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Showing posts from April, 2008

The myth of subliminal persuasion

If you’re in the human resources department of the Parallax Corporation you probably already know this:Psychologists Kirsten Ruys and Diedrick Stapel of the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research at Tillburg University in The Netherlands have uncovered the first empirical evidence to suggest humans do not need to be aware of the event that caused their mood or feelings in order to be affected by it. The scientists hypothesized that, since humans have evolved to respond quickly and unconsciously to stimuli, they should be able to react to an emotional event without full awareness: “You are likely to live longer if you immediately stop moving at the sight of a growling grizzly bear and do not need full awareness for such a response to be instigated,” explained Ruys and Stapel.

The researchers measured people’s thoughts, feelings and behavior to determine whether specific emotions were induced without awareness of their causes…Participants were separated into three groups and…

Flotsam and jetsam

In New Zealand a yellow-bellied sea snake washed ashore near Dargaville. Authorities say the snake is nothing to be concerned about, but the image of the black and bright yellow snake, twisted and dead on the wet sand near Dargavile, continues to haunt me.

For the second day in a row an Air Force drone washed ashore on the beach in Alabama. Authorities insisted the drones “contain no explosives” (who ever said they did?), and are “not a threat.”

Hundreds of dead fish washed ashore at Chemong Lake in Canda. Authorities say this is “normal”, and that “there's no cause for concern.” It’s widely believed the dead fish contain no explosives.

It’s not often someone regrets not finding hundreds of dead fish, but that’s probably what a Texas couple was feeling after discovering a partially decomposed human leg while strolling on a South Padre Island beach. The leg washed ashore wearing a sneaker. Authorities say they have no explanation for the leg. They also don’t say we shouldn’t be al…

Comets or unusual prodigies?

Mystery lights roam the skies above Phoenix and Florida. Are they visitors from space, or portents of disaster? Or both? A boy named Brandon Puckett saw the blazing orbs, and describes what it was like:

"I looked up and it was like these two fiery balls like flying across the sky, sort of in formation. They were like flying toward each other."

(In honor of Earth Day this entry is 100% biodegradable.)

Start the mewling and puking without me

Leading obstetrician Michel Odent explains why a man should never be present at the birth of his child:For many years, I have not been able to speak openly about my views that the presence of a father in a delivery room is not only unnecessary, but also hinders labour.

To utter such a thing over the past two decades would have been regarded as heresy, and flies in the face of popular convention.

But having been involved in childbirth for 50 years, and having been in charge of 15,000 births, I have reached the stage where I feel it is time to state what I - and many midwives and fellow obstetricians - privately consider the obvious.
That there is little good to come for either sex from having a man at the birth of a child.

For her, his presence is a hindrance, and a significant factor in why labours are longer, more painful and more likely to result in intervention than ever.

As for the effect on a man - well, was I surprised to hear a friend of mine state that watching his wife giving …

Progress being made

Libraries are innovating to attract the crucial youth demographic:Looking for new ways to attract young people, more than three quarters of the nation's public libraries support gaming, including card games and online activities, according to a study coming out this week....most librarians believe that gaming fits an overall strategy to increase teen involvement, noting a nationwide trend of libraries forming teen advisory boards, devoting more space to teen centers and allowing teens to help with the design...Libraries have worked hard in the past decade to change their hushed image, and gaming is now a common event. In early March, about 30 teenagers attended a game night at the public library in Burlington, Iowa, playing "Guitar Hero" and "Wii Sports" among others. About 100 teens compete monthly at "Guitar Hero" at the Rochester Hills Public Library in Michigan.Libraries have considerable room for growth in this area. While progress has been made,…

April happenings

Every April thousands arrive at the ancient Narsingh temple in Joshimath, India, to watch a priest possessed by the goddess Bhagwati eat pounds of butter (ghee), sugar (gur), uncooked rice, and an uncooked goat (tartare). Then he does a crazy dance (you would too). What happens after the dance I prefer not to think about. If that weren't enough, all the food is locally grown and organic.

A report from academia

The lamentations of a pseud:“When I was getting my B.A. in English, of my eight closest friends, five were either English or Comparative Literature majors; all had taken part in an intensive humanities program freshman year that included housing all the participants together. By senior year, there was absolutely no distinction between our academic work and the rest of our time...we were writing our own manifestos, poems, and really long emails; we were drinking cheap vodka (or sometimes some new thing purchased with fledgling credit cards, like cinnamon schnapps)...”

“I’d throw a party, my friend would sit cross-legged on the floor, soliloquizing about track 13 on Exile on Main Street and then disappearing home to write a story called “Rocket Queen.” A series of intensely heated arguments about Heidegger, conducted mostly at around three in the morning, led me to an independent study on Being and Time and my first real introduction to Continental philosophy and ‘theory.’”

“In the four y…

Millionaire crime fighter

From the Sunday, August 11, 1907, edition of The New York Times:
RICHEST POLICEMAN RESTORED TO FORCE; Inspector Hunt of Chicago, Worth $1,000,000, Welcomed by Citizens. ANTAGONIZED UNION LABOR Stopped Succession of Battles with the Police at the Stockyards in the Strike of 1904.

CHICAGO, Aug. 10. -- Inspector Nicholas Hunt, reputed millionaire, and the richest policeman in the world, was reinstated on the police force by Chief Shippy last night and placed in charge of his old headquarters in Hyde Park.

The Inspector was met at his old station by hundreds of friends. His return was the occasion for an impromptu love feast, in which prominent citizens of Hyde Park and the police under his command took part.For some reason inflation calculators don’t go back further than 1913, but $1,000,000 in 1907 would be more than $21,000,000 today. According to the Biographical History Of The American Irish In Chicago:
Among the notable murder cases with which Inspector Hunt has been connected may be …

Scarborough donkey news

Because of new animal cruelty rules the fat children of Scarborough can no longer ride donkeys:Anyone over eight stone will not be allowed to ride a donkey on the beach – which means that obese children may need to be turned away.

The rules have been written by The Donkey Sanctuary and the British Equine Vets’ Association to protect the hard-working animals.

Melanie Fisher, who operates donkeys on Scarborough’s South Bay beach, said: “We have always stuck to our own limit of around six stone anyway, so the new guideline won’t affect us. I think eight stone is still too much when you consider the weight of the saddle too.”

Mrs Fisher said she has had to turn away overweight children in the past but has never faced an angry reaction from parents.

She said: “People are generally fine about it. We just say the child is too big to ride a donkey and ask if they would like to help us lead it along the beach instead.

“It’s all about what’s best for the donkey at the end of the day.”Are you listeni…

Secondhand crashing

Prohibiting smoking in public places does not save lives (no one has ever died from secondhand smoke), all smoking bans do is make smokers miserable. Or at least that’s what I thought, but it turns out smoking bans kill:According to a new study released, smoking bans have been linked to an increase in drunk driving accidents. It appears that since people cannot smoke in many restaurants and bars, they are now turning to drinking, and it is getting dangerous.

The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Washington and looked at data from 2000 to 2005.

They found that instead of going to a bar for a drink and a smoke, people are now more likely to go farther away to someone’s home where they can do both without any trouble.

The longer drives put them at an increased risk of accident.

The researchers found that in communities where smoking bans are in effect, there is a 12% increase in the number of drunk driving accidents.Don’t expect anti-smoking fanatics to relent merely …