Wednesday, 20 November 2013

monoceros

Website io9 has an interesting book review of a new work by geographer Chris Lavers on the natural history of the unicorn and how this legendary creature has become somewhat of an obsession and a symbol pregnant with associations, connotations of all sorts, employed by many different agencies.

It turns out that the earliest reports of an illusive and ferocious beast in the wilds of distant India, which probably referred to a third-hand sighting of a rhinoceros, propagated by ancient Greek naturalists, is completely unrelated to the unicorn as it appears in the Bible. Early translators were at a loss as to what animal Hebrew word re'em ( רֶאֵם ), often used metaphorically, could refer to. Literally the word stood for the extinct aurochs, the European bison—and other animals like goats and cattle and camels were recognisable, but re'em was used in the text, with license, for any beast of burden and symbol of strength and, alternately, for submission—which makes more sense when read in context. The authorities substituted the Greek and Latin words for unicorn, however, sanctifying and popularizing the pensive creature.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

revolving-door

Reading an insightful article from the New York Times, at the recommendation of the watchdog group Corporate Observatory Europe concerning the metastasising lobbying-culture that America has helped introduced to the European Union and while the trend is most disturbing, I paused to wonder in today's environment where hypocrisies are immediately exposed (and though sometimes buried again right away but the truth will out, always) and only muddied by spin and ideologues whose sophistry is only grounded in commissions if such pressures and duplicity actually still meant anything. Bad behaviour and half-truths once uncovered become rather indefensible, like that other American commodity of surveillance, which has rendered secrecy and respect irrelevant. Does it matter that legislation is bullied or lubricated by influence-peddlers when their roles are subject to more and more public displays and outfitted with corporate logos like NASCAR racers and other niche sports before their audiences?

We all know who the puppet-masters are, even if the free-press is not sacrosanct neither. It is rather telling, however, of the troupes of legal-eagles entrenched in Brussels, making a corridor of lobby groups around the halls of power, have introduced recruitment of former politicians, fresh out of office, to ply their know-how, whereas before this was not a common practise, representatives content to retire or harmlessly play the grey-imminence to younger generations. As voters grow wise to these culture-shift that blurs the distinction between corporate and public interests, I hope that relaxing of standards and changing of priorities become harder to hide from view. Democratic processes and due review cannot simply become something of a show, a formality to be overcome, and hopeful the combined lag of bureaucracy on a super-national level, frustrating as it can be sometimes, can work also to uncover and slow the work of lobbyists.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

laissez-faire is everywhere

There were several stories in circulation this week, echoing from many corners of the world and many times without deference to this being the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the too-big-to-fail financial house whose downfall placed economics internationally in chaos, that proclaimed real and shadow markets to be fully recovered and no longer in danger of relapse.

Maybe some early optimists took the occasion to express a brighter outlook and the mimics missed the crux of the context and rather not let ancient history complicate an apparent slow-news day or revive unpleasant memories and fueled with the hopes of returning to simpler and more trusting times—an economic nostalgia when the labour situation in Greece had nothing to do with the price of eggs and banks were an insulating factor true to their word that tomorrow could only be bigger and better. Indeed, some the language was reminiscent of the patriotic overtures to just go shopping in the aftermath of the September 11 Attacks to restore the world economy. Never mind about confidences shaken and disintegrated, the disclosure of inflationary and unethical practices, the stark shift away from social good and board and bed lost and increasingly aggressive circling-of-wagons by the banking aristocracy and their court, their sophists—journalism being a big part of that estate, to keep the game going. Dwelling on the negative and preaching doom and gloom is only helpful as a reminder and urging precaution—not that pathological adventurers need inspiration, but I do wonder sometimes who sponsors such spin and de-programming.

Friday, 13 September 2013

austausch, b-gosh

Long had European Union Commissioner for Internal Affairs Malmström held her tongue over the on-going revelations of the breadth and depth of indiscriminate intelligence gathering on the part of the US—not, I think, out of a lack of concern or zeal but rather to not bait controversy prematurely, but digesting the reported reach of the spying, suggested that the lack of transparency could lead to the EU's withdrawal from the SWIFTBanking Treaty with the United States.

