Triple-Decker Weekly, 46
The Ohio woman dubbed “the cleaning fairy” by local media because she broke into a home and cleaned it without permission, was arrested on Tuesday after police found her shovelling snow from a driveway without the owner’s consent.
For over two decades researchers have shown that there are unexpected consequences when an individual actively tries to avoid certain thoughts. First, you will start thinking about the thought you are trying to avoid more. Second, if the thought is about a behavior, you increase the likelihood of engaging in that behavior. In short, avoidance makes you less able to control what you think and what you do. [The Psychologist]
Several experimental studies have shown that human social relationships are positively affected by the weather. Cunningham (1979) found that participants approached by an interviewer to participate in a survey were less reluctant to comply on sunny days compared with cloudy days. In a second study by this author the outside level of sunshine was found to be significantly related to the gratuity left by restaurant customers for a waitress. Hirshleifer and Shumway (2003) reported that sunshine level was positively correlated with returns on the stock market. Simonsohn (2007), examining actual university admission decisions, found that applicants’ academic attributes were weighted more heavily on cloudy days while non-academic attributes were weighted more heavily on sunny days. […] Rind (1996) conducted an experiment in hotel rooms that did not have windows. A male server who delivered food and drinks to the rooms reported the sky conditions (sunny, partly sunny, cloudy, or rainy) to guests. More tips were left when the server mentioned pleasant weather conditions. […] If actual or expected pleasant weather conditions facilitate positive social relationships, we can hypothesize that other behaviors, such as a courtship solicitation, are affected by weather. […] Young women were more likely to give their phone number to a young man when solicited during sunny days. [Taylor & Francis]
People usually associate the color black with aggression. Previous studies have revealed that people are perceived as more aggressive, and act more aggressively, when wearing dark clothes. To investigate the influence of black clothing on criminal justice agency personnel, this study examined whether police departments that wear dark uniforms are more aggressive than those that wear lighter uniforms. It was predicted that departments utilizing black uniforms would experience more assaults on officers, citizens killed by police, and excessive force complaints. No statistically significant difference was found between departments wearing black and light uniforms. [Criminal Justice and Behavior]
Men who were born without a sense of smell report having far fewer sexual partners than other men do, and women with the same disorder report being more insecure in their partnerships, according to new research. The researchers don’t know why romantic difficulties could be tied to smell, but they say one possibility is that people with anosmia, or no sense of smell, are insecure, having missed many emotional signals all their life. [LiveScience]
The manner in which men and women evaluate potential romantic partners has been a prominent topic of evolutionary psychology for the past several decades. The impact of an individual’s sexual history on his or her desirability to potential mates has traditionally been an area of particular interest. Numerous studies have shown that having many past sexual partners adversely impacts one’s desirability as a potential mate. This finding has been described as a manifestation of psychological mechanisms designed to avoid cuckoldry and ensure selection of more committed partners. If this explanation is correct, then the amount of time elapsed since the end of one’s previous relationship should also influence his or her desirability as a mate; specifically, a man’s or woman’s recently-ended intimate relationship could pose a risk to their potential partner’s reproductive fitness through resource diversion or cuckoldry, respectively. The recency hypothesis has not been empirically examined and is the focus of the present investigation. [Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology | PDF]
Most sleeping pills are designed to knock you out for eight hours. When the Food and Drug Administration was evaluating a new short-acting pill for people to take when they wake up in the middle of the night, agency scientists wanted to know how much of the drug would still be in users’ systems come morning. Blood tests uncovered a gender gap: Men metabolized the drug, Intermezzo, faster than women. […] The active ingredient in Intermezzo, zolpidem, is used in many other sleeping aids, including Ambien. But it wasn’t until earlier this month that the F.D.A. reduced doses of Ambien for women by half. Sleeping pills are hardly the only medications that may have unexpected, even dangerous, effects in women. Studies have shown that women respond differently than men to many drugs, from aspirin to anesthesia. […] Until 1993, women of childbearing age were routinely excluded from trials of new drugs. When the F.D.A. lifted the ban that year, agency researchers noted that because landmark studies on aspirin in heart disease and stroke had not included women, the scientific community was left “with doubts about whether aspirin was, in fact, effective in women for these indications.” […] Women also react differently to alcohol, tobacco and cocaine, studies have found. It’s not just because women tend to be smaller than men. Women metabolize drugs differently because they have a higher percentage of body fat and experience hormonal fluctuations and the monthly menstrual cycle. [NY Times]
It is startling to realize that some of our most cherished memories may never have happened—or may have happened to someone else. [NY Review of Books]
A study published in 2003 supported this idea: participants who listened to music with the intention of feeling happier actually ended up feeling less happy than others who merely listened to the music with no happiness goal. […] But now a new study has come along which purports to show that trying deliberately to be happier is beneficial after all. [BPS]
Use of music to awaken astronauts on space missions [PDF].
A cephalophore is a saint who is generally depicted carrying his or her own head.
