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Chris Blattman

Chris Blattman is an Associate Professor at Columbia University. Through his blog, Chris explores statistics and cultural trends to examine poverty and political participation. His weekly links capture some of the best content on the web.

The new Kashmir: How I think the Russia-Ukraine conflict could play out

After reading many things, talking to colleagues knowledgable about Russia, thinking about parallels to other conflicts, and idly speculating about a place that five months ago I struggled to find on an unlabelled map, here are some thoughts. One plausible scenario is that we are looking at the next Kashmir—something that will soon evolve into a tense but durable “peace” without any real settlement, but at least one where few people are dying. For the next while there will be more fighting...

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Putin the weak strongman

Putin-centered approaches to Russian politics also assume that President Putin can easily turn his preferences into policy outcomes. To be sure, Putin is the central node in Russian politics, has faced no serious political challenger since returning to the presidency in 2012, and can often pass legislation with few amendments in Parliament, but he also confronts the physical limits of ruling Russia and challenge of governing a modern society. He must rely on close advisers who in turn...

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Putin the weak strongman

Putin-centered approaches to Russian politics also assume that President Putin can easily turn his preferences into policy outcomes. To be sure, Putin is the central node in Russian politics, has faced no serious political challenger since returning to the presidency in 2012, and can often pass legislation with few amendments in Parliament, but he also confronts the physical limits of ruling Russia and challenge of governing a modern society. He must rely on close advisers who in turn...

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Everything you need to know about letters of recommendation

Will a professor write you a letter of recommendation? My answer: Writing student recommendations comes with the faculty job, and I usually write if asked. But since this academic territory is often so unfamiliar to grad and undergrad students, let me give some general guidelines and advice. (For general advice on PhD applications see this post, and for other PhD advice see the right sidebar, including How to Get a PhD and Save the World) What do letters do? Let’s start by asking how PhD...

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Links I liked

These New Yorker cartoons do not exist: A thread of panels created by AI trained on the magazine’s comics But deep learning is probably hitting a wall Interview with Arvind Subramanian on India’s economic policy  Five percent of American kids are placed in foster care at some point in their lives. The economics of foster care. US poised to release 2.4 billion genetically modified male mosquitoes to battle deadly diseases Advances in astronomy: 5000 planets discovered so far Lex Fridman...

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Links I liked

These New Yorker cartoons do not exist: A thread of panels created by AI trained on the magazine’s comics But deep learning is probably hitting a wall Interview with Arvind Subramanian on India’s economic policy  Five percent of American kids are placed in foster care at some point in their lives. The economics of foster care. US poised to release 2.4 billion genetically modified male mosquitoes to battle deadly diseases Advances in astronomy: 5000 planets discovered so far Lex Fridman...

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Lex Fridman podcast

Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSSChris Blattman is a professor at the University of Chicago studying the causes and consequences of violence and war. Please support this podcast by checking out our sponsors:– Truebill: https://truebill.com/lex– Mizzen+Main: https://mizzenandmain.com and use code LEX to get $35 off– Grammarly: https://grammarly.com/lex to get 20% off premium– Indeed: https://indeed.com/lex to get $75...

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How Can Individual People Most Help Ukraine?

One of the many distressing things about following a crisis like the war in Ukraine from afar is the combination of wishing for people not to suffer and feeling powerless to help them. Even if no single civilian is going to sway the outcome of the war from thousands of miles away, the impulse to reduce others’ suffering is worth listening to.Determining the best way to help with a global problem, particularly a war, is daunting. Any help helps, though—we shouldn’t overthink it. But we should...

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Our willing gullibility on war news

On Twitter, it makes me a little uncomfortable that some people seem to follow the trials and tribulations of the Russian army with the same sort of glee that they watch a rival sports team lose a streak of games. But I’m not surprised that partisanship bleeds over into jingoism. What does surprise me is the credulousness and enthusiasm with which so many people greet news that the Russian invasion is the result of bumbling leaders, inept bureaucracies, and hoodwinked soldiers. Yesterday...

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Our willing gullibility on war news

On Twitter, it makes me a little uncomfortable that some people seem to follow the trials and tribulations of the Russian army with the same sort of glee that they watch a rival sports team lose a streak of games. But I’m not surprised that partisanship bleeds over into jingoism. What does surprise me is the credulousness and enthusiasm with which so many people greet news that the Russian invasion is the result of bumbling leaders, inept bureaucracies, and hoodwinked soldiers. Yesterday...

Read More »