Triple-Decker Weekly, 38

Image by Michael Wolf

With a little practice, one could learn to tell a lie that may be indistinguishable from the truth. [EurekAlert]

People who recall being absolved of their sins, are more likely to donate money to the church, according to research published in Religion, Brain and Behavior. [EurekAlert]

Extraverted gorillas enjoy longer lives, research suggests.

Driving school for dogs in New Zealand.

Unwanted exposure to pornography: “find yourself in a web site that showed pictures of naked people or of people having sex when you did not want to be in that kind of site” or “an e-mail or instant message or a link in a message that showed you actual pictures of naked people or people having sex that you did not want.” Year 2000: 9 % ages 10–12, 28 % ages 13–15, and 33 % ages 16–17. Year 2005: 19 % ages 10–12, 35 % ages 13–15, and 44 % ages 16–17. [ Archives of Sexual Behavior/Springer]

For thousands of years, a core pursuit of medical science has been the careful observation of physical symptoms and signs. Through these observations, supplemented more recently by investigative techniques, an understanding of how symptoms and signs are generated by disease has developed. However, there is a group of patients with symptoms and signs that, from the earliest medical records to the present day, elude a diagnosis with a typical ‘organic’ disease. This is not simply because of an absence of pathology after sufficient investigation, rather that symptoms themselves are inconsistent with those occurring in typical disease. In times past, these symptoms were said to be ‘hysterical’, a term now replaced by the less pejorative but no more enlightening labels: ‘medically unexplained’, ‘psychogenic’, ‘conversion’, ‘non-organic’ and ‘functional’. There are numerous historical examples of patients identified as having hysteria who would now be diagnosed with an organic medical disorder. Some have assumed that this process of salvaging patients from (mis)diagnosis with hysteria would continue inexorably until a ‘proper’ medical diagnosis was achieved. Slater (1965), in his influential paper on the topic, described the diagnosis of hysteria as ‘a disguise for ignorance and a fertile source of clinical error’. In other words, with increasing medical knowledge, all patients would be rescued from a diagnostic category that did little more than assert that they were ‘too difficult’. This has not come to pass (Stone et al., 2005). Recent epidemiological work has demonstrated that neurologists continue to diagnose a ‘non-organic’ disorder in ?16% of their patients, making this the second most common diagnosis of neurological outpatients. [Brain/Oxford Journals]

China is the world’s top producer of honey: it turns out about a quarter of the world’s supply. Chinese honey is cheap and the US had been a major importer. But in 2001, in the wake of a US government investigation that found domestic honey producers being harmed by significant price disparities between Chinese and American honey, the US levied an anti-dumping duty of roughly $1.20 per pound (454 gm) on Chinese honey. […] For companies like ALW that were importing tonnes of Chinese honey into the US every year, this was a big business setback. To evade the duty, some of them started getting shipments via third countries, with the honey’s point-of-origin relabelled accordingly. After all, no tariff was due on honey from India, Malaysia, Mongolia or Russia. The operation soon came to be called ‘honey laundering’. ALW was one among several firms doing it, but it has been in the spotlight ever since the arrests. According to a 44-count indictment of the firm, over 2004-06, it laundered over 2 million pounds—900 tonnes—of Chinese honey through India, evading nearly $80 million in duties. [Open]

In 1979, Brenda and Richard Jorgenson built a split level home in the midst of a large ranch outside the tiny town of White Earth, North Dakota. […] For most of their lives the landscape of the region has been dominated by agriculture – wheat, alfalfa, oats, canola, flax, and corn. The Jorgensons always figured they would leave the property to their three children to pursue the same good life they have enjoyed. Then the oil wells arrived. They began appearing in 2006, and within just a few years dominated the area landscape. Today at least 25 oil wells stand within two miles of the Jorgensons’ home, each with a pump, several storage tanks, and a tall flare burning the methane that comes out of the ground along with the petroleum. Like most people in North Dakota, the Jorgensons only own the surface rights to their property, not the subsurface mineral rights. So there was nothing they could do when, in May 2010, a Dallas-based oil company, Petro-Hunt, installed a well pad on the Jorgensons’ farm, next to a beloved grove of Russian olive trees. […] Some 80 trees were dead by the summer of 2011. [Guardian]

Ukraine Crushed in $1.1bn Fake Gas Deal.

With everything from banking records and health data to contacts lists and photos available through our mobile phones, the ability to securely  access this data is an increasingly important concern. That’s why many phone manufactures and data holders are keen on biometric security systems that reliably identify individuals. The question of course is which biometric system to use. Face, fingerpint and iris recognition are all topics of intense research. But the most obvious choice for a mobile phone is surely voice identification. However, this approach has been plagued with problems. For example, people’s voices can change dramatically when they are ill or in a hurry. What’s more, it’s relatively easy to record somebody’s voice during authentication and use that to break the system. So many groups have steered away from voice biometrics. That could be set to change. Today, RC Johnson at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a couple of pals lay out a new approach to voice biometrics which they say solves these problems. The new system provides secure authentication while also preserving the privacy of the user. [The Physics arXiv Blog]

Check Point has revealed how a sophisticated malware attack was used to steal an estimated €36 million from over 30,000 customers of over 30 banks in Italy, Spain, Germany and Holland over summer this year. [Net Security]

Onity, the company whose locks protect 4 million or more hotel rooms around the world, has agreed to reimburse at least some fraction of its hotel customers for the cost of fixing a security flaw exposed in July. [Forbes]

Some cyberattacks over the past decade have briefly affected state strategic plans, but none has resulted in death or lasting damage. For example, the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia by Russia shut down networks and government websites and disrupted commerce for a few days, but things swiftly went back to normal. The majority of cyberattacks worldwide have been minor: easily corrected annoyances such as website defacements or basic data theft -- basically the least a state can do when challenged diplomatically. Our research shows that although warnings about cyberwarfare have become more severe, the actual magnitude and pace of attacks do not match popular perception. [Foreign Affairs]

Verizon is arguing before the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that broadband providers have a right to decide what they transmit online. […] According to Verizon’s argument: "In performing these functions [providing the transmission of speech from Point A to Point B], broadband providers possess 'editorial discretion.' Just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where, broadband providers may feature some content over others. In effect, Verizon claims that by transmitting bits – providing Internet access – it gains the rights of a newspaper like the Washington Post or the New York Times. This assertion has no basis in constitutional law, and in fact repudiates many positions taken by Verizon before Congress, courts and the FCC over the years." […] "Verizon and its predecessors have argued exactly to the contrary time after time -- including when they were fighting for open access to cable companies' wires a decade ago and when they have claimed immunity from liability based on their status as a transmissions provider for the content they carry," said Tyrone Brown, who served as an FCC Commissioner from 1977-1981. [Roosevelt Institute]

Uptalk is the use of a rising, questioning intonation when making a statement, which has become quite prevalent in contemporary American speech. Women tend to use uptalk more frequently than men do, though the reasons behind this difference are contested. I use the popular game show Jeopardy! to study variation in the use of uptalk among the contestants’ responses, and argue that uptalk is a key way in which gender is constructed through interaction. While overall, Jeopardy! contestants use uptalk 37 percent of the time, there is much variation in the use of uptalk. The typical purveyor of uptalk is white, young, and female. Men use uptalk more when surrounded by women contestants, and when correcting a woman contestant after she makes an incorrect response. Success on the show produces different results for men and women. The more successful a man is, the less likely he is to use uptalk; the more successful a woman is, the more likely she is to use uptalk. [SAGE]

The sperm count of French men fell by a third between 1989 and 2005, a study suggests. [..] "To our knowledge, this is the first study concluding a severe and general decrease in sperm concentration and morphology at the scale of a whole country over a substantial period." […] Prof Richard Sharpe, from the University of Edinburgh, said: "Something in our modern lifestyle, diet or environment like chemical exposure, is causing this. We still do not know which are the most important factors, but perhaps the most likely is a combination, a double whammy of changes, such as a high-fat diet combined with increased environmental chemical exposures." [BBC]

Searches for human pheromones have focused on androstenes, androgen steroids occurring in apocrine secretions, for example, axillary (underarm) sweat, motivated by the fact that one of them, androstenone, functions as a sex pheromone in pigs. However, some 20–40% of adult humans, depending on age and sex, cannot smell androstenone, although their sense of smell is otherwise intact. To date, no convincing evidence exists to demonstrate that any single compound is able to function as a sexual attractant in humans, although several other types of pheromonal effects (e.g., kin recognition) have been observed. […] Could an odor (conditioned stimulus) that is perceived during sexual intercourse gain hedonic value from the intercourse experience (presumably a pleasant unconditioned stimulus) through associative learning? […] The results suggest that, among women, sexual experience may modify the pleasantness of the odor of androstenone. [Archives of Sexual Behavior/Springer]

The ‘Mouth to Nose Merging System’: A novel approach to study the impact of odor on other sensory perceptions.

With a homicide rate historically more than three times greater than the rest of the United States, Newark, N.J., isn’t a great vacation spot. But it’s a great place for a murder study. Led by April Zeoli, an assistant professor of criminal justice, a group of researchers at Michigan State University tracked homicides around Newark from 1982 to 2008, using analytic software typically used by medical researchers to track the spread of diseases. They found that “homicide clusters” in Newark, as researchers called them, spread and move throughout a city much the same way diseases do. Murders, in other words, did not surface randomly—they began in the city center and moved in “diffusion-like processes” across the city. The study also found that the there were areas of Newark that, despite being beset by violence on all sides, remained almost completely immune to the surrounding trends over the entire course of the 26 years studied. [Vice]

No one knows what to do with the massive whale carcass rotting near Malibu's celebrity homes.

Indian village bans mobile phone use by women, saying the phones were "debasing the social atmosphere" by leading to elopements.

Celebrities turn to encryption to keep phones private.

Builders sent in to renovate an 18th century chateau in western France's Bordeaux wine region reduced it to rubble instead, according to the Russian owner of the property.

Female employees benefit from a male CEO’s generosity when he becomes a father, particularly when the first child is a girl.

We all consider our bodies to be our own unique being, so the notion that we may harbor cells from other people in our bodies seems strange.

A new generation of researchers is heading into the weird world of psychedelic drugs. It could change their minds.

Dinosaurs are older than we'd thought. Here's how scientists figured that out.

Sex in Cheese: Evidence for Sexuality in the Fungus Penicillium roqueforti.

Your Cell Phone Could Soon Become Part of a Massive Earthquake Detection System.

If you can find it on iTunes it probably won’t be on Amoeba’s Vinyl Vaults.

Rousseau’s New Heloise, the most popular novel of the eighteenth century, transformed the author from a celebrated philosopher into the object of a cult. It also transformed the history of literature through its influence on giants like Goethe, Flaubert, Stendhal, and Tolstoy. Today, however, the New Heloise is seldom read and even less often enjoyed.

Why aren't green or blue naturally occurring human hair colors?

A 120-Year-Old Mechanical Device that Perfectly Mimics the Song of a Bird.

Life's great in Miami. [gif]

darling, the crocodile species has existed for over 300 million years…