‘It depends on what the meaning of the word is is.’ –Bill Clinton

How do we navigate a deeply structured world? Why are you reading this sentence first - and did you actually look at the fifth word?

{ Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

22.jpg Mum changes her son’s name after tattoo artist spelled it wrong

A cancer researcher said she collected blood from 98 people. It was all her own.

In the 1950s, China established a regulation requiring that at least one room in each apartment receive a minimum of one hour of sunshine on the day of the winter solstice, December 21.

Researchers studied a range of fitness apps and found only one was effective, while others failed to spark improvements or made the problem worse

The more intelligent a person, the fewer connections there are between the neurons in his cerebral cortex. These findings sound paradoxical at first glance, but they do reconcile previously conflicting results.

Images of baby animals temporarily reduce women’s appetite for meat. In contrast, the evidence for men was less strong.

people display more red and black clothing when meeting a possible mate for the first time

Demographics doom more and more males to involuntary celibacy

Male Sexlessness is Rising, But Not for the Reasons Incels Claim

The Difference Between Reversible and Irreversible Decisions

As robots get good at mimicking human behavior, people can be deceived into thinking they have human intelligence

The social pressure to have an opinion and a lack of accountability are what lead to the mix of truth, half-truth and outright falsehood known as bullshit, study

the rise of the pointless job

distinctive eyebrows (e.g., thick, dense) reveal narcissists’ personality to others

Susceptibility to contagious diseases among improvisational artists

How much life does a sausage cost you?

Extra glass of wine a day ‘will shorten your life by 30 minutes’

researchers have shown that a synthetic “double Trojan horse” drug can fool bacteria into willingly accepting a toxic antibiotic

the eye movement record suggested that initial processing of the text was facilitated when periods were followed by two spaces

How could we build an invisibility cloak to hide Earth from an alien civilization?

What Is Dark Matter?

Dead zones are areas devoid of oxygen. In the ocean, these are also known as ‘oxygen minimum zones’ and they are naturally occurring between 200 and 800 meters deep in some parts of the world.

Why New York City Stopped Building Subways

“Law does not govern,” writes Dorothy Thompson, then a correspondent for several major U.S. publications, about conditions in 1934 Germany. “Force and the arbitrary and unchallengeable decisions of a small oligarchy, made from day to day, govern. Their decrees are the law.”

Things no one tells you before an Antarctic expedition

A first experiment in AI-enhanced AR

Communication and propaganda through the Wi-FI wireless standard

Two rubber band technique for finger ring removal

Seven Puzzles You Think You Must Not Have Heard Correctly (with solutions) [PDF]

Lying or spreading “false news” was treated as a crime in colonial Massachusetts

The longest straight-line route possible without hitting land

Once upon a time…

‘The future enters into us long before it happens.’ –Rainer Maria Rilke

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[L]ife may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago). […]

Evidence of the role of extraterrestrial viruses in affecting terrestrial evolution has recently been plausibly implied in the gene and transcriptome sequencing of Cephalopods. The genome of the Octopus shows a staggering level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes more than is present in Homo sapiens. Octopus belongs to the coleoid sub-class of molluscs (Cephalopods) that have an evolutionary history that stretches back over 500 million years, although Cephalopod phylogenetics is highly inconsistent and confusing. Cephalopods are also very diverse, with the behaviourally complex coleoids, (Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopus) presumably arising under a pure terrestrial evolutionary model from the more primitive nautiloids. However the genetic divergence of Octopus from its ancestral coleoid sub-class is very great, akin to the extreme features seen across many genera and species noted in Eldridge-Gould punctuated equilibria patterns (below). Its large brain and sophisticated nervous system, camera-like eyes, flexible bodies, instantaneous camouflage via the ability to switch colour and shape are just a few of the striking features that appear suddenly on the evolutionary scene. The transformative genes leading from the consensus ancestral Nautilus to the common Cuttlefish to Squid to the common Octopus are not easily to be found in any pre-existing life form — it is plausible then to suggest they seem to be borrowed from a far distant “future” in terms of terrestrial evolution, or more realistically from the cosmos at large. Such an extraterrestrial origin as an explanation of emergence of course runs counter to the prevailing dominant paradigm. […]

One plausible explanation, in our view, is that the new genes are likely new extraterrestrial imports to Earth — most plausibly as an already coherent group of functioning genes within (say) cryopreserved and matrix protected fertilized Octopus eggs. […]

Hoyle and Wickramasinghe thus argued and predicted on the basis of the then available evidence that microorganisms and virus populations in the comets and related cosmic bolides appear to have regularly delivered living systems (organisms, viruses and seeds) to the Earth since its formation, and continue to do so. […]

Darwinian evolution and its various non-Darwinian terrestrial drivers are therefore most likely caused by the continuing supply of new virions and micro-organisms from space with their genetic impact events written all over our genomes. Indeed a strong case can be made for hominid evolution involving a long sequence of viral pandemics, each one of which was a close call to total extinction of an evolving line. The most crucial genes relevant to evolution of hominids, as indeed all species of plants and animals, seems likely in many instances to be of external origin, being transferred across the galaxy largely as information rich virions. In some cases it is possible to imagine multicellular life-forms that were established on an icy cometary or planetary body to be transferred as frozen eggs, embryos or seeds in large icy bolides that have been transported to the Earth in soft landings.

{ Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology | PDF }

photo { Ezra Stoller, Philip Morris headquarters, Richmond, 1972 }

You gotta get up, you gotta get off, you gotta get down, girl

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In Study 2, we moved chairs together in Starbucks across the country so that they were partially blocking the aisle (n = 678).

