“I love nick [Brooks], but he wasn’t good for me. . . he holds me back. I’m always sad with him. He’s 24 for f sake . . . he wants porn sex! He wants to b drunk or stoned all the time . . . he doesn’t have any goals and stops me from mine.” […] The elder Brooks killed himself with a mail-order helium-tank suicide kit in 2011 at his Upper East Side apartment. He was under indictment for drugging and sexually assaulting 13 starlets during “auditions” for nonexistent films. [NY Post]
A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines. [10 News]
“Hasse” which was known in Ystad tavern circles, had a total of 146 wasp stings on the body including 54 on the genitals. He was so bloated that a neighbor thought it was a whale carcass lying on the lawn. [...] The autopsy and scene investigation revealed that “Hasse” tried to have sex with the wasp nest. They found semen on some of the dead wasps and a couple of “Hasse” pubic hair in the entrance of the nest. [...] Angry animal rights activists have reacted strongly to the event. [News Sweden | Thanks GG]
Swaziland may in fact be the only country to have ever attempted to regulate witch air traffic. The new legislation stipulates that witches on broomsticks flying over Swaziland may not fly higher than 150 meters.
A Manhattan fortune teller will be jailed for a year after taking more than $650,000 in cash from an Upper East Side woman by promising to “cleanse” the money. Swindling soothsayer Janet Miller, 39, also tricked the wealthy victim into turning over paintings and jewelry as “sacrifices” to keep the devil away, and even conned her into buying and handing over a couple of Rolexes — all to exterminate “bad energy,” Manhattan prosecutors charged. [NY Post]
You cannot be detained, arrested, or fined for going topless in public in New York. Earlier this year, the Do Not Arrest Topless Women memo was read aloud at NYPD roll calls for 10 straight days. [Thanks GG]
Max Planck’s conception of progress in science: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” [Theory, Evolution and Games Group]
There is no scientific evidence that psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are valid or useful, according to the leading body representing Britain’s clinical psychologists. In a groundbreaking move that has already prompted a fierce backlash from psychiatrists, the British Psychological Society’s division of clinical psychology (DCP) will on Monday issue a statement declaring that, given the lack of evidence, it is time for a “paradigm shift” in how the issues of mental health are understood. The statement effectively casts doubt on psychiatry’s predominantly biomedical model of mental distress – the idea that people are suffering from illnesses that are treatable by doctors using drugs. Dr Lucy Johnstone, a consultant clinical psychologist who helped draw up the DCP’s statement, said it was unhelpful to see mental health issues as illnesses with biological causes. “On the contrary, there is now overwhelming evidence that people break down as a result of a complex mix of social and psychological circumstances – bereavement and loss, poverty and discrimination, trauma and abuse,” Johnstone said. The provocative statement by the DCP has been timed to come out shortly before the release of DSM-5, the fifth edition of the American Psychiatry Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The manual has been attacked for expanding the range of mental health issues that are classified as disorders. [The Observer]
Every cell in our bodies runs on a 24-hour clock, tuned to the night-day, light-dark cycles that have ruled us since the dawn of humanity. The brain acts as timekeeper, keeping the cellular clock in sync with the outside world so that it can govern our appetites, sleep, moods, and much more. But new research shows that the clock may be broken in the brains of people with depression—even at the level of the gene activity inside their brain cells. It’s the first direct evidence of altered circadian rhythms in the brain of people with depression, and shows that they operate out of sync with the usual ingrained daily cycle. […] In severely depressed patients, the circadian clock was so disrupted that a patient’s “day” pattern of gene activity could look like a “night” pattern—and vice versa. [Futurity | Thanks Tim]
There was no WiFi switched on during the experiment, and the headband antenna was a sham. Yet 82 of the 147 subjects—more than half—reported symptoms.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that brains can produce rather complex behavior without consciousness. Studies in humans show that we perform so much of our complex behavior unconsciously – from driving a car to investing our savings. There’s every reason to believe that most – if not all – non-human animal behavior we see could be being produced by an otherwise intelligent mind that is not producing subjective experiences of its own decision making processes. […] Just because an animal behaves like a human, does this mean we should assume its mind functions in the same way? […] Banana-reaching via unconscious thought for the chimpanzee […] a computer might also be able to solve this problem, but we don’t suggest that computers are conscious. One of the main problems we’re dealing with here is that science does not really have a good definition of consciousness. Yes, it’s some form of subjective experience, but it might come in a variety of forms, and thus animals might be conscious in different ways to humans. […] Scientists have given dolphins the mirror self recognition (MSR) test. Having some kind of awareness of oneself – whether it’s awareness of one’s body or of one’s own mind – is certainly linked to the idea of consciousness. For these tests, dolphins were marked with a kind of dye on their bodies, and if they then swam over to inspect the mark in a mirror, we could conclude that the dolphins must know that it’s themselves they are seeing in the mirror. This then is some kind of self awareness. […] The problem is that being able to recognize one’s body in the mirror (that is, recognizing an external representation of one’s body) might not be the same thing as having a representation of one’s own mind (i.e., a sense of self). So passing the MSR test might not even be a sure test of self-awareness, let alone subjective experience. [Justin Gregg]
After a test showed that Kathleen didn’t have the BRCA breast cancer gene, her surgeon, Dr. Sonya Sharpless, suggested that environmental factors might be implicated. [...] Did a lifetime of using cosmetics cause or contribute to Kathleen’s breast cancer? We don’t know. But here are some facts that every American woman and her loved ones should absorb. The European Union bans nearly 1,400 chemicals from personal care products because they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to reproduction. But in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration entrusts safety regulation of cosmetics to a private entity that is housed and funded by the industry’s trade association. To date, this entity has found only eleven chemicals to be “unsafe for use in cosmetics.” The FDA has no oversight of cosmetics products before they come on the market and, unlike the EU, leaves it to the cosmetics industry to determine which ingredients should be banned. [The Investigative Fund]
In February 2012, a number of hedge fund traders noted one particular index–CDX IG 9–that seemed to be underpriced. It seemed to be cheaper to buy credit default protection on the 125 companies that made the index by buying the index than by buying protection on the 125 companies one by one. This was an obvious short-term moneymaking opportunity: Buy the index, sell its component short, in short order either the index will rise or the components will fall in value, and then you will be able to quickly close out your position with a large profit. But February passed, and March passed, and April rolled in, and the gap between the price of CDX IG 9 and what the hedge fund traders thought it should be grew. And their bosses asked them questions, like: “Shouldn’t this trade have converged by now?” “Have you missed something?” […] So the hedge fund traders began asking who their counterparty was. It seemed that they all had the same counterparty. And so they began calling their counterparty “the London Whale.” They kept buying. And the London Whale kept selling. And so they had no opportunity to even begin to liquidate their positions and their mark-to-market losses grew, and the risk they had exposed their firms to grew. So they got annoyed. And they went public, hoping that they could induce the bosses of the London Whale to force him to unwind his possession, in which case they would profit immensely not just when the value of CDX IG 9 returned to its fundamental but by price pressure as the London Whale had to find people to transact with. And so we had ‘London Whale’ Rattles Debt Market, and similar stories. The London Whale was Bruno Iksil [a trader working for the London office of JPMorgan Chase]. He had been losing, and rolling double or nothing, and losing again for months. His boss, Ina Drew, took a look at his positions. They found they had a choice: they could hold the portfolio and thus go all-in, or they could fold. They could hold CDX IG 9 until maturity–make a fortune if a fewer-than-expected number of its 125 companies went bankrupt, and lose J.P. Morgan Chase entirely to bankruptcy if more did. Or they could take their $6 billion loss and go home. What could they do if the bet went wrong and they had to eat losses at maturity? J.P. Morgan Chase couldn’t print money. So Drew stood Iksil down, and the hedge fund traders had their happy ending. […] “Why did the interest rate on the Ten-Year Treasury peak at 4%? And why has it gone down since then? And why won’t it go back to its 5%-7% fundamental.” And they looked around. And they found Ben Bernanke. The Washington Super-Whale. […] From my perspective, of course, the hedge fundies’ analogy between the London Whale and the Washington Super-Whale is all wrong. [Brad DeLong]
Acxiom knows where you live, where you shop and what you like to do. But it’s not quite the evil data monolith you might expect. A peek inside one of the world’s largest data brokers.
Exploring the Boundaries of Photo Editing. Even top news photographers have their work digitally enhanced these days. Mounting competition in the market for news images is forcing photo-journalists to make their output as dramatic as possible.
Terahertz image reveals Goya’s hidden signature in old painting. Terahertz radiation occupies the part of the electromagnetic spectrum between the infrared and the microwave.
When Latin lost many of its inflectional exponents and morphed into what is now modern French, the pronouns of Latin, which were used for emphasis only, became obligatory. [Frontiers]
The Romance languages are all the related languages derived from Vulgar Latin. In 2007, the five most widely spoken Romance languages by number of native speakers were Spanish (385 million), Portuguese (210 million), French (75 million), Italian (60 million), and Romanian (23 million). The Romance languages developed from Latin in the sixth to ninth centuries. [Wikipedia]
Too much media is going to turn out like too many calories. No one who asks tough questions will ever get “access.” The news media is even worse than you think. 5 corrupting influences are keeping the public from the facts.