Thursday, July 21, 2011

Friday links

So many interesting things on the internet these last few weeks and I've not had time to post them. I've got a little time to breath just now so here is a start on a few:

- World's wealthiest countries guilty of willful neglect in Africa famine (HT: MM) Several friends posted this on FB and one comment noted that Africa needs to do more to help itself. I have sympathy with this view, but a large proportion of this is down to climate change. It's like rich countries are punching the poor ones - compensation must be paid or climate change will get us all. Speaking of which: Climate change threatens peace.

- Amazing interview with Larry Summers - the article HERE and the interview HERE. "It is crazy if you think about it, that we have schools across this country where we tell our kids that education is the most important thing in the world, but we ask them to study in classrooms where the paint is chipping off the walls. We can borrow money to invest in fixing that, at 2.8 percent. Twenty percent of the people in the country who are doing construction are unemployed, and we’re not trying to do something about that, when we have a major demand problem? It just doesn’t make any sense."

- House votes to de-fund Organisation of American States. (HT: MCO) wtf?! "The OAS is an enemy of the U.S. and an enemy to the interests of freedom and security," said Rep. David Rivera (R-FL). "I might offer an amendment to pull out of the world, to build a moat around the United States and put a dome over the thing," said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), sarcastically. "This is getting ridiculous. Here we are for a lousy $48 million willing to symbolically turn our backs on our own hemisphere... This is folly. it's more than folly, it's dangerous,"

- Bin Laden nearly captures just after 9/11. Imagine how history would be different if he had been. "Tora Bora was just a case of military incompetence," argues Richard Clarke, at the time, a White House counter-terrorism adviser. They had plenty of time, they had the people, they had the information - this was not a matter of miscommunication. This was a matter of general officers deciding not to do it because they didn't think it was their mission."

- A lifetime in three years. "Diagnosed at 17 with bone cancer, Alex Lewis underwent intensive treatment but knew he wanted to cram as much life as possible into the time he had left. In three years he experienced what some people take a lifetime to achieve, including meeting and marrying the love of his life. He died shortly after his 22nd birthday."

- Fascinating article on Russia and modernity. "President Medvedev visited California’s Silicon Valley last year, where he met with some of the many young Russians employed there. One expat Russian techie asked his President a key question: did he understand that Silicon Valley is not a place, but rather a state of mind?
Whether Medvedev got the point, there is little indication the broader Russian ruling elite does."

- The method to Netanyahu's madness. "It was an Arab legislator who made the most telling comment to the Israeli parliament last week as it passed the boycott law, which outlaws calls to boycott Israel or its settlements in the occupied territories. Ahmed Tibi asked: “What is a peace activist or Palestinian allowed to do to oppose the occupation? Is there anything you agree to?” The boycott law is the latest in a series of ever-more draconian laws being introduced by the far-right. The legislation's goal is to intimidate those Israeli citizens, Jews and Palestinians, who have yet to bow down before the majority-rule mob."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

World Bank to release its treasure chest of data

This has been happening for ages though and the Bank is continually becoming more open so I am not sure why this is news. Also, why the tone of the article is so critical, I am not sure. Doesn't seem too fair.

British government to review whether tax-payer would prefer less-value-for-money and prejudice British jobs

And how will it do this? By inquiring as to whether British firms should be favoured in some way in bids for government contracts.

My limited understanding is that this is against EU law and rightly so (at least as far as competition amongst other EU firms goes). Contracts should be awarded to the company that provides the best value-for-money - or else the tax-payer will either pay more or get a worse product/service. The nationality of the company should not matter.

In addition to risking wasting taxpayer money and providing worse services, the government would also risk losing British jobs as British firms overseas may face retaliatory measures. If British firms are confident they are providing good value-for-money, let them compete at home and abroad with firms from other countries. If they are not, they do not deserve protection; they should improve.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Economist quotes

Friday links

4/ Ego depletion, pro-sociality and capitalism Way more fascinating than it sounds.

7/ Libertarians and capital punishment. I normally like Guido but his blog on the death penalty was dumb.

13/ Evolution of alphabets. A great graphic.

14/ I'm only putting the usual Egyptian anti-Christian round-up in only occasionally - it's become too easy. For this week: Muslims surround church and threaten to kill priest (don't worry, western liberals can choose to ignore it and perhaps blame the priest himself or America or whatever) meanwhile, 8 Christian homes are torched (keep those eyes and ears covered and don't ask difficult questions) and more missing Christian girls (not being forced to convert to Islam - surely not!). Christian Egyptian tweets and offends paranoid-people-who-attack-others-whilst-convincing-the-world-they-are-the-victims but don't worry, we can all take comfort in the fact that it is the fault of America and Israel your honor - that is why I attack them - I have no control over myself and can't help it, you see.