ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an excellent way to reduce the damage done by addiction

Terramagne does things like this.  They put more effort into crime prevention, partly because the crimes can be a lot worse than here if they involve superpowers.  
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... to Boston.

Meanwhile in Terramagne, there are probably kits for making these things, like we have tinker toys, and kids race them on beaches like toy boats.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here is a truly brilliant method of invisibility: shifting your reflected light to a wavelength that the viewer can't see. 

Over in Terramagne, there are multiple versions of invisibility.  Some of them bend light or create complete transparency, which means that without compensatory powers, the person can't see.  (I have one blind character whose invisibility power actually prevented his retinas from developing properly.)  Some are based on perfect camouflage, mimicking the pattern around them.  Having seen this UV version in action now, I'm sure that's how some of the Chameleon Skin folks are doing it.  But they would still be visible to someone with Keen Senses who can see UV light. 


Jul. 19th, 2015 02:44 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
My partner Doug found this article about a hitchhiking robot

My first reaction was, "That poor robot!  Hitchhiking is dangerous."  Which is a sad commentary on human behavior.  Power doesn't corrupt, it reveals; which is why men are less at hazard hitchhiking but less likely to get rides, and women have an easier time hitching a ride but are more at risk.  The only protection a robot has is if someone regards it as another person's property (which it is, but it looks abandoned when posted beside a road) or anthropomorphizes it enough to treat it gently.

So there are actually two aspects to this experiment: how to humans treat robots, and how do humans behave when they are unlikely to be punished for indifference or even cruelty?   The first is the primary goal of the experiment: can robots trust humans.  My suspicion is no, so I'm surprised this one has lasted as long as it has.  That's hopeful. But then some girls make it out of drunken frat parties without getting raped, so there is a luck factor.

I'm intrigued by the construction.  This is a vaguely humanoid robot, in that it has two arms and two legs attached to a torso, sort of a head with two eyes, and so on.  I'm also intrigued that the eyes are glowing red.  That's a prevailing motif with robots.  I think it's because people often consider robots to be a threat, and red is a danger color, and some predators have eyes that reflect red at night.  So I would expect people to have a more negative reaction to a red-eyed robot than a green-eyed one.  Thus far, however, the robot has survived.  It was designed with a "rummage sale" aesthetic, so maybe that helps people think of it as cute, as something to be protected instead of ignored or exploited.  Hmm, the chunky outline may help it read as "childlike" and activate some protective instincts.

It will be interesting to see what happens.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
All dialects are linguistically equal.  All of them have grammar

I am particularly intrigued by the stressed-bin example, which is not one I've encountered before, but I note that it follows a similar set of rules as Southern done as an auxiliary verb.  Done means something like "all finished" or "all the way," which is much like a perfective marker, but it can also be used for emphasis or distant past.  Mostly it's a perfective, as in "He done chopped the wood."  You hear the emphatic version in things like "He done had enough" and the hints of distant past in "She done give up on men."  But like stressed-bin, you can't make a question with it: *"Done she give up on men?"

Writing an unfamiliar dialect is very challenging, because it's easy to make mistakes like that if you haven't heard it spoken regularly.  When I write dialect, it's either one I've heard or I'm using what references I can find.  There aren't many references on dialects outside the mainstream ones, because privilege, and what sources there are, often aren't very good.  But I'd rather make my best attempt at them than write everything in newscast-English.  0_o  So I cite my sources if I'm using them, and let it go at that.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
... from people in case they die in police custody.  Useful if you belong to any group the police enjoy abusing and murdering.
ysabetwordsmith: (gold star)
This gaming community solved online harassment.  First they polled the community to determine local standards.  Then they created a learning system which allowed users to penalize behavior outside community norms, or reward particularly good behavior.  This is optimum because it allows each community to set and maintain its own standards.  Parameters are created by the community and enforced within its own interactions, not devised and imposed from outside.  This way, each little corner of cyberspace can establish its own ideals.  Everybody wins!
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's an article about how the West Coast could be largely wiped out, and it's not about the San Andreas. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article talks about the declining effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy.  I am fascinated to explore why something that used to work pretty well is now not working as well. 

