Friday, May 30, 2008

Irish Foreign Aid

Ireland has said it will give .7% of gdp to foreign aid by 2012. This will be about 1.4 billion dollars

So what can you do with 1.4 billion a year that will help the worlds poor the most? I believe Ireland should fight worms. Intestinal worms are a big easily fixed problem.
“Thirty percent of children in developing countries are moderately or severely undernourished, and nutritional supplements or treatments for intestinal parasites can be an inexpensive way to raise school attendance and increase physical and mental capacity.
Children who are better nourished in their first years of life stay in school longer and learn more each year they are there. In areas where malnutrition or worm infestations are common, nutritional supplements or treatments for intestinal parasites offer an inexpensive way to raise attendance and physical and mental capacity.

A school-based de-worming program in Kenya had even more remarkable results with benefits at least 450 times higher than the costs.
Most opportunities will not be as rewarding, but it is safe to assume the benefits are around 25 times higher than the costs in many cases. “

So the 1.4 billion a year spent of eradicating intestinal worms in third world children would be worth at least 35 billion to these countries.

Leishmaniasis, Trypanosomiasis and Malaria are other serious parasitic infections that are easily prevented. There is a description here on the effects of intestinal worms on children in the third world.

Worms are not sexy, you look up intestinal worms on google and the first site deals with pets. But if we give ourselves on achievable goal with our money, one that has proven huge benefits to people I think our money will be better spent then on many vague diffuse projects. Ireland got its snakes removed for us, why not become the country that removes the worms from everyone else?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Logic attack

Reasoning with First order logic can be hard
Unfortunately, a more complex algorithm can get caught in infinite loops that are known to be impossible to guard against completely. (to be more precise, it is NP complete)”

This means that is someone creates a new web app. “Do I really think this?” where you input your beliefs. “Grass is green” “cows eat grass”->output “Cows eat something that is green” you can attack it.
Denial of Service via Algorithmic Complexity describes Attacks“. Where by sending data that they know has worst case analysis time (eg. a sort in exactly the wrong order, entries that hash to the same bucket) an attacker can massively slow down your system.

First order logic decisions are NP-complete. In the same way as hash tables can be attacked if a system reasons about first order logic maliciously crafted inputs could be used to tie up the systems resources.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Everything Tube

Youtube takes in videos, allows you to easily add them to your blog. There is some searching and idiotic comments on the site but the big deal is

1. Take in data
2. Store it forever
3. Make it easy to embed in another website

What other kinds of data can this be done with?
1. Chess viewer
2. Chemicals viewer
3. Music
4. Other games draughts, dice games etc
5. Sound
6. Knitting patterns
7. Aresti aerobatic symbols
8. Dances
9. Motion/gesture
10. CAD
11. Electronic design
12. Crystallography
13. Knot diagrams
14. All sorts of physics notations. None of which I understand
15. weather data
16. Molecular biology
17. Biomedical data, ecg’s stuff like that
18. Astronomy
19. Astrology, tarot cards, homeopath recipes, crap like that
20. Surveys. Caves, mountain routes etc
21. Graphs. Google Chart kind of does this already.
22. Maths functions
23. Knowledge representation. Take in a decision tree in Yaml format and turn it into a visual tree graph.
24. Seismology

The idea is to make a "tube" website that takes in some data and makes it easy to add visualisations of it to your website. The data is already online, or at least easily placed online what youtube did was make it easily viewable. Searching on your tube website is important but the first thing to do is get it so people can show their data on their website. So what other "tubes" would be interesting/useful? Please comment your thoughts

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bizzarre fruit

I bought a dragonfruit the other week. The next day I bought another weird fruit and the next...Nature, capitalism and immigration have brought in loads of these weird fruits into Ireland. Things you could not have bought 5 years ago. The same has happened with beer and loads of other foods. There is something very simple about fruits though, you just cut them open and eat no preparation is needed. You also realise that this is just how nature produced it with almost all other products are massively processed. So I have started a weird fruit odyessey, it is a small quest but it is fun.

