Links, 11/13/09

  • Afghan Enclave Seen as Model to Rebuild, and Rebuff Taliban (h/t Josh) – from the article: Not so here in Jurm, a valley in the windswept mountainous province of Badakhshan, in the northeast. People here have taken charge for themselves — using village councils and direct grants as part of an initiative called the National Solidarity Program, introduced by an Afghan ministry in 2003. Before then, this valley had no electricity or clean water, its main crop was poppy and nearly one in 10 women died in childbirth, one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Today, many people have water taps, fields grow wheat and it is no longer considered shameful for a woman to go to a doctor.
  • Ronald Bailey, “Affirmative Action for Males” (h/t Megan McArdle) – if we went by grades and transcripts, there’s no way I would have made it into any graduate school anywhere; my undergraduate record was very lackluster. There’s still a lot of work I need to do on my writing, and readers of this blog know there are many times where I’m hopelessly unclear. So:  Am I against this sort of affirmative action? – Of course. – Are the standards (grades and transcripts) we’re using to measure academic excellence problematic?  – You’d better believe it. – Are the women who are being discriminated against deserving? – Absolutely, and they do need to have the opportunity to study. –
  • High-tech WWII Japanese subs found off Hawaii (h/t David) – from the article: One of the subs was 400 feet long and carried planes as well as enough fuel to travel around the world, said Hans Van Tilburg, maritime heritage coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Sanctuaries in the Pacific Islands. The second sub had a streamlined body, conning tower and retractable guns, making it look more like a Cold War-era submarine, he said.
  • Daniel Gross, “Why Arby’s is so low on the restaurant food chain” (h/t Amanda) – Bringing this up because I don’t think everyone’s impression of Arby’s is the same. From the article: For the last seven quarters, same-store sales have slumped at Arby’s: down 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2008, 3.2 percent in the second quarter, 5 percent in the 2008 third quarter, and 8.5 percent in the 2008 fourth quarter. Things have gotten worse this year, falling 8.7 percent and 6.9 percent in the first and second quarters, respectively. Last week, the company reported third-quarter sales. And in a period in which the economy was expanding, Arby’s turned in its worst performance in recent memory. Same-store sales were off 9 percent from the year before, and operating margins at the outlets owned by the company fell sharply.
  • Jay Cost, “How to Divide a Party in Three Easy Steps” – the divisions are there, but I don’t know how consequential they are: health care reform still passed the House. Still, electoral politics isn’t my field.

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