Monday, June 18, 2012

LftW: 18th June

Not many physics links this week, but plenty of other interesting stuff to make up for it.
  • Like most people I know, I have been following the football games at the current European Championship in Poland and Ukraine quite closely. Generally speaking the football has been very exciting, but there has also been some scrutiny of the venues for the games, and quite a bit of discussion about racism and anti-Semitism in both countries. A lot of this possibly stems from the history of the region; in The Observer, Michael Goldfarb wrote about the Ukrainian city of Lviv, formerly Polish Lwów, Russian Львов and German Lemsberg. A few days before that, The New York Review of Books had carried a review of a film about Lviv by Polish director Agnieszka Holland. Well worth reading both for some historical perspective.
  • On the topic of European political geography, there was a great YouTube video which went viral a couple of weeks ago, showing a time lapse of the changing political map of Europe from AD 1000 to 2006 in about 11 minutes, with notes about the main events and battles included. If, like me, you didn't know a great deal about the history of Europe but were fascinated by little tidbits such as the Spanish and Austrian dynasties being related, it was very educational. Unfortunately it has since been taken down by the copyright holders, so I can't link it here. Instead, you can have a look at the maps on this website, showing the boundaries at intervals of every hundred years, from AD 1  to the present. A poor substitute for the video, but pretty good nevertheless.
  • The British government's self-imposed austerity policy was always an unnecessary, ideologically motivated gamble, which several respectable economists opposed from the start. As it happens, events have proven their fears right, but the Conservatives have been reluctant to change course, because to do so would be openly admit their initial mistake. Nevertheless, George Osborne has been giving a big economic policy speech this week, in which Jonathan Portes catches him implicitly admitting that he was wrong and the Keynesians were right all along. There's more on this from the polite-but-scathing Simon Wren-Lewis, and the simply scathing Paul Krugman.
  • Germany will be playing Greece in the quarter-finals at the Euros in a few days, so perhaps it is worth recalling a previous game between these two nations (hat tip to Elton):
  • And finally, James Felce's blog post The War of The Immune Worlds at partner blog The Trenches of Discovery has made it to the semi-finals of 3 Quarks Daily's science writing competition. Worth a read!

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