Showing posts from 2012

Top 10 Posts of 2012

At the end of every year, I tend to do the same thing: I write a blogpost about how itʼs the end of the year—or at least the end or beginning of something. Just look at these posts from 2008, 2009, Jan. 2011, and—one year ago—Dec. 2011. In that post from last December, I listed off my "top ten" posts for the year, selected by me to reflect the diversity of my experiences through the year. Now I've decided to continue that tradition.

Elven Interventions: A Fan's Review of The Hobbit (Part I)

On a Monday a week and a half ago, my girlfriend, her father and I went to the theater to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The movie was satisfying and entertaining, and a lot of people will enjoy it, ranging from those only a little familiar with Tolkien to those like me who have read several of his books. However, I think there will be audiences with mixed responses to the film: at one end, those who have no familiarity at all with Tolkien's epic lengendarium, and at the other, die-hard fans who are extremely well-versed in it.

There are spoilers that follow, I suppose, but not any that would ruin the film.

Image: My girlfriend and I with Gandalf at the movie theater.

Thesis Prospectus – Lingít ḵa Waashdan Ḵwáan

Do you remember back to this post in September when I first mentioned I would be writing a senior honors thesis in history, or this post when I first announced what I would write about? Well if you don't, there isn't much need to read those posts, as now I am here to update you with a much more thorough thesis prospectus—essentially the biggest product of all my work on my thesis this semester. The prospectus is intended to lay out my argument and the tentative structure of my paper, as well as including some of my methodology and so on. Essentially it's a very rough draft of my introduction, plus a plan for the rest of the thesis. I hope you enjoy reading it; I've left out the bibliography and footnotes to simplify things, so all's that's there is the text and the outline. I'm going to be writing the actual thesis over the next several months, so let me know if you have any suggestions!

The Future of Alaska Partisanship

The celebrated statistician Nate Silver recently wrote a blogpost for the New York Times called "Alaska: Future Swing State?" in which he suggested that trends over the past decade could make my homestate competitive territory for Democrats around the year 2020. Soon afterward, however, the Alaska Dispatch published a forceful rebuttal, pointing out Silver's simplifications and omissions. Now I'll take a stab at analysis and offer my own prediction of where Alaska will be politically in the year 2020 and afterward.

Strasbourg, One Year After (Une année après)

I realized I've only posted one one-year reflection about my study abroad experience so far—on Haguenau—so I think it's time for another. Exactly one year ago I visited three of Strasbourg's museums—the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum de l'Œuvre Notre Dame. I never wrote a post about that day, but one day later I posted this, comparing the U.S. and France. Rather than ramble on about my time at the museums, I will leave you instead with a selection of my best photos.

J'ai réalisé que je n'ai publié qu'une réflexion d'une année sur mes éxperiences des études à l'étranger—sur Haguenau—donc je pense qu'il est temps pour un autre. Il y a une année exactement j'ai visité trois des musées de Strasbourg—le Musée Archéologique, le Musée des Beaux-Arts et le Musée de l'Œuvre Notre Dame. Je n'ai jamais écrit un billet au sujet de ce jour, mais un jour après j'ai publié ça, qui compare les É.U.A. et la France.…

China: Greatest Barrier to Korean Reunification?

I was talking with a Georgetown student from South Korea (ROK) two days ago, and I asked her what she thought of the relationship between China (PRC) and North Korea (DPRK). She brought up the increasing dependence of the DPRK on China, which I was aware of, but she also said something incredible that I had never thought of before: If the North keeps getting closer and closer to China, Korea may lose the chance of ever becoming reunified.

In this post from several months ago, I predicted that the relationship between North and South Korea would change within the next decade. I still believe this is true, but the question becomes, how?

France: The Real Family Values Country?

I had a notion return to my mind recently when I realized I had two French songs in my current playlist about father-son relationships. It's a notion that first came to me while living in Strasbourg, and I wrote about it here: The French love the idea of childhood, and by extension parenthood! There must be at least half a dozen songs out of my 300 Francophone songs on iTunes that seriously sentimentalize family relations, while I probably have a similar number of songs like that in English - out of a total of around 4500. Indeed, both the songs in my playlist came from an album of popular hits in France; meanwhile, the last chart-topping father-son song in the U.S. was probably Cat's in the Cradle, and that came out in 1974.

Photo at right: A community art piece in Neuhof, a banlieue of Strasbourg, part of a big playground.

"Personnages" Passes "Revenge"

Here's some brief internal blog news for you: The Publisher now has a new most popular post! Les Personnages et l'identité dans L'Aventure ambiguë has had more hits now than Alaska's Revenge, the most-visited post on this site since not long after the moment I posted it. Maps That Infuriate Me: European Claims to North America has also been on the up-and-up and is currently in third place. Besides those three, no other posts on this blog even come close to having had as many hits.

Three Maps: Metro Update, Flag Rankings, and "the USA in the Other Direction"

I wanted to write one last blogpost before I take the plunge into an enormous mass of final paper writing - and preferably write one that's interesting. As you may know, I very much enjoy making maps, many of which I have posted on the blog here. (See my geography/cartography label.) I've also finished several maps, however, that have yet to be seen by anyone else, so I thought I might publish a few of them now. The first tracks my ongoing travels in DC, the second handles state flags - a topic I've addressedbefore - and the third is a whimsical proposition of what names in the U.S. might have been.

Iran and Myanmar: Select Comparisons

When I wrote on this blog previously about Delaware and New Jersey, I did so because up to that point I hadn't had a visit from Delaware on my blog - information provided to me by Flag Counter. Soon after the post, I got a visit from Delaware! (Imagine that.) Now I've decided to do that sort of suck-up post again, except this time with two world nations. I've discovered that the two most-populated countries from which I have received zero visits are Iran and Myanmar. Just check out my flag map on the right to see; there are 143 flags on there, supposedly, but not Iran or Myanmar. So, in the following post I will write about these two countries, and maybe that will bring in some visits from them.

Gaza in Google-Supported Geographic Comparisons

The Gaza Strip has been called the largest internment camp in the world, even a concentration camp. It is a slice of urbanity containing well over a million and a half people, many of them classified as refugees, a few of them lucky enough to have employment, and all of them experiencing something far from what could be called a decent life with guaranteed human rights. It is essentially a walled city - but not walled to keep intruders out, as was the original intent when cities were first built in the region many thousands of years ago. Rather, it is walled to keep the people in, and now (yet again) they are trapped within an enclosed, impoverished, and inescapable urban hell as bombardment rains down upon them.

But let's step back now, and just examine geography for a moment. How small is the Gaza Strip, really, and how can we - without actually going there - compare our own living spaces to Gaza?

Those Who Can, Teach; Those Who Can't, Make Education Policy.

There's a saying from George Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman: "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." I don't know what the context for this line was in the play, but on its own this is a stupid and insulting statement. Watch this classic bit of slam poetry from Taylor Mali that's just about the best rebuttal possible. It would be far more accurate to say that those who care teach, and teaching is doing something very important indeed.

In any case, just two days ago a guest speaker came to my Foundations of Education class to talk about education policy, which she's been involved in for decades. Near the end of her talk, she mentioned that she never thought she could be a teacher, dealing with her two children being more than enough. This reminded me of something that's bugged me for a long time: Why are there so many people who have never been teachers who think they know the best way to run schools? It seems to me that a new saying is…

Maps That Infuriate Me: AK and HI Shafted Every Four Years

Every four years, Americans look at more maps during one night than they probably do for months at a time (not including maps on a smartphone). Most of these maps show the fifty states, plus the District of Columbia (because DC does count in presidential elections, in contrast to its usual status of having no say in the federal government). Most of them also fill in the states with red and blue, standard colors for Republicans and Democrats since the year 2000.

I'll tell you one thing that every single one of those maps does, though, without fail: They give Alaska and Hawai'i the shaft by continuing to perpetuate the ridiculous misplacement and mis-sizing of those states.

(At right: In this case, neither Alaska or Hawai'i is a part of Jesusland or Canada, which is probably as it should be.)

My 2012 Election and Why I Voted for Jill Stein

Image: I actually voted a week ago, absentee, but I got this when I voted in the primary, and it's certainly a lovely sticker.

I feel I should write a blogpost on the day before the election, even if I have mostly ignored election politics here, or at least addressed it in rather indirect ways. Over a year ago I had already decided I wouldn't vote for Obama, then a few months ago I compared Mitt Romney to John Kerry, and last month I commented on how Obamney/Robama ignore poverty, and on how conservative evangelicals should be up in arms over the non-Protestant Republican ticket. In any case, let's get straight to the point: How did I vote on the November 2012 ballot, and why?

Haguenau, One Year After (Une année après)

Exactly one year ago - October 28th, 2011 - it was a Friday, and I took a day trip to Haguenau, Alsace. I was living in Strasbourg at the time, of course, with my homestay located just one block from the train station. I don't remember for sure, but this may have been the trip where I missed the train time that I had bought my ticket for that morning, so I worriedly went to the counter and asked about what I could do (expecting that there would be a fee or something, like with an airline ticket). Of course, they told me to just take the next train, (thank you, SNCF!) so I did.

Unbalanced Ideas of Liberty: Accentuate the Positive

There are two concepts of liberty called negative and positive liberties. In simple terms, negative liberty means freedom from something, and positive liberty means freedom to something. Put another way, negative liberties must be protected from government action, while positive liberties must be protected by government action.

Unfortunately, I don't think many Americans understand these concepts. The Bill of Rights is largely made up of negative liberties, and most of the well-known freedoms therein - freedom of speech, religion, press, petition, the right to bear arms, protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and cruel and unusual punishment - are freedoms that are by and large guaranteed by the absence of laws, not the presence of them (beyond the Bill of Rights itself).

