Happiness has long been regarded as one of the highest goals in human life. If our sense of happiness is closely connected to brain functions, future methods may allow us to control happiness through refined, effective brain manipulation. Can we regard such happiness as true happiness? In this paper I will make some remarks on the manipulation of the sense of happiness and illuminate the relationship between human dignity and happiness. [Journal of Philosophy of Life | PDF]
Why should we deal with pornography from a feminist perspective? The answer to this question is straightforward. Pornography is the key mass media genre in which sexuality is made visible and performed. Sexuality, on the other hand, is one of the main areas where gender and gender relations are negotiated. In this article, I will examine different – and in particular conflicting – feminist positions with respect to pornography which have been developed from the 1970s until today. The focus will be on the issue of the construction of sexual and gender identities. I will analyze how these identities in regards to the pornographic body are negotiated or even shifted within these different feminist discourses and practices. Dildos and cyborgs will be discussed in the final part of this article, which deals with current queer-feminist debates in the field of so called post-porn. [Gender Forum]
In psychology, this phenomenon is called “gaslighting,” a term that has its origins in a 1938 play (and a 1940 film) called Gas Light, where a man leads his wife to believe that she is insane in order to steal from her. A classic example of psychological gaslighting is the following: Spouse A has an extramarital affair and tries to cover it up. Spouse B finds a suspicious text message in A’s phone and expresses concern to A. A then accuses B of being paranoid, and this pattern repeats every time B raises concerns. Eventually B begins to question his or her own perceptions. [Psych Your Mind]
I write as I await the birth of my second son. If trends about fatherhood continue as they have over the last several decades, the chances are that he will have children in his 40s, and (some of) my grandchildren will be in their 40s or 50s in the year 2112. What sort of world will they inhabit? The last century has been the age of political rights. Never in our history have so many people taken part in choosing their leaders and having a say in how their societies are governed. To be sure, this unparalleled expansion of civil and political rights remains incomplete. Yet it is profoundly significant, not only due to its transformative impact on the lives of billions, but also because so many other phenomena in recent history are connected to it. [Daron Acemoglu/MIT | PDF]
It’s famously tough getting through the Google interview process. […] 1. You are shrunk to the height of a 2p coin and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do? […] 3. Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco. […] 6. Use a programming language to describe a chicken. [Wired]
Psychology research shows most people wrongly assume their thoughts can become reality — even people who say they don’t believe in telekinesis or ESP. “If you think about something and then it happens, you feel a little bit responsible for it,” Hutson said. It’s an irrational feeling. Why do we feel it? [LiveScience]
When the sun goes down in the subtropical forests of Puerto Rico, hundreds of thousands of bats emerge from the caves that stud the island’s northern end. After a day of sleeping, the animals are ready for a hard day’s night of hunting insects. For some of them, though, there will be no feast of beetles and mosquitos, and they’ll instead wind up a meal themselves for the snakes that have set up an ambush at the cave’s entrance. Sometimes, a snake that’s not having any luck with its own hunting will attempt to steal a bat from another snake. On one occasion, a biologist watched three snakes fight over a large bat carcass for over an hour and a half. [Matt Soniak | + video]
For Mr. Systrom [co-founder of Instagram], the connections forged at Stanford were crucial. […] A colleague at Google, where Mr. Systrom worked straight out of college, introduced him to Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist who had already invested millions in Facebook. In the spring of 2010, even before Instagram was born, Mr. Andreessen wrote him a check for $250,000. [NY Times]
From the mouth and nose, through the pharynx into the trachea, separating into the left and right main bronchi at the larynx. This is the start of your airway. This is to be the site of inflammation, or rather, the site of battle. Across the landscape that is the airways, two sides are about to go to war. Invading pathogens versus human inflammatory cells, in a war that will eventually lead to pneumonia. [science left untitled]
In Bailey’s Democracy, David Bailey photographed a raft of people in the nude, including Damien Hirst, pulling his prepuce and mugging at the camera. A telling image of Hirst’s skills – not that much, stretched not very far. [Craig Raine/New Statesman]?
Women with heart disease are more likely to give birth to female rather than male babies according to a new study. [EurekAlert]
A new study shows that images of the left side of the face are perceived and rated as more pleasant than pictures of the right side of the face, possibly due to the fact that we present a greater intensity of emotion on the left side of our face. [Springer]
The study compared the software-generated ratings given to more than 22,000 short essays, written by students in junior high schools and high school sophomores, to the ratings given to the same essays by trained human readers. The differences were minute. [Inside Higher Ed]
Painful experiences at the dentist might cause more anxiety for men and women with red hair, who were twice as likely to avoid dental care than people with dark hair. [CNN]
Mind uploading would involve simulating a human brain in a computer in enough detail that the “simulation” becomes, for all practical purposes, a perfect copy and experiences consciousness, just like protein-based human minds. If functionalism is true, as many cognitive scientists and philosophers believe, then all the features of human consciousness that we know and love — including all our memories, personality, and sexual quirks — would be preserved through the transition. By simultaneously disassembling the protein brain as the computer brain is constructed, only one implementation of the person in question would exist at any one time, eliminating any unnecessary philosophical confusion. Whether the computer upload is “the same person” is up for the person and his/her family and friends to decide. [h+]
Oh, Sallie Mae. Like a foxy country girl in some daisy dukes. Healthy and sun-kissed Miss Sallie Mae from Georgia, from that bountiful South where time moves slow and the fields just can’t help but produce. [Evan Calder Williams/TNI]
Thinking about death can actually be a good thing. An awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values, according to a new analysis of recent scientific studies. Past research suggests that thinking about death is destructive and dangerous, fueling everything from prejudice and greed to violence. [EurekAlert]
In an act of transformation worthy of any magician, scientists have converted scar tissue in the hearts of living mice into beating heart cells. If the same trick works in humans (and we’re still several years away from a trial), it could lead us to a long-sought prize of medicine – a way to mend a broken heart. [NERS/Discover]
Lately I’ve been feeling like we’re about to see art (and not just individual artists) sprint ahead of its criticism for the first time in decades. And watching the critical side in denial as art whooshes past is painful. [Malcolm Harris/The State]
‘Quantified pure existentials’ are sentences (e.g., ‘Some things do not exist’) which meet these conditions: (i) the verb EXIST is contained in, and is, apart from quantificational BE, the only full (as against auxiliary) verb in the sentence; (ii) no (other) logical predicate features in the sentence; (iii) no name or other sub-sentential referring expression features in the sentence; (iv) the sentence contains a quantifier that is not an occurrence of EXIST. Colin McGinn and Rod Girle have alleged that stan- dard first-order logic cannot adequately deal with some such existen- tials. The article defends the view that it can. [Disputatio | PDF]
Vets have been trying to explain strange symptoms in 21 cats that arrived in North-East Scotland, between 2001 and 2010. The animals appeared to have a slowly-progressing neurological disease. This paper observes how the cats walk with an odd gait with stiff, extended tails. Dubbed “robotic cats” due to their movements, they presented a veterinary oddity not seen before. [Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery/SAGE]
A massive genetics study relying on fMRI brain scans and DNA samples from over 20,000 people has revealed what is claimed as the biggest effect yet of a single gene on intelligence – although the effect is small. The gene alters IQ by just 1.29 points. [NewScientist]
Waking up from surgery can be disorienting. One minute you’re in an operating room counting backwards from 10, the next you’re in the recovery ward sans appendix, tonsils, or wisdom teeth. […] Warman says his team is currently looking at whether shining bright light at someone under anesthesia—a well known way to alter the circadian clock—could also reduce the procedure’s disorienting effects. [Science]
Federal authorities have arrested eight men accused of distributing more than $1 million worth of LSD, ecstasy, and other narcotics with an online storefront that used the TOR anonymity service to mask their Internet addresses. [Ars Technica]
Eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, with BP oil pollution believed to be the likely cause. Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists. [thanks GG]
In a study appearing this month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, MIT researchers report that emissions from cars, trucks, planes and power plants cause 13,000 premature deaths in the United Kingdom each year.
Japanese scientists regenerate human hair on bald mouse. The team says it will take about a decade before it can be applied to patients.
“If you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” said Abraham Lincoln. It’s a truism that power magnifies personality — but is it true? A new study says no.
Currently, a depression diagnosis in teens relies on their descriptions of symptoms and their physician’s subjective observations. But now a new study suggests there may be a surer, more objective way: a blood test that identifies major depression by looking for a specific set of genetic markers in the blood. [Time]
Humans can only process small amounts of information at a time (consciously that is… the estimate is that we handle 40,000,000 pieces of information every second, but only 40 of those make it to our conscious brains). 48 Psychological Facts. }
Schmallenberg virus – named after the German town where it was first detected in November – infected sheep and cows on at least 2,600 farms in eight EU countries last year, most likely between August and October. Thought to have been spread for hundreds of miles across Europe by biting midges and warm late summer winds, the virus has since been confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain and Britain. [Reuters]
With rising popularity of Internet-enabled TVs, the usual array of attacks and exploits will soon be coming to a screen near you. Your TV will be hacked.
Nobody seems to love Facebook any more. People will switch when there’s something better on another channel. That’s not true of LinkedIn. [Inc]
One research group inside Facebook, known as the Data Team, is tasked with the challenge of mathematically sifting through that data to look for patterns that explain the how and why of human social interactions. [Technology Review]
Publishers who want to stay in business are going to have to start selling books without digital rights management. DRM locks customers into individual ebookstores and devices, which is the primary way that Amazon perpetuates its stranglehold on this market.
Drug smugglers and human traffickers have seized control of a narrow corridor of untamed Arizona desert along the U.S.–Mexico border, turning ranches — and even backyards — into killing fields. A visit to the most lawless place in America.
Copenhagen frequently tops rankings of the world’s happiest, most liveable and best-designed cities. What Copenhagen can teach the world.
A magician sued a rival magician for copying one of his most famous illusions. The case promises to test the boundaries of copyright law as it applies to magic tricks.
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes. #19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating. Pixar story rules.