Links, Links, Links! 14th April 2013

Well it's that time of week again! Let me share with you some of the interesting pieces of the internet that have recently caught my eye...  

Trip down memory lane: The Iraq War told in headlines over the last 10 years.

December 2002 - March 2003: The March To War

July 2003: As The War Continues, No WMDS Are Found


Are you moving from Google Reader? Want to know how to make the switch seamlessly to Feedly? Worry no longer.


52 reasons why you should date an aid worker (tongue in cheek and all...)


A great collection of FREE apps from LinkedIn on making your work life more productive.


LinkedIn also has some great tips on becoming a better leader...


A heart breaking but very human look at the effects of the Syrian conflict: Refugees talk about the "most important thing" they took with them when they fled their homes.

 Tamara, 20, in Adiyaman camp in Turkey. The most important thing she was able to bring with her is her diploma, which she holds. With it she will be able to continue her education in Turkey.


Ah, it pin points an issue that has been niggling in the back of my mind: The problem with 'First World Problems'

To blithely relegate trivial matters as ‘first world problems’ not only dismisses the very real issues that some first world residents face on a daily basis, it also prevents a mutual understanding between the West and the developing world because sometimes both 'worlds' experience the same problems; First world problems can also be third world problems.

Considering my current employment, this was a really interesting report to come across on FIFO and DIDO workers.

A recently completed study by researchers from the University of Ballarat provides insight into some of the issues raised by The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia’s inquiry into fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) workforce practices in regional Australia.
In relation to the mental health of study participants, 50 per cent reported moderate to high levels of depression symptoms, 45 per cent reported moderate to high levels of anxiety symptoms, and 45 per cent reported experiencing moderate to high levels of loneliness when on-site, indicating that these are critical issues for some FIFO workers.


What a way to wrap it up.  This kid, well I can't imagine how motivational he will be when he's grown up? Gee, mashallah. Hope he channels it into something useful, I can only imagine how far he will go then! Kudos to supportive parents I imagine as well.


Lucious Linksies: 3rd November 2012


Typography inspiration

Veteran social entrepreneur Leila Janah of Samasource recently co-launched a new project to crowdfund medical treatment for the very poor. Think of it as Kiva for surgery: An amazing initiative – crowd sourcing surgeries for women in need, an interesting way of doing things…looking forward to finding out more.

Malala expected to make a full recovery. What an inspiration.

This is a must see, and links in with a topic I have previously broached. 

Some people liken a bad day at work to being in a war zone but for the photojournalists chronicled in HBO's upcoming documentary series "Witness," that's not an exaggeration.

The series, which premieres on November 5 and will air every Monday for the rest of the month, follows photojournalists in Mexico, Libya, South Sudan and Brazil as they navigate violence to report issues such as drug trafficking, gang violence, corruption, and ethnic warfare.

Crucial tips for communicating criticism! Hint: It’s all about you!

I love quote pictures.

The video below is a great compilation…

A really interesting piece on the past and the state of design…

What I know is that this nostalgic trend a lot of people are talking and writing about these days has something to do with that the socio-economic change driven by the analog-to-digital transformation. The main progress that we have made in the last 30 years is not aesthetic or mechanical. What we have seen since the mid-90s is a progress in simulation technologies. Cars look more or less the same, music and fashion is also moving into a state of simulation of what is supposed to be authentic. And often the simulation outperforms the original.


Aren’t these chalk illustrations a fantastic way to inject something a little different into the everyday dreariness of cement paths? Click on the image for more…

Fair call Seth Godin: we do need to get over ourselves.

War and Peace: A Case for Individual Responsibility?

This was originally posted on FutureChallenges.org...check it out here! ***

Is conflict a part of human nature?

An interesting question indeed.

The short film below illustrates what happens when you take individuals from opposite sides of the pack mentality and place them in a neutral environment.

There is no denying the human race is obsessed with conflict. Our history as a species is riddled with conflict; often great change is only ever achieved through periods of upheaval, also often characterised by conflict.

It would seem that conflict and war is one of the great catalysts for change. As humans it is so easy for us to disregard an injustice if it doesn’t affect us, however once the conflict reaches our circle of comfort we are then catapulted into action…so then perhaps it can be said that conflict is a part of ‘human nature’, or at least the human story.

Couldn’t it be argued however, that ‘anything humans do’ is a ‘part of human nature’? If so… does that mean everything should still allowed to be seen as acceptable?

Where is the line between blaming our collective actions on human nature and taking personal responsibility for our actions?

Conflict is inextricably linked to the concept of “War and Peace”; the age old battle between “good” and “evil” illustrated through decades of battle between empires, to grudges between siblings or the fight on the streets between criminals and the police.

Good versus Evil is perhaps example of an completely polarising dichotomy that is in fact, extremely subjective. Isn’t one man’s terrorist another’s freedom fighter? Who decides who is good and who is evil?  It is a concept also so all encompassing that it can be stretched to meet almost any agenda. Australia is one example where inter-communal tensions are sometimes framed within the “good versus evil’ concept. This often fails to highlight the true nature of any conflict, instead depicting groups as a single, monolithic entity rather than a number of human beings with humanised emotions.

The example of the relationship between mainstream Australia and asylum seekers perhaps, or the Cronulla riots in 2005 or even the fall out after the protests in Sydney (in response to the Youtube video made on the Prophet Muhammed PBUH) are examples of situations where the ‘pack mentality’ overshadowed individual thought processes and where those labelled as ‘different’ were now seen as the enemy.

File:Cronulla riots 5.jpg

This group think process is furthermore fueled by our environment. Shortly after the protests in Sydney last month, comments were made in the media highlighting that “ethnic tensions were set to explode” (source).

A key ethnic affairs adviser to the NSW Coalition government has warned that religious and ethnic tensions in western Sydney have the potential to “explode” the nation’s multicultural fabric in the aftermath of last Saturday’s Islamic riot.

Dai Le, a Vietnamese boat-person and former ABC documentary maker…warned that multiculturalism was threatened unless new arrivals continued to integrate into overarching national values… (source)

In the light of such rhetoric, you cannot blame individuals for perhaps thinking the worst…

So, on further reflection, there are three points that are being made.

Firstly, in situations where opinions are being shaped by a highly influential environment, it becomes very easy to see the world in a good versus evil, war versus peace dichotomy. We all know however, when looking at the facts that life is rarely ever that black and white and often it depends on the individual values and perspectives.

This then leads to the second point on dealing with “tensions” on a broader scale. There is no doubt that incidents such as the Cronulla riots require an investigation of the underlying currents in a community. But the discourse in which such a situation is dealt with must behonest. It doesn’t take a lot to find out what the issues are; often all you must do is ask.

Thirdly, on the question of conflict and human nature, in light of the above…

I believe that it is folly to say that conflict isn’t a part of human nature, given our propensity towards it in history. I don’t believe the ‘human nature’ argument however, can be used as an excuse.

It is our responsibility as humans to live up to our moral standards and take individual responsibilities for our actions, and that means choosing to not engage in conflict.

Conflict used for change is often a race to the bottom; brutality can extend its miserable tentacles and affect generations. Only when a cycle is broken by collective individual actions to act differently can ‘peace’ be found…whatever peace means.

File:Peace symbol.jpg

South Sudan: Thoughts on the Secession

On the 9th of July 2011, a new country joined the ranks of statehood: South Sudan. On the 9th of July 2011, Sudan, the largest nation in Africa, was split asunder...

On the 9th of July 2011, a people had to begin to redefine their identity, a difficult process indeed.



For more information on the history of South Sudan and the war that led to the secession, check out these wiki links (don't hate on authenticity, I find wiki quite informative =D)

History of South Sudan - Second Sudanese Civil War (Longest civil war in Africa, started in 1983 and was essentially resolved by the secession)

I will pre-empt this article by saying that these are mostly personal lamentings and feelings on the secession rather than a political analysis and reflection of the view of the general populace's.

