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Out of the Crisis

We are living in a world in crisis. But it’s not too late to save it–and ourselves. It would be difficult to summarize with any accuracy the problems we currently face, as a species. Even just narrowing down to a specific culture or country, the complexities are too numerous to faithfully generalize. But there are definitely trends we can examine, and those trends tell us a lot about where we may be headed if we don’t change course.

The Future of Infosec

With the spread of Internet connectivity to everything from smartphones to refrigerators and toaster ovens, the security implications are out of this world. Let’s be honest: hardly anyone thinks about Internet security, and it’s a tale as old as technology. We want things that are convenient, easy to use, and don’t stand in the way of us doing what we want. When I pull out my phone, I don’t want to type a password every time I go to access my email.

The Normalization of Deviance

Why do companies, institutions, or even whole societies not do what is best or most optimal for themselves? Why is it so hard to change? I recently came across an interesting piece by software engineer and blogger Dan Luu, in which he discusses the “normalization of deviance.” The phrase itself seems like a contradiction in terms: if something has been normalized, it’s no longer deviant, is it? What’s really being described is deviation from the optimum–the best or most efficient course of action.

Trump in Trouble

The Donald Trump campaign is in deep trouble. Is the election over, almost a month before Election Day? Trump’s recent slide in the polls seemed to begin around the first debate. His performance in that debate was abysmal: his answers were rambling nonsense, he interrupted Hillary Clinton constantly. In the aftermath of that performance, he sought to aggrandize himself by claiming he could have done worse–he could have alluded to Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs and sexual assault accusations.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Part 6

Here, I continue from last week’s series on the World Bank’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity report. This time, we get to the part of the World Bank report I’ve been looking forward to the most: policy discussion! Chapter 6 is entitled Reductions in Inequality: A Policy Perspective. Here, we will find out which policies–at least according to the World Bank–are the most effective in reducing extreme poverty and inequality. I am inclined to take them with a grain of salt given that the World Bank is out to promote neoliberalism and encourages countries to liberalize and privatize their economies, often without regard to the consequences.

Technical Difficulties

Had a bit of trouble this week, although with any luck you didn’t even notice. It all began when WordPress told me my social media plugins–you know, the ones I use to update Facebook–had updates available. You’d think at this point I would know better than to just update things, given how often it results in breakage. But I was not prepared for just how bad this one would be. I clicked the button to trigger the updates, and… my blog went down.

Link Roundup: October 8, 2016

I’ve got so many links I have no choice but to start throwing them out there. Science * [No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously]( -- What this means in practice is that, at this rate, the Earth will be uninhabitable for humans in a century or two. Social Justice * [The sexist response to a science book prize]( -- The circular logic of sexists is truly amazing.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Part 5

It’s day 5 of my series on the World Bank’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity report. Let’s dig in. Chapter 5 of the report brings us to Reductions in Inequality: A Country Perspective. This chapter studies five countries, so chosen because of success in fighting extreme poverty and inequality and also because they have disparate characteristics that mean their successes are not all attributable to a handful of common factors. Those countries are Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Peru, and Tanzania.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Part 4

Just picking up where I left off yesterday. This week, I’m posting highlights from and commentary about the World Bank’s inaugural Poverty and Shared Prosperity report. Now, I am on Chapter 4: Inequality! Four basic facts about global inequality are produced up front: 1. Global inequality increased from the Industrial Revolution through the 1980s. 2. Global inequality has been falling since the 1990s, and especially rapidly since 2008. 3. In spite of the recent reduction, global inequality is wider today than in the 1820s.

Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Part 3

Time to get back to the World Bank’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity report. This time we’re on Chapter 2 of the report: Global Poverty. Global extreme poverty has been declining at an average overall rate of 1.1% a year. Both the share of those in extreme poverty and the total headcounts of those in poverty have been rapidly decreasing since 1990. Digging into the finer details, the “poverty gap” is examined.