Triple-Decker Weekly, 30

Technically, physical pain could be banished in humans and nonhumans alike. [...] From an engineering perspective, pain is unnecessary. [ David Pearce/io9]

How does a number of things become a number in itself, seen as a ‘thing’? In all its simplicity, this is the unsolved question for cognitive science. [Per Aage Brandt/SSRN]

What number is halfway between 1 and 9? Is it 5 — or 3? [MIT]

“The reality is you’re probably good at a lot of things,” I told him. “But you’re not very good at most of them. I’m not either.” […] Howard Stevenson and I coin a phrase called “cheating at solitaire” to describe the all-too-common occurrence of men and women telling themselves that they have the skills they wished they possessed to achieve certain professional goals — as opposed to objectively considering whether they actually do or do not. The hard reality is most of us have few areas in which we really, truly excel. The key, Howard and I argue, is to identify those areas — and then search for professional opportunities where our strongest capacities are most often needed and utilized. The earlier in your career that you identify these, the easier it is for you to take control over your own professional trajectory. [Eric C. Sinoway/Harvard Business Review]

Many of us use them several times a day without really noticing. And yet the way we behave in lifts, or elevators as they are known in the US, reveals a hidden anxiety. “Most of us sort of shut down. We walk in. We press the button. We stand perfectly still.” [BBC]

Man cooking squirrel for lunch sparks fire that destroys eight apartments.

Heaven is hotter than hell. Proof and refutation.

Do you think humans will ever walk on the sun? like i kno its realy hot but i am thinking if they went in the winter time when the sun is only like 30 degrees i bet they could do it.

It is estimated there are about 2,000 people signed up for cryonics and approximately 250 people currently cryopreserved. Over 100 pets have also been placed in vats of liquid nitrogen with the hopes of a future recovery.

For a small group of people—perhaps just 1% to 3% of the population—sleep is a waste of time. Natural “short sleepers,” as they’re officially known, are night owls and early birds simultaneously. They typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine. They are also energetic, outgoing, optimistic and ambitious, according to the few researchers who have studied them. The pattern sometimes starts in childhood and often runs in families. […] Out of every 100 people who believe they only need five or six hours of sleep a night, only about five people really do, Dr. Buysse says. The rest end up chronically sleep deprived, part of the one-third of U.S. adults who get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. […] Dr. Fu was part of a research team that discovered a gene variation, hDEC2, in a pair of short sleepers in 2009. They were studying extreme early birds when they noticed that two of their subjects, a mother and daughter, got up naturally about 4 a.m. but also went to bed past midnight. Genetic analyses spotted one gene variation common to them both. The scientists were able to replicate the gene variation in a strain of mice and found that the mice needed less sleep than usual, too. [WSJ]

The first rapid [20 minutes] home-testing kit for H.I.V. has just gone on sale for $40, marketed as a way for people to find out privately if they have the virus that causes AIDS. But some experts and advocates say that another use, unadvertised, for the OraQuick test — to screen potential sexual partners — may become equally popular and even help slow an epidemic stuck at 50,000 new infections each year in the United States. There are reasons to think that screening might make a difference. Studies have found that a significant minority of people who are H.I.V.-positive either lie about their status or keep it secret, infecting unsuspecting partners. And though the manufacturer, OraSure Technologies, is not promoting the use of the test for screening, 70 percent of the 4,000 men and women in the company’s clinical trials said they would either definitely or very likely use it that way. Some even suggested that the company sell boxes of two so couples could be tested together. […] The OraQuick test is imperfect. It is nearly 100 percent accurate when it indicates that someone is not infected and, in fact, is not. But it is only about 93 percent accurate when it says that someone is not infected and the person actually does have the virus, though the body is not yet producing the antibodies that the test detects. [NY Times]

Entire cities in the World of Warcraft have been reportedly destroyed with no one spared. Hack suspected.

Urinating Through Your Mouth Is Great. Ask This Turtle.

Asian Seafood Raised on Pig Feces Approved for U.S. Consumers.

One of the many consequences of global warming is that it’s now, for the first time, possible to drill under the sea bed of the Arctic ocean. The oil companies are all there, of course, running geological tests and bickering with each other about the potential environmental consequences of an oil spill. But they’re not the only people drilling. Because there’s something even more valuable than oil just waiting to be found under the Arctic. What is worth so much money that three different consortiums would spend billions of pounds to retrofit icebreakers and send them into some of the coldest and most dangerous waters in the world? The answer, of course, is information. A couple of days ago, I called a friend in Tokyo, and we had a lovely chat. If he puts something up on Twitter, I can see it immediately. And on the web there are thousands of webcams showing me what’s going on in Japan this very second. It doesn’t look like there’s any great information bottleneck there: anything important which happens in Japan can be, and is, transmitted to the rest of the world in a fraction of a second. But if you’re a City trader, a fraction of a second is a veritable eternity. Let’s say you want to know the price of a stock on the Tokyo Stock exchange, or the exact number of yen being traded for one dollar. Just like the light from the sun is eight minutes old by the time it reaches us, all that financial information is about 188 milliseconds old by the time it reaches London. That’s zero point one eight eight seconds. And it takes that much time because it has to travel on fiber-optic cables which take a long and circuitous route: they either have to cross the Atlantic, and then the US, and then the Pacific, or else they have to go across Europe, through the Middle East, across the Indian Ocean, and then up through the South China Sea between China and the Philippines. But! If you can lay an undersea cable across the Arctic, you can save yourself about 5,000 miles, not to mention the risk of routing your information past a lot of political flash points. And when you’re sitting in your office in London and you get that dollar/yen exchange rate from Tokyo, it’s fresh from the oven, comparatively speaking: only 0.168 seconds old. If everybody else is using the old cables and you’re using the new ones, then you have somewhere between 20 milliseconds and 60 milliseconds when you know something they don’t. Those are periods of time so short that humans can barely notice them. This essay, for instance, is about 900,000 milliseconds long, and it takes me hundreds milliseconds just to say the word “cable”. Which is a word with more than one meaning. To you, it probably means some kind of wire. But to City traders, it means 1.6254, or something very close to that number. Because in the City, “cable” means the pound/dollar exchange rate. And it’s named that after a transatlantic cable which was used to telegraph the exchange-rate information from London to New York as far back as 1858. […] Obviously, only computer algorithms can make money from an information advantage which is measured in milliseconds. It’s computers which are making the decisions to buy and sell: if they had to wait for a human to sign off on those things, they’d never make any money at all. […] The more obvious problem with exchanges run by computers is that computers don’t have any common sense. [Felix Salmon/Reuters]

A single mysterious computer program that placed orders — and then subsequently canceled them — made up 4 percent of all quote traffic in the U.S. stock market last week, according to the top tracker of high-frequency trading activity. The motive of the algorithm is still unclear. The program placed orders in 25-millisecond bursts involving about 500 stocks, according to Nanex, a market data firm. The algorithm never executed a single trade, and it abruptly ended at about 10:30 a.m. ET Friday. [CNBC]

This article investigates how the law is perceived in hip-hop music. Lawyers solve concrete legal problems on basis of certain presuppositions about morality, legality and justice that are not always shared by non-lawyers. This is why a thriving part of academic scholarship deals with what we can learn about laymen’s perceptions of law from studying novels (law and literature) or other types of popular culture. This article offers an inventory and analysis of how the law is perceived in a representative sample of hip-hop lyrics from 5 US artists (Eminem, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Ludacris and Jay-Z) and 6 UK artists (Ms Dynamite, Dizzee Rascal, Plan B, Tinie Tempah, Professor Green and N-Dubz). After a methodological part, the article identifies four principles of hip-hop law. First, criminal justice is based on the age-old adage of an eye for an eye, reflecting the desire to retaliate proportionately. Second, self-justice and self-government reign supreme in a hip-hop version of the law: instead of waiting for a presumably inaccurate community response, it is allowed to take the law into one’s own hands. Third, there is an overriding obligation to respect others within the hip-hop community: any form of ‘dissing’ will be severely punished. Finally, the law is seen as an instrument to be used to one’s advantage where possible, and to be ignored if not useful. All four principles can be related to a view of the law as a way to survive in the urban jungle. [SSRN]

The homogeneity and provincialism of the New York intellectual community made them pushovers in discussions about Goldwater’s views. They had cliche answers but only to their self-created straw-men. To exaggerate only slightly, they had never talked to anyone who really believed, and had thought deeply about, views drastically different from their own. As a result, when they heard real arguments instead of caricatures, they had no answers, only amazement that such views could be expressed by someone who had the external characteristics of being a member of the intellectual community, and that such views could be defended with apparent cogency. Never have I been more impressed with the advice I once received: “You cannot be sure that you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do. [Milton Friedman]

Women try to look more masculine as they embrace the 'lowbrow' look and even turn to surgery to achieve it.

Researchers have discovered that a form of oxytocin — the hormone responsible for making humans fall in love — has a similar effect on fish, suggesting it is a key regulator of social behavior that has evolved and endured since ancient times. [EurekAlert]

Whether You Like Someone Affects How Your Brain Processes Their Actions.

Human beings form their beliefs about reality based on the constant torrent of information our brains receive through our senses. But some information is accepted and incorporated into our beliefs more easily than another one. More specifically, we’re all very eager to update our beliefs based on good news rather than on its bad counterpart. This widespread tendency to be disinclined to integrate negative information into our beliefs is known as the “good news/bad news effect.” […] A new study by Tali Sharot et al. has shown that this bias towards good news can be decreased through transcranial magnetic stimulation, which involves exposing certain brain regions to a magnetic field. [United Academics]

Scientists have figured out how to remotely control a cell’s self-destruction. Cancer cells executed by magnet.

One prerequisite for being a vampire is that you have a taste for blood. […] Almost every culture consumes blood. Many people eat cooked blood. The Poles eat blood soup (czernina), and the Brits love their blood pudding as much as the Chinese love their fried blood tofu. The next time you go to a French restaurant for the coq au vin, remember that the sauce is made with rooster blood. There are also those cultures that drink blood. The inuit peoples drink fresh seal blood, and the Maasi in Africa rely on a mixture of cow’s milk and cow’s blood as a staple of their diet. And why not, blood is a decent source of nutrition. Blood has a lot of protein and is a good source of lipids. Of course it is iron rich, and is a source of fluid and salt if you happen to be caught in the desert. If a vampire happens to pick out an uncontrolled diabetic, a drink of blood could also be a good source of carbohydrates. […] Congenital Erythropoietic Porphyria (CEP) is by far the disease most often associated with vampirism. […] The symptoms of the porphyrias do make you think of vampires: sun sensitivity with extreme burning, white skin, bloodshot eyes, sensitive eyes, anemia (low number and therefore a need for red blood cells), reddish tears, reddish urine, red pigment in the enamel of the teeth (erythrodontia). […] Porphyrias also bring increased body and facial hair (hirsutism), so they may contribute to the werewolf legend as well. [As Many Exceptions As Rules]

Needle-Free Injections Perfected Using Supersonic Liquid Microjets.

Bees at a cluster of apiaries in northeastern France have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green, alarming their keepers who now believe residue from containers of M&M’s candy processed at a nearby biogas plant is the cause. [Reuters]

Facebook "Want" Button: Collecting massive amounts of data about you has never been easier.

Facebook confirms researcher exploited privacy settings to quickly collect user phone numbers.

Instantly check your privacy settings across Facebook, Google and the other websites and companies collecting your data. Get to the fix with one click.

China’s greatest innovators are the people ripping off companies like Apple and Nintendo.

We may soon find ourselves living in a world where cheap 3-D printers allow the dissemination of designs for physical objects through the Internet.

Researchers find mechanism of opiate addiction is completely different from other drugs.

“If we can utilize Twitter and Facebook to integrate our brand with other established players, we stand to boost our profile in all the key demographics,” said the 33-year-old Brooks, who last night lay in bed staring at the ceiling, tears dripping down his face as he realized the thing he puts so much effort into is so vacuous and void of meaning that his younger self would be disgusted by his pursuit of an occupation that ultimately doesn’t need to exist. [The Onion | Thanks Rachel!]

If you could only ask one question to determine the IQ (g) of a person, what would it be?

PETA Attacks Pokemon For Promoting Animal Abuse.

Why do gangsters hold their guns sideways?

What's the best way to sterilize myself without telling my wife?

How leading anatomical experts predict our descendants will differ physically from us in 1,000 years from now. [The Sun]

Detroit Police Officer Angelica Robinson apparently tweeted a photo of herself with a gun in her mouth.