Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Shameful Episode at Trocadéro

The French authorities are clearly nervous. Charlie Hebdo lit a fuse with its provocative cartoons, and certain zones of Paris have been placed off limits to demonstrators who might have a beef with the satirical newspaper. But the overzealous police seem to have taken the ban on demonstrations as license to cleanse the premises of anyone with the wrong racial identity. The treatment of the family described in the article is totally unacceptable in a liberal democracy, and the government should make amends to show that it understands this. (h/t Arun Kapil)

The Left of the Left Demonstrates

The Front de Gauche and allied groups will demonstrate today against the austerity policy that the government of François Hollande has embraced. Their anger is comprehensible. Hollande artfully campaigned on the notion that there was an alternative to austerity. He promised to renegotiate the Merkozy agreement, now respectfully rebaptized the TSCG and erected as a sine qua non of sound government. The gauchistes are also perfectly correct in their analysis of the consequences of austerity: there will be plant closings, business failures, layoffs, and suffering. To all of this Hollande now argues--or, rather, implies--that There Is No Alternative. This is the famous Thatcherite justification for retrenchment. So the only question is whether Hollande's implicit analysis is correct.

So what is the alternative? If France were to try deficit spending, would investors park their money elsewhere and send French borrowing costs higher? This is not absolutely certain. Germany cannot absorb capital indefinitely, and interest rates are already negative. To the extent that investors wish to remain in the euro, France would still be attractive even if it were to diminish the budgetary shock. Hollande seems to be gambling on "shock therapy": if he concentrates all the pain--a shock to GDP of -3%--in his first year, then things will improve over the remainder of his quinquennat. This would be a better bet if Germany were stimulating its economy, but it isn't, nor is anyone else in Europe. Hence the risk is a mutually reinforcing contraction that will steepen the slide and leave everyone in a deeper hole.

Politically, Hollande seems to be tacitly assuming that he can brave the anger from his left, because the left of the Left has no place to go. The Right can cavil, but he is essentially continuing the economic policy of Sarkozy-Fillon and in fact pushing ahead where they were too timid to go. His cuts are deeper, his tax hikes are sharper than the Right dared while it was in power. This is a big bet for an essentially cautious politician like Hollande, and it's not clear where he retreats to if things go wrong. Nor does he have any carrots to offset the lash of his many sticks. The likely outcome is a sharp rise in anti-EU, anti-German, anticapitalist sentiment.

Baroin Supports Fillon

François Baroin will support François Fillon in the UMP leadership fight. Fillon appears to have the support of more deputies than Copé, and he also enjoys greater support in the electorate at large, but it's the militants of the UMP whose votes are counted, and they appear to favor Copé. The vote will take place in November.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Replacement Flying Bases

Good evening worshippers of the Plague Father and thank you for joining us again. Today I would like to offer up a simple alternative to the small flying bases from Games Workshop. I have made this as I have broken more than my fair share of these on Destroyers, Hammer Heads and Crisis Suits.

I was going to attach a magnet to the plastic rod but then I saw a set of Geomag toys on ebay for a couple of pounds which came with 36 rods and a large selection of ball bearings. The rod itself is a hard plastic with a rare earth magnet stuck in each end so you could easily make something similar yourself with a bit of dowel and a sunk magnet though with the cost of magnets alone I liked them.

I started by priming the rod black, as the ones I have are a mix of red, blue and yellow. I stuck this onto the plastic base with super glue as I wasn't sure how poly cement would behave with this type of plastic.

To attach it to the destroyer in this case I used a flat headed screw, if you go this route remember to check they are magnetic before attaching. You could easily swap this out for another magnet or a piece of steel rod which would work nicely and could be made to sit flush with the model if you attached it inside.

I have used this stand on my Destroyer Lord in a couple of games now and is has served me wonderfully compared to the standard ones I used to break on a regular basis.

Until next time keep spreading his word to every corner of the universe.


The Budget

Taxes will be raised in France. Although the government has emphasized tax increases on high earners (75% on individuals earning more than  €1 million and creation of a new 45% tax bracket), a substantial portion of the increased revenue comes from freezing the current set of tax brackets (that is, not adjusting for inflation), a decision already made by the Fillon government. Call this a subterfuge or not, it extends the effective tax hike to some 36 million individuals. Coupled with spending cuts, this represents a serious contraction of the economy. France may have no choice if it is to keep its borrowing costs in line, but the likelihood is that this budgetary contraction will push France into recession next year. Since similar contractions are occurring across Europe, and since the countries of the EU trade intensively with one another, these national contractions will be mutually reinforcing. It is hard to see how Europe avoids a fairly sharp recession next year, and this may upset the budget calculations of any number of countries, including France.

A wave of layoffs is to be expected. Arnaud Montebourg, the minister of productive reinvigoration (I love that title!), has been ubiquitous on TV since taking office. He seems to be following a strategy pioneered by Sarkozy: nurse one's presidential ambitions by cultivating the media in a ministerial role. He chose discretion yesterday, however, avoiding an appearance at the auto show, where pickets from PSA and Ford loudly lambasted him for his failure to prevent layoffs by their firms. The previous day, however, he was on the spot at Arcelor-Mittal, assuring workers that he would somehow save their jobs. On dirait l'avatar de Sarkozy! Productive reinvigoration evidently does not encompass thought that there might be overcapacity in certain industries (steel and autos, for example), and that France's best course might be to shift capital and labor to other uses. The obvious gap between the government's embrace of austerity and Montebourg's one-man dervish effort to stimulate investment with lots of jaw-flapping but without actual funds is likely to end in embarrassment on both sides. Is Ayrault allowing Montebourg enough rope to hang himself, or is he simply using him as a fig leaf to cover the fact that his government has repudiated Keynes and placed its faith in what Paul Krugman calls the confidence fairy?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Recent articles

A few assorted articles I hadn't picked up before:
- Kelley, J. (2012) "Off the Shelf and Out of the Box: Saving Time, Meeting Outcomes and Reaching Students with Information Literacy Modules" Library Scholarship. Paper 15.
- Limberg, L., Sundin, O. and Talja, S. (2012) "Three Theoretical Perspectives on Information Literacy" HumanIT. 11 (2) [I had already blogged the other papers in this issue, I think this one must have been added later]
- Gunton, L., Bruce, C., & Stoodley, I. (2012) "Experiencing religious information literacy : informed learning in church communities." Australian Library Journal, 61(2), 119-132. I already blogged an earlier article on the same research
- Emami, M. and Seify, S. (2012) "Determining the information literacy competence (ILC) of faculty members in University of Applied Sciences and Technology." Interdisciplinary journal of contemporary research in business. 3 (9), 1488-1495.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Autumn starts to touch the beech leaves.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

De Long on the Euro Crisis

So we are left with a combination of the first three options, also known as “policies to restore European growth” – a phrase that appears in every international communiqué. But the communiqués never get more specific. Europe’s technocrats understand what adoption of “policies to restore European growth” means. So do some of Europe’s politicians. But European voters do not, because politicians fear that spelling it out would be a career-limiting move.

But if Europe does not adopt some combination of the first three options as policy goals over the next five years, it will face a stark choice: either lost decades for southern Europe (and perhaps northern Europe as well), or continued north-south payment imbalances that will have to be financed through fiscal transfers – that is, by taxing the north.

Northern Europe’s politicians should become more explicit about what “policies to restore European growth” actually mean. Otherwise, ten years from now, they will be forced to confess that today’s dithering imposed enormous additional tax liabilities on northern Europe. That might turn out to be the ultimate career bummer.
Indeed, but how?

The Future of Europe: Two Speeds or Complete Stall?

Jean-Claude Piris envisions the future of Europe and sees a "two-speed union" ahead. Most of all, he sees quite clearly the impossibility of advancing toward the kind of future that Chancellor Merkel would prefer. But with such profound divergences between the French and German positions, it is difficult to see how any progress is to be made at all:

Pour sauver l’Union européenne de ses crises à la fois de gouvernance et de politiques publiques, Jean-Claude Piris envisage quatre scénarios. Le premier consiste à modifier en profondeur les traités européens. Mais l’auteur n’y croit pas, dans la mesure où il voit mal les Vingt-Sept se lancer dans de nouvelles négociations longues après l’expérience de Lisbonne. Jean-Claude Piris a certainement raison bien qu’il ne faille pas négliger les déclarations d’Angela Merkel visant à réformer en profondeur les traités. Il est peu probable cependant que la France (sans laquelle il est difficile d’agir) puisse l’accepter, lorsque l’on observe combien le Président de la République et le Premier ministre ont déjà du mal à faire accepter à leur majorité la ratification du traité budgétaire européen. Le projet politique raisonnable qu’incarnent les deux chefs de l’exécutif ne reflète en effet que marginalement l’attente de bien des Français qui ne souhaitent aucunement que leur pays partage avec d’autres le long terme de la nouvelle marche du monde. La nostalgie des Trente Glorieuses (y compris chez ceux qui ne l’ont pas vécu) conduit, au contraire, à considérer que les refus de l’Europe et de la mondialisation sont les meilleures recettes d’un avenir meilleur. Les Français entretiennent ainsi, y compris lorsqu’ils sont de gauche, l’utopie de la grandeur coloniale, en considérant qu’une France partageant son sort avec d’autres parce qu’elle serait devenue plus petite, équivaut au plus horrible des renoncements. Ils ont ceci en commun avec les Britanniques, bien que ces derniers craignent surtout pour leur système politique, alors que les Français craignent pour leur condition économique.

Copé Shows His True Colors: White

Jean-François Copé has dredged up the concept of "anti-white racism" for use in his quest for the leadership of the UMP and ultimately for its presidential nomination. This strategy of poaching on the territory of the Front National didn't work well for Sarkozy, of course, so Copé has had to up the ante, making himself a little more overtly obnoxious.

