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Friday Nerd Blogging: Winter is Coming to #ISA2015

by on 2015-01-23- 2 Comments

More information about the genesis of this panel here. Paper abstracts here.
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Constructivism and the tension within

Constructivism and the tension within

by on 2015-01-22- 7 Comments

My first post of the new year (hey, it is still January!) is a bit IR theory geek-ish, so apologies to readers who do not
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WHO is responsible for the failure on Ebola?

WHO is responsible for the failure on Ebola?

by on 2015-01-22- Leave a reply

Nathan Paxton has a provocative post on The Monkey Cage where he suggests, among other things that the World Health Organization (WHO) is not to blame for the Ebola crisis. Rather, he lays the blame squarely on donor countries.

He rightly notes that the WHO's budget and staff was cut after the financial crisis, but I think he lets WHO off too lightly. With many ideas circulating about the future of the WHO in advance of the upcoming WHO Executive Board meeting beginning January 26th, understanding the various factors that contributed to the failed response to Ebola is all the more critical. 
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SOTU: Cyber What?

SOTU: Cyber What?

by on 2015-01-21- Leave a reply

In last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama briefly reiterated the point that Congress has an obligation to pass some sort of legislation
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Counting on the Media: A Reply to Mack and Pinker

by on 2015-01-20- Leave a reply

It's always nice to read good news. And it's nice to read evidence-based arguments in the popular press. Over the holiday, Andrew Mack and Steven Pinker offered a little of each over the holidays in their article "The World Is Not Falling Apart." Therein, they marshal of human security indicators upon indicators - number of rapes reported, number of civilians killed, number of wars breaking out, number of homicides -  to argue that at the global level the trendlines are mostly pointing downward. In championing "an evidence-based mindset on the state of the world," the authors place the blame for our current misconceptions on "a misleading formula of journalistic narration":

"Reporters give lavish coverage to gun bursts, explosions and viral videos, oblivious to how representative they are and apparently innocent of the fact that many were contrived as journalistic bait... News is about things that happen, not things that don't happen... The only sound way to appraise the state of the world is to count. How many violent acts has the world seen compared with the number of opportunities?"

This seemingly sensible argument does contain one fundamental paradox, however: some of the data-sets on which Mack and Pinker rely are themselves based on news reports.
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Vote Now for the 2015 (The Duckies) IR Blogging Awards

by on 2015-01-19- Leave a reply

It's time to vote! We are asking readers to vote for the finalists in each category. ONce we have finalists for each category, a panel of judges that includes previous years' winners and permanent contributors at Duck of Minerva will select this year's award winners in each category. The winners will be announced at the OAIS Blogging Awards and Reception at the ISA annual convention in New Orleans on Thursday, February 20, 2015.

Here's what you need to do. Send us an email at duckofminerva2015 at gmail.com and we will send you a ballot. Simply fill out the ballot and submit it. Voting ends on Friday, January 30. Complete rules can be found here.

Here is the list of nominees for this year's OAIS Blogging Awards.
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Domestic Politics, Climate Change, and International Ambition

Domestic Politics, Climate Change, and International Ambition

by on 2015-01-17- Leave a reply

Last fall, I wrote about how the U.S. government was insisting that any climate mitigation commitments agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate negotiations be non-binding political pledges. I argued that was appropriate because the high bar for treaty ratification in the U.S. Senate made legally binding commitments unlikely.

This kind of soft "pledge and review" approach to climate change first emerged at the 2009 Copenhagen negotiations, often derided by observers as an unsuccessful meeting. Quite the contrary, as I argued in a 2010 piece for the Council on Foreign Relations, Copenhagen actually set the stage for main emitters finally to make more credible commitments to take action. This is the tenor of a number of recent articles and interviews with David Victor, Andrew Revkin, Eric Voeten, among others. One thing that all these authors underscore is the importance of domestic politics going forward.  Recent experiences in Australia, South Korea, and Brazil, as well as the United States, all demonstrate the fragility of domestic climate policies.
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Friday Nerd Blogging: Belated But Delightful Take on Harry Potter and Feminism

by on 2015-01-17- Leave a reply

Actually, the title for this post should refer to Hermione Granger since she is the one doing the smashing of patriarchy in this amusing and
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Online Media Caucus Update for ISA 2015

by on 2015-01-16- Leave a reply

The effort to develop a caucus at the ISA dedicating to Online Media continues.  The proposed caucus will be considered at the Governing Council meeting on Tuesday of the ISA this year.  I have not received any signs that this will not go through.  Consequently, we are having our first business meeting on Saturday, February 21st, 12:30pm in the Hilton's Elmwood room.  The meeting will sketch out the plans for the next year and seek advice/feedback on future activities.

