Facebook could really use some Hebrew schooling

Back when I spent several months in Nepal with a bunch of Israelis, I wrote a post poking fun at said Israelis for not knowing the difference between Halloween and Christmas. I now understand that this was wrong. It is unreasonable to expect people to accurately tell holidays apart when they are celebrated primarily on the other side of the world. I know this because, well, check out the latest example of poor translation, courtesy of Facebook (but really Bing; click to embiggen):

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A tribute to Ron Swanson he most certainly would not endorse

A friend recently directed me to a Tumblrblog titled “Ron Swanson Says…”, and subtitled “The eternal wisdom of Ron Swanson”. The site hasn’t been updated for a while, but I still feel the need to comment on one of its more-recent posts. You can see the entirety of the post in question immediately following this colon:

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What it will take to prevent the next U.S. Airways Flight 1549

You know the name Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger, III, because of a bird. You might think it’s because he piloted his plane to a successful crash-landing on the Hudson River just over five years ago, but all that never would have happened had US Airways Flight 1549 not first struck a flock of Canada geese. Of course, 155 passengers and crew are alive today because of Sully’s skills and quick thinking, but those geese could have hit anybody, and I like to tell myself other pilots could pull off the same feat.

I hope to never learn to the contrary.

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Facebook might have an outsize impact on the Israeli election

Some Israelis have recently expressed concern over the fact that an organization that received funding from the U.S. State Department (among others) is seeking to affect the outcome of their country’s upcoming election. But there has been far less attention paid to the potential for interference of another sort by an arguably less-shadowy American organization: Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company announced yesterday that on the coming election day, users who list their location as Israel will see an “I Voted” button encouraging them to vote. The button was first introduced during the 2010 midterm elections in the United States, and a 2012 study published in Nature found that it induced more than 300,000 people to vote who might otherwise not have. Sounds great: More votes means more democracy and we like democracy.

Well, not necessarily.

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The real reason penguins can’t taste their food

Penguins have been making headlines all day thanks to the publication of a scientific study that showed they lack tastebuds for umami, which would allow them to taste the fish they eat. (Nor can they detect sweetness or bitterness, but that fact is less salient given their limited diets.) Indeed, nearly a quarter of penguin species (4/17) lack any tastebuds at all.

If you accept the theory that organisms evolve a sense of taste to reward them for eating the right thing, and thereby incentivize them to do it again, the absence of umami tastebuds is somewhat puzzling: how do fish know what to eat? The scientists who conducted the study do not offer any definitive conclusions, but do suggest a few possibilities:

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Who’s wiping Israel off the map now?: New York Times edition

In a recent post, I detailed how some people described the acquisition of Seamless in Kuwait (how clever) as the largest Middle Eastern exit since 2009. They forgot, of course, that Israeli startups routinely eclipse Talabat’s $170 million purchase price — or maybe excluding Israel from “the Middle East” was a conscious decision. Either way, they’re redrawing maps.

But those offenders are small potatoes (which you may presumably order on Talabat). This time, I’d like to call your attention to the pages of the New York Times. In yesterday’s column, Islam and the West at War, Roger Cohen described the current conflict between, well, Islam and the west:

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What we should have called the War on ISIS

Back in early October, Stephen Colbert (z”l) reported on the fact that two months into its war against ISIS, the U.S. military had yet to give the operation an official name. Or as he put it, “Nowhere has Obama been weaker than in the realm of strategic nomenclature.”

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Who’s wiping Israel off the map now?: Middle East tech sector edition

Those articles that appear on the front page of LinkedIn don’t always catch my eye, but when they do, they’re probably titled something like, “The Story Behind the Largest Internet Acquisition in Middle East History.” So it was that I found myself reading an article bearing precisely that title when I came across a rather remarkable claim:

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I’ve never been more disappointed in Russell Wilson, Part Two

Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell got most of the blame for the way this year’s Super Bowl ended, but since he was the one who actually threw the game-ending interception, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also managed to disappoint more than a few of his “fans”.

I chronicled numerous examples of that disappointment in the first installment of this series.

I, too, have been disappointed in Russell Wilson, but not because of his play on the football field. So this is the second in a series of short posts chronicling some of the reasons for my disappointment.

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A bit of Valentine’s Day advice from Mark Zuckerberg

The Facebook trend notification that inspired the present post actually appeared on my timeline last May, but since the lesson I think it conveys seems appropriate  to Valentine’s Day, I refrained from sharing it until now.

The lesson from Mark is really very simple:

Continue reading A bit of Valentine’s Day advice from Mark Zuckerberg