Monday, December 28, 2009

Year-End Donation Time?

While I don't particularly suspect my readership to be well-healed enough to be throwing around mountains of cash, it is possible that some of you (three) may be considering making year-end donations. If so, Givewell is an absolutely indispensable resource. Seriously. Check it out. They do very serious, very rigorous reviews of charities and present their findings in accessible language, all with the goal of helping you get the most out of your donations.

Their recent blog on microfinance is also worth checking out, whether or not you plan on giving this year. I've never been a big believer in microfinance as charity and feel somewhat vindicated that the pendulum is swinging back on it (although I would have rather been wrong). Unfortunately, I wasn't blogging early enough to be able to claim any credit for seeing around the corner on this one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Traditions

We had a small holiday celebration in the IPA-Ghana office on Monday where we decorated cookies and shared our family traditions. The ex-patriots got caught up in debate on what the best Christmas cookie is and whose family has the bigger Christmas tree before suddenly we realizing that we had no idea what our teammates' traditions are.

My enigmatic coworker Jonathan enlightened us: "Christmas in Ghana is a time when the chickens will suffer. Many fowls will be laid to rest on Christmas."

Apparently, we have Christmas Ham in the US, while our friends have Christmas Chicken in Ghana.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Missing from the Afghan Surge Debate

I'm no military expert, and I certainly don't have any informed opinions on how the surge will play out, but one thing I do think it's important that the Afghan point of view was missing from the otherwise extensive debate on the new surge.

Friday, December 11, 2009

No 'Net

The internet has been down at my house lately, and power has been off frequently at our new office, so there hasn't been much opportunity for blogging recently -- sorry.

I did get to read a great New Yorker article this morning (Via marginal revolution). It's rewarding to see the rise in public policy experimentation, and left me feeling a lot better about the Senate health care bill.

But if the premise of the article is correct, why haven't extension farmers succeeded in Africa? IPA has done a few studies aimed at these types of questions (e.g., how do farmers share knowledge in Kenya?), and I believe there are a few evaluations of extension workers in the works. It will be interesting to see how the knowledge shakes out on these issues in the coming years, but I certainly hope the New Yorker guy is on to something.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Excellent Graphic on Climate Change

There's a pretty cool interactive graphic in the NYT today.

On the IPA blog (again)

Wrote another post for IPA, which you can find here