23 Aug

links for 2009-08-23

  • "Logitech has launched a new range of laser mice that can work on glass or shiny surfaces. The new mice use two lasers rather than one to work on a variety of previously unusable surfaces." Awesome.
  • "The US army officer convicted for his part in the notorious My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War has offered his first public apology, a US report says. Calley, 66, was convicted on 22 counts of murder for the 1968 massacre of 500 men, women and children in Vietnam. But Calley insisted that he was only following orders, the paper reported. "
  • "The results of this study show that Governor Perdue’s official public prayer for rain on November 13, 2007 was followed by a 132% increase in rainfall from the 48-day period prior to his day of prayer to the 48-day period after his day of prayer. However, no evidence was found for a causal relationship between the prayer and the increase in rain. The Governor did not produce the increase, despite the claims of many that he did! This is clear from comparing the outcome of his day of prayer to the outcomes of nonprayer days. Nonprayer days were likely to be followed by rainfall increases equal to or greater than what followed the Governor’s prayer day approximately 11% of the time for all nonprayer days, 17% of the time for nonprayer days in November, and 50% of the time for nonprayer days preceded by periods of low rainfall. Any belief that the Governor produced an increase in rain by his prayer on November 13, 2007 can be considered to be wishful thinking."
  • "In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has registered it as a disinfectant — a substance that wipes out the entire population of a given micro-organism — for hard surfaces like countertops. The molecule, used in a consumer product called PureGreen 24, can kill off salmonella and listeria in 30 seconds, according to the product label; it needs 10 minutes to eliminate athlete’s foot, the rhinovirus and the Hong Kong flu. In Europe, meanwhile, where regulators have approved silver dihydrogen citrate as an antimicrobial agent for personal care products, Beiersdorf has introduced antiperspirants and deodorants called Nivea for Men Silver Protect."
    (tags: cleaning epa usa)
  • "Google has an outsize image as the deft master of information. Its superior technology seems to pitilessly grind up its rivals. But Google’s domination in search has proved hard for it to match in some information domains. When serving financial news and information, for example, Yahoo draws 17.5 times the traffic of Google, according to comScore Media Metrix." Google's Finance isn't pretty enough.
    (tags: google yahoo)
  • "Simple way to manage your personal todo list in AJAX-style. Written in PHP 5 and jQuery UI. Data stored in SQLite or MySQL database." It rocks.
  • "But atrazine often washes into water supplies and has become among the most common contaminants in American reservoirs and other sources of drinking water. Now, new research suggests that atrazine may be dangerous at lower concentrations than previously thought. Recent studies suggest that, even at concentrations meeting current federal standards, the chemical may be associated with birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems."
  • "Pakistan's Taliban movement has named a new leader, its deputy head Maulvi Faqir Mohammed has told the BBC. He said Hakimullah Mehsud, a close associate of ex-leader Baitullah Mehsud, had been unanimously appointed at a meeting in northern Pakistan. Pakistani and US officials believe Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in early August. However the Taliban continue to insist that he is still alive, despite their decision to appoint a new leader."
  • "Southwest Airlines said Friday that it had finished testing Wi-Fi Internet access on four aircraft and planned to expand the service to all its planes beginning early next year. Southwest said it would continue testing prices for the service through the end of the year." I love Southwest.
  • "What's missing is that there's no category for science, or anything science-related. Which leads to absurdities like a large-ish bar corresponding to "Sports" for Richard Feynman, or "Fashion" for Niels Bohr. You can watch it processing the results, and it completely skips most scientific or science-related terms (like "electron" or "atom" or "physicist"), while assigning others to categories in an essentially random manner ("physics" gets coded as "Education" or sometimes "Medicine"; Feynman's "Sports" bar is largely due to phrases like "winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics"). If you want a graphical illustration of the Two Cultures problem, it's right here. Even though this is a technological art project, from MIT no less, it doesn't occur to the artist that science or science-related subjects ought to included in the range of subject categories for human activities. Science isn't something that normal people do, so there's no need to code for it." There is a flaw.

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