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Showing posts from February, 2012

Hot Chocolate for the Georgetown Student: Starbucks, Saxbys, or the Corp?

I abstain from coffee, which probably makes me a little weird but nevertheless makes life simpler. (I really just don't like the taste.) I do drink hot chocolate pretty often though, and in the last couple weeks I've gotten hot chocolate from three of the main businesses a Georgetown student would go to for the stuff, so I might as well review them.

I can't call myself much of a drink connoisseur, but I really do like hot chocolate, and something that I've definitely realized in this process is that different hot chocolates can taste very different. Often a person doesn't drink more than one type of hot chocolate in short succession, so the distinctions may be lost. Going to three different places in the course of two weeks, however, I very much noted the differences.

So, if you're a Hoya who loves hot cocoa like me - or just someone coincidentally interested in reading this - here goes my review:

Starbucks has become the embodiment of the corporate cafe. When I…

Specialization, Generalization, and Inspiring People with History

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I understand very well that it's impossible to have great historical research without people who dig into the details, exploring every source they can concerning particular subjects. The more time they spend with such subjects, specializing, learning source languages and cultures, approaching the material from different perspectives, the further our knowledge can be advanced by their work. For example, I just finished readings from James Lockhart's book The Nahuas After the Conquest, which is based on documents written in Nahuatl, a Native language of central Mexico. Lockhart learned Nahuatl himself to do the work, and it's clear that was a major part of how he was able to understand and interpret the documents.

Still, I am increasingly becoming aware that as a historian I am likely destined to stay a generalist, acquiring and renewing knowledge about many eras and regions of the world and likely never conducting the sort of life-long, in-depth devoted research that so ma…

North American Historical Patterns Before 1519

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This is my first paper for my history seminar "Native Americans Making North America." The course doesn't really deal with North America as a whole, but rather centers on Mexico and the areas that are now "borderlands" between the U.S. and Mexico. This paper deals with several topics before the arrival of the Spanish in Mesoamerica in 1519 - but you can find that out in the introduction. As always, if you stumble upon this and want to use the information here, feel free, but just give me proper credit. If you want the specifics of my sources and footnotes, leave a comment and I will provide them. 
Movement, Diffusion, Diversity and Stateness North American Historical Patterns Before 1519
In 21st century North America, much of indigenous history remains a mystery, lost through the passage of time as well as the massive impacts of European invasion. Modern archaeology, however, provides tools for the discovery of many aspects of this past, even at its earliest hu…

The Publisher's 365th Post

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Let it be known that Peter's Publisher now has a grand total of 365 published posts. If I started tomorrow, I could review one of my old posts every day and it would end up taking a year! (though I wouldn't be returning to this date, February 20th, because in just nine days we have a leap day).

This is actually a little bit of a scary thought, that I have so many posts: I probably I haven't looked at the majority of my old posts since shortly after I wrote them! That means many have messed up formatting, (I have fixed quite a few, but I don't know what caused the problem in the first place), and it also means there may be things I said long ago that I really shouldn't want lurking around.

Granted, I do provide in my "About the Blog" section the following disclaimer:
This blog was first created when I was but sixteen years old. It has now continued into my college years and will extend until who knows when. I know more than anyone else that I have written s…

Potential Senior Thesis Idea: Education and Social Mobility

Well, being in my second semester of junior year, I'm thinking a lot about the future. One possible thing I might do is write a senior thesis next year. It's not required; I just have to figure out if I want to do it. Who knows what sorts of things I might end up deciding to do next year, but that's a question for another time.

If I were to write a senior thesis, I should at least come up with a couple ideas for what it could be. Considering that I've made it my quest to look at poverty through history while I'm at Georgetown, and considering that for my career I know I want to go into education, I've thought up the following proposal:

Educational Systems and Social Mobility:  Students Around the World in the Early 20th Century
This would be an examination of how education (particularly public universal education) has affected social mobility in the past (particularly the social mobility of the poor and impoverished).

