Topic: Global

Humour: Tricky translation engines

Sense of humour required: Beware of translation engines!

21.02.2016

When looking for the easy way out, people come up with the most ludicrous of excuses to warrant their hornswoggle doing: house on fire, dog dead, car stolen, wrong place/time/mood, worst bad-hair day ever, princess all of a sudden. Once the procrastination pole has inevitably run out of length, the dreaded task just has to be tackled, no matter what. Translations, for instance, can develop into a painfully tedious exercise. Isn’t it perfectly legitimate then to employ one of those servile robots available online in order to alleviate detested assignments? It is – if you can live with the results. We have put some of these practical computerised interpreters to the test, feeding them with stretches of German articles published during the early stages of goodmeetings.com’s young history. The English-speaking majority of our readership will have to think in meanders to unravel and realign the contorted texts back to meaning. Even though some of the pidgin might remain a secret forever: as long as no-one has been harmed, reading complete nonsense once in a while can be a great pastime.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes
Buddha statues in South Korea

TED Talk. Daniel Levitin: How to stay calm when stressed

24.01.2016

You had a lousy night, overslept, cut yourself shaving, ripped off a button, left your flat in a flurry, forgot to grab the door key from the shelf, got stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the airport where you cannot produce your passport for check-in. You now realise, that you had placed it next to the keys on the shelf to remind you of putting both into your wallet … Mishaps like these tend to trigger a chain reaction, if not a vicious circle. Why? Because under stress, our brain releases cortisol, which disables logical thinking and leaves us disoriented in a blur. But we can train ourselves to plan ahead and to get more organised in our daily routine by utilising the power of our hippocampus. A „pre-mortem“ could also help minimise the damage – by anticipating what might happen before it actually does and by having a rescuing scenario ready. One that has been conceived in a calm and controlled situation.

“We all are going to fail now and then,” says Daniel Levitin, the neuroscientist. “The idea is to think ahead to what those failures might be.”

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Reading time: about 1 minute
A Clown Fish receiving massage by a sea anemone. Photo: Nick Hobgood.

TED Talk. Paul Greenberg: The four fish we are overeating

20.12.2015

“Grinding Nemo”

Overfishing is only half of the story, says Paul Greenberg in his talk. The other half is about the boom in fish farming and aquaculture, which – over the past year or two – has started to exceed the amount of wild fish produced. In America and a great part of the Western World, shrimp is by far the most consumed seafood. 5, 10, 15 pounds of wild fish – deemed trash fish by the fishing industry – are killed to bring one pound of shrimp to the market. Filmmaker Mark Benjamin called the phenomenon “Grinding Nemo“, when shrimp dredgers vacuum up a huge amount of bycatch, that is then minced and turned into shrimp feed. An „ecosystem literally eating itself and spitting out shrimp“. A recent study has found that dredging for shrimp represents one of the most carbon-intensive ways of fishing there is.

This talk is vital for sustainably thinking human beings, perhaps especially for those organising large dinner events by profession.

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Reading time: about 1 minute
Santa with his eight reindeer as seen by poet Clement Clarke Moor.

Ho ho ho: Good tidings from the North Pole

16.12.2015

It’s Christmas time, and most of us are sucked up by the current that swashes along with it. Year by year, it seems to be swashing earlier and to suck more. Easter rabbits have hardly vanished from shelves, August-heat blazing and: forward come chocolate Santa Clauses and gingerbread loaves, twinkling stardust-sprinkled Christmas balls and light chains. By October, carols obtrusively blaring from loudspeakers near and far have long lost their magic – and meaning. In November, commerce and media insist that it is high time for us to finalise our Christmas shopping, and we are constantly reminded of the Western-World citizen spending an average of 280 Euros on presents alone. Those who won’t comply, will forever be stigmatised stingy misanthropists, who – not even for the holiest of occasions – overcome their revolting parsimony.

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Reading time: about 6 minutes
Algorithm? The image shows balls resembling those used for the Bingo. The TED talk reveals that algorithms reigning the internet can be influenced by human users.

TED Talk. Andreas Ekström: The moral bias behind your search results

18.11.2015

This talk may be well equal to a harsh awakening for uncritical users of the internet! According to Swedish author and journalist Andreas Ekström, it is a philosophical impossibility to ever get unbiased search results. “Behind every algorithm is a person with a set of personal beliefs no code is ever able to eradicate completely.” He explains the power structures of the digital revolution by stating the example (a.o.) of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who blew up government buildings in the city of Oslo and killed a large group of kids on the island of Utøya. Around 80 people died that day in 2011. Specialists knew that the next thing Breivik would do was to google his own name, a predictable act of vanity. Nikke Lindqvist, a Swedish web developer and search engine optimization expert in Stockholm, understood that immediately and lanced a highly effective campaign. This video talk tells us that we are not helpless after all!

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Reading time: about 1 minute