Archive for June 2008
Surely a misuse of the force! My vote would have gone to Leia and Amidala though.
The Phoenix Mars Lander has found what appears to be ice. The implication is that Mars may be able to support life, or may have been able to do so in the past. Their Twitter update reads:
Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!
While looking for travel insurance I came across a company whose policy and legal information booklet states that, if golf cover is included, they will pay a benefit of £100 if you score a hole in one. Seriously! Is this a standard thing?
Cory Doctorow on statistical innumeracy, extremely rare events and civil liberty:
Statisticians speak of something called the Paradox of the False Positive. Here’s how that works: imagine that you’ve got a disease that strikes one in a million people, and a test for the disease that’s 99% accurate. You administer the test to a million people, and it will be positive for around 10,000 of them – because for every hundred people, it will be wrong once (that’s what 99% accurate means). Yet, statistically, we know that there’s [likely to be] only one infected person in the entire sample. That means that your “99% accurate” test is wrong 9,999 times out of 10,000!
And I heartily agree with his suggestion that:
If there’s one thing the government and our educational institutions could do to keep us safer, it’s this: teach us how statistics works. They should drill it into us with the same vigor with which they approached convincing us that property values would rise forever, make it the subject of reality TV shows and infuse every corner of our news and politics with it. Without an adequate grasp of these concepts, no one can ever tell for sure if he or she is safe.
The small print on a replacement Apple 12″ PowerBook, made by FastMac, reads:
Dispose of properly (or mother nature’s gonna whack us all!). This battery contains no
mercury, mars, or venus. Warning: to reduce the risk of fire or burns, avoid Sony or Dell
laptops and do not disassemble, crush, or short the contacts.
JK Rowling gave the 2008 Commencement Address to Harvard graduands and spoke eloquently on the themes of failure, imagination and torture:
Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.