On a very slow news day, two third-tier politicians for the centre-right CDU phantasise over future coalitions with the “moderates/liberals” within the AfD (where would they find them?). Ah yes, they also want to re-unite “the National” and “the Social”, which, by the lego-like greatness of the German language, becomes the “National-Social”.
People in rich & healthy countries stop believing in vaccinations. In the so-called developing world, vaccinations are still trusted. Find these and other fascinating findings in the latest Wellcome Monitor
The Guardian has a highly informative article on “political beauty”, a German political performance art collective. After Björn Höcke’s infamous “memorial of shame” speech, Political Beauty built a replica of the Berlin Holocaust memorial on a plot next to the right-wingers house. They also said that they would observe the man as part of their installation. The whole thing was controversial at the time, which was arguably the point. Now it has emerged that a state prosecutor has been investigating Political Beauty over allegations of forming a criminal organisation. By strange coincidence, the same prosecutor has also donated a small sum of money to the AfD. After the public outcry that followed this revelation, the higher-ups have ordered that the investigation would be dropped. But it is still worrying that people who rose through the ranks of the judiciary show sympathy for the most extreme elements within the AfD.
And finally, to provide some comic relief: Nigel Farage has unveiled the manifesto of his new Brexit party. Politics Joe has turned this into another video work of art, which cannot be unseen once you have watched it 👇
Dealing with packages in R can be somewhat painful, at least for me. Here is pak, a package that claims to make installing more packages less of a hassle, once you’ve managed to install it.
With less than two months to go until the EP elections, it is time to stir up some social media moral panic. And there is good reason for that. Here is an interesting piece by someone who claims to be involved in the development of youtube’s recommendation engine. Shock, surprise: apparently he helped create a monster that has learned that the average youtube viewer wants to see more, more, more anti-media content. Judging by my own recommendations, the monster delivers.
Staying with this theme, here is a post on social-media marketing your research. I read it twice to make extra sure that is indeed satire. YOU WILL BE SHOCKED. And now click on that darn link to demonstrate that the trick works.
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.
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:
Today's random survey fact: When asked what was the most important issue facing the country, 11 out of 3,075 respondents to the 2010 British Election Study named "Britain's relations with Europe". 0.4% of the total sample.