot of my work is ending...I got our files organized into a semi-organized hierarchy, although I'm still lacking random stuff from varied team memebers but I figure once I'm gone, they can just add them to the existing structure. On a more exciting end, I may be speaking to a group of planning students at UniCal about my experiences working in Nigeria. One of the profs I work with invited me, assuming they call of their strike before I leave, of course. And I have my first official duty! I get to attend the public presentation of the economic impact study of this past year's christmas carnival celebration. It's slated to be a rip-roaring 4 hour event where there will be guest speakers talking about the christmas festival and economic impacts...why this has to be a 4 hour event I don't know. I also don't know why there are like 3 guest speakers, an entry procession, and opening and closing prayer, but I guess if you're gonna do it, then do it big. So, being the "academic liaison" it is my solmn duty to attend this thing as an official representative of the project. I plan on comitting ritual seppuku at the beginning of the second hour in protest for attempting to make a grand public event out the publishing of an annual economic impact study.

Although, I do hope the strike gets called off so I can talk with the students. I'm really curious to hear what future planners have to think about Nigeria. I mean, all I can offer is my own frustration and belief in Nigeria's potential. But, honestly, it seems like everyone from other countries always say that. I'm tired of hearing people, foreign and Nigerian, blowing smoke up everyone's collective ass. The government here, at nearly all levels, suffers from endemic corruption that prevents basic services from reaching the people, does not address the issues of poverty, educational attainment, and myriads of other social measures that they are trying to address. It's time for the model to change.

All of which is very easy for me to say, considering I'm leaving in ten days and don't have to work within the system with all of its attending bullshit and political games. Sigh...it's just a hell of a position to be in. I want to talk with those folk and hear them and try and offer what little I can without coming off as being condescending or colonial. Although, I doubt the profs will be off strike by the time I'm gone, so the point is probably moot. Anyways, I'm out. my time is about up here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Of Fish Farms and Urine

Aus and I got invited to Auqa Vista Resort and Farm last night in Calabar South. It is run by Mfon Essang and Dr. Umoh, one of our premier stakeholder members. Aus and Jess have both been telling me about Aqua Vista since I landed in CRS. Mfon treated us to dinner, a little tour, and a lot of conversation last night. It was a lot of fun. The resort is a combination resort/restaurant/fish farm/tour operator. Calabar, like most of CRS, is pretty much a huge tributary. The Calabar river is the major water source, but with the ocean less than an hour away, the entire area is a hodge podge of rain forest to the north, saltwater marshes and mangroves around Calabar, and coast farther south. Aqua Vista was built on an old salt water marsh and the constructucted a series of rivulets around the resort that carry the tidal water that flows through the area. As a result, the offer boat tours all the way to the ocean when the tide is in, which is actually quite amazing when you consider the river is nearly half an hour away by boat, and the ocean nearly an hour or so by water. Unfortunately, when the tide is out, the river dries up entirely leaving a thick, ugly black mud that smells a bit. To solve this, they are a digging a channel that will connect with a smaller river that will keep the water level constant, regardless of the tide.

In addition to their own river system, the resort has five fish growing ponds. Each pond is maybe by 10x15 yards and seem to be no more than 4 or 5 feet deep. Unsurprisingly, they grow primarily Tilapia. As readers of the blog probably know, I have a bit of a minor obsession with aquaculture and fish farming so I was geeking out while talking to Mfon. In addition to Tilapia, they grow two other species and are experimenting with a local fish. I can't remember the name as it was something long and fairly unpronounceable in Efik, but Mfon told me it is well muscled and an active fish that enjoys jumping. The operation is not big enough but they do have plans to exapnd the farm into a full scale commerical farm in the future in addition to building more lodgings along their river route all the way to the sea.

Dinner was a spicy grilled Tilapia from the farm, covered in slice onion and tomato, along with some french fries, ketchup, and a hot sauce. It was one of the tastiest meals I've had in a long, long time. While eating, Dr. Umoh arrived and joined us and we had a pretty fruitful discussion. Aus and Dr. Umoh and Mfon mainly talked shop for most of the time but the conversation soon expanded to general plans for the resort and about Nigeria, in general. I mentioned how when they expand they could very easily supply many of the restaurants and hotels with exceptionally fresh fish and employ a decent number of local people. I also talked about possibly exploiting the silt from the bottom of their ponds and selling it or using it as a fertilizer if they were to ever to look into cultivating their own crops.

