Category Archives: statistics

Drips 4 January 2010

Happy New Year to my two readers. Cruft for the first Monday of the teenies:

  • Ban This Game, an entertaining-looking game which lands a few kidney punches on the authoritarian and self-defeating approach to Internet monitoring being taken by the Australian government. Devs, please make it a flash game that we don’t have to install! Via [socialissuegames] mailing list.
  • On a related note, who knew there was a Serious Games movement? If you did, and didn’t say, you’re now dead to me. Anyhow, I’ll write more about this down the line, since I think it is a medium that is both underused and misused in civil society and humanitarian work. Here’s a nice compendium of games about human rights issues.
  • Since the 00’ies seems to have been the decade of the list, the UN has released a list of 60 ways that it makes a difference, though it might have spread better had it been a funky visualisation. Gadflys might find it amusing to compiles a list of 60 ways the UN has been indifferent this year, to counter this rather self-congratulatory exercise.
  • In related news, the seemingly obscure UN Directorate of Ethics is seeking a new Director (link probably dead after 15 January 2010), with a gross salary of around £150,000 (D2 + adjustment). On her/his reading list should be the enormous number of audit, procurement review and disciplinary reports from UN bodies wrung out onto WikiLeaks.
  • A terrific article in openDemocracy by Grigory Dikov about the cases submitted from Russia that the European Court for Human Rights has rejected: “So we see a paradox: Russian citizens write to the Court en masse, yet do not understand the Court is unlikely to be able to help. The Court, on the other hand, devotes enormous resources towards processing the flow of applications, the vast majority of which are doomed to failure. Many argue that the Court has become a victim of its own success. It could well be a good thing were the Court to become less popular, and consequently better able to concentrate on the issues for which it was created”. The ECHR’s raw case management statistics are online (PDF – large-ish), and make for quite interesting reading: “In 2008 49,850 applications were allocated to a judicial formation, an overall increase of 20% compared with 2007 (41,650). 38,800 of these were identified as Committee cases likely to be declared inadmissible (an increase of 16% in relation to 2007). 11,050 were identified as Chamber cases (an increase of 36%).” Given 29% of cases are pending for over three years, it seems the efforts made about communicating the ECHR’s mandate effectively need a serious rethink. 

That’s your fill. Now go to work slackers.

Drip Drips 19 December 2009

Caught, sloshed:

  1. Indian sort-of-Sikh religious sect Dera Sacha Sauda starts a drive to “to halt the spread of HIV by offering respectable options to sex workers” by finding volunteers to marry them. The Beeb could have made a little effort and contacted organised sex workers to see what they think about this.
  2. On a sort-of-related theme, Prostitution and trafficking – the anatomy of a moral panic by Nick Davies (him of the magnificent Flat Earth News), from October 2009. His article tracks back to source the numbers of trafficked sex workers that various UK political, charitable and governmental groups have used over the last decade. In 1998, researchers found 71 women who had been “trafficked” (according to a very wide definition), and – with strong caveats about lack of sources and accuracy – estimated the prevalence might be 20 times greater: so, 1,420. In 2000, this figure was quoted  as a certainty by a group called Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe (CHASTE – oh please) and recycled by Crimestoppers. The Home Office researched the issue again in 2002, and – with suitable warnings about risk and accuracy – published a figure of 3,812 women working against their will in the UK. In June 2006, this was rounded up to 4,000 by Home Office minister Vernon Coaker, a number that was recycled by numerous charities including Care, the Salvation Army, and Anti-Slavery International. The real leap comes in 2007 from Denis MacShane MP, who announced in the Commons “according to Home Office estimates, 25,000 sex slaves currently work in the massage parlours and brothels of Britain”, a figure for which there was no Home Office research at all. The Mirror picked this up. In a later speech, MacShane used the figure of 18,000 from the police’s Operation Pentameter 2 sitrep: the police denied this was anywhere to be found. An leak to the Guardian of further analysis from Pentameter 2 said that after six months of raids on brothels to took for trafficked women, only 11 had been “made safe”. Another remarkable tale of churnalism? Not everyone agrees, accusing Davies of the falling for the trap of suggesting that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. UK groups are not alone in finding data gathering on trafficking hard, as this GAO report outlines.
  3. Moderately interesting linkswap between security geeks Drew Conway and John Robb over a recent piece of research in Nature about power laws and insurgency (which you can’t read, because it’s behind a paywall). The paper itself can be downloaded from the author’s Mathematics of War site (thanks for correcting me on that Neil).