A chronological collection of the essays and writings on this site, organized by their different categories and accompanied with brief synopses.

 General Ramblings

December 21, 2018
Compromise & Conference Committees – Resolving Bicameral Legislative Differences – In order to become law, a bill must pass both chambers of Congress in technically and substantively identical form. Of course, it is not always the case that a bill “cleanly” passes both the House and Senate without amendment or differences between the two chambers. As such, the Congress must reconcile differences between their respective bills before passing the legislation to the President for signature. There are three primary ways by which the Congress achieves this – amendment exchange between the chambers, through a “Conference Committee,” or through informal negotiation.

December 21, 2018 
Minority Power in the House of Reps – Motions to Recommit & Suspension of the Rules – The United States’ House of Representatives is, in contrast to the Senate, a majoritarian body – one in which the “dominance of the offense” strongly rules. However, the House minority may enjoy several procedural methods to “flex” their legislative “muscle” – procedures that enable them to voice discontent over, and occasionally impact policy within, legislative measures which reach the House floor for vote.

December 21, 2018
The Civil Rights Act & ESSA – Procedural Stages to Passing the Bills – Two landmark pieces of legislation – the “Every Student Succeeds Act” of 2015 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – are demonstrative of the significant procedural processes and steps that the Congress may – or must – go through in order to usher a bill through the legislative process. This essay explores the process for both of these pieces of legislation, detailing the importance of particular procedural steps along the way of their crafting.

October 23, 2018
The Senate’s “Nuclear Option” – The last decade has seen a significant alteration in Senate tradition and procedure – a change in the cloture process to enable a simple majority to end debate (and thereby force a vote) on all nominations before the Senate. However, Senate Rule XXII, which provides for cloture, has not been formally amended – instead, this has come about through a remarkable maneuver to shift Senate precedent, which has become colloquially known as “nuclear option.”

October 23, 2018
“Filling” the Senate’s “Amendment Tree” – In recent years, a process involving the Senate’s “amendment tree” has been increasingly wielded by Senate leadership as a means to limit opportunity for Senators to offer amendments on measures on the Senate floor. For many observers of the Senate’s legislative process, the act of “filling” the amendment tree is a controversial – yet powerful – tactic by which the Majority Leader can control the content of bills and the legislative process.

October 23, 2018
Origins of the United States’ Senate – The United States’ Senate has its origin in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Initially intended as a meeting to revise and strengthen the Articles of Confederation, the Convention instead established the Constitution which serves as the basis for today’s American government – including the characteristics and composition of the Senate.

September 20, 2018
Policy Memo Re: Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons – In preparation for the upcoming FY20 defense authorization and appropriation cycle, this memo offers background information regarding a proposed “low-yield” nuclear arsenal. As a contentious matter in our national defense debate, this arsenal will likely be a salient issue in the upcoming Congress. Congressional Democrats, particularly leadership in the House Armed Services Committee, oppose the Trump Administration’s current effort to incorporate low-yield nuclear weapons in the United States’ nuclear triad and posture.

June 5, 2018 
University Technology Transfer & Start-Ups
– Research universities are becoming increasingly essential for economic success. The research performed by universities creates new knowledge and serves as a basis for innovation that benefits industry. Indeed, many industries have relied on university research for commercial purposes. There has been a rise of commercialization of academic research in recent decades, particularly in the United States, as new technologies and innovation transfer from universities into the private sector.

November 14, 2017
“Combatant Commands” & U.S. Defense Policy – What is the role of combatant commands in U.S. defense policy? What are the benefits and challenges of these commands? This brief piece explores both questions, analyzing the function that combatant commands and their commanders fill in the United States’ defense.

November 14, 2017
On “Strategy” – “Strategy” has long been important for the United States’ national defense and defense policy. This brief piece explores why strategy is of value and  the elements that constitute a good strategy, while also addressing why strategy is difficult to craft and implement.

March 7, 2017
On the Nature of Science and Technology Power – Science and technology may be considered key elements of the United States’ comprehensive national power – fundamentals of the country’s strength vis-à-vis competitors. To explore these notions, this essay, particularly interested in the application of science and technology toward national security ends, examines the United States’ recent employment of security-related technologies. From this, it explores the attributes of science and technology power and the similarities and differences between science and technology power and other forms of national power such as the economic and diplomatic.

December 11, 2016
Exploring the Divide Between Science and Security
– A considerable divide, often seen manifest through science and technology policies and regulations, exists between the scientific community and the national security community. Through a look at the issues of the government’s balance between supporting scientific pursuits and protecting the public, drawing from examples in the space field as a case-study, this essay examines this divide in the context of science and technology policy.

December 9, 2016
Addressing the Government Role in the Energy “Grand Challenge” – The importance of energy production to the United States cannot be understated; the energy sector contributes upwards of $1.5 trillion to the domestic economy. Considering this, the United States’ overall investments in energy technology research, and the results of those investments to date, have been seen by many as considerably inadequate. This essay explores the United States’ current energy portfolio and addresses where and how the United States’ government should intervene to address, and potentially correct, the imbalances of investment apparent in energy technology research.

December 9, 2016
The Debate Regarding University Entrepreneurship – Commercializing university research, it is argued, potentially comes at the detrimental cost of universities’ primary aims of education and community outreach. What are the main aspects of that debate, and what are the roles, pressures, and issues facing the entrepreneurial university?

October 22, 2016
On Science Policy and University Research in the United States – Selected essays on the actors and mechanisms involved in setting United States science policy and the nature of the United States’ university research system.

October 22, 2016
Policy Memo Re: “United States Innovation Administration” – A brief policy memorandum outlining background details and context on a proposed ‘Innovation Administration,’ to be created within the Department of Commerce, intended to oversee, coordinate, and strategize the United States’ broad innovation strategy.

March 29, 2016
Exploring the Forest Haven Asylum: A Hopeless Home for Abandoned People
– I paid visit to the Forest Haven Asylum – an abandoned mental hospital located in the heart of Maryland – in late December, thinking it would be fun exercise to write a small blog post on the site and trip. I was completely unaware, until I started research for the post, that the Asylum’s legacy was that of a half-century of systematic neglect and abuse against its marginalized patients; a damning indictment of our history of mental health treatment in the United States. Join me for a walk through the Forest Haven Asylum and let’s together explore a history as hidden away and forgotten as the people who experienced it living in this “Hopeless Home for Abandoned People.”

May 11, 2015
The Essence of Love and Identity in Romantic Relationships – Through this exploration of love and romantic relationships as they exist in different contexts, two crucial characteristics of love are seen emergent: “fulfillment” of the individual and “transformation” of the individual. Love, we can conclude, is thus the experiencing of these two characteristics, plus others dependent upon context and the legitimization of our relationships by the presence of these characteristics. Ultimately, regardless of the form of romantic relationship in which we experience love, we become ourselves in our relationships, and find and satisfy our place in society in our relationships.

April 12, 2015
Reflections on Gender Normativity – Contemporary discourses on gender normativity, which manifest themselves in both the behaviors characteristic of modern male and female relationships and the perceptions males and females have of themselves and each other, revolve around what has been termed “the double bind;” men and women are socialized with contradictory, mutually incompatible instructions on how to behave toward the opposite sex, and are given equally contradictory requirements for how they must portray themselves. In this brief analysis, I will detail the discourse of the “double bind of masculinity” and demonstrate how these norms affect male and female sexual relationships.

March 15, 2015
“Moscow and Chinese Communists,” A Review
– Robert North’s Moscow and Chinese Communists provides a reader with a fuller picture of the development of China’s Communist Party and the eventual Communist Revolution, one that would otherwise be impossible if focus was only paid to Mao and the elements of communist theory indigenous in China. Readers will finish this book feeling more confident in that knowledge, and therefore have a more nuanced and rounded understanding of how and why the Chinese Communist Party took and used the character, organization, and strategies that came to define it.

