Archive for 'Arts and science'

New book (and show!) by the Ig Nobel randomness reseachers

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

The Italian researchers who analyzed how the Peter Principle plays out, and who as a side-effect of that were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize, have a new book about their experiences. The book is called Abbiamo vinto l’Ig Nobel con il principio di Peter [“We won the Ig Nobel with the Peter Principle”], by Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda , and Cesare Garofalo, published by Malcor D’.

We will all celebrate the new book in a special show at the University of Catania, on Thursday, April 6. The show features: Marc Abrahams and Ig Nobel Prize winners Marina de Tommaso (measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam), Elizabeth Oberzaucher (mathematical analysis of the man who fathered 888 children), and of course Cesare Garofalo, Alessandro Pluchino, and Andrea Rapisarda (organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random).

The show is a featured part of the Ig Nobel Spring EuroTour.

Eyewitness account of the Ig Nobel show in Graz

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Norbert Swoboda reports about the Ig Nobel show at the University of Graz. His report, in Kleine Zeitung, begins:


From sex, ducks and alcohol

Premiere in Austria: At the University of Graz, three Ig Nobel Prize winners took part in the sold out hall on Wednesday evening.

This was part of the Ig Nobel spring Eurotour. The tour continues next week with shows in Italy and The Netherlands.

BONUS: The University of Graz prepared a highlights video from the evening.

Facts and Truth in Science and Everywhere Else

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

ORF radio, in Austria, interviewed me about fact and truth, a couple hours before I gave a 15-minute keynote talk about that on an ORF TV program:

Ig-Nobel: Facts and Truth in Science — “Fake News” is a term that is currently under discussion – so also last night at an event in the Radiokulturhaus. Marc Abrahams, the inventor of the Ig Nobel Prizes, was also present. Thus, scientific achievements are annually awarded which sound absurd, but are scientifically correct. What you can learn from science: never stop asking questions.
Design: Isabella Ferenci
With: Marc Abrahams, inventor of the Ig Nobel Prizes

You can listen to an edited version of the radio interview, in mixed English and German.

Hells Angels Trademark Law Fetishism Investigation

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Trademark law, the Hells Angels motorcycle club, and fetishism rendezvous in a single academic study:

Hells Angels™ Motorcycle Corporation in the Fashion Business: Interrogating the Fetishism of the Trademark Law,” Tereza Kuldova, Journal of Design History, epub 2016.  The author, at the University of Oslo, explains:

“This article investigates the social function and underlying logic of trademark law by using the unique and unconventional example of self-proclaimed ‘outlaws’, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, and their paradoxical utilization of the IPR law for the protection of their reputation and ‘goodwill’ in both legal and illegal markets. Hells Angels worldwide are passionate about legally protecting their club designs, logos and insignia, as well as logos and designs relating to their legal fashion and accessories businesses with support merchandise. Analysing the example of the Hells Angels and their relationship to their club insignia, it is revealed that the trademarked logos clearly function as fetishes in the anthropological sense. Consequently, it is argued that the trademark law protects precisely this power of the fetish over people, rather than being a mere protection against ‘consumer confusion’ or a mark of ‘origin’. Hence, it is argued that trademark law operates on principles of magic as identified by J.G. Frazer and thus belongs to a magico-legal realm rather than a realm of purely rational law as the legal discipline would like to argue. The power of designed logos is at the crux of the argument.”

Here is a copy of a legal notice the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has affixed to the bottom of its web site:


(Thanks to Oliver Lehman for bringing this to our attention.)

The Librarian is No Longer a Loveless Frump, Data Suggest

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Librarians of today may benefit from this re-analysis of old data:

Loveless Frump as Hip and Sexy Party Girl: A Reevaluation of the Old-Maid Stereotype,” Katherine C. Adams, The Library Quarterly, Volume 70, Number 3 | Jul., 2000.

“As computer technology prompts educators and practitioners within Library and Information Science (LIS) to redefine their profession, the old-maid stereotype has yet again become a topic of debate. Previous analyses of the old-maid stereotype have failed to expose how stereotypes work to create meaning at both the point of production and consumption. Without such an understanding, attempts at overcoming the stereotype by willing it away, renaming, or ignoring it will remain futile. Recent poststructural theories, though, allow librarians to understand both the durability and inherent discursive weaknesses in the stereotype and, hence, provide the basis of a more informed strategy for overcoming it. Moreover, the shriveled-prune representation may be part of the fun of being a librarian. This stereotype allows knowledge workers and information managers the opportunity to retain a distinct identity as librarians.”

BONUS: “A Whole New World of Freaks and Geeks: Libraries and Librarians on YouTube

BONUS: “The Use of Psychological Defense Mechanisms – By Librarians and the Public – in Response to Traditional and Binary Librarian Stereotypes