Friday, October 29, 2004
OK, here is the complete list of names for my good friend the iguana. I will be pondering them all and, since I am sure everyone is completely tired of any talk of voting, this coming Tuesday I will be selecting my favorite name myself like the good autocrat that I am. Tricia might help but the rest of you will have to be content in voting for president and not iguana. Don't try and send gifts or money to influence my vote, I eschew all special interests but my own. Check back Wednesday morning to find out which name won! Unlike the other election, I GUARANTEE there will be one known winner by Wednesday in my election.

Raul A. Iguana
Michael W. Smith
Edgar Martinez
Millard Fillmore
Martha Stewart
oscar the grouch
big bird
the rain man (yeah, definitely, the rain man)
herman munster
eddy haskell
the green machine

ps. please do not post anything regarding the "other" election in the comments. This is a politics free blog.

Saturday, October 23, 2004
Here is a must-read article on activist NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations...a fancy term for Non-Profits) and the damage they can do to the poor. Camisea, a big natural-gas project in Peru is mentioned. If you have the time, it is really worth reading.

<begin mark's opinion>
Often times, activist NGOs with their armies of lawyers and celebrities based in western capitals do more harm then good. This article mentions a couple of instances where this has happened. These NGOs should be distinguished from NGOs such as Food for the Hungry and World Vision who are actually doing development work in the field rather then just protesting their own pet political causes. This is not to say that some of the things they protest are legitimate, it is just to say that activist NGOs that distort the facts and only approach the issue from one perspective (often times an environmental one) harm the poor in the developing world.
</end mark's opinion>

OK, enough ranting. Let's get back to naming the iguana.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Name the Iguana

Even though I have only seen the Iguana that lives by our house once, I like to think of him/her as family. So I want to give him/her a name. I would appreciate suggestions in the comments. It can be a boy name or girl name as who really knows with iguanas. A Spanish name is helpful, but by no means required. My first submission is Lana. It would be named after our friend Lana who works for FH in Uzbekistan and told me I need to name it. It has the side benefit of rhyming. "Lana the Iguana"

We did hear the iguana last night. Or at least what we believe to be the iguana. I really need a name folks. Please submit one. I am tired of writing "the iguana". A name would be much more personal.

Names to date(UPDATED):

Paco - Submitted by Lana the Uzbek
Lana (usually to be said "Lana the Iguana" in conversation) - Mark
Paula - Rhemember it rhymes
Raul A. Iguana - Which I like because as Sher says it reminds me of Michael W. Smith
Michael W. Smith - I am just going to add that to the list myself
Ichiro - the Japanese baseball playing iguana
Edgar Martinez - He is retiring as Joe rightly points out. What better way to honor the best DH of all time? I can see the t-shirt now 3,000 hits and all I got was this lousy t-shirt and an iguana named after me.
Millard Fillmore
Martha Stewart

I have to say at this point it is still a toss-up. I think Lana is a strong entry as well as Michael W. Smith. But for now I think Ichiro is in the lead for me because I have this mental image of the iguana with the little Ichiro goatee stretching with a bat out back behind the house and it makes me laugh every time I think of it. I am going to keep the contest open for a few days more so you still have time! Also, you can submit more then once.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
We have a new guest that is living behind our house. It is a BIG iguana. I have seen it once so far and it is longer then 3 feet but probably a bit shy of 4 feet. That is one big lizard. He makes a lot of noise at night which wakes up Tricia. Thankfully a 747 could land in our front yard and I wouldn't wake up. I am hoping to see it again. The goal is to domesticate it and train it to guard the house. OK, maybe not.

It has been pretty hot lately. I like sun, but some days when you are walking in the sun it is downright oppressive. The sun down here is so much stronger then back home.

On another note, my basketball game is slowly improving. I play every Tuesday and Friday night with about 15 Peruvian guys and one other gringo. It is a lot of fun and good exercise. If only I could shoot.

Sunday, October 10, 2004
Kristin, another American FH employee from Lima came to visit us this weekend which was fun. We went out on Yarina cocha (a lake) as well as swimming in a small lake called Pimiento cocha. The water was very warm and it was a lot of fun to get out of town. We really haven't done much traveling around Pucallpa and need to do more. I just got done marching in another parade. We will see if my picture ends up in the newspaper like it did last time I marched in a parade. I really don't understand the whole parade marching phenomenon, but it is fun so I will just go with it.

Sorry about the lack of pictures lately. The laptop being dead has made this a bit more of a hassle as the software to edit the pictures was on the laptop. We will try and post new pictures soon. We have a good one of a big boa wrapped around Tricia and I. We stopped up the lake at a little place that had animals and we took pictures with the snake. They are really strong. Don't worry, it was domesticated.

Other then that not a whole lot new. I am now teaching Microsoft PowerPoint. We finished teaching Excel. I graded the exams so we will see if the students still like me. I am looking for more subjects to blog on, so post questions in the comments if you have any and I will post answers.

Sunday, October 03, 2004
Make Trade Fair, is a website by Oxfam, one of the largest NGO's that advocate on behalf of the worlds poor. I think they are wrong on several issues, but they have good information and are doing some good things. An example of where they are right is on the home page. It is a link to send an email to George Bush about ending cotton subsidies. By all means end them, they are an abomination. I am going to spend a bit more time on the site when I get a chance and post more.

UPDATE: I spent a few minutes reading their introduction and purpose pages and now have even more reservations about the organization. They have some blatantly economically false statements in their website. For example take this quote:

Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign is calling on governments, institutions, and multinational companies to change the rules so that trade can become part of the solution to poverty, not part of the problem.

While you can likely find a few economists that would argue that trade is an overall net negative for the poor, the great majority would say that this statement is blatantly false. Trade is one of the largest forces for poverty eradication in the world today. You need look no further then China and the rest of east Asia to see the results of export oriented free market reforms. However, Oxfam is right. TODAY TRADE IS NEITHER FREE, NOR FAIR. IT NEEDS TO BE IMPROVED. And, yes, there are places in the world where the market mechanisms caused by international trade are hurting the poor. So I would change Oxfam's statement to the following if I were in charge:

Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign is calling on governments, institutions, and multinational companies to change the rules so that trade can become an ever greater part of the solution to poverty.

Granted, Oxfam is likely marketing themselves more toward the activist, anti-capitalist leaning crowd and probably couldn't raise money if that was their position. So check out the site, but don't believe everything you read. But it is a good place to find summaries of the most egregious examples of unfair trade such as cotton subsidies in the US and milk subsidies in Europe.

Here is an interesting article regarding debt relief from the Economist. If you skip the first half of it about China and the G7 toward the end it talks about debt relief. This is something that Bono(lead singer of the Band U2) has been hammering on for a long time. A few years ago this initiative was called Jubilee 2000. The idea is to cancel all the debts of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) in the year 2000. If you read this article you will see that Britain has already done just that. In case your wondering my opinion(and you are by default because you are reading my blog), I think it is a good idea with some reservations. I am not too keen on canceling debts for very corrupt leaders who are still in power. If you are a corrupt leader and borrow money foolishly, it should not be cancelled until you are no longer in power. The article mentions the disincentives that canceling loans my bring about. Why borrow money in a fiscally responsible manner if you aren't going to have to pay it back? Personally I would rather see more effort put into raising money for combating AIDS rather then debt relief, but overall I think it would be a good long as the loans for the most corrupt governments are not cancelled. How one goes about defining which governments are "corrupt" is beyond my meager brain. But I agree with Bono, it is a travesty for some of these extremely poor countries to be paying more in debt payments then they do on health or education. Cancel farm subsidies while you're at it.


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