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Friday, July 25, 2014

Respected Science Magazine Cites The Onion's Groundbreaking Research

News organizations treating The Onion's satire as reality is nothing new, but there's an especially tragic quality to the error when the dupe is one of the oldest science magazines in the country.

Mean kids from Children Of The Corn IV
I posted this article from Discover, based on this legitimate study from neuroscientist Simone Shamay-Tsoory, as part of a set of links a couple of weeks ago: Even toddlers experience schadenfreude

On Wednesday, Science News posted this piece, in which they incorporated not only the real study cited by Discover, but a 2009 article from The Onion entitled "New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths":
A study published Monday in The Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry has concluded that an estimated 98 percent of children under the age of 10 are remorseless sociopaths... 
According to renowned child psychologist Dr. Pritha Singh, author of Born Without Souls, diagnosing preadolecents as sociopaths is primarily a theoretical interest, as the disorder is considered untreatable.
"We've tried behavior modification therapies, but children actually learn from our techniques and become even more adept at manipulating others while concealing their shameless misanthropy," Singh said. "Sadly, experience has taught us there is little hope for rehabilitation."
After readers recognized the blunder, Science News scrubbed the citation, failing to note any correction had taken place. Of course, in a Google cache world, all deletions are strictly hypothetical.

via Gawker

Friday links

World’s longest dinosaur poo is 40 inches long and could fetch $10,000 at auction.

France preemptively surrenders? British inventor builds giant 'fart machine' to fire at France (video).

Amazing Balloon Sculptures from the World Balloon Convention.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include movie dance supercuts, small typos that totally change the meaning of things, an excellent photo gallery of (very) little kids and their (very) big dogs), and, because zombies also want to survive, a zombie survival guide.

France preemptively surrenders? British inventor builds giant 'fart machine' to fire at France (video)

My favorite bit: 
The machine, which Furze will house in a pair of specially constructed buttocks...

Colin Furze, a plumber and inventor from Stamford, Lincolnshire, has begun building the biggest fart machine ever, which he plans to place on top of the cliffs of Dover and aim across the Channel towards France. His hope is that the French, 21 miles away, will hear the blast.

The machine, which Furze will house in a pair of specially constructed buttocks, is a giant pulse valveless jet engine – as used in Nazi V-1 bombs during the Second World War – that creates a plume of fire to go along with its deafening roar. Furze hopes to mount the contraption on the cliffs of Dover on July 24, between 6 and 7pm.

Furze's previous homemade inventions include a pair of pneumatic 'Wolverine' claws, magnetic 'Magneto' shoes, hand-mounted 'Pyro' flame-throwers (all inspired by the X-Men films), a 50 mph baby pram, and a fire-spurting mobility scooter. All can be seen in action on his YouTube channel. In his own words, Furze has been "turning the internet up to 11 since 2006".

Male contraceptive news: just wear a polyester sling, and let the heat and the electrostatics do all the work

Hey, it's science! 

So, is birth control just a women’s issue? Men are equally involved in producing a baby, and there are a few male-centric birth control options (i.e., condoms) available. But there’s definitely room for new male contraceptives–especially ones that aren’t permanent and don’t require last-minute application. And that’s where the polyester comes in. 

No, not this kind of sling, dummy.
Apparently, simply wearing a polyester sling (I suppose you could get one that isn't polyester, and line it yourself) around the scrotum can produce sperm-free semen (azoospermia), presumably from the heat (what’s sweatier than polyester?) and the electrostatics. The sling must be worn for months before it’s effective, and it takes another couple of months, after removal, to reverse the effects.

This makes sense, if you give it any thought (which I never have) because your balls hang low for more than one reason, and one of those reasons is temperature regulation. In order for sperm to mature successfully, they need to be kept a few degrees lower than normal body temperature, so keeping them below the body is a good way to keep things cool. 

Related stuff: 

Swinging high and low: Why do the testes hang at different levels? A theory on surface area and thermoregulation 

and this:

Scrotal Asymmetry In Man And Ancient Sculpture which discusses the fact (?) that the left side generally seems to hang lower. 

Previous studies in dogs wearing polyester underpants showed that the dogs had reduced sperm count under those conditions:
"A recent study has shown that dogs, while wearing polyester underpants, had a diminished sperm count which was reversible when the pants were removed. In contrast, dogs wearing cotton pants showed insignificant semen changes.”
Here's the abstract from the paper on humans mentioned back at the beginning of this post (I don't, unfortunately, have a link to the dog paper), which, by the way, also fits into the "tax dollars at work" category, since it's from the NIH:

"Every 2 weeks, a physician at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University in Egypt examined 14 32-47 year old male volunteers wearing a polyester scrotal sling day and night for 12 months to determine if polyester fabrics can act as a contraceptive in men. 

They changed the sling only when it became dirty. None of the men dropped out of the study. The sling did not cause any complications or reactions. Their partners took an oral contraceptive until 3 sperm samples proved the men to be azoospermic. The men became azoospermic from 120-160 days (mean 139.6 days) after 1st putting on the sling. They remained azoospermic throughout the study. None of the partners became pregnant during the study. All 5 couples who wanted a pregnancy after the study period did indeed conceive. 4 had normal live births and 1 a miscarriage. The volume of their testicles fell greatly from 22.2-18.6 sd ml during the 12 months (p.05), but returned to pretest levels 75-135 days after removal. Further the mean rectal-testicular temperature difference was lower 3 months after wearing the sling than it was before they wore it (1.3-3 degrees Celsius; p.001). 3 months after they stopped wearing the sling, the mean rectal-testicular temperature difference reverted to normal. 

The polyester in the sling generated greater electrostatic potentials during the day than at night (326-395 volt/sq. cm. vs. 142-188 volt/sq. cm.; p.01). This was a result of the friction between the scrotum and the polyester sling. Germ cells of the seminiferous tubules still exhibited degenerative changes 6 months after removal of the sling. Within 140-170 days after removal, sperm concentration levels returned to pretest levels (40 million/ml). Apparently the electrostatic field effect and the disordered thermoregulatory effect of the polyester sling produced azoospermia. In conclusion, the sling is a safe, acceptable, inexpensive, and reversible method of contraception in men.”

Borat's mankini might work
 for this purpose
Somewhere in reading about this stuff I ran across this (read the whole thing), on the dangers of blogging (if you're male, that is):
When bloggers write, with laptops, seated,
Bits of them get overheated—
Sitting in their rooms, retreated
To their hidden cloisters.
If I should hear “Well done! Well done!”
I hope they mean my writing’s fun
And not some cruel and heartless pun
About my mountain oysters.
That reminded me of the Family Guy episode "Hell Comes to Quahog" (I couldn't find it on youtube), which is the episode where Superstore comes to town. It's just after Peter gets a job at Superstore :
Peter: Boy Meg, I am so looking forward to this job. 
Brian: Peter, I can't believe you're working for Superstore USA. How could you sell out like that? 
Peter: Because Brian, they have industrial sized air conditioning. And I'm tired of sitting in ball soup.
And, of course, it's impossible to touch on this subject without including Monty Python's classic Every Sperm is Sacred skit from The Meaning Of Life:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday links

Supercuts of Memorable Dance Scenes in Movies.

Small Typos That Totally Change The Meaning Of Things.

This photo gallery will make you smile: Little Kids And Their Big Dogs.

A new video zombie survival guide made by zombies for zombies, with bonus big roundup of zombie links. Also, zombies.

Hollywood’s Iconic Gone with the Wind Movie Set has been hiding in a Barn for Decades.

How long could the human race survive on only cannibalism?

Pictorial Record of North American Indian Tribes in the Early 1900s.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the history of air conditioning, how to access someone's home with a picture of their key, reviews for Amazon's listing of Tolkien's One Ring (which they say is a Lord's Prayer ring), and the world's largest aquatic insect (with an 8.3 inch wingspan) discovered in China.

A new video zombie survival guide made by zombies for zombies, with bonus roundup of zombie links

You always see survival guides showing us how to get through the zombie apocalypse, but advice for the zombies themselves is less common (although not entirely unavailable). Here at last is a short instructional video made by zombies for zombies:

Zombie Survival Guide from Bettina on Vimeo.

Related posts and links:

Death and Taxes... and Zombies: Tax implications of the zombie apocalypse and, related, Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires and the Dismal Science.

This trailer for Zombeavers makes Sharknado look realistic and well acted.

The Pentagon is dead serious about its fake zombie apocalypse plan.

Analysis: The Best and Worst States for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

The most comprehensive zombie classification chart ever.

The Real-Life Neuroscience Behind Zombies.

Zombies vs. animals? The living dead wouldn't stand a chance.

Zombified, An Interactive Behind the Scenes Look at How Zombies Are Created on The Walking Dead.

Full Length Zombie Movie Made By Physics Students At CERN: Does the Higgs Boson particle really turn people into zombies?

Undead Disney Princesses: Snow White, Ariel & Cinderella as Zombies.

'Walking corpse syndrome': mental disorder wherein people think they're zombies.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weird Al Yankovic's grammar nazi parody of "Blurred Lines" is entitled "Word Crimes", and it's a hoot

Weird Al fans, you'll appreciate this:

For comparison, here's the original video for Blurred Lines, which is pretty racy but less so than the (NSFW) explicit version here.

