Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 15th, 2015

East Asia:
China, Japan and the neighbors they influence.
Hong Kong
North Korea
South Korea
Structurational relationship

Mount Everest
The highest mountain on Earth
Border between Napal and China

Communism in China
Modern China: Oct 1 1949 Tiananen Square Proclamation  
Egalitarian bureaucracy
Mao essentially China’s new emperor
Improvements in standards of living
At what cost?
                Mao’s policies aare blames by critics for causing severe damage to the culture, society, economy and foreign relations of china
The Cultural Revolution- Rid CCP of liberal bourgeoisie
                A period of social chaos and political anarchy in the PRC
After Mao
Deng Xiaoping (Never head of state)
Free market reforms (socialist market economy

Picture ID

Great Wall of China; built to protect China from Mongolia reorganizing and taking over China; falls mostly on Mongolian border
Taj Mahal: India, World Heritage site, architectural elements from 7 different empires that controlled N India
Bollywood: World’s Largest movie industry in Mumbai India
Japanese Tea House: Cleansing sanctuary of meditation; square structures mostly Japanese
Tiger Port takeover: busiest ports in earth are all in Asia; shift in the 90s
Singapore: Known for its banking industry; very conservative banking laws
Hindu Kush mountains; one navigatable roadway between Afghanistan and Pakistan; Tiger Pass
Pakistan: Himalayan Moutains
Capital of Pakistan Islamibad
Mount Everest: Highest Peak on Earth
Taiwan (Republic of China): Island of Fermosa where leaders of Republic fled during Chinese coup
Oil industry towers of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia; two tallest towers in the world if you count the spires
One nation, two countries, Korea
Tiananmen Square in Beijing China: forbidden city;
Birds nest thing
Rice farming in S E Asia, Rice paddies on tiers only way to create flatland to grow rice
Great Barrier Reef: Off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Largest living organism
Uluru (Ayres Rock): aboriginal name vs British name, in geographic center of Australia

Sydney Harbor Bridge (coathanger bridge)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 1st, 2015

War and Conflict
            This week we talked war and the premise that people don’t want to go to war. We talked about the Flashpoint theory, which is the idea that there must be some sort of flashpoint or event which shifts public opinion and allows the regime to declare war. Examples include the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and unemployment in Egypt. Both of these events changed public opinion and became a flashpoint.
            We also talked about the Bush Doctrine, which basically states that war and conflict are always going to occur and the US as a global hegemon should do its duty in preemption. This way, we would be fighting an enemy abroad rather than bringing it to our doorstep. We talked about North Korea and the possibility of Anonymous’ hacking of their leader’s twitter account being a flashpoint in a war directed at America, and whether President Obama should follow the Bush Doctrine and preemptively strike at North Korea. Justifications for attacking North Korea include the abuse of the North Korean people. Malnutrition is extremely common there, so much so that the North Korean people are significantly shorter than the rest of the world. The people are strictly controlled by a military state. For these reasons, some advocate the US intervening in North Korea and deposing the leader.

            I disagree with the idea of preemptive action in creating a war. I don’t believe that anyone wins in a war, and that there should be a way for conflict to be resolved that doesn’t result in death. A war shouldn’t be started unless it absolutely cannot be avoided. Part of the idea of having a global hegemon is that it creates peace, and I don’t think starting a war is a way to create peace. Even a flashpoint which changes public opinion could still be resolved without war in many cases. I understand that war is inevitable in some cases, but I truly think it can be avoided much more often than it is.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March 25th, 2015

The Middle East
            Today we talked about the Middle East. In particular, we talked about Israel’s actions, Iran, Iraq and terrorism.
            With respect to Israel, the country has taken many actions in the past that the US would consider terrorism if they had been done by another country.  Israel sanctioned citizens to hunt down the people responsible for the Munich Massacre, even across international borders, with no trial for the murderers. It also “mistakenly” blew up a US ship in the Mediterranean Sea because it didn’t want the US to spy on it. The US has historically sided with Israel though. There are a few reasons for this. Lobbyists heavily target the Democratic party, and the Conservative party generally side with Israel for religious reasons. In this way, Israel is able to remain unaccountable for their actions, even though they freely admit that they aren’t innocent.
            In my opinion, Israel should be allowed to exist because it isn’t really fair to take a country away from its people. I don’t believe, however, that it should be able to continue taking action without bearing consequences. The US absorbs the consequences for Israel, sort of like a protective parent, and Israel shouldn’t be able to get away with it.

            We spoke, in relation to Iran and Iraq, about why they hate us. Several legitimate reasons were listed as justification for the dislike certain Middle Eastern countries have for the US. The nuclear family is much less important in America than in the Middle East, and this causes distrust. Materialism seems to run rampant in the US, whereas Middle Eastern culture condemns it. From a Middle Eastern perspective, our society seems to be addicted to drugs and alcohol, but those things are highly prohibited in their culture. Also the liberation of women in American society is condemned by some Middle Eastern cultures because they see the way Americans view women who choose to be caretakers rather than work outside of the home as lesser women, which is completely contrary to the way Middle Eastern cultures view the roles of women. These all seem like completely legitimate reasons for the two cultures to disagree and for them to dislike us.   

