I'm taking a break from my resolution to stay off of social networks, just for a couple of weeks, so I can play with my publishing site at the soon-to-be launched Liberty.me. Those of us who signed up early get to play with the beta version. Hope to see you all there in a few more weeks!
So it is exciting when someone comes along and distills all of the work that has been tirelessly cranked out for years by free-market analysts, and turns it into a compelling story about the indisputable evil that is the FDA.
You can read the rest here.
This was the annual Victorian Easter Egg Hunt and Various Activities, held at the Doctors House Museum, on the grounds of the Brand Library in Glendale, CA. We took our kids and it was absolutely fantastic! Here's what was so cool about it: So often when you go to a children's party or event, it's loud and fast-paced and there are people shouting out things to do and it's just overwhelming. There seems to be this perception that children need to be fed a constant stream of entertainment or their brains will explode from boredom. I think the opposite is true. I think you could leave a bunch of children in a bare, open space with nothing at all to amuse them and within a few minutes they would be amusing themselves. It's when you overload them with all kinds of crap all the time that their brains start to short circuit.
Anyway, whoever came up with the Easter Egg Hunt gets it. They get that you don't need to over-entertain for kids to have fun. There was a big lawn and a bunch of eggs, and before long it was just a big lawn and some Victorian-era games that you could play: Ring Toss with Sticks, and Croquet. There was also a crank-style ice-cream maker in a gazebo, and there was just lots and lots of space for running around. My daughter fell asleep on me and then started getting upset when she woke up because she was hungry. But my son could have stayed all day. Let me tell you, those Victorians knew how to have a good time. Not a lot of flashy BS, not a lot of noise, just a big lawn in beautiful surroundings, some refreshments and a few simple games offered up. It was wonderful.
I was a little disappointed that we never got to see The Doctor though.
EPJ reports that:
Users are livid that Condoleezza Rice, a war criminal and supporter of warrantless wiretapping, would be welcome to the board of directors at Dropbox.
For more details, check out the site drop-dropbox.com. I'll be cancelling my account ASAP.
I had previously said that:
It's pretty sad that a business has to explicitly inform its customers that it won't just randomly hand over their information to law enforcement. But given the actions of Amazon, Visa and others, it has become necessary.
Anyway, for taking what has become an uncommon principled stance on this, I am wholeheartedly recommending them...
Just another reminder that it's always important to distinguish words from actions.
I won't have time to actually read it for a few more weeks but flipping through it, it looks great. I'll have more to say about it later, but for now check out this interview with the author:
As an aside, it seems to me that Pvt. Manning was not raised in a punishment-reward paradigm.
I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of “punishment” for teaching children. Early on, when our son was probably around two, and against my better judgement, my husband and I decided to try out having a “naughty spot” for our son to go when he had done something naughty. The night we tried it out I don’t even remember what his offense was - only that he stepped happily over to the “naughty spot” as if it were a game, and then looked over at us with a smile. I felt sick with myself. I could see what introducing “punishment” would do to our relationship with our son and I decided in that moment that it would never happen.
Since then, we’ve struggled with ways to resolve conflicts with our boy, and with getting him to do what we want him to. But I’ve never believed that “getting kids to do what you want them to” is any kind of legitimate goal in parenting. And for the most part, reasoning with him works just fine - although I am aware that sometimes the “reasoning” starts to sound a little like punishment (“if you keep yelling, your cousin is going to have to go home.”) I do think there is a difference between enforcing rules and explaining consequences and “punishment” - but maybe it’s not as solid a line as I thought initially. So we keep struggling.
But after a few years of pursuing punishment-free parenting, it is really heartening to see that there are strong arguments (and even data!) on our side. I’ve started reading Alfie Kohn’s “Unconditional Parenting” and I just can’t recommend it enough. Here are some excerpts re: the consequences of “teaching” via punishment and reward (yes, using rewards can be just as harmful.) And just to be clear, of course I’m not even talking about corporal punishment, spanking, etc. which we would never have even contemplated (unless of course we wanted to raise children who believed that the way to get other people to do what you want is to hit them. Especially people who are smaller than you.)
Here’s Kohn on “time outs”:
“One clue to the nature of the technique is provided by the origin of the term. Time Out is actually an abbreviation for time out from positive reinforcement. The practice was developed almost half a century ago as a way of training laboratory animals. As B.F. Skinner and his followers labored, for example, to teach pigeons to peck at certain keys in response to flashing lights, they tinkered with different schedules by which food was offered as a reward for doing what the experimenters wanted. Sometimes they also tried punishing the birds by withholding food, or even by shutting off all the lights, to see whether that would ‘extinguish’ the key-pecking behavior. This was done with other critters, too. Thus, a colleague of Skinner published an article in 1958 called ‘Control of Behavior in Chimpanzees and Pigeons by Time-out from Positive Reinforcement.’
“Within a few years, articles began appearing in these same experimental psychology journals with titles like ‘Timeout Duration and the Suppression of Deviant Behavior in Children.’ In that particular study, the children subjected to time-outs were described as ‘retarded, institutionalized subjects.’ But soon this intervention was being prescribed indiscriminately, and even discipline specialists who would have been aghast at the idea of treating children like lab animals were enthusiastically advising parents to give their kids a time-out when they did something wrong. Before long it had become ‘the most commonly recommended discipline procedure in the professional literature for preadolescent children.’
“We are talking about a technique, then, that began as a way of controlling animal behavior. All three of those words may raise troubling questions for us.”
...on “love withdrawal” forms of punishment as a whole:
“Many years ago, a psychologist named Martin Hoffman challenged the distinction between power-based and love-based discipline by pointing out that love withdrawal, a common example of the latter, actually has a lot in common with more severe forms of punishment. Both communicate to children that if they do something we don’t like, we’ll make them suffer in order to change their behavior. (The only remaining question is how we’ll make them suffer: by causing physical pain through hitting, or by causing emotional pain through enforced isolation.) And both are based on getting kids to focus on the consequences of their actions to themselves, which is, of course, very different from raising children to think about how their actions will affect other people.”
This last point is key. And it gets at the distinction between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Says Kohn, “Intrinsic motivation basically means you like what you’re doing for its own sake, whereas extrinsic motivation means you do something as a means to an end - in order to get a reward or avoid a punishment. It’s the difference between reading a book because you want to find out what happens in the next chapter and reading because you’ve been promised a sticker or a pizza for doing so.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children growing up to pursue stickers and pizza. I want them to love learning and to have pursuits they are passionate about. Pursuing extrinsic rewards and avoiding punishment is a very very low form of human existence. So much so that I’m not even sure I’d call it human.
“What I want to emphasize is that extrinsic motivation is likely to erode intrinsic motivation. As extrinsic goes up, intrinsic tends to come down. The more that people are rewarded for doing something, the more likely they are to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward.”
And there are studies backing him up:
“...one experiment after another has demonstrated that rewards are not only ineffective - they’re often counterproductive. For example, researchers have found that children who are rewarded for doing something nice are less likely to think of themselves as nice people. Instead, they tend to attribute their behavior to the reward. Then, when there’s no longer a goody to be gained, they’re less likely to help than are kids who weren’t given a reward in the first place. They’re also less likely to help than they themselves used to be [emphasis mine]. After all, they’ve learned that the point of coming to someone’s aid is just to get a reward.”
There’s lots more, and other studies too. This is a fantastic book and I’m sure I’ll be quoting from it some more. But for now, I just want to let this last bit sink in.
Says the Open Source Beehives team:
We're a team of ecologists, beekeepers, makers, engineers, and open source advocates who believe that citizens, rather than governments or corporations, can solve this problem by taking action together.
If you contribute to their Indiegogo campaign, here, you can get the design files to print your own beehive.
Your contribution will help us develop sensors to enhance our hives, connecting them to the Internet to log data about what is causing the bees to disappear around the world. This data can be used to study colony health, build hard evidence against the causes of the problem, and generate policy change and informed solutions moving forward.
While I disagree that "policy change" can ever be a good solution (seriously - who is going to enforce these policy changes? The same agencies that are in bed with Monsanto? Monopoly justice systems don't work people...) they're on the right track, and I love the idea of spreading little beehives all over the earth. For more information, check out their campaign.