Thursday, February 6

Do Elections Matter for Economic Performance?

Do they? do you feel lucky punk? go on, elect your leaders in a corrupt election, make my day

In mature democracies, elections discipline leaders to deliver good economic performance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, most developing countries also hold elections, but these are often marred by illicit tactics. Using a new global data set, this article investigates whether these illicit tactics are merely blemishes or substantially undermine the economic efficacy of elections. We show that illicit tactics are widespread, and that they reduce the incentive for governments to deliver good economic performance. Our analysis also suggests that in societies with regular free and fair elections, leaders do not matter for economic growth.

that’s the key thing which so many people don't understand, they put their faith in single charismatic leaders and forget about institutions. While leaders do matter to some extent, but if you have regular free and fair elections where leaders are held to account, the leaders tend to focus on making their people better via economic growth. Look at India, the development story always helps. In the UK, the morons in the Labour govt starting with that blithering nincompoop Gordon Brown was thrown out when they screwed up the economy something bad.

good paper.

Wednesday, February 5

Half a Life in Solitary: How Colorado Made a Young Man Insane


You may have heard the statement 'the law is an ass'. As this story proves. So be wary of treating legal decisions unconditionally. The legal system does sometimes lead to bad decisions. 

If you can, see the movie Papillion son. And read the book. We've got both at home. It talks about this exact situation but also is quite uplifting on how it shows the indomitable strength of a man. 

This also requires freedom of speech to fearlessly raise these issues.  Also a legislature willing to listen and fix the laws. And a judiciary which is independent. Be very happy you're in the uk and are a Brit where all this is taken for granted son. But keep fighting and be aware. States become authoritarian if not kept in check. Imagine if you had religious nutters running the show? Calamity. 



Half a Life in Solitary: How Colorado Made a Young Man Insane

Half a Life in Solitary: How Colorado Made a Young Man Insane

A young man was sentenced to life in prison without parole after a dubious trial. And then things got worse.

Andrew Cohen Nov 13 2013, 6:00 AM ET

Associated Press

The story of Sam Mandez is appalling on so many different levels it’s hard to know where to begin. Convicted for a murder no one has ever proven he committed, sentenced to life without parole at the age of 18 because the judge and jury had no other choice, confined for 16 years in solitary for petty offenses in prison, made severely mentally ill by prison policies and practices, left untreated in that condition year after year by state officials, Mandez personifies the self-defeating cruelty of America’s prisons today.

And yet Mandez is not alone in his predicament. All over the nation, in state prisons and federal penitentiaries, officials are failing or refusing to adequately diagnose and treat inmates who are or who are made mentally ill by their confinements. The dire conditions in which these men and women are held, the deliberate indifference with which they are treated, do not meet constitutional standards. And yet there are thousands like Mandez, symbols of one of the most shameful episodes in American legal history.

The Crime

Tuesday, February 4


Here's a question which you may want to ponder son. Why haven't we won? In Afghanistan? We have everything no? Money, materials, technology, intelligence, and And and. 

How have a bunch of low intensity low tech people managed to defeat at worst and keep at bay at best the best equipped militaries in the world? 

This has happened before most famously in Vietnam where they defeated not one but two armies from France and USA. 

Not easy to define or explain. The Taliban learn. We don't is one good reason. We get too comfortable son. Rely on technology and think that will protect and allow us to win. Wrong. 

Being paranoid helps. Always learning helps. Others aren't stupid. They are learning. And as this example shows, you pay for it with blood. 

The moon and cheap cameras defeated the Americans and Brits in this battle. 




18 September 2012


Last Friday night, the moon phase left Afghanistan in near total darkness.  Even with clear skies, the enemy knew that at the brightest moment, the moon would only appear as an irrelevant orange sliver.  Such times are called “red illumination,” or “red illum.”  Planning calendars in Afghanistan highlight periods of red illum because they hamper aviation.

Even though this is the year 2012, and the Curiosity Rover is beaming images from Mars more than four decades after astronauts first trod on the lunar surface, the moon phase remains important when planning operations.  The moment that the nighttime attack on Camp Bastion was reported, the moon phase could have been safely guessed without looking up.

Monday, February 3

Language, literature, education and community: The Bengali Muslim woman in the early twentieth century

This was a fascinating article even if it left me a bit befuddled. What was the hypothesis and how did they manage to come to their conclusions? I quote the synopsis.

 The issue of women's empowerment has a long history. This article intends to trace the issue of women's empowerment in the area that now forms contemporary Bangladesh. In this regard, we have delved into the early part of the twentieth century to look into women's writing in numerous journals that were beginning to be published in that era. Looking into Muslim-edited journals, we look into how issues of women's education, writing and the place of women in society were being debated. In this process, we have laid special emphasis on women's writing, using the examples that we have cited as part of a new form of women's voices. What we discover about women's empowerment in this process is that it is a fraught issue, and there is no clear-cut or direct path that can be easily delineated. Early twentieth-century anti-colonial nation-making processes were indeed complex, and in the Bengal region, veered between emphasizing a Bengali as well as a Muslim identity. It is interesting to see how issues of language and the position of women coalesce to form a very exciting arena for researchers.Concentrating on literary writings by women in the early part of the twentieth century, this research is an effort to look into the construction of the modern Bengali Muslim woman, and the connections that can be drawn between the formation of this identity and the emergence of a notion of a Bengali nation. In broad outline, we will be debating the main contours of this nation — based as it is on religious, community and linguistic affiliations. Identity — both at the individual, or community/national level, remained, and remains fluid, as its various dimensions are foregrounded at different times. The nation is also being envisaged as an appendage to modernity, hence the lines that defined modernity at this point are also shifting, and the grounds that the envisaged modern nation occupies are continuously reformed and reconstituted.

foregrounded? eh?

But very interesting to learn about Bengali women writers at the beginning of the last century. Fascinating flowering of their own identity. The authors also navigate and bring out fascinating differences between the urban and rural, muslim and hindu, urdu and bengali speaking and the mixtures thereof.

An interesting paper but curiously left me unsatisfied. I would have liked the authors to have delved deeper into the mix and seen how the Bengali woman emerged, comparing the Hindu and Muslim woman, rather than taking a uni-dimensional perspective because I do believe that there would be a firmer and broader identity with the Bengali bit rather than the religious bit. Still some good references…