Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mental Floss: Don't "Chai" and "Tea" Both Mean the Same Thing?

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Don't "Chai" and "Tea" Both Mean the Same Thing?
by Haley Sweetland Edwards

Almost 5,000 years ago, when folks in China started sipping a yummy, steeped beverage made from dried leaves and buds, different regions had different names for it. Most Chinese languages, including Mandarin and Cantonese, referred to the stuff by a word that is pronounced like “chá.” But other dialects, including Min Nan Chinese, which was spoken around Fujian, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan, referred to it by a word that sounds more like "te."

Fascinating article about the origin of the word "tea". And the fact that "chai" technically has nothing to do with "flavored with milk and Indian spices".

h/t The Devil's Panties:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

I'm too nerdy for my survey

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I get small surveys all the time from a variety of apps that I run. Today I got one that read:
What's your favorite bird of prey?
  • Buzzard
  • Caracara
  • Eagle
  • Falcon
  • Hawk
  • Kite
  • Osprey
  • Owl
  • Vulture

I took one look at the question, and before I saw any of the choices, my first thought was "Klingon".

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pamela Geller: JDL Facebook page pulled for 'raised fist' logo: Only 'hate speech' when Jews use it?

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JDL Facebook page pulled for 'raised fist' logo: Only 'hate speech' when Jews use it?
By Pamela Geller - on February 20, 2014

For the second time in a month, Facebook took down the page of the Jewish Defence League of Canada, citing its “community standards” policy on “dangerous organizations.”The social media giant removed the JDL’s Facebook page earlier this month.

The JDL believed it was because of its well-known logo, a raised fist silhouetted on a yellow Star of David.

Within days, the JDL put up a new page, with a new logo.

But on Feb. 15, Facebook took down that page, too.

Also taken down on Feb. 15 was the public group page “Jewish Defence League of Canada."

Both JDL pages "are not allowed to be on Facebook, so they were correctly removed," Facebook spokesperson Meg Sinclair told The CJN via email.

She sent a link to Facebook’s "community standards" and its section on "dangerous organizations," which states that it does not allow "any organizations that are engaged in the following to have a presence on Facebook: terrorist activity, or organized criminal activity."

So now it's official. Facebook believes that Jews have no right to defend themselves against antisemitism, and organizations that disagree are to be branded "terrorist" or "organized crime" and are to be banned from Facebook.

I am so so so glad I deleted my Facebook account years ago. Every time I read something new about them, it makes me even more disgusted.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Jerusalem Post: How a pro-Palestinian American reporter changed his views on Israel and the conflict

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How a pro-Palestinian American reporter changed his views on Israel and the conflict
By Hunter Stuart - February 15, 2017 12:17

A year working as a journalist in Israel and the Palestinian territories made Hunter Stuart rethink his positions on the conflict.

IN THE summer of 2015, just three days after I moved to Israel for a year-and-a-half stint freelance reporting in the region, I wrote down my feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A friend of mine in New York had mentioned that it would be interesting to see if living in Israel would change the way I felt. My friend probably suspected that things would look differently from the front-row seat, so to speak.

Boy was he right.

A great article. Every liberal in America should read this and realize that their opinions on Israel are the product of propaganda, not reality.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sean Carroll: Entropy and Complexity, Cause and Effect, Life and Time

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Entropy and Complexity, Cause and Effect, Life and Time
Posted on November 3, 2016 by Sean Carroll

... I had a very fun collaboration with Henry Reich, the wizard behind the Minute Physics videos. Henry and I have known each other for a while, and I previously joined forces with him to talk about dark energy and the arrow of time.

This time, we made a series of five videos (sponsored by Google and Audible.com) based on sections of The Big Picture. In particular, we focused on the thread connecting the arrow of time and entropy to such everyday notions of cause and effect and the appearance of complex structures, ending with the origin of life and how low-entropy energy from the Sun powers the biosphere here on Earth. Henry and I wrote the scripts together, based on the book; I read the narration, and of course he did the art.

Enjoy!

Please click through to the original article and watch the videos. Each one is about 3 minutes long and is easy to understand even without any scientific background.

