leisure

‘Repression is the only lasting philosophy.’ –Charles Dickens

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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. […]

By the end of 2008, according to one document, the British spy agency, known as GCHQ, had set up its “first operational deployment into Second Life” and had helped the police in London in cracking down on a crime ring that had moved into virtual worlds to sell stolen credit card information. […]

Even before the American government began spying in virtual worlds, the Pentagon had identified the potential intelligence value of video games. 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 | Continue reading }

related { A Single Exposure to the American Flag Shifts Support Toward Republicanism up to 8 Months Later }

Has anyone ever told you that you overplay your various roles rather severely, Mr. Kaplan?

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Risk compensation is an interesting effect where increasing safety measures will lead people to engage in more risky behaviors.

For example, sailors wearing life jackets may try more risky maneuvers as they feel ‘safer’ if they get into trouble. If they weren’t wearing life jackets, they might not even try. So despite the ‘safety measures’ the overall level of risk remains the same due to behavioral change.

This happens in other areas of life.

{ MindHacks | Continue reading }

photo { Gert Jochems }

O no there was the face lotion I finished the last of yesterday that made my skin like new

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{ Can the Gamification of Female Masturbation Remove Its Social Stigma? }

Knock, knock! Who’s there, i’ th’ name of Beelzebub?

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You probably haven’t heard of HD Moore, but up to a few weeks ago every Internet device in the world, perhaps including some in your own home, was contacted roughly three times a day by a stack of computers that sit overheating his spare room. “I have a lot of cooling equipment to make sure my house doesn’t catch on fire,” says Moore, who leads research at computer security company Rapid7. […]

Moore’s census involved regularly sending simple, automated messages to each one of the 3.7 billion IP addresses assigned to devices connected to the Internet around the world (Google, in contrast, collects information offered publicly by websites). Many of the two terabytes (2,000 gigabytes) worth of replies Moore received from 310 million IPs indicated that they came from devices vulnerable to well-known flaws, or configured in a way that could to let anyone take control of them.

{ Technology Review | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Miro, Blue III, 1961 }

The approbation of the multitude

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One of the frequent laments of the “great stagnation” era is that younger people today won’t do better than their parents. […] Over the past 150 years, or about 6 generations, the average income in one generation has been about 60 percent higher than the average income in the prior generation. […] Improvements in well-being were very closely tied to wealth.

Today, however, we are in a position to derive much of our happiness from pursuits internal to our minds. We do this by blogging, watching House of Cards on Netflix, listening to a symphony from iTunes, tweeting with friends and acquaintances, seeing their pictures on Facebook or Path, and learning and collaborating on Wikipedia. As a result, once one secures a certain income to cover basic needs, greater happiness and well-being today can be had for virtually nothing. What is the point, then, of doing materially better than one’s parents?

In his 1930 essay, “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” John Maynard Keynes imagined a future 100 years later in which per capita income had increased fourfold or more. With 17 years to go, his prediction was right. But Keynes also thought that this increase in per capita production would result in people working fewer hours—only 15 hours a week to maintain a reasonable standard of living in 2030. The real challenge, he worried, would be filling up our leisure time.

{ Jerry Brito/The Umlaut | Continue reading }

photo { Maxime Taillez }

Long-lived civilizations must be rare because if they were not, we would be living in one

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The Human Cannonball doesn’t usually remember much about each flight, aside from a quick impression of soaring through the air. […] She has just been shot out of a 24-foot-long air-compression cannon and travels between 75 and 100 feet at a force of 7 g. That’s greater force than a roller coaster, greater than a Formula One racecar, greater than the space shuttle. A force powerful enough to have caused some human cannonballs to pass out midflight. […] She’s in the air approximately three seconds.

{ Riverfront Times | Continue reading }

Stands forth, his loins and genitals tightened into a pair of black bathing bagslops

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The average bicycle police officer spends 24 hours a week on his bicycle and previous studies have shown riding a bicycle with a traditional (nosed) saddle has been associated with urogenital paresthesia and sexual dysfunction. […]

The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the no-nose bicycle saddle as an ergonomic intervention and their acceptance among male bicycle police officers. Bicycle police officers from five U.S. metropolitan areas were recruited for this study. […]

After 6 months, 90 men were reassessed. Only three men had returned to a traditional saddle.

{ International Society for Sexual Medicine | PDF | via Improbable }

images { 1. Charles Ray | 2. Dietmar Busse }

Her veil to one departing, dear one, to wind, love, speeding sail, return

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{ Rockets with plastic golf balls, replace driver clubs, as they fly to the green no matter how far. Shawn Kelly, golf pro, will compete against Doug Frost, the inventor of Rocketry Golf, who has built and flown Rockets since 1957 and has won over a dozen awards at 15 national rocket contests. | Rocketry | PRWeb }

There’s a medium in all things

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A sophisticated scheme to use a casino’s own security systems against it has netted scammers $33m in a high-stakes poker game after they were able to gain a crucial advantage by seeing the opposition’s cards.

The team used a high-rolling accomplice from overseas who was known to spend large amounts while gambling at Australia’s biggest casino, the Crown in Melbourne, according to the Herald Sun. He and his family checked into the Crown and were accommodated in one of its $30,000-a-night villas.

The player then joined a private high-stakes poker game in a private suite. At the same time, an unnamed person got access to the casino’s CCTV systems in the poker room and fed the information he gleaned back to the player via a wireless link. Over the course of eight hands the team fleeced the opposition to the tune of $33m.

{ The Register | Continue reading }

srceenshot { Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson: Bond Girl and Goldfinger’s aide-de-camp, whom Bond catches helping the villain cheat at a game of cards. He seduces her, but for her betrayal, she is completely painted in gold paint and dies from ’skin suffocation’ (a fictional condition Ian Fleming created for the novel; the skin does not actually “breathe”). }

Oh yeah. You fly. You cool.

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The paper begins with three individual sports (tennis, golf, and boxing) in which home advantage has been studied. […] It moves on to individual and team sports in the Olympics, where home advantage has also been studied. […] Finally, data are presented for two individual efforts embedded in team sports (free throws in basketball and shootouts in ice hockey). […]

Subjectively evaluated sports such as diving, gymnastics, or figure skating usually show sizable and significant home advantages. […] Except for subjectively evaluated sports, home advantage is not a major factor in individual sports, much less does it play a role in individual sports comparable to its role in team sports.

{ ScienceDirect | Continue reading }

images { 1 | 2 }

This series includes two disks. I sent Disk II back unwatched.

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{ According to Amezquita, this is the first time in Guatemala that anyone is attempting to practice slacklining over a street. | Reuters }

That we find the reasons why, one step at a time

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Stairway climbing provides a ubiquitous and inconspicuous method of burning calories. While typically two strategies are employed for climbing stairs, climbing one stair step per stride or two steps per stride, research to date has not clarified if there are any differences in energy expenditure between them. Fourteen participants took part in two stair climbing trials. […] Two step climbing invokes a higher rate of energy expenditure; however, one step climbing is energetically more expensive in total over the entirety of a stairway. Therefore to expend the maximum number of calories when climbing a set of stairs the single-step strategy is better.

{ PLOS ONE | Continue reading }

Then jump in first class with third ticket. Then too far.

Four abreast, goose stepping, tramp fast past in noisy marching

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Stretching before exercise is a sacred ritual, but researchers have been finding that it actually slows you down. Florida State researchers recently showed that stretching before a run makes you about 5 percent less efficient, meaning you have to burn more energy to run at the same pace. This year, Italian researchers studying cyclists discovered why stretching is counterproductive. They found evidence that toe-touching stretches change the force-transmission properties of muscle fibers and alter the brain signals to muscle, reducing exercise efficiency by about 4 percent. Furthermore, there’s insufficient scientific evidence that pre-exercise stretching reduces injury risk.

{ Popular Mechanics | Continue reading }

photo { Geof Kern }

Hokypoky penny a lump

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Infiniti Poker, like several other new online gambling sites, plans to accept Bitcoin when it launches later this month. […]

Developed in 2009 by a mysterious programmer known as Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoins behave much like any currency. Their value—currently about $13 per Bitcoin—is determined by demand. Transactions are handled through a decentralized peer-to-peer network similar to BitTorrent, the protocol for sharing films and music over the Internet. An assortment of merchants around the globe accept Bitcoin; it’s also the currency used on online black markets such as Silk Road, which processes an estimated $1.2 million a month in sales of illegal drugs, according to Nicolas Christin, the associate director of Carnegie Mellon’s Information Networking Institute.

Individuals can buy and sell Bitcoins using global currencies through such online exchanges as Mt. Gox. There’s even a service facilitated by BitInstant, a payment-processing company, that allows you to purchase the virtual currency for cash at 700,000 U.S. locations, including participating Wal-Mart, Duane Reade, and 7-Eleven stores. Once users have Bitcoins, they store them on their computers or mobile devices in files known as Bitcoin wallets or in cloud-based “e-wallets.”

Hajduk says Infiniti Poker will accept credit cards, wire transfers, and other payment options, but players in the U.S. will be able to play only using Bitcoins. He originally included the currency not to get around U.S. law but to reduce the time it takes to cash players out. Bank transactions can take up to 12 weeks; players who use Bitcoin can get a payout in a matter of hours, he says.

{ Businessweek | Continue reading }

The thing by the hour question and answer

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In fact, crosswords are made by people (called constructors) whose status is roughly equivalent to freelance writers—that is to say, low. Puzzles are sent on spec to editors, who buy them or turn them down, and who fine-tune the ones they accept without, as a nearly universal rule, consulting the constructor. Submissions may sit in an editor’s inbox for months or even years before the author hears back. (A few months ago, constructor Tim Croce received an acceptance from The New York Times—for a puzzle he submitted in 2001.) […]

Most outlets offer less than $100 for a daily crossword and less than $300 for a Sunday-sized. […] The New York Times, which runs the most prestigious American crossword series, pays $200 for a daily or $1,000 for a Sunday.

{ The Awl | Continue reading }

The construction of a crossword consists of two operations that are quite different and in the end perfectly independent of each other: the first is the filling of the diagram; the second is the search for definitions.

{ Georges Perec/The Believer | Continue reading }

Revenge of the Slap

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{ To truly understand the technique you have to have firsthand experience, so CBS 5 brought along one of its interns, Allie, to take on the new service. }

On October 4, good luck planet Jupiter goes retrograde (backward) in Gemini, your house of personal goals and new beginnings

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Sawing a woman in half is a generic name for a number of stage magic tricks in which a person (traditionally a female assistant) is apparently sawn or divided into two or more pieces. […]

Magician Les Arnold is reported to have been the first to have devised a clear box sawing (known as the “Crystal Sawing”) as far back as 1976. The Pendragons performed a variation called “Clearly Impossible”, in which the box used is both particularly slim and also transparent. […]

As a teenager Dorothy Dietrich became “distinguished as the first woman to saw a man in half” [she is also the first and only woman to have performed the bullet catch in her mouth].

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

images { Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, 1987 | Irving Penn, Chieftain’s Wife (Torso), Cameroon, 1969 }

I’m not sorry. And I’ll not apologize. And I’d as soon go to Dublin as to hell.

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Players build their own spaceships and traverse a galaxy of 7,500 star systems. They buy and sell raw materials, creating their own fluctuating markets. They speculate on commodities. They form trade coalitions and banks. […]

Nowadays, many massively multiplayer online video games have become so complex that game companies are turning to economists for help. […]

In Eve Online, Guðmundsson oversees an economy that can fluctuate wildly — he says it expanded 42 percent between February 2011 and February 2012, then contracted 15 percent by the summer. His team will periodically have to address imbalances in the money supply. For instance, they can curb inflation by introducing a new type of weapon, say, to absorb virtual currency.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

The queen replaced the earlier vizier chess piece towards the end of the 10th century and by the 15th century had become the most powerful piece

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It would be difficult to be strong at chess if you had a subnormal IQ, but you certainly don’t need an IQ of above average. I’m sure you could find very strong grandmasters with IQs around about the 100 mark, which is the average. […]

What I have noticed in very strong players, though, is an extraordinary degree of concentration. You really do have to concentrate very hard for long periods. There is a very boring phrase for that, which is hard work. That’s often underestimated, while the idea of effortless genius is greatly overestimated.

{ Dominic Lawson/The Browser | Continue reading }