This could be done as sort of a global whirlw…

Elizabeth Peratrovich Day: Jim Crow and Civil Rights in Alaska

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Today is Elizabeth Peratrovich Day. On February 16th, 1945, 67 years ago today, the Territory of Alaska signed into law the Anti-Discrimination Act, a result of the voice, leadership and actions of Elizabeth Peratrovich and many other Alaska Natives. In the Territorial Senate, it was her testimony that turned legislators to pass this law: TERRITORY OF ALASKA
Juneau, Alaska   AN ACT  To provide for full and equal accommodations, facilities and privileges to all citizens in places of public accommodation within the jurisdiction of the Territory of Alaska; to provide penalties to violations.   Be it enacted by the Legislature of the Territory of Alaska:   Section 1: All citizens within the jurisdiction of the Territory of Alaska shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of public inns, restaurants, eating houses, hotels, soda fountains, soft drink parlors, taverns, roadhouses, barber shops, beauty parlors, bathrooms, resth…

Debate About the "Facebook Parenting" Viral Video

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Some days ago a video on YouTube called "Facebook Parenting: For the Troubled Teen" started going viral. I saw people post it on Facebook and just today I saw an online news article about it. If you don't want to watch the whole eight minutes, I'll try to sum it up as best I can (skip two paragraphs if you watched it):

A father reports to the camera that his 15-year old daughter made a post on Facebook (which she unsuccessfully tried to hide from him using privacy settings) that was filled with profanity and vicious complaints about her parents. It seems she wrote a lot, mainly about her feeling that she was being forced to do tons of jobs around the house, and that her parents should either pay her for doing them or just do them themselves. Apparently the post also got a lot of "likes" from her friends, which I'd guess is probably how her dad found out about it.

In response to this, the girl's dad decided to make his video, talking about how disre…

Safeway vs. Trader Joe's: The Georgetown Student Shopper

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While in Strasbourg, my host mother provided me with breakfast every day and dinner four times a week. The rest was up to me, and quite honestly it was the first time in my life where I really had to buy groceries and plan out meals for myself, all by myself, for an extended period of time. For the most part, this was a great success, and I had a lot of fun. Pretty quickly, I found that Strasbourg had several great grocery stores that constantly had pretty good deals - great food I'd never seen at home or great prices I'd never seen at home. My favorite example would probably be the big delicious pineapples available from Côte d'Ivoire: I bought several for myself during my time in France, only for €1 or €1.50 apiece (US$1.50-$2.25). In the U.S., I've never seen pineapples sold for less than around five dollars.

More importantly, however, I learned to really enjoy grocery shopping and to do it for myself. (See the post Oh How I Love Grocery Shopping.) In the previous …

An Education Mission for Anonymous

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I just read a post from the great blog Schools Matter called Wild Dreams about Anonymous and Testing, written by Jim Horn. In it, the best part is the following awesome story:
And so I was thinking about all this as I drifted off to sleep last night, and I had the craziest dream. I dreamed that the hacker group, Anonymous, had shut down every data port that handles test score data and had posted these demands on the Arne Duncan's Facebook page and on every state department of education webpage: 1. Stop using test data to keep students from receiving their diplomas or moving to the next grade 2. Stop using test data to evaluate teacher effectiveness in any way 3. Stop using test data to close down public schools 4. Stop using SAT or ACT test data to make admissions decisions for college 5. When students graduate from high school, all test scores and collected psychometric data will be handed to each student and all other records will be expunged from the data system. 6. If these de…

Senegal's Democracy in Danger

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I do have a small history of writing about Senegal: It's a country that I find very interesting, with a longstanding and unique position in the history of Francophone Africa. I even thought about studying abroad in Dakar, but I ultimately chose Strasbourg, and you can tell from the blog that was a very rewarding experience. I've had a couple opportunities in my classes at Georgetown to do a little bit of research on the country, in one case analyzing its political system and all of the country's past elections, and in another case looking at its relationships with France and China. I posted that second paper on the blog - Senegalese Analogies: Parallels in Chinese and French Interaction with a West African Nation - and afterward I even posted a follow-up that noted the paper's popularity in Google searches.

Now, however, I'm looking back to that first paper - the one that analyzed Senegal's elections and politics, and the one I didn't post on the blog. I s…

The Death of Yugoslavia: A Film Review

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I just finished watching the documentary The Death of Yugoslavia, and I'd have to say that it's an amazing piece of journalism and an amazing piece of history that's very much worth watching. The film covers all of the significant events involved, beginning with the death of Tito in 1980 and then covering in detail the period of Slobodan Milošević's rise starting in 1989 all the way through the battles of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina for independence, which brought about the bloody wars and genocide that finally ended with the Dayton Accords in 1995.

What is perhaps most amazing about the documentary is that it was made by the BBC only six months after the signing of accords, and there are interviews of every major person involved, including all the major presidents and politicians; Milošević, who died in prison in 2006; and also Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, both of whom have since been arrested for war crimes. In many documentaries, footage is shown…