The history of Tetris randomizers

A pleasantly detailed analysis of how the various editions of Tetris chose what piece was next. In 1985, Alexey Pajitnov and Vadim Gerasimov released Tetris to the public. This fun and highly addictive game challenged players to fit pieces together that were dealt in a random order. Since then, over 150 licensed versions of Tetris games have been released. Varying in game modes, rules, and implementations, they all play slightly—or very—differently. In…

One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings

Every Friday since Columbine, one schoolteacher has asked her students to to submit a list. Who would they like to sit next to next week? Who has been an exceptional classroom citizen this week? Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little…

Columbia Journalism Review

Sorry, Wrong Number

Numerical errors usually occur for one of these five reasons: A journalist mishears a correct number given to them by a source and fails to double-check it. A source unwittingly provides a mistaken piece of information and the journalist fails to verify it. A source deliberately fudges the numbers and the journalist fails to verify them. A journalist or editor miscalculates a figure. A journalist re-reports a mistake made by…

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Journalism by the Numbers (a pedagogical play in one scene) #math

(Lights up on a college journalism classroom. The professor enters, surveys the room.) Professor: Math! Students: (Shocked reaction.) Professor: Math!! Students: (Scattered cries of “No!”) Professor: MATH!!! Students: NO!!!   (Blackout.)   (40 minutes later.)   Professor: So, at the very least when you encounter numbers in your reporting, contact sources who can help you interpret those numbers critically. Seek out a variety of credible views on the provenance and…

What Khan Academy’s Fun, Free Learning Empire Has to Do with Dystopian Social Control

Over the Christmas break, I’ve been churning through Khan Academy math drills, so that I can be a more effective homeschool parent. It’s actually kind of fun watching my score go up, and earning badges. In the way that birds who are trained to peck buttons for food think it’s fun to peck their little beaks bloody. As a grad student ploughing through Kant and Derrida, I found it an intellectual relief to run a computer program through…