‘A little know piece of trivia: Superman’s 2nd greatest enemy was cilantro.’ –Tim Geoghegan


A review of the development of criminal profiling demonstrates that profiling has never been a scientific process. It is essentially based on a compendium of common sense intuitions and faulty theoretical assumptions, and in practice appears to consist of little more than educated guesses and wishful thinking. While it is very difficult to find cases where profiling made a critical contribution to an investigation, there exist a number of cases where a profile, combined with investigative and prosecutorial enthusiasm, derailed the investigation and even contributed to serious miscarriages of justice.

{ Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice/SAGE | Continue reading }

‘If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do. That’s the key to the whole thing.’ –Bill Cunningham


A 23-year-old mountain climber was hit by a lightning bolt and awoke in hospital to find herself experiencing bizarre hallucinations. […] The air rescue team took her to hospital and she was put in a drug induced coma for three days as she was disoriented and extremely agitated. When she awoke, her world was somewhat different.

[…] On her left side a cowboy riding on a horse came from the distance. As he approached her, he tried to shoot her, making her feel defenceless because she could not move or shout for help.

In another scene, two male doctors, one fair and one dark haired, and a woman, all with strange metal glasses and unnatural brownish-red faces, were tanning in front of a sunbed, then having sexual intercourse and afterwards trying to draw blood from her. […]

Her brain scan showed damage to the occipital lobes, the areas at the back of the brain that are largely taken up with the visual cortex that deal with the early stages of visual perception.

{ Mind Hacks | Continue reading }

photo { Nick Waplington }

Each night when I return the cab to the garage, I have to clean the cum off the back seat. Some nights, I clean off the blood.


Sometime after 2 A.M. one Sunday morning in May 1987, Kenneth James Parks, then 23, left his house in a Toronto suburb and drove 23 kilometers to the apartment of his wife’s parents. He got out of the car, pulled a tire iron out of the trunk and let himself into the older couple’s home with a key they had given him. Once inside, he struggled with and choked his father-in-law, Dennis Woods, until the older man fell unconscious and then struggled with and beat his mother-in-law, Barbara Ann Woods, stabbing her to death with a knife from her kitchen.

Parks then got back into his car, drove to a nearby police station and announced to the startled officers on duty, “I think I have killed some people.” For several hours before the Toronto man left his home, however, and throughout the course of the attack, Parks was asleep and therefore not criminally responsible for his actions, according to five doctors and the defense lawyer at his 1988 trial for the murder of Barbara Ann and the attempted murder of Dennis. After deliberating for nine hours, the jury agreed and Parks was set free.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

‘We dead yo.’ –Samantha Hinds


{ Three satellites found that 97 percent of Greenland — the land mass second only to Antarctica for its volume of ice — underwent a thaw never before seen in 33 years of satellite tracking, NASA reported Tuesday. Satellite experts at first didn’t trust their readings, especially since they showed an incredible acceleration. Over four days, Greenland’s ice sheet — which covers 683,000 square miles – went from 40 percent in thaw to nearly entirely in thaw. | NBC | Continue reading | Thanks Samantha }

Coincidence. Just going to write. Lionel’s song. Lovely name you have.


Applied Cognitive Psychology recently published a study on […] walking while texting (WwT). […]

The researchers looked at how walking while texting alters an individual’s own walking behavior. The researchers found that, on average, people who engaged in WwT where much more cautious than walkers who weren’t texting. Despite this excess in caution, “texters” did not avoid obstacles with more ease than “non-texters.” The scientists concluded that being overly cautious while texting does not decrease the chances of being involved in an accident. […]

In 2010, The Pew Research Center reported that 17% of adult Americans admit to having bumped into objects while texting.

{ Salamander Hours | Continue reading }

photo { Andy Reynolds }

The mirage of the lake of Kinnereth with blurred cattle cropping in silver haze is projected on the wall


Dr. Mark Ryan, director at the Louisiana Poison Center, called bath salts “the worst drug” he has seen in his 20 years there. “With LSD, you might see pink elephants, but with this drug, you see demons, aliens, extreme paranoia, heart attacks, and superhuman strength like Superman,” Ryan has said. “If you had a reaction, it was a bad reaction.”

Starting in late 2010, an influx of violent, irrational, self-destructive users began to congest hospital ERs throughout the States. A 19-year-old West Virginia man claimed he was high on bath salts when he stabbed his neighbor’s pygmy goat while wearing women’s underwear; a Mississippi man skinned himself alive while under the influence. Users staggered in, or were carried in, consumed by extreme panic, tachycardia, deep paranoia, and heart-attack symptoms. (Perhaps the most infamous incident tied to bath salts is Rudy Eugene’s horrific naked face-eating attack in Miami in May, although conclusive toxicology reports have yet to be released; still, the fact that this feels like the closest thing to a credible explanation for chewing a homeless man’s head for 18 minutes speaks volumes about the drug’s reputation.)

Because the chemicals most often found in bath salts — mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone, and methylone — were not outlawed initially, a nearly year-and-a-half period ensued where, to the horror of law enforcement, salts were sold legally and widely, not only in head shops, but in gas stations and convenience stores all over the U.S. In 2010, 304 calls were made to poison control centers nationwide regarding bath salts. A year later, the calls skyrocketed to 6,138. […]

DEA officials believe that the base compounds are manufactured primarily in China and India and then imported into the U.S., where traffickers cut and mix the drug in a variety of ways — just one of the reasons why even the first hit of salts can produce unpredictable results.

“Some of these manufacturers will mix these substances purposefully or not purposefully,” says Jeffrey Comparin, a senior DEA laboratory director. “There’s zero quality control. You have no idea what you’re putting in your body.”

{ Spin | Continue reading }

‘Many a man fails to become a thinker only because his memory is too good.’ –Nietzsche


NASA has lost data from some of its earliest missions to the moon because the machines used to read the tapes were scrapped and cannot be rebuilt. A wise librarian will wish to keep in working order a few antique computers that can read such ancient technologies as CDs and USB thumb-drives. […]

Conscientious institutions already make copies of some web pages, e-books and other digital material, and shift the data to new hardware every five year. […]

Mistakes 30 years ago mean that much of the early digital age is already a closed book (or no book at all) to historians.

{ The Economist | Continue reading }

image { Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel }

‘My role is the joint of being the secretary and, quite ironically, the dialectically reduplicated author of the author or the authors.’ –Kierkegaard


Moebius syndrome is a rare condition that affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerves, resulting in paralysis of the muscles that control face and eye movements. This means that those affected by Moebius syndrome are unable to move their face and eyes, and thus to form any facial expressions.

This one-in-a-million neurological disorder is present from birth, but its rarity often leads to late diagnosis. Besides a “mask-like” lack of expression, the Moebius syndrome is characterized by the inability to suck, problems with swallowing, and hearing and speech impairment.

{ United Academics | Continue reading }

collage { John Stezaker }

Coming out with a whopper now. Rhapsodies about damn all.


One of the nightmare scenarios for modern society is the possibility of a global flu pandemic like the 1918 Spanish influenza which infected about a quarter of the global population and killed as many as 130 million of them.

An important question for policy makers is how best to limit the spread of such a disease if a new outbreak were to occur. (The Spanish flu was caused by the H1N1 flu virus that was also responsible for the 2009 swine flu outbreak.)

One obvious idea is to close international airports to prevent, or at least dramatically reduce, the movement of potentially infected individuals between countries. But is this the best approach?

Today, Jose Marcelino and Marcus Kaiser at Newcastle University in the UK, provide an answer. They say a better approach is to cut specific flights between airports because it can achieve the same reduction in the spread of the disease with far less drastic action.

{ The Physics arXiv Blog | Continue reading }

Be a corporal work of mercy if someone would take the life of that bloody dog


Poltergeists are defined as paranormal, mischievous ghostly presences that appear to a select group of people. As paranormal entities, they are beyond investigation by rational scientific means. Or are they? Odd sensations, visions, felt presences, out-of-body experiences, etc. have all been explained by unusual brain activity. Hence, neuroscientists should consider that poltergeists exist in the mind of the perceiver, not as a physical reality in the external world.

A new paper by parapsychologist William G. Roll and colleagues reported on the case of a woman who experienced paranormal phenomenon after suffering a head injury. (…)

[After the head injury,] …the relationship with her first husband deteriorated because he insisted she was not the same person. According to her reports one night he tried to kill her. The anomalous phenomena began that night and have been intermittent since that time. Their intensity and frequency have increased during the last 2–3 years.

EEG recordings revealed chronically abnormal activity at a right temporal lobe electrode.

{ The Neurocritic | Continue reading }

The will of God is all in all

The bear famously tranquilized on the University of Colorado campus last week, and immortalized in a viral photo by CU student Andy Duann, met a tragic death early Thursday morning in the southbound lanes of U.S. 36.

