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Triple-Decker Weekly, 108


The paper, by Winegard et al., opens with the following vignette: A bereaved wife every weekend walks one mile to place flowers on her deceased husband’s cemetery stone. Neither rain nor snow prevents her from making this trip, one she has been making for 2 years. However poignant the scene, and however high our temptation to exclude it from the cold logic of scientific scrutiny, it presents researchers with a perplexing puzzle that demands reflection. The deceased husband, despite all of his widow’s solicitude, cannot return to repay his wife’s devotion. Why waste time, energy, effort, resources—why, in other words, grieve for a social bond that can no longer compensate such dedication? […] Their explanation is that bearing these costs acts as a signal. Drawing on Costly Signaling Theory (CST), they argue that paying these costs sends signals to other people regarding one’s value as a social partner. […] These signals, then, are actually – and unknowingly – directed toward new potential mates who might now consider the individual attractive as a long-term mate based on the quality, costliness, and honesty of the display. [The Evolutionary Psychology Blog]

Flirting is a class of courtship signaling that conveys the signaler’s intentions and desirability to the intended receiver while minimizing the costs that would accompany an overt courtship attempt. […] Flirtation is marked by “mixed signals”: sidelong glances and indirect overtures. The human ethologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, synthesizing decades of comparative study of human social behavior, reported that flirtatious gestures and expressions are cross-culturally consistent. He found that partially obscured actions such as quick looks and coy giggles behind a hand were common elements of flirtation in cultures from pastoral Africa to urban Europe to Polynesia. “Turning toward a person and then turning away,” he wrote, “are typical elements of human flirting behavior.” That indirect flirtation is recognizable as its own category of signaling suggests it might require a separate functional explanation. What do courting humans gain by making some courtship signals oblique? Here we propose that the explanation for the subtlety of human courtship lies in the potential costs imposed by both intended and unintended receivers of courtship signals, either in the form of damage to social capital or of interference and intervention by third parties. […] Third parties constitute an additional source of potential courtship costs. […] “Interception” occurs when a third party detects a signal and procures some information from it, as when a predator uses a prey animal’s mating call to locate the caller. […] Among courting humans, the most straightforward interception costs involve physical violence related to jealousy: Courting someone who already has a partner or admirer can bring swift and direct consequences if one is observed by that rival. […] Signalers who skillfully assess and adjust to social context (i.e., good flirts) display their quality not through high-intensity displays that index physical prowess and condition, but through sensitive signal-to-context matching that indicates behavioral flexibility and social intelligence. [Evolutionary Psychology | PDF]

Couples sleep in sync when the wife is satisfied with their marriage

First direct evidence for human sex pheromones

Study: Women with creaky voices — also known as ‘vocal fry’ — deemed less hireable

Slight variations in how an individual face is viewed can lead people to develop significantly different first impressions of that individual

Research has suggested that the emotion of disgust and the recognition of the “disgust face” do not reliably emerge until later in ontogeny, at 5 years of age or after.

Fetus Uses Left Hand When Mother Is Stressed, Study

Vincent van Gogh’s 3-D printed ear on display in Germany

Scientists have found that replacing one of DNA’s four letters at a key spot in the genome shifts a particular gene’s activity and leads to fairer hair. Not only does the work provide a molecular basis for flaxen locks, but it also demonstrates how changes in segments of DNA that control genes, not just changes in genes themselves, are important to what an organism looks like. [Science]

Smokers with gene defect have one in four chance of developing lung cancer

Sperm size and shape in young men affected by cannabis use

Like salmon traveling upstream to spawn, sperm cells are extremely efficient at swimming against the current

Your Blood Type is a Lot More Complicated Than You Think

I understand by ‘God’ the perfect being, where a being is perfect just in case it has all perfections essentially and lacks all imperfections essentially. […] Given that there are good reasons for thinking that the premises of the Compossibility Argument (CA) are true, it seems to me we have a good reason to think that God’s existence is possible. Of course, this does not, by itself, allow us to conclude to the much more important thesis that God exists, and so the atheist can consistently admit God’s possibility and maintain her atheism. [C'Zar Bernstein/Academia]

The omnipotence paradox states that: If a being can perform any action, then it should be able to create a task which this being is unable to perform; hence, this being cannot perform all actions. Yet, on the other hand, if this being cannot create a task that it is unable to perform, then there exists something it cannot do. One version of the omnipotence paradox is the so-called paradox of the stone: “Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even he could not lift it?” If he could lift the rock, then it seems that the being would not have been omnipotent to begin with in that he would have been incapable of creating a heavy enough stone; if he could not lift the stone, then it seems that the being either would never have been omnipotent to begin with or would have ceased to be omnipotent upon his creation of the stone. The argument is medieval, dating at least to the 12th century, addressed by Averroës (1126–1198) and later by Thomas Aquinas. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (before 532) has a predecessor version of the paradox, asking whether it is possible for God to “deny himself”. [...] A common response from Christian philosophers, such as Norman Geisler or Richard Swinburne is that the paradox assumes a wrong definition of omnipotence. Omnipotence, they say, does not mean that God can do anything at all but, rather, that he can do anything that’s possible according to his nature. [Wikipedia]

Jesus and Virgin Mary spotted on Google Earth pic

Using a flash of light, scientists have inactivated and then reactivated a memory in genetically engineered rats

Philosophy can solve the mid-life crisis, at least in one of its forms [PDF]

10 Lazy Ways to Appear Smarter

A Hong Kong VC fund appointed an algorithm to its board of directors.

What does it mean when someone favorites your Tweet? Here are 25 possible answers

Do Rats Know When They Don’t Know?

Chimps Best Humans at Game Theory

In his groundbreaking research, Geoffrey Miller (1999) suggests that artistic and creative displays are male-predominant behaviors and can be considered to be the result of an evolutionary advantage. The outcomes of several surveys conducted on jazz and rock musicians, contemporary painters, English writers (Miller, 1999), and scientists (Kanazawa, 2000) seem to be consistent with the Millerian hypothesis, showing a predominance of men carrying out these activities, with an output peak corresponding to the most fertile male period and a progressive decline in late maturity. One way to evaluate the sex-related hypothesis of artistic and cultural displays, considered as sexual indicators of male fitness, is to focus on sexually dimorphic traits. One of them, within our species, is the 2nd to 4th digit length (2D:4D), which is a marker for prenatal testosterone levels. This study combines the Millerian theories on sexual dimorphism in cultural displays with the digit ratio, using it as an indicator of androgen exposure in utero. If androgenic levels are positively correlated with artistic exhibition, both female and male artists should show low 2D:4D ratios. In this experiment we tested the association between 2D:4D and artistic ability by comparing the digit ratios of 50 artists (25 men and 25 women) to the digit ratios of 50 non-artists (25 men and 25 women). Both male and female artists had significantly lower 2D:4D ratios (indicating high testosterone) than male and female controls. These results support the hypothesis that art may represent a sexually selected, typically masculine behavior that advertises the carrier’s good genes within a courtship context. [Evolutionary Psychology | PDF]

Previously/related: Contrary to decades of archaeological dogma, many of the first artists were women

Angus Fairhurst and Damien Hirst, A Couple of Cannibals Eating a Clown (I Should Coco) (1993)

As the 14th edition of the Venice Biennale of Architecture prepares to open, the pavilions of the Giardini might be the perfect venue for an analysis of the architectural manifestations of national identity. Here is a series of buildings each attempting to say something serious and legible about the nation that built them. They represent extremes of hubris, humility and hope. There are buildings here by the masters of modernism, Alvar Aalto, Carlo Scarpa, Gerrit Rietveld and Josef Hoffmann, and others by one-time names now so obscure that even historians struggle to recall them. Here is the 1938 German pavilion with its severe Nazi-era façade, the rather fey Russian pavilion designed by Aleksey Schusev, architect of the Lenin mausoleum. The British pavilion is an odd, feebly domed work by Edwin Rickards, an almost impossible space to show work in. There is the beautifully minimal Nordic pavilion by Sverre Fehn and the extraordinary maximal, green ceramic-clad Hungarian pavilion by Géza Maróti. Each pavilion tells us about the desire to express something of the national character – and the prevailing political aesthetic. And it is this idea – and what happened to it – that is at the heart of the theme set by this year’s curator, Rem Koolhaas. The question is posed through the juxtaposition of cities a century ago – with their distinctive, bustling streetscapes, busy with architectural detail – with shots of contemporary central business districts, the anonymous cityscapes of glass towers and urban freeways that could be Houston or Dubai, La Défense or Doha. The question Koolhaas poses is: How did this happen? How did these diverse cities absorb this idea of modernity in such a homogenous way, how did one type of architecture attain such hegemony? […] Koolhaas’s brilliant dissection of the meaning of the skyscraper in his 1975 book Delirious New York includes the insight that the elevator – which finally makes the long-dreamt-of skyscraper possible – also allows its expression to be disassociated from its structure. The endless extrusion no longer has any structural logic or rationale that can be expressed on the exterior; instead its architecture – its style – is now purely applied. Koolhaas extends this idea in his 2001 essay “Junkspace”, where he indicates that out-of-town locations, air-conditioning and the escalator have finally broken any notions of architectural responsibility to context and any ties between scale and architecture. “Architecture disappeared in the 20th century,” he wrote. [FT]

Wikipedia Mining Algorithm Reveals The Most Influential People In 35 Centuries Of Human History

University College London’s Nietzsche Club Is Banned

He says Hoefler exploited his talents and his intellectual property for years before ultimately refusing to put their agreement on paper, essentially telling him to fuck off.

I suspect we’ll see case law made in the next five years affirming that animated GIFs are fair use.

Though industrially important, 3D printing has turned out to be nowhere near as disruptive as once imagined, and certainly nothing like the PC. […] The one 3D-printing method to make it successfully into the home so far is “fused deposition modelling” (FDM). In this, the object of desire is constructed, layer by layer, by melting a plastic filament and coiling it into the shape required. As ingenious as FDM is, the “maker movement” is still waiting for its equivalent of the Commodore 64, a capable and affordable machine that helped pitchfork the hobbyist computer movement into widespread consumer acceptance. Another type of 3D printing, stereolithography, may yet challenge FDM for personal use. Stereolithography deposits thin layers of polymer which are then cured by laser or ultraviolet light. The technique was patented by Charles Hull in 1986, several years before Scott Crump patented FDM. These two inventors went on to found the two leading firms in the business today, 3D Systems and Stratasys. 3D Systems is bent on reducing the cost of stereolithography, so it, too, can appeal to the masses. […] At least three things prevent personal 3D printing from going mainstream. The first is that the printing process takes hours or even days to complete. If the desired object is a standard part, it is invariably quicker and cheaper to buy the equivalent injection moulding off the shelf. The second problem is poor quality. The printing materials, mostly polymers such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or polylactic acid, lack the mechanical strength needed for making parts sturdy enough to do a useful job. ABS has good impact resistance but it does not bear loads particularly well. PLA’s virtue is that it degrades naturally into lactic acid, a harmless substance. This makes it useful for printing things like hearing aids, teeth braces and medical implants. Neither plastic, though, is suitable for fabricating replacement parts for a lawnmower, a child’s bicycle or a vintage car, in which mechanical strength and rigidity are crucial. In all likelihood, things made for handy tasks around the home will need to be reasonably strong, and also require more precise dimensions than today’s desktop 3D printers can manage. Thus, the third problem—namely, the abysmal resolution of products made by popular 3D printers. Tolerances of at least two or three thousandths of an inch (a tenth of a millimetre or so), not tenths of an inch, are the minimum required for home-made parts that are to be interchangeable, or have a fit and finish necessary to work reliably with one another. Personal 3D printers will remain playthings until they can achieve such standards. One answer is to print with metals, or even carbon composites or ceramics, instead of plastics. Many 3D printers used in industry do precisely that. Industrial metal printers, for instance, use a process known as selective laser sintering (SLS), in which a powerful laser is fired into a bed of powdered metal to sinter particles together, layer upon layer, into the required outline, until the object is built up. A newer version of SLS, which uses an electron beam in a vacuum chamber, allows the sintering to be done at much lower temperatures. Unfortunately, SLS printers cost anything up to $125,000. It is going to take quite a while before the cost of printing metals (two orders of magnitude more expensive than printing plastics) becomes cheap enough for home use. [The Economist ]

Over the past year, I’ve spent a great deal of time trolling a variety of underground stores that sell “dumps” — street slang for stolen credit card data that buyers can use to counterfeit new cards and go shopping in big-box stores for high-dollar merchandise that can be resold quickly for cash. By way of explaining this bizarro world, this post takes the reader on a tour of a rather exclusive and professional dumps shop that caters to professional thieves, high-volume buyers and organized crime gangs. […] Like many other dumps shops, McDumpals recently began requiring potential new customers to pay a deposit (~$100) via Bitcoin before being allowed to view the goods for sale. Also typical of most card shops, this store’s home page features the latest news about new batches of stolen cards that have just been added, as well as price reductions on older batches of cards that are less reliable as instruments of fraud. […] People often ask if I worry about shopping online. These days, I worry more about shopping in main street stores. McDumpals is just one dumps shop, and it adds many new bases each week. There are dozens of card shops just like this one in the underground (some more exclusive than others), all selling bases [batches of cards] from unique, compromised merchants. [Krebs on Security]

NSA’s advice on passwords

The Reverse Yelp: Restaurants Can Now Review Customers, Too

Why English Eggs Are Way Different From American Ones

One of the Woolpack players defecated in the trophy, and pictures were taken on mobile phones before the cup was cleaned up and offered to the Bull players to drink from.

Your life in weeks

Proverbs are associated with older beliefs and attitudes, and so are seen as more politically conservative, and less relevant in our new changed world.

How words borrowed from different languages have influenced English throughout its history

Severed horse head pillow

Google Logo Update

‘Anti-Drone’ Burqa. $2,500.00 [Thanks Tim]

Triple-Decker Weekly, 107


Gelignite, or blasting gelatin, is a mixture of nitroglycerin, gun cotton, and a combustible substance like wood pulp. It resembles dynamite (also invented by Alfred Nobel) but can be conveniently molded into shape with the bare hands. The October 6, 1904 issue of Russian Doctor contained a dispatch about a young woman who “found a cartridge containing this substance in her husband’s trunk and ate it, taking the cartridge for a piece of confectionery.” Despite her husband’s fears, she neither exploded nor expired from the effects of the poison, as summarized in the New York Medical Journal six weeks later. [Improbable]

Paul Ingrisano, a pirate living in Brooklyn New York, filed a trademark under “Pi Productions” for a logo which consists of this freely available version of the pi symbol π from the Wikimedia website combined with a period (full stop). The conditions of the trademark specifically state that the trademark includes a period. The trademark was granted in January 2014 and Ingrisano has recently made trademark infringement claims against a massive range of pi-related designs on print-on-demand websites including Zazzle and Cafepress. Surprisingly, Zazzle accepted his claim and removed thousands of clothing products using this design. [ Jez Kemp]

Watermelon juice relieves post-exercise muscle soreness

If we split life into 5000 days units

Parenting Rewires the Male Brain

Neurochemical research has shown that the hormone released when people are in love is released in animals in the same intimate circumstances.

