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Arthur Gillard
Lives in Sacramento, CA
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Arthur Gillard

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I trust we can all agree that this is an EXTREMELY trippy 2-minute video--someone ran the clip through Google's #deepdream  neural net processing with amazing results. 

I'm not sure whether to be delighted or unnerved--no matter, I can hold both states simultaneously. 
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nods. i think it's mostly harmless. ;-)
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Looks fascinating! Massive interactive videogam-y exhibit to teach children about ecosystems. If I'm in NYC in the next 5-10 years, I would love to check this out.

<quote> The New York Hall of Science's new Connected Worlds exhibit is a series of six interactive ecosystems that spreads across the walls of its Great Hall, united by a 3000 square foot interactive floor. Kids can use their hands to plant seeds, or to move real logs to divert water and notice the effects on the various environments. Healthy ecosystems produce creatures that migrate among the different worlds.

It's intended to teach young folks about how systems work, especially in the contest of ecology and sustainability. Prolific game designer and artist Zach Gage (we last spoke to him about fortunetelling apps and accidental clones, but he does all kinds of things) consulted on the project:

"My biggest pushes were for ensuring that the takeaways for children were experiential (to be unpacked later with educators/family members/friends) rather than a set of point-by-point facts or statistics," he writes. "I strongly believe that part of the power of games is that they can convey experiences, not just lessons, and that experiences can be key in teaching certain topics that are too complex to ever truly understand—in this case, systems thinking." </quote> 
The New York Hall of Science's new Connected Worlds exhibit is a series of six interactive ecosystems that spreads across the walls of its Great Hall, united by a 3000 square foot interactive floor...
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Arthur Gillard

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I'm considering trying motivational/gamified fitness apps, anyone have any suggestions? 

Specifically, I'm looking for something that would work with any fitness level, not just for people doing hardcore workouts. For example, I was just looking at one (EveryMove) where "one plank a day" would be a goal--that's great. OTOH a lot of them seem very oriented towards hardcore workouts (I get that impression from Fitocracy, for example.)

I'd also like to be able to invite a small number of people to compete or cooperate in a way that helps motivate each other, but NOT something that obnoxiously posts my information on social media feeds or shares info with random people not of my choosing. Whether competing or cooperative, ideally it would work well with people at very different fitness levels and abilities. 

To use EveryMove as an example again, I note that "Friends and family can be invited to EveryMove, and EveryMove will reward you with points when your friends are active (and vice-versa)." I like the sound of that kind of cooperative dynamic. 

I'd love to hear about any such apps or games that you use/have used, and what you think of them. 
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Interested in this space so watching for replies...
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Excellent article on a disturbing topic. 

<quote> Rape Should Not Be Sexy

Not making rape scenes look sexy might sound like a no-brainer, yet avoiding this pitfall seems remarkably difficult. That’s because most popular media looks at women primarily through the lens of sexual attractiveness. Important female characters are uniformly young and alluring, while unconventionally attractive or older women rarely make it to the screen at all. It’s a troubling subtext: If women aren’t sexually attractive to men, what’s the point of them even existing?

The impulse to sexualize women is so knee-jerk and compulsive that sexiness becomes functionally mandatory, which sets the stage for maximum creepiness any time those characters suffer, and particularly when they suffer sexual violence.

As Rachel Edidin wrote in her critique of sexualized rape scenes, “Women are exaggeratedly—and always—sexy. They’re sexy on the phone. Sexy on the job. Sexy fighting. Sexy tortured. Sexy dead. Sexy raped.”

If you’re a woman in media, you’re basically the sexy Halloween costume of human beings in a world where Halloween never ends. Again, I cannot believe I have to say this, but if a movie or TV show can’t visualize a woman in non-sexual terms even for the brief duration of a rape scene, it has no business depicting rape scenes.

Rape Does Not Have to Be Seen to Be Believed

For reasons that almost uniformly do not speak well of us as a species, when rape is introduced as a part of a character’s storyline—either in the past or the present—we seem to need those assaults to play out before our eyes in order for them to seem real.

But do we really? Although the recent Mad Max: Fury Road movie featured a number of central female characters who had experienced rape and lived in sexual slavery, one of the most remarkable things about their depiction was that their rapes were not depicted on screen; instead, the movie trusted that we could simply believe what they were saying.

But where the movie made an active effort to get things right with its female characters—even bringing in Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler to consult—when it came time to make a comic book, the story got turned over to an all-male team that immediately introduced a rape backstory to “motivate” its main female character, Furiosa, and immediately put the previously off-screen rapes in the comic.
 </quote> 
Here's why that rape storylines are a bad idea—and just plain lazy.
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Truth in advertising!   #SightsOfSacramento  
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Alternate caption: This is a photograph of a sentence written on the sidewalk. 
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Of particular note: 

