SOCIAL VOX

My thoughts on the world around me

The “Best Job in the World”

According to Yahoo! News, Australia is making the world a very sweet offer: get paid a 6-figure ($105K) salary to live on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef for six months. What are you expected to do in exchange for such a generous deal?

In return, the “island caretaker” will be expected to stroll the white sands, snorkel the reef, take care of “a few minor tasks” — and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates.

Sounds stressful. Any other requirements?

The successful applicant, who will stay rent-free in a three-bedroom beach home complete with plunge pool and golf buggy, must be a good swimmer, excellent communicator and be able to speak and write English.

“They’ll also have to talk to media from time to time about what they’re doing so they can’t be too shy and they’ll have to love the sea, the sun, the outdoors,” said acting state Premier Paul Lucas.

Open to anyone and everyone, you can apply for this opportunity here (you may have to refresh due to high traffic).

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January 13, 2009 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Obama’s Transition to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Here are some photos The Washington Post is providing of the Obama family moving into their temporary residence, the historic Hay-Adams Hotel.

As a former George Washington University Law School student, I can recall walking past the hotel on numerous occasions. Accustomed to Miami’s 90-degree weather, I greatly enjoyed the opportunities I had to bundle up and walk around the White House/Lafayette Square area. As you turn up 16th Street, NW, and you hit H Street, NW, you’ll find the elegant entrance to the hotel.

That general area, alone, reminds you that you’re at the heart of American politics and history.

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

American Progress or American Dilemma?

The theme of the day (I commented on this subject, to a certain degree, in “The Washington Post’s Ann Telnaes’ Cartoon“) appears to be that the United States, at least with respect to its interaction with foreign governments, has a tendency to impose its value system.

In Fareed Zakaria’s most recent article, he notes some of the late Samuel P. Huntington’s most important work: “the most important political distinction among countries concerns not their form of government but their degree of government.” Of Huntington’s findings, Zakaria goes on to say that “American-style progress – more political participation or faster economic growth – actually created more problems than it solved.”

From Vietnam to Afghanistan, from Iraq to Pakistan, the United States’ foreign policy has been fatally flawed. The self-proclaimed notion that the United States is a liberator, and that it is in every country’s best interest to follow its Protestant Work Ethic, is not only a fallacy, but the very reason why its foreign policy has failed to adapt over the past 50 years.

We are a secular, capitalist society. Such principles work for us. That does not mean, though, that those same ideals would function under varying political landscapes, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic structures. As Zakaria states, Huntington, on tours to Vietnam in 1967 and 1968, observed that the Vietnamese people felt “secure within effective communities structured around religious or ethnic ties.” The United States viewed such sources of authority as “backward,” and took a different route. We now know how well the military campaign in Vietnam turned out.

In two months, it will be the 7th anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq. After nearly seven long years, where do we stand? The number of recent fatalities due to suicide or car bombings are mind-numbing. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban grow stronger in the areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But fret not, Americans. Our soldiers, who are already on their fourth or fifth tour of duty, will likely be re-deployed to Afghanistan.

Are these examples of American progress or an American dilemma? Samuel P. Huntington warned us of these flaws decades ago. Empires throughout history have fallen because of such short sightedness.

Only time will tell what the United States’ legacy will be.

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Economics, Foreign Policy, Politics, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Slavery in the 21st Century

New York Times op-ed columnist, Nicholas Kristof, traveled to Cambodia to report on the sex trafficking of girls into brothels.

Reading the article, I was reminded of a feature documentary film that will be coming out — “Call + Response.”

Here’s a fact: In 2007, slave traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.

Toward the end of Mr. Kristof’s article, he notes that President-Elect Obama will have a new tool to combat traffickers: the Wilbeforce Act. Just passed by Congress, the Act strengthens sanctions on countries that allow sex slavery to take place within their borders. For details on the Wilbeforce Act, please see this detailed summary.

As Mr. Kristof’s article states, Mr. Obama, an African-American, ought to be at the forefront of this abolitionist movement toward ending all 21st century forms of slavery. In doing so, he truly would become a transformative figure, a modern day Frederick Douglas.

“Never forget, justice is what love looks like in public.” — Dr. Cornel West

January 4, 2009 Posted by | Art, Film, Law, Media, Politics, Protests, Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Josh Bernstein on The Martha Stewart Show

Josh Bernstein, host of the Discovery Channel’s “Into the Unknown,” made an appearance on The Martha Stewart Show. I had never heard of him before, but my sister suggested I look into him because it seemed like he’s been leading a fascinating life. Here’s the video from the show:

I can’t underestimate the influence a successful person can have on another. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that someone came before you and was able to reach the top of the mountain. So, when I look at the video above, and I see that Mr. Bernstein has traveled 125,000 miles in the past year, I am reminded that there truly are no limits to what man can achieve. You want to write a book? Start typing. You want to travel the world? Save up money, buy a plane ticket and toothbrush, and go.

There’s an entire world to discover out there. What I’ve learned only recently, though, is that there’s also an entire world to discover within ourselves.

With every word I write, I learn something new about myself. What I like and what I dislike. What I’m afraid to say and what I’m dying to say.

Ultimately, I extracted a valuable lesson: the world is yours to take, mold, own, and, finally, to celebrate the fact that you can do it all over again tomorrow. Mr. Bernstein, I’ll see you in Papua New Guinea.

Sis, thanks for the video.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Art, Travel, TV | , , , | 1 Comment