Apparently rats can be taught to play hide and seek with humans, according to a new study. They know to be quiet when it is their turn to hide. They make noises when they are seeking. They also know to hide in opaque places rather than transparent ones when they are hiding so as not to be seen. Pretty cool!
This book, written by Dave Gross, was the first novel that was made in the Pathfinder RPG setting of Golarian. It came out in 2010 and started off the series of novels called Pathfinder Tales. As I’ve been playing Starfinder for some time now and am now getting into Pathfinder 2nd Edition, I thought it might be interesting to start reading the novels that are set in the Golarian world. Novels are the best way to stick a setting into your mind, I think. They certainly work better in that capacity than reading core rule books.
And so, I gave Prince of Wolves a try. It’s the story of a half-elf Pathfinder Venture-Captain Varian Jeggare and his Tiefling servant/ partner/ bodyguard, Radovan Virholt. They travel to Ustalav looking for a lost Pathfinder. Ustalav is sort of an eastern European gothic horror type area within Golarian with the requisite werewolves and vampires scattered throughout. The story itself combines aspects of mystery, adventure, and gothic horror in an effective way. Some of the horror scenes are quite macabre. There’s also a dose of humor mixed throughout to lighten the mood from time to time. The oddest thing about the story is that it is told from the two main protagonists’ viewpoints in alternating first-person chapters. Once I got used to the constant viewpoint change it worked well enough. Gross does a good job of giving both characters very distinctive voices. It quickly becomes easy to tell the two characters’ chapters apart by narrative tone alone. The end result of these literary ingredients was a good book. Good, but not great.
The book helped me solidify many Pathfinder setting tidbits in my mind, which was the point of reading it in the first place. So, it was well worth the read for me. I’d recommend the book to any adults or older teenagers playing the Pathfinder RPG.
There was a great article put out by a Magic: The Gathering designer named Mark Rosewater yesterday. In the article he lays out some reasons why games designers should design their products with diversity in mind. Basically, the more people that can find themselves somehow reflected in your game, the more people will like your game. From a purely business standpoint, it's ridiculous at this point to design a game that doesn't show a full spectrum of character diversity. Rosewater mentions that Magic now has its first major trans character in the game and what a postive reception that character has had. He also states that Wizards of the Coast ensures that they have an equal representation of the sexes of the characters in their cards. Nicely done! I'm not a Magic player myself, and thus did not know that.
I couldn't be happier than to see the game industry finally coming around to this viewpoint. It's happening just in time for my own children to be entering their teenage years. Thankfully, they won't have to put up with playing games where all the heroes are white males and any women included are portrayed ludicrously rather than heroically.
Gaming is currently undergoing an upheaval in terms of how it is working to expand its customer demographics. People from all walks of life have discovered that games are actually fun to play beyond childhood. In order to keep those people in the gaming community once they enter, gaming products must welcome them in by reflecting back to them those qualities that make them special as people.
Article: Wizards link
Here's an interesting opinion peice written in the New York Times talking about a possible reason for the rise in mental health problems in children. The writer believes it is related to the loss of free play time with children.
Link: New York Times
Here's an article by a teacher about the general uselessness of most homework. It also brings out the important point that homework steals inter-family time that can not be gotten back. Therefore, teachers should ask if the homework they are giving is important enough to take away some more of the little remaining time children have with their family in the evening before bed. One thing that comes to my mind is the issue of whether the homework can be done together with the parents or not. For instance, reading homework can certainly be done as a family. All families should read together, in my opinion. So an assignment to read in the evening should not be taking away from family time. On the other hand, there are those monstrous projects some teachers assign students with strict guidelines that the students' parents are not to help them. Those things are definite family time thieves.
Fascinating way to look at the issue...
Article: The Guardian
Another asteroid just missed us on July 25th it appears. This one was only 1/5th the distance to the moon away. One of these days we're going to have a serious one aimed straight at us. This is why real money needs to be dedicated to protecting the planet from these possible extinction level events. We have the technology to protect ourselves from the majority of asteroids, it's just a matter of building what needs to be built and funding its ongoing maintenance.
Link: Washington Post
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is running an initiative right now to increase the inclusion of underepresented groups within the professional science community. The organization is the United States's main organization supporting science. They publish the journal Science, which is one of the two most prestigious science journals in the world (Nature being the other).
They are running a deal on membership right now through July 31 which gives you a nice t-shirt along with your membership. You get a subscription to the journal for the year along with your membership.
Link: AAAS Membership
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