Army enlists bloggers to share their stories...

Army enlists bloggers to share stories; after the flood in Tajikistan; the disconnect in the Internet debate; and fear of vampire power.

Army Enlists Bloggers to Share Stories
Army Accessions Command
May 13, 2010

The Army has added a new dimension to its recruiting efforts: a blog site that has nothing to do with recruiting.

Armystrongstories.com doesn't feature Army recruiters but has cadets, soldiers, veterans and their families, all of whom blog about their experiences in the service. The blog has been around for a while, but it featured a limited cast of bloggers. Now, like other social networking sites, anyone can register to submit a story.

The idea is to give potential recruits a taste of Army life, both its rewards and its frustrations, said Tracy Robillard, a public affairs blogger at "Army Live."

The site’s biggest proponent is Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general of the Accessions Command. In Freakley's view, “while a recruiter tells you about the benefits and things you could earn or achieve if you join the Army, the soldier’s blog gives you the whole story — both good and bad,” Robillard writes. “You get a personalized, truthful experience that you can’t always get at a recruiter’s office.”

After the Flood in Tajikistan
State Department
May 24, 2010

Damian Wampler, an information officer at the U.S. embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, reports on the response to a natural disaster that has been largely overlooked by U.S. news outlets.

Torrential rains led to flooding and a massive mudslide May 7 that damaged or destroyed as many as 11,000 homes in southern Tajikistan, forcing many residents to move into tent cities near Kulob. Several days later, after receiving a request for aid from Tajikistan's government, the U.S. government arranged for the delivery of mattresses, blankets, pillows and other household items, in addition to medical supplies.

A week later, an Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft filled to the brim with large tents landed in Kulob, followed by an Air Force C-130 that brought five pallets of medical supplies and hygiene kits to Dushanbe.

Many news outlets did not cover the aftermath of the floods for the simple reason that they could not reach Kulob, Wampler writes, prompting the embassy to arrange for journalists to visit the area.

The Disconnect in the Internet Debate
Chief Seattle Geek blog
May 9, 2010

A court ruling in April that the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t have the legal authority to impose neutrality regulations on Internet providers has sparked much discussion. But that talk overlooks an even more important point, says one big-city tech official.

“Net neutrality doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford a connection in the first place,” writes Bill Schrier, Seattle’s chief technology officer, on his personal blog.

Schrier participated in a recent panel discussion about the court decision, and although he thinks it’s a bad idea to allow Internet companies too free a hand in deciding which content gets priority on the Internet and at what price, he fears that we’re paying an even higher price in social justice and economic mobility when basic Internet access is beyond the reach of many.

He notes that cities, counties and states have some authority to regulate the price of basic telephone and cable TV service, but no government agency at any level has the power to regulate the price of broadband Internet access. Consequently, the monopoly or duopoly environment in the United States allows providers to charge much higher prices for slower access speeds compared with other developed countries, such as France and Japan. So, net neutrality yes, but affordability for all, Schrier says.

In Fear of Vampire Power
Energy Savers
May 17, 2010

It’s not difficult these days to convince people that it’s a waste of energy to leave on appliances that are not in use. However, the idea that appliances can waste energy even when turned off is a tougher sell. But blogger Elizabeth Spencer gives it a shot.

Many devices continue to draw power as long as they are plugged into an outlet, and in some cases, they draw just enough juice to be prepared to turn on at the click of a remote. In other cases, devices have a small indicator that lights up when the power is turned off — except, of course, the light needs power to work. It's called “vampire power.”

“I can't tell you how much energy any of those systems use when they're ‘off’ compared to when they're in use, but I can guarantee that it's not ‘nothing at all,’ ” writes Spencer, who works at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

 

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