Skip to main content

edwebb

Rss Feed Ed Webb's EasyBlog

  • on 03-12-2014

    Who predicted Russia’s military intervention?

    Heh. Disregard IR scholars, acquire an historian!

    Quotes:

    Who predicted Russia’s military intervention?

      • scholars who study international security or Russia (or Eastern Europe) as a primary or secondary specialty were more likely to foresee the intervention. It pays (a little bit) to listen to those who know what they are talking about.

      • scholars who work at a Top-25 institution (as identified by TRIP) were least likely to be correct. This is consistent with Philip Tetlock’s finding that the more famous and successful the pundit, the less accurate the predictions. Perhaps in academia, as in punditry, forcefulness, confidence and decisiveness pay even as these qualities do not translate into predictive accuracy.

        • Fourth, and most interesting to me, are the differences related to the “paradigm wars.” International relations scholars have long classified themselves as belonging to different schools of thought, often referred to as “the isms” (see here for a primer). A growing group of scholars, myself included, worry that becoming a card-carrying member of a paradigmatic club can lead to blinders that, among others, interferes with predictive accuracy.
          Consistent with this, those who do not identify with a paradigm were somewhat more likely to be accurate, closely followed by Realists. Self-identified Liberals and Constructivists did poorly, with Liberals both very unlikely to predict intervention and very likely to offer a definitive “no” rather than the “don’t know” answer that was very popular among Constructivists (who sometimes look dimly on the predictive ambitions of social science).
          Perhaps a misplaced faith in the power of international law and institutions was at the root of this. After all, the Russian intervention violates a system of laws and norms that these paradigms hold dearly. Yet, non-realist scholars who study international law or international organizations as their primary or secondary field were more likely to foresee the military action (see graph).

          • All of these findings ought to be taken with a hefty grain of salt. The sample is pretty small once you start breaking it down into subgroups. Moreover, if there were a subgroup called “conspiracy theorists,” who see military intervention lurking behind any crisis, we would have declared them clairvoyant based on this one prediction exercise. This is why continuation of these snap polls is so important: it helps expose our biases in a systematic way. Finally, none of this should distract us from the most important conclusion: that most scholars (including me) got it wrong.
            • 0 follow-ups

            • on 06-20-2013

              On Automobiles | Ibraaz

              Interesting Gulfi video artist discusses cars, Ballard, and Arab futurism

              Quotes:

              0 follow-ups

            • on 06-18-2013

              Study: Reading Fiction Makes People Comfortable With Ambiguity

              Quotes:

              Study: Reading Fiction Makes People Comfortable With Ambiguity

                • Are you uncomfortable with ambiguity? It’s a common condition, but a highly problematic one. The compulsion to quell that unease can inspire snap judgments, rigid thinking, and bad decision-making.
                  • Read more literary fiction.

                  0 follow-ups

                • on 06-11-2013

                  Rules For Living In The Total Surveillance State | Uncrunched

                  Surveillance as a tool of demobilization.

                  Quotes:

                  Rules For Living In The Total Surveillance State | Uncrunched

                    • the only rule to living in our particular kind of surveillance state (where the machine is permanent, but the targets swing wildly over time with the whims of democracy) is this – be completely apathetic. Support nothing and condemn nothing.

                    0 follow-ups

                  • on 06-06-2013

                    Hummingbird

                    A neat take on music notation. Worth playing with, I think - might appeal to different kinds of learners, and would be fun in any case.

                    Quotes:

                    Hummingbird

                        0 follow-ups

                      • on 06-06-2013

                        Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new a...

                        Quotes:

                        Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85% « ACEs Too High

                        The asperger brain often responds to the world with fight/flight, since all kinds of sensory input may be experienced as trauma. The approach discussed here should be of interest to any involved in educating or caring for aspies.

                          • “In flight, fight or freeze mode,” Turner explains, “survival trumps everything else.” So when a kid who’s got complex trauma feels threatened or overwhelmed, exploding in rage at something that most people wouldn’t even shrug over is a perfectly normal response.

                             

                            That’s worth repeating: exploding in rage, getting pissed off, stomping, hitting….it’s all normal. Until a school helps kids learn how to control their emotions, they’ll just keep losing it. For some kids, erupting is a stress reflex response.

                             

                            “That’s the hardest pill to swallow,” says Erik Gordon, a science teacher at Lincoln High. “Trying to figure out how much of their behavior is from a choice and how much is outside their control. It’s a drag when you believe it’s outside their control, because all of the easy disciplinary action doesn’t work.”

                            • Rule No. 1: Take nothing a raging kid says personally. Really. Act like a duck: let the words roll off your back like drops of water.

                               

                              Rule No. 2: Don’t mirror the kid’s behavior. Take a deep breath. Wait for the storm to pass, and then ask something along the lines of: “Are you okay? Did something happen to you that’s bothering you? Do you want to talk about it?”

                            0 follow-ups

                          • on 06-04-2013

                            Turkish protests: look at football match policing for an explanation | John McManus | Comment is free...

                            How football explains the world. Again.

                            Quotes:

                            Turkish protests: look at football match policing for an explanation | John McManus | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

                              • Usually, Istanbul is famed for the fierce tribal rivalry between its three main clubs: Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray. All three are huge, but Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray lay claim to the majority of fans, titles and wealth. Beşiktaş are seen as the halkın takımı, the "people's team", with a traditionally more working-class and leftwing fanbase, and segments of its fans have in the past been more openly critical of the current ruling AK party.

                                Yet the recent demonstrations have seen a remarkable solidarity among fans. Traditional enmities have been put aside to fight the common enemy of the police. Opposing fans have been glimpsed arm-in-arm in scenes that would have been unthinkable only a week ago.

                                • To be met with excessive violence when engaged in a peaceful activity is both terrifying and rage-inducing. Multiply incidents like this, and you have large numbers of people who are both angry and experienced in confronting such tactics.

                                0 follow-ups

                              • on 03-25-2013

                                Facebook and Google spread 'their' net across the mobile world | Technology | The Observer

                                Horrible prospect. Save the developing world from Bookface!

                                Quotes:

                                Facebook and Google spread 'their' net across the mobile world | Technology | The Observer

                                  • "Facebook and Google are … persuading wireless carriers in poor countries to offer customers free or very cheap online access that is limited to stripped-down versions of the  web giants' sites. The idea is that once these new users get some experience in a walled garden of Facebook or Google, they will want more internet access and pay for it, making the carriers' initial investment worthwhile."
                                    • many new users of the internet from poor countries will think that Facebook (or Google) is the Internet. This would be a particularly pernicious outcome for those who find themselves inside Facebook's walled garden

                                    0 follow-ups

                                  • on 03-19-2013

                                    Neil Fraser: News: CS in VN

                                    Computer Science is done strikingly differently in Vietnam.

                                    Quotes:

                                    Neil Fraser: News: CS in VN

                                        0 follow-ups

                                      • on 03-17-2013

                                        The practice of harm in The Battle of Algiers | openDemocracy

                                        Quite an interesting discussion of torture, terrorism etc. through the lens of The Battle of Algiers

                                        Quotes:

                                        0 follow-ups

                                      • on 03-13-2013

                                        The Jordanian State Buys Itself Time | Middle East Research and Information Project

                                        Good roundup from MERIP on the most recent Jordanian election.

                                        Quotes:

                                        The Jordanian State Buys Itself Time | Middle East Research and Information Project

                                          • the elections have afforded the regime room to breathe

                                          • For the moment, the state seems confident that it commands the loyalty of the silent majority. For years, polls have found that most Jordanians are politically conservative, holding positive impressions of the king and royal family and darker views of political parties -- including the Islamists. Jordan has long been regarded as an oasis of stability compared to its neighbors who have faced invasion, foreign occupation and insurrection. Polls and interviews indicate that Jordanians put a high premium on a sense of security, the maintenance of which is of course a mainstay of regime rhetoric.

                                            • The opposition, on the other hand, draws its strength primarily from concerns about the economy and complaints about corruption in the cabinet and Parliament. Many in the opposition also note the state’s well-documented history of using “political reform” as a sop to critics. [3] In tough times, the regime pledges to open up the political system, but then offers changes that do little to alter the established power structure.

                                              • holding an election that is pronounced clean and successful may be of less value to the state than is now apparent. As the year progresses, the public is likely to evaluate the new parliament and government by their ability to address popular concerns

                                                • High turnout and good reviews of election day are the foundations of the state’s claim to have a new mandate. But election monitors in Jordan have made the same point time and time again: An election is much more than the casting of ballots, and a successful poll does not equate to the advent of democracy.

                                                  • monitors were also unanimous in their assessment that the system underpinning the vote falls considerably short of ideal. Their criticism centers on the distorted representation inherent in the election law and the political culture that gerrymandering promotes. Jordan’s voting system boosts the fortunes of candidates whose support base lies in large tribes or localities, while handicapping political parties and unaffiliated candidates who have national agendas. In Jordan’s last five parliamentary elections, most of the seats have gone to such independent or “tribal” candidates. Once elected, the MPs have little ability to shape national policy in any event, since the king appoints all other branches of government.

                                                    • The incentives created are perverse. Voters may feel pushed to back the candidate who returns home bearing spoils from the treasury, rather than the one who represents their vision for the nation. Indeed, deputies in past assemblies have been lambasted for passing out rewards to supporters while ignoring national issues -- one voter, on election day, derided previous parliaments as “service departments.” Polls have found that large portions of the public see parliamentarians as highly corrupt. It is easy to see how this system becomes self-reinforcing. Voters feel that their vote means little on the national stage, while candidates for office seek to become local patrons while feathering their own nests. The result can be vote buying and coercive campaigning.

                                                      • the “tribal” bias of the election system boosts turnout, since the groups that benefit directly from the parliamentary spoils system show up to keep the spoils coming

                                                        • ambient mistrust

                                                          • According to a July 2012 poll by the International Republican Institute, more Jordanians think the country is going in the wrong direction than the right one and many feel deep discontent with the weak economy and perceived government corruption. The same poll found Jordanians taking a dim view of politicians in general, and parliamentarians in particular, who despite being elected appear less popular than royally appointed officials. And in a September 2012 CSS survey, a big portion of the public said the state's reforms had been insufficient -- though large majorities still said it was better to change the system through political action than through street protest.

                                                            • There are indications that the new parliament is more representative -- or at least more diverse -- than the old one. Candidates from al-Wasat al-Islami, a centrist Islamist party, came away with 16 seats, a substantial increase in their representation. Leftists also picked up around a dozen seats (depending on who is counting). Whether either of these groups will be credible to the protesters in the streets is an open question: In the past, many leftist and Islamist MPs have been characterized as “safe,” regime-aligned candidates rather than a genuine opposition.
                                                              Palestinian Jordanians likewise seem to have gained ground, now holding roughly 35 seats as opposed to 20 or so in the last parliament. Women’s representation also increased slightly, with women taking two national list seats and two district seats, in addition to 15 seats from the 10 percent quota they are allotted under the election law.

                                                              • If Parliament is unable to make serious progress toward improving the economy, an item which usually tops the list of the public’s grievances, that will also have consequences. The first challenge the new deputies will face, the yearly budget, will be doubly critical, establishing both the MPs’ economic credentials and their ability to have a serious debate

                                                                • What the state has won is time, which it may use to carry out a reform program, to appease its core constituents or to do a bit of both. In the past, Jordan’s electoral exercises have generally been preludes to consolidations of regime power. But history is not destiny. The state may travel down the path of reform it has laid out, toward parliamentary government and constitutional monarchy, even at the cost of upsetting its traditional clients. Or it may attempt to delay reform again, using the same bait-and-switch it has employed for decades

                                                                  • The unfolding disaster in neighboring Syria will likely keep security high on the local agenda; on the other hand, the state faces another moment of potential crisis, as sometime early in 2013, probably April, conditions of Jordan's IMF loan agreements will require the state to engage in another round of subsidy removal like the one that triggered the November 2012 unrest
                                                                    • 0 follow-ups

                                                                    • on 03-04-2013

                                                                      Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right - Judith E. Glaser - Harvard Business Review

                                                                      Quotes:

                                                                      Your Brain Is Hooked on Being Right - Judith E. Glaser - Harvard Business Review

                                                                      Useful insights for educational situations, also.

