Triple-Decker Weekly, 56

Bizzare subway ‘kiss’ assault.

Christopher Knight went into the central Maine wilderness 27 years ago. […] He built a hut on a slope in the woods, where he spent his days reading books and meditating. There he lived, re-entering civilization only to steal supplies from camps under the cover of darkness. During those nearly three decades, he spoke just once to another person – until he was arrested during a burglary last week. In between, Knight told police, he committed more than 1,000 burglaries, always taking only what he needed to survive. […] Knight said he stole everything he has, except for his aviator-style eyeglasses, which are the same pair he wore in 1986. […] Knight went to great lengths to make the camp invisible from the ground and the air, even covering a yellow shovel with a black bag. Knight never had a fire, even on the coldest days, for fear of being detected. He covered shiny surfaces, like his metal trash cans, with moss and dirt and painted green a clear plastic sheet over his tent. Knight even situated his campsite facing east and west to make the best use of the sun throughout the day. […] Knight carefully avoided snow, stepped on rocks when he could and even avoided breaking branches in thick growth. Knight usually put on weight in the fall so he would have to eat less in the winter and thus avoid making treks for food and risk leaving prints in the snow. [Morning Sentinel]

What technology, or potential technology, worries you the most? In the nearer term I think various developments in biotechnology and synthetic biology are quite disconcerting. We are gaining the ability to create designer pathogens and there are these blueprints of various disease organisms that are in the public domain—you can download the gene sequence for smallpox or the 1918 flu virus from the Internet. So far the ordinary person will only have a digital representation of it on their computer screen, but we’re also developing better and better DNA synthesis machines, which are machines that can take one of these digital blueprints as an input, and then print out the actual RNA string or DNA string. Soon they will become powerful enough that they can actually print out these kinds of viruses. So already there you have a kind of predictable risk, and then once you can start modifying these organisms in certain kinds of ways, there is a whole additional frontier of danger that you can foresee. [Interview with Nick Bostrom]

I think one of the things that make planning (and living) life so hard is the combination of the facts that: Its end date is uncertain; It is rather highly likely that one’s faculties will be duller towards the end. If it was certain that when we sleep on our 40th birthday, we wouldn’t wake up, how different would the world be? […] There will be considerable pressure to have kids at age eighteen or so. […] Other people would attempt to maintain a collegiate lifestyle through their death at age forty. […] The likelihood of warfare would rise, if only because the sage elderly won’t be around and male hormones will run rampant. […] Credit would be harder to come by and the rate of home ownership would fall. [Tyler Cowen]

Russian criminal tattoos have a complex system of symbols which can give quite detailed information about the wearer. Not only do the symbols carry meaning but the area of the body on which they are placed may be meaningful too. […] Tattoos done in a Russian prison often have a distinct bluish color (due to being made with ink from a ballpoint pen) and usually appear somewhat blurred because of the lack of instruments to draw fine lines. The ink is often created from burning the heel of a shoe and mixing the soot with urine, and injected into the skin utilizing a sharpened guitar string attached to an electric shaver. […] Barbed wire across the forehead signifies a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole (tattoos on the face usually signifies an expectation that the bearer will never leave prison). […] Celtic Cross: Part of the racist white power movement. It has also been used to represent crosshairs of a gun, meaning that wearer is a hit man and he too will meet a violent end one day. […] Skull: Signifies murder, if the murder was significant enough to merit the tattoo. [Wikipedia]

Between 1948 and 1986, during his career as a prison guard, Danzig Baldaev made over 3,000 drawings of tattoos. [more]

In 1980, Kim Hyun-hee was sent to North Korea’s elite spy training school in the remote mountains, she was given a new name and intensive training in martial arts, weapons and languages.

Drawings from the Gulag.

From boat cruises and spas to their own obituary section in the leading newspaper, pets are pampered in a big way in Singapore.

City bills cyclist $1,200 for damage to police car that struck him.

In San Francisco, if you ever leave your bike unlocked, it will be stolen. If you use a cable lock to secure your bike, it will be stolen at some point. Unless you lock your bike with medieval-esque u-locks, your bike will be stolen from the streets of most American cities. Even if you take these strong precautions, your bike may still get stolen. What Happens to Stolen Bicycles?

French sports doctor who spent 16 years studying the busts of 330 women aged 18 to 35 suggests bras are useless. Going without could improve firmness.

New technologies are emerging that could radically reduce our need to sleep – if we can bear to use them.

A new cure for insomnia?

