A Guest In the Forge! – 1

A friend of mine told me that she had a friend who said he’d kill for a chance to make a damascus knife. I was in an expansive mood, and said, “well, he could come up for a couple days and I’ll walk him through it.” That’s how that happened. Fortunately, Maat is a cool guy, young and energetic, and he made it up here right before the ice set in on my driveway.

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Generalizing Behavior Between Species – Part 1

Observe the dog; it enjoys bacon. We might be able to conclude that a wolf would enjoy bacon, too. But “might” is the key word, there – can we really? I’d say it’s highly likely, but that’s based on my knowing other things already about wolves and dogs – namely that they are omnivores.

Why, then, might I run a complex and abusive experiment to determine if dogs like bacon? That would be a waste of time, right?

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A Short Note on Product Photography

Product photography is a really difficult thing to pull off well. You need drama and depth, but clarity as well. Your images are almost always highly constructed, but they need to look natural and spontaneous. They need to show a sense of the scale of the object, which means you need other things in the picture that convey scale without distracting. I used to have a whole shelf of books, which I practically memorized, about problem-solving different types of product photos.

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Once upon a time, there were two demons talking. One of them looked at the other and said, “whoah, you’ve got the ‘made the damned suffer’ award, how did you earn that?” The other demon replied, “I made the integral bolster knife popular, and the overall suffering in the knife-maker community went off the charts.”

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Drool, Drool

[Warning: Disturbing Pseudo-science Medical Experiments]

Pavlov’s apparatus sounded suspiciously sketchy, to me. Maybe that’s because I’ve gotten used to measuring things like a machinist: “15 drops” is not precise enough, I’d expect accurate measures to 1/10,000th of a drop. The illustrations we see of “Pavlov’s Dogs” are an approximation, but there’s already too much hose and surface; you’d lose a couple drops (at least) and I don’t think that the difference between unstimulated dog drool quantity and stimulated dog drool quantity is going to be dramatic.

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Problematic Conclusions

There’s an old joke I heard from one of my psychology professors at Johns Hopkins: “A psychologist is studying a frog. He puts it on a table near a yard-stick and says ‘JUMP!’ and the frog jumps a foot. The psychologist notes this down in his lab book and cuts one of the frog’s legs off, then puts it back in its starting position and says ‘JUMP!’. The frog jumps – not as well – 8 inches. The psychologist notes this down and removes another leg. The frog manages to jump 4 inches. With only one leg remaining, the frog is ordered to JUMP! and it manages to sort of shift its weight, painfully. The psychologist records 1/4 inch. When the psychologist removes the frog’s remaining leg, the frog just sits there, and the psychologist writes in his lab book: frog with legs removed loses its hearing.”

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