{ DailyCamera | Continue reading }

‘I ran my life exactly as I wanted to, all the time. I never listened to anybody.’ –Michael Caine


Albert Tirrell and Mary Bickford had scandalized Boston for years, both individually and as a couple, registering, as one observer noted, “a rather high percentage of moral turpitude.” Mary, the story went, married James Bickford at 16 and settled with him in Bangor, Maine. They had one child, who died in infancy. Some family friends came to console her and invited her to travel with them to Boston. Mary found herself seduced by the big city. (…)

James came to Boston at once, found Mary working in a house of ill repute on North Margin Street and returned home without her. She moved from brothel to brothel and eventually met Tirrell, a wealthy and married father of two. He and Mary traveled together as man and wife, changing their names whenever they moved, and conducted a relationship as volatile as it was passionate; Mary once confided to a fellow boarder that she enjoyed quarreling with Tirrell because they had “such a good time making up.” (…)

Choate kept that case in mind while plotting his defense of Tirrell, and considered an even more daring tactic: contending that Tirrell was a chronic sleepwalker. If he killed Mary Bickford, he did so in a somnambulistic trance and could not be held responsible.

{ Smithsonian | Continue reading }

photo { Linus Bill }

With what success had he attempted direct instruction?


Already lost two fake nails, my drink, and my best friend


Homicidal sleepwalking, also known as homicidal somnambulism, is the act of killing someone during an episode of sleepwalking.

About 68 cases had been reported in the literature up to 2000.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

photo { Anja Niemi }

Kneel before Zod


Sixty-five million years ago, a Manhattan-size meteorite traveling through space at about 11 kilometers per second punched through the sky before hitting the ground near what is now Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The energy released by the impact poured into the atmosphere, heating Earth’s surface. Then the dust lofted by this impact blocked out the sun, bringing years of wintry conditions everywhere, wiping out many terrestrial species, including the nonfeathered dinosaurs. Birds and mammals thus owe their ascendancy to the intersection of two orbits: that of Earth and that of a devastating visitor from deep space. (…)

In December 2004, scientists at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, Calif., estimated there was a nearly 3 percent chance that a 30-billion-kilogram rock called 99942 Apophis would slam into Earth in 2029, releasing the energy equivalent of 500 million tons of TNT. That’s enough to level small countries or raise tsunamis that could wash away coastal cities on several continents. More recent calculations have lowered the odds of a 2029 impact to about 1 in 250 000. This time around, Apophis will probably miss us—but only by 30 000 km, less than one-tenth of the distance to the moon. (…)

We considered several strategies. The most dramatic—and the favorite of Hollywood special-effects experts—is the nuclear option. Just load up the rocket with a bunch of thermonuclear bombs, aim carefully, and light the fuse when the spacecraft approaches the target. What could be simpler? The blast would blow off enough material to alter the trajectory of the body, nudging it into an orbit that wouldn’t intersect Earth.

But what if the target is brittle? The object might then fragment, and instead of one large body targeting Earth, there could be several rocks—now highly radioactive—headed our way.

{ IEEE Spectrum | Continue reading }

painting { Nicola Verlato }

It was autumn, the springtime of death


How to survive an atomic bomb

The first thing to understand is that if you are still alive five minutes after a small nuclear weapon detonates, you are already very likely to survive.

{ Jason Lefkowitz | Continue reading }

I finally figured out how to make my dick 8 inches long. Fold it in half.


I missed a great story circulated by my first New York roommates about how our scuzzball landlord is now embroiled in a legal fracas for renting a 1.5 million Tribeca apartment to a guy who runs a basement sex loft out of it offering “flaming massages.” The neighbors are so mad they keep smearing dog feces on the door. I could have lived without this news, but I’m happier now that I have it.


The messages Facebook hides in an obscure folder labeled “Other.”

{ Slate | Continue reading }



“I only remember meeting him once,” she said. “Fred had some of the guys over, and Joe Sims was sitting right here. He was interested in all the Sinatra stuff. Then when he was leaving, he said something to me. He said, ‘The one problem with that collection is that Frank Sinatra can’t sing.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?’ He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Frank Sinatra can’t sing.’ The hackles on my neck stood up. Literally. I mean it. When Fred came back, I said, ‘He’s bad news, Fred. I can tell you right now, he’s bad news.’ But Fred pooh-poohed it. He said something like, ‘Ah, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’”

It is the central mystery of the case. (…) By all accounts, Fred Thomas had lived an exemplary life of loyalty and leadership, with a devoted wife, a son nearby, a secure pension income, and a dream home to show for it. Joe Sims (…) was a man of unsavory associations and catastrophic divorces, a man who when he tells the truth, tells it slant, a man who stands accused of raping his stepdaughter in a house with her old swing set still planted in the backyard.

{ GQ | Continue reading }

‘I think the killers get far too much attention.’ –Doug Coupland


A simple mathematical model of the brain explains the pattern of murders by a serial killer, say researchers

On 20 November 1990, Andrei Chikatilo was arrested in Rostov, a Russian state bordering the Ukraine. After nine days in custody, Chikatilo confessed to the murder of 36 girls, boys and women over a 12 year period. He later confessed to a further 20 murders, making him one of the most prolific serial killers in modern history.

Today, Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury at the University of California, Los Angeles, release a mathematical analysis of Chikatilo’s pattern of behaviour. They say the behaviour is well characterised by a power law and that this is exactly what would be expected if Chikatilo’s behaviour is caused by a certain pattern of neuronal firing in the brain.

Their thinking is based on the fundamental behaviour of neurons. When a neuron fires, it cannot fire again until it has recharged, a time known as the refractory period.

Each neuron is connected to thousands of others. Some of these will also be ready to fire and so can be triggered by the first neuron. These in turn will be connected to more neurons and so on. So it’s easy to see how a chain reaction of firings can sweep through the brain if conditions are ripe.

But this by itself cannot explain a serial killer’s behaviour. “We cannot expect that the killer commits murder right at the moment when neural excitation reaches a certain threshold. He needs time to plan and prepare his crime,” say Simkin and Roychowdhury.

Instead, they suggest that a serial killer only commits murder after the threshold has been exceeded for a certain period of time.

They also assume that the murder has a sedative effect on the killer, causing the neuronal activity to drop below the threshold.

{ The Physics arXiv Blog | Continue reading }

photo { Lady detectives learning their trade. Mr. Kersey is showing them how to apprehend a suspect. April 1927. | Fox Photos/Getty Images }

I know right? When’s it scheduled for again?


Climate scientists have long warned that if we continue to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas as our dominant source of energy, the planet will warm, extreme events will increase, and we will become more vulnerable to disasters. Overall, the planet has warmed about 1.2°F over the past century. Since I was born in 1970, the United States has heated up at a pace of 0.5°F per decade. As Lemonick points out, ”Scientists know that the increasing load of greenhouse gases we’re pumping into the atmosphere doesn’t “cause” extreme weather. But it does raise the odds, just as a diet of triple bacon cheeseburgers raises the odds of heart disease.”

All weather is now born into an environment that is warmer and moister because of man-made, heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution. Thanks in part to warmer oceans, there is 4 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere and that amount will continue to increase as the planet warms, providing more fuel for storms. Droughts, wildfires, heat waves and heavy downpours are going to become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting. In fact, we can already see this playing out in historical data.

{ Salon | Continue reading | More: Why do people still deny climate change? }

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in its most recent assessment report: “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.” And as data continue to pile up, the evidence gets ever stronger that human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause of the observed warming over the past century.

But hurricanes are difficult. Climate models predict that they will become more intense. At the same time, considerable uncertainty remains. We have only about 40 years of reliable observational records, which precludes a clear determination of their variability. Given that different aspects of climate change could act to increase or decrease hurricane activity, whether or not Katrina can be ascribed to global warming is a challenge beset by difficulty.

{ Slate | Continue reading | More: When should we blame climate change for natural disasters? }

Humanity has done little to address climate change. Global emissions of carbon dioxide reached (another) all-time peak in 2010. The most recent international talks to craft a global treaty to address the problem pushed off major action until 2020. Fortunately, there’s an alternative—curbing the other greenhouse gases.

Specifically, in the case of rapid action to slow catastrophic climate change, the best alternatives appear to be: methane and black carbon (otherwise known as soot). A new economic and scientific analysis published in Science on January 13 of the benefits of cutting these two greenhouse gases finds the benefits to be manifold—from human health to increased agricultural yields.

Even better, by analyzing some 400 potential soot- and methane-emission control measures, the international team of researchers found that just 14 deliver “nearly 90 percent” of the potential benefits. Bonus: the 14 steps also restrain global warming by roughly 0.5 degree Celsius by 2050, according to computer modeling.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }