Week of March 20, 2011
Week of March 20, 2011

Week of March 20, 2011

March 25 th 2011

1. Highlights from " Rules for Lectures

" by Alan Jacobs:

5) Turn your stupid, stupid, stupid cell phone off, and never look at it during the lecture.

6) If you plan to take notes, do so on paper. Do not haul out your laptop and make your neighbors try to listen to the speaker over the constant rattling of your keyboard.

7) Shut up. Listen to the speaker. Don't say anything to anyone at any time—unless, during Q&A time, you actually have a question you'd like to know the answer to. (Note that almost none of the people who ask questions of public speakers are interested in getting real answers.)

8) Do not eat anything. What are you, some kind of barbarian? Wait until the lecture is over and then eat in a place appropriate for eating. No one listening to a lecture wants to smell your food or hear you chew, swallow, and suck your drink. No one.

Thank you for your cooperation.


Computer Games Don't Rot the Brain: They Help Us Learn

. From The Atlantic: "The challenge of game design is to create virtual worlds in which play can lead to real learning and exploration as people push against the rules to discover the game's underlying logic. In the game described above, I used a method of trial and error to discover that proximity to my character triggered movement in the tomb guards: the closer I got, the more active they became. Once I understood this I could develop a strategy to counter it; approach the guards from behind at very slow speeds to weaken their rate of detection. Through repeated testing of my character's movement abilities—I could run and jump but not fly—I was able to develop a theory of how gravity worked in the game. This is a good rule to know when navigating a space containing trap doors and steep vertical drops. Importantly, I almost never got things right the first time. Failure is a natural by-product of game play as players work to overcome the obstacles that have been designed to help them develop the skills they need to beat the game.


is really nothing more than a looping math problem that gives players varied opportunities to build pattern recognition expertise."

"All games, from





Angry Birds

and beyond, provide players with complex problem spaces to explore in ways that are both fun and challenging. These spaces might take on the tone and texture of an ancient civilization, horror film, intergalactic space station, or mafia headquarters. When designed well, games can evoke a sense of transformation and change, as players push against the limits of the rules in creative and powerful ways. Some players of the game

Dance Dance Revolution

, for example, figured out that they could radically elaborate on the basic dance moves of the game as long as they stayed on beat. Locking, popping, and spinning quickly raised the bar for what DDR dancing looks like and the types of mad skills it really takes to play."


Will religion soon be extinct in Canada and Ireland?

From our friends at First Things.

4. Let's be civil: "Arguments are not abstract propositions in the air. They are human performances towards other humans, in which the choice of vocabulary, the tone of voice and the look in the eyes all matter for whether the performance is virtuous or vicious." —

Martha Nussbaum, reviewing Stefan Collini

Well, yes. And: "In order for this understanding to inform our actions, we need to participate in practices that cultivate it. In short, we need a spirituality to enforce and enable it. We need the church. The church, with its liturgical practices and spiritual formation, teaches and forms us to be civil. By its own "civility" and incarnation of a particular perception and way of being in the world, the church cultivates this civility in us. Through its liturgy and sacramental practices, we learn how to treat others and are trained to treat others in this way. (I often think about how the Lord's Supper cultivates courtesy and hospitality. Next time you get in 'line,' pay attention to how the line forms.)" —

Kyle David Bennett

, reviewing

Richard Mouw


Little Big Words

: In the world of new media, "you" and "i" are more than just pronouns . . .

6. "That is why religious freedom is humanity's first and most important freedom. Our first governor is God, our Creator, the Governor of the universe. We are created for a religious purpose. We have a religious destiny. Our right to pursue this destiny precedes the state. Any attempt to suppress our right to worship, preach, teach, practice, organize and peacefully engage society because of our belief in God is an attack not only on the cornerstone of human dignity, but also on the identity of the American experiment." —Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, "

Subject to the Governor of the Universe: The American Experience and Global Religious Liberty,

" keynote speech at the conference on "Religion in American Politics and Society: A Model for Other Countries?" Berkley Center, Georgetown University, March 1, 2011.


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