Proposed criteria for describing, reviewing and assessing practice in information literacy training

The Research Information and Digital Literacies Coalition has developed a "draft set of criteria ... to help training practitioners in higher education describe and assess their training and development interventions and resources." "The criteria take the form of a set of structured questions intended to help you describe such interventions for the benefit of learners, but also for your peers in your own or other institutions."
I'm going to have to look at these carefully, which I don't have time to do today, so I may post about them again.The page from which you can download the criteria is here:
Photo by Sheila Webber: Ripening corn plants, Hellingly, September 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bill Clinton for President ... of France

He says he could (h/t Greg Brown):

Bill Clinton told Piers Morgan that he could be president again, just not in the United States.
Said Clinton: "There are only two countries I'm eligible to run for the leadership position is if I move to Ireland and buy a house, I can -- I can run for president of Ireland, because of my Irish heritage."
"And because I was born in Arkansas, which is part of the Louisiana Purchase, any person anywhere in the world that was born in a place that ever was part of the French empire, if you move to -- if you live in France for six months and speak French, you can run for president."
"However, I once polled very well in a French presidential race. And I said, you know, this is great, but that's the best I'd ever do because once they heard my broken French with a Southern accent, I would drop into single digits within a week and I'd be toast."
I haven't checked the Constitution of the Fifth Republic to see if this is true.

UPDATE: Seems it ain't so.

nominations for the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian of the Year Award

The ACRL Instruction Section is now accepting nominations for the Miriam Dudley Instruction Librarian of the Year Award. It "recognizes an individual librarian who has made an especially significant contribution to the advancement of instruction in a college or research library environment." Nominations are due December 7, 2012. More details about the award please are at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Marking in Remo's

Types of Taxation

Via Dylan Matthews:

Aglietta on the Euro Crisis

French economist Michel Aglietta writes on the euro crisis in The New Left Review. For a summary, see The Current Moment.

Critiques of GMO Study

Critiques of that sensationalized GMO study keep coming. See here, here, here, and h/t to Arthur Charpentier here.

Taxing Virtue

Well, I've heard of sin taxes, but the Germans have now decided to tax virtue: you have no right to join a church unless you pay the church tax. Perhaps this was adopted on the theory that society ought to tax things it wants less of, like cigarette smoking and greenhouse gases. In France, however, a church tax wouldn't net much revenue. A tax on unauthorized use of the imperfect of the subjunctive might do better.

New information literacy articles

The magazine SCONUL Focus Number 55, 2012, has been published. It includes a number of concise articles about information literacy e.g.
- The missing link: making the connection between information literacy and an excellent student experience by Christiana Titahmboh, Carol Price, Janice Wright
- ANCIL in action: progress updates on a new curriculum for information literacy by Emma Coonan, Jane Secker, Katy Wrathall , Helen Webster
- The ‘cut and paste’ of undergraduate research by Alison Henesey
The articles can be accessed freely at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Painting on an empty shop, Hailsham: it includes a QR code (I think to link to the artist's website)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

RGPP Declared an Innovative Failure

Sarkozy's "General Revision of Public Policies," the RGPP, which was supposed to shrink the size of the French government, yielded some 11 billion euros in savings but failed to achieve its goal, according to a report commissioned by PM Ayrault.

Résumant des critiques récurrentes, les auteurs estiment que si la RGPP a constitué une démarche« novatrice » et un effort « sans précédent », l'absence de concertation, la précipitation et la focalisation sur les mesures générant des économies rapides se sont avérées « inconciliables avec l'ambition initiale de révision des politiques publiques ». A ces critiques sur la méthode s'ajoutent celles, toutes aussi marquées, sur la mise en oeuvre des réformes. Le rapport déplore « une communication lénifiante » et estime que « l'accumulation de réformes de nature et de portée très inégales a rendu leur mise en oeuvre plus complexe et en a affaibli le sens ». Autre critique : « La gestion des ressources humaines n'a pas été à la hauteur. » Les moyens ont été « trop limités » pour accompagner les restructurations et les politiques de fusion des corps et de retour catégoriels « n'ont pas permis de surmonter les obstacles à la mobilité »,ce qui a débouché sur « l'aggravation des désajustements entre missions et effectifs » et engendré une forte résistance du terrain.

2nd ASIST European Workshop cfp

The 2nd ASIST European Workshop will be held at Åbo Akademi University, Turku/Åbo, Finland 5-6 June 2013. ASIST is the American Society for Information Science and Technology. The conference theme is Digital information and institutions: changing practices of management and use. More specific topics include information behaviour and information literacy. There is a call for full research papers, position papers, panels and posters. Deadline for all submissions is February 1 2013. More info at

Financiers of the UMP

Mediapart names names.

Air France Will No Longer Buy French Newspapers

Air France is going all-digital and will no longer buy copies of French newspapers to give to passengers on its flights. This is bad news for the papers, since AF has been a major buyer, consuming as much as 14% of Libé's daily output, for example. Another nail in the coffin of print journalism.

