Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ironcast (10 hours)

"Sorry for the delay," I said to Gloria as I finally came out of my study. "I had to teach that scoundrel Rene Dupont a lesson. And I did, but in his defeat, he hinted at a wider conspiracy."

Man, this game is good. So, so good.

I like the match-three mechanic. I find it very relaxing to play games that use it. My problem, though, is that the games are invariably either 1) incredibly repetitive or 2) largely lacking in strategy.

Well, welcome to a game that addresses all that.

Here's a description of the game from the Kickstarter page:
Take control of a 7 metre walking vehicle from an alternate Victorian era in this turn-based strategy game.

That's a "Hell, yes!" description if I ever heard one. And amazingly, the game delivers on every one of those elements.

Victorian era? The writing is wonderfully stiff-upper-lip England, with period dress for the characters. It's positively droll. The atmosphere is positively lush compared to what I expected, and there's personality everywhere. Have a look at the character selection screen (all these screenshots are taken from the Steam page):


Here's how the game works. There are three basic areas in the game: the hangar (where your mech is stored and gets repaired/upgraded between missions), the strategic map (where you choose which mission to take on next), and the battle environment (where you battle other Ironcasts/steamtanks).

The strategic options are many and quite interesting.

In the hangar, after almost every mission, you can choose augmentations/abilities for your Ironcast. You also may have the opportunity to build a new bit of equipment (weapons/drives/shields) to replace an existing one. There are enough options here that it take s a bit of time to consider everything you might do. Do I need an improved weapon more than a better drive system or better shields? What's the energy consumption profile of that new weapon? Is the increased damage worth the increased energy it uses?

Meaty stuff, that. Here's a shot of the hangar:


On the strategic map, you will choose between multiple available missions, some with different difficulty levels. There's a nice bit of variety in these missions, too. Sometimes, you'll be collecting supplies in battle, or fighting multiple enemies in sequence, or trying to win a battle without targeting certain  extremely valuable parts of the enemy (so that you can then build that part and use it for yourself). You only have a certain number of days before you meet a boss, so you scramble to upgrade your machine as quickly as possible.

Strategic map:



In battle, the complexities are excellent.

You have several resources in battle: weapons, defense, energy, and repair. Matching what you need is an interesting exercise (sometimes maddening, too, depending on the shape of the board at the time).

In any single turn, you can have three matching sequences. However, those sequences just add resources to the area you matched. Using those resources in an action is entirely separate, and limited only by how many resources you have.

Here, have a look at the battle screen:



Matching resource tiles add to the various resource bars at the top of the screen. You can play an action (shoot/shields/walk) at any point during your turn, as long as you have the resources.

Let's say I have the following resource amounts after the matching phase:
7 Weapons
8 Shields
13 Energy
10 Repair

Using a weapon or a shield/drive mechanism consumes energy, so you often have to decide what is more important: offense or defense. On offense, you have two weapons, with different damage patterns and different effectiveness, depending on the opponent's shields and walking speed at the time. Defense is also broken down into shields and drive, so you can either raise the shields or have your Ironcast walk at a higher speed (which reduces the accuracy of your opponent's attack with certain weapons).

You can almost never do everything you want, which is good game design. In any single battle, you will make many, many choices, and it's very satisfying. For instance, subsystems can be targeted, attacking can be more complex than just dealing out general damage.

During a battle, you're also trying to match scrap tiles, which provide the raw resources necessary to build upgrades.

Even better, the game handles all this complexity in a very straightforward, intuitive fashion. This is an extraordinarily well-designed game in terms of being friendly to the user.

Also, it's not easy. You're always on Ironman mode, so if you lose a battle, it's game over. However, your experience during that playthrough contributes to a global unlock category, which gives you small stats bonus/abilities that will permanently improve your starting character.

Okay, that's enough. This is a hell of a game and you should play it immediately. And right now, it's only $10.49: Ironcast on Steam

Public Service Announcement


Come on, people. Don't eat all the damn salsa.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Praise (part two)

Here's another perspective, from another anonymous e-mailer, about the Praise post last week.

Your recent link and post on praising children for intelligence vs. effort have really gotten me thinking with my first child on the way. I felt compelled to write something, I guess just to share another anecdote in the blurry region between hard workers and failed child geniuses.

I am also "naturally brilliant", and was told this from a young age. I wasn't raised with a particular emphasis on effort, although I never developed that aversion to failure as a sign my intelligence was fraudulent. In looking back, I largely credit games for this. I always played chess and scrabble with my mother, and she handily beat me for years and years. I also owned an NES as a child, and lost life after life to platformers. I knew things came easy to me but that that wasn't all there was to success.

