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9780195387070

From good wine to ivy

Last week’s post was about the proverb: “Good wine needs no bush,” and something was said about ivy as an antidote to good and bad wine. So now it may not be entirely out of place to discuss the origin of the word ivy, even though I have an entry on it my dictionary.

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Aldo Leopold at 130

The eleventh of January marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of conservationist, ecologist, and writer Aldo Leopold. As one of Leopold’s biographers, I have become accustomed over the years to marking these milepost dates. They tend to bring forth a strong pulse of articles, commentaries, and editorials. Some are celebratory, perhaps built around a choice bit of Leopold prose

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oho

Evaluating the long-view forecasting models of the 2016 election

In an earlier paper this year, we argued that election forecasting models can be characterized by two ideal types, called short-view models and long-view models. Short-view forecasting models are predominantly based on polls, and are continually updated until election day itself. The polls themselves are often interviewing respondents right up until a couple of days before the election.

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African military culture and defiance of British conquest in the 1870s

The Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 is undoubtedly the most widely familiar of the Victorian campaigns of colonial conquest, those so-called “small wars” in which British regulars were pitted against foes inferior in armaments, operational sophistication and logistics. It is also by far the most written about, some would say to the point of exhaustion.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion

Salafism and the religious significance of physical appearances

Because of a combination of these reasons, several European countries have adopted laws to partially ban facial veils in public. However, very little has been said about what the niqab or other forms of physical appearances among Salafis actually mean and what their religious origins are. Despite the fact that most Salafis not only refrain from engaging in such acts themselves but also actively condemn them, politicians from various Western countries have called for banning Salafi organisations or even Salafism altogether.

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How has map reading changed since the 1600s?

Literacy in the United States was never always just about reading, writing, and arithmetic. Remember in the 1980s and 1990s the angst about children becoming “computer literate”? The history of literacy is largely about various types of skills one had to learn depending on the era in which they lived.

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9780199838639

On not taking Trump literally

Donald Trump has always had a rocky relationship with the truth. The fact that his pronouncements often fail to align with reality has now simply become an accepted fact. In earlier times candidates who spoke this way would have quickly fallen off the map. Why not Trump? One interesting take on this is the claim that his statements should not be taken literally. What exactly does it mean to not take something literally?

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9780199672462

Brexit and the Anglo-German relationship

As Britain embarks on its journey towards the exit from the European Union, the Anglo-German relationship is bound to play a central role. No other country is likely to matter more for the outcome of the negotiations than Germany, one of the UK’s most reliable partners in recent years. So how should we now think of this relationship which has defined modern Europe?

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9780199924394

Rethinking if not resetting

A quiet but intense debate has been going on among the dwindling group of Russian experts in the United States and Europe, who are increasingly disturbed by the hyperbolic rhetoric about Russian leader Vladimir Putin during and since the American presidential campaign, in the media, and from public intellectuals. Putin has been described as Hitler, Stalin, without a soul, and even crazy.

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9780199914081

Three myths about the Electoral College

Since the election, we Americans have engaged in a healthy debate about the Electoral College. My instincts in this debate are those of an institutional conservative: Writing our Constitution from scratch today, we would not have designed the Electoral College as it has evolved. However, institutions become embedded in societies. To further this debate, consider these three contentions often heard today about the Electoral College.

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Heavy-metal subdwarf

An international team of astronomers led by Professor Simon Jeffery at the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland has discovered a small, very blue helium-rich, and hot star called UVO 0825+15, which has a surface extremely rich in lead and other heavy metals and varies in brightness by up to 1% every eleven hours. Only the fourth “heavy-metal subdwarf” discovered, and the second to be variable, the new star raises major questions about how these stars form and work.

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Politics Oxford Research Encyclopedias

The blinders of partisanship and the 2016 US election

America has just experienced what some claim is the most unusual presidential election in our modern history. The Democrats picked the first woman to run as a major-party candidate, while the Republicans selected an alt-right populist who is the first modern candidate never to have held an elected office. With battles in 140-character bursts, the tenor of the campaign was unusual to say the least.

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A lost opportunity: President Trump and the treaty supremacy rule

Several commentators have noted that the election of Donald Trump poses a significant threat to the established international legal order. Similarly, the Trump election constitutes a missed opportunity to repair a broken feature of the constitutional system that governs the US relationship with the international order: the Constitution’s treaty supremacy rule.

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A. R. Wallace on progress and its discontents

Celebrated for his co-discovery of the principle of natural selection and other major contributions to evolutionary biology, Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) also wrote widely on the social, political, and environmental aspects of scientific and technological advance. These latter, if far less familiar, ideas constitute an astute critique of the Victorian concept of progress.

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9780199669042_450

Welcome to the year of living dangerously – 2017

I am not usually a worried man but today – New Year’s Day 2017 – I am a worried man. Gripped by an existential fear, my mind is restless, alert, and tired. The problem? A sense of foreboding that the impact of the political events of 2016 will shortly come home to roost on a world that is already short on collective good will or trust. There is also a sense that games are being played by a new uber-elite of political non-politicians.

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Reimagining equity in public schools

Fifteen years ago bipartisan support for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) served as a watershed moment in federal support for public education in the United States. The law emphasized standardized testing and consequences for states and schools that performed poorly. The law was particularly important because NCLB’s focus on accountability also meant that states and local school districts were required to report on the achievement of different groups of students by race, socio-economic background, and disability.

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