Tuesday, August 31, 2010

David Harvey and the possibility of social revolution

"the Problem for the anti-capitalist left is to build organizational forms and to unleash a co-revolutionary dynamic that can replace the present system of compounding accumulation of capital with some other forms of social coordination, exchange and control that can deliver an adequate style and standard of living for the 6.8 billion people living on planet earth."

read more

Monday, August 16, 2010

Manual for climbing mountains

A] Choose the mountain you want to climb

B] Know how to get close to it

C] Learn from someone who has already been up there

D] When seen up close, dangers are controllable

E] The landscape changes, so enjoy it

F] Respect your body

G] Respect your soul

H] Be prepared to climb one kilometer more

I] Be happy when you reach the top

J] Make a promise

L] Tell your story

To read more on each step click here


"Two weeks before the war came, [the girls] wrote their names in the sand. Where are their names now? Written in stone on their tombs. But I tell you one day their names will be written in metal and stone at schools and medical institutions dedicated to their memory. Words are stronger than bullets. We have to offer a message of hope to those who believe in hate and revenge."


Friday, April 17, 2009


more often people should spend time in the open air, with friends, enjoying rum. it would solve the world's problems. one love.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

David Harvey telling it like it is at the Urban Reform Tent, January 29, 2009, World Social Forum, Belem

"I'm delighted to be here, but first of all I'd like to apologize for
speaking English which is the language of international imperialism. I
hope that what I have to say is sufficiently anti-imperialist that you
people will forgive me. (applause)

I am very grateful for this invitation because I learn a great deal from the social movements. I've come here to learn and to listen and
therefore I am already finding this a great educational experience
because as Karl Marx once put it there is always the big question of who will educate the educators.

I have been working for some time on the idea of the Right to the City.
I take it that Right to the City means the right of all of us to create
cities that meet human needs, our needs. The right to the city is not
the right to have - and I'll use an English expression - crumbs from the rich mans table. We should all have the same rights to further construct the different kinds of cities that we want to exist.

The right to the city is not simply the right to what already exists in
the city but the right to make the city into something radically
different. When I look at history I see that cities have been managed by capital more than by people. So in this struggle for the right to the city there is going to be a struggle against capital.

I want to talk a little bit now about the history of the relationship
between capital and city building and ask the question: Why is it that
capital manages to exercise so much rights over the city? And why is it
that popular forces are relatively weak against that power? And I'd also like to talk about how, actually, the way capital works in cities is one of its weaknesses. So at this time I think the struggle for the right to the city is at the center of the struggle against capital. We have now - as you all know - a financial crisis of capitalism. If you look at recent history you will find that over the last 30 years there have been many financial crises. Somebody did a calculation and said that since 1970 there have been 378 financial crisis in the world. Between 1945 and 1970 there were only 56 financial crises. So capital has been producing many financial crises over the last 30 to 40 years. And what is interesting is that many of these financial crises have a basis in urbanization. At the end of the 1980s the Japanese economy crashed and it crashed around property and land speculation. In 1987 in the United States there was a huge crisis in which hundreds of banks went bankrupt and it was all about housing and property development speculation. In the 1970s there was a big, world-wide crises in property markets. And I could go on and on giving you examples of financial crises that are urban based. My guess is that half of the financial crises over the last 30 years are urban property based. The origins of this crisis in the United States came from something called the sub prime mortgage crises. I call this not a sub prime mortgage crisis but an urban crisis.

This is what happened. In the 1990s there came about a problem of
surplus money with nowhere to go. Capitalism is a system that always
produces surpluses. You can think of it this way: the capitalist wakes
up in the morning and he goes into the market with a certain amount of
money and buys labor and means of production. He puts those elements to
work and produces a commodity and sells it for more money than he began
with. So at the end of the day the capitalist has more than he had at
the beginning of the day. And the big question is what does he do with
the more that he's picked up? Now if he were like you and me he would
probably go out and have a good time and spend it. But capitalism is not like that. There are competitive forces that push him to reinvest part of his capital in new developments. In the history of capitalism there has been a 3% rate of growth since 1750. Now a 3% growth rate means that you have to find outlets for capital. So capitalism is always faced with what I call a capital surplus absorption problem. Where can I find a profitable outlet to apply my capital? Now back in 1750 the whole world was open for that question. And at that time the total value of the global economy was $135 billion in goods and services. By the time you get to 1950 there is $4 Trillion in circulation and you have to find outlets for 3% of $4 trillion. By the time you get to the year 2000 you have $42 trillion in circulation. Around now its probably $50 Trillion. In another 25 years at 3% rate of growth it will be $100 trillion. What this means is that there is an increasing difficulty in finding profitable outlets for the surplus capital. This situation can be presented in another way. When capitalism was essentially what was going on in Manchester and a few other places in the World, a 3% growth rate posed no problem. Now we have to put a 3% rate of growth on everything that is happening in China, East and Southeast Asia, Europe, much of Latin America and North America and there is a huge, huge problem. Now capitalists, when they have money, have a choice as to how they reinvest it. You can invest in new production. An argument for making the rich richer is that they will reinvest in production and that this will generate employment and a better standard of living for the people. But
since 1970 they have invested less and less in new production. They have invested in buying assets, stock shares, property rights, intellectual property rights and of course property. So since 1970, more and more money has gone into financial assets and when the capitalist class starts buying assets the value of the assets increases. So they start to make money out of the increase in the value of their assets. So property prices go up and up and up. And this does not make for a better city it makes for a more expensive city. Furthermore, to the degree that they want to build condominiums and affluent housing they have to drive poor people off their land. They have to take away our right to the city. So that in New York City I find it very difficult to live in Manhattan, and I am a reasonably well paid professor. The mass of the population that actually works in the city cannot afford to live in the city because property prices have gone up and up and up and up. In other words the people's right to the city has been taken away. Sometimes it has been taken away through actions of the market, sometimes its been taken away by government action expelling people from where they live, sometimes it has been taken away by illegal means, violence, setting fire to a
building. There was a period where one part of New York City had fire
after fire after fire.

So what this does is to create a situation where the rich can increasingly take over the whole domination of the city. And they have
to do that because this is the only way they can use their surplus
capital. And at some point however there is also the incentive for this
process of city building to go down to the poorer people. The financial
institutions lend to the property developers to get them to develop
large areas of the city. You have the developers but then the problem is who do the developers sell their properties too? If working class
incomes were increasing then maybe you could sell to the working class.
But since the 1970s the policies of neoliberalism have been about wage
repression. In the United States real wages haven't risen since 1970, so you have a situation where real wages are constant but property prices are going up. So where is the demand for the houses going to come from? The answer was you invite the working classes into the debt environment. And what we see is that household debt in the United States has gone from about $40,000 per household to over $120,000 per household in the last 20 years. The financial institutions knock on the doors of working class people and say, "we have a good deal for you. You borrow money from us and you can become a homeowner, and don't worry, if at some point you can't pay your debt the housing prices are going to go up so everything is fine".

So more and more low income people were bought into the debt environment. But then about two years ago property prices started to
come down. The gap between what working class people could afford and
what the debt was was too big. Suddenly you had a foreclosure wave going through many American cities. But as usually happens with something of this kind there is an uneven geographical development of that wave. The first wave hit very low income communities in many of the older cities in the United States. There is a wonderful map that you can see on the BBC website of the foreclosures in the city of Cleveland. And what you see is a dot map of the foreclosures that is highly concentrated in certain areas of he city. There is a map beside it which shows a distribution of the African American population, and the two maps correspond. What this means is that this was robbery of a low income African American population. This has been the biggest loss of assets for low income populations in the United States that there has ever been. 2 Million people have lost their homes. And at that very moment when that was happening the bonuses paid out on Wall street were coming to over $30 Billion - that is the extra money that is paid to the bankers for their work. So $30 billion ends up on Wall Street which has effectively been taken from low income neighborhoods. There is talk about this in the United States as a financial Katrina because as you remember Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans differentially and it was the low income black population that got left behind and many of them died. The rich protected their right to the city but the poor essentially lost theirs. In Florida, California and the American South West the pattern was different. It was very much out on the periphery of the cities. And there a lot of money was being lent to the building groups and the developers. They were building housing way out, 30 miles outside of Tuscon and Los Angeles and they couldn't find anybody to sell to so they actually went for a white population that did not like living near immigrants and blacks in the central cities. What this then led to was a situation that happened a year ago when the high gas prices made it very difficult for communities. Many of the people had difficulties paying their debt and so we find a foreclosure wave which is happening in the suburbs and is manly white in places like Florida, Arizona and California. Meanwhile what Wall Street had done is to take all of these risky mortgages and to package them in strange financial instruments. You take all of the mortgages from a particular place and put them into
a pot and then sell shares of that pot to somebody else. The result is
that the whole of the mortgage financial market has globalized. And you
sell pieces of ownership to mortgages to people in Norway or Germany or
the Gulf or whatever. Everybody was told that these mortgages and these
financial instruments were as safe as houses. They turned out not to be
safe and we then had the big crisis which keeps going and going and
going. My argument is that if this crisis is basically a crisis of
urbanization then the solution should be urbanization of a different
sort and this is where the struggle for the right to the city becomes
crucial because we have the opportunity to do something different.

