Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 5th, 2014

And an example of sex-negative parenting

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Here’s how that works out in practice.

Compare and contrast with this report.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2014 at 2:06 pm

Cuomo seems more and more despicable—has he no shame at all?

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The headline to Justin Elliott’s story in ProPublica pretty much sums it up: “Cuomo’s Office Denies Using Private Email Accounts. But it Does.” Details of why and who and what at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2014 at 12:29 pm

Marijuana in headlines

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I just received a newsletter from the Marijuan Policy Project, and I was struck by their first few headlines:

New York Times Calls for Repeal of Marijuana Prohibition

Brookings Institution Report Shows Colorado Successfully Regulating Marijuana

Marijuana Decriminalization Takes Effect in Nation’s Capital

Legal Marijuana Sales Begin in Washington

That is quite a quartet of headlines. I think virtually everyone 10 years ago believed that would never happen. And yet…

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2014 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Drug laws

What Sex-Positive Parenting Really Looks Like

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Very interesting article by Lea Grover showing sex-positive parenting in action:

t happened yet again. As I was sitting at the table for dinner with my children, I noticed my daughter’s hand fishing around under her skirt.

“We don’t play with our vulvas at the table. Go wash your hands and finish your food,” I scolded. She nodded, ran off to wash her hands, and resumed picking at her dinner instead.

Small children, they touch themselves. A lot. It’s fascinating to them. And when you’re a small child, you have no sense of shame or disgust or fear of your body. Your body is what it is. It does what it does. And everything that it does is kind of amazing, because you’re not old enough for lower back pain. It’s not sexual, it’s just… fact.

The first time I caught one of my kids playing with their genitals, I said absolutely nothing. I was momentarily paralyzed with indecision. One thing I knew for a fact I did not want to do was to shout, “No!” or “Stop!” What good could that possibly do? Sure, I would be spared the awkwardness of catching my child playing with her genitals on the living room floor, but what kind of lesson is that? To fear or ignore your own vagina?

I thought about it almost constantly for two days, and of course she gave me a second chance to react.

“Sweetie, we don’t play with our vulvas in the living room,” I said. Which sounded ridiculous and strange, but nonetheless true. Why is everything with little kids “we” statements? “It’s OK to touch your vulva, but people are private, and it’s a private thing. The only places where you should touch your vulva are in the bathroom or in your bedroom. If you want to play with your vulva, please go to the bedroom.”

And she smiled and did, without question, because compartmentalizing where you do certain activities makes sense to little kids.

“We don’t eat in the bathroom, and we don’t touch our vulvas in the living room,” became the new mantra. And yes, eventually it became, “We don’t touch our vulvas at the table.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2014 at 12:19 pm

Turns out, one laptop per child is not an educational panacea

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Details here.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2014 at 12:13 pm

Absolutely and totally fascinating: SoulPulse

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And just in time, I’d say. As the US becomes increasingly inequitable and increasingly polarized culturally, having some overall measures that can show trends—that might well be useful. Casey Cep writes in the New Yorker:

On April 10, 1901, Duncan Macdougall, a physician in Haverhill, Massachusetts, completed an experiment designed to measure the human soul, the first of six he would complete in his lifetime. Using an industrial scale designed for weighing silk, accurate to one-fifth of an ounce, Macdougall weighed a male tuberculosis patient before and immediately after he died. It took three hours and forty minutes for the man to expire, and at the moment of his death he lost three-fourths of an ounce. This, by Macdougall’s calculations, was the weight of the human soul.

According to Mary Roach’s book Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Macdougall didn’t publish his findings until 1907, when his research appeared in both the Journal of the American Society for Physical Research and American Medicine. In March of that year, the Times ran a story called “Soul Has Weight, Physician Thinks.” Perhaps because he wasn’t able to find additional human subjects, Macdougall performed the rest of his research on dogs, which he determined had no souls because their weights did not change after death.