Granted, there are some positive liberties in the Bill, such as the rights to due process and a speedy, public, and civil trial by jury. On the whole, however, the Constitution was written by rich …

Finding The Epoch Times

Last Monday I was returning home with a fellow Hoya. We had just gone to an after-school program in the North Capitol Street neighborhood of DC and done an activity with a few kids on malnutrition in India. We walked to Mt. Vernon Square and waited at a bus stop for the Circulator. After a while of waiting, I gradually realized we had entered Chinatown; I should have realized this a lot sooner, considering that we were looking at a FedEx across the street with Chinese characters, but I had never gone to Chinatown from that direction before. As we were still waiting, I looked at the nearby newspaper bins (or whatever they're called) and only found one free one that looked like it had news: The Epoch Times. As far as I know, I'd never seen this paper before, and on the long bus ride home, I read it and discovered a very interesting publication.

Wordles of Famous Speeches

I have mentioned Wordle previously on this blog - nearly three years ago in fact, when I used it for Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Wordle is a tool to create word clouds, often making words different sizes in order to emphasize their relative prominence. For "I Have a Dream," I put in the text of the speech and Wordle picked out the 100 most common words (excluding common words like "of" or "and"), changing their size according to their frequency. I even created an image with state abbreviations shown by their state's geographic size (right). Right now, though, I want to return to speeches, and use the same method as with "I Have a Dream." Without further ado, here are some Wordles of other famous oratory:

The Six Towers Across the Potomac

Living in Rosslyn, Virginia, I travel across the Key Bridge every time I have to go to Georgetown, and most of the time I walk. Doing that, I'm given a whole lot of opportunities to look across the Potomac at the Georgetown skyline, and every once in a while I take pictures, like the one that's currently the header for the blog.

Just two weeks ago, though, I went up onto some pedestrian skywalks, where I hadn't gone before. (Rosslyn's Wiki article talks about the system.) What I found was my best view yet of six towers: The two towers of Healy Hall, the two towers of Lauinger Library, and the two towers of the National Cathedral.

Where's the Outrage, Evangelicals?

I don't understand why more conservative evangelicals aren't outraged by this presidential election. Out of the four men on the two major party tickets, only one of them is a Protestant - Barack Obama! Romney is a Mormon and Ryan and Biden are Catholics: The President whose faith and origins so many on the religious right have questioned is actually the only candidate in their theological corner! Look, I've freely admitted I'm an atheist, but having been raised a Protestant, even I am a little outraged by the lack of representation in this election. Over half of American adults are Protestants, and I'm sure it's an even larger proportion among Republicans. If conservative evangelicals are so deeply defined by their religion, why haven't I heard of more of them up in arms over the Republican nominees?

Coming Out of the Atheist Closet

There are way too many people in the atheist closet. I used to be one of them, and it might even be a little risqué to come out as an atheist here on this blog, although I pretty much already have in other contexts. Now, don't get me wrong - this post isn't trying to draw a parallels between stigma against atheists and the sort of intolerance and hatred faced by homosexuals and other people who don't comply with hetero-normative culture. I think those issues are far more important for us to challenge than issues of religion - but that goes along with my being an atheist. I think it's about time that being an atheist stopped being a big deal and stopped being treated as negative. I think it's also an identity that many more people need to own up to.

The Library of Congress - Worth Getting to Know

Last Friday I went back to the Library of Congress for the first time in nearly two years. The last time I went was in 2010, which was the first time I got a reader card and went into the main reading room - the huge rotunda of bookshelves and study desks that tourists can only see from above.

To enter the sacred reading room, you have to get that reader card - which wouldn't be such a big deal, except that it's a bit like getting a passport. As far as I can tell, it seems like the Madison Building is entirely devoted to housing the reader card process, strung out through a long line of different stations and tasks. Luckily, when I went through it I was the only applicant there, so I think it went much more quickly than it could have. In any case, after you get your card, a magnificent institution is open to you, and it's really worth getting to know.

The Redskins: Still a Racist Team Name

After going to the Library of Congress on Saturday, I picked up a free copy of the The Washington Examiner, just to have some reading material. I'd never read it before, and while going through it I realized that it's totally a conservative rag. Its Wikipedia article confirms that as the Examiner's intent, and its owner Philip Anschutz also financed the horrible propaganda movies Waiting for Superman and Won't Back Down, both of which I've condemned on this blog.

Crazy billionaire aside, however, a newspaper having a conservative bent is no reason for it to support racism. And yet, that's what I saw just on the second page.

Living on One Dollar and the First Presidential Debate

This evening I had two very different viewing experiences: First, I attended a film screening at Georgetown about four college students who tried living on one dollar a day for eight weeks in the rural highlands of Guatemala. After that, I went home and watched the first presidential debate of 2012. In many ways, the perspectives shown in these two events could not be further from each other.

