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Shines Like Gold
By imp kerr
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Triple-Decker Weekly, 96

tdw96

‘Too drunk’ gambler sues Las Vegas casino over $500,000 debt

Tips for Working From Home […] 1. Have a Backup Plan [WSJ]

We must realize that if Pop Art depersonalized, it does not make anonymous: nothing is more identifiable than Marilyn, the electric chair, a tire, or a dress, as seen by Pop Art; they are in fact nothing but that: immediately and exhaustively identifiable, thereby teaching us that identify is not the person: the future world risks being a world of identities, but not of persons. [Roland Barthes, Cette vieille chose, l'art, 1980]

Two fields stand out as different within cognitive psychology. These are the study of reasoning, especially deductive reasoning and statistical inference, and the more broadly defined field of decision making. For simplicity I label these topics as the study of reasoning and decision making (RDM). What make RDM different from all other fields of cognitive psychology is that psychologists constantly argued with each other and with philosophers about whether the behavior of their participants is rational. The question I address here is why? What is so different about RDM that it attracts the interests of philosophers and compulsively engages experimental psychologists in judgments of how good or bad is the RDM they observe. Let us first consider the nature of cognitive psychology in general. It is branch of cognitive science, concerned with the empirical and theoretical study of cognitive processes in humans. It covers a wide collection of processes connected with perception, attention, memory, language, and thinking. However, only in the RDM subset of the psychology of thinking is rationality an issue. For sure, accuracy measures are used throughout cognitive psychology. We can measure whether participants detect faint signals, make accurate judgments of distances, recall words read to them correctly and so on. The study of non-veridical functions is also a part of wider cognitive psychology, for example the study of visual illusions, memory lapses, and cognitive failures in normal people as well as various pathological conditions linked to brain damage, such as aphasia. But in none of these cases are inaccurate responses regarded as irrational. Visual illusions are attributed to normally adaptive cognitive mechanisms that can be tricked under special circumstances; memory errors reflect limited capacity systems and pathological cognition to brain damage or clinical disorders. In no case is the person held responsible and denounced as irrational. [Frontiers]

It’s a con­cept that had become uni­ver­sally under­stood: humans expe­ri­ence six basic emotions—happiness, sad­ness, anger, fear, dis­gust, and surprise—and use the same set of facial move­ments to express them. What’s more, we can rec­og­nize emo­tions on another’s face, whether that person hails from Boston or Borneo. The only problem with this con­cept, according to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Lisa Feldman Bar­rett, is that it isn’t true at all. [Northeastern University]

“Saying there are differences in male and female brains is just not true. There is pretty compelling evidence that any differences are tiny and are the result of environment not biology,” said Prof Rippon. “You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girls brain, or that’s a boys brain’ in the same way you can with the skeleton. They look the same.” […] A women’s brain may therefore become ‘wired’ for multi-tasking simply because society expects that of her and so she uses that part of her brain more often. The brain adapts in the same way as a muscle gets larger with extra use. [Telegraph]

Both men and women erred in estimating what the opposite sex would find attractive. Men thought women would like a heavier stature than females reported they like, and women thought men would like women thinner than men reported they like. Results suggest that, overall, men’s perceptions serve to keep them satisfied with their figures, whereas women’s perceptions place pressure on them to lose weight. [APA/PsycNET]

Men want sex more than women do. (While I am sure that you can think of people who don’t fit this pattern, my colleagues and I have arrived at this conclusion after reviewing hundreds of findings. It is, on average, a very robust finding.) This difference is due in part to the fact that men, compared to women, focus on the rewards of sex. Women tend to focus on its costs because having sex presents them with bigger potential downsides, from physical (the toll of bearing a child) to social (stigma). Accordingly, the average man’s sexual system gets activated fairly easily. When it does, it trips off a whole system in the brain focused on rewards. In fact, merely seeing a bra can propel men into reward mode, seeking immediate satisfaction in their decisions. Most of the evidence suggests that women are different, that a sexy object would not cause them to shift into reward mode. This goes back to the notion that sex is rife with potential costs for women. Yet, at a basic biological level, the sexual system is directly tied to the reward system (through pleasure-giving dopaminergic reactions). This would seem to suggest a contrasting hypothesis that perhaps women will also shift into reward mode when their sexual system is activated. […] Women, more than men, connect sex to emotions. Festjens and colleagues therefore used a subtle, emotional cue to initiate sexual motivation – touch. Across three experiments, Festjens and colleagues found that women who touched sexy male clothing items, compared to nonsexual clothing items, showed evidence of being in reward mode. [Scientific American]

“If a stranger came up to a woman, grabbed her around the waist, and rubbed his groin against her in a university cafeteria or on a subway, she’d probably call the police. In the bar, the woman just tries to get away from him.” [...] “The current study was part of an evaluation of the Safer Bars program, a program we developed to reduce aggression in bars, primarily male-to-male aggression,” said Graham. “However, when we saw how much sexual aggression there was, we decided to conduct additional analyses. So these analyses of sexual aggression were in response to how much we observed – which was considerably more than we were expecting.” [ScienceNewsline]

fMRI studies show that the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. [Psychology Today | Thanks Tim ]

Strangers with easier-to-pronounce monikers are deemed more trustworthy

“exposure to an unstructured, uniform stimulation field, elicits in most observers pseudo-hallucinatory percepts” Hallucinating without drugs, the profundity of silence, and the thalamocortical circuit

Instead quantum physics only offers probabilistic predictions: it can tell you that your quantum particle will behave in one way with a particular probability, but it could also behave in another way with another particular probability. “Suppose there’s this little particle and you’re going to put it in a magnetic field and it’s going to come out at A or come out at B,” says Conway, imagining an experiment, such as the Stern Gerlach experiment, where a magnetic field diverts an electron’s path. “Even if you knew exactly where the particles were and what the magnetic fields were and so on, you could only predict the probabilities. A particle could go along path A or path B, with perhaps 2/3 probability it will arrive at A and 1/3 at B. And if you don’t believe me then you could repeat the experiment 1000 times and you’ll find that 669 times, say, it will be at A and 331 times it will be at B.” [The Free Will Theorem, Part I | Part II | Part III]

The simplest type of human communication is non verbal signals: things like posture, facial expression, gestures, tone of voice. They are in effect contagious: if you are sad, I will feel a little sad, if I then cheer up, you may too. The signals are indications of emotional states and we tend to react to another’s emotional state by a sort of mimicry that puts us in sync with them. We can carry on a type of emotional conversation in this way. Music appears to use this emotional communication – it causes emotions in us without any accompanying semantic messages. It appears to cause that contagion with three aspects: the rhythmic rate, the sound envelope and the timbre of the sound. For example a happy musical message has a fairly fast rhythm, flat loudness envelop with sharp ends, lots of pitch variation and a simple timbre with few harmonics. Language seems to use the same system for emotion, or at least some emotion. The same rhythm, sound envelope and timbre is used in the delivery of oral language and it carries the same emotional signals. Whether it is music or language, this sound specification cuts right past the semantic and cognitive processes and goes straight to the emotional ones. Language seems to share these emotional signals with music but not the semantic meaning that language contains. [Neuro-patch]

Our brains show more activity in their emotional regions when the music we are listening to is familiar, regardless of whether or not we actually like it. [Aeon]

Young Musicians Reap Long-Term Neuro Benefits

Wealthier people are more musical, research

5% of people have “no real response to music,” study

By Licking These Electric Ice Cream Cones, You Can Make Music

The 14 synthesizers that shaped modern music

These Are the “Most Hipster” Bands, According to Science

Origins of Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” cover

LCD Soundsystem James Murphy wants to to change the sound of the New York City subway turnstiles. He has worked out a unique set of notes for every station, one of which would sound each time a passenger swipes his or her MetroCard.

Although many attempts have been made, it took until 2003 for the vortex ring scent canon to be developed.

When a coin falls in water, its trajectory is one of four types determined by its dimensionless moment of inertia I∗ and Reynolds number Re: (A) steady; (B) fluttering; (C) chaotic; or (D) tumbling. The dynamics induced by the interaction of the water with the surface of the coin, however, makes the exact landing site difficult to predict a priori. Here, we describe a carefully designed experiment in which a coin is dropped repeatedly in water to determine the probability density functions (pdf) associated with the landing positions for each of the four trajectory types, all of which are radially symmetric about the centre drop-line. [arXiv | PDF]

Americans use twice as much water as they think they do, study says

Chefs have been using the sensation of chillies and other peppers to spice up their culinary experiments for centuries. But it is only in the last decade or so that scientists have begun to understand how we taste piquant foods. Now they have found the mechanism that not only explains the heat of chillies and wasabi, but also the soothing cooling of flavours like menthol. The implications of this discovery extend far beyond cuisine. The same mechanisms build the body’s internal thermometer, and some animals even use them to see in the dark. Understand these pathways, and the humble chilli may open new avenues of research for conditions as diverse as chronic pain, obesity and cancer. [NewScientist ]

Most recently, he tested how two different diets affected flatulence.

First LSD tests in decades show terminal patients gained valuable and lasting insights

Want to remember something? Have some coffee.

Doctors’ Stethoscopes Can Transmit Bacteria As Easily As Unwashed Hands

NY Will Use Birth Control To Wipe Out Mute Swans Instead Of Executing Them

How many healthy animals do zoos put down?

Changing the color of rope used in lobster gear could prevent deadly whale entanglements, researcher says

3 Minutes of Tetris Reduces Cravings for Drink, Cigarettes and Food

…bottles of ChlorOxygen chlorophyll concentrate, which “builds better blood.” Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience

Science can predict if a seemingly healthy person will die on the short term, based on 4 biomarkers

At Kean University, students are dying (as it were) to get into Norma Bowe’s class “Death in Perspective,” which has sometimes carried a three-year waiting list. On one one field trip to a local coroner’s office, Dr. Bowe’s students were shown three naked cadavers on metal tables. One person had died from a gunshot, the other from suicide and the third by drowning. […] Every semester, students also leave the campus in Union, New Jersey, to visit a cemetery, a maximum-security prison (to meet murderers), a hospice, a crematory and a funeral home, where they pick out caskets for themselves. The homework is also unusual: Students are required to write goodbye letters to dead loved ones and to compose their own eulogies and wills. [WSJ]

Man Wakes up in Body Bag at Funeral Home

A startup called The Dating Ring wants to fly New York women “in dateable ages” to San Francisco to service the Bay Area’s soldiers of code.

For a donation of $20, NYC women win the chance to be selected for a free flight to SF. Donations of $1,250 guarantee the full package: a flight to SF, housing for four nights, three dates, two parties, and three private 30-minute matchmaking and date-coaching sessions via Skype. [Bloomberg]

How a Hacker Intercepted FBI and Secret Service Calls With Google Maps

California court says drivers can read maps on their phones

Inventor Has Waited 43-Years For Patent Approval

Finally, an app that lets you rent out your toilet

A “web-enabled” toothbrush collects dental data while it cleans your teeth

There are currently 8 sunken nuclear submarines around the world. They all contain a nuclear reactor in various states of damage or decay.

How a 40% decrease in X can be a 6% increase in non-X

Ultracrepidarian (n):”Somebody who gives opinions on subjects they know nothing about.” / Groke (v): “To gaze at somebody while they’re eating in the hope that they’ll give you some of their food.” My dog constantly grokes at me longingly while I eat dinner. [BI]

Toy Story: The True Identity of Andy’s Mom

Clifford Michael Irving (born November 5, 1930) is best known for a fake “autobiography” of Howard Hughes in the early 1970s.

13 Dive Bars In NYC

Scotland, one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom (along with England, Northern Ireland, and Wales), will hold a referendum on independence this September. If it succeeds, Britain’s iconic flag may need a makeover.

During the chase, Nakamoto was seen throwing bitcoins out the window to deter his pursuers

Women arrested for defying a Chicago edict banning abbreviated bathing suits on beaches, 1922

I’m just tanning

Triple-Decker Weekly, 95

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California Barbie fan is undergoing hypnotherapy in hopes that it will lower her IQ

Sword swallowing and its side effects

We are more likely to perform a task when we receive the request in our right ear rather than our left.

New research shows the way a room is lit can affect the way you make decisions

Scientists turn off pain using nothing but light

In two studies, we examine the effect of manipulating the position of different foods on a restaurant menu. Items placed at the beginning or the end of the list of their category options were up to twice as popular as when they were placed in the center of the list. Given this effect, placing healthier menu items at the top or bottom of item lists and less healthy ones in their center (e.g., sugared drinks vs. calorie-free drinks) should result in some increase in favor of healthier food choices. [Judgment and Decision Making]

Fake Pub Studies Drinking Habits

This work explored the potential negative consequences of unexpected help. A behavioral observation and a survey study found that men are unlikely to have the door held open for them in a chivalrous manner, whereby they walk through the door before the person helping them does. In an experimental field study, passersby were randomly assigned to experience this type of door-holding help or not. Males who had the door held for them in this manner by a male confederate reported lower self-esteem and self-efficacy than males who did not have the door held for them. Females were unaffected by door-holding condition. These results demonstrate negative consequences of seemingly innocuous but unexpected helping behavior that violates gender norms. [Social Influence | via Improbable ]

People who appear popular may actually be withdrawn and sad, new study claims.

