Posts

Showing posts from 2009

The Last Post of 2009

My Christmas break has certainly been busy. Christmas was great - assuredly the best I've ever had, and I hope they'll get better and better every year. No time has been my own, however, save some moments before going to sleep and during very rare other intervals. I wouldn't have it any other way though - I've loved spending every moment I can with my girlfriend while we are both together again, and I love spending all the time I can with my family too. I just wish I had more of it to give.

This last week aside, there are much bigger things to think about on the last day of December. 2009 is nearly over, as is the entire first decade of the 21st century. For the world and myself, this decade has ushered in an unquantifiable amount of change. Lives, relationships, attitudes, ideas, and possibilities have all developed and changed throughout the world, and I have grown and become the person I am today. Who could say I haven't changed drastically since I was eight? Fr…

It's Over!

Well this is a first. I'm writing this post from my iPhone while sitting at my gate in National Airport, waiting for my flight to Seattle, followed closely enough by my flight home.

What is so urgent to blog about that I had to do it from my phone? Well, I just had to tell you... It's over!

As of now there is no more being at Georgetown, no more being in DC, no more classes, no more schoolwork - not, at least, until two weeks into the year 2010.

(It will, mark my words, be said twenty-ten).

Oh, and by the way... Merry Christmas!

Changing Perspectives

Clearly perspectives on life will change over any time of substantial enough length. This is especially true for any kid going to college for the first time, even more for one from Alaska in Washington DC. Many of my perspectives on a large number of things have changed over this critical span of my first semester at Georgetown, albeit most of them very subtly and gradually. In fact, there seem to be so many I can't begin to recount them (although that may have more to do with subtlety and gradualness than number).

There are, however, two changes in perspective that have come up just recently for me. They may be mundane, but hopefully relatively interesting.

The first is much more briefly explained. Do you ever visualize the days of the week? I think I am a particularly visual person, and for the longest time in my life I have always seen Sunday as being smaller than Saturday (or shorter, if you see a week-long calendar in your mind and each day has a column). The biggest source …

Finding the Soviet Union: Fun on Wikipedia

It is said that one can go from any article on Wikipedia to the article on the Soviet Union in no more than six links. Right now, I have decided to test that theory. I clicked "random article" on Wikipedia, leading me to John Joachim Zubly. (Forgive me for never having heard of this person before in my life.) From there, I go to United States.From there, I go to Cold War.And then we have Soviet Union. Too easy! That only took three. Let's try another. My new random article is R705 road. (Irish regional road - perhaps not so simple, eh?) From there I choose Ireland (the only rational choice available).Next, United NationsThen the Security CouncilAnd from there I can easily get Soviet Union. Not too hard! - just four. Well, I clearly am procrastinating, so I will leave it up to the reader to try this out for themselves, or perhaps find a more challenging Wikipedia game. Perhaps trying to get to a much more obscure topic would be better? See how few jumps you can take to get fro…

I Have a Dream

Image
As of a few minutes ago, I discovered a new and very fun internet tool called Wordle. In searching for something cool to make a word cloud out of, I tried the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the essay I am currently writing (about the concept of there being two "lefts" in Latin America) as well as this very blog. Then I settled on the most famous speech of one of the world's most inspirational figures: Martin Luther King Jr.
Here is my word cloud made of 100 words from "I Have a Dream." Honestly, Martin Luther King Day is probably my favorite holiday. I've already been thinking about what I'll do to celebrate. Everyone mark January 18th on your calendars! Go be inspired! And try out Wordle too.

Unfinished Posts of the Past: Civil Disobedience and Stimulus

I've been looking over posts that I still have saved as drafts, wondering if it would be possible to resurrect them. All of them are incomplete, of course, but I believe I found two that have enough substance to spark a little thought if anyone reads them. I know I never could get my mind back on the same track enough to finish writing these old unfinished posts and still do the original ideas justice, so instead I will post them in their incomplete state. Hopefully the reader will enjoy them, and maybe you can even add to them! 25 January 2009 Those who have read much of my writing may be aware of the emphasis I place on priorities - especially when it comes to ideals or idealistic goals. Perhaps most commonly I talk about priorities when it comes to animal rights; let's pursue human rights first, folks. Regardless, in readdressing the issue of pacifism recently I've come to the conclusion that my focus is misplaced when I talk about violence and war. Usually I only talk ab…

The Fallacy of the "Clash of Civiliazations"

Three days of class and seven classes remain in my first semester of college: 2 French classes, my last proseminar session, and two lectures each of Econ and HAC. My last International Relations lecture was Friday. And after my classes are over, I will have six days for study, and then four days for the first four college finals of my life. Then I go home! - to the first Christmas of my adult life.

International Relations has not been my favorite class, especially because of its emphasis on theories that I feel greatly oversimplify very complex issues. In fact, a few times throughout the semester it was mentioned that the goal of these theories in International Relations is in fact to simplify things, because if we tried to take everything into account we'd be historians. Well, I for one WANT TO BE A HISTORIAN.

Despite this disagreement of mine with much of the foundation for the class, we still covered some pretty interesting ideas, including ones with which I've agreed and d…

Twilight, and Ketchikan's Superlative Rainfall

Of late, (as in this evening and early morning), there has been one widely-recognized, easily-discussable thing have been on my mind. I'm sorry to say this, but it's been the Twilight books. I have not read Twilight, nor do I plan to. Unfortunately, this happy reality gives me pause to criticize books I have not read. Therefore, I will not judge (in writing). Instead, here are three points regarding Twilight that arouse my flawed and all-too-human biases: It is popular. Call me elitist, but I have had a long-standing tendency to suspect things that rush into mainstream adoration. (Wow - you can tell I have been thinking in French when it actually took me five seconds to conjugate "suspect" - suspicize?) Actually, rather than being anything close to "elitist" I think my suspicion stems from the rush, not the mainstream. I am a major proponent of the argumentum ad populum - and some of the time I even believe it is not at its root a fallacy. Instead I think t…

One Week, One Month

It is one week until I leave DC for the first time since coming here 92 days ago. It's also exactly a month until I will leave with my first semester of college complete.

Has college been how I thought it would be? Yes and no. Classes are just about how I expected them to be - lectures a couple times a week, papers, etc. I hadn't really imagined my classes being as large as they are, but I guess I can't complain as a freshman, and I know things will get a lot more personal each year.

I do have a couple pet peeves, and they probably need little explanation: water and noise. I think I drink WAY less than I should here, largely because the water really isn't that appetizing and I forget to bring water bottles to the dining hall to steal drinks. Finding somewhere quiet outside during the day has got to be impossible, and even during the night there's usually a building buzzing or something like that. The airplanes (and helicopters) overhead can be annoying, but I'v…

Next Semester's Preregistration and a School Update

Here's what I plan on taking next semester!
Advanced French IIPolitical and Social ThoughtHistory of Asian Cultures IIHistory of Africa II, andPrinciples of Macroeconomics I would say that school is going really well, as I think it is, but I think I will wait for the jury to come back on two very important tests I took last week before I say that with unchecked exuberance. Last Wednesday I took my second Microeconomics midterm, which I believe most people in the class were dreading (myself included) but then come the test, the questions were far easier than I could have possibly expected. In fact, I finished 25 minutes early. Was it really that easy? Or did I fool myself somehow? We'll have to see.
The other important test I took was un examen français on Friday. It's the third one of the year, and considering how badly the first went I think it's pretty important I don't get anywhere near that grade again. The quiz covered a lot of vocabulary, as well as grammar re…

Saturday Scavenging, Sunday Sleep

This weekend, I was a competitor in The Big Hunt, a city-wide scavenger hunt for Georgetown freshmen. I was on a team of five named "Cool Team Awesome Cool" (and I had nothing to do with that). The five of us are all from the two living and learning communities in the Southwest Quad, so we had all been in the same two orientation groups and know each other pretty well.

When we started off at 9:30 in the morning, we initially split up, the captain and I running, jogging and walking to Dupont Circle (nearly two miles) while the other three went to the Kennedy Center. Each team was given a booklet like a program you'd get for a performance, and each page had different places to go to and different questions to answer or activities to do. So while the rest of the team answered questions at the Kennedy Center, the captain and I did a model walk around the fountain at Dupont (gaining us star stickers from the Hunt coordinators who watched us), sang the Georgetown fight song, …

The Peace Prize and Updates on My Life

When we last left our blogger, he had just pledged to post more frequently, albeit more briefly. It has been nine days since then and the Publisher has been in stasis. Not to fear! I promise - I bring change.

Speaking of change, I would like to briefly address a news event that I heard about this morning in French class. In the past there have been questionable winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, maybe even ridiculous winners. All of these Nobel laureates, however, can be shown as actually having done something that might have contributed to peace. Apparently this policy has changed. Eight months as President of the United States is very little time to actually create peace, and Barack Obama has clearly has not accomplished anything in this vein. The Peace Prize has been consistently awarded to persons with long and prominent histories of service or who have worked tirelessly towards the attainment of selfless causes. Mahatma Gandhi, who I would argue is the greatest man of peace the wo…

Emails Home and a Blog Reassessment

I feel very negligent for having posted so little on my blog since coming to college. For half a year now I have written fewer and fewer posts each month. I have decided this needs to change.

If I want this blog to continue fulfilling its purposes - and I do - I am going to have to keep posting, and post more. Since arriving in DC my life has become busy enough that I feel entirely unable to produce posts of the length I'm used to writing, and indeed if I did so that would require time commitments that would further tax my work-filled and sleep-deprived schedule. Instead, I am going to aim for a simple alternative: I will write shorter blog posts.

Less than two hours remain in the month of September as I write this, meaning that this will be only my third post of the month, making it the least-blogged-about time period in my life since the creation of the Publisher. To think! - my first month in college being the time I write least about. It makes sense that I've written so li…

Pride in Porfirio et al.

This is the first essay I have ever written for a college class. It's definitely a piece of work, but I put a lot of work into it, and I am generally well pleased. Enjoy!

Writing addressing the causes of dictatorship in Latin American history may contain many names. These names appear gradually as specific examples of caudillos – dictators – or they come suddenly, listed in droves in a single sentence. Either way, experts on Latin America can summon a plethora of dictatorial examples, bombarding their readers with the names of persons historical. It seems that no single essay on caudillismo could list all its diversely-named incarnations. The question, then, is why these examples are so prevalent.

One writer particularly able to provide reasons for the rise of caudillos (and their names) is Peter H. Smith, author of “Political Legitimacy in Spanish America.” In his book Caudillos: Dictators in Spanish America, Hugh M. Hamill excerpts Smith’s essay, entitling the section “The Sear…

First Post From Georgetown

Much more has happened than I could possibly describe. I arrived in Washington DC the night of Friday, August 28th, and I've been at Georgetown University for eight full days, during three of which I've had class. Today is my second Sunday at GU, and the second on which I have not attended religious services. I did however go to the Student Activites Commission Fair today, and I signed up for information on a variety of different Georgetown organizations. The one that I'm perhaps most excited about is Habitat for Humanity, because I actually do really love construction, and I think it's the best way I've found to do service for others. For the rest of my day I may do reading, laundry, a few things for my classes, and then maybe watch a movie.

College so far has been a mix of many things: overscheduling, complete boredom, disappointment and incredible impressiveness. My class schedule, however, is quite interesting, and there isn't an opposite to fit it either:

1 Day: Before the Jump

I have now spent an hour of my final full day in Ketchikan. I don't plan on spending much more of it writing this blogpost, but it goes without saying that this coming moment will be somewhat bittersweet. Up until a few hours ago I hadn't really felt too sad or nervous about leaving, but now I am somewhat queasy over the thought of it. It's true that I really have never been apart from a family member for more than a week, and now I will be making a jump to being gone for nearly four months. I've also never been away from Ketchikan for much more than a month since my family moved here in 1994. Now that record will be nearly quadrupled. At this point, I feel I could never really be completely ready for making this kind of leap - but I know I'm going to take it anyway. When I do jump, I'm just going to have to adjust as I go, and I'm sure I'll be able to.

United States Noncompliant with Universal Declaration of Human Rights

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 22: Everyone is entitled to realization of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensible for his dignity and the free development of his personality. Article 23 (3): Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. Article 25 (1): Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. The U.S. health care system does not even pretend to ensure us these rights. It is time we made it do so.

14 Days: Master List

There now sits on my desk a paper that says "Master List:" subtitled "Do before you leave." Directly below these words is written a date, 28 August, followed by notes for a flight, and its confirmation code. Below this are four underlined categories spaced unevenly down the page. The first is College, then Scholarships, Home, and Other. While the other three currently have three tasks each, the "Home" category has eleven - and I keep thinking of more to add. I think about the summer homework I had for high school during the past three summers of my life and realize that those assignments are absolutely incomprable to what I have to do in the next fourteen days. Not only is there far more that I have to do, but the tasks I have before me are of an entirely different nature than I have faced in all the final weeks of summer vacations in the past - and there is one task in particular unlike any other I will ever have: On my Master List, it is denoted simply as …

Thoughts on 8 8 09 and a Foray into Health Care

Firstly, I will apologize to my nearly-nonexistent readership for the paucity of postage on this blog this entire summer - but particularly of late. I promise that I will continue to add to this as I head off to Georgetown. Posts may even become more frequent, as I think I may publish writing for various assignments here. No plagiarism please! :)

(I'm just hoping someone might find such writing interesting; plagiarism would be quite flattering - though still frowned upon, of course.)
Today is the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Beijing Olympics, as well as the involvement of Russia in conflict between the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the nation of Georgia. I even remember thinking of writing a post on the situation in Georgia, but it never came to be. In retrospect its clear that there were very few Americans who understood what really happened in the South Ossetian War. The misinformed coverage it received is a simple lesson in the fallibility of our me…

Support People - Not Polities

Image
Last Friday, Secretary of State Clinton stated that the United States has transferred two-hundred million dollars in aid to the state of Palestine, apparently in order to relieve that government's budget deficit. (See AP on Google.)

Two-hundred million dollars may seem like a lot of money, and it may seem that such a contribution would be a meaniful token of support for such a struggling nation. In my eyes, however, this action does absolutely nothing.

The government of Palestine is already in debt. Why would the largest debtor in the world - the United States - use its money to relieve another government's debt? It seems counterintuitive - unless our nation feels that we should work to assist other countries in being debt-free while pushing ourselves further and further into penury. Our gift, moreover, is not nearly enough to balance Palestine's budget. And what would be gained if they had one? - I know not. I doubt Palestine would function any better whether in surplus …

College Things

Image
It has been quite a while since I talked of my pursuit of higher education. In fact, were it not for the change I made to my "about me" profile snippet at the top right of this blog, ("He is now preparing to attend Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service this fall."), I believe there wouldn't be any way that anyone reading my posts would even know that I ended up enrolling in any college at all.

The last post I made on college was long long ago in April, when I described experiences visiting colleges on the east coast. It may be noted that my attempt to write about each day of my trip was a complete failure; I was only able to write two posts before my removal from the immediacy of the experience lessened my zeal to relate the details of what I did. Unfortunately, my two college visits that I did write and publish about - Princeton and Yale - ended up being the least important. In June, Yale informed me that its class of 2013 was overbooked and th…

Criticizing Caring

As I've stated here many times before, I like to surf the internet reading opinions in opposition to my own. Although the majority of the political blogs I read are probably more philosophically aligned with me than not, I often feel I am much more intellectually stimulated by reading intelligent opinions with which I disagree.

Two posts that I feel are some of the most important writings I've done on my political stance can be found here, where I posit that progress is a moral obligation, and here, where I emphasize that the power of collective institutions (namely government) should not be left unused in seeking progress. Indeed, I would say that my most important political issue is caring - caring about others, caring for others, and pushing for change that will improve the lives of people around the world. If I might be so bold, I would guess that most people that describe this as a political priority would also describe themselves as being liberal. I am not saying that pe…

Excuses for Sarah

Written 9 July 2009 at 22:52

This week I have been a part of a program at the Eagle River United Methodist Church Camp in Juneau, Alaska. Today our group was given tickets to go up the tramway to Mount Roberts, a prominent attraction that towers above downtown Juneau and Douglas. On the way to our trip back down the mountain, I overheard for a few minutes a conversation between someone I assumed to be a local tour guide and a couple I assumed were visitors to Alaska. What I heard in fact was only the speaking of the guide, and he seemed to be explaining why our governor’s resignation should not be viewed as negative. He cited Alaska’s ethics laws as things being taken advantage of in order to sabotage the governor; to paraphrase, he said something akin to “for the cost a postage stamp you can cost the state millions of dollars.”

Sarah has stated several times that ethics complaints against her have cost the state “millions of dollars.” The simple truth is that the cost has been barel…

Reading

Written 6 July 2009 at 0:57

Just moments ago I counted that I have read twenty-five books in the last ten completed calendar months. Since the start of my senior year I’ve kept track of all the books and major pieces of literature that I’ve read. Not all are books, of course: two items on my list are plays. On the other hand, not all of it is literature: five are non-fiction. Here it is in its entirety – I write down title, author, and the date I finished the piece:

The True Patriot, Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer (August 31)
Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton (September 8)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare (September 16)
Give Me Liberty!, Gerry Spence (September 19)
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne (October 6)
Crazy Horse, Mari Sandoz (November 11)
The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli (November 18)
Common Sense Government, Al Gore (November 25)
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (December 9)
World Without End, Ken Follett (December 21)
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (Decembe…