The issue of asymmetry in xxx phenomena is important


Amy, a 20-year-old brunette at the University of California at Irvine, was on her laptop when she got an IM from a random guy nicknamed mistahxxxrightme, asking her for webcam sex. Out of the blue, like that. Amy told the guy off, but he IM’d again, saying he knew all about her, and to prove it he started describing her dorm room, the color of her walls, the pattern on her sheets, the pictures on her walls. “You have a pink vibrator,” he said. It was like Amy’d slipped into a stalker movie. Then he sent her an image file. Amy watched in horror as the picture materialized on the screen: a shot of her in that very room, naked on the bed, having webcam sex with James.

Mistah X wasn’t done. The hacker fired off a note to James’s ex-girlfriend Carla Gagnon: “nice video I hope you still remember this if you want to chat and find out before I put it online hit me up.” Attached was a video still of her in the nude. Then the hacker contacted James directly, boasting that he had control of his computer, and it became clear this wasn’t about sex: He was toying with them. As Mistah X taunted James, his IMs filling the screen, James called Amy: He had the creep online. What should he do? They talked about calling the cops, but no sooner had James said the words than the hacker reprimanded him. “I know you’re talking to each other right now!” he wrote. James’s throat constricted; how did the stalker know what he was saying? Did he bug his room?

They were powerless. Amy decided to call the cops herself. But the instant she phoned the dispatcher, a message chimed on her screen. It was from the hacker. “I know you just called the police,” he wrote. (…)

The task of hunting him down fell to agents Tanith Rogers and Jeff Kirkpatrick of the FBI’s cyber program in Los Angeles. (…)

Luis Mijangos was an unlikely candidate for the world’s creepiest hacker. He lived at home with his mother, half brother, two sisters—one a schoolgirl, the other a housekeeper—and a perky gray poodle named Petra. It was a lively place, busy with family who gathered to watch soccer and to barbecue on the marigold-lined patio. Mijangos had a small bedroom in front, decorated in the red, white, and green of Mexican soccer souvenirs, along with a picture of Jesus. That’s where he spent most of his time, in front of his laptop—sitting in his wheelchair. (…)

In the early days of cybercrime, hackers had to code their software from scratch, but as he searched the Web, Mijangos found dozens of programs, with names like SpyNet and Poison Ivy, available cheaply, if not free. They allowed him to access someone’s desktop but limited the number of computers he could control simultaneously. Bragging to his peers, Mijangos says he found a way to modify an existing program that supported roughly thirty connections so that it could handle up to 600 computers at once.

{ GQ | Continue reading }

The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck


{ 1 | 2 }

It’s go-go, not cry-cry


{ Tim Geoghegan | Right now on the Amazon page for the pepper spray used by Lt. John Pike… }

related { Pepper spray and cocaine, a little known lethal combination }

bonus [thanks Tobias]:


No one sleeps in the hanging garden


Abu Dhabi — A dramatic fall in traffic accidents this week has been directly linked to the three-day disruption in BlackBerry services.

In Dubai, traffic accidents fell 20 per cent from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. In Abu Dhabi, the number of accidents this week fell 40 per cent and there were no fatal accidents.

On average there is a traffic accident every three minutes in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi there is a fatal accident every two days.

{ The National | Continue reading }

photo { Richard Prince, Untitled (Upstate), 1995-99 }

The chains of wedlock are so heavy that it takes two to carry them; sometimes three.


Jealousy has often been considered a dangerous emotion because it motivates a wide range of behavior including spousal violence and abuse. It is therefore a major task of jealousy research to identify potential determinants of jealousy-motivated behavior. One such potential determinant is the intensity of the jealousy feeling. It appears reasonable to assume that mild jealousy feelings promote rather innocuous mate retention tactics such as heightened vigilance. In contrast, very intense feelings are more likely to evoke ferocious reactions including violence and abuse.

Several determinants of jealousy intensity have been identified. First, sneaking suspicions of a partner’s infidelity appear to result in mild, anxious-insecurity like jealousy feelings, whereas the certainty of actual infidelity is associated with intense, rage-like jealousy feelings.

