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Monthly Archives: May 2010


This map of how popular different tourist places are was generated by an Estonian programmer using the number of photo uploads to a popular site. Yellow is the most touristy, followed by red, blue is not very touristy, but grey is nowheresville.

I am a little suspicious about the methodology after I saw Toledo, Ohio show up pretty yellow. However, otherwise the map seems plausible. Coasts and mountains show up about as much…

Posted in Maps, Technology | Tagged | 16 Comments

Memorial Day

Readers of this blog know that I am not a big fan of military solutions to development problems, AKA “fixing failed states”,  and am unhappy about wars that are justified on development grounds.

Yet I believe all of us should admire, respect, and pay tribute to those who put their lives on the line in dangerous places, which includes all of our soldiers and our aid workers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and honor the memory of those who…

Posted in In the news | 5 Comments

Is it easier to start an NGO than a business in Haiti?

From today’s NYT:

Alain Armand, 36, a Haitian-American lawyer from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who is now trying to open several businesses here in Port-au-Prince, the capital, including a bed and breakfast.

Trying is the operative word, he said: “It costs $3,000, and it takes at least three months to get incorporated. There is no organized structure in which we, outsiders to NGO-land, can operate.”

Meanwhile, one list for Haiti lists 822 NGOs operating.

Posted in Entrepreneurship | Tagged | 13 Comments

The Child Mortality Map

Posted in Accountability and transparency, Maps | Tagged , | 10 Comments

The Age of Democratic Capitalism is Over

Washington Post reviews three new books arguing this. Very convincing, except for the “over” part.

Posted in Academic research, In the news | 5 Comments

Fail fast

Failure is inevitable. Just be sure you fail fast, so you leave time to figure out how to succeed.

UPDATE 5/31 2:35PM Sorry, just got around to giving credit to the original source, an interview with futurist/thinker Freeman Dyson by Wired magazine.

Say something about failure in experiments or businesses or anything else. What’s the value of failure?

You can’t possibly get a good technology going without an enormous number of failures. It’s a

Posted in Big ideas | Tagged | 5 Comments

Of mangos and plastic crates

Sometimes the things that keep people in poverty seem so small and so insignificant, and the remedies seem so simple, that it’s hard for people from rich countries to understand why they remain impoverished.

Jelen, a Haitian farmer living on about $2 a day, can’t get enough water to her mango trees, even though there is a river just beside her property. She needs a simple canal dug from the river to irrigate her…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Disaster relief, Trade | Tagged , | 15 Comments

The Asian Man’s Burden? China worried about prospects of Europe

According to the FT, China’s Investment Corporation is “very concerned” about threats of further instability in the Eurozone.

Considering also China’s big new role in aid to Africa, is it time to start wondering whether both World Bank and IMF should be moved to Beijing?

Not that I am willing to join the China-worship cult, but I DO love historical ironies that deflate pretensions of the White Man as Savior.

Posted in In the news | Tagged | 8 Comments

Oops, did I just prove “Confessions of a hit man” conspiracy?

Ray Fisman in Slate takes my paper with Daniel Berger, Nathan Nunn, and Shanker Satyanath on Commercial Imperialism as partial confirmation of John Perkins’ allegation of a global conspiracy to take down poor nations for the benefit of rich corporations. This is fun, so let’s run with it.

Of course there’s a eeny weeny difference between conspiracy theories and social science that just says, yes, CIA interventions could have been helpful to US corporations…

Posted in Academic research, Trade | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

What in the world is going on with Turkish democracy and Dani Rodrik’s father-in-law?

Dani Rodrik and his wife Pinar Doğan, a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, have a piece in The New Republic called Turkey’s Other Dirty War.

Dani also discusses the issue in his blog.

Posted in Democracy and freedom, In the news | Tagged , | 1 Comment