New research shows that people are more likely to pick a mate with similar DNA

They began to notice that the women’s attitudes about sex were also influenced by their families’ incomes

The Top Ten Worst Reasons to Stay Friends With Your Ex

Researchers found less gray matter in the brains of men who watched large amounts of sexually explicit material

Those parents at the park taking all those photos are actually paying less attention to the moment, she says, because they’re focused on the act of taking the photo. “Then they’ve got a thousand photos, and then they just dump the photos somewhere and don’t really look at them very much, ’cause it’s too difficult to tag them and organize them,” says Maryanne Garry, a psychology professor at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. […] Henkel, who researches human memory at Fairfield University in Connecticut, found what she called a “photo-taking impairment effect.” “The objects that they had taken photos of — they actually remembered fewer of them, and remembered fewer details about those objects. Like, how was this statue’s hands positioned, or what was this statue wearing on its head. They remembered fewer of the details if they took photos of them, rather than if they had just looked at them,” she says. Henkel says her students’ memories were impaired because relying on an external memory aid means you subconsciously count on the camera to remember the details for you. [NPR]

Child draws all over dad’s passport, dad gets stuck in South Korea

Closing roads can improve everyone’s commute time. You might want to shoot to miss in war. Game Theory Is Really Counterintuitive

It is just possible to discern some points beneath the heated rhetoric in which Patricia Churchland indulges. But none of these points is right. If you hold that “mental processes are actually processes in the brain,” to quote Churchland, then you are committed to the thesis that it is sufficient to understand the mind that one understands the brain, and not merely necessary. This is just the well-known “identity theory” of mind and brain: mental processes are identical to brain processes; and the identity of a with b entails the sufficiency of a for b. To hold the weaker thesis that knowledge of the brain is merely necessary for knowledge of the mind is consistent even with being a heavy-duty Cartesian dualist, since even such a dualist accepts that mind depends causally on brain. [ Patricia Churchland vs. Colin McGinn/NY Review of Books]

The best way to win an argument

Machines vs. Lawyers: As information technology advances, the legal profession faces a great disruption.

In a paper published in the journal Science, physicists reported that they were able to reliably teleport information between two quantum bits separated by three meters, or about 10 feet. Quantum teleportation is not the “Star Trek”-style movement of people or things; rather, it involves transferring so-called quantum information — in this case what is known as the spin state of an electron — from one place to another without moving the physical matter to which the information is attached. [ NY Times ]

An air conditioner, powered by fans

Collision Detection: Bees versus Fish

Traffic was so heavy in the 1870s that a ‘Cow Tunnel’ was built beneath Twelfth Avenue to serve as an underground passage.

When CitiBike was launched, the hope and expectation was that it would be profitable for its operator

A Starbucks frappuccino, containing 60 shots of espresso and topped with whipped cream, which took Andrew Chifari of Texas five days to consume

Physiology and neuroscience combine to explain Bruce Lee’s famous strike, the one-inch punch.

20% of Europeans have never used the internet

Time spent looking at screens spent each day by people in different countries


The Big Coloring Book of Vaginas

Triple-Decker Weekly, 106


The atomists held that there are two fundamentally different kinds of realities composing the natural world, atoms and void. […] In supposing that void exists, the atomists deliberately embraced an apparent contradiction, claiming that ‘what is not’ exists. [ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Scientists discover how to turn light into matter after 80-year quest. [ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

Families infuriated by ‘crass commercialism’ of 9/11 Museum gift shop

9/11 Memorial has banned soap, gum chewing, and a lot of other things

Man in his underwear steals NYC bread truck, makes deliveries

Personal judgments are swayed by group opinion, but only for 3 days

The brain systems that modulate “that loving feeling” are only just beginning to be understood, but neuroscience research is pointing more and more to the idea that the sensation of love relies on the same brain circuitry that goes awry in addiction. Love is a drug, basically — because only a drive as strong as an addiction could keep couples together through the stresses of parenting and keep parents tied to their kids. Research has found, for example, that people in love are similar to those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder — not only in terms of their obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior, but also the low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in their blood. So in a sense, love may be a special case of addiction. “The bottom line is that a lot of data on people rejected in love show that the major pathways linked with addiction become activated,” says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University. If love is a drug, however, love’s chemistry can be chemically manipulated — those who are in love but don’t want to be could potentially take a pill that simply makes the formerly loved one seem no more special than a stranger. [NY mag]

“Love hurts”—as the saying goes—and a certain amount of pain and difficulty in intimate relationships is unavoidable. Sometimes it may even be beneficial, since adversity can lead to personal growth, self-discovery, and a range of other components of a life well-lived. But other times, love can be downright dangerous. It may bind a spouse to her domestic abuser, draw an unscrupulous adult toward sexual involvement with a child, put someone under the insidious spell of a cult leader, and even inspire jealousy-fueled homicide. […] Modern neuroscience and emerging developments in psychopharmacology open up a range of possible interventions that might actually work. These developments raise profound moral questions about the potential uses—and misuses—of such anti-love biotechnology. In this article, we describe a number of prospective love-diminishing interventions, and offer a preliminary ethical framework for dealing with them responsibly should they arise. [ Taylor Francis Online]

There is no point faking it in bed because chances are your sexual partner will be able to tell. A study by researchers at the University of Waterloo found that men and women are equally perceptive of their partners’ levels of sexual satisfaction. […] Couples in a sexual relationship develop what psychologists call a sexual script, which forms guidelines for their sexual activity. “Over time, a couple will develop sexual routines,” said Fallis. “We believe that having the ability to accurately gauge each other’s sexual satisfaction will help partners to develop sexual scripts that they both enjoy. Specifically, being able to tell if their partners are sexually satisfied will help people decide whether to stick with a current routine or try something new.” [ University of Waterloo]

This paper studies gender differences in strategic situations. In two experimental guessing games – the beauty contest and the 11-20 money request game – we analyze the depth of strategic reasoning of women and men. We use unique data from an internet experiment with more than 1,000 participants. We find that men, on average, perform more steps of reasoning than women. Our results also suggest that women behave more consistently across both games. [SSRN]

How Males and Females Differ in Their Likelihood of Transmitting Negative Word of Mouth

Women’s use of red clothing as a sexual signal in intersexual interaction [PDF]

Mutations in a particular gene can cause indecision in flies

There was nothing special about Albert Einstein’s brain. Nothing that modern neuroscience can detect, anyway.

Ever-rising IQ scores suggest that future generations will make us seem like dimwits in comparison

A hormone associated with longevity also appears to make people’s brains work better.

A proven approach to slow the aging process is dietary restriction, but new research helps explain the action of a drug that appears to mimic that process — rapamycin.

Important peculiarities of the human memory system: A remarkable capacity for storing information is coupled with a highly fallible retrieval process; What is accessible in memory is highly dependent on the current environmental, interpersonal, emotional and body-state cues; Retrieving information from memory is a dynamic process that alters the subsequent state of the system; Access to competing memory representations regresses towards the earlier representation over time. [Robert Bjork]

Lori is among several hundred patients taking part in an experiment that gives them electronic access to therapy notes written by their psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in grapes, red wine, chocolate, and certain berries and roots, is considered to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects in humans and is related to longevity in some lower organisms. Objective: To determine whether resveratrol levels achieved with diet are associated with inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mortality in humans. Results: Resveratrol levels achieved with a Western diet did not have a substantial influence on health status and mortality risk of the population in this study. [JAMA]

Red wine may not be as good for you as hoped, say scientists who have studied the drink’s ingredient that is purported to confer good health. [ BBC]

When a tumor is exposed to chemo, it sends out “SOS” signals to the body. Seeing the tumor as part of itself, the body foolishly rushes to help – in some cases, allowing the tumor to regrow.

A Stanford researcher has discovered a way to charge devices deep within living bodies, potentially opening the gates to embedded sensors and “microimplants” that weren’t possible before.

New plastic surgery installs ‘internal bra’ under the skin for ‘firm, young-looking breasts’

How to Urinate in a Spacesuit

Researchers are a step closer to demonstrating that explosives – rather than water – could be used to extinguish an out-of-control bushfire. Dr Graham Doig, of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, is conducting the research, which extends a long-standing technique used to put out oil well fires. The process is not dissimilar to blowing out a candle: it relies on a blast of air to knock a flame off its fuel source. [University of New South Wales]

Plastic That Can Repair Itself

The discovery that proteins can act like switches is about to introduce an entirely a new kind of electronics

A startup aims to let you charge your gadgets without plugging them in.

1,730 cash machines in Poland are to be given ‘Finger Vein’ technology

Darkcoin, the Shadowy Cousin of Bitcoin, Is Booming

Forget ‘the Cloud’; ‘the Fog’ Is Tech’s Future

Shopping online: Why do too many photos confuse consumers?

While both tourism research and photography research have grown into substantial academic disciplines, little has been written about their point of intersection: tourist photography. In this paper, I argue that a number of philosophically oriented theories of photography may offer useful perspectives on tourist photography. […] When I was observing photographing tourists on the Pont Neuf and in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, one of the things that struck me was the fact that some tourists, when they came across a sculpture, first took a picture of it, and only started looking after the picture had been taken. Perhaps Sontag is right to argue that the production of pictures serves to appease the tourist’s anxiety about not working; in any case, this type of predatory photographic behavior promotes the accumulation of images to a goal in itself rather than a means to produce meaning or memories. [Dennis Schep/Depth of Field]

Time Inc. Starts Selling Ads on Magazine Covers, Breaking Industry Taboo

How Much Does It Cost to Book Your Favorite Band?

