Saturday, January 31, 2009

Links I liked

Here are my favorite links from the week:

1. They are digitizing the soils across Africa which I thought was absolutely fascinating, and a project with tremendous potential for agro-development. Truly gargantuan, but important!

2. The Places We Live is a really well-done site (accompanies the book) about slum life around the world. Read/view and be moved!

3. Ranking Rich Countries in the World and their giving. This was pre-Obama, remember!

4. The Destiny of Girls, an article in the Washington Post about the inequality of women in India.

5. Solvatten has been making waves in the blogosphere. What do you think??

Friday, January 30, 2009

Next week, a special surprise

Check out your favorite talk on

So I'm going to TED next week. TED Long Beach 2009 will take place Feb 3-7, 2009. I've been dreaming about going to this conference forever...since several years ago when I watched my first TED talk and was hooked. Don't know what I'm talking about?? Go to the TED website and watch any of those talks. Be prepared to have your mind blown away.

I'm still not sure how I got in. Its a big fluke and a longer story, that you'll find out about on Monday, Feb 2. I'm also doing a live feed from a group blog, where a few of the attendees (the cooler bunch) will be blogging their thoughts. Since I will be a part of that group, I thought it would be nice if I could just feed those directly here.

I'm still not sure how this works, and I'm sure there will be quite a bit of malfunctioning. Wish me luck. I'm nervous, scared, and excited!

Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI): Application deadline FEB 16, 2009

Are you a social entrepreneur or the leader of a social venture, or do you know someone with a social venture that could benefit from capacity building, in-depth consultation on their business plan and mentoring by Santa Clara University faculty and Silicon Valley start-up veterans?

The Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™) is a capacity building program for leaders of social benefit enterprises run by Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology and Society.

Enter now for a chance to attend.

The competition is hosted on Social Edge, the online community for social entrepreneurs. The online application for Santa Clara University’s seventh annual GSBI is available now at and social benefit entrepreneurs from around the world should complete their first exercise online by January 16th.

Through the GSBI competition, up to 20 candidates, who best demonstrate a sustainable and scalable approach to addressing urgent human needs throughout the world, will each receive a full scholarship valued at US$25,000 to attend the GSBI program which combines 4 months of on-line preparation and culminates with an intensive two-week residential program at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley.

Press release:

Apply now: es/gsbi

Spanish, Portuguese, and French versions of this announcement are available on Social Edge. Please help social entrepreneurs around the world find out about this transformative opportunity. Applications must be made in English. us/press-room/press-clips

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Turtles Can Fly: Movie Review

Since I'm on vacation, I'm beginning to catch up on my movies.

Saw Turtles can Fly yesterday. Another phenomenal, depressing, and eye-opening look at the life of kids in a refugee camp. Watch this if you want to know about landmines and how they are collected, what orphans live like in warzones, what war does to children, and just generally about survival.

Trailer here and below:

DEFINITELY watch this!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

D.Light Fellowship Program: DEADLINE FEB 15, 2009

Want to work on bringing light and electricity to some of the poorest people in Asia and Sub Saharan Africa?? Then join the D.Light Design Fellowship Program.

According to their website,
D.light Design ( is a lighting and power company that delivers affordable and high quality solutions to serve families living without adequate electricity. Our mission is to replace every kerosene lantern in the world to provide everyone access to a basic human need: safe and bright light. D.light is financed by prestigious venture capital firms including Nexus India Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Garage Technology Ventures, Mahindra & Mahindra; with investment from leading social enterprise funds Acumen Fund and Gray Matters Capital.
D.Light is kickstarting what looks like a wonderful fellowship, HURRY application deadline is Feb 15!!

We are pleased to announce the launch of the D.light Fellows Program! The Fellows Program connects D.light with passionate and talented professionals from around the world. For terms of 3-10 months, fellows will use their unique skills and experiences to contribute in a significant way to our mission of replacing kerosene lanterns with safe and bright light.

Each fellow will be located in one of our three field offices in India, China, or Tanzania, working closely with our multi-national team across three continents and four countries. As D.light continues to expand quickly, we promise that all fellows will have an invigorating, challenging, and life-change experience!

Please visit our website to view a more detailed description of the program and how to apply. The first application deadline is February 15, 2009, so please consider applying and help us spread the word! We are currently recruiting for the following fellows:

  • Business Development (India)
  • International Business Development (China)
  • Marketing (India)
  • Marketing & Communications (China)
  • Product Design (India)
  • Reliability & Testing (China)
  • Research & Development (China)
  • Supply Chain Management (China)

Monday, January 26, 2009


I thought this video in the New York Times this morning was interesting (though honestly, I thought this video was more fun...also love the song!)

According to their website, Skateistan is
Afghanistan’s first dedicated co-educational skateboarding school. The school will engage with the growing numbers of urbanised youth in Afghanistan through skateboarding and provide new opportunities in cross-cultural interaction and education. Students will be selected from a range of different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Student capacity will be developed in skateboarding, skateboarding instruction, project management, life skills and English. Our aim is to develop a program that empowers youth to take leadership on issues important to them and build networks that will counter current ethnic barriers. See our Frequently Asked Questions section for further details.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire: a review

Little Jamal and Salim riding the train to a better life, in Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire has been getting a LOT of hype, and a lot of people have asked me what I think of the movie and how accurate it really is.

SM is a brave movie. I'm impressed that for once, a story about India's poverty was told with such authenticity (in terms of how it was filmed, where it was filmed, and who acted in it) that it was refreshing. Its sad that it took a white man to tell a brown man's story. And many Indians, particularly the Bollywood elite are notably angry and irritated. But maybe that's what it will take...some semblance of shaming them into action. Its about time Bollywood (and all developing countries in general) started putting out more movies that are authentic and reflective of life as it really is, rather than churning out the monotonous nonsense they do (sorry Bollywood fans, but it is true!).

I haven't spent a lot of time with streetkids or in the slums...maybe several months at most. But their lives really are hard and like that. They do whatever they can to survive - eating, sleeping, begging and traveling all over the place. They aren't born begging...they are often taught to do it and often do it against their own will (until they realize the lucrativeness and stay on with it); they are molested, sold into sex slavery, blinded and maimed in order to line someone else's pocket with money. It is a sick and pathetic world.

Few streetkids will ever speak English or have the confidence to speak back to upper caste people the way that the older Jamal or Latika do...and that's probably the only big move from reality (well, and there would never be any PDA in the streets!). But a lot of the rest of it is true (including the toilets...I've used those toilets and they stink like there is NO tomorrow!)

GO WATCH IT! Trailer here and below:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nick Kristof's Youtube channel

Nick Kristof on assignment for the New York Times.

Nick Kristof (who is sponsoring that amazing contest that I spoke of yesterday) has also started a wonderful (and depressing) YouTube channel to showcase all the columns he's written about. Amazing footage and stories fill the videos. I've seen three today and they were so depressing that I had to switch to watching ABC's The Bachelor.

Here's a sample of one of the more hopeful pieces (last thing I want is for you to be depressed and run away from my blog!):

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This is a list of FAQs, and I'll update them as necessary.

1. Is "Tworque" a word? How did it come up??
I gotta say this is my #1 question!

Well, "tworque" is my word. It means revolutionary (as in "torque") technology and thinking and ideas...that work (get it?? Torque with a 'w' in there...). I believe that even old ideas that are "tweaked" or retrofitted or reworked to make sense for a set population are also revolutionary. So "tworque" combines revolutionary tweaking, and things/thoughts that work.

2. Where were you between July 2008 and Jan 2009. I ask 'cause your blog was quiet?
I was working at the X PRIZE Foundation helping them design a Global Development prize. I am an independent consultant, working on different projects as they come up and interest me. Some projects can be more demanding than others, as was my work at the X PRIZE Foundation. Also, their blog (which I was helping build readership for) was covering a lot of the issues I was posting over here. So it made sense to just focus on theirs until it had a steady readership.