At each level of school I put in the limited effort required to excel: procrastinating but always spending the hours to finish a project in the end. I found shortcuts wherever I could, but didn't cheat. I grew up in a poor town, so there were no gifted programs to push me. But in return, I find I value everyday people more than most brilliant individuals I meet. I never thought I was better than my peers, just different. Since school came easy, I never felt like that made my school achievements something worth bragging about. Since it clearly came hard to others, I didn't view that as a poor reflection on them.

Reading the comments on the article you linked to, it sounds like a lot of us brilliant young things praised for our minds develop a deep aversion to trying, but I guess I avoided that. At the same time, I never found a love for it either. I picked up the boardgame Go recently, which has an incredibly steep slope. It takes dozens of games to not be an atrocious player. That hasn't scared me off and I've kept playing and improving. At the same time, I'm not rushing to expertise because I can't bring myself to devote the hours to studying and practicing.

The point I wanted to get to was that I love how I am. I don't doubt that if I had the drive I could write a great novel or build a robot army. I could have clawed my way towards the top of corporate America. But after 8 hours of work I want to go home and hang out with the wife. I want to play a computer game or read a book. I'm not afraid of trying to achieve things, I'm just happier living a middle class life than going for greatness. So in once sense I'm exactly what that research warns about, a ball of under-utilized talent. In another sense, though, the level of effort I want to put in is enough to achieve good things in the world. Not things they'll write about in history books, but some of those million little things that push progress forward. It's impossible to tease apart all the causes and effects in life, but I wanted to put out an anecdote of being a brilliant underachiever and not wanting it any other way.

I think one of the hardest things for an adult is to find out who they really are, and to be comfortable in their own skin. I know plenty of adults who still haven't figured that out. 

I didn't mention this last week, but I think that when kids are constantly praised for being smart, it makes it very difficult for them to appreciate multi-dimensional effort. If you want to be good at anything, a one-dimensional effort is likely to fail. 

As an example, Eli 13.7 has these levels in his approach to hockey:
--structural stability and functional strength (30-minute, low-intensity strength exercises with lots of stretching to help him avoid injury).
--dry land workouts to build explosiveness and strength (an hour, and they're hard)
--former college players shooting on him once a week
--tennis, to build quickness and stamina

Notice what I didn't list there? Actual games. Most kids his age just play the games and ignore everything else. That's the one-dimensional approach, and while those kids want to be good (and some of them are really good), they don't have the patience for a sustained, multi-dimensional effort. Eli does, and he understands why it's important.

"Smart" kids are more likely to look for the fastest path to success, even if it's not the most enduring success. They want the praise reward, instead of being in it for the long haul.

Please note that I might be completely wrong about that. Being around lots of kids, though, that's how they seem. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, from Lance Shankles, an entirely wonderful three-part series on the development of Moonbase Commander, which is one of the most criminally under-appreciated games ever made: Man In The Moonbase: The Death and Life of the Best Game You Never Played.

Next, from Steven Kreuch, and this is an incredible trip in the wayback machine: scanned 1982 JCPenney Christmas catalog.

From Garret Rempel, and this is one of the finest images I've ever seen: B.C. Mountie in 'most Canadian photo ever' had no idea it would explode online.

From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and this is terrific (Grace Hopper, a total badass): The story of Grace Hopper (aka Amazing Grace). Also, and this will blow your mind (in every direction): “I Might Have Some Sensitive Files”. Next, and this is a terrific comic: ZEN PENCILS: 172. ISAAC ASIMOV: A lifetime of learning.

From C. Lee, and this is fascinating: The myopia boom: Short-sightedness is reaching epidemic proportions. Some scientists think they have found a reason why.

Here are two well-written, fascinating reads. First, a notorious ex-college basketball player, and what's happened to him since: The Troubled, Tormented, Surprisingly Lucky Life of Michael Graham. Next, and this is riveting but incredibly sad reading: The Scene of the Crime: A reporter’s journey to My Lai and the secrets of the past.

From 3Suns, and this is thoughtful and provocative: HATRED, MILTON, AND THE PROBLEM OF PLEASURE.

From Guy Byars, and this is an epic John Oliver rant: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The NCAA.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and there are no rocket scientists in this clip: Pot Quiz - South by Southwest Edition.

This is an article about an amazing professional athlete: Ravens Lineman John Urschel Loves Math More Than You Love Anything.

From Jeff Fowler, and this is a mandatory Sports Gaming History read: John Madden hockey: How a lousy football game birthed a bastard and led to the greatest hockey game of all-time. Also and this is fantastic: Watch this excellent, historically accurate Star Wars anime short.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Praise

When Eli 13.7 was still very young, I started seeing research about praise.

There was a common thread to all this research: give praise for effort, not talent.

The short version always went something like this: when you praise children for effort, they will attempt more difficult tasks, and be more likely to grind through the work necessary to succeed, than children who are praised for being "smart" or "talented". Kids who are told they're "smart" will tend to chose less difficult tasks, because they're afraid that if they don't succeed right away, then they won't be considered smart anymore. Kids who are praised for effort, in contrast, aren't discouraged if they don't succeed right away, and they seek out more difficult tasks.

That struck a chord with me, mostly because it's damned hard to be good at anything, and much harder to be great. No matter how much "talent" someone has, there's an incredible amount of work involved. I think I have some kind of aptitude for programming (hey, now--no laughing), but I worked very hard for five years and I'm STILL not anything but vaguely competent.

So right from the beginning, I never praised Eli for being smart. I praised preparation and process. He gets good grades not because he's smart, but because he's prepared (and he is--man, he's so much better at being prepared than I ever was). He is confident in hockey not because he's talented, but because he's he's earned confidence through thousands of hours of effort.

When he starts doing something new, and decides he wants to be good at it, he just works. And he doesn't look for constant praise as he works, because he's not working for praise. He works for himself.

Eli 13.7: not a coaster.

Last Friday, I linked to this article: How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The inverse power of praise. It's a fascinating article, and I highly recommend that you read it instead of my shorthand summary. I say that because the examples they provide are genuinely striking, and it reinforces that how we talk to our kids has a huge, absolutely huge impact on how they see themselves and what they think is important.

What I didn't expect after posting this link was to get a poignant and piercing e-mail from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. I have always respected the clarity of his thinking, and even more so after reading this e-mail. Here's what he wrote:
I don’t want to spend too much time on this. I just wanted to say, I’m in the same IQ percentile as the kid in the article, and I had the same kind of childhood, though in a much less prestigious school. I just wanted to confirm: everything this article says is the absolute truth. I’m not a researcher, or a parent, I’m a product of this kind of reinforcement, and even today, at 32, I am still trying to unravel and understand all the damage it’s done to my life. I’ve been “gifted” or told I was gifted all my life. Everything came easily to me. School was a breeze. Most of college was boring and elementary. The only classes I could sink my teeth into were those that really engaged and challenged me.

In school we’re given lots of special treatment, constantly lauded for our intelligence. The effect of this on me was that I never made the mental connection between hard work and good results. I never needed it. I got good results with no effort at all. I never had to work hard at anything mentally. Now, as an adult, I flit from hobby to hobby, from interest to interest, interpreting a lack of immediate success as failure. I’m adequate at my job, but I don’t stand out. Aptitude was always what granted me success before, so it’s hard to understand that aptitude isn't the hammer to the nail of all life’s problems. That said, I can sit here, I can talk about this, I can see the problem. But that’s not the same as being able to solve it. It gets in your bones. It’s how you think. It’s part of who you are.

I've thought a lot about how my present difficulties might have been prevented, and the only thing I can think of, as unfair as it sounds, is that we should be held to a higher standard. If I’d had to work as hard as others to succeed earlier in life, it would've been doing me an immense favor. But it seems manifestly unfair. Even advocating it, I can see how unfair it seems. Still, I wish above almost anything else that it had been handled that way.

I haven’t read the entire article yet, so perhaps it touches on this, but if you’re interested as a parent, my advice to you is this: praise your child for their accomplishments, not their intelligence or other natural aptitudes. I am living proof that intellect is meaningless without drive and discipline. Not just intellect, any natural ability. They are all worthless. Yet our society exalts them, to the detriment of our children. Please believe me when I say, it is poison.

As I said in the beginning, it’s something I struggle with daily. It is the single, central conflict of my life. It makes me very happy that that article was written. I just wish more people understood the problem.

On a personal note, though, I never give up. Bit by bit, I try to gain the understanding I should've gained in childhood, applying myself to new problems, ignoring failure, trying to figure out how to turn effort into results. But sometimes it feels impossible to unlearn the things we learn as children. You have to change the way your mind works, change the way you think. Other people have goals in life like “earn this degree,” “get that job,” “write that book.” My goal is to get to a state where I’m able to achieve goals. If I ever do, my potential might be as limitless as I was always told it was. 

