Twitter Digest: 2012-01-16

Normalization of Deviance and Cruise Ships

Good reading from New Scientist on Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster.

Why was this massive ship so close to shallow rock outcrops?

Mark Staunton-Lambert, technical director of the London-based Royal Institution of Naval Architects, says this is the main question investigators will want answering. GPS and sonar instruments should have warned of the danger, he says.

Why might the Costa Concordias depth-sounding sonar have been ignored?

Like aviation, seafaring is in the midst of major computerisation, with bridges in modern ships like Costa Concordia becoming “glass cockpits”. The transnational maritime trade union Nautilus International says that the technology at the heart of this – the Electronic Charts Display and Information System ECDIS, which marries GPS and seabed sonar data in one screen – can be a problem. First, it says that the data on seabed obstacles can be out of date; second, the system generates too many alarms that can lead mariners to ignore them. “The ECDIS screens are only as good as the data that goes into them,” says Nautilus spokesman Andrew Limington. “And there are major problems with their user interfaces and ergonomics.”

via How stable are cruise ships like the Costa Concordia? – tech – 16 January 2012 – New Scientist.

Twitter Digest: 2012-01-14

Paper: Stochastic modeling of a serial killer

Unsettling new paper:

Stochastic modeling of a serial killer

We analyze the time pattern of the activity of a serial killer, who during twelve years had murdered 53 people. The plot of the cumulative number of murders as a function of time is of “Devils staircase” type. The distribution of the intervals between murders step length follows a power law with the exponent of 1.4. We propose a model according to which the serial killer commits murders when neuronal excitation in his brain exceeds certain threshold. We model this neural activity as a branching process, which in turn is approximated by a random walk. As the distribution of the random walk return times is a power law with the exponent 1.5, the distribution of the inter-murder intervals is thus explained. We confirm analytical results by numerical simulation.

via [1201.2458] Stochastic modeling of a serial killer.

S&P 500 Forecasts vs Results

Good graphic from JP Morgan’s Cembalest’s latest report, showing the tenuous relationship between consensus S&P 500 forecasts ex ante, and subsequent ex post S&P results. Huge prize to anyone who can come up with one. A relationship, that is. [-]

Sp500 ante post

Twitter Digest: 2012-01-10

  • Serious private jet fest here at private jet parking end of Las Vegas's McCarron airport. Conspicuous CES consumption. ->
  • Photo set: America at work, from dot-coms to day labor – ->
  • Bryan Burrough in Vanity Fair on "Jon Corzine's Reckless Gamble" ->
  • New @wnycradiolab! Cruelty, violence, badness…our new episode "The Bad Show" is here! ->

Twitter Digest: 2012-01-08

  • TAL: Mr Daisey and the Apple factory ->
  • Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz: If I had a nickel for every time I've been doomed by a puppet, I would have two nickels. ->
  • Identifying the greatest ever team and captain – A complex network approach to cricket matches ->
  • "It's very likely that this has been the driest first week of January in U.S. recorded history" ->
  • Eye opening RT @nelderini: December 2011 jet stream pattern the most extreme on record h/t @ibc_fn ->

Top 5 Apps: Android vs IOS

From a Citi report today, the top five apps on Android vs IOS. Some similarities, but striking differences. [-]


  • Android Market
  • Gmail
  • Google Search
  • Facebook
  • Google Maps


  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Google Maps
  • Stocks
  • Game Center

Twitter Digest: 2012-01-05

Airline Safety Soars

According to new data, 2011 was the safest year in global commercial aviation history. Granted this had more to do with emerging markets than with the largest and oldest ones, but still noteworthy.


/via Economist