Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Analysis of the Spotify business model

An analysis of the economics of Spotify reveal its not as artist friendly as previously believed.

Behind the music: The real reason why the major labels love Spotify | Music | guardian.co.uk
No wonder the majors speak so highly of Spotify – they receive 18% of shares in the online streaming service. It's justy a pity that artists won't get to see any of this

The mathematical model for a zombie attack.

Convincing, although unsurprising, results from guys who know how to model infectious disease.

Marginal Revolution: Mathematics of a Zombie Attack
Zombies are a popular figure in pop culture/entertainment and they are usually portrayed as being brought about through an outbreak or epidemic. Consequently, we model a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie movies. We introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. We then refine the model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but not infectious, before becoming undead.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scary Editorials about Health Care

TalkingPointsMemo captured a truly ironic editorial over at Investor's Business Daily, before it was patched up (the evidence is still in Google's cache).  The editorial was highly critical of the proposed U.S. health care reform legislation.  Since reform is not expected to be a "good thing" for investors if it passes, we can understand their point of view.

Instead of pointing out the financial risk to investors, however, they decided to scare people by warning that the bill would usher in the same terrifyingly low level of health care quality as is available in the U.K. 

They went a little over the top, though, when they suggested that Stephen Hawking would have perished of neglect under the U.K.'s health care system.   Hawking is, of course, a Commander of the British Empire and has held the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge (Isaac Newton's old job) since 1979.

Don't Need To Be a Rocket Scientist | TPM
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

Friday, August 7, 2009

14,000 year old map discovered

World's oldest map: Spanish cave has landscape from 14,000 years ago - Telegraph
A stone tablet found in a cave in Abauntz in the Navarra region of northern Spain is believed to contain the earliest known representation of a landscape.

Engravings on the stone, which measures less than seven inches by five inches, and is less than an inch thick, appear to depict mountains, meandering rivers and areas of good foraging and hunting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Associated Press wil give you a license to quote Thomas Jefferson.

Yet another reason why newspapers are utterly doomed.

Associated Press will sell you a license to quote the public domain - Boing Boing
I picked a random AP article and went to their "reuse options" site. Then, when they asked what I wanted to quote, I punched in Thomas Jefferson's famous argument against copyright. Their license fee: $12 for an educational 26-word quote. FROM THE PUBLIC FREAKING DOMAIN, and obviously, obviously not from the AP article. But the AP is too busy trying to squeeze the last few cents out of a dying business model to care about little things like free speech or the law.

Hacking Life

Here you go.

 J. Craig Venter, genetic entrepreneur extraordinaire, points out that the efficiency of sequencing genomes has recently outstripped Moore's law for computers by about an order of magnitude for the last four years.  Given that pace... do you think that natural or artificial intelligence will be getting the next big upgrade? 

Synthetic Life - TierneyLab Blog - NYTimes.com
The rate at which this technology is now improving puts silicon to shame. Dr. Church noted that between 1970 and 2005 gene sequencing had taken place on a Moore’s Law pace, improving at about 1.5 times per year. Since then it has improved at the rate of an order of magnitude, or ten times annually.

Amelia Earhart

 A new expedition hopes to use modern DNA analysis to confirm the last location of the famed aviator.

Solving the mystery of how aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared | World news | The Observer
Gillespie said that modern DNA analysis techniques meant that any other human artefacts recovered could now be swabbed for the tiniest traces of DNA and compared to the Earhart family sample. His team will be looking for traces of mitochondrial DNA, which breaks down less easily than the chromosomal DNA of a cell's nucleus.