Saturday, May 5, 2012

2 [chat]s till Diablo 3

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Diablo 3: End of Days TV Spot

Now THAT is a fucking Freeze Frame!

Window Surprise

The Physics of Penguin Shitting.

You're welcome.

Diablo 3: Real Money Auction House FAQ

Back in August of 2011 I made some baseless speculations regarding D3's real money auction house (RMAH).  Today, Blizzard released actual information regarding how the RMAH shall work.  Here is the important information:

Real Money Auction House:
  • $1.25 minimum list price.
  • $250 maximum list price.
  •  $1 Transaction fee for equipment.
  • 15% Transaction fee for commodities.
  • 15% Transfer fee to send profits to PayPal.
  • Bids increase in 5% increments.
  • $.10 minimum bid increment.
Those are the numbers.  While the minimum list price is not daunting, setting hard bid increments indicates that things could get fairly expensive fairly quickly.  I was hoping for a low end prices to be in the $.50 range, with penny increments for each bid.  Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that prices shall end up much higher than that.

The worst part of this, as far as I am concerned, is the transaction / transfer fee.  Blizzard takes 15% of the sale price, and then another 15% to send the profit to one's PayPal account.  Also, from what I can tell, when you list an item you has to specify whether the profit goes to your Blizzard account or PayPal account.  You cannot decide after the fact.  I suppose people could still make some money grinding very high level gear and selling it in the $100+ range, but even then you aren't going to be able to make rent money unless you have an army of asian gold farmers at your disposal.

As if that was not bad enough, Blizzard is severely limiting how one can spend one's Blizzard balance.  If you avoid that 15% cut and send the profits to your Blizzard balance, you can only spend it on these things:

World of Warcraft Character Services:
  • Appearance Change
  • Faction Change
  • Name Change
  • Race Change
  • Realm Transfer
World of Warcraft Guild Services:
  • Guild Faction Change
  • Guild Name Change
  • Guild Realm Transfe
World of Warcraft Digital Upgrades:
  • WoW:  Battle Chest to WoTLK
  • WoW:  Battle Chest to Cata
  • WoTLK to Cata
  • Diablo 2 & LoD
  • Starcraft 2
  • Starcraft Anthology
  • Warcraft III:  Reign of Chaos & Frozen Throne
Things to note about that list:

  • Cannot pay WoW Subscription Fee
  • Cannot buy WoW pets / mounts
  • Cannot buy Blizzard merchandise (shirts, mugs, etc.)
I had hoped that Blizzard would not be money grubbing dickholes with the RMAH.  Unfortunately, they seem to view it as a way to profit off of their fanbase.  This makes sense, when you consider how much they stand to lose from people canceling their WoW accounts, but it's still dickish on their part.

As Lando said, "This deal keeps getting worse all the time!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Science: Teach the Controversy

I recently had the opportunity to listen to some professional philosophers argue about the concept of rational belief:  In a society of differing opinions, what constitutes a rational belief?  While pondering different aspects of this discussion, I began to think about the controversy surrounding evolution v intelligent design.  Specifically, I thought about the position that one ought to "teach the controversy", the idea that evolution needs to be presented as one view among many.

I am supposed to think that teaching the controversy is an incredibly fucktarded idea that subverts education and fosters religious indoctrination.  It's supposed to be a laughable notion.  Yet as I think about it some more, and mentally temper some of the religions motivations for the political movement that fosters the position, I think there might be something to it.  Perhaps there is some virtue to teaching the controversy.  The question is what is meant by "teaching the controversy".

Let me be clear:  By "teach the controversy" I do not mean that a teacher says, "Science says X.  Religion says Y.  Whelp, I dunno!  You figure it out."  What I mean is that a science class could focus upon the historical development of scientific ideas and teach the genuine controversies that have occurred in the history of human thought.  Science classes are modified to favor "history of ideas" rather than "here is a spreadsheet of facts".  I think this change would behoove scientific education and provide a better response to religious opposition than simply ignoring it.

Point 1:  Let the arguments play themselves out.

Suppose you're teaching astronomy.  Currently, it seems that we state the planetary mnemonic and then quiz students over planet order.  But what if we taught the historical development that occurred as we transitioned from a geocentric model to a helicentric model?  Suppose we teach astronomy like this:  "Once upon a time humans thought the earth was the center of the universe, because God said humans were special.  Over time, as we tried to explain our observations in terms of that system, we employed goofy notions such as retrograde motion, epicycles, and various other quirks to try to get our observations to mesh with our beliefs.  Once we junked the idea that humans were super-special, and placed the sun at the center of our solar system, shit made more sense."

How is that story detrimental to a developing mind?  Moreover, how does it not speak to the exact debate that happens now with evolution?  We start with a religious belief, we test it against the experiential world, and we find better explanations than "GOD!"

Or take the belief that the earth was flat (since Jesus ascended into heaven, and you can't ascend from a sphere).  Or the belief that illness resulted from demonic possession.  Or the belief that dancing was causally efficatious in precipitation.  Are we really worried that we'll start from a point of religious superstition, apply science, play out the developing ideas, and find that religion was correct?  It is advantageous to teach the historical development of ideas and demonstrate to students why science is more advantageous than religion for explaining phenomena.

Moreover, students already believe this.  When they get sick, they go to a doctor.  When their tooth hurts, they go to a dentist.  All science teachers have to do is utilizes these experiential habits as a gateway into the conversation about science's merits.

Point 2:  Science is fallible.

The key difference between science and religion is that science is fallible whereas religion is dogmatic.  Despite this fact, students who enter science classrooms are handed scientific facts that they must memorize and regurgitate, just as, historically, priests were tasked with memorizing the Psalms.  Instead of handing facts to students, we ought to allow students to partake in the scientific endeavor.  Allow them to formulate and test a hypothesis.  Allow them to learn how we came to think of light's speed as a fixed constant, why germs explain illness better than demons, why the beaks of finches differ.

I mean, hell, why don't all sixth graders raise a few generations of fruit flies over a school year?  Let them do the experiments.  And for the love of fuck, don't give them a experiment and tell them how it's supposed to turn out; let them test it for themselves.

When we hand down scientific facts as unquestionable dogma, we're blurring the distinction between religion and science.  When I took a geology class, I was told how one goes about discerning which mineral is which.  I was not allowed to speculate, to form a hypothesis, to test different ways of exploring the world.  I was told, quite dogmatically, how to do a scratch test.  In the world I'm suggesting, I would have been handed a box full of minerals and told to find a way to meaningfully categorize them.   Which, interestingly, is probably how geological science actually progressed.

Point 3:  I am correct.

Our current method of teaching science does not adequately communicate the fundamental difference between religious dogma and scientific fallibilism.  When we hand students information and demand that they memorize it, without questioning its merits, we are replicating what they find in religious institutions.  When we allow students to conduct simple experiments in chemistry class, but tell them what is "supposed to" happen, we skew their understanding of the scientific method.

It's no wonder that many students cannot discern a difference between religious belief and scientific hypothesis.

If we actually taught the controversy, if science classes engaged the history of ideas, then they could better communicate both the "facts" they wish to present and the core values that makes science what it is.

Dark Knight Rises: Trailer 3

"This isn't a car."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Diablo 3 Game Client LInks

Here is a child-porn-free Reddit post that provides links to all available Diablo 3 game clients.

Diablo 3 Windows and Mac download links. ALL available versions.

The servers will not go live until 7 p.m. on the release day.  Or, at least, that is what I have read.  So, if you want to be ready to go when the servers are live you might want to download the client now and have it ready to launch at 7 p.m.

Ideally, you will be able to start installing the game as soon as servers go live, and then provide your game key once your Collector's Edition arrives in the mail.

Because you ordered the Collector's Edition, of course.  And you ordered it with release day delivery, of course.

ed: If you order using this link you can help ensure my child will be able to go to college. Thanks. - ml