Archive for September 2nd, 2009
Are you tired of having your personal life exposed through Google? Now Google is offering an easy option, as reported by Onion Network News: opt out.
Youtube was supposed to be one of Web 2.0′s shining examples of user-generated original content. In a world (in 2005) when everything worthwhile was already online and fully consumed, Youtube was supposed to provide us with a new outlet to both create and consume. I know it is hard to recall Youtube’s original intent as a creative landscape, but keep in mind that the site’s slogan was and is “Broadcast Yourself”.
Most of us don’t broadcast ourselves, or watch broadcasts of other selves. The last time I fired up Youtube, I was looking for a free way to stream James and the Giant Peach. Any cute skits or beautiful shorts I discovered thereafter were barely bonuses; they were just tasty little incidentals to be quickly forgotten. Most people go to Youtube to view unoriginal creations- movie, TV and music clips or mashups thereof.
Youtube’s most viewed videos of all time are music videos like “7 Things” by Miley Cyrus and Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music”. My little sister uses Youtube as a combination DVR-Itunes-Pandora player. Nothing original seeps in unless I send it to her myself- and then it’s usually just a video of a cute animal, not a creative work.
Ah, but Youtube does have some high-caliber producers of original goodies! People who put on elaborate comedy skits with costumes, professional lighting and substantial editing. People who pull in millions of views. People with whom Youtube has formed profitable, advertising-driven partnerships. These people are broadcasting themselves. But they aren’t like “us”. They are all from Hollywood.
New reports cast more doubt on the use of private contractors in a war zone. CNN is reporting that the watchdog group Project On Government Oversight (POGO) briefed reporters and sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about widespread hazing incidents allegedly taking place at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.
POGO says two weeks ago it began receiving whistleblower-style e-mails, some with graphic images and videos, that are said to document problems taking place at a non-military camp for the guards near the U.S. diplomatic compound in Kabul.
“This is well beyond partying,” said Danielle Brian, POGO’s executive director, after showing a video of a man with a bare backside, and another man apparently drinking a liquid that had been poured down the man’s lower back.
These latest allegations are about ArmorGroup, a British company that was formed in 1981. These types of companies have seen exploding rates of growth since the start of the Iraq war as more and more functions that have been traditionally assigned to the military have been outsourced to private security companies. In 2004 it was reported that there were over 180 private companies providing services in Iraq. This massive deployment has skewed traditional warfighting:
In the first Gulf War 15 years ago, the ratio of private contractors to troops was 1 to 60; in the current war, it’s 1 to 3.
In fact, the private sector has put more boots on the ground in Iraq than all of the United States’ coalition partners combined. One scholar, Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution, suggests that Bush’s “coalition of the willing” would be more aptly described as the “coalition of the billing.”
Those bills are in the billions and rising.
Have you ever been to a children’s science museum, where the children get to see chicks hatching from eggs? At these educational facilities, we teach our children about the innocence and beauty of the baby chicks.
In addition to looking at them hatch, I like to eat chickens and their eggs. I always have. But this article and the undercover video that follows have really put me in a moral quandary.
An animal rights group publicized a video Tuesday showing unwanted chicks being tossed alive into a grinder at an Iowa plant and accused egg hatcheries of being “perhaps the cruelest industry” in the world.
I promote this ghastly system whenever I eat the chickens and eggs sold at most grocery stores in the U.S. There’s no way around it. Perhaps one solution is to open up chicken factories to school groups, so that the children and their families can learn about the process leading up to that admittedly delicious meal of chicken strips. Then, we can make more informed decisions at the grocery store.