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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

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Monday, August 02, 2004

interesting talks over coffee

if you ever met me, you would understand a couple of things right away. one, nobody's a stranger to me, only a friend i just haven't met yet. the other is that i like solving the world's ills over a cup of coffee, usually in discussion with the afore mentioned friends.
this weekend, i sat for several hours having coffee with one of my really really smart friends. he is an artistically brilliant thinker, an egyptian expat who loves the napa valley. he is the embodiment of millennia of culture and intellectual prowess that egypt was so famous for. he brings an entirely new frame of reference to our discussions, and i've learned more about the middle east, and the conflicts there, from him than from all of the reading and watching news and commentary shows put together. he had a friend with him that i met for the first time. this man had been in the egyptian military for many years, rising through the ranks to hold a position of trust in the president's bodyguard. very interesting man.
anyway, we got to talking about how computers are changing the face of the middle east, and how the repressive governments and clerics are tearing their hair out over the free access to information and choices the rest of the world has regarding life styles. pretty illuminating conversation.
but since i'm such a fan of military history and tactics, the conversation evolved to discussions about the current generation of kids. this topic has been hashed out in the press over the last 10 or so years, starting with the "nintendo war" known as gulf I. i wondered aloud what the kids of today are going to be like in 15 or 20 years, when they are the generation entering the board rooms, senate halls, or military upper echelons. these kids learn to not only multi-task playing videos, they learn small and large unit tactics, with a refresh button to start over if they mess up. previous generations either learned quickly, or they died. so instead of having a small percentage of the population capable of making the kind of big picture decisions these kids are learning, we will have an entire generation of them. my buddy told me that one of the true shortcomings of americans, as perceived by the rest of the world, is that we are almost without exception linear thinkers. a leads to b, leads to c, and so on. the lions of commerce and true leaders in government can take disparate facts and information, and assimilate it all into a cohesive campaign to achieve goals. we all agreed that while it's too early to tell what the ramifications are, training an entire generation of youngsters the art of war as taught by sun tzu will radically change the face of business AND warfare in this country. many cultures, mainly asian, teach sun tzu, and hold his philosophy with the highest regard. in this country, he's taught at the war college. but there is a huge difference between teaching cold and lifeless book knowledge, and the excitement of a fast paced video game. there are many gamers out there that don't even realize the games they play are all based on successfully completing the game only if sun tzu's tactics are used. i heard a round table discussion of game tactics a while ago, and the programmers all talked about how they incorporated sun tzu's "Art of War" into the scenarios. even the us army uses video games for teaching small unit tactics to it's budding leaders. it not only lets these youngsters do stupid stuff, and get killed without anyone dying, it also teaches them to think in three dimensions, and use as many as 15 inputs for data. all of which must be kept straight in their head, and acted on appropriately. as a matter of fact, a truncated version of the game used by the army is/was (? i haven't checked in the last year or so) on their recruiting web site. *boink---edit* u.s. army recruiting video games.. it's both amazing and frightening to think what this may portend for our future.

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