Bad move, Leo


Maybe we shouldn’t blame St Leo for the Orthodox/Roman split in 1054 (seems like only yesterday, doesn’t it?). But he certainly teed it up for his Legate, wonderfully named Humbert, whose was the proximate curial slipper that kicked over the hornet’s nest. Not quite a thousand years later, the consequences continue to reverberate:

Syriza in Athens and Putin in Moscow: An Unholy Alliance?

[Oy vey!] the troubling attitudes of Syriza and its leaders in foreign policy…

Syriza has chosen to rule in alliance with 13 deputies from the rightist party of Independent Greeks, which gives the new government a majority. But why did a militant neo-Marxist phenomenon like Syriza find itself wedded to a conservative force like the Independent Greeks?

Information about the background of this puzzling lash-up is dismaying, and indicators point to meddling from Moscow….

The first foreign official to visit prime minister Tsipras was Russian ambassador Andrey Maslov, who soon invited defense minister Kammenos to visit Moscow. Putin echoed the welcome. Meanwhile, aside from its criticism of European economic policies, the Tsipras cabinet has dissociated itself definitively from Western sanctions against Moscow over the seizure of Crimea and other Russian armed intrigues in Ukraine.

This piece was written by somebody named Steven Schwartz, who seems to be associated with an organization called “The Institute for Islamic Pluralism”. (Funny… you don’t *look* Islamic.) But of course other, less obviously ridiculous figures have worried about some sort of entente between Syriza and Russia. With good reason, I hope and pray; and my prayers on this topic ascend in Latin and Greek impartially. In fact I may brush off the Old Church Slavonic grammar and make a stab at that.

Ah, those Greeks. Not only are they making a break from Miss Merkel’s Austerity Academy; they seem to be going AWOL from the NATO citadel.

This all makes me very very happy.

Big data, big dreams


We all know that Google and Amazon and Facebook know everything about us, right? This bothers some people — it bothers me, for example — and not others. But what bothers the Chronicle of Higher Education is that the lords of Big Data aren’t sharing it with… academics:

[W]hat should be an opportunity for social science is now threatened by a three-headed monster of privatization, amateurization, and Balkanization. A coordinated public effort is needed to overcome all of these obstacles….

While many folks are legitimately concerned about privacy in an era of Internet giants, we think that these private firms and public-sector agencies should be made to share their data more—not less—but with the National Science Foundation, not the National Security Agency….

Rather than just apply to Yahoo to work with its data in a silo, researchers would be able to link such proprietary data to other, diverse sources of information including those of other firms and government agencies, or even to newly collected information.

Gotta admire the chutzpah.