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Yonatan Zunger
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Yonatan Zunger

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So on the one hand, I think it's an excellent idea for Uber drivers (and other drivers similarly situated) to organize. A free market requires negotiations to be made without undue coercion, and in general, a balance of power between the sides is the best way to avoid that.*

But on the other hand, who exactly thought that a great name for this not-technically-a-union would be "Uber ALLES?" (Apparently, organizer Kevin Lynch, who explained how this is indeed a reference to the German anthem; "We feel we're the 'all,' and we're going to be over Uber eventually.")

Especially in a country where presidential candidates are routinely promising to get rid of all of those dirty immigrants, and where press coverage of political rallies lets us study different outlets' policies on printing phrases like "sieg heil," he may find that this naming scheme may be a little alarming to some of his prospective membership, especially in New York.

* This is why I'm generally in favor of unions; not to be confused with thinking everyone should be in a union, or with thinking that I like every particular union, either. Do not try to read too much into my politics here; they're much more tied to pragmatism than theory, and so it's just nuance and special cases, all the way down. 
Unlike a union, an association of independent contractors does not have the right to collectively bargain.
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+Peter Speckmayer personally I think both the US and UK are extremely glad that Germany is holding Europe together to oppose Russian aggression over Ukraine, and see Germany's patient long term diplomacy in Eastern Europe as vital to securing more peace in Europe. The generosity of Germany's welcome to migrants was also very positively seen in both countries. 

That respect was clear in Obama's recent visit to Angela Merkel  US policy makers want to see both the UK and Germany actively involved in projecting an open, non-nationalist Europe that reinforces the values that got us all out of the desperate poverty and destruction of the nationalism of the 1930s.
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+Randy T I graduated in 1991, got married, founded startup with friends (nobody needs physicists anymore, but a blue ocean for IT guys, huge demand for business systems), many hopes ... 
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There's nothing surprising in this article - thieves generally steal things which they can easily convert to money - but there are a lot of details worth thinking about, including how durable bulk goods like soap and cigarettes end up acting as something between goods and currency.
In fact, the consistent demand for products like soap on the illicit market can make it as good as stealing cash. Tide laundry detergent has widely been reported as a favorite target of drug gangs. In 2013, New York Magazine ran a story that described a Safeway store that lost $10,000 to $15,000 a month to thefts of Tide detergent. 

Products like cigarettes and soap are appealing because they can perform some of the major functions of money. Since there is a consistent demand and market for them, even when they’re not on store shelves, they retain their value. (Unlike an iPod, they never become obsolete.) Since they have standard sizes, they can also be used as a unit of account. You can pay for a candy bar with a few cigarettes, or pay for an old phone with a few packs of cigarettes.

This is something I recall from before, probably from Off the Books, though I generally assume everything I know about the economics of crime comes from there. Physically and socially isolated communities can end up lacking currency. Yes, they lack money as in purchasing power, but they also lack currency re abstract units of storage and account. Lack of jobs and the in-kind structure of welfare cause a shortage of just dollar bills in their more fundamental role as tokens. 
Stealing soap is almost as good as stealing cash.
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In Soviet russia you don't wash the car, the car washes you. 
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The increasing discoveries about Zika are both fascinating and terrifying. Apparently it is not only mosquito-borne, but can be sexually transmitted as well, staying in the semen long after it has cleared the bloodstream; and its effects on the nervous system of adults may be far more widespread than was earlier believed.

It's sort of like living in a live-action version of +Plague Inc.​, and the player just got some very nasty upgrades.
Much of the focus on the Zika virus has been the extent to which Zika can harm fetuses, but recent research is beginning to uncover the many ways this virus impacts nerve function in older children and adults. During this recent outbreak, we've seen people exposed to Zika go on to develop a startling array of neurological disorders. So far there has been one reported instance of acute myelitis (an inflammation of the spinal cord); one of meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and its outer membranes); two of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, or ADEM (a brief but widespread inflammation in the brain and spinal cord), and a number of cases of Guillain-Barré.

We still don't understand the mechanism that causes neurological issues in people exposed to Zika, and research is ongoing. What is troubling about this outbreak is that the virus is not only mosquito-borne, but sexually-transmitted.

The first documented case of sexual transmission of Zika happened in 2008. The transmission was from a man to a woman; they had sex a few days before the man exhibited symptoms.

The first case of sexual transmission associated with the current outbreak was reported in early February in Texas. By late February, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had reported two additional cases of sexual transmission of Zika from men returning from Zika hotspots to their sex partners in the United States. As of March 18, 2016, the CDC has reported three additional cases, for a total of six confirmed cases of sexual transmission in the United States associated with this outbreak.

There have been two reports of Zika isolated from semen at least two weeks after onset of illness. Notably, blood plasma specimens collected at the same time as the semen tested negative for Zika. Another man's semen showed Zika particles 62 days after he experienced symptoms, though his blood by then was negative for the virus. We know that Zika remains in semen long after the virus clears out of the blood, but because we've not had the opportunity to do serial semen collection on those affected, we don't know exactly how long Zika persists in semen.

So far, we only know that semen can transmit Zika through the vagina, anus and mouth. We've seen transmission in heterosexual and gay couples. We don't know if vaginal fluid can transmit Zika yet. The CDC is currently recommending barrier protection during all types of sex, as well as mosquito control.

Zika virus was first discovered in 1947. It is named after the Zika forest in Uganda. At some point between then and 1952, when the first human cases were detected, Zika made its jump to humans. Since then, outbreaks of the virus have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. This piece in the Atlantic discusses Zika's trajectory, as well as the overall problem of a virus that has this type of long-term consequences.

For more information on the sexual transmission of Zika, please refer to the CDC's Interim Guidance for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus — United States, 2016:

It could have lingering physiological, economic, and social consequences.
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The name "Benedict Arnold" is a synonym in American English for "traitor;" the general's defection to the British during the Revolution was a notorious, defining betrayal. But the history of it was considerably more complicated - and, as I'm sure will surprise nobody, the entire history of what actually happened during the Revolution was a lot messier, more foolish, and more venal than any of the simple stories of heroic patriots we were taught in school.

This is part of the story of complex betrayals, of simple greed and intricate revenge, which led to American independence.

In retrospect, it's hard to believe this didn't end in complete disaster. There were few, if any, signs that the thirteen colonies which rebelled were going to end up as anything other than a blood-soaked madhouse; the transition to something resembling a stable state happened only gradually, over the next several decades. Washington's main contribution wasn't, by most accounts, his generalship; it was his definition of what a normal function of government should look like a decade later. Prior to that, we had fellows like Reed, of the Supreme Executive Council of Philadelphia (the sort of name that quite rightly makes modern ears stand on end), who may or may not have been working for the British to sabotage the colonies, and who definitely wasn't working for anything wider than his own schemes of power. You'll hear a great deal about him in this story.

Via +Steven Flaeck​
The story behind the most famous betrayal in U.S. history shows the complicated politics of the nation's earliest days
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+Dennis Clark do you a difference with the current justice system? I don't.
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Back in the late 90's / early 00's, +Matt Bell made a t-shirt for "" — "We're the people that make those things that do that stuff." It was a perfect parody of all the weird companies that were showing up around the later stages of the dot-com boom, with increasingly vague goals and nonsensical business plans.

This startup feels sort of like a blast from the past. It's not something to take as a sign of a bubble, because it seems to be primarily funded by its CEO, a Yale sophomore who is the son of a wealthy venture capitalist. Which is to say, this is simple nepotism, not a case of anyone actually investing their money in this.

But what's absolutely marvelous is that the reporter, after reading through their paperwork, contacting both the company and several members of its "brain trust," and doing various other bits of investigation, can get no idea whatsoever as to what this company does. It's the most extreme case of startup bullshit I've seen in years. It's almost as though someone took a blank template for a company pitch and forgot to fill it in with actual content before putting money into it.

But you'll be glad to know that "Helena is an organization of 30 global influencers who work together to achieve positive global impact. The group collaborates to create breakthrough ideas, then leverages its collective reach, strategic partnerships, and network to make them happen.

No word yet on whether you get fries with that.

via +Sarah Lester.
Last week, I received a PDF presentation about “Helena,” a new startup boasting a 20-year-old Yale student CEO and connections—so they claim—to some of the most powerful and influential people in the world, from Stanley McChrystal to, uh, Selena Gomez. I spent the better part of last week trying to figure out what the company does—and I’ll level with you, man, I’m still not sure.
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Thanh G
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Max Mustermann's profile photoJason Rennie's profile photoAbraham Murray's profile photoAdelaide Dupont's profile photo
+Max Mustermannmaybe the aliens knew that the solar system had only eight planets well before we picked that up!
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From the department of Only in Israel: ten suspects arrested for possession of goats with intent to perform a banned sacrifice.

For context: this sacrifice is banned because it would be performed on the Temple Mount, and would be interpreted by the Muslim population as an open declaration of war. The people arrested know this very well, and mean it as such, which is just a part of why the organization they belong to is banned. (The rest of it has to do with their open advocacy of genocide. Lovely fellows.) 
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+Yonatan Zunger

How did you know that the Nutty almost amusing Joy ® is my all-time favorite chocolate bar?

I'm not so into sweet sweet sweet: too cloying.

Fair and balanced? YIKES. When I hear that phrase? I almost want to own a gun, if I could ever learn how to hold one...

I don't know much, but I do know this:

The things we like best? Most of us revile the saccharin-sweet. Our favorite foods? They're not, generally speaking, the most balanced.

We don't, us humans, even care so much about fair, in the final analysis.

What we do want?

To be fulfilled.

{trust me, I'm a cook}

The abyss, by the by? Ain't got nothin' on you.

True, it may stare back. Nifty parlor trick, but insubstantial: smoke and mirrors.

You? Look a person straight in the eyes.

This is quite a gift from any human being, let alone a communicator. And moreso, that you can do this with your eyes closed just as easily.


Cheers, and thanks for all the fish.


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While the title of this article may be a bit alarming, it's actually about some very positive developments. Today, underwater drilling rigs are inspected by people in individual submarines. But with new advances in swimming robots, derived from studying animal locomotion - in this case, sea snakes - it's become possible to create fleets of swimming robot cameras which can monitor sensitive underwater sites continuously. This means much better and earlier awareness of problems, which can prevent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon. Applied to scientific (rather than engineering) sites, it could mean ways to study underwater ecosystems continuously, without disturbing them.

That said, there's something pretty cool about having a pit of robot sea snakes in its own right. It may even be able to compete with sharks with friggin' laser beams. (Sorry, +Bruce Shark​) 
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Cool, thanks for the post
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An odd bit of history for your day: in 1933, the FBI investigated a plot by American Jewish gangsters to assassinate Hitler. It is unclear whether or not the plot was real, but the FBI had no shortage of sources - mostly Nazi sympathizers - telling them where to look. 
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+Rob Crabaugh​ my sic buddy what?
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As a reminder of why search-and-replace can be a dangerous tool, and in honor of both Her Majesty's 90th birthday and her 32,000th viable brood, I present you with this classic bit of science knowledge.

(Details of the typo at ; thanks to Ed Yong for the find)
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+Andreas Geisler there are a rather gorgeous set of quasi-historical novels called "The Flashman Papers", following the fortunes of the caddish bully from "Tom Brown's Schooldays" as a professional Victorian soldier, liar, cheat and villain The author is Scottish and despises the English, and does a delightful job of it ;-)
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Further in the why corvids are cool department: a 2014 study showed that brain volume was the best predictor of how well an animal would do on a certain kind of temporal reasoning test, with 36 species from chimpanzees to elephants to dogs to sparrows all competing. (Dietary breadth turned out to be the second-best predictor, and social group size not at all, which is pretty interesting as well)

A new study out today shows that this isn't a universal rule at all: when you add corvids to the mix, bird brains prove as flexible as the great apes. Jackdaws performed on a par with gorillas, while crows and ravens pegged the test at a perfect score, tied with chimpanzees. 

This continues a string of results showing that the corvids have exceptionally complex minds, despite being wired in a completely different way from our own. Apparently there are multiple different ways for brains to function.

You can read the full text of both papers online; the 2014 paper is at , while the new 2016 paper is at .

h/t +Annalee Newitz.
Ravens score just as high as big-brained chimps on cognitive tests.
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Doubt it. Compare wild turkeys with domestic ones, for instance.
I've read that the need for mental mapping is a powerful builder of brain power. A species that caches its food, or needs to remember where sources are and when they will be ready for consumption, makes such maps. Corvids, squirrels, hunter-gatherer humans...
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  • Stanford University
    Ph. D., Physics, 2003
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
    B. A., Mathematics, Physics, 1997
Basic Information
Chief Architect of Ambient Computing, Google
Lots of people ask me what my job title means. I'm the senior engineer on the Google+ team, and my primary responsibility is to oversee and guide the technical design of Google+ and all of the things related to it. In practice, I'm also involved in lots of non-technical issues as well: my job is to make Google as fun, exciting, social, and pleasant a place to be as it can possibly be.

(I've been at Google since 2003, but you probably haven't seen me before this, because I worked deep in the back end: planet-scale storage, very large-scale search, ranking, and so on. Lots of teams whose unofficial motto is "if we told you, we'd have to kill you" -- as opposed to Google+, where we get to go out and talk and interact with our users.)

For those who just came here, welcome to the Google+ Project. It's something that we're all very passionate about, and which (as its name indicates) is going to continue to develop and improve at what we hope is an amazing rate. I'm avidly interested in hearing user feedback, and while I can't guarantee that I'll have time to respond to all of it, it will most certainly be listened to.

And the obligatory (very important!) disclaimer: I'm not on this system as an official representative. While I'm listening to user feedback and interacting about the system, I'm also here for perfectly ordinary social networking purposes. If I am saying something official on behalf of Google, I will make that explicitly clear; anything else that I say here is not the position of Google, or of anyone other than myself.

In fact, most of what I post about has nothing to do with CS at all. If you want a taste of it, take a look at my blog.
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