Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic

100%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

89%

Neo orthodox

86%

Modern Liberal

39%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

39%

Fundamentalist

39%

Emergent/Postmodern

36%

Reformed Evangelical

32%

Classical Liberal

32%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Back to the Grind

After approximately one month of final exams, rest, and relaxation, I have returned to the wonderful world of interns. My latest adventures have me out at the beautiful state capitol and on remote assignments throughout the area. As Brian knows, I was off on an excursion to tape a television program for a senator and ran into his cousin today. So far so good, but it will be much better once my first paycheck arrives.

The main point of my long-awaited post came to me this morning as I was flying down the highway on my 90ish-minute commute. My heart lept, then sank as I approached a car with a Toomey for Senate bumper sticker. Brief disappointement turned to pure pleasure as I read the driver's license plate: "Taxcuts." Better yet, the driver was an attractive (redheaded!) young man. I tried to get his attention so I could express my extreme happiness at both his bumper sticker and his license plate, but he was on his cell phone. He doesn't know what he missed. It could have been love on the interstate, a match made in heaven between a fellow follower of Pat Toomey and me, the best damn intern since Monica Lewinsky.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

It's Been Fun

I'm sad to say that my time posting here has to come to a close. I imagine this is the obvious conclusion of the last several weeks of lackluster activity and virtual absence of posts from me for many readers. For what it's worth, it's not the usual case of losing interest, though lack of time and frequent writer's block are factors. The deciding factor, though, was the fact that I've been asked to discontinue blogging by my new employer.

Yes, you read that correctly. I finally got a job, in Washington, DC no less.

I really wanted to keep posting through this blog's first anniversary, which is now only a couple of weeks away. Unfortunately, that's not possible. I certainly enjoyed writing my posts over the last months. This blog was a critical outlet for me many times during the year and since I was asked to discontinue, there have been times that I've wished I could make my usual postings here.

Now, though, I'm leaving things in the capable, though equally busy hands of Brian, Kevin, and Mary. I'd like to return to blogging someday, though that could be a ways down the pike. I haven't decided if it's ironic or appropriate that I'm as unable to adequately mark then end of my posting here as I was the beginning, but there you have it. Win the next one for the Gipper.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Quick suggestion

I just want to make a quick recommendation for some fun reading. The book Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities” by Alexandra Robbins is a great look at sorority life. While not being overly harsh it paints a picture of the way that sororities exert control and influence over people. I have seen the good and bad sides to greek life many times during my career at Lehigh and this book captures all of it very well. The philanthropy can be good when they are not simply buying their way out of it. The brainwashing is an unfortunate side effect of group think but there is little that can be done about it. You take girls who are a semester out of high school and wonder why the emulate high school like behavior in the organization that they created. That being said I will let you read the book and decide but it is something that can be enjoyed by all non greeks out there.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Our Brave New (Flat) World

Our Brave New (Flat) World

By Kevin Frost

In a strange way, this month’s release of Thomas Friedman’s new globalization book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, represents the end of an era for me personally. Prior to the first day of classes my freshman year at Lehigh a friend told me about a book called The Lexus and the Olive Tree, thinking that it would be of interest to me. It was of interest, of course, and from then on I became a big reader of Thomas Friedman.

Prior to reading Lexus, however, I did not know much about globalization. I knew how to spell it, and I knew that it, in its most basic sense, meant that the world is getting “smaller.” I did not know that I could come to Lehigh and essentially study globalization – the synergy of economics, technology, and international politics. As a freshman, I had my interests; as a sophomore, I had my majors; now, as a junior, I have my concerns. The World Is Flat just woke me up.

To be sure, I support globalization. My “concerns” will never materialize into calls for protectionist tariffs, prohibiting outsourcing, or the abolition of free trade agreements. What I want for the United States is economic supremacy within the parameters of a global free market. This can continue in the nascent years of the new millennia, but it has and will continue to become increasingly difficult.

Here in lies the end of my era. According to Friedman, the world is now “flat.” His argument makes perfect sense: a generation ago, if given the choice, one would rather be an average student in America than a genius in China or India. This is no longer true, as technology, heavy intellectual investment by foreign nations, and global economic liberalization has leveled (or flattened) the playing field. It pays to be a genius anywhere in the world today, and the American free ride is screeching to a halt. This hit me like a ton of bricks because, not only is it true, it’s coming when I am a year from graduation. Three years ago, during the Lexus era, there was all the reason for optimism. Today there is all the reason for increased skepticism.

The barriers to entry in the global marketplace today consist of a computer and internet connection. Friedman argues that the United States needs to wake up and realize that this is all it takes to plug into the global economy. For an example of our obliviousness to this reality let us look to outsourcing. Outsourcing was a hot-topic in the past election cycle, one which became a political issue for the absolute wrong reasons. It is not a question of big business versus the average worker, but a window into the future which shows a greater battle: one, perhaps, for our economic survival.

Outsourcing is not a bad thing; in fact I contend that it is a great thing. Today, we outsource production and services. The ideas, intellectual property rights, and vast majority of capital remain in America. In the not too distant future, Friedman argues, this will change, as the tags will go from “‘made in China’ to ‘designed in China’ to ‘dreamed up in China.’” Places like China and India are investing heavily in science and engineering and some day they will develop newer and better technologies on their own. Think Japan with ten times the population. Japan is a huge competitor at present, but they are hampered by a smaller, aging population, scarce land, and few natural resources. China and India have a seemingly limitless population to educate, and though we may have more people per capita graduating in science and engineering, the important statistic is the arithmetic total. As Bill Gates said recently, “in 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor's degrees as the U.S., and they have six times as many graduates majoring in engineering. In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind.''

