The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

thursday linkage

January 24, 2014

As sleet and ice descend upon Austin, Texas this Thursday evening, here are some stories in keeping with this wackadoo weather. Rick Perry and weed at Davos with Kofi Annan, Downton Abbey goes on safari, Putin warns gays to stay away from kids, GDELT goes dark, and scientific findings that may be flashes in the pan…

  • Our governor Rick Perry announces in Davos at the World Economic Forum on a panel with Kofi Annan that he supports moves to decriminalize or at least diminish criminalize marijuana (!)
  • Downton Abbey’s Elizabeth McGovern signs on as celebrity advocate for Christian development NGO World Vision, displays startling degree of lack of awareness in what can only be described as meta performance art: (1) didn’t realize that World Vision was Christian (“I was stupid not to realise it”), (2) thinks Africans are promiscuous, (“I get the impression that in Africa people have sex far more freely than we do back home”), and (3) is awed by her lunch and reflects on how good those in Sierra Leone have it (“Their food must be so healthy”).
  • The world nervously awaits the Sochi Olympics. Vladimir Putin reassures gays will be fin as long as they leave kids alone. Meanwhile, the U.S. may offer the Russian government with unprecedented intelligence help to ward off the threat of terrorism as grim photos of possible female suicide bombers are circulated. The U.S. will have ships off-shore on standby if American citizens need to be evacuated. Here is a men’s toilet at the Olympic facilities.
  • Weird story about the event dataset GDELT going dark amidst co-investigators’ withdrawal and lawsuit. I hear news that it will rise from the ashes again soon, but it was a funky detour.
  • Interesting story about how many (or even)  most scientific findings (in the natural sciences) can not be reproduced. Novelty trumps replicability.

Lots of serious stories in the news tonight about Syria, dolphin hunts in Japan, a black rhino hunting auction, but I’m just not feeling them. I’ll feeling off-beat, off-kilter but want to avoid bringing you all down.


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Joshua Busby is an Associate Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He is the author of Moral Movements and Foreign Policy (Cambridge, 2010) and the co-author, with Ethan Kapstein, of AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations (Cambridge, 2013). His main research interests include transnational advocacy and social movements, international security and climate change, global public health and HIV/ AIDS, energy and environmental policy, and U.S. foreign policy. He also tends to blog about global wildlife conservation.