Triple-Decker Weekly

Why is the letter Z associated with sleep?

New coating technology promises self-cleaning cars.

Smoking Banned Inside Santa Monica Residences.

Mating can be dangerous. At least 100 years ago, biologists began to speculate that sex in the animal kingdom could be a very risky business. The noises can attract predators, the male is distracted and he has less energy to fight off an attacker or to run away. Perhaps that is why males almost always attempt to finish so quickly. [LA Times]

Women in love less likely to initiate sex, finds study.

The rise in women seeking a perfect vagina.

Men’s friendships with women ‘driven by sexual attraction.’

Two Myths and Three Facts About the Differences in Men and Women’s Brains.

Part of the mythology of love promises that loving couples will always want and enjoy sex together, unproblematically, freely and loyally. But most people know that couples are multi-faceted partnerships, sex together being only one facet, and that those involved very often tire of sex with each other. [Jacobin]

Throughout the past several decades, the United States has seen a steady increase in women’s status. Overt sexism is on the decline and women are becoming increasingly well represented in prestigious, high-paying jobs. Despite these welcome improvements, many gender-typed norms related to heterosexual courtship and marriage have remained remarkably stable over time. For example, it is relatively rare for women to propose marriage to men. In addition, the majority of women still take their husband’s last name upon marriage, whereas few men consider taking their wife’s last name. People typically adhere to marriage-related norms in the name of tradition or romance. However, there is also reason to believe that these norms are subtle manifestations of sexism within heterosexual romantic relationships. In the present study, we sought to establish an empirical connection between women’s and men’s marriage- tradition preferences and their level of sexism. We began by examining participants’ personal preferences regarding marriage proposals and marital name changes. We then tested whether endorsing benevolent sexism was predictive of holding traditional marriage preferences. [Journal of Adolescent Research | PDF]

Arousal, the researchers contend, actually affects our perception of time. […] Those exposed to sexually charged imagery (versus those in a control group exposed to nature images) were found to be more impatient and expressed that future discounts would have to be steeper to compensate for the time delay. [EurekAlert]

Despite being commonly experienced, the mechanisms behind distortions of the passage of time are underresearched and, as a result, poorly understood. Anecdotal accounts imply that our experience of time is influenced by our emotions and the activities we engage in: ‘time flies when you’re having fun’, but not when an car is hurtling towards you. It is not only enjoyment and fear that affect how quickly time appears to be passing: other alterations in subjective consciousness have similar effects. The consumption of drugs and alcohol has long been known to warp time experiences. [The Psychologist]

Smeesters published a different study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggesting that even manipulating colors such as blue and red can make us bend one way or another. Except that apparently none of it is true. [Time]

The ability to be hypnotized seems to be a distinct trait that is distributed among the population, like height or shoe size, in a “bell curve” or normal distribution: a minority of people cannot engage with any suggestions, a minority can engage with almost all, and most people can achieve a few. [Observer]

Study shows the reasons why people find logic in magical rituals.

Psychopaths often exude charm and charisma, making them compelling, likable, and believable during interviews. They can display a sense of humor and be pleasant to talk with. Their charm allows them to feign concern and emotion, even crying while they profess their innocence. Because it is in their best interest, throughout their lives they have convinced people that they have normal emotions. If they perceive that their charm is not working, it quickly will vanish, being replaced by a more aggressive or abrasive approach. Interviewers are inclined to lecture or scold the psychopath; however, these strategies likely will not work. [FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin]

Research on speech acoustics indicated that psychopaths do not differentiate in voice emphasis between neutral and emotional words. Other analysis suggested that the speech narratives of these individuals are organized poorly and incoherent. This is surprising because psychopaths are excellent storytellers who successfully con others. This finding leads to the interesting question of how psychopaths can have such manipulative prowess. In addition to their skilled use of body language, recent research indicated that they are skilled at faking emotional expressions, approaching the skill level of emotionally intelligent individuals, despite being largely devoid of emotion. They are capable of adopting various masks, appearing empathetic and remorseful to the extent that they can talk and cry their way out of parole hearings at a higher rate than their less dangerous counterparts. [FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin]

Tween texting may lead to poor grammar skills.

Why Computers Still Can’t Translate Languages Automatically.

Psychology of Corruption.

He concocted an astroturf outrage campaign to publicize the screen adaptation of his client Tucker Max’s book I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. He bought billboards and defaced them with stickers saying Max “deserved to have his dick caught in a trap with sharp metal hooks. Or something like that.”; he used fake email accounts to send angry emails about the movie to college progressive organizations; he started a boycott group on Facebook; he started fake blogs reporting false stories about his client’s “outrageous behavior.” [Das Krapital]

On Reuters, he became the poster child for “Generation Yikes.” On ABC News, he was one of a new breed of long-suffering insomniacs. At CBS, he made up an embarrassing office story, at MSNBC he pretended someone sneezed on him while working at Burger King. At Manitouboats.com, he offered helpful tips for winterizing your boat. The capstone came in the form of a New York Times piece on vinyl records — naturally, Holiday doesn’t collect vinyl records. [Forbes]

