Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday links

1/ An absolutely brilliant article by Esther and Abhijit in Foreign Policy on hunger. Here is a taster few sentences:

"What we've found is that the story of hunger, and of poverty more broadly, is far more complex than any one statistic or grand theory; it is a world where those without enough to eat may save up to buy a TV instead, where more money doesn't necessarily translate into more food, and where making rice cheaper can sometimes even lead people to buy less rice."

2/ In defence of flogging This is a brilliant article defending, well, flogging. I must confess, I have some sympathy, and I am someone who only reluctantly believes in punishment and not at all how it is carried out today. Start with the idea that you've been offered a choice between 20 lashes and 2 years in prison - what would you choose? If you choose the flogging, then presumably prison is worse (more cruel?) for you...

5/ The persistence of anti-semitism. Amazing. 14th c. progroms against Jews during the Plague are a good predictor of a community's votes for the Nazi party and anti-semitic letters to newspapers from that community.

8/ Egypt responds to protests of appointing a Christian governor by suspending him. Meanwhile, a majority of Egyptians want Koran as source of laws... Just keep watching...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SPAM that doesn't suite me.. I think

I've been getting some very strange spam of late. I'm worried about this one: "A portable toilet lets you go on the go" - especially when combined with one for the National Hip Replacement Center.

I also have just received one entitled: "Need a new flag? Shop now for a variety".

Who the hell 'needs a new flag'?! Also, who would carry around a portable toilet? - and can I fit it in my day bag?

I get them for cheap Canadian medicines too. No need - hands off my Medicare! And where is my flag to wave? Hope we don't have to walk too far to this rally - my hip is playing up. Also, I hope they have enough portable sanitary facilities at this rally...

Wait a minute. Something rather disconcerting is happening here... Glenn Beck, where are you?

Keynes vs Hayek: Round 2

The most eagerly awaited tune of the year (for some). You can see the original HERE, a sneak preview for this one HERE. And I pretty much agree with Arnold Kling's comments about the new video HERE.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Friday links

are back.

5/ Jesse Jackson on how the iPad is killing US jobs. Dumb. Unless you are also concerned that computers are killing typists jobs, type-writers are killing scribes jobs, literacy is killing town cryer jobs, air conditioning is killing the job of people who wave palm leaves to keep others' cool, washing machines are bla bla bla - it's a back to the caves story again... . This link is Jodi Beggs's take on it, which I agree with.

6/ What defines a meme? I strongly recommend this. Memes are pieces of information - bits, if you will - which compete inside our minds in the same way as genes compete. I like this paragraph:

Ideas. Whether an idea arises uniquely or reappears many times, it may thrive in the meme pool or it may dwindle and vanish. The belief in God is an example Dawkins offers—an ancient idea, replicating itself not just in words but in music and art. The belief that Earth orbits the Sun is no less a meme, competing with others for survival. (Truth may be a helpful quality for a meme, but it is only one among many.)

9/ Egyptians protest Christian Governor: "A non-Muslim should not be ruling over Muslims". Gosh - who'd have thought this might happen? Here is the Reuters version too. Christians begin to flee Egypt (probably exaggerated - for now) but maybe the Sufis will be first unless the right people pay attention in time.

"To be honest, I think I’ve turned the full circle with Silvio. Like everybody else, I started amused, then I was shocked. Then, for a while, I was disgusted. Now, though, I’m in awe. I’m not sure I’d want him in charge of my country, but if half the stuff they write about him is true, the guy is a superman. Credit where it’s due."

12/ Dani Rodrik's talk on Structural Change and Growth. I went to this - it was brilliant and I learnt a number of things that changed my thoughts/opinions on some things - notably Industrial Policy. I am not totally against Industrial Policy but I do think we should be careful how and when to use it. We don't have a choice but to have one in some senses since you still have to choose where to build roads, for example. I still think we should be careful, but this talk convinced me we can use it in areas I thought best to avoid before. It is not a short video but if you are interested in the subject I strongly recommend watching it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Growing governments before elections

I was just catching up listening to some podcasts and there seem to be some quite old ones that I had downloaded but not listened to. Amongst these was an episode of the Radio 4 comedy The News Quiz from 20th November, 2009. The Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament must have just happened (which sets out broad Government policies and intention to introduce specific bills for the year). It was, of course, written by the Labour Government of the day. The contestants are talking about the speech and there is this wonderful quote - especially looking back retrospectively:

"It's fantastic - they're dishing out money left, right and centre. They're giving lots of money to the poor, to the old, to the young, they're going to pay off half the national debt and you think 'how are they possibly going to afford all this?' and then you think 'he [Gordon Brown] doesn't have to; he's not going to be Prime Minister. And that's how it works."

And, of course, the comedian was quite correct. You can watch some of the fanfare here if you like.

Friday, April 8, 2011

US Government shut-down

I've got some great Friday links but not been able to put them up just yet, sorry... It might run to Monday or Tuesday...

In the mean time, you can a ticker to the American shut-down or else a more detailed version (but still including a countdown ticker) here. The Huffington Post and Sunlight Foundation talks about some of the potential consequences.

The Economist does take sides and has opinions on things, but this is one of the strongest-worded articles from them I have read - effectively criticising everyone as pathetic kids. Usually only Berlusconi (deservedly) gets such treatment from them. This is my favourite paragraph from an article last week:

Both sides must shoulder some of the blame for the steadily worsening atmosphere on Capitol Hill. The Democrats have failed repeatedly, most recently with Mr Obama’s dishonest budget for the next fiscal year, to indicate how they intend to repair the nation’s finances. Yet even set against that miserable standard, it is the Republicans who deserve most criticism. While extracting many concessions from the Democrats, they have made precious few themselves. And while spinelessly failing to explain how the deficit might be controlled in the medium term, conservatives have vaingloriously demanded more cuts in the short term than should be inflicted on an economy as weak as America’s now is.

This week's offerings from the economist are found here and here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Paediatric HIV in Lesotho

Here is a great story in the NY Times on HIV in Lesotho - featuring our very own Paul Young :) - one of many dedicated young doctors working in tough conditions in Lesotho.

Watch the video too.

Friday, April 1, 2011

European death penalty companies

European companies supplying execution drugs to US states.

A Food and Drugs Administration official recommended that the shipments "be processed expeditiously to us as it was for the purpose of executions and not for use by the general public. " Nice to know the FDA cares more about drugs used to kill people than to keep people alive.

And here is about one of their victims.

The consequences of Koran burning

The Guardian asks:

Cough, splutter, splutter

I strongly disapprove of the Koran burning, but seriously? You burnt a book so I am going to murder some people loosely associated with you and it is your fault - I have no control over my behaviour? Oh, and wonderfully, loads of you will agree with me (according to the Guardian poll at the time I'm looking at it).

I can only assume that yes-voters would feel the same when Christians are treated badly by Muslims in, say, Indonesia or Egypt or Iraq, and a retaliation comes in the form of some Christians who attack a Mosque or a Muslim in a Christian country.

Gosh. I wonder how far we can extend this principle?

Friday links

5/ Malema: we need more leaders like Castro and Mugabe (cough, splutter, eye rolling, ...) (HT: MM)