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 18th, 2015

            This week we discussed Africa. We talked about the economic and environmental issues faced by African countries, as well as the different pandemics that affect certain parts of the continent.
            Africa is affected by several different types of pandemic diseases such as sleeping sickness, HIV/AIDS, flatworm parasites, malaria, river blindness and ebola. All of these are very deadly and rapidly spread, killing many people. The economy of African countries obviously varies from country to country, but overall, the continent is in a poor economic state because it has a huge debt, and it exports its raw materials rather than engaging in industry to produce goods. The farmers there only grow enough food to feed their families and do not produce an excess to make a profit. All of these factors combine to create a bad economy across the continent.
            Africa also experiences environmental issues. There is rapid deforestation and desertification, meaning the forests are dying and the deserts are expanding. Desertification was a major factor in the genocide in Rwanda. Water is becoming even more scarce, and the animals are dying off.

            In modern geography, the continent of Africa isn’t seen as a colonization opportunity, but as a moral obligation for society to help the people living there. In my opinion, we can give Africans the tools they need to help themselves, but we shouldn’t be able to force them to conform to Western standards of society and culture. Westernization has begun eradicating many languages native to Africa. It seems to me that making Africa a moral obligation does not have to mean eradicating the culture to save the people. Medicine can be brought in, explained and offered, but we shouldn’t force it on anyone. Education can be offered but the fact that all education we bring to Africa comes with a religious or linguistic element means that it exists mostly to Westernize Africans rather than to teach them how to help themselves.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 11th, 2015

            This week we discussed religion, and whether we personally need it, or whether society needs it. Karl Marx called religion the “opium of society.” He believed that religion prevented the organization of society and led to its chaos. I don’t know if I agree with that strong statement. I personally am not religious at all. I don’t attend church regularly, I don’t believe in any kind of God and I don’t pray to anything. I think that religion plays a very large role in our society, and that it is very important to many people. There are all kinds of redemption stories associated with each religion, people who believe their lives have been irrevocably changed for the better after encountering their religion, and I truly believe that is possible. But I also hear many stories of religious extremism where people use their religion and the differences between religions as justification for terrorist acts or violence.
            The differences between religions lead to differences in culture, which is another thing that could be considered good and bad. As with the conflict between the US and the Middle East, differing cultures based on religious disagreement can lead to violence. But the differences are also beautiful to me. Cultures that develop together tend to look the same, but cultures that develop separately become unique and give people the chance to see different ways of life, modes of art and nuances of language.

            I think the fact that society continues to create religions even in the modern age when science has begun to dominate theological debate says that society needs religion. Regardless of whether religion is harmful or helpful to society, it will almost certainly always be present in society. We talked about religion providing moral guidance for people. I think some people need to believe in a reward for moral behavior in order to behave morally. I find that idea sad, because I believe in the goodness of people and their ability to make good choices. I hate that religion often provides a threat of hell to make people be good. If I believed in a God, I wouldn’t want that God to be the kind that punishes people. I would want God to be a comfort to people, and an encouragement for people to spread love, acceptance and understanding. That’s the thing religion can do well, if it is viewed in the right way. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 4th, 2015

            This week we talked about gender in political geography. Gender is the social construct that men and women are different. We spoke about the statistical significance of the differences in voting patterns between men and women, such as the idea that more women vote for gun control. We talked about the tendency for society to become more violent when men are isolated and women removed, versus when the two genders are present, and cited the examples of the American West and the violence that was rampant there before women were brought out to begin homesteads, and the differences between male only dorms and co-ed dorms. Statistically, students get better grades and engage in less risky behavior while living in co-ed dorms. We talked about the tendency of mass shooters to be single white men, the idea that maybe men are tempered by women when they marry to women.

It upset me that in this discussion about gender we completely disregarded the fact that there are more than two genders, and people that identify with no gender. These people are often considered statistically insignificant, but using the same scale we might say that the entire redheaded or vegetarian populations are statistically insignificant. As well, we did touch on the idea that gender is socialized, but we didn’t really discuss the implications of that concept. To me, that means that while all the statistics and facts that we discussed are true now, they don’t have to be in the future. Men might not always be more prone to violence or more likely to vote against gun control. Women might not always be more peaceful and more prone to caregiving behavior. All of these behaviors are dictated by society as it stands today, and I think that is very important.
       We can talk all day about the reasons why men and women are different, why their voting patterns, behaviors and habits oppose and we can cite science and biology but in my opinion, people are different from animals because they are able to reason and behave rationally. This means we don’t have to be governed by biology, and the differences are accentuated by society rather than dulled by them. In at least one case, the case of the single white male shooters, gender differences cause harm to society.