Helpful news from the Department of Homeland Security today of a non-specific threat to the US mainland this summer. John Ashcroft has also chimed in with the news that the face of Al-Qaeda is changing; terrorists now move around with their families to avoid detection, and try to pass themselves off as European-looking.
Chris reminds us that in the world of social scientists, British sociologists are generally considered the shabbiest. This prompts me to consider just how far I’ve come; although I’m British, am a sociologist, and routinely wear crimpolene, in a former life I was a mathematician.
A number of people have thought to deploy Susan Sontag’s thoughts on photography to think about Abu Ghraib, including Sontag herself in Sunday’s New York Times.
I’m not entirely happy with the interpretations I’ve read so far, and am penning something that will soon appear at the Voice of the Turtle. One of the better commentaries, though, is to be found in a soon-to-be published piece by Eric Cheyfitz, in which there’s a painful reminder of the genealogy of trophy photos of abused people of colour.
Today’s review of Fahrenheit 9/11 in the New York Times offers this tantalising morsel:
A particularly unappetizing spectacle in “Fahrenheit 9/11″ is provided by Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of both the administration’s Iraqi fixation and its doctrine of “preventive” war. We watch him stick his comb in his mouth until it is wet with spit, after which he runs it through his hair.
A few days ago, I wrote about some of the good things that the US owes to South Asia and the diaspora. The list was incomplete. Two additions, both of which I owe to the splendid Anirvan Chatterjee, are ethical online book-buying and The Chippendales. To quote Anirvan’s fine resource on this:
It’s a grey day for the food system, and I’ve got the blues. The World Health Organization has oozed its way around the carbohydrate industry with a fairly fluffy set of admonitions to the food industry not to sell candy to kids because it makes them fat. Naughty food industry, bad food industry.
At the same Gracenet dinner that I met Paul, I learned a thing or two from the visiting speaker, AnnaLee Saxenian. The brain-drain of high-skill technology graduates from China and India to Silicon Valley is only half the story. The brains also go back home, taking their newfound ideas with them. Saxenian writes of “brain circulation”, the trans-Pacific process of cross-fertilization, through which Silicon Valley gets socially networked to urban centres throughout Asia.
I’ve just met a lovely man who works for the US Geological Survey. Given his profession, it’s unfortunate that the best way I can think of describing him is “down to earth”. Still, he had some interesting news for those of us living, as I do, in the Bay Area. We’re all going to die.