More World, Less Bank, says Bank.

Every time I’m surprised by the World Bank, it’s not because it’s an awful organization that’s discovered a new way to do much more harm than good. This is, of course, normal for the Bank, and one oughtn’t to be surprised by this. No, what always catches my breath is the chutzpah along the way. Today, the comrades over at the International Rivers Network have caught the World Bank at it again. It’s the usual story of environmental standards more honoured in the breach than in the observance. Except this time it’s slightly different.

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Space race

I’ve been reading and watching a great deal of science fiction recently. It’s an important genre, rarely accorded the respect it deserves. Octavia Butler’s thoughts are a helpful primer:

So, then, I write science fiction and fantasy for a living. As far as I know I’m still the only Black woman who does this. When I began to do a little public speaking, one of the questions I heard most often was, “What good is science fiction to Black people?” I was usually asked this by a Black person. I gave bits and pieces of answers that didn’t satisfy me and that probably didn’t satisfy my questioners. I resented the question. Why should I have to justify my profession to anyone?

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Of the two deaths on television this morning, that of Ray Charles was by far the more affecting. Reagan’s rites consumed most of the airwaves, though. I’ve not seen such wailing and gnashing of teeth by white folk since Diana died.

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Indian Old Rope Trick

None is needed, but if any were, Thomas Friedman’s latest thoughts on Indian voting patterns provides yet more evidence that he’s less a journalist, more a transcriber of the opinion of powerful friends. Read his insights here. Below, my letter to the editor of the New York Times, which won’t get published because it’s late, ornery, and not quite elegant enough.

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Fighting Patrick Moore

At least one reader of this blog will remember that I once had a fight with Johnny Ball. For those who didn’t grow up in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, Mr Ball was a BBC children’s television presenter with a fondness for mathematics. He fostered a generation of geeks while their parents were out at work, and it widely considered a coup that the Balliol College Mathematics Society was able to invite him to be their keynote speaker one christmas. Mr Ball’s thoughts were, sadly, not all I’d hoped them to be. He’d been correctly fingered as “a man of science trusted by the British people” by British Nuclear Fuels Plc, who had recently retained him as one of their key spokespeople. Ball – Johnny, he’ll always be Johnny to me – decided to use the occassion to sing a song about prime numbers, to ecsatic applause, and then hymn the virtues of nuclear power. I took exception to this, and rather drunkenly and loudly told him so. This is why Johnny’s inclusion in this who is mistakenly enrolled in list of heroes of the revolution is entirely undeserved.

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Ah, the pain of it. Several good jokes and insights into the goings on at the Bio 2004 conference have just been blown away by a dysfunctional computer. Guess I’ll be spending some time on the phone to Toshiba, but not before heading out to support the comrades at Reclaim the Commons. More from that protest over at the Turtle, later today.