Thursday, September 27, 2007


It is easy to lose track of friends as life goes on. I'd like to thank Sarah for having the great idea to start a blogging pool, so that we can keep track of each other. Like Heather, I am in my second year of my M.A. This means I am writing my thesis currently. In my thesis I am examining the relationship between income inequality and health in Chile, within the context of neoliberal reforms. I am sure that does not sound terribly exciting to most people. Sadly no, I am not visiting Chile as part of my thesis (unless I find some additional funding in the near future). My thesis only requires the use of a dataset from Chile.

Things are really busy right now. This semester I am both an RA and a TA, in addition to the thesis work and the advanced stats course Heather and I are auditing. Even though we are really busy we are able to find time to eat at excellent restaurants, go to film festivals and hang out with friends. I am really enjoying living in Vancouver and learning about living in Canada. As similar as it seems to the U.S. there are many funny little idiosyncrasies that seperate them. It has made me appreciate and resent things about the U.S. at the same time. It has also made me interested in living in other countries at some point.

Yesterday I walked into one of the two classes I TA for. I head up to the front and greeted the professor(who also happens to be my senior supervisor Dr. Fernando De Maio). We chatted for a bit and I headed over to my seat. As I was walking over I pulled off my sweater and heard a little chuckle from the front of the room. I looked back and didn't see anyone in particular. Later Fernando and I handed out a course review and went to grab a quick coffee while the students filled it out. As we head down the stairwell Fernando turns to me and says "Did you notice we are wearing the same t-shirt." Looking at the collar of his shirt protruding from his sweater I see that we are both wearing a purplish-merlot colored shirt. Fernando and I also have two pairs of pants that are identical, luckily I did not end up wearing those pants today, as he did. When I informed him of this he was shocked. I said "Well I am your TA, RA and graduate student, it was just a matter of time till I turned into a mini-Fernando."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Right Side of History

After weeks of positive social action in Myanmar, the military regime has done what many of us expected all along, turned to violence. Monks and their supporters have been marching in solidarity and called for reforms to the country. At a time like this, countries that support democracy need to heed the call to action that these marches represent. These monks have led similar marches in the past and have faced violent crackdowns. Still they march in defiance. The military dictatorship has committed crimes against humanity and even, it has been argued, genocide against some of the ethnic minorities that live in rural areas of the country. The time has come to act. We must move beyond sanctions and simple monetary action. Such petty and deplorable regimes must face a more constant pressure from both regional actors and the international community. This pressure should not include violence, unless it is decided upon in a multilateral way, and in the protection of those who are marching for democracy, or those who continue to face starvation and forced relocation throughout the country. Toppling a military regime with violence only opens a power vacuum that is often filled with another violent regime. In 2001 a U.N. commission published "The Right of Intervention" a document that made the argument that the right to intervene in the affairs of a country must be taken into account when its actions against its own people constitute genocide or other deplorable conditions imposed in a consistent and measured way. The U.S. has failed the test of history many times in the past, it is time we place our actions in line with our rhetoric and not in line with the interests of multi-national corporations.