Monday Miscellany

This week's links worth sharing:
  • NYU's Development Research Institute is hosting a free one-day conference on Friday, March 4th called "New Directions in Development," including talks by William Easterly and Chris Blattman. After realizing (almost immediately) that the title is not a pun on the main show choir featured on Glee, I decided to go. If you read my blog and plan to attend let me know so we can meet up!
  • What the strange persistence of rockets can tell us about innovation.
  • Cosma Shalizi, of the blog Three Toed Sloth, is posting lecture notes from his course on "Advanced Data Analysis from an Elementary Point of View".
  • Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development thinks USAID's new evaluation policy is really good, but isn't getting enough attention. Sounds like a good policy (if it gets implemented, of course) and I'm especially likely to agree, since it tracks pretty closely with the 'policy proposal' I included with a recent grad school joint degree application.
  • Mead Over, also at CGD, writes about PEPFAR's new scientific advisory board: "PEPFAR's overriding objective is  "[T]ransition from emergency response to sustainable country-led programs." Despite good intentions, AIDS programs cannot be "sustainable" in poor or even in middle-income countries unless they meet one or both of two criteria: new infections should be rare and high quality AIDS treatment should be much less costly than it is now. PEPFAR seems to realize that it does not currently know how to do this. They hope to gather evidence in order to have a better idea, and our job on the committee is to advise PEPFAR how best to proceed in gathering and analyzing this new information."
  • Obama thinks US intelligence agencies should have done more to predict recent events in Tunisia and Egypt. Maybe Obama should read some more Timur Kuran (PDF)?
  • What other dictators does the US support?
  • Stephen Colbert calls vaccines a waste of money because his kids didn't get sick.
  • Andrew Sullivan shares this video of a college student in Iowa talking about how he's not that different from anyone else, even though he has two moms. Powerful: