ideas

La nuit déjà nous fait méconnaissables

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Whereas women of all ages prefer slightly older sexual partners, men—regardless of their age—have a preference for women in their 20s. Earlier research has suggested that this difference between the sexes’ age preferences is resolved according to women’s preferences. This research has not, however, sufficiently considered that the age range of considered partners might change over the life span.

Here we investigated the age limits (youngest and oldest) of considered and actual sex partners in a population-based sample of 2,655 adults (aged 18-50 years). Over the investigated age span, women reported a narrower age range than men and women tended to prefer slightly older men. We also show that men’s age range widens as they get older: While they continue to consider sex with young women, men also consider sex with women of their own age or older.

Contrary to earlier suggestions, men’s sexual activity thus reflects also their own age range, although their potential interest in younger women is not likely converted into sexual activity. Homosexual men are more likely than heterosexual men to convert a preference for young individuals into actual sexual behavior, supporting female-choice theory.

{ Evolutionary Psychology | PDF }

related { Longest ever personality study finds no correlation between measures taken at age 14 and age 77 }

photo { Joan Crawford photographed by George Hurrell, 1932 }

No more coats and no more home

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Postmodernism has, to a large extent, run its course [despite having made the considerable innovation of presenting] the first text that was highly self-conscious, self-conscious of itself as text, self-conscious of the writer as persona, self-conscious about the effects that narrative had on readers and the fact that the readers probably knew that. […] A lot of the schticks of post-modernism — irony, cynicism, irreverence — are now part of whatever it is that’s enervating in the culture itself.

{ David Foster Wallace | Continue reading }

photo { Francesca Woodman, Self-portrait at 13, Boulder, Colorado, 1972 | Photography tends not to have prodigies. Woodman, who committed suicide in 1981 at age 22, is considered a rare exception. | NY Review of Books | full story }

‘The great pan is dead.’ –Plutarch

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This paper approaches the subject of God or a supernatural being that created the universe from a mathematical and physical point of view. It sets up a hypothesis that when the God existed before the Big Bang as an unconscious being became conscious, the energy that was produced during the process became a both highly dense and infinite temperature Cosmic Egg and exploded to create the current universe. This assumption is demonstrated by mathematical formulas and physics law, which provide a solid scientific foundation for the aforementioned theory.

{ International Education and Research Journal | Continue reading }

art { Jean-Michel Basquiat, Head, 1981 }

With most businesses and with most individuals, life tends to snap you at your weakest link. So it isn’t the strongest link you’re looking for. It’s the weakest link that causes the problem.

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When used in speech, hesitancies can indicate a pause for thought, when read in a transcript they indicate uncertainty. In a series of experiments the perceived uncertainty of the transcript was shown to be higher than the perceived uncertainty of the spoken version with almost no overlap for any respondent.

{ arXiv | Continue reading }

art { Paul Klee, After the drawing 19/75, 1919 }

Self-actualization

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For hundreds of years, Koreans have used a different method to count age than most of the world. […] A person’s Korean age goes up a year on new year’s day, not on his or her birthday. So when a baby is born on Dec. 31, he or she actually turns two the very next day.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

How the world appears to us in certain forms imposed by our brains

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Is our perceptual experience a veridical representation of the world or is it a product of our beliefs and past experiences? Cognitive penetration describes the influence of higher level cognitive factors on perceptual experience and has been a debated topic in philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

{ Consciousness and Cognition | Continue reading }

photo { Can you think a thought which isn’t yours? A remarkable new study suggests you can }

One of Spinoza’s main mereological assumptions is that parts are prior to their whole

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Cioffi endorses the Oxford comma, the one before and in a series of three or more. On the question of whether none is singular or plural, he is flexible: none can mean not a single one and take a singular verb, or it can mean not any and take a plural verb. His sample “None are boring” (from the New Yorker, where I work) was snipped from a review of a show of photographs by Richard Avedon. Cioffi would prefer the singular in this instance — “None is boring” — arguing that it “emphasizes how not a single, solitary one of these Avedon photographs is boring”. To me, putting so much emphasis on the photos’ not being boring suggests that the critic was hoping for something boring. I would let it stand. […]

that usually precedes elements that are essential to your sentence’s meaning [restrictive], while which typically introduces ‘nonessential’ elements [non-restrictive], and usually refers to the material directly before it.” Americans sometimes substitute which for that, thinking it makes us sound more proper (i.e. British). On both sides of the Atlantic, the classic non­restrictive which is preceded by a comma.

{ The Times Literary Supplement | Continue reading }

‘The first principle of all action is leisure.’ —Aristotle

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The publication of Richard Krafft-Ebbing’s masterwork Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886 represented a landmark in thinking about human sexuality and the bizarre forms that it can take. In addition to describing different types of sexual expression that the author regarded as “perverse” (usually any form of sex that didn’t lead to procreation), it quickly became one of the most influential books on human sexuality ever written and introduced numerous new terms into common usage. One of these terms was “masochism,” which Krafft-Ebbing defined as the opposite of sadism (which he also coined). While the later is the desire to cause pain and use force, the former is the wish to suffer pain and be subjected to force.  

one person in particular who was less than pleased with the new term was the Austrian author, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Krafft-Ebbing justified naming this new sexual anomaly after the prominent author whom he described as “the poet of Masochism” due to his erotic writings and because of his own eccentric personal life. […]

Venus in Furs, the short novel for which Sacher-Masoch is best known, was published in 1870, and has become an erotic classic in its own right. In this book, the hero Severin asks to be treated as a slave and to be abused by Wanda (the “Venus in furs” of the story). The fact that Sacher-Masoch often acted out these fantasies in real-life with his wives and mistresses was not well-known. […]

It may be a coincidence that his health went into a decline shortly after Psychopathia Sexualis came out but by March of 1895, he was delusional and violent. After attempting to kill his then-wife Hulda, she arranged for him to be discreetly moved to an asylum in Lindheim, Hesse. Although his official obituary states that he died that year, there are claims that Sacher-Masoch lived on as an anonymous asylum inmate and actually died years later.

{ Providentia | Continue reading }

cloaked in the pall of the ace of spaces

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With tens or even hundreds of billions of potentially habitable planets within our galaxy, the question becomes: are we alone?

Many scientists and commentators equate “more planets” with “more E.T.s”. However, the violence and instability of the early formation and evolution of rocky planets suggests that most aliens will be extinct fossil microbes.

Just as dead dinosaurs don’t walk, talk or breathe, microbes that have been fossilised for billions of years are not easy to detect by the remote sampling of exoplanetary atmospheres.

In research published [PDF] in the journal Astrobiology, we argue that early extinction could be the cosmic default for life in the universe. This is because the earliest habitable conditions may be unstable. […] Inhabited planets may be rare in the universe, not because emergent life is rare, but because habitable environments are difficult to maintain during the first billion years.

Our suggestion that the universe is filled with dead aliens might disappoint some, but the universe is under no obligation to prevent disappointment.

{ The Conversation | Continue reading }

previously { Where is the Great Filter? Behind us, or not behind us? If the filter is in our past, there must be some extremely improbable step in the sequence of events whereby an Earth-like planet gives rise to an intelligent species comparable in its technological sophistication to our contemporary human civilization. }

still { The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951 }

By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world

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In “Rat Ethics” I am primarily concerned with moral arguments about the rat, in particular, Rattus norvegicus. I argue that there is a complex bias against the animal which reduces it to ‘a pest, vermin, or mischievous’. This predominant bias against rats is a product of cultural stereotyping rather than objective reasoning. A cultural and philosophical examination of the rat can expose and provide grounds for rejecting this bias. I argue that the three main types of rats we encounter (i.e., liminal, research, companion) should be given full moral consideration and determine certain basic moral rights which are distinct to each encounter. I examine the Norway rat from a historical, cultural, philosophical, and practical perspective. I conclude that we must re-evaluate our moral relations with this animal and democratically support the basic rights its moral liberation demands. The fundamental rights of all rats are: 1) the moral right to have reasonable consideration, and 2) the moral right to freedom from unnecessary suffering. Further, contract-based rights are suggested for companion rats, which take the form of additional regulation regarding breeders, retailers, and consumers.

{ Joshua Duffy | Continue reading }

images { ad for The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!, 1972 | Rat Fink by Adam Cruz }

Just learn how to capture your luck, for your luck is always there

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As Goethe observed in 1797, “the publisher always knows the profit to himself and his family whereas the author is totally in the dark.” This problem of lopsided information was aggravated by the near-absence of copyright protection in the 18th and 19th century. A bestseller could be expected to spawn an abundance of pirated versions. Charles Dickens, on his first trip to the United States in 1842, complained endlessly about the pirating of his works for the U.S. market. This lack of intellectual property protection led to further conflicts of interest and opinion between authors and publishers: it was standard practice among publishers — even respectable ones — to have multiple print runs without an author’s permission, and writers sometimes tried to sell near-identical editions of the same title to multiple publishers. Because authors couldn’t trust the sales numbers if and when their publishers provided them, 19th-century book contracts were for a fixed fee rather than per-copy royalty payments. […]

Goethe engineered the following mechanism […]

I am inclined to offer Mr. Vieweg from Berlin an epic poem, Hermann and Dorothea, which will have approximately 2000 hexameters. …Concerning the royalty we will proceed as follows: I will hand over to Mr. Counsel Böttiger [Goethe’s lawyer] a sealed note which contains my demand, and I wait for what Mr. Vieweg will suggest to offer for my work. If his offer is lower than my demand, then I take my note back, unopened, and the negotiation is broken. If, however, his offer is higher, then I will not ask for more than what is written in the note to be opened by Mr. Böttiger.

Scholars had treated Goethe’s proposition as one of the enigmas left behind by one of history’s greatest literary figures. But the economists argue that there’s no mystery to Goethe’s choice of mechanism. The author wanted to know how much he was worth to Vieweg, and he devised this peculiar “auction” to get Vieweg to tell him.

{ The Millions | Continue reading }

10 months since Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his presidential bid in front of paid actors

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Why is there something rather than nothing? […]

No experiment could support the hypothesis ‘There is nothing’ because any observation obviously implies the existence of an observer.

{ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy | Continue reading }

art { Tom Wesselmann, Smoker #14, 1974 }