Feb 202019
 

An important part of my job is dealing with stuff that is both unpleasant and weird (no, I’m not talking about teaching evaluations). Much of what goes on in far-right politics these days used to be called “the lunatic fringe” but has stealthily moved into the political mainstream. The “manosphere”, a network of unabashedly anti-feminist (or rather anti-female) sites and online communities is fringe even by these standards. But that may change: the HuffPost has an interesting piece about the role of the UK anti-feminist movement within the wider far-right.

Speaking of fringe: I’m old enough to remember that the “Patrioten für Deutschland” (Patriots for Germany) stood in national elections in the late 1980s. They demanded a “new Renaissance” (sounded alright then) and had a manifesto that was manifestly bonkers. The party was part of the “global LaRouche movement”. Apparently their successor party still exists, and they are still deeply rooted within the mad-hatter sector of the political spectrum. And they continue to be guided by one Helga Zepp-LaRouche, wife of Lyndon LaRouche. The latter has died (“how was he still around???”), but his toxic legacy lives on.

Politico predicts “big wins” for the “right wing” in the upcoming EP elections, complete with a picture of Salvini and Le Pen smiling like newlyweds at the reception. Once you read the article, you realise that they actually predict losses for the Socialists/Social Democrats, good times for ALDE, and a mixed bag for Salvini, Le Pen and their ilk. But it is still an interesting article.

What is survivorship bias? Glad you asked, because this is my excuse for linking to yet another wonderful xkcd cartoon

survivorship_bias.png

Look Mom, no Brexit links this week!

Feb 072019
 

Back in 2001, the British General Election Study contained a (presumably open-ended) question asking Britons to name the “ most important problem facing the country”. A whopping 0.4 per cent of the sample came up with something along the lines of “Britain’s relationship with Europe”. So much for the eternal struggle going all the way back to Napoleon. Or Boudica. Or whatever. Here is the tweet containing this nugget of information:

Germany’s AfD, which may or may not face surveillance by the secret service in the near future and is always good for a joke, is suing said agency. They are objecting not to the fact that the service is building a case against them but rather to the decision to make this fact public. Here is the full story: https://www.dw.com/en/germanys-far-right-afd-files-lawsuit-against-spy-agency/a-47400383

If you can bear to hear or read even more about the current occupant of the White House, this is a particularly scathing assessment of his presidency. Read it and weep.

Jan 272019
 

It is a warm but grey and gloomy weekend in Germany, so here are three links I enjoyed:

In case you were wondering whether Trump is a) evil, b) senile or c) a master strategist: here is a piece arguing that c) is unlikely, though a) and b) could easily be true at the same time.

This is surprisingly accurate: academic life told through Wallace & Gromit gifs

When I needed to maximise a two-variable function over a given range of input values, I found this brief tutorial helpful.

Bonus: a pic of Gromit:

Jan 182019
 

An Economist study finds that the quality of democracy is highest in Australia, Canada, and Scandinavia. No big surprise here. Time to move?

You may have heard that a prominent member of the AfD was physically attacked in Bremen, which the AfD managed to put all over social media. The police say the initial account of the story does not match CCTV from the scene.

Another police officer in Hesse has come under scrutiny over ties to right-wing extremist networks: he is accused of leaking police information to two Neo Nazis. Worrying, to say the least.

Pankaj Mishra thinks that Brexit reflects everything British upper-middle and upper classes have inflicted on the large parts of Asia and Africa. A scathing and not implausible reading of modern history.

Oct 132018
 

Probably it’s never been away. Equally probably, I’m overgeneralising from personal experience (can you see what I’m doing here?): within less than 48 hours:

 

 

 

Image credit: Elisa Riva via Pixabay

Jun 182018
 

I know that definitions are so 1996, but here are some that bear repeating:

Migrant
“A person who is to be engaged, is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national” (UN Convention on the rights of Migrants)
Refugee
“someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence” (UNHCR)
Asylum seeker
someone who applies “to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance (UNHCR)

In short, asylum seekers are refugees who apply for formal recognition. If this status is granted, they may or may not become migrants. Words matter. Having said that, here are some links:

May 302018
 

Bonus track: Here is another demotivational  quote from the Stata handbook:

May 152018
 
May 072018