Oh good, another blog

Seeing as we live in a content-driven society, and many producers of such seem to measure their effectiveness by the number of clicks they receive, I thought it might be prudent to hold up the proverbial mirror so that anyone who cares to see how much of this noise has managed to filter through to an interested if not necessarily qualified observer. My primary interests center on foreign policy and international relations, and all of the associated economic and cultural thisses and thats which accompany them. So, a glance around whatever content I happen to highlight and expound on here at the deliberately stylized “a fake newspaper” ought to, then, be consumed in such a way as to provide a benchmark of what things someone with my reading interests and academic credentials is capable of digesting as a secondary activity. After all, I have a job that is entirely unrelated to this and there seems to be astonishingly little overlap between the two fields, unless there is every an international political crisis which can be solved by recommending suitable products and/or services.

WHAT ARE MY CREDENTIALS

Patience, my friend. I first want to highlight how clever I think I’m being by naming this website as I have. I have yet to figure out how to organize myself in such a way that I can identify a particular byline (I assume that I will need to register an incredibly unprofitable LLC), however now I will at least have occasion to introduce myself as Charles Allport, a blogger for a fake newspaper. Very nice.

I could link us to the academic portfolio that I was forced to create as part of my graduate studies at the University of Arizona. And, behold! I have done so. The internet allows us to do multiple things simultaneously. Please note that the University of Arizona is not the same as the University of Phoenix. We have a basketball team which regularly participates in March Madness.

From the beginning! I have a B.A. in International Relations from Michigan State University’s James Madison College. You are unlikely to encounter a student of the James Madison College who does not use the first available opportunity to pull you aside and tell you that they are/were a Madison student, but that it isn’t a big deal and you shouldn’t necessarily be intimidated by how highly educated and obviously more intellectually capable we are than quite literally everyone. Michigan State has a much better basketball team than Arizona. We also once had a football team. This is topical humor: it is 2016 and it is unclear what level of rigor was applied while selecting the Spartan roster this year.

I also have a Master’s in International Security. This is the graduate degree I discreetly (word ninja!) made reference in the above paragraphs.

WHAT SORT OF OUTSTANDING PERIODICALS ET CETERA SHOULD I EXPECT TO ENCOUNTER WHILE PERUSING YOUR OUTSTANDING WEBSITE

That I wrote the above fake question (a fake newspaper: this is a method of communication which I am unlikely to forfeit any time soon) using a Chromebook demonstrates my dedication to delivering a pleasing experience to my vast legions of readers. This computer does not have a caps lock key, and I was required to hold a button down and type for too long. I’m too good to you.

I recently saw a Facebook post by an old classmate who criticized the recent endorsement given to Hillary Clinton by the media conglomerate MLIVE – an organization which does it’s best to imitate a respectable news source. And to a certain point, it does. It is a very useful tool if one is interested in which bar is best to watch the Cubs win the World Series (an act which is in progress), or which traffic is roading or not and when why local. But we are here because international news is the shit, and we aren’t concerned with the affairs of peasants. These are lofty topics, worthy of great consideration and (as I hope will prove to be the case) six years of higher education. And now you have the opportunity to benefit from my lifetime (yes) of careful study. HERE ARE THE PERIODICALS TO WHICH I SUBSCRIBE FOR MONEY:

  • Foreign Affairs
  • Foreign Policy
  • The Economist (renewed today, after my 12th unanswered call from a number in Sheffield, Eng-land which I assume was The Economist’s billing department. I certainly gave them my credit card information. That is, the 11 preceding were unanswered, I answered this 12th one. This is not an important detail, and I’ll thank you to stay on topic.)
  • The New Republic
  • The Atlantic
  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Post

I have a few websites that I enjoy too for which I am required to proffer no fee in exchange – a transaction which is implied by the definition of “proffer.” Featured most prominently among these is al-Monitor. My goal is to free myself from the constraints of the so-called Mainstream Media, an ominous spectre which seems to be feared by all and understood by few. Indeed, my goal is to be surrounded at all times by authoritative and insightful voices who are less driven by the incessant need to deliver content to rubes and more so with fulfilling the timeless goal of offering a direct and considerate appraisal of Things of Import.

I regularly listen to NPR and the BBC World Service, and am a subscriber to the following topical podcasts:

  • The Lawfare Podcast (which I have yet to listen to, but I used to read their blog on the regular, and it has been cited recently in another podcast which I adore, so my interest in their program was revitalized)
  • Kate Couric
  • CSIS – On Violent Extremism
  • Foreign Affairs – Unedited
  • CSIS – CogitAsia
  • The Carnegie Endowment lecture series
  • CBS – Face the Nation
  • NPR – The Diane Rehm Show
  • The Brookings lecture series
  • CNN – Fareed Zakaria GPS
  • Foreign Policy – The Editor’s Roundtable
  • CSIS – The CSIS Podcast
  • The Economist – The week ahead
  • Financial Times – World Weekly
  • Council on Foreign Relations – The World Next Week
  • Brookings – The Brookings Cafeteria

I have yet to find the opportunity to include al-Jazeera in my regular reading, but, boy oh boy, I’d sure like to. I should point out that I miss episodes of the above here and there, some more than others – especially Brookings and the Carnegie Endowment (those shits are like, 2 hours long). But that’s the whole point: if one isn’t a professional academic or journalist, it can often be difficult to find time to consume an adequate composition of current events and historical analysis. So, we do the best we can.

This “fake” newspaper therefore serves three purposes:

  1. Individuals who have either less time or interest than I can read along as I wade through the meager selection of sources I have highlighted. It would be foolish not to take advantage of my intellectual curiosity, if that’s the sort of thing that you value but lack the resources or time (a sort of resource) to pursue it independently.
  2. News organizations or political actors who are curious about how effectively their messaging/social media presence/overall understanding of events is coming across. How they would become aware of this blog in the first place? That is not my present concern.
  3. What I am interested in is providing myself with an arena where I can flex academically. My graduate studies concluded in May, and I have yet to make any sort of real decision about how and when to continue on to a PhD. Therefore, I heretofore lacked an appropriate avenue to indulge myself and maintain a dialogue with the topics.

What is the ultimate goal? I have a bunch of articles that I had set aside to write posts about from a few months ago before Foreign Policy stopped offering their daily Mideast Daily Brief. Some of them may still be relevant, in which case I will migrate the articles over here and offer some sort of commentary and analysis so that I can place them within a larger narrative. After an appropriate interval, I will open up this forum to collaborators – I have a select cohort in mind with whom I maintain a regular conversation on Issues which I would like to involve in this project. I invite cooperation and tension into the process, because that is how the national dialogue works. Perhaps we will offer positions which are quickly and deservedly torn apart by our colleagues, and that’s ok. That’s how you learn that that idea was a bad one and that it doesn’t warrant being repeated elsewhere.

This is how we can learn and progress as a society: by introducing increasingly critical thinking into how we observe the world around us. I invite you along, dear friends. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it is the bottom of the 8th and the Cubs are up by 2.

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