Highlights from my week:
- Being greeted by a Kenyan friend of my Kenyan colleague with: “Welcome to Kenya! Hakuna matata! Kuna referendum.” (There is no worry! There is a referendum.)
- Getting cut off by some jerk on the road, and then noticing a giant “Save the Children” logo on the side of their car.
- Realizing that The Economist has RSS feeds. This brings my total Google Reader/FeedDemon subscriptions to 105 RSS feeds, with an average of 500 posts per week. Too much?
- Discovering that DJ Z-Trip has a bunch of free music on his site, which is now keeping me sane given that I have none of my own music on this computer and my officemates play Christian radio all day long. (Nb. I have nothing against Christians — but I do have something against Christian radio.)
But let’s not talk about me. How was your week, world? I’m still working through a backlog (see bullet 3, above) on my ridiculous list of development blogs, news feeds, random friends’ musings, and other nonsense — but here’s what I’ve come across so far that’s caught my eye (mostly from The Economist).
- Curious how Honduras is doing, a year or so after the military kicked the president out? I don’t know much about the country, but as a case study it seems to problematize our definition of a “coup”: Did the military commit a coup? Or was it just a counter-coup against the president’s illegal power grabs? Paul Collier has tried to craft a policy that navigates these nuances in order to “harness the fear of a coup as a force for good” by providing an international guarantee of military action against a coup, contingent upon free and fair elections. While I respect the creativity, I think he vastly overestimates the international community’s ability to make a sound judgment on elections, as evidenced recently in Burundi’s elections.
- Speaking of elections, an optimistic note on the future of democracy in Africa and a preview of the year’s upcoming elections across the continent.
- US attorney general will go after money stolen from African treasuries and hidden overseas. This should have happened a while ago.
- A trio of education stories: First, China grapples with academic fraud at the level of both students and scholars. Meanwhile, German cities ponder how to make education more equitable. And finally, the spread of for-profit colleges in the US prompts the possibility of government intervention. (My take: I don’t have many qualms about for-profit higher education. I’m happy to see more efficient educational institutions that aren’t burdened with research infrastructure, tenured professors, etc. and can just get to the business of actually teaching. The question is whether they are still providing educational value to students. However, the debate on for-profit universities misses the fact that this same question applies to all universities.)
- A report on the screwed up state of criminal justice in America. Amazingly, it doesn’t mention race once. The evidence is pretty damning without it even broaching that aspect. This is one of the big important issues the country should deal with, but may never be forced to.
- The US and South Korea conduct joint military exercises as a warning to North Korea, while China still has Kim Jong Il’s back.
- Fusion power: 30 years away. As always. But we’re gonna need a lot more money to get there. I’m starting to think nuclear fusion research is just a giant Spanish Prisoner scam.