MMO Games

MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online. Four and a half billion dollars a year are spent on these things in the US and Europe. This imaginary world is making some real money!

No wonder the real world is in big trouble: people are not interested in it anymore.


America’s Gift to Iraq

If you can remember, America was going to bless Iraq with Democracy. And Americans could see nothing wrong with this ridiculous idea. We were so wonderful that just being near us would change them completely.

Instead, we blessed them with civil war. The American Media still blathers about the fragility of Iraq democracy -ignoring the fact that democracy never works in most societies – and just barely works in our own.

Latin America and North America, the Changing Scene

My family has always been cross-cultural, living in Latin American as well as in America – and they were not all that unusual – just a little strange. I have been reflecting on the cross-currents between the two cultures after WWII – while my cleaning lady cleans up my apartment here in Costa Rica.

I suppose my case is rather extreme – but not really. Both cultures have found it convenient to move back and forth – although the North has greatly restricted movement into it now that conditions in the South have deteriorated so badly.

In the late forties and early fifties our family often when to Mexico for our Christmas vacation – even though it was a very long drive from Illinois. Looking back on it, I can see we were desperate for a cultural break – and determined to get it. Latin America was still a nice place to live and many American families did so – as part of an extended cultural break. At the same time, many Latinos were taking a cultural break of their own up North. People went back and forth all the time, and nobody thought anything of it. That is just the way it was.

Have things changed! Now desperate Latinos will do anything to get across the border and get an American job. And Americans are equally desperate to keep them out. In its saner moments – which are not many – the American government realizes it must help Latin America just to help itself. But, as in most other matters, its ability to help itself is so pathetic it is not much use in helping anyone else.

Update March 14 from the NY Times

TRONCONES, Mexico — Gunmen believed to be drug traffickers shot an American consulate worker and her husband to death over the weekend in the violence-racked border town of Ciudad Juárez, and killed the husband of another consular employee and wounded his two young children, the authorities said Sunday.

Strengthening its travel warning for Mexico, the State Department said: “Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. While most crime victims are Mexican citizens, the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.”

Although President Calderón has maintained that the government has control over the entire country, the State Department’s warning suggests otherwise. Because of a surge in assaults, murders and kidnappings, the American Embassy restricts diplomats from traveling anywhere in the state of Durango, south of highways 25 and 22 and the Alamos River in the state of Coahuila, and in the northwest part of the state of Chihuahua and southeast of Ciudad Juárez.

American citizens are becoming more frequent victims of the violence. In late 2009 and early 2010, four Americans visiting Durango were killed in cases that like most in Mexico remain unsolved.

When Did the Decline of America Begin?

This question has bothered me. And early this morning, when my mind was still fresh, I looked over my library for some books that might answer it. I picked up Main Currents in American History by Gabriel Kolko, and looked in the preface. The answer was there right in front of my eyes! About an hour later, however, after the cleaning lady had cleaned my apartment, my mind had resumed its usual dull self – and the same words did not seem so wonderful. I, like Beethoven, seem to do best in disorderly, messy surroundings. However, here is the paragraph in question:

Immediately after the Civil Way the American economy was qualitatively transmuted into modern industrial capitalism, setting the context for the first national efforts at economic and political integration during the decades after 1887. In a sense, all such attempts, then and thereafter, proved tentative and often abortive, and what was more significant than concrete approaches to the economic and political problems of the era were the very conditions and causes that prompted such actions in the first place. Means were less important than ends, and and individual methods were often discarded after the ineffectuality became apparent.

But it was during the first generation after the Civil War that the main problems of the economic structure were to arise, and eventually to require political reactions that have continued to this day. During the late nineteenth century the quite complex economic structure evoked state responses with for the most part were tentative, even experimental, and failed to accomplish their objectives because of the very difficulty of the tasks, the changing nature of the economic institutions requiring  political assistance, and the increasing importance of war and foreign affairs in defining the direction of American society.

Now that I look over it again, I can see why my mind faltered: the subject is too huge – even Kolko falters, although he gives it a good shot – if your mind can arise above 8th grade prose.

What I see, to put it on an even larger scale, is the end of the modern era. Someone should write a book about that.

A Dysfunctional Industry

This is a followup to my posting yesterday Understanding Our World about computer modeling programs. I thought these can help us understand our world and get it under control. There is only one problem: the companies who make UML software, and there are a lot of them, are all screwed up. And I ought to know: I have tried a bunch of them.

And I shouldn’t be surprised: I worked in the software industry for 20 years, and I saw the weird stuff that goes on there. An insane asylum is sane by comparison.

I hate to say it folks: but I don’t think software is going to save us.

I Enjoy My Neighbors in the Morning

This is one of the pleasures of living in Orosi, a small town in the coffee country of Costa Rica. Here, parents spend considerable time walking their children to and from school – and in taking care of their many progeny in general. Half of the population seems to be under ten years of age.

I even had a chance to try this myself. I met a young wife, who with her American husband owned a small hotel here, as she was waiting to take her little girl home from school. She informed me that they were breaking up, and her in-laws were treating her very badly. As a result, she went to the courts and filed a denunciado, claiming she was being abused, and citing as proof that her husband was raising marijuana plants in their house. The next day, the police showed up and confiscated the marijuana plants.

Goodness, I see I have taken up the habit of malicious gossip, something common in any small town. Anyway, as I said, she let me take her little daughter’s hand as we walked to their home. It was quite an experience for me, as I have never had any children of my own. The young wife, who is an good-looking woman, made it clear that I could become a parent easily myself – with herself thrown into the bargain. I got to admit I was tempted.

The Gods are With Us Always

I am now listening to the Illiad, and it is a disturbing experience. The Greeks loved war, and when they weren’t fighting someone else they were fighting among themselves. This made it easy for the Romans to conquer them, because the Romans were methodical and organized, and had their gods under control (until they were taken over by the Christian God, which finished them). The Greek gods, by contrast, involved themselves in human affairs on a daily basis – and kept everything stirred up, simply for their own amusement.

In our time, we have a similar situation – except our gods have become machines – a situation more frightening than anything the Greeks ever dreamed up – but a situation we are not aware of at all – because we have forgotten what it means to be human. A really scary state of affairs.