More Kaplan

By Bryan • military • 13 Dec 2006

Crappy entries, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything. I’m on page 15 of a rapidly growing (but probably poorly written and organized) note on my time in Tibet. I’ve also picked up a second teaching gig and I’ve been spending a bit more time on my Mando (but not the past week given my friend, who has equal English skills has been out of town). In addition, I’ve pimped out my little old notebook with an 80GB mobile HD, a webcam and more RAM….not that you really care about that. Don’t begin to watch the new Battlestar Galactica, or you probably won’t be able to stop…I made the mistake of purchasing seasons one and two…and finished them off in three days….memories of the Sopranos box sets that graced the cluster apartment back in 2004.

On the downside, Vietnam is out, as is any traveling this winter due to confusion regarding Spring Festival holidays. I was initially under the impression the school would be closing for several weeks during the massive internal migration that is Chinese New Year, yet I assumed wrong. Currently, I will be given 5 days off which coincide with the mandatory 3 day holiday. An essentially useless amount of time. I’ve considered maybe hopping to Korea, or Japan, but the prices, especially Japan are quite scary. Furthermore, my ideal trip to Japan would include a Mt. Fuji expedition, which could prove difficult during the winter. Serious bummer .

I’ve been reading a lot of Robert Kaplan lately, well, about as much as I can get for free at least. I’ve always like Kaplan since I read his pivotal Coming Anarchy piece a few years ago, but recently I think he’s become my favorite essayist (I’m going to splurge and purchase a Atlantic subscription…maybe a Walrus subscription too). I like the guy for a number of reasons. He’s well traveled, well embedded, he thinks years ahead of everyone else, he’s rational and a realist and he’s critical. But I think what separates Kaplan from others his ability to write in a very neutral, non partisan fashion. His ability to lay out, analyze and critique trends without devolving into political bashing and childish and honestly really, really pointless anti-Americanism, which I find characterizes a lot of international commentary recently. He has a gift for thinking large, thinking beyond Iraq (which he claims to be a merely a blip…I’m beginning to agree), thinking beyond the Middle East. For some examples, take the time to read a recent piece on North Korea and the global implications and likely power shifts of a regime collapse. I think it’s amazing stuff, and yet another example of how the 21st century will truly become the Asian century…while the Western world (on many levels) remains trapped in the 20th.

I feeling rather sorry for the Starbucks workers who are now (In the Christmas spirit) being forced to parade around wearing a set of ridiculous angel wings.

Today is the 69th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre.

Tags: , ,

3 Responses

  1. Fraser

    Excellent article. I agree with your criteria for a good writer, I also like writing that provides constructive solutions or conclusions to its topic. However, although Kaplan himself may write in a neutral fashion, I feel that the while the Atlantic has some excellent articles, in general it is skewed too far to the left. I personally like The Economist, which does a good job of covering all different world regions, (Time & Newsweek have been reduced to 1 or 2 shallow articles about an American topic “du jour” and you’re lucky to find more than 2-3 other countries referenced throughout) while offering a coherent position on most topics. I’m not too familiar with The Walrus, having never seen it in print. Another (sometimes) excellent magazine is The New Yorker. I believe that weekly (or monthly) news magazines far surpass daily newspapers, both for their insight and quality of information. In fact, I never read newspapers anymore, preferring CNN.com, CBC.ca, Yahoo News, and BBC.com for reading headlines and keeping up to date, and magazines like The Economist for more in depth analysis. TV news is my least favourite.

  2. Sue Crosby

    Happy Birthday Bryan! A quarter of a century – gone already. Have a good one on the 14th!

  3. Thanks.

    I went to purchase a subscription to the Atlantic, but their international online subscription service doesn’t allow for the input of large addresses (very odd, as one would assume international addresses would be large).

    Still waiting for a reply to my email inquiry.

    I haven’t read the New Yorker in ages, but I used to browse through it back at UVic and I liked it as well. I agree with the breakfast news, its pretty much just for headlines. The Economist is also excellent, and TimeAsia occasionally has an interesting piece. They ran something good about the little covered war over a glacier in the Kashmir. Excellent photos and writing.

    The Walrus isn’t bad for being pretty much the only Canadian political current affairs magazine I’ve found. I don’t think it’s as good as it’s American counterparts, but it seems to do a decent job covering what was before essentially an empty place on Canadian news stands.