The discussion proved enlightening on quite a few topics. It convinced me all the more that this country requires intense institutional reform if it were to ever really live up to its awesome potential. Mfon and the Dr were explaining to me how it is impossible to get long term financing and how banks will charge, on average, between 22 and 25% on short term loans of 2-3 years. Thus making it impossible to to do any kind of big projects, needlessly slowing down development. Combine that with the endemic corruption that makes doing business unnecessarily costly and the lack of infrastructure, due to a mixture of incompetence, lack of funding, and corruption and you have the perfect recipe for getting nothing done. I mentioned how it was our hope and goal that after we are gone that CRQ will act as an organizing agent of private business owners that will eventually help to push through some reform with the weight of their influence...or that's the hope. Whatever happens, organzing is key.

On an unrelated note, ran into a neat little post on ecogeek about this chemist at Ohio University who has figured out a way to get hydrogen from urine using a quarter of the electricity it takes to remove hydrogen from water. I love seeing little things like this. It's a combination of imagination, basic research, and applicability to current problems that makes this solution, to me at least, extremely elegant. makes me wish I had the head for such things, like playing with urine all damn day...anyways, I pray folk have a decent day. back home in 2 weeks...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

lagos, work, and chinese renewables

Lot of random stuff on my mind and some housecleaning and updating to do...so here it goes.

Flew back from Lagos sunday night. Jess and I had a 4:45 flight but because of traffic our driver didn't pick us up until 3:10. As I mentioned earlier it takes 2 hours to get ANYWHERE in Lagos so Jess and I were sure we would miss check in and the flight. Our driver drove like the proverbial bat out of hell...not sure how many people he cut off or how he managed to lay on the horn for an hour straight, but he got us to the airport at 4:05, just in time for jess and I to make check in and board. We gave him and N8,000 tip for the weekend and for getting us to the airport.

While the trip was pleasant overall, I don't really ever plan on spending a lot of time in Lagos again. The nightlife was cool, but there are only so many smoky lounges playing loud dancehall before you've seen a decent bit of what that particular scene has to offer. But the traffic, the overwhelming poverty, the high prices, the filth in the streets...it's, quite honestly, a depressing place to be. It felt good to be back in Cross River State.

Progress on the professor workshop and stakeholder workshop/discussion is going at a decent clip. Aus came to me yesterday asking about plans for the workshop and I gave him a very rough sketch of what we have planned. A 4-6 hour conference talking about the structure of our proposed DMO etc...and that I figured we could have a 2 hour session in the morning, lunch, then a 2 or 3 hour session in the afternoon with time for additional discussion. Well, he informs me that we can't provide lunch because it is not in the budget so he suggested blocking out lunch time and telling people to go get food and then split up and have them come back in the later day. I tried to explain that I didn't think it was fair to the participants nor very polite, really, but he continued to tell me we don't have budgeting room and he has to submit the budget on wednesday so to make something happen. Well, I discussed it with Jess this morning who kindly informed me that she's the one who actually writes up the budget and that because the workshop is next month, our monthly wire has yet to be determined. So it is all very possible to budget for a lunch, especially considering the total price for it would be around 250 dollars or so. So, I don't know what to make of it...but I'm more than a bit upset. Little shit like this just makes my working day unnecessarily tedious. So, I'm not gonna worry about Aus and just do what I was gonna do.

Also, half of my proposed work is now officially shelved. I've been working on organizing the mounds of documents we have into a logical document and folder tree, eventually to be used in a web portal where our stakeholders can go and find necessary information. The ultimate goal is to use the info in this portal to make a website where travel agents and customers could order tourist packages and the like. Well, the original document portal idea has been shelved by our boss due to connectivity issues in the country. So, my jobs now entail getting this workshop finalized and data entry...I've only got 2 and a half weeks left in country, but I am starting to feel increasingly useless. And, honestly, I have more than enough stuff back in the states to worry about that I hate feeling like I'm spinning my wheels, but it is what it is. I'll finish what I can.

Onto happier things...like trade disputes and renewable energy!! Like any good planner, I'm big into thinking about energy and how to better use renewables. The times has an article looking at the Chinese starting to maneuver itself as a leader in renewable energy. Now, overall, I think this is a good thing. China is, along with the US, a global leader in carbon emissions, primarily from their use of massive, dirty coal-powered power plants. So, any serious consideration of renewables is fantastic news, environmentally. But what pisses me off is that, once again, China is playing dirty pool. They were allowed into the WTO in 2001 but they have yet to sign key provisions regarding government provision. Because many of the leading energy companies submitting bids for the increased investment in renewables in the country are, in fact, government owned, they've gotten blatant deferential treatment, so much so that zero foreign companies won any bids to produce wind turbines on large projects. Of course, the government came up with a mutltitude of reasons to reject these bids, but I find it hard to believe that many European wind companies, that have been in business for decades and have gone out of their way to build plants in China in order to do business there, were totally incapable of meeting the bid requirements set by the government.

I'm not an ardent free trader, but being a student of neoclassical economics, this strikes me as not just unfair but poor policy. For one, Chinese wind turbine quality, as noted in the article, is not that great compared to foreign made turbines, because they spend so much time being repaired. In addition, the national policy to encourage utilities to use renewable power does not have a requirement for power generation, so all utilities have to do is put up some shitty wind turbines, give the estimated amount of power they should be producing and then continue on as they always have. So, it's a double blow for the use of renewables.

On the other end, I really wonder when other countries will finally stand up to China. Actions like this require they be kicked out of the WTO or the WTO should demand they respect all of the rules that every other member does. Either that, or countries should follow suit. In the long run, everyone so aggressively protecting their own industries will start to lose out, or so economic theory claims. Either way, the result will be higher prices for energy all around. I don't have a major issue with China being out for China. What do I have issue with is China claiming to be a member of these large institutions like the WTO and then deliberately subverting them by ignoring the rules and making it hard for legitimte business to be conducted. If you want to only have it be domestic, fine, but stop lying to these foreign firms so you can grab technology and then bounce. Also, I need foreign firms to stop doing business there. They know the Chinese play dirty. They always have. But the savings on labor and the potential size of the market are too valuable to ignore. China has played this game very well for the past 30 years and I don't see them changing, but it really irks me that they always have to be so hamfisted and blatantly dishonest, and it pisses me off that foreign companies continue to do business there because it's cheaper, even though many of them screwed in the long run. I don't want to advocate for a trade war, especially in the midst of a global recession, but at some point eithe the US or the EU is going to have to take a hard line on these practices.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fela Kuti and fury

We stopped by the Africa Shrine today. The Africa Shrine is the performing space that Fela Kuti built back in the 70s. Kuti was an ardent political activist in a time when Nigeria was ruled by a military junta as well as being an aredent supporter of pan-africanism. He is one of the huge cultural heroes of Nigeria and of pan-africanists as a whole. The shrine was interesting and dissapointing. It is an open air space with a corrugated tin roof that looks like it could seat a few hundred people, with a large stage at one end and a bar and elevated seating on the opposite end of the space. There are portraits of Fela and other performers who have come to the shrine and a bunch of signs with little aphorisms and proverbs that celebrate African unity and warning against AIDS. I would have gotten some nice pictures but the people who hang out at the shrine are not the type who would take kindly to being photographed. Everyone in there was smoking incredibly strong marijuana and there was a steady stream of people who came through, would buy a spliff or dime bag, drink a beer and then leave after an hour or two. It's a bit sad to see a spot of such cultural importance that is falling apart, a den for small time dealers, and filthy. It is what it is, I guess. Ak was able to get a set of 8 discs, part of the 40 disc Kuti discography and a tshirt, so the trip was not a total wash and it was an educational experience.

The trip back was a bit more traumatic for me. I now understand a little more why people would blow themselves up and kill everyone in the sight of the excess and callousness of the ruling elite. We drove through the suburb where we are staying, a monument to artchitectural gaudiness and excess, contrasted with a poverty that is absolute and heartbreaking. But today was the first time I was able to view much more of the neighborhood in the full glare of sunlight. There are homes here that are 20 room mansions, with plaster friezes desgined to look like european chateaus that have adjoining plots where squatters live in squat shacks, standing water, and surrounded by trash. The contradiction is surreal and heartbreaking. But I have seen poverty before. Back home and now in three different countries. I have driven and walked through slums. Seen one and two room shacks that house multiple families. Deprivation and want no longer really surprise me, they mainly engender sympathy and the desire to try and do something about it. But today was truly the first time I have ever felt fury. I use the word deliberately. It was not anger or disgust, but a mixture of the two that was greater than the sum of its parts. It was at once cold and white hot...such poverty, such clear want, amidst such extravagance and empty excess...I felt that I wanted to shatter the large windows, smash the plaster angels and cherubs that adorn the walls, and burn the very foundations of these homes and the people within them.

We're going out again tonight. I shall try and have a good time.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lagos- part 1

Flew out yesterday afternoon in a rainstorm, flight was bumpy beyond belief. Doesn't seem to matter how often I fly, I always believe I'm gonna look up from my book right as our plan hits a mountain and see a wall of flame, steel, and body parts flying at me before an intense searing pain and then merciful silence...well, now that the pleasant stuff is out of the way. Lagos is one of the world's "megacities" with a population in the tens of millions, it is a massive sprawling beast of humanity. And that's really the first thing you feel when you step out of the airport here, that this place is packed to the gills. The trip from the airport to our hotel should take about a half hour, door to door, but it averages 2 hours. I have never in my life experienced traffic of the level that they have here. At 8 oclock at night there was still rush hour traffic from Victoria Island, one of the higehr end business and residential centers that connect to the rest of Lagos mainland. We were dirving against the grain and it still took us nearly 20 minutes to cross the brdige from the mainland to the island, while for those leaving the island just crossing the bridge can take up to two hours. Clearly, transportation is an issue. Also, unfortunately, the infrastructure here is only slightly better than what you find throughout the rest of the country, with miles of dark streetlights, pothole-ridden holes and people constantly panhandling and begging by the side of the road.

We're staying in a nice suburb of sorts on Victoria Island which is a mixture of really high end condos and smaller hotels. It looks like something you would find in southern Florida. Of course, all of the properties are ringed by 10 feet cement walls, topped by razor wire or crushed glass, that front dirt roads filled with standing water. And it's this neighborhood that so effectively illustrates the paradox of a lot of Nigeria...there is a lot of money that moves through this country, but corruption has literally bled the country dry. Here this is a wealthy suburb area, with large houses, boutique hotels, and an endless array of luxury trucks driving about, but people still run power by gens, the water is not drinkable, and the side roads aren't paved or even well drained. Everything is about flamboyance, and getting yours. And this attitude is evident in most of what you see. You have shiny corporate offices on main thoroughfares that are essentially undriveable either because the potholes are 2 feet deep or the traffic is so bad that driving to the office takes 2-4 hours depending on where you start. Or you have a country that is one of the world's leading oil produccers but because some old men control the industry, Nigeria is also an importer of all refined petroleum products. The people of nigeria go through about 15 million gallons of diesel a day, primarily for automobile and generator use, and yet Nigeria doesn't produce a million of gallons of diesel or petroleum a month...

All that aside, this city is wild. Jess's friend Ak took us to this spot called the Sol Lounge, a small-ish lounge in the city packed with folk, loud music, and expensive drinks. It was pretty fun. Now, as most of you know, I have little to no fashion sense, and I packed for three days, so my choice for clothes is already extremely limited, so I was looking slightly less scruffy than usual. Once again, I was the worst dressed person in the room. Everyone was out in the nines, dropping 5 and 10 thousand Naira on drinks like it was going out of style. There were a lot of really attractive younger women with much older men. Ak informed us that about 95% of the men there were married and not there with their wives...Fun spot.

Heading to one of the larger malls today, maybe check out a museum or two. I'll update when I can.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

jobs addendum

Alright, thanks to Benton and Christine I was able to find that damnable dept of labor report looking at the effectiveness of the "Adults" and "Displaced Worker" programs of the Workforce Investment Act. A study cited by the nytimes article I commented on the other day. The basic conclusion of the report, looking at the Displaced Worker retraining programs do indeed show little to no positive gain, in aggregate, although there are differences in effectiveness among states.

What annoys me about the article though is that it looks at job retraining programs within a vaccuum and assumes that policymakers advance jobs retraining as the only option, especially without "job creation" legislation. It's a ridiculous and inaccurate notion, especially considering that the article uses the stimulus package additional funding for job retraining as a line of attack against retraining programs. The entire goal of the stimulus package is to help create jobs.

But my main beef with the article and, to a lesser extent, the authors of the study is that I don't think they're necessarily addressing the right issue. Yes we should get an idea of whether job retraining programs are working especially for displaced workers, who are generally older, better educated and white, in other words, middle class. And, by definition, displaced workers permanently lose their old jobs. That's an entire sub-section of work that no longer exists. So, the question is modified when looking at retraining effectiveness. The question is now modified when looking at these class of workers. The first conccern is getting displaced workers back into work. The second concern is in getting these workers back into a job that was the equivalent of their former job. So getting folk a good job. The study, and the article, don't address that question at all. And honestly, it's one of the ass backwards aspects of labor policy. Due to the loss of a huge chunk of our manufacturing sector, a good portion of the population that was making good money no longer is and there are not many jobs available to replace those jobs.

It is not just the fact that displaced workers are losing jobs, it's the fact that even with retraining tere aren't enough jobs, especially in the current recession, that could adequately absorb these people with their experience and training, anyway. The result? People either leave training early, get any old job they can regardless of how much it pays, or they wait. It's the combination permanently losing jobs and a lack of jobs being created that dampen much of the potential effectiveness of training.

The article is very right about one thing, though. Training can't work without job creation. It's for that reason we need to get to work on a national industry plan, increased stimules spending, and trying to work on properly placeing and educating people into positions that are available and make good money.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

bit of this, bit of that

Just got back from getting a shampoo and my hair replaited, all for 800 Naira, that's like 7 dollars...so a pretty sweet deal. The past two days have been a combination of busy and mindnumbingly boring. Jess and I are heading out to Lagos on Friday, so we've been scrambling to get a decent price on tickets. We finally were able to book them online through the airline, but that required us going to the airport to pick up a special airport issued debit card, going to a bank to load the amount of the ticket on the debit card, then going back to the office to book the tickets online using said special debit card. It's about the most ass backwards way of going about it, but we saved nearly 200 dollars total so that's a plus.

On the incredibly mindnumbing end of things, I have to redo one of my primary tasks for amy assignment, organzing the "work files" of the project thus far. I did about 95% of that work my first two weeks here, organizing the files into what I thought was a pretty logical document tree, only to have my immediate superior come to me yesterday with a brand new document skeleton and say he wants lit like this...after some tense discussion he got his way. I have little energy to discuss anything with someone who's always confident that what they want is the right thing. So, after explaining to him that simply making a document tree is not the same as organzing a webpage, he agreed to a couple of minor changes but kep the majority of the tree. So, I'm currently rearranging the 2 gigs worth of documents and shit we have in the files. And that, of course, does not include the other documents on other computers dealing with the most recent aspects of the project....bout ready to slam my head into a brick wall for a few hours.

Also, the rainy season is well and truly here. Internet was killed yesterday throughout most of the city due to the storms. Cause the infrastructure here is so bad most of the internet here is done through satellite and the storm helped kill a lot of connection. On the bright side, the tourism bureau finally has consistent power! Truly, I have come to appreciate the little things. Consistent power, clean water, and food that won't make you vomit. Do you ever need anything more?

Monday, July 6, 2009

stuff keeps happening

When I can get internet I like to update myself on the news, and given that I spent most of last week in an information blackhole this weekend was particularly exciting. Palin's resignation and rumored indictment of embezzlement, Obama's trip to Russia and other events just continue to happen. It's exciting in a way to catch up on all of it, but I'm spoiled by the instant access to info that I normally get in the states. Lot of stuff going on, though.

First, the Palin thing. This seems to be some kind of republican political free-fall year. If I didn't have such faith in the venality and hypocrisy of many within the GOP I would think that it was part of some grand plan on their part...I am glad she's stepping down and I hope these rumored indictments come down and she's found guilty. It's a shitty way to view a fellow human being but she's everything that's wrong with our political system. The woman is a walking caricature of the American Grotesque. The uneducated and proud of it, gun loving, hypocritical, jingoistic American that people in other countries like to tout as the norm. Her downfall will give hopefully gives brief respite from her on the national stage and maybe the citizens of Alaska can get someone less awful in their statehouse.

Another interesting little article I found earlier today was an article in the new york times questioning the effectiveness of job retraining programs. I am starting to understand more why natural and physical scientists hate the vast majority of science reporting done today. The article's main thrust is that jobs retraining is basically gambling. It makes one or two decent qualifications, mainly that retraining can't work without job growth, a no brainer and that's something that the stimulus plan is trying to address, and that shorter retraining programs often don't pay off because they don't give their participants truly essential, new skills. The second part is a more specific and legitimate critique but I feel the main thrust of the article was a bit off. There are very few if any states that only push jon retraining as the answer. Even in Michigan, where the article focuses on, while retraining is in high demand the state is trying to encourage job growth in other industries and, as I mentioned earlier, the stimulus plan should help to stimulate job growth over the next year. Also, as an aside, the article mentions a dept of labor study looking at retraining but does not provide a link or reference, bad show nytimes, you can do better. I'm gonna find this report and take a look at it. But as someone studying development, I feel they give job training a short shrift and focusing only on Michigan as an example certainly skews the data. So, to my all biologists, chemists, and pharmacologists that have their studies mangled by the media, I feel you.

Supposed to be heading to Lagos at some point later this week. I'm excited. Jess and I are staying at one of her former classmate's apartment, he kindly offered to put us up and take us around. So, I'm gonna see what kind of debauchery and fun the big city can offer. Also, I had to take my hair out, currently trying to find a spot that'll give me a good shampoo and replait...wish me luck...


Realized I did what I criticized the times for. Here is the link to the jobs training article if you can't find it: Job Retraining May Fall Short of High Hopes

Also, cannot find the damn report they mention. the dept of labor's website is a piece of shite


Palin is apparently not being investigated for a rumored embezzlement scheme, according to the FBI in Alaska. Makes her move all the more perplexing now.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

it's the little things...

Sorry I have been ghost for a little bit, and forgive the following rant.

The tourism bureau is officially FUBAR. We've had no power at all this week. The bureau, as I earlier mentioned, had their gen break down and they've not been able to get a replacement. But they're also connectd to the city power grid, managed by NEPA, the national power company. Of course, NEPA doesn't know how to run their fucking grid, part of the reason why anyone with remotely consistent power runs everything off of gens here. As a result, I've been without power and internet during the day for most of the week, shooting off business emails in the 15-30 minute time spans when NEPA decides to give us power. It makes work stressful. Thank god this week has been relatively rainy and cool, otherwise staying in the office would be totally unbearable.

So, without power at the office we've moved to the Metropolitan hotel to use their power and steal their internet. Of course, the Metro's internet connection seems to invariably fail around noon each day, so I end up with about as much internet access as I would get if I would stay in the office anyway. So, I've spent most of my days sitting on a couch in this hotel lobby waiting for someone to throw me some work and drinking obscenely priced cokes.

To add insult to injury, I had to drop over N2000, nearly 20 dollars on a shitty breakfast at the Metropolitan this morning because the lodge had no fuel to make breakfast this morning. Of course, no one informed us so I took my malaria meds as I normally do, expecting food at my normal breakfast. So, no breakfast, and a belly full of malaria medication that makes me incredibly nauseated if I don't follow with some food...Needless to say, it's been a shitty week, capped off by a shittier morning.

All of which brings me to my actual point, it's the little things that count. I am perfectly willing to work in an area with little to no power and little to no internet access. That's something one can prepare for and adjust for. What I cannot take is having power and internet and then having it taken away and have no one seem to care at all. And that is probably something that is the most frustrating of working here. You read the newspapers, watch the news, listen to the politicians and you would think nothing at all was wrong with Nigeria. Sure, the country is relatively poor and the economy not great but they're making adjustments, everything else is fine. When you mention the lack of power, the expensive prices for everything, lack of internet and the like and people wanna look at you like your crazy. On what planet do these leaders live on? Most people working here and who own businesses see that Nigeria can't grow with its haphazard infrastructure system but the elites seem to either be delusional, dishonest, ignorant or some combination of all three. I mean, we're staying in government lodgings, pretty nice digs really, and we can't get breakfast? We can't get power during the day? And we're favored guests of the governor? A little honesty would be appreciated.


In my former post I didn't mean to imply that people in poverty can't be noble or possess an incredible amount of dignity. What I meant was that there is no inherent good in being impoverished just as there is no inherent good to being wealthy, and to imply that helping people increase their material comfort is dooming them to crass materialistic lifestyle that is worst than impoverished and "content" is anathema to me. I can't get down with someone who celebrates someone else's poverty while still living high off the hog. At best, the person is blind to their hypocrisy, at worst they're cynical manipulators looking to further cement their own dominance over the poor or disadvantaged. Either way, it's not a good look.

Also, the thrilla in manila was replayed yesterday at this spot where I get goat pepper soup. Frazier really is an incredibly underrated boxer and it's tragic that Ali's legacy and charisma has overshadowed his own. Great fight, though. If you like such things, I reccomend you look at it. Two masters of their styles going at it. It's even more intense when you have a feeling for the political and social context that dominated commentary before the fight. Great stuff.