pipeline

‘If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun.’ –Shakespeare

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As an advanced research topic in forensics science, automatic shoe-print identification has been extensively studied in the last two decades, since shoe marks are the clues most frequently left in a crime scene. […] A large variety of handcrafted features have been used for automatic shoe-print identification. These features have shown good performance in limited and controlled scenarios. Unfortunately, they fail when they are dealing with large intra-class variations caused by the noise, oc- clusions, rotation and various scale distortions. A good alternative to these conventional features are the learned ones, e.g. deep learning, which have more generalization ability in more complicated scenarios. To be effective, these models need to be trained on a large amount of data.

{ arXiv | PDF }

Can I tell them that I never really had a gun?

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From 1427 to 1435, Gilles de Rais (1405 – 1440) served as a commander in the Royal Army, and fought alongside Joan of Arc against the English and their Burgundian allies during the Hundred Years’ War.

In 1434/1435, he retired from military life, depleted his wealth by staging an extravagant theatrical spectacle of his own composition, and was accused of dabbling in the occult.

After 1432, he was accused of engaging in a series of child murders, with victims possibly numbering in the hundreds. The killings came to an end in 1440, when a violent dispute with a clergyman led to an ecclesiastical investigation which brought the crimes to light, and attributed them to Gilles. He was condemned to death and hanged at Nantes on 26 October 1440.

Gilles de Rais is believed to be the inspiration for the 1697 fairy tale “Bluebeard” (”Barbe bleue”) by Charles Perrault.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading | Watch: Georges Méliès, Barbe Bleue, 1901 }

Where does the white go when the snow melts?

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Salmon sushi was introduced to Japan by the Norwegians in 1986

[…]

You are 44% more likely to die if you have surgery on a Friday (1.44% chance) compared to a Monday (1.00% chance). The likelihood of death jumps 82% compared to Monday if you have surgery on the weekend.

[…]

The State of Wyoming Has 2 Escalators

[…]

When women are ovulating, they are (unknowingly) much less likely to call their dads, and when their dads call them, they end the conversation more quickly. However, they’re more likely to call their moms, and the phone conversations last longer.

[…]

Recent seminal works on human mobility have shown that individuals constantly exploit a small set of repeatedly visited locations. The number of familiar locations an individual visits at any point is a conserved quantity with a typical size of ~25.

[…]

The surface area of human lungs is as big as a tennis court […]

You can say “ding dong” but not “dong ding,” “zig zag” but not “zag zig,” and “flip flop” but not “flop flip.” The same strict word order applies to tick tock, riff raff, ping pong, King Kong, wishy washy, etc. This is the rule of ablaut reduplication: if there are two words, the first is i and the second is either a or o. If there are three words, then the order is i, a, o.

{ 52 Things I Learned in 2018 | Continue reading }

image { a performance/installation Warhol did for the now-defunct Finch College Museum of Art, in New York in February of 1972. The project consisted of Warhol vacuuming the gallery rug and then displaying the vacuum and its signed dust bag in the gallery that he’d cleaned. | Blake Gopnik }

‘The love of stinking.’ –Nietzsche

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{ aversion | panic | Thanks Tim }

related { Dick Stain Donald Trump got zero comments for the Stock Market Drop }

‘Falsity consists in the privation of knowledge, which inadequate, fragmentary, or confused ideas involve.’ –Spinoza

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Beliefs in witches and sorcerers are disturbing and calamitous. Sterility, illness, death, rainstorms, burnt-down houses, bald spots, attacks from wild animals, lost foot races, lost reindeer races, the puzzling behavior of a friend or spouse – the enigmatic, the impactful, the bothersome – all can spark suspicions of neighbors using magic and dark powers; all can precipitate violence. The suspects are sometimes normal humans, learned in dark magic, but other times, rumored to be odious and other. They devour babies, fornicate with their menstruating mothers, and use human skulls for sports. They become bats and black panthers, house pythons in their stomachs, and direct menageries of attendant nightbirds. They plot the destruction of families and then dance in orgiastic night-fests. […]

In nearly every documented society, people believe that some misfortunes are attributable to malicious group mates employing magic or supernatural powers. Here I report cross-cultural patterns in these beliefs and propose a theory to explain them.

Using the newly-created Survey of Mystical Harm, I show that several conceptions of evil, mystical practitioners recur around the world, including sorcerers (who use learned spells), possessors of the evil eye (who transmit injury through their stares and words), and witches (who possess superpowers, pose existential threats, and engage in morally abhorrent acts).

I argue that these beliefs develop from three cultural selective processes — a selection for effective-seeming magic, a selection for plausible explanations of impactful misfortune, and a selection for demonizing myths that justify mistreatment. Separately, these selective schemes produce traditions as diverse as shamanism, conspiracy theories, and campaigns against heretics — but around the world, they jointly give rise to the odious and feared witch. […]

Societally-corrosive beliefs can persist when they are intuitively appealing or serve some believers’ agendas. […]

People are more likely to attribute injury to mystical harm when they lack alternative explanations. […]

The greater the impact of the misfortune, the more likely people are to attribute it to mystical harm.

{ SocArXiv | Continue reading }

bellissima gente, musica spettacolare, emozioni indelebili

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The Beast of Gévaudan is the historical name associated with the man-eating gray wolf, dog or wolfdog that terrorized the former province of Gévaudan, in south-central France between 1764 and 1767.

The attacks, which covered an area stretching 90 by 80 kilometres (56 by 50 mi), were said to have been committed by a beast or beasts that had formidable teeth and immense tails according to contemporary eyewitnesses.

Victims were often killed by having their throats torn out. The Kingdom of France used a considerable amount of manpower and money to hunt the animals, including the resources of several nobles, soldiers, civilians, and a number of royal huntsmen.

The number of victims differs according to sources. In 1987, one study estimated there had been 210 attacks; resulting in 113 deaths and 49 injuries; 98 of the victims killed were partly eaten. However, other sources claim it killed between 60 and 100 adults and children, as well as injuring more than 30.

According to modern scholars, public hysteria at the time of the attacks contributed to widespread myths that supernatural beasts roamed Gévaudan, but deaths attributed to a beast were more likely the work of a number of wolves or packs of wolves.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

The Beast preyed almost entirely on women and children living in isolated cottages and hamlets, often as they tended animals or gathered crops in open fields. Men and cattle were not to its liking. Nor, it seemed, were sheep and goats. […]

Sometimes La Bête attacked several times in one day or on successive days, often leaving the victim uneaten. Some witnesses said that it wore an armoured hide, perhaps that of a boar. One surviving victim claimed the beast walked on two legs. Several witnesses saw a man with La Bête.

{ History Today | Continue reading }

The king sent his own gun-bearer and bodyguard, François Antoine. Along with his son and a detachment of men, Antoine traipsed around the forested countryside in search of the beast. In September 1765, he shot and killed a large wolf. He had the body sent to the court at Versailles, received a reward from Louis XV, and accepted the villagers’ gratitude

Two brief months later the attacks recommenced.

For another 18 months, something continued to stalk the villagers of Gévaudan, with a reported 30 to 35 fatalities in that period. […]

Jean Chastel was a local farmer involved in a previous hunt, and thrown in prison [with his son Antoine Chastel] by François Antoine for misleading his men into a bog.

{ Smithsonian | Continue reading }

There were no killings when Jean and Antoine Chastel were in prison. The attacks resumed when they were liberated, and stopped only when Jean Chastel killed the animal.

{ Loren Coleman/FATE | Continue reading }

A 2009 investigation uncovered a potential culprit, Jean Chastel, the man said to have killed the second beast in June 1767. The investigators wondered how Chastel, a farmer, shot La Bête dead when the region’s finest wolf hunters could not. They concluded that La Bête must have been still for sometime, when Chastel shot it. It did not run from, or at, Chastel. Was La Bête tethered? Was this man its keeper?

As for motive, some have suggested that Chastel, or one of his sons, was a serial killer, and La Bête their way of covering up the crimes. Others claim that Chastel’s son had a hyena in his menagerie and a huge red mastiff that sired the monstrous offspring with a female wolf. […]

The body of the animal Chastel shot was taken to Versailles. By the time it reached the king the carcass had rotted and was ordered to be destroyed.

{ History Today | Continue reading }

Jean Chastel’s son Antoine was said to have lived as a hermit on Mount Mouchet, with a menagerie of beasts, including a hyena. Cryptozoologists have speculated that Antoine Chastel might have used this animal to attack the young boys and girls.

{ Loren Coleman/FATE | Continue reading | Note: “Fate is a U.S. magazine about paranormal phenomena” }

acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on canvas { Jean-Michel Basquia, Peter and the Wolf, 1985 }

Beyond that road lies despair

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The iconic green slime of the Canadian television series You Can’t Do That on Television was developed by accident, according to producer Roger Price — the original idea had been to dump a barrel of food leftovers on a young boy chained in a dungeon, but before it could be used, the contents of the barrel had turned green with mold.

The noxious mixture was dumped on the young boy anyway, and overnight the series had its trademark gag. The show subsequently went through several different slime recipes incorporating ingredients such as lime gelatin dessert powder, flour, oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, baby shampoo, and even cottage cheese (not all necessarily at the same time).

