Two Strikingly Different Columns from Jay Newton-Small of TIme
Green Shoots

Economic History vs. Economic Development

On the one hand, asthma from book dust and mold, vitamin D deficiency from days in the library basement, and trauma from missing volumes of the Commercial and Financial Chronicle. On the other hand... well, here's Chris Blattman reporting from somewhere outside Monrovia:

Chris Blattman's Blog: Random field work thoughts:

  • I seem to spend 98% of my time opening business bank accounts, drafting vehicle policies, getting our dirt bikes fixed, staffing an office, and figuring out how to get stranded enumerators over collapsed bridges back home. Surely this is nor my comparative advantage. All those readers planning to become field economists: beware the admin overload. Consider formal theory as a profession.
  • Note to self: amend vehicle policy to include "No animal carcasses to be transported in the vehicle, no matter how much profit they will fetch in the Monrovia market."
  • My Liberian English is improving. High end Toyota Land Cruisers (like the one lent to us by UNHCR, which will no longer transport our enumerators' smoked baboon carcasses) are known as "Golden Summers" round these parts. As in "You take the hard top, I'll take the Golden Summer". For a while I found this puzzling. After some sleuthing, it turns out that the first upscale cruiser arrived in the country for the UN's special representative, Mr. Trevor Gordon-Somers. That was 15 years ago. I would love to be a linguist in this country.
  • Our jungle trip hits a snag midway.... On a (further) down note, one of our mechanics appears to be twelve. On the up side, he is at least wearing safety goggles.
  • Spending my World Bank grant a little too conscientiously: I am sleeping in a room that resembles a concrete bunker in a rural rubber plantation, sandwiched by a generator and a disco, using an insect bednet as a bedspread. This is the finer establishment in the area. At least the fish is fresh and the Guinness is cold...

Guinness? Whatever happened to sweet potato moonshine? It cannot be efficient to move Irish rotten barley porridge to the equator...