But I am often asked if this crisis is the end of neoliberalism.. My
answer is "no" if you look at what is being proposed in Washington and
London. One of the basic principles that was set up in the 1970s is that state power should protect financial institutions at all costs. And there is a conflict between the well being of financial institutions and the well being of people you chose the well being of the financial institutions. This is the principle that was worked out in New York City in the mid 1970s, and was first defined internationally in Mexico it threatened to go bankrupt in 1982. If Mexico had gone bankrupt it would have destroyed the New York investment banks. So the United States Treasury and the International Monetary Fund combined to help Mexico not go bankrupt. In other words they lent the money to Mexico to pay off the New York bankers. But in so doing they mandated austerity for the Mexican population. In other words they protected the banks and destroyed the people. This has been the standard practice in the International Monetary Fund ever since. Now if you look at the response to the crisis in the United States and Britain, what they have done in effect is to bail out the banks. $700 billion to the banks in the United States. They have done nothing whatsoever to protect the homeowners who have lost their houses. So it is the same principal that we are seeing at work - protect the financial institutions and fuck the people. What we should have done is to take the $700 billion and create an urban redevelopment bank to save all of those neighborhoods that were being destroyed and reconstruct cities more out of popular demand. Interestingly if we had done that then a lot of the crisis would have disappeared because there would be no foreclosed mortgages. Meanwhile we need to organize an anti-eviction movement and we have seen some of that going on in Boston and some other cities. But at this historical moment in the United States there is a sense that popular mobilization is restricted because the election of Obama was a priority. Many people hope that Obama will do something different, unfortunately his economic advisors are exactly those who organized this whole problem in the first place. I doubt that Obama will be as progressive as Lula. You will have to wait a little bit before I think social movements will begin to go in motion. We need a national movement of Urban Reform like you have here.
We need to build a militancy in the way that you have done here. We need in fact to begin to exercise our right to the city. And at some point we'll have to reverse this whole way in which the financial institutions are given priority over us. We have to ask the question what is more important, the value of the banks or the value of humanity. The banking system should serve the people, not live off the people. And the only way in which at some point we are really going to be able to exert the right to the city is that we have to take command of the capitalist surplus absorption problem. We have to socialize the capital surplus. We have to use it to meet social needs . We have to get out of the problem of 3% accumulation forever. We are now at a point where 3% growth rate forever is going to exert such tremendous environmental costs, its going to exert tremendous pressure on social situations that we are going to go from one financial crisis to another. If we come out of this financial crisis in the way they want there will be another financial crisis 5 years from now. So its come to the point when its no longer a matter of accepting what Margaret Thatcher said, that "there is no alternative", and we say that there has to be an alternative. There has to be an alternative to capitalism in general. And we can begin to approach that alternative by perceiving the right to the city as a popular and international demand and I hope that we can all join together in that mission. Thank you very much."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


"This is not just about the kid, it's about our dreadful education and economic situation. That's what pushed us on to the streets," insisted one youth who called himself Andreas. "It's our belief and hope that this is the beginning of a rebellion against the system."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Larry Summers

"No doubt [Summers] is very smart, but you're not giving him the job based on his SAT scores," said economist Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. "What I look at is his track record, and his track record is not great -- he supported the policy of financial deregulation, he thought the asset bubble was just fine, he was not troubled by the stock bubble, he was not troubled by the housing bubble, and he supported the overvalued dollar."

Washington Post

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Old Benedict Anderson article

"You wrote Imagined Communities in the 1980s. What would you have written in the preface of - let’s say a new edition in 2006?'

- "Well, it’s a book I wrote when I was 45. That’s nearly 25 years ago. I have a relationship to that book as to a daughter who has grown up and run off with a bus driver: I see her occasionally but, really, she has gone her own merry way. I can wish her good luck, but now she belongs with someone else. What would I change in the book? Well, should I try to change my daughter?"


Saturday, November 29, 2008


True, some of the white settlers are escapees from hell: Jacob’s wife, Rebekka, whom he imported sight unseen from London, retains too-vivid memories of public hangings and drawings-and-quarterings. “The pile of frisky, still living entrails held before the felon’s eyes then thrown into a bucket and tossed into the Thames; fingers trembling for a lost torso; the hair of a woman guilty of mayhem bright with flame.” America, she figures, can hardly be worse. But even the relatively kindly Rebekka (kindly, that is, until she nearly dies of smallpox herself and gets religion) and the relatively human Jacob have that European brimstone clinging to them, and it’s stinking up the place. One native sachem diagnoses their unique pathology: “Cut loose from the earth’s soul, they insisted on purchase of its soil, and like all orphans they were insatiable. It was their destiny to chew up the world and spit out a horribleness that would destroy all primary peoples.” This sounds like P.C. cant, and even Lina doubts that all Europes are Eurotrash. But the sachem’s got a point. Does anybody own the earth we all inhabit as brothers and sisters? From that perspective, property really is theft, and if you don’t think Europeans did the thieving, I’ve got $24 worth of beads I’d like to sell you.

review of toni morrison's latest novel

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Patrick Manning and Keith Rowley, Bobol again and again

As he left Parliament last night after Manning’s statements, Rowley told reporters: “The facts have come out, that he is wrong. He is too big to say he is wrong. He is too big to say he will apologise. There is somebody or persons who are misleading the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister is prepared to be misled. I am saying now that the Prime Minister is in need of proper advice on these and other matters.”

Rowley added: “Whoever is taking the Prime Minister down this road, is doing him no favours. I think the Prime Minister’s conduct is disgraceful.”

“I call on the Prime Minister to cease and desist. Somebody should advise the Prime Minister when you are in a hole and you want to get out, the first thing you have to do, is stop digging.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


"One of the core components is the medial prefrontal cortex (see diagram), which is known to evaluate things from a highly self-centred perspective of whether they're likely to be good, bad, or indifferent. Parts of this region also light up when people are asked to study lists of adjectives and choose ones that apply to themselves but not to, say, Britney Spears. People who suffer damage to their medial prefrontal cortex become listless and uncommunicative. One woman who recovered from a stroke in that area recalled inhabiting an empty mind, devoid of the wandering, stream-of-consciousness thoughts that most of us take for granted."

read more

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"People wanting to touch strangers."

Once the polls closed on November the 4th, 2008 the night became a stage upon which many individuals came together and shared an idea. It was no longer about race or class, gender or ethnicity, sexuality or age – those variables and many others too – social scientists, politicians and the media use to paint representations of the world we live in. The bodies on the street, the many faces dancing inside their own white house, embracing each other, sharing magic were souls holding the same idea. An idea that made us all family, and that’s what it felt like on the road, like we were all fictive kin. A momentary solidarity. Tangible. Tactile. Real. A solidarity stretching beyond the streets into other countries and towns. Perhaps this idea – change – might be a little hard to define, articulate and give material presence to; but as I moved amongst thousands until the wee hours of the morning we all became more than strangers to each other, we now shared a dream. To hold it inside oneself meant recognising each other as kin. We understood how and why solidarities can and should always be made. There is nothing more terrifying to those in power than the mobilisation of people, together, as one, as family (and I don’t want to borrow the label ‘mob’ to make this point because this was more than a mob).

The anthropology of this fascinates me, its why I do so much work on festivals and carnivals, powwows and football crowds – I love to breath humanity experienced together. Within such socio-cultural forms I believe exists the greatest power - bigger than weapons, the dialectic, religion or capital. The cliché of 'divide and conquer,' is for me personally the root of all the worlds inequalities. Seeing ourselves in each other is a rare glimpse of another world.

For a long time I worried about the spontaneity of people in the US, outside of the contrived and regulated, outside the carnivals that become parades and the sporting triumphs tied to neoliberal economics, I believed this soul, this way of being in the world no longer existed. Last night out on the streets of Washington, DC I saw I was wrong. Those worries were misplaced. There is optimism all around, and while it might have been hibernating and out of sight for a while it returned in a wave of humanity from all corners of the quadrant. For this to happen in DC of all places, a normally staid and low key city, speaks volumes by itself. However, its not just about DC, its about how the idea, the idea we share, makes all of us fictive kin. Makes everyone who cares, who invests their own hopes in the election, it makes every last one of us family. Thats what i felt last night. Thats what i'll always remember...when strangers became family.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


"The chairman of the World Bank visited Haiti this past week. This man, Robert Zoellick, is an expert finance-capitalist, a former partner in the investment bankers Goldman Sachs, whose 22,000 ‘traders’ last year averaged bonuses of more than $600,000 each.

Goldman Sachs paid out over & 18 billion in bonuses to its traders last year, about 50% more than the GDP of Haiti’s 8 million people."

read more

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How free to be radical can an academic really be?

"Who wants to be an academic these days, and what do they do? All the smart people go and work for McKinsey, right? They’re all bankers or something. Who wants to come and waste seven, eight years of their life on their intellectual passion to be trained and prepared for a life as teacher in a university? I don’t want to sacrifice my professional probity, but most academics are not people who change the terms of academic debate; they are people who recycle and elaborate on the insights of others. That’s what most of us do. And if you’re not one of those people, if you have an original agenda of your own, it’s not always easy to get it recognized. It’s not always easy to work across disciplinary lines; it’s not always attractive to be an intellectual—and I don’t mean a public intellectual, but to be an intellectual rather than a scholar. Sometimes those things are pulled in different directions, and it would be silly to pretend that tension isn’t there."
Paul Gilroy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MInerva controversy

"In any case, the best of today’s anthropologists are practically paralyzed by their awareness of the way power shapes and corrupts knowledge."
Priya Satia

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Funding for literature in/from the Caribbean

Nikolai over at Antilles

To the best of my knowledge--and I'd be thrilled to be informed otherwise--no Commonwealth Caribbean country can boast an agency, whether state-funded or private, that gives regular, consistent, and substantial financial support to our small, struggling publishing industry. Occasionally a ministry of culture or a large corporation will give an ad hoc grant to a specific book project. The government of Guyana funds the admirable Guyana Prizes for Literature, but that benefits publishers only indirectly, if the sales of a prize-winning book increase. The government of Barbados has funded the revival of the journal Bim--I'll post more about that one of these days--and the Central Bank of Barbados funds the annual Frank Collymore Literary Awards. But there is simply no equivalent in this part of the world to the kind of basic support that the Canada Council for the Arts gives to Canadian publishers--or that the Arts Council of England gives to many small British publishers, or that various national and regional arts bodies give to small American publishers.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Capital desires accumulation

"More than that, what we are seeing with the crash on Wall Street, I believe, should be for Friedmanism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for authoritarian communism: an indictment of ideology. It cannot simply be written off as corruption or greed, because what we have been living, since Reagan, is a policy of liberating the forces of greed to discard the idea of the government as regulator, of protecting citizens and consumers from the detrimental impact of greed, ideas that, of course, gained great currency after the market crash of 1929, but that really what we have been living is a liberation movement, indeed the most successful liberation movement of our time, which is the movement by capital to liberate itself from all constraints on its accumulation."

Naomi Klein on Democracy Now

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A failure of leadership

It occurs to me that in the last 7 years Euro-American society has been offered the opportunity to redefine its core on two occasions. First was 9/11 when many saw restraint and dialogue as a chance to ask why something like this would occur, what was it that made people so fundamentalist? What were the conditions they were living under, what was our own role in their bitterness? We know what happened. Instead of dialogue there was war, lies, more war, oil robbery and a long list of negative impacts. Over the last month we have been offered another chance at change, at a new way of living in the world. This time the desire for a more socially conscious form of capitalism has also been usurped by maintaining and pursuing inequality. Institutionalising it further. We could say there is a global class elite, consolidating its control and power – and yes there is that going. However, fundamentally I believe it’s a failure of leadership. We have the wrong people in positions of power in every country, every council and every piece of industry. The people who might be able to help never get these jobs or go for them. The voices who need to be heard who have vision, imagination, conscience are found in spaces where their dreams, experience and vocal cords make no difference to the political and economic decisions that define our present and the future we're moving into. Am i disappointed? Certainly. Are we without hope? Certainly not. But maybe we need more than hope

Check out Naomi Klein's take over at democracy now...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


"the summer of 1999, against the wishes of people who paid attention during their economics classes, our ‘prudent’ Chancellor of the Exchequer,[Today Prime Minster] Mr Gordon Brown, started selling off over half of Britain’s gold reserves (three hundred and ninety-five tonnes in total) for a knockdown price of around $275.00 a troy ounce."


"Having broken through the $1,000 barrier earlier in the year, the gold price has retreated slightly and is now trading at around $880 an ounce."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


A democracy now show on the 700 billion banditry

From the transcript


Yeah, well, the point is, when Bush and McCain and Paulson, who was head of Goldman Sachs before he was head of the Treasury, say they don’t know how this happened, they designed this system. We had a regulatory regime in place ever since the Great Depression to prevent this kind of meltdown, and that said that stockbrokers, insurance companies, banks, investment banks, commercial banks, could not merge. And in 1999, they passed legislation, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Gramm is the guy who McCain supported for president in ’96. He was co-chair of his campaign until he complained about the whiners out there, meaning the public. And that legislation is what caused this. It allowed the swaps and everything else.

And then, in 2000, hours before the Christmas break, Gramm introduced legislation. I’m holding it in my hand. This smoking gun is available on the internet; you can read it. And what it said is that the swaps is defined in the Financial Service Modernization Act, meaning that instead of going into a bank and somebody said, “OK, we’ll give you a loan, and we expect you to pay it over thirty years. We know your house has the equity. We know you have the means to pay it”—that was the traditional way—instead, they allowed these mergers, and as a result, they could buy insurance on it, they could do these swaps, they could do what they call hybrid instruments. And it is legislation that was never discussed, was—never had hearings or anything, says that all of this stuff is exempted from all previous regulation. The SEC cannot regulate it, the Commodity Futures Board cannot regulate it.

So they gave these institutions, of which Goldman Sachs was critical—so was Citigroup, where Robert Rubin, who was Clinton’s Treasury secretary, he had also come from Goldman Sachs. And, by the way, even though this is Republican-led, there were plenty of Democrats, in fact, a majority of Democrats, who voted for this. And Robert Rubin, who unfortunately is advising Barack Obama—I don’t know how this guy can wake up and—you know, and not be embarrassed and how he can appear on television—and Lawrence Summers, these are the two guys in the Clinton administration who teamed up with Phil Gramm to pass that atrocious legislation.

And now, you know, it seems to me, in terms of the bailout, why don’t they do what Hillary Clinton said during the primaries: just put a freeze on foreclosures? Start out with helping the homeowners and say, “OK, we’re not going to foreclose your house for the next year. We’re going to force the banks to work out reasonable payments. We’ll try to help you hold on to it.” That would have stopped the bleeding here much more effectively than throwing $700 billion at these bandits."

The Philosophy Lexicon

Witty. With an interesting origin story. A few of my favs.

chomsky, adj. Said of a theory that draws extravagant metaphysical implications from scientifically established facts. "Essentially, Hume's criticism of the Argument from Design is that it leads in all its forms to blatantly chomsky conclusions." "The conclusions drawn from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle are not only on average chomskier than those drawn from Godel's theorem; most of them are downright merleau-ponty."

deleuzion, n. A false, persistent philosophical belief, unsubstantiated by evidence or argument. "He suffered from the deleuzion that Spinoza could be used to clarify Lacanian psychoanalysis."

derrida. A sequence of signs that fails to signify anything beyond itself. From a old French nonsense refrain: "Hey nonny derrida, nonny nonny derrida falala."

heidegger, n. A ponderous device for boring through thick layers of substance. "It's buried so deep we'll have to use a heidegger." Also useful for burying one's own past.

lakoff, v. To rub the deep structure of a sentence until it expresses its logical form. "Too much laking off can cause insanity."

locke, v. To mistake a contemporary philosopher with an earlier philosopher of the same name. "I'm afraid you have David and C. I. Lewis locked"; hence, to unlocke, to become otherwise (q.v.).

voltaire, n. A unit of enlightenment. Hence voltairage, as in the warning to would-be purveyors of superstition and tyranny: "Danger: high voltairage in this vicinity."