The agreement provides that the signatories hand over certain financial transactions to America, in the name of combating tax-evasion and money-laundering and rooting out all imaginable evils. Malmström, after learning how the SWIFT clearing-house for international bank transfers is apparently already subject to eavesdropping, she questions why they are now asking permission. Her statements have galvanised the parliament in Strasbourg and several factions have agreed to join together with demands that all cards be laid on the table, including back-door practices. Quitting the treaty would be a significant affront US-EU relations and mark the first time that a bilateral data-sharing (Austausch) arrangement was challenged—a few of which the Swedish commissioner herself helped orchestrate.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

santo cáliz

Our little neighbourhood is having a little celebration with live music and a beer-tent called after the community's namesake, St. Lawrence—a Laurentiusfest. It falls on the weekend of his Saint Day and matyrdom. Originally hailing from Aragon, Lawrence went on to study theology and liberal arts at the university of Zaragoza where he became acquainted with Sixtus—the future pope. After completing his studies, the two traveled to Rome in the mid third century.  There Lawrence was ordained as a deacon of the Church and given the important office of treasurer, overseeing accounting for the inventory of artefacts (hence his patronage of librarians and accountants, records still exist showing where the diaspora of treasures ended up), donations and charitable disbursement.
All was thrown into disarray, however, when the Roman emperor demanded that the Church offer him all their treasure as tribute. Methodically, Lawrence was able to give away all Church property to the poor and when the legates of the emperor can to demand tribute, Lawrence presented them with the faithful and humble members of the community, announcing that the poor was the Church's greatest treasure and was far richer for them than the Empire will ever be. For this affront, the delegation grilled Lawrence alive on a gridiron (hence his patronage for roasters and comedians, supposedly having asked to be flipped over as he was done on one side). One particular item on the books, a cup hewn out of a piece of agate and regarded by many, including Pope Benedict XVI who used it during a Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of Valencia in 2006 and Pope John Paul II in 1982, as the genuine Chalice of Christ used at the Last Supper, the Holy Grail, Lawrence saw fit to entrust to a soldier who was on his way from Rome back to Lawrence's homeland by the Pyrenees. The soldier delivered the relic to Lawrence's parents, and has been since preserved and venerated in various monasteries and churches in Spain, mostly quietly and without the Hollywood treatment or the romance (though with no less reverence) associated with the other contenders for this vessel.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

cri de couer or you can't handle the truth

Although I still declare that anyone truly shocked by learning that the world is the prying, groping place is a measure naïve or even complacent or complicit, public attention and outrage ought not be placated by life intimato Ars, the words of prophets of doom, or by practicality, commonality—offensive aspirations.

As more is revealed, everyone will have transgressions against the public trust to confess and defend. Arguing that tolerance and reciprocation do not justify the ends invite the same kind of arrogance of seeing the Big Picture, omnipresence, as does the intelligence Manifest Destiny of the US and conspirators. The disabusing quality of the former is far from palatable and probably inures one to the successive headlines—not only in bed with the telecommunication utilities, foreign intelligence agencies but also trawling from the series of tubes, upstream, that make up the internet and now there is an apparent mandate for snitching that's a free-pass for going beyond regular nosiness and jumping to conclusions and this mass-deputization is bound to go above and beyond—and may go far, in a social sense, of explaining why there is a poignant absence of rage on the perpetrating and perpetrated public—that and a convenient coalescing of economic conditions and conditional victories that deflect securities as a very—be-not-proud personal choice.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

oh weal, oh woe or ttip—ta ta for now

Watchdog CEO (Corporate Europe Observatory) delves into the details of the US-EU trade agreement that was ratified at the G9 summit and shows how, without much imagination of an embarrassment of gullibility, public welfare is becoming a nuisance easily steamrolled by business interests, constituted in such a way as to give industry carte-blanche to flagrantly ignore established national laws and policies and give pause to governments thinking of championing the common weal.  Of course this development is vying for attention (or rather, seeking cover) with the Conference itself and the effective-date for FATCA in Germany, plus whatever distracting scandal of the day. 

When regulatory climates are seen as damaging to investor profits or acting toward the detriment of health, labour-rights, safety or the environment—depending on one's perspective, both parties are bound to submit their cases before a kangaroo court of arbitrated settlement, the commission for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), headed by a group of lawyers with an established reputation. Lobbyists on both sides of the Atlantic are responsible for crafting these conditions, and thankful activists the world around are keenly aware of the dangers of disincentivizing de-soverigning, too. Unfortunately public service has its price, as well, demonstrated by the precursors to this treaty.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

through the looking-glass


Though there is no other side of the coin, no deflecting of blame that makes trawling the internet in the name of security any more dolphin-friendly or excusable behaviour, but perhaps early-adopters of new technologies might exercise more caution and general-users might want to give less weight to convenience, banking on-line or ordering from shops on the internet or over-sharing.
 After all, it seems that a Handy is a tracking-device, a transponder (and not a black-box) that happens to include something called a “Calling - App,” and so forth. Smart phones can summarily out fox us. Although corporations have tried to quash freedom and utility on the world wide web, no monopoly or cartel—or legal codex, has been able to keep in stride with innovation and re-invention. Should the newest gadget or platform, however, be regarded with the healthy suspicion that they are merely casings for bugs and spy cameras, maybe America will realise that its policies and diplomacy have consequences, inward and outward.

Friday, 17 May 2013

oil rush or fun size

I heard that the European Union parliament issued a rather embarrassing, and I think, patronising decision that effective at the beginning of next year will make those condiment trays, vials, carafes of salad oil and vinegar and similar containers go the way of ashtrays on restaurant tables.

Not citing hygienic concerns, food-safety or any other reason that might sound plausible, the consumer commission ruled that such toppings can only be offered to guests in sealed bottles, because diners have the right to know exactly what their putting on their salads. I am sure these new measures will only result in greater expenses passed along to the customers and the end of anything complimentary in as far as the service and setting, not to mention more trash with the disposable, single-serving containers (not for individual sale but maybe with adverts or fun facts like sugar packets, I’m sure) only a quarter used. I really hope there is no sinister motive behind this, like pressure from the cartel of miniature bottle-makers, but rather just a parliamentarian over-excited by his brilliant idea for keeping us safe and honest or better yet a cryptic way towards economic recovery for some of the EU’s problem-children—Spain, Greece and Italy—all producers of olive oil

Monday, 29 April 2013

sjörnustríð: ný von

This past Saturday, Iceland held parliamentary elections, which proved a great disturbance for the establishment, already sorely reduced by the popular backlash to incumbents over their wrecking of the national economy. Observers are calling the rebel scum that roundly stole the vote, minority and independent parties, euroskeptics and threaten to derail further Icelandic integration. Well, the nerve—I suppose we ought not to pay any more attention to them and their shenanigans.
Here is a picture of the mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr Kristinsson—an actor, bassist and comedian besides, casting his ballot. It’s his business of course whom he voted for, but I’ll wager as a free-agent himself and founder of the Best Party (Besti flokkurinn) whose platform promised listening more to women and old people since those groups tend to be marginalised, he’s not in lock-step with the old guard.



Tuesday, 19 March 2013

the rites of spring or where the wild things are

As Winter looks to be coming to an end in earnest, photographer Charles Fréger shares his sociology project of documenting ritual traditions and variations across nineteen countries in Europe, capturing the costumes and customs put on in order to coax in brighter days. These ceremonies date from pre-history and have continued uninterrupted, even in the midst of thoroughly modern Europe.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

stella! or fiat means of payment

The EU monetary union and its currency, the euro, has deeper roots, reaching back to the nineteenth century with attendant problems and complications, and was directly inspired by a earlier coalition by the name of the Latin Monetary Union. Founding members Switzerland, Italy, France and Belgium decided in 1865 to tether their respective national coinage to a certain ratio of silver redeemable in gold, which was legal tender among all members.

Later Venezuela, Spain, Greece, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Romania, Bulgaria and the Holy Sea joined—with even the United States of America seriously considering taking part in the grand experiment. I never realized that the national pride of the franc, peso, drachma and mark was not so long-lived and had been sublimed before. H told me about this earlier attempt but I never knew what the union was called. The currency, however, had barely overcome many structural challenges before its dissolution during the inter-bellum years. The ultimate failure was due, in the main, to an institutionalized practice of and market for debasing. Though the coin’s face value was honoured universally, some mints were debasing their coins (some of the usual suspects were the greatest offenders), using less precious-metal content than prescribed. Other opportunists, notably the Germans, took advantage of this differential in specie, exchanging coins from countries out of compliance for more valuable bullion. By the same reasoning contemporarily if one could have all of one’s wealth expressed with pennies and had a buyer for the zinc and copper, one could see the value almost double. Despite all its failures at conception, the Latin Monetary Union had a long run and I wonder what lessons are applicable to the current situation.

Monday, 18 February 2013

across the pond

While the media focus on European economic policies and tax accords from the perspective of the States seems more preoccupied with the potential spillage and knock-on effects of the proposed Tobin Tax, a levy on financial transactions and market trades, the burgeoning talk of a trans-Atlantic Free-Trade-Agreement, urged by both the US administration and European commission president seems an idea comfortably, tantalizingly far away.

Though it is probably true, for both optimists and pessimists, that reaching any kind of meaningful and functional compromise, aligning US and EU standards on safety, quality and transparency, can only be achieved in a receding distant future, displaced by politics and protectionism (by those current players who would be excluded, too), the notion and the will for such an arrangement is not a Fata Morgana that one can never meet. Naïvely, perhaps, but not without hope as there have been plenty of examples of Bridges to Nowhere over trade and tariffs, like the bickering over the aerospace giants or the fact that one cannot purchase a Silver Lady in the States but embassies of genetically modified organisms, untested drugs and wage inequity are equally unwelcomed, the mutual benefits have been articulated, of substantial increases for the gross domestic products of European nations through fewer administrative and process barriers and greater job security for American export industries.
Those sound positive on balance, but I fear that consumer protections will suffer through compromise. Instead of meeting half-way or adopting the more stringent standards of one partner, existing safeguards, like employment rights, food labeling requirements, safety standards and protection for the environment and livestock will be relaxed, diluted in order to meet industry imposed milestones. I hope that this is not the case, because risking health and security is no lubricant for trade, and to prevent these attitudes from prevailing, one cannot take the stance that procrastination and off-putting is acceptable, any more than in the here and now surrendering one’s sovereignty and self-determination to creditors is.

Friday, 25 January 2013

autostrada

Since their inception, there have been standards enshrined in the culture of highways, Autobahnen with the intent of breaking up monotony without sparing on utility. There are mandates for gentle curves in order to keep drivers alert, in contrast to straightaway, required in some places to allow for emergency airplane landings.
Sometimes such subtler persuasions are overshadowed by constant construction works, same-otherwise by a few vistas of spectacular scenery and roads hugging the contours of the landscape. There are still, however, quite a number of long numbing stretches of road, especially for the express route through flat lands. Although not common in America or Germany, there are score of techniques tried in France, Denmark and the Netherlands to with art streaming along the margins, posts a-pace with the traffic that change like flip-book animation, rather abstract and Jungian and light installations. Some really creative things have been done, but now such Dutch civil engineers are applying their artistry to creating smart-roads, beginning with a stretch of highway by Eindhoven.

Though the pavement is yet to be steam-rolled and there is a balance of skeptics, planners are brimming with ideas, like hyper-colour reactive paint, that yields neon blue snow flake patterns on the asphalt when temperatures dip below freezing or luminescent lanes that glow in the dark, roads that monitor traffic conditions and issue reports (displaying warning to drivers of on-coming traffic jams), cull wind power from passing cars to power a lane designated for electric automobiles that they might be charged en route. I imagine that quite a bit of energy could be harnessed in intelligent and passive ways. A lot of ideas to make vehicles more efficient are making some head-way but still fall short of where we should be, but paying heed to the pavement, the other substrate may yield a lot of inventive solutions.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

mountain high, valley low

Two recent articles featured via Neatorama offer up an intriguing triangulation touching ethics, technical feasibility, the capacity for imagination as well as questioning what it means to be human through the lens of speciation. The latter points to a very interesting interview between reporters with Der Spiegel and a Harvard professor who is one of the leading thinkers in the field of synthetic biology, regarding the possibility of resurrecting the Neanderthals, whose genetic map has already been successfully sequenced and cloning this branch of the family of man would be (after all the questions are answered, and the scientist and his team invite public debate as essential) a relatively simple matter of finding a willing surrogate.
Like the Jurassic era (adapted into an early cautionary-tale) is named for a mountain range in the western alps, the sub-species Neanderthal is named after a valley (Tal) near Düsseldorf, frequented by a pastor in the 1800s, called Joachim Neumann (Neander is the Greek-form of new man) for inspiration. The characteristic limestone layer of the age was first discovered in the Jura mountains, and the fossilized skeleton of our cousins was first recognized for what it could be in Neander’s valley. Notwithstanding the harvests of genetically modified crops that have infiltrated our food supplies mostly out of business interest (we have not yet made good on the promise of drought-resistant crops for famine-struck regions but that is not a profit that companies can necessarily take to the bank), vaccines, and pedigrees of dogs and cats, it is not acceptable to create or revive sentient beings purely for the benefit and advancement of human kind—in the style of Planet of the Apes, however, Neanderthal physique was at minimum more robust than ours and may have been smarter than their lither and perhaps crueler competitors.

We already do not know how to procede with the little knowledge we already have about tinkering with DNA and are not able to treat other humans humanely, so perhaps this sort of thinking is a bit premature but it still does not remain unreachably in the realm of fantasy. Neanderthals could conceivably have a different take on intellect and help solve the problems that the surviving Homo sapiens created, make new scientific discoveries and be kinder, more empathetic leaders—maybe the ruling class we need rather than putting our trust in the hands of robotic overlords. Mingling our genetic material would create more diversity, too, and perhaps provide resistance to a host of human diseases. These last two benefits lead to the former article regarding what the Star Trek franchise has taught us about evolutionary biology.
The humans accepted the benevolent tutelage of the more experienced Vulcans before arrogantly taking on the Universe like the Wild West, and characters like Mr. Spock, Mr. Worf (Worf was raised by adoptive human parents), Counselor Troi, and B’elanna Torres were outstanding representatives of both sides of their families. One wonders if alien races could really inter-breed, and perhaps it was just a plot-device to excuse costuming and set-design due to budget-constraints (the teleporter was written into the storyline because it was cheaper than staging a ship landing every episode) but the analysis recalls an episode from the Next Generation that explains the humanoid appearance through panspermia, orchestrated by a dying primogenitor race—as well as the hybrid children, since the concept of specie is marked by the ability to cross-breed naturally. Maybe science fiction does not answer all the ethical and philosophical quandaries when it comes to experimenting with genetics, but it probably does provide a good place to start.

Friday, 28 December 2012

sweded

The Swedish language is celebrated as a plastic and living entity and each year dozens of new words are championed by the Språkrådet, the national language council.

While many of these new words are for the nonce, topical, portmanteaux or English adoptions, may not be destined forever and ever in the country’s lexicon, it is laudable that such an institution takes an interest in bon mots. Among my favourites on the list released for 2012 (the story is no longer there but please visit the Swedish daily for similar ones) are Ogooglebar (something or someone who produces no hits in an internet search), Nomofob (anxiety due to being on-line and disconnected—from no mobile phone phobia), and Henifiera (to make a statement gender neutral, in reference to the re-introduction of the neuter pronoun hen to the Swedish language this past year, a grammatically correct way to use the ambiguous and incorrect they instead of committing to he or she). The year before, some of the inventive terms included: Säpojogg (a word to describe the gait of secret agents running in business suits after their wards), Åsiktstaliban (someone who won’t give other opinions consideration) and Flipperförälder (the exact opposite of helicopter-parenting, adventuresome and encouraging pin-ball parents).

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

null set

I first thought it was a gag-headline but soon realized that indeed, with various levels of earnestness and symbolism behind the dissent, all fifty states of the union have filed petitions (via an official submittinator) for peaceful and orderly withdrawal from the United States of America.

A block including Texas and many of the original secessionist states of the Confederacy has garnered more than the threshold of signatures and support to warrant (not deign, mind you, and to the horror I imagine of a silent majority of stake-holders that would rather remain part of the US) an official response from the White House. Maybe the hardliners ought to be allowed to try it on their own, most likely to their own chagrin since many of these maverick lands are the biggest recipients of federal aid and get more in return in national taxes than they pay in, not to mention infrastructure, social support and protection and quite a bit in the way of services hard and costly to recreate on a sub-national level. What’s astounding to me is that each and every state has expressed a desire to divorce itself either from select members or from the whole club. It’s as if one might as well start over—and more than a bit disheartening. Even the most notorious and incorrigible members have been spared being forcibly ejected so far—and even with more uncertain and arguably less venerable unions, I don’t believe there’s been discussion or the will to let it splinter into its constituents.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

ojos bien cerrados or pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

There a perfect cover for the meeting of finance ministers and reserve bank chiefs of the G20 nations going on in Mexico. One wonders about the timing of such things and though the meeting seems kind of formal and anodyne, one still cannot quite shake the feeling that important decisions are being vetted—the kind that governments cannot rely on democracy and openness to choose wisely. There is no rudeness, nor strategic advantage, I think, in not waiting for the outcome of the US elections, even though neither of these events went unplanned or were scheduled in a vacuum.

I fear that the results will be hotly contested and unknown for weeks, but regardless of the conclusion and attendant consequences, the US president will be accedes to the same fiscal situation. Most of the discussion in Mexico seems to be economic-boilerplate, not choking off near-term growth by too great a focus on austerity and discipline, deferring the savings and necessary restructuring for later, all which might seem a rather insignificant message to come out of the gathering of so much talent, power and influence ten-thousand kilometers away (for the EU representatives) but bureaucracy is often like that.
In as much as some events might like to have the spotlight stolen from, maybe this conference also stands for the scales that fell away from one’s eyes in another regard (scales—that phrase has been haunting me throughout the campaign, an obscure and automatic saying like, “As I lay dying, the woman with the dog’s eyes would not close my eyes as I descend into the underworld”): the chaos the whole of the banking and financial system has wrought. Maybe the illusion is dispelled that covered up the cycle of boom and bust that is a dissonance and a disconnect from the real economy and only plays policy into the hands of money-managers. The allure and ease, stoked by private concerns, keep central banks and ministers distracted from the real charges and warrants. The charade crested in 2008 and left many disillusioned but so long as there is money to be made off of money, some will try to keep up this effluvious momentum. Maybe such overshadowed events, spared some attention through timing, are acknowledgments that people are weary of talk without protection, calls for reform and toning down the rhetoric of ascetics, and efforts and assessments to bridge disorder best not receive top-billing so we’re not all heir to this fiscal froth.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

verðlaun, iad duais, the prize, o prémio, el premio, el premi, ar priz, le prix, de prijs, den präis, der prisen, premija, den prisen, i priset, palkinto, auhind, der preis, il premio, præmium, il premju, lu premiu, w nagroda, a díj, cena, çmimi, premiul, τα βραβεία, прэмія

It is a great honour to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, along with 502 million fellow Europeans, and I believe in the congratulatory and admonishing spirit of the committee’s unanimous decision. Individuals surely take on the burden and potential of promoting harmony, too, and there are worthy and magnanimous individuals out there working in the public and struggling in the shadows to those ends, but awards en masse, neither slights for the other nominees nor anodyne and over-cautious, are not without precedent, like when the prize was given to Doctors without Borders (Médecins sans Frontièrs, Ärzte ohne Grenzen) or Great Britain conferring the George Cross collectively to the people of Malta for gallantry during World War II.

Cumulatively, the people of Europe and not just their ombudsmen and institutions have realized peace, progress and understanding while preserving and even sharpening individual culture and heritage in just scant decades from a landscape of conflict and autocracy. Conspicuous heroism is sometimes hard to see in the glare of everyday daylight. This is a feat that should not go unrecognized and the prize is not diluted by bureaucracy as an instrument of reconciliation and cooperation that goes by an institutional name, but rather, I believe, serves as an important nudge that everyone, regulators and citizens and those associates and cadets branches and those waiting in the wings alike, should try to live up to what’s been bestowed on and inherited and be not distracted from the course by threats that divide and diminish.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

la serenissima

The UK daily the Telegraph is reporting on a secessionist movement and mass rally along the canals of the city of Venice, which may gain more traction at a quicker pace than other parallel calls for independence in Scotland from Great Britain and Catalonia from Spain.

United Italy already hosts the devolved Papal States as the Vatican, the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta and the Republic of San Marino (plus a few other aspirants) within its borders, and the maritime and mercantile empire of the doges only became annexed due to the barn-storming of Napoleon’s armies, like many other city-states and pocket-republics across the continent—with some notable allowances. The roots of this protest go back decades but economic instability and having to pay tribute to Rome may be the trigger that carries this popular movement. Reasserting lapsed boundaries, once the first province is freed, I think will cascade quite quickly and I don’t know how the map will look afterwards.