Archive for April, 2010

True believers brains shut down while listening to their leaders

True believers brains shut down while listening to their leaders

Healing

This could explain a lot:

WHEN we fall under the spell of a charismatic figure, areas of the brain responsible for scepticism and vigilance become less active. That’s the finding of a study which looked at people’s response to prayers spoken by someone purportedly possessing divine healing powers. [...]

It’s not clear whether the results extend beyond religious leaders, but Schjødt speculates that brain regions may be deactivated in a similar way in response to doctors, parents and politicians.

New Scientists: Brain shuts off in response to healer’s prayer

April 30, 2010 0 comments
Murdoch doesn’t want you to know how much traffic the paywall will cost them

Murdoch doesn’t want you to know how much traffic the paywall will cost them

With nearly a month to go before News International raises its first paywall in June, both Times Online and Sun Online have stopped publishing their user numbers through the ABC in the UK.

March monthly figures for UK newspaper sites were issued Thursday – but both Murdoch sites are absent.

Paid Content: Before The Paywall, Murdoch Stops Disclosing UK News Site Traffic

(Think I found the link and swiped the headline from Mediabistro)

April 30, 2010 0 comments
What a busy week

What a busy week

The Nieman Journalism Lab week in a review and Charlie Stross cover it pretty well:

Nieman Journalism Lab: This Week in Review: Gizmodo and the shield law, making sense of social data, and the WSJ’s local push

Stross has some intriguing analysis of where Apple and HP are going, and covers some of this week’s most important tech news (HP buying Palm, and Microsoft ditching the Courier):

The App Store and the iTunes Store have taught Steve Jobs that ownership of the sales channel is vital. Even if he’s reduced to giving the machines away, as long as he can charge rent for access to data (or apps) he’s got a business model. He can also maintain quality (whatever that is), exclude malware, and beat off rivals. A well-cultivated app store is actually a customer draw. It’s also a powerful tool for promoting the operating system the apps run on. Operating system, hardware platform, and apps define an ecosystem.

Apple are trying desperately to force the growth of a new ecosystem — one that rivals the 26-year-old Macintosh environment — to maturity in five years flat. That’s the time scale in which they expect the cloud computing revolution to flatten the existing PC industry. Unless they can turn themselves into an entirely different kind of corporation by 2015 Apple is doomed to the same irrelevance as the rest of the PC industry — interchangable suppliers of commodity equipment assembled on a shoestring budget with negligable profit.

Charlie Stross: The real reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash

April 30, 2010 0 comments
Pope will make historic apology for abuse

Pope will make historic apology for abuse

The fuckin' Pope

Pope Benedict XVI is planning to make the first general apology for the abuse of children and minors by Roman Catholic priests when he meets thousands of clergymen from around the world in June at the climax of the International Year for Priests, Vatican sources say.

In the past there have been papal or church apologies for individual cases of paedophilia or for abuse in specific countries, for example during the German pontiff’s recent visit to Malta. What is being prepared now would be the first time a pope seeks to atone publicly for the extent to which paedophilia has been a major stain on the modern history of the church touching a constellation of countries, say the sources at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy. It could be considered comparable to the historic step that the previous pope, John Paul II, took in apologising to the Jews for historic church anti-Semitism and for misdeeds during the Crusades, they say.

The Independent: Pope will make historic apology for abuse

(Thanks Paul)

April 30, 2010 0 comments
Archigram archive

Archigram archive

Archigram: Drive-in housing

Above: Drive in Housing, a “Highly elaborated ongoing speculative exploration of the possible use of cars as mobile and serviced component parts of an adaptable dwelling system composed of cars, drive-in buildings and services.”

A massive archive of Archigram materials:

Archigram Archival Project

(via Bruce Sterling)

See also:

Archigram’s heirs open_sailing (my interview with their coordinator coming soon!)

Hallucinatory Urban Architecture of the Future

April 30, 2010 1 comment
Can sleeping poorly cause physical pain?

Can sleeping poorly cause physical pain?

sleep

These data suggest that sleep continuity disturbance, but not simple sleep restriction, impairs endogenous pain-inhibitory function and increases spontaneous pain, supporting a possible pathophysiologic role of sleep disturbance in chronic pain.

Barking Up The Wrong Tree: Can sleeping poorly cause physical pain?

(Photo by / CC)

April 30, 2010 0 comments
Does the ceiling height of a room dramatically affect how you think and feel?

Does the ceiling height of a room dramatically affect how you think and feel?

high ceilings

I’ve always thought tall ceilings help me think better.

This article demonstrates that variations in ceiling height can prime concepts that, in turn, affect how consumers process information. We theorized that when reasonably salient, a high versus low ceiling can prime the concepts of freedom versus confinement, respectively. These concepts, in turn, can prompt consumers’ use of predominately relational versus item-specific processing. Three studies found support for this theorizing. On a variety of measures, ceiling height–induced relational or item-specific processing was indicated by people’s reliance on integrated and abstract versus discrete and concrete ideation. Hence, this research sheds light on when and how ceiling height can affect consumers’ responses.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Does the ceiling height of a room dramatically affect how you think and feel?

(Photo credit: Posh Living / CC)

April 30, 2010 0 comments
Smart kids wait for sex?

Smart kids wait for sex?

Durex machine

Maybe… (emphasis mine):

. RESULTS: Controlling for age, physical maturity, and mother’s education, a significant curvilinear relationship between intelligence and coital status was demonstrated; adolescents at the upper and lower ends of the intelligence distribution were less likely to have sex. Higher intelligence was also associated with postponement of the initiation of the full range of partnered sexual activities. An expanded model incorporating a variety of control and mediator variables was tested to identify mechanisms by which the relationship operates. CONCLUSIONS: Higher intelligence operates as a protective factor against early sexual activity during adolescence, and lower intelligence, to a point, is a risk factor. More systematic investigation of the implications of individual differences in cognitive abilities for sexual activities and of the processes that underlie those activities is warranted.

U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Smart teens don’t have sex (or kiss much either)

I must be missing something because it looks to me like both higher and lower IQ teens were less likely to have sex. So doesn’t that mean being average is a risk factor?

(via Barking up the wrong tree via Dangerous Meme)

(Photo credit: castledweller / CC)

See also:

Smart Kids more likely to be heavy drinkers

April 30, 2010 1 comment
Anti-rape inserts for the South African World Cup?

Anti-rape inserts for the South African World Cup?

A South African inventor is seeking international donations so she can distribute 30,000 barbed condoms designed to thwart rapists ahead of the World Cup, to be held in South Africa in June. [...]

“The hooks penetrate through the skin [but] do not go into the spongy tissue.”

The Rape-aXe will now be latched onto the penis and can only be safely removed by a doctor. Speaking to Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) this month, the inventor said that, as the rapist reels with surprise, there should be an opportunity for his victim to “jump up and run.” [...]

The still-untested device caused a storm of controversy when it was first announced. There were many practical objections: the device might make the rapist angrier and more dangerous; several men might be involved; it doesn’t actually prevent rape; rapists might check for the device and remove it; the device might encourage anal rape; it could be misused by women to hurt men who are not raping them.

But the overriding criticism was a moral one: women should not have to adapt to what has been dubbed a ‘rape culture’ in South Africa. Lisa Vetten, of the Centre of Violence and Reconciliation in Johannesburg, said in 2007: “This is like going back to the days when women were forced to wear chastity belts. It is a terrifying thought that women are being made to adapt to rape.”

The First Post: ‘Rape-aXe’: World Cup fans get barbed condoms (NSFW: Not safe for work image on this page)

(via Grinding)

April 30, 2010 3 comments
Comic Book Adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant

Comic Book Adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Ant

David Mack's Electric Ant

Preview on davidmack.com

(via Wade)

Update: You can now buy the collected edition in paperback.

April 28, 2010 0 comments