Triple-Decker Weekly, 108

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

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

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

First direct evidence for human sex pheromones

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

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

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

Fetus Uses Left Hand When Mother Is Stressed, Study

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

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

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

Sperm size and shape in young men affected by cannabis use

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

Your Blood Type is a Lot More Complicated Than You Think

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

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

Jesus and Virgin Mary spotted on Google Earth pic

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

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

10 Lazy Ways to Appear Smarter

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

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

Do Rats Know When They Don’t Know?

Chimps Best Humans at Game Theory

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

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

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

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

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

University College London’s Nietzsche Club Is Banned

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

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

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

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

NSA’s advice on passwords

The Reverse Yelp: Restaurants Can Now Review Customers, Too

Why English Eggs Are Way Different From American Ones

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

Your life in weeks

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

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

Severed horse head pillow

Google Logo Update

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