Archive for the 'economy' Category


Saturday, August 1st, 2015

I am quite shocked to hear that two bloggers from the blog netzpolitik, namely the here already mentioned Markus Beckedahl and the blogger André Meister were accused of treason for reports and the publication of some apparently classified information related to projects connected with a project called after the greek Perseus. The projects have amongst others a component which deals with the mass surveillance of social networks by german intelligence. Treason is to be punished with at least one year in jail if I understood correctly. I briefly read the various reports at netzpolitik (for time reasons in a rather diagonally manner) and I found nothing which could remotely justify such charges in my point of view. That is the presentations there describe a rough organistorial setup in which rather unspecified general tasks, like coordinization, consulting etc. are mentioned. The documents and reports thus give a very sketchy outline about the rough size and – in particular- costs of the projects (which seems to be rather of interest to the tax payer), but nothing really concrete.
The investigation is currently suspended and I hope that the charges will be dropped.

global warming didn’t stop

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Image from NOAA (public domain if I understood correctly)

Those who follow the randform posts closely know that Tim and me had worked on a visualization of a main collection of global temperature stations. It was used in a post on Azimuth – a blog which is mostly concerned with environmental topics and which is run by the mathematical physicist John Baez. In the post I reviewed the temperature data, which was used by the IPCC for their sofar published climate Assessment Reports up to AR4 in 2007. I left the conclusions about the investigated temperature records and their quality to the reader, but in the comment section I became a bit more “direct” and wrote:

Well every reader may judge him/herself by looking at the visualizations. If you want my opinion: I think this is rather catastrophic. In particular I wouldn’t wonder if the “global warming hiatus” is connected to the gaps.

The “global warming hiatus” or “global warming pause” is a finding that the global temperature rise has approximately paused since 1998 and hence by making this comment I questioned this “warming pause” or at least its shape. Unfortunately my suspicion has now been more or less confirmed. That is there global warming continues.

The article “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus” by Karl et al. Science 2015 0 (2015)” in the journal “Science” has unfortunately to be rented for the prize of 20$/day for reading (so I haven’t looked at it), but NOAA has a summary, where it is written:

“Adding in the last two years of global surface temperature data and other improvements in the quality of the observed record provide evidence that contradict the notion of a hiatus in recent global warming trends,” said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D., Director, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “Our new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century.”

About the newly included datasets it is written:

New analyses with these data demonstrate that incomplete spatial coverage also led to underestimates of the true global temperature change previously reported in the 2013 IPCC report. The integration of dozens of data sets has improved spatial coverage over many areas, including the Arctic, where temperatures have been rapidly increasing in recent decades. For example, the release of the International Surface Temperature Initiative databank, integrated with NOAA’s Global Historical Climatology Network-Daily dataset and forty additional historical data sources, has more than doubled the number of weather stations available for analysis.

I mentioned the International Surface Temperature Initiative (ISTI) in the Azimuth blogpost together with a citation from their blog:

The ISTI dataset is not quality controlled, so, after re-reading section 3.3 of Lawrimore et al 2011, I implemented an extremely simple quality control scheme, MADQC.

which doesn’t sound too great, if it comes to quality assessment.

But still: I suspect that the new temperature curves of that article match the real temperatures to a much better degree than the ones which were used for the IPCC reports until 2013.
It is though unfortunate that these new temperatures are not available, because I still have that suspicion that the role of methane in that warming trend is greatly underestimated and I still think it IS ULTIMATELY URGENT to investigate that suspicion. The exact shape of the curve would be rather important, because amongst others there was also a “hiatus” in the rise of methane and I think you can see that short pause in the above image.

Methane may however play eventually also a role in a way more dramatic environmental context. In my point of view that context should also be investigated URGENTLY, but it seems the view of methane is viewed controversely among climate scientists, at least Gavin Schmidt of the NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies blurrily expressed anti-alarmistic words in an interview with John H. Richardson from Esquire (Esquire link via John Baez) by saying that:

“The methane thing is actually something I work on a lot, and most of the headlines are crap. There’s no actual evidence that anything dramatically different is going on in the Arctic, other than the fact that it’s melting pretty much everywhere.”

Modische Maschen aus Marzahn-Hellersdorf

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Announcement on the door of Marie e.V.


meat mast

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

butchery goods

I had recently mentioned some practices in killing animals for meat production via socalled CO2 anesthesia. In this context it should be mentioned that there seem to exist also certain killing practices where the animal is not killed for consumption or disease prevention but in order to ensure something which some might interpret as “meat quality”.

There was recently an article in the german magazine Spiegel Online about a company here in Brandenburg which was in charge for duck mast. Activists had secretly filmed their practices. The breast of the specially fed ducks became so heavy that they partially couldn’t get back on their feet by themselves (warning: video behind the link). Moreover ducks which were not able to run fast and long enough (or which couldn’t get back on their feet by themselves) were slain with a pitchfork (warning: video behind the link). As the article says these marathon-slew practices seem to be illegal in Germany, but of course as one can see they seem to be not so easy to control, moreover there are countries where those practices seem to be legal.

