"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

9.28.2005

HAPPY, HAPPY, JOY, JOY!


I shouldn't be so gleeful over this, but I am. Tom Delay was FINALLY indicted for one of many stinky things he's allegedly done in Texas over the last few years, and will probably step down from his post before I make it to the airport. If you start looking into the documents and the story (see here and here), it's pretty clear that there's good reason for an indictment. And Craddick should've been indicted, too.

Halfway to Nashville...

...and it sounds like I should take Ryan Adams with me. His second release of the year, Jacksonville City Nights, is beautiful, purer country than anything he ever did with Whiskeytown (Yes, I'm still bitter. I'll get over it. If I can ever bring myself to stop listening to Pneumonia). So he plays a lot of wacked-out sets. So it's likely that he'll die young from some combination of depression and/or whatever he's on. So he says lots of profane words in afternoon sets at big music festivals where young children are in attendance. This is a gorgeous album and if "September" doesn't affect you, you don't have a soul.

I'm off to Tennessee to escape the oppressive heat, spend time with my mama and daddy, eat biscuits at the Loveless Cafe, watch the Franklin Rebels play our biggest rival (those Brentwood snobs), hear some fantastic bluegrass at the Station Inn, meet my best friend's Mr. He's-the-One, and generally enjoy being at a place where the internet connection is so slow that it isn't worth it to try. Y'all have a good weekend!

9.26.2005

who's who on texas in africa

All recurring characters on Texas in Africa get a nickname:

