Showing posts from September, 2015

Sexting: Over 80% of us do it.

How common is sexting? Over 80 percent of survey respondents report sexting within past year
"Sexting associated with greater sexual satisfaction."
The practice of sexting may be more common than generally thought among adults. More than eight out of 10 people surveyed online admitted to sexting in the prior year, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association's 123rd Annual Convention.

"Given the possible implications, both positive and negative, for sexual health, it is important to continue investigating the role sexting plays in current romantic and sexual relationships," said Emily Stasko, MS, MPH, of Drexel University, who presented the research.

Stasko and her co-author, Pamela Geller, PhD, associate professor of psychology, ob/gyn and public health at Drexel University, surveyed 870 participants from the United States age 18 to 82 to assess sexting behaviors, sexting motives, and relationship and sexual satisfaction. Just over ha…

World War I: Fusion of man and machine

World War I changed how armies fight.  Going in, it was men on horses.  Coming out, it was men in tanks.  Going in, it was massed waves of men, often on horseback, charging fortified positions, coming out it was men following tanks that overwhelmed fortified positions.  

In August 1914, the few aircraft in the skies were spotters and reconnaissance, coming out, large bombers were attacking positions in the rear as well as London.

Out of this came both the technologies and the strategies and tactics that established the way armies fought in World War II and the way our armies fight today.

Here's the report, with a link to the original article in the attribution.
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The First World War: Fusion of man and machine
The First World War is widely regarded as having sparked technological innovations. The relationship man -- machine changed drastically. Two PhD students from the Mercator Research Group "Spaces of Anthropological Knowledge" have researched in what way those …

The 2015 25th 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prizes (with geographical annotation)

Whoo, boy.  Some really groovy, gnarly, bitchin' research was honored last week at what is becoming the penultimate red carpet event in the wonderful world of science.  The 25th 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prizes were announced on the 17th with much fanfare and hoopla.

Nothing as funny as in the 24th 1st Annual Ig Nobels.  It's hard to top stuffing salted pork up your nose to stop bleeding - which is why you now see professional boxers with containers of salted pork in their corners during matches.

Now then, because most Americans barely know U.S. geography (other than a few 4th grade nerds who knew all 48 state capitals back in the fifties), we try to explain where all of the various geographical locations are to be found referenced to the few places that the typical American knows the location of in terms we hope they will sort of comprehend.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE — Callum Ormonde and Colin Raston of Australia, an island continent (it's still being argued which it is) and Tom Yuan, S…

Violence associated with sense of powerlessness

There are so many causes of violence - drugs, alcohol, and access to firearms chief among them - that call attention away from another major cause: a sense of powerlessness to effect one's own situation in life.
As other research shows, people have a need for status.  If a person can't achieve a feeling of status one way - through school or job - then where can he or she find status?  Unfortunately, for many their quest for personal status and respect is through gang activity, crime and violence. If anyone feels denied more traditional avenues, they will take the only road they feel is open to them.
What does this have to do with a writer?  Understanding human needs and motivation is bread and butter to the author or screenwriter.  Having an empathetic feel for what motivates a character, even the most evil and violent, adds depth to a characterization, a deeper believability.
Here's the report, as always with a link to the full study in the attribution. *  *  *  *  *
Violence …

How immigrants become Americans

Immigration is a political hot-button in the upcoming US Presidential election - and while this is primarily illegal immigration that upsets so many, legal immigration is in the news as thousands of Syrians and others flee war zones in search of a safe home.

This brings up the question of how do immigrants assimilate into their new society, especially the US society?  There are many myths and assumptions about this process of becoming an American, so a study that breaks down what happens as the first, second, and third generations come to fit in and become citizens.

