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Showing posts from January, 2011

Revisiting "Islam and Democracy"

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Once again, the theories of mainstream political scientists are blown away by the sobering force of reality.

Any sort of attempt to link the prevalence of Islam in a nation to that nation's likelihood of desiring or attaining democracy, in my opinion, is not only invalid, but disgraceful. I discussed in my post Everywhere is Luxembourg that last semester, in my Comparative Political Systems course, such ideas - that there might be some underlying negative correlation between democracy and Islam - were prominent in one of our lecture topics, with the professor even favoring them in argument with my sensible and awesomely-principled TA.

But as recent and ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt show - along with a plethora of other realities, of course - a people's dominant faith has nothing to do with how they understand a concept like democracy. What my CPS readings for that lecture taught me was that people in the Arab world generally do favor democracy, but their most prominent g…

Alaska as a Country

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Here are a few simple comparisons to put Alaska in perspective among the nations of the world.

If Alaska was a country, it would be the least densely populated in the world.

With only 1.1 Alaskans for every square mile of land, Alaska's population density is a mere fourth of Mongolia's, (4.4) the homeland of Genghis Khan currently being the world's least densely populated nation. For comparison, the U.S. - still relatively sparsely populated - currently has 83 people per square mile, (though the number would rise significantly without Alaska), while Monaco, which tops the world's list, has 43,830.

If Alaska was a country, its population would rank as the 159th largest in the world.

There are around 700,000 Alaskans - slightly fewer than there are people in Guyana, slightly more than there are in Bhutan, and more than the population of over thirty other countries.

If Alaska was a country, it would have the world's 90th largest economy.

With a GDP higher than perhaps 100…

Lauinger Library and Wind Off the Potomac

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I would say that the fourth semester of my college career has gotten off to a very good start: I'm keeping busy, I'm getting things done quickly, I have good classes, and I have nothing to complain about.

Well, maybe I just have two things to complain about - but they're really just minor annoyances, and to be honest, I'm only going to write about them now because I felt like writing a blog post - not because they deserve the attention. As you might have guessed, the annoyances are the college library, and the wind.
Now, I've known about the wind at Georgetown since last year, but it was quite surprising when as a freshman I was assailed for the first time by thundering, bone-chilling air currents shuttling down the long wind tunnels on campus. And they really are quite annoying - especially when, on what would otherwise be a mild and perfect day to be outside, you get simultaneously pummeled and frozen just walking to and from class. Recently, the sky has been clear…

Harry Potter: Love-Hate Turned to Full Acceptance

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Two whole summers ago - July 16th, 2009, to be exact - I started a blog post and titled it "A Love-Hate Relationship with Harry Potter." This was all I wrote:
Little more than sixty hours ago I stood in line to attend the premiere of the film Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in Ketchikan, Alaska.Now, of course, I am much farther removed from watching that movie; I even remember having to edit the post from twenty-hour to the more ridiculous sixty hours, but obviously I did nothing else to finish my initial idea. I do, though, still think I know what I was going to write about.

To make a long story short, when I was young I was more cautious about expressing love for the Harry Potter books than others were - mostly because there were a lot of other people who expressed love for the books. (See bullet point 1 in this old post, where I talk about having a long history of suspecting popular things.) Later on, however, I realized more and more that my biggest problem with J.…

Discomfort with The Social Network

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Two nights ago I watched The Social Network, and I can say without hesitation that it is not a feel-good movie. Given that the film is a work of fiction, I will assess the movie not for its amount of accuracy, but rather as a story with a message.

As entertainment, The Social Network really didn't succeed with me; through most of it, I wasn't enjoying myself. I don't think I even laughed out loud, as others did, to many of the funny parts. The reason for this, I think, was that I was uncomfortable. And why was I uncomfortable? I think that was really because The Social Network is not the happy story one might wish it to be, and it doesn't deliver a good enough message.

Many movies have unhappy endings. Many involve realities of death and destruction and tragedy far beyond any of the unhappiness to be found in a movie about young adults getting rich. In many movies, too, the "bad guy" does not get punished in the end, and just desserts do not arrive for every …

Live Out the Dream

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Peter's Publisher would like to wish you a warm Martin Luther King Jr. Day from Washington, D.C.

A monument to Dr. King will be dedicated this August in this very city, but there is still justice to be done. The ideals of this great leader, from stopping war to providing for the needy, have yet to be fulfilled in this country.
I love Martin Luther King Jr. Day; it's one of my favorites of the year, and it is my opinion that Dr. King is one of the greatest, most inspiring and most important figures in American history. For that reason alone he should be honored. An even greater reason, however, is that he articulated and embodied the values and ideas for which I believe our country must continue to strive.
This is what we often forget: The dream still needs to be lived out.

First Days of the Fourth Semester

I believe coming back to Georgetown for this semester has probably been my easiest back-to-college transition yet - except in terms of sleep habits. I started writing this post around 5 am EST this morning (before going to sleep), since my body seemed to have still been ok with thinking of it as 1 o'clock Ketchikan time. ... But as to the other things - all has been very good.

For one, I quite enjoyed unpacking, and I even restrained myself from doing it all the night I came back, which is my usual procedure. Afterward, I did quite a bit of redecorating and reorganizing, to the point that now I can only think of one or two little things still to add.
Also - and probably much more importantly - I think all my classes will be great! After two days of class now, I have been in each of my five classes once, and I am thinking nothing but positives about each of them. Up until now, I hadn't quite realized why this was, but now I understand - it's because I can tell, after going to…

Heading Back

At this point, I definitely feel ready to return to Georgetown.

Except, that is, for the fact that I am nowhere near fully packed.

I shall write a haiku to sum up:

A suitcase lies still,
With not enough things in it.
Busyness awaits.

552 Days of Reading

I point you back to this post, written over a year and a half ago - 552 days to be exact. In that post, I noted that I had begun a list of all the books I finished (as in, read cover to cover) from the start of my senior year of high school onwards. Well, as an update, I think it merits saying that I have successfully continued this list.

It might seem a little mundane or even strange to keep track of all the books you read, but I'm actually very proud of myself for this accomplishment. When I tried to keep a diary in the past, I always failed, and this blog certainly isn't regular, so it's important to me to have some sort of truly consistent record of time passing in my life - and books are a pretty good way to keep track.

In addition, it really is a treat to be able to summon back old memories with my "books read" list as a tool. Without it, I'm sure there would be books I could never remember. I certainly wish I had started the list earlier in life; there…

My Day: 11th of Christmas, 4th of 2011

Back in this blog's heyday, I summarized my daily activities quite a bit - particular everything I did in a day of class at Kayhi. I don't think I've done the same thing for a long while, however, so here are my day's doings:

I woke up around 6:30 this morning, made an egg nog puffed pancake with my mom's help, and then ate a good portion of it at the table with my brother, mom and sister before the latter two went off to school together. Then I was up for a while before taking a nap around noon that lasted until 2, when I got up to drive to Schoenbar Middle School and give my sister a ride to her dance class. On my return, I read the book Oil & Water for while (which I've almost finished) before working for a long time moving a huge pile of wood from our back deck into the house to where our wood stove is. Then came dinner - taco soup and salad for me - and afterward I talked to my girlfriend for a while before playing Bananagrams with my family members up…

Twenty Eleven

Welcome to a new year!

Holiday cheer lingers in the air and my break from school continues, though my girlfriend's sadly does not, and I am forced to say goodbye to her tomorrow. Still, she, our families and I have all had a wonderful Christmastime - perhaps the best I've had. I live a very happy life, and for that I am very thankful.

With that in mind, I am not going to ask you, the reader, for much in the way of a new year's resolution.

All that I ask is that, when you speak of this new year, please say it TWENTY ELEVEN.