I’ve been a massage therapist for many years, now. I know what people look like. People have been undressing for me for a long time. I know what you look like: a glance at you, and I can picture pretty well what you’d look like on my table. Let’s start here with what nobody looks like: nobody looks like the people in magazines or movies. Not even models. Nobody. […] Adults sag. It doesn’t matter how fit they are. Every decade, an adult sags a little more. Cory Doctorow | Thanks Tim]
By 1790, the new republic was in arrears on $11,710,000 in foreign debt. These were obligations payable in gold and silver. Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the Treasury, duly paid them. In doing so, he cured a default. Hamilton’s dollar was defined as a little less than 1/20 of an ounce of gold. So were those of his successors, all the way up to the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. But in the whirlwind of the “first hundred days” of the New Deal, the dollar came in for redefinition. The country needed a cheaper and more abundant currency, FDR said. By and by, the dollar’s value was reduced to 1/35 of an ounce of gold. By any fair definition, this was another default. Creditors both domestic and foreign had lent dollars weighing just what the Founders had said they should weigh. They expected to be repaid in identical money. [Jim Grant/Zero Hedge]
When people want to direct the attention of others, they naturally do so by pointing, starting from a very young age. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on October 10 have shown that elephants spontaneously get the gist of human pointing and can use it as a cue for finding food. That’s all the more impressive given that many great apes fail to understand pointing when it’s done for them by human caretakers, the researchers say. [EurekAlert]
Cursing, researchers say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, whether living or dead, spoken by millions or by a single small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech, some variant on comedian George Carlin’s famous list of the seven dirty words that are not supposed to be uttered on radio or television. […] Researchers point out that cursing is often an amalgam of raw, spontaneous feeling and targeted, gimlet-eyed cunning. When one person curses at another, they say, the curser rarely spews obscenities and insults at random, but rather will assess the object of his wrath, and adjust the content of the “uncontrollable” outburst accordingly. Because cursing calls on the thinking and feeling pathways of the brain in roughly equal measure and with handily assessable fervor, scientists say that by studying the neural circuitry behind it, they are gaining new insights into how the different domains of the brain communicate — and all for the sake of a well-venomed retort. […] “Studies show that if you’re with a group of close friends, the more relaxed you are, the more you swear,” Burridge said. [Natalie Angier/SF Gate]
Even though the ways languages grasp the world may vary widely from one language to another, they all build, in fact, the same contents, and equivalent conceptions of the world. Any text in any language can be translated into a text in another language. [Interview with Claude Hagège/NY Times]
Search engine optimization is filling the Internet with misinformation about human bathroom habits and more. How Google flushes knowledge down the toilet.
No one had previously looked specifically at the differing responses in the brain to poetry and prose. In research published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, the team found activity in a “reading network” of brain areas which was activated in response to any written material. But they also found that poetry aroused several of the regions in the brain which respond to music. These areas, predominantly on the right side of the brain, had previously been shown as to give rise to the “shivers down the spine” caused by an emotional reaction to music. [University of Exeter]
In the construction of advertisement images, emphasis is placed on information that is thought to be influential within the dominant culture of the target audience, such as commonly held values and beliefs (Wolin, 2003). Goffman (1978), proposed the idea that human models in advertisement images are intentionally choreographed to convey particular values concerning social identity and expectations. The values chosen for representation by human models in advertisement images are a reflection of the dominant cultural beliefs regarding social identities. As a result, the representation of human relationships in advertisement images offers research a unique view of normative discourses regarding social identities related to sexual orientation and gender. [The Qualitative Report | PDF]
A new study claims to identify the times of the week that women are feeling the most insecure about their bodies, and recommends that brands “concentrate media during prime vulnerability moments.” [Thanks Tim]
A German scientist is developing a new way of testing prices by measuring brain waves. Some marketing critics are horrified by the idea of feel-good pricing, but others argue it could make products more successful.
The brain of a female migraineur looks so unlike the brain of a male migraineur, asserts Harvard scientist Nasim Maleki, that we should think of migraines in men and women as “different diseases altogether.”
There are many theories about why humans cry ranging from the biophysical to the evolutionary. One of the most compelling hypotheses is Jeffrey Kottler’s, discussed at length in his 1996 book The Language of Tears. Kottler believes that humans cry because, unlike every other animal, we take years and years to be able to fend for ourselves. Until that time, we need a behavior that can elicit the sympathetic consideration of our needs from those around us who are more capable (read: adults). We can’t just yell for help though—that would alert predators to helpless prey—so instead, we’ve developed a silent scream: we tear up. […] In a study published in 2000, Vingerhoets and a team of researchers found that adults, unlike children, rarely cry in public. They wait until they’re in the privacy of their homes—when they are alone or, at most, in the company of one other adult. On the face of it, the “crying-as-communication” hypothesis does not fully hold up, and it certainly doesn’t explain why we cry when we’re alone, or in an airplane surrounded by strangers we have no connection to. […] In the same 2000 study, Vingerhoet’s team also discovered that, in adults, crying is most likely to follow a few specific antecedents. When asked to choose from a wide range of reasons for recent spells of crying, participants in the study chose “separation” or “rejection” far more often than other options, which included things like “pain and injury” and “criticism.” Also of note is that, of those who answered “rejection,” the most common subcategory selected was “loneliness.” [The Atlantic]
In the industrial revolution — and revolutions since — there was an invigoration of jobs. For instance, assembly lines for cars led to a vast infrastructure that could support mass production giving rise to everything from car dealers to road building and utility expansion into new suburban areas. But the digital revolution is not following the same path, said Daryl Plummer. “What we’re seeing is a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job,” he said. [ComputerWorld]
To measure the degree of relatedness between populations, we used genetic distance. […] Genetic distance is like a molecular clock – it measures average separation times between populations. […] Our hypothesis is that, at a later stage, when populations enter into contact with each other, differences in cultural traits create barriers to exchange, communication, and imitation. […] Our model implies that after a major innovation, such as the Industrial Revolution, the effect of genealogical distance should be pronounced, but that it should decline as more and more societies adopt the innovations of the technological frontier. [Vox]
Hollywood talent agency paid $150K to Satisfy Gambler’s Debt to Deadmau5, settling a dispute over what might be the most expensive five minutes ever at a Las Vegas nightclub.
You are doing something new in making exclusive use of second-hand images. [David Bourdon interviewed by Andy Warhol ]