Archive for 'Arts and science'

Tips for persons applying for a job with Indian Railways

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

The RDSO — the Indian Railways’ Research Development and Standards Organization — offers tips for persons who will be taking their job application tests. These tips, offered by RDSO’s Psycho Technical Directorate, include two that may be obvious to some applicants:

  • If you wear glasses or a hearing aid, be sure to take them with you.

  • Do not try to copy the answers of your neighbor as his question booklet may be different from you.

The Psycho Technical Directorate has a logo that may intrigue art historians:


Conscientiousness with Fellatio as a Mate-Retention Activity

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Conscientiousness and aggreeableness are key to whether women are able to keep up a relationship with a mate, if fellatio is involved, suggests this new study:

selaWomen’s mate retention behaviors, personality traits, and fellatio,” Yael Sela [pictured here, above], Todd K. Shackelford [pictured here, below], Michael N. Pham, Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 85, October 2015, pp. 187–191. The authors, at Oakland University, Rochester, Minnesota, in report:

“Women perform oral sex on their male partner (i.e., fellatio) as part of a Benefit-Provisioning mate retention strategy, and women’s personality predicts their interest in, and time spent, performing fellatio. We explored whether women’s mate retention behavior mediates the relationship between their personality traits and their performance of fellatio in a long-term romantic relationship.shackleford Women (n = 401) reported their personality traits, the frequency with which they performed mate retention behaviors during the past month, and their interest in and the time they spent performing fellatio on their partner during their most recent sexual encounter. The results indicate that women higher in Conscientiousness spend more time performing fellatio on their partner, and this relationship is mediated by their Benefit-Provisioning mate retention. Women higher in Agreeableness report greater interest in performing fellatio on their partner…. The current research is the first to investigate the relationship between women’s personality traits and oral sex behaviors…”

Here’s further, graphic detail from the study:


42 (in an accountingisation context)

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Prof-DumayWhat are the meaning(s) and context(s) of intellectual capital (IC) numbers? Specifically the number 42? The number which, as those familiar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will know, was the (eventual) answer given by the gargantuan computer Deep Thought in response to “The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”.

John Dumay PhD (Economics) Sydney, EMBA AGSM, MA (Bus. Research) MGSM, GC (Higher Ed.) Sydney, CPA, who is Associate Professor in Accounting at Macquarie University, Australia, chose the number in order to examine what he calls the “Accountingisation” of intellectual capital. His paper, succinctly and precisely entitled “42” is published in the journal SAGE Open, January-March 2015.

Bonus amusement. How many other standard English words can you think of which have a double ‘h’ as in Hitchhiker?

“The more we learn, the less we understand”

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

“The more we learn, the less we understand,” says geneticist Steve Jones about genes and genetics, in this Lost Lecture:

David Dobbs pursues this theme in the essay “Weighing The Promises Of Big Genomics“, in Buzzfeed:

…“Many genes of small effect” became a sort of tepid curse. I myself prefer the stronger, more memorable phrase “Many Assorted Genes of Tiny Significance,” or MAGOTS — a mass of barely significant genes explaining little.

MAGOTS infest most GWA studies for a simple, brutal reason: If a gene variant reliably plays a large role in causing disease, both the variant and the disease it causes tend to be rare, because its carriers tend to die without leaving offspring. This is why the genetic contributions for common diseases and conditions usually come from MAGOTS — the effects of which, it bears repeating, are usually maddeningly obscure and unpredictable. This applies even to diseases and traits that run in families. Take height: Hundreds of genes of small effect, few clues to how they contribute, and no real target to tweak if, say, you want to make someone tall. The best way to engineer a tall person? Tell two tall people to tango.

Similarly, deep digs at cancer, schizophrenia, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, intelligence, bipolar disorder, and height have found mostly MAGOTS….

So let me offer a hype filter. This one comes courtesy of the oceanographer Henry Bryant Bigelow, who helped found Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. A century ago, Bigelow opened a letter his brother had written him from Cuba. His brother reported that while weathering a hurricane there, he had seen, flying by, what he was almost sure was a donkey.

With three words, Bigelow gently told his brother he didn’t quite believe him — and stated a maxim for maintaining the ever-curious but ever-skeptical stance that marks the good scientist.

“Interesting if true,” he wrote.

In a pro basketball game, when is a lead safe?

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

In a pro basketball game, when is a lead safe? This analysis

Safe Leads and Lead Changes in Competitive Team Sports,” Aaron Clauset [pictured here], M. Kogan, and S. Redner, arXiv:1503.03509v1 [stat.AP] 11 Mar 2015. (Thanks to Marcos Carreira for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Colorado, the Santa Fe Institute, and Boston University, report:

clauset“We investigate the time evolution of lead changes within individual games of competitive team sports. Exploiting ideas from the theory of random walks, the number of lead changes within a single game follows a Gaussian distribution. We show that the probability that the last lead change and the time of the largest lead size are governed by the same arcsine law, a bimodal distribution that diverges at the start and at the end of the game. We also determine the probability that a given lead is “safe” as a function of its size L and game time t. Our predictions generally agree with comprehensive data on more than 1.25 million scoring events in roughly 40,000 games across four professional or semi-professional team sports, and are more accurate than popular heuristics currently used in sports analytics….

The kicker is in their conclusion:

Cynically, our results suggest that one should watch only the first few and last few minutes of a professional basketball game; the rest of the game is as predictable as watching repeated coin tossings. On the other hand, the high degree of unpredictability of events in the middle of a game may be precisely what makes these games so exciting for sports fans.”

Here’s further detail from the paper:


The paper also explores the same question as it plays out in other sports — American college football, American pro football, and professional hockey — where the answer is not so dismaying.