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Sanctioned out and still testing


According to the  Washington Post, North Korea is sanctioned out. The country is already so heavily sanctioned that more restrictions won’t have any effect; there is nothing left to take away. Kim Jong-un doesn’t even have a real octopus to  look at any more (touching a life-size replica is much safer anyway). So what will be the response to North Korea’s latest act of defiance? Luckily for Kim Jung Il, their latest nuclear test  is not something that President Obama can simply  sweep under the rug-as much as he might like to do so. Thanks to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, there is an international organization that monitors and reports on evidence of nuclear weapons tests. That frees up Kim Jung Un to lay his gaze on  more important things  because others are doing the work of publicizing the size ( 7kt) of his nation’s  nuclear test. In fact, not to be out done by Iran, North Korea tested just in time to warrant a mention in Obama’s State of the Union address. He singled out North Korea as a threat, but didn’t further elaborate on earlier statements condemning the test and calling for “swift and credible action” from the international community.  North Korea has perfected the art of bringing powerful members of the international community to the bargaining table, holding out the carrot of giving up its nuclear program in order to compel the provision of goods and services in return for the promise of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. It’s a good gambit as long as North Korea can keep it up.


Accounting for the time of a polymath

Accounting for the time of a polymath

From Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.

This schedule is a different twist on the usual time management tool. BF not only lists what he plans to do, but schedules in terms of meta-level reflection on the purpose his actions serve. In BF’s ideal world his activities are an answer to a question about “the good.” In other words, he makes explicit the connection between the substance and the purpose of his actions.

I came across this schedule as I was in the process of setting up a new version of the document with which I project manage my life, but it occurred to me that this image might also be useful in thinking about the substance versus the purpose of arms control and disarmament treaties and negotiations (AC&D). I argue elsewhere that the explicit substance of AC&D is the control of nuclear weapons and their constituent elements, but the implicit purpose of them is to resolve disputes about dominance and hierarchy between the great powers. Since one of the purposes of this blog is to have a place to collect all the marginalia that might contribute to thinking about nuclear philosophy, I am sticking this image up here to remind myself to think about the substance and purpose of AC&D in terms of an answer (substance) to a question (purpose). For instance, to what question is the Limited Test Ban Treaty an answer?

Reading and time: A dialectic between academic expectation and academic frustration

Anne forwarded me this small beautiful exchange between scholars.

I wanted to add that

I do not agree… You never need anything to read anything.

Actually to understand Derrida it is not necessary to read e.g. Sein and Zeit. The question is then of course, what exactly did you understand in reading “Grammatology”, and even more, re-reading it: will you still understand the same? The tricky thing is that claiming to understand anything in philosophy is to a certain extent always a lie.

My problem is that I did not understand this and a lot of times felt dumb and helpless.

So I do not understand Zizek and it took me years to understand him.

The awful thing is that one has to “with-stand” philosophy to “under-stand”. Interestingly in german under-stand is ver-stehen. The  “ver” means that by doing something actively you somehow actively do something not intended.


ver-zeihen – for-give (par-don, lat. pro [veniam] dare)

ver-führen – seduce, führen – lead

ver-sagen – fail, sagen – say

Most interesting of those is

ver-sprechen –

It means to promise and to make a slip of the tongue or to make a mistake, sprechen – speak

So by understanding something by the pure meaning of the word verstehen in german you misunderstand while understanding.

So far to the subtelities of language and philosophical meanings. Fortunately Heidegger is making these differences most of the time quite clear.

Still, I read once for training Pablo Neruda in German and Spanish side by side. In german it sounded awful. In spanish it made me get tears in the eyes.

Now to something completely different:

At the end I want to share one of my favorites regarding understanding philosophical texts. But in 2 Translations. Note that the last subsentence is missing in the first.

Hegel’s night of the world.

First in German “von hier“:

Der Mensch ist diese Nacht,

dies leere Nichts, das alles in ihrer Einfachheit enthält
– ein Reichtum unendlich vieler Vorstellungen, Bilder, deren keines ihm gerade einfällt – ,
oder die nicht als gegenwärtige sind.
Dies die Nacht, das Innere der Natur, das hier existiert reines selbst,
– in phantasmagorischen  Vorstellungen ist es rings um Nacht, hier schießt dann ein blutig Kopf,
– dort eine andere weiße Gestalt plötzlich hervor, und verschwinden ebenso
– Diese Nacht erblickt man,
wenn man dem Menschen ins Auge blickt
– in eine Nacht hinein, die furchtbar wird,
es hängt die Nacht der Welt hier einem entgegen.

In dieser Nacht ist das Seiende zurückgegangen.”

Now in English from here:

“The human being is this night, this empty nothing, that contains everything in its simplicity—an unending wealth of many representations, images, of which none belongs to him—or which are not present. This night, the interior of nature, that exists here—pure self—in phantasmagorical representations, is night all around it, in which here shoots a bloody head—there another white ghastly apparition, suddenly here before it, and just so disappears. One catches sight of this night when one looks human beings in the eye—into a night that becomes awful.

it suspends the night of the world here in an opposition. In this night being has returned.”

And here:

“The human being is this Night, this empty nothing which contains everything in its simplicity – a wealth of infinitely many representations, images, none of which occur to it directly, and none of which are not present. This [is] the Night, the interior of [human] nature, existing here – pure Self – [and] in phantasmagoric representations it is night everywhere: here a bloody head suddenly shoots up and there another white shape, only to disappear as suddenly. We see this Night when we look a human being in the eye, looking into a Night which turns terrifying. [For from his eyes] the night of the world hangs out toward us.”