widerspruchlich

March 1st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Here’s a nice comment from Condi Rice about Gaddafi:

“When he can laugh talking to international journalists, when he is slaughtering his own people, only underscores how unfit he is to lead,” she said, referring to his interview with international news organisations today.

I want to combine that with some footage of, say, Bush talking to the White House Correspondents’ Association. Fat chance, but I like to believe

The Inefficient Everything Hypothesis

February 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Efficient Markets Hypothesis may be looking a bit shabby after the financial crisis. But it’s still looking pretty damn good compared to any other area of public life. Where’s the Efficient Media Hypothesis? The Efficient Academia Hypotheis? The Efficient Politics Hypothesis? The Efficient Courts Hypothesis? Anybody eve proposing them would be laughed out of the room.

Palin schoss mit!

January 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Reading about the connection of the Bild to Rudi Dutschke’s shooting, I can’t help thinking about the parallels to the Gifford shooting in the US. The anti-Springer slogan in ’68 was “Bild schoss mit!”. Perhaps now we need ‘Palin schoss mit’?

origin of the fourth estate

January 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Where the term Fourth Estate comes from:

The idea of the press as a “Fourth Estate” came to prominence during the nineteenth century. In 1837 Robert Carlyle referred to “A Fourth Estate of Noble Editors” in The French Revolution: A History, and in On Heroes and Hero Worship (1841) stated that “Burke said there were Three Estates in parliament; but in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all”. Carlyle continued: “Literature is our Parliament too. Printing, which comes necessarily out of Writing, I say often, is equivalent to Democracy. Invent Writing, Democracy is inevitable.”

Catherine Ashton’s attendance record

January 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I never liked the idea of Baroness Ashton running EU foreign policy.

Now blogger and Telegraph journalist Bruno Waterfield is gunning for over her invisibility during her first year in place:

Lady Ashton does not possess the political nous or commitment of an elected politician. Apart from one or two months last year, she has shown herself to be unwilling to travel or work over weekends. Working Monday to Friday might be fine for a jobsworth public official or serial quango/Lords appointee but it’s not good enough for an EU foreign minister. People who want to change the world have to give up prosaic ideas like the work/life balance.

And here’s Ronny Patz:

when you are in Brussels, a lot of people complain about the way EU “foreign minister” Ashton works….
I doubt that with her limited amount of involvement into the core Commission work (represented through her participation record) she really was having her voice heard

January 9th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Charming introduction to Theodore Zeldin’s books of French history:

Zeldin’s approach can be understood as a kind of historical ethnography, while Todd’s approach emphasizes processes and structures of nation formation.

What’s striking is how out-of-place Zeldin’s work must be in contemporary academic history — but equally, how it’s the kind of history people really want to write, and to read. I’m becoming increasingly sympathetic to the idea of some kind of revival of 19th century humanities, with the diligence and the emotional involvement. I’m not sure if you can manage that without the racism and shallowness — though is it really better to have your prejudices concealed behind dull prose and academic walls?

Remittances as aid

December 15th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Here’s another argument for No Borders. Not sure if it’s a socialist or a neolib one. Work-migration is the most effective form of international aid:

Is there a Secret Weapon for Fighting Poverty? | UN Dispatch

 

Granted, this then brings us straight into the global outsourcing debate. If somebody cleaning floors in Sydney is bringing money to Indonesia, wouldn’t an exploitative factory in Jakarta be even more effective?And it’s worth remembering that life for gastarbeiter can be pretty shit — see the recent outrage in the Philippines about torture of Filipino nurses in Saudi Arabia.
But…facts, facts, facts.

December 14th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

There are a few reasons why I’ve not seen much German television. One is that I’ve avoided TV since childhood. Another is that, until the past 6 months, I’ve not lived anywhere with a shared television. A third is that in-person recommendations of what to watch in Germany have never been able to keep up with the deluge of English-languag recommendations constantly coming in through livejournal, facebook and the like.

So, when I do encounter German TV, there’s space for me to be pleasantly surprised. So it was with the satire programme Xtra3. Came across it because Chris was channel-hopping, then quickly realised it’s top-notch satire with a political edge I can sympathise with. This snippet (via karohemd) is particularly great, following up on the ludicrous terror alerts and so on:

EU limits social housing in the Netherlands

December 13th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How did I miss this? Oh, right, because our eyes collectively glaze over at the mention of anything from Brussels, regardless of how much it affects our world.

Thirty three per cent of housing stock in the Netherlands is owned by bodies that receive state funding. In 2005, the commission – the executive body of the EU – argued having more than 30 per cent of homes belonging to the social housing sector seemed ‘disproportionate’.

It expressed doubt about the compatibility of the Dutch social housing support systems with the European competition rules, and suggested that it could be a possible ‘manifest error’.

 

French pessimism about the crisis yet to come

December 13th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

70% of French believe the worst of the crisis is yet to come:

Lorsque l’institut Ipsos leur demande s’ils pensent “que le gros de la crise est derrière nous”, ils sont ainsi 70 % à répondre au contraire que “le gros de la crise reste encore à venir”.

This despite recent business figures which are positive, if not quite so good as in Germany. What’s going on?

