Aside

economics of piracy

economic cost: piracy’s global financial damage is in the range of USD 7 – 12 billion

  • “in somalia, the economic model for piracy is working well. in 2010, the US, EU and the UK gave the country a combined $298m in aid – less than half the sum pocketed by the pirates when light aircraft dropped waterproof containers full of cash into the waters near their beach settlements.” (here.)

economic strategy, should you be kidnapped:

  • first, this is likely (should you be off the cost of the horn of africa), as piracy now, like piracy in antiquity but less like the early modern period, is largely about kidnapping
  • negotiators should seem willing to walk away
  • do not reveal that you have kidnapper’s insurance (or other info about capacity to pay)
  • the going ransom rate is not relevant to your bargaining situation
  • “when the hostage’s party is negotiating a ransom with pirates both the pirates and hostages may be behaving in ways that are ultimately consistent with a game of chicken under conditions of bounded rationality and bayesian inference about asymmetric information, but in the immediate subjective sense they may simply be feeling that the recent run of ransoms sets an expectation of what it is fair to pay for this particular hostage”
  • (among other things, “maybe Mogadishu University needs a better econ department”)
Aside

new pirate prison set up in somaliland

more here.

unclear how much it will do to deter piracy but will help relieve pressure in neighboring (prosecuting) countries — though very few will ever be prosecuted (and many released).

“the pirates know what the odds are when they get into the business – four out of 10 pirates that go out on the water die. with that mindset, prosecution is not going to be a deterrent,” said Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.

sunglasses (googles) in bombay

this is from the summer i spent in bombay (2009), when I was living in dharavi and part of a research project on an unregistered slum near reay road station (i’ll call this community RR).

as many of you may know, i am pretty attached to my sunglasses.  not attached in the sense that i have a favorite pair – because a single pair of sunglasses rarely lasts me long enough to form that kind of connection with them.  but, for the most part, they live on my head or in my face and, India being a sunny place, seem a perfectly reasonable part of my attire here. to be honest, i think they are appropriate attire in just about any weather or degree of darkness (along with corey hart, though for different reasons).

imagine my consternation, then, when we arrived in RR and kiran, one of my research partners, suggested that i not wear my sunglasses.  he explained that people would take it as a mark of celebrity and they would be less likely to talk with me.  so, now when kiran and i ride into RR, i obliging take off my sunglasses just before we turn into the community and slip them out of my bag – and put them back on the second we turn out of the community at the end of the work.

indeed, sunglasses do seem to carry a considerable amount of status – for something that i am pretty sure you can buy cheaply on the street here.  they are a major point of ‘conversation’ at breakfast at the home where i am staying.  a good chunk of breakfast time is spent with different people trying on the sunglasses (generally referred to as ‘googles’), me taking pictures of assorted people wearing the sunglasses, then passing around the camera so everyone can see said pictures and have a good laugh over the precise thing that they had just witnessed.  this, at least so far, seems to provide endless amusement.