Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

A fond look back at one of Troy’s many bear-suit adventures

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

This CTV news report shows Ig Nobel Prize winner Troy Hurtubise, some years ago, testing one of the many increasingly-sophisticated suits of armor he developed to protect himself against grizzly bears. In this report, Troy, wearing the suit, was strapped to the front of an automobile, and the car was then driven head-on into a brick wall. This image is from the news report. Click on it, and be transported to the CTV web site, where you can watch the report, and Troy, unfold:


Troy enjoys a huge following of admirers and prospective imitators. It’s rumored that there could some day be a television series starring Troy, in which Troy would take on all comers in a series of intriguingly dangerous situations (such as being tossed into the Bering Sea to see who could survive the longest). This rare video (below) appears to be a pilot for that TV series.

Troy has already, of course, been the star of a hit documentary film, Project Grizzly:

And Troy authored a hit book, which includes among its many delights hints of Troy’s relationships with members of the British royal family.


Orgasms in 27 Languages: “Behold, I Am Coming Soon!”

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Linguistics is a sometimes exciting discipline. Behold this newly published study:

Behold, I Am Coming Soon! A Study on the Conceptualization of Sexual Orgasm in 27 Languages,” Anita Yen Chiang and Wen-yu Chiang [pictured here], Metaphor and Symbol, vol. 31, no. 3, July-September 2016, pp. 131-147. The authors, at National Taiwan University, explain:

WenYuChiang“languages tend to conceptualize orgasm as a physiological response in the terms for orgasm; whereas more languages are inclined to conceptualize orgasm as an ideal goal in the announcements for orgasm. Depending on whether the focus is on the physiological, psychological, and ideal aspects during sex, native speakers of their various languages may conceptualize orgasm with the conceptual metaphors ORGASM IS A PEAK, ORGASM IS FIRE, ORGASM IS DEATH, ORGASM IS A DESTINATION, and ORGASM IS THE RELEASE OF FORCE/SUBSTANCE IN A CONTAINER; conceptual metonymies (i.e., EXCITEMENT FOR ORGASM, SWELLING FOR ORGASM, and HEAT FOR ORGASM); and related concepts (i.e., (FEELING OF) SATISFACTION and (FEELING OF) PLEASURE).”

Here’s are two further chunks of details from the study:



(Thanks to Dor Abrahamson for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: A performance of the song “Behold, I Am Coming Soon!”:

Sagging pants and the logic of abductive inference

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Saggy-PantsNot all that many academic studies have examined the possibilities of abductive inference with regard to sagging pants [sagging trousers (UK)]. There are exceptions though. Professor Marcia Morgado of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa has a paper in the journal Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion (Volume 2 Issue 2-3, September 2015) which:

“[…] explores the usefulness of abductive inference as a conceptual scheme and as a model for thinking about thinking.”

It’s entitled: Uncovered butts and recovered rules: Sagging pants and the logic of abductive inference.

“Peirce’s thesis on abductive inference, which addresses the logic of inferential thinking, frames an interpretive study of a text of heated public arguments that surrounded sagging during its rise as a highly transgressive and controversial subculture appearance form. On the assumption that I could do so, I consciously reconstructed the logic of my inferences, framing these on Peirce’s premise that interpretation begins with an observation (the result) and proceeds to a conclusion regarding meaning (the case) by intuiting a relationship (a hypothesized rule) between the observation and what it appears to mean. The abductions reveal that my inferences were constructed on conventional rules derived from common clichés, principles drawn from scholarly works on the social-psychology of dress, and ordinary marketplace wisdom.”

Image: A partial view of Stop The Sag – Raise Your Pants, Raise Your Image’ as provided by The New York State Senate newsroom.

Incomplete info: The case of the donkey-bitten member

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some published medical reports give incomplete information, inducing frustration in intellectually curious readers. This newly published study exemplifies the problem:

Total Phallic Reconstruction Using the Radial Artery Based Forearm Free Flap After Traumatic Penile Amputation,” Marco Falcone, MD, Giulio Garaffa, MD, PhD, FRCS(Eng), Amr Raheem, MD, Nim A. Christopher, MPhil, FRCS(Urol), and David J. Ralph, FRCS(Urol), Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 13,  2016, pp. 1119-1124. The authors, at University College London Hospitals, UK, the University of Turin, Italy, and the University of Cairo, Egypt, report:

“The causes of penile loss were self-amputation owing to an acute schizophrenic episode (n = 2), road traffic accident (n = 3), blast injury (n = 3), donkey bite (n = 1), and Fournier gangrene (n = 1).”

Here is further detail from the study:

donkey table

The study includes no further information about the donkey.

Overturned rhinoceros beetles – how do they get back on their feet? (study)

Monday, June 20th, 2016

No matter how careful a beetle might be, there’s a fair chance that, sooner or later, it’ll find itself on its back. Raising the question, how does it right itself, i.e. get onto its feet again?

For current beetle-righting research turn to volume 28, Issue 2, 2016, of the journal Ecological Psychology where researchers professor Masato Sasaki and professor Tetsushi Nonaka [respectively of the Graduate School of Education, University of Tokyo and the Graduate School of Human Development and Environment, Kobe University, Japan] describe a set of experiments designed to provide some answers.

Beetles (more specifically Japanese rhinoceros beetles, Allomyrina dichotomus) were upturned on a variety of surfaces :
1. A trench in the floor,
2. A towel,
3. A fan,
4. A pan mat,
5. A sheet of newspaper,
6. A wooden toothpick,
7. A narrow ribbon,
8. A wide ribbon,
9. A plastic string,
10. A sheet of tissue paper,
11. A T-shirt,
12. A perilla leaf,
13. A sheet of scratch paper,
14. A disposable chopstick, and
15. The lid of a film case.

– to try and determine how they’d get the right way up again. Depending on the surface, the team noted various strategies and degrees of success (or otherwise). Here is the description for the Towel trial #2 (one of the more successful trials, as shown above).

“When the insect was turned upside down, a towel was slid on the floor to the left side of the beetle’s head. As the towel approached, the beetle oriented its head to it immediately and the two hind legs started to move in-phase, which resulted in the locomotion by pushing with the hind legs. The approach of a towel slipping over the wooden substrate surface may have shaded the part of optic array surrounding the beetle, or changed the air flow that could be sensed by its antennae, which seems to have induced the prospective extension of the leg on that side. Shortly after, the left foreleg came close to the towel and briefly touched it, and the left foreleg got entangled with the towel. Using this leg as a pivot point, the beetle pulled the whole body in such a way to roll. Subsequently, the tips of the right middle and hind legs also grasped the towel and the insect succeeded in righting itself. The leg of the insect was observed to release the cloth, which had been tangled tightly. However, how this was made possible is unclear. Duration: 3 s.”

See: The Reciprocity of Environment and Action in Self-Righting Beetles: The Textures of the Ground and an Object, and the Claws

The team came to various conclusions [for details see the full paper,  linked above] not least that :

“It is not improbable that various meanings of the habitat of an animal are embodied and embedded in the tips of the body-like claws.”

Note: After the experiments, the beetles were released back into the wild, where several promptly fell over again – but managed to quickly right themselves.

“This observation suggested that, in their natural habitat, it is not so difficult for beetles to right themselves after having been turned upside down.”

Also see: Geometry and self-righting of turtles and A Review of Self-Righting Techniques for Terrestrial Animals