What does New York City’s new bike-share program have in common with the special police forces being set up in India to protect female tourists from rape? The answer can be found in Margaret Atwood’s recent science-fiction trilogy: Oryx & Crake, The Year of the Flood, and Maddadam (the third volume will be published in September). In these dystopic novels, cities have been divided into two parts. There are the gated and firmly policed compounds inhabited by scientists and the executives of biotech corporations, and there is everywhere else. If you aren’t a “compounder,” a happy inhabitant of one such amenity-rich compound, then you’re a “pleeblander,” a plebian relegated to the pleeblands, whose streets are filled with garbage and dominated by gangs, themselves run by corrupt private security forces totally uninterested in your safety or wellbeing.
Even before the scandal involving a video of his allegedly smoking crack, Toronto's mayor was the most American-style politician in Canada