Chauncey, End Poverty!

This is Jefferson Mok‘s awesome Burundi dog, Chauncey:

Disco Chauncey

He moved to New York about a year ago, and apparently his prodigious skills have been going to waste ever since. Jefferson asked for our help coming up with some new tricks for Chauncey to learn.

Naturally, this is where our minds went:

  1. Chauncey, raise awareness!: Chauncey chases his tail.
  2. Chauncey, mainstream gender!: Chauncey stares at you without moving until you give him something else to do.
  3. Chauncey, SWEDOW!: Chauncey fetches his oldest, most slobbery toy and places it in your lap.
  4. Chauncey, consult stakeholders!: Chauncey lies down on the floor and covers his ears with his paws.
  5. Chauncey, apply for funding!: Chauncey jumps through a series of unnecessary hoops.
  6. Chauncey, review best practices!: Chauncey sniffs his own butt.
  7. Chauncey, report to donors!: Chauncey sniffs another dog’s butt.
  8. Chauncey, issue report!: Chauncey barks for 30 seconds even though no one is listening to him.
  9. Chauncey, protect civilians!: Chauncey stays close by and watches carefully as Jefferson is savaged by a labradoodle.
  10. Chauncey, achieve MDGs!: Chauncey rolls over on his back and puts his paws in the air.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

Saving the World Makes Chauncey Very Tired

Photos courtesy of the aforementioned Jefferson Mok. Thanks Jefferson!

Are You Ready for the Zimbabwe Elections?

Zimbabwe goes to the polls next week amidst reports of an “alarming clampdown” by security forces loyal to long-time (seriously, it’s been a really long time) incumbent Robert Mugabe.

Apparently, we’ll all be able to track the election results in real time. In the meantime, if you need a quick refresher on what’s at stake, check out the latest edition of Ikenna Azuike’s “What’s Up Africa?”

H/T: Max Fisher

Politics in Other Places

Does it ever seem like other countries’ domestic politics are just way funnier than ours?

In New Zealand, Greenpeace has pronounced MP Simon Bridges a liar, using what I hope to god is the traditional Kiwi method of calling someone out for dishonesty: a gigantic billboard in the capital city. 

The billboard accuses Bridges, who has been leading the fight against peaceful protesting at sea (a modern-day scourge on the order of highway banditry, obviously), of hiding his connections to the oil industry. Fingers crossed he responds via dot-matrix skywriting!

And in Ireland, MP Tom Barry decided the middle of a parliamentary debate on abortion was a good time to pull fellow lawmaker Aine Collins onto his lap

Barry admitted he’d been drinking, but not, he claimed, “excessively.”

Meanwhile, all we’ve got to get excited about is this horrible kid and his insatiable flag-lust.

Hattips go to (in order): Golriz Ghahraman, Fedelma Smith, and Alissa Stollwerk. Thanks, guys!

Melinda’s Book is Out Today! Kirkus Says It’s “A Perfect Blend of the Intimate and the Epic.”

We interrupt our normally scheduled atrocity coverage to bring you the message that my sister, the talented Melinda Taub, has a novel out today!

It’s called “Still Star Crossed,” it’s a sequel to Romeo and Juliet, it’s available on Amazon and in book stores near you, it’s awesome, and you should buy it.

I’m obviously biased, but there’s no need to take my word for this. Here’s what Kirkus said in its (ahem, starred) review:

Love and violence intertwine in this spectacular sequel to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.


Taub splits her focus between the personal and the political, sending the narrative shuttling among Rosaline, Benvolio, Rosaline’s spirited sister, Livia, and desperate Prince Escalus without losing the thread. Rosaline and Benvolio’s tale is equal parts historical fiction, detective story and high adventure, relayed in accurate but not overwhelming period language, informed by Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare’s other works but offering an expanded and original perspective.

A perfect blend of the intimate and the epic, the story both honors its origin and works in its own right. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Now excuse me while I go wander the city, bragging about my little sister, the novelist.

WTF Friday, 5/24/2013

This week’s entry is a rare WTF inspired by awesomeness: The Onion’s “9 Photos Of Jennifer Lawrence That Will Make You Reassess The Scope Of The 1986 Vienna Convention On The Law Of Treaties Between States And International Organizations.”

What’s the connection between Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and an obscure, not-even-in-force, multilateral treaty? Unclear. Who on The Onion staff is even aware of the VCLTIO, and why? Also unclear. Why do they refer to the ICJ’s 1996 Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons as an advisory “paper”? Mystifying. And what’s their problem with Article 66, anyway?

We may never know.

WTF Friday, 4/26/2013

Exciting follow-up to last week’s WTF Friday. One of the three men deported from Saudi Arabia for excessive handsomeness is apparently this gentleman:

His name is Omar Borkan Al Gala and according to his Facebook page, he is a photographer, actor, and poet.

You know, I don’t agree with the Saudi government about much, but it’s possible he is excessively handsome.


WTF Friday, 4/19/2013

Am I the only one who thinks we should just cancel the third week of April from here on out? Yeesh.

But amidst the horror, some welcome absurdity from the Saudi government: Three Emirati men were forcibly removed from a festival in Riyadh this week, then deported, for the offense of being “too handsome.” Apparently, authorities feared that “female visitors could fall for them.” God forbid.

H/T: Paul in Lusaka, plus everyone else who passed this one along.

Somebody Call the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

According to Reuters, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced his willingness to be “the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists.”

So far, they’ve sent a monkey, which may or may not have died in transit, as well as some worms, a mouse, and a turtle. Iran’s space program has been the subject of controversy in the international community due to concerns about the possible uses to which the technology might be put. I’m thinking sending Ahmadinejad into space may be a compromise solution everyone can get behind.

WTF Friday, 1/25/2013

This week’s high(low)lights:

  • Members of the Thai navy and police have been caught selling Rohingya refugees to human traffickers. I have no words. (H/T: Jeffrey Stein.)
  • A unit of German soldiers are reportedly growing breasts. They truly are the master race. (H/T: Erica Borghard, on a roll this week!)
  • A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico “accidentally” proposed legislation that would make rape victims seeking abortion vulnerable to felony evidence tampering charges. A likely story.

Hilarity from the Vaults

From the Iraqi Perspectives Project, a description of a 2002 Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) internal review:

“The final page of the M8 annual report lists IIS failures during the year and enumerates several handicaps the IIS faced in trying to do its work: (1) not enough sedans were available to give one to each key officer; (2) foreign intelligence officers were not given permission to leave the country to study their areas of responsibility; and (3) the lack of an Internet connection within IIS caused them to miss many news events. They suggest allocating the office an Internet connection so that they do not have to rely on others to tell them the news. The IIS did claim the establishment of a single e-mail account as one of the year’s significant accomplishments.”

Among the many challenges of running a brutal dictatorship at odds with most of its neighbors: There are never enough sedans.

H/T: Erica Borghard. Thanks Erica!