1. Hope for the best, plan for the worst

    How do you make decisions when the outcome is uncertain? A good general rule is to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

    An example from the H-DIPLO mailing list (for historians of foreign policy):

    From: Eric Bergerud
    List Editor: "H-DIPLO [Rausch]"
    Editor's Subject: Nixon, Kissinger, and Vietnam …

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  2. Annihilation and death

    Hans Morgenthau explains how the prospect of general nuclear war and the annihilation of civilization changes our experience of death. "Death in the Nuclear Age" (1961):

    In the works of his mind, man, the creator, survives.

    Yet why are those works a "monument more lasting than bronze," and why can …

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  3. Moral humility

    Life During Wartime Lucius Shepard, Life During Wartime (1987):

    It occurred to Mingolla that his father had been right about war, that it had indeed made a man out of him. He could see intricacies that he had never before suspected, he understood the nature of his responsibilities and felt able to handle …

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  4. The Trudeau-Notley compromise

    My attempt to explain the Trudeau-Notley compromise: take climate change seriously, halt Alberta's growth in emissions, and use a rising price on carbon to cut Canada's fossil CO2 emissions, while continuing to export Canadian oil and trying to get the best price for it instead of leaving money on the …

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  5. Robert Gilpin on the difficulty of retreat

    Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (1981), on the difficulty of retreat:

    The fundamental problem with a policy of appeasement and accommodation is to find a way to pursue it that does not lead to continuing deterioration in a state's prestige and international position. Retrenchment by its very …

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  6. Robert Gilpin on equilibrium and decline

    Robert Gilpin, War and Change in International Politics (1981), describes the relationship between economic growth and power, like Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict, 1500-2000. Compared to Kennedy, Gilpin's book is considerably more abstract and concise.

    Gilpin describes the dynamics of …

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  7. Taxation as collective shopping

    Taxation and public spending is basically a form of collective shopping. For some goods (food, clothing) it makes no sense to buy them collectively. For others (roads, insurance) it does make sense.

    Joseph Heath, Filthy Lucre:

    One of the goods that can often be purchased most efficiently through taxes is …

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  8. Wastefulness as a sin

    An illustration of wastefulness as a sin, from a novel set in 14th-century Norway: The Mistress of Husaby (1921), the second novel of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, by Sigrid Undset.

    Kristin had not had much sleep the first night, even though the priests had blessed her bed. 'Twas spread above …

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  9. ELI5 - the pipeline situation

    Back in August, someone on Reddit asked:

    Please excuse my ignorance on this topic (I only arrived in Canada recently) - but can someone explain like I'm five the whole pipeline situation?

    I think of it as an irresistible force (there's $15 billion/year at stake) meeting an immovable object (the …

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