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Last Call for Blogging Awards Nominations!

by on 2015-01-15- Leave a reply

This is the last call for nominations for the best IR-related blogging of 2014. The "Duckies" will be awarded at ISA-New Orleans on Thursday, Feb.
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Autonomous or “Semi” Autonomous Weapons? A Distinction without Difference

Autonomous or “Semi” Autonomous Weapons? A Distinction without Difference

by on 2015-01-12- Leave a reply

Over the New Year, I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at an event on the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) hosted by
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Common Xenophobic Dynamic: Overestimating the Other

by on 2015-01-09- 3 Comments

I saw this on twitter this evening

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ISA Blogging Update: Committee Reports Recommendations

by on 2015-01-05- Leave a reply

Last winter, the ISA executive committee proposed new rules for editors of ISA journals that would restrict their blogging.  This led to a pretty hostile reaction.  At the ISA meeting, the proposal was sent to committee.  The committee has circulated its report and recommendations.

What do they recommend?  Basically, the recommendations:
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North Korea and Hollywood: the Perfect Holiday Storm

by on 2014-12-26- Leave a reply

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A perfect storm is defined as an event in which a rare combination of circumstances results in an event of unusual scale and magnitude. 9-11 is a classic, and tragic, perfect storm. This December the world has witnessed another perfect storm involving the confluence of culture and foreign policy: the bizarre North Korean hacking of Sony and the scare that arrived just in time for the holidays for millions of Americans.

Not since the Danish publication of a cartoon that Muslims viewed as an insult to Islam has a confluence of this kind had such serious consequences. The Sony executives, who made the spoof film involving a comedic sendup of North Korean repression that ended in an assassination of its sitting leader Kim Jong-un, cannot be faulted for making the film that North Korea took such exception to. But by filming a scene in which the dictator’s head explodes, they crossed a line and all but invited hacker retaliation.

Sony’s internet defenses were surprisingly low, given a previous and rather damaging cyber penetration of its networks. But Sony’s greatest error was actually to take the threat of terrorism from the North Korean hackers on U.S. movie theaters showing the film seriously. Instead of standing up for freedom of expression (and protecting its investment), along with the major movie theater chains it caved.
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Is There a Santa Claus?

by on 2014-12-23- 1 Comment

[NOTE: To spice up the discussion started by Tenacity's guest post, we bring you this throw-back post. One of Patrick Thadeus Jackson's greatest hits (of which there were many) originally posted on December 25, 2007.]

Ever since the invention of the InterNet, not a December goes by without some version of this making the rounds of listservs and e-mail chains and the like. I must have received it a dozen times from various sources. It's cute and funny and all, but I must say that I've never been entirely happy with its conclusions. So in the spirit of the season, I present the first known social constructionist investigation in the the existence of Santa Claus. I mean, why should the natural sciences get to have all the fun -- and why should they get to corner the market on looking into such matters?

The first thing to point out is that a social constructionist would not necessarily consider the existence of Santa Claus to be the same thing as the existence of a man in a red suit who flies around the world in one evening in a sleigh pulled by eight or nine flying reindeer and delivers toys to all of the good children of the world.
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Best IR Blogging of 2014? Send us your nominations.

by on 2014-12-22- Leave a reply

Just a reminder that we accepting nominations for the best IR-related blogging of 2014. The "Duckies" will be awarded at ISA-New Orleans on Thursday, Feb.
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Theatre and Cyber Security

Theatre and Cyber Security

by on 2014-12-21- 1 Comment

By now I am sure many of you have seen the news that Sony has indefinitely postponed/canceled the theatrical release of The Interview under threat
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Science of Santa

by on 2014-12-17- 6 Comments

The following is a guest post by Tenacity Murdie, age 12.  

Dear Readers,

Every year on Christmas Eve, Santa, a fat and happy man, takes off in a sleigh full of presents to go deliver gifts to the good boys and girls. We spend millions of dollars in preparation for Santa, but is this reasonable, or are we just throwing our money down the drain? Although many think that it is possible for Santa to travel the world in less than 31 hours (not 24 since we have time zones)[2] and successfully deliver presents to millions of children without violating any laws of physics, it’s just not possible. If Santa were to do this, he would be breaking multiple laws of physics. Some examples are: there are no known reindeer species that can fly, the actual Santa (St. Nick) is long dead, and, most importantly, there is not enough time for Santa to get to all the houses in one day. Let me explain.

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Citizens, Beasts or Gods?

Citizens, Beasts or Gods?

by on 2014-12-16- 3 Comments

Keeping up with the current engagement with artificial intelligence (AI) is a full time task. Today in the New York Times, two (here and here)
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What’s Happening with Climate Negotiations in Lima?

What’s Happening with Climate Negotiations in Lima?

by on 2014-12-13- Leave a reply

The annual climate negotiations are wrapping up in Lima, Peru tonight or likely tomorrow. Negotiators are working through the night in overtime as they seek to hammer out a blueprint that will serve as the negotiating template for next year.  This is the meeting before next year's big meeting in Paris when expectations are high for a new climate agreement that will establish the targets and actions countries are willing to make for the 2020 period and beyond. So, what's going on? What's at stake? What are the key outcomes? Points of dissensus and consensus? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? Here is one live negotiation tracker and what I believe is the proposed text that the chair proposed just as I went to bed.


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