‘Retenez ceci : il n’y a de bon, de vrai, de gai, de triste, d’aimable, de variable, de désirable, de potable, de chantable, de célébrable, d’idolâtrable, que le delta qui existe depuis la ceinture d’une femme jusqu’à ses jarretières.’ –George Sand & Alfred de Musset


Pham and Schackelford (2013) argued that men with more attractive partners are at a greater recurrent risk of sperm competition because other men are more likely to woo them into having affairs. Therefore, men with more attractive partners have more reason to be concerned about and more likely to engage in behaviour aimed to detect infidelity. The idea that cunnilingus, oral sex performed on a woman, could function to detect infidelity was proposed in a 2006 book, but this study is the first to test this empirically. The idea is that oral sex may allow a man to detect the presence of another man’s semen through smell or taste. […]

As side-note I’d like to point out that there is a common misconception often advanced by its critics that evolutionary psychology assumes that everything that people do is somehow an evolutionary adaptation and that evolutionary psychologists cannot or will not acknowledge that some behaviours are simply by-products of other adaptations with no special function of their own. This is a gross misrepresentation of what evolutionary psychology is about and in fairness to the authors of the study they were attempting to actually test whether or not their hypothesis about the adaptive function of oral sex is valid, rather than just assuming it is. It is quite possible that oral sex has no evolutionary function in itself. Humans are a highly sexed species compared to most mammals and engage in many non-procreative sexual acts, perhaps for pleasure alone. Oral sex might simply be a by-product of this interest in sex that humans have. However, if it can be shown that this particular behaviour appears to serve a definite purpose that has an evolutionary history, a reasonable case can be made that it has an adaptive function. […]

They found that “recurrent risk of sperm competition” (attractiveness) predicted interest in performing oral sex independently of relationship length, relationship satisfaction, and duration of intercourse.

{ Psychology Today | Continue reading }

‘But where danger is, grows the saving power also.’ –Hölderlin


Heaven is hotter than hell


The temperature of heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is the Bible, Isaiah 30:26 reads,

Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of seven days.

Thus, heaven receives from the moon as much radiation as the earth does from the sun, and in addition seven times seven (forty nine) times as much as the earth does from the sun, or fifty times in all. The light we receive from the moon is one ten-thousandth of the light we receive from the sun, so we can ignore that. With these data we can compute the temperature of heaven: The radiation falling on heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation. In other words, heaven loses fifty times as much heat as the earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann fourth power law for radiation

(H/E)4 = 50

where E is the absolute temperature of the earth, 300°K (273+27). This gives H the absolute temperature of heaven, as 798° absolute (525°C).

The exact temperature of hell cannot be computed but it must be less than 444.6°C, the temperature at which brimstone or sulfur changes from a liquid to a gas. Revelations 21:8: But the fearful and unbelieving… shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” A lake of molten brimstone [sulfur] means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, which is 444.6°C. (Above that point, it would be a vapor, not a lake.)

We have then, temperature of heaven, 525°C. Temperature of hell, less than 445°C. Therefore heaven is hotter than hell.


In Applied Optics (1972, 11 A14) there appeared a calculation of the respective temperatures of Heaven and Hell. That of Heaven was computed by substituting the values given in Isaiah 30 26 in the Stefan-Boltzman radiation law. […] This is hard to find fault with. The assessment of the temperature of Hell stands, I suggest, on less firm ground.

{ Applied Optics/Journal of Irreproducible Results | Continue reading }

photo { Harold Diaz }

No, that would state that I exist on a linear timeline, while you seek to compare past facts vs future forecasts


The study, reported in The Journal of Neuroscience [2007], provides the first direct evidence that humans, like rats, moths and butterflies, secrete a scent that affects the physiology of the opposite sex. (…)

He found that the chemical androstadienone — a compound found in male sweat and an additive in perfumes and colognes — changed mood, sexual arousal, physiological arousal and brain activation in women.

Yet, contrary to perfume company advertisements, there is no hard evidence that humans respond to the smell of androstadienone or any other chemical in a subliminal or instinctual way similar to the way many mammals and even insects respond to pheromones, Wyart said. Though some humans exhibit a small patch inside their nose resembling the vomeronasal organ in rats that detects pheromones, it appears to be vestigial, with no nerve connection to the brain.

