Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Frivolities

     1. Hug Your Dog!

     Human psychologist Stanley Coren may regret ever having written this:

     Dogs are technically cursorial animals, which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running. That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away. Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level and, if the dog's anxiety becomes significantly intense, he may bite. For that reason, certain websites, which try to educate children and parents in order to reduce the incidence of dog bites (such as Doggone Safe), make a point about teaching children that they should not hug dogs. Furthermore, a few years back when a children's book entitled "Smooch Your Pooch" recommended that kids hug and kiss their dog anytime and anywhere, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) felt that it was necessary for them to release an official statement that strongly advised parents to avoid purchasing the book, since "this information can cause children to be bitten."

     Cursorial animals? Okay, that’s how they started out. But millennia of commensality and companionship with humans just might have changed the equation a bit:

     "This is interesting preliminary data which might serve as a good starting point for a formal study. But it's important to note that (to my knowledge) this is not a peer-reviewed empirical paper so I would caution against any firm conclusions before the work can go through this important part of the scientific process," Evan MacLean, co-director of Duke's Canine Cognition Center, wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

     For a rebuttal to Coren's op-ed, Mashable has taken the liberty of also looking around the Internet for dogs hugging. To our astonishment, we found some very different results.

     Have you hugged your dog today?

     Enjoy the pictures in that latter article. I did. And being the owner of a Newfoundland and a German Shepherd mix, both of whom frequently demand to be hugged, I would find it difficult to subscribe to Coren’s position.

     2. Follow Your Dreams!

     Dystopic has this to say about that:

     Youtube commercials are hilarious. They constantly go on about your “dreams” as if some marketer from a New York ad agency knows your “dreams” better than you do.

     “Finance your dream home.” Says one.

     Well, commercials can be like that. The ones that really amuse me are the ones that tell me that “you deserve” whatever they’re hawking. My immediate reaction is “Really? Did you ask my wife?” But Dystopic has a better one-up:

     If you said “It’s time to finance your dream home… IN SPACE” you might actually get my attention instead of my disdain.

     Indeed. I might even go for that, given how badly my knees are creaking.

     3. Hugo Award Stuff.

     A gratifying number of non-SF and fantasy readers wrote complimentary things to me about yesterday’s piece. Apparently the colonization of our cultural space by “social-justice warriors” has pissed off enough people to register even in a relatively sectarian matter such as this.

     For those who can’t quite believe that the war is as intense as I’ve stated, The Arts Mechanical has a copious roundup of reactions from the SJWs.

     On a related subject: Have you noticed the upsurge in the depiction of black-white and homosexual romances in prime-time TV dramas? One of them, Blindspot, features one of each. For lagniappe, the homosexual romance is between a pair of black lesbians. My, my!

     4. Words Fail Me.

     By way of Stephen Green at Instapundit comes the most absurd, self-centered demand for an accommodation I’ve ever seen: a demand for “maternity leave” without the terrible bother and burden of having a child:

     And as I watched my friends take their real maternity leaves, I saw that spending three months detached from their desks made them much more sure of themselves. One friend made the decision to leave her corporate career to create her own business; another decided to switch industries. From the outside, it seemed like those few weeks of them shifting their focus to something other than their jobs gave them a whole new lens through which to see their lives.

     While both men and women would benefit from a “meternity” leave after a decade or so in the workforce, the concept is one that would be especially advantageous for women. Burnout syndrome is well-documented in both sexes, but recent research suggests that women may experience it at greater rates; researchers postulate that it’s because women (moms and non-moms alike) feel overloaded by the roles they have to take on at work and at home.

     Bottom line: Women are bad at putting ourselves first. But when you have a child, you learn how to self-advocate to put the needs of your family first. A well-crafted “meternity” can give you the same skills — and taking one shouldn’t disqualify you from taking maternity leave later.

     This...person is in her thirties? Yet she needs several months away from her job so she can have “a whole new lens through which to see her life” -- ?

     Unfortunately, in our current sociopolitical climate demands of this sort get more respect than they should. The only proper response to such a claim of privilege is “If you’re not joking, you’re too immature and self-absorbed to work here. Either put your ass back in your seat or pack up your personal effects. I’ll have Accounting cut your final check.”

     5. No Safety? Really?

     I’m far from knowledgeable about handguns, so when I got interested in acquiring one I solicited the opinions of several persons of greater expertise. I heard quite a lot of praise of Glock. One colleague said he’d buy anything Glock offers. What I didn’t hear about was the rate of accidental fire incidents with Glocks...until I encountered the following:

     No safety? NO SAFETY?!?! Given the power of the “Safety Nazis” (see this article by P.J. O’Rourke), I’m surprised Glocks can legally be sold in the United States.

     The really surprising part, though, was the fanaticism of the Glock enthusiasts. Check out the comments to Wild Bill’s video for some priceless examples.

     6. Whys And Wherefores

     Now and then, a Gentle Reader will write to ask why I’ve produced this or that piece – or this or that kind of piece. What stimulates and shapes them? Mostly it’s whatever’s in the news, which I sweep through twice each day. But sometimes it’s pure whimsy: the need to depart from my habitual track – not to say rut – in search of something refreshing. These assorted pieces are an example of such.

     That’s also one of the reasons I’m trying to write a romance novel. Not the only one, though. Quite recently, after reading a recommendation for it at Dustbury, I picked up Heather Grace Stewart’s short romantic comedy Strangely, Incredibly Good at Amazon, and was thoroughly charmed by it. It’s funny, original, and endearing...and it got me to ask myself “Could I write something like that?”

     I’ve penned several short-story-length romances, but up to recently I’d resisted attempting novel length for reasons I can’t quite articulate. However, I’m finding the attempt both challenging and refreshing...which I suppose stands to reason for a writer whose other stuff tends toward heavy sociopolitical themes.

     We shall see. Meanwhile, enjoy your Friday. And remember, Toes Go In First!


Anonymous said...

Francis, There is no such thing as an accidental discharge. There are instances of gross negligence by a shooter that result in a "Negligent Discharge". Glocks are very safe pistols. You can throw one out of a second story window and it will not go off. The Glock Safe Trigger will not fire unless you press it. A safe shooter will never put his finger inside the trigger guard and on the trigger until he has acquired his target, made a conscious decision to shoot and presses the trigger.
During my twenty-nine years of police work, I witnessed a number of Negligent Discharges by my co-workers, none of them were carrying Glocks. The Glock is just as safe as any pistol on the market. The human carrying the Glock or the S&W or Colt will always be the most error prone part of the equation.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Accidental, negligent, feh. The gun has no safety. That exposes it to the possibilities Wild Bill describes and the incidents he enumerates, which a gun with a safety would not suffer.

Stewart said...

Hi Fran, I'll start out saying that although I own one Glock, it is one out of the 50+ handguns that I own, so I'm not a particular fan of them. That said, there are many handguns that have no external safety. Virtually all revolvers, most Smith and Wesson M&P pistols, Springfield XDs, many Sig Sauer pistols, many modern Walthers, and others. Some of them, like the revolvers, are double-action (or DA/SA), with long, firm trigger pulls, and others are striker fired, just like the Glock.

It's my experience (including from my own journey in firearms ownership) that less practiced shooters tend to prefer the affirmative nature of a safety switch, and indeed my carry pistols all have external safeties, but it's really a matter of your level of training and what you're comfortable with. There are good points on either side of that question.

Eskyman said...

Besides your own novels, Fran (which are excellent)- I also enjoy Dean Koontz' novels, but one of his first ones (don't remember the title, alas) was quite amusing. Unintentionally.

Koontz had to go to great lengths to avoid the hero just using the revolver that he had on the Evil Beast, which would have ended the threat immediately (and would have made the novel into a very short story.)

At that time Dean Koontz had very little knowledge of firearms (obvious to anyone who does) so his hero was frustrated because: the multiple safeties on his revolver (!) stopped the gun from firing, long enough for the Beast to get safely away and plot more evil for our hero to overcome. (For those who don't know: revolvers usually don't have a safety, let alone more than one; semi-automatics generally do have a safety.) That ended any drama in the novel for me.

I am thankful that somewhere along his writing career, Dean Koontz learned about firearms, as his later novels don't have such defects. Such ignorance really distracts from the story! (Koontz is from, and lives in, California; this may account for his lack of knowledge, as so many here are brainwashed.)

M. Night Shyamalan also has a problem with firearms, his film "Signs" was spoiled by the hero's not having a tool that probably every other farm in the region had: a shotgun. So the hero had to use a baseball bat to fight the aliens. Not very believable to me!

Finally, I don't care for Glock- they are functional, unlovely but generally work & go "bang"- but I'd much rather have a beautiful and/or historical weapon. Glocks are neither; their appeal seems to be that they are virtually indestructible.

Anonymous said...

A pistol with only a trigger safety may be "safe" for law enforcement, but I would never own one. Study the 100+ year old Browning designed M1911. It has two safeties. A grip safety independent from the trigger, plus a manual thumb safety.

The Glock can be fired simply by pressing the trigger even if it is not being held properly or at all.

Unknown said...

1. I love dogs. Last one that lived with us was a golden springer, buried him 20 years ago. Taken us this long to get over losing him. We all love dogs, but no one in our family hugs dogs. We do hug people. I resent people who think dogs are people, or better than people.
2. Dystopic, I think I need to visit your blog more often. My dream? I want a little 10 acre sheep farm on the west coast of New Zealand, with a 30 ft sailboat and dock. A small 4-room house (one room for my ham radio shack) and I want to sail around New Zealand once every year. It’s actually not difficult to realize that dream, except I’ve waited too long…
3. I’m a writer, not an author. I enjoy writing science fiction. I don’t think I even want to get involved in the bloody pageantry of publishing anything.
4. The American workplace has lost some things. One I would put way high on the list is “craftsmanship.” Fran, I think your proper response is proper. (about meternity…ha!)
5. I have a Glock 26, gen4… I love it. I love my SW s/s .357 also. Neither has a ‘safety’ as if the gun itself could be safe or unsafe. It’s not sentient. Keeping it safe is my job.