Author Archives: Charles Lai

Update

Wow, it’s hard to combine school and two blogs/websites at the same time. But with the second semester of my final year of high school approaching, I guess it’s time to step back into the world of blogging.

 

Anyway, to start off this new cycle of posting, I’ll be resolutely posting to this blog every other other day and my debate website on the off days. But to start things off, I’d like to show the world this gem from “The Economist” – Political Capital – the board game.

 

http://www.economist.com/node/179854

 

I’m going to have a lot of fun with this one.

SOPA – Stopping Online Productivity Act?

We all can concede that piracy on the internet is definitely a major problem. We can also concede that the internet has been a source of headaches for major record and movie companies due to this piracy. At least as much as I can tell by the massive lobbying effort put on by these industries (slow applause by the way). However, the bill has been worded in a way that is conducive to the complete censorship of the internet as well as stopping innovation in an entire industry – proven by raunch opposition by internet giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Mozilla, and countless other companies. Multiple internet communities like Reddit are staging forms of collective boycott – working against certain senators and, of course, the infamous “Go Daddy Boycott.” All the notions of “freedom” and “free flow of information in a democracy” – in a sense – will all be for naught in a vision of a world justified by SOPA.

Whats Going On?

Essentially, a bill (dis)affectionally known as SOPA is passing with large amounts of support in both the house and senate. However, certain clauses within the bill is specifically worded in a way that gives the government the ability to take over domains and websites that is suspected of spreading copyrighted files and data. However, with the boom of the internet and the massive quantity of user-based content, monitoring copyrighted links and piracy on the internet  virtually impossible. A link to a copyrighted file on an internet forum is grounds for confiscation of that forum. And we can see how this can completely cut off the innovation produced by these web companies the industry as a whole Рuser-based content, information sharing, data collection, communication, and a wide variety of functions that we take for granted on the internet Рis in the air.

Moreover, the architecture on how the internet is based on is can be compromised by SOPA. “Father of the Internet” – Vinton Cerf – one of the first engineers to work on the internet as well as determine the current paradigm of development explains:¬†

Thus, even with the proposed manager’s amendment, SOPA’s site-blocking provisions remain problematic. They would undermine the architecture of the Internet and obstruct the 15 year effort by the public and private sectors to improve cybersecurity through implementation of DNSSEC, a critical set of extensions designed to address security vulnerabilities in the DNS.

This collateral damage of SOPA would be particularly regrettable because site blocking or redirection mechanisms are unlikely to make a significant dent in the availability of infringing material and counterfeits online, given that DNS manipulation can be defeated by simply choosing an offshore DNS resolution provider, maintaining one’s own local DNS cache or using direct IP address references.

But how badly worded, structured, written, and authored is this bill and the potential effects of this bill in reality? Is it all just hype or not?

Now What?

Personally, I don’t know. Maybe SOPA can be one of the worst bills ever written. Or perhaps nothing will happen as a result of the bill due to it being too weak. However one thing is for sure. When calculating and considering the ages of persons elected to congressional office, we realize this:

 

Your parents are currently determining the future of the internet. Yeah. Think about that for a moment.

 

Grab the pitchforks.

 

Congress to Appropriate Funds from Space Exploration to Dollar Bill Tanks and Coin Bullets

Artist Rendering

 

Washington 5:45 A.M.¬† – Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have overwhelmingly voted to use funds from the recently cut program, NASA, into what they say is a more salient use of funds. “This is going to be freaking fantastic,” quoted Sen. Kyl. “I’m literally crapping my pants at the idea of this.” Although specific details of the bill have not been made public because of concerns that it would be “too mind-blowingly awesome for such a simple-minded public,” rumors have it that it would take money normally funded into programs to explore space, colonize new planets, and meet extraterrestrial life, and build about ten, five million dollar tanks. Other provisions of the bill include making artillery shells out of melted down gold and quarters and making bullets out of pennies.

 

“It’s about time!” local resident Samuel Topp gushed, “I hated having that science goop shoved down my throat.” Although the bill seems popular among lawmakers and the public alike, there was a little bit of doubt to the use of money that the plan outlined. When asked how the new bill was drafted, Sen. Baucus noted that he was skeptical at first.

 

“I thought that this would just be another boring commercial contract,” noted Baucus. “But then I thought, ‘Why don’t we literally make the tanks out of five million dollar bills?’ So I amended that part. Now we could spread liberalism and humanism across those … desert … stan countries or whatever. And what better way to start than to take the money that is being used to further our understanding of the Universe? I mean who needs that when you have something this freaking spectacular.”

