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Mapping Ancient Germania: Berlin Researchers Crack the Ptolemy Code

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 16:41 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

A group of classical philologists, mathematical historians and surveying experts at Berlin Technical University’s Department for Geodesy and Geoinformation Science has produced an astonishing map of central Europe as it was 2,000 years ago.

The map shows that both the North and Baltic Seas were known as the "Germanic Ocean" and the Franconian Forest in northern Bavaria was "Sudeti Montes." The map indicates three "Saxons’ islands" off the Frisian coast in northwestern Germany — known today as Amrum, Föhr and Sylt.

It also shows a large number of cities. The eastern German city that is now called Jena, for example, was called "Bicurgium," while Essen was "Navalia." Even the town of Fürstenwalde in eastern Germany appears to have existed 2,000 years ago. Its name then was "Susudata," a word derived from the Germanic term "susutin," or "sow’s wallow" — suggesting that the city’s skyline was perhaps less than imposing.

This unusual map draws on information from the mathematician and astronomer Ptolemy, who, in 150 AD, embarked on a project to depict the entire known world. Living in Alexandria, in the shadow of its monumental lighthouse, the ancient scholar drew 26 maps in colored ink on dried animal skins — a Google Earth of the ancient world, if you will.


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How a Trading Algorithm Went Awry

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 16:40 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

The eagerly awaited report on the causes of the May 6 "flash crash" portrayed a market so fragmented and fragile that a single large trade could send stocks into a sudden spiral.

The report, released by federal regulators on Friday, went further than many in the market had expected by pinpointing one trade by a mutual-fund company as a key contributing factor to the market’s plunge.

Regulators say that the firm— which was Overland Park, Kan.-based Waddell & Reed Financial Inc., according to people familiar with the trading—chose to sell a big number of futures contracts using a computer program that essentially ended up wiping out available buyers in the market.

[..]

As the Waddell trade hit the futures markets, the joint report said, the likely buyers included high-frequency trading firms. A key feature of high-frequency trading firms is that they quickly exit trades and, by 2:41, they were also aggressively selling the E-mini contracts they had bought from Waddell, which was still trying to sell the remainder of its contracts.

Meanwhile, long-term buyers were out of the market in the midst of the selloff.

“HFTs began to quickly buy and then resell contracts to each other—generating a ‘hot-potato’ volume effect as the same positions were passed rapidly back and forth,” the report says. At one point, HFTs traded more than 27,000 contracts in just 14 seconds—a huge amount.

The Waddell algorithm responded to the high volume by picking up the pace of its selling, even though stocks were spiraling lower.

This feedback loop of selling by Waddell, high-frequency traders and others helped drive the E-mini price down 3% in just four minutes.

The report cited this episode as a “key lesson” of the report: “Especially in times of significant volatility, high trading volume is not necessarily a reliable indicator of market liquidity.”


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Almost Sorry

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 16:20 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

[Quote]:

The religious right points to the suicide rate among gay teenagers—which the religious right works so hard to drive up—as evidence that the gay lifestyle is destructive. It’s like intentionally running someone down with your car and then claiming that it isn’t safe to walk the streets.


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The English Language In 24 Accents

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 15:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


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iPad spends 20% of time in bed

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 11:40 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

[Quote]:

Among the interesting stats turned up by a new study of iPad usage is that 20 per cent of users’ iPad time is spent in bed.”

That nugget was buried in a blog post by Stephen Baker, the NPD Group’s VP of industry analysis, discussing his research group’s just-released “iPad Owner Study.”

“It is obvious that the iPad form factor makes people feel warm and cuddly,” writes Baker.

Considering that a recent Nielsen survey discovered that 63 per cent of iPad owners are under 35 — significantly younger than owners of an Amazon Kindle or the study’s representative netbook — we can only hope that a goodly chunk of that iPad bedtime time is spent with apps such as Naim Cesur’s iKamasutra XL or an iBooks download of Violet Blue’s Lust.


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Carter: 1970s saw a Tea Party-like wave – USATODAY.com

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 11:32 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Surely our government will, once again, be as good, honest and competent as the American people.

— Former President Carter.

I think, Mr President, that it would be wise to aim a bit higher than that.


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Bank of America Delays Foreclosures in 23 States

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 11:13 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

[Quote]:

Bank of America is delaying foreclosures in 23 states as it examines whether it rushed the foreclosure process for thousands of homeowners without reading the documents.

The move adds the nation’s largest bank to a growing list of mortgage companies whose employees signed documents in foreclosure cases without verifying the information in them


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Google Translate’s “Lorem Ipsum” Easter Egg

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 11:12 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Google Translate now supports Latin, and I think they slipped in a
joke. They knew that the first chunk of text anyone would try is some standard “lorem ipsum” text. Doing that, the first words are translated as “Hello World!”


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Cartoons

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 10:49 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon


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Ig Nobel awards go to slime mould and fruity bats

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 10:39 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote]:

Britain has once again proved a country to be reckoned with in science after landing a national record four wins at the annual Ig Nobel awards ceremony at Harvard University.

Researchers from across the UK were honoured for achievements that included proof that swearing relieves pain, a means of collecting whale snot with a remote-controlled helicopter and the first documented case of fellatio in fruit bats.


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Why Johnny Can’t Program: A New Medium Requires A New Literacy

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 10:36 by John Sinteur in category: Software

[Quote]:

Ask any kid what Facebook is for and he’ll tell you it’s there to help him make friends. What else could he think? It’s how he *does* make friends. He has no idea the real purpose of the software, and the people coding it, is to monetize his relationships. He isn’t even aware of those people, the program, or their purpose.

[..]

Just last year, while researching a book on America’s digital illiteracy, I met with the Air Force General then in charge of America’s cybercommand. He said he had plenty of new recruits ready and able to operate drones or other virtual fighting machines – but no one capable of programming them, or even interested in learning how. He wasn’t even getting recruits who were ready to begin basic programming classes. Meanwhile, he explained to me, colleges in Russia, China, and even Iran were churning out an order of magnitude more programmers than universities in the US. It is only a matter of time, he said – a generation at most – until our military loses its digital superiority.


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Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Android

Posted on October 2nd, 2010 at 9:27 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft

[Quote]:

So Microsoft’s stance is that handset makers can use Windows Phone 7 and pay Microsoft, or they can use Android and pay Microsoft.

In related news, October 11 they’ll introduce the first Windows Phone 7 devices, which will go for sale 4 weeks later..


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