Sunday, August 28, 2011

In which I say good bye.....

Sorry for the lack of posts recently but I’ve been somewhat busy travelling and have not had much access to the net. The thing is, I’ve left South Sudan. My work here is over, only peace will ensue from now on... You're welcome.

It has been a tremendously exciting experience and I am eternally grateful for having been able to be here for such a momentous period in the history of this new nation.

Anyways, something a little personal, here is a list of things of consideration that I will be taking away with me.

Things I’m going to miss:

  • My peoples
  • Riding my motorcycle through Juba while being terrified for my life as cars seemingly target to run me over
  • Playing ‘Boda-boda’ (motorcycle taxis) to the local law enforcement, as well as random strangers
  • The consistency of the sun
  • Hazy nights hanging out and exchanging stories with my SPLA buddies
  • Watching the rapid development of Juba. As each day passes, building get taller, the streets get brighter and life gets ever more decadent….. for me.
  • Not being in an always-thrilling context that never stagnates.
  • Working in a context where you can claim to be an expert of simply because there isn’t really any way of verifying the stuff you just totally made up.

Things I’m not going to miss:

  • The UN

Things Im going to struggle getting used to in the real world

  • Humvees not accounting for 10% of vehicles on the road
  • Not using the hazard lights when signalling to drive straight through a rounadabout
  • Speaking dialects of Arabic that has a proper grammar
  • Not seeing people carry livestock on to an airplane…. straight up, two ducks in a basket.
  • Picking my nose in public like it’s noteven an issue.
  • Traffic laws
  • Being around people who think Prendergast is an alright guy with good ideas.
  • Being around people who think the Machine gun preacher is going to win an oscar
  • Having to worry about crime….. unless I happen to have aload of cattle.

As for the blog, if you all will permit me, I would like to continue writing when possible. To counter the fall in the legitimacy due to my absence in South Sudan, I have ‘field correspondences’ who I know will be very vocal to any bullshit I try to post and who will also keep me updated on information that is readily availableto those outside the country. There are probably more heartfelt sentiments that I could share about leaving, but I am on my first holiday in a very very very long time andwill therefore go and have fun with that instead.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The impact of blogs VII: Effect of bloggers blogging about other bloggers on the

Development Impacts has an interesting series of articles titled "Impact of Economics Blogs" that makes bloggers feel like they matter. There are currently 3 parts, with more come (I,II,III).

Currently, my favourite is the article that looks at the effect of blogging on the dissemination of papers and whether blogging about a paper lead to it being accessed/disseminated more. The study found that "Blogging about a paper causes a large increase in the number of abstract views and downloads in the same month"

They provide some lovely examples:

Here is one using Chris Blattman's blog:

Oh, that's this blog's stats page. However, it seems that the graph is showing a similar effect. A sudden massive surge in hits from a mere few hours?! From 76 one day to 1,302 the other....What incredible force could have caused such a spike?

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, Blattman!

But I am not alone in having experienced this effect. This is Roving Bandit's after Blattman posted about his blog.

With a massive sample size of a 2 I think we can safely declare this an effect.

The Blattman Blog Effect.

Now how can I use this new found fame as a chat up line?.......

Friday, August 12, 2011

This is not a circus.....


My name is Douglas Lyon.

I work for Japanese television. ( I am however based in Paris, France).

Permit me to use this Google group for my research : I wanted to ask your
guidance... ( and by the way, if you have alreade received this yesterday,
please forgive me... I have never used Google Groups before... )

I currently have a project to visit South Sudan, at the end of this month,
to film for a Japanese television show.

I am looking for something "wild and crazy", or exotique, or funny... This
is for a comedy show, but we want people to be aware of the birth of the
worlds newest independant nation... So the idea is to go to South Sudan,
and do... Something ... "For the first time ever in South Sudan".

I was hoping to find something particular to South Sudan, unusual, or exotic
that cannot be found elsewhere perhaps ? Or some kind of adventure that our
two comedians can experience ? I was thinking about traditional
wrestling... Or attending a wedding of two women, or something...

I was hoping you all might be so kind as to recommend some ideas ? What do
foreigners like to see or do when they visit South Sudan ?

Can you help me ? We would greatly appreciate any ideas or suggestions you
might have...

Thank you in advance, and

best wishes,

Douglas E. Lyon
Excelman Productions
67, rue Traversiere
75012 Paris, France
Mobile : (+33) 6-0742-7838
e-mail :

......So fuck off....