036 – Pakistan: “Get out of our bases!”

Uh-oh

So it would seem that Pakistan has finally called for the CIA to vacate the Shamsi Air Base where classified drone strikes were being carried out. The decision has come out since a NATO strike had killed around 25 Pakistani soldiers with an additional supply chain cut off of NAT supplies from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Yet this doesn’t come at a surprise considering the increasing amount of accidents, tensions over the “Osama Operation”, as well as Pakistani public pressure and opinion. However, the CIA/USFG have made it clear that counter-terrorism operations would continue and it doesn’t seem to be letting up on its drone war.

 

Predator drone accidents and other problems are affecting relations with Pakistan.

Yet, this still brings us to a more salient question. Does the United States still want to cooperate with Afghanistan? Would just getting things done without Pakistan ever be a good idea? What would happen?

 

What’s Happening?

In short, it seems like the United States military would do well with maintaining relations with Pakistan. Supplies as well as coordinated operations with the Pakistanis is essential to bringing out any sort of benefit to transitioning from a softer counter-insurgency operational tactic to a hard-liner counter-terrorism operation. However, this remains difficult. Politically, accidents and distrust seems to permeate any sort of relations that the US still has with the Pakistani country. Even with a good, relationship with Pakistan, there is always a fear of the darker, secretive side of what is going on behind proverbially closed windows. But a deeper seated characteristic of Pakistan that has the largest detrimental barrier to any sort of trustful relationship , is the cultural and public perception that the Pakistani people have with the United States. They do not see the US a partner that is cooperating with Pakistan, but rather as an invader of sorts – especially when the drone accidents get sensationalized. All the public sees is how the US has messed up in some way and there is a definite notion of a malevolent, western, imperialistic power in the country.

 

Whether or not the US is able to move past the current issues when dealing with peaceful relations with Pakistan would have to come at a later date. In the meantime, it would probably benefit the United States if they were to lay low, lower accident rates, and try to, at least, keep up diplomatic dialogue with the country. However, it seems increasingly difficult to do so with the amount of distrust that has built up since the Osama mission.

035 – China Rise: Good or Bad?

Intro

Today, many people in the United States look upon China with a growing a growing super power that is probably competing economically with the United States. Many scholars that harp on realpolitik and offensive realism like Mearshimer or Kagan would probably think that a Chinese rise in the asia-pacific region would probably spell doom for any American regional hegemony in the area along with a probable loss of forward deployed military presence on Okinawa, Japan, and South Korea. The “evil” Chinese – as the cx debate community would jokingly call them – would probably overtake the US in terms of military power one day.

All of the above are probably scenarios that many cant fathom as being “okay” for international affairs. An usurpation of status quo power? Unheard of!

But what if we look deep into the implications for a China rise? Would it be malevolent? Benign? Total hegemony or just increased influence? What would it mean for the status of American power? Will it decline? Or is the United States here to stay? Maybe it would be beneficial for everyone’s interests if the China gained power?

Let’s explore the possibilities.

Some Background Informatics

China is a country with a large variety of cultural backgrounds as well as political thought. Although some may think of the current policies of the Chinese Communist Party as representative of China as a whole, I think it may be just a good refresher to take a quick social and anthropological lesson regarding China itself. At least history right after the rise in the CCP.

Contrary to what most people believe, the population in China feel fairly satisfied with the government. Many actually believe that the events during Tian an men square were not justified during a time of “economic and political” instability. Moreover, although it seems that many in China do like the government, it seems strange that many also recognize the power that the government holds over the population. This, I feel is an important concept to grasp: the people willingly accept the power of the government – there is a strange sense of satisfaction in the majority of the population.

Moreover, culturally and socially, the people of China are extremely proud. Last names are a symbol throughout families and there is a goal of honoring the family name: this can be visibly seen as there is a focus on having male children (heirs) and the refusal of many married couples of having shared last names. Maiden names seem permanent.

Finally, a third thing that should be recognized is that China finds previously conquered or controlled land to be permanently theirs. With the experience of colonization by the British as well as invasion by the Japanese, it seems as if the Chinese have a certain complex against losing any sort of power or footholds of control. The Boxer Rebellion as well as the refusal to accept Taiwan as a sovereign nation and the belief of some that even Okinawa belongs to Chinese influence complicates as well as explain certain international behaviors of the state.

With these three things in mind, let’s begin.

Chinese Rise

China is currently gaining in power in a region currently dominated by Japan and South Korea (under the umbrella of US military power.) With economic force as well as shows of military power in during the 2007 ASAT test as well as other dogmatic behavior in response to US requests. What does it mean? Keeping in mind the “colonization complex” we can postulate that the Chinese probably don’t like US power and forward military presence in the region on Japan or South Korea. This makes sense; however, the United States also probably don’t want foreign aircraft carriers just a few thousand miles from the coast.

But China isnt as satisfied with US control as South Korea or Japan. China wants a little bit of regional hegemony. With a long history, a proud population, as well as a history of being controlled by western influence, it obviously wants its own shot at the world stage. And a bit of control of the region like current US control of North America with NAFTA and influence would be proof of a “powerful” China.

Some say that China would rather keep the US in the region. That they fear a rise of Japanese or South Korea. Although this may seem like a probably theory, empirics as well as a peer into the psychology of the nation and population seem to disprove this. China has obviously shown multiple shows of power to the United States: following with an active space program, ASATS, and aircraft carriers itself pretty much show that the feel that the US should get out of their backyard. And bitter resentment of western influence in their history is probably more telling than the Japanese invasion. I think it’s pretty obvious that the country wants regional power and want the US out. The real question is thus: Would they be malevolent?

My guess

I think that they wouldn’t be malevolent. With a move toward the capitalist impulse and little less control on the actions of the populace with regards with the economic system, I think that the Chinese are more interested in fame, glory, and power in the context of making history and spreading the language than destroying nations or colonization. Given that current Chinese actions are fairly militarily showing, these malevolent actions are not for the sake of being malevolent, but rather a challenge to the US: we can match you too.

Thus, if the Chinese were to gain hegemony or at least regional hegemony, they would not be controlling, but rather similar to how the US behaves now. This is probably a bad assumption, but I think that I can conclude that this would be true. A Chinese rise would not be the end if the world; it would be a fairly non aggressive rise.

However, how would the US respond?

The Western Hemisphere

What happens after China rises to power and how the US would respond is a lot more complicated. I think there are two possibilities: a shift to a multipolar balance of power between China and the United States as forward military presence declines. Or the US latches onto hegemonic power and a very similar conflict will probably erupt between the United States and the Chinese. And I think the latter is probably a better possibility.

If China were to rise, the US would probably accommodate their new power. However, the US will refuse to leave Asia. Keeping allied credibility, relationships, and deterrence with SoKo and Japan would be extremely important to maintain. The United States would not just leave the region up to the Chinese with no guarantees. Even if China’s rise would have peaceful intentions, the US nor any other country in Asia would believe that. The US would probably dig in for as long as possible and voila we have another Cold War. But it’s doubtful who would win this time: an overextended America or an ambitious China.

Conclusion

It is difficult to depict the outcome. Although I believe that a rising Cina would be fairly peaceful, the transition process will definitely be heated and probably make any sort of peaceful intention turn south. In this sense, the United States should open up with more diplomatic efforts with China, including them with consultation in foreign policy. In the mean time, the US should build up a dig in Japan and SoKo for the inevitable conflict in the future. The only question is if the United State can keep China satisfied.

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Budgetary Success!

In an unprecedented, bipartisan move on Capital Hill this Saturday, Congress reached across the aisles and appropriated 90% of federal government spending to the Department of Defense for the war effort. “It’s a big success,” said Sen. Jon Kyl in elation, “we were finally able to agree on something. Hopefully we can move this country towards a brighter future: one with glow-in-the-dark skin and cluster bomb fireworks!.” The Demo-Rep Freedom bill would give the military about 20 trillion USD. The Department of Defense is to divert the funds into sub-agencies and towards any sort of research efforts it chooses such as “Uncle-Sam-Painted Cluster bomb shells” and “Freedom and Liberty bullet casings.”

 

“Finally we can stop putting up with this education and ‘NASA’ doo-hickies. Their ‘science’ and contact with ‘advanced civilizations’ crap were really tiring me,” stated Secretary of Defense Panetta. “We should be putting where it really matters: terrorist-seeking nuclear grenade launchers. That’d be so sweet.”

034 – Update

I think that this China post will be pretty interesting. If it gets finished ahahaha! Anyways, the research is taking a while so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you at all want to keep up with the Memorial Debate team and learn a little about high school debate one the way, go ahead and visit my other site at http://www.memorialdebate.com. It’ll be worth your time. I promise.

 

:)

 

c

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