Archive for the 'economy' Category

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

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Aimbottleneck

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.

and:

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, www.plainpicture.com.

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.

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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.

and

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.
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Φορολογία – Forologia in Hellas

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

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About wood burning

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013


Waste disposal facility in Berlin. The german word “Entsorgung” means literally: getting rid of sorrows

John Baez has a new blog post about Europe using wood burning for energy generation. My comment to the blog post is rather detailled and it is also a comment to the currently ongoing debate in Berlin about how to organize its energy supply. This debate was initiated by the socalled Berliner Energietisch (unfortunately not yet in english) so I thought I should maybe post the comment also here.

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What’s Fukushima accident’s death toll?

Saturday, June 1st, 2013


“Meeresfürchte”, an artwork by Johann Merkewicz questioning food safety

I am currently have an argument with John Baez on Azimuth. My comment is currently awaiting moderation.

John wrote:

..the death toll due to nuclear power was a negligible fraction of the overall death toll due to the tsunami. The Japanese should be improving nuclear safety and building in better organizational checks and balances, rather than shunning nuclear power.

What do you call negligible?

According to Wikipedia there were 15883 confirmed earthquake/Tsunami related deaths and 2,676 people missing.

In an Bloomberg article by R.P. Gale and E. Lax one finds:

And what of the lasting threat from radiation? Remarkably, outside the immediate area of Fukushima, this is hardly a problem at all. Although the crippled nuclear reactors themselves still pose a danger, no one, including personnel who worked in the buildings, died from radiation exposure. Most experts agree that future health risks from the released radiation, notably radioactive iodine-131 and cesiums-134 and – 137, are extremely small and likely to be undetectable.

Even considering the upper boundary of estimated effects, there is unlikely to be any detectable increase in cancers in Japan, Asia or the world except close to the facility, according to a World Health Organization report.

On the website of the World Health Organization report one finds amongst others:

In terms of specific cancers, for people in the most contaminated location, the estimated increased risks over what would normally be expected are:

all solid cancers – around 4% in females exposed as infants;
breast cancer – around 6% in females exposed as infants;
leukaemia – around 7% in males exposed as infants;
thyroid cancer – up to 70% in females exposed as infants (the normally expected risk of thyroid cancer in females over lifetime is 0.75% and the additional lifetime risk assessed for females exposed as infants in the most affected location is 0.50%).

By this it looks indeed as if one wouldn’t see an increase of the overall cancer rate in all over Japan. However it is not said here what this means in absolute numbers. How many more cancer cases/deaths are there to be in total?

(This report is also cited by the german GRS report as “the” main source (see p.59) for the estimation of future health risks due to the Fukushima accident.)

In the above citation of R.P. Gale and E. Lax it is in addition mentioned that there were no deaths due to radiation exposure. World-nuclear.org (which I often cite, because they are rather pro-nuclear and often rather well-informed) seems to assert the same, they write:

There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident, but over 100,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes to ensure this. Government nervousness delays their return.

(please note that from this sentence it can be (and usually probably will be) ambiguously infered that “There have been no deaths from the nuclear accident…”, which is not true, please read further)

The assertion that there had been no deaths due to radiation (which is also cited as such on Wikipedia) is eventually based on a sofar unpublished study by UNSCEAR , which was mentioned in an article by Brumfield, who writes:

So far, neither operator seems to have suffered ill effects as a result of their exposure.

Furthermore it seems that the UN thinks there were 6 dead workers, who did not die from radiation.

I think this should be scutinized. In an email from Karl Feintuch at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commision (USNRC) (p. 76) (here another internet capture) it is reported that:

Japan reports 5 persons have received lethal radiation doses

but as he points out: there should be “caution regarding maturity and reliability of that information”. Furthermore Tepco reported at least one death, which sounds to me by the description very much radiation related (but this is only a Google translate):

For one person seriously injured who had been trapped in the tower crane cockpit of the exhaust tube,
Is transported to the ground from the tower crane in 13 minutes 5:00 pm today, died in 17 minutes 5:00 pm
Has been confirmed.

Moreover if you read reports as the article “Worker wants new government to secure safety at Fukushima plant” in Asahi Shimbun, than you may ask yourself how exhaustive and good is the monitoring of the health of workers at the Fukushima plant?

A TEPCO employee in his 20s who grew up in Fukushima Prefecture has become an opponent of nuclear power after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

“I was told to work at the plant like a kamikaze pilot,” said the man, who is evacuating from Fukushima Prefecture due to high levels of radiation he received. “I have no idea about how much radiation I was exposed to.”

What kind of treatment receive these workers who risk their health and lives for mitigating the effects of such a catastrophe?

But let’s have again a look on the overall mostly future expected casualities:

According to the study “Worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” by John E. Ten Hoeve and Mark Z. Jacobson (via Bloomberg.com)

We find that inhalation exposure, external exposure, and ingestion exposure of the public to radioactivity
may result in 15 to 1300 cancer mortalities and 24 to 2500 cancer morbidities worldwide, mostly in Japan. Exposure of workers to
radioactivity at the plant is projected to result in another 2 to 12 cancers cases.

So their “best estimate” as Evan Douple called it in the bloomberg article is about 130 deaths.

The Results were evaluated against daily worldwide Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) airborne radionuclide concentrations and deposition rates from around Japan.
Atmospheric and ground concentrations of iodine-131 (I-131), cesium-137 (Cs-137) and cesium-134 (Cs-134) were then used to estimate the worldwide health effects from the radioactive fallout

On a first glance into the paper it looks to me as if for example sea and groundwater contamination via the ongoing release of contaminated water and eventual future contaminations had not been taken into account.

The study
Accounting for long-term doses in “worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” Jan Beyea, Edwin Lyman and Frank N. von Hippel (via asianscientist.com) finds:

On balance, the net result of adjusting the TH&J numbers to account for long-term dose from radiocesium is uncertain, but the mid-range estimate for the number of future mortalities is probably closer to 1000 than to 125.

According to a report in Yomiuri Shimbun there are at least 537 deaths which had been certified by municipalities as a direct consequence of the Fukushima disaster.

So if one accepts a cancer related death toll of 1000 people (i.e. a higher but possible projection in the Ten Hoeve and Jacobson fallout study or the expected average toll in the Beyea, Lyman and von Hippel article) and if adds these the stress related 573 deaths one has currently a prognostized Fukushima accident death toll of about 1600 people.

This is roughly about one tenth of the casualties of the earth quake/Tsunami catastrophe. Is that negligible?!

Moreover the Fukushima air circulation blew about roughly 81% of the fallout onto the open sea. That means if the winds would have been blown onto land then this would have given at least a factor 5 more fallout on possibly populated land (if one assumes approximately equal population density). But if one takes into account that the wind almost never blew into south direction (eventual erranous personal observation) , i.e. almost never into the direction of the densely populated Tokyo area then it sounds cautious to assume a factor of ten for what the cancer rates could have been under different weather conditions. That is in that case the death toll could have been about as big as the death toll of the earth quake/Tsunami catastrophe.

And I don’t want to imagine the death toll which would have been a reality if additionally a criticality event would have turned into a chain reaction.