Topic: Uncategorized

Tweets on this topic

No tweets found yet. Tweet with the session tags to see your messages here.

Associated blog posts

Blog post included here have used #Uncategorized in their title

About 6 million years ago, the chimpanzees, the bonobos, and hominids divided up the realm of Pan, their Common Ancestor. Looking at the apish offspring today, we see a shared tendency for alpha males/females...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
51 weeks 43 min ago View original post.

Alain TESTART has written a brilliant analysis of “transfers” in socio-anthropological terms.[1]...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
51 weeks 5 days ago View original post.

The New York Times is having a debate in its “Room for debate”. The title is: “Does Diplomacy Need Star Power? Can celebrity ‘ambassadors’ who get involved in diplomacy or antipoverty efforts do more harm than good?” Six opinions have been put forth. The...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 5 weeks ago View original post.

The internet washes up all sorts of flotsam. Along the way,  comments attach themselves to an innocent photo, affording me an opportunity for a rumination on cultural differences.

I’ve received this photo both from people in Europe and the US

 ...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 5 weeks ago View original post.

Pity, in a way, China’s Emperor Qianlong[1]. The “Lord of the Civilized Word” (this was his title) personally supervised an extensive bureaucracy reporting to him either by the “open” or the “confidential” channel. He read all correspondence and marked it: “Noted”, “What’s all this stuff?” or roundly abused the mandarin: “...

1 year 20 weeks ago View original post.

Pity, in a way, China’s Emperor Qianlong[1]. The “Lord of the Civilized Word” (this was his title) personally supervised an extensive bureaucracy reporting to him either by the “open” or the “confidential” channel. He read all correspondence and marked it: “Noted”, “What’s all this stuff?” or roundly abused the mandarin: “...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 20 weeks ago View original post.

Twenty years ago “good governance” became the buzz-word among theoreticians of economic development. Once in place, “good government” would spearhead the drive toward development. Mick MOORE[1] has recently made rather skeptical assessment of the success of this latest of “development theories”.

“Better governance would...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 24 weeks ago View original post.

When I first mentioned to a diplomatic friend my intention of writing a blog entry on “diplomats without borders” I was met with incredulity. “Diplomats are the peacetime gate keepers at the border! You can’t have diplomats without borders.”

Are borders “vital”? An interesting question – and one which is worth a short visit to Africa and its history, for Africa emerged from its...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 27 weeks ago View original post.

It’s a twisting lane winding its way between by squat buildings huddled together. People mill back and forth creating confusion. Small shops, following one another, spill trashy products onto the narrow passage. The air is stale, and so is the sun; dust thickens into stench. A man notices your surreptitious glance at his colorful wares and makes an inviting gesture as he mentions an...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 27 weeks ago View original post.

The Ford Edsel[1] was one of the “greatest brand blunders of all times” – a car designed by market experts that never sold. By the time it came on line in 1958-1960 taste had changed. Ford’s CEO happened to be Robert McNamara, who built the next Edsel: the Vietnam war[2]....

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 28 weeks ago View original post.

In 175 I’ve described Positive Deviance (PD) and given some examples from the field. I hope they were intriguing enough to get you to reflect on this “new” approach. Now I’d like to muse on its underlying assumptions and try to guess where, and under what conditions, one may use PD, and what potential may be in store.

To do this I may start from a criticism that the book’s authors...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 29 weeks ago View original post.

It probably is just a further instance of ignorance on my part. I’d never heard of “positive deviance” (PD) as a way to “solve the world’s toughest problems”[1]. The existence of “positive deviance” was noted 25 years ago, and first used as an approach to bring about sustainable change in a community five years later. Meanwhile it...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 29 weeks ago View original post.

One has more “good ideas” that he can cope with – especially early in the morning after the first coffee cup or late at night as the last whisky glass slowly warms in one’s hand. How to separate wheat from chaff?

Here is a suggestion: Make a randomized control trial (RTC) – it might contribute to the answer. In such an experiment some (chosen at random) get the benefit of the idea...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 30 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve just come across a case of human-made evolution, and I want to share it with you. Those who have more curiosity, or time, can see the whole story on the net[1]. Others may get the just of it – and my reflections – below.

Unilever makes powder soap for your washing machine. The process begins with mixing of component...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 30 weeks ago View original post.

The following statement was posted for discussion in an Internet governance group:

I’m not sure I understand what you mean, but the core meaning of Freedom of Expression is the right to offend, and in particular to disparage and ridicule opinions and creeds of any kind, whether political, religious, moral, ethical, whatever. (Exceptions like libel apply to people,...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 31 weeks ago View original post.

How do you get a bright and new idea, or the clever turn of phrase that illuminates your thought? By staring stoically at a well-lit light bulb until by empathy the “outer” bulb ignites the “inner” one? By heroically grappling with the problem in a tryst with will?

Think about if for a second and let me know. I’m sure I’ll gather many totally different methods in this way.

...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 32 weeks ago View original post.

In 165 I’ve shown how difficult it is to carry out a calculus of “human dignity” – we can’t compensate those who are being made worse off.

Let me explore now the operative meaning of “human dignity”. I’d argue that this concept is too vague to be of any use for political guidance. Let’s travel to one of my favorite historical places: China, better to understand this predicament....

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 32 weeks ago View original post.

The conventional trope is that democracy emerged in Athens, 2’500 years ago. Never mind that it did not last long and enjoyed a thoroughly bad press after the political experiment failed (Plato for one hated it, and Aristophanes savaged it is his comedies). Or that those who argued in the agora were in a sense an oligarchy: about 5’000 men together as “equals under the law”,...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 33 weeks ago View original post.
1 year 34 weeks ago View original post.