Analyzing selfies worldwide (gender proportions, average head tilt angles…)

British internet users share more than 3.8 million cat photos and videos every day, compared to 1.4 million selfies.

Snake-Handling Pastor Dies From Snake Bite

To answer the seemingly simple question “Have I been here before?” we must use our memories of previous experiences to determine if our current location is familiar or novel. In a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience researchers have identified a region of the hippocampus, called CA2, which is sensitive to even small changes in a familiar context. The results provide the first clue to the contributions of CA2 to memory and may help shed light on why this area is often found to be abnormal in the schizophrenic brain. [Function Space]

“At Starbucks I order under the name Godot. Then leave.”

Almost half of all disturbing dreams contain primary emotions other than fear, study finds […] The research also found that men and women tend to have different dreams. Men were “significantly” more likely to report themes involving disaster or calamity as well as insects while women’s dreams were more likely to feature interpersonal conflicts. [Telegraph]

By mapping the links between themes that appear in dreams, network scientists reveal the connections between dreams in different cultures for the first time

[W]e should not be surprised by coincidences. In fact, we should expect coincidences to happen. One of the key strands of the principle is the law of truly large numbers. This law says that given enough opportunities, we should expect a specified event to happen, no matter how unlikely it may be at each opportunity. Sometimes, though, when there are really many opportunities, it can look as if there are only relatively few. This misperception leads us to grossly underestimate the probability of an event: we think something is incredibly unlikely, when it’s actually very likely, perhaps almost certain. [Scientific American]

In this study, we tested the hypothesis that a nonhuman sexual stimulus would elicit a genital response in women but not in men. Eighteen heterosexual women and 18 heterosexual men viewed seven sexual film stimuli, six human films and one nonhuman primate film, while measurements of genital and subjective sexual arousal were recorded. Women showed small increases in genital arousal to the nonhuman stimulus and large increases in genital arousal to both human male and female stimuli. Men did not show any genital arousal to the nonhuman stimulus and demonstrated a category-specific pattern of arousal to the human stimuli that corresponded to their stated sexual orientation. [Biological Psychology]

The mathematical theory introduced in this paper unveils an underlying mechanism that may explain the deterioration and disruption occurring massively in sentimental relationships that were initially planned to last forever. Two forces work together to ease the appearance of the deterioration process. First, it happens that since an extra effort must always be put in to sustain a relationship on the successful path, partners may relax and lower the effort level if the gap is uncomfortable. Then instability enters the scene, driving the feeling-effort state out of the lasting successful dynamics. [...] Lasting relationships are possible only if the effort gap is tolerable and the optimal effort making is continuously watched over to stay on the target dynamics. [PLoS]

[a]mong the married couples, a higher discrepancy between men’s and women’s number of previous intercourse partners was related to lower levels of love, satisfaction, and commitment in the relationship. [The Journal of Sex Research]

“Penis captivus” or can couples really get stuck together during sex?

Several results support our two predictions that 1) early stage, intense romantic love is associated with subcortical reward regions that are also dopamine-rich (e.g., Fisher 1998) and 2) romantic love engages a motivation system involving neural systems associated with motivation to acquire a reward rather than romantic love being a particular emotion in its own right (Aron and Aron 1991). [Journal of Neurophysiology]

Homophobia Takes Years Off of Your Life, Study

Today, credit cards are on supersale. Pageler says that means a big breach just happened. Strangely, platinum credit cards on the site are selling for less money than gold cards. [...] The bots send out emails, and between 5 percent and 10 percent of recipients open the attachment, which lets the crooks in. [NPR]

Bitcoin itself may not flourish as a currency, but the underlying technology is beginning to suggest valuable new applications. […] For example, Namecoin is a system used to create and exchange domain names: the coins contain information about the domain names themselves. Recall that the domain name market has about $3 billion in revenue per year: it’s a good example of a weird, scarce digital resource. And Bitmessage is a Bitcoin-inspired messaging platform that allows for anonymous (or at least pseudonymous) communication. What Namecoin and Bitmessage share is that they allow data to be added to the transaction, making the exchange one not just of perceived value but also of information. Or take digital art. Larry Smith, a partner at the business architecture consultancy The matix and an analyst with long experience in digital advertising and digital finance, asks us to “imagine digital items that can’t be reproduced.” If we attached a coin identifier to a digital image, Smith says, “we could now call that a unique, one-of-a-kind digital entity.” Media on the Internet—where unlimited copying and sharing has become a scourge to rights holders—would suddenly be provably unique, permanently identified, and attached to an unambiguous monetary value. [Technology Review]

Author profiling is a problem of growing importance in applications in forensics, security, and marketing. E.g., from a forensic linguistics perspective one would like being able to know the linguistic profile of the author of a harassing text message (language used by a certain type of people) and identify certain characteristics. Similarly, from a marketing viewpoint, companies may be interested in knowing, on the basis of the analysis of blogs and online product reviews, the demographics of people that like or dislike their products. The focus is on author profiling in social media since we are mainly interested in everyday language and how it reflects basic social and personality processes. [PAN]

German Hackers Are Building a DIY Space Program to Put Their Own Uncensored Internet into Space

“At a distance of 20 feet, they were clearly seeing what someone with normal vision could see at no farther than 7.5 feet away.” App Trains You to See Farther

A New Tool That Seals Bullet Wounds in Seconds With High-Tech Sponges

China accounts for 27% of global cancer deaths

Home made cigarettes are more addictive than the factory-rolled ones, study.

The husband and wife team behind the handmade cosmetics company Lush – which this week won a high court battle against Amazon over its use of the word “lush” to sell rival cosmetics – has trademarked the name “Christopher North” as a brand name for a new range of toiletries, which could eventually extend to deodorants and hair removing cream. North is the managing director of Amazon.co.uk. [Guardian]

Skadden is the second largest law firm in the world in revenue. Forbes magazine called it “Wall Street’s most powerful law firm,” and it has been named as America’s best Corporate Law firm every year since 2001.

