Ode (Owed?) to Baltimore
Blog about past research in Baltimore while thinking about recent killing and riots that followed, with thanks to Dick Powls for sponsoring it.
Review of The Social Life of Water
Book review for Water Alternatives on an edited book of anthropological studies of water crises across numerous different kinds of sites
What Kind of Plant is Santolina?
New Mexico Mecury article about hearing to decide fate of a proposed suburban development near Albuquerque.
New Mexico Mercury article about lack of empathy and grounded understanding of human social issues in NM proposed legislation
Water Is For Talkin' Over
In the New Mexico Mercury: A report back from the 21st annual statewide New Mexico Water Dialogue meeting and thoughts on an inclusive governance strategy for our water's future.
Turbulence Real and Imagined: Water Governance in New Mexico
Abstract for a talk given at the Santa Fe Institute in January
Looking For Culture In All The Right Places (59.8KB)
Article on culture training through language for the journal Cultus, forthcoming
Why Human Social Science Needs to Be Used to Get "Stakeholders" and "Community" into Water Policy
NM Mercury article about a public meeting on changes in the use of the Gila River Basin
Forward to Torres book, a collection of his Growing Up Spanglish newspaper columns (102.9KB)
Introductory comments based in linguistic anthro to a collection of stories written in Northern New Mexican "Spanglish"
Lecture at School for American Research in Santa Fe 8/17
"A Game of Scientific Clue: It was the Human in the Anthropocene with Water." Talk on role of anthropology in water governance reform.
The Lively Science sample chapter (185.4KB)
A readable book about how an alternative social science that doesn't try to pretend it's a chemistry lab can do a better job. Available in print and e-versions on most internet bookstores
Review of The Lively Science (177.4KB)
Another Review of The Lively Science (129.4KB)
Putting water into aquifers instead of sucking it out
NM Mercury article story of a meeting where I live about water shortage and climate change and what to do about them.
Traditional irrigation in New Mexico
NM Mercury article on museum exhibit about traditional acequia irrigation in Nuevomexicano communities
Article on how the war on drugs corrupted public health epidemiology
Blog invited by Rachelle Annechino for the Ethnography Matters group
A version of translation as basis for ethnography with an AI influence (259.4KB)
Academic article, "Making sense of one for another: Ethnography as translation," for Language and Communication
Human Eddies and Flows, an article in Journal of Water History (1.3MB)
Academic article about a dynamic model that explains a case of water conflict in Albuquerque in the 1950s/60s
How water governance needs some "creative destruction."
NM Mercury article about a panel of experts talked about the need for water policy reform in the state.
Ethnography as essential part of the organizational development mix (180.8KB)
Academic article in Organizational Research Methods
An Outsider's Ethnographic Thoughts About Design (112.7KB)
Academic article in Arts and Humanities based on an interview about ethnography and design
Models for sharing water instead of going to court in times of drought
NM Mercury article about the "Water Dialogue" meeting, many different kinds of water users talking about how to get together and adapt to drought.
The state plans for a new water policy that looks like the one they planned for and never implemented
NM Mercury article about the kickoff meeting for a new water plan to base policy on.
Academic article on early days of ethnography in the drug field (97.0KB)
In press in a special issue of Advances in Criminological Theory on qualitative research in criminology.
The dream of drinking all that deep brackish water under the desert
NM Mercury article about a visit to the national research center on desalination in Alamogordo
Ethnography as a nonlinear dynamic system in process and outcome (104.5KB)
Academic article in Complexity
"Knowledge transfer" has to move in several directions in an organization, not just top down (175.7KB)
Article in Practicing Anthropology with several examples of how power squelches innovation
Chapter 1 of Culture: An Upgrade (575.2KB)
Preprint of article on Ethnographic/organizational research for Org Research Methods 13(2) 2010 (113.0KB)
E:CO article on complexity, narrative and the organization, wonders what ordinary language in a complex organization would look like from the perspective of linguistics (475.2KB)
Agents in Living Color article in JASSS, describes going from ethnography to an agent-based model that describes how narrative drives or brakes an illegal drug epidemic
My Kingdom for a Function article in JASSS, describes ways to convert ethnographic complexity to language a computer can understand
Tuneup May 17
Here come the 70s. Birthday crises have never been a problem, but Iím telling you, thatís a pretty large number. In dog years it rises to 490. Iíve been telling people that in five more years Iíll be at the New Mexico speed limit. On a crowded bus a couple of younger people actually offered me their seat. The hell of it was, I thought about taking it.