Now add these statistics to your own knowledge or hunches about our economy. Our trade deficit is growing, as is our national debt. We are fighting a senseless war in Iraq and maintaining troop levels overseas which require an “emergency” support bill of several billion dollars from Congress seemingly every other month. Are we investing in our future? Sure, it’s great that the Iraqi people are free, but has it been worth the toll on our economy? It has, only to the extent that it prevents another attack which would cost us more than what we are spending on the war. First, I don’t think anything has been prevented. Second, if we are attacked the economic damage will be, save a nuclear blast, significantly less than what has been spent in Iraq.

Our elected representatives are spending time bickering about Terri Schiavo, stonewalling appointees, and leading us down an ever-perilous path where religion and government combine to blind us all. This will be the failure of the United States if we do nothing.

Four years ago, if we had invested money in stem cells it is entirely possible that we could be on the verge of a huge breakthrough which would pour billions of dollars into our economy. You can thank the evangelicals for sending that potential windfall to Europe. If it leads to a cure for Parkinson’s, I’m fairly certain the evangelicals will not hesitate to use the therapy, and their money will leave the country to feed one of our biggest competitors.

Ten years ago, if we had invested more money into alternative energy sources it is entirely possible that the truck my father just bought would be getting triple the mileage it gets today. We would not be buying as much oil, and other countries would be coming to us with their money for our technology. But I guess it’s not all bad; Exxon Mobil recently posted the largest quarterly earnings in history for a publicly traded American company at $8.4 billion. Those of us who dislike wealth redistribution should be mildly upset about that number.

Indeed, the world is becoming flat. We can no longer look down on the other economies in the world. Some day soon, being born in America may not be the blessing it is today – we may even have to look up. I hope we aren’t too lazy to climb back up that summit if we fall, because I’m fairly sure we are lazy enough to procrastinate ourselves down the mountain.

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/03/magazine/03DOMINANCE.html?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Chile

Recently for my Latin American independent study I finished studying Chile and I have been shocked by the way America was involved in the oppressive regime there under Pinochet. Using A National Security Archive Book which was filled with primary sources you can see some of American’s involvement in Chile. We helped trained one of the most brutal secret police in Latin America and (sadly for those who know me) Jimmy Carter acted responsibly in telling the regime that they would get no support until they curtailed human rights abuses. The revolution in Chile is often referred to as the other 9/11 because the revolution occurred on September 11, 1973. America did not participate in the coup directly although we desperately wanted it to happen and we had been offering our help up until the coup. The Chile military officers decided they did not want to be American sponsored and acted on their own. Once in power they quickly turned to America and we were only too happy to help them oppress the communists in that country. Opposition was quickly swept away and people could not fight against what was happening. The conditions are addressed in the nation of enemies book and it is a good overview of how this regime came about. I will list the books I think are the most useful out of the ones I read. Chile is an interesting country that had democracy in the Latin America’s since independence minus the time of Pinochet. He was one of the most brutal dictators in Latin America and Chile has recovered towards democracy since the end of his regime.

Recommended Reading
“Chile: The Great Transformation” by Javier Martinez and Alvaro Diaz
“A Nation of Enemies: Chile under Pinochet” by Pamela Constable and Arturo Valenzuela.
“The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability” by Peter Kornbluh

Rumsfeld's War

In the past I have made some comments about the way in which Rumsfeld has run the department of defense. I recently finished a book called “Rumsfeld’s War: The Untold Story of American’s Anti-Terrorist Commander” by Rowan Scarborough. This book is the closest thing to a biography on Rumsfeld at the moment. It is very short but provides an interesting perspective on the commander of our defense forces. It paints him as a cowboy who came in to shake up the defense forces. I agree with this view and as most readers will know before Rumsfeld shameful bickering with the joint chiefs who are just as bad made me dislike him. Rumsfeld has done many positive things including streamlining a bloated military and making it much more lean. It is amore efficient and able to respond to the threats of terrorism. The use of joint commands however limited has been of great success and although I think it is unfortunate that Rumsfeld does not want to pursue these at the moment I hope he will come back to them. We also have see in this book a reference to a DIA 2020 threat analysis of what the world will look like in 2020 and who the threats will be. It is a good summary for those looking for a overview of world politics.

Monday, April 11, 2005

my results

Well I guess I just have a wide range of beliefs in freedom when it suits my needs and death to those when it does not. I have never put much faith in those political spectrum tests. For the most part I am pragmatist who is going to adapt to the situation as it stands and work to changes things in my favor. Whatever system best fits that is what I will go along with.

ugh!!!!

Well recently I have just finished a book for my American cities class with a liberal professor. The book is called “The origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and inequality in postwar Detroit” by Thomas Sugrue and with a title like that you already know you are in trouble. I went into this book expecting it to be the liberal lies on how conservatives have destroyed America and spread rampant racism. I was not disjointed in that but what I got was a man who believed as well that capitalism was a failure. This mans viewpoints are completely illogical and it is scary that there are people out there like this. He hates large corporations and even when they try to help the downtrodden blacks they are somehow doing something even worse. The conspiracy to keep the black man down is way over done by this man. He is out of his mind when describing the various program and conspiracies among them. He picks the most extreme examples of racism and holds them up as the norm for this time period which simply does not make sense. Well I could drone on and on about this book but I will just leave it at that for now. For the record the other two books for the class are not bad.

Crabgrass Frontier: The suburbanization of the United States by Kenneth Jackson can be boring at times but it is a pretty good summary and although I know Kevin disagrees with me I do not mind this book.

Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1950 by Robert Fogelson is a very good book and one that I would highly recommend. He presents the issues very clearly and in an interesting tone for a history book.

Also more posts to come after April 20th which is when my thesis is due. 70 pages down and editing to go!!!