Number 2 on the list, general Franco

Runner-up general Franco

And the Award for Best Dictator Goes to…

A few years back, Nate Silver’s blog fivethirtyeight.com decided to rank the best (or worst) dictator on earth. They constructed an index that looked at six categories: length in power, population under control, degree of opposition, elections,  development, and how much wealth they were able to expropriate. It’s a curious list, Mugabe only makes 32nd! As in other endeavors, I guess reputation does not equal performance.

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The Charitable-Industrial Complex

Courtesy of the New York Times, here is a well laid-out critique of the modern charity and aid industry. What makes this piece so remarkable: The author is Peter Buffet, son of Warren Buffet. The son of a big philanthropist speaking some truths about philanthropy is bound to attract some eyeballs. Especially because he doesn’t hold back:

But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

Many good parts, but the one that struck me is this one:

Between 2001 and 2011, the number of nonprofits increased 25 percent. Their growth rate now exceeds that of both the business and government sectors. It’s a massive business, with approximately $316 billion given away in 2012 in the United States alone and more than 9.4 million employed.

That’s massive. Absolutely massive. Read the whole thing here.

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Finally, two stories from the Economist.

In the first, scientists finally  establish a correlation between the full moon and reduced sleep. My mom used to tell me didn’t sleep well during full moons, and I called bullshit. It seems I am wrong. Researchers perused the data from an older experiment on sleep cycles that didn’t originally look at the moon and found that at full moon people slept fewer hours, took longer to fall asleep, and slept less deeply.

Dr Cajochen does not believe that what he has found is directly influenced by the Moon through, say, some tidal effect. What he thinks he has discovered is an additional hand on the body’s clock-face. Besides the well-known endogenous daily cycle which the experiment originally studied, there is also an endogenous monthly cycle entrained to the Moon (as the daily one is to the sun) by unconscious observation over a long period of the light from the heavenly bodies concerned.

The Second, entitled “A Villain’s Guide to Football” offers a handy how-to list on how to use your football club in illicit ways, from money laundering and match-fixing to arms trafficking.