28 December 2009

Never mind the Tebbit test...

I met a friend of a friend a few days ago in Leeds. He's from Zimbabwe, and came to the UK to study just before the shit hit the fan around 1999/2000. As the shit had thoroughly hit the fan, he decided to stay in the UK, and is currently seeking asylum.

I wouldn't have known he's from Zimbabwe. He has a stronger Leeds accent than I do.

How about this for a new rule for immigrants: if you've got a stronger local accent than a local, you're allowed stay.

22 December 2009

Val T'odmorden, Yorkshire, UK

Yorkshire's Premier Ski Resort. In, er, my mum's backyard. And I had been resigned to not snowboarding this year! Now I'm going to make a seven foot snow dinka and some snow cows.

Merry Christmas!

21 December 2009

Cracker Jokes from the Guardian

Made me smile...
What's worse than finding a worm in your apple? 
Jon Holmes

What's pink and wrinkly and hangs out your pyjamas? 
Your mum 
Jeremy Dyson, The League of Gentlemen

Why has Noddy got a hat with a bell on it? 
Because he's a twat. 
Ricky Gervais

16 December 2009

Copenhagen Quote of the Day

Well, it was actually yesterday, and I heard it in the car on the radio, so it might not be word for word, but Ban Ki-Moon at Copenhagen did actually use words very very similar to:
"negotiations are difficult and there are lots of competing interests. So we can't always get exactly what we want, but if we all try, we might just get what we need"
Otherwise, I am paying approximately zero attention to Copenhagen. Aid and development are complicated enough for my little head. There is no space for the environment. Hopefully the Rolling Stones have this one covered (hey, Bono has aid...).

Wednesday Links

1. Dear White House, All I want for christmas is a global development strategy (UK too please!)

2. The Twelve Days of Christmas (Aid Edition)™

3. The Secret Diary of a Kampala Call Girl

4. Assorted on Samuelson (but missing Dixit via Rodrik:
"If there is a heaven and if I am fortunate enough to make it there one day, I hope to take classes from him again. I am sure that, with his brilliant and precocious mind, he will have developed a beautiful heavenly model of it all, and will be able to say "God has it almost right, but..."")
5. The entire Eritrean national football team disappear whilst at a tournament abroad so they don't have to go home to Eritrea. FOR THE THIRD TIME!

12 December 2009

Should Developing Country Governments Contract Out Service Provision?

....that depends on whether they can design a decent contract, is the message of a recent case study on Southern Sudan (which is also a fascinating recent history of the establishment of a new government).

"Fragile states" are stuck in a catch-22, where it might be nice in theory to compensate for weak government structures by contracting out for key services, but capacity doesn't exist within government to design an effective contract without getting ripped off.
Government has supported the process of contracting out key services, but has had limited capacity to design and manage contracts without external support. Even with World Bank administered contracts, Government has had limited capacity to ensure that the contract design and performance meet its own needs.
I'm not even so sure this is a problem of fragile states. I'm reminded of Private Eye, a British magazine usually full of stories about private sector contractors running rings around government.

04 December 2009

Friday Links

1. The Ibiza of East Africa.

2. Hundreds of free sample chapters from Princeton University Press (via Marginal Revolution). This could keep me busy for a while.

3. Lesotho 2010: Bringing the World Cup to Lesotho.

4. "I was wrong." You don't hear academics say that every day. Kudos to Alex de Waal.

5. Fuck!  Iranian immigration officials are stopping returning Iranians at the airport, making them log into their Facebook accounts, and confiscating their passport if there is anything critical.

6. Microfinance in Southern Sudan

7. Easterly knows how to write. Keep it simple, stupid.

8. Julian Gough on the Best Albums of the Noughties (there aren't any)

01 December 2009

And to add insult to injury...

Monday 30 Nov: UK commits 500 new troops to Afghanistan

Tuesday 1 Dec: US commits 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan

Why do we even bother?

Markets not in everything

Not content with blocking MSN messenger, facebook gifts, oh, and my linkedin account...

The U.S. Government has in place export control and economic sanctions laws and regulations, which prohibit U.S. companies, like LinkedIn, from engaging in certain transactions with persons from several designated countries, including <<INSERT COUNTRY HERE>>.

it seems US sanctions have now blocked Ethiopian Airlines from accepting online credit card payments from Southern Sudan (I managed to do this in March). So I can't book my flight home to the UK for christmas.

Thanks America. Happy Christmas to you too. I hope those sanctions are working.

America, with a population of 300 million, is one of the fattest countries of the world, with a frighteningly awful perception of poor countries, aggravated by a befuddled, profit-driven media.