Saturday, November 29, 2008

We Can Give Thanks After Thanksgiving

Okay, so this post is two days late - but I've had a hectic week turning in term papers, and as soon as that was done, I was cleaning the house and packing to leave for Saudi Arabia. But now, I'm in Jeddah, and although I still have more papers to do for school and articles to write for work, there's a full two weeks ahead of me to get it all done. So I can breathe again.

As I try to get myself back on track with all this work, keep yourself busy by reading this article I came across online: 17 Reasons To Give Thanks.

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ObamaTube

I love that President-elect Obama is using YouTube. Yesterday he gave his second weekly address on his website, Change.gov. Here it is:



I personally preferred Obama's first address. He was more natural in it, he felt emotionally closer to the viewer, and was actually looking directly into the camera. In the second address, it seemed that his staff was trying to make him look like a more authoritative Commander-in-Chief.

But I dunno, see for yourselves. Here's the first address so you can compare it to the second:


Monday, November 17, 2008

What About Now?

The news we usually get in the media is nothing like the spoof New York Times paper I wrote about in the last post. All it shows us are the problems we have in today's world, and how those problems just seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

So seeing people take action to help bring an end to these problems is refreshing. It's a reminder of the capacity we have, each one of us, to make a difference.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Daughtry's "What About Now".

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Dream Paper

"War in Iraq Ends." "U.S. Patriot Act Repealed." "All Public Universities To Be Free." "Court Indicts Bush On High Treason Charge."

How would you feel if you saw those headlines splattered across your local newspaper? Well, Americans who got a spoof edition of the New York Times earlier this week can answer that question for you.

On November 12th, a group that calls themselves The Yes Men distributed fake copies of a New York Times paper across the country. The paper was dated July 4, 2009, and had articles that described the future as most of us would wish to see it.

The Yes Men, pranksters claiming to work in the service of humanity, used a blend of satire, political criticism, and utopian ideals to create a paper that makes you want to both laugh and cry. But if anything, the taste of seeing those headlines in print makes you want to turn them into a future reality.

July 4, 2009? Maybe that's a little over-ambitious. But a couple of years down the line, that's not too bad, is it?

Here's an article on the spoof NYT paper.

And for those of you outside the U.S. that couldn't get your hands on a copy, here's the spoof NYT website:

http://www.nytimes-se.com/

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"10 Minutes" in Sarajevo

I was doing research on the Bosnian War for a law project yesterday, and I came across this. It's a film about how differently 10 minutes can be experienced by a Japanese tourist in Rome and a Bosnian family in Sarajevo.

10 Minutes, by Ahmed Imamovic, actually won the 2002 award for Best European Short Film. Watch it when you have the time - it's so worth it. The Bosnian War may be over, but this film is timeless in that war is always happening, and we very often make our way through life forgetting that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Beginnings

"Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things."

These are the words of Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s new chief of staff. Almost week into Obama's election, things are already starting to look up. The President-elect is already putting together a new staff, although he doesn't need to do so until January. And this staff is pushing forward with the same spirit that made Obama America's 44th President.

I, along with the rest of the world, am so excited about what changes this new term can bring. But patience, I keep reminding myself, nothing can happen overnight.

Check out the article below to see how Obama and his staff plan to ride out this transition.

Obama Team Weighs What to Take On First - NY Times

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Did It!

I woke up in Dubai this morning to the sounds of cheers from halfway around the world. My mom had the TV on, and Barack Obama had just been announced America's next president.

I don't know what to say, really. I've been pretty mellowed-out this election, afraid (along with millions of others) that what happened in 2000 with Bush could happen again. But it didn't. Ladies and gentlemen, we are finally in the White House.

Now, I know that Obama is no saint. But, to quote Jamilah King,
The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States is an absurdly exciting historical moment. I can't get over the fact that for the first time in my life, I can actually be proud to call someone my president.

I know that the Democratic Party may not be as progressive as a third alternative like the Green Party, but having Obama in the White House amounts to light years of progress from the Bush Era. As Obama was giving his acceptance speech, all the people cheering and crying in the crowd showed that America felt the same way.

Okay, so we won. But now the real work begins. America, we can't forget that change takes time, and Obama is only one man. Change will not happen overnight, and there will be resistance by those who benefit from the current system. We've got a lot of work ahead of us. I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and get going.

But for now, we celebrate. Check out Obama's victory speech here.

Yes we can!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Outvoted by the Electoral College

After coming home from voting at the U.S. consulate yesterday, I was really excited about exercising my political rights as an American citizen. I jumped online and started looking up how the voting system works, and I was - surprised, to say the least.

Basically, the United States is a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. That I had known. But just how it was a representative democracy was what got me. There is a process in the U.S. system called the Electoral College. What happens in this process is that people elect a state representatives called "electors," and these electors are the people who actually choose who becomes president.

The system was supposed to be a compromise between writers of the Constitution who wanted the president to be elected by Congress and those who wanted the president to be elected by popular vote.

The problem is, although the electors pledge to vote for a particular candidate when voters are choosing them, they can always change their mind. And even scarier is the fact that a candidate who loses the popular vote but manages to win the electoral vote will still become president. That's what happened with George W. Bush in 2000.

Lots of people want the system to be changed, but so far none of the constitutional amendments that have been proposed on the issue have been passed.

Weird, no?

Some links:


And here's a funny video on how the American elections work:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

We DON'T Need School?!

Anyone who's ever woken up thinking, "man, I wish I didn't have to go to school today," is going to love this article I'm posting about.

"Against School," by John Taylor Gatto, talks about why the modern system of education is not necessarily the best way for people to gain knowledge. This quote from H. L. Mencken (one of the most influential American writers in the first half of the 20th century) that Gatto cites in the article gives a general idea about the direction Gatto aims to take the reader. According to Mencken, public education does not aim

to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.

Gatto continues by stating that the foundation of our modern education system is based on the Prussian military system. Yes, you read that correctly. The Prussian military system.

I'm not calling for a revolt against public education here. But as a woman who has had her fair share of days feeling constricted by the high school system, I think it's important to note that the now internationalized system of public education is far from perfect. By recognizing that and understanding where the foundation for public education came from, maybe we can work towards adjusting the system so that it works better to accommodate the coming generations.

There's always room for improvement.

Links: