This year, Paul Aronson, an 84-year-old from Manhattan, contacted a 17-year-old girl, Shaina Foster, through the site and took her out to dinner. On a second date, Ms. Foster brought along her twin sister, Shalaine. [NY Times]
[P]eople who are depressed display some surprising advantages in their thinking skills. Depressed people: 1. process information more deeply. 2. are more accurate at complex tasks. 3. make better judgements on detail-oriented information. 4. make more accurate cost-benefit analyses. The researchers developed a new questionnaire which measures ‘analytical rumination’, a mental process which is thought to be an ancient defence mechanism and the root of depression. Analytical rumination is where people turn problems over in their heads to the exclusion of all else, trying to look for a solution. They first examine the problem’s cause, then the things that need solving, any possible solutions plus the costs and benefits of each solution. The symptoms of depression, which often include lethargy, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration and disinterest in other people or the external world, may actually be ways of saving energy while a person is focusing on the problem. [PsyBlog]
Experimental and Field Evidence that Morality and a Sense of Humor are Psychologically Incompatible [PDF]
Researchers in the US have used electrical brain stimulation to boost the vigilance of sleep-deprived military personnel working on an airforce base. Experiments on 18- to 42-year old men and women on active duty found that half an hour of electrical brain stimulation improved their performance twice as much as caffeine, and the effect lasted three times as long. [The Guardian | via gettingsome]
The malware, called “Regin”, is probably run by a western intelligence agency and in some respects is more advanced in engineering terms than Stuxnet. […] Symantec said it was not yet clear how Regin infected systems but it had been deployed against internet service providers and telecoms companies mainly in Russia and Saudi Arabia as well as Mexico, Ireland and Iran. […] “Nothing else comes close to this?.?.?.?nothing else we look at compares,” said Orla Cox, director of security response at Symantec, who described Regin as one of the most “extraordinary” pieces of hacking software developed, and probably “months or years in the making”. […] “Sometimes there is virtually nothing left behind – no clues. Sometimes an infection can disappear completely almost as soon as you start looking at it, it’s gone. That shows you what you are dealing with.” [FT]
When Apple announced the iPhone 6 this September, it didn’t have a sapphire screen, only a regular glass one. And a month later, the small New Hampshire-based company chosen to supply Apple with enormous quantities of cheap sapphire, GT Advanced Technologies, declared bankruptcy. The terms Apple negotiated committed GT to supplying a huge amount of sapphire, but put Apple under no obligation to buy it.
The police do not do trauma clean-up. Neither do firefighters or ambulance crews or emergency services. Instead, hired hands like Sandra handle the clean-up at crime scenes, deaths, floods and fires.
Ivan Pavlov is best known as a founding figure of behaviorism who trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell. […] Pavlov didn’t use a bell, and for his real scientific purposes, couldn’t. English-speakers think he did because of a mistranslation of the Russian word for zvonok (buzzer). […] Although one would expect that this investigator of reflexive reactions would think otherwise, he believed in free will. […] He didn’t win his Nobel Prize (1904) for research on conditional reflexes, but rather for his studies of digestive physiology. [Oxford University Press | More: New Yorker]
When I started life Hegelianism was the basis of everything: it was in the air, found expression in magazine and newspaper articles, in novels and essays, in art, in histories, in sermons, and in conversation. A man unacquainted with Hegel had no right to speak: he who wished to know the truth studied Hegel. Everything rested on him; and suddenly forty years have gone by and there is nothing left of him, he is not even mentioned – as though he had never existed. And what is most remarkable is that, like pseudo-Christianity, Hegelianism fell not because anyone refuted it, but because it suddenly became evident that neither the one nor the other was needed by our learned, educated world. [Leon Tolstoy, What then must we do?, 1886 | PDF]
Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor, known as the “Farewell” Symphony, was composed by Joseph Haydn and dated 1772. […] During the final adagio each musician stops playing, snuffs out the candle on his music stand, and leaves in turn, so that at the end, there are just two muted violins left. [Wikipedia]