Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

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

Chris Christie’s “Analysis of the Indexical Values of Swearwords”

Friday, January 12th, 2018

To study how people deploy swear words, there are always more depths to be plumbed. This study plumbs:

The Relevance of Taboo Language: An Analysis of the Indexical Values of Swearwords,” Christine Christie, Journal of Pragmatics, vol. 58, 2013, pp. 152-169. The author explains:

“The assumption that the use of a particular word or linguistic resource can produce (im)politeness effects in some contexts, but not in all, is uncontroversial. For example, scholarship that addresses swearing as (im)politeness behaviour has repeatedly shown that, as a resource, taboo language can be used to generate a number of communicative effects in different contexts…. There are many questions about the indexing potential of strong swearwords, and how it relates to the location of different metadiscourses of swearing that have yet to be addressed.”

Further findings from rectums: A look back at what was in behinds

Friday, December 29th, 2017

Barry Petchevsky performed his annual data-gathering exercise “What Did We Get Stuck In Our Rectums Last Year?” in Deadspin:

All reports are taken from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s database of emergency room visits, and they are occasionally not for the faint of spirit….








Petchevsky’s prodigious mining operation is in the tradition of the medical study that won the 1995 Ig Nobel Literature Prize. That prize was awarded to surgeons David B. Busch and James R. Starling, of Madison Wisconsin, for their deeply penetrating research report, “Rectal foreign bodies: Case Reports and a Comprehensive Review of the World’s Literature,” published in the journal Surgery (September 1986, pp. 512-519).

The Busch/Starling compendium include reports of, among other items: seven light bulbs; a knife sharpener; two flashlights; a wire spring; a snuff box; an oil can with potato stopper; eleven different forms of fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs; a jeweler’s saw; a frozen pig’s tail; a tin cup; a beer glass; and one patient’s remarkable ensemble collection consisting of spectacles, a suitcase key, a tobacco pouch and a magazine.

The Busch/Starling compendium contains multitudes. It bears repeat visits.


Audio-Based Caricature Exaggerations (new patent)

Thursday, December 28th, 2017


‘Caricaturization’ (the act of making a caricature of someone/something) can now be performed automatically – and not only that, it can be set to music. Matan Sela and colleagues at Prof. Ron Kimmel’s Geometric Image Processing Lab, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, have developed ‘A novel caricature generation framework for surfaces’. Computer Vision and Image Understanding 141 (2015) 1–17.

“The method scales the gradient fields of the surface coordinates by a function of the Gaussian curvature of the surface, and solves a corresponding Poisson equation for finding the exaggerated shape. When a reference shape is provided, local discrepancies are used to amplify the scaling effect, while in the absence of a reference shape, the reference is assumed to be a scaled down version of the given one thereby letting the Gaussian curvature define the relative stretch.”

Their ‘caricaturization’ algorithm can also tweak the ‘caricaturization’ levels in sync with an audio input [as in the above video], a procedure for which the team have just received a US patent. See: Audio-Based Caricature Exaggeration

Note: The patent points out that the technique is not restricted to human heads – it can also be applied to animals, mythical creatures, &etc.