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Games for the Weekend: Bang!

It is that time of the moment, my Games for the Weekend!  This week I have a real crowd pleaser and quickly become a party favorite in my house.  I only discovered this game at a friend’s behest for me to check out the game.  This weekend’s game is the spaghetti western know as Bang!

Bang… bang bang!

 

Bang! is a card game that recreates the feel of being in wild west shootout.  It is you versus the other players in a shootout.  However, there is one problem; no one knows who each other is.  Well you know who the Sheriff is but that is little consolidation for the Sheriff when he does not know who his deputy is.  Bang is as much a card game as it is a deduction game, one where you have to figure out who is who, with each person’s role dictating what they will do in the game.

Overview
Bang! is card game where players take the one of five possible roles, each with their own goals.  The Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaws and the Renegade.  The Sheriff must kill the Outlaws and Renegade.  The Deputy needs to protect the Sheriff and help him kill the Outlaws and Renegade.  The Outlaws want the Sheriff dead and does not care who gets in their way.  The Renegade wants everyone dead so he can become the new Sheriff.  Players utilize their card hand to bring their individual goal to fruition.

 

The goal of the game is to achieve your role’s motive.

Gameplay
To begin players are given a role in the game, the number of Outlaws and Deputies change depending on the number of players.  However, rest assured there will be at least one Sheriff, Outlaws and one Renegade in every game.  Players are then dealt a Character card, the Character cards tell the player who they are and what special abilities they have for the game.  These special abilities allow the player to either bend the rules or modify them with new rules that only they can use.

After the roles and characters are handed out, the Sheriff introduces his role as the Sheriff and tells everyone what Character he is and what special ability he has.  Going clockwise everyone else introduces what Character he or she is and the special ability they have for the game.  The Character cards also tell the player how many Bullets they receive for the game; Bullets are life in the game.  The Sheriff gets one extra Bullet just for the pleasure of being the Sheriff.

Players then receive cards in relation to their life, if they have 4 Bullets they receive 4 cards.  The number of Bullets a player has is the number of cards they may have left over in their hand at the end of their turn.  On a players turn they will draw two cards and then play as many cards as they can in their hand.  The only caveat to this is that they may only play one of each type of card, unless they have a special ability on their Character that allows them to modify that ability.  For example, Will the Kid Character card allows that player to play as many Bang cards as he/she has.

The main way to attack the players is with the Bang card.  It should be noted at this point that the game has a distance mechanic.  That is players can only shoot other players who are within their shooting distance.  Shooting distance is how many seats away from you the player you want to shoot is from you.  This distance is shown by your gun you have in play.  It should be noted at this time also that cards come in two different color borders.  Blue border cards are equipable cards that stay with your character, for example weapons.  Green bordered cards have an immediate effect like a Bang card.  When a player plays a Bang card they play the card on the person they are shooting.  At this point, the player being shot at may played a Missed card to avoid taking a hit or they must lost a life and remove a Bullet.

Some examples of other cards with instant effects are Beer, the card allows a player to regain one Bullet (Life.)  There is a Duel card that allows you to stare down another player in a duel, first person who cannot produce a Bang card will lose one Bullet.  Players can also place other players in Jail!  Then there is the dreaded Dynamite card which will be passed from player to player to see who it blows up on, resulting in a loss of 3 Bullets to the player.

When a player loses their last Bullet they are dead and now must reveal their role and discard their remaining cards.  The game continues until either the Sheriff is killed or all the Outlaws and Renegade are killed.

 

I Shot the Sheriff
Bang! is a great party game that really gets people into the theme of the game.  One of the best parts of the game is introducing your Character to everyone; this one little simple aspect of the game manages to put people in the feeling of a western.  In addition, it never gets old in a game of Bang! to scream BANG, every time a Bang card is played.  Little touches like that really make you feel like you are in a western staring down the bad guys.  Not to mention it’s fun to yell Bang! from time to time.

