Odd Files

The Other World Series

In October, another premier world sports event reached its climax, with one team left standing, rewarded for months of grueling practices, to the cheers of adoring, frenzied fans. The “world series” of professional team computer games was settled on a stage in a packed, 40,000-seat stadium in Seoul before three gigantic TV screens and an Internet audience of millions. The powerhouse Samsung White team out-moused and -keyboarded the Chinese champions at “League of Legends” (which 27 million gamers worldwide play every day), using its fantasy characters to destroy opponents’ bases. The winning team took home $1 million of corporate money, but future earnings should escalate when idolized world-class players unionize and swing merchandising endorsement deals.

Can’t Possibly Be True

Carnell Alexander at one point owed about $60,000 in child support for a kid he did not father (according to a DNA test) and knew nothing about, but despite “successfully” challenging the claim 20 years ago, he still owes about $30,000. The mother who accused him long ago admitted lying (in that naming a “father” was necessary to get welfare benefits), and while a judge thus wiped out Alexander’s debt to her, the state of Michigan nonetheless still demands that Alexander repay benefits it had paid to the mother.

Brits Behaving Britishly Bad

Literature professor Thomas Docherty was back at work in October following his nine-month suspension from the University of Warwick for “inappropriate sighing” during meetings with a senior colleague, along with “making ironic comments” and “negative body language.” (2) In October, Andrew Davies, 51, was ordered by magistrates in High Wycombe, England, not to lie down in public places anymore (unless genuinely stricken by emergency). Previously, he had a habit of making bogus “999” (911) calls to get attention, and when police confiscated his phone, he began compensating by lying in roads until compassionate passersby called for ambulances.

The New Math

More than 6 million students have downloaded the new iPhone app PhotoMath to solve Algebra I and Algebra II problems by pointing the phone’s camera at a printed equation. The answer, and the explanation, quickly appear on a screen, as a teaching tool — or for the students to show “their” work if PhotoMath is used on exam questions. The Croatia-based developer told the Quartz website in October that it is working on upgrades for higher-level math equations (though no relief is in sight for those chronically pesky “word problems”). Meanwhile, the debate has been triggered over whether PhotoMath is a dynamic technological advance in education — or a cheating-enabler.

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