A dark unfathom’d tide of interminable pride

The ’sex selfie stick’ lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina

The device offers the unprecedented opportunity to be on the phone with someone’s genitals.

{ Independent | Continue reading }

And the cloud that took the form (When the rest of Heaven was blue) Of a demon in my view

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[O]ne in six serial killers are female. Their crimes tend to go undetected for longer than their male counterparts, likely in part because “our culture is in denial of women’s proclivity for aggression.”

Harrison and her team have profiled 64 US female serial killers active between the years 1821 to 2008. […] The female serial killers had murdered between them at least 331 victims (making an average of 6 victims each). Their victims are of both sexes, but disproportionately male. The women had an average of age of 32 at the time of their first killing, and poisoning was the most common method. […] “the women in our study poisoned, smothered, burned, choked, shot, bludgeoned, and shot newborns, children, elderly, and ill people as well as healthy adults; most often those who knew and likely trusted them.”

Many of the homicidal women had stereotypically female professions, including being nurses and baby-sitters. They tended to be above average in physical attractiveness, which may have helped to engender trust in their victims.

As to motives, the most common was “hedonistic”, a category in forensic psychology that refers to killing for financial gain, lust or thrill, with nearly half the sample fitting this category. The next most common motive was “power-seeking”, which includes killing people in one’s care. […]

Quotes from some of the killers hint at their psychopathological thinking:

“They [the children] bothered me, so I decided to kill them.”

“I like to attend funerals. I’m happy when someone is dying.”

“That is my ambition, to have killed more people – more helpless people – than any man or woman who has ever lived.”

A striking contrast with male serial killers is the relative absence of sexual violence and deviance. Two exceptions were a female serial killer who was a rapist, and another who reportedly barked like a dog during sex. But overall, the researchers highlighted how the women in their study primarily killed for resources, while their male counterparts kill for sex. This follows evolutionary theory, Harrison and her co-authors explained, in the sense that men are said to be motivated more by seeking multiple sexual opportunities, while women are motivated to find a committed partner with sufficient resources. […]

The new analysis points to a worrying trend: a 150 per cent increase in the number of reported cases of female serial killers since 1975.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it

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Over the past twenty years, DNA analysis has revolutionized forensic science, and has become a dominant tool in law enforcement. Today, DNA evidence is key to the conviction or exoneration of suspects of various types of crime, from theft to rape and murder. However, the disturbing possibility that DNA evidence can be faked has been overlooked. It turns out that standard molecular biology techniques such as PCR, molecular cloning, and recently developed whole genome amplification (WGA), enable anyone with basic equipment and know-how to produce practically unlimited amounts of in vitro synthesized (artificial) DNA with any desired genetic profile. This artificial DNA can then be applied to surfaces of objects or incorporated into genuine human tissues and planted in crime scenes.

Here we show that the current forensic procedure fails to distinguish between such samples of blood, saliva, and touched surfaces with artificial DNA, and corresponding samples with in vivo generated (natural) DNA. Furthermore, genotyping of both artificial and natural samples with Profiler Plus1 yielded full profiles with no anomalies. In order to effectively deal with this problem, we developed an authentication assay, which distinguishes between natural and artificial DNA based on methylation analysis of a set of genomic loci: in natural DNA, some loci are methylated and others are unmethylated, while in artificial DNA all loci are unmethylated.

{ Forensic Science International: Genetics | PDF (2009) }

‘To him who looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn presents a rational aspect.’ –Hegel

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Google started testing their cars on public roads back in 2009, long before any regulations were even dreamed of. An examination of the California Vehicle Code indicated there was nothing in there prohibiting testing.

For testing purposes, Google has a trained safety driver sitting behind the wheel, ready to take it at any moment. Any attempt to take the wheel or use the pedals disables the automatic systems and the safety driver is in control. The safety drivers took special driving safety courses and were instructed to take control if they have any doubt about safe operation. For example, if a vehicle is not braking as expected when approaching a cross walk, take the controls immediately, do not wait to see if it will detect the pedestrians and stop.

