Will Donald Trump make or break Europe?

Angela Merkel Donald Trump 2017-03-17 (cropped)

This is an article I wrote back in March, which was shortlisted for the Nico Colchester Journalism fellowship. A few months on, I think the thrust of the analysis remains relevant, and I feel more sure of my argument.

Henry Kissinger once famously asked “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe,” supposedly illustrating the American desire for a single European voice on the world stage. Except, he didn’t. According to an anecdote published in the Financial Times, the master of Realpolitik did not like dealing with the President of the Council of European Union as the spokesman for the entire organisation, and rather seemed to want to divide and rule in Europe. Continue reading Will Donald Trump make or break Europe?


Did a thirty-year-old book about television predict Donald Trump?

Donald Trump Laconia Rally, Laconia, NH 4 by Michael Vadon July 16 2015 03
He has been lauded as prophetic. Trump’s ascent “would not have surprised” him, according to CNN. His son said he foresaw a celebrity president with fascistic tendencies. Google searches for his book spiked at a five-year high on February 3rd, just days after Trump’s inauguration.

Neil Postman published Amusing Ourselves to Death in 1985, a few years after a man with a show business background became a Republican president (a certain Ronald Reagan). Can this book help explain why Americans have now elected Donald Trump? Continue reading Did a thirty-year-old book about television predict Donald Trump?

Book review: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Barneveld, Wisconsin - 101109

Nickolas Butler started writing Shotgun Lovesongs racked with loneliness in an uninspiring rented room in a woman’s house away from home. It’s exactly how one of the protagonists of the book, musician Leland Sutton, writes his first album, also called Shotgun Lovesongs. The book and the album also share a key motif: the awe the artist has for where he calls home. Butler grew up in a Wisconsin town called Eau Claire, which in the book is next to the fictional town of Little Wing where Leland (or Lee) and his friends come from, and where most of the action is set. (Incidentally, Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon is from Eau Claire and went to school with Butler, and so is perhaps a template for the character of Lee.) Continue reading Book review: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

final alternative Olympics medal table

I have done a final version of my alternative medal table (updated to include New Zealand’s extra gold medal in athletics at the expense of Belarus after shot put champion Nadzeya Ostapchuk failed a doping test). The alternative table gives equal weighting to all sports. Therefore, it should give a slightly better indication of overall sporting strength than the real medal table, which does not take into account that there are far more gold medals available in some sports than others. I’ve explained more about how the table works here.

The two superpowers of the West and East are at the top of the alternative table: the USA first then China close behind in second. After a big points gap Russia are in third, squeaking past Great Britain in fourth. After another big points gap come Germany, France and Korea, then after another substantial points gap Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands complete the top ten. Ten of the top 15 are European countries. African countries do not do well, perhaps because athletics, where most African gold medals came from, does not get many points in the alternative table (as there are so many athletics gold medals, each one is worth less). Brazil, hosts of the 2016 Games, are 12th, the second highest nation in the table in the Americas. Continue reading final alternative Olympics medal table

Alternative Olympics medal table… again

Cropped transparent version of Image:Olympic f...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

final version of alternative Olympics medal table here

Here’s the third update of my alternative medal table – the first two are here and here. They explain what it is in more detail, but basically it is different to the ‘real’ table, which just ranks countries on number of gold medals (then silver then bronze) because it gives equal weighting to every sport in the Olympics. This means a nation winning half the gold medals in a sport with lots of events, like swimming, gives the same number of points as winning half the golds in a sport with fewer medals, like Archery. There are ten points available for each sport. Continue reading Alternative Olympics medal table… again

Alternative Olympics medal table – updated

Usain Bolt in celebration about 1 or 2 seconds...
His gold is worth less than one in the modern pentathlon (Photo credit: Wikipedia) CC Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 license

update of alternative medal table here

final version here

I’ve updated my alternative Olympic medal table (see details and the table from two days ago here). I explained how it worked in the previous post, but in brief the table gives equal weighting to all 36 sports at the Olympic (I decided something is a ‘sport’ if classified as such by London 2012), so it aims to show how successful nations are at doing well across a whole range of sports. In practice, this means a gold medal won in a sport where there are lots of events, like athletics, is worth less in my table than a gold medal in a sport where there are less events, like table tennis. Continue reading Alternative Olympics medal table – updated

Alternative Olympics medal table

2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Gold Medal, Tara No...
Are all gold medals equal? (Photo credit: Wikipedia) CC Attribution 2.0 license

first update of alternative medal table here

second update here

final version here

The Olympic medal table is fascinating. Fascinating because it is a system of classification for almost every nation in the world across such a diverse range of sports. Scrutinising it is one of the many joys of the Olympic Games. However, one of its flaws is that some sports are given much more weighting than others because in these sports far more medals are given. There are 34 gold medals in swimming, yet in team sports like basketball and handball there are just two. Continue reading Alternative Olympics medal table