Kisch of Prague, on kissing problems

April 24th, 2014

Between 1897 and 1899, many medical journals (e.g. the Canadian Medical Review, shown here) carried this blurb, about a recent advance by Dr. Enoch Heinrich Kisch.

evils-of-incomplete-coitusNever before had anyone realized that the withdrawal method of birth control leads to female dissatisfaction… which leads to occasional heart palpitations… which lead to irregular heartbeat, constipation, vertigo, weeping, and a gloomy view of life. Truly “One of the Evils of Incomplete Coitus”. But don’t worry: “All these symptoms will disappear as by enchantment”, if you just give up the withdrawal method.

The original French report is here at BIU Santé., the French medical history archive. It’s still only four paragraphs — so to see the evidence for Kisch’s “Cardiac Neurosis of Sexual Origin”, you probably have to read one of the noted balneologist‘s books about female physiology.

Follow Amboceptor on Twitter: @AmboceptorBlog

Fire breathing – the dangers

April 23rd, 2014


“Fire breathing is a stunning but potentially injurious stunt. The fire-breathers direct a mouthful of fuel forcefully or creates a fine mist by spitting through pursed lips which is ignited over a flame resulting in a stunning visual show of plume, pillar, ball, volcano, or a cloud of fire [Figure 2].”

The potential injuries are described by Dr. Sanjay Saraf, from the Department of Plastic Surgery, NMC Specialty Hospital, Dubai, UAE, in a 2012 article for Indian Dermatology Online J. 2012 Jan-Apr; 3(1): 73–74.

“There are several immediate and long-term health hazards associated with fire-breathing act. Burns are the most obvious fire-breathing danger; however, there could be facial hair loss, ingestional toxicity, cutaneous irritation, peptic ulcers, fire-eater’s pneumonia (hydrocarbon pneumonitis/chemical pneumonia),[3,4] inhalational injuries, and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.“

See:Fire-breathing burn’

BONUS: Fire-breathers looking for a safe(r) non-toxic alternative (using corn starch) can check this video >


The most honored paper airplane sweeper visits China

April 22nd, 2014

The University of Science and Technology of China reports, on April 21, 2014, that begins:

A Noble Laureate, also the Keeper of the Broom of Ig Nobel Prize

On April 17th, Roy Glauber, who was awarded one half of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his contribution to the quantum theory of optical coherence”, visited USTC and gave a lecture “Two Hundred Years of Light Waves, One Hundred Years of Light Quanta” for the students on the next day. During his visit, professor Glauber accepted a face-to face micro-interview.

A kind of chicken soup for the soul story about Roy Glauber is very popular in China which was published in Reader in 2009. For many years before winning his Nobel Prize, Glauber were familiar to the audiences of Ig Noble Prize, where he took a bow each year as “Keeper of the Broom”. In the chicken soup story, his sweeping the stage was described as a kind of cleaning the dust of mind. When hearing that in the interview, professor laughed and shared the context of the story.

Here’s a photo of Professor Glauber and the broom and a paper airplane, all illuminated by two human spotlights, at the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The photo is by David Holzman:


A most emotionally colorful study (plus eye blinks & nude bodies)

April 22nd, 2014

This study appears to combine the brightest aspects of phrenology, Jungian psychology,  painting-by-numbers, and numerous other disciplines:

Bodily maps of emotions,” Lauri Nummenmaa [pictured here], Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari and Jari K. Hietanen, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111 no. 2, January 14, 2014, pp. 646–651. The authors, at Aalto University, the University of Turku, and the University of Tampere, Finland, write:

lauri“Here we used a topographical self-report tool to reveal that different emotional states are associated with topographically distinct and culturally universal bodily sensations; these sensations could underlie our conscious emotional experiences. Monitoring the topography of emotion-triggered bodily sensations brings forth a unique tool for emotion research.”

Here are details from the study:



BONUS (by one of the co-authors): Mandel A, Helokunnas S, Pihko E and Hari R: “Neuromagnetic brain responses to other person’s eye blinks seen on video,” European Journal of Neuroscience, in press.

BONUS (by two of the other co-authors):  ”The Naked Truth: The Face and Body Sensitive N170 Response Is Enhanced for Nude Bodies,” Jari K. Hietanen and Lauri Nummenmaa, PLoS One, November 16, 2011. The authors explain:

“We conclude that… the visual processing of other people’s nude bodies is enhanced in the brain. This enhancement is likely to reflect affective arousal elicited by nude bodies. Such facilitated visual processing of other people’s nude bodies is possibly beneficial in identifying potential mating partners and competitors, and for triggering sexual behavior.”


The evasive shareholder meeting manoeuvre

April 21st, 2014

“When companies move their annual meetings a great distance from headquarters, they tend to announce disappointing earnings results and experience pronounced stock market underperformance in the months after the meeting. Companies appear to schedule meetings in remote locations when the managers have private, adverse information about future performance and wish to discourage scrutiny by shareholders, activists, and the media. However, shareholders do not appear to decode this signal, since the disclosure of meeting locations leads to little immediate stock price reaction.”

Prof_LiProf_YermackThis previously under-researched business tactic is (un)covered in a new NBER research paper from Lily Yuanzhi Li, [left] currently Assistant Professor of Finance at the Temple University Fox School of Business, Philadelphia, and David L. Yermack, [right] who is the Albert Fingerhut Professor of Finance and Business Transformation at the Leonard Norman Stern School of Business, New York University.

But how remote is remote? The authors give an example :

“As an example of a meeting held at a remote location, TRW Automotive Holdings, an auto parts manufacturer with a market capitalization of about $4 billion, convened its May 14, 2007, annual meeting at the Renaissance Casa de Palmas Hotel in McAllen TX, at the Southern tip of the continental United States near the Mexican border. The meeting took place almost 1,400 miles from the company’s headquarters outside Detroit, and more than 300 miles from the nearest major airport, Houston.”

And there are even more far flung instances :

“One company, General Cable Corp., has a Kentucky headquarters but held its annual meetings in Spain, Costa Rica, and Germany at different times during our sample period.”

The full paper can be read here : Evasive shareholder meetings (NBER Working Paper No. 19991, issued in March 2014)