The African Cliff

I saw this graphic of the “African Cliff” a few weeks ago and have been meaning to blog about it. The graph shows the life expectancy of various countries in Africa over the past 50 years. The mid-90s nosedive is thanks primarily to AIDS.

This should be heart-breaking. Anyone who thinks AIDS is still a disease to blame on sexual deviants is missing the boat. Yes, we can thank inappropriate sexual behavior for helping spread AIDS. But so many AIDS victims became infected thanks to tainted blood, thanks to a lying spouse, or thanks to simply being born. Painting AIDS with the broad brush of sexual sinners is just wrong, and I can’t believe I even have to say that. That kind of thinking reminds me of the holocaust.

Speaking of reminders, the African Cliff graph reminds me of another graph about the Black Plague. This graph shows the population of Europe over time with a huge hit thanks to the plague–a third of the population died. I tried to find a similar graph for AIDS deaths, but I couldn’t find one. Though I have heard–as recently as Sunday’s sermon at church–that AIDS has killed 10% of Africa’s population. Or maybe it was 10% of the population are infected. At any rate, the similarities are striking.

But the major difference is Europeans knew next to nothing about the Black Plague. They didn’t know how to stop it and most people just fled any outbreak, with one exception–Christians. Many Christians stayed behind to care for the sick and dying, often risking their own lives. AIDS is a different story. We don’t know how to cure it yet, but we do know how to stop its spread, how to slow its effects. So why aren’t we? Great strides have been made in recent years against AIDS, often led by Christians, and I only hope we can continue.

Update: Josh asked what he can do to help the cause, so I’ve added a list of four things you can do to fight AIDS after the jump. It’s something I wrote a few years ago for a magazine, so hopefully the links are still good.

Josh asked if money was really the best way to help, and I’m not sure. I do know I’ve heard Bono and lots of others talk about the importance of debt relief since many African countries spend more on their debts than they do on medical care. Bono and the DATA organization are big on relieving debt and establishing fair trade so the African nations will eventually be able to take care of themselves. So advocacy is huge–tell your friends and tell your elected officials.

Continue reading The African Cliff

Wove, Twue Wove

Andy and Anna sittin’ in a tree…

In case you haven’t heard, Andy Fast is getting married! I love hearing from my friends who live far away because it’s just great to hear from them, and it usually means something exciting is happening. Go Andy!

Since graduating college and getting married myself, it’s been fun watching the slow and steady matrimonial march among my friends. It’s just cool when somebody finds that perfect girl (or wakes up and realizes she was there all along) and makes the big leap.

Now if we could just convince more of our friends to move back to the Twin Cities we’d be set.

Presidential Odd Couple

On their tour of southeast Asia former President Bill Clinton offered to let former President George H.W. Bush have the only bed on their airplane. Clinton crashed on the floor out of respect for his 80-year-old predecessor.

That’s a great offbeat news story, but wouldn’t it have been perfect if Clinton and Bush shared the bed? The perfect presidential odd couple.

I’m a Blogaholic

Contrary to popular opinion, they do serve breakfast in hell. And it’s delicious. Whatever you order, I recommend the bacon. I rarely use the word ‘succulent,’ but that’s exactly how I’d describe it.

Anyway, I was having breakfast in Hell’s Kitchen this morning with my lawyer, discussing a new business idea (No matter how many times I write a sentence like that, it never gets old). And I can now officially say it: My name is Kevin, and I’m a blogaholic.

My new business idea is a (you guessed it) blog, which I hope to set up and reveal in the coming weeks and/or months. And I use the phrase “business idea” loosely. I’m not expecting the blog to make much money–if it does, I’ll be elated. If it doesn’t, I won’t be surprised. But it will be fun. That’s what blogging is all about.

Continue reading I’m a Blogaholic

The Non-Promotion Author: Anne Lamott

Today I went to Barnes & Noble and asked about the aforementioned Anne Lamott book. The bookseller looked at me quizzically and then led me towards the Christian Inspiration section (wha!?) where we found a copy of Traveling Mercies, but no Plan B. Then he led me to the computer and searched for the book, found it, poked around at the search results for a while before telling me it’s not available yet.

Apparently it comes out tomorrow. But the guy couldn’t tell me that.

How is it that an author as well-known as Anne Lamott can have such a hodge-podge promotional strategy? Granted she’s no Stephen King, but she has quite a following. Shouldn’t the guy at Barnes & Noble know her book is coming out? Shouldn’t a fan like me have heard about the book a while ago? Shouldn’t I get something better than old Powells and Christianity Today interviews when I search Google? There’s her archives, but those end in October 2004, making you wonder if she couldn’t handle another Bush presidential victory and gave up the column. The best I can come up with is her page on the Steven Barclay Agency site.

Sigh. Not even a web site. How can an author in 2005 not have their own web site? For someone like me who has blogs and web sites on the brain, it’s inconceivable. Yet she does it.

The Monsters of Folk Tour

Who: Jonathan Rundman, Matt Patrick, Nate Houge and Micah Taylor.
What: The Monsters of Folk Tour. Some amazing Twin Cities musicians who normally play solo will be mixing it up together, playing their original songs, swapping instruments, and backing one another up.
When: Monday, March 7, 8 p.m. (They’re also touring South Dakota March 3-6)
Where: Acadia Cafe, Minneapolis
Why: Folk is the new indie rock.

Admission is $5 and I’d love to go if anyone’s willing to give me a ride.

Where’s the Snow?

So far this winter only 18.9 inches of snow have fallen on the Twin Cities (according to the Star Trib). Normal is more in the range of 45 inches. We still have a few weeks left when you could easily expect to see some big snow, but that’d be a big storm to even bring us close to normal.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain, what with my snow blower out of commission and all.