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Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’

Binyavanga Wainaina, Nairobi, Kenya

July 6, 2012 | by

A series on what writers from around the world see from their windows.

I have lived in this cramped little cottage near Ngong Forest in Nairobi for the past year. After many winters abroad, I find myself unable to work indoors. Nairobi gets very cold in June and July, but I like to work free of the prison of the house. I love the tingling pullover of night sounds and forest sounds and the bite of cold breeze and distant cars and stereos. Sometimes I close my eyes and sway my arms into patterns to move with the sensations of the strong bitpieces banging about in my temples. The bitpieces are almost always word-based moods. They live and die fast. When the bitpieces catch characters or a probable course of narrative action, my fingers start to keyboard peddle furiously. If I stop, the whole world crumbles. If the bitpiece world crumbles, I stop. Days, sometimes bad-mood weeks can go by before momentum is found again. Tennis helps. And fermented millet porridge. And my lover. —Binyavanga Wainaina

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Maji Moto

June 27, 2012 | by

 

May 2011, Durham, North Carolina. It is late spring and the rain comes heavy in this old tobacco town. Rivulets carve tiny tributaries into the Durham Triassic Basin. Soaking up the water, the red clay swells, and then offers up an overture of honeysuckle blossoms and sugar snap peas for the upcoming symphony of tomatoes and sweet corn.

In October of 2008, I traveled to another basin, a former Pleistocene lake in Kenya. In Amboseli, my intention was to study the evolution of mate choice and fertility signals in a population of wild baboons for my dissertation research. I was working with the Amboseli Baboon Research Project, an ongoing project that began more than four decades ago. Since the time that Kenya became free of British colonial rule, when the Amboseli basin was thick with rhinoceros, researchers from the United States have been following the daily lives of the baboons in Amboseli. The births of infant male Suede, born in November of 2008, and his younger brother Saa, born in August of 2010, were like bookends on my time in Amboseli. Sorghum, their lean and lanky mother, has a coat that seems dusted with ochre undertones like the deep red soil of Amboseli, and the clay from the Triassic basin. She is high-ranking and she certainly knows it. Born into a lineage of great fortune, she is the daughter of Sera, who was the daughter of Sana, who was the daughter of Safi, who was the daughter of Spot, who was the daughter of Alto, who was one of the first adult females to be identified in Amboseli by Jeanne and Stuart Altmann in 1969.

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A Week in Culture: Tim Wu, Professor

November 10, 2010 | by

DAY ONE

11:00 A.M., Oakland University, Michigan

“We don’t actually have wires sticking out of our heads,” I say, “but if you have an iPhone in your pocket and a laptop on your bag you’re pretty close. You’ve already delegated your memory to Google and Wikipedia; Facebook is there to remind you who your friends are.”

I have a bad habit. Whatever I happen to be reading influences me to a degree that is often, in retrospect, embarrassing or ridiculous. You might say I’m a slave to what I’m reading. And that may explain why I’m here with a group of undergraduates discussing whether or not we are, in fact, already cyborgs.

While these are my ideas (sort of), they are more honestly a take on Kevin Kelly’s new book What Technology Wants. I’m obsessed. He has got me talking about weird tech-philosophy stuff, such as whether we are cyborgs (see above) or whether it’s a good idea to quit technology altogether and go live in the wild.

I’m talking to undergraduates because my first book, coauthored with Jack Goldsmith, was selected to be read, campus-wide, by Oakland University in Michigan. For their part, the undergraduates seem to accept the idea that we are already more machine than man without much resistance, proving again that it is hard to shock the young. Perhaps to them, Darth Vadar had roughly the right idea.

7:00 P.M., Ann Arbor, Michigan

I hit up Twitter, where I find that I have said something insane about someone named Dorothy:

superwuster DOROTHY you don’t know shit about SHIT so fuck you.

Someone must have hacked my Twitter account. It is a bit of a surprise to see things written in my name that don’t fully reflect what I think. On the other hand, that was also the experience of rereading my first book.

A little later I notice that in addition to a hacker, I have a Twitter hater, apparently one of the students forced to read my book for school. He writes:

julianmgsantos Fuck you tim wu #crazyrhyming

julianmgsantos #whatreallycheesesme tim wu and dumb bitches

To his credit: At least Mr. Julianmgsantos appears to be enjoying Twitter. Most everyone else views it as a duty, like washing the digital dishes. Nonetheless, my appearance at a student Q & A yesterday prompted a reappraisal:

julianmgsantos Not gonna lie i hated tim wu. Until he showed up to this Q&A fried as hell. Im actually gonna read his book now

Kelly gets credit for that change in heart.

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