Archives For Contemporary Issues

Picture: Michele Asselin for The New York TimesThe New York Times recently published an article following two men who are using social media and telecommunication technology to change the way diplomacy is done. The article tracks the lives and ideas of Alex Ross and Jared Cohen, both of which are State Department employees. Here’s an excerpt of some of their developments:

It is fair to say that Ross and Cohen are obsessed with mobile phones; they speak at length about telemedicine, tele-education and something called telejustice (the details of which they haven’t quite worked out yet). At an early-morning meeting in Palo Alto with mobile-banking experts, they looked for ways to expand a successful pilot program used to pay policemen via mobile phones in Afghanistan to another conflict zone in Congo. In both cases, as truckloads or planeloads of cash meant to pay policemen dwindled on their way from the capital cities to the provinces, so did the chances for lawful governance. Mobile banking is well established in places like Kenya, and cellphones are ubiquitous worldwide, even in poorly developed regions. Here was a way to use technology to address diplomacy, development and security concerns at once: direct payments to officers’ phones, which would be transferable to the phones of their distant families, could become a powerful tool for stability, even in Congo. Or at least that was the hope.

Read the full article here.

Gina Dalfonzo pieced together a revealing fable tracking the life of what she calls, “The Good Christian Girl:”

Once there was a good Christian girl who dreamed of growing up, getting married, and having children. She read all the right books and did all the right things. She read about how she was a princess in God’s sight and how he wanted the very best for her. She committed herself to sexual purity, to high standards, and to waiting for the good Christian man that God was going to bring her…

Continue reading here.

Whether you consider yourself part of the Young, Restless, and Reformed, or not, this clip is worth a listen:


David Brooks, Op-Ed for the New York Times, recently wrote on the effectiveness of mediums for student learning – namely the internet vs. books. Brooks dinstinguishes the two,

The great essayist Joseph Epstein once distinguished between being well informed, being hip and being cultivated. The Internet helps you become well informed — knowledgeable about current events, the latest controversies and important trends. The Internet also helps you become hip — to learn about what’s going on, as Epstein writes, “in those lively waters outside the boring mainstream.”

But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting importance. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer’s world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher.

Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.

Read the full article here.