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Shines Like Gold
By imp kerr
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Triple-Decker Weekly, 52

Ultimately, the most structured society will be a society in which every action has to comply with some rules, i.e. its citizens will de facto be robots with no brains. Why does brain/mind want to get rid of brain/mind? [IEET]

Medical and health journals have a bias towards publishing findings which are statistically significant, even when they may not also be clinically relevant. This results in authors describing their non significant findings with creative language, to try and make them seem more interesting. [Annie Bruton]

Competition is supposed to lead to lower prices and improvements in quality. But, as a study on the automobile smog-testing industry shows, competition can lead to corruption and even public health problems. [United Academics]

Are people either left-brained or right-brained? Like many popular psychology myths, this one has a basis in fact that has been dramatically distorted and exaggerated.

Palestinian supporters saw the photo as evidence of the Israeli military’s aggression against Palestinian civilians; Israel’s supporters viewed it as a carefully orchestrated bit of propaganda. It turns out that it was quite likely neither one.

Sleepwalkers sometimes remember what they’ve done.

Mortuary admits burying wrong woman.

In January, in Japan, 25 hospitals refused to permit an ambulance to transport a man who was pronounced dead when he finally arrived at a hospital.

Swiss police arrest “healer” accused of infecting 16 with HIV.

Nanoparticles carrying a toxin found in bee venom can destroy human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while leaving surrounding cells unharmed. The finding is an important step toward developing a vaginal gel that may prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. [Washington University in St. Louis]

3D printing technology has helped replace 75 percent of a patient’s skull with the approval of U.S. regulators. […] 3D printing’s advantage comes from taking the digitally scanned model of a patient’s skull and “printing” out a matching 3D object layer by layer. The precise manufacturing technique can even make tiny surface or edge details on the replacement part that encourage the growth of cells and allow bone to attach more easily. [TechNewsDaily]

We all know that smoking is bad for our health and that eating vegetables is good for it. Yet how bad and how good are they? […] To answer his own question, Spiegelhalter converted reams of statistical risk tables into a simple metric: a microlife—30 minutes. If you smoke two cigarettes, you lose 30 minutes of your life. Exercise for 20 minutes, and you gain two units of microlife. [Scientific American]

The cost of genetic sequencing and synthesis continues to plunge, but the functions of many genes in even the simplest forms of life, like bacteria and yeast, stubbornly hold on to their secrets. Genetic networks interact in complex, mysterious ways. Engineered parts take wild, unexpected turns when inserted into genomes. […] Where biotechnology of the past used cut-and-paste tools to introduce single genes into DNA, “we’re looking at introducing networks of genes and other elements under regulated control to rewire the internal workings” of the organism. […] The almost irrational complexity of life has been one of the biggest surprises to synthetic biologists. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Events in the Future Seem Closer Than Those in the Past.

This wireless brain implant could make telekinesis a reality.

Scientists Enhance Intelligence of Mice with Human Brain Cells .

The telepathy experiment was conducted under the following conditions; There were 6 people in the laboratory; 2 engineers from the factory that makes thermography (they both are graduates of Tokyo Denki University), 2 students assistants, myself and Mr. Geller. Under no circumstances, Mr. Geller could have seen my drawing before the experiment was all over. Only after Mr. Geller drew the image he received, my drawing was revealed. [Prof. Yoshio Machi/Tokyo Denki University]

Most people probably think of tastebuds as existing only on their tongues, but did you know there are taste buds in testes? They aren’t exactly like the taste buds in your mouth. Male germ cells–the cells that are destined to become sperm–have molecules on them that can detect bitter tastes. [Nitty Gritty Science]

Every month, during each menstrual cycle, there is a very small window in which women can conceive. Most estimates are between five to six days, with the peak ovulatory window being a few hours at the end of the fertile window. The onset of a woman’s period is actually at the beginning of the ovulatory cycle, not the end. Though the exact length varies from woman to woman, the average menstrual cycle lasts about twenty-eight days. During the length of a woman’s overall cycle, she goes through three phases: menses, follicular, and luteal. Ovulation occurs between the follicular and luteal phases. The term “peak fertility” refers to a small window (usually thought to be anywhere between two to six days) when a woman’s conception rate goes up. Though technically every woman only ovulates one day a month, the chemistry of the vagina during this time facilitates sperm life (whereas in other phases, the chemistry produces a spermicidal effect). Sperm can actually retain the capacity to fertilize ova after five days at room temperature. However, unlike in many other species, human females are continuously proceptive and receptive to sex regardless of where they are in their monthly cycle. Thus, Thornhill and Gangestad (2008) propose that women possess dual sexuality – estrous sexuality and extended sexuality – and that these two distinct forms of sexuality function during different periods of the menstrual cycle. Estrous sexuality (i.e., conceptive or reproductive sexuality) occurs within the fertile period of the menstrual cycle and female sexual preferences and motivations function to obtain “good genes” for offspring through mating with high-quality males. Extended sexuality (i.e., non- conceptive or non-reproductive sexuality), is complementary to estrous sexuality, functioning during unfertile periods to obtain non-genetic material benefits from mates in exchange for sexual access. [Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology | PDF }

