company of three, black peppermint tea

Month: August, 2012


by cloudier

What Makes Online Content Viral?

Importantly, however, our findings also reveal that virality is driven by more than just valence. Sadness, anger, and anxiety are all negative emotions, but while sadder content is less viral, content that evokes more anxiety or anger is actually more viral. These findings are consistent with our hypothesis about how arousal shapes social transmission. Positive and negative emotions characterized by activation or arousal (i.e., awe, anxiety, and anger) are positively linked to virality, while emotions characterized by deactivation (i.e., sadness) are negatively linked to virality. More broadly, our results suggest that while external drivers of attention (e.g., being prominently featured) shape what becomes viral, content characteristics are of similar importance (see Figure 2). For example, a one-standard deviation increase in the amount of anger an article evokes increases the odds that it will make the most e-mailed list by 34% (Table 4, Model 4). This increase is equivalent to spending an additional 2.9 hours as the lead story on the New York Times website

Drowning doesn’t look like drowning

How did this captain know, from fifty feet away, what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

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by cloudier


Is your browser configuration rare or unique? If so, web sites may be able to track you, even if you limit or disable cookies.

Panopticlick tests your browser to see how unique it is based on the information it will share with sites it visits. Click below and you will be given a uniqueness score, letting you see how easily identifiable you might be as you surf the web.

What are some claims by Malcolm Gladwell that are incorrect?

  • Thinks that “Igon Values” exist (he means “eigenvalue”, but he doesn’t know it) [2].
  • More generally, he tends to misuse and misdefine technical terms – e.g., “homology” [3], “sagittal plane” [4], and “power law” [5].
  • He has also famously discussed Paul Ekman and the science of being able to determine whether someone is lying by looking at snapshots of their face – this is a major part of the book Blink. Unfortunately, it all seems to be false [7].
  • That 10,000 hours of practice will turn you into a genius on the order of Mozart or Michael Jordan [8].
  • More generally, Gladwell’s methodology seems to be to oversimplify problems until he can wrap them up with a tidy, attractive-sounding, and pseudo-scientific explanation [9].
  • It’s also not true “that cognitive skills don’t predict a teacher’s effectiveness, that intelligence scores are poorly related to job performance or (the major claim in “Outliers”) that above a minimum I.Q. of 120, higher intelligence does not bring greater intellectual achievements.” [11]

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by cloudier

Ortolan Bunting

For centuries, a rite of passage for French gourmets has been the eating of the Ortolan. These tiny birds—captured alive, force-fed, then drowned in Armagnac—were roasted whole and eaten that way, bones and all, while the diner draped his head with a linen napkin to preserve the precious aromas and, some believe, to hide from God.

64% of all Microsoft vulnerabilities for 2009 mitigated by Least Privilege accounts

  • Cybercrime is not driven by the use of zero day flaws, but by the millions of people using the Internet with outdated software – It’s a simple fact that has so far contributed to the rise and rise of some of the most prolific botnets, and outdated flaws within popular applications remain the main vehicle for Zeus crimeware infections. Naturally, there are campaigns that exclusively rely on recently published flaws, but the window of opportunity offered by those would be closed sooner than the one of all the outdated applications running on the same PC, combined. It’s the cybercriminal’s mentality of traffic optimization for malicious purposes, (See example: Money Mule Recruitment Campaign Serving Adobe/Client-Side Exploits), that offers the highest probability of infection.
  • Microsoft OS/software specific vulnerabilities are only a part of the drive-by exploits cocktail served by web malware exploitation kits – You would be surprised to know how many people are so obsessed with “Patch Tuesday” that they exclude the decent number of outdated browser plugins and third-party software installed on their PCs. The result? A false feeling of security, which combined with an outdated situational awareness on how modern web malware exploitation kits work, leads to a successful drive-by attack. It shouldn’t come to as a surprise that, not only did malicious PDF files comprise 80 percent of all exploits for 2009, but also, the use of Microsoft Office files for targeted attacks is declining. Two years ago, Microsoft in fact confirmed this trend – Microsoft: Third party apps killing our security.

Malicious PDF files comprised 80 percent of all exploits for 2009

Therefore, the increasing use of malicious PDFs can also be interpreted as the direct result of the millions of users using outdated and exploitable Adobe products, with the only preference a malicious attacker could have in this case remaining the incentive based on the 99% penetration of Adobe Flash on Internet-enabled PCs. But how is the possible that with such a high market share, ScanSafe’s report shows that Adobe Acrobat/Reader exploits grew while the use of Flash exploits declined?

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by cloudier

Olive oil food fraud

Olive oil is far from being the only commonly adulterated food finding its way into British supermarkets. A British trading standards officer said last month that “criminals are moving away from drug offences to counterfeiting [food ingredients], because they are looking at severely reduced jail times. You are looking at 10 years plus for drugs, whereas it’s half that for counterfeiting.” This echoes what one EU investigator told Tom Mueller: “Profits [in olive oil fraud] were comparable to cocaine trafficking, with none of the risks.”

Appendix isn’t useless at all

“While there is no smoking gun, the abundance of circumstantial evidence makes a strong case for the role of the appendix as a place where the good bacteria can live safe and undisturbed until they are needed,” said William Parker, Ph.D., assistant professor of experimental surgery, who conducted the analysis in collaboration with R. Randal Bollinger, M.D., Ph.D., Duke professor emeritus in general surgery.

“Diseases causing severe diarrhea are endemic in countries without modern health and sanitation practices, which often results in the entire contents of the bowels, including the biofilms, being flushed from the body,” Parker said. He added that the appendix’s location and position is such that it is expected to be relatively difficult for anything to enter it as the contents of the bowels are emptied.

“Once the bowel contents have left the body, the good bacteria hidden away in the appendix can emerge and repopulate the lining of the intestine before more harmful bacteria can take up residence,” Parker continued. “In industrialized societies with modern medical care and sanitation practices, the maintenance of a reserve of beneficial bacteria may not be necessary. This is consistent with the observation that removing the appendix in modern societies has no discernable negative effects.”

Several decades ago, scientists suggested that people in industrialized societies might have such a high rate of appendicitis because of the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” Parker said. This hypothesis posits that people in “hygienic” societies have higher rates of allergy and perhaps autoimmune disease because they — and hence their immune systems — have not been as challenged during everyday life by the host of parasites or other disease-causing organisms commonly found in the environment. So when these immune systems are challenged, they can over-react.

“This over-reactive immune system may lead to the inflammation associated with appendicitis and could lead to the obstruction of the intestines that causes acute appendicitis,” Parker said. “Thus, our modern health care and sanitation practices may account not only for the lack of a need for an appendix in our society, but also for much of the problems caused by the appendix in our society.”

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by cloudier

Experienced teachers face skills tests

MORE than half the state’s public school teachers may become subject to the same rigorous standards and testing used to assess and train new teachers, under NSW government proposals to improve teacher quality.

Teachers who entered the profession before 2004 have been allowed to progress through the salary scales based on tenure, with no requirement for them to demonstrate any improvement or upkeep of their professional skills.

Introducing an education discussion paper yesterday, the NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, said: ”Moving the teaching workforce not already part of the new scheme onto that scheme should be considered as a part of this process.”

The provocative paper suggests that because many senior teachers mentor and train new teachers, they should be made to undergo the same level of accreditation and ongoing training as those they supervise.


”Just as we want our students to be lifelong learners, the same applies to teachers,” the paper, Great Teaching, Inspired Learning, says. ”As in every profession, not every individual is able to sustain the quality and commitment necessary over time to remain in the profession.

”We need to find ways we can better support these teachers and still ensure every child is inspired by great teaching.”

Unlike those before them, all teachers accredited after October 2004 are required to undertake 100 hours of professional learning and must have their accreditation with the NSW Institute of Teachers renewed every five years.

The discussion paper says there are few financial or career rewards for teachers who undergo training at the highest levels.

”If we want more teachers obtaining higher levels of accreditation, we have to provide better professional and financial incentives for them to do so,” it says.

In NSW, 60 per cent of teachers in government schools are at the top of the teaching pay scale, most of whom have not been accredited.

The state government’s new Local Schools, Local Decisions policy will link salary progression to professional standards.

More than one in five people studying to become teachers this year had university entry scores of below 60.

The vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Greg Craven, said a debate about the quality of teachers is welcome but should not get bogged down by the entry scores to get into bachelor’s courses.

Entry to a bachelor of primary education at the university varies from 59.45 for the Canberra campus to 74.05 for the Sydney campus.

”ATARs (Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks) are statistically notoriously unreliable the moment you go under 90,” Professor Craven said.

”It’s very convenient to universities and to anybody who wants a nice easy way of assigning a number to a student but its accuracy … is weak and everybody knows that.”

The dean of education at the University of Canberra, Geoffrey Riordan, said he supported Mr Piccoli’s concerns about entry levels and said one method he championed was to move to a graduate model.

Greater incentives through better salaries and providing postgraduate professional development was also key to attracting high-quality students of teaching.

”The salaries for graduate teachers are comparatively high; the problem is seven or eight years into teaching,” he said.

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