One of the things that I most appreciate about writing this blog, even after so many years, is that while I often reveal myself, many of you have revealed yourselves as well, and often at the most unexpected times.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Baldur's Gate (your correction of my mistake)

Embarrassingly, I'm apparently forgetting early gaming history.

Garth Pricer sent in this tremendously well-written correction of yesterday's post:
Obsidian did not make Baldur’s Gate. Obsidian did not exist at that time. Baldur’s Gate was the sophomore effort of a fledgling medical software company named Bioware, who had experienced modest success with their first gaming foray in the form of Shattered Steel. Bioware’s three doctor founders were RPG fans and planned to make an RPG named Infinity, but when offered the D&D license, they leapt at the chance. Baldur’s Gate was the result, and Infinity became the name of the engine instead. 

Both games were published by Interplay, the latter game under a newly formed division called Black Isle Studios, named after the Scottish island.  Feargus Urquhart, the director of Black Isle Studios (and the source of the name, because if it’s not Scottish it’s cr…), later went on to direct Black isle to make several more games using Bioware’s Infinity Engine, among them the Icewind Dale trilogy. An assistant designer on the 1st Icewind Dale game, then lead designer on the second, JE Sawyer made his name in the industry on those games. 

Drawing from elements of FFVII, Black Isle also released yet another Infinity Engine game with the D&D license, this time leveraging the rather unique Planescape setting. This game, Planescape Torment, remains a cult classic for its memorable writing and its vivid world-building. Chris Avellone was the lead designer.

Black Isle Studios is also known for another isometric RPG. While originally created with the GURPS license, this project had to shed the system when Steve Jackson objected to the violent content. Somehow it survived, and GURPS was replaced with a homebrew system called SPECIAL. Released as Fallout, this game was produced by Tim Cain and Brian Fargo (Interplay’s founder and the director of Wasteland). Tim Cain was also the lead programmer and one of the key designers. 

The Black Isle eventually sank, but Obsidian rose in its stead. The Pillars of Eternity team is assembled from many of the past Black Isle luminaries above, but aside from publisher Feargus, none of the Bioware crew are among them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

End of Quarter Goodness

This is usually a big week for gaming, the first big week of the new year, and it's not letting us down this year.

If you want mainstream with an impeccable pedigree, you can go with Bloodborne (please note, as the Wikipedia page clearly spells out, that Bloodborne is "Not to be confused with blood-borne disease.").

Glad we cleared that up.

This is new game from the From Software geniuses responsible for Dark Souls and Demon's Souls--beautifully designed, fluid action games with a high degree of very satisfying difficulty. The game was released today, and already has a 93 rating on Metacritic (41 reviews). That makes it (easily) the highest rated Playstation 4 game ever released.

My only hesitation about picking this up is that I have lots of loose ends right now, and these games tend to be long and very consuming. Not sure I can do that right now.

There are three other games this week, though, that I want to mention.

First, the big one: Pillars of Eternity. It releases on Thursday, it's from Obsidian, and it looks very much like what I remember of Baldur's Gate (no surprise, since Obsidian made it, too). There aren't many old-school RPG's being made these days, so this is a welcome departure. Advance buzz is very, very positive.

Everyone knows about Pillars of Eternity, though. Here are two more games releasing this week that I backed on Kickstarter, and they both look excellent.

The first is Dyscourse, and it releases tomorrow. Here's a description from the game's website:
Dyscourse is an interactive choose-your-own adventure where you journey through a stylized world of choice and consequence. You play as Rita, an unfortunate art school grad turned barista, who is now stuck on a desert island with a crew of oddball travelers after a plane crash. That last choice you just made? It may end up being integral to your group’s survival, or it may lead you down a path to murder and cannibalism!

I find nothing off-putting in that description. At all. And the visual style of the game is beautiful. Take a look:


That is very, very striking. Steam link: Dyscourse.

The last game is Ironcast. RPS describes it as a "turn-based match-3 roguelite steampunk resource-management RPG". I've been waiting to have that done properly for a long time.

Seriously, I've been waiting.

There's a level of strategy in Ironcast far beyond the standard match-3 mechanic, and it also features permadeath. The RPS article describes it in more detail than I can, so hit that link and read all about it.

Ironcast comes out on Thursday.

