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Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 12:01 am

The reading list

“Of all the writers in the 'realist' canon – from Thucydides and Hobbes to Morgenthau and Mearsheimer – it is Niccolo Machiavelli who retains the greatest capacity to shock. In 1513, banished from his beloved Florence, Machiavelli drafted his masterwork, 'The Prince.' Five centuries later his primer on statecraft remains required if unsettling reading for practitioners and students of politics. Machiavelli's originality – and the source of his enduring, if notorious, reputation – was his blatant rejection of traditional morality as a guide to political action, and his insistence that statecraft be based on a realistic view of corrupted human nature.

“Although frequently damned as an amoral cynic – author of 'a handbook for gangsters,' in Bertrand Russell's words – Machiavelli in fact occupies a more complicated ethical terrain. His central claim is that politics has a moral logic of its own, at times requiring actions to preserve the state that might be regarded as reprehensible within polite society. There are times, in other words, when conventional ethics must be set aside for the pragmatic and expedient dictates of (what would later become known as) raison d'etat or 'reasons of state.'”

– From “Machiavelli: Still Shocking after Five Centuries” at<./b/

A quiz

What product was nicknamed “Cowboy Killer”?

Wisdom of the ages

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato

Current wisdom

“Obamacare is destroying jobs. It is driving up health care costs. It is killing health benefits. It is shattering the economy.” – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, in his nearly 22-hour speech railing against Obamacare.

Quiz answer

Marlboro cigarettes. Both actors who appeared as the Marlboro Man in ads died of lung cancer.

Snob words

lallygag (LAH-lee-gag), v. – to spend time idly; loaf, as in: “The editorial writer prayed the council president would quit lallygagging and call the meeting to order.” An Americanism that arose in the 1860s, origin uncertain.

Today in history

On this date in 1787, Congress sent the Constitution to state legislatures for their approval; thank God for the founders. In 1939, Germany and Russia agreed on a treaty partitioning Poland; well, that worked out really well, didn't it? In 1968, the Beatles' “Hey Jude” went to No. 1, where it stayed for nine weeks.


What happened when the cow tried to jump over a barbed-wire fence? Udder destruction.

Now you know

A full moon is about five times brighter than a half-moon.