and back to diversity...

I was thinking more about my "history" posting, about the ethnic cleansing of middle europe and whether that does facilitate peace or is desirable. One characteristic of the great empires has been diversity --- talented and ambitious people wound up in the capitals. That's why pre-WWI Vienna was so diverse.

Did I really not blog about this before? I've had people tell me that the stresses of diversity are what lead empires to break down, but it seems to me more the strength of diversity that keeps them powerful for so long. But as their power wanes, there is a lot of name calling and blaming, so the diversity gets accentuated and that may indeed accelerate the collapse, once it's already started. Again, this isn't my field and I don't know. But I expect great cities (and universities) will always be cosmopolitan. In Vienna, you don't see all that much racial diversity, but you certainly hear vast linguistic diversity -- not just in the tourist zones, on the street cars and trains and in the ordinary restaurants. People from countries spreading from France to Russia are here in great numbers, and there are a few people from a lot further abroad than that.

One thing that struck me about New York City in October 2001 was that I no longer heard any New York accents in Manhattan. It was either ordinary / yuppie American or the rest of the world. The first time I went, in 1988, there was a lot of broad New York. Of course, maybe I'm just less sensitive to that after living in Boston for five years, but I don't think that was it. I *think* there was more international diversity filling the more menial jobs like taxi driving and shop assistants in Manhattan. I don't know what that means about where the people from the Bronx etc. were now working.

By the way, I couldn't go skating tonight because it was raining. Tomorrow we are going to a concert and then Tuesday I have to go to Bath to interview a postdoc, so that's it for this year. Unless the concert ends by 10, hmmm... maybe I should bring my skates to work! But otherwise Will and I had a great day together. And I did go skating on Friday.