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Ketil Malde
Works at Institute of Marine Research, Norway
Lives in bouvet island
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Ketil Malde

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There must be some important reason why Google insists on polluting my calendar with the birthdays of everybody I "know" in Google+.  I understand that this is a convenient feature, but who decided that the checkbox to include "Birthdays" should be grayed out, and thus impossible to uncheck?

The only function this checkbox now serves is to emphasize the fact that I don't control my calendars, Google does - and of course, that Google is willing and able to use this power.  Makes you wonder how Google managed to culture the perception that they hire /smart/ people.

I have more or less dropped out of G+, partly due to  flow of inconveniences caused by interface "improvements", but apparently, I need to delete my profile and/or remove people from my circles to keep using my calendar in peace.  Sigh.

Not being evil isn't sufficient, I'm afraid.
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Jepp :-) 4.4.4 er versjonen
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It'll be interesting to see how Apple Pay works out.  Apparently, they are locking down the NFC chip to only this app (so apparently touching your phone to your headphones to connect is a luxury Apple won't offer their customers - yet, at least), so they want to keep things proprietary.

I always thought NFC and payments was a huge missed opportunity for Google, PayPal, and Samsung - they could have owned transactions by now, and provided privacy, security and accountability.  Perhaps the real question is whether Apple Pay will be available for other platforms as well?  I.e. is this just another feature to sell phones, or is Apple wanting to take over the - for lack of a better word - payment industry on a larger scale?
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Congratulations, Europe!  Clearly, no challenge is too big for this proud collaboration of nations. (Given, of course, that the Americans have done it already, twenty years earlier.)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/08/22/galileo_is_go_european_gps_system_will_go_live_for_all_promised_for_2017/
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
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This is remarkable, IMHO.

Issuing a “warning” – such as Israel’s so-called roof knocking technique, or sending an SMS five minutes before the attack – does not mitigate this: it remains illegal to wilfully attack a civilian home without a demonstration of military necessity as it amounts to a violation of the principle of proportionality. Moreover, not only are these “warnings” generally ineffective, and can even result in further fatalities, they appear to be a pre-fabricated excuse by Israel to portray people who remain in their homes as “human shields.”

So international law experts and the UN is condemning the warning of civilians of imminent attacks.  Would they seriously suggest Israel change this practice?

I'd also be interested in numbers to back up that it is not effective.  AFAICT, there's roughly one deaths for each ten Isreali strikes.  Seems to me that either Israel is striking very, very few houses or densely populated area, or the Gazans are good at avoiding the bombs.  How does this compare to e.g. the NATO/US bombing of Baghdad?
The statement came as the death toll from Israel’s three weeks of bombing reached 1,088 on the first day of a somber Eid al-Fitr.
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With an API and everything, surely there's some alternative/native client software for G+?  Google's web interface is pretty horrid, and I'm just tired trying to band-aid it into readability with CSS, and there's really no way I can fix the fucked-up ordering of posts or effectively search content or anything. I'm tempted to just give it up - but there's some interesting people posting and discussing a lot of good stuff. I would have bet good money that there would at least be a client for Emacs, but a quick Google didn't show up anything useful.  Suggestions?

https://developers.google.com/+/api/
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Ketil Malde

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XKCD is just amazing, sometimes.  Where does he get the ideas?  So, for interracial marriages, legislation was 40-50 years ahead of the population, for same-sex marriage, it is now trailing the population.

How did that happen?
Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors). BTC 1FhCLQK2ZXtCUQDtG98p6fVH7S6mxAsEey ...
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Less 'legislating from the bench' these days, in part because of things like interracial marriage. You don't get a discontinuity like 1967 from a single state...
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"Electric bacteria, however, have done away with sugary middlemen."

So they don't have the Krebs cycle?  Or maybe somebody should consider a name change to "I fucking love virtual quantum plasma"?  Is there a non-kindergarten description of what this is about?
When we eat, our cells break down sugars, while their excess electrons flow through a series of chemical reactions until they’re passed onto oxygen. This process generates the energy molecule ATP, vital to nearly all living things. "Life's very clever,” Kenneth Nealson from the University of Southern California says.
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What's up with the civilian men killed in Gaza?

Looking at the numbers, there are now about 300 killed, one site claimed 71 children and 25 women.  UN says 75% (or sometimes 80) civilians among the dead.  Now, looking at the numbers, median age is 15, so we can work out the probabilities of getting killed.  Assuming two million inhabitants, and 50/25/25 for children, women, and men:

 * children: 71/1M ~ 0.007%
 * women: 25/0.5M ~ 0.005%
 * men: 200/0.5M ~ 0.040%

So if you're a man, the probability of being killed is eight times higher than for women.  We don't know the proportion of militants in the population, but assuming the 25% non-civilians are all men, we can subtract them, and get:

 * civilian men: 125/0.5M ~ 0.025

Still five times higher.  So what gives?  I can think of a few hypotheses, but I'll let you suggest some - please also link to evidence for or against.
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I also did a quick look at the numbers of wounded - the numbers are a bit outdated now, but before the ground incursion, it was 2230  wounded, 640 children, and 400 women - giving risks (relative to population) of 0.06% for children, 0.08% for women, and 0.24% for men.

So eleven to twelve wounded for each killed - except for men, which have three times the women's risk of being wounded, but eight times the risk of being killed.

Basically, I expect this boils down to targets more often being killed than bystanders, and men being more often targeted - either because they are fighting, or because they are acting as human shields.

(I'm surprised by the high number of civilians, women and children reported from the ground fighting in Shujai'iya  - I'd expect ground forces to be more discriminate than air strikes especially when there was a lot of resistance, and that most civilians would be long evacuated from .  Apparenly, many chose to stay.)
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I could swear this table says that in fifteen years, Apophis - an asteroid big enough to have a name - will pass by us within a tenth of the distance between us and the moon.  Which I make out to be roughly in the orbit of geostationary satellites.

Somebody please tell me that I'm wrong?
We are the official body that deals with astrometric observations and orbits of minor planets (asteroids) and comets.
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There was also this talk (I'd post the link, but it was on a social network and is thus not searchable) about ten things that could wipe us out entirely - asteroid impact was pretty high on the list, and likelihood of death by impact was about the same as likelihood of death by airplane accident.

The take-home message was that we should consider doing more (we - or rather, the US - spend almost no resources on this, compared to what? about two trillion dollars? on the war on terror - which killed three thousand people thirteen years ago) to chart asteroids, and prepare for action.

And it would be tragically ironic if, after all the commotion about climate change, a meteorite hits us in 2050 and wipes out half the ecosystem and starts a new ice age...
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Noen andre som får assosiasjoner til da amerikanerne forlot Saigon?
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Gjør du en vanskelig jobb for flokken, så blir du ikke latt i stikken. Derfor er afghanere som har tjenestegjort for norske styrker vårt ansvar.
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Quick experiment.  Note, I haven't read the book, but I gather that the thesis is that capital is more profitable than work, and that this increases inequality by making the already rich disproportionately richer.

I took gini indices from this list (before taxes), which contains some historical gini estimates:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality

I find that a) in 40 cases, the later gini index was lower (i.e. more equal) than its predecessor.  In 72 cases, it was higher.  For six countires, the gini index had decreased (from first to latest estimate), for 23, it had increased.

So there seems to be some support, at least for rising inequality.  Much of this seems to be caused by some countries (including the UK) having a very low gini index in the seventies.  Also interesting to see the effect of taxes - for the Scandinavian countries, the difference before and after taxes is much larger than between equal and unequal countries.
 
One final point. I'm all in favor of journalists challenging economists's claims. And I think Giles has done admirable work digging into Piketty's Excel sheets when nobody else did. But throughout this, Giles has assumed the worst without waiting for a full response. For example, he points out that, for the U.S., Piketty takes the top 1 percent's wealth share and adds two to it in 1970. But without knowing anything about why Piketty makes this adjustment, Giles tells us that the numbers "didn't seem to fit what [Piketty] wanted to show, so he just added two to it." That's over the top innuendo.
In the end, he's done what he accused Piketty of: making claims that the data don't support.
After the Financial Times alleged that they found errors in his book "Capital," Piketty responds
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I recommend reading the book. His conclusions are based on a large collection of time series from a lot of countries. In case of France and Britain the data goes back to eighteenth century.
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