Last January, John Ortberg, a senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, and Bradley Wright, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, released a simpler way of measuring a soul: SoulPulse, a technology project that captures real-time data on the spirituality of Americans. SoulPulse attempts to quantify the soul, an unbodied version of what FitBit, the exercise-tracking device, has done for the body. After filling in a brief intake survey on your age, race, ethnicity, education, income, and religious affiliation, SoulPulse contacts you twice a day with questions about your physical health, spiritual disciplines, and religious experiences. Each of the surveys takes less than five minutes to complete.

Baptized in the Lutheran Church, and a believer, I enrolled in SoulPulse for two weeks. I told it how I’d slept and what I’d been doing, whether I’d had anything to drink or taken any drugs, who I was with, if I’d been praying or worshiping, how close I felt to God. There were drop-down menus, slider buttons, and actual buttons to click, but no narrative answers were accepted. Day to day, I felt like I was adding up my spiritual position. Just how joyful was I? How peaceful? How grateful? Was I more aware of God when I was commuting or when I was using a computer? I had participated in a few research studies before, but I had never felt the observer effect—in which a subject changes her behavior as a result of feeling watched—so strongly. I didn’t doubt the experiment’s guarantee of anonymity, but being asked about my spiritual disciplines made me more eager to practice them.

One busy afternoon, I wondered how long it had been since I’d prayed, and realized that it had not been since that morning. Being asked so often to look for God’s presence made me want to be more aware of it, an experience not unlike gathering for worship on a Sunday morning, when the liturgy of the church makes me aware of things seen and unseen, attentive to the known and unknown. I asked Ortberg and Wright about the observer effect, and about a deeper skepticism I have about quantifying spirituality. I am a strong believer, but I chafe at any kind of program or book series that promises rewards or guarantees sacred fruits. Spirituality, it seems to me, is a thing that can not be counted.

Ortberg, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology, listened to my concerns, and said, “On the one hand, not everything can be put in a test tube or seen with a microscope. The most important dimensions of life have to do with the spirit, and those aren’t always quantifiable. But using the best tools and methods available seems like a worthwhile thing.” He also stressed that, while SoulPulse is using new tools, it is answering old questions. Describing Brother Lawrence’s “The Practice of the Presence of God,” a seventeenth-century text that linked God’s presence to daily tasks like doing the dishes and cooking meals, Ortberg said that believers across the centuries have tried to cultivate a mindfulness of the holy. He also pointed to Frank Laubach’s “The Game With Minutes,” a book from 1953 that taught practitioners to turn their minds toward God as often as possible, at least one second of every minute of every day.

“This is trying to use technology to gauge and enhance a tremendously old practice, to be aware of, to look for the divine in everyday experience,” Ortberg said. SoulPulse is simply a technological attempt at creating something like . . .

Continue reading.

List how many ways the sample is biased. Not sure how generalizable it will be, but it will be interesting to see the trends.

But these guys are going about it all wrong. They should do a free app that fires off questions at random times during the day, and user can set number of times a day s/he will tolerate. The various answers update an ever-growing database that is summarized in real time (accessible chart via smartphone) in charts of the overall SoulPlus readings. Real-time viewing of an aspect of the public mind. Intriguing—and fantastic marketing info.

In fact, now that I think about it, isn’t that somewhat like the sort of thing Facebook would do?

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2014 at 11:55 am

One obvious reason Reddit’s sub-reddits are so addictive

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Two words: random reinforcement, the strongest conditioning possible, as I recall. And whenever you look at a subreddit, it has changed somewhat—new entries, reorganizations, replies marked “(new)” if you use Reddit Enhancement Suite, which you surely should.

So that’s one reward: novelty at a comfortable level. And then sometimes, less often, among the differences is something that strikes your fancy, some point of interest to you. And that’s a real reward, since you really like that one, and it comes randomly.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 August 2014 at 11:36 am

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