Political Games

By this point anyone who reads what I have to say knows that I am a big fan of learning through Video Gaming.  Last week I was asked to give a lecture on Political Goods and State Failure.  After I finished I was talking with my friend who is the Instructor of the class, and we came to the realization that playing any of the Sim-City© or Cid Meier® Games could teach a student the concept far better than we could.


In those games you have to have people to control fires, police the streets, provide clean water, ect.  I wish I had thought to mention this during the class, but it only hit me after.  I would have treasured their input.  I did find a website that is not the most respected, but that does agree with me.  The link is below:



My run in with the Police

Yesterday I went to the police department to pick up a report.  I was very surprised that I could not go into the building.  I remember being able to access every public building as a child in school.  I have been in the White House and the U. S. Capitol, but I could not go in the Christiansburg Police Department.  This made me really think about access.


In a class I T.A. on Interest Groups we spend a lot of time talking about access.  You cannot lobby a politician without access to them, I could not get the documents I needed without access, and it can be very hard to learn when lacking access as well.    I learned a ton by being able to walk into some of our nations most important buildings, and I hope that never changes.


I wish that learning was easier to access.  You have to be in Washington DC to do it, but anyone can walk into our national museums.  You can learn so much by simply being able to go in, but until just recreantly you actually had to go into the physical museum.  Today technology is opening up so much learning and allowing access to so many people.   Thanks to new inventions there are more and more opportunities to access learning.


I am very excited about this progression, but I have one nagging fear.  Yesterday when I went to the Police Station to get a copy of a repot I did not have access to something that prior to technology I would have been able to access.  My father sells real estate and I have heard him complain about how much harder computers have made his job.  He told me that when he started a contract was a single page; just one piece of paper.  Today he tells me that they are approaching twenty pages. As much as I love technology I always try to work for simplicity.   I am excited to discover how to mesh the two in my teaching.  I want to know when to ask for something written in pencil and when to ask for it to be published to the web.  I want to use technology to add access and not let it be a barrier.

How 2 Communicate

I was talking with a reporter friend about a business card (for a handyman) that said “Call an u can save $$!”  She was rather bothered by the fact that the person with the card had used an over and and u over you.  She did not even get into the use of two “$” rather than the use of the word money, but she was very offended by the card.  She explained that words and communication were her life, and that it made her upset to see people not using the English language correctly.


Before becoming a GEDI I would have agreed with her 100%, but I did not.  I told her that we were behind the times and needed to realized that with new technology comes new forms of communication.  I cannot  wait until I am over an entire class and afforded the opportunity to teach this.  I personally do not like texting, but I really want to give an assignment that asks for it.  I know that part of what scares me with my own thesis is the formality of it.  Maybe we are doing students a disservice when we ask them to write formally, or we could be doing them a favor.  I know I have read a lot of cover letters in my lifetime and that I never hired a single person who used “don’t!” Learning is so much more than what we make it.  Jobs aside, could we be stifling learning with formality?


I have another good friend who works with special education students in the local schools.  She love to quote famous thinkers about how a hammer does not work as a knife or vise versa.  How many brains are we forcing to work formally that do not.  What is being missed by limiting the ways Rainman can communicate?  The limitations on communication could be a true hinderance on learning.  The way new forms of technology have opened up the world to people that in the past would have been institutionalized is proof enough for me!  There has to be a fine line, and students need to know that they are communicating in different languages, but I think there is a way to get more out of students by letting them use as much or as little formal English as they please.


In the end my reporter friend agreed with me, and has had several discussions about the topic with her colleagues.  Most of them have been blown away by the idea, and eventually welcomed it.

idk how i feel. do u no what 2 think? what will 2morrow b?

Econ 101?

A few weeks ago a friend and I had a rapid conversation about moving virtual currency between emulated Everquest© servers.  Another friend who works for a business school happened to overhear the conversation, and later told me that he felt my friend and I both deserved MBA’s for what we had discussed.  This concept has had my attention ever since.  My friend and I were moving coinage from one market to another in an attempt to increase the value of our coinage and it worked.  I have never really done much “Real Money Trading,” but I know a few people who have been quite successful.  Most of my experiences have centered around simply game play, but I have seen enough people actually make money for me to give anything centered around this concept a worthwhile examination.

I typically play older games that do not have the demand that some of the newer and more popular ones do.  However, one of the latest games Diablo 3© has a built in Auction feature that allows players to interchange in-game gold and USD.  One person claims to have made over $10,000 playing the game.  He has put his story on the internet via reddit.  http://www.reddit.com/r/Diablo/comments/xqv2r/ive_made_10000_legitimately_from_the_d3_market/

I personally believe his claims.  I have friends who have made well over $500 from less popular games.

I want to tie this back into what my friend said about the MBA’s.  After all the discussion we have had about the future of education I feel that one day this could be the road to a degree.  In a virtual world economies exist, and they have huge parallels to the economy of the real world.  Below is a link to a description written by someone with a better ability of communicating the complexities of a virtual world than myself:


Although it is not here yet, I feel this is the future.  I have seen people toy with virtual economies, and accomplish their desired ends.  I have speculated on commodities and made virtual money myself.  Just a month ago I was treated to a meal, and told that it was complements of one of my friends avatars that he had sold for USD.  There is much to be learned from both virtual and real economies, and I do feel that they are different beasts, but in the same breath I feel that what is learned in the real world can be applied to the virtual one, and vise versa.  I will not be surprised when the first crop of virtual MBAer’s is awarded their accredited degrees, and I would not hesitate to hire or be a member of its ranks.  My personal experiences with massive multiplayer games had given me all the evidence I need.  I have seen people make money by playing a game, and I have witnessed them learn from it.  I have even learned a great deal from the virtual world myself.  Video gaming is a part of the future of studying economics and business, and should be welcomed with respect it deserves.

Dissipating Ism’s

In a class of mine (therefore political related) we discussed Tools of War.  One of those tools was the dehumanization of the other (the enemy).  Simply put, how we (humans) are able to shoot and kill other people and sleep at night.  For most of history we have called the enemy things like: “Barbarian, Pagan, Savage and Uncivilized” to name only a few.  All of these terms are ways of making the people that we fight against something different.  We cannot condemn the people who have gone to war for using these terms.  The Roman Legions had to sleep at night, and if by calling those that opposed them “Barbarians” allowed the troops to sleep, who are we to judge them for it?  The same has to be true of those who use this antiquated technique today.  It is a way to allow people to engage in necessary, but horrific acts and live with themselves.

Our discussion was of the history of just recent American wars and how our Generation was changing things.  When the Greatest Generation went to war in 1941 they took with them many racially fueled slurs.  They were not killing the people of Germany, they were at war with with the “Krout’s!”  It was not the people of Japan that had attacked Pearl Harbor, it was the “Jap’s!” In Vietnam it was not the people of North Vietnam, but the “Guk’s”with whom we were at  war; today we are once again at war, but not with an entire nation.  Just with a select few that are brining a bad light on the peaceful people of Islam and the sovereign state of Afghanistan.  We do not use slurs against these people in popular media.  Things are different today.  It can be called “Political Correctness” or any other title, but the fact of the matter is things are different.  It was common place in 1942 to blame something publicly on the “Jap’s.”  Today not only those writing the media, but the people consuming it would not stand for a similar slur.  Then the person using the slur would have been championed by those around them.  It was completely normal to do so.  Today if someone uses a slur, even agains our Enemy, they are shunned.  It is simply not the norm anymore.

It was not unusual to call a person of Japanese decent a slur in the forties.  It was less common to call a person of Vietnamese decent a slur in the Seventies, but it still happened.  Today it does not happen.  This is a wonderful and noticeable change.

Our generation is changing things.  I have friends who have been deployed and who have fought in war.  They differentiate between the citizens of Afghan and the terrorists they fight.  They do not have a hatred for all Afghans or Muslims the way my friend’s fathers who are veterans of the Vietnam war feel about the Northern Vietnamese people or that my Grandfather felt towards the people of Japan.  Where two generations ago the entire nation of people (not just the combatants) were made into the “other,” and placed in a subhuman place, today things are different.  By the next major historical skirmish (Vietnam) it was not the entire nation of Vietnamese People that was othered, but just those on the Northern part of the peninsula, and engaging in warfare with the United Stated.  Today, dehumanization happens, but it is different.  The government and the people and therefore even the soldiers do not have issue with races, religions or nationalities, but with individuals and small groups of people.  We do not fight these large groups, but “Sick” individuals who are not the norm and therefore different.

We do not live in a perfect world, but we do live in an organic one.  Though the place is the same and it has not been but a few generations we can see improvement in our own streets.  The improvement is so drastic it is visible to nearly all.  Something as serious as war, and the necessary dehumanization of the enemy has improved leaps and bounds in the last century.  Warriors see things differently than they did a few generations ago.  Because of this visible transformation we can have hope for a better future, one with less Ism’s and less otherness!

Modern Visual Aids

Today with my class I showed a video, and I got a better response than ever before.  …Yes, I am new to the teaching gig, but I have tried everything I can think of to get good involvement.  I have done well, but nothing has come close to what I got after showing a 58 second clip!

This got me thinking about visual aids.  In grade school, I was always more interested when  the teacher had a picture or drew on the board.  The visual aid that we brought in for the science fair has changed.  I know I am behind the times, but I am learning to change too.

I will now attempt to stick a video into this post…

Some Study That I Used to Know

…I am fairly sure that you cannot see that, and I am not sure how to fix it, but I will keep learning.  Here is a copy of the url for my “visual aid:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxkHM4DUDKM&NR=1&feature=endscreen

The video… if you saw it… shows a student forgetting things that his teacher has taught him.  I made me think about the fact that what we are teaching will be old in four years.  We have to teach people to teach themselves.  Memory now refers more to RAM than what is used for the Spelling Bee!  I want my students (unlike the one in the video) to know why I taught them what I taught them, and I do not want them to forget every word I say (like in the video).

Hamburgers and Dead Wax

After our classes talk about blogging, and Dr. C’s banter towards hamburgers and dead way, I looked through my records.  I only have two “Wally’s;”  Urban Cowboy and Saturday Night Fever were my two gems  As I was looking through my old records I realized a few things.  The more popular the record the more likely it was to have an odd inscription.  Hotel California came to me “With Love from Bill,” and there was something about a duck on Led Zeppelin’s most famous of albums.  I also discovered something about music that has been lost.  There is a beauty and an art to old albums that is lost today.  Even if we look back to our old CD’s there was a booklet, and artwork on the Album.  I mean who doesn’t remember going into the record store with their mom and seeing the Tipper Gore sticker over the baby’s pee pee as he chases after the dollar bill on a fish hook?

Nirvana’s rebellion continues, but could it have been what it was without the hard albums and in your face style music that used to be the record store?  Today I think something is lost in our digital media.  That said, I am also happy with the direction of things.  You can now buy just one song rather than an entire album, and I do not have to show up at a smokey record store and hope some hippy isn’t too stoned to sell me a record.  With itunes I can buy any song I want at any time.  Jim Morrison predicted that music would evolve.  Some say what he was foreseeing is modern Electronic Dance Music. 2-03 Breakn A Sweat is a song by Skrillex that features surviving members of The Doors.  If music is headed in the direction of the computer so is education.  We need to embrace and not be scared of the future.  Just as we should dance when it comes time to break a sweat, and not be scared of the long black haired man making all the noise.  Here is one more youtube video that illustrates my point.

In my past life I managed a Red Robin and served a lot of hamburgers.  I learned a lot about teaching there too.  That is why I thought it was so funny when Dr. C made the reference.  I knew I was the only person in the room who could really relate when he joked about dead wax and hamburgers.  I have already said what I learned finding my “Wally’s” in my stack of old dusty records, and now I will spill a little of what I learned form serving 250,000 hamburgers.

There I learned to embrace change.  I learned everything down to the number of seeds on the buns when I first became a manager.  I was so lost when they changed items.  I was educated the old way and was stuck only knowing what I had memorized.  A pocket sized recipe guide was a part of my uniform, and rather than just learning to use my tool, I learned what was written in one years guide; I was set ways and lost when things changed.  If I had simply taught myself to pull out this book it would have been much easier to accept changes.  I am not sure how to apply this to my teachings, but it is a lesson I learned the hard way, and one I hope to teach to people so they can learn the easy way!

Not Sure What I am Doing…

The title says it all… I see you all posting with pictures and different things.  I am not really sure what to do.  Dr. C told me to blog about looking through my records, and I will do that next.  I have never blogged before, but thought it was about time I gave it a try… Yeah I like grades too!  I wish I had that guy that gave everyone an A!

I have always been a fan and a hater of technology.  I am one of those guys!  I played A LOT of EverQuest (I think I should be able to put in the thingy, but I know that is a game owned by someone else) and I hated on computers to all my friends while secretly being glued to one.  I really do not like email.  I would much rather get a phone call.  This said, if I want to teach I am going to have to come to terms with myself and technology.  I know the powers of the net, but I do not utilize them.  If I am going to be effective, then I must embrace it.

That said this is my first of many blog posts.  I really like the name I am blogging under and maybe I will continue after this class.  I have already thought about using theCN with my class.  …Yeah I do not check that like I should either.  I was the guy that had to have a friend first make him a Facebook account back in Jan 2005 because I was so against it.  Now I have 1400 some friends.

I am going to try and let go of my old-fashioness, and I am going to use technology to teach.  I know I need something to help me.  In my life in the food service industry I had the privilege of working with many millennials.  These kids and those younger than them need something to get through to them.  I got a lot of trophies, but nothing like these kids.  They are very hard to engage, and you have to befriend them, while being in control.  It is a very hard thing to do.  I hope I can do things as a teacher I was able to do as a boss.  If I can get them to think of me (the human) 1st and then me (the boss/teacher).  The only way I know to do this is by caring about who they are as a person, and helping them to develop.

I am not sure if I did this correctly, but I am going to keep doing it this way until I am told to do different.  I hope you enjoyed reading my 1st  Blog post!