  • Everybody believes governments are making up the figures, even when they aren’t
  • It’s going well for business, but not for people — the crisis has become a concentration/acceleration of the existing patterns of inequality.
  • ‘man in the street’ experiences of recession — unemployment in particular — lag behind the state of business, which in turn lags behind financial markets. This is why the crisis began as a financial crisis: at first it seemed phony-war-like, something happening only in meaningless figures
  • People are using optimism/pessimism to make a political point. e.g. the left are exaggerating the crisis, as a means to criticize Sarkozy

Ödön von Horváth

December 10th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Someone wrote to me about Ödön von Horváth, a Weimar-era playwright and novelist who wrote these wonderful absurdist pieces about how nuts fascism was — the point being that its inherent craziness hid how evil it was. His work is laugh-out-loud funny while being shiver-down-your-spine chilling. But he was a Hungarian living in Berlin and eventually had to flee the Nazis. An epically difficult thing in itself, and he must have felt a unfathomably-deep sense of relief when he finally got to Paris… where he was promptly struck by lightening and killed while taking a victory stroll down the Champs Elysee. How can we not champion this guy? He must not be forgotten.

Bookslut | Heinrich Böll and the Literature of Aftermath: A Correspondence

December 7th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Sad news for French multiculturalism, as the only (!) politician who dared wear an islamic headscarf* has left the Nouvea Parti Anti-Capitaliste. Brent Whelan:

Moussaïd gave the party its most widespread–though least welcome–burst of publicity last February when she appeared on the list of local candidates in the regional election wearing the Islamic headscarf she favors. Squeezed between the strident criticisms of feminists and secularists, she held her ground–and insisted on her qualifications as a long-time social and party activist–with grace and poise that belied her 21 years. (See my previous post, “Veiled Threat,” 2/15/10) After a storm of polemics, mostly hostile, both inside the party and in highly visible venues such as the Idées pages of Le Monde, Ilham and her local supporters had hoped the delicate issues of tolerance and diversity she raised could be fully aired in a party congress. But as that public debate receded in time–originally scheduled for November, then December, now February–she apparently lost confidence in the party’s openness to her situation, and now her chapter is closed.

* We’re not even talking about a hijab here, by the looks of it — just a hair covering. i.e. something that wouldn’t be the faintest bit controversial in any halfway-sane political climate.

We have an opportunity

November 30th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

K-punk on UK student protests:

the ruling class are counting on the street militancy fizzling out as suddenly as it flared up. We have an opportunity here, not only to bring down the government – which is eminently achievable, (keep reminding yourself: this government is very weak indeed) – but of winning a decisive hegemonic struggle whose effects can last for years. The analogy that keeps suggesting itself to me is 1978 – but it is the coaltion, not the left, which is in the position of the Callaghan government. This is an administration at the end of something, not the beginning, bereft of ideas and energy, crossing its fingers and hoping that, by some miracle, the old world can be brought back to life before anyone has really noticed that it has collapsed.

October 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

the Global War on Terror (the officially retired title soldiers on in popular usage, despite the Obama administration’s weird new appellation “Overseas Contingency Operation”)

Alien Tort Statute

October 1st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The Alien Tort Statute provided a roundabout method by which US corporations could be sued for their actions abroad, including by non-US citizens.

The US courts have just closed that loophole, in their usual style of walking backwards into significant legal changes. The Second Circuit court of appeals has ruled that the Alien Tort Statute applies only to individuals, not to corporations.

Islamophobia

September 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

[This](http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/business/24muslim.html?adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1285704334-T8gPa8hwgZaRAu/kL5IIwg) is a goodish article on anti-Muslim discrimination in the US. One aspect I find particularly incomprehensible:
>”In America right now, there are intense concerns about many issues — immigration, the faltering economy, the interminable wars” and the erroneous belief, held by many Americans, that the first nonwhite president is Muslim, said Akbar Ahmed, a professor of Islamic studies at American University.
Do people really feel increased hatred of a group when a (supposed) member is in a position of authority? Why? Wouldn’t it make equal sense to believe that, if a Muslim is running the country, they can’t be all bad? Or is Obama evidence that a vast Islamic conspiracy is poised to overrun the US, enslaving Christians and probably eating their babies?

Kyrgyz political biographies

July 9th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Ran into this who’s who of Kyrgyz politics looking up the new Interior Minister, but it seems generally pretty worth paying attention to.

Kyrgyzstan: new interior minister

July 9th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Kyrgyzstan has a new interior minister. Probably no bad thing, given that the accomplishments of previous acting interior minister Bolot Sher consisted of:
* pursuing Bakiyev’s relatives
* Making the supremely reassuring statement that “I am in command of 80 percent of the Ministry of Interior…The other 20 percent is still waffling.”

On the other hand his replacement, Kubat Baibolov, is coming straight from an oh-so-successful stint running things in Jalal-Abad

Phantom MEP expenses

May 29th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Back last year, the Telegraph thought the Phantom MEPs would be on to a cushy number:

the European Parliament has decided to give the MEPs only “observer” status from next year.
The deal will mean they can draw full salaries and allowances at an annual cost of over £6 million without any legislative duties to carry out.
The 18 MEPs, from 12 EU countries, including Britain’s West Midlands region, will be paid more than £76,000 a year, with staff and office allowances worth £210,000.

[That is, I was under the impression that the Phanton MEPs weren’t being paid. As usual, there’s a strong possibility that I’m just totally wrong]

Equality for economists

May 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s a sad reflection on the state of our politics that nobody is mentioning how useful redistribution of wealth/income would be from a purely economic perspective, in stimulating increased spending &c. AG touches on it here. but there’s doubtless much better information elsewhere.

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