Roundup 2017-05-05

New events

North Africa

Algeria: New book: The history of Algeria from 1830-2000.
… about the colonial era and wounds that remain far from healed.
… or, Echoes of colonial conflict in Algeria reverberate in French politics.
Egypt: ‘Pope Francis arrive in Egypt at a time of great fear among Christians.’
… targeted in bombings, drive-by shootings, assassinations …
Forgiveness: Muslims moved as Coptic Christians do the unimaginable.
Libya: Breakthrough talks appear to yield deal between rival factions.
… and, Libya a hub for online arms trading.

West Africa

Piracy attacks off coast nearly doubled in 2016
Niger: The region quietly piloting a Boko Haram amnesty.
… families whose children joined BH, told to spread the word: surrender, we’ll help you
Nigeria: Violence in S Kaduna threatens to undermine democratic stability.
Senegal: China’s appetite pushes West African fisheries to the brink
… Chinese ships so large they scoop as many fish in one week as Senegalese in a year

East Africa/Horn:

Ethiopia: facing an almost unknown killer drought.
Somalia: US asks aid groups for their locations, signalling possible air strikes
Sudan: Silent conflicts: State censorship in the war zones
… restrictions make it difficult to gain access to some regions for reporting or otherwise
S Sudan: Civil war spirals into genocide, leaving ghost towns in its wake.
British troops arrive to provide engineering, medical aid.
Millions on the brink of war-driven starvation in South Sudan.

Central Asia

Tajikistan: Taliban advances but Dushanbe sanguine.
… and, migrant workers return from Russia, where economic crisis hitting migrants hard.
Turkmenistan: Might and happiness, but few eggs.
Uzbekistan: Plans to issue free-visa policy for Indonesians. (Trainers…?)

West Asia/Gulf

Iraq: 4 neighborhoods away from fully capturing Mosul.
1.5 million Christians have left Iraq since 2003, says an Iraqi MP.
… Kurdistan: playing the independence game.
Israel: Israel’s invisible Filipino work force.
Jordan: King vows to protect Arab Christians.
Saudi Arabia: Thousands of Indian workers are stuck in Saudi Arabia as economy sags.
… more than 10,000 have lost their jobs and many are stuck there.
Turkey: Women are dying in Turkey: ‘thousands murdered or assaulted in recent years’
… ‘rights and protections for women are being curbed at an alarming rate…’

South Asia

Afghanistan: Taliban announces spring offensive: ‘main focus would be foreign forces’
… goal is to implement a shadow, sharia-based government at local level in controlled areas
… all foreigners will likely be considered legitimate targets, and attacks are probable
… already a record number of casualties among Afghan soldiers and civilians
Bangladesh: ‘Christianity thriving in the midst of persecution
… estimate of 10% is high (prob. more 2-5%), but many reports confirm widespread growth
India: 103-yr-old lexicographer on lifetime thinking about one of India’s oldest languages
… focus on Kannada, the dominant language of Karnataka. Mostly unreached.
… and, India’s Silicon Valley is dying of thirst; your city may be next. Bangalore.

East Asia

A good CFR backgrounder on the China-North Korea relationship
China: How much does the Global Times represent the views of China’s leadership?
… Don’t miss: Ian Johnson on Religion in China, Past and Future.
China’s migrant workers top 280 million: often key to Gospel spread, cross-pollination
N Korea: Kim Jong-un is a survivor, not a madman.
… ‘might seem irrational to outsiders, but regime is just taking logical actions to survive’
… China Global Times editorial warns a sixth nuclear test could lead to a point of no return.
Pres. Trump says willing to meet with Kim Jong-un under the right circumstances.
THAAD goes live in South Korea.

Southeast Asia

Indonesia: An election in Jakarta, an omen for Indonesia.
… Roundtable discusses role of religion in politics in Indonesia for 90 minutes: transcript.
… Another panel discusses the role of gender and Islam in Indonesian public policy.
… But the case of Ahok and the election is complex. Here’s analysis of some of the nuance.
Singapore: Government investing in boosting AI capabilities.
Thailand: Intensifies state control under new king.

New Data

Facebook nears 2 billion users.
USA: an astrophysicist used NASA data to make a detailed map of US racial diversity
… gives a bird’s eye view, although it doesn’t get down into specific ethnic groups.
Under Caesar’s Sword: $1.1 million survey exploring how Christians respond to persecution
… in 25 of the hardest places, funded by Templeton Religion Trust.
Pew: 10 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2017.
… How will these shape mobilization, fundraising trends? Could do with some analysis.
US Census: changing economics and demographics of young adulthood, 1975-2016
… impacts the kinds of candidates being recruited
World Bank: Migration and Remittances Brief 27 (PDF, 32pp).
… remittances to developing countries declined; India had the largest decline.
it’s the second year in a row for declines, and hits many poor countries hard
… several high-income countries considering taxing outward remittances

Longer reads

Garber, Megan. “Are we having too much fun?”
… ‘teachers good only if effectively entertain; televangelists = informercial feel to faith’
… America imprisoned by its own need for amusement. How does this affect mission?
Herbert, David. Billions of $ later, Josephy Kony (LRA) remains at large.
… world lost interest in bringing to justice: US troops hunting him have begun pulling out.
Knowles, Daniel. Africa is urbanizing without globalizing.
… ‘African cities are built for consuming, not creating, wealth’
… ‘Kinshasa is 3rd largest city in Africa yet only 11 departing international flights daily’
… ‘Most of Africa’s megacities are an unproductive mix of slums and white elephants’
… and, it’s easier for North Americans to travel within Africa than Africans themselves
The ‘untranslateable emotions’ you never knew you had
… many foreign emotion words have no English equivalent
… learning to identify & cultivate these experiences can give a richer and fuller life
Holtz, Shel. The value of curating content. Great way to create community.
… also, ‘great way to burst your filter bubble… see alternative points of view.’
… (this newsletter, obviously, is curation. I’d love to see others in the missions community do the same)

