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Ghana is no place for Dreams

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6:45am:

A hawker
Tiredly taps
On the rolled window
Of a prisoner of traffic.

For sale:
Bootlegged aspirations
Bagged in small sizes
Sold at half price,
or less

On the radio,
There's a man
Talking incoherently.

The glazed-eyed
Traffic inmate
Hears neither the hawker
Now the man.

Ghana is no place for dreams.

Accra Street hawker


*****Sept 19, 2018*****




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koranteng
1 day ago
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Documentary on legendary fantasy coffin artist Paa Joe now available online

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Want to be buried in a giant wooden coffin that looks like a Coke bottle?

Coffin artist Paa Joe is the guy who can make that happen. He crafts fantasy wood "proverb coffins" (aka as abebuu adekai in his culture) out of his shop in Ghana. He's considered the grandfather of the fantasy coffin trade and his work is exhibited in museums worldwide. But hard times fell on his business. Paa Joe & The Lion is the 2017 documentary that tells the story of how he and his son are rebuilding the family legacy together. It's now available to stream on Amazon (free with Prime). It's really inspiring!

Paa Joe dreams of his bygone days — bringing money home in briefcases and work being shipped to galleries the world over. Now, he sleeps as the cars hurtle passed. There are no customers, no tourists — there are no coffins to make. His son, Jacob, dreams too, he dreams of returning his father to his glory days and rebuilding the family legacy together. Over the next four years they stand side-by-side, conquering love and death and embracing a life changing opportunity to travel to the UK to undertake an artist residency. It is the start of their future together — master and son... Paa Joe & The Lion

Here's a look at some of his pieces:

via john nash Cacao pod coffin image via akhenatenator

via Allison Meier https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm_cSqdBgH6/?hl=en&taken-by=paajoecoffins https://www.instagram.com/p/Bmoj7RXhOd9/?hl=en&taken-by=paajoecoffins https://www.instagram.com/p/BmRVh-XheOT/?hl=en&taken-by=paajoecoffins https://www.instagram.com/p/BlsUjLuB8aq/?hl=en&taken-by=paajoecoffins https://www.instagram.com/p/Blczb1_Bg2z/?hl=en&taken-by=paajoecoffins https://www.instagram.com/p/BmwFizqhKos/?hl=en&taken-by=paajoecoffins https://www.instagram.com/p/BfJZVzNAjj-/?hl=en&taken-by=paajoecoffins https://www.instagram.com/p/BU-UV-AAQn3/?hl=en&taken-by=paajoecoffins

(Cult of Weird)

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koranteng
1 day ago
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Living Under Gaddafi

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In September 1969, a military coup in Libya brought Muammar Gaddafi to power. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to award-winning writer Hisham Matar about life in Libya in the first decade of Gaddafi's rule, his family’s flight from Libya and how his father, Jaballa Matar, became one of Gaddafi's most prominent opponents in exile and paid the ultimate price. Picture: Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli on September 27th 1969, shortly after the bloodless coup that brought him to power (Credit: AFP FILES/AFP/Getty Images)



Download audio: http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/5/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download-low/proto/http/vpid/p06kb8h7.mp3
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koranteng
1 day ago
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Decline of American Catholicism?

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Every prophetic religion has to play one intellectual trick. It has to convince people that there are a special few to whom the gods have communicated. And that it alone correctly identifies those few, and distinguishes them from the millions and millions of people who think they have visions, visitations, angelic communications, spiritual insights, etc., but who in fact are just ordinary people sometimes fooling themselves, or worse, the outright delusional and clinically crazy, or possibly, people running a con. Those who put their trust into a certain set of prophets are trusting even more the religion that teaches: “these are the real prophets.”

No one knows who wrote most parts of the Bible, who edited them, who selected them. Why does the Bible include Revelations rather than any of the many other volumes of apocalyptic literature written about the same time and place? Why do most Protestant churches omit books that the Catholic Church includes? Hundreds of millions of Christians believe “the” Bible is the very word of their god, yet are completely ignorant of how it came to be.

To give it a bit of credit, the Catholic Church faces that dilemma a bit more squarely than most Protestant churches. Its answer is that believers can trust the scripture it offers, and as importantly the interpretation it offers, because they both come through it, the Church that Jesus established and leads. That explanation is a bit circular, but still more sensible than the Protestant notion of sola scriptura. Which largely shoves such questions under the rug.

The practical problem with pointing to the Church itself as a holy and trusted source is that the Church has a terribly ugly and untrustworthy history. Its recent cover up of the sexual abuse of thousands of children by priests is one of its smaller crimes. This is the Church that decimated southern France to destroy a competing Christian sect, that sided with Franco, that burned heretics alive. To name just a few. Most of its atrocities were done openly, many ordered by the Popes of the time, in Jesus’s name. I always laugh when I hear someone defend the Conquistadors, by reference to the Aztecs practicing human sacrifice. As if the Catholics didn’t carry the inquisition to Mexico, didn’t have auto da fes there, didn’t burn alive Jews there. Those who believe the Church uniquely among earthly institutions is and has been guided by Jesus need to take a more jaundiced look at its history.

Unlike protestants, Catholics who become disenfranchised from their Church have no place to run, except that they make a major change in their religion. Congregants of a Southern Baptist church whose preacher is caught in sexual scandal can fire that preacher and hire another and wash their hands of the mess. Or they can move to another Baptist church that has nothing to do with the first. Or to a protestant church in a non-Baptist sect, but almost indistinguishable from it.

There is no Catholic diocese that has nothing to do with the next, and all are bound to the Church hierarchy. When Pittsburgh priests are discovered to have run a child porn ring, when high Vatican officials are being prosecuted for child abuse, when multiple states are forming task forces to investigate child abuse by priests, and when coverups for sex abuse extend up the hierarchy, possibly to the Pope, a Catholic cannot find a religious home apart from all that, and still remain Catholic. That is the practical weakness to making a human institution a central part of theology. A grave weakness in this era when it can’t use torture to control dissenters.

So perhaps the recent scandals are part of the reason that the Catholic Church is the religion in America that is experiencing the most departure to other religions. It’s too bad most of those leaving land in some alternate church. Maybe they fear the cost of shucking religious faith entirely is too high?

What do these latest scandals really change about the Church? Not much. They are minor compared to its past acts. The vast majority of Catholics will remain faithful despite them. There is a large dose of irony when American Christians wonder how people in foreign lands can stay true to their barbaric religions, with Islam especially in the crosshairs. Religions work the same the world around. They are taught to children literally at their mother’s knees. They provide the rituals that people use to marry and to bury. They frame the cycle of the year with holidays. And the vast majority of people so raised then will stick to their mother religion, faithful for the rest of their life. Even though it teaches nonsense. Even though it has a history of atrocities. The very familiarity of one’s mother religion makes its warts seem manageable, while the strangeness of a foreign religion makes its warts seem cancerous. That is so even between sects of the same religion. Catholics cannot imagine how anyone belongs to a sect of snakehandlers. Yet they somehow manage with their own church still believing in witches.

P Z Myers writes a commonsense post on the historicity of Jesus. The bottomline for most people in the secular world is that there is little reason to think we know much at all about a historical Jesus.

Even if it shrinks, I expect the Catholic Church to remain a large part of America for decades to come. American Catholics can take some comfort that their church isn’t as doomed as the Church of England. The Catholic Church is declining only in the west. It is holding its own in the south. Photo shows a Pittsburgh restaurant and brewery created inside a former cathedral.



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koranteng
3 days ago
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The Antisocial Nature of Wireless Telegraphy

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Telegraph Antisocial

Ah, these kids today and their addiction to wireless telegraphy!

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koranteng
8 days ago
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Relics of the Johnson Administration

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Boris Johnson’s private behaviour is public again this week, which is almost a pity, as some of the chickens stirred up by his public behaviour as Mayor of London are coming home to roost. For a start there is, or was, Wonga.

Last weekend I was on the tube when I noticed something unusual – a Wonga poster of a new and different design. Wonga advertising was usually as triumphantly vulgar as the name itself, but this was wordy, positively chastened, and couched in conservative blue and light font weightings. It seemed to give more reasons not to borrow money from them than it gave for borrowing from them. Too little, too late. By the afternoon I was back on the Tube and this time I noticed that one in every four posters had gone. Efficient TfL employees had spent the day systematically purging the network.

As well they might. One of the major themes of the Wonga story was its transition from being a niche proposition to a hypergrowth one driven by massive, ubiquitous advertising. The single biggest source for this advertising was TfL. London’s transport system was constantly blanketed with Wonga, and the reason for this was simple – wonga was precisely what they offered Boris Johnson. Johnson promised during his campaign to open the Tube free of charge on New Year’s Eve, and Wonga literally paid for it in exchange for ad space.

Johnson repeatedly wanted to complain about Wonga’s practices and use the name to bash his political enemies, but somehow the cat kept getting his tongue when it came to actually delivering the message. (It may be part of the explanation for his survival that his hypocrisy visibly troubles him. That, at least, is genuine.)

I’m not keen to be promoting… lending that gets people into real trouble,” he answered.

But he kept doing it.

Meanwhile, the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority under his watch, and under the command of disgraced Brian Coleman, found it urgently necessary to privatise London’s fire engines. This hilariously demented idea – who can say we’ve never wanted to privatise fire engines? – only got worse when the counterparty turned out to be a shell company called Assetco, whose very name gave away that it didn’t really fight fires or maintain fire engines but had been called into existence specifically to buy them off local governments because money was cheap.

The actual point of this exercise was that sometimes the fire brigade goes on strike. Johnson and Coleman wanted to break the next strike, and doing this involved getting the fleet of fire engines out of the ownership and physical custody of the fire brigade. Otherwise the strikers would just refuse to hand over the ignition keys. Assetco provided this and also promised to do various maintenance and to install some new equipment, which was for some reason meant to be cheaper if a group of dodgy accountants from Belfast was involved.

Just how dodgy has now been revealed by the accounting profession’s disciplinary authority, the Financial Reporting Council. The report is here, thanks to David Hencke‘s blog. It is an account of spectacular dishonesty, fraud, and self-dealing. It is well worth reading. One of the conspirators, John Shannon, has set a British record by being banned from practicing as an accountant for 16 years.

I am not sure which is my favourite detail. Is it that the dodgy CFO paid himself a huge amount of money by pretending that it was a pre-payment of rent that would in any case have been a serious conflict of interest had it been real? Is it that the cash was raised from Anglo Irish Bank just before it went bankrupt and immediately used to repay his debts to the equally bankrupt Kaupthing, Singer & Friedlander, in a sort of human centipede of bubble-era peculation? Or that another highly suspicious related-party transaction was set up to pay off his son’s debts, incurred in, you guessed it, a failed property development scheme?

No, I think the one that scoops the pot is the time they just decided to pretend the fire brigade had spent much more on the “Capital Guard” contract – that’s the dish-the-FBU job – than they in fact had, issued a fake invoice, and recognised the supposed revenue many years into the future in the books. Not only hadn’t they received any cash, they hadn’t even sent the LFB a bill. (They couldn’t send them a bill, because no work had actually happened, and even Johnson’s city hall might have spotted that.)

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koranteng
11 days ago
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"A human centipede of pre-bubble era speculation"
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