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Just testing the new dreamwidth journal. Nothing to see here.
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Are you among those who are surprised at how hard it is to get people to not be jerks? Well, consider this: When your dog poops in the living room, does shouting at him, whacking him with a rolled up newspaper, and rubbing his nose in it actually help train him to not poop indoors in the future? No! Animals, including humans, do not respond well to negative reinforcement. If your message is primarily negative, you’ll find it a long road to change the behavior of others.

This includes those who are engaged in trying to make the world a more enlightened place – battling against racism, sexism, or intolerance of sexual preferences or gender identity. You are probably frustrated at the majority of the white and/or male population, and how they just don’t seem to get it. Well, I’m sorry, but the primary message they’re getting reads like, “No. Bad! Wrong! How horrible! Inappropriate! Unacceptable! Bad Dog! *Whap!*”

Once you think of it as trying to train a fellow animal, it becomes clear why this doesn't yield good results, and generates a lot of pushback. It is not enough to point out bad behavior. Rewarding good behavior, however, targets how people most effectively learn.

I expect you are now thinking, “I should not have to reward good behavior! We’re civilized human beings, and this should be merely the base of what’s acceptable!” I’m sorry, but that position is not grounded in the reality of how people operate. However objectively right or wrong you are, you still need to reward people for doing the right thing. Adults may be more sophisticated than children, but the fundamentals are still the same – right action cannot be assumed to be automatic. It must be taught, and good work should be rewarded.

Unfortunately, negative headlines get eyeballs. They raise our ire and righteousness; they’re good at energizing your supporters. But directing that negativity at the people you wish to change is probably not going to have a salutary effect.

Consider this the next time you’re sharing headlines on social media. What are you trying to do in reposting? Does the article you’re planning to share actually help achieve that goal? The next time you want to share an article describing how *wrong* someone was in their behavior, consider instead seeking out an article to share about how someone was *right* in their behavior.
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I hate my phone.

This is not the normal kind of techie-hate for a device's function, or the everyman's hate for crappy service. My phone and service work quite well, honestly. And, "hate," is probably the wrong word.

I fear my phone.

Or, perhaps more accurately, I have been conditioned to have my phone be a symbol that elicits anxiety.

My wife and I discuss animal training every once in a while, and I know humans often scoff at the idea that it can happen to them. But it is quite clear to me that we are very trainable. And, this also stands as as an example of how negative reinforcement training is a clumsy, unreliable thing. I take no social phone calls to speak of. So, over the past few months, with my wife's injury and attendant insurance issues, major challenges at work, and my mother's declining health, I expect 75% or more of the time, when my phone made any kind of noise, whatever came out of it was going to be a difficulty, or something distressing. Intellectually, I don't associate the problems with the phone, or even the people calling me, but with the situations behind all of it.

But emotionally, I seem to have associated that with the phone. I don't want the phone. I want to forget to charge it, leave it off, leave it behind. I get a little knot in my gut when I think about my phone.

I don't feel the same issue with, for example, my e-mail. The good things in the day, my wife e-mails me about! E-mail is where we arrange gaming sessions, and pleasant social engagements! While there are still problems in my e-mail, I also get good things in there, so it is ultimately positive. My phone is not so lucky.

I only recently consciously realized this has happened. That leaves me wondering how many things I, and people in general, have been conditioned to avoid. Subtly, just under the surface, so that we don't even notice it ourselves. How often is that foot dragging you might see from someone else not laziness, or incompetence, but just negative reinforcement training?
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In a week and a half, I'm in a running of "The King's Musketeers" live action game. By incident or accident, I ended up in a plum role - Porthos.

Life being what it is right now, I had jumped on a bandwagon organized by someone in the game - rental of costumes. The quality was good, and the price couldn't be beat. Unfortunately, that bandwagon broke an axle - the deal has fallen through (for pretty much everyone involved). It looks like they'd been aiming for a discount for us as a theatrical production, but apparently that means we needed non-profit or charity status, or somesuch. Whatever it is, the rental is not to happen.

So, now I'm challenged to come up with costuming as a Musketeer in a week and a half. For SCA garb, I'm basically a t-tunic kind of guy. 1600s France is way out of my period and style. And I'm a big fellow - the number of folks who do late Renaissance garb that I could borrow... well, I don't know who I could ask. And the Musketeer tabard is a pretty specific item.

To the collected wisdom of my fannish friends and acquaintances... help? Anyone have good resources or websites that don't charge exorbitant fees?
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This, for Boston-area folks:

I know I've asked similar stuff over the years, but it never hurts to look for newer information. We are looking at having to repair (probably replace, really) a water heater. Anyone with plumber/heating technician recommendations?
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I look handsome, I look smart. I am a walking work of art!

New artwork behind the cut tag, for those who don't care to see...

Stone and oak suit me )
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I could use some good fortune on the morrow. Not like there's a doom looming overhead, but something good I can grab if the wind blows in my favor. My Free Will Astrology horoscope says I'm, "...scheduled to have a Zooey Deschanel-according-to-Gawker.com kind of week," which, while I am sure that's delightful, isn't quite what I'm going for just this moment.

So, I'm trying to figure out what kinds of offerings I should make tonight, and what powers to offer them to. Suggestions from the peanut gallery?
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From the Ottowa Citizen:

The NDP’s (New Democratic Party's) Pat Martin raised the question Tuesday about how the government was prepared for an attack from zombies and he actually got an answer.

“I rise today to salute the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and the province of Quebec for putting in place emergency measures to deal with the possibility of an invasion of zombies,” Martin said. “I do not need to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that zombies do not recognize borders and that a zombie invasion in the United States could easily turn into a continent wide pandemic if it is not contained.”

He continued: “On behalf of concerned Canadians everywhere, I want to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs – is he working with his American counterparts to develop an international zombie strategy, so that a zombie invasion does not turn into a zombie apocalypse?

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird replied: “I want to assure the member and all Canadians that I am dead-icated to ensuring that this never happens. I want to say categorically to this member and through him to all Canadians that under the leadership of this Prime Minister Canada will never become a safe haven for zombies, ever.”
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Sorry, all of you folks who got an autoplay video. Totally not my intent...
Because autoplay is annoying )
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As a run-up to the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, BBC America will be running one classic Doctor Who tale each month. One per Doctor, in order. First will be "The Aztecs," starring William Hartnell as the First Doctor, in its entirety, this Sunday, 9PM.

Unfortunately, I don't get BBC America. But others should still have the pleasure, so I spread it around...
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So, I've noted that I'm not much a fan of Daniel Craig's Bond movies. I've always favored the older flicks - and here we may see why. And article in JAMA notes that Bond flicks have been getting notably more violent as the years pass.

Bond violence


Nov. 23rd, 2012 02:06 pm
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Boston locals with large vehicles - I need a hand. Best Buy just sold me a TV that won't fit in my car (I know, stupid 1st world problem). If someone with a car of significant capacity has a little time today, I could use an assist to join the 21st century...

Edit: Problem may be solved...
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Henry Reich, of Minute Physics, has a few words and pictures for the President.

This goes a way to explain why we have so many nutbar denials - we are not teaching them not to be so.

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Too early, but I don't want to lose the link...

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Preston Reed: Tractor Pull


Nov. 2nd, 2012 02:21 pm
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"In its early run, OMNI published a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Orson Scott Card's "Unaccompanied Sonata", William Gibson's "Burning Chrome" and "Johnny Mnemonic", Harlan Ellison's novella "Mefisto in Onyx", and George R. R. Martin's "Sandkings". The magazine also published original sf/f by William S. Burroughs, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Carroll, T. Coraghessan Boyle, and other mainstream writers. The magazine excerpted Stephen King's novel Firestarter, and featured a short story, "The End of the Whole Mess". OMNI also brought the works of numerous painters to the attention of a large audience, such as H. R. Giger, De Es Schwertberger and Rallé. In the early 1980s, popular fiction stories from OMNI were reprinted in "The Best of OMNI Science Fiction" series and featured art by space artists like Robert McCall."

And now, it is available, in its entirety, on the Internet Archive...

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"Benjamin K. Tippett has a theory. The University of New Brunswick mathematician believes that he’s figured out what, exactly, those insane sailors saw that night in 1928 when they encountered Cthulhu on a lost island in the Pacific. And so Tippett has written a hilariously deadpan paper explaining “non-Euclidean geometry” once and for all."

So, do I risk working through his math, and possibly lose the Sanity Point?

Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific
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Woke up, got out of bed, ran a comb, across my head...

Got to the bus on time, but, inexplicably, the bus horn got stuck on. We're driving along going *hhhoooooonnnnnnkkkkkk!* for a block and a half until the driver finds a place to pull over. He has to shut down the bus, start it up again, shut it down again, go out and unplug the bus battery and re-plug it a couple of times, get back in, restart bus, and start driving for another half-block before the horn inexplicably shuts off.

Got to work, stopping in the cafe to pick up a yogurt and a banana for breakfast, but yes, they had no bananas.

Got to my office, found my desk stuff shoved around, covered with plastic, and the ceiling tiles ripped out as workers are dealing with a water leak from upper floors. Only my cube, mind you, the rest of the office is fine.

Decided to go back down to the cafe, to get a cup of tea, and found a line of students out the door trying to get their pre-class caffeine. Couldn't really blame them, but was not willing to wait with them, so I settled for a bottle of Almost But Not Quite Entirely Unlike Tea*.

I'm waiting for a clown car to appear and disgorge a bunch of Nixon impersonators, or something equally absurd. *sigh*

*Diet Dr. Pepper qualifies for this moniker.
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Have I said before that, whatever his qualiteis, Sir Richard Branson is one of my favorite people?

This from an interview with CBS News:

And while some have bemoaned federal funding cuts to NASA, Branson sees it as a positive development for the private sector. "You've got a Democratic party who have decided, 'Let's now let private enterprise take this forward,'" he said. "I think they're absolutely right. The private companies can do it at a fraction of the price."

But Branson isn't just set on visiting space for hours at a time. "In my lifetime, I'm determined to being a part of starting a population on Mars," he said," before adding "I think it is absolutely realistic. It will happen."

And, the man does have resources...
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