Won't Watch Won't Back Down

I don't need four bad reviews in order to skip watching a movie, but in the case of the recently-released Won't Back Down, I would point to this, this, this and this as prime reasons to boycott this new piece of claptrap at the theater. Even the trailer is difficult to watch: The very first lines in it are classic demonization propaganda, saying "that school" and "those teachers" just "don't care about the children." I will make this post brief, considering that within a few days this movie will be totally out of the news. Suffice it to say, however, that I am SICK and TIRED of the teacher demonization and public school demonization that have become such a national obsession.

Alaska Without Anchorage

They say Alaska is a "state of villages" - or at least they say something like that.

This would be completely true, except for one big problem - Anchorage.

Quick Alternate Histories: A Post-Beringia Pre-Columbian Migration

The single most important element in the modern history of the American landmass is that Europeans and Africans brought to it a host of horrific diseases that repeatedly slaughtered indigenous populations from the late 15th century onward. Here's an alternate history for you: What if a large migration from the Afro-Eurasian disease pool had gone to the Americas centuries before? If America's populations had developed immunities to such diseases much earlier, the entire history of the modern world would have turned out much differently.

In the best alternate histories, the "hinge factor" - or the agent that changes everything - is relatively small and easy to accept as plausible. For this situation, I'll admit it's a little more difficult to imagine - but we're going to do it anyway.

Senior Honors Thesis Topic Statement

Back in February I was thinking about potential topics for writing a senior thesis, and wrote this post about how I could do something relating to education. Then in April I predicted I would write a thesis, but through most of the summer I thought I probably wouldn't. As I revealed here, however, I finally did decide to stay at Georgetown until May and take advantage of the opportunity to write a senior honors thesis in history. So far, I have not revealed on this blog what the subject of that thesis will be—until now.

Generational Accents: An Underappreciated Phenomenon

Usually when we think about accents, geographic distinctions will come to mind. In the United States, for example, people often refer to a Southern accent, although of course there are countless accents that originate in the historic South, ranging from Cajun accents to Texas drawl to the upperclass talk of those old plantation houses. There are many other stereotypically "accented" geographic areas as well, like New York City, Boston, the northern Great Plains, or even the San Fernando Valley.

Of course, our perceptions of these places' accents do have a basis in reality. However, I think that geography and place, while still important, are becoming less relevant to the way Americans speak. I believe another type of distinction deserves a greater amount of attention - generational accents.

Replacing the Word "Freshman"

Just the other day I asked a group of girls if they were freshmen - and they responded yes. There was nothing abnormal about the conversation at the time, but later I remembered what I'd said and realized how weird it really was: Why would I call these girls a word that had "men" in it?

Now, maybe this seems like a silly issue, but I really think we ought to replace the word "freshman" with something appropriate for both sexes.

Nicholas Kristof Supports the Decline of American Teaching

Teaching in the United States is really on the decline. By this, I don't mean to say teachers are getting worse at their jobs. Rather, I mean that American teachers are being increasingly bullied, demeaned, disrespected, misunderstood and mistreated. Within the last few years, the national discourse on education has been filled to overflowing with misinformation and myths, (as in Waiting for Superman), as well as huge campaigns for misguided and counterproductive "reforms" in the school system.

An opinion piece by Nicholas Kristof published in the New York Times yesterday is merely another example of how badly off-track policymakers and the media have gotten. Now, Kristof is not a bad guy: My girlfriend and I enjoyed the book Half the Sky, which Kristof co-wrote with his wife, and I've seen pieces of his in the Times before that I entirely agreed with. In this instance, however, Kristof is very much promoting and participating in the decline of American teaching. Let…

New Home, New Classes

I never could have predicted this, but I am now a resident of Virginia! Well, I officially maintain Alaska residency, but Virginia is now where I physically live. This year at Georgetown I'll be renting an apartment (with three friends) on the other side of the river, in Rosslyn, a neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia. It's a nice place - very green, though kind of loud - and I've quite enjoyed settling in. I also have a set of four new classes, and I'll tell you about those as well.

Visiting 'Ksan in Hazelton, British Columbia

Back on August 26th  - the first day of my family's roadtrip to Seattle, as I mentioned here - we stopped at Hazelton, British Columbia, by my request. While being a tour guide at the Totem Heritage Center, many visitors (principally Canadian ones) had told me about their visits to Hazelton and mentioned the totem poles they had seen there. Naturally I was curious, and this place was added to my mental list of places with totem poles I had never visited before (like Haida Gwaii, the UBC museum, the Alaska State Museum and so on). As soon as I found out I'd be going on this BC roadtrip, I knew we should go to Hazelton.

A New Metro Plan to Pursue

If you were looking at this blog about a year ago, you may have noticed my maps of the Strasbourg tram system - here, here, here and here. I took a map of the system and then edited it using the "Paintbrush" program on my computer in order to make a record of the stops I'd visited. Eventually I went through all of them! Now I've decided to do the same thing again, this time with the Washington, D.C. Metro system.

More 仏国/日本 (France/Japan) Similarities

Back when I lived in Strasbourg, I wrote this article about similarities I saw between Japan and France - the two foreign countries where I've lived with a homestay family. In the many months since then, I have continued to see interesting similarities between the two countries, though unfortunately I failed to write many of them down. Here, however, are a few more I've thought of:

Last Day in Ketchikan

Well, early tomorrow morning I head out for Prince Rupert, along with my dad, brother and sister. My brother is starting college in Tacoma, Washington, and I'm saving money by coming along for the roadtrip and then flying out of Sea-Tac for Washington, D.C. I will, of course, be coming back to Ketchikan sometime, but never again in the same way.

Done as a Tour Guide - For Now

Today was my last day working at the Totem Heritage Center, and in just a few days I'll be leaving Ketchikan and on my way back to Georgetown. Working as a tour guide was a wonderful experience, and it allowed me to develop a great range of skills, from research to prepared speaking and from foreign language to conversation skills. I loved sparking people's curiosity, educating them, and even entertaining them.

I really enjoyed the moments when I saw kids (or anyone) excitedly telling someone else something I had just told them. I also enjoyed meeting interesting people and hearing unique, thought-provoking questions. All of my coworkers were great as well, and, of course, the job was never stressful. Here's someone who blogged about my storytelling after visiting the Heritage Center a few weeks ago.

And, to finish with a little humor, someone commented to me today on how many clan names end with "-.adi," like the Gaanax.ádi of the Taant'a Kwáan. They joking…

Quick Alternate Histories: A Franco-German Empire

I've decided to start a new series of posts on the blog, entitled "Quick Alternate Histories." In these posts I will suggest in a brief format a surprising idea that just might have been a historical reality, had events turned out a little differently. Of course, my intention is merely to make amusing and thought-provoking suggestions. Even if my ideas are utterly unrealistic, thinking about alternate histories is a healthy and constructive exercise: It emphasizes for us that history is neither preordained nor inevitable, nor will it ever be.

So, what is my first Quick Alternate History? I believe there could have been a lasting Franco-German empire during the 19th century.

Is One Semester of Study Abroad Enough?

Studying abroad is a great experience, and it's something I would recommend to anyone who's able to do it. The rewards of the experience are immense, giving a student new learning, new perspectives and an entirely new world to explore. All you have to do is read a few of my blogposts from last September, October, November or December to get an idea of my wonderful experiences in Strasbourg. However, many of the friends I met in Strasbourg stayed there after I left, spending nine months or more in the city I learned to love after only three and a half. The question for me, then, is whether staying in France for the whole academic year would have given me a greatly magnified experience. Here's the more important question though, for anyone who might study abroad in the future: Is one semester enough?

Learning Lingít: A Personal Wish and a Cultural Imperative

People around the world get caught up a lot on the "usefulness" of language. I remember that while I was living in Strasbourg, a girl I talked with complained about being from the Czech Republic because of how "useless" knowing Czech was. (I think she could speak at least four languages, no less.) She said she had at least been lucky to live near Germany, so she could learn that "useful" language relatively quickly. When first hearing this, I was fazed. Afterward, though, all I could think was, How can you say that? Your ancestors fought and died to protect your native language! And indeed, if history had gone a bit differently, Czechs today might well be speaking German, and Czech would hardly be spoken at all.

Admittedly, I too chose to learn a "useful" language - French, which is the second most common second language in the world. However, if you asked me what language I most want to learn next, or wish for instant fluency in it, I would tel…

In Support of Real Names on YouTube

Just yesterday, YouTube asked me if I wanted to start displaying my real name on their website, rather than my username. Now, I knew YouTube had been purchased by Google, and I also knew Google has been gradually integrating all of its websites, connecting them for easy use on a single unified platform. All the same, I was surprised by this move, since it almost seems crazy for people to use their real names on YouTube, as if it was Facebook or Google+. However, I promptly answered the website's offer in the affirmative, and I agree that things should change. Now I'll explain why.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of the best pieces of literature I have ever read. At first glance, it looks like a novel with a superficial gimmick, (just like so many others), and the book jacket even makes it seem a little that way. After several chapters, however, this book becomes incredibly deep. It is really the most philosophical, thought provoking and deeply touching book I have read for many years, and I cannot hesitate to give it the highest recommendation to any reader.

Favorite Reading from June/July 2012

Everyone once in a while, you just have to write a blogpost with a boring title. Now that you've seen it, though, let's go straight to it: Out of seven books I read and finished this June and July, here are four of my favorites.

Governor Gender Rehashed: The NAFTA Bloc

Well, I know I posted a map just about two weeks ago that shows the gender of U.S. governors and Canadian premiers, and within those two weeks nothing has changed. However, I haven't posted a map on this blog yet that is truly North American - which is to say, a map including Mexico. (I know Central America and the Caribbean are also part of North America, according to the standard categories, but Mexico rounds out the countries that only belong to North America.) So, even though not too much is different, here is my first homemade map ever that has the entire NAFTA bloc - Canada, the United States and Mexico. Take a look:

Two Years With My MacBook Pro

It's been about two years since I got my MacBook Pro, (maybe a little less), so I thought I might analyze how well the computer has done for me. Over two years I've had both enjoyments and complaints, and I have a few comparisons to make as well between this laptop and the alternatives.

Percentage of Indigenous People in Each Territory, Province and State

Here's a map I created to display the answers to a simple question: What is the percentage of indigenous people who live in each territory, province and state of Canada and the United States? I had to get the statistics from kind of an amalgam of websites - Wikipedia, the U.S. Census, and others - and in some cases I am not exactly sure if I used an accurate figure (particularly for Nova Scotia). Regardless, the map still shows in a highly eye-catching way the relative influence that Native Hawaiians, Native Alaskans, First Nations people and American Indians have on the culture and society of U.S. and Canadian polities.

Me at 30? 40? 50?

My cousin recently suggested I should write about what I think I'll be doing at age 30. (Right now I'm 21.) Since my mom just turned 50 this year, I thought I might make a prediction for that age as well, and if I'm predicting 30 and 50, why not throw in 40 while I'm at it? I'll keep my predictions brief, and hopefully you'll find them interesting. Maybe sometime in the far off future I'll look back on this and see how well I did.

Gender of U.S. and Canadian Governors and Premiers

I know the blog has had a lot of maps lately, like here, here and here, but I think this will be my last one for a while. I actually made this map several months ago but never put it on the blog until now, after doing a great deal of aesthetic work on it recently. The map is pretty simple: it shows whether the governor or premier of each state, province and territory in the U.S. and Canada is a man or a woman. Let's take a look!

Maps That Infuriate Me: Walls in Palestine

I haven't written for my "Maps That Infuriate Me" series in quite a while, but now I think it's time to return to it. The following maps attempt to show Israel's walls constructed in the West Bank, the primary territory of the state of Palestine. Palestine's other territory - the Gaza Strip - is entirely encircled, but what's different about the walls in Palestine is how they encroach on, divide, and even completely surround Palestinian communities and land, disrupting vital connections between Palestinians and worsening their living conditions. This grossly violates the border known as the "Green Line," product of the1949 Armistice Agreementsmade between Israel and four of its opponents during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. It also violates the sovereignty and security of life and property the Palestinian people deserve, and that's why these maps infuriate me.

State and Provincial Flag Colors: A Map Series

After my last post, I decided to do a bit more cartography on flag colors. This time, though, I've decided to include Canada, and I'm taking a new tack: showing every color in the flags, rather than the dominant color. To do that, I've made a separate map for each shade, highlighting all the states, provinces and territories whose flags that have any of that color. For this map series I've done blue, red, yellow and white. Let's take a look!

Main Colors of the States' Flags

In celebration of Independence Day, I thought I might post a new map I've made that shows the main color used for each of the fifty states' flags. Hopefully it's a unique way to look at state flags that you've never seen before!

The Essence of Epicness

These days, a lot of things are described as "epic." I, however, would like to rehabilitate the more original, literary meaning of the word, describing stories of massive scope and ambition. I'll talk about some of my favorite epic books, and then I'll ask the question of how we can make comparisons between these stories, i.e. what makes one story more epic than another. Is it the breadth and depth of the universe it creates? Is it the astonishment and awe that the feats and actions of its heroes inspire in us? Is it the beauty the story holds in its tapestry of interwoven characters and fates? Let's explore the essence of epicness.

The Strength of Demographic and Generational History

Political history, and perhaps even mythic history, dominates much of what most people know about the past. Social, cultural and economic history may appear in history classes, often bringing emphases on issues of gender and ethnic difference. However, there are a few different types of history that, as far as I can tell, rarely receive any thought or mention in common courses or in the public sphere: One of them is demographic history, and another is generational history.

Please Join Wall Street Rather Than Teach For America

I've been thinking about things college students do after they graduate, and I had recently read a somewhat critical article about the high number of students from top schools who are going into finance and banking (even after all that's happened in the last few years). As much as I, too, would be critical of such a trend, I have also noticed ever larger numbers of students applying for and joining Teach For America, a non-profit organization that will have 10,000 participants next fall. TFA believes it's out to save the country, but it is in fact pursuing a thoroughly arrogant mission with frighteningly harmful results. With the following points considered, I feel confident in claiming that it's better for college graduates to go join the banks on Wall Street, rather than join Teach For America.

An Indigenous/Non-Indigenous or Western/Non-Western Art Dichotomy?

As I've mentioned here and here, this summer I'm working at Ketchikan's Totem Heritage Center, one of the best places in the world to see old, original totem poles. They say that being a tour guide is all about saying the same things to different people every day, although after a while they sometimes seem to be the same people every day. One of my coworkers even said that tour guides are like people with Alzheimer's and OCD at the same time. In any case, the visitors who come to the Center often ask the same sorts of questions, and though I'm always happy to answer them, there is one theme of questions and comments in particular that always catches my attention. The theme is making comparisons.

Owls, Narratives, Everest and Samurai

I thought I might write a short post about the books I've read so far this summer: I Heard the Owl Call My Name, Counter-Narrative, Into Thin Air, and Chūshingura. About the best groupings I can make the books are that two concern Asia and two concern North America, and two concern the past while two concern the present. Other than that, each of the four books is as different as can be - instructive, biographical, literary, dramatic; violent, suspenseful, touching, political; challenging, amusing, saddening, incredible. Let me tell you a little bit about them.

Why Massachusetts Candidates Can't Win the Presidency

I believe Mitt Romney is just about as likely to be president as John Kerry was. We'll see how the votes turn out come November, but mark my words, the result this year may be just about the same as it was in 2004 - except the parties will be reversed. The circumstances behind the 2004 and 2012 presidential elections are very different, but there are similarities as well. What is it that the losing candidate and the predicted-to-lose candidate have in common? For one, it's Massachusetts.

Scout Willis and a Northwest Coast Design Dress

I never read celebrity news, gossip news, or anything like that. Never. However, tonight while I was reading an article on some news website about Scott Walker's election win in Wisconsin or some other thing like that, I noticed an amazing picture in the sidebar. It was a slideshow of news stories, and the picture I saw showed a woman's face with the shoulders and chest of a very distinctive dress. I clicked on the picture right away.

Fun Words in Lingít (Tlingit)

Last summer I wrote a post about the Tlingit language (Lingít), my interest in it, and my hope for its resurgence. In the fall while in France, I mentioned the Sealaska Heritage Foundation's creation of a new online flash application for learning the Tlingit alphabet. Then just a few months ago I discovered there is a Tlingit dictionary available for PDF download. There's also a dictionary in Haida (X̱aad kíl) as well, one of Southeast Alaska's other Native languages. Using these sorts of resources, I've learned a few more words in Lingít than I've ever known before. Now I'd like to share some fun ones with you, and be sure to go back to the alphabet flash application whenever you need pronunciation help.

Decimalization: New Ways Forward

I've talked about measurement systems on the blog before, notably in this post, where I criticized Americans for retaining their archaic measurements, and in this post, where I criticized the French for not entirely decimalizing how they say their numbers.

Now, basically anyone who has lived life in the United States knows that our measurements are ridiculous. No one honestly believes fitting 16 ounces into a pound or 5,280 feet into a mile is more simple or more rational than having 1,000 grams in a kilogram and 1,000 meters in a kilometer. There are only three countries in the world that do not use the International System of Units (SI) as their sole or primary measurement system - and the other two are Liberia and Burma. Making the change to SI in the United States is not impossible: In fact, it would actually be a job creator - and afterward life would be a whole lot easier.

21 and Still Young

Here are my previous birthday-referencing posts on the blog: my 17th, my 18th, and my 20th. Now today, (or actually yesterday), I turned 21, and my biggest takeaway from it was that I'm still extremely young. I still have a full nine years to be in my 20s, and nine years is much longer than the time I've spent so far being a mature semi-adult seriously thinking about my future (which I'd argue has been about 3-4 years).

Publishing with Integrity

In my first year or two of blogging, I kept a lot more contact with other blogs on the internet, reading all the new posts on my bloglist, leaving regular comments and so on. (I had a lot more free time back then.) Now I'm looking to better reinsert myself into the blogosphere, and one way I see of doing that is for Peter's Publisher to officially become a blog with integrity.

Delaware and New Jersey as Dutch and Swedish Colonies

Delaware isn't a state many people visit, or think about on a regular basis. It's the second smallest by area and sixth smallest by population, largely off the beaten track in terms of travel and transport. New Jersey by contrast gets a lot more notoriety, but often as the butt of jokes. Did you know, though, that Delaware and New Jersey have some pretty interesting and unique early colonial history? I bet you didn't, so keep reading to find out more.

Coming Home to Ketchikan, Alaska

This is the third time I've returned home to Ketchikan for the summer after a school year of college. Depending on my plans for next summer after I graduate, this might be the last time I do that. I came home nearly a week ago, and this is the beautiful scene I was welcomed with:

Needless to say, I'm very glad to be back. I missed being here in the summer and I know I have a lot of good times to look forward to.

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West at Georgetown

On a Tuesday evening back in mid-April I had a wonderful opportunity to listen to media personality Tavis Smiley and celebrated intellectual Cornel West here at Georgetown. They came to speak about their recent book The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, (at Amazon here), their first book written together. It seems they've known each other and collaborated for many years, however, including in their radio show Smiley & West. Hearing them speak was a great experience and I support their cause entirely. However, I do have some critiques of their message.

Top 5 Posts of Spring 2012

In celebration of having finished my junior year, and in the spirit of Top 10 Posts of 2011, I now give you five of my favorite posts written this semester at Georgetown. (Note that the countdown goes from oldest to most recent, and isn't a ranking of the posts.) I couldn't say these are my five very best posts of the last four and half months, but they are certainly some of the best to read and enjoy.

Let the Disqussion Begin

Disqus is a comment system that has gained more and more popularity in the last few years, and now I've decided to start using it here on Peter's Publisher. I hope you don't mind the change, but if you do, leave a comment! Now let me explain why I made the switch.

A Belated 4th Birthday Post for the Publisher

Three days ago, (on May Day), the Publisher celebrated its fourth birthday - four years of blogging, stretching from the last weeks of my junior year in high school to the last weeks of my junior year in college.

Harry Potter and the Gospel of Judas

I recently watched the eighth and final installment of the Harry Potter films. For those who never read the books, I'm sure the film should have been a great experience and satisfying end to the story. For those like me, however, who quickly devoured the installments of J. K. Rowling's epic series in short time after each was published, watching the last film was little more than an obligation; we already knew the ending, but we needed to finish seeing it acted out for us.

The Merits of Admiring Historical Figures

What would you think if you heard someone praising Karl Marx? or Francisco Franco? What about Andrew Jackson or Christopher Columbus? In this post I look at historical figures and whether it's generally acceptable to admire them. What's the dividing line, and how is it defined?

Dreams, Predictions and Poetry

I recently created a new label - Europe - which was probably a long time in coming. Along with Asia and Africa, both created several weeks ago, I now have three continent labels, and it will probably stay that way for a while, since I am somewhat reluctant to do an "Americas" label, and I don't think I've written much of anything on Australia, Oceania or Antarctica. (It's kind of strange that so many continents start with A).

Anyway, I've noticed I have three labels in particular without a great number of posts behind them (ten or fewer). Those are dreams, predictions and poetry. Each is important and unique enough that I wouldn't want to get rid of it, but I have to admit that it's a rare occasion when I would happen to write something including any of these things. Now I will help change that, and this post will include them all.

Poverty in Korea under Japanese Colonialism

Koreans Without Sovereignty – Survival or Success? Poverty in Korea under Japanese Colonialism
The Land is no longer our own
Does spring come just the same
To the stolen fields?
“Does Spring Come to Stolen Fields?” by Yi Sang-Hwa (1900-1943)

Fed Up With Juneau Empire Sports Headlines

I like Juneau, Alaska. It's a nice place. That said, Juneau and Ketchikan can often be big competitors, especially between our high schools. For a long time, Juneau-Douglas High and Ketchikan were the only 4A high schools in the region, which is a system of tiers based on the number of students, so schools with 50 students don't compete against schools with 700. However, JDHS used to be the biggest high school in the state, and Kayhi was the smallest 4A in the state, so it wasn't exactly a level playing field, and that's been evident in many different sports and competitions over the years.

A few years ago, however, Juneau finally built a second high school to accomodate their massive student population. I think this has probably equalized things some, but you wouldn't get that impression from the sports articles in the Juneau Empire.

Cascadia Ferries: Whittier to San Francisco?

Have you ever taken a ferry in the Pacific Northwest? travelled over the waters of Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, or Northern California? If so, I may have made a map you'll enjoy.

"Senegalese Analogies" Bibliography

I wrote "Senegalese Analogies" a year ago in April 2011 for a seminar called China's Evolving Role in Africa. After putting it on my blog, it's been one of my more popular posts, as I talked about here. Now I'm providing my bibliography for that paper. I would have put it in the original post, but that was extremely long already, and this bibliography is also extremely long. Let me know if there are any broken links or other problems. Here it is:

The Missing China Mystery!

This blog has received visits from 99 different countries, including some from really obscure places, but not from the most populous country on earth. Let's take a look at this crazy situation.

New Appearance and Jump Breaks

I've now decided to try something new with the blog. Yes, that's right, I'm trying out jump breaks, which means you have to click "read more" to read the rest of this - unless you're already on the individual page for this post.

Native Worlds of New Spain

A month and a half ago I posted this, which was my first paper for my history seminar "Native Americans Making North America." Now this is my second paper from that class, and it covers a wide variety of histories within the colony of New Spain during the 16th through 18th centuries. As always, my footnotes can be provided on request, and if you come across this paper and want to use it, please cite me and/or this website. Enjoy!

Native Worlds of New Spain:  The Diversity and Power of Indigenous Communities in Colonial North America
One narrative of Spanish America’s history that maintains a strong grasp on the imagination and reflects popular assumptions begins with violent, imbalanced conquest, followed by decimating, immobilizing disease, completed with solidified and regimented European rule. In nearly every way, these simplistic notions leave native inhabitants of the Americas powerless, discounted, and even unimportant in the retelling of their very own history. While…