Bang! is a great party game, also a great opening game to get a great night of gaming going.  And it really works as a fun family game, although I will warn you that the younger ones will have a tough time keeping their roles a secret, still the game is fun nonetheless.

The other aspect I really love about the game is the deduction aspect of the game.  It is very satisfying to make assumptions, play on those assumptions and find you were right.  It also is devastating to find out you as the Sheriff have killed your Deputy leaving yourself along to fight the Outlaws and Renegade.

The only drawback I could point to is the amount of players you need to play.  Getting 4 players together can be a drawback to some people.

If you are looking to pick up the game, I recommend Thought Hammer (and no I’m not getting commission.)  Alternatively, you can peruse Google Shopping.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Board Games, Gaming

 

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I am the King of Siam, Yes I Am

Funny how life takes you on a journey, and one day to the next you never know where that journey will lead you.  I am back to share my insight into the joys of modern day living.

A while back, I brought up the subject of texting and then law making.  As I explained there, one of the problems we face with lawmakers is the fact that those who pass laws are fallible themselves and we must be slow to passing laws.  Not only does society have the problem of leadership fallibility but a question of leadership itself.  In addition, when you add the quick nature modern society is changing as it adjusts to current changes, you have a recipe for problems to arise.

California was one of the first to pass an anti-texting law.  And as usual people applauded the move and many guaranteed lives would be saved.  However, a funny thing happened, the laws did not work.  Not only did they not work, they actually increased accidents.

Researchers examined data from California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington in the months preceding and following the anti-texting implementation. In three of the four states, the number of accidents caused by distracted driving actually increased. And this correlation may be blamed on drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 — 45 percent of this demographic admit to texting in spite of the bans. And in all four states, the number of crashes involving these young drivers increased.
http://smallbusiness.aol.com/2010/09/29/are-anti-texting-laws-causing-more-accidents/

As I have said many times before the problem is not one caused by a single distraction, but is caused by drivers who are not properly trained to drive with distractions.  Moreover, what leaves this writer scratching his head is why we needed a law, when we have distracted driving laws on the book.  Nevertheless, more states followed and more whack-a-mole laws became statutes.  Moreover, as I pointed out before the laws were thinly thought out legislation that did not think of changing technology.  In fact, the legislation seem to only look at the negatives of technology versus their positives.  As pointed out before, safety innovations in automobiles coming from technology are going to save more than kill.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise when this news item popped up on my horizon yesterday, but sadly, it did.

Starting Jan. 1, cops will allow you to send, dictate and listen to text messages while driving, but only if you’re using a separate, voice-activated device that’s connected to your phone — something like a headset or Bluetooth earpiece or a program inside your car like OnStar. Just turn on the device, say “text mom” and talk out the message. If your mom is driving, her earpiece will blurt out the message.
http://www.siliconvalley.com/latest-headlines/ci_21073057/new-law-allows-hands-free-texting-while-driving

Add to that message this amazing revelation:

On Friday, after much head-scratching and acknowledging nobody in (Assemblyman) Miller’s office owns a Siri-equipped iPhone 4S, the assemblyman’s aides concluded it will still be illegal to use your actual phone to text behind the wheel — even by speaking the message directly into Siri.

Add to that:

“The larger trend is that these laws get passed pretty quickly or by people who don’t understand the technology,” said Glenn Abel, whose Hands-Free Info website has been tracking distracted driving laws around the nation for five years. “And they’re finding that once they get these laws into the field, there are problems, so they come back and try to fine-tune everything.”

Again, we have lawmakers who keep showing repeatedly their lack of understanding of what they are legislating.  Again, I have to ask why distracted driving laws are not enough to handle the issue.  While I will agree that texting is a dangerous pursuit while driving, so is any other distraction behind the wheel.  Moreover, that brings up the question of why we have laws that nitpick one negative over another.  This kind of lawmaking only further takes us away from safety instead of towards it.  This kind of thinking from lawmakers allows drivers to say to themselves “I’m safe brushing my teeth, reading a book as long as I’m not speeding or texting.”