What your mother ate around your conception could have affected your genes, or at least how they function, by switching certain genes on and off through DNA methylation. […] People in rural parts of the Gambia have dramatic seasonal changes in their diet, because crops are planted at the beginning of the rainy season and harvested at the end, as there is no irrigation the rest of the year. […] In a paper published in PLoS Genetics, the children conceived in August and September, the peak of the rainy season when nutrition is poor, had higher levels of DNA methylation in five genes, which surprised the researchers, as they had expected lower levels. These included the SLITRK1 gene associated with Tourette’s syndrome, and the PAX8 gene linked to hypothyroidism. [Genome Engineering]

Mothers are easily worried and this cannot always be avoided. But mothers are often worried unnecessarily by insensitivity, unwise choice of words, failure to determine what they are really concerned about, by criticizing them for being over anxious and ignoring their fears, or by inadequate explanation and counselling. [Archives of Disease in Childhood | PDF]

There is nothing bad about never being born. Therefore, having a child creates suffering that wouldn’t otherwise exist. [Rhys Southan/TNI]

China’s demand for foreign milk powder surged after a 2008 milk powder scandal, in which at least six children died and more than 300,000 got sick from milk laced with melamine. Hong Kong’s wide range of foreign milk powder brands is considered more trustworthy than even the foreign imports available in Chinese supermarkets. […] Middle-class parents choosing to feed their child foreign milk powder might spend anywhere from 25-40% of their monthly salary. […] Comprehensive statistics are impossible to gauge, but it is very common to encounter Chinese people overseas who have been asked to send back milk powder to a friend or relative, or who know others that engage in this activity to make money. [Tea Leaf Nation]

China Is Engineering Genius Babies.

Michael Kearney, a former child prodigy, was homeschooled by his parents. He was diagnosed with ADHD and his parents declined to use the offered prescription of Ritalin. He spoke his first words at four months. At the age of six months, he said to his pediatrician “I have a left ear infection” and learned to read at the age of ten months. He enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College in Sonoma County, California, graduating at age 8 with an Associate of Science in Geology. He is listed in the Guinness Book as the world’s youngest university graduate at the age of ten, receiving a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of South Alabama. [Wikipedia]

Report: Chinese Third-Graders Falling Behind U.S. High School Students in Math, Science.

World’s total wealth (including all bank savings, stocks, homes, company treasuries, government funds, pension funds, mines and other natural resources) amounts to $200 trillion or about $25,000 per person. [Quora]

Courage and Cowardice in Wartime.

Life expectancy effects on low self-control and criminal intent. [PDF]

Why do innocent people go to jail in the United States every year for violent crimes they did not commit? Study Reveals 10 Factors in Wrongful Conviction Cases.

The defendant in the deadly Colorado theater shooting could be given “truth serum” under a court order issued Monday to help determine whether he is insane if he pleads not guilty by reason of insanity. […] A narcoanalylitic interview is a decades-old process in which patients are given drugs to lower their inhibition. Academic studies have shown that the technique has involved the use of sodium amytal and pentothal, sometimes called truth serum. [AP/Mercury News]

The ‘narcoanalytic interview’ is sometimes described as the application of a ‘truth drug’ but the actual practice is far more interesting.

This January, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist named Elisa Lam disappeared while visiting Los Angeles. Lam was last seen at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, where she had been staying. Tuesday, her body was found at the bottom of one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks. [...] The hotel’s guests were horrified at the news. [...] But anyone familiar with Los Angeles’s history couldn’t have been too surprised. Downtown LA has long been seedy, and somewhat dangerous; the Cecil Hotel, for its part, has a long and sordid criminal history [Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger stayed at the Cecil Hotel for five weeks in 1991 while murdering prositutes]. [Slate]

In the context of preventing and fighting crime, the analysis of mobile phone traffic, among actors of a criminal network, is helpful in order to reconstruct illegal activities on the base of the relationships connecting those specific individuals. Thus, forensic analysts and investigators require new advanced tools and techniques which allow them to manage these data in a meaningful and efficient way. In this paper we present LogAnalysis, a tool we developed to provide visual data representation and filtering, statistical analysis features and the possibility of a temporal analysis of mobile phone activities.

