Archive for September, 2012

UN speech language preferences

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

It seems like most leaders address the UN in their own languages, but Netanyahu spoke in English. He often uses English expressions as well. This may indicate that his audience is not the UN but the United States or English speaking world. His audience is not the world but a specific type of audience, those that matter. This is really interesting because it reflects the world political alignments as seen from Israel or at least the PM.

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Jack Mccormick Machiavellian Democracies

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

“And finally, in an attack on what he terms the “hegemony of elections,”McCormick calls for greater representation
of the people and their interests, not by electoral campaigns involving expressive voting but by random class
sampling using lotteries (p. 171).” This is from a review of this book. This idea is really interesting, a way to disrupt the dominance of money in elections.

“Ancient demoi and plebeians collectively threatened to withhold their war-making capacities from the state in order to gain pro-democratic concessions from the oligarchs of their regimes. Worker-citizens in nineteenthand twentieth-centuryNorth America and Europe achieved comparable, if arguably less substantive, results by withholding their labor power from industrial economies and/or by threatening to do so. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an asset shared by modern plebeians, the wielding or withholding of which would extort democratic reforms from contemporary political-economic elites.”

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Why are opinio polls always so close?

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Impressionistic evidence here, but it seems like a lot of the opinion polls lately have all been very closely contested. Always between 40-60 and never varying more. Just read an article on proposed smoking ban on Switzerland that got  52 46 yes and no. How can something so common get such a close vote? And why does it seem that most polls come up with really close numbers. Even in the Lebanese election.

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Democracy as the politics of abundance

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment

The correlation between democracy and wealth may be a signifier of the relation between abundance and democracy. The survival of democracy depends on abundance, and abundance is a theory of economics that cannot go on forever. I wonder if the case can be made that better political forms that are representative can be found within politics of scarcity models.

Can we use quantitative methods to cast doubt on quantitative methods?

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Or is it sanctioned to kill in order to punish killing. In anycase, it occurred to me in my sociology class today that the over-reliance on statistics for the production of facts and knowledge is difficult to disabuse. But it is clear that because of the pliability of data and its interpretation many quantitative large n studies have been revisited over and again and disputed by a large number of scholars. As a result it may be fruitful to do a simple statistical count of the number of claims that have been disputed in large n statistical work. How many articles have been disproven or disputed. how many used the same data? how many provided alternate data? A good start in IR is the journal article overview by Maliniak et al in the TRIP survey. Google provides articles that have quoted an article and that is one way of looking up how many accounts of dispute exist around a particular original data article. I expect that the number will be significant enough to throw doubt on  the infallibility of data based knowledge claims. That is data is not infallible it is produced by humans. Anecdotal evidence of the use of data and its pliability can be found in the opposing conclusions drawn around the democratic peace thesis, democracy and development theses, and the modernization literature.

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September 14, 2012 Leave a comment

People die everyday, but not someone you know. When someone you know dies, your world stops. The world goes on. It highlights the triviality of death. But it is a challenge to avoid trivializing death when it happens so much. perhaps death should be trivialized. The discrepancy in emotion between the feelings over the death of one person you know and millions you do not is a challenge to empathy. I’m not sure how it can be overcome. To make the soldier feel empathy to the family of the killed. Or the revolutionary. Or the Salafi killing an ambasador. The calculations of pain or  consequence are so discrepant that it seems impossible to overcome. But it is important to find a way to maintain a recognition of death as trivial while incorporating empathy. Perhaps abolishing the death as trivial view, but how can that be done without paralyzing action in every day life?

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Note on Timelines

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Crusades: 1095-1099, 1147-1149, 1187-1192, 1202-1204, 1217-1221, 1228-1229,  1248-1254, 1270, 1271-1272

Christians helped mongols in 1273.

(I thought Europe wasn’t expoansionist before Pope Alexander and the discovery of the New World (On SIba))

1492 Discovery of New World

(1488?Portugue)1512: Sea Route Established from Europe to East Asia

1683: Peak of Ottoman Empire Best year 1500s-1600s So even while capitalism was developing in Europe Ottoman Empire was flourishing. (Cultural and scientific contributions?) Why do the big names go back to Arab times and not Ottoman, surely they didn’t dominate without some organizational or technical innovation. “Better the Sultan’s Turban than the Cardinal’s hat” 1481: plans to conquer rome given up after mehmet the greats death. Control of trade betweeen europe and asia over land. Dominant navy and superior military organization and technology into the 1500s. Barbarossa was Ottoman, dominant in Mediteranean. Took Baghdad from Persians in 1535. Tunisia 1574. But by 1580 Venice was holding Ottoman dominance. Land wars distracted from naval efforts and not as domiannt navally after 1580.

1593: Europeans beginign to overtake Ottomans technologically

1683: Battle of Vienna, marks end of expansion of Ottomans into Europe, last attempt on Vienna.

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