Fridge magnet research update: Why the fridge?

A Multiplayer Game Environment Is Actually a Dream Come True for an Economist

‘Zodiac’ The Film Vs The Real Zodiac Killer Case

‘Bring Out The Gimp’: The Man Behind The Mask In ‘Pulp Fiction’

Meek, who believes that Cyrus communicates with him through her songs…

There’s how you see yourself. And there’s how the rest of the world sees you.

Levi CEO’s jeans go unwashed for year; no ‘skin disease’ yet

A GIF of a Vine of a video of a Flipbook of a GIF of a video of a roller coaster.

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Triple-Decker Weekly, 105


Kidnapper sues hostages

Many gardeners and horticulturalists seek non-chemical methods to control populations of snails. It has frequently been reported that snails that are marked and removed from a garden are later found in the garden again. This phenomenon is often cited as evidence for a homing instinct. We report a systematic study of the snail population in a small suburban garden, in which large numbers of snails were marked and removed over a period of about 6 months. While many returned, inferring a homing instinct from this evidence requires statistical modelling. […] Maximum likelihood techniques infer the existence of two groups of snails in the garden: members of a larger population that show little affinity to the garden itself, and core members of a local garden population that regularly return to their home if removed. The data are strongly suggestive of a homing instinct, but also reveal that snail-throwing can work as a pest management strategy. [The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences | LA Times]

“Neuroreductionism” is the tendency to reduce complex mental phenomena to brain states, confusing correlation for physical causation. In this paper, we illustrate the dangers of this popular neuro-fallacy, by looking at an example drawn from the media: a story about “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” in women. We discuss the role of folk dualism in perpetuating such a confusion, and draw some conclusions about the role of “brain scans” in our understanding of romantic love. [Savulescu & Earp]

We investigate the possibility that a decision-maker prefers to avoid making a decision and instead delegates it to an external device, e.g., a coin flip. In a series of experiments the participants often choose lotteries between allocations, which contradicts most theories of choice such as expected utility but is consistent with a theory of responsibility aversion that implies a preference for randomness. A large data set on university applications in Germany shows a choice pattern that is also consistent with this theory and entails substantial allocative consequences. [ SSRN]

Nearly 1,800 U.S. law enforcement agencies have dropped the polygraph in favor of newer computer voice stress analyzer (CVSA) technology

Procrastination is a common phenomenon — but new research suggests that “pre-crastination,” hurrying to complete a task as soon as possible, may also be common.

The impact of stress on brain function is increasingly recognized. Various substances are released in response to stress and can influence distinct neuronal circuits, but the functional advantages of having such a diversity of stress mediators remain unclear.

Your brain processes more thoughts and feelings during meditation than when you are simply relaxing.

We found evidence of the cheerleader effect—people seem more attractive in a group than in isolation.

Science fact and fiction behind fat loss (Part 2)

Why Dieting Does Not Usually Work

The Case for Junk DNA

Collapse of Antarctic ice sheet is underway and unstoppable but will take centuries

What Caused a 1300-Year Deep Freeze?

Jellyfish are the most energy efficient swimmers, new metric confirms

Yes, Your Internet Is Getting Slower

The highest European Union court decided on Tuesday that Google must, in some cases, grant users a so-called right to be forgotten that includes the removal of links to embarrassing legal records. [NY Times]

Research in India suggests Google search results can influence an election and Biased search rankings alter the voting preferences of undecided voters

Relying on a GPS device placed in a decoy pill bottle, police officers tracked an armed man suspected of robbing a pharmacy on Friday afternoon and fatally shot him during a confrontation on the Upper East Side [NY Times]

The Mathematics Of Murder: Should A Robot Sacrifice Your Life To Save Two?

The Robot Car of Tomorrow May Just Be Programmed to Hit You

Square is the latest example of a struggling industry segment that may never take off. Mobile Wallets Are Doomed

The Curious Case of the $2 Bill

The leaked New York Times innovation report is one of the key documents of this media age

Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood: Writing the Script for Gay Liberation

Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and Bryant Park used to be cemeteries. There are 20,000 bodies buried in Washington Square Park alone. Central Park is larger than the principality of Monaco. It takes 75,000 trees to print a Sunday edition of the New York Times. 41 random facts about New York

Nazarian’s team at Hyde at the Bellagio has put together the “$250,000 Package,” which comes with a 30-liter bottle of Armand de Brignac “Ace of Spades” Champagne and the privilege of flipping the switch to turn on the casino’s famous musical fountains.

A train passenger who was showered in human excrement while using a broken train toilet was offered an umbrella as ‘compensation’.

