Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

G8: Protect the Net

Dear friends,

For the first time, the leaders of the G8 developed countries are going to discuss the internet’s role in society and the economy at their annual meeting next week in France. Worryingly, the French government -- which holds the G8 rotating presidency this year -- has largely shut out civil society and the interests of users like us.

Instead, the Heads of State of some of the most powerful nations are going to be advised by corporate CEOs, many of whom have paid $100,000 just for a seat at the table. From documents leaked by official invitees and our contacts with French activists, the discussions at this year’s G8 meetings are going to focus on issues like strict intellectual property enforcement instead of citizen-centered policies like net neutrality, privacy protection, and combating online censorship.

Unless we speak out now, decisions about internet policy are going to be made at the highest levels without our voices represented. Please sign this urgent petition calling on the G8 leaders to adopt sensible, citizen-centered internet policies, starting with saying NO to online censorship and the internet kill switch and YES to net neutrality and expanding internet access for all, which we’ll deliver at a press conference to the assembled world media on Monday in Paris.

In concert with other civil society organizations from around the world working towards the promotion of internet freedom, digital rights, and open communication, Access has been fighting to get press and public attention about the deals that governments and corporations are likely to strike next week.

That's why we're penning a letter to French President Sarkozy, dispatching one of our team to Paris to deliver your petition, taking part in a press conference, and educating key government representatives ahead of the meeting, but it’s going to take a global outcry to influence these key decision makers, so please sign the petition to defend our digital rights!

For internet freedom,
The Access Team

Standing up to fight: Does it explain why we walk upright and why women like tall men?

ScienceDaily (May 18, 2011) — A University of Utah study shows that men hit harder when they stand on two legs than when they are on all fours, and when hitting downward rather than upward, giving tall, upright males a fighting advantage."

Why have we, of all the apes, evolved an upright stance? David Carrier, a biology professor, thinks it was because it made us better fighters, and to back up this idea he has conducted a study to show how. Using male boxers and martial arts specialists he measured how hard they could hit while on their hands and knees and while standing. I think it comes as no surprise that the hardest blows came in the standing position. While of all the directions the downward hit is by far the most forceful, more than three times harder than an upward blow. Just think of those wildlife documentaries most of you must have seen of gorillas, chimps, bears and even horses fighting for mates or territory, and all of those animals rise up on their hind legs to fight.

All this, David propose, explains why women are instinctively attracted to taller men whilst men find average or short women sexually attractive. Women are unconsciously drawn to men who give the impression they can protect their offspring and partner effectively.

So the conclusion for all males out there must be - stand up straight, and if you do get into a fight and are knocked down, get straight up - fighting from the ground just isn't effective.

In detail here:
David R. Carrier. The Advantage of Standing Up to Fight and the Evolution of Habitual Bipedalism in Hominins.PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (5): e19630 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0019630

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Clubbers Can Smell a Good Nightspot

ScienceDaily (May 17, 2011) — Since the smoking ban in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, customers are more aware of unpleasant smells, such as body odors and the smell of old beer, that used to be masked by cigarette smoke. Now science is looking at how the introduction of pleasant ambient scents that hide unwanted odors might enhance the nightlife experience. According to Dr. Hendrik Schifferstein from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and his colleagues, carefully selected fragrances can enhance dancing activity, improve the overall perception of the evening, and improve how nightclub goers rate the music as well as their mood.

I remember when they started controlling the smells in the supermarkets to make you hungry and so buy more stuff spontaneously. Well now that we've lost the smell of stale tobacco from nightclubs they're going to do the same thing there so we buy more drinks.
In another cool experiment some Dutch researchers used 'environmental fragrancing ' in a nightclub and firstly observed how much people were dancing and then asked how much they were enjoying themselves. Surprise surprise, the nicer the place smelt the more people enjoyed themselves and the more they danced!

"The three scents tested were orange, seawater, and peppermint. These scents were shown to enhance dancing activity and to improve the evaluation of the evening, the evaluation of the music, and the mood of the visitors over no added scent. However, no significant differences were found between the three scents."

What I love about this one is the fact these Dutch researchers came up with a study which meant they had to go out to nightclubs, watch girls dance and then have a great excuse to go up and chat with them. "Oh I'm actually here doing some research". Got to love those Dutch.

Read their paper in full here:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happiness has a dark side

ScienceDaily (May 16, 2011)— It seems like everyone wants to be happier and the pursuit of happiness is one of the foundations of American life. But even happiness can have a dark side, according to the authors of a new review article published inPerspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. They say that happiness shouldn't be thought of as a universally good thing, and outline four ways in which this is the case. Indeed, not all types and degrees of happiness are equally good, and even pursuing happiness can make people feel worse.

Trust someone to point it out: Just trying to be happier can make you miserable; you read the self help book, you watch the feel good film, you make an effort to be be more sociable and do 'fun' things, and you end up realising that you aren't as happy as 'the others' and it takes you down again.
What's more the authors of this article point out the down side of happiness; happy people live less. That's right - a shorter happy life or a longer sadder life. If only it was a matter of choice which would you choose? Happy people take more risks, blow their money instead of saving and even experiment with 'brain enhancing' chemicals.

Yet another problem - being too happy means you could be lacking those negative feelings which, while being pretty unpleasant, are an important part of being a well adjusted human being.

So the conclusion is don't spend time worrying about being happy, just get on with living a healthy, sociable life.

Read more here:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Persuasive speech: The way we, um, talk sways our listeners

ScienceDaily (May 14, 2011) — Want to convince someone to do something? A new University of Michigan study has some intriguing insights drawn from how we speak.
The study, presented May 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, examines how various speech characteristics influence people's decisions to participate in telephone surveys. But its findings have implications for many other situations, from closing sales to swaying voters and getting stubborn spouses to see things your way.

And what it all comes down to is The 'Goldilocks' concept; not too hot, not too cold. Talk too fast and they think you're trying to 'fast talk' them, you silver tongued devil, and too slow and they'll think you're an idiot. The ideal speed is about 3.5 words per second, so get your stopwatches out.
When it comes to pitch it doesn't make a lot of difference, unless you're a man with a one of those high pitch (squeaky?) voices, people don't like that, they like their men to sound like Orson Welles.
As for pausing; pausing is good. If you don't pause people get suspicious, but if you pause a lot they don't seem to mind. The ideal is about 4 or 5 pauses a minute.
So try it out next time you want to get your way and let me know what happens.

Full story here:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Increase in Internet Access Parallels Growth in Prescription Drug Abuse

ScienceDaily (May 14, 2011) — Increasing access to rogue online pharmacies -- those which dispense medications without a doctor's prescription -- may be an important factor behind the rapid increase in the abuse of prescription drugs. In a report that was released May 12 online by the journal Health Affairs and will also appear in its June edition, investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Southern California (USC) find that states with the greatest expansion in high-speed Internet access from 2000 to 2007 also had the largest increase in admissions for treatment of prescription drug abuse.

Makes sense really, but researchers just love to prove what logic tells you. Prescription drug abuse is directly related to the availability of those drugs. Back in the old days, when you actually had to visit a doctor if you wanted a legal controlled substance, things were so much more complicated. Nowadays, when legal controlled substances are actually illegal (who knows what those Canadian pharmacies are actually sending out), it's so much simpler to go online for whatever pushes your button. And they're seeing the results in the hospitals.

You can read more about the study here: