Triple-Decker Weekly, 34

photo by Jason Lazarus

Assume that you can’t redistribute happiness or wealth within the marriage. If your spouse is unhappy you will be unhappy and if your spouse is happy you are likely to be happy; happy wife, happy life. If you can’t redistribute happiness the play to make is to maximize total happiness. Maximizing total happiness means accepting apparent reductions in happiness when those result in even larger increases in happiness for your spouse. If you maximize the total, however, there will be more to go around and the reductions will usually be temporary. [Marginal Revolution]

The romantic view of romance in Western culture says a very small fraction of people would make a great partner for you, customarily one. Some clues suggest that in fact quite a large fraction of people would make a suitable spouse for a given person. Arranged marriages apparently go pretty well rather than terribly. […] It seems we overstate the rarity of good matches. Why would we do that? One motive would be to look like you have high standards, which suggests that you are good enough yourself to support such standards. But does this really make sense? In practice, most of the ways a person could be especially unusual such that it is hard for them to find a suitable mate are not in the direction of greatness. Most of them are just in various arbitrary directions of weirdness. [Overcoming Bias]

Once in our history, the world-wide population of human beings skidded so sharply we were down to roughly a thousand reproductive adults. One study says we hit as low as 40. […] It took almost 200,000 years to reach our first billion (that was in 1804), but now we’re on a fantastic growth spurt, to 3 billion by 1960, another billion almost every 13 years since then. [NPR]

Brains are very costly. Right now, just sitting here, my brain (even though I'm not doing much other than talking) is consuming about 20- 25 percent of my resting metabolic rate. That's an enormous amount of energy, and to pay for that, I need to eat quite a lot of calories a day, maybe about 600 calories a day, which back in the Paleolithic was quite a difficult amount of energy to acquire. So having a brain of 1,400 cubic centimeters, about the size of my brain, is a fairly recent event and very costly. […] If you think about other early humans like Neanderthals, their brains are as large or even larger than the typical brain size of human beings today. Surely those brains are so costly that there would have had to be a strong benefit to outweigh the costs. So cognition and intelligence and language and all of those important tasks that we do must have been very important. We mustn’t forget that those individuals were also hunter-gatherers. They worked extremely hard every day to get a living. A typical hunter-gatherer has to walk between nine and 15 kilometers a day. A typical female might walk 9 kilometers a day, a typical male hunter-gatherer might walk 15 kilometers a day, and that’s every single day. That’s day-in, day-out, there’s no weekend, there’s no retirement, and you do that for your whole life. It’s about the distance if you walk from Washington, DC to LA every year. That’s how much walking hunter-gatherers did every single year. [Daniel Lieberman/Edge]

Your brain on speed dating: Activity in two regions helps calculate compatibility with potential mates.

Research shows that friends influence how girls and women view and judge their own body weight, shape and size.

Many children spontaneously report memories of ‘past lives’. For believers, this is evidence for reincarnation; for others, it’s a psychological oddity. But what happens when they grow up? Icelandic psychologists Haraldsson and Abu-Izzedin looked into it. They took 28 adults, members of the Druze community of Lebanon. They’d all been interviewed about past life memories by the famous reincarnationist Professor Ian Stephenson in the 70s, back when they were just 3-9 years old. Did they still ‘remember’? […] As children they reported on average 30 distinct memories of past lives. As adults they could only remember 8, but of those, only half matched the ones they’d talked about previously. [Neuroskeptic]

Fifty wild elephants went on a drunken rampage after downing 18 containers of mahua, a powerful alcoholic brew, in India.

Dead candidates win elections in Florida, Alabama.

Cotard’s Syndrome is the delusional belief that one is dead or missing internal organs or other body parts. Those who suffer from this “delusion of negation” deny their own existence. The eponymous French neurologist Jules Cotard called it le délire de négation (”negation delirium”). […] In a review of 100 cases, Berrios and Luque (1995) found that: “Depression was reported in 89% of subjects; the most common nihilistic delusions concerned the body (86%) and existence (69%).” [The Neurocritic]

The "name uniqueness effect" - believing that your first name is more unusual than other people do.

1 in 3 Men Can't See His Penis.

Choosing the sex of your baby has become a multimillion-dollar industry.

Will we ever decipher everything about a life form based just on its DNA?

First gene therapy to go on sale in Europe in 2013.

Beginnings of Bionic.

The gap between professional race drivers and self-driven cars isn’t all that big, as a race at the Thunderhill Raceway in California proved yesterday. Although the human driver achieved victory against the self-driven Audi TTS in a head-to-head, he only managed to shave off a few seconds from the computer’s time. [Silicon Angle]

A new study shows that the equivalent of a few cups of coffee can help us process words more quickly and accurately.

Coffee is under threat from climate change, according to a study which found that popular Arabica beans could face extinction within decades. Rising global temperatures and subtle changes in seasonal conditions could make 99.7 per cent of Arabica-growing areas unsuitable for the plant by 2080. [Telegraph]

Researchers found that consumers are not concerned about higher prices when shopping at specialty stores, and that they are more likely to buy items related to their main purchase than at a supermarket. [University at Buffalo]

Do desert ants really count their steps?

Lost James Joyce Children’s Book Gets Published.

My Bloody Valentine have announced a headlining slot at Japan's Tokyo Rocks festival in May 2013, where they will be playing exclusive material from a brand new album. The album, the very-long-awaited follow-up to 1991’s classic 'Loveless', has been 21 years in the making. [NME]

Staff emails are not owned by firms, rules UK judge.

Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colorful history, new research has found.

Since I had spent many years in self-destruct mode, I wanted to use my need for sexual connection to help others. Finally, I had my answer: working as a sex surrogate.

How My Danish Friend Paid Off His Debt By Becoming A Gay Prostitute.

There’s a second method for high impact philosophy, however. Let’s call it the bottom-up method.

Blumenberg created what has come to be called 'metaphorology', which states that what lies under metaphors and language modisms, is the nearest to the truth (and the farthest from ideologies).

A Brief History of the Teleprompter.

What are the best responses to "you don't talk much"?

Notes Towards the Complete Works of Shakespeare [PDF]

Map indicating the human sex ratio by country.

Natural Harvest - A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes.