I$NY

Friend of a friend is an agronomist for New York’s Central Park. He got a call a couple of weeks ago from the Bloomberg administration. Story is that the conversation ran something like

“Hello!” (or “Hi!” or “Howdy” or “Fuck you” or whatever passes for comradely greeting in New York.)

“Hi!”

“Quick question from the Mayor.”

“Fire away.”

“Michael Bloomberg was wondering.”

“Yes?”

“Well he wanted to know.”

“Yes?”

“We want to know whether there’s any chance that 100,000 people standing on the lawn in Central Park could damage the topsoil?”

“No.”

“But it’s 100,000 people.”

“No chance at all.”

“But they’d all be there at the same time. And topsoil. Well, that’s delicate stuff, right? I mean, there’s but a couple of inches of it in the Amazon.”

“The grass is pretty tough.”

“So no way then?”

“No.”

“Not even if they were all fat? And ugly?”

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In the future, we’ll be stuck in traffic

While in San Francisco last week, I overheard a discussion in which Slashdot was mentioned as one of the first venues that successfully built a vivacious and robust online community. I thought I’d wander over and get a whiff of the local cyberlife and, after a good fifteen minutes of moderate scrutiny, I’m convinced that it’s true – the Slashdot community does look remarkably lively. I’m not sure that I regret not being part of it, though. I imagine I’d lose my shit a great deal.

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Public Sociologies

You may have noticed that blogging was suspended over the past couple of weeks. You may not have noticed that this was because I was at the American Sociological Association annual meetings. Now that I’m back in Durban, here’s a wee reflection on the whole gig…

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WTO Unsurprise

It has been nearly a fortnight, but I’ve been waiting for a chance to share Devinder Sharma’s thoughts before passing comment on the recent fiasco at the WTO. Now that he has been uploaded at Znet, you can read Devinder in all his glory. (And do contribute to Znet if you can – they’re an important home for alternative media.)

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Rewriting the politics of pain

The human sciences, activism, and politics share a common problem. How does the writer represent voices that are not their own? Every representation is an act of power, of deploying someone else’s voice in the service of the writer’s truth. Joan Didion puts it well, and while I don’t have the source here to put it in her more exactly elegant words, I think it runs something like: “If you’re a writer, you’re selling someone out. Always.”

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Sexed up

Being unable to get online for more than a few minutes a day, I’m not sure whether this has yet done the rounds. But George Bush has been the victim of the kind of research that got the British government in such trouble last year. Here’s what GW said about Fidel Castro:

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