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"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."
So it seems that action games sharpen visual skills, eh? Correct me if I'm wrong, but even back in the '80s, weren't kids trying to convince parents games were "good for them" because they "improved hand-eye coordination"? I love the bit in the link that reads "Exactly why video games have [this effect] is not clear." The effect they're referring to is the "enhanced visual skill", and they give two examples of this skill--tracking multiple objects simultaneously and keeping up with fast-moving visual stimuli.

Um, so, maybe games have this strange effect because THOSE ARE THE THINGS YOU DO WHEN YOU PLAY GAMES. "More study is needed", they say. It's like taking two groups of people; one group regularly shoots baskets, the other group hasn't touched a basketball in years. Then you give them a basket and ball, and ask them to shoot some baskets in various ways, and the group which regularly practices does better in your "test". Then you say "hmm, we don't know why practicing shooting baskets has this effect... more study is needed".

At least it's a news story on video games which is NOT trying to demonize them or blame them for yet another societal ill or developmental problem. Maybe this could even lead to a desire by parents to get small children involved in action gaming, so as to confer upon them another advantage.

But really, they could have just asked. Play two thousand hours of high speed Unreal Tournament and then tell me you perceive things the same way. A lot of why someone progresses in skill in an amazingly three dimensional environment such as, for instance, UT's "Lo Grav" Deathmatch mode has to do with learning to deal with and instantly assess the locations, trajectories, and threat levels of tens or even hundreds of objects moving and unmoving in that environment simultaneously. Hundreds of hours of practice go into perfecting the movements needed to survive and thrive consistently in such a game at the highest level of competition... your eyes and brain don't just lose that when you turn off the power.

I imagine millions of gamers are scratching their heads wondering why the heck it's news that action gaming increases powers of visual perception... while millions of non/never gamers are scratching their heads wondering what they've been missing.
^ I wrote that. Then I thought about it for a while. Then I decided to look further. I found Rochester's press release. I called Mr. Sherwood. He gave me Ms. Bavelier's email address. I emailed her with my thoughts. I mentioned that I thought a better test might be one of spatial acuity, and that 3D games have given me my greatest "gains" in the area of spatial perception--the ability to judge velocities, locations, and distances in space. I said that the tests conducted thus far most closely mirror the skills used in the old school side-scrolling shooters--R-Type, Gradius, etc. I briefly, as an aside, defended "violent" video games. I gave her two pieces of advice: conduct other types of tests including spatial tests, and link them to other types of video games; and if they do go on to create their own games for therapeutic purposes, first and foremost make them FUN and ENGAGING.

I contacted Demian Linn from EGM magazine, gave him the link and Ms. Bavelier's email address, so maybe it'll show up next month there.

--I made a couple small tweaks to this site (I still plan to go full-tilt blog one of these days, but Diaryland hasn't gotten back to me with tech support). The archive page now has a background image. All links are still white (should be underlined though), but now there's a red "mouse over" color. And all links will now open in a new window, which means you don't have to use right click and "Open in New Window" (I hate that). I have some more things planned for later. I also used more links this time, and I plan to use a lot more from now on. I look back at even recent posts and see a hundred places I wish I'd used links to what I'm talking about. Soon I want to have a link for everything I mention.

--Three images. Sam Ward comments on the socialist EU Constitution. A guy from Samizdata presents the socialist evolutionary path. And another guy at Samizdata gives a real surgeon general's warning.

--Mavs bit it last night. What's so depressing is this: I'm on an early to bed/early to rise schedule these days, so after the third quarter, the Mavs surely looked like they had this one in the bag. They were up by 13 friggin points. I was tired. I went to bed (about 10:15, which is late for me). I wake up this morning (5:00) and find out the Spurs went on a friggin' 23 to 0 run in the fourth quarter and ended up winning by 12 friggin points. WTF? I guess I should have known something was up when Popovich brought in Steve Kerr, the best three point shooter in the history of the NBA (better than Miller, Majerle, Stojakovic) just before I hit power. He went 4 for 4 from beyond the arc in the fourth.

--So there's a new Playstation 2 version, the PSX (a strange choice for a name, for those of you in the know). It combines a PS2, a DVD recorder, 120 Gigs of hard drive space, a personal TV recorder, and broadband capability, among other things. Looks very smart, too. But ultimately extremely boring.

--Mike Tyson gave an interview this week, to Greta van Susteran of all people. Somehow the topic of his rape conviction years ago came up. Here's what the big teddy bear said:

"I just hate her guts... now I really do want to rape her."

--Curmudgeon wrote a really good essay. Five short sections. He makes so much sense it's shocking.

--David Jefferies has died during Isle of Man TT practice. If you've never heard of the TT, it's probably the most hardcore motorcycle race on the planet. I watched the 2002 race a few months ago on Speed. It's just insane, but incredibly cool. The circuit is almost 38 miles around, and has a multitude of blind turns, huge elevation changes, cobble-stone roads, dogs running out in the middle, rowdy fans all around the outside of the roads, trees, etc. It's great--they use this tiny island between Ireland and the mainland and ride the piss out of their bikes around it. There's really nothing like seeing those bikes travel real roads in an olde world town to show you how blisteringly fast they really are--the normal purpose-built track totally obscures the brutality of the acceleration and speed these things and these riders are capable of. And it takes a certain kind of rider to risk the most dangerous road race on earth. Some don't survive... like Jefferies. The course kills, on average, three riders per year. It's the objects on the side of the road that do it, ya see.

--Cycle vids for your consumption. First is Rossi on the RC211V, the greatest racer of our time taking us on a slow lap on the best motorcycle thus far designed by man (picture is of Nicky Hayden, but the same bike). The other one is highlights from the South African GP, but you'll need Windows Media Player 9 or the WM9 codecs for 7.x or later to watch it (but it's worth it and you can reinstall the otherwise superior 6.4). Highlights to look for: the tribute to deceased rider Daijiro Kato, the onboard telemetry for Bayliss' Ducati (he reaches 16,000 RPMs, which helps explain why these bikes make 220 horsepower and street liter bikes make 140 horsepower), Bayliss sparking all over the ground, and the battle between Rossi and Biaggi and later Bayliss. Good quality video, fitting music.

--Speaking of bikes, MCN had its "nineteen new bikes" issue a few days ago, now there's this cover to mull over. Honda's replacement for the 954 has been speculated on for months--will it be a V5, or will it be a traditional inline four but boosted to a full liter? Well, this cover seems to suggest BOTH--the CBR1000RR (yellow bike) would be the logical follow up to the CBR600RR--a bike which sorta borrows the look of the GP racer but sticks with a traditional engine. However, they also show an "RCV1000" (black bike with "V5" on the side), which I would assume uses a V5 engine like the RC211V. Apparently Kawasaki is already updating the ZZ-R1200 (blue bike). They've also evidently got a 2000cc version of the Mean Streak (cruiser at the top) in the wings. What really confuses me is the bike in the lower right. B-King?? But the B-King prototype looked like this (by the way, that supercharged, 240 horse bike would slaughter the Dodge Tomahawk in any acceleration test and maybe even in top speed). Interesting stuff, wonder how much of it will make it to the US. We already don't get a lot of the cooler bikes made today.

--We can all head back to our normal lives and breathe a sigh of relief. They've rolled out the orange terror alert and rolled in the yellow. I know we all feel a lot better now.

--Summer's here. They're looking for 101 degrees today in the DFW area. You know what that means for the temperature inside my apartment? Yesterday I ran the AC a little. Cold air comes in to the apartment. Dollars fly out of my bank account.

"Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia."

--The Greenpeace return I talked about last post happened. They protested at the shareholder's meeting. They didn't break in this time. Fortunately, Citizens for a Sound Economy was there, among other groups, and in fact they outnumbered the hippie treehuggers by more than three to one. Read the story. What a triumph. Just awesome. And here's the thing. The greenies and lefties have learned that they can buy one share of a company and then present issues for voting at shareholder meetings, referring to the company as "our company" . Who was it that posited that the way to "win", to eventually bring a socialist "utopia" (read: Hell) to the world was by using the mechanisms of freedom and capitalism against those who believe in freedom and practice capitalism? Anyway, Exxon shareholders said NOPE to the ludicrous proposals on the table.

My problem with those groups is that their message has very little to do anymore with ECOLOGY or real-world solutions for the future or FACTS. Nope. The Marxism, the anti-Americanism, the anti-property/anti-electricity stances (I'm not making that up--my environmental science lab prof, who was crazy, was building a house which doesn't use electricy and liked to talk about how bad "power" is), the foundationless rants that seem to come from outer space expose them as the useful idiots of the extreme far left. There's a reason Christine Todd Whitman, head of the EPA, has decried the Kyoto Protocol as a ludicrous instrument of anti-Americanism that would wreak vast destruction on our economy (while having little to no reversal effect on global warming). As far as I'm concerned, they COMPLETELY undermine any points they might ever make with all the baggage that comes along with their protests. Useless.

I wish I could point them to Andy Duncan's excellent The Cure for Socialism.

"If you are not a socialist when you are 20 then you have no heart. And if you are still a socialist at 40 then you have no brains."

--It appears the market's stagnation is over. NASDAQ's been up four months in a row. DJIA was up 8.9% for the month. Wow! The Dow will be above 9000 before we know it. Meanwhile, my Fool Portfolio (I can't link it, it requires a password) is growing large, with nVidia up almost 100% since I started two months ago! ATI isn't far behind. All this doesn't mean the economy writ large will be recovering any time soon. It's still an "untidy" situation for job hunters, as it will probably continue to be for some time.

--Secretary Rumsfeld was on the radio for Infinity Radio Connect. Steve Kroft interviewing. We were encouraged to send our email questions. My questions are too long to post here. Kroft read one line from my email along with lines from others making the point that several of us wanted to know about something (and more about that in my next post!). One of the interesting points Secretary Rumsfeld made, though, was that terrorism is our current biggest defense concern, but that the proverbial cat is out of the bag as far as nuclear proliferation. He said that five to eight nations will be bringing aggressive nuclear weapons programs on line in the next five to ten years.

--Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, who I am no fan of, is "going after" Ford concerning the "defect" in the Crown Victoria design. They blow up. We're talking about the Pinto company here. Miller wants Ford to recall all Vics across the country AND redesign them, or Dallas won't be ordering any more of them. I'm sure that's a knee-slapper for Ford's board of directors. I mean, how many has Dallas bought in the last decade... probably over two thousand of them. Ford already got its $40M from that city. The Crown Vic is an ancient design--rear wheel drive, pushrod V8, axle beam rear suspension, body on frame, slushbox, overboosted steering, gigantic exterior proportions with a surprisingly cramped interior. My stepmother drives one. There are a ton of other cars to choose from Mayor Miller. To be fair, though, maybe Ford should install a fix for the existing police Vics, though that's probably tens of thousands of cars nationwide. On the other hand, there are thousands of these ugly cars around, and how many models of cars can survive an 80 mph rear end collision and not have a pierced gas tank?

--A Florida woman who converted to Islam is pitching a fit because the state took away her driver's license. Why did they do that? She had a picture taken wearing her full-face-obscuring burqa. You literally couldn't tell if you were looking at her wearing a burqa or Greedo from Star Wars wearing a burqa. But don't you know, she's screaming about prejudice and abridgement of her "right" to drive. Shrewd readers will remember that driving is NOT a right, but a privelege. This has been established time and time again. And I don't care what your religion is, an identification card associated with driving priveleges is not an *identification* card if there's no hope of identifying the person in the picture. Good grief.

And an Arab-American rights group is complaining about profiling, particularly at airports. All I can really say is TOO BAD. We don't need to be going through the undergarments of frail 70 year old white women; but how about an Arab Muslim in his early 20s? Profiling is precisely what we SHOULD be doing. Security and intelligence is all ABOUT profiling. If you're young, male, of Middle Eastern descent, than you fit the profile. What would they have us do? Frankly, I was buoyed by the news story about their complaints. It shows they're using logic and reason to address security issues, rather than choosing to harrass sweet old ladies. Bravo. Email me, tell me why I'm wrong.

--Next time: visceral fat, Amnesty International, the FCC, Bob Geldof on Bush, the tax cut, the new banned words, NASA, the plague of centenarians, Lieberman, utopian rhetoric, first day of school, J.O.B., more on the new motorcycles, games, music, etc.