The Archives

Below is a chronological collection of the essays and writings I’ve put on this site, organized by their different categories and accompanied with brief synopses.

 General Ramblings - Thoughts and ideas on happenings around the world.

  • A study of political organization and conduct within an online community – A brief review of the structure and political makeup of UnitedOperations.net, an online community founded around democratic ideals.
  • Rep. Valarie Hodges, the new face of American intolerance – Rep. Hodges’ comments about vouchers going to Islamic-based religious schools demonstrate a dangerous and growing intolerance towards minority faiths and ideas in America.
  • Clerics call for the destruction of the Pyramids – why do we destroy our own heritage? - Clerics within Egypt are calling for the destruction of the ‘Pagan’ Great Pyramids, contributing to a history of destruction for humanity’s ancient cultural heritage.
  • Romney’s Bain Scandal: Either a felon, or a liar… – Mitt Romney’s campaign will be sent on the defensive following reports that he lied about his participation in Bain Capital following 1999.
  • 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.
  • The Arguments Against Gay-Marriage are Bullshit - The arguments against gay marriage are hardly defensible, and those who use them effectively discriminate against a significant portion of the population.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Thoughts on Tonight’s Political Debate – Tonight’s political discussion between Maryland Delegate Sandy Rosenberg and Harford County Executive David Craig was, quite frankly, a bit of a disappointment. The questions asked were fantastic and thought-provoking, but the answers given were quite the letdown. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the politicians dodged questions, gave answers of little substance, and pointed fingers.
  • Reflections on the 2nd Pres. Debate - The problem is our debates have become less of a discussion of substance between candidates about issues central to our nation and more of a spectacle for viewers to watch the two candidates duke it out. Neither one has presented any real information about what they intend to do for the next four years. Instead, they throw attack after attack at each other and stick largely to ideology and campaign ‘promises’ when answering questions about their policies and ideas. Last night’s debate, unfortunately, was no different
  • Reflections on the 3rd Pres. Debate -  As a final debate, I thought that the candidates performed cordially and performed well. I thought that the President looked and sounded very strong in what he had to say about foreign policy, but then again he knew what he was talking about. Mr. Romney, not so much. However, as a result of the nature of this race, as Obama put it, we aren’t looking for ‘nation building abroad but nation building back home’.
  • Clooney’s “Ides of March” Critique – George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” is a political drama, a movie with insights into the behind-the-scenes conduct of campaigns, the ‘dirty’ nature of politics and politicking, and the intrapersonal struggles between optimistic idealism and realistic cynicism experienced by those who work in them.
  • 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.
  • 2012’s Campaign Advertisements: The Best and Worst – This campaign season was one inundated with campaign advertisement. Whatever the reason for the abundance of campaign advertising may be, one thing is sure: it provided us with some fantastically effective ads along with some fantastically horrible ones.
  • 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.
  • Cool Facts About This Week’s Meteor Shower – Meteor showers are exciting things. The bright flashes in the night sky produced by hunks of rock or ice burning up in our planet’s upper atmosphere are fun to watch, and for those of us who are interested in astronomy its a great experience to get to watch the universe in action
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Frankenstein ‘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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Importance of China on the MoonOn 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!
  • 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.
  • 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’s character as a historian writing for a foreign audience trying to explain the unique aspects of the Roman state which contributed to its rise.
  • 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.
  • Reflections on Dr. Shibley Telhami’s Lecture – A lecture hosted at McDaniel College featured Professor Shibley Telhami, a prolific author on issues in the Middle East and a distinguished professor from the University of Maryland. Dr. Telhami’s presentation covered a wide array of issues, such as the importance Arab populations place on their governments’ foreign policy and the growing inability for Arab autocracies to maintain the established order.
  • 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.
  • Greed, Power, and Prestige – Explaining the Fall of the Roman RepublicAn 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Reflecting on the American System, A Rhetorical Piece - A brief rhetorical piece on the American system, it’s current character, and the necessity for an honest reflection on its condition by the American citizenry.
  • The Elite as Vanguard – It seems that the elite form a vanguard, dictating how society and civilization will develop. This class has disproportionate power over determining the fate of society, because they have the resources necessary to bring about political, cultural, economic, and social evolution and revolution. Ultimately, these changes are all done to benefit the position of the elites.
  • 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?
  • Liberalism and Realism – A Personal Perspective – Thoughts and perspectives on international relations theory and its applicability to contemporary politics. In this paper I analyze various international relations theories, in particular Realism and Liberalism, review their analytical capacity, and choose my theory preference.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

International Affairs – Writings about the international community and international interactions.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Light of The Protests, Don’t Disavow Arab Democracy Just Yet – The violent protests sweeping the Middle East are frightening to us in the West, but are not representative of the region at all. Those who claim that the Arab experiments in democracy have failed or will give rise to radical regimes are short-sighted and, frankly, wrong.
  • The Beginning of the End for Iran’s Regime? – Iran is dealing with a massive crisis which has the possibility of getting out of control. While it is too early to say now, there is the chance that this will be the spark that leads to protests like what we saw in Egypt last year, and might very well result in the collapse of the current regime. What is more likely is that Iran will be more open to compromise, and possibly even admit defeat, when it comes to its nuclear program.
  • 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.
  • 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 casulaities 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 anarchical 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 transformational and pivotal revolution in modern history: the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
  • The Laws of War – A brief history and analysis of international law regarding war and conflict.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Introspections – “Looking inward”, examinations of my ideas, philosophies, and views on life.

  •  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.
  • Introspection # 2 “In the Future of Space Settlement, Who Governs What?” – The future of private settlement in space raises serious questions and concerns about the sovereignty of those settlements. Will corporations be responsive to state laws? Will governments exert equal influence in otherworldly affairs? In space, who exactly governs what?
  • Poem # 1: Collapse – A poetic short
  • Introspection #3 “Building a Knowledge of Ancient Rome” - As I seek to expand my knowledge on the fascinating Ancient Rome, I will read a number of sources of comprehensive information from historians living in both our time and the distant past.
  • Introspection #4 “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.
  • Poem # 2: Explorers – A poetic short.
  • Introspection #5 “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.
  • Introspection #6 “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.
  • Poem # 3: Wanderers – A poetic short
  • Science or Religion, an Interview - An interview I had with a fellow student on some of my beliefs regarding the merit of science and religion.
  • 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.
  • Introspection # 7 “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.
  • Introspection # 8: “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.
  • Introspection # 9: “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.
  • Introspection # 10: “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?
  • Introspection # 11: “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.
  • Introspection # 12: “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.
  • Introspection # 13: “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.
  • Introspection # 14: “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.
  • Introspection # 15: “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.
  • Introspection # 16: “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.
  • Introspection # 17: “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?
  • Introspection # 18: “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.
  • Exploring the Universe to Discover OurselvesFor 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.
  • Introspection # 19: “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.
  • Introspection # 20: “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’?
  • Introspection # 21: “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 accessable the entire wealth of human knowledge to anyone, we may be setting the foundation for a new revolutionary era in the development of thought.
  • Introspection # 22: “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.
  • Introspection # 23: “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’.
  • Introspection # 24: “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.
  • Introspection # 25: “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?
  • Introspection # 26: “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.
  • Introspection # 27: “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.
  • Introspection # 28: “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.
  • Introspection # 29: “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.
  • Introspection # 30: “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.
  • Introspection # 31: “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?
  • “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.
  • “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.
  • Poem #3: Magical and Wonderful World – A poetic short.
  • Poem #4: Mistakes – A poetic short.
  • Introspection # 32: “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.

Video Games – Reviews, After Action Reports, and thoughts on video games I play.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.

Saudi Arabia – A discussion of my journey to Saudi Arabia on the National Council of US-Arab Relation’s Saudi Arabia Fellowship.

  • 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.
  • The Kingdom’s OilSaudi 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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