embracing local

a nice sentence, on which i will follow-up (from booth 2012, development as a collective action problem, citing kelsall 2008):

developing efforts have a greater chance of success when they stop treating cultural factors as a problem to be solved and try instead to harness them as a means to channel behavior in more positive ways.


corn as small things: all maize is corn but not all corn is maize?

i think i just made a minor life breakthrough. i am working on re-reading ‘salt‘ – at least i thought i was re-reading it but it doesn’t seem as familiar as it should, so maybe i am just reading it.

over the past several years, a troubling thing would sometimes happen. i would go to a museum in europe (like the digs under geneva) or read a food history* and the author would mention ‘corn’ at a time that should have significantly pre-dated european contact with north america, and therefore, mention of maize in the ‘old world.’ i found this deeply confusing. sometimes i thought the author would go on to reveal that vikings or the basque had actually brought maize back from their early voyages and really rock my world.

but the authors were always silent and my brain would hurt.

however, mr. kurlansky tells me, “it was the 17th-century English who gave corned beef its name – corn being any kind of small bits, in this case, salt crystals.’

corn seems to just be a synonym for small things and sometimes used as a generic word for grain (e.g., which suggests it was the term for the most common grain in the region).

is this just my american english (or just my modern english) failing me?

*i really enjoy these commodity-specific histories – spice** and tea*** and all the rest. i know it is trendy but i hope it is a lasting one; it lets a history span geographic space and time frame without being too overwhelming.

**i first read spice around the time i was really digging into orientalism; nice pairing. not a very difficult one to figure out, either, but thought i would mention it!

*** i just found several additional tea histories while looking up that link. hooray! recommendations always welcome.


helpful grammar tip for cold and flu season

nauseous, like noxious and nauseating, describes a quality of making other people ill – in fact, feel nauseated. if you feel ill, you are nauseated.

describing yourself as nauseous indicates that you make other people sick to their stomachs.

try not to do that. the flu is sufficient.

more on polio vaccination efforts.

i have been trying to keep up with polio vaccination efforts here. but it seemed like this deserved a new post, as it deals not just with commentary on the recent killings but also some actions that USG could take, via charles kenny.

there is information here, followed by an interesting conversation in the comments section, and here.

It is a vital moment for the world community to do everything it can to encourage vaccination, especially against polio… The tragic violence against vaccination workers in Pakistan who were doing vital work… were linked to allegations that the CIA had used a vaccine campaign as part of intelligence gathering operations in the country…

A declaration by the US that public health interventions will not be used to gather intelligence could play a vital role in tipping the balance towards successful polio eradication –and enhance US national security

this petition will close on 8 Feb, so if you are interested, get on it! then you can go see zero dark thirty… or vice versa. either way, it seems like we should be talking about this right along side the torture debate.

thank you. water, sanitation, infrastructure, cholera.

someone said something helpful here. about cholera. but not about a new vaccine, a new super-antibiotic, or engineering a new vector that can be lulled to sleep by harp music, along with plans for a helicopter drop of harps or new ways to subsidize harps.

whenever epidemics of cholera occur, the global public health community is energized. experts meet, guidelines for control are reviewed and reissued, and new and modified interventions are proposed and promoted… [but]

the best intervention for long-term cholera control and, for that matter, for the control of the great majority of diarrheal diseases is the strategy that eliminated epidemic cholera from the united states and northern europe long before either marketed antibiotics or effective vaccines existed. the development and maintenance of water and sewage treatment systems assured safe drinking water and safe disposal of sewage for all, keeping contaminated sewage out of water, foods, and the environment. the strategy not only eliminated cholera but also dramatically reduced mortality related to diarrheal diseases of all causes.

among others, culter’s articles on mortality determinants are worth reading.