Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Magic Roundabout (Swindon)

As an American used to traffic signals, I'm already wary of driving through a roundabout, but the Magic Roundabout of Swindon looks positively intimidating.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Etymology of "Foo"

RFC 3092 (rfc3092) - Etymology of "Foo"

headsup: the blog: While you're at it? Spell his name wrong

headsup: the blog: While you're at it? Spell his name wrong:
Mm-hmm. For those who don't recall the flap over the 'James Ossuary,' let's just point out that there are some inherent risks in inferring a relationship between inscriptions found in the 20th century and events of the Second Temple era. (The 'Bush/Cheney MMIV' sticker is not a reliable or valid indicator of how the Holy Family voted.) But let's get back the claim in the lede: What about those 'sound statistics'?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Estonia to hold first national Internet election | CNET News.com

Estonia to hold first national Internet election | CNET News.com:
The Baltic state of Estonia plans to become the world's first country to allow voting in a national parliamentary election via the Internet next month--with a little help from the forest king.

Overcoming Bias: Think Frequencies, Not Probabilities

Overcoming Bias: Think Frequencies, Not Probabilities: Apparently Bayesian reasoning is easier for a lot of people (including me) to do if the numbers are expressed as frequencies (8 out of 10 women) instead of probabilities (80% chance).

Bradley Wright's Weblog: Why my papers gets stuck at revision

Bradley Wright's Weblog: Why my papers gets stuck at revision: Includes a nice little chart too.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Strange Maps: East Germany Lives On - As A Tiny Carribean Island

According to Strange Maps, East Germany Lives On - As A Tiny Carribean Island:
Most people think East Germany ceased to exist in 1990, when the (East) German Democratic Republic was absorbed by the Federal Republic of (West) Germany. So did I. Turns out I was wrong: the GDR lives on, and in a very comfortable climate to boot: a small island off Cuba is the last official territory of the good old Deutsche Demokratische Republik.

Friday, February 16, 2007

On the Importance of French

BBC NEWS | Africa | Mauritania pilot outwits hijacker:
The pilot of a hijacked Air Mauritania plane deliberately made a rough landing so passengers and crew could tackle the gunman, Spanish officials say.

He tipped off passengers about the plan after realising the hijacker spoke no French, one official told AP agency.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

DNA Evidence Now Links Etruscan Cattle to Anatolia

More support for the Anatolian hypothesis for the origin of the Etruscan comes in the form of DNA studies on Tuscan cattle. According to a NewScientist.com article, On the origin of the Etruscan civilisation (Feb. 14, 2007):
The team found that almost 60% of the mitochondrial DNA in cows in the central Tuscan region of the country - where the Etruscan civilisation is thought to have arisen - was the same as that in cows from Anatolia and the Middle East. There was little or no genetic convergence between cows from the north and south of Italy and those from Turkey and the Middle East, the researchers say.
This corroborates the human DNA evidence I discussed earlier, Lydia Origin of the Etruscans has new DNA Support (Feb. 7, 2007).

(via rogueclassicism)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More on DC Vote Proposal

Following up on my post, D.C. residents may get vote in Congress - Yahoo! News (Jan. 2, 2007), the Volokh Conspiracy has a post mentioning that a recent report by the Congressional Research Service held that D.C. Vote is probably unconstitutional. So much for the claim in the now gone news article that "Most — but by no means all — scholars say an amendment is unnecessary."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cats or Dogs

Cats or Dogs is a website that asks people to select among various either-or choices, cross-tabulate them, and indicate how much one choice is a predictor of the other.

Some of the predictions are pretty obvious. For example, one of the crosstabs (party vs. politician) concludes (χ2 = 38.8, “extremely significant”):
People who prefer Republicans to Democrats are 4.3 times more likely to prefer Bush to Hillary.

People who prefer Democrats to Republicans are 46.0 times more likely to prefer Hillary to Bush.

Other results are interesting. For example, beer and wine drinkers have different preferences for their color of wine2 = 7.9, “very significant”):
People who prefer wine to beer are 7.5 times more likely to prefer red wine to white wine.

People who prefer beer to wine are 50% more likely to prefer white wine to red wine.

Finally, some results are just bizarre. For example, comparing one’s choice of Star Trek character with one’s preferred byte-order layout yields the following (χ2 = 4.6, “significant”):
People who prefer big endian to little endian are 6.0 times more likely to prefer Tribbles to Klingons.

People who prefer little endian to big endian are 6.0 times more likely to prefer Klingons to Tribbles.

As for the last, PCs are little endian and MACs are big endian, so perhaps this is saying that MAC owners prefer warm and fuzzy things (tribbles), while the PC owners are stuck with the cold pricklies (Klingons)!.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

Lydia Origin of the Etruscans has new DNA Support

Alessandro Achilli et al, Mitochondrial DNA Variation of Modern Tuscans Supports the Near Eastern Origin of Etruscans, Am. J. Hum. Genet. 80 (2007):
The origin of the Etruscan people has been a source of major controversy for the past 2,500 years, and several hypotheses have been proposed to explain their language and sophisticated culture, including an Aegean/Anatolian origin. To address this issue, we analyzed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 322 subjects from three well-defined areas of Tuscany and compared their sequence variation with that of 55 western Eurasian populations. Interpopulation comparisons reveal that the modern population of Murlo, a small town of Etruscan origin, is characterized by an unusually high frequency (17.5%) of Near Eastern mtDNA haplogroups. Each of these haplogroups is represented by different haplotypes, thus dismissing the possibility that the genetic allocation of the Murlo people is due to drift. Other Tuscan populations do not show the same striking feature; however, overall, ∼5% of mtDNA haplotypes in Tuscany are shared exclusively between Tuscans and Near Easterners and occupy terminal positions in the phylogeny. These findings support a direct and rather recent genetic input from the Near East—a scenario in agreement with the Lydian origin of Etruscans. Such a genetic contribution has been extensively diluted by admixture, but it appears that there are still locations in Tuscany, such as Murlo, where traces of its arrival are easily detectable.
Note that this is mitochondrial DNA, which is only passed from mother to child, not from the father.

Other evidence connecting the Etruscans to the Anatolian region includes the Lemnian stele and the hearsay of Herodotus.

(via About Ancient History)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A List Apart: Articles: Multi-Column Layouts Climb Out of the Box

A List Apart: Articles: Multi-Column Layouts Climb Out of the Box

Language Log: The theme of this year's superbowl ads

Language Log: The theme of this year's superbowl ads:
As far as I can tell, what's lingering just below the surface of this year's superbowl ads is Americans' too-long-supressed desire for more linguistics in their life.
He's got the examples to prove (?!) it.

D&D as Religion?

Kay v. Friel, 2007 WL 295556 (D. Utah Jan. 26), has this (unsuccessful) claim for a prisoner's religious freedom:
More importantly, however, Plaintiff has not alleged any facts showing that the items being withheld from him--tarot cards, Dungeons and Dragons game, and metal religious symbol--are necessary to the practice of the Wicca religion.
Someone uses a D&D set to practice their religion???

Monday, February 05, 2007

Yahoo! UI Library: YUI Theater

Yahoo! UI Library: YUI Theater

Carolina On Your Mind?

North Carolinian 79%

Wow!! You are quite knowledgeable about the splendid state of North Carolina!! You have experienced and seen a lot!! You have an appreciation for everything North Carolinian from the spectacular mountain regions to the breath-taking Outer Banks! You are a Tarheel at heart!

Carolina On Your Mind?
Create MySpace Quizzes

I'm actually a Virginian.

Quiz: Do you know the Bible?

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

This quiz has been going around.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Friday, February 02, 2007

Religion Clause: NFL Says Church Super Bowl Parties Violate Copyright Laws

Howard Friedman of Religion Clause notes this article: NFL Says Church Super Bowl Parties Violate Copyright Laws:
Yesterday's Indianapolis Star reports that the NFL is telling churches-- even through demand letters sent by overnight express-- that they will be violating the copyright laws if they host Super Bowl parties on large-screen TV's.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

YouTube - Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth

I love math. In a couple of years, I'll have to be on the watch out for this issue in elementary school mathematics education:

Here's a (supportive) response by an infuriated mathematician: