297 – How do Caliphates emerge?

August 21, 2014
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ISIS, an Islamist group, has declared the Caliphate on the border between Syria and northern Iraq, quickly expanding and even menacing Bagdhad. Pundits have conjured images of Islamic warriors on a worldwide jihad.[1] What is one to make of the claim? It may be useful to look at the historical evidence of how the last […]

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296 – The uncertain ethics of Ebola treatments

August 17, 2014
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An Ebola epidemic has been foregrounded recently. A discussion has emerged on how to treat patients with currently available experimental drugs.[1] Going over the arguments is interesting, for it sheds uncertain light on our capacity to think rationally. At the core, the argument is that the experimental drug should have been given in the framework […]

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295 – Ephemera III

August 8, 2014
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Two styles of rhetoric I have just finished a book on the emergence of the Czechoslovakian Army in Italy, at the end of World War I.[1] It contains both documents of the period and current contributions. It allows me irreverently to compare styles of rhetoric. The wording of a document from 1920 uses verbs throughout. […]

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294 – On the origins of World War I

July 27, 2014
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World War I was unexpected, and for most, inexplicable. A hundred years later, as the anniversary looms, it has become the disconsolate symbol of “historical discontinuity.” Today’s gloomy Zeitgeist (particularly in the West) drives many pessimistic pundits to prophesize imminent doom – it is vulgar “cycles of history.” Ominous patterns and analogies are seen everywhere. […]

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293 – Two ways in dealing with corruption

July 25, 2014
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Corruption – the improper mixing of public and private interest – is one of the scourges of contemporary society. How should we go about fighting it? The Western way is the “rule of law:” legislation defines what corruption is, and an independent judiciary pursues those breaking the law – first indicted, first tried. Separation and […]

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292 – A tragic destiny: Subhas Chandra Bose

June 28, 2014
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I’m not sure how many people outside India know of Subhas Chandra Bose[1] – a major leader of this country’s independence movement who, after escaping from The British Raj at the onset of WWII, set up the Provisional Government of Free India as well as the India National Army (INA) in the shadow of Japan. […]

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291 – The ambiguity which is China

June 23, 2014
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QIU Xiaolong has published another “Chief Inspector CHEN” mystery with the title “Enigma of China.” There is nothing wrong with the book – except the title, which was probably chosen to lure jaded readers. Let me explain. The term “enigma” coms from the Greek (αινιγμα) via Latin, and means: “A dark, obscure, or inexplicable saying; […]

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