Friday, April 22, 2011

Best of the Week #17

I worked the Google like a pro this week, and have many many things to report!
My most popular post was Red Velvet Brownies – everyone loves these (and for good reason!)

Note that I just said “The Google.” The Onion has something to say about that on that subject…
"The popular search engine Google announced plans Friday to launch a new site,, to appeal to older adults not able to navigate the original website's single text field and two clearly marked buttons...All you have to do to turn the website on is put the little blinking line thing in the cyberspace window at the top of the screen, type ',' and press 'return'—although it will also recognize,, and 'THEGOOGLE' typed into a Word document."
I happen to subscribe to Popular Science’s newsletter (surprise - bet you wouldn’t have guessed that one!) this week they presented “an in-depth look at sports' craziest geoengineering projects.” For example:
Qatari engineers recently announced a project to develop solar-powered artificial clouds to shade the 2022 World Cup from the country’s unforgiving summer sun. One remotely steerable cloud comes with a hefty price tag - $500,000 - just to cool the field by 10 degrees.

This is cute, from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary:

And so is this, from Delightful Bitefuls

In the foreign aid world (because if you follow you’ve probably noticed that I can’t let a Best of the Week go by without getting at least a little socially conscious), sad news this week! Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools (aka the guy who builds schools for girls in Pakistan) was accused of many things, including lying, fraud, etc…
Much has been said by many people who know more than me.
But what has me most concerned is this final point. Using charitable “awareness raising” (fund raising) material in our schools.
Whether it’s TOMS A Day Without Shoes or CAI’s Pennies for Peace, schools and teachers are using what are essentially commercials for a charitable product to teach children about the larger world and philanthropy. As is the case with most commercials, these “awareness raising activities” often distort or over-simplify the problems faced in ways that benefit their own organization.
This is extremely worrying as the children brought up on these myths and misconceptions are going to turn into businessmen, philanthropists, and law makers. What decisions will they make if they have a very distorted view of what the world is like and how to really help.

Kristof points out that recent allegations aside, Mortenson was right about a lot of things:
He was right about the need for American outreach in the Muslim world. He was right that building schools tends to promote stability more than dropping bombs. He was right about the transformative power of education, especially girls’ education. He was right about the need to listen to local people — yes, over cup after cup after cup of tea — rather than just issue instructions.

And the great Chris Blattman says: 
I also worry that a Three Cups of Tea scandal sends shock-waves around the globe, while outfits like UNDP (where 4.1% of funds going to programs, let alone 41%, would be a freaking miracle) get away scott free.

Sign. So sad.

As you’ve probably heard, Monday was the Boston Marathon. Congratulations to my friend Chris who ran it for the third time in a row!!! 

World records were set…but they don’t count...
Boston Marathon officials say they will apply to the international track governing body to have Geoffrey Mutai's winning time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds certified as a world record. (source)

It rained last weekend, and the Georgetown Waterfront flooded. Like WOAH! I'm so bummed - what you're looking at is one of my favorite restaurants (Farmers and Fishers) under water! (I could have used a terrible pun there but I didn't. Too soon.)

I don’t have a smart phone because a) I live under a rock, and b) I don’t like when people contact me…this NYT article brings up interesting points about phone etiquite:

“I’m fine with people stepping aside to check something, but when I’m standing in front of someone and in the middle of my conversation they whip out their phone, I’ll just stop talking to them and walk away. If they’re going to be rude, I’ll be rude right back.” 

"A silence falls over the group and we all engage in a mass thumb-wrestling competition between man and little machine."

These pictures in The Atlantic are really powerful: Surrounding the small town of Dadaab, Kenya, is one of the oldest and largest refugee camps in the world, now home more than 332,000 people, mainly from Somalia. (source)

Question for my readers – did you grow up eating dessert every night???  Because I definitely did. And none of that "fruit slices are dessert" business either...we did the good stuff! I saw this conversation about it and it got me wondering how "normal" my family is...

This handy list of cooking and baking substitutions is worth bookmarking. I am constantly running out of vital ingredients mid-cooking. 

Guess what I'm making this weekend? Funfetti Cakeballs!!! Oooohhhh YEAH!

Have a wonderful weekend! And Happy Easter! (Read about Easter in my family here.)