Name Marco Von Ballmoos
Member since
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Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco

The (only) developer at earthli.com.


2427 Articles


Definitions of Diplomacy

Published on in Quotes

I recently saw two definitions of diplomacy that I liked very much. I’ve included them below with the original attributions and have made no effort to ascertain their accuracy. I think the quotes stand on their own, regardless of who is purported to have said them.

“Diplomacy is the art of building ladders to allow people to climb down gracefully.”
Otto von Bismarck
“Diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a manner that they look forward to the trip.”


Book Recommendations for a Friend (July 2020)

Published on in Books

I found a list of book recommendations I’d made for a friend, tailored to his interests. I’ve republished it here with some minor edits, in case anyone else is interested. The title links to my review and notes.

This is a partial list of books I’ve read since 2013 that I think you might be interested in. I’ve included links to my reviews/notes/citations, if that helps.

I’ve tried to break it up into rough groups. Many straddle categories. They’re all good, but some are work and some are fun.
... [More]

Mail-in Voting in the US

Published on in Miscellaneous

COVID-19 has made mail-in voting more relevant than ever for US elections. In other countries, this would not be an issue, as mail-in voting doesn’t pose any particular technical, organizational, or bureaucratic hassles or threaten to lead to widespread disenfranchisement. Those are normal countries, like Switzerland, where a majority of the population votes by mail about five times per year.

The US is different: even the simplest tasks become difficult for a nation afraid to commit to... [More]

Amazon Book Recommendations getting weirder

Published on in Books

I was recently inspired to write about my Kindle’s odd recommendations. Since then, I’ve gotten several more—with seemingly rapidly decreasing quality.

Lady from the Stars

 Lady from the Stars

“A woman from another planet crashes on Earth. Her foes track her and plan to enslave Earth. Can she stop them and save Earth and the man she loves?”

I’m going to guess that the author is simultaneously responsible for the cover art and the blurb. If the prose in the book measures up to the quality of the blurb, then... [More]

Corruption in the US

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

This video from 2015 takes only five minutes to present the results of a Princeton University study of 20 years of data to determine the amount of influence an American had on which laws were enacted. Regardless of whether Americans were completely against or completely for a policy, there was a 30% chance of it being enacted. From the study:

“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy. ”

 It seems... [More]

Two Days Ago


Published on in Quotes

“Maybe the greatest miracle is memory”
Brian Doyle

Found in the article Two Poems by Michael Garrigan (ecotheoreview). Both are quite nice. I had to look up Thomas Merton.


A surfeit of unearned confidence

Published on in Quotes

“You suffer from the arrogance of ignorance.”
The Man in the High Castle


Published on in Quotes

“Yours is like all fortunes, Shadow: opaque on arrival, inevitable in retrospect.”
Wednesday (American Gods S01E01)

Soft tyranny

Published on in Quotes

Life in the 21st century is all about the soft tyranny of lowered expectations.

By all means

Published on in Quotes

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

Whether Napoleon actually said it or not is immaterial.


1 week Ago

New Weather Station

Published on in Design

 My old weather station finally died. I’d inherited it about 25 years ago from a good friend in New York. It came from my apartment in Kew Gardens to Switzerland, where it was first mounted in my kitchen and then office for many years.

The cord was covered with electrical tape from several incidents involving my first rabbit Oz. After a dozen more years, the plastic casing on the wire leading to the outside thermometer had become very brittle—especially after years of being shut into the... [More]