Germany Pushes for Closer Political Union

Germany has quietly begun negotiations aimed at creating a closer political union and more powerful central government in Europe:

Ainsi, le groupe Westerwelle sur « le futur de l’Europe », institué à l’initiative du ministre des affaires étrangères allemand, au début de l’année, a rédigé un rapport rendu public le 17 septembre (ici en anglais .pdf). Outre l’Allemagne, les Pays-Bas, la Belgique, le Luxembourg, le Portugal, l’Espagne, l’Italie, l’Autriche, la Pologne et le Danemark ont envoyé leur chef de la diplomatie pour participer activement à ces travaux ouverts aux bonnes volontés. La France n’a rejoint cette enceinte informelle que tardivement, au lendemain de l’élection de François Hollande, et seulement à titre « d’observateur ».

Taxes: Taking a Bigger Bite

Henri Sterdyniak analyzes the French tax structure and wonders if Hollande can really take a deeper bite without severely reducing household demand. This is the dilemma of austerity and pro-competitiveness measures, and Sterdyniak argues that France is at the upper limit of what it can tax its citizens and firms.
Le gouvernement doit marcher sur une crête étroite entre les préoccupations de justice sociale et celles de préservation de la demande des ménages, celles de compétitivité des entreprises et de santé financière des banques et le risque d’évasion à l’étranger des plus riches.
Fears of fiscal escape abroad may be exaggerated, in my view, but fears of falling demand are more reasonable. Sterdyniak:
Les mesures de hausses d’impôt déjà prises ou annoncées par le nouveau gouvernement représentent 20 milliards d’euros en année pleine (voir tableau 3). Elles ont permis de rendre notre système fiscal plus juste, en augmentant la taxation des revenus du capital, en supprimant des niches fiscales ou sociales injustifiées, en luttant contre l’optimisation fiscale, en augmentant la taxation des successions. Seule la suppression des exonérations des heures supplémentaires touche les classes populaires et moyennes et risque d’avoir un effet important sur la consommation, mais ces exonérations constituaient une niche fiscale et sociale économiquement contestable et brisaient l’universalité de la CSG.
Toutefois, le rétablissement du barème antérieur de l’ISF, mais sans bouclier fiscal, aboutit à des prélèvements importants sur certains ménages que le Conseil constitutionnel n’a accepté qu’à titre temporaire : l’ISF devra être repensé. Du point de vue de l’équité fiscale, il serait souhaitable qu’il frappe ceux qui échappent à l’IR : les propriétaires de l’appartement qu’ils habitent et les bénéficiaires de plus-values non-réalisées.

And still it won't be enough:

Reste une quinzaine de milliards d’euros à trouver pour satisfaire aux objectifs fiscaux du quinquennat, parmi un ensemble de mesures envisageables qui pourrait rapporter jusqu’à 40 milliards d’euros, frappant surtout les ménages.
Ces mesures poseront toutes des questions d’acceptabilité par les personnes concernées, que ce soit les retraités, les fonctionnaires, les non-salariés. Leur impact sur la consommation risque d’être important. Imposer à la CSG-CRDS les loyers fictifs des propriétaires-occupants pourrait rapporter plus de 10 milliards d’euros mais serait très impopulaire. Remettre en cause certaines avantages fiscaux des revenus du capital (exonération des PEA et de l’assurance-vie, l’abattement forfaitaire sur les dividendes) pourrait rapporter 2 milliards d’euros. La remise en cause de la TVA à taux réduit des hôtels, cafés, restaurants rapporterait à elle seule 5 milliards d’euros. Faut-il procéder par petites touches, au risque d’accumuler les mécontentements ? Faut-il une grande réforme abolissant toutes les niches fiscales afin de revoir à la baisse les taux du barème ?

Swiss Bond Buying Aids French

The Swiss National Bank has been buying French debt in an effort to reduce the value of the Swiss franc. This, according to some reports, has been a major factor in decreasing French borrowing costs.

For numbers, see this post.

Austerity: Madrid Locks Trash Barrels to Prevent Scavenging

The woman, 33, said that she had once worked at the post office but that her unemployment benefits had run out and she was living now on 400 euros a month, about $520. She was squatting with some friends in a building that still had water and electricity, while collecting “a little of everything” from the garbage after stores closed and the streets were dark and quiet.
Such survival tactics are becoming increasingly commonplace here, with an unemployment rate over 50 percent among young people and more and more households having adults without jobs. So pervasive is the problem of scavenging that one Spanish city has resorted to installing locks on supermarket trash bins as a public health precaution.

The Fear of China

Sophie Meunier examines growing French fears of Chinese competition:

57% des Français pensent que la Chine est désormais la principale puissance économique du monde, contre 29% seulement pour les Etats-Unis. Pour les Français, le monde « post-américain » est une certitude et a déjà commencé, même si les perceptions sont bien loin de la réalité.

