In politics as in development, success is fleetingly fleeting

This blog has frequently pointed out that economic growth successes don’t last — rapid growth is fleeting.  
After last night’s election, we are reminded that political success doesn’t last either. An action in one direction is followed by an equal and opposite reaction in the other.

Red states & Blue cities: Divided we’ll endure anyway

Happy election day! Aid Watch is unable to maintain any pretense of doing its normal business in the midst of all the excitement. Please vote early and often for the candidate of your choice, as long as they passed 8th grade science.
This cool 3-D map shows the Red – Blue split in a way that captures the large Democratic vote in large urban areas. Thanks a lot, cool mapmaker, now we seem even more divided.

The Coffee Party Manifesto

The Coffee Party is alarmed that our discourse has been hijacked by Partys named after other Beverages. The Coffee Party is for all the reasonable people, which happens to be correlated with drinking good coffee.
Here is our manifesto:

Eyes Wide Shut: Philanthropy Action on the “Rescheduled” Sachs vs. Clemens/Demombynes debate

Tim Ogden at Philanthropy Action issues a petition for the “rescheduled” (quotes in original) Sachs vs. Clemens/Demombynes debate on evaluating Millennium Villages, which was supposed to happen last Wednesday, to be indeed, well, rescheduled.

Physics Envy in Development (even worse than in Finance!)

Andrew Lo and Mark Mueller at MIT have a paper called “WARNING: Physics Envy May Be Hazardous to Your Wealth,” also available as a video.  The takeaway, which is equally relevant to Development as to Finance (the actual topic of the talk),  is that inability to recognize radical UNCERTAINTY is what leads to excessive confidence in mathematical models of reality, and then on to bad policy and prediction. 

Imagine how much harder physics would be if electrons had feelings! (R. Feynman)

Millennium Villages: Moving the goalposts

Here on the blog, we’ve been following the progress of the Millennium Villages Project, a joint effort from the UN and Columbia’s Earth Institute that has introduced a package of development interventions in health, education, agriculture and infrastructure into 14 “clusters” of villages throughout 10 African countries.

Between the Massive Middle and Ivy Elite

UPDATE 9am, Oct. 27: commenter says too rosy a picture of Middle? see end of this post
There has been a lot of talk this political season about Ivy League Elitism. My own background—of belonging and yet not quite belonging to the elite— makes me very conflicted.

The myth of Ethiopia’s “natural” disasters

As Amartya Sen has shown, famines in our times are not true natural disasters, but more often the consequence of bad governments and their bad policies. Revisiting the era of Live Aid for a book review in The New Republic, David Rieff gives evidence of how the Ethiopian famine was framed as a natural disaster rather than a political one, so as not to “complicate” the picture for viewers:

The Juan Williams Logic Test Edition

UPDATE: some of my dear satirically-challenged readers did not quite pick up on the ironic tone of this post, so I have made a few changes. Others seemed to be missing the point that I am mocking fallacious logical arguments, so let me just clarify that I am mocking fallacious logical arguments.

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