People in northern China were more likely to move the chair out of the way, which is consistent with findings that people in individualistic cultures are more likely to try to control the environment. People in southern China were more likely to adjust the self to the environment by squeezing through the chairs. Even in China’s most modern cities, rice-wheat differences live on in everyday life.

{ Improbable | Continue reading }

‘Man with a Cocked Head’ was a painting of a penis in a suit

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{ Chris Burden, Being Photographed Looking Out Looking In, 1971 }

‘The trouble with comparing yourself to others is that there are too many others.’ –Sarah Manguso

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The Game is a mental game where the objective is to avoid thinking about The Game itself. Thinking about The Game constitutes a loss. 

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

art { Taryn Simon, Finance package for the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Baku, Azerbaijan, February 3, 2004, Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015 | Ralph Gibson, Beautiful Parlor, 1968 }

Loneliness, an interpersonally stressful state of perceived social isolation

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framed text, glass jars, shelf, hair, fingernails, and skin { Adrian Piper, What Will Become of Me, 1985, ongoing }

Every day, the same, again

3.jpgHackers stole a casino’s high-roller database through a thermometer in the lobby fish tank. They are increasingly targeting unprotected ‘internet of things’ devices such as air condition systems and CCTV to get into corporate networks.

‘Bitcoin Heist’ suspect climbs out prison window in Iceland, gets on plane to Sweden, reportedly same flight as Iceland’s leader

A powerful combination of lawyers, banks and hedge funds have lined up to talk hundreds of women into unnecessary and sometimes dangerous surgery, to help build better lawsuits against medical device companies

T-Mobile agreed to pay $40 million to resolve a government investigation that found it failed to correct problems with delivering calls in rural areas and inserted false ring tones in hundreds of millions of calls

researchers found that people at higher elevations in an office building were more willing to take financial risks

After working in a world of ‘tech bros,’ entrepreneur Kristina Roth founds SuperShe, a female-only island

we found that better government services were related to lower religiosity among countries (Study 1) and states in the United States (Study 2).

In jobs where existing research has posited that attractiveness is plausibly a productivity enhancing attribute—those that require substantial amounts of interpersonal interaction—a large beauty premium exists. In contrast, in jobs where attractiveness seems unlikely to truly enhance productivity—jobs that require working with information and data—there is no beauty premium.

The plastic, which can come from soft furnishings and synthetic fabrics, gets into household dust which falls on plates and is consumed. We could be swallowing more than 100 tiny plastic particles with every main meal, a Heriot-Watt study has revealed.

Women’s voice pitch lowers after pregnancy

Not using smartphones in the bedroom increases happiness and quality of life.

New research shows that we can train our brains to become memory champions [More: The Method of Loci]

This finding provides new insights on the attentional mechanisms behind the initial stages of serendipity.

HARVEST uses wind energy to mine cryptocurrency to fund climate research [Thanks Tim]

A kakistocracy is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens

‘Not necessity, not desire, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything, they remain unhappy.’ –Nietzsche

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{ while ordinary people are struggling, those at the top are doing just fine. Income and wealth inequality have shot up. The top 1% of Americans command nearly twice the amount of income as the bottom 50%. The situation is more equitable in Europe, though the top 1% have had a good few decades. | The Economist | full story }

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{ Netflix performance burns hedge fund short sellers }

Yes, tid. There’s where.

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Twelve years ago, my now-Bloomberg colleague Joe Weisenthal proposed that startups that planned to disrupt an established industry should short the stock of the incumbents in that industry. That way, if they were right — if they were able to undercut big established public companies — then they’d get rich as those public companies declined. […] Their profits would come from the incumbents’ shrinking.

Weisenthal’s proposal was for disruptors offering a free product; the idea was that the entire business model would consist of (1) offering a free service that public companies offer for money and (2) paying for the service by shorting the public companies. But there’s a more boring and more widely generalizable — yet still vanishingly rare — version of this approach in which it just augments the disruptors’ business model: You sell better widgets cheaper and make a profit that way, while doubling down by also shorting your competitors. It’s a more leveraged way to do the business you were going to do anyway, an extra vote of confidence in yourself.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

Time to rebuild the

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Across four experiments participants chose between two versions of a stimulus which either had an attractive left side or an attractive right side. […]

In each experiment participants showed a significant bias to choose the stimulus with an attractive left side more than the stimulus with an attractive right side. The leftward bias emerged at age 10/11, was not caused by a systematic asymmetry in the perception of colourfulness or complexity, and was stronger when the difference in attractiveness between the left and right sides was larger.

The results are relevant to the aesthetics of product and packaging design and show that leftward biases extend to the perceptual judgement of everyday items. Possible causes of the leftward bias for attractiveness judgements are discussed and it is suggested that the size of the bias may not be a measure of the degree of hemispheric specialization.

{ Laterality | Continue reading }

art { Adrian Piper, Catalysis III, 1970 }

What then can Kant mean by his mysterious suggestion that ‘objects must conform to our cognition’?

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The image of the world that we see is continuously deformed and fragmented by foreshortenings, partial overlapping, and so on, and must be constantly reassembled and interpreted; otherwise, it could change so much that we would hardly recognize it. Since pleasure has been found to be involved in visual and cognitive information processing, the possibility is considered that anhedonia (the reduction of the ability to feel pleasure) might interfere with the correct reconstruction and interpretation of the image of the environment and alter its appearance.

{ Schizophrenia Research and Treatment | Continue reading }