Saturday, February 27, 2010

Che Miles On Colombia

My old buddy Che Miles who is living down in Colombia has some interesting insights on the news that Uribe will not be allowed to stand for a third term.


I love saturday mornings, as they give me a chance to catch up with the world.  This fair saturday, as I wait for my lazy roomie Marcos to wake up so we can have some Brazilian food, I got to work on a blog for the USC Institute of Global Health's blog on Ak'tenamit.  I finally had a chance to write about the wonderful organization I was introduced to by Jesse Shauben-Fuest, a friend I made during the New Years festivities in Antigua, Guatemala.  The story is now up on the Institute for Global Health's blog.  Gracias to Jesse for sharing about his fine organization.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sid PD

Punk diplomacy.  Punk's not dead, he's just touring Indonesia.  Make the remaining Ramones cultural ambassadors and send them on a world tour.  Good cultural PD.  In the meantime, off to LBC to see DC Fallout and Kid Vicious play.

Halftime Show at the Border

good LA Times piece on the IndoPak Halftime show at the border.  The Rockower Post covered that spectacle a few years back.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cajuns Helping Haitians

Interesting CS Monitor piece on New Orleans assistance to Haiti.


Ok, where do I collect my shekels for offering the Israeli Foreign Ministry their idea for citizen public diplomats?? I published a blog on Jan 1st on "Deputizing Public Diplomats." Within days, Yuli Edelstein announced that Israel would do just that. Now there are a plethora of stories about how Israel is turning to its citizens to be citizen diplomats. Yuli, I want some royalties for my idea. Please send 10 agorot to Paul Rockower, c/o the Rockower Institute for Backpacking Diplomacy, located in the heart of sunny Molvania. Pay up Yuli, or I will send a Mossad squad after you. Or perhaps I will have a hit squad sent after me for giving planting that mustard seed that might inevitably lead to mustard gas in the form of a lot of hot air.

In other news, the sh-t show that was my 30th Bar Mitzvah party has netted the State of Israel 5 new trees. It's my turn to water them on tuesdays. Thanks Naomi and Kenya for organizing and to all those who contributed in honoring me with the arboles.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DC Done, Back to Cali

I had a crazy, fascinating and fruitful week in DC, and now I am back in Lalaland. Just barely made it, will get to that later.

Saturday I went shopping with dear ol' Mom who was kind enough to be a dutiful mother and take her baby boy shopping. Yes, I'm 30 and my mom still occasionally takes me shopping. I later went out for an afternoon drive with my dad. We never made it to the Newseum, but had fun anyway. We went out for dinner for Malaysian food at a place in Bethesda called Penang. It was good, but they didn't believe me when I asked for really spicy. I went out with my old friend Peter Bayne, who is now dating another old friend Caitlin. It only took a decade-and-a-half for this high school infatuation to develop. Better late than never. We randomly bumped into more old friends, Heidi, her fiance Rob and Rebecca, and were joined by more old highschool friends. Nice to swim in the slipstream of old memories and old friends. On my walk back from Adams Morgan, I met a cute couple from Ohio now living in DC. He was a little drunk but they were fun walking companions to the metro. While sitting on the metro, we bumped into a bunch of delegates from Texas and Ohio at the CPAC convention who were geeking out over having seen Glenn Beck, Darth Cheney and other ilk. I was a good public diplomat and kept my mouth shut until one of the Ohioans started pointing out he had his second amendment in his girlfriend's purse. I told him we roll a little differently around these parts and to chill.

Sunday I went with my Mom to the beautiful Ratner Museum on Old Georgetown Road. After my dance with Crumb's Genesis, this was a fascinating take on the same stories. Philip Ratner made beautiful abstract sculptures of biblical stories, as well as gorgeous sketches accompanied with psalms and verses. Fav verse, Song of Songs 1:2, "Oh give me kisses, for your love is more delightful than wine."

I picked up Anna from Temple Micah and we had a vegan picnic on the marble steps of the Folger before seeing "Orestes: a tragic romp." It was a masterful performance of the classic play done with a modern touch, yet with fidelity to the original text. Truly brilliant with some real affective performances. Nothing better than great theater.

Monday I was a guest for a cultural diplomacy symposiums held by Prof. John Brown for his Georgetown class. I spoke about the original Family of Man, my exhibit and talked shop about how to travel on the cheap or for free. After my shpeel, Dr. Richard Arndt spoke about the history of Cultural Diplomacy and the First Resort of Kings. The Godfather of Cultural Diplomacy remembered me from the Cultural Diplomacy conference we had and the table we shared. He gave a fascinating lecture, mentioning Grotius' notion of war as the last resort, adopted by Cardinal Richelieu who stamped "Ultia Rato Regum" (the Last Resort of Kings) on the barrel of French naval cannons. If war is the last resort, Arndt stated, then cultural diplomacy must be considered the first resort. Too fascinating a lecture to sum up here, read his book for the details.

After, I had lunch with Herr Doktor Arndt and we talked shop over Lebanese food. Fascinating chat over history, postings to Iran and Lebanon and the past and future of PD.

After lunch, I had a terrific interview with Representative Talabani of the Kurdish Regional Government about Kurdish PD and Cultural Diplomacy. Truly a dapper and engaging fellow, and the interview had some great back-and-forth over the image of the Kurds (Don't mess with Texas; Don't mess with the Kurds; Peshmerga as Keyzer Soze)We had to cut our interview short because he had to head to the Hill, so I hopped in the cab and accompanied him downtown as I finished my interview. Details of the interviews from the week will be forthcoming on the PD magazine blog.

A little Celtic music at Nanny O'Brien's with Anna to end the week in DC, including an emotionally beautiful song in Gallic sung by a redheaded Irish girl that made me melt.

I was off to the airport yesterday thinking that my flight was at 10:50. I originally had a flight out on Monday at 10:50am, but changed it to Tuesday. I only gave cursory glance to the changed ticket and didn't notice a changed time too. I arrived at the airport at 9:55am and checked the screen. I didn't see anything at 10:50 but there was a flight at 10:10, which was boarding. I quickly glanced at my ticket and to my dismay, that was my flight. I turned white, ran to the counter and dropped off my bag. The woman said it probably wouldn't make it on the flight, and I figured she was correct. I darted off, jumping the line for security and hoofed it to the gate. I got there just as they were closing the door. By the grace of Apollo, I made it on the plane, huffing and puffing. I had a scotch and soda to celebrate my Nike. The flight was fine, I ended up next to a late 30something father named James and his 15 month old adorable baby named Jack. The little babe had a great disposition and hardly made a peep during the flight. On the plane, I read a marvelous book by Prof. Phil Seib called "The Player" on the life and times of baseball great Christy Mathewson. The book looks at one of baseball's original luminaries, and places his career in the context of the age he played in and the political situations of the period. The story stands in such contrast with the present predicament of so many athletes, yet Seib is careful not to beatify Mathewson and presents him as a real person, who is just a little more honest and decent than the rest but still with his own honest flaws. The best compliment I can offer is that Seib turns a phrase well, and the best compliment I can give is that I plan to order a copy for my old man.

I arrived into a cloud of brown smog unlike anything I had ever seen. It was like a wave of shit hovering above the city. I stopped at baggage claim to explain the story and see my options. I decided to wait anyway to see if my bag came, and indeed it did. I checked it at 9:57 for a 10:10 flight and miraculously it was there. Dayeinu to Southwest. Dayeinu that I got on the flight; Dayeinu that they had my bag. I luv Southwest.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rockowerewitz, On Peace

The thought I had while listening to Dr. Richard Arndt discuss cultural diplomacy today: If, as Clausewitz said, war is the extension of politics by other means, then is (public) diplomacy the extension of peace by other means?

Looking Up

The sign on the Library of Congress dome reads: The heavens declare the glory of G-d and the firmament showeth his handiwork.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The View from La Mancha

Don Pablo Quijote is perplexed and not sure if he has been chasing Dulcinea or simply tilting at windmills.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Companionship 101

Cute video of a doggy and an orangutan. Thanks Mom.

My own contribution to companionship 101, pics I took of a calf and guanaco kissing!

From El Calafate

From El Calafate
From El Calafate

No longer in charge

I mentioned to my Dad that Alexander Haig passed away. He remarked, "I guess he's no longer in charge."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Paul's pride

Friends are popping out babies, wow. What DARE never understood was that peer-pressure was never someone exhorting you, or trying to pressure you, it was simply the present company casually carrying out the same action to socialize your acceptance to the new norm. Since no progeny have yet found me, I will proudly display my baby pictures.


An old friend named Katarina popped out some spawn. I thought I would post some pics of the wee tyke. Mazal tov, K.

Posted by Picasa

DC Cont

Thursday I met up with my old boss Suzanne Harris of MagPub. I plied the trade for the knowledgeable reader for many a day, it was nice to catch up. We had coffee under the wide-open halls of Union Station, talking about client ideas and various old projects and other kinds of shop talk.

I headed over to Cleveland Park, where I had a wonderful lunch with John Brown of Pub D Press and Blog review fame. Just an opportunity to meet in person, chat about pub d projects and ventures over pho and Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, as well as a chance to clear the air over a past misunderstanding with John and APDS. Brown is the consummate pub diplo and it was grand to talk about the goold old days of PD behind the Iron Curtain. He had served in a number of Warsaw Pact locales, and told me of the time spent doing PD during the Cold War. He was gracious enough to invite me to speak to his class I get to lecture about the Family of Man and my take on it. Even cooler is that I am the opening act for his day o' cultural diplomacy. I'm leading off before il Dottorre Richard Arndt, the godfather of Cultural Diplomacy. Quite an honor. In the PD world, it's like opening for the Rolling Stones.

I stopped by Temple Micah (Worth the Schlep!) to drop off a copy of R Crumb's Book of Genesis for Rabbi Zemel. He loved it! I knew he would, which was why I schlepped a copy back from the Hammer Museum to USC and then across the country to DC.

After a long week, my friday was thankfully slower, with some doting on by my Mom. The week ended having a drink with an old, old friend named Josh Ross. He and I went to Hebrew school together and have probably known each other since we were five or so. We had very different paths, but remain friends over our bs-ing ways. We are different sorts of bullsh-tters, he a salesman bser who could sell sand to Saudis; my bs is the more of the embellishing variety. Off to the Newseum with dear ol' Dad tomorrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Yesterday was fascinating, as I met with a senior VP at APCO Worldwide to talk shop about the wonderful world of consulting. Some grand mentoring advice was gleaned. I lunched with Ms. Anna Phillips (another non-blog reader) at Founding Farmers, a restaurant that is based on produce from a myriad of collective farms (not collective in the Soviet sense). A delicious fair of chips dipped in romesco sauce, pimento and anchovy spread and a tasty green goddess sauce. A roasted veggie sandwich of for moi, as I am a whipped vegetarian and a veggie burger for the vegan lass. Washed down with an El Presidente and some homemade ginger ale that was tangy with real ginger.

