Monday, April 27, 2009

Tweenbot: an alternative to killing "sub-human" creatures: using them to make connections

An NYU art student's social experiment. Follow the link and be charmed.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Pocket God....and pot stirring

Doesn't seem the Pocket God game creators were too forthcoming with the folks at Savage Minds. I went searching through their Facebook site and found they also have a Pocket Blog and quite an online presence--Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Youtube channel etc, etc. They just recently ran a contest (through Facebook and announced on their blog with final results up on Flickr) for a Wallpaper design for the "game". You are looking at the entry that won. God has a very pale finger. The islanders are not very pale. Except for the ?muzzle? area. Interesting.

The proud winner won a Pocket God islander toy. Woo Hoo!

Their home page at Bolt Creative refers to the figures as "primitive" islanders and when Allan Dye (other game creator dude) said at Savage Minds that they have expanded the "cuteness" factor of the "little innocents" so that they now eat coconuts, he didn't mention that the only way you can get the coconuts open is by "god" dropping them on their heads? Can we say disingenious?

Also the game creators didn't mention that they call the islanders "pygmies". Guess they were too busy trying to argue (at Savage Minds) for their creature-like sub-human "don't count" status to mention that. You can click through to the Pocket God Blog, hosted here on blogger and do a search for "pygmies, or follow mine here. Quite a few posts put up by "Dave" (one assumes that is Dave Castelnuovo the game creator at Bolt Creative) uses that designation for them. Its a frequent designation for the figures in all the online discussions. Here, here (check out were one Tiffany aged 7 laments via a Youtube of her email her inablity to rip the little guys arms off, and more Dave here. Guess we missed all that by not being gamers.

Maybe we could turn this into a Teachable Moment for the power of political protest in a democratic nation. Apple is, apparently, quite particular about its apps. Our friends at Bolt Creative count on releasing a new update on the app once a week. They have, actually, had one rejected by Apple when it didn't conform to its branding standards; their April Fool's Day release didn't happen.

And....their latest update was just delayed again, for no, as yet, specified reason. The link takes you to an April 23 posting announcing the delay from Apple.

Ah, the power of the internet and open access. Feel free to register your objections, directly, to Apple. Here is the link to their Media Relations page. I figure you pick a name and give it a try. Unless someone else has a better suggestion.

Oh and just so we are clear. The depiction offends me. The game offends me. If you would like to, genuinely, understand why it offends me, I will try to explain. If you are going to try to argue me out of being offended or tell me I shouldn't be offended that will not work because, you see, I am offended.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jared Diamond Update: Suit filed, Stinkyjournalism releases statement

Since we are on the Pacific Island theme, thought everyone would be interested to know that Daniel Wemp, depicted as a murderer and pig thief in Diamond's New Yorker piece a year ago is suing for 10 million. Stinkyjournalism has a press-release notice of their report (to be released in full in a few weeks) on their site here.

Gotta run to usual.

Back from class with an update: Savage Minds has a detailed discussion of the issues with another interesting comment section here.

Gotta sleep....then usual.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Interesting Discussion at Savage Minds: Pocket God

Thanks to Tad from the listserv at SACC-Society for Anthropology in the Community College, we have a great Teachable Moment alert. Anthropologists and Game Designers have a really interesting discussion about the IPhone application known as Pocket God. Head on over there and have a read. The comments section is where it is all happening.


I'll be posting it up for my students.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Couldn't Resist

Nonverbal communication clip that has no controversy and is easily understood by any and all students....and it cracks me up every time.

More Big Thoughts from Big Thinkers Cause Bigger is Better

Salon has a kind of mini TED series going parterned with something called the Big Think which, in itself, is a big ole site full of all kinds of podcasts and commentaries by all kinds of talking heads. Given the supposed attention span of our students this short expert commentary could be useful spark for discussion (of course, the subject really needs a long burn but, you know better to start a fire....whatever). They supposedly post a new one every Monday. They have quite a few up now, including psychologist Carol Gilligan, Philosopher David Dennet, Economist Joseph Stiglitz and others. Go have a look.

Here is the latest clip up by Dambisa Moyo, Zambian author (Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa) with some comments about "helping Africa". She explores the dependency issues created by Western aid and contrasts that a bit with the "Chinese" model for African "development". Pretty standard argument these days...except for all those who still want to "save Africa" or adopt its babies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dip or Bow: Lessons in Negotiated Culture or just making friends...

Back from my conference in Tucson, I am still a bit tired and in a moment of weakness, I decided to bring up the Presidential bow/dip issue. Did we all see this? Was it a "dip", was it a "bow", a sign of loyal fealty revealing his secret Muslim sentiments, a very tall man stooping to equal heights, or perhaps stooping to conquer? BTW, there are, also, quite a few YouTubes asking the question...Did Obama bow to the Queen?

What I find amusing are the attempts to understand all these bits of non-verbal communication. Terrorist fist bumps all around. Kind of ends up being one of those nice moments of "what bias (cultural or otherwise) are you assuming".

The interesting Teachable Moment is the way that students think there exists a firm set of "cultural rules" that govern this behavior. As if the subset of American Presidents greeting Saudi Kings in large touch-filled crowds of heads-of-states has a firmly established, well-defined required behavior. Good luck with that. I think I was only marginally successful at making the point that much of human behavior is negotiated and created anew not set in stone. That is the ones who don't think I am a "socialist"--whatever they think that is.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Continuing and ending posts on Hussein Onyango Obama

This one is hard to write. There isn't much to go on, except a whole lot of speculation--a fertile field for political spin.

As you recall, we have Hussein Onyango Obama returned from the WWII. The last post in this series, I really tried to contextualize the world to which he returned and the inability of any African man to succeed in colonial structures. Feeling the power, as my Tanzanian informants would have said, "coming down from the top", they had no power and no route to achieve a meaningful livelihood--no way to feel valued, no way to feel anything but disenfranchised. Returning vets became drivers, and low-level agricultural inspectors--manual laborers and menial clerical staff, at best. Unemployed and hungry, at worst. Supposedly, Hussein Onyango Obama found employment as a cook for a white man in Nairobi. Sometime in 1949 (two years after Indian independence) Mzee Obama is arrested and incarcerated by the British for an unknown period of time. The spin on the story is that he is arrested in one of the precursor systems of political organization which would result in Mau Mau. Mau Mau, itself, does not, officially, "begin" until 1952, by then Mzee Obama has returned home to Siaya by all accounts a badly beaten man. Physically. Beaten.

I have seen some of the judgements levelled against Obama's grandfather because of his supposed Mau Mau sentiments. Whatever his involvement may or may not have been, I want these statistics close to those judgements:

32 whites killed.............................12,000-70,000 Africans killed,
..................................................est. 71,000 Africans detained

Enough? Or do we need more?

Back home in Siaya, Mzee Obama settles in to become a successful farmer, respected elder, and healer. Toward the end of his life he is reported to have stated:

“How can the African defeat the white man when he cannot even make his own bicycle.”

Perhaps you could interpret this as a condemnation of Africans. I prefer an alternate interpretation, lacking the capital to compete and control their own economic destiny, African cannot and will not ever "defeat" or compete against the white man.

The future would lie, elsewhere with the promise of a new possibility. His son Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. would find his way to a world power which, at that time, appeared to offer the best hope of success for an African man. America.

On what would become the Tom Mboya Airlift.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Twitter Practice

Oooo...I just brushed my teeth and drank grapefruit juice....headrush.