Secondly, based on evolutionary psychological considerations, Buunk and his colleagues provided substantial empirical evidence that rival characteristics affect jealousy intensity. These authors found that a (potential) rival’s high physical attractiveness elicits more jealousy in women than in men. In contrast, a (potential) rival high in social and physical dominance and social status evokes more jealousy in men than in women.

Third, a fundamental factor contributing to the intensity of jealousy concerns the infidelity type the partner engages in. Empirical evidence continues to accumulate confirming the evolutionary psychological hypothesis that men respond with more intense jealousy than women to a mate’s sexual infidelity whereas, conversely, women respond with more intense jealousy than men to a mate’s emotional infidelity.

As the unfaithful partner most likely tries to conceal his or her infidelity, the jealousy mechanism often needs to rely on indirect evidence from which a mate’s infidelity can be inferred. An important source of such indirect evidence consists of sudden and conspicuous changes in the partner’s behavior. (…) However, the sudden and conspicuous changes in the partner’s behavior as factors contributing to jealousy intensity and thus determinants of jealousy-motivated behavior have several limitations. First, these behavioral changes are often ambiguous with respect to the infidelity type (e.g., the clothing style suddenly changes; he or she stops returning your phone calls), thus presumably requiring complex inference processes that are prone to errors. Second, some if not most of these behavioral cues to infidelity were certainly not available during our ancestors’ past, (e.g., the clothing style suddenly changes; he or she stops returning your phone calls). As a consequence, they could not have shaped the jealousy mechanism during its evolutionary history. (…)

These considerations raise the question whether there are possible additional cues to infidelity that do not suffer from the limitations mentioned above. The present study picks up this question and examines a hitherto neglected but fundamental proximate contextual factor in jealousy research: The spatial distance between the persons involved in the “eternal triangle” (Buss, 2000), that is the partner, the potential rival and the jealous person. Spatial distance between the three persons (a) was recurrently available to our ancestors and thus could have been exploited by the jealousy mechanism throughout our evolutionary past, (b) can be clearly detected, (c) is not ambiguous and thus does not require complex inferential processes, (d) informs rather directly about appropriate mate guarding behavior (e.g., moving closer to the partner; increasing the distance between the partner and the potential rival or stepping between the partner and the potential rival).

{ Evolutionary Psychology | Continue reading | PDF }

painting { Fragonard, The Stolen Kiss, c. 1786-1788 }

It’s a brand new program. It’s called Snow-White.


In a bizarre repeat of a high-profile incident last year, an Apple employee once again appears to have lost an unreleased iPhone in a bar.

Last year, an iPhone 4 prototype was bought by a gadget blog that paid $5,000 in cash. This year’s lost phone seems to have taken a more mundane path: it was taken from a Mexican restaurant and bar and may have been sold on Craigslist for $200. Still unclear are details about the device, what version of the iOS operating system it was running, and what it looks like.

{ CNET | Continue reading }

Joey Navinski says she put her tongue in his mouth


The practice of naming storms (tropical cyclones) began years ago in order to help in the quick identification of storms in warning messages because names are presumed to be far easier to remember than numbers and technical terms. (…)

In the beginning, storms were named arbitrarily. An Atlantic storm that ripped off the mast of a boat named Antje became known as Antje’s hurricane. Then the mid-1900’s saw the start of the practice of using feminine names for storms.
In the pursuit of a more organized and efficient naming system, meteorologists later decided to identify storms using names from a list arranged alpabetically. Thus, a storm with a name which begins with A, like Anne, would be the first storm to occur in the year.

Before the end of the 1900’s, forecasters started using male names for those forming in the Southern Hemisphere. (…)

Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. (…) Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2008 list will be used again in 2014.

{ World Meteorological Organization | Continue reading }

related { This isn’t the first time we’ve met Hurricane Irene | As the storm’s outer bands reached New York on Saturday night, two kayakers capsized and had to be rescued off Staten Island }

Nothing can be destroyed, except by a cause external to itself


{ What we can say is that the clues in the Somerton Beach mystery (or the enigma of the “Unknown Man”) add up to one of the world’s most perplexing cold cases. It may be the most mysterious of them all. | Smithsonian | full story }

Will daint ya, anger will change ya


From amoeba to human, nearly all living things run on an internal clock, a circadian rhythm that regulates our respective business over a 24-hour period. (…)

But what if night stops coming, if daylight lasts all day? Stargazers already are seeing it. The illumination from streetlights and other artificial night lighting is now so persistently bright that 10 percent of the world’s population, and 40 percent of Americans, no longer view a night sky that the human eye perceives as fully dark. It’s a scientific loss for astronomers and a psychic one for the rest of us.

More and more, ecologists are finding that this false light also takes a toll on the natural world. Every year, night-migrating birds collide with bright buildings by the millions. Field studies have shown that artificial light changes the spawning times of certain species of coral and fish whose reproductive cycle depends on a lunar clock. It washes out the mating signals flashed by fireflies. One scientist found that a group of tree frogs halted their mating calls whenever the nearby football stadium held a night game and caused the sky to glow.

{ OneEarth | Continue reading }

photo { Robert Snowden }

Last night man, cool. Total blast. Everything you could ever want from an evening.


Phineas Gage is famous for having an iron bar being blown through his frontal lobes. Although his case is usually described as the first of its kind, this month’s edition of The Psychologist has a surprising article on many lesser known cases from the 1800s, usually due to mishaps with early firearms.

The piece is packed with amazing case vignettes of people who have suffered serious frontal lobe injury but were described as relatively unaffected.

{ MindHacks | Continue reading }

related { Have humans reached the physical limits of how complex our brain can be? }

It all began when the silence of the jungle was broken by an unfamiliar sound


{ A leopard that mauled 11 people in a fierce showdown with Indian villagers has died of knife wounds after being captured. }

It was twelve o’clock one friday night, I was rockin to the beat and feelin alright


I have been reading Curzio Malaparte’s Technique of the Coup d’état this weekend. It’s a fascinating document – the basic argument is that the October Revolution represented an exportable, universally applicable technology for taking control of the state, quite independent of ideological motivation or broader strategic situation. (…)

So, what’s this open-source putsch kit consist of? Basically you need a small force of determined rebels. Small is important – you want quality not quantity as secrecy, unanimity, and common understanding good enough to permit independent action are required. You want as much chaos as possible in advance of the coup, although not so much that everything’s shut. And then you occupy key infrastructures and command-and-control targets. Don’t, whatever you do, go after ministries or similar grand institutional buildings – get the stuff that would really cause trouble if it blew up.

{ The Yorkshire Ranter | Continue reading }

Yeah, did you ever duke it out with her? No, I don’t think so.


In 1986, a young nurse named Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in Los Angeles. Police pinned down no suspects, and the case gradually went cold. It took 23 years—and revolutionary breakthroughs in forensic science­—before LAPD detectives could finally assemble the pieces of the puzzle. When they did, they found themselves facing one of the unlikeliest murder suspects in the city’s history.

{ The Atlantic | full story }

artwork { Roy Lichtenstein, Finger Pointing, 1973 }

Else there is danger of.


The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession.

In all regions, the country appears to be safer. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. Small towns, especially, are seeing far fewer murders: In cities with populations under 10,000, the number plunged by more than 25 percent last year.

The news was not as positive in New York City, however. After leading a long decline in crime rates, the city saw increases in all four types of violent lawbreaking — murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — including a nearly 14 percent rise in murders. But data from the past few months suggest the city’s upward trend may have slowed or stopped.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo


{ Japan earthquake, aftermath }

With kisses drunk, you drop your heads in the sublimely sobering water


{ Fukushima Fallout Reaches San Francisco. Small amounts of radioactive material have turned up in rainwater in the Bay Area, say nuclear scientists. | The Physics arXiv Blog | full story | Read more: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | Fukushima in focus: collection of coverage }

artwork { Ruel Pascual }

100 miles an hour, chrome and some wood grain


Even if Japan’s nuclear crisis is contained, its earthquake and tsunami now seem certain to be, economically speaking, among the worst natural disasters in history, with total losses potentially as high as two hundred billion dollars. In response, fearful investors sent the Nikkei down almost twenty per cent on the first day of trading after the tsunami, and it’s still down more than ten per cent. Yet, while the fear is understandable, this may turn out to have been an overreaction: history suggests that, despite the terrifying destruction and the horrific human toll, the long-term impact of the quake on the Japanese economy could be surprisingly small.

{ New Yorker | Continue reading }

‘We’re going, we’re going to Crown,’ Parr said, using the code name for the White House.


At 2:27 p.m. on March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan (Secret Service code name: Rawhide) walked out of a Washington hotel and was shot by John Hinckley Jr. In the confused moments that followed, no one was sure exactly what had happened—or if Mr. Reagan had even been hurt. In this excerpt from the forthcoming book “Rawhide Down,” a detailed account of the attempted assassination, Secret Service agent Jerry Parr has just shoved Mr. Reagan into his car after hearing the gunshots.

{ Del Quentin Wilber/WSJ | Continue reading | More }

Poison gas? That’s the weapon of a coward, and you know it.


On January 14th, a 39-year-old computer engineer was admitted to Princeton University Hospital in New Jersey with nagging, flu-like symptoms. The man was nauseated, suffering from severe joint pains, wracked by a strange, convulsive trembling in his legs. Doctors at the hospital tried one treatment after another but Xiaoye Wang only became weaker.

Finally, a nurse at the hospital stepped hesitantly forward. She remembered a 1995 case in China in which a student at Beijing University became mysteriously ill. The cause was eventually found to be poisoning by the  toxic element thallium. The young woman received a life-saving antidote although she suffered lingering disabilities from the attack.

And – as the nurse recalled from the highly publicized case – the student’s symptoms were eerily similar to Wang’s. (…) The Princeton doctors were dubious about a fairly exotic poison use, but they were running out of ideas. So they agreed to send Wang’s blood and urine samples out of state. And to their shock, the tests proved the nurse right. The lab had discovered a shockingly high level of thallium in Wang’s body. (…)

Thallium is a dangerous and carefully regulated poison, once widely available but mostly found in laboratories these days. “It’s either attempted suicide or homicide,” said Steven Marcus, head of the poison control center. He added that he knew of only one good antidote for thallium poisoning, a medication called Prussian Blue.

Rather ironically, the antidote’s name derives from another famously lethal substance. Prussian Blue refers to cyanide (a component of the medication) which can be used to produce a royal blue pigment. Some cyanide formulas are very deadly, notably hydrogen cyanide or potassium cyanide. But mixed into the tidy antidote formula (brand name Radiogardase) cyanide merely becomes part of a chemical chain that wraps itself around thallium, binding it up, and allowing the body to remove the poison.

By the time, the New Jersey doctors were able to secure the antidote though, it was too late. Wang was deep into a coma; he died on January 26 leaving doctors – and now criminal investigators – to answer the question raised by Steven Marcus. Was it suicide or was it murder?

{ PLoS | Continue reading }

He who sleeps cannot catch fish


Port Royal Jamaica is the only submerged city in the Western Hemisphere. (…)

Port Royal was a city of cultural and commercial exchange. The city was a commercial center of trade in African slaves, sugar, and other goods.

Port Royal was also a hot spot for cut throat pirates. (…) The economy was flooded by the wages of a common artisan’s honest day’s pay, and revenue from under the table deals of pirates, gamblers, and tavern keepers. Women of ill repute frequented the taverns, and sailors who made a semi-honest living at sea lavishly spent their earnings on these ladies of the evening. (…)

The heyday of mischief and ill-gotten gain came to a cataclysmic halt on the morning of June 7, 1692 when an earthquake and tidal wave submerged the infamous city.

The disaster took 2,000 lives on impact, and 3,000 more lives were lost due to injuries and disease following the earthquake. Moreover, the catastrophic event drove history down to the depths of the sea.

{ Water Wide Web | Continue reading }

Experts are now applying forensic techniques to retrieve evidence from underwater crime scenes in an effort to uphold laws that protect coral life and other marine mammals.

Underwater crimes include events such as anchors tearing through coral reefs, spills, using bleach or cyanide to stun tropical fish for the aquarium trade and more.

{ Water Wide Web | Continue reading }