Non-citizens voting? Wonderful straightforward analysis from Ansolabehere, Luks, and Schaffner

Stepping back from the immediate question of whether the CCES in fact shows a low rate of voting among non-citizens, our analysis carries a much broader lesson and caution about the analysis of big databases to study low frequency characteristics and behaviors. Very low levels of measurement error are easily tolerated in samples of 1,000 to 2,000 persons. But in very large sample surveys, classification errors in a high-frequency category can readily contaminate a low-frequency category, such as non-citizens. As a result, researchers may draw incorrect inferences concerning the behavior of relatively rare individuals in a population when there is even a very low level of misclassification.

Source: The Perils of Cherry Picking Low Frequency Events in Large Sample Surveys | CCES

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Le Burkina post-transition from Africa Research Institute

Good short analysis of the political and economic situation in Burkina Faso.  I disagree with the last point made though, that economic policy success depends on “finding the resources.”  I think that an engaged president could do much more to jump-start the Burkinabè economic scene than hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, grants and loans could.  It is very clear that much foreign assistance has very low efficacy.  The Millennium Challenge Corporation granted maybe $50-$100 million to Burkina Faso government to spend on land reform and titling efforts; my hunch from the lack of evidence is that five years from now there will be little detectable effects from that program.

A president who was willing to take the time to learn about policy effectiveness, who then “willed” that effectiveness into being through 100% personal engagement (instead of flying around the world 180 days of the year to summits and meetings with dictators who have done nothing for their countries), and who crafted institutions and rhetoric (like transparency and genuine participation and communication) that would outlast a presidential term… such a president could do a lot.  I think that is possible and hope more voices help make it happen.

A l’issue de l’insurrection, ces mouvements, malgré leur grande diversité, se sont coalisés autour d’une plateforme commune et désigné le Pr Luc Marius Ibriga, du Front de résistance citoyenne (FRC) comme porte-parole. Après l’avènement du nouveau pouvoir, la tendance à la dynamique unitaire au sein de la coalition des insurgés semble s’effriter progressivement. Le nouveau parti au pouvoir a engagé une campagne de dénigrement des acteurs de la transition. L’objectif est d’affaiblir la société civile et les anciens leaders de la transition afin de briser tout contrepoids au MPP. Cette campagne a ciblé non seulement l’ancien premier ministre Yacouba Isaak Zida, soupçonné d’avoir des ambitions politiques, mais aussi des leaders de la société civile tels qu’Hervé Ouattara, Maître Guy Hervé Kam et Marcel Tankoano.

Après une année de présidence, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré a préservé la stabilité du Burkina Faso. Il a ouvert de nombreux chantiers de réformes inspirées de son programme politique. L’enclenchement de la réforme constitutionnelle en vue du passage à une nouvelle République reste au plan politique le principal chantier inauguré. Si la vie politique est relativement stable, la fracture politique née de l’insurrection demeure béante. L’opposition et la société civile, bien que dynamiques, restent traversées par des divergences internes qui affaiblissent leur capacité d’influence.

Au plan économique, c’est l’adoption d’un nouveau référentiel de développement, le Plan de développement économique et social, qui a caractérisé cette première année du quinquennat. Le défi majeur à ce niveau reste la mobilisation des ressources pour financer ce programme qui est censé sortir le pays de la précarité économique

Source: Le Burkina post-transition: quel bilan pour la première année du gouvernement Kaboré ? – Africa Research Institute

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How did I come to read about Argalus and Parthenia?

Because I am reading Baroque Times in Old Mexico, and Argalus and Parthenia is one of those poems that people read back in the 1600s!  And I wondered what it was about.  And then I learn that Francis Quarles is an ancestor of Langston Hughes.  My mind spins. And I get to read bloggers like parthenissa:

When I was thinking about English neoplatonism I kept returning to Francis Quarles’s Argalus and Parthenia (1629). It’s a narrative poem based very closely on a story from Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia. In it, Parthenia is pursued by Demagoras but he is thwarted by the fact that she and Argalus are in love. Incensed, Demagoras smears her face with poison and disfigures her. Parthenia, wanting to release Argalus from his romantic obligation to her, flees. Here the heroine’s disfigurement is involuntary, but like Thamire with Celidée, Argalus proves his constancy to Parthenia. It’s a happy ending (until Argalus has to fight at the castle of Amphialus, but I digress…). I quite like what Quarles did to Sidney’s story – he added a fantastically villainous mother who schemes with Demagoras to poison Argalus, and a maid, Athleia, who is initially in on the plot, but who ends up taking the poison herself out of remorse. It was an publishing sensation; the first publication of the poem appeared in 1629 and there were 16 editions between then and 1692 – and even a stage version in 1639 by William Glapthorne (it looks like the 1661 production of the play used a William Lawes song but I haven’t tracked that down yet). I do think, though, what made it so popular in the Caroline era was this neoplatonic version of perfect love that disdained the shell of the body.

Source: Argalus and Parthenia | Parthenissa

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Worrisome perspective on security situation in Mali

The overall objective sought by the terrorists is to provoke the withdrawal of the operation Barkhane troupes. Indeed, for the main cities of northern Mali, these troupes constitute the only credible protection. The end of Barkhane would cause a collapse of the security architecture in the Sahel. That would, de facto, allow terrorists to reach their 2013 target which is capturing Mali southern regions including Bamako… The Malian authorities, having failed to adopt a coherent defense and security policy, have placed the country in an uncomfortable situation. At this stage, the end of Operation Barkhane is not desirable but, today, no one can predict its continuation in case of an alternation to power in France. By then, one can only hope that no heavy loss will occur, within the French forces. Indeed that could spell disaster for Mali security.

HT: Penelope Hartnell.  Source: Sahel could Bamako fall to the terrorists?

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Arrival, Three Body Problem and Dark Forest

The refuge from a depressing present (Roch Marc Christian Kaboré since winning the election last year has done almost nothing, and Burkina Faso’s prospects for a vibrant economy and polity seem to fade with each passing week ) is in science fiction.  Early November I was mesmerized by Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem and The Dark Forest.  At one level they are both fairly conventional Vernor Vinge-style big space opera novels (the two are part of a trilogy).  At another level the two novels wallow in an enduring theme of human art, the loneliness of being human.  The Dark Forest in particular ends with its spectacular image, as the crews of the ship start to appreciate their (and our) condition.

Arrival, like Solaris, Silent Running, 2001: A Space Odyssey likewise tightly focuses on emotion.  You could be crying through the whole film if you had already read Ted Chaing’s novella and knew of essence of the story.  Director Denis Villeneuve relentlessly pushes back against science fiction conventions: It feels like 30 percent of the running time is devoted to the shots of Amy Adams and her daughter.  Music, too, is incredibly important for the movie, which is all about that mood of loneliness.  Not only are the aliens other humans, but even our selves are alien to us.

Posted in Burkina Faso

Learn rhumba guitar and lingala at the same time!

Posted in Burkina Faso, Music - African

Ricci Shryock with daily glimpses of life, and death, in West Africa


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