Millionaire playboy and Instagram celebrity Dan Bilzerian is best known of late for chucking a 90-pound porn star, Janice Griffith, off his mansion roof during a shoot for Hustler, and missing the pool. Griffith is now threatening to sue Bilzerian.

For those of you looking for some problems and puzzles to brood over

Forget the 3D Printer: 4D Printing Could Change Everything

Beauty micrometer

It consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun.

Strip box

Triple-Decker Weekly, 104


You don’t always know what you’re saying. People’s conscious awareness of their speech often comes after they’ve spoken, not before.

People can only recognize two faces in a crowd at a time – even if the faces belong to famous people.

We investigate why people keep their promises in the absence of external enforcement mechanisms and reputational effects.

It was only a few decades ago that incision and suction were recommended snakebite first aid. However, concerns arose about injuries and infections caused when laypersons made incisions across fang marks and applied mouth suction. Meanwhile, several snakebite suction devices (eg, Cutter’s Snakebite Kit, Venom Ex) were evaluated, and it was determined that they were neither safe nor effective. So, recommendations changed, and mechanical suction without incision was advocated instead. It seemed intuitive that suction alone would probably remove venom and should not cause harm. However, when the techniques were studied rigorously, quite the opposite was discovered. One of the most popular suction devices, the Sawyer Extractor pump (Sawyer Products, Safety Harbor, FL), operates by applying approximately 1 atm of negative pressure directly over a fang puncture wound (or wounds) without making incisions. […] Although each of these 3 studies was done independently of each other and using different methodology, they arrive at the same conclusion: the Extractor does not work, and it could make things worse. [Annals of Emergency Medecine | PDF]

Cutting, a professor at Cornell University, wondered if a psychological mechanism known as the “mere-exposure effect” played a role in deciding which paintings rise to the top of the cultural league. In a seminal 1968 experiment, people were shown a series of abstract shapes in rapid succession. Some shapes were repeated, but because they came and went so fast, the subjects didn’t notice. When asked which of these random shapes they found most pleasing, they chose ones that, unbeknown to them, had come around more than once. Even unconscious familiarity bred affection. […] The process described by Cutting evokes a principle that the sociologist Duncan Watts calls “cumulative advantage”: once a thing becomes popular, it will tend to become more popular still. [Intelligent Life]

The CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years. [Thanks Tim]

Artist who tied a live rooster to his penis found guilty of exhibitionism

Brain Injury Turns Man Into Math Genius

Can you tell a person’s gender by their video game avatar? According to a new study, a male gamer who chooses to play as a female character will still display signs of his true gender.

Difference between how men and women choose their partners

What makes women attractive depends on how healthy the place they live is

Have you ever found someone particularly sexy without knowing why? It could be that you are lured in by their pheromones, invisible chemical signals that can subtly alter a person’s mood, mindset, or behavior. According to new research published last week in Current Biology, men and women give off different signals, but you subconsciously only respond to the gender you find attractive. And when you smell these pheromones, the object of your affection instantly appears even sexier in your mind.[ Popular Science]

This study investigated whether swearing affects cold-pressor pain tolerance (the ability to withstand immersing the hand in icy water), pain perception and heart rate. […] Swearing increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate and decreased perceived pain compared with not swearing. [Neuroreport]

Previously we showed that swearing produces a pain lessening (hypoalgesic) effect for many people. This paper assesses whether habituation to swearing occurs such that people who swear more frequently in daily life show a lesser pain tolerance effect of swearing, compared with people who swear less frequently.[…] The higher the daily swearing frequency, the less was the benefit for pain tolerance when swearing, compared with when not swearing. This paper shows apparent habituation related to daily swearing frequency, consistent with our theory that the underlying mechanism by which swearing increases pain tolerance is the provocation of an emotional response.[American Pain Society]

What doesn’t kill you may make you live longer: McGill research finds unexpected link between cell suicide and longevity

What does not kill me makes me stronger: Study suggests improved survivorship in the aftermath of the medieval Black Death)

A helmet that delivers electro-magnetic impulses to the brain has shown promise in treating people with depression

Lack of sleep not only makes you ugly and sick, it also makes you dumb

2.2 million Americans are diagnosed with certain types of skin cancer annually, up more than 50% in the past decade

Antibiotic resistance is now rife across the entire globe

Researchers have known for decades that the eye does much more than just detect light. The dense patch of neurons in the retina also processes basic features of a scene before sending the information to the brain. For example, in 1964, scientists showed that some neurons in the retina fire up only in response to motion. What’s more, these “space-time” detectors have so-called direction selectivity, each one sensitive to objects moving in different directions. But exactly how that processing happens in the retina has remained a mystery. […] Although researchers have imaged the retina microscopically in ultrathin sections, no computer algorithm has been able to accurately trace out the borders of all the neurons to map the circuitry. […] Enter the EyeWire project, an online game that recruits volunteers to map out those cellular contours within a mouse’s retina. [Science]

