Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Thesis: “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” in Stockholm

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

A tidy stream of scholarship emerges from this 2017 thesis:

Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow: Urin i konsten: om tolkning som händelse,” Jens Martin Svendsen, thesis, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School, Marketing, Stockholm University, 2017.

The author writes: “Don’t eat the yellow snow—Urine in art: events of interpretationUrine seams to evoke feelings. Through four different lenses, this bachelor’s thesis examines urine in four different works of art. The works of art are Three Grazes by Sally Mann, Manneken Pis by Hieronymus Duquesnoy the younger, Fideicommissumby Ann-Sofie Sidén and Bad Bad Boy by Tommi Toija, all of which in some way contains urine as part of their motif. The four perspectives are The body as abject, The body as observed, The body as communication and The body as phenomenon. The thesis reaches the conclusion that urine must be regarded as part of a syntagm and this syntagm is interpreted in the light of a culturally conditioned resonance, part of a make-believe culture that can and, as it were, also interpret water as urine. To interpret water as urine depends on where the water is pouring from in an overall body syntagm.Furthermore, depending on what gender the body is interpreted as (male or female) the urine will carry different value connotations.”

BONUS FACT: We put a version of this item on our Facebook page. Facebook almost immediately banned it.

Video of a historic attempt to reproduce wombat, quasi-cubic poo

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

This historic (2998) video by Robyn Lawrence documents an attempt to understand and reproduce the forces and constraints that allow or induce wombats to produce somewhat cubic excrement. (Thanks to Pat Kight for bringing it to our attention.)

Currently, Patricia Yang [pictured here], a graduate student at Georgia Tech, who shared the 2015 Ig Nobel Physics Prize, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds)—is working on the same general question.


Why Do Do Dogs Eat Poo?

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

“Why Do Do Dogs Eat Poo?” is a question that sets John Burns, BVMS, MRCVS, alight with intention to correct what he perceives is a widespread misunderstanding. Burns has now published a tiny, yet in a subtle way fiery, essay to try to correct that misunderstanding. That essay is:

Why Do Dogs Eat Poo?” John Burns, Veterinary Record, vol. 182, no. 8, February 2018, p. 234. The author, at Burns Pet Nutrition, Kidwelly, UK, explains:

“Far from being a harmless hangover from the dog’s ancestry as postulated by [previous] authors, or simply a bad habit, I suggest that coprophagy is a depraved appetite and that it is an indication of a low-grade health problem, probably of the digestive system…. In my experience, pet owners almost always overfeed and are reluctant to reduce feeding amounts. If they do comply, there is an excellent chance that in a very short time the dog will lose interest in eating feces or any non-food material.”

BONUS [distantly related]: The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition was awarded to Wasmia Al-Houty of Kuwait University and Faten Al-Mussalam of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, for showing that dung beetles are finicky eaters. That work is documented in the study “Dung Preference of the Dung Beetle Scarabaeus cristatus Fab (Coleoptera-Scarabaeidae) from Kuwait,” Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Musalam, Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 35, no. 3, 1997, pp. 511-6.

Macaques Form Preferences for Brand Logos Through Sex and Advertising [research study]

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

A further advance in understanding the value of butt recognition:

Rhesus Macaques Form Preferences for Brand Logos Through Sex and Social Status Based Advertising,” M. Yavuz Acikalin, Karli K. Watson, Gavan J. Fitzsimons, and Michael L. Platt, PloS ONE, vol. 13, no. 2, 2018, e0193055. (Thanks to David Austin for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Stanford University, Stanford, the University of Colorado Boulder, Duke University, and the University of Pennsylvania, report:

“we asked whether rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) show choice behavior that is similar to humans in response to sex and social status in advertising. Our results show that monkeys form preferences for brand logos repeatedly paired with images of macaque genitals and high status monkeys.”

This new study fails to mention the Ig Nobel Prize-winning research that made it possible. The 2012 Ig Nobel Prize for anatomy was awarded to Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny, for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends. They describe their findings in the study “Faces and Behinds: Chimpanzee Sex Perception” [Frans B.M. de Waal and Jennifer J. Pokorny, Advanced Science Letters, vol. 1, 99–103, 2008].


Fracking and Sexually Transmitted Disease [public health study]

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Of all the criticisms aimed at fracking, charges that it might increase the incidence of STDs – specifically gonorrhea – are seldom heard.

Yet there might be a link – according to a new research paper published in the Journal of Public Health Policy.

“We analyzed one potential cost to communities, the effect of fracking activity on public health, STDs in particular. We use a quasi-natural experiment within the Marcellus shale region plus panel data estimation techniques to quantify the impact of fracking activity on local gonorrhea incidences. We find that fracking activity is associated with a 20 per cent increase in gonorrhea.”

See: Fracking and public health: Evidence from gonorrhea incidence in the Marcellus Shale region Journal of Public Health Policy, November 2017, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 464–481