solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and (thankfully) short

30 11 2009

Damn Hobbes and his Leviathan. Clearly he and other related political thinkers have been pervading my mind.

Yup, it’s that time of the year my friends. And nope, I’m not talking about holidays. I’m talking about the dreaded time that comes right before then…exam season. Dun, dun, dun! The past week has been absolute madness and this week will be even worse with two papers and three finals to write. So right now, I’ve been in my own little bubble dealing with matters of sovereignty, NGOs, IOs, MNCs, inequality, globalization, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, Veblen, Nietzsche, Weber, ICTs, dadadada the list never seems to end. I’ve been living in cafes all week and I’ve seriously considered moving into one and living there for the time being. It’s been brutal, I tell you. So brutal that in the past week I’ve had to line up to get into a library. A library. That’s when you know you’ve reached the peak of your cool. And I know that this struggle of mine is a plight shared by many others. Makes me question whether Hobbes was actually talking more about studentkind than all of mankind when he said that life was solitary, poor (oh so very, very poor!), nasty, brutish, and (thankfully!) short.

So for all of my fellow students out there finding themselves sleep-deprived, overly-caffeinated, and losing your mind, I feel your pain. Just gotta keep on keepin’ on and I’ll see you all on the flip side!

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#Tweetsgiving: Social Media for Social Good

25 11 2009

Last week my fellow blogUT writer, Julia, wrote a great piece dispelling the alleged evils of social media. This week, I’m continuing that thought.

As Julia mentioned, social media has given us all the opportunity to keep in touch with our friends, reconnect with lost ones, and even share relevant (and well, sometimes not so relevant) information with each other with a simple 140 character tweet. More than anything else, Twitter and other social media tools lets us “learn about and interact with the world in real time, and in a way we never imagined”.

I’d like to take this one step further. Not only has social media given us this chance to connect with each other on a one-on-one basis, but it has also opened the way for a much more far-reaching and collective purpose. Case in point? Tweetsgiving. Never heard of it? Let me give you the low down.

Read more on blogUT.





20 jahre mauerfall

9 11 2009

As the world celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, that momentous event in history that spurred the collapse of communism and the demise of the Cold War, I can’t help but reminisce on the few days that I spent in Berlin during this summer. I’ve been staring at my photos all day…

Walking around the Brandenburg Gate, the East Side Gallery, or Checkpoint Charlie, I remember trying to imagine what it must have felt like to live during those times. Picturing this massive wall just running all throughout the city…it was surreal and as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t fathom it.

A couple of my friends and I took a trip down to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and we spent half the day just reading all these clippings and staring at these old artifacts and photos depicting the times and how people tried so hard to escape. I’ll never forget this one plan where a West German man attached two or three suitcases together in which his East German girlfriend would hide as he tried to smuggle her across the border. I remember standing there thinking, “are you for real?!”…to think that someone would even have to think of something like thatĀ  is just beyond me.

Then there was the time we were walking on the East German side of the Brandenburg Gate and there was this little area.. I forget what it’s called now, but it was a little kind of memorial for the many people who tried to cross the borders but failed. A bunch of white crosses lined up one after another with the names of so many ill-fated young East Germans.

At the East Side Gallery, Sylwia (who you see below) and I walked the 1.3 km strip of the remaining wall staring at the artwork of the many artists who painted it after it had fallen. So many symbols of peace and hope and change. So much color and life and optimism…I couldn’t help but think, “how many people died here?..at this very spot where a rosy painting of the world lies? Who was shot here? What guard stood in the way of his fellow man?”. I remember being overtaken by this overwhelmingĀ  feeling of disbelief that I was standing in front of the Iron Curtain…unable to fully know or even understand what went on during that time but still incredibly moved by it all…

I was born in October 1989, a month before the fall. I grew up in Canada for the majority of my life, the True North strong and free. I’ve never known communism or division or oppression. I’ve never had to go through the struggles and sufferings of that day. I’ve never known fear…never had so great a longing to escape something or somewhere. And so I look at these photos of the people who have lived through it all and I listen to their stories, and I’m just filled with so much awe and I am simply moved by all that they have endured…

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

Berlin Wall's East Side Gallery

Berlin Wall's East Side Gallery