About me

My name is Protesilaos Stavrou, also known as “Prot”. I was born in Greece, the August of 1988. I am a Cypriot citizen. Perhaps it is best to describe myself as a Renaissance man, in that I am multidisciplinary.

My work and what I do

Policy analysis and research

I received university education as a political scientist with a deep understanding of economics; a specialist in the European integration process and the governance of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union.

Between February 2012 and July 2014 I worked as a Parliamentary Assistant to Rui Tavares @ruitavares: a Portuguese Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group.

More recently, I collaborated with the Centre for European Policy Studies. I offered expertise in the preparation of the H2020 project proposal Examining The Processes Of Legitimacy. Rule of Law, Fundamental Rights and Crises in the EU (EURULNET), within the Call CULT-COOP-01-2017 of the European Commission.

I also apply that expertise in my independent research on European Union politics, the fruits of which are available on this website, in the form of analyses and opinion articles, seminars, and books.

My work is non-partisan. It is focused on the main themes of policy, its underlying factors and drivers. Though I do stand for certain ideals, broadly covering the areas of civil liberties and social progress, my approach is rooted in pragmatism.

Web development

I write code mostly in CSS/SCSS/Less and HTML, while I am refining my JavaScript skills. I do also edit Vim script, BASH, and a bit of Ruby.

My focus is on content-driven websites. No gimmicks, no distractions. They must present information in a clear, readily accessible, and device agnostic manner.

All of my code is distributed under the terms of an open source license. You can find more about my projects in the code sections of this website.

Also have a look at my contributions on GitHub and GitLab where the actual content is hosted.

My life in general

Philosophical attitude

Philosophy is one of my main intellectual pursuits, especially epistemology, logic, metaphysics, and ethics. Bear in mind that by “philosophy” I do not mean “spirituality” or “religion”, useful as those may be. My approach is that of the self-doubting, rigorous scientist, who seeks to discover the abstract structure of the world revealed to them through sense and reason.

As I see it, philosophy defines a certain disposition towards things. It may be found in the attributes or consubstantial qualities of a person who is:

  • Dialectical. Open to practical reason and cogent counter-arguments, i.e. not dogmatic.
  • Aporetic. Dubitative of the degree of truthfulness of propositions that leave room for diverging interpretations.
  • Zetetic. Inquisitive and willing to broaden their horizons even after having established some basic fact.

Plato is the philosopher I have studied the most. The Pyrrhonian sceptics are another group I am particularly interested in. While I do appreciate the ancient thinkers and the overall history of thought, I am of the view that modern philosophy must remain in sync with science and technology.1

Polyglot

If we only account for natural languages, I qualify as a polyglot in the making. I speak and write in English, Greek, and French. My Spanish is okay, while I have a basic understanding of Portuguese. I try to become more proficient in all of them and would like to learn at least one or two more.

I would, nonetheless, make the case that code languages also form part of one’s linguistic and analytical skills. Code is a combination of syntax and formal logic or reasoning. To learn such a language—and to be considered fluent in it—one must think and “speak” (write) in its terms; just as with natural languages.

If such an argument holds, then my linguistic skills are broad enough and, most importantly, are expected to be broadened even further.

Free software user and supporter

I do all my computing on a GNU/Linux operating system. My distribution of choice is Debian.

The reasons I do not choose to use either Windows or macOS are both technical and ethical:

  • Concerning the former, I have found that I am most productive when I can get things done my own way. This entails using the tools I want, with the exact configurations I need, plus all the system-wide customisations that remove the perceived friction between me and the machine. Only Linux gets out of my way in a manner I find satisfactory.
  • As for the moral part, I do appreciate the normative value of free software (“free” as in “freedom”), the innovation and cross-pollination of open source, as well as the material benefits these provide us with (which also relate to the technical reasons).

I champion free software whenever and wherever I can. For friends and family I help them install either Linux Mint or Ubuntu MATE. These are solid choices for most desktop use cases.

Users can benefit greatly from such tools as the LibreOffice suite, the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), the VLC media player, the Kdenlive video editor, the Ardour digital audio workstation, and so many more.

The added benefits of having no built-in spyware and concomitant corporate backdoors further strengthen the argument for digital—and by extent physical, collective—liberty.

If you need help switching to free software, contact me.

My dotfiles contain configurations for some of my favourite applications, as well as the settings for my current setup.

Canine handler

Atlas the dog

I live with a puppy named “Atlas”. Born in late August 2016. He is a mutt who has the characteristics of a Molossoid catch dog: solidly built, strong, and athletic. At ten months old his height is ~60cm (24in) at the withers, while he weighs ~30kg (66lb).

I only use positive methods to instruct him. No physical punishment, no reliance on such items as prong or choke collars. The point is to make the dog harness his potential through a combination of instinct and thought. To recognise patterns that yield rewards and to behave accordingly.

Atlas has always enjoyed socialisation with people and other animals, regular exercise, as well as consistent and meticulous mental training. The latter covers the various instructions on how to “sit”, “stay”, “come”, “heel” etc. and to concentrate on me even in the face of major distractions. I want him to be docile and good with his manners. Being calm is intrinsically important though it also helps overcome the prejudices people have about [large] dogs.

Personality

I am a quiet, cool-headed person. Friendly, adaptable, and eager to help, yet very much independent. I prefer writing to speaking, simplicity to complexity, a walk in the forest to a social gathering, function over spectacle. My personality type is a Myers-Briggs INTP, though take such generalisations with a grain of salt.

My online presence

I have been posting content on protesilaos.com since February 2011.2 This is the platform that presents in an organised and meaningful way all of my intellectual work.

Its minimal presentation (or neat underlying code base) should not offer the impression of it being a pastime activity or mere afterthought of mine.

It is at the epicentre of all I do in terms of thinking, writing, and coding: a major content hub, hosting over 500 articles and featuring a growing number of publications on several fronts.

  1. My writings on philosophy encompass approximately 60 articles, published between mid-2013 and mid-2015. Because of practical reasons, I no longer write about purely philosophical issues though I do continue to study them. Nevertheless, many of my current writings incorporate philosophical insights or delve into theoretical themes. ^

  2. This website has evolved considerably over the years. It started off as a simple blog on Blogger, turner into a self-hosted WordPress site, and now exists as a set of files that are transformed into static pages with Jekyll. The source code contains only the latter and only since I moved hosting from GitHub to GitLab. ^