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.


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.


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.