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Comment Re:Unfortunate, But Necessary (Score 1) 99

I buy mostly indie games (>200 on steam). What I've noticed the last few years is a gradual increase in the number of games for sale and a decrease in the number of games I'm interested in. Some game gets insanely popular, like DayZ or Terraria, and developers scramble to make copies of it with minor variation.

To me, there's a signaling problem at the heart of the game marketplace. I want a fun game that's well designed with good game play and that's insanely hard to do. Typically the way a developer shows they're serious is by increasing the production value with nice graphics, etc, but that says absolutely nothing about how good they are at making a fun game. Reviews don't fully flesh out the space since they correlate highly with fancy production values and the reviewer's personality isn't known. I suspect the optimal solution is a small set (~20) of known personalities as gatekeepers.

Comment Another casualty of the War on Drugs (Score 1) 450

As a statist, I think you're making the wrong argument. The question is not whether the state should be able to tell you what to do. It does (eg, stop signs) and it should (eg, vaccines) for very practical reasons. The question is does the benefit to society from prohibiting drugs out weigh the cost in freedom, blood, and treasure. In my opinion, things like the enormously bloated prison population suggest it does not.

Comment Perception of Normal (Score 3, Interesting) 329

I live in the US. 6 feet, 145lbs, lift weights regularly, eat rice/beans/vegetables, no sugar. Roughly a third of my family regularly tells me I'm way too skinny and they're concerned about my health. They think I'm going to die of starvation. I've had quite a few women make comments about how I'm too skinny and not strong (one thought she could beat me arm wrestling). My favorite is when I'm with someone and a seriously in shape bicyclist passes by and they compare the bicyclist to a holocaust survivor.

We've entered a dark place when people start shaming fit people because they don't even know what a normal person should look like.

Comment Prince Charming Fantasy (Score 1) 342

I take issue with the 'immaturity of the man' argument. In my experience, it's much more to do with some fantasy of the perfect guy who will make them happy, instead of making themselves happy and finding someone to share it with.

In fact, I think some rough empirical evidence exists in this direction. Women's sexual market value peaks in their 20s and falls off rapidly in their mid 30s. For men, the peak is much later. In the same way teenagers think they're invulnerable and youth will never end, women find this drop unexpected so their experience is one of a sudden drop in quality of available partners.

Moreover there seems to be a general social move away from long term commitments of any kind. Marriage rates are declining, divorce rates increasing. People move around much more so friendships are broken up. Jobs don't last, etc.

Comment Same old, same old. (Score 5, Insightful) 798

I was assaulted once by a kid twice my size in middle school. He was harassing a group of 5 girls, taking their bags and throwing them on the ground. I asked him, "Why are you being such an asshole? Why don't you just leave them alone?" He punched me in the back of the head when I turned to walk away, then took about 12 swings at my face while sitting on top of me. I never hit him at all, just deflected most of his attacks.

The next day, the school administrator gave both of us detention for a week. He said I shouldn't have used foul language.

I think there's a kind of deep inability on the part of adults to distinguish between rough play that got a little out of hand and a bully who's completely out of control. I can't see any school policy fixing that.

Comment More than just games. (Score 1) 144

This is not new. When you go into the grocery store, everything is 1/3 more free, buy one get one free, 5 for $5, $0.99. Advertising. Data-mining. Figuring out how much your internet will cost after the 6 month introductory rate. These are all obfuscations and manipulations.
I don't think you can just say, oh some people are just stupid, these manipulations don't work on me. We're all cynical. We all know the games aren't free, that we're being suckered. If someone asked us rationally would you rather pay $3 for a game designed to be fun versus a free game specifically designed to constantly bother you for money, many of us would say we'd pay $3. But then you're bored and want to waste 5 minutes so you go into the app store and there's the $3 game next to the free game. $3 is a commitment, maybe it isn't good. Download the free game. It sucks. Whatever. Next guy does the same. Boom. Suddenly the $3 game doesn't show up when you look at what games everyone is playing.
It's really not obvious how to avoid obfuscation and manipulation in a 'free' market.

Comment Re:Catching cheaters is missing the point (Score 1) 437

I agree in principle. However, in my experience, when there are no tests with consequences then high school students do absolutely nothing.

Furthermore, students don't interpret grades as a useful evaluation of their current understanding of a topic. They see it more as a personal judgement. You'll never hear, "Oh, I didn't do well. What am I not understanding?" What you hear is, "You gave me a bad grade. You don't like me." From there it divides into those who feel depressed about it and those who feel angry about it.

