Cleaning hotel rooms is a strenuous business. However, when Alia Crum and Ellen Langer talked to 84 maids, most were under the impression that they did not get enough exercise. Furthermore, when they were measured for tests such as BMI and blood pressure, their results were typical of couch potatoes. The researchers let half the group in on the knowledge that they were getting more than enough of a daily workout and kept the rest in the dark. After a month results showed the former group were healthier on every single one of the objective health measurements tested - despite claiming to have been doing no more exercise or to have changed their diet. The study raises the possibility that mindset alone can influence our metabolism. Christopher Shea in the New York Times and Ben Goldacre in The Guardian have articles discussing the original paper.
"Women and children, first," is a familiar cultural refrain, with its popular roots in the gallant sacrifice made by the male contingent aboard the doomed Titanic. Their sacrifice has inspired poetry, sculpture, male social clubs, and, of course, cinema. Yet, this sacrifice of near-mythic scale was in some respects a myth, with survival statistics skewing well in favor of men of higher social and economic class than children (and, to a lesser extent, women) of lower status.
'Cinematic maps' of American elections a project from the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond [more inside]
Oliver Reed. Movie star or hellraiser? Actor or alcoholic? But it was probably not as simple as that... The Real Oliver Reed (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) (Poss. NSFW Brief nudity) [more inside]
Having always found the process of setting up a guitar slightly intimidating, I am so glad that there's now a robot that can do it for me. Plek is a German-designed system for mechanically adjusting the setup of your guitar. Short video here. I wonder what happens when the robot guitar tech meets the robot guitar?
Amazing Olympics recap photos [slightly NSFW, due to an accidental bare ass or exposed boob] [more inside]
A Sydney Morning Herald article about the teaching of philosophy in Australian high schools. Today, this article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. Finally I might be able to get a job with my philosophy major! [more inside]
Whether Einstein's "spooky science" or quantum weirdness, the Geneva tests that show entangled photons traveling at 10,000 times the speed of light are stirring up challenges and "Alice in Wonderland" discussions about "subatomic particles communicating nearly instantaneously at a distance." [more inside]
lol-qats, a Pakistani-English blogger (author of the amusing Islamicist) pokes gentle fun at the coca-leaf like addiction to Qat (alternate spelling, Khat), which is common in Yemen and several East African countries. [more inside]
Are you savvy metaboffs?
The BBC has a new sketch show, called Wrong Door. It's very heavy on CGI - indeed, the official blurb calls it 'a parallel world where the effects you see in TV and movies are real'. And it's funny - check out the trailers on YouTube. And it has Brian Blessed and a spaceship shaped like a giant silver cock and balls. Really, what's not to love? But the best bit isn't in the show, [more inside]
That young British tourists vacationing in Europe, especially (but not exclusively) in southern Europe during the summer months, often have a nasty reputation for disorderly displays of public drunkenness , lewdness and hooliganism is not exactly news (see here, here, and--for a somewhat related old mefi thread--here), but lately the situation may be getting worse (see here, here, and here). But should the British be singled out? Some say yes.
Isfahan's Ancient Pigeon Towers were fabulously intricate works of architecture meticulously designed for the manufacture of pigeon guano. [more inside]
Two 20th century additions to the comparatively small body of concertos for double bass and orchestra: Einojuhani Rautavaara's Angel Of Dusk (II, III), from 1980, and the 1948 concerto of Eduard Tubin (II, III). Those are courtesy of YouTube, but if you're not sated you can hear still more from bassist Phillip Serna, and a great deal more, from the fine Contrabass Conversations podcast.
Awww-Filter: Tattooed bikers, puppies, and tiny kittens. What's not to love? The New York Times goes for a ride-along with Rescue Ink, complete with awww-inducing slideshow. [more inside]
The circumnavigators are out there. In February, Mike Beaumont completed the fastest circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle. Tomorrow, Rosie Swale, age 62, finishes her 4 1/2 year run around the world. As posted previously, Zac Sunderland is now attempting to break the record for the youngest sailing circumnavigation of the planet, now held by Jesse Martin.
Is it time to redefine death? In a recent article in the NEJM, a team of doctors described decreasing the period after cessation of heart function in order to collect donations and increase their viability. This has spiked some debate over the definition of brain death and the "irreversibility" of asystole after removing life support. An introduction to the situation and the arguments. An interesting round table discussion, chaired by Atul Gawande. "The ethically relevant precondition is valid consent...with such consent, there is no harm or wrong done in retrieving vital organs before death, provided that anesthesia is administered." "This means that under current law, it is not possible to procure a transplantable heart after cardiac death. There are two possible ways out of this dilemma. Both involve legal changes." "To what extent should society permit manipulation of an organ donor or alteration of the determination of human death for the good of organ recipients?" Previously [more inside]
Mathematicians create videos that help in visualizing four-dimensional objects. Science News writes about it: seeing in four dimensions.
Radar Magazine Online's Worst Colleges in America including honors for The Most Degenerate Student Body, the Biggest Rip-off, and Most Intolerant.
