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Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

Psychotria Child Autonomy (778 comments)

From Jared Diamond's book The World Until Yesterday

How much freedom or encouragement do children have to explore their environment? Are children permitted to do dangerous things, with the expectation that they must learn from their mistakes? Or are parents protective of their children’s safety, and do parents curtail exploration and pull kids away if they start to do something that could be dangerous?

The answer to this question varies among societies. However, a tentative generalization is that individual autonomy, even of children, is a more cherished ideal in hunter-gatherer bands than in state societies, where the state considers that it has an interest in its children, does not want children to get hurt by doing as they please, and forbids parents to let a child harm itself.

That theme of autonomy has been emphasized by observers of many hunter-gatherer societies. For example, Aka Pygmy children have access to the same resources as do adults, whereas in the U.S. there are many adults-only resources that are off-limits to kids, such as weapons, alcohol, and breakable objects. Among the Martu people of the Western Australian desert, the worst offense is to impose on a child’s will, even if the child is only 3 years old. The Piraha Indians consider children just as human beings, not in need of coddling or special protection. In Everett’s words, “They [Piraha children] are treated fairly and allowance is made for their size and relative physical weakness, but by and large they are not considered qualitatively different from adults ... This style of parenting has the result of producing very tough and resilient adults who do not believe that anyone owes them anything. Citizens of the Piraha nation know that each day’s survival depends on their individual skills and hardiness ... Eventually they learn that it is in their best interests to listen to their parents a bit.”

Some hunter-gatherer and small-scale farming societies don’t intervene when children or even infants are doing dangerous things that may in fact harm them, and that could expose a Western parent to criminal prosecution. I mentioned earlier my surprise, in the New Guinea Highlands, to learn that the fire scars borne by so many adults of Enu’s adoptive tribe were often acquired in infancy, when an infant was playing next to a fire, and its parents considered that child autonomy extended to a baby’s having the right to touch or get close to the fire and to suffer the consequences. Hadza infants are permitted to grasp and suck on sharp knives. Nevertheless, not all small-scale societies permit children to explore freely and do dangerous things.

On the American frontier, where population was sparse, the one-room schoolhouse was a common phenomenon. With so few children living within daily travel distance, schools could afford only a single room and a single teacher, and all children of different ages had to be educated together in that one room. But the one-room schoolhouse in the U.S. today is a romantic memory of the past, except in rural areas of low population density. Instead, in all cities, and in rural areas of moderate population density, children learn and play in age cohorts.

School classrooms are age-graded, such that most classmates are within a year of each other in age. While neighborhood playgroups are not so strictly age-segregated, in densely populated areas of large societies there are enough children living within walking distance of each other that 12-year-olds don’t routinely play with 3-year-olds.

But demographic realities produce a different result in small-scale societies, which resemble one-room schoolhouses. A typical hunter-gatherer band numbering around 30 people will on the average contain only about a dozen preadolescent kids, of both sexes and various ages. Hence it is impossible to assemble separate age-cohort playgroups, each with many children, as is characteristic of large societies. Instead, all children in the band form a single multi-age playgroup of both sexes. That observation applies to all small-scale hunter-gatherer societies that have been studied. In such multi-age playgroups, both the older and the younger children gain from being together. The young children gain from being socialized not only by adults but also by older children, while the older children acquire experience in caring for younger children. That experience gained by older children contributes to explaining how hunter-gatherers can become confident parents already as teenagers. While Western societies have plenty of teenage parents, especially unwed teenagers, Western teenagers are suboptimal parents because of inexperience. However, in a small-scale society, the teenagers who become parents will already have been taking care of children for many years.

Another phenomenon affected by multi-age playgroups is premarital sex, which is reported from all well-studied small hunter-gatherer societies. Most large societies consider some activities as suitable for boys, and other activities as suitable for girls. They encourage boys and girls to play separately, and there are enough boys and girls to form single-sex playgroups. But that’s impossible in a band where there are only a dozen children of all ages. Because hunter-gatherer children sleep with their parents, either in the same bed or in the same hut, there is no privacy. Children see their parents having sex. In the Trobriand Islands, one researcher was told that parents took no special precautions to prevent their children from watching them having sex: they just scolded the child and told it to cover its head with a mat. Once children are old enough to join playgroups of other children, they make up games imitating the various adult activities that they see, so of course they have sex games, simulating intercourse.

about two weeks ago

Text Editor Created In Minecraft

Psychotria Re:Cool, but why? (114 comments)

I meant to add...

When I am laying on my death bed and someone says "you did all these useless things -- you could have directed your talent towards really useful stuff and made lots of money", I will honestly be able to say "They were not useless; they made me happy. And that is what gave my life meaning."

about two weeks ago

Text Editor Created In Minecraft

Psychotria Re:Cool, but why? (114 comments)

Obviously a talented individual, think of that useful software could have been written with the same amount of time and effort.

I've been asked this question all my life.

When I decided I'd like to fly to the moon everyone asked why. "You could have spent your time and effort making a ship to fly to Australia," they said.

The time that I decided I'd like to write a series of novels that spanned generations of characters and several hundred years they said asked why as well. "Your time is better spent writing non-fiction and and historic account of something that really happened."

I remember one time when I decided to ride my bike to the other side of town. My grandfather said "Why? The bus is faster and you'll be less tired."

Sometimes I take a break from work. My co-workers ask me why when work is so rewarding anyway.

The other day I spent a crazy amount of money buying ingredients to make a very tasty meal (well, I thought it was). I was asked why. It provided my body the same energy as something I could have made using much cheaper ingredients.

Related to the above item, many of my friends ask me why I cook my own meals at all. If you look hard enough you can get someone else to cook something kind of similar for about the same cost.

I once decided to make my own analogue clock. I made all the gears and built it from scratch. Took ages. Cost a lot more than an analogue clock I could have purchased (and certainly a lot more than a digital clock).

Sometimes I do crosswords or solve other puzzles.

Even more occasionally I listen to music.

I go bushwalking (I am not sure of the American term -- walking in National Parks along trails?) and camping.

I could go on forever and for ever.

I don't need to do any of these things. I enjoy doing these things. I want to do these things. Most of them serve no practical purpose at all, apart from making me happy. That's not entirely true, though. If I set myself a goal that has no practical or useful purpose and achieve it I do get a reward. I even get a reward if I fail.

There is no purpose to life apart from being happy (IMO). And if doing something meaningless makes you happy then... then, well it's not meaningless is it?

about two weeks ago

White House Responds To Petition To Fire Aaron Swartz's Prosecutor

Psychotria Ok, the forum was not appropriate (189 comments)

What is the appropriate forum to get the agency to address these matters?

about two weeks ago

What Isn't There an App For?

Psychotria Re:Plant Recognition (421 comments)

I imagine this sort of identification software would just output a list of possible identifications ordered by probability. I think the shortcomings you've identified could be mitigated by making the user go through a decision tree answering illustrated questions about the plant's size, leaf branching, seeds/berries, etc. and by comparing the user's GPS location to plants' known distributions. If the list linked to descriptions and pictures of the potential IDs it'd become a pretty useful tool even if its single best guess wasn't reliable.

Yes, this is what existing applications (essentially) do. If one of these "interactive keys" (see DELTA and Lucid) combined image recognition to get key characters then that would bring things closer reality.

about three weeks ago

What Isn't There an App For?

Psychotria Re:Plant Recognition (421 comments)

I'd like to be able to take a picture of a plant or mushroom and have it identified for me. Bonus points if it tells me if it is edible. Bonus Bonus points for preparation instructions and recipes.

That's a long way off in my opinion. Positive plant identification relies on having reproductive material for the plant (e.g. flowers and/or fruit/seed/drupe/spore/etc) and a way of looking at those structures closely (often under a microscope). The identification of some plants will also take into account the root system.

Some plants are able to be identified (but not 100%) using vegetative characters only: e.g. phylotaxy, leaf complexity, growth habit, stipules (and their position), bark, pubesence on the stem or leaves, shape of those hairs if they are present (probably need a microscope), etc, etc, etc. But the positive identification is elusive -- mainly because of the taxonomy of species classification in the first place which necessarily takes into account non-vegetative characters and morphology.

That said, identification to the level of family might be a more realistic goal. Even then there are problems because not all genera (and certainly not all species) need not share common characters.

Grasses (Poaceae)? Good luck.

Identifying fungi using an app? Even more difficult unfortunately.

about three weeks ago

What Isn't There an App For?

Psychotria There's actually an app for that (421 comments)

There is an app to create an app that doesn't already exist... there must be. Err... surely? Hmm.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Linux Distro For Hybrid Laptop?

Psychotria Re:oh for fucks sake (210 comments)

its linux make it fucking work or deal with windows you lazy shit for brains retard who bought something before you even knew if it would work for you


Such eloquence! The way you've constucted that sentence is absolute perfection and I doubt it can be improved upon. Maybe correcting some spelling mistakes and grammar would help. Possibly adding punctuation would help. But these are minor points and in no way detract from your masterful prose.

I'm altering my Slashdot relationship with you (to friend) so that I can keep up with your posts. Hopefully if I keep studying your writing one day I will also be able to craft solid messages with comparable clarity.

about three weeks ago

UK Arrest Over Xbox Live and Playstation Network Outages

Psychotria Re:Funny (86 comments)

Do you really think the prosecutors, law enforcement agencies and lawyers are going to have a squabble about semantics?

about three weeks ago

Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8

Psychotria WTF is a PAC? (224 comments)

See subject

about 3 months ago

Flurry of Scans Hint That Bash Vulnerability Could Already Be In the Wild

Psychotria Re:Seems to be fixed for me(?) (318 comments)

Umm, isn't that showing that you are (potentially) vulnerable? I.e. the "echo completed" is being executed. Change that to some other arbitrary shell command, e.g. ls -al

about 4 months ago

Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

Psychotria I'm afraid that I... (212 comments)

I voted for the current government. Why? Because of the fiasco with the previous government changing leaders every 10 minutes and some proposed legislation (by the current opposition) I didn't -- and don't -- agree with.

The problem from my point of view is that I voted to try and make the best of a bad situation. Unfortunately, both major parties seem to have the same policy ideas! So, shit, they may as well be the same party. How can we elect leaders when they all seem to have the same ideas (well, once elected)? So, as mentioned I am part of the problem (because I gave them my vote) but what is the solution?

Anyone would think that we're a country led by the USA rather than a Commonwealth country of Britain. It's stupid. And this all started with the Free Trade Agreement. Personally I'm sick of the USA sticking their nose up other people's arses, but I'm out of ideas on what to do about it.

about 4 months ago

Reformatting a Machine 125 Million Miles Away

Psychotria Re:Is it running Windows? (155 comments)

You're probably joking, but the OS is VxWorks.

about 5 months ago

Hackers Claim PlayStation Network Take-Down

Psychotria Spread their terror (97 comments)

The group quickly spread to League of Legends and Path of Exile before deciding to spread their terror to PlayStation Network.

Terror? People were terrified by this? Really?

about 5 months ago

Heartbleed Coder: Bug In OpenSSL Was an Honest Mistake

Psychotria Re:Unit Tests are Not Optional Anymore (447 comments)

No production code without unit tests. Every possible type or class of input must be tested. All assumptions must be tested. All outputs must be verified for each possible combination of inputs. All failure modes must be exercised. No excuses, just do it.

Nope. It's a waste of time. Much of the time the people writing the unit tests are the same people writing the code, so their assumptions are also in the unit tests.

about 9 months ago

Emails Reveal Battle Over Employee Poaching Between Google and Facebook

Psychotria Re:There is a major difference (132 comments)

There was a real practice among facebook recruiters to search through linkedin and any other source, where they could identify Google engineers and contact them. I saw enough evidence pointing towards those people being contacted simply because they were currently working for Google. Personally I had zero interest in switching from Google to facebook, I don't think I even bother answering, when I was approached by facebook..

For what other purpose would you put your employer in your linkedin profile?

about 10 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Can an Old Programmer Learn New Tricks?