After lunch, I had a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Yes, really. As part of my directed research. Dr. Jadou was on her first post abroad and offered her perspective on Palestinian public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy, which I will write about for PD Mag and my project. At the end of a good interview, I offered full disclosure of where I used to work. After a bit of cognitive dissonance that I can only describe as someone having a mild shock, she took it in stride and had a few simple questions for me. She is a moderate who wants peace and two-states, and I have always felt more common cause with moderate Palestinians than extremist Israelis.

After the interview, I realized I had a little time and Anna had mentioned that she had a Kurdish professor who had been a minister in the Iraqi government. I hightailed it over to the Elliot School and met a professor of Kurdish origin to set up an interview on the fly for tomorrow. I then hopped on the metro out to the Pentagon. I was a little taken back by all the Northrop Gurmmond adverts for weapons systems. Pictures of jungles or forests with signs that said “Before you find the threat, we have neutralized it.” I am reminded of Abraham Maslow’s quote, "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."

Off to NoVa to see my old friend Brian, his wife Nat and his son Tristan. Abu Tristan and I have known each other since third grade, and it is so nice to see how things are progressing for him with family life and career. It wasn’t always an easy path for Brian, but he is firmly on the right road and I am supremely proud of him. And his son (Uncle Paulie's godson) is absolutely adorable. He is cute as a button, and has his father’s warm, smiley disposition.

OP Mostarak and not listening

This came from a friend Justin who has some intimate knowledge of the situation in Afghanistan.

You're all no doubt aware of this big NATO op going down in Afghanistan at the moment. Matt also mentioned it a couple weeks ago as it was notable for the publicity that accompanied it beforehand. McChrystal's recently called The Stan an information war etc., etc.

Anyway, like all the news is saying, MOSHTARAK means 'together' in Dari. The thing is that in Marjah, where the op is going down, and in Helmand in general, very few people actually speak Dari. They all speak Pashto. So are we demonstrating 'togetherness' with the local population? Hardly. It's in Dari because the ANA (Afghan National Army) taking part are all from the north and north-west of the country where they do speak Dari.

So, beware of what's being marketed. One of the ops last year was called PANCHAI PALAANG, which which means Panther's Claw but again only in Dari. In Pashto, Palaang is a large decorated wooden bed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

VOA on 21C Family of Man

The VOA released their story on my 21st Century Family of Man exhibit.  Have a listen, it is cool!

morning commute

If “the dog ate my homework” didn’t work at twelve, then “sorry, the dog made me late for the meeting” surely doesn’t work at thirty. Thanks Scruffy, via my dog-walking mother who hath left late and in the doghouse with a highpowered consulting firm for a morning meeting.

The dapper greys and blacks of the morning suits, sitting in silence as the commuter train rolls on through dark tunnels to the daily grind. As I have said before, there is something so sublime about the sound of silence amid throngs of strangers.

But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence.

Thankfully the morning Taggert Express sped me along and I arrived early.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Rockower Post takes on the LA Times

Over dinner with my dear friends Sarah and Brad, I noticed a comment on my Neon Tommy article on Mexico: Under Siege?.  Bruce Wallace, the foreign editor of the LA Times weighed in on my piece:

Hello Paul. Interesting article, and thank you for acknowledging our "decent and nuanced coverage" of Mexico. I must point out, however, that you are wrong to write that we label all our Mexico coverage as 'Mexico Under Siege.' That phrase applies only to stories specifically related to the drug war and accompanying violence. Our stories about Mexican politics, business, the arts and other non-drug war topics do not carry the 'Under Siege' label. I look forward an amended post correcting this false impression.
Best regards,
Bruce Wallace
Foreign Editor

My response to the esteemed Mr. Wallace:
Hello Bruce,
Yes, but...the majority of the Times' coverage on Mexico is on the drug war. In fact, a year ago it so dominated the coverage that his correspondents in Mexico were complaining to the local colleagues that they could not get articles in the LA Times that were not about the drug war. But when the story is not about the drug war it VERY rarely makes the front page but is instead buried deep inside the newspaper. Drug stories, by contrast, are generally front and center.

And while the balance in the Times' coverage has improved over the past few months, the title "Mexico under Siege" is always displayed so prominently on each drug war story that the message completely overpowers any other coverage the LA Times might give to Mexico.
Best Regards, Paul

Meanwhile, you can see all the Rockower Post stories in the form of PD blogs for Center on Public Diplomacy and op-eds for Neon Tommy.

For CPD, the APDS blogs:

For Neon Tommy:
No Love for the U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon by John Nahas
Aid Diplomacy: Why Helping Haiti Helps You by Naomi Leight

Japan and the Art of Apology

Through the Rockower Post News Wire, CPD has an APDS blog post up on on Japan and the art of apology by the eminent scholar Michael Hallquist.  Hallquist is a Senior Fellow at the Chuck Norris Institute. He is the leading scholar on the Jean Claude Van Dam Azzkicking Hard Power Theory and author of the Steven Seagal Corollary.  