Not just for religious pharmacists anymore: the Department of Health and Human Services proposes a rule that protects anyone who refuses to provide medical services on moral or religious grounds. [more inside]
On March 9th, 1987, Wesley MacDonald was a Canadian National Railway engineer. His job for the day was to switch some loaded ore cars at the Brunswick Mine. Due to a communications foulup, he took a terrifying 20 minute ride on a runaway train. There's audio of the incident from start to finish. Transcript of the tape. Photos of the Aftermath More. [more inside]
The Economist issues a glowing report on efforts made by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman in Africa to become a democratically elected head of state, at the halfway mark through her presidency of Liberia. Already considered 'my hero' among the young, her determination, her resolve and her unstinting efforts to bring peace and economic development to her nation are an unexpectedly welcome counterpoint to the usual 'war, famine, disease, corruption' stories that tend to emerge from her continent.
Is the iPhone the future of comics? Artist P J Holden demonstrates the interface for Murderdrome, which uses the rather slick new Comic Reader from Blue Pilot Software, and discusses the iPhone as comics platform. Also: Manga on the iPhone, How to read .CBR files on your iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch emulator for comic creators.
Perhaps you think you've had your fill of photographs of decaying architecture and abandoned buildings. If so, the rich color and play of light in Michael Eastman's beautiful body of work from Cuba, Europe, and the U.S. may change your mind. His site is flash - for non-flash folks, the Duane Reed Gallery has additional works, including his B&W portfolios on horses, landscapes, and succulents. (no relation to the Kodak family; via BB-Blog)
Forbes Magazine has compiled a ranking of the top 569 undergraduate institutions in America. Designed to compete with the venerable U.S. News and World Report rankings, Forbes offers a different methodology and some controversial results. [more inside]
Sex at the Olympics. "I am often asked if the Olympic village . . . is the sex-fest it is cracked up to be. My answer is always the same: too right it is." Table tennis Olympian Matthew Syed dishes the dirt. (possibly NSFW, TimesOnline).
NASCAR as little as they like it, has it's roots in Moonshine. Junior Johnson, one of the early heroes who is considered the greatest to never win a championship, has even gone legal with it after getting his start running Moonshine for his father. He was even the subject of a 1965 Tom Wolfe Essay as the Last American Hero. The latest cheating scandal to hit NASCAR? Junior just says they were doing their job, being creative, and just got caught.
Mayan Ruins Filter: Possible Portal to the Underworld found in Mexico. Included in the underwater tunnels (video) are two underground temples and human bones - possibly the remains of human sacrifices. [more inside]
Joel Stein on a new scoring system to improve the Olympic Games.
"Get me a robot arm that looks like the Terminator." Slidell, LA boy recounts fight with 'Godzilla' gator [more inside]
Live from Daryl's House A monthly webcast wherein Daryl Hall invites musical friends and colleagues to play with him at his home and on the road. The current episode features Montreal-based electrofunk band Chromeo. Free signup required to view previous episodes: (1) Daryl Hall (2) Daryl Hall and John Oates (3) Daryl on a Wurlitzer (4) Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes (5) KT Tunstall (6) Daryl and T Bone Burnett in Austin (7) Chuck Prophet and Mutlu (8) Daryl, T Bone and Nick Lowe in London (9) Monte Montgomery
"Drawing Power", by Bob Thompson of the Washington Post. "What I want to know is: How did this formerly ghettoized medium [graphic novels] became one of the rare publishing categories that's actually expanding these days?"(single page)
More than seventy civilians killed in a US attack in afghanistan. Including many women and children. Last month, the US forces put an end to a wedding, and killed 47 persons. Figures are disputed, but Hamid Karzai asks for the Nato strikes to stop. A few days ago, French soldiers suffered from the strikes that were supposed to help them. How is it covered in the US ? I just checked CNN, and there is a small article about this incident. Foxnews page for Afghanistan : I guess it's self-explanatory.
What happens when we leave behind cosmetics and societal norms to modify our bodies and minds to enhance who we are and what we can do? In this talk, journalist Quinn Norton explores how technology and flesh are coming together.
VP newsfilter (because someone’s got to do it) The Times just confirmed that the Obama Campaign has chosen Delaware’s 65-year-old Senator Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee’s Vice Presidential running mate. With decades of foreign policy experience (including a recent stint in war-torn Georgia), and as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, can Biden help pull the ticket out of a neck and neck tie with Senator John McCain [more inside]
Tribalcog is the travel photography site of Beren Patterson. Includes simple and easy to use tutorials and his collection of travel pictures that are integrated as a digital postcard system.
His is the most vigorously defended copyright in history, the reason behind the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. But Mickey Mouse may already be in the public domain. (Via)
Lancet reports say partial face transplants are a reality. Face transplant before and after pictures here.
Beijing Olympics Stadium, about 30 minutes before the the men's 100m final. A 360-degree view (including overhead) from the stands by Finnish photographer Kari Kuukka.
What to Expect When You're Aborting: I'm 23. I'm knocked up. And I don't want to keep it. You can fuck yourself, Judd Apatow.