359 – What is virtue?

March 8, 2016
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(My readings tend to be peripatetic, whimsical, and the prey of serendipity. I had started exploring the concept of virtue, which had come across my path,[1] when another book[2] – published in 1987, bought in 1996, and never read, fell on the floor as I was rifling through the library. Here is a makeshift reflection […]

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358 – Is IT transforming democracy?

March 4, 2016
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Random legislative amendment generator A two-column headline in an Italian newspaper has reminded me this morning of the hidden transformative powers of IT for our political process. A far-right politician has devised a “random legislative amendment generator” allowing him and his band of brothers to table what are in fact clones of amendments.[1] The parliamentary […]

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356 – Three outstanding US diplomats

February 12, 2016
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I have often expressed a dim view of the state as “unitary diplomatic actor.” It is a recipe for diplomatic disaster. For one, it never happens in practice. It is not a good strategy for the turnkey to assume and assert that it can fly. Second, it stifles discussion and justified dissent. I am not […]

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355 – The US Presidential elections: A preview from the past

January 27, 2016
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Shigeru MIZUKI has published a three-volume manga: History of Japan Showa. It is a mix of both micro-history (his growing up in that period) and macro-history: Japan during the first part of Hirohito’s reign. The following quote may apply to the forthcoming US Presidential election: (One reads the balloons from right to left) The third […]

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354 – Time out for a bit of mischievous fun

January 24, 2016
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Each year, since hundreds of years, a group of Incas rebuilds a bridge across a canyon. They are experts at using ropes – in fact, lines and knots were used to record and calculate before Westerns came with paper, ink and abacus. Here is the video showing how the community went about it: https://youtu.be/dql-D6JQ1Bc One […]

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353 – Is there “diplomatic theory”?

January 20, 2016
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The diplomat, so the theory, is the agent of the principal – the state. The diplomat is tasked to pursue the goals of the state with respect to other states in the framework of international relations. In the best sense of the word, diplomats are golems. The agent has no independent agency. In practice, diplomats […]

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352 – Do states “strive to attain as many resources as possible?”

January 16, 2016
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Ubi fracassorium, ibi figgitorium Pulcinella[1] This view of the acquisitive “group” or state (as from quote in 350) would seem– at first sight to originate in auto-referential arcade games, where scoring maximum points is the aim. Are states relentless maximizers or rather optimizers? This question warrants closer inspection. I am somewhat puzzled that a “realist” […]

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