Things I’ve read on the internet

Its been a bit of a crazy week for the “working professional grad student” – early mornings and late nights. Does the night owl also catch the early morning worm?

Sure, just not on Saturday.

I did, however, make it to the library by 9:30 and spent the last 30 minutes trying to figure out what I’d like to blog about today. Instead of spending more time avoiding the hours of reading and writing I have ahead of me (if I have to read another thing about the realist political tradition, I’ll go bang my head against the wall), here is a quick list of things I’ve read on the internet this week.

1) Is Egypt on the Verge of Another Uprising? 

2) Islamophobia is Not a Myth 

3) Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others (with perhaps one of my favorite lines read this week: “This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.”)

4) Want a job? These traits will get you hired (though specifically about the private sector, I think these characteristics apply for employment in the public sector)

5) Who’s Afraid of “Waging Noniolence”?

Enjoy the reads. And if you’re looking for some good tunes to go with it, I recently discovered this guy:

Je Suis

“Please don’t be Muslim. Please don’t be Muslim,” was the very first thing to go through my mind when I first read the headlines about the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this week. I was following my usual morning tradition of waking up via scrolling through headlines on my phone. I hadn’t yet made or drank my coffee.

That was a fucked up reaction. Would I have preferred a different radical group carry out the attack? Or would I have rather it be a crazed gunman whose motivations remain unknown? And if it was one of these different options, would I have felt better about the event? That if these attackers were anything other than Muslim it would confirm my personal beliefs, or be a convenient example to use in my next argument? Well, look at Anders Behring Breivik, you wouldn’t describe him as a representative of Christianity.

Its fucked up that I have become so desensitized to violence that my first reaction is to find a way that I can make it consistent to my beliefs. I have a point to prove, a cross to bear, and I need to be prepared to prove why I’m right.

Perhaps my favorite piece of commentary I’ve read so far was Nick Kristoff’s piece, “Is Islam to Blame for the Shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris?”  And I took from his op-ed a line that put words to a feeling I couldn’t yet express.

One of the things I’ve learned in journalism is to beware of perceiving the world through simple narratives, because then new information is mindlessly plugged into those story lines.”

To expect consistency in world affairs is a fool’s errand. To expect simplicity is the same.

Many are able to see the forest through the trees. In another blog I read recently on “How Not to Respond to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks” scholar Barbara F. Walter writes,

Let’s be clear. The main goal of the three gunmen who attacked Charlie Hebdo yesterday was not revenge for printing cartoons critical of Islam. This misses the larger strategy al Qaeda was likely pursuing. The main goal was something far deeper.

And,

Treating this as an isolated act of revenge that deserves a harsh response plays into the hands of the gunmen and the organization that supported them.”

Walter’s piece reminds us (or, at the very least, me) that we need to treat terrorist groups as exactly that – political organizations that effectively use violence as a strategic tactic – and not a representation of Islam. That the gunmen were Muslim essentially means nothing. That they were connected to a larger network of organized terrorist organizations who recruit, train, and attempt to bring about political changes that they want to see…well, that means everything.

I worry about the rise of Islamphobia in Europe and the US as much as I worry about future terrorist attacks. The attribution of these attacks to Islam only plays into destructive stereotypes – ones which primed my reaction to these attacks. To end this rambling post, let us not forget the other values that stand in face of the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attacks: our propensity towards tolerance.

2015.

It’s time to revitalize Bread is for Everyone. New year, new resolution?

I’m a sucker for new year resolutions. In fact, 2014 is probably the first year that I’ve really stuck to some. Some goals I met, others I faltered. I wanted to read 30 new books this year. I maybe read 5. For the first time, I set athletic goals. I learned how to ski last January (and loved it) and raced in my first triathlon in August. I also hiked up my first 14-er (14,000 ft elev. mountain) and a handful of 13-ers (13,000 ft. elev. mountain), although I had a goal of hiking up 5.

2014 was also the year I applied and was accepted to the Peace Corp and grad school. These proved to be the most transformative changes in the past year for me. I was directionless in 2012 and 2013. I wanted so badly for that ‘next step’ to fall into my lap. By this time in 2013, I figured out that my next step wasn’t going to happen unless, 1) I made a decision about what I wanted, and 2) Did it. By this time last year, I made my decision. I wanted a degree in administration and international development. I wanted to go into the Peace Corp. Now in the first few days of 2015, I have my first trimester of grad school completed and i’m set to leave for the Peace Corp in the spring of 2016. Life no longer happens all at once, but flows slow and steady.

I think I can accurately define myself as a ‘flexible goal setter’. One of my resolutions this year will be to blog at least once a week. Focus my blogs on topics that I’m actively researching or short commentary on current events. When I do get the chance to travel, I’ll write about it here. Though I imagine most of my trips will be to different national parks around the American West.

Bring it 2015.