I will definitely have impressions of Dyscourse and Ironcast, because they'll be exponentially more lightly covered than Bloodborne and Pillars of Eternity.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Important to Note: This Restaurant Does Not Serve Hamburgers

I was at a barbecue restaurant with Eli 13. 7 last week, and there was a little boy there with his family.

From what we could surmise, he was about four, his brother was roughly seven, and his little sister was in-between.

The boy's older brother got up from the table and went over to the condiments/drinks area. "Get a burger!" the boy yelled. "Get a burger!"

"Mom, he's making fun," said the sister.

"GET A BURGER!" the boy yelled.

"He just wants him to get a hamburger," the mom said.

"No!" the little boy said. "Get-a-burger." He put his finger in his nose. "I mean RIGHT HERE."

We laughed. We appreciate highbrow humor.


Make Better Decisions (parking lot edition)

I deeply regret not getting a picture of this, because it was both colorful and memorable.

I was driving through a Target parking last week after taking my mom to lunch for her birthday (85 and still kicking ass). In front of us was a short and fairly squat woman with curly dark hair, tights, and a light blue tennis skirt.

She was holding a giant medicine ball.

This ball was three times as big as a basketball. It was so big she could barely wrap her arms around it. It looked like a giant hacky-sack ball.

The woman suddenly threw (two-hand push) this ball as far in front of her as she could, and it was clearly a huge effort, because the ball's weight looked to be substantial.

Then she walked forward, picked the ball up, and did it again.

This was in a crowded section of parking lot, but she was completely oblivious to the cars. Squat. Lift. Throw. Chase. Repeat.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Links!

From Steven Davis, and this is outstanding: Howard Blackburn: Hero Adventurer. Also, and this is unbelievable: PNWR Yoyo Contest 2015.

From The Edwin Garcia Links Machine, and this is excellent: Sticking to His Roots to Save a Culture from Extinction.

From Jim, and this is a nice way to spend a few minutes: Zombie-town USA.

From C. Lee, and this is tremendous: The Lutheran Insulter (Luther was quite good at it, as it turns out).

From Jonathan Arnold, and please keep this list in mind if necessary: 15 HIDEOUTS FOR THE WORLD’S NEXT GREAT SUPERVILLAIN.

From 3Suns, and this is extraordinarily useful for parents: How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The inverse power of praise. Next, and I've linked to it before, but it deserves another mention as an incredible learning resource: Khan Academy.

From Nate Carpenter, and this is fascinating: Hungry Slime Molds Reconstruct Ancient Road Networks.

From Frank Regan, and this is absolutely stunning: Carbon3D Unveils Breakthrough CLIP 3D Printing Technology, 25-100X Faster.

Here are two excellent reads from the New Yorker. First, a mesmerizing read about Gerry Adams and The Troubles: Where the Bodies Are Buried. Second, another Harper Lee story, this time about a book she worked on for decades: Harper Lee’s Abandoned True-Crime Novel.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Poets

I'm going to be out of pocket almost all day today, but I read Tarn's development blog for Dwarf Fortress this morning and thought you would enjoy it.

Dwarf Fortress is so detailed now that it truly belongs in a class by itself. Tarn and Zach will take minute aspects and drill until they reach a level of harmony with everything else in the world. In this case, it's the creative arts:
While toying around with the art book code and poem/etc. composition, I thought I'd see what happens to an entire form created by an artist mid-world-generation when the only way the form can be passed around is between teachers, students and troupe members. Most of these non-civ forms tend to stay within a single troupe, but sometimes they break out. For instance, in a 200 year small world, we had a human from a hamlet named Usmen decide to run away from home and study goblin poetry. I guess he was troubled by their society, because it wasn't too many years before he introduced a new form of poetry in the year 106: a poetic narrative intended to teach a moral lesson. He and his master Zom Frothhate joined up with a few more goblins and founded the Tan Flies, and Usmen taught the whole group the new poetic form. A hundred years later, forty years after Usmen died of old age, the eight current members of the Tan Flies are still teaching moral lessons to their goblin buddies. 

They aren't the only ones though -- back in 113, not long after moral poetry was introduced, one of the founding Tan Flies named Stasost Tongsdemons left the group to go study elven poetry under Narena Packedman, a renowned poet who had over twenty-five students and several major works over a century of activity. After a brief apprenticeship, Stasost went on to have five students of her own before becoming a noble ruling over some goblin pits in 131. Two of these students, Aslot Hatedtangle and Stasost Profaneace, were taught the moral lesson poetic form around the year 120. Stasost Profaneace is still alive, now traveling with the venerable Blockaded Horns troupe (founded in 35), though she has not yet successfully passed on the moral lesson form (her only apprentice to date was murdered). 

The other student of Tongsdemons, Aslot, was a one-armed murderous goblin farmer in the pits before becoming a poet at age one hundred eleven, studying under the future Lady for twelve years until she assumed rulership. Aslot was murdered in 162, but he had many students of his own and one of them, a human named Atek Housetactics was deemed worthy of the moral lesson form. Atek was born in 130, 24 years after the invention of moral lesson poetry, and learned the form in the year 150. After losing several apprentices to the perils of goblin living, Atek managed to keep the goblin Osta Wererock alive long enough to pass along the knowledge. They founded a troupe together called the Holy Points and are still performing. Several new members have joined up, so there's hope that moral lesson poetry will continue to spread.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Changes+

Boy, the NFL is really in full-blown spin mode: NFL doctor says CTE is being “over-exaggerated”.

Here, this is great:
“I think the problem of CTE although real is it’s being over-exaggerated and it’s being extrapolated to youth football and to high school football,” Dr. Joseph Maroon said on Tuesday’s NFL Total Access.

He then shared some statistics that were a bit confusing, to say the least.  I interpreted it to mean that 63 cases of CTE were found in youth football players over a 59-year period from 1954 through 2013, when 30-to-40 million kids played football.  It wasn’t clear what Dr. Maroon was actually saying about CTE in youth football, and if the NFL plans to try to sell that all is well with doctors on the NFL payroll, anything any NFL doctor says needs to always be clear.

“It’s a rare phenomenon,” Dr. Maroon then explained.  “We have no idea the incidence.  There are more injuries to kids from falling off of bikes, scooters, falling in playgrounds, than there are in youth football.  Again, it’s never been safer.  Can we improve?  Yes.  We have to do better all the time to make it safer.  But I think if a kid is physically able to do it and wants to do it, I think our job is to continue to make it safer.  But it’s much more dangerous riding a bike or a skateboard than playing youth football.”

There's so much good stuff in here that it's hard to even sort through it all.

My favorite is that 63 cases of CTE have been found in youth football players out of "30-to-40 million" players. Awesome. Hey, does anyone want to mention that--currently--CTE can only be diagnosed after death, and then only by analyzing brain tissue? That might be relevant. And that it was essentially never looked for until very recently, and then only in very specific situations?

Rule #1: If the facts are not on your side, then frame the facts in a deceptive way. Not outright dishonest, but deceptive.

Also, and this is fantastic, "it's much more dangerous riding a bike or a skateboard than playing youth football." Again, this is brilliant, because he's talking about all injuries, not specifically to head trauma.

I wonder how much money Mr. Maroon (who is at least a neurosurgeon, and highly regarded) receives from the NFL each year.

Refer back to Rule #1, please.

Also, Mike Florio goes further away from reality:
We’ve known about the condition known as “Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy” for several years now.  From time to time, CTE takes center stage.  And then it fades into the background again.

That’s partially because the condition remains largely shrouded in mystery, especially as it relates to the symptoms and consequences of microscopic changes to brain tissue resulting in the accumulation of tau protein.  In an October 2013 item published at Deadspin, Dr. Matt McCarthy explained that there’s still no clear link between football and CTE, and more importantly between CTE and various cognitive problems that occur as football players age.

Again, more awesome. "the condition remains largely shrouded in mystery" sounds like it was taken directly from the playbook of tobacco companies, doesn't it? Remember how they claimed, for decades, that smoking didn't cause lung cancer because science couldn't specifically identify the mechanism by which it happened, even though there was an unimpeachable data-based link?

And again, Rule #1 gets used. CTE, based on the best available evidence, is caused by an accumulation of effects from both concussions and sub-concussive impacts. Does football have a gigantic number of these kinds of impacts? Yes. Is there an alarming number of ex-players whose brains have been shown to have CTE? Yes.

So how do you use Rule #1 in this situation? Raise the evidentiary threshold until it's above whatever current evidence exists, then say the evidence isn't clear. Genius!

And I have to say it's particularly well-done on Florio's part to quote something from a year and a half ago in a field where research is advancing incredibly rapidly, as well as using as an "authority" a doctor whose specialty is infectious diseases.

Isn't the stink coming off this incredible? That's why I think the NFL is panicking here. They seem to think that Borland's retirement is a far more substantial issue than I originally did.

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