An Internetlexicon also exists

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dialectical Materialism and the Fate of Humanity

With predatory capitalism and its south sea bubbles failing i was reminded of CLR James's 1947 piece Dialectical Materialism and the Fate of Humanity. They dont make big brains like this anymore...

"He who would exhibit the Marxist method must grasp the full significance of that early uprising of the masses when Christianity proclaimed its message. We must watch not only the primitiveness and simplicity of its aims but their comprehensive scope. Then by slow degrees, through the centuries, we see one part of the aim becoming concrete for one section of the population, and then another part for another section. Ideas arise from concrete conditions to become partially embodied in social classes and give rise to further interrelations between the spiral of real and ideal, content and form. This is the dialectic to which Marx gave a firm materialistic basis in the developing process of production. As society develops, the possibilities for individual development of man become greater and greater, but the conflict of classes becomes sharper and sharper. We stand today at an extreme state of these interrelated phenomena of social development. When a modern worker demands the right of free speech, the right of free press, of free assembly, continuous employment, social insurance, the best medical attention, the best education, he demands in reality the “social republic”. Spinoza and Kant would stand aghast at what the average worker takes for granted today. But he does not demand them as an individual or in the primitive manner the early Christian did. In America, for instance, there are some thirteen million workers organised for nothing else but the preservation and extension of these values. These are the values of modern civilisation. They are embodied in the very web and texture of the lives of the masses of the people. Never were such precious values so resolutely held as necessary to complete living by so substantial and so powerful a section of society. Socialism means simply the complete expansion and fulfillment of these values in the life of the individual. This can only be attained by the most merciless struggle of the whole class against its capitalist masters. The realisation of this necessity is the final prelude to full self-consciousness."

This paragraph from toward the end is a pretty apt summary of the whole piece.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

une rencontre bien totale

"Imagine a poem that forces history, psychoanalysis, ethnography, and revolution to coexist. The Cahier stages the uneasy alliances between the monumental projections of empire and its abject underside: populations looted, cultures trampled, slaves reduced by terror and regulated by force. Alternately strident and elegiac, Césaire pits the ongoing myths of inferiority against the lure of “civilizing” language. The relics and scraps of bodies, the slaves who had been called “ebony wood,” “pieces of the Indies,” or “heads of cattle,” return as ancestor spirits, caught in the evil that created them.

What these metamorphoses have in common is a secret pact with the banal. Césaire plied his words as if they were ritual incantation, and he knew that the magic of ritual lay in its ordinariness, its way of reiterating the simplest, least gilded things. The sacred had to be concrete in order to transform, palpable, never abstract. The bond between colonizer and colonized, the mutual adaptability, as Hegel had it, of master and slave, gained substance through these meditations on mimicry, adaptation, and appropriation. Resistance for Césaire is not just political, but psychic. Repression is not only a history of mutilation and torture. It is also the buried and forgotten. The revolution must be “internal,” a complete overhauling of consciousness, what he called 'une rencontre bien totale.'"


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Culture Matters discussion on HTS

Some interesting debate over at Culture Matters about Steve Featherstone's piece on Human Terrain System (HTS) in the September issue of Harpers magazine.

Here's a extract by joneilortiz from a comment toward the end

"It doesn’t matter at what point in the “chain” these so-called anthropologists make their appearance when the whole chain itself is criminal. Likewise, the verdict does not change if it’s the doctor or some alleged terrorist that’s killed, or if someone other than the author of the HTS report calls the shots, or if any of many “inappropriate” actions are taken on its authority. The nitpicky debates over what HTS actions are considered “direct” are moot and disingenuous. Reading some of the comments, one gets the impression that should an HTS “anthropologist” get caught pulling the trigger, someone would pop up and argue that at least they didn’t load it."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Roberto Mangabeira Unger

"But Unger doesn’t think Brazil should compete against the likes of China by giving its workers ever-lower wages. And he rejects the neo-Korean model because he wants to start an economic revolution from the ground up, not top down. Instead, Unger proposes that the government both tax and invest heavily. Voting should be made mandatory, as should savings. These measures would buffer the economy from the influence of international investors. This flies against the textbooks that say governments should prostrate themselves to foreign investment. Growth would not come from big business then, but from Brazil’s small enterprises. Instead of a tiny business elite dropping crumbs for the country’s poor, a broad middle class of small business entrepreneurs would form Brazil’s engine of growth. These small enterprises would get access to the credit and tax benefits that big businesses more typically enjoy. The benefits of the market should be shared broadly, not monopolized by big business.

In a way, the idea is very much free-market orthodoxy. Economic decisions would be made on a smaller, more local scale. Individuals know what’s best for themselves and should be encouraged to pursue their own self interest. Why should people cede control of their own destinies to large, distant institutions, be they government, corporations or the World Bank? By giving individuals the tools and freedom to succeed, they can take charge of their own prosperity.

The test for Unger is not only whether his ideas will succeed in the real world, but also whether they will be implemented in the first place. Politics has a way of hammering down the nail that sticks out the highest. Bold ideas that are nurtured in academia get watered down with compromise. But Unger’s appointment is the brightest hope in recent years that a new vision can transform the world. Brazil is an experiment worth watching."


Monday, August 25, 2008

"Play Yuh Mas Rev"

Mas playing priest dies

By ANGELA PIDDUCK, Trinidad Newsday, Sunday, January 20 2008

(This story was published first in 'The Anglican Outlook', the newspaper of the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago in November 2001; and repeated in the same newspaper in its Christmas 2007/January 2008 issue following the Revd Fr Clifford Hendey's death in England on October 17, 2007.)

The Reverend Father Clifford Hendey (spelt correctly), the first Anglican priest in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago who "played mas", died in England on October 17, 2007, at the age of 77, after suffering from cancer of the pancreas for one year.

In recent years, what caused a "furore" in the then rather conservative church, raised just a few eyebrows when Canon Winston Joseph and Father Brian Jemmott played in masquerade bands at Carnival.

To quote from The Anglican Outlook: "The English priest, then 35 years and stationed at St Saviour’s (now Holy Saviour), Curepe, played with the Angostura Starlift Steelband on the streets of Port-of-Spain on Carnival Tuesday in 1966. Many people were horrified but Fr Hendey told the now defunct Daily Mirror he thought he had done nothing wrong." Reactions were mixed about Father Hendey’s Carnival activities.

Bishop William James Hughes summoned him to Hayes Court and administered a severe reprimand and considered whether or not to send him back to the United Kingdom "as he had caused irreparable damage to be done to the church. "I had ‘split’ it."

Father Rawle Douglin (now Bishop) commented that "although things might be lawful, they were not necessarily expedient."

The Sunday after Carnival 1966, scores of people flocked the St Saviour’s Church to see the ‘priest who played mas’ but were disappointed as he was due to take the service at St John’s, San Juan."

A packed-to-capacity Holy Trinity Cathedral where Father Hendey was delivering a series of lunch-time Lenten lectures, was counterbalanced by the congregation of St John’s, San Juan, locking him out of the church and waving banners inscribed with the words "We want a priest to say Mass, not play Mas’."

Neither St Saviour’s nor any of the other clergy had anything to say. In 2001, Father Hendey wrote Vernon Allick of the Anglican Outlook giving the reasons for his mas playing.

In late October 1958, the young priest who had recently arrived in the diocese, was "dropped off" at the Toco Rectory, and when Captain Clifford Beepat of the Church Army left for duties in the south, "I felt alone and isolated — abandoned even" said the late priest whose feelings were made even more acute by not having a car to travel out of the north coast , nor a phone by which to communicate with life beyond it. Added to which there were sensations of being an alien in a strange land as he had difficulty understanding the language although it was English, felt uncomfortable in what was for him excessive heat, and could not get English food. Father Hendey "missed to the point of frustration all the conveniences of life that were dependent on a supply of electricity."

When the then Bishop Noel Chamberlain declined Hendey’s request for repatriation, at his own expense, an agreement was reached that in return for remaining on the north coast for 12 months, he would be posted elsewhere in the diocese.

Faced with this 12-month sojourn which eventually became seven years, Hendey said, "I had to deal with two options, assimilate or disintegrate mentally. Of course, I chose to assimilate, which choice was made easy by the open-heartedness of all Toconans, especially that of the young people. But assimilation could not lead to disappearance. It had to be a positive and creative assimilation that would enhance my ministry."