Here's the report with a link to the full report in the attribution:
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Immigrants come to resemble native-born Americans  over time, but integration not always link
"The U.S. has a long history of accepting people from across the globe,  and successful integration of immigrants and their children  contributes to our economic vitality and a vibrant, ever-changing culture."
As immigrants and their descenda…

The Science of Perception and Film Continuity

One of the most important jobs in movie and television production is Continuity, making sure that the actors and sets appear exactly the same from scene to scene.  This job requires someone who is detail oriented in the extreme, very meticulous in approach, with a good visual memory.
And yet some amazingly distracting continuity flubs slip through.  Harry Potter's T-shirt abruptly changing from a crew neck to a Henley shirt in 'The Order of the Phoenix,' or how in 'Pretty Woman,' Julia Roberts' croissant morphs into a pancake.  Did you catch these continuity errors?  Probably not – until they were pointed out to you.
An example that nearly ruined a classic movie for me occurs in the classic flick Casablanca.  I must have watched the movie twenty times before I caught it, and once I did, I haven’t been able to watch the movie without thinking, “it’s coming up.  Wait for it.  It’s almost here.  There.  There’s the blunder.  How could anyone miss that?” 
Did anyon…

Inside the minds of murderers

Inside the minds of murderers: Impulsive murderers much more mentally impaired than those who kill strategically
The minds of murderers who kill impulsively, often out of rage, and those who carefully carry out premeditated crimes differ markedly both psychologically and intellectually, according to a new study.

The minds of murderers who kill impulsively, often out of rage, and those who carefully carry out premeditated crimes differ markedly both psychologically and intellectually, according to a study by Northwestern Medicine® researcher Robert Hanlon.

"Impulsive murderers were much more mentally impaired, particularly cognitively impaired, in terms of both their intelligence and other cognitive functions," said Hanlon, senior author of the study and associate professor of clinical psychiatry and clinical neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"The predatory and premeditated murderers did not typically show any major intellectual or cognitiv…

Writing history with DNA

It's often said that the history we know was written by the winners with the losers lost to history and memory.

Until the age of DNA analysis, that is.

DNA retains a record of historic events, and the collective DNA of a population can be used to trace historic movements of entire populations or invasions by outside groups. Using DNA allows us to trace historic movements of peoples in pre-history, such as recent research that shows that an unknown somewhat mysterious population invented agriculture, or that agriculture spread in a leap-frogging movement along coasts, or that some tribes in Scandinavia actively resisted the expansion of agriculture into their lands.

As the map above shows, DNA analysis shows how various populations moved around Europe during pre-history, tracking winners and losers alike.

I'm intrigued by the idea of being able to analyse a person's or a family's history as shown by their DNA, tracking back thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years, c…

Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal and our freedom of choice

The question is, if Caitlyn Jenner can choose her sex, can Rachel Dolezal choose her race?

In cases like Jenner or Dolezal, does it come down to the freedom change what is genetically imbued to meet personal choice, personal preference, of self-identification?  

How much can each of us change ourselves by psychotherapy or plastic surgery or exercise or diet?  Is there a limit to what we can change about ourselves?  And how?  . . .before it becomes an issue to those around us or to or society as a whole.

If we believe in absolute personal freedom - as long as we don't yell fire in a movie theater - are there or should there be other limits?  Who gets to set the limits?  Is it a politically controlled, majority rules decision?  Or does it fall within the choice of the individual?

Getting back to the cases in point, if one can choose her sex, can the other choose her race?

Sounds like a topic a writer should explore.
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A 'trans-moment': The case of Jenner and Dolezal

Too many candidates leads to poor voter decision making

The 2016 Presidential race is in full swing, with the news cycle currently dominated by a slate of seventeen seemingly qualified candidates for the Republican nomination.  The assumed wisdom is that competition is good, leading to the eventual emergence of the best candidate.

But is it?  This study out of Michigan State University suggests otherwise, that too many candidates is as bad as too few - according to their application of the theories of evolution of decision-making strategies.

As many have noted, it's very hard for an individual candidate in this pack to make himself or herself heard over the din of attack and counter-attack between the current leader and the pack.

As yesterday's post pointed out, it appears that when faced with a multitude of options, the human brain becomes like a quantum computer with all possibilities in play until a decision is made.  But seventeen choices?  Or sixteen? Or fifteen.  What effect does this have on decision making?  And will it allow …