copycats

Well, entirely unsurprisingly the Ugandan army has been accused of war crimes in the DRC in a recently leaked draft UN report. The foreign minister, Sam Kutesa, has suggested that the publication of such a report might “undermine” Uganda’s resolve in contributing to and participating in peacekeeping missions, most notably in Somalia. This sounds not unlike Rwanda’s recent threat to pull its peacekeeping troops, which spurred the last minute trip of Ban Ki Moon to smooth things over. Copycats! But hey, the (credible) threat seemed to work pretty well for Kigali. It doesn’t set a very good precedent for the UN though…

US Development Policy

Today President Obama announced a new US development policy — the first ever issued by a US president. See the press release here.

Am currently wallowing in Political Order in Changing Societies, but hopefully more analysis and links on the policy coming soon. On that note, “The most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government.” Agree?

new global development site

New global development website over at the Guardian. According to the press release:

“The Guardian today has launched a new website in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help focus the world’s attention on global development. The site will provide a new space for discussion and interaction on the biggest challenges affecting the lives of billions of people across the developing world, including poverty, hunger, infant mortality, adaptation to climate change and economic development.”

The site itself can be found here. I haven’t explored much yet, but so far the datastore looks particularly interesting…

writing less badly

Political scientist Michael Munger gives 10 tips on how to write less badly. My favorites?

#4 Give yourself time. Many smart people tell themselves pathetic lies like, “I do my best work at the last minute.” Look: It’s not true. No one works better under pressure.

#5 Everyone’s unwritten work is brilliant. And the more unwritten it is, the more brilliant it is.

#9 Your most profound thoughts are often wrong. Or, at least, they are not completely correct. Precision in asking your question, or posing your puzzle, will not come easily if the question is hard.

Like PhD comics, they are funny because they are so painfully true. The good news? You are not alone! Fight on.

small victories in record keeping

While many of my photos from the summer were lost along with the laptop, I managed to salvage a few from the camera, including this one — an effort in birth certification in Arua regional hospital. Record keeping and data collection is a major challenge in Uganda. There is no national register or systematic record keeping of births and deaths. The national census, while extremely useful, is only administered every 10 years, with the next census report due in 2012 (they always fall conveniently after an election year). The absence of data makes planning a major challenge, and probably contributes significantly to corruption. It is easy to create ghost soldiers, ghost teachers, ghost medical workers, etc., when you cannot easily prove or disprove their existence. Has anyone looked into the correlation between a country’s data collection activities/capabilities and level of corruption? I’d love some data on that.

APSA bound

I am off to DC this evening for the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. As luck would have it, the Uganda North American Association is holding its annual conference this week/weekend as well, and in DC! Good timing for my partner in crime who is trekking across the country with me after an already epic journey across the globe. If you’re also in the area, let me know!

keeping cool

So I just arrived back in the states after a 30+ hour journey through Addis Ababa and Dubai. The flight wasn’t bad, but upon arrival in SFO we were so jetlagged that I managed to leave my laptop in the luggage cart and did not remember it until several hours later….I have not been able to locate it since. I am still holding out some hope that it will turn up in the SFO lost and found by some kind soul, but I am now putting my energies toward trying to recover what I can through email. Needless to say it is a great loss, with work, data, data analysis, papers, and photos that are not easily (or possibly ever) recoverable. Good thing I’ve shared most of my data and at least a few photos over email on this blog. SIGH!! But this has been a great exercise in keeping my cool (even in this 90+ degree heat) and keeping perspective on the loss of a laptop in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, more soon. Oh yeah, and back up your stuff. Seriously.