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Driving, Law

 

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Twofer (yeah I made that up)

Another day another 2 for 1 article.  The past week brought up two interesting articles.  And for the second straight week CNN is in my radar.

In the words of Charlie Brown: “Ugh”

As another, in what is probably going to be an ongoing, update to my article on Julie Amero, comes the story of a new ransomware virus.   Ransomware viruses are the type that lock your computer down and usually pop up messages that you are infected by a virus or some other malware with the intent of getting you pay to remove it.  The problem is once you pay the virus remains still taunting you by asking for payment for removal.

This variation, called Reveton, lures the victim to a drive-by download website, at which time the ransomware is installed on the user’s computer, says the U.S. Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Once installed, the computer freezes and a screen is displayed warning the user they have violated United States Federal Law. The crimeware declares the user’s IP address was identified by the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section as visiting child pornography and other illegal content.
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/053112-citadel-259739.html?hpg1=bn

Scammers are now using threat of child pornography to steal money.  As I pointed out in the Julie Amar article, there needs to be protections for people in public from this type of scam and virus, but I also believe we need to extend that to the general public.

One thing I contemplated with the Julie story was how we have placed child pornography at the level of the Red Scare.  No one will argue that child pornography is not a serious crime, but it seems that one is guilty before trial with a simple accusation.  Too many times do I read a news story of someone accused of a crime towards children and see comments that from the public that have convicted the person from the start.  As was shown with Julie Aero it is easy to judge the story based on the cover, but very few were quick to read the pages.  It makes me wonder if crowds with pitchforks and torches still go around looking for witches.

And speaking of crowds with pitchforks, I was made aware of CNNs Andrew Keen article on Facebook.

Luddites are people who are “any opponent of industrial change or innovation” and I keep seeing these types of people pop up more and more.  Now I have to say if you want to be a luddite, it is your choice, don’t own a telephone or computer, to me it does not matter.  But when you want to take your tech-luddicity to the masses you first better understand your subject before you speak in an expert fashion.

I am in complete agreement that some in society have no clue what they are giving up when they give out personal details like they do on Facebook.  I agree that the cost of free online is putting us as a consumer but I can’t agree with a statement like this:

The social network is taking something much more important than money from its nearly one billion members. By sabotaging what it really means to be human, Facebook is stealing the innocence of our inner lives.

It may even be Zucking us up as a species.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/30/tech/keen-technology-facebook-privacy/index.html

The problem with an over the top statement like this is that it ignores the reality of a world where we give up freedoms every day.  Most people don’t think about when they go to a grocery store and sign up for the cards we are giving up data to be used for marketing.  There are many places in the “real” world where we are asked to trade our information for some benefit.  Moreover, if we choose the risk (and it always is a risk) we should know what we are giving up.  We will never live in a world where people think about every decision they make.  This in itself is good and bad.  But the worst is those that tell others how to live.

The issue with an article like this is that it only covers the negatives and not the positives.  And it also brands everyone as a person with lack of brain power to choose whether the information they give up is smart enough to make that choice.  The article for all its talk of narcissism the author likes to point out that he “smart” enough to choose to give up Facebook to save humanity.

But what it leaves out is how this type of phenomenon has existed throughout history and the type of people it can create never changes.  Again, we have an article that says this new form is wrong and the old is better.  The problem is not the mechanism that creates it is bad, but the root cause, the person who chooses to become narcissistic.  The mechanism can be music, books, movies, politics and schools.  Many things in life present us with opportunities to become what Andrew Keen points out, but for him it is easiest to eliminate that which has no bearing on his life.  One could make the argument that his writing a series of articles for a website is the same as what he describes Facebook to be, therefore according to his logic websites should be given up in this age.

Logic like this always makes me go bang my head.

This is not to say that I am the biggest fan of Facebook.  As with all platforms it is how you use the platform.  To simple brush the positives under the rug to prove the negatives is dishonest and unprofessional at best.  Most importantly, what is seen on Facebook is not unique to Facebook.  The Guinness Book of World Records proves that.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Technology

 

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Rant: I don’t want your app…

The other night I picked up my phone and clicked on Pulse.  Pulse is a web reader designed for mobile that lets you pick your favorite sites and get their content.  You can separate your news sources by topic and tab and for the most part has replaced the newspaper for news in my life.   I get to peruse through stories from all over the web and world in a nice convenient format.  Most of the time, the stories will be teasers on the major newspaper sites and I have to click on a “Read More…” link.  Some sites are nice enough to allow me to read the whole story in Pulse app.  Lately though I have been noticing some rather bothersome behavior from clicking the “Read More…” links.

Usually when a story gets my attention and I choose to read the story I get taken to the site’s website and with my phone’s generous screen size, even sites that don’t have mobile counterparts are very readable.  Nevertheless, for some reason I have noticed more and more sites have cut me off from even that choice, instead offering me a 404 unreachable page.  And if they let me reach the main site, some news sites have gone as far as giving a teaser on the website itself, choosing to cut main content off by a paywall.  For those who do not know what a paywall is, it is a website that does not allow you to view content without paying first for access.

For a geek like me these paywalls are usually no problem.  First a well known story will be available at other places and when it becomes necessary I have my ways to bypass the wall.  To be honest though, the paywall doesn’t bother me as much as the newest behavior that has become prevalent , the pushing of the app.  I am probably late to this game, but I am noticing more and more newspapers pushing their custom app to deliver their news.

To this, I say No Thank You.

There is one thing I liked about technology and that is making it work to my needs.  When I want to do my daily reading I rely on software and apps like FeedDemon and Pulse.  It allows me to go to start one piece of software to get more done and thus saving me a lot of time.  The reason I use these apps because they work brilliantly for my life, and as far as I can tell do for many other people.

This is not even a rant against paying for content, but for being able to use said content the way I want to.  If I found one of my favorite sites for information decided to go behind a paywall, I might gladly pay for said content but I want it delivered my way.  To me installing an app for each site I read would be insanity.  For those who still do not understand it would be like having to buy a TV for each channel you want to watch.

Imagine the fun of having a specifically branded TV that only allowed you to watch one channel!

That also brings up the other issue I have, that is the old does not want to work with the new.  Many times, sometimes on a daily basis I am reminded how the established does not want to change or work with the new.  We have seen this is music, movies, books and more established industries.  People now have choices where before they did not.  Moreover, the response to this loss of control has been clamping down to the detriment of the buying public.  While this might seem to be a solution, it just cuts off the old from the new and eventually will be their undoing.

It is truly ironic when you think about it, the only way the public can consume something is for said products to made and displayed to be chosen.  Locking down, and forcing people to make choices you want to them to make is not usually met with favorable opinion.  Consumers have so many choices that one less choice is not going to harm them, and the market is already filling the gaps of those who refuse to change and adapt.

And by the way, I still don’t want their app.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Technology

 

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Grouse with the Sky

On Sunday, I was playing a game of Innovation.  Innovation is a unique card game where player’s quest for achievements, the person who score five achievements wins.  This was the first time I was playing the game and as usual in a new game, it took me a while to figure out what I was doing.  As I proceeded through man’s history of innovations, represented by cards separated by ages, I found myself doing better as later age cards came my way.  An opponent, who had done well in earlier ages, found himself reeling from the cards I found myself with in later rounds of the game.  As he stayed in the past, using his older technology, my newer technology found a way to catch up and help me win the game.

One of the things I love about games is how they take something in real life and simplify it.  Laying it bare before you and sometimes letting you see the hidden truth of life.  In Innovation it was about how technology, man’s innovations changed society, how those who stayed behind and did not change were left behind.  Moreover, no one died, but not all opponents fared as well as others.  There were winners and losers.

Some people who read my articles will think I just side with technology, always seeing the positives and never seeing the disadvantages.  I will take that assessment and live with it, I do like to see the positives in the possibilities, because of the negatives of the realities.   That is to say, what could be done for the benefit of the whole is often ignored for the benefit of the few.  We have so many leaders who say they are looking out of the best for all, when reality is they are looking to the benefit of themselves.  This selfishness becomes a detriment to them in the end.  In addition, so many times in my life I have seen those who put selfishness to the side, ultimately prosper more.  Moreover, because we are a society that values a good cover, we sometimes never see the truth.

Every week, sometimes every day, I am reminded of how things are changing because of the current revolution we are going through.  Technology is once again changing us and it amazes me those who complain or use fear to dissuade the change.  Especially those who complain the loudest from their air-conditioned house, while using a phone or using a pencil and piece of paper to complain about the future.  Never once considering the things they are using to complain are the result of technology and change.  What is even sadder is the realization that those who are older or in power are using fear to prop up that which is obsolete and must go.

One such recent example of this is the Post Office.  The Post Office is becoming endangered and soon will no longer serve a good purpose.  One of the reasons the Post Office still exists is because of the slow growth of reliable broadband access in the country.  People just do not have the need for paper form of communication like they did before, when more direct and quicker options such as Texting, IM and E-Mail exist today.  And when you the reason for saving the institution is that senior citizens need junk mail to keep them company is a never a good sign.

Someone will be quick to point out that you cannot send a package any other way.  And while that is true, I will be quick to point out other companies who do that job also.

Another thing I am noticing is the fact that corporations and institutions (I am starting to think this is a very bad word) who have had a lock on certain sectors are starting to watch their grip fall away.   We have seen news agencies lose some of their grip to the rise of the blogger and man on the street reporting.  We are also seeing delivery of things like entertainment (music, movies) completely change power structures.  The traditional is becoming the old, and the ancient before our eyes.  Moreover, those who are not careful to watch the changes are going to swept up and left behind.

It is ironic to see the complaint about unfairness of current power structures towards those not in power, when the system that is so unfair is being made fair on its own.   It is almost as if the system finds a way of balancing itself out.  We are seeing the Horse and Buggy makers laughing at the Automobile makers in modern day.  Moreover, in the end those that put themselves ahead of others, ultimately find themselves the real losers.  In a world of “dog eat dog”, everyone loses.

In experiments at six public universities, students assigned randomly to statistics courses that relied heavily on “machine-guided learning” software — with reduced face time with instructors — did just as well, in less time, as their counterparts in traditional, instructor-centric versions of the courses. This largely held true regardless of the race, gender, age, enrollment status and family background of the students.
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/05/22/report-robots-stack-human-professors-teaching-intro-stats

This past week I found this story among my daily reads.  The article is about how machine guided instruction can be cheaper and more beneficial students then traditional forms of education.  Moreover, as with anything that disrupts the current, the shore of dissent arises.  Reading the comments to the article it is clear that those in power and those that have a vested interest are going to be resistive to change.

Now I will be quick to point out that:

The robotic software did have disadvantages, the researchers found. For one, students found it duller than listening to a live instructor. Some felt as though they had learned less, even if they scored just as well on tests. Engaging students, such as professors might by sprinkling their lectures with personal anecdotes and entertaining asides, remains one area where humans have the upper hand.

Change is not going to happen overnight and testing will need to happen to balance the two out.  Machine Guided Learning (also known as Online Learning) has a lot of bugs to iron out, but it is the a solution to a problem traditional learning cannot solve.  That is, those students that do not fit the averages of learning, and want to move forward on their own.  In the last five years there has been a movement towards Open Source Learning, that is higher education allowing anyone access to their educational materials to learn on their own.

I almost (sadly not) enrolled in Stanford’s free Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.  This was a free Online Course.

One thing that I ponder is why this is such a bad future for society as a whole.  The traditional would say that you get what you pay for, but is it not in our best interest to do what we can to pass on the next generation better opportunities in areas such as education, even if that costs society more.  Now when I talk about bigger costs I am not talking just about money, but about jobs.  Just as the Industrial Revolution cost jobs, I see the same happening now.  The traditional is becoming obsolete and that is not always a bad thing, as people will make it out to be.  In addition, looking at the situation as a whole the benefit to the whole of society outweighs the benefit of the few.

A few years ago, I was reading a book about how people romanticize about the past.  The never look back on the past with the proper light of truth.  People fantasize the past, looking at it through rose-colored stained glass windows never letting the truth come to light.  Because as we know fantasy is always better then reality…

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Technology

 

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The Same Never Changes

“If the media had given the Progress Party a fair chance without demonizing them before an election, then I wouldn’t have carried out the attacks,” Breivik told defense attorney Vibeke Hein Baera.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/0420/Norway-killer-Breivik-Voices-in-my-head-told-me-Don-t-do-this

The 33-year-old said he practised his shot using a “holographic aiming device” on the war simulation game, which he said is used by armies around the world for training.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/19/anders-breivik-call-of-duty

Again for the second time this week an article on CNN has caused me to want to put my head through a wall.  This is conclusive proof that news does cause violence!  Okay I’m being sarcastic, but in the many year of my life I’ve seen this topic come up too many times.  Let’s just go to what the article says:

Young men — who play video games and use porn the most — are being digitally rewired in a totally new way that demands constant stimulation. And those delicate, developing brains are being catered to by video games and porn-on-demand, with a click of the mouse, in endless variety.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/23/health/living-well/demise-of-guys/index.html

Fair Warning: I am not going to deal with Porn, because Porn was invented yesterday.

When I was growing up my Dad did a number of things, one was eating an orange.  Another was to watch nightly news at 6 pm on the dot, he enjoyed reading books and he liked to smoke a lot.  Also growing up I was always exposed to some family member at a reunion or wedding getting drunk.

Now sitting here typing this as an adult I must confess the harshest of truths!  I do not do any of the above.  One could argue that it is because of what I saw growing up I chose not to do those things.  For one I am not one who likes to do what I think is the norm.  This is not because it is the cool, rebellious thing to do but because I am a person who likes to taste and try many things.   For example, as a board gamer, I try to play anything and everything put before me.  If you tried to pin me down to saying what my favorite game is, it would have be dependent on the season of my life.

My life is a contradiction of what these studies say.  I should be a smoker, watch nightly news and probably drink.  I would venture it was probably because of over-exposure that caused me not to want any part of those activities.  For one I never liked when my Dad would start to cough from his body trying to expel the smoke from his lungs.  Thinking your Dad was going to keel over and die at a young age is never a fun experience.  Also seeing a person at a wedding get his head split open because he was drunk probably helped my teetotalism.  Even when I finally was able to try drinking, I did and never found it to my liking.  And I’m not talking about that get drunk trial period, I’m talking drinking one beer.  It’s just not my thing.

And because of these stances I don’t think I’m abnormal in the choices I made, or it makes me superior to others that chose different routes in life.  But maybe it does make me superior and maybe I should go on a crusade to rid the world of the evils of drinking!  That’s the ticket I’ll go on a crusade telling the world that drinking causes violence and….

Someone: Kevin!

Me: Yes.

Someone: Stop It!

Me: okay

One of the things that is disheartening, reading these articles and studies is how much it seems the same flawed, common sense, facts are treated as filthy lies.  One of the reason I feel like banging my head is because in over a decade of reading these studies and conclusions, even after proven wrong, they still persist with their claim that they have some miraculous way to ensure children will not become violent.  It is like those studies that said playing Classical Music will make your child become smarter.  It was flawed because truth be told (boy do I hate that cliché) there is no one set path to a child becoming anything.

Well actually there is, control.

Over a decade ago, I remember watching a programs on TV about MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and how it needed to be stopped because it was too violent.  What was interesting was how some things were glossed over, while critics wanted to say MMA was nothing but the Roman Coliseum come true in modern day society, Boxing was given the free pass.  It was interesting to see that MMA had rules to keep people from being beat senseless, while Boxing was the opposite.  It was also pointed out that people who opposed MMA and tried to get it outlawed were big supporters of Boxing.  A simple truth came to me that day, question everything.

I am not going to sit here and argue that all children should be exposed to hours of violent media.  I could do my own studies and prove this a good thing.    I once joked many moons ago, that I could do a study proving teaching a two year old how to use a shotgun would benefit society.  I have since learned I could.  A good study will lead to more questions, because there are no easy answers to life.  In addition, we as humans need to fail and learn from mistakes to grow.  When I read studies that say just remove this one thing and all will be better, I get scared because answers are never that easy, because these studies and conclusions tend to gloss over a lot data to get to their answer.

Moreover, questions that arise are never answered, or key information is left out.  Such was the case with the people who said video games caused Breivik to kill.  Sure he played Call of Duty and trained on it, so naturally we can conclude that there are millions of killers in waiting because of this epidemic, right?  Because a game that is played by millions means that there is an army being trained right now.  I actually don’t know if this is a bad thing, because glossing over which of the many Call of Duty game (this a multi-game franchise) one can’t tell which plot he was training for.  Was he training to stop Hitler, or was he training to stop some mad man who wanted to start nuclear war?  Is this a bad thing?

On the other hand, can we deal with the reality that Breivik had to use a device to turn the game into a true simulator?  Probably not because that would defeat the purpose of these studies, that there are many factors that come into play when real life violence happens.  Breivik also wrote a manifesto, he also read book, do we need laws to prevent the dangers of reading and writing?  Do we need to go on crusades to stop the “future” violence that can occur.

I think Penn & Teller summed up the real issues with this kind of thinking:

WARNING: This has some language

There is one last take away from these kinds of articles; Fear.  I have to say that I do not believe all the people who do these studies are “evil” and trying to manipulate people.  Yes there are some who do, but I believe most of the time these studies are a quest to find answers to problems in society.  However, an undercurrent in most of these studies is fear.  That is what is not understood must be the problem, or simple put we judge the front of the book too quickly.

This is no different then what people do when they play sports.  You know the stories of sports players who will not wash their hat because they’ve just won 20 games in a row.  Somehow that hat is the reason for the wins, so if the hat changes therefore the team will lose.  I see this done so many times in these studies, the new factors are treated as the cause of the problem and then the root is never looked at.  Just like the player who doesn’t wash his hat never looks at the reason for the wins, the raw talent of the players assembled, so do these studies gloss over root causes to get the quick and easy answer.

It would have been so easy to say Columbine happened because two people played a violent video game and watched a violent movie.  However, to get to that point you have to gloss the research they did to construct bombs, learn how to fire guns.  In addition, you have to gloss over the journals they wrote and then the therapy the killers got for their depression.  Moreover, when you think about it why were these things glossed over: Why wasn’t writing the problem?  Why wasn’t reading the problem?  Why wasn’t the drugs prescribed the problem?  And finally why wasn’t the Psychologists the problem?

Could it be that it’s easy to blame things that we don’t personally like and have no care if they go away.

Nah, how ludicrous for me thinking such a thing…

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Gaming

 

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Oh NOES The ____ beat me up…

Not only is the internet hurting children, it is also leaving the lights on when it leaves the room, and forgetting to put down fresh water for the cat. And I’m pretty sure it was the internet that keyed my car in a parking lot last month.
– John Titor

On Monday Chelsea Clinton and James Steyer, decided to write on the (QUOTE) “very real” (QUOTE) threat the Internet poses our children and teens.  Of course don’t forget the teens; you know they can’t think for themselves.  The great “truth” they want you know is this:

We need legislation, educational efforts and norms that reflect 21st-century realities to maximize the opportunities and minimize the risks for our kids. Only then will we be able to give them the safe, healthy childhood and adolescence they deserve.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/21/opinion/clinton-steyer-internet-kids/index.html

I tried my best to read the article with all seriousness but just could not.  Again we have the cry of “for the children” by people who want to see the best for our children.  As an aside the group they are a part of (Common Sense Media) was a big supporter of the recently struck down violent video game law in California.  This was the law that would have banned the sale of “violent” video games to minors.  I think this is part of the reason I could not look at the article with any seriousness.

Another part of the article is that it is so data driven with little argument towards reasoning for law.  One thing to remember when someone pulls out a slew of data is to ask yourself what the controls were.  Number data can be good but only when you know how the numbers were generated.  Then there is the problem of averages, sure 7 out of 10 people like this soda, but what about 8, 9 and 10?  See the problem with numbers is that those who don’t fit those averages are a world of data unto themselves.  In simple terms: 50% of 8s enjoy this soda, while 35% of the time enjoying this soda…

Now mind you that I am not against Government laws and regulations when called for.  However, the laws need to be based on solutions and not just quick fixes to problems.  Calling for some law to take care of a present day problem on the Internet is narrow minded and will become obsolete shortly.  Another problem with the article was while it was great in pointing out the negatives, it never pointed at the root cause.  Moreover, that is my problems with articles, it goes at great lengths to explain the problem, but never explains why it happens.  A problem, like a tree, always has a root that caused the problem to show itself.  If you want to kill the “problem,” attacking the root is the only way to take care of the “problem.”  It is funny how such an important issue like this one cannot take a few words to say the real issue: Parents are the problem.

That is what the article does not want to say, but does.  If children are spending so much time in fruitless pursuits, where are the parents?  But of course if it did that how many would listen?  Easier to blame the big ____ as the ultimate enemy, because it cannot defend itself, an inanimate object really has no voice to argue back.  Easy to beat up the scarecrow when you know he does not fight back.  Now mind you, if you find yourself in Oz I would think twice, he might punch back.

The other issue I have is the “urgency” for a conversation on an issue that has existed before the public knew it did.  The social part of the Internet did not just pop up overnight, and it did not start with Facebook.  Looking past adults, children have been on computers and technology since their invention.  If you do not want to buy into that, then I can assure you that since I was in elementary school I have been exposed to computers almost every day of my life.  Computers and the new technology, which is in constant flux, is now the normality of life and will not change barring complete collapse of society.

Moreover, this “conversation” is always urgent with those who no longer have control, nor should have control.  I again am not saying that the conversation is not needed if there were legitimate concerns.  But when the concerns seem to be geared towards “I don’t like how children act today” is not a good reason to stop the world so you can have your say.

In addition, that is not to say that all the arguments brought up within the article are bad.  For example, children understanding privacy, and the understanding of what they share is important.  But does that go to the extent of stopping them before failure and mistake?  When did it become necessary to stop children from making mistakes and sometimes failing?  I for one understand not giving a four year old the keys to the car and say go, boundaries are good no argument there.  Nevertheless, if steps are in place to keep children from bad things and they still go to those places, where do we put blame and what do we do to solve it?  Moreover, does that mean we always need Government to answer that problem?  As I pointed out before, if sexting crimes were allowed to continue the way they were, we would face a future were the majority of future adults would be sex offenders.

This whole issue comes down to this: Have you ever played the game of: Good or Evil?  Simple take an item, any item, and ask yourself this question: “Is it good or evil?”  Start with a knife and see where it takes you.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Technology

 

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