best when viewed in low light


Word Games

Two new words to add to your vocabulary, y'all.

Clitorati, n (from the English clitoris + illuminati) =

1. the unnamed group of women who rule the planet, unbeknownst to the rest of us, as in "911 must have been planned by the Clitorati",

2. women who use their pussies to attract otherwise unwarranted attention, as in "Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and that trashy woman who married Tony Parker are all members of the clitorati, having inherited their roles from the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, and Helen of Troy".

Douchebantics, n (from the English douchebag + antics) =

1. the behavioral tendencies of douchebags when demonstrating their douchebag prowess to other douchebags or members of the desired sex, as in "please take the conversation about when you bought your first polo shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch and how real that makes you to another location - we've had enough of your douchbantics here".

See also douchebag.


IGE Goes Down

One of the SWI folks forwarded this amended complaint against IGE.

Signs of things to come: "This case involves IGE's calculated decision to reap substantial profits by knowingly interfering with, and substantially impairing and diminishing the intended use and enjoyment associated with consumer agreements between Blizzard Entertainment and subscribers to its virtual world called World of Warcraft."

Let's get this straight: IGE acted illegally because it reduced the amount of fun that WoW players were having!

Important things to note:
Just like with every other technology developed in the US, reaping substantial profits is only ok if you are following the rules.
Some of the rules you have to follow are informal, behavioral expectations that exist within a community or culture that are so embedded that no one feels the need to formalize or overtly enumerate them.
Virtual worlds will only survive if there is a separation between Real Life and Game Life, because the agreements between parties are different.
This case - win or lose - will at least partly define the legitimacy of actions taken by all companies and actors in the virtual world gaming community.

For those of us that believe in the fun of profit and the profits of fun, the line that's drawn will basically dictate our game designs, or relationships to our games, our expectations of the gaming community, and the extent to which RL invades our imaginations.

Keep an eye out. [All the news and documentation available here.]

Top Games of 2007

Geek Sugar's top 10:

World of Warcraft
The Sims
Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo 2
The Sims 2
Madden NFL 07
Grand Theft Auto
Counter-Strike: Source

[As if these weren't totally predictable.]

Here's the best response I've seen: "That's a pretty funny list. Half of those games didn't even come out this year. One could use that to support a variety of outlooks on the state of PC gaming."


Need More Women

Absolutely right, Matthew Jeffrey! We need more women in gaming.

And, in case you're looking for a woman to work at EA, I'm available.

But you'll have to improve your IP policies and your reputation as a gaming sweat shop before any self-respecting female gamer/designer is going to step through your door.

It ain't all about having free Mountain Dew in the office.

While we're on the topic of the representation of females in the gaming industry, the issue of breast size seems to have caught everyone's attention. [Any more than it already does?]

Kotaku takes the prize for best title ("Mammarial Musing: Boobs as Driving Force in Games Development") in referring to the evolution of the breast in video game rendering.

I seem to have lost the link to the article that spurred the recent conversation [unfortunate] but the real deal is that, as a woman, I LIKE playing with hot girls. I mean, if I have to look at a woman on the screen, I'd rather that she look hot while kicking your pathetic nerd ass. It's not just a male fantasy.

And let me broach an unfortunate but truly controversial issue: hot women are more valued by men, and because men are the ones in charge right now [or, at least, we'd like to keep you thinking that you are because you're a lot easier to deal with that way] so do women.

And the other side of it: Ever seen a man interact with a hot woman? Y'know how his eyes glaze over and he loses all rational thought? Yeah? Well, we do that on purpose. And, if you think that isn't fair, let's put it this way -

If you're going to use your superior physical force to make us do what you want, then we're going to use our pussies for all they're worth. You want us, you need us, and if you're distracted by big boobs [or a big ass, small waist, dainty ears, thin fingers, painted toes...], so much the better. Easier for us to pwn your ass.

In case you haven't seen enough:


The Media Murk Clears?

Here's today's article on the raped Australian Aborigine girl.

Here's the summary:
People are outraged!
Important people are outraged!
The judge's superfluous comments are questioned.
Is this racism??

[The jury's still out on that one.]

And This Is Convergence

Leave measuring engagement up to the scientists, since advertisers and marketers are still hooked on frequency.

Have the media monoliths caught onto the idea that the number of bodies in the room is probably less important than what those bodies are doing there?

Really, this is just a shout-out:Multimedia Games Create TV-Show Buzz

By EMILY STEEL December 7, 2007; Page B4

Last month, hundreds of people around the country spent hours of their free time on the Web and out on the streets in search of clues that would help them solve a complex puzzle called "Chain Factor." [This isn't exactly the spectacular figure Ms. Steel might have us believe - consider the number of people who spent hours of their free time looking at porn.]

It wasn't some school assignment or the latest experiment in community building [because we have so much evidence that people choose to spend hours on that shit, right?], it was part of an elaborate promotion by CBS Corp. A game by the same name had been featured during a recent episode of the show "Numb3rs," and the network was using the real-world version of the game to help drive traffic to the show.

Not a garden, a plant: CBS billboard is part of a coded game for fans of the show "Numb3rs."

CBS and other networks see games such as "Chain Factor" as a new way to market TV shows and experiment with non-TV spinoffs for those shows, which they can then pitch to advertisers. The networks hope to package those sponsorships in various ways. Companies might embed one of the game clues in an ad, or one of the company's products might be integrated into the contest. CBS, which says it has yet to sign any advertisers, is operating a similar game to drum up interest for the drama "Jericho" before it returns to the air next season."

It's not the first time a TV network or entertainment company has ginned up a game to build buzz for a show or product, but CBS's effort is different in that the games draw on all of its entertainment units, from billboards in its CBS Outdoor division to its mobile properties. CBS plans to use these kinds of sprawling online/offline games to promote more of its shows. [This is what I'm talking about. They should be doing this all the time.]

For the networks and the entertainment companies, the games can be expensive to create and time-consuming to manage. Some marketers say the potential payoff is dubious, as the games may appeal most to people who already are fans of the show or to folks who are more gamers than TV watchers.

For many "Chain Factor" players, including Brooke Thompson, a 36-year-old Web designer in Atlanta, the game was kicked off by email from a character in a "Numb3rs" episode named Spectre. Working collaboratively, players found clues and shared discoveries via an online forum. Some of the first clues were unearthed on via error messages that popped up when people were playing the site's main attraction, a Tetris-like game. Clues took them on a quest from a digital billboard at the Mall of America in Minnesota to ads on mobile Web sites.

The error messages directed players to send text messages with the word "chain" to the short code 38383. The response looked like jargon: "Check these HOT* stocks! FOFN, NDGPF, COFI, TTWO, EBKLF, DADVF, RTHTF and FSPX. Info? Go 2 . or txt Help to 38383 *Not real investment advice." The game was designed by the New York-based company area/code.

Some players managed to decode that message by recognizing the capitalized letters as stock-ticker symbols and then using those company names to unlock other clues. That, in turn, led them to billboards in certain cities, such as a large red-and-orange sign in San Francisco that showed a woman planting flowers and listed the Web address (The billboards serve no marketing purpose beyond the game.) [Then that's just a wasted opportunity.] After weeks, some players unlocked the final clue last weekend and received an email from Spectre declaring their victory.

The goal with scavenger-hunt-like games is to build buzz among an audience that is hard to reach through traditional advertising. Designing such intricate games often is an adventure of its own, costing anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

One challenge: pumping out the clues fast enough to keep up with the players. Unlike regularly scheduled TV shows where networks decide when to roll out each episode, players set the schedule with these games.

With a game affiliated with ABC's "Lost," Ms. Thompson and others were able to decipher within minutes all the computer code used to build the site, and they solved a number of clues before they were supposed to be solved.

