‘You’re blind baby, you’re blind from the facts on who you are, cause you’re watching that garbage.’ –Public Enemy

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The philosopher Socrates remains, as he was in his lifetime (469–399 B.C.E.), an enigma, an inscrutable individual who, despite having written nothing, is considered one of the handful of philosophers who forever changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived. […]

The extant sources agree that Socrates was profoundly ugly, resembling a satyr more than a man—and resembling not at all the statues that turned up later in ancient times and now grace Internet sites and the covers of books. He had wide-set, bulging eyes that darted sideways and enabled him, like a crab, to see not only what was straight ahead, but what was beside him as well; a flat, upturned nose with flaring nostrils; and large fleshy lips like an ass. Socrates let his hair grow long, Spartan-style (even while Athens and Sparta were at war), and went about barefoot and unwashed, carrying a stick and looking arrogant. […] Something was peculiar about his gait as well, sometimes described as a swagger so intimidating that enemy soldiers kept their distance. He was impervious to the effects of alcohol and cold, but this made him an object of suspicion to his fellow soldiers on campaign. […]

What seemed strange about Socrates is that he neither labored to earn a living, nor participated voluntarily in affairs of state. Rather, he embraced poverty and, although youths of the city kept company with him and imitated him, Socrates adamantly insisted he was not a teacher and refused all his life to take money for what he did. […] Because Socrates was no transmitter of information that others were passively to receive, he resists the comparison to teachers. Rather, he helped others recognize on their own what is real, true, and good—a new, and thus suspect, approach to education. He was known for confusing, stinging and stunning his conversation partners into the unpleasant experience of realizing their own ignorance, a state sometimes superseded by genuine intellectual curiosity. […] Socrates was usually to be found in the marketplace and other public areas, conversing with a variety of different people—young and old, male and female, slave and free, rich and poor—that is, with virtually anyone he could persuade to join with him in his question-and-answer mode of probing serious matters. […]

It did not help matters that Socrates seemed to have a higher opinion of women than most of his companions had, speaking of “men and women,” “priests and priestesses,” and naming foreign women as his teachers: Socrates claimed to have learned rhetoric from Aspasia of Miletus, the lover of Pericles; and to have learned erotics from the priestess Diotima of Mantinea. […]

Athenian citizen males of the upper social classes did not marry until they were at least thirty, and Athenian females were poorly educated and kept sequestered until puberty, when they were given in marriage by their fathers. Thus the socialization and education of males often involved a relationship for which the English word ‘pederasty’ (though often used) is misleading, in which a youth approaching manhood, fifteen to seventeen, became the beloved of a male lover a few years older, under whose tutelage and through whose influence and gifts, the younger man would be guided and improved. It was assumed among Athenians that mature men would find youths sexually attractive, and such relationships were conventionally viewed as beneficial to both parties by family and friends alike. A degree of hypocrisy (or denial), however, was implied by the arrangement: “officially” it did not involve sexual relations between the lovers and, if it did, then the beloved was not supposed to derive pleasure from the act—but ancient evidence (comedies, vase paintings, et al.) shows that both restrictions were often violated. What was odd about Socrates is that, although he was no exception to the rule of finding youths attractive, he refused the physical advances of even his favorite.

{ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Continue reading }

Allo, non mais allo quoi

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The weather impacts not only upon our mood but also our voice. An international research team has analysed the influence of humidity on the evolution of languages.

Their study has revealed that languages with a wide range of tone pitches are more prevalent in regions with high humidity levels. In contrast, languages with simpler tone pitches are mainly found in drier regions. This is explained by the fact that the vocal folds require a humid environment to produce the right tone.

The tone pitch is a key element of communication in all languages, but more so in some than others. German or English, for example, still remain comprehensible even if all words are intonated evenly by a robot. In Mandarin Chinese, however, the pitch tone can completely change the meaning of a word.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

And shall not Babel be with Lebab?

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Sex in reptiles and fish is determined after conception, during embryogenesis, according to ambient environmental temperature. In contrast, in mammals and birds, sex is determined at conception.

In mammals, male births invariably occur slightly in excess […] with approximately 3% more males born than females. The reason for this discrepancy is uncertain as testicles produce equal numbers of X-bearing and Y-bearing spermatozoa. […]

We have shown that M/F varies in geographical space, exhibiting a latitude gradient, and that this gradient is different in Europe and North America, with more males born towards the south of Europe, compared with the North American continent where more males are born towards the north of the continent.

Other studies have also shown that M/F may vary with time. Several authors have shown that M/F has declined over the second half of the 20th century in various industrialised countries. These include Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, the United States of America, and Finland. In contrast, M/F has been noted to have risen in Ireland over the same period. A non-significant rise in M/F has also been noted in Australia and Japan.

