21 February 2014

Weekend List!

Sarah's List:

Everyone loves infographics these days, right? Now you can make your own! (Really, it's easy.)

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Critiques of voluntourism are getting a lot of traction lately. What do you think?

Reminds me of this Onion article that doesn't even seem fake.

Is it time for the accessibility sign to get a makeover?

Alternative Handicapped Accessible sign
By Sara Hendren & Brian Glenney (http://www.accessibleicon.org) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Tyranny of the Bad Mother. I'm aiming for that sweet spot somewhere between slacker and perfect.

Everything you've ever wanted to know about the world. (Users swear by it.)

Cheltenham ... MIND THE GAP (6191889892)
By BazzaDaRambler (Cheltenham ... MIND THE GAPUploaded by Oxyman) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

And Jerry Seinfeld talks bedtime. Thank you for this, Jerry...

"The bedtime routine for my kids is like this Royal Coronation Jubilee Centennial of rinsing and plaque and dental appliances and the stuffed animal semi-circle of emotional support. And I've gotta read eight different moron books. You know what my bedtime story was when I was a kid? Darkness!"

Charlotte's semi-circle of support.

And Ani's. Not just limited to plush items. But also her purse, sunglasses and bananas.

Jill's List:

Can't decide what I think of this book.  But I haven't read it yet.  Who has?  What did you think?


As we think about transitioning back to living in the U.S., I realized that I have lost perspective on the prices of things like groceries, transportation, rent, electric bills, and (gulp) childcare.  This blog is an entertaining look at one couple's various budgets in various locales, plus posts like, "How We Made Money Off of Our Baby."  

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These budget questions were too daunting for us, so we put Loulou on the case.
She's been making some calls and sorting everything out for us.
If only we could figure out how to make money off of her.

There were a couple of interesting birth-related items this week: birth is rarely by the book & an interesting study.

This image by Alice Proujansky accompanied this article in the NYTimes.  Used with permission.

What do you think about this opinion piece?
So, professors, don’t cloister yourselves like medieval monks — we need you!

Innovative ideas for homelessness in our old stomping grounds.

Loulou's G-ma wants to do this with her...starting with her tutus.

This one's all about the fashion.

 And.  Who wants to move to Congo?


  1. Wait, have you guys seen this? (Either the article, or the robot in real life?)

    1. Oh yes! I'm not really sure how we can call ourselves Congo bloggers having never mentioned our famous robots. Thanks for posting the link for us!

    2. I got to experience her in real-life on Wednesday. It's pretty wild. She turns her head and looks at you before she either raises her arms (which shine green for "go") or flashes her red light for "stop". It's sort of eerie. The cars are apparently getting better at paying attention. The people on either side of us were laughing hysterically at the traffic robot. I say - way go to women engineers of Congo!

    3. I almost died when I saw the article - so hysterical. And I love that they list "intimidation factor" as a good reason for installing a robot instead of a traffic light. I didn't realize it actually MOVED. That makes it like a million times funnier... Nairobi recently installed timed traffic lights at all the major traffic circles (the kind that counts down to the next green, or next red). NO ONE paid attention to traffic lights before, and for the first few weeks no one STILL paid attention. But recently there seems to be a new social order, and people are actually stopping at the lights. Fascinating to watch it progress...

  2. Jill, I haven't read Stringer either, but whenever a writer refers to a particular area of Kinshasa as the "slum" a red flag goes up.

    1. I don't believe Sundaram refers to where he lived as a slum, but rather the reviewer does. I'm on chapter 10, and am blown away by Sundaram's ability to put in words what I saw, heard, and felt during our very short time in DRC.

  3. The Kristof piece is not realistic, or at least not like any professors I know. Do we really think that professors are cloistering themselves in their offices? I'm sure some are doing that, but the ones I know enjoy sharing knowledge with non-academics.

    1. Yeah, I was super curious to know the back story. Why did he choose to write that piece? Who is he thinking of?

    2. My husband is a professor and we got a laugh out of the Kristof piece - although my husband brought up that in some disciplines, sharing knowledge is much harder than in others, like say for medievalists. You asked the same question we did though, who was that written for?

      That said, I mentioned your TASOK ad to him and we both wish we were qualified - unless they want an Africanist and an artist. :)

  4. Hi Jill, would TASOK be interested in a Canadian Respiratory Therapist with a Bachelor of Health Science degree and 7 years of experience for the nursing position?

    1. Hi Crystal - Hmmm - Let's chat. Email me your CV!

  5. I think outside of Mama Congo, I am regularly disappointed by outsiders' perspectives on Congo. Even just the write up was irritating. Slum. Heart of Darkness. TINY kindness?!! I'm holding out for a Congolese Chimamanda. (I'm meeting her today, by the way! Chimamanda is in Ghent! At a book festival!)

  6. I have mixed feelings about volunteerism. Yes, I have seen privileged American white girls going overboard in African orphanages - effusively doling out affection, laughter, games, fun. I have seen how hard it is for the caregivers to scrape the children back together ofter this orgy of mirth. And I know about the blogs and pictures which go back home. But the author of the voluntourism article "The Problem With Little White Girls" went on (it seems) to organize something quite productive in the Dominican Republic. Agreed, organizations set up to utilize skills volunteers just don't have are counter-productive, and a teacher who doesn't speak the local language isn't much help with children who don't understand her. But providing a better fit between the volunteer and the groups needed on the ground - ideally organized by the in-country folks themselves - does make all the difference. And both the volunteers and the people they are there to serve benefit from the interaction overall. Especially the volunteers - who, hopefully someday, find a way to make a difference in developing countries even if it is only by being active politically in their home countries. It is a complicated issue, fraught with pluses and minuses on all sides...

  7. I agree with Irma. I don't think volunteer-tourism is all bad, although it is a mixed bag, depending heavily on the preparation involved for the travelers and the overall mission of what is to be "accomplished," if anything. As someone living in a developing country without a Ph.D., I don't agree with Biddle that this invalidates my contribution while I live here.

    Thank you, Mama Congo, for inspiring me to think more about this. Frankly, it further clarified for me personally why I'm here. Cheers!



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