All primates, including humans, engage in self-face-touching at very high frequency. The functional purpose or antecedents of this behaviour remain unclear. In this hybrid review we put forth the hypothesis that self-face-touching subserves self-smelling. [...] Although we speculate that self-smelling through self-face-touching is largely an unconscious act, we note that in addition, humans also consciously smell themselves at high frequency. [PsyArXiv]
Each year, about 15% of queries on Google have never been searched for before. Other search engines like Bing will not have the same access to these queries, putting Google in a powerful position of being able to better train its algorithms and provide more accurate search results than its rivals.
Color preference in the insane: In every group of hospital patients examined blue was found to be the most pleasing color. Green was a distant second and red a close third, with violet, yellow and orange fourth, fifth and sixth.
With about a dozen trucks an hour setting off from the avocado belt in Mexico’s western state of Michoacán for the U.S., armed robbers are zeroing in on the fast-growing, multibillion-dollar industry. The rise in avocado-related crime has turned parts of the state into no-go areas even for the police. [...] Until recently, Mexico’s organized crime groups’ main source of revenues from avocados centred around extortion — demands for protection money from farmers. But the sharp fall in the price of Mexican opium paste has forced them to diversify, according to analysts. Increasingly they have started hijacking truckloads of fruit for export. [...] The rise in avocado crime is thus indirectly linked to America’s opioid crisis. Americans’ increased use of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used for pain relief, pushed down the price of heroin, which in turn slashed the price of Mexican opium. [...] Demand for avocados jumps ahead of the Super Bowl, America’s biggest sporting event, with Mexico shipping a record 127,000 tonnes to the U.S. for the occasion. Overall production is rising, hitting 1.09 million tonnes in the 2018-19 season, up nearly 4 per cent from the 1.05 million produced in 2017-18. Exports last season rose 5.4 per cent. Sales to the U.S., the largest importer of Mexican avocados, bring in almost US$2 billion a year, much of it going to smallholders. [Financial Post]
For nearly two decades leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Franklin lived in London in a house at 36 Craven Street. In 1776, Franklin left his English home to come back to America. More than 200 years later, 15 bodies were found in the basement, buried in a secret, windowless room beneath the garden.
How artificial shrimps could change the world (a kilo of farmed shrimp is responsible for almost four times the greenhouse-gas emissions of a kilo of beef, study)
Secret passage dating to 1660 is found inside U.K. parliament. An exclusive walkway once used by royalty was rediscovered inside the landmark building, along with some graffiti from Victorian laborers. [NY Times]
Sun Dayong designs wearable shield to protect against coronavirus outbreaks After an epidemic is contained, he thinks the bat-like shields could be upgraded with Google Glass technology, or simply be used as a "unique private mobile space for people."
Two programmer-musicians wrote every possible MIDI melody in existence to a hard drive, copyrighted the whole thing, and then released it all to the public in an attempt to stop musicians from getting sued. [...] Riehl and Rubin developed an algorithm that recorded every possible 8-note, 12-beat melody combo. This used the same basic tactic some hackers use to guess passwords: Churning through every possible combination of notes until none remained. Riehl says this algorithm works at a rate of 300,000 melodies per second. Once a work is committed to a tangible format, it's considered copyrighted. And in MIDI format, notes are just numbers. "Under copyright law, numbers are facts, and under copyright law, facts either have thin copyright, almost no copyright, or no copyright at all," Riehl explained in the talk. "So maybe if these numbers have existed since the beginning of time and we're just plucking them out, maybe melodies are just math, which is just facts, which is not copyrightable." All of the melodies they've generated, as well as the code for the algorithm that generated them, are available as open-source materials on Github and the datasets are on Internet Archive. [Vice]
Americans spend an average 2.5 days per year searching for lost items and $2.7 billion a year replacing them. [...] Although 40% of Americans believe getting older causes them to forget where they place their valuables and household items, Millennials are generally twice as likely to misplace items over Boomers and a third more likely to lose items compared to Generation X. [PR News Wire]
Curiosity - the drive for information - is often perceived as a dangerous trait. This is exacerbated by the perception that when something is forbidden, curiosity towards it increases. [...] This research demonstrated the so-called "forbidden fruit effect", in which unavailable options elicit curiosity – the desire to know more – even when people were completely aware that the forbidden option did not differ from other options in terms of expected outcome, uncertainty (hidden values), and visual salience. [OSF]
The madman theory is a political theory commonly associated with U.S. President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy. He and his administration tried to make the leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations think Nixon was irrational and volatile. According to the theory, those leaders would then avoid provoking the United States, fearing an unpredictable American response. [Wikipedia]
The author finds that perceived madness is harmful to general deterrence and is sometimes also harmful in crisis bargaining, but may be helpful in crisis bargaining under certain conditions. [British Journal of Political Science]
Cy Twombly, a retrospective, 1994 [PDF]
For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret. The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software. The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican. But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages. [...] “It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. [...] The program had limits. America’s main adversaries, including the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers. [Washington Post]
"Instead of using a short, complex password that is hard to remember, consider using a longer passphrase," the FBI said. "The extra length of a passphrase makes it harder to crack while also making it easier for you to remember."
When privately owned land vanishes under the water, who does it belong to? The problem is a result of the state's rapidly changing landscape. About 80 percent of Louisiana's coast is privately owned. But, under an old law, as coastal erosion and sea level rise turn the land into open water the area becomes property of the state, including the mineral rights underneath. Private landowners have become more adamant about restricting access to water on their property in order to assert their claim to the minerals underneath it. But boaters often have difficulty figuring out where private property ends and public waterways begin. Since 2003, Louisiana law does not require landowners to post signs demarcating their property. The resulting confusion led the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, or BASS, to announce in 2017 that it would no longer host professional fishing tournaments in Louisiana tidal waters, where fishers risk being arrested. [NOLA]
Not all graffiti are written by alienated teenagers, and not all vandalism constitutes wilful damage. Preventing graffiti and vandalism (1990)