A few mornings ago, one particular episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast stuck with me, from April 19th (oh boy. A month ago). In the last segment they open to questions from the floor, with a noticeably British woman asking about the state of polling in the UK. I attended university under the tutelage of the UK's answer to Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight team, Chris Hanretty, and as such my interest in the answer to this question was picqued.
Short one today: It is awful to hear that St Petersburg was struck by an act of violence, as a bomb exploded in the Metro with a current death-toll of 14 people and a second bomb was disarmed before it could take more lives. The question of who is responsible for the St Petersburg Metro bombing seems quickly resolved: Akbarzhon Jalilov, an ethnic Uzbek born in Osh in 1995, is the prime suspect. Undoubtedly the perpetrator acted in the belief he was standing up for a cause. Russia has long since been a target for terrorist attacks, in part because of its heavy military advances against ISIS' occupation of the Middle East. But it would be short-sighted to believe that this wasn't a situation open to exploitation by the Government.
It's a chant that children use to intimidate each other into keeping secrets: snitches get stitches. If you reveal the truth to any authorities, you must face the consequences. But children aren't known for suspiciously falling out of windows (even in Game of Thrones). The scale of secrets doesn't quite compare to international relations interference. The news that Mike Flynn was available to be interviewed by the authorities about his connections to Russia prior to Trump's election reached the UK over night. Flynn offers this with the caveat of requesting immunity against unfair prosecution, according to a statement by his lawyer.
I went to my share of Sunday school as a child. That it was conducted in another language probably doesn't change the parables that were employed to teach us lessons about ourselves. And in today's world, there is that one Christian parable that sticks out to me in particular, when I read the following in my news digest: "UKIP are doubling down on the idea that even though Masood was British-born, this was all about immigration. Nigel Farage went on Fox News to say it showed by Trump’s travel ban was right. Paul Nuttall said the ‘cancer’ had to be cut out. Polish PM Beata Szydlo said it justified her refusal to take Syrian refugees." (Matt Chorley, The Times Red Box) Butchering it horribly, it was something about picking a splinter out of your neighbour's eye, when you've got a mother-loading branch in your own.
This morning, as I walked to my office for work, police had cordoned access off, and were asking pedestrians where they were headed. Anywhere beyond the McDonalds was diverted. I instead was allowed under the ribbon to walk to the entrance of the building where I work.
The same day that I read the New Yorker article that spun off into my post about the hedonistic treadmill of life causing political havoc, I also read this Staggers book review by Andrew Marr, that may explain Theresa May's political philosophy: anywheres v somewheres. The particular section that caught my interest was the following: [...] Nowhere is [the book] more provocative than in Goodhart’s assessment of the huge postwar expansion in British higher education. He rightly points out that our somewhat unusual tradition of “boarding universities” separates young people from their parents and communities in ever greater numbers. Universities become the prime seeding ground for liberal/Anywhere identities: indeed, according to a recent survey, only 11 per cent of academics voted Tory in the last general election, and 90 per cent voted to remain in the EU.
I read about Alexis de Tocqueville most memorably in my Democratic Theory module in second year. Memorable in the sense that, besides the interest I had in Athenian democracy, I only remember reading de Tocqueville's observations about American democracy in tandem with Putnam's Bowling Alone. I'm sure John Stuart Mills found his way into my reading as well, as would be expected in a study of the history of democracy, but I promise I do not remember this.
The city of Wolfsburg is not too far away from where I grew up. After getting my driving license I'd driven there for day-trips on the weekend with friends - there's a science museum I enjoyed going to in my school days as it had interactive exhibits. It's a bit of a factory-city, in the same way that some places were coal-towns in the Golden Days of the mining industry. Visiting it made for a great change of pace, like coming up for air when going on a dive.
It's not always easy coming up with ideas to write about. I mentioned it previously, but it can be quite overwhelming to follow the news, and single a particular theme out for further research. And to what purpose? I'm still not quite sure. Partially I know nobody reads this, but at the same time I want to provide resources for anyone who wants to delve further like me. I think I do an alright job about grouping articles that go together well, and linking or summarising them as appropriate. On the other hands blogs are opportunities to give an opinion. I sprinkle my political convictions in here and there. Little do I know that potentially I am giving this information away freely without knowing through Facebook, apparently.