Two teams of scientists published studies on Sunday showing that blood from young mice reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains. [NY Times | Nature]

Birth of new brain cells might erase babies’ memories

“It’s simple, the less stress you have the better your memory.” The facial expression that fights memory loss

Biologists Create Cells With 6 DNA Letters, Instead of Just 4

Controlling fear by modifying DNA

Scientists have discovered a single gene that can boost a person’s IQ by about six points

The US National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) said the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) had so many problems we effectively need to tear it up and start again. The way forward, it said, is a new research programme to discover the brain problems that underlie mental illnesses. That research is now taking off. The first milestone came earlier this year, when the NIMH published a list of 23 core brain functions and their associated neural circuitry, neurotransmitters and genes – and the behaviours and emotions that go with them (see “The mind’s 23 building blocks”). Within weeks, the first drug trials conceived and funded through this new programme will begin. [ NewScientist]

The true story of Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient.

How 10 Minutes of Mild Exercise Gives Your Brain a Boost

A study that was published a few years ago in Nature suggests that indeed our initial inclination is to cooperate with others. We are only selfish if we are allowed to reflect.

Arguing Too Much Increases Premature Death Risk: Study

What’s the evidence on using rational argument to change people’s minds?

The various theories of consciousness can arguably be grouped into five categories: materialism, dualism, panpsychism, neutral monism, and idealism. As noted above, the current mainstream view looks for materialistic explanations. This typically takes the form of arguing that consciousness must be a higher level activity that has emerged from lower level processes, such as complex biological processes. […] After a brief survey of the evidence, I conclude that the best explanation would probably be neutral monism. I then explore a framework for neutral monism, using well-known features of quantum mechanics, to develop a ground or bridge between consciousness and matter. [The Journal of Mind and Behavior | PDF]

What if someone had already figured out the answers to the world’s most pressing policy problems, but those solutions were buried deep in a PDF, somewhere nobody will ever read them? According to a recent report by the World Bank, that scenario is not so far-fetched. The bank is one of those high-minded organizations — Washington is full of them — that release hundreds, maybe thousands, of reports a year on policy issues big and small. Many of these reports are long and highly technical, and just about all of them get released to the world as a PDF report posted to the organization’s Web site. […] They dug into their Web site traffic data and came to the following conclusions: Nearly one-third of their PDF reports had never been downloaded, not even once. Another 40 percent of their reports had been downloaded fewer than 100 times. Only 13 percent had seen more than 250 downloads in their lifetimes. […] And let’s not even get started on the situation in academia, where the country’s best and brightest compete for the honor of seeing their life’s work locked away behind some publisher’s paywall. [Washington Post]

If Nietzsche claims that all our knowledge is from a particular perspective, then his claims about perspectives and his theory of perspectivism must itself be from a particular perspective. [Michael Lacewing | PDF]

The Pocket Guide to Bullshit Prevention

Spritz, the materials claim, “reimagines” and “reinvents” reading

Microprocessors configured more like brains than traditional chips could soon make computers far more astute about what’s going on around them.

You might not realize it, but every time you order dinner digitally, you subconsciously order more

How do you price a bottle of milkshake?

Silicon Valley investors and startups are trying to improve our food.

A startup is seeking approval to sell powderized alcohol

Taking a photo against a white background? Amazon owns the patent on that

Transform any text into a patent application

Anti-Surveillance Mask Lets You Pass As Someone Else

Behind the scenes of the NY redesign That includes using Github instead of SVN for version control, Vagrant environments, Puppet deployment, using requireJS so five different versions of jQuery don’t get loaded, proper build/test frameworks, command-line tools for generating sprites, the use of LESS with a huge set of mixins, a custom grid framework, etc. [Source]

Brooklyn is getting poorer

He said he was hired with a mandate to clean up the building, which meant “trying to get all those people who were involved with drugs out.” Duarte began by winning the residents’ trust, which he did by hiring the most destructive young male tenants to work for him.

How NYC’s gay bars thrived because of the mob

Video Reveals 140 Years Of Change At Specific NYC Locations

10 Most Stressed Out Cities In America

Firms almost never have enough data to justify their belief that ads work

Why Don’t We Eat Swans Anymore?

Why were old scientific instruments put together with an apparent wish to make them beautiful, and not just coldly functional? First, there is obviously a selection effect at work here of the kind that all historians and curators are familiar with. What tends to get preserved is not a representative cross-section of what is around at any time, but rather, what is deemed to be worth preserving. Second, there were of course no specialized scientific-instrument manufacturers in the early modern period. When investigators like Galileo and Boyle wanted something made that they could not make themselves, they would go to metalsmiths, carpenters, potters and the like, who inevitably would have brought their own craft aesthetic to the objects they made [Third,] they were catering to a particular clientele that their products reflected. Reeve was making microscopes and so forth for the wealthy dilettantes. […] Scientific instruments were used to delight and entertain their noble patrons. [Philip Ball]

Boxes for rocks

Dear Leader Tongue Scraper

Woman tattoos herself with her own selfie