  • Adorable Mike - former colleague and friend who claims he can get away with saying anything. He's right.
  • The Advisor - is just that.
  • The Attorney - friend from Austin, on retainer for all Texas in Africa libel/breaking & entering cases. Composes unique musicals with Miz Boyd (see below) in spare time. Married to the Librarian (see below).
  • The Bad Historian - self-christened himself with that name. Has the goal in life of writing bad, popular history books, which tend to sell a lot more copies than good, academic histories. Wants to be Doris Kearns Goodwin, sans the plagarism.
  • The Blog Stalker - until recently, a perfect stranger. Friend of The Intrepid Lobbyist (see below) who read my blog before we knew each other. Perfectly normal and entirely delightful.
  • The College Family - friends and church adopt-a-student family from church in college.
  • Committee Members 2-5 - Dissertation committee members other than The Advisor (see above).
  • The CPP - close friend from college. Future president (of either the U.S. or the Junior League) or Supreme Court justice as long as she doesn't share her views re: the constitution at her hearing. Planned the Wedding of the Century to SAM (see below).
  • The D.A. - is just that.
  • The Diplomat - is just that. The most Southern gentleman I know. (Seriously. Our entire friendship is based on the fact that he opened doors for ladies in the Have'.)
  • D-Line - professional colleague, co-football season ticket holder, former college defensive lineman.
  • The Doctor - close friend from college, chief resident, all-around good guy, and new daddy.
  • The Drama Queen - friend from college, currently of Nashvegas. Always a source of amusing dating stories.
  • The Ex-Officemate - colleague, friend, and the best officemate I've ever had. Now a professor extraordinaire at a school whose football team never deserves its top 10 ranking.
  • The Ex-Roommate - roommate and friend from college and Austin. Will be a teriffic game warden one day, assuming that hunter education course goes well.
  • Professor Deutsch - friend from Austin, now professor to lots of homeschooled Baptists, German birthday card translator extraordinaire.
  • Favorite Kids #1, 2, & 3 - friends and occasional babysitting charges. Ranked in order of birth, not preference. Masters of plotting and executing unbelievable practical jokes.
  • The Future Congressman - Austin friend. Totally going to get his dream job. Donate now.
  • The Great and Powerful Ploz - roommate and friend from college. Insists on being called Dr. Great and Powerful Ploz since she finished her degree. Don't mess with Ploz.
  • The High School Best Friend - is just that. We also have the exact same first and middle names - oooooh, freaky IMHO, OMG, ROFL, BFF!
  • She who was formerly known as The Intrepid Lobbyist - summer camp friend, formerly a lobbyist for the good guys. "Got" to take state legislators to boxing matches to convince them to do the right thing. Now graduate student and Seattlite extraordinaire.
  • Laura the Elder - college friend/across-the-hall neighbor in the dorm. Now a professional Baptist. We were friends in college, lost touch for several years, and reconnected randomly in Kenya. 'Cause it's a small world after all.
  • The Librarian - close friend in Austin, now working as a Librarian at a middle school for sheltered suburban children. Partner in crime, companion for Nervous Breakdown Lunches, and general mayhem. Married to the Attorney (see above).
  • The Lobbyist for the Dark Side - college and grad school friend, now working for The Man. Had a party when one of his projects was mentioned on the floor of the House as an example of pork-barrel spending. Yeah, it's like that. Loves him some line dancin'. Not to be confused with The Intrepid Lobbyist (see above).
  • The Man - college friend who used to fight the man. Now he is the man.
  • Mark not the Methodist - professional colleague, co-football season ticket holder. Excited to be moving to West Texas to be a professor with a triple-wide. Not to be confused with Mark the Methodist (who is No Longer In The Picture).
  • Melissa the Missionary - friend from college study abroad. Former missionary, current grad student, archnemesis in the War of Inappropriate Christian Products (10 years and counting). Reason I own a 13-inch Jesus candle and a Not-so-Precious Moment figurine, among many, many other wildly inappropriate gifts.
  • Miz Boyd - friend from college and Austin. Neither an Austinite nor Miz Boyd anymore. Tells the Best Stories Ever. Origin of the verb, "Boyd it up."
  • Mommy of Twins - doesn't get enough sleep. If she can make it through the terrible two's, she can make it through anything.
  • Mr. Florida - professional colleague, conducted dissertation fieldwork simultaneously in the middle of a lawless province.
  • My "Brother" - friend and fellow Africanist who became my "brother" upon rescuing me from a very unfortunate situation at a rather unpleasant border crossing. There's nothing like "family" you've never met. We are now even.
  • P - friend from church Up North. Her collection of stolen hymnals is almost as impressive as the fact that she is a former State Bible Drill champion. Married to Preacher J (see below).
  • PhSquared - professional colleague, co-football season ticket holder, tailgater extraordinaire. Obsessed with a band that no longer exists.
  • The Pastor - current, not former. Preaches like an English major. This is a good thing.
  • Preacher J - associate pastor in Up North, moved to the motherland just in time for his son to be born a Texan. Married to P (see above).
  • The Professional Peacekeeper - friend from Up North. Is the world's 911.
  • The Rock Star & the Future Mrs. Rock Star - Yes, really. In a band you've heard of. Steve the Lawyer's sister and future brother-in-law.
  • Sam - actually a missionary. Friend from Africa, source of ideas about modern missions & social justice, source of knowledge about different types of geckos.
  • SAM - Married to the CPP (see above).
  • The Sister - blood, not sorority.
  • Skip - close friend from college. Partner in all things prep, standby date for functions requiring Good Manners, international travel companion (3 continents & counting).
  • SOIUTK is somebody we don't talk about anymore. He wasn't worth it.
  • Steve the Lawyer - friend from Up North. Taught me that there is no word to describe a person from Connecticut except "Nutmegger." Used to have the worst job in government, defending an indefensible policy. Travel friend. Not to be confused with Steve the Lawyer (No Not That One, the Other One) (see below).
  • Steve the Lawyer (No Not That One, the Other One) - not to be confused with Steve the Lawyer (see above). Also named Steve. Also a lawyer. I have too many friends named Steve who are lawyers.
  • Steve Not the Lawyer - Technically is a lawyer, but doesn't work as one. Practical-joke nemesis of self and The Librarian (see above). Interests include the 2000 BFM and tropical-weight linen suits.
  • T & E - college friend and her new husband. He's the coolest, and she is Not to Be Trifled With. E will henceforth often be replied to as The Token Socialist, due to for whom he used to work.
  • The Truly Obsessed - is. With Wilco. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  • 23 - is a child. Professional colleague, co-football season ticket holder, Football T-Shirt Committee Chair, Secretary, Sergeant-at-Arms, etc.
  • The Youth Minister - former employer. Other practical joke nemesis of self and The Librarian (see above). Came home to find kayak on his roof one day (see post #1).

ACL Wrap-up

What a weekend! It was unbelivably hot, as usual (108 degrees on Sunday and not a cloud in the sky to block the sun). Last night during Coldplay we were looking at the surreal scene of dust hanging in the air and the only light coming from the round things that are not the moon. But I had a great time - it was fun to catch up with friends, meet new people, and hear wonderful music. It just doesn't get much better than live music in Austin, Texas.

Bands I saw:
Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon, Kasabian, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Spoon, John Prine, Keane, Lyle Lovett, Split Lip Rayfield, The Asylum Street Spankers, Aqualung, Buddy Guy, The Weary Boys, The Frames, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, the Walkmen, The New Amsterdams, Eisley, M83, Rilo Kiley, Brave Combo, The Arcade Fire, Wilco, The Black Keys, and Coldplay.

Festival Highlights:

  • The weather, at least to the extent that Rita turned east and left us with really nice breezes on Friday and Saturday. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives were ripped apart by this nasty storm, though, and festivalgoers were reminded of the tragedy when the president's helicopter flew over during the Frames set (see lowlights, below) on Saturday afternoon.
  • Steve Earle singing "F the CC" and "Condi, Condi," as well as his wonderful duet on "Comin' Around" with new wife Alison Moorer (whose music I've loved for the last four years and whose version of "Moonshiner" you need to hear).
  • John Prine singing his entirely appropriate, 35-year-old song, "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore" with the best lyrics ever. And also his lovely "Angel from Montgomery."
  • Seeing Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen sing "The Front Porch Song" together. That was on my list of things to do before dying, and I'm glad I finally got the chance. No idea why it took this long.
  • Split Lip Rayfield. Period. Any band that 1) has a bass made out of an old Mercury engine, and 2) has lyrics that say, "Oh, I wish I had a truck on blocks, but my Daddy's BMW is in the way" has my vote.
  • The Asylum Street Spankers' rap tunes. My gosh. I don't know when I've been so offended. Or so amused.
  • Buddy Guy, all around, but especially his amazing "Damn Right I've Got the Blues." Now if only those old people hadn't been bumping and grinding next to us to ruin the moment.
  • Wilco's Saturday night show at Stubb's. Naturally. The Sunday night festival show was also good, but they just played a shortened version of Saturday's set list. Suzanne accused me of being a Wilco nerd. All I have to say about that is that I am not the one who can predict the song before it starts based on which guitar Jeff Tweedy is holding. Ahem.
  • The Black Keys were amazing. How can that just be two guys? Really cool.

Festival Lowlights

  • The weather. 108 on Sunday. It was so miserable. So, so miserable. For the love, put the festival on a later weekend. There are away games in October. It could work.
  • The Frames. They're unoriginal and entirely predictable. I don't care what the KLBJ people thought about their Antone's SXSW show. I was there. They aren't offensive, but they are not worthy of covering "Ring of Fire."
  • Neither is Coldplay.
  • Robert Randolph & the Family Band was really disappointing. I heard they just weren't quite on their game, so I'll see them again sometime.
  • The dust. Ugh.

I'll post some pictures and such later on. Given that I was out until 3 on Saturday and 2 last night, it might be awhile.

9.25.2005

yeah

(Zoran Orlic)

9.22.2005

Poor and Stuck in Houston

This is one of the saddest things I've read about Hurricane Rita. Unfortunately it's not surprising, given the incredibly low priority Texas places on helping its most vulnerable citizens -- and those who are strangers in our land, here to work jobs that our citizens won't take to earn money to support their families in places that don't have opportunity. These are the least of these our brothers and sisters, and I am ashamed that we would leave anyone behind in the face of such a storm. Even if it has turned east.

Game on!

It's official -- you should never listen to poorly-researched rumors at church on Wednesday night, even if they're announced from the mike at Prayer Meeting (I love that I go to a church where the music festival is a prayer concern.). The ACL Festival will continue as scheduled, although a few bands have cancelled due to the traffic mess from the Rita panic. More importantly, the Wilco show for Saturday night at Stubb's is on as well! Who's a happy girl? That'd be me!

In other news, my proposal isn't done, but I sent a draft to The Advisor anyway. Maybe she can help me get unstuck. There won't be much posting this weekend, because it's the happiest weekend of the year! Have a good one!

9.21.2005

This is not good

And ACL should be the least of our worries, but I'm starting to think that Saturday won't happen out there. They'd better not cancel my Wilco!

(NOAA)

9.20.2005

His name is Earl

...and his show is an absolute riot.

9.19.2005

Oh, happy day, part deux

My dear, wonderful Aunt Becki just saved me from a LONG day Wednesday in the OU draw line by writing to tell me that she's got TWO 50-yard line seats for the game with my name on them! The catch is that they're on the OU side and I have to promise not to gloat too much, but that's fine! THE FIFTY YARD LINE to watch Texas finally win this thing.

I don't know that words can convey how happy I am at the moment! Proposal not finished? Can't figure out what dissertation is actually about? Advisor breathing down neck over said document? Miserably hot outside? Stupidity continuing to be himself? None of it matters anymore -- at least for the next two weeks. Between tubing yesterday, picking up my ACL wristband today, and getting this awesome news tonight, this is looking to be a fantastic week.

Those of you who want to go along should email the reason you deserve the ticket and I'll pick the saddest story. Remember, it's in the OU section and you have to be nice to my family!

9.17.2005

today's scores

Baylor (3-0) - Wait, 3-0??????? - The Bears beat Army at the Point, 20-10.

Yale (0-1) - Lost to the University of San Diego, 17-14. This does not bode well for The Game on November 19.

Texas (3-0) - Routed Rice, 51-10. It was hot and muggy. The alumni band's halftime performance was the best part, because of the baton twirling old guy. Someone needs to find out his name, because anyone who can throw a baton to the level of the second deck AND catch it (every fourth or fifth time or so) deserves recognition.

Two out of three ain't bad, especially when it isn't Baylor's fault. As predicted, OU lost. Badly. To UCLA. This is not good for Texas' BCS rating, but I don't care. It's so much fun to watch OU suffer. I can't WAIT for the Cotton Bowl. And Vanderbilt is 3-0, having beaten 2 (that's TWO) SEC teams for the first time in goodness knows how long. And Tennessee is fixin' to lost to Urban Meyer's F-l-o-r-i-d-a team, but Spurrier lost to Alabama, so I'm happy.

apocalypse tomorrow

My world doesn't make sense anymore. By the end of this evening, Baylor and Vanderbilt will be 3-0, and if OU doesn't pick up the pace now, the Sooners will be 1-2. Next thing they'll be telling us that a Republican president has proposed a new New Deal for New Orleans.

9.15.2005

it's almost here!

One of my favorite weekends of the year is almost here - just one week until the Austin City Limits music festival at Zilker Park! Although I'm totally bummed out that Sleater-Kinney got a "better gig" (opening for Pearl Jam in Canada. Whatever.), I'm very excited about seeing Lucinda Williams, Death Cab for Cutie, Kasabian, the Decemberists, the Kaiser Chiefs, and a whole, whole bunch of others. There's a great preview of all the acts here; my goal is to see bands I missed at SXSW and to make it to the front row at the Wilco aftershow at Stubb's (and those tickets are going for $90 on craigslist at the moment. Losers!) . Pictures, reports, & a nasty sunburn are sure to follow.

For those of you with excess free time...

My friend Matt-we've-known-forever-from-Franklin (you know, that Matt) has apparently mastered the Martha Stewart t-shirt folding method. I, on the other hand, don't even understand the diagram. (From marthastewart.com)

9.14.2005

In the Reins

The long-awaited collaboration between Iron & Wine and Calexico is fantastic. I'm a big fan of both acts and expected it to be good, but WOW. Between Sam Beam's lyrics, Calexico's sense of music, AND Joey Burns's dreamy good looks, I cannot WAIT for their show at Stubb's next month. These lyrics from the track "Sixteen, Maybe Less" should give you an idea of how good it is:

"Beyond the ridge to the left, you asked me what I want
Between the trees and cicadas singing around the pond
'I've spent an hour with you, should I want anything else'

One grinning wink like the neon on a liquor store
We were sixteen, maybe less, maybe a little more
I walked home smiling, I finally had a story to tell

And though an autumn time lullaby
Sang our newborn love to sleep
My brother told me he saw you there
In the woods one Christmas Eve, waiting

I met my wife at a party when I drank too much
My son is married and tells me we don't talk enough
Call it predictable, yesterday my dream was of you

Beyond the ridge to the west, the sun had left the sky
Between the trees and the pond, you put your hand in mine
Said, 'Time has bridled us both, but I remember you too'

And though an autumn time lullaby
Sang our newborn love to sleep
I dreamt I traveled and found you there
In the woods one Christmas eve, waiting."

Lyrics by Sam Beam

Getting exactly at what first love is like is only the beginning of this fantastic ep. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

9.13.2005

this won't happen again...

from the Baylor Young Grads of Austin:
"2005 Baylor Football - 2 Wins, No Losses! Come out and celebrate with all the Bears here in Austin. On the third Thursday of every month, we come together and enjoy the company of other Young Grads who live in and around Austin. So come and hang out with us at Iron Cactus on 6th Street at Trinity THIS THURSDAY, September 15th!"

(The record, I mean. Not the happy hour. )

9.10.2005

Game of the Century

Oh, happy day! Oh, happy da-ay!!!

Get your tickets for Los Angeles this week while they're still affordable. OU won today, but not convincingly, and I've thought this is the year for the last six months. Everything IS coming up roses.

Katrina

I haven't posted on Katrina yet, mainly because I've seen so much suffering this summer that I can't watch too much of the coverage. But. Now that FEMA has decided to stop distributing debit cards and instead make direct deposits or send checks to the hurricaine victims, I'm going to say something. HOW OUT OF TOUCH IS THIS ADMINISTRATION WITH REALITY?????? The people who need this money the most -- those who live paycheck-to-paycheck and don't have savings with which to rent a furnished apartment in Houston or buy a new home in Baton Rouge -- very often DON'T HAVE checking and savings accounts. Which means they'll lose at least some percentage of their checks to whomever cashes them, unless someone decides to be nice. Then, they're stuck with $2000 in a very, very insecure form. There's no identity-theft protection for cash. It's scary to carry around that much money (believe me, after a summer in the Congo, I know), and so the temptation will be very strong to spend it quickly on tangible, secure stuff.

The Bush administration has more than once shown its total inability to empathize with the poor. So I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

to do

I've had a list of things to do before dying for many years. With a little inspiration from Kevin, I'm posting part of that list here:

  1. Visit every continent - North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia
  2. Visit 30 countries by age 30 - DONE! - March 2008
  3. Live in Africa. - 1998, 2000, 2006, 2007
  4. Paddle the Rio Grande. - 2004
  5. Write an academic book that's worth reading.
  6. Write a non-academic book that's worth reading.
  7. Stand on the Great Wall of China.
  8. See the Valley of the Umzimkulu. - 2003
  9. Visit 50 states.
  10. Bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge - 2007
  11. Read the Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
  12. Write a published essay. - 2006
  13. See Machu Pichu - 2008
  14. Raft the Nile. - 2006
  15. Earn a PhD. - 2009
  16. Meet a big-time rock star. - 2001 (Bono)
  17. Hear Guy Clark sing "Dublin Blues" live. - 2003
  18. Whitewater raft on every continent - 3 down, 3 to go
  19. Meet a president - 2005 (Clinton)
  20. Raft the Zambezi - 2007
  21. Take a pirogue on the Congo River.
  22. See the Southern Cross. - 2006
  23. Attend the Festival au Desert.
  24. Climb a water tower without getting arrested.
  25. Two-step at Bob Wills Day in Turkey (Texas).
  26. Shark dive in Cape Town.
  27. Raft the Euphrates in Turkey (Turkey).
  28. Dive on the Great Barrier Reef - snorkeling while sick (close enough) - 2008.
  29. Get quoted in the New York Times - 2010

Ohio State

It occurred to me yesterday that we actually saw Ohio State play in the Alamo Bowl last December 29 against the other OSU. We had box seats and VIP passes to everything (bless you, Randy!). It wasn't a very good game, but we did get to see Ginn play. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed. I don't know if it was because Oklahoma State didn't put up much of a fight or because we were more entertained by Cross Canadian Ragweed, who were seated in the next box over. Or it could be because I had a LOT else on my mind at the time, namely the prelims I wasn't studying for that night. The best part of the game was when an OSU tuba player dotted the "i"in "Ohio." La-di-da!

9.09.2005

Proposal issues

I hate writing this proposal almost as much as I hate people who haven't thought about their political views but still vote. Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. But I am super-frustrated with the whole process at the moment, mainly because I've been so busy unpacking, getting used to being in Texas again, and dealing with nasty plumbing problems that there hasn't been much time for writing.

My wonderful, fabulous research group was very helpful today, though. I still don't know how I'm going to get this to The Advisor by Monday, but at least I know what my problems are now. Thanks for the suggestions, y'all, and thanks friends and family for all of your encouragement.

this week in music, etc.

Listening to
James McMurtry - Childish Things
Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives - Soul's Chapel
The Greencards - Weather + Water

Regretting having purchased
Nickel Creek - Why Should the Fire Die - darn you, No Depression!

Live music
James McMurtry in-store at Waterloo - 9/8 - After an awesome performance and getting the new CD signed, we learned that "Levelland" IS about Max Crawford of my hometown of Floydada, TX. Because his grandaddy did grow dryland wheat and Max thought it was a travesty when the high plains started growing cotton. And "Floydada" didn't fit the meter.

Reading
John Barry, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 & How it Changed America
Grant Alden & Peter Blackstock, eds, The Best of No Depression: Writing about American Music
Carlton Stowers, Where Dreams Die Hard: A Small American Town & Its Six-Man Football Team

Eagerly anticipating
Album Releases
Iron & Wine/Calexico - In the Reins - 9/13 AND their show at Stubbs, 10/30
Old 97's - Alive + Wired - 9/20

Live Shows
Neighbors in Need Katrina Benefit - Willie Nelson & Lucinda Williams headlining, 9/21 at the Erwin Center
The Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park - 9/23-25
WILCO at Stubb's, 9/24
Fantastic jazz from the New Orleans musicians who've relocated to Austin

Church
The game of the century, Saturday night at 7 on ABC

Because it's still so cool!

For those of you who didn't get the whole story - he literally walked into the hotel lobby on my second day in Rwanda. I was waiting for a taxi back to Kigali International Airport (which sounds so much more impressive than the one gate actually is) to get my luggage, which had a leisurely overnight in Kenya, and there he was!

30 by 30

Countries Visited and the Year First Visited:

  1. USA (duh)
  2. France, 1994
  3. Canada, 1997
  4. Netherlands, 1998
  5. Switzerland, 1998
  6. Lichtenstein, 1998
  7. Germany, 1998
  8. Austria, 1998
  9. Kenya, 1998
  10. Tanzania, 1998
  11. Mexico, 1999
  12. Greece, 2000
  13. Cameroon, 2000
  14. Italy, 2000
  15. Vatican City, 2000
  16. United Kingdom, 2001
  17. Poland, 2001
  18. South Africa, 2003
  19. Japan, 2004
  20. United Arab Emirates, 2005
  21. Rwanda, 2005
  22. Democratic Republic of Congo, 2005
  23. Uganda, 2006
  24. Zambia, 2007
  25. Zimbabwe, 2007
  26. Turkey, 2008
  27. Kosovo, 2008
  28. Macedonia, 2008
  29. Albania, 2008
  30. Montenegro, 2008

Admittedly questionable:

  1. Burundi, 2007
  2. Malawi, 2007

9.08.2005

1,000 words...

9.06.2005

9.01.2005

about Laura Seay

I am an assistant professor of government at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where I teach courses on African politics, conflict, and international affairs. My primary research interest is in the ways that communities respond to state weakness in sub-Saharan Africa. I'm involved in several research projects relating to this general theme, including a book project on civil society organizations that substitute for the state in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. You can read more about my research and professional work here. From 2009-13, I taught at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.

I have been studying central Africa since 1996 and conducted extensive dissertation fieldwork in the Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I've also lived, worked, and/or studied in Kenya and Cameroon, and traveled in much of the central, eastern, and southern portions of the African continent.

I started this blog in 2005 as a way to keep in touch with friends and family while I was in the D.R. Congo, and have maintained it since as a way to keep track of news and commentary on politics in African states and development issues. The topics discussed here reflect my research interests in state-building, security, and humanitarian and development policy. Opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone (with the exception of those expressed by invited guest bloggers) and in no way reflect the official positions of Colby College or any other organization.
  • Got a comment or complaint? Email me. Please be aware that I do not generally reply to hateful email.
  • I am happy to run constructive rebuttals from organizations whose methods or projects I criticize. Please email me with your concerns.
  • Click here for information on my areas of expertise.
  • I occasionally provide expert witness testimony in asylum cases involving persons from the Kivu provinces. Email me for more information.
  • Interested in what it's like to live in the ungoverned spaces of the eastern DRC? Here are some reflections from my 2006 and 2007 sojourns in the Kivus.
  • I try to catch and correct factual errors as soon as possible. If you see one, please leave a comment on the appropriate post and I'll look into it.

Home sweet home...

I've finally got a place to live for this four-month thing. The ranch it is. It's very pleasant, very quiet, and (I hope) very safe. It's also the site of some of The Devious Debutantes' mischief from a couple of years back - here's hoping no one feels a need to retaliate for incidents like this: