ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This fascinating study suggests that belief, not just food intake, influences how the body responds to meals.  It's not just about the calories in the food.  It's about what we think  we're eating, and how we feel  about it.

So this seems like another place where mind over matter could be tremendously useful.  Meditation can impact other bodily processes.  One option for food satisfaction, therefore, might be meditating to improve those metabolic shifts to deliver better satisfaction with lower calories, and more efficient use of fuel rather than packing it into fat storage.  Unlike other dietary manipulations, this one doesn't cost money and it's likely to improve mind/body interaction.  Worth a try.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 This is not the first evacuation due to environmental foreclosure, nor will it be the last.  China has abandoned villages because of its changing climate, primarily drought.  How many?  About 24,000 over the last 50 years.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an article about how you don't really own ebooks

The problem is that this is fraud.  People think if they are clicking a "buy" button online, what they pay for belongs to them.  If someone then takes it away, they feel robbed, and rightly so.  Saying "buy" implies ownership of the product; it's a contract term.  If the fine print says "you don't really own this" then that deceives people, causing them to make different decisions, and the results can be negative.  This does not just harm Amazon's reputation; it damages the reputation of ebooks in general.  It makes customers feel that ebooks are unreliable, perhaps even undesirable; and that makes people less willing to pay for them.  This is an incentive to copy them from unofficial sources, because the authorities can't burgle what they don't even know you have.  It also makes life difficult for anyone who really IS selling ebooks on a "you pay me, and this thing belongs to you" basis.

Just in case you're wondering, that's me.  You pay me for an ebook, and that copy is yours, just as if you pay me for a paper book that I mail to you.  Robbing people's libraries is an abomination before the Lady.

And this is one of many reasons why I dislike ebooks, but even if I liked them for every other reason, such behavior would kill my interest dead, at least for anyone doing business on this basis.  It can be hard to tell who's playing straight and who's fraudulent, though, so a few bad experiences and the whole product line gets crossed off.  The risk isn't worth the reward.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was fascinated by this article about rats and racism.  First, it examines an interesting issue of altruism.  Second, it's about a series  of studies in which the first results were disappointing, so people looked deeper and devised ways of testing different possibilities.  Some of the best science involves digging down to core concepts like this, not accepting the first answer just because it meets somebody's expectation.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
See a map distinguishing more from less developed areas of America, graded in the same way as countries in Africa.  Notice the huge swath of squalor across the South.  That comes from a combination of racism, classism, and foolish policy making.  Those problems then become everybody's problems when the people who make them go to Washington.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a look at book authors as product brands, and what contributes to success. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a very thoughtful explanation of why robots will NOT get "smarter than humans" in the near future.  These are many of the same reasons I've been giving, arranged in clear and concise format.  This doesn't mean that artificial intelligence is impossible, just that we aren't as close as some people think, and there are still some major obstacles to solve.

On the other hoof, the potential for sentience follows the infrastructure.  If we start building machines with the physical  complexity akin to a human brain, then we're creating an environment that could  host a complex mind.  At that point it becomes possible, however distantly, whether we intend it or not -- just because life is mightily creative stuff.  We could wind up with an infant AI where nobody expected one.  I suspect the results would be bad, because humans still haven't figured out how to treat each other decently on a consistent basis, let alone the first of a new species with no legal protections.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
More and more online booksellers are practicing censorship.   This directly harms writers by preventing them from selling their work; it directly harms readers by preventing people from spending their money as they see fit.  

Some people say that this doesn't count as "real" censorship because it's done by corporations rather than government.  But it has exactly the same effect on your ability to write, read, sell, and buy what you choose.  Look around.  Corporations are doing a lot of destructive things that the government was forbidden to do because those cause problems, only nobody forbade corporations because nobody thought that businesses would ever have  the power to do government-type things.  Now they do, and it's a disaster.  

When a small business makes personalized decisions, it has a small impact; but when a megacorp does, it has a government-sized impact.  That makes it not okay anymore.  If you're going to function in an area where you control most or all of the market, then you have an obligation to serve ALL of that market, not cherry-pick just the customers you personally like and freeze out everyone else.

If you think this is only happening to erotica, it's not.  That's just a genre where it's relatively easy to catch people censoring content.  People who think that censorship is okay will manipulate everything according to their -- usually awful -- worldviews.  So there's probably censorship in other areas such as politics, religion, sexual health information, current events, etc.  It's a new bottleneck between creators and customers.

This is becoming a huge issue in books, videos, music, all kinds of cultural entertainment.  It's a problem with online money handlers who think that they have a right to tell you how you can spend your money.  Shopping in niche markets can be fun, but it's less efficient and effective than shopping in a few large places.  It wastes your time and causes you to miss some stuff that is available but out of easy reach.  

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Most TV characters are male, even in speculative genres favored by women viewers.  That's frustrating.  I'd like to see more of a mix.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.

I hear you, bro.  I've been saying many of the same things, since I was a wee toddler in the 1970's.  Nobody ever fuckin' listens.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Actress Shirley Temple has passed away.  She gave us some adorable movies, and a terrific cocktail.  She will be missed.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 So these are possible.  Now consider the oodles of stars in the Milky Way and other galaxies.  If it's possible, then somewhere out there is a planet shaped like a donut.  
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
 Arthur Rankin Jr. has passed away.  A talented animator, he is best known for creating Christmas specials such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" along with "The Hobbit" and "ThunderCats."  He will be deeply missed.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This man made a baby drop box to prevent unwanted infants from being abandoned to die. 

1) This is what real "family values" and "pro-life" actions look like.  It's about love and service, not about manipulation.

2) This is one example of how an ordinary person can make a huge difference in the world.  Find something that needs doing and go do it.  That's heroism.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 My partner Doug recently pointed me to a couple of articles about supersymmetry and monopoles.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Pete Seeger has passed away.  He was a famous folk singer and activist. 

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