Cookie Monsters

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually five seasons each year. The fifth falls right between spring and summer. The weather is crisp and unwaveringly perfect. A symphony of small, squeaky voices fill the air, tempting you with a mere three words: Girl Scout Cookies.

‘Tis the season.

It takes a strong (or seriously depraved) soul to resist the temptation. Telling yourself the cookies are overpriced, clinging to vestiges of New Years’ diet resolutions, avoiding eye contact and barrel rolling away from the iconic green vests — whatever the tactic, humans have long found ways to muzzle the craving. This year, conservatives are tackling the temptation on a whole new level: ladies and gentlemen, CookieCott 2014.

The boycott sprouted from one of the Girl Scouts’ tweets in December. The tweet linked to a Huffington Post video on “incredible ladies” who should be Women of the Year for 2013. Among the winners were Beyoncé (duh) and Wendy Davis, a Texas senator hopeful most recently notable for her filibuster against an anti-abortion bill.

John Pisciotta, an anti-choice activist in Texas, interpreted the tweet as the Girl Scouts’ endorsement of Davis and immediately swore himself to Samoa celibacy, inspiring many other anti-choice groups to join in on the dry spell. The boycott even has a cute website, www.cookiecott.com.

The website has a downloadable flier to spread the word, arguing for the boycott of all things Girl Scout. Every girl scout, after all, is automatically a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, or WAGGGS. One of the groups joining in the boycott, the Catholic News Agency, calls WAGGGS and the Girl Scouts’ relationship “troublesome,” as they describe WAGGGS as “an international agitator for abortion, contraceptives, sexual diversity and ‘comprehensive’ sexuality education.”

Damn cookies and their sexual empowerment.

By Lily Wan

Drone à la iPhone

Always wanted to know what Obama’s automated killing machines are up to? There’s an app for that.

Targets for U.S. drone strikes abroad are determined not by human intelligence, but rather an intricate analysis of metadata and electronic surveillance–including cell phone tracking technologies.

First Look Media’s digital magazine, The Intercept, published an investigative story in which they interviewed a former drone operator for the United States Joint Special Operations Command under anonymity. The former drone operator has also worked with the National Security Agency and said the NSA intercepts communications from cell phone towers and Internet service providers.

And now a new iPhone app, Metadata+, catalogues, maps and provides up-to-date reports on U.S. drone killings across the Middle East and Somalia. The app’s icon is a yellow 18th-century-England-astrologically-inspired octopus swallowing the world with its tentacles.

When you first pull up the app, the interface is familiar. It looks like a one-sided iMessage conversation, grey bubbles popping up from the left margin of the screen. Actually get to reading them, though, and you’ll come to learn that on Jan. 15, “While walking home, a Yemeni farmer was killed by a shrapnel from a U.S. drone strike.” Go back in the message history, and you’ll read about the 15 people who “were on their way to a wedding when a U.S. drone ‘missed its target,’ killing 12” on Dec. 12 in Yemen.

In an interview The Atlantic had with Josh Begley, the designer and creator of Metadata+, Begley explained his purpose for the app:

“For me, borrowing the visual vernacular of Apple’s expertly built interface opens up the potential for a different kind of seeing,” he wrote. “If the folks on the other side of our missiles are presented to us in the same places we see pictures of our loved ones or communicate with our friend , might that nudge me to learn a little more about the contours of covert war?”

By Lily Wan