Tuesday, April 29, 2014


A voluntourist is someone like Jack, who wishes to combine exotic vacation travel with volunteer work. For anyone interested in being one, a dizzying array of choices awaits, from building schools in Uganda or houses in Haiti to hugging orphans in Bali. In all of them, the operational equation is the same: wealthy Westerners can do a little good, experience something that their affluent lives do not offer, and, as in Jack’s case, have a story to tell that places them in the ranks of the kindhearted and worldly wise.

As admirably altruistic as it sounds, the problem with voluntourism is its singular focus on the volunteer’s quest for experience, as opposed to the recipient community’s actual needs. There is a cost associated with such an endeavor. A 2010 report by the Human Sciences Research Council, based in Pretoria, South Africa, analyzed the thriving AIDS orphan tourism business in South Africa.

Under this program, well-to-do tourists sign up to build schools, clean and restore riverbanks, ring birds and act as caregivers to AIDS orphans for a few weeks. This led to the creation of a profitable industry catering to volunteer tourists. The orphans’ conditions are effectively transformed into a boutique package in which “saving” them yields profits from tourists. The foreigners’ ability to pay for the privilege of volunteering crowds out local workers.
The White Tourist's Burden

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday link list

1. Can't remember if we linked GeoGuessr or not, but it owns.

2. Winnie the Pooh and Zombies

3. Schwarzenegger sound board prank friends

4. All of China, IL is online.

5.YouTube numbers stations. Here's my favorite.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MST3K history

When they told me, my only objection was that he was kind of like me—a white doughy guy from the Midwest. But it worked out great. They stuck with the formula really closely. I think they did a really good job.
It began getting difficult when USA Network started exercising more control over the Sci-Fi Channel. And then we picked up these fucking production executives from the network. We had these bitter, dry, humorless trolls in charge of our show. And they were giving us notes. And they were insisting on our having a story arc. What the hell do you want with a story arc? This is a puppet show.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Definitive Oral History of a TV Masterpiece

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Surveillance and Language

To Orwell, this threat was not merely that loose and imprecise writing fails to convey one’s real meaning. His more immediate fear was more fundamental: that reliance on vague, “ready-made phrases” would, over time, conceal one’s real meaning even from oneself. Orwell understood that when a population stops “hunting about” for words—when it instead regurgitates the limited vocabulary of those in power—it stops truly thinking. “The fight against bad English,” Orwell wrote, “is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.” Far from it—it is “a necessary first step toward political regeneration.”

The government’s mass-surveillance apparatus, and the secret legal gymnastics that purportedly justify it, is a chilling expression of Orwell’s worst fears.
Dragnet Surveillance and the English Language