As a matter of fact there seem to exist also cultural differences in mast practices. Like when I was working in Japan I met a woman from Bangladesh (a country which, as the reader probably knows, struggles with malnutrition and population growth), which did her Ph.D. on how to adjust nutrition for chickens in order to boost the size of chicken thighs, as apparently especially the thighs are very popular in Bangladesh. I didn’t ask her though about the use of tannery-scrap poultry feed because I didn’t know about this practice back then.

Exploring Climate Data (Part 3)

Friday, February 13th, 2015

The attentive randform reader knows (see posts here and here) that Tim and me did an interactive visualization in which temperature stations and their data from a socalled “CRUTEM 4 surface temperature data collection” where displayed on a globe. In the posts it was already found that the data collection “deteriorated” in the last years, i.e. that there were fewer and fewer temperature data, especially in certain regions, available. There is now a post on the blog Azimuth by me in which I give also an overview about other data sets and visualizations, in particular I refer also to all data sets which were used by the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their 4th assessment report, i.e. the report which was a major policy informer in the past recent years. In the blog post I just state what I have found and you can make up your mind about the state of data yourself. I state my opinion though in the comments to that blog post.

Lobetal – In food chains

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014



Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Title: “Kreative Mode beim Bedrockabgrundste-in”, oil on canvas, artist: Mudda Prahler

There was recently a post on Gamasutra with the title: Titanfall: Why Respawn is punishing cheaters. The computer game Titanfall is a First person shooter that can be played with a couple of people in one environment. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

Players fight either on foot as free-running “Pilots” or inside agile mech-style walkers called “Titans” to complete team-based objectives[2][3] on a derelict and war-torn planet[4] as either the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) or the Militia.[5]

I don’t know Titanfall (In general I have been playing first person shooters rather rarely) but what apparently happened was that there where too many people cheating in the game.

In the post it isn’t really described what exactly is implied by cheating, but what I refer from the “punishment” announcement, I think what was happening was that some people used game bots and in particular socalled aimbots, which are software solutions which make shooting easier in such a game. From the Titanfall announcement:

You can play with other banned players in something that will resemble the Wimbledon of aimbot contests. Hopefully the aimbot cheat you paid for really is the best, or these all-cheater matches could be frustrating for you. Good luck.

I was asking myself though wether this action is part of some viral marketing campaign. That is that some cheaters could think that it could be way cooler to “win the Wimbledon of aimbot contests” rather than the usual game. Given that Titanfall had however performance problems which as it seems where due to overloaded game servers and connections, it doesn’t though look as if this would improve with aimbot contests.

In this context:

In a citation about a report by a tech- and investment-advisory firm in the time article: The Surprisingly Large Energy Footprint of the Digital Economy

In his report, Mills estimates that the ICT system now uses 1,500 terawatt-hours of power per year. That’s about 10% of the world’s total electricity generation

The New York times article: Power, Pollution and the Internet remarks the following about e.g. US data centers:

Nationwide, data centers used about 76 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010, or roughly 2 percent of all electricity used in the country that year, based on an analysis by Jonathan G. Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University who has been studying data center energy use for more than a decade. DatacenterDynamics, a London-based firm, derived similar figures.

A summary of the last IPCC report about climate change and global warming.


In Berlin there is currently the International games week Berlin.

Surveillance surfing

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Glowlum tapping along a dull wire, artwork by Hucky Finn, oil on canvas, inspired by a photography by Baertels,

There have been quite some discussions here in Germany about the revelations about the surveillance of ordinary citizens and the protection of ordinary citizens data in general.


rapid static statistics

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

While updating my post about taxes in Greece and their semantic accessability, I looked at some current projects in “big data” and statistics and found an interesting application called Rapid Miner LOD Extension (I haven’t tried it though), which allows to do operations on linked open data (LOD) (see e.g. the european gateway to LOD) via the data mining program Rapid Miner.

The Rapid Miner LOD extension was amongst others used by the winners of the Semantic Statistics Challenge. The winner’s slideshare link hosts some examples, like maps which investigate the correlation between unemployment and police stations in France, which display a bit the capabilities of the involved programms and databases.

According to the notice “NBS signs data agreement with hi-tech firms” on Chinadaily there is also a lot going on in China:

The National Bureau of Statistics teamed up with 11 high-tech firms to use big data technology in the collecting, processing and analyzing of important statistics.


Under this partnership, the bureau and the 11 companies will co-develop a standard on how to use big data in statistics.

So it will be interesting to see wether some of this high tech data will enter the Linked open data pool and wether we will get to see soon some interesting visualizations of it.

price competition and sex work

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Price competition in a handicraft store

There is currently some debate here in Europe about how to deal with prostitution.