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Ninja On Rye
Lived in Melbourne
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25th April 2015 - Anzac Day, in remembrance.  Lest we forget
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Not even a problem confined to the current Australian government, the shameful spiral of this country is embraced and hastened by both major parties.
Not a proud day to call yourself an Australian :(
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+iPan Darius  - it's essentially 2 party, in that only the Liberal-National Coalition or Labor Party can rule.
But there are improvements over some other political systems, such as the vote getting transferred if your party doesn't get.  Meaning you can effectively vote for Minor Party 1, and if it doesn't get it then it goes to your Minor Party 2, and if it doesn't get in then it goes to dot dot dot eventually one of the major parties that does get in.
This means you can comfortably put minor parties at the top of your voting sheet without feeling like you're wasting a vote.

Also worth noting that just an election ago, neither the Coalition nor the Labor Party had enough seats to form government by themselves, so Labor formed government with support from several independents plus the Green party. 
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When recommendation algorithms go wrong
Amazon email is insistent that these "fantasy" novels are what I should be buying ...
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Yeah they did the same to me... Sci/Fi & Fantasy is not the same as Romance (soft porn smut)... ;-)
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Is there a term for removing the plastic sheath that libraries et al put over books?
Personally I've been using the term "de-gloving"...
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Bareback? 
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The planet HD 189733b is a gas-giant located 63 light years away.  The remarkable fact is not that we know of it, but that "Besides deriving a temperature profile of the planetary atmosphere, the Geneva team found tantalising evidence of high-altitude winds blowing from the exoplanet’s hot day side to the cold night side with speeds of several kilometres per second"

This was using a small 3.6 m ground based telescope.
I was unaware of the current state of exoplanet detection.
Looks like the hunting is heating up.
Studying the atmosphere of an exoplanet, astronomers of the NCCR PlanetS derived a temperature profile with unprecedented precision. Their results are based on data collected with a relatively small ground-based telescope. This opens completely new perspectives for the characterization of remote exoplanetary atmospheres. High up in the atmosphere of the exoplanet named HD 189733b it …
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Yep that is amazing. I had no idea they could do that with such a little telescope!
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Software systems to last 100 years?

DARPA wants really long lived software systems, and is investigating what that would require.
I'm just imagining the change such systems would need to cope with.  I mean, we're not talking about a Hello World application here, we're talking about something deployed by a defense force.  This has to be adaptable.  And it has to be relevant in an ever-more-rapidly changing world.
They're giving themselves about four years to get things sorted.  What would it even mean for a system with software written in 2020 to be functional in even 50 years time, beyond total upgrades?  Could it suitably adapt?

I'm flashbacking to that cat in Accelerando ...

http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2015/04/08.aspx
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Nix is not a piece of software..  Though some pieces of it are.  And of course there's plenty of banking and telecoms software, I don't doubt that's of an age.

Still, once you start getting to the point of having an AI itself  ...
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My mind's doing flips watching the video trying to put myself in his place, riding the modified bike.
7 minutes, with lots of great footage of him and others riding the bike.
 
This one's particularly good
Akin to those experiments with updide-down spectacles that make the (sadly not so popular) headlines now and then.
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Yeah, that is a hell of a long time.  Admittedly only 5 minutes a day or whatever, but ... argh.
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On the verge of bankruptcy, Tesla was almost bought by Google two years ago

Tesla was in bad straits financially - in March 2013 it only had two weeks worth of cash, CEO Elon Musk had shut down Tesla's factory and they were on the verge of bankruptcy.  Musk and Larry Page shook on a deal for about 6 billion for the company and another 5 for expansion, with Musk either getting 8 years to run the company (which would be till around the 2021 timeframe) or time to develop a third gen mainstream electric car.  But negotiations stalled over the next few weeks, sales took off, the company was on the up and the deal never went through.

Personally I'm glad for the independence and diversity.  Whilst I think Google would have still turned out a good result for the company and their product line, I think Tesla's continued independence under Musk is a very healthy outcome, and should provide a solid base for Musk's other ventures.
On the verge of bankruptcy, the company sought a savior in Larry Page
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Well personally I'm glad that didn't happen...
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Religious exemptions removed in Australia for parents on welfare that don't vaccinate

The recent announcement that parents would lose welfare payments if they refused to vaccinate their children had a loophole for those that were part of a religious organisation that objected. 
This has been removed.
RELIGIOUS exemptions for childhood vaccinations will be scrapped to toughen Australia’s new “no jab, no pay’’ laws stripping welfare from parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
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morals are nonsense if they conflict with hygiene and evidence-based public health standards.
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Suicides and vehicular deaths ... and this is not a conclusion

This is not a conclusion, it's just interesting reading with some interesting numbers.  Not small numbers, when you think about what it means, year on year.