                                                                        • situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain. Executive functions that help us with advanced thought processes like strategy, trust building, and compassion shut down. And the amygdala, our instinctive brain, takes over. The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself — in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong — and as a result is unable to regulate its emotions or handle the gaps between expectations and reality. So we default to one of four responses: fight (keep arguing the point), flight (revert to, and hide behind, group consensus), freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up) or appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him
                                                                          • there's another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It's activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing

                                                                          0 follow-ups

                                                                        • 0 follow-ups

                                                                        • on 01-29-2013

                                                                          Israel's left turn to the far right | Jonathan Cook: the View from Nazareth

                                                                          Quotes:

                                                                          Israel’s left turn to the far right | Jonathan Cook: the View from Nazareth

                                                                            • The white middle class in Israel, comprising Ashkenazi Jews, has remained disgruntled at what it sees as the rapid decline in its privileges and standard of living as Netanyahu’s neoliberal policies have accreted ever more power and wealth to a small business elite, many of them benefactors to his party.
                                                                              • By contrast, Lapid captured the self-pitying mood of the protests with his demand that all Israelis “share the burden” – a dig at the rapidly growing community of Jewish religious fundamentalists known as the Haredim, and the large minority of Israel’s 1.4 million Palestinian citizens. The burden, in this case, refers chiefly to serving in the army, or doing equivalent national service.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Far from a collapse of the right, the election demonstrated that the right is continuing to push the center of political gravity – particularly on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – ever further rightwards.

                                                                              0 follow-ups

                                                                            • on 01-24-2013

                                                                              Muftah » The Orientalizing Effects of "Sex With Egyptian Women (According to 'Mike')"

                                                                              Oy vey! Why is Orientalism not dead yet?

                                                                              Quotes:

                                                                              Muftah » The Orientalizing Effects of “Sex With Egyptian Women (According to ‘Mike’)”

                                                                                • Not all Egyptian women are circumcised, and not all European women are sexually “free” (indeed we should ask what this even means). Until we move past these meaningless binaries, which are constructed through objectifying women’s lives, we cannot engage in meaningful struggles that will target problems like female circumcision.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Unfortunately, these tendencies are not confined to mainstream media articles, but also permeate development organizations and, thus, have real concrete effects on Egyptian women. That alone is enough reason to present alternative narratives.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  It seems clear that Badt had no intent of acting as an ally to Egyptian women with this article. Instead it appears that her sole aim was to starkly contrast European and Egyptian society.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  For Badt, one is modern, the other is backwards. Like so many before her, she creates this contrast by using the bodies of women as cultural signifiers. It is through women’s sexual lives that Badt is able to construct Europe as sexually free and Egypt as sexually repressive. All this while not giving a single Egyptian woman the chance to speak. While she implies that Egyptian culture silences its women, Badt’s article not only does the same – it also misrepresents them.

                                                                                0 follow-ups

                                                                              • on 12-19-2012

                                                                                Like? Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 'joins Facebook' | World news | guardian.co.uk

                                                                                Also on Pinterest, but no posts so far: http://pinterest.com/khameneiir/

                                                                                Quotes:

                                                                                Like? Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 'joins Facebook' | World news | guardian.co.uk

                                                                                • He also joined Pinterest very recently, but hasn't posted http://pinterest.com/khameneiir/

                                                                                  0 follow-ups

                                                                                • 0 follow-ups

                                                                                • on 12-13-2012

                                                                                  Leader of main Moroccan opposition group dies - spokesman | Reuters

                                                                                  This will set off a succession struggle in the movement, which is a hybrid of Sufism and political Islamism. His daughter has been effectively a joint leader with him. Will her charismatic authority overcome patriarchal resistance to women's leadership and allow her to take over? Fascinating implications.

                                                                                  Quotes:

                                                                                  0 follow-ups

                                                                                • 0 follow-ups

                                                                                • 0 follow-ups

                                                                                1 - 20 of 280 Next> Last>>