Sunday, September 20, 2009

Random, Yet Brief Thoughts on The Post-American World

After a draining weekend, in an effort to stick to my biweekly publishing schedule, I am drawing on every ounce of energy I have this evening to produce content on this time around. With reflection upon a book I just finished, The Post-American World, I persevere, posting a random, yet brief entry.

I picked up The New York Times Bestseller from, of all places, the Houston Public Library. In this age of e-books, who goes to the library anymore? You know, it is surprising how active with people the library actually is.

My dad, to name a familiar person, frequents the library. So does my granddad, although he does not visit the main branch as my dad and I do. With respect to posterity, by going to the library, it occurs to me that I am simply carrying forward a family tradition.

When I check out a book, which is not with any regularity, there are always people milling around the place or standing in line to check out their selected materials. I am often amazed by how many books some of these people take with them on a single visit... stacks, dozens, all of them for a standard two-week check-out period.

Anyway, enough of the downtown library scene, and back to the topic du jour.

The ever-expanding influences of India and China are affirmed in The Post-American World. Plenty of supporting insight and research is offered on how those two countries are rising in every major respect (culturally, economically, militarily, etc.) to match the historically mighty United States.

Fareed Zakaria, the book’s author and Editor of Newsweek International, hails from India, having arrived to the States as an 18-year-old, so his close vantage point on that climbing nation is fresh and worthy of inclusion. The surging importance of China is obvious--even to the uninformed--and it is easy to understand why the book would be incomplete without substantial focus on it.

Told from a post-9/11 perspective, Zakaria does not dwell on India and China alone. A few countries in the Middle East are cited, and integrating his full view on the so-called BRICs, Zakaria also includes Brazil and Russia as part of the story.

Zakaria contends that the "rise of the rest" is not necessarily obstructive to the US, stating that American innovation is part and parcel to a flourishing world economy, and will be for generations to come.

In a final note regarding the book, toward the end of it, describing the US' military presence in Africa, Zakaria makes reference to a Mark Twain quote, “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” For some odd reason, that famous utterance evokes a smile from me every time.

With a smile indeed, I close with a national shout out to my friends in Chile, who celebrated their independence from Spain on Friday and through the weekend—was the chicha worth the hangover?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fall Means Football Season

Out of respect for labor--or the lack thereof--on this holiday weekend, I revert to my original method of posting content--a less laborious approach to that which has been employed in recent posts, when more thought and time was committed.

The drill then was simple, a stream-of-conscious exercise to promptly produce blog material on a weekly basis. (It has since become biweekly.) I would sit down for an hour, writing what came to mind, and then give Emily, FMOC’s editor-in-chief, my seat to review the outcome.

(For more on the process above, you can click on one of my earliest entries: Balancing Content.)

Traditionally, Labor Day in the United States marks the symbolic end of summer, and fall supposedly arrives. It hardly feels like fall in Texas, though, as triple-digit heat is no stranger to September.

Regardless of temperature, there is major importance assigned to this seasonal change, even if unofficial. Above all, fall means that American football season is officially upon us.

My football fanship is focused on two formats: college and professional.

At the collegiate level, my heart beats with--and only with--The University of Texas, my alma mater.

On Saturday evening in Austin, the Longhorns, the second-ranked team in the country, had a positive start to the season, defeating the lowly Warhawks of The University of Louisiana at Monroe in front of 101,096 people at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium. The overwhelming victory, 59 points to 20, was expected--more or less. (The odds-makers picked the 'Horns to win by 41.)

Unexpected, however, was that our chief rivals, the Sooners of The University of Oklahoma, lost their first game to the Cougars of Brigham Young University, and worse (for them), lost their Heisman Trophy quarterback, Sam Bradford, to a shoulder injury, which will keep him off of the field for at least a few weeks.

Bradford's loss bodes well for our Longhorns, whose season, year-after-year, hangs upon their match-up with the Sooners, which is coined the Red River Rivalry and takes place in Dallas.

Over the last couple of years, professional football has become a new game to me. While my allegiance stands with the Houston Texans, my home city’s team, who kick off their season against the New York Jets next Sunday, my true fanaticism is devoted to the widespread phenomenon that is fantasy football.

In a league that is made up mostly of a group of friends, self-proclaimed “Football Geniuses,” one buddy and I share a team. We call it Graham's Team, named after his young son. Not serious, but competitive, fantasy football is one of a handful of hobbies (another being this blog) that will occupy my time outside of work this fall.

Our draft on Wednesday night was at a local Houston restaurant, Ragin Cajun. Over buckets of beer and poboys, we completed it in three hours, with each team making 16 picks. After a disappointing third-place finish last year, expectations for Graham's Team are loftier this year.

With trades and other additions and drops inevitable, our lineup could change over the next 17 weeks, but our base list of players are below:

1. Matt Forté--Running Back, Chicago
2. Steven Jackson--Running Back, Jacksonville
3. Aaron Rodgers--Quarter Back, Green Bay
4. Roddy White--Wide Receiver, Atlanta
5. Willie Parker--Running Back, Pittsburg
6. Antonio Gates--Tight End, San Diego
7. Jamal Lewis--Running Back, Cleveland
8. Jay Cutler--Quarter Back, Chicago
9. Bernard Berrian--Wide Receiver, Minnesota
10. Antonio Bryant--Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay
11. Eagles--Defense and Special Teams, Philadelphia
12. Laveranues Coles--Wide Receiver, Cincinnati
13. David Akers--Kicker, Philadelphia
14. Redskins--Defense and Special Teams, Washington
15. Bo Scaife--Tight End, Tennessee
16. Shayne Graham - Kicker, Cincinnati

As this fall is upon us, I have high hopes for exciting football. My eyes are on a Citi BCS National Championship for the Texas Longhorns and fantasy bragging rights and cash winnings for Graham's Team.

As the season unfolds, I will report back as to how both teams stand.