- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 15, 2006

Play (Station) time

“Nongamers who watch their slack-jawed, twitchy-thumbed children and conclude that they are brain dead are making the mistake of observing the spectator rather than the game itself. Research has shown that playing video games can help people improve their ability to manipulate spatial information, and that as little as 10 hours of play can improve a person’s ability to process visual information. …

“But focusing on how video games improve coordination and memory misses the point. In a recent issue of Wired, well-known game designer Will Wright compares this mistake to studying film by watching the audience rather than what’s on the screen: ‘You would conclude that movies induce lethargy and junk-food binges. That may be true, but you’re missing the big picture.’

“Wright proposes that video games teach ‘the essence of the scientific method,’ that ‘through trial and error, players build a model of the underlying game.’ To succeed, a player must establish a hypothesis about some aspect of the game, test it, and evaluate the results of the experiment … . A video game often hides its rules, revealing them only as the player figures out how to unlock the game’s secrets. And when that happens, a game player can experience an ecstatic Archimedes moment.”

— Chris Suellentrop, writing on “Are Video Games Evil?” from the summer issue of the Wilson Quarterly

Leading indicators

“A bishop is as much a spiritual father to his priests as he is to the laypeople. His leadership cannot be dictatorial. They must work together for the good of the Church. It doesn’t mean that the bishop must be milquetoast either. It’s not that different from good military leadership. A good officer is not a dictator, a martinet, but he also doesn’t let himself sway in the wind of popular opinion.

“A good example is found in the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian. Captain Jack Aubrey always solicits the input of his officers and even his regular sailors, but when the time comes to make a decision, he’s the one who makes it. And if someone under his command should make a mistake, he’s the one who takes ultimate responsibility.

“This is how a bishop should be. It’s how a businessman should work too. (Hmm, maybe that would be a good book: ‘Captain Jack Aubrey’s lessons in leadership for business and life.’)

— Domenico Bettinelli, writing on “Anonymous petitions by priests in New York,” Saturday on the Web site Bettnet.com

Lil’ Kim

“North Korea tests a nuke. It should be shocking and surprising. But North Korea’s nuclear posturing is old news, and petulant displays as Kim Jong-il’s struggling regime clamors for attention only underscore his limitations. Missiles that crash after liftoff and clumsy World War II A-bomb technology.

“East Asia is no more dangerous today than it was a week ago. If anything, it is safer, as the pressure on China and Russia to lean on North Korea has increased, and Japan is mulling a more robust defense. Lil’ Kim is angling for the survival of his squalid regime. That makes serious conventional or nuclear attacks by North Korea unlikely, as long as the United States maintains a credible deterrence.

“North Korea wants a big stage, upon which it can inflate its own importance and set up a good pratfall for the United States. And there are American politicians who want to reward Kim Jong-il’s saber-rattling by giving him what he wants. This is absurd.”

— Jules Crittenden, writing on “No Surprise: October Follies Arrive,” yesterday in the Boston Herald

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