Let it glow?

Now's your chance to oppose a nerve-agent incinerator at the Bluegrass Army Depot. Three alternatives will be presented at a hearing on the proposal, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. July 11 at EKU's Stratton Building in Richmond.

This land is your land

July 11th is World Population Day. Started by the United Nations Population Fund, this day brings attention to the correlations between populations, development, and the environment. The UN program works to save women's lives, promote human rights through better reproductive healthcare, and empower families to take steps to improve their quality of life and their communities.

The Green Thing

Town Branch Trail, Inc. is a new non-profit organization based in Lexington. The mission of the group is to assist, organize and promote development of a proposed system of recreational trails and greenspace along or connecting to the Town Branch of Elkhorn Creek.

Group president, Van Meter Pettit, says "Town Branch Trail is a proposed greenway and trail, or linear park, that will begin in downtown Lexington and follow the Town Branch Creek where possible as it flows west. The Trail is envisioned to become a major component of the city/county greenway system, and will link historical and recreational resources from downtown and the western side of the city and county."

The group's proposed trail project will provide alternate transportation routes from neighborhoods to downtown, including walking, bicycling, horseback riding, and other forms of recreation and transportation.

For more information on Town Branch Trail, Inc. contact Van Meter Pettit, President via email: vanmeterp@aol.com. For more information on trails and greenways, visit www.trailsandgreenways.org. Members of the group will also be on hand to answer questions and provide info, Saturday, July 13, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Farmers' Market downtown.

Go on: Hug Some Trees

The next scheduled general meeting of the bluegrass area Sierra Club will be held on Monday, July 15th, 7:30 p.m. at Shriner's Hospital, 1900 Richmond Rd. in Lexington. There will be an update on the infamous TriModal transpark being planned for the Bowling Green/Mammoth Cave area. Hilary Lambert, Group Conservation Co-Chair will lead a discussion of the issues and concerns surrounding this project. The meeting is free and open to the public.

To submit an advocacy/activism activity or event for Quickies, email rkirkland@aceweekly.com, or editor@aceweekly.com.

Staff Notes

Ace welcomes two newcomers with this edition. Brittany Dykeman is our new Traffic Coordinator (in advertising and promotion)-a native Kentuckian who's returned to Lexington from a two-year stint in client services for the Los Angeles Dodgers ball club.

And, in the batter's box this week is Lee Dellapina who'll be bringing you the Ace List every week, replacing departing Phi Beta Kappa, John Norris, who's heading to Louisiana to pursue his MFA. We look forward to writing about his spectacular art exhibits in the future.


Hey kids. Guns aren't toys.
By Cecil Bothwell

There is a sticker on my old guitar case that asks, "CAN YOU RECOGNIZE A TERRORIST?" Then, in smaller type, it suggests that you should, "Know the difference between: A Terrorist and a Freedom Fighter, Hostages and Political Prisoners, Nationalist Fanatics and Patriotic Citizens, etc."

Each pair of nouns is illustrated by two pictures. The punch line is that both pictures are the same.

That bit of Reagan-era commentary has struck me as painfully true over and over again in the two decades it has stuck with my guitar. Never more so than last autumn when our former Afghani allies in the struggle against the Soviets and the Northern Warlords, that is to say "the Taliban," suddenly became the target of our alliance with the Northern Warlords and Russia.

Get your scorecard! Get your scorecard! Can't tell the players without your scorecard! Little did I suspect that the U.S. Army agrees with me completely.

An Associated Press news story this week described a new computer game designed for our military (at a cost to you and me of $6.3 million), called, appropriately enough, ''America's Army.'' A Beta version of the game was released on July 4, with a full release sometime this fall.

The game lets a player join the army, go through training, and engage in warfare. Every effort has been made to make the game realistic, with players required to obey commanders, follow rules of engagement, and so forth. Teammates are in uniform and the terrorist opponents are shadowy figures in fatigues. Those who break the rules even end up imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth!

(If it is really true-to-life, of course, some rule breakers will end up in the White House or Congress without doing a stitch of time in the brig, but that may be expecting too much of virtual reality.)

The story quoted Lt. Col. Casey Wardynski, head of the Office of Economic & Manpower Analysis at West Point and the originator of the game as saying, "With this game we hope to educate young Americans and present them with a realistic, engaging view of today's modern Army and its opportunities."

And, of course, war has been sanitized. No sound of bullets penetrating flesh, no screams of agony, no blood. It is reported to be more like a paintball game than guts and gore. However, this is a recruitment and training tool, and making it too real would only scare away the intended victims. But I digress.

Interestingly enough, one of the first game scenarios to be released will involve defending an oil pipeline.

With the U.S. military currently hired out to petroleum developers to protect their planned pipeline in Afghanistan (which some sources report is already abuilding), this part of the game couldn't be more real. The U.S. government is functioning more and more like a subsidiary of multinational energy giants including Enron and Halliburton these days, so it is entirely apropos for new recruits to be taught who they are really working for.

But here's the punch line.

In this game, as in many other online contests from chess or poker to the popular strategy games Half-Life and Quake, there are two sides. A participant plays against real people-other players in cyberspace. However, because this expensive new toy is definitely intended to encourage recruits, the army didn't like the idea of having anyone sign up to play "terrorist."

I can't describe the result better than D. Ian Hopper, whose July 2 A.P. story said, "A player on Team A will always fight as a U.S. Army soldier and fight players on Team B depicted as terrorists. But that opposing Team B 'terrorist'' will see themselves as Army, and Team A as terrorists. While it sounds confusing, [army spokesperson Paul] Boyce said it will be seamless to players."

(Well, I take that back. I wouldn't have used "them" as a singular pronoun, but Hopper's description of the circumstances is clear enough.)

What he tells us here is that the behavior of the two sides will be indistinguishable to players.

We have to be told which ones are the good guys and which ones are the bad guys.

CAN YOU RECOGNIZE A TERRORIST? Evidently not by their actions. I don't expect that this is the lesson the army hoped to teach the kids.

But, I could be wrong.