<quote> 4) Sense8

Love or hate the Wachowskis and their occasionally twee preoccupation with life, reality and spiritual awakening, it’s impossible to ignore the ways in which their Netflix drama about psychically linked strangers is a game-changer. The plot and its associated tropes are well worn and familiar to anyone who’s watched the duo’s films. Where the show shifts television’s science fiction paradigms is in its unprecedented embrace of diversity and its beautifully organic incorporation of issues relating to race, sexuality and gender identity. The show’s queer, transgender and female characters are front and center—not as progressive lip service, but as integral elements of the narrative, their struggles central to the show’s themes and core ethos. Sense8 is about psychic connection as a thinly veiled metaphor for empathy and, as such, fuses its politics and its plot in emotionally resonant fashion. If there’s another genre show that has presented such a complex and sympathetic portrayal of a trans character and then gone on to create a thematic link between her experiences as a trans person and the science fictional elements of the story, I haven’t seen it. It’s also worth acknowledging that whether or not Netflix spins it into a success, the show is still a pioneering sci-fi effort in the first wave of original streaming content, a format that is likely to become the standard iteration of what we think of as TV. </quote> 
The conventional wisdom says that the past 10 years have been a bad time for science fiction on television. Fantasy has been on the upswing. Space opera all but disappeared. Science fiction shows get canceled all the time. But a ton of great science fiction has been created since 2005. Here are 14 shows that changed everything.
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I enjoyed the series on the whole.  I hope it gets renewed so we can see where they take the story
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Arthur Gillard

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I wish a fox would come sunbathe in our yard!

+Laura Gibbs, for some reason I thought of you when I saw this. :)
“We have a sun bather in our garden :)”
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Fox likes the SUN. Beautiful!!!!!!!
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Very interesting perspective from a game designer on how games affect people, and how game designers can best work with the influence they have. 

<quote> Based on the research I did, I ended up concluding the following:

* The people who were getting hooked on online games were finding them meeting a need that they weren't meeting elsewhere. To pick the commonest example, people whose social needs for basic human contact weren't being met in meatspace, and who therefore sought friendships in MUD/MMO space. In this sense, the participation was basically therapeutic, and was often even vital to their happiness or survival. It is no accident that early MUDs and MUSHes were so often safe spaces for a variety of people whose real lives were difficult.
There is an enormous body of literature of the use of alternate genders in virtual spaces, for example.

* That there was some proportion of people who got hooked because they were susceptible to getting hooked on things, period, and that there wasn't much that could be done about it.

* That mentally, the notion of "telepresence" and a variety of aspects of how our senses function means that players will take interactions in a virtual space as "real," including having involuntary emotional reactions to things like abuse, violence, affection, and really, any other human interaction. Some people are able to distance themselves from this, but many more will simply treat the game as mediating the experience, like any other channel of communication. In other words, just as people can hurt one another, or fall in love, over the phone or with the written word, they can hurt one another or fall in love via a game.

* That periods of "addiction" to virtual spaces, or at the least, intense involvement in them, often seemed to have a standard lifecycle: a couple of years, then naturally over as people "graduated" from the hobby altogether. This may be attributable to Dr. Richard Bartle's theory that virtual worlds are about learning about oneself, about self-actualization in a sense. Learn enough, and you move on.

* That games, like any other medium, are capable of teaching behavior, moral lessons, and patterns to emulate. In this, they are no different than anything else. If a game portrays violence as the proper solution to problems, it is providing the same sort of moral lessons as a book or film that argues that violence is the proper solution to a problem. We have used stories as a means of teaching lessons for millenia, and there's every indication that they work.

* Further, unlike most media, games do have an entraining component, whereby reflexes can be conditioned. These reflexes are not only physical, but are also mental reflexes, the building of intuition through accreted knowledge. This has been explored in books such as Sources of Power and Thinking Fast and Slow. This entraining component is powerful (it "rewires brains" just like other forms of learning do), is sometimes hard to see (because we do not think about the decisions it leads us to logically, that's the whole point), and in designing a game we are creating learning patterns in players whether we mean to or not.

So, my conclusion was that *creators of games are correct to worry. But not in the sense that "games are bad for you." Instead, in the following ways... </quote> 
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Happy Canada Day, eh. 
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same to you, eh!
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Do river otters dream of Styrofoam sheep? #SightsOfSacramento  
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I quite enjoyed this 10-minute discussion of lucid dreaming as a preparation for death. 

#LucidDreaming   #death   #meditation   #Buddhism  
 
Quite interesting 10-minute discussion of lucid dreaming as a preparation for death.

<quote> Can lucid dreaming prepare us for the dying process? What might happen at the actual moment of death? Why are we scared of death and how might bodiless lucid experiences help to reduce our fear? Dr Clare Johnson and Dr Keith Hearne dive into the lucid void, Tibetan Buddhism, and lucid dreaming as an emotional and spiritual preparation for death. Dr Johnson shares the story of a remarkable woman whose experience with lucid dreaming during the final year of her life "taught her how to die". </quote>

#LucidDreaming   #death   #meditation   #Buddhism  
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Word. MOAR diversity, please!
The myth of white neutrality persists in the world of gaming, where black characters in fantasy games can be deemed less "realistic" than dragons.
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"More like a cat than a washing machine."
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Effing the ineffable since 1967.
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