Monday, February 28, 2011

Day of Rage

Day of Rage. This term has surfaced several times in the news over the past month due to protests in the Middle East and North Africa. A day of rage refers to the climactic day of a protest. These heightened protests in the Middle East and North Africa have involved violence and even military intervention. But what does this phrasing "day of rage" accomplish?

Merriam Webster defines rage as a violent and uncontrollable anger, a fit of violent wrath, insanity, and passion. Protests have become chaotic and by naming these outbursts as "days of rage," journalists almost give protesters the right to run wild. The uncontrollable aspect of rage seems to imply danger to participants involved in protests. While passion would be a safer word choice, rage gives the cause urgency and magnitude. Passion could be applied to positive and negative events. Rage takes a strong position towards unrest and unhappiness. Not all protests have to be violent, but to get any point across rage is a more effective tool.

Rage is also a good word to associate with protests because of the way it sounds/flows. Phonetic intensives, or sounds that connect and add to a words meaning, can be applied to the word rage. The R sound is refered to as "liquid" and "euphonious" while the harsher G at the end of the word implies cacophony. Cacophony is definitely characteristic of protests, but the R is also important to make the word catchy/roll of the tongue. This might be a stretch, but even the shift from smooth to fragmented exemplifies the process of protesting: you start calm and get more motivated.

Now to tackle the day part. Day might seem only explanatory, especially since weeks of rage have even been proclaimed, but the brevity of the period of time is important to note. A day implies a short lived protest where people can be lawless and free to oppose the government. I emphasize the word short. A day of protest is a time when angry citizens can vent, but it is imperative that violence is promptly ended so that more time can be focused on reshaping governments etc instead of calming down enraged crowds.

In my opinion, violence won't create any solutions for corrupt governments, but at least protesters are getting their opinions heard and changes are starting to be made. In countries where the average person's voice can't be heard by local government officials, days of rage may be the only option to call attention to shared concerns.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Approaching Hamlet

We just began reading William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in my English class. It’s been over a year since I last read Shakespeare and the language seems kinda foreign. I find that because I spend so much time figuring out what the text means, I’m missing out on metaphors and symbolism etc. Is it ever possible for the “casual/inexperienced reader” to understand all the nuances of Hamlet? Probably not, but I’m hoping that my English class enlightens me a bit on the subject.

Similar problems are bound to arise in literature translated from other languages. Editors can translate word for word even if the final product seems less poetic than the original, or editors can create the same mood of a piece while altering the original words. Altering words or meaning could conflict with the author’s intentions.

Readers of translated texts might have no idea they’re missing out on interesting sentence structure or a cultural allusion. That seems like a pretty dangerous risk for readers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson has some words of wisdom on language, especially language over the ages. In his famous essay Nature, Emerson says, “As we go back in history, language becomes more picturesque, until its infancy, when it is all poetry; or all spiritual facts are represented by natural symbols.” I took this quote to mean that when languages first emerge, they seem foreign, new, exciting, and poetic. Looking back at languages, they can seem just as foreign (like my experience with Shakespeare).

As for “language becomes more picturesque,” either language today has become more dry/boring and therefore less picturesque or today there is an urge to say that all language from the past is precious and poetic. Not all historic literature is as great as we make it out to be. Take the bad quarto for instance; it’s basically a bad copy of Hamlet that is one of the original few transcriptions of the play. Should readers always give such high esteem to historic literature?

The glimmer of hope from Emerson’s quote: natural symbols. I think the threads that ties history to the future are symbols and archetypes. Their meanings are timeless and are subconsciously embedded into our brains. Hopefully, while reading Hamlet I can draw upon these natural symbols to more easily connect my experiences to the text.

This post is just my intro to a potentially long list of Hamlet posts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Model United Nations: Cyberlaw

This past weekend I attended the Model United Nations Program hosted by the University of Chicago. I spent many loooong hours as a delegate of Venezuela in the Legal Committee. The Legal Committee’s goal was to form a consensus on cyberlaw (the alternate topic which we did not discuss was nongovernmental organizations or NGO’s). As a representative of Venezuela, I tried to stay true to the country’s policies, even when they conflicted with the majority’s perspective or my own views. Overall, it was a learning experience in cooperation and persuasion.

Here are a few words and phrases that were central to our discussions and play key roles in the topic of cyberlaw.

Cyberwarfare-Actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation's computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption. What is a way to defend against a cyber war or a cyber-attack? Cyber Army! Estonia is the first country to have a volunteer cyber army. This NPR article describes Estonia’s Cyber Army as a force of programmers, computer scientists and software engineers who make up a Cyber Defense League, a volunteer organization that in wartime would function under a unified military command.

Jurisdiction-The geographic area over which authority extends; legal authority; the authority to hear and determine causes of action. This was probably one of the most controversial words in my committee. First of all, many delegates failed to use this word correctly. Secondly, cyberlaw is an issue that extends across several countries (or maybe over no actual land at all if you think about it). One possible solution to the question of jurisdiction is to declare cyberspace as a new global space or Common Heritage of Mankind. As a committee, we didn’t utilize this form of jurisdiction very often. Instead, most countries (including me and my partner as Venezuela) argued for national sovereignty. It became a very touchy subject. Even Wikipedia says that a cyber crime may involve the laws of several jurisdictions such as
1. the laws of the state/nation in which the user resides,
2. the laws of the state/nation that apply where the server hosting the transaction is located, and
3. the laws of the state/nation which apply to the person or business with whom the transaction takes place.

Net Neutrality- The principle that ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) should treat all content equally, regardless of content type or origin, instead of prioritizing some content. ISP’s drive internet traffic to websites and the issues lies in the fact that ISP’s direct internet users to certain websites more often based on payments.

The internet has become so vital in the world today; we even debated whether or not access to the internet is a human right! By reading this blog post you've even proved the widespread influence and importance of the internet today. A consensus on cyberlaw is, in my opinion, an important topic for the actual UN to address.