Lifehacking, Tactics, Skills, Rules

OSACReport: Kidnapping: the Basics.
… types of kidnapping, general kidnapping mitigation, resources.
How anyone can make insanely better slides. 45 slides that illustrate some easy solutions.
Prioritization: The Eisenhower Box: 4-quadrant of urgent vs. important.
… you’ll recognize the box. The delves into some practical applications to implement.
… particularly interesting: ‘elimination before optimization’
… ‘business is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action’
Prioritization: The two-list strategy: another form of ruthless evaluation, good-not-great
Why the inventor of Inbox Zero disavowed it: another view on worth of time management
… ‘techniques designed to enhance productivity seem to exacerbate the very anxieties…’
… ‘the better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have…’
… ‘The more you can convince yourself that you need never make difficult choices – because there will be enough time for everything – the less you will feel obliged to ask yourself whether the life you are choosing is the right one.’
How to customize your Facebook News Feed to maximize your productivity.
… or at least not as distracting and blood-pressure-raising. Good, basic, practical steps.
Developing a learning process: why Elon Musk learns faster, better than anyone else
… brief, practical analysis on becoming an expert-generalist.
Personal OKRs, three years later.
… 3,000 words on setting personal objectives-key-results: skim for lots of good material
… especially appreciated difference between ‘explore’ and ‘exploit’ time quarters.
5 practical tips on how to ask for feedback.
… be specific on what you need, say what you don’t need, ask the right people, 2 more…
50 life lessons: some real gems in this short post (and some that you’ll think are cliche)
… Best: frame every so-called disaster with: ‘in 5 years, will this matter?’

Pioneer Mission Startups, Strategy

Vanity metrics vs. Clarity metrics: the latter are the hidden gears that drive growth
… vanity metric most often no. of people using your service: who’s winning, but not why
… zero in on the earliest action; organize data into event streams; look for times of inaction
Wiles, Jerry. Is orality really effective in sharing the Gospel?
Zylstra, Sarah. Unprecedented unity among Bible translators transforms giving.
… ‘lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could help other causes’
Why companies are not startups: why big companies struggle with innovation.
… startups, designed to search for a business model; companies, for repeatable execution
… must choose to optimize for exploring (search) or execution (repeatably do same thing)
Lose more, win big: the power of high-failure strategies: there are two reasons to “fail fast”
… 1) find errors by making them, learning from/not repeating them, to get to what works
… 2) get through the haystack of “no’s” to find the needle of “yes.”
… explores the latter. Get through 100 “no’s” to find the one “yes” that makes the sale.
… (or, get through 100 “no’s” to find the one Person of Peace who starts the CPM).
The fastest growing companies start really slowly: podcast.
… ‘it can take several years to really figure things out’
The Backfire Effect: why some things generate an emotional response, and others don’t.
… written as a comic. Fair warning: some sporadic strong language in here.
… that warning said, this is incredibly important to bear in mind when mobilizing
… many of the things we share will challenge peoples’ cherished beliefs. Be prepared.

UPG Profiles, Travelogues, Stories

Derailed: India’s rickety railways are in deep financial trouble, kill thousands each year
Insight into Central Asia from a tour guide.
Photographer captures intimacy of daily life in Cambodia.


“I strongly suspect that augmented reality/mixed reality will be the new multitouch”
… the new universal platform to follow smartphones. ~Benedict Evans
The daily lives of 900 million Chinese are conducted through a single app: WeChat.
#Censorship: Turkey blocks Wikipedia.
The reality of life under Turkey’s Internet censorship machine.
China is writing its own Wikipedia. And new rules reign in online news services.
#Commerce: How online shopping makes suckers of us all: issues of dynamic pricing.
… ‘extracting the last possible penny from your wallet’
#Media: Netflix isn’t afraid of people releasing streaming video on Bittorrent
… streaming killed piracy: down from 23% of N American web traffic in 2011 to 5% now
Lyrebird: enables you to copy the voice of anyone. In beta-testing.
… put words in anyone’s mouth, realistically.
#Robots: The race to build the world’s first sex robot (BBC).
… Long read, safe for work, explores possibilities, ethics, long-term implications
#Robots: Boston Dynamics’ robot dogs will deliver packages.
#Social: Can Facebook fix its own worst bug?
… Can hyperconnectivity solve problems it creates?
… ‘decades of research shows most of us prefer stuff that feels true to our worldview…
… even if it isn’t true at all; mining preference signals likely to lead us deeper into bubbles’
… affects the ability for mission agencies to share vision with Christians on Facebook.
… more, ‘Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts: and it’s getting worse
… and, 4 reasons why fake news is here to stay (and will remain a serious problem)
… media consumption habits, you don’t fact-check your friends, you want social news, …
Facebook is adding 3,000 people to its community operations team to respond to reports
… finally, speaking of insulated social media places: where the Internet’s 1% hang out
Google Classroom now available to users without G Suite for Education.
… users can join classes, and create classes. Might explore for mission education.
That Amazon Echo Look camera that watches you dress might be invasive surveillance.
… or, it might be the next step in custom tailoring and manufacturing clothing. Or both.
… how much privacy would someone give up to have clothes tailored perfectly to them?


Hanlon’s Razor: ‘Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect.’

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” ~Edward Abbey

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

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