Sep 122019
 

Even Canadian politeness has its limits: someone writing for the Globe and Mail thinks that BoJo is really, seriously rubbish. Amusing (and spot on).

Want to know what relative deprivation is and does? Look no further: “Germany’s far-right AfD stronghold: Life is good, but ‘people are scared'”

Not much to see here, just a far-right “activist” serving on a nuclear sub.

When it’s all getting a bit too much, read this wonderful article about the unlikely environment / management culture in which the world’s favourite operating system was hatched. I have filed “selective enthusiasm” for use in future faculty meetings. Also has some seriously weird pictures of nerds in front of historic computers.

Aug 232019
 

Talking about the Anthropocene seems to be a stupid thing, for various reasons. Intriguing article full of very large numbers.

Life imitating satire: hardliner Andre Poggenburg left the AfD to set up his own party. Seven months down the line, he tries to dissolve the new party, fails, and leaves (in German). Why don’t you watch, purely for the fun of it, a (now historical) video I made about the original split back in January?

If you are into Anglo-Irish relations, Brexit, and Science Fiction, this article is for you: Ossian’s Ride

Bonus track: random Marie Kondo tweet

Aug 142019
 

Apparently there is a market for left-wing authoritarian parties in Western Europe: “The consequences of supply gaps in two-dimensional policy spaces for voter turnout and political support”

The plight of Ciudadanos, and Liberal parties more generally

Terrorism does increase with immigration – but only homegrown, right-wing terrorism

What a wonderful distraction: doing algebra and calculus with R and yacas

 

Bonus track: this glorious thread on state-sponsored youth festivals in the former GDR

Jun 212019
 

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”.

James F. Downes has an interesting long read on Alternative for Germany’s internal/inter-regional conflicts. It chimes with my own recent article on the development of the AfD and the normalisation of right-wing populism in Germany. Somewhat surprisingly, these contradictions are still not harming the party.

Sorry to disappoint: Brendan Nyhan explains why the current polls showing that Trump is trailing various Democrats are useless.

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

May 312019
 

Bonnie N. Field has written a very clear explainer on the issue of minority governments in Spain for the EUROPP blog. Read it.

Over at Europe Elects, Alexander Sarti explains how they predicted the distribution of seats in the European Parliament. By and large, it seems to have worked rather well.

Somewhere along the way, for reasons that I do not fully understand, right-wing populists became anti-vaxxers. Politico (in the guise of Jonathan Kennedy) has some ideas.

Danish politics is confusing. But Jacob Christensen has got you covered with his field guide to the upcoming General Election in Denmark.

Apr 162019
 

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 there is more: Colleagues at the WZB have published a working paper that looks into the conduct of MPs for the AfD in state parliaments. Höcke and friends felt that this violated their rights and sued. Thankfully, a court has dismissed their claims, deciding that the study is perfectly within the limits of academic freedom and freedom of speech. Which reminds me of another case from a couple of years ago: The NPD sued colleague Steffen Kailitz, an expert witness in the trial against them, for making public statements on their ideology. The judge who granted them a temporary injunction (later overturned) was Jens Maier, now an MP for the AfD.

German police forces from four eastern states have raided a large number of properties linked to network of right-wing extremists. They are investigating some 50 alleged crimes including instances of assault and illegal possession of weapons.

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 👇

(I'm Gonna Tell) 500 Lies – Nigel Farage's Brexit Party manifesto anthem

Watch this video on YouTube.
Apr 062019
 

More on the AfD’s donation scandal(s): media report that the ultimate source of the illicit donations to Alice Weidel is a German billionaire dynasty. The family also donated to the Swiss SVP. You will not be surprised to hear that they have pan-European global interests, moved to Switzerland, became dual nationals, and divide their time between London & Zurich. When you are a member of the global elite with lots of money, it just makes sense to support populist, nationalist, anti-migration parties for the lolz.

I always suspected that old Hobbes (the philosopher, not the cartoon character) was a party pooper. I’m just surprised that this was so literally true.

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.

Look Ma, no Brexit link!

Mar 262019
 

The co-leader of the right-wing populist “Alternative for Germany” finally admits that the received assistance from a Swiss media agency (in German). The price tag? About €90,000. Find the juicy details here (in German) or read my short summary of the many AfD scandals.

Sarah Wagenknecht was one of the main obstacles to a closer co-operation amongst Germany’s left-wing parties. Now that she is stepping down, there is speculation about a “red-red-green” (rather: “green-red-red”) coalition in Berlin. The main problem with that? The Green’s gains are (largely) the SPD’s losses.

Here is an interesting Politbarometer poll from mid-March 2019: 73% of Germans are sorry to see UK leave the EU, but 72% think further negotiations are pointless and will still lead to no deal. 83% believe Brexit will cause major problems for UK, vs 50% in EU.

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!