Assorted links

Every month I read tons of articles online and save the science ones for my monthly features. I happen to have found too many cool articles this month and since some of these aren’t science-article, I thought I’d throw in an assorted links posts for them. Here goes:

  •  Google gets involved in a lot of odd projects that on the face of it have little to do with their primary online search business. Well, this one may just be the oddest of them all. This article from The New York Times talks about how a Google laboratory cobbled together a machine-learning neural network from 16,000 processors and set it to the task of watching cat videos on YouTube. Result: a neural network that is really, really good at recognizing cats no matter what their size, shape or color and no matter what the cats are doing. Cue jokes about why Skynet wants to kill all humans.
  • The next article is notably mostly because of how well it lends itself to jokes. It’s America’s hottest new export and it’s man-made! Talk about gross national product! Erect a new future today! America is in good hands! Follow the link to this The Daily article to find out what it is.
  • Okay, so everyone know the Japanese are crazy about giant mecha but this post on the Anime News Network shows just how crazy that can be. Some quarters in the Japanese government are looking into the feasibility of building piloted walking combat robots and two members of the Liberal Democratic Party claim that they working to include realization of a Gundam Development Project into their manifesto.
  • This last one isn’t a joke and will likely be of interest only to Malaysians. The listing of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd. (FGVH), effectively the third largest oil palm company in the world, has hit headlines due to being the second biggest IPO this year, after Facebook. This investor’s report from a Netherlands-based analyst makes for an eye-opening read since it goes far beyond FGVH’s financials into the history of the Felda project, its links with key government officials and why the settlers are so opposed to the IPO. It basically tells global investors to stay away because it’s a gigantic scam due to poor expected returns and undisclosed political risks and further argues that investing in it would be unethical as the IPO directly undermines Malaysia’s fledgling democracy.

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