On the election of Donald Trump

Posted: November 9th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: diversity, elections, governance, politics, technology, united states | No Comments »

My take is that the election of Trump was a loud message of disapproval from a signficant part of the electorate to the political elite, which had formed a closed, clientelist and thus undemocratic system. In a world where people have an increased expectation of more equal access to power, those closed systems are unappealing, especially to those left out. And those people are very much happy to destroy the system, just because they can. It is somewhat difficult to understand for those within the system or benefitting from it, but they should. In the US elections the choice was also so clearly between the candidate that embodies the establishment and an absolute outsider, so this was rather easy. I do not think that people will get what they wanted, but as a message it could have been worth it.

If one wants to avoid such things then one needs to increase diversity and inclusion within political parties to involve people from different backgrounds and open the whole thing up to a larger variety of people. In order for democracy to survive, parties have to be reformed from the hierarchical “old-boys-clubs” to modern networked, transparent and democratic institutions. In the UK, Labour has done some of this after much controversy and rebellion from those supporting the status quo. But that is just one part of it.

There is also a need to talk about elections and political representation as such in the ICT age, and not talking about potentially damaging pseudo-reforms like internet voting or direct digital democracy, but a substantial upgrade of representative democracy for the digital age. Perhaps we do not need regular elections, but just a way to trigger elections when enough of the population is no longer happy or when there is a stasis. Perhaps we need to re-think self-governance beyond the nation-state, to involve in the equation trans/supranational modes of governance. Somehow the mismatch between self-government aspirations of individuals who belong to different governance spheres and the corresponding dismal performance of democratic institutions or non-existence of those should be settled in a way that still resembles representative democracy.

September 11, 2001

Posted: May 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: law, memoir, personal, united states | No Comments »

The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden brought me back my memories of September 11, 2001.

I was at a lecture at the time, it was the beginning of my sophomore year at Concordia University Law School.  I had my birthday the day before, but I do not recall any big party or a hangover. It was a lecture of Public International Law by Maureen B Fitzmahan, one of the American permanent lecturers at Concordia. Suddenly, text messages started arriving that New York City is attacked and the whole city blown up, the skyline gone. Everyone was taken aback, but the lecture did go on, people who had relatives or friends in the US were suggested to go and try to contact their relatives. Concordia at the time was very international, with a few American students.

I was quite shocked and thought about the impact to the world when I was waiting for the bus to take me back to my parents flat in Õismäe from Viimsi, where this small private university was located. It was such a clear and beautiful, sunny day, but I wanted to return quickly to find out more what had happened. The world really seemed different.

There have been terrorist attacks before and after September 11, 2011, but not one of those had the same impact on me.

There’s an Estonian in every Apple Store

Posted: January 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: cool, united states | No Comments »

So, I am buying Apple’s new earphones from Apple Store in Green Hills, Nashville, and had this conversation with the salesperson:

Me: “I’ll have these”

Salesperson: “Do you pay with credit card?”

Me: “Yes” Hand over my Hansapank MasterCard Gold

Salesperson works with the machine, it shuts down, gets a new battery, asks my e-mail address, I give it to her.

Salesperson: “What’s your Zip-code”

Me: “I don’t live in the US”

Salesperson: “Oh, where are you from?”

Me: “Estonia, it is in Europe”

Salesperson: “Are you with these guys there, they are also from Estonia?”

And there was a couple from Estonia in the Apple Store in Green Hills mall in Nashville jsut before closing time buying a MacBook. We had a brief exchange, I told I was here for to visit Vanderbilt and they said they were just visiting as well. So, you can really meet Estonians everywhere in the world…

Sunday in New Orleans

Posted: January 12th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: new orleans, travel, united states | No Comments »

Sunday was a more subdued affair due to sudden arrival of colder weather (ca 12 C): Breakfast at Daisy Dukes (I had Cajun Omelet with Hash Browns and Biscuits), a little walk at the Riverside, watched Milk at Canal Place Cinema (Brilliant!), some shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue (bought shoes and pants on sale), had lunch at Mona’s Café and Deli in Faubourg Marigny.

P.S. Funny-named designer discovered at Saks Fifth Avenue: James Perse (perse means ass in Estonian).

Visiting the Big Easy

Posted: January 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: new orleans, travel, united states | No Comments »

I’ll write here a recap of events from Thursday and Friday.

Thrusday: Breakfast at the Commerce on the corner of Gravier and Camp in the CBD (huge Omlette with Cheddar, served with Grits and Pastries under 5 dollars), walk along the Magazine street to Uptown (lots of small speciality stores and boutiques), took the St. Charles Avenue streetcar back to Canal Street, in the evening had a delicious dinner at Antoine’s Restaurant.

Friday: Walked around French Market and the Shops at Canal Street, visited Café du Monde and the riverfront. Enjoyed live music at the Crazy Lobster near the river.

I added some photos from New Orleans to flickr.

New Orleans

Posted: January 8th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: cool, new orleans, united states, university | No Comments »

I have arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, the United States of America. After a gruelling, but quite problem-free 20+ hour flight and 20 hour sleep in the coolest hotel I have ever been to, I must say that I feel great about being here. Yesterday we (I am travelling with a colleague) did nothing except walking around the Vieux Carré a bit and had alligator and shrimp Po-Boys and local beer at the Pierre Maspero’s Restaurant.

We will be in New Orleans until Monday morning, after which we go to Nashville, Tennessee. I will write more soon.