Why do we sigh? Does it help regulate my breathing when I’m stressed? Is it a subconscious action I do to express to those around me that I’m anxious or upset? Perhaps a mental reset button, so to speak? In fact, it may be a combination of all three. In a series of studies, Teigen and colleagues at University of Oslo explored the context in which people sigh—when are people doing it, and how is it perceived by others? [Gaines, on Brains]

Sophocles is sometimes credited with having introduced the idea that, in the theatre, spectators should be able to identify with the characters. Two thousand years later, Shakespeare went further and suggested how we might also identify with the actors. “All the world’s a stage,” says Jaques in As You Like It, “And all the men and women merely players.” But it was not until 1959 that the dramaturgical metaphor for human life was theorised fully in sociologist Erving Goffman’s seminal The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. […] Whenever we are with others we are always “performing”, trying to control how we appear to them, consciously or otherwise. […] Most things change according to their situation and each variant reveals another aspect of their entireties. To say we are only ourselves in one kind of situation is as nonsensical as saying water is only itself when liquid, and that steam and ice are just performances. […] If you resort to humour when you’re hurt, for instance, someone could comment that you are “wearing a mask”. But it might be a coping strategy. […] Rather than worry about whether you’re being “real”, it might be more helpful to ask more specific questions, such as whether a coping strategy is working or not. [FT]

With human decisions come human biases, even in situations that demand objectivity. For example, crimes involving more victims can sometimes receive lesser punishments, an outcome known as the “identifiable victim effect.”  With more victims, each one becomes less identifiable, and this elicits less sympathy for the victims and a corresponding punishment that’s less severe. A new study by a group of Tilburg University psychologists lays out another bias that can creep into evaluations of wrongdoing. In a series of six experiments the researchers found evidence for the “insured victim effect” — the tendency for perpetrators to be judged differently if the losses they cause are covered by insurance. [peer-reviewed by my neurons]

Low on self-control? Surrounding yourself with strong-willed friends may help.

One of the prevailing personality stereotypes we rarely question is that extremely extroverted people do best in sales. On the flip side, extremely introverted people may as well not even try to sell anything because it’s a foregone conclusion that they simply can’t. Grant found that they pulled in roughly the same percentage of sales.

A new study reveals what happens in our brain when we decide to purchase a piece of music when we hear it for the first time.

Scientists have come up with a way to make whole brains transparent [video]. More: Looking through the brain with CLARITY.]

Lasers that stimulate targeted neurons ease cocaine addiction in rats.

A technically sounder basis for worrying more about H7N9 is this: H7N9 shows signs of mammalian adaptation that H5N1 doesn’t show.

“Higher levels of carbon in the ocean are causing oysters to grow slower, and their predators — such as blue crabs — to grow faster.”

Can You Patent A Steak?

How to Scramble Eggs Inside Their Shell.

Teens Abandoning Social Networks, Study Says.

Texting, social networking and other media use linked to poor academic performance.

Frequent texters tend to be shallow, research suggests. [Thanks Erwin]

Hijacking airplanes with an Android phone. By taking advantage of two new technologies for the discovery, information gathering and exploitation phases of the attack, and by creating an exploit framework (SIMON) and an Android app (PlaneSploit) that delivers attack messages to the airplanes’ Flight Management Systems (computer unit + control display unit), he demonstrated the terrifying ability to take complete control of aircrafts by making virtual planes “dance to his tune.” [Net Security]

United flight diverted after family complains about movie.

Information technology amplifies irrational group behavior.

How Wireless Carriers Are Monetizing Your Movements. Data that shows where people live, work, and play is being sold to businesses and city planners, as mobile operators seek new sources of revenue.

Secrets of FBI Smartphone Surveillance Tool Revealed in Court Fight.

‘Secretbook’ Lets You Encode Hidden Messages in Your Facebook Pics.

How does Bitcoin work?

A real-estate agent keeps her own home on the market an average of ten days longer [than she would for a client] and sells it for an extra 3-plus percent, or $10,000 on a $300,000 house. When she sells her own house, an agent holds out for the best offer; when she sells yours, she encourages you to take the first decent offer that comes along. [via Overcoming Bias]

Diamonds Are Bullshit.

Why Humidity Makes Your Hair Curl.

Why People in Cities Walk Fast

How people interact with elevators.

A Complete History of Breakout. [Thanks Tim]

One story coming out of Joint Special Operations Command is that the Esquire “shooter” isn’t the shooter after all. Sure he was there, but he wasn’t the man who shot UBL, and ended his life. […] The “Shooter” was removed from his DEVGRU Squadron for talking about the operation openly after being warned to “can it.”

A second problem is that Foucault’s concept of resistance lacks a notion of emancipation. As the autonomist Marxist John Holloway argues, “in Foucault’s analysis, there are a whole host of resistances which are integral to power, but there is no possibility of emancipation. The only possibility is an endlessly shifting constellation of power and resistance.” [Logos]

Going to Coachella? You’re a Loser and Part of the Problem and Probably Fat.

Google Street View Hyperlapse. [How to]

James Gulliver Hancock is on a mission to draw all the buildings in New York City.

The physics of a pulled tablecloth, seen in slow motion.

Is playing the harmonica linked to male infertility?

How Male Strippers Achieve and Maintain Their Stage Boners.

15 Mid-Century Modern Dream Homes that will Kill Your Children. [Thanks Tim]