This Week

There Is No Simple Answer

Every Friday we take a look back at the week’s headlines, centering on a theme we’ve singled out as particularly important. From the difficulties of dealing pot or having too much to read and learn, to being the biggest working comic without being famous, it’s never as easy as you think, and there’s rarely a simple answer to fix things. The headlines this week continued to remind us to shed conventional wisdom in favor of understanding the complexity of an issue.

Two takes on recent pan-African development:

There is no magic recipe for turning countries around, Mr. Severino writes, only good cooks. He believes that 20 years after democracy was prescribed to Africa by the West, there are the beginnings of local democratic activities all over the continent that are forcing governments to deliver.

Demarcate and associate: How to cope with having too much to read:

Academic norms require that scholars “engage the literature,” but the potentially relevant literature is enormous, especially for those who aspire to some kind of interdisciplinary approach.

One in two new college graduates in the U.S. are jobless or underemployed:

Young adults with bachelor’s degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs—waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example—and that’s confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.

Econ lessons from a pot dealer:

You have to consider that in the region I’m operating in, the market’s kind of flooded.

Brief investigation into why Kevin Hart, the biggest comic working, isn’t famous:

Though he openly aims to achieve the rock star status Eddie Murphy attained in his early 20s, stand-up as Hart practices it is a middle-aged art, one crafted over time and shaped by experience.

Weak economy, deportation threat reverses trend of Mexican immigration to the U.S. for the first time in four decades:

The new statistics take the wind out of the sails of those who have targeted illegal Mexican immigrants for taking jobs away from unemployed Americans—the Pew study suggests that the flow of immigrants has decreased largely because under the economic downturn incoming Mexican immigrants can no longer find work.

Recent actions by former Haitian soldiers show why Haiti’s better off without a standing army:

Given that military coups have traditionally been more of a threat to Haiti’s security than foreign invasion, a number of critics questioned whether a new army was really a good use of Haiti’s scarce resources

Running with headphones makes you faster:

Music is a legal drug for athletes.

To a psychologist, lots of our rituals look like the useless actions of rats:

To a psychologist, lots of human rituals look a lot like the automatic behaviours developed by Skinner’s pigeons or Dickinson’s rats. Chunks of behaviour that do not truly have an effect on the world, but which get stuck in our repertoire of actions.

Round-up of the deceptively simplistic paintings that wowed the Whitney Biennial this year.

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