Seeing Jesus’ face on your toast is perfectly normal – sort of

dog toast

Researchers have found that the phenomenon of “face pareidolia”–where onlookers report seeing images of Jesus, Virgin Mary, or Elvis in objects such as toasts, shrouds, and clouds–is normal and based on physical causes.

“Most people think you have to be mentally abnormal to see these types of images, so individuals reporting this phenomenon are often ridiculed,” says lead researcher Prof. Kang Lee of the University of Toronto’s Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study. “But our findings suggest that it’s common for people to see non-existent features because human brains are uniquely wired to recognize faces, so that even when there’s only a slight suggestion of facial features the brain automatically interprets it as a face,” said Lee…

Researchers also found that people can be led to see different images–such as faces or words or letters–depending on what they expect to see, which in turn activates specific parts of the brain that process such images. Seeing “Jesus in toast” reflects our brain’s normal functioning and the active role that the frontal cortex plays in visual perception. Instead of the phrase “seeing is believing” the results suggest that “believing is seeing.”

I guess that explains why I keep seeing Sheila our Australian Shepherd on my morning toast. Some people believe in God. I believe in Dog.

Stoned drivers safer for everyone than DWI

NHTSA

A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that drivers who use marijuana are at a significantly lower risk for a crash than drivers who use alcohol. And after adjusting for age, gender, race and alcohol use, drivers who tested positive for marijuana were no more likely to crash than who had not used any drugs or alcohol prior to driving.

So much for coppers and politicians who were certain easing laws on ganja were going to kill us all.

The chart above tells the story. For marijuana, and for a number of other legal and illegal drugs including antidepressants, painkillers, stimulants and the like, there is no statistically significant change in the risk of a crash associated with using that drug prior to driving. But overall alcohol use, measured at a blood alcohol concentration threshold of 0.05 or above, increases your odds of a wreck nearly seven-fold.

The study’s findings underscore an important point: that the measurable presence of THC (marijuana’s primary active ingredient) in a person’s system doesn’t correlate with impairment in the same way that blood alcohol concentration does. The NHTSA doesn’t mince words: “At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment…”

What we do need, however, are better roadside mechanisms for detecting marijuana-related impairment. Several companies are developing pot breathalyzers for this purpose.

We also need a lot more research into the effects of marijuana use on driving ability, particularly to get a better sense of how pot’s effect on driving diminishes in the hours after using. But this kind of research remains incredibly difficult to do, primarily because the federal government still classifies weed as a Schedule 1 substance, as dangerous as heroin.

Reinforcing for the umpteenth time that our government really doesn’t give a crap about accuracy, evidence-based conclusions or the truth about much that’s important.

Think about that while everyone from Congressional hacks to the White House to assorted media sycophants, right-wing and barely-left-wing do their level best to encourage our participation in jolly wars in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, etc..

And, yes, let’s keep on picking up the tab for 750+ military bases around the world. Hey, we’re the richest country in the world, right? We can afford it.

Lots of ordinary citizens know the War on Terror, the War on Drugs – are just as [un]necessary as ever.

Reichsführer Himmler’s Borghild Project – world’s first sex doll

The world’s first sex doll – or “gynoid” – was built in 1941 by a team of craftsmen from Germany’s Hygiene Museum in Dresden. The project was supervised by the famous preparator and technician Franz Tschakert. The ”Father of the Woman of Glass”, which happened to be the sensation in 1930’s Second International Hygiene Exhibit, used his skills and experience to create a kind of doll the world had never seen before.

The ”field-hygienic project” was an initiative of Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, who regarded the doll as an ” counterbalance” (or regulating effect) for the sexual drive of his storm tropers. In one his letters, dated 20.11.1940 he mentions the ”unnessessarylosses”, the Wehrmacht had suffered in France inflicted by street prostitutes…

The project – called Burghild in the first place – was considered ”Geheime Reichssache” , which was ”more secret than top secret” at the time. Himmler put his commander-in-chief SS-Dr. Joachim Mrurgowsky in charge, the highest ranking officer of Berlins notorious SS-institute…

In July 1941, when Hitler’s army attacked Russia, an unknown but ambitious Danish SS-Doctor called Olen Hannussen took over from Mrurgowsky. Perhaps he was the one who changed Burghild to Borghild, which is nothing more than the Danish equivalent.

Hannussen pushed everybody forward to make the project a success. The ”galvonoplastical dolls” – manufactured in a bronze mold – were meant to follow the Storm troopers in ” desinfections-trailers” into the enemy`s land, in order to stop them visiting ”infection herds” – linke front-brothels and ”loose women”. At least, this was Himmler ‘s plan. A psychiatrist Dr. Rudolf Chargeheimer , befriended with Hannussen and also involved in the project, wrote him a letter to clearify the difficulties…

Between June 1940 – 1941 IG Farben had already developed a number of ”skin-friendly polymers” for the SS. Special characteristics : high tensile strength and elasticity. The cast of a suitable model proved to be more difficult.

Borghild was meant to reflect the beauty-ideal of the Nazis , i. e. white skin, fair hair and blue eyes. Although the team considered a doll with brown hair , the SS- Hygiene-Institute insisted on manufacturing a ”nordish doll”. Tschakert hoped to plastercast from a living model and a number of famous female athletes were invited to come to his studios, among them Wilhelmina von Bremen and Annette Walter…

In Tschakerts view the doll should be nothing more than a” female best form”, a ”perfect automaton of lust”, that would combine ”the best of all possible bodies”. The team agreed on a cheeky and naughty face , a look-a-like of Käthe von Nagy, but the actress politely declined to lend her face to Tschakert’s doll…

After Mrurgowsky’ s exit , Dr. Hannussen rejected the idea to cast a face from a living person. He believed in an ”artifial face of lust”, which would be more attractive to soldiers.

RTFA for all the foibles of Fascist design ideology. Like so many Nazi projects, the only bits that achieved artistry were copied. In this instance, copied from segments of real women.

Improbable Research — jet-powered maple seed drone

In 1992, Litos et al. patented their bio-mimic throw-in-the-air toy called the ‘Autorotative Flyer’. It might not occur to everyone that the passive toy could be updated, and militarized, with the addition of a supersonic jet pack. But occur it did to high-tech weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin Inc. which has just received a US patent for its Active Maple Seed Flyer.

The flying jet-seed, which can be used for transporting a miniature video camera for remote surveillance purposes, can also eject an (unspecified) ‘payload object’ on demand. The (unspecified) ‘payload object’ carries an adhesive causing it to stick to surfaces when it lands.

The remote-controlled, 10 gram, 3.5 cm long vehicle can fly for 20 minutes or so, and spins 250 times per second thanks to its supersonic jet thruster. Onboard (or offboard) electronics can de-spin the resulting images says the patent. For the convenience of the human-in-the-loop the seeds come in a blister-pack of 5 or more.

Martin Gardiner asks, “Is this the first time that a children’s toy has has been adapted to form a military device – rather than the other way around?”

My guess is probably not. Different age groups is all.