Scheduling with Students: youcanbook.me

Update via Jack Dougherty:

Updated on February 26, 2015: The friendly folks at YouCanBook.Me tell me that the “On Duty” feature (which displays my office hours, as described below) now requires a paid premium-level subscription OR a free non-profit account. Users who log in with an .edu email address automatically qualify for a free non-profit account, or you can request one by visiting their Non-Profit help page. Also, for more up-to–date instructions, see also YouCanBook.Me’s own tutorial on using the “On Duty” (aka “office hours”) feature.

 

I have used a number of different websites over the years to streamline appointment scheduling with students. Unfortunately, whenever I find something that seems to work (Tungle.me or “Google Appointments”) they end up going out of business.

So, my current implementation involves yet another niche website that I hope will last a bit longer. It also involves a set of instructions which, though lengthy, provide for a very effective synchronization with my Google Calendar.

Here is the service: http://youcanbook.me/

Here are the instructions: http://commons.trincoll.edu/jackdougherty/2012/12/16/youcanbookme/

And here is my current implementation (this is active so don’t set-up an appointment with me unless you need to!): http://michaelbnelson.youcanbook.me/

The ICC’s impacts

There is an interesting discussion at the Monkey Cage on the impacts of the ICC. This should interest some of my International Law and Africa in World Politics students.

“How is the ICC supposed to work?” (James Fearon)

To me it looks like a well-intentioned but not fully thought out institutional experiment that will tend to be used primarily as a way to make rich countries feel better about cases whether they aren’t willing to intervene, while the institution itself sometimes has consequences that contradict its avowed purpose.

“The ICC, Deterrence, and Amnesty” (Erik Voeten)

My own tentative view is that the ICC likely has little meaningful effect on deterring or encouraging the worst forms of human rights abuses but may have a marginally positive effect at reducing abuses in countries where “mid-level” human rights abuses occur; not unlike the international human rights regime more generally.

Africa Notes: Africa and the WTO

Regardless of the Doha Round’s continued stumbles, the WTO is alive and relevant. In fact, its dispute settlement system handled more new disputes in 2012 than in a decade or more (World Trade Law).

African states continue to stay engaged with the institution. Only one African state is involved in the new disputes. South Africa is a respondent to Brazil’s complaint about SA’s anti-dumping duties on Brazilian chicken(tralac). But Ethiopia is reportedly set to finally join that organization as a member in 2014 (tralac). And African states have put forward two important nominees to head the organization (WTO). John Alan Kyeremanten is Ghana’s nominee and has apparently received some support from the AU. There may be a question about how serious he is about this posting, though, as reports surfaced recently about him making a bid for Ghana’s presidency in 2016 (GBC News). Kenya’s nominee is Amina Mohamed, currently a top UN executive official. Kenya’s decision to put forward its own nominee was controversial at the continental level as it disrupted Ghana’s hope to have their candidate be the sole African candidate (GBN). Indeed, it is possible to think that this will effectively split the African vote and hurt either candidate’s chance at getting the top job. However, there are those who suggest this might be Africa’s “turn” (SAIIA). The candidates are due to be formally introduced to the General Council next week. A final decision by WTO members is due by May 31st.

Some African states may be eyeing Russia as a trade partner with renewed interest following its accession to the WTO last year (ICTSD). Commodities like sugar may do well, and some analysts say small exporters will benefit from the leveled playing field the rules-based system provides.

Many African countries are likely to benefit (or at least receive funds) from the WTO’s Aid for Trade Initiative which has reportedly raised $200bn (not all of that goes to Africa) (mb.com).

Despite all of this engagement and interest, the Doha Round’s failings have had a clear impact on perceptions regarding the ability of the WTO to support a pro-development agenda. One of the more recent signs of this is Oxfam’s decision to drop trade as a core issue in its new “If” campaign, which apparently is replacing its Make Poverty History campaign (Duncan Green).

Major conflict could become a regional war

Over the past week or so we have all seen a major conflict erupt that includes a devastating human toll. This is a conflict that has a long history and which, despite the efforts of mediators and peacekeepers, has not found a solution. It is a regionalized conflict and threatens to draw those countries and others into a regional war. As I write this, reports are in about the cities and towns being bombed, and about a ground war which has resulted in rebels taking over a city and its airport.

Wait, rebels? airport? Weren’t you talking about Gaza?

I’m talking about Goma, of course, and not Gaza. And Goma has made its way–marginally–into the news. But, as noted at AlertNet (and the Guardian), a key difference between the conflicts is the amount of attention each receives. In both conflicts, war weary residents of the affected areas are suffering. In Israel and Gaza, there is the uncertainty about where the next rocket will land. In Goma, there is the uncertainty of who will control the territory where you live. For the later, it is easier to flee and they have fled but the toll is still there. The LA Times reports a reasonable estimate of 60,000 people fleeing in the past few days. It is definitely reasonable to question the UN’s mandate which, like so often in peacekeeping situations, keeps them from intervening in substantive ways.

For those of you who haven’t heard much about the conflict in Goma, a good resource is the International Crisis Group. One of their recent posts discusses steps needed to avoid a regional war (the DRC and Rwanda are the main state actors, but Uganda, Burundi, and others in the region had direct interests at play.

On twitter, you may want to follow Gabriel Gatehouse (@ggatehouse), a BBC correspondent who is there; and Laura Seay (@texasinafrica), an academic familiar with the region and conflict. Jason Stearns’ blog, Congo Siasa, is another useful source for commentary (http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/).

Africa Notes: Yao-Min vs. the Chinese Government?

I recently posted about Yao-Min’s efforts to combat the ivory trade in Africa. It made for a great photo op.

However, as the NY Times story linked below notes, there may be reason to believe that offiicals in the Chinese government are creating the very economic conditions that make elephant poaching profitable. Can Yao-Min impact this?

A Story Exposes How the Chinese Government is Fueling Elephant Slaughter – NYTimes.com.