"You would be all excited because you would find something...but then if the designers aren't prepared, it's frustrating," she said. "We were just kind of hanging around and waiting for the next clue to be given."

Said Michael Benson, executive vice president of marketing at Walt Disney's ABC Entertainment: "I was amazed how fast this stuff was consumed."

With CBS's game for "Jericho," a handful of people work around the clock to monitor the Web sites where players are posting their discoveries, trying to make sure the network doesn't fall behind.

While the games are aimed at creating new audiences for shows, that's not always the way it plays out. Sean Stacey, president of gaming site, says he fell asleep during the episode of "Numb3rs" and probably won't watch it again, but he did enjoy playing the game.

"The 'Chain Factor' game actually is more interesting," he said.

Write to Emily Steel at


Racism By Any Other Name

It's shocking to be confronted by racism in another country. It's not that it doesn't happen all the time, but it appears even more obvious, and vastly more egregious in someone else's society. Mostly because, as outsiders, we aren't seeing it from the same set of assumptions (similar though they may be).

What's really fascinating (and by "fascinating", I mean: watching a car crash or an assault while it's actually happening) about this article is not that there was a 10 year old Aboriginal (read: black) girl raped by a gang of rich white boys, or that the judge appeared to let the perpetrators off with barely a rap on the knuckle, but that the "news report" on it is so clearly written to bias our opinions. To voice the liberal assumption of unfair interpretation of the evidence, and then a race- or class-based judicial decision.

With media like this, it doesn't even matter what the facts actually are!

And with deeply ingrained racism like this, it doesn't even matter what the crime is!

[It reminds me of the punchline from this early South Park episode. Preview from ComCent below.]


Arden Sucks, JK

So, I've let yet another week slip away without recording the relevant news.

I did have a major personal revelation, though! The only problem is that now I can't have one of those without Schlick standing in the kitchen at the back of my brain, banging a ladle and screaming "It's not a revelation! It's re-cognition!" [Ack! They call this "higher" "education".]

Ah, Arden! It's no fun!The gift of bard... [ahem] bald honesty is that other people can understand your little slice of reality, and can enter it. And I don't mean that in the strictly virtual way.

By "admitting" to the [questionable] failure of Arden, Castronova has allowed us all into the reality of doing research in virtual worlds. Or trying to. Or whatever. Because the goal - build an educational/entertaining virtual world, create social, economic and narrative systems that are persistent and simultaneously manipulatable by the all-seeing, all-dancing Game Design God to further the goals of social science research - is almost unachievable when people who supposedly know what they're doing are doing it!

You try doing that with $240K and a couple of grad students.
And now we know.

What this means, of course, is that the existing Game Design Gods need to chill the fuck out a little and let researchers into their worlds. And more GDGs need to build games that are persistent, but have narratives that incorporate worldwide structural changes. And social scientists need to design rubrics for study - qualitative and quantitative. And we need to make games that are more fun in different ways - but that's a whole other world.


Nepotism Is The Best!

I wish my dad were Rupert Murdoch!

(Except, then my dad would be Rupert Murdoch.)

But, I can't fault his strategy. I mean, imagine what happens when James fucks up!

Ring, ring!
James: This is James Murdoch.
Rupert: Boy, that was a really stupid thing you just did buying ________!
James: Gee, Dad, I'm really sorry about that.
Rupert: Sorry? Sorry isn't good enough! Now do what I tell you, or else!
James: Why should I?
Rupert: Boy, I brought you into this job, and I can take you out of it!


Star Wars Marathon

Last night, the Anthropologist [who I will now call Chief] hosted a Star Wars marathon party, followed by the Grace vs Harris Hax mud wrestle to determine (objectively, of course) whether Episodes I-III are truly a part of the Star Wars mythology.

[I won.]

The best part of the marathon was the commercials:

[I've only been able to find embedded versions of previews for some. Forgive me. The URLs are included.]

[Whole film here]

Gangsta Rap (Original)

[Whole film here]

Lego Darth directing the Clone LSO

Star Wars: The Election Edition [It's from Australia]

Silent Star Wars

Virtual Exodus

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but speaking of Ted's vision:
He's just published a new book!

Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun is Changing Reality

Get it! [Amazon, BN]

Here's the announcement on TerraNova

Synthetic Worlds Initiative, Part I

Initiative is a hard thing to hold on to, especially when things don't go the way you want them to.

This post on 3 point D about the Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University gives a great description of the vision formed and (partially) realized by Ted Castronova.

Only, they're a bit late off the line. Since the SWI was started, and their three-point platform formalized, a couple things have happened that no one anticipated:

1. Research in virtual worlds has now become synonymous (for all the wrong reasons) with Second Life. [There's nothing wrong with SL, but it's not the only place where humans are living online. The myopic nature of academia assumes a lot.]

2. Building a synthetic world takes money. LOTS of money, and the MacArthur Foundation (and many others) really aren't up to the task of $30 million projects. And, really, neither is IU.

3. Communities drive ideas forward as consumers, but communities aren't created at conferences. Plus, there's a passionate, involved and curious community living online already - and some of them are academics, researchers, scientists, inquirers...

None of these are the fault of the SWI. The vision and the man behind it are years before their time - maybe a few too many years ahead when the plan was being conceived. Look at Buckminster Fuller.

A little future stuck in the eyes is a good thing, but it's a lot harder to communicate with the rest of the planet from there, because most of us are living in the past.


Pass It On

More links from the weirdos I know:

The latest stats on virtual world gaming

Some guy's hunch about the false promise of a Google 3D social networking environment

Ah, the great divide of virtual/real property (arguably, a virtual reality in itself)

Raph's strategy for distinguishing between the two

Is this what they mean by convergence? [Hope not]

Games are good for girls!

Virtual museums to stratify your virtual appreciation for virtual art

Fat camp for gamers

Check it out! We can make games crazier than we are!

I love mainstream media articles about gaming, it's so romantic. Here's one on Liverpool in SL - because who wants to go to Liverpool for real? [jk]

A few words on evolutionary psychology: genetic shopping? a mother's love is altruistic?

Video from TED: Dan Dennett talks universal memes

And a little "whoa!"


And the Kitchen Sink

From Typewriter Tackleberry: A world for those people who make friends online, and want to live there. [Crazies]

From Greg Lastowka, through the Castronova: Games for gamers that don't care about winning, they just want to party!
[Telegram, USA Today, meet Metaplace]

From Fzizzle: A PhWiiiii!
[Finally! Something to do with the rest of my life!]


I'm Stuffed!

While I was in a tryptophan-induced stupor (which I can't think of without reference to The Merv Griffin Show episode of Seinfeld), a bunch of stuff happened.

Here's the summary:

A spinning woman can tell which side of your brain you're using.

Everquest: Best game ever, or just can't get over it?

If you can't, at least there's a cure for your addiction.

Don't worry, at least our brains can tell the difference between "real life" and "a game".


Game Idea For The Day


"Fuck better than ever"

A virtual world fantasy-reality simulation, for use with teledildonics.


That's Convergence

Maybe Jenkins is right about "convergence". Since I haven't absorbed more than what one acquires on the average skim, then he might be saying a lot of good stuff.

But when media people talk about convergence, they usually mean shit like character profiles from a TV show on their network website, or click-to-interact DVD special features. Rarely are they so relevant as Lucas's Star Wars: Clone Wars series, or the famed ARG for the film "AI".

Rarely do we see platform convergence in media that's consumer demanded, rather than Marketing Department-generated. Here's a good example.


Virtually Arresting

This is the moment. Remember it well.

The first instance of a person being arrested for a civil crime conducted entirely within a virtual world.

This is the enforcement of property rights in a virtual world space.

Property rights which are, in themselves, virtual. Ha.

Efficient Cloning Coming Soon

The interests and authority of the almighty Science has culminated in the greatest example of human naivete.

We're going to make clones!

And not just inefficient clones from human embryos.

We're going all the way. where?


Inside The Matrix

Look closely.
That's Ted right there in the suit, looking like the 4th member of the bumbling nihilist kidnappers in Big Lebowski.

Here's the article. (En francais.)


Smack Those Bitches Up

First, fake blond is fake blond, and if the fashion police doesn't stop all you black-haired wannabes for that, they need to reassess their priorities.

In a hundred years from now, will Iran have benefited from an image-obsessed, materialistic, "individualistic" Western fashion culture? Not so sure.

I don't, by any means, champion the restriction of self-expression in any way, but I can understand the goals of the spiritual and social leaders in Iran. Let's just say, though I don't support the method, I think they have a point.

NO ONE needs to spend as much money as we do on our appearance. In fact, in this obsession with our bodies as the sign-post for all that we are, we have subverted many real attempts to express that which is truly unique and worthwhile in each of us.

There are plenty of feminists who decry the image-obsession of Western culture. But they do have other ways to draw attention to their individuality and ideas.

I would still interpret this as evidence of an anachronistic mentality running scared. Keep running.

Gaming Game Economics

There's a lot of talk around the SWI cooler about incentivizing gaming fun through the economic system. Great idea!

(It'd be awesome if RL economists were thinking like that, btw.)

There are a lot of unforseen problems, because it's almost impossible to project some factor for the desirability of a particular in-game tool/toy.

That, and they rarely do the math.

Damion Schubert has an excellent and straightforward example of what NOT to do to your players. (In language for all us non-economists.)


Choice Is Not An Illusion

But the illusion of choice is the best tool of control ever used by man.

In honor of The (Noble) Lie (not this one, this one) I've decided to found the Don't Vote campaign.

As a side note: I just checked the availability of the URL "" - see the redirection for yourself; and as a perfect complement, check the price of the closest alternatives.

This one goes out to all you Sunday afternoon conspiracy theorists, and others who believe that what They tell you isn't necessarily True (and by "true" I mean...)

It's just a game.


Games For Good

More proof that gaming is good for the world!

The World Food Program of the UN launched a vocabulary game in October that buys grains of rice for the people who need it.

It's called Free Rice.They've generated enough to feed 50,000 people for a day, or 1bn grains of rice. (In the amount of time I played - like, 30 seconds - I donated 150 grains of rice!)

This is just the beginning of what game interfaces/strategies can do for the world.

I'm still waiting for:
Love World - the game that teaches you how to fall in love
Peace World - the game that teaches world leaders how to use diplomacy and growth-oriented economics to resolve disputes in a multilateral political universe
Kid World - the game that teaches over-35s to relate to people under the age of 18, especially tools for exercising authority without manipulation, respecting the tastes and ideas of the youth; includes a Mentoring expansion pack
Poverty World - the game that teaches you how to live on less than $1 a day
Tolerance World - the game that teaches you how to cooperate with people who fiercely oppose all of your most deeply-held values
No(Wo)Mans World - the game where gender and sexual preferences are obsolete and roles are irrelevant


Against All Odds

Proof that the future of media is gaming. Even the UN is getting into it!I always wanted to be a refugee!

Women Bound

Democracy, so what?

Call it what you like. Cooperation is key.

Opening the door to individual empowerment and the potential of our species to anticipate and motivate change, however that looks, can only happen with everyone's participation.

So, enough with the male domination already!
(Phew! That didn't take long.)


You Say Slow Growth, I Say Recession

But a word is just a word, right? A recession by any other name would decrease the immense buying power of US consumers, the value of the currency, and the productivity of all industries.

I know I used to make fun of Alan Greenspan being a propped-up corpse like Weekend At Bernie's or Bob Barker, but now I miss the old cadaver.Bernanke doesn't inspire anything but skepticism, and a suspicion that the administration's propaganda machine created him in CGI and then spits out whatever bullshit necessary to make people spend on credit.

And that would be ok, if our fantasies of world domination were anything other than fantasies. Or inevitably transient.


Damion Schubert's Life of the Game

6 "Oh my God"s
3 "Holy shit!"s,
1 "No fucking way!!"
(within the first 5 minutes)
= Mega Hit Game

Damion's talk is called "The Zen of Online Game Design". (Here's the ppt) He's currently designing something Top Secret for Bioware

Since zen is an attempt to free oneself from concepts, and to see the world directly, how can that happen in contemporary (virtual) reality? (That's a whole other can o' worms.) But Damion's take is that enlightenment can only come through experience, meditation and understanding. Here's what he means...

Some kernels of wisdom:
Designers! Keep your heads in the game!
Loving an MMO can be a long term commitment, so evaluate the potential of your chosen partner like you would a human.
There are lots of reasons to leave, so don't make more!
Love your hard core - you want people emotionally, temporally, and financially invested. (Just not too hardcore.)
Your world is your culture. Be aware and be in control of it.
Find balance between the elements of Worldliness (realism, immersion), Gameyness (limitations, levels), and Community (competition, cooperation).

MMO Industry 3Rs:
Recruitment (of customers)
Reduction (of costs of services)

Some of my tangential thoughts:
Maybe we need to build in skills that people can apply in RL (and know it).
Maybe there's a way to ramp skills so that the "beginning" is not necessarily easy, and doesn't require feeling like such a n00b (without being too hard).

Here's more from Damion.


Imagination Over

Funny how two posts in one day can really be about the same exact thing!

Like this, followed by this:

Just Between Us

Awww. I love to see when world leaders find their political soulmate. Just like these two little peas.
How could they not get along? They're both spoiled princelings, motivated by extremist nationalism, and willing to oppress any and all who stand in the way of unencumbered phallic domination.



Sex Sells, But The Dollar Doesn't Buy It

Gisele is smarter than she looks. Or, rather, she's as smart as she looks.

She won't sell herself in dollars anymore because, really, who wants dollars when they won't even buy you a cup of coffee in Europe?

I think we should all make like Jim Rogers and sell out to the Chinese yuan. Don't worry, the Communists will take care of everything.

(Also, props to the BBC for the best way to sneak economics into your breakfast cereal.)


What Is Real?

What's there to say other than: this is brilliant TV.

You Mean Soap?

At 2:00:00:

In the battle against resilient bacteria, everyone is looking for a mutation-proof cure. But even with the millions in R&D, they still can't get past the basics.

Plus, don't ask the soap industry! They're the ones that made the personal hygiene industry into a vacuum of disposable income (the "Health & Personal Care" sector, NAICS 446, generates sales around $1.2 billion annually, and that's from 2002 statistics).



This just proves that the UN is useless. They're "alarmed"?

Israel has cut now cut off all forms of post-primitive energy from Gaza (and it's not the first time). THIS is the real plan for the Palestinians.

Where is Condi? Where is the super-militant Bush administration? Where is the US, who just made a Palestinian state their next "top priority"?


Che Ironic

Riddle me this, readers:

How did it come about that Che Guevara's hair was SOLD in an AUCTION?Che's soul weeps.

Better Than Reality

Dr. Castronova strikes again! This time with his sidekick, the Canadian Wonder Mark Bell.

Their argument, in a nutshell: life sucks! live your fantasies in a virtual world!

More Castro.


Size Matters

Brain size, that is. Or so the polygenists thought.
Interestingly, by criticizing the social and political context of scientific knowledge and discovery, Gould also opens us up to the critique of what we now consider to be truth - that equality (a concept, just like intelligence or inferiority) is a similarly fallible presumption.

But this suggestion is unacceptable in mainstream thought - scientific or otherwise - so we reject this as "not truth".

But if science does not progress inevitably, albeit with mistaken intellectual diversions, towards an objective truth - we can call this scientific evolution - then is our contemporary scientific data simply an aesthetically pleasing explanation for the world in which we now live?

Virtual World Economics

Finally! A replacement for the now-defunct

Here we have

Castro Goes to Washington

Mr. Castronova, futurist (and social scientist) extraordinaire, went to good old Georgetown University the other day and rocked their (virtual) world!

His basic premise: fantasy life, as found in synthetic worlds, fills a deep need for humans - one we lost, arguably, along with an institutionalized belief in God or other supernatural beings.

Religious or no, humans want to find meaning. And for some of us, quantum physics isn't enough.

All's Fair

In war, or so they say.

Then that begs the question: Are Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza at war? Not exactly.

But according to Israel, they don't have to be at war to treat the entire Gaza strip like a slave ship. I'm not in favor of continuous bombing of Israeli settlements, but cutting electricity off from an entire region of people? That's equivalent to "bombing them back to the stone age".

This would be an appropriate time for the US - now, officially in favor of a Palestinian state - to step up the protection of its new proto-democratic pet underdogs.
Here's an alternate, and self-stated "radical" opinion. It's frighteningly more reasonable than the Bush administration's sudden peace-making frenzy.


Fire! Fire!

John McPhee must be getting telegrams from the future.

In 1990, he wrote an extraordinarily prescient book called The Control of Nature, in which he describes three natural phenomena that, try as we might, we humans can NOT control.

The first is about the endless (and increasingly impossible) battle against the natural course of the Mississippi river. He discusses the system of levees in the delta, and has quotes from multiple employees of the Army Corps of Engineers who claim that a high storm surge (like the one in a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane) will destroy their carefully laid plans.
The second is about the endless expansion of Los Angeles into the surrounding hills, which destroys the native plantlife and undermines the integrity of nature's cycle of construction and destruction. The cycle begins and ends with raging wildfires, which clear out the dead plant matter and deposit mineral-rich soot into the earth. The hardy and fire-resistant plants that survive hold that soil together in the face of the rains that follow. Without these plants (replaced, as they often are, by roads, houses, etc) the soil absorbs the water, but can not hold it in place, and so begin the mud & rock slides and flooding.

All I'm saying is, you think this is bad?
Wait til it rains.


Set It Off

I chose this article title because the increasing visibility of politically influential women in recent media coverage begs two questions - both addressed fairly well (albeit superficially) by the film.

1. Do women have different motives for acquiring power than men do?

2. If so, why do they attempt to acquire it through similar means?


Guess Who's Coming To DC

Is that a brown man on the cover of the New York Times?

No way!

Next thing you know, we'll have a woman running the country.

That's a joke, right?

It's Inevitable

Oil at $100 a barrel.

I told you so. (Well, not you, but I told him.)

It's close and getting closer.
If I had a dollar for every dollar I would have made if I had invested...


Didn't See That Coming

First this:
Now chaos (the video):
Benazir Bhutto returns to Pakistan! And 40 minutes later over a hundred people are dead.
Someone objected?

Dubai Rules!

From a reader:

have you seen this shit?


Iraq On, Turkey!

Good news! Now the persecution of Kurds (this is also relevant) by the Turkish government can overlap with the continuing Western infringement of Iraqi freedoms!Yes! Finally, someone can take the burden off US!

Sleep With The Fishes

Not that we need any more evidence for the coming apocalypse:
Now we can't even eat sushi in good conscience!


Get A Second Life!

You, too, can be in the vanguard of digital education!
Just do what Sarah Robbins does!Just kidding, you actually have to be a talented teacher, technology won't save you.

Agenda Unveiled

The Bush administration has been moving towards official support for a Palestinian state for a while, and since I consider it lucky that They ever reveal the underlying agenda for their inscrutable foreign policy, I'll take it. Better late (and politically underhanded) than never.

Brilliant that in the Middle Eastern press, this looks a little different:


Good For Gore

Nobel Peace Prize goes to Al Gore and the UN climate panel. (We even get a picture of Al, looking the visionary.)

Great! Now what do we plan to DO about it?


Fuck The Alliance

WoW, the source of anti-Alliance racism.

So, guy, tell us how you really feel.


End It All!

No, really. Just close all the schools, stop torturing the children, and let them learn.
Or they'll just go crazy and kill everyone.

From the NYT:

October 10, 2007

Gunman Opens Fire at Cleveland High School

A student opened fire inside a Cleveland high school today, shooting and wounding several people and creating moments of sheer terror for students, school officials and parents. He then apparently shot and killed himself, The Associated Press reported, citing police officials.

Mayor Frank Jackson said the injured included two male students and two male adults, who suffered gunshot wounds, and a 14-year old girl who hurt her knee while trying to escape the chaos that erupted in the school as word of the shootings spread.

"All the children are in stable, good condition," Mr. Jackson said outside the school, SuccessTech Academy, in downtown Cleveland, referring to the injured. He added that the two injured adults were in a more "elevated" condition.

"They have the shooter," he said of the police, who descended on the school shortly after 1 p.m. Eastern time. In his brief remarks to reporters, the mayor provided few other details about the shooter, or about how the incident ended.

The Cleveland television station WOIO-19 and other local news media reported that the gunman may have been a 14-year-old student, and that he died after a brief manhunt by police inside the school, which is housed on several floors of an office building on Lakeside Avenue.

Several students and parents told reporters that the shooter had recently been suspended from the school, and returned today with weapons.

“The student had two guns, one in each hand, and fired them both while walking down the hallway,” Channel 19 reported.

Televised scenes outside the school showed dozens of police cars, SWAT team members running in and terrified parents being reunited with their children coming out of the school. Gurneys were seen being wheeled out of the school and loaded into ambulances.

One student told The A.P. that she heard the principal say “Code Blue” over the public address system, and that prompted students to start running. Others said that word of the violence spread quickly from student to student in cellphone calls and text messages.

Doneisha LeVert said she hid in a closet in the building with some of her friends, The A.P. reported.

Ronnell Jackson, 15, told the news agency that he had ducked out of the door of the school when he saw the shooter running down the hall.

“He was about to shoot me, but I got out just in time,” he said. “He was aiming at me — I got out just in time.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on its web site that city police were called to the school at 1:15 p.m. Eastern time and that paramedics were summoned to Room 310, where one person was shot, and to Room 415, where another was shot in the lower chest.

SuccessTech is a nontraditional public high school whose mission, according to its web site, is “Problem-based service learning with an emphasis on technology.”

It occupies the third, fourth and fifth floors in a sprawling building that also houses some administrative offices. The school building is near the city’s police headquarters.


Let Sprinting Dogs Lie

Sometimes it's not necessary to enforce the rules to the letter. Sometimes it's better to let the past be what it was, with all the attendant fallacies of memory and myth.

Such is the case with Marion Jones, who has been forced to return her Olympic medals because she was using some variation of steroids during the 2000 Sydney games.

I remember that summer, and I remember Marion Jones, and I want to remember her as a highly trained athlete who runs with grace and determination. And that doesn't change even with all the roids in the world.

Demonizing this woman for partaking in any and all means necessary to WIN is one of the most undermining and counterproductive messages our culture sends: WIN at all costs, but don't break the RULES, except for when you get away with breaking the rules, and then it's ok.


It's Alive!

And the only tool we'll really need to bring on the 21st century open society.

That's right. The $100 Laptop - in reality the $188 laptop - will be on sale starting next month. It's got everything you want and more, and it has the chance to harness the potential of the informationally disenfranchised masses.

Be scared.

In the past...