Dit is een heerlijk boek, alleen al omdat het veel vermeende zekerheden (transparantie is toch altijd goed?) doet wankelen. Centraal staat de notie dat “het geheim” noodzakelijk is voor de vrijheid van de burger. Zowel het geheim van de burger zelf, als geheimen van de staat die deze vrijheid moet beschermen. De paradox die dat oplevert is dat de staat geheimen moet hebben om de burger te kunnen beschermen. In een tijd… Read More

Pretty lousy actually, as this short World Economic Forum article about our past attempts illustrates. To me, the historic examples also demonstrate that we tend to think in incremental changes (rolling house, flying postman) – we’re just not wired to imagine the unknown.  

Sarah Palin is back: whatever you may think of her, she gives a fascinating endorsement speech. Enjoy.  

Vroeger gingen we eerder dood, waren we armer en lelijker. Kinderarbeid was nog heel gewoon, net als poepen op straat. Bovendien behandelden we dieren als gevoelloze machines en geloofden we dat je zwanger kon worden als je de vinnen van een draak aanraakte. Ook kostte het huishouden veel meer tijd en hadden we geen medicijnen. We hebben het nu dus op alle vlakken beter. Oorzaak van dit alles: evolutie, technologie, beschaving, wetenschap… Read More

In many articles about ISIS/ IS/ ISIL/ Daesh, I came across the name of William McCants, fellow and director of the Brookings Institute, and his book on Islamic State. As he seemed to be a trustworthy source for many writers on the subject, I wanted to read his book – subtitled The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State -, for myself. More than Napoleoni’s book this book is a… Read More

In this essay on Tolstoy, philosopher Isaiah Berlin argues that there is a fundamental distinction between those who are fascinated by the infinitive variety of things (foxes) and those who relate everything to a central, all-embracing system. The distinction comes from a saying of the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The little book (90 pages) is dense with information, literary and… Read More

This unique 75-year long Harvard research followed more than 700 men from teenager to old age, with one simple goal; to understand what makes them happy and healthy.The short answer is: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Three lessons can be drawn: 1) social connections ensure a longer life, healthier life. 2) it’s not the number, but the quality of close relationships that matter 3) good relationships protect our brain; memories… Read More

What is to become of Europe, now that it is in the midst of a perfect storm of several crises: recovering from a deep recession, coping with an unprecedented number of asylum seekers and refugees, not being able to protect its borders, terrorist attacks and – as a result – declining trust of its citizens? In this Foreign Affairs article Oxford Professor Woods argues that the most likely prospect is a more… Read More

Dit boekje belooft ‘alles over de Amerikaanse verkiezingen’, wat enigszins overdreven is. Wel is het een leuk en nuttig overzicht van de smerigste campagnes (de allersmerigste is die van 1856), slimste leuzen (de beste: I Like Ike), zwakste running mates (natuurlijk Dan Quayle) en beste presidenten (FDR). Voor Amerika lovers. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – Paul Brill (2012)

Indeed a marathon (4,5 hours is by all means long), but our perseverance was rewarded. Visually beautiful, invoking most of our senses (including video, dj, countertenor) this vintage ‘Van Hove’ proved to be a successful way to shed light on the story of power through the lives of three kings of England. Above all, Ramsey Nasr as Henry V was outstanding.

Sometimes it seems all innovation is disruptive and all start-ups will change our lives, but as this HBR article explains the term is often wrongly used and can be misleading. And – spoiler alert – Uber doesn’t fit the label.

Interesting Politico piece arguing we don’t really care about the truth, the reason why so many politicians get away with lies. We are inclined to believe them unless we have a previous reason not to believe them. It’s all about cognitive dissonance. Related, some insight on whether the Republican party will survive the Donald.

Whenever I see big masses of people cheering for a cause, like now with the COP 21 treaty (beware of the lofty rhetoric!), I get suspicious. Combined with my skepticism of top down change (“The president has decided, so it will surely happen”), I wanted to read some stuff criticizing the current climate change approach. Anything that can avoid tunnel vision is worth considering. This book by Roger Pielke, jr. is really… Read More

A chilling inside report of Al Nusra, the Syrian branch on Al Qaeda. Al Nusra is fighting  Bashar Al-Assad’s forces and the Islamic State. What broke my heart was watching 8 year olds sing ‘I am going to fight the Jews’ and yelling that Americans will find their grave in Syria. One of the youngest giggles when he shares his dream to become a suicide bomber. Where normal children would be cracking jokes in the… Read More

Gidsje waarin Van Dis ons meeneemt langs plekken in Parijs die bepalend zijn geweest voor de eerste periode dat hij er woonde. Met aantal rake observaties, zoals die over verschil met de Nederlandse metro: ‘In Parijs ruikt het niet naar patat’. Ik las dit boekje op een manier die Van Dis’ goedkeuring waarschijnlijk kan wegdragen: wandelend door de straten van Parijs. Onder het zink, un ABÉCÉdaire de Paris – Adriaan van Dis… Read More

  Since the horrendous attacks in my beloved Paris I’ve been increasing my reading on ISIS, the attacks, jihadism and the Middle-East. Here’s a selection: A Vox article on the gap between true narratives and true facts. “America has not changed Iraq or Syria, but the wars there have indeed changed America” – a long-read  from David Ignatius on how ISIS spread in the Middle East A list of US airstrikes on… Read More

Most important take-away: don’t take ‘experts’ too seriously, especially not the famous ones. They are very prone to looking at the world through the lens of a so-called hedgehog: there is only one truth and reality has to adapt to it. Tetlock has even demonstrated an inversed correlation between fame and accuracy. The more famous the forecaster, the worse his predictions.

Forget Business School, just watch these 10 TED Talks. Some interesting talks on leadership and innovation.

A set of stories about the surreal world Russians, Ukrainians and other former Soviet peoples live in. A world wherein everything and everyone is suspect, where the abnormal is normal and vodka is consumed like water.  Although every story is different – from the adventures of Pussy Riot to the incarceration of Greenpeace employees, from a meteorite hitting Siberia (locals couldn’t bother less) to the utter chaos of the Maidan revolution and… Read More

Thousands of people have been killed by drones in the last 14 years: in Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and probably many other countries. This is how such a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) is operated, from thousands miles away.