To track or not to track

If you haven’t heard, the internet privacy wars are gearing up to what could be Armageddon for advertisers and commercial data collectors. With Microsoft automatically setting the “Do Not Track” option “On” in its latest version of Internet Explorer 10 as many as 43 percent of internet browsers may stop reporting customer information to merchandisers and other snoopers.  As discussed recently in the New York Times, “The advent of “Do Not Track” threatens the barter system wherein consumers allow sites and third-party ad networks to collect information about their online activities in exchange for open access to maps, e-mail, games, music, social networks and whatnot. Marketers have been fighting to preserve this arrangement, saying that collecting consumer data powers effective advertising tailored to a user’s tastes. In turn, according to this argument, those tailored ads enable smaller sites to thrive and provide rich content.” Continue reading “To track or not to track”

Fatwa issued against Yousafzai shooters

A group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan have issued a fatwa against the Taliban assailants who tried to kill a 14-year-old girl, famous for campaigning for the right of young females to an education. As reported in The Guardian, “The Islamic scholars from the Sunni Ittehad Council publicly denounced attempts by the Pakistani Taliban to mount religious justifications for the shooting of Malala Yousafzai and two of her classmates as they sat inside a school bus on Tuesday. Hamid Saeed Kazmi, a former religious affairs minister, replied that Islam “holds the killing of one innocent person as killing the entirety of humanity”. There was continued outrage over the attack, which has left Yousafzai in a critical condition at a Pakistani military hospital after surgery to remove a bullet from near her spinal cord. Authorities are offering a reward of $100,000 for the capture of her attackers. Continue reading “Fatwa issued against Yousafzai shooters”

Fibber might change your mind

There are lots of theories about how people get wrong-headed ideas or vote against their own interests. Now game designers are trying to do something about it. Fibber is a game about political deception and voter self-awareness. It’s a political “strip guessing” game where players try to determine whether the candidates for the American presidential election of 2012 are telling facts or fiction. The goal of the game is to raise self-awareness and personal fact checking in a world inundated with misleading political ads, social media, and personal bias. Fibber was created by Seek Change, an organization dedicated to using technology to advance self-empowerment and personal well-being. Continue reading “Fibber might change your mind”

Becoming transreal

Here is the scenario. You find yourself in a virtual game-world where you can be anything you want––say, a princess, a superhero, or maybe a dragon. Enter Micha Cárdenas.  The question is this: in assuming a new identity, are you really leaving behind the actual “you”? Nearly two decades ago, a now-famous New Yorker cartoon made popular the adage, “On the internet, no one knows you are a dog,” referencing the presumed demarcation between virtual and real personas. But this begs the question of where the expression of the self resides, inasmuch as identity is a largely mental process. Continue reading “Becoming transreal”

Let the debate drinking games begin

Forget about The Hunger Games. The latest craze sweeping the nation is Debate Drinking Games. Blame it on peer pressure, political anxiety, or simply the desire to party, but a new phenomenon has appeared in the current election cycle. Every time Obama says “millionaire” or Romney mentions “private sector,” you toss back a shot. And if you start to lose track after a few rounds, just keep your eyes on Twitter, which has become an necessity in the drinking game phenomenon. Blame the new fad on apathy or political anxiety, but the new excuse for binge drinking has taken off like a rocket on college campuses, where health experts have already proclaimed an alarming increase in alcohol consumption in recent years. Continue reading “Let the debate drinking games begin”

The inside job

At one moment in the 2012 presidential campaign season, President Obama lamented the difficulty of “changing Washington from the inside” in direct reference to the “Hope” and “Change” themes that had brought him into office in 2008. Of course, the desperate Romney immediately seized on this as an acknowledgement of Obama’s failure to fulfill election promises, declaring that  Obama’s remarks signaled the President’s final surrender in arguments over his competence. If we think of recurring “inside/outside” Washington rhetoric in terms of worlding, it’s worth remembering that binary conventions have always been the devil in definitions of world systems. Continue reading “The inside job”

What will we tell the children?

The U.S. has the highest child poverty rate of any country in the developed world. That means right now, not some abstract national deficit future. Right now millions of kids are hungry, sick, living in economically stressed homes, attending rotten schools­­ ­­–– and not getting talked about because they fall outside the noble “middle class.”  According to a recent article in the New York Times, “federal expenditures on children — including everything from their share of Medicaid and the earned-income tax credit to targeted efforts like child nutrition and education programs — fell one percent last year and will fall an additional four percent this year, to $428 billion, according to estimates by the Urban Institute based on the Congressional Budget Office’s projections.”  Yet aside from advocacy from few groups like Nuns of the Bus, the actual plight of children is getting short shrift in the current election cycle.  The Times’ “Cutbacks and the Fate of the Young” contrasts Romney’s assertions of a “moral responsibility” to protect the inheritance of the nation’s kids from debt with his winner-take-all approach to economics more generally, especially in light of his running-mate’s famously draconian budget. Continue reading “What will we tell the children?”

Has the gaming bubble burst?

 

By some reports in the financial sector, the meteoric ascent of computer games in the 2000s has officially ended, with sales of titles like Diablo and World of Warcraft dropping 28% in the past two years. The New York Times recently ran a story comparing gaming today to the dot-com phenomenon of the 1990s, as it now “ has found itself teetering at the edge of a financial cliff.”  But closer examination of the situation reveals that while big-name console games have indeed sold less, the number of people playing games on smart-phones and tablet computers continues to surge by as much as 35% in 2012 alone. Excerpted and linked below are two stories on this topic. Continue reading “Has the gaming bubble burst?”

One in five Americans now “non-religious”

These days the Pew Research Center has been doing more than polling voters. In a new study, Pew reports a precipitous drop in the number of Americans who identify as “religious.” In a report entitled “”Nones” on the Rise,” Pew finds that “one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%). This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives. Continue reading “One in five Americans now “non-religious””

The bully society

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As a topic, bullying has received considerable media attention in recent years in its linkages to online harassment, school shootings, suicide, and even a notable candidate for political office. While bullying can be overt or subtle, it nearly always involves a power imbalance based on some kind of difference in behavior, appearance, culture, or belief.  Perceived standards of the “normal” or “natural” get used to rationalize verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. In The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools  (New York University Press, 2012), Jessie Klein argues that these notions of normality are far more significant in bullying than individual pathology.Bullies may the active agents in causing harm, but larger groups or an entire “bully society” may be the real problem, especially when we consider that this is not just about kids. Writ large, bullying can be seen to inhabit the workplace, the political arena, and the mediascape.
Continue reading “The bully society”

Fallacy of the term, ‘the Muslim world’

A classic example of “worlding” in it’s imperialistic application is discussed in an essay entitled “The fallacy of the phrase. ‘the Muslim world” by Sarah Kendzior, appearing in Al Jazeera.   As Kendzior writes,  “The day after the attacks on the US diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya, the New York Times set out to explain what it called the “anguished relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.’  According to the Times, the ‘Muslim world’ was prone to outbursts of violence, and the reaction to the 14-minute anti-Islam movie trailer The Innocence of Muslims was both baffling and predictable. ‘Once again, Muslims were furious,’ wrote reporter Robert F Worth, ‘and many in the West found themselves asking why Islam seems to routinely answer such desecrations with violence.’ Continue reading “Fallacy of the term, ‘the Muslim world’”

Ways of worlding

Mind-o-licous by P.J. Rusnak carries useful index of ways the term “worlding” has been used in different disciplines and for varying purposes. Noting the term’s  Heideggerian ontology, Rusnak writes: “Worlding has been appropriated many times over, signifying: economic ontology (Thrift, 2008); imperialist processes and the colonial inscription of textuality (Spivak, 1985, 1990); everyday feminist international politics (Pettman, 1996); violences of heteropatriarchy and heteronormativity (Fadem, 2005); proprioception, kinesthesia and touch (Manning, 2007); geopolitical classifications of first, second, third and fourth worlds (OWNO, 2010); first, second and third waves of societal transformation (Toffler, 1980; Doerr, 2010); globalization (de Beer, 2004); global warring (Fry, 1999); prayer (Detweiler, 1995); secularization (Miller, 2009); enfleshment of God in the world (Hemming, 1998); right reciprocity between nature, humans and more-than-humans (Kohak, 1984; Abram, 1996); the socio-biological complexity of human extinction (Costa, 2010); situated practices of cultural studies (Wilson & Connery, 2007); enculturation of true craftsmanship (Risatti, 2007); Continue reading “Ways of worlding”