International timekeepers added a second to the clock at midnight universal time Saturday, June 30, going into July 1.
The fact that the concept Americans refer to as “karma” exists across so many different cultures seems both nonsensical and reasonable at the same time. On one hand, there is no evidence that karma actually exists. On the other hand, the belief that “what goes around comes around” is clearly one that leads to more cooperation, increased altruism, and a better chance a society will thrive. […] The fact that karma is useful at the community level doesn’t fully explain why it was created and widely accepted. […] Is there something else about karma that makes it appealing to individuals in specific moments of their lives? A new study suggests that there is. [peer-reviewed by my neurons]
I don’t diagnose people I haven’t met. More importantly, I don’t use the diagnosis of sex addiction. In thirty-one years as a sex therapist, marriage counselor, and psychotherapist, I’ve never seen sex addiction. I’ve heard about virtually every sexual variation, obsession, fantasy, trauma, and involvement with sex workers, but I’ve never seen sex addiction. [The Humanist]
Findings from a first-of-its-kind study by Indiana University researchers confirm anecdotal evidence that exercise—absent sex or fantasies—can lead to female orgasm. […] The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting,” Herbenick said. “These data are interesting because they suggest that orgasm is not necessarily a sexual event, and they may also teach us more about the bodily processes underlying women’s experiences of orgasm.” [Psychology Today]
1. Always and inevitably, everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation. 2. The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person. 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons, while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses. 4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular, non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake. [The Guardian]
In the West, plot is commonly thought to revolve around conflict: a confrontation between two or more elements, in which one ultimately dominates the other. The standard three- and five-act plot structures—which permeate Western media—have conflict written into their very foundations. A “problem” appears near the end of the first act; and, in the second act, the conflict generated by this problem takes center stage. Conflict is used to create reader involvement even by many post-modern writers, whose work otherwise defies traditional structure. The necessity of conflict is preached as a kind of dogma by contemporary writers’ workshops and Internet “guides” to writing. […] For countless centuries, Chinese and Japanese writers have used a plot structure that does not have conflict “built in,” so to speak. Rather, it relies on exposition and contrast to generate interest. This structure is known as kish?tenketsu. Kish?tenketsu contains four acts: introduction, development, twist and reconciliation. [still eating oranges]
How does the brain decide between actions? Is it through comparisons of abstract representations of outcomes or through a competition in a sensorimotor map defining the actions themselves? [Neural Mechanisms for Interacting with a World Full of Action Choices | via Thoughts on Thoughts]
Manufacturers all have their own recipes for creating their fireworks; but the basic chemistry behind is the same for any ?reworks. [Basal Science Clarified]
Psychiatrists used to say that personality never changes. […] Recent years have revealed a more liberating picture. Rather than being set in stone, qualities and traits evolve (often subtly) over time. Research shows that you aren’t likely to be the same person at 90 as you were at 19. […] Typically, we become more introverted and more emotionally stable when progressing into older age (from 65+). Crucially, an average retired person is more ‘agreeable’ than either a young or middle-aged adult: they are more likely to be empathetic, considerate, friendly, generous, and helpful. […] A large ‘quality of life’ survey performed in the UK and USA looked at the mental and physical well-being of 10,000 men and women. Comparing the differences between younger and older adults – physical health is worse after the age of 60 (no surprises there), but, mental wellbeing actually improves. [Doctor Stu’s Blog]
In Namibia of southwestern Africa, the sparse grasslands that develop on deep sandy soils under rainfall between 50 and 100 mm per annum are punctuated by thousands of quasi-circular bare spots, usually surrounded by a ring of taller grass. The causes of these so-called “fairy circles” are unknown, although a number of hypotheses have been proposed. This paper provides a more complete description of the variation in size, density and attributes of fairy circles in a range of soil types and situations. Circles are not permanent; their vegetative and physical attributes allow them to be arranged into a life history sequence in which circles appear (birth), develop (mature) and become revegetated (die). Occasionally, they also enlarge. The appearance and disappearance of circles was confirmed from satellite images taken 4 years apart (2004, 2008). [PLoS One]
Destroying neurons is not difficult. Destroying specific neurons, but leaving others intact is another story. Ablating specific neurons usually involves fancy genetic trickery, but it can also be accomplished with fancy mechanical lasers. [The Cellular Scale]
…a bizarre affliction that has been widely reported in the media to affect around a dozen of the approximately one million Japanese tourists who visit Paris each year. Paris Syndrome is said to occur when a combination of factors leave tourists with a particularly severe case of culture shock. [Neurobonkers]
When a romantic relationship isn’t going well it seems like it influences everything in life. This brings up a slew of interesting questions. What is the exact nature of a relationship’s influence on unrelated decisions? How might different kinds of relationship troubles influence people in different ways? For example, in what ways do you behave differently when you’re considering breaking up your significant other as opposed to when you feel like they’re considering breaking up with you? […] The researchers found that feeling as though your partner was the reason for incompatibility led people to become “promotion focused” – a psychological orientation where the tendency is to be motivated by gains, growth, and not missing out on positive outcomes. On other hand, when people felt that they were the reason for the incompatibility, it led to a “prevention focus” — an orientation where the tendency to is to be motivated by the need to maintain responsibilities and avoid negative outcomes. [ peer-reviewed by my neurons]
According to the evolutionary physiologist and geographer Jared Diamond, there are six criteria that animals must meet for domestication. [Life’s Little Mysteries]
Chemical giant Monsanto has partnered with the Gates Foundation, which reportedly works to suppress local seed exchanges and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices through its global agricultural charity work. Fraud-prone drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is a partner in the Foundation’s work to leverage its own relatively fractional contribution to vaccination efforts, so that it centrally controls enormous world funds for purchase, pricing, and delivery of vaccines for world public health. […] The Gates Foundation, and Gates personally, also own stock and reap profits from many of these same partner corporations. In addition, the Foundation owns a profit-generating portfolio of stocks which would seem to work against the Foundation’s declared missions, such as the Latin American Coca-Cola FEMSA distributorship and five multinational oil giants operating in Nigeria. These corporate investments, now moved to a blind trust whose trustees are Bill and Melinda Gates, are collaterally supported by the Foundation’s tax-free lobbying and advocacy activities. [Education Week]
The FBI and national cybercrime agencies are warning people traveling abroad to be wary of shady scammers planting malware via insecure hotel Internet connections. The Internet Crime Complaint Center notes that malware perpetrators are masking their cybercrime weapons as popup software updates travelers see when setting up their Internet connections. [Laptop]
CBS Reporter Lara Logan thought she was going to die in Tahrir Square when she was sexually assaulted by a mob on the night that Hosni Mubarak’s government fell in Cairo. [NY Times]
LiveScience has a spectacularly bad article that covers the toxicology results of Rudy Eugene, the ‘Miami cannibal’ who was immediately labelled as being high on ‘bath salts‘ and was predictably, not high on bath salts.
According to this study, information gleaned from interrogational torture is very likely to be unreliable, and when torture techniques are employed, they are likely to be used too frequently and too harshly.
Reflections on 10 Years of Countering Terrorism. [CIA.gov]
Playing cards, used for games and magic, are so familiar, yet we know remarkably little about the way we perceive and think about them. Are some cards more memorable than others? Are some easier to identify?
Book apps for tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading. Retailers and some publishers are beginning to sift through the data, gaining unprecedented insight into how people engage with books.
Two students swallowed 35mm film. After “collecting” the slides in a dark room, they fixed the silver and scanned the film with an electron microscope. [Gizmodo]