Vikash Yadav

Svalbard Blogging

Svalbard
Why, yes that is the Indian Foreign Minister, Salman Khurshid, and Norway’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Political Scientist, Espen Barthe Eide, in Svalbard.

Are they trying to tell Duck fans something? [Discuss] Continue reading

Monday Morning Linkage

cute-duckGood mornin’ ducks…  Here’s some linkage you might want to read (on stuff other than the NSA)…

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Monday Linkage

Duck DroneGood morning Ducks.  Hope your summer is off to a good start.  Here are some links to start off your week…

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Memorial Day Linkage

Army Ducks

Good mornin’ ducks.  Happy Memorial Day.

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Monday Morning Linkage

Rubber_ducksGood mornin’.  Here’s your linkage…

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Monday Morning Linkage

Sitting DucksHere’s you linkage (…in case you’re still trying to avoid grading…)

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Monday Morning Linkage

464027_10151634311352594_656059888_oGood morning ducks!  Here’s your update from District 12…

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Monday Morning Linkage

The_Evil_Rubber_DuckyGood morning Duckaroos, here’s some stuff I think is actually worth reading…

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Monday Morning Linkage

The_10_Greatest_Slacker_Duos_On_Film_08Good morning…  These aren’t the linkages you’re looking for…

  • Owen Jones reviews the hierarchy of death in the wake of the Boston bombing or what Judith Butler, in Frames of War, might call (un)grievable lives.
  • Deepak Sarma at Racialicious writes about “Being Brown After the Boston Bomb Blast.” (Hey the dudes who did it turned out to be white.  Brown and black people can chill now right? right?? Those false early reports about “dark skinned” suspects were just an honest mistake… Yeah, let’s move on…)
  • Tom Scocca at the Gawker asks, “Is the New York Post Edited by a Bigoted Drunk who Fucks Pigs?”  (I dunno… but while we’re talking about racism in America…)
  • Why does the one with the most melanin always seem to die first in American horror flicks?  And if that’s the case, why are these movies apparently popular with minority audiences?  Joshua Alston at the Feminist Wire explains why the American horror genre typified by Evil Dead is a race-reversed minstrel show.
  • Speaking of minstrel shows, has the desi coolie evolved into the nebbish and accentless “American” who fills the minority quota on ‘Merican tee-vee? Is “the most successful minority in US history” the beneficiary of pervasive anti-black racism?  Have DuBois’ fears of Indians’ allegiances come true? And is this new found “acceptance” being translated into refashioning US foreign policy?  In other words is IACPA becoming the new AIPAC? (Not quite…)
  • Spencer Kornhaber trashes Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi flick, Oblivionfor failing to ask any serious moral or ethical questions, particularly about weaponized drone warfare.  (By the way, when did the Pakistani tribal belt become our vision of the future?)
  • Nobel Prize winner, Muhammed Yunnus, asks why there isn’t social fiction to imagine a ways to end poverty.  (Isn’t that what micro-credit was?)
  • Anil Kapoor will be the new Jack Bauer in the Indian version of 24.  (Maybe instead of chasing terrorists they could chase a more immediate threat to human security in India: gang and child rapists?)

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Monday Morning Linkage

Duck_copGood morning ducks!  Here are your links…

  • Even more well off people will be able to exempt themselves from TSA’s airport security theater thanks to Visa credit cards.  Well, it’s not like potential hijackers could afford the annual fee or first-class tickets anyway.  Oh wait
  • Do you enjoy being frisked, finger printed, and rapiscanned at airports? Then you’ll be delighted to know that Homeland Security will be expanding its use of biometrics to US immigration offices.  Already a citizen? Great! Because the FBI is planning to amass data on US citizens gathered by law enforcement authorities.  The NYPD has already been collecting biometric data since 2010. No, there’s nothing to worry about, because everyone knows how professional and totally unracist the NYPD is about conducting surveillance.
  • America’s stalwart ally, Israel, would like to retain its right to discriminate against certain categories of Americans entering the holy land in exchange for the US granting Israelis visa-free access to the US.  Israel regularly discriminates against Americans who happen to be Muslim or Arab, as well as Americans who happen to be critical of Israel or supportive of Palestinian rights.  Who will be the first American politician to sell out their fellow American citizens?  (Right answer… It’s a tie!: Barbara Boxer and Roy Blunt)
  • Ahh, the Muslim Question in America. So vexing… So not about Muslims at all.
  • Arrianna Marie Conerly Coleman asks: “Is the settler colony a space of exception?”
  • The hunger strike at Guantanamo continues. Guards are now placing strikers in solitary confinement and force feeding – echoes of Maze Prison and other hell holes.  Force feeding is, of course, a form of torture.  And self-inflicted hunger is the weapon of the weakest of the weak.
  • Finally, as long as we are talking security and biopolitics…  No, your cellphone is not likely to interfere with a plane’s navigation system; the rule is just another disciplinary exercise.  Unless of course, your intention is to use this Android app to interfere with the airplane’s navigation systemContinue reading

