Links I Like [7.14]

1. The implications of Complexity for Development
I’ve been banging on about complexity for quite a while now. This is an, as they say, oldy but goodie. Owen Barder, one of the only people who actually justifies the title “expert”, runs through the implications of complexity for development. (Seriously, Owen Barder is so good, Francisco Toro of Boring Development asks the rhetorical question, “Why do people spend thousands of dollars on degrees in International Development when they could just download Owen Barder’s podcasts for free?) The policy implications are important: resist engineering, avoid isomorphic mimicry, resist fatalism, promote innovation, embrace creative destruction, shape development, embrace experimentation, and act global. The ultimate conclusion, however, is perhaps the most important: be humble!

2. 25 Thoughts on the 25th Anniversary of the ‘Seinfeld’ Premier

3. God Loves Cleveland
I’m only slightly ashamed that LeBron news breaks into this list, but this article is really great. Sports are an important part of life and LeBron might be the most important athlete in professional sports right now.

4. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson on Why Nations Fail Blog have been writing a series of posts on James Scott’s book Seeing Like a State. They are all worth a read:

Prelude to Seeing Like a State
Images of the State
Seeing Like a State
The Art of Not Being Governed
An Application of the Art of Not Being Governed

Needless to say, I’ve recently purchased Scott’s book.

5. Tyler Cowen on Global Inequality.
This is the best summary on what we know (and don’t know) about income inequality, broadly speaking.

“Even Nothing Is Something”

Periodically an adjunct professor from the United States comes to teach a class here at the Africa Theological Seminary. Besides teaching, they really don’t have a whole lot to do, so (with some of these people) I end up spending evenings talking with them about stuff, in general. A couple weeks ago a new professor arrived on campus. I introduced myself after our weekly chapel service and when he learned that I had been in Kenya for almost a year, he said he had some questions for me.

Later that evening we sat outside and he told me about this village he “has a heart for”. Every time he teaches at ATS in Kitale he travels about an hour “into the bush” to visit this village. No water. No electricity. The school has dirt floors. He really feels like he needs to do something. He asked my opinions on several well known aid and development programs and agencies. World Vision (excellent theory of change, but no evidence proving it’s efficacy). Compassion International (weak theory of change, but rigorous evidence proving it’s efficacy). Hope International (fine work, but less than promising in a community with no water, electricity, and – likely – weak access to markets).

Like so many people who experience the reality of life in a village like the one he visits, he feels an inextricable (perhaps even spiritual) feeing to to do something. I went to bed that night thinking about everything I’ve learned through my studies in college and through my experiences in Panama, Ghana, and Kenya. I wrestled with this feeling to do something, felt by so many (including myself). As slumber set in, I lazily concluded: sometimes something is nothing.

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