My brother recently asked me whether I thought a more rational democratic process could ever eventuate. I harummed a few times, preened my logical feathers, and waffled from social, political, and economic theory. My answer was skeptical – and less than convincing.

Then I watched the trailer of a documentary from China a friend had just forwarded to me. I must share it. It shows...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 34 weeks ago View original post.

New York’s Mayor Michael BLOOMBERG wants to ban the sale of soft drinks in super-sized containers. He argues that this will cut down on obesity, which is rampant in the city.

On the surface the Mayor’s “bright idea” smacks of old-time regulatory religion: tell the people what they can and cannot do. No wonder the proposal was greeted with hoots and ridicule. Libertarians...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 34 weeks ago View original post.

Julian Assange has spent the last few months in the Ecuadorian embassy in London awaiting a decision about his request for diplomatic asylum, which Ecuador granted earlier this morning (16 August 2012).  A few days ago, the United Kingdom warned Ecuador that Assange could be arrested by force. But can he? Can UK authorities enter the...

Originally blogged by: Jovan Kurbalija
1 year 35 weeks ago View original post.

(a contrarian query)

I’ll admit to a disinterest – I do not watch Olympic Games (and very few professional sport events).

...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 36 weeks ago View original post.

John KEEGAN, the great historian of warfare[1], just died. After studying warfare all his life he came to the startling conclusion: “Keegan’s book serves as a potent counterpoint to—and more, refutation of—popular claims by scientists such as Richard WRANGHAM and Edward O. WILSON that war stems from deep-rooted biological impulses...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 37 weeks ago View original post.

At the outset of his book Walter Russell MEAD[1] contrasts “continental realism – the belief that countries are driven by interests and the quest for power in international relations rather than ideals and benevolence” (pg. 35) with American foreign policy and concludes that “these assumptions simply do not apply to American...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 37 weeks ago View original post.

Mankind is soon likely to achieve the distinction of being the first animal species that has affected climate. Before, it was the planet itself, and plants. This is the short summary of David BEERLING’s fascinating book[1].

For the most part of its history the earth’s climate resulted from planetary history –...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 38 weeks ago View original post.

A friend of mine asked me, the other day, whether I was worried about the impending gravitational effect of the alignment[1] between the Sun and the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy (known as Sagittarius A*) – creating havoc on Earth.

Some believers in a 21st December 2012 doomsday have...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 38 weeks ago View original post.

Italy is in a time of crisis. One could expatiate as to the short- or long-term causes of the situation. I’ll leave it to the pundits.

How do Italians react to increased economic difficulties – how do they cope? A recent article[1] sheds some light on this matter. 80 billion € are spent annually on legal gambling (lotteries...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 38 weeks ago View original post.

Katharina – who initiated my blog 137 – replied to it in this way:

In a very thoughtful piece titled “Don’t blame man, blame the Polynesian rat” Aldo Matteucci warned about the dangers of analogies (and metaphors for that matter). He did so in a reply to...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 40 weeks ago View original post.

(Darwin and diplomacy)

Many have been told in their youth that God zapped the soul into one’s body – the “spiritual essence” that makes one human (we messed it all up by committing original sin, but that’s another, over-gloomy, story). The analogy is a “homunculus” – a little person within our person – who is responsible for all the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 40 weeks ago View original post.

Admittedly – it’s the silly season. Articles get published at the moment that would hardly have a chance any other month of the year. Amy ZALMAN in The Globalist has just published the necrology of “soft power”[1]. Should we mourn the passing of this concept of political power?

ZALMAN first points out that the dichotomy “...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 40 weeks ago View original post.

Rational men will hold superstition[1] in contempt. As a skeptic I’d tend to agree. With one proviso: what we may consider “superstition” may have “positive latent function”. In other words, we outsiders may be too ignorant to understand the unspoken rational reasons for this or that behavior we observe and all too readily dismiss...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 40 weeks ago View original post.

Katharina HÖHNE, in the www.diplomacy.edu blog[1], has argued the power of analogy. She is right. All of trigonometry is based on analogy. Syllogisms are analogies. Analogies are useful points of departure in Bayesian processes – the way we learn from our errors...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 40 weeks ago View original post.

I’m no friend of the Precautionary Principle. It is not a principle, but a rhetorical device, which can justify action and inaction, depending on one’s fears, rather than rational analysis.

A mathematics professor has done the maths underlying current programs for early screening of breast cancer[1], and his analysis is...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 41 weeks ago View original post.

In the inanimate world, action leads to an end. The billiard ball falls into the pocket – and that’s it. After the well-aimed shot it stays put. The end is final. In the animate and social world, action leads to another, and then another, and then again. It is without end. This is why we have history, and even if you were to go back and repeat the moves, you’ll never get the same result....

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 41 weeks ago View original post.

In 1994, at Inakadate, Japan, farmers seeking ways to attract tourists invented “rice paddy art”[1] – art that would put Chinese conceptual artist A Wei Wei to shame. Here is an example:

                 ...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 44 weeks ago View original post.

The first US war of choice was the US-UK war of 1812-1814[1]. It ended with the Treaty of Ghent, signed on 24 December 1814. It ended not as the result of military victory or principled resolution of the issue: the defeat of Napoleon changed the context in decisive ways and rescued diplomats from their quandary. For the war was the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 45 weeks ago View original post.

Associated Link

What links have been shared using this tag? Note: These links have been automatically gathered. We have not checked the destination of these links.