This raises the question of why it’s always “grade inflation” we hear about and never “grade growth” or “educational productivity improvement”. A while ago I responded to this Chris Cook piece about The One Where They Decided To Downgrade Everyone To Match Their Class Except For Subjects Only Rich Kids Do – remember that? it’s…

Read More looking back on an omnishambles

This long read looking back at the 1978 smallpox outbreak in Birmingham is a remarkable document of mundane competence. Although the origin of the outbreak was a laboratory cock-up, the local authority swung into action, mobilizing local, national, and international resources, tracing contacts, isolating patients, and ring-vaccinating the bug out of existence. This is Dr.…

Read More Public incompetence is a moral issue

A deep dive in what the Tigray vs Ethopian central government fight is about. People in the DRC President’s entourage keep dying unexpectedly. Some of them caught COVID-19 but at least one was definitely assassinated and another had both a heart attack and multiple blows to the head. What’s happening? A group of Kenyans wanted…

Read More Four links from a consistently strong blog

When I was despairing about the very possibility of accountability and coming up with this post, I was thinking of things like this piece from Josephine Cumbo in this weekend’s Financial Times: Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request showed that since 2018 the Financial Conduct Authority has opened formal investigations into 29 firms…

Read More Rotten

Another drive-by media studies thing. Efforts to regulate the media tend to focus on ownership (telco regulation people would say structural remedies) – should you be allowed to own a newspaper and a TV station? What about two TV stations? Can you vertically-integrate content production and distribution? Alternatively, they sometimes try functional things, like requiring…

Read More Andrew Neil should be broken up by the competition commission

Around the end of August I was despairing of political accountability on the grounds that the effectiveness of what is generally called spin, the practice of tactical political publicity, seemed to have improved significantly since about 2005. What really worried me about it is that if it’s a technology, it can be improved, and as…

Read More Cataloguing spin

So it looks like I’m not the only one thinking about Johnson and acracy: Johnson’s explanation for all these things is that he suffers from the classical vice of akrasia. He knows what the right thing to do is but acts against his better judgement through lack of self-control. He is, in Aristotle’s words, like…

Read More Acracy followup

Even more virus blogging. So, the SAGE 58 meeting on the 21st September supported going back into lockdown. Among much else it said this: An effective test, trace and isolate (TTI) system is important to reduce the incidence of infections in the community. Estimates of the effectiveness of this system on R are difficult to…

Read More Kibitzing SAGE