{ J Epidemiol Community Health | Continue reading }

A wide variety of factors have been shown to influence the male to female ratio at birth, which invariably displays a male excess. […] It will be shown that stress, including stress related to political events, influences this ratio.

{ Early Human Development | Continue reading }

related { Study: ”Woman on top” is the most dangerous sex position, responsible for half of all penile fractures }

‘I want to tell young women that sex is OK.’ –Sasha Grey

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In an earlier experimental study by Zillman and Bryant (1988) male and female students were exposed to pornography once a week for six weeks. Those who viewed pornography reported being less satisfied with their partner’s appearance and sexual behavior. They also found that men who consumed pornography were more dominating and less attentive toward their partners. Hence, there is some reason to anticipate that pornography consumption impairs relationship commitment.

Other research suggests that pornography may be beneficial to relationships in some ways, especially in sexual relations. Some evidence suggests that consuming pornography influences individuals’ positive attitude toward sexuality and serves as a safe platform through which to en- gage in sexual exploration. […]

Using a variety of methods, we demonstrated that pornography consumption is associated with weakened commitment to one’s relationship partner. […] in Study 5 we examined a more extreme implication of the weakened commitment—infidelity. We found that pornography consumption corresponded to decreased commitment, which, in turn related to higher levels of infidelity.

{ Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology | PDF }

Every day, the same, again

431.jpgColorado baker is facing a discrimination complaint after refusing to write “God hates homosexuality” on a cake

The Secret to Smart Groups Isn’t Smart People—It’s Women

Frequent Internet and social media users do not have higher stress levels than those who use technology less often. And for women, using certain digital tools decreases stress. [NY Times]

Closing your eyes boosts memory recall

People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened

Environment, more than genetics, shapes immune system

If the decision-making algorithm were to always choose the option in which the fewest people die, the car might avoid another car carrying two passengers by running off the road and risking killing just one passenger: its own. Or it might choose to hit a Volvo instead of a Mini Cooper because its occupants are more likely to survive a crash, which means choosing the vehicle that is more dangerous for its owner to plow into. [NY Times]

Cicada, the Web’s Deepest Mystery

The Mysteries Of White Mist On The Surface of Black Coffee

Computer scientists have developed a set of Android-based tools that turn PacMan into street-based chase games.

Hitler suffered from uncontrollable flatulence. His health issues only got worse after meeting Dr. Theodor Morell.

Why the Inside of a Camel’s Mouth Looks Like a Sarlacc Pit

When did people start smiling in photographs?

The Fish Whisperers provided everything we were looking for in our New Jersey fishing experience

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Ike-Jime is Japanese fish killing technique. In general, Japanese technique is the most advanced in the world, although Australia and New Zealand are pioneering fish anesthetics that advance fish killing even more. Two reasons to care about how your fish are killed: proper technique insures the best quality fish, and is the most humane. […]

The less trauma a fish goes through before and during slaughter, the higher the quality of the meat. Simple as that. […] Compared to red meat and poultry, fish muscle is delicate. It needs all the structure it can get. So unlike red meat, where we like a little protein breakdown to enhance tenderness, anything that breaks down the structure of fish muscle is bad. Stress causes fish muscle tissue to break down.

Stress before or during slaughter –whether from overcrowding, struggling in a net, being lifted into the air, fighting on the end of a line, or even the long term stress from poor aquaculture practice– results in more exhausted fish. The muscles of exhausted fish have a lower pH (due to lactic acid production in the muscle). That low pH enhances the action of enzymes present in the muscle that break down protein. One study even claims that stress increases the amount of those enzymes present in addition to making them more effective. Higher stress also leads to more stress-related compounds in the blood, which some studies show degrade muscle. Finally, tired and stressed fish have less available ATP in their muscles. ATP is the energy source that makes biological systems run. After an animal dies, its muscles remain pliable for as long as it has some reserves of ATP. Once the ATP is used up, the muscles tense and will not loosen up –this is called rigor-mortis. Rigor-mortis in fish can be strong enough to rip apart the connections between muscle fibers, leading to mushy meat. Muscles from stressed fish with low ATP reserves go into rigor-mortis faster and harder than muscles from rested, unstressed fish with more ATP. […]

As soon as a fish is pulled from the water it should be dealt a death blow. Traditional technique is a sharp whack to the head –not such a good technique. Blows to the head are prone to error, and they don’t kill, they stun. Standard Japanese Ike-Jime technique on small fish involves severing the spinal cord and blood vessels between the head and the body –an OK technique as far as preserving fish muscle goes, but not so humane.

{ Cooking Issues | Continue reading | via James }

Yes, of course, we all know Anna Livia

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We’ve all had that experience of going purposefully from one room to another, only to get there and forget why we made the journey. Four years ago, researcher Gabriel Radvansky and his colleagues stripped this effect down, showing that the simple act of passing through a doorway induces forgetting.

