I’ve been thinking about gossip recently. The thing that got me thinking was a coffee with a friend. In the last year, most of my meetings and many of my social interactions have been virtual. But I met my friend in person — socially distant, outside — for coffee. We were talking about some recent events, news about organizations and personalities. She knows things, the real story, and she told me what she knew. And it was eye-opening. She told me about tensions between staff, internal disputes, human resources issues. Suddenly, what I had learned through news reports and public…


I’m just going to be honest with you. I haven’t read your book. There are a few exceptions. In that case, I did read your book and I loved it! Such a good read! And I learned a lot!

The truth is I’m kind of a slow reader and have come to be pretty picky about what books I read, partly because I don’t read that many of them. And the other truth is I have a bunch of incredible friends who are pumping out books all the time. So, this has been a problem for me for a couple…


Been thinking about cancel-culture and shame recently. There have been good and interesting discussions about cancel-culture, but I think it’s simpler than people are making it out.

American culture has a complicated history/relationship with shame. “The Scarlet Letter” was required reading for 11th graders for years. That book, embodies the relationship. Public shaming is both widespread endorsed by social and political power, but is also unjust and illiberal.

Generally, shame and shaming have meant to serve conservative values and enforce conventional norms. Public shaming is a mechanism to enforce social norms and maintain hierarchies and authority. And conservatives, historically, have…


If large, deep holes opened up on highways across America and every day carloads of people drove into the holes and crashed, would we sit and watch as a nation?

Would pundits debate the rights of drivers to continue driving on the highways and and the liberty to fall into the holes, killing themselves and their passengers? Or would you expect a mass uprising to demand government fill the holes and stop the driving until the highways were safe?

As the COVID daily death tallies come in — 2000, 3000, more — I’ve been thinking about America’s relationship to mass…


I had a gift card and wanted to read fiction. That’s all I knew. So I went to my favorite local book store to buy a book. After drifting around a bit, I asked someone who worked there for a recommendation and he pointed me to The Death of Vivek Oji.

I find Nigeria confusing and interesting and weird. I’ve tried to understand the country better by reading some Nigerian novelists and essayists. So, sure, a highly-rated novel by a Nigerian author sounds good.

So, I read it. It’s a pretty easy and quick read. I won’t spoil it by…


Forty eight percent of [INGOs] may not survive the next two years

After decades of growth, the international non-governmental organization (INGO) has reached a turning point. The model of a Northern-funded, Northern-led organization operating programs around the world is under pressure and attack from many directions. The question now is whether INGOs can — or should — be reformed for a role in a rapidly changing world.

BOND UK with a grim headline

Today, international NGOs are facing growing competition, both within the sector and from sources outside the sector. At the same time, INGOs face looming political challenges, economic headwinds, and ethical questions. Can INGOs…


Maybe I’m overthinking it, but a lot of people seem to be missing a key message in yesterday’s Nobel Peace Prize award for the World Food Program. The Nobel Committee makes it pretty clear in the first sentence: “The need for international solidarity and multilateral cooperation is more conspicuous than ever.”

The prize is for the life-saving work of the WFP, but it’s equally an vindication of the UN system and international cooperation more broadly. …


I’ve admired Branko Milanovic for years, initially because he was one of the very few economists doing useful work on economic inequality. This is before Piketty and others have broken into the mainstream. His work has been critically important and is constantly referenced by those of us who have an interest — or concern — about economic inequality.

I follow him on twitter and diligently read his blog. It’s usually interesting even when it’s on topics that I don’t care much about. …


In the summer of 1988, I was an academic counselor at a summer program for “at-risk” high school students. It was at UMass Amherst and we stayed in the dorms. Most of the kids were from Lynn, Massachusetts and had never really been out of their neighborhoods. The idea was to get them out of their contexts, give them a fun summer experience, but with strong academic support that would help them in life — and maybe to college.

Back then, Lynn was a tough town with a bad reputation. The kids were low-income, most were African American, but there…


I like to have opinions of about things. But I don’t always know where to put them. And sometimes I forget them. So, here we go.

Fauda

Ugggh, I can’t get away from my Israel/jewish theme. It was being promoted by Netflix, and I have a hard time resisting. Anyway, 3 seasons later, I’m mad at myself. Because as a tv series, it’s not bad. Not great, but not terrible. But as politics and propaganda, it’s absolute garbage.

The first season is probably the best and most sensitively scripted and plotted. They’re all about a crack Israeli counter-terrorism team that goes…

gawain

I'm a human person, working in policy & advocacy in international development, gender rights, economic justice.

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