Monday links

History of air conditioning: invention, historical reactions, Arthur Miller column on the days before its invention, more.

Want access to someone's home? All you need to do is take a picture of their key with your phone.

Amazon Is Selling Tolkien's One Ring as a Lord's Prayer Ring with Arabic text - check out the reviews.

World's largest—and grossest—aquatic insect discovered in China.

Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires and the Dismal Science. Related: Death and Taxes... and Zombies: Tax implications of the zombie apocalypse.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, including attempts to patent the wheel, the aerodynamics of hummingbirds, contact lens version of Google Glasses, and an answer to the age-old question: Why is your brain in your head instead tucked away safe and warm down with all your other organs?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Compilation: Dogs Confused by Glass Tables

Today's entry in the "Headline Better Than Story" category: Blue tits make home inside pig's head

Prepare to be disappointed - but is that a great headline, or what?

A family of blue tits have made their nest in an unusual spot - inside the nose of a ceramic pig's head.

Married couple Andrew and Lisa Dowden have had the pig's head in their garden for over seven years and it was never intended as a nesting site.

But a pair of blue tits took a fancy to the unusual garden ornament, in Sandown, Isle of Wight, and moved in.

Read the whole thing at Quirkies.

This guy set his uncle’s house on fire because it had goblins

Mike Musiiwa of Mutadzo Village pleaded guilty to arson before Masvingo provincial magistrate Sibonginkosi Mkandla.

He was remanded in custody to today for sentence.

Musiiwa took advantage of his uncle, Alick Malendele’s absence to torch the house resulting in the destruction of property worth about $1,000.

He was spotted torching the thatched house by a fellow villager, Marita Raisi who rushed to alert Malendele.

A report was made at Renco police leading to Musiiwa’s arrest and his subsequent appearance in court. Magistrate Mkandla said Musiiwa had no right to torch his uncle’s house.

“I am a sangoma who has helped a number of people by exorcising evil spirits and destroying witches’ goblins. I went into a mountain and started counting stones, which are the tools I use in carrying my duties. One of the stones helped me identify my tormentor. My uncle had been attempting to cast a bad spell on me and other family members using goblins that I later destroyed when I set his house on fire. I knew that there was no one in the house who could be harmed.

Sangomas greeting each other
“I just wanted to destroy his goblins, which I did,” said Musiiwa showing no signs of remorse.

Fidelicy Nyamukondiwa for the state said Musiiwa took advantage of his uncle’s absence and proceeded to his homestead in the same village where upon arrival he set the house on fire.

Property destroyed included blankets, a 12 volts battery, 50 kg of compound D fertilizer, two wooden doors, 50 kg of wheat, 20 kg of mealie-meal, 40 kg of sorghum, two home theatre speakers, two bibles, seven birth certificates, two monarch bags with various clothing and $412.

Musiiwa had an altercation with Malendele, 40, over the same issue sometime between 2012 and 2013. Chronicle

Amazon Is Selling the One Ring as a Lord's Prayer Ring with Arabic text - check out the reviews

Tolkien fans, check out this listing, which describes this ring as being inscribed with the Lord's Prayer in Arabic. It's not Arabic, of course, but Elvish.

The customer reviews seem to indicate that it is most likely the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings - I've copied a few below but you can see them all here.
Totally awesome, but minor flaw
By Edward Martin III on February 15, 2014
I like that this ring makes me invisible, because finally I can just walk around wearing nothing but sunbeams and frustration.
But on the downside, I've been moody and irritable and murderous lately.
Exactly what I wanted
By Beth Belch on February 15, 2014
Lovely ring. Well made. I'm only giving it a 4, because it is a little uncomfortable. But my plans for world domination are now coming along quite nicely. The included power to command the wraiths has been very convenient.
Not what I expected
By Blue on February 14, 2014
I bought this as a prayer ring for reciting the Lord's Prayer before bed, as you do. But when I put it on and read the words out loud, I found myself standing at the food of a large tower, staring up at a flaming eye. God doesn't look like I thought He would. I'm still giving this three stars though, because the script is pretty.
A great birthday present! 
By NBSteve on February 15, 2014
I bought this ring for my husband and they had it in just his size. I thought he'd love the writing on it, but the writing was very hard to see. When it arrived, on my birthday none-the-less, it looked a bit small, so I tried it on and discovered it fit me perfectly! Well, that meant it would never fit him, so I decided to return it... but because it was a Sunday, I had to wait a day. Well, I'm glad for the delay because I decided to try it on again the next day and I've been wearing it ever since! I love it, and it came to me after all, so why shouldn't I keep it? It's very precious to me.

via Neatorama