Here is what I have tried so far
Sapodilla is like a sweet dry pear
Cherimoya is like a creamy melon
Sharon fruit- really nice
Dragon fruit
passion fruit
figs- Fig rolls really do a lot with their core ingredient
Giant Chinese pear
Chow chow -I have no idea what this is but it tassted like it needed to be cooked
sour mango
prickly pear- First cactus I have eaten
Guava-Melon like not that guava tasting

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ulysses Pact 2

The medical definition for this is
Ulysses Contract
Declarations by patients, made in advance of a situation in which they may be incompetent to decide about their own care, stating their treatment preferences or authorizing a third party to make decisions for them. (Bioethics Thesaurus)
This paper discusses the issue in relation to mental health.

How bound are you to your past self? Could you shoot the 50 year old conservative who as a tied dyed in the wool hippy 30 years previously wrote “If I ever vote republican please kill me”? If you are not bound to a contract by yourself of many years ago then how come there are 30 year mortgages?

There is a website here. Where people put quantifiable ambitions out in public. Keep wight below X, Make Y steps every day things like that. Are there common usages for Ulysses Contracts (not just the current cognitive health ones) that you could provide on another website? Is there a measurable way people change their thinking in response to an event that they could agree before the event to avoid?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ulysses Pact

Some time in the future you might be crazy. You might decide to scupper your boat on some rocks because some moistened bint persuades you to. Now if you tell people to ignore you when you go crazy you have entered a Ulysses pact.
An example of this is someone making a living will in case they get dementia or car crashed into a coma where they won’t really be able to make decisions for themselves anymore. But what other events lead to known changes in cognition?

How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers' Voting on Women's Issues "Parenting an additional female child increases the propensity of a member of Congress to vote liberally on women's issues, particularly reproductive rights."”
Could conservative voters enter into a Ulysses pact with a politician that if he has a female child he cannot alter his votes on reproductive rights? I am not saying here that liberalising your opinion on this topic is a bad idea just that it may not match the preferences of those who voted you into office.

Kuhn was of the belief that old scientists never really accepted new theories and in fact delayed the acceptance of new ideas. A Ulysses pact of “ignore the old people who invented the last theory” is probably too vague.

In what other areas do people bias their decision making in response to certain events?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The return of smoking

Tobacco Farming
Projected employment decline: -18.6%
Projected revenue decline: -16.9%
Projected output decline: -11.7%
Pity America's tobacco farmers. First they weather the decline in smoking among U.S. consumers, now they face lower prices from foreign competitors. The Feds dropped tobacco-price supports in 2005, forcing farmers to diversify or find another line of work.
The economic projections continue on an abysmal trend: From 2000 to 2007, tobacco farming revenue fell by more than 50% as output declined by 41.6%. If only tobacco farmers could find a way to convert their crop to ethanol ... “

What if smoking was not bad for you? Or at least not as bad.

For example, a 1998 Lantz, et al. study in the Journal of the American Medical Association of 3,600 adults over 7.5 years found large and significant lifespan effects: a three year loss for smoking”

Three years is less then I would have thought, what if this was reduced further. Say three reasonably unlikely things happen

1. Smoking + Virus causes cancer. HPV and measles are linked to lung cancer. “While the specific viruses at issue -- human papillomavirus (HPV) and measles -- may not directly cause lung cancer, they seem to aggravate the negative impact of tobacco, American and Israeli researchers say” Then if we prevent measles and HPV infection this might reduce lung cancer rates.

2. Radiation
In a person smoking 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes per day, the radiation dose to the bronchial epithelium in areas of bifurcation is 8000 mrem per year -- the equivalent of the dose to the skin from 300 x-ray films of the chest per year. This figure is comparable to total-body exposure to natural background radiation containing 80 mrem per year in someone living in the Boston area.”

This mp3 talks about how much radiation you get from smoking in comparison to eating bananas and other dangerous activities

The theory is that the phosphorus fertilizer used on tobacco is radioactive and breathing this in is bad. Maybe organic tobacco will be less unhealthy?

4. Genes
First-degree relatives of lung cancer patients have a 2 to 3.5 times greater risk of developing lung cancer than the general population, and tobacco smoke plays a major role, even among those with a genetic predisposition” Genetic testing is halving in costs each year. So testing to see if someone is susceptible to lung cancer should get quite cheap quite soon. You could probably get an accurate test by asking “has any of your blood relatives died of lung cancer before the age of 70?” If the answer is yes make it more difficult for this person to smoke. This would reduce the amount smoking takes off the average lifespan.

I do not smoke and I always assumed less and less people will smoke in future. I could be wrong though. If smoking is made less dangerous it could become more popular again.