Sunday, 22 November 2009

Seeking an entry point into the literature

So, can any political scientist/economist out there give me an academic reference about Parliament's oversight role? I know about the literature on Congressional oversight of bureaucracy - patrols and fire alarms, etc. - is there something similar for oversight of the executive and the Cabinet? It would be nice to know about any modelling work, but classics would also be interesting.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Why is the EU seen as out of touch? Why oh why can that be?

"The [EU Human Rights] Charter is possibly the most wide-ranging human rights treaty in the world today. There are civil rights, political rights, social rights, ecological entitlements, rights for the arts, consumer rights."

Seriously. I'm trying to imagine what rights for the arts are.


OK, read it. Mostly it's a combination of the innocuous and the innocuous-but-meaningless - lots of phrases like "in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of this right." (I.e., the EU can't violate this right but national governments can carry on as they were before.)

The stuff on collective bargaining, however, is hilarious.

Article 28
Right of collective bargaining and action
Workers and employers, or their respective organisations, have, in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices, the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and, in cases of conflicts of interest, to take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action.

Article 29
Right of access to placement services
Everyone has the right of access to a free placement service.
Yes! At last, the natural demand of every human for a Jobcentre has been recognized! I think this right was first mentioned by Cicero in his classic treatise "de Jure Naturale Doleblodgiandi".


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

lme false convergence

If you are using the R package lme4, and get error messages about "false convergence", then use the option verbose=TRUE in your call to lmer, and examine the output, which shows how the estimates of your betas change as the estimation proceeds. If you see any values for your betas are rather small, then divide that variable by 10 or 100 or 1000. This seems to help lmer to converge correctly.