The Blood is the Life for 21-10-2017

Oct. 21st, 2017 11:00 am
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[personal profile] miss_s_b

Fish

Oct. 20th, 2017 11:01 pm
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Fish_54


The visibility under the water, though, isn’t that great.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Me and a dolphin

Oct. 20th, 2017 06:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Me_10


Still at Discovery Cove, this was my first time interacting with a dolphin (well, porpoise). As I mentioned yesterday, I am generally in favor of zoos. I know they are not perfect and the non-accredited zoos are often quite awful. One of the places where my personal ethics make me a bit uncomfortable is when “intelligent” species are kept in zoos. As we have been trying to define “intelligent” for generations and seem to be unable to do, I am going to clarify by saying that I am referring to species of a significantly higher than average level of neural complexity that appear to live rich social lives and require constant interaction with their environment to be psychologically healthy. It’s not a great definition, but it does draw a line between octopuses which seem like good problem solvers and dolphins which seem genuinely intelligent. That said, I must admit to a likely human-centric view here.


Anyway, I get a bit uncomfortable when I see great apes and cetaceans in zoos. I tell myself that they wouldn’t necessarily be better off in the wild – great ape habitat is almost entirely gone, and the shallow oceans are far from healthy places to live. Physically, the dolphins are a lot better off in captivity. As for their mental well being, I always had a problem seeing dolphins in huge sterile tanks.


This is where I think that Discovery Cove has made great strides. Yes, the dolphins are taught to perform a routine and interact with guests. This can elicit memories (for those of us old enough to remember) of dancing bears at the circus. However, in talking with the trainers, I was impressed at how much effort was put into first, making the experience safe for the animals and second, designing the entire program around consent.


Discovery Cove has at least one pod of dolphins that live in a bay-like environment. It’s clean, but not sterile in the way that an aquarium is. The dolphins are trained to volunteer to come and play with the humans. They’re allowed to have their preferred trainers and if they don’t want to “work” that day, they don’t. Sure, they’re rewarded for performing with fish and fish-flavored jello, but that’s not all that different from humans being rewarded with money and occasional pizza parties.


While I, personally, did not enjoy the sameness and controlled experience that Discovery Cove offered – mostly because I’ve had experiences much closer to the wild – for the first time, I did not feel sorry for the dolphins. I think this is a big step in the right direction. I am also pleased to note that SeaWorld is reworking their older parks to build this newer understanding of cetacean psychology into the life experiences of all of their animals.


(And before you mention that movie, know that it was as misleading as the anti-Planned Parenthood “baby parts” video. People can edit footage to tell whatever story they want. SeaWorld isn’t perfect, but they’re not monsters either.)




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Ray

Oct. 20th, 2017 02:00 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Fish_8


This is one of the cool things you can see when you go underwater.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

The Blood is the Life for 20-10-2017

Oct. 20th, 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] miss_s_b

Humans

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Humans


This is what the “dive experience” looked like, in the human direction. Everyone was under water with forced air going into the weighted helmets. The air was balanced for buoyancy. The net effect was that people who might have trouble walking or breathing were able to go underwater in ways that may not have been possible before. However, people who are sensitive to pressure making ears pop and such should probably avoid it.


Once underwater, you held onto handrails and walked on the prescribed path. Mostly, it was seeing fish. A side effect of the helmet is that you couldn’t really move your head up and down, which made getting the right angles on photos nearly impossible. So, I don’t recommend it for the photography aspects. Still, it was an interesting experience.


The most interesting thing for me was the moment I walked down the ladder and saw the water close over my head. As soon as that happened, something in my brain went “This is **wrong**, get out now!” It’s weird to be 40 years old and encounter a new instinct. I used logical brain to push that aside and did it anyway and I was fine. However, in that moment I suddenly understood the stories of people suddenly and unexpectedly panicking. Had I not been prepared for that feeling, I could see the instinct overriding the logical brain very easily.


It was interesting.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
miss_s_b: (feminist heroes: Sarah Jane Smith)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... and while not everybody on these two playlists fits the definition of feminist or metal (especially not metal, TBH) I would say that these two spotify playlists are the place to start:

Emma Jay Olsen's Angry Feminist Playlist
and my very own Ladies Who Rock

But in terms of feminist metal bands, you can't go far wrong with:

Hysterica (esp Heels)
McQueen (esp Not For Sale)
Wicked Wisdom (esp You Can't Handle)
Halestorm (esp Rock Show - principally because I've never heard anything capture that feeling better)
In This Moment (esp Comanche - we've took all we can and we won't take any more)
and of course
Skunk Anansie (esp Rise Up)
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Not much to report back, really. It was the debrief meeting. It was mostly us examining the things you lot had reported back to us.

I fed back all the things that you folks asked me to feed back in this and this post; pretty much all of them were received loud and clear. Especially popular was [personal profile] hollymath's suggestion that we put "would you benefit from step-free access" rather than "are you a wheelchair user" on Speaker's cards; this is definitely going to be done, hopefully for spring, but if not then for next autumn.

I've been given more work to do, which is mostly my own fault for volunteering to sort shit out. Nick Da Costa and I have to redesign the end of conference survey, so if you have any specific ideas about that do let me know. Is it too long, too short, too fiddly, etc? What questions do you think should be asked, and which ones do you think should be retired? As usual, I can;t promise to act on every suggestion, but I promise to at least read and respond to every suggestion.

Specifically regarding the app, which I know a few of you talked about: there was a feeling that we've sunk a lot of time and effort into the bespoke app, and it gets better every time - which it definitely does - and the developer is very responsive to requests for changes, so Grenadine is not going to fly. The specific comments about line numbers and clock hiding and too much nesting are definitely going to be fed back to the developer, so if those aren't sorted out for Spring you can take me to one side, spank me, and call me Gerald.

I'm going to go get a well deserved drink now.

Me with Urchin

Oct. 19th, 2017 06:00 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Me with Urchin


I post a lot of photos from zoos and, for the most part, I am in favor of them.


I am not, however, naive. I’ve been to some, pardon the language, real shitholes. I do not post photos from those places. (This is not a story of one of those places.)


Almost all of my photos come from AZA accredited zoos (CAZA in Canada, EAZA in Europe). These places are required to prove to their peers that the animals are healthy – physically and psychologically. They are required to be involved in the science of conservation and, increasingly, to have some sort of in situ program in place, protecting or rehabilitating specific ecosystems so there will be a place for the animals to live in the wild. Every zookeeper from an accredited zoo that I’ve ever spoken with wishes that animals could live in the wild and be more free from the gawking public.


There is, however, another type of zoo. Discovery Cove (owned by SeaWorld) is an accredited experiential zoo, where it tries to provide something of a “visit to the wild” experience to people who can’t afford the time or money to actually travel to the far reaches of our planet. A lot of the “theme park” zoos are moving in this direction and, in general, I can say it’s positive.


These places are a lot more expensive than a trip to a “regular” zoo, but a hell of a lot less expensive then taking a trip to the tropics. This approach also allows them to streamline the guest experience. For most people, this is great. It allows people with various disabilities to participate in things that would otherwise not be an option for them. This photo is of a “dive experience” where everyone wears pressurized helmets and the group spends about 20 minutes walking through a huge aquarium. If you’ve ever done a real dive, there’s a lot missing. However, it is a lot closer than a lot of people will ever get. From that perspective, I am in favor of this change … mostly.


As someone who has traveled, if not to the far reaches of the world, a bit further than the average American, the sameness of the experience was troubling. It is a lot more like going on a Disney ride than being in the jungle trying to see the flash of feathers that indicates a rare bird that almost no one will ever see. In their attempt to streamline the process for everyone, they’ve lost a lot of the wonder.


Still, there is wonder if you look for it. Being able to enter the environment of a sea urchin instead of pulling them into yours is a different experience. For me, it was one well worth doing once. It’s certainly worth it for people who can never do it any other way. However, I’m not sure if I, personally, will go back.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

FCC Meeting 19th October 2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 06:19 pm
miss_s_b: (Politics: Goth Lib Dems)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I'm attending this meeting right now, by dialing in to the phone conference machine in the middle of the meeting room.

It's interesting to note who has a clear speaking voice and who doesn't. No, I couldn't possibly name names :P

Will report back on actual happenings later...

ETA: Have just been christened The New Gareth Epps due to my scathing comments about real ale provision; I'm taking that as the compliment it was doubtless meant to be

Pigeon

Oct. 19th, 2017 02:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Pigeon


None shall pass.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

The Blood is the Life for 19-10-2017

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:00 am
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miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Yorkshire)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
So, my friend made a game. It's a classic point and click adventure in the style of things like Monkey Island. You click on things, you talk to characters, you solve puzzles, you win the game. Except... I thought Monkey Island was dead boring. This is not dead boring. I've even played the tutorial through three times, just to see what the different answers do, because it's so laugh out loud funny.

So yes, I'm slightly biased here because the game is made by someone I know, and is set in a fictionalised version of a town two train stops away, and my daughter voices one of the characters (look out for small child of indeterminate gender Little Bilge)... but this is the most fun I've had playing a game in ages. It doesn't try to screw you for more money, it doesn't make you do stupid repetitive daily tasks, it doesn't rely on ninja reaction times. It's happy to just make you laugh and warm your heart. In times like we are going through now, that's more valuable than diamonds.

Honestly, guys, you know I wouldn't bullshit you about anything involving money, I'm from Yorkshire.

Go buy Yorkshire Gubbins. You won't regret it.

American Bison

Oct. 18th, 2017 11:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

American Bison_2


The twisted curl in the bison horn makes it easier for their horns to lock in combat, as each bull attempts to flip the other. The bull that can complete the largest number of turns in the air and still land on his feet wins control of the herd for the rest of the year.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Common Teal

Oct. 18th, 2017 06:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Common Teal_2


An extremely rare photo of a duck experiencing a sudden loss of buoyancy.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Southern Pudu

Oct. 18th, 2017 02:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Southern Pudu_14


Young members of the deer family have white spots to help them blend in to the undergrowth when hiding from predators that don’t have an “Aaawwwwwww!” response to the rest of them.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

The Blood is the Life for 18-10-2017

Oct. 18th, 2017 11:00 am
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[personal profile] miss_s_b

Swan

Oct. 17th, 2017 11:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Swan_3


Down pillows are the softest.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Working again!

Oct. 17th, 2017 02:20 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat
Hey look! They fixed the Wordpress posting to DW problem. With any luck, my photos will work from now on.

If you care about getting caught up, the first photo that was missed was this diving beetle. If you go there, you should be able to click on "next post" to see all of the others up to this one.

Pigeon

Oct. 17th, 2017 06:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Pigeon_6


If pigeons were rare, we’d be very impressed with their colours and patterns.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
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