To be honest, when it happened I was in Australia in the midst of exams, organising a camp and generally being busy, so the enormity of the event didn't quite register. However, being in (North) Sudan has given me ample time to realise the extent of the consequences, so I thought I would try to organise my thoughts about the situation.


First of all, one doesn't realise until after the fact: the feeling of losing an entire chunk of your country is unlike anything I can acutely describe. Perhaps something akin to waking up one day and realising half your extended family has changed their last name.  I can't even draw a rough map of Sudan anymore as I am not sure what the border looks like.

It is reported that over 98% of voters (as it was a referendum) voted yes for the secession. However, what is often omitted is that only Southerners voted.  This is interesting in itself; the first questions I asked upon my arrival were what Northerners thought of the situation, and how the secession had effected life in the Sudan.  

Interesting, overwhelmingly, people were upset.

Upset that they hadn't been asked,

upset that their country had split into pieces,

upset that the nation no longer had petrol , upset that because Sudan no longer had petrol, the dollar had more than doubled,

upset that the crazy increase in the dollar has caused inflation to balloon out of control,

upset now that life is just so difficult to lead...

Overwhelmingly, most people that I talked to from the North didn't think the secession was a good thing for the nation.

Some expressed frustration at the administration, asking what kind of leader lets part of his country mutiny?  What leader watches over his country being split apart?

Interesting, I thought.

I could understand why. Although I haven't really lived in my country of origin for long, it had been strange to know people, one minute as your fellow country man, the next as merely your neighbour...

I considered this information, but then decided to ask another host of questions (as one does in times of curiosity and investigation...)

I asked Northerners how many South Sudanese people did they consider friends?

How many South Sudanese people did they invite to their homes?

How many South Sudanese people do they know personally??

Would they let their child marry a South Sudanese person?

Are our cultures and traditions similar?

The answers to those questions are why I think the secession was possibly for the best.

I was told the following:

Oh, I don't know any Southerners personally...

Oh, we've never had any in our house (apart from maybe a maid)...

I would never let my son or daughter marry a Southerner!


Well, their culture is so different! They have different traditions! They have different languages! As a relative duly informed me, they are very violent people so who knows what kind of spouse they could be and the things they would do...

I was shocked.

Truly, I was.

Firstly, because I couldn't believe the level of deeply entrenched racism that existed in the community towards Southerners (but that is a whole other post).  Secondly, I could see very similar parallels between the situation in Australia with the Indigenous population and Anglo Australia, where two peoples inhabit the same land but with extremely different cultures and drastically different levels of achievement.

I don't think  it is fair on Northern Sudanese to expect Southerners to live under the same administration for the sake of history or nostalgia.

What are the origins of the borderlines anyway? They are relics of colonial times, when the British (among others) came and split the continent up into countries, drawing straight lines through tribal lines and united groups that had nothing in common.  Apart from the economic benefit (for the Northerners!), what benefit is there to staying a single country?

Yes it is awful.

Yes, it hurts your heart.

At the end of the day though, don't the Southerners deserve a chance at making their own history?

It is a unique opportunity indeed, and I can see why every political powerhouse (read USA, China and Israel among others) wants to make their mark on the nation felt early.

Putting aside issues of religious differences and politics and how it effects the self esteem or agenda of (North) Sudan, I think the secession of South Sudan is perhaps a first step for the continent in rediscovering or recreating its own, post colonial identity.  There are still many battles to be fought (the border isn't even fully determined) but it is an opportunity that I hope isn't squandered.

I know that as a Northerner, my opinion, presence or aid in the area won't be welcomed.  Nonetheless, I do hope and pray with all my heart that we Horn-of-Africans can put aside the rampant personal-greed-disguised-as-nationalistic-fervour and give South Sudan the opportunity to develop as a nation.

This is history in the making. Let's not make this nation building experiment a case study in the chapter named "Never-to-be-repeated..."


What do you think? Do you have any thoughts on the secession or experience in the situation?

South Sudanese Blogs for some light reading:



Ruya: This seems quite interesting, haven't read much but will definitely follow the work of this organisation...

JohnAkec: A South Sudanese academic

SouthSudanNation: A bulletin board of sorts