Monday, September 24, 2012

EDF Invades Britain

The London Review of Books has a fascinating piece by James Meek about the privatization of the British electrical power system. It seems that the big winner is EDF, the French electrical power giant, which now supplies a large share of Britain's electricity. Meek's piece is relentlessly, mercilessly critical. He despises neoliberalism and sees nothing but harm coming from loss of local control over power generation by a host of antiquated plants. Any efficiency gains that may have resulted from privatization are not ignored precisely, but disparaged as cheese-paring economies by a Leviathan multinational bent only on fattening its own profits. But the story that Meek tells is fascinating in its detail, despite his biases. He shows how the single market has created opportunities for investors and even brought benefits to British labor: the CGT, which is EDF's union, insisted on unionizing workers at British plants the company acquired and created a sort of European Works Council at one of them. No doubt there are unintended and perverse consequences to the phenomenon but as far as I can see nothing to justify the dark tones in which the picture is painted here. But the piece is worth reading nonetheless for a glimpse behind the scenes of a major industry.

Hollande's (Dis)Approval Rating

A president should of course ignore his or her approval rating. The public is fickle, and short-term thinking is a sure recipe for failure. But France2 reported last night that Hollande's approval had fallen 11 points in the month of August, from 54% positive to 43%. His fall from his post-election high of 67% positive is the fastest on record. Sarkozy at this point in his presidency was still above 50, and he did not drop to 43 until after the "casse-toi pauvre con" incident, almost 9 months into his term (after which, to be sure, he never recovered).

Clearly, "normality" is not enough, and not being Sarkozy is not enough. There is a danger to winning an election because the electorate is disenchanted with the incumbent, as first Obama and now Hollande have discovered. There is an expectation of improvement that comes simply from the fact that the thorn has been removed. But when the thorn has caused an infection, positive action needs to be taken, and if it isn't, the hurt only grows worse, and is magnified by disappointment.

Latest version of WASSAIL free infolit assessment tool available

WASSAIL version 3.1 is now available for free download. This application enables you to manage question and response data from information literacy sessions, pre- and post-tests from credit-bearing information literacy (IL) courses, and user surveys. Its producer Nancy Goebel (Head Librarian / Human Rights Advisor at Augustana Campus, University of Alberta) says that "This update's most significant change is the ability to alter the properties of online questionnaires after they have been saved (e.g. add additional responses, change the "respond by date," and other questionnaire parameters). In addition, other smaller bugs have been fixed and interface consistency has been worked on throughout the software." Additional information and download at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Rudbeckia, September 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

ALDinHE conference 2013 cfp

The Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) Conference 2013, Celebrating Learning Development, will take place at the University of Plymouth, UK, 25-27 March 2013 Key note speakers are Professor Leslie Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, Dr Stella Cottrell, Director for Lifelong Learning at the University of Leeds and Dave Cormier from Canada will share his experiences of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and rhizomatic learning. Further information and to submit a proposal go to
Photo by Sheila Webber: More michaelmas daisies, September 2012

Ayrault Defends the TSCG

Mediapart once again leaps to the head of the pack in French journalism. The online "paper" has published a long interview with Jean-Marc Ayrault, the first in-depth defense of the TSCG by the Socialist government, which is now pushing for ratification by the parliament of an agreement negotiated by Sarkozy, which Hollande had promised to "renegotiate" but which is being presented to Parliament word-for-word as it was drafted by Merkel and Sarkozy. Ayrault, who is not unafflicted with la langue de bois, argues essentially that this agreement is but a step toward needed changes in European institutions. He presents the recent initiatives of the ECB as an example of such a change:

L’Europe est un combat, mais les peuples ont le sentiment que ce combat leur échappe. Il est illisible, mené d’en haut, technique… Or l’espoir suscité par la campagne électorale était aussi celui d’une repolitisation de ce débat européen. C’est une habileté tactique d’avoir promis une renégociation, qui est devenue une réorientation, et un pacte de croissance en complément, qui reprend des projets déjà engagés, sans objectifs précis d’emplois et de croissance ? Pourquoi avoir cédé au bout d’un seul sommet ?Ne faites pas l’impasse sur l’évolution du rôle de la BCE. Jusqu’à l’élection de François Hollande, c’était un sujet tabou. Là, elle s’installe progressivement dans un rôle qu’on souhaitait lui voir jouer. Ensuite, je vous ai dit qu’il fallait aller plus loin et porter d’autres investissements…
Now, this is more than a little disingenuous. It's true that the ECB's decision to support southern-tier sovereign debt is a positive step, which has averted imminent disaster. But it's also true that the conditionality of that support--contingent on austerity imposed on the recipient countries and enforced by threats of a cut-off of aid--sets an institutional precedent that social democrats may not wish to support. It's also true that the ECB's change of direction had little to do with Hollande's election and everything to do with the fact that the markets had lost confidence in the ability of the southern-tier countries to survive. Investors have now changed their views but only because the ECB is implicitly guaranteeing a floor price on the bonds they are acquiring.

