So, does France still need a new electoral system?

Fruits and Votes

At the conclusion of the first round of voting for the French National Assembly, with projections showing a majority for newly elected President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP ranging from nearly two thirds to more than three fourth of the seats, I posed the question of whether France needed a new electoral system. With the party system fragmented, yet now dominated by two large and relatively moderate parties, the old majority-plurality two-round system no longer seemed to be serving the country well. When the electoral system was adopted in 1958 (and used for every election since then, except for 1986), there were no real “giants” in the fragmented party system and not even two clear blocs. One of the largest parties was a doctrinaire Communist party. In that context, a system that very quickly realigned the parties into two major blocs and led to the under-representation of the Communists was a…

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The attacks on seven eminent professors over a Listener letter in which they championed science have missed their target

Pre-modern cultures were knowledgeable of plants and animals; those that were not did not survive. The closest their cultures came to being scientific was tasting and cooking plants and animals to see if they were not poisonous.

Point of Order


A letter in defence of science, published in The Listener last month, was signed by seven professors from the University of Auckland – Kendall Clements, Garth Cooper, Emeritus Professor Michael Corballis, Douglas Elliffe, Elizabeth Rata, Emeritus Professor Robert Nola, and Emeritus Professor John Werry. 

Prominent scientists were among the critics of the letter-writers.  But despite their disquiet, dismay or outrage, the critics have avoided stating that mātauranga Māori is scientific. 

GRAHAM ADAMS asks why they are skirting the main issue.


A distinctly curious feature of the backlash against the seven professors’ letter published in The Listener titled “In Defence of Science” is that none of its most prominent critics have actually defended mātauranga Māori (traditional Māori knowledge) as being scientific.

Yet the main point of the letter by the seven Auckland University professors — and the main point of contention for its critics — was summed up in…

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Can an individual large firm impact the U.S. business cycle?

15% is still large

Mostly Economics

Chen Yeh in this Richmond Fed economic brief:

Recent research has emphasized the importance of a few large firms in driving overall economic fluctuations, a view known as the “granular hypothesis.” I find that the granular hypothesis can explain about 15 percent of aggregate U.S. fluctuations, a smaller share than found in other research. Thus, the granular hypothesis plays a meaningful role for the U.S. economy, but there is still plenty of room for aggregate factors to be relevant.

15% is quite large.

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California Could Lose Pork Products Due to New Pig Rules

Green Jihad

Starting next year, Golden State residents are going to have a lot less pork options to eat resulting from a ballot initiative passed in 2018. According to the Associated Press, 2022 is when rules for a ballot proposition requiring more space for pigs, chickens who lay eggs, and veal calves.

While nationally-based pork food producers can meet the new requirements,the AP states only a fraction of hog operators are in compliance. Consequently, California not only stands to lose almost its entire pork supply most of which is shipped in from Iowa in which pork meat production costs stand to go very high. One farmer interviewed by the AP stated he would have to raise his pig selling prices an additional $20 in order to cover the costs.

With pork no longer available in California, it not only will hurt local restaurants and state supermarkets very hard, but porn prices…

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The elusiveness of divorce in medieval England: the marital troubles of the last Warenne earl of Surrey (d.1347)

The History of Parliament

In today’s blog Dr Simon Payling from our Commons 1461-1504 project continues our ongoing look into the marriages of Parliamentarians, both happy and unhappy. Divorce in medieval England was infrequent and difficult to secure, but this did not stop individuals from making an attempt…

Medieval England knew two forms of divorce. The first, and overwhelmingly the most important, was divorce a vinculo matrimonii (from the bond of marriage), a ruling by the Church that a marriage had never been valid. This turned on some default in the couple’s consent to it, either that consent had been coerced or they themselves were canonically incapable of giving it (because, for example, they were underage or too closely related to make a valid marriage). The second, what might be termed a separation, was divorce a mensa et thoro (from bed and board), a ruling that the couple need no longer live together on…

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Sky News Australia Suspended By YouTube


By Paul Homewood


Tech giant YouTube has suspended Sky News Australia’s popular channel from the platform for a week following a review of old uploaded videos.

