Triple-Decker Weekly

The first thing to understand is that if you are still alive five minutes after a small nuclear weapon detonates, you are already very likely to survive. [Jason Lefkowitz]

Does it seem plausible that education serves (in whole or part) as a signal of ability rather than simply a means to enhance productivity? (...) Many MIT students will be hired by consulting firms that have no use for any of these skills. Why do these consulting firms recruit at MIT, not at Hampshire College, which produces many students with no engineering or computer science skills (let alone, knowledge of signaling models)? Why did you choose MIT over your state university that probably costs one-third as much? [David Autor/MIT | PDF]

What would we do if we encountered an alien race? From astronomers to ufologists to anthropologists, scholars who have contemplated the various “contact scenarios” believe our course of action would strongly depend on the relative intelligence level of the newfound beings. [LiveScience]

Alien Abductions May Be Vivid Dreams, Study Shows. [Life's Little Mysteries]

For roughly 65 years—say, from 1933 to 1998—the initial public offering was the engine of American capitalism. Entrepreneurs sold shares to investors and used the proceeds to build their young companies or invest in the future. That was a useful function, but it’s one that IPOs no longer serve. [Wired]

Family income is associated with student achievement, but careful studies show little causal connection.  School factors – teacher quality, school accountability, school choice – have bigger causal impacts than family income per se, according to a new analysis. [EducationNext]

Conventional wisdom tells us that in the business world, "you are who you know" — your social background and professional networks outweigh talent when it comes to career success. But according to a Tel Aviv University researcher, making the right connection only gets your foot in the door. Your future success is entirely up to you. (…) When intelligence and socio-economic background are pitted directly against one another, intelligence is a more accurate predictor of future career success. [American Friends of Tel Aviv University]

fMRI is already a 3D technique, of course, but in the case of the cerebral cortex - which is what the great majority of neuroscientists are most interested in - the 3D data are effectively just 2D images folded up in space. (…) In a new paper, Minnesota neuroscientists Olman et al say that they've given fMRI a  third dimension. [Neuroskeptic]

functional MRI (fMRI) is an MRI procedure that measures brain activity by detecting associated changes in blood flow. [Wikipedia]

It’s been a long time coming, but last night it happened: one of the greatest hackers of the 20th Century (or was it just his doppelganger?) went up against Anonymous, greatest hacktivist collective of the 21st Century. [The Daily Dot]

Some people are born without the ability to experience pain. [Psych Your Mind]

I’ve heard a few stories, over the years, of what happens when collectors who own art try to sell that art through a gallery. In the first instance, the gallery is always very bullish, and promises to sell it for a high price at a modest commission. But then it somehow never sells, and the consignor becomes increasingly desperate, and eventually accepts a sum of money from the gallery which is a mere fraction of the amount originally mooted. [Felix Salmon/Reuters]

The fact that creativity can be stimulated by drugs and travel also suggests to me a general aspect. No one ever says, if you want to master calculus take a trip but this does work if you are blocked on some types of creative projects. [Marginal Revolution]

Who made and launched Stuxnet in the first place? Richard Clarke tells me he knows the answer. [Smithsonian]

The major investors in the diamond mines realized that they had no alternative but to merge their interests into a single entity that would be powerful enough to control production and perpetuate the illusion of scarcity of diamonds. [The Atlantic ]

Weill wasn’t the first or the last Wall Streeter to deal with the pressures of high finance through the performance-enhancing highs of cocaine or with plenty of other stimulants. Just six years earlier, one of the Street’s best-known, self-made stars, Wardell Lazard, the head of his own investment firm, died naked and alone in a Pittsburgh hotel from an overdose of vodka and cocaine, just two weeks before his 45th birthday. [The Fix]

We are still living under the reign of logic: this, of course, is what I have been driving at. But in this day and age logical methods are applicable only to solving problems of secondary interest. [André Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism, 1924]

Surrealism was fueled by a romantic impulse. It emphasized the new against the dictates of tradition, the intensity of lived experience against passive contemplation, subjectivity against the consensually real, and the imagination against the instrumentally rational. Solidarity was understood as an inner bond with the oppressed. [Logos]

“I’m thinking that actually the U.S. is the fastest-growing oil-producing country in the world, the fastest-growing gas-producing country in the world, and yes, it’s happening mostly on private lands.” [Ed Morse]

Citi economists expect total liquids production to as much as double for the continent in the next decade, and predict that the U.S. could overtake both Russia and Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2020. [BusinessInsider]

These two charts represent what is arguably the biggest thing that is changing in the U.S. economy these days. Not only is the price of natural gas declining significantly, but it is getting cheaper relative to crude oil by leaps and bounds. And it's all thanks to new drilling technology (fracking) that has resulted in huge new natural gas discoveries and production in the U.S. [Scott Grannis | MoneyCNN]

Apple finances the factories by loaning them cash and buying significant amounts of components in advance. This “Bank of Apple” strategy further establishes control over the factories, locks out competition and seems to be why competitors can’t seem to match Apple’s cost structure for products like the iPad. [TechCrunch]

This review provides information on the history of absinthe and one of its constituent, thujone. Based on the current available evidence, thujone concentrations of both pre-ban and modern absinthes may not have been able to cause detrimental health effects other than those encountered in common alcoholism. [Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy]

According to a recent paper, belief and memory are separate processes. We can have: memories that we believe were events, memories that we do not believe were events, beliefs about events that we do not remember, and events that we neither believe nor remember. [Thoughts on thoughts]

Researchers have established a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and the degree to which you are a “socially disruptive” narcissist, confirming the conclusions of many social media skeptics. [Guardian]

On 21 October 1984, François Truffaut dies of brain cancer. He is 52 years old. Jean-Luc Godard does not attend the funeral, which, in Montmartre Cemetery, brings together the whole family of French Cinema. For ten years the two filmmakers have been enemies. [Translatable Images]

Wife shot dead by husband after dog poops in house.

As part of an independent, controlled study, Unger has cracked only his left-hand knuckles every day for the past 56 years.

According to a recent survey of two thousand women, a staggering 25 percent would rather win America’s Next Top Model than a Nobel Prize.

What science tells us about young girls and the incredible shrinking childhood. Featuring Ainsley, who began growing pubic hair at age 6. [NYT]

New research explains how speaking more than one language may translate to better mental health.

You can't do the math without the words.

Scientists say they've figured out how exposure to germs in infancy reduces the risk of allergies and other immune system problems.

The best human tuners have always been able to outperform electronic devices that do the same job. Until now.

How Cooperation Can Slow Emergency Evacuations.

The pubic louse evolved around 3.3 million years ago, and it could not have done so until ancestral humans lost their body fur, creating its niche. What’s more, [we have] dated the evolution of body lice, which live in clothing, to around 70,000 years ago. So it looks like our ancestors wandered around stark naked for a very long time. [NewScientist via OvercomingBias]

The hidden history of lobotomy’s non-inventor.

Dimethyltryptamine is so hot right now. Interview with people who just smoked DMT.

There was a time when mothers gave their babies opium, people bought hallucinogens at the local bar, and anxious patriots sent hypodermic needles and cocaine to soldiers as a present.

How the Plummeting Price of Cocaine Fueled the Nationwide Drop in Violent Crime.

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say).

First, it is easier to punish than it is to regulate. Second, this preference for punishment may not be particularly healthy.

New artificial intelligence programs can analyze data sets to produce news articles that mimic the human voice. Is the Future of Journalism Computerized?

Good journalism costs money. Good investigative journalism often costs a lot of money. How much? Editor John Drescher says it’s not unusual for the paper to spend $150,000-$200,000 on a single reporting project.

Middle school boys who are reluctant readers value reading more after using e-readers.

Apple and five of the “Big Six” trade publishers are reportedly under investigation by the Department of Justice for antitrust violations.

She is a scientist, and believes in evidence. She spent two years as a full-time member of an evangelical church in Chicago, and another two years in a congregation in Palo Alto. [The New Yorker]

"Eskimo has one hundred words for snow." The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax was demolished many years ago. [David Bellos/Big Think | Geoffrey K. Pullum | Wikipedia]

Who Was Casanova?

What's the Earth really made of?

Would life have evolved differently, or even appeared on Earth without the Moon?

We have made similar cuts to our use of utility electricity, using one-tenth the amount that comparable San Diego homes typically consume. In this post, I will reveal how we pulled this off.

Mage, Japan’s Island Beyond the Reach of the Law.

What Do Movie Producers Do? A Movie Producer Explains.

How One Response to a Reddit Query Became a Big-Budget Flick.

Van Gogh's Sunflowers Were Genetic Mutants.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW: Will My Date Have Sex On The First Date? ASK: Do you like the taste of beer?

The Enormous Benefits of Autophagy, or Why You Should Stop Eating Once in Awhile.

10 Reasons Why Dishwashers Are Better Than Hand-Washing.

Can static electricity kill you?

How do you buy organs on the black market?

One pizzaiolo gets about 18,000 customers per week, of which approximately 50 ask for anchovies. Why Do Pizzerias Offer Anchovies?

What does the S in the dollar sign represent? [more: Wikipedia]

Film on the Rocks Yao Noi, a new film festival.

3D Printing. [video]

love that the official Dragon Tattoo DVD is confusing people for looking bootleg.

World Map: Metal Bands per 100,000 People.

Maddie the Coonhound.

Hombre Espacial.

Raccoon jaw and tongue with mother of pearl and resin.