February 23, 2015
Simon de Beauvoir on “the Other” and Women – The philosophical concept of the “Other” has served as a foundational basis for self-identity throughout the breadth of human thought and consciousness; “Otherness” refers to those and that which are separate and distinct from the “Real.” Recognition and acknowledgment of another’s “Otherness” allows one to define themselves through a duality of qualities; for whatever qualities or characteristics they possess, the “Other” is set up to possess the distinct opposite. The feminist author Simon de Beauvoir explored the concept of the “Other,” extending it beyond conventional examples and applying it to the position and status of women in relation to their male counterparts.

February 5, 2015
John F. Kennedy’s “We go To the Moon Speech” – An Analysis
– On September 12th, 1962, President John F. Kennedy ascended a podium in front of a large crowd gathered at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and gave a speech that would mark the beginning of a bold new era for humanity; an era of exploration and innovation in outer space. This paper briefly analyzes Kennedy’s speech, highlighting its main points and the rhetorical tools he so successfully employed. In it, I endeavor to point out the elements which allow this speech to still resonate strongly over 60 years past its delivery.

November 17, 2014
A Thematic Analysis of Cicero’s “First Catilinarian”
– A thematic analysis I conducted of Cicero’s “First Catilinarian” speech, in which he condemns Lucius Sergius Catilina for conspiring against the Roman Senate. In it I explore the various themes which Cicero, the master rhetorician, employs, and extend my findings toward general conclusions on Roman oration, politics, and rhetoric.

June 19, 2014
A Brief Analysis of Presidential Scandals
The office of the President has seen a number of scandals take place during its history. Because of its sacred position in American politics and the power the office commands, when a lapse of judgement or error in a presidency becomes apparent, it often comes under intense scrutiny by the media and the public. What exactly constitutes a scandal, and have all examples of presidential scandal necessarily been scandalous? I examine these questions in this paper.

May 13, 2014
American Exceptionalism: Nationalism, Imperialism, and Ethnocentrism by Another Name – American exceptionalism is a powerful and motivating experience in the American psyche, as is the worldview it espouses (one in which the United States is a unique, unrivaled state with a morally-superior purpose to spread liberal democratic values). However, this exceptionalism is a result of underlying worldviews and philosophical frameworks which operate within the United States, those of nationalism, ethnocentrism, cultural imperialism, a desire for an American-dominated international cultural hegemony, and xenophobia.

May 12, 2014
The “Grid,” A Representation of Selfhood and Identity in D.J. Waldie’s “Holy Land” –  Through his description of life in the suburb, defined by the limitations and possibilities imposed by the grid, Waldie reveals how environment directly shapes and defines identity. A theory on human nature, that identity develops from the circumstances of the environment it is exposed to, emerges from his narrative. Rather than just a literal account of city planning, Waldie’s “grid” can be seen as a metaphor for the human life.

May 4, 2o14
Greed, Power, and Prestige – Explaining the Fall of the Roman Republic
An influx of wealth and the absence of outside threats had degraded the traditional values which sustained the Roman Republic. As a result, by the 1st century B.C.E., the most prominent men in Rome were corrupted by greed, jealously, and ambition. Individuals such as Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Pompey, and Julius Caesar brought the state to chaos, disorder, and eventually tyranny in their quest for ultimate prestige and power. Historians writing on the fall of Rome focused much energy on the character of these men, exploring their qualities to explain why and how the Roman Republic collapsed.

April 29, 2014
An Argument for Term Limits – The debate over who will represent the will of the people in a democracy can be traced back to the origins of democratic government itself, and the concept of limiting terms has been an important part of that debate.. Ultimately the issue boils down to the ideal to which we wish to hold our government: do we want our fellow common citizens to represent us as opposed to entrenched, elite oligarchs? Do we want a government conducted by legislators more invested in the well-being of their constituents and districts than in their own career or moneyed interests? If so, then limiting the tenure of our legislators is the right choice.

April 18, 2014
A Critique of Klaus Bringmann’s A History of the Roman Republic
– A true understanding of any historical civilization requires not only knowledge of its politics and military conquests but also knowledge of its culture, its society, and the lifestyle of both the elites and the masses. Bringmann does not provide this in his A History of the Roman Republic, and I therefore felt his history was not the comprehensive analysis of Rome that it is touted as being.

March 7, 2014
Polybius on Roman Funerary Rites – Writing for a Foreign Audience
– In Book 6 of his “Histories,” Polybius describes the funeral rites given to an “illustrious man” after he dies. This particular discourse amply demonstrates Polybius’ character as a historian writing for a foreign audience trying to explain the unique aspects of the Roman state which contributed to its rise.

October 21, 2013
Revolutionary Forces Impact Revolution Outcomes
– The structures of the revolutionary forces in Russia and China impacted the way the Russian and Chinese states were structured and operated following the attainment of power. These governments were modeled after, and therefore operated similarly to, the forces which had fought in the revolution.

October 20, 2013
Revolutionary Inspirations
– Throughout history, revolutionaries have modeled their revolutions, designed their revolutionary and post-revolutionary strategies, and developed their ideological theories from revolutions of the past. This paper analyzes the revolutionary inspirations of the Russian, Cuban, Chinese, and French revolutions.

October 13, 2013
Mao’s Peasant Revolution – China’s peasantry played a vital role in Mao’s communist revolution. A number factors, such as the conduct of the communists and the Kuomintang in governance and war and the way Mao structured his revolution to be intimately connect with the peasantry, enabled the ultimate victory of Mao’s peasant communist revolution.

September 3, 2013
The First Punic War – A Conflict Analysis
– An understudied and under-recognized war, the First Punic War is a fascinating case study of major conflict; an analysis of this conflict demonstrates how minor disputes can evolve into a major war, how former allies can quickly become enemies and vice versa, and how the situation surrounding the resolution of a conflict can lead to the beginning of a new one.

April 23, 2013
Neutral Science, Irresponsible Scientists: Shelley’s Message About Knowledge in “Frankenstein”
– A recurring theme in “Frankenstein” is the pursuit of knowledge and scientific discovery. Indeed, this pursuit is responsible for the main events of the book; in his quest to discover the secrets of creation, Victor Frankenstein designs and builds his monster. Often interpreted as a warning against knowledge, Shelley’s “Frankenstein” can, and perhaps should, be interpreted as a warning about the necessity for scientists and society to be responsible with their creations and discoveries instead.

February 27, 2013
Frankenstein’s ‘Monster’: A Creature of Evil, or A Product of Evil?
– Through her commentary on mankind’s nature in “Frankenstein,” Shelly demonstrates the ‘humanity’ of the creature; his actions and his nature are like those of mankind. With this in mind, an important recognition is formed: if the creature’s evil is exacerbated by the injustice brought upon him, perhaps he isn’t the monster in this story.

February 10, 2013
The Army of Republican Rome vs. the Zombie Hordes
– If there was a zombie apocalypse during the Roman Republic, who would win? I present an analysis of the development of the Roman army from the era of the Kings to the late Republic, and then analyze how they would hold up against the hordes.

February 8, 2013
Moliere’s Tartuffe: An Enlightened Perspective on Women – Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Molière’s “Tartuffe” serves as a powerful social commentary in that it upholds the Enlightenment belief that females are capable of reason and presents a critique of an irrational patriarchy which attempts to oppose and suppress them.

November 27, 2012
The Development of Xenia and Its Role in The Odyssey
– An analysis of the episodes in the epic where the guest-host relationship is explored reveals that there is a formula for its development, and that there are certain elements of hospitality necessary for a guest to be properly received. These elements and the function of the guest-host relationship assist the development of the plot, especially in the latter half of the epic when Odysseus must shed his disguise as a guest of Telemachus and come to restore his household.

November 6, 2012
Justice Through Transformation in “The Thousand and One Nights”
– Transformations throughout The Thousand and One Nights share a number of similarities; the initial transformations of each story are conducted by women as a result of their anger, and all transformations seek to ‘right a wrong’ in the eyes of the transformer.’

September 5, 2012
The Influence of Shame, ‘Aidōs’, in The Iliad – The concept of shame and the consequences of shaming actions are explored and demonstrated throughout the heroic epic The Iliad. Both of the heroes the epic centers on, Hector of Troy and Achilles the Greek, are influenced by their fear of shame, and respond to shame in important ways which will have large consequences on the course of events.

July 2, 2012
A study of political organization and conduct within an online community
– A brief review and analysis of the structure, political makeup, and political culture of UnitedOperations.net, an online community founded around democratic ideals.


January 3, 2019
Congress & Commerce in the Final Frontier: A Brief Legislative History of U.S. Commercial Space Law – The commercial space industry’s trajectory may be explained by its economics, board rooms, billionaire patrons, and rocket scientists. Yet just as important an influence – if perhaps more subtle – has been the “guiding hand” of government policy. . Beginning in the mid-1980s and continuing to this day, a series of laws have progressively established and updated the statutory basis and authority for licensing and regulating commercial space activity.

January 3, 2019
Human Spaceflight Regulations: A Matter of Safety, or Legitimacy? – This essay explores the debate on commercial human spaceflight safety through the lens of social construction – finding that the debate is not grounded on spaceflight technology itself, or the activity of spaceflight, but on differently held constructs of safety, society, and risk.

June 5, 2018
Private Capital, Investment, and Innovation in the Space Sector –  The outer space industry is being disrupted by new entrepreneurial entrants, new capital, and new business ideas. Is there an underlying catalyst for that disruption? Innovation, and particularly the forces that drive it, is challenging to specifically quantify. This paper argues that, in part, this disruption and innovation is being driven, influenced, and sustained by the sources of investment capital that are flowing in.

June 4, 2018
A Guide to Space Shuttles: How They’re Made and What Keeps Them Safe in Space – Astoundingly, it’s now been almost 50 years since President Nixon signed off on the development of the space shuttle. Since that time, the shuttle has offered the most ambitious method of transporting humans into space in over five thousand years of effort.

February 6, 2018
Revisiting “Non-Interference Zones” in Outer Space – While countries can’t claim property on the Moon or other bodies, can they offer companies exclusion zones on safety or other rationales? This piece examines some of the concepts behind so-called “non-interference zones” and efforts in Congress to enact legislation to enable them.

December 17, 2017
Reorganizing National Security Space for the “Contested, Congested, and Competitive” Domain – Considering the growing importance of a resilient space architecture to the United States’ continued military supremacy, a review and analysis of the Department of Defense’s management of its space force is warranted. This paper explores the issues of fragmented DOD management, acquisition, and oversight leadership for its space force. It reviews and analyzes recent organizational restructuring and the FY18 NDAA’s proposals. From these, it offers suggestions, recommendations, and comments on the DOD’s management of its space force.

December 6, 2017
National Space Council – NASA Budget Memorandum – This evaluation explores NASA’s budget’s impact on opportunities and challenges in the United States’ human spaceflight program, and corresponding policy and political considerations.

November 27, 2017
International Cooperation and Competition in Space – When should countries, including the United States, work together with other countries on space projects, and when should they compete against one another? This essay looks at some of the key factors affecting international cooperation and competition.

September 30, 2017
Why Should We Go? Reevaluating the Rationales for Human Spaceflight in the 21st Century
– A perennial struggle for space advocates has been developing rationales for human spaceflight that can be sustained over the long term. Now is the time to reexamine those arguments, particularly given the rise of commercial human spaceflight.

June 29, 2017
It’s Time to Get Active on Active Space Debris Removal 
– Until international cooperation toward a solution on space debris removal begins, outer space will be polluted with more and more junk—jeopardizing its future use for all members of the space community. Only substantive, cooperative action will resolve the challenges that stand in the way of active debris removal. It is time the United States acknowledge the importance of this issue and take steps to get serious about active space debris removal.

June 12, 2017
A Coming Communications Crunch at Mars? – A wave of exciting new missions is bound for the Red Planet in the next several years. However, those missions could face challenges returning their data due to limited infrastructure, notably aging relays in Mars orbit. This essay examines the communications infrastructure at Mars, laying out the historical and contemporary challenges facing data relay between Earth and the ‘Red Planet.’

March 24, 2017
Space-Based Solar Power: A Credible Idea… in a Different Space Environment 
– A space-based solar power (SBSP) system could be achieved within the mid-term future using technologies and launch capabilities that are maturing today. Its benefits would be tremendous. None of this, however, mean it’s a good idea. The consequences of deploying an SBSP system in an increasingly contested and competitive space regime are significant – outweighing the value it could deliver.

December 14, 2016
America’s Future in LEO? The Possibilities and Challenges Facing Commercial Space Stations – Will the United States have outstanding needs in LEO after ISS is gone? What is NASA’s role in a transition toward commercial space stations? What ways could ISS be used to support that transition? Through a look at the statements and positions of industry stakeholders and government officials, this essay explores the topic as it stands today. Though hardly an authoritative analysis of the issue, it lays out the case for a continuing presence in LEO, outlines the vision for – and challenges facing – commercial space stations in the future, and describes the programmatic and policy progress made toward resolving this issue.

November 3, 2016
Sustaining American Space Leadership: The Destination Debate Isn’t Enough – Big goals for NASA and a destination debate sufficed when space was the domain of superpowers racing to land on an extraterrestrial surface. It is no longer. In the coming future, the leader in space will be the country that sets the rules of the road of how space will be used, protected, and governed. The United States cannot afford to stand by idly as others set those new norms. In creating, implementing, and discussing their space policy goals, the next president would be wise to recognize that.

October 3, 2016
On the Nature of Spacepower – What is ‘spacepower?’ What are its present significance and probable importance in the coming future? What do the similarities and differences between operations in space and other “traditional” domains – sea, air, and cyber – reveal about its characteristics in the context of national power? This paper looks to draw conclusions on the questions above, arriving at suggestions that seek to inform policymakers as they advance our national power in the ever-more contested and all-the-more crucial space environment.

September 26, 2016
Further Steps Toward the Frontier: Recent Policy Work on Space Settlement
– Getting space settlement put into law as a goal for US space policy has been a long-running goal of space advocates; establishing it as national policy will enable more cohesive interaction between the civil space program and commercial actors seeking to eventually settle space. Now more than ever before, there are encouraging signs of progress.

July 15, 2016
Two SLS to Jupiter: The Motivations and Ramifications of the Europa Mission’s Launch Vehicle Mandate – At the direction of Congress, NASA is not only working on a mission to send an orbiter and lander to Jupiter’s moon Europa, it’s also mandated their launch aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rockets… an unprecedented directive for a NASA science mission.

June 14, 2016
The “Asian Space Race” and China’s Solar System Exploration: Domestic and International Rationales – In recent years, China has announced an ambitious series of robotic space missions, including future lunar sample return and Mars missions. What are the rationales motivating the Chinese leadership’s decision to undertake these missions? Broadly, they fit into Chinese efforts to establish greater international power and regional hegemony. Yet, as is the nature of competition on and off Earth, China’s programs are stimulating a space race among other space-faring Asian nations.

April 22, 2016
Of India and ICBMs: Two Current Concerns for American Small-Satellite Launch
– In recent weeks, topics with potentially lasting implications for American small-satellite launch capabilities have come to the fore – a proposal to allow stored and unused government Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) to enter and compete on the commercial launch marketplace, along with a U.S. Trade Representative review of the continuing ban on U.S. satellite launch aboard India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

April 22, 2016
Infographic: Space Food
An infograph, kindly supplied by labeley.com, that explores the past, present, and future of ‘space food’ – a vital but often under-acknowledged element of our approach to exploration.

March 25, 2016
With ExoMars, Will Russia Break its “Mars Curse?” – Of the 18 missions Russia has launched to Mars in the last 50 years, not one of them has been a full success – a “Mars Curse.” Will the just-launched ExoMars mission bring Russia its first interplanetary success in over 20 years? If so, what lessons have been learned, and what might be the broader implications for Russia’s exploration strategy and approach?

October 19, 2015
The Least Realistic Part of “The Martian?” China. And Why That Matters
The least realistic part of the otherwise incredibly accurate “The Martian?” The Chinese space agency helping save NASA’s astronaut. And why? Because NASA is, by law, prohibited from accepting any offer of cooperation with or assistance from the Chinese. Here’s why that matters, and here’s why it’s a positive that China helped rescue an American astronaut in the hit space-themed film.