Mediapart is correct to point out, in the very next question, that promises of future changes in European institutions are cheap talk of a kind that has long plagued European institution-building. If the process is to move forward democratically, the French government needs to lay some concrete proposals on the table and make room for public debate. Ayrault is essentially asking for a blank check: to reject the TSCG, he rightly says, would precipitate an immediate European crisis. True enough, but it's past the time when this sort of blackmail should be allowed to underwrite Socialist policy. What is needed is at least an outline of an institutional reform that makes sense in terms of allowing a unified currency zone to continue. Does Hollande have a plan? Are there discussions with the Germans? Have the Germans put forward a plan of their own? What are the ECB and IMF suggesting? Ayrault addresses none of these issues, but even this feeble effort is more than we have seen to date, and it does signal that the necessity of a reform process has been recognized at the highest level. How that process is managed will reveal a great deal about the Hollande administration. Decisions cannot be put off indefinitely, and the public deserves to hear about what is being considered in private.

Cohn-Bendit Resigns From EELV over TSCG

Daniel Cohn-Bendit has resigned from EELV because the party voted by over 70% to denounce the TSCG (aka Merkozy fiscal pact), which DCB regards as a refusal to support the European project and a strategic error, whatever reservations he may have about the wisdom of the fiscal pact. He accuses his former party of having taken a "gauchiste" turn:
Pour lui, sa position est "profondément pragmatique" : "rappeler nos convictions et trouver le bon chemin (...) vers mieux d'Europe" et une Europe "plus démocratique". "Ce traité, on ne l'aime pas mais c'est la base", a-t-il indiqué peu après avant d'ajouter : "J'entends les non, la colère des peuples, mais demain on fait quoi ?"

The EELV, for its part, has sought to distinguish its "no" to TSCG from Jean-Luc Mélenchon's.
Un "non" que les ténors d'EELV ont pris soin de dissocier de celui de Jean-Luc Mélenchon. A l'instar d'Eva Joly qui, après avoir appelé à "un refus fondateur", a redit qu'elle n'irait pas manifester le 30 septembre aux côtés du Front de gauche. "Il faut refuser de laisser instrumentaliser l'Europe dans la constitution d'un front du non", a lancé l'ancienne candidate à la présidentielle à la tribune.

Friday, September 21, 2012

some of my daily coverage of MFW for

Le Pen's UltralaÏque Offensive

Is Marine Le Pen reverting to the ways of her father? She soft-pedaled the anti-Semitism in her presidential campaign, but now she has launched an offensive against both the veil and the kippa in public places. This artfully poses "balance" as a criterion in advancing an agenda directed at what she calls "foreign fundamentalists" in France. The moment is well chosen to coincide with heightened fears of an incident following the provocation from Charlie Hebdo.

Le Pen also shrewdly implies that her move is simply an extension of existing anti-veil regulations, but this is not true. Only the burka is banned in all public places. The veil cannot be worn in schools but can be worn elsewhere. With this escalation, the Front National signals that it is not going to allow the value of its traditional xenophobic fonds de commerce to decline simply because it has also discovered economic populism.

One wonders what internal tensions in the FN may have contributed to this shift.

LOEX 2013 in Nashville: Call for Proposals

The major information literacy conference in the USA, LOEX, has a Call for Proposals. The 41st Annual LOEX Conference is on May 2-4 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Proposals are due on November 16, 2012
The six tracks are:
* Chart-Toppers -- Assessment and Evaluation
* All Together Now -- Collaborative Endeavors
* Talent Agents and Managers -- Program Leadership and Professional Development
* Legendary Venues -- Teaching and Learning Spaces
* Songwriter's Alley -- Instructional Design and Performance
* Mix It Up! -- Technology and Innovation
You submit a proposal for a presentation or workshop session. Library students can propose posters.
More information at
Questions to Judy Williams at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Autumn sunflower, Sheffield, September 2012.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Skaven Warlock Engineer Completed

Greetings pestilent friends. I have been slow with my painting recently, but have finally finished my Warlock Engineer.

I wanted to reflect the twisted technology possessed by this character by using a Warlock-Augmented Halberd, and so followed the guide in White Dwarf no 362 for painting crystalline surfaces (Eldar power weapons), and swapped the blues for greens (namely snot green and scorpion green in the old gw colours). I'm really pleased with how the effect turned out, as well as the model as a whole.

I also had time to paint my poisoned wind mortar team, and went for a swirling warpstone infused gas look for inside the globes.

Next up on the painting agenda is a blood bowl orc for the new team that I am hoping to make. I have simply used a spare model from the assualt on black reach set and chopped off his weapons and posed him in a position where he looks like he is about to smash into someone. Here is how he looks so far:

I plan to add more AoBR orks for linemen, some WFB Black Orcs, a few goblins and a stone troll. Early days yet though as I also want to get started on my Dark Angels from Dark Vengeance and make more progress on my Skaven. Until next time folks...

Gaming the OMT

Yanis Varoufakis explains why he thinks Mario Draghi's threat to enforce harsh austerity in exchange for unlimited liquidity is not credible.

