Happiness can break your heart too

‘Takotsubo syndrome (TTS) is known as “broken heart syndrome” and is characterised by a sudden temporary weakening of the heart muscles that causes the left ventricle of the heart to balloon out at the bottom while the neck remains narrow, creating a shape resembling a Japanese octopus trap, from which it gets its name. Since this relatively rare condition was first described in 1990, evidence has suggested that it is typically triggered by episodes of severe emotional distress, such as grief, anger or fear, with patients developing chest pains and breathlessness. It can lead to heart attacks and death.

Now, for the first time, researchers have systematically analysed data from the largest group of patients diagnosed with TTS worldwide, and found that some patients have developed the condition after a happy or joyful event; they have named it “happy heart syndrome”. …’

Source: Neuroscience Stuff

Top Trump strategist quits, writes an open letter warning America about him

‘Stephanie Cegielski was in the Trump campaign from the beginning, first serving as communications director of the Make America Great Again Super PAC, then shutting down the PAC “in order to position him as the quintessential non-politician.”

Cegielski served as Trump’s communications director through the campaign, which, she says, no one intended to be a serious run at the White House — not even Trump. Rather, the goal was to take Trump to double-digit poll numbers and shake up the establishment, because Trump didn’t want to be president, he “just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House.”

As Trump’s campaign success exceeded beyond everyone’s wildest speculation, Cegielski watched in horror as Trump talked himself into believing that he had what it took to run the nation. Even as this was happening, Cegielski was coming to appreciate that the campaign’s internal slogan, “Let Trump Be Trump,” was hiding the real truth: “Let Trump Help Trump.”

She discovered (later than she had any excuse to, really), that Trump was a self-serving monster who’d throw his own mother under the bus to secure even the smallest advantage for himself. Trump is a walking Dunning-Kruger effect, whose lack of self-awareness about his own limitations results in gaffe after gaffe. Combine this fatal, unknowing ignorance with his lack of compunction about harming others to help himself and you get a campaign where Trump’s most loyal followers are, one after another, sacrificed by Trump himself, who scapegoats them to make up for his shortcomings.

Cegielski’s realization that this would be the motif of a Trump presidency, with America itself standing in for the hapless interns that Trump has victimized on his race to the top, led her to “defect” and to warn Trump’s supporters that they’re creating a monster.

I fear that Cegielski’s revelations about Trump’s self-absorption and indifference to the welfare of others has been obvious to everyone who wasn’t a Trump supporter since day one, and that her note will do no good in convincing the faithful who’ve ignored so many other warnings to date.’

Source: Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

If snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is on your bucket list, better book your tickets soon

It’s “the worst bleaching ever seen on what was the healthiest part of the Great Barrier Reef,” Dr. Mark Eakin, the Coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch, told me. “It’s quite sad.”Australia, he says, “may lose half of their healthiest corals.” He adds: “This won’t be the end of the GBR but it is a huge amount of damage. The problem is that it can take decades for reefs to recover from bleaching this bad and severe bleaching is becoming much more frequent and more severe.”

Source: Motherboard

How to Spot an NYPD Cop Car Disguised as a Yellow Cab

‘Sometimes not all is as it seems. On the the streets of New York City, that can mean some of the iconic yellow cabs are in fact disguised NYPD cop cars—but how can you spot them?

Motherboard yesterday published an article, based on FOIA requests, which saw the NYPD admit that it has at least three undercover cop cars that are made to look like taxis. But, as Boing Boing reports and Gawker has told us in the past, some people have known about the phenomenon for much, much longer.

One of those people is Herman Yung, who’s a keen taxi-spotter. Yesterday, in response to the Motherboard article, he published his own gallery showing seven cabs that he’s spotted in recent years which he believes to be cop cars. Incidentally, their registered cab numbers are—or at least, were—2W97, 6Y19, 6Y17, 2W95, 2W68, 6Y13, and 6Y21, if you’re watching out.But perhaps more interesting is Yung’s guide to spotting these undercover cop cars. Here are his top tips…’

Source: Gizmodo

Some Sadist Ran a Donald Trump Speech Through Google’s Neural Network

‘The above video comes from photographer Eric Cheng who explained:

“The source video is a CNN highlights reel from Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy announcement in July 2015. I used audio volume (averaged over each frame) to dictate how deep to dream. For fun, I used a picture of Cthulu as a guide image.”

Cthulu meets Trump as understood by an A.I. that can dream. Welcome to the state of American politics in 2016.’