I can think of some possibilities not mentioned in the article:

1) The longer a therapy is around, the wider it is known.  That means more people have access to it before  official therapy.  You can go online and find CBT theory, techniques, thought distortions and how to fix them, worksheets, and other tools.  This raises the chance that someone already knows CBT and has tried at least some of its methods before seeking professional help.  So if the therapist then does more CBT, it looks less effective measured from the start of therapy,  because the client already did some of that stuff and got whatever benefit they got from it earlier.  In this case, CBT only has a high rate of helpfulness for people who really need guidance and/or advanced techniques that don't work well alone.

2) CBT is terrific at treating certain types of problems, but mediocre or useless for others.  If you have bad tape, this is a go-to therapy for fixing that, and you should definitely try it.  Same with any other logical or practical problem.  It's also ideal for people who do better with facts, logic, numbers, or other objective things than with subjective things.  But if you are feeling unheard, your emotions are bent, unacknowledged memories are gumming up your subconscious, or your biochemistry is out of whack, then CBT is not ideal for those problems and won't help much.  It is possible that certain types of problem are more or less common in different decades.  If the problems presenting now are something other than logical/practical ones, this therapy will seem less useful overall.

Bottom line: If you have head problems that you need help with, start by identifying them as best you can.  Then look at the available options for treatment.  Each type of treatment is good at some things and bad at others.  Pick one that's a good match for your problem(s).  Try it for a while.  If it doesn't help, drop it and try something else.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 "The Expanse" is a new SyFy show slated for later this year.  I am favorably intrigued by the gender and ethnic diversity.  The article also rightly points out that we don't see many near-future SF shows, so that's promising.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 This one is towed by a segway.  I am fascinated by how much the outline resembles the hock of an animal in motion.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Burt Shavitz has passed away.  Some of you know him as the founder of Burt's Bees, a line of natural healing products based on bee products.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
A new GMO food in development is the pink pineapple, with the antioxidant lycopene.  I might like to try that one, as it has a defined benefit for diners (rather than just enriching executives). There is also a purple tomato, but we already have those from non-GMO varieties.  Eh, I'd consider tasting the new ones.  I like the concept of gengineering but frown on most of the current applications due to safety concerns and/or features that don't benefit the end user.

I disapprove of the non-browning apples and all other modifications which make stale food seem fresh.  This route is why most supermarket fruits and vegetables are so tough and flavorless that they're barely worth eating, so people don't eat them.  They were bred for such things as shipping durability or ease of harvest instead of nutrition and flavor like people used to do.  Fuck it, I'll buy heirlooms at the farmer's market.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
If you don't like how other people portray you, then represent yourself!  That batch is from Africa.  Don't let other people control the conversations about you, your  people, your homeland, or whatever else they're busy botching.  Speak up.

As a writer, I heartily approve of this.  It makes research easier and more effective.  One challenge I face in writing diversity is that most references aren't diverse.  They've heavily slanted.  If I search "African women" I get A) pr0n and B) pity pr0n.  This is not helpful when I am trying to find, say, a picture of a Nigerian woman or a park ranger.  Projects like the one above help broaden the material available.  Then I can do a more accurate rendition of Africa even though I haven't visited it in this life. What makes an African city distinctive from an American or Russian or Chinese one?  What about the landscape is unique?  I need sample of more than just giraffes!
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Nicholas Winton has passed away.  He is best known for rescuing over 650 Jewish children from the Nazis.  

The real heroes rarely if ever think of themselves as heroes.  They may not even have a heroic job.  They may be facing insurmountable odds with insufficient resources.  They may be in danger if they're caught.  But they do what they can, and they focus on saving "that one."  This guy saved 650+ "that ones."


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August 2015



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