Monday, January 16, 2017

NIH: Hard water is good for you

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775162/
Pallav Sengupta, 2013 Aug; 4

In the past five decades or so evidence has been accumulating about an environmental factor, which appears to be influencing mortality, in particular, cardiovascular mortality, and this is the hardness of the drinking water. ...

Hard water has no known adverse health effect, WHO says at its Geneva Conference. In addition, hard water, particularly very hard water, could provide an important supplementary contribution to total calcium and magnesium intake. ...

In most large-scale studies, an inverse relationship between the hardness of drinking-water and cardiovascular disease has been reported. ...

Important findings in this field were provided recently by Taiwanese scientists. In most of their studies, the authors indicated a negative statistical association of various types of cancer morbidity/mortality with the hardness of water and calcium. ...

For years, I've been (jokingly) telling people that I drink tap water because "calcium and iron are good for you". Apparently, there are studies that back this up.

Read the full article for all the details. The upshot of it is that although additional study is needed, it seems that hard water is either beneficial to health or has no impact, depending the health aspect in question.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Light Reading: AT&T, Ericsson & Qualcomm Get Ready to Test 5G Radio in 2017

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AT&T, Ericsson & Qualcomm Get Ready to Test 5G Radio in 2017
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor. 1/4/2017

AT&T, Ericsson, and Qualcomm say that they are getting ready to test the initial 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) specification in the second half of 2017.

The trio are preparing to test high-band frequencies for next-generation 5G technology, which should deliver "multi-gigabit Internet service" over the air. For the average Jane or Joe Blow on the street, this would mean an HD film downloaded wirelessly to their phone. Mobile 5G services are expected to arrive around 2020. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), however, are trying to push out fixed 5G wireless before that, with friendly trials expected this year. (See 5G in US: Will Spectrum Be the Speed Bump?)

Although 5G consumer services are still several years away, I'm glad to read that the big players in the business are far enough along that they will be conducting trials later this year.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Nib: Jack Chick Goes to Heaven

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Jack Chick Goes to Heaven
by The Nib. Posted October 27th, 2016

The Christian cartoonist who tried to save us all from the fires of hell died Sunday. Here's our send off in the style of his famous comic tracts.

Although the news is from October, I just heard about it now. I would never wish death on someone, but I'm very glad Jack Chick will never write another of his hate-tracts. All throughout college, various Christian fundamentalists would distribute "Chick Tracts" across campus. These comics accuse everybody and everything of being in league with Satan. They attack Jews, Muslims, Catholics, pagans, video games, rock music, role-playing games, pop culture, politicians (of all parties) and even other evangelical Christian groups. Anyone not 100% into his insane paranoid theology is declared evil and must be harassed ('scuze me, "witnessed") into submission - all for his own good, of course.

As someone who was frequently harassed by missionaries, who were using these comics as "proof" of their moral obligation to be offensive, I'm glad he's gone. Hopefully the rest of his organization will also go away.

The send-off by The Nib is a good parody of these comics and is an appropriate memorial.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Nerdist: All of ROGUE ONE’s Many STAR WARS Easter Eggs

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All of ROGUE ONE’s Many STAR WARS Easter Eggs
Posted by Joan Ford on December 19, 2016

Warning: The following contains a few significant spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Despite being billed as a "standalone" Star Wars story Rogue One turned out to be anything but. The movie had so many connections to the originals, the prequels, and even the cartoons, that viewers might feel the need to crack open a Wookieepedia to fully understand everything that’s going on. Luckily we’ve done a lot of the homework for you, and have taken it upon ourselves to break down some of Rogue One's best Easter eggs right here.

A great summary of references to other Star Wars productions, but please don't read the whole article or watch its accompanying video until after you've seen the movie, since it is packed full of spoilers.

And for those of you unfamiliar with the reference, Wookiepedia is a real web site dedicated to archiving all that can be known about the Star Wars universe.

Monday, December 19, 2016

New York Times: The Great A.I. Awakening

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The Great A.I. Awakening
By Gideon Lewis-Kraus.

How Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, one of its more popular services — and how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself.

A great article about Google's recent AI research and how it is now driving their Translate service.