Now psychologists at Knox College, USA, have taken things further, demonstrating that merely imagining walking through a doorway is enough to trigger increased forgetfulness.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

photo { Barbara Klemm, Louvre, Paris, 1987 }

Every day, the same, again

23.jpg Conman sold urine as whiskey

Certain wavelengths of visible light are nearly 100% lethal to insects. Blue LEDs could be a new form of pest control.

Unhealthy people more likely to vote for attractive candidates

Solar activity affects fertility across generations in historical Norway. More sun means fewer children and grandchildren.

Antibiotics: US discovery labelled ‘game-changer’ for medicine

Does sleeping naked prevent diabetes?

They discreetly asked me if I would mind waiting a few minutes because Yoko Ono (!!!) was just finishing a treatment. Cryotherapy is a process in which you subject the body to extreme cold for a short period of time in order to reduce inflammation.

Neuroscience research fails to support claims that excessive pornography consumption causes brain damage

Amongst heterosexuals, men are almost twice as likely to be upset by sexual infidelity as women, a new study finds. Heterosexual women, meanwhile, are much more likely to be upset by emotional infidelity.

New research suggests that reflecting on a breakup may help heal the heart.

Experiments to explore how we might artificially cool the Earth—commonly called geoengineering.

The Satellite Search for Genghis Khan’s Tomb

The Phantom Cannibal (Part Two) [Previously: Part One]

The scam has been dubbed virtual kidnapping

In the past few years, street gangs have been retreating from public view all over Southern California.

Nicknamed “stingrays,” the devices are decoy cell towers that capture locations and identities of mobile phone users and can intercept calls and texts.

A.I. still can’t recognize these simple pictures.

Saving everything in case it might be useful later is a recipe for disaster.

Radio, not YouTube, was still the top method of music discovery in the US last year

Google sees biggest search traffic drop since 2009 as Yahoo gains ground. The increase comes after Firefox switched its default search from Google to Yahoo.

The First Quantum Art Exhibition in Space

How NASA and other space agencies colorize space photos

U.S. ambassador to Finland

‘Is this mine? Naw. Nothing’s mine.’ —Richard Prince

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In an experiment researchers showed that the human brain uses memories to make predictions about what it expects to find in familiar contexts. When those subconscious predictions are shown to be wrong, the related memories are weakened and are more likely to be forgotten. And the greater the error, the more likely you are to forget the memory.

{ Lunatic Laboratories | Continue reading }

The Kreutzer Sonata

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“Withdrawal is the most problematic for relationships,” Sanford said. “It’s a defensive tactic that people use when they feel they are being attacked, and there’s a direct association between withdrawal and lower satisfaction overall with the relationship.”

Meanwhile, “passive immobility” — expecting your partner to be a mind-reader — is a tactic people use when they feel anxious in a relationship, and it makes it especially difficult for couples to make progress toward resolving conflicts. But it may not be as harmful down the line as withdrawal, he said.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

art { Mel Ramos, Elephant Seal, 1970 }

‘Nature even in chaos cannot proceed otherwise than regularly and according to order.’ –Kant

Our team has analyzed 144 of AQI’s and the ISI’s own financial and managerial documents. Captured by coalition and Iraqi forces between 2005 and 2010, these include scans of typed documents, as well as electronic files found on hard drives, USB sticks, and other media. Among them are spreadsheets listing the qualifications and training of hundreds of fighters, details on thousands of individual salary payments, and massive lists of itemized expenditures. […]

The group’s financing tactics, relying on extortion and criminal rackets, put it directly in conflict with local economic elites. […] Moreover, the way it managed human resources and finances—requiring numerous signatures and oversight—reflected high levels of internal mistrust. […]

The negative implication of our findings is that even those vulnerabilities don’t make the group easy to completely eradicate. From 2006 through 2009 the ISI was devastated by US and allied forces, Iraqi security forces, and local Sunni militias; during some months US Special Operations forces alone conducted 10 or more raids per night against the group. It stopped being a strategic threat, but it didn’t disappear. Its organizational structure was robust enough that it could go to ground, survive, and wait for the right circumstances to come roaring back.

{ Boston Globe | Continue reading }

related { One of the Islamic State’s senior commanders reveals exclusive details of the terror group’s origins inside an Iraqi prison – right under the noses of their American jailers. | The Guardian | full story }

‘Everyone is the other, and no one is himself.’ –Heidegger

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Some people will tell you that they have a clear sense of who they are, and that their sense of self is stable over time. Psychologists refer to this as having high “self-concept clarity.” In a new study, Jean Guerrettaz and Robert Arkin shine a spotlight on these self-proclaimed self-knowers. The researchers find that their confidence is often fragile, and that somewhat paradoxically, it is people confident in their sense of self whose self-esteem is most undermined by challenging questions about who they are.

{ BPS | Continue reading }