Cruentation was one of the medieval methods of finding proof against a suspected murderer. The common belief was that the body of the victim would spontaneously bleed in the presence of the murderer. Cruentation was part of the Germanic Laws, and it was used in Germany, Poland, Bohemia, Scotland and the North-Americans colonies. In Germany it was used as a method to find proof of guilt until the middle of the 18th. century. The accused was brought before the corpse of the murder victim and was made to put his or her hands on it. If the wounds of the corpse then began to bleed, or if other unusual visual signs appeared, that was regarded as God’s verdict (judicium Dei) announcing that the accused was guilty. [Wikipedia]
It might be hard for us to believe but the prison is a very modern institution — not much older than the 19th century. The idea that you should detain people convicted of a crime for long periods perhaps with the hope of “rehabilitating” them just hadn’t crossed anyone’s mind before then. Instead, punishment was almost immediate, whether execution, physical punishment or fines. [IEET]
Evidence from a new study published in Science suggests that the One Child Policy in China is negatively affecting the personality of new generations. It claims that single children born under the policy are less trustworthy and trusting of others, more risk-aversive and pessimistic, less competitive and less conscientious. [Marianne Cezza]
The resilience of the Chinese authoritarian regime is approaching its limits. Theories of “threshold models” and “informational cascades” derived from the East German experience may help explain what happens next. China, however, is different from East Germany in several ways. Among other differences, it is not a client state and its economy is growing faster than those of its neighbors. Citizens are better informed about what other people think; the Chinese police are more skilled in the arts of repression, and the regime is more adaptive than other authoritarian regimes. A breakthrough moment could be triggered by several kinds of events. A key variable in the cascade model of political change is fear, and that seems to be diminishing. [Journal of Democracy | PDF]
The biggest book craze in China right now? James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. The first-ever mainland Chinese edition of the novel sold out its initial print run of 8,000 copies just three weeks after being launched in December.
For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II. [Thanks Freddie DeBoer]
Married men and women who divide household chores in traditional ways report having more sex than couples who share so-called men’s and women’s work. Although: Married men who spend more time doing traditionally female household tasks — including cooking, cleaning, and shopping — report having less sex than husbands who don’t do as much.
The conventional view that extroverts make the finest salespeople is so accepted that we’ve overlooked one teensy flaw: There’s almost no evidence it’s actually true.
This article explores the evidence for animals being able to promote human well-being, and examines whether or not they have a role to play in modern health care.
At a 2010 tech conference, Siri co-founder Tom Gruber demonstrated the app’s reach: Telling the assistant, “I’d like a romantic place for Italian food near my office,” yielded an answer that seamlessly combined facts from Citysearch, Gayot, Yelp, Yahoo! Local, AllMenus.com, Google Maps, BooRah and OpenTable. As conceived by its creators, Siri was supposed to be a “do engine,” something that would allow people to hold conversations with the Internet. While a search engine used stilted keywords to create lists of links, a do engine could carry a conversation, then decide and act. Had one too many drinks? The ability to coordinate a Google search for a ride home might elude you, but a do engine could translate a muttered, “I’m drunk take me home,” into a command to send a car service to your location. The startup’s goal was not to build a better search engine, but to pioneer an entirely new paradigm for accessing the Internet, one that would let artificially intelligent agents summon the answers people needed, rather than pull relevant resources for humans to consult on their own. If the search engine defined the second generation of the web, Siri’s co-founders were confident the do engine would define the third. This Siri — the Siri of the past — offers a glimpse at what the Siri of the future may provide. […] Where we now see Siri as a footnote to the iPhone’s legacy, some day soon the iPhone may be remembered as a footnote to Siri. [Huffington Post]
According to the Wall Street Journal, the practice of carrying two cell phones of complimentary sizes is not unheard of: in Asia, women who carry big phones in their purse may carry secondary cellphones in their pockets. Get a smaller phone for your smartphone.
Modern physics deals with some ridiculously non-intuitive stuff. Objects act as though they gain mass the faster they move. An electron can’t decide if it’s a particle, a wave or both. However, there is one statement that takes the cake on sounding like crazy talk: Empty space isn’t empty. […] At the quantum scale, space is a writhing, frantic, ever-changing foam, with particles popping into existence and disappearing in the wink of an eye. This is not just a theoretical idea—it’s confirmed. […] And since energy and matter are the same (thank Einstein for teaching us that E=mc2 thing), matter can also appear and disappear. […] At the quantum level, matter and antimatter particles are constantly popping into existence and popping back out, with an electron-positron pair here and a top quark-antiquark pair there. This behavior is the reason that scientists call these ephemeral particles “quantum foam”: It’s similar to how bubbles in foam form and then pop. [Fermilab]
As the Pentagon works to figure out precisely how it will integrate women into military specialties previously closed to them—including infantry and artillery units— top U.S. defense officials are actively studying other militaries around the globe that have already sent women to combat.
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