Links round-up

Hi all,

 Days when Sri Lanka win a last-ball victory against Australia and Lasith Malinga gets through four overs without accidentally breaking his bowling arm in the process of sitting down are good days. We should savour them when they come, rare as they are. My first thought, seeing the headline was ‘oh God, fake news has come to cricket’, but no, it’s verifiable. As opposed to certifiable, which is the adjective that runs to my head when I see most accusations of fake news. Sad!

 1.       Chris Blattman loved this piece by Dani Rodrik entitled Global Citizens, National Shirkers. Rodrik argues that the internationalist values that until fairly recently seemed to have won control of the political discourse have brought with them neglect of domestic problems and the failure to persuasively argue the case for the domestic benefits of internationalist policy. I may be arraying myself against two much heavier hitters with this opinion but I really disagree with a lot of what Rodrik writes, and by extension Blattman’s praise. An internationalist, outward facing discourse does not have to come at the expense of a progressive, thoughtful discussion about domestic problems and historically hasn’t. While it’s true that the last ten or so years have seen an increasingly global policy agenda coupled with the relative neglect of domestic redistribution and alleviation of deprivation, that’s a recent phenomenon. We have had extended periods when we cared about both and worked for both – both here in the UK and abroad. Putting them in opposition to one another is, as Owen Barder recently put it, a classic trick: to pit two progressive causes against each other; and it distracts us from the real problems.

2.       Speaking of distractions, I mourned the death of Hans Rosling last week, but he himself might have seen the attention I paid him as a distraction from what really matters. I was sent this brilliant tribute to Rosling by a colleague, and it argues that to really honour him would be to have made him unnecessary. “So how do we let Hans Rosling rest in peace?… by remembering that mothers in Bangladesh no longer give birth to five children on average, nor four, but TWO POINT TWO children “. Remember less of him and more of his message.

3.       As a quick fillip after a couple of down-notes, it may be hard to see right now, but some polling shows that America is getting more tolerant of religious minorities over time. It certainly doesn’t look like it right now, but it always pays to look deeper. Underlying currents and the short term movement are often at odds.

4.       Imagine you wrote a blog critical of a Nobel winner and he showed up to leave a long and detailed comment – agreeing with you. Sounds fanciful? Incredibly, it actually happened this week, with Daniel Kahnemann showing up on this blog to explain why he agrees that he was wrong (noting with bitter irony that he fell for a cognitive bias he a Tversky first identified in the 1970s). What a hero he is.

5.       I loved this piece by Tim Harford, about how giving workers control of their working environment can increase their productivity. I’m not going to make any pointed comments about clear desk policies or the restriction on me putting my world map up on the wall, but I’ll just leave you with the thought that if I was allowed to supplement my geographically-challenged brain with the map, I’d save about 20 minutes a day googling ‘where the heck is the Gambia?’

6.       I’ve got to draw this one to a close, as I’m running ridiculously late but here’s my favourite piece of randomness I read this week – Jack Slack on how to defend yourself against multiple attackers: “so far there is only one proven method: run, swing like a mad man when you need to, and run some more.”  Read it for the gifs. They’re hilarious…

 Have a great weekend, everyone!


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