Suicide bombers going on strike

Muslim suicide bombers in Britain are set to begin a three-day strike on Monday in a dispute over the number of virgins they are entitled to in the afterlife. Emergency talks with Al Qaeda have so far failed to produce an agreement.

The unrest began last Tuesday when Al Qaeda announced that the number of virgins a suicide bomber would receive after his death will be cut by 25% this May from 72 to only 60. The rationale for the cut was the increase in recent years of the number of suicide bombings and a subsequent shortage of virgins in the afterlife.

The suicide bombers' union, the British Organization of Occupational Martyrs ( or B.O.O.M. ) responded with a statement that this was unacceptable to its members and immediately balloted for strike action.

General Secretary Abdullah Aziz told the press, "Our members are literally working themselves to death in the cause of Jihad. We don't ask for much in return but to be treated like this is like a kick in the teeth".

Speaking from his shed in Tipton in the West Midlands in which he currently resides, Al Qaeda chief executive Osama bin Laden explained, "We sympathize with our workers concerns but Al Qaeda is simply not in a position to meet their demands. They are simply not accepting the realities of modern-day Jihad in a competitive marketplace.

Thanks to Western depravity, there is now a chronic shortage of virgins in the afterlife. It's a straight choice between reducing expenditure and laying people off. I don't like cutting wages but I'd hate to have to tell 3000 of my staff that they won't be able to blow themselves up."
Spokespersons for the union in the North East of England, Ireland, Wales and the entire Australian continent stated that the strike would not affect their operations as "There are no virgins in their areas anyway".

Apparently the drop in the number of suicide bombings has been put down to the emergence of that Scottish singing star, Susan Boyle - now that Muslims know what a virgin looks like that they are not so keen on going to paradise.

With thanks to Jeff for the tip
Cartoon courtesy StrangeCosmos

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War and Aid

Afghanistan tank

From the viewpoint of the warriors, the logic of the humanitarian era is simple: Without violence and devastation, no aid. And the more ghastly the violence and the more complete the devastation, the more comprehensive the aid.
"War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times"
by Linda Polman

Picture courtesy Lionel Marre

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Honourable mentions on Twitter

Yeepee, I got four mentions at the list of "100 terrific twitter feeds for humanitarians" on AlertNet and OnlineDegreePrograms for:
With thanks to the authors for the honours!

If you still doubt what social media can do for your blog, for your non-profit organisation, for your advocacy causes, have a look at BlogTips, where I publish my findings on social media for non-profits. It also features a tutorial on Twitter.

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How fast are we depleting the earth's minerals?

Click on the image for the full resolution picture

This week, loads of activities popped up around Earth Day, a global event reminding us of the fragility of our planet, and the responsibilities each of us have. Of course we can't miss out on this, here on The Road.

Back in 2007, the New Scientist published an interesting article predicting how long the earth's minerals will last if we continue to consume them at the current level, or if we start to consume them at HALF the level the US currently does.

A pity I only discover the article now, but reading through it, I don't hesitate referring to it. A heads-up to all of us, care-takers of this planet, home for our children and the children of our children.

Without better recycling policies and techniques, it looks like we will run out of silver in 29 years (or 9 years if we start consuming at half the rate of the US). Tin has 40 years left (or 17 at the US' rate). Zinc, 46 years (34 at US rates)... Click on the image above to see the full overview. Each of the bars shows the current rate of consumption in a light colour, and the "US rate" in a darker colour.

Apart from the fact that the earth reserves will run out within a foreseeable time, I see the stimulus for recycling material more in the fact that we have to stop eating, breathing and drinking poison. If we see how little we recycle in the world, and how much of those products get dumped or burned, I can not but think how much of that is dispersed in the air, slips into our drinking water, or gets into the soil used to grow our food.

When I arrived here in the Dominican, one of the first things I wanted to do in the office, is set up recycling bins for plastics, glass and paper. Guess what. In the whole country, apparently there are no facilities where consumers can deposit their recycled material. Beh... And we don't have to look that far. I wrote before about the lack of recycling in Italy while I lived there. And that is Europe, for God's sake.

Even at home in Belgium: when we moved into our house on the countryside, we found that for years, the previous owner had dumped waste - including a huge pile of expired medicines - in the garden. I dug out two containers of waste from that garden, which also has the well: A pipe, going 5 meters into the ground, pumping drinking water for the house. And then we are surprised people get cancer. Beh.

Think people: one way or the other, you are eating, drinking and breathing your waste! So recycle. Refuse that plastic bag at the supermarket. Look for products with a recyclable packaging.

OK, I am getting off my soapbox now!

New Scientist article discovered via The Density of Unresolved Ideas.
Illustration courtesy New Scientist.

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Now I know: one never knows!

Once the French actor Jean Gabin made a song "Maintenant je sais", "Now I know". He tells a story that when he was young, he always thought he knew everything, and as he grew up, he started to doubt what he really knew, what he really understood of life. He concludes saying as a 60 year old, his life is mostly behind him and "there is only one thing I know for sure: I never know".

Maybe as you are young and are trying to find your way in life, you need to reassure yourself not to be swept off your feet by everything happening in life. And as years go by, you learn about your own strengths and weaknesses, so you no longer need to hold on to the straws of false assurances... So you can give yourself the liberty or privilege of doubting.

Another way to look at it, is: when you are young, 8 or 10, you look up to adults as if "they know what they are doing". A job, kids, house, financials, life in general. As you grow into an adult yourself, you start to see the doubts and struggles that also your parents have experienced: they did not know neither, but tried their best.

I will turn 50 this year, believe it or not. When I was young I always said I would die falling of a tree, a cliff, freeze to death on some mountain top, crash in a remote area in Africa before I turned 50... I never believed I could turn 50, me, who was always the youngest and the wildest in the bunch...

But now I do turn 50, I also learned that struggles and doubts continue if you live life intensively and to the fullest. I know these internal battles will never stop. I learned that bit, and came to terms that "I will never Know"... I will continue to doubt whether the choices in life I am making, are the right ones for me, for those around me. Whether the choices I make at work are the right ones, whether I do things right. And somewhere that is the beauty of life. And maybe it is the strength of a person: the strength to dare to doubt. The strength of understanding you will never know.

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Volcanic ash

flights cancelled

So there we were in North Italy, looking at a computer screen with the latest reports of the volcanic ash spreading over Europe.... We were to drive back to Belgium on Saturday, and on Sunday I was to take a flight back to Rome. On Tuesday morning, I am scheduled to fly from Rome, back to the Dominican Republic.

On Friday, the airspace above most of Northern Europe was closed. Just to be on the safe side, we decided Tine would drive back to Belgium with the kids, and I would take a flight from Bolzano to Rome, just to make sure I would be back in time for my flight to the Dominican. I booked the flight to Rome in the evening.

On Saturday morning, the hotel owner told me all flights from North Italy would be cancelled too, so I booked a rental car from Bolzano airport. By the time we got to the airport, they confirmed all flights out of Bolzano were cancelled. There were already people sitting around the airport trying to figure out what to do. A couple trying to get back to England, were to take the train to Munich, and then... "Well, once in Munich, we will see how we can get to one of the Channel crossing points", they said. I drove the 400 miles to Rome and Tine drove the 600 miles to Belgium.

Arriving in Rome, I dropped the car at the Hertz office in Fiumicino airport. I took a look around the airport, and seeing all the flight cancellations, and the hundreds of people queueing up to rebook their flights, it looked like we took the right decision to drive.

By the time I got in my apartment and had a look on the Internet, Brussels Airlines had already cancelled all flights until Monday... at least. We will see if I can fly to the Dominican on Tuesday. It seems the volcanic ash cloud is spreading all the way to Rome now...

On Humanitarian News, you can find the latest news articles on the volcanic ash spreading.

The NY Times has a good overview on the EU airport status.

As many airport and airline websites are melting under the heavy traffic, to track flights, and flights' status, use FlightStats instead.

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Ski run above the clouds

Skiing this morning:


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Too busy doing important things



2,200m high. Clear and crips air with a small layer of new snow every night. If you want to catch up with me, you'll have to hurry and be fast:

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The carbon footprint of a Google Search

google logo

IT research firm Gartner estimates Google's data centres contain nearly a million servers, each drawing about 1 kilowatt of electricity. So every hour Google's engine burns through 1 million kilowatt-hours. Google serves up approximately 10 million search results per hour, so one search has the same energy cost as turning on a 100-watt light bulb for an hour. (Full)
Discovered via Daily Good

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