Interest in sensations from removed body parts other than limbs has increased with modern surgical techniques. This applies particularly to operations (e.g., gender-changing surgeries) that have resulted in phantom genitalia. The impression given in modern accounts, especially those dealing with phantoms associated with penis amputation, is that this is a recently discovered phenomenon. Yet the historical record reveals several cases of phantom penises dating from the late-eighteenth century and the early-nineteenth century. These cases, recorded by some of the leading medical and surgical figures of the era, are of considerable historical and theoretical significance. This is partly because these phantoms were associated with pleasurable sensations, in contrast to the loss of a limb, which for centuries had been associated with painful phantoms. We here present several early reports on phantom penile sensations, with the intent of showing what had been described and why more than 200 years ago. [Taylor & Francis]
What is work? The discussion builds on analysis of two groups whose activities have at best a tenuous connection to conventional notions of work: Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish men (engaged mainly in full-time Torah study, not paid employment) and French farmers, whose incomes derive more from public subsidy than from success in markets. The elements of their situations that seem distinctive are found in fact to be quite pervasive, even for activities that are ‘obviously’ work.
Hunger, thirst, stress and drugs can create a change in the brain that transforms a repulsive feeling into a strong positive “wanting,” a new University of Michigan study indicates. The research used salt appetite to show how powerful natural mechanisms of brain desires can instantly transform a cue that always predicted a repulsive Dead Sea Salt solution into an eagerly wanted beacon or motivational magnet. […] This instant transformation of motivation, he said, lies in the ability of events to activate particular brain circuitry. [EurekAlert]
Men are from
Mars Earth, Women are from Venus Earth. Statistical analysis of 122 different characteristics involving 13,301 individuals finds that men and women, by and large, do not fall into different groups.
Memory is a strange thing. Just using the verb “smash” in a question about a car crash instead of “bump” or “hit” causes witnesses to remember higher speeds and more serious damage. Known as the misinformation effect, it is a serious problem for police trying to gather accurate accounts of a potential crime. There’s a way around it, however: get a robot to ask the questions. […] Two groups – one with a human and one a robot interviewer – were asked identical questions that introduced false information about the crime, mentioning objects that were not in the scene, then asking about them later. When posed by humans, the questions caused the witnesses’ recall accuracy to drop by 40 per cent – compared with those that did not receive misinformation – as they remembered objects that were never there. But misinformation presented by the NAO robot didn’t have an effect. [NewScientist]
In the real world, lending a book to a friend or selling your used music collection isn’t exactly groundbreaking. In the digital world, it’s patentable. Amazon.com has been awarded what appears to be a broad patent on a “secondary market for digital objects” — a system for users to sell, trade and loan digital objects including audio files, eBooks, movies, apps, and pretty much anything else. The patent, originally filed in 2009 and granted on Jan. 29, covers transferring digital goods among users, setting limits on transfers and usage, charging an associated fee, and other elements of a marketplace for “used” digital goods. [GW]
The tension between experience for its own sake and experience we pursue just to put on Facebook is reaching its breaking point. That breaking point is called Snapchat. […] The temporary photograph’s abbreviated lifespan changes how it is made and seen, and what it comes to mean. Snaps could be likened to other temporary art such as ice sculptures or decay art (e.g., Yoko Ono’s famous rotting apple) that takes seriously the process of disappearance, or the One Hour Photo project from 2010 that has as its premise to “project a photograph for one hour, then ensure that it will never be seen again.” However, whatever changes in the aesthetics of photographic vision Snapchat is effecting are difficult to assess, given that no one really knows what its self-deleting photos collectively look like. In many ways, this is exactly the point. [Nathan Jurgenson/TNI]
How do passwords get hacked? The problem is not that a hacker discovers a username, goes to a login page and attempts to guess the password. [Deloitte]
This paper presents a new approach on nipple detection for adult content recognition. […] This method first locates the potential nipple-like region by using Adaboost algorithm for fast processing speed. It is followed by a nipple detec- tion using the information of shape and skin color relation between nipple and non-nipple region. […] The experiments show that our method performs well for nipple detec- tion in adult images. [Institute for Infocomm Research | PDF]
Three-legged robot uses exploding body to jump. “By actuating all three legs simultaneously, we caused the robot to jump more than 30 times its height.”
How far has society gone in dreaming up new dangers to protect our children from? […] (A.) An upstate New York school district outlawed soap in its pre-school bathrooms for fear that children might suddenly start drinking it. Now kids must come out and ask an adult to squirt some soap in their hands. (B.) Unaccompanied children under age 12 were banned from the Boulder, CO, library, lest they encounter “hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture…and other library patrons.” (C.) The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of certain fleece hoodies sold at Target because of lead paint on the zipper, which presumably could raise blood lead levels if the zippers are eaten. (D.) Children under age 18 were prohibited from gathering on the streets of Tucson, AZ, for fear they might “talk, play or laugh” in groups, which could lead to bullying. (E.) A New Canaan, CT, mom was charged with “risk of injury to a minor,” for letting her 13-year-old babysit the three younger children at home for an hour while the mom went to church. (F.) A Tennessee mother was thrown in jail for letting her kids, aged 8 and 5, go the park without her, a block and half away from home. […] The message to parents? The government is better at raising your kids than you are. The message to kids? You are weak little babies. [CATO Unbound]
The annual number of emergency room visits associated with energy drinks increased to 20,000 in 2011, a 36% boost from the previous year. Late last year, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is investigating reports of five deaths linked to Monster Energy drinks and 13 deaths linked to 5-Hour Energy shots. […] Caffeine safety has proven hard to measure. Although scientists have established the toxic dose to be somewhere around 10 g, they say that the value can fluctuate depending on how a person processes the stimulant. Caffeine gets cleared from the body at different rates because of genetic variations, gender, and even whether a person is a smoker. For this reason, it’s difficult to set a safe limit of daily consumption on the compound. [Chemical & Engineering News]
A new investigation by Bloomberg Businessweek shows that the Coke-owned orange juice brand that’s billed as less processed version of Tropicana is in fact a hyper-engineered and dauntingly industrial product. […] Coke relies on a deeply complex algorithm for every step of the juice-making process. The algorithm is designed to accept any contingency that might affect manufacturing, from weather patterns to shifts in the global economy, and make adjustments to the manufacturing process accordingly. Built into the model is a breakdown of the 600-plus flavors that are in orange juice that are tweaked throughout the year to keep flavor consistent and in line with consumer tastes. Coke even sucks the oxygen out of the juice when they send it to be mixed so that they can keep it around for a year or more to balance out other batches. [The Atlantic Wire]
While reformers emphasize the therapeutic advantages of marijuana, the drug stands alone among Schedule I substances in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 as the only one that did not start out as a medicine. The similarly classified drugs heroin and cocaine both had long histories as painkillers and numbing agents used by doctors and dentists. As the federal government pursued illicit dealing in these drugs, the market for them went underground. In response, the federal government imposed new laws on the District—like mandatory sentencing, asset forfeiture, and no-knock searches—that would later become fixtures of the modern drug war.
“I would say we have a housing bubble…again.” […] “It’s happening in the most speculative sub-prime markets, where massive amounts of ‘fast money’ is rolling in to buy, to rent, on a speculative basis for a quick trade,” he contends. “And as soon as they conclude prices have moved enough, they’ll be gone as fast as they came.” […] Stockman argues the problem in housing is the two forces needed for a recovery, first-time buyers and trade-up buyers, are missing. With the combination of 7.9% unemployment and staggering student loan debt, he doesn’t see a young generation of new home buyers coming into the market. And with baby boomers heading for retirement with less than adequate savings, he thinks they’ll be trading down with their homes, not up. […] “As soon as the Fed has to normalize interest rates, housing prices will stop appreciating and they’ll probably head down,” he explains. “The fast money will sell as quickly as they can and the bubble will pop almost as rapidly as it’s appeared. I don’t know how many times we’re going to do this, and the only people who benefit are the top one percent – the hedge funds, the LBO funds, the fast money people who come in for a trade, make a quick buck, and move along to the next bubble.” [Yahoo]
One of the most surprising aspects of the Justice Department’s five-billion-dollar lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s, which the D.O.J. accuses of defrauding investors by issuing ratings on subprime mortgage securities that it knew to be misleading, is that the settlement talks broke down.
The latest Census figures show real earnings for young college grads fell again in 2011. This makes the sixth straight year of declining real earnings for young college grads, defined as full-time workers aged 25-34 with a bachelor’s only.
Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to use $400 million in federal funding to buy beachfront homes as he seeks to reshape the New York coastline so the state is better prepared for storms like Hurricane Sandy. The cash would come from the $51 billion Congress approved last month to help the region recover from the Oct. 29 storm. The governor would use the money to pay owners the pre-storm value of their homes. More than 300,000 houses in New York were damaged by Sandy. Once sold, the houses would be razed and the land would remain vacant. [Bloomberg]
In America, 43 states have at least one Grand Canyon. Seventy three nations boast a Grand Canyon or two. There are Grand Canyons in the bottoms of oceans, too. Nevertheless, only a small number of the world’s Grand Canyons are recognized by agencies of geographic nomenclature, such as the U.S. Board of Geographic Names and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. This still did not stop a few geographically challenged writers and bureaucrats from misplacing Arizona’s canyon altogether, calling it the “Grand Canyon of New Mexico,” “Nevada’s Grand Canyon,” and “Colorado’s Grand Canyon.” The Colorado transplant was sensationally replicated by the U.S. Postal Service in 1999 when they produced a full run of postage stamps portraying “Grand Canyon, Colorado.” All 100 million stamps were then destroyed. […] In fact, the size of Arizona’s Grand Canyon was only an educated guess when the Smithsonian Institution first mentioned the place in 1857. It was called “Big Canyon” then. […] Canyonicity is all about depth; the deeper the better. But surprisingly, a canyon’s “depth” has been redefined. It was and still is measured from top to bottom. However, canyons that have no rims per se (deep declivities in mountain ranges, for example) are measured relative to the tops of nearby mountain peaks. Even the National Geographic Society embraces this method of determining depth, and to this end the Society has identified and promoted the idea that there are “deeper” and “grander” canyons than Arizona’s famous chasm. This is geological nonsense. [Is the Grand Canyon a Fake? | PDF | via Improbable }
Pundits and the press too often treat terrorism and guerrilla tactics as something new, a departure from old-fashioned ways of war. But nothing could be further from the truth. The Evolution of Irregular War.
Iovine and Dre approached Monster with a dazzling offer: Let’s build electronics. The inside story of one of the all time worst deals in tech.
— It’s hard to think of God dying a mortal death. — Not for me. Actually, I take that back, it’s hard for me to think of him living. — Right. Well, it’s hard for me to think of him dying. (Laughs.) [The Dish]
Richard Feynman and Ralph Leighton had a hard time at restaurants deciding whether to order the best dish they had tried so far or something new, which – who knows – might be even better. So, naturally, they decided to formalize this as a mathematical problem.
The Asch Conformity Experiment [video]