5000 Moving Parts: Kinetic Sculpture Exhibit

A few months back I went to see this exhibition at the MIT museum. I went to take photographs initially but the movement was too captivating. Because I had an ancient Canon Powershot, where the video tech wasn’t great, I improvised and shot in silent film style. I’m reasonably happy how it turned out.

Weibo

I first came across Weibo last month, while tutoring a Chinese graduate student at the writing center. In a paper, she’d conflated some of Facebook’s functions with twitter, by referring to Weibo as the “Chinese  Facebook.” Weibo was a hybrid of both Facebook and Twitter, which had caused the confusion. It showed up in other papers by graduate students–I go to Boston U’s J-School where a lot of international students are Chinese — but it never made me think twice. I didn’t even google it, probably because I don’t expect to ever use Weibo. Then, yesterday, I saw this.

Weibo's Dashboard

What first grabbed me was not Chinese Internet censorship, which is hardly news, but the fact that Propublica had actually taken the trouble to format things properly….with an actual background.  In previous posts I’ve trashed Propublica for its formatting, but here was an example that proved me wrong. (Though, to be fair, this was uploaded five days ago.) Here’s the header:

Right after that, in parentheses, a PGP KEY is provided.  This is followed by a ‘Related Story’ and ‘Methodology’.  The links have some redundant information that is already on the project page. This suggests  that Propublica does not expect the project page itself to be clicked on that much. So the the other pages, which are more in line with the usual propublica style, link to the project page. It’s really there to lure regular propublica users to the project page. That being said, there is novel information scattered in these extra pages. The methodology, specially, deserves a page by itself.  Here’s an example of the thoroughness:

Since the goal was not to collect a representative sample of all Sina Weibo posts, but to collect as many censored posts as possible, researchers assembled a subset of users who had previously posted content that was later censored. They picked 50 users from accounts found on WeiboScope, a University of Hong Kong project that archives deleted content on Weibo. They then added another 50 users, finding members of the first cohort’s Weibo circle who posted similar content.

All 100 users have a minimum of 2,000 Weibo followers. Researchers sought out users who said they were journalists or lawyers. Members of these professions, in the judgment of our researchers, are more likely to exhibit behaviors that would cause them to be censored, such as vocalizing social criticism and posting messages about human rights violations online

The images on the project page are pretty evocative. But there are some for which cultural context is required to appreciate them. For example, one contrasts Obama bumping fists with a janitor, with a Chinese official surrounded by a group of women. The caption reads “”One photo comments on civil society versus people’s society.” And I have no idea what this means. Perhaps I should ask one of my Chinese students.

Tricking the Filter Bot

How to trick a Filter Bot…in Chinese

I’ve always wondered how internet censorship in China works, but never bothered to find out. Here, I learned  bits about “automatic filtering technology.” And how people can get around it. This would be pretty difficult to do in English.

We assume that Western democracy allows free speech etc, so this could never happen. Except, I’ve had a couple of posts magically ‘erased’ from facebook within minutes of my posting them on somebody’s wall. In both cases, it was a good friend’s wall and I checked with him. He hadn’t even seen it. I won’t broach what the posts were about here, but I think this kind of filtering technology is way more effective than the Chinese one.

In conclusion, considering that Propublica says it has been “watching the watchers” for five months, I still want to know why it only published data for this two week window.It says a lot of posts during this time had political content, but I would want to know what was significant about this period: what was going on in China at the time….

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Fukushima Mon Amour

Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration, Nevada Site Office

Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration, Nevada Site Office

I watched a great documentary last night on the original Fukushima crisis.

In case you stumbled onto this post expecting insightful commentary on the recent fear-mongering about West Coast radiation levels in the media, or a rant about why nobody is doing anything about it, best you know now that this post is not concerned about these alleged developments. This blogger is not American, but happens to be going to grad school in America.  But if you’re thinking this lack of concern had an I-hate-you-America twinge to it, get ready to be disappointed. This blogger just happens to have read Dune— well, most of it– and mentally recites the Litany Against Fear  five times every day. ( And while we’re at it, here’s some counterarguments to all that deliberate fear mongering. )

(NOTE: This post is being written for a grad school assignment in documentary technique analysis. )

Also, before I get into the documentary, the title of this post comes from a book with actual insightful commentary on the original Fukushima disaster. (This blogger didn’t know that when he picked it, and was merely thinking of Hiroshima Mon Amour, an emotionally devastating movie– about love, not war–  which the writers of the essay collection had in mind anyway. )

Now for the actual documentary….

“I’d always thought nuclear power was safe…”

The worker who said this allowed his face to be shown on camera because he was just talking about his experience, and he was of low rank. But he was the only one directly related to the plant that did so. An engineer who was inside the whole time after the earthquake hit, dealing with the crisis, allowed himself to be filmed in complete darkness, in some abandoned building, where the only source of light was artificial, to actually allow filming to take place.  The filmmakers wanted to underscore the shadiness of the interview I guess. The filmmakers smudged the face despite the darkness, in case someone decided to raise the contrast and play around with the color channels to find out who he was.  A TEPCO employee who entered the plant after the radiation levels went down spoke to the documentary makers under the same conditions.

As one might expect, photographs are used of those who lost their lives during the crisis, but they’re not still shots. For example, as a farmer recounts looking for his missing daughters and wife, the camera does not focus on some image inside a frame, it quivers close to the faces, almost resonant with the father’s voice over, which is…calm. The father appears calm when recounting the search, implying he will find the people he has lost. You later learn that he lost his wife and one of his daughters, but via the narrator and not in his own words, for obvious reasons. The father, Norio Kimura,  breaks down only when recounting the possibility that he might never find his family again.  ( Maybe the calm instance and the ‘broken’ instance was recorded on the same day?)

Later on, the eyes, in spite of the gas masks are used to stress the humanity of the subjects venturing into the radiation zone.

IMAGERY AND SOUND

Waves, clouds  and smoke are constantly used for transitions.

Waves rolling normally onto shore as the normally do are used to punctuate passage of time,  to imply that nature/time moves on despite all the urban bustle happening, and to hint at the quiet (temporary return to  normalcy, aka temporary relief) before the storm.

Clouds lounging ever so slightly, towards an urban sprawl is used to indicate the slow spread of contamination of the radiation.

Sunrise and a gradually clearing sky ( as if by the sun’s light shafts) is used to imply hope.  The redness of sunset spreading across buildings is used to imply the onset of terror.

Whenever there is uncertainty, the documentary makers are partial to a shot of blurred, hazy street lights in the Tokyo urbanscape, interspersed with the lights of fast moving cars.

Near the end, fog smudged mountains and rivers are used to imply the spreading contamination.

At one point, when the military pilots flying over the contaminated zone to spray water can feel the radiation leaking into their masks( narrated through their voices) ….you hear the beeping sound of the ER int he background.

FOOTAGE

Real footage is used when the plane flies over the plant spraying water, the Prime Minister’s entourage finally going over to TEPCO headquarters after they refuse to address the issue via phone, the tsunami after the earthquake approaching the coastline, and the wave hitting the shore, which was fortuitously recorded by one of the power-plant workers.  Footage collected later, after the power plant became safe to venture into, is used to fill in the blanks in terms of the events. The board where the engineers counted down the developments with time stamps was intact at the time of the filming, allowing the reconstruction of events inside the plant.

Photographs are also widely used. The camera glazes over some still shots of the plant after it was devastated, and inside the plant when the engineers were trying to fix the problem. In the first case it helps us linger on the devastation, in the second, the chaos that might have ensued in a room full of people doing different things is frozen, allowing  the viewer the time to take it in.

The firefighters arriving on the scene to set up the hose and spray water is actual footage.  Which is justified, since “”These were the guys who wouldn’t be having children…” as the captain of the firefighters put it. Second hand footage just wouldn’t do in this case.

Overall, the documentary does the crisis justice. It does not play down the technical challenges involved in dealing with a crisis of this scale. But what really works is how much it manages to humanize the people involved. The civilian perspectives might be expected, but the firefighters and military perspectives are deeply human.  One thing that lingers however, is the absence of TEPCO, which, I guess, is not really surprising.

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THE FORGOTTEN NATURALIST

PSM_V78_D425_Alfred_Russel_Wallace

At the time of his death in 1913, Alfred Russel Wallace  was the most famous scientist in the world. He was acknowledged as the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection, along with Darwin, and by no means a footnote.  2013 is his death centenary.  Last week, the Harvard Museum of Natural History marked the occasion with an Alfred Russel Wallace Day and Natural History Museum, London has events in store for the rest of the month, including a talk with David Attenborough. Wallace enthusiasts hope that all this publicity will make Wallace a household name alongside Darwin.

These days the term natural history is not widely known. Because these days, naturalists go by the term ‘biologists’ and outside of this community, Wallace’s contributions to evolution have been completely eclipsed by Darwin’s.  Partly because of the Darwin industry, and also because of Wallace’s associations with things we label questionable today, like seances and phrenology.  But in the nineteenth century, before DNA and molecular biology natural history was right up there with physics and chemistry. It wasn’t until after quantum mechanics, that biologists  were ‘converted’ to the micro-world and sought explanations for everything there, and began to ignore natural history, that is, the organisms themselves.

Other than technological limitations, it is important to remember the historical context in which Darwin and Wallace operated. In Victorian England, there wasn’t that much  variety to be found among organisms and fruits. Man was still the center of the natural world.

“Poets and moralists, judging from our English trees and fruits, have thought that small fruits always grew on lofty trees, so that their fall should be harmless to man, while the large ones trailed on the ground. Two of the largest and heaviest fruits known, however, the Brazil-nut fruit (Bertholletia) and durion, grow on lofty forest trees, from which they fall as soon as they are ripe, and often wound or kill the native inhabitants. From this we may learn two things: first, not to draw general conclusions from a very partial view of nature, and secondly, that trees and fruits, no less than the varied productions of the animal kingdom, do not appear to be organized with exclusive reference to the use and convenience of man.”  Wallace. The Malay Archipelago.

Leaving their comfort zones, Darwin and Wallace entered the wild imbued with a sense of adventure. Here, man was an intruder and nature was hostile. And here, while both of them saw similar things and reached the same conclusion in one regard, they interpreted some observations quite differently.  Thanks to today’s Darwin trumpeters, misconceptions abound about Wallace as a person, and about his contributions to the theory of evolution.

“People will think that Darwin was an atheist, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t Christian but he still believed that God created the universe,” says George Beccaloni, curator of beetles and the Wallace Collection at NHM, London and maintainer of the wallacefund website. “Wallace believed in the spirit world, but he was a materialist till his seventies or eighties.  Up to that point he believed that everything in nature could be explained by natural laws and evolution apart from the human mind.”

This later departure from evolutionary orthodoxy is what makes Wallace unpopular today.

Wallace Day Specimens (i)

Wallace Day Specimens (i)

IMG_0470

Wallace Day Specimens (ii)

“What Wallace saw was that your local ‘savage’ had the same sized brain and equal mental capacities to that of a naturalist in Britain. Their lives were simple… but natural selection only works so that the adaptation is as much as needed, not more than that. So how could it be that the human brain evolved to such complexity, more than is actually needed? How did this organ arise?”

Darwin and Wallace differed on another crucial point: sexual selection. According to Darwin, male birds were selected to be bright and showy and female birds inconspicuous because the females had to choose better males. Wallace argued that  females were selected to be drab because they were sitting on the nest, looking after the eggs.

“I think Darwin was right here,” says Wallace historian Andrew Berry, who impersonated Wallace for the Harvard retrospective. “But Wallace makes an interesting argument. He thought that the default situation was brightness, and natural selection was favoring drabness for the sake of camouflage. ”

In other words, Wallace elevated the importance of the female over the male. Contrasted with Darwin’s alleged misogyny, , Wallace’s views might seem more attractive to our current era.

Wallace was not just a naturalist. He practically founded astrobiology with the seminal treatise ‘Man’s Place in the Universe‘, and, was a rather skilled artist. But why did such an intriguing individual end up becoming a mere footnote in history?

“Wallace is seen more as a dilettante,” thinks Berry. “Darwin consolidated on his theory, kept publishing things in support of previous ideas. But for Wallace, it was just this one thing he did, and moved on.”

Unlike Darwin’s accounts, which consolidate his scientific inferences, Wallace wrote memoirs. He rarely felt the need to interrupt them with scientific ruminations.  Here is an excerpt where Wallace describes the fruit Durian:

“This pulp is the eatable part, and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect.It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact, to eat Durians is a new sensation worth a voyage to the East to experience.”

Moments like this lets us glimpse Alfred Russel Wallace the man. But what about the naturalist? To Wallace at least, there seemed to have been no difference.

 

WHAT THE GREAT A’TUIN CAN TEACH PHILOSOPHERS OF SCIENCE…AND SCIENTISTS

A'Tuin

“In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part… See… Great A’Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters. Through sea-sized eyes that are crusted with rheum and asteroid dust He stares fixedly at the Destination. In a brain bigger than a city, with geological Slowness, He thinks only of the Weight. Most of the weight is of course accounted for by Berilia, Tubul, Great T’Phon and Jerakeen, the four giant elephants upon whose broad and startanned shoulders the disc of the World rests, garlanded by the long waterfall at its vast circumference and domed by the baby-blue vault of Heaven.” TERRY PRATCHETT, THE COLOR OF MAGIC

As much as I would love to talk about Discworld all day, this post will take a while to get to the Great A’Tuin, so if you reached this page thinking it was about Discworld, please bear with me. It’s really about the relationship between philosophers of science and scientists, and why, most of the time,  these two species pretend the other does not exist. And how, they are not really so different from one another. (This is where A’Tuin will be helpful)

Anyone with a background in science who ever stumbled onto a graduate level philosophy class by freak accident like I did, has likely confronted the ponderous existential crisis in this field as it tries to decide between which of the following questions to address:

A) “WHERE DOES THE SCIENCE END AND THE PHILOSOPHY BEGIN?”

B) “WHERE DOES THE PHILOSOPHY END AND THE SCIENCE BEGIN?” 

The questions in themselves are perfectly valid –if you are a philosopher– but sometime in the nineties, the philosophy community decided that all permutations of these arguments had been exhausted and ‘moved on’ to dealing with problems of classifications and taxonomy, trying to resolve the ‘meaning’ of words like ‘species’ and asking questions like “WHY DO WE CALL KOALAS BEARS WHEN THEY ARE NOT CLASSIFIED AS BEARS IN BIOLOGY?THEREFORE, IS ‘BEAR-NESS JUST A VISUAL RESEMBLANCE OR SOMETHING ‘ELSE’ THAT BIOLOGY HAS THE RIGHT TO DEFINE?”“IS A GUINEA PIG A RODENT?” etc.  (Applied to humans, the question becomes: “What does it mean when we say that someone ‘looks’ Irish? Is Irish-ness a genetic pattern that ought to be classified ‘scientifically, or simply a set of external characteristics?”  )

All these questions are ultimately variations of A) and B).  And once these questions are also exhausted, philosophers will come up with more novel variations to kill time, while awaiting the universe’s heat death.

For laypersons, these questions are likely boring. Since science, you would think, doesn’t waste time with such things. Until of course, you remember the Pluto crisis and how it was ‘resolved’.

At the time, I remember thinking why scientists needed to vote and decide on such a trivial issue, and I’m sure a lot of people felt the same way. What difference did it make that Pluto was no longer a planet? It’s not like Pluto’s mass or orbit had changed.  The numbers, the equations had not changed. Measurements are just measurements. But the very fact that scientists had to organize an entire conference and vote on this, suggests that scientists are equally susceptible to language traps as philosophers.

A scientist would argue however, that none of this has anything to do with the scientific method, which helps us uncover causal connections in the universe. That mathematical relations and language relations are distinct. Since mathematics is the real language of nature, scientists think that by getting rid of human language and thereby avoiding language traps, they are zoning in on the ‘true’ nature of reality. It must be remembered however, that Isaac Newton considered himself a ‘natural philosopher’ as did all scientists in Newton’s time.

But In the twentieth century, the birth of quantum mechanics led to the “shut up and calculate” approach.  Ever since, philosophy has lost the podium to Science and steered clear of issues concerning the material universe, limiting itself to speculating on the nature of ‘mind’. But some renegade philosophers have been trying to return philosophy to its former pedestal, while others have compared science to modern-day myth-making.  And a certain fictional philosopher, after much thought, posited the following iconic profound statement – “Things just happen. What the hell.”

In both philosophy and science, we come across contradictions. We expend a lot of mental energy wrestling with these problems because, deep down, we know that a ‘contradiction’ is a fabrication of human perception.  In science there is the relativity-quantum divide,  but macro-micro divides are not unique to science. It’s also there in economics. Hell, it’s even there in astrology – you can use astrological laws to address individual horoscopes as well as the stock market.

This suggests that the problem is at the heart of causation itself:

"Logic takes care of itself; all we have to do is to look and see how it does it..."

“Logic takes care of itself; all we have to do is to look and see how it does it…”

Quantum mechanics has made scientists smug. It makes them naively believe that the finer and finer their instruments become, the more accurate their measurements, they are making progress in understanding the universe. (To all of you who made it this far, patiently waiting for the Great A’tuin to enter the frame, congratulations!)

The comparison with unpredictability in quantum systems and those of predictions by an astrologer sounds preposterous to the quantum theorist, but sounds completely normal to the astrologer.  An astrologer is equally confident in astrological macro laws as the physicist is in physical laws like gravity, because astrological laws find expression in recorded history – certain kinds of events repeatedly, inevitably unfold during very specific planetary conjunctions. They are perpetuated by individuals, but ultimately affect masses. And just like in quantum theory, individual horoscopes are far more difficult to make accurate predictions of.  Macro-systems like nations are easier to predict.  In fact, an astrologer would argue that this data is more precise than quantum theory because, using the same patterns an astrologer continuously predicts when the next event will happen because the next conjunction has already been calculated.

A scientist would of course, bring in causality, and argue that there is no way to ‘predict’ that the event was perpetuated at that conjunction precisely, or even because of the conjunction. Therefore there is no chain of causality.

A scientist finds it difficult to see that there is no chain of causality then, in some of his or her own arguments either. Like changing ‘electrons cause electricity’ (which is absurd, since a single electron takes over an hour to travel 1 m across a copper wire) to ‘electricity is the flow of electrons’.  (What causes the electrons to drift as a herd then?)

Just like the astrologer, a scientist is dependent on a history of data that he has not directly measured.  The difference is, the scientist argues, how were the astrologer’s mathematical charts predicting planetary movement cycles measured? Did they just magically appear one day, or were they derived? There is no record.  The question is, does that make a difference?

An astrologer would argue that these laws invariably work. It makes no difference how the data was obtained. Furthermore, an astrologer is not concerned with absolute accuracy. Astrology, since the ‘beginning’ of time, has known that imprecision is a part of prediction. That predictive laws work out only on an average.

If only scientists took philosophy as seriously as philosophers take science…

RAGE-CONTROL TWEAKS

A couple of weeks back I reviewed a video game purporting to fix rage in children by targeting the relevant neural channels, rather scathingly. I made the people involved seem like they were more interested in proving their theories about the brain  than actually helping kids. This week I’ve decided to dedicate a post to elaborating on the game’s limitations. More specifically, how RAGE-CONTROL could’ve been tweaked to  shift the focus from the brain circuitry of anger to the actual patient.

First off, a recap of how the game worked from my previous post:

A cartoon version of the earth, complete with eyes and mouth floats in space. It’s under attack from little circular enemies of different colors,  from all directions. They have eyes and mouths…only the red enemies  reduce the health bar and the player has a limited number of ‘missiles’ to shoot them down. Their speed of approach and numbers increase, and it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish the colors and shoot the right one… The game was on a tablet.

And it’s breathing component:

The player breathed into the microphone. The electronic feedback created a circle around the earth.  How far out it expanded depended on the force of  the out breath. Then it contracted back.

(I criticized this  because blowing into the microphone  was a tool to visualize the breathing, but it was a distraction from the game’s standpoint. Since it didn’t do anything in the game, a child would soon learn to ignore it, defeating the purpose of a breathing component.)

Here was the overall rationale for the game:

Deep breathing helps alleviate stress , but “targeting relaxation alone is not enough, since the child needs access to these skills during the fast paced challenges of everyday life.” So the child must be taught to make “fast paced decisions.”

Sounds great in theory.

RAGE CONTROL was a cognitively exhausting experience. I was also physically stressed by the end from huffing and puffing into the microphone.  On an experiential level, the game was trying to tire out the anger rather than trying to fix it. And the creators forgot something basic: no one plays a game just because it helps them level down their anger.

RAGE CONTROL is just another space battle game, with no innovations. If a child is asked to play it every time he or she is angry, they won’t. Any gamer will tell you, once they’ve beaten a game, they’ll only do it again if there was something new to experience.

And the whole point of introducing gaming to therapy is precisely that patients may not want to cope with their problems directly. They have to be ‘tricked’ into coping with them. The process of healing has to be a subliminal one. If the patient becomes aware they are being tricked, they will likely become resistant to the healing.  Which means calling a game ‘RAGE CONTROL’ is probably not a good idea.

What follows is a series of suggestions on how RAGE CONTROL could be improved to actually accomplish what it alleges to: make kids less angry in the long term.

1) MAKE THE AVATAR REFLECT A PERSON, NOT A PLANET.

Giving the earth  eyes, a nose and and a mouth doesn’t matter if the resulting image is aesthetically displeasing. The earth in this game was. A child playing might not want to associate with such an avatar.

An easy way to get around this difficulty is to make the avatar resemble a person, with arms and legs.  My recommendation is the pink pudding  from DBZ, masquerading as a magical creature by the name of Maajin Buu .

yummy...HA HA HA!!!

yummy…HA HA HA!!!

Imagine what it would be like to see this cute, cuddly creature floating in space, eating candy or ice cream, and getting constantly zonked by random space bugs for no reason.  Every time  it gets hit the ice cream or candy falls, and its expression changes from happiness to confusion. This keeps happening until…

2) HAVE A RAGE BAR

BUU04

aaarrrgh…..

BUU TEAPOT

“!!!!!!!!!!!!”

BUU STARTING TO GET ANGRY

“That’s it. Somebody’s going to get turned into a candy, and then I’m going to eat them…”

This one sounds obvious, but there wasn’t a rage bar  in RAGE CONTROL. I’d suggest replacing the health bar with a rage bar.

The more Buu gets hit, the angrier Buu becomes. I’d make Buu get redder and redder, along with more steam like a teapot. And larger and larger, to the point of KABOOOOM!!! GAME OVER. 

The point of the breathing would be to lower the rage bar.

(Making Buu hold candy or ice cream  at the start of the game is not just an aesthetic choice because a  child can associate with them. The fact that Buu is getting angrier and angrier to the point of explosion because he’s distracted from eating candy/ ice-cream is quite trivial. Even a child can laugh at this. He or she is able to see a situation where anger appears comic.  With time, the child would be able to dissociate from his or her own anger and see it as trivial as well. )

Another good reason for an avatar with arms and legs is to address the offensive nature of anger…

We only learn things with helpful counter-examples. So the game should address the consequence of  acting out on rage.

Buu, the pink floppy pudding, should be able to stretch out arms and legs to repel or hurt approaching enemies. ( Using the touchpad to pinpoint an approaching enemy should make Buu’s arm/leg extend and hit that enemy. ) At first, the player may think this is the most effective way to deal with the incoming ‘threats’. BUT he or she notices that the rage bar rises when the this technique is overused. (To encourage the use of arms/legs the player should have a very limited number of missiles per round.)

Making the rage bar rise too rapidly however, is not helpful.  Because that would be trying to forcibly suppress rage with a warning mechanism to ‘control’ it in the short term. We are trying to show the patient why it is a bad idea in the long term. The difference is significant.

Suppression does not teach the mind anything, because the mind does not get to sufficiently explore the negative consequences.

3) ‘BREATH SPHERE’ = PROTECTIVE FORCE FIELD 

I’ve already mentioned that breathing correctly into the mic should lower the rage bar. Here’s how:

The sphere should have a limited range and be able to either deflect incoming ‘threats’ or slow them down. The effectiveness(deepness) of the breathing should  determine how ‘hard’ the sphere is. The ‘hardness’ can be depicted by a gradual change in color, based on the number of seconds of the outbreath. If there is an interruption in the out-breath, the sphere’s hardness starts to ‘decay’ until the sphere disappears. Blowing into the mic after an interruption does not increase the sphere’s hardness.

Moral: You either breathe correctly at one go, or you don’t.

If the player deflects enemies for a specific amount of time without causing offensive damage, the rage bar goes down by a specific number of notches. This will encourage deep breathing.

4) THE RATIONALE OF ‘THREAT’

Is the point of teaching a patient not be angry about teaching them to ‘control’ rage or simply wait it out?

In real life, a child has lesser control of their circumstances than an adult, or even a teen.  So, should the enemies in RAGE CONTROL be necessarily destroyed? Do they need to have their own ‘health bars’? Or can they be dealt with by simply waiting them out using deep breathing?

Whatever the answer to these questions, after the incoming ‘enemies’ bounce off the breath sphere, they shouldn’t just disappear. They should hover, wait around, for an opportunity. Each enemy should be designed to wait for a set amount of time, to move around the screen and search for ‘weak points’ to attack. If they fail to hit Buu a set number of times, they leave the screen.  That’s how things are in real life.

5) A PENALTY TO HURT ‘INNOCENTS’

Only the red projectiles are ‘threats’. The rest aren’t increasing Buu’s rage. So the avatar, and by extension the player, should know better than to hurt the ‘innocent’ projectiles.

It doesn’t make sense to increase the rage bar when innocents get hurt, so Buu should be incapacitated, unable to defend himself from incoming ‘threats’ for a set number of seconds, when too many innocents are hurt.

An even better game mechanism that resembles real life is if some ‘innocent’ projectiles change color and become ‘threats’.   This could be determined by how many times it has approached the avatar ‘innocently’ and was repelled (using limbs or missiles).

6) SOUNDTRACK

I was listening to the Dark Knight Rises soundtrack the other day for the zillionth time, when I realized suddenly, how emotionally resonant it would be to an angry kid.

In my version of RAGE-CONTROL, there would be a soundtrack that resonated with anger. (Considering the simple nature of the game, not necessarily a Han Zimmer.) And as the RAGE BAR kept increasing, there’d be some some kind of ‘noise’ blurring the sound to send a subliminal warning to the brain.

There. I think that just about covers all bases.