A small child, having eaten the tastier offerings on his plate, picks unenthusiastically at his vegetables. An exasperated parent tells him that he should eat his food because there are starving people in China.* The child points out that there is no way anyone can transport his broccoli to China, and thus his decision is… Continue reading Waste Not, Want Not?
As much as I like to think dumpster diving is in some ways inherently political, there are times when the whole thing can feel incredibly self-involved. And so, in the perpetually problematic desire to “give back”, I’ve been volunteering in food redistribution (again). I like this charity, even though it’s a charity and not a… Continue reading Gleaning the Gleanings
The decay spreads over the State, and the sweet smell is a great sorrow on the land. Men who can graft the trees and make the seed fertile and big can find no way to let the hungry people eat their produce. Men who have created new fruits in the world cannot create a system… Continue reading Bleach
If I actually had the wherewithal to draw up a budget for this trip, I think I would have to include a byline for what I give to mendigos (Spanish for “beggars”). As sure as it is that I will go to Café Amazonica every day in Coca—they get the whole vegetarian thing, and have… Continue reading Mendigos and Some Development Naivety
Coca is shitty. Believe it or not, I chose this adjective to describe the town where I am staying—also known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana—carefully. It would not, for example, be fair to say that Coca is poor. In fact, according to my interviewees, Coca is, thanks to oil money, pretty well off, a claim… Continue reading Festive, If Ugly
It’s always exciting when something is published in the popular press on my research interests, and even better (academically, at least) when it is sufficiently off the mark to make me think that people really need to know about what I’m discovering. I’m fairly sure everyone in elementary school hears about how the rainforest is… Continue reading One step forward?
A few months ago, when it occurred to me that I was going to a country about which I knew almost nothing, I turned to the world traveler’s trustiest friend. No, not Lonely Planet. I mean the CIA World Factbook. I’ve been infatuated with the Factbook ever since my sophomore year of high school, when… Continue reading Means and Medians
Kristof has an interesting column in the New York Times today, subtly entitled “Moonshine or the Kids.” In it, he describes a “politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating, and ubiquitous” truth: poor people do stupid things with their money. He cites two MIT economists—Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (who is totally hot right now)—that calculated that even… Continue reading We’re all dumb
There are times when Oxford and Princeton seem eerily similar.* Case in point: the Oxford bubble. As I am prone to do, I occasionally gripe to anyone within earshot about the apathy and inactivity of the student body here. The other day, when I was whinging to my housemate, she sighed and said “Oh, I… Continue reading Oxford, at the margins
It’s a weird paradox of academia that sometimes you are too busy studying something to actually spend any time learning about it. One of the joys of having a six week break from my Development Studies program has been that I’ve had a little time to actually think about development. The result is this bit… Continue reading Zero Sum Development