Here we discuss the orientation of some churches dedicated to Hagia Sophia, the Holy Wisdom. We can see that four of them have alignment along the direction of the sunrise on solstices (one of the churches is Hagia Sophia in Constantinople). Our discussion focuses, in particular, on alignments of the churches with respect to the decumani of the town in which we find them, in the case the town had a planning of Roman origin (Constantinople, Thessaloniki and Sofia). For Hagia Sophia in Nicaea, we consider its Hellenistic grid-plan with its streets, the plateiai, corresponding to the Roman decumani.
By documenting the harsh realities of the era, The Grapes of Wrath (‘GOW’) calls to mind those distressing UN Country Reports that both describe and denounce avoidable landscapes of poverty, hunger, homelessness, and dispossession. Steinbeck embeds the novel’s harrowing images within an unforgiving framework of human rights violations, most of which flow directly from human greed. The novel’s prescient yet timeless warnings speak not only to the various humanitarian crises brought about by climate change and unethical commercial practices, but also to many ongoing, perennial global atrocities: corrupt political regimes, gendered injustices, ethnic cleansing, and displacement of entire populations. It is landscapes such as these that still serve to both spark and underpin refugee existence: the need for a compassionate system of asylum-granting, firmly grounded in human rights law, clearly remains as urgent now as it was in Steinbeck’s time. As witnesses to such chronic disregard for human dignity, readers of the novel are not only tasked with judging those responsible: we must also evaluate the perennial failings of the various global and domestic systems that have enabled and perpetuated such egregious rights violations. The final scene, drenched in symbolism, still serves as a quasi-courtroom: before the bared breast of a Lady Justice figure we become jurists, and cannot help apportioning blame for all that has been witnessed over the course of the Joad’s journeying. A close reading now, almost a century later, serves as a timely reminder that similar atrocities continue: migrant and refugee populations remain especially vulnerable, not least where they have been displaced by poverty or political crises from all that was once familiar. This article argues that the novel’s central focus on “social realism” demands much in the way of “moral and emotional effort” (Benson, 9) from the reader: we should leave the book with nothing less than a highly “active compassion for the dispossessed” (Wyatt, 12). It is perhaps best viewed as a collection of first-hand witness testimonies, akin to those gathered and collated by the United Nations (UN) various Committees and which serve to reveal, record, and address the horrendously fine detail of abject human rights violations and their impacts upon the most vulnerable. It is Steinbeck’s “consistently catchy eyewitness quality” (De Mott, xiii) which both brings and retains this timeless sense of urgency and immediacy, without directing any clear response: it is up to the conscience of the individual reader to determine how best to process or address the various challenges presented.
The attached article describes an innovative approach to reducing, managing and insuring IT project risk. The article represents a rebuttal to Flyvbjerg’s and Budzier’s September 2011, Harvard Business Review Idea Watch article entitled, 'Why Your IT Project May Be Riskier Than You Think'.The article shows how Flvyberg and Budzier err in categorizing runaway IT projects as 'black swans' and in proposing steps to accommodate, rather than attack, IT project risk. The article then challenges accepted wisdom, which focuses on operational risk management as the key to improving IT productivity. Instead, the article argues that by using underwriting to manage IT projects as a portfolio of risks, root causes of failure can be identified and reduced/eliminated, with excess risk transferred via insurance or reinsurance.Given the massive waste and business opportunity costs arising from failed IT projects, even a minute percentage decrease in failed projects will dramatically improve IT productivity and business results.
This study analyses oil price movements through the lens of an agnostic random forest model, which is based on 1,000 regression trees. It shows that this highly disciplined, yet flexible computational model reduces in sample root mean square errors by 65% relative to a standard linear least square model that uses the same set of 11 explanatory factors. In forecasting exercises the RMSE reduction ranges between 51% and 68%, highlighting the relevance of non linearities in oil markets. The results underscore the importance of incorporating financial factors into oil models: US interest rates, the dollar and the VIX together account for 39% of the models RMSE reduction in the post 2010 sample, rising to 48% in the post 2020 sample. If Covid 19 is also considered as a risk factor, these shares become even larger.
This paper addresses the question of the value attached by residents to the wealth of cultural heritage in their city. Particular attention is given to the impact of various types of information (ranging from traditional to advanced ICT sources) on residents' valuation of cultural heritage. Based on an extensive survey among inhabitants of Amsterdam, a two-stage analytical approach is adopted: (i) an econometric (ordered logit) modelling approach to identify the most prominent vectors of residents' appreciation of cultural heritage; and (ii) a microsimulation modelling approach to generate a comprehensive picture of the value set of inhabitants regarding the cultural heritage in their city. The information obtained may serve as the basis for urban strategies with regard to tourism policy, cultural heritage planning and information services management.
A Field Guide to “Fake News” and Other Information Disorders explores the use of digital methods to study false viral news, political memes, trolling practices and their social life online. It responds to an increasing demand for understanding the interplay between digital platforms, misleading information, propaganda and viral content practices, and their influence on politics and public life in democratic societies.
This case study investigates anecdotes and claims about Alexander Technique founding father Frederick Matthias Alexander who allegedly „treated" numerous eminent Edwardian London actresses and actors. Research shows it is advisable to question those stories and claims.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) enacted by the Westminster Parliament applies to public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and to UK public authorities that operate in Scotland e.g. the BBC, whilst the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), promulgated by the Scottish Parliament, applies to Scottish public authorities. Both Acts commenced on 1st January 2005, and have been hailed as success stories – helping the public and the press to obtain information on issues such as: problems with a nuclear reactor, inadequate health services, school closures, a lack of suitable quality housing for people with disabilities and so forth. Nevertheless, FOIA has been described as ‘a brilliant piece of trompe l’oeil, a sheep in wolf’s clothing,’ appearing to offer a legally enforceable right of access to governmental information subject only to specified and justifiable exemptions when, in fact, it offers weak information access rights. By contrast, it has been asserted that ‘Scotland has most robust Freedom of Information regime in the UK.’ A two-strand approach is used to test the veracity of these claims and determine whether both jurisdictions have freedom of information laws that are fit for purpose as the Acts enter their second decade. Firstly, an assessment of the degree of compliance of both Acts with principles that have been endorsed by the United Nations as forming the normative foundations of freedom of information laws is undertaken. Secondly, the Acts are compared to ascertain whether FOISA does in fact offer stronger information access rights than FOIA, and if so, what lessons the UK could draw upon to strengthen FOIA. The analysis will demonstrate that the Acts are creatures of their respective Parliaments and that distinct ‘political cultures’ have influenced their evolution over the past ten years leading to significant divergences between the two. It concludes that, at present, FOISA offers stronger information access rights whereas FOIA offers weaker rights, but both Acts should be amended to ensure full compliance with the UN endorsed principles if both jurisdictions are to have information rights that are fit for purpose as the Acts enter their second decade.
The present work deals with a dark energy model that has an oscillating scalar field potential along with a cosmological constant (CC). The oscillating part of the potential represents the contribution of a light axion field in the dark energy that has its origin in the String-Axiverse scenario. The model has been confronted with the latest cosmological observations. The results show that a sub-Planckian value of the axion field decay constant is consistent with observational data. Furthermore, in terms of the observational data considered in this work, the axion model is preferred over the $\Lambda$CDM model in terms of AIC, BIC information criteria as well as in terms of Bayesian evidence. The oscillating feature in the scalar field evolution and in the equation of state for the dark energy can be observed for the allowed parameters space. It is also observed that cluster number counts in this axion model are suppressed compared to the $\Lambda$CDM and this suppression is enhanced for the sub-Planckian values for the axion decay constant. Comment: 16 pages, LateX style. Revised Version with new data analysis. Some previous results have been strengthened
Abstract Data from 25 large U.S. cities is assembled to estimate the impact of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on crime. There is a widespread immediate drop in both criminal incidents and arrests most heavily pronounced among drug crimes, theft, residential burglaries, and most violent crimes. The decline appears to precede stay-at-home orders, and arrests follow a similar pattern as reports. There is no decline in homicides and shootings, and an increase in non-residential burglary and car theft in most cities, suggesting that criminal activity was displaced to locations with fewer people. Pittsburgh, New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Chicago each saw overall crime drops of at least 35%. Evidence from police-initiated reports and geographic variation in crime change suggests that most of the observed changes are not due to changes in crime reporting.