Valdez Diplomacy

I'm sitting at a columbian colombian (thanks Mel for pointing out I had D of Columbia on the brain) coffee house called Juan Valdez on the corner of 19th and F.  This is a brilliant Colombian PD move.  Similar to gastro diplomacy, coffee diplomacy is an easy, caffeine-infused way to conduct pd outreach via something that all share and enjoy.  The place is playing smooth Colombian music and offering smooth Colombian coffee.  I'm writing this as I wait for Godot and Anna.  I'm going to have a Cafe Campesino, coffee with sugar cane, cinnamon and lemon.  Smart Colombian pd indeed, complete with the famous Juan Valdez icon.

Public Diplomacy Social Networking

Well peeps, have at it.  The Public Diplomacy Corps, the public diplomacy consulting group I'm a part of, has just launched our own public diplomacy social network site:
Join up, meet up and pd up.

There is also a blog component.  Rather than repeating, I will simply refer to The Ties that Bind.

In other bloggy news from the Rockower Post News Wire, NeonPD has a new post up on Lebanon from one APDS Rais Sarko on Lebanon and the Tribunal. 

East of Eden

I woke up early to head east.  I have a stye that  has really started to irritate mine eye.  Bed-Stye.  I hopped a shuttle to the airport, and had a private ride as I was the only one in the shuttle.  I chatted with an Indonesian fellow named Lu, who was eager to share his religious beliefs with me.  We had an amiable chat about God, tolerance and faith.  Since I was early and alone, I convinced him to take a detour by way of Randy’s Donuts.  I sprang for a glazed for each of us that was soft, light and not too sweet but fantastically delicious.  We also split a warm, yummy apple fritter that was crunchy in some places, cinnamony in others and gooey apple in the middle. 

I got to the airport in ample time and was standing in line.  A fellow behind me started giving me a hard time because I was slow moving my large backpack.  He offered me travel advice that I should get a suitcase.  I laughed and said I will stick with mine as it is easier to get from LA to Panama with a backpack.  We began chatting about the world and politics.  He showed his hand to be a Republican and started giving me grief about Obama and Iran.  I pushed back and started handing him his political ass.  I bumped into him again in the security line and told him to wait outside security and we would finish our banter.  He was nowhere to be found, running back to his Republican lair on fear of the political asswhupping I was about to dish out.

Once on the flight, I pimped free Valentine’s drinks early over cheesy sweetalk over the  luv in my heart for Southwest stewardesses.  We flew over the dry, desiccated desert with riverbeds stretch like black veins.  Reminded me of the lines in the sand on El Trunco.

The conversation with the evangelical Indonesia had me thinking about the good lord.  If, as Disney postulated, life love those who live life, then does G-d lov those who love G-d?  While G-d may love all his creatures, I can’t say that I believe he loves those of zealous devotion more than those who love him in fleeting and passing ways, or those who don’t believe at all.  My own answer is that of Pascal, it can’t hurt to believe but zealotry probably can't help.

The drink sweet-talk only worked once.  It’s funny that I am practically shocked these days when I don’t get my way by sweet-talking, reasoning and/or flirting.

"When illusion spin her net 
I'm never where I want to be 
And liberty she pirouette 
When I think that I am free 
Watched by empty silhouettes 
Who close their eyes but still can see 
No one taught them etiquette 
I will show another me"

The song Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel was the last thing I heard before my ipod ran out of juice. 

Anywho, I landed in Baltimore, was grabbed by my Mom and grabbed a bag of Utz then headed north to Philly.  We went to go stay in my grandparents old apartment, which was in the process of vacating.  It was strange to see the place empty.  The rooms that once seemed so regal and grand were now empty and small. It was a little hard to see it as a barren apartment.  My grandparents apartment was always a place of elegance and old world charm, complete with fancy mahogany wooden desks, silks chinese prints, jade snuff bottles and fancy porcelain lamps.  China galore.  All gone.  My morning remark was that it was the death of Camelot.

But we made our way to my grandfather's new apartment, which existed as a distilled version of the Norman Museum.  And he is happy in his new place, not weighed down by the empty space left by my gone grandmother.  And we had a fancy brunch, complete with a bottle of champagne, and all his friends toasted our mimosa class.

After, I continued my sunday family romp, visiting my other grandmother in her nursing home outside Philly. This was the first time I had seen her out of her Florida apartment.  She has Alzheimer's and some dementia, and was not doing well on her own.  She is slipping away into a confused oblivion, but seemed okay and better with less challenges for her daily routine in an apartment on her own (even under full care).  However, I think she is with full clarity, as she remarked that I was her favorite grandson when she saw me, and even remembered my name.   

We returned home to celebrate Valentine's Day with my Dad, who I am very thankful to celebrate the day with.  He had a heart attack 4 years ago on Valentine's day, but has been doing fine since.  He has lower cholesterol than me these days, the product of modern medicine.  Since he is still here, it means I can reminisce of fonder Valentine's Days, such as one spent with Minseon at the Taj Mahal some three years prior.

From The Taj

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Concentrated Decentralization; The Rockower Post; NPaulR; By Jack I swear to Kerouac,

The days fly by like a concerto piece marked with speed and brilliance, and suddenly the week's movement is over.  Busy week, as the best ones are.

Wednesday I continued to audit the unauditable.  Castells' brilliance on global cities and the communication nodes and networks.  Basically we have 3.8 bil in urban areas, of which 1.5 billion in slums. Most of the urban growth is in developing countries (aka emerging economies), where you have the fastest growth in urban residence. In 2030, official projection for urban dwellers is 5.5billion, of which 81% in developed countries are in the cities, and 1/3 live in city slums.  I was reminded of Palenque, the great Mayan city that was abandoned when it outstripped its ability to sustain itself. But Castells pointed out the reality that the planet is empty.  His example included Siberia, which  is 1.5 times larger than the US and essentially empty.  We suffer from an extreme concentration of planet.

He made the point the wireless communication is the nervous center for polycentric metropolises.  He also spoke about the different network nodes that comprise the successful megalopolises (Finance, Power, Media, Science and Technology, Tourism, Culture), and how in network node math, 2+2=5.
Given the fast pace of accelerated concentration, there are 3 factors that equal the special expression of logic of globalization:
1) These nodes relate to logic of their own network.
2) Because of the existence of nodes and their interlinking on planetary scale, metro areas become exploited
3) People who are being left out of dynasim of networks are left in place of dispossession, must move to center of accumulated of nodes. However, this creates an accumulation of marginality so that sources of wealth, power and creativity also become center of poverty, crime and dispossession and thus there is an architecture of nodes between producers of value and valueless.  

I do no justice at all because there is no way to sum it up in an easy fashion, so instead I will merely toss the random thoughts that came my way amid the discussion of concentrated decentralization of the global megalopolis. Paul's sidebar notes:

For his point on California's megalopolises (the SF Bay area and larger environs to the north, LA metro stemming from Santa Barbara to TJ in the south), I offer: The Great War of the Californias by Sandow Birk.

For the notions constructive and destructive creativity aligning together, I offer Orson Welles: 
"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switerzland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock."

For Castells point on accelerated centralization of urban areas, and with R Crumb and Genesis heavy on the brain, I offer the notion that Cain and Abel was a parable of rural vs. urban, 

and offer up William Jennings Bryan from his Cross of Gold speech:
“the great cities rest upon our broad and fertile prairies. Burn down you cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow on the streets of every city in the country."
All of this made me think of one of my most favorite Harper's pieces, Detroit Arcadia and the reference in that piece to Ozymandius:
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
A grand class indeed.

Thursday I began my role as the international editor for the Rockower Post.  With our new APDS projects, I began getting my classmates to weigh in for blogs and op-eds on their various specialties.  So much fun to be an editor, playing with story ideas with different writers.  Too much fun, I was meant to be an international editor, handing out assignments to my little PD staff o' journalists.

Thursday night I went to a lovely cultural program at the Mexican Consulate with BFF Yael for an opening of an art exhibit calles "Las Huellas de Camino" by Ana Gojman.  We sipped fine tequila and took in the lovely works.

Friday was a little nuts.  I stopped by my old NPR stomping ground and dropped off some brochures and PD Mags.  F' press releases, I walk through the front door.  There was considerable interest in both, I will keep the readership posted on such developments.  I also stopped by PC Colour to let them know about my new project and their new work.  The working title for the new exhibit is: "A Focus on Global Health: Public Health through a Public Diplomacy Lens".  I tried to hope the DASH back towards school but an obstinate wench wouldn't let me on with my bike.  I begged and pleaded my case to no avail.  People luv to exercise their power, no matter how menial.

 I made my way to Union Station and caught the USC shuttle back to campus to arrive really late to Mountainrunner class.  I came in during a fascinating online chat with Adam Pearson  of White Canvas Group.  Adam was discussing online jihad and cyberwarfare.  The class took some interesting turns as we discussed the pros and cons of recreating USIA, its golden years and privatization of cyberwarfare.  I made a semi-comical boludo mistake and got a reminder of how rumors start.  I glanced at the google news and mistakenly thought I saw "Lugar in a car accident."  As the discussion turned to the Hill, I mentioned that Dick Lugar had been in a car accident.  Then I clicked again and saw it said "Lugar dead," and exclaimed it to the class.  Only to recheck and realize it said "Luger dead."  MORON!  Thank g-d I didn't tweet or buzz anything, instead I just share my stupidity with you dear readers.  (Editors note: I am not officially enrolled in Mountainrunner's class, so no reflection of my stupidity on him or his class).

After class, I gave my own lecture to an itinerant undergrad named Rachel Tobias who was in the class I lectured in, but missed class that day.  We talked shop on how to procure other people's money to support your travels.  Rachel has a good start on the vagabond journalism world, and I imagine I will bump into her in some dark corner of the world.  Sao Paulo continues to love spreading the vagabond gospel.  This is my own public diplomacy socialization mission based on the belief that if I can convince more people to go away then the world can be a better and better connected place (see under: Avatar Diplomacy).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Neon PD- Mexico: Under Siege?

As I mentioned in a previous blog, APDS inked a partnership with Neon Tommy for our Public Diplomacy students to pen op-eds for the Annenberg digitial news site.  Here is the first installment from moi: Mexico: Under Siege?

While Mexico indeed needs to carry out considerably more public diplomacy to convince its gringo neighbor to the north that the context of the "Mexico Under Siege" mentality is inaccurate, the sensationalist headlines surely don't help the matter.  As a venerable paper of record, the LA Times should understand this better than most; yet its quest to gain Pulitzers at the sake of sensationalism and speciousness speaks to the state of the LA Times as much as it does to the state of Mexico.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Israeli PD

MJ Rosenberg posted a great video on his Huffington Post blog:

Operation Titstorm

For someone not doing anything, I am f'ing busy!  Funniest thing I am tracking from a busy morning: Operation Titstorm.  

Japan, Korea and saying sorry

In an amazing sign of progress in Asia Pacific region, Japan apologized to Korea for its occupation and colonial rule.  This story probably won't get the traction and headlines it deserves, but it is pretty significant.

Litterbugs and Fatass pigeons

Thanks Andrea!


The utter appreciation of quality. I'm listening to my voice major roomie Andrea sing in her studio.  She sings opera at the Thornton school and is masterful.  Her voice fills and floats in sounds that soar. She sang Shubert's Ave Maria and I was walking in the snow in Prague again.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.
Andrea just sang Amazing Grace in its entirety, and I just melted. All of it as it ascended to the heavens. How sweet the sound.

My afternoon has been quality.  Another class with Castells.  True quality.  The megalopolis and the nodes that connect the globalized world.  Connected in brilliance. I will try to write about it more later, but there is no defining the quality that it was.

I gave the Andreas a tour, alongside our Austrian refugee Katarina.  Quality appreciates quality.  Phaedrus' absolute value of quality. The metaphysics of quality.  The tao of quality:
"The quality that can be defined is not Absolute Quality.
The names given to it are but Absolute names.
It is the origin of heaven and earth.
When named it is the mother of all things...
Quality and its manifestations are in their nature the same. It is given names when it becomes classically manifest.
Romantic quality and classic quality together may be called "the mystic."
Reaching from mystery into deeper mystery, it is the gate to the secret of all life.
Quality is all-pervading.
And its use is inexhaustible!
Like the fountainhead of all things...
Yet crystal clear like water it seems to remain.
I do not know whose Son it is.
An image of what existed before God.
...Continuously, continuously it seems to remain. Draw upon it with ease...
Looked at but cannot be seen...listened to but cannot be heard...grasped but cannot be touched...these three elude all our inquiries and hence blend and become one.
Not by its rising is there light,
Not by its sinking is there darkness
Unceasing, contiguous
It cannot be defined
And reverts again into the realm of nothingness
That is why it is called elusive
Meet it and you do not see its face
Follow it and you do not see its back
He who holds fast to the quality of old
Is able to know the primeval beginnings
Which are the continuity of quality.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Innocents Abroad: Backpacking in the Age of Obama

I realize i never actually posted this one on my blog.  It ran on the CPD site.  Enjoy!


As soon as the Fall semester ended, I was on the road. Within days of my last finals, I hopped a bus south from Los Angeles and worked my way to Panama on public transit on a public health/public diplomacy road show. On a trip sponsored by the USC Institute for Global Health as a means to produce a photography exhibition on the world of public health and its intersection with public diplomacy, I went through Mexico and Central America, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. I have been backpacking for many years, but this time there was a serious difference: President Obama.

Rockower at the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal

I first noticed a change in attitudes while traveling around Japan last summer, but this current trip gave me a real opportunity to check the zeitgeist, the global pulse of attitudes towards Americans traveling abroad. My evidence is anecdotal but reflects a ground-level perspective spent in a multitude of hostels, squalid hotels, chicken buses and vans packed to the hilt. I always travel solo and I am often the only gringo on the local transit.

Being an American traveling during the Bush years was never easy. When I would say I was an American, people would roll their eyes and say "oh…Bush." I would have to put the public diplomacy charm on overload to explain why some had voted for him and why not everyone supported W.

Now, when I say that I am American, I get an "ah…Obama," with a smile and thumbs-up. Everyone I encountered knew of the American president; from the street kids in Managua to the seniors in San Salvador, the American president was held in high regard, and it reflected on his flock.

That dark cloud hovering over Americans traveling abroad has essentially dissipated because the elephant is no longer in the room. The European backpackers have lost that slightly hostile edge towards Americans. The eye-rolling “American” glance that was commonplace just doesn’t happen anymore. Meanwhile, the locals didn’t sneer when it was apparent that a gringo from the north was in their midst. More importantly, on this recent trip I saw a relative dearth of Canadian flags on backpacks, suggesting that those camouflaged Americans finally removed the maple leaf “security” patches from their bags.

Just before my trip, I saw a magnet with a picture of the president and the words, “Obama… it’s okay to be American again,” a sentiment that really proved to be accurate while traveling in the age of Obama. I found it so much more refreshing traveling without having to always explain American foreign policy missteps. Conservative pundits complained that Obama’s foreign policy essentially amounted to apologizing -- but, simply put, because Obama apologized, I don’t have to anymore. No one bothers me anymore about why America is doing what America is doing. Obama's public diplomacy makes my public diplomacy efforts and travel endeavors far easier.

Paul Rockower is a graduate student in the Masters in Public Diplomacy program at USC and a PDiN research intern at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. He has traveled to almost 55 countries around the globe. You can follow his misadventures at:

Keyzer Snowze

How do you throw a snowball at the devil in the back?  What if you miss?  I'm effectively grounded in LA for the day, with my flight back to DC canceled.  Things to do in LA when you are dead.  It's actually not a bad thing because the Public Diplomacy Advisory Commission hearing I wanted to attend got cancelled, and this lets me go to my APDS meeting and Pub D Mag election.

Monday I got to be a flak again, arranging intro meetings for the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars with Annenberg Radio News and Neon Tommy.  Our pitch was essentially that we fit a niche for their orgs since and offered the best of both IR and COMM.  Like the IR students, we had a handle on international issues; however, we actually speak in complete, cogent sentences and not IR theory like the IR kids.  Meanwhile,  like the Comm students, we communicate well; unlike the Comm students, we actually said something.  Developments to come out of the meetings are a new PD Podcast and also a new APDS op-ed column for Neon Tommy.

Yesterday I got to play moderator at a coffee chat we had with Jack Hamilton, Dean of LSU's Manship School of Communication.  APDS had him in for a private coffee before he had a lecture for Annenberg.  Lucky us!  He just published what looks to be a fascinating book called Journalism's Roving Eye.  I got to ask a few queries on the genesis of the book and his feelings about international reporting in the digital age, before I moderated my moderating and opened it up to the rest of the group.  Hamilton was candid and colorful in his assessments of foreign reporting, it was a treat.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Ragin' Cajuns

Unbelievable.  I gladly lost a few bets cause I went with my wallet and my head rather than my heart.  F'ing Dan Snyder!  Gregg Williams, the Saints defensive coordinator, should have been the Redskins coach until Snyderbrenner cast him away.

Mazal tov to the Saints, to New Orleans, to Louisiana and to my old buddy Simon.  He has been a diehard Saints fan since Bobby Hebert was running the show and Ironhead Heyward was bowling through defenses.

New Orleans has always held a special place in my heart.  I remember driving with Simon from DC to New Orleans during the summer after I graduated.  He drove the whole way cause I didn't know how to drive stick.  He drove through the clutch and we ended up getting towed in, crossing the bayous in a towtruck as giant fat clouds heralded our arrival to the big easy.  I fell in love with the city immediately, over the laissez les bon temps roulez care free attitude and Dionysian mores.  The po' boys, drive-through hurricane shacks and Bourbon street debauchery had me hooked.  I got in some damn good trouble on that trip. The talking-cops-out-of-tickets-for-peeing-in-public and shoes-ending-up-in-tree-branches type fun for a green kid of eighteen amid the confederacy of dunces.

I returned again and again, for plenty of unrememberable fun and grand times. Always a decadent time for this Ignatius J. Reilly.  For the French Quarter and the beignets and chicory coffee (I still drink my morning cup out of my giant cafe du monde goblet).  For Mardi Gras and its bacchanalian beadfest.

One of my most enduring memories is driving through the city on my drive back from Houston to put my life in my parents basement before I headed off to South Africa.  It was after Katrina, and the city was still flat on its back.  I remember driving through a ghost town, through the fog of a lost city, peering past old haunts and stomping grounds.  Yachts in the parkways, waterlines of the postdiluvian world up on high and the ghost tour of where the levies broke with my old friend.

I raise my glass to the Saints and to the city, and most of all to my old friend Simon (Vic, the Prince of Bourbon Street to those who know him in the quarter) and cheer on the crescent city. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

A fellow cunning linguist

I think I have found my gibberish soulmate, a girl who can speak backwards.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The grand week that was

A truly fantastic week being back, filled with excellence, avarice and avatar.

First things first.  I made a bit of a mistake on something that got rost in transration.  I am indeed published, but not in the book that I mentioned.  I had a miscommunication with Prof Ma'oz, and I am in another book that is to be released shortly called "Muslim Attitudes towards Israelis and Jews." I thought I was in the Meeting of Civ book, so I told everybody.  I blogged about it; I posted it on facebook; the Center on Public Diplomacy posted it on their website; the Annenberg School for Communication mentioned it on their newsletter.  Only to find out that I got it wrong.  Oops.  It will make a funny anecdote when I get my PhD.  Too funny, except it is turning into an expensive stupidity tax as I have a standing offer to anyone who purchased the book that I will replace it with the proper book.

Back to the week that was.  Monday began with a meeting between Prof. Starr, Cesar and me over the US-Mexico Network project.  The project is a public diplomacy venture to better connect academics on both sides of the border.  The website is still under work, but the project is rather interesting.  More info forthcoming about it as the project is closer to completion.  On my way back, I stopped by the grocery store and had an "Only in America" moment when I found an apple pie in the Ralph's bakery that was emblazoned with a sticker that said "For Your Health."  What???  Just cause the pie has apples, healthy it is not.  I'll see if I can get the photo from my phone to blog.

Meanwhile, Professor Rockower has set up shop, carving out an office in the living room, complete with desk and chair.  Even a sign that says "Professor Rockower's Office: Office Hours by Appointment."  Tuesday I joined a harem of girls for lunch- taking advantage of the LA Restaurant week to go to Luna Park.  We had the prefixe for $16.  For an appetizer, I had the marinated tuna on wantons.  The tuna was fresh and firm and went nicely on the crunchy wantons.  For lunch, I had the "tasty burger," which was.  Desert was mini-apple pies that had no pretensions of being for my health.  We took a constitutional after through some lovely antique stores, a French one and Moroccan one where I once bought a beautiful blue and white mosaic coffee table that lays in the dark of my parents basement.  I watched the most brilliant sunset from Naomi's roof, it was a tequila sunset in its finest.  She just found out she could get up to the roof so I did some reconnaissance.   I quickly realized the sunset was brilliant and called her up.  The sun had disappeared in the haze until it slowly re-materialized, beginning with a sliver of pink and re-emerging slowly into a pink orb, starting from the bottom sliver up into the orb shape.  As it re-materialized into a pink orb, the bottom went golden and flushed the pink away into a golden orb that dropped into the cityscape and sea.  