I think birthdays that end in zero only matter when they correlate with big life changes, and itís the latter Iím thinking about. Hereís a boring fact that a young person could use. My Depression-era mother started teaching me about an hour and a half after I was born to always put away just a little bit of money whenever I could and to put it where the rich people put theirs so it could ride along with the lackeys of the running dogs. Well, she didnít say that. She was a Republican. I did what she told me to do, and now I have enough filthy lucre, many decades later, to quit worrying about earning an income. The feds have a rule that after 70 you have to start using it. They want some of their tax on that tax-sheltered money. Iíve never been rich and never will be. But the savings grew enough to live comfortably up to even my most improbable sell-by date. Einstein called compound interest, tongue in cheek, the most powerful force in the universe. The financial markets have done even better than that.
Itís a tremendous gift, this savings, like a MacArthur without the paperwork or the meetings. But itís disorienting. Back in the day we all read Eric Frommís Escape From Freedom. Iím only remembering the title now. What do you do if youíre freed from wage slavery? Is that why people play golf when they retire, to escape from choices? Iíve never understood that game. Iíd rather shoot heroin. Should I march along with the army of elderly volunteers, most of them doing good things? Maybe I will do more of that, though I always have done what in the world of cash flow they call ďpro bonoĒ work.
No, I think of the change as a little like the glory days of my NIH Career Award, four years of salary and time to work on a broadly defined project. Now I can work on water governance without worrying about support. That topic has spread like an infectious disease epidemic. Thereís plenty to do. And I can focus in on language again, finally, especially the business of learning it in all its cultural and historical subtlety. Whatís not to like?
Itís the change in social networks that is the problem that needs solved. (ďneeds + pp" is an English dialect construction I recently learned). I think of it in two ways. In some ways it's a loss of a megaphone, something that amplifies voice in a noisy large space. Youíre not escaping from freedom, but you represent no organization when youíre free. Oh sure, you might be emeritus this or adjunct that or associate something or other, but really, who gives a shit. The tense changes from ďisĒ to ďwas.Ē Itís just obit material that doesnít provide much amplification of voice.
More important is the absence of colleagues. Once you have the luxury of leading an unsupported think-tank kind of life, you find out that most people are burdened with the details of their own organizational life, should they be lucky enough to have one in the current dismal climate. On the one hand, this adds even more responsibility to use time supported by retirement savings in a useful way, paying back, as they say, for the income and economy that made it possible. On the other hand, with what network can you link to move in that direction given that most people trying to move in directions you support are already overloaded with tasks, information, and economic demands.
In the Santa Fe area where I live, you canít cross the Plaza without tripping over a few emeriti. Iíve been part of the conversation, hereís a town full of smart old farts looking to collaborate and engage the social order. True, now and then an extended narrative about a new medication slows the conversation. But really, what a waste of available time and energy. I keep thinking of the film. Going in Style, where three old guys in New York played by Art Carney, George Burns and Lee Strasberg get bored and start a new career as bank robbers.
Iím thinking about it. Maybe I could organize a gang of former organizational consultants and figure out how to hack the Walmart computers to redistribute the revenue to their employees. Meanwhile Iíll just keep working, grateful for the freedom, and keep writing about it, grateful to the increasing number of outlets that allow me to write in the style for which an Irish kid of two journalists was destined.
Speaking of which, new at the top of the column to the left is a blog that a group of anthropologists who run an internet source called Savage Minds published, some thoughts about Baltimore where I worked for years. Along with that is a review I did of an edited book called The Social Life of Water with chapters by anthropologists working on the topic. It will appear in an e-journal called Water Alternatives. Iím thinking blogs and reviews are a good place to aim the writing, at least for now.
In the 90s and 00s when I worked independently, I used to tell people I had what I called the trinity test: Was a project intellectually interesting, did it have moral value, and did it pay the rent. Once in awhile Iíd get lucky and be able to answer all three questions with a ďyes.Ē Itís easier now because the last question is no longer relevant. And for that Iím grateful to my Depression era mother for her good advice.
Life continues to be interesting.