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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Links - 5th January 2016

MRT API by Kevin Chu - "MRTAPI.com provides live train arrival timings on all platforms in a MRT station in Singapore"

It’s the Law Too — the Laws of Logarithms - "Before pocket calculators—only three decades ago, but in “student years” that’s the age of dinosaurs—the answer was simple. You needed logs to compute most powers and roots with fair accuracy; even multiplying and dividing most numbers were easier with logs. Every decent algebra books had pages and pages of log tables at the back. The invention of logs in the early 1600s fueled the scientific revolution. Back then scientists, astronomers especially, used to spend huge amounts of time crunching numbers on paper. By cutting the time they spent doing arithmetic, logarithms effectively gave them a longer productive life. The slide rule, once almost a cartoon trademark of a scientist, was nothing more than a device built for doing various computations quickly, using logarithms. See Eli Maor’s e: The Story of a Number for more on this."

Uses of the logarithm transformation in regression and forecasting - "There are three kinds of logarithms in standard use: the base-2 logarithm (predominantly used in computer science and music theory), the base-10 logarithm (predominantly used in engineering), and the natural logarithm (predominantly used in mathematics and physics and in economics and business). In the natural log function, the base number is the transcendental number “e” whose deciminal expansion is 2.718282…, so the natural log function and the exponential function (ex) are inverses of each other. The only differences between these three logarithm functions are multiplicative scaling factors, so logically they are equivalent for purposes of modeling, but the choice of base is important for reasons of convenience and convention, according to the setting... Logging a series often has an effect very similar to deflating: it straightens out exponential growth patterns and reduces heteroscedasticity (i.e., stabilizes variance). Logging is therefore a "poor man's deflator" which does not require any external data (or any head-scratching about which price index to use). Logging is not exactly the same as deflating--it does not eliminate an upward trend in the data--but it can straighten the trend out so that it can be better fitted by a linear model. Deflation by itself will not straighten out an exponential growth curve if the growth is partly real and only partly due to inflation."

Adblock Plus wins its 6th court case, brought by Der Spiegel - "Eyeo GmbH, the company that makes Adblock Plus, has been through no fewer than six court cases by publishers who say blocking online ads violates German law. The ad-blocking company has now won all of its cases at the district level, and one case has been through an appeal. Other cases continue through the German appeals courts... Eyeo requires payment from large companies to have their ads white-listed, and it also insists the "acceptable ads" must conform to certain criteria. Typically, the payment is about 30 percent of the revenue generated by Adblock Plus users viewing the acceptable ads. According to Williams, the fact that Eyeo has such a revenue stream is what enables it to take on legal battles that benefit all ad-blockers."

Charges Dropped In Facebook Spy Vs. Spy Case - "The FBI last Friday arrested David Voelkert, 38, largely on the basis of messages the South Bend man recently exchanged with a purported 17-year-old Facebook friend named “Jessica Studebaker.” In fact, the “Studebaker” account was created last month by Voelkert’s ex-wife Angela, 29, in an apparent bid to extract information she could use against him in an ongoing child custody fight... Angela Voelkert sought to use the Facebook exchanges against her ex-husband. In a June 1 Superior Court application for a restraining order against him, Voelkert attached several pages of Facebook messages exchanged between “Studebaker” and David Voelkert. The messages showed her ex-husband telling “Studebaker” about the tracking device, as well as his concern the teenager could “get arrested as an accessory to all this.” Voelkert spent four days in custody until federal prosecutors moved yesterday to drop charges against him. He was freed after proving to investigators that he knew all along that his ex-wife was the one sending him messages from the “Studebaker” account. Voelkert explained that he played along with the ruse so that he could use his ex-spouse’s machinations against her in their custody case. To support this contention, Voelkert provided FBI agents with a May 25 notarized affidavit"

Dear TNP Diehard ... | The New Paper - "In the 80s, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew felt a need for such a newspaper to serve those less inclined to read the more sober broadsheets. The intended audience: Blue collar, the young, the bochap."
Everything in Singapore can be traced to Lee Kuan Yew

Most People Prefer Human Interactions in Customer Service - "Almost half (45 percent) of consumers say they are willing to pay more for goods and services if it ensures a higher level of customer service. Physical or in-store experiences are also highly valued among consumers. Sixty-five percent agree that in-store service is the best channel for getting a tailored experience, and 46 percent say they are more willing to be sold new or upgraded products when receiving service in person than online."