What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society And: The full Kappa Beta Phi member list

Challenging the conventional wisdom, the most expensive fares typically appear when purchased far in advance of a flight.

Toyota to debut wireless charging for 2016 model

If electric cars become popular quickly, the demand for charging them is likely to exceed supply

Does snow make a city cleaner?

4 Russian Travel Tips for Visiting America

Edgar Allan Poe, Interior Design Critic

Proust’s and Deleuze’s takes on enigmatic messages.

Instances of fuck before the fifteenth century are rare. On the origin of Fuck

New breakthrough over the Voynich Manuscript: Professor says he has deciphered 10 words, which could lead to more discoveries.

Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation [PDF]

Economists finally test prisoner’s dilemma on prisoners

The quality of work has plummeted to such a low point in the digital advertising and marketing industry that I feel like a fucking Creative God, when in reality I am just an above-average copywriter.

Rat-infested NYC restaurants [map]

Map of dirty NYC supermarkets

Part Of Sixth Avenue Shut Down Due To Electrified Doorknobs & Grates

200-year-old douche discovered under NYC city hall

Keith Haring foundation sued by art collectors claiming loss of $40M after ‘counterfeit’ label [via gettingsome]

Two works created by Banksy in New York City last fall fail to net minimum bid at auction [via gettingsome]

Cleaning woman mistakenly throws away contemporary artworks

Sue Austin’s underwater acrobatics using a self-propelled wheelchair

Triple-Decker Weekly, 94

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Teen dressed as banana, carrying AK-47, detained by police

Even fact will not change first impressions

It was about a study by Dean Snow reporting that, contrary to decades of archaeological dogma, many of the first artists were women. […] Another group of researchers is claiming the study’s methods were unsound. […] Snow’s study focused on the famous 12,000- to 40,000-year-old handprints found on cave walls in France and Spain. Because these hands generally appear near pictures of bison and other big game, scholars had long believed that the art was made by male hunters. Snow tested that notion by comparing the relative lengths of fingers in the handprints […] because among modern people, women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men’s ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers. […] Snow developed an algorithm that could predict the sex of a given handprint. […] The new study, published Monday in the Journal of Archaeological Science, found that Snow’s algorithm predicted female hands fairly well, but was useless for males, making it overall a bad predictor of sex. [Phenomena]

Alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving

This article examines cognitive links between romantic love and creativity and between sexual desire and analytic thought based on construal level theory. It suggests that when in love, people typically focus on a long-term perspective, which should enhance holistic thinking and thereby creative thought, whereas when experiencing sexual encounters, they focus on the present and on concrete details enhancing analytic thinking. Because people automatically activate these processing styles when in love or when they experience sex, subtle or even unconscious reminders of love versus sex should suffice to change processing modes. Two studies explicitly or subtly reminded participants of situations of love or sex and found support for this hypothesis. [Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin | PDF]

Researchers say ‘outsourcing’ parts of a relationship could improve it. An agreed, non-monogamous relationship would, in some cases, improve the relationship. [Daily Mail | via gettingsome]

High divorce rates and low marital satisfaction are a direct result of partners’ inability to meet ‘psychological expectations’

Findings suggest that ovulating women have evolved to prefer mates who display sexy traits – such as a masculine body type and facial features, dominant behavior and certain scents – but not traits typically desired in long-term mates.

For mainstream listening, about 30% of the artists in a typical male’s listening rotation won’t be found in a typical female listening rotation, and vice versa.

The truth about the left brain / right brain relationship

People who consider themselves very religious and view Internet porn even once may perceive they are addicted, according to a new study.

Hagger-Johnson et al. note a correlation between reaction times (doing a button press as quickly as possible after a light flashes on a computer screen) and mortality in 5,145 adults.

Exposure to bright light is a second possible approach to increasing serotonin without drugs. Bright light is, of course, a standard treatment for seasonal depression, but a few studies also suggest that it is an effective treatment for nonseasonal depression and also reduces depressed mood in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder39 and in pregnant women suffering from depression. […] The fourth factor that could play a role in raising brain serotonin is diet. […] The idea, common in popular culture, that a high-protein food such as turkey will raise brain tryptophan and serotonin is, unfortunately, false. Another popular myth that is widespread on the Internet is that bananas improve mood because of their serotonin content. Although it is true that bananas contain serotonin, it does not cross the blood–brain barrier. [Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience]

Recent research on circadian rhythms has suggested a reliable method to reduce or even completely prevent jet lag. […] Circadian rhythms are the roughly 24-hour biological rhythms that drive changes within humans and most other organisms. […] Usually these rhythms align with the environment’s natural light and dark cycle. […] Whether circadian rhythms align with the environment is determined by factors such as exercise, melatonin, and light. Bright light exposure is the most powerful way to cause a phase shift — an advance or delay in circadian rhythms. Light in the early morning makes you wake up earlier (“phase advance”); light around bed time makes you wake up later (“phase delay”). This simple insight can be used to minimise jet lag. For example, Helen Burgess and colleagues from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago studied whether jet lag could be prevented by phase shifting before departing. After three days of light exposure in the morning, the participants’ circadian rhythms shifted by an average of 2.1 hours. This means they would feel less jet lagged, and would be fully adjusted to the new time zone around two days earlier. Several field studies have reached similar conclusions. [Scientific American]

Narcolepsy is a disorder of the immune system where it inappropriately attacks parts of the brain involved in sleep regulation. The result is that affected people are not able to properly regulate sleep cycles meaning they can fall asleep unexpectedly, sometimes multiple times, during the day. One effect of this is that the boundary between dreaming and everyday life can become a little bit blurred and a new study by sleep psychologist Erin Wamsley aimed to see how often this occurs and what happens when it does. [Mind Hacks]

Now there is hope in the form of new genome-engineering tools, particularly one called CRISPR. This technology could allow researchers to perform microsurgery on genes, precisely and easily changing a DNA sequence at exact locations on a chromosome. Along with a technique called TALENs, invented several years ago, and a slightly older predecessor based on molecules called zinc finger nucleases, CRISPR could make gene therapies more broadly applicable, providing remedies for simple genetic disorders like sickle-cell anemia and eventually even leading to cures for more complex diseases involving multiple genes. [Technology Review]

People think that there’s a DNA test that can prove if somebody is Native American or not. There isn’t.

