Fake titles for Neil Bush's software company, Ignite! Learning

On March 23, 2006, I wrote about Neil Bush's educational software company, Ignite! Learning, and about the company's shady investors, which include scions of the Chinese ruling class, United Arab Emirate royalty, and a Russian gazillionaire wanted on criminal charges for allegedly plotting to overthrow Boris Vladimir Putin. Neil's mother, Barbara Bush, is also a big beleiver in Neil's company — her donation to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund was specifically earmarked for her son's company. (Here's a Houstin Chronicle article with more details.)

I asked readers to send in their suggestions for Ignite! software titles, were they to reflect the behavior and philosophy of Neil Bush and his investors. The suggestions were great, and I've posted some of my favorites below.

At the end of this entry, I'm running two emails sent in by people defending Ignite!. One is from a guy who is friends with Ignite! employees, who he describes as "distinctly kind and gentle individuals." The other email is from an actual employee of Ignite! who wishes to remain anonymous.

But first, here is my favorite entry, from Bob's:

Well, to promote traditional values, Ignite! would, of course, release different games for boys and girls. . .

For the girls:

Explora the Whora – As Explora, travel around the world knocking on hotel room doors looking for relatives of the rich and powerful. Maximum possible points for each round are based on the hotel guest's family's wealth and influence. Get friendly with the guest as quickly as possible, then collect points by extracting marriage proposals and/or blackmail payouts! Teaches young women how to move up in neo-conservative America and patriarchal societies around the world.

For the boys:

ShockAndAwecracy – As president G. W. Booyah, dress up in your flight suit and jump in to the cockpit of your NewWorldReorderer machine! Just press buttons to select countries from a map of the world, sending bombs and troops to spread democracy and freedom! Maximize your score by spending as much borrowed money as possible. Score extra points for enriching your friends with no-bid contracts to rebuild what you have destroyed (no rebuilding required). Teaches boys how to make friends and influence people.

Here, in no particular order, are the runners-up:

Steve's suggestions:

Can You Tell Me How To Get To K Street? by J.K. Abramoff

Where The Wild Things Are: Sex Touring in Thailand for Under a Dollar a Day by Neil Bush

Are You There God? It's Me, George by George W. Bush

The Box Turtle and The Hare by Senator John Conryn

Toms's suggestion:

How to Keep a Silver Spoon Tarnish Free — An instructional video on how to polish your silver spoon with Saudi Riyal and Thai girls.

Lise's suggestion:

Fortune — I think that Neil Bush's company should develop and market a game that works like Risk, except that instead of using armies to conquer territory, it uses influence peddlers. Each player starts with a sphere of influence and an amount of money. Each unit of money given buys influence in another person's territory, while each unit of money received expands the home territory. As a player's home territory expands, other players must give him more money to buy influence in his territory. Deals can be struck between players to exclude other players, but those deals are secret and not necessarily honored. Units of value don't have to be monetary. Obviously, sexual favors, vacations, luxury goods and stock tips would work as units of exchange. The game is won by the person who achieves worldwide hegemony.

Chris's suggestions:

Oil Muncher! — You play as an SUV-shaped green alien looking for the biggest and most expensive barrels of oil to munch. Teaches kids about numbers and the value of money, as well as how to be as consumptive as possible to inflate the profits of everyone's favorite oil companies!

Paper Trail! — You're a Republican-appointed election commissioner on the trail of paperwork showing what really went on inside the Diebold voting machines in the 2004 election – but instead of just traveling the trail, you're trying to obscure, hide, and ultimately destroy it!

Zoombinis' Thailand Journey! — Use logical deduction to determine which of the prostitutes showing up at your hotel room door are diseased, and which of them you can safely screw!

RQT's suggestions:

Duck and Cover: How to (and how not to) Get Blown During a Hurricane


Oregon Paper Trail — In this game, you and your family have to manifest destiny your way
through the miles of uncharted Ignite! expense wilderness. and if you
get too close to the oregon of nepotism and corruption, instead of
dying of dysentery, Neil Bush pays you off with a yacht or two.

Andrew's suggestion:

School Yard Bullying — A beginner's course for teaching kindergarten through 3rd grade students the fine art of bullying, harrasing, stealing, cheating, punching, kicking, screaming, verbaly abusing, extorting and ridiculing your fellow classmates.

As an added bonus for your more gifted and advanced students, you will also receive Starting Your First Gang
at no extra charge.

In this segment your students will learn that there are safety in numbers especially when dealing with those less fortunate than themselves.

Peter's suggestion:

Ignite! presents it's groundbreaking new educational software suite

Little Crony

. This sophisticated suite presents pedagogy in all five core
curricular areas. We'd like you to take a few moments to review just a few
of the features of this exciting new educational tool.

Language Arts

The heart of language arts is reading. Through the entire arc of a student's
education they are required to read dozens if not hundreds of titles. Many
of these books are confusing and are often forgotten shortly after they are
read. This is a result of the excessive variety of books that are being
encountered. The My Little Crony suite takes a unique pro-continuity
approach to developing language learners. By centering on one work and
following each student's progress through the grades, true mastery of the
material and concepts underlying the central themes is measurable. My Little
Crony uses the award winning book, My Pet Goat as its core literature. As a
child advances through the grades they will develop a thorough understanding
of the nuances and subtleties of the work. The pro-continuity approach also
helps meet the goals of the No Child Left Behind act by ensuring that while
each grade is challenged, a uniform national standard is met using a simple
yet complex hierarchical pedagogical framework that enhances a Piagetian
structural approach.

Social Studies

This is the study of peoples of the world, their history and the geography
of the land on which they live. For too long children have been subjected to
a Eurocentric view of the world and lately Multiculturalism has been the
focal point. My Little Crony's Energetic People module takes a view of the
world that is both modern and traditional. Petrocentricism sees the history
of the world through a more energetic lens. Energy is given its rightful
place as the molder of societies throughout history. In the years after
creation people developed primitive inefficient bad forms of energy
utilization that were based on whatever they could find lying around was up
in the sky or was "blowin' in the wind." The groups that were best able to
move beyond these quaint archaic methods and learned new ways to exploit
energy were the ones that advanced the most. The petrocentric view of world
brings it all into focus in a way that is both challenging and lucratively
rewarding at the same time.

(Another part of social studies is government and citizenship. We are
developing modules that cover these two areas. They are unavailable at this


Numbers are everywhere in our lives. My Little Crony prepares young minds
for the challenge that numbers present. Beginning in the earlier grades,
students develop cognitive skills and the tools needed to work with
mathematical concepts. As their education progresses their exposure broadens
to include ways that they can make numbers work for them. Here's a story
problem as an example. "Mayor Fromage wants to decrease taxes (-2) at the
same time he is increasing spending (-3.) If he does this, will it be a good
thing or a bad thing?" Through My Little Crony's Silverado math module
students will see that negative 2 times negative 3 equals positive 6 and
everyone knows that positive things are good things.

Where would we be without science? It is the educator's duty to help
students understand the world and try to make it better. It is also every
student's right to receive a balanced education. Therefore we have created a
fair and balanced approach to science. We call our module Intelligentsia
because that's what it was designed to create, inteligents in our students.
Through guided observation, intelligently designed experimentation, and deep
spiritual reflection students will be better able to comprehend and question
the exceptionally controversial world of science.

Visual and Performing Arts

The arts enrich our lives. We are also a society that loves competition. The
My Little Crony suite combines these two areas in the American Ideal module.
Developed by the Simon Cromwell Center for Art and Performance Methodology
this dynamic curriculum fosters creativity in individual artists and
performers, and provides feedback, encouragement and the motivation for
students to develop their talents for self-expression. The most unique
aspect of this method is that all students are automatically included in
regional and ultimately national competitions that seek to find the ideal
American artist.

So you can see, there's a lot to the new My Little Crony suite of
educational software. Please contact your local representative for a voucher
that will give you a free look at all of the modules and how you can
implement them in your school or home school today!!!

Learn 'em right with Ignite!

Finally, here are the emails from a friend of Ignite! employees and an Ignite! employee.

Danny says:

My name is Danny Strack. I've been reading Boing Boing for years now, and I've always enjoyed everything you guys are doing. When I saw the article about Ignite! learning, and the contest for fake children's learning games, I felt like I had to write in.

I live in Austin, TX, and am friends with several employees of Ignite! who are responsible for creating the content of the software. These are distinctly kind and gentle individuals, and excellent creative writers (we all perform slam poetry in the Austin Slam). They are also very progressive (I think they're democrats) and have absolutely no love of the Bush Administration, nor any intention to corrupt the minds of our nation's children. I can attest that any learning material created by these friends of mine would be produced with the best intentions, regardless of any connection between Ignite and the Bush family.

Anonymous says:

I'm an employee of Ignite! Learning, the company that you're so eager to "have some fun" with via the BoingBoing community. While I'm the first to appreciate snarky humor, such humor too often covers up the subtler bits of information that usually accompany a story. Bits of information such as: the products created and distributed to schools by Ignite! actually work. They are not intended to replace traditional forms of learning, but rather to augment them. The products are created by an experienced team of instructional designers and highly talented multimedia producers and artists. Frankly, on the scale of similar products, they kick ass. They're funny, engaging, and effective, and the kids freaking love them.

I can assure you that neither the politics of the company's owner nor those of its investors ever influence the content of our educational courses. Instead of engaging in easy jabs, maybe try linking to some examples of the media itself: http://www.ignitelearning.com/media.shtml . The videos will likely speak for themselves. At the least, they'll hopefully put some minds at ease that we're not propagandizing the nation's youth. No more so than Schoolhouse Rock did, anyway.

My personal politics run counter to those of the current administration (my votes since 1992 have gone Clinton / Clinton / Nader / Kerry, and I have been involved with active protests of U.S. involvement in Iraq since 1991). I've never been happy with the rumored sources of some of Ignite!'s investment capital, and the past personal escapades of the company's owner are things that I generally try to forget. My sense is that the majority of my co-workers feel the same way and are oriented with similar politics. Despite whatever guiltiness by association might be speculated, the people working for Ignite! Learning and, more importantly, the company's stated mission and products, are solidly honorable, sincerely pursued, and skillfully produced. Ignite!'s products demonstrate an abiding social conscience and are created entirely with the successful education of children in mind.

I am not a spokesperson for the company. I'm not here trying to promote the company. I write you because there truly is a distinct separation possible between a company's capital or publicity and its actual, on-the-ground output. From what I've read in the Houston Chronicle, Mrs. Bush is an honest believer in the effectiveness of Ignite!'s products. In that at least, I can agree with her.