Acemoglu and Robinson on Saving Europe

Here. I agree. I will be discussing this question as it relates to France at a conference in Syracuse at the Maxwell School Center for European Studies tomorrow and Saturday. Limited blogging until I get back.

Sarkozy Is Learning English

Maybe the Republicans should replace Romney with Sarkozy. He's a much better politician.

But Sarko might not fit with Republican mores:
Un mois plus tard, il est chez son ami Jean-Michel Goudard, à Mollégès dans le Luberon, dans la propriété que le publicitaire a rachetée à la veuve du PDG de M6 Jean Drucker. La maison a le confort des grands hôtels, la perfection esthétique des magazines de décoration et Nicolas Sarkozy s'est toujours amusé de ces mannequins à longues jambes et à conversation réduite dont s'entoure Goudard et qui paraissent posées autour de la piscine comme des objets de décoration.
And Carla? Is her conversation with the former head of state also "réduite?"

GMOs Again

A new study has been published with results said to be damning from one Monsanto-manufactured GMO, NK603, and the media are as usual off to the races. The government has reacted as well. Du calme, messieurs-dames. Let's allow the experts a chance to evaluate the study, by which I mean the statistics, not the lurid pictures of rats with bulging tumors. If I mention that there are other studies that draw different conclusions, I will be told that these were financed by Monsanto and therefore biased. Perhaps, but the critics fail to note that the present study was done by an avowed opponent of GMOs, so if interest is a priori evidence of bias, we cannot decide whom to believe. I will also be told that this study was of longer duration than previous studies. This may be significant but then again may not.

Search skills resource for history students, in French and German

Compas is a project og, which is a Swiss subject portal for the discipline of history. Compas is designed to be a resource for developing history students' information literacy and searching skills. The material is produced in two languages: French and German. I looked at the German version as my German is better than my French.
There are three themes: developing your own digital skills and support for your studies (e.g. using computers to help manage your work, take notes etc.); Researching topics in your discipline; Developing your network (including using social media, blogs and publication). For each there are subsections with advice (text is kept short), links, and the possibility to download the material in pdf.
For each theme there is a short video on the (mostly unfortunate) experience of a history student, done like silent films. Below is one of them (with German text, but I don't think you need to understand German to see what's going on). I think they are meant to convey "avoid being an idiot like Sophie" but I wonder whether it might rather say "you are doomed to fail". However the videos are professionally done and the rest of the resource is nice. But ... spot the librarian stereotype!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Digital Literacy Report: consultation

Consultation is open on the American Library Association's Digital Literacy Report, produced by their OITP Digital Literacy Task Force. This is an important area where it is obviously essential to stress the valuable role of libraries and librarians. You you not have to be an ALA member to comment, but you need to register with the ALA Connect system (free). Once you do that, and log in, a comment option appears at the bottom of the page. I haven't had time to look at it thoroughly, but my informal comment from a quick glance is that the definition of "digital literacy" seems too narrowly focused ("the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills") and although I can see why this happened in a library context, the digital literacy researchers I know stress the social aspect of digital literacy. I think it could be a good idea to acknowledge this, even if you go on to identify a spcial place for libraries/ librarians within that.
The report can be downloaded from.
Comments are open until October 19th. Thanks to Lyn Parker for alerting me to this report.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Autumn perspective, taken in Second Life, September 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Critique of Sarkozy's Special Regimes Reform

Bernard Girard calls my attention to this interesting critique of Sarkozy's reform of the special regimes at the RATP and SNCF. There were reports at the time that key interest groups were bought off with special "side payments" that were not publicly discussed. New research and a report by the Cour des Comptes appear to confirm this. Worth reading.

Chérèque Will Quit Leadership of CFDT

François Chérèque, who has led the CFDT since 2002, will retire in November and almost certainly be replaced by Laurent Berger, age 43. Chérèque's leadership will be remembered for his support of Fillon's retirement reform in 2002, a position he took without consultation with his members, leading to an eruption of internal and external opposition. But he survived and has reigned more or less tranquilly since then, to the point where his handpicked successor will undoubtedly be approved to replace him.

2 short research papers: Social Media as Information Source, and; Developing an IL game

Kim, K., Yoo-Lee, E. and Sin, S. (2011) Social Media as Information Source: Undergraduates’ Use and Evaluation Behavior. In: Proceedings of the 74rd ASIST Annual Meeting Retrieved 18 September 2012 from
An interesting short paper that reports on a survey of what sources students used, what they used them for and what evaluative strategies they used. For example Wikipedia was used for initially scoping a topic, and evaluated through looking at the links and sources, whereas Youtube was used for recreation and for instructions on how to do things, and was evaluated through the video quality and people's opinions.

Markey, K. and Leeder, C. (2011) The Effect of Scoring and Feedback Mechanisms
in an Online Educational Game. In: Proceedings of the 74rd ASIST Annual Meeting. Retrieved 18 September 2012 from

This describes the stages of piloting this information literacy game, and the changes that needed to be made as a result.

I discovered these 2 papers (and further interesting ones) as part of the October 2011 ASIST annual conference proceedings;
Photo by Sheila Webber: Blackheath Farmers' Market, September 2012

LILAC Conference in Manchester in 2013

It has been announced that the LILAC (annual information literacy) conference will take place at the University of Manchester (UK), 25-27 March 2013. The call for papers is not yet open.

Hollande Denounces Religious Fanaticism

François Hollande made a strong speech today condemning the fanaticism that claims the mantle of Islam.

«L'honneur des civilisations islamiques est d'être plus anciennes, plus vivantes et plus tolérantes que certains de ceux qui prétendent abusivement aujourd'hui parler en leur nom. Il est l'exact contraire de l'obscurantisme qui anéantit les principes et détruit les valeurs de l'Islam en portant la violence et la haine.»
And he said this in the presence of wealthy Muslim donors.

Destroyer Lord Conversion

Good evening children of Grandfather Nurgle and thank you for joining us once again in our dark corner of the warp. Today I would like to offer up a simple conversion I made for my Destroyer Lord.

This has come about due to all my 6th edition games being 2v2 with a 1000 points each. So far I have been using my Destroyer Lord model I made when I first started playing around three years ago, back then he used to sit back with a Resurrection Orb and Staff of Light babysitting two squads of destroyers.

Recently I have been using him with a squad of Wraiths and he needs a Warscythe, my gaming group is pretty easy going with model representation as they like to try new things out regularly. As I did have a big rant on how this is making me lazy and not wanting to sound like a hypocrite I have been slowly building up the models I use with the correct  war gear to try and sort this out.

To start I picked up a new Destroyer kit and attached an Overlord that came with an Annihilation barge to the spine. This needed a bit of trimming on the cape as rather than extend it over the back I wanted to give it a short ragged appearance to represent how he was once a powerful leader before he became a destroyer aeons ago.

Rather than the standard Warscythe the Overlord came with I swapped it for the one handed version that comes with the Lychguard kit I have been using for Cryptek parts as is a bit more imposing.

Overall this is was a very simple conversion which could have been taken much further though I am happy with the outcome. Hopefully soon he should be looking good leading my Wraiths on the battlefield if my current resurgence of hobby motivation stays with me.

Until next time keep Nurgle close to your heart and you shall never falter.

NKM and Le Maire Are Out

Neither Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet nor Bruno Le Maire has obtained enough parrainages to continue in the contest for the UMP leadership, which now becomes a duel between Copé and Fillon. Xavier Bertrand had previously announced that he was dropping out of the race in order to run for president, no matter who else might run, including Nicolas Sarkozy. I'm sure all of France and Navarre is delighted to hear the news and to know of Bertrand's resolute commitment to his restless ambition.

The Right to Vote for Foreigners

Seventy-five Socialist deputies have called on the president to make good on his promise to grant the right to vote in local elections to legal foreign residents of France. His interior minister, Manuel Valls, is hesitant to do so, however, because, as he euphemistically puts it, "there is no strong demand from the society" for such a move. Less delicately, he warns that any move in this direction would drive the right into the arms of the extreme right, possibly strengthening the enemy by weakening the deep internal division on the right that has done so much to empower the left. The reasoning is that, since foreigners would be expected to vote overwhelmingly for the left, even the non-xenophobic right would bitterly oppose the vote for reasons of self-interest rather than prejudice.

Yet a principle remains a principle. The 75 deputies are right. Hollande promised to grant the right to vote on principled grounds: legal residents of France should have a say in how they are governed. And if foreigners voted, all parties might be obliged to take greater account of their concerns and therefore take steps that could promote better integration.

Official Refuses to Marry Veiled Woman

An adjunct mayor in the Var refused to marry a couple because the bride was wearing a veil:

"Le foulard laissait voir son visage mais pas ses oreilles et la racine de ses cheveux", a-t-elle ajouté. Selon elle, l'adjointe au maire a estimé ne pas pouvoir vérifier l'identité de sa cliente. "On n'en fait pas une affaire d'Etat", a déclaré l'avocate, qui souligne que ses clients ne demandent pas de dommages-et-intérêts mais simplement "la célébration du mariage le plus vite possible". Elle avait déposé à la fin de la semaine dernière un référé d'heure à heure à l'encontre du préfet.
But what's unusual about a veiled bride? This was an "Islamic" veil, you say, not a good old-fashioned honest-to-God veil? Note that it wasn't a burka; the veil covered the bride's "ears" and "the roots of her hair." The official claimed that this made it impossible to verify her identity.


Monday, September 17, 2012

"The Embodied Self" Workshop with Hilary Bryan on Saturday, September 29th, 13:00 - 17:00, in Montreal, QC

With the support of  Département de danse de l’UQAM
​Pavillon de danse de l’UQAM, Département de danse, 840 rue Cherrier,  H2L 1J1
room K-1150 

Presenter's Bio:

Hilary Bryan is a Certified Movement Analyst based in San Francisco. Hilary is a movement artist and a recognized

some of my daily coverage of LFW for and