Reading Around the Internet: November 3, 2014

It’s the first week of November, and an even year… Know what that means? There’s an election in the US. I’m not going to bug you much with elections here, with the exception of an interesting judicial one…  And while I do think everyone should go vote, this year I find myself in the compromised position of having forgotten to register in Missouri… So…  I humbly suggest you exercise your right to vote, even though I can’t…

New Farmers

Orion Magazine published a great discussion and description of some of the younger people taking up farming, including a discussion of some of their practices. Interestingly, not all of them plan on staying on the land forever. The work is very hard, and has its rewards as well as its challenges.

MRGO

What is the MRGO? It’s the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. Authorized in the 1956, it was built and is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers in Louisiana as an emergency outlet to the Gulf for the Mississippi River. More recently, it’s been the source of heated discussion concerning its role in the flooding during Katrina and other hurricanes, and the damage it caused to the coastal areas. The latter matters given that such damage makes it difficult for the wetlands in the area to protect inland areas during severe storms. Louisiana’s Coastal Restoration and Protection authority has filed a federal lawsuit against the Corps, seeking monetary damages to pay for the restoration of the Gulf Coast which, they say, has been damaged by the MRGO. WLTV provides a great summary of the case.

Elections

Here in Missouri, we elect our circuit judges (these are what other states refer to as district judges — for the judicial scholar, the courts of first instance). Typically, incumbents have a huge advantage in judicial elections, but the one in Cole County, Missouri turned a corner when the challenger received outside help in funding of this campaign. Here’s a link to NPR’s coverage of the story.

Field Research/Social Science Issues

Speaking of judicial elections, there’s been quite a stir in the political science world concerning a field experiment done my three political scientists in a Montana judicial election. Several outlets covered the story, including Talking Points Memo, and there’s been lot of other press. I have a lot of questions about the specifics, but am more interested in the larger issues for social science researchers, particularly those of us who study political processes. So, I’d like to direct readers to an interesting post at the Monkey Cage about this issue. For the non-social scientists, the Monkey Cage is an excellent blog, now hosted by the Washington Post, where you learn a lot about social science and current research findings from a broad variety of perspectives. This issue strikes me as particularly interesting and difficult. As a field researcher, I face ethical dilemmas all the time. When I teach qualitative and interpretive methods, much of our time is spent exploring various ethical dilemmas in order to help my students think about them above and beyond the Internal Review Board requirements of the institutions I have worked. I found Macartan Humphreys thoughts particularly thoughtful and think this is a very important contribution to our internal debate, as well as a great piece for helping non-political scientists understand why we’re discussing this issue.

Reading Around the Internet: October 20, 2014

Last week was fall break at Southeast Missouri State. I had a lovely, relaxing long weekend but went back to work today… Here’s some reading I was doing over the weekend to catch up on happenings in the world of disasters, property and politics:

Ebola

So a couple of things about Ebola: first, unless you come into contact with bodily fluids when that person is symptomatic, you’re not going to “catch” Ebola…   And, stories and images about the disease that spread false information — and even ones that don’t — can make a crisis situation worse. See Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne’s great piece on this in the Washington Post. In fact, keep an eye out for Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne’s coverage on this. They are very knowledgeable about African politics in general, and have been doing a great job analyzing this situation. And the disease is certainly being politicized, making it important to pay attention not just to how the disease spreads but what politicians are doing with it (especially as we get closer to the election here n the US).

Here’s the thing, though — there are real people suffering a true calamity, and help can be had. To learn more about Ebola and see past the terrifying voices that are out in the world scaring us, to see the reality of the disease and understand better the situation as it plays out in everyday life, take a look at Ebola Diaries. It will wrench your heart, but you will have a better understanding of this disease and the challenges it poses.

Hurricanes

In the Pacific, Hawai’i is being hit again with heavy rain and high surf thanks to Hurricane Ana. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic Hurricane Gonzalo made its way to Bermuda. Though hurricane season has been a fairly slow and low intensity this year so far (with Hawai’i seeing more than it usually does of this activity), we should expect more storms. For the rest of us, forecasters say that we should expect an unusually wet winter this year.

Colorado Flood Recovery

A couple of weeks ago, Governor Hickenlooper issued a flood recovery report in Colorado. Here’s a summary, and here’s a link to the website where you can review the report itself.

Disaster Mitigation: Floodplains

My emergency management students have been learning about mitigation the last couple of weeks. It occurs to me that there are readers out there who may want to know more about FEMA’s floodplain (in particular) mitigation program since there’s been a lot of discussion of mitigation in coastal and river/lakefront areas. Here’s a link to their website.  You may find this page interesting and worth looking around. It can provide you with a broader sense of the goals and aspirations of the National Prevention Framework, which I think deserves more attention than it’s gotten — and will get some attention here sometime during the winter.