When you walk through the self-help aisle of any bookstore, you are likely to see plenty of books based on the notion that positive thinking is the key to getting what you want. The message is clear: if you want to achieve something, just keep telling yourself “I can!” and envision yourself accomplishing your goals. Success will surely come your way. Not so, says years of psychological research. Certain kinds of positive thoughts, known in the research as fantasies, can actually be detrimental to performance. [Psych Your Mind]

Cinderella Castle is the worldwide-recognized icon of the Disney empire. Physical representations of it stand at the center of two Disney Parks: Walt Disney World in Florida, and Tokyo Disneyland. Assuming it were an actual fortress, how would you take it? A ground must be chosen in which you can quickly secure a foothold into the Magic Kingdom. This position must be easily accessible for the invasion force, provide cover and concealment for the troops and give strategic advantage once taken while depriving the enemy of the same. For this mission, I choose the area outside the tracks, between Tomorrowland and Main Street USA. Consideration must be taken to ensure we are not spotted by the monorail. [Jonathan Kirk Davis, Sergeant of Marines/Quora]

“Morphologically, we’ve built a jellyfish. Functionally, we’ve built a jellyfish. Genetically, this thing is a rat.” [Nature | NERS/Discover]

‘Many scientists don’t like to talk about shark sex.’ […] In as far as we understand the subject – only a few species have been observed mating – the business is ‘very rough’. Larger male sharks have to bite or trap the females to keep them around during courtship; marine biologists can tell when a female has been mating because her skin will be raw or bleeding. The process is so violent that, come the mating season, female nurse sharks will stay in shallow water with their reproductive openings pressed firmly to the sea floor. Otherwise they risk falling prey to roaming bands of males who ‘will take turns inserting their claspers in her’ (the clasper is the shark version of a penis, found in a pair behind the pelvic fins). A litter of fifty pups will have anything from two to seven fathers. But the reproductive story gets rougher still. A number of shark species go in for oophagy, or uterine cannibalism. Sand tiger foetuses ‘eat each other in utero, acting out the harshest form of sibling rivalry imaginable’. Only two babies emerge, one from each of the mother shark’s uteruses: the survivors have eaten everything else. [London Review of Books]

Termites explode to defend their colonies.

Worldwide, there are about 6,000 mammal species, each with its own unique milk, but Americans get at least 97 percent of all our dairy products from one animal. (That would be the cow.)

We recorded the flight tracks of pigeons with previous homing experience equipped with a GPS data logger and released from an unfamiliar location with the right or the left nostril occluded. The analysis of the tracks revealed that the flight path of the birds with the right nostril occluded was more tortuous than that of unmanipulated controls. Moreover, the pigeons smelling with the left nostril interrupted their journey significantly more frequently and displayed more exploratory activity than the control birds, e.g. during flights around a stopover site. […] Democracies would be better off if they chose some of their politicians at random. That’s the word, mathematically obtained, from the Catanians’ extension of their random research, using insights they gleaned from the much earlier stupidity work by Cipolla. Parliamentary voting behavior echoes, in a surprisingly detailed mathematical sense. Cipolla had sketched this in the “Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.” [Annals of Improbable Research]

Self-citing is often frowned upon, being considered (and sometimes is) vanity, egotism or an attempt in self-advertising. However, everyone self-cite because sooner or later, everyone builds upon previous findings. “Given the cumulative nature of the production of new knowledge, self-citations constitute a natural part of the communication process.” [Scientific American]

Study finds fastest growing cities not the most prosperous.

Rates are at historic lows of 3.53% for 30-year mortgages. Rents are at record levels all over the country, hitting highs in 74 markets tracked by real-estate-data provider Reis Inc. And housing prices appear to have finally begun increasing, with gains posted for three months in a row according to the index put out by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. So why aren’t more Americans buying houses? The answer to that is rather complex, but one major factor is that trade-up buyers — folks who upgrade from smaller, cheaper “starter homes” to pricier properties, and who classically are a pumping piston in the engine that drives the housing market — are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to trade up right now. This key segment of the market is especially likely to be “equity poor.” [Time]

Numerous Top Bankers Call for Break Up of Giant Banks.

The two Chinatown women executed two weeks ago may have ripped off nearly $100,000 from Chinese thugs, law-enforcement sources believe. Police sources believe the victims were part of a “key club” — a sort of underground banking system.

In general, the more different is the new environment from the old, the better it is to start over. Rigid things are fragile, in that they break when you try to bend them far. This suggests that designed systems tend to get irreversibly fragile as they adapt to specific environments. When context changes greatly, it is usually easier to build new systems from “scratch,” than to un-adapt systems designed for other contexts. Software tends to “rot“, for example. […] We are great at learning languages when young, and terrible when old. We are similarly receptive when young to new ways to categorize and conceive of things, but once we have often used particular ways, we find it harder to understand and use alternatives. The brains of most animals peak in functionality during their key reproductive years, and do worse both before and after. Short lived animals peak sooner than long lived animals. Some of the early rise is due to learning, and some of later decline is due to the decline of individual cells and connections. Some of this pattern may even be due to an explicit plan to turn up some dials on plasticity early on, and then turn down those dials later. But I think another important part of this rise and fall is due to a general robust tendency for adapted systems to slide from plasticity to rigidity. [Overcoming Bias]

Every sect of Buddhism maintains that it is a religion of compassion and nonviolence. Throughout its history, however, Buddhism has occasionally been embroiled in warfare and military campaigns. Zen Buddhism in particular has managed to find its way into various military arts. From its incorporation into the Shaolin Monastery and the impact on the Japanese samurai to its absorption into the curriculum of several martial arts, Zen and fighting have come to be seen as closely related. This is due to certain characteristics of its doctrine as well as its practice. In fact, fighting is not entirely absent from Zen texts and literature. There are stories and k?ans which depict amputations, encounters between samurai, or some kind of confrontation. Fighting, in the sense of an inner struggle is also present. […] The objective of this examination is to draw parallels between Zen meditation and martial arts training and explore the reasons why Zen’s core philosophical doctrine and meditative practice can be integrated seamlessly into the martial arts. [SSRN]

Confucianism is not a conceptual monolith but rather has a variety of traditions, versions and forms including imperial, reform, elite, merchant-house, and mass Confucianism. Just as Confucianism is multidimensional, democracy is also multifaceted including liberal, developmental, social, deliberative, and republican conceptions of democracy.The relationships between democracy and Confucianism therefore must be multiple and complex. [SSRN]

Never before in human history have so many people been on the move […] airfare, new technologies […] space and time have never been so compressed. […] Migrants are no longer just ‘migrants’ but have become ‘transnationals’ maintaining links between their country of origin, their current country, and, not unusually, other countries where they have spent time. […] Qureshi starts with the observation that, according to the literature, Pakistanis in Britain have “developed a ‘transnational ethnic world’ that is continually reproduced through longdistance phone calls, frequent return visits and holidays, the consumption of circulating goods and media products, exchanges of gifts, philanthropic investments in schools, hospitals and humanitarian projects in Pakistan and so forth.” […] Their lack of financial resources has tied them to London and has made practices of transnationalism difficult: for instance, ‘cheap’ airfares are not ‘cheap’ to them but involve years of budgeting ahead and borrowing; their disability coupled with the fact that Pakistanis back home see them as ‘rich’ and expect bribes and presents at every turn, makes movement in Pakistan difficult and unpleasant for them; and, phone cards, the so-called ‘social glue’ of transnationalism, have to be carefully rationed. [Language on the move]

Aristotle distinguished between two varieties of infinity. One of them he called a potential infinity: this is the type of infinity that characterizes an unending Universe or an unending list, for example the natural numbers 1,2,3,4,5,…, which go on forever. These are lists or expanses that have no end or boundary: you can never reach the end of all numbers by listing them, or the end of an unending universe by traveling in a spaceship. […] Aristotle distinguished potential infinities from what he called actual infinities. These would be something you could measure, something local, for example the density of a solid, or the brightness of a light, or the temperature of an object, becoming infinite at a particular place or time. You would be able to encounter this infinity locally in the Universe. Aristotle banned actual infinities: he said they couldn’t exist. […] But in the world of mathematics things changed towards the end of the 19th century when the mathematician Georg Cantor developed a more subtle way of defining mathematical infinities. Cantor recognised that there was a smallest type of infinity: the unending list of natural numbers 1,2,3,4,5, … . He called this a countable infinity. […] This idea had some funny consequences. For example, the list of all even numbers is also a countable infinity. Intuitively you might think there are only half as many even numbers as natural numbers because that would be true for a finite list. But when the list becomes unending that is no longer true. [Plus]

Why Thinking of Others Improves Our Creativity.

Are we really at our most miserable at the start of the week, as the Blue Monday myth suggests? A new study conducted in the US claims not.

City’s drug patterns written in sewage. Drug testers sifting through raw sewage in 19 European cities found the highest cocaine use in Antwerp, a Nordic preference for methamphetamines and Amsterdam unsurprisingly leading in cannabis use.

Hepatitis C can now be totally cured by new nanoparticle.

The Rabies Virus Remains a Medical Mystery.

Ice is an enigmatic, complex substance that continues to puzzle researchers.

A new measure of arrogance, developed by researchers at the University of Akron and Michigan State University, can help organizations identify arrogant managers before they have a costly and damaging impact.

How to Make Your Password So Secret, Even *You* Don’t Know It.

The first issue came out in February 1992. Its appearance prompted Julie Burchill to congratulate Ingrams on “producing the most pathetic magazine ever published.”

List of Authors Whose Copyrights Have Expired. [Thanks Fette]

Shakespeare insult kit.

The world’s first 3D-printed gun.

iPad painting App for cats invented by US company.

Unboxing the Statue of Liberty, 1885.

Hugh Crawford, Address Book Project, 1979-84.

London Olympics. Gov. Romney and Mrs. Ann Romney cheer on Michael Phelps.