Monday Morning Linkage

Kim Jong SnickersGood Mornin’ Ducks!  Here are some links on the crise du jour

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The worst questions to be asked at a conference

The following is a guest post by Peter Henne.

Once again, the International Studies Association annual meeting is upon us, followed by the Midwest Political Science Association conference. It’s a good bet that most readers of the Duck will be attending one or both of these, or other upcoming meetings.

One of the best parts of academic conferences is the Q-and-A portion of panels, when scholars get to respond to critiques and comments on their cutting-edge research.

Of course, as anyone who has been to a conference knows, not all questions are useful. So I’ve decided to do my part and present examples of the worst questions to be asked at a conference, with my thoughts on how to respond to and deal with them.

1. Why didn’t you bring up this tangential detail in your 10 minute presentation?

You’ve just presented a case study of increasing restrictions on religious practice over time in Pakistan. The first question you get is, “But, everyone says Jinnah wanted a secular state. He really just wanted authority over something.” Never mind that you didn’t say anything about the intentions of the founder of Pakistan, and even if you had the questioner’s detail wouldn’t really affect what you said.

We’ve all experienced variations of “I know this piece of information, and you didn’t raise it, so I will criticize you for that.” It’s impossible to respond to, or least respond in a polite manner. I try to respond by mumbling something about scope conditions.

2. Any gotcha methodological question

“How did you cluster your standard errors?” “Why didn’t you exclude that country?” “Shouldn’t you have used [FANCY NEW ESTIMATOR]?”

These questions are the worst because they are one of two things. They’re just wrong, and the questioner doesn’t get your research design. Or they’re minor details you didn’t have time to bring up. The response is a shrug on your part and smug smirk on the part of the questioner (in case of the latter) or a polite correction of the question if the case of the former.

Of course, it’s possible this might come from a methodologist, in which case you acknowledge their superior wisdom and thank them for their kindness.

3. How can you compare X to Z? They’re so unique!

Upon completion of a presentation comparing civil-military relations in Turkey and France, someone asks how you can look at the two countries, since there are so many differences between them.

This is annoying as it kind of misses the point of comparison, which requires some difference between cases. And it overlooks the general consensus in the social sciences that comparison is pretty useful, even if the comparison is only intended to highlight different pathways towards an outcome.

And you’re left with a choice between two bad responses. You can sigh with displeasure that the discipline requires you to compare, when all you want to do is dwell on the wonders of a single country. Or you can pull out your copy of Przeworski and Teune, slam it onto the podium, and march out of the room.

4. But how would this apply to COUNTRY?

“That is an interesting study of conflict resolution in South America, but how does it apply to the Israel-Palestine dispute?”

This one can be asked in good humor, a way for someone who knows nothing about your topic to participate. More often, though, it’s meant as a critique; “if your findings don’t apply to this country I wrote my MA thesis on, then they aren’t valid.”

Now, external validity is important. But unless you claim your findings are true everywhere and all the time, this question is not very helpful. I wish I could just say “my paper doesn’t look at Israel-Palestine” and move on, but I’m usually compelled to tell them how interesting the case is and I’ll definitely look at it in my next project.

5. [scoffs] How do you define X?

This is usually delivered with a smirk and crossed arms, and is directed towards a key concept of the paper, either the explanation or the outcome.

