Thursday, February 26, 2004

Take the Tech Worker Challenge!

Are you ancient enough to remember Frogger? I know I am. So are the fun folk at TechsUnite, who have developed a viral Frogger-based game to spread the word about the plight of American tech workers.

It found it easy to help one tech worker reach the other side of the street. Then I left one in the road to be squished by the corporate truck just to see what would happen. (Spoiler: it is not gory.)

The game is not as good or as viral as The Meatrix. But it may well help build the case that American tech workers now face the same dangers as blue-collar factory workers. Both sets of workers risk being laid off with no notice, having their jobs shift overseas, and having their pension robbed.

So pass it on...

Monday, February 23, 2004

Dear Friends of Burma

Several months ago most of the staff and supporters of the Free Burma Coalition left to form the U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB). I became one of the first board members of the new organization. However, it was only today that I started a concerted effort to ask everyone on my Burma email lists to join.

I'm impressed with how, in just a few months, the staff and members of the U.S. Campaign for Burma have pulled together a vibrant new grassroots organization. We are already lobbying, educating and raising money for the cause of democracy and human rights in Burma. We will even hold our first conference on March 27th at George Washington University in Washington DC.

Another first is that we will shortly hold an election for the board of the USCB. This is a vital exercise in accountability that the Free Burma Coalition never achieved since its founding in 1996. As advocates for democracy in Burma, it is important that we practice democracy in our organizations.

So join the USCB today and participate in the upcoming board election!

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Tales From the Darkside

Whenever I want a dispatch from the dark underbelly of corporate America, I read Wall Street Journal editorials or anything in Forbes. There you can overhear corporate flacks and free market true believers as they plot to screw over the general public.

In the February 16 issue of Forbes, Yale Corporate Law Professor Roberta Romano opines: "Let companies choose their own regulators from among the states, the SEC or even other nations. Regulatory innovations would flourish."

I can just imagine what kind of innovations would flourish if companies could choose their own regulators. There would be a race to the bottom as states and countries competed to develop the weakest, most corporate-friendly regulation possible. To a certain extent that already happens.

The point of regulation is accountability. It loses its point if companies can simply opt out of being held accountable.

But if you, like Professor Romano, see the world as composed just of markets, that's exactly the kind of point you can miss or ignore.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Picture From Cape Town

As well as this beautiful picture of Table Mountain topped by clouds, I returned from Cape Town with a bottle of Stellenbosch Merlot, three pots of badger-friendly honey, and a touch of sunburn from touring Robben Island.

I hope to return to Cape Town some time with Ann. The scenery is breath-taking, the people friendly and multiracial, and the food excellent.

Thank you to Frank Almond of the WWF for the picture!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Cape Town

I'm safe and sound at my hotel after a hugely uneventful flight to Cape Town. My ride was waiting for me as I exited customs. I've just enjoyed a free breakfast and Cape Times. Trans-continental travel should always be this easy.

Cape Town reminds me of San Francisco with its bustling port and cloud-topped hills. However the shanty towns aren't quite Bay Area.

Work is out right now. It's only 10.30am and my meeting doesn't start until tomorrow. Plus I can't properly access my work email account from this hotel computer. So I'm going to visit Robben Island. It's a bit too cloudy today for a decent view of the city from Table Mountain so I'll save that climb for Sunday morning.

Monday, February 02, 2004


When I left work this evening, there was a string of news vans along Tremont Street. Workers were putting up crowd control barriers.

Everywhere people were battening down the hatches in preparation for the horde of New England Patriots fans who will be out in force tomorrow to celebrate the team's Superbowl victory.

I'm so glad I'm leaving Boston on a 6am flight tomorrow. When I return from South Africa next Tuesday, the city should once again be sane.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Into Africa

Tuesday I fly to Cape Town.

It's a last minute business trip. I will be representing Oxfam at a meeting of the Global Reporting Initiative and International Council on Mining & Metals. Our goal is to develop disclosure standards for mining companies. It's an important, if technical and obscure, part of my work.

My job at Oxfam takes me to new places. Last November, I took my first trip below the Equator to Peru. Cape Town will be my first exposure to Africa.

I will only have a day or so to see the sights. I'm thinking of climbing Table Mountain if the weather is good or visiting Robben Island if the weather is bad.