On the show (and subsequently on Nickelodeon since then), the composition of the slime was treated as a closely guarded secret, and some episodes revolved around the cast members trying to discern what the slime was made of.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

Like the days of stopping at the Savoy, now we freak

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According to the most comprehensive survey of casualties (both fatal and nonfatal), 21 percent of the casualties in World War II were attributable to friendly fire, 39 percent of the casualties in Vietnam, and 52 percent of the casualties in the first Gulf War.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

photo { Jason Florio | The Metropolitan Rod and Gun Club, established in 1936, is New York’s longest running sporting firearms club }

‘Just basic memory functions and also just the level of norepinephrine and the epinephrine in the brain that as you know encodes that neurotransmitter that codes memories into the hippocampus and so the trauma-related experience is locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.’ –Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

30 years ago, Spy magazine sent “refund” checks for $1.11 to 58 rich people.

The 26 who cashed those got another check, for $.64.

The 13 who cashed those each got a check for $.13.

Two people cashed the $.13 checks—Donald Trump and Jamal Khashoggi’s arms-dealer uncle Annan.

{ Kurt Andersen | Spy, July, 1990 p. 84 + full issue }

‘I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.’ –Oscar Wilde

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[W]hy are some societies more religious than others? One answer is religious coping: Individuals turn to religion to deal with unbearable and unpredictable life events. To investigate whether coping can explain global differences in religiosity, I combine a global dataset on individual-level religiosity with spatial data on natural disasters. Individuals become more religious if an earthquake recently hit close by. Even though the effect decreases after a while, data on children of immigrants reveal a persistent effect across generations.

{ J. S. Bentzen | PDF }

acrylic on canvas, in four parts { Keith Haring, Untitled, 1984 }

THREAT TO ‘SHOOT THE PLACE UP’

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Vyacheslav Molotov (1890 – 1986) was a Soviet politician and diplomat, and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin. […] Molotov served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1939 to 1949 and from 1953 to 1956. […]

The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. […]

The Molotov cocktail is a term coined by the Finns during the Winter War, as a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons. During the Winter War, the Soviet air force made extensive use of incendiaries and cluster bombs against Finnish troops and fortifications. When Molotov claimed in radio broadcasts that they were not bombing, but rather delivering food to the starving Finns, the Finns started to call the air bombs Molotov bread baskets. Soon they responded by attacking advancing tanks with “Molotov cocktails,” which were “a drink to go with the food.”

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

watercolour on paper { JMW Turner, Clouds at Dawn or Sunset, c.1834 }

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

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The Grim Reaper, the personification of death, is a well known mythological and literary figure. Reported characteristics include a black cloak with cowl, a scythe, and cachexia. High quality scientific research linking the Grim Reaper to mortality has been scarce, despite extensive anecdotes.

Walking speed is a commonly used objective measure of physical capability in older people, predicting survival in several cohort studies. A recent meta-analysis found that being in the lowest fourth of walking speed compared with the highest was associated with a threefold increased risk of mortality. Moreover, the association between slow walking speed and mortality seems consistent across several ethnic groups and shows a dose-response relation. Although the association between walking speed and mortality has been well documented, the plausible biological relation between the two remains unclear.

We assessed whether the relation between slow walking speed and mortality results from the increased likelihood of being caught by Death. By assessing this relation using receiver operating characteristics curve analysis, we hypothesised we would be able to determine the walking speed of the Grim Reaper—information of importance to public health. […]

[1705] men have been followed for a mean of 59.3 months. Walking speed at baseline was not available in 77 men, mostly through inability to complete the test. A total of 266 deaths occurred during follow-up. […]

Based on receiver operating characteristics analysis and estimation of the Youden index, a walking speed of 0.82 m/s (2 miles (about 3 km) per hour) was most predictive of mortality. Therefore, we predict that this is the likely speed at which the Grim Reaper prefers to ambulate under working conditions. Older men who walked at speeds greater than 0.82 m/s were 1.23 times less likely to encounter Death. In addition, no men walking at speeds of 1.36 m/s (3 miles (about 5 km) per hour) or above were caught by Death (n=22, 1.4%). This supports our hypothesis that faster speeds are protective against mortality because fast walkers can maintain a safe distance from the Grim Reaper. Interestingly, the predicted walking speed of Death estimated in the present study is virtually identical to the gait speed (0.80 m/s) associated with median life expectancy at most ages and for both sexes in a recent meta-analysis of gait speed and mortality using data from diverse populations. This indicates that the preferred walking speed of the Grim Reaper while collecting souls is relatively constant irrespective of people’s geographical location, sex, or ethnic background.

{ British Medical Journal | PDF }