The safety drivers are accompanied by a second person in the passenger seat. Known as the software operator, this person monitors diagnostic screens showing what the system is perceiving and planning, and tells the safety driver if something appeared to be going wrong. The software operator is also an extra set of eyes on the road from time to time.

Many other developers have taken this approach, and some of the regulations written have coded something similar to it into law.

This style of testing makes sense if you consider how we train teen-agers to drive. We allow them to get behind the wheel with almost no skill at all, and a driving instructor sits in the passenger seat. While not required, professional driving instructors tend to have their own brake pedal, and know how and when to grab the wheel if need be. They let the student learn and make minor mistakes, and correct the major ones.

The law doesn’t require that, of course. After taking a simple written test, a teen is allowed to drive with a learner’s permit as long as almost any licenced adult is in the car with them. While it varies from country to country, we let these young drivers get full solo licences after only a fairly simple written test and a short road test which covers only a tiny fraction of situations we will encounter on the road. They then get their paperwork and become the most dangerous drivers on the road.

In contrast, robocar testing procedures have been much more strict, with more oversight by highly trained supervisors. With regulations, there have been requirements for high insurance bonds and special permits to go even further. Both software systems and teens will make mistakes, but the reality is the teens are more dangerous.

{ Brad Templeton | Continue reading }

related { Will You Need a New License to Operate a Self-Driving Car? }

‘Free from what?’ —Nietzsche

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{ Adam Savage’s Overlook Hotel Maze Model | watch video }

Every day, the same, again

521.jpgThere’s too much poo on Mount Everest, says mountaineering boss

We’ve killed off half the world’s animals since 1970

Wall Street Has Its Eyes on Millennials’ $30 Trillion Inheritance

On the origins of dishonesty: From parents to children

After handshakes, we sniff people’s scent on our hand

Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults

Adults only really catch flu about twice a decade, study

Genetically-modified mice resistant to frostbite

Life ‘not as we know it’ possible on Saturn’s moon Titan could harbor methane-based, oxygen-free cells that metabolize, reproduce and do everything life on Earth does.

What would happen if an 800-kiloton nuclear warhead detonated above midtown Manhattan?

The Price of Oil Is About to Blow a Hole in Corporate Accounting.

A Decentralized Lie Detector

We have a hallway in our apartment we would like to convert into the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding 1994 museum.

Another day has gone, I’m still all alone

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“I’ve actually never met Chris in person but I am definitely in love with him,” Sarah said.

“He’s just spectacular. Chris and I have discussed getting married - I believe Chris does consider me his wife.”

Chris claimed he was originally from Milan and moved to the US 18 years ago, saying he was on a business trip to South Africa when they met and is now stuck in Benin because of “trouble” with the government.

Sarah has sent him money for stolen cards, phone charges, hotel bills, lawyers, a nanny, an expired visa and when Chris claimed the money she posted had been stolen. […]

“He assured me that when he gets home he’s going to pay me back – every dime,” Sarah told Dr Phil.

“He’s made five or six attempts to come back to the US to meet me. Every time they arrest him and put him in jail and then they want more money. […]

The pair talk for up to four hours on the phone a day […] “He sounded Italian, now his accent’s kind of changed I don’t know if he’s adapted to where he’s at… in Benin,” she added.

{ Independent | Continue reading }

art { Luis Camnitzer, This is a Mirror, You are a Written Sentence, 1968 }

Every day, the same, again

51.jpgA start-up offers suspected shoplifters the chance to pay $320 to stop the police being called

Vial of Winston Churchill’s Blood to Be Sold at Auction [NY Times]

No, Head Transplants Are Definitely Not Going To Happen

In a rare legal move, prosecutors brought a deceased woman’s vagina into a murder trial Friday for jurors to view during testimony.

Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk

New study suggests yet another potential health benefit of coffee consumption: it could reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis.

Saunas help you live longer, study finds

Thinking about money makes you feel physically colder

Scientists discover part of brain that calculates the intentions of others

Is your punctuation as distinctive as your DNA?