Psychotria Re:You appear to not know fundamentals. (306 comments)

At the very least, you'd benefit from using some type of interface builder to build a GUI program; it doesn't matter if it's for iPhone or Mac Desktop or Windows. You *can* learn to do this on other platforms, but they're generally pretty poor IDE environments compared to the ones available from commercial vendors like Apple and Microsoft, and it won't *force* you to think the right way about the problem space, if you use something like "Eclipse".

And what, exactly, does using an "interface builder" to build a GUI program teach you? Nothing. Respectfully, it seems that you seem to be part of the problem rather than the solution.

Commercial IDEs from vendors like Apple and Microsoft are "better"? Better for what? I think that after a statement like (in addition to the "gui builder") that you need to take a step back and consider what your stance is and how well you really understand things.

Tell me, what is the "order of the algorithm" that the gui builder generates?

about 10 months ago

WhatsApp Founder Used Unchangable Airline Ticket To Pressure Facebook

Psychotria WTF (144 comments)

I know that editor's at slashdot have a reputation for not editing summaries, but this has got to be the worst example of a summary I've ever seen. Perhaps Timothy's shift key is broken, or is it now acceptable to start sentences with a lowercase letter? Proper nouns seem to have escaped the need for an uppercase letter as well. I normally just ignore typos in the summaries, but this is beyond belief.

about a year ago



Stanford offering more free online courses

Psychotria Psychotria writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Psychotria (953670) writes "Stanford university is offering more free online courses that begin in January and February 2011. From a message posted in the Introduction to Databases forum:

We are launching several free, online classes for January/February 2012 today:

CS 101 by Nick Parlante @ cs101-class.org

Natural Language Processing by Dan Jurafsky and Chris Manning @ nlp-class.org

Software Engineering for SAAS by Armando Fox and David Patterson @ saas-class.org

Human-Computer Interfaces by Scott Klemmer @ hci-class.org

Game Theory by Matthew Jackson and Yoav Shoham @ game-theory-class.org

Probabilistic Graphical Models by Daphne Koller @ pgm-class.org

Machine Learning by Andrew Ng @ jan2012.ml-class.org (Same class as current ml-class.org)


New Study Estimates 8.7 Million Species of Life

Psychotria Psychotria writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Psychotria (953670) writes " A study published in PLoS provides a new estimate on the number of species inhabiting our planet. The study predicts that there could be approximately 8.7 million eukaryotic species globally. This suggests that some 86% of the species on Earth, and 91% in the ocean, still await formal description and classification. In 2007 E.O. Wilson stated "We live on a mostly unexplored planet." It seems that it may be more unexplored than we thought."
Link to Original Source

DNA from 1000 Year Old Viking

Psychotria Psychotria writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Psychotria (953670) writes "Wearing protective suits to ensure contamination didn't occur, scientists have extracted the DNA from the teeth of a 1000 year old Viking skeleton.

From the article: Using freshly sampled material from ten Viking skeletons from around AD 1,000, from a non-Christian burial site on the Danish island of Funen, Dissing and colleagues showed that it is indeed possible to retrieve authentic DNA from ancient humans."

Backup solutions for a home network

Psychotria Psychotria writes  |  about 7 years ago

Psychotria (953670) writes "I know that this has probably been asked on Slashdot before, but not for a while. I currently have 6 computers in my home — three Linux boxes, a window box and an OSX laptop. I am considering buying another box dedicated to backing-up each of these computers on the network. My question is: Is there a Linux application that can achieve this? Ideally, I would like to turn the "backup box" on once a day and do incremental backups of selected areas on each of the machines mentioned above. Would I need to configure SMB shares to do this, or is there some magic application which will allow me to achieve this?"

Psychotria Psychotria writes  |  about 8 years ago

Psychotria writes "I have a Windows XP box that I use mainly for games. In the last couple of months I've noticed a decrease in performance (for example, frame-rates are lower). I don't think this is due to any additional software being installed (as I mentioned, I only use the machine for games). I reinstalled XP and the problem went away — until the Windows updates were installed. Now, the frame-rates in my games have dropped again. Additionally, svhost spends the first few minutes after booting at 100% CPU. I don't want to seem paranoid, but has anyone experienced this? Is it possible that a "performance decreasing" feature has been added to XP to encourage users to upgrade to Vista? I'd like to hear of any similar experiences."


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