What does Universal Jurisdiction Mean for the Future of the Sovereign State?

Earlier this month, Spain’s National Court decided to hear a case arising by a lawsuit from a pro-Tibet group against seven Chinese officials over the pre-Olympics repression of protests in Tibet.  This case draws on that court’s Doctrine of Universal Jurisdiction, as no Spaniards were personally harmed and, of course, the events in question did not occur on Spanish territory.  Perhaps the most notable instance of Spain’s use of Universal Jurisdiction is the charge of genocide against former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet (those interested specifically in this case may want to check out my review of a recent documentary chronicling Continue reading What does Universal Jurisdiction Mean for the Future of the Sovereign State?


I was hoping to produce a substantive post this week, but the upcoming conference for the American Political Science Association seems to monopolizing my time this week.  As such, I may see some of you there ; though, maybe not at 8am. This is my first official trip to Boston, so thankfully I am going with an experienced tour guide. Despite my absence, I am sure my co-bloggers will hold down the fort this week in my absence.

A Draft is Just a Draft (as in writing, not the “Oh No, I am going to war” type)

Writing for Social Scientists by Howard Becker is a book I would strongly recommend to any graduate student who is about to begin the prospectus and/or dissertation process. This book is not solely about “how to write” in the sense of making outlines and editing. Instead, it is about how to overcome the obstacles people create for themselves before writing. There are many obstacles to writing. These obstacles include having a tidy desk, making sure the right music is available to listen to, making sure no one else is around so that complete concentration is possible, and making sure to Continue reading A Draft is Just a Draft (as in writing, not the “Oh No, I am going to war” type)

P.O.V.: Truth and Reconciliation in Chile

The PBS series, P.O.V., aired an excellent documentary Tuesday night called The Judge and The General.  This film tells the story of Juan Guzmán, a judge assigned to try criminal cases against members of Augusto Pinochet‘s regime in Chile.  Guzmán had been a supporter of Pinochet, and the film chronicles the information he uncovered while investigating these cases, and how he ultimately came to the realization that Pinochet’s legal immunity from prosecution was a huge hurdle toward Chile’s goal of truth and reconciliation.  From the P.O.V. synopsis: The Judge and the General follows the twists and turns of the efforts Continue reading P.O.V.: Truth and Reconciliation in Chile

Pirates, the Dark Knight, and more Game Theory

Presh Talwalkar at Mind Your Decisions has posted a decent piece on another game theoretic situation from the opening scene in the Dark Knight (contains mild spoilers): The original plan of equal division is flawed. Each robber has incentive to increase his share by killing a fellow team member. Once a member performs his job, he loses his negotiating power and value to the team. The Joker plays off this conflict by instructing the robbers to take out fellow teammates once their tasks are performed. The game would be different if the robbers were a group and they repeated crimes together—perhaps an even split could be Continue reading Pirates, the Dark Knight, and more Game Theory

World of Warcraft makes people better scientists

A News Lite article reporting on academic research indicates that WoW makes the world more scientific: They looked at a random sample of nearly 2,000 discussion posts to see what types of conversations took place, such as social bantering versus problem-solving, that classified as scientific reasoning. It was concluded that the forum and game-based learning could supplement textbooks and science labs in fostering scientific thinking and problem-solving ability. The article seemed a bit light so I figured finding an article by the authors would help: In MMOGs, individuals collaborate to solve complex problems within the virtual world, such as figuring out what combination of skills, Continue reading World of Warcraft makes people better scientists

Browsing History and Gender Identity

The Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science blog posted an interesting tool (direct link) that attempts to discern your gender identity by evaluating your browser history.  Particular websites are weighted based on the known gender ratio of the user base for that particular website and creates a new score.   The site assures users it does not store user information and it suggests that there is a 99% chance that I am male versus, obviously a 1% chance that I am female: Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 1% Likelihood of you being MALE is 99%

End of the week blogging

The summer is rapidly approaching its end as many of us are preparing for the classes we are teaching, quickly completing those papers for the upcoming APSA conference, and finishing up any summer projects (or finding ways to push back those deadlines).  As such, the blogging here has slowed down a bit while the Dark Knight post continues to draw hundreds of new hits daily from Google, blogs, and some random message boards – but normal posting should resume once people re-settle into the semester swing.  The International relations dispute of interest for the week has been the continued conflict Continue reading End of the week blogging

Data collection using Web-based Forms

Thanks to a comment on an earlier post, Stephen Haptonstahl answered some of my questions and technical misgivings I had about setting up a larger user interface for collecting data via a webpage.  Specifically, he has an article in the Political Methodologist‘s from 2008 (the specific issue can be found here, starts on page 12) that details the set up for data entry using the web-based forms to compile data: […]Web-based forms provide some clear advantages: more than one person can enter data at a time without fear of writing over each other’s work; the data is stored on a Continue reading Data collection using Web-based Forms