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Comment Re:Well just download the ISO. (Score 1) 324

The free CDs are also great for people who don't have broadband or limited broadband coverage. Some satellite ISPs put a very small limit (just a couple hundred MB) on how much you can download per 24 hours without your speeds getting severely throttled.

Also, for people like my mother, who is obsessive about filing away hard copies of EVERYTHING, even if a copy is readily available, having a free copy sent to her made her much happier with installing it.

I think it's good for them to limit it to 1 per user (maybe reset it every few releases?) But I am also happy they are trying to maintain this as removing EVERY obstacle (how do i use this "tornado downloader", how do i burn a disk, etc) from a new user makes them much more likely to try your system.

Comment Re:I for one... (Score 1) 178

You ask for a portion of it; some here, some there, more at Christmastime and during the holidays. So long as the banks have enough money to give everyone what they want

From what I understand of banking, please correct me if I'm wrong, is that if the bank makes bad investments, then it won't have the money to give everyone what they want at times of high demand, like Christmas. And yes, this is a unlikely situation; however, financial institutions believe they can take a higher level of risk because the FDIC ensures that even if the banks majorly screws up its investments, the depositors will be covered. But the FDIC is kind of doing the same thing to the banks, they don't actually have enough money to pay for every depositor up to $250,000; but they are betting that not all the banks will fail at once. The system is inherently flawed, but they are just counting on the probability of the flaw manifesting being improbable. So, the system is usually safe, and usually flexible, but an unlucky turn of events, and some bankers placing the wrong bet causes a chain reaction that puts a severe crack in the system. And it comes back to banks getting greedy with their drive for capital gains, rather than taking a more moderate approach to investing our money, because they know, ultimately, that they won't bear the responsibility for the losses.

Comment Re:"Committed Suicide?" (Score 1) 538

I am all for euthanasia in terminal cases and people not wanting to live like a vegetable or be a large burden on their family. This man is not some angsty teen contemplating silvia plath in a candle-lit room. In all accounts this man lived a more courageous and productive life than 99% of us. To all the people arguing about bravery to live/cowardice in giving up: fuck you. Come back here and tell me how meaningful and brave it is to lie around waiting to die. The man had terminal lung cancer; there is no cure to "hold out" for, any treatment that could prolong his life would debilitate him further. Stop fearing death so much that you are willing to compromise on what you consider to be alive.

My concern with this is the man shot himself in the head. Given the resources available to him, he could have chosen something a little more graceful (like pills). We can't fully know his reasons, but it stands that if you are doing this to not be a burden on your family, you would not want them to come into as messy a scene.

Comment Re:Self domesticated (Score 1) 503

I know you aren't being too serious with this, but I feel a response is somewhat valid in clearing up animal behavior and training.

While kicking the animal may stop the specific unwanted action, it produces other unwanted actions through aggressive or passive-aggressive behavior. My partner isn't as nice or patient with our cats as I am, and does yell and physically scold them (water spray or midly scruffing them down--not hitting or kicking). They respond by knocking over his water glass on his desk and by clawing up the top of his leather chair.

On the other hand, I can leave a glass of water on my desk unattended and the top of my chair has 2 puncture locations where they tried clawing once; I firmly told them "No." and then set them aside. I sat around for a few minutes and the next time they looked like they were getting ready to jump up on top of the chair, I picked them up, gave them a treat and pet them for a bit. Repeat a few times and now they know if they want attention from me, they come over to my chair and put their front paws on my thigh and I pick them up.

Training animals takes patiences and a knowledge of that animal's psychology to anticipate actions they will take so you can modify the behavior BEFORE it goes bad.

Back on subject of the article, it seems that cats understand this better than humans. They know that negative, plantive meowing is likely to annoy the human and get the cat ejected from the bedroom, so they switch tactics and use something humans respond positively towards (purring), as a base for a sort of Skinnerian training of their human.

ps - I apologize for the wall of text in my first post. Blame it on giving up coffee and cigs.

Comment Re:Self domesticated (Score 5, Interesting) 503

How much of this perception is expectation? I've had cats and dogs, and while I agree that dogs are easier to train, it is still possible to completely train your cats to respond to verbal and gestural commands. I think a lot of people don't even try to train their cats, or treat them like untrainable companions because that is what they expect. When the cat does something bad, instead of looking how to modify the behavior, people say "oh, that's cats for you!" and then give the cat attention (either negative or positive). I think one of the big differences between cats and dogs that set up this mentality is cats respond a lot better to negative attention than do dogs. When a dog is punished, he feels cut off from the pack, and while negative attention is slightly better than nothing for a dog, it has a more significant impact in reducing unwanted behavior when paired with intermittent positive reinforcement. Cats on the other hand, just like attention. When training them, you just can NOT punish bad behavior unless it is a serious transgression (knocking over the tv, smothering the baby, etc). Instead you have to focus on rewarding positive behavior. So, if your cat meows a lot, don't yell at him or squirt him because he then will continue to meow--he thinks you are talking or playing with him. Instead, wait until he stops and reward the silence. Cats are a little more like toddlers. In general, the most negative action I take is to ignore them, but then give them lots of praise and reward for acting in ways I approve. So don't say cats don't take instruction from humans. I think it would be more accurate to say dog and horse owners take more care to understand the psychology of their pets and put more effort in training them, and as a rule, give up on cats before they even try training because they have already jumped to the conclusion it's impossible.

Comment Re:Anyone else massively creeped out by this? (Score 1) 458

The notion comes from seeing people who are prescribed large doses of "mood-stabilizing" drugs like paxil, xanax, zoloft or lithium. Of course this is anecdotal, and n=100-200, people I talk to who take depression or anxiety medication say a large portion of the time they feel empty. I think it comes from a drastic switch in mindset. You are coming from a place where for however many years, all you know is being really sad or really angry, or at best ambivalent. All the sudden the extreme moods are moderated and you have to learn a new scale and relearn how to deal with situations that arise in your life.

The brain learns patterns by a process called neuroplasticity. In a very basic sense, thought is a series of electro-chemical impulses and everytime you have a thought or experience, the connection between the related neurons is strengthened. This makes it easier for that thought to occur again.

Mood-stabilizing drugs help to "smooth" the probability function of you experiencing a certain thought pattern to allow you to choose a more beneficial course, rather than immediately reacting negatively towards external stimulus. Except in very extreme cases, drugs like this are meant as a crutch to help people get through a tough time and learn to deal with life on their own terms, gradually phasing out the drugs. The transitional period can be weird because all the sudden you are dealing with completely new thought patterns and desires. You are still yourself, but you aren't going to react as strongly towards influences. For example, if you used to fly off the handle and scream during the commute home, instead you may get a little agitated, or take a few deep breaths and calm down. On the other hand, things that used to make you really happy also elicit less response, and many people can't have orgasms under medication. These are all temporary states, but they do lead to the idea that people on meds are hollow or zombies.

In my own personal experience, I hated the way I felt on paxil and xanax so much that I decided I would be better off experiencing the bad along with the good and learned how to moderate my own mental impulses. I am no longer suicidally depressed and only occasionally have anxiety attacks, which can all be prevented or alleviated with a few deep breaths and some positive thinking. I really think a large portion of people on medication now don't really need it, but no one is interested in teaching them (or they are too lazy to learn) how to positively react to situations.

What happens to someone who moves from an area with high-levels of lithium in the water to an area with little to none in the water? If someone is already prone to mental disorder, do they suddenly find themselves in worse moods or emotionally unstable for no reason?

Comment Re:Business or Charity? (Score 2, Insightful) 203

The dilemma is that their main goal may not be to make money. Maybe they want to provide information or a creative outlet or a little bit of humor to people. If the cost of doing so is not offset by incoming revenue, it is impossible for them to maintain, no matter how good their intentions. So, yes, you are right they should stop doing it because Africa probably isn't going to turn a profit with their current business model anytime soon. However, if that causes them to stray from their vision, they are wise to remember their goals and figure out what they can do outside of "making a buck".

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