Wednesday I made my way to the USC Health Science campus to meet with Ivette from the USC Institute for Global Health to discuss the upcoming photo project.  The campus was pretty, bathed in white flowers.  I came back from my trip to the other campus and came just in time to sit in on the unauditable class of the eminent Prof. Manuel Castells.  The story is that his classes are always full and he doesn't allow students to audit his class.  But as Nietzsche said, there are laws for man and there are laws for me.  I sat in on the mindblowing lecture, and quickly realized why he is who he is and why the reputation precedes him.  The class is on globalization and social networks.  I can't even begin to get into all that he said, but I will offer the highlights of his lecture on Social Networks of Affinity- Revolutionary Discussions:
-What is culture? Culture is reflection of norms and customs and behavior; global culture exists only because of global communication system.  The only global culture is consumerism, capitalism expanding on the basis of demand. Within consumerism, we have specificities-branding is an attempt to build global culture on consumerist culture.
-What is communication?  The transfer of ideas.  The sharing of meaning through the exchange of information. The biggest transformation in communication in the shift from mass communication to mass-self communication. Sharing information is information exchange, but we don’t always share meaning (e.g. Men from Mars, Women from Venus: Men and women share information but the meaning is different).  We share information to exchange meaning.  There is a ubiquitous sharing of information, but not always a sharing of meaning.
-40percent of bloggers write for themselves-  “virtual masturbation” (my term)  
-the differences in directional communication, unidirectional vs. multidirectional
-old model: One direction to many, no connectivity, no hypertextuality and mediated time frame; new model: Many to many, with interconnectivity, with hypertextuality in real time.  (More people watch YouTube than all the networks combined; From the Economist, if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world with 250 million citizens)

Ok, I really can't sum up my five pages of notes.  The notes are a bit out of context, sorry. If anyone listened to the story I posted about Time and how things feel longer as a kid because your brain is working harder, well this class was an unending pleasure because of the richness of information.  I planned to keep quiet so he wouldn't notice me, but that of course didn't work.  But I think I made a decent enough contribution that I can come back.

Wednesday night, I went with Naomi to see Avatar in 3-D.  What an overload!  It was brilliant display of personal public diplomacy by James Cameron.  A mass media public diplomacy campaign to socialize audiences on ideas and values.  Brilliant!  Naomi and I geeked out over the PD implications and the brilliance of the pd analytics that the movie offered (wanna measure public diplomacy?  Try in box office sales).  John Brown had his own take on the PD connection to Cameron's work in the HuffPo a while back.  Kenya sent me an interesting piece from PRI on some indigenious in Ecuador who were brought out of the Amazon to see the movie.  They enjoyed their first movie, more so, their first 3-d movie, but had a great take-away thought: this is a Hollywood movie, no one is going to to ride in for our defense.

Thursday I had brunch with Kenya, then was met by my aunt and her friend so I could give a tour of my exhibit.  That was the warm-up tour before a lecture I gave to a class on Photography and Social Change.  I had a great time lecturing to the class about my photos and the original Fam o' Man exhibit, and what it meant at the time.  The class really enjoyed the lecture and tour.  More importantly, I am their midterm.  They have to write part of their midterm about my exhibit!  I asked if I could grade the midterms, but apparently they don't get grades.  I said in that case, you all fail.  

After the lecture, I made my way to the opening of the Science Diplomacy Conference.  We had a great shmooze session, it was fun to chat with the scientist community, seeing how different they are then the pub diplomat crowd.  There was an interesting keynote opening by Vaughn Tarkenian of Center for Science Diplomacy.  

The conference kicked off on Friday with a some interesting speakers and panels.  Sheldon Himmelfarb of the United States Institute for Peace gave an engaging talk. We heard from a number of fascinating speakers on a panel on science exchange related to DPRKorea and science exchange, exchange between China and India and a SESAME reactor in the Middle East.  The lunch chat included Prof. Kip Thorn of California Institute for Technology discussing science exchanges with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  I ducked out after the lunch session for a brief meeting with Neon Tommy.  The evening and week ended with a shabbat dinner at my friend Tabby's place, for an evening of wonderful Persian food.  Lightly curried persian chicken kabobs, Israeli salads of cucumbers, carrots, beets and hummus and sweet basmati rice.  Yum.  Jello shots for desert. Trouble. 

Off tonight for the continuing fattening of one Paul Rockower with an Armenian dinner date with the rest of the program.  That about wraps up and caps off a grand week that was.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


I have occupied the Center on Public Diplomacy's website.  I'm up in three different columns.

On Paul

See the Urban Dictionary for the name "Paul", my personal favorite is number 10.


A common given name for males, derived from the Roman surname Paulus (Latin: "small" or "humble"). Put simply, it is the greatest name to grace the Earth. Seriously. It is the best name in existance.
Why is the name Paul so awesome?
Cause' Stone Cold said so.

people who own, such as paul mccartney and paul rudd. usually they are offered the job of being pornstars but they prove themselves being too good for the camera, so they all decide to become porn directors to give the others a chance, which makes them very selfless people aswell.
"i wish my name was paul it wouldnt be so hard to get chicks on the bus"
"having a name like eric really blows i wish the 4 letters in my name were p-a-u-l"


a guy that is sweet, cool, handsome, athletic, cute, nice, and thoughtful.
"my boyfriend is cheating on me,what should i do?"

"girl!,you need to dump his ass and find yourself a Paul

they sweetest guy ever, raised right and has the greatest respect for women. The perfect boyfriend who will always be there for you and love you.
paul martinez 

Big Advantage down below
Paul Goodey

gorgey gorgeous boy, whom we love, v.tall, beautiful eyes...
Wouldn't it be funny if we saw paul?!
OO look it's paul!

To get drunk then try shaving your balls, but in the process cutting the sack.
Oh fuck! I just pauled my nuts!

Better then Brian
I'm glad he's a Paul and not a Brian