The Null Device

2001/9/12

Mingers of the world unite: New studies in evolutionary biology have found that, in the animal kingdom, ugly can be beautiful; that is to say, some animals prefer mates that the decided majority find decisively unattractive.

[Brooks] joined forces with John Endler, an ecological geneticist at James Cook University in Townsville, to observe how individual female guppies choose between different males. They found that although all the females liked males with bright orange spots and large tails, a minority of females also liked males with black markings.
If the same holds true for people, then it may be time to stop worrying about how closely you adhere to the Hollywood ideal of attractiveness.

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A piece on some of the CIA's research projects, from spy planes to psychics and eavesdropping cats:

Another project, known as "Acoustic Kitty," involved wiring a cat with transmitting and control devices, allowing it to serve as a mobile listening post. A heavily redacted 1967 government memo released by the archive Monday suggests that cats can be altered and trained, but concludes the program wouldn't work.

Reminds me of a mind-control/conspiracy rant I saw on Psychoceramics, which suggested that, since it is possible to get video out of a cat's optic nerve and (theoretically) to control a cat's motivation with direct stimulation of the brain, then cat-owning paranoids should beware if their cat disappears and subsequently reappears and starts taking an undue interest in their actions.

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2001/9/11

Music publications in the UK have received a mysterious CD purporting to be a new KLF album. Titled "The KLF Live On Stage" and bearing various telltale KLF insignia, the CD contains 13 well-known tracks, including It's Grim Up North, Kylie Said To Jason and What Time Is Love, and claims to be a response to the huge number of KLF bootlegs in circulation. An official spokesperson for the two neo-Dadaist popstars, however, has denied them having anything to do with it, and says the CD is bogus. Of course, it could be that that's just what they want us to think fnord.

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Researchers at Glasgow University have found that advertisements can alter your memory, making you "remember" happy childhood memories, associated with a brand, which never actually happened:

One root beer manufacturer, Stewart's, had discovered that many adults appeared to remember growing up drinking their product from bottles. This was impossible since the company only began full-scale distribution 10 years ago. Before that, Stewart's root beer was available only from soda fountains. However, the bottles were adorned with slogans such as "original", "old fashioned" and "since 1924", which conjured up images of times gone by.

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A group in the US has accused coffee franchise Starbucks of surreptitiously spiking its chai tea with ephedrine, a stimulant related to amphetamines and linked to strokes and heart attacks. Starbucks (who, incidentally, will soon be saturation-bombing Melbourne with outlets) denies the claim.

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First came Brazilian artist Eduardo Kac's glowing albino rabbit, and now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, glowing pets will soon be available to the public, with glowing aquarium fish.

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While mainstream society moves away from the formal courtship rituals of their ancestors, a subculture of conservative Christians in the US is going the other way, throwing out the concept of "dating" and replacing it with betrothal, in which couples swear vows of commitment to each other, and then get to know each other.

two years ago, when Kara was 14 and Casey was 20 and heading off to medical school, they pledged their lives to each other in an improvised ceremony at their church that they called a betrothal. They exchanged matching signet rings, promised to be faithful and considered their vows as binding as a marriage. Only then did they set about getting to know each other and thinking of themselves as a couple. Last month, with their parents' permission, they decided they could start holding hands.
Leading someone on is prohibited in the Bible, he said, citing a passage from First Thessalonians that warns against "defrauding." His first book opens with a bride's nightmare in which her groom stands at the altar, holding hands with the phantoms of all his previous girlfriends.

Never mind premarital sex, this is saying no to premarital romance, or as they say, "preparation for divorce". Though it makes one wonder whether mutant strains of the subculture will arise in which casual premarital sex is considered to "not count" if you don't exchange names (much like the way that oral sex doesn't count among some fast kids in the Bible Belt).

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When Australians were polled about whether US culture has too much influence on Australia, 73% said they believed it did. And the other 27% said "nah, dude". (OK, I made that last bit up.)

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Unintended consequences: A Victorian lawyer wants to change the state's stalking laws, believing that they are too broad and result in well-meaning but inept suitors being hit with intervention orders.

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