Japan's virgins: Why are 40% of millennials virgins? - "Japanese millennials just aren't having sex. That's according to a government survey published last week, claiming that 42% of men and 44.2% of women -- almost half of Japan's millennial singles aged between 18 to 34 -- are virgins... White Hands, a Tokyo-based non-profit offers regular nude art classes, where mostly middle-aged men sketch naked female models. The classes, complete with textbooks, also try to help people feel more comfortable with their sexuality... White Hands offers a course and textbook on how to graduate from virginity"

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 163 - Gregg Caruso on "Free Will and Moral Responsibility" - "I'm thinking here of a famous essay by the philosopher Thomas Nagel, in which he talks about something called “moral luck,” which is very similar to moral responsibility, and he breaks it down into 4 types.
The first type he calls resultant moral responsibility and this is basically the question of, how do your choices turn out? Which can be a function of things totally beyond your control. If both Bob and Alice drink, become drunk, and then drive, and then a child runs across the road where Bob was driving and Bob ends up killing the child, their choices turned out very differently. That's resultant moral luck at work there.
Then the second category Nagel points at is circumstantial moral responsibility which is getting at the question of, how does your moral responsibility depend on the circumstances in which you find yourself? If Bob and Alice grew up in two different societies or cultures, and Bob's culture has a norm of people drinking a lot in the evenings, then he has much greater opportunity to do something like drive drunk and end up killing a child than Alice does.
Then the third category is constitutive moral responsibility which is getting at the question of how does your character, your personality, your identity determine how morally responsible you are for your choices? Much of that constitution is not under your control. It's determined by things like genetics or the environment you grew up in. Maybe Bob was born with a predisposition towards less self control or he grew up in an environment in which no one really helped him develop that self control, et cetera, and so he's more likely to drive drunk.
Then the final category of moral responsibility is causal and that's basically: if Bob makes a conscious choice to get drunk and then drive can he still be said to be morally responsible for that, given that the universe is determinist? Given that his choice was determined by all the previous states of the universe before that. This is the classic question of free will."

Arthur Chu keeping it classy - "Former Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu isn’t too happy about Donald Trump becoming president. Here is something he tweeted in response to the Trump win:
I hate America, I hate white people, I hate you, personally, and the only motivation I have is to spite you. There’s your healing"

Stanford Students Want Western Civilization Studies Back as the PC Backlash Begins - "In 1988, the Rev. Jesse Jackson—then a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination—joined students at Stanford in chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” With that spectacle, the university promptly dropped required courses in Western Civilization. Fifteen texts—a “core list” that included Plato, Voltaire, St. Augustine, and Marx and Engels—were replaced by a more diverse canon. It was the beginning of a wave of protests against Western culture on college campuses in the 1990s that, today, has seen a resurgence in the form of trigger warnings on syllabi, safe spaces, and policed speech. At Stanford, a backlash against this censorious student culture is taking shape in the form of a petition to reinstate the university’s Western Civilization curriculum."

More Japanese are marrying friends and acquaintances because they don’t want to bother with dating - "many Japanese are choosing to marry friends and acquaintances to save on time and financial commitments that come with dating. Others appear to believe that marrying someone you aren’t dating isn’t just an acceptable last resort, it’s actually better that way, eliminating the emotional exchanges of dating and allowing people to cut straight to the point."

Concerns growing over ‘gaming’ in university rankings - "Universities determined to rise up international rankings are increasingly ‘playing’ the methodology, Shaun Curtis of the University of Exeter in the UK told the “Worldviews 2013” conference last week. One way is to seek support from colleagues in other institutions who are answering rankings questionnaires, and another is to game the data... “I was amazed to see an advert from an Australian university that was looking to employ rankings managers on incredibly high salaries. And why did they want to do that? Basically, you can play the rankings game. “Perhaps a university can rise up the rankings because they have world-class data crunchers.”"

In Praise of Maintenance - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "I started out with the assumption that technological change in the household, mainly the electrification of the households, had reduced women’s labor so much that they could enter the workforce — married women’s labor — and entered the workforce. And it took me about three years to discover that I was wrong. ... there are two components of work and one is time, but the other is what we might call metabolic labor. And most of the new technologies saved metabolic labor... housewives began to spend more time doing their chores. In the standard routine for underwear was that you slept in it and you changed it maybe a couple times a year. So in the modern, let’s say post-WWII standard household, vastly more wash gets done than in any previous time in history."

BBC World Service - The World This Week, The Talking Stops - "Even winning a referendum on paper can be portrayed as a defeat underline divisions in society over which leaders would prefer to draw a veil. Viktor Orban's call for Hungary to reject the EU's refugee quotas was approved by nearly everyone who voted, but a majority of Hungarians stayed at home"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, The Plan for Mosul - "So, Tokyo's budget has gone through the roof, to the surprise of absolutely nobody. No Olympics since 1960 has kept to the original figures, although a 4 fold increase to a figure nudging 30 billion dollars is startling"

BBC World Service - The World This Week, Mosul: The Problem of Victory - "[On the earthquake] Italy, almost more than any other country I've ever worked in, is built on its art, on its legacy of culture. Wherever you go, and you drive around these windy roads, you see villages on hillsides, they'll all have their small churches. Those churches will have frescoes"

Ten Signs You Might Be a Libertarian - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "As much as the Republican Party may turn off some potentially like-minded voters, the same could be said about the Libertarian Party. It has its share of misfits, ideologues and, well, oddballs. At this year’s convention one candidate for party chairman, James Weeks, used his allotted time on stage to perform a striptease. To be fair, the audience didn’t approve. Nor did it approve, however, when during a debate Gary Johnson said it’s a good idea to require a driver’s license for people who want to operate a motor vehicle...
TAYLOR: Libertarians have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy since 1970 promoting their ideas, and yet, there’s no indication that libertarian sentiment in this country is any larger today than it was then. There is no real clear evidence that libertarian ideas are penetrating an academia amongst intellectuals to any greater extent than they ever have been in the past. The reality is that in politics, libertarianism has faced a market test and lost repeatedly. And I think this is an important bit of an information for libertarians who believe in markets and the functionality of markets — to face up to the fact that libertarian ideas have failed two very important market tests: a political market test and an intellectual market test. So either there is something wrong with the salesman of libertarian ideas, or there is something wrong with the product they’re selling, and I suspect that it’s a chunk of both... unfortunately a lot of libertarians are rather dogmatic about their ideas and rather absolutist and that they’re not really necessarily in the persuasion business as much as they might need to be. And they’re more in the “this I shall believe” and “Christ on a cross” kind of business"

Why Are We Still Using Cash? - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "According to a recent report by the Boston Consulting Group and Google, in developed countries, cash “contributed to just 20-25 percent of overall consumer payments.” In India, that number is 78 percent... we interviewed 1,000 Swedes that were a representative sample of the entire population of Sweden. And there, two-thirds said that they think that cash is a human right. So there was very strong sentimental feeling towards cash"

This Is Your Brain on Podcasts - Freakonomics Freakonomics - "One of the problems you have in MRI experiments is oftentimes they are very boring. If you put somebody in an MRI scanner, which is a very uncomfortable place to be, and then you flash a word at them every five seconds for an hour, they get bored out of their skull. These stories are very interesting. You just lie in the magnet. You listen to these people telling these stories. You get lost in the stories. It’s the best MRI experiment ever. And in fact, this is the only MRI experiment we’ve ever done where we didn’t have to pay people to be in the study. They were just happy to lie there and listen to the stories"
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