Yes, definitions are important, and yes, bad definitions can lead to flawed research. But really, you can assume the person has thought through their concepts, even if they don’t sufficiently spell it out in the paper. Even if they didn’t, debating definitions is guaranteed to lead nowhere and irritate the other panelists or audience members who had questions beyond “how do you define nationalism?”

Admit it, what you really meant was: “I know you didn’t define X the way I would, and I don’t like it.”

Peter Henne is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Government at Georgetown University.

Monday Morning Linkage

Rubber_ducksGood Morning Duckies… Happy April Fool’s Day. Here are some stories which we didn’t make up just for this day…:

And also: Continue reading

Monday Morning Linkage

Peeps Contemplate AfricaGood morning, Duckaroos!  Here’s your Monday linkage from…

“Dixie”:

  • The South will rise again – according to the UN.  No, not that South, the Global South.  For the first time in two centuries, Brazil, India, and China’s combined GDP is nearly equivalent to the combined GDP of the leading powers of North America and Europe.  What lessons can the US learn?
  • Himadeep Muppidi’s “Reflections on Narrative Voice” in IR is a smart, “must read” article over at the Disorder of Things blog.  He writes,

    “After soaking oneself in the nuance and complexity of narratives, conventional accounts of IR appear lifeless and boringly schematic in their attempts to straddle (our) humanity. They perish, unseen and unmourned, on the classroom floor….  In the wasteland that is conventional IR, stories of any sort might appear, at first glance, to offer a welcome respite. But there is also, as some of our fellow disciplines can attest to, a politics of story telling: whose stories do we get to hear all the time; whose stories are generally inaudible; how do stories make us over; whose mansions do stories furnish with humanity in every remote room and whose huts do they deprive of life and dignity. Perhaps we need to explore these inequities of the political terrain more even as we take the narrative turn seriously.”

  • Speaking of great narratives, the Africa is a Country blog reflects upon the life and magna opera of the great Chinualumogu Albert Achebe. RIP.

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Monday Morning Linkage

sitting ducksGood mornin’ duck fans! Let’s start the week by revisiting last week’s firestorm in …

Afghanistan

  • Hamid Karzai has become a bewildering enigma for many Americans as he launched yet another verbal tirade against the US last week.  This time he recklessly accused the US of colluding with the Taliban.  The NY Times speculates that Karzai is keen to shape his legacy given the ultimate fate of Mohammed Najibullah and many other Afghan leaders who came before him.  This is certainly plausible, but hardly the whole story.  Unfortunately, the article also condescendingly implies that the Afghan head of state simply “does not understand” that his government is totally dependent on international funding.  Karzai understands; everyone in Afghanistan knows who is paying the bills.
  • President Karzai’s accusation that the Americans are currently colluding with the Taliban is extremely implausible and completely unsubstantiated.  However, me thinks some Americans doth protest too much.  Beneath all of the American outrage and bluster, it is important to remember that the US engaged and supported the Taliban regime after they took Kabul in 1996.  Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush sought to work with the Taliban.  Bush even invited the Taliban to his Texas ranch in 1997.  The US was perfectly aware of the Taliban’s treatment of women and their general abuse of human rights from early 1996.  Moreover, in recent years the US has negotiated with representatives of “the” Taliban (as if the Taliban were still just one organization) without involving Karzai – although there is no evidence that the US is currently negotiating with Taliban members as Karzai claims.

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Monday Morning Linkage in Space

Duck-o-NautGood mornin’ Duck-o-nauts!  Let’s start the week in …

Space (i.e. Asia’s Playground)

  • India is goin’ to (orbit) Mars with a launch set for November 2013, only a few years after India landed an unmanned probe on the moon and detected water on the lunar surface. (The US is also sending an atmospheric orbiter to Mars this year.)  India is not exactly new to space; it has had 101 successful space missions but mainly with satellites.  The mission to Mars will cost about as much as buying one Boeing passenger airliner.  Yes, India is still poor and beset with numerous problems, but India rarely lets itself be defined only by its poverty.  The real issue is whether or not this bold, new mission has been carefully planned.  It seems to be mainly about retaining prestige in Asia’s space race… which is kind of a recipe for disaster.
  • China will be sending three taikonauts to its temporary space station, Tiangong 1, this summer.  China hopes to establish a permanent space station by 2020.  The European Space Agency can see the future and they’re mulling over a new alliance with China despite several major political hurdles.  Now, if someone could just convince the Chinese to clean up the mess they made with their anti-satellite missile test.
  • South Korea and North Korea: Have both recently demonstrated their ability to put satellites in space and to piss each other off.
  • Japan: JAXA will be studying the atmospheres of Venus, Jupiter and Mars from Earth’s outer orbit.
  • Singapore and Vietnam: Are discovering the advantages of pooling their resources with India and Japan.
  • America: Meanwhile, Neil deGrasse Tyson argues that Americans have stopped dreaming.  Nonsense!  America has just privatized most of its dreams.  Because, nothing is as efficient as having two corporations producing the same thing for NASA that could have been produced in-house by NASA itself.  Yay for mindless neo-liberal economic thinking!

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Monday Morning Linkage

800px-Dendrocygna_bicolor_wilhelmaGood morning, ducks! Let’s start the week in

Pakistan

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Monday Linkage

Photo by Hamed Saber

Mornin’ ducks… In anticipation of the P5+1 talks in Kazakhstan this week, let’s start the week  in…

Iran

  • Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist, urges the West to make Iran a serious offer.  But Patrick Clawson argues that the Islamic Republic is just too dysfunctional to cut a nuclear deal.  Farhang Jahanpour at Juan Cole’s Informed Comment blog argues that talks with Iran might just work this time.  Whose argument should we believe?
  • In other news… For the first time since Iran and the US cooperated in overthrowing the Taliban, they have joined forces again to save … wrestling.  Wait … does this mean the Iron Sheik is coming out of retirement?!?  Hulkster, are you hearin’ this? Oh, wait it’s not the kind of wrestling where the Americans always win in the end… it’s the other kind.
  • There’s another area where Iran clobbers the US: Iran is apparently much better than the US at providing maternity leave.  But to be fair, almost everyone in the world is better than the US on this indicator (Notably, Iran also has obligatory two-week paternity leave).  Now on the issue of abortion rights in Iran it’s a rather different story… (h/t Robin Dougherty)

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Monday Morning Linkage

Chinese DucksGood Morning! Let’s start the week in the Asia-Pacific…

North Korea

Singapore

  • Rare but real protests are happening in Singapore over the plans to dramatically increase the number of immigrants in one of the world’s most densly populated city-states.  I love the posters which say: “We are not your sheeple!”  Is it too early to dust off my copy of Chee Soon Juan’s Your Future, My Faith, Our Freedom? Yeah I thought so, lah.
  • Dual use technology and a death in Singapore makes for a riveting read.

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Monday Morning Linkage

Egyptian ducklingsGood Morning, here’s your linkages… Let’s start the week in South Asia:

Afghanistan

  • General Allen, the 15th of 16 commanders of ISAF in a dozen years, is  delusional if he really thinks ISAF is on the road to victory in Afghanistan as he exits to become the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.  Unless of course, by the word “victory” he just means handing the ball off to the Afghans while the insurgency continues and the country crumbles.  Notably, the transfer of power from Gen. Allen to Gen. Dunford was held indoors and President Karzai didn’t even bother to show.

Bangladesh

  • Remember when Nixon and Kissinger continued to support West Pakistan as it carried out a systematic genocide in East Pakistan in 1971? No? Hmm…  The Bangladeshis haven’t forgotten what happened or who the local collaborators were more than 40 years later.  And who can blame them?

India

  • The Broadsword blog reports that India will probably purchase 126 Rafale fighter jets by mid-2013.   108 of the jets will be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).  Indian built aircraft, including the Tejas light combat aircraft, were increasingly prominent at this year’s Aero India 2013.  My hunch is that Cohen & Dasgupta are not impressed by any of this.
  • Russia is particularly unhappy with India’s new tilt to the West in purchasing fighter jets and other military equipment, even though Russia has $7 billion in contracts with India’s defense establishment, including 222 Su-30 combat aircraft and 1,500 battle tanks, and an agreement to co-develop a 5th generation fighter jet.

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