3. I read that you attended TED2009 in Long Beach as a TED Fellow, and put up a list of great FAQs. Where are the TED FAQ's?
Here's FAQ I, FAQII, and FAQIII; Also check out the TED Fellows blog here.

4. How do I email you?
If you are a crazy Nigerian trying to get your grandmother out of jail or if you just like stalking me, please leave me alone. I am dirt poor (really...all I have is this blog!).

Anyone else, can email me at tworque AT gmail DOT com

The End of Whiteness

The Atlantic has a fascinating article about the "erosion of whiteness" within the United States and how, on the eve of a truly historic presidency, what has long been considered the cornerstone of America is now being threatened.

The Election of Barack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend: the gradual erosion of “whiteness” as the touchstone of what it means to be American. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream look like—and how will white Americans fit into it? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? And will a post-white America be less racially divided—or more so? ...

[read more]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change is here!

We have a new President of the United States and I am THRILLED to bits. I think Michelle is super cool too. I have never felt more hopeful, and its a wonderful feeling.

I simply had to say that out loud.

(I still had to put the below picture because it was so funny!)

(at Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London today. photo courtesy of Washington Post)

Awesome job opportunity for a student

New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof (also one of my favorite journalists) is offering a chance of a lifetime for any student based in the United States. He will take you on a trip to visit the places he does in remote parts of the world and give you a powerful stage (the New York Times paper and blog) to let your voice be heard.
So what kind of a person am I looking for? The truth is, I’m not entirely sure – except that I want someone with excellent communication skills, who can blog and vlog in ways that will capture the interest of other students. If you’ve done blogging, vlogging or journalism, be sure to mention that. Ditto for anything else that makes you special or will make your voice more memorable.
[read more]

Monday, January 19, 2009

How to get rid of wasps

Yellow jacket wasps (the type that stung me) are the most aggressive and territorial. Now I have to get rid of three nests...ugh!

I don't like wasps for many reasons. They are mean to bees and they are mean to humans for no reason. Unlike bees, I don't know what good a wasp does for the world. (update: I just read wikipedia and some other links...apparently they keep pest populations down...but so do birds and they are nicer!)

Last night at around 2AM, I was cold and put on a freshly laundered pair of socks. A wasp that was hiding inside my sock for the week (I think it got in there when I had put my clothes outside to dry) stung me repeatedly. I don't have health insurance and I wasn't sure what it was that had bitten me so badly. So in my terrified state, I assumed I was bitten by a black widow and prepared for my death (really...I actually sat down and wrote a Will out!). Fortunately, the stupid wasp emerged from the sock and I gave it a fitting death (I usually subscribe to the non-violence philosophy...but the moral of the story is don't mess with me!). I tried to get the stinger out and it was so painful that I just stuck some antiseptic on it and let it stay. All night I have had a few stingers in my foot. And I've had nightmares of hordes of bees attacking me. Fortunately, I am not allergic to bee/wasp/hornet stings and I am still alive.

This morning I went hunting around the garden to find my almost murderer's friends. There are about three giant wasp nests...which is an improvement over the one I saw about two months ago. They never hurt me, so I didn't see the need to do anything to them. Well, that's certainly changed.

After doing quite a bit of research, I found this site to be the most helpful. Tonight I am going wasp-hunting. Maybe my will will come in handy after all!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tworque is back up!

Right...I've been away, but I'm back now...

My work at the X PRIZE Foundation is done...atleast my initial contract is. Here is what I was working on over there. At the end of December, my colleague and I turned in our final recommendations (after six months of research) to the Foundation. In February, they will let us know what the results of their assessment is, and I'll decide whether to go back or not.

Anyhow, I'm on vacation now and looking at a variety of things to do moving forward.

Look for lots of new stuff starting tomorrow.

GREAT to be back...