<i>Against All Odds</i>: Live like a refugee!

Against All Odds: Live like a refugee!

New mobile home
For those of you who have had a cell phone for some time, you know it’s easier and easier to get a signal in remote places. I was hiking deep in the Sierra recently and my cell phone rang, shocking the dirt out of my treads. If you decide to take that somewhat strenuous hike up Mount Everest, you might be surprised to find your mobile works up there as well.

China has built three stations above 17,000 feet using yaks and porters to get the equipment up the hill. They say it’s the record 85,000-mile, 130-day Olympic torch relay route that motivated the building of the stations, but they’ll help mountain climbers and researchers as well. I’m wondering if it’s going to help the nearly 3 million Tibetans whose country has been occupied by China for the last 57 years.

TV’s Quarterlife Crisis
What do you do when Comedy Central runs reruns of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report during the Writers Guild of America strike? Turn to the future of television, the Internet. I know, we’ve been hearing about this for some time and there are plenty of shoddily made “TV” shows and reruns on the Web, but Quarterlife is made specifically for the Net. The Web site boasts: “It is the first time a true, network-quality series has been produced directly for the Internet,” and I might have to agree.

Well written, well filmed, well lit, with well-produced music and full of unrealistically beautiful people, this 20-something drama sucked me right in. It’s so good, in fact, that NBC has struck a deal with the show’s creators to air it on the network in February, after all of the episodes have run on the Web site and MySpace.

Each hour-long episode is divided into six 8-minute Webisodes that will be streamed over the Web two segments per week.

Quarterlife was created by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, the team behind Legends of the Fall and Blood Diamond. But it’s not only an online TV show … you guessed it, it’s also a social-networking site aimed at creative 20-somethings as a virtual place to build a profile, share their creations (videos, music, etc.) and even “be involved with the ongoing creation of the Quarterlife series.”

Against the grain
I might admit to playing old ’80s arcade games such as Galaga, Donkey Kong and Joust online (it’s free and even legal). But two new (free) online games piqued my interest this fortnight: Against All Odds and FreeRice.

Against All Odds ( was created for schoolchildren to experience what it is like to be a refugee in a medium they understand. Players are interrogated, beaten, chased and forced to make tough decisions in the game divided into the three sections of “War and Conflict,” “Borderland” and “A New Life.” The game was developed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and has an extensive teachers’ area for further learning.

FreeRice ( does not have the same graphical user interface that Odds does, but is more of a word game. The basic vocabulary “quiz” donates 10 grains of rice through the United Nations to help world hunger for each correct guess. No sign-up or log-in. I donated 100 grains in the research of this article.

Wacky Web site of the Week:
And to keep in the theme of games, here is something to keep you sane in the cubicle. Lovers of Office Space will appreciate this: