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March 3, 2014 at 1:47pm
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This is a good response on reddit to someone asking how to reduce their anxiety about playing Go, and it applies to basically everything in life.

One idea is to try to adopt what psychologists call an “incremental” rather than an “entity” mindset. When people have entity beliefs, they think that they have a fixed, unchangeable amount of ability in a domain. Thus, failure means that you lack ability. On the other hand, when people have incremental beliefs, they think that they can learn and get better in a particular domain. Thus, failure just means you’re learning. Another way to think of it: with entity beliefs, you have performance goals - to prove how good you are. With incremental beliefs, you have growth goals - to get better. In pretty much every sense, an incremental mindset will be more adaptive.

There are also other ways to adopt less ego-related goals. Instead of trying to win, you can try to learn, try to teach your opponent something, try to find good moves, try to “solve the puzzle” that the board presents, try to give your opponent a challenging/rewarding experience rather than an easy win, etc.

Your anxiety likely comes from seeing a given game as an opportunity to prove that you are good at something (or an opportunity to reveal your incompetence), when really, a game is a much more rich, interesting experience than that. Any goal you can adopt that makes you focus on something besides your self/ego will help you keep that in mind.

February 19, 2014 at 9:04pm
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Pretty sure this whole Flappy Bird clone thing mobile gaming is going through right now is the event horizon of gaming. This is it, the Idiocracy moment where gaming is reduced to the barest minimum required to extract maximum “enjoyment” out of the lowest common denominator.

February 9, 2014 at 12:48pm
15,748 notes
Reblogged from seedsofwisdom

Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.

— Albert Einstein (via aestheticintrovert)

(Source: seedsofwisdom, via citeworthy)

February 6, 2014 at 2:50pm
1 note

Go Gone Wrong →

This is what happens when people who don’t know the basic rules of Go create mockups of Go games. (Count how many dead stones there are.) Courtesy of reddit’s /r/baduk.

2 notes
Reblogged from counternotions

This is why some days I want to sit in on some local committee in charge of building approvals and say: No You May Not Do That! 

I would not mind living in this tremendously ugly building.


This is why some days I want to sit in on some local committee in charge of building approvals and say: No You May Not Do That! 

I would not mind living in this tremendously ugly building.

2 notes
Reblogged from sleepinginthegreenery

Hermann Hesse on What Trees Teach Us About Belonging and Life →


"Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts… . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.”

104,027 notes
Reblogged from radicalginger

There were no sex classes. No friendship classes. No classes on how to navigate a bureaucracy, build an organization, raise money, create a database, buy a house, love a child, spot a scam, talk someone out of suicide, or figure out what was important to me. Not knowing how to do these things is what messes people up in life, not whether they know algebra or can analyze literature.

— William Upski Wimsatt  (via artistsuffer)

(Source: radicalginger, via tigrtail)

February 4, 2014 at 3:37pm
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Thoughts on Learning Spanish Online

A couple weeks ago I was getting pretty depressed that every job on Craigslist I had any sort of qualifications for disqualified me because I am not bilingual in English and Spanish. I decided instead of getting progressively angrier about it (like most white people who somehow have come to believe that the United States has an official language), it would be more useful if I just, say, learned to speak Spanish.

At worst, I’d, for the first time in my life, know for sure whether or not people speaking Spanish behind my back are making fun of me or not. At best, I’d have a new skill under my belt that would make me much more attractive to potential employers and possibly open up whole new opportunities for me. Plus, it would be a good challenge, and having bested most physical challenges I cared to achieve, I needed something new to struggle with.

I’d dabbled in Duolingo before, but never took it very seriously past the first lesson. For those who don’t know, Duolingo is a free (FREE) language teaching service with free (FREE) apps for iOS and Android. It basically turns learning a language into a game with experience levels and points and leaderboards and the like—not that the leaderboards do much for me as I don’t know anyone else who bothers. The main thing that I like about Duolingo is that it is fun. I’d tried Rosetta Stone a few times in the past and it just seemed like really boring work, so without any real self-motivation I just gave up both times.

I’m level 7 in Spanish out of a supposed 25, so I’m about 1/3rd through? This is a bit unclear as supposedly you can “finish” all your Spanish lessons and only be level 14, so maybe not. Judging by the amount of lessons I have completed, I am comfortable with saying I am somewhere between 1/4th to 1/3rd through and can offer some thoughts on it.

The main problem with Duolingo for me is that while I feel like I have learned a lot of grammar and about 200 “words” in the last two weeks, it hasn’t taught me anything that I could use to actually communicate with others. I know how to write and say things like “She eats rice” and “The elephant walks over the strawberries” but how often do I ever say anything like that to another person in real life? Duolingo has given me a solid structural understanding of the language so far, but if I were to go to Mexico or Spain and listen to conversations, I’d still have no idea what they were saying, nor would I know how to respond.

Admittedly, I wonder if I should even know how to communicate much at all in Spanish only 2 weeks into my studies. In theory, I could possibly be fluent in Spanish in 3 months or so with ample study, and 2 weeks is not a big chunk of that. I should probably assume that being well grounded in the grammatical elements of Spanish just 2 weeks into my study is a good thing, but impatience and a desire to actually communicate in Spanish as led me to add other learning methods to my study.

Side note: at this point I tried out Rosetta Stone at about this point but I found that Rosetta Stone is basically “Duolingo but no fun at all”. I can’t possibly recommend Rosetta Stone to anyone—it is very expensive, and the concepts it covers are the same as Duolingo but without the fun “game” and social aspect to it. Don’t bother.

First up is Pimsleur Spanish, which is not at all free. In fact, it’s horrifically expensive, costing $450 for the MP3s or the complete software bundle, up to $970 for the complete CD collection. Now, I would never recommend thievery, but it is not very difficult to find the Pimsleur Spanish collection to download online. Pimsleur focuses more on learning conversational Spanish, the type of stuff you would need to know so you could actually visit Latin America and—based on the first lesson alone—try to pick up on some Señoritas.

I’m only five units into Pimsleur, and I have to admit that it has already taught me some very useful conversational Spanish—although that is fairly limited to saying things like “I speak a little Spanish” or “I don’t understand” and the proper ways to greet men and ladies. It’s pretty fast moving, and in comparison to Duolingo and Babbel (which I’ll mention shortly) sometimes during a lesson I feel like my brain is going to start oozing out of my ears.

Unlike Duolingo, Pimsleur doesn’t spend much time teaching you grammatical concepts early on—it really is just a crash course in conversational Spanish of the sort you’d really want if you suddenly find out you’re going to travel to Latin America and don’t want to wander around like a befuddled American searching desperately for someone who speaks English. As such, it doesn’t focus much on reading and writing. There are reading and writing exercises built in, but I’ve ignored them since I am doing Duolingo.

Since Pimsleur is highly focused on speaking conversational Spanish, I still felt a little dissatisfied: I still don’t know enough to make me feel comfortable in seeking out people online (or in real life) who speak Spanish that I could try to talk to regularly to strength my Spanish—everyone says that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it.

I did some Googling and I found Babbel. Babbel is basically “Duolingo for conversational Spanish”, which was essentially exactly what I could be looking for. Babbel is not free. It costs about $12 for a single month, or you can get three months in a package for about $26. You can do the lessons on their website, or they have free iOS and Android apps. Here’s a little something that might interest you: if you’re only interested in learning a single language, you can save a couple bucks. If you pay for 3 months through the iOS app, using your App Store account, it only comes out to $21.99. It’s not a huge savings, and it appears you don’t get to learn multiple languages like you would if you paid more through the Babbel website, but it’s something.

I extensively researched Babbel online before I paid for it, and I found that the only people who complain about it are people who don’t pay attention to the fact that Babbel will automatically charge you for a renewal subscription. Note that they do tell you, several times, over and over again, that they will automatically renew your account before you purchases. It seems that people who read this somehow assume Babbel will remind them so they don’t have to remember themselves, and then they get angry when Babbel charges them and will not refund their money. It is your responsibility to remember. I went ahead and set a note in my calendar for three months from now to remind me to cancel Babbel if I am not using it. You should do the same! If you do not, you have only yourself to blame. Going online and accusing Babbel of “scamming” you is completely silly, but it is what many people have done.

Aside from that, Babbel has nothing but positive reviews. I am not very far into my study with it, but I can confirm that it is very nice and that the Spanish it teaches is indeed conversational. The lessons teach you how to hear and speak a couple words, then they show you what these words mean and how to spell them with pictures, and then they actually create a scenario such as “Miguel meets Maria at the airport” and show you the conversation these people would have and have you enter the proper words they would be using—along with some Spanish that you don’t know yet. You get a real feel for how people communicate in Spanish.

Basically, Babbel is a great combination of Duolingo and Pimsleur and so far I think it will be worth the $22 that it has cost me so far. In comparison to $450 for roughly three months of Pimsleur lessons, $22 is not bad at all.

Here’s a summary of my thoughts:

  • Duolingo (FREE) is great for teaching you Spanish vocabulary and grammar, but it will not quickly teach you how to communicate with others in Spanish. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
  • Pimsleur ($150-$450) is what you want if you want to dive head-first into conversational Spanish but aren’t heavily focused on learning the specifics of grammar or a large vocabulary quickly.
  • Babbel (~$25 per 3 months) is a good middle ground between the other two: a fun, interactive way to learn conversational spoken Spanish in addition to reading and writing it.
  • Rosetta Stone ($$$) is stupid. It is slow going and boring.

I think a combination of Duolingo, Babbel, and Pimsleur would yield great results for anybody. Duolingo is great at pounding the concepts of the language into your head, and has definitely given me a very solid understanding of Spanish that has helped me considerably with both Pimsleur and Babbel. If you only want two, I’d say Duolingo and Babbel are the best, but there’s almost no reason not to supplement your learning with Pimsleur aside from the very high “cost” of it.

January 30, 2014 at 10:41pm
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Cookie Cott 2014 →

Every Girl Scout cookie you eat this year kills a fetus. I know what you’re thinking; I’m thinking it too. They will taste even better than usual.

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Works of Watson Heston on the Bank of Wisdom →

We owe a great deal of gratitude to Emmett Fields for running the Bank of Wisdom and providing, for free, the illustrated works of Watson Heston, including his series The Bible Comically Illustrated.