First up there's vehicular deaths, and we've got the USA and Australia (since this is where I live).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_Australia_by_year

The tables are a little different in scope but cover much the same data.
The US peaked in absolute deaths between late-60s/early 70s and again in the late 70s, peaking in 1972 (54,589).  They've been in steady decline ever since 1980, with the last five years being a significant reduction to 32,719 in 2013.

In Australia,  peak fatalities is actually difficult to tell because we're in the zone of little data, back in 1970, with 3,798 deaths.  It's been in a fairly steady decline ever since, with 1,193 deaths in 2013.

For deaths per 100,000, which puts the numbers into closer comparison, the US peaked back in 1937 with 29.357, though it was pretty close to this in 1972 with 26.008.  It's been going down ever since and is now just over 10.3 deaths every 100,000 people.

Australia suffers in the lack of earlier data again, but it seems from the chart that it was back in 1970 or earlier that the country was suffering the most from deaths per 100,000 people, with 26.59.  This has declined in the years since until we're down to 5.16 deaths per 100k in 2013.

For suicides:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_the_United_States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Australia

In the US, 38,364 people suicided, which was 12.4 deaths per 100k, a number which is rising.
In Australia, 2132 people suicided, which was 9.8 deaths per 100k, a number that's fairly steady.

Interestingly both countries have more people die from suicide than vehicles these days.

Side note:
In the late 19th century in Great Britain, attempted suicide was deemed to be equivalent to attempted murder and could be punished by hanging - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failed_suicide_attempt#Criminalization_of_attempted_suicide
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Nice post Ninj - good data to think about and the comparisons help too. Cheers
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Settled science that the public thinks is still "controversial"

Focused on the US public, but holding  in many other places no doubt, there's a gap between what the general public believe, and the positions held by scientists working in the respective fields.
This list highlights 10 areas of discrepancy, the myths of controversy tending to be sown either in social media or old school media. 
Of course, as the article points out, nothing is ever set in stone and scientific consensus has been overturned before.

But there's a name for when you think your couple of hours of googling trumps experts in the field: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The ten items the Big Think editors highlight as having discrepancies between laypeople and scientists are below: see the link for the details.

1. Evolution Unites All of Biology
2. Animal Testing Is Necessary
3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Necessary
4. Vaccines Don't Cause Autism
5. Alternative Medicine Is Bunk
6. Large Hadron Collider Won't Destroy Earth
7. Cold Fusion Isn't Real
8. Nuclear Power Is Safe
9. Climate Change Is Largely Manmade
10. GMOs Are Safe
Many Americans are being misled on serious scientific issues, and science journalists have to spend an inordinate amount of time debunking myths which seemingly never die.
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+Mark Bruce I have an excellent idea of how science works. So much so, that I know very well prejudice (which is exactly what you're talking about) plays no proper part in it, and that it is anti-authoritarian to the core.

A claim that goes against "a mountain of evidence" is likely to have very little evidence in its favor, and resorting to the dodge about "extraordinary claims" will be entirely unnecessary. A claim that goes against entrenched dogma, on the other hand, may have plenty of evidence in its favor and simply be one that hasn't been properly considered in the past. In that case, resort to the "extraordinary claims" dodge is improper. It's always one of those two: unnecessary or improper.

Science advances because someone, somewhere, decided to pursue an idea that people like you regarded as "extraordinary," and found that it was true. It isn't the closed-minded but the imaginative that makes science work.

Of course any claim should be regarded with skepticism and required to establish itself, but no, it's not correct to make some ideas jump higher hurdles than others merely because they offend your entrenched dogmas.

Of the ideas you list as examples:

The first has no evidence in its favor at all.

The second has very little evidence in its favor, and if you mean "all humans" and not just some of them, it has none.

The third is unfalsifiable, and so evidence is irrelevant.

The fourth -- well, I'd like to see the machine, and I'll be surprised if it works, but if I see it working I'm not going to reject that evidence because the idea is "extraordinary."

The fifth is simply true. ;)

In none of these cases is it necessary or appropriate to resort to the "extraordinary claims" dodge. The only times it IS necessary for some people, is when there is evidence in support of the idea but they find it emotionally unacceptable. And that's not a respectable position.
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The cost of a developed world

Baotou, in Inner Mongolia processes rare earth metals that feed the world's hunger for technology.  The toxic sludge that results from the processing gets piped into this man made lake.
Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech, discovers Tim Maughan.
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Asia pacific--I have heard from someone I knew from one of the biggest corporates of United States--is the dumping ground of all the waste of the West. Of course he said it dispassionately(!), in a matter-of-fact tone.
Management of hazardous material is a subject that is being given a serious thought in Europe and America. But the Asia Pacific region is not taking it seriously enough.
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Ninj
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softdev of oz, sci-fi aficionado, connoisseur of fine metal
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Transhumanist under construction.
A master of the dark arts.  A weaver of threads, a composer of wonders, a wordsmith in waiting.


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Contributor to the shapley supercluster article on wikipedia. Cold-blooded killer of innocent computer hardware.
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