Our educational problems are extremely complex.

Comment Re:I used to procotor for one of my Profs. (Score 1) 693

As a high school teacher, I printed out 3 different tests once and didn't tell the students. It was comical how much like a photocopy some tests looked, all solving the wrong problems. One girl was copying off a boy who turned his test in early, so she only managed to copy the first line of the last problem. She then proceeded to correctly solve the problem that the boy had gotten wrong - except it wasn't the problem from her test.

Comment There's always a special kid. (Score 3, Interesting) 412

I agree with the sentiment that the assignment is good for getting student brain activity going and for learning about critical thinking.

However, I've also worked with high school students and the opposing argument is not entirely without merit. There *are* those kids who don't understand sarcasm, don't follow even the most basic logical arguments and may not understand that discussing terrorism does not imply becoming a terrorist. Slashdot posters who breezed through high school should understand that many people barely passed (hell, many people fail).

And obviously, school administrators don't want to get the angry phone call from a parent "you're teaching my kid to be a terrorist!" so they have to say they don't support it even if they could care less.

Comment Re:Next step to prevent PC piracy (Score 5, Interesting) 795

I personally feel DRM is kind of a side issue. The real problem here is a cultural expectation of free media. People think it's trivial to copy and therefore the cost should be zero.

I know a guy who makes six figures and refuses to buy any games because he doesn't have to. Furthermore he makes fun of me for buying games. To him the norm is pirating and you're stupid if you don't.

The consequences of this attitude will be bad for gaming, whether it's in the form of DRM, micro-transactions, or other schemes companies use to force people to buy their product.

What we need is to get closer to the root cause. We need stuff like student prices and lower prices on older games. There needs to be some education that games cost money to make, even indie games. Maybe even some kind of forced government pool. I personally want there to be a huge investment in games and other entertainment and I think if people understood the whole process they'd agree.

Comment Re:As someone who was better than average... (Score 1) 427

I always felt like high school math teachers failed at motivating anything. No history. No real explanation. No context. Just memorize.

And then I spent a year teaching high school math. Do you know what students say when you bring in history sheets, make them do experiments or talk about the bigger picture? "Is this going to be on the test?" "This isn't math, I don't want to read in math class." "Can you just tell us how to do the homework problems please?" "I hate math."

I think it's erroneous to believe that if math teachers only gave things more context, everyone would 'get it.' I wish it worked that way, but I don't think it does. Most students are primarily concerned with socializing and they've basically turned their brains off to other things.

Comment Unschooling or Information Transfer? (Score 2, Interesting) 1345

At one end of the spectrum unschooling, at the other a top-down, here are the facts you must know system (which is roughly where we are now). Where do we want to be on the spectrum? Whatever your innate predisposition is, it's worth mentioning that this question is very complex and not completely understood question. In California in the 60s, there was a move by educators to replace grammar focused primary education with lots of book reading. The idea was that learning grammar rules was boring and it would be much more effective to read books and learn by doing. It failed miserably and the state quickly reverted back to the traditional approach. My take is, little kids are already pretty curious about how things work and they just want the structural content so they can get up to speed as quickly as possible. On the flip side of this, there have been quite a few studies showing that little kids engage in all kinds of problem solving and learning when they're playing. Trying to force facts into their heads (flash cards, etc.) isn't terribly useful. A mathematics professor I knew once mentioned the appalling low percentage (~10-20% from memory) of math phds who publish more than one paper. I suggested this was evidence of a structural failure in higher education. The authoritarian information transfer model we currently have doesn't produce people who are capable of independent, creative problem solving because they've never had to do it until the very end of their education. His counter was that you had to know a huge amount of information before you could engage in actual problem solving (ie, you can't read before you know grammar). My own personal opinion is that the 'illusion of self-discovery' model is best. That's where you have a teacher who gets you to ask the right questions and pushes/helps when you get stuck as well as paces you according to your ability. But here too, there are problems. Realistically, high schools can't even find enough teachers who have basic science/math skills, much less ones able to provide the 'illusion of self-discovery'. More subtly, as anyone who's ever had to teach at high school+ level, most teenagers are concerned with sex and social relationships. They don't want to learn stuff they don't think is useful and they're smart enough to game any system. How do you get someone who doesn't want to listen to ask the right questions? It might even be that there exist different learning styles in the same way that there seem to be distinct personality types. Perhaps some people learn well in information transfer environments and others in self-discovery ones. How do you build an education system around that?

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