"So I formulated for myself — it was a thoughout and conscious formulation — a theory of what I called an Incarnational Ministry which would mean exchanging ‘absolutely and totally’ my "Englishness" for "Trinidadianness." The method by which this would be achieved would be a progressive assimilation into Trinidadian culture at all levels." Father Hendey began by learning to speak as his Toco parishioners, to adopt their vocabulary, colloquialisms, accent and speech rhythms, and then to preach in his newly learned language. Then he exchanged formal English attire for North Coast informality, together with the daily rhythm of life and its customs, by which to live.

"Clock time means nothing, ‘liming’ is village communication and entertainment, greet everyone one met with in the street or along the trace by his/her Christian name prefixed by Mister, Miss or Missis, as the case might be — the older heads that is. "Boy" would do for my contemporaries in age."

In the next stage, he entered into the folk culture of Trinidad which in the rural communities meant practising rather than merely observing the art of folk dance, drumming, playing a pan, and participating in village wakes.

"This I achieved, if only at an elementary level. But the progression to total assimilation leading to an Incarnational Ministry had to go further if it was to be completed, as far as playing mas’ in Port-of-Spain, the epicentre of Carnival."

"My first experience of Carnival in Port-of-Spain was in 1960 — two years after I had arrived in Trinidad – and the first mas’ I saw as I stood at the bottom of Frederick Street waiting for the parade of bands was a solitary Roman Soldier on his way to his band’s headquarters. I was spellbound.

Here before my eyes, was a proud man in shining silver armour and blue silk — as true a Roman as there ever had been when Imperial Rome was at the height of its splendour and power."

"That" I thought "is for me." Playing mas’ will be the climax of my assimilation into Trinidadian culture that will make an Incarnational Ministry real. Mas’ playing would be the outward sign of an interior assimilation." It was not until 1966 however that Father Hendey finally played mas’ with Starlift’s "Splendour of the Himalayas."

The Mighty Cypher sang in 1967 a calypso "If the Priest could play, Who is We"; and Lord Bryner sang "Play Yuh Mas Rev."`Father Hendey played mas’ for three consecutive years.

Father Hendey says: "I sensed from remarks and comments made to me — a general feeling that a more generous assessment of, and attitude towards, Carnival had been unlocked... That the long held view by many citizens that Carnival was the work of the devil, despite it being a national festival, had been challenged and found wanting… For me to have played mas’, three times in all, was a final rite of passage that assimilated me into Trinidadianism which enabled me to practise my theory of an Incarnational Ministry; and I know that it worked… Doors and ears were opened to me post mas’-playing than were before; but, it all began in Toco, of which village I still consider myself a "Toco Boy." Clifford Hendey’s assimilation was completed when in 1968 he married Vera Brereton, the third child of Fitzroy and Angelina of Sangre Grande and a nurse in the second parish to which he was sent after Toco.

So that when Father Hendey left Trinidad in August 1971 to return to the United Kingdom after almost 13 years: "The island went with him in the presence of his wife and three daughters, Christine, Frances and Michelle."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tim Ingold on why anthropology is not ethnography

Radcliffe Brown quoted by Tim Ingold

"‘A pig does not become a hippopotamus … On the other hand a society can and does change its structural type without any breach of continuity.’"

And in his own words...

"THE OBJECTIVE of anthropology, I believe, is to seek a generous, comparative but nevertheless critical understanding of human being and knowing in the one world we all inhabit. The objective of ethnography is to describe the lives of people other than ourselves, with an accuracy and sensitivity honed by detailed observation and prolonged first-hand experience. My thesis is that anthropology and ethnography are endeavours of quite different kinds."


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Anthropology and the Military

Below is a comment i left on Marc Tyrell's blog re the McFate/HTS situation.

Here are some other links to informative commentary on what is taking place.

Open Anthropology
Culture Matters
Savage minds
Washington Post
Mother Jones
Blue Girl Red State
If i Ran the Zoo
United States Institute of Peace

I believe persons involved in Anthropology need at the very least to consider much of the information and come to a personal understanding of the issues.

My thinking as posted to Marc Tyrell's blog:

Hi there and thanks for putting forward another punta de vista on the McFate situation.

Having followed the internet trail on this for a few months now I read with interest what you had to say.

Im struck by the differences in how many persons with anthropological backgrounds engage the issues.

For me, and my subjective 21st century ideas on what anthropology is and should be, it is an oxymora - like cruel kindness - to place military action and anthropology together. This is made even more problematic when the military action is preemptive because as such any anthropologist on the ground who at some level believes they are trying to help the situation is nonetheless an apologist for the use of military force against people who were not aggressors. It feeds into a wider notion that the action in Iraq was lawful, which it was not, and provides legitimacy to the US political myth that the action in Iraq was about 9/11 when its really about oil and geopolitics. Anthropology needs to recognise how it is being used to effect this hegemonic mind f**k, both in Iraq and afghanistan…

Another interesting cultural difference between your idea on anthro and mine, was this notion of the group and interaction you use, i liked the picture you painted, however i prefer to look at things from the individual up, and the individual’s ability/agency to perform many different acts depending on the audience situation. Ie performance, and performing certain behaviours, mannerisms, language, cultural identifiers etc is at the basis of social interaction. Sometimes peoples’ performances are as close to honest as can be, many times, the honesty is removed for necessity and need be that good or bad, and then there is the performance of those who deliberately try to mislead, something i believe McFate has done on many different levels from the anthropology community, the general public, the military community, herself and most importantly the people on the ground who she is claiming to help.

Anthropologists, in my humble opinion (and related to the experiences in our anthropological past - anthropology mixed with the military always harms someone) should be involved in non military solutions to cultural difference and furthermore, again from my point of view, should be against coorperation between the military and anthropology.

Military action is rarely about redistributing wealth to make things better for all persons in the world, the current military complex is about sustaining neoliberal capitalism, stratification and capturing new markets. And while i doubt there is such a thing as a doctor evil sitting in a room making individual decisions to perpetuate the vast economic and social inequalities in the world - the system is nonetheless self perpetuating. The connection between anthropology and the military makes this perpetution worse by legitimising it under a cloak of benevolence which is only khaki green deep.

At a fundamental level i think this mcFate situation raises ideas about what sort of world you want to live in, one that continues along the same path it has been on since 9/11 or something better. i know im for the latter.

The partnership of the military and anthropology is a symbolic performance that explicitly rejects the idea of fundamental societal change and keeps our eyes focussed on the short term road in front of us which is certainly not heading toward social justice but rather a increased acceptance of the current militarised world.

To end, I guess i sound like an old hippie (not that there is anything wrong with that), but i became an anthropologist because i wanted less war and inequality in the world, less gun diplomacy, and more understanding and honesty.

The McFate saga might paint on the surface this is what she is about, but as we all know you have to get beneath the surface to really see what is going on, and embedding anthros with military units creates an asymmetrical situation between those we study and ourselves. Whats worse is it misrepresents the actual work the military is trying to perform as positive, when infact it is nothing short of a strategic invasion that the UN deemed unlawful.

The views that have sprung up around the mcFate issues made me feel disheartened at first but now im reinvigorated because we are all (as both you and max point out) being politicised by the issues, being public intellectuals because we must take a stand in order to define our intellectual projects. As people draw their lines in the sand perhaps those who are against the combination of military and anthropology can mark their field and ethics as such, while those who disagree can mark their terrain as such. Or perhaps its far more complex than this duality…for me though it isnt - anthropology and the military is an oxymoron

Thursday, July 31, 2008

from Holocene to Anthropocene

"The scientists, led by Jan Zalasiewicz at the department of geology at Leicester, say: "Sufficient evidence has emerged of stratigraphically significant change for recognition of the Anthropocene - currently a vivid yet informal metaphor of global environmental change - as a new geological epoch."


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gender at the Olympics

"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced sex testing in 1968 at the Olympic games in Mexico City, after the masculine appearance of some competitors, many pumped up by anabolic steroids, had started to raise questions about the gender of athletes in female events. Unsurprisingly, gender-determination tests were seen as degrading, with female competitors having to submit to humiliating and invasive physical examinations by a series of doctors. Later, the IOC decided to use a supposedly more sophisticated genetic test, based on chromosomes. Women usually have two X chromosomes; men an X and a Y chromosome. So, according to the rules of the test, only those athletes with two X chromosomes could be classed as women. However, many geneticists criticised the tests, saying that sex is not as simple as X and Y chromosomes and is not always simple to ascertain.

It is thought that around one in 1,000 babies are born with an "intersex" condition, the general term for people with chromosomal abnormalities. It may be physically obvious from birth - babies may have ambiguous reproductive organs, for instance - or it may remain unknown to people all their lives. At the Atlanta games in 1996, eight female athletes failed sex tests but were all cleared on appeal; seven were found to have an "intersex" condition. As a result, by the time of the Sydney games in 2000, the IOC had abolished universal sex testing but, as will happen in Beijing, some women still had to prove they really were women."


'Credit crunch'

decent comment from GU article on the "credit crunch" euphemism by edevershed

"Take my housemate Leo as an example. Leo's so in debt, that he's being charged loads in interest every month on his debts. But he can't pay his debts, so the amount of interest is getting compounded, and he finds the whole thing too baffling and frightening to do anything about it. Recently, he's been summoned to court for non-payment of debts, but the fact remains they can't squeeze blood out of a stone.

But by spending way beyond his means for several years, Leo was a useful and productive member of society, in that he sustained economic growth, and by being in debt, he became an asset to the financial insitutions that had given him credit.

I'll run that past you again. In our somewhat insane financial system, it's normal practice to call a loan an asset.. That means, if I'm owed £1000 by you, or £5 per month, then I can describe what I'm owed as part of my assets, or income.

The problem is that that practice continues, in many cases whether or not the interest on the loan is being paid. If the interest isn't being paid, then the notional size of the loan is increased, and since it counts as an asset, the company who the money's owed to looks as if it's balancing its books.

And this can go on quite a while, - until someone comes along, and points out that actually, this notional asset isn't worth much, as even if you take Leo to court, he still can't pay his debts, and so suddenly, the asset, becomes a bad debt, and has its value instantaneously reversed. Suddenly, the company/bank is worth much less than it appeared to be. Its value tumbles."


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mandisi Majavu on Fanon

"The appreciation of certain Western ideas and the fact that certain postcolonial writers are influenced by Western writers and write in European languages should not be presented as a failure to create an authentic postcolonial cultural work, as Fanon presents it.

To write in an African language, or to quote only African writers, does not necessarily translate into originality. A radical postcolonial vision on culture ought not to be opposed to diverse cultures, including Western cultures, or a reduction diverse cultures to a least common denominator. The point is to enjoy their benefits while transcending prior debits."


Saturday, July 12, 2008

“Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,"

"Unlike most humans, however, individual animals generally cannot be classified as gay or straight: an animal that engages in a same-sex flirtation or partnership does not necessarily shun heterosexual encounters. Rather many species seem to have ingrained homosexual tendencies that are a regular part of their society. That is, there are probably no strictly gay critters, just bisexual ones. “Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,” says sociologist Eric Anderson of the University of Bath in England"


Thursday, July 03, 2008

A truly brilliant lecture by Lloyd Best delievered in 2001

So many quotes to write, and ive made notes on so much of this paper...the gifts are so many but essentially his point is that Caribbean scholars need to look at our society from the inside out, not use the concepts and ideas brought from the outside...the potential of his ideas for not only the Caribbean but corrupting the narrative of modernity itself is limitless if only people could read this stuff. its really easy too, he was a man of wit as well as intellectual brilliance.

“It is not only that mas compels you to play many different roles, so today you are Catholic, tomorrow you are Hindu; today you are white, tomorrow you are mulatto. Depending on where you find yourself, you are all these things. The reason mas is necessary is that you have to do that; but the more intriguing thing is that mas also requires you play yourself in many different incarnations. So you are not only playing the Other you are playing yourself. So the Caribbean personality is very complex. A Trinidadian comes to Brooklyn, the first day he talking Yankee. The first day!”

pdf link

Monday, June 30, 2008

Paris is 3,000 years older than first thought

"You could say that we've come full circle," said Bénédicte Souffi, one of the two archaeologists in charge of the site. "Our ancestors were sorting rubbish from usable objects here in 7600BC. We are going to be doing much the same thing on a more elaborate scale. Maybe, there is a lesson there.

The oldest previous human settlement discovered within the Paris city boundaries dates back to about 4500BC – a fishing and hunting village beside the Seine at Bercy near the Gare de Lyon railway station. The new exploration – by Inrap, the French government agency for "preventive" archaeology on sites where new building is imminent – pushes back the history of the city to the mysterious period between the Old and New stone ages."


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lords of Capital Versus The Planet

"The corporate mega-criminals are all pleading not guilty to speculating the price of oil into the stratosphere, while their servants in the Bush administration rush to appear as character witnesses for the perpetrators. Oil prices have multiplied seven-fold in the last seven years of Bush-Cheney rule - a time of unceasing American wars and threats of war in oil producing regions. That alone should have pushed oil prices far beyond peacetime levels - and it has. The U.S. Congress pretends it's trying to find out what's behind the ever-escalating price of crude oil and gasoline at the pump, even mustering up the courage to make threatening noises at Wall Street's Lords of Capital. But it's all a front to appease desperate and angry consumers, who are urged by the U.S. Secretary of Energy to put the blame on the uppity and unworthy Chinese and Indians, who insist on trying to catch up economically with the Americans and Europeans after suffering so many centuries of white Western colonial and imperial rule.

But even such political insanities cannot begin to account for the price madness of recent years. Only concentrated, organized capital, relentlessly distorting economic realities as it moves through international markets - much as gravity bends space and time - can wreak the havoc we have witnessed in oil trading. The tracks of the criminals are clearly seen, leading straight back to Wall Street.

However, the current oil price crisis should be viewed as an episode in a much larger saga. Over a generation ago, finance capital, which produces nothing, won its long struggle against productive, industrial capital. The Lords of Finance rule. They make money through manipulation of markets, or even by compelling the governments they control - like the U.S. government - to print money for them. They scheme and conspire to create artificial wealth - and in the process hem in and hold back the world's productive capacity. A group of European luminaries including former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt issued a warning against what they called "fictitious capital... that does very little to improve the human condition...." Actually, it's worse than that. The Lords of Capital and their accomplices have drowned the world in non-productive, "fictitious" money that is constantly bet on one non-productive proposition or another - including betting that something horrible will occur very soon to halt the flow of oil."


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blogging as a community building strategy

"I've been thinking (and talking) about community a lot recently, and it was while speaking to about 50 people at a seminar held by Sift last Friday that I had an epiphany: most media people don't realise that blogging is a community strategy."


Monday, June 23, 2008

the unfortunates

“…You’d be reading a physically different book as you technically read the same one, just as the narrator reflects that, “everything we know about someone is perhaps not the same, even radically different from what others, another, may seem or understand about them, him.””


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Im gonna be thinkin a lot about ethnicity over the next few months

"But one thing lacking from so many conversations about “Britishness” is any reference to a link between religious and ethnic identity.

In contrast to the decline of Christianity in Britain, Islam and Hinduism are thriving here. One reason is that for Muslims and Hindus, wherever they come from, their religion is inextricably linked with their sense of identity."


(c) Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, 1985 (obama's wife)

"My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my “Blackness” than ever before. I have found that, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my White professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with Whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be Black first and a student second. These experiences have made it apparent to me that the path I have chosen to follow will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.This realisation has, presently, made my goals to actively utilise my resources to benefit the Black community more desirable. At the same time, however, it is conceivable that my four years of exposure to a predominantly White, Ivy League University has instilled within me certain conservative values ... I find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White classmates ... is it possible that other Black alumni share these feelings?"

Friday, April 18, 2008


"Football got rich on the back of the 96," he said, referring to the grants of public money paid to clubs to improve their grounds. "The safe stadiums were built as a direct result of the recommendation of the Taylor Report. Football became a popular sport ... Sky TV stepped in and suddenly football became lucrative. Premiership clubs became a very attractive proposition for overseas investors. At their peril," he concluded, "do those overseas investors forget the heavy price that we paid."

read more

Thursday, April 17, 2008


"Philanthrocapitalism is a transposition of the corporate model into the charitable sector. Having made their fortunes in the market, new philanthropists see no reason why the same tight, business strictures cannot simply be applied to the non-profit domain. Instead of bureaucratic government initiatives or the cosy, self-satisfied ethos of established charities, philanthrocapitalists like Bill Clinton want to "repurpose business methods and business culture to solve the world's problems". This means, in the words of one philanthropic consultancy, "an entrepreneurial results-oriented framework, leverage, personal engagement and impatience". Indeed, the entire vocabulary of Silicon Valley is applied to social rather than corporate enterprise.

Of course, in our media culture of Dragon's Den and The Apprentice, commerce can do no wrong. But Edwards suggests that the bottom-line ethos of the business world is not necessarily in accordance with the demands of accountability, voice, and an engaged public sphere that effective charity requires."

read more

Monday, April 07, 2008


"How do you make characters talk?" "You don't," Penny said. "You listen to them."

John Lahr on August Wilson

Great Zico interview

"In the round of 16, against Sevilla at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium, goalkeeper Volkan Demirel is preparing for the penalty shootout after two big mistakes that resulted in two goals. Zico ambles over and tells his keeper: 'Football is a great sport. It gives you the possibility of redemption in a matter of minutes. Forget what happened. You've got the chance to be the hero.' Demirel saves three penalties and Sevilla are defeated."

read more

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Me, getting ripped over at Savage Minds

This is not an argument about one tradition as a truer producer of anthropological knowledge than another. Of ‘us’ being better than ‘them’ or the powerless writing back to the powerful.

It is rather the claim that some voices are louder, and speak more often, than others.

That some ideas, concepts and bibliographies have more paradigmatic weight.


Monday, March 31, 2008

MA in Medical Anthropology reaches

"what is the relationship between culture, health and people’s sense of wellbeing? Why do many aspects of our lives appear to be understood increasingly through the language of medicine? How is it that while there are extraordinary technical advances taking place, so many people turn to alternative therapies? And do we really have to cope with more health risks nowadays?"

read more

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Some of his bad points

"I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas," Barack Obama declared last week in a speech that seemed to awe just about everyone (wow, he talked about RACE!!!). "I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents; and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."

Excuse me? Has Barack never heard of Trinidad and Tobago, to take just one example?"

read JT's full post

and then there's Glen Ford's point of view:

"Obama is smart, but his basic game plan is quite simple. Knowing full well the group most hostile to Black progress in the U.S. has always been white males, he aims to neutralize much of this demographic by assuring them an Obama presidency would be aggressively race-neutral. In practice, that means Obama ascribes all racial offenses to the past, where the only guilty white people are dead. The accumulated white wealth and privilege that is the result of hundreds of years of racist exploitation also was due to actions (crimes) of people now mostly dead. Obama forgives the dead racists, and has never expressed any intention of readjusting the ten to fifteen to one disparity in median white to Black household income. Yes, Obama knows perfectly well that wealth disparity, if not aggressively dealt with as a racial problem, will take centuries – if ever – to disappear. But Obama accepts the racial status quo as a fait accompli that can only be altered by methods that do not penalize living white people who benefited from their dead ancestors’ crimes. In practice, this means Obama would leave American race relationships frozen in time."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Certainly so in Trinidad

"Traffic death and injury is a global pandemic in which more than 1.2 million lives are lost annually; another 50 million people suffer debilitating injury. And most of the victims live in developing countries.

'Traffic accident' is a euphemism for the gross negligence that perpetuates this carnage; far from being unpredictable and unavoidable, most traffic-related injuries could be prevented through simple, cheap safety strategies."

read more

Horse and Carriage

"Marriage rates in England and Wales have fallen to the lowest level on record, government figures published today have revealed.

The proportion of adults who chose to marry in 2006 fell to the lowest level since marriage rates were first calculated in 1862, according to provisional figures published by the Office for National Statistics"

read more

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oh oh

"I have been working in finance in the City and worldwide for 34 years and I have never seen anything like this," Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I don't think anybody alive has seen events of this seriousness and magnitude affecting the financial markets."

read more

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Moses was stoned when he set Ten Commandments, researcher claims

"We all know that Moses was high on Mount Sinai when God spoke to him, but were the Ten Commandments a result of divine inspiration alone?

An Israeli researcher is claiming in a study published this week the prophet may have been stoned when he set the Ten Commandments in stone."

read more

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ramblings of a colorblind gamer

How do you think colorblind people play videogames? How do they deal with the fact that they can't differentiate between red and green in Guitar Hero, or Rockstar Table Tennis? This article delves into what it's like to love videogames as a colorblind person.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Peter Doig

"Although Doig was born in Edinburgh and has spent much time in England, he grew up in Canada and now lives in Trinidad. There are pictures here that echo other images that fill my narrow view of those last two places. Both his lake-and-canoe pictures like Swamped (1990, below) and tropical pictures like Grand Rivière (2001-2) share motifs with the watercolours Winslow Homer painted in the late 1800s and early 1900s while on Canadian fishing trips and on holiday in the Bahamas. In both Homer’s and Doig’s pictures, a feeling for place arises from the look of distant figures in a landscape, canoes on dark water, the ragged outlines of palm leaves and Prussian blue seas. The similarity brings no suggestion of influence; the impression is rather of tales from travellers who, unknown to each other, visited the same country."

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A reader's guide to the unwritten

"The realisation that, at best, writers could only hope to dress old words new and recreate what was already there led to a spate of literary eclipses. Hofmannstahl's Lord Chandos, who renounces literature because language cannot "penetrate the innermost core of things", epitomises this mute mutiny instigated (in real life) by Rimbaud. Wittgenstein would later insist that the most important part of his work was the one he had not written, presumably because it lay beyond his coda to the Tractatus: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Keeping shtoom and tuning in to the roar on the other side of silence was a soft option. Dostoevsky's Kirilov - who attempts to defeat God by desiring his own humanity and therefore his own mortality and death - heralded a wave of phantom scribes. Forced to recognise that divine ex nihilo creation was beyond their grasp, writers such as Marcel Schwob came to the conclusion that the urge to destroy was also a creative urge - and perhaps the only truly human one."

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

social justice learning

Brilliant article: Why we banned legos

"Children absorb political, social, and economic worldviews from an early age. Those worldviews show up in their play, which is the terrain that young children use to make meaning about their world and to test and solidify their understandings. We believe that educators have a responsibility to pay close attention to the themes, theories, and values that children use to anchor their play. Then we can interact with those worldviews, using play to instill the values of equality and democracy."

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Monday, February 18, 2008

racism on the catwalk

"Katharine Hamnett does not believe the cliché that black never goes out of fashion. In recent years, the designer has seen a resurgence of white on the catwalks. But it is not the colour of the clothes she has noticed, so much as the colour of the models.

'The catwalks are full of white dogs,' she says, with barely concealed irritation. 'Cosmetic companies don't like black models - the racist bitches. I have no idea why when it's obvious that black girls are just so genuinely much more beautiful than Caucasians, who have clearly got the short straw. Black girls have much better body shapes and it's such a shame. I just think there should be a bit more of a balance.'"

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Why the barrios still love hugo

"What lies behind the shrill anti- Chávez hysteria (much of it financed by the US government) isn't a crumbling economy or state repression, but the exclusion of the former ruling class and their allies in Washington from the levers of state power. While Venezuela retains many of the features of the pre-revolutionary era, including bureaucracy and corruption, independent surveys show that incomes for the working class and poor majority have risen by a staggering 130% in real terms.

But the changes in people's lives involve more than just improvements in material living standards. While on a visit to the town of Naiguata on the Caribbean coast, I happened upon one of the 2,000 new clinics which are providing top-quality healthcare to Venezuela's poor majority. Inside, I spoke to Antonio Brito, a 25-year-old Venezuelan doctor who had recently graduated from the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba. Doctor Brito told me that of the 94 students in his class, over one-third were from indigenous communities. Those who graduated with him are now serving in their tribal villages. I asked Brito how much a foreigner like me would be charged for treatment. "Here, medical treatment is completely free for everybody," he replied. "The only qualification is that you are a human being."

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rooney and Foucault

"As the ones responsible for rule enforcement, the referees are physical manifestations of discipline and power, actors whose penalizing reinforces a larger sense of law and punishment for the rest of us. To better see how this might be so, it’s helpful to invoke the work of theorist Michel Foucault. In his book, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Foucault describes a shift in the popular conception of discipline from an external notion to a more internalized understanding."

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Eisenhower and Obama

"As we peer into society's future, we must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Anthropology and banking

"Two decades ago, before I became a journalist, I used to work as a social anthropologist in the Himalayas. It is undoubtedly an unusual background for a financial journalist.

Indeed, whenever I reveal my strange past today, bankers usually either react with horror (what does she know about finance?) or incredulity (why would anyone spend years studying Tajik goat-herders?)

But a decade later, my years in Tajikistan are suddenly starting to look a whole lot more useful. For one thing that anthropology imparts is a healthy respect for the importance of micro-level incentives and political structures. And right now these issues are becoming critically important for Wall Street and the City, as the credit crunch deepens by the day."

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The Ownership society

"It was always tempting to dismiss the ownership society as an empty slogan - "hokum", as Robert Reich, labour secretary during Bill Clinton's presidency, put it. But the ownership society was quite real. It was the answer to a roadblock long faced by politicians favouring policies to benefit the wealthy. The problem boiled down to this: people tend to vote according to their economic interests. Even in the wealthy United States, most people earn less than the average income. That means it is in the interest of the majority to vote for politicians promising to redistribute wealth from the top down.

So what to do? It was Margaret Thatcher who pioneered a solution. The effort centred on Britain's council estates, which were filled with diehard Labour party supporters. In a bold move, Thatcher offered strong incentives to residents to buy their council-estate flats at reduced rates (much as Bush did decades later by promoting sub-prime mortgages). Those who could afford it became homeowners while those who couldn't faced rents almost twice as high as before, leading to an explosion of homelessness.

As a political strategy, it worked: the renters continued to oppose Thatcher, but polls showed that more than half of the newly minted owners did indeed switch their party affiliation to the Tories. The key was a psychological shift: they now thought like owners, and owners tend to vote Tory. The ownership society as a political project was born."

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fans make Liverpool takeover move

"Thousands of Liverpool fans have already demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs," said Mr Taylor."Large amounts of debt often devolves onto clubs newly purchased, but the fans know that in the end, it will be they themselves who will have to pay it off through increased ticket prices and other schemes."In such a case, why not simply buy the club yourselves?"

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yay! Older people's play area!!

"The UK's first playground specifically for older people has opened near Manchester.

The "older people's play area" in Dam Head Park, Blackley, in north Manchester, features six pieces of equipment - featuring the slogan "Never too old to play" - designed to provide gentle exercise."

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's the forties you need to look out for

"Only in their 50s do most people emerge from the low period. But encouragingly, by the time you are 70, if you are still physically fit then on average you are as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year-old. Perhaps realising that such feelings are completely normal in mid-life might even help individuals survive this phase better."

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jérôme Kerviel

"'He was your ideal son-in-law,' said 62-year-old client Martine Le Pohon, who remembers Jerome helping his mother out on Saturdays at Un Monde Imagin' Hair. 'And if it turns out that he has stood up to the system to the tune of €5m, well, as far as I am concerned, that makes him even more ideal.'"

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The Pursuit of Profit

"An industry that socialises losses while privatising profit, and that has the capacity to create booms and busts alike, has to be as closely regulated as any utility."

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Chomsky interview

"Take this recent Annapolis meeting about Israel-Palestine. Why did they pick Annapolis? Is that the only meeting place in the Washington area? Well, Iranians presumably notice that Annapolis is the base from which the U.S. Navy is being sent to threaten Iran. You think they can’t see that? American editorial writers and commentators can’t see it, but I’m sure Iranians can."

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Watch this - zeitgeist movie

Its long. About 2hrs.

But there's a convincing interpretation of imperialist formation from pagan religion to the federal reserve to climates of fear.

Granted some holes exist too - 1)ethnocentrism of subject matter, 2) where are all the whistle blowers who would have been needed to carry out the activities outlined by video. & 3) im not sure about the nano technology stuff at end...

that said its worth watching

zietgeist movie

Friday, January 18, 2008

Social inequality and contemporary stratification

"Addressing the real conflicts of interest will be a complex matter, but one thing is clear: the government has long taken the position that the wealth of those at the very top doesn't matter to the rest of society. They have concentrated their energy on helping those at the bottom. It isn't enough. We are all social beings, and we assess our worth by looking at those around us. Labour should be bold enough to start by increasing taxes on the very wealthy - simply because, as a society, we can't afford to make that the standard against which the rest of us are measured."

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

War at sea over whaling

"Yesterday evening a nautical drama was being played out between seven ships deep in the heaving, wild and normally extremely lonely Southern Ocean on the edge of Antarctica. The Nisshin Maru, a large Japanese whaling factory ship, was steaming due south at 15 knots in heavy seas with a crew of 80 and with the carcasses of possibly 50 whales aboard.

Two miles behind it, in full sight but not in radio contact, was the Esperanza, a Greenpeace vessel converted from a Russian navy fire-fighting ship with a volunteer crew of 21 nationalities and a Dutch captain. The Esperanza is well equipped, as you would expect from a large and well-resourced operation with more than 200,000 members, but it looks tiny beside the vast whaling vessel.

Steaming towards both ships, and due to meet them in possibly a day or two among the icebergs and the fogs, is the MV Steve Irwin, the black-painted flagship of Captain Paul Watson and the California-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the world's most uncompromising environmental enforcement group. His crew is smaller, but - like that of the Esperanza - made up of brilliant and committed seamen. Discipline is everything at sea and both sets of volunteers, male and female and drawn from just about every country, respond magnificently to the challenge and the danger.

Yesterday afternoon the MV Steve Irwin was 60S 78E, roughly 2,500 miles south-west of Fremantle in Australia, pursuing a group of four small whaling ships that the Japanese are this year using to kill nearly 1,000 whales in the Antarctic whale sanctuary. This little taskforce is thought to be heading towards an as yet unknown rendezvous with both the Nisshin Maru and a supply vessel to offload any whales they may have harpooned and pick up stores.

But the chase is in particular earnest because one of these smaller whalers, the Yusshin Maru No 2, has already clashed with the Irwin and is now running from it with two of the Sea Shepherd boat's crew. In an act of extraordinary courage - or stupidity - Giles Lane from Brighton and Benjamin Potts from Australia leapt aboard the Yusshin Maru No 2 from the Irwin to deliver a letter to the Japanese captain requesting him to leave the whale sanctuary. The Japanese, not believing their luck, promptly held them captive and sped over the horizon. Now there is an international diplomatic incident, with the Japanese saying they will only hand them back if Sea Shepherd agrees to certain demands, and Watson saying this is "an illegal act of hostage-taking".

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the end of the world...

"On Tuesday, in Madrid, politicians, non-governmental organisations and civil society leaders from across the globe begin two days of dialogue aimed at addressing the growing polarisation between nations and cultures worldwide. The objective is not only to promote cross-cultural understanding, but also to create and develop partnerships and joint initiatives aimed at promoting an “Alliance of Civilisations”.

This is, in my view, an honourable objective, and one around which we should all unite. But in doing so we need to ensure that the voice of the weak and marginalised is heard. A striking characteristic of the modern era is the rapid diffusion of ideas and values from the centres of global power to the rest of humanity. Unfortunately, there is a tendency among the powerful to expect the rest to accept their world view without question. This is not always possible, nor is it desirable.

Non-western civilisations and cultures have their own unique history, traditions and theology, which often embody ideas and values that are fundamentally different from what the west has to offer. Nowhere is this divergence more apparent than on issues pertaining to religion."

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Naturalisation of Capitalism

"Marco Cicala, a Leftist Italian journalist, told me about his recent weird experience: when, in an article, he once used the word "capitalism," the editor asked him if the use of this term is really necessary - could he not replace it by a synonymous one, like "economy"? What better proof of the total triumph of capitalism than the virtual disappearance of the very term in the last 2 or 3 decades? No one, with the exception of a few allegedly archaic Marxists, refers to capitalism any longer. The term was simply struck from the vocabulary of politicians, trade unionists, writers and journalists - even of social scientists"

From Slavoj Zizek

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What if we shut down the 750 U.S. overseas bases?

"What if the US just packed up and left Iraq and Afghanistan, and brought the troops all home, shut down the 750-odd overseas bases we operate around the globe, and slashed our military budget by 75 percent? That would be an instant savings of roughly $365 billion per year."

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That's No Moon...

But it's SO FUN to quote movies all the time... (XKCD comic).

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Google's Knol experiment to rival Wikipedia?

"I would compare Knol to Blogger, and eventually, I think it will have Digg-like elements. Knol is like Blogger because it's a personal publishing platform. It's all about giving authors a platform for writing. It's just a like a blog, but much more structured. If you like a Knoller, you'll likely want to read more written by that person, or even subscribe to his work."

read more | digg story