Monday Miscellany

I do most of my blog writing on weekends, scheduling posts ahead of time. Last week was midterms, and last weekend I was in DC visiting friends and studying, thus I got little writing done. I'm glad to be back this week, and will kick things off with a roundup of recent fascinatingness:

  • There's a measles outbreak in the US. Interesting fact: we know that measles transmission has been stopped within the US because every time there's an outbreak, investigators are able to sequence the virus and eventually match it to the region from which it was imported. See the CDC's MMWR on the subject for more.
  • Amanda Glassman of the Center for Global Development comments on proposed new rules for kidney transplant prioritization in the US -- a percentage of donated kidneys would be reserved for the youngest, healthiest transplant recipients. Glassman recently hosted an event at CGD on rationing that I was able to attend. Speakers included Andrew Dillon of the UK's NICE and Sheri Fink, who recently reported this excellent series at PRI on various approaches to health care rationing around the world. Fink's one book, War Hospital, is a compelling look at the struggles of doctors in the embattled Srebrenica enclave (pre-massacre) during the Bosnian War.
  • Risks of rare events are hard to conceptualize. Enter the micromort, a one-in-a-million probability of death.
  • The website for Poor Economics, a forthcoming book by Banerjee and Duflo, is pretty awesome. The overview section makes it sound like they overemphasize interesting findings about behavioral priorities and downplay structural reasons (lousy governments, poor trade policies, etc) but maybe that's now born out in the text. I'm looking forward to reading this as well as Karlan and Appel's forthcoming More Than Good Intentions.
  • Edward Carr recently finished live-blogging Dambisa Moyo's Dead Aid--it's a scathing review worth reading if you haven't read the book but run into fans. I'll admit that I didn't get through it -- I got frustrated early on with the imprecise definitions of terms and poor logic. I hope to finish at some point, but for now it's pretty low on my list of priorities. This review of Moyo's new book, How the West Was Lost is pretty damning: "[Dead Aid]’s runaway success baffled many with prior knowledge of the issues, even those broadly sympathetic to its sceptical tone, consisting as it did of a tendentious one-sided account of tired and inconclusive old academic literature about aid effectiveness. How the West was Lost contrives to lower these standards yet further."
  • "Marauding Gay Hordes Drag Thousands Of Helpless Citizens From Marriages After Obama Drops Defense Of Marriage Act" (story)
  • John Shea argues in American Scientist, more or less, that the caveman from GEICO commercials is more accurate than the current anthropological view (sort of).