Month: December 2014

27th December 2014 / News

On the last day of September, a 24-year-old migrant worker in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen killed himself. Xu Lizhi jumped out of a window of a residential dormitory run by his employer, Foxconn, the huge electronics manufacturing company with a million-strong workforce that makes the majority of the world’s Apple iPhones.

In most cases, Xu’s suicide would have been yet another footnote in the vast, sweeping story of China’s economic boom and transformation. He is one of a legion of young Chinese migrants who emerge out of rural obscurity to find work in China’s teeming cities, only to end up crushed by both the dullness and stress of factory jobs, insufficient wages and a steady accumulation of personal disappointments.

But Xu was a poet. And, after his death, his friends collected his work and got some published in a local Shenzhen newspaper.

27th December 2014 / News

Tits! Boobs! Breasts! Everyone’s got them. Well, a lot of people do. Some women don’t. Some men do. Some whip them out in public and some get them chopped off. Some get them pumped up and some twerk them to classical music. Yes, ten years since Janet Jackson flopped hers out at the Superbowl and nearly caused the world to end, tits are still going strong. In fact, they’ve had quite the year.

27th December 2014 / Music

The ancient Greeks, who had only simple stringed instruments and flutes, noticed two things about pitches produced by a vibrating string. They noticed that a string of half the length of another but with the same tension and thickness sounded similar. For example if the original string played a frequency of 880 Hz the string of half the length would play a note of 440 Hz, an octave lower. The same thing happens by holding the string down in the center; each half will sound a note and octave higher than the full length. They also noticed that holding a string down at 2/3 of its length would produce two notes (by plucking each side) that sounded pleasant together. We call the interval between these two notes a perfect fifth (if you sing the children’s song Baa Baa Black Sheep the first Baa and Black are a fifth apart). Two other notes that sound good together are the notes produced by the long part of the 2/3 of the string and the note formed from holding the string down at its center. The interval between these two notes is called a perfect fourth and the ratio between them is 4/3 (the first two notes of Hark the Herald Angels Sing).

23rd December 2014 / Procrastination

Your result for O-LIFE Schizophrenia Test… 11% Unusual_Experiences! These are the raw scores to your test:Unusual Experiences: 11%Cognitive Disorganization: 10%Introvertive Anhedonia: 5%Impulsive Nonconformity: 8%(Higher percentages indicate schizotypal tendencies.)Unusual experiences encompass…

23rd December 2014 / Procrastination

20th December 2014 / Folklore

For some time now, people like poet Robert Graves and countercultural guru Timothy Leary have assumed that ancient religion and mysticism were the products of mind-altering drugs. But in the case of one modern religious experience—the inspiration behind John Coltrane’s holy four-part suite, A Love Supreme—it was the distinct absence of drugs that lit the flame. Like many recovering addicts, Coltrane found God in 1957, after having what he called in the album’s liner notes “a spiritual awakening.” Seven years later, he dedicated his masterpiece, “a humble, offering,” to the deity he credited with “a richer, fuller, more productive life.” No rote hymnal, chant, or psalter, A Love Supreme offers itself up to the listener as the product of intensely personal devotion. And like the ecstatic revelations of many a saint, Coltrane’s work has inspired its own devotional cult—The Church of St. Coltrane.

20th December 2014 / Folklore

Mapping experts have identified a curious cluster of seven roads around Swan Street in Manchester which are all perfectly aligned with the midwinter sun, just like the prehistoric monument at Stonehenge. Sun-worshippers hoping to mark the Winter Solstice on Sunday could avoid a trip to Stonehenge – and celebrate on the back streets of Manchester’s Northern Quarter instead.

18th December 2014 / Folklore

“I think, therefore I am” is perhaps the most familiar one-liner in western philosophy. Even if the stoners, philosophers and quantum mechanically-inclined skeptics who believe we’re living an illusion are right, few existential quips hit with such profound, approachable simplicity.  The only catch is that in Descartes’ opinion, “we” – our thoughts, our personalities, our “minds” – are mostly divorced from our bodies.

The polymathic Frenchman and other dualist philosophers proposed that while the mind exerts control over our physical interaction with the world, there is a clear delineation between body and mind; that our material forms are simply temporary housing for our immaterial souls. But centuries of science argue against a corporeal crash pad. The body and mind appear inextricably linked. And findings from a new study published in Cancer by a Canadian group suggest that our mental state has measurable physical influence on us – more specifically on our DNA.