Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Long Peace

I posted several times yesterday over at IR From Afar. The longer post is about the "long peace" we are experiencing at the moment. The long peace refers to the 68 years that have passed since the last hot war between world powers. The post is adapted from a paper I wrote last year. In the paper, we had to answer the question, do you think the so-called long peace will last? Why or why not? 

As much as I would have liked to answer yes, my gut instinct tells me the peace will eventually broken. Some scholars believe it truly is here to stay, that any conflict between great powers is going to be cold from here on out. I wish I had that much faith in humanity.

My attempt at an answer can be found here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Long Post about Awlaki

I just put up a long post, adapted from a paper I wrote at DU, on my other blog. I recently watched Dirty Wars, which made me think a lot about the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011. So, I thought I'd share a paper I wrote about the subject.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On Darth Vader

A quick video of a man I deeply respect talking about a man who made torturing our enemies the norm for America. Andrew Sullivan speaking about Dick Cheney. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Movie - The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby 

Having read some reviews of this movie I was prepared for the chaotic blend of reality, CGI, and a spectrum of bright colors. One review referred to all of this as an orgy of color. That's about right. I thought it was a bit visually disruptive, but I got used to it/didn't let it bother me and as the very long movie (2hr 23min) progresses, these weird scenes become less intrusive. 

I have a lot of thoughts about Gatsby, the book. This movie made me think about why I was not a fan of the book when I read it the first time (8th grade, maybe?) and a little more of a fan when I read it the second time (2009, maybe?) and how I might truly enjoy it if I were to read it a third time. 

As an English major, I feel guilty for not falling head over heels for classics like The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye. Of the former, I think its message was wasted on me in 8th grade. Of the latter, I've read it 2-3 times and it has never done anything for me. 

Gatsby, the movie, was good enough to evoke a strong desire in me to read the book for a third time. I thought the portrayals of Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and Tom and Daisy Buchanan were exceptional. I thought the acting was mesmerizing and the movie did not seem at all to drag on, but to speed up and move toward the inevitable crash and unraveling of an ideal future. The use of Fitzgerald's words floating on the screen from time to time as Carraway reads them was a powerful touch too. 

I know this movie has a 47% score on Rotten Tomatoes, making it green and rotten, but occasionally I don't see eye to eye with the consensus on that site. Dicaprio's portrayal of Gatsby is spot on. The guy still glows with this youthful exuberance and it's exactly what I expect Gatsby to look like, increasing the mystery of his wealth, the house, and the parties. 

I enjoy it when a movie makes me want to reread a book. If you're on the fence about this one, I think it's worth it. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

The falling

I found this poll via the Dish and Business Insider. Most Americans do not realize the federal deficit is currently falling. Of course you couldn't know this if you solely listened to Boehner or watched Fox News. The Business Insider poll found that nearly 70% of Americans believe the deficit to be larger this year than last year. Only 22-23% believe it is smaller than last year. The deficit is about to hit a 5-year low...

Friday, October 04, 2013

Mind Blown

This movie trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street is better than a lot of full-length movies out there.

Martin Scorsese.

Leonardo Dicaprio.

Matthew McConaughey.

This is how you make a damn movie trailer.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Impactful Screens

A friend shared this article on Facebook. I think it is a great read if you've ever been curious about the impact of screens on yourself or your kids. 

Money Quote:
“Adults use screens the same way kids do -- to avoid interaction and to avoid relying on our own inner resources," says Steiner-Adair. Increasingly when parents have a few minutes to recharge they are using that time to browse Facebook, send texts, etc. “It’s so much easier than picking up a magazine or putting your feet up on the couch and having a mini moment of relaxation -- or going for a walk and getting some fresh air-- all these things that we know actually make us feel better.” Some parents may feel that browsing Instagram or scanning the news is actually a calming way to take a break, but Steiner-Adair is skeptical. “Checking your email is not relaxing,” she says. ”Holding a tiny little hand held screen is not visually relaxing.”
Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Reinventing the Rules

"Those who keep talking as if there are two sides to this, when there are not, are as much a part of the vandalism as Ted Cruz. Obama has played punctiliously by the constitutional rules – two elections, one court case – while the GOP has decided that the rules are for dummies and suckers, and throws over the board game as soon as it looks as if it is going to lose by the rules as they have always applied." - Andrew Sullivan

I wish I had better thoughts about the GOP than Sullivan's, but I don't. What can you say about the House Republicans who have committed to shutting down the whole game because they don't approve of a new rule? It's embarrassing for them and the shutdown as a whole is embarrassing for the entire US government. 

Like every law, the ACA can be debated, tweaked, assessed, and changed as truths come to light during the rollout and impact of the law. So why doesn't the Republican party make this their focus? Instead they claim democrats are not willing to negotiate on the issue. But this assumes negotiation should take place on this issue at this point in time. On his show last night, Jon Stewart rightly pointed out that the debate over this was already held. There is no gap to bridge. Stewart further mocked the ridiculous talking point on the right that Obama should be as flexible with the opposition party as he is with the Russians and Iranians. If Obama can make a deal with the Russians and be heading toward something/anything resembling a peaceful resolution/way forward with Iran, but can't seem to move forward with House Republicans, then it does not reflect poorly on him, but on the GOP. 

I would love for the GOP to develop some sort of constructive criticism of the ACA, which they find so abhorrent, but that criticism does not exist. There is only vague reference to a law and how it spells doom for the economy, the US government, and the American way of life, but without providing any proof of the latter even happening or the two being connected.