Let Rhythmbox play MP3 again

Today I noticed Rhythmbox not playing some music files in Debian. After a bit of digging around, I noticed the warning “your gstreamer installation is missing a plugin” in the file properties. From there it wasn’t far to realize that MP3 files did not play in Rhythmbox (any more), and that I probably need a (new) plugin (it’s Debian ‘unstable’ after all, so this was probably introduced by a recent update). sudo apt install gstreamer1.0-fluendo-mp3 and restarting Rhythmbox was all I needed to do.

Panicking for Half an Hour

The other day I was finishing off supplementary material for an accepted article, and had a major panic for half an hour. It all started with my adding a simple frequency table of the outcome variable: a binary variable. When I checked the PDF it turned out that I have miscoded the outcome variable (at least this is what it looked like) — instead of 60% 1s, I had 40% 1s. What to do? No, I didn’t think the substantive results would have been completely different, so I could have done major work on the page proof, replacing every number in the paper. For a moment I considered ‘unseeing’ what I discovered and bet on the likely case that nobody ever would replicate my findings despite my making all the code and data available. I could even have removed that line where I promise the replication code during the page proof. Ethically defensible this would not have been. Retraction passed my mind. Fortunately, it turned out that there was a benign reason. After going back to and quadruple checking the questionnaire, the raw data, and all the recoding and code, it turned out that I simply wrongly labelled that table of the outcome variable. Relief and feeling silly for panicking.

Estimating party positions on immigration: Assessing the reliability and validity of different methods

ppqa_23_3.coverIt’s been in the making for a long time, but I’m happy to announce that Laura Morales and my paper on estimating party positions on immigration is now available from Party Politics. In the paper we provide a systematic assessment of various methods to position political parties on immigration based on their electoral platforms. We do this for Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK, between 1993 and 2013. There high levels of consistency between expert positioning, manual sentence-by-sentence coding, and manual checklist coding; and poor or inconsistent results with the CMP/MARPOR, Wordscores, Wordfish, and the dictionary approach. An often-neglected method – manual coding using checklists – offers resource efficiency with no loss in validity or reliability. Now there is really no excuse any more for using old CMP data and pretend that they really were about immigration… (with the new subcodes in the most recent codebook things will probably improve for the CMP/MARPOR positions).

We’ve started this as an internal project for the SOM project (hence 7 of the 8 countries), simply because we (thought we) needed party positions on immigration over time. Wary of the time it takes to manually code party manifestos, we tried a few methods. There are two more we have tried but not pursued to the same extent, namely using a dictionary of keywords and Wordfish estimates on the entire text of the party platforms (i.e. without manually selecting the parts of the manifestos that are about immigration). These are not ‘dead’ yet, but we need further tests to ensure we know what they measure.

There’s an 102-page supplement available from the journal’s website.