For the last six months, Cody Wilson and his non-profit group Defense Distributed have worked towards a controversial goal: To make as many firearm components as possible into 3D-printable, downloadable files. Now they’re seeking to make those files searchable, too–and to make a profit while they’re at it. In a talk at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas Monday afternoon, Wilson plans to announce a new, for-profit spinoff of his gun-printing project that will serve as both a repository and search engine for CAD files aimed at allowing anyone to 3D-print gun parts in their own garage. [Forbes]

Turning to Foucault, of course we see that power is not simply the ability to dominate. Rather, power “is a set of actions on possible actions; it incites, it induces, it seduces, it makes easier or more difficult; it releases or contrives, makes more probable or less; in the extreme, it constrains or forbids absolutely, but it is always a way of acting upon one or more acting subjects by virtue of their acting or being capable of action. A set of actions upon other actions.” In other words, anyone subject to power is free to act, is an acting subject, but the power relationship either subtly or explicitly contains the subject’s possible courses of action. There is freedom in power, because freedom operates within power. [First Monday | Thanks Rob | Michel Foucault, The Subject and Power, 1982 ]

The Problem with Tumblr and Photography.

Webcam Venus.

Clues Suggest Malware Is Moving from PCs to Mobile Devices.

Click by click, Facebook users are building a surprisingly nuanced picture of themselves, even without filling out their social networking profiles. […] Researchers found that they could, for example, correctly guess a man’s sexual orientation 88 percent of the time by analyzing the kinds of TV shows and movies he liked. […] The study even included “like” predictors that could tell whether users’ parents had separated when they were young vs. whether they had not. [Washington Post]

A Discussion With Evgeny Morozov, Silicon Valley’s Fiercest Critic.

The Economics of Spam.

Here we report on the results of an experimental study of the conditions under which coffee spills for various walking speeds and initial liquid levels in the cup. These observations are analyzed from the dynamical systems and fluid mechanics viewpoints as well as with the help of a model developed here. Particularities of the common cup sizes, the coffee properties, and the biomechanics of walking proved to be responsible for the spilling phenomenon. [American Physical Society | Abstract] Mayer and Krechetnikov have found that noise—potentially caused by uneven steps or small jerks of the cup — plays an important role in amplifying the natural oscillations of coffee into a full-blown spill. [American Physical Society | Synopsis]

The paper begins with three individual sports (tennis, golf, and boxing) in which home advantage has been studied. [...] It moves on to individual and team sports in the Olympics, where home advantage has also been studied. [...] Finally, data are presented for two individual efforts embedded in team sports (free throws in basketball and shootouts in ice hockey). [...] Subjectively evaluated sports such as diving, gymnastics, or figure skating usually show sizable and significant home advantages. […] Except for subjectively evaluated sports, home advantage is not a major factor in individual sports, much less does it play a role in individual sports comparable to its role in team sports. [ScienceDirect]

Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Make GPS Work for India.

Why does Starbucks not need my signature on payment receipt when I pay by credit card?

Deep in the belly of New York’s subway system, a beautiful untouched station resides that has been forgotten for years with only a limited few knowing of its existence. [Travelette | More]

If this is how New York’s emissions actually emerged we would see one of these spheres emerge every 0.58 seconds.

He denied that he personally requested a blow job, but said that he told Ashleigh he knew of a magazine where “young ladies can get on the cover if they do some type of sexual favors with the people at the magazine.” The Dark Underbelly of the Miss USA Pageant.

Ukrainian media reported earlier this month that only two of five military-trained dolphins returned to their base. The Ukrainian navy had restarted training dolphins to attack enemy combat swimmers and detect mines. The killer-dolphins would be trained to attack enemy combat swimmers using special knives or pistols fixed to their heads.

Invented in the 1950s by an artificial-intelligence expert, the device is known as the “useless machine.”

Japanese remote-controlled toilet.

This Bubble Wrap iPhone Case Will Keep You Satisfied 365 Days a Year.

Fooling the police with a ‘safety belt T-shirt’ in China.

Larry the Edutainment Gator.

Water & Sound Experiment.

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