I have a brother that appreciates curvier women, but is married to an athlete. He purposely positions himself outside of Lane Bryant when waiting for his wife to finish her shopping elsewhere in the mall. His not very subtle passive aggressiveness often works in motivating his wife to get in and out. Hey. It beats tossing yourself over a rail and landing in an Auntie Anne’s kiosk. [Really?/Gawker | Context: Man Commits Suicide in Mall After Girlfriend Refuses to Stop Shopping]
What if the universe had no beginning, and time stretched back infinitely without a big bang to start things off? That’s one possible consequence of an idea called “rainbow gravity,” so-named because it posits that gravity’s effects on spacetime are felt differently by different wavelengths of light, aka different colors in the rainbow. […] “It’s a model that I do not believe has anything to do with reality,” says Sabine Hossenfelder of the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics. [Scientific American]
Features of fictional folk are more extreme than in reality; real folks are boring by comparison. Fictional folks are more expressive, and give off clearer signs about their feelings and intentions. Their motives are simpler and clearer, and their actions are better explained by their motives and local visible context. Who they are now is better predicted by their history. […] In real life, coincidence happens all the time. But in fiction […] Your readers will refuse to believe it. [via overcoming bias]
Taylor argues that this view of the self forces on us the obligation to “live up to our originality.” Artists become high priests of this new religion, paradoxically modeling modes of individual inimitability. But nothing has done more to substantiate this aspiration than consumerism. It has aspired to manifest the fathomless depths within as an endless plentitude of goods to acquire to express the self and limit it at the same time. [Rob Horning]
American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life… […] The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players. […] The Pentagon’s Special Operations Command in 2006 and 2007 worked with several foreign companies — including an obscure digital media business based in Prague — to build games that could be downloaded to mobile phones, according to people involved in the effort. They said the games, which were not identified as creations of the Pentagon, were then used as vehicles for intelligence agencies to collect information about the users. [ProPublica]
The eminent sociologist Erving Goffman suggested that life is a series of performances, in which we are all continually managing the impression we give other people. […] But recently we have learned that some of our social responses occur even without conscious consideration. […] [L]ab experiments show that when people happen to be holding a hot drink rather than a cold one, they are more likely to trust strangers. Another found that people are much more helpful and generous when they step off a rising escalator than when they step off a descending escalator—in fact, ascending in any fashion seems to trigger nicer behavior. […] Neuroscientists have found that environmental cues trigger immediate responses in the human brain even before we are aware of them. As you move into a space, the hippocampus, the brain’s memory librarian, is put to work immediately. It compares what you are seeing at any moment to your earlier memories in order to create a mental map of the area, but it also sends messages to the brain’s fear and reward centers. Its neighbor, the hypothalamus, pumps out a hormonal response to those signals even before most of us have decided if a place is safe or dangerous. Places that seem too sterile or too confusing can trigger the release of adrenaline and cortisol, the hormones associated with fear and anxiety. Places that seem familiar, navigable, and that trigger good memories, are more likely to activate hits of feel-good serotonin, as well as the hormone that rewards and promotes feelings of interpersonal trust: oxytocin. [The Atlantic]
How Robots Will Transform Human Intimacy Robots are smartish seeming machines that will soon be able to perform complicated but mundane tasks, such as driving and helping the elderly to get dressed.
In 1780, Immanuel Kant wrote that “sexual love makes of the loved person an Object of appetite.” And after that appetite is sated? The loved one, Kant explained, “is cast aside as one casts away a lemon which has been sucked dry.” Many contemporary feminists agree that sexual desire, particularly when elicited by pornographic images, can lead to “objectification.” The objectifier (typically a man) thinks of the target of his desire (typically a woman) as a mere thing, lacking autonomy, individuality and subjective experience. This idea has some laboratory support. Studies have found that viewing people’s bodies, as opposed to their faces, makes us judge those people as less intelligent, less ambitious, less competent and less likable. One neuroimaging experiment found that, for men, viewing pictures of sexualized women induced lowered activity in brain regions associated with thinking about other people’s minds. [NY Times]
Antidepressants are often considered to be mere placebos despite the fact that meta-analyses are able to rank them. It follows that it should also be possible to rank different placebos, which are all made of sucrose. To explore this issue, which is rather more epistemological than clinical, we designed an unusual meta-analysis to investigate whether the effects of placebo in one situation are different from the effects of placebo in another situation. [BMC Medecine]
Sixty-four percent of the 875 respondents said they had experienced “intimidation, threats, or abuse” in the office or in the field. Most of the abuse was perpetrated by the journalists’ bosses, superiors, and co-workers.
Two months ago, we reported that Snapchat was in talks to raise around $200 million in Series C funding at a $4 billion valuation. Then came word yesterday that it had raised $50 million at a valuation shy of $2 billion. Behind Snapchat’s disappearing valuation.
Remember Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy champion? What If IBM’s Watson Dethroned Google?