“I’m Doing My Part”

In a bizarre real world actualization of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, the US Army (defying international law and US statute regarding the recruitment of children) has partnered with UBISOFT to promote a “realistic” (everything but the blood and guts, the pain and physical death) first person shooter called America’s Army. The game’s website provides a direct link to a US Army recruiting site, GoArmy.com.

When players walk into Army sponsored tournaments, the government knows more about them then they may suppose. The game records players’ data and statistics in a massive database called Andromeda, which records every move a player makes and links the information to their screen name.

According to a July 23rd truthout article by Michael Reagan titled US Military Recruits Children: “America’s Army” Video Game Violates International Law,

With this information tracking system, gameplay serves as a military aptitude tester, tracking overall kills, kills per hour, a player’s virtual career path, and other statistics. According to Colonel Wardynski, players who play for a long time and do extremely well may “just get an e-mail seeing if [they'd] like any additional information on the Army.” The “America’s Army” web site, however, is quick to point out that the Army respects players’ privacy. The Army claims that player information is not linked to a person’s real world identity unless that person volunteers their identity to a recruiter. But it is not clear that recruiters have to give any sort of discloser that a voluntary relinquishing of one’s name is also an invitation to a player’s statistical information. Answering seemingly innocent questions from recruiters in “America’s Army” chat rooms or at state fairs about one’s screen name may divulge personal information without intending to.

Reagan further reports,

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has found that Army use of the game, and its recruiting practice in general, violate international law. In May, the ACLU published a report that found the armed services “regularly target children under 17 for military recruitment. Department of Defense instruction to recruiters, the US military’s collection of information of hundreds of thousands of 16-year-olds, and military training corps for children as young as 11 reveal that students are targeted for recruitment as early as possible. By exposing children under 17 to military recruitment, the United States military violates the Optional Protocol.” The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, ratified by the Senate in December 2024, protects the rights of children under 16 from military recruitment and deployment to war. The US subsequently entered a binding declaration that raised the minimum age to 17, meaning any recruitment activity targeted at those under 17 years old is not allowed in the United States.

I recommend that you read the whole article. Me, I’m off to kill some bugs at the BugsMachine.

Caught my eye this morning…

Frank Wilczek’s new “baby”The Lightness of Being

I almost begged for a review copy, but then I saw that blurbs were all by other Nobel Prize winners and crack physicists and such. That took me down a peg. I intend to read it though. And I certainly WOULDN’T TURN DOWN a review copy. The sample chapter looks accessible enough for a layman like me. For example:

To begin, we build our world-models from strange raw materials: signal-processing tools “designed” by evolution to filter a universe swarming with information into a very few streams of incoming data.

Data streams? Their more familiar names are vision, hearing, smell, and so forth. From a modern point of view, vision is what samples the electromagnetic radiation that passes through a tiny hole in our eyes, picking up only a narrow rainbow of colors inside a much broader spectrum. Our hearing monitors air pressure at our eardrums, and smell provides a quirky chemical analysis of the air impinging on our nasal membranes. Other sensory systems give some rough information about the overall acceleration of our body (kinesthetic sense), temperatures and pressures over its surface (touch), a handful of crude measures of the chemical composition of matter on our tongue (taste), and a few other odds and ends.

Those sensory systems allowed our ancestors — just as they allow us — to construct a rich, dynamic model of the world, enabling them to respond effectively. The most important components of that world-model are more-or-less stable objects (such as other people, animals, plants, rocks, . . . the Sun, stars, clouds, . . .) some of them moving around, some dangerous, some good to eat, and others — a select and especially interesting few — desirable mates.

* * *

Jeneane Sessum has re-purposed her eponymous site, jeneane.net. She’s putting the “So?” in social media. This morning she has an interesting post about Techmeme and Duncan Riley. The way I read it, Riley used to work at TechCrunch (Michael Arrington’s property). Then he left. Now his scoops aren’t hitting Techmeme with the frequency that they did when he had Arrington’s backing. And, “So what?”

Sort of an interesting meta-commentary on silly valley stuff for those who might not read the inbred navel gazing blogs of the South Bay.

* * *

Dave Winer puts his money on Tim Kaine for Obama’s running mate. (That is, if the announcement happens today or tonight).

This should put an end to the endless Hillary discussion on Steve Gillmor’s News Gang.

Shark Week

Hot linked from peta2

Heather Hravilesky’s Salon piece on Shark Week piqued my interest.  The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has legs. Check out these other nods to the annual celebration…

Shark Week cupcakes

Flying Sharks

Ryan Seacrest let’s it all hang out. (Could have been a lot worse than a toe, Ryan.)

LAist has fine chops

Rita Lugo is stoked for Shark Week!

You could join the Shark Week Artists FlickR group!

Shark Week – the only thing between Basketball season and Football season that makes life worth living — thom marshall

Tulsa, Oklahoma is a long way from the beach, but they do their best to overcome their geographic challenge during Shark Week!

Not everybody’s Shark Week coincides with the Discovery Channel Shark Week.

More cupcakes

… and a long list of blog posts about shark week…

…and of course if you miss it on cable there are plenty of frightening clips right here on the tiny screen.

UPDATE: Sam Wolinsky checks in with this information about National Geographic’s contribution to Shark Week! Sam says,

Hey Frank,

Just saw your post on Shark Week and wanted to let you know that Nat Geo has some really cool content up on their site.

Researchers at National Geographic have been studying shark behavior for decades and you can see the fantastic results online. NationalGeographic.com has a hub dedicated to revealing everything about sharks. Check out photo galleries, feature stories and video clips all at http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/sharks-index.html.

[tags]shark week, ichthyology, cupcakes[/tags]


Too little too late, perhaps; but I think this will help explain what happened to the USA during the Bush Imperium.

[update: the original from last night was pulled... here's another copy, for as long as it lasts]

Women who write

I’ve been a Heather Havrilesky fan for some time, or maybe aficionado would be more accurate. I was happily reminded of HH’s great good work by RageBoy, in his hyperlink today to her column titled “Shark Week” at Salon. In that column she segues nicely from an informed discussion of sharks in the water to critical observations regarding the new season of Project Runway. She says,

But who are the big, predatory fish in this school of whimpering, insecure nail-biters? Personally, I fear Suede, the 37-year-old designer from Ohio who won last week’s cocktail dress challenge, the way I’d fear anyone who refers to himself repeatedly in the third person. “It is going to be a long night for Suede.” “Suede’s a bisexual Sagittarius and loves long walks on the beach!”

The “long walks on the beach” reference ties nicely to RageBoy’s observations regarding Joan Walsh, whose biography reads: “I love baseball, Bruce Springsteen, Stephen Colbert and long walks on the beach.” The reader is left with no more than some broad clues regarding sexual preference in that squib, and no indication of Ms. Walsh’s sign of the zodiac, but I think the parallel calls into question Locke’s assumption that Ms. Havrilesky wasn’t really writing in code about Joan Walsh. The “…long walks on the beach” cliche, floating out there like chum upon the waters of Salon, provides the reader with a happy juxtaposition between Hravilesky’s intentionality and Walsh’s carelessness.

[tags]the fonz in his leathers, Suede, Heather Havrilesky, Chris Locke[/tags]

NYT Fashion and Style

Cultural biases run deep.

Healthy Clavicles

Look for the Netroots conference and you’ll find coverage in the New York times Politics section. Look for BlogHer and you’ll find it in the women’s pages, the New York times Fashion and Style section.

Erin Kotecki Vest has already commented on this in her own space, Queen of Spain, and via the Huffington Post, but I thought I’d try to amplify her observation. Erin is, after all, a woman and so she is likely to be a bit shrill about these matters. (The humor impaired are invited to leave now.)

Kara Jesella, author of the New York Times piece on the 2024 BlogHer conference writes for Fashion & Style. Her March 27, 2024 article centering on a vegan strip club in Portland and addressing larger issues of sexism in the vegan/vegetarian community was in Fashion & Style, not Entertainment, Politics, or Health. Her article about MomsRising, Mom’s Mad. and She’s Organized (2/22/2007) did NOT appear in the Politics section.

Her article about librarianship (that linked to Jessamyn West’s librarian.net) did not appear in the Arts section, the Technology section, nor the Science section. It appeared in Fashion & Style. And her article about women’s clavicles did not appear in Health. Ms. Jesella’s work is bound for the Women’s Section at the New York Times, a section that they have renamed “Style” in a bow to political correctness without a gesture of respect for the cultural shift that mandated the name change.

Eventually, of course, the women’s movement dribbled off the back pages and into the news. Women at major papers and magazines filed class-action sex-discrimination suits. The ever-dependable housewife market collapsed. And so, in 1969, The Washington Post transformed For and About Women into the much-copied Style section. The Los Angeles Times introduced View in 1970, The Chicago Tribune started Tempo in 1971, and The New York Times made the transition with its Style pages several years after that. [emphasis added]

I’ve written about this subject here recently… “The New York Times on Web Girls.” Not much has changed since then. Writers on “the women’s beat” (usually women themselves) place their work in the Style section of the New York Times. BlogHer attracts writers on “the women’s beat.” A good NYT Politics story could have come out of BlogHer. A good NYT Technology story could have come out of BlogHer. A good NYT Business story could have come out of BlogHer.

Of course a NYT Business story did come out about BlogHer on July 17th. Headline: NBC Universal Posts $5 Million on BlogHer.… And another NYT Business story contained references to BlogHer: Slumber Parties Go Digital. In fact BlogHer public relations has managed to position their press release material in a lot of publications, but there remains the nagging question of why the serious business and technology writers aren’t in the room covering the BlogHer story as it unfolds. Could it be because the women tech writers don’t want to cover women per se, and the men tech writers might feel less than comfortable in the room? Perhaps, but if that’s the case then there are a lot of writers missing some dynamite feature stories.

[tags]blogher, jory des jardins, lisa stone, elisa camahort, gabrielle anwar, kara jesella, erin kotecki vest, healthy clavicles[/tags]

Hype Lite

I have slipped the surly bonds of mirth
And trod the blogs in muddy earth-bound shoes
Fallen face forward, tumbled to the earth
Shook my head to clear from it the booze
Inspired dreams of spinning fearful flight
No bloggers logged the roaring pounding pain
None sat on that volcano through the night
Alone my voice cut through the pouring rain
My keyboard melts, my screen’s on fire, I rue
The days, the nights I’ve wasted in this place
The illusory connection with a few
Hard cases, bereft, stripped of all historical
Significance, yet not devoid of grace
Opened my mouth to laugh, hysterical.

– with respectful acknowledgment to Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee

[tags]daddy oh daddy come home with me now, face on the blog room floor, it’s PR not propaganda, it’s news not PR[/tags]

Navigating the Dangerous Currents of Global Concern

Text and a video of Obama’s Berlin speech here.

It’s heroic, Homeric stuff, poetic and full of hope that we’ll soon round the corner and create a world without fear. The words as they’re spoken are laid out in dactyls, a waltz of a speech, not a march.

Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace.

This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without
nuclear weapons.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

* * *

Softly the Angelus sounded and over the roofs of the village
Columns of pale blue smoke like clouds of incense ascending
Rose from a hundred hearths the homes of peace and contentment
Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers
Dwelt in the love of God and of man Alike were they free from
Fear that reigns with the tyrant and envy the vice of republics
Neither locks had they to their doors nor bars to their windows

* * *

Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies

[tags]NOT pterodactyls you fool, dangerous currents, hope, global affirmations, Obama, Berlin[/tags]