26 May, 2009

Sotomayor

Anyone else think it's a bit disingenuous for Republicans to say of Sotomayor that

This is someone who clearly was picked because she’s a woman and Hispanic, not because she was the best qualified.
and simultaneously say that the reason we shouldn't have affirmative action is because it will call into question the true qualifications of minorities?

22 May, 2009

Fuzzy Concepts?

Fabio Rojas writes:

Back to social science, I’d argue that the underlying concepts of any social science are inherently vague. Formalizing them allows you to ignore the ill-defined nature of the process so you can make a clean academic model. It doesn’t address the underlying mess.
Is it the concept that's fuzzy or the underlying reality? I'd argue it's the real world that's fuzzy, but that our concepts shouldn't be. Science progresses through the continual sharpening and refinement of ideas, so social science should strive for clear concepts, not fuzzy ones. Suppose physicists had some concept that was ill-defined, unmeasurable, and produced no falsifiable predictions. They wouldn't get very far. (String theory, anyone?) Social science has no different epistemological requirements.

21 May, 2009

One of the cooler things I've seen...

What taxis look like from above:

There's lots and lots of other cool stories on the Britain from Above website.

19 May, 2009

Helicopter Aid

I liked this post:

In 2007, people in the Western Province of Zambia lost their homes, their livestock and their crops when heavier-than-normal flash floods swept through their area. USAID’s office of disaster assistance stepped in with $280,000 worth of with seeds and fertilizer, training for farmers, and emergency relief supplies.

Two NGOs working in Zambia, Oxfam GB and Concern Worldwide, tried a different approach: they handed out envelopes stuffed with cash—from $25 to $50 per month per affected family, with no strings attached. An evaluation found that common fears about cash transfers—that the cash infusion will cause inflation in the market, that the money will be squandered, or that men will take control of the money—were unrealized.

What did people buy with the money? The list includes maize, beans, salt, cooking oil, meat, vegetables, clothes and blankets, paraffin, transport, soap and body lotion, and lots of other mundane household items. They also loaned it to friends, used it to pay back debts, purchased health care, education and transport, and rebuilt their homes. Only a very small fraction of the money (less than .5%) was spent on “unproductive” items, like liquor for the men.

18 May, 2009

The End is Near?

Just came across this on the wire today--pretty exciting depending on where you're coming from.

I don't know as much about this conflict as some others, but it seems as least to point to the potential for some rebuilding in Sri Lanka. Whether the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lankan military, or both are guilty of crimes against humanity will be an interesting question to see taken up by the UN.

Shelling of civilians...sounds kinda familiar? I don't mean to be entirely negative-minded here, but I seem to remember lots of news lately about Americans shelling civilians. Is this one of those situations where being the world's super-power means you can ask other governments to "act responsibly" in their military efforts without having your own scrutinized?

Granted, the very fact of news stories like these is tantamount to public scrutiny, but to the best of my knowledge there has been no immediate talk of Crimes Against Humanity directed against the United States, Presidents past or present, or any military commanders. At least, not of the direct sort now being discussed in the Sri Lankan conflict.

10 May, 2009

This iz old news?

So this is possibly old news (or good news) for everyone else but, WOW. lolcats at a completely new level.

01 May, 2009

grillz

Just had to share this video that my friend made.... it somehow ended up on SportsIllustrated.com today.