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Terrorice this....

Some jerks behind a desk in London calling themselves Maplecroft have decided to make a little list ranking countries with the highest risk of terrorist attacks. Sadly, they have decided to put South Sudan 5th on the list, below Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Terrorism Risk Index has been developed by Maplecroft, and comprises of three separate sub-indices: incidence – which calculates the frequency of attacks over a 12-month period (June 2009 – June 2010, the latest available data); intensity –a calculation of how lethal terrorist attacks are. The report indicates that in some countries like Greece for example, there have been a lot of small scale attacks that typically do not kill anyone. In other countries, like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan for example, terrorist attacks are designed to kill as many people as possible. The intensity index also counts the number of mass-casualty attacks per country. The third includes historical aspects– the historical component looks at a country’s past experience of terrorism, whether it has a long-standing militant group that has operated in the country, for instance, Colombia’s FARC which has been active since the 1960s. Based on these parameters the Index, released annually covers 196 countries. (Foreignpolicyblog)

My initial reaction to South Sudan’s ranking was straight up anger. It felt like the warmongers were charging at the gates again, trying to paint South Sudan red with violence. Also, I had never really thought of the violence in South Sudan as being terrorism, and so the thought of terrorists running around South Sudan just did not compute in my mind. Then again, defining terrorism has always been a problem in this modern age.

For the purposes of the index, Maplecroft defines terrorism as “incidents in which sub-national or clandestine groups or individuals deliberately attack civilians or non-combatants (including military personnel and assets outside war zones and war-like settings).” (Foreignpolicyblog)

So why did South Sudan manage to land itself in 5th position above Palestine and Yemen?

Following the country’s formal secession from Sudan in July 2011, South Sudan (5) makes its first appearance in the Terrorism Risk Index. The country is rated as ‘extreme risk’ primarily due to the intensity of terrorist attacks, with an average of 6.59 fatalities per terrorist incident, almost three times that of Somalia at 2.23. (Maplecroft)

Wow. That is some pretty hardcore numbers. Three times the intensity of terrorists in Somalia. South Sudanese terrorists must be far better at terrorising than those useless suicide bombers. So how did they come to this conclusion?

A number of terrorist groups operate in South Sudan including the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been responsible for mass-casualty attacks. However, splinter groups that have broken away from the mainstream Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) use terrorist methods and pose the greatest threat. One such group, led by George Athor, was responsible for 111 deaths in an attack in Jonglei province in February 2011. This one incident accounts for over 50% of the 211 fatalities sustained by South Sudan from attacks between April 2010 and March 2011.

One incident…one…. that is all it took to place this brand new country to 5th on the list. By that account, in 2001 the US would have been placed number one in intensity for its 2,606 casualties following a single terrorist attack. Despite whatever magical indices they use, I think that solely basing your ranking on a single event is extremely careless. Especially when you have clearly not even investigated that single event.

The attack the report refers to is one that took place in February following the announcement of the referendum results. A rebel militia, led by George Athor had attacked Fangak County. There were two belligerents in this attack, the rebel militia and the SPLA. Who initiated the attack first is up for debate but the fact that this was clearly a military operation means that this was NOT an act of terrorism.

Phillip Aguer, spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, in a separate interview confirmed 105 people were killed. Reports from the area indicate that 105 people from both sides have killed: 39 civilians, 24 police and 42 from Athor’s men. (link)

Yes, there were civilian casualties, but most military operations in this day and age have civilian casualties. It does not mean that the militias were deliberately targeting them. These various rebel militias, while being an absolute tragedy to the peace of South Sudan, are trying to gain the support of the public while crippling the SPLA. It makes absolutely no strategic sense for them to target civilians. If there were anyone who were targeting civilians, the SPLA would be the one responsible as we have seen in Mayom County.

But that is not the issue. The issue is that these ignorant desk jockeys should really do their homework before they go ahead and scare away any potential foreign investment for South Sudan. I mean, seriously, a simple search in Google or Sudan Tribune would have even sufficed. That is why I get the feeling that they ranked South Sudan as 5th simply because of the juicy publicity that comes with failing the new country. Well done…your publicity stunt has now assured your status as complete failures in your industry of weavers of nightmares for the corporate world.

As a side note, the UK has been classified as medium threat. I would strongly suggest Maplecroft change that to extreme because I’m about to go terrorise their mom’s house.