October 14, 2015
Why Water on Mars Poses Problems for NASA
There’s water flowing on Mars… but NASA can’t actually investigate it. Concerns about the contamination of the Martian liquid with Earth-origin organisms are keeping mission planners from going near the water, and for good reason. Yet there may be possibilities for resolving these fears, as well as other ways to gain further insights into this tremendous discovery.

August 9, 2015
We Should Be Excited About The Next Five Years of Space Exploration. Here’s What’s Coming – With a number of high-profile missions being flown to all corners of our Solar System, the coming five years of space exploration look to be incredibly promising. This article provides an overview of all the major space missions planned worldwide over the next five years.

July 7, 2015
SpaceX’s rocket blew up. What’s it mean for commercial spaceflight?
– SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded on a June 28th mission to the International Space Station, destroying tons of cargo and experiments while ruining SpaceX’s near-flawless launch record. As SpaceX has carried much of the momentum toward the development of an innovative and cheaper private space industry while enthusing popular support for private spaceflight, this launch failure has been a sobering reminder that space is hard and that no company, regardless of its image, is infallible. But what are the broader context and circumstances of this accident, and what are its implications on the future of commercial spaceflight?

December 11, 2014
Orbital Tourism, Asteroid Mining, and International Space Law
My college capstone paper, which analyzes the current status of international space law as it pertains to commercial activity in outer space. This analysis focuses heavily on the implications of standing international space treaties on asteroid and extraterrestrial mining, the current challenges and outstanding issues facing commercial spaceflight, and the potential direction that international space law will take in order to regulate and adequately deal with the proliferation of private actors in outer space.

November 18, 2014

Rethinking NASA’s Approach to Mars: Policy Options and Alternatives for Our Exploration Roadmap
  With the end of the Shuttle Era marked by the last Space Shuttle flight in 2011, the cancellation of the “Constellation Program” and George W. Bush’s “Vision for Space Exploration” in 2010, and President Obama’s call for human exploration of Mars by the 2030s, the United States’ space program has been reshaping its exploration goals and long-term strategic roadmap. This policy analysis explores NASA’s current exploration policy and the problems associated with it, laying out a series of policy alternatives which provide different directions the agency can take toward accomplishing a manned mission to Mars, such as increasing NASA’s budget, abandoning current exploration goals, or fostering greater cooperation with commercial space companies.

September 26, 2014
The Significance of India’s Mission to Mars – India’s successful mission to Mars is an impressive first in Asian space exploration. No other Asian power has yet achieved orbit around Mars. This represents just another step in the growing competition between rising powers like India and China in the realm of space. When one considers that the ‘space race’ between the United States and the Soviet Union resulted in human footsteps on the Moon, it’s hard but to wonder what other incredible accomplishments we’ll see this time around.

June 10, 2014
Policy Concerns for the Future of Spaceflight Our species is soon embarking on its next major era of colonization and development, one which will spread us deep into the vast expanse that is the cosmos. This process will transform our civilization in profound ways, just as the colonization of the New World set into motion the course of events that have produced the world we live in today. We have the foresight and capacity needed to create a road-map, a comprehensive policy, for how we as a nation will involve ourselves in space. It is of the utmost importance that we begin to develop and implement this policy as soon as possible. How the entirety of humanity’s future plays out will be its result.

January 20, 2014
The Significance of a “Mystery Rock”
The Opportunity Rover, operating on Mars, made a startling discovery: a rock appeared suddenly where it was not seen before. The discovery of this rock, and the attention it has raised, powerfully demonstrates our current state of exploration, and where humanity is today in its efforts to explore the universe.

December 17, 2013
The Importance of China on the Moon
On December 14th, 2013, the Chinese landed a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon… the first lunar landing to happen in 37 years. There is enormous significance to China’s growing ambitions and forays into space. Like with the United States in the 1960s, their rush into space is fueled by important political motivations. This post provides my take on their mission, as well as a description of this really cool spacecraft!

November 15, 2013
Saving the Earth by Mining the Asteroids – The utilization of our solar system for resources could potentially kick-start our industries in enormous ways. When our species has developed advanced enough to strip massive amounts of resources from the asteroids and worlds of our solar system, it will be able to sustain nonstop growth. This is perhaps the most important reason for us to mine the worlds of our solar system.

July 15, 2013
Humanity’s Historical Heritage is in Space
– The humans of the far future will remember little of the United States or of the 20th and 21st centuries. Inevitably, the world of the future will look and be nothing like how we know it to be today. In many ways, our historical heritage will have been lost. However, the many spacecraft we have sent into space over the last half century, and which we continue to launch, will exist in a condition in the far future much like they do now. Eventually, these craft may very well be the only thing to remember us by.

June 23, 2013
Ride and Tereshkova: The First Women in Space
– Sally Ride and Valentina Tereshkova, as the first women from their respective countries to fly in space, helped to usher in an era of equality in human spaceflight. On the anniversary of the missions which launched them off the Earth, the legacies of their historic flights remind us of the hard work, passion and dedication of the women who have worked on the ground and in space.

August 3, 2012
The Coolest NASA Landing Yet, Happening Soon!
– This week marks one of the coolest and exciting events in the history of space exploration. On August 6th NASA’s Curiosity rover will land on Mars using new and insanely sophisticated landing techniques to begin a mission of great discovery.

July 28, 2012
Three Incredible Moons Which You Should Know About
– Europa. Enceladus. Titan. These worlds are likely future candidates for study, because they present us with opportunities for great discovery. Their characteristics make them fascinating. They’re moons which you should know about.

International Affairs

June 5, 2018  
Strategic Partnerships & Globalization: Causal Relationships – Do strategic partnerships drive globalization, or does globalization promote strategic partnerships?

June 5, 2018
The Evolving Global S&E “Landscape”
 – The global science and engineering (S&E) “landscape” has experienced major shifts and evolution over time; the effect of different growth rates in S&E investment and different areas of S&E concentration across the globe has led to: the “catching up” in particular indicators of S&E activity in parts of the developing world, and S&E specialization in developed nations. As a result, a “multi-polar world” for S&E has emerged after decades of preeminence by the developed world.

November 19, 2015
In the Wake of the Paris Attacks, a Dangerous (and Flawed) Xenophobia – An increasingly mainstream reaction to the terrorist attack in Paris is that of xenophobia and Islamophobia. While these emotions are understandably elicited by fear and misunderstanding, they are equally borne from an ignorance which serves only to harm the cause of eradicating global terror.

July 23, 2015
Turkey’s Islamic State Dilemma – Violence is spreading inexorably into Turkey. Meanwhile, Turkey will continue to struggle with its Kurdish population, which has become even more hostile following the suicide bombing in Suruç. With the growing developments over the past week, it seems all too clear that Turkey’s government has found itself in a complicated dilemma.

May 15, 2015
China: A Global Power, in Space – This paper analyzes the domestic and international significance of China’s space program along with the implications of its current capabilities and future plans. By exploring the connections between the effects of China’s space program and the Chinese leadership’s broader strategic and rhetorical goals, its effective use as a tool for securing Chinese regional hegemony, reinforcing CCP political legitimacy, and establishing China as a “global power” is explained.

March 23, 2015
Is China the World’s Next “Superpower?” – China has, in a number of metrics, surpassed the rate of rise of other emerging states. Yet, at the same time, a number of factors constrain, contain, and curtail the Chinese rise to unrivaled hegemony and “superpower.” The metrics which indicate China’s rapid rise, along with those factors which contain it, will be explored in this essay, which comes to conclusions about the future status of China as a global “superpower.”

March 17, 2015
China, An Urban or Rural Society? – Is China an urban or rural society, and can it even be considered as one of the two? This essay explores the question, and comes to a number of conclusions about the characteristics of Chinese society.

March 17, 2015
The Importance of Understanding China’s Imperial Heritage – Knowledge of China’s Imperial heritage is crucial for an understanding of contemporary Chinese government and society. Many facets of the Imperial era, such as the tradition of the “peasant rebellion,” the bureaucratic and Confucian organization of the Chinese state and society, and the period of “national humiliation” in Chinese history, all directly and indirectly influence and shape the modern day characteristics of China. Of course, China is not a unique when it comes to the necessity for a background understanding of its history; a political scientist studying any country must first ground themselves in the historical context of that country before they can truly “understand” its present day characteristics.

March 12, 2015
An Analysis of Post-2008 U.S.-G.C.C. Relations – The strategic relationship between the United States of America and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is perhaps one of the most long-standing and pivotal partnerships in the Middle East, and is critical for maintaining regional prosperity, security, and stability. The relationship between the United States and the GCC has equally since the start of the first Obama administration, with a number of evident successes and failures. This brief paper analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of American policy toward the GCC since 2008.

January 16, 2015
Why Does India’s Success Matter to the United States? – Often overlooked in the discussion over the United States’ future in Asia, a discussion often dominated by the U.S.-China dynamic, is the role that India has and will come to play. As the United States and India share a number of security concerns and are working toward a deeper strategic relationship, a successful India can significantly abet American regional foreign policy. Indeed, the U.S.-India relationship will be vital to maintaining a favorable regional balance of power for the United States.

December 13, 2014
Who Will Dominate Asia in the Coming Decade? – The Asia-Pacific is characterized by a mixture of intergovernmental organizations, alliance blocs, and individual states of varying levels of strength, organization, and regional clout. Taking into consideration general regional trends, a basic prediction of which will dominate the regional in the the next decade can be made: the Asia-Pacific of 2024 will likely be characterized by the dominance of individual states, yet within a broad alliance bloc/treaty framework.

December 13, 2014
The Asia-Pacific’s Most Significant Security Threat – The Asia-Pacific today is a region facing a diverse array of security challenges and issues, yet none appear to pose a significant and immediate threat to continued regional stability. The most important security threat facing the region may not be an intrastate or transnational issue, but rather an interstate one. As states increasingly “saber-rattle” over disputed territories, there is a growing potential that they may accidentally slip into military conflict.

October 26, 2014
Policy Memo: The Rise of China and its Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy – The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is rapidly rising to become the dominant regional actor in the Asia-Pacific, and as such its relationship with the United States will come to define the international environment of the 21st century. As such, it is vitally important that the United States pursue a strategy that seeks closer, cooperative relations with the PRC. This policy memo outlines background information about the PRC, its foreign policy intentions, its perceptions of the United States, and provides policy suggestions for the coming relationship between our two countries.

October 19, 2014
Saudi Arabia’s Shia Youth: A Crisis in the Making – This is a research paper I presented at a conference in Istanbul on the Middle East. It details the history and policies of discrimination which marginalize Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority politically, socially, and economically, and analyzes how violent, aggressive youth protests are becoming the norm for opposition against the Saudi government.

October 8, 2014
What Motivates Chinese Foreign Policy? – For policymakers in the People’s Republic of China, domestic concerns have primacy when developing foreign policy. Chinese leaders realize they must continue to produce positive economic results to stave off popular dissent, and thus have attempted to build deeper economic relationships and maintain a stable, cooperative international environment. They also use China’s rise to hegemony as a narrative to galvanize popular support. Additionally, China’s foreign policy principles of non-interference and respect for others’ territorial integrity are motivated by its desire to have other countries ignore or at least tolerate its own human rights abuses and territorial occupations.

October 8, 2014
China’s “Place in the Sun” – In a speech before the Reichstag in 1897, German Foreign Minister Bernhard von Bülow declared that the Germans “do not want to put anyone in our shadow, but we also demand our place in the sun.” This quote can be applied to China’s foreign policy with varying degrees of accuracy.

September 12, 2014
The United States’ Coming Role in a Changing Asia-Pacific – The Asia-Pacific, and in particular the United States’ relationship with China, is poised to become the international focus of the 21st century. It is thus imperative that the United States pursue a strategy that establishes lasting norms of peaceful cooperation – and peaceful competition – in the coming decade. This is an area marked by changing dynamics which limit the United States’ ability to directly contain China’s rise, but which also offer new possibilities for American regional leadership. Whether American policymakers recognize this and take advantage of it will be seen in the coming years.

July 10, 2014
Offshore Balancing – An Analysis – Many tenets of current American strategy, including the stationing of troops overseas in regions of interest, are economically, politically, and diplomatically unsustainable. In my opinion, the United States should better employ the competitions between regional powers for its own ends. The practice and employment of ‘offshore balancing’ would, in the long term, better serve the interests of the United States and preserve its position as a dominant hegemon in the international arena than the current strategies currently utilized.

July 7, 2014
The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Violence Begets Violence
– Violence exhibited by both the Israelis and the Palestinians simply breeds more violence, deepens the animosity between these two peoples, and makes a peaceful resolution to the conflict seem ever more unlikely. If any peace is to come to this region, this vicious cycle of reciprocity needs to be broken.

June 19, 2014
Analyzing Clausewitz’s Theory on War
– As the course of international history and relations progresses, technological advancements, changes in operational and tactical strategy, and different international makeups have altered the way wars are conducted and the way in which they are fought. The underlying causes of and reasons for war, however, have remained the same throughout history, affirming the assertions made by Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz.

December 23, 2013
The Iranian Revolution: A Brief History and AnalysisThough by no means a comprehensive analysis, in this paper I set out to explore the history and causes of, and analytical theories about, the most transformative and pivotal revolution in modern history: the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

November 16, 2013
Analyzing French Political Culture
– French political culture manifests itself in the domestic and international policies and attitudes of the French people and government. It is what makes the members of this society so distinctly and uniquely ‘French.’ This essay sets out to describe various elements of the incredibly complex political culture of the French.

November 14, 2013
What Makes the French Fifth Republic Stable? – Changes to the political system in the Fifth Republic have stabilized the volatility which plagued the Fourth Republic. Its institutions are not paralyzed in their ability to deal with the issues and problems facing France and, as a result, are now widely accepted by the French citizenry. These changes, and other facets of the Fifth Republic which contribute to its stability, are analyzed in this paper.

November 14, 2013
The ‘Presidential-Parliamentary’ System in France
– Despite  ambiguities in its constitution over the responsibilities of the Prime Minister and President, the French Fifth Republic has been able to effectively govern itself through the different forms of power-sharing. As such, the “presidential-parliamentary system” has proven itself to be a stable and successful model of governance. This paper outlines the dynamics of this system and why it has worked so far.

September 29, 2013
Creating a Peaceful International World Developing norms of cooperative behavior and creating a system to enforce international law has the potential to drastically change the anarchic nature of the international system and, doing so, produce a peace and cooperative international community. Slowly, the norms produced by the system will constrain state behavior, and it is possible that a mechanism to enforce law will come to fruition. Until then, unfortunately, conflict will likely continue to be a reality plaguing humanity.

May 13, 2013
The Laws of War – A brief history and analysis of international law regarding war and conflict.

March 8, 2013
North Korea’s Only “Talking the Talk”
– The United States and the international community must approach the North Korea issue with extreme caution. We’re looking at a possible conflict which could erupt this year; if we’re careful enough, however, it will simply deescalate. The North Koreans are acting rationally and in what they see as their best interest. For them, these belligerent acts are what they see as the only way to get out of a situation where they see themselves backed up against a wall.

December 5, 2012
Troubled Transitions: Challenges, Struggles, and Solutions for post-‘Arab Spring’ Democracy – Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya each have a set of issues which could hinder, slow, or even prevent the formation of functional, liberal democracy, and these issues need to be addressed and resolved in order to guarantee long-term political stability. While these issues are unique to their countries in their characteristics, they are not without parallels. By looking at the successful development of these other democracies possible solutions to the problems being faced now can be found and applied.

November 13, 2012
The Conflict in Syria: Issues, Options, Opportunities – The uprising in Syria remains unresolved after a year and has evolved into a bloody civil conflict, one which is estimated to have caused over 30,000 Syrians casualties and which has left destruction, lawlessness, and fear across the country. As the conflict matures, a number of issues have become apparent which will need to be addressed in order to ensure a peaceful resolution to and transition away from the unrest.

October 23, 2012
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Obstacles and Opportunities
– The  Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is arguably the longest running, most influential, most pervasive, and most significant issue facing the Middle East today. A number of issues prevent the settlement of peace. However, a number of options are available to resolve the conflict, and what is needed now is the political will and strength needed to see them through to the end.

July 2, 2012
Theorizing the rise of, and American response to, a growing China
– A theoretical approach routed in Realist theory towards the actions the United States will take in the international arena to combat the hegemonic rise of China.

July 2, 2012
Egyptian democracy and its implications on U.S. foreign policy – Liberal democracy in Egypt will bring to power different groups and organizations with different outlooks towards the international arena. American foreign policy will, as a result, need to change to accommodate these new forces.


July 15, 2016
Look at the Stars Tonight – Must one take the time to stare at the stars each night? Such will not end racism; will not solve global catastrophe; will not fix or reform or change broken systems or institutions. Yet to this, I believe in a ‘Yes.’

December 21, 2015
Introspection # 44: “On Anxiety” – Brief thoughts on anxiety and anxiousness.

July 1, 2015
Introspection # 43: “Our Moment of Discovery”
– Every generation experiences some pivotal “moment of discovery,” which prompts the shifting of perspectives and the gaining of new insights about the universe. For my generation, this “moment of discovery” will be coming quite soon, with the historic flyby of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizon’s spacecraft.

March 28, 2015
Introspection # 42: “Images as Communication” – Visual communication, utilizing the image as communication, not only delivers to us a set of ideas, it fundamentally shapes and connects to our perceptions of the world; that is to say, visual communication makes us look at the world in a certain way, which, we being creatures shaped by our interactions and perceptions of our environment, makes it perhaps the most powerful form of communication available.

March 1, 2015
Introspection # 41: “Music as Communication” – One would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy music. It is a pervasive element of our society; indeed, of societies and civilizations spanning the globe and throughout history. Yet, while music surrounds us constantly in our daily lives, its power as a tool of communication, and our application of it as such, is perhaps under recognized and undervalued.

February 24, 2015
Introspection #40: “Being Snowed-In at Boston: A Reflection”
–  A brief reflection on my experiences being snowed in at Boston during the 2015 National Harvard Model United Nations simulation.

September 30, 2014
Introspection # 39: “The Facade of Facebook Friends”
– Cody Knipfer has, for many people, become manifest in the statuses he posts. I am a profile page. I am a profile picture. In this social media generation, I fear I am becoming nothing more. Like the masks we wear constantly in public, the facades which hide our true selves and the baggage within, social media serves as a platform to display to others what we selectively want them to see. Yet, unlike our public pretenses, which can at times falter or be seen through, we have at our total discretion what appears on our social media profiles. They are an impregnable mask.

July 25, 2014
Introspection # 38: “Our Height of Power” – Only the richest, most prosperous, most secure, most advanced, or most powerful nations are in a position to produce wonders. Those that have will forever be remembered as humanity’s defining civilizations; the era of their accomplishments as one of humanity’s golden ages. Neil Armstrong and the Apollo Program can be seen as symbols of our civilization at or approaching its height of power. They represent the apex of American ability.

July 13, 2014
Introspection # 37: “A Jew’s Reflection on Violence in Palestine”
– It is hard today to escape news of the escalating conflict in Palestine and the violence, suffering, and deaths that it has caused. Hearing about the brutality of this war, I once again feel ashamed. The Judaism I know is about selflessness, about charity, about empathy. Why do we fail to exhibit these core values in the case of the Palestinians?

June 20, 2014
Introspection # 36: “Humanism” in lieu of “Atheism”
When someone identifies themselves by their religious affiliation, they’re describing a wide array of moral values, world views, and specific beliefs which they, by virtue of their faith, hold. Yet, when someone identifies themselves by their lack of religious affiliation, they are simply describing what they are not; there are no associated values or beliefs. It for this reason that I prefer the term “humanist” over “atheist,” for humanism carries a description of who I am which atheism fails to provide.

June 10, 2014
Introspection # 35: “On the Environment”
In our arrogance, produced either from an ignorance or apathy of the damage we are causing to the Earth, we have sown the seeds of our own destruction. We recklessly continue to invest ourselves heavily in dirty, non-renewable sources of fuel, relying primarily upon them to power our energy-hungry society. How does this reflect on us morally? How will future generations come to see the devastating failure of ours to resolve this issue?

May 14, 2014
Introspection # 34: “A Far Grander Narrative, A Memoir Piece” I, Cody Knipfer, am the product of chance, probability, and change entirely outside of my control. My identity is developed by the factors in my environment which I do not or cannot perceive. I am a part of a far greater narrative.

March 27, 2014
Introspection # 33: “A Society Without Government?” – Utopian visions of society often predict an absence of government. Is it possible to separate government from society, or are the two so deeply interconnected that a government-less society is impossible?

February 28, 2014
Introspection # 32: “Language as a Reflection of Society” – Language is a reflection of a society’s culture and its perception of the world; as it relays information, it demonstrates how a certain society takes in, processes, evaluates, and conveys that information. The development of a specific language over time shows how the society or societies using it develop over time as well, as changes in cultural perspective, social composition, and political circumstances deeply impact the characteristics of a language.

December 29, 2013
Introspection # 31: “Travel – It’s quite incredible how, in the modern day, a human can travel anywhere in the world quite easily. The infrastructure our civilization has created allows for a remarkable ease and accessibility of travel. Using cars, trains, and airplanes, we have the ability to travel quickly anywhere across the world. This is a revolutionary new capability for humanity, and its effects are quite profound.

October 19, 2013
Introspection # 30: “Thoughts on Political Science” – What is political science? It is a collection of knowledge from various fields and disciplines which, when combined, explains human political behaviors. Humans are complicated creatures, and they think and behave in complicated ways. The study of those behaviors transcends disciplines and draws from the knowledge produced by a vast array of fields. In order to accurately explain how the human will behave politically, the political scientist must accumulate and understand all of these fields.

September 24, 2013
Introspection # 29: “On Society”
An analysis on the development and use of social evolution. Society defines people’s thoughts, values, beliefs, and perceptions. It thus also shapes people’s behaviors and actions. Society is constantly evolving through the sharing and interaction of these values, beliefs, thoughts, and perceptions. The way society evolves, however, can be controlled and manipulated through the amplification of certain values and beliefs or through their suppression. Those with the means to do this amplification and suppression manipulate society to support and amplify their own power.

September 13, 2013
Introspection # 28: “Explorers Still” – We are now living in an era of extreme possibility: in so many fields, we are beginning to more rapidly and definitely understand our world. The humans of the past were explorers, and we are explorers still.

September 7, 2013
Introspection # 27: “The Beginning of a New Era” – The historians of the future will consider the turn of the 2nd millennium to be the beginning of a ‘new’ human civilization, one separate from the last 10,000 years that have led up to this point. For historians of the future grouping ‘eras’ of human development, the beginning of the 21st century will be as grand a turning point as the development of agriculture or the rise of the city was for the overall course of human civilization. We are, right now, living at the cusp of a new humanity.

September 1, 2013
Introspection # 26: “What Must Be Done?” – The beginning of the 21st century can be a time of extreme hope and transformation for humanity, but today our world is world paralyzed into inaction as human lives by the thousands are taken daily by the tyrannical decrees of a dictator in Syria, continents exploited by unjust and indifferent corporations and economic interests, societies languishing under and repression of speech, thought, and activity. What must be done for humanity to prosper?

August 30, 2013
Introspection # 25: “What is Truth?” – The existence of ‘subjective truths’ explains how so many differing and opposed descriptions and explanations for reality exist for the same ‘absolute reality’ in which we live. ‘Objective truths’ are the truths which contribute to a greater human knowledge on existence which is, as it transcends culture, the domain of all humanity. Understanding how these truths operate allows us to understand how people explain existence and perhaps begin to develop better systems to accurately describe and understand reality.

August 28, 2013
Introspection # 24: “On Relativism”
– A discussion on the philosophical tenets of relativism and my growing utilization of a relativistic worldview as a ‘tool’ in my philosophical ‘toolbox’.

August 21, 2013
Introspection # 23: “Thoughts on Philosophy”
– What is philosophy? Simply put, it is our attempt, as humans, to explain the world around us. Philosophy is anything and everything that seeks to provide an answer to, or even consider, some question. They provide us a direction and a meaning for everything that we do and experience. As such, they are vitally important to us; without them, we would have no basis for our society, our culture, or ourselves.

August 20, 2013
Introspection # 22: “Intellectual Development During the Information Age” – We often place periods of great forward progress in intellectual thought into eras: the Classical era, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, to name a few. With the rise of the computer and the internet, which has connected humanity like never before and made accessible the entire wealth of human knowledge to anyone, we may be setting the foundation for a new revolutionary era in the development of thought.

August 18, 2013
Introspection # 21: “Different Histories, Different Worlds” – Everything we believe and everything we know is shaped by our environment: our culture, our society, our civilization. Yet the nature and state of our civilization is produced by a singular course of events progressing throughout history. Any different choice, decision, or event may have radically altered the course of history and, in turn, our beliefs. If we believe what we do by virtue of the fact that our history has produced these beliefs, then what does this say about who we are and what we hold true? If an infinite amount of historical possibilities could have occurred, and in turn an infinite amount of beliefs and value produced, are ours really so ‘true’?

August 8, 2013
Introspection # 20: “Embracing Death to Embrace Life” – Perhaps more so than anything else, death is a common experience shared by all mankind, and indeed connects us intimately to life on Earth as a whole. As we become more acutely aware of how the world around us works, death appears much less of an ultimate end. Indeed, death appears more like a new beginning. In light of this, understanding and accepting our own death helps us give value to our life and value to our passing. Embracing death helps us to embrace life.

July 31, 2013
Introspection # 19: “The Written Word: Humanity’s Most Powerful Tool” – The written word is the most powerful tool the human species has ever developed. Writing allows for the sharing of ideas, memories, events, stories, and other facets of the human experience in a manner completely unparalleled by anything else. Once recorded, the written word transcends time and space… reading can transport you across the world, into another era, and into the mind and ideas of any author.

July 26, 2013
Introspection # 18: “Exploring the Universe to Discover Ourselves”For most of human history, we knew very little about the universe and our place in it. The investigation and exploration of our sky gradually revealed to us, however, the presence of a vast universe beyond the Earth. Through exploring the cosmos, we have discovered ourselves. Our expanded understanding of the universe has provided us with a fresh perspective about the Human species and the planet Earth we live on. The arrogance of our self-importance, the absurdity of our quarrels and killing, can no longer be defended in light of our new understandings.

July 21, 2013
Introspection # 17: “Humanity’s Commonality”
– In order to reverse the plight of violence which so often arises from our perception of differences in other humans, we must embrace our common human heritage. Instead of disdain, our differences should be given embrace: they make us more similar than we may initially recognize.

July 10, 2013
Introspection # 16: “Discoveries Yet To Be Had”The 21st century will be one of far greater knowledge, and far greater exploration, than any other in humanity’s history. New technologies and the great new frontier of space beckons us to explore and discover, and I know that we will take up its calling. As we continue to investigate our world and our universe from on the Earth, and as we begin to develop and explore it from above in space, who knows what we will discover?

June 15, 2013

Introspection # 15: “Our Place in History”
– One day, the humans of the 21st century will be viewed from the same distant position and the same disconnect that we view the humans of the 1st and 2nd centuries. Our technology and our science, now the most modern and advanced that humanity has ever produced, will be as simple and ancient as the basic tools of the first agricultural civilizations. Humanity will march forward into the future, and we, the humans of the early 21st century, will be remembered as its past.

June 12, 2013
Introspection # 14: “Choices” – Almost every facet of our lives has been decided in this way, by a choice we have made at some point for some reason. The story of our lives, like any other tale of history, is told through a retelling of our choices, what prompted them, and what resulted from them.

June 9, 2013
Introspection # 13: “History and Science: Searches for Similar Answers” – This world around us runs and functions in a number of ways. When we try to explain it, we do so through a number of means. Two of our most powerful resources for discovering the function of our universe are the studies of history and science. Together, they probe our universe to answer the questions of how and why things became they way they became, and how they currently function.

May 13, 2013
Introspection # 12: “Thoughts on the Future”
– A rambling on the future; Although we as humans may remain the same throughout great expanses of time, our societies, our cultures, our technologies, and our understanding of things will change and vary vastly. We cannot hold onto truths as immutable, nor can we believe ourselves ever to be the pinnacle of understanding or progress. Yet we must also never take for granted the lives we currently live, for our experiences are unique to our place and time, to our current society and world, and as time marches forward will never to be had again.

April 29, 2013
Introspection # 11: “The Bright Future of Humanity” – The future of mankind is bright. The future of mankind is a future without war, a future of cooperation, shared benefit, mutual gain. The future of mankind is a future in which it does away with the concept of nations and different identities and embraces the reality of our single planetary species. The future of mankind is a future in which it sets out into the stars, a future where it explores, discovers, learns, and develops in so fantastic a manner that the mankind of our current time and place will be to them like the ‘cavemen’ are to us.

April 13, 2013
Introspection # 10: “The Fleeting Moment of Unipolarity – Maintaining the balance of power is perhaps the most important element behind the actions of the countries in the international system. During times of disproportionate concentrations of power, such as the American “unipolar moment” and the rise of Napoleon’s Empire, countries will rise to balance against and challenge the hegemon. Perhaps this is why there have been so few examples in history of a unipolar distribution of power, and why our “moment” has and will be so brief.

March 28, 2013
Introspection # 9: “Intellect, Our Greatest Asset or Most Dangerous Liability?” –  Intelligence allows a species to largely remove itself from the constraints of nature and dictate its own path of evolution. Yet it also allows a species to destroy itself and the world it lives in. It gives a species the capacity to consciously and deliberately commit massive acts of murder and destruction. Is this really so advantageous of a quality to possess as a species?

March 6, 2013
Introspection # 8: “The Hierarchies of Power” – Since the beginning of human civilization, we have found it necessary to organize ourselves into social structures and systems. Perhaps out of necessity, these hierarchies serve as a framework for the distribution of power within the system; at the very top power is monopolized, and at the very bottom power is almost non-existent. If the acquisition and utilization of power can be removed from the conventional sources which it has been developed and thus freely shared by all, then all will be liberated. In the end, everything in our world is determined by the use of power, and if we can change the way that power is used, then we can change everything about our world.

February 4, 2013
Introspection # 7: “The Human Consciousness from Physical Process, a Philosophical Discourse on the Mind”
– A discourse on the mind and human consciousness. I believe that the human ‘experience’ is through our conscious perception of reality, and that the human ‘consciousness’ is the manifestation of the purely physical processes of the brain. As such, I contend that the mind and body are intimately tied, and accordingly reject the notion of the ‘soul’ or of ‘consciousness’ separate from the physical self.

January 29, 2013
Introspection # 6: “A Realization About the Study of History” – When we study history, we often learn of great men, great conflicts, and profound changes in society and technology. Yet we learn little about the daily lives and experiences of the common man; instead, this knowledge is considered supplementary or is simply nonexistent. Can we truly understand history without this knowledge? I no longer believe so, as the past for me is not as much a story of wars, dates, and important names as it is the collective struggles, hopes, and lives of those who populated it.

November 15, 2012
Introspection # 5: “Something Incredible about the Universe” – There’s something about the universe I find mind-blowing: Life on Earth evolved intelligence, and it likely evolved elsewhere.

August 28, 2012
Introspection # 4: “The Importance of Accurate History” – Our current world is the result of the accumulation of events in the past. It is lamentable then that history is so often either lost, deliberately misconstrued, misunderstood or misinterpreted, or entirely fictitious. Much of our understanding of history, and the stories presented to us, do not accurately describe actual events in the past. We therefore often cannot truly understand the nature of the world around us.

August 12, 2012
Introspection # 3: “The Insights Gained From History” – The entirety of our current world is a result of the collective choices, decisions, and events of the past. The study of history, thus, is perhaps one of the most powerful sources of insight and knowledge an individual can gain about the world around them, their place in that world, and why that world operates as it does.

July 18, 2012
Introspection # 2: “Do Physical Laws Negate Free Will?”
– If special relativity is correct, and observers can essentially travel into the future if near the speed of light, then the deterministic nature of our destiny is perhaps revealed, and a conflict with concepts of free will is raised.

July 2, 2012
Introspection # 1: “All the Experiences”
– At every moment, an incomprehensible amount of things are happening. The sum of all these experiences is beautiful, and humbling, to think about.

Poems and Art

October 29, 2018
Painting: Forest Stream

June 5, 2018
Painting: Winter Mountains

January 26, 2017
Painting: Landscape # 10 – “In the Mountains”

October 22, 2016
Painting: Landscape # 9 – “Stream Through the Trees”

September 23, 2016
Painting: Landscape # 8
– “The Road to the Mountains”

September 2, 2016
Painting: Landscape # 7 – “Misty Mountain”

August 31, 2016
Painting: Landscape # 6 – “Meadow Road”

August 19, 2016
Drawing: Landscape # 5 – “Ocean Sunset”

August 8, 2016
Drawing: Landscape # 4
– “River Sunrise”

July 25, 2016
Drawing: Landscape # 3
– “The Serenity of a Vista”

February 10, 2016
Drawing: Landscape # 2 – “Jungle Waterfall”

January 6, 2016
Drawing: Landscape # 1 – A small landscape done over the course of the past few days.

November 15, 2015
Drawing: “Cis-Lunar Rendezvous” – An imagined future crewed mission to lunar space.

June 11, 2015
Poem #8: Do Unto Others… 

May 31, 2015
Poem #7: The Cause of Peace

April 10, 2015
Poem #6: Exploration

July 21, 2014
Poem #5: Mistakes

July 21, 2014
Poem #4: Magical and Wonderful World

September 18, 2012
Poem # 3: Wanderers

July 23, 2012
Poem # 2: Explorers

July 7, 2012
Poem # 1: Collapse

Video Games

November 28, 2015
Mission to the Moon! A Kerbal Space Program (Real Solar System/RO) Report – More than just a fun videogame involving space, Kerbal Space Program (KSP) can serve as an excellent tool for teaching the nuances and intricacies of rocket science and spaceflight. The Realism Overhaul (RO) and Real Solar System (RSS) mods double down on that, applying real-life principles of rocketry and a true-to-scale recreation of our Solar System to the game. Join me as I conduct a mission to the Moon in KSP RO/RSS, and in the process let’s together learn some neat things about rockets, orbital mechanics, and spaceflight!

April 15, 2015
“The Wonders of Our Universe,” A SpaceEngine Film – Join me on an adventure across our universe as we explore some of the most wondrous sights the cosmos has to offer. Our journey will take us past Jupiter, into the depths of our Milky Way Galaxy, and beyond.

October 27, 2013
What is the Space Station? – Space Complex Alpha is a lonely oasis of life surrounded by the deathly emptiness of space. What purpose does this outpost serve? What is the space station?

July 2, 2013
The JOOL Program: A Kerbal Space Program Story, Pt. 2 – The JAMES mission had, like JEFF, been an enormous success. Despite technical problems early in the mission, the probe managed to perform beyond all expectations, and returned a huge amount of highly valuable information and data on Jool and its moons.

June 28, 2013
The JOOL Program: A Kerbal Space Program Story, Pt. 1 – The advent of the space age enabled Kerbals to study the planets in much greater detail and depth.. As technology progressed, scientists turned their eyes towards Jool. A program was drawn up and designed for the spacecraft study of Jool. This program, aptly named Project JOOL, would hopefully enable scientists to unlock the mysteries the giant gassy outer world held and help them build a better understanding of the Kerbin solar system.

February 20, 2013
My Mission to the Moon: A Kerbal Space Program Adventure – I’ve been playing Kerbal Space Program a lot recently, and it continues to blow me away. It puts you in the shoes of an engineer designing and constructing rockets, satellites, rovers, landers, capsules, space stations, and an array of other vehicles and crafts for the imaginary “Kerbal space program”. I want to share my experience in this game, and allow others to see the incredible things it allows you to do, by detailing a mission from start to finish.

September 3, 2012
The History of Europe, 1066 to 1315 (A Crusader Kings 2 AAR) – I’ve researched and written a simulated history of Europe from 1066 to 1315, using the game Crusader Kings 2 as a platform to let history develop. The game has created a history quite unlike the real one, but one that is equally complex, detailed, and fascinating.

August 15, 2012
A Napoleonic Struggle (A N:TW Darthmod AAR)
– In early July, 1805, French and Austrian armies meet in a skirmish. This AAR chronicles the battle.

July 23, 2012
SpaceEngine, a universe simulator!
– SpaceEngine is a simulation of the entire universe, displaying the stars, galaxies, and planets which make it up. This simulator enables me to experience beautiful sights and amazing things I will never get to see firsthand.

Saudi Arabia

January 6, 2015
The US-Saudi RelationshipThe relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has been a long, important, and impactful one. The two countries have engaged in much trade, military cooperation, intelligence sharing, and other cooperative bilateral relations. The US-Saudi relationship is important for both countries, and both countries bring much to the relationship and get much out of it.

January 5, 2014
The Kingdom’s PressYesterday we had the opportunity to talk to a reporter from the Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper highly popular in Saudi Arabia. A country’s media in many ways reveals the character of its society, and our discussion was therefore quite illuminating about where Saudi Arabia currently stands and where it may be going.

January 3, 2014
Walking Atop HistoryToday we took a visit to Al-Balad, the “old city” of Jeddah and its primary historical area. It was founded in the 7th century and served as the center of Jeddah. Once ringed by walls and a serving as the bustling center of commerce, today it is slowly being replaced by the modern skyscrapers and urban sprawl which are encroaching on its location. However, much of the historical character of Al-Balad remains, and once inside the massive difference between the modern, cosmopolitan city and the traditional feel and architecture of the old city is instantly apparent.

January 2, 2014
The Chamber of Commerce On Wednesday, our last day in Riyadh, we were taken to the Saudi Chamber of Commerce, the agency officially responsible for overseeing and coordinating the Saudi economy. Our visit provided use with some deep insights into the functioning of and current challenges facing the Saudi economy, as well as a candid look into how the members of the chamber, all important and influential Saudis, feel about their culture, their society, and the current relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

January 1, 2014
Preserving the Past -Preserving humanity’s historical heritage is vitally important for our future development. Only by recognizing and admiring the past can we move into developing the future. For Saudi Arabian culture, where tradition and Islamic heritage is a key part of society, keeping the memory of the past alive is necessary.

December 31, 2013
King Saud University Higher education is a very important part of a country and culture’s development. Trained professionals and intellectuals are necessary to accomplish the challenges that come with building, expanding, and modernizing a country. The Saudis recognize this, and have invested huge sums of money into developing the Saudi educational system as a result.

December 30, 2013
Constructing the KingdomSaudi Arabia’s building boom makes apparent to anyone who experiences it that the Kingdom is in the process of a major transformation. This land of desert is becoming a land of cities and urban sprawl, showing that Saudi Arabia is quickly entering a new period of modernity.

December 29, 2013
Arriving at the KingdomMy first impressions of Saudi Arabia are all good. The people are friendly and, as a beginning Arabic speaker, listening to all of the Arabic around me was exciting.The airport where we landed, King Khalid International, was enormous, impressively designed, but easy to navigate. The city of Riyadh, with its beautifully designed skyscrapers blending with suburbs of buildings in the traditional architecture, looked incredibly impressive as we approached it.

December 27, 2013
The Kingdom’s Oil
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s foremost energy producers, controlling an enormous supply of oil and taking in enormous amounts of wealth from its export. Understanding the Saudi economy must first come with an understanding of the Kingdom’s oil.

December 25, 2013
A Journey to Saudi Arabia
Only by learning about the government, the people, and the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can it’s strictly conservative Wahhabi brand of Islam and the current nature of its monarchy be understood. Soon, I will have the opportunity to do so.