Source: Gizmodo

Four Sets of Identical Twins Staged a Time Travel Prank on an NYC Subway

‘Most NYC subway riders are pretty blasé when panhandlers hit them up for cash between stations. When a panhandler announced he was collecting funds to build a time machine, riders chuckled at the odd request—until another man boarded the train and announced he was the inventor’s future self. He implored them not to give any money because time travel will ruin everything.It sounds just like that X-Files episode (“Synchrony”) where a scientist travels from the future to stop his younger self from making the cryobiological compound that will one day enable time travel. But it’s actually an elaborate prank by Improv Everywhere…’

Source: Gizmodo

Our Cities May Be Making Birds Smarter

‘The term “bird brain” is going out of fashion as biologists come to understand that birds are actually quite smart and competent. Now scientists in Barbados say that, in many respects, urban birds are smarter than rural birds…’

Source: Gizmodo

Scientists Discover That James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Has an Amazingly Mathematical “Multifractal” Structure

‘…[s]cientists at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Poland have found that James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake—a novel we might think of as perhaps the most self-consciously referential examination of language written in any tongue—is “almost indistinguishable in its structure from a purely mathematical multifractal.” Trying to explain this finding in as plain English as possible, Julia Johanne Tolo at Electric Literature writes:To determine whether the books had fractal structures, the academics looked at the variation of sentence lengths, finding that each sentence, or fragment, had a structure that resembled the whole of the book.

And it isn’t only Joyce. Through a statistical analysis of 113 works of literature, the researchers found that many texts written by the likes of Dickens, Shakespeare, Thomas Mann, Umberto Eco, and Samuel Beckett had multifractal structures. The most mathematically complex works were stream-of-consciousness narratives, hence the ultimate complexity of Finnegans Wake, which Professor Stanisław Drożdż, co-author of the paper published at Information Sciences, describes as “the absolute record in terms of multifractality.” …

Fractal Novels Graph

A close second to Joyce’s classic work, surprisingly, is Dave Egger’s post-modern memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and much, much further down the scale, Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. Proust’s masterwork, writes Phys.org, shows “little correlation to multifractality” as do certain other books like Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The measure may tell us little about literary quality, though Professor Drożdż suggests that “it may someday help in a more objective assignment of books to one genre or another.” …

Of the finding that stream-of-consciousness works seem to be the most fractal, McBride says, “By its nature, such writing is concerned not only with the usual load-bearing aspects of language—content, meaning, aesthetics, etc—but engages with language as the object in itself, using the re-forming of its rules to give the reader a more prismatic understanding…. Given the long-established connection between beauty and symmetry, finding works of literature fractally quantifiable seems perfectly reasonable.” Maybe so, or perhaps the Polish scientists have fallen victim to a more sophisticated variety of the psychological sharpshooter’s fallacy that affects “Bible Code” enthusiasts? I imagine we’ll see some fractal skeptics emerge soon enough. But the idea that the worlds-within-worlds feeling one gets when reading certain books—the sense that they contain universes in miniature—may be mathematically verifiable sends a little chill up my spine.’

Source: Open Culture

Here’s the Entire Universe in One Clever Map

‘A map of the known universe to a constant scale would either be very big, or very useless. But use a logarithmic scale to compress the distances as you travel outwards, and you get this gorgeous and slightly Eye-of-Sauron image.The map was created by artist Pablo Carlos Budassi, using a series of images and data gathered by NASA and ESA missions. Starting in the middle, you move through the Solar System, past the Kuiper belt, into the Milky Way, all the way out into cosmic microwave radiation and the Big Bang’s plasma on the edge.The image has been released into the public domain, which means you’re perfectly welcome to stick it onto a black background, set as your phone background, and spend your commutes staring endlessly into the vortex of space…’

Source: Gizmodo

Performance Artist Laurie Anderson Plays a Beautifully Discordant Song for a Group of Dogs

‘In advance of her HBO special Heart of a Dog premiering on April 24, the amazing Laurie Anderson appeared on Late Night With Stephen Colbert and performed a beautifully discordant song for a small group of dogs. A bit earlier in the show, Anderson spoke about the project and how she came up with the idea with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma while they were both waiting backstage at a graduation….’

Source: Laughing Squid

Greenland’s Ice Is Getting Darker, Increasing Risk of Melting

Via Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory:

‘Greenland’s snowy surfaces have been getting darker over the past two decades, absorbing more heat from the sun and increasing snow melt, a new study of satellite data shows. That trend is likely to continue, with the surface’s reflectivity, or albedo, decreasing by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century, the study says.

While soot blowing in from wildfires contributes to the problem, it hasn’t been driving the change, the study finds. The real culprits are two feedback loops created by the melting itself. One of those processes isn’t visible to the human eye, but it is having a profound effect.’ (Thanks, Seth).

So essentially, melting begets more melting, as if we shouldn’t have known that already.

From Sam Harris:

“If you wake up tomorrow morning and believe that saying a few Latin words over your pancakes is going to turn them into the body of Elvis, you’re a lunatic. But if you believe the same thing about a cracker turning into the body of Jesus, you’re just a Catholic.”

Go On…

‘What’s newsworthy isn’t just that AlphaGo has won its first two matches, but what this means for the acceleration of the pace at which computers are getting smarter…’

Source: Medium

To Maintain Supply of Sex Slaves, Isis Pushes Birth Control

Via NYTimes.com:

‘Islamic State leaders have made sexual slavery as they believe it was practiced during the Prophet Muhammad’s time integral to the group’s operations, preying on the women and girls the group captured from the Yazidi religious minority almost two years ago. To keep the sex trade running, the fighters have aggressively pushed birth control on their victims so they can continue the abuse unabated while the women are passed among them.’