“Many people argue that human pheromones don’t exist, because humans don’t exhibit stereotyped behavior. Nonetheless, this male chemical signal, androstadienone, does cause hormonal as well as physiological and psychological changes in women.” (…)

Sweat has been the main focus of research on human pheromones, and in fact, male underarm sweat has been shown to improve women’s moods and affect their secretion of luteinizing hormone, which is normally involved in stimulating ovulation.

Other studies have shown that when female sweat is applied to the upper lip of other women, these women respond by shifting their menstrual cycles toward synchrony with the cycle of the woman from whom the sweat was obtained.

{ ScienceDaily | Continue reading }

Refuse to admit defeat


Several theories claim that dreaming is a random by-product of REM sleep physiology and that it does not serve any natural function.

Phenomenal dream content, however, is not as disorganized as such views imply. The form and content of dreams is not random but organized and selective: during dreaming, the brain constructs a complex model of the world in which certain types of elements, when compared to waking life, are underrepresented whereas others are over represented. Furthermore, dream content is consistently and powerfully modulated by certain types of waking experiences.

On the basis of this evidence, I put forward the hypothesis that the biological function of dreaming is to simulate threatening events, and to rehearse threat perception and threat avoidance.

To evaluate this hypothesis, we need to consider the original evolutionary context of dreaming and the possible traces it has left in the dream content of the present human population. In the ancestral environment, human life was short and full of threats. Any behavioral advantage in dealing with highly dangerous events would have increased the probability of reproductive success. A dream-production mechanism that tends to select threatening waking events and simulate them over and over again in various combinations would have been valuable for the development and maintenance of threat-avoidance skills.

Empirical evidence from normative dream content, children’s dreams, recurrent dreams, nightmares, post traumatic dreams, and the dreams of hunter-gatherers indicates that our dream-production mechanisms are in fact specialized in the simulation of threatening events, and thus provides support to the threat simulation hypothesis of the

{ Antti Revonsuo/Behavioral and Bain Sciences | PDF }

Intermarriage among all ancestral groups, however, has led to a population reasonably homogeneous in appearance and traditions


{ Cai Guo-Qiang, Head On, 2006 | 99 life-sized replicas of wolves and glass | The wolves were produced in Quanzhou, China, from January to June of 2006. They are fabricated from painted sheepskins and stuffed with hay and metal wires, with plastic lending contour to their faces and marbles for eyes. | Deutsche Guggenheim }



{ Guggenheim Museum, New York; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao }

The nec and non plus ultra of emotion were reached when the blushing bride elect burst her way through the serried ranks of the bystanders and flung herself upon the muscular bosom of him who was about to be launched into eternity for her sake


{ Adrian Piper, Out of the Corner, 1990 }

‘Since men in their endeavors behave, on the whole, not just instinctively, like the brutes, nor yet like rational citizens of the world according to some agreed-on plan, no history of man conceived according to a plan seems to be possible, as it might be possible to have such a history of bees or beavers.’ –Kant


For someone who remembers the old days, the food is the most startling thing about modern England. English food used to be deservedly famous for its awfulness–greasy fish and chips, gelatinous pork pies, and dishwater coffee. Now it is not only easy to do much better, but traditionally terrible English meals have even become hard to find. What happened?

Maybe the first question is how English cooking got to be so bad in the first place. A good guess is that the country’s early industrialization and urbanization was the culprit. Millions of people moved rapidly off the land and away from access to traditional ingredients. Worse, they did so at a time when the technology of urban food supply was still primitive: Victorian London already had well over a million people, but most of its food came in by horse-drawn barge. And so ordinary people, and even the middle classes, were forced into a cuisine based on canned goods (mushy peas), preserved meats (hence those pies), and root vegetables that didn’t need refrigeration (e.g. potatoes, which explain the chips).

But why did the food stay so bad after refrigerated railroad cars and ships, frozen foods (better than canned, anyway), and eventually air-freight deliveries of fresh fish and vegetables had become available? Now we’re talking about economics–and about the limits of conventional economic theory. For the answer is surely that by the time it became possible for urban Britons to eat decently, they no longer knew the difference. The appreciation of good food is, quite literally, an acquired taste–but because your typical Englishman, circa, say, 1975, had never had a really good meal, he didn’t demand one.

{ Paul Krugman | Continue reading }

The image of something past or future, that is, of a thing which we regard as in relation to time past or time future, to the exclusion of time present, is, when other conditions are equal, weaker than the image of something present


At some point, the Mongol military leader Kublai Khan (1215–1294) realized that his empire had grown so vast that he would never be able to see what it contained. To remedy this, he commissioned emissaries to travel to the empire’s distant reaches and convey back news of what he owned. Since his messengers returned with information from different distances and traveled at different rates (depending on weather, conflicts, and their fitness), the messages arrived at different times. Although no historians have addressed this issue, I imagine that the Great Khan was constantly forced to solve the same problem a human brain has to solve: what events in the empire occurred in which order?

Your brain, after all, is encased in darkness and silence in the vault of the skull. Its only contact with the outside world is via the electrical signals exiting and entering along the super-highways of nerve bundles. Because different types of sensory information (hearing, seeing, touch, and so on) are processed at different speeds by different neural architectures, your brain faces an enormous challenge: what is the best story that can be constructed about the outside world?

The days of thinking of time as a river—evenly flowing, always advancing—are over. Time perception, just like vision, is a construction of the brain and is shockingly easy to manipulate experimentally. We all know about optical illusions, in which things appear different from how they really are; less well known is the world of temporal illusions. When you begin to look for temporal illusions, they appear everywhere.

{ David M. Eagleman/Edge | Continue reading }

photos { Henri Cartier-Bresson | Ruben Natal-San Miguel }

I’m not that genie in a bottle, I’m in a bag


Sometimes when I’m lying on my back looking at the sky or the ceiling or some other light-colored background, I swear I can see specks and what looks like little threads floating by. They seem to move when I move my eyes, leading me to believe they’re actually on my eyes. Is there some optical phenomenon that allows us to focus that close? Is there a name for this effect?

{ The Straight Dope | Continue reading }

Floaters are deposits of various size, shape, consistency, refractive index, and motility within the eye’s vitreous humour, which is normally transparent.

Since these objects exist within the eye itself, they are not optical illusions but are entoptic phenomena.

One specific type of floater is either called Muscae volitantes (from the Latin, meaning ‘flying flies’), or mouches volantes (from the French), and consist of small spots. These are present in most people’s eyes and are attributed to minute remnants of embryonic structures in the vitreous humor.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

One of the most surprising predictions of modern quantum theory is that the vacuum of space is not empty


All I want is the best of everything and there’s very little of that left


Jacob Holdt sold blood plasma twice a week to buy film. He stayed in more than 400 homes - from the poorest migrant workers to America’s wealthiest families (for instance, the Rockefellers) - recording these encounters on over 15,000 photographs taken with a cheap pocket camera. He would live with people who were so hungry they ate cat food and dirt, often in rat-infested shacks.

Upon returning to Denmark in 1976, Holdt began lecturing on social differences in the United States and published a book: American Pictures.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading | Photos: Jacob Holdt, American Pictures }

‘Most people ignorantly suppose that artists are the decorators of our human existence, the esthetes to who the cultivated may turn when the real business of the day is done. Far from being merely decorative, the artist’s awareness is one of the few guardians of the inherent sanity and equilibrium of the human spirit that we have.’ –Robert Motherwell


On January 3, 1889, two policemen approached Nietzsche after he caused a public disturbance in the streets of Turin, Italy. What actually happened remains unknown, but the often-repeated tale states that Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse at the other end of the Piazza Carlo Alberto, ran to the horse, threw his arms up around the horse’s neck to protect it, and collapsed to the ground.

In the following few days, Nietzsche sent short writings — known as the “Wahnbriefe” (”Madness Letters”).

To his former colleague Burckhardt, Nietzsche wrote: “I have had Caiaphas put in fetters. Also, last year I was crucified by the German doctors in a very drawn-out manner. Wilhelm, Bismarck, and all anti-Semites abolished.” Additionally, he commanded the German emperor to go to Rome in order to be shot and summoned the European powers to take military action against Germany.

On January 6, 1889, Burckhardt showed the letter he had received from Nietzsche to Overbeck. The following day, Overbeck received a similarly revealing letter, and decided that Nietzsche’s friends had to bring him back to Basel. Overbeck traveled to Turin and brought Nietzsche to a psychiatric clinic in Basel. By that time, Nietzsche appeared fully in the grip of insanity.

In 1898 and 1899, Nietzsche suffered from at least two strokes which partially paralysed him and left him unable to speak or walk. After contracting pneumonia in mid-August 1900, he had another stroke during the night of August 24 / August 25, and then died about noon on August 25.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading | Photos: Nietzsche in 1899 }