Experiments on mice are widely used to help determine which new cancer therapies stand a good chance of working in human patients. Such studies are not perfect and, all too often, what works in a rodent produces little or no benefit in people. This has led researchers to explore the ways in which mice and men are dissimilar, in order to pick apart why the responses are different. A new study now proposes that the temperature in which lab mice are kept is one thing that does matter. [The Economist]

How Aspirin Works Against Cancer

Special glasses help surgeons ‘see’ cancer

Smoking cessation is associated with reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life compared with continuing to smoke.

Evidence is mounting that medication for ADHD doesn’t make a lasting difference to schoolwork or achievement.

‘Lung In A Box’ Keeps Organs Breathing Before Transplants

Termite-inspired robots Build with bricks

Raindrops shaped like hamburger bun, scientists discover and Weight of water per acre from one inch of rain

One of them had a connection with dealers from South Jamaica — and brokered an arrangement where the New Yorkers would purchase narcotics from their California partners and then sell the drugs on consignment in the city, the sources said. Their first transaction went smoothly, with the California trio shipping one kilo to their Queens partners, who sold the coke and promptly mailed a share of the money back to California, according to the sources. But the New York dealers were slow sending the Californians their cut after a second transaction, the sources said. And in their third and final deal, the South Jamaica goons not only kept all the proceeds after selling three kilos — they then tried to lure their business partners to New York City to assassinate them, according to the sources. But only Woodard showed up on Dec. 10, 2012 […] and was murdered execution-style by a gunman in broad daylight on busy West 58th Street off Seventh Avenue. [NY Post]

Heroin bag archive blog More: Interview with Dequincey Jynxie

US police deploy 3D scanner to capture accidents and crime scenes Related: A Gadget Used to Scan the Tower of Pisa Is Helping Police Fight Crime

Norwegian 10-year old takes parents’ car to visit grandparents, claims he’s a dwarf

In U.S., 14% of Those Aged 24 to 34 Are Living With Parents

The Geography of European Surnames

The top 100 most searched for out-of-print books in 2013

Cameron Diaz Encourages Women to Keep Their Pubic Hair in Her New Book English syntax provides you with many ways to phrase things, and many options for ensuring that you don’t puzzle your readers.

The human brain has adapted to react to emoticons in the same way we would to expressions on real human faces, new research suggests. Previously: Nabokov, 1969: I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile.

How Not to Die: 20 Survival Tips

Mathematicians calculate that there are 177,147 ways to knot a tie

1 Million Followers Cost $600 And The State Department Buys 2 Million Facebook Likes

Nike to release self-tying shoes based on the pair worn by Marty McFly in “Back to the Future II.”

Illegal Subway Signs Show NY Commuters How To Nail The Transfer

When looking into a mirror, why is left-right reversed, but not up-down? An enigma.

Secret Meat, Tunnel

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The key way that economists model behavior is by assuming that people have preferences about things. Often, but not always, these preferences are expressed in the form of a utility function. But there are some things that could happen that could seriously mess with this model. Most frightening are “framing effects”. This is when what you want depends on how it’s presented to you. […] One of the most important tools we have to describe people’s behavior over time is the notion of time preference, also called “discounting”. This means that we assume that people care about the future less than they care about the present. Makes sense, right? But while certain kinds of discounting cause people’s choices to be inconsistent, other kinds would cause people to make inconsistent decisions. For example, some people might choose not to study hard in college, even though they realize that someday they’ll wake up and say “Man, if I could go back in time I would have studied more in college!”. This kind of thing is called hyperbolic discounting. It would make it a lot harder to model human behavior. But the models would still be possible to make. But what would be really bad news is if people’s time preferences switched depending on framing effects! If that happened, then it would be very, very hard to model individual decision-making over time. Unfortunately, that is exactly what experimental economist David Eil of George Mason University has found in a new experiment. [Noahpinion]

Now add $1.99 per month subscription to connect Nest to Google services, and you’ve opened a lot more consumers to replacing their “ugly” thermostat, rather than paying the upfront $249 Nest one-off purchase cost. Which could allow Nest to work its way into millions of homes; this means that 56% of all electricity used, the monthly service that we all are forced to pay, will largely be monitored and controlled by one of the most powerful companies in the world: Google. […] a shift from one-off product sales to services that will become essential to our everyday lives, things that we will pay for over and over again. [Pando]

Fashion designers are sending out photos of stars wearing their brands while attending Philip Seymour Hoffman’s funeral. “We are pleased to announce Amy Adams carrying the Valentino Garavani Rockstud Duble bag from the Spring/Summer 2014 collection on February 6th in New York.”

Cheese Made From Bacteria Between Your Toes and Other Bizarre Bio Art

The group of people who took revenge even after a period of time still struggled with more vengeful feelings than the people who did not take revenge. Although 58% experienced satisfaction and 16% experienced triumph, only 19% reported their vengeful feelings to be completely gone, compared with 40% of the people who did not take revenge. [International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology | via Mind Hacks]

In love, as with genies, we only get three wishes, says relationship expert Ty Tashiro. The more traits you pick that are above the average, the lower the statistical odds that you’ll find a match. And three is the tipping point. [NY Post]

Experiences of love are far more similar than different, regardless of sexual orientation.

Previous research has shown that men with higher facial width-to-height ratios (fWHRs) have higher testosterone and are more aggressive, more powerful, and more financially successful. We tested whether they are also more attractive to women in the ecologically valid mating context of speed dating. Men’s fWHR was positively associated with their perceived dominance, likelihood of being chosen for a second date, and attractiveness to women for short-term, but not long-term, relationships. [Psychological Science | PDF]

Divorce Rate Cut in Half for Couples Who Discussed Relationship Movies

Researchers Develop “Envy-Free” Algorithm for Settling Disputes from Divorce to Inheritance

Women with kids make roughly 7 to 14 percent less than women without them.

Ultra-thin condom made from graphene and latex brings design of the contraceptive into the 21st century.

All-Female College Terrified by Creepy Underwear Man Statue.

Couple having car sex in garage die of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carma Sutra

Chinese authorities have closed down the country’s only nudist beach.

Psychologists explain how attractiveness prevents the recognition of faces

Memory is a cognitive process which is intrinsically linked to language. One of the fundamental tasks that the brain carries out when undertaking a linguistic activity – holding a conversation, for example – is the semantic process. On carrying out this task, the brain compares the words it hears with those that it recalls from previous events, in order to recognise them and to unravel their meaning. This semantic process is a fundamental task for enabling the storing of memories in our brain, helping us to recognise words and to memorise names and episodes in our mind. However, as everyone knows, this is not a process that functions 100% perfectly at times; a lack of precision that, on occasions, gives rise to the creation of false memories. [Basque Research]

Our memory is a poor way of recording events, as it rewrites the past with current information, updating recollections with new experiences. [Independent]

Two stressed people equals less stress

if you’re in the mindset that you’re well-rested, your brain will perform better, regardless of the actual quality of your sleep

Study finds feeling ‘in control’ may increase longevity

Studies find new links between sleep duration and depression; Sub-optimal sleep may activate depressive genes, increase risk for major depression.

In recent years, numerous studies have shown how music hijacks our relationship with everyday time. For instance, more drinks are sold in bars when with slow-tempo music, which seems to make the bar a more enjoyable environment, one in which patrons want to linger—and order another round. Similarly, consumers spend 38 percent more time in the grocery store when the background music is slow. Familiarity is also a factor. Shoppers perceive longer shopping times when they are familiar with the background music in the store, but actually spend more time shopping when the music is novel. […] The advent of audio recording not only changed the way music was disseminated, it changed time perception for generations. Thomas Edison’s cylinder recordings held about four minutes of music. This technological constraint set a standard that dictated the duration of popular music long after that constraint was surpassed. In fact, this average duration persists in popular music as the modus operandi today. […] Neuroscience gives us insights into how music creates an alternate temporal universe. During periods of intense perceptual engagement, such as being enraptured by music, activity in the prefrontal cortex, which generally focuses on introspection, shuts down. The sensory cortex becomes the focal area of processing and the “self-related” cortex essentially switches off. As neuroscientist Ilan Goldberg describes, “the term ‘losing yourself’ receives here a clear neuronal correlate.” [Nautilus]

Many of us instinctively turn to sad music when we’re feeling down. Does this counter-intuitive strategy really work? Newly published research suggests it can.

The musical deficits associated with amusia (tone deafness) may have been exaggerated.

A deaf composer who has been dubbed “Japan’s Beethoven” has admitted hiring someone else to write his music for nearly two decades.

“Darkness increases freedom from constraints, which in turn promotes creativity,” report Anna Steidle of the University of Stuttgart and Lioba Werth of the University of Hohenheim. A dimly lit environment, they explain in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, “elicits a feeling of freedom, self-determination, and reduced inhibition,” all of which encourage innovative thinking. […] However, the darkness-spurs-innovation equation did not always hold true. In another experiment, the researchers found “the darkness-related increase in creativity disappeared when using a more informal, indirect light instead of direct light.” […] What’s more, the researchers note, innovation consists of two distinct phases: generating ideas, and then analyzing and implementing them. The latter requires analytical thinking, and in a final experiment, participants did better on that task when they were in a brightly lit room rather than a dimly lit one. [Pacific Standard]

Do not smoke and do not allow yourself to be exposed to smoke because second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke are just as deadly as first-hand smoke, says a scientist at the University of California, Riverside who, along with colleagues, conducted the first animal study of the effects of third-hand smoke. While first-hand smoke refers to the smoke inhaled by a smoker and second-hand smoke to the exhaled smoke and other substances emanating from the burning cigarette that can get inhaled by others, third-hand smoke is the second-hand smoke that gets left on the surfaces of objects, ages over time and becomes progressively more toxic. [EurekAlert]

Exposure to farming in early life protects against development of asthma, hay fever, and allergies

Flatulent cows start fire at German dairy farm – police

Why the Promise of Cheap Fuel from Super Bugs Fell Short

Scientists create bone-like material that is lighter than water but as strong as steel

Study finds evidence that stock prices can be predicted.

Who owns real-time sports data?

The colossal project, which cost more than $50 billion – more than all previous Winter Olympics combined – was expected to turn Sochi into a sporting paradise, packed with arenas and a new airport. Instead, corruption and construction accidents have plagued preparations, with hotels still unfinished just days before the opening ceremony. [Zero Hedge]

“Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard,” Zuckerberg said. “I think it’s kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.” […] While Zuckerberg promised that thefacebook.com would boast new features by the end of the week, he said that he did not create the website with the intention of generating revenue. “I’m not going to sell anybody’s e-mail address,” he said. [Crimson (2004)]

ZUCK: yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard / just ask / i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns FRIEND: what!? how’d you manage that one? ZUCK: people just submitted it / i don’t know why / they “trust me” / dumb fucks [New Yorker]

Silicon Valley Can’t Stop Shit-Talking Itself on This New App

NYPD is beta-testing Google Glass

Evidence Emerges That Google’s Quantum Computer May Not Be Quantum After All

He booted up a smartphone in a Moscow café and watched as unidentified attackers immediately began to cyber-assault it. [Slashdot]

Apple is going to start mass producing sapphire, the hardest natural material after diamond.

Biker is buried in leathers astride his Harley in a huge transparent casket

Sweden’s Catacombo Sound System is a funeral casket that eternally plays the deceased’s choice of tracks while they’re six feet under.

We define mass murder as the intentional killing of 3 or more individuals, excluding the perpetrator, during one event, and have studied cases in both the US and overseas. […] Immediately following a mass murder, there is a steady stream of newspaper headlines and what I call “entertainment profilers” who appear on television and proclaim that the perpetrator “snapped.” There is no known psychological term called “snapping,” but it appears to be the assumption of many that anyone who commits a mass murder has done it impulsively, without any planning or preparation, and has completely lost control. […] Our research, and others’ studies, have consistently shown that mass murderers, whether adolescents or adults, will research, plan, and prepare for their act of targeted violence over the course of days, weeks, and even months. […] Since 1976, there have been about 20 mass murders a year. […] What was the most lethal school mass murder in US history? It was in Bath, Michigan, in 1927, and the bombing resulted in the deaths of 45 people, mostly children in the second to sixth grades. […] The majority of adult mass murderers—not adolescent shooters—are psychotic, meaning they have broken with consensual reality, and now perceive the world in an idiosyncratic and often paranoid way. Yet they may research the internet for the appropriate weapons, practice video games to sharpen their marksmanship, purchase weapons and ammunition online, conduct surveillance of the target, probe for security protecting the target, and tactically carry out their mass murder, all from within a delusion. Paradoxically, delusions may help the mass murderer eliminate any ambivalence in his mind, and commit him irrevocably to a path of homicidal destruction. Our research has also found that mass murderers who are psychotic have a higher casualty rate than those who are not. Typically they will select victims who are complete strangers, yet in their mind those strangers make up a “pseudocommunity” of persecutors bent on their destruction. […] [T]here is a warning behavior that is quite frequent: mass murderers, both adolescents and adults, will leak their intent to others. This leakage has been defined by us as the communication to a third party of an intent to attack a target; put more simply, it is a phrase expressed to another, or posted on the internet, that raises concern. It may be overt: “I’m going to kill my supervisor and his cohorts tomorrow”; or it may be covert: “don’t come to work tomorrow, but watch the news.” The logical consequence of such comments should be to alert someone in a position of authority; however, most people don’t. The sad reality is that the leakage surfaces after the event, with the rationale, “I just didn’t think he was serious.” [Psychiatric Times]

“The British Hitman: 1974–2013 (Study)

“You are looking out of the window of a plane, she is showing the target.” Supertramp’s Breakfast in America 9/11 theory

Jewellery store thief who kissed a hostage out of compassion was tracked down through his DNA.

Fraudster paid UK government to help promote fake bomb detectors

Confessions of an ex-TSA agent

Many gang members have been priced out of the neighborhood, but on Fridays and Saturdays, they make a pilgrimage back to their roots.

After Michael Mann set out to direct Collateral, the story’s setting moved from New York to Los Angeles. This decision was in part motivated by the unique visual presence of the city — especially the way it looked at night. […] That city, at least as it appears in Collateral and countless other films, will never be the same again. L.A. has made a vast change-over to LED street lights, with New York City not far behind. [No Film School]

…the specific forms of linguistic mayhem performed by “young people nowadays.” For American teenagers, these examples usually include the discourse marker like, rising final intonation on declaratives, and the address term dude, which is cited as an example of the inarticulateness of young men in particular. This stereotype views the use of dude as unconstrained – a sign of inexpressiveness in which one word is used for any and all utterances. [...] The data presented here confirm that dude is an address term that is used mostly by young men to address other young men; however, its use has expanded so that it is now used as a general address term for a group (same or mixed gender), and by and to women. Dude is developing into a discourse marker that need not identify an addressee, but more generally encodes the speaker’s stance to his or her current addressee(s). The term is used mainly in situations in which a speaker takes a stance of solidarity or camaraderie, but crucially in a nonchalant, not-too-enthusiastic manner. [American Speech | Continue reading | via Sunday Reading]

A world where women could vote and had taken the traditional place of men as drinking, smoking, gambling barflies (1908)

Diagnosing Mental Illness in Ancient Greece and Rome

The most disturbing thing that ever happened at the Ueno Zoo was the systematic slaughter of the garden’s most famous and valuable animals in the summer of 1943. At the height of the Second World War, as the Japanese empire teetered on the brink of collapse, the zoo was transformed from a wonderland of imperial amusement and exotic curiosity into a carefully ritualized abattoir, a public altar for the sanctification of creatures sacrificed in the service of total war and of ultimate surrender to emperor and nation. The cult of military martyrdom is often recognized as a central component of Japanese fascist culture, but events at the zoo add a chilling new dimension to that analysis. They show that the pursuit of total mobilization extended into areas previously unexamined, suggesting how the culture of total war became a culture of total sacrifice after 1943. […] The killings were carried out in secret until nearly one-third of the garden’s cages stood empty, their former inhabitants’ carcasses hauled out of the zoo’s service entrance in covered wheelbarrows during the dark hours before dawn. [University of California Press | PDF]

This unprecedented ceremony known as the “Memorial Service for Martyred Animals” was held on the zoo’s grounds where nearly a third of the cages stood empty. Lions from Abyssinia, tigers representative of Japan’s troops, bears from Manchuria, Malaya and Korea, an American bison, and many others had been clubbed, speared, poisoned and hacked to death in secret. Although the zoo’s director had found a way to save some of the condemned creatures by moving them to zoos outside Tokyo, Mayor Ōdaichi Shigeo insisted on their slaughter. Ōdaichi himself, along with Imperial Prince Takatsukasa Nobusuke and the chief abbot of Asakusa’s Sensōji Temple, presided over the carefully choreographed and highly publicized “Memorial Service”, thanking the animals for sacrificing themselves for Japan’s war effort. [The Times Literary Supplement ]

How architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s mistress and her two children were killed in 1914 by his ax-wielding cook

New York City has about a million buildings, and each year 3,000 of them erupt in a major fire. Can officials predict which ones will go up in flames?

North Brother Island was in use by New York City from 1885 to 1963 as a hospital complex to quarantine and treat people suffering from smallpox and typhoid fever then a rehab center and a housing project for WWII vets. In the 1950s a center opened to treat adolescent drug addicts. Heroin addicts were confined to this island and locked in a room until they were clean. By the early 1960s widespread staff corruption and patient recidivism forced the facility to close. It is now uninhabited and designated as a bird sanctuary. [Wikipedia | NY Times | Rsvlts | photos]

The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was sealed in 1861, shortly after Brooklyn banned steam locomotives within city limits.

How much bubble wrap do you need to survive jumping out of the 6th floor of a building?

A Guide to Optimized Napping

Why your ears keep ringing (and what you can do about it)

Microwaving Your Meals: Skipping 1 Step Can Make You Sick

AcmeAesthetics, the premier cosmeticomic specialists in Los Angeles

Tampon flasks [Thanks Tim]

Valentine Day Special!

Triple-Decker Weekly, 92

tdw92

Put it in the right place and sperm generally knows where to go. But researchers who use sperm in experiments have a harder time controlling where these swimmers end up. Put sperm onto a petri dish or glass slide, for example, and it’ll wander off in any direction it pleases. Today, researchers say they’ve worked out a way to control the direction in which sperm swims to keep it on the straight and narrow. Their discovery could lead to new ways of generating a uniform stream of sperm and perhaps even a jet of the stuff. [arXiv]

Craigslist sperm donor told to pay child support

It is now possible to 3-D print your unborn fetus.

Swiss company Algordanza takes cremated human remains and compresses them into diamonds.

When Mary Ellis died in 1828, her family buried her in a peaceful patch of woods near a bend in the Raritan River. She’s still there, but the trees are long gone—her body now rests in the middle of a movieplex parking lot.

Why does life exist? Popular hypotheses credit a primordial soup, a bolt of lightning and a colossal stroke of luck. But if a provocative new theory is correct, luck may have little to do with it. Instead, according to the physicist proposing the idea, the origin and subsequent evolution of life follow from the fundamental laws of nature and “should be as unsurprising as rocks rolling downhill.” From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life. [Quanta]

Opera Singer Says Operation Ruined Her Career With Flatulence

Only 15% of Davos attendees are women, even fewer than last year.

