Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

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.

A switch, in the brain, to control impulsive behavior! [Medical study]

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

Impulsive beliefs that someone has discovered a switch, in the brain, to control impulsive behavior!

Such beliefs have impelled many scientists (professional, amateur, and imagined) to report that they have maybe, perhaps, almost-certainly, nearly-without-doubt discovered a switch, in the brain, to control impulsive behavior.

A newly published study suggests that a team of scientists has discovered the switch.

The study is: “Closing the loop on impulsivity via nucleus accumbens delta-band activity in mice and man,” Hemmings Wu, Kai J. Miller, Zack Blumenfeld, Nolan R. Williams, Vinod K. Ravikumar, Karen E. Lee, Bina Kakusa, Matthew D. Sacchetc, Max Wintermark, Daniel J. Christoffel, Brian K. Rutt, Helen Bronte-Stewart, Brian Knutson, Robert C. Malenka, and Casey H. Halpern [pictured here], Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017): 201712214. The researchers are at Stanford University.

Corresponding author Halpern’s official biography reveals, courteously, that he “is Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery and, by courtesy, of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University Medical Center.”

The experiment was performed on mice. The study reports this in simple, plain language: “Utilizing this translational biomarker as a trigger, RNS blocked binge eating in mice with remarkable behavioral specificity, thereby taking the first critical step toward the development of a targeted intervention for neuropsychiatric patients suffering from hypersensitivity to pathological motivations.”

At the end of the study, the authors explain that their discovery likely is the key to controlling undesired impulsed in humans:  “Our findings provide preliminary evidence that RNS has potential for treating intractable behavioral disorders that have not previously been considered optimal candidates for neurosurgical approaches, including eating disorders, and even obesity and addiction. Undoubtedly, further work will optimize biomarkers of reward anticipation by improving their specificity and sensitivity.”

At the very end, the study mentions that there may be a small chance that the prediction might not pan out: “Nevertheless, the fact that mouse and human NAc LFPs exhibit similar changes during reward anticipation suggests that mechanistically driven research in rodents can inform what is eventually done in human subjects.”

The discovery’s announcement has not gone unnoticed. Scientific American has an appreciation, with the headline: “An Electrical Brain Switch Shuts Off Food Cravings
— Could the temptation to dish up seconds (or thirds) be curtailed with an implant under the skull?”

Drug-Associated Spontaneous Orgasm (DASO): Problem, or Opportunity?

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Pharmaceutical companies might experience spontaneous fiscal arousal upon reading a new medical study about drugs that may cause spontaneous orgasms. The study is:

Drug-Associated Spontaneous Orgasm: A Case Report and Systematic Review of Literature,” Wei-Hsi Chen, Yuan-Hsiang Chu, and Kuo-Yen Chen, Clinical Neuropharmacology, epub 2017. The authors, at Shu-Te University and Chang Gung University, Taiwan, explain:

We report a male patient of repetitive spontaneous orgasm under trazodone treatment and systematically review the literature on drug-associated spontaneous orgasm (DASO)…. A total of 25 patients (18 women and 7 men), including our reported case, experienced 27 DASO events…. A reduction of dose or discontinuation of the offending drug usually abolished DASO….

Sex and age seem to have no influence on occurrence of DASO events….

Index drugs induced SPONO [spontaneous orgasm] but did not change the quality of the classical orgasm….

There is an equal likelihood that SPONO will occur within 7 days or between 8 days and 1 month after drug use regardless of drug type. An immediate reaction following drug administration is rare.

Smart investors can be on the listen for mention of the suddenly-chic phrases “DASO” and “SPONO”, at cocktail parties where pharma executives roam.

Marc Gozlan wrote an appreciation of this new research, in the Réalités Biomédicales blog in Le Monde: “Ces médicaments qui déclenchent des orgasmes spontanés.”