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All about ISIS

(May 24th, 2015)

It is always easy to portray Islamic State as a bloodthirsty monster and… to stop here. This kind of attitude presents two majors drawbacks (to my eyes):

  1. As all black-and-white approaches, it does not allow understanding,it does not allow determining where Daesh or ISIS is coming. It’s happy with just condemning, preferably in reference to the bloody demonstrations (which are a key part of their own propaganda, which we fall for).
  2. Worst, without understanding what ISIS really is, there is little hope to stop them, to contain them or to reduce them.

With this in view, I found two remarkable articles which try and bring some light on this very complex issue. One tries to determine the operating modes of ISIS (a sectarian organisation, but not an arbitrary lack of logic; A rigid organisation directed by rules extracted from the Kuran) in order to define pragmatic orientations to oppose the Islamic State with some efficiency (and which gives explanations on why some strategies are/were so blatanlty inefficient). Written by Graeme Wood, published in The Atlantic, What ISIS really wants is a realtively long paper, but worth all your reading time.

The other looks more specifically into power structures of the organization. This is a barely understood side (even if newspapers sometimes speak about the Coalition efforts to eliminate some of ISIS leaders), and it is written by Adrian Lewis for BBC: Islamic State: How it is run.

Each of these require your taking time and concentration to draw most of their contents, but I believe that they are useful for all who want to understand first, before building an opinion and before proposing an action plan.

Microcredit, my experience

(May 3rd, 2015)

According to the definition, microcredit consists in attributing small sum credits to small enterprises or indidivuals. The principle had been shown to work well by Bengali Muhammad Yunus and the bank he created, the Grameen Bank. For this, they receieved no less than a Nobel Peace Prize.

We could think that this is very far from us but there is a way you can participate thanks to the Internet. A web site, Kiva, offers you to also lend money (at no interest for you) to people from around the world (maybe in your own country too).

KivaKiva recruits small credit banks all other the world and puts them in contact with people willing to act, from US$25.

You will earn no money, I don’t. There is a small risk seeing somebody unable to reimburse (weather, sickness are common causes I could observe). But how could you not feel obliged to use a few dollars/euros to help people who have no other chance to invest in their future since they have no access to big international banks (the same ones who hesitate to lend money to people like you and me or Ben Bernanke)?

So, since 2011, I lend small sums, I get reimbursed, I lend again. Twice, the money did not come all back. Once, it took a real long time before I got repaid. But I fear I am considering this as a very small price to pay for changing a life or transforming the future of a family or a group of people.

Why wouldn’t you try too? Just go to Kiva and send them 25$ (or 50€?)

PS: Don’t worry! I will earn nothing if you click on the links here, except the small egotistic satisfaction of seeing people following my advice.

Fast forward to 29,029 ft (Mount Everest)

(April 27th, 2015)

Mount Everest is high.

No. It’s the highest point on Earth and it is 29,029-feet high.

Do you see what it really means? This is too high to easily recognize. So, Richard Johnson, Bonnie Berkowitz, and Lazaro Gamio provided a web page with a long graphical representation of this height. You can visit at Scaling Everest. This will slowly open your mind to the perception of new heights.

When you’re finished scaling the huge peak, you can actually fly to its summit in the following NatGeo video:

Breathtaking is the word.

Sources: GeekPress & Beyond the Edge.

Costa Rica: Hummingbirds in flight 3/3

(April 16th, 2015)

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird (Phaeochroa cuvierii, Colibri de Cuvier).
Costa Rica, 2015.

Costa Rica: Hummingbirds in flight 2/3

(April 15th, 2015)

For this hummingbird, the identification is more difficult. Even its name (Stripe-throated Hermit) does not seem very apparent on the photos. But it’s even worse when you see this little hummingbird in flight and not simply on a computer screen.

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit (Phaethornis striigularis, Ermite à gorge rayée).
Costa Rica, 2015.

Costa Rica: Hummingbirds in flight 1/3

(April 14th, 2015)

You should have no difficulty recognizing this bird from its name: Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl, Ariane à ventre gris).
Costa Rica, 2015.

Basiliscus plumifrons

(April 12th, 2015)

This relatively large lizard is also known as Jesus Christ lizard for its spectacular aptitude to walk on water (or more precisely to run on the surface of water). Its colors (mostly light green with touches of turquoise) are quite astonishing as soon as you put it in bright light.

Basiliscus plumifrons

Basiliscus plumifrons.
Costa Rica, 2015.

Basiliscus basiliscus

(April 10th, 2015)

Basiliscus basiliscus

Basiliscus basiliscus.
Costa Rica, 2015.

Green heron

(April 8th, 2015)

Green heron

Green heron (Butorides virescens, Héron vert).
Costa Rica, 2015.

Once more! Ice-Altitude

(April 6th, 2015)

Yes! I did it again! Here is a new web site I launched recently.

this time, the intent is to share Marion Jonchères’ passion for cold, ice, snow and altitude. Here, you will only find extreme sports, high altitude mountaineering, North Pole or South Pole. But this is based on detailed commentaries and spectacular pictures.

I recommend you to go and see Ice-Altitude.com (and don’t hesitate to stop and leave your email to receive her information letter – in French).


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