Thursday, January 31, 2013

David Boote's montage of his winter break in England

Freshman David Boote's creative winter break blog --- click on the image pages to enlarge!
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Cameron Wilson shares a paper entitled Oman and its Unusual Stability

Editor's Note --- Junior Cameron Wilson shares a Dec. 2012 paper entitled "Oman and its unusual stability", written for a Stanford class entitled "Decoding the Arab Spring".  Below is an excerpt from the paper --- Click here to read the entire 7-page paper which sheds light on a part of the world few Americans know anything about.
Oman is a small country located on the southeastern corner of the Arabian peninsula. It shares borders with Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Its small population, weak military, and generally pacifist tendencies ensure that it receives little coverage in the western media. Oman’s government, based in the capital city of Muscat, has been remarkably stable over the last several decades, with Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said coming to power in 1970 --when he seized power from his father-- and ruling as a dictator ever since. The stability he has created is even more impressive given the recent Arab Spring uprisings in countries such as Egypt and Libya and the fact that al Said holds almost complete power over Oman. This paper will analyze the strategies that the Sultan has used to create stability and avoid the fate, thus far at least, of other dictators in the Arab world. Through these strategic moves, he has successfully maintained relations with western powers such as the United States, while keeping cordial relations with his neighboring countries, among the most powerful in the Middle East. In contrast to other dictators of the region, Al Said has earned the respect and loyalty of his people by improving quality of life and expanding human rights. This has resulted in al Said easily maintaining, in some cases even consolidating, his power throughout the course of the Arab Spring.
            The roots of Oman’s friendly relations with the United States were cultivated nearly 200 years ago. In 1841, Oman was the first country in the Middle East to recognize the newly formed United States as a sovereign nation. From this beginning the two countries have forged a successful record of diplomatic cooperation. Since al Said came to power in 1970 Oman has supported US initiatives in the Middle East. Most notably, Oman was the only country in the region to support Egypt in ratifying the Camp David Accords in 1978. At the time, other nations in the Arab League were pushing to expel Egypt for this act of diplomacy which they saw as a betrayal of Arab principles. Oman supported Egypt in signing the accords while arguing for their continued inclusion in the Arab League. Al Said also allows the United States the use of an air base in southwest Oman. The base in Thumrait has become a hub for reconnaissance aircraft that are used to monitor activities in nearby Iran. 
           In recent years, Oman has been influential in securing the release of western travelers from complex judicial systems in other Middle Eastern nations. In late 2009, three American hikers mistakenly crossed from Iraq into Iran. They were arrested and two were later sentenced to eight years in Iranian prison on counts of espionage. In the fall of 2011, Omani officials brokered their release and flew the hikers from Iran to Muscat before ultimately returning them to the United States.[1] President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both issued statements in which they thanked the Sultan for his country’s role in securing the safe release of the American hikers. A similar situation arose in November of 2011 when three French aid workers were taken into custody by a Yemeni affiliate of al-Qaeda. Omani officials were able to negotiate with a Yemeni businessman so that he could pay the ransom demanded to recover the aid workers.[2] Upon their release, they were driven to Muscat before taking flights to France. Then president of France Nicolas Sarkozy quickly issued a statement thanking Oman for its role in the aid workers’ safe recovery. Through these acts of diplomacy, Oman has been able to maintain strong alliances with several western powers.

[1] U.S. Hikers Released From Iranian Prison, Arrive in Oman. Fox News
[2] Friedman, Uri. Oman: The World’s hostage negotiator.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dominick Francks writes about 3 memorable experiences in Fall quarter

My first quarter as a member of the golf team has been a whirlwind, full of unforgettable experiences and adjustments to a new situation. As I look back on that first quarter, there are countless important moments that come to mind, but for the purposes of this post, I’d like to share my top 3. So with that, here are my top 3 moments of the 2012 fall:

1.     Turnberry

Our entire trip to Scotland was something that I won’t ever forget, and
before I say any more I’d like to thank all of the donors that accompanied us and helped make our trip possible. We had an absolute blast, and we were very fortunate to have the opportunity. My most memorable moment from the trip was our opening round, on the Ailsa course at the Turnberry resort. We had just completed a marathon flight, and as I stood on the 9th tee at Turnberry, on the edge of the sea, it hit me that we were really here. Here’s a picture on that breathtaking 9th tee:

2.    Working on the range after our first round of the U.S. Collegiate in Georgia

               This moment was important to me because it marked a turning point
in the way that I approached rounds of tournament golf. I shot an 82 in the first round in Georgia, and I was questioning my shot selection all day. Coach Rowe and I worked on developing a focused mental pre-shot routine that would get me into the proper mental state over each shot. I came back to shoot two solid rounds to help the team gain 10 spots in the final two rounds, and I felt more comfortable on the golf course for the rest of the fall.

3.  The 16th tee at Cypress Point in the final round 

                      Our experience at the Cypress Point Club at the Stanford Classic was another amazing opportunity. The course was magnificent, and the entire tournament was top-notch. I’d also like to thank the members of Cypress Point that helped to make this tournament possible, because it was incredible. During the final round of singles, I came to the 16th tee 3 down to Johnathan Schnitzer of Texas. It was so foggy out that the green was completely shrouded in fog. We had to aim our crucial tee shots over a hazard stake at the edge of the tee box. The feeling of watching your tee shot sail into the abyss was certainly a unique one.

I can’t wait for the spring and to continue our pursuit of a national championship!

Dominick Francks

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shane Lebow's Paper "Is Golf Really Green"?

Editor's Note --- Junior Shane Lebow shares a thoughtful and challenging paper he wrote in 2012 for a school class - his paper is about environmental issues facing golf courses everywhere.  An excerpt is included below followed by a link to his entire 13-page paper (Note - it's a large 2.4 Mb file). 
Is Golf Really Green?
            When most people think of a golf course, they immediately think of green grass, rolling hills, and a natural setting. Since the 16th century people have been attracted to golf because the challenge of the game and the connection created with the surrounding environment. However, with the transformation of golf courses over the last 100 years, golf has moved away from this harmonious relationship with nature. Golf courses have emerged as a leader in making our planet less eco-friendly and less “green.”  Environmentally damaging design and maintenance practices have disrupted wildlife habitats and continue to deplete our natural resources. In a time of increasing environmental instability, golf in its present form is yet another roadblock in the path towards a sustainable world. As a self-proclaimed “environmentalist” and a golfer myself, I want to see the sport I love have a positive environmental impact. Golf can be a sustainable sport that peacefully coexists with the environment; however, it takes smart ecological planning and management. In my analysis of golf course maintenance I will examine both the environmental problems and solutions for the golf industry. Ultimately, the sustainability and future of golf lies directly in the hands of golfers themselves. The golfer’s perception of the “perfect” golf course has to change in order for golf to continue to grow and even exist in our world.
            With technological advancements and more effective maintenance practices, golfers have come to expect a certain quality in the golf course they are paying to play. They expect to find vibrant grass, interesting design, and impeccable playing conditions. This expectation fuels competition between golf courses and has allowed golf to become the 65 billion dollar industry that it is today. But this competition has also started a maintenance arms race that increasingly sacrifices the environment for the cause of having the most “perfect” golf course. Water, pesticide, fertilizer, and land use have all exponentially increased in the 20th century solely because this new perception of what a golf course should look like.