    Sky News Australia has been temporarily suspended by YouTube following a review of old videos published to the channel.

    The one-week suspension by YouTube follows a review of content for compliance with YouTube’s policies on COVID-19 which are subject to change in response to changes to global or local health authority guidance on the virus.

    Sky News Australia acknowledges YouTube’s right to enforce its policies and looks forward to continuing to publish its popular news and analysis content back to its audience of 1.85 million YouTube subscribers shortly.

    A Sky News Australia spokesperson said: “We support broad discussion and debate on a wide range of topics and perspectives which is vital to any democracy.

    “We take our commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations…

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    Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, the battle the changed the course of the American Civil War by James M. McPherson (2002)

    Books & Boots

    The 160 pages or so of this tidy little book are like a pendant to ‘Battle Cry of Freedom’, McPherson’s vast 860-page history of the Civil War Era, which I have reviewed at length.

    Crossroads of Freedom is part of a series called Pivotal Moments in American History. In his introduction McPherson says that, as you might expect, there were numerous important moments in the American Civil War, before going on to explain why he thinks the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 justifies his focus.

    Why Antietam?

    Closest the South ever came to victory In a nutshell it’s because Antietam was the closest the South came to taking Washington DC, an event which would have not just demoralised the North and possibly fatally weakened its army. Far more importantly, it would have a decisive step toward achieving the South’s primary war aim which was Recognition by the International…

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    Some ‘Transition’: German Wind Power Output Plummets 20%: Coal-Fired Power Generation Jumps 38%


    What’s really powering Germany …

    Germany’s 30,000 wind turbines continue to disappoint those who reckon ‘coal is dead’.  In the first half of 2021, wind power output plummeted by more than 20%, whereas Germany’s coal-fired power generators increased output by a whopping 38% over the same period.

    So much for Germany’s ‘inevitable transition’ to an all wind and sun powered future – aka the ‘Energiewende’.

    It’s almost like there’s some kind of conspiracy at work, with an outbreak of dead calm and cloudy weather all across Germany.

    Pierre Gosselin reports on the latest lament from Germany’s wind and solar worshippers.

    German Wind Power Production Plummets 20% In First Half 2021… Coal Power Consumption Jumps 38%!
    No Tricks Zone
    Pierre Gosselin
    27 July 2021

    What would we do without coal?

    The first half of 2021 saw a massive 20% drop in wind power production in Germany … while “coal power saw…

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    Polls results won’t deter Labour from its reform programme – but they shouldn’t unnerve the Nats, either

    Point of Order

    Latest  opinion  polling  has   created  a  stir  among  the  political cognoscenti.  On   one  side, ACT’s  rise is being seen as  a  big  problem   for  National. From  another,  Labour’s   fall  by 9.7 points   from the  previous poll points to  sharp  disillusion  with the Ardern government.

    TV3’s  AM Show  told viewers ACT’s  four-point  rise  to 11 % constitutes “soaring popularity”.  Well,  not  quite.

    Then there seemed to be  a  general  judgement  that Judith Collins’ fall below  ACT  leader David  Seymour’s rating  signalled  her imminent  demise  as  National  leader.

    In  reality,  the  Newshub Reid  Research poll’s  findings,  while  recording sharp shifts  from  its  previous  sampling,  weren’t  much  different   from  the   Colmar  Brunton  post-Budget poll  which  recorded  Labour  down  to  46%  from  its  previous highs   in the  fifties.

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    Tuesday August 1,1944. Anne Frank’s last diary entry.

    History of Sorts

    On August 4,1944 Anne Frank, her family and all the others hiding in the annex in the office building in Amsterdam are arrested.

    Anne was 15 at the time, the same age my daughter is now. However my daughter is free to meet her friends, go to the shop, compete in rowing regattas and even free to go to school or the freedom to be embarrassed by her dad’s singing and dancing while he is cooking a dinner . Anne was denied all these freedoms that last years of her life.

    Anne’s best friend was probably Kitty, not a human being ,but a diary. On August 1,1944 which was a Tuesday, 3 days before she was arrested, she wrote her last words to Kitty.

    “Dearest Kitty,

    “A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly…

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