TV foodie Brown / FRI 6-13-14 / Conditioning apparatus / Fermented milk drink / Feminist with 1984 book Gender Gap / Lefty out in left field / Storage Wars cry / Brand that's shortened description of its flavor
Friday, June 13, 2014
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: SKINNER BOX (30A: Conditioning apparatus) —
An operant conditioning chamber (also known as the Skinner box) is a laboratory apparatus used in the experimental analysis of behavior to study animal behavior. The operant conditioning chamber was created by B. F. Skinner while he was a graduate student at Harvard University (Masters in 1930 and doctorate in 1931). It may have been inspired by Jerzy Konorski's studies. It is used to study bothoperant conditioning and classical conditioning.Skinner created the operant chamber as a variation of the puzzle box originally created by Edward ThorndikeAn operant conditioning chamber permits experimenters to study behavior conditioning (training) by teaching a subject animal to perform certain actions (like pressing a lever) in response to specific stimuli, such as a light or sound signal. When the subject correctly performs the behavior, the chamber mechanism delivers food or another reward. In some cases, the mechanism delivers a punishment for incorrect or missing responses. For instance, to test how operant conditioning works for certain invertebrates, psychologists use a device known as a "heat box". Essentially this takes up the same form as the Skinner box, however the box is composed of two sides: one side that can undergo temperature change and the other that does not. As soon as the invertebrate crosses over to the side that can undergo a temperature change, the area is heated up. Eventually the invertebrate will be conditioned to stay on one side of a heat box, or more specifically the side that does not undergo a temperature change. This goes to the extent that even when the temperature is turned to its lowest point, the fruit fly will still refrain from approaching that area of the heat box. These types of apparatuses allow experimenters to perform studies in conditioning and training through reward/punishment mechanisms. (wikipedia)
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Today's puzzle went down much more nicely. Lots of fun. But I had at least heard of the Killer Proper Nouns in this one, i.e. SKINNER BOX (to a lesser extent) and SOULJA BOY TELL 'EM (to a greater extent). I got a huge smile out of imagining the average NYT solver (that's probably you … I mean, odds are …) watching SOULJABOYTELLEM come into view, cross by cross, and having no idea how the hell any of it could be right. I was going to say "I feel like he was big maybe five years ago"—then I reread the clue, and there it is: 2009 (51A: Rapper with the 2009 hit "Kiss Me Thru the Phone"). That sounds right. I know him by name only, and after crosses made it clear who I was dealing with, I still misspelled the start of his name at first, opting for the equally creative SOLJAH. Not sure how to account for my errant Rastafication. Anyway, that name, and SLR for EOS (49D: Canon shooter), and YUCK for NYUK (50D: Stooge syllable), and later WEST for ODOM (46A: Khloé Kardashian's married name) (wrong Kardashian), all made the bottom pretty tough—much tougher than the top.
Saw right through 1A: Family guy. Sadly, this meant that I wrote in MAFIOSO with great confidence. First two Downs checked out, so that resulted in a semi-sticky situation for a while. Knowing ADRIEN BRODY helped, though not remembering if he was an "A" ADRIAN or an "E" ADRIEN didn't … help, and really kept MOTLEY out of my reach until the very end (5D: Assorted). First certain answer in the grid was ALTON Brown (6D: TV foodie Brown)—I don't watch a lot of food-related TV, so I have no idea why his name stuck, but it did.
Thanks very much to treedweller and Puzzle Girl for blog coverage during my vacation. You may see them, and others, again during parts of July and August when I will be in NZ and CA, respectively.
Couple of notes:
- Peter Gordon is Kickstartering the "Fireball Fortnightly News Crossword" and his puzzles are never not good, so if you would like to add a hyper-timely, current events-related puzzle to your solving docket, you should get in on this. Information here.
- Buzzfeed did a little article on how irate a bunch of you are about the NYT's new crossword app. You can read the piece here. I'm quoted (warning: mild profanity).