Researchers create world’s first 3D-printed jet engines

20-year-old Military Weather Satellite Apparently Exploded in Orbit

Nicaragua has enlisted a little-known Chinese billionaire to dig a 161-mile canal across the country and link the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. If built, the Nicaragua Canal would be longer, wider, and deeper than the 51-mile Panama Canal.

The Wankband comes in the form of a high-tech wristband that generates power as the user creates a frenetic movement while pleasuring themselves. [Thanks Tim]

‘Which is more difficult, to awaken one who sleeps or to awaken one who, awake, dreams that he is awake?’ —Kierkegaard

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Psychology journal bans P values

P values are widely used in science to test null hypotheses. For example, in a medical study looking at smoking and cancer, the null hypothesis could be that there is no link between the two. The closer to zero the P value gets, the greater the chance the null hypothesis is false; many researchers accept findings as ‘significant’ if the P value comes in at less than 0.05. But P values are slippery, and sometimes, significant P values vanish when experiments and statistical analyses are repeated. […]

“We believe that the p < .05 bar is too easy to pass and sometimes serves as an excuse for lower quality research,”

{ Nature | Continue reading }

Until then, BTFATH

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I remember how artists in the ’80s made the emphatic point that under no circumstances would they be represented in art fairs.

(Laughter around the table)

They thought that it was in poor taste. That is how it was in the beginning. And has been quite astonishing to see how things have turned around—in 30 years.

{ Stefan Stux/Artnet | Continue reading }

‘It is no more in our power to love always than it was not to love at all.’ –La Bruyère

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Darwin made a famous distinction between men’s and women’s mating strategies, between choosy, coy females and ardent, promiscuous males. […]

Yet, as also anticipated by both Darwin and Trivers, empirical studies of both non-humans and humans reveal extraordinary flexibility in mating and investment behavior, both within and between the sexes. Reproductive strategies are clearly not an invariant, species-specific characteristic, but rather facultative responses to individual- and population-level social and ecological circumstances, rendering conditional mating strategies optimal. […]

For example, across the ethnographic record, human societies can range from polyandrous to polygynous mating patterns, same-sex marriage can be institutionalized as with woman-to-woman unions in East Africa and men can spend considerable amounts of time and effort in beautifying themselves as in West Africa. […]

Until recently, the study of sex-differentiated reproductive behaviour has relied on the long-standing model of sexual selection developed by Trivers. This model links sex roles directly to the differential investment in young by males and females. In its simplest form, this model posits that because males invest less initially (in sperm), they have a higher potential reproductive rate (PRR) and benefit more from mating multiply than do females. As a consequence, selection typically would favour mate-seeking and competitive behaviour in males, and heavy investment in parental care in females. […]

Using data from eight Makushi communities of southern Guyana, characterized by varying adult sex ratios contingent on migration, we show that even within a single ethnic group, male mating effort varies in predictable ways with the ASR. At male-biased sex ratios, men’s and women’s investment in mating effort are indistinguishable; only when men are in the minority are they more inclined towards short-term, low investment relationships than women.

{ Royal Society Open Science | Continue reading }

Using new data from the United Kingdom’s Annual Population Survey, we find that […] marriage may help ease the causes of the mid-life dip in life satisfaction and that the benefits of marriage are unlikely to be short-lived. We explore friendship as a mechanism which could help explain a causal relationship between marriage and life satisfaction, and find that well-being effects of marriage are about twice as large for those whose spouse is also their best friend.

{ National Bureau of Economic Research | Continue reading }

Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?

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All galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their center. These start out small—with masses equivalent to between 100 and 100,000 suns—and build up over time by consuming the gas, dust, and stars around them or by merging with other black holes to reach sizes measured in millions or billions of solar masses. Such binge eating usually takes billions of years, but a team of astronomers was stunned to discover what is, in galactic terms, a monstrous baby: a gigantic black hole of 12 billion solar masses in a barely newborn galaxy, just 875 million years after the big bang.

{ Science | Continue reading }