July 30th – International News Round-Up (Part I)


Understanding Society

Extremely interesting article. Based on a paper that uses data to develop a model by which the authors analyzed medieval cities and came to the conclusion that medieval cities were strikingly similar to modern cities in how they presented themselves in the model. This, to them, suggested that life in these cities might have been similar to what we experience today in modern cities (in terms of social mixing and mobility).


Al Jazeera

AJ throws some shade at the media about their obsession with the Ugandan refugee policy story. The story also covers why this narrative is beneficial to Uganda and EU countries that want to stop the influx of refugees.

United States


interview with a guy who wrote a book on tea party reactionary politics and how America came to the state that it is in today. He says that the surge of voters that you saw who ended up voting for trump were always there. There is also some truth to the urgency of his call to progressive to embrace the fact that the voice of “resistance”, so to speak, needs to be couched in identity politics. It needs to be about race. It needs to be about sexual orientation. Maybe he’s right.


There’s been a lot written on the number of people in United States prisons based on minor drug charges. Apparently, all of that data comes from federal prison, which hold a small percentage of people imprisoned in the country. Most criminals in the system are there for violent crimes, such as murder, but there isn’t enough being done to reintegrate them into society. They’re just locked away to rot.


Quanta Magazine

Any social science kid knows about Game Theory and the Nash Equilibrium. The basic idea is that given a game, and a certain number of players, playing the game repeatedly (the N value will change depending on the situation), will result in a stable equilibrium, which everybody will be equally satisfied with. It’s a way of achieving societal compromise. It’s also apparently quite the pipe dream. Researchers picked some games that involved about a 100 people and apparently the time required to reach Nash Equilibrium in them would be a time period that would be greater than the life of the universe. That’s not helpful. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to skin this cat. We have something called a “correlated equilibrium” which are equilibrium which aren’t exactly the Nash Equilibrium, but which serve to stabilize the game at an equilibrium point.

“Nash’s equilibrium concept, which earned him a Nobel Prize in economics in 1994, offers a unified framework for understanding strategic behavior not only in economics but also in psychology, evolutionary biology and a host of other fields. Its influence on economic theory “is comparable to that of the discovery of the DNA double helix in the biological sciences,” wrote Roger Myerson of the University of Chicago, another economics Nobelist.”


Edward Feser

Philosopher Edward Feser on the incorporeal nature of Angels in the continuum of life, as imagined by Aquinas.

“The problem facing the Cartesian is rather how to explain mind-body interaction in a way that doesn’t reduce it to something comparable to demonic possession.  A fallen angel moves a bit of matter around in something like the way a poltergeist is popularly thought to move material things around.  A Cartesian res cogitans controlling a res extensa is essentially like a demon’s control of one of the Gadarene swine – the manipulation of something utterly extrinsic to the manipulator, to which it is only contingently related.”

Michel Dorigny - Hagar and the Angel (Source: Wiki Commons)
Michel Dorigny – Hagar and the Angel (Source: Wiki Commons)

Alt-Right/ Neo-Nazi

The Daily Dot

Cop is being investigated for having a shirt on with white supremacist symbology on it. The sun cross is an alternate version of the Celtic cross. It’s also part of the logo for stormfront. I can’t figure out where it’s from. It would be interesting to sort of track how this was adapted in this manner. In certain contexts, it might be benign. Probably not in this one though.


Iraqi News

Hama has apparently witnessed mass-displacement of people because of conflict. Article attributed this to Russian air strikes and Syrian forces attempting to retake the area.

July 24th – International News and Writings Round-Up (Part I)


Musing on Iraq

Ayatollah Ali Sistani called on Iraqis and the Iraqi forces in specific to not engage in the handing out of the extra-judicial punishment to captured IS forces in the recently captured city of Mosul. There have also been reports of confrontation between the various armed forces/militia that helped in the military assault on IS controlled Mosul. Bodies continue to be moved as an eerie calm descends on the city.

Iraqi News

2 policemen were killed in a bomb blast took place at the entrance of Fallujah City in the Anbar Province in Iraq. Iraqi defense forces have restored some calm since retaking the cities in the Anbar province from the Islamic State.



Anzhelina Diash, a Femen activist who bared her breasts, which had “Long Live Belarus” scrawled on, in black. Her protest took place at the meeting of the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The specific action that could lead to her facing time in prison is the fact that she resisted arrest when a law-enforcement official attempted to remove her from the premises.

Femen Activists
Femen Activists (Image Source: Wiki Commons)



French President Emmanuel Macron has been having a rough time. His approval ratings dropped a full 10 percentage points, though he still enjoys 54% approval in France. The drop-off in popularity comes after spats with his Prime Minister and with the former Chief of the Armed Forces.



Venezuela’s opposition coalition controlled parliamentarians called for a 2-day strike against the government of Nicolas Maduro. Violence continues to grip the country. Wuilly Arteaga, a violinist, who is famous for adding a musical flavor to the protest has been injured in the newest wave of protests. Maduro does not seem to be backing down, despite increasing national and international pressure. He also reportedly took to state TV to sing along to John Lennon’s Imagine, in a confusing display of symbology.


Iraqi News

Russian cluster bombs have killed 25 people in the besieged city of Raqqa. Reports suggest that they were probably civilians.

United States

Marginal Revolution

President Trump might not have the power to grant pardons to anybody he wants to. According to Marginal Revolution, the President can only grant pardons for federal crimes, and not crimes that came under the jurisdiction of specific states.

“President’s authority to grant clemency is limited to federal offenses and offenses prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia in the name of the United States in the D.C. Superior Court.  An offense that violates a state law is not an offense against the United States.  A person who wishes to seek a pardon or a commutation of sentence for a state offense should contact the authorities of the state in which the conviction occurred.  Such state authorities are typically the Governor or a state board of pardons and/or paroles, if the state government has created such a board.”