To Uber or not to Uber? That is Your Question

OK, I’m probably going to regret this but… should I use Uber taxis? I got into a big argument about this in Canada last week, not that there was a uniform position – Ellie the Oxfam Canada campaigner sees Uber as the spawn of the devil, while Ifthia the fund raiser has an Uber-driver Dad. When I randomly asked a class of students, I got …

To Uber or not to Uber? That is Your Question

OK, I’m probably going to regret this but… should I use Uber taxis? I got into a big argument about this in Canada last week, not that there was a uniform position – Ellie the Oxfam Canada campaigner sees Uber as the spawn of the devil, while Ifthia the fund raiser has an Uber-driver Dad. When I randomly asked a class of students, I got …

What’s so bad with Business as Usual on Livelihoods? Impressions from Eastern Congo

Our country director in DRC, Jose Barahona (right), sent round some interesting impressions from a recent visit to the Eastern Congo. South Kivu in Eastern Congo is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa and I am convinced that one day this area will be one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The day DRC is calm and stable, the millions of tourists fed up …

What’s so bad with Business as Usual on Livelihoods? Impressions from Eastern Congo

Our country director in DRC, Jose Barahona (right), sent round some interesting impressions from a recent visit to the Eastern Congo. South Kivu in Eastern Congo is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa and I am convinced that one day this area will be one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The day DRC is calm and stable, the millions of tourists fed up …

The Great Leveller: A conversation with Walter Scheidel on Inequality and Apocalypse

When I visited Stanford recently at the invitation of Francis Fukuyama, I also dropped in on Walter Scheidel, an Austrian historian who has taken time off from his main interest (the Romans) to write a powerful, and pretty depressing, book on inequality. Like Fukuyama, Scheidel is a big brain who favours the grand narrative – his book is called ‘The Great Leveller: Violence and the …

Links I Liked

Huge thanks to everyone at Oxfam Canada, its Executive Director Julie Delahanty and the splendid Shirley Pryce (here’s the three of us) for making last week’s tour such fun, even though they made me dance onto the stage to Bob Marley’s ‘Stand up for your Rights’, get up at 4am in minus 20 degrees and wear OTT shirts. Burundi ordered all unwed couples to marry by …

Sociology v Economics: handy translation guide

Some more academic humour to add to the recent ‘what researchers say v what they mean‘ post, (gets better as you go down the table) via Chris Blattman. From a 1990 ‘Economics to Sociology Phrasebook‘ by two baffled economics students. It shows its age, but wears well, which is as much as any of us can aspire to.

Is Recognition the missing piece of politics? A conversation with Francis Fukuyama

Getting Francis Fukuyama to endorse How Change Happens was one of the high points of publication – he’s been a hero of mine ever since I read (and reviewed) his magisterial history of the state (right). Last week I finally got to meet him, when I took up an invitation to speak to students and faculty at his Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of …

Should the Gates Foundation Do Data Differently?

Spent a fascinating day last week talking to staff at the Gates Foundation at its HQ in a cold, grey and sleety Seattle (felt quite at home). I presented the book in one of those ‘brownbag lunches’ that Americans love (although these days ‘clear plastic box lunches’ would be more accurate), and we then got on to discussing the implications for aid agencies in general …

What kind of evidence might persuade people to change their minds on refugees?

Oxfam Humanitarian Policy Adviser Ed Cairns reflects on using evidence to influence the treatment of refugees Who thinks that governments decide what to do on refugees after carefully considering the evidence? Not many, I suspect. So it was an interesting to be asked to talk about that at the  ‘Evidence for Influencing’ conference Duncan wrote about last week. When I think what influences refugee policy, …