An agunah is a woman whose husband refuses to give her a divorce – in Hebrew it means “chained wife.” Mark Oppenheimer reports on agunah in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Women go on twice as many diets as they have lovers.

Girls who found it difficult to understand and express their feelings were more likely to have boys as friends rather than girls.

The brains of older people only appear to slow down because they have so much information to compute, much like a full-up hard drive, scientists believe.

Since 1955, The Journal of Irreproducible Results has offered “spoofs, parodies, whimsies, burlesques, lampoons and satires” about life in the laboratory. Among its greatest hits: “Acoustic Oscillations in Jell-O, With and Without Fruit, Subjected to Varying Levels of Stress” and “Utilizing Infinite Loops to Compute an Approximate Value of Infinity.” The good-natured jibes are a backhanded celebration of science. What really goes on in the lab is, by implication, of a loftier, more serious nature. It has been jarring to learn in recent years that a reproducible result may actually be the rarest of birds. Replication, the ability of another lab to reproduce a finding, is the gold standard of science, reassurance that you have discovered something true. But that is getting harder all the time. With the most accessible truths already discovered, what remains are often subtle effects, some so delicate that they can be conjured up only under ideal circumstances, using highly specialized techniques. Fears that this is resulting in some questionable findings began to emerge in 2005, when Dr. John P. A. Ioannidis, a kind of meta-scientist who researches research, wrote a paper pointedly titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” [...] The fear that much published research is tainted has led to proposals to make replication easier by providing more detailed documentation, including videos of difficult procedures. [...] Scientists talk about “tacit knowledge,” the years of mastery it can take to perform a technique. The image they convey is of an experiment as unique as a Rembrandt. [NY Times]

You prefer apples to oranges, but cherries to apples. Yet if I offer you just cherries and oranges, you take the oranges. […] New research shows that sometimes a decision like this, which sounds irrational, can actually be the best one. [Nature]

Psychoactive Plants in the Bible [...] The holy anointing oil is essentially an anxiolytic-hallucinogen. The transdermal application of it led to its absorption and psychoactive effects, even in extremely low doses. […] Myrrh is a resin that is used widely in the bible. Myrrh contains the terpenes furanoeudesma-1,3-diene and curzarene which are Mu-opioid agonists. This opioid receptor is the same one that morphine activates. This means that inhaling or absorbing myrrh incense can cause a drug reaction.[NeuroBrainstorm]

American Botanical Council Publishes Revolutionary Analysis Unlocking Mysteries of Voynich Manuscript

Countries print 150 billion new notes each year, at a cost of about $10 billion. Cash attracts grime and dirt, gets stuffed into underwear drawers, is daubed with pens, and exposed to harsh UV light. In other words, money goes through a lot, with the result that 150,000 tons of it has to be destroyed annually. As a new paper explains, one of the main problems with keeping money in good condition is sebum, the substance the body produces to protect the skin. Waxy and oily, sebum builds up on the surface of the paper and then reacts with the air, eventually turning bills a nasty shade of yellow. The paper, published in an American Chemical Society journal, discusses a new process that might keep more notes circulating longer, and therefore cut the cost of printing and distributing new bills. It involves subjecting notes to supercritical CO2. [Fast Company]

Intricate mechanical and chemical separation is needed to extract and recover pigment from US currency. The ink is then re-stabilized, divided into individual doses and packaged into medical vials. [Diddo, The Cure for Greed ]

Thirty-five of the YouTube accounts they took over were generating more than 6 million page views each month.

How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages

Efforts are underway to make your smart toilet—and other connected devices—less vulnerable to hackers.

When a shopper enters Reebok’s flagship store in New York City, a face-detection system analyzes 10 to 20 frames per second to build a profile of the potential customer. The algorithms can determine a shopper’s gender and age range as well as behavioral and emotional cues, such as interest in a given display (it tracks glances and the amount of time spent standing in one place). Reebok installed the system, called Cara, in May 2013; other companies are following suit. Tesco recently unveiled a technology in the U.K. that triggers digital ads at gas stations tailored to the viewer’s age and gender. [Popular Science]

The news around shopping during the holiday season was dominated by two separate stories. One talked about how traffic to brick-and-mortar stores was well below expectations, and that these retailers were forced to discount tremendously to drive sales. The other talked about how an enormous late surge in packages coming from e-commerce companies overwhelmed the capacity of UPS and, to a lesser extent, FedEx, and caused many of these packages to arrive after Christmas. But, to me, these two stories are not at all separate, they simply reflect different sides of the same narrative: We’re in the midst of a profound structural shift from physical to digital retail. [Jeff Jordan]

The “sharing economy” invokes vague leftist sentiments while moving towards more precarious employment.

This paper will explore how the Nazis tried to quell the demand for jazz music by creating a new, ideologically acceptable music. [PDF]

He identifies seven main factors of a state’s relative strength, the combination of which determines the chances of war

How architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s mistress and her two children were killed in 1914 by his ax-wielding cook

“Mr. Faulkner, you were saying a while ago that you don’t like interviews.”

The American Dialect Society’s recognition of because as Word of the Year has sparked a number of intriguing linguistic arguments.

“I want you to know…” or “I’m just saying…” or “I hate to be the one to tell you this…” Often, these phrases imply the opposite of what the words mean, as with the phrase, “I’m not saying…” as in “I’m not saying we have to stop seeing each other, but…” […] Language experts have textbook names for these phrases—”performatives,” or “qualifiers.” Essentially, taken alone, they express a simple thought, such as “I am writing to say…” At first, they seem harmless, formal, maybe even polite. But coming before another statement, they often signal that bad news, or even some dishonesty on the part of the speaker, will follow. […] Their use may be increasing as a result of social media, where people use phrases such as “I am thinking that…” or “As far as I know…” both to avoid committing to a definitive position and to manage the impression they make in print. [WSJ]

An example of a snowclone is the phrase “grey is the new black,” which gave rise to the template “X is the new Y.”

The Communicative Functions of Emoticons in Workplace E-Mails

What percent of your work day do you spend on email? 28%. Use email auto-analytics to tame your inbox.

How the U.S. Maps the World’s Most Disputed Territories

What caused a 10-year winter starting in 536?

I would lick a toilet seat before I would lick a cellphone. Though neither one is very likely to cause any harm.

25 worst passwords of 2013

Photos of every New York City subway stop

Jean-Michel Basquiat, naked

The Indian-head test pattern

Angriest athlete of the weekend

Patent Rat Exterminator, 1882

No Grandma. One hand, like this