Bush said, "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

Obama said, "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

As a proud representative of the Pacific Northwest, I demand that my elected officials start taking my fish seriously!
I'm starting to get data-- even if it's from training and not real-- which is exciting and daunting at the same time.

I haven't had time to do much with the numbers yet, but every survey has a place for the surveyor to write in comments about how the survey went, and I scanned through some of those. My favorite comment so far? "NO."

Can't wait to look that one up!

I am currently working with our data entry staff to start data entry for my baseline survey. Throughout the day, I keep finding new reasons to be appreciative of the staff, who do a difficult, tedious job while holding themselves to a high standard of accuracy. Here are just a few reasons data entry staff deserve the respect of the research teams they work with:

·         They have to learn the logic of a survey in one day that took a week for surveyors to learn.

·         They have to work with surveys that have been battered by surveyors, up to three stages of editing, three stages of transportation, and storage in Tamale during dusty harmittan.

·         They have to try to decipher surveyor’s sometimes-awful handwriting.

·         They have to remember how to consistently enter responses that surveyors record inconsistently.

·         They don’t eat lunch till 1:30.

I find this last particularly impressive, as I consider it to be a drastic sacrifice to wait to eat longer than 1.  So, thank you to the data entry team!!

If you are like me, you know at least one person who loves to get bumped on flights.  That traveler connives to travel on busy days, when airplanes are most likely to get over-booked, so that he or she can receive a sizeable travel voucher or free ticket in exchange for taking the next flight.

Recognizing that market exists, Delta is planning to start allowing travelers to bid for bumps. On overbooked flights, passengers would be allowed to submit the price they would be willing to accept in exchange for taking a later flight. Passengers with the lowest bids would be selected to be bumped first.

I am curious to see (and the article doesn't clarify) whether Delta will pay each passenger the voucher amount that he or she bid, or whether Delta will pay each passenger the voucher amount bid by the last passenger to be bumped. I am also curious to see how quickly information about winning bid prices gets out, and how the information affects bidding strategies of passengers.

I am also curious to see how long it will take before a flight of passengers successfully games the auction...

Sounds like a good research project for an auction theorist!
The project manager on my project is now assisting with a village savings and loan project, and told me some interesting things about working in Bawku, a region in Ghana where violence has broken out between two tribes, the Mamprusis and the Kussassis.

According to my colleague (a Ghanaian), in the first century, the Kussassis, who were traditionally farmers but not fighters, asked the Mamprusis, who were known as warriors, to come to move to their land.  In exchange for protecting the area, so the Kussassis could farm in peace, the Mamprusis were given the chieftaincy in the region.  The agreement has held for centuries, and in Ghana’s system of parallel democratic and traditional governments, the Mamprusis still hold the chieftaincy, although they are far outnumbered by the Kussassis.  The democratically elected official for the region is Kussassi.

Several years ago, the Kussassis became unhappy with this arrangement, demanding the return of a Kussassi chief.   Violence broke out between the tribes.  Despite interventions by the central government, including curfews and prosecution of those perpetrating violence, the situation has remained tense.  The Mamprusis control Bawku’s city center while the Kussassis control the surrounding land and villages, and members of the two tribes cannot safely visit the other’s territory, although visitors from other tribes or countries are safe.  

This situation has posed difficulties for the IPA survey team in the region, as they are trying to collect data in both tribes’ territories.  It is crucial that surveyors be hired locally, so they have knowledge of the area, culture, and languages.  Since young men on motorcycles have been responsible for much of the violence, the Ghanaian government has recently banned all men in the region from traveling on motorcycles --the chief form of transportation for IPA surveyors.  

Enter the ladies.  IPA surveyors are overwhelmingly male, as it can be difficult to find women with top educational qualifications and a willingness to take on the physically demanding work.  In Bawku, the project manager was successful in finding half a dozen qualified women with motorcycles to fill out the ranks of IPA surveyors in the region.  Women are not subject to the ban, and can legally ride motorcycles to visit respondents.  The team includes women of both ethnic groups, to enable IPA to work in both territories and with respondents of both tribes.  The field manager, who will oversee the survey team in that region, is a women of mixed descent, half Mamprusi and half Kussassi, and can safely work in either tribe’s territory. 

I wish the team the best, and hope that they will demonstrate both the ability of women to be exceptional surveyors and the possibility that people of these two tribes can work together toward common goals.
Gene Sperling, former Clinton economic adviser, deficit hawk, and current adviser to Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner, is tipped to be the next Chair of the National Economic Council, which coordinates economic policy for the White House.

If you Google images of Gene Sperling, you get...Gene Sperling and Shakira...Gene Sperling and Angelia Jolie...I'm not sure if this means the U.S. economy is saved or doomed. (Maybe it just means people are more interested in pictures of Shakira and Angelina than Gene Sperling.)  I happen to like both women, finding them talented, beautiful and socially conscious. Hopefully good taste in celebrities translates into good taste in economic policy.