30/07/2012

Loitering or Hanging Out? The difference between flâner and rôder?

Last week on my way home I was serenaded twice. A group at the train station was listening to recorded music and singing. However, they were noisy and I didn't like their music. I would not have protested if an officer had asked them to move on. A different group serenaded me in the tram with musical instruments and singing. In addition, the group in the tram asked for money. I didn't protest; I liked their music and contributed. I would not have been pleased if an officer had asked them to stop and leave the tram.

"Summertime and the livin' is easy." After the long winter months and rainy spring, the fine weather encourages everyone to get out. The beaches and pools are crowded; restaurant terraces are overflowing; kids frolic in the parks; music is everywhere.

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10:56 Publié dans Geneva | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |

24/07/2012

Do Guns Kill or People Kill?

When I first came to Switzerland in 1972, I remember standing on the train platform in Bern and seeing rifles lined up outside a restaurant. Soldiers had left their weapons unattended while eating. Coming from my New York experiences in the South Bronx and Harlem, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The recent shootings in Colorado once more raise the question: Do guns kill or people kill? The powerful gun lobby in the United States, the National Rifle Association (NRA), continues to maintain that people kill, and that laws restricting access to weapons will have no effect. Their argument is that with more guns available people will be better protected, much like Professor Kenneth Waltz’s argument that if all countries had nuclear weapons none would use them.

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12/07/2012

Roger and Me

Watching Roger Federer win his 7th Wimbledon and 17th Grand Slam title was a visual pleasure. His feet movement on the fabled Centre court reminded me of the footwork of the dancer Fred Astaire, effortless and so graceful that the feet don't seem to touch the ground. In addition, his flicks of the wrist and half-volleys brought images of a magician waving a magic wand, not a tennis player with a heavy racquet. There is no question of his phenomenal physical talent.

But beyond admiring the physical talent of Federer, what can we learn from watching him play?

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17:47 Publié dans Humeur | Lien permanent | Commentaires (2) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |

08/07/2012

The True Demise of Davos Man

Davos Man, a phrase attributed to the American political scientist Samuel Huntington, was all the rage in the late 1990s. The Financial Times once headlined "What's on the mind of Davos man?" in preparation for the annual gathering of the select best and the brightest's meeting in the small Swiss mountain village. Each year, top business executives mingle with policy makers and academics to review the world's agenda. Among the chosen few, there is leadership and order. Whether or not one agrees with who they are or their decisions, it is impressive that a group can meet informally to influence a global agenda. Not only does Davos Man have his/her pulse on what is happening, he/she also is in position to make things happen in the future.

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04/07/2012

Privatizing WRS : Defending the Commons

In colonial New England, the center of village life was the common green in the heart of the village. It was there that citizens met; it was there that discussions took place as well as market sales much like the Place de Marché in many small Swiss towns. The common green was a public space belonging to the people. Much like the common green, the term commons or common good refers to that which belongs to the people. It could be air, water or a common heritage of mankind earmarked by UNESCO. What is crucial to the common good is its public nature. It is something common to all but not a good in the sense of a commodity that can be bought and sold. The common good is a public good; it belongs to everyone and is not a commodity available on the market.

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07:49 Publié dans Geneva | Lien permanent | Commentaires (4) |  Imprimer |  Facebook | | | |