cooper dot se.

this page is called because it represents much of my thought since studying for a semester in sweden in the spring of 2005. this thought process has continued on down to the beginnings of my real adult life....what comes next? let's talk about it....and many other things of course.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Do You Want a Revolution?

Both Canada and Palestine have gone to the polls this week, both elections with implications for the United States and both elections I was following. In fact, I was surprised that the American media did not follow the Canadian elections a bit more. I did read a really good piece by a Canadian who claimed that the seemingly uneventful election in Canada this week was actually the beginning of a dismantlement of Canada's political status quo. It will be interesting to see just how much the Canadians like their more conservative government. Canadians reading this, I appreciate any and all input.

As far as Palestinians voting Hamas into power, I do think that there is some cause for concern. Any political party with a military wing that is bent on the destruction of their neighbor is some cause for concern, especially when they are winning an election in a possible landslide. Here is my take however:

I do think Israel and the US should be concerned about Hamas' rise to power and influence in Palestine. I think it is encouraging that the elections went off with no violence and were declared free and fair. I also think that the goal with any radical group like Hamas should be to move it into the political mainstream. While they may be making wild claims about destroying Israel and raising the Islamic flag above Jerusalem, what is going to happen when one of their constituents calls up to report that his trash hasn't been collected? Perhaps mundane things like trash collection and infrastructure will serve to moderate Hamas.

I won't even touch on Google and China. I am pretty freaked out that they are doing what they are, especially since I have always sworn by gmail. I thought this piece was a good summary of the implications of Google's decision. What a world we live in that jumping in to an enormous emerging market is more important than being able to blog your political thoughts, like I am right here.

Oh and if you're not too freaked out, I can send you a gmail invite anyway....what a world.

Currently Reading
Chaos: Making a New Science
By James Gleick
see related

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Journalism, North Park, Iraq....Life

First and foremost, my heart goes out to Jill Carroll, an incredible journalist and friend to many here in the blogosphere. Baghdad Treasure has some great posts about what an amazing woman she is. I have been praying for her safety and I know and trust that everyone else is as well. It is really sad to have a name and a face put with the terrible headlines coming out of Iraq, something that happens to Iraqis probably every week. I am so sad about the suffering there. It is good to see that Eid has been a fairly happy time though. That article made me happy.

I have returned to North Park University, home away from home. Or is it now my home?

I usually do think of North Park and Chicago as home, even though my parents are still living in Arizona. Here is our pretty house in Tucson with a sunset behind it.

Now it is time to get back to work, though not until Tuesday. Lots of time to relax and be with friends. This time is also making me realize that I am beginning my last semester in college. This prompts thoughts about my future.

I had the conversation with my parents about what I am going to do after I graduate. I don't really know. I do know that I am ready to be a part of the world and not just part of the North Park bubble. I am ready to be an adult and not an immature college student. But what to do?

I am interested in journalism so today I requested some information about the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State. Something very encouraging about this program is that they realize that not everyone who wants to get a master's degree in journalism will have studied it during their undergraduate education so they offer two programs. One is for those who did journalism for undergrad, and one is for those who didn't, like me. I could go here quite inexpensively since I am still technically a resident of Arizona. I just need to begin thinking about the GRE....

Blessings to all and back to Dostoevsky for me. What do you think of the new look?

Currently Reading
The Idiot (Vintage Classics)
By Fyodor Dostoevsky
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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Vietnam, Now.

I am reading this book right now, an interesting look at modern day Vietnam by a reporter who was there during the war and has now been living in Hanoi for four years. It is encouraging to see the ways that the country is moving towards more prosperity and (economic) openness. Vietnam provides a great example of my personal struggle with capitalism.

While I hate the capitalist idea that wealth is to be carefully guarded and used in only the most efficient and profitable way based on "the market," I cannot get around the fact that it has also transformed many parts of East Asia, especially Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and most parts of China (and Taiwan).

As far as Vietnam is concerned, the author notes that after the American War (as the Vietnamese call the conflict that lasted from 1965-1975) Vietnam's descent into poverty made them a net importer of rice. Decades later and because of the free market reforms, they are today the second-largest rice exporter in the world. This along with the fact that standards of living are rising all over the country and the average young person's future is now determined more by how hard they work rather than how high up their connections with the Communist Party are.

At the same time, urban unemployment is growing and one can argue that much of Vietnam's culture is being brushed aside in order for multinational companies to do business. This is just a brief look at the conflict I feel about capitalism.

This post, in a way, goes back to my previous post about Iraqi businesses. I think that all along too much faith has been put in the free market to rebuild and "fix" Iraq after years of authoritarian rule. I also think that it is important to note that the Vietnamese were international pariahs before deciding, on their own, that they would begin the process of "doi moi" (renovation) and open up their country for business. Iraq, on the other hand, had the free market forced on them, along with the chaos that came along.

Do you feel any kind of conflict with Capitalism?

Currently Reading
Vietnam, Now: A Reporter Returns
By David Lamb
see related

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Chicago Olympics and Iraqi Businesses....Happy New Year!

I am still sitting at home and therefore have had time to peruse the news. I have also been reading over the blogosphere and in particular, bloghdad, a word I saw today describing Iraqi blogs that I like and think I will put into use in the future.

But first, something a little closer to home. I was reading earlier today about how Chicago is strongly considering bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games. This is very exciting to me. This writer's vision for the games, though written back in July, was particularly inspiring and made me want to stick around the city for years to come. As if I didn't want to already....!

The other topic of interest for me today, as always, is Iraq. The Christian Science Monitor, a paper have a great deal of respect for, has this interesting piece about small businesses in Iraq. I bring this up because it reminded me of an article I read by Naomi Klein early last year.

She was making the point that the Coalition Provisional Authority was putting too much faith in the free market to rebuild Iraq. The Monitor article references Article 39 which, according to the Monitor, gives "foreign companies unfettered access to Iraq, effectively freezing many local companies out of the rebuilding effort."

Did the CPA really think it would be that easy? While I am a liberal in the traditional sense of the word, I think that it was unbelievably arrogant and naive to assume that Iraqis would take this standing up. I believe that free markets must be introduced gradually. Even the United States is not a completely free market.

It may well have been this over-liberalization of the market in Iraq that spurred the insurgency. How many workers must have been laid off in the streamlining process of free market business? It is extremely likely that many laid-off workers found a warm welcome from many insurgent groups.

So where to go now? Well, that's partly why I have this blog, to discuss events and how they